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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Night Garden

It has taken me a long time to get into night lighting for the house and garden. It is something I've always wanted to do but the mere suggestion of electrical wiring sent me running. These days there is solar lighting and even electrical lighting kits that plug right in. I've slowly been adding more and more lights. Now, only a stretch along the front fence is the only dim area. That project will be next, but it is going to require some digging to hide the cords.

The photo at the top shows the entrance to the front garden from the driveway that runs along the east side of our house. The light on top of the gate is a solar light and the ones on the ground at the right are electrical landscape lights. They work with a timer that comes on automatically at night.

The same area from a different angle is the view looking down the driveway. The tree is Ceanothus 'Black Diamond' which Michael has masterfully pruned into tree form. The entrance to the back garden is at the bottom of the driveway. 

Stepping up the short steps and through the gate to the right brings you to the pathway that runs along the front of the house. A border on the left is where my beloved Strawberry Tree (Arbutus) resides. It is lighted with a landscape light. It was damaged badly during the last snowfall and has a large hole in the middle of the it that is not too noticeable from this angle. There was a perfect full moon the night I photographed this. The long exposure stretches it out of proportion. 

Walking up the pathway and turning around -

All the way over to the opposite side of the house and the front garden -

The following photos were taken in the back garden. Looking UP the steps of the middle terrace -

The pergola in the central area of the back garden. We've only had meals here twice and the last time was this past weekend with some friends. It was a very cool evening and we had soup.

Finally, the Pan garden which is right off the deck out the back door of the house. It is nowhere near this bright. Apparently, the camera was overcompensating for the low light.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Lights can add so much to a garden if done right-you've nailed it ! I have 2 sets of LED solar string lights -one is installed and will set up the second after the current heat wave goes away. They are pretty discreet but I get a lot of pleasure out of them. It's hard to find solars that don't look like bright white parking lot lights !

  2. Once again you have created a magical place.

  3. Placing lights in a garden is an art and you're excelling there. My husband and I were lucky to inherit a pretty good outdoor lighting setup, although the lights themselves are something of a pain to keep in working order and not something we'd have purchased if we'd installed them. Someday, we'll get around to updating the set-up...

  4. Yes, magic. Michael did a wonderful job on that Ceanothus, and the lighting effects are excellent.


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