Category: Gardening

Hope springs eternal.

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We have had a TON of rain over the last week or so, making my new herbs and vegetables quite happy.

(I’ve been checking my toes, daily, to make sure they are not webbing!)

Apparently, our part of Texas is predicted to have an unusually wet April and May.

Not a bad thing, as we are still recovering from a drought.

(I’ll try to remember, fondly, the rain, come June, July and August…)

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As you can see, above, the rain has compacted the dirt and allowed the, uh, numerous rocks to be revealed.

(We used some extra dirt we had out at the ranch (apparently rocky dirt), but made sure to amend it with plenty of mushroom compost.)

The plants don’t seem bothered by the little rocks, so I guess I’ll quit worrying about it.

(It’s just not as pretty as clean dirt.)

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Above: purple pole beans–can’t remember their name!–watermelon (or cantaloupe, maybe), and bush beans.

(If I find that I have super, great success with any particular veggie, I’ll be sure to list the names and varieties in a later post.)

Both vegetables and herbs appear to be sprouting and growing well.

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Oh, goodness, you have no idea how happy that makes my heart.

I am always so hopeful and excited at this stage of the game.

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Over in the large garden plot, the corn and Kentucky Wonder pole beans are also beginning to stretch upward.

(I used the little orange flags to help me keep track of where I planted seeds–they’re a cheap and convenient way to warn me not to walk on the baby seeds and seedlings.)

I have watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, and some tomato plants in this big garden plot.

Oh, and if my watermelons produce as I hope they will, I will be able to provide the world with watermelons all summer long!

(I may have overdone it with the watermelons…once they start growing and spreading, I’ll take pictures…I’m scared they may take over our backyard and pasture…)

(We’ll be in trouble if the cows and Abner, our donkey, eat watermelons!)

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Marigolds are supposed to be excellent companion plants for all veggies.

They’re heat tolerant, once established, which we need here in Texas.

Plus, they add color and attract pollinators.

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Who knew having a garden could bring such joy?

New beginnings.

Such potential.

Renewed hope.

It’s not too late to plant a few seeds in some dirt, y’all!

I promise you, you will not regret it.

Happy gardening!
E.

 

 

 

 

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Spring 2015 Gardening

This Spring, I decided to go a different route and try my hand at raised beds.

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My sweet, handyman of a husband built these awesome beds and I am already loving them!

I like the rustic look of these beds…rusty tin recycled from the ranch, and rough-hewn cedar lumber.  

I’m hoping, by having smaller, raised beds, I’ll have larger output of vegetables.

(Fingers crossed.)

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The plan is to use these beds for herbs and more compact vegetable plants, while using the original garden plot for corn, beans, squash and watermelons.

You know, the plants that like to wonder and spread out.

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Okay…I do plan to put a couple green and purple pole beans in these boxes to climb on the trellis.

I love having a pretty trellis in the garden, even in raised beds.

(See our sweet pet cows and donkey?!)

(Have I told you ThrillCam doesn’t really like it when I call them our pets?)

I’m sort of bummed I didn’t ask ThrillCam to take some “how-to” pictures for me.

Pictures would have shown how he put a floor about 18′ down, in each box, so we didn’t have to fill the entire box with dirt and compost.

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And, believe you-me, we shoveled in plenty of dirt and compost!

I can’t imagine having to completely fill each box.

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(Okay…HE shoveled the majority of the dirt…”and I helped!”)

(A little.)

(I really did shovel some! I have the very sore shoulders to prove it!!)

Fine.

(Does it count that I’m the one who will tend to the garden, though?)

 

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Actually, I think we make for a good team!

I’ll be sure to give updates on what veggies and herbs I’ve planted and how they do.

Happy Spring, y’all!

E.

 

 

 

Hello, friend.

Has it been nearly two years??

A lot has happened in those two years…mainly adjusting to country life is what has happened.

And, loving on and serving with our neighbors.

