Gardening and Sunshine

The rain held off until late in the day yesterday, which was good because Mike really needed to mow the field. He started to mow it last weekend, but then disaster struck with his mower tire. He was mowing away with the tractor when a wheel came off the mower deck being towed behind. He didn't notice it until he headed back the other way and then ran over the wheel, cutting it to ribbons and bending the shaft that held it to the mower deck. Oy. And, well, Mike is really good at fixing things, but it took some time to get a new tire and repair the shaft. Anyway...he got 'er finished yesterday, and our hay fever will thank us for an end to the blooming weeds and grass. Temporarily, at least.

Before he started making noise and dust, I got outside for a walk around. I'm still watching that poppy, but it hasn't changed much. Instead, I took pictures of the actual blooming things, including this dark purple rhododendron. This is my favorite.

A neighbor at our previous home had a dark purple rhodie in their yard, and I loved it. When we moved to our new place, it seemed a natural choice for the landscaping we needed to do, and so we bought one. Then we went on a week-long camping trip. Matthew was still living with us back than, and he was keeping things watered while we were gone. This rhodie was stuck back in a corner, and he simply missed it in his watering. When we returned home, it was a crispy critter. Mike stuck it in a bucket of water, hoping we could revive it, and it lives today to tell the tale.

Its neighbor across the sidewalk is a lighter shade of purple, and it is covered in flowers now.

The bumblebees like it. I noticed this guy, so still I thought he might be dead. And so I reached over and touched him. He sort of moved grumpily, like a lazy teenager, but didn't fly off. He just stayed like that, and he allowed me to pet his furry body. I've seen this before with bumblebees. It's as if they are mesmerized by the flower they're sitting on.

Walking on, I noticed we're getting strawberries. We never get to eat any of these because the squirrels help themselves before they even ripen.

Smitty was accompanying me along the way.

There be squirrels where he's looking. Occasionally, he catches one and has a little snack.

You might notice the weeds lying there next to him. I like to pull them up as I go, and then I just throw them and leave them where they lie as a warning off to other weeds that might decide to grow there. It's the gardener's equivalent of heads on pikes.

In the greenhouse, the red-leaf lettuce is doing well. It's still too young to start picking from it, but it's moving along.

The butter lettuce hasn't done a thing...not a single seed has germinated. So I checked my seed packet, and the seeds were packed for 2015. They're probably old, and so I ordered some new ones and replanted. And I can't say much for the sunflowers either. Two of the zucchini pots have germinated, and are nearly ready to be planted in the ground. Behind them is the one sunflower that germinated early on. The rest sat there doing nothing.

I did some reading on this and finally decided I'd shot myself in the foot by covering the pots. The seeds may have gotten too warm (or stayed too wet) to germinate. Besides, those seeds were old too. So I uncovered them, and replanted with what I had on hand. For good measure, I ordered some new seeds. Yesterday, I noticed that quite a few have germinated now, and so I should have sunflowers soon.

While I was ordering seeds, I ordered some new varieties, and those have been planted now too. I'll have more sunflowers than I know what to do with, but the birds like them. Where there's a will, there's a place to plant them.

Back outside, there are plums on the plum tree.

Cherries on the Bing cherry tree...

And on the Black Tartarian cherry tree. Do you suppose we'll get more cherries this year? That would be great.

Oh and look! It's the notorious Catbird!

There are chive blossoms now, but not enough yet for making vinegar. Probably later in this week I'll have enough to get started with that.

Oh and look! It's the Black-crested Catbird! This is a rare species, interesting for its lack of a tail.

Okay, so getting back to my sewing, I made a black yo-yo that serves as an opening for the bee skep.

And then I made the second of May's blocks for the Garden Sunshine quilt. This took forever.

When it was finished, I was kind of tired of sewing, but May's commitment for the Garden Sunshine quilt is finished.

And after all that sewing, I had a yen for dessert. I've become very interested in desserts for two. A couple of nights ago, I sat with my friend The Google searching for "desserts for two." I came across quite a few in my wanderings. Then yesterday afternoon, I said to Mike, "Do you think I should make a dessert for two?" And he answered, "Well, I'm not going to say 'no'." There were probably other choices, but for sure, I had the ingredients to make a Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two.

