Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~Where's Summer?

There is a distinct fall chill in the air in Western Washington this week. Kind of a hard pill to swallow since summer really just started about a month and a half ago. I love fall though. In fact back in Louisiana it was my absolute favorite time of the year. Now that I live out here its kind of a toss up between seasons. Winter you can throw out, but spring, summer and fall all have their merits. So I won't pout too much about fall being here early and maybe we will have a revival of summer soon! The yard is feeling it though. One plus is that the vegetable garden is finally giving back a little. A modest harvest though...VERY modest! But pretty :-)

I've never grown potatoes before, but thought I'd give it a shot. The purple potatos are the babies of one I got in my biweekly organic veggie box. Aren't they just the prettiest shade of purple? Almost metallic!

And all groovy tie dye inside

I cooked them up with some green beans - I boil them together, then make kind of a hash of it in a skillet with a little bacon and onions. Yum Yum Yum. Ignore the shoe leather next to it. I overcooked just a tiny bit. Blame it on my stupid temperature Redifork that doesn't like being submersed in dishwater. Hey..don't laugh. I depend on that much that I bought a replacement.

So lets take a little late summer garden tour. The lawn is still looking nice, although our watering bill has been incredibly low this summer.

This is the time of year that the Blue Beard (Caryopteris) is at its peak and covered in bees.

I believe this variety is called 'Dark Knight'

The zinnias I planted a month or so ago are really looking beautiful

I had to battle the slugs who apparently find them tasty. But for now I'm winning.

I'm loving this little geranium in one of the pots by the door. I just have a weak spot for red with white flowers

I had to cut my little mini red rose way back and its starting to bloom again. I've been told its Red Sunblaze but I really have no clue.

Some of the clematis, including the one at the front door (clematis frontdoorius so named by Randy). It looks pretty mingling with the hydrangea which is a pinkish purple.

Heading around to the back....My little raspberry patch in the alcove on the right is ready to go to sleep for the year. The yield was not as much as last year but still plenty for me to snack on. I love picking them and popping them right into my mouth. They rarely make it into the house.

I don't have the heart to move this cute little nasturtium growing up the leg of the bench.

On the right the daisies are blooming. They were so very slow to open this year.

At the arbotr the tall sedums are beginning to open. I hope they hurry because I love the combination of this one and the white wood aster that is already blooming

Climbing up the arbor is this cute little fuchsia

Just around the corner from the arbor is my Nelly Moser clematis that is having a second bloom too. Not quite as big as the first time, but somehow more colorful.

Another sure sign of fall coming to my garden is the obedient plant starting to bloom. Its not really the most obedient of plants though and tends to grow a little wild. You can turn the little flower petals though and they will stay in place, hence the name.

This pretty yellow rose hasn't really stopped blooming this summer.

The bee balm is all but finished. There are still a few blooms hanging on, but I cut a lot back this weekend.

There's lots more sedum gearing up to bloom. This one is close.

This one not as close, but the bees aren't waiting

They just love this stuff

This one has a darker bloom

The phlox is still phloxing

Abraham Darby looks pretty in front of this light purple swirly one. Smells amazing too!

This later blooming campanula trachelium is kind of a weedy little plant that I try to rip up because it spreads, but what I leave to bloom is a pretty color and the bees love flying into the blooms

We are really reaching the end of daylily season except for the Stellas which are having a revival. This ditch lily is pretty against the bright pink of the phlox

Another bee...I tell you they are VERY busy in my yard at the moment

A little late for 4th of July, but a little red white and blue in the border

My last phlox to bloom, Mt. Fuji. It starts as my other white, David is ending.

The hardy fuchsia is looking really sweet right now

And a couple of annuals to round out the tour

Nothing like a geranium for bright summer (and fall) color.

I'll end with a mosaic made up of pics I took at the The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire last weekend. It's a relatively new event that takes place at a farm in Buckley, Washington not that far from me. Its a fun time..and great for people watching. Doesn't the knight in chain-mail with his shades on make you laugh? At least he was serving his fair maiden.

