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Preview: gardens by the lake

gardens by the lake





Updated: 2014-10-05T01:19:59.161-05:00

 



where am I????

2008-05-15T17:52:03.381-05:00

The question has been posed - where am I????? I've been trying to figure that out. :)

The short answer is that I have been feeling burned out with blogging. I thought if I took a break, maybe I'd feel the same excitement I had last year at this time - when I couldn't wait to share what was blooming in the gardens each day and spent time visiting all of my friends in Blogland.

I apologize for not posting an explanation on the blog prior to this one - and I can't tell you how guilty I feel about not visiting your blogs. Guilt is such a huge and unnecessary burden to bear, and yet... there you go.

I have been enjoying my gardens - tulips, tulips, tulips - everywhere I look. I love it. And we have been involved in several projects - this week we're getting a new roof put on the house. It's lovely - and, guess what just popped into my head: I'll have to get a photo and show you! (So, see, there is hope!)

Tomorrow we're leaving for a couple days in Seattle - to see our grandson! Spencer Ryan was born April 12. Ryan and Sara say he is absolutely perfect. I can't wait to see that for myself!

I promise I will write another post when we return home. I'll either be writing to tell you how much I have enjoyed this past year - or I'll be back into blogging and you'll see all that I've been up to the past couple months.

Hope you all have a great weekend!



sorry!

2008-04-03T13:18:04.974-05:00

My apologies to everyone who has Google Reader or some other reader tool. I've been playing with a new computer program that works great for organizing recipes, book lists, garden info, etc. I wanted to share with you what I've been doing - by showing you the pages I've done. But when I linked the pages to the blog, I think it allowed anyone looking at it to go in and help me out! As much as I love you guys, I really don't want you inside any of my computer programs! :)

I'll keep playing a bit and see if there's any way to show you - photos of the pages or whatever. The program is OneNote - I am liking it a lot. More to come - I hope~ :)



signs of spring

2008-03-30T21:22:11.130-05:00

Wow - sun earlier today - and 50's!! Woo-hoo! A lot of melting going on. Forecast: rain tonight. By Tuesday morning 3-7 inches of fresh snow. Drat. So, good thing I took some pix this morning.

(image) I did this one extra big so you could actually see what I'm so excited about. :)
I have little tulip sprouts showing up in several areas of the gardens. It gives me great hope for beautiful things to come.


(image) A lovely clump of coral bells. I love the spring greens and purples.

(image) My ornamental grass didn't fare too well after the last heavy, wet snow. But I'll be cutting it to the ground soon, so not a problem.

(image) My bowling ball crop is looking spectacular!! :)

(image) A sure sign of better things to come is water appearing around the edges of the lake. This is looking east...

(image) and this is to the west.

(image) And this is straight out from shore. Yup, the little things you see on the ice are fishermen. It's still thick enough to walk on.



which view do you like better?

2008-03-19T00:07:30.864-05:00

(image) Nan left a comment that she would like to see the view from our bedroom window. This is it in July - the gardens in full bloom. From the bedroom we don't actually see a lot of the lake itself because of the leaves on the trees - but I love looking out at the gardens first thing every morning.

(image) And then you have days like this morning. :( Our snow had pretty much melted off the yard last week, but we woke up to a couple inches on the ground. By noon this was gone. I'm going to be very happy to see open water instead of ice, green leaves instead of bare trees, and flowers instead of dock sections in the gardens!!

(image) I have a little bit of green showing in the garden - very fun! Jacob's ladder and a couple other plants retain their green color through the winter - which totally amazes me.

(image) Back in November, Kate did a post on her glass pens. I thought hers were beautiful and showed the post to Mark. A couple weeks ago he found these on eBay and bought them for me. Aren't they pretty? They're very fun to use - too bad I'm such a slug at writing notes and cards to people! :) The first pot of ink I bought was purple - very cool.

(image) I'm afraid I still have weeks to go before I really have any interesting garden stuff to share. This has been a very long and very cold winter and I am quite anxious for it to be GONE! But in the meantime, thank you to all of you who have flowers in bloom for posting photos. It is such a treat to see right now!



a bedroom finally comes together

2008-03-03T12:50:27.782-06:00

Thank you all for your good wishes on my blogiversary. And also for your good thoughts about the loss of my friend Babe. I can't believe that I will never sit and chat with her again - but I feel so fortunate to have known her for so many years. She was a sweetheart.

