Back-yard Garden & Yard Design Ideas

It’s almost April and I probably should have been thinking about this much earlier (actually the thinking was being done…just not the action!), but I really want to put in a garden this year.

We bought our house in the Fall of 2006. It was built in 1915 ~ we have a very large front & side yard, but a small back yard. There is a covered patio and an area that was full of rocks. We removed the rocks last summer and I started prepping the dirt for sod. My thinking at the time was for half sod and half raised garden. But then I started thinking (very bad thing for me sometimes)…we have a crap-full of grass out front, maybe I’ll lay pavers and still put in my raised garden. And along the side fence (next to the church) ~ plant berry bushes!

backyard prep
(yes…I know I can rent a tiller ~ but I really need the exercise!)

My garden at the old house looked something like this ~

I don’t want the box so big this time…thinking of at least two long thinner ones, with room to walk in between the two.

These are pretty cool…only not squared ~

So I guess the question is ~ to sod or to pave? What are your thoughts?

Wild Kitty Pictures

Thought I’d end Friday on a good note and post some pictures of feral kittens that were in our yard in 2006. You can see them all at my WEBSHOTS ALBUM ~ Wild Kitties in the Backyard 5/2006.   See you on Monday!

Barefoot Contessa Mushroom Lasagna & HDMI Woe’s

Tried a new recipe last night…and then wanted to push my husband down the stairs.  🙂

First the recipe!  ROFL! 

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna by Barefoot Contessa, 2006

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
4 cups whole milk
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms
1 cup freshly ground Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

So ~ just to let you know…I don’t follow recipes very well. I read through them and then tweak ’em like crazy. Below is what I did differently and I’ll let you know if it was a good choice or not!

Noodles same ~ LOL!

But for the mushrooms I bought a package of big steak mushrooms, portabellini, shiitake, and baby browns…and closer to 2 pounds. To the mushrooms I added one yellow onion from the Peri & Son’s farm in Yerington, NV, garlic and a whole large bag of spinach. Threw in a sprinkle of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, the following dried herbs: parsley, basil, thyme, and one other that TOTALLY escapes me at the moment.

The sauce…holy cow that makes a lot of sauce. I did the unsalted butter but instead of whole milk did the 1% milk. I think that was a mistake. Took me over 20 minutes for that puppy to thicken! And I added shredded Parmesan to it! Oy vey! I would seriously say to cut the sauce recipe in half if you are cooking for two people. I did NOT add 1 TBSP of salt ~ who in their right mind adds that much salt to a recipe???!!! With the Parmesan cheese I did not add any salt at all. Just fresh ground pepper and no nutmeg either.

I used my oval deep dish Pyrex casserole ~ I collect old Pyrex and glasbake (another post someday)…so I used it instead ~ makes four layers! 😀 I also only used 1/3 of the sauce. And added low-fat mozzarella cheese in-between the layers and topped it with the Parmesan.

Very tasty! Served it with a salad and warmed french bread. Husband had two helpings.

On to the HDMI WOE’S:


How can a man be so inept with electronics? How come I’m the one who has to read through the freaking instruction books that came with the TV, DIRECT TV and HOME THEATER SYSTEM?! Why was he so cheap when we bought the TV to not buy the HDMI cables?! And I kick myself for “giving in” and listening to him.

So…a week or so ago he starts to complain cuz he can’t listen to XM’s Boneyard in surround sound…it just comes out of the internal TV speakers. Mind you we had Direct TV hooked up in January! And now he’s complaining. And he wants ME to fix it now. ME. Not him. But ME.

After googling for directions on how to connect the TV and Direct TV into the HTS ~ printing off as many directions as possible. Reading through said directions…picking out the TOP THREE easiest, most straight-forward directions…highlighting and scribbling notes and referring to ALL THREE MANUALS. I think I can hook everything up. NEEDS: 2 HDMI Cables, 1 Digital Optical Audio Cable and 1 Red/White Cable.

Digital Audio Direct TV OUT to HTS IN
Red/White to somewhere! LOL! Auxiliary I think.

Tonight is THE night! I bought all the cables and will unplug what is there now and with GOD on my side I WILL HAVE THAT DAMN THING UP AND RUNNING!

Where’s my Guinness?!


I DID IT!  That one guy’s directions were perfectly clear and worked like a charm.  Gonna have to find that post again and give him a HUGE THANK YOU!  🙂 

Lots of New Books! Metalcrafts, Quilting & Jewelry

Oooohhh!  A VERY HAPPY DAY is  getting books in the mail!  And I received a lot yesterday!  Five books for $25 ~ that included the shipping.

