Today my friend Karen and I went to a local winery called Barrel Head Winery. The owners, John and Karen, had visited Quiet Walker Lodge last week and had invited me to stop by and visit. I learned so much about their grapes and wines that my head is still swirling with information.
One of the most important keys in producing good wine is to wait until the grapes are at their peak in sugar content before picking them. John is very serious about starting with the perfect grape. He harvests the grape when it is ripe and this produces some of the best wine I had ever tasted. His Concord wine was one of my favorites in the reds. I also liked Leggy Lisa and the champagne he produces was the best…lots of small bubbles that exploded in my mouth with every taste!
But besides enjoying the awesome wines, John also educated me in how to keep healthy vines. He told me the story about the French winemakers who always had the women of the town stealing their roses in the vineyards. So they sprayed them with sulfur to prevent the thefts and discovered that sulfur kept the bugs and mildew off the vineyards besides stopping the theft because the roses no longer had the sweet fragrances.
I also learned not to swirl champagne because you do not want to loose the bubbles and why it is important to hold the glass at the stem to prevent heating up the champagne. He told me why we swirl and sniff wine before sipping it and the importance of not spraying vineyards with systemic sprays. All of John’s wines are produced with grapes he grows personally on his land. His pride in producing quality wines is quickly noticed by anyone who takes his or her first sip. Thanks for the great visit John and Karen!
Get ready for the Iowa Wine Trail Spring Event. This year’s theme will be Before and After Desserts and Appetizers. Each winery on the list will have their specialty like Herbed Cheese Stuffed Papadew Peppers, Pork Cheek Quesadillas and Chocolate Cannoli at Daly Creek or Eagle Landing’s Norwegian Meatballs served with Dry Red Wine (Mr Sippi), RoTel Cheese Dip and Nachos served with Semi-Sweet Red Wine (Mrs Sippi), Spring Time Fruit Salad served with Semi-Sweet Muscat Canelli wine ( Lit’l Sippi) and Raspberry Flavored Brownies served with Chocolate Raspberry Dessert wine (Serenity). All of the wineries are offering awesome desserts and appetizers. This event is happening this weekend April 27-28th. So grab your partner and head out to Quiet Walker Lodge and then on to the wineries! It is an event you won’t want to miss!
Winter at Quiet Walker Lodge is a unique experience. During the months of December and January we have enjoyed the beauty of the winter landscape. There is something to be said about the peacefulness of a winter day snuggled up in a blanket around the fireplace. During this time, I have caught up on some of my basket weaving. I finished my autumn corn project and I am currently working on a pine needle basket with a natural base.
This year, I had the opportunity to attend a Gourd Convention and learn how to weave gourds. So now besides my basket weaving and gardening, I am learning new techniques in gourd art.
In the Fall, we planted eleven new maple trees on the property. These trees line the small trail we are developing. It is a slow process, but it is nice to see the new trees in the meadow.
The 17th Iowa Wine Trail event is coming up November 3 and 4 from 10 am – 6 pm each day. The fall theme this year is “Around the World with Iowa Wines.” Each winery has chosen to pair their wines with food from another country. The Winneshiek Wildberry Winery near Decorah will pair their wines with Italian Cuisine. Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette will be pairing their wines with Cajun cooking. Daly Creek Winery in downtown Anamosa will serve Japanese dishes that complement their wines. Brick Arch Winery in West Branch will use a “melting pot” of recipes including barbeque, pork tenderloin and cranberries, and pineapple upside down cake to pair with their wines. The Engelbrecht Family Winery near Fredericksburg will pair their wines with German dishes including Reuben sandwiches, hot potato salad and German cheese cake. At Tabor Home Vineyards and Winery near Baldwin, they have chosen Greek cuisine and will pair their wines with a mezes – small dishes made with cheese or grilled meats, and baklava. If you are planning to participate in the event, consider staying at Quiet Walker Lodge to make your experience complete. Tickets for the event are on sale at www.iowawinetrail.com or by calling (563) 557-3727.
