Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Fall Garden and Some of My Favorite Harvest Recipes

I am sad to say this will be the last garden post of the year.  Since most of these pictures were taken, we've already had a frost and almost all the flowers are now gone and have been cut down for the winter.  😢. The growing season is always over too soon isn't it? Well, let's say "Farewell to My Garden" shall we?

In a well planned out perennial garden, even when there are no flowers, there should always be a lot of interest.  I always keep large pots of flowers in my gardens so when there are no perennials in blooms, the potted annuals still provide some color.  I also like to leave my Hosta leaves up for the winter and not cut them back to the ground.  I think when the leaves change colors, it is so pretty.

I love to sit on this bench in my garden.  You can't see it in the photo, but it overlooks a river.  It's so peaceful sitting here.  There is a waterfall below, and you can hear the sound of the falls so beautifully.  

This is one of my many shade gardens looking back up at the house.  The white fenced in area is my vegetable garden.

Berries on bushes provide a lot of color and interest in the fall garden when the flowers disappear.  I love the appearance of these purple berries.

This bush has gorgeous red berries that the birds love to eat.

I've never been one of those gardeners to hurry and cut everything right to the ground in the fall.  I cut down the "ugly" know, the spent blooms or anything that gets nasty looking after the last frost, but if something is still green, I leave it. This hillside is filled with bushes, hollyhock, sedum, hosta, and iris.

I was so happy to see this shade plant in bloom.  It grows right near my wood line and the deer usually chop it to bits.  The funny thing is I was recently in the garden, and I found the plant chomped to bits again. They must have got to it after the picture was taken.  Oh well, at least this year I saw it in bloom once!  

Sorry, but I can't remember the name of this plant for the life of me and I can't find it on-line either. Does anyone recognize it?

I shared this annual vine in last month's garden post, but it's so spectacular I had to mention it again.  I tried this plant for the first time this year and I loved it!  It's a winner all around.  Even my husband commented on it and exclaimed how much he loved it!  The foilage alone is worth growing the plant for.  It has a purplish green leaf, which is so lovely.  But to make it even better, it has a delicate purple sweet-pea type bloom, and then these blooms make the most amazing purple seed pods. Win, win all the way!  I saved a lot of seed pods to grow this plant next year.

Here are some close ups of the flowers and seeds pods.  Aren't they just amazing?  I seriously can't say enough good things about this plant.  It even grew in part shade!

Another great annual vine I tried this year was this orangey Black Eyed Susan Vine.  I've grown this vine before, but it never grew this well before.  I wasn't sure if it was because of the unique variety I bought, or if it was  because we had a hot summer for a change.  Anyway, it was another winner and I will definitely be planting it again next year!

I LOVED the way it naturally climbed my house and wrapped itself around the base of the porch pole.

It seriously did this all by itself.  I could not have trained it to grow so perfectly. Such a gem of a plant.

And the rusty orange/yellow flowers are simply stunning.

My front garden annual bed did pretty well this year too, especially since it was just a hodgepodge of plants and colors.  This year I cut my Sedum Autumn Joy in half so it wouldn't fall over like it has done all the years before. Most of the plants did much better, like the one below, but some STILL fell over,  I don't know why I have this problem with this plant. I go to other botanical gardens and they all seem to stand upright quite well. 

Here is a close up of the sedum Autumn Joy.

And now onto the vegetable harvest.  It was another great year.  My favorite thing to grow is the peas.  They taste so good!  I love to even eat them raw, just like this.  I try not to, because once I start munching on them, I can't stop, and then there aren't much left to cook with. 😂 I think peas are just the cutest vegetable!

Last year I planted two different types of beans and we had so many beans we haven't even finished eating all the beans from last year (I have just a few bags left in the freezer).  So this year, I planted half the amount, and I still ended up with a lot.

My carrots did a lot better this year than they did last year.  I moved them to a different location where they had more room to grow.  

We enjoyed our homegrown potatoes so much last year, that we doubled the amount this year. I don't know what it is about potatoes, but they taste so much better when you grow them at home than the ones you buy at the store

Pictured below is just one bushel of my red potatoes. I filled this container twice with red potatoes and then I also have two bushels of Yukon Gold potatoes (not pictured),

Now I'll share some recipes I tried that helped me use up all my extra vegetables.  Like most gardeners, I had more zucchini than I needed.  Last year I froze a lot, but I didn't want to do that this year.  I planted a lot less, but I still had too much and ended up having to freeze just a little.  I saw this Cheddar and Chive Zucchini bread on Facebook and I decided to try it.  It looks better than it tastes.  I didn't really like it.  It was very "heavy" and dense.

