Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Sunday, August 31, 2014

White After Labor Day??

I've always been told that you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day. I now wonder....where did that come from? I was reading about Labor Days past and found that after the civil war, many snobbish upper class women set down some silly rules about fashion. They wanted to be fashionable, and their choices in color would tell them who the people in the know really were. In those days when Sept. came, it might have been more sensible to wear white...because of the extreme heat and no air conditioning, but if you were in the suffered with heavy dark colors. White was for weddings, picnics, outdoor band concerts, and ice cream socials. Labor Day came into being in 1894 and society adopted this date to stop wearing white.

Not everyone followed this rule. Many women in society still wore white...rebels that they were. The famous fashion designer, Coco Chanel wore white year round. This rule was enforced by only a few hundred socialites, but by the 1950's women's magazines got the ball rolling, so to speak, and everyone started to follow.

Today pretty much anything goes, but wearing white after Labor Day is one rule that many adhere to....just because of some uppity women over 100 yrs ago.

I've never worn a lot of white. A pair of white pants, a pair of cropped pants.... is about all I can think of in my wardrobe. I've never liked white shoes. Except for white bucks and saddle shoes in the 1950's.....and then at that time....I followed the trends. After all everyone else had saddle shoes. To tell the truth, I didn't really like them....I would much rather wear a pair of penny loafers. 
So, this is a rule that is not hard for me to follow. 

Tomorrow we move the calendar ahead another month. Time is moving fast and before we know it Christmas will be upon us with all the preparations that holiday imposes on us. Let's try to breathe and relax and have a pleasant fall. The kids are back in school, the cicadas are buzzing, the leaves are falling, the gardens are less work, more time to sit on the porch, cider to sip, those delicious apple cider donuts are at the market, soon pumpkins and gourds at farm stands, fall festivals, comforters on the bed, a cozy fire in the fireplace. Oh, it's a lot to look forward to......but first....put those white shoes back in the closet. 


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Change is Good

Here's the new comforter that I ordered a while back. We have a king sized bed and now it looks huge in our bedroom. It's going to take some getting used to. It really looks like fall. We had an ecru summer weight down comforter on the bed... for the summer.The fabric on this new comforter is soft and not as shiny like the picture.The dust ruffle was a job to get on....had to be pinned all the way round with those little spiral pins that they used to use on doilies. I was afraid that the elastic would sag after a while. I opted for elastic...thinking that the mattress is too big and heavy for us to lift and put the other kind on. The cords from the wall lamps bother me now...I never noticed them until this picture. Someone asked to see the comforter...I can't remember I obliged.

Today is  a little cloudy. It looks like it could rain. I was going to go to the farmer's market, but then got caught up in bed I figured that the "good stuff" would be gone.

Speaking of the new you like new things? I takes me a while to adapt to it a new pair of shoes, bedding, a new handbag, new furniture arrangement, or even new foods. I can shop online everyday...almost buy things but then delete the order at the last minute. I was never like that before the age of online shopping.

Joe's class reunion is coming up this month. It's to be casual, but I wanted something new to wear. I can't tell you how many things I have almost bought online. I get reminders that I left something in my shopping cart often. You'd think that I was dining at the White House.. for heaven's sake. It's casual!!! I have any number of things in my closet that are suitable....these people haven't seen any of them....but I have... and I felt that I needed something new.

(Here we go from clothing to kale.) Kale is another example. I want to like kale. I know how good it is for me......but I can't get used to the taste or texture. I bought a "new" salad in a bag. It has kale, cabbage, broccoli, carrots etc. A healthy mix. I really don't like it. Joe wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. So, there it sat in the fridge. It's old now and this morning I had to toss a half bag of it.

New birdseed is another thing. I usually buy sunflower seeds only. This week, I tried something new. A fruit and nut assortment. You should see the birds. I swear they are giving me the evil eye. They want the old familiar. The squirrel is the only happy one and the chipmunk of course. The birds will get used to it.

