Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rain, Warmth, and Growth!

This is a beautiful Martha Washington geranium. When I saw this plant, I fell in love with the burgundy and white stripes. It will bloom all summer long!

The first rose bud is beginning to open. I should have roses by the end of day tomorrow! This particular rose is a 'bubble gum' rose. It's been one of the best roses, with multiple blooms each year. Last year, it bloomed 5 times in the season!

One of the Columbine in full bloom. The wind from last night and today have rattled some of the blooms, but it's still beautiful.

The hosta have reached almost full size for this year. This is one of my favorites in the garden with two interesting shades of green.

The ferns have tripled in size since the last picture of them in mid May. Some of these ferns now stand almost waist high! They are so beautiful!
Now that June is upon us, the best is yet to come in the gardens. Within another month or so, I'll be able to cut fresh flowers for inside the house. Come, cut a bouquet for yourself.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The History of Scrumptiousness

A sweet thing to do this summer is visit "Chocolate - the Exhibition" at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. The exhibition runs May 31 - September 7.

The exhibition explores the history of chocolate with video, interactive displays, and more than 200 artifacts. It's a story that reaches from the Mexican rainforests to the palaces of Europe and beyond. As chocolate arrived into America, entrepreneurs turned an extravagance of the elite to an affordable pleasure for the masses; sumptuous, decadent, and creamy.

Spend a day at the Henry Ford. It's American history at it's best and then some.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New in the Garden

I've made a few new additions to the garden this year. Here's a sneak peek:

A beautiful delicate daisy like plant, the Argyranthemum Frutescens-Butterfly is a wonderful potted plant. An annual, this plant grows from 18-36", requires full sun to partial shade and will bloom all season long.
Lychnis X Haagaena Molten Lava has large clusters of five petaled vibrant red flowers on dark green foliage. This clump forming perennial grows in full sun and will reach up to 18" tall.

Saliva Guaranitica, "Black and Blue Sage" a shrub like perennial that bears rich blue and dark purple blue flowers from late summer to late autumn. This is a big attraction for hummingbirds and provides excellent cut flowers. It's not a picky plant, preferring average soil and no fussy care.
I was astounded to learn that this plant is actually an herb. Tanacetum Vulgare commonly known as Tansy has pungent fern like leaves and is primarily used in fresh and dried arrangements. Tansy has been known to repel insects. This plant will grow 36-48 inches! The bright yellow flowers are beautiful dots of color against the fern leaves.

Oenothera 'Sunset Boulevard' blooms all summer long while in full sun. With a preference for well drained soil, the Oenothera grows to 24" with striking orange flowers on erect stems. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Morning

It's no secret that I'm a morning person. I love watching the sun rise and the quiet of the early morn. Despite the fact that it was a bit chilly this morning (mid 40s), I had my coffee on the patio with soothing music in the background. (I love having an outdoor sound system!)

Across the field, the neighbors roosters began their morning ritual of calling out the new day. While 'city folk' might find a cock crow to be annoying (especially if you like to sleep in!) I love hearing them as they perform their duty as natures alarm clock. At dawns first light you can hear them warming up for their daily performance.

The rising sun creates beautiful shadows across our side yard. As I turn to the east, the trees are almost golden as the morning light saturates the green of the new leaves. My camera didn't quite capture its true beauty.

As I sat enjoying my coffee, Mr. Rabbit (as I've named him..) came for his morning treat of fallen seed from the bird feeder above him. I often see him grazing through the seed to find the tasty morsels he enjoys. The sun highlighted him just in time for me to snap a quick picture of his feeding. I love seeing the wildlife in the yard. While they (rabbits, deer, squirrels) can be destructive, there's just something very cool about having a rabbit hop along next to you as you walk through the yard. We have four rabbits (there will be more, I'm sure!) that have made our yard their home. They are used to us and seem confident that they are in no danger. It's not uncommon to have them follow along as I go from one spot to another in the yard. I do have to have a serious discussion with them about eating my marigold border! I thought animals didn't like marigolds!

Early morning moments on the patio, or walking around to check the various gardens, gives me a moment to stop, think, and appreciate our little slice of the world. This is living.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!

I wanted to share with you the surprise birthday cake that David had made for me. I'd say this "themed" cake was quite appropriate!

It just 'screams' me, no? Well.. actually it is screaming Martha.. My friend Elaine in California also made me a cake! She nailed it on the head with another "theme" that speaks to one of my passions.

