Welcome! Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy browsing some of the photos and stories. As the 'teawife,' it is my duty to watch and listen and be a supportive friend, and a loving mum and wife. I should post more often, but sticking my nose into everyone's business keeps me busy! Kathy the teawife

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Strawberries, Squirrels, Spiders & Snakes!!

When we had our backyard landscape redone a few years ago, there was one new huge bed that I decided to dedicate to berries. The landscaper thought I was nuts. He thought boring shrubs, which occasionally bloom, would be the better option. However, I decided to plant a variety of thornless blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, honey berries and strawberries.

I planted strawberries in England in an old sandbox in some very poor sandy soil. To my surprise, the strawberries flourished there. I enjoyed going outside to pluck these intensely sweet and fragrant strawberries, and I wanted to do the same here in Colorado.

I started with four very small insignificant plants two summers ago. Oh my gosh. Would you look at what's happened? The strawberries have spread over the entire bed -- in and around the tree, over the stones, between the berry bushes, and everywhere they can dig in their tendrils!

I also found that much of the wildlife loves my strawberry patch -- spiders, squirrels, raccoons and SNAKES! There is one Mama snake who has taken up residence (and raised her young) in a corner of the patch. She's shed skin twice this spring, and she looks at least 2 feet long. Here is a snippet of her body I managed to photograph before she slithered into the rocks

I use a pole to push the leaves around to hunt for berries. I'm not putting my hand in there without carefully checking first!!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lovely Loveland Roses

My Irish husband grw up with wild roses climbing the retaining walls of his family's home garden. These were the old fashion roses -- single petals but lots of scent. 

A highly scented, extra large hybrid tea rose called Crescendo.
My green-thumb mom could grow roses in our old homestead in Texas. Her rose bushes were like monsters on steroids with loads of summer blooms. My favorite was her Peace rose, with its subtle cream and peach hues.

The Crescendo roses have a lovely pink and cream hue
After living with my hubby and son in Surrey, England, on two different assignments and for about seven years, I came to adore roses, which seemed to easily grow in every garden! Our homes at Keepers Cottage and later Hillside had a variety of roses, and I added a few extra bushes, too. We always had a philosophy that we only planted roses that had fragrance. Heirloom David Austin roses were my favorites.

When we moved into our home in Colorado a few years back, I was dismayed that we did not have one single solitary rose bush!! Our neighbor had huge and successful collection of roses, and I would walk by her display, somewhat green with envy!

Slowly, we've been making changes to our landscape, but it's no easy task. In Surrey, England, my soil was fertile and soft. I dug a hole, tossed in a plant, and voila! Done.

Colorado. Hmmmmmm. Colorado.

Every new plant requires a major operation to shift rock and clay and mix it with potting soil to loosen it up. Then, irrigation drips have to be installed for each plant. They aren't big on pop-up irrigation here for flowers and shrubs because of the evaporation. In England, it rained. A lot.

This hybrid tea rose is called Rock n Roll.
Buying cut roses for your home or for yourself was also a popular thing to do in England. And, cut flowers were available to buy at the supermarket or weekly market at a small price. I love having a vase of fresh flowers in my house at all times, but it can be a costly exercise here in the States. While I mostly grew floribunda or cluster roses in England, I decided to plant some long-stem hybrid tea roses here in Colorado with the idea of cutting my own roses.
Just Joey is another hybrid tea rose with a vibrant juicy fruit orange color and scent.
That said, I find cutting these beauties really difficult since they are lovely to enjoy outside, too! Run wild, free rose, run wild! Hubby and I love strolling through our garden in the evenings, stopping to soak in the scent of the roses and enjoy the vibrant colors. Bravely, yesterday I cut the first of one of my hybrid tea roses. It's a beauty with the scent to match.
The Rock n Roll rose is reminiscent of a strawberry and cream hard candy,
The previous owners of our Colorado house liked so-called low-maintenance shrubs, which are mostly bushy and joyless. We've had to be very creative to come up with new places to plant roses, and we're running out of spare spots. We just about break our backs getting the rose bushes into the ground, too. But they are so worth it, if I can find more garden space!

Monday, March 21, 2016

No-Bake Chocolate Yumminess!

Trying new foods and recipes is one of the most intriguing aspects of living abroad. The way food is prepared and the ingredients that are used provide further understanding of a country's lifestyle and passed-down cultures.

When living in England, I found the desserts especially diverse and interesting. But first, I had to figure out what to call this category of yumminess. I often heard the terms afters, sweets, desserts, puddings, cakes, biscuits, etc.

