Friday, September 28, 2012

The Heron is back

 While making the salad and looking out the kitchen window, I saw this very big heron land on the deck railing.  It noticed me while I was backing away and going for my camera.  It flew to the garage roof where I managed to get a quick shot of it.  It then flew down to the edge of the pond, and as I was trying to sneak up to take a shot over the deck railing, it saw me and ran to the neighbors yard, where it has room to spread its wings and fly away.  It is a huge heron.
 This is the tomatoe that grew from the plant on the deck.  There are 2 more.  The one that grew on the garden tomato was full of flavour.  I really must try to keep them watered next year.
These are some of the ingredients that go into the mulligatawny soup.  Basically, it is a chicken, rice and vegetable soup.  I made a double recipe and have 10 of the 590 ml containers to add to my frozen soups.  I have made minestrone soup, and a squash with quinoa soup, also.  I have about 18 pints of the purple plums preserved and frozen.  I will be making a few more soups to freeze, for the convenience of having prepared lunch items.  We are trying to stay away from the high sodium canned soups available at the stores.  In this regard, Campbells Soups are shutting down several of their plants, due to the slowing down of their soup sales.  This is probably partly due to the economy and perhaps partly due to people wanting to eat more 'healthy'. I must say, the soups I have made so far are delicious.  I make my own chicken stock, and have now started to make my own beef stock, also.  I have made fish stock, also, but have none on hand right now.  These stocks add so much flavour and goodness to the soups.  I use them when I prepare rice or quinoa, also. 
Oh yes, we had a fig from our tree for dessert this evening also.  The green apples you see in the photo are from our backyard tree.  They are golden delicious, but not yet ripe.  The recipe called for green apples. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

June... errr September in the Garden

 I am working on the June album for my old web page on the Gardening page.  This is one of my favourite photos of the west coast planter that sits in the front garden.  In September it looks quite nice also, with the mounding alpines and no blooms.This photo was from 2010, June.  Now the mounding plants have covered the pea gravel mulch and need to be pruned to keep them from growing over each other.
In this bed and to the left of these plants I have some David Austin roses.  I had montebretias in front of the roses, but they were flopping over the stone path.  I dug them out last week and gave them away by putting them into plastic bags at the street with a FREE sign on them.  When Derek came to get his black bamboo shoots, there was one bagful left for him.  Today, I transplanted the Japanese quince that I have had on the deck, into the spot in front of the roses.  Hopefully, it will have its red blossoms that will be equally attractive to the humming birds as the crocosomias were.  I have too many pots on my deck and shall move more off and into the garden as soon as I find spots for them.  I have two small willows that are doing well in the pots, but they like lots of water, so they will need to be in a place where I can easily water them. 
This is another June photo from 2010. It is a good shot of the back garden... well part of the back garden.  The stone path is about a year old.  The grass surrounds the apple tree.  The yarrow that is looking so good in the photo, has died, and I really must replace it.  Maybe I could put the very nice delphinium I have on the deck, into this spot.   In September, that is today..the apple tree is loaded with apples and is dragging the branches to the ground.  The michaelmas daisies are in bloom.  The stone path is looking good as it has the lovely Corsican mint growing between the stepping stones.  I replaced the field stones you see in the path with round stepping stones over part of this path, and it is much easier to navigate.  The field stones are too uneven unless I have managed to find a good flat side to them.

I have these June photos because I have been working on the June album for my old web page.  I have finished the resizing and tweaking of the photos for this album.  I should have 17 pages of 10 thumbnails per page.  There are some really good plants and photos in this album and I must get them finished and loaded to my old web page.
I was amazed to find that I could get the music on my ipad, on this old page.  It has a bit of javascript I found on the internet to make the music play... and I did that years ago.  I was much younger then.  :-)))
I mowed the lawn also today.  I have been busy!  In the morning I finished preserving the 25 lbs of purple plums.  I have 22 pints of the fruit.  I pit the plums, quarter them, and bring them to a boil for about a minute to get rid of any bacteria.  I add a tiny bit of sugar, a bit of water  and a splash of brandy to help preserve them, .. of course.  :-)).  I have a few dozen left over for enjoying fresh.  They are so good.  In the afternoon, I made 8 quarts of minestrone soup.  We tested it for supper tonight and it is very good too.  So, I have 10 of the 580 ml plastic containers to label and freeze.  The rest we will have for lunch in the next few days.    Since I am not eating wheat, I did not add the broken spaghetti.  I boil some up for Pat's soup, each time I make it.  It needs to have parmasean cheese and basil added to it just before serving.  I will be making ratatouille, muligatawny and a few other soups soon, also. We are trying to stay away from the prepared, salty soups, we get in the grocery stores.  So, since I like to have something on hand these homemade soups should fill the bill for convenience.  The apple tree is loaded with fruit, so I may be making a lot of apple sauce, too.  Maybe even a pie or two for himself.

