Tuesday, August 31, 2021


The theme of the small garden area above, seen as we leave the visitor center and enter the main garden, has changed several times over the years.  For the first time they added a small desert oasis.  

This is the Valgenau Conservatory, a 1,200 square foot glass building. There is an article about its opening at this link, from October 2020.
 It was a surprise to see this new construction since the last time we visited.  At the article's website it says "it is equipped with heaters and automated ventilation windows, will be open for public entry with a focus on Mediterranean plants; plants that thrive in a warmer climate. Public school students are expected to visit frequently to learn about horticulture, geography, and the importance of plants in our environment."
As we headed down the hill, towards the bottom of the garden, we spotted this beauty on our left.  It is the first time we have ever seen a deer at Meadowlark.  The garden has a tall, surrounding fence and a lady who saw us looking, wondered how she had gotten inside. 
We didn't get too close and she was mostly obscured.  She didn't seem to be bothered that we were taking photos, and looked up a couple of times before retreating into the trees.
She was a wonderful surprise.
I spotted a Skipper on the bud of a Crimsoneyed rose-mallow (botanical name Hibiscus moscheutos).
 Below is a bloom not long from opening among the Hardy banana plant (botanical name Musa basjoo).
Flight of fancy here, the flower looks like a skirt made out of crepe.  It would look good on one of those fairies I posted about here.
There were Common milkweeds aplenty...
Next is the American spikenard (Aralia racemosa).
Our walk continues around the garden, and I will share those photos soon.

Thank you for looking and I hope your day is a great one.

Monday, August 30, 2021


As we are thoroughly enjoying anything with Chili Crisp right now, we decided to make a recipe found at Kitchn.  The actual link is here.

Spicy Chili Crisp Chicken Thighs

Servings: 4 to 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

1/4 cup Chili Crisp (see substitution below recipe, also a recipe if you would like to make it and can't find store-bought)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 medium red onion

2 large broccoli crowns (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6). (I actually used skinless, boneless chicken thighs for me as that is what I had in the fridge.)

Sliced scallions, Thai basil or chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)

Rice cooked to package directions, for serving (optional)

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place 1/4 cup Garlic Chili Crisp, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Halve and peel 1 medium red onion. Cut into 1/4-inch thick slices through the root end. 

Cut 2 large broccoli crowns into 1-inch florets. 

Place the onion and broccoli on the baking sheet. 

Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, toss to combine, and spread into an even layer.

Debone 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: Arrange each chicken thigh so it is skin-side down. Using kitchen shears, cut through the meat along both sides of the center bone, making sure not to cut all the way through the meat and skin. Cut off the cartilage at the top and bottom of the bone. Cut underneath the bone, which will cut the bone off completely from the thigh. Use the shears to trim off any excess fat, cartilage, or skin.

Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place the chicken on the vegetables skin-side up. 

Roast until the chicken skin is golden and crisp, about 25 minutes.

Baste the chicken pieces with about 2/3 of the sauce. 

Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are caramelized, about 10 minutes more. 

Sprinkle with sliced scallions, Thai basil or chopped cilantro if desired. Serve with rice and more sauce if desired.

The Kitchn's Notes:

Deboning chicken thighs: Deboning chicken thighs is the best way to get deliciously crisp chicken that you can cut into with a fork. Feel free to start with skin-on, boneless thighs if you can find them, or use bone-in thighs and roast them for an additional 5 minutes in the oven.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

Our notes:

This was delicious and it fills the house with the most wonderful aroma.  

Although this recipe uses the word "Spicy", I didn't find it too hot at all.  I am very wary of too much.  The word "spicy" in this case, for us at least, just makes for the most delicious flavor. You can use less to be sure. 

We had skinless, boneless chicken thighs and not the ones described in the list of original ingredients.  Consequently did not have to debone them. I left this step in just in case you do.   

Our oven runs on the cooler side than most recipes we use, and we always end up cooking for longer than they say.  You may need to adjust your own cooking times.  We added on 10 minutes.

We used Jasmine Rice, our go-to favorite.

I love roasting vegetables and our broccoli in particular was toasty as you will see in my photo, and very yummy.  However, you might want to adjust this for your own taste.  

We also cut our onion into larger pieces.

On the side we added sections of the tomato we bought from the farmer's market the other day.  For such big tomatoes, they were the tastiest, and also added a nice bit of color to the meal.

If you can't find chili crisp you can substitute chiles de arbol or other small dried hot red chiles instead.  You can also substitute 1/4 cup crushed red chile flakes, or follow the recipe the Kitchn  supplied.  

We bought our chili crisp at our local supermarket in the Asian cuisine section, hopefully you can too if you decide to make this dish.  The picture below shows the brand we like.

Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp 7.41 oz. (210g)

You will most likely be able to get this from an Asian Supermarket.  Failing that you can order on line at Amazon here.  This is the only one we have ever bought, but you may see a different brand where you are.

