Power Gardening Before The Rain

This is the garden after a power gardening session that got as much as possible in the ground before the rain hit.  We knew we didn’t have much time on Saturday morning to garden as the weather channels predicted a downpour of rain at some point in the afternoon.  Mother Nature at her finest.  We were actually able to get a lot accomplished before the first raindrops came down.  Our garden probably doesn’t look any different to you than when you first saw our raised bed garden earlier this Spring.  However, this time it is filled with seeds.  There are zucchini and cucumber seeds planted around the wire trellis in the back of the bed, followed by green beans, turnips, golden beets and red beets.  All of these seeds got planted and covered and then the rain started.  We’ll be honest.  We didn’t exactly meet our goal.  We had also wanted to get some live plants into the ground that were scheduled for planting this weekend.  These were some of the plants that are growing under our grow light in the basement.  Our eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts will have to wait.  Darn rain…good for the newly seeded lawn; bad for the backyard vegetable garden.  Take a few minutes to see our vegetable garden work this weekend and also see our gorgeous azalea bushes in full bloom.

So we didn’t get all of our gardening chores completed this weekend due to the weather.  Good Old Mother Nature is the hardest part of gardening.  You never know if she will be too cold, too hot, too wet.  The odds are sometimes better in Las Vegas.  Did the weather get in your way of a full weekend of gardening?

Friday Dance Party – Sheila E And A Glamorous Life

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being able to celebrate this fact.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

During the Winter, we have been giving the house on Glen Road a major makeover.  If you remember from my first blog post, our house was getting a new beginning.  The good news is the addition we have been working on seems to be almost complete.  Yes, there are some odds and ends that need to be finished, but for the most part, we have attached our house to our garage and have created several new rooms.  The place is pretty big now.  We walk around and think how are we going to afford enough furniture to fill this new addition.  Trust me, we’ll figure out a way.  A friend that came over to take a little tour told us that we were living the ‘glamorous life’ now that we had increased our square footage.  So, if this is true, why not give us a moment to think about it while dancing to a song of the same name by that oldie but goodie singer Sheila E.  Remember her?  She was an early Prince protegé.  So put on something purple, rat your hair up big and get down with Sheila E and her ‘Glamorous Life’.  Dance because you have made it through another week.  Dance because you are alive.  Dance on over to Glen Road and help us clean up our new addition.  Have a great weekend.  What other songs would you like to hear on Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen? 

Bird Thoughts By A Bird Brain

 

This is a sad fact…I am not a fan of birds.  Spring is the time to confess as birds seem to be everywhere now that the temperatures are warmer.  It’s not that I hate birds…it’s more the fact that they scare me to death.  This is not a new fear.  I have been scared to death of birds since I was a little boy.  If I can sit and watch them parade around by looking through a window, than I am fine.  If you remove the window and I see one, I go cold.  God forbid that a bird flies at or near me.  I involuntarily scream, sweat, run and have even been known to cry.  In fact, I remember my first bad experience with a bird. 

Mrs. Curtain lived behind one of our first houses in Iowa.  At the time we moved there, I was 3 and she had to be at least 83.  I have to be honest.  Women at 83 in those days did not look that great.  We say today that 60 is the new 40 for a woman.  That was not the case in the ’60s.  83 looked 83 or older.  Mrs. Curtain wore long dresses, had unkempt gray hair, wore black horn-rimmed glasses and not a stitch of makeup covered her face (not at 83 and probably ever).  To this day, here is how I remember her.  