This weekend, I went to the Midwest Basket and Gourd Convention at Sinsinawa Mounds in Wisconsin. I am now hooked on gourd art! It was difficult to pick the class I enjoyed most, but if I had to pick, I think the Agate Gourd would be my number one choice. This is the one I made.
I learned how to use alcohol ink to produce a marbling effect on the gourd. The grass is a pygmy palm grass from Tucson, Arizona. The beads are Ox bone beads. It took me about three hours from start to finish. I think the fun part was working with the alcohol ink. I plan to make more gourds using this ink and see what kind of designs and marbling effects I can produce.
The second piece I created this weekend was a gourd with natural embellishments. I used a devil’s claw for my centerpiece. I plan to grow this annual to get more devil claws for more projects. The claw can even be used for earrings! The devil claw is also from Arizona and the seeds are inside the top part. On this gourd, I sewed a beautiful red bean that is toxic to animals. So I need to keep this basket high up to stop the cats from eating it and getting high! For this gourd, I used a beautiful red palm grass. I liked the texture and the little nubbles on the grass. Next time I am going to also marble the gourd (possibly in greens).
The next project was learning how to faux a gourd. The gourd was spray-painted black. The first step was to take a glue/sand mixture and put it on the gourd to produce a rough texture. After that was dry, the paint went on and then the seal. I did not like the way this one turned out and plan to experiment more with this technique.
In April, the Wisconsin Gourd Festival will be held in Madison. I hope to make Spirit dolls out of gourds and learn how to burn designs in them. I think I can really get into gourd art and incorporate some of my basket weaving skills for the rims. This is cool!
Today I went to the tree farm with Jeff Stecklin of Stecklins Tree Service to choose the trees I want to plant along our trail. I chose some beautiful maples that provide color in the Fall. The Autumn Blaze Maple is known for its brillant red-orange fall color. It grows pretty fast and was the 1997 Iowa Tree of the Year. The Deborah Norway Maple is another fast growing maple. It has more upright branches but provides a brillant red leave in spring that turns to a dark bronze-green in the summer. I like the Emerald Luster Norway for its round canopy and pretty color. The Red Sunset Maple is a dense rounded form tree that has orange-red foilage in the Fall.
In the meadow I am planting a Bloodgood London Planttree that has a beautiful cream, olive and brown exfoliating bark. This will be a focal point tree with a picnic table and benches under it for guests to sit and have picnics. The lkast trees oin my list to plant this Fall arte the Northern Red Oak trees. This is the fastest growing Oak around and it won the 1999 Iowa Tree of the Year. What I like about this tree is that the leaves hang on the tree into winter.
So in the next several weeks the trees will be planted along the trail. Each will have their own water holding bag and hopefully next year they will look beautiful!
On Sunday, my husband and daughter went with me to the Classic Car Show held at the botantical gardens. The variety of classic cars was very impressive and it was obvious these owners loved their cars! My husband fell in love with the cherry red corvette. A car he would have trouble getting into and out of at his age. But it is nice to dream!
Today I traveled to Decorah, Iowa to check out the Heritage Farm seed saving exchange. This place has one of the largest collections of open-pollinated heirloom varieties for home gardeners like myself. It is an 890 acre farm with beautiful gardens and orchards.There are several different gardens to stroll through. The preservation gardens is where seeds are regenerated and grown to provide a refeshed seed supply. These gardens are designed to prevent cross-pollination and mantain genetic purity. The trial gardens are used to plant a sample of the seeds they receive from a grower to determine germination rate and genetic purity. These gardens serve as a system of checks and balances. Several other gardens like Diane’s Garden and the Seed Saving Garden are also open for public strolls. My favorite garden is the exchange garden. Each year, hundreds of SSE members share their seeds with others by listing them in the yearbook.