(image) I wanted to show you another project I've been working on this winter. Last summer I found this picture at a garage sale (the weird lines in it are from the reflection from the blinds). The orange-tone colors weren't exactly what I have my house filled with - but the background and over-all feel of the picture was something I thought would fit in our bedroom very well. We put up new wallpaper a couple years ago and I have been trying since then to find bedding I was happy with. I can't begin to tell you all of the trips I've made - buying complete sets, returning them because the color was just wrong, repeat, do over. I had almost given up on ever finding what I thought I wanted!

(image) These photos are of the wallpaper - hard to get a picture that shows the exact color - plus it changes with the light - but you get the idea. The paper is smooth - but it gives the impression of great texture and subtle variations in color. After I had chosen the paper, I looked in the back of the wallpaper book and found that this particular faux finish was called "concrete" - of course I would choose wallpaper that looks like concrete!! I love it anyway. :)

(image)
This winter I found this brick red duvet and matching sheets etc (below) - and it worked really well with the burnt orange in the picture and with the walls. There is a very subtle print on one side of the duvet. I love it. The dark color shows all of the little bits and pieces that float around from the down pillows and comforter, but other than that I think it's perfect. I also bought a bedding set in a greyed or blued green - hard to describe - for summer sheets. It's very pretty and after I make the duvet, I'll show it to you. I couldn't find a duvet I liked with those sheets so bought extra sheets to make one.
(image) All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. We're not big on lots of frills and pillows - I like getting up and shaking out the duvet and not thinking about it again - Mark likes just jumping into bed at night without clearing it first. Still have more wall space to figure out, but it's finally coming together. The stained glass in the small window is one of a set that our son and daughter-in-law made for us one year for Christmas. They are absolutely beautiful - I'll have to show them in a post sometime too. The light patterns on the duvet are from the windows - that entire wall is windows facing the lake - it's a gorgeous room to wake up in every morning!



I've lost someone special

2008-03-01T16:21:51.180-06:00

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I found out this morning that a very dear neighbor and friend had passed away this week. My heart just hurts thinking that I will never again sit with her in person and share news of the neighborhood and our families. I will never again hear her generous compliments, her wise insights, her unfailingly positive voice. I will, of course, have talks with her and hear her voice - but only in my head - in my memories. She will now be in that part of my life that holds memories of my grandparents - rich, full memories - but not nearly as wonderful as all those in-person chats - not nearly as comforting as warm hugs.
When we moved to this street in 1975, Babe's mother lived at the end of the street. Grace was an old woman at the time - at least to my 25 years. I liked her because you always knew where you stood with her. If she wasn't pleased, she told you - likewise, she never hesitated to pass on a compliment. She had the most incredible gardens. They reminded me of my grandmothers' gardens. In the early 80's - shortly after we moved into this house on the lake, Grace passed on and Babe and her husband, Glenn, moved into her house. Babe immediately became a favorite neighbor. She was an excellent role model for aging gracefully. I don't think I have ever met anyone as genuinely positive and appreciative of those around her.
Babe had back problems and let a lot of the gardens go back to lawn. In the process, she shared countless plants with neighbors and friends. I remember talking to her one year shortly before my birthday. I mentioned that I loved Siberian squill or scilla. On the morning of my birthday, she came down the street with a small bucket full of scilla and other treasures from her garden! She never failed to mention how much she loved my gardens - or to tell me what a wonderful man I'm married to - or what wonderful young men I've raised. I am going to miss her terribly.
This morning our son came out to visit - and do a couple loads of laundry. We were talking and I mentioned that I had seen Babe recently at the nursing home, and that she had said how much she had enjoyed seeing him a couple years ago. Our son said why don't we go down and visit her this morning? We decided to wait an hour so she would be up and ready for the day. A half hour before we were going to head out the door, Babe's son called and gave me the news. I was so glad that we had been thinking of her before John called - it actually helped soften the blow.
Next spring, when the ground has thawed and plants have sprung back to life, I will walk down to her yard and ask her son if I can dig up a few things from her gardens. John will say of course - Mom would want you to have some plants to remember her by. I won't need plants to remember Babe - but I will treasure having a small part of her in my gardens.



one year of blogging

2008-02-28T12:46:58.199-06:00

Well, as I said yesterday, today marks one year of blogging for me. I can't believe I've been doing this for a year! I thought I would tell you how it all began for me.

