Friday, October 31, 2008

Horror in the Garden

I took Baby Monkey on a trick or treat hay ride along with Monkeys' Uncle #2, sil#1, and two nieces. My brother hooked up the trailer, filled it with hay, covered the hay with blankets, and hauled us all over Combine looking for houses lit up for Halloween. There were kids, trailers, four wheelers, and dune buggies everywhere. It is a small town kind of thing and we always have a good time.

Manly Man and Middle Monkey stayed home to give out candy/watch the Dallas Stars game. We came home to find quite a setup. The jack-o-lanterns were out front lit up with strobe lights. There were neighbors in the yard and in the house. A Halloween party had sprung up while we were gone. We all hung out for a while enjoying the kids and candy. Some cars stopped and let their little ones trick or treat. There were no tricks on the babies, just yummy candy.

Everything calmed down after a while and the neighbors went home. I realized I had not fed the bunnies and went outside to give them some alfalfa. I picked up a plastic cup, filled it with bunny food, and headed out. The rabbit hutch is at the back of the garden. It is pretty dark back there.

I fed the bunnies, talked to them, and petted them. It was the normal bunny feeding routine, all cute and stuff. I had just closed the rabbit hutch and was headed back to the house when it happened. A hideous, bald headed troll leaned over the fence and hollered "What are you doing?" I screamed and almost fell down. I only peed a little. The troll started laughing so hard it was holding it's sides. It was my @#$% husband in a horrible Halloween mask. I threw the cup at him.

Were any bad tricks played on you tonight?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And Then It Burst Into Flames

You might remember I took a chance and tried to grow popcorn this year. I got corn that sort of popped. My first try scorched in the pot. My second try yielded a few tiny popped kernels, which were not really edible.

Sister#2 is a newbie gardener. She started her popcorn in her nice raised bed garden. She got better popcorn ears than I did. I'm not jealous, really, I'm not. She followed my advise. I should have done the same.

Last week she called me with a corn question, "Is it okay to pick my popcorn now?" The Internet said to let it dry out on the stalk, so that was my answer. I gave this advise with the enthusiasm of a seasoned, experienced popcorn grower instead of admitting she knows as much as I do. She then explained about a worm that she found in one ear. No no no, not her ear, but in one of the ears of corn(stop snickering). We decide she should pick the popcorn early and let it dry out in a basket. Problem solved.

Last night, after we arrived at the hospital to take care of baby Jack. She asks, "Did you pop your popcorn?" I said, " yes" and explained my results. She says, "I tried to pop my popcorn and it caught on fire. Did you put your popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave?"

Sorry Sister, the smell must have been lovely.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Things Didn't Quite Work Out

I am back home.

My one-year-old nephew, Jack, has pneumonia. We took off this morning worried because he was going for a chest x-ray. We made frequent phone calls checking on him and it seemed like he was going to be okay. However, at about 3:00, just about the time we made it to my friend's house just north of Houston, we got the call. The little guy had to be admitted. We turned around. I took Mamala to the hospital and stayed for a short visit. Mamala is spending the night with sister and Jack. He should be okay, but it is no fun to have such a little guy all hooked up to an iv and pulse ox machine. Sister says he is doing much better than he was earlier today.

So no quilt show this year. Maybe next.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going on a Quilting Trip

I am planning my escape to a land where there are no monkeys, the pillows stay on the bed, and the socks are not on the ceiling fan. I am going to Houston to visit my good friend Kathy. Mamala and I will be leaving tomorrow morning. We will spend all day at the International Quilt Show. I hope to get a lot done on that quilt up there in the picture. Just think, three days of of uninterrupted quilting, quilt shopping, and adult conversation. Oh the joy of it. I am so happy my head might explode.
I'll be back on Friday in time for trick or treating. Why don't you visit some of the blogs I dig while I'm gone. The list is right over there on the sidebar.
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Does anyone have an explaination for the pillow I found in my driveway this morning? Anyone? Seriously.

Somebody help me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Scarves Are In The Mail

I put the fringe on my scarf and boxed it up with six my mom made. They have been sent on to Kathryn of Plant What Ever Brings You Joy for the Scarf Initiative. Thanks Katheryn for organizing and carrying out this fantastic project. It was an honor to participate. Mine is pink and lime green. Mamala's are made from warm, fuzzy, red fleece. I hope they help keep seven little girls warm this winter. I am the oldest of seven children so the seven scarves just seems appropriate.

There Can Never Be Too Much Zucchini

Have you ever heard someone complain about an over abundance of zucchini? You won't hear that complaint around here. We fry zucchini, make zucchini chips, cut up zucchini and eat it with dip. Last night, we had zucchini lasagna for dinner. It was so good, I got up and has some as a predawn snack.

Here is how it was done

Zucchini sliced thin
Mushrooms sliced thin
Marinara sauce - tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil.
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until family members start asking, "What smells so good?" and "When do we eat?"

