Sunday, January 1, 2012

Not Just Another New Year's Resolution....

The book of Awakening....Having the life you Want by Being Present to the Life you Have.......  by Mark Nepo

I do not make many New Years Resolutions, however I came across this incredible journal/book last year well into 2011.  I decided at that time to wait for 2012- January 1st. and use it as a daily inspirational know the book you pick up on a daily basis to get you started off on a good note.

"A year's supply of inspiration every day and the perfect gift for yourself and your friends." -Oprah Winfrey

Cancer survivor, poet, and philosopher Mark Nepo has consciously allowed life to move through him. The Book of Awakening is the result of his journey of the soul and will inspire others to embark on their own. Nepo speaks of spirit and friendship, urging readers to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships. Encompassing many traditions and voices, Nepo's words offer insight on pain, wonder, and love. I did not read it in it's entirety, but yes I peeked for sure!  Each entry is accompanied by an exercise that will surprise and delight the reader in its mind-waking ability.

As stated above, I tend to not make too many New Year's Resolutions, but this one I intend to follow on a daily basis.  Not since my Big New Year's Resolution/projects of several years ago  have I made this kind of commitment!

For your information as a follow up to my completed resolution of several years ago, mentioned pantry has remained a topic of great pride and accomplishment.  I will happily show it off to anybody who enters my home. 

What are your goals for 2012?  Won't you join me?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Simply in Season.....

"Simply in Season", I just love this cookbook....

Eggplant Cheese Pie..... a recipe I found in this incredible book that features new recipes and reflections on eating seasonal foods grown locally.
This was a very tough and challenging growing season on most of us gardeners.  We went through excessive heat and no rain or flooding.  The only survivor in my Edible Garden is the eggplant-plant.....and it surely is producing in abundance.  Now what will I prepare with it? 
I am always searching for new recipes, especially when the ingredients are growing fresh in my garden.  Sometimes I think that I will not live long enough to cook all the recipes that I have collected.  But, cooking is a passion of mine as is eating healthy, whole foods and gardening/growing plants for the ingredients makes it even more rewarding.  Therefore, growing an edible plant in my garden, finding a wonderful recipe to prepare with it and the reward of eating it, is a win-win situation for me.
I usually always have a stack of books that I take out of the library, yes I love books also.  Cook books are always included in these borrowed books from the library.  When I came across Simply in Season written by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert, I knew this was one that needed to be added to my personal collection.  With this book, your imagination and appetite will be piqued with fresh herbs and spices, seasonal vegetables and fruits and ways of cooking them.  "Simply in Season" is a fun, easy cookbook that follows the cycle of the year. The recipes complement the seasons--from tomatoes in the summertime to persimmons in autumn. There's an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, so the cooking is quite healthy. The recipes are also user-friendly.  ( Eggplant Cheese Pie )

"This cookbook reflects a commitment to eat what is in season. Enjoy the flavors and gifts of this book." -- Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

John Deere, more then just a tractor......

 When I asked my daughter Denise what she thought that her son would like for his birthday, she told me he likes computers and John Deere.  I quickly knew I was not getting a computer for David, and so my focus turned to John Deere.  In thinking about what I could get for him, I remembered seeing Dora the Explorer "character" fleece fabric in Jo Ann's, the fabric and craft store.  If John Deere was so popular, which was new to me, surely there would be fabric in that theme.  And I was right, there were 8 bolts of assorted John Deere themed fleece fabric.  I just had to select one.  I eliminated 2 really cute, but "nursery"  looking prints, not at all acceptable for an 8 year old big boy!

My idea was to make David a non-sew blanket, like the one that I got from Small Paws Rescue, when I adopted Charlie, one of my Bichon foster dogs.   By the way Charlie loves this blanket and somehow knows that it belongs to him.

By simply googling "no-sew fleece blanket, it was very easy to find instructions for making this type of blanket.  All you needed was a tape measure and a pair of scissors. I quickly tried to cut the fabric with about 4 scissors I had on hand, but none  would cut the fabric.  I then tried my kitchen sheers, from my set of WUSTHOF knives, which was a Christmas gift from an ex-boyfriend, many years ago.  Thank goodness they cut the fabric, so again, years later thank you Peter!  I use these knives all the time in food preparation, but never thought that I would use the kitchen sheers for a project like this.  And now I was ready to go........ cut knot, cut knot, cut knot and so on.
This is not the first themed blanket or comforter that I have made.  When my daughter Carrie was about 8 years old, she loved Holly Hobbie.  Everything was about the Holly Hobbie theme.  I made her a patchwork quilt, which she absolutely adored and showed off to everyone.  Until the day came that she decided that this was a "babies" blanket and she was too grown up to have it.  Then I who at one time was the hero for making this for her, became the mom who forced her to have this baby stuff.
David, I hope you love your birthday-John Deere blanket as much as your Aunt Carrie loved her Hollie Hobbie blanket.  When you get tired off it, just pack it up so that some day you can take it out and show it to your children. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The butterflies and the dragonflies are out in abundance in my yard these last several weeks. The photo of this Monarch was taken this morning as I was out taking the photo of my Dwarf Poinciana. The Dwarf Poinciana, or Caesalpinia Pulcherrima, has found a new home.