(image)
About a year ago, I was looking for info on the No-Knead bread and found a beautiful step-by-step pictorial on Kitt's blog. I scrolled through her blog a little and found a photo of her first crocus. We were still in the dead of winter here in Minnesota so that made me smile. And then a few posts further down I found a photo of her standard poodle, Sophie. Well, of course, she had me hooked right there! I left a comment and she responded by asking for my blog address and saying she'd love to see our dogs. I took a look at Blogger and decided I could figure out how to at least show her the dogs. I did this post and then went on to do another and another and, with a little help and lots of encouragement from Kitt, pretty soon I was hooked on blogging! I thought the blog would be a great way to keep in touch with family and to share my gardens, so I shared my new hobby with them. My dad and Mark's dad are my two most faithful readers - they check the blog first thing every morning. I love it!


(image)
I spent quite a bit of time being a "lurker" - looking but not leaving comments on other blogs. Thank goodness I moved beyond that stage! It was so fun when more people began coming here and leaving comments for me. I love being a part of this community. I have met so many wonderful people - it makes my family smile, but I think of you all as friends. It would give me great pleasure to meet each of you and sit down for a cuppa and walk through your gardens and see all of your beautiful handcrafts. I feel honored to be a part of this whole experience.

(image)

Thanks to all of you for sharing your beautiful blogs - your joys and sorrows - for touching me in ways you'll never know. I treasure each of you. And thanks for coming here from time to time and sharing my little space in Blogland too. I am so looking forward to my second year of blogging!!



finicky eaters and other tails

2008-02-27T13:44:50.320-06:00

This is Tess trying a new diet. She doesn't seem to care too much for the veggies - lol. Kobie has been battling ear infections for close to a year now. My sweet boy is very stoic, and I usually don't realize that he even has ear problems until they're full-blown - which is perhaps a big part of the problem. But since the first of the year he has been under the care of a doggie dermatologist, and a week ago we decided we need to do allergy testing to see if we can get this under control. The good news would be if the special diet works - the bad news is the food costs $52.00 for an 18-lb bag (the largest size they package). Both dogs have to eat the same food for the testing to be valid. My two lovelies eat about 18 lbs a week - easily. I'm hoping I don't have to go out and find a full-time job to pay for their food and vet bills!!! Yesterday the vet told me I could add certain veggies to increase the fiber content - hopefully that would mean they'd be eating less of the expensive food. Both dogs meticulously picked out each and every piece of vegetable and spit it on the floor. It was pretty funny to see. If I offered them each a bowl of chicken pot pie with vegetables, they'd inhale it, of course. I'll keep you posted. Look at my growing collection of gently-used knives. When we were married - oh so many years ago! - we bought the best knives we could afford - Chicago Cutlery. But recently Mark started buying Wustof at sales and on eBay. We have a couple more on our list to try and find - but I am loving the ones we have so far. Last weekend we hit an estate sale and found two treasures for me. The first was this herb cutting knife and bowl. We cleaned and oiled them, and I think they're going to work really well. Now I can't wait for summer and fresh herbs from my garden! The second find was a new foutain for the gardens. The auction listing said "garden sculptures" - Mark was unimpressed with what he saw sitting in the snow. But I noticed these cattails and thought they might look pretty cool with my grasses. When we went out and started digging a little, we discovered that the cattails were part of a small fountain. Even better!! The entire group is copper and has a beautiful patina. The cattail pieces are sitting on rods stuck in the cement base - and all of that sits in the basin. I think I'll probably add some rocks to hide the cement. The pump attaches to one cattail stem. I can't wait to see it hooked up and working - after we're finally done with freezing cold weather, of course! The top photo is so cluttered, I'm not sure you can see the cattails - but I'll be showing you more photos when it's sitting in my garden. Tomorrow marks my one year blogiversary. I can't believe I've been doing this for a whole year. I'm planning to put up a post that tells you how it all began...[...]



a new video

2008-02-21T11:47:33.700-06:00

allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dxJSo2TmH-slWOxa9AP6gicESnJYOXS5IaGQPmkjQCV5pCLSzbQbjos8ifDSrT7-ZeQC7RNsN3IBRLPfYWD3Q' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />

Our neighbors bought a weather vane (I think that's what you call these things??) this winter. It's so cool and I like it so much that I thought you all should see it too. They're planning to attach it to their dock this summer - I hope they put it on our side so we can enjoy it. It's really mesmerizing to watch.