And, watching a ton of Baylor football (and basketball).

And, purchasing some cows.

And a donkey.

And, planting a garden (or two).

And, watching our oldest change colleges and majors…and join the wake boarding team.

And, cheering on our youngest in high school football…and soon, soccer.

I’ve missed occasionally writing and photographing the happenings around our family, so I’m hoping 2015 will be the year I get back in the habit…if you’ll have me back in your email box and on your FB newsfeed, that is.

Because we are wrapping up the last little bit of 2014 (say it ain’t so!!), I thought I’d throw out a couple of pictures of what I mentioned above. A lot of the pictures were taken with my iphone…”the best camera you own is the one you are presently carrying…”and I carried my phone WAY more than my “big boy” Canon camera. (That’s another habit I hope to change in 2015.)

Some happenings in 2014!

Some happenings in 2014!

More to come!

(I’ve missed you.)

E.

Zucchini Muffins

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Do you recall the zucchini growing in my garden?

Let me remind you…

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I don’t think the picture does it justice.

Imagine a hand at the end of that thing and you’ve got my arm.

(Except my arm is not as smooth and it jiggles more.)

But, just imagine, okay?! (Not my jiggly arm…the zucchini with a hand…wait.)

I wasn’t real sure the zucchini would taste all that great once I actually tried to cook it. So, someone on Facebook suggested I use the big zucchini for bread.

Good idea!

So, I made muffins.

I’m a rebel like that.

“You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.”

Name that movie.

Has nothing to do with zucchini.

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I used an extremely easy recipe on AllRecipes.com.

I, of course, tweaked the recipe.

(We’ve already established my rebel-ness.)

For example, it called for 3 cups all-purpose flour, I used 1 cup all-purpose, the rest whole wheat flour.

The recipe called for 1 cup vegetable oil.

I used 3/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. (Some people suggested, in the reviews of the recipe, to use a portion of apple sauce to cut down on the oil, but I didn’t have any on hand. So, I tried using a healthier oil.)

I sifted together all the dry ingredients, except the sugar.  Then, I added the sugar into the oil, eggs and vanilla (above) and beat them until creamy.

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Next, I poured the dry ingredients into the wet and mixed those thoroughly.

(I didn’t take every single step pictures. I’m too messy, I usually forget, and don’t like to get my camera all sticky. Plus, the lighting in my kitchen is icky.)

Finally, I dumped 2 cups of grated zucchini and 1 cup chopped walnuts into the bowl and mixed it up.

Hey!

Notice that cute spatula/scraper/thingy I have!

See it below?

It’s shaped just like a baseball bat!!!

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(My sweet friend Julie R. gave it to me. We’ve only been friends for a short while, but she already knows me well!)

I baked the muffins with the convection oven for about 15-20 minutes or so at 325 degrees. But, the recipe calls for a much longer baking time of 40-60 minutes for a loaf or two of bread.

(Loaf. What an odd word. Say it a couple times real fast and it starts sounding weird… loafloafloafloafloaf… See what I mean?)

Boy, am I happy I made these into muffins, though! Bread would have been super, too.

What I like about this recipe is that it is not too terribly sweet. But, will certainly scratch that itch, if you’re hankering for a little sweet something.

(Oh! And, if you chop the walnuts small enough your non nut-eaters will never know they’re in there.)

I like them in there. They add a certain…um… nuttiness to the recipe.

ThrillCam gave his seal of approval–he confirmed that I put zucchini in them, because he said you couldn’t taste it at all.

Score!

A sorta sweet, sorta healthy muffin that even your kids (and your hubby) will like…you could re-name them if need to.

Take out the zuchhini part and just call them Magnificent Morning Muffins!

After they’ve scarfed down 3 or 4, then you can tell them there are veggies inside! (Or, just wait a couple years until they can handle the truth.)

By the way, you can freeze the bread/muffins for a quick breakfast or snack.

