Saturday, June 26, 2010

In the garden today...

Want to take a walk with me through the garden? 
Remember that I'm only letting you see what looks good. 
Cropping is a wonderful invention.

We have two blueberry bushes.  They are loaded with blueberries but the bushes are small. 

Snap peas...

Perfect for salads and stir fry!

Makes my mouth water!

This is our second year trying strawberries. 
These are small little things but they are the sweetest, most delicious berries ever.

We've been eating spinach for a couple of months -
lots of salads.

Last winter we dug up all the dahlia tubers that were planted in 'interesting' places in the yard, divided them and replanted them in clumps based on color.  Most came up and look beautiful!  I do love dahlias.
So do slugs.

I planted nasturtiums along a stone wall that doesn't get watered often - we'll see if they fill in a little more.  These are such happy flowers!

We planted these Cinderella pumpkins this month! A little late, I know, but remember it was Juneuary here in the northwest. Plus, I forgot I bought the seeds and found them in the back of the pencil drawer a couple weeks ago. They might make it! It could happen!  Though it looks like something's eating that one on top. Hmmmm...

Which brings me to the next few pictures...
I wouldn't be honest if I didn't show you these.

My beautiful pansies are sick. 
And I don't know what's wrong with them.
I'd planted bright blue and yellow pansies all around my hot pink geraniums and they are slowly shriveling, becoming covered with spots and dying.

Then there are my roses. 
All but one bush look pretty much like this.

"Blackspot. This fungus disease is most common in humid and rainy conditions. Once a plant is infected, the fungus will remain in the canes through the winter and reappear on the next season's growth. VERY common problem in
the Pacific Northwest."

I did spray them and fertilize with systemic fertilizer.

The plants look terrible.

But the roses are still beautiful!

Absolutely stunning handiwork! 

Are you like me and sometimes wonder how God could figure out a solution to a problem you have or a mess you're in?  
Take a look at that rose blossom and remember that the same God who thought that up and made it happen over and over and over again - but different every time - values you a million times more than He does a rose.  He's the One at work creating the outcome that is His very best for you. 

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for You!
Jer. 32:17

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bye Bye Birdies

I know I've kept you on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened to those birds??? 

Did they survive the monsoons and the fierce Oregon June storms? 

Were your girls able to get their money back for all the baby bird feeding equipment they bought? 


Well, things have been busy around here so I'm just now getting back to the final installment of this mini-series.  Thank you for hanging in there so long.  I know you're also watching 'America's Got Talent' so I appreciate your loyalty.

Our family has become pretty invested in this little family and we can relate on many levels to their story.

Here is what the babies looked like when the rain finally stopped and we could peek inside...

I think there were five all together.

Young birds sleep alot. 
So do college students home on summer vacation.

Awwww... widdle cute-ums.
Well, sorta.

Their nests are particularly gross. 
So can be the bedrooms of some college students home on summer vacation.

And then, one day, they leave the nest.

So do college students.
I sent one off to Canada this morning.
Sometimes, they leave behind a messy nest.

The dad watches over them as they go. 
He is pretty vigilant.
He has rearranged his whole schedule to be with those kids.
He's taken good care of them. 
Brought them what they need. 
Played Yahtzee and Phase 10. 
Gone on jogs and bike rides. 
Helped them pack. 
Prayed over them.

And the mom.  Look at her. 
Does she look kind of lost? 
She's always thinking about those kids. 

But I think these two are going to be okay.
They look pretty happy to me!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The best part of waking up...

One of my most favorite things in life is shuffling out to the kitchen in the morning to find a full pot of hot coffee waiting for me!  And it's not F*lgers either, because I'm snobby like that.  I like to finely grind my own French Roast.  Here lately I've been mixing half decaf and half regular beans in an attempt to wean myself off of so much caffeine.  I do buy my beans at Winco and usually spend less than $5/lb.

A miracle happened about 20 years into our marriage when my husband finally saw the light and began enjoying coffee with me!  It made me so happy.

Then, on my 50th birthday, Jeff bought me an espresso machine and we began a tradition of having a latte at lunch.  In the summer, iced lattes are our little treat.  I have mine with a touch of Splenda and Jeff loves the flavored syrups - pumpkin, vanilla or a splash of chocolate syrup. 

Because I'm married to a great photographer, I can ask him to take all kinds of pics for my blog and he always obliges.  Thus, my new blog header!  I love it! 

Sure wish I could sit with you today and you could have a cup with me!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bird Drama

Remember this?  I tried so hard to keep those little birds from building their nest in my hanging planter.  I knew they'd regret it but they were not to be talked out of it. 

And not only that but a robin built a nest on top of our outdoor patio light.  You would think by now I'd be expecting it but it startles me every time I startle those birds.  The robin's nest is not nearly as pretty as the finch's cute little round one (honestly, it's a mess) but Robin is not trying to keep up with the Finches.  She thinks she owns the place. Here she is waiting impatiently for me to get out of her backyard!

I hadn't seen the mama finch for several days and assumed that she'd abandoned her nest.  Lindsey wanted me to show her cousins the tiny eggs so I took down the hanging basket to show them and there were five fuzzy babies in the nest - dead.  We quickly rehung the basket and tried to distract the little girls.  It wasn't quite the nature lesson we wanted to teach them! 

Two days later, I asked Jeff to please take the nest out and dispose of it - I couldn't do it.  When he started to remove the nest, he noticed the birds were not dead at all and their little sides were heaving up and down.  We've watched the nest from a distance and finally seen Ma and Pa Finch flying back and forth to the nest again.   

