Thursday, May 31, 2007

Anemic Yard You Say?

These Mexican Sunflowers are third generation and have come back stronger than ever. There is a white picket fence in that mass of green and a statue of a lady, but of course they've been engulfed. My garden pathways are temporarily closed in places as well. The tallest plants in the back are well over the fence.

I'm waiting for the big bloom to happen. You can see spots of orange here and there, but when they get going full force the blooms will be profuse and the butterflies will be all over them. I can't wait to take another shot from the same perspective once the flowers are all out.

I think I'll do some gardening and take a few before and after shots of the beds I work on today. My green beans are up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Could Elliott be America's Next Top Male Model?

This is my gorgeous friend Elliott. What do you think ladies? Should I try to submit some photos of him to Oprah? ;)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whose a Good Puppy?

His name is Titan and his master is out for the evening teaching a class so I'm dog sitting. He only weighs about 110lbs and can just about look me in the eye when he is standing on his hind feet.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lazy Day

So it turned out to be one lazy day for me. I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon away. When I woke up it was 6pm already! Too late for me to go roller blade shopping...oh yeah, I have to buy new roller blades because mine are no where to be found.

Rain Rain Go Away...

I was totally excited about going to Inks Lake today but my dreams of more wildflower extravaganza were dashed this morning when I woke up and saw rain. I was still somewhat hopeful that there was still hope lol, thinking that maybe the trails were so much rock things wouldn't be too difficult. But after consulting with Thomas and listening to his voice of reason(which is sometimes not always what I want to hear), I realized there was no salvaging Inks Lake today.

So on that note, I'm heading back to bed because it is quite early, to catch a few more winks. Inks will have to wait...but in honor of it, check out this page and read all about my last adventure there.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Went for a Little Walk

The McKinney Falls all weather trail is handy on days when you know all the other trails are soupy from rain. It worked out well for us today...good photo ops. Tomorrow we head to Inks Lake. I can't wait to see if the wildflowers out that way are as spectacular as what we saw today.

Fully Open Wine Cup

Waist High


Nice Place You Got there Mr. Spider


The Susans

Forest Sentinel

Spectacular Color

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ben's Birthday

Tomorrow Ben turns five! I've got plans to wrap his presents, bake a cake, and decorate the house while he is out and about with his dad. We asked Ben where he would like to go for his birthday dinner and he isn't sure yet. I hope it's not Chuckee Cheese...but I won't hold my breath. In a couple of weeks we'll have a real birthday party for him that all his friends will be invited to.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oops a Little Late Today...

Ok, I have little to talk about really but it's raining outside right now and is lovely. I went out earlier and took a photo of a small narrow path between very tall sunflowers. Some of the plants are about 8 feet tall now. I can't wait for them to bloom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anastasia Takes a Little Nap

Can this be comfortable?

I took this through my glass door this morning so it's kinda poor quality.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yard Habitat

So here are some Mexican Sunflowers that are growing in my my back yard. They are taller than I am now but will get even taller before they start blooming like crazy. The butterflies should be back in force this year now that the sunflowers have been established and the butterflies all know where they are. I'm thinking I'll get second and maybe even third generation butterflies from my own yard too from cocoons that wintered over. Some of my host plants wintered over well too.

I seem to have several varieties of wild things growing and I don't know what they are. I've been letting things get a bit over grown since taking up backpacking but that's okay. A few days of hard work and I can get it all back into excellent shape. Fortunately some of the weedy stuff is actually kind of attractive to just seems more natural and I like that. I think I want my yard to heavily resemble our natural hill country landscape.

I already have several natives planted, but can use more. I've been considering the lawn and almost feel as if I want it gone and replaced with a total wildflower and cactus scheme. It wouldn't require watering and would provide much needed habitat. It will all have to happen slowly in stages though.

One more pic...I threw some wildflower seeds out sometime during the winter and I think this is one of the plants from that mix. I have no clue what this is. The big bushy thing in the back is sage. Most of what is shown are herbs, except for the grass and a couple of weeds.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'll Try... update my blog more often. Heh, one of my friends mentioned that I need to write everyday...apparently I'm on his blog circuit so I need to step up. ;) hint taken and I do actually have a new pic to share. I took it this morning in my garden.

My friend Jen gave this to me for my birthday last year. I suppose I wouldn't be a proper gardener without a gnome.

The Home Hike

Thomas and I walked his old route yesterday in downtown Austin. It was only five miles but we knocked it out in about an hour and 40 minutes. That was a little tough considering my activity levels this month have been way too low and I'm feeling out of shape already as a result. Time to get back on track.

The weather was very nice though and lots of people were out and about in our great town. No pictures from my camera folks...sorry. But Thomas did take a pic of a cute little squirrel eating a kid's left over push pop that it found. Maybe I can coax him into sending it to me so I can post it here.

Not much else to report other than my latest pair of hiking shoes worked out fairly well. They are made by Keen and are low tops. I'll take a photo at some point...

Hope everyone has a great day today!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thinking About Dusting Off the Roller Blades

Heh, I have to find them first...and the wheels probably need to be changed or tightened. But I'm ready to get back to it. It's been a good long while since I've seriously rollerbladed, so I'm sure it will take some time to get the foot muscles used to it again. I'm in for some pain but I miss zooming around on skates. Plus it will be excellent training for mountain climbing in Big Bend in the not too distant future.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Berry Picking

Keryn, myself, and Ben went out to Sweet Berry Farms today to pick blackberries and strawberries. The farm is located near Marble Falls Texas and took us about an hour to get to from Keryn's place in Cedar Park. The drive was incredible because of all the wild flowers ablaze on both sides of the highway. There were large fields of intense reds, and orange, and fields of yellow too. Some fields had mixed varieties of red, blue, yellow, white and pink flowers. On the sides of the highways the colors were usually mixed but occasional large clumps of one color would prevail. what ever the case, it was all stunning.

