Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009...Was it good for you?

2009: Was it good to you, or is it good riddance? I think that it's a little of both for me, and I'm honestly looking forward to Twenty-Ten.

Thinking of the Christmas season that just passed, it doesn't really matter what religion you are, it doesn't matter what you believe, or if you believe, it just matters that all things are possible! With the possibility of all things, there remains some kind of hope.

So, Happy Holidays to Everybody! Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy December birthday, whatever you are into, Happy Whatever it Is. God Bless America and God Bless the World! So I guess it really is all about Dickens, Tiny Tim, you all know who I'm talking about, not the singer, but the character from Dickens in A Christmas Carol, and he ends it by saying "God Bless Us, Everyone!"

Here's to hope for the coming year. Here's to stopping the bickering over the small stuff and focusing on the big challenges that we all face. Here's to equality for ALL. Here's to making and spending time with those we love and care about.

Please have a happy and safe New Year, my friends.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Not a creature was stirring.....

Welcome to my Central Florida taken December 2009 The temperature is about 70 degrees and raining off and on. Who would believe it is Christmas day. Certainly not you folks dealing with freezing temperatures, snow and travel delays at the airport due to the weather problems.
The last several days I have taken several photos out in my garden. This is the time of the year that those of us who reside in Central Florida can brag & rub it in about our great climate.
The birds & even the butterflies love to stop in and visit the watering hole.
They have to have choices of places to hang out.
This plant I purchased at the farmer's market in Port Saint Lucie just because I liked it. I don't even know what it is called, but it is looking great.
My very small little water feature.
My African Violets on my patio are loving this cooler weather and flowering abundantly.
The double purple trumpet is one of my favorite flowers. At the center-lower side of the photo you can see a "seed pod" forming. I have collected several to start new plants with.
Some holiday decorations sit among my plants. This Santa relaxes among some Orchids.
Another bird feeder amongst the plants. Red Bird, Cacto Cardenal just behind it.
Finally the flower! I have been watching and photographing this very interesting plant....Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri (donkey ears) for about 8 weeks since the formation of the first bud. This interesting plant has certainly proven itself to be a fun conversation piece in my yard. In another post, I will show through my photos the transformation to what it is today.....very fascinating.
An angel sits besides some variegated leaf Bromeliads.
Christmas Cactus, totally ignored most of the year are always a surprise when they burst into a beautiful flower right in time for the seasonal holiday. This one was buried on my patio where the squirrels could not get at them.
Just a closer view.
This Bromeliad was given to me by another Seminole County Master Gardener, and is obviously happy where I planted it in my yard.
One never can predict the surprises they come across in my yard!
I hope I did not bore you with my photos. I also hope the display of the wonders of mother nature will inspire others to go out in the yard. The pleasures and surprises are endless.
What ever holiday you choose to celebrate this holiday season.......I wish you the best.
And a happy, healthy and safe New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Managing Holiday Stress......

The holidays are here and 'tis the season to be merry'! Well, merry until the reality of all the the shopping, decorating, entertaining, cookies, eggnog and hors d'oeuvres hit! The weekend after Thanksgiving, my autumn wreaths were packed away and replaced by my Santa wreaths. A sign that the holidays are officially here. This year I will not be pressured to do more outdoor decorating than I want to. My simple front door wreaths shown here can convey a sense of celebration.
Don't take me wrong, I love the holidays, all of them. I love the decorations and am known for going beyond the normal with it, I love to get out the trees, I love the sparkle and glitter of it all and even the crowds in the malls. As you can see, I sort of blend the holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas......after all to me, they both represent family, friends, goodwill, peace and hope.
This year, I have decided to keep things simple. I will again put up my little kitchen tree, which several years ago was just that, the kitchen tree, then there was the formal living room tree, the fun family room tree, etc. I will decorate my mantle and put out some additional decorations....but this will be my year to keep things simple and manage typical holiday stress.
I am almost done with my gift shopping. I willl watch lots of the sappy holiday movies that are run pretty much 24/7, you know the ones that all have a predictable happy ending. I will experience more goodwill through my volunteering as time allows, and I will prioritize my time for what's important.
I will have more time to relax as well as take care of my garden. My vegetables in my square foot raised bed garden have more then tripled in size since they were first planted several weeks ago. This is my first attempt at raising vegetables for myself. As a Seminole County Master Gardener, I have worked on the Three Sisters Demonstration Garden at the Sanford Museum.
Here I am on Thanksgiving day cutting my red leaf lettuce to add to the salad. There really is nothing as good as fresh produce.
This photo of my Giant Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri, Donkey Ears, was taken on Thanksgiving day. It has been getting ready to bloom for about 4 weeks now. I have been taking photos every several days to document this wonder of nature. It appears that perhaps I will get the gift of full bloom in conjunction with the "wonders of the season".
I have decided that this holiday season I will set realistic expectations, develop creative ideas, initiate new traditions and activities, and overcome the holiday blues. Won't you join me to add sparkle and glitter to the holidays....whichever you believe in........creating new traditions that will bring memories for years to come.
My goal is to add a little peace and quiet to my holiday celebrations and make room for meaningful time with loved ones. How about you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. But I think Thanksgiving should be one of every kid's favorite holidays, other than maybe Halloween. Unfortunately, as so often happens in today's society, people forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving and the story behind the holiday. When thinking of this holiday meant for giving thanks, unfortunately many folks traditionally think of Thanksgiving week-end with "Black Friday" which is the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season. Please don't fall into that trap.