Besides the gardens, the farm also has a historic apple orchard and heritage breeds of livestock. The historic apple orchard features 550 different varieties of apples. The farm is one of two major breeding sites for Ancient White Park Cattle in the US. This breed is known for its well-marbles meat, efficient grazing and easy calving. Also, Gloucestershire Old Spots Pigs are used in the orchards to clean up windfalls and this reduces pests.
Of course one can not visit the farm without picking up some seeds. I am excited about the Heritage Farm Poppy and I look forward to having this beautiful poppy growing in my garden. I also picked up a package of historic pansies mix. Unfortunately the original pansies introduced in the 1800s by the Vilmorin Company of Paris no longer exist, but seedman Kees Sahin of the Netherlands kept a collection of 13000 violas in the Netherlands. This mix was assembled by him and closely resembles the original “Bambini Mixture” from Vilmorin. I also picked up a sweet pea perinnial called Everlasting which I plan to have growing on the fence in my songbird garden. For vegetables I picked up the Chioggia beet seeds. This is a pre-1840 Italian heirloom beet introduced in the US before 1865. It has alternating red and white concentric rings that resemble little bull’s-eyes.
Tonight I will be planting herbs and peppers of every variety you can think of as they were giving away their leftover plants. What a great day at the farm!
On Saturday, I drove to the Galena Territories to witness the Galena Balloon Races. I had never been to a balloon race so I was very excited to see how the balloons rose in the air and the multitude of colors and designs on these geometric objects. I was not disappointed. The day was beautiful and I had a lovely, shaded knoll to sit on as I watched these giants ascend into the air. I have posted a complete album of the balloons on the Quiet Walker Lodge Facebook page. It was a great event for a great cause!
Here at Quiet Walker Lodge we are always concerned about healthy food. A friend of mine shared with me the EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. I was shocked to find that apples have the highest amount of pesticide contamination of all the fruits and vegetables. The dirty dozen with the most pesticides include celery at number two followed by strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale.
This beautiful Luna moth was attached to a wooden post on the deck. Last summer my husband saw one with a 4 inch wing span. The Luna moth is one of the largest moths in North America. The pale green wings have either pink or yellow margins on them. The Northern moths and the Southern individuals born in the summer have the yellow margins.
The adult Luna moths are very strong fliers. When they first exit the cocoon it takes them up to two hours to get their wings. They have to pump bodily fluids to their wings and wait about 2 hours before they are able to fly. Like a typical silk moth, the adult Luna moth has no mouth and does not feed. They only live for about 1 week in the adult form and during this time their sole purpose is to find a mate. Mating will take place after midnight and the eggs will be laid the following evening. The eggs will hatch in about a week and the caterpillars will go through about five in-stars before they create their cocoon and start the whole cycle over.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa”
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” /> I use to be fond of racoons with their cute faces and petite feet. But ever since I moved to a place that has them I realize what a pain they are to have around. They eat the robin’s eggs and poop everywhere. They are notorious for getting into garbage bins and tearing up plants.
However, it is hard for me to shoot Old Jack. Maybe it is the look he gives me every time he raids the bird feeder or the curiosity he has about the cats looking at him through the window. I know….he is a raccoon. You need to shoot him. Well I think I will wait for the neighbor to let out his dogs and let nature take its course. In the meantime I am off to the store to get more bird food!
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” />I enjoyed my 60th birthday this past Wednesday by going to Madison, Wisconsin. I ate at a fabulous place called Muramoto. The shushi was some of the best I have ever had and the plum wine was excellent. Prices were reasonable for lunch and I would highly recommend this place if you are ever in the mood for some good sushi.
Besides lunch, I toured the Olbrich botantical gardens and saw three plants that I am hoping to get for my garden. The Persian Pearl Tulip and Checkered Fritillary were two of my favorite ones. For a shaded area, the Lenten roses were great bushes for accent color. I am sure the gardens change with the seasons and I am looking forward to going back in July to see the summer colors.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” />I went to the Antler auction this weekend and picked up a nice box of antlers to use for my baskets. So today I got creative and made a basket using all natural stuff. It is 82 here in Iowa and the trees and plants just do not know what to do. The normal is about 46! Amazing….