Did you all catch the lunar eclipse last night? It was really cold here, but the dogs and I bundled up and went out every 20 minutes for the first hour. By the time it was eclipsed, the moon had risen enough to be right outside our bedroom window - so I could lay on the bed and enjoy it in comfort!! (and more importantly, warmth!!) (well, guess the comfort part would be excluding the fact that I had two huge dogs jumping on me!) Wish I had a photo to share, but I was too lazy to dig out a tripod so all the ones I took have multiple moons - interesting, but not exactly what I was after.




i have wheels again

2008-02-18T20:15:57.425-06:00

Thank you for all of your comments and support last week when I was without wheels. As so often happens, the day after my whining, the truck started, and I spent the rest of the week running here and there and getting nothing done here at home. Maybe THIS will be the week I catch up on blogging and cleaning and laundry and reading and...
Our weather has been a rollercoaster this year - sub-zero way too often - but after a couple freezing cold days, the teens and 20's feel like spring - so guess there's a bright side to everything! This weekend we had two days in the mid 30's!! It was wonderful - but today it was in the single digits again. Our son who lives in Seattle called today and said he spent time working in their garden this weekend. Sounds wonderful - but I still have several weeks before that's even a possibility here, I'm afraid.

(image)

Saturday while we were out running a few errands, we saw these three planes sitting on the lake in front of a restaurant near our home. Aren't they cute? I'm thinking jumping in the plane to meet for lunch would be too fun!

(image)

I have been very negligent in my blog housekeeping. About a month ago nonizamboni at Peacock Blue gave me this award. And then a couple weeks ago, Tristi gave me the same award. Thanks, guys!! Even though I am very slow at thanking you, please know that I am honored to receive this award. Nonizamboni lives in the Twin Cities, and I love reading her posts - if I lived on her side of town, we would run into each other all the time, I think! And Tristi just cracks me up with some of her posts - her stories about her children's antics are a stitch. Thanks to both of you for making blogging so much fun! And thanks to all of my blogger friends - you ALL make my day!!




i'm tired of this cold weather

2008-02-11T20:25:23.239-06:00

This has just not been a good day. I think I need some serious R&R in a nice warm place. Mark drove his car to the airport early this morning. We were pretty sure my truck would start because it was running yesterday, so I opted to sleep in instead of taking him. I was planning to meet a dear friend that I haven't seen in forever for lunch. The truck would not start. It didn't even make any whining noises. So I am without transportation until late Thursday night. If I have an emergency, I have neighbors who would take me wherever I need to go - but being guys, they probably wouldn't consider lunch an emergency. Whatever. I've cancelled all other appointments for the week - and I guess I'll keep busy with blogging, reading and actually getting my work done on time. But what a bummer. Stupid truck only has 200,000 miles on it and it's acting like an old lady.

(image) I've been going through old photos and scanning some of them into the computer. I came across these two the other day and thought you would get a laugh out of them. Being a farm girl, I was in 4-H growing up. I learned to make bread the old-fashioned way - lots of hand mixing and kneading. I truly like the new wet dough way better! This was a bread-making workshop during the summer before my 8th grade year (if memory serves me right). Our loaves look kind of puny - but I remember that they smelled heavenly. Oh - I'm the cute one in the center - LOL!!
(image) Remember the accordion-playing girl? This was me in high school - 64 would have been freshman year. We wore these heavy, itchy wool uniforms for marching band (whether it was 90 or 30 degrees out) and for two band concerts held in a tiny little, sweltering gym each year. I loved band - most of my friends were in band, and we had so much fun. I played the French horn - I can always pick out the French horns in classical music - truly a beautiful sound.



warm thoughts on a cold day

2008-02-10T18:55:07.909-06:00

(image) I realized today that Mark won't be home on Valentine's Day. I was not happy. Over the course of five weeks, he will have been gone a total of four. Believe it or not, I actually prefer to have him here! :) It was so cold this weekend that we didn't even go out for an early celebration. Maybe we'll do something fun next weekend. In the meantime, I said no to roses. I LOVE roses - but I much prefer them in the summer gardens. This time of year I'm yearning for tulips and daffodils. A nice little winter get-away to a beach somewhere would be very welcome also!

One of my favorite Valentine recollections is of one several years ago. Mark left work early and met me at a theater complex to see the 4pm showing of Chocolate. It was so fun - so out of the norm - to go to a weekday matinee. I loved it.

(image) Mark caught Kobie and Tess this week on a warmer day - the bright sun had them squinting, but we were all enjoying the relative warmth.

