Something on your mind? ? ? :-)

If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

When you click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, you will be presented with choices for logins, if you do not already have one of the accounts listed, or you do not choose to login with that account, you can always choose the anonymous option, in which case your name would come up as Anonymous! If you choose to use one of the other log in options, your name would appear as the public name you list for that account. For example, mine would appear as Willow's Quiet Corner, and, of course, your email would not show!

Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year! ! !

Peonies at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

Sorry I have been MIA for so long!  :)  I had several things I had planned on posting about, but . . . well, life happens!  I may still try to get some of those posts done, even though some of the events were wayyyyy back in August! 

Flowers at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada
Anyway, this post is to say . . . I am still here!  And to thank every one of you who has hung in there with me this past year!  I truly appreciate all your support and just really, really love reading all your sweet comments . . . otherwise, it is just a bit boring talking to oneself!  ;)        . . . so . . .  THANK YOU!

Sunset over Laguna Beach, California
I think we can safely and happily say good-bye to 2012 with all the tragedies we have watched unfold.  Let the sun set on the year.

Sandcastle Contest in Hueneme Beach in Port Hueneme, California
Let's watch the sun rise and say hello to the hope that 2013 brings us all more peace and prosperity.

Footbridge in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada
Where ever your path may lead you . . .

Bacchus figure (or Satyr?) at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California
I hope your days are merry . . .

Piano at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California
and full of music.

Redwood Sorrel in the Redwoods - Northern California
And may luck follow you every step of the way . . .

Ride at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California
Remember to make every moment a celebration . . . 

Peonies at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

I hope you'll stick around and join me for another year!  Happy New Year, everyone!   :)

Double Rainbow over Oak Glen, California
(though the 2nd one is so faint it is very difficult to see it!  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Peach Pie Heaven

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!  I don't know if you know Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, but she is getting me into lots and lots of trouble. I'd invite you to go visit her blog and order her cookbook as soon as it comes out, but then you'd hate me because you would somehow, inexplicably gain about a hundred pounds.  Instantly.  

My picture doesn't do the pie justice.  Go look at her pics, it will give you a better idea of this genius.

I followed her peach pie recipe, except I made a couple of mistakes. And, even with those mistakes, I'm pretty sure I have died and gone to heaven.  I don't really think I am still here on this earth at all. You could pinch me, just so I'd know, if you would be so kind . . .

You see, I didn't think the peaches I got at the farmer's market Sunday morning were quite ripe so I didn't work on my pie on Sunday, which would have been a much better day for me to attempt any kind of shenanigans in the kitchen.  No, no, I, in my infinite wisdom, thought I should put the peaches in a paper bag and wait a couple of days.

Well, as soon as I got home from work Monday, I discovered the peaches were NOT going to wait any longer to throw themselves into the pie pan or they would end up marching straight into the trash. So, I began peeling and pitting and cutting into pieces.  I mixed the pie dough.  I threw the dry ingredients/seasonings for the filling together and promptly ran out of steam.
I realized I was not going to want to stay up until 2 in the morning rolling out the dough, baking the pie and then waiting for it to cool a couple of hours before I tossed it in the fridge.

So, I coated the peaches with the lemon juice the recipe called for and put it all away until I got home Tuesday night.  I raced home and pulled everything out of the fridge and started rolling out the dough.  I gently settled the bottom crust into my new white ruffled ceramic pie pan.   Then I turned my attention to the peaches, there was quite a bit of liquid at the bottom and I wavered.  Do I include all the tasty juices or drain them off a bit? . . .  I went with using every last drop of that liquid gold.  It just looked too delicious to waste.  (Might be the first mistake . . .  I think sitting a day after I cut them up caused way too much liquid to drain out.  Had I finished it the same day, I don't think I would have had that issue.) I stirred the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and tapioca starch into the peaches and slipped them into the pan.  I rolled out the top crust and then used my pie dough leaf cutout to make a "faux" lattice like top and plopped it on my pie and crimped the edges a bit and then sprinkled a little sugar over the top and tossed it into the oven.

In my haste to be able to bite into some scrumptious peach pie I missed the part of her instructions that tell you to turn the heat down after 20 mins!  (Ooops . . . my 2nd mistake!)  I was just wayyyyyy too impatient to try to get it ready for a taste test ASAP! I checked on it after about 40-45 mins and the crust was getting overdone already, so I took it out and it looked pretty liquidy, but I was still hoping the tapioca starch and cooling process would work their magic and thicken it up a bit.  And, it did, but there was just a smidge too much liquid even after all that.  (Not complaining, it is delish!  :)

By, the time it had cooled, it was quite late, and I didn't want to cut into it until I had taken a picture of it for posterity!  See, I do think about y'all!  ;)  So, I popped it into the fridge and went to bed. Then I raced home tonight to finally get my reward.  I even forgot to stop to run a couple of very important errands I was supposed to take care of tonight.  (I hope I still have a couple of friends left . . . :)  I did, however, manage to refrain just long enough to snap just a couple pics.

