Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guinness Ice Cream

I was listening to the radio in the car one day and heard two women talking about making all different kinds of ice cream and creating unique ice cream sandwiches. One of them was a shortbread cookie with Guinness ice cream. I wondered what Guinness ice cream tasted like. And so a blog post was born.

I got this recipe off of the web site PopSugar-


2 cups Guinness (16 ounces) That's almost two bottles.

2 cups heavy cream

1-3/4 cups whole milk

15 large egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar


In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness with the cream and milk and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually add the hot Guinness cream to the yolks, whisking constantly until well blended. (15 eggs is a lot! I am planning to make an angel food cake with the egg whites)

Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes; do not let it boil. Pour the custard into a medium bowl set in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand until the custard is cold, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. I got this ice cream maker from Cobb Hardware off Roswell Road in Marietta.
I added mini semi sweet chocolate bits during the last 5 minutes in the ice cream maker.
Pack the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

I've heard of people making floats by adding the ice cream to a glass of Guinness. It has a unique flavor but that's the point. Summer is a wonderful time for ice cream and a great opportunity to explore the possibilities! Have fun with it!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Carpenter Bee Control

A friend of ours asked how we kept carpenter bees from eating our pergola. "We have no carpenter bees”, I said, "but I’ll investigate how to manage your bees and let you know”.

She was worried that since the bees pollinate flowers, controlling carpenter bees may be a bad thing. I replied, “There were plenty of things they could eat besides your house, so let’s figure this out". I also found that the larva will attract woodpeckers and they will also destroy a house, which happened to be a problem for her in the past.

The very next week we had signs they had arrived! We saw sawdust on the top of the car we park underneath the pergola.

So I went to and ordered three things.
Drione Dust
1/2 inch corks
Crusader bellow

Remember, the female carpenter bee will sting--so make sure the hole is empty before you begin. The male bee won’t sting, but they are the ones that fly in and around you to scare you off. They have yellow faces; while the females have black faces.

The reason why it’s a good idea to get rid of them now is that the babies tend to return to the nest where they were born. One nest could turn into more with every passing year. The next thing you know, you have hundreds of holes in your deck or house that are also going to attract woodpeckers.

Drione has a baby powder like substance and it will make a “poof” of dust when shot into the holes. Make sure it doesn’t come in contact with your skin or eyes. (I should have worn protective goggles because it would have been safer.)
Use the Crusader bellow to poof the Drione dust into the hole. You can seal the hole with a cork after you let it stand for a few hours. If the cork won’t press all the way in with just your thumb you can hammer them in the rest of the way.

I have a stain pen that I used to color the cork a little closer to the pergola color so it won’t stand out as much.

There you have it. Simple as that. is a wonderful resource for bug control of almost every kind. I recommend you visit that sight.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Our Houston Trip

My son showed us a few unusual things in Houston this trip. One was this recycle house. I’m sure your neighbors would love you to do this to your home. I wonder if it helps with the air-conditioning bill?

He didn’t tell us where we were going next as we drove around town so it was a big surprise to pull into this parking lot filled with Presidents heads and 36 foot statues of The Beatles! It’s located just off Katy Freeway. Forty-four U.S. Presidents and the Fab Four created by sculptor David Adickes.

Here's me a T.J.

We had a great time at HopDoddy Burgers. Named Best Burgers by Food & Wine Magazine last year.
Here we are waiting in line. It seemed like a long line but it moved fast and they walk up and down handing out water to everyone and that's nice.

My son had the Llano Poblano burger- Angus Beef, Pepper Jack, Seared Poblanos Chiles, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Chipotle Mayo.
My husband had the Terlingua burger - Angus Beef, Chili Con Carne, Corn Fritos, Tillamook Cheddar, Sassy Sauce. And I had the Greek - Lamb, Feta Cheese, Arugula, Pickled Red Onions, Tomato, Cucumber, Tzalziki Sauce. The Ahi Tuna burger is fantastic as well. (My daughter had that last time we were here)

The fries are amazing. My son loves the Salted Caramel, Nutella and Pretzel shake (made from scratch) but my favorite was the watermelon Mojitos.
The beef has no antibiotics or hormones and the sodas are sweetened with Fair Trade Certified Organic evaporated can juice. They bake the buns fresh twice a day (they even bake gluten free buns) again from scratch and buy local which is nice too.

We had a wonderful time visiting with family but missed our daughter who couldn’t make this trip. Houston is a fun place to visit but so hot and humid and very flat. You’ll need to make a point of driving through River Oaks. Inwood Drive and Lazy Lane are two streets nearby not to be missed. Here you’ll find some of the most lavish real estate in the nation. Everything really is bigger in Texas!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hey! What's wrong with my squash?

I was wondering why my squash looked so puny and then I read a Walter Reeves article on squash pollination.
Squash have separate male and female blooms on each plant.

Female blooms look like this -

Male flowers look like this-

Bees have to buzz in, out and about the flowers several times for successful pollination. If there aren't enough bees you’ll end up with squash that look like this.

Or the blooms will just fall off the plant

You can help the plants along by taking a Q-tip and lightly shaking it alternately between the male and female flowers. The real question is, "How do you attract more bees?"

Grow colorful flowers and use organic pesticides. You can even make a bee box. I think you can buy them or learn how to make one at hardware stores that offer classes. Remember that bees need water too so keep your bird bath full of fresh water for them as well as our fine feathered friends!

