Sunday, September 20, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow...........

As with everyone, the gardens are always a "work in progress".....mine have changed as I've moved, inheriting someone elses vision, while bringing along some of my previous vision.

When I first moved to this house, I was overwhelmed with how many, and how huge, the flower beds are. When I was a little younger I wouldn't have minded that, but these days I'm just not as keen about spending my weekends with my hands in the dirt, although I still love my flowers!

Sooooo....I did what I thought I'd never do and ripped out every rose bush (yes, I did give them to someone who would love them and care for them) and began my quest to make the yard a little more "user friendly". I put forsythia where the roses were, with peonies planted in between.....peonies are my new answer to roses and I just love them! There's no beetle fungus....and the flowers are absolutely to die for! Here are some of mine:

If they lasted longer, I'd have nothing but peonies! But since I love having flowers in the house throughout the seasons, I have other favorites....such as.....lillies! I adore lillies! Now they don't look so great IN the beds, but as soon as they bloom they're gone anyway....into the house....into a vase.....and throughout the house. It's one time that I don't need to burn scented candles! Here are some of my faves:

As much as I love the flowers, I also realized that I needed to bring in shrubbery that would be easy to take care of.....such as the Chinese Fringe Flower (the purple-ish shrub) and the "False Cypress" (I guess named because it's yellow-ish and not green). I also enjoy my planters of angel-winged begonias with a lime green hanging vine (uhhhh....I have NO idea what it's called, but it dies back in the winter and thrives in the summer!).

Come along and let's take a walk around the house......first up, my prized HUGE hosta called Sum and Substance. Mine is only 3 years old, so it's not as big as it will get as it "grows up".

Here's my Swamp Lily.....they seem to pop up everywhere, grow for a couple of years, then they're gone...only to find them somewhere else! I love them....just cut them back in the fall and that's about it!

Canna lillies are easy to take care of too....I love this one's leaves....Next up....the clematis that grows absolutely everywhere! It sprouts up in the strangest places! It also grows up over the deck and covers the rails and when it blooms it smells awesome. Below that are more of my hostas, some ferns and a calla lily (yep, I do love lillies!)

We used to grow a huge vegetable garden, but it just got to be too much, so now we grow tomatoes on our deck!It's all about plants that are easy to take care of, provide drama to the huge beds in this yard and plants the keep the vases throughout the house full and smelling good! I hope you enjoyed visiting my gardens.......more to come!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekend Without Labor....

We'd been working 60 - 70 hour weeks just before Labor Day and really needed a break! We couldn't decide what to do when Melinda called and made our day! She had decided to spend Labor Day weekend at the cabin and WE were invited! You just don't know how my heart jumps at every's such a relaxing and fun place to be.

So we headed up late Friday afternoon.....Melinda, Dennis, Me, Shugs and was a smooth trip with lots of chatting, as always. When we got there, Melinda turned on the power and we discovered that we had no internet! Either lightning had struck the line or the power surge from when she turned on the power (and everything in the cabin was on...almost) blew out the box!

Well....moving on. We broke out the wine and relaxed on the porch, just breathing in the mountain air and feeling each part of our bodies and minds start to relax.

The next morning we made a quick breakfast and packed the car with a cooler, the dog beds and some snacks and headed out for a drive.....first stop (GUESS!), Chateau Morrissette! The previously bought cases of wine were loooong gone and it was time to buy more, taking advantage of our new Kennel Club memberships! Of course, we got a chilled bottle to go and headed out!

We went to Stuart, a small town not far from the cabin, to pick up some items Melinda had previously bought on her way home and had them store until the next time she was up.....great place! Then we grabbed a killer BBQ sandwich at this gas station (once we saw the cooker sitting on the side of the road smoking!), along with these awesome onion rings!

When we got back to the cabin, Melinda's daughter, Anna, was there! She is at college at Radford, which is about an hour away and came up for a short, but sweet good to see her! She is soooo sweet! Since she wasn't able to stay for dinner, and we had eaten the BBQ at around 4, we decided to eat light.....bruschetta and French onion soup!

