Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Extending Summer

My husband is brilliant at putting my ideas into action!  Actually in this case the idea came from Lauren and her co-op friends in the Michigan House at U of M, Ann Arbor.  She had posted on Face book how on one of their work days, some of the students who live at Michigan House built a couple of mini hoop houses for their raised bed gardens.

I had learned about giant hoop houses through my work at the Conservation District and the USDA.  I was not interested in these giant structures, although I was intrigued by the prospect of extending the season all the way to December...and starting the season much earlier than May.

Well, when I read about the inexpensive project, and the fact that my daughter was on her way to becoming a true green thumb, my excitement mounted.  Thankfully, I have a very agreeable and hard working husband!  He put these together starting Friday afternoon and finished before dark.  Now we will extend the eggplant, basil, parsley, and swiss chard.  I also plan to start some lettuce and spinach seeds this week.  We'll see just how far we can push back the winter!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waterfalls and Weddings

This summer has been crazy with the last child graduating, leaving for college, the gardens, the garden parties, the canning and preserving, and my new job.  Hence my absence from my blog and my life-giving artwork.
Today I thought I'd take a few minutes to get back into the habit of posting by sharing a remarkable weekend my husband and I spent in and around Ithaca, New York for our niece's wedding.  If you've never been to upstate New York, and the Ithaca area in general, you are missing some fine scenery and waterfalls everywhere!

Mike and I stayed in a wonderful Bed and Breakfast called the Rogues Harbor Inn in Lansing, New York.  A beautiful old brick mansion that has turned the lower level into a fine dining experience, which includes at least one locally grown food in every dish.  We tried the Squash blossoms stuffed with local duck sausage and feta cheese...marvelous! I was really impressed with the local fare supporting local farms and how "Green" this B&B was.  They believe in reducing, reusing, and recycling.  They definitely walked the talk!  Impressive.

This photo and the previous one show how the third floor ballroom has been turned into a charming breakfast room.  Can "charming" be used in a space so large?

Ursula, one of our breakfast attendants.

The history was exciting as well.  This very Inn was part of the Underground railroad that helped slaves escape the south and get to Canada.

Since we had half of Saturday to ourselves before the wedding, we headed off for some waterfall sightseeing....and the Farmer's Market.

This is where we bought our lunch.  I'm not sure Mike had ever eaten vegetarian before, but we bought the Sampler's Platter, which included a bit of each item on display.  We took it back to the B&B and had a delicious, locally grown meal with flavors and textures that were so unique!

Then it was time for some hiking to the Taghannock Falls.  The day offered perfect temperatures and weather for our excursion.  When we hiked to the lookout, we ran into some amazing views that weren't even the right falls! Still they were breathtaking.

These are the Taghannock Falls.  They are actually taller than the Niagara Falls.  We hiked a couple of miles to the overlook.  We were planning to hike down into the gorge, but we had to get back and get ready for the wedding.  The girls and I will have to put this on our "Must do" Road Trip list! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pesto Presto

Lately my garden has had a wonderful abundance of spicy globe basil, and what better to use it for than some nice green jars of pesto? I just love how versatile pesto is, we use it on pasta, potatoes, even pizza! (Chicken Pesto Pizza that is; a recipe that I can provide upon request :) Below I include my much used, and much loved recipe for canned, freezing Pesto.
You will need:  
1 cup pine nuts
4 cups fresh basil leaves, fimly packed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Make sure your fresh basil is washed, then spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven at 450°F until lightly browned.

Puree toasted pine nuts, basil, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Add Parmesan cheese, processing just to blend. In a slow steady stream, add 1 cup olive oil through feed tube of food processor or lid of blender while machine is running.

Pour pesto into can-or-freeze jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Drizzle 11/teaspoons olive oil over pesto.
Seal, label, freeze.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh Why-O Did I Ever Leave Ohio?

Shelby and I recently had a short, little road trip in honor of her graduation. When my other daughter, Lauren, graduated High School, the three of us had a cross-country trip to California by way of New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. However, with two children now in college, we realized that a small trip was in order this year. Shelby had found this cute little town of Dublin, Ohio while attending a horse expo a few months back and was determined to return in order to check it out. Although Dublin seemed to have the best restaurants, two other towns: Powell and Westerville definitely had the best shopping. We visited antique stores, resale shops, tea breweries, boutiques, and ate at one very good organic Thai restaurant. Plus we stayed in a mansion in Mount Vernon, Oh that happened to be the home of the first female doctor in America.
I loved this shot of a historic building in Dublin, Oh. (if only window units weren't invented)

Shelby posing in Dublin

My delicious organic Thai dinner in Westerville. (Shelby said our waiter smiled like Doctor Who....someone I know nothing about)

Shelby in front of the beautiful in-town mansion in Mount Vernon, it is called the Russel Cooper House.
This is a journal that the guests write in, there was a very emotional entry from a patron during 9/11.

This is the Garden Room. We stayed in the English Country Room, but they were all huge.

One of the gardens near the Russel Cooper House, the whole neighborhood was very inspiring for landscape design.

Me at the gorgeous Innis Metro Park in Westerville, the whole park was donated by the Innis sisters.

I've been wanting to make a Bible Garden for our church, maybe now I will!

I love how this shot frames the landscape.

They had a lovely quilt exhibit in what used to be the Innis Sister's house.

Shelby pretended that this maze was part of the Tri Wizard Tournament and that this statue was the trophy. Don't touch it Shelby, you'll have to meet He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!

Shelby found a whole new wardrobe of vintage clothing. I loved this vintage wine suite from the 1940's.

We got creative by creating guacamole in the back of our car.

Shelby loved the first dress the best, I loved the middle, and we predicted Lauren would love the third one....we were right!