Sorry, I don't measure anything.

The Monkeys ate this up and did not notice the mushrooms, which they claim to hate. This is a first. They have superior mushroom locating abilities.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sweet Sweet Fall Tomatoes

Nothing in the world is better than the taste of the first bite of the first tomato of the season. I ate my first tomato from my fall garden this afternoon. It was a large cherry tomato and I sprinkled it with sea salt. Yummm.
Now, I have a confession. I hide the first tomato or three from my family and eat them myself. I don't share. I am careful to check them everyday and make sure to pick them just before they are fully ripe. Then, I hide them in a bowl of hot peppers that no one else will get into. I know it is wrong, but I can't help it. Trust me, if they found them first I wouldn't have a chance.

One of my vines is producing deformed fruit with black spots on them. It is not blossom end rot and it does not look like cat facing. Anybody have any idea what is going on? The vine looks just fine. Sorry about the blurry picture, again.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Passion Vine for Nola

Here is a picture of my passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) commonly known as may pop. This vine is currently 33 feet long after I cut six feet off of it yesterday. It is growing in full sun on one end, part shade in the middle, and deep shade towards the end. I never water it. Gulf fritillary butterflies lay their eggs on it and the scary looking caterpillars eat it up. During the late summer, it is covered up in beautiful orange butterflies and orange and red striped spiky caterpillars. Very nice habitat.

Here is the very exotic looking flower.
Today, I met Nola of Alamo North. She and her husband are a lovely couple. She commented on my passion vine when she saw it in the background of a picture I posted a week or so ago. I brought a division of the passion vine with me just in case she showed up to the Scarecrow Festival in Kaufman. She showed. What a very exciting day. I met someone from the blogosphere and she wasn't a scary person. After yesterday's post, I would have thought she might want to avoid me.
My master gardener group had a booth at the Scarecrow Festival. We gave out information, calenders, and sold some native and adapted bulbs (daffodils, gladiolas, pinks). I would now go on and on about the Kaufman County Master Gardeners, but Nola did a fine job of that for me on her blog today.
It was great to meet you Nola. Enjoy the passion vine, I sure do.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Triple Pumpkin Homicide Aunt Debbi Still At Large

Another vegetable killing occurred tonight in Combine Texas at approximately 8:30 pm. The serial killer is still at large.
Here are the Monkeys' Jack-O-Lanterns.
Here they are again lit up.
Happy Halloween.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mexican Mint Marigold and a Monkey Update

This is a really bad picture of a really pretty plant. It is Mexican mint marigold, which blooms in the fall. The plant tag said full sun, but I grow it in dry shade. It is very drought tolerant and hardy to zone 8. I divide the plant in the spring, but have also found that it will reseed itself. Butterflies are attracted to the blooms. The leaves can be used as a substitute for French tarragon. I love it with sweet pickles in tuna salad.
Teenage Monkey got his cast put on today. The break was a green stick break, meaning the bone was not broken all the way across. He only has to wear the cast for four weeks.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The cold front came in at about 3:00 this afternoon. Of course I had just started a fire in the chiminea and had completely torn up the giant compost disaster. So I had flames shooting out of the top of the chiminea and compost flying all over the place. Then, of course, it started to rain. I am lucky this way. Let me start a big messy project, and the wind and rain will show up to get me wet and and covered in mud. Thanks Mother Nature, thanks a lot. Somehow, I didn't catch the house on fire and the compost is now back in two piles instead of a giant mess all over the back of the garden.

It is going to get down into the 40's tonight. This is winter weather around these parts. Hopefully, we will get a little more rain to get the fall veggies off to a good start. The tomatoes are not long for this world. I hope the fruits get big enough for me to bring in to ripen in a bowl on the table.

How is your weather?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let Me Explain This One More Time

I love my neighbors. Really, I do, but this has gotten out of control. Remember when I told him to feel free to put the grass clippings into the compost pile. I was grateful for the compost ingredients and didn't want them ending up in the landfill. A couple of days ago, I began turning and sifting my compost pile. I was about half way through this process when neighbor man mowed his lawn again. I found this mess this afternoon. Nice, he covered up my bucket, my compost screen, and a couple of tools.
When I told him he could use the compost pile anytime, I also told him to quit bagging the clippings once he got the lawn short enough that piles of grass clippings would not be laying on top of the grass killing it. Pretty much the instructions are to mow higher and more frequently. I patiently explained that the grass clippings fall down onto the soil, decompose, and create humus. This builds up the soil and feeds the grass. By bagging leaves and grass, we rob the nutrients from the landscape. Leave them if you can and let them decompose. Did he listen, does he have clue? Nope, he has bagged the grass ever since this.

Here is his lawn. Pretty sparse and mostly scrubby.