I am in love with the European Peasant Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It has a little rye flour and a little whole wheat flour, and the taste is wonderful - kind of a nutty flavor I think. I've also made focaccia from the olive oil dough. I think I'll probably have to try all of the doughs in the book - what a hardship! LOL



new garden - part deux

2008-02-08T14:59:12.693-06:00

My apologies to everyone who visited this post earlier! Mark just picked up books at the library for me - one of them was The Jane Austen Book Club. I was reading the back of the book - this copy has info on the movie. "Kathy BAKER" jumps off the page at me. Oh, no, I know I wrote Kathy Bates - shoot. Yup, a quick check of the blog and indeed that's exactly what I did. I'm so sorry. However, if you see the movie, I don't think you'll be disappointed - Kathy BAKER is absolutely wonderful.Thanks for the comments on my new garden ideas for the driveway. I look forward to reading more! As I was reading the comments, it occurred to me I didn't give you as much info as I could have. The driveway is on the north-northwest side of our house. Last year I placed half barrels along the edge of the driveway in an attempt to ward off some of the construction traffic on our street. The overview photo on yesterday's post was taken at about 9 am - the sun hadn't made it to the driveway yet. The second photo in this post was taken at 10:30 am - and you can see that the barrel is casting a shadow. The first photo shown here was taken at about 6 pm, so I get at least 8 hours of bright, hot sunshine along the edge of the road - where the garden will be placed. (photos taken around 7/20) ((the shadow on the left side of this photo is me trying to get a photo without a shadow - lol))Last night I was checking more info on the net and making notes, and I started thinking that I'm not sure actually where my sun is in that area. The barrels did fine on all sides because they get all day sun basically from side to side. But if I plant a taller ornamental grass, the street side may not get as much sun as I was thinking. I'm not sure how the summer sun works its way across this space. I wouldn't be too upset to just plant a lovely big stand of ornamental grass - or to have a few other shorter plants on the house side - it would look nice from the house and patio area. I know Mark wants me to keep as much driveway space as possible because he's afraid I'll eventually treat the driveway like I do the yard - it's all potential garden. I can't actually deny that thought has crossed my mind! :) One thought I had was to plant the grasses kind of behind the rocks I want out there - with half barrels of annuals as fill for the forward space. So many possibilities!! I appreciate your input - and no doubt you will be hearing most of the thoughts that flit through my little brain on this topic. Tuesday night I watched The Jane Austen Book Club. I loved it. I adored the group of women in this movie. Kathy BAKER played the oldest member of the group - and she was so nurturing to the other women - without being overbearing or cloying. I thought perhaps I want to be that character when (if) I grow up. Or maybe better yet, I want a best friend just like her. She was so confident with who she was - again, without being pushy or controlling about it - I just loved her. I thought it was a good chick flick. [...]



a new garden?

2008-02-06T16:35:07.119-06:00

Okay, I'm kind of psyched. Some blogs I've visited lately have been showing garden photos from last year - instead of snow, snow and more snow - and quite a few gardeners are thinking about plans for this spring. Thank you - started me thinking about my own garden plans!One area I would really like to do some major revamping is our driveway. We live on a narrow dead-end street that would probably qualify as an alley. Parking is at a premium. But what I've noticed for us is that we need tons of parking only 2 or 3 times a year. Wouldn't it be easier to arrange the parking we need for those 2 or 3 times instead of having this huge open (and might I add, ugly) driveway along the street?When we first moved into this house, the gravel area you see in the above photo was a grassy area that was about 18-24 inches lower than the street. It's enclosed with a cement retaining wall that runs along the street and back to the garage. When our sons started driving we filled in that lawn area to enlarge the driveway. It was a good choice - for years we really needed all that room for cars. But I'm thinking it's time to make it look pretty and more inviting again.We still need room for cars and boats and utility trailers in the driveway, but I'm thinking maybe I could dig up a portion of the driveway along the street and fill it in with good black dirt and plant a pretty little boulevard garden. I'm thinking about tall ornamental grasses with shorter plants in front (toward the street) - and, oh yes, a couple of nice rocks to hopefully keep people from driving through my lovely new garden. We would still have room for the utility trailer and to store a boat in the winter. The trailer would be at least partially screened from the street, which I'm sure would make some of our neighbors happier. And our kitchen door and patio area would be partially screened from their view. I'm thinking lots of happier people!! So, this is where you all come in. Our street isn't as heavily sanded and salted in the winter as a lot of places, but we still get a fair amount. I'll need to plant things that are fairly salt tolerant - both from salt spray and salt in the soil. So far my research has led me to believe that Karl Foerster reed grass is the perfect solution for the screening part. Have any of you grown the Karl Foerster? I'm also looking for shorter plants to fill in around the rocks and in front of the grass. If any of you have suggestions - for tall or shorter plants - I'd love to hear them. There are lots of primary roads in the Cities that have beautiful plantings, so I can do some research here also and see what cities and counties have chosen for their salt-tolerant plantings. I'm so excited about this! Keep your fingers crossed that I can come up with a plan that both Mark and the city will approve!! An added plus is that I really like ornamental grasses - but can't have them in the main gardens because Kobie eats them - I mean eats them to the ground on a regular basis. This would be an area that he doesn't get to visit without supervision. Gosh, it's beginning to feel like spring! :)[...]



