Monday, May 31, 2010

Gazanias Starting To Bloom

I have my favourites in the garden, and Gazanias are one of them. I’ve been eager to see the amazing flowers that a Gazania makes and it looks like it’s starting to happen.

Here’s a pretty bloom opening up:


Isn’t it lovely? Can’t wait to see some more.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Single Photograph

I really like how expressive my older daughter’s eyes are in this photo, which is one of my favourites.


This picture was taken at a restaurant many years ago. She was only 10 at the time; she’ll be an adult next month. How quickly they grow...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ferrety Toys

Hiya folks! Can you believe it’s already Friday? Again? Isn’t it amazing how quickly time goes by, especially as you get older?

Well, since we’re all here together again, let’s talk ferrets.

Today’s topic is going to center around toys; ferrety type toys. Anyone who has ever owned a ferret knows that these curious little critters love to play. And not only do they love to play, they need to play. Because a bored ferret is an unhappy ferret. So, providing your fuzzy with a variety of stimulating toys is important; it’ll keep him entertained and happy. In addition, a ferret’s playfulness, bordering on clownishness, is one of its most endearing qualities because it can be extremely entertaining to watch them play.


But before you run out and stock up on toys, please remember that, although they will play with almost anything, not all toys are appropriate for ferrets. Toys for these little critters must be durable or else they will pose a safety hazard. One of the most serious threats to your pet is the swallowing of pieces of toys, which can cause intestinal blockage; something that can prove fatal. Do not allow your ferret to play with anything that he can chew to small pieces. Make sure they’re ferret-proof and that you inspect the toys regularly for wear and tear. Anything falling apart should be thrown out immediately.

Okay, let’s talk about toys. What do ferrets like to play with, you ask? Well, mostly with other ferrets. But with or without other ferrets to play with, they will need fun and stimulating toys. Now, there are an assortment of toys specific to ferrets at toy shops that you can invest in but most of them will prove to be pricey. I’m going to include some ideas for homemade play things for your little fuzzy.


1) A Box To Dig In

No doubt about it, fuzzies like to dig. So why not put together something for them that will satisfy that urge? Get a large cardboard box, carve out an opening that your fuzzy will use to get in and out of the box and fill it with shredded paper (not newspaper or anything that will leak ink). Introduce it to your pet and let the good times roll!

2) Tunnels

If you want to make your fuzzy really happy, give him some tunnels to race through. You don’t need to buy the ready made ones at the pet store, which are not very long and super expensive. Build your own instead. Head over to the hardware store and pick up some PVC pipes or dryer hose. Use them alone or attach a few together for a longer play tunnel. You can include boxes for more fun. Make a hole in a cardboard box and insert the pipe into the hole. Throw some toys into the box that your fuzzy can find when he ends up in there after running through the pipe. Make another opening in the box for your pet to be able to get out, or just so he can stick his head out to peek around.

3) Old Sweats

Don’t throw out those old sweatshirts and pants; give them to your ferret instead. Toss them on the floor and watch as your pet tunnels through them. He will also curl up and sleep on them after he exhausts himself with all that play.

4) Soda Bottle

After you’re done with the soda, don’t get rid of the bottle; clean it, add some marbles, river rocks, rice or anything that will make a little noise, place the cap back on and roll it toward your ferret. The noise will get his attention and he’ll end up pushing it around.

5) Cardboard Play Station

Boxes, boxes and more boxes! Gather as many as you can, connect them with tubes, fill some up with toys and set your ferret free to run and roam through them. You can even stack some on top of each other (with holes to allow your pet to go from one to the other) for even more fun.

6) Paper Bags

Ferrets are extremely inquisitive and will investigate anything new in their environment, especially when it’s noisy. So, crumple up a paper bag and toss it toward you fuzzy. The noise will get his attention and your ferret will run over to investigate. He may very well spend the next little while trying to get into the bag to see what, if anything, is in there.

