Saturday, September 20, 2014


It doesn't really matter what time of year it is I always get the gardening bug.  I count the days until I can plant the first seedling of Spring.  I keep the Spring garden going through the scorching temperatures of Summer until Fall when it will again begin to thrive.  I move my container plants inside during Winter until I can put them back outdoors in the early Spring.  So it goes.  My Round Robin of the gardening bug.

Which season is easiest to grown the best crops?  The only honest answer to that question is-it depends on what part of the country you plant your garden in.  Where I live temperatures over 100 in the summer are common.  The warmer season holds on longer than many other climates.  The coldest part of the year is shorter with fewer days below freezing.  If you live, say in the Northern part of the US, you might have a shorter Summer season and longer Winter season. I adjust my routine accordingly.

In the Spring I plant my tomatoes, green beans, peas and peppers earlier than some may in other areas of the country.  They also tend to fizzle out sooner as the hot weather comes on quickly and seems to last forever.  I don't give up the garden though.  I still keep my crops watered and check on them every day removing as much of the dead foliage as possible.  While Summer winds down the blossoms on these plants will again peak out of the stems and I soon have a whole new set of crops.

In addition to the revival of my Spring vegetation I do blend in my favorite cooler weather sprouts such as broccoli and kale.  Some are placed in containers, typically a 5 gallon lard bucket with holes drilled in the bottom, so they can continue to prosper in the bright lights of my bay window during Winter.  Others work better in the inverted container, which will hang securely above the same bay window.  It's like having my own mini garden right indoors.

 Where I reside there is little doubt in my mind that my Fall garden thrives much better than the Spring garden. I attribute my more productive Fall garden to timing, determination and Mother Nature.  If I know the climate best suited to my crops than I know when to best plan for my garden.  For example green beans, tomatoes and peppers will thrive in Spring and Fall.  If I care for the Spring plants they will succeed with more vegetables in Fall.  The harvest will also be much greater. Why? Because the plants are already mature.  There is now waiting for seedling to grow and yield results.  Once the weather begins to cool off the blossoms will appear in abundance and fresh crops soon follow.

The Spring and Fall garden can both be gratifying.  One of the most important tools you will have for success is proper planning.  Know the environment best suited for your crops, and know the climate you will be harvesting in. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Giant Yucca
I have several Yucca in my yard.  Some were rescued from a demolished apartment complex.  Some were swiped  from the side of a road in Oklahoma.  I have several different varieties.  The "Giant Yucca" is quite possibly my favorite.  It stand majestic in the spring with it's elegant white flowers reaching for the heaven's.  It has strong, thick leaves that are sturdy and hold up to a lot, including the colder temperatures.  It has sharp pointed leaves that can be quite painful

Adan's Needle

The Adam's Needle has much thinner needle like leaves that grow outward more than upward.  They do not achieve nearly the size of the Giant Yucca and are much more delicate.  They also have beautiful, majestic white flowers that grace the cool spring weather with there presence.

Native American used almost every part of the yucca plant for everything from weaving to mastering ritual concoctions.  Little is actually know about the benefits, or dangers of the yucca plant.  One thing I do know first hand is that you can't battle one.  No matter how hard you try to remain protected the yucca is more powerful than any planning and preparation on your part.

I am very proud of my Yucca's.  It took some work to transport them from the original dwelling and nurture them to the appealing landscape they became.  Low and behold I noticed my favorite Yucca was beginning to look extremely droopy.  At closer glance I realized my worst fear.  There they were scurrying all over my succulent like they had always been there.  These little creatures (commonly referred to as Yucca Bugs) thrive by draining the yucca of all the vital fluid in it's leaves.  They are merciless and can destroy an entire plant before you may even realize you've been hit.

Fortunately I was able to take preventative measures at the right time.  Armed with a 3 cup spray bottle full of canola oil and shampoo the entire plant was sprayed top to bottom and underneath.  The spray lands on the tiny bugs and literally suffocates them beyond survival without doing any harm to the Yucca.

With the first round of treatment complete all I could do is wait a few days.  Another good coating of prevention was added to be sure nothing was missed. Like most tiny infectious creatures it doesn't take long for these destructive mites to reproduce, even if only a few are left behind.

Once I was sure I had removed the infestation the daunting task of removing the destroyed foliage began. Armed with gloves, long sleeves and slacks I concentrated on cuttin off the dead leaves starting at the bottom.  It wasn't long before I began to see that my yucca was going to survive just fine.  There was even plenty of new growth sprouting from the ground underneath the destroyed leaves.