With Thanksgiving drawing near I am reminded how very blessed I am. I enjoy family, friends, my volunteer activities, my business and the many warm relationships I have formed through these activities. I hope you'll take a moment and reflect on the blessings in your own life. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is getting together with family and friends, and when that is not possible, reminiscing of the past Thanksgivings when I could.
When we count our many blessings;
It isn't hard to see
that life's most valued treasures
are the treasures that are free.
For it isn't what we own or buy
that signifies our wealth.
It's the special gifts that have no price
our family, friends and health.
Happy Thanksgiving to you ....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adult Sandbox????? Want to play?

My weekend project in the works.....
For some time now I have been contemplating doing a "raised bed garden". My problem was not how to do it, but how to make it happen, as I do not have the proper tools to build it nor the vehicle to get the necessary stuff home. Well that problem was worked out! Home Depot in Lake Mary, Florida was kind enough to offer to cut the pressure treated wood, drill the holes in it as necessary and put it together for me. All I needed to do was come up with a way to transport it home. My "full-service Mortgage Broker" and friend, Mickey from Thomas Mortgage, came to the rescue and offered to be my "Man with a truck". So, my bottomless box is ready for the next step. Materials needed: pressure treated boards 1-12 footer & 1-8 footer & a box of 3 inch screws for outdoors & this type of wood. Voila a 6 foot x 4 foot garden bed waiting to be filled. The moles in my yard actually did me a favor. Their underground tunnels made the ground really soft & it was easy to pull out & rake up all the grass in the no chemicals were needed to eliminate the grass.....and I could proceed. I blended a mixture of peat moss, perlite, potting soil and compost to fill the bed and to ensure a pest-free planting site to begin. The raised bed provides a neat garden- and an easy way to organize the garden. I will follow the Square-foot gardening technique thereby utilizing all available space. Rows are eliminated and each square foot of garden bears a harvest from 1 or more plants to maximize production. Because of my late start this season, I have started with planting transplants ready for the garden. They are 4-6 inches tall and have already grown several sets of true leaves.

So far I have planted: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Eggplant, Red leaf lettuce, Peppers, Parsley and Basil, with lots of room still for many more varieties of edible harvest.
As I do with most things, I over calculated the fill that I purchased and most likely have enough peat moss & perlite to fill raised garden bed # 2.....which may be my next project in the Spring.
On another note, in my back yard this week I experienced something which could have been really dangerous if I was outside when it happened. Actually I was at home in the house with all the doors and windows closed and heard and literally "felt" a crash. I looked out the front window but saw nothing. So I didn't think about it anymore until I went out in my back yard. This massive, about 20 foot long tree branch broke off and fell from my Oak tree. If I were outside at the time and got hit, it would not have been pretty. Something else to be thankful for this upcoming Thanksgiving.
Now I just have to figure out how to get it cut up and removed from my yard. Again, I never have the proper tools.
I really don't know what made this happen, the tree shows no signs of being stressed, rotten or dying. At the time this happened it was sunny out, no rain or lightning and no memorable winds. I guess the moral of this story is to always be careful of what might fall from the sky.
Watch for updates as my garden grows!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's about the kids....

I am talking about Halloween.....and it's about kids of all ages.

On Halloween afternoon, I dressed up my 3 Bichons in their costumes and visited Savannah Cove and Savannah Court in Maitland, Florida, an assisted living/nursing home facility. Andy, Niko and Charlie were the hit of the party and took turns on every bodies laps. They are cute especially dressed as a Pumpkin, Peter Pan, and the Devil..... Charlie of coarse. Two of my dogs were adopted from Small Paws Rescue, a rescue group for the Bichon Frise which I volunteer with. Check out the site, there are currently over 200 sweet Bichons up for adoption all over the country.
My boys know who to "kiss up to". Isn't it great that Halloween still brings out the kid in some of the senior residents? They had lots of fun dressing up.
Charlie the devil sitting on Pauline's lap. This is my mom who just turned 94 years old on Oct. 8th.
Everyone wanted me to get in a photo with my 3 boys........right, like that was going to be easy. I am the bumble bee in the center.
The residents just loved the dogs and asked so many questions about them.
Peter Pan and the Indian Bride.
Niko is a little ham.......
Sorry I have my day upside down! Afternoon 1st and now the morning.
In the morning it was off to the "Y" to work out....yes in of all ages. This is some of the Zumba Girls.
The kids were allowed to dress up in costume too!
Giselle and Anna, 2 of the instructors for Zumba at the Central Florida YMCA.
Count Dracula in the rear, front row Luciane, Saturday morning instructor at the Longwood "Y", Joyce S. and me the Bee.
More of my Halloween photos are posted on my face book page....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Donkey Ears, Life Plant