But, I'm afraid it was worth letting my friends down a bit.  Oh, my goodness, holy-moly guacamole, I S.W.E.A.R. the heavens opened up and the angels began to sing.  Good golly, miss Molly that pie was soooooo very tasty I licked the knife, the spoon (used to scoop up the extra juice!  - it was sooooo good!), the fork, the plate and then went in for seconds.  New knife, new fork, new spoon . . . . all also licked clean . . . ahhhhhhhhhh!  I know I should share it, but . . well, it's THAT good.  It is mine, all mine!  (Ok, full disclosure . . . I am going to take a couple of pieces to above mentioned friends as a peace offering for not taking care of business as I should have tonight . . .) But, that's it.  The rest is mine, all mine!  Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha . . . 




:(    Oh, my . . . I think I am a full-fledged addict now.  I am fighting going in there and devouring the whole rest of the pie even though I am totally full.  (Note to self . . . must get padlock for fridge . . . oh, and . . . ermmmm . . . perhaps not tell everyone so publicly what a little piggy I can be . . .)

Got peaches?  Make this pie!  But, if you start having uncontrollable cravings for more and more and more . . . don't blame me!  It's all Deb's fault . . .  (Deb . . . are you listening? :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Blogiversary to Me! :)

Sea Lions at San Simeon - California Coast

Well, today was my 2nd year blogiversary. . . . my how time flies!  (How many times have we heard/said that?)  But, dang, it is so true!  This is just a quick post to acknowledge the milestone (and get a quick birthday wish in here)!

Big Sur Coast - California
It sure doesn't seem like it has been that long!  And, I am still not posting very regularly, but I am ok with that!  There are far too many things to take care of to worry about that!  I very much appreciate all of you who have been following along!  Thank you!  And, welcome to my newest followers! ! !

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California
I am planning a few posts to chronicle the trip I took up the California, Oregon and Washington coasts right on up to Vancouver Island, Canada.  What a gorgeous drive!  I can HIGHLY recommend doing this if you ever get the chance and to do it right, try to take a minimum of 3 weeks (more if you can do it!).  It was a few years back, but I think you might enjoy the pics!  Stay tuned!  (These pics are a little teaser from that trip!)

Northern California Coastline
Also, it is that time of year to wish a happy birthday to D!  Another year older!  Happy Birthday! ! !   Stay outta the strip clubs and bars this time around!  ;)   . . . oh, and I suppose I should put in a little reminder to NOT go scuba diving again.  LOL!  :D

Oregon Coast Sand Dunes
I was hoping to get a peach pie all baked up tonight to celebrate and share with you here, but . . . things got away from me and as it turns out, this is about as much as I am going to get done tonight!  It's getting late and I'm tired!  I have the filling all mixed up and the pie dough resting in the fridge, but I don't have quite enough steam to roll it out and wait for it to bake tonight before I want to hit the sack . . . so-o-o-o-o-o-o, I have fresh peach pie to look forward to tomorrow!  I'll eat 2 pieces to make up for it!  OK?  ;)  One for my blogiversary and one in honor of D's birthday!  YUMMM!  I think I still have some vanilla ice cream to go with it!  Yay!  I can't wait!  Deb's recipe looks fantastic and I can't wait to try it!  NONE of her recipes that I have tried have failed to delight!  Look through her site for kitchen inspiration any time you need it!  I can't wait for her cookbook to come out!

Butchart Gardens - Vancouver Island, Canada
Ok, that's it from me for now!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, D! ! !  Grab a fork!  ;D

Capilano Suspension Bridge - Vancouver, Canada

Friday, July 13, 2012

Habitually Chic®: Oomph Table Winner

Habitually Chic®: Oomph Table Winner

Oh, my!  I am so excited!  Heather over at Habitually Chic (whom I have been following ever since I stumbled onto her lovely site about 2 years ago) hosted a give-away for Oomph for a darling little side table!  The Edgartown Side Table with Shelf!  and . . . guess who won!

That's right!  L'il ol' moi!  Yayyy!  I can't wait!  I have been busy painting E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. white in this little spot I call home.  I think the Dove White with the Painted White Raffia top will fit in absolutely perfectly with my plan.  I have been collecting little things for pops of color, turquoise and cobalt, ruby red and emerald greens in jars, bottles, pillows, objets d'art, etc.  Since my abode is pretty small and I don't have a lot of room, my plan is to have my white "canvas" and rotate the color in and out according to season, holiday . . . or just plain old whim!  I'm getting closer to having it all ready and this sweet little table will be a MOST welcome addition!  *doing little happy dance*  :)

Thanks so much to Heather for hosting and to Oomph for their generous gift!  Thank you, thank you, thank you! ! !  :D  <3

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garden Update

What is this? ? ?
It's been a while since I have done a garden update.  Some of these pictures are even a few weeks old now!  Ooops!  :) 

Raised bed "kinda square" foot garden - before planting

So, here is a picture of my raised bed planter before I started getting things in.  You may remember it from a previous post.