Kitchn's recipe for Chili Crisp.

Peel and thinly slice 2 heads of garlic (about 1/2 cup garlic slices).  Place the garlic and 1 cup canola oil in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the garlic is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Darkly browned garlic will taste bitter, so keep an eye on the mixture as it cooks.  

Meanwhile, prepare the ginger mixture.

Peel and grate a 1-inch piece of gingeer (about 1 tablespoon grated ginger), then place in a large bowl.  Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

When the garlic oil is ready, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of ginger and stir to combine.  Let the oil mixture and the garlic in the strainer cool separately to room temperature (this makes for crisper garlic flakes).  Once cooled, stir the garlic into the oil mixture.  You can look at the recipe at this link.

The above comes with a Butter-baked Saltine Cracker recipe.  The chili crisp is mixed into Greek yogurt for the dip.  I am going to have to try it sometime.  Also looks wonderful!  

We have leftovers.

Adding the actual links below.

Spicy Chili Crisp Chicken Thigh recipe:

Spicy Chili Crisp Chicken Thighs | Kitchn (thekitchn.com)

Chili Crisp recipe:


We both enjoyed this meal very much, a definite keeper.

Thanks for looking, my thanks to The Kitchn.  I hope everyone's week is a great one.

Friday, August 27, 2021


This is about what we did yesterday.  It makes me smile now, with maybe a little eye-roll.  At the time, let's just say I bought some extras that I had not intended to buy.  

We decided to go to the Farmer's Market in Manassas, one where we knew we would get the same delicious vegetables that we had last time.  There were also more stalls, not that we saw a lot of them.  

We had a pleasant ride over, but started out early.  Thankfully all the heavy rush hour traffic was going in the opposite direction, heading into the city (and we came back a different route to avoid all that).  

Last time we parked on the multi-story parking lot just around the corner, but today Gregg saw an opening right next to the market.  It was convenient.  However, backing into the parking space proved to be challenging, and we ended up too far off the curb.  I suggested I get outside to help.  Oh boy!

Therein lies the rub...there was a bandstand nearby with a group of six to seven older gentleman, (okay - not much older than us), and I guess we were the early morning entertainment.  It took a bit of going forward and a bit of going backward and forward, back and forth, back and forth.  I was doing my best telling Gregg how much room he had to maneuver, and then suddenly one of the chaps from the bandstand came over and, with hands on hips, stated that the car was still too far away from the curb.  

And I looked and smiled, then four more helpers started yelling over directions to Gregg, and I got totally flummoxed!  I felt my face getting flushed with embarrassment and I was ready to move on.  What can I say?  I have been away from people way too long, in my own little cocoon of peace and contentment.

Gregg couldn't hear me by this time and when he finally got out of the car after parking, one of the chaps yelled over, "You are still too far from the curb!"  They were all trying to be so helpful, God bless their cotton socks.  Gregg said with a smile and a chuckle, "Close enough!" and added that he was way closer than the truck in front of us and the car behind us.  From the way they had parked, they probably had had the same help as us

Me?  I couldn't wait to get out of there fast enough and headed for the market way in front of Gregg.

We bought two corn on the cobs, a couple of large tomatoes, a sweet red pepper, three sweet potatoes, a bigger zucchini and yellow squash than I have ever bought, great looking radishes, a container of Brussels Sprouts, and then....

 my feet started heading for the Good Harvest stall next door, where I bought two delicious looking, and chosen for their small size, loaves of bread and a bag of onion, garlic and cheese hamburger rolls.  

Gregg said "I thought we weren't buying any bread?"  (Just before we left I said "No bread, let's try low carb for a couple of days or so.")  I said, "I know what I said but I am feeling a tad discombobulated!" - this as I looked over towards the bandstand. He laughed and we drove home, with our bread, noticing that we were not offered any help this time.  They had moved on to other things.  But, as we drove out of our spot, there was another car sliding in behind us, as both truck in front, and previous car behind, had already left.  Easy-peasy getting out this time, and not as much entertainment as when we had arrived for some I'm sure.  And I said as we left, "Let's park on the multi-story parking lot next time." At which he replied, "Nah, wouldn't be as much fun!"  I do believe that's when the eye-roll appeared.  

Thankful I don't have to get on those stilts and pick my own hops, talking about challenging, and impressive! Photo courtesy of Sweet Other Half who found this on line and knows I enjoy these old historical photos.

We will be having French Toast for breakfast tomorrow.  We had a totally vegetarian meal last night and will have another tonight, and I shoved all but one of the small loaves of bread in the freezer for whenever, with me saying "Okay, can't possibly get any more in that freezer.  Let's not buy any more okay?" (this directed to me and the mouse in my pocket).  It's not that big of a freezer but it would groan at anything larger than a grape.  