So, I guess at my age, it's time to try new things. I won't always like the new, but it's good for my mind to stay out of the to speak. The only thing that I don't have to get used to are new movies and books. I love to watch new movies and especially love to open a new book. The one I'm reading, Chasing Francis, is a great book. I can hardly put it down. I want to see what happens at the end...but I won't read the last chapter.

Well, this is the holiday weekend. I'm trying a "new" recipe for me. I found it at Jane's blog.... She made a tomato pizza thing that looked delicious. We'll give it a try.

Hey, new comforter, new book, new recipe, and a new outlook on change. How 'bout that?


Friday, August 29, 2014

Tea Chatter

Nice day for a cup of tea. Well, it's always a nice day for tea. As I was fixing my tea this morning, I thought of my Dad. He never really liked tea, but liked his coffee in a tea cup. He liked a thin cup...not a mug. Mom on the other hand... preferred mugs. I really have no preferance when it comes to coffee, but I do like a thin china cup for tea. Joe doesn't like tea and wants his coffee in an insulated container. He likes his coffee HOT! Back in the day, when I was working at the hospital, our coffee or tea would sit in our breakroom for sometimes an hour or so. It was cold most of the time. My old neighbors, the Raddes, drank tea in big mugs during their meals. Her mother was from England and taught that custom to her daughter, Ruth. When I ate with them....I really enjoyed having a hot cup of tea with the meal.


Summertime brings with it a desire for iced tea. I like iced coffee too. I have an iced tea maker, but I seldom use it just for me. I'll prepare a glass of Lipton's iced tea if I want it. 
I love the English custom of taking a tea break in the middle of the afternoon. I do this often, but without all the yummy things that the British have with their tea. Sometimes just a cookie or a slice of tea bread. Oh, I love tea breads. Zucchini, pumpkin, banana, any kind. 

All this talk of tea, brings me to my new book. I ordered a used book from amazon. It's the first in the Laura Child's tea shop mysteries. I'm not a big fan of mysteries usually, but this one caught my eye. I loved the cover. I am a tea lover and I am curious about this book. of my favorite teas, a recipe included...another plus, a pretty garden like cover, what more could there be....maybe a good story?? I'm saving it for winter, when I can sit in my chair...with my heated throw....while the snow flies....drinking my Darjeeling tea.... and reading this book. It almost makes me want winter to hurry. 
Back to reality.....I'm teasing...not really looking forward to winter, this book will be just on the front porch.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Should a Woods Be Tidy?

Wildflowers in the woods in late summer. Yesterday, I was searching for wildflowers. My little woods is not as tidy as it once was......but should a woods be tidy? Here is an article that I read just this morning...hope you enjoy it.

