Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holy Crap! Snow!!

WTF?!? It's snowing outside! In Austin. On Christmas Eve! It's a Christmas miracle!! OK, so it's light snow and the ground is warm, so it won't stick, but it's snowing! Look (look close - it is really windy outside and the snow is mostly blowing sideways):

As I noted above, the wind is really tearing across the countryside today and it is freaking cold outside. The weather changes so quickly here. Just yesterday it was 73 degrees and the Redbud was thinking about blooming:

And the trees just started to lose their leaves for the winter. Yeah, in December. I know. It's weird. Shouldn't the leaves all be gone from the trees by October? Nope, not in Austin. I still can't get used to it. The leaves fall off at the end of December and start returning at the end of February or the very beginning of March. That is 2 months sans foliage. I mean, why even bother? Sheesh.

I took these photos 2 days ago when the leaves all started falling off the trees. All at once (again, so weird). Today, the wind has blown whatever leaves were left clinging to the branches off and away:

Only the orchid tree is stubbornly holding onto it's leaves today. It will stay semi-evergreen unless we have an ice-storm to freeze off the leaves. It, therefore, makes a great place for the resident birds to hide from the elements. The White-Crowned Sparrows are all huddled up in the orchid tree sheltering themselves from the winter chill:

Stay warm and Merry Christmas, and a Happy Winter Solstice everyone!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bloom Day - December 15, 2009

December bloom day and I have blooms! Whee!


Copper canyon daisy:

Lemon Blossom:

and Yarrow:

That's it folks. Happy December Bloom day!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caterpillars in the Flax

There are flax seedlings all over in my front flowerbed and so I went to pull them out the other day and what did I find? Tons of caterpillars hiding in the flax seedlings! I didn't have the heart to weed the seedlings and kill the caterpillars, so I left the flax for the caterpillars to forage in. Here are just a few in the field of flax:

The caterpillars are those of the Variegated Fritillary. They must snuggle up somewhere when it freezes, because they haven't been bothered by the recent freezing mornings. Soon I will have a yard full of beautiful butterflies.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Look at me being all Martha Stewart-y

First it was Lemon Curd, now Green-Tomato Chutney. And this weekend, I'm making a gingerbread house. I'm feeling very Martha Stewart-y. Here's the Chutney:

I used that Green Tomato Chutney recipe Lancashire Rose posted here. Wow! Is it good! Thanks for sharing Lancashire Rose!

Friday, December 4, 2009

All So Very Anti-climatic...

All week the local weather stations have been making a big old ta-do about the weather and all this snow we may receive, and, drumroll please.....

This was the monster snow-storm:

No, really, there is snow in the photo. Click on it to enlarge, and look very, very closely. There it is! Snow flurries! Yep - we ended up getting light snow flurries for about an hour and that was it. It was all very anti-climatic.

And I had my Snow Ice-Cream recipe all ready and waiting too.

Snow Ice Cream


8 cups snow
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place snow into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.

Oh well, No snow ice cream and no snowman for me. Guess I'll go purchase 3 sno-cones and stack them atop each other and pretend it snowed. Sigh.

Preparing for a Hard Freeze

The first Freeze of the season will be tonight and it is gonna be a hard freeze. 28 degrees they say. That means bring in the hanging plants, wrap the tropicals, and pick any green tomatoes.

I didn't realize I had quite so many hanging baskets. Sheesh. Usually I leave the geraniums and cyclamen outside if it is only around 32, but 28?, yeah they are coming inside. I clearly need to hang some more rods in the garage for them though as most of them are hanging off the ladder!:

The Meyer lemon is wrapped in christmas lights to keep it just a little bit warmer. I also will wrap it in a thick blanket and a big ol' frost cover:

And I brought in any green tomatoes as the freeze will abso-tively kill the plants tonight:

And what to do with the green tomatoes? The bigger ones will be fried up 'cause I LOVE me some fried green tomatoes!! And the rest, well, I think I am going to try making that green tomato chutney that Lancashire Rose posted here. It looks delish!

And I will wrap the Aloe Vera that is planted in the ground. It has been so warm the last couple of years that I was able to plant the aloe right out in the yard. It can't take a freeze at all, so I just wrap it up and usually only the tips will be damaged if there is a hard freeze. Plus, it is kinda sheltered by the fence and the Texas yellow bells that grew around it. The aloe is also about to bloom, so I will probably just pick the bloom stalk and bring it inside and put it in a vase. It will freeze outside, so I might as well just bring it in and see if it blooms.

Same goes for the Mexican Tuberose. They are about to bloom, so I am picking them today and bringing them in to put in a vase. They smell so nice and are so pretty:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Lemon Curd

The Meyer Lemon tree is heavy with lemons and that means it is time for lemon curd! Yum!

Nothing beats homemade lemon curd. The stuff at the store doesn't even compare. Put it on biscuits, scones, toast, or eat it just plain by the spoonful (I dare you to make some and NOT eat it by the spoonful!)

There are many recipes out there for lemon curd, but here's the recipe I use:

Lemon Curd:

6 Egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbls grated lemon zest

Strain the egg yolks into a medium, non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil (it could cause curdling).

Remove from heat and whisk mixture until slightly cooled. Stir in the butter, a piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the zest. While still warm, pour the mixture into hot, sterilized jars, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 pint.

You may also freeze it up to a year.

It is SO easy to make and totally worth the time to make your own. There's nothing better. Yum!