Plants: Clovers

March 1, 2012Devon No Comments »

I don’t really know of anyone that would say ground cover is their favorite kind of plant — and I am no different. But, I do have a favorite ground cover: clovers. In honor of March and St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would write about the Oxalis family. First, there are multiple plant families that have three leafs, but Oxalis is what I think of. The iconic green three leafed plant is a shamrock, which is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland, with St. Patrick having used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity. My personal favorits are:

1) Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) A perennial herb common throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia. Oxalis acetosella, commonly known as wood sorrel, grows in clonal stands typical of self-pollinating plants. The leaves of wood sorrel are clover-like, and for that reason it is sometimes referred to as a shamrock (though shamrocks also often refer to true clovers, Trifolium spp.) and given as a gift on St. Patrick’s Day. Wood sorrel, like spinach and broccoli, contains oxalic acid, a common ingredient in cleaning products and rustproofing treatments.

2) Purple Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis). Yes, this is edible — and looks great as a garnish on pasta salads. This wood-sorrel is typically grown as a houseplant but can be grown outside in zones 8a-11, preferably in light shade. It is endemic to Brazil.

3) Bronze Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens Atropurpureum). This creeping perennial has deeply divided, reddish-bronze leaves edged in green. White pom-pom flowers adorn the top in summer. It will do tremendously well draping over a retaining wall, filling gaps in flagstones patios, and edging a pond or surrounding ferns and hostas in a shade garden. Also terrific in a container over top of flower bulbs. Needs adequate light or it will stretch. This plant will be more red in sun, more green in shade.

Plants: Basil

February 5, 2012Devon No Comments »

If you know me well, then you know I love basil! Basil is indeed my favorite herb. I love it because there are so many kinds and it goes with everything — even fruit. If you remember, last year one of my New Year’s resolutions was to grow a basil plant from seed and keep it alive all year — which I did. I think I am going to try it again this year with a new variety. Anyways, I have compiled a list of my favorite 8, yes, I said 8. There are even more, but the list here covers a good range of flavors. Many of them also have a compact version for your kitchen or outdoor planters. Oh, a note: most people know you can dry basil — but you can also freeze it! To freeze: wash it, dry them well, then brush both sides with olive oil. Lay them out on wax paper and stack. They will freeze well and keep for a few months. Or you can freeze a leaf into ice-cubes and through them into soups or pasta sauces when needed.

Almost all these need full sun (around 6-8 hours) and regular watering. They grow quickly so the more water the better. Yet, they don’t like wet feet, so good draining soil is a must. If you use a good compost soil (Miracle-Gro Potting Mix works very well) they will not need fertilizer. To keep your plant producing, pick leaves from the top of the plant. If it starts to bolt (flower), pinch the flowers off to stimulate vegetative growth. You want your plant to put its energy into producing leaves, not flowers!

1) Genovese (Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’). This is traditional italian basil. It’s the iconic look and taste of basil for most Americans. Tall and relatively slow to bolt (flower) with large, dark green leaves about 3″ long. The plant gets about 24-30″ tall. 68 days from seed to harvest.

2) Thai (Ocimum xcitriodorum ‘Siam Queen’). Flavorful garnish for sweet dishes. Green, 2″ long leaves have a spicy anise-clove flavor. Attractive purple stems and blooms. Called “Horapha” in its mother country, “Hun Que” in Vietnam. Plant gets about 12-18″ tall. 64 days from seed to harvest. P.S. There is another called ‘Thai Magic’ — which is more mild/sweet with just a hint of anise.

3) Cinnamon (Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’). Distinctive violet/purple stems, veining, and flower bracts with lavender blooms. Beautiful in casual flower bouquets. Plant gets about 26-30″ tall. 64 days from seed to harvest.

4) Spicy Globe (Ocimum basilicum minimum). Small, dome-shaped plants with tiny leaves — I am tiny! Spicy, sweet basil flavor packed into 1″ long leaves. Decorative plants can be grown in pots or used in garden beds. Plant gets about 8-14″ tall. 70 days from seed to harvest. It really does grow in a dome shape without any pruning.

5) Mrs. Burns’ Lemon (Ocimum basilicum citriodora). The best tasting lemon basil, with a sweet, tangy flavor. Very bright green, 2.5″ long leaves with white blooms make this basil both attractive and intensely flavorful. Plant gets 20-24″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

6) Lime (Ocimum americanum). Adds a unique citrus flair to fish and salads. Compact plant has 2″ long, bright green leaves. Plant gets about 16-20″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

7) Amethyst Improved (Ocimum basilicum ‘Amethyst’). The darkest purple basil I’ve seen! Nice, thick, turned-down leaves like the classic Genovese leaf — and tastes like it too. This almost-black basil is a real focal point. It makes an amazing purple pesto or adds some nice color to salads. Plant gets about 16-20″ tall. 60 days from seed to harvest.