7) Fun-Filled Socks

Take an old sock, insert a toy that jingles into it, tie a knot at the opening and introduce it to your pet. He’ll have a lot of fun fighting with the sock as he tries to get to the toy.

8) Plastic Bags

I couldn’t tell you why, but ferrets get really excited when you give them plastic bags to play with. Maybe they like the noise the bags make or the fact that they can crawl into them. Or both. In any case, if you have some plastic bags (the bigger, the better) around the house, give them to your fuzzies to play with. But make sure to stick around to prevent suffocation. Take the bags away if you won’t be around to supervise.

9) Pillow Cases

Fill up a pillow case with crumpled paper, the noisier the better, and give it to your ferret. He will love jumping on top and rolling around on it.

10) Balls

Ferrets seem to really like balls, especially the types that bounce around. Pick up some ping pong balls or small beach balls that they can roll around the room. Bounce the balls up and down now and again to make it more exciting for your pet.


Those are just a few ideas to help you get started. Ferret toys don’t have to be expensive; just use your imagination and build your own. Most homemade toys are very easy to put together. Just make sure that they’re sturdy and safe for your little fuzzy.

Now, let’s warp up with the furry tribe.

What’s up Bailey?



I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’ve been really busy, so I’ve fallen behind on some things. I’ll get to it soon.


Clair, don’t torment poor Nacho!

Nacho, you have anything to say.


What?! No way, Nacho! You can’t play with the birds!

[They’re driving me crazy!]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today's Trivia - The Garden

It’s time for some interesting but useless information. And today it’s all about the garden...


1) Narcissus flowers were named after Narcissus of the Greek legend, who fell in love with his own reflection in a stream. He stayed by the stream in a hypnotic trance. The gods thought he would die of starvation so they changed him into the flower to stay there forever.


2) The onion is a lily, botanically. Asparagus is also a member of the lily family. The name "asparagus" comes from a Greek word meaning "sprout"

3) Dandelion flowers may be an annoyance in the garden, but the leaves make tasty salad greens. For best flavor, be sure to harvest them before they produce flowers.

4) "During a 2000 May Day gardening protest, 600 environmental activists dug up and planted seeds in Britain's Parliament Square - the small park near the Commons. These seeds later sprouted healthy carrots, onions, marigolds, and. . . marijuana. Surprised Royal Park's police said they would "clear the marijuana plants away"

5) Apples, Pears and Peaches are all members of the rose family

6) A tomato is a fruit, but it is more commonly AND legally known as a vegetable. There was a case before the US Supreme Court in 1893, about importing tomatoes from the West Indies. Fruits could be imported tax-free, vegetables couldn’t. Since tomatoes were eaten with main dishes and not as or with desserts, the Court ruled them to be a vegetable.

7) Potatoes are the most popular vegetable among Americans. Second and third place go to head lettuce and onions.

8) Vegetables are a breakfast food in Japan! A traditional Japanese breakfast typically consists of pickled vegetables, soup, fish, and a bowl of rice.

9) Vegetable popsicles anyone? At some Zoos, the zookeepers freeze assorted vegetables, fruits, fish, and seeds in big chunks of ice. These "vegetable popsicles" are tossed daily into the watering holes of the animals cages.

10) Tulips originated in Turkey getting their name from the Turkish word "tulbend" which means turban.

11) The city of Mt. Vernon, Washington grows more tulips than the entire country of Holland.

12) Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

13) There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the world.

14) A single apple tree will produce an average of 840 pounds of apples every year.

15) Carnations (used in floral arrangements, corsages, and boutonnieres) are the most popular of all cut flowers.

That's it for now, folks! Have a great day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What’s Growing On In The Garden?

Those of you who follow my blog know that I’ve been really busy this spring with the garden. I’ve been running around town buying plants to add to the empty flower beds that already existed and to the flower beds that have been recently carved out. And every week, I’ve been spending hours outside trying to get further ahead.

It’s been tough but all that hard work is starting to pay off. Today, I’d like to share a little of what’s growing happily in the garden.

So.