THE BORDER WORKBOOK by Janet Kime.  Easy Speed-Pieced and Foundation-Pieced Borders ~ 10ty Anniversary Edition.  2006.

I normally just add sashing type or flying geese borders to my quilts ~ so I picked this one hoping it would inspire me to add prettier borders to my future quilts! 🙂 The borders included are ~ Easy Braid, Log Cabin Spiral, Flying Geese, Tilted X, Kitty Faces, Eeek! Mice!, Spinning Stars, Sawtooth, Double Sawtooth, Stacked Strips, Checkerboard, Paw Prints, Stacked Bricks, Squares on Point, Beads on a String, Small Dogtooth, Large Dogtooth, Folded Ribbon, Shaded Squares, Arrows, Zigzag, Side-by-Side Hearts, Vertical Hearts, Speed-Pieced Braid, Diamonds and Accordion Pleats.

From what I’ve seen by just flipping through the book ~ Nice layout and easy to read instructions.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL BEADED JEWELRY by Heidi Boyd. 50 Quick and Easy Projects. 2006.

This is a nice book ~ easy to read layout with good introduction on findings, materials, tools and techniques. But it probably isn’t a book I would have bought if I was able to thumb through it at a bookstore. Very good book for a beginner ~ I’m not a beginner. I may pass this one onto my my sister and my soon-to-be 8 year old niece to use.

I picked the right one as this book is loaded with good ideas and tips. Lots of pictures and very good directions and explanations. This book is mainly for lead-free low temp soldering ~ if you are jumping right into silversmithing you may want to skip this, but then maybe you wouldn’t. As I said…great foundation of learning this art. It would make the transition into using silver easier, me thinks…

Introduction has Project Tools and Materials ~ tool setup, glass cutting area, soldering tools, tools for beading, finishing tools, soldering materials, bead materials, art materials. A few words about safety. Lots of projects.

METAL CLAY THE COMPLETE GUIDE by Jackie Truty. Innovative Techniques to Inspire Any Artist. 2007.

Not really sure why I picked this book up other than the fact that it fascinates me that metal clay can look like traditional silver and gold jewelry! I may play with this later on down the road.

With metal clay there is no initial preparation with wax, no sprues, no investment, no burn-out, no melting of metals, no vacuum or centrifugal casting. If you prefer, there’s no soldering of any kind. Molding, carving, drying, sanding, firing and polishing metal clay are the only steps involved. Best of all, everything in metal clay prior to firing is recyclable into more clay and paste, ready for reuse. That’s not to say that mastering metal clay techniques is easy, but the time, money and product investments are far less than those associated with traditional metalworking.

HOME & GARDEN METALCRAFTS by Jana Ewy. Included 15 easy-to-make Projects. 2002.

This is one of the books that Sue of Perpetualplum sent me with a bunch of others in trade for soaps.

I’ll be using this book ~ lots of great ideas for outdoor artwork, lamps and other stuffus made of copper.

I Played Hooky Yesterday!

Didn’t even tell my husband…got up at the regular 4:30 am, got dressed…but then said I was going to eat breakfast at home instead of at work.  Then he left for work and I got back into my sweats and dug out my butters and oils to make a batch of soap!  Hee!    He had no clue…I hate when he knows I have a day off as I always end up running HIS errands and never get anything done that I took the day off for in the first place.

So!  I made cold processed Raspberry Lemonade Salt bars and I had an order for Oatmeal Milk and Honey solid lotions and two regular lotions ~ finished all by 8:30 am. 

Here is the Raspberry Lemonade salt soap bars (the box that my friend Sue mailed books in made an EXCELLENT soap mold!) before cutting them.  These have to be cut sooner than my regular soap as coconut oil and salt make for a harder bar.  I used coarse Dead Sea Salts and fine Pacific Sea Salt in this batch ~ along with colloidal oatmeal.  The oils used were Sunflower, Castor, Jojoba, Palm & Coconut.  Butters used were Shea, Cocoa and Mango.  Then I swirled with ultramarine pink.  Berry Berry Pretty if I say so myself!  Smells great too.   This will be ready in about 3 weeks…they cure faster then the regular soap.

I made my first salt bar last year and used Pineapple fragrance oil…came out pretty good. Just couldn’t sell any of it ~ which is ok as I make all my soaps as if I’m the only one going to use it. That way if it doesn’t sell, I’m happy as can be using it. I love the salt bar in the shower…makes my skin nice and soft. Doing wonders on my face too…those “monthly” pimples are gone gone gone! I hate being 41 with pimples! Patooey! 🙂

After 1/2 hour on the elliptical I headed to the Sparks Library to check some silvermithing books that Sue of PERPETUALPLUM recommended for me to read…found those, plus another that looked really interesting.