It wasn't until I removed my gloves and shirt that I became concerned.  Even through the protective clothing the sharp needlepoint leaves left my arms looking as if I had developed a terrible rash.  It wasn't pretty and yes it became irritating.  The tiny pricks were on my legs and event on the top of my feet.  After some research I learned that with proper care (to avoid infection) my predicament was not as severe as it appeared.  Plenty of anti-itch cream and good cleaning prevented any real harm.  The best part is that my yucca not only survived but grew even larger once it was trimmed back.  Maybe this was just mother natures way of saying my yucca need some serious attention.


Monday, August 4, 2014


In today's economy I knew I needed to find a way to earn extra income. The ads are spread all over the internet and TV. Banners claiming you can earn $15-$75 per hour working from home. After weeks of researching I was able to find some possibilities that work, and several to avoid. When I recently lost my employment making money from home became a necessity.

Not all work at home opportunities are scams. Locating the right fit is a challenge that will take effort. The reasons for home employment are growing. It doesn't matter if you need to spend more time with your children, save traveling expenses or just want to be your own boss. There are many places on the internet that will give you the right direction to find what is best for your needs.

First step is to make a plan. What is it you like to do? What keeps you motivated to work every day? If you need suggestions these two websites have ideas and guidance that will not cost you. My focus is here because these are a "one stop" shop of information.

Work at Home Mom has a website at Positions are updated daily and filtered by location. Careers promoted on this site are not only available to moms. They are available to any qualified applicant. Job search and stay at home articles are also featured. Always be sure to check out any opportunity before you apply for a stay at home job.

Another useful website to visit is Work at Home Careers found at From survey taking, to writing, to administrative assistant; it is your option to be as creative as possible. The promotional articles contributed on Work at Home Careers offer great insight into the job search. You will also have the ability to upload our resume giving employers an opportunity to seek out your qualifications.

Once you have done some research and accepted an opportunity hit the task head on. The sooner you grasp the routine the quicker you will begin to obtain an income. You may choose something in the line of customer service which requires specific hours dedicated to addressing customer concerns. You will work on your own with a boss who will set a quota of output. It can be a relaxed atmosphere in an environment you are comfortable with. However, a higher degree of concentration and discipline will be required. Some employers will pay only by the amount of issues you address so you must be able to focus on the requirements and remain undistracted.

In the world of internet and computers there are an enormous number of professions available to do from home. Regardless of your computer usage occasions are available to earn from home. Accounting, Medical Billing and Virtual Assistants are more in demand to keep up with the growing small business industry. Some beginning opportunities will offer free train programs that outline basic computer skills. There is a demand for employees who have recent experience with on-line bookkeeping programs. Completing and transmitting accounting tasks electronically has become a more economical way for employers to maintain employees.

Be cautious who you deal with when looking for work at home. The most important tool is research. Never respond to an offer that requires you to pay an upfront cost to either job search or become employed. If something sounds too good to be true it's probably not. Working at home can be relaxing, casual, less stress and less expense. However, you must be committed to succeed. You must be positive that you are ready and willing to meet the requirements of working at home. If you are truly enthusiastic and stay on goal you can be surprised and rewarded.


Unemployment in today's world is scary. Jobs are getting harder to come by. Remaining proactive can be difficult when merely getting in the door is a challenge. More often than you'd think it truly is a case of who you know. Being unemployed is not who you are. It is merely a temporary deterrent. So let everyone know you are job hunting. Word of mouth can be the open door you need. You may come across that one person who has the job you are waiting for.

At one time jobs openings were advertised in the newspaper, or a simple sign was placed on the front door of a business. Applications were filled out in person and you got to meet face to face with a person who may be doing the hiring. Today jobs are posted on the internet, and jobs are applied for on the internet. Information is rarely given in job descriptions that would give you an opportunity to speak to anyone about the position you are going to apply for. You will find yourself blindly applying to jobs just hoping someone will call. Occasionally you may see a phone number, an address, or even a company name in the job listing. Use these tools, along with the internet to get an advantage. Do web searches using the company name and you will probably find a phone number. You can do a web search using the phone number which will more than likely lead you to the company name. You can Google the address and make an in person visit. Use any available information you have to get as much insight as possible about the job you are applying for.