Then, I discovered a whole range of new desserts, including meringues, Bakewell tarts, sticky toffee pudding, spotted dick, Eaton mess, trifle, fruit crumble and more! There also were some no-bake delights such as flapjacks (made predominately of oats), chocolate biscuit cake, chocolate caramel slice and chocolate clusters. 

While I loved the chocolate biscuit cake (imagine taking cookies, crushing them up and pouring melted buttery chocolate icing over the top), this concoction is just too sweet for me. The clusters were made by mixing corn flakes and melted chocolate.

I wanted to achieve some kind of hybrid between the biscuit cake and the chocolate clusters that I could slice into small pieces. I looked and looked online, but never found exactly the right mix. There are a number of American “fudge” recipes using melted chocolate morsels and coconut oil, so I tacked that onto my recipe, too.

Let me introduce you to my hybrid “no-bake chocolate cluster slice fudge recipe.” There are so many ways to change it up, depending on your mood or food sensitivities.

I’ve made two different versions, and you can play around with the recipes and personalize them. Here goes.

The Teawife’s No-Bake Chocolate Coconutty Slice

6 to 8 cups Mesa Sunrise GF Flake Cereal (or a similar “sturdy” flake)
1 ½ cups chocolate morsels
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 cup chopped pecans (or your favorite nuts)

Use a large bowl and add 6 cups of cereal flakes, coconut and nuts. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate morsels, creamed coconut oil and almond butter (or peanut butter) over very low heat. Stir regularly with a heat-resistant spatula.

Once melted, remove from heat and stir vanilla into the chocolate. Pour melted mixture over dry ingredients in the large bowl. Mix very well. If you want more cereal, you can add an extra cup or two until you achieve your desired consistency.

Scrape mixture into a rectangular or square baking dish, spreading out evenly. If necessary, you can use a large spoon to press down the mixture. Allow to cool. You can speed up cooling by placing dish in the refrigerator (especially helpful on a warm day).

Cut into small pieces once cooled. Eat at room temperature or chilled! These slices will last a long time if stored in the freezer.

The Teawife’s No-Bake Reese's Peanut Buttery Slice

6 to 8 cups Reese’s Puff Cereal, chopped
2 cups chocolate morsels
½ cup crunchy peanut butter or chocolate peanut butter
1 cup sliced almonds or chopped peanuts or another nut
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional – ¼ cup PB2 powdered peanut butter

Begin by chopping up 6 cups of Reese’s Puff cereal balls. I used a Pampered Chef chopper. Don’t over chop! You can leave them whole, if that’s your preference. Add Reese’s Puffs into a large bowl. Also add the cup of nuts.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate morsels and peanut butter over a very low heat. Stir regularly with a heat-resistant spatula. Once melted, remove from heat and stir vanilla and optional PB2 into the chocolate. Pour melted mixture over dry ingredients in the large bowl. Mix very well. If you want more cereal, you can add an extra cup or two until you achieve your desired consistency.

Scrape mixture into a rectangular or square baking dish, spreading out evenly. If necessary, you can use a large spoon to press down the mixture. Allow to cool. You can speed up cooling by placing dish in the refrigerator (especially helpful on a warm day).

Cut into small pieces once cooled. Eat at room temperature or chilled! These slices will last a long time if stored in the freezer.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bacon Broccoli Bottomless Quiche

This morning I woke up with a hankering for quiche! This is not a craving that I usually have, but I just went with it. I was trying to find a crustless quiche recipe online, but I couldn't find just the right mixture. So I came up with my own. I am a "folksy" cook, and I write my recipes the way I cook and talk! Here ya go!

Broccoli Bacon Bottomless Quiche

6 – 8 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces

Small onion, sliced/chopped thinly

5 eggs (or 3 eggs with 1/3 cup Liquid Egg Whites)

1/2 cup Bisquick or Pamela’s GF Baking Mix

2 – 3 cups of cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, shaved Parmesan, etc.)

1/3 cup half-and-half

1 cup whole milk

2 – 3 cups raw broccoli (or your favorite vegetables)

Seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, seasoning mix)*

Add eggs, half-and-half, milk, Bisquick and seasoning into a blender/food processor and mix well. Set aside.

Begin by frying the bacon in a pan for about 5 minutes on a low-medium stove. I used a large cast iron pan since I would be able to put the completed quiche into the oven.

Add in onions. Continue to stir and cook the bacon and onions until the onions are tender and translucent (about another 5 minutes).

Add in the broccoli, which I have cut into smallish pieces. Cook the mixture for 3 minutes, stirring to evenly cook the vegetables.**

If you are using a cast iron pan, move the pan from heat and prepare to mix rest of ingredients into the pan. Or, switch to a large pie or tart stoneware or casserole dish.

