The Latest Project

So, I wasn’t sure what to write about today.  This is probably not technically a gardening or food post, but we’ll see if I can connect it.  My Dear Husband has many talents, one of which is woodworking.  He can make the most beautiful cabinets, furniture, rocking horses, and just about anything else out of wood.  He and I had been talking for a while about putting a wine glass rack over the kitchen sink.  My thought was that it would take the place of a valance over the window and just bring something unique to the space.  The problem was with lighting.  I had a fluorescent light over the kitchen sink (not my favorite kind of light, but it allowed me to see if the dishes are clean).  If we put up the wine rack, we would have to remove the light.  Solution…light the wine rack.  This created a new problem…how to light it.  We went to our local building supply store to look at lighting, and wow, is it expensive.  We just couldn’t put out $60-$100 for a light over the sink right now, so back to square one.  Then I noticed that our craft store already had their Christmas displays out (way too early in my opinion, but who listens to my opinion anyway).  I decided to try Christmas lights on my wine rack.  I was a little leery of regular Christmas lights, as they have been known to cause fires (and sometimes I don’t remember to turn off the light over the sink), so I thought we would try LED Christmas lights.

Well, we have put up the rack (with lights) and I am still uncertain as to how well I like it.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think it is a great idea and really like the way the glasses look over the sink, but I think I would like to change out the lighting eventually.  First, the LED Christmas lights DO NOT give out much light.  The only way I can tell they give out any light is if it is completely dark in the room when I turn them on.  So I really don’t have as much light as I would like when I wash dishes.  Second, I’m not sure how I feel about seeing all the light bulbs.  Please tell me what you think:

I really like the rack, and my DH did a wonderful job, I just need to figure out if there is a better lighting solution.

By the way, did you notice the view out the window?

Unlit During the Day

That is one of my many Crepe Myrtles and I just love seeing the beautiful flowers out my window.  See, I was able to make this about gardening 🙂

What is your favorite recent project? 

Gardening Joy

One of the greatest joys of gardening (at least to me) is to be able share my plants with others and have others share theirs with me.  I recently took a weekend trip with my mother to visit relatives in Memphis.  One of these was a cousin I had not seen since I was a child.  After just a little while of visiting, she and I realized how much we have in common.  Among other things we both have an extreme love of gardening (and cooking).  She shared with me several plants, but the one that means the most to me is an English Dogwood that came from one that was her mother’s.  It is always great to get plants from other plant lovers, but when the plants are part of your family history, they take on even more meaning.  Her mother was my grandmother’s oldest sister.  She and my grandmother have both been gone a long time, but the connection is still there through plants.

We also visited another cousin (sister to the one mentioned above) and she had been warned before we got there of my love of plants.  She had already been out in her yard digging up daylilies of all kinds.  Then, once we got there, we toured her yard and dug up pieces of even more plants…Irises, Oxalis, Garlic, and many more (some I don’t even know the name of).  I came home with loads of plants and have finally gotten them all in the ground.

All my new plants!

As you can see, I had a lot to do!  She also gave me a sack full of seeds from her annuals…Bachelor Buttons in two colors, Zinnias in many colors, and Cockscomb.  I have several trays of these seeds started and still have some left.  I will be sharing.

So, if you have a love of gardening like I do, share that love by sharing your garden.  Whether it is the harvest from your vegetable garden, the seeds from your annuals, the bulbs you dug up when you separated your Irises and Lilies, the new shoots that grow up around your Plum tree, the extra plants you have that you started from seeds, or whatever you have, sharing these things spreads the love of gardening to others, which is a great gift!

What have you shared from your garden lately?

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…Spring!

I know, that really doesn’t fit the song, but it really is beginning to look like spring here in the southeastern United States.  The calendar says we have another week or so, but my yard and the weather say it is already here.  I have Hostas peeking out of the ground, my Crepe Myrtles all have buds on them (and one actually already has leaves), my flowering Cherry is almost completely bloomed out, and the Red Bud is gorgeous.

