Saturday, September 24, 2016

Maple Glazed Walnuts

After picking up some delicious maple candied pecans at the farmer's market I had an urge to try making maple glazed walnuts since we always have walnuts in the house.

Nuts aren't the prettiest thing we eat so they don't exactly make for a nice photo.
This could not have been any easier to whip up!

Simple preheat a skillet over medium-high. 

Then add 2 cups of walnuts halves.
1/3 cup of quality maple syrup.
Also 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Then cook stirring frequently until the syrup is caramelized and the nuts are toasted. This only takes about 3 minutes!
The instructions I followed say to let cool. However eating them hot right out of the pan is amazing. I am thinking a great treat to satisfy a sweet craving on a cold winter's night. So I will be making this again!

A healthy snack but one needs to be careful considering how high in calories these nuts are.

Let me know if you give these a try!

Thank you for stopping by.  ~Val

Saturday, September 17, 2016

House Update

Now too much has been going on besides yard work. Great exercise!

Our new doorbell!
This is what was there. It worked but with its cover missing made for a hideous fixture! For some reason I couldn't get a clear photo.
If you are ever shopped for a doorbell you know there there is not much to choose from in terms of attractiveness. Our new one is metal and glass. Many other choices were plastic and cheap, but also pricey!

We had our basement windows replaced! This has been awesome since they were chaulked shut before. Now we leave the windows open and for a fresh smelling basement. A huge improvement from when we moved in. It doesn't even smell like a basement anymore.

We finished our entryway.
Then antique table was thrifted at $15 (I still can't get over the find)! The vase was Jim's. The sticks were painted from vines cut in our yard. The other chachki was something I had. The mirror was thrifted for $5. Another great find since it was perfect as is. So this was a $25 total with the cost of the paint for the vines.

We have been busy with the yard too getting it ready for spring. So when the anticipated (not wanted) snow melts we can order a huge mulch delivery to make it beautiful!

Our most recent project in our neglected yard is this messy corner.
This photo was take after I started to chop away at the ancient super thorny blackberry bush in our yard. The dirt spot was there the branches ended. From pictures you can't see how big it was, but trust me, it was massive and half the branches were old dead ones!

We were going to wait for the berries but decided we would rather make a pretty space here instead. 

Now we have an lovely view of the abutting neighbors' sheds. City living is a unique experience for me!
We are working on the vines growing along the fence which were hanging about 4 - 5 feet from the fence over our yard.

Our plan in the spring is to buy a bunch of arborvites or the like to plant long the ugly chain link fence that surrounds our yard. This will provide privacy and attractiveness.

The corner has a challenge to work around. Whatever belonged to this spread out old stump must have been a mess before it came down!

I would love to have a vinyl privacy fence installed along the borders but that would be way too expensive!

So with all the clean up we are having fun with our best purchase for the home thus far, the little fire pit! Now we need to get through all the piles of brush we created.
Jim's neatly stacked wood pile. We made use of some of the old stone we dug up recently from the yard. It is perfect for stacking the wood on!
I hope you enjoyed our continued updates. 

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val


Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Wooded Garden

This is a work in progress so it does not have a put together look yet.
This is the back corner of the garden that is wooded and grass does not care to grow. When I started cleaning it, inspiration showed up. 

First I bought 2 small holly which I love in winter. They only need 6 hours of sun a day and I think they get just about that. I had back luck trying to keep holly alive in the past so I am trying again. They need to be watered when it is not winter. Diligence is my problem!
Then Jim and I came across this Sedum Rupestre (Angelina) below. Neither of us were familiar with this plant but thought it has great vibrant color and softness! What sounded interesting is that they turn orange in winter. We shall see! People use these as ground cover, as filler and in rock gardens. We have sort of planted them on their own.
Lastly here we have 10 hostas that were growing along our front walkway. We were not fond of them there. The sun fried them and whoever planted them did not properly remove the sod first so there was grass growing through them like crazy!

Jim did an awesome job spacing them out. I like when a garden is not cookie cutter with patterns and such. I do the light duty work, he does the heavy duty work.
I read hostas can be moved during full leaf time by just cutting them back. I know I did a totally messy job but will manicure them some more before winter. They probably won't grow again until next year but we think they will be much happier in their new location. In the fall I am going to cover them with mulch so any grass left in them hopefully will not grow back next year.

In the spring we will get a huge mulch delivery which will really make this section attractive. Flower bulbs will go in this fall too so summer should be pretty and this area should fill in lushly!

While working in the area, Jim unearthed an old patio like situation that was half buried under dirt and moss. Judging by its shape it probably had a dog house on it.

A couple of the pieces have a cool mosaic look so we will repurpose them when we decide how to  use them best.
It kind of looks like we just buried a body in the yard since it is a rectangular shape.
Next we will be planting a magnolia tree in front of our living room window. We had been talking about what we wanted there but had not come to a decision. 

Then talking to our landscaper neighbor, she asked us if we wanted her young magnolia tree! She planted it a couple of years ago and it is still small but has decided over time it will not work in the spot it is in. So we are gladly going to take it off her hands and all of the neighbors will get to enjoy it when it flowers.

I hope you have enjoyed this peak at our newest garden area. I hope to be able to show a beautiful update next summer when it all comes together! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Our Rose Garden

My parents recently gave use 4 rose bushes.
We did not have a spot ready for them so we dug up that rectangular patch of dirt to the left of the end of driveway.
There they were happily planted! They currently have about twice as many roses as shown in this photo.

Little rose buds always make me think of the Grinch. Maybe it is because the green of them reminds me of his hands.
The placement and shape of the garden may seem odd but the old wooden fence you see behind the huge shrubs there is going to be replaced. 

The plan is to bring the fence out further to the end of the driveway which will open up the backyard even more. So behind the rose garden and along the end of the driveway will be a white fence that will showcase the flowers!
These darling mums were planted off to the side as an experiment in planting them so they come back each year. So time will tell if this works for us or not. With proper care I am hopeful!
We also scored 2 hibiscus plants on clearance after flowering. 1 is planted in the back left corner of this garden and will have huge red flowers next year! I always adore the boldness of a hibiscus flower. 
I love how roses bloom from spring into the fall!
I hope you have enjoyed our new garden! I am feeling inspired which is not good. It gets expensive creating gardens and wanting to buy every plant and flower that is for sale.

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! ~Val

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prescott Park

Jim and I spent a couple of nights recently in our favorite New England town of Portsmouth, NH.
Prescott Park is this beautifully kept array of plant and flowers. I have posted photos on my blog of this park before so it may look familiar to some of you.
We always visit it when there.
There are 3 fountains within for the added tranquility of falling water.
We also strolled down here with our morning coffee and witnessed out they keep the gardens so lush!
Our summer has been completely rough with heat and dryness!
With all that water and sunshine there was sure to be manmade rainbows!

I hope you have enjoyed this sweet garden tour. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! ~Val

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our Yard

We have more pretty plantings than initially thought.
There are 2 huge pretty rhododendrons. 
1 small patch of purple irises.
A huge blackberry bush. This sweet white flower becomes a berry later in the summer. However we are now just seeing little green berries and aren't sure if they will turn or not.
Above is salvia which we have 2 of.
There are 2 of these shrubs above. I think they may be another form of salvia. If anyone knows what this sweet shrub of pastel purple flowers is, please let me know!
There are lots of ferns about that I would love to dig up in the Fall and group together to enjoy.

Hostas line our front walkway. Not one of my favorite plants however I LOVE variegated leaves on anything! We intend on moving these in the Fall to our backyard. Then next year put in a new walkway.
We would like to plant some bulbs this Fall so we will have more pretties to enjoy next year!

My parents just gave us four Knock Out Rose bushes.  2 dark pink, 2 light pink.

We have been working on a new garden area from scratch to accommodate them. I have been completely lax about our yard but receiving new shrubs is giving me the kick in the butt I needed to start working on it!

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the yard. Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougere

This was my first time making a Gougere and it won't be my last. This is not the prettiest looking dish but boy is it delicious!
cauliflower and mushroom gougere
For the gougere the ingredients are:
8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick)
1.25 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
4 ounces gruyere or cheddar cheese, finely diced (I actually used gouda which I had on hand)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and black pepper 

For the filling:
1 small head of cauliflower
7 ounce can of tomatoes
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped (I used leeks instead which I had handy)
4 ounces of mushrooms, halved if large
1 teaspoon thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter a large ovenproof dish. Place 1.25 cups of water in a large saucepan with the 8 tablespoons of butter on high until melted. Remove from heat and add the flour. Beat until smooth. 

2. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. continue beating until thick and glossy. Stir in the cheese and mustard along with salt and pepper to your liking. Lastly spread this mixture in the dish including the sides. This was a messy job and I don't know how professionals make it smooth!

pastry dough
3. Next work on the filling. Cut the cauliflower into florets. 

4. Puree the tomatoes in a blender if large. I actually used a can of finely diced and left as is.

5. Heat oil and butter in a large non stick skillet. Saute onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cauliflower and stir fry for 1 minute. Add tomato and thyme. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

6. Spoon into the center  of the dish. Bake for 40 minutes until the pastry has risen.

Before Baking
Then enjoy! The dough is delicious due to all the fattening butter and cheese. Yum!

Mine did not look quite like the photo in my cookbook:
The pastry of this reminds us of Pizzeria Uno's deep dish pizza crust so their secret must be lots of butter. Next time I will be changing up the filling to something very Italian which I think will be amazing!

I hope this inspired you to try something new in the kitchen!

Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, August 6, 2016

World War 1 Memorial

This park is about a 5 minute walk from our house. 

This World War I memorial was built in 1956 to honor those from our city who were lost in this war.
Each of their names is beautifully displayed.

The center is inscribed with:
In the days of triumph and peace it is wise to remember the cost of victory. Let us resolve that the sacrifices made by these men shall not be in vain. Let us, the living, pledge ourselves to preserve and protect for their children and ours the freedom and liberties for which they gave their lives.

This is The Hiker created by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson to commemorate the American soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War. 

Over 50 copies of this sculpture can be seen across the United States.

The park has wonderfully kept grounds that change through the season. These photos were taken at the beginning of the summer.
 Decorated with lots of flags.
Of course it also boasts pretty flowers. I love these below with purple fuzzies.
Well I hoped you enjoyed this bit of green space in our city.

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! ~Val