I have been battling Keeled Treehoppers.  Little buggers are nasty and hard to get rid of.  They have already completely decimated one tomato plant.  I had to pull it out and get rid of it.  And with it . . . a few million of the nymphs.

I don't want to spray anything unless I absolutely have to.  I don't want to kill any of the good guys.  I have a lot of ladybugs, spiders, birds and a few lizards around.  I think I saw a green lacewing around recently also!  Go, team!  :)  The increased bird traffic has created a big decrease in my grasshopper population!  Yayyy!

My poor Sweet Peas are starting to get powdery mildew.  I think it is too early for that.  We really haven't been getting the heat yet!  I hope that doesn't mean this is going to be a bad year for it again!  :(  But, for now, they still smell heavenly!  

I think I am making headway now . . . but we'll see!  I'm definitely not out of the woods yet.  They are on my tomatoes, my peppers and my eggplants.  I am not sure how many of them I will be able to save!

A few years ago my mom got me an Argentine Giant cactus.  They get such big, pretty blooms.  

As big as they are, you would expect a scent to match, but alas . . . they just have a slight grassy scent to them.

This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors . . . I can just hear him saying, "Feed me!"  What do you think?

How about an alien?  Some strange martian, perhaps?

These cherry tomatoes have soooooo much flavor!  When you bite into them, you get a big burst of flavor!  Sooooo good!  I love them.  I should have taken a pic of the ripe ones!

I can't wait to start harvesting some of the Roma tomatoes.  I don't know what I am doing wrong with the tomatoes I plant in pots.  I see other people growing big, healthy plants in pots, but mine always look a little sad and scraggly.  For those of you who successfully grow in pots, please let me in on your secret!  I am not showing you the potted ones . . . they are just too sad!

Fava Beans
I planted my fava beans a little too late, but we had a little stretch of a little cooler than usual weather, so I got an ok harvest from them.  I need to remember to plant more of them and to plant them a little earlier next time so I get more beans on the darn things.  (Pssst, hey, Jules, see those leaves in the lower left hand side?  Those are my sweet taters!  THANKS! ! !)

For now, I am hoping to be able to save enough for seed next year.

I have 3 strawberry pots, but they don't really produce enough to give me any more than 2 or 3 berries at a time.  But, they are not quite fully planted either (I have some empty pockets! :), so maybe I will be able to change that one of these days!

I nearly killed my blueberries a couple of years ago and they are starting to recover, so I am hoping to get an even better harvest next year.  This year was MUCH better than last year, but the poor things have a ways to go to be their most productive!  I got a big handful of them this weekend and had them over ice cream.  YUMMMM!  :)

My lilacs  . . . well . . .  one of my lilacs did a little better this year.  Again, the unseasonably cool weather I'm sure helped quite a bit.  They are finished for the season now, but I had them for a few weeks.

And my tarragon is doing fairly well!  But, does anyone have any idea what this . . . bee(?) is?  He was just kind of lazily buzzing about and really seemed to like my tarragon!  I have never seen one like this and hadn't seen him around here before.

So, what have you all been up to lately? ? ?  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

To all the fathers out there, I hope you are doing everything you want to do today!

Thanks for everything you have done for us!

You're our fixers . . .

Our answer guys . . .

Our lawn care experts . . .

Our travel guides . . .

Our protectors . . .

And we appreciate all you've done!

(oh yes, . . . and one more thing . . . Da-Da . . . don't forget to give that button back to mom! ! !  ;)

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Keys Creek Lavender Farm and Urban Barn Trip!

So . . . a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, California.  I had been searching online for lavender farms in the area because I thought the fields would make for lovely photo ops for this little blog and found them.  Then the wait was on for bloom season.  I was happy when my trusty ol' iCal popped up the reminder it was time to check bloom status.

While perusing their site, I noticed in addition to demonstrations of distilling essential oils and walking tours of their farm, they offered High Teas.  Since I had never been to one, I decided to make a reservation.  

The day of my visit was perfect.  I treated myself to a nice coffee and croissant for breakfast.  I had a ticket to get my car washed by a local high school wrestling team trying to raise funds for their team, so I headed over there while sipping my morning coffee.  One of my colleague's son was one of the washers.  It was a hoot to watch them clowning around.  They even managed to do a pretty good job of it also!  Then I was on the road on my way to the Urban Barn down in Escondido.  I had stumbled across their site at some point and was also looking forward to seeing what treasures I might find there!

