Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Upcoming Gardening Workshops

Here are some upcoming workshops for Florida gardeners
in the Lakeland/Bartow area:

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™

Design 101 and Plant Sale
Thursday, Sept. 8, from 10:00 a.m.—noon
Circle B Bar Reserve
4399 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland
Plants will be for sale at this workshop!
Please preregister at:


Friday, October 14, from noon—1:00 p.m.
Lakeland Electric Admin Building
501 E. Lemon St., Lakeland
Park in parking garage Level 1A, 1B or Magnolia Building. Attendees must have a photo I.D.
Lunch is included. Preregistration is required.
Please preregister at

Rain Barrel Workshops

Thursday, September 29, 10:00 a.m.— noon
Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk’s Nature Discovery Center
4399 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland
Rain barrels will be available for $60. If you would like to purchase a rain barrel, please preregister at:

Saturday, October 29, 9:30 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.
UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service
1702 US HWY 17 South, Bartow
You MUST preregister if you would like a rain barrel.
Please preregister at:

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Got Mulch?

This past weekend seemed like a good time to replenish
the pine straw mulch in the back bed.
Man, I love this stuff!

These bales are available at Doty's here in Winter Haven.
It's an old-fashioned family-run feed store.
They don't even have a website.
Just my speed.

Here's our little gnome at home in the garden.
Thing is, he doesn't like to be so conspicuous.

Ah, that's better.
Now he can people watch in peace.

The previous load of mulch was over a year old,
so it was time for a fresh application.

Besides being a weed deterrent,
this mulch feeds the soil as it breaks down.
It looks just down-right natural.

Don't all the plants look absolutely snug as a bug?

Tucked in for the evening,
they will absorb the coming rainwater even better.

Mulch-it's a good thing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Court Rules in Favor of Organic Farmers

Need a Sweet Treat?

It's a proven fact that chicks need their chocolate.
Okay, maybe it's not been proven,
but this chick craves chocolate daily.
I was looking to make something scrumptious,
but our eggs had expired.
I found this eggless recipe.

Gotta love the internet.
When that craving hits,
it's all about satisfaction...

Eggless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 C sucanat (or sugar)
2 T brown sugar (optional)
1/4 C cocoa
3/4 C butter
1/2 t vanilla
1/3 C peanut butter
1/2 C milk (I used Silk vanilla)

Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add softened butter, vanilla, peanut butter
and milk to dry ingredients.  Stir just to mix.
Place by teaspoonfuls on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake 11-13 minutes.
Let cool on sheet for 2 minutes,
then transfer to wire rack.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The kids who attend public school in our area returned back this week to the brick and mortar building
that houses them for most of their waking hours. 

Once again, I am reminded of just how blessed we are
not to have to succumb to the rigors of education
in a sterile setting.  We don't "officially" start school
for another two weeks,
but it doesn't really matter what the calendar says. 
Learning takes place in our lives everyday
This is a journey I couldn't have imagined,
now I can't fathom living any other way.

The Love to Learn Conference this year was
inspiring as usual.  Sister and I worked again this year at the registration table.  What a great chance for me to practice my (sometimes lacking) people skills.  Everyone who attends is so energetic, so accepting and so willing to learn and share
what they know.  The diversity of speakers truly
illustrated the endless possibilities that homeschooling offers.

Two of my favorite speakers were Cindy Gaddis and Anna Brown.  These two moms approach unschooling in different ways.  Cindy has been instrumental in helping me
make the shift from "school at home" to natural learning. 
Her knowledge about right-brained learners was eye-opening
and challenged me to understand my son in a way
that I never have before.  What a gift.

Anna shared her experience with unschooling her girls from the start.  One of her daughters sounded so much like my lil' guy with regard to the total saturation of learning about a particular subject.  It's wonderful that we can engage
a topic of interest so fully until we know everything we want to know about it.  Researchers in the making.
Hearing both of them discuss their unique approaches
helped solidify in my mind that we are doing exactly what works and what will benefit our family.

Thinking back on my own academic career, I can't help
but wonder how I would be different if I had been
homeschooled or encouraged to learn in my own way.
It's something I'll never have an answer to,
but it's a curious consideration.
Having gone back to complete my undergraduate degree
in my mid 20's and starting graduate school at 35,
I would say that a love for learning is inherent.
Even 12 years of public school education
did not thwart that inside of me. 

There is so much to learn, so many ways
to grow knowledge and I am very grateful that
I can be instrumental in helping my lil' guy
achieve his full potential. 
It's an amazing sight to behold.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blessings be...

Praying tonight for anyone
who is affected by Hurricane Irene. 
No matter what, you'll be okay. 
Trust me, I've been there...
Stay safe.

Friday Fotos

The frogs are abundant and make themselves
at home on the rain barrels.

Hmmm, I see salsa in our future!

Morning glories are a welcome and cooling sight
in the garden. 

The zinnias are still growing strong...

and growing...

This native salvia really took off this summer.

I love that we have so many more pollinators this year.

Summer's not over until the last sunflower drops!

Have a fabulous weekend, y'all!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pantry, Organized

We're blessed with lots of cabinets in this kitchen.
A small pantry also helps to keep our menu staples
easily accessible.

It could use some tweaking...

We tend to buy some of Lil' Guy's gluten-free products
in bulk, so they end up on the topmost shelf.

Canned staples and condiments are on the next shelf down.
I stock up on these items when our grocery store
has them "Buy One, Get One" free.

The lower shelf contains baking ingredients
as well as some gluten-free items.

We keep pasta, coffee, soup and crackers
and canned tomatoes on the lowest shelf.

I got this beautiful jar from our co-op.
Big enough to hold all that lovely bread flour!

We are making the transition from plastic to glass.

One designated area for gluten-free items
assures that no contamination occurs.

This is one of the greatest space savers on the planet.
It has tons of storage and takes up the unused space
on the inside of the pantry door.

Anyone else in love with jars?
They are the best for freshness,
and they look clean and simple.

It just took a little bit of rearranging
to make this pantry work even better.
I'm still on the hunt for the perfect storage rack
or basket for the floor.
I try to use every available inch provided.

Some day, my pantry will be filled with treasures
from my first canning foray!

IHeart Organizing

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weedless Wednesday

Getting started on the big weeding project
early this morning...

One bed down, seven more to go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welcome to Weedville

Before we left for vacation, I took some photos of the garden.
Just curious to see the changes over a two-week period.

Our neighbor told us it rained a lot while we were gone.
I guess so...

Our little gnome is completely hidden here.

The rattlebox form a privacy wall in the back corner.

The butterfly garden needs a complete overhaul!

This sweet potato vine has almost covered the bamboo trellis.

The one on the side of the house has all but taken over!

Still getting strawberries into late August...

The sunflowers are fading into memories now.
This was the tallest so far,
at least 10 feet tall.
Our neighbor reported to us that she counted
at least 15 blooms at the very top
at one time.

Just before we left,
amendments were added to the veggie garden.

Tomato and eggplant seeds were started,
but not much came up while we were gone.

Guess I'll be reseeding this weekend.

This beauty really likes this spot.

Guess a little rain will go a long way!

I'll be weeding every chance I get this week
and adding some pine straw mulch to the backyard beds.
Hope you enjoyed your tour around Weedville!