Even though the internet can be frustrating, the internet can also be your most productive tool when searching for a job. There are many web sights available with job openings posted. One of the most useful is costs very little for the employer to post on and new jobs are posted throughout the day. It costs nothing for the job seeker to apply to open positions. As with other posting sites on you must be cautious. Read the scam warnings, and never apply to anyone who is asking for personal information over the internet such as social security number or birth date. is a tremendous wealth of information. not only has job listings, it also provides useful information for staying motivated. Listings on are updated several times throughout the day. The site is free to job seekers, however for a price you can upgrade your service and expand your resume distribution. You will find yourself frequently being redirected to a company website when applying for a position. The company website will require you to register and complete the application process along with sending a resume. This is very beneficial considering you are now able to follow up with the company you applied to. was one of the first career websites created, and continues to be one of the most visited. It ranks as the largest job search engine on the internet today. It costs the job seeker nothing to post a resume on, and listings are updated throughout the day. and are very similar in offerings. Click on "view simular jobs" to get a broader search of job listings.

Job openings once advertised in the local newspaper are now posted on the internet. partnered with many metropolitan newspapers to list job openings on Yahoo. These jobs are only updated once a day, and mirror what is listed in the local newspaper. Jobs listed on are generally more informational than those listed on You will be more likely to find the necessary follow-up information needed to inquire about your resume after you send it.

Apply with placement agencies. Don't be hesitant to apply with as many as possible. Placement agencies may require testing before presenting your application to employers. Once you have made an appointment with a placement agency plan on spending some time at there offices. When you have registered with the employment agency keep in contact. Be sure to get a business card with a phone number, and hopefully an e-mail address. Call often to keep them updated on your status and let them know you are still available. Check the agency's website frequently and follow up on any jobs you know you are qualified for.

Many placement agencies also offer temporary services. Ask if you can apply to be a temporary until something permanent is available. Check for other temporary agencies in your area. Many temporary positions become permanent if the employer is confident with your abilities. It's a great way to get in the door and show your skills.

Staying proactive and motivated is not always easy. If the resources available are used there are many opportunities open. Maintain your social networking. The support will help keep your stress level managable. Searching for a job can often be as much work as a job itself. Stay positive and that next job will be around the corner. Who knows, it may even be better than the last one

Friday, August 1, 2014

Have You Seen My Ghost?

When I was a child Halloween was a special day. Mom would always fix up a big pot of chili. Before we put our costumes on and knocked on doors the ritual started with a big bowl of that chili to keep us warm. We ran the surrounding blocks in homemade costumes collecting plastic bags full of goodies. When I became a mother I began my own traditions. It always started with that same bowl of something to keep my girls warm. We would walk around the neighborhood and I would stand back and watch them waddle up the sidewalk with a plastic pumpkin in tow. They were very independent and had to walk that long cement row on their own, as long as mom wasn't far behind in the shadows. Those are not too distant memories. Now I am in phase III of my Halloween observance. I am a grandmother standing on the inside admiring the young trick or treating beginners.

Halloween in our neighborhood is always festive. The coming fall, cooler weather and vibrant colors fill the air. The streets are lined with houses lit black and orange and purple. It is mid September and the ghoulish decorations are already hitting front lawns. I'll admit I caught the spirit early on. I probably go a little overboard every year sprucing up my own lawn. Boxes of skeleton heads and spider webs line the attic. We have our favorite decorations, but one is especially intriguing.

Hanging among the witch and the mummy is a sheer white floating ghost head. You may have seen one. The ghost hangs from a black pipe with thin plastic threads. Batteries are used to pull the ghost head up and down the hanging strings. The batteries are motion and noise activated. When a child rings the doorbell, or knocks on the door, the ghost drops from its black pipe with ghostly sounds. It slowly floats back up to the pipe until it rests. It's a festive piece of art you either learn to laugh at, or dart away from.

Our neighborhood is bordered by two major thoroughfares lined with multifamily housing. Every year on October 31st the residents of these complexes will flow into our neighborhood. They are of all ages, each with their own different costumes. Some have no costumes at all. I buy bags and bags of candy. I hang my decorations weeks before. My ghost is displayed proudly in the entry hall. When the door opens to the festive guests the ghost is activated and floats down. It can be heard before it is seen. Some are awed by the unexpected site. Others are frightened by the startling scare, especially the youngest goblins. I give the visitors an opportunity to view the gimmick up close. I will walk to the end of the sidewalk to hand sweets to any who are too frightened by the ghost to approach on their own.

