Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two casualties from our recent vacation. Either they didn't get sprayed with the sprinklers, or they were just fried in the sun. I'm still gonna try to save 'em though. I cut the maple way back to where I found green. I'll use the dried leaves in the garden to enrich the soil. I just snipped the top of the avocado and stripped some of the bottom leaves. I grew it from seed, so I have a vested interest in saving it. Just in case, I've got another pit started in water. After all, you can never have enough avocados!

Not everything looked as pitiful as those two
trees. I cleaned up the smiling trellis by the
back rain barrel and butterfly garden. My
neighbor was concerned that it was blocking
the view from the inside. I've enjoyed watching
tree frogs from my boy's bedroom window.

The zinnias are still prolific. I trimmed up
some thyryallis to add to this speckled pitcher.

It's such a wonderful feeling growing your own
flowers to make arrangements with. A feast
for the eyes and comfort for the spirit.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Befores and afters

This is the same area about 2 months apart. Before we put in the beds, it was all grass (well, mostly weeds). I have transplanted things from the front yard or started from seed. I love the new curves, and the pine straw to me just screams "Florida". Being on a strict budget, I am filling in as I can.
 I'm making good use of the "free" seeds I got from the America the Beautiful project. I get a little thrill looking through the box where I've sorted the seeds according to planting season. Fall will soon be here, so I can prepare my beds now to get the best performance from the new additions. Seeds are such amazing creatures.

 This is a volunteer lantana that I transplanted from the front yard. Unfortunately, it wasn't lookin' too good for a while. I checked on it today, and wouldn't you know it? 
It's comin' back big time! Gotta love lantana. 
Freezes, drought, heat, it takes it all and keeps on growin'!

Here's a golden beauty, one of the few seedlings I actually bought at the store to plant.
Here's the pathway we put in that leads to the backyard. 
We used a recycled landscape fabric we bought at the store, thinking it would make the maintenance of the path pretty easy. 
Oh, how wrong we were! The cardboard lasagne method works so much better! Needless to say, this weekend I'll be pulling all the mulch up, putting down cardboard, covering it back up with mulch and adding the cement stones I got from a nice lady on Craig's list a couple of weeks ago. It's nice to have the walkway though. 
Gives the garden added movement and interest.

So far, I'm pretty happy with what we've done this year. 
I do my best to work around the fact that we have almost no shade in our yard. And the privacy issue is another matter. 
Ah well, no room in the budget for a fence! We make do with what God gives us and we are thankful. 
No doubt!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mmmmmmmmmm, fresh bread!


Is there anything in this world better than the smell of bread baking in your home? I was blessed to receive a one-on-one tutorial from a friend who is an esteemed chef. It was one of the highlights of my recent vacation. 
This bread is foolproof. How do I know? Because I've made it several times now, and it's always tasted delicious! The chef even helped me adapt it to a gluten-free version for my carb-lovin' boy. (Gee, wonder where he gets that?) There will no doubt be many explorations of flavors to the original recipe, but for now, I get to enjoy making homemade bread every Sunday morning. It takes me back to my childhood, as my mom always baked bread for us when she had the time.
Can't think of a nicer way to start the week!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Potatoes and pumpkins

I spent the morning continuing our "after vacation" clean up. I decided to dig up the sweet potatoes I had growing in a bucket. We will enjoy those for supper this weekend. I was able to find a few slips that I can use for new plants and for sharing.

The pumpkin patch is fairing well with the onset of the rains of late. The blossoms are the most warm and luscious color of amber. Seeing the vines wind their way around the garden gives it some movement and interest. Referring to Tom MacCubbin's The Edible Landscape, I see that I need to be feeding these about every 3 to 4 weeks. I have to admit, I'm really lax with my fertilizing, I need to develop a better system.
It will be wonderful to see my lil' guy out there this October, picking his own home-grown pumpkin. Fall is fast approaching!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sunny Faces

Don't sunflowers just make you

They look so happy with their bright, bold colors and plump, seed-packed centers.
The bees love 'em as much as I do.

This year I've grown varieties other than just the mammoth type I usually have going.

Summer just wouldn't be the same without 'em!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics by Kenneth Bock, MD

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics

Dr. Bock has made the connection between the 4 A's-Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. The book explains how biochemically, these disorders are related, and includes personal stories of his patients (some of whom have recovered from their conditions), and their methods of treatment. The Healing Program of the book outlines the four-pronged approach to treating these disorders including nutritional therapy, supplementation, detoxification and (optionally) medication.

