Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve, Gateway to January

Happy New Year's Eve and tomorrow, a NEW YEAR, 2012. 

Founded on pagan traditions, January stems from Janus, the Roman deity with two faces who had the powers to look back (past) and to the future. The first day of January is in celebration of him.

He was the god of doorways and gates, endings and new beginnings, guarding the threshold, and was associated with powers of prophecy, an augur and mediator. At times he is connected to the sun and moon.

Janus was the ruler of Latium, and under his rule was responsible for the Golden Age that brought money, laws and agriculture to the area. It was a time of great peace and abundance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From translation of Ovid Fast. 1.17 1-188 from Taylor's article:
"It was Roman tradition at the New Year to give the god honey, cakes, incense and wine to buy favorable signs and a guarantee of good luck. Gold brought better results than baser coins. 

"Then I asked," Why, Janus, when I placate other gods, do I bring incense and wine to you first?" 

"So that you may gain entry to whatsoever gods you wish," he replied, "through me, who guard the threshold." 

"But why are glad words spoken on your Kalends? And why do we give and receive best wishes?" 

Then the god, leaning on the staff in his right hand, said, "Omens are wont to reside in beginnings. You train your anxious ears on the first call, and the augur interprets the first bird he sees. The temples and ears of gods are open, no tongue intones wasted prayers, and words have weight." Janus had finished. 

I was not silent for long, but tagged his final words with words of my own. "What do your dates and wrinkled figs mean, or the gift of honey in a snow-white jar?" 

"The omen is the reason," said he - "so that the sweetness replicates events, and so that the year should be sweet, following the course of its beginnings."
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

May we not dwell on the past, rather receive the lessons, 
plan for tomorrow, but live in the present. May your New Year be bright 
and filled with great insight, well-being and new beginnings. ~ Diana

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dave's Garden Calendar for 2012

It just arrived, and I am so excited and honored that one of my photos was selected for October.

Dave's Garden: Each year, Dave's Garden members anticipate the annual Photography Contest and this time, it was no different. Our 11th installment of this long-running feature drew thousands of entries from around the world. The membership voted on their favorites and the winners are featured in our 2012 Dave's Garden calendar. Each member receives a year's subscription to DG and a copy of the calendar. The entry with the most votes overall, is featured on the cover. This year, that honor goes to member 'YAMATO', Susumu Kishihara.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fine Art Winner!

Thank you all for your kind and generous comments and for participating_ you make it all worthwhile. I'm not sure who receives the most satisfaction from this, you (the winner) or me. Overwhelmingly people prefer The Train Station and it warms my heart to share this with you. What is it that draws people to trains and train stations? adventure, family history, romance, intrigue... ?

About The Train Station: I have always been attracted to buildings with character, those rooted in America and that could chronicle many tales. Abandoned two-story farm homes, old weathered barns, covered bridges, and this station I frequented, all fill me with wonderment and have been the subject matter for many of my drawings and paintings. I love the simplicity of line in this rendering, the solitude, and of course its historic value, and this was an attempt at preserving my memories of it on canvas.

This painting was begun in an attempt to enter a competition for a bicentennial calendar, but as the weeks progressed and the more I became absorbed, I forgot about the deadline. Additionally I failed to put the name of the town on the sign, and that proved fortuitous, as many people who have viewed the complete work since have commented, "I've seen that train station", but of course they may not have seen this particular one but rather one of similar design in a geographic part of the country.

My husband had the honor of pulling the names from my hat, and we thought we should select more than one. How exciting to say Congratulations to the winners!

Sherri, Little House in Paradise
Robin, The Gardener of Eden
Joey, The Village Voice
Larry of Big Dude's Ramblings
Pat Tillett Patricktillett.
Thank you all for participating! I have mailing information for Robin, Joey and Larry. Sherri and Pat, please contact me with your address? I will mail them out right after Christmas.

Thank you all again.

PS: Please don't forget to listen to George's song on ITUNES. It's only $1.29 to download... a great inexpensive present.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gift For You _ 5 Years

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!

Time does fly when you're having fun. This week marks 5 years since I entered the cyberworld with my first blog post and with discussions that followed on many things, a potpourri of economic and market issues, genealogy, travel, garden... and from that I found my voice as Voice In The Garden evolved. Thus, in the spirit of the holidays I'd like to do something fun and put a smile on someone's face.

Many years ago I had a Limited Edition made from two of my original paintings, The Train Station and The Eliot. They are signed and numbered fine art prints. Two years ago I gave away The Train Station in celebration of three years, and today I would like to offer either one or the other.