8) Red Rubin (Ocimum ‘Red Rubin’). Vigorous, purple, Italian Large Leaf type! High yields and great flavor. Flat, 3″ long leaves stand out horizontally, and are a copper-tinged purple color. Plant gets about 18-24″ tall. 76 days from seed to harvest — longest wait that I know of.

Plants: Japanese Maples

January 15, 2012Devon No Comments »

So, I couldn’t think of a New Year’s resolution to add to my others until now. It actually takes care of two birds with one stone. First, I have not been writing in my blog as much as I would like. Second, I need to study-up on my plants for my LARE exams this year. Put them together — I am going to write a blog post every month this year over some of my favorite plants! For this lovely January 2012, I have selected Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum). Japanese Maples are native to Asia and southeast Russia. They are either a deciduous shrub or small tree ranging from 1 foot to around 32 feet in height. There are so many cultivars with unlimited forms, colors, leaf types, and sizes — yet, the red-leaf seem to be the most popular. My top five favorites that I would like to share are:

1) ‘Bloodgood‘ is a small, rounded, deciduous tree which typically grows to 15-20 feet tall and features purplish-red flowers in spring, deep reddish-purple summer foliage, red samaras in late summer to early fall and good crimson-red fall color. As with many maples, the flowers are rather attractive close up, but are not particularly showy from a distance.

2) ‘Aconitifolium‘ is one of the most amazing maples. Its leaves are serrated/lobed almost like a fern. They open green and turns shades of yellow-orange. The images does not do it justice, you need to search online for other images. Leaves turn crimson in fall. It typically grows slowly to 8-10 feet tall. Small reddish flowers appear in spring before the leaves and give way to samaras which ripen in late summer to early fall.

3) ‘Sango-kaku‘ aka Coral Bark. The leaves are generally green that turn brilliant yellow in fall. But this maples is not just coveted for it leaves, but after the leaves drop. In the winter months, the newer trunk/stems turn to a bright coral-red color. This is an upright cultivar that may reach 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. This tree does have one down side, it is highly susceptible to bacterial blight (Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae), which can be reduced if planted in a site with good air circulation.

4) ‘Burgundy Lace‘ has a height and spread of about 12 feet — and is a slow grower. The multiple trunks are picturesque, grey and show nicely when lit up at night. It has purple-red colored leaves, cascading growth habit, and fine lace-like leaf texture. As with most Japanese Maples, part sun is preferred, but this maple, under hot conditions, leave’s will burn in the sun (best in almost full shade).

5) ‘Seiryu‘ aka Green Lace. In summer, the tree has a light green color and is reminiscent of a lacy curtain. In late autumn, leaves turn to an expectant green, then to a muddy orange and finally a brilliant red, all within 48 hours! Its mature height is around 15 feet tall, with a spread of 12 feet. Try and avoid the “twigginess” of some selections when finding the right tree for your garden.

Happy New Year — 2012

January 5, 2012Devon No Comments »

Happy New Year! For New Year’s Eve, a group of use went to Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck. If you know Dallas, that’s the big rotating ball restaurant at the top of Reunion Tower. The meal was a fabulous 7 course prefix with Kobe beef and lobster as the main entree. We started eating at 10:30 pm and finished with dessert and a glass of champagne at midnight — just in time to watch the fireworks off in the distance. It truly was an enchanting evening. I have now been in Dallas for over two years — so much has happened. According to my 2011’s blog entries, here are the highlights:

I was looking back at my New Year’s 2011 post — my New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to finish my 2010 resolutions. Lets see how I did:

  • Lose 10 pounds (Nope, maybe this year)
  • Try and reduce self-inflicted stress in my life (Yes and no, but I still need to work on it)
  • Stop relying on spellcheck/Google (I did good for a few, but still relying)
  • Pay off all credit cards (YES! By June 2011 I had all credit cards payed off)
  • Establish an emergency fund (Not so much — because of the above, HAHA)

Looks like I still have some work to do. But this year is already shaping up. I have plans to see Kathy Griffin live on stage in January, a mini-vacation to Austin in January, a mini-vacation to San Antonio in February, Passing section D of the LARE in March, my 27th Birthday in April, and a full 8-day vacation to Disney World in June. That takes us to the half way point of 2012. The rest of the year is still up in the air. Happy New Year!