Winter hibernation

2008-02-01T13:44:11.348-06:00

A couple weeks ago I posted a photo of some baked ziti I had made for dinner that night. Lynne asked me if I would share the recipe. Of course!! It's from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - one of my favorite cookbooks.Baked Ziti with Tomatoes and Mozzarella1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling the dish2 garlic cloves, minced1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes2 tbsp minced fresh basil1/4 tsp sugarSalt1 pound ziti (or any short tubular pasta like rigatoni or penne)8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees - rack in middle position.2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the ziti.3. Cook 1 tbsp oil and the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned - about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.4. When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tbsp salt and the ziti. Cook, stirring often, until the ziti is almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.5. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the ziti and return it to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce and toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.6. Spread half of the ziti in an oiled 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese. Spread the remaining ziti in the dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.7. Bake until the cheeses turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.Note: you can add 1 lb cooked hot or sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the skillet with the tomatoes if desired. I use frozen tomatoes in place of the 2 cans of tomatoes called for. And I use more cheese than they call for. :)Serves 6I usually make a half recipe and Mark and I easily get 2 generous meals out of it. I've done both the vegetarian and the Italian sausage - both were very, very good. Lynne, if you try it, let me know what you think!So, I've been very bad at blogging lately! I guess nothing too interesting has been happening here - it seems to be all about the weather - either unseasonably nice days or deep-freeze cold. Hopefully, we've seen the last of the frigid cold for awhile.I've been trying to organize my storage areas. I don't really understand why I have to do this EVERY year - obviously I haven't quite hit on the right place for everything yet!! One thing I did that I am very pleased with is moving the barrister into the dining room. It makes a great china cabinet! And it takes up less space than the ice box. The ice box moved into the living room - but, of course, not where I had the barrister. Mark was shaking his head, but it was necessary to move 3 large cabinets to make this all work. :)Right now, I have crystal in the barrister. But, truth be told, I rarely use my beautiful crystal pieces - even when they're staring me in the face. So I'm thinking about packing the crystal away for awhile and filling the barrister with everyday stuff - kind of leaning toward putting pottery in it. I'm sure you'll see photos if I actually do that!!The other big move I made was to take all of the photos out of this cabinet. You know the ones - the boxes and bags of photos that should be in albums, but, sadly, are not. I decided I needed more space for table linens - and also a place for beach towels. This cabinet worked perfectly. I kept the placemats in the dining room hutch because we use them more often when it's just Mark and me here. I'm excited about having beach towels handy - we can [...]



land of bread and honey

2008-01-19T16:54:21.689-06:00

(image) Christmas Eve we did a grab bag gift exchange (with a fun little game that involved stealing gifts etc). Mark's dad, Everett, and Marlene brought jars of honey made in Rochester, Minnesota, as their grab bag gifts. Mark ended up with one (yay! way to go, Mark!!). This honey is sooooo good - and as a bonus, it qualifies as locally grown food. Later Marlene told me to check out their website, Johnston Honey, because they have their beautiful gardens featured on the site. I've been checking them out, and they are indeed beautiful. So I thought I should share them with my blogger friends - especially because so many of you, like me, are looking at snow and/or cold instead of lovely flowers right now. I couldn't see that they have a slideshow feature, so the site is kind of cumbersome to use, but well worth the time. Let me know what you think.

(image) Today (and for the next few days) we are hovering right around zero for highs, so I made homemade vegetable soup and crusty rolls for tonight's dinner. The rolls look really good, and I may have to sneak one before dinner time! But I wanted to show you the breadboard Mark made me. I read (was it in Artisan Bread??) that the best way to store cut crusty bread was with the cut side down on a breadboard. One night last week we had to go out for awhile, and I couldn't leave the bread on the pullout breadboard because Mr Kobie would have helped himself to it while we were gone. So I told Mark I needed a small breadboard that I could set back on the counter. Two days later I had this lovely board. He used maple and walnut to make it, and it is beautiful. He's taking over the garage with his woodshop, but I'm thinking it might not be a bad thing! :)
Hope you all are surviving this cold weather (or enjoying the warm temps if that's your reality!!). I'm hoping to get back into the blogging stuff soon.



restocking what melted

2008-01-11T19:21:39.745-06:00

We've been enjoying some warm temps which means melting snow. But tonight it's being replenished. The dogs came in covered in big fat flakes. Kobie was nice enough to pose for me. By the time I got the camera it was melting fast, but he was such a good sport, let's let him think he was still covered in white.