It was super easy to mix it up. It used two small bowls, a fork, and a spoon. Oh yes, and something to melt the butter in. No mixer required. It was baked in a 6-1/2 inch cast iron skillet. Once you have it mixed up, you spread it out covering the bottom of the well-buttered skillet, and then bake it (I used my toaster oven) at 350°F for 18-20 minutes. (Mine was ready after 18 minutes.)

When it came out of the oven, it looked like this.

It's made with 2/3 of half a cup (did you get that?) of chocolate chips. The remainder of the chips can be sprinkled over the top when it comes out of the oven, or you can melt them into a syrup to pour over the top. I opted for the former. The cookie is still warm enough to melt and soften the chips.

I'll admit some of them fell into my mouth. It happens every time. I probably need to work on my technique. When it comes to desserts, I always think it's good to practice as much as possible.

It was too early to eat it just then, and so we waited until later, and then cut it in half, warmed it in the microwave, and then plopped some vanilla ice cream over the top.

Oh. My. Gosh. It was so good. Do you ever eat something so good and yummy that you're exhausted by the time you're finished, just from uttering the ooohs and ahhhs while eating it? Honestly, it was that good. I've linked to the recipe back there, but in case you missed it, just click right here.

Okay, so that was a sweet way to end the day. Today I have just one more monthly project to work on. I want to make two more blocks for the Countdown to Christmas sew-along. I really should give them another name because I'm using my blue and green scraps on them, as a way to cull the herd of blues and greens. So far, I swear, I can't even see a dent. In fact, I'm certain I have more scraps now than when I started. When I have those two blocks finished, I'll be ready to start quilting the Cardinal mosaic.

10 comments from clever and witty friends:

Sandra W said...

Enjoyed the photos of the catbirds. So nice to see cats in a tree. And, oh, that dessert! Yes, it looks yummy.

Tawa said...

Practice definitely makes perfect, so I would recommend buying some more chocolate chips. That cookie did look pretty perfect from my angle though. Thanks for a fun post.

WoolenSails said...

Your gardens are beautiful and I got poppies this year, they are blooming like crazy and really getting tall.
I see the kitties are enjoying the nice weather too.


quiltzyx said...

Such ravishing Rhodies! And flaunting fruits on the trees & lovely lettuce in the greenhouse. Celestial cats in trees - oh boy!

Hmmm, I have ended up with a few of those little cast iron skillets. Maybe even with cookie mix to go with them. I will have to check them & see. I am planning to have a couple of home-grown artichokes for dinner tonight (from the big boss's garden). I am really looking forward to them!

Denise :) said...

I always enjoy reading through your chatty posts and hearing all you've been up to. I don't know how you manage it all! Loved the pics of the 'cat birds' and thank you SO much for sharing the recipe to the chocolate chip skillet cookie . . . I'm drooling just looking at it! :)

SJSM said...

A walk around the yard, a tale of the broken, cut up wheel, cats, fruits, flowers, sewing and chocolate chip cookies! A post full of a weekend on the 3 Cat Ranch. Thanks for the tour and the recipe.

piecefulwendy said...

2/3rds of a half is a bit much to ponder on a Monday morning, but I'm pretty sure a piece of that yumminess would help me think! If there's any left . . . That flower block looks like it was a bit of work! I love the color in that dark rhodie. Now I'm pondering buying some for my yard, but not sure if they grow in this neck of the woods, must check. Off to visit The Google!

Natureluvr57 said...

The weather is so weird. I planted my tomatoes and zucchini and today it dropped to 50. I kept getting rained on when trying to pull weeds and weed whack. Finally finished yesterday. More rain in the forecast tomorrow and cold, then they're predicting 80's the rest of the week. I know the dry season is coming where it will be hot and dry. Hoping it won't be at 100 or near all summer long like last year-We only got about 2 weeks of relief and not all at one time. I love the sound of that recipe. I love your "for two" recipes. I've made the caramel bread pudding several times for Mom and myself. This is on my list. Have a great day.

Brown Family said...

You have always had good luck with seeds. Hopefully the new seeds will perform as required! Desert looks yummy!

QuiltGranma said...

If you really want to eat the fresh strawberries, why not have them in the greenhouse, so they would be protected?