A wonderful dirt cake! The photograph was so well styled too! Notice the hint of fabulous blue ribbon on the right? Thank you Elaine for your creativity and your thoughtful gesture!

If two cakes weren't enough, my pal Mike decided that cookies (my favorite chocolate chip recipe no less) were in order. These are fantastic! If you've not tried Alexis' chocolate chip cookies (you can find the recipe in the cookie book) you've got to try them! Crispy yet chewy.. perfect!

Can someone ask for a better possible present?!

The birthday festivities have now concluded. See you back here next year.

On The Day That You Were Born, The Angels Got Together...

49 (gulp!) years ago today, at 1:20 in the afternoon, I emerged into the world and not at all happy about it. My Mother always told me that I came out kicking and screaming. There was no little 'love tap' on the butt to get my lungs going... I was vocal from the start! Something that continues to this day!

Whenever I reach this day, I always remember a story my Grandmother (I miss you Gran!) would tell me. She was visiting us from Tennessee when my Mother went into labor. It was decided that Gran would stay with my sisters while my Mom and Dad went to the hospital. Gran took my sisters into the wooded area behind our house for a walk to entertain them. Gran loved to be outdoors and would seize every opportunity to teach us something about nature. She stopped by the creek that flowed through the woods and she said a prayer. She prayed for a 'little red-headed grand baby.' Gran's prayer came true. After I worked through the peach fuzz phase of hair growth, my hair was a rather bright auburn color. (I'm so thankful that my hair color moderated as I grew older... it's not easy growing up with red hair in the 60s and 70s!) Gran always said I was special to her because her prayer had been answered. She was an amazing woman. (with good taste in 'favorites' I might add!)

Gran taught me a lot growing up. She taught me how to cook in a cast iron skillet (it's fabulous), how to appreciate wildlife, how to clean a freshly caught fish (not a skill I use today, but I can still remember how to do it) and she gave me my first glimpse into gardening. Before she passed away five years ago (at age 98) Gran would love to come to our home and be in the garden. "Kenny," she said, "I do believe you are the best gardener in the family." Quite a compliment for a guy who used to find every excuse to NOT work in the garden as a child!

So, while I'm working in the garden today, I know Gran will be with me, guiding me every step of the way. She always has. She always will.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Cool Thing About Growing Older

You know, I used to think that ‘getting older’ was a horrible thing. I dreaded the thought of a younger person one day turning to me and saying, “damn, you’re old…” But, now that I’m reaching the peak of middle age, getting older isn’t quite as bad as I thought.

Something happens as you age. Priorities change. Importance you gave to this or that, changes. What gives you pleasure, changes. What totally pisses you off – changes.

I look back at my life in even the last 10 years and there are remarkable changes that have taken place. There was a time in my life when I HAD to be right. I would argue my point with nearly anyone, until then were convinced that I was right. Now, it’s far more important for me to be ‘happy’ than to always be ‘right.’ There was a time in my life that it was important to ‘keep up with the Jones.’ I drove myself into debt doing that and came to realize that the only “Jones” I needed to keep up with was to be true to myself. It is my choice to set the standard for myself and maintain it or exceed it; but never fall short of it. I’ve learned through the years to enjoy the music of others; but I dance to my own beat. Life is not a ballroom dance competition.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to understand people a bit more. Take friendships for instance. My friendships are diverse. From corporate types, to homeboys in the hood, my spectrum of friends represents a beautiful canvas and cross section of life. Each friend brings a special something to the table. It could be a particular skill or talent. It could be a particular life experience that we’ve shared. It could be an opposing point of view that challenges my thought process. It could be any number of things – all of equal value. All of equal enjoyment. All of equal importance. That’s what I love most about my friends. They are all important to me and I love each and every one of them in a very special way.

Something I’ve learned over the years, is to not have ‘tunnel vision’ when it comes to friendships. I don’t limit myself to only ‘like kind’ people. I don’t limit myself to particular income levels or ‘status’ in the community. How dull would that be? I thrive on the diverse backgrounds, interest, skills, talents, SOULS of my friends.

Friendships are important and have been an important part of the growing up process. I guess that’s why it saddens me when it feels like one of those important people is pulling away without explanation. It makes me replay the tapes in my head, wondering what I could have possibly done wrong. (we, as humans often times turn on ourselves first) Then, it dawns on me… without some explanation I can’t ‘own’ a piece of something that someone else is feeling or thinking. I can’t correct a mistake I’ve made (if I’ve made one) without understanding what may or may not have happened. Silence can be the most misunderstood form of communication.