I'm joining in for Mosaic Monday at Little Red House this week

And at Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage for the first time.

Have a great week everybody!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flashback Friday ~Family Staycation

It's hard for me to believe, but its been a year since several of my family came to visit us last summer. I loved having them all here at the same time. Like a vacation for me at my own house :-) We did a lot of traveling and saw some great sights, but the part I loved the best was being together with them. I took about 1000 pictures that week and I could flashback to some beautiful scenery, but instead I'm flashing back to some smiley happy feel good family photos. See how smiley I was :-)

The trip was planned for my sister's 50th birthday present to herself. She wasn't here on her birthday, but we did get to celebrate our family friend, Cathy's birthday while they were here. Here we are in Port Townsend a cute Victorian town at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula celebrating.

We had some good meals while they were here, but this was my favorite meal the whole time. Ham sandwiches on white bread at a picnic bench by the ocean. It was just one of those warm fuzzy moments for me!

Here are the two birthday girls at the top of the Space Needle

And the three of us standing in front of Mount St. Helens

This is one of my favorite pictures of the week...the girls at the base of the largest Spruce tree in the world.

And posing alongside another giant tree..this one fallen

This one of my Dad in the Hoh Rainforest makes me laugh

We took an awesome Whale watching trip

Lots of photo ops as you can tell by the cameras at the ready!

I hope one day we can do a repeat because I'm ready!

If anyone else has a flashback they want to share please add your link below. It can be a flashback to anything...a favorite recipe, vacation, photo, pick!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~Hydrangeas and Blackberries

I know I've been talking about it for what seems like weeks, but the blackberries are REALLY ready now :-) 8 cups picked in about 15 minutes! I love it. So I do have plans to make some of the expected jelly and pies...can't do without those! But I've also been looking for some other things to do with my abundance. I was searching salads and when I hit on this Blackberry Chicken Salad I knew I had to try it.

This is apparently the signature salad at an Atlanta restaurant called Sycamore Grill. I have never been there, but I guarantee you that if I ever find myself there I"ll be ordering this salad.

This recipe is really three in one and you could make only one or all three and not go wrong, but I'd suggest at least making the chicken salad part...I almost stopped there when I tasted how good it was. But if you have time go for all three. The dressing for the greens is wonderful and I have plenty left over for future salads. And the nuts will be great later on some ice cream.

Blackberry Chicken Salad
From Sycamore Grill, Atlanta
Found HERE at

For the caramelized walnuts:
1 pound (about 4 cups) walnut pieces (I used pecans because I'm a pecan kinda girl)
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt

For the chicken salad:
2 pounds skinless and boneless chicken tenderloins
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 cups diced celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 (12-ounce) bag frozen
blackberries, thawed (fresh works too!)
Salt and pepper

For the blackberry vinaigrette:
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh minced shallots
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salad oil
8 cups mixed greens

To make the caramelized nuts: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, combine nuts, cinnamon, sugar and salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the liquid from the nuts and pat dry. Place nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crunchy, tossing after 10 minutes for even cooking.

To make the chicken: In a saucepan, poach chicken until just cooked through. Cool and dice. Mix with green onions and celery. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, honey and mustard. Add the blackberries. Gently add blackberry mayonnaise to chicken, just until moistened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the vinaigrette: In a small saucepan, bring wine, sugar, mustard, garlic and shallots to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for 5 minutes, or until reduced. Transfer mixture to a blender and add vinegar, blackberries, honey and salt and pulse to combine. Slowly add the oil, while the blender is running, to emulsify.
Toss mixed greens with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Top with a scoop of chicken salad and sprinkle with caramelized nuts. I halved the recipe and it made 2 very large main entree salads or 4 smaller side salads.

For my Mosaic Monday contribution I did this Lacecap Hydrangea mosaic showing it from bud to bloom. I'm always amazed at the end product :-) Check out all of the other great mosaics HERE at Little Red House.
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