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Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2017


This is the first chocolate tomato harvested this year.  If the birds do not get to them before we do, there should be many more, along with other types of heirloom tomato goodies. I fell in love once with a tomato called Cherokee Purple,  An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; it has a beautiful deep dusky purple-rosy red color and sweet flavor.  And so I began to learn more about heirloom plants in general, and especially tomatoes. I love them for their stories, for their names, and for the adventure of growing them. They are not as hardy as the recently hybridized tomatoes. In addition to these 2, this year we have Brandywine, Louisiana Pink, Eva Purple Ball, and Kosovo plus a yellow heirloom I failed to tag. No, we don't have a large garden, only 1 or 2 plants of each. Joe, Ben, and my daughter in law Kristen do most of the work, and I get to pick a tomato or two and enjoy the benefits. Nora, at 3, already loves harvesting cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers with her mom. 

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Promise of Spring

Last week I found Forsythia branches at my grocery store!  I like to stroll through the flower offerings although I seldom buy flowers for myself.  But I love bringing forsythia and plum and pussy willow to bloom inside when the outside is still bleak and cold.  These branches responded promptly, beginning to flower the very next day, and continuing to delight us every day since.  Spring started on my kitchen counter!  So I am browsing the seed catalogs and beginning garden plans while smiling everytime I see these yellow blossoms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall Garden

One of the consolations or our summer heat is the arrival of our second growing season, our fall garden.  We again grow a salad bowl of lettuces - Romaine, Red and
Green Leaf and Butter lettuce thrive, and cold weather veggies like cabbage, collards, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and chard begin to thrive.

We plant old favorite herbs in the new beds as well - basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, and Mexican mint marigold, the Texas offering which tastes like Tarragon, which does not grow well here. Our garden is one more thing which makes  us feel at home in our new surroundings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hope Floats

Signs of recovery and restoration are in many places in our county following the Brazos River flood. While the river is still high, the area labeled as a Federal disaster and many homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, many more have been cleared out and cleaned so that some can return to the places they lived. Our church's Red Cross shelter has been closed; the remaining residents have received assistance to go to relatives or hotels. Agencies have come together in the previous shelter location (ordinarily our church gym and kitchen) for access by those who need help and direction. Friends, neighbors, and generous volunteers have helped to do the hard work necessary to clean and organize.  Fields that were under water show green beginnings under brown, withered foliage.  I have chosen to post photos and story of one of our favorite places as an example of the stories of many.

 Enchanted Forest is one of 2 garden centers owned and operated by the Linderman family.  Before our recent move, we lived near Enchanted Forest, so for 24 years have loved going there, stocking our garden and leaning on their advice in many ways.  Gary Lenderman and Danny Lenderman, his son, have in particular been good friends who have helped us over and over. We shook our heads sadly as we learned of the flooding at this beautiful place and saw pictures of what looked like a river instead of the place of beauty we have enjoyed with our family and friends.  So when they announced they would reopen on June 18, we were there along with others expressing the same "We are so glad you are back!"  Without exception, every Linderman family member there along with every employee smiled and welcomed us. We learned that all the plants floated away and all the plants now displayed were new ones. There was extensive damage to buildings, offices, and gift shop. But there were still smiles (along with aching backs, I am sure.)

Not every story of loss and grief will have the beauty and message of green growing things and poetry of flowers, but almost all the stories I hear contain somewhere a glimmer of one thing in common:  HOPE.  Last Saturday, T shirts were being sold at Enchanted Forest's reopening with this message:  "Even when the river gets high, hope always floats."  Typical of their generosity and gifts to this community, the proceeds all go to Fort Bend County charities.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pleasure of Your Company