Sometimes God blesses us with the most awesome sign of his presence. This morning I woke up to this beautiful landscape outside my front windows. As much as I complain about plowing, shoveling, driving and freezing in this winter, I am reminded of just how beautiful it can be.
Recently I traveled to Sinsinawa Mound to tour the Mother House of the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters. This exquisite site is the world headquarters for the sisters and the retirement home for those who are aging. It was a fantastic place to visit. I had heard about their famous breads and I was not disappointed when I tried several of their specialties. The “Mound Bread” became famous for its homemade flavor in the 1960s and ’70s. People who visited Sinsinawa Mound wanted more of the bread to take home and share with family and friends. As word spread about the bread, the demand continued to grow. Today, close to 70,000 baked goods are sold to friends and guests every year. The money from the bread helps support the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters as they continue their mission of preaching and teaching the Gospel.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa. This past week I have been working on some new basket weaving techniques. I have finished two new baskets! I enjoy relaxing here at Quiet Walker Lodge and weaving new designs. I am looking forward to 2012. I will be learning how to weave and use gourds to create some unusual designs. My willow patch produced some great willow. I hope to make a basket using the beautiful orange willow that I have harvested this year.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” /> Although there is no snow yet on the ground, I am still wishing for a white Christmas. The surrounding area is all aglow with lights and moving reindeer. It is beautiful to drive around and see the various displays on neighbors front lawns. One of my favorite displays is on Asbury Road in Dubuque. A farmer has a huge star glowing on his silo. It is breathtaking!
There are many plays, musicals and choirs entertaining tourists at this time of year. The festival of trees event was awesome and the Senior High Choir gave us all a glimpse of the festive spirit. Vendors lined Main Street with delicious food, warm drinks and one-of-a-kind holiday goodies. Buddy the Elf, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf, and the Grinch also were there! The Dubuque Senior High School Choir performed and the tree lighting ceremony signaled the official start of the 2011 Festival of Trees. It was a great event to participate in.
We have already had a few parties at the lodge. It is always nice to share a meal with friends and family for the holidays. We here at Quiet Walker Lodge hope you have a blessed holiday and a great New Year.
This Saturday, members of the Quad Cities Guild were treated to an all day weaving workshop by the Midwest Basket Guild. Members enjoyed wine tasting at Quiet Walker Lodge and the beautiful weather! After weaving, the ladies were treated to a tour of the lodge and grounds. I enjoy basket weaving and meeting other weavers. Right now I am working on two willow baskets and planning a trip to the Make it- Take it workshop in Davenport.
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My latest baskets
This summer I have been busy making baskets. These are three of my new additions and I am learning more techinques to make the baskets personal. The cherokee circles on my bean pot basket were fun to do and I enjoyed the progressive basket where we had one person weave the base, another the sides and the thrird person finished the basket. I was amazed at the ways different weavers applied personal techinques to make unique and fun baskets. Now we are getting ready for the Quad Cities Basket Weaving Guild coming to the lodge to weave the latest basket by teacher Jeanne Dudley. We will be weaving Mom’s Santa Fe Tote and the weavers will be visitng the lodge to weave part of the basket here before moving on to Park Farm Winery. It will be fun to be weaving with all these great weavers from Iowa.
Besides weaving, working in the greenhouses and finishing my flower beds and two songbird garden beds, I have been helping Carol with the innkeeping at the lodge. More and more people are finding us on the net and reserving dates to stay at the lodge. One of the highlights of June was a garden wedding held on a cool summer evening here at the lodge. It was awesome and beautiful to see the bride and groom walk down the rolling hill towards the willow tree to say their vows. After the service, the wedding party and their 50 guests enjoyed dinner, catered by Hy-Vee. It was a great day.