Friday, July 19, 2013

Monarda ~ Friday's Flower

Monarda is more commonly known as Bee Balm, Bergamont, or Horsemint.  Wikapedia states the genus was named for Nicolas Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants found in the New World. 
Apparently there are both annual and perennial, upright growing plants.  I have the most common variety, a pink blooming perennial, which grows between 3-4' tall, somewhere between mid and late summer.  In the wild,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vertical Knife Block

I've heard the experts say that you only need one good knife.  Honestly, I don't feel that way.  When I want a sharp, clean knife I want to be able to reach out and get one, not have to walk over to the other side of the room.  I have a lot of knives in my kitchen, and I use them all.  Having a couple of work stations, it made perfect sense to have knives easily available to each area.  After a few discussions with my husband, truly Bob-the-builder, I put in a work order (Bob loves work orders) for a vertical knife block that hugs the wall.   I love the practicality of it and that no counter space is compromised.
While we were re-inventing this corner, Bob built a 17" x 68" wooden sleeve of a sort, to fit over the 7" x 48" wall cap that was just above the

Sunday, July 14, 2013

No-Cook Peanut Butter-Coconut Fudge

I know this is going to sound crazy, but making this fudge is even easier than it sounds.  You can indulge yourself with this Peanut Butter-Coconut Fudge during the year, without feeling too terribly guilty for having it.  Granted, it is not the same fudge that you look forward to receiving in a little gift box from your___(friend, aunt, sister, mom, co-worker, neighbor) during the holidays.  At the same time, it's not loaded with all the sugar and calories either, and still tastes like a treat.
I stumbled upon this recipe by way of TheWimpyVegetarian.  I made it my way, which means: nuts belong in everything.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Golden Rain Tree ~ Friday's Flower

The Golden rain tree is an ideal tree for the Front Range.  Apparently in the South, the tree is a fast grower and can be invasive.  In Colorado, with our short growing season and cold winters, this tree is a slow grower.  Moving into our house in October 1999, the tree was a small, 4' spindly specimen.  It's taken this long to reach it's mature height of 30'.  Another factor may be that the tree has weak wood, and limbs tend to break under a heavy spring snow, which does happen occasionally.  I look at that as nature's way of pruning.
There are not many trees blooming in mid summer, which makes the

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers

Every month I look forward to the new issue of Bon Appetit Magazine showing up in the mailbox.  The cover photo for the July issue caught my attention; it was 2 chicken skewers.  But it was the caption that got me:  Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers.  Just from reading the recipe ingredients, I knew we were going to love them, so I made a double batch.  Absolutely delicious!  It took more time to cut the chicken into pieces than anything else.   
Sambal Chicken Skewers
Serves 4

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Spiderwort ~ Friday's Flower

Here's one you might not have seen, The Spiderwort Concord Grape.  Grown in zones 3-9, it has bluish green, grass-like leaves with three petaled purple flowers.  The contrasting yellow stamens really set this off.
The Spiderwort grows in upright clumps 15-18" tall and about 20" wide.  Blooming late spring and summer, the small flowers emerge from clusters of buds on long stems.

Sadly, each flower lasts only one or two days, but new blossoms appear daily throughout the blooming season.  Growing in half sun/half shade, and moist soil is ideal for this perennial.
Since reading that you can propagate in the fall or early spring by division, I plan on doing this in September.   Mine has been in for at least three years, so I should have a nice thick mass of roots to work with.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sammy is Back

About 5 years ago we discovered a small garter snake in the back yard; I named him Sammy.  Not sure where he winters, but he makes himself visible every summer.  A couple of weeks ago, we saw him for the first time this season sunning himself on a slab of warm flagstone.  Naturally, we can't be sure this is the same snake, but every year it's a little bigger and is now up to about 3 feet in length.  I'd like to believe that it is Sammy.  One day last year, I watched him slip into the pond and swim with the fish.
Earlier this week my husband was enjoying his morning coffee while watering the tomatoes when Sammy slid across his bare foot.  I've got to tell you, even knowing it's a non-threatening snake, if that was me, my coffee cup would be broken on the ground as I ran in the opposite direction.
While keeping our distance, here's a photo of the nest and a baby robin with his head lifted, waiting for food.  We've had fun listening to and watching the nest of four Robins being raised in the arbor on the side of our deck.  Both parents were always hard at work, returning to the nest with worms.  This picture was taken 8 days ago; they are all flying now, some better than others.
This morning I heard this little guy chirping but couldn't locate him.  When I noticed the Mom Robin land on a grate with a worm, I knew he must be down in the window well.  I took a box with me to the basement to put the baby in, but when I took off the screen and reached in, he just opened his mouth expecting a worm.  I was able to easily pick him up and bring him outside.  His mom waited as I set him in the grass; then they both ran into the garden.  I like happy endings.
At any rate, there is quite a lot of animal activity right now.  Although, having reinforced our borders, the itty bitty bunny that was making himself at home in the back yard, has relocated across the street under the deck of a family with four young children.  He visits our front yard daily.  Here he is taking a nap under a small wooden bridge in one of my planters, prior to his departure.