I enjoy so many things about my granddaughters, all 5 of them. Since they range in age from 10 months to 21 years, there is wide variation, but some things are common to all. I am happy they like to be in our home.  Without fail, when they come if I am not on the front porch waiting, they knock and peer through the leaded glass on our front door and greet me with excitement!  I love conversation with them, Nora saying it all with her gestures and her eyes, and the others chattering away with me. Like most people who enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, I welcome them there and that seems to be their favorite place inside. I like that they like to cook and ask to help with meals and treats. I welcome their pleasure in our shaded back yard or in the sunny garden, enjoying the fragrance of herbs or looking for butterfly caterpillars or climbing trees (well, Nora looks and smells, she does not yet climb trees) ! We have fun with sidewalk chalk, planting seeds, cutting flowers to dry, art projects, dressup, and tea parties.  One of my favorite pleasures is the joy they have in being with each other, as in the top photo of Skye and Nora.  But of all the things we enjoy, Nora tells us the best...


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Four O'Clock

It is four o'clock in the afternoon on this Thursday, September 5, 2013.   I am not referring to the time of day in the title above but to the sweet old fashioned flower by that name.  I am remembering sticky, hot September afternoons many years ago when my sister and I sat on the swing in our screened front porch and made our own breeze as we pushed off with our feet to swing back and forth.  There was no air conditioning inside the house, so the shaded porch with its green painted wood floor and blue ceiling was as cool as we were going to get unless we ran through the sprinkler. I can hear the creaking of the chains which held the swing, the song of the Katydids in the Chinaberry tree, and see the shrubbery nestled up against the house on Sunset Street.  Sitting on the porch meant being close to the flowers.  Mother's flower beds held huge hydrangea bushes in the back yard, forsythia, Hawthorne, and a few rose bushes with annuals like Bachelor Buttons and Touch Me Nots and Old Maids in between.  But in front, just on the outside of the porch screens, Cape Jasmine and Four O'Clocks thrived. 

 I loved watching for Four O'Clock flowers to open in the evening air, knowing they would close by the next morning. I liked to pick the flowers, careful not to tear them at the base, and stack them in rows, making decorations and necklaces. I can smell their fragrance, light with a hint of vanilla, and feel the cool tissue papery petals.  They came in all colors - magenta, yellow, white, but the coral of the flower in this photo is the one I remember best. When they went to seed, the hard round black nubs were easy to collect and replant.  

I think the seeds of loving to garden were collected and planted while I was stacking the Four O'Clocks.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Scattered Memories

I heard a loud crash early one morning last week and rushed to check on Joe, who was getting dressed.  Then I walked through the kitchen and front part of the house looking for damage.  One cat was sitting calmly on the back of a chair but the other cat hid for the rest of the morning.  I didn't have to guess which one had knocked a bowl of homemade pot potpourri onto our ceramic tile floor. Skye came to spend the day with me and as she helped me take this picture and sweep up the broken pottery and remains of dried herbs and flowers , we talked about the damage and how breaking something can make us sad.  She wanted to keep the broken pieces of the bowl and some of the dried rosebuds to put with her fairy garden supplies.  Then we swept the rest into the trash.

It was only after I looked at the photo that I thought more about why this dish of dried petals was special.
Every thing in the bowl was from our garden and had been added one at a time.  The tiny Katrina rose buds and petals from a fragrant Maggie rose and the yellow rose which clambers over an arch,  tawny, leathery Magnolias, lavender fronds, pieces of basil and rosemary, even a dried slice of Meyer lemon.  All were gathered and collected in a small hand thrown bowl fired in a speckled jade green glaze that I bought when we lived in Indonesia over 20 years ago. Some of the rose buds had been picked by little girls and proudly presented as a gift. Joe likes to bring me a flower or piece of herb when he comes in from the garden. It was a joint endeavor.