Donkey Ears, new resident on the funny farm....Look what's happening in my garden July 2009. This was the headline to my post when I acquired this odd plant this past July.
Just look how it has grown since. (Giant Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri) A really different looking plant was a recent find out in Mount Dora, Florida. Note the babies grow on the tips of the leaves. This plant was a perfect addition to my collection of "funny looking " plants....or out of the ordinary. When I researched this plant after I brought it home, I learned how interesting it really is. It forms a spike out of the center for the flower which is a beautiful-large bunch of bell-like flowers that attract Hummingbirds. I am looking forward to see this plant flower.
As promised this plant over the last few months has sent up a shoot almost 2 foot high. Because of its unique leaves, big flower stems, and its way of welcoming many hummingbirds, make Kalanchoe donkey ear top the lists of many succulent lovers. Young leaves of Kalanchoe donkey ear are light green or greenish white in color and become bigger with prominent mule spots as the plant grows. The leaves are shaped like a Donkey’s ear, thus it is commonly known as Donkey Ears. Kalanchoe donkey ear can reach a height of about 2 feet tall when it blooms producing showy drooping flowers with red and yellow colors.
Last week I started to notice that the new growth, had a different look. These are not additional leaves. My Donkey Ears plant is getting ready to burst into flower.
Look at those buds....getting ready to bloom into a major show-off plant. Now that it is budding and about to bloom, I continually walk past it when I'm outside in the yard just to see if the flowers have opened, I am like an expective mother!
Stay tuned in for more to follow....................

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall arrives to Florida....with a big welcome!

The temperature here in Central Florida today is a high of 72 degrees with blue skies and a humidity level at 47........and much welcomed.

This is the reason we live here in Florida. But we must learn to appreciate this wonderful weather knowing that it can change at any time. We just finished up I hope, a very long, very dry, very hot and unbearable humid summer. So this morning, I hung my fall wreaths on my front door indicating the arrival of fall.
These photos demonstrate the "fall" images that I remember as fall arrived in New York and Georgia where I lived, in years before moving in Florida. I do really miss those incredible pieces of art done by famous artist......Mother Nature!

As I pull out my pumpkins, scarecrows and other obvious fall decorations from their cartons in the basements, I can remember all the wonderful and the obvious signs of the season.
• Red, orange, and yellow leaves out there on the ground. • A rake to rake the leaves into piles.
• Piles of leaves in the yard to jump in. • Acorns hiding in the grass. • Pumpkins ready to become jack-o-lanterns. • Trees with bare branches and no leaves left on them. • Candy corn at the grocery store. • Lots of apples at the market to buy. Frost on the window when I got up in the morning. • Squirrels collecting nuts and acorns to store for winter..........followed by the arrival of winter, the holidays and snow.
Change is Happening! Seasonal change is happening in lots of different ways all across the globe. Think about what clues in your home town tell you that a new season is approaching? Look, smell, feel, and listen carefully.

I remember well being bundled in a hooded sweatshirt and clutching a steaming mug of coffee, or hot chocolate. Fall is definitely here - dreary and chilly or crisp and sunny, it doesn't matter - I am in love with this time of year.
I think I will just grab a book, a beverage and sit on my porch and enjoy it. For you Northerners struggling with the cold, rain, dark skies, snow and slush.......can you see yourself here?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh what a day........

Where were you 15 years ago on October 15th? Do you think you are seeing double? My brides..... Denise and Carrie.

Back in 1994 when Carrie told me she and Brian were going to get married, I suggested to Denise that if she & John were planning to do the same in the same time period to please consider a double wedding........and a double wedding we had.

October 15, 1994, two brides, two grooms.......and three families brought together for the 1st time, the night they were wed.
"The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman!"

Happy 15th. Anniversary.....
Denise & John and Carrie & Brian.

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.....and through everything else!
top row: Zachary, William, Scott and David; bottom row: Ariana and Nikalas
The production since that day.
(Grandchildren: the reward for not killing your kids!)
Congratulations......job well done! Always remember the romance......and the Fairy Tale will always continue.

Happy Anniversary.....15 years