Here is my Dwarf Poinciana in it's new home.

Fully grown and in flower this is what this plant will look like. The story behind this little plant is as follows: two months ago at a master gardener meeting that I attended, one of the other MG's announced he had some seed pods that he had collected 5 years ago and has had sitting in his desk drawer. Always being on a quest for new plants, I took 2 pods.

I "googled " dwarf poinciana and read that before attempting to grow from seeds, the seeds should be soaked for several days. These pods were really dry, so I soaked the seeds in warm water for several days. The 2 pods gave me 14 seeds.
In my usual way of starting seeds, I planted the seeds in toilet paper rolls. I fill these rolls with my home made mixture of potting soil and stand them upright in a clear plastic tray that I get from salad bars. This creates a miniature hot house. I mist the "seeds" once or twice a day so they do not dry and I can see the humidity when covered with the top of the tray. Behind the dwarf Poinciana seedlings is a tray of Purple Trumpet Plants that I am also starting. Within 3-4 days the seeds began to sprout.
And from 14 seeds, I got 6 plants........isn't nature wonderful?

I have already given away one plant to a friend yesterday, leaving me several additional plants up for adoption to good homes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Does a tree have 9 lives like a cat?

This is my backyard after a Tornado/Twister roared thru Central Florida on March 30, 2011. All my huge trees were uprooted, ripped out of the ground and turned on their sides. It was difficult to pick any particular plant out of the pile. I searched for my little Gossypium Barbadense, or Egyptian Cotton tree that I had started from a seed about 10 months earlier. This poor little plant had already survived freezing temperatures and managed to come back....was it gone now?

The Gossypium Barbadense is a survivor. Look at her now below, she stands about 4.5 foot tall and gets more beautiful with each day. On a visit with a group of master gardeners to the Polasek Museum & Gardens, I came across the specimen that was there and had just flowered. The flower creates an actual cotton ball in which seeds are located. I loved the tree with it's unusual shape leaves and cut a couple of these seed pods to take with me and attempt to propagate. I was successful with starting 3, kept one for myself and gave two away, the two I gave away did not survive.....and no more seeds. And now my surviving plant was lost.

The rest of the story since I started my little tree.....The original was removed from the Polasek Gardens, so there will be no more seeds available from there to grow another. As I began to clean up my yard, look at what I found. My little cotton tree was safe and standing proudly between the fallen trees.

This is not the end of this story. When the trees were cleared from my yard and cut up to slices to remove a tree fell right on my little tree. But is was still there. I had to cut it back to about 1 foot high with no leaves. Talk about a "Charlie Brown" tree. I had to protect it from someone coming along and just pulling it out of the ground thinking it was nothing more then a twig!

But it did thrive and grow, maybe better then it would have had it been shaded as before. As I am slowly replacing all my shade loving plants with sun loving varieties, my little Gossypium Barbadense remains one of my favorites.....but look at what she has been through. First below freezing temperatures of the winter, then a tornado and then being crushed. I am hoping that it will flower this year and produce its own cotton pods with seeds.......

Here is a leaf close up with it's unique shape and purple veins & stems, which measures across about 8-10 inches. Oh, I forgot to mention that my home is currently for sale, so I will have to leave this little tree behind at some point in time. With new seeds collected and propagated I will surely keep one in a portable pot to go with me.

Anyone want to put their name on a list for a plant if I am lucky to get some seeds?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What is bigger, a grape or a tomato?

This may look like a big basket of vine ripened tomatoes. Guess again, this is a very tiny-little basket with tiny Everglade tomatoes. Who was it who said good things come in small boxes/baskets? The photo below will show you the true size of these yummy tomatoes, placed just below a grape and above a dime.