Here is my lawn. Never fertilized, never watered, and mowed to a little higher level. Oh, and I need to mention, about 1/4 the size of Neighbor Mowing Mans lawn. See the lawn behind ours. The other neighbor has a lawn service who scalps his lawn every two weeks whether it needs it or not. Another lawn no-no we will save for another day.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Broken Monkey

There will be no garden blogging today. I got a phone call from the school. Teenage Monkey had hurt his arm playing football. An X-ray showed a buckle fracture of his radius.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Halloween Kitty

I am Trixie and I love Halloween
Trust me. Just ignore my evil eyes. I mean no harm.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is Better

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Butterfly Days

We have not had very many butterflies visit this summer. Not really sure what the deal is, but they just didn't come.
There had not been a single Gulf frittilary caterpillar on the passion vine. I have seen very few adults. Today the beauty in the above picture showed up. Isn't she pretty. She did lay a few eggs on the vines, but I don't know if they will have enough time before it gets too cold for caterpillars.
Most summers we watch dozens of black swallowtail caterpillars eat my dill, crysalize (look I made up a verb), and come back to visit the zinnia. This year only one batch ate the fennel in the front flower bed. We had a black swallowtail visit today. I didn't see any egg laying. This is a good thing, because the dill is tiny and there would not be enough food.

Remember this from a couple of days ago.

It now looks like this. I planted it with carrots. Next week I will buy some leek seeds and add a few right down the middle. Should be an interesting looking veggie patch.
What are you growing this fall?
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Design Collage

I am trying to get a job as a nursery manager/assistant color designer. Do y'all think this collage will help or hurt my chances?
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Hard Part of Changing Seasons

I need to rip this out to make room for carrots. A few days ago this area looked terrible. It was mostly spent purple hull peas and the zinnias without blooms.

It rained yesterday and the morning glories I had neglected to pull up bloomed. Now I like the way it looks and don't want to pull it all up.

But I really need the space.
Big sigh....
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Look What I Found for GBBD

I found this bloom today. It looks sort of like a day lily. The foliage looks a little like a rain lily. Guess what it is. Zephyranthes grandiflora or giant rain lily. Pretty cool. The flower is smaller than a day lily, but much larger than a rain lily. I have absolutely no idea where I got it or when I planted it. It rained today and it bloomed.
Thanks again to Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Zucchini Chips

I made zucchini chips this morning. They are all gone now. I ate two medium zucchini all by myself. These chips were good.

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch chips.
Place on a food dehydrator and sprinkle with seasoning
I used Cajun spice seasoning
Dehydrate until crunchy

I am going to be eating a lot of zucchini.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Look Fast I'm Not Doing This Again

Here I am and it is only for a good cause. That thing on my head is the scarf I made for the scarf initiative planned and organized by Kathryn at Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. This scarf will join 64 others from around the world and be sent to Askole, Pakistan to a girls school for refugees. Thanks for the great opportunity Kathryn.
The map in the background is actually Teenage Monkey's wallpaper in his room. Cool huh?
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I was going to talk about Gulf frittilary butterflies. I saw two laying eggs on my passion vine this afternoon. When I went back out to take some pictures, they had fluttered off. I will get back out there tomorrow.
Due to a lack of butterfly pictures, tonight I will blog about my fall veggies. These are actually late summer veggies. In the above picture shows okra, tomato, zucchini, purple hull peas, and a bowl of assorted peppers.
I am the kind of gardener that counts. I counted more than 80 tomatoes on the tomato vines today. I counted 17 zucchini on three vines. I counted 12 little okra on the okra plants.
My summer production was pretty pitiful because I did not get the plants in early enough. We get hot fast around here and the plants just can't produce in the heat. With a little rain and cooler weather my plants that lived through the scorching summer are now giving me food. I am glad I kept them alive.
The real fall plants, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli rhaab, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions, and beets are slowing being planted as I can make room. In a few weeks it will freeze. At that point, I can turn the whole garden over to the cool season crops.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Additional Sock Issues

Things have gotten a little messy around here. The kitchen need cleaning and organizing. A bunch of papers need to be recycled. My desk looks like a bomb went off on it. The laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and hung up. Finally, the truck is full of monkey paraphernalia. Instead of making myself crazy, I decided just to work on it for a couple of hours and get done what I can get done. No blogging, oops, here I am blogging, but this is important.

Like I said, the truck is full of monkey junk and we do have someplace to go this afternoon. I think I will actually get the truck cleaned out. It is full of shoes. Why oh why do my children take their shoes off everywhere? There are also lots of papers; papers from school, papers from master gardeners, unexplained papers. Finally, there are all kinds of gardening supplies; compost screen, fiber edge, a cobra head tool, a couple of pairs of pruners, and a bag of potting mix. So this is a big job.

