Sacramento’s Capitol Park

An edifice should be constructed…satisfactory of the grandeur of the coming time … surrounded by grounds … with a beauty and luxuriousness that no other capitol can boast.”

~Governor Leland Stanford, 1863img_1899img_1890img_1848img_1878On a recent November day I spent a delightful morning with my love strolling around the grounds of the Capitol admiring the memorials, gardens, statues, fountains and trees.

Covering forty acres and spanning twelve city blocks, Capitol Park began life in 1860 as just four blocks, and from then to 1917 the remaining blocks became part of the park’s expansion projects. Since 1869 eight hundred flowering trees and shrubs have been planted, representing over two hundred native and exotic varieties.

Here’s just a glimpse of the World Peace Rose Garden in Capitol Park, still bursting with blooms in November and displaying 650 roses in over 140 varieties of colors and fragrances.img_1866img_1865img_1864In honor of Veteran’s Day two harpists played gentle melodies in front of war memorials.img_1863Many of the trees planted are dedicated to former members of staff of the California State Legislature, or to mark special anniversaries. There’s also the Moon Tree, a Coastal Redwood that began life as one seed among hundreds which orbited the moon aboard the command module of the Apollo 14 mission.

Just look at all of this tree magic.img_1855img_1856img_1860img_1873img_1869img_1868img_1867img_1880img_1877img_1891img_1893Beautiful and luxurious grounds, indeed. What a great way to spend a few hours. I think Governor Leland Stanford would be quite proud.

 

Celebrating Fall

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile.” ~William Cullen Bryantimg_6534“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all” ~Stanley Horowitzimg_6443“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~Albert Camusimg_1905“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~Lauren DeStefano, Witherimg_1902“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” ~John Donne
img_1811“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” ~Humbert Wolfe
img_1799“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”~Joe L. Wheelerimg_1750“And I rose in rainy autumn and walked abroad in a shower of all my days…” ~Dylan Thomasimg_1731“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~Anonymousimg_1727“I am rich today with autumn’s gold.” ~Gladys Harpimg_1657“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” ~Lee Maynardimg_1718“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” ~Samuel Butlerimg_1721“Or maybe spring is the season of love and fall the season of mad lust. Spring for flirting but fall for the untamed delicious wild thing.”~Elizabeth Cohenimg_1796“There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood- Such of manner, hint of mood; And my heart is like a rhyme, With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.” ~Bliss Carmen
img_1803“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” ~Jim Bishopimg_1903Wishes to all for a lovely autumn season.

Sunflower Cottage

“…But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye. For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall, you’ll find the tool and potting sheds which are the heart of all…”~Rudyard Kiplingimg_1827Here it is!img_1472Remember a few weeks ago I promised a post about my new garden shed? Welcome to Sunflower Cottage!

Wanting the paint and the style to match our home, but also wanting a bright pop of color for the door, I really don’t think it could have turned out any more perfectly.

Last fall I began looking in books, magazines and on pinterest for ideas for potting sheds. It was a bit overwhelming, but when our friend who built the structure for us started asking questions about how it would be used and what was most important to me, why then it all came together easily. Inside is a roomy potting bench, lots of shelving, and a pole to hang baskets and dry herbs from, and with the light from the two windows (three counting the window in the door) and a water source right outside the shed, I didn’t feel a need to have electricity or plumbing installed.

Here’s a bit of a peek inside.img_1526 img_1410I’m still organizing and finding the best places for everything, but I’m already so happy to be working in this charming and cozy little storybook cottage, just as I knew I would! A gardener’s dream come true, for certain!

Skunk Harbor

No, I can’t answer why this particularly gorgeous hike to a secluded beach with crystal clear waters is called Skunk Harbor.img_1373All I know is that just two weekends ago, my brothers, my husband, and I hiked this winding trail, located on Highway 28, just two miles north of Highway 50, down to this dazzling, yet serene beach.

Hike about a mile and a half down the trail and you’ll come to a fork in the road. Going left leads you to Prey Meadows and veering right takes you to Skunk Harbor.

Look at these striking views you’ll take in!img_1369img_1368img_1700img_1366img_1392img_1393img_1462Close to the shore we came upon this old stone building built by a wealthy San Francisco family who used it as a secluded picnic pavilion in the roaring twenties! Oh, if these stone walls could speak what stories we might hear!
img_1377img_1382img_1381img_1379Brilliant blues!img_1378Beautiful cove, beach and views!img_1460No skunks!