Here is the story of the Everglade Tomato, Zone 9-10 for year-round growth, but OK in all states in your season. Typically, in Florida tomatoes do not grow and produce in the hot summer. Our normal season is to plant seeds continuously from August through February then harvest as ready. Never are there tomatoes in the heat of Summer.

But this is no ordinary tomato. This is the native wild Florida Everglades tomato. If you get the chance to taste a few they are outstanding, sweet with a delightful true tomato taste.

I got my first plant last year from another Master Gardener...but knew nothing about the variety, only that the tomato would be small....I assumed like a grape tomato. I have come to find out that almost nothing can stop them, not even a tornado....which mine have personally experienced. Below is a photo taken of my plants with what seems like hundreds of tiny morsels just waiting to be picked.

My crop this season just showed up, and I have shared them with many friends. I never planted them after the first year. I have been told that the very easiest way to plant seeds is to take a very ripe fruit then gently squish it into the soil with your shoe where you want tomato plants to grow. This technique is 100% sure to grow (many) plants in that spot (you'll have to thin the sprouts). If you would like to try it, I would be happy to share some of my tiny tomatoes with you.....let me know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Sun Will Come Out Tommorow.....

Did you ever have the words of a song stuck in your head? The words from the song from the play Annie have been with me for some weeks now.....In the front of my home, this Lilly proudly displays its beautiful flower in a grouping of many just like it. From the front elevation of my home there is no evidence that nature has blown through and caused a total "upset" to my garden plans. On March 30, 2010 a tornado/twister touched down directly on my back yard, literally lifting it 3 foot up in the air and depositing it down on it's side. This did not effect any of my neighbors properties. They still have heavily treed yards, as I did, except for my side neighbor who had two trees come down right into my bedroom roof and screened patio. I write this post now for me. as I believe it is part of my personal process to deal with this event......I guess I can call it the grieving process.

I am not writing this complaining because I know just how lucky I am. I was home at the time this happened, got my 3 dogs and got into the closet until the crashing noise and shaking of the home stopped. We are all safe, not my roof, not my yard, but what is really important is safe! Nestled under Majestic Oaks in a park- like setting used to describe my back yard. Sounds like a Real Estate phrase, doesn't it? But, this was how I would have described my back yard before, after all gardening is one of my true passions.

I remember wishing that we would get some heavy rain to clean up and finish off the mess and droppings from the oak trees, which always got so annoying for several weeks each spring. Now here is a big lesson on being very specific on what we ask for. I never meant to eliminate totally all my Oak trees, just the droppings!!! As I begin to clean up the mess, I am thankful that my little Gossypium Barbadense (Egyptian Cotton tree), has survived the storm and is hanging on. I could see through all the rubble that it was still standing upright and had not gotten crushed. I was thrilled! But needless to say, when the "downed trees" were being cut up to remove one fell on it and it snapped in half. But this little tree is a survivor, I cut it back and protected it from being pulled out as a branch sticking up, and it is again getting some new growth.

Today I spent several hours out doing some more clean up. Buried under some overgrown plants in the one area of my yard that did not get crushed, I found this Orchid in bloom, what a wonderful surprise. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, it just took me some time to get here.

I am still "negotiating" with the insurance company on what will be paid to complete repairs to my home. I have had to hire an Independent Insurance Adjuster to negotiate for me just as you would have an attorney represent you on other issues. The first payment sent was returned and it is looking now like the payment for repairs will exceed 4X that original offer. Yes I have learned alot from this experience. First thing...never accept the first offer!!

This is part of what I did out side this afternoon. You are looking at my raised "Edible beds". Those little Everglade tomatos are still thriving, despite being crushed, almost to death. The last several weeks prior to this storm, I was thinning them out and giving tomato plants away, to everyone....maybe that was an omen.

Back to the fresh mulch. It is actually the mulch from one of the tree stump grindings. So as I shoveled the mulch into my wheel barrel, moved it across the yard, and put it down, I had the feeling as if I was distributing ashes from a love onto their final resting destination. Which it was in reality, this tree was my oak that was covered about 5 foot all around the base and about 12 foot up with Bromeliads. I originally planted about four plants around the base when I moved in to my home in 2002 to see what would happen.

This storm caused a loss, but again I will say I am lucky. The damage could have been much more horrific like so many others have suffered this year with tornadoes/twisters. I will have to get used to no shade and the beating hot sun. It will take time to replant and make my back yard pretty again, as I will! But I know it will never be the same and I know that. Out with the shade loving plants and as you can see I have gotten my first 3 cactus plants.

I will be fine, we will all be fine, but my message here is appreciate all that you have, and take photographs, because in the blink of an eye all can change....................