So that brings us to the drama... today we had a huge and very loud hailstorm.  My girls were at the window, very concerned that the babies would either drown or get pummeled to death.  They begged me to let them bring the nest in the house.  Instead we made a makeshift hanging-flower-basket cover out of a cardboad box covered with a plastic garbage bag.  (If you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check for $19.99, I'll send you the directions.  Order right now and I'll include a second copy for free!) 

With this lovely roof addition, I do believe we scared the poor mama away and the girls were convinced she would never return. They turned on the heat lamp in the bathroom, drove to PetSmart and bought an eye dropper and some baby bird food.  

I gave up my vigil to get some work done and when they got back with their provisions, they went outside to feed their young 'uns.  But alas, as they approached the basket, the mama - who was doing what every mama does - was sitting on her nest, trying to protect her babies from these completely obnoxious giants who kept fussing with them.  The girls were disappointed they couldn't hand-feed the babies.  My college girls.   

Let me just say, I do appreciate their tender hearts toward animals.  It reminded me of all the times they begged us, with tears and wailing, to stop the car and pick up that dog along the side of the road who was starving and homeless and would die if we didn't take it with us.  

Or the spring when we discovered two large parrots sitting on a branch in the backyard.  The girls were probably 2, 4 and 6 years old.  After a chorus of begging "If we catch them, can we keep them?" we decided that we were pretty safe to say "Yes.  Absolutely.  If you catch them, you can keep them!"  They proceeded to made green construction paper hats (which they said would make them look like tree branches) and made a trail of sunflower seeds from the base of the tree across the patio and then went so far as to tape a row of seeds up each of their legs.  Then they stood as still as girls that age can stand, holding their little hands out toward the parrots, who I'm sure enjoyed the show.  But not as much as we did! 

So kids might grow up but some things don't change a whole lot! 

I'm kinda glad.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baked Chicken & Rice with Black Beans

Because my girls are home from college and I can no longer get away with dinners that are comprised of a turkey sandwich or a spinach salad from the garden or even worse, a bowl of oatmeal, I'm once again trying some new recipes and I thought I'd share some of the ones that actually turn out.  (I have a horrible record when trying new recipes - most are inedible.  I don't why.)

I found this one at
Southern Living and made a few changes.  If only I could take good pictures, you would get a visual idea of how delicious this really is.  Instead, you see what appears to be a lump of stuff.  I could use some lessons from those people who 'design' food layouts for commercials and print ads.

My photo.
Notice the healthful and beautiful addition of grapes on the plate.
We really did have grapes with this meal.


So give this one a try for yourself.  Then send me pictures.  Tell your husband not to question why you're taking pictures of his dinner, moving the plate to a better source of light or slapping his hand when he tries to eat it.

Here's the recipe - with my changes...

Baked Chicken & Rice with Black Beans
Printable recipe here!
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (10-oz.) package yellow rice mix  (I would use brown rice cooked in chicken bouillon because I don't care for those boxed kind)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (I used those wonderful small peppers - red, orange, yellow)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained  (I used 14.5 oz)
2 cups (8 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese  (I used Colby/Jack but any Mexican blend will work)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare rice according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, sauté onion, bell pepper, and carrot in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine hot cooked rice, onion mixture, chicken, beans, diced tomatoes and chiles, and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a large bowl. Spoon into a lightly greased 3-qt. or 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A House Full of Pink

It's been a rainy welcome to summer here in the NW.  To put it mildly

I've watched the back patio fill with rainwater most days.  Our yard is long and sloping so the water pools on the patio in a heavy downpour.  No real worries there. 

But my peonies are another story.  Those huge pink blossoms fill with water, turn brown and fall over, bending and breaking at the stems in what seems like such a cruel casualty of the weather.  Especially after I've carefully staked and fertilized them.  Especially because they are only in their glory for such a short time.  So...

I run out into the shower and quickly cut as many as I can.  I bring them in, shake out as much water as possible and fill every vase and bowl I can find.  My house is FULL of peonies!

What a gift!  I get to enjoy them up close and personal.  I have a fresh bunch in each of my girls' rooms for when they come home from college this week.  Whenever I look at those lacey petals, I'm reminded of God's incredible creativity, attention to detail and of how His creation testifies of who He is. 

Be sure to check out Emily's blog Chatting At The Sky where she is celebrating the small things on "Tuesdays Unwrapped."

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Creation Testifies!

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. 
Romans 1:20

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 
Luke 12:25-28


You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, You are still with me!
Psalm 139:13-18

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I tried to discourage them.

I knew they'd constantly get wet from my watering can.

But they did it anyway.

And now I get scolded every time I go out on the patio. 

These are house finches and, as in many species, the male is the fancy one.  They are 'gregarious and social' and they really don't like anyone near their perfect little round nest.  Their eggs hatch in about two weeks so the noise level in our backyard is about to increase!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Hello June!
Hello?  Are you there? 
I read this on this morning:


Notice the word 'unusually' used twice in one sentence.  Three times in one report.
What is "a [sic] unusually moist band of moisture?"
I'll show you.

I love the northwest - I really do!  I'll take rain over desert heat any day!

So... here's my thankful list for the unusually unusual moisture:

  1. The lakes are full

  2. The grass is very green

  3. We haven't hand-watered the garden once this year

  4. This is great read-a-book weather

  5. I can wear a sweater instead of a sleeveless top

  6. We have fairly new wiper blades

  7. I won't burn my hands on the steering wheel

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