A landowner once phoned to ask me to visit his property to see all the good work he’d done extending his landscaping efforts from his yard into the surrounding woods. He was pleased with his work and eager for the county forester to see how well he had “cleaned up the woods” and “improved the health” of those woods by removing and chipping or burning all that “ugly dead and rotting stuff.” He thought maybe we could use it as a demonstration site for his neighbors. So I went.
And sure enough that landowner had, indeed, made some dramatic changes to a few acres of woods bordering his well-manicured yard. But I was considerably less enthusiastic than he was, and I was at a loss for a gentle way to explain to him that his “tidying” had done nothing to improve the health of his woods – that, in fact, he may have done some real damage to its health. As he showed me around from stump to branch scar, noting with pride how easy it was to walk and see through these woods now, I didn’t know how to say, “Well sure, but now there’s so much less to see.” All I could muster was a head nod here and an “I see” there. Then he gave me my big opening.
He told me that before doing all this work he used to see woodpeckers and warblers in the woods, but not anymore. This man truly valued the woods, and he enjoyed working in them – with the best of intentions – but somehow had failed to recognize the full value of all that so-called mess. He had missed the connection between dead trees and woodpecker food, between a dense shrub layer and nest sites for black-throated blues.  The conversation that followed wasn’t necessarily easy, but now it at least had a new context; he could see his woods in a new light. And by the end of our walk, he had a different work plan for the bit of woods he’d yet to work on the other side of his house.
If your only interest is in the neat and tidy, and you just can’t abide a natural mess, there’s really no argument. You certainly are free to “clean up” those woods. But if you’re interested in the health of the land, too, and if your aesthetic sensibility has room for a bit of death, decay, and disarray, then you’ll be glad to know there is a way to have it both ways.
It’s a matter of blending forestry with traditional landscaping. This sort of management hybrid is sometimes called woodscaping. It incorporates an understanding of forest ecology – a sense of how the forest functions fully – into landscaping activities. It stresses values like species diversity, the importance of retaining some dead and dying trees, and the need to keep vegetation in several vertical layers instead of just one canopy level. It is particularly effective when applied in those transition zones between a traditionally landscaped yard and the woods beyond. Yes, of course it’s nice to see into the woods from the yard, and there’s nothing wrong with cutting some understory vegetation or pruning some dead branches or even removing a particularly messy tangle of downed woody debris – all of which may be obstructing your view or your walk from your yard into your woods. You just try to leave some of these things, recognizing that they are all part of a healthy forest.
This hybrid approach can involve all kinds of management activities; the possibilities are nearly endless. It includes thinning to remove diseased or unsightly trees and enhance the growth of remaining specimen trees. Or perhaps pruning some branches to improve sight lines and tree stem quality. Removed vegetation might then be lopped and scattered neatly on the forest floor. This is important for moisture retention, nutrient cycling, and habitat enhancement for many insects, amphibians, and mammals and is far healthier than burning and chipping. Woodscaping might also include planting trees and shrubs to add diversity or visual appeal. It might mean not weed whacking a patch of ferns or not brush hogging an area of whips and brambles.
This modified landscaping approach can involve any or all such activities, but it does so with an attitude. It is an attitude of understanding – or at least a desire to understand – that your woods, even at the yard’s edge, are more than something you look at. They are living communities of creatures each playing important – if sometimes unknown – roles with far-reaching implications for land health in your yard and beyond. These places don’t have to be neat and tidy to be healthy.

Michael Snyder is the Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Surprise in the Woods and Fall Projects

Look what I found in the woods! A Jack in the Pulpit. The ground here was really dry until we got the rain the other day. I was searching around for any plants that came up from my wildflower seed scattered last fall. This little treasure was behind my red bud tree. I seldom go behind the tree, so it was a perfect spot for this little thing to grow this year.Undisturbed and all alone. I wish I'd seen it earlier....when it was still growing. I'm just leaving this space alone...hoping that they spread. Do you see that little patch of sunlight? That's about all the sun this plant gets in a day. The seed is turning red and will soon be all red. I had transplanted a Jack years ago, from Joe's son's house. It was planted back farther in the woods. I moved it a couple of times and think that this one is from that original plant.

It looks so pretty here....the green is back in the lawns. What 2 inches of rain can do.

Mums are being sold at our grocery. The front of the store is solid yellow. I think it's a bit early to buy any....they won't last very long in this heat that we're having. 

Today promises to be a little cooler. Joe is going to the shooting range, so I'm on my own this morning. I have so many projects fall decorating, changing the kitchen counter, getting houseplants ready for fall and winter, but the one I think I'll do is to work on some felt projects. I have two little critters to finish before I start on two more. They are adding up....I guess maybe three more months of this project. My little Christmas tree will take on a brand new look with all the little "felties" on it. I got a used book in the mail that has many felt projects in it. One is a sweet tiny teddy bear. I may make that to include in our new great grand daughter's gift. She hasn't been born yet....but in a month we will finally meet her.

