Saturday, May 28, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird

No, I'm not referring to the Pulitzer Prize winning literary classic by Harper Lee, or the multi-Oscar winning film starring the great Gregory Peck.  Actually, I've never read the book or saw the movie.  Quite honestly, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit, until I looked up some facts on the movie at IMDB, I wasn't even sure of the story's plot!

What I'm referring to is my own desire to want to kill the most annoying Mockingbird on the planet.  I swear that bird has been purposefully trying to antagonize me.  I spent two full days outside putting in my veg/cutting garden.  And both days I had to listen to that blasted bird's noise.  

Oh, I can appreciate the Mockingbird's "talent" for being able to mimic up to 15 different bird songs, but I just wish it would stick with one for more than a millisecond.  It just yaps and yaps and yaps incessantly.  The whole time I was in the garden it would flit from 
tree to 

to tree

to the pitch of the house roof

squawking, drowning out every other bird and thoroughly annoying the heck out of me!

It never rested!  It almost reminded me of a kid with ADHD.  

Despite having to endure the nuisance of that bird, I did manage to get the garden in, and started on the potted plants.  Still have quite a few more pots/window boxes to finish up, and the perennial and herb gardens need a good weeding.  And with three more days left of this Holiday weekend, I may just meet my goal of getting it all done by Monday!  YAY!!!

Two rows of tomatoes - Romas, Brandywine heirloom, Big Boy, a yellow variety and Husky Cherry.

Pepper patch - Green Bell, Jalapeno, Banana and Hot Chiles

I also planted some herbs - Basil, Dill, Italian Parsley and Cilantro.  Some cucumbers, green onions and flower seeds sewn for cutting - Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias and Tithonia.

Here's an interesting development over by one of my compost bins.  Discarded pumpkins from last fall have sprouted their seeds in a big way.  I'm gonna leave them, probably thinning some of them, and see what happens.

This area is seen from our family room bay window, and it's always been a landscaping challenge.  Directly under the mulched area is our propane tank.  To left is a gorgeous Kwanzan Cherry and on the right is a grouping of Helleri Holly bushes that hide the big, black, ugly metal entrance thingy that covers the tank's filling area and gauges.  I can never get much to grow in the center.  I think the tank being not too far under the ground there makes it too hot for flower's roots or not deep enough soil or something.  So, I try to add some kind of interest with the flag, bird bath, potted plants, etc.  

The bird house grouping is new this year.  Not sure I'm entirely loving it just yet.  I'm going to leave them for now and see if they grow on me.  Last year I had them scattered in the perennial garden, and I  did like them there.  They may end up back out there ;o)

A much quieter and less obnoxious-sounding bird, the Barn Swallow below, has been trying to nest in the one big bird house in the center.  I'm hoping it realizes the hole is too small.  It spent most of the day yesterday trying to wiggle it's body in.  I would hate to see it get stuck in there.  I may have to cover up that hole just to be safe.

 Onto some random views around the garden.  I planted these Knockout Roses last year . . . or was it the year before.  Anyway, if you don't have any of these, they are so worth the small investment.  What a wonderful plant!  Full, gorgeous and constantly blooming bushes really make a big impact in the garden.  I'm in love with these and want more!

My most favorite flower, Peony.  They're almost done blooming, and I almost missed them.  I wish they bloomed longer.  Have you ever smelled a Peony?  Oh my!  Their fragrance is amazing.  I just bury my face in the big, soft blooms and breath deep . . . hoping not to snort up a ant!  Ants love these plants.

 Another show-stopper in the garden this year, is this Cornus Kousa - Japanese Dogwood.  I planted it as the centerpiece of the perennial garden several or more years ago, but this is the first year it's put on this fantastic of a show. 
Just beautiful.  

 I had to share this hanging basket of  Calibrachoa, or Million Bells, I picked up at Lowes a few weeks ago.  I love these flowers.  They just bloom and bloom with no dead-heading required.  

 The color combination in this basket is fabulous!

Well, back to work!  Lot's more to get done.  

Whether you're relaxing, tackling some indoor and/or outdoor projects, I hope y'all are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

My Flowery Booty

Bech'ya can guess what I'm going to be doing for the next few days or more! ;o)

I'm soooo late in getting my annuals planted, the veg/cutting garden in and most everything else outdoor related.  We had a whole bunch of nasty, rainy weather that lasted quite a while - a week or more.  

And this past weekend me and Hubby took a long weekend vaca to Myrtle Beach, SC - Golf Capital of the East Coast - where I pretty much embarrassed the heck out of myself on more than one golf course.  Good thing it was bike week, or there may have been more people around to scrutinize my poor form! 

No real worries, though.  If golf was easy, there'd be a whole lot more of us on the tour makin' big money, right?!

Now that play time is over, time to get busy out there in those gardens.  My goal is to have it all done by the end of the holiday weekend.   That is if the the weather cooperates. 

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Monday, May 16, 2011

A Homecoming

Son No. 1, John, is home from college.  Hubby flew down to Charlotte, NC, last Thursday night to make the eight hour drive home with him Friday.

I can't believe he's finished four years of college.  Where the heck have these last four years gone??!!   It seems like not too long ago we were celebrating his graduation from high school.  

His 21st birthday last August almost seems like yesterday.

It's been a lot of years since he was the little guy below stressing about his first day of preschool! 

He does have to go back down to UNC Charlotte for one more semester this August.  He'll officially graduate in December.  

