Saturday, March 31, 2007

Seattle, Weeding, and my new Compost Bin

It is Saturday morning and the hubby just left for work. My off-days are Sat/Sun and his are Sun/Mon. I've come to appreciate this, as we have an off-day together and one on our own. On Saturday it gives me plenty of time to clean house in the morning, garden mid-day, and then grocery shop and cook in the afternoon. If I have time in the evening, I'll make a muffin or scone for Sunday morning breakfast or some baked good to enjoy throughout the week.

One of my favorite baking cookbooks is by Leslie Mackie. She owns Macrina Bakery and Cafe in Seattle that was featured on the Food Network's Road Tasted show with Jamie and Bobby Deen. I've made many things from her recipe collection, including the Angel Thumbprint cookies I posted back before Valentine's Day. While I was in Seattle, on Friday morning I had some time to explore the city before my flight. I headed out to Macrina's Belltown location at about 7:15 AM. It was thirteen blocks from my hotel room at the W to Macrina Belltown, and a nice walk the entire way. 20 minutes later I was perched in front of a beautiful pastry case filled to the brim with mouthwatering selections. I ordered a Morning Glory muffin. I've made the Macrina recipe a few times, and I wanted to see how my version compared to the real thing. Their's was so much better than mine! Now I know what a real muffin should be like. The muffin bread was so moist and fluffy it just melted in my mouth. When I make the muffins, I usually leave out the raisins because I'm not a big fan. Well, not anymore. The mix of golden raisins in the bread was just perfect. Tonight I plan to bake something from the cookbook. I'll post an update later about what I decied to bake.

In gardening news, we got some rain this week (finally!), and the weeds popped up fiercely while I was away. My Earth Engine compost bin came in this week so I plan to put that together today. I'm off to the garden to sharpen up the hoe and weed the beds. We're supposed to get thunderstorms this afternoon, so I better get to it!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ready to get dirty!

I haven't been able to do any REAL weekend gardening since February. Spring is springing up all around me, and I'm missing out. The past four weekends I've either been out of town or have had guests from out of town, and I've enjoyed every minute of visiting with my friends. My best friend in the world was married on March 9th. Then on March 17th a good friend visited and we went to Jackson's St. Paddy's Day Parade, Sweet Potato Queens and all. Then this past Saturday I travelled to Oxford to see Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know radio show. I've been one busy bee! That also means that I haven't been in the yard. I got some weeding done last Monday evening, but then the next day I came down with a terrible cold that I've been trying to get rid of for a solid week. Now that I am finally feeling like my old self again, I fly to Seattle early tomorrow morning for 2-days of meetings. Whew! I can't wait to be home on Saturday. I'm already making lists of things I need to get done. I've vowed to stay home every weekend in April so I can play in the yard.

I have been able to get a few snapshots of my blooming yard over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of my tulips, but they were quite pretty.

The Front Porch: Bridal Wreath Spirea, Indian Hawthorne and Azaleas

Petunias by the Front Door

Growing Clematis, and a New Trellis

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Maintaining Garden Tools

I've never seen rust grow so quickly as it does on the tools in my garage closet. It must be super humid in there or something. One of my garden resolutions for the year is to keep my garden tools clean and rust free.

Maintaining Garden Tools and Preventing Rust
  • Clean your tools well after every use, removing soil with water at max pressure and a wire brush.
  • Keep a towel where you store the tools and dry them fully before storing.
  • Store your tools somewhere dry and off the ground.
  • If you have a rusty tool, remove the rust with a metal brush.
  • To remove stubborn rust, make a paste mixture of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Dip a cloth in the mixture and lightly rub over the rusty area. The citric acid will remove the rust.
  • Sharpen tools with a file when they get dull.
  • To sharpen pruners and clippers, color the blade tip with a permanent marker. Sharpen evenly until the mark has been removed.
  • Before you put tools away for the winter, put some linseed oil on the handles and WD40 on the metal.

I haven't been doing these things! I have plenty of excuses (said humid tool shed, can't find the tool file, don't have any linseed oil), but I need to get in the habit of doing these things. Sounds like I need a trip to the hardware store and a kick in the butt!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Where have all the bees gone?

Last night while cleaning up the kitchen I listened to Living on Earth, a weekly environmental news program on NPR. I'd heard about the bees disappearing on multiple news programs, and I'd read this article about it in the NY Times. The NY Times article was in the Business section of all places, so it really didn't discuss the environmental impacts of the disappearance or the 'whys' and 'hows' of the whole thing. The Living On Earth segment seemed to get to the bottom of the problem that scientists are calling "Colony Collapse Disorder." I recommend that you read the transcript or listen to the segment, provided in both RealAudio and mp3 format.

One of the theories researches have is that a certain insecticide is causing the bees to become disoriented and forget their way home. This particular insecticide has already been banned in Europe because of its affect on bees and other pollinators, so I don't understand why the United States continues to allow it to be used.

The scientist interviewed in the Living On Earth segment mentions that Albert Einstein asserted that if the bee disappeared off the face of the globe, then man would cetainly follow within four years.

My dad kept honeybees, three or four hives. After he died my grandmother started taking care of them. I haven't had a chance to talk to my granny about the bees yet, but I wonder how they are doing. When I was married in 2004, our wedding favors were little honey pots, filled by my father with his tasty homemade honey.