My porch becomes packed with witches, supermen and Darth Vaders. My husband will stand in the shadows and clap his hands to keep the ghost activated. I was passing out tootsie rolls to a large crowd and noticed a young girl standing at the end of the sidewalk. The little princess looked to be around four years old. She looked dazed and a little frightened. I walked toward her with my candy bowl reassuring her that the ghost would not hurt her. Her mom was standing next to her. Sleeping Beauty was looking past me straight into my house. I don't think she even knew I was walking toward her as her mom smiled at me. She walked right by me into the entry way staring up at the ghost. Her smile reached every corner of my heart as she admired my favorite trimming. Candy was placed in her bag as she turned to leave. She exited as quickly as she entered. My husband and I had a good laugh. Every time I see my favorite Halloween decoration I remember that little Sleeping Beauty so fascinated by the spook she almost forgot her candy. I wish I had my camera!


Fall is always an exciting time of year. The weather becomes cooler. The cast of summer turns into refreshing, vibrant colors. The sweaters and boots are revived from the closet. It is a time of renewal and new beginnings. Gone are the days of sweltering heat and agonizing humidity. Along with refreshing weather is a renewed need for comfort foods. Fall provides a variety of dynamic produce to replenish with.

Not only are the offerings showy, they are some of the most healthful gifts from nature. The rich complexion of fall produce are high in vitamins C and A. Fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium are also found in fall produce. Picking the proper produce is as important as the benefits they offer. Picking a produce that is too ripe, or not ripe enough can deplete the nutritional value.

Farmers Markets are full of vendors exhibiting the season's freshest goods. Samples are offered so you know what you are buying. Although purchasing produce directly from the grower may seem the best choice you must be cautious. Ask if the produce was treated in any manner. Insecticides and fertilizer may enhance the growth cycle, but it won't enrich the beneficial desire.

Supermarkets offer various types of produce. Most are offered by mass producers whose objective is to distribute as much produce as possible for a larger profit. Chemicals are a necessity to insure production is in line with demand. If you pick up this type of product you must be sure to carefully wash it before serving. Organic produce offered in grocery stores is guaranteed to be free of all chemical interaction. Although somewhat more expensive the health benefits will be worth the extra cost. The Federal Government has strict guidelines for distributing produce. Produce must be clearly and accurately labeled before it can be sold. Read labels carefully and ask questions if you are uncertain.

Below are some of the most desirable contributions of fall produce and how to pick the best.

Butternut squash is a pale beige colored squash. When cut open it has a deep orange, edible inside. The butternut squash has a sweet flavor and can be baked, or used in soups. To purchase a good butternut squash pick one with a smooth, solid outer shell. It should sound hollow when you thump it.

Broccoli is an extremely nutritious vegetable. Like a lot of green vegetables Broccoli is high in vitamin C, A and fiber. Broccoli can be served in soups, casseroles or salads. To get the most benefit from Broccoli it is best eaten raw. Pick a broccoli that is bright green, not faded or brownish. The crown should be firm and not droopy.

Cauliflower is very rare in color. It is one of very few white vegetables. It can be used in soups or salads. Cauliflower is best when eaten raw, such as in salads. Not only will cauliflowers offer the benefits of C, A and fiber it has an added benefit of B6. Cauliflower should be pure white and firm. There should be no soft or brown spots visible.

Spinach is a highly beneficial choice. The leaves can be used to make a salad, or blended in soups. Spinach can be cooked and served as a side dish to go with any meal. Spinach is high in vitamin A, K and iron. Spinach leaves should be crisp and bright green. They should be firm to the touch, not droopy.

Sweet Potatoes are a fall favorite. What holiday table wouldn't be complete without sweet potato casserole? Sweet potatoes are high in A, C and magnesium. Sweet potatoes are good baked and served in soups. Sweet potatoes should be solid, and hard. They should be orange in color with no brown or soft spotting.

Zucchini or green squash is versatile. It can be served in soups, casseroles or salads. In addition it may be served fried. Zucchini is full of vitamins C and A. It also contains a high amount of magnesium and fiber. Zucchini squash should be green, firm and of good size. It should be solid with no coloring or softness.

Pumpkin is the most popular of fall produce. They have been a mainstay of Halloween celebrations for decades. Pumpkins line front porches everywhere during the holiday with unique carvings for admirers to enjoy. In addition pumpkin continues to be the most useful of fall produce. Pumpkin can be used in soups, salads, casseroles and even deserts. Pumpkin continues to offer up one of the best Thanksgiving dishes ever. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and even pumpkin soup are favorite fall dishes. Pumpkin is high in A, C and E. Pick a pumpkin that is firm, yet hollow to the sound. The shell should be bright orange and solid with not browning or softening.

