Gardening + Nature

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Two decent snowstorms in two weeks, huzzah!


Peregrine Falcon methinks…

Wonderfully beautiful and delicious Basque style cheesecake – the wild crinkle of parchment serves as the crust, which is why I wanted to try it, as I feel most serve no good purpose. After making it, I saw it on the cover of a magazine and all over the interwebs. Unbeknownst trend follower. Ha!

Jeff came for a visit! In keeping with our usual modus operandi, we walked, laughed, ate very well (see above), visited the library, and played fun games, of course. I love our time together.

Lap dog dreaming…

Thanksgiving Feasting

Downtown Wandering

Mountain Gazing

A Mexican style lasagna, of sorts. Spicy, smoky roasted mushrooms and tomato, sliced butternut squash, chipotle sour cream, and cheese, of course. Delicious!

Never gets old…

Hope your holiday season is off to a fabulous start! Be safe, be well.

Happy Birthday in heaven Grandma Tess. One hundred years!

The last of our garden tomatoes, before and after roasting into a delicious soup.

The first year since moving to our Colorado house that the garden aspens actually turned sunset hues. They’re usually killed by frost or snow before the opportunity arises. What a show!

Juniper looks so little when she sleeps.

Jett came for a visit. We gorged on Italian food and homemade ice cream, shopped, walked, and puzzled. It was a great day!

Doing a lot of meat over shredded cabbage, as of late. This is a middle eastern take on ground chicken, with tomato, onion, raisins, and hot honey pinon nuts. It was delicious.

Have you watched Sprung on freevee? If you haven’t and are a laugh out loud and nice show person like me, get to it! It’s a super fun series about three people released early from prison because of COVID. I’ve watched it twice and highly recommend the same.

I am holding a John Wayne casserole made after seeing it on the show. It has a biscuit base, ground beef, cheese, and a million different iterations after that. In keeping with old school casserole vibes, I added a can of cream of mushroom soup, then a mixture of garlic and chile powders, tomato, green chile, and corn. Tasty!! I’d make it again in a heartbeat.

When Greg and I were in Wisconsin, we had some really good maple pecan fudge. Its only defect being it was a bit too sweet for us. I couldn’t get it out of my head and decided it could benefit from the bitterness of chocolate. I made a batch this past weekend, dividing the basic five-minute fudge recipe, two thirds with white chocolate chips and 3/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (real maple syrup was a major fail), and one third with the usual chocolate chips, and layering the two. It is amazing peeps!

Bought a jar of wonderful creosote and rosemary cream and a delightfully scented candle from Sonoran Rosie. So pretty and smells like the desert in bloom.

Bracelet in progress. I think I like it.

Way back in 2008, I wrote about the concoctions I made in the drinking and body care categories. One of them was kombucha, which I have made off and on in the fourteen years since. We’re in an off period now, but never say never about the future!

I also tried various deodorants and shampoos, which in their former formulations I abandoned. The deodorant paste contained baking soda and made my armpits break out in a rash after a couple months, while the shampoo eventually made my hair look greasy all the time. Live and learn.

Today I present you with what I have learned. I still make soap (and very much enjoy it!), for hand and body washing, shampoo, and pictured at top, laundry. This is made from 100% coconut oil (and lye, of course) which cleans clothes exceptionally well and will make your skin drier than dead leaves if you wash with it on the regular. Greg and I grate it with a microplane, using about two tablespoons per load. A batch of eight bars lasts well over a year, mostly because we only wash a load or two a week.

In case you wondering why, since we’re such a small family, it takes a while to achieve a full load, usually every two to three weeks for darks and once a month for lights. I considered the minimalist clothing idea at one time, only having a few items in each category, but realized with so few garments, the necessity of washing a small load of laundry all the damn time, and who wants that? No one under this red roof, I assure you. I went for a minimalist color scheme instead – black, white, grey, oatmeal, harvest yellow, forest green, turquoise, and rust for the majority of my tops and sweaters. Jeans in every fade, a single black pair of corduroys, ochre, rust, and green pants, skirts, and shorts. Most every garment is a good match for the others. I also wear everything but the undies for as long as they aren’t visibly soiled or smelly.

It’s also a boon for all of our water reducing measures in preparation for moving to Taos. We’ll have a well and collect rainwater for all of our usage, no endless city taps! It is best to be prepared well in advance.