However, the strange part is that I was attracted to her.  She didn’t scare me.  She was my friend.  Mrs Curtain was a widow, her children had moved away ages ago and she did what a woman of her age did in those days in a small farming town in Iowa.  She lived in a small house, tended to a large garden of flowers and vegetables and kept chickens in her fenced-in back yard.  Who came over every day to bother help her?  Yes, it was me.  I would watch her garden, watch her mow, watch her do laundry, watch her do most anything.  However, I was not allowed to help with the chickens.  She repeatedly told me that they were off-limits because I was too young to be around them inside their fence.  So I sort of obeyed her command.  That means that I would not go inside the fence but I would make sure that I found various ways to make the chickens crazy.  I would yell at them, throw rocks at them, poke them with sticks.  Anything to taunt them because they were off-limits to me.  One day, they had had enough.  A rooster broke loose and came at me.  There were claws, feathers, clucking, screaming and then the rooster laid a hard, sharp peck with its beak on my forehead before Mrs. Curtain came to the rescue.  I have never enjoyed a bird since that day.

I have done well in my life staying away from birds.  I’ve lived most of my life in the concrete jungle.  I have warned friends with free flying birds in their homes to lock them up or risk harm to them (I wouldn’t kill a bird, but if a parrot flew at me, I’m not sure what I would do in my panic).  Any event that I am at where there are also birds means that I either leave or sit in a secure, inside area.  All this changed when I moved to Glen Road.  Here in the country, birds are everywhere.  They literally are your neighbors.  I can tell you who lives in what nest.  I can tell you which birds are meaner than others.  I have even been able to shyly look at a few birds without running (remember the cardinals).  However, I would like to give them a few pieces of advice so that I can expand my love even further.

  • Do not begin to sing until 10:30 AM and cease your songs at 8 PM.  Oh, and all birds must sing the same song….just in different harmonies so they can distinguish themselves between species.  Cardinals can be like the sopranos, blue jays the baritones and sparrows the altos.  You see, at 5:30 AM, your loud and non-coordinated singing is just annoying.  You wake me up and it is not a pretty sound.  Get an alarm clock and a chorale director and let me sleep.

  • Get a pair of sensible shoes.  Your claws are sickening.  There isn’t a pedicure invented that will make your claws look better, so cover them up.  If you can find stockings, buy them and put them on as well.  There is just something about seeing a bird claw that makes me shudder.  Is it the scaly part?  The long toenails?  The way it moves?  Whatever it is, cover them up and don’t show them.  Admit they’re ugly and you are embarrassed by them and put some shoes and socks on them.  You’ll be a step ahead.

  • Install a toilet in your nests.  I don’t want to see it, clean it or worry about it.  More than this, I don’t want to feel it on me…EVER.  Get some class and install a little toilet to do your business.  You’ll get more dates.  Enough said on this one.

I’ll try to like birds better this year.  I’m taking little steps though.  I would like a hummingbird to come live on Glen Road.  That’s a good step forward, right?  Honestly, I am scared about the long beak thing.  Has anyone ever heard of someone losing an eye because they got too close to a hummingbird?

What’s Blooming On Glen Road?

 

 This is Spring in full bloom.  It doesn’t take long to go from snow to full throttle Spring in the garden.  There is so much going on in the garden right now it is hard to keep up.  Look at the beauty (above) of an allium almost ready to explode into full bloom.  Soon, this bud will be a total sphere of purple blooms.  There are so many plants and flowers blooming and growing in the garden right now, here is a little tour for you to see the progress.  Come take a look with us.  Feel free to click on any picture in the gallery to get a better view.

Things change so fast in the garden.  I wish there was something that you could invent that would make these beautiful flowers and plants last longer.  What plants and flowers are blooming in your garden right now?

JoJo’s Journal – I Hate Bath Time!

 Who, me?  I’m not dirty!

This is another edition of JoJo’s Journal here on Acorns On Glen….bark!  Hello, my loves, it has been so long since the last time I wrote to you.  Spring has been so busy for me given that I can actually leave the house now and run around the back yard and investigate everything.  All of this running around leads me to my post today.  When you are an inquisitive young pup like I am, it comes with a cost.  The cost is that you get dirty a lot more often.  It only makes sense.  There are sheds to crawl under.  Grass and mud to run through.  Gardens to jump into.  Here I am after a long and hard (and dirty) weekend.  If only I could play outside and not get dirty.  Why you ask?  Because I hate to take a bath.