If you want to get the best nutritional value out of fall vegetables pick fresh items free of chemicals. Serving unprocessed offers the highest, most nourishing benefit. Take advantage of flavor and uniqueness by searching for flavorful recipes. Using your imagination to create savory creations with fall vegetables can only add to the novelty of the fall breeze.


It seems that I have been on one diet or another most of my life. I've tried many different techniques from the unconventional to the tried and true. My experience maintains that structure and support are two important keys to losing weight. Searching for a quick fix is not an optimal goal. Sure, if you need to drop a few pounds to make that special event a quick fix is convenient. If you are looking to drop a substantial amount of weight and develop a healthy lifestyle change patience and determination go a long way.

Not only are diet supplements unreliable they can be a health risk. Several contain large amounts of caffeine which will cause an increase in metabolism. An increase in metabolism can produce results of increased activity and lower appetite. The risks involved with this appetite suppressant are increased strain on the heart which could lead to possible health problems.

Newer diet supplements have been introduced to block sensors to the brain indicating that the body needs nutrition. There is very little valid evidence to support that these suppressants are beneficial. Supplements that promise to satisfy the appetite by creating a sensation of feeling full may not be reliable either. As with a "total cleanse" system the body is absorbed with fiber (or other similar ingredient) that create a bloated feeling. The system is cleansed, but left with very little nutrition to maintain optimum health.

True diet success is proper nutrition balanced with physical activity. Determination and discipline are a great plus. But, what I have found to be most beneficial is support from family and friends. Diet programs that offer support programs are very successful. Two of the most advertised programs are Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers. There is some very basic difference between the two advocates.

Jenny Craig offers a weekly one-on- one secession with a diet counselor. The support representative is generally someone who has completed the Jenny Craig program with some success. You are receiving assistance from an associate who knows the challenges losing weight can bring. Jenny Craig offers a complete line of food developed for optimal success. You are asked to purchase these products in order to succeed. They are tasty, but are somewhat costly. In addition membership dues are required. These may vary depending on location. Jenny Craig is a very successful program.

Weight Watchers offers on-line support, in addition to group meetings. On-line support offers tempting recipes, shopping tips, eating out tips and most important point tracking. The on-line program is based on a monthly membership fee. It also allows you access to weekly meetings where additional support is added. Suggestions on creating meals, and dealing with difficult challenges are offered. Although Weight Watchers offers a large selection of frozen entrées, snack items and desserts you are not required to purchase these products. What they do offer is a lifestyle change. A goal that will teach healthful cooking, respectful snacking and proper activity levels.

No matter how you choose to diet your success is your goal. Research thoroughly the options and pick the one that best fits your needs, your goals, and your lifestyle. Most importantly, good luck.



Using Internet Coupons

It used to be that thrifty spenders had to wait until Sunday to find out how to stretch the grocery budget. Coupons were available only when the Sunday morning paper hit the front porch. If you buy the newspaper just for the coupons it's time to give the comics a try. In 1994 the internet was launched to the public, changing the way the world does business. In the 16 years since, it is estimated that 25% of the world accesses the internet on a daily basis. One big business is the use of "internet coupons". Internet coupons are instantly available, and easy to obtain. If you choose to use internet coupons you need to be aware of a few rules.

1) Check with your favorite grocer to make sure they accept internet coupons.

2) Fully research your source.

3) Although coupons are a great way to save money only print what you will use.

4) Don't be tempted to spend money on something you don't need because there is a coupon available.

5) Make a list before you grocery shop and search the internet for coupons. Chances are you may find one.

6) Shop the ads and match up your coupons to enjoy even bigger savings.

7) Check your coupons frequently and remove expired ones

Like most things you should be somewhat cautious when searching for internet coupons. Fake "free" coupons are routinely distributed leaving both retailers and distributors somewhat leery. Counterfeit coupons are on the rise and they cost consumers a bundle each year. It's comparative to shoplifting from a store. Only you aren't being a willing bandit. Several medium and smaller grocery chains have had to refuse to accept internet coupons to avoid the risk of lost revenue. Another optional approach is to accept internet coupons, but refuse any coupon that is not accepted by the registers scanner.

So how do you know if you have a valid coupon without being embarrassed at the register? Compare the scan bar on the coupon to the scan bar on the product. They must match in order for the register to recognize the coupon. Often using this process won't be accurate. Counterfeiters are becoming clever enough to get around scan bars. One positive way to be sure your coupon is not counterfeit, always print coupons directly from the products official website. In addition there are several reputable websites on the internet that offer hundreds of coupons. These sites only accept coupons from authorized distributors., and are full of savings. In addition to grocery coupons you can find retail coupons, dining savings, and even magazine subscription discounts. Check these websites frequently for newly added coupon savings.

Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, Betty Crocker and many others will allow you to sign up on there website and become a member. Once you do this you can opt to receive e-mail savings, and occasionally an offer for a free item. Coupons can also be found on Search a product you enjoy and like it on Once you like it check to see if there is a button for offers. If there isn't one keep checking back. There could be one very soon. and also have exclusive savings coupons. Be sure to check Wal-Mart's savings site to see what free samples they are offering. You can find free samples of shampoo, toothpaste and many health and beauty products. Not only are they free, they are easy to sign up for.

Several communities have popped up on the internet that will show you the best way to save. They will point you to a printable coupon and tell you were to save the most money using the coupon. They are dedicated people whose only goal is to save money on everything from electronics to a box of Cheerios. They have a community blog where your questions can be answered. Check your town's news sources. They may have information on where to find a local website to visit.

Finding a way to save money is always beneficial. Knowing the right place to look and where to save will keep you on top. Remain diligent and cautions you will see a sizeable savings on your grocery bill

Dog's and Garden's Don't Mix

Two things I enjoy very much are my dogs and my garden. I have a small Shiatsu and a mid size Australian Husky. Sometimes, I think the dogs enjoy the garden more than I do. Add a little fuel to the fire and they really get out of hand when my neighbor lets her dog out to play. You can't really blame the dogs though. I willingly started my little vegetable garden along the fence line that connects the two properties. So, here come the dogs and there goes the garden.

Dogs are naturally drawn to plants. They are more cool and comfortable to lie on than the cement porch. Digging in the dirt is an instinctual necessity. Once a comfortable niche in the garden is created by your dog it will be nearly impossible to teach him to "stay out". I've researched and tried several options to save my sanity and my vegetables.

The best, most realistic option is to build a fence around the garden. This won't be as cumbersome as it sounds. Supplies can be found for a reasonable price at most hardware or home improvement stores. You will need to purchase several feet of fencing wire that will be high enough to keep the dog from jumping over it. Wooden posts will be needed to attach the wire, and post nails to secure the wire to the posts. Choose natural, untreated posts to avoid possible chemical reaction with the vegetables. Place the posts in all four corners of the garden. If needed you can place additional posts evenly spaced between the corner posts. Posts should be buried at least two to three feet into the ground. The fencing wire should be buried no less than one foot into the ground. Wrap fencing wire around posts and secure with post nails.

There are certain natural remedies that can be placed in or around the garden. Dogs are repelled by the odor and tend to back away. Some suggested items are ammonia, moth balls, black pepper, red pepper and even vinegar. These are initially inexpensive options. Keep in mind though that every time it pours rain you are more than likely going to need to redistribute the chemicals. It could become costly at some point.

Another option is to place chicken wire directly on the bottom of the garden. The feel of the wire on the little puppy paws is reported to be uncomfortable for the dog. I tried this option myself and had no success. My dogs didn't seem to be detoured by the wire at all. In addition, I had a very hard time removing dead plants from the garden in the fall. They were all tangled up in wire.

Lawn and Garden stores carry chemical items that can be placed around gardens. They generally come in granular form and must be replaced every three months. Moth balls can also be used in this format. I don't recommend this option. Any chemical interaction with a vegetable garden can be an unnecessary risk.

The final option is either an electric, or an ultrasonic repellant. The electric option works by emitting an electronic shock to your dog once he crosses a specified boundary. Boundaries are set by wires buried beneath the ground, and a dog collar. When the two items come within a few feet of each other a shock is released. The ultrasound option releases a sound burst which can not be heard by the human ear. The remote like device can be used within 15 feet of the animal. Both of these options can be a little costly, and are advertised to be safe for your pet. Many people find them to be offensive and too inhumane to use on their beloved family member.

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby. It can also be a lot of work and time consuming. Getting rid of my dogs will never be an option. I will always do whatever I can to make sure my dogs and my garden coincide in harmony. Otherwise, the dog beats out the garden every time

Off to College

It's that time of year again. Millions of parents are scrambling to rush their teenagers off to College. It can be one of the most emotional times of life. It's like a bad vacation and great birthday all rolled into one. Here is this life that still seems so young walking away from you into the unknown. Thoughts of baby bottles, pacifiers and dirty dippers wrestle with the pride and anxiety. Not only for the child you nurtured and watch grow to this point. There is the matter of your own uncertainty. What are we to do now that we don't have this daily purpose any longer? No mandatory meals to prepare, no more excessive laundry to fuss over. Take my word for it. The purpose is still there, it just shifts to a whole new direction.

