Gardening + Nature

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I continue to make the super easy berry margaritas! You can, too. Fill a pint or quart jar with berries, this was quartered strawberries, top off with your favorite tequila, let sit in the fridge for a week, strain, and enjoy in your preferred recipe. Mine, perhaps?

Homemade red chile, possibly my best batch ever, topped a deliciously rare flank steak, with perfect pintos and homemade tortillas, too. We do alright.

I am a big fan of Korea (the Southern part, anyway) and their wonderfully tasty food and bought a super cookbook by Aaron Huh called Simply Korean. This salad is topped with a close riff on his beef bulgogi patties and my own gochujang dressing. I’ve also made them into some freaking fantastic Korean burgers. Highly recommend.

This is what happens when you mix lye and prickly pear juice (home grown and made) to make soap. It will all eventually be the golden color at the bottom but still feel pretty luxurious on the skin. Chemistry!

Saving the most beautiful until the last, with the sweetest scents of the season for the moment. It has been a slow unfolding here, with us late to clear the gardens of their fall and winter accumulations, unearthing green and ruby shoots aplenty. While I clipped and piled and raked, Greg spread compost from our massive pile, the not-so-magical alchemy of debris and time that makes our garden thrive.

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A couple weeks ago, we got the most snowfall since moving back to Colorado, and the greatest in my personal memory since the Blizzard of ’82. It started sweetly, with the quiet magic of a snow globe, and it kept falling for a good 48 hours.

Up top is how it looked on the first day, which was about 8-10″ and some of the heaviest snow these arms have ever shoveled. Juniper could happily frolic, in her usual blissful ignorance that snow is actually her arch nemesis water, fluffed up and beautiful. By the end, and captured in the final photo, are two feet of slightly less heavy, but uncomfortably above her chest depths in the back garden. Greg (a.k.a. Pops) was her champion and created a series of paths for her to run and play and get business done.

But, gosh, how lovely and magical…

marigold
zinnia
orange horned poppy
prickly poppy buffet
rabbit brush
morning glory
hawk
visitor

The final garden hurrah is upon us, with a cold snap to arrive by the end of the week. It was a challenging summer: the deaths of two beloved children, a horrible job left, a knee injury, a surgery, and wretched COVID. We are ready to move forward, to welcome the frost and snow. A new season to begin again. Cheers to that!

I simply cannot resist the beauty of a perfect burger, grilled by the G-Man, of course. I am grateful he took up the mantle. I bake, broil, braise, and saute with the best of them indoors, but do not enjoy outdoor cooking AT ALL. Number 1,460,000 we are a match made in heaven.

In an effort to use a plethora of petals and keep our high desert skin as dewy as possible, I found a recipe for easy hydrosols and made a batch of rose. It left behind this gorgeous pink rosewater, and, as you well know, I hate waste, so I whipped it into a lemonade. It was delicious, a singular flavor I fail to find the words to exactly describe.

Blueberry Lemonade Cookies, the perfect summer treat, even though we are almost full on Fall, eek! I used the Cloudy Kitchen Funfetti recipe, substituting 3/4 cup dried blueberries for the sprinkles, one tablespoon lemon juice for the vanilla, and the zest of one large lemon. Highly addictive, they are delightfully tart with a crispy edge and soft middle. Even Greg, mister chocolate, loves them.

It is canteloupe season! This year has been especially flavorful.

You know how sometimes you forget the resources you actually own and look for the new? In one such fit for salad recipes, I was scouring the interwebs before remembering a Williams-Sonoma cookbook sitting right on the living room shelf. This is my riff on their Caesar Style with Poblano Chiles (page 23). I didn’t have poblano but a plethora of diced green chiles and Costco shredded rotisserie breast, so here we are. It was most delicious! In true Southwest style, I paired it with a glass of fizzy prickly pear lemonade. Yum-yum.

As somewhat of an organization freak, I enjoy me a well tidied shelf and drawer. I had a hodge-podge of bottles, jars, and zip-top bags here, and it honestly made my head hurt. I found some snazzy jars with bees on them at Sierra (since they were closeouts and could run out at any moment, I am not including the link), bought a boat load, and got to work. I also have a slightly embarrassing number of washi tape rolls and made the most of a cute polka dot pattern. How wonderful to easily find what we are looking for!

Sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers!

The horsetail milkweed blossoms are so tiny in comparison to the bees but no less favored for their sweet nectar!

My mom gave me some old seed packets she had lying around, and this zinnia is one of the few that sprouted! It grew into an amazingly large bloom in a fuscia hue.

This plant-filled stock tank hides our unsightly gas meter and is looking its very best. Also, how cute is the volunteer marigold?!

In an effort to save birds from an untimely death by flying into our sliding door when we first moved in, I bought a roll of polka-dotted film that prevented the glass from reflecting. It worked quite well until this summer when it started to flake and peel. I found the rainbow reflecting adhesives (“sticking” with water!), and Greg and I did the not-so-fun job of removing the old and replacing it with the new. How about that beautiful rainbow in the morning light?!

The World War II Aviation Museum here in Colorado Springs flew these planes over the weekend. The first is a North American B-25 Mitchell, and the second is a Grumman TBM Avenger. Pretty cool! I love how they have the ability to keep this history alive.

I think Juniper knows, even in sleep, what the sound of a lens cap being removed means. Mama, are you trying to take my picture???

More garden shots for you. The desert willow has hundreds of blooms and a near constant stream of bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths. I often sit mesmerized at the living room window watching the spectacle.

I can’t believe the robins and squirrels haven’t gobbled all of the choke cherries, but here we are with an intact bunch.

Aspen leaves quaking in the breeze. With an abundance of rain this season, this tree, transplanted from a sprout in the front garden, has grown an astounding three feet this year to make it about 10 feet tall. Fingers crossed it makes it through winter!

Our reddest sunflower. Have a wonderful week…

callirhoe
yarrow
hyssop
lavender
ninebark
horehound
jupiter’s beard
hollyhock
gaillardia
fern bush
red birds in a tree
goldenrod

Hello! Welcome to our garden in full flower. With an abundance of rain and sun blessing our little parcel of land, we’ve had massive, jungle-like growth. A tad over the top, to be sure, but I’m delighted to keep the zooming insect bellies full (note the three bees on the fern bush!). We also had three pretty nasty hail storms; one so extensive it looked like snow on the ground for several hours afterwards, oof. As you can imagine, I am even more pleased my flowering friends are doing so well. A tale of resilience, absolutely.

The surgery to remove my gallbladder is scheduled, huzzah! It is a few weeks from now, which feels wonderful and right on time, as my various intestinal woes are on the increase. My surgeon is youthful and seems quite confident, competent, and thorough. That said, if you could send your good thoughts along, I would sure appreciate them!

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