Archive | March 2017

Punked my Pups!

I don’t like to waste food, and lucky for the boys there was some left over ham from the weeks sandwiches. Instead of cutting it up and mixing it in, I decided to be an a$$hole and stick it to the bottom of the bowl, under their food >:-D

   

I don’t normally feed them in the living room, however I knew I’d be documenting their progress.

Oreo went straight to working on getting the ham out.

Breck was just gobbling! So much so, his bowl was rolling all over.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Irony

My hubby just installed our new, large, toyhauler mailbox last weekend. Our mail person is going to love it, as they can fit much larger packages in it and not have to drive up to the house to drop them off.

I do have an odd set-up for the front of my home. The true, front door is not convenient to use, as it drops you off into a small hallway in the living room. I much prefer using the garage entrance that then goes into the kitchen. Way more accessible to everything and a much larger foyer, so to speak.

I have a long bench right by this door that is out of the elements and a great place to leave packages, as I will see them walking up. The front door has no protection from rain. Even though I have blocked the front stoop from access with flower pots, it doesn’t stop them from hopping over and putting them there. It’s really only UPS and FedEx that does it. I usually have a note in the mailbox, telling the mail carrier to place them on the bench…

Since I had a new mailbox, I needed to write out a new note to hang inside, informing the carriers of my wishes that larger packages be placed on the bench. This was my first attempt. DOH!!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Twin Tuesday – Key Image Photographers and Bertie the Bear

There’s a cute, reoccurring adventurer that graces the pages of Key Image Photography called Bertie.  He is just the most adorable bear and along with his friend Croc who joins him on some pretty crazy travels!

I also have a traveling friend that goes everywhere my convertible goes. His name is ‘Goatee’, clearly because he is a goat that sports a pretty rad goatee! He likes to ride in my passenger seat visor, high up so he can see all the sights. Making sure there’s no Smokies on my tail… Goatee and I really get along great as we’re both Capricorns! He also never complains about my driving. That’s key in this relationship.

    

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories

This also gets me off the hook for fresh material on the busiest day of the week  😉

The Willows are starting to turn yellow here. wpid-20140304_070015_richtonehdr.jpg

This is right on schedule with last year. This photo is from last year and had I taken a new one last Friday, it would have been void of snow. However Mr. Jack Frost is not done wit us yet! We’ve got 3-5 inches predicted for this evening! (Technically, I’m writing this Sunday night ~ We’ll see in the comments if I’m right!)

Summer blend gas is on order.

Our gas prices are starting to rise, even though the cost of a barrel of oil is going down. Yeah, living by a large city is awesome!! Not. So even though there is plenty of gas made and ready to go, the refineries have to make summer blend for the area that drives the price up almost double. $2.97 per gallon now will be $4.50 in June.

The upside is usually the price of diesel stays the same price throughout the year at about $2.70 per gallon. This is good when we are camping and driving a bit to get where were plopping for the weekend.

s daliDaylight Savings Time

This was a few weeks ago, however I think it’s important to understand where these notions come from and just why do we do it?!?

Many think this was all done to try to save resources, energy and money… However, environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, found that the Daylight saving did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings… HOWEVER, higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.

rain barrel35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  2. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  3. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

https://midwesternplants.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/garlic_mustard2.jpg?w=171&h=182

99 Edible Plants for the Midwest Forager

Many young weeds are great for food! Take a look at this list and get ready for fresh, free veggies!

Plants can be your best bet for long term survival or your short ride to being plant food. Here’s another wonderful site: Plants For a Future that lists over 7,000 plants and their medicinal purposes, really really great stuff going on there.

Asclepias spp. – Milkweed ~ Young pods, before they set seed*

Asimina triloba – Pawpaw ~ fruits (I’m dying to try these)

Artium spp. – Burdock ~ The root

Barbarea spp. – Winter Cress ~ The young leaves & flower

Betula spp. – Birch ~ The sap, inner bark, twigs

Brassica spp. – Wild Mustards ~ The young leaves, flowerbuds, & seeds

Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepard’s Purse ~ The young leaves, seedpods

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Hurry Up, Already! Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough for Me!

Although I really can’t complain about our Midwestern winter this year, its still lasting too long for me. I’m hoping for an early spring, however it usually doesn’t happen like that when we’ve been teased so early in the year.  In mid-February, we had a week of 60F / 16C… That was just crazy weird! Of course the convertible top was down all of those days =-D We got a lot of yard work done that weekend. My front garden is all pruned and ready to be posted about. (I’ve been holding out on ya’all regarding showing you my whole front foundation bed!)