So I was sad, not for the things broken and scattered, but for that which they represented: the growing and choosing and gathering, the connection and love of my family. And once again, I know that I can let go of things, but that I keep the love.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gardens and Granddaughters

As you can see, Jordann is really getting into gardening these days.  She loves picking the tiny clusters of Wild Cherry tomatoes that have taken over the herb garden.  She and her sister, Maddie, also love popping a tomato in their mouths for tasting while they pick!  These plants have come up volunteer all over the garden this year, and although I have pulled up many of them as soon as they appear, there always seem to be more. The tomatoes are only half as big as most cherry tomatoes, and are great for tossing into a salad, but the plants are so sprawling and invasive they are crowding out everything else.  So, this weekend, I will be pulling them out and getting the raised bed ready for fall vegetable and herb planting.  This is clearly a lesson that applies to other parts of my life:  just because something is pretty,  interesting, fun and flourishing doesn't mean it is the right choice or the best time for me to let it continue to use up my time and energy.  I am always learning from my garden.    

When Jordann comes back to our house for another visit, she may notice the jungle of tomato vines is gone, replaced with something else that is good to eat and fun to harvest.  And I know that she will be just fine with that. As in the picture below, Maddie and she will take a basket and gather what grows in the present.  I learn that from my granddaughters - that loss and change do not always mean sorrow.  That new things are good, too. And that doing them together is the best of all.       

I love what my garden and my grandchildren teach me.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Garden

April showers might have brought May flowers, but so far May is bringing record setting low temperatures. Here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, by this time we are usually working to keep cool instead of wrapping up to stay warm.  Yesterday another cold front literallty blew in.  Wind gusts took my patio umbrella up and away, and tree branches have been whipping so hard the new leaves are hanging on for dear life.  I put on my coat and did a quick walkabout to check for garden damage, and am pleased to say it is slight.  Here is a photo walk through!

As in the photo of above, our antique roses are thriving in the cooler temperature. The colors are intense.

             Petunias, not to be outdone by the roses, but they will never muster that kind of fragrance!

      Tuscan Kale and Swiss Chard - ornamental, but also edible. Organic gardeners, we can eat our        borders!  We already have tomatoes on the vines, and a big bed of hot peppers.

       These flowers make a tasty addition to salads.  Nasturtiums, a favorite in my herb garden.

Daylilies hold up their reputation of blooming in spite of temperature - but usually that is a reference to hot!

This amaryllis has had more blooms this year than anytime since I planted it.  

Look at the blooms on this Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow bush my friend Debbie gave to me.

Sweet little nosegays of Forget-Me-Nots

This pot of geraniums on the porch makes me smile.

There are tiny Meyer lemons, the Satsuma is blooming, and the fig tree bravely sports baby figs!

Post a comment and tell me what is greening and growing in your garden!   

Friday, October 12, 2012

After Dinner Gardening

Many things we enjoyed doing with our sons when they were growing up are being revisited as we have fun with granddaughters.  One project with almost endless possibilities is "after dinner gardening."  Yes, we can grow pineapples in our own back yard here on the Gulf Coast of South Texas.  Once the pineapple top has been sliced off before paring and slicing the fruit for eating, it can be placed into soil mixed with a few coffee grounds.  Kept moist, it will root and make a new pineapple plant.  We have sprouted avocado seeds, apple, peach, and grapefruit seeds, also lemon and orange.  Celery root ends kept in a shallow dish with water will grow new celery leaves, and carrot tops done the same way are wonderful little ferns to use in a fairy garden.  We have successfully grown ginger from ginger root and garlic from garlic pods.  Of course, potato eyes can be fun to plant and grow, too.  Another part of this project is becoming seed savers which leads to sharing seeds, just like my grandmother did.

I think we are also growing gardeners!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Most of my garden photographs get posted in my blog . Most of my kitchen stories and recipes get told at .   But this blue pea vine that blooms so profusely at my kitchen window reminds me why I love vines so much: they are quite alot like families.  There is something magical about a climbing vine in a garden. Vines seem to have a mind of their own and grow here and there in many directions - but they need something to cling to or climb on, a support.  Like morning glories and moonflowers, they reach for the strength of a trellis or rail and hang on, blooming and blooming some more.

