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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

Bringing Plants in for the Winter

It's that time of year and actually it looks like it is happening faster this year. Temperatures are already dipping into the 30s at night and next week I see a prediction of 28 one night and a high of 42 next Friday. Ouch! And some forecasters are predicting snow showers. What??

I know the photo shows a hot mess and it is but I'm conducting an experiment and hope to spread the plants out some as soon as I can make room. We are fortunate to have a garage at the basement level of our house. We love it although it is woefully small, especially when both our vehicles are in and they always are. That leaves about 6 -8 feet on one side for storage. Shelves run all along the wall as well as space for our old functioning refrigerator which we use for overflow. Most of the shelf space is taken with tools, Christmas decorations, etc.

For years, we've overwintered tender potted plants - Angel's Trumpet, fuchsia, begonia, etc. in this dark basement with good success. However, they take up so much floor space. We finally decided that fuchsias and begonias took so long to bloom the next year that it was feasible to just buy new plants. So this year, there are fewer plants or so I thought. I'm also adding plants that I normally keep inside the house (they always suffer and Michael bitches about the mess they make) and I have a large mandevilla that I got late in the season from the nursery as a freebie. I hope I can keep it alive. And there is the Plectranthrus 'Guacamole', one of our favorites this year, that was just too beautiful to toss.

This year I'm doing things different with the addition of a plant light. I've never used one before and no instructions came with the light. There are various timer increments (6-8-12 hours) as well as different colored light levels and brightness modes. So, more research on this is needed as well as clearing off more shelf space to spread these out some (which will probably mean buying more lights!). Ah, the things we do for plants...

Do you use grow lights? What experiences and recommendations do you have?

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Best wishes with hauling those plants in, Phillip. That's one annual chore I don't have to worry about in coastal SoCal. I've heard that the La Nina conditions that feed our drought often mean colder than usual conditions for the PNW. I hope you get more rain than snow!


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