As I write today I am reminded how quickly the fall season passes. On the recent day of our hike, we enjoyed warm temperatures and didn’t even need the sweatshirts we had packed. Watching the evening news tonight I learned that the high temperature in the Skunk Harbor area today was 38 degrees. It may get a dusting of snow tonight. Back at home it’s pouring rain, and our trees are completely aglow with the costumes of autumn’s finery. Another two weeks and the trees may be bare. I’m making sure to get outside and soak up all of the glory this short season offers. Wishes to you for a lovely autumn season.

Apple Pocket Pies

One of my favorite gems in Autumn’s jewel box is Apple Hill. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump for me to take a meandering drive in the picturesque foothills. Scenic views of rolling hills, apple farms, vineyards and wineries dot the landscape as far as the eye can see.

The apple farms offer a great variety of apples, pumpkins, and produce, but also craft fairs, corn mazes, hay rides, farm animals to pet, and train rides.

I do try to be good, but for those of you with a mad sweet tooth like me, the fritters, apple donuts, cider, pies, and cakes are out of this world! I didn’t indulge (this time) but bought my apples and headed home, eager to try a new recipe.img_1642img_1640img_1657img_1653img_1650img_1646img_1645

Apple Pocket Pies

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into half inch dice

6 – 8 Tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 1/2 lbs. Pink Lady or McIntosh apples, peeled and cored, and cut into half inch dice

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

pocket pie mold (such as this one)

Directions:

Beat together the flour, salt, and 2 Tablespoons sugar on low speed until combined (about 10 seconds). img_1594Add the butter and beat for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium low and beat until mixture resembles course meal, about one and a half minutes more. Add the 6 Tablespoons ice water, reduce speed to low and beat 20 seconds. Dough should hold together but not be sticky. If crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating for 5 seconds after each addition.img_1595Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in half. Wrap with plastic wrap and shape each into a disc. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.img_1596In large bowl stir apples, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cornstarch together. img_1604In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add apple mixture. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender but not mushy, 16 – 18 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and let cool 30 minutes.img_1605Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. On a floured surface roll out one dough disc into a round, 3/16 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape. Re-roll if necessary and continue.

Place a solid dough shape into the bottom of the mold cutter and gently place the dough in the mold. Fill the center with 2 T apple filling and brush the edges of the dough with egg wash.img_1606Top with a shape with a decorative cut out. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie.img_1608Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Freeze pies for 30 minutes.img_1610Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush tops of pies with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on tops. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is gently bubbling, 22 – 24 minutes. Transfer pies to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
img_1611img_1613For the record, my husband has let me know (more than a few times) how perfect these little hand held pies are. I get the hint; I’m happy to make more!

Hiking Horsetail Falls

As you’re driving on Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe, just before you reach Echo Summit, take a look up to your left (way up!) and notice the breath taking sight of Horsetail Falls.

Starting out early in the day with good friends, we arrived when the parking lot was nearly empty, and set out for a day of laughter, adventure, exercise, and enormous doses of the healing only Mother Nature provides.

The hike is a mix of lovely wooded trails and wide open granite rocks, all along refreshing pools, small waterfalls and streams.
img_1240img_1235img_1239img_1246img_1245img_1254Don’t forget to stop every once in awhile just to soak up the stunning views in all directions.
img_1250img_1270img_1268img_1350img_1274img_1276The majority of the hike is not well marked and we found ourselves in search of the trail a number of times. Also, be prepared to do a bit of rock climbing rather than hiking during some parts of the hike.

Ahh, there’s a cairn. We’re on the right path.img_1267Be sure to notice all the love notes from nature along the way!img_1249img_1248Everywhere!
img_1261img_1258Without fail, spending time in nature is consistently the restorative tonic that fills up my soul! Where do you go when you need to refuel?

