Thursday, May 29, 2008

Girl meets grill

For some reason I am highly amused by oddball metal creations, so I was very happy today when I came across some funky grills at the local hardware store.

Orange longhorn cow grill

You can sort of see a pink pig grill in the background

I had a few moments of believing that my food would taste so much better if only I had a grill like this. I held that thought until I lifted the lid and saw the $1599.99 price tag. Ah well, I guess I'll have to find some other way to make my food tasty. Perhaps marinades...

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The Pioneer Woman Cooks is my fav-o-rite food blog and I drool over it regularly. Now that the blackberries are starting to produce (and because I thought last year's cobblers were pretty sucky), I turned to PWC for help. As usual, she did not fail me. She actually has 2 blackberry cobbler recipes, so obviously I'll have to try both of them. I mean, really, one of them might be better than the other. I have to know. It would be unscientific to do otherwise.

Here is blackberry cobbler #1 :

Alas, I don't think this recipe is The One. It's more cakey than cobblery, in my opinion. That's not to say it wasn't good, just not what I'm looking for. So the search continues...

Cooking notes for this one: Like Spork, the berries were a little tart, so I might add a little sugar to them next time. Also, I should have used a deeper baking dish because the batter oozed over the side and I was forced to take the cake out halfway through the cooking and eat the golden brown and delicious crunchy bits so they wouldn't burn onto the pan (the whipped cream wasn't ready, either, so it was a real sacrifice). I also learned that this is technically a clafouti (or flognarde, since it used blackberries) and not really a cobbler.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I knew it

Oh sure, the cats will deny it, but do pie charts lie?

more cat pictures

Monday, May 19, 2008

Well, that idea didn't work

Apparently making a public list of snakes does not deter them after all. I ran into this guy right after the dog walk this morning.

The best ID we could come up with is some sort of ribbon snake. It looks like the terms "ribbon snake" and "garter snake" are used interchangeably in different regions. The Herps of Texas website lists the one in our area as Thamnophis proximus proximus, but doesn't give it a common name or have a picture.

And since you're asking, why yes, that is my asparagus bed he is slithering into. And yes, he did end up disappearing permanently in the strawberries. Isn't that just perfect? Now I know there are 2 snakes hiding out in there, just waiting to get me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something new and some things old

Last year we only saw one teeny-tiny nonpoisonous snake here at the stuga. I thought that was just about the right number of snakes to see. Zero, of course, being the perfect number. Unfortunately, my feelings of security were false, because this year we've already seen four. I've decided to add a list of all the snakes we encounter here in stuga land (in the sidebar to the right). I'm hoping that by going to the effort of making a list, I won't see any more this year.

I guess I'm a copycat once again, because this time I copied Spork and moved some of my old googlepages stuff over to Blogger. In my defense, he copied me (after I copied Lorie) by moving to Blogger. So I'm a copycat of a copycat of me. This is beginning to feel like an infinite loop.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The garden keeps growing

Growing in size, anyway. I happened to catch a new shipment of roses being unloaded last week at one of the big box stores, and pretty little Europeana caught my eye, then found its way my cart. I'm amazed at how far a potted plant can jump in an effort to go home with me.


I also took a trip to a local rose grower this week with my sister, Terri, and my mom. I did great sticking to my plan of only buying a Charles Darwin and a Duchesse de Brabant, until I got to the checkout and noticed the clearance section. Stupid clearance sales, they get me every time! I picked what I am hoping is an Ebb Tide. It had no tag, except for the $5 price marker, so it's a little like buying a lottery ticket. Maybe a slightly higher chance of winning, though.

The climbing Don Juan I planted last month is putting out some whopper blooms already. Isn't he pretty? I like to imagine him speaking to me with Antonio Banderas's voice. "Hello, my darling. You look so lovely today. Come a leetle closer and give me a kees."

Don Juan

The edible garden plants are doing great, too. Spork dug up the first potatoes of the year Monday (because I had already had enough fun with nature that day). We ate 'em boiled with lots and lots of butter.

Other goodies from the garden this week include dill, broccoli, onions, snow peas, strawberries and blackberries. The blackberries are just trickling in, but I sense a cobbler in my future.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother Nature is trying to kill me

So yesterday we get ready to take the dogs for their morning walk and I point out a spiderweb by the door to Spork. He says, "Yeah, I poked at that with my foot yesterday." I look a little closer and notice that it is a black widow. Spork digs it out and smashes it repeatedly with his shoe until it's just a greasy spot on the floor.

Later that day...

I probably haven't mentioned this before, but I keep an old plastic cup from Andy's Frozen Custard* in my bathroom to water my plants. I decided to water the plants, since it was Monday and all, and found this inside:

Since there's nothing to provide scale here, he's about 2 inches from leg tip to leg tip.

I jumped. The spider jumped. That made me jump and almost drop the cup. I, of course, took it to Spork to see him jump, but he just said, "Spiders are cool." Harumph, I guess he didn't recall the morning spider puree incident.

About 6:00 PM...

I'm outside doing the garden thing, preparing the soil to plant some okra. I take my garden fork (a threek, technically) and pull the mulch back towards my flip-flop clad feet and this pops out at me:

My reaction was a swearing fit audible only to dogs. Then I realized that it was "hiding" from me. Snakey apparently thought that if it couldn't see me, I couldn't see it because once the tiny little leaf covering its head was removed, it took off like lightning. Unfortunately, it took off into the garden, so I know its still in there... Somewhere...

So what's up with Mother Nature? Is she pissed off at me because I didn't send her a Mother's Day card? How can I make amends?

*If you haven't been to Andy's, it's freakin' fantastic!

Monday, May 12, 2008

By popular request, I present Lizard McGuire

Lizard McGuire is a fence post lizard that lives in the rock pile by my irises. She (for some reason, I get a "she" vibe off of her) moved in last spring when she was about 1" long. As long as she's sitting on top of this rock - her sun rock - she's pretty brave, but if you come across her on the ground, she is so outta there.

My sister, Mary, is trying to hook Lizard McGuire up with her lizard, Nubby. Nubby lost his tail in a tragic accident. There may be legal action in the near future.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Homeland Security

I can't begin to express how safe I feel knowing that I have two ferocious guard dogs to keep us safe here at the Stuga. They are absolute beasts, their senses honed to perfection. Nothing could possibly slip past them and commit harm to us or our property.

Let's peek out the window and see how they are sharpening their skills today...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yankee Invasion

Last weekend we had some relatives from the North Country visiting. The two aunties, Jean and Dolly, plus Jean's husband, Uncle Carl (Uncley just doesn't work!) came and stayed for a few days. Overall it was a fairly low-key visit, but there was a lot of fun visiting and catching up.

Here is a picture of Jean and Jeff. Jeff is supposed to be about 5 years old, by the way. How did he get so big?

In gardening news, my transplanted passionflower is starting to bloom. I love these silly flowers. I originally planted them purely as a larval host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly, but the blooms are just fascinating. This particular one is Passiflora caerulea.

I'm also getting quite a few blooms on my baby Flutterbye rose. I'm not sure why it's not more popular. It grows quickly into a large shrub with glossy foliage and pretty color-changing blooms all summer long. What's not to like?