Families can be like that too. Especially in our marriages,  I think sometimes we are branches of  the vine and at other times we need to be the trellis, offering support for each other's growth and change. As I age, my children help me do things I once could do for myself or for them. So last night, as the blue pea vine peeked in my kitchen window, I cooked a pot of seafood gumbo with my granddaughter's good help while my son hung curtain rods for me and my daughter in law stood on a ladder to change light bulbs. I am thankful for my trellis and glad I can still bloom.  They loved the gumbo.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

One of the great advantages of living on the South Texas Gulf Coast is that we have two growing seasons!  It is true that Spring gardens often get burned with summer heat that comes on fast, but Fall gardens can be so rewarding.  I planted new tomato plants about a month ago in containers that were shaded part of the day.  Now that cooler temperatures have arrived, they are setting fruit.  Squash and cucumbers went in a few weeks ago as well.  This weekend, I will plant some Kale, collards, bok choy, and lettuces.  If we have a typical mild winter, they will still be thriving until next Spring.  One year we had an unusual snow day early in December and I have photos of the greens frosted with snow which only seemed to give them second wind!  I love planting seeds.  When my granddaughters are here, they like to plant their own rows.  Our garden may be small, but it adds so much pleasure and of course, good nutritious food for our table.  I will add a plug for Baker Creek Heirloom seeeds, my favorite seed catalog.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Market, To Market

We grow a few vegetables and have pomengranate, Meyer Lemon, Fig, and Satsuma trees, with starter Avocado and Olive trees. The past two years, we have purchased a CSA share which means we have local organic produce and eggs during their delivery seasons.  But today, I am thankful for the abundance of Farmers Markets that are new to our area.  At the site of the old Imperial Sugar plant in Sugar Land, every Saturday local gardeners, bakers, chefs, and craftsmen are there with fresh vegetables like sweet Japanese eggplant, colorful peppers, squash, okra, tomatoes, peaches, fresh bread and pastries, Texas Wagyu beef, freshly made pastas, olive oils, and a variety of condiments.  It is satisfying to support local efforts, and the results are tasty when I bring our bounty home to cook.  I have another reason to be happy - tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the 60's, so I don't even have to brave the blistering Texas heat to shop. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beating Heart, Blooming Rose: A Story of Friendship

I love growing antique roses. Every time I tend mine or bring bouquets in to grace our kitchen table, I am reminded of the dear friend who first introduced me to “old roses.” I had never been much inspired to grow roses, appreciating the beauty of long stemmed hybrids, but avoiding their need for pampering. Marcia told me about robust roses that are so hardy they grow on old tumbled down homesites and along fences. Once I realized that each one had its own unique story and fragrance, I was hooked. I pored over catalogs, and planted Sombreuil, Mutabulis, Maggie, and Crepescule. My rose friends’ stories blend now with my friend Marcia’s story, and that of her husband, Bob.

Bob was crazy about Marcia. Marcia adored Bob. Her nickname was Moose, and she fancied cats and roses. The cats were a pair of vocal chocolate point Siamese named Mikhail and Nikita and were Bob and Marcia’s babies, but the roses were their passion.

Marcia had picked out her wedding dress and envisioned a wedding long before she found Bob when she was in her mid-thirties. During their pre-marital counseling sessions with Marcia’s pastor, Bob was asked what one thing he would change about her if he could. He said he would give her a healthy heart since she was born with a hole in her heart and developed Eisenmenger’s syndrome which meant her heart and lungs were unable to provide her with enough oxygen. That didn’t keep her from her photography business but it made keeping up with physical activity hard for her. It also didn’t keep her from loving Bob and planning a life with him.

After Bob heard Marcia say she always wanted a rose garden, he bought 80 acres of fertile South Texas Gulf Coast land to plant neither rice nor cotton, but thousands of rose bushes. They drew up plans, pored over catalogs, and began choosing roses. When the first 2000 rose plants arrived, Marcia directed the planting from her hospital bed. A group of us who called her friend went out to plant the roses with Bob’s help.