Christmas 2011

December 30, 2011Devon No Comments »

Thanksgiving 2011

December 3, 2011Devon No Comments »

For actual Thanksgiving my mom came up to Dallas and stayed at the new Downtown Dallas Omni Hotel that opened on 11/11/11. They were stall having the grand opening rate special of $111/per night — which is a really good price since it is normally $250/per night. For Thanksgiving dinner, I made reservations at Craft. The meal was amazing — and almost half of the items were vegetarian. My mom and I thought it was a pre selected menu, where you pick between two items in each category, but no. We were wrong — you picked one of three entrees and then they bring everything else on the menu. It was just my mom and I at a 6 person table filled with over 9 dishes of food! Needless to say, we only eat about half.

A week or so later, I had our “Friendsgiving.” If you don’t know, Friendsgiving is the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends. Instead of dinner with family, it’s dinner with people you actually like. Kidding! The dinner went really well. It’s a pot luck dinner — Jay & I made Ina Garten’s Truffle Turkey (which is absolutely to die for), mushroom dressing, and roasted vegetables; Sheldon & Clay brought mashed potatoes and coconut cream cake; and Danny & Schwan brought drinks and bread. It was a delightful evening with chatting, board games, dancing, and even a movie marathon in the background.

Jay’s Las Vegas Birthday

December 2, 2011Devon No Comments »

This year was a very special year for Jay. His 32nd Birthday landed on his favorite number, 11, three times! Yes, his Birthday was 11/11/11. And what a better way to celebrate a lucky Birthday by going to Las Vegas!

Wednesday, 9, 2011 I left work at noon to meet Jay at the house to catch the town car to the airport. This trip we opted not to use our standby town car driver, Albert. We used a new company, Best Airport Town Car & Taxi Service. If you are ever in Dallas and need a Town Car, I highly recommend Stephen.

Once we arrived in Vegas we walked through the airport to claim our bags and catch a Taxi to our first hotel, The Bellagio. We walked into the hotel lobby and stood inline at the checkin desk. After waiting, for what felt like forever, the clerk began to check us in — she stopped and gave us a look. She then explained that we had “executive status” and to go through the double doors at the end of the “regular checkin” counter. We walked in and were personally greeted; we had our own concierge, free wine and snacks, and bell hops! Our room was 1601 — the highest up Cypress Suite in the hotel.

After checking in and dropping our bags off (and picking my jaw up off the floor becuase the room was more amazing than anything I have ever seen), we ran back down stairs to catch another taxi back to the airport. Why? No, we didn’t lose something. Hold on, I’ll tell you.

One of Jay’s birthday presents was an evening Helicopter tour of the Vegas Strip. None of us had been in a helicopter before, so it was a real treat. I am trully amazed that the flight was so smooth. It felt like being in a really loud car that could hover around (like what I expect a hovercar in The Jetsons to feel like). Our pilot was very friendly and was a perfect tour guide — full of useless facts that Jay already knew — but none-the-less, it was still an adventure.

Once we were back on the ground and at our hotel, we changed into our dining attire for our first Vegas dinner at Le Cirque. The resturant was amazing. From the intimate dinning room, to the charismatic menu, this restaurant could please anyone. I think that the company truly was what made the meal so enjoyable. Our waiter seemed to like us too — he was very attentive and had great recommendations. I remember eating so much, I had to pop to the next notch on my belt. French food will always be my comfort food.

Back at our hotel I played Black Jack for the first time. Well, not the first time, but first “real” time. Back in Dallas my friends were teaching me how to play before the trip — and now was the test. I have to say that my first time was a big success. Everyone at the table (even the dealer) was really nice and helped the “newbie” out with suggestions. About on hour into the game I had turned my $25 into around $260. Then, the dealer switched and I began to lose — I walked away when I got down to $75; so all in all, I won $50.

Thursday, 10, 2011 In the morning, we checked out of the Bellagio and took our bags to our next hotel, PH Westgate Tower. The reason for the hotel switch was so that when everyone arrived we could all hang together in the two bedroom suite — then people could retire to their respective rooms throughout the hotel to sleep. Which turned out to be the perfect idea.

I have to say that this room in no way compares to the room we had in the Bellagio — but it was a good room with different perks; full size kitchen, washer/dryer, and a full size projection TV. When we first arrived we made a few jokes, like “Who needs a full sized fridge in a hotel room…” , little did we know that by the end of the trip the fridge was full with leftovers, empty bottles, and underwear (don’t ask; what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — just kidding!).

