Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Mother's Day Flowers and Charm Bracelets

Outside our bedroom window this morning things are looking a bit soggy.  The downspout has created a raging river at times next to the rosebushes.  The rain is a welcome sight after our rather dry month of April.

While things are a bit dark and drippy outside, this beautiful bouquet of flowers near the kitchen sink are brightening things up inside.  A thoughtful gift from my son for Mother's Day.

Another bouquet from Brett.
Bringing beauty to the dining table.
So nice the be remembered with flowers, cards and phone calls on Mother's Day.
I do hope you, too, had a nice Mother's Day.

A few days before Mother's Day I received a surprise in the mail.
My sister sent me my Mom's charm bracelet.  I suppose I had seen it as a child, although I scarcely remembered it.  As I looked at each charm, it seemed as though the story of her life unfolded before me.  Engraved charms depicting each of her children, tiny baby shoes and a tiny baby carriage which were most likely gifts when her babies were born.  A telephone and victrola ... perhaps from her days before marriage and children?  The tiny warplane... did my Dad bring it from his time in World War 2?  If my Mom were still here, I would be asking those questions.  So often at this stage of my life I wish I would have been more curious about my parents and grandparents younger years.
Either way, this charm bracelet was a little glimpse into my Mom's life and interests through the years.  More familiar to me are the golf bag and tennis racquets.  She absolutely loved tennis and thinking of the pleasure it gave her makes me happy.

After looking at Mom's bracelet, I was compelled to dig out my own.  Far fewer charms on it as I think the fad was beginning to wear out in my generation.  I believe that most of the charms were gifts from my parents.  That little round one to the left of the roller skate says "I Love You" when you spin the circle.  
I can't think of a sweeter gift to receive for Mother's Day.
Although my Mom has been gone since 2009, something so personal brought her memories flooding back to me and that's the next best thing to having her here.

Since I know that many of my readers are from the same generation as me, I am wondering how many of you have a charm bracelet still?
If you do perhaps you would consider sharing it on your blogs??

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Tackling A Few Garden Challenges

Do you have areas in your garden that present a constant challenge for one reason or another?
One such area for me is right here at the front door.
I like to have something growing in the pots to soften up the space and look more welcoming.  The challenge here is the area is in total shade.  Through the years I have tried a variety of shade loving plants (caladium, coleus, impatiens, etc.). While in most cases they lived out the season, they didn't exactly thrive and also didn't look too impressive as the season wore on.  Not what I want right at the entrance to my home.
While at the garden center over the weekend, I settled on these ferns.
I've given up on flowers here.  I do like the looks of ferns on front porches, so I have high hopes for these.

According to the information on the plant tag, it should be happy in it's new home.  I think the golden-orange fronds will add some interest too.  Plus the fact that it is a perennial will mean that it won't be necessary to replant the pots every year.

Throwing in a photo from my garden center visit.
With Mother's Day coming up, the displays were particularly pretty.

Another challenge in the garden is the state of this Sky Pencil Holly.
There is one on each side of the grill.  The one on the right looks fine.
This one has dead branches and yellowing leaves.  It just doesn't look healthy and I wasn't sure what the problem was.  The other day I noticed little bright orange dots running around the stone surfaces next to the grill.  I am guessing them to be spider mites.  That made me wonder whether that was the problem on the nearby holly.

The day I was at the garden center they were handing out ladybugs free with a purchase.  In reading the label I learned that they love to feast on spider mites and many other undesirable garden pests.
How interesting, I thought.

I learned many things about their life cycles and how to release them into the garden to obtain the best result.
It was suggested to water the affected plant well, wait until dusk or early morning and then open the bag and let them crawl out on their own.  Shaking the bag to get them out could cause them to fly away.

Here they are emerging from the mesh bag.

Now I leave them to have a feast.
I much prefer this method to spraying a bunch of pesticides.
Time will tell whether the problem will be solved.  If it is, I may purchase more lady bugs to assist in keeping the bad pests out of the garden.

Enjoy this last day of April!!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Thursday Chit Chat

Clematis in Bloom

I seem to go in spurts with blogging anymore.
One day I'm all gung ho to start posting more regularly and then the weeks slip by with nothing much happening.  At least nothing that seems worthy of turning into a blog post.  Yet, I miss my connection to this place I have been spending so much time in for the past 15 years or so.  Sometimes I'm shocked to realize how many years have gone by since the blog craze was in it's heyday.
Although most of the regular bloggers from that time seem to have
moved on, I am so glad there are still so many of you out there who continue on.

Azaleas brightening the landscape

The last couple weeks have been spent taking care of annual doctor's appointments.  The routine lab work has been less than routine.  After three unsuccessful attempts at drawing my blood, I was given another appointment for the following week.  At that appointment blood was taken from each hand.  The technician felt it would be adequate.  Apparently it wasn't.  I went back for another try this week and was told they didn't have orders from the doctor and sent me home.  Some type of mix up on the doctor's office end.  They asked me if I could come back tomorrow.  The answer was no.
This simple (?) lab work is taking a toll.  I need a break and, besides, I have more important things to do tomorrow.

