Saturday, April 28, 2012


I suck at flower arranging, and I'm way too tight to pay a florist to do it for me. In fact, I won't hardly even splurge for the pre-made bouquets at the grocery store, unless it's for Easter or a baby shower or something. Occasionally, however, when I'm outside pruning and dead-heading, I will grab a handful of the trimmings and just stick them into my white ironstone jug.
Yesterday I went out to trim off the tall purple yarrow stems that were flopping over.  While there, I noticed that my red yucca bloom stalks were getting these big seed pods on them. When that happens, the stalks get very heavy and start falling over. I've even seen them cause a young plant to uproot itself, so I trim them off before that has a chance to happen.
The contents of the jug change from season to season, but somehow (and with no artifice or forethought on my part) always manage to look quite fetching. It's almost as if Mother Nature herself was pulling these bouquets together for me -- Hill Country Sunrise bouquets!

Friday, April 27, 2012


I was in Brookshire Bros. yesterday, trying to come up with a quickie meatless entree that I could fix for supper, when I happened to spot some pretty portobellos. I suddenly remembered a yummy looking recipe I had pinned on my "eats & treats" Pinterest board a while back, and decided to give it a go. So this is what we ended up having for dinner last night.
PORTOBELLO PARM (2 servings)
(my riff on a recipe from Mary at One Perfect Bite)

1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs
1/2 c.(1 1/2 oz.) grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 T. minced parsley
1 tsp. salt
3/8 c. egg substitute (or about 2 small eggs)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram leaves (she didn't say whether this was fresh or dried)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano leaves (again, not sure if she meant fresh or dried)
2 stemmed portobellos, brushed clean
3/4 c. (3 oz.) shredded mozzarella (I didn't have quite enough, so I added a bit of cheddar, too)
1/2 c. tomato sauce (I used pasta sauce)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with foil and place baking rack inside pan. Spray rack with cooking spray.

Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 c. Parmesan, 1 1/2 T. parsley, paprika and 1/2 tsp. salt in shallow dish.  In separate dish, combine egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic powder and oregano.

Dip both sides of mushrooms in egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs until both sides are well coated. Transfer, stem side down, to baking rack. Spray tops lightly with cooking spray and bake 15-20 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven. Reset oven to 450 F.

Carefully flip mushrooms over. Cover each with 1/4 c. tomato sauce, half of the mozzarella, and 2 T. of Parmesan. Spray tops lightly. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts and mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes (or less!). Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.