My red Plum is almost finished blooming, as well as my Japanese Magnolia.  The green Plum is in full bloom and so are the Blueberry bushes.  I have Irises and Day Lilies standing up nice and tall, tiny little leaves on my Knockout Roses, buds on the Azaleas, and several Peonies have broken ground.  It won’t be long before my yard is amass in color.

I love the colors of spring (just not the pollen) and I am always happy to be able to get outside and get play in the dirt.  It is time to clean up those beds and remove all the dead leaves and scraggly pieces I find.  Then, when all these plants are ready to bloom, they will have beautiful surroundings in which to do that.  I also think our weather might be warm enough to start some seeds (in the greenhouse) and I’ll probably put some carrot seeds in the garden next week (although with the early warm weather, it may not be cool enough).  

Soon I can move all the plants we brought indoors last fall back outside and trim back their droopy parts. Yep, things are waking up around here and, although I really am not a fan of hot weather, I do love the renewal of Spring.  I hope you will take a walk around your yard this weekend and take a notice of what is sprouting and blooming.

What are you starting to see growing in your yard?

Starting Plants From Seeds

One of the great joys of gardening, at least to me, is starting plants from seeds.  There is just something about seeing those little sprouts start and then, later in the season, picking luscious, ripe fruit, wonderfully fragrant herbs or beautiful bouquets of flowers from those same plants.

I like to buy seeds for my vegetable garden and be able to start them early in my greenhouse, so that the plants are ready to put in the ground after the last chance of frost has passed.  One thing you have to remember when buying packs of seeds and starting your plants is that you may wind up with many more plants than you realized.  One year I bought packs of seeds for about 5 different kinds of tomatoes, just because I wanted to try all the different kinds.  I was giving away tomato plants to anyone that would take them, as there was no way we would have room to plant them all and I still wound up with 2 rows of tomatoes in my garden.  So, if you have friends that garden, get together and each of you buy different kinds and share the plants when you get ready to put them in the ground.  Many vegetable seeds can be put directly in the ground when it is time, as they do not take as long to produce.  Things like beans and peas.  I have had good luck transplanting cucumber and squash plants that I started from seed, though.  Some plants, like carrots, onions and cabbage, you can sow directly in the ground much earlier, as they like the cooler weather. Then, in the fall, I sow my collard seeds directly in the garden so they can grow all winter.

Another way I like to get seeds is from my existing plants and trees.  I have successfully grown sweet shrub and red bud trees from seeds, and even some catalpa trees (as these are what I have in my yard).  I don’t recommend sewing many of the catalpa seeds (they are VERY prolific), but they do make a nice large tree that grows relatively fast.  I have also gathered seeds from my Four O’Clocks and other flowers in my yard, and they have done quite well.  There are many plants and trees that produce seeds that are fertile.  It is really fun to search my garden to see what I can propogate.  Seeds from fruit are also an option.  This year I am trying some apple trees from seeds.  I know they will take a while to mature, but it is the fun of watching them grow that I enjoy.

To start my seeds I use a tray (the kind that comes under small pots of plants at the nursery), but any kind of shallow container with drainage holes will work.  I line the tray with newspaper so the dirt doesn’t fall through.  Then I fill the tray with potting soil to within about 3/4 of an inch from the top.  I like to use a mixture that is 1 part potting soil with fertilizer (like Scotts Miracle-Gro or some other brand) and 2 parts plain potting soil ( I just buy whatever is the least expensive).  You can also use all plain potting soil and add some time release fertilizer.  I then spread my seeds out in the tray and cover with another light layer of soil.  If I have large seeds (like squash or pumpkin), I will go ahead and fill my tray and then just push the seeds down in the soil and move the soil around a bit to cover them back up.  Then just keep them moist until they sprout and water regularly after that.  Once the plants are a few inches tall, you can replant them in the ground or in individual pots.  For trees, I usually keep them in pots for at least a year, gradually increasing the size of the pot as the tree grows.

A few things to remember:  1. Always check your seed packets for the optimum times to plant.  They will also usually tell you how many weeks ahead of putting the plants in the ground you should start the seeds.  2. Moisture is the key when first planting your seeds.  You don’t want them to completely dry out, as they may not sprout.  3. The seeds will also need warmth and light to sprout.  So you may need to start them inside in a sunny area if you don’t have a greenhouse.  4.  Most of all, have fun and enjoy the fruits of your planting!

