Tag Archive | winter

What’s Happening in My Garden – February

GardeningBooks

I’m pretty excited that, despite what’s going on in the rest of country weather-wise, spring is already in the air in the NW and I can think about my garden. We are in a new house this year with a little over an acre to start filling with color and nummy edibles.

It’s hard not to be overwhelmed … this property is pretty much a blank canvas and there are SO MANY blackberry bushes to contend with! Basically the previous owner sculpted out a lawn (thank you very much on that part at least), but did very little in the way of thinning out the perimeter bushes and brambles or planting anything with color.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks pouring over gardening books, making plans, thinking about what plants and flowers I want, where to put the veggies, where to put the roses, etc. That’s a great way to pass the final grey, rainy, dreary days of NW winter and hurry on the arrival of spring. But the past several days of sunny weather (hooray!) have enabled me to get out there and get my hands dirty and really start figuring out what I want to do. My regular daily work often tends to be kind of cerebral and I’m behind a computer a lot, so gardening is my therapy … it gets me into the fresh air, working with my hands, and thinking about color and flower and plants instead of words and ideas and books. I really need that.

I think if I create a series of small gardens instead of thinking about the whole yard at once, it will be less overwhelming. So at this point I’m going to focus on three areas and go from there. Below is a BEFORE pic of the one I’m starting on first; it will be exciting to see how it looks come summer!

GardenWinter-2

Oh, and here’s something cool (at least I thought it was). I just learned you can test your soil ph with a simple home test.  Scoop out soil from several spots around the yard and put a few tablespoons of it in bowls (test one section at a time because you may have different ph levels in different parts of your yard). To one bowl of dirt, add 1/2 cup of vinegar.  If it foams, your soil is alkaline. If nothing happens, add a little water to the second bowl, then add 1/2 cup of baking soda.  If it foams, your soil is acidic.  If nothing happens to either, your soil is neutral!  Of course this doesn’t give you a specific number, but for my purposes this was good enough to tell me what I need to add to the soil or what plants will do well in that spot (or not).

GardenWinter-4

 

Here’s the promise of things to come … really looking forward to spring. I am thankful the previous owners at least planted one daffodil and some pink hyacinths to greet me this month! 🙂

GardenWinter-6

 

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Birthday Bashes for Our Grown-up Kids

It was Hayley’s 20th birthday last weekend. So, we braved the avalanches threatening Snoqualmie Pass and headed over the mountains to visit Tyler and Lexi and Hayley and Spencer, to celebrate.  Hayley and Spencer drove over from Pullman and had a much nicer drive than we did.  Ours looked like this. In fact, we barely made it through; they closed the pass right after we crossed, for avalanche control.  Whew!

Ironically, just four short weeks ago we did the same thing for Tyler’s birthday: We braved the pass and met up with Tyler and Lexi and Lexi’s family in Roslyn, WA, which is half-way between their house and ours.  And I kid you not, there was at least four feet of snow. Heather, five and half months pregnant, was not anticipating the snow and was wearing a raincoat and suede boots with heels. 

Four out of our five kids, celebrating Ty’s 25th birthday at Village Pizza in Roslyn. Not much to choose from in Roslyn. Good thing they serve great pizza. 🙂

Back to Hayley’s birthday. First thing on the celebratory schedule was birthday breakfast.     Bacon, eggs, and BIG HUGE FLUFFY Belgian waffles.

As for birthday activities, Hayley has come a long way from princess parties. This is not particularly how I would like to spend my birthday. But it was what Hayley wanted to do: shoot her brother’s guns!  So she and her Dad and Tyler and Spencer went and did that, and Lexi and I stayed home and planned a baby shower.


Now I’m going to show you how to make Pesto Salmon Packets, which was Hayley’s request for her birthday dinner.  I had to send a Facebook message to Claire Hammond in England to ask her how to make them.  (Thanks, Claire!) It was Hayley’s favorite meal when she was in the U.K.:

1. Start with a pile of green beans on a square of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper them.


2. Place a piece of delicious fresh salmon on top of the green beans. (Portion size for one person)

3. Place a dollop of pesto on top of the salmon. Get Mom in the photo, just for the photo record. Mom is not in many family photos. She is usually on the other side of the camera.

4. To ensure quality control, bring in an inspector to approve the generosity of the pesto dollops.  Very important. Hayley makes sure I get enough on each one.

4. Fold in the corners of the foil to make a packet. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes. (Some of the larger pieces of salmon needed an extra five minutes.)  Unwrap, slip onto a plate, and serve with white rice. Num! No wonder Hayley loved it. (Claire made it for me when I was in the U.K. in November and I loved it, too.) Super easy.

Finally, the birthday cake. Or, in this case, CAKES, plural.  Lexi made Molten Lava (chocolate) cakes in little ramekins, served hot with vanilla ice cream.  AMAZING.  We licked the platter(s) clean. Pretty much.

We stayed an extra night in Ephrata because the trip there was so arduous; who wanted to turn around and drive back over the pass in THOSE CONDITIONS the very  next day?! Heather said she was sure glad she wasn’t with us on this trip!  It was a little disconcerting. But no avalanche warnings on Monday, so home we went, jiggedy-jig, having accomplished our second snowy over-the-mountain-to-show-our-kids-how-much-we-love-them birthday expedition. (Which we do. Love them, I mean.)

Who said kids’ birthdays parties got easier the older they get?

NOT!!! 🙂

Snow, Snow Shoes, and Serendipity

We are buried in seven inches of snow (at least) and another inch of ice on top of that. Terrific and treacherous at the same time. Terrific if you just want to play outside in the glorious stuff or hunker down inside, be cozy, and admire the winter wonderland outside your window. Treacherous if you actually have to drive in it!

Being a prairie girl, I LOVE snow and to be out in it whenever I can. I have fond memories of winters in Winterpeg (LOL), ice skating in our back yard or the neighborhood outdoor rink, building snow forts in our yards and in the playground at school, tobogganing, snowmobiling in neighbors’ fields …

… so imagine my delight when, yesterday, I took my dog for a walk at the park near our house and encountered a neighbor on snow shoes who invited me to join her and give them a whirl!

Snow shoes – now there’s a snow activity I’ve never done and have always wanted to!

When I first saw her, I wasn’t exactly sure what were on her feet, since they looked a bit like short cross-country skis and she had ski poles.  That’s because, in my imagination, snow shoes look like this:

However, nowadays snow shoes are a lot more techno-looking. My neighbor bought hers at REI. She quickly cinched them onto my boots like this:

Then off we went, taking turns. The park near our house has wooded paths and open fields–super fun for snow-shoeing. Loved it. Think I’m going to check out REI and get some for myself. And Doug, if I can talk him into it. More fun to do such things with company, don’tcha think?

In fact, having snow shoes would be a good excuse for excursions to Mount Rainier or Hurricane Ridge to use them.  I could have used a pair of those when we were at Hurricane Ridge last winter; I was sinking in snow up to my thighs trying to walk in it!

(Hurricane Ridge, January 2011, Olympic National Park)

Life is way too short to miss the beauty of God’s Creation in in EVERY season.

Get out and enjoy it!