Monday, September 26, 2011

Trivia: Edamame

They are actually soybeans, before they are fully ripe.  
As far as nutrients go, edamame and all preparations of soybeans are rich in carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, particularly folic acid, manganese and vitamin K (table).[3]
For some reason I have never made edamame
I love it, but I’ve never made it. 
Until now that is. It’s so easy.
Place pods in a bowl. 
Add a ¼ cup of water.
Cook in microwave (or steam on stove) for 4-6 minutes.
Drain and sprinkle lightly with salt. 
So good. 
In restaurants I have never noticed the little “hairs” on the pod. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Last year my Dad had dug up some stray asters, a friendly bird deposited in the garden. He kept one for himself and gave me 7 seedlings. By the time I had planted them, in various spots in the garden, they looked quite sad
and I didn't hold out a lot of hope for their survival.
All summer I had this enormous plant (4-5 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide)
growing in the middle of my garden.  I can’t tell you how many times
I considered digging it up, worried it was a weed. 
Well about two weeks ago it bloomed and I discovered
it was one of the asters. 
It's completely caked with blooms. 
Thanks Dad!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yellow Watermelon

My first yellow watermelon.
It tasted like spun sugar.
A tip I learned is if you will be storing a partial watermelon
keep it on the rind.
Of course I read this after I cut it off the rind….
live and learn…

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tomatoes: canning a bit of summer

I’ve finally reached that stage where the tomatoes are just too many to eat.  I’ve canned a few tomato sauces  and plum tomatoes.   It's shocking how many tomatoes it takes to fill a jar.  I’m looking forward to opening a jar in the winter when summer is a faint memory. 

 I’m also having fun making labels for my jars….

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zinnia: flower to seed

Thumbelina Zinnia

I’m always fascinated at how the zinnias
evolve from a nice button, to a conical shape, then to seed. 

Saw a bird (sparrow? chickadee?)
feasting on the seed head this morning. 
I love knowing I planted something
that makes another creatures life a bit easier.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby Bok Choy, Shitake Mushrooms and Celery

This spring I began ordering organic vegatables from Fresh Picks
Each week I receive an assortment of
fruit and vegetables from nearby farms. 
 So fresh, so good and wish I had started it sooner.
I just made the above stir fry of
baby bok choy (from Harmony Valley),
shitake mushrooms (from River Valley Ranch)
and celery.  
What a find!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Honey Bee Weekend

Meadow Lake
The Morton Arboretum is having
showcasing their hives with educational hikes to the hives
and through the gardens that provide the bees with pollen and nectar. 
It was a perfect day to learn about the bees
and soak in a bit of nature.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Batiks on a Line

Starting a project
that I hope will use many of the batiks I’ve been collecting.
It was too hot to play in the garden
but it was a perfect day to dry
the freshly washed linens on the line.

You also get a glimpse of my jungle.
The mosquitoes have been so aggressive
I haven’t been spending the time I should
 weeding and cutting back. 
Ah well…there are worse things.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Strawberry Lavender Jam

The recipe is from Liana Krissoff's Canning for a New Generation.
For me it is more of a sauce than a jam,
and thus all the better to put over ice cream. 
Sad strawberry season is over that I can’t make more. 
 It will be first on the list of next year strawberry preserving. 
 It's amazing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Calendar


Here is a computer screen background for September. 
Included are a few reminders for gardening in zones 4-6.
To upload the image
1 - click on the above image
2 - right click
3 - choose "set as background"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The Monarchs have finally arrived.
They must be on their migration from Canada to Mexico.
As many live for years,
I often wonder if I am seeing the same
Monachs each year…

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TRIVIA: Chelone glabra – Turtlehead

from left to right: Dwarf Butterfly Bush, my new solar light (works great) and Pink Turtlehead

This late summer bloomer is great. 
Turtlehead has dark green leaves which create a nice contrast to
neighboring silver leaves and lime green leaves. 
It’s also a part sun/part shade plant
which makes it easier to position in the garden. 
The plant is called turtlehead because
when looking at the bud from the side
it resembles a turtles head, how clever. 
The opening is perfect for bumble bees to fit in. 
If I can get a shot of that with my camera I’ll be sure to share it later.
Early settlers called Turtlehead “Balmony”
because they made an ointment with the leaves
that relieved itching /skin irritations.
Native Americans apparently brewed it
into a bitter tea as a tonic and a laxative.
Not sure I'll be trying that anytime soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Breakfast: Omelet and Morrocan Saute