Art is a very personal thing and therefore not everyone is interested in a particular theme or style of painting. However, should you have an interest in participating in the drawing, simply leave a comment telling me which one you would prefer should you be the winner.

The Train Station

Image size......................... 20 5/8" by 17"
Paper size ......................... 25" x 22"

Unmatted and unframed
on museum quality acid free paper

Based on original oil 34" x 28"

The Eliot

Image size.............................. 18" by 24"
Paper size .............................. 22" x 29"

Unmatted and unframed
on museum quality acid free paper

Based on original oil 30" x 40"

Leave a comment by Monday, December 19 and a winner will be chosen at random. I will mail it right after Christmas.

This is a gift from me to you and my way of saying thank you for being such a wonderful community of thoughtful people and bringing an added dimension to my life.

PS: Don't forget, George has 2 songs currently available to listen and download: georgejohnson, and his Debut soon-to-be-released album, here, which can be listened to in case you want to order. Some great music!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Music Release and Debut Album

Today I am mixing it up a bit from my normal postings in order to introduce you to George Johnson, a talented young man and his music.

He has just released 2 songs, Santa's Wearin' Blue This Year and The Reign

The Reign by George Johnson with The Jordanaires & The Memphis Horns 88.2 wav (Album Version)


Santa's Wearin' Blue This Year

George's debut album will soon be released. You can preview it _ Listen to all of the songs for FREE at, and sign up for the mailing list to receive updates on the release. I hope you love the music as much as we do... he has some great sounds, and we have had wonderful feedback from talented musicians who speak highly of George's talent.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted Heirloom Squash and Apple Soup

Yesterday we picked most of the apples and pears from our trees, and last evening we delighted in the first of our winter squash soups. Made from one of the heirloom Butternut squash, it was filled with creamy sweetness like only a squash directly from our garden to the table can be. It had all the elements we enjoy: a little sweetness (squash) with some salty (cashew) and a bit of spice.

Roasted Heirloom Squash and Apple Soup from Diana's kitchen

1 squash (3-4 lb butternut), seeded, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium tart apples, peeled, quartered, core removed, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons good olive oil or organic coconut oil
4-6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 Tablespoon raw unfiltered honey
pinch or more cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 cup cream or half and half
salted cashews

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Into a large Dutch Oven, combine the chopped squash, apples, onion, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger, salt and pepper and combine. Add olive oil or coconut oil to the melted butter, pour it over the squash mixture and fold to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes or until the squash and apples are tender. Stir once or twice during the roasting.

Remove from the oven and add 4 cups of chicken stock (or just enough to barely cover the squash). Add the honey, cayenne pepper, nutmeg. Stir, and heat the contents to a simmer and until the squash and apples are tender.

Remove the pot from the burner, and puree the contents with an immersion blender. It will be slightly sweet and thick. Add the cream and combine. If you prefer less thickness, add additional chicken stock. Serve immediately and with a few cashews on top.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Salmon Cakes

We love our wild Pacific salmon, generally grilled outside and with a touch of olive oil brushed gently on both sides, sprinkled with lemon pepper, and usually with a little extra freshly ground black pepper. For us it doesn't get much better... unless of course you have some left over, as we normally do, and then, you might consider the following.

Here is a favorite recipe by Ina Garten. I changed only a few things: instead of 1/2 cup of red bell and 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, 1 cup of only the red was used as that was on hand; and I decided on only 1/2 cup of crumbs_ panko (see note below).

Salmon Cakes from Diana's kitchen courtesy of Ina Garten

1/2 pound fresh salmon, grilled or baked, then chilled
Extra Virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil (Old Bay) seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 slices stale bread, crusts removed (used 1/2 cup panko instead)
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

If the salmon is not already prepared from a previous dinner, then use the following procedure: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, remove the skin, and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3-ounce) cakes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot.

Notes from my kitchen: Substituted a sweet white Walla Walla onion from our garden instead of the red onion. Panko was used instead of bread crumbs and only 1/2 cup. The cakes tend to break apart easily, so I made them smaller (about 3" in diameter) for ease of turning them over in the saute pan.

If you like salmon as we do, then you are going to love this recipe... so full of wonderful flavor, tender, sweet. (I've made them twice this month.) Should you like wine with your dinner, add a nice chilled glass of a buttery Chardonnay. Does it get any better than this?

bon appétit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Asian Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Slaw

What does one do with beautiful heads of cabbage recently harvested from the hoop house?

First, Cabbage Soup, and yesterday, Asian Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Slaw, courtesy of Cathy at Wives with Knives.

Cathy states that one of the nice things about this recipe is that there are no set rules. Add a little more of one thing, less of another. Barbecued pork can be substituted for the shrimp, use cashews instead of peanuts, add pineapple instead of mango. There were only a few changes I made, but mostly followed her recipe.

