Wordless Wednesday

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Slow Down and Enjoy

Slow down and Enjoy - and take a closer look

I’ve had a very busy few weeks all capped off by a large party this weekend at our home (and all of it was great fun – no complaints here!), but what I realized this weekend was that I’m so focused on trying to make the gardens look their best, not to mention the food, house etc., that I tend to see what’s wrong rather than what’s right with my efforts.  I spot the weeds at the back of the border, the fish that split in half during poaching and the hairball bunny from our very longhaired cats rolling along the baseboard.  My zen moment came when someone said how lovely everything was and I honestly didn’t believe them.  Then I took a moment to step back and look.  It was all actually kind of nice, and no one saw the weeds, the split fish or the hairball bunny (and if they did they were sweet enough not to mention it!).

The moral of my story?  Slow down and enjoy, and in my case stop being so critical of my efforts.  Oh!  And definitely have that extra glass of wine!

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Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

One of my all time favorite things is the little flag that you have on the back of your beach chair in many resorts.  I love having someone bring me a cool drink while I’m lying in the hot sun!  This prior week we we’re at a family wedding somewhere beautiful and (very) warm.  Alcohol was not in the game plan during the heat of the day so I discovered the perfect lemonade on their menu – Strawberry Basil Lemonade…

I laugh at my own picture above because as I walked around trying to figure out where to take the photo, I kept sipping.  They’re really good!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Ingredients

  • Lemon Juice (I used fresh on this round but when making lemonade I often use bottled - sacrilege I know. I buy Santa Cruz Organics - it's quite good.)
  • Water
  • Sugar or Simple Syrup (Simple Syrup is easy to make at home, 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water)
  • 2 or 3 Strawberries per glass
  • 1 sprig Basil per glass

Directions

Mix your lemon juice, water and sugar to taste and chill (I hope I really don't need to tell you how to make lemonade)
Cut the strawberries in half and plop them in a pretty glass, fill with lemonade and then pop the basil in. Add straw and sip.

The basil adds such great flavor and odds are you have a ton of it growing in your garden right now.  And if you’re inclined to make it boozy I’d go with a shot of vodka.

And as an odd little note, I’ve been sipping with one of these…

Spoon for Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Spoon for Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Its an iced tea spoon, but it has a straw!  Love it!

Happy sipping everyone!

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Wordless Wednesday

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Plants for Patios and Pathways

My garden overfloweth (is that a word?) and I’m always trying to find space for another plant.  I found inspiration recently via an old photo I’ve glanced at time, and time again.  It’s from the book, ‘The Gardens at Highgrove’…  Highgrove, if you don’t know, is Prince Charles’ home in England and the grounds are beyond lovely.

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This photo has always sparked my interest  because it’s a part of a terrace and it’s loaded with plant material you wouldn’t normally expect to be growing in such tight quarters.  Tucked in those cracks are primrose, columbine, mollis, thyme, myosotis and mint – that I can see!  I’ve read that at the point this was taken, he had someone dedicated to weeding it which is not hard to believe.

I think my epiphany came when I had set a pot of ‘May Night’ salvia for a season on the patio and it dutifully rooted itself into the cracks.  I ripped it when I moved the pot and those tenacious roots have spawned a brand new plant (two in fact).

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So, I’ve started to tuck plants into my patio.  I’ve had to concentrate on the perimeter while keeping the center weed free with kettles filled with boiling water – one of my favorite weeding methods as you know.  Crabgrass and purslane have not been my friends in this regard but the goal is to keep adding plants, and via trial and error (been there killed that), see who thrives.

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European ginger…

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Dianthus has self seeded.

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Dianthus and thyme…

 

DSC02072And I’m not thrilled with the catmint, it’s a bit scraggily, but my cats truly love it and I’d hate to hurt their feelings.

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The nasturtium is happy and thriving, the loosestrife self seeded from someplace, and while it looks lovely, I will rip it out before it sets seed.  It shows you why it’s such a tenacious invasive.

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And I love this cute little portulaca that has seeded himself into a crack under the salvia.  It will thrive in the hot, dry climate that is my patio…

So I’m trying new things!  I have thyme growing in the center but it never does very well.  I’ve swept compost across the pavers to help everyone root in a bit and I think my next step is to start spreading seed from various plants.  Columbine, mollis and pansies are all in my planting plan.  I’m also going to try something called Brass Buttons (Leptinella Squalida).  It can handle foot traffic, spreads well in sun or shade and is a zone 4.  Crossing my fingers it will fill in the blank spots!

Have you tried growing things in your patio/pavers???  I’d love to hear, and if you have any plant suggestions I’d love to know!

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Wordless Wednesday

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Happy Fourth of July!

 

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“The Star Spangled Banner”

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

I’m going to hop on the Wordless Wednesday wagon and start posting straight garden photos on these days – so this is an almost wordless Wednesday – hope you enjoy!…

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Garden Salads are Ready!

They always say to grow what you love in your vegetable garden, and one of my favorite things ever is a fresh picked garden salad.  And the good news?  Garden salads are ready for the table!

I’m a fan of not just lettuces but herbs, vegetables and flowers as well (plus homemade croutons, cheese etc…. so good!).  The various flavors you can add are amazing and the lettuce leaves are more delicate than anything you could ever find in a grocery store.

Garden Salads are Ready!

So delicate

Garden Salads are Ready!

Arugala

Garden Salads are Ready!

Radishes cleaned and ready to go

Garden Salads are Ready!

Parsley is a lovely addition to salads, has a healthy dose of vitamins like A & C and plenty of iron and calcium and it’s also an anti-inflammatory.

Garden Salads are Ready!

New Zealand Spinach

Garden Salads are Ready!

Pea shoots and flowers – if you use these, make sure they’re fresh. If not they taste like dried grass.

Garden Salads are Ready!

Chive blossoms give that lovely, mellow, onion flavor.

Garden Salads are Ready!

I add nasturtium flowers later in the year, I don’t have any just yet, but I do have loads of leaves which have a fabulous peppery flavor just like the flowers.

Clean your lovely lettuces by dunking them in a really big bowl or sink full of cold water.  Swish them around a bit and let the sand and dirt fall to the bottom.  Remove them and dry them in a salad spinner (I’m not a gadget person but I love this!)  The dryer the leaves are the better the dressing will cling.  And don’t pour on something from a bottle.  Make a quick vinaigrette to sprinkle on – it won’t overpower something this perfect…

Garden Salads are Ready!  spinners are great for drying salad quickly so your dressing will stick

This is the greatest for drying lettuce. I have a 500 year old version, but they’re super inexpensive and last for ages.

Garden Salads are Ready! OXO dressing shaker makes short work of homemade dressing

And I love my new purchase. It’s like a cocktail shaker for salad dressing and then it has a nice, little, no-mess pour spout so I don’t cover myself in dressing.

Hope you’re garden is starting to produce abundantly.  It’s such a great time of the year!

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