While Dennis watched a movie, Shugs slept on the porch, and Chloe kept vigil at Melinda's feet (hoping for droppings), Melinda and I started in preparing dinner. She chopped the tomatoes, onion, basil and garlic for the bruschetta, while I chopped the onions and starting them carmelizing.....then we added red wine (Chambourcin from Chateau Morrissette, of course!)....reduced to nothing....then added the beef stock....then added the toasts.....then added the Gruyere cheese....then toasted.....then served! Melinda had a bottle of Merlot from a winery owned by a friend of Brad's that was phenomenal.....Naked Mountain. It was "wow"! And Melinda's bruschetta was to die for!

As usual, there was some great snoozing under that tin roof that night.....the next morning, we were all up and ready to roll for our last full day at the cabin! What up on the agenda? There was a great event at Chateau Morrissette that day.....great music, great food and great wine! I really wish I'd taken the camera.....we had a rack of ribs, some delicious sliders and a fabulous cheese tray....all reasonably priced. We relaxed on the covered terrace and enjoyed the event while the rain started to roll in.... it was so cool to watch the clouds come up over the mountains.

After that, we decided to take a drive down this road that Melinda had told us about..."a teeth clencher" she said. And it was great fun....for us.....but I don't think the dogs enjoyed it very much. We stopped at this one house to see this horse that had been built out of random pieces of wood.....awesome, huh? We also saw this plant n the side of the road....anyone know what it is??

After our hair raising ride, we headed back to the cabin to prepare our dinner.....roasted garlic roasted potatoes, grilled romaine with Caesar dressing and steaks! We roasted a garlic head, pulled all of the golden cloves out, smashed them in olive oil and them tossed it with the cut potatoes (I used russets), then baked at 400 degrees until golden brown. They was delicious! You've seen in a previous post how I make the grilled romaine and the Caesar dressing recipe, so I won't bore you with that!

Brad and Melinda had been up a few weeks before and had brought up this fabulous new grill......Dennis was so excited to take it out for a ride! The steaks turned out great! While dinner was cooking, Melinda decided we needed a fire......."oh dear, Adam isn't here to make our fire" she decided to do it herself. It didn't take long......long as in a day or two! But she didn't give up and the next thing we knew, we had fire! Uhhhh.....and not long after that, we had rain.....relaxing raindrops on a tin roof.

We ate our dinner, watched movies and snuggled in for a cool night's rest. The next day, we'd be leaving, but I pushed that thought as far away as I could...."can't we leave tomorrow?". I have to say that we do this everytime......everytime.....and sometimes we do!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

They did it....

.....they took advantage of the Federal Housing tax credit and bought their first home! Congratulations, Austin and Courtney!!! You're homeowners!

I really have no idea when they got old enough to even buy a home! Don't you have to be 18? Wow, time flies! Wasn't it just yesterday they were in high school. No wait, I remember them in their caps and gowns......and I remember their going to college.....and, although I wasn't there, I've seen their wedding pictures. Well, that does it! They grew up and I WAS's real, but sometimes doesn't seem so.

Dennis and I were fortunate enough to be a part of this big step in their lives and it truly was a joy. Aside from having to patiently (?) wait for a very important document (which I the forgot to bring to the closing....the picture below is Dennis looking for it....Courtney could only chuckle!) to arrive from a ship off the coast of South Africa, it went very smoothly. They asked all of the right questions.....I knew they would be well informed homeowners and that they knew what they were doing. I was so proud of them.....they are so grown up!

So.....because Austin was out to sea, he was not at the closing.....well, kinda sorta....but not really! He emailed us after midnight to let us know he was "alive and well" and that Courtney had the "go" to proceed with closing, but somehow I wanted to include him in the "event". It's now a tradition that when and OSLer can't be present, we take a picture and bring it with us! Courtney also brought her camcorder and we made him a little video.....she read carefully over the documents........she signed.....sighed.....and grinned!

All that was left was "the move"!
Thanks again, Courtney and Austin.....for being so great to work with, but more for allowing us to be a part of such an important time in your life!

Note: OK, now listen up, OSLers.......I can lend in ALL 50 states! If you decide that you want to take advantage of the tax credit, give me a call! If nothing else, I'll make sure you're getting a good deal wherever you decide to get your financing!