Tuesday, July 31, 2007

pizza adventure

Nary a soul loves pizza more than I do and I've been working on perfecting my home made pie. This weekend I got a "peel" and some quarry tiles to put on the oven bottom to see if it would give me a better crusted pizza.

I have a dough recipe I really like (Wolfgang Puck) so I made it up and spread it on the peel. I tried to keep it dry and loose so it would slide off.

Alas, my fresh sauce was too runny and I knew as soon as I put it on that it was sogging the dough and it would never slide off the peel. Drats! Two attempts to get it into the oven proved that I was just going to toss the toppings all over the oven, so there I stood with a superhot oven, a dough-y pizza on a huge peel and nowhere to set it! Yikes!

I finally got the peel propped onto the stove and used a spatula to roll the pizza up like a burrito, toppings and all, and unroll it back onto a pan. Pretty messy, but a recovery nonetheless. Daggone sauce.

It did take the peel to get the pie onto the tiles so low, but was pretty easy since the pizza was on a sturdy pan. Hmmm... this could work.

The thing that turned out best was the crust bottom - nice and browned like I wanted.

So it was a good enough tasting pizza, but the dough was too thick, the sauce too runny. I think I can do it better the next time.

cleanup in aisle 2...

Actually, the cleanup was in my back yard this past weekend. I have very big old trees in my yard and the Ash drops branches like crazy. I'll have to have it looked at soon before it does some real damage to my house or my neighbor's, but I came home Friday to find another limb down. Fortunately it fell between the gas lamp and the mosaic pot. Phew!

Another view shows that it went right up onto the back porch, which meant I had to go out the front door and around to have a look at it.

Saturday morning I spent about an hour and a half trimming off all the small branches, cutting them up and bagging them into empty mulch bags. Sunday morning I got out the Gator and made quick work of the large branch. What a tool that is! It only took about 20 minutes and it paid for itself just with this cleanup job. Wow!

And in case you're wondering, it's the Alligator Lopper by Black and Decker. It has really helped me get my yard cleaned up!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

oh, how I love zinnias!!

honestly, there is a special place in my heart for old-fashioned zinnias...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

more of the garden

Honestly, I cannot get over my garden this year! Every day I rush home from the job to enjoy it or to work in it and I could not tell you the last time my television was on. And I am seriously neglecting the computer as well! But that is a good thing when the weather is pleasant and your attention is diverted to the outside. Right on schedule, the daylilies are blooming in July...

And I have been anxious to post my new play area for the grandkids. It took some thinking ahead of time and then I was able to install it in a couple days. I moved some large logs from an old firewood pile to create a back "wall" for the play area and then put down a bed of gravel as a base. Along the logs are bins for sand, gravel and various toys that the kids like, all with lids to keep the contents dry. The "floor" of the play area is a large checkerboard made of 6" pavers, half of which were spray-painted black and all laid into the gravel base. Naturally, I had to teach the grands to play checkers (and they aren't all old enough yet to enjoy the game) but they LOVE this play area.

Another view...

I enlisted the kids' help of course, since it IS their play area, to make some signs. I suggested to AJ, the 8 year old, that he might want to make a sign that says "kids only" but he ammended that to say "KIDS and NONNA only" ("Nonna" is me - Italian for "grandmother") as well as "No adults unless invited". Isn't it just perfect??? Oh - and it was his idea to call the area the "PLAZONE". Even though he is only eight, he is into creative spelling and told me that he purposely left the "Y" out of the word "PLAZONE" since it would "read well" with just a "Z". I agree, and even though I do have a degree in design, I think he is WAY ahead of himself at age eight. He also instructed me to attach the signs to the stake at an angle so they would look like they had been made by "real kids". Of course, I did! Makes a Nonna proud!

There really is a path through the wooded part of the yard behind the play area, so Josey made a sign pointing to the Secret Path. She is my little princess and did a wonderful job, don't you think??

And here are a couple more photos of the sitting area. This year I put a glorious hibiscus into the huge mosaic pot and I will try to winter it over when cold weather comes.

And the cobalt blue pots are just delightful. Every evening the solar lights come on at dark and make little glowing spots in the dark. I cannot express how much enjoyment I get from this garden each and every day. If I'm not out in it, I'm looking out the window at it, so I enjoy it from every angle. How fun! Thank you, God, for blessing me in this way!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

life in the garden...

This summer, life so far has been all about yardwork for me. After several years of being unable to do my yardwork, I totally delight in spending several hours PER DAY working in the garden. I've been too busy to post here, but will try to catch you up on the local events. First, one of the new gardens I installed this year is the Bird Hotel. Lots o' birdhouses, many adorned with stars, grace my biggest tree - an Ash that I hope will not succumb to the borer that is invading this area. Keep in mind that my garden is an Artist's Garden, not for the finicky type...

Also this year, I put out a few tomato plants and they are doing quite well! Look at these little beauties just waiting to be part of a salad next month!!

This evening there was a very busy butterfly gracing the coneflowers. She did not seem to be shy and so I got a photo of her.

Meanwhile, the hummingbird that generally frequents this feeder was sipping nectar when I sat down with my camera. Alas, my noise scared the little hummer away. He/she is a tiny thing with a ruby throat that I hope to capture on film soon. But this evening I sat and waited and waited and it did not return. Maybe next time...

And this is the absolute ultimate - I have a Chain Saw!! You do not know how amazing this is, but I have purchased this little gem and have been clearing the brush off the back of my property for weeks. What a beast of a tool! Makes a woman proud! And powerful!!! Yeh!!! Don't mess with me, ya hear???