As usual, his big request for me to have ready when he came through the door Friday evening was a plate of brownies.  I was more than happy to oblige!  Along with some banana cupcakes, blueberry poundcake and banana bread, I also threw together some yummy guacamole, mini french bread pizzas and warm spinach dip.  
That boy can eat!!!

Seems all I've been doing the past few days since he's been home is cooking!  It's all good, though.  I can see he's been starved for home cookin'.  

It's good to have him home.  

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Front Door Decor - Need Your Help!

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I've been on a search for something new, different, unusual for my front door.  We have a double front door.  One of the things that originally sold me on this house, but I would change in a second if I could.  Sure a double front door can be a bit regal, dramatic - the exact word's not coming to mind right now - but it's a pain.  A double front door requires two of whatever I want to hang out there.  It also is more expensive when fitting for an outer door, which is necessary in our case.  The front of our house faces almost due west where almost all the severe weather comes from . . . rain, wind . . . lots of wind.  Sometimes I feel like we're living in Kansas with all the wind!  

I have plastic hanging things to hold whatever I try to put there.  But because of the wind I frequently have to bring in whatever I have hanging on the doors to keep them from blowing around on the door or sometimes right off the door.  

Wreaths are usually the first things that come to mind for front door decor, but I'm really tired of wreaths.  I've done baskets, but again, I have to worry about the wind.  I've been scouring the net trying to find some ideas, and I saved quite a few pics I'm sharing with you.  Unfortunately, when I started saving the pics I didn't save their sources because originally I was gathering ideas just for my use, so if by chance a pic of yours or another blogger you may recognize is shown, please let me know and I'll leave credit on that picture.

If any of you have any good, unusual ideas for me, please share!  I'm really looking for something a little different.  Also, if any of you have any ideas on how to better secure something to a glass storm door, I'm dying to know.

Here's a pic of my doors.  We've had absolutely beautiful weather this week, so I have one screen so we can enjoy the warm, refreshing air coming through the house.

And, as you can see, I'm a bit behind in getting some pretty flowers and all my cutesy porch decor out there.  More items on my to-do list.  OYE!

We do need to do some facelift work out there.  We desperately need to replace the door handles on both the main doors and the storm doors (actually, we need new storm doors altogether!).  And I'd like a new door bell button.  I'm also toying with the idea of painting the door and sidelights red.  Or maybe painting the doors red and the sidelights black.  Not sure about all that just yet.  Too many other projects screaming to get done!

Sometimes it's hard for me to justify spending the money - and time - out there.  Nobody uses our front door except unwanted solicitors. And we have a two acre lot, so our house sits way back off the street.  I know the front door should be warm and welcoming, and I do try to make it look pretty nice, but with so many other things constantly needing attention in and around the house, it's just hard for me to make time out there.

 Double wreaths.  Now that's pretty cool.   But that would mean I'd need four!  With a double door, that might be wreath overload.

This is gorgeous.  Of course!  It's a Heather Bullard design :o)  Don't think it would be practical for my glass door on a windy day though.

Like this look a lot.  Could change out the contents according to season.  Just not sure how  to secure a large basket like that from the wind.

This is cute.  Would the "box" work decorated differently for other seasons?

Like this idea.  Use the door handle.  Again, though, the wind might be a problem.

All these frame ideas below are cute.  

Blue Sky Confections

This is obviously the front door of a business, but I really like the decorated frames around the business name.  Maybe a welcoming vinyl phrase on my doors using this frame idea.  Would the vinyl words stand up to the weather?

Any and all ideas, suggestions, comments, are totally welcome!
I need all the help I can get for that space out there.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011


My family loves chicken.  I mean really loves chicken!  Almost to an unhealthy obsession.  Well, maybe not obsessively . . . I'm being a bit overdramatic, I guess.  But, seriously, they do really like chicken!  So I'm always on the hunt for something new and different, and most importantly, EASY! to do with chicken.  I think that might be one of many homemaker's main kitchen quests . . . the next best chicken recipe!

Probably like a lot of you, I have so many different companies dumping recipes into my email inbox.  And quite frankly, I almost never use any of them.  Not sure why.  Anyway, I occasionally get recipe newsletters from the Betty Crocker site.

I received a newsletter last week convincing me I could make "the juiciest chicken ever". Oh really?!  I clicked on the link in the email and went to the site where several chicken recipes were listed.  One caught my eye. 

Betty Crocker's site boasts it was awarded "Best 30-Minute Meal of 2008".  It looked good.  Sounded quick and easy.  And I had all the ingredients on hand.  Key, right?!  Well, I'll tell you, that chicken was darn good - easy to make and JUICY!!! :o)   The recipe calls for the chicken to be cooked on the grill, but since our grill was out of propane, I used my cast iron grill pan on the stove.  Good enough!

I will most definitely be making this chicken again.  I can see it being a repeat performer this summer for sure on the outside grill.

Here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons Old El Paso taco seasoning mix (I buy the can of this seasoning mix.)
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/4 lb)
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat grill.  In shallow bowl, mix taco seasoning mix and oregano.  Brush chicken with oil and sprinkle with taco seasoning mixture.

Place chicken on grill over medium heat.  Cover grill and cook 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear or when the thickest part is 170 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in small microwave bowl, mix barbecue sauce, chili sauce and cumin.  Cover and microwave on high 30 to 60 seconds or until hot.  Serve sauce over chicken.

I made a super-quick side dish by quickly melting a bit of Velvetta with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilis, and mixing with some left over rice and bow-tie pasta that was already in the frig.   

They all loved the chicken!!!  And the side dish went over well too!  How could it not?  Spicy cheese and pasta.  YUM!

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