- Digitalis ‘Foxy’ -

Oh my how this plant has grown since I brought it home. It’s still quite small but growing quickly. And despite the fact that it’s still so young, it’s getting ready to bloom



- Salvia × sylvestris 'Blue Queen' -

Small in size but eager to get going, this lovely plant is showing off its pretty flowers.



- Anemone sylvestris -

Still blooming away after so many weeks, Anemone sylvestris is a true gem in the garden. This is one of the few perennials planted in my garden last year.



- Trollius chinensis ‘Golden Queen’ -

Even though it’s not fully grown, this popular perennial is preparing to bloom.



- Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunfire’ -

I expected to see flowers some time in June, but this little perennial has been gracing my garden with lovely blooms since I brought it home.



- Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ -

Like Anemone sylvestris, this Echinacea has been in the garden since last year. Because it was planted a little late in the season, and because it was so young, it didn’t grow very big. But this year, in just a few short weeks, it’s grown into a mega plant. And it’s preparing to bloom. (There are two of these in the garden, and they’re both doing equally well.)



- Aquilegia alpine -

It certainly didn’t take this columbine very long to start growing flowers. No complaints on my end. Bring it on, I say.



Well, that’s it for this post. There is a lot more going on in the garden, but I will leave the rest for another day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Thyme

I really like roasted chicken, particularly because there are always enough leftovers to make sandwiches the next day for lunch. I have an assortment of different recipes for this favourite meal, and this is one of them:

Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Thyme
(Makes about 8 servings)

Ingredients:

1 (6-pound) roasting chicken
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika (I use whatever paprika I have on hand)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 lemons, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chicken broth instead)
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Lemon slices (optional)
Thyme sprigs (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine the paprika, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; rub under loosened skin. Thinly slice 1 lemon; arrange slices under loosened skin. Cut remaining lemon into quarters. Place lemon quarters inside chicken cavity. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme to chicken cavity.

Place chicken on the rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Brush oil over skin. Cover chicken with aluminum foil. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh registers 165°. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; cover with foil, and let stand 15 minutes before carving.


Place a zip-top plastic bag in a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into measuring cup, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Place pan on stove top over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into pan. Add wine; bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add drippings, broth, juice, sugar, remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Remove skin and lemon slices from chicken, and remove lemon wedges from cavity; discard. Carve chicken, and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with gravy. Garnish with additional lemon slices and thyme sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Calories:174 (35% from fat)
Fat:6.7g (sat 1.8g,mono 2.7g,poly 1.5g)

Mmmm...mmmm... Enjoy!

Original recipe can be found at: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1559214

Monday, May 24, 2010

What’s New In The Garden?

So here I am again with some new additions to the garden. This post includes annuals, perennials and even vegetables (just a couple).


1) Salvia ‘Red Hot Sally’


I never knew of these pretty annuals until I started working on the garden this year. I picked up a packet of four, planted each one separately in a small container, and placed them all in front of the house. I used to have the Gazanias up front, but decided to move them to the back of the house where they’ll receive even more sun (Gazanias get preferential treatment).



2) Petunia ‘Daddy Blue’



I’m not sure why the colour of these flowers is referred to as blue; they look purple to me. Even the photo on the plant tag depicts the blooms as blue when in actual fact, they’re not blue at all. Whatever. They’re very pretty, either way.

I picked up a set of four and planted them in a container along with some gazanias that I bought.


3) Gazania ‘Daybreak Bright Yellow’


It surprises me how few gazanias I’ve seen locally. Don’t people know that these are the best flowers ever? Anyhow, I picked up a packet of four of these, planted one of the four with the petunias above and the other three together in a container. All the petunias and gazanias are sitting on the deck at the back of the house where they’ll bask in the sun.



4) Begonia


The impatiens in the front of the house was very lonely, so I picked up a red begonia to keep it company. My favourite colours for begonias are red and yellow. I have both now, so I think I’m done with these plants. Or so I say.



5) Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’


I just can’t get enough of coneflowers, so here’s another one. I added the ‘Ruby Star’ to the right side of the yard.