Our sweet boy has three of the four A's and over the years I have tried to convince many a doctor that they are related to no avail. Dr. Bock is one doctor who really gets it. This book has motivated me to ramp up our biomed intervention so that I can help my sweet boy to fully recover. This book tells us that it is possible to reverse all of these conditions in a (mostly) natural and methodical way. I only wish Dr. Bock's office wasn't so far away from us!
If you need to be inspired, motivated and uplifted, please consider picking this book up. It may give you the lift you need.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good To Be Home

As much as I love getting away, there's something appealing about coming back home to things familiar. This weekend we (mostly) stayed home. After a quick check on the garden (and finding it overgrown), I hunkered down for the weekend. The weather cooperated beautifully, with thunderstorms both days. Sunday was my idea of just about perfect. Gardening in the morning, listening to the rain while doing the Sunday crossword puzzle in my favorite chair, which ultimately led to a nap in that same location.
The day leant itself to so many wonderful things. Homemade bread from the oven filled the house with a most mouth-watering aroma. Later in the day, I picked up some stepping stones from a seller on Craig's list. Looking forward to adding those this week to our path.
Simple pleasures...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"I Miss Mayberry..."

Another place we visited on our trip was Mt. Airy, North Carolina. 

We've been wanting to see this place as we are big fans of The Andy Griffith Show. 
We saw Andy's childhood home, squad cars like the ones used in the show and Wally's filling station. 

The Blue Bird Diner is still there, although I'm sure Juanita has long since retired. 
The folks who live and work there seem happy to see visitors. Thelma Lou was even signing autographs at the Andy Griffith museum the day we were there! 

One of the reasons why that show appeals to me so much is that times seemed to be simpler. The milkman delivered your order and put your glass bottles of milk on the back porch, kids walked to school and played outside most of the day and neighbors knew each other like family. 

I love the Rascal Flatts song:
"I miss Mayberry, sittin' on the porch drinkin' ice cold cherry Coke,
Where everything was black and white.
Pickin' on a six-string
Where people pass by and you call 'em by their first name.
Watchin' the clouds roll by,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Best Birthday Ever!

We spent the day at Crowders Mountain State Park 
near Gastonia, North Carolina. 
What a wonderful way to spend my 50th birthday!

It was overcast and we met only a few other 
hikers on the trails. 
It's so soothing to hear wild birds in their native habitat 
enjoying the beauty that God has created.

We climbed one of the more strenuous (according to our guide) trails, which was less than 2 miles long. 
I could've walked all day, but alas, 
my lil' guy has a harder time with physical demands.

The lush greenery all around us was outstanding. 
I can imagine it would take years to discover just how many plant species lie in wait. An array of hues and textures 
were displayed over varying terrain. 
It took us about an hour to make it to trail's end.

We ended our visit with a picnic lunch by the lakefront.
It was as if we had the whole park to ourselves.
I can't think of a better way 
to begin this next segment of my life. 
Being in nature feels so right, so centering. 
The bounty of God's gifts are all around us,
 if we just take the time to appreciate them.

We are enjoying getting familiar
with the state parks of North Carolina.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Appreciating each step


It's good to see green again. We're here in North Carolina where it actually rains on a regular basis. The plant life responds in an abundance of color and freshness. Every morning I take my morning walk through pathways of varying hues and textures. Last night I spotted lightning bugs, a thrill-seeking adventure I experienced as a kid. I even came upon a small turtle, making its way down a walkway. 

As far as planned communities go, they are not my cup of tea, but this development has taken extra measures to ensure its residents have lots of sprawling space. Walking trails wind for miles with plenty of wildlife and foliage to make the journey not only interesting, but educational. I'm getting ideas to take back home with me about companion plants and attracting more of nature to my home garden. It's inspiring, to say the least. 

Today we're heading north to celebrate my 50th year. We will be going to Crowder's State Park near Gastonia. I need to be around trees, real trees. I'm not a palm tree kinda gal. I like the tall oaks and maples, the evergreens that seem to swallow you up with their very presence. Yes, it feels right to be here in North Carolina as the next 50 years comes up to greet me. I'm living a blessed life...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Living the Country Life

Love, love, love this show, website and magazine. Unfortunately, our cable provider recently removed it from our package. I'm grateful to be able to get the newsletter delivered to my email account and the magazine is free! If you like rural, you'll love it too!
Check it out!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just Checking on Things

I found this lil' critter on a pile of pine straw this morning. It looked like a leaf until it jumped away! I love seeing beneficials in the garden. Makes me feel like I'm on the right track. Most of my all-too-close neighbors do not subscribe to an organic mindset and use the "immediate gratification" method of ecobalance. It's a difficult but uncontrollable dilimma I face every day in the garden. It's worth it in the end, for all concerned.

I wanted to do one more check on the pumpkins before
we leave on vacation. They seem to be thriving in one of the
few semi-shady spots we have in our yard. I will feed them
when we get back. I hope it rains while we are gone,
as plant life here is noticebly healthier, lusher and
more productive with Mother Nature's nudging.

I realized this week that many of our sunflowers may bloom while we are away. The caterpillars may decide to transform too during this time. But then I remembered that the garden and all its wonder is not here just for me, but for others to enjoy as well. I guess it's easy to become selfish when you're the one doing all the weeding and watering! I look forward to noting the progression of the garden upon our return. An added bonus is that it will be that much closer to fall planting and cooler temperatures! So many seeds, so little time...