Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Vegetable Garden

I am trying two raised beds this year as a vegetable garden. Each measures 3 ft. x 3 ft. and is 10 inches deep.

Dan did most of the work to put them down level by using the pick axe.

We went to Home Depot for soil and a couple of bags of humus/manure. The soil came with lots of additives and there wasn't much choice. We got 9 bags to split between the two beds.
Here they are filled in. I can't wait to plant but am waiting on my seed order and free seeds from my daughter.
I couldn't have done it in one day without Dan's help.

Dinner

Had friends for dinner last night. Here's the menu:

brie cheese with almonds
asparagus soup
bison meatballs
angel hair pasta
tomato and basil sauce
salad
chocolate cake
strawberries sauce

Here's the chocolate cake recipe (courtesy of Country Living Magazine):
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup sifted cake flour (I used King Arthur unbleached)
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee, warm
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 400. Lightly coat an 8 inch round cake pan with PAM and dust with flour. (Or cut a round of wax paper for the bottom instead of the flour.)

Whisk the flour, cocoa, soda, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Stir the coffee, oil, vinegar, extract together in another bowl or large measuring container.

Whisk the liquids into the dry ingredients just until smooth.

Pour batter into pan and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan and then remove to serving plate.

Cake may be iced or I like to serve with strawberries in syrup and whipped cream or ice cream.

Fresh Strawberries Sauce.
1 pint ripe strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar

Lightly rinse the strawberries and pat dry. Hull and cut up into a bowl. Toss with lemon juice and sugar and let stand for 2 hours to let juices develop. Refrigerate covered for up to 4 hours before using.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just Finished ...

"The Road of Lost Innocence, The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine" by Somaly Mam. Found it on the new book shelf at the library. It is quite a horrific account of her experience as a sex slave and how she escaped. She is leading an effort to eliminate the practice of selling young girls into slavery by educating men and women of Cambodia.

Bird Unknown



I noticed this bird last week around the feeder. He wasn't very scared of me. I called Dan over to look at it and he thought it look like a youngster. It's a little early for fledglings. We weren't even sure what it was. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bluebirds


I noticed the bluebird male sitting on the bluebird house in my yard this morning. If he's ready to start building a nest I decided I'd better clear out the old one for him.









Here's the old nest removed.








Here's the empty birdhouse waiting for a new nest.

Monday, March 2, 2009

SNOW

View from my study window towards the pond and driveway beyond.
View from the bedroom looking at the great room. Compost bin is there buried in snow.
View for the bedroom looking over perennial garden towards the glen.

Do Birds take Turns?





It's a snowy, wintry day and my bird feeders are very popular. But watching the drama out there makes me wonder if the birds have a pecking order and take turns.

What do you think?

Cardinals waiting their turn?
Next stop before the feeder?
What about juncos?

Another Book Finished

This book club I'm in is really inspiring me to read more which I'm liking a lot. The latest book is one the book club read last year and was highly recommended. I found it at the library and just finished it even though I haven't started the book for the next meeting on March 20th.

Anyway the book is "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. It's a heart wrenching life story of her growing up with terribly self centered parents who definitely marched to the beat of their own drummers and not in step with each other or with any concern for their 4 children.

My parents lived in West Virginia for awhile in the 80s and 90s which is where this book takes place for the second half of the writer's childhood. My mom would volunteer at a thrift shop and told us of families that would come in periodically to get clothing because it was cheaper (or free) than using the laundromat. Thrift shops and hand-me-downs were Jeannette's source of clothing through high school.

I'll let the writer speak for herself. Here she is on youtube
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