I could have done something wrong, so maybe it wasn't the recipe and it was just me.  If you want to try the recipe, you can find it HERE.

I made a lot of zucchini egg dishes like this "Zucchini Tomato Gratin".    I have a whole bunch of other great dishes like this on my Pinterest page.  They are all so delicious!

My favorite zucchini recipe I made all summer was this one!  It is incredible! It tastes just like scalloped potatoes.  I've recommended this recipe to so many people and everyone who made it loved it.  It's a winner for sure.  You can find this recipe HERE!

I love ordinary blueberry muffins, but if you add zucchini they become even more moist.  You can find this recipe HERE.

These are Yellow Squash Muffins that I added blueberries too.  They don't look anything like the ones pictured on the website, but boy do they taste good. They taste a lot like cornbread.  They are my favorite zucchini/yellow squash recipe.  I don't know why mine don't look more like a normal muffin.  I've tried the recipe twice now and they always turn out like this.  But I would still make them again and again because I love the flavor.

And of course, like every other gardener on the planet, I made lots and lots of Zucchini Bread.  My zucchini bread recipe always made two loaves, so I would freeze one and eat the other right away.  Now we should have plenty of zucchini bread all winter long.  It freezes very well too!  It taste just as good out of the freezer as the day I baked it.  I use the recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

I also grew a lot more herbs this year than I did last year.  These are just a few (plus a little broccoli and beans).  I spent a lot of time drying herbs.  It's very time consuming, but the cost of dried herbs in the store has risen so much, I really wanted to grow and dry them myself.  However, I can't believe how many herbs it takes just to fill one tiny jar.  After the drying process is over, they really shrink down.  No wonder dried herbs are so expensive!

And finally, I can't conclude the very last garden post without talking about Jackson.  Oh, cats and gardens just go hand in hand.  Jackson loves to go outside everyday and walk the enclosed vegetable garden with me.  But I think his favorite activity is simply sleeping on the cozy screened porch chairs.

Goodbye garden.  I will miss you.  The end of the garden season is always so bittersweet.  I won't miss all the back-breaking work, but I will miss your beautiful blooms, the warmth from the sun, and eating fresh garden greens every single day.

So what about you?  Are you sad to see the garden season come to an end, or are you relieved to have a break?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Exploring the Great West: Day 2, Part 2, Devil's Bathtub

This is a continuation of a travel series to The Great West.  To start at the beginning, go HERE,HERE, and 

In last week's travel post I covered how we spent the morning at Bear Butte State Park hiking the Summit Trail.  It was quite the rigorous trail and we were exhausted afterwards.  We got back in the car and headed to our next destination:  Spearfish Canyon.  The drive was so relaxing.  It was so nice to sit for a spell and enjoy the air conditioning, and of course we stopped for lunch too!

Now we had been to Spearfish Canyon before, back in 2019,  It is a must stop if you're ever in South Dakota because the landscape is quite different than the rest of South Dakota, filled with trees and water!  There are multiple trails and waterfalls on this scenic byway.  If you want to see more, check out my old posts HERE and  HERE!

On our first visit to Spearfish Canyon, somehow we missed one of their more popular trails "Devil's Bathtub" so my husband wanted to return and check it out.  So here we are, back again, two years later!

The Devil's Bathtub Trail is 1.6 miles roundtrip and is rated as moderate.  It was a nice relaxing hike for us to take late in the afternoon, especially after taking a more vigorous hike in the morning.  When we were just starting the trail, it seemed most people were heading out as the sun was just starting to go down.  It is a very popular, heavily trafficked trail.  

The parking lot is located a short distance from the trail head.  But it is a very nice walk for you walk through a forest, along a beautiful river.  It was the beginning of September when we were there, and the fall colors were just starting to emerge.

The trail itself reminded me a tiny bit of The Narrows in Zion National Park, because it follows the river.  Throughout the hike, you cross the river multiple times, using rocks or fallen trees to help you.  The water level depends on the time of year your hiking.  We were there in the fall, at the end of a hot summer and drought, so the water was very shallow.  I initially "tried" to use stepping stones and my sticks to guide me across the river, but then I realized it was easier just to step right into the water.  I had water shoes on plus my "Active Swimwear" so it didn't matter if I got wet.