Life is all about experiences. Your ‘person’ is the sum of your experiences. Interestingly enough, it’s an equation that is never ending because experiences (hopefully) never end. As we age, as we experience, we become more of ourselves and less of what others ‘want’ us to be.

Becoming ourselves and less of what others want us to be is the cool part of growing older.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sending an S.O.S

To those friends that use hotmail and/or MSN as their email service, I just wanted to let you know that all outgoing emails that I've sent to you have returned with 'fatal errors' and have a permanent delivery failure. So much for technology! I just want you to know that you're thought of! Wish you could receive my emails!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's In Your Magazine Basket?

Since today is one of those 'blah' days for me, I decided to take some time (hours) and go through the numerous magazines that I've not yet read. As I was looking through the basket that holds a good many of the publications, I was amazed at the number of magazines I had not yet read. Mind you, when a new Living comes in, the reading ritual takes place.. but something like, let's say, Men's Health, doesn't quite get the same treatment!

So, I'm curious, what magazines do you subscribe to or read on a regular basis?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Favorite Things For Summer

While it's no secret that I love Martha and all things Martha, there are other merchandise lines that catch my eye as some of my favorites. I wanted to share some of those favorite things with you. (I guess in some way I wanted to be Oprah today, since she did this very topic on her show yesterday)

One of my favorite outdoor dining sets is this wonderful teak set from Pottery Barn. The table has two butterfly extensions that will allow for comfortable seating for 6. Of course, I love the ice blue umbrella! The Chesapeake collection from Pottery Barn retails for $2,899 (seating for six, with the umbrella and stand). It's a favorite, but it's not likely to be in my budget!

This Galvanized steel potting bench is definitely a favorite! With ample storage and stylish design, this Restoration Hardware item would look GREAT in my potting area. The wide center drawer would be perfect for storing tools, seeds, and gloves. This magnificent bench retails for $349.00 and is available on their website.

You may remember a few years ago when Martha taught us how to make our own mason jar candle holders. (She also made them with small jelly jars) If you're not the crafty type but like the handmade look, you can buy these Mason jar candle holders as a set of four from Pottery Barn. These rustic looking favorites retail for $24.00 for the set of four.

Sea glass has always been a favorite of mine (after all, these are very Martha-esque colors!). This sea glass and driftwood wind chime is available from Stonewall Kitchen and retails for $24.95. I can almost hear the delicate sound now!

Anyone who has watched Martha for any length of time should be familiar with a wonderful artisan by the name of Guy Wolff. In the previous version of Martha Stewart Living television, Guy Wolff's pots lined the shelves in Martha's potting shed. You'll still see those pots on her set today. This pot collection called the "Rose Pot" collection is available through Smith and Hawken. Rustic, yet elegant, these pots range in price from $4.00 for the thumb pot to $36.00 for the larger 8" pot. Smith and Hawken will frequently feature several different designs of Guy Wolff pottery in their stores.

This all glass beverage dispenser is an elegant way to serve a party sized Sangria, ice tea, or fresh lemonade. Available from Stonewall Kitchen, this dispenser retails for $199.95 (I have a Stonewall gift card... I think I'm going to order this one!)

I love the look of this bronze and copper watering can from Smith and Hawken. The wooden handle grips give it an antique look. The narrow shower head gives the home gardener a soft, gentle spray for even the most delicate of plants. Retail price: $85.00

This stackable compost bin is perfect for the city dweller who wants to make compost for their flower gardens. Three tiers attach together as your compost pile grows. The lid locks securely to keep varmints out. Available from Smith and Hawken, it retails for $129.00

This grilling sauce can't be beat. Pomegranate Grille Sauce is available at Stonewall Kitchen and is a wonderful sauce to use with pork or chicken on the grill. Tangy and sweet, it will soon become one of your favorites too! Retail price: $6.50

Last but not least... when you don't have time to make your own lemon curd (and how many of us really DO have that time?!) There is nothing better than the Barefoot Contessa lemon curd available through Stonewall Kitchen. Perfect for filling tarts, or used between cake layers, this lemon curd gives you all the tang of lemon you'll need. I always keep this stocked in my pantry. Retail price $6.00

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Forty - some years ago today, a sassy little guy was born.. my friend Mike.

Mike is one of those people that you love to death and yet you could slap him in a moments notice. (not literally... figuratively speaking.) He's such a kind person, genuinely a nice person, and yet he has a streak of sarcasm that runs deep! I personally like that about him. He keeps you on your toes.. and you often times find yourself wondering "is what he's saying the real deal?" It's just hard to tell if he's kidding!