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You really should give these a try, especially this summer, while the fresh zucchini are plentiful!

And HUGE!

Enjoy!

E.

ZUCCHINI MUFFINS/BREAD

Adapted from Mom’s Zucchini Bread in AllRecipes.com submitted by v monte.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour (or all 3 C. can be all-purpose flour)

1 t. salt (I used Morton’s LiteSalt)

1 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

3 t. ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 C. vegetable oil (or coconut oil)

2 1/4 C. sugar (I think I used much less than that)

3 t. vanilla extract

2 C. zucchini, grated

1 C. walnuts, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325*

2. Spray with non-stick spray, or grease and flour muffin tins or two 8×4-inch pans.

3. Sift together flour(s), salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.

4. Beat the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until creamy.

5. Gently fold in the zucchini and walnuts.

6. Pour or scoop batter into prepared pans.

7. Bake loaf pans for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. (Or, if making muffins, in regular oven, bake for about 20-30 minutes.) (Or, if making muffins in a convection oven, bake for about 15-20 minutes.)

Gardeners: Help Wanted!!

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Why does my corn look like this?? Where did I go wrong?

Each piece I pulled and shucked, had rotten spots at the top, where the silks come out. And, as I pulled off the husks and removed the silks, it was obvious not all the kernels developed.

And, here I thought my corn was going to be my winner this year…

Oh!

Another thing:

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What caused this on my beautiful tomato? A bug, or the heat?

What say you, oh wise and experienced gardeners?

Wait.

I’m not done yet.

I mean, if I’m going to ask for help, I’m going to put it all out there.

I’m being transparent, folks.

My gardening pride will not hold me back.

I am willing to learn!!

Teach me, Gardening Gurus!

This.

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Again, heat?

Poor little watermelon…

OR, do you think water sat on it too long?

Help, wise ones!

(Yes, I promise I took that rock out.)

One more request:

Why am I not getting any green beans?

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I see tons of sprouts/buds of green beans, but when I look for fully grown beans, there are none to be found. I think in all this time, I’ve seen THREE whole beans.

Is this my culprit?

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(Do you know how hard it was to snag a shot of this little bugger? He would quickly scoot around the stick every time I’d get a good view of him…those stinking big bug eyes…I just know he’s guilty of something…)

Okay.

There you have it.

Bring it on, give it to me, be honest.

Practice some tough gardening love on me.

I can take it.

Love,

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Baseball

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Did you know that there are MILLIONS of little black balls of rubber embedded in field turf ? (Did you know there’s a difference between field turf and Astroturf? Astroturf was first invented for the Astrodome in Houston, Tx. They are both synthetic fibers, but Astroturf was inflexible and caused many injuries. Field turf has been improved over the years and the use of the rubber balls–and sand–help to prevent injuries.)

I knew the tiny bits of rubber existed due to the time I’ve spent on football sidelines, but it wasn’t until I was down flat on the fake grass to grab the above picture that I truly understood just how abundant the black stuff was.

I still have imprints on my legs where the black stuff dug into and stuck to my skin.

The good thing, it camouflaged the cellulite.

Sort of.

Okay, not really. It only lodged itself into the cellulite making it that much harder to remove the dag-blame stuff.

According to eHow, the pellets are made from frozen rubber tires.

Well, here, you can read for yourself:

  • When you play on, or carefully inspect FieldTurf, it’s easy to notice a number of small, black pellets that sit below the surface of the synthetic grass. These black pellets are loose, and as you run on the FieldTurf, your feet will flip them up into the air. The pellets are made of cryogenic rubber and are a vital part of the infill structure of FieldTurf. The rubber pellets used in FieldTurf are environmentally friendly. They are produced from recycled tires that are frozen through a cryogenic process. While frozen, the tires are broken into the small pellets that will eventually end up in the FieldTurf.  —eHow.com

ThrillCam spent quite a bit of time and energy acquiring the turf that had been removed from a high school football field somewhere in Texas.