I’ve been out checking the status of the daffy and tulip bulbs, along with the buds on the lilac bush. The bulbs are barely out of the ground and no action on the lilac. I used to have a fair amount of crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths in my lawn. I haven’t replenished them in a few years and I think the squirrels have accidentally dug them up or they’ve perished, as I don’t see any yet. That’s OK. When things decide to pop, they tend to do so in a hurried manner. Spring bloomers, to me, are like the ocean or a 2 year old… turn your back on them for one second and they quickly change their status from OK to OH!

My quince are starting to bud. I love quince. Such a vibrant display of color. These shrubs are quite small right now, however as part of my front bed, I’m not planning on letting them get too large. I’m focusing on pruning them to be fuller shrubs. Quince can be quite leggy without proper pruning early in their lives. Since the blooms tend to be in the lower, inside regions of the plant, the more inside area, the more numerous the blooms. Same goes for my mock orange. These are a dwarf variety, however they have the same blooming location as the quince. Proper pruning will give these guys a thicker branching structure, lower in the plant. Of course you don’t want to get too crowded of a crown, that promotes less air circulation which lead to other problems. Like Goldilocks’s liking… not too much, not too little 🙂 This is a great argument for purchasing smaller, younger plants… so you are able to prune and train them to your liking.

This may be my last Friday off this Spring. Sad face. Although I am writing this post on St. Paddy’s Day, these photos were taken before the snow… There is still about 3″ (9cm) of snow on the shady parts of the yard. I’m going to try to eek one more Friday out of this month, however that’s pushing it. I’m actually doing rain/bad weather dances, as that will delay any construction / clean-ups until April 1, when our contracts actually start.

I finally got a real nice, competent co-worker to fill a much needed gap in our company. She’s very young, however hungry to learn. Who knows? Maybe she’ll like horticulture and follow that into college. Maybe not. I just hope she stays long enough to straighten this place out a bit. After only three weeks, she’s proved herself immensely in keeping all the records straight. You just don’t understand how stress relieving she is to me! I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not an office manager!! 😉 I’m hopefully going to get out into the field a bit more because someone is there to man the office. Sadly, I did get my wish last Tuesday and had to drive to the North Shore in a snowstorm for an emergency tree locate. That was super!! NOT. In the end, it wasn’t that bad and I proved myself where 2 other ‘Master Arborists’* failed. Three’s a charm, they say…

As it is Spring around here… A time for new beginnings and all that. I’m going to try to get my life in a bit more order. First, I need to get myself in better health. I don’t know how I got so fat. I hope I don’t have a heart attack when I go out planting Spring flowers in three weeks =-O

Next, I need an income plan. Life at my job right now is pretty awesome (along with the pay), I’m not going to leave anytime soon. Yes, I have complained about it in the past (who doesn’t???), however now that I’ve got some well needed help, I can focus on what I consider more fun and that is working with plants.

Yes, I will continue with my blogging here. Honestly, during the flowering season, posts write themselves with all the photos. It only takes me a second to stop and shoot the flowers.. Haha!! I’m still hoping for that perfect writing job. Ya know…. The one that pays you enough to actually eat better than Ramon noodles? That is another reason I keep the blog going. It is a portfolio of sorts. It also shows I’m capable of finding stuff to write about.

Speaking of which… I thought of a great ‘Tuesday’ feature, that will also showcase some of the awesome blogs I follow. It’s a win / win. I’m not an ‘Awards Blog’, however I understand that they are around to try to promote each other’s blogs and share. I’m just not a big sharer of personal info, that’s all. However, I’m all for promoting each other! I’m not going to give the premise away just yet… They say you should always leave your audience wanting more….

 

*I’m only a test away from ‘Master Arborist’ status. It requires 10 years of active service, educational goals and passing a test.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

In Lieu of Awards… Twin Tuesday is Here!

When I started blogging about 4 years ago, I wondered how some blogs had so many awards and how could I also become so beloved!! I stalked some bloggers. I wasn’t ashamed…. Commenting on every post. The need for recognition festered with every non-mention in the next award hand-out ceremony. I was desperate. .. I ended up finding a blog (I think) that basically invited everyone to take a certain award. I can’t even remember the name of it, and I even tried to search it to no avail. After I graciously accepted my award, applied my badge to my blog, high on my sidebar… I started awarding everyone I met. YOU’VE BEEN SELECTED!!!!

 

After getting three under my belt (not even gonna link to them, if you’re that curious, hit the search box), The first line of the fourth was, “MY BLOG IS NOW AWARD FREE”. I think after the first one I wrote, I was trying to follow the ‘Promote 15 other bloggers for the award’ dealio and noticed many folks noted that they were award free on their ABOUT page. I didn’t understand the problem with award posts until I tried to write one… They’re HARD. There’s also only so much information I’m going to write about myself.