I know this is a long post, but there was a lot I wanted to tell you.  I hope you will try starting some seeds and share your successes (and failures) with me.  I would love to know what works and what doesn’t!

What are your favorite things to grow?

Healthy Eating Can Be Delicious

Chocolate-Pumpkin Pizookie Photo by Chocolate Covered Katie

I have found several blogs that I like to follow, but my favorite is Chocolate Covered Katie.  It is a vegan blog and, although I am nowhere near wanting to be vegan, she has a lot of delicious, healthy recipes that can be adapted to almost any diet.  My favorite recipe of hers that I have tried so far is Chocolate-Pumpkin Pizookie.  Sometimes I eat it for breakfast!  DH and I have been trying to eat healthy since about the first of November.  We had our first grandchild last year and decided we need to be around to see him grow up.  We are both overweight and don’t get enough exercise, so it was time for a dramatic change.  We had both tried dieting before, but I decided I needed help.  Being the grandmother age, I knew my hormone levels were not right and, with all the recent articles about hormone replacement therapy, I knew I didn’t want that anymore.  So, I decided to try holistic medicine.  I have really been very pleased with the results.

I still don’t get enough exercise, but I am hoping that will get better.  I am, however, eating healthier, and with natural supplements, am getting my body to where it is functioning properly.  I am being treated by a wonderful place, Multi-Care Holistic Health Center.  The staff is so helpful and Dr. Johnson is great.   They helped me identify foods that I am sensitive to and areas of my body that were not functioning properly.  I have now lost 38 pounds, about 7 inches in my waist (not to mention a whole lot of inches everywhere else) and am eating healthier, including eating less processed foods or foods with lots of chemicals.  So, I am now always in search of healthier recipes and, as I find or develop them, I want to share them with you.

I hope you understand, I am nowhere near an expert in this field, but I figure we can learn together.  I know that not everyone needs to lose weight like I do, but I am sure that a lot of us need to eat healthier.

There are some unexpected benefits from my change in eating habits.  I have found that my tastes have changed.  I allow myself a cheat meal once a week, but it is getting harder to find unhealthy foods that I really want.  They just don’t taste as good as they used to, or they really make me feel bad, and so I just don’t want them.  I am also cooking at home more, which saves us money.  Now I know what you are thinking.  It costs more to cook healthy.  This is true, but it is still less expensive than eating out, so I am still saving money, and getting healthy at the same time.

I still have quite a ways to go.  I started off over 100 pounds overweight (according to the medical charts), although I am not sure I really need to be as thin as those charts say.  I am afraid that will make me look too much older.  But if I can be healthy, feel good and feel like exercising, I will have accomplished a lot, and, hopefully, will get to see my beautiful grandson (and the new grandbaby that is on the way) grow up to have children and grandchildren of their own.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It will be quite a ride I am sure!  Watch for my next post, when I will share my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with an extra tip to make it even healthier.

What are you doing to improve your health this week?

Welcome

Well I have decided to jump off the ledge and start a blog.  Since I don’t really know what I am doing, I am hoping my posts will get better with time.  I love gardening, cooking and taking photos, so I hope to use all these hobbies to make a creative and interesting blog.   I plan on including healthy recipes and gardening tips illustrated with my own photos.  I would love to share recipes I find as well as my own creations.

For instance, I tried a cake recipe I found the other day and it was called Missy’s Peanut Butter Passion Cake.

I found it on Just a Pinch.  This is a great site where you can find some wonderful recipes and even upload your own.  This cake turned out beautiful and delicious!  The chocolate cake was moist and chocolaty, and the frosting was smooth and creamy.  I served it at a family birthday dinner and it was a hit.  I know this is not a healthy recipe, but we all need an indulgence once in a while.

So welcome to my blog.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions.  This is all very new to me, so I hope you will hang with me as I attempt improve my writing and my content.  I also hope I can, in some small way, encourage you to try new things with your gardening and cooking.  I do not claim to be an expert on anything I will write about, I just will share my experiences with you and hope you will find something you can use.

Do you have any ideas you would like me to write about?