Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Happy Kitchen

It's February, and the garden is still asleep. That means I still have nothing garden related to post about! But as I moved around the kitchen this morning, I realized how much that space makes me smile. Even eating off my favorite plates makes me smile!
Whether or not it's a cliche, I think most everyone would agree that a kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It's where we gather, it's where we are fed. It's where we connect with our family and friends. It's where nourishing foods are prepared with a loving touch.
The sunny, south facing windows were one big reason why we bought this house. Enough sunshine streams in, even in winter, that it encouraged a bloom from the cactus that grows in a pot I brought home from Mexico. I've never seen this plant bloom before. This qualifies as gardening, right?
And I can never resist those brightly colored primrose pots blooming in the grocery store this time of year. I do plant them outdoors once the weather cooperates. 
We've been slowly updating our kitchen space. We already added bright paint colors, and other simple touches. But now we're starting to do some bigger projects. We added new quartz counter tops, and I just love the silver sparkles in it. That's why I added a shiny silver colander full of apples in the middle of the island, to reflect the sparkles. It makes me happy every time I see it! Sometimes I fill it with lemons or limes, and next I might even use fresh artichokes.
Now I think I want to paint the cabinets white. The orangey oak color just isn't the thing anymore, is it? But I do love the orange soffit, and the asparagus green walls. Since I'm a wine aficionado, the Wine and Dine signs over my pantries were just the touch I was looking for. We bought the microwave over the stove as a Christmas present to each other, and I like how it looks there. But it does make me want to match up all the rest of my appliances so that they are all stainless steel. Ooh, that sounds pricey. I'd better wait on that. 
Besides being a wine lover, I'm also a tea lover. I drink it hot and iced, all day long. I have a habit of picking up teapot and tea cup shaped objects when I see them, especially planters.
I also pick up cute teapots now and then, even though I don't really use them. This one resides on my baker's rack next to the back door. The microwave was on this rack before, and I like being able to keep a few special objects on it now.
Well, that's about it for today in my kitchen. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a bowl of BBQ Bean Soup with my name on it. What better way to stay warm on a cold winter's day?
Barbecue Bean Soup

16 oz bag dried northern beans
8 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. diced ham
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
16 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 T. mustard
1/4 c. chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, then discard water before cooking. Fill bean pot with fresh 8 cups of water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 3 hours until beans are tender, adding water as needed. As beans soften, watch closely for scorching.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Onward to the New Year

Well, I finally decided to update my blog. I can list all the excuses, but it boils down to this. My holiday season was ridiculously busy this year, and there's not a darn thing to see outside in my garden. December was just the drabbest month. It didn't really snow, the skies were rainy and foggy, and it was just generally dreary. Blah.

 But with the arrival of the new year came the arrival of real winter time. It's been snowing, and bitter cold, just like you'd expect from winter. Brrrrr! Sometimes I think that I'll never feel warm again.

I'm ready to finally settle into my winter cocoon. Honestly, I'm looking forward to things turning a little bit dull. You see, we just held our annual wine party last night, and I'm exhausted! Don't get me wrong, it was a blast, but now I can call my time my own. We normally hold it between Christmas and New Year's, but this year we moved it off the holiday just a bit and that turned out to be a good move. However, it means that I still haven't been able to wind down from the "holidays". I promise, today I did nothing! And it felt wonderful.
In trying to inspire myself to write about gardening, I scanned through last year's pictures for ideas. Instead, I got a little lost there in my photo files. Heavy sigh. Sometimes I can put it out my mind for awhile, but seeing all those flowers reminded me just exactly what I'm missing.

 I guess that just means that one of my first winter projects will be sorting through the seed catalogs. Oh darn.
I'm actually ahead of the game with next year's seeds. I already bought some of my favorites so that they wouldn't sell out before I got to them. After all, I couldn't do without my beloved Queen Red Lime zinnias. I wonder what other treasures I'll find.
There are a couple of other winter projects to keep me occupied, and they are actually related to gardening. That's how I keep my sanity till the garden starts blooming again. I need to gather vegetable recipes for the Master Gardener farmer's market, and I need to tweak my butterfly gardening presentation before I present it to the garden club next month. Of course there are plenty of other non-garden related craft projects too. Before I know it, the first iris reticulata will pop up, and the next garden season will begin again. I can make it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye Garden, Hello Snow

I know it's November, but it's been a quick transition out of the gardening season! It was only a week ago that I spent a warm day out in the garden, getting it ready for winter. I'm so glad that I got my bulbs planted that day, because now my world is covered in snow and ice.

On that last garden day of the season, I also made sure to capture pictures of the final flowers for this year. It's hard to believe this was just a few days ago.

 There had already been several frosts at this point in time. But these were the troopers, those that continued to bloom despite the cold.

And where the flowers faded, the fall colors took their place. 

 Many times, the sun breaks through the clouds at sunset and illuminates my patio. I can't tell you how many times I've jumped up from the dinner table, grabbed my camera, and captured something special just outside the door.

Often times it's the sunset that catches my eye there. I wish there weren't other homes in the way of my view. I've been known to hop in the car and drive down to the pond to get a clear view if I see an extra pretty sunset coming.

I guess it's time to hunker down indoors till spring. Darn it, I didn't want to do that just yet! But I guess I say that every year. Hurry spring! Is it silly to say that when it isn't even officially winter yet?