And it is delicious! ... crisp, some sweetness, a little kick, and full of wonderful flavors and healthy ingredients.

Asian Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Slaw
adapted from Cathy at Wives with Knives

6 cups shredded cabbage (about a 2.2 lb fresh cabbage head)
1 carrot, julienned
3 fresh radishes, thinly sliced
2 young green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 cup fresh young Kale leaves, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 pound shrimp, cooked (I grilled them lightly)
1 mango, peeled and diced
2 avocados, peeled and diced

Note: I combined all the above ingredients (except for the avocados) and refrigerated for several hours; prior to serving, the avocados and the dressing were added. The cooked shrimp were grilled slightly; fresh young Kale from the garden was added, and since I did not have chili garlic sauce, I used that which I had on hand, the chili paste.

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
juice of l lime
2 tablespoons honey (raw and unfiltered local honey)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh Asian chili paste (or chili garlic sauce)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup oil

Combine all ingredients except oil. Slowly whisk in oil.

This is one we will make again. Thanks, Cathy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cabbage Soup

Harvested from the hoop house this past week were Carrot Nantes, Cauliflower Graffiti and several more heads of cabbage, Stonehead and an early Golden Acre, plus some Kale which is now in the outside raised beds. And since we have frozen tomatoes from last year's garden, what should a person do? The garden gives you cabbage... make cabbage soup.

Cabbage Soup from Diana's kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground hot (or sweet) Italian sausage
1 medium to large onion (about 2 cups), chopped or sliced
3-4 stalks of celery (about 2 cups) chopped
1 head of fennel (about 2 cups), sliced (optional)
3 cloves garlic, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 carrots, sliced/diced
3 cups diced tomatoes (frozen tomatoes from the garden)
2 large heads of cabbage (5-6 pounds), coarsely chopped
2 (32 oz) containers of chicken broth
Kale, chopped

Heat olive oil in an extra large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add ground hot sausage and cook until slightly browned. Add chopped onion, celery, (fennel), garlic, touch of salt and pepper and saute over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, heat through and simmer for 45 minutes. Add more broth and salt and pepper if needed. If you like more broth, add additional liquid, but we like it without too much. A few minutes before it is done, add kale and heat through. Simple, quick and oh so yummy.

Note: This makes a large quantity of soup, but it makes sense to do so since we enjoy having several meals of it and then freezing the remainder in quart containers for later use. Fennel was omitted this time since it was not available in the garden. And remember that cabbage cooks down so the raw quantity will be greatly reduced when cooked, one-third to one-half. Additionally, since we had local fresh ground pork, it was used in lieu of the hot Italian sausage. Since we like the spicy flavor, I added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, and 1/2 - 1 teaspoon fennel seed to the browned pork.

... and now I see some Cole slaw in our future.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yesterday's Foggy Morning

The month of May brought us continued rain and coolness with temperatures ranging mainly in the mid-fifties to the low 60's. Yesterday we awoke to a 42° (F) foggy morning and an optimistic high forecast of 71. (Be sure to enlarge for I do love the fog in the landscape.)

Had you been here you could have lent a hand: rigging a device of PVC to roll up the opposite sides of the hoop house in order for the heat to escape during high daytime temperatures; pulling more weeds; harvesting two more heads of Cabbage 'Stonehead' and one beautiful Cauliflower 'Graffiti' from the hoop house; planting some cannas; transplanting more of the tomatoes from containers to the outside garden... oh yes, and some beans. In fact you could have been entertained by witnessing two people who overdid it and nearly had to drag themselves inside.

Today, a high of 83, and no, you will not find us working in that. However, with this cool 52 degree morning, a few hours outside seems to be in order.

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education", Mark Twain said.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In The Garden and Hoop House Harvest

These days are reminiscent of last year in this Pacific northwest: cold (59 degrees F), cloudy and rainy. With any glimmer of sun, we head out into the garden in an attempt to play catch-up with what needs to be done and enjoy some of the beauty.

Acer griseum

north side of the garden

Evening Grosbeak

Mrs. Evening Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Western Tanager

Of the iris we have in the garden, the I. sibirica is always the first to bloom, followed by I. germanica, the bearded ones, and then the Japanese which should begin their display during the month of June.

Iris sibirica

I. germanica

I. germanica 'Portrait of Laurie'

I. germanica 'Lacy Snowflake'

Epimedium 'Frohnleiten'

Molinia caerulea

Clematis fremontii

love the Allium in the garden

Our harvests of the last several months have been flowing from the hoop house: spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots, broccoli... and Saturday we harvested three large solid heads (9.3 pounds total) of Cabbage 'Stonehead' and a beautiful Cauliflower 'Cheddar' which weighed 2.5 pounds.

