I love quail!  I love watching the mommies and daddies with their little babies running behind them.  I love the little top feather, they are just so cute.  Recently I went to an arts and crafts fair in Santa Barbara and picked up a handmade metal set.IMG_1637

Aren’t they cute!!  Looking at them everyday (or more than once a day!) as I come home from some errand makes me happy.


This year my tomato plants are very prolific.  Everyday we get lots and lots of them.  Even with the wildlife (squirrels and rats) eating well, we are able to salvage quite a few.  These are the ones from yesterday.


These are just the ones the kids didn’t eat before I got to them!

There is really no way we can eat all the tomatoes that are coming off the vines.  I didn’t want to waste any so I started preparing them to freeze.  Later this winter I can make some really yummy spaghetti sauce with them.


After they have been boiled.

First I wash the tomatoes and pull out the stems.  Then I place them in boiling water for about 2 minutes (until the skins start to split).  After the skins split, they go into a bath of ice water.


Ready to freeze.

Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, the skins slip right off them.  I cut out the core and then quarter them and halve the quarters.  That is what you see in the above picture.


This will make just about enough for one meal. Most likely, I will use two of these bags to make sure I have enough.

One bowl of prepared tomatoes makes one bag ready for the freezer to cook up later.  Yum!


I have always wanted to grow gourds to make into bird houses, but have never actually done it.  This year I was at my local gardening center and found seeds for gourds that are specifically used for bird houses and feeders.  I was so excited to bring these home and plant them!  It seemed to take forever for the plants to emerge from the ground.IMG_0861

I didn’t notice this one at first.  It is hidden in the middle of the plant.  I just love the different colors and I wonder if after picked and dried if the colors will remain.IMG_0863

There are tons of these guys all over their plant.  I hope they grow big!  There have been a couple that have stopped growing and rotted, but there are still many that look great.  I am crossing my fingers for these!IMG_0862

This is the only gourd produced by this particular plant.  The vine is beautiful and big, but only this one fruit.  It is a nice shape, though.

Birdbath Finish!

I have been working on this on and off for a LONG time!  I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted it to look like, but getting it there has been a process.IMG_0896

First,  I picked out my terra cotta pots.  Three big ones, one little one, one big dish and one little dish.  I washed them to get rid of the dust and glued them together with Liquid Nails.  Then they were painted with three coats of black acrylic paint.  I did not paint the insides of the dishes.

The flowers and hummingbirds are from napkins I found at Diddams and cut apart.  After cutting out the motifs from the napkins, I decoupaged them with mod podge all around the outside of the bird bath.  This took quite a bit of time because I wanted something that was not too crowded, but covered just enough to be interesting and not sparse.  I did this part over several months – I would work on it continuously and then take a break because I didn’t like it, this went on and on.  Finally, I felt good about the design.

While the decoupaging was going on, my kids were weighing in about the dishes that would hold the water for the birds.  Some of them wanted me to paint them like the ocean, others wanted me to use mosaic tiles.  I had never used mosaic tiles and wanted to give that a try.  Doing mosaic is quite an experience.  I purchased the tiles and the adhesive and went to work placing each tile.  I had a general idea of what I wanted – the kids all helped – and it turned out pretty much like I thought.

There were two more sticking points for me where this project languished.  The first was grouting the tiles.  I had never done that either.  After a couple of months I bit the bullet and bought the grout and just dove right in.  Easy peasy, nothing to worry about.  I had both dishes grouted in under an hour.  Why did I wait so long!!  The second sticking point was what to seal it with to protect it from the elements.  I chose a satin sealer from Alleen’s that I purchased at Michael’s.  This needed three coats to make the item totally water tight.  I did the first coat and the bird bath was no longer shiny (I totally hated it!).  I did the second coat and it was even worse – now it looked like there was an opaque film over the entire thing – UGH…I was so upset I was actually crying.  My husband suggested marine varnish – I thought there was nothing to lose since I hated my project anyway.  We came home from OSH and I applied the first coat.  What a difference!!  It was shiny and the opaque quality now just added to the over all appeal.  I needed to do two coats 24 hours apart.  After the second coat, I am totally in love with the bird bath again!!  It is sitting out in my front courtyard garden, right in the middle and looking at it just makes me happy!IMG_0895

The only drawback to the marine varnish is that it has a slightly yellow tint to it so the grout and the white tiles now look slightly yellow.  I can live with that!!  Next time I’m going to try to find something for sealant that is shiny and completely clear.

More Ripe Vegetables

This was taken yesterday morning as I was outside watering.  Our cucumber plants are still giving us lots!  As are the tomato plants.

This is what I did with the tomatoes. By noon there were only the two biggest ones left.  I prepped them and froze them.  They will be made into sauce when it gets cooler and I have more.

Last night, we ate dinner outside and I noticed more cucumbers ready to be picked.  Good thing we love cucumbers!!

Love my garden!

Every morning when I go outside that’s what I think, “I Love My Garden!”

My very first garbanzo beans ever!!

These are the first cucumbers of the season. Fresh from the garden always tastes the best!

A beautiful pumpkin!

And more pumpkins are coming along.

A new watermelon!

And more watermelons. I think there are 6 in all.

The lone ripe Purple Queen bean.

The monster tomato bushes.