Monday, June 29, 2009

Gardens Gone Wild!

OK, so I'm impatient. You may or may not recall my ranting last year about my garden, or lack thereof as I had planted several fine specimens and was disgusted at the slow pace in which they were (not) filling in. Before:

And now fast forward nearly one year later:

Much improved over last year, with the addition of the new rock wall around the tree, and oh yeah, the PLANTS! The above pic was taken two weeks ago, and now after the scorching heat and torrential rains, all is lush and dense-like (including the MANY weeds):

I made a truce with the walnut tree, it will continue to poison the ground with its juglone and I will only plant juglone-tolerant plants. And for some reason, the squirrels and bunnies aren't much problem anymore either, I won't question why, don't want to jinx that...

So now that it's all coming together nicely you'd think I'd be content with just relaxing and enjoying the wonder that is nature...but no. See, I still have a jones to buy more plants. And while this was justified last year, kind of seems redundant this year. But I keep doing it anyway, because that's just how I roll. What am I going to do with this plants, you ask? Got me. Oh wait, I know! I'll dig up established plants and replace them with new ones!!! Behold my lunacy:

In all fairness, the plant, a sedum, that I had there originally was WAY too prolific, tried to take over my beloved Scotch moss (which is now dying due to the heat last week BTW). My Mom-in-law gave me a few clumps last year and it went bat-assed crazy this year! It is now happily ensconced around the walnut tree, cascading over the rock wall like a good trailer should:

And speaking of sedum, let's take a tour, shall we? As of last year, I'm a big fan of sedum (this is my very first official garden being a first-time home owner and such) so how about some glamour shots.

This one is gorgeous, a light chartreuse color. It's called Japanese Odon Sedum. The photo doesn't do it justice:

This one is Sea Urchin, note the moss growing in the lower left corner. I found out last year that you really can't plant moss, more like just give it a general suggestion. It takes up residence where it wants.

These are Blue Spruce and Angelique:

I think this one is Autumn Joy, or Showy, either way, it gets about 15 to 18 inches tall!

This one is stonecrop, it's blooming now...really pretty purple flowers!

Showing the other plants some lovin... These bad boys popped up briefly after the rain, so cute!

I thought this fern died last year, but it surprised me. Love the perennials!

Two of the groundcovers I went with are moneywort (creeping jenny) and mazus. They have filled in nicely, but are a little aggressive this year! Witness the Clash of the Groundcover:

The bigger leaves are moneywort and the smaller ones are mazus. They both flower in the spring, it was so pretty. They spread a little too eagerly, as witnessed by my Irish moss:
While last year I coveted every inch of plant in my meager garden, this year I have to rip the groundcover from the other plants to keep them from, well, covering them. The plan is to take them all the way to the road, and that should be no problem this year, given how much they've grown already since May. For a little color, we've also added bugleweed:
Love the contrast of the red-violet leaves and the blue-violet flowers...and isn't that a nice name? Bugleweed. Also called ajuga. And yes, it's also an aggressive spreader....Sweet! Hence the "weed" in it's name...
So that's what I've been up to, that and pulling weeds, which I pretty much have to do on daily basis. Good times. But in the end, it's worth it! Now I just have to find another place to put a new garden.....
Yea more plants!!!
All for now,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Melancholy Begins, aka the End of Vacation

Always happens as vacation draws to a close, especially when you have a 12 hour car ride staring you in the face. So we planned to make the most of day 5. Hubby Nugget wanted to do an alpine slide, and I wanted to check out Dinosaur Ridge. It's nice to have plans.

So after our fabulous breakfast, HN headed out for a quick hike upstream, and Little Nugget and I chilled out at the cabin. She mostly watched her beloved Wonder Pets while I made some earrings, a long-overdue jewelry-making session. When HN got back, he asked if I wanted to go out for a little Mommy-only exploring time, and I said "Oh hell yeah!"

So he watched the Monkey while I ventured forth into moss-lovers heaven. I warn you now, there are a lot of glamour shots of moss in this next section.

In past posts, I may have casually mentioned that I enjoy a good moss. So much so that I tried to plant some in my garden last year, which had mixed results in that the squirrels kept thinking I put it there for them to dig up, and I was under the misconception that it was my garden and what I put in the ground was supposed to stay put. Long story short, my battle with the squirrels ended with me obsessively putting moss pins in the ground like staples to keep them from removing the green goodness, all the while muttering expletives to squirrels who mocked me from above, perched high in the walnut tree chirping at me the whole time. Smartasses. This year we called a truce: I vowed to not plant moss and they hop around and dig as they please.

I digress. Point is, I love moss. And at this place, I seriously could have just plopped down and rolled around in it if I wanted to. I chose to take pics instead. Aren't you glad?!

