Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Brake for Gnomes

I hit the brakes hard recently to pause at what I perceived as a lonely Garden Gnome standing watch in the yard. It led me to think that perhaps gnomes are forced into a life of servitude merely to serve as just ornamentation without pay and their stated consent. So that in turn led me to do a bit of research on the internet. Sure enough there is a organization to liberate garden gnomes called Free The Gnomes.com
This organization advocates an end to oppressive gardening and it works for gnome rights and their freedom. There are sites one can report if you have seen a gnome in captivity. In turn that information will be made available to The Gnome Liberation Front and local authorities.
Gnomes over the centuries are said to have magical powers to protect or even punish people. Historically speaking, gnomes are guardians of secret underground treasures especially gold and other gems. In addition, I found out that gnomes being underground dwellers, if caught in daylight the rays of the sun will turn it into stone. Hence it could very well become a lawn ornament.
What has been developing the past few years are gnome sanctuaries for gnomes recovering from their time in enforced servitude. These are places where gnomes can live out the remainder of their lives in nature and in peace. Since 1999 there has been a sanctuary in Barga, Italy.
On the other hand, there are some gnomes who are comfortable with their career as a garden resident. They anticipate making a personal contribution to whatever garden or home they find themselves in.
Continuing my research I found there is a site called Gnomes Without Homes. This provides a place to post information about missing gnomes that have been abducted from owners. There are Gnome Security programs out there also for owners who want to protect their gnomes from possible abduction. In addition, this site provides a place for people to post travel photos of gnomes they are escorting around the world to share with others.
I hope you have found this information helpful and enlightening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Revisiting the Arboretum

Have you ever revisited a place and had a totally different experience? Returning to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in mid summer over spring provided different scenic views and vistas since all the flowers, trees, bushes are in full bloom. If only my garden could look so good!
As you drive up to the Arboretum you are greeted with an amazing outdoor sculpture made of twisted branches and twigs. Strolling the grounds is peaceful and inviting and draws you in to sit awhile and savor the sights. Perhaps even read a book. I am posting photos for you to enjoy as well as a recipe that is easy and requires minimum cooking on hot muggy days.
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Easy Summer Tortellini Salad
Ingredients:
  • 1 package of three cheese mixed tortellini (I used Buitoni and it's in the cheese section of store or in deli)
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup green olives
  • 1/2 bunch chopped green onion
  • 2 Tb. chopped parsley (fresh)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 1 bottle prepared Light Champagne Girard's dressing (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
Directions:
  • Cook tortellini according to directions and plunge into cold water and then drain
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl
  • Lightly toss dressing into salad ingredients just to coat start with 1/4 cup first
  • Chill at least 30 minutes before serving

Adapted from Southern Living magazine recipe website

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Moontellers

I was fortunate to capture a wonderful picture of the moon coming up over the lake tonight. I wanted to share the moon's beauty with you. Have you ever heard about Moontellers? They are people who tell us about the moon. We can learn about the moon through folklore and exploration. Each culture has their own moon stories. Native Americans have different names for the moon following their monthly path. July is called The Buck Moon or Hay Moon. Fact: Bucks sprout their first antlers in July.
So as a moonteller I can tell you that the story of the moon is never finished. Even though astronauts once walked on the Sea of Tranquillity in 1969, astronomers and scientists continually search for more information about the moon.
Ask yourself some full moon night... what do you see in the moon and what do you wonder about the moon? Talk to your family and friends and share your experiences. You too can become a Moonteller!
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Full moons come,
full moons go
softening nights
with their silver glow
They pass in silence,
all untamed,
but as they travel,
they are named.