A common issue I found when reading reviews of this trail is that it is hard to figure out where the trail is.  We found that to be an issue as well as there aren't a lot of trail markings.  The trail actually exists on both sides of the river, but sometimes it is easier to hike on the opposite side depending on the time of the year, that is why you are constantly crossing over the river.  When we were there, there were a lot of other hikers there, so we just followed them every time we got "lost".  However, I don't always recommend that as one set of hikers got me in some waist deep water at one point. Eventually we figured out that there wasn't a need for markers on the trail, and there was no way to get lost on this trail, because the river itself is the trail.  Just follow the river, and it will eventually lead you to the end, which is "Devil's Bathtub".

The trail is so beautiful, and so worth it!  You will see some amazing rock formations like this one.  But this picture is also an example of some issues you will have to deal with.  Do you stay along the cliff wall, or do you rock jump in the river?   It's kinda neat actually that there is no real trail.  You make a lot of decisions for yourself thus setting your own adventure!

We really enjoyed this trail and thought it was so cool!

The water is icy cold, but people still do "swim" in it.  I saw lots of people heading back to the parking lot with bathing suits and towels.  The trail is most popular during the heat of the day because of the swimming aspect.

The trail comes to an abrupt end at "Devil's Bathtub".  You will know you're at the end because there is a tiny waterfall with a "slide" that lands in a big pool of water.  Many people go down the "slide" and into "Devil's Bathtub".  But be sure to have shoes on, as there are rocks on the bottom.  My husband tried it barefoot and did hurt his feet.  There is a video at the end of this post showing my husband going down the "slide" and into the "Devil's Bathtub".  We were told that when we were there the water was much lower than it usually is.

And finally, I just wanted to share a few pictures of some beautiful fall wildflowers that were in bloom along the trail.  They just took my breath away!

 And here is the short video of my hubby going down the "Slide" into the "Devil's Bathtub".  I didn't try it, as the rocky "slide" looked like it would hurt your backslide, but hubby said the only thing that hurt was his feet...and how cold the water was.  What about you?  Do you think you would try it?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

September Bible Journaling Pages: Mark 13 thru Luke 4

Once a month I like to share my Bible Journaling Pages and what God has been teaching me.  In the month of SeptemberI finished the book of Mark and started the book of Luke.    Sometimes I just color in the preprinted images of the "Inspire Bible" (available on Amazon) and I also create my own pages.
Unless otherwise stated, all the images are colored in with either gel pens or colored pencils.  I tend to color larger areas with pencils then get the more intricate spots with pens.  I high light my Bible with gel highlighters, and I usually use gelatos or  craft paint for my backgrounds.

Bible Journaling means different things to different people.  Some Bible Journaists main objective is to make sure their pages are always "pretty".  I've seen such amazing works of art created in Bibles that look like they should be framed and hung in museums.  I am not that type of Bible Journalist.  I Bible Journal to illustrate what I thought was the main point of a passage.  It helps me understand it better to illustrate it.  I also Bible Journal to mediate and memorize God's Word (the pre-printed images that you simply color in are great for that).  But I also use Bible Journaling as a way to work through my feelings and a way to document what I am going through in life, and how the Bible helps me through it.  This first page is an example of me working through my feelings.

I was reading about the crucifixion of Jesus and one word really stuck out to me:  "Mock" and versions of the word "Mock" like "taunted" and "ridiculed".  I underlined every time Jesus was mocked by both the soldiers and regular people, and it was seven times!  SEVEN TIMES the Bible said Jesus was mocked by the very people He came down to save.  Here Jesus gave up His heavenly home, and came down to earth to sacrifice His life in great agony and pain, and He was mocked.  He didn't have to go through with it.  He could have stopped it anytime, and simply went home, but He didn't.  What LOVE.  What incredible LOVE Jesus has for us to go through all of that for us, and to be mocked in the process.  It is unreal to me.  

I don't know about you, but I have been struggling so much with all the hate and mockery there is in the world today.  I think it was always there, but it just seemed to have escalated since 2015 and there seems no end in sight.  If anyone thinks or feels anything outside the culturally acceptable norms of the left, they are mocked and ridiculed.  Turn on any MSM, late night "comedy" show, or Hollywood awards show and you will see it.  But it's not like the right isn't guilty of it either.  Conservative news and right wing talk shows contribute their share of mockery.  The main behavior in today's world is "If you don't agree with me...I will mock and ridicule you!"  

So, I created this page.  My "Mock, Mock, Mock" page.  Where I expressed my frustrations of society today.  In many ways, my page feels "Hopeless".  I feel like this mocking will never end.  Yet if you notice on the bottom of the page, I hand wrote what God has to say about all of this:

"But God Himself will shoot them with His arrows.  Their OWN TONGUES WILL RUIN THEM".  That is quite the promise.  And it is quite the promise to us when we are tempted to "mock" someone who we disagree with.

