Monthly Archives: July 2014

My mother always said….

…if you’re pissed off at life,bake bread.It will get all those feelings out.
Today,I wasn’t pissed off at anybody,or anything….
But,I was almost out of bread!
It made me think of me in the 70’s.
Back then,I went through a kind of hippie/earth-mother phase.Besides wearing granny glasses and Mexican wedding-style dresses all of the time,we(the ex and I) grew all our own vegetables
…organically,I might add.Before it was cool…
and canned and froze everything.
And I baked bread.
All kinds of bread.Rye,white,whole wheat,you name it.
But then reality hit.
It includes 2 children and jobs,health and dental insurance,and a divorce….
I quit quit gardening.I quit baking bread.
But,then I retired!
Not to mention those 2 children are on their own,I no longer wear granny glasses(bifocals,now),or Mexican wedding dresses.
Now,I’m wearing shorts and flip-flops.And my bifocals.
And gardening,organically,again.
So,today,when I was almost out of bread,I thought,”Why not make your own?You have the stuff,the time.Why not?”
So,I did.
Not in a bread machine.But the old-fashioned,hippie way.
Actually,more of the next generation way.I found an easy,no-knead recipe on the web….

Basic White Bread

Makes 3  loaves:

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)
1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1⁄2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

Preheat oven to 400 f.

Add 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. yeast to bowl.  Add 1 1⁄2 Tbsp.  salt.  Add  3 cups water.  Add 6 1⁄2 cups flour.

Stir the mixture until it’s thickened and well combined.  Cover bowl with tea towel.  Allow to rise for 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen divide it into 3.  Form each section into a ball and pull the 4 sides of the dough to the underneath.   This is stretching out the gluten and aligning it.  It also gives you a nice tight top to the bread.

Leave the dough for its final proof on a very well floured couche,or tea towel for 45 minutes.  Cover with  couche or gently cover with a light, floured tea towel.

After it’s proved, gently transfer to your peel or baking tray/stone.  Cut several slashes across the top.  This allows the bread to move upwards as opposed to sideways when it bakes.

Bake until the interior temperature of the bread is 190 f.  (around 25 minutes).

I didn’t use a couche.I did it my mother’s way:A floured,linen tea towel.
Because the AC is running,I set mine outside,in the sun to rise
….just like I did in my hippie phase….

The only problem with baking your own bread is:
You eat it!


For years,a few neighbors and I have been working on cleaning out the bank of the water behind TheGreatWall.
This past spring,I enlisted help to do a major clean-up.,on the bank behind TheGreatWall.
The bank was replanted with Walter’s Viburnum,

Simpson’s Stopper Myrcianthes fragrans,
simpsons stopper

Jamaica Caper  Capparis cynophallophora.
Along with a Beauty Berry  Allicarpa americana,and a Sweetgum tree,…and a native Cassava Manihot escuenta,….which decided to join in…Spread by the birds I thinkthe objective was to return the bank and the water to as original as I could.
So,imagine my surprise to find these….

Egg casings from an Apple Snail
I found these shells on the bank of the water…

…And then,the other day,this guy/gal came to visit…..
An Anhinga…
…drying themself off…IMG_1409



and all dried off…..

After all the hard work,now it all seems worth it.
To see nature return to it’s beginnings.
To see creatures return.

Now,if just everyone could see things the way they should be…..

Things I Like….


These candles…
….Seriously in love with this one,
…..for the bedroom….IMG_1402

….These two for the kitchen…

Love,love,love these candles.They last forever,all soy,cotton wicks,not too strong a scent,recycled wine bottles…..they had me at wine…
Available here….
No,they’re not paying me,but if they want to,I’m good with that.I just love their candles.

and then…
there’s always a “…and then I…” isn’t there?
This weekend,I realized I didn’t have a decent mortar and pestle.
So,I ordered these….

House is smelling good these days…….

6 Degrees of Shelling

I’m ChrisC and I have an addiction…
A serious addiction…
To shelling…..

I LOVE shelling!
I am addicted.
There,I said it.What a relief!
I go at least once a week to the beach.
And any chance I get to steal away to Sanibel Island,I go.
I can’t seem to help myself.
Any beach I go to,I look for shells.
I have shells all over my house….
In my kitchen….


In my laundry room,even….
Not to mention everywhere else in the house.Bedrooms,bathrooms,entry,living room,dining room,even the lanai at TheGreatWall….
I blame my mother.
Don’t we all?
She started me on this path….

So what does this have to do with gardening?
or 6 degrees of anything?
Bear with me….

Remember back here,I wrote about cleaning out the back of the garden?
It had become overgrown,and weedy with invasives.The past few years,I’ve been trying to replace the invasives with Florida natives.
Today,the bank by the water is replaced with Simpson’s Stopper…
simpsons stopper

The old Bay Oak,which was damaged by TheTree,has started to recover and has been joined by a Sweet Gum tree….

….and is surrounded by a Beautyberry,and a native Cassava.

…a Jamaica Caper

…and a Walter’s Viburnum

So what does this have to do with shelling,you ask?
If you’ve followed me this far,bear with me…
Our lake has been considered as endangered,by Hillsborough County,but they have done nothing to help clean it up.The lake is fed by three springs,but areas of it are overgrown with hydrilla and invasive plants.A few of of us have taken it upon ourselves to do our part.Cleaning things out.Removing garbage,etc.Replanting with natives.
Already we have seen a return of an alligator and turtles.
By the way,what degree am I up to?

So,today,when I was walking back there,what should I see?
Egg casings of Florida Apple Snails!

I found a few laying on the bank of the water.
In case you haven’t noticed,I’m not good at before photos…

But this is what they look like all cleaned up….

I lost track,but did I make
6 Degrees of Shelling?

Butterflies,Spinach and a bunny….

I got my first Spinach Tree,Cnidoscolus aconitifolius,or Tree Spinach,cutting from Meems.She wrote a great post about it here. If you want to know anything about this tree go there,’cause she said it best.

But….. Since then,I have a large tree… IMG_1370
see the Gulf Frittalary?
a smaller tree….ooops,forgot to take a photo
and a cutting has gone to Erich,the Younger’s garden in Seminole Heights. Since TheTree went down,I have been in desperate need of shade for the garden.And for a middle story tree,this one is great.And it’s a butterfly magnet! What more could you ask for? IMG_1357 The Zebra Long Wings are drawn to it. IMG_1363
As are the Monarchs….

IMG_1364 photo bomb by a bee! IMG_1365 Love the blooms!

IMG_1367 and the leaves….

IMG_1366 The butterflies seem drawn to it ,too.

But while I was patiently —by the way,I have no patience,either— waiting to take these photos,look who should come strolling by….. IMG_1352

IMG_1353 I think he/she is used to me….. ”Oh,it’s that lady with the camera.Don’t mind her.”

Have a great week!!!!


After one of those hot,steamy Florida days we’ve been having lately.
The rains came and cooled things off….
And the plumeria are happy!



A visitor to TheGreatWall….

No,not the ever delightful Miss Emma.
After our trip to Sanibel Island,she is now busy with swimming lessons.
Nope….it is a juvenile Northern Bobwhite!’…
There I sat,
on the lanai.
Sipping a glass of Cabernet,
enjoying the evening….
…it’s been hot all day and finally the breeze kicked in…
and who should come strolling by?

This guy/gal!
How do you tell?
A juvenile Northern Bobwhite!





After the usual Google images check,and checking my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds,I realized how special this is.Their numbers have been dwindling due to loss of habitat.

So when someone says my garden is a jungle,they can just shut up!

I’m feeling happy!