Image from Munchin With Munchkin
A while back I also stumbled across a  recipe for Sundried Tomato Hummus that sounded pretty darn yummy, on a blog called Munchin With Munchkin. I pinned that one to Pinterest myself! I fixed it as our main course earlier this week, and served it with some of those delish Milton's crackers (pita would be good too) along with a nice chunk of cheese and an assortment of pickled veggies. Plus, we've been pulling it out every evening since, to munch on as our aperitif while I cook dinner. One can of garbanzos goes a really long way, for just two people! Anyhoo, click on her blog name there to find the recipe for this, and a ton of other good stuff. And, if you're bored with your nightly repertoire, try trolling Pinterest!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Here is something you almost never see at our place -- an open yucca bloom.
 Now, we see tons and tons of these chomped-off bloom stalks...
but almost never any that have been allowed to come into full bloom. Guess the deer are afraid of my bottle tree. Ha! Take that, you voracious little varmints!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Not long after we bought this place, John surprised me with two raised beds which he had ordered online. They've been sitting there, abandoned, ever since, much to his dismay. I felt pretty bad about ignoring his kind gift, but I have this thing about not beating my head up against brick walls!
You see, he set them up on just about the only level spot available on this hillside of ours, which just happens to be smack dab in the middle of one of the many deer paths which criss-cross our property. I knew that, until we got a good tall fence around them, or figured out some other way to keep the deer, raccoons, and armadillos out, there was just no point in putting any veggies in. Instead, I tried growing some in the terraced Cantina Garden, once it was completed. But, even with our six foot cedar post fence, and motion-sensitive squirters and noisemakers, we still couldn't keep all the critters out. Eventually, I gave up on most of my annual edibles, and began filling in the empty spaces with more herbs and perennials. Hubby was not happy.
Soooo, guess what showed up in our most recent doorstep delivery? No, wait. That would be the new arbor. Guess what showed up in the delivery before that? This!
Our neighbor across the creek started growing veggies in two long raised beds, with no fence at all, just about the same time I started growing them in the Cantina Garden, and she was way more successful at it. The only difference was that she set up hoops and kept her beds under floating row cover year-round. She claimed that, not only did it keep out the big critters, it also kept out most of the icky leaf rollers and stuff. I just wasn't willing to do that in the Cantina Garden, since that was my decorative garden as well -- my only spot to play with color and design. Here though, behind the pump house? I'm more than ok with it! Within a few days of this zip-sided gizmo's arrival, John had already hauled in dirt, filled up the bed, and set up my compost bins nearby. He wasn't giving me any more excuses!
I guess I've missed out on our spring planting window here (highs up to 97 by Friday) but, come fall, it looks like I'll be back in the veggie-growing business! Just one question, though, for my more experienced compadres -- if you keep your beds under cover all the time, how do things get pollinated?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I was on the upper porch this morning, just as the sun was coming up, looking down at the Cantina Garden. I was thinking about yesterday's post on my garden color selections, and watching the hummers as they enjoyed their breakfast.
When I realized that it was going to be a colorful sunrise, I ran to get my camera.
Sunrises filled with shades of violet and orange...
and a garden filled with shades of violet and orange. DOH! Perhaps my color selections weren't quite as random and off the wall as I originally thought. I suppose it is, in fact, a Hill Country Sunrise Garden!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I really love the violet and orange combination that I slapped together on this corrugated metal planter, and have been having tons of fun playing with interesting plant combos to echo those colors.

A violet yarrow with a new-to-me salvia called magna, or something like that
Amazon dianthus, cosmos, and some not-yet-blooming rudbeckia
One of the many gorgeous succulents I bought at Shoal Creek nursery in Austin. Unfortunately, they just stuck a generic "cacti" label on all of them.
My homemade birdbath has finally been cleaned up and repainted.
Perilla 'magilla'
Can't remember what this was, maybe an osteospermum? All I know is it managed to winter over in that pot, even though the drainage got plugged up and it sat in water for weeks. Too bad the deer love those blooms so much.
Some kind of petunia/callibrachoa(sp?) hybrid
Just wait'll these babies all have time to fill out a bit. It's gonna be color crazy in the Cantina Garden!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I went for a walk on the Wimberley Hike 'n Bike with my hubby yesterday. The main part of the trail is wide, crushed granite, but they later added lots of little mulched "nature trails" that branch off to the side here and there. I've never had the nerve to take one of the side-shoots when alone, for I have absolutely no sense of direction. If there were more than a couple of forks in the path, you'd probably find a story in the paper reading "Wimberley woman wanders for days, less that 50 feet from her car." However, since my hubby (who seems to have been born with an internal GPS system) happened to be along, I was finally willing to do a bit of exploring.
The Hike 'n Bike area is part of the larger, Blue Hole Regional Park project. Phase one, which was focused on the area around the swimming hole, was completed right about this time last year. Phase two involved the installation of some sports fields for the kiddos, and I'm not sure what else, as it's not yet complete. All I know is, that tepee-like structure, which we spotted from afar yesterday, sure has my curiosity up. Can't wait for the big "reveal!"

Oh, and as it turns out, I needn't have worried about getting lost. If you keep heading straight on the main nature trail, and don't take any of the side-shoots off of that, it eventually connects back to the Hike 'n Bike, so there's no need to retrace one's steps. Whew!