I have no idea what this is. It was really cool, though:

I just couldn't get over how lush it was:

This stuff was fan-like, so pretty:

This little spot was like a moss nursery, tiny little newborn, baby moss goodness! And lichen too! Behold:

I did manage to switch the camera off macro mode for a nice general shot of the forest floor:

Hubby Nugget had hoped to find some mushrooms, but didn't on his hike. I stumbled upon this little guy on an upturned tree trunk:

Not a morel, but a real cutie nonetheless! That pine cone in the corner was about an inch long, just to give you an idea of the mushroom size.

I also climbed up the rocks behind the cabin, checked out some caves (from a distance, was a little afraid that critters could be lurking within). By the time I got back, it was lunchtime, and it was pretty clear that we didn't want to go into town. So after lunch, we all took a nap, (yea!!!) then went out for more fun in the woods.

Our super-sweet outdoorsy girl in her element:

We were pretty sad to leave!

And that's how Team Nugget spent our summer vacation!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Team Nugget Puts on it's Best Bib and Tucker, Day 4

Sorry about the title to the post, I'm running out of ideas and hit a Wild Wild West slang directory. The point is, on day four we had some serious plans!

Plan 1: Play in the forest. Plan 2: Take a nap. Plan 3: Go out to a fancy dinner in Denver.

Plan 1 was a no brainer, and we headed into the woods with glee. Monkey took time to tickle the tree, why it needed tickling, I don't know. But tickle she did.

No discussion of Colorado is complete without the obligatory shot of alpines from below, reaching high into the beautiful, crisp mountain sky.

Next, the Little Nugget felt compelled to shake "hands" with another tree. She's a complicated girl. But it makes for some awesome pics.

We stopped for a mid-hike photo op!

We were happily playing with rocks when it suddenly started to snow! Not sure you can see it here, but know that any visible white specks are frozen precipitation:

Since I was wearing black, we tried to capture the snow on camera with me posed in a most dorky snow-gathering game-show-hostess fashion:

So inside we went as the mountain temps plummeted, with grand hopes of naps and sleep and rest...and yeah, that didn't happen. Somebody didn't take a nap despite our best efforts to provoke her into slumberland. We were pretty sleepy, does that count? Uh, no. Plan 2, unsuccessful.

On to plan 3. Dinner at Rioja in Denver. Of course on the drive there, we were assuming the Sweet Babygirl would nap in the car. No. Not until oh, 5 minutes outside Denver. Crappidy-crap-crap. Usually those are the makings of impending doom, but we were optimistic. Fools.

OK, we were early, which was good, so we drove around the city and got to see some of lovely downtown Denver. We saw many signs proclaiming that Denver loved the Nuggets, and we were touched by the sentiment. ;-) Folks were so nice! We love you too!

Our reservation time was drawing near, so we decided to head towards the restaurant and park. By then the Little Nugget was awake, and decidedly NOT happy about that situation, and Hubby Nugget had to pee, so we found a spot tout de suite, only to discover that it was 15 bucks an hour! HA! Dude! Don't get me wrong, I'm no rube, I know it's costly to park in the city, I'm just saying, we were hoping to find a better deal, cuz that's just how we roll. So round and round and round we went. After 10 more minutes of screaming Monkey and increasing urinary distress on behalf of the Hubby Nugget, we finally said OH DEAR GOD LET'S USE THE VALET!

So we whipped the car up to the curb, scrambled out, and the Little Nugget upon disembarking mid-meltdown, saw fit to throw a tube of Burt's Bees lip balm as she emerged from the car, barely missing said Valet. After profuse apologies, we took off around the block to walk it off, and luckily the meltdown subsided, but Hubby Nugget was quite uncomfortable, so we headed to the restaurant a little early. No problem, they had our table ready! Sweet!

OK, how to describe our dining experience...FAN-f*ing-tastic. OK, first off, Monkey was distracted by the enormous bag of usually forbidden toys, plus I gave her a snack cup full of mangos, nuts and marshies. Honestly, she was set and could have really cared less that we were there. She was in her own little world playing with all these tiny, intricate things that I brought for her. Sah-weet! This is most unusual, and quite enjoyable. So let's get on to the sweet-assed meal...

Appetizer: (from their online menu) Flight of artisan goat cheese: Camilla, Caprino lucano di Grotto, Harbourne Blue. rhubarb-strawberry jam, almond cracker, red wine gelee

Team Nugget loves us some goat cheese. So much that I want a goat (don't laugh, I know I already have The Bug, and that little bastard is as close to a goat as you can get). Blue cheese is not a fav of mine, but slather come rhubarb-strawberry jam on it, and it rocks pretty hard. But the best was the red wine gelee, kind of like a red wine gummy bear, only soft, and not bear shaped, and crusted in sugar. Dude. We paired a wine with that, but I don't remember the name. It was good too. I should have taken pics.