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Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: How-To

2008-01-11T19:30:26.653-06:00

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Another interview with Zoe and Jeff making the bread.




Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

2008-01-11T15:38:29.020-06:00

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Here's a video that shows the authors of the 5 minute a day bread making it. Simple!




grumpy old men, a loaf of bread, and ziti

2008-01-10T20:36:45.441-06:00

(image) This was a corner of our lake last weekend. We've been enjoying some nice temps - and everyone is out taking advantage of it. We regularly see ice fishermen, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. The great lazy dogs love having all of this activity to bark at - I think they're saying, "Come open the gate - we'll play with you!"

(image) This was my third loaf of bread. I used parchment paper on the peel and stone, and I think it came out perfect. No burnt cornmeal, nice crust, and the taste is out of this world. My dough has been sitting in the fridge now for a week - and this loaf I definitely noticed a slight sourdough taste. Very nice.

(image) Tonight I made baked ziti with roasted tomatoes from my garden (via the freezer!) and mozzarella. It was divine. For whatever reason, I've been in a cooking and baking mood lately - it can't last, but nice for right now!



a walk at the Arb

2008-01-07T16:50:48.633-06:00

Thanks for all of your comments about the bread I'm experimenting with. I didn't bake any over the weekend or today, but will let you know how the next loaf comes out. We've been enjoying some really nice weather (for winter in Minnesota!!), so today I went to the Arb for a walk. I walk there year round - it's good for my soul. Here are a few of the beautiful things I saw. These are some of the holiday/winter containers they display. A lot of them are made by area garden centers and designers. In the visitor center they had several trees displayed over the holidays - they were all decorated with natural materials - dried hydrangea, seed heads, pinecones, ornaments made from bark, etc. They were very fun to see - lots of great ideas to try and remember to use next year here at home! These two photos are from the Japanese garden area. In nicer weather, the area in the bottom photo has a pond and waterfall - and koi swimming around. Very pretty and peaceful. The tree stump you see next to the treehouse was a huge old oak tree. It and a former treehouse were damaged in a big storm a few years ago. They rebuilt the treehouse and retained the stump, kind of as a tribute to the wonderful tree that was there. I used to sit in the treehouse on nice spring days and read a book or write in my journal. It was fun. Maybe sometime I'll be taking my grandson to play in it!! Look how pretty these red dogwoods are against the white snow. Is there anything more grand in the northern winter landscape than beautiful, big evergreens? I thought this stand of ornamental grass was pretty too - you can see the seeds.[...]



Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

2008-01-05T00:03:57.512-06:00

I found the bread recipe that I'm experimenting with published on a local TV website. So, here is what they published. The book starts with this basic dough recipe and also has tons of other doughs that follow the same basic principles. The book is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their website is http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/Master Recipe Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: the Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin?s Press, Nov 2007)The full recipe as it appears in the book provides more detail, but most home bakers will be able to get a start on five-minute a day homemade bread with this short version of the recipe. Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for four loaves, to be baked over four days. Each daily loaf will average 5 minutes of active preparation time.Makes four 1-pound loaves3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)Cornmeal for the pizza peel.In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.6.Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.(I do the original mix with a Kitchen Aid mixer)Wh[...]



sunrises and bread

2008-01-04T11:34:55.690-06:00

Thank you so much for all of your kind and encouraging comments about our new family member. When April rolls around, you'll be hearing every detail, I'm sure! I foresee many trips to Seattle in my future this next year - I can't wait to welcome this sweet baby boy into our family in person.

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This was part of our sunrise yesterday - it was stunning. The sky was maybe even prettier later - but the wind was blowing like 100 mph at the time - and after I took this photo I was frozen!! It did turn out to be a fairly nice day - and today looks even better. When I finish posting this, I'm heading down to the Arb for a walk.

I have been trying to catch up on my blog reading - I have to read every single post I've missed, so if I haven't left you a comment yet, never fear - I'll be there! Mark even loaned me his laptop so I could sit by the fireplace or look out over the lake while I'm catching up. What a sweetie! You all have been busy - it's so fun to see all of your holiday decorations and celebrations - thanks for sharing with me!