On Glen Road, which answer below let’s you know that it is time for me to take a bath? 

  1. I stink.
  2. I don’t smell very good.
  3. My roommates on Glen Road pick me up and then put me down and say P. U.
  4. Everyone on Glen Road keeps saying ‘what’s that smell?’ and it turns out to be me!
  5. My roommates let a skunk come into the house last night and left me out in the yard.
  6. All of the above.

If you guessed number six, you would be correct.  So this weekend, it was off to the tub for me.  Never a pretty picture.  So you can understand what it takes to make me so glamorous, I have authorized the release of these bath pics to the general public.  Here I am after my initial spray….I am trying to flee by running up the side of the tub and out of the room.

  I’m so humiliated, I can’t even show my face!

Finally, I just surrender and let nature (and soap and water) takes its course.  When I’m wet, I look about 10 pounds lighter.  See how sad my little face looks in this one.

 Don’t get any soap into my eyes!  I don’t want to have to attack!

Then it’s a towel dry and under the hair dryer.  I guess it is worth it because here is how I turn out.

 Who can resist such a hot young thing?  Bark!

I’m so happy to be done with my bath.  I am also glad that you got to see that beauty is a lot of work.  It is worth it in my opinion.  As I’ve always said, “Beauty may only be skin deep, but ugly is all the way to the bone”.  Take care my lovelies and I’ll talk to you again soon.  I’m off to play in the back yard some more.  Do you have a favorite pet that can talk to me here on Acorns On Glen?

Fleur De Sel Caramels

This is a good little dessert or a nice piece of candy when you are craving sweets.  It’s key ingredient is salt.  Salt is very popular today.  I’m not talking about table salt (i.e., the Morton’s kind), but more the designer salts that have been on the market for quite a while, but have only now seemed to pick up in popularity.  You know, salts like sea salt, smoked salts, imported salts.  If you are a unique type of salt these days, chances are you are in some glamorous recipe.  Which brings me to our caramels.  These caramels are made with fleur de sel.  Fleur de sel (“Flower of salt” in French) is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans.  Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast of Brittany, most notably in the towns of Guérande, Noirmoutier and Camargue.  Due to its relative scarcity, fleur de sel is one of the more expensive salts.  Fleur de sel is often slightly grey due to the sand collected in the process of harvesting the salt from the pans.  Fleur de sel also contains more mineral complexity than table salt.

Its presence in these caramels makes for a delicious taste, mixing the sweet and buttery taste of the caramels with the salty and savory taste of the fleur de sel.  It’s the right balance that seems to keep people asking for more.  I have them on strict rations here on Glen Road, otherwise we would eat the entire pan in a few hours.  Trust me, they are addictive.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over the sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat.

Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown.  Don’t stir-just swirl the pan.  Be careful, when the sugar mixture begins to turn brown, it can quickly go from brown to burnt.  Once it turns warm golden brown, immediately take it off the heat.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture.  Be careful as it will bubble up violently.  Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully (remember that it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

When the caramel is cold, loosen the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the caramel into several 1-2″ lengths and then cut into pieces.  Sprinkle each piece with fleur de sel.  Remember that it’s easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil.

Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. You can also place the slices directly onto a plate or serving platter.  Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels slightly chilled.

We like to serve these caramels on a plate after dinner as a dessert.  If it is a large dinner party, we like to place them out with the other desserts for anyone that wants just a little bite of something sweet.  Most times, however, we just like to make them and eat them when we need a little candy.  Trust me, they don’t usually last too long however you decide to serve them.  Get into the designer salt craze and give these fleur de sel caramels a try.  They are so good, you can’t quit eating them.  Your teeth will be stuck together until the last one is gone…trust us!  Do you have any recipes you can share on Acorns On Glen that contain designer salt in them?