For the rest of the day we gambled, saw some of the sites, and then got back to the room just in time for Sheldon and Clayton to arrive and join the party. We then spent the rest of the night watching movies, playing card games, and ordering room service until 4am!

Friday, 11, 2011 (Birthday!) Everyone woke up a bit after 1pm. Some people went gambling, some went to eat, some kept sleeping, and some I have no idea what they did — LOL. We all got back together around 8pm for Jay’s Birthday dinner at Shibuya in the MGM Resort. Dinner was amazing — sushi and the widest sake selection this side of the Pacific! Everyone ordered something form the menu that looked good and then shared it with the table. The last of the birthday guests arrived just after dessert. Lisa was going to arrive yesterday but had a family emergence and had to come a day late. Once we all where together we headed to Pure Night Club at Caesars Palace.

Have you ever seen a movie where people are in a huge line outside a club behind red velvet ropes? And where in the movies the stars go to the front of the line and get let in –while everyone in line grumbles and mumbles in anger? Well, I had no idea that I would ever be in that position! Yes, Jay has clout! After just one phone call we were let into the VIP section of the club and (splitting the cost) got bottle service to’ boot!

After Pure closed — I believe around 2am — Jay, Lisa, and I headed to Drai’s After Hours Night Club. Sheldon and Clay headed back to the hotel to rest. This time behind the red velvet rope, it was a group effort to get in. Jay slipped the bouncer a bribe, I got our cover fees, and Lisa got all the drinks.

Once we left the club — it had to be around 9am or so — we headed back to the hotel suite and played a few card games before all heading to bed. Oh yeah, and Amen for blackout curtains!

Saturday, 12, 2011 Needless to say, everyone slept in late. Late, late — I’m talking 6pm. Some of us mustard up what bit of energy we had and went to Sensi (at the Bellagio) for dinner; while others went back to sleep. The resturant has an amazing concept and layout. It’s a fusion restaurant with four open kitchens in the center each with its own type of cuisines: Italian, Asian, American Grill, and seafood. Everyone wanted to try a bit of everyone food so we all ended up splitting our meals — which was perfect because we all ordered a different type of cuisine. After dinner we all went back to our rooms and watched a movie to relax before bed.

Sunday 13, 2011 We all got up late again. For lunch, some got room service, others ate leftovers from the fridge, and the rest actually had energy and went out. Lisa took her leave from the Birthday vacation around 11am to catch her plane home.

The rest of us went to the last of Jay’s Birthday gifts — The Gun Store! No, no, not to buy a gun, but to shoot a gun! Jay’s last present was a build your own gun rental package. He actually knew about this before hand because we wanted him to talk to his dad (a firearm aficionado) about what gun he should get. He ended up renting the fully automatic M249 S.A.W. .223 — and I got him three extra ammo belts. I on the other hand, rented the Desert Eagle 44 Magnum. It was the first time I have ever held or shot a gun — I figured I would start somewhat small, HAHA!

VIDEO HERE

After the gun store, we went to Michael Minas in the Bellagio. Michael Minas has one of Jay’s must haves in Las Vegas — the coveted Lobster Pot Pie. It’s not just the lobster, it’s the whole experience. The wait staff brings the pot pie out and then deconstructs it in front of you. The aroma as the pie’s top is pulled off is indescribable. My mouth is watering thinking about it right now. After dinner we all went back to the hotel.

Monday, 14, 2011 We checked out of the hotel and took our bags to the holding area. Sheldon and Clay got up earler then us and went site seeing. Jay and I went to Olives at the Bellagio for lunch and watched the fountains of Bellagio dance one last time before we left Vegas. After lunch, we hit the slot machines, did a little sight seeing, met up with Sheldon and Clay, and grabbed one more hot dog from Pink’s at the Planet Hollywood Hotel/Casino.

We got our bags and headed to the airport to find that our plane was severely delayed. Once we finally got back to Dallas, Stephen was there in baggage claim ready to drive us home. We got home so late and I was so tired, I had to take the morning off Tuesday, 15, 2011 to rest. I really do need to add in a rest/recovery day on my vacations! You know, the vacation from the vacation.

New Yard

November 8, 2011Devon 1 Comment »

So after a few month of searching, Jay found the perfect puppy; Riley. Once he arrived it was all fun and games until you noticed that the only place he had for his bathroom area was in over grown 3 foot high Asian Jasmine vines. So, being a landscape designer, I decided to put my skills to use — I generated a new landscape plan for the Moody residence. Jay loved the plan, and having an interior designer background, he could actually comprehend the plan without much explanation.

