Tuesday, October 31, 2023


I had already gone upstairs and Gregg was next, but first he looked out the window.  This is the sight that greeted him.  More on our little trick or treater in another post.
My witchy photo is the same as last year, but does have a few changes. It is a house in our neighborhood taken in the dark with my cell phone.  I added a larger witch in the foreground this time.  This family always does a great job decorating for Halloween.
Tonight we went for a drive around the neighborhood.  We had a lot of fun stopping, looking and taking photos.  We started out in the half light and as it got darker, everyone's decorations came to life.  

This scary ghost was outside our community center (the little ghost decided to visit from pixabay.com).
Watch out little ghost!

Getting really spooky...
and I did not like this one at all!
That ends the neighborhood decorations for this year.  I thought I would finish off with a few cute jigsaw puzzles I have been putting together.  Some are leftovers from last Halloween that I didn't get to publish in time.

A lot more photo heavy than I usually do, but I wanted to get them all out and not wait again until next year.  

I haven’t bought any bags of candy yet. Keeping it out of the house as long as I can.  
Happy Halloween Everyone!

Monday, October 30, 2023


A few days it was very cold and my inner clock signaled it was time to make beef stew, the first time since last winter.   I am always trying different stew recipes and this one came from Cook2eatwell hosted by Elizabeth.  The original recipe can be seen at this link.

BEEF STEW by Cook2EatWell

Serves 4

Calories: approximately 359 per portion 

1 pound beef sirloin tip, cut into small bite sized pieces

1½ teaspoon salt divided (1 teaspoon for the beef, ½ teaspoon for the stew, plus extra at the end if needed)

1 tablespoon olive oil or use your favorite vegetable oil

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

2 carrots, cut into rounds or half rounds depending on their size

1 celery rib, sliced

8 ounces mushrooms, leave these whole or sliced depending on preference

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups beef broth, low sodium if you can get it

12 ounces red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

Season the beef with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the beef.

Cook the beef for 3-5 minutes until browned. Stir and turn the pieces occasionally to brown on all sides.

Add the mushroom and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes until they start to turn golden in spots.

Next, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.

Add butter and when it melts add the flour. Cook, while stirring, for 2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

Raise the heat and add the beef broth while stirring briskly, gently scraping any bits off the bottom of the pot. Continue stirring until the flour mixture is absorbed.

Bring the broth to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook the beef stew for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep it at a simmer. Raise or lower the heat as needed.

Add the diced potatoes to the stew and raise the heat to bring the broth back to a boil. When it is boiling, lower the heat to medium to medium-low to keep the broth at a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Add salt to taste if needed.

Serve with slices of bread for dipping, or a nice crusty roll.  You can go without as this is a very hearty soup.

Notes from Elizabeth, the blog host:

"Beef – Use sirloin tips for this stew because it is a tender cut of meat without requiring a long cooking time. However, beef chuck is a common cut used for stews. Beef round and brisket can also be used, but they will take more time to breakdown and become tender.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To freeze the stew, cool it quickly and place in airtight containers that are appropriate for freezing. Remember to leave an inch or two to allow for expansion. Label and freeze for 2-3 months.

Gently, reheat the soup in a covered saucepan over medium-low to low heat until heated through (at least 165°F), stir occasionally – or reheat in the microwave.

For more information on food storage and safety guidelines visit U.S. Department of Agriculture at foodsafety.gov."

My notes:

We didn't buy the sirloin tips and purchased sirloin beef strips by mistake. These were thinly sliced but they seemed to work well.  I think I would just go ahead and buy stewing met next time and cook it longer.

We added extra vegetables that we like, the carrots, potatoes and the mushrooms.  

The broth turned out wonderfully tasty.  I think cooking everything in the pan before adding the broth, enriched the flavor tremendously.  

I always add a glass of red wine when adding the beef broth.  I watched a cooking show once, can't remember what it was now, but after adding the wine the flavor seemed to go up a notch.  Then of course you can have a glass with the meal, so buy your favorite red if using.

When adding the flour I always add a little extra by heaping each tablespoon.  The original recipe thickens it nicely, but we like it even a little thicker. Entirely your preference.

A really delicious soup and one we happily added to the 'make-again' folder.

You can copy and paste the address below into your search engine, if you would rather do that than follow the second link at the beginning of my post.


Sunday, October 29, 2023


but first, the plants in the two pots are hanging in there. I thought their hiatus at the side of the house would have done them in by now. We kept forgetting to water them, but thankfully there was enough rain to keep them going.
I found the buffet-style table online. It's made out of the same material as most of the deck. It came in a flat, oblong box. My dear other half got his toolkit out and put it together.  As mentioned before, not being able to hang anything on the rail or sprinkle the seed on the top (too rounded and narrow), and not wanting to drill any holes for hangers in the new framework (it is made of Trex not wood) this is what we came up with.  If nothing else it will make a very nice utility table, the first piece of outdoor furniture we have bought in years. 
I watched a squirrel climb down the trellis the first day. He worked his way down from the top with the flatter beam along the edge, but was not able to climb down to the table.  We have large tree branches that are his highway to the deck. Gregg bought a book for me when we were out and about the other day.  I had to smile as we long ago welcomed the squirrels as well as the birds to our feeders, and I don’t really want to outwit them.  Shocking I know and I appreciated the book.  I don't know yet if it's supposed to be humorous or whether it is literally sharing squirrel deterrents.  I am sure it will be a fun read.  
So, here we are with the squirrel and bird buffet table. Will they come? My early morning alarm this morning were the crows squawking in the early hours. When I came down there were none to be found. Were they warning all feathered friends to stay away? Am I projecting again? Probably! We will have to wait and see.
Below, this dish is actually advertised as a birdbath, and will be returned to this use before too long.  It has 'steps' that go down the inside of the dish, which will make it easier for the birds than one deep well - hoping!  
Okay, so it is built, now will they come?
We'll see!

