In Austin, Hatch Chiles have their own season. Each August our main grocery store, HEB, is filled with the smell of roasting chiles. I always buy several pound, use a bunch right away and freeze the rest to get me through the year. One of my favorite dishes is Hatch Chile Walnut Pesto.


I start with walnuts and garlic.


In go the chiles, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan.


Blend it all together in the food processor.


We roast several ducks at a time and then freeze them in small packages for easy use. I just took a package of frozen smoked duck and heated it in the water as it came to a boil.


Boil the pasta, making sure to reserve a small amount of the boiling water to add to the pesto when mixing in with the pasta.



Bloom Day 9/16


Oxblood Lily


Ruby Crystal Grass


Ruby Crystal Grass


Tropical Sage




Carl … just because

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This garden was something to behold. It was our last garden on the tour, and we drove all well into Wisconsin for this beauty. After arriving the gardener and artist, DeRaad, insisted that we all take a tour. We split into two groups and I chose to DeRaad’s group and stayed close to the front, very interested to hear her story and the inspiration behind her art.


This one-armed sculpture was DeRaad’s first. She said that you could easily tell her early figures by the hand-drawn face, since the self-taught sculptor had not yet learned how to craft facial features. At some point a branch fell and broke snapped the arm from this fellow. She creatively dealt with the problem.

I then asked the artist what inspired her to begin mosaics and sculpting. She said that potters previously resided in the 1800 farmhouse and flawed pottery had been broken against the trees. When she found the broken pieces she decided to do something with them, and her mosaic work began.

The garden was a walk through time, marked by these incredible arches, the last one I managed to catch my friend Diana (from SharingNaturesGarden).

DeRaad also had an assortment of colorful benches. She showed us how to make benches, specifically how to make them strong enough to support 20 people. She insisted that it is so easy, and we all can do it. I’m a little skeptical!

The artist clearly is fascinated with birds. Avian sculptures from flamingos to chickens to woodpeckers dotted the landscape.


These birds are in the early stage. She is planning to add them to a bench she’s working on.


This very personal sculpture was created in honor of her son. DeRaad said her son has always been a bit of a daredevil and has been near death several times. On one of these occasions, when she wasn’t sure if he’d pull through, she poured her heart into her work.


This stunning farmhouse actually belongs to the neighbors. How lucky to have such an incredible backdrop.

Finishing off with a few more favorites.





Living in Austin and growing up in Phoenix, I had never been exposed to hostas. My first introduction was the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, OR two years ago. I immediately fell in love. If I didn’t have several Austinites convincing me that they just won’t grow here, I would have wasted countless dollars by now, purchasing and repurchasing these lush, leafy beauties.


I had the pleasure of attending the 9th Annual Garden Bloggers Fling this month. Although I suffered with a stomach bug for a good chunk of the trip , I was still able to enjoy some  beautiful gardens, visit with some incredible people, and take a ton of photos. I missed one day and had to take it easy the other two, but I’ll still post about some of my favorite gardens.


The first garden we visited was Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Eloise Butler was a teacher near the turn of the century and upon her death donated this beautiful garden. Those caring for the garden have done a great job of making it look completely natural and native.

Many of the wildflowers in the prairie garden were similar to what we have in Austin. The big difference was the height. Where our plants struggle with our lack of rain, and exist as small shrubs, in Minneapolis these same flowers towered over us. There were times you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you.

After the prairie garden, we had the chance to stroll through the woodland garden. Here they let fallen trees lie in place, providing habitats for wildlife. I also couldn’t help but snap a picture of the geometric structure on this bridge.


Out West Trip – Part 3


State 6 – Idaho

Idaho is a beautiful state, filled with rivers and mountains. Originally the plan was to just drive through, but a change in schedule had  us stay the night in Pocatello.

We stopped for dinner at Portneuf Brewery, great beer and food.


We had our second beer flight of the day, the first being at Wasatch Brewery in SLC. Splitting a flight is perfect for us. Eric likes lagers and pilsners, I like IPAs and stouts, and we both like ales.

Our hotel was one of the nicest Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at. It was atop of a hill with a panoramic view of the city. It must be beautiful in the winter as well, with snow covered mountains.


After leaving the hotel we headed over to the Idaho Potato Museum. They were under renovations, so things were in a bit of a disarray, but they waived the admission fee. They had a selfie stand in front of the museum which we put to good use.



Two of the states we hit were by way of Four Corners, Arizona and Colorado. Seeing as I was raised in Arizona, and we lived there for 10 years together, I don’t feel too bad about the short visit. We have future plans to hit Colorado on one of our football trips, so we’re covered there as well.

States 3&4 – Arizona and Colorado

My first attempt was a bit of a fail. Although technically by being in the center I was in all four states, it just didn’t accomplish what I was going for. Several people standing around yelled, “You’re only in 2 States”. I quickly corrected and Eric snapped another photo .

State 5 – Utah


Southern Utah was incredible. It is similar to New Mexico with beautiful rock formations.

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This area is also known for its mining. The train tracks went straight from the mining operations straight through the mountainside.


Originally, we had planned to hit Arches National Park. We were going to stay in Moab and then drive through the next morning. We learned that Moab is a huge tourist attraction and there were way too many people and the hotels were outrageously expensive. Instead we decided to drive on through. Luckily, we passed an arch called “Wilson’s Arch”, which was right on the side of the road. Not only was it a really cool arch, but also completely free.


Another free stop on our trip was Gilgal Sculpture Garden. I found reviews for this one on RoadTrippers. It is in Central Salt Lake City, just a few blocks from Liberty Park. Even with the map, it took us a few minutes to find it. It is nestled into a neighborhood, with only a small entrance sandwiched between 2 houses.

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Although it is known for being a sculpture garden, the flowers were enchanting, especially the Irises. I tried growing the variegated irises in my garden before without much luck. I don’t know if they like our heat.


The sculptures were a bit irreverent and definitely unlike any garden we’d been to before.

Joseph Smith - The LDS Church Founder as a Sphinx

Joseph Smith – The LDS Church Founder as a Sphinx


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Battle Scene