Two pacemakers later, she was placed on a heart transplant list. Finally, Bob and Marcia and the cats moved to Nashville, TN to be near Vanderbilt University Hospital while she waited what they thought would bea few months to receive a heart and lungs. I went out to their rose farm a few times to help pot cuttings as their plans to open a shop and nursery were postponed. Many of their family and friends did what they could to help maintain the plantings. Time dragged on over 2 years, with Marcia in and out of the hospital as her need became greater. Because the need for organs so far outweighs donors, Marcia once said “There’s just no ordering from the Land’s End catalogue.” That may have been a quip, but certainly not a joke. In order to increase awareness for organ donation, she allowed a reporter and photographer to follow her for 4 ½ months in the hospital, a story later published in the Nashville newspaper. In the series of articles, Marcia and Bob's love for each other and their deep faith dominated the story of their courage.

Bob worked from her hospital room and their apartment on his computer and was her chief encourager. One day he filled every pitcher, Styrofoam cup, and container he could find in her hospital room with Texas roses which he had flown to Tennessee. He brought Mikhail and Nikita for visits because she missed them so much. Her Dr. OK'd this when he found out how much it helped her.

The day came for Marcia's rare heart and double lung transplants in April 1999. Recovering, she returned to Texas with pink cheeks, a grin, and enough air to play her flute as well as honor a promise to a friend to be in her June wedding. In her absence, friends and family had planted, rooted, and tended endless cuttings and rose beds. Bob built her a house. Early on they had planned a gift shop, tea room, and wedding chapel for their antique rose nursery and display gardens named The Vintage Rosery. Together, now they worked side by side, nurturing roses, increasing public awareness of organ donation and organic gardening, and kept all the commitments involved in maintaining Marcia's health. Together, they prayed and played, keeping the dreams alive, celebrating the opening of their gardens only 2 years after her transplants. For the next 5 they grew their garden and introduced customers to roses.

On a brilliant fall day, a line of cars miles long drove through the arches at the Vintage Rosery past masses of climbing yellow Lady Banks and fragrant Madame Alfred Carriere drifts, along the beds of multicolored Mutabulis, Maggie and pink Duchesse de Brabant next to rows of Souvenir de La Malmaison. They passed by the stream with its covered bridge and saw a tiny chapel. As people got out of their cars, they walked by a charming yellow house with a kitchen garden and fragrant herbs lining paths. By the lakeside, they gathered to honor Marcia and celebrate her life.

The following month, a “For Sale” sign hung on the gate. Bob held a moving sale. Marcia’s mom helped him. I went, weeping as I bought some of Marcia’s herb and antique rose books. As friends and strangers walked through the house and gardens, they saw “Rose Bushes - $10.00 each”, “Garden Books - $5 each”, “Gardening Tools -$15”, “Cutting Baskets - $7” I miss my friend. But I see her when I walk among my roses.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker

We had two weeks of very unusual weather for July - two weeks of rain every day, heavy rain on a number of days and darkly overcast skies with thunderheads even on the dry days!  This was not associated with a tropical storm or hurricane and was so very much in contrast with last summer, one all remember as a brutal drought.  Many areas north and east of the Houston area received more than 14 inches of rain and experienced flooding.  We were thankful for our 6 to 7 inches and most of all, for the drop in temperatures.  This morning, although there is still a chance of some showers this afternoon, the sun is up early and burning brightly. Hot!  As I was clipping blooms from our leggy basil plants and cutting some of its bounty to hang up and dry,  I was thinking how herbs hate to have wet feet and could almost see soggy soil baking.  It is going to be a true to Texas summer day!

There are many reasons on the Texas Gulf Coast to experience the power of summer.  Flooding rains, blistering heat, the challenges of helping animals and plants survive, getting into an oven everytime I need to drive the truck, fire ants, mosquitoes, electric and water bills, sunglasses sliding down my nose along with perspiration - these are among the ways we spend our summertime.