from the book When The Moon is Full by Penny Pollock

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sock Competition

Written by Rocky Socky
Flyers went out last week from the Sock Mart. The Sock Competition was scheduled for this past Wednesday at 2:00. Holokai and Will have been busy the past few weeks collecting mismatched socks. They even emptied the sock recycling bin in front of the store. I planned my day off for Wednesday so I could help them. Last weekend Will passed out flyers advertising the event while Holokai entertained the crowd on the sock tree. The fairies and elves are supplying prizes. I am donating a free 6 month bus pass for the Sockland Express.
On the scheduled day I was quite surprised at the gathering crowd when I drove up to the Sock Mart. It was only noon so this was a very good sign. It also meant more customers and hopefully more sales. As each customer entered the store a numbered ticket was given out by the manager. Each customer was instructed to sign their name on a ticket and place it in a large glass bowl. At 2:00 the manager planned to draw 10 names from the bowl. The lucky 10 names will be the contestants for the Sock Competition. The rule of the competition would be announced at that time.
As the time drew close to 2:00 you could really feel the waiting crowd's anticipation. Everyone went crazy when Holokai and his sock monkey friends bounced into the roped off area swinging two clothes baskets. Behind them came Will dragging two very large bulging bags of socks. One clothes basket was set at the end of the very long table. At the other end of the table the second clothes basket was placed. Next to each basket Will dumped out a bag of mismatched socks.
The manager stepped forward and welcomed the crowd. He went over the rules: Two contestants would compete at a time. Each one was to fill their clothes basket with matching pairs of socks found from the pile of mismatched socks next to the basket. The matching pairs had to be folded together. The winner would be the one who has the basket with the most matched pairs after 2 minutes. There would be 5 winners and prizes would be given at the end of the competition.

As the manager drew two tickets out of the glass bowl the crowd held their breath. The first two contestants names were announced. Holokai turned the handle on the monkey grinder machine to announce the start with a bit of music. The crowd clapped and whistled as the first two contestants started. A winner was announced after round one. There were four more rounds after that. Do you have any idea how many matched pairs of socks you could come up with in 2 minutes? I certainly was surprised how quick many contestants were.
First prize was a very large bag of fairy dust supplied by the fairies.
Second prize supplied by the elves were dragonfly gold coins
Third prize: Gift certificate to new store called
Fairyland
Fourth prize: Gift certificate to The Sock Mart
Fifth Prize: A 6 month free bus pass for Sockland Express
One of the biggest surprises of the afternoon was when the manager announced anyone who put a name on a ticket in the glass bowl was entitled to a 50% off coupon for socks.
Needless to say business was brisk on Wednesday plus everyone had such a good time!
All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Garden Tour

A warm sunny afternoon was just the right setting for a home and garden tour. I was intrigued by one of gardens where the owners had created a labyrinth out of many stones. Labyrinths are designed for meditation, prayer and healing. This one had a single path to the center and a Christian theme. Rocks at the entrance form a cross. In the center are three large rocks to represent Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. After an afternoon of viewing so many lush gardens, ponds and waterfalls I knew the time has come for me to give some serious consideration to a yard makeover! So while as I was taking time for wishful thinking I enjoyed some warm peach pie. I am sharing this recipe plus some garden photos.
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Peach Pie
Ingredients:
  • prepared pie crust (I have used Pappy's for this recipe- freezer section)
  • 8 large peaches pealed (for easier peeling blanch for a few seconds in boiling water and submerge in ice water )
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3TB. Tapioca
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 TB lemon juice
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt in a bowl
  • In another bowl place cut peaches, sprinkle 1 TB. lemon juice over the peaches
  • Mix peaches into the sugar tapioca mixture
  • Let peach mixture sit for 15 minutes (the mixture will be juicy)
  • Roll out bottom pie crust and with a slotted spoon drain the liquid as much as you can and place peach mixture into bottom crust
  • Dot with a small dab of butter
  • Place top crust on peach mixture
  • Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture
  • Make 6 slits around top crust to the center for vents
  • Crimp strip of foil around the pie pan
  • Bake 400 for 45 minutes
  • Let set several hours before serving to set




Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fairy Sightings

Imagine my surprise today as I watered my garden when a beautiful rainbow arched in front of me. This seemed like a lucky sign and sure enough it was. I caught a brief glimpse of a winged creature darting off into the brush. I felt fortunate to get a shot of this awesome sight. If you look on the right side of the photo you can see this winged creature. It looks a bit hazy but it is visible.
And even more amazing was when I turned to go inside I noticed this sheet of paper near the edge of the garden. It was a flyer advertising a Sock Competition on Wednesday sponsored by the Sock Mart. You don't suppose the sock fairy dropped it there on purpose?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ladies of the South

If you are a fan of southern fiction the following books could just be the right fit for your summer reading.
The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
The setting for the story is 1964 in rural Alabama and Mississippi. It covers seven generations of the Howland family who have lived in the same house and built a community around themselves. The title of the book is a metaphor for long established families of the deep south, their encounters with changing values, norms, hypocrisy and racism. The story is written on three levels: historical action, a love story and a focus on one woman's choices, her family and community relationships. The book won a Pulitzer prize.

The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
Helene Cooper's memoir brings the reader back to the years when she grew up in her family's home at Sugar Beach. This compelling story tells about the author growing up years in Liberia's upper class in the 1970's. Her family enjoyed the trappings of wealth and privileges. But in April 1980 her family's world was shattered when a ragtag group of soldiers executed the president of the country, his cabinet and overthrew the government. Some of the Cooper's family managed to flee to the United States and settle in North Carolina. The second part of the story focuses on Helene, her family's survival and pledge to bring their mother to America. The amazing part of this story is the determination of the author to overcame obstacles, get an education and find a job.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
The title alone just caught my attention!!!.
If you liked the writing style of Fannie Flagg Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistle Stop Cafe and Lorna Landvik's Patty Jane's House of Curl House then you will also enjoy this book which is written in a similar witty style. The setting is in Ringgold, Georgia in the 1970's. The heroine, Catherine Grace Cline is dying to escape the small town life for the big city life of Atlanta. Every Saturday she sits at the Dairy Queen eating dilly bars plotting her escape. When she finally achieves her dream to get to the big city, tragedy brings her home. A series of events alter her perspectives and opens up her eyes to what really is important in life. The author is quite skilled at capturing the characters and heart of small town life.

If you have any recommended titles I would be happy to post them

The abundance of Hydrangea bushes in southern yards prompted me to post a photo.



Friday, July 9, 2010

Cloud Musings On A Summer day

The lens of my camera was able to capture the beauty of the clouds on a beautiful summer day and into the evening. I have posted a few pictures as well as some reflective thoughts on clouds by some notable writers.

Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain, or usher a storm but to add color to my sunset sky.
Rabindranath Taqore-Indian poet essayist

Forest, lakes and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes-every form of animate or inanimate existence leaves its impress upon the soul of man.
Orison Swett Marden-American Writer 1850-1924

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Caramelized French Toast with Cinnamon and Berries
Ingredients:
  • 7 TB. butter at room temperature
  • 6 TB. brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 TB. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 8 slices 1 inch thick French Bread
  • powdered sugar
  • fresh blueberries and raspberries
Directions:
  • Mix butter and brown sugar in a small bowl to blend set aside
  • Whisk half and half, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon to blend
  • Melt 2 TB. brown sugar/butter mixture in a nonstick skillet
  • Dip each slice of bread into egg mixture to coat both sides and set on wax paper
  • Cook 2 slices of bread at a time in skillet turning after 3-4 minutes to brown each side
  • Repeat with another 2 TB. butter/brown sugar mixture melted in skillet with 2 more slices of bread
  • Brown bread on both sides
  • Serve with powdered sugar sprinkled on top with berries or syrup


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part Two: Mystery Solved

Thanks for your patience waiting for part two of my recent tale. I have resolved some technical difficulties and am ready to continue my storytelling. But first some important pieces of information. The last month my sleep has been interrupted in the middle of the night with intermittent faint tapping somewhere off in the woods. The last few nights the tapping noise has increased and seems to go on for many hours. And yes... I did check Google to find out that woodpeckers are not up that late! It is important that you know sounds carry great distances over the water especially when the waters are calm and the night is still.