I saw a set of 4 garden/patio chairs that I would have loved to have had, they were so pretty and sooooo comfy, but they wouldn't have fit in my poor little vehicle.  And, even if I had magically been able to spirit them home . . . I have no idea where I could have put them!  So, I had to bid a sad farewell to them.  But, I did pick up a pretty little tea cup display cupboard and a couple of pitchers.  And then it was time to get going to make it to Keys Creek Lavender Farm for my High Tea experience.

I saw some areas of the state I had never seen before on my way there.  It was a very pretty drive through a rural area.  A bit of a treat from the non-stop city/pavement I usually see.  And, then . . . on to dirt roads.  Whaaaat? ? ? ?  I didn't even realize there were any dirt roads anywhere near this area! ! !  Heck, they even put the rivers in concrete out here!  (I have been out here many, many years now and that still bothers me!  I know why they do it, but it just seems . . . . well, wrong!)  Who'd have thought they would allow dirt roads? ? ?  :)  Remember my second stop of the day  . . .  getting my car washed?  *sigh*  Oh well . . . it's only dirt, right?  ;)

It was worth it!  I finally got there and wandered up the road from the parking lot.  One of the owners, Chris Kurisu (that's him up there), met everyone on the porch to the little store they have there.  I was busy snapping pics of all the little vignettes they had set up . . . and the lavender, of course.  I finally realized he was talking about the essential oil distilling process, which was one of the things I was really interested in finding out more about.  They had a little distillation machine all set up and he described how it worked.  I would like to try my hand at it, but it would be a little too pricey to buy one of the machines they have for sale for just a casual interest in trying my hand at it!

Then it was time for our walking tour.  I was surprised that the part we saw seemed so small.  I am assuming there are a lot more fields on the backside of the hill that we didn't see.  If not, it is a very small farm!  :)  Cute, but small!  The lavender smelled lovely and there were thousands of bees busily tending all those blossoms.

Once we got to the top of the little hill, just outside the residence area, Chris bid those of us with High Tea reservations adieu and took the others on the rest of the tour back down to the shop.

There was a nice sized patio area that was set up with tables, nice tablecloths, and mis-matched tea cups and saucers.  There were lavender centerpieces and lovely little plates of sugar cubes and little ceramic creamers.  Once everyone was seated, they began bringing out plates of sweets, little sandwiches and assortments of fruits.  And the tea.  They offered a few different types from which to choose.  I started with a peach tea that was oh, so very yummy, I couldn't resist it.  I should have at least tried a bit of the others, but I was already hooked on the peach!  I think I must have drank about a gallon of it!

There were so many little delicious nibbles I just couldn't resist!

I must say I really enjoyed it!  The cucumber mint sandwiches looked like they had been cut with little cookie cutters.  They were quite sweet looking, like little flowers or something!  They also had little triangles of egg salad sandwiches and tuna salad as well.  The sweets were soooooo very tempting, I'm afraid I made a little pig of myself!  Scones with devonshire cream, madelines, little chocolate yummy cookie-ish type things, strawberries, blueberries and oh goodness, everything was just delish!  It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!  Grab some friends and get your reservations made!  But, remember, they are not offered all year long . . . it gets blazing hot out there in the summers!

See, didn't I tell you there were some super yummy looking desserts?  ;)

My most pleasant surprise of the day was the Rose Geraniums.  Ohhhhhh, mmmmmmmmmm, I really like the scent!  They distill the essential oils from those plants as well, but apparently, it takes soooooo much plant material to make the oil it is quite expensive to produce, so they don't sell just the Rose Geranium essential oil.  They mix it with the lavender essential oils.  I couldn't resist picking up some room sprays and some hand lotion.  (And a baby, fledgling Rose Geranium and a couple of lavender plants.)

Oh, I mustn't forget to show you some little piccies of the lavender fields . . . afterall, that was what started me on this little hunt!  ;)

They have several different varieties of lavender, some of which are in bloom at a little different times.

Isn't it pretty? ? ?  I wonder how many lavender wands you could make?  :)

Another surprise of the day . . . I apparently do have some allergies!  While shopping in their little store, I began sneezing.  And sneezing.  And sneezing.  And Sneezing.  I couldn't stop.  I was getting pretty uncomfortable.  Once I got outside, it subsided.  It was a small shop.  It was very warm.  There was a LOT of scent in there.  Wow!

There were so many little corners to explore, and a tiny little meditation maze walk tucked behind the bougainvillea covered arch. You can see a little peek of it in one of the photos above. 

It was such a pleasant day, I think it would be a really nice treat to go back again!  Perhaps you'll join me there!

Well, sit back and relax . . . until next time!  See ya' around! ! !  Later, gators!