I'll never forget the moment as long as I live. I knew my daughters ambition and her dreams. I secretly
wished they would disseminate somewhere over the vast blue. My husband and I encouraged her to pick somewhere close to home. She was our pride and joy. She is smart, ambitious, talented and beautiful. I wasn't ready to let her go. Then the expected notice came in the mail the week before Halloween. That dreaded piece of paper I had feared. We were all three sitting at the dinner table when the announcement was made. Our little angel had been accepted into the college of her dreams some 800 miles away. I am proud of her so I held back the tears, for now. I remember sitting in the kitchen floor crying my eyes out a month later. We were decorating the house for the holiday. That is where my husband found me and ask what the matter was. All I could blubber was "she won't be here to help me put up decorations next year". He hugged me tightly and assured me he would still be there.

After that we were off to the races. The circus had begun and would end all too soon. The deposit was down on her dorm room, she had picked out her classes and an unbelievable amount of supplies were purchased. Not just the paper and pens, but bed sheets, a vacuum and dorm furniture I never new existed. A list was supplied to us of things that could not be brought along. No open burner items were allowed which meant she couldn't take a coffee pot; she couldn't even take her George Forman grill (a graduation gift). She had to have a months worth of groceries (thank god she likes ramen) that are easy to cook in her microwave, and cleaning supplies. The laundry container and bed linens had to match, which had to match the storage containers that slid under her bed.

When an invitation to "Parents Day" showed up my heart almost stopped beating. The months of trying to convince myself this wasn't going to happen came crashing down on me. Still, I was grateful. We'd get to meet her teachers, see her room and cruise all the haunts that she would call home for the next four years. The car was packed with barely enough room left for my daughter to sit in the back. She squeezed herself in and never complained once. I think she knew better. The drive was quiet and somber. When we reached our destination my first impression was how beautiful the area is. There are green rolling hills, beautiful tress and quaint houses. After checking in to the dorm we unloaded all of the supplies. There were schedules of activities handed out for the parents and a separate one for students. I didn't want the weekend to ever end. We strode from activity to activity frequently meeting up with my daughter who joined us. Back at the dorm room after the first day of activities my daughters' newfound independence surfaced with a determination. I tried not to look hurt when she refused my help setting up her dew digs. It was her room and she would decorate it the way she wanted. I had to accept her insistence with resolve. After all, it surely didn't mean she would never need me again.

The weekend ended with a festive celebratory dinner for parents, students and staff. I can't even recall what was served. I was roaming around in am emotionally distraught daze. The next morning I would leave my precious child behind and travel home to sit in her empty bedroom praying that God is watching over her every minute just as I would if she would walk into the kitchen and flash one of those twinkling smiles that always melted my heart.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gardening is not Perfect

I love to garden.  For so many reasons I’m not sure I can remember them all.  Being in my garden gives me a sense of accomplishment and reward.  It’s not an easy task, and at times can turn very disappointing.  Most gardeners would love to tell you they have the perfect garden.  Many will be honest enough to tell you they don’t.

I gladly share pictures of my garden.  Why not?  I put a lot of work into it.  I visit it every morning and every evening.  I check for subtle changes, new growth and possible flowering buds for a promise of vegetation soon.  I’m proud of my work.  I’m pleased that I can feast from my harvest and enjoy the rewards.  What I don’t share are the flaws.  Yes, I will admit it, they are there.  I’m not ashamed of them.  They come with the territory. The yellowing leaf that can’t survive the environment, or has perhaps been over watered.  The potato leaf that has a few bug nips on it.  The pepper that I transplanted into the garden and didn’t quite handle the shock.

No, gardening is not perfect.  There are so many elements to battle.  They can become overwhelming if they are not dealt with on a daily basis.  The bugs, the weeds, the environment and animals.  There are sensible, safe, and friendly ways to protect your crops and handle these challenges.  Time and experience are the only safeguards you can count on when it comes to doing the right things.  Listen to Mother Nature and let her do the talking.

That yellow leaf is not a disaster.  It is however a warning sign.  A calling card you might say.  Mother Nature’s way of saying “hey I need some help here”.  You may not always have the answer right off.  You may need to try a few different approaches.  A little less water? A little more shade?  If one technique doesn’t fix the problem don’t give up.  It’s your best tool.  The three “P’s” of gardening.  Persistence, patience and practice.

