Wednesday, August 28, 2013

West Trip....Day 1 and 2

Well.....the long awaited, anticipated, cousins trip finally arrived and on August 8th at 7:00 am, forty three cousins and friends of cousins got on board the.....
Pioneer Trails Bus for the adventure of a lifetime. In the mad rush to get boarded and everything stashed away, (it takes a lot of stuff to live on the road for two weeks) I forgot to take a picture, but here is the bus at the hotel the first night.
We do a trip every year varying from two to four nights, but every five years we do a long trip. This is that year and I've been looking forward to seeing some places I haven't been to, especially the Canadian Rockies. I hear they are pretty awesome.
The first day is a long driving day and nothing really noteworthy to report or photograph. 
We stopped for the night at a Holiday Express in DeForest, Wisconsin.
Since Wisconsin is the cheese capital, we checked out the Cheese Chalet across the street but decided to buy our cheese on the way home. We will be coming through Wisconsin again and we will get the aged cheddar cheese we like so well then.
Two of our passengers, my cousin Sara Mae and her Mom, my aunt Elsie, relaxing outside after a long day on the bus. This is their first cousins trip. We are so glad you could go along.
Day two is much like the first....a lot of driving! To pass the time I took some pictures of barns which I happen to love.
There were some nice barns.....
 some shabby barns....

and even some Amish Barns. It looks just like Ohio.
Eventually we arrived at our first touristy stop, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. I call it the worlds largest bird feeder!
The first Corn Palace was built in 1892 and the present building in 1921.
What makes it unique is the exterior is covered with thousands of bushels of corn, grain, and native grasses and arranged into murals.  A theme is selected each year by a committee and then a local artist creates the designs. This exterior has to be redone every year.
The Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for the community. The facility hosts stage shows as well as sports events.
The walls in the arena are also covered in murals, which I assume don't have to be replaced every year like the exterior.

Our home for the night is the Comfort Inn in Mitchell, South Dakota.
'Russian Sage'
I love flowers so you will see lots of them in my blog posts.
Later that evening a few of us went to a near-by Cabelas.
 There were a few mammals I really wanted to see on this trip. One was a Moose and the other a Grizzly Bear.
Unfortunately this was it.
Coming soon....... the Badlands and Mount Rushmore.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hypertufa Planters

 After seeing hypertufa planters in magazines and on-line, I decided to make my own. Here are the ones we made so far. I say we because I enlist my husband to help with this task. He mixes and I mold. For information on what hypertufa is and how to make it go here.
My favorite way to display these planters is using them as fairy gardens.

This is the first one we made just by using a cardboard box and inserting a smaller one on the inside. my rush to see the final product I broke off the entire back but we managed to fix it well enough to use. Lesson learned......Be patient!

A bowl I made last year. I pressed a fern frond into the wet mixture for this look.

 You can buy some of the cutest things to put in fairy gardens. I'm afraid this is going to be addicting!

I did a tutorial doing this basket last year here. 
I planted hosta 'Stiletto', Creeping Jenny, Coleus, and Torenia in this one. 

Succulents are perfect in these planters too.

Here is a 'Praying Hands' hosta in a planter.  I got too much cement in this one and it is a lot heavier than the newer ones. You can tell it's not as porous looking as some of the others. I also used to put some sand in them but last year I tried it without. I prefer the ones with just equal amounts of cement, peat moss, and perlite. They are a lot lighter.

And when I run out of ideas or plants I fill them with Impatiens.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fresh Salsa

Tomatoes are ripening in the garden and fresh salsa is always a big hit with my family. I love this recipe because it is hearty and made with all fresh ingredients.
I recommend using a meatier type of tomato like Roma or Amish Paste, but if those aren't available you can let the tomatoes drain. Adjust the amounts of hot peppers to suit your personal taste.


Fresh Salsa

10 medium tomatoes diced
1 medium onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 large green pepper diced
1 or 2 jalapeno chopped....I use garden salsa peppers
1 green chile chopped
juice of 1/2 or 1 lemon
1 Tbsp salt or to taste
1 Tbsp pepper or to taste
 Combine all ingredients then grab a bag of chips and dive in.
Variations: Add some mangos, peaches, black beans or corn.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hostas.....the big ones.

'Christmas Tree'
The hostas in this post are the larger and older varieties that have been in my garden for years. I don't have names for all of them so if anyone knows what they are let me know. I'm trying to id them all.
 At this point 'Christmas Tree' is the largest hosta in my garden. This hosta  just looks good all season and doesn't require any care.

 I found a tree-frog, or in this case a 'hosta frog' nestled down in the hosta taking a nap.

'Abiqua Drinking Gourd'
The misty blue leaves on this one are very cupped upward and the leaves actually hold small pools of water after a rain - hence the name. The downside is, debris also collects there. Not so nice!

I'm not positive but I think this is 'Francee'.  It's not classified as a large hosta but it is one of the larger ones in my garden. One of those hostas you just about can't kill.

'Sum and Substance'
This one is classified as a giant. Mine is only a year old but it has doubled in size since planting. This one will be huge! Love the color of this one.

A mid-sized hosta that just keeps getting more stunning every year. I almost put this one on my top ten!
This is one I have had for years and it's been divided over and over. It's very common and a fast grower but I don't have an ID on it.
Another unknown one.
'Blue Angel'
Blue Angel is a popular hosta but not especially one of my favorites. It just hasn't performed as well as I expected.  For as long as I have had it, it should be a lot bigger.  I'll give it another year or two and if I don't change my mind about it, I'll move it to the slope behind the house.

 This is where all the unknowns and extras get planted. I want to get this whole bank covered with hostas and other ground covers and shade loving plants.

Mine has not reached maturity yet but it will be large when it does. Another one that the slugs just can't resist as you can see. This was the 2002 Hosta of the Year and is one of the fragrant hostas.

'Dream Queen'
Dream Queen is notorious for being a very slow grower. In fact mine is at least six years old and still only has one scape.

Hostas aren't known for their flowers, but Dream Queens are very pretty.
 And another blue one I need to id.  Someone on another site suggested it might be 'Halcyon'. I think it looks like 'Krossa Regal but it's not upright enough to be that one. The flowers on it were lavender.
If anyone can help id some of these I would really appreciate it.