6) Dahlia (Some type or other...)


I don’t know what kind of dahlia this is (it wasn’t tagged) but it’s so gorgeous that I just couldn’t leave it behind. It’s basking in the sun in a container on the deck.


7) Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’



I really like the burgundy-purple foliage of this plant. I’m expecting to see starry yellow flowers in the summer, which will be nice. I picked up one of these and added it to the right side of the house...


...which now looks like this:



8) Sweet Bell Peppers

Even though I’d love to, I’m not going to get into vegetable gardening this year. There are just too many other things that need to get done; I haven’t even had a chance to carve out the vegetable patch. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a sliver of it in containers. That being said, I picked up a couple of pepper plants.

Red:



And orange:



The pepper plants are potted up together in a large container that is sitting in the sun out back.


I’ve never grown peppers before, so it’ll be an interesting experience. Let’s hope for the best.


9) Cherry Tomato


I really like cherry tomatoes in a salad or on their own. They’re sweet and juicy. I picked up one of these plants at WalMart for just a few bucks and placed it in the sun out back. It’s grown considerably since I’ve brought it home, so I’m confident that it’s happy in its new home.


And that’s all for today, folks. There are still some plants to write about but not that many. The flower beds are starting to fill up and I’ve slowed down on the purchases. I’ll be happy when it’s all done and I can just concentrate on maintenance.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Single Photograph

Bees hard at work...


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the flower is a dahlia.

Jolly The Gnome

I added a new gnome to the garden:


I decided to name this one ‘Jolly’ because he is smiling, somewhat. He’s been given the job of tending to the sunflowers. And although it doesn’t look like a difficult job right now because the plants are still so small, they’re going to grow huge and it’ll be much more difficult to tend to them. That’s when Jolly the gnome is going to stop smiling – and stop being jolly.


At some point he’ll throw the wheelbarrow across the lawn and go on strike. He may even take Chuckles and Smiley with him. They’ll all demand higher salaries, fewer hours, more vacation time and additional employees to ease their workload. And if they don’t get what they want, they may get really unruly and decide to vandalize the garden at some point. The sunflowers will become hostages and the gnomes will threaten to cut off the flower heads.

Man, oh man... It’s going to get ugly.

What was I thinking when I got the gnomes?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spectacular Sunflowers

Look what followed me home last week:



Aren’t they just amazing?

Oh, how I adore sunflowers. I would love to have an entire flower bed consisting of different types of these gorgeous annuals - that I wish were perennials in my zone.

Anyway.

So my wonderful husband carved out a circle in the backyard where I will plant fall bulbs this year. And for now, I decided to grow sunflowers in that spot. Six of them.

Take a look:


To add some contrast, I planted six Matthiola incana between the sunflowers up front:


This is what the circle looks like with yellow and purple blooms:



This is one of the loveliest views from my kitchen window. I can’t wait to see these sunflowers when they reach their full height. It’s going to be spectacular!

Saturday Silliness

Snicker...giggle...snort... It’s time to laugh!


Things You Don't Want to Hear During Surgery

"Better save that. We'll need it for the autopsy."

"Bo Bo! Come back with that! Bad Dog!"

"Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what's that?"

"Hand me that...uh...that uh...thingie."

"Oh no! I just lost my Rolex."

"Oops! Hey, has anyone ever survived 500ml of this stuff before?"

"Darn, there go the lights again...."

"Ya know, there's big money in kidneys. Heck, the guy's got two of 'em."

"Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!"

"Could you stop that thing from beating? It's throwing off my concentration."

"What's this doing here?"

"That's cool! Now, can you make his leg twitch?"

"I wish I hadn't forgotten my glasses."


"And now we remove the subject's brain and place it in the body of the ape."

"Ok. Now take a picture from this angle. This is truly a freak of nature."

"This patient has already had some kids, right?"

"Nurse, did this patient sign the organ donation card?"

"Don't worry. I think this is sharp enough."