His kindness will warm your heart. You can't help but appreciate him and his generosity towards others.

We live at opposite ends of the country, but Mike and I talk on the phone almost every week (It's become something I look forward to on Sundays). I can't even keep count, how many times during the course of a conversation I laugh - and laugh hard! There's no mild 'giggle' around Mike... he'll pull that full blown laughter out of you in no time! It's not uncommon to have tears running down my cheeks at some point during a call.

We share a passion for gardening. We share a love of all things Martha (but we keep it real and in perspective!), and we share the curiosity of WHAT people do with the little punch outs from one of Martha's craft punches!

Mike is a master cookie baker. His co-workers benefit from his talents with his usual Friday treats. Lucky dogs..

Happy Birthday, Sparky! Have a wonderful day, and make it special. You make everyday special for those of us who know you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Soaps Arrive!

I love when I arrive home from work and find packages in my door from one of the delivery services. Today my Beekman soaps arrived!
Okay.. so I've raved about the soaps in a previous blog entry.. forgive me if I do it again. What I didn't get to see was the packaging when my sister gave me my 'sample' soaps.

Each package comes in a wonderful muslin drawstring bag. Inside, there are two bars of soap wrapped in tissue and tied with cotton string. (very natural - just like the soap) Also included is a small card that tells you a bit about the soap. On the reverse side of the card, it indicates who made the soap - Josh or Brent. Nice touch!

Those of you that know me, know that I love the graphic design of packaging, logo's, etc. I was impressed with the simple packaging. Yet, it made the soaps something special. It wasn't like getting two bars of soap... it was like opening a gift. (it's an early birthday present from me to me!)
I do hope everyone will give the soaps a try. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

On a side note, I had 'hinted' to Dr. Brent about producing t-shirts with their Beekman logo on them. He commented on one of his blog entries that they encourage the DIY approach - so I'm going to make my own (and send one to Brent and Josh each to garden in). I'll show you the finished product this weekend. The packaging tag is my inspiration..

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Martha Stewart Outdoor Living - Television Special

Just a reminder that this Saturday at 1pm you'll be able to catch the new Martha Stewart special, "Martha Stewart's Outdoor Living" on the Fine Living Network. Here is a run down of the segments:

  • Planting a succulent sphere with Sean Conway
  • Planting urns with Japanese Maples
  • A visit to the Homestead Garden on Shelter Island
  • Hanging and Hammock
  • Creating hanging candles with Tom Tamborello
  • Planting Pansies
  • Creating a tree peony arrangement
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Brewing fresh herb tea
  • Outdoor living spaces with Martha Baker
  • Garden rugs with Margaret Kerr
  • A look back at 30 years of Turkey Hill

Classic Martha for the outdoor living enthusiast! Never fear.. if you don't get the Fine Living Network.. I've got you covered!

In other Martha television special news, "Martha Stewart's Green Living" special will air in June. Details on the special aren't available yet.

Want Some Candy?

I typically do not recommend novels to people. Why? Everyone has different tastes in literature and if the person you recommend the book to doesn't like your selection, they talk badly about you for weeks on end. That being said however, I feel compelled to share with you a book I've not yet read, (it will be on my doorstep tomorrow - thanks Amazon!) yet I'm anxiously awaiting to read and experience it. "Candy Everybody Wants" is the newest release (today!) from Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

So, why am I excited about this new release? It's the 80's darling.. it's the 80's... when life was all about big hair, Dynasty, Deney Terrio (you DO remember 'Dance Fever' don't you?) and me clubbing the night away (and the next night and the next night and the next night..). 80's pop culture is something you had to live to believe. (and I've counted my blessings numerous times for still being alive to remember the days... yikes! The situations I found myself in back then... but, I digress. )

On Josh, the book is described as follows:

"Following his New York Times Best-selling “I Am Not Myself These Days,” Kilmer-Purcell returns with his hilarious fiction debut: “Candy Everybody Wants.” Set in the early 1980’s, the novel follows a starry-eyed gay teenager from Wisconsin to New York to Hollywood as he chases his dreams of celebrity. Surrounded by a quirky cast of family and friends, his chaotic journey teaches him that becoming America's sweetheart can sometimes leave a very bitter aftertaste."

An early review states:

"A balls out joy ride through eighties pop culture that enlightens as much as it exhilarates. As always, Kilmer-Purcell's astringent wit is nicely tempered by his obvious sympathy for human frailty."


Sounds like a good read to me!

