Delight and Discouragement

Good morning, my friends. It's bright and sunny here on this Friday morning. Mike and I have pretty much finished with the winter clean-up of the yard. He spent most of his day yesterday pressure-washing our dirty deck. The place is looking pretty good right now. Bring on summer! Mike has already announced he's going to drive his Corvette today. It'll be a top-down day for him. I'm going to stay home and sew. We'll both be in our happy places.

Yesterday morning had me spending most of my time in the kitchen, but I took a walk around the garden first. Sadie kept me company.

I was pretty sure I'd find the Coral Sunset peony open. 

It was only a preview of what was to come later in the day. When I checked on it after lunch, it had opened all the way. There are two more just like it.

My hopes have been dashed once again with the Rosy Prospects peony. This was the one bud that gave me hope, but no. It's going to do just what the others have done.

Around front, the purple rhododendron is looking mah-velous right now.

Bumblebees are all over it.

To its left, I'm thrilled to see all the flower buds on the Red Cardinal Clematis. It's going to have a splendid year. You can see all the flower buds on this section. This image only shows about 25% of the whole vine.

To my right, a hummingbird was slurping up the fresh nectar I'd put out.

You might remember this image of the poppies from yesterday. 

I counted 13 flowers on this one plant. Sadly, the 13th had broken off. I brought it in the house and gave it a seat at the table.

Now here's where the discouragement comes in. I was saddened to find one of the pickling cucumbers dug up and tossed to the side unceremoniously. This is the work of squirrels. That's a hole, not a tunnel. 

On the bright side, the gopher stakes are discouraging the burrowing mammals, but the squirrels are still on the hunt for seeds. Whoever did this didn't eat the plant...just dug it up and tossed it aside.

Nearby, one of the true leaves on a different plant was chewed off.

Also, you can see that one of the zucchini leaves is broken off in the image below.

Fortunately, I planted about twice as many cucumbers and zucchini as I'll need. Nevertheless, they're still just barely getting started, and so I'm going to pre-sprout some cucumber seeds and plant a few more. I worry the squirrels will do more damage, and I haven't even checked the garden yet this morning.

On a happier note, there's a little more going on in the bee garden. Mainly, I have these little propeller flowers, which is what I'd expect to see even if I didn't plant any wildflower seeds on my own.

They seem to come in three colors.

Ahhh...but what's this over here? Referring to the online catalog, I believe these are what's known as None so Pretty or Catchfly Seeds

If I'm right about that, they'll be opening into large purple clusters of flowers.

It seemed like a good time to check in on the lunaria again. They're growing taller. I thought one of the five clusters had been completely destroyed by critters, but it seems to be making a comeback. I noticed some spindly stems that still had life in them. Here's one that survived the assault.

Okay, so it was time to head back inside. I filled the birdfeeders and then went to work on my kitchen things. Mike and I bought a quart of strawberries at the grocery store a few days ago. I'm always on the hunt for very large strawberries. I have to cut off the seedy sides, and only the large ones leave me with much strawberry after that is done.

My method is to cut off the top and then the bottom point, which renders the strawberry more or less conical shaped. Then, I can use a paring knife to shave off the sides. The seedless strawberry goes into one bowl, and the seedy sides go into another.

This morning, I'll use the seedless strawberries to make some homemade strawberry ice cream. It's the best thing ever!!! The seedy sides are hard at work downstairs infusing some vodka for strawberry-infused vodka. I used to make the infusion with raspberries. A couple of years ago, I realized this was a perfect job for the seedy sides. Otherwise, they'd just go into the trash. I'll update you tomorrow when all of that is finished.

From there, it was time to sew. Sadie was my too-much-help helper cat yesterday.

Papurr-piecing. It's time to get serious.

There'll be no pussyfooting around today.

She likes to lean into her work.

When the going gets tough, she puts her whole body into it.

And, okay, she was encouraged to find a new job taking a nap.

Fortunately (or not), Smitty showed up about then.

Step aside, Little Lady. This is mancat work.

Okay, well phew. With so much help, how could I not finish it up successfully. I give you Tiny House #20. Just 16 to go. And yes, the top of the tree doesn't match up with a portion of the trunk. I figure it was pruned a little too vigorously.

Here are the 20 Tiny Houses I have so far.

And that brought me to the end of my day. I was testing a recipe for America's Test Kitchens. Since it's a test recipe, I can't share it, but I wanted you to see the picture. This is a Thai-Style Beef Salad. It looks good in the picture. It had a lot of weird ingredients, and it was very spicy.

The salad dressing was made using a combination of toasted paprika and cayenne. Aside from that it had some grilled top round steak that had been brined. I added a goodly amount of fresh mint and fresh cilantro, and then it was served over a bed of cucumbers. I wasn't sure this would even be edible, but it was pretty darned good. If I make it again (and I will), I'll share the recipe with you then.

Okay, so I'll probably spend a good part of the morning in the kitchen again today. We're having Curried Chicken and Apple Wraps for dinner. I can make up the filling ahead of time. I'll serve that with a Watermelon Salad with Rum and Mint. It's a nice combination, and it will keep us in lunches for a couple of days. First, though, I want to get my ice cream churning. It's going to be a good day food-wise. As for sewing, I really am going to get going on the quilting for my challenge piece this afternoon. It's making me a little nervous, but I'm optimistic I can pull it off.


Barbara said...

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate. ~ Thornton Wilder

Mary C said...

Sorry to hear about the cruel peony and the cruel squirrels! It was so interesting reading about how that variety was cultivated. Even though the flower isn't formed properly, the colors show how beautiful it could be. You gave it plenty of time to get its act together.

piecefulwendy said...

Those squirrels can be so destructive, and they are so persistent. Your pink peony is a beauty, but I'm sorry about the other one. Hope Mike enjoys his drive!

Quilting Babcia said...

Cayenne pepper sprinkled on and around those seedlings might take care of the squirrel issue in the veggie garden. Your peonies are gorgeous, we may or may not see any this year because of the late freezes we've had. All the irises are toast. Jury is still out on whether the blueberries will set any fruit, as well as the apples and pears.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Homemade ice cream. Well. Ummm - how many guest rooms do you have???
Seeing the comment above about cayenne pepper reminded me that there's also a 'thing' that I"ve read that suggests that putting Q-tips dipped in Oil Of Peppermint around plants is supposed to deter critters.

Brown Family said...

You always have pretty flowers. I had a fer white Iris this year but not as many as last year. I did have purple Dutch Iris, the tiny ones, Bloom. They are fickle and only bloom when they want too! In the fall, I will have the Dwarf amaryllis bloom. But that is the extent of my flowers!

Max has been helping me sew, He walks between me and the sewing machine or the computer monitor!

I just don't understand why I do not have the stamina to finish this silly little house!

Lyndsey said...

Mmmm that salad looks good. I can't wait until you make it again and I can try it out. I like little house number 20 and I like your take on the tree pruning!