This pile of birthday gifts arrived in the mail yesterday.
I've been using all my willpower to not open them until tomorrow.
I did open a few birthday cards this morning.
When you receive cards and gifts ahead of the holiday, do you open them upon arrival or wait for the big day?

Next week I will be back to the lab hoping for a successful visit.
Next up, eye doctor, dentist and mammogram.
I think somewhere along the line it seemed like a good idea to make all these appointments around my birthday.  I'm beginning to re-think that wisdom.


Monday, April 1, 2024

Let There Be Flowers and Strawberries

When we left for vacation, the daffodils were just starting to bloom.  I was happy to see them still blooming when we returned home so that I could enjoy at least one bouquet before the season came to a close for another year.

When the daffodil bouquet needed to be replaced, the tulips began to make their presence known.  I planted a mix of colors.  So far the yellow are the only ones in bloom.  How fun it will be to anticipate more bouquets in shades of pink and peach.
The spring flower show is underway and I couldn't be happier.

  On Saturday I made my first visit to the garden center.
The plants all looked so vibrant and healthy before the heat sets in.
The colors of the calla lilies and clematis above were so pretty against the green foliage.

I felt it necessary to take several sniffs of this lilac.
Lilacs don't grow as well here in the south as they did up north.  In
fact, I couldn't tell you when I've had the opportunity to savor that scent so I took advantage of the situation.  sniff sniff sniff

After reading the tag on this one, I was surprised to learn that it will bloom twice (spring and fall).  Somehow I don't associate lilacs with
fall.  I do, however, enjoy the scent so maybe it would be nice to have that opportunity twice per season.

When we were in Florida strawberry season had just begun.  We saw several roadside signs advertising strawberry festivals.  Unfortunately the dates didn't coincide with our visit.  Just thinking about seasonal strawberries made me crave them so when these bright red flowers caught my eye, I went in for a closer look.

Sweet Berry Strawberry

Into the cart went this beautiful plant.  
The tag tells me that it will thrive in the container it's in and provide delicious sweet strawberries throughout the growing season.
I have high hopes for a plentiful harvest.
It seems there is so much to look forward to in the spring garden.


Monday, March 25, 2024

To Florida and Back

Last week we travelled to the Sunshine State.
The first few days we visited Brett's mom.  She will turn 95 later this year and is starting to show signs of dementia.  Brett and his sister went through her storage room while I spent time going through photos with her.  A lot of time was spent reminiscing about these photos.  Often I had no idea who the people were and she couldn't remember, yet she was reluctant to toss them.  I tried to explain that the younger generation isn't typically interested in these old relics so if they didn't have meaning to her, it wasn't necessary to keep hundreds and hundreds of them.  
Meanwhile in the storage room, Brett and his sister dealt with tax papers from the 1970s to the present and every brochure for every piece of furniture, appliance, etc. that they had owned.  Once done they had 400 lbs. of paperwork to be shredded.
I don't say this to be critical of my in-laws.  Instead, it was a reminder of how much has changed regarding keeping photos and paperwork in the past few decades.  

After the work was done, we enjoyed a nice lunch overlooking the water.
The boating activity and pelicans were entertaining as we dined on fresh grouper sandwiches.

Then it was on to visit our son and his family for the remainder of the week.  Jaxson was on spring break so there was lots of time for science experiments and many, many board games.

We brought our very old tennis rackets and introduced Jaxson to the game.

Somewhere in my own old photo collection I have a similar shot of my dad with his two grandsons on the tennis court holding their rackets in this same position.  My parents loved the game and wanted all of us to love it as much as they did.  

All too soon the week was over and it was time to head home.
I never like that part and neither does Jaxson :(
Good memories will tide us over until the next visit.


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Decorating for Easter and a Quick and Delicious Cake Recipe

Last week I was inspired to pull out the bunnies, colored eggs, chicks and tulips to set the stage for Spring's arrival (one week from today) and Easter at the very end of the month.

The cotton branches adorning the top of the hutch were a gift from a friend.  I once mentioned to her how amazed I was the first time I spotted cotton growing in a field along the country road I was driving on.  Not something one sees in my home state of Michigan.  The next time I saw her she presented me with a huge bundle of cotton from her brother's farm.  At Christmastime I put it up there thinking it looked a bit like snowballs.  Now I am letting it morph into cottontails for the Easter season.

One little cotton ball that broke off has turned this bunny into Peter Cottontail.

Yesterday I had a guest coming for an impromptu dinner.
Wondering what I could come up with for a quick dessert, I remembered this recipe for King Arthur's Original Cake Pan Cake.
It goes together super quick with ingredients that I generally have on hand.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons that it is one of King Arthur's most requested recipes.

Wondering what else I had on hand to fancy it up a bit, I opted for a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh raspberry.  
Moist, chocolaty and they'll never know how easy it was.