On another note: We were in Texas this weekend and I don’t know if you remember the fires that they had out there in 2011 but this was what we saw of it as we drove to Austin. It will take years to get back all the vegetation that was burnt back then. Miles and miles of it on both sides of the highway. It's an amazing sight.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Trees die from the top down

Mr. Smith of Smith Tree Service told us years ago that trees die from the top down. Here are some examples.

This poor thing just isn't going to make it.

You can see this one is dying. It also has some trunk damage. I don't think you can see it in this picture but it looks like a truck backed into it.

This tree needs to be taken down before a strong wind takes it and all those wires down with it.

This one looks dead but you can see the top is leafing out again. I think this tree got stressed from the cold weather and not being watered every day in that first crucial month after being planted. It looks like it's going to make it.

Once you know that trees die from the top down you'll start to notice them on walks or while driving. Now I realize that trees don't all die from the top down but the examples of this are all around. Take a look and tell me if you find any trees that look like this around your neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happenings around the garden.

Graham and Gay gave me a vertical planter for herbs and I love it. It’s so simple that anyone can do this. I thought if you have access to wooden pallets you could make some good money selling these. So simple.
There was one row of plants that was way too close to the other so I had to take that one off. I learned how to put this vertical planter together by taking a bit of it apart.

You’ll need a wooded pallet, some burlap, heavy duty cardboard, Soil Moist, scissors, heavy duty stapler and a screw driver. The screw driver is to help you make the holes through the cardboard and burlap.

Cut the burlap to fit around the slats. Wrap each row with burlap making a trough. Staple it as tight as you can. Cut the cardboard to fit into the bottom of your trough. Next, make holes that go through the cardboard and burlap. Be careful not to pull the burlap loose. Next fill the trough with soil and herbs. Use Soil Moist pellets to make sure the plants don’t dry out. You only need a small amount of Soil Moist to make this work. I talk about Soil Moist in many of my blog posts.

I have to replace some of the plants that were originally in there but that's okay.
Here is the finished product. So fun! A wonderful Father's Day Gift!

Just an update on this years garden. I made some chicken wire cages to go around my tomatoes. This is a great way to inexpensively stabilize the plant.

When I start to see fruit appear I’ll throw some garden netting over the tomatoes to help keep the squirrels from eating everything. The netting lets the sun and rain in and (hopefully) will give us a chance to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Last year between the dogs (they love tomatoes) and the squirrels we didn’t get one tomato on the table. I would love to be able to make my yummy summer salad with tomatoes out of my garden this year.

The recipe can be found on my August 23, 2011 blog post here-

My potato plants are coming along. I first cut the bottom off a large plastic pot and washed it out. The cut doesn't need to be pretty. It's going to be on the ground.

I cut my potatoes leaving an eye or two on each one then left them out to scab before planting them in the bottom of my open ended pot.
More on potato planting on March 29, 2013 blog post here -

As the plants grow I’m adding soil to the pot being careful not to damage the stems. I’ll leave the top of the plants uncovered to continue to grow and get sunlight. As the plants grow I’ll add more soil to the pot until I reach the top. The stems will root and grow more potatoes as time passes.
Harvesting will be easy and I won’t have to worry about damaging the potato because there won’t be any digging. I’ll just shimmy the pot up and off the plants and the potatoes should fall out. Remember potatoes need to dry out for a week or two before you cook them. Store the potatoes in a cool dry place.

I’ll add pictures to the bottom of this post as the plants progress and are finally ready to harvest. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Trip to Boston

Boston in May is very windy. The leaves on most trees are just budding. I was still able to find some interesting stuff while we walked through Fenway Park. Fenway Park isn't just for baseball! It's a real park within walking distance from the stadium. They have victory gardens and beekeeping plots. It's a great place to walk your dog or run the trails.

We noticed a Blue Heron sitting on a branch of a tree that had toppled over into a retention pond. These birds are known to eat fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, and small birds. This pond is the perfect place for a Blue Heron to live.

This tree caught my eye. It's leaning toward the sun. The only problem with a tree that leans this much is it could become disease prone. This tree seems to be doing very well.

If you look closely you can see right through this tree trunk. It's hollow but still alive. Trees feed through the cambium layer which is just beneath the bark. The cambium layer distributes food and water to the tree. This is why it still has leaves and turns green during the summer. Most likely it will fall in a strong storm. I wouldn’t want to be standing near it in high winds which is why after I took this picture - we quickly moved along.

Fenway Park has a program where you can rent plots of land to grow vegetables. There is a $30 fee per year and you have to be a Boston city resident. People put chairs and tables in their yards and grow vegetables. It's a large area with 500 garden plots. Fenway garden is the nations only WWII Victory Garden remaining today spanning 7.5 acres! This is a must see when you visit Boston.

One word of warning. I wouldn't walk this place at night. It didn't seem well patrolled and there were no call boxes that I could see.

I found some beautiful azaleas right in front of the Harvard Medical School. Most of the other azaleas looked kind of sick but these were really pretty. Harvard has it's own garden. The Countway Community Garden was created by a group of staff, students and faculty. The garden includes vegetables and medicinal herbs.

My daughter tells me that almost every mall around Boston has green space. Here at the Prudential Center there is a plant guide to help you identify many of the different varieties of plants that you'll find in their garden. They even have free concerts and movies on the lawn during the summer. For example one of the movies at sunset is "Brave" on July 27th, 2014. If you are in Boston near the Prudential Center this summer you should check it out the happenings in the South Garden.

And lastly, we had a great time at Boston Gardens were my daughter joined 3,303 of her fellow students in the 2014 graduation ceremony. It was an exciting time and a great trip!