Since my doctor told me about this Wheat Belly book I am back to losing weight again.  This book is very very scarey.  Wheat causes all sorts of problems for our physical and even mental systems.  It seems that the genetic changes to the wheat in the last 50 years have caused us to become obese and have all sorts of other diseases.  You really must get a copy of the book and read it.  It is hard to get 'off wheat" but you will notice a difference in just the first few days.  I notice my energy level return to normal.  I thought I was just getting old and slowing down... well ... now I know that a lot of this tiredness was  due to the effects of wheat.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the garden and on line

 Yesterday I discovered an email in my junk folder, from the CEO of Multiply.  They seem to be moving the head office to Jakarta, because of the shopping potential.  We were given links to plug-ins for Chrome or Firefox to download our stuff to our computers.  There were other options like transferring to Blogger.  This was my first photo page with MSN started in Jan of 2001.  In 2008 MSN migrated those of us who wanted to keep our accounts, to Multiply.  I moved and added a Travel album to my account.  But this time I  downloaded my old photos in their albums and deleted my account with them.  I was not really using that place.  But, of course, it has the nostalgic ties for me.  This is one of my better flower photos in one of the albums.  It is a lewisia.  It looks like I picked the flower and put it on a deep purple background.  I don't recall what that background was, but it goes well with the flower. 
This is one of the photos from the week end of the 7, 8, 9th when we were at Campbell River and Quadra Island for the Island Challenge meet.  We had excellent weather and a really good tour.  I am processing my photos and adding them to one of my Megashot accounts.  When I get them finished I will link all the people who were on the tour to the 'gallery'.  Pat has sent the link to a few people.  I don't seem to be getting many views, so far.  I think people just look at the 'thumbnails' because they are pretty big, and do not bother clicking on them to enlarge them, and thus give the photo a 'view' for the views counts.   I have quite a few photos to do for this event, as well as all of them for the Can-Am on the 13, 14, 15 and 16th.  I have managed to get a few of my "June" album for my old web page processed.  Still have about 12 of them to resize and process.  I might even get that album finished this year.

I spent a bit of time hoeing in the vegetable patch.  It has good tilth after all the compost I added last Fall and this Spring.  The gladiolas are up but have not formed buds.  They were 'on sale' when I bought them... so maybe next year I will get blooms.  I shall leave them in the ground under more mulch.  The dill got about 8 inches high.. not a good showing.  I have marigolds that are just getting started.  I know we had a late spring but these marigolds are really really late in getting started.  My giant Russian sunflowers sprouted one plant and it grew to an amazing foot tall with a tiny bloom on it.  I will try again next year, with more nutrients added to the soil.  I know the patch does not get enough sun. 
I found one more fig on the tree and there are 2 more big ones ripening.  This brings our total figs to a grand number of a dozen.  There are lots of little ones that may even ripen if this weather keeps up.  I watered the back and at the front a couple of days ago, so this encourages the plants in their growth cycle.  I have 3 dozen purple plums in the house.  I have pitted and quartered 8 of them; added about 3 tablespoons of sugar and let them stand for half hour, then added them to the rum pot.  The rum pot still has lots of liquid so I am not adding any more.  I have been taking it out of the fridge for a few hours every day hopefully to help it evaporate some of the liquid and become a nice thick rum pot mix. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A busy September

 I am slowly getting the photos tweaked for my June album on My Garden web page.  This one caught my eye.  It is a vista looking over the valerine flowers towards the front door.  I was surprised to see this vista but I need to be on my neighbors lawn to get this view.  I must have a look from the street and see if it can be seen from there.  I have 15 more photos to do before I am finished that album and ready to create the album with photoshop.  Then I add any text to the album in note pad, It takes a long time to get all the pages of the album reworked in note pad, but I like having the ability to create individual albums, with my limited abilities with html.
 On the 7, 8, 9th we were at Campbell River for the Antique Car Event, The Island Challenge.  The meet hotel was right by the river.  Wonderful location.  A good time was had by all.  Good weather, good food and good touring.  Was good to see everyone.
This is a photo from our trip to Saskatchewan in July/Aug.  I photoshopped this with my 'Virtual Photographer' software, that I am running in an old copy of Photoshop.  I like how the colors turned out in the photo.  I am trying to do up the photos for both of the above trips and add them to their galleries on one of my megashot accounts.  Both galleries are slowly coming along.    I will use the same photos to add to the albums on my old web page, too.  So, I am slowly getting more done on my old web page. 
I have been reading a bit on my ipad, and learning a little more about it every day.  So many things can be done just by touch, and there is the keyboard, too, of course.  Today I saw a camera in the London Drugs advertisements.  This Panosonic Lumix has a Leica lens and a 20x zoom.  It also does panoramas.  London Drugs price beats Amazon prices, too.  This camera also has some 'touch' navigation for the shooting set up.  At $350 I think it is a good deal for a 20x zoom.  I have until the 30th to decide if I want it.  It might replace my Canon S3 IS for carry around ... it has image stabilizing.  But it will need the battery charged.  I like the S3 IS ability to run on ordinary AA batteries.  I really wish they would all go to this easy mode but I suppose they make a lot of money on the sale of the batteries. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