It’s an incredibly beautiful and mild Sunday morning
and decided to make a real breakfast. 
I had a cheese omelet
with left over Moroccan inspired sauté of
zucchini, onions, tomatoes with cinnamon, cumin and a few cashews. 
When I made it for dinner I served over couscous
with a dollop of plain yogurt. 
I would have put a bit of yogurt on this morning…but I forgot.    
It was early….:-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mexican Torch Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower is an annual I tried to grow in my garden for several years with no success. Family and friends, who I gave seedlings to each year, adored it as it grew beautifully for them.  As a result I continued to start it by seed and keep a few for myself, just in case it would take.  Well, last year it did!  This year I planted it in the same exact spot and once again success!
The Mexican Sunflower grows to a mammoth 5-6 feet and just full of blooms.  The stems are soft and feel almost like satin.  Definitely recommend you pursue it for your garden.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Canning : Lavender

For years I’ve wanted to use lavender
in baking/ cooking but I’ve never done it. 
I think I was worried I would use the wrong type of lavender. 
This summer I took the plunge
and used my hidecote lavender as flavoring
for a strawberry sauce and blueberry jam. 
Really good. 
The Strawberry Lavender jam
one of my favorite new books.  
Next year I’ll have to make many more jars,
it's that good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sweet Alyssum

Tucked in amongst the alyssum are
chives (top), thyme (right) and canterbury bell are the larger leaves (left).

This is the time of year I appreciate the flowers
that bloom steadily all summer. 
Alyssum is turning into one of my favorite annuals.
It starts blooming in the spring
and won’t stop until frost appears. 
And if that wasn’t enough,
it’s drought tolerant.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Yesterday I met my parents for breakfast and I brought them few items from the garden.  My zucchini’s are growing to massive sizes,  seemingly overnight.  It means time to start trying zucchini bread recipes.  So I got up early and made two loaves, one for my parents and one for me. 

Couldn’t decide if chocolate chips would be good or not so I put chips on one side only.  The plain side is  actually better and the recipe, let’s say I don’t think I need to look further.  This recipe is fantastic. We were sampling it before we even made it into the restaurant.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Love my new windows phone.
Decided to go with a purple theme this week.
Clockwise from top:
a felted case I made for the phone,
embroidery floss I keep meaning to use in a project,
one of my pansy gift tags,
and my phone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunflowers in Surprising Places

My neighbor is excellent at spring seed starting in pots.
Once they are an inch or so tall
she transfers them to the garden.
Often she leaves a few in the pot as well
and in this case she got a surprise.
She had thought she had moved
all the sunflowers to the garden however ….
She missed one!

It’s a good thing,
sunflowers are very difficult to transplant.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Japanese Anenome

The perfect plant for shade or part sun.
This plant loves to stay moist. 
I discovered this when I rerouted my sump pump drain pipe.
This plant grew from 2 feet tall and wide
to 4 feet in the span of one year.

Happy accidents! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Knitting Project

Starting a new knitting project and
found a beautiful yarn from the Idea Studio.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Harvest

Sunday seems like a day to slow down a bit and make something new.
Today I made Zucchini Basil Muffins with Parmesan Cheese.
A mellow recipe found in Bernard Clayton Complete Bread cookbook.
Served with a perfect August salad from the garden. 
Simply tomato, cucumber, calamata olives, and feta 
with a red wine vinaigrette.
I spiked the  vinaigrette with a bit of oregano. 

Are you able to recognize oregano
from the plethora of herbs in the garden? 
Laruelapalooza  has an herb growing in her garden
that she was told was Greek oregano from her grandmother’s garden. 
It’s not the oregano we are used to seeing. 
Swing by her blog
and see if you can confirm what type of herb it is.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Irresistable Blend Butterfly Weed

I’ve been trying to grow this "Irresistable Blend" Butterfly Weed for the last three years.
This year I decided to stop trying and as fate would have it, here it is.
How, I’m not sure.
I’m just grateful.

No idea what the insect is, they sure seem happy  as well.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hydrangea Update

 I was ignoring the fact that It looked like a lace top hydrangea.
I wondered…but decided I had forgotten what it looked like prior to full bloom.
It would seem my blue nikko stayed in someone else’s garden. 
I hope it’s growing and blooming in its home.
For me, I’m choosing to look at the positive and feel rather lucky
 as lace top hydrangeas are my favorite
and I’m thrilled to have it in my garden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lantana - Citrus

Lantana is one of my favorite annuals.
It blooms all summer and then has berries in the fall.
They are perennials in the tropics and
actually grow into large shrubs.
I would love to see that!
Swallowtail butterflies love lantana and
hoping I can catch one with my camera soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Part of the calendula family and
considered edible, the petals are used as a garnish on salads. 
Calendula petals are often used in ointments and soap making,
both for scent and its soothing properties. 
Folklore has it that a tonic made with these petals
with help you see fairies…
may be worth giving it a try.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lavender for Cooking

For years I’ve been fascinated with the idea
of cooking and baking with lavender.
Did some research and learned my Hidecote Lavender
is one of the best for cooking so I took the plunge.
I’ve been harvesting the buds and
Will share some of culinary adventures with you soon.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

cucumber salad

Japanese Cucumbers are my favorite
and they are finally and furiously.
And love to serve them simply:
1 cucumber
1 T. vinegar
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. fresh dill, chopped

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Tomato season is upon us.
I plant these sungolds every year.
I just love how the color graduates down the line,
revealing when they are ripe.