Speaking of Sue…she sent me four books in trade for some of my soaps, lip balms and room sprays. Received those in Monday’s mail. I really like the metal crafts book…will probably pass on the Tinwork books.

Anyone still do puzzles?! They are so addicting ~ like eating a whole bowl of popcorn. Started one Monday night and worked on it yesterday too. This one is a Charles Wysocki puzzle ~ Hellraisers on Halloween Night…my favorite time of the year! 🙂 It was a .50 cent puzzle from Thrift Depot in Sparks.

Spent the rest of the afternoon out front in the lounge chair soaking up the sun reading JEWELLERY AND SILVERSMITHING TECHNIQUES by Carles Codina.

Easter 2008 Weekend

We had a beautiful weekend here in Northern Nevada!  70 degrees and sunny on Easter Sunday ~ Who’d thunk it!?

Spent some time at Rancho San Rafael Park on Saturday throwing horse shoes (miserably I might add…more so than usual for me!), walking , taking pictures, and winning a game of cribbage.

I made that Christmas Ham of Paula Deen’s for Easter…love the orange marmalade & Dijon Mustard glaze…could have gone without the crust.  Next time just the glaze.  Very tasty ham.  The Mushroom & Asparagus salad that was in Raley’s Something Extra was VERY GOOD! 

After church I made a mad dash to mom’s house to see the kiddo’s and my BIL’s sister’s daughter…Brooke is a cutie. 

Some pictures from the weekend ~ First two from my front yard; rest from Rancho San Rafael park near UNR.

Grow Dammit! Simon has NOTHING on Rufus

Easter Bunny Ranch San Rafael Rancho San Rafael
Just love duck butts!  Sooooo Cute!

Easter pics of Nathan, Brooke and Hannah ~

Nathan with Brooke Hannah & Brooke

Paula Deen’s Christmas Ham for Easter

NOTE: Since I see a lot of people looking up this recipe I thought I’d let you know how it turned out. The ham with the marmalade/mustard rub was EXCELLENT ~ very tasty. BUT ~ personally, I’d leave off the crust. Or at least use a pie crust instead, as the crescent rolls kept sliding off the ham!

I was watching Paula Deen on the Food Network last Christmas and drooling over her CHRISTMAS HAM recipe…only we were invited over to the in-laws for Christmas and I didn’t get to make it! So, guess what I’m making for Easter!?! 🙂

Also will be making scalloped potatoes and from Raley’s Something Extra Spring 2008 magazine, MUSHROOM & ASPARAGUS SALAD.

More Copper Do-Dads

Yep…still playing with copper wire and my hammer. 

Instead of soldering the heart I just wire wrapped it.

I’d like to oxidize the piece so the next step is to head to the library ~ my friend Sue of Unique Re-tiques, told me to look up The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals by Richard Hughes & Michael Rowe. So after work, I’m heading to the Sparks Library.

Walk When the Moon is Full ~ Frances Hamerstrom

I picked up a wonderful book at our local Goodwill bargain book bin last night for fifty cents! 

Walk When the Moon is Full  by Frances Hamerstrom and illustrated by Robert Katona, 1975.

Each chapter was written on the appropriate night of the full moon ~ (from the Introduction):

This story is about two real children, Alan and Elva, who called their father Hammy and their mother Fran. They lived on a 240 acre farm in Wisconsin and longed to go exploring at night.
Elva, the younger, like to climb trees. Animals trusted her to come very close and her keen ears heard the faintest sounds.
Alan had a small but sensitive nose that found and remembered smells, just as his mind remembered facts. He liked to find things out.
Fran promised the children that she would explore with them twelve times – every month when the moon is full – for a whole year. Then Alan laughed, “The moon is full thirteen times a year.”
Each time they walked in the moonlight they found something new.
This book has thirteen surprises.

How it Began ~

Both children where in their pajamas for it was supposed to be the quiet time before they went to bed. Alan was looking at a book, but Elva had been standing at the window for a long time peering into the night.

Alan put down his book and went to the window too…At last he turned to his mother and sighed, “Do we have to go to bed early every single night until we are old?”

Fran set her mending aside and looked out the window…at last she repeated Alan’s words softly, “…every single night until we are old?”

Then she said, “No,” in a faraway tone. Both children looked up at the sound of their mother’s voice. “Why should children go to bed early every single night until they are old? I say, ‘No!'” “The moon is full. Put on your sweaters and snow pants and overshoes. You can pull them right over your pajamas. Find your mittens. I think they are drying by the stove with mine. Just a moment, I’ll tell your father we are going for a walk.”

“A walk! A walk in the moonlight!” the children shouted.