Thanks for looking everyone.  
Have a great week!

Friday, October 27, 2023



“It was the bumblebee and butterfly 
who survived, not the dinosaur.”

Meridel Le Sueur (February 22, 1900 – November 14, 1996) was an American writer associated with the proletarian literature movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Born as Meridel Wharton, she assumed the name of her mother's second husband, Arthur Le Sueur, the former Socialist mayor of Minot, North Dakota.

Thursday, October 26, 2023



Friends by Abbie Farewell Brown

How good to lie a little while
And look up through the tree!
The Sky is like a kind big smile
Bent sweetly over me.

The Sunshine flickers through the lace
Of leaves above my head,
And kisses me upon the face
Like Mother, before bed.

The Wind comes stealing o'er the grass
To whisper pretty things,
And though I cannot see him pass,
I feel his careful wings.

So many gentle Friends are near
Whom one can scarcely see.
A child should never feel a fear,
Wherever he may be.

(Abbie Farewell Brown was an American author who lived from 1871 to 1927.  While attending the Girls Latin School she created a school newspaper, The Jabberwock, which is still being published today.  In the poem "Friends", Brown shares that even things in nature can be children's friends, giving them comfort whenever they fear.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


 I was very happy to see the Monarch Butterflies on our last visit.  They seemed to like these orange flowers particularly.  They are Mexican Sunflowers and I will have more information about them in another post.  This time I am concentrating on the butterflies.  I haven't had any luck taking photos of butterflies this past summer. I haven't seen many at all, whether this was because of bad timing I'm not sure. I know they are another that has been put on the endangered list, and that is troubling. The following information came from this website.  I read: "Each Fall millions of monarch butterflies migrate to overwintering sites in Mexico and to a scattering of locations along the coast of California. In the spring monarchs return to breeding areas and the cycle begins again: a two-way migration that is one of the most spectacular on the planet. Yet, this migration appears to be declining. Some theories include: 

Loss of milkweed needed for monarch caterpillars to grow and develop, due to habitat conversion and adverse land management.
Drought conditions in California and other areas in the western U.S., resulting in lower milkweed biomass, and reduced availability of milkweed late in the summer.
Insecticide and herbicide use to control insects and weeds, with unintended consequences for monarchs.
Overwintering habitat loss and degradation in California, due to development within and adjacent to overwintering groves, and decay of overwintering trees as they age.  
Habitat loss in overwintering sites in Mexico due to illegal logging.”
There are suggestions on how we can help.
"The monarch migration occurs twice every year.  Nectar from flowers provides the fuel monarchs need to fly. If there are not any blooming plants to collect nectar from when the monarchs stop, they will not have any energy to continue. Planting monarch flowers that bloom when they will be passing will help the monarchs reach their destination. Creating more monarch habitat will help work to reverse their decline."
Plant milkweed! Monarch caterpillars need milkweed to grow and develop. There are 100 milkweed species that are native to North America, many of which are used by monarchs. To learn which species to plant in your region, and how to plant them, visit Bring Back the Monarchs Campaign (click on their name will take you to their website.
Plant butterfly nectar plants! Monarchs need nectar to provide energy as they breed, for their migratory journey, and to build reserves for the long winter.  Include butterfly plants in your garden and avoid using pesticides.
If you click on this link you will be able to download the free Monarch Plant List in PDF format.
From this link I read: 
The adult monarch butterfly typically only lives for a few weeks, unless it is lucky enough to be the last generation born in late August. The last generation is the migratory generation and can delay reproduction to live 8-9 months. They migrate south to warmer weather, because monarchs cannot survive Midwest winters. These migratory monarchs must make the journey to their overwintering grounds in central Mexico. For Nebraska monarchs, that means a 1,500 mile one-way trip; but for some Canadian monarchs, it can be over 3,000 miles!" The information on this website is from The Nebraska Games and Parks, on which you can read a lot more information. 
The explanation/photos on the difference between the male and female monarch, came from this website.
  In the next photo you will see the orange-red and black insect which is a milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatusIt feeds on the seeds, leaves and stems of milkweed (Asclepias). It is found in small groups on milkweed often on the stems, leaves and on the seed pods. The bodies of milkweed bugs contain toxic compounds derived from the sap which they suck from milkweed. Milkweed bugs are true bugs (Hemiptera). Milkweed bugs are more of a nuisance than a threat to milkweed plants. They feed on the seeds by piercing the seed pod and can be found in all stages of growth on the plants in mid to late summer.In the above photo we found these milkweed plants at the garden. There is a great link here explaining all about the milkweed.  In the photo above you can see several milkweed plants. These were taken at another time when visiting Big Meadows on Skyline Drive.
Lastly but most definitely not least, I remember seeing one of Debbie's posts from 'It's All About Purple.' She was giving Monarchs a safe haven, allowing them to go through their life stages until they could be released. You can see her post here.  You can do a search on Monarchs at her blog. She has taken the most beautiful photos of them.
There will be more photos from Green Spring Gardens in a future post. I am spacing them out a bit, so as not to overload on photos.