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We were thrilled the previous owners of our new house built a rather large metal building on the property because the front section was just the right length for a batting cage, which both of my boys (and a couple neighbor friends) have put to good use.

Getting the turf TO and INTO the building required an act of Congress; it took multiple days, the use of the tractor, and numerous strong-bodied males to move and roll it into place. (ThrillCam had to cut it into smaller pieces just to be able to lift and move it–with the TRACTOR! It was extremely heavy.)

Then, after the turf was put into place and glued down, the little black pellets had to be spread around to provide spring and cushion.

You can barely see, but to the left of the cage (in the above photo), there are buckets and bags against the wall. See them? Left-over pellets. Extra. Lots. (There are a few mounds of the stuff on outside the building, as well.)

The pellets are environmentally friendly, in that they are made from recycled tires, but, honestly, they will never go away. Ever.

I considered using the extra around my garden as a type of mulch, to prevent weeds growing around the edges. Seemed like a great idea, initially, but, I’ve decided against that because they would eventually make their way into the garden soil, which doesn’t sound beneficial to my tomatoes. (And, we know how much trouble I’ve had in the past growing tomatoes….)

Anyway, we are happy to have the turf, the millions of rubber balls, and the batting cage, because our family loves baseball.

Baseball–actually, any sport–is a great metaphor for life, in so many ways.

Like the Babe Ruth quote I put on the top photo–it applies to all of us whether we play baseball or not.

Every strike can bring us closer to our next home run.

So get out there and start swinging!

Eventually, we will hit a home run!

(Just don’t fall while running the bases–I’m still picking little black pellets out of unmentionable places….)

E.

A Creative Challenge

My go-to lens of choice is my Canon 70mm-200mm.

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I use the lens for just about everything.

For example, I can shoot portraits.

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(Look at the good-looking guy!!! I’m missing my oldest punk! Waaaahhhhhhh!!! He’s off playing summer college baseball…I can’t wait to see him play in a couple of tournaments closer to home in a few weeks.)

This lens also allows me to get up close and personal for sports and action shots.

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(That’s my youngest punk who is also playing summer baseball. Thankfully, he’s playing on a local summer select team. He still sleeps in his own bed in his own room. Which means, I still have to go upstairs occasionally and remind him to clean up after himself. I’m sure, one day, I will miss having to tell him to clean up, but right now, not so much.)

Look at the bokeh (the blurry background) the 70mm-200mm gives me.

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See how the plant is isolated and the back- and foregrounds are blurred and creamy? (Photoshop was not used on the above photo, except to create the frame, add my watermark, and to lower the resolution for the internet.)

The 70-200 is my most favorite lens, ever.

Yes, it is large.

And, yes, it’s on the heavy side, sort of. (I’m used to it, so it doesn’t really bother me.)

I know the lens inside and out.

It’s my go-to lens, and, because it’s my go-to lens, I rarely use my other lenses, which is a shame.

I don’t know them quite as intimately and I find myself frustrated when I use them–they are slow, or cumbersome, or too small, or too wide, or too whatever.

So, I’ve given myself a challenge: I’m going to use a different lens over the weekend, exclusively (with the exception of my son’s baseball tournament–I’m trying to build my sports photography business in this new area, so I need to use my 70-200mm).

I’ll report back to you next week with some samples of my work.

I’d also like to issue YOU a challenge. If there is an area of your creative life that needs a little practice or a boost, I challenge you to work on that this weekend.

Is there a particular knitting stitch (stitch?? pearl??) you want to try?

Are you more comfortable using oil paints but would like to improve in water colors?

Do you want to learn to play a new song on the guitar that requires you to learn a new technique or riff?

I don’t know! Just pick something creative you need to improve upon and go for it! Let’s do this together! (I want to hear what you worked on over the weekend, by the way! I expect a full report on my update post!)

In the meantime, have a super weekend!

And, let’s be creative, people!

E.