At the same time, we experience the refreshment of cooling showers, sunshine on our shoulders, singing cicadadas, ripening figs and berries , the flourishing of fragrant herbs, air conditioning, iced tea, cold watermelon,  and a healthy dose of Vitamin D!   "summertime, and the living is are jumpin' and the cotton is high!"  Papa doesn't have to be rich, and Mama may not be good lookin', but "hush, little baby, don't you cry!"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Touch- Me- Not

We planted Impatiens Balsaminas this week!  One of our favorite local garden centers grew a few to see what interest their customers might have and were almost sold out when we went to get ours.  For years now, this little known member of the same family as the lavender and coral shade loving impatiens has gone unnoticed. It was popular in Victorian times and a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. I think it is one of those lovely, old fashioned flowers that just fell out of favor.  Mother always grew them in our front flower beds by the screened front porch.  Grandma grew them by the back door.  One of my earliest gardening delights was touching the touch- me- nots!  You see, when their seed pods are "ready", the seeds jump right out - surely producing little girl giggles!  They are heat resistant, don't require nearly as much water as other impatiens, and grow vigorously up to 3 feet high. Best of all, because of their robust reseeding, you usually only have to plant them once, they will come back and come back and come back!

Called by other names, such as Jumping Betty, Lady Slipper, and Rose Balsam, these plants also have a history of medicinal use,  having the reputation of a remedy for snake bite poison ivy rash among others.

I have had fun this week remembering long ago flower beds and being glad for ancestors who loved tending flowers.
I can't wait to touch the first seed pod by my back porch and wait for the resulsts next Spring!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being Thankful for Chores

A maid service which advertises with bulk mail in our town reprimands "Life is too short to clean your own house."  The number of meals which families eat out, prepared and cleaned up by someone else,  is an astronomical part of family budgets.  I even saw a newsclip last week touting the introduction of a Swedish invention which is a bed that makes itself!  It seems that we spend an inordinate amount of energy and resources to get someone else to do our homework!Now approaching 72, and learning to accept more help these days, I appreciate occasional assistance with cleaning and gardening. But I prefer doing most of it myself.
I grew up having chores - housekeeping and kitchen chores I was allowed to be responsible for. At times I helped when Daddy fed the cows or drug a trailer behind a tractor to pick watermelons.  I don’t remember this as a negative, just something that was done because I was told to, most of the time feeling good about it. I may have not always begged to dust or take care of my little sister, but I loved helping in the kitchen. Cleaning up afterward was just part of the process. The summer  I was twelve, I helped behind the counter of the small cafe my parents owned. I had part time jobs as a teenager. That was work, not a chore, right?  When I graduated high school at seventeen, entered college, and became solely responsible for getting myself up and off to 7 a.m. classes and to my on campus job, I was given a book with a quotation by Charles Kingsley which still comes to mind when I hear anyone bemoaning “having” to do something.

 “Thank God–every morning when you get up–that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you a hundred virtues which the idle never know.”

I wouldn’t have labeled it so at the time, but I was learning the value of discipline. I also learned that something I accomplish has a great deal of meaning that involves something I am. Beginning all those years ago, I began to understand how I could find deeper meaning in my daily tasks required to care for my home and family.   I found great creative energy in gardening, planning and cooking meals, finding ways to make our home beautiful with art and music, encouraging our boys with good books, and offering hospitality to our friends and family. But the weeding, cleaning, mopping, potscrubbing, endless laundry (3 boys certainly makes for lots of washing and ironing) and keeping up with all the practices and games they were involved in could have easily overwhelmed me except for my belief that what I was doing was more than a job that would likely be necessary to repeat soon.

 I could pray for the man who would wear the shirt I was ironing. I could be intent on loving the little boy from whose jean pocket I had just fished out a frog. I could focus on blessing the messes as well as taking pride in the delicious meals. For many years, I have kept a small framed poem. It has peeped from beneath the stacks of paperwork on my desk, perched by the detergent in the utility room, and for a long time now has rested on the side of my kitchen sink.