I read most of the book last night before bed…following all of their adventures during the full moon. Deer, owls, sledding, sweet maple sap in icicles, woodcocks, white cockle flowers ~ and flowers that go to sleep at night, fireflies, foxes and weasels.

Then I smiled and thought back to all the times my sister and I did things at night! Some times by the full moon other times it was much scarier WITHOUT the moon! 🙂

CARPINTERIA STATE BEACH ~ near Santa Barbara, Ca.
This beach is a treasure trove for kids of all ages ~ we camped there every June for years! Tide-pools, great beaches, lots of swimming, hiking, exploring, tar to get stuck to the bottoms of your feet…we kids had a great time night and day there. I still remember getting up at night with our flashlights heading down to the beach for the grunion runs! What a sight to behold for a kid!

Still remember to this day the time all of us kids were bubbling with excitement ~ fireworks in Yosemite! The ranger leading us all at night to a meadow…we all laid on our backs to watch…Nature’s fireworks! WHAT?! LOL! We all received a lesson on the stars ~ beautiful and we all stayed excited, even at the first disappointment of no kaboomie fireworks.

Another favorite place to camp when a kid ~ and when we went camping there were always no fewer than 4 kids ~ mostly up to 12 of us from the different families that came along. Calico was a great place for us to run around. Nighttime was a favorite…cemetery, campfires, scaring the bejesus out of each other in the adits, pretending we were cowboys.

Guess I should stop here…otherwise this post will get too long.  🙂 

Here is to all of you parents letting your children stay up and explore by the moon!

Another Snowy & Cold March Weekend in Sparks, Nevada

We had another cold weekend ~ it SNOWED on Saturday night. Was inside and noticed an eerie white light from outside…looked out and saw it snowing with accumulation on the ground. Patooie! Windy and cold all weekend. Grrrr.

So, we hit the thrift stores, antique malls, and I cooked and crafted.

FOOD ~ even though I’ve been trying to lose weight (63 pounds so far)…I love to cook, and have been adapting recipes for healthier eating.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it just best to leave the fat in.  LOL!

I picked up the new Spring 2008 Something Extra (Raley’s, Belair, Nob Hill grocery chain) magazine last week and made a shopping list.  If you haven’t ever looked at their free magazine YOU HAVE TO!  OMGosh there are some GREAT recipes in that magazine! 

Page 51 ~ Asparagus Egg Crepes! Made them for breakfast Saturday morning. Yummy!

I made cheese blintzes with fat free ricotta and cottage cheese…topped with blueberries and Yoplait’s fat free lemon yogurt for breakfast on Sunday.  Even my husband liked those.   For dinner last night I made pork-chops (that were marinated in garlic herb), salad, and on page 27 ~ Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Pizza Puff.    Very scrumpious!

Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Pizza Puff ~ pg. 27 Spring 2008 Something Extra

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
2/3 cup artichoke heart wedges
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan
2 tbsp quartered, pitted kalamata olives
1-1/2 tbsp roasted garlic
2 tbsp snipped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold pastry and place on baking sheet sprayed with PAM; roll or press to make slightly larger. Fold edges in 1/4 inch, then fold again to form an edge. Top with cheese then rest of ingredients except basil. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool, top with basil.

I used low-fat cheese; instead of Parmesan I used low-fat feta; added more tomatoes, artichokes and olives; fresh garlic instead of roasted. And added mushrooms.

Will be making the Mushroom & Asparagus Salad (page 27) for Easter Dinner (along with Paula Deen’s Christmas Ham recipe).

I worked on a hammered wire heart piece. It’s not copper wire as I didn’t want to waste that on my practice pieces. I free formed the heart and spiral, hammered it, then added on a red glass bead and a metal bead from a necklace I bought at the swap meet last week. I soldered it together at the top curve of the heart…my first attempted at soldering. I’m waiting for a book to come in the mail on soldering…can’t wait!

Then I found a necklace I had made a couple of years ago that I didn’t like the green beads in it…took it apart and just used the purple matte 11/0 seed beads and purple bicone Swarovski crystals…then I added a magnetic clasp, which is pretty cool ~ like those! Much easier for my numb ct fingers to handle! I have a silver Celtic Thistle Heart pendent that is the focal of the necklace.


Got my hair cut…it’s an above the shoulders bob. Always let my hair grow out and then two years later…whack it off. LOL!

Sold all the Sugar Easter Eggs. Will have to make more next year.

Picked up a very pretty little silver-plated box (am thinking it’s a pill box ~ round) with a silver Thistle that has a purple crystal as the flower part. Cleaned up right nice!

Made an appointment for my mom, sister, my 8 year old niece & I to have a pedicure & manicure (belated Christmas present)…we’ll have it next Monday when Hannah is on Easter break.