I had a wonderful time taking pictures of Ben happily picking berries. He liked going for the blackberries the most, probably because he doesn't like strawberries very well. Too bad because they are so unbelievably sweet and luscious. These berries are the real deal and are nothing like grocery store berries. It was a nice little field trip and we got to eat berries right off the vine as we picked. This is an organic farm from what I understand, and I believe it because the bugs were numerous! We had to fight them for the precious fruits. There were beneficials all over the plants too though which was a good thing.

The farm is going to be on our list of things to do during various seasons because they have other things planted for harvesting such as pumpkins, tomatoes, and potatoes. I think Ben will have a fantastic time digging for potatoes so we'll certainly return for that. What a great thing a local farm is. I plan on taking Ben to more of them this summer since there are plenty of them around Austin that offer educational opportunities for youngsters.
\On the way to the farm

Strawberry Fields Forever

What a bounty!

The most fun picking of all...lots of thorns and insects... but still fun!

Not Ready Yet

Friend of the Farm

Must ride the big plastic cow

Monday, May 14, 2007

Friedrich Wilderness on Mother's Day

Yesterday was mother's day and I enjoyed a nice little walk in the Friedrich Wilderness. Russell and the kids went to Fiesta Texas and I had the whole day to myself which was nice! It's rare I get true alone time...I'm usually with the kids, Russell, or friends.

The day started out with me getting up about five am. I rarely get up that early, but found myself wide awake. I decided to take advantage of it and watch the sun come up which is a favorite girlhood past time. listening to the birds wake up is always a treat and the peace of early morning is a unique time to be savored.

After about an hour of meditating on the back porch, I packed up my hiking stuff and headed to Thomas's for our ritual Sunday walk. Thomas has always picked me up no matter what direction we would be heading, but lately I've been giving him a break and driving to him when our destination is of a Southern direction since he is significantly South of me. This time we headed to San Antonio and ironically Friedrich was a rock throw away from Fiesta Texas.

After the walk, I came back home and had hours and hours in the house to myself. I could have done so many different productive many things to clean, organize, etc... but ended up watching a movie and drinking beer in my bed and being quite lazy. It wasn't a bad Mother's Day at all.

Wildflowers near the trail entrance...that's a hell of a bouquet for Mother's Day!

Close up of some very pretty purple wildflowers. No id yet...

Cute little bridge

The hike gets more interesting. Funny how I can appear to be totally in the wild, but Fiesta Texas is so close.

The path actually got tricky in places on descent

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Special Treat

When I was at the store the other day I found these giant strawberries. They smelled and looked so good I had to get them and dip them in chocolate. Often large strawberries don't taste as sweet and juicy as the small ones, but these were the exception.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

You Haven't Seen Me in a While

For you mom. If you are inclined feel free to send it on to Lynn. I bet she hasn't seen a picture of me in ages.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bastrop State Park

This Sunday's hike was at Bastrop State Park. We covered 8.5 miles of trail in three hours. I didn't bring my camera this time but wish I had since there were all kinds of fungus growing on the forest floor, each beautiful in it's own way.

Nothing much else to report other than I never really connected with nature on this walk. You'd think in 8 miles of walking I'd have plenty of time to do so, but we did it too quick. I was on a time crunch and had to be back in time for a movie, which turned out not so great...we went and saw Spiderman 3 and I was a bit disappointed in it. The special effects were good, but I slept through several parts with dialog and I never fall asleep in movies. Truth be told, I would have rather stayed on the trail longer.

Maybe I'll get more of what I need next time...and I'll try not to forget the camera.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's slow going but there is progress

I'm now the lowest I've weighed in probably 9 years or so and still losing. It's ever so slow though because I'm not dieting. Typically I'll lose five or ten pounds, then gain them back and hold onto the weight a while, then I'll lose that weight again and some. What's that saying? Three Steps forward, one step back? I guess that pretty much describes it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More Lake Fairfield Pics

Midday from the trail

Dawn Silhouette

New Wings Drying

Big Scary Flying Thing. It's actually called a "Bee Killer" and is a type of robber fly. They are predatory in nature but are not harmful to humans...thank goodness! Sorry for the blurry pic.

What's for Dinner?

I feel like whipping something up a little more gourmet tonight since I'm feeling creative and food has been a focus lately with all the flurry of learning the ropes of freezer bag cooking. I'm making roasted quail with a cherry sauce, and creamy mashed new potatoes with fresh garlic and fresh garden herbs. I also have some crusty Italian bread that would be nice lathered with olive oil and herbs. I may or may not toast it lightly. I could make a salad but considering I had little sleep last night I'm going to skip it.

Some ingredients for the cherry sauce. I've never made it before and didn't have a recipe, but this seemed like a good starting point.

First I seasoned the quail and seared it on high heat for about five minutes in grape seed oil.

Next I removed the quail and deglazed the pan with cooking sherry, then added shallots, salt, pepper, bing cherries, butter, and a splash of cranberry juice. I threw the quail back in and tossed the whole thing in the oven to brown the birds up a bit and finish cooking them.

The finished dish. The cherry sauce was divine and Russell liked it so much he wanted to know what else I could put it on. I'm thinking pork or duck might be good choices for next time.

Russell Rules

Russell is one of the hardest working men I know and absolutely devoted as a husband and father. He has always been my rock and best friend, and my life is so much better because of him. He is sweet, dear, loving, patient, forgiving, understanding, smart, funny, reliable, and always there for me when I need him.

Thank you honey for everything you do. I love you.