Teach me, my God and King
In all things Thee to see
And what I do in anything,
To  do it as for Thee.
   ~ George Herbert

 Kathleen Norris, in her little book, The Quotidian Mysteries, discusses this process of the deeper meaning in our chores.

“…all serve to ground us in the world, and they need not grind us down. Our daily tasks, whether we perceive them as drudgery or essential, life-supporting work, do not define who we are as women or as human beings. But they have a considerable spiritual import, and their significance for Christian theology, the way they come together in the fabric of faith, is not often appreciated.”

We may do well to consider any differences with which we approach work (in the sense of a job for which we are paid) and chores, the necessary tasks which order our daily lives and the life of our family. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yea for Summer!

Officially, Summer does not arrive for almost another month!.  But a number of indicators say it is already here in every way except the calendar date. In order of arrival, but not importance, these are 1) the weather - already mid nineties and sticky with humidity, 2) the Texas size mosquitoes that seem to thrive in the heat, and 3) the end of another school year, which makes possible the joy of extra time spent with us by our grandchildren.  Next week, Maddie and Jordann arrive to spend a week.  But this week, Skye and I have three days of fun together. 

I did not set out to spend three days unplugged, but we have had little time for television or smaller electronics!  Often, necessity is the mother of invention, so yesterday one of our first projects was homemade mosquito repellent.  I had tried the mixture last week, so Skye made her own spray bottle to take home with her.  The recipe is a simple mix of alcohol, oil, and essential oils:

2 Tablespoons rubbing alcohol
2 Tablespoons almond oil (or olive oil)
50 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops each of peppermint, lavender, and lemongrass essential oils

Mix, pour into small spray bottle and shake before each use.

We tried it  - it works!  It isn't quite the same as baking cookies together, but still fun.

We also made fresh sugar water to refill the hummingird feeders after we cleaned them, and did some painting of toenails and fingernails.  Skye is very fond of mermaids right now, so she wanted blue and turquoise nails with fish scales.  I opted for plain pearl.

Today we mixed up some moss paint and painted some garden pots and statuary with what we hope grows into lovely mounds of real moss.  Results to be posted later!  Tomorrow we are making hanging basket fairy gardens.

The biggest project will take us awhile.  The Victorian dollhouse and most of its furniture is in dire need of repair.  We plan to work on this when we can, and solicit help from the handymen in the family! 

Don't you think we earned the hour we spent  on the couch reading?   

I love Summer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Our Meyer lemon tree is loaded with baby lemons like these. Lemon blossoms have one of the lovliest fragrances in the garden.  One reason may be the promise of all this lovely fruit.  We love watcing the little nubbins grow, rounding out, and staying this rich green until chartreuse tinges the growing globes and eventually turns well, lemon color!  This takes ahwile, so we have to be patient.  But I already am pulling out all my Meyer lemon recipes and anticipating the delicious outcome!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden Ladies

Each Spring there are certain rituals we like to observe.  Just as we remember that Valentine's Day is the best time to prune the roses,  make trips to our favorite garden center to see what varieties of tomatoes we want to purchase, and sit with seed catalogs to inspire us for clearing out and preparing flower and herb beds, we love an annual celebration of good bugs!  Here, our grand-lady Skye is releasing 2000 ladybugs in the garden.  She was happy, and they were hungry!  The few aphids that had dared to perch on nearby rosebuds were not around long.
We enjoy this celebration of freedom for these little red garden ladies, even though it means finding a few in our hair or riding on our shoulder for awhile.  Don't try this if you spray your yard with harmful pesticides or chemicals.  We are organic gardeners, so the ladybugs can go about their work of eliminating aphids, the most common garden pest,  without getting eliminated themselves.

Ladybugs are one of the insects we have in our gardens today that are popular all over the world.  In ancient times, ladybugs were considered a sign of good fortune and a bountiful harvest. 
This one little ladybug is capable of eliminating 1000 aphids per day!  Good job, Garden Ladies!