September in my garden

 This is one of the photos of the Panda bear at the zoo in Bejingfrom our trip this spring.  These bears scarf down a lot of bamboo.  Maybe I should have just a tiny one to keep my black bamboo in check.  Actually, it does not run too fast.  Just enough to dig out and give to friends.  Derek  picked up his sprouts yesterday, along with some crocosmia.  I removed the crocosmia from the area by the roses at the front, as they were flopping over the path and being quite annoying. They multiply like crazy.  I had divided them into 4 bags and put them out at the street for Free pickups by anyone who wanted them.  3 bags were taken and I had the one left to add to the ones I gave to Derek in his bamboo pots.  Hope they grow for him.  I think Ray and Nancy's is growing.  I am going to plant the Japanese quince in the spot where I took out the crocosmia.  The leaf mulch from the trees keep the weeds down here.  I might have room for a few more pinks along the edge of the border of the stone path.
 This is one of the last of the figs from this year.  There were 10 big ripe ones.  We had the last of them last nite after we got home from the Greek Festival.  Good lamb and spanakopta.    We have small green figs left on the tree yet.  The stepping stone path around the fig is covered with the wonderful little Corsican mint.  There is a bit of grass trying to grow in it.  I must keep after this grass to get rid of it.  I shall try to get the mint to grow in the stone path at the front too.  I had to weed those little orange flowers out of this year.  I think they might come with the sand I buy and apply to the paths. 
 The germander is in bloom for a long time!  The bees love it.  It is nicely spreading and keeping down the weeds where it grows too.  This is in keeping with my present plans of making my garden lower maintenance.  This is along the back fence, in front of 3 hedging cedars and a yew.  Next to the germander is where the tall bearded iris bed starts and extends to the water tub.  Next to the tub is where the woodland officially begins.  Across the old sidewalk from these plants is the gorgeous big lacecap hydrangea underplanted with sweet woodruff, and a few other voluntieers, as well as daylilies.  I think I will get rid of them, as the orange colors clash with all my colors in the garden. Like the name... the flower lasts for a day, only so it is no good for bouquets.  There is a huge evergreen fern and a lovely lily of the valley shrub at the end of this bed, and officially in the woodland.  :-) These two plants hid the old compost bin very effectively. 
 The purple plums are almost ready for harvesting.  The yellow ones are just about finished, so that works out nicely.  I do not know what has happened to some of the purple plums but they seem to be scarred .. at least the skins seem scarred.  It appears to be only skin deep.  I am happy to see that the tree is producing this year.  It seems to have some kind of fungus or something that causes these lumps that look like burls, but at the end of a fruiting shoot.  I must try to look it up with Google and find out how to treat it.
 This Autumn Joy sedum is a lovely easy care plant.  This one grows along between our driveway and Shawna's.  The one I started along in front of the new cedars along Mrs. P's driveway, does not seem to be doing as well.  Needs better soil perhaps. 
 Last week I had hoards of these little skippers in the garden.  The day I went out to shoot them, it was windy, of course, so it was not a very successful shoot.  I need to entice more butterflies to the garden, somehow.  The butterfly plants on the deck do not seem to be working, at all.  I never saw a butterfly on them this year.   This is the second year for the butterfly plants container, so I will probably take it off the deck, divide the plants and put them where ever I can find space in the garden.  At the moment, this space might be where I am not very successful at growing vegetables, as there are too many tree roots and not enough sun.  The little rockery is on one side of this area, so this will become the cutting garden, or to be more realistic... the catch all spot. 
This is the last of the yellow plums, photo taken a few days ago.  I have 4 jars of these plums made into a preserve and frozen.  The plums are very juice.  I boil them for a minute or two with a bit of sugar to help preserve them, and then freeze them in the glass jars.  It works well for me.  Leave space at the top of the jar because when the liquid freezes it expands a bit.

I imagine that serious vegetable gardeners have had their winter vegetables planted about a month ago.  It is time to get bulbs to plant.  My crocus field at the front is doing fine. I don't really have space for any more tulips, or bulbs of any kind, so I can just look at whet is for sale.  And then go home with a pail of bonemeal to feed the bulbs I already have planted.