Entrees: For Hubby Nugget, Grilled Hawaiian blue prawns and crispy pork belly, green papaya salad, chili-vinegar gastrique, sweet ginger peanuts, peanut sauce. For Me: Seared sea scallops, lemon crème fraîche crispy risotto, mango arugula salad. Found a pic of mine online:

I can't even begin to describe how yummy this was. Hats off to chef Jennifer Jasinski! It was awesome. I paired mine with a pinot noir, and Hubby Nugget paired his with a Spanish wine. I'm really terrible with remembering wine names. Must improve that as we plan to open a winery one of these days...note to self...

Now Hubby Nugget REALLY wanted to order salad & or soup too, and it would have totally rocked super hard, but I said we have GOT to order dessert at a place like this. It was a good call because we got this:

Dessert: Warm cashew tart, chocolate and espresso custard, toasted cashews, vanilla bean ice cream, Hawaiian sea salted caramel; and Sweet goat cheese and black mission fig filled beignets with ruby port wine reduction. Pastry chef Eric Dale deserves a kiss on the mouth for the goat cheese beignets! Seriously. I can't remember the last time I had something so delicious. We had these with champagne, white and rose. The rose was SO good with the cashew tart.

Mad props for the bread too, I could have really been happy with just a plate of bread and a glass of wine, really! I mean come on, lavender biscuits?! You can bet I'll be harvesting my lavender plants this summer and trying to whip up a batch of my own! And the sourdough was superb. Jeez, my mouth is watering!

After the food orgy, the waiter complimented us on how well-behaved our daughter was. He remarked on how he and his wife never go out to nice restaurants because the kids just can't stay still that long. We tried not to snort champagne out our noses and thanked him for the compliment. He got a big tip, too, :-)

So we walked out like rockstars, Babygirl lookin all sassy with her awesome outfit and supercute black patent flipflops (a la Walmart!). All the women just about pissed themselves at how cute she looked (patting myself on the shoulder!). Walked up to the valet stand, they fetched our car and the dude commented on how he'd never had chapstick thrown at him! Now that's good stuff!

In all, day 4 was a smashing success!

More later,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nuggets Gone Wild, Day 3!

We got motivated on Day 3 to venture out of the forest, and made our way to the Denver Zoo. But on the way, signage to 1-70 was a tad confusing, and by happy accident, we ended up in Morrison, CO, at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. We had planned to make our way there anyway, so it was a nice pit stop on the way to the zoo:

Now we know that we will definitely have to go back and catch a concert there!

It was spectacular!

Once in Denver, we headed for the zoo, and found it without incident. Parking sucked, and of course we didn't bring the stroller, because there wasn't enough room in the car. Hubby Nugget bravely carried the "Little" Nugget for what seemed like miles to the zoo entrance, but once inside, we rented a wagon. Of course she wanted to walk. All in all, it was a good experience. We immediately had lunch to ensure continued success of the outing:

She enjoyed the Daddy time, and Hubby Nugget got to spend some good quality time with the Sweet Babygirl! (she's usually clinging to Mommy, so this was good for both of us! Win, Win!!)
She didn't enjoy the larger animals, was a bit scared actually, so we were happy to see the drums outside the primate area: Our little Monkey likes to drum, which she gets from Daddy (and Papa), of course!

Once in the tropical rain forest area, Little Nugget demonstrated why she's called "Monkey:"
She also made friends with a lizard who was oddly pressed against the glass right by her head:

It's a little hard to see in the tiny pic, so feel free to click on it to "supersize!" It was pretty funny!
There were some really cool critters there, I won't bore you with all the shots I got, but honestly, Little Nugget was only excited about the animals she recognized from her beloved "Wonder Pets" dvds. It took us awhile to catch on, but when she started to sing the WP theme song to the kangaroos, we got the picture and adjusted our animal choices accordingly. Well, mostly. We like the animals too. But yeah, it was pretty cute with her singing to the turtles: "Whas gun wuhrk? TEEAWUHRK!" (lyric translation: "What's going to work? Teamwork!" Be thankful you don't know ALL THE LYRICS BY HEART.)

So the day at the zoo concluded with the Sweet Babygirl turning into a pumpkin and going into tantrum/overstimulated/exhausted mode, and us having to walk a gazillion miles back to the car with her fussing all the way and us feeling frustrated, tired, and ready for a drink. Moral of the story: YOU NEED A STROLLER WHEN YOU TRAVEL, REGARDLESS OF HOW LITTLE SPACE YOU HAVE IN THE CAR!!!! Strap that some-bitch to the hood if you have to.