My next page is an illustration of the Great Commission.  After Jesus died, and appeared to the disciples and many others, he commissioned them to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone".  It's pretty amazing to me that after the way He was treated on earth that His number one concern was that EVERYONE heard the good news...the gospel.  But, Jesus also said this:  "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.  But anyone who REFUSES TO BELIEVE will be CONDEMNED".  Jesus doesn't  want us to hear the "good news" so we'd be happy and lead a good, productive life (although following Biblical principles does help with that).  He wants us to saved so that we don't spend an eternity in Hell.  There is no way to heaven except through Jesus.  That is why He came down to earth, and suffered and died for YOU!  He paid the sacrifice so YOU COULD LIVE!  All you have to do is believe.

This is the title page to the book of Luke.  The book of Luke is the best gospel to read at Christmas for it gives the most detailed descriptions of Jesus' birth.  I love to hear the verse from Luke 2 at Christmas  "The Savior, YES, the Messiah, the Lord has been born today...!"

This next page is a pre-printed illustration of what an angel said to Mary but it is also a promise to us.  God's word will NEVER FAIL.  What HE says will be.  What He promises will happen.

This is a beautiful pre-printed illustration of the angels visit to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus.

Here is another page I created just using handwritten notes and a little Washi tape.  I was reading about the temptation of Jesus and I noticed that all three time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus responded with scripture.  It is a perfect example of how we should respond to sin every time we are tempted.  However, what I also noticed, which I don't think I ever noticed before in all the years that I have been a Christian, was that on the third temptation, Satan tries to trick Jesus by USING SCRIPTURE!  How does Jesus respond? By quoting more scripture back at Him. 

I've noticed lately how people are using scripture today to try and convince people to their side or cause.  These very same people, often ignore what the rest of the Bible has to say.  They are "cherry pickers".  They pick and choose what verses they like to justify whatever they want to do.  I've even heard many Christians using scripture against other Christians, but once again, they "cherry pick".   They pick verses out of context that appear to support their viewpoint, and they ignore the ones that totally go against that same viewpoint.  Jesus was very smart here.  He knew Satan was trying to trick Him by quoting scripture, and He immediately responded by saying "The scriptures ALSO SAY" which contradicted Satan's interpretation of scripture.

We must remember to do this when people try to use God's word against us.  Often people who do that, have no real understanding of God's Word.  They don't spend hours daily reading the Bible or memorizing the word of God.  But if you or I do, then we can respond to their incorrect interpretations with more of God's word.  We should always be prepared to give an answer by using scripture, and the only way we can do that is by daily studying the Bible.

And my last page is just a cute illustration I created of a verse I just love.  What a great story this is:  Jesus enters the temple, unrolls a scroll of Isaiah, reads it, then says for all to hear "The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this VERY DAY!".  Wow! How bold!  How courageous!  I would have loved to have been in the room when this happened.  

Think about it.  Seven Hundred years earlier the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah's arrival and describes in detail what He will do when He arrives and also how He will suffer and die.  Everything the prophet Isaiah predicted came true to the letter.  When Jesus walks into the temple, reads the prophets words, and then says "It is fulfilled today!" He is confirming that He is the Messiah.  So when I read this, I know that EVERYTHING the Bible prophesied will happen.  I know that all His promises to me will come true.  I know, that even in the most darkest times, like what we are living through today, I can count on His word that someday soon He will make this world right again.

Well, I hope I have encouraged someone with this month's Bible Journaling Pages.  I know we are living in very dark times.  The darkest times of my fifty eight years to be sure.  I never thought I would see what is happening in the world, especially in the United States, happen in my lifetime.  I don't know how much more we will have to endure before Jesus returns.  These are scary times, yet if you remember from last month's post Jesus told us how many times in the Bible not to fear?  365 times!  Almost as many days as there are in a year.  We are called to live FEARLESS lives, as Jesus lived...FEARLESS!  He was not afraid to be mocked & ridiculed.  He did not fear Satan.  And He didn't fear the religious authority of His time.  He is our example.  He spent time daily with the Father and always sought to do His will.  That is what we also must do during these last days.  Spend time daily in the word.  Then you will know His voice and you will know the difference between right and wrong and your mind won't be influenced by the world or other religious leaders.  Follow after God.  Jesus said in John 10:27 "My sheep listen to My voice;  I know them, and they follow me".  Listen for His voice.  Follow Him and Him alone.  

Have a Great Day!  Amy

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