"FIRE! FIRE! Everybody get out NOW!"

"Darn! Page 47 of the manual is missing!"

“Well folks, this will be an experiment for all of us.”

“Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what's that?”

“Isn't this the guy with the really lousy insurance?”

"Sterile, shcmerile. The floor's clean, right?"

"What do you mean, he wasn't in for a sex change?"

"Someone call the janitor - we're going to need a mop!"

"Accept this sacrifice, O Great Lord of Darkness"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photo Of Bailey

It’s been insanely busy for me lately, so there hasn’t been enough free time to put together a lengthy ferrety post. This is the second time this has happened and I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that I’m not super woman, therefore I can’t keep up with everything all the time.

So.

Once in awhile I’m going to just add ferrety photos instead of ferrety info on ferrety Fridays.

Here’s one of Bailey when he was a kit (name for baby ferret):


Wasn’t he just the cutest little thing? They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Sigh...

How About A Rhododendron?

I couldn’t resist this rhododendron:


Just the thought of having these gorgeous purple blooms in my garden made me bring this lovely plant home. I added it to the left side of the backyard, right near all the lovely rose bushes.


This rhododendron will grow anywhere from 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide, so it should be quite spectacular. Can’t wait!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Latest Additions To The Garden

I’ve been insanely busy lately. In addition to all the gardening needed to be done this year, there are a lot of other things going on that I won’t be getting into right now. Eventually I’ll share some interesting – and exciting – news with my blog visitors. But not today.

Today, I’m going to share the latest additions to the garden.

1) Lilium ‘Pixie Pink’



I received two of these lovely liliums from my younger daughter for Mother’s Day. How did she know that I love these plants more than any other? And that getting me some for the garden would literally make my day? It couldn’t possibly have been the “there are some lovely liliums at Home Depot that would make a wonderful gift for Mother’s day” statement, could it? Nah.

Anyway, I planted both of these pretty little things in the new flower bed out back.


That area now looks like this:


2) Echinacea purpurea Doubledecker


This is the most interesting coneflower I’ve seen to date locally. I brought one home and planted it under the kitchen window.


3) Hemerocallis 'Crimson Pirate'


This was another lucky find; a beautiful daylily in a $2 pot. It doesn’t get any better. I added this lovely plant under my kitchen window.


Here’s a look at the area under the kitchen window:


4) Hosta undulata ‘Albo-marginata’



Happiness is finding a hosta with beautiful foliage, like this one, in a small pot that only costs a couple of dollars. I bought two of these and added them both to the right side of the house.


5) Heuchera americana 'Dale's Strain'



I’m starting to take notice of the heuchera plants with their lovely foliage. Quite a few of them have popped up at the garden centers this month, but I’m concentrating on the small, more affordable sizes. I picked up one of these and added it to the right side of our home.


6) Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’


Another lovely heuchera with deep purple to bronze foliage. I picked up a couple of these and planted them in front of the house.


The front and right side of the house to date:


7) Lilium x 'Lemon Pixie'


Just like you can never have too many coneflowers in the garden, you can never have too many liliums in the garden. I picked up two of these at Walmart for only $2 each; I planted both on the right side of the backyard.


8) Lilium x 'Crimson Pixie'


Another lilium, you ask? But of course. The more, the merrier. This one promises gorgeous crimson-red blooms that I really look forward to seeing. I bought two (also for only $2 a piece) and planted them on the right side of the back yard – right next to the Lilium x 'Lemon Pixie' plants.


9) Hosta (unknown)


I did not buy this hosta. I dug it up from the left side of the house, an area that I don’t intend on adding plants to for many reasons. This hosta came with our home when we bought it, and because it had been there for so many years, it was huge. So I divided it and got five plants out of it! Pretty cool, huh? All five of these hostas were planted on the right side of the backyard. (If you know what hosta this is, please let me know)

The right side of the yard to date:


There is still a lot of work to be done in this area.

That’s it for today, folks. There have been a lot more changes and additions to the garden, which I will get to at some point.