Friday, March 1, 2024

March Make It's Arrival

~ Welcome March ~

The rain is falling outside my window on this first day of March.
Along with the raindrops I see an abundance of Northern Cardinals and Mourning Doves combing the ground for seeds that have fallen from the feeders.  The daffodils are beginning to bloom.  Their brilliant golden hues a bright spot on this otherwise gray day.

Today March has made it's arrival.
Spring is right around the corner.
Something new to see each day as the temperatures slowly begin to rise.  I love the colors of Spring.  So welcome after the drab shades of winter.
This year March also brings Easter.  I love the pastel colors of Easter decor, candy and flowers.  Soon I will decorate the house for Easter and put away the few lingering snowflake themed decorations that are loosing their luster at this time of year.

How has March arrived in your corner today?
Rain, sunshine, wind, or (heaven forbid) snow?  Unless, of course, you love the snow ;-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweetie Pie

Happy Valentine's Day to You, Sweetie Pie!

Sending my vintage Valentine greeting and a virtual slice of cherry pie to you today.

Awhile ago I gave my toy stove and other vintage kitchen items a new home.  Right inside my pantry.  When you open the door there is a little space before the shelving begins.  I think it is meant for tall things like brooms.  One night when I was having trouble getting to sleep I formulated an idea...

The next morning I got up and gave the broom a new home in the garage.  I emptied out a tall, narrow bookcase I had.  It fit into that space perfectly with room to still access the light switch.
Now when I turn on the light my treasured vintage collection greets me.

When I moved to this house, this collection didn't look quite right in my more modern kitchen.  Now I can still see and enjoy it in my secret hiding spot.  The stove still makes it's way to the counter at Christmastime.  

Another night when sleep was slow to come I formulated a new home for my cookbooks.  Until that point they were housed in various cupboards where the weight on some of the shelves was concerning.  What can I say, I love to browse through cookbooks.  Sometimes I even use them for their intended purpose.  Ha!!
Tonight, for example, I will be cooking and baking a special dinner for my Valentine.

Wishing you a day filled with love and a special treat or two.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Outside on These Mild Winter Days

The snowdrops that I planted a few years ago aren't multiplying like I had hoped.  Still, they are a happy little sight to stumble upon in the garden at this time of year.

On one of our recent mild days I spent some time on the patio.
A nice variety of birds kept me company.
A few different woodpeckers enjoyed the full feeder and the suet that Brett had recently put out.

The tree outside my office window has been visited often by the Eastern Bluebirds.  They looked especially lovely with the brilliant blue sky background.

Over the weekend I was at my son's house.  While the guys were busy assembling something in the house I decided to take advantage of our 70 degree day and go for a walk around his neighborhood.  The first thing I noticed were daffodils in bloom at many houses.
At my house they are well out of the ground, but not close to blooming yet.
When I got back to my son's house I took a stroll around his yard to see if there were any spring bulbs sprouting.  The previous owner liked to garden.  In a patch of iris (I think) I noticed something sticking up.

When I pulled it out, a ceramic goose greeted me.
After brushing off the decaying leaves, I gave him a new home near the daffodils.  I think he will be happy once those pretty yellow flowers start popping out.  

Around the corner from the daffodils and iris I discovered a few well marked hyacinths awakening from their winter slumber.
I think the former gardener's grandchildren enjoyed painting rocks.  I've found them here and there throughout the garden.

Back home, the window feeder has been another popular spot with the birds.  This sweet little house finch was patient enough to pose for a picture.  A very fitting visitor for this Valentine week.


Saturday, January 27, 2024

January Garden Club Meeting

Our neighborhood garden club had the first meeting of the year this week.  A master gardener and the local extension agent gave a very thorough presentation on gardening in our area of North Carolina along with timely tasks like the above.

They brought lots of seed catalogues and garden related books for us to peruse.  

This Green Prints magazine is new to me.  Are you familiar with it?
It looks like it would be appealing to anyone interested in gardening.
Particularly at this time of year when we are doing more dreaming and planning than actual gardening.

Our garden club established and maintains a Monarch Waystation.
Volunteers (like me) take turns tending to it throughout the season.
This is how it was looking last September when I was on duty.

Houseplants were being raffled at the meeting.
My number was called and I chose this Christmas cactus.
It was a generous sized clipping with a few buds on it.  I am thinking they are going to be white.  The clipping was wrapped in paper with a bit of soil attached.  On the way home from the meeting I stopped at the garden center for potting soil and a new pot to put it in.
Came home, potted it and gave it a drink of water to settle the soil.
I noticed it didn't have any roots and decided to check online for instructions for potting a clipping like this.  It seems the preferred method is to put it right into soil and not water it for a week or until the roots develop.  Hmmm... hope I didn't cause a problem by adding water when I did.  Luckily it wasn't a lot of water.  I guess you can tell when the roots are forming by giving the plant a little tug.  If it seems firmly planted, there should be roots growing.  
Time will tell how successful this little project will be.
So far it's looking just fine.
Have you ever propagated a holiday cactus?  If so, what was your experience like.  Enquiring minds would like to know :D.