Although our daytime temperature has been mainly in the 50's and low 60's, inside the hoop house it can reach up to 90 degrees with just a bit of sun. At this time of the year, many of the cold weather plants have begun to go to seed, but earlier we duplicated a second offering in the outside raised beds. I dug some of the spinach and transplanted it outside, and peppers have taken its place inside the hoop house. As the rest of the cabbage and remaining cauliflower is removed, eggplant will be planted there.

Tomatoes and peppers all have blossoms. Only half of our tomatoes are outside; the others are still in gallon pots and are becoming root bound. I plan to put them out within the next several days, rain or shine... and the forecast is for more rain. I am encouraged however, as Stupice has two little green tomatoes forming on the vine, and it is in one of the raised beds outside. Considered one of the first tomatoes (and the last) to have fruit, we are hopeful.

The slugs are so bad, and I exclaim that the following is a crime against gardeners. Robin gave me the seeds for this Zucchini 'Cocozelle', and I was so excited that the first one was forming. Guess we will have to wait a bit longer for others to develop.

We attended our dear friends 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday. What a wonderful and blessed occasion! And thank you John and Laurie for hosting their event.

We hope you had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and that you took some time to give thanks for those who have given and risk their life to protect and defend our freedom.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Malus 'Prairifire', An Evening Walk

While walking about the garden last evening and observing the fading blossoms of the Malus 'Prairifire', I thought about the following which I posted over a year ago and that you might enjoy it once again.

When family or friends join us for an evening walk in the garden, I will point out "this is one of my favorite trees". The only problem with that statement is we have planted about 50 specimens over the years, and each was selected because of a particular habit or feature which we found especially appealing. This time of year a spectacular tree happens to be the flowering crabapple, (Malus 'Priarifire').

The photos do some justice to the actual blossom, an unmatched beauty of color in the landscape, and when I see this tree in full bloom, all I can think of is ‘HOT’!

As we start down the path the blue, purple and pink Columbine (Aquilegia), which have freely seeded, cover the area beneath one of the birch trees. Do enjoy the fragrance of the lilac while stopping for a moment to look at the rich purple red foliage of this great maple, Acer Platanoides 'Crimson King' (one of my favorite trees).

The sloping field below the main garden is home for three Malus 'Prairifire'. These 15-20’ trees, rounded in habit, require little or no maintenance, do not drop their fruit, and clearly are quite the showstopper this time of year - a beautiful addition to any garden. (I won't tell you that we planted another young one in the main part of the garden several years ago when we found it on sale.)

Late April generally brings forth their “fire” in the landscape, summer yields reddish green foliage, the fall transforms it into red and orange, and the red berries of fall and winter offer the birds a feast; the bark - a glossy dark reddish brown.

As we approach the bottom of the path and turn toward the right, the towering Cedrus Deodara can be seen in the distance, while the Ligustrum x vicaryi 'Aurea' (privet) nestles beneath the Malus.

A closer look says these two may have something going on.

Shall we walk beyond the Cedrus Deodara and turn back for an opposite view and a wonderful Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum'? Don't you simply love the weeping whimsical stature of this evergreen? Reminds me of a Dr. Seuss character.

We hope you found something to enjoy during this evening walk in the garden. Thank you for being here, and we shall do it again.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lazuli Bunting

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature --if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you --know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.

~ ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you can imagine my joy: yesterday I could not believe my eyes, and of course I couldn't get the camera to focus as it fixated upon the window pane, but you can see the shape, the colors.

You can see it, can't you? The bluebird! I have been waiting for years, hoping one day they would come to visit and make this their home. We even put up a house specifically for them.

This morning at dawn he returned, and he and a white-crowned sparrow fed at the ground below the feeder outside my studio window, each keeping a distance between. Several attempts were made to visit the feeder, but the tentative behavior had him feeding at ground level until he flew away. Will he return?

It doesn't take much to bring a smile to my face. I do believe he's scoping us out, making an assessment. What do you think? Will he raise his family here?
He couldn't find a more loving place to be.

Moments ago he returned to sing me a song.

Update: Today, Tuesday May 24: Sweetbay identified our bluebird as a Lazuli Bunting rather than a Western Bluebird. Thank you, Sweetbay! Even this Oregon Nature Examiner at first identified incorrectly. According to him, Oregon has three blue birds: the Lazuli (Indigo Blue) Bunting, the Mountain Blue Bird and the most common is the Western Blue Bird. What would we do without our internet friends?