The basic idea was to cut back the existing Asian Jasmine away from the patio and air conditioning compressors, add a new lawn area edged by black steel edging, add new gravel around the air conditioning compressors, and add Liriope around the new lawn area and in the existing planter beds. To top it all off with something showy; Madison Jasmine vines along the entire fence. It was a simple and functional design solution.

The materials and supplies were purchased through one of the landscape installation companies I work with. I also had a few workers from the company install the design in just a few hours. Jay already had a good irrigation and landscape lighting system — so that was already taken care of. All in all, from design concept, to rendering, to finalizing, to purchasing, to installation — the project took around a month.

Halloween

October 30, 2011Devon No Comments »

For Halloween this year we went to a haunted house and made sugar cookies. First I’ll tell you about the sugar cookies. Making sugar cookies was originally Jay’s idea — and we had this fantasy in our heads. Mixing up the dough, rolling, cutting, and baking was a snap. Hilariously, icing the cookies was tedious and unfulfilling. For some reason, I remember icing cookies a lot more fun when I was younger. I guess we had it in our heads that we would make almost 3 dozen cookies and ice them like you can buy at a gourmet bakery — HA! As you can see in the photo, we stopped after 5. We figured it was time to stop because Jay ended up sitting on the kitchen counter pouting. Funny, we thought it would take us back to our childhood, but not like that.

Now, the  haunted house was good. We went to “SCREAMS” a Halloween Theme Park in Waxahachie, Texas. SCREAMS has 5 haunted attractions set in the woods — kinda’ like a Renaissance festival. In fact they even have art vendors, food, and activities like a Renisance festival. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures because it was so dark. But, it was good enough I would go back again.

A Long Overdue Update

July 6, 2011Devon No Comments »

Long time no post! Its been over two months since the last time I posted a public post — and so much has happened. I should start with the most important event: I’m in a relationship! And a good one too — Hallelujah! It happened just a few weeks after I posted my birthday post — ask and you shall receive!

We met through a mutual friend — so it’s not some random stranger — and we hit it off instantly. So much in common, yet little variations to make us both interesting. Its been two months (as of July 4th) and I am head over heels, smitten, and downright in love! Intelligent, sincere, caring, passionate, dapper, organized, mature, genuine, cultured, and (I know this may sounds strange) physical. I say physical (there maybe a better word, but it somewhat conveys what I mean) because, well, do you know how nice it is to be kissed at a movie theater? Or just have someone rub your back as you’re walking down the street? I don’t know about you, but it means a lot. Anyways, off the tangent — I’m in a wonderful relationship! And I know it’s a good relationship because we baked together (Coconut Cupcakes) — and if you know me, that’s not something I do with just anyone. LOL. I guess 26 really is turning out to be my lucky number “between a square and a cube.”

Speaking of being lucky; so far this year I have won tickets to bingo ($50 value), a Kylie Minogue Concert ($150 value), Billy Elliot ($100 value), The Onion Performance ($70 value), and a few advanced movie screenings (around $40 value). I have also been lucky in the fact that I have been able to travel recently.


At the beginning of June I went on an amazing weekend trip to Fort Worth. It was nice to get out of Dallas and explore the city next door. Fort Worth is so different from Dallas. It’s just 30 minutes away, yet its like stepping into the old west — cowboy boots/hats and all. Near the end of June, over Father’s Day weekend, I was in New Orleans for what turned into 4 days. I have never had so much good food and good company on a trip (If you have access to the private blog section, you can continue to read about these trips)!


Also, going back to being lucky, I went to my first horse race at Lone Star Park near Dallas. It was the first time I have ever placed a bet on a horse — and now I know I have no idea how to bet on horses! Lone Star Park also has a dinner buffet so it was two birds with one stone. The betting may have gone sour but the dinner made up for it — either way it was a fun outing with good friends.


And just the other weekend, over July 4th, I went on a two day trip to the Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma. It was another fun little trip to get out of Dallas and relax. We ended up eating at the 1832 Steakhouse twice! As you can see from the picture, if that middle 7 was down one notch I would have won over $700! But, I was happy with the $48 — LOL!

So much stuff has happened. The reason I have not posted in a long time is because time is going so fast! May suddenly ended and then June went by in a blink! I love being busy, but I haven’t had time to just sit down and write — until now that is :)