Getting back to it, I also make hand and lip balms, with beeswax, avocado, and olive oil, sometimes with herbal infusions, like creosote bush and calendula, and the remains of lip balms I’ve gotten as gifts. The lip stuff I use several times daily and the hand balm every night at bed time. I should also mention the hand balm benefits from the addition of zinc, which is a pretty amazing all-around for skin.

In the liquid category, the pink spritz (a great re-use of a rosewater bottle) has a mixture of zinc, magnesium flakes, sulfur, and filtered water. Greg has super sensitive skin, and this is the absolute best mixture for keeping it clear, soft, and itch-free. He sprays it all over, scalp included. It is not hyperbole to say the change has been astounding. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t smell like matches, either.

The old rye bottle is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rice water, which I use as a face and hair rinse. The blue spritz is our deodorant – a combination of essential oils (tea tree and white thyme for antimicrobial properties, sweet orange for scent), water, magnesium flakes, and a touch of alcohol. The amber bottle is my moisturizing hair oil. I use castor, olive, and jojoba oil, with rosemary and mint essential oils, which are supposed to stimulate hair growth. That is not definitive, but really smells nice. It helps keep my dry ends in check, at least!

Are you still there? The camera continues to please, dear peeps, in spades!! Our first frost brought a whole host of photographic delights.

Weekend morning ritual: get up without an alarm, though shockingly close to said usual hour, enjoy a latte or three and a ginger biscuit or three, with Juniper cuddles on the sofa. Right when her pants are full to brimming with ants, we walk!

Oatmeal Raisin with flake salt, crispy-sweet, salty good.

Creamy chicken stew, made with cauliflower and cream cheese instead of actual cream, pureed to smoothness. Add ground chicken, green chiles, corn, onion, garlic, and powdered New Mexico chile galore. Eat super duper fast.

Happy Halloween!!

Oh, the variety of plants in full flower now, this almost fall final hurrah! Though I only captured one feasting bee, the garden is positively alive with them, and birds, zooming hummingbird and not so plain of every other local variety, including a Cooper’s Hawk who visits nearly on the daily, plus butterflies and regular ole flies. A garden cornucopia.

Juniper digger dog caught in the act. She has two holes she digs with abandon and our permission, this one included, and one she tries on the sly and for which is regularly scolded. A dog’s life.

Hello Neighbor, near and far! It was an exciting day at the grocery recently, with cherries on super sale! We bought two brimful bags and ate them in very short order. The height of summer pleasure, to be sure.

Our choke cherry patch is in full splendor, with the birds and squirrels positively wild for them! I contemplated picking some for jelly but watching their delight in the eating has been ample.

The orange horned poppy was battered in our late snow storm and is a bit on the small side but still blooming profusely. The word is resilience.

Matilija poppy and glimmering green sweat bee (I think). The poppy volunteered this year, and is blossoming like crazy. The bees of all stripes (literal and figurative) are zooming on it all the live long day.

The gooseberry also took a beating in our late storm while still managing a small harvest. This bush is in our Juniper-proof fenced edible garden. She’s allowed entry when we do our progress checks and watering, standing sentinel next to the bush, knowing full well I am a sucker for her charms. I take a small handful, break each open just a little and feed them to her, one by precious one. Both our hearts soar.

Stillness and Movement and Joy

Our very convoluted mattress (four compartmentalized pieces, zipped into in one heavy giant!), which is nearing the end of its useful life at nearly eight years old, was making uncomfortable bootie canyons of clutterd and fallen springs. Sad face. I got the idea that we could do some creative re-organizing, cut and flipped the affected areas, and voila! I do believe we will get at least one more year from my bit of invention. And though that looks like an awful mess at the foot now, it is entirely undetected by our wiggly feet.

When we visited New York City in 2015, I enjoyed a stellar corn soup that has never left my memory. Last week, while browsing the freezer for lunch, bags of corn and spinach called to me. I made super simple purees, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and tarragon, before carefully spooning them into bowls, NYC style. Greg called it crack soup, and I knew I’d lived up to that first taste. We’ve since enjoyed a second delicious batch.

And to our more mainstream Southwest style eats. Mushroom tacos on homemade corn tortillas, with a serious note of gratitude to Joanna Gaines for a recipe that is not too sticky. I can FINALLY make my own, easy breezy every single time. Good gracious, yum, yum, yum!

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