Of course, the moment I didn’t want any awards, did I start to start receive them… in droves!

Isn’t it Ironic? Don’t you think?

Anyway. I did still like the idea of the awards…. To share the blogs that I found enjoyable with my MP fans. I did write a few thank you posts when I arrived at some milestones. Again, I feel that that was a no pressure way to promote a fellow blogger. However, I’ve thought of a clever way to celebrate and share my favorite bloggers yet again! Drumroll……. Twin Tuesday will start next Tuesday! My Tuesday’s post will be dedicated to one blog that I follow, in where I try to mimic their posting style.

Oddly enough, while searching for some of these meme’s (et all, for this post), I did run across a few articles/posts about how some folks freak-out when other folks do things like this…. ie, copy their blog premise or posts, more-so on a regular basis or flat-out verbatim. It basically creeped them out, huge! I sincerely hope I do not offend anyone, I also do not plan on changing my blog, this is a one and done thang. I really just want to celebrate the blogs I love 🙂 So! If you have a blog that I regularly comment on, you are most likely going to be doppleganged! If you DO NOT want this to happen, please email me. I will also respect anyone asking me to remove it, post publishing.

I really hope that my blogging community will enjoy my attempts at imitation. Some will be easy… some will be hard. I’m going to enjoy the challenge and I hope the blogs I choose to honor and my fans will enjoy my attempts at doppelgangering! However, more importantly, I hope by sharing my favorite blogs with you, you’ll go check them out yourself.

I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts!!! Ilex

Blue Apron Meals – Update

We have been ordering Blue Apron meals for a little over a month now. I can’t say enough about the meals and the cooking techniques we’ve learned how to to pull off. Admittedly, there are also plenty of food items I will never touch again… Kale pretty much being at the top of the list. I’ve made kale at least 5 different ways and none of them has produced a palatable taste for me. We now just buy some spinach for me when we see it in an upcoming meal. The next being sesame oil. OMG, it kills my insides and stays with me for days. ICK! Lastly, what is with all the radishes? I get it BA is trying to be eco-friendly and use what is in season, however a radish salad is not my cup-o-tea.

We often try to pick the fish meal when offered. All of them have been fabulous! I can’t believe how much I love catfish. My Father used to cook it all the time and the smell caused me to leave the house. The salmon, white fish and cod have all been fantastic also.

So far, our favorite meal has been the pork roast rubbed in spices. It was so juicy and tender! Super yum.

We’re going to continue to enjoy these. We also think these would be a great thing to bring along camping! All the ingredients are in the box, I don’t need to worry about forgetting something. The only things that would need to be aboard the ‘Daug Haus’ would be olive oil and the proper kitchen tools; pots, shredders, pans, etc.

Admittedly, I don’t remember the fancy names for the following meals… I’m going to call it as I see it. If anyone’s curiosity is burning that bad to know the recipe or true name, ask about it in the comments and I’ll get back to you.  =-)

Salmon with fried rosemary and apple farro

Pan fried chicken with bok choy, rice and marinated carrot slaw

Pan fried chicken with mushrooms, rice and kale.

Cheese cannolis with tomato sauce and creamy garlic salad

Here’s that pork meal!

Cumin crusted pork roast with fig / orange sauce on a bed of onion and barley.

Pork chop with jasmine rice, tomato/cilantro salsa and kale.

Fried chicken on a bed of kale and mashed potatoes.

Lamb and beef stew topped with fried potato disks and parmesan cheese

Moroccan Chicken on spiced tomatoes and carrots with rice. This one rocked!!

Shrimp with cabbage with curry. We did not like this one at all.

Meatloaf with ketchup pepper chutney and hash browns. Meh.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Second Chances for Single Socks

cute-dog-socksIt’s hopefully coming to the end of ‘sock season’ soon and the need to wear socks will be over. I hate wearing socks. I do buy cute ones tho, usually with dogs or other cute animals or patterns on them. My husband, on the other hand, buys the same, white brand so they actually ALL match. Whenever he gets a hole in one, it’s not like the pair is trash, just the one with the hole. Easy-peasy! There’s never a single sock in his drawer.

I actually don’t seem to loose many of these cute pairs. It’s the plain Jane colored ones that go MIA. I had a pretty large pile of loners and was about to throw them out when I looked at Oreo sitting next to me. Ah Ha! I tied them all together and a new pull toy was created! Fun!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl