Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two old Spruce trees

Today around 8:45AM on the way to taking my girls to school, I saw that someone on our route was having two big spruce trees taken down.  Not something I would ever consider myself. 
There were three men, a tree saw, a chain saw and a MASSIVE chipper shredder. 
 On my way home, I thought that I would just sit in the car and watch the process of turning two 40-something-year old tree into mulch.  These guys were so fast!  By 9 am one tree was gone except for the 20 ft trunk and a pile of logs stacked beside the house. 
 Being who I am, I so wanted to go outside and ask questions. Yes, of course I did!
How much does it cost to take down a tree?  $600 but stump removal not included.
Were the trees diseased? No, of course not.
How long does it take to do this? Depends on the size and age of the tree.

You would not believe the smell out there. The truck with all the fresh mulch was getting close to being full.

Now one of the men is suiting up lumberjack style, probably to climb the trunk and cut up sections with the chainsaw. The song "I'm a Lumberjack" is going on in my head. Good old Monty Python!
He's climbing up the other tree.

Sorry about the sideway photos, I'll try to fix that later. Anyone know how? ( I downloaded from my IPhone and rotated and cropped on the computer but when I downloaded here they are sideways again.  AArrggghhh!)

Amazing!  It’s only 9:27 and the second tree is done!  Two bare trunks where two beautiful old spruce trees once stood.  A few minutes with the chainsaw and the top is bare. That was all I could stand to watch.


45 minutes and two large old Spruce trees are MULCH.  Kinda sad isn"t it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The most amazing and delicious "No Knead Bread"

Print I first tasted this bread when we went out to supper at our friends house, and we couldn't stop eatting it. It is so delicious and EASY!! It is Fat free (until you slap a layer of butter on it) and calls for NO sugar.  I have made the loaves with white flour, and yesterday I experimented using one cup each of White, Whole Wheat and Rye Flours.  Beautiful chewy bread!!  The method calls for a cast iron dutch oven or something similar that has a lid and will take the heat of the HOT oven.  I don't have a special cast iron dutch oven  (YET) so I used two cast iron frying pans of the same size and it worked perfect!

It tastes as good as it looks!

I think that if you want this bread for supper, start it the night before you go to bed, it takes less than 5 minutes to mix up. Let it rest all night and the next day.  When you get home, put the bread dough on a floured tea towel (Not terrycloth) for 1-2 hours and bake it fresh for supper.  Fabulous with homemade soups, stews and Chili. Get out your slow cooker out and away you go.  Make sure you have REAL butter on hand.  ENJOY!

If you want to watch the video  -

Then there is the new and "improved?" method

No Knead Bread Recipe

Servings: One 1-pound loaf Prep Time: Cook Time:
No Knead Bread Recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman of NY Times who got it from Sullivan Street Bakery. When the recipe first came out, it was the blogging community who took the bread to new heights, especially Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible. I followed Rose's experiments through the weeks and learned from her recipe adjustments and the why's of how this bread works.


3 cups bread flour (I like Harvest King bread flour)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine table salt (or 3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt)
1 1/2 cups warm water
Covered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel...something that can go into a 450F oven.)


1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.
2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour. Set dough seam side down on top of towel. Fold towel over the dough. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you've got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.
3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Holding towel, turn over and dump wobbly dough into pot, using your hands to get the dough off the towel. Doesn't matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Best way to eat it? Smear a warm slice with some good butter (Kerrygold and Lurpac are both found in your grocery stores, usually on top shelf)

Music Garlic and other amazing discoveries

AAAhhhh...another new year!  Happy New Year everyone!  The wind is blowing again, it is snowing finally!!  I can't believe that I'm saying that, but it has been over 20 days since we had snow here in Calgary and the ground was so bare. I need to get some mulch down on some of my beds, but that will have to wait until I chop up my lovely and so perfect tree farm, bought from the Boy Scouts, Balsam Fir - Christmas tree.

Seeds of Diversity

is a Canadian volunteer organization that conserves the biodiversity and traditional knowledge of food crops and garden plants.

Take a Tour of
Seeds of Diversity's
Canadian Seed Library
Are you a gardener?    Save an endangered plant!
  • Learn to save seeds from the plants in your garden
  • Grow an endangered variety, and help us save it!
  • Multiply seeds for our national Seed Library
  • Discover the amazing diversity of Canada's traditional plants
Not a seed saver?    You can still get involved
Not a gardener?    Support our volunteers who protect your seed heritage
  • Anyone can join Seeds of Diversity, to provide a strong national voice for food biodiversity conservation and good seed policy
  • Your membership and donation support gardeners and farmers who are saving Canada's seeds

Seeds of Diversity is the source for information about heritage seeds, seed saving, plant diversity, garden history and your own garden heritage.
Join members, from coast to coast, who collect and share over 2400 varieties of heritage fruits and vegetables through our national Seed Exchange.
Discover the incredible diversity of heritage plants!
Subscribe to our magazine, Seeds of Diversity, and learn about Canadian gardeners who are making a difference, preserving food biodiversity, documenting Canada's horticultural heritage, and sharing the legacy of the "People's Seeds".

Music Garlic 

Just look at the size of these beauties.

These cloves of "Music" garlic are planted around my back yard. 
 In early part of January, it was so warm that parts of my back yard were thawed. So as a gardener going into withdraws what could I do? I needed to plant something. I raided my stash of my beautiful garlic bulbs. The local CoOps has the most beautiful Garlic, huge cloves, easy to peel and I bought extra to plant in my garden. Now I can only hope that the major freeze the next week didn't kill what I planted.
Can you imagine if my lovely garlic actually grew? I just love using garlic leaves in cooking, salads and they also get dehydrated for year round use. I do have a backup plan...there is always be a Plan B,  I am forcing some bulbs in the basement closet and they are coming up nicely. I am resisting sampling off these babies, but I can only hold off for so long...

Time to catch up

I had been working on this for some time, so I had better get it down so I can clear some space...

This is the time of year that I really dread.  Here in Calgary, the ground is bare and the snow is melting because of the chinook. Two weeks ago we were in frozen in the blast of winter, it was -36c with the windchill of -47c. Windchill means that with the wind, it feels like -47c. It was so cold that I had to put Maggie's boots on her, not something that she likes.  It was pretty funny watching her try to walk around the yard.

Yesterday the sun was shining and it was warm and lovely outside with the temp around 0c. I had a very impromptu project. I had plans to start chopping up our beautiful Christmas tree. I am such a guerrilla gardener that I wanted to use the tree as mulch in my garden, the thought of sending the tree for chipping and shredding for the city just wasn't for me. Of course, later this year I would go to the landfill and fill as many bags as my car can hold (which is considerably less than my Blazer) and enjoy the free mulch on the flower beds. For now, I am slowly using the tree up. I have some huge concrete planters on my front step.  I put a few branches in them (of course I had to use a big screwdriver to make holes in the frozen soil). Then I looked at the ugly planters by my back door. It gets pretty warm on the back deck, but this was just sad and Spring time was so far away.

Before - dead plants

I think that it just adds a bit of life to my deck and it gives a use to our Christmas tree. I do have to explain those fake roses...a few years ago, my daughters gave me those roses for Valentine's Day.  They were in the house gathering dust for a couple years, then I put them outside. I'm just a wee bit sedimental.

SO much better!


Three weeks later and the snow is just  barely there. Valentine's day has come and gone--tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and that means that there is only 40 days until Easter and Spring!!! I  can't wait to watch my new Tulip bulbs grow and bloom. It is so exciting! It is such a surprise to see what comes up, because I really don't remember what I planted.

Every Christmas, I try to give the teachers something other than Chocolates and "stuff". I found these Narcissis on sale at the garden centre and potted them up.  I put them in my cold storage in the basement and they were ready to give at Christmas.  Perhaps next year, I will pot them up at the end of October to give them more time.  I have one bulb left still in the cold storage, but it doesn't sem to be doing much.

Today I bought my first seeds of the year. I bought a package of Genoise Basil and six countem six packs of Mattiola (Evening scented stocks)!

to be continued...

In closing today, I just want to share with you the beautiful skyline of Calgary.  You can see the Canadian Rockies on the horizon.  The mountains are only about a 90 minute drive away and on clear days, they look so much closer and larger than this. My goal is to capture that image, but I don't think my little IPhone camera can do them justice.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing Jasper!

Jasper is my newest rehabilitated Garden Gnome. When I received this little Gnome, he was a cheaply mass produced creature with a broken head. Poor little guy! I tried to grow a little plant out of the hole but it just was too dry.

Poor little damaged Garden Gnome!

What a cheap, mass produced paint job, no personality at all!

I decided to fix him and give him a new lease on life in my garden. I took pictures of Jasper's journey and I will complete this later.

I mixed up some concrete and filled up his little body.  This will give him more strength to last out there in the garden.
Now he is solid and the hole in his head is patched.  I think his hat looks like a flowerpot now, doesn't it?
I found some terracotta paint for his flowerpot hat, and his jacket and pants have fresh paint.  I don't like his skin colour...way to yellow.
Much better, almost finished, Jasper looks very happy!
I gave him a spray of sealant followed by a light coat of stain to make him look older.
Jasper, my rehabilitated Garden Gnome

My first rehab Garden Gnome was Simon. When I found Simon, he was so sad. He was broken in two, painted in a very digesting red and white football uniform (how humiliating!) and he was tossed by the side of the road. After I repainted Simon and gave him his dignity back, he has has a respected home in my flower bed, soon to be joined by Jasper.

Dang, another sideways photo!!
Jasper in his new home in the dogwoods. April 26, 2012

One day I will find a Lady Gnome, hard to find them other than those disgusting female gnomes I found on eBay painted with football logos. Yuck.

I found female Gnomes!  They are much larger than the menfolk, but I found some!

Snow is on the ground

First snow of the year, October 24, 2011
My yard is done for the season, a very big sigh!

My Garzania's are a real winner on my deck!  They have taken the hot sun, the drying out of these planter boxes and were the very last flowers blooming in my yard.  Two days later, the frost finally killed them.  I give these plants a 10 for drought and heat tolerance!!

Last week, I cleaned up the raspberry patch and bagged up the fallen leaves to use in the springtime. Springtime. Only six months away. The first seeds I planted this year was the beets and the last thing I harvested was the beets. They were delicious, with butter, salt and pepper. I also spread some seeds around in the hope that they will start up by themselves. I have so much Calendula and some lovely little purple Asters that I know that they self seed wonderfully. I spread some tall snapdragon seeds in the wine barrel, and the tall marigold seeds from the seed heads I picked in Victoia two summers ago. In the bed that the beets were in, I threw down Parsley seeds that were sent to me as part of a HGG package from a Bookcrosser in the UK. there was a lovely Dill seed head in the garden, so that got sprinkled in too, with a few Asters. Could this work? My lazy gardening method, throw the seeds down and let Mother Earth do the rest.

Halloween is over and done with. The girls brought home so much candy that were have been enjoying. Not good to have all that junk in the house but we still eat it of course. We had two huge pumpkins that the girls wanted to carve themselves. I admit that that was very poor judgement on my part. While I was trying to cook supper, Celia cut her finger so bad that we has to go to Emergency for three hours. FOUR stitches!

The pumpkins, I cooked up and tried some new recipes. They were really good, and my family liked them so much that I will make them again!  Thanks to!

Pumpkin and Sausage Soup


  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, diced (I used Mild Italian sausage)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup praline liqueur
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/8 cup heavy cream


  1. Cook diced sausage in skillet with 2 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft. Add thyme and pumpkin OR sweet potatoes and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add liqueur, broth, and brown sugar. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin OR potatoes are tender.
  4. In blender puree soup in batches. Return to pan and stir in cream and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Warm but do not boil. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 311 | Total Fat: 19.5g | Cholesterol: 48mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Pumpkin Pudding

  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (29 ounce) can canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix ( I had a package of Carrot Cake mix and that worked well!)
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Blend together the sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, salt, clove and pie spice. Pour into baking dish.
  3. Spread dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon, margarine and chopped nuts.
  4. Bake for 60 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 229 | Total Fat: 8.6g | Cholesterol: 58mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bring on the rain!

The weather forecast is saying that we are going to get slot of rain in the next couple of days. I am so ready for this!

On Tuesday I was in the area of Golden acres garden centre so I thought I would wild release a gardening Bookcrossing book and look around a bit. Not only did I get a few packs of spring bulbs some Squibb bulbs, muscari and 5 special tulip bulbs at .99 each. AND I didn't forget the box of Bone meal. They also had perennials, shrubs and trees on sale for 75% off so I had to go back in for a second trip I bought a white shrub rose, a gooseberry bush and five little perennials for under $19.
Today after I dropped the girls at school, I started planting. I did some cleanup in the west side of the house and planted the 5 tulip bulbs in that bed. In the front of the house I planted my two Ostrich fern, and I'm looking forward to some Fiddle heads in the spring. Yummy! I planted the Gooseberry in the diamond shaped bed in the front yard and the rose in the bed under the Elm. So there I was, out in the rain, planting all my bulbs, I am sure that my neighbors were looking out their windows and shaking their heads, but wait until spring when my tulips are blooming and my new bushes are growing... My first regular rose bush!! I chose this variety of rose because it had the largest rose hips. Did I tell you that I only paid $7.50 for a rosebush.
So now I'm done in the front!

I dug up all my geraniums too. I rinsed off the whole plants in warm soapy water and left them in the rain to rinse off. I have a Styrofoam box. That I will plant up with all my geraniums and have them  overwinter in the basement. I just leave these babies to die, I spent god money on my collection and I like the challenge.
Now I need to go for a shower, get warmed up, get some super ready for everyone, it's a busynight tonight. But just listen to the rain falling against the window. How satisfying is that?