I started with the front seat and pulled out a pair of monkey sneakers and a pair of socks. Wait, these are my socks. They have pink heals and toes. I don't remember taking my socks off in the truck.......HEY WHO HAS BEEN WEARING MY SOCKS. THESE ARE GIRL SOCKS NOT BOY SOCKS. KEEP YOUR STINKY MONKEY FEET OUT OF MY SOCKS.

Seriously, somebody help me. Please come help me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Origin of The Banana Split Dinner

Joy at Garden Joy 4 Me posted yesterday about donuts for dinner. She reminded me of our occasional banana split dinners and their origin.

I am the oldest of seven children. My youngest sister is 18 years younger than I am. Mamala had three babies while I was in high school. A pregnant mom was the best birth control ever for a teenage girl. I didn't have my first child until I was 30. It worked really really good.

Grocery shopping for a family of nine was an ordeal. It took two carts and a keen eye for value. It also took volume. There had to be lots and lots of food. Three of the seven were boys, and boys eat a lot. It was also impossible to take along anyone under the age of four to the grocery store. Someone had to stay home with the creepers, crawlers, and toddlers. I opted to man the second cart and leave the rug rats to sister#2. I'm thoughtful like that.

One afternoon Mamala and I went shopping and left Sister#2 with the runts. On a whim Mamala decided we would have banana splits for dinner. I think, "She has finally lost her mind, but cool." We loaded up on the banana split ingredients praising ourselves on surprising the clan.

When we arrived home everyone over the age of 3 runs out to the station wagon to unload more than 100 pounds of groceries. Everyone except Sister#2, who stayed inside with the urchin

Side note - I mean urchin in the most loving and gentle way, but hey there was snot everywhere. Sisters, before you leave me a nasty comment remember, I changed your diapers. Love you, mean it.

Now that I have called off the pack of rabid sisters, back to the story

We managed to get everything put away before noticing, Sister#2 had set the table with the good stuff as a surprise for Mamala. The nice plates, cloth napkins, and the good crystal were perfectly displayed on the table. Mamala thinks this is exactly how an ice cream dinner should be served and we ate banana splits off the good china. Life was excellent.

About once a year I give the Monkeys banana splits for dinner and remember how sweet it was.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Fine Fall Day

It is beautiful today. The weather is in the mid 70's with a light breeze. The sun is warm without being hot. Very nice.
It is so nice my black eyed Susan vine decided to bloom.
I moved it from the deck to the front porch. It seems to like the shade. Who knew.

Here is a closer look.

And closer yet.
The pepper harvest is in full swing. My Chili pequeno is loaded with little hot bombs.
How's your weather.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Bright Shiny New Library Card

Okay, yesterday I posted on how we are trying to spend less money. With the cost of gas, food, insurance, etc...we just need to cut back. I found another place to save - my books. I buy my books at Half Priced Books or yard sales. Still, I buy books. I am sure I spend over a hundred dollars a year on books.

Mom recently loaned me a library book she had finished early. I took it back tonight and got myself one of those new fangled library cards for FREE. I know this is probably a durrr moment for the rest of you, but I have had a book addiction since I was about 14. Even with the love of visiting book stores, looking at books, buying books and reading books, I only have a few I actually would consider rereading. Those include East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, anything at all by Margaret Atwood, my cookbooks, and a few gardening books. Of all the books I bought this year, I don't consider one a keeper.

So I have one more way to save money. Not only will I save the cash I used on the books but also the money it takes to drive to the bookstore more than 20 miles away.

Any other money saving ideas?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creative Square Foot Garden

Everyone is trying to find ways to save money. Our family is no exception. We need to save not because we borrowed more money than we can afford to repay, but because most of the things we purchase have increased in price. Gas, clothes, insurance, and food are all costing much more. I have been looking for little ways to save money.
I have been planing to change half of my vegetable garden from traditional rows to square foot gardening. A square foot garden uses raised beds to grow vegetables. This uses less water, is easier to weed, and is more productive than traditional rows. I have been preaching this type of gardening for a couple of years without actually doing it myself. Sister#2 put in a square foot garden last spring and I am embarrassed to say she out produced me in a 4 x 8 foot plot. I have a 15 x 30 foot garden. Oh the shame. Anyway, I decided to start the square foot garden this fall.
I have been looking for free wood or rock or something to create my raised beds. This search has gone on for about two weeks. Yesterday, I looked up and saw our wood pile. Hmmm....those might make a fine border. So I lined them up, put news paper in the bottom and filled them up with compost and soil.
Ignore the weeds. I will get to them later.
Now that is not a very good picture, but can you see the foot prints. Might be a wolf or a coyote.
Nope, here is the culprit. Last night the neighbor called to let us know Abby was roaming the streets. She must have taken a stroll through the garden before she went on her walk. Notice the nice big bone on the ground in front of her. That thing really hurts when she drops it on your feet.
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