Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good-Bye 2016

Good-Bye and Good Riddance, 2016, you big wet stinky turd of a year. You sucked.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bugging Out II

For Wednesday Vignette, here's another shot of an insect that I took on a pre-frost, pre-snow tour of the garden several weeks ago, at the end of November -- a fly checking out the Sputnik-like blooms on the variegated Fatsia japonica. Just in case you're wondering -- no, I did not become the little old lady who swallowed a fly.

But after this Christmas, I may have become the little old lady who swallowed

Too. Many. Cookies.

Anna at Flutter & hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Long Time Ago in a Land Far, Far Away

At Christmastime, people often look back at previous Chrismases and share memories of people and events thst were fun. I thought I'd share a Christmas that happened when our son Iain was little.

We spent Christmas in England with Nigel's parents in 1985 when Iain was 3 years old. Here are  some photos from that Christmas day.

"Santa came!" -- Oops, sorry "Father Christmas came!"

"Open it, Dad!"

Sitting in Nigel's mum's lap

Playing with noisemakers on the stairs with Nigel's dad

About to pull a Christmas cracker

I don't know what they're both looking at, but they're very engrossed in whatever it is

I think back on that time now with incredulity. I was almost 30, and I had decided I wanted to know what an English Christmas was like, so that I could understand what kind of celebration my husband had grown up with. So we basically invaded my in-law's home for the entire month of December.

I am now the age they were then. I can't imagine what it would be like to have house guests with a young child running amok in my house for an entire month now that I'm in my 60s. I thought I was doing them a great favor, letting them get to know their grandson better, as he was being raised so far away in the U.S. I realize now how stressful it must have been for them.

Perspective is everything.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Carmen Miranda says "Season's Greetings"

My holiday cactus (not sure if it's a Thanksgiving cactus or a Christmas cactus) started blooming right after Thanksgiving. So I thought I'd share some photos of it for a quick little Christmas Eve post.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Happy Kwanzaa. Merry Chrismukkah. Happy Solstice. Happy Festivus.

You know what? Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I hope you have a happy one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday Vignette

For my Winter Solstice Wednesday Vignette I'm sharing some recent shots of frosty foliage that I took with my new point-and-shoot camera, a Christmas/birthday present. My old camera started acting wonky, taking forever to focus and shoot. Also, one of the buttons on it had gotten stiff and hard to shift. It was at least 8 years old, bought before we moved here to Washington.

Tetrapanax leaf looks like it's covered in frosty fur

Parahebe perfoliata and sugar impostor frost crystals

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette every Wednesday. Check out her post here, and make sure to check out the links of everyone in the comments.

Happy Winter Solstice! After today, as you probably know, the days start getting longer. More daylight is something worth celebrating!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Early Birthday Celebration

My birthday is coming up soon, so this past weekend Nigel and I went into Seattle to celebrate. We stayed overnight at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, where we stayed in a very nice suite with a sitting room and a separate bedroom.

Executive suite sitting room


View from the window of Puget Sound, the Olympic mountains, and part of the Pike Place Public Market sign

Once we had settled in, we went for a birthday dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse about 5 city blocks away, an old-fashioned steakhouse. I had an old-fashioned surf and turf -- a 6-ounce filet and two lobster tails, with Brussels sprouts and sweet potato casserole. We decided to forego dessert, and that was a good thing too. When we got back to our room, we found that they had been in for turn-down service, and rather than just leaving a single, wrapped chocolate on our pillows, they had left an entire plate full of a variety of delectable sweets.
Me attacking my dinner

Yummy tray of sweets

Nigel also managed to surprise me by sneaking a present into our suitcase without me realizing it. Just a little something, but it was fun to get a gift of socks.  I used to wear just plain white cotton socks, but recently started collecting and wearing colorful, creative and fun socks.

I've only recently started collecting and wearing fun socks

After a good night's sleep, we arose and went down to breakfast at the hotel's Georgian Restaurant, where I had steel-cut oatmeal with cinnamon sugar, Devonshire cream, and sliced banana, and Nigel had corned beef hash with two poached eggs, sweet peppers and Poblano verde with sourdough toast.