No, gardening is not perfect always.  But ya know what is?  Watching a young seedling mature into a full grown productive crop.  Seeing the first buds of peas sprout from the vine. Digging a basket of new potatoes and picking the first cucumber.  A green bean and squash casserole fresh from the garden.  Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts steamed on the grill right beside the Chicken Breast.  To me that is about as perfect as it gets.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


When you think of the Orchid you probably associate it with beauty, elegance and class.    You may even find yourself shying away from one of the oldest, yet most fragile plants around today.  It’s really not that hard to maintain an orchid.  However you do need to have a lot of patience and determination.

Orchids originated many many more years ago than I could possibly count.  They began a rise to popularity in the 18th century.  They became so popular they faced endangerment.  Mother Nature was extremely clever with this jewel though.  This flowers various means of pollination have help the Orchid stay afloat, and improve for centuries.   With a spectrum of tones and fragrances insects find them as hard to resist as birds do. The variety of colors and hybrids have steadily increased over the years.
The first thing, and the most important thing, you want to do to insure your orchid’s success is read the specifications that come with your personal choice.  Does your environment meet the requirements your orchid desires?  Different species of Orchids require specific temperatures, lighting and moisture.  They have been known to survive anything from mild, moderate, or hot and humid conditions.  They do not however handle cold temperatures at all.  So it’s easy to see why they survive in every corner of the continent excluding the Antarctic region.

Once your orchid is welcomed to its new home immediately remove any decorative covering from the pot.  These often aluminum wraps will interfere with proper drainage.   Too much moisture will turn an Orchid to mulch quickly.  It might be necessary to find a more suitable planter.  It is important to remember that an orchid does like a snug fit, so avoid one that is to large.  This allows the orchid to use available resources to produce the magnificent flowers and not expanding the root system. 

Find a good Orchid Bark to re pot the stem into.  Orchid Bark, in basic terms, is a mixture of potting soil and fir mulch.  The soul to mulch ratio will vary.  The higher percentage of fir mulch the more moisture the soil holds.  If an Orchid requires higher doses of moisture pick a higher ratio of fir bark.  Provide a good liquid fertilizer that is sufficient in nitrogen.  There are several options available tailored specifically for the Orchid.  Follow the fertilizer directions every four to six weeks, but do not over feed or you risk permanent damage to the roots.

So remember to check an orchid’s environment requirements for moisture, temperature and lighting before taking one in to care for.  If you do you could find yourself with a most glamorous plant that will provide beautiful flowers and has been known to live indefinitely.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fighting the Winter Blues

Every fall when I know the ground is getting too cold to hold my favorite crops I get the blues.  Yes, the commitment to my garden can be a chore at times.  Somehow that is vastly overshadowed by the thrill of watching my tomatoes ripen, or creating that tasty dish right from my own back yard.   A few years back I knew I had to find a way to overcome those blues.  I needed to come up with a way to fulfill my joy of growing and cooking my own crops all year round.  It wasn’t that hard to come up with a plan either. 

One way to get started is to plant seeds in the soil that are very tolerant to the cold temperatures.  Lettuce, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are just a few that no only survive the chill, but also come packed with nutrition.  Spinach, Kale and Collard Greens are also very hardy.  You can see a pretty consistent theme.  Late fall and winter crops tend to be high in iron, calcium and potassium.  Keep these crops happy and you’re sure to get the recommended daily requirement.  Bite for bite they are the best savings account you can build for your health.

Another way, and by far one of my favorite, is to move the gardening inside.  Container gardens come in maybe shapes and sizes.  They also come in assorted prices.  My best option for a container garden is to purchase strong and sturdy storage containers (usually when they are on sale after the holidays) and place them in a sun filled room.  It is also very easy to make your own hanging container of jugs or bottles.  These are best for herbs and such and smaller plants.  To see how I made my own inverted container see Success With The Inverted Container.

The container garden has several advantages.  I have two container peppers, one green pepper and one jalapeno pepper, growing in my breakfast nook bay window.  My husband dug them up in the fall and put them in plastic buckets, so I moved them inside.  It’s nice to watch them grow in the sunlight bathed window.  I walk from my kitchen just a few steps to my bay window and pick a pepper when I need one to prepare a meal with.

When gardening in winter there are options.  Indoors vs outdoors?  Indoor you have the comfort of picking crops while avoiding the frigid cold.  Outdoors you have the pleasure of enjoying the sun and air.  And yes it is true that crops harvested outdoors will produce more vegetables.  But, why choose?  You can always take advantage of both.