As I went under the bridge to another lake where the mist was thick I kept paddling toward the tapping and whistling. As I approached the shore the skies started to clear. I tied up my canoe with a long rope to the base of a thick oak tree. An opening through the woods was just the invitation I needed to pursue looking for the tapping and whistling source. I only had gone a short distance back into the woods where I discovered many winged creatures happily at work. It looked like they were putting the finishing touches on Fairyland. It was truly a sight to behold this cozy looking cottage painted in bright colors. I did not want my presence known so I stayed behind the trees edging closer to get a better look. I managed to get close to a window and could see inside there were all sorts of fairy things. I am sure there must be another way to get to this cottage off the main road. What a relief to know that this tapping and whistling has been real and not just been my over active imagination. I have decided this week to take a drive on the road that goes over the bridge I went under in my canoe and do some more exploring. I want to know if this is a cottage shop for fairies or a cottage gift shop for vacationers.
I have posted a few pictures to give you a better idea of what I have described. No doubt there will soon be a part three to my story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Part One: The Chase

My canoe ride on the lake started out uneventfully. It was a beautiful sunny day with calm waters, perfect for an easy paddle and taking photos. As I approached a swampy area I couldn't believe my good fortune. A massive sea of flowering lily pads stretched out in front of me. I was so busy taking pictures that I almost missed seeing a small winged creature jumping from one lily pad to another. My curious nature got the best of me and I picked up paddling speed. I wondered if the creature I was following could be a water lily fairy that I had once seen pictures of in a book. I lost sight of the winged creature as it flew under the bridge. To make it safely under I had to duck my head. I had not expected such an ethereal looking scene on the other side. Since the winged creature I had been following was small, airy with a nearly transparent body I lost track of it. Confusion set in as the misty thick air enveloped my canoe. Faint tapping and whistling caught my attention. I paddled in the direction of the sounds. My heart seemed to beat quickly with anticipation and I must admit a little bit of fear. The unexpected really took me by surprise.
I posted pictures of the first part of my adventure. Part two of my adventure will be posted the following day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Change in Ingredients

Please note on original recipe for the Cherry Barbecue Sauce ( on yesterday's blog) I have made a few changes to improve it. I omitted the cloves, added dried cherries and 3 tsp cornstarch makes the sauce thicker.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food for Thought

I recently came across some interesting quotes fitting for this holiday weekend.

Erma Bombeck:
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten , but it's patriotism.
Author Unknown:
It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.
William Clinton:
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.
Franklin D. Roosevelt:
In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed, it must be achieved.
Swedish Proverb:
Fear less, hope more, eat less, breathe more, talk less, say more, love more, and all good things will be yours.

Enjoy your weekend with family and friends
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Cherry Barbecue Sauce
this fruity, not so sweet barbecue sauce is terrific on any grilled poultry, pork or even salmon. It can be made a day ahead
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup canned chicken broth(low salt)
  • 1/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup red wine like a Merlot or Cabernet
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 TB. ketchup
Directions:
  • Combine chicken broth, cherry preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon peel,cinnamon, dried cherries in medium saucepan. Boil over heat till mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups for about 6 minutes
  • Mix cornstarch and wine, add orange marmalade and ketchup
  • Whisk to blend
  • Add to reduced broth mixture whisking constantly about 5 minutes till thickened
  • optional: season sauce with salt, pepper, cayenne
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Three-Bean Casserole
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. pork sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 2 cups of chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cans of baked beans
  • 1 can lima beans drained
  • 1 can kidney beans drained
  • 1 cup of ketchup
  • 1 can of chunky tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • several slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients except bacon and place in a slow cooker for a few hours or in oven @ 300 for an hour and half-stir occasionally
  • Place crumbled bacon on top

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