View from our table of the Georgian Restaurant

We followed up breakfast with a movie -- Rogue One at the Pacific Place Cinema. Some of you may know that Nigel works for The Walt Disney Company. One of the nice little perks is free movie outings to some of the biggest, newly released movies, like Rogue One, Moana, many of the Marvel movies, etc. Anyway, we enjoyed the movie, and it was a perfectly timed outing for celebrating my birthday!

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, checked out and came back home.

Saying good-bye to the Seahawks-bedecked brass cats outside the Fairmont Olympic doors -- it was very cold in town, the coldest night of the year, in fact!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

When I said in my recent post for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day that I didn't have anything flowering out in the garden, that wasn't actually true. I didn't realize it, but I had overlooked my Mahonia x media 'Charity.' The one nearest the house, that I can see from my TV room window, has turned mostly to tiny "Oregon grapes." But two others, that are out further in the back garden, are not quite as far along in their flowering state, which I'm sure the hummingbirds appreciate.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Foliage Followup -- December 2016

For Foliage Followup I'm sharing some shots of foliage that is not pretty, but, to my eye, interesting. I'm always intrigued at this time of year to actually find foliage that is dried up and crisp, rather than soggy, given how very much rain we get in the fall and winter. By rights, everything should be brown mush, and a lot of stuff is. But this red twig dogwood, which didn't get enough water this summer, turned dry early, and the leaves have been hanging on for a long time, refusing to drop off. They're curled up and twisted into such fascinating and kind of beautiful shapes.

Pam at Digging hosts Foliage Followup on the sixteenth of every month, the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out her post here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- December 2016

Right now, after our recent series of hard frosts and light snow, there is nothing flowering out in the garden on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Fortunately, there is a scant handful of flowers inside the greenhouse.

Echeveria 'Black Prince'

Echeveria 'Black Prince'

Old Lady Cactus Mammillaria hahniana
Technically not open yet, Begonia fuchsioides is about to flower, so I'm including it -- after all, who knows what will be going on in January?

Pelargonium sidoides hasn't stopped since I brought it into the greenhouse, but the finish line is near, I think

I repotted Iochroma 'Ashcott Red' when I brought it into the greenhouse, and it flushed out a new set of leaves and lots of flowers

Aloe 'Grassy Lassie' puts out a tiny flower, not open yet, but such an intense orange I had to share it

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of every month. Check out her post here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bugging Out I

This little cutie on the seedhead of a Verbascum ended up in the focus of my camera lens a couple of weeks ago, before our recent frost, while I was looking for something interesting to share for Wednesday Vignette. I wonder now if I should have captured her and put her inside the greenhouse. But I do occasionally use Neem Oil in there, because the close conditions encourage aphids, whitefly, and spider mites. So I left her to her own life cycle outside in the wilderness of the garden, where I never use chemicals.
"Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home..."

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

More Frost, Hoar Frost

Although technically none of my photos here are of hoar frost, which is thicker and "hairier" than this, the temptation to use the title of my post to make allusion to one of my favorite lines from the movie "Young Frankenstein" was too good to ignore.

For the last few days we've been in the grip of a cold snap, with our temperatures going down below freezing overnight and rising above during the day, resulting in a lovely rime of frost everywhere in the morning. One of the quirks of PNW weather is that when our temperatures plummet in winter, the rain stops and the sun comes out. I ran out on Wednesday morning with my camera to get some pictures before the sun completely melted the frost away, while it was still sparkling like stars. The sparkle was hard to capture, but I tried.

Golden morning sunshine

Tetrapanax leaf rimed with frost and speared through and through by Chaemerops humilis

Agave havardiana


Arctostaphylos shining in spots almost like it's flecked with minerals

Verbascum seedpods

Cacophonous mess of Achillea and Verbasum foliage

The curled-up needles of Abies koreana 'Silberlocke' already look like they are frosted on the underside





Frost on moss

I've seen deer in our neighborhood lately, but so far haven't seen them in my own garden. But there's evidence they've been around, in the form of cloven footprints embedded in the frozen soil, and at least one Itoh peony that looks like it's being chewed on. Do deer eat peonies? I thought they were poisonous.
Where deer? Here deer. Oh dear.

The cold snap is slated to end today with a doom and gloom forecast of a dreadful snowstorm. Are you wondering how much snow they're saying we'll get?

Two to four.


Yes, inches. I can hear you laughing.

I hope we survive. I'll probably be making Christmas cookies.