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!
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.
“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.