Gregg thinks I am so good at finding spaces in it because I am good at jigsaw puzzles, and I treat our freezer like one.  Maybe!

So, how are you at parallel parking or stuffing your freezer?

Once again I thank you for stopping by, and have a happy and healthy weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


He was keeping his eyes open to see if he could find any birds for me at the garden.  However, apart from a few Canada Geese which I always welcome, I didn't take any photos of any other feathered friends. They proved elusive!  Maybe next time.

There were lots of other things to see and I am putting together a post to be shared very soon.  I haven't had much time for the computer, so am a bit slow getting one done.  

Thank you for the many comments you have been leaving.  Always a lovely part of blogging reading them, and visiting your blogs which always gives me a smile.

The tin frog above has been a part of Meadowlark Gardens for many years.  He resides in the children's garden and you may remember him from other posts.  If I could find one like him I would be tempted to put him in our own garden.  He has become like an old dear friend I visit whenever I get over there.

Thanks for always stopping by.  I hope your upcoming weekend will be happy and healthy, and that you will enjoy the rest of your week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021


 at Meadowlark Gardens.  We were happy to be there again and it was a bit of a shock to realize it was our first time this year.  In fact we were trying to figure out when it was, and we both thought it was sometime last Fall.

The Fairy Garden is in front of the visitor center as you walk out the door and go to your left.  It had a new sign.
I was happy to see a few of the older fairies and friends, and delighted to see the new neighbors in fairy town.
More gnomes have moved in and there were get-togethers to welcome the newcomers.  They were singing...
A Fairy Song
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire!
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
~William Shakespeare~
If you go to this link at Wikipedia, it describes fairies as being "...a type of mythical being or legendary creature found in the folklore of multiple European cultures (including Celtic, Slavic, German, English and French folklore), a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural." 
At this website you will read that "the Norse versions of the fairies are the wide variety of elves, and the disir that exist in the Teutonic traditions.  The Valkyries could be classified as fairies."
"The Female spirits known as the Disir (pronounced "DEE-sir;" Old Norse, Old Saxon idisi)  are one of the most enigmatic and vexing groups of beings in the mythology and religion of the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples."

"It was during the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England, where William Shakespeare (1564-1616) had popularized fairies in English folklore, in his play Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the characters Oberon, Titania and Puck (Robin Goodfellow). Earlier than Shakespeare, Chaucer (1342-1400) mentioned that the land of Britain was filled with fairies before the time of King Arthur."
If you pop into Pinterest every now and again, this link will take you to lots of ideas if you are interested in starting a Fairy Garden.  At this point in my life I won't be, but I do enjoy looking at the one next to the visitor center at Meadowlark Gardens.
It's been fun sharing the photos I took there last Sunday.  There will be others from the rest of the garden soon.

Monday, August 23, 2021


When I made these it was very hot.  It had been in the high 90s for several days, and my mind kept going to popsicles.  I was happy to find this week's recipe here at "...Shortcuts...", hosted by Amanda. As it only had three ingredients, four if you included the optional choice, I was ready to make them.  

They turned out great, thanks to Amanda's recipe, and these 'big kids' liked them too (Amanda has young ones, and has recipes catered to them, and also a craft section for your own kids or grandkids.  A fun blog to take a peak when you have the time.

Pineapple Orange Banana Popsicles

1 banana, mashed

1 cup chopped pineapple, fresh, frozen or canned

½ cup orange juice

1 to 2 tablespoons Coconut Milk (optional)


Puree all of the ingredients in a blender. Pour into popsicle mold and allow to freeze thoroughly over night. Remove from mold and serve.

We enjoyed ours very much, though my batch only filled 5 of my molds.  I will double the ingredients next time, now that I know they are very yummy.

Amanda bought her mold from Amazon at this link.

I have individual ones that fit in a tray and truth be told my fingers seem to be a little too big to fit between.  I knocked a couple out and contents from one splashed my blouse. I couldn't get two lids to fit properly and pressed down too hard.  Ah well, a wee bit klutzy and I may have been a wee bit tired.  I should have had my morning coffee and eased more into the day.  The lids seemed to be getting more difficult to fit over each mold.  I will try with another batch one more time with the molds I have.  If there is another spillage, grumbles and eye rolls to the ceiling, on top of a change of clothes before 8.00 a.m., I might go ahead and buy the new ones.  

I decided to add in Amanda's option of the coconut milk idea, though I didn't want to open a whole can for just 2 tablespoons.  I had what was left of a small container of full fat cream in the fridge from a previous baking session, and used that.  I am not sure this made any difference, so next time with leave this option out.

They work out to approximately 77 calories a popsicle, a nice sweet treat without over indulging.

I am happy to say they were delicious and we both enjoyed them.  Keeping this in my 'when the weather hits the 90s' folder to make again.  

Thanks for looking and I hope your day is a great one.

Bon Appetit!