Monday, January 30, 2012


The bare root rose season is here! I can't resist adding roses to the landscape. Here at Angel Crest it means putting them in the backyard, where fencing keeps out the deer & rabbits. So I love climbing roses and was hoping that the Grange would have a wide assortment.
But not so much since the demise of Jackson Perkins ( a division of Harry & David). The rose selection is not as impressive locally. It may mean that I'll have to buy online. But I did pick up this New Dawn (a nice climbing rose with some vigor, 18-20 feet at some point) pink blossoms and old rose fragrance. It supposedly tolerates the summer heat better than most. But now I need an arbor! Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Sometimes you just have to suck it up and admit that your feeble efforts won't get you what you want. Time to hire a professional! So I called Advanced Tree Service for help in getting less shade in my new garden area. They said, "We can get you a lot less shade in 5 minutes!" They were only kidding and I wasn't about to cut down this tree which does shade the house in the late afternoon and is a focal point in the yard. But it did have some issues and probably had never been pruned.

So for $300 I could get a good pruning (they don't do pollarding anymore because it just encourages rampant new growth in the next years). So it was to be some thinning and taking out of those limbs that were hanging over the garden area. Here Kevin, the apprentice, is climbing up in the tree without using hooks. It's slippery! Using hooks on a maple is not good because the tree tends to "bleed" sap and draw insects.

The veteran Dave is watching from the ground, making sure Kevin does all his rigging correctly.

In the end, we have a much "skinnier" tree and my garden (you can see part of it on the right)will get so much more sunlight. According to the experts, even a few more minutes of sunlight can make a huge difference in the amount of veggies you get!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Just feast your eyes on these nuggets, directly from the 3 stomached ruminant Alpaca. Daughter in law Jill gifted me with this bucket o goodness, direct from Caprice Vineyards here in Medford, where their alpacas help with fertilizing the vines.
The good thing about alpaca & llama manure is that it is almost odorless and very dry. The NPK is fairly low 1.5-0.2-1.1 (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) so that means it won't burn plants if you applied it directly.
However since alpacas and llamas eat far less grass and hay to body weight compared to the other ruminants (cows, horses, sheep & goats) their manure is dense and really needs to be composted with other manures or with lots of mulch before being applied in the garden.
The other option is to add water and make a "tea" for plants while also breaking down the nuggets. Of course you can dig it in to the soil and just wait for it to decompose.
Since I have a bag of chicken poo-poo, I'll try combining them and adding some leaf mold, along with seed meal (alfalfa or compost starter) to speed up the process. I'll save it for the most pampered plants in my veggie garden...peppers and tomatoes.
Results in August!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I was determined to get this bed done this winter so it could "settle" before spring.Even with some 30mph winds and spits of rain, I donned my Polar Fleece and ear muffs and made a couple of forays into the tempest to lay "Eden Rock." This rock, at 9 cents a pound, is a cheap way to add some personality and texture to a very bland backyard. This bed took 600 lbs. I'll need about 400 lbs more to finish the back side.

I did a base course of the larger rocks to hold in the dirt and added the slimmer rock for the top. It only took me a couple of hours to do the took longer to did out the sod.

I filled the bed up with 9 cu ft of clay soil improver and 6 cu ft of "Harvest Supreme" with chicken manure, plus about 3 cu ft of the dirt I screened from the sod removal. I will also add in some leaf mulch before I plant. I'll have to wait until early spring to add the plants. It will get part shade, part sun once the maple leafs out in May. I'll try for a mix of candytuft, daylillies, blue creeping speedwell and some iris and some garden whimsey, of course. That will be the fun part.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Quite possible the best idea ever for cooks! These little nuggets of goodness are so just keep 'em in the freezer and pop them out of their compartments for a real flavor booster! I have them "imported" by Susan from the Chico Trader Joe' handy when you don't want to mess with the fresh stuff and a lot faster.

If the Dorot name sounds a bit peculiar it's probably because they come from Israel! Go figure! They come in Garlic, Basil, Cilantro and sometimes Parsley. Look for them in the frozen vegetable section at Trader's.


We had light snow flurries this morning so I whipped out the crock pot and made up a batch of split pea soup. Nothin says "snowed-in" like soup! Of course now it's sunny and the dusting of snow is but a memory...but I'm ready! They ARE predicting more snow today, tomorrow and all week. Good news for the skiers as Mt. Ashland has been closed awaiting more white stuff to cover the rocks.

I get these luscious ham hocks from Safeway...about 3-4" thick. Combined with dried peas, potato, carrot, celery, Leek Soup Mix, chicken stock and some seasonings.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


As if we hadn't spent enough time organizing the studio...we needed a scheme to rid ourselves of hundreds of Pentaflex hanging files full of papers for which we no longer have file cabinets...but how?

Mr. A is holding our of 25 or so plastic boxes that hold 8.5" x 11" paper with room for file folders as well. We spotted them at Home Depot...the closest Big Box store to our new location. At about $3.88 per box, it's a lot better than trying to store the big file boxes. Also we can label them so we can actually find stuff. A novel thought!

They have lids with easy to use blue hold downs and they stack. So we can say goodbye to the many cardboard file boxes that we've toted from location to location over the years. Did I mention that Jack is purging at least 50% of the scrap files he has collected from magazines since 1976? Artists need lots of photos of all kinds of things for doing drawings. A lot of what Jack had accumulated over the years is so dated that he needed to only keep a small portion...just in case he has to do a drawing based on the 1970's or 80's! Oye!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


We spent the last day of the old year and the first day of the New Year with heads down, butts up in the so-called studio...

When we moved in, we just threw stuff in this room because we didn't have the time or energy to organize it. Now...10+ months later we have redone the room and put up shelving units to hold all our office stuff. We can now stand to be in it for longer than it takes to check our email! Time for a glass of wine and a heating pad on the back!


We went to Grants Pass for a nice lunch by the Rogue River at the Tap Rock Cafe. The conversation got around to cars...our cars...and well, 2 days later we had traded in both our cars on a new Honda CRZ from the Grants Pass Honda dealer.

It is a hybrid and has lots of bells and whistles since we bought it off the Honda lot, one day after it had come in.

Now we're sporty and still have a nice hatch and room for most stuff we want to put in a car. And we still have the Subaru Brat truck for hauling and dump runs. Now we just have to get on the road for a trip...the farthest we went this year was a quick trip to Klamath Falls (75 miles one way). Maybe we'll even manage a trip to Chico this winter or spring! Could happen....