Congratulations Josh, on the release of "Candy Everybody Wants"

Monday, May 12, 2008

My, How You've Grown (and other garden things)

After nearly 2" of rain yesterday and early this morning it seems as though things are growing so fast you can almost see it happen before your eyes!

The ferns that were just barely starting to unfurl from their winter sleep have shot up to a foot tall! The ornamental grasses are really starting to grow as well.

I love Hosta. All varieties of Hosta. Two of my favorites are in the front of a small garden. The large leaves of the brightly colored Chartreuse Hosta (Sum and Substance variety) are stunning in a flower arrangement or single stems of the hosta leaves alone in individual vases. The smaller bi colored to the left is Summer Joy.

This is a plant that is commonly named 'snow tuft.' It's a fairly early spring bloom that spreads like crazy year after year. It brightens up any spot in the garden. I'm not sure why, but this plant experienced a lot of winter kill this year. It's about half as big as it once was.

There are always creatures in our yard.. rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and yes, even skunks pay a visit throughout the season. The rabbits have been feasting on some lettuces I planted just for them. (It keeps them out of the other gardens!)

This is my little garden oddity... it's a Japanese Maple that is actually two varieties in one! The lower part of the tree is a weeping variety, with deep purple/maroon leaves. The upper part of the tree has smaller green leaves that do not change color during the course of the season. I don't have a clue.

June Is Busting Out All Over

It's always a good day when the newest issue of Martha Stewart Living arrives in my mailbox (especially when it arrives before it appears on the newsstand!).
The June issue, with it's simple, but beautiful beehive honey glazed cake on the cover (love the marzipan bees) helps get you ready for Summer. Here's a hint of what is inside:
  • Martha gives you entertaining tips in "From My Home to Yours."
  • Learn about lanterns
  • Ribs 101
  • Salads with substance
  • Freshening up outdoor furniture
  • Busy bees - saving these invaluable insects
  • Healthy Living - Why bottled water may not be better
  • Dr. Brent helps readers keep allergies at bay

As always, there are plenty of gentle reminders, good things, and helpful hints from Ask Martha!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Today, we celebrate Mom.

Mother's come in all shapes, sizes and colors; but one thing remains true... there is no greater love in the world than that of your Mother. Much like snowflakes that fall in winter, there are no two Mother's exactly alike. Some Mother's face the challenge alone, some Mother's share the challenges with their husbands or partners. Some Mother's work two jobs to keep their children fed and clothed, some Mother's work in the home day in and day out to achieve the same result. Some Mother's are present each and every day, some Mother's have since passed and we hold on to dear memories of them.

Regardless of where your own Mother falls in the spectrum of life, there is no other love than that of a Mother. It's special. It's forgiving. It's unconditional. Even if you're in a situation where it doesn't seem like there is a lot of love, you can bet there is.

Mother's are special people, with special talents, with special hearts. Over the years, I've come to realize just how special that Mother's love is. It's easy to take a Mother's love for granted; but I hope you'll take a moment today to stop and reflect on how special that love is.

To all the Mom's in the world, we honor you. Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

When Iris Blooms Are Smiling

Near the middle of May there is one thing you can always count on if you're a gardener in Michigan - the Irises will begin to bloom.

These wonderful spring time favorites have multiplied over the years and now Iris fill various spaces in several of the garden plots on our property.

As if they know they are enjoyed, the Iris seem to stagger their bloom time. The first blooms are in the back garden used as a cutting garden. Then, waves of purple (they are my favorites) Iris will begin to pop in the other garden beds until about mid June.

In checking my garden planners for the last several years, once the Iris bloom we usually will have our first round of severe weather. May is typically a turbulent month weather wise so now that the Iris have started to bloom I can be sure of a heavy storm in the near future!

A Nice Gift

I was very surprised to receive a most interesting and wonderful delivery today. It was a thank you gift from my niece (my nephews wife) who had been staying with us this week.

It's an edible arrangement. It's a wonderful basket full of melon, pineapple, strawberries and grapes all designed to look like a flower arrangement. The arrangement is HUGE! We are having guests this evening and what a perfect dessert to share with everyone (with some yogurt and shortbread cookies).

What a wonderful way to say, 'thank you!' Gail, it was our pleasure to have you stay. We enjoyed having you with us. You're always welcome! xox UK (Uncle Kenn)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mother Nature Amazes Me

Unfortunately, there's no photo with this post - but Mother Nature works in incredible ways.