Leaf Peeping in Hope Valley

It’s a goal of ours every year to get up to Hope Valley in Alpine county to see the golden leaves of the aspens. It’s difficult to gage exactly when the leaves are at their peak. Sometimes we’re a bit early and other years we arrive and the leaves have already faded from their glory, but none the less it’s always a beautiful, scenic drive. On this day the leaves weren’t at their height of color, but we were greeted with gorgeous sights everywhere we looked.  We won’t have time to drive up again this month, but I’m betting that this coming weekend the trees will be putting on a spectacular show .img_1282img_1287img_1284img_1280img_1288img_1290img_1331We spent a lovely afternoon taking in the sights, strolling around the trails and hills, and then had a delicious early dinner at the cafe at Sorensen’s Resort. Autumn has definitely arrived!

“Just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is all aglow.” ~Author Unknown

 

Glorious Glen Alpine Trail

I think it’s safe to say that the best weekends involve some hiking, a chance for a little get away to the mountains or the shore, exhilarating fresh air and the incredibly beautiful vistas mother nature has to offer us.

We recently hiked the Glen Alpine Trail in South Lake Tahoe. To get there you must drive the long one lane road along the south shore of gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake. I’m certainly not complaining; look at this incredible view from the car!img_1044We parked in the parking lot near the general store and walked a little over a mile to get to the trail head. There is limited parking closer to the trailhead, but we’ve always enjoyed the walk. Along the way we passed the lower falls which were just trickling, and the cozy Saint Francis of the Mountains chapel where a wedding was underway. I refrained from taking a photo, wanting to give them their privacy, but it was truly a lovely sight.img_1053img_1059img_1052img_1063img_1049img_1100Once we got to the trailhead we were gifted with meadows, springs, historical sites, rushing waterfalls, and stunning view of Mount Tallac all along this secluded mountain trail.img_1230img_1098John Muir was just one of the many hikers who found the trail unforgettable, writing that it “seems to me one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe region. From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to see so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows, and alpine groves, cascades, etc.”img_1069img_1074img_1084img_1083img_1082img_1107img_1095img_1109img_1110His words are perfect. We found all of that and a whole lot of love!

 

Savoring the Last Days of Summer

It’s almost time to give summer a long kiss goodbye and welcome the jewels of autumn. With comfortable warm daytime temperatures and cool nights and mornings, my gardens seem to be putting out a last beautiful blast of blossoms. Here’s how things looked today.

Japanese Anemone
img_6096Foxgloveimg_0941Zinniasimg_0828Lamium
img_1011Fuchsia
img_1009 Calibrachoaimg_1008Roses
img_1007img_1006Impatiensimg_0953Sweet Autumn Clematis
img_1020Black- eyed Susansimg_1019Sedum, Autumn Joyimg_1016Salvia, Black Knightimg_1021Perovskiaimg_1014Lorapetalum
img_1027Sunflowersimg_1023I’m still harvesting tomatoes from my vegetable garden daily, but in another month I’ll be pulling them out. They’re the last of my summer vegetables that are still producing.img_1025 And then there’s this! Vibrant Virginia Creeper already adding so much gorgeous autumn color to a fence.img_1018And this beauty I found in the  lawn the other day. Yep, you can bet I’m savoring every bit of this late season beauty.img_0934What’s blooming in your garden during these last days of summer?

And now, off to take my husband’s hand and set off for an evening walk to admire that incredible harvest moon!img_1040

A House in the Trees

This summer we had two new structures built on our property. One is a garden shed that I promise to show you soon, but today I’d like to give you the tour of our new tree house play structure for the children, which was finished in June, and has already seen many hours of play.

Nestled within four oak trees, and shaded by their branches, this new structure sits, ready for the children. As you walk up to the steps you’ll notice three personalized mail boxes. There might be stickers, a small toy, bubbles or a love note inside. You just never know!IMG_0808IMG_0137 Up the steps, here we go.
IMG_0171Hold on to the tree branch hand rails for support.IMG_9918Don’t forget to check the little fairy house on your way up the stairs. There might be something special in there.IMG_0368Open the wee door. This time there’s an acorn and a shell!IMG_0370Now we’re up at the top, about three feet off the ground. Excuse the mess; children have been busy playing here!IMG_0800IMG_0806IMG_0802

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There’s plenty of room for running, climbing, butterfly chasing, playing with toys, doing a little chalk art, or steering a “ship”. Most recently we traveled to the ocean to see the whales!

In the coming years I can imagine camp outs and tea parties, star gazing and moon viewing. And I, for one,  can hardly wait to see just what other discoveries will be made here!