Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daffodil Field

We've been planting daffodils in this field for a long time.    This is the time of year when we're happy we did it.   


You may have to blow the pic to fully appreciate the site these daylilies have chosen to come up in.   There's a large colony coming up right through some asphalt down the way from us.  

A testament to persistence in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Just grow. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

It's Easter soon!    Yay!   I'm not a big fan of baskets of candy, or hard boiled eggs, but I love hot cross buns.  

Love them!

And they're easy to make, too, which is good because otherwise, forget it.   I'm sure you feel that way, too.  

Robin's Hot Cross Buns
  • 6 ½ C flour
  • 3 tsp cardamom or cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 1-2 ¼ C mixed dried fruit, chopped:  cherries, citrus, currants, raisins, craisins, apricots, etc. 

Mix all of that together in a large bowl [big enough to mix all the dough in]  leaving a well in the center and put it in the oven to warm up.   Use the lowest oven setting.   

  • ½ C butter
  • 2 C milk
  • 1 C sugar
  • 5 tsp yeast

Melt butter.  Take off heat.   Add milk.   The milk should warm up to skin temp quickly in the pan.   In another bowl, mix the dry yeast and the sugar well.   Add the sugar and yeast to the milk/butter mix and stir well.   Let sit until yeast dissolves.  

  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten.

When the flour mixture is good and warm and the yeast is dissolved in the milk,  pour the yeast mix and the eggs in the flour mix.  Roll to mix using a large spoon or your hands.   Roll until all the flour is incorporated into the dough.   If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.   If it is too dry, add  warm [not hot] water 1 tsp at a time until it is right.     Handle the dough as little as possible for tender bread.  

Cover bowl with damp cloth.  Let rise until double.

Pull dough out on floured surface.   Divide into 24 balls.   Set balls on greased baking pan close together but not touching.   

Let rise 30-45 minutes until doubled and touching.   Pre-heat oven to 500° F.

Egg Glaze: 
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tb milk
Cut surface of rolls in cross, brush with egg glaze. 

Traditionally the cross is put on before baking.  That's what I did.  OR  you can leave the topping off and put icing crosses on after they’re baked and cooled.  

Pre-baking Topping:

  • ¼ C flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3-4 T water
Mix well in bowl.   Spoon or pipe onto cross.   Put in oven and turn the temp down to 400°.   Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.


  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Monday, April 14, 2014

Muscle Tree

These trees always look very muscular to me.   It's an ironwood tree. Carpinus caroliniana - or the hop hornbeam.  They're very hard and were used to make ship parts. 

We have a lot of these in our woods.  They aren't very large, but they take a long time to grow.  I liked the moss on the bottom of this one.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Old Tires

I thought this pile of tires was rather sculptural.

It certainly brings up the question of what to do with old tires - there are a lot of old tires out here. Lots of them.    You'll be glad to know that this bunch did not get burned with the rest of the old shed that they were pulled out of. 

I don't know what the owners plan on doing with them, but I thought it might be fun to see what others do with old tires, so here is a list of links to projects using old tires.  You'll get a kick out of them.

Here is a list of images that came up in a search for 'project old tire'.  Amazing.

Here is a collection of ideas from Pinterest.  And here's another, even more fun  Pinterest board.

Check out the sculptures at the bottom of this post.

Here are some garden ideas.

This is one of the best lists of all - super creative things here.

And I loved the chairs and the climbing wall in this list.

Just a note:   From what I've seen and read, it is perfectly safe to grow food in old tires and that there is no leaching.  However, there are loads of people out there that are sure you're going to kill us all if you plant in tires.  Do your own research first, if you're nervous. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tree Crystals

OK, they're not really crystals, but the cellular structure of this fallen tree really reminds me of a square crystalline structure. 

It's a red oak.   Blow the pics up for a better look.

The white is a fungus - spalting - between the layers of wood.

The tree fell in a mighty wind this winter.  It had been rotting for a long time and you could see right through it at the bottom. [See top link]

It's an interesting way to see wood.  Not like looking at boards or firewood at all. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

At last

We've planted hundreds of daffs over the years.   They're finally up and blooming this year.  Such a relief.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Woodpecker Tree

Something's been working this dead tree over.   I'm guessing a woodpecker, but if you recognize that this artwork is from something else, shout it out in the comments.   I've been wrong before.

Must be something really tasty in the center of this tree. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Cows at the End of the Road

These are the cows at the end of the road, where we turn around and head back home on our daily walk.   There are a bunch of calves with them now and while we watched a dozen or so decided to play a game of tag.  They chased each other around for a while while the adults just watched.  

I moo-ed a loud greeting.   They ignored me. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


There is a small section of woods at our property boundary where we hear owls quite frequently and where last fall we even watched one for a while.

Last week we saw what we thought was a large owl or maybe a hawk fly down this draw and alight on a branch in the dead center of this photo.   I snapped the pics [no telephoto...] and couldn't wait to get them home to blow them up to see what this bird was.

Indeed it was a large owl.   This is a barred owl, staring straight at us.  

Owls are a very different type of bird to watch.   Other birds may be still, but they are very active in their presence.    If you know what I mean.   Owls are .....very still. 

And when they get going, they are very noisy.   Barred owls' typical call is 'Who cooks for youuuu?  Who cooks for youu-alll?'   But they can also sound like monkeys hooting and calling.  Seriously.   It's weird and creepy in the dark. 
Lily and I heard a couple of these guys calling each other in this thicket last fall at dusk and it'd make your hair stand on end.

Like coyotes, only ghostlier. 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology [] has some recordings:  Here. Go to the Sound tab in the bottom section.

We also get other owls, like these adorable little eastern screech-owls [which don't really screech, they tremolo and whinny].    And the occasional great horned owl.  We also might get barn owls, but they hiss, so the call is difficult to hear over the other night sounds like cicadas and crickets.   It's noisy here at night.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big Stump

I pass this stump every day on my walk.   It has been decaying for a long time and the textures are wonderful.

Blow it up and wander around the photo for a while.   Imagine you're looking at a mountainside.  The crags and crevices are something else.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More Squill

More squill.

Because it's pretty.

The world needs more pretty.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Asparagus Bed

They look sort of like a handful of dried mini-squid, but really it's a handful of dormant, bare-root asparagus plants. We got 24 plants of Martha Washington asparagus and put them in their new home last week.

[This will be a permanent spot for the asparagus.   I'll load it up on chicken dirt in the fall.] 

First I dug the bed over well to loosen the soil, then we dug three trenches longways in the bed - about 8 inches deep.    Then we opened the roots out and put the plants in.  

Then we covered the plants over lightly with about 6 inches of soil - leaving the rest in hills between the trenches.   When new growth appears, we'll cover them the rest of the way and plant some parsley, basil and some mixed flowers in there for company.   

Doesn't look like much now, but it should be gorgeous in July. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Red Flat Bark Beetle

This guy showed up on my steps this week and that bright color caught my eye right away.    It's a Red Flat Bark Beetle - Cucujus clavipes

Turns out they are a species with extreme freezing tolerance.   Which explains why it's one of the few bugs we've seen this spring. 

Except for the flies.   And those horrible Asian ladybugs.  Both of which will survive the next global apocalypse, I'm sure. 

Anyway, this red guy survives the cold by utilizing a series of antifreeze proteins in its body.   Cool! 

or rather....Cold!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Siberian Squill.

I just love it.   

I love the color.   Blue, blue, blue with that purple tinge on the stems.  

Love. It.

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