Add the cheese into the bacon-broccoli-onion mixture; mix well. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the ingredients in pan/casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden and a knife comes out cleanly from the center. The preheated cast iron pan will cook faster; my quiche took 35 minutes.

*I used 1 tsp paprika and 1 tbs of Strawberry Tree Farm’s Giddya Up Ranch

** If using raw spinach or mushrooms, don’t cook them; instead, remove the pan from heat and stir vegetables into the bacon mixture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tranquility in the Foothills

On a neighborhood forum, someone mentioned the opening of an amazing park on the westside of Loveland, Colorado. I’m a relative newcomer to the area, and I don’t know much about the history of the Mehaffey park land, which was purchased from the Mehaffey family by the city in 1997. 
From what I gleaned in reading online, the park had some starts and stutters in the transformation from empty open fields to a tranquil escape of winding and circular trails nestled in the foothills. 
Some of the delays in construction included the 2010-11 economic downturn and the September 2013 Big Thompson River flood, which diverted city money to repairing existing parks and recreational facilities. However, finally, this August, the city’s vision for this park was completed.
One morning this week, I finally made my way to Mehaffey Park, and I was truly impressed. I can see that I’ll be spending many more days strolling around the grounds. 
Mehaffey Park also includes: extensive picnic shelters, a dog park, an adventure play area, sports courts, pond, rolling green fields, prairie landscaping, and more, spread over 69 acres. 
This time, I only had my iPhone with me to snap some shots. I’ll take my heavy-duty SLR Canon on future occasions to capture the changing of the seasons, including snow topped mountain peaks in the distance.
I have no doubt that this new Loveland park will become one of the most popular in the area. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trek to Bierstadt Lake

Last week, the McAllister trio of Niall, Branduff and I went up to Estes Park for a couple of days. We decided to have a saunter in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we picked a walk to Bierstadt Lake.
While it had been my policy that hubby Niall tested every walk for ease and accessibility ahead of time, that hasn't been possible since he's been spending so much time working overseas. Therefore, Branduff and I have been the family pioneers, pushing our way around lakes and trails in the RMNP.
Unfortunately, we should have had Niall test the Bierstadt Lake walk first . . .
The elevation at the trailhead/parking lot, where we left our vehicle, was 8840 feet. Okay, so I assumed the trail would be fairly level and gently lead out to the lake, the way that Lily and Sprague Lakes are situated. Oh no . . . it turned out that we had to climb more than 600 steep feet over nearly 1 1/2 miles to get to the lake at the top of the cliff!
Fortunately, I had brought my bottle of water, even if Branduff left his water in the car, and Niall only drinks beer!! He was hoping that "Bier" stadt lake would mean that some hoppy brew would be waiting for him on top of the mountain.

Once we finally made it to the top, I was already spent out. There had been some amazing views all the way up, and I won't soon forget the beauty or the aerobic climb!!
We had to decide whether it would be easier to descend the same steep trail or continue to head up a gentler slope to Bear Lake. We opted for the Bear Lake route, which would mean another 400 feet of elevation and additional 2 miles. Yes, we actually hiked up 1000 feet that day. I've never done that before; not sure I'd do it again.
The scenery along the way continued to impress us, and we were rewarded with some gorgeous golden aspens as the trail to began to descend as we neared Bear Lake. We were able to hop on a shuttle bus from Bear Lake back to the trailhead of Bierstadt to collect our vehicle. Three very hungry climbing hikers immediately headed to the local barbecue joint for refueling. What a memorable day!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Humming and Buzzing

 Summer in the Estes Park, Colorado, can be marked by the arrival and departure of the exquisite hummingbird.  
In the height of the summer, hummingbirds can be heard trilling and whistling on the drive up Hwy. 34 from the lowlands of Loveland to the mountains of Estes Park. 
As the temperature drops 10 to 12 degrees on the trip up the mountain, it's enjoyable to roll down the car windows in order to hear the buzzing of these bright and wondrous creatures.
At our condo in Estes Park, we keep fresh feeders going for these always-hungry visitors. They are rarely shy, and they are happy to pose for photos, with sweet nectar their only pay.
These photos were taken from our balcony, near Marys Lake in Estes Park. Enjoy! 
Hummingbirds fly to the cool mountains to mate and nest. The acrobatics of male hummingbirds is amazing to watch, especially when they perform vertical dives from dizzying heights as a way to impress the females. 
These little birds' summer time in the mountains is fleeting. Many have already left the mountains for the lowlands of Loveland and Fort Collins. And soon, their long flight southwards will begin, and summer will sweep away as the leaves color and fall from the trees.