Friday, February 26, 2010

Fertilizer Friday and a Mystery Friend

It's Fertilizer Friday and I finally have a few spring blooms to share! Join in the Fertilizer Friday fun at Tootsie Time.

Crocuses must be the most reliable bulbs I have. They bloom every year with no care, and the squirrels don't bother them. I have terrible luck with daffodils, which should be the easiest thing on earth to grow here. Thank goodness for crocuses or I'd probably have given up on bulbs.

Grape hyacinths are pretty reliable as well. I love their scent! I don't mind the foliage either. It drives my mom crazy to get so much foliage for such small blooms. Ha.

A new daffodil. None of my old ones came up. Last year they were just foliage, and this year they are gone!

Another cheery crocus glowing in the sun.

This camellia has been blooming since OCTOBER. Seriously. People keep asking me what kind it is and I have no idea. It's obviously very old and predates my home ownership! (Stay tuned for the spring-blooming camellia - it is literally twice the size of this one - and I know that's hard to believe!)

That's all for blooms, but check this out. Last weekend I was bird-watching out the window and a huge HAWK flew through the yard! Keep in mind I live in a very suburban area. We don't see birds of prey in our neighborhood often! I ran outside with my camera (in my Snoopy PJs) and chased it down the block. I know my neighbors thought I was nuts standing in the street in front of their houses pointing my camera at the sky!

This photo was taken from crazy far away, and I was so shocked and pleased it turned out this well. We can't tell from the photo if it is a broadwing hawk or a red-shouldered hawk. I just know it was massive and looked like something out of Jurassic Park flying through my yard!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project

Jan at Thanks for Today has started a Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project and Contest. Click below for more details and to join in:
Y'all know I am an unabashed treehugger, so this is right up my alley! Jan is challenging us both to celebrate Earth Day (4/22/10) and to live a greener lifestyle (in and out of the garden) year-round.

I have a series of posts on my blog called "It's Easy Being Green" (click here to read them all). Readers have made great suggestions/comments on these posts, so make sure to read those as well. (And thanks to everyone who made the suggestions/comments!)

Last year, I waited until Earth Day itself to post about Earth Day. Jan's idea of spreading the word earlier makes much more sense! Here is my post from last year, which included: what we did to celebrate Earth Day, what we do to live a greener lifestyle year-round, and what we needed to improve on.

Here is a slightly embarrassing report on the latter:

Goal 1: Buy more local produce/support local farmers.
Result: Um. I give myself a big FAIL. I think I only went to the Farmer's Market one time last year.

Goal 2: Easy Energy Conservation.
Result: Fair-Good. I have gotten much better about turning off lights and not leaving devices not in use plugged-in. We have added a bit of weather-stripping but need to do much more.

Goal 3: Being responsible with my plant choices.
Result: Good. I have bought/grown more perennials that can take our extreme heat and full sun with little to no care.

Goal 4: Conserving Water.
Result: Good. I got a rain barrel, and have not used a hose since! I will during the summer, of course, but less than usual for sure. I'd love to have a rain barrel under every downspout! I really love that I can use the water from the rain barrel to top off the little fish pond, without having to worry about all the nasty stuff in tap water (and wasting resources).

Goal 5: Tend the compost piles better to increase yield.
Result: Excellent. Just watching the brown/green ratio and turning them about once a month gave us wheelbarrows of awesome compost. I was so proud!

Goal 6: Generally Consuming Less.
Result: Fair-Good. We have cut down on the amount of paper towels we use. I'm trying to take better care of our nice things to make them last longer (rinsing dirt off garden tools, oiling our expensive cutting board, etc.). And I've started carrying reusable bamboo utensils to avoid having to use disposable plastic ones.

As you can see, I still have lots of work to do on last year's greener living goals. I do believe that every little bit helps, though, so I try not to get discouraged by the enormity of a total transition to green living.

What are your greener living goals for 2010? What will you do to celebrate Earth Day?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GBBC and Valentine's Day

We participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count last weekend, and it was a very cool experience. We only spent 15-30 minutes observing each day. Here is what we saw:

2 Northern Cardinals
1 American Goldfinch
1 Carolina Wren
1 White Throated Sparrow
1 House Finch
2 Mockingbirds

This mockingbird (I think) perched in the bottle tree like a real tree cracked me up.

2 Mourning Doves
1 White Throated Sparrow
2 Tufted Titmice
1 Carolina Chickadee
8 American Robins
2 Northern Cardinals
2 House Finches
+/-25 American Crows (creepy!)
1 MockingbirdHow cute is this goldfinch?!

Moving on...

Scott and I are very low-key about holidays, and generally don't buy each other gifts. Since he works nights, we hardly ever see each other - so a Valentine's Day spent at home together was a treat! We just cooked and lounged around. I made these blueberry scones with lemon glaze for breakfast:

Here is Tyler Florence's recipe for the scones. He says not to use frozen blueberries but I often do, and they work out fine. I half the amount of lemon juice and butter in the glaze recipe, otherwise it is too thin.

Scott made my favorite, eggplant parmesan, for dinner. It was delicious (tough to photograph, though, and I didn't feel like spending much time on it and letting my meal get cold).

Here is the basic recipe. This is from Bobby Flay's Throwdown. We use regular old shredded mozzarella, parmesano reggiano instead of the romano, and a mixture of lowfat milk and one egg rather than the four eggs. We use this sauce recipe, which is from my favorite vegetarian chef, Heidi Swanson (her cookbook Cook 1.0 is awesome).

White Trash Toffee was our dessert:

This stuff is addictive, and so easy! Get the recipe here. I sub pecans.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Way!

It is unusual for us to get even one "sticking snow" a year. You will recall we already got one back in December (the one that killed my vegetable garden in one fell swoop!). We got another, much bigger one today! It is the biggest February snowfall in 50 years, and the biggest Central Mississippi snowfall period for 13 years! Here is what we woke up to:

Otis enjoyed tromping around in the snow and eating it!

The bradford pears defied their reputation and held quite a bit of weight in snow without breaking a single branch. I wonder if this snow will hurt the flower buds that were already forming?

We had some sizable pine limbs down, but luckily none on the house:

Having grown up north of here (in Chattanooga), Scott is a PRO at making snowmen. I never knew about this rolling technique!

Our rotund 'man boasts coal eyes, a Vols hat, and zombie arms:

Scott's rolling revealed the depth of the snow - 4+ inches!

The snowman's pet snow-kitty:

The bird-feeder looked more like a Smurf house today:

Happy Winter!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Freezing and Fatigued in February

I'm getting tired of this long, unusually frigid winter! Most of our plants are dormant (or dead, thanks to the recent "arctic blast"), and it's too cold to spend much time outside. In the summer I might spend 10-15 hours per week in the garden, now it's more like 1. This isn't very conducive to garden blogging!
I take a lot of bird photos from inside. The ability to do this must be the one upside to having old, single-paned windows!

A lot of the reason I wanted a fish pond was to attract birds. However, we discovered the rock edging is thick enough to cause them a hard time when they try to take a drink. Scott suggested building them an island, and to my delight, they use it! This little bird hopped on the island for a drink right after I took this photo. The island is just a thick rock set atop bricks.

A few of my seeds are up 5 days after planting. If I only I could remember what they are!
Crocosmia (above) and mums (below) are enthusiastically coming back.
Despite the fact that they tear up my plants and eat my bulbs, I can't help but think squirrels are kind of cute! I thought this was an odd place to stop and enjoy a snack, but c'est la vie!

Have a great week!