Lesson learned!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nuggets on the Loose in Colorado, Day 2

Determined to get in some relaxation time, day two was spent around the cabin. We were a little tuckered due to the drive, and the altitude didn't really help much. So playing in the woods seemed to be the thing to do. After breakfast, we headed out! Oh yeah, Royal Ranch Judy made these FABULOUS breakfast burritos and choco chip muffins for us during our stay! To quote the Sweet Babygirl, "MMM...nummy and dee-wish-ous!!!"

We decided to tentatively check out the forest. I say tentatively because we were in the black bear's house, and it's not good form to diss your hosts, especially when they have large claws and big sharp teeth. Luckily, no bear sightings, really not many animal sightings at all...not sure if that's good or bad. But we know that critters were cruisin about at night, because they left poopy calling cards scattered around the general vicinity of the cabin. I'm not a poop expert, so not sure really what animals we're talking about, but that's also probably a good thing.

The other factor in our slow-paced journey was the air, or lack of it more specifically. Mad props to the crazy bastards we saw bicycling around the mountains. Geez. It took me a half day to be able to move around without getting dizzy. Oh and speaking of environmental differences, when we got to the cabin, we had to unscrew all the caps on toiletries, etc to keep them from exploding in our luggage. How cool is that! And the water we brought from home ended up being carbonated when we got there! Well, not carbonated, but I guess the oxygen something or other sciencey-blah-blah-blah. Yeah, I can't explain it, I understand it, but Hubby "Science Boy" Nugget is the person who should really explain that phenomenon. All I know is that our toothpaste doesn't plump up like a piping hot hotdog at home...

After playing in the woods, we came back and had a nap after lunch....ahhhh. We left the window open so we could hear the mountain stream bubbling in the background...ahhhh! Seriously, it couldn't have been more relaxing even if they provided on-call masseuses. Well, yeah a hot tub or hot mud bath would make it a tiny bit more relaxing, but really, you just can't get better than napping by a mountain stream. After we woke up, we goofed off, had a leisurely dinner, HN watched the NBA playoffs, and I read mindless fluffy fashion and jewelry design magazines, gloriously self-indulgent and something I rarely get to do...ahhhhh! Oh scratch that, something I rarely ALLOW myself to do. Little Nugget, who was also on vacation, got to climb all over the couch in squirmy-worm fashion while watching her beloved "YahPets" (Wonder Pets), without any admonishment from Mommy (unless it involved dangerous maneuvers, of course).

Ahhh, RElaxing!


Westward Ho!

Last Week, Team Nugget took a much needed vacation and headed to the mountains of Colorado. It was glorious to say the least. Now some people might be a little nervous at the thought of hopping in the car for an 11 hour ride across the Great Plains with an energetic toddler, but not Team Nugget. Monkey is a traveler extraordinaire, thanks in part to my former 2 hour 40 minute round trip work commute during the first year of her life. The girl can roll. And roll we did, without incident.

Oh don't get me wrong, I expected a meltdown somewhere in western Kansas, and was equipped with the tools to deal: the coveted (by parents everywhere) portable DVD player and an arsenal of annoying toddler DVDs. Little Nugget is well acquainted with such items at home, but we managed to never need them in the car, so pulling out the DVD player is one big gun. But the fuss-fest never came! Awesome! So somewhere among the prairie grass and antelope, we pulled out the electronics, just for the fun of it. Monkey was surprised, to say the least:

Stopped in her tracks! She just kept looking at us like, "you mean we can have the Wonder Pets in THE CAR???!!!!" To say she was pleased is an understatement:

It was pretty cute.

We finally arrived at our destination, a cabin called the Royal Roost located in the Front Range at Bailey, CO, about an hour out of Denver. It was run by a super nice couple, Tom and Judy, who run Royal Ranch, offering cool llama adventures!

We didn't get to go hiking with the llamas, but we will on our return!

So after we checked in at the Ranch, Tom lead us to the cabin, a secluded get-away nestled in the woods that backed up to the Pike National Forest. As we drove up the trail, the temperature dropped, and the rain started to freeze! I was a little worried because we had wanted to take the SUV, but the dealership didn't get the maintenance done in time. So my tiny little Matrix had to off-road up this rocky road. She was a trooper! We made it to the cabin, and were struck by the beauty of our new surroundings. In front of the cabin flowed Deer Creek:

The sound of the water was SOOOO relaxing! And this was our scenery at 9200 feet:

Hubby Nugget joked to Tom that they were going to have to chase us out at the end of the week, and he was right! Ahhhh! Once in the cabin, Hubby Nugget built an awesome fire in the fireplace, and we chilled out. Can't get any better than that!
And so that concludes day one of Team Nugget's grand adventure!
All for now,