(image) I'm baking bread - a couple people who live here in Minneapolis have put out a new cookbook - Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - or something like that. It's similar to the No-Knead bread - but really much quicker. This was my first loaf - I was supposed to shape a 1 lb glob of very wet dough - they said about the size of a grapefruit. I only pulled the size of a peach. Oops. However, even though it wasn't a great loaf, we enjoyed it - the flavor was very good. I made French onion soup from scratch - and it was lovely with the bread and shredded Swiss cheese.


This morning I pulled the right amount of dough, but it stuck to the peel when I tried to put it on the baking stone - so it's very misshapen. And then I was blogging when it should have come out of the oven, so a little - well, BLACK on the bottom. I'm pretty sure I'll find a way to eat most of the loaf anyway! lol My big question to you bread bakers out there: I'm supposed to generously sprinkle corn meal on the baking stone - but it burns - so my house smells like burnt cornmeal instead of fresh baked bread. The bread isn't burned (if I pull it out at the right time!), but I was kind of hoping more for the smell of baked bread! What am I doing wrong?? I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, I'm going to keep experimenting - and reading - and I'll keep you posted.



holiday reading

2008-01-04T11:34:21.070-06:00

Looks like I've actually put away quite a few books since I last posted a list. The first was "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer. I read "Into Thin Air" several years ago and had mixed feelings about it when I was done. I felt the same with this book. It was interesting - but...I have the movie on my Netflix list - it will be available in February - and maybe reading the book will give me a better appreciation of the movie - or vice versa. I think maybe it's that his writing is very intense, and I feel totally drained when I'm done. "The View from Mount Joy" by Lorna Landvik was good. Landvik is from the Twin Cities, so I have a built-in interest in her books. I don't think she's the best author I read - but I usually enjoy reading her. This was like that - yeah, read it - but don't expect it to be the highlight of the year for you. (Wow - makes you wonder why I'm doing this post, doesn't it????) Now, William Kent Krueger, I'm totally into. I have the next two Cork O'Connor books sitting on my little table - I can't wait to get at them. He tells a really good tale - and I totally love all of the Native American info he includes. This is the third Baldacci book I've read - and I'm a fan. This was a really good one. Mark has read two of them and likes them also. This is the second in a trilogy by Louise Penny - "A Fatal Grace" - I love her books!!! I love the people in her stories - I love the little town she sets her stories in - READ THESE!!! I just received an email notice from our library that her third book is on order - they're only getting 7 copies, but I am number 3 on the list - yay!! I can't wait. This is the first book I've read by Jodi Picoult - but now she's on my radar. "My Sister's Keeper" was a great book - parts were very hard to read - parts were so uplifting. It's a story of a family whose second child develops a rare form of leukemia - and basically they choose to have a "designer baby" to help her. I can't imagine the choices families have to make when they're faced with this - but this book deals with it beautifully.[...]



winding down the holiday

2007-12-29T13:40:38.641-06:00

Well, I'm being gently prodded to please put up a new post! What a busy couple weeks this has been, but I am very ready to get back to blogging. I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. Ours was very, very nice.

(image) Remember the cute card my niece sent us - with the clothespins and mittens? We received this one from her sister a few days later. Their mom is very creative, and I'm thinking the apples didn't fall far from the tree! Thanks, Anni, I love this card!
(image) We had a white Christmas - like a little bit of snow every single day!! But it's very pretty, so no complaints here. I took this one afternoon just before the entire sky turned orange. I loved the way the sun was highlighting some of the trees with a beautiful glow.

(image) I never did get a photo of our tree with presents underneath. I told you it was a little different this year!! I've had a very nice artificial tree for the last 10-12 years. This year when I pulled it out, it looked pretty tuckered. I was planning to replace it at an after-Christmas sale, but now I'm thinking this little sheet metal tree is perfect! It just feels like the perfect "Charlie Brown" tree to me.
(image) Everyone was saying I should at least hang a few ornaments on it - but to me, the holes and stars look like ornaments. I really totally love it. We'll see how I feel next year. :)

(image) Last, but certainly not least, we have some news to share. In mid-April, Mark and I will be grandparents for the first time!!!! We are soooooooo excited. Sara looked wonderful while they were here - and Ryan is going to be a wonderful daddy. This is a small teddy bear that we put under the tree for this much anticipated baby boy. You will be hearing tons about him, for sure!!