Archive for Home & Garden

Limoncello Day 2019

Limoncello Day

Today was the day for bottling (Mason jars, actually) the finished Limoncello product that Damsel put away last December. The intermediate step was completed to remove the lemon rinds and add sweetener in January, so after maturing, the product was finally ready for putting up today, if not in bottles but in Mason Jars.

Image: Damsel dispensing the finished limoncello from the big brewing container to a mason jar. Click on the image to enlarge.

I don’t have any photos of this year’s lemon harvest in late November, but it was certainly as large as the haul we made in the lemon harvest of 2015. Our little dwarf lemon tree has reliably produced since we put it in the “Orchard” in 2011.

From Wikipedia:

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy. In northern Italy, the liqueur is often referred to instead as limoncino. It is also a popular homemade liqueur, with various recipes available online and in print.

Although there is debate about the exact origin of the drink, it is at least one hundred years old

Visitors to our humble abode are usually given one or two bottles or jars of our brew. We also carry some with us when we’re on the road in the motorhome to give to friends and acquaintances. Sorry, we can’t ship it since it’s against USPS rules and other carriers don’t want it either. You will just have to come and get it or wait until we drive by for a visit.

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Diet Support Kitchen Gagetry

VeggieSpize Spiralizer

One of the things we most lamented about when we started on our diet last October was giving up pasta. For years, we have enjoyed dishes with all those carbohydrates and all the adverse effects they may have been having on our metabolic systems.

Now that we are on our reduced carbs diets and have been for about three months, we see our results taking place. Damsel is losing a little weight but more importantly, is reducing her blood glucose (she will be tested for that soon at the clinic). I have lost about twelve pounds and two belt notches since the start.

And all the while, we have been enjoying our new cooking lifestyle with substitutes for those things we thought we couldn’t live without. Instead of mashed potatoes, we have mashed butternut squash. Instead of noodles, we have enjoyed Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) and that brings us to the gadget in the photo.

The photo shows the spiralizer cranking out zucchini noodles. It is a VeggieSpize Spiral Slicer available from Amazon. Damsel and I used it for the first time last week to prepare Zoodles to be served with her homemade low carb pesto.

You can buy prepared zoodles and other veggie or tofu products already packaged in the store, but the drawbacks there are 1) cost and 2) preservatives and other additives. Packaged zoodles in the size that correspond to one spiral cut zucchini is about $3.00. To do it yourself as in the photo is about $0.55 in cost and you know what’s in the final product.

As far as spiral-cut veggies being a substitute for pasta, they do the trick; zoodles, like spaghetti, actually take on the flavors of the sauces and are of no special value other than to transport to your taste buds. The Pesto Zoodles made a nice side for some Filet Mignon steaks we had last week.

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Purple Haze Lavender Rose

Purple Haze Lavender Rose

Yesterday was the last day that these beautiful roses were on display in the vase on the sofa table in the great room. We bought these a week ago and they lasted until yesterday in the vase. I managed to get this photo of one of the prettiest of them before they wilted.

I read that these flowers originate in Ecuador. From Magnaflor:

Purple Haze

The Purple Haze rose is a wonderful pale lavender bloom with creamy undertones and rosy edges. Lavender symbolizes love at first sight and will elicit feelings of spirituality.

Ecuadorian roses have an advantage due to the growing conditions; they get natural light the whole year, due to the country’s location by the equator. Artificial illumination is not necessary in Ecuador. Most farms are at an altitude of between 2800 and 3000 meters above sea level. With farms being closer to the sun roses produce the largest blooms and longest stems.

I replaced the roses today with Spider Mums in yellow and Violet. Maybe a photo of those later. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Cactus and its Pups Transplanted

Removed from Plastic Pot You probably remember our “Cherry RedTrichocereus Grandiflorus cactus, the one with the bright red or hot pink flowers. Well, today it was time to separate the overcrowded parent from the pups in the original pot.

Bob took his circular saw to the plastic pot in order to cleanly remove the cactus and its roots. The result is seen at the right - the cactus sans pot on a camo tarp. The tarp was there to retain the soil that we brushed away from the roots. The residual soil went into the transplant pots along with some local sandy soil.

The yield was the original main cactus and a bunch of pups ranging from mature to very small. All were transplanted into pots except for the very small pup which went into the ground in my xeriscape garden outside the courtyard main gate.

Before attempting to separate the cactus and pups, we consulted with several on-line sources describing methods for separating cacti of this type. We think that some of the pups that broke off of a main stem without the roots will develop them in their new pots (or in the ground) over time. The main cactus and larger pups had partial root systems that made it into the new pots.

We’re hoping that eventually we will have bright red flowers happening all over the courtyard and xeriscape instead of all in one place. You can see from the photos below that we are spread out a bit now. Click on any image to enlarge.

Parent Cactus Large Pup Cactus

Three Small Pups Very Small Pup in the Xeriscape

Medium Pup Medium Large Pup

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Mule Deer Sighting

Doe
 
Fawn

We don’t often see the local mule deer since they keep mostly out of sight. Today, however, one of the dogs got my attention to look out front. I saw the doe in the top image. She was standing pretty still, so I got a camera and took the top photo from the courtyard.

I then realized that the deer think our lemon tree leaves are a delicacy since we see evidence of them nibbling on it. I looked over at the lemon tree just in time to see a couple of fawns that were there take off. I got a fairly decent photo of one of them about to leap the back wall. The other was too far up the hill behind the creosote and other brush to get much of a photo.

Once both fawns were up on the hill, the mama doe easily leapt over the neighbor’s four foot wire fence and proceeded to join the little ones. They all disappeared from sight after that. Click on either image to (slightly) enlarge.

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Sphinx Moth and Red Bird of Paradise

Sphinx Moth

Last evening at dusk, I was in the courtyard photographing the sunset colors. I turned around toward the Red Bird of Paradise shrubs and saw several hummingbird moths browsing the flowers. I got the close-up above of one of the moths.

Hummingbird moths are actually an entire family of moths called Sphinx Moths. Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths) contains a very large number of related sub-families and species.

From the Butterflies and Moths of North America website:

The Sphingidae belong to the Superfamily Sphingoidea. Members of this family are commonly called “hummingbird,” “sphinx,” or “hawk” moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and most feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis. The proboscis rolls up when not in use. Some species lack scales on large portions of their wings, resulting in transparent or clear wings. In most species, the larval stage is called a “hornworm” because the caterpillar’s posterior end has a harmless hook or hornlike appendage protruding upward. Unfortunately, the caterpillar of some species can be very destructive to agricultural crops and ornamental plantings

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Palo Verde Tree Rescue

Small Palo Verde Startup In its new spot

During an afternoon walk, I noticed a small palo verde tree growing on the shoulder of the road out front. I made a mental note to remove the tree from that location due to proximity to road traffic. In a couple of years it would likely have grown out into the roadway.

In discussions with Damsel, we decided to relocate the tiny tree to our rock and cactus garden on the west side away from the RV drive. If the little tree survives the transplant, we will be able to prune it into a nice addition to the garden. It can be made to look like an attractive tree, like so many in Arizona xeriscapes managed by homeowners and landscapers.

I took my spade and carefully loosened the dirt around the little tree, trying to preserve most of the roots. I dug a hole in the west garden and lowered the tree into it. I brushed the soil from the hole over the roots and the lower part of the trunk. We doused it with a gallon of water, hoping that would ease the shock to the transplanted tree.

The two images above are the before and after. Click on either image to enlarge.

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