Last week we had an overnight freeze after a nice warm spell. Two young trees (which are simple cottonwood trees, but they will provide nice shade) that stand about 12 ft tall were starting to push out their leaves when the freeze happened. The tender leaves turned brown and withered away. I just knew that I would have to look at two 'stick trees' for the season now that the leaves were dead. To my amazement, I just went for a little stroll around the yard following a nice rain shower to find very tiny buds forming again to replace the frozen leaves! I'm so, so happy! The Hostas will have shade.. I will have nice trees to look at in that particular part of the garden, and life is good!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Early May Garden - How it Grows!

It was a beautiful day. The temperatures were very seasonal and mild, the sun was bright, the sky was that special color of blue. It was the perfect spring day to be outdoors and wander through the garden.

The wild violets mix themselves into most anything else that is growing in the garden. Their purple faces provide a wonderful hint of color in all the growing greenery.

This year, they seem to have spread throughout the gardens. Some people don't like them.. I love the way they look in early spring.

Several weeks ago, I reported that my peonies had started to emerge from their winters nap. It's amazing what a few short weeks of warmth and sunshine will do! They are now over a foot tall with small buds beginning to develop. I love peonies! They are such an old fashioned flower.

The last of the tulips could be found in the rear of the house near a small storage barn. Along with the few tulip soldiers, the lady's mantel is growing nicely as well as a few more hostas. The small evergreens that were planted a couple years ago are showing signs of new growth as well. Tulips are indeed an ode to spring.

There are ferns growing EVERYWHERE. These large wild ferns were transplants from a walk in he northern Michigan woods. They have spread and spread throughout the gardens. I love seeing the fiddle heads emerge and stretch to the warm sun. These ferns will grow to be about three feet tall. They are huge! They will stay lush and green until about August... then the heat of the summer does them in!

Everything Old is New Again

At the end of the gardening season last year I decided to try something a bit different. When it was time to empty the various pots and containers, I saved all the potting soil into a large garbage can. I would shake out the remains of any spent annuals and their roots, leaving behind the 'used' soil (or mixes) in the can. Much to my surprise, I had just about half of a 40 gallon container filled! To that, I added some 'spent' bark mulch, and a few shovels full of good compost and some grass clippings from our final cut. I mixed it all up so all the ingredients were well combined and added a quart of compost tea water. I mixed again, covered it, and left it for the rest of the fall and winter.

Today, I opened the container lid (as I had a few times on warmer days to mix it up a bit) to find wonderful dark soil. I added in 4 cups of bone meal and 2 cups of fish emulsion and gave it a final mix. What I now have is incredibly rich, revitalized potting soil to use in containers this year. There are still 'bits' of decomposing bark in the soil, so it will be light enough to drain well when I water.

By using my soil from last year, I'm saving myself over $100. in new purchases of potting mixes as well as helping the environment by not buying (and disposing of) large plastic bags of dirt!

This 'green' tip is one I will do year after year.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What Do You Know About The Piggy Bank?

Did you know that the origin of the 'piggy bank' actually had nothing to do with pigs?

In the late 15th century, metals were quite costly and were not used for housewares. Instead, pottery, dishes, containers and other items were made from a low cost clay material called 'pygg clay.' Pygg clay was known for it's durability and it's soft orange color.

In the day, people often reserved one of their pygg clay containers to save coins and other items. As times passed, these containers became known as a 'pygg bank.'

By the 19th century, more advanced methods were used for the creation of containers and dishes, yet people well remembered the history of the pygg clay containers. One artisan, unaware of the correct spelling of the clay referred to it as a 'pig bank' and the idea was born, to create a container in the shape of a pig to collect and save coins.

A bit of trivia to impress your friends. :)

Beekman 1802

There is a special place in the Hudson Valley in New York: Beekman 1802 Farm. This is the home to Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

Proclaimed as a "shared experiment in seasonal living" Dr. Brent and Josh have developed a place on earth that is in my opinion, close to being paradise (you may not agree if you believe sandy beaches and palm trees are paradise!).

Their website, Beekman 1802 makes you part of their home and farm. It's a delightful place to visit when you wish to escape from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. It's part inspiration, part journal, and part field trip to participate (if only through the web) in their shared experiment. It's a relaxing journey into their gardens, their home and their lives. It's a comfortable place that I've grown to enjoy. I hope you will too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Workshop Alert!

The folks at Martha Stewart Living are doing it again with the Summer Workshop.

Participants will receive great recipes, projects and entertaining ideas to make the most of the summer season.

Log into to sign up for the best ideas of the summer!