Favorite way to prepare them:

Rinse cherry tomatoes.
Place in a bowl, a container with a lid is even better.
Sprinkle kosher salt over top.
Toss and let the water remaining from the rinsing
melt the salt into a salt water glaze.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Knitting Journals - special order

Here is a montage of the knitting journals
I just finished for 
Jessica Knits /
Hooked on You, LLC

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Calendar

As I was weeding last week
and looking at my tall Shasta daisy flopping over
I realized I had hoped to remind myself to stake them in the spring.
How to remember next year?
Geninne creates wonderful computer screen backgrounds each month and
shares them with her bloggers.
 It occurred to me I should simply do
 the same sort of calendar with some of my  garden reminders. 
 If you live in zone 4-6 you may find the reminders helpful
and feel free to click on this link
to save the image in high resolution to your desktop.
I think I’ll keep Geninne’s at work
and my garden calendar at home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Breakfast - Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry season is upon us.

I have several pounds of blueberries
and what to do with them all?

Decided to be decadent on this stormy Sunday morning
and make blueberry pancakes. 
Oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever made blueberry pancakes before. 
Always been a purist when it comes to pancakes.

They were quite good…
and filling…
I think I need to go lay down for awhile…

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blue Nikko has found a home

My hydrangea has finally bloomed.
About 15 years ago,
this was the first “real” plant I purchased
when I finally had an apartment patio.
I was so excited to have plants I ignored common sense
 which said to buy only annuals for my potted garden.
Where to over winter my new shrub? My parents of course.
We have both moved many times since then
and my hydrangea has over wintered at my parents homes, 
temporary homes, family friends gardens…
this hydrangea has seen allot of mileage!
When I finally moved into my little bungalow  5 years ago
I was so happy to welcome it back into my life permanently. 
Unfortunately I first planted it in too much sunshine or too dry soil
and it kept falling over. 
I have moved it every year for the last 4 years
to see if would do better in the next new spot.
 Last year I planted in the shade of my front garden
and babied it for the first year looking at its stubby little branches
mourning the fact that it just was not likely to make it. 
This spring it seemed to have healthy leaves and behold,
the first blooms it’s had in 5 years. 
A true testament to its hardiness.
Never mind it’s a Blue Nikko Hydrangea
and not a speck of blue on the bloom. 
Its pure white petals are a joy to behold.
Welcome home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Self Seeders: Dill and Day Lily

My neighbor is one of the best gardeners at nurturing self seeders.
I’m trying to develop the knack, but I also need to develop her discipline.
She is very good about digging up overly aggressive seeders in less desirable areas.
I’m always so proud that they have made it I have a tendency to let it run wild.

Here is my dill, running rampant in the garden.
I have to admit that I’m just fine with it weaving its way through my garden.
It such a nice contrast to the other leaves and clearly I have enough for any dish I may be preparing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


one of my favorite ornaments...
I do like dragonflies...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hooked On You, LLC dba Jessica Knits

Deep into project mode.
A wonderful yarn shop in Scottsdale AZ,
Hooked on You, LLC dba Jessica Knits,
will be carrying my knitting journals.

Here is a sampling of some of the covers
I am sewing for the shop this week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

i just love a parade

I just love these vases from Clay Bay Pottery in Sister Bay Wisconsin.
Choosing flowers to create the hat is a joy.
This one has Antiquity Cosmos, Bee Balm, Drumstick Alliums and Spearmint.
She makes me feel as though she is off to watch a parade.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

have a wonderful day

Been having a problem posting to my blog this last month
and now it's fixed!

About 2 weeks ago I took a fun "day trip"
to Sawyer Michigan.
These market photos are from the
Sawyer Nursury.
When I saw this sign placest amongst the fresh fruit and vegetables, it just made me smile.
Blogging issues resolved and
with it being a beatiful sunny day
here in Chicago
I think I have to go outside
and play in the dirt
to celebrate :-)

Happy weekend everyone
it is a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tip: Vidalia Onion Storage

Vidalia onions have been known to spoil more quickly if in direct contact with one another.
To solve this problem I am using some old hose that my mother gave me.
You simply drop one in and tie a knot just above it,
drop another in and tie a knot and so on.

This way they have good air circulation and no contact.
When you want an onion
you simply snip it off just below the knot for the onion above it.

The question I’m begging to ask…did my mother really wear green hose at one time?
Gotta love the 80’s!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pansies still in bloom

Can’t quite believe the pansies are still in bloom.
One of my favorite flowers and wish they would stay all summer.
Bit of Folklore:
If you pick pansies with morning dew it will cause it to rain.
May have to try that one out sometime...