I'm really enjoying the book Chasing Francis...I may just sit and read :)

So, I'm going to go out and walk around the yard first see what is blooming. Have a wonderful day....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Storm Clouds and Me

All of these pictures were taken here yesterday.

Here's what's been going on in our "neck of the woods." Yesterday we had scary cloud formations. Shelf or wall clouds.... either one is enough to send me inside and maybe to the basement. I got a weather alert that a shelf cloud was approaching our area this morning again. I went out on the deck to tie up my big wind chimes and saw one forming to the east of us. We are cloudy and windy here, but not a storm yet.

 I remember the first time I saw a wall cloud. I was visiting my daughter in Houston and my flight was about to leave from the airport to take me back to Illinois. The flight was delayed for a time.
 We were able to board the plane and the pilot said that we would try to get out of there before the storm hit. I was a little nervous to say the least. 
 Once we were in the air the pilot spoke again. He told us to remain calm....that he would get us out of there safely. He told us to look below on the left side of the plane. He said that he had originally planned to take us where that cloud was, but now he would go above it. We fastened our seat belts and prepared for a bumpy ride.
The turbulence was terrible and everyone in the cabin was white knuckling it. When we landed at O'Hare....everyone applauded the pilot and crew. I entered the airport seeing my worried husband and son waiting for me. When I got home, I had to make a couple of calls to daughter and my folks. They were terrified here at home...seeing this monster storm on the TV.
I haven't experienced anything like that since then, but now I know what a wall cloud is and I am much more mindful of this kind of storm.
Well, our weather radio is telling of a storm approaching our county. Time for me to shut off the computer and watch the skies for a while.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Geraniums and Guy Wolff

I woke early this morning to a foggy, damp morning. I opened the sliding door and the moisture hit me in the face. Enough humidity to make my straight hair curl. It's supposed to be very hot today here in N. Illinois. Inside work for me today.

Yesterday, early...I was out cutting the geraniums that had been damaged by the heavy rains. So strange, a few days ago these were a mass of red and now a mass of green. The leaves are pretty and will look nice until the flowers start blooming again. There are lots of buds there already. I gave these a shot of fertilizer...the last for this summer, hoping that we would get a lot of color going into fall.

I took the lawn cart around the house and cut a few dead flowers and did some tidying up. The stack n grow, on the deck is looking rather I gave all the flowers a haircut. Thinking I could help it rejuvenate for the fall. I almost pulled the plants out of the planter, but remembered past falls, when I wished that I had left some of the tired containers for fall color.

The tomatoes are coming nicely now and we have a couple for every dinner. The lettuce has just bolted, so I pulled it out.

I'm going to keep two geraniums through the winter, in a couple of clay pots... in the south window right next to my computer desk.  They are in the hanging basket that my daughter gave me. The blooms are huge and have bloomed non stop all summer. There are just two, so that way I won't have to disturb the big planters by the drive. The hanging basket has lots of flowers in it and it has done better than any I've had. The two clay pots are made by Guy Wolff. Here's a bit of info on him....

If you mention Guy Wolff to a serious gardener, that gardener will almost certainly admit to either owning a Guy Wolff flowerpot or coveting one. Wolff’s pots—some small and perfect for a sunny windowsill, others massive and just right for a favorite outdoor spot—are widely considered to be the epitome of garden ware. Their classical proportions, simple decoration, and the marks of Wolff’s hands all combine to make plants look their best. His pots possess an honesty and liveliness that machine-made flowerpots lack.

Wolff is probably the best-known potter working in the United States today. In gardening circles, he is a highly revered horticultural icon; gardeners flock to his lectures and demonstrations. His work also appeals to lovers of design and fine arts: visit the personal gardens of landscape designers, and you will see Guy Wolff pots. Step inside the gates of estate gardens, and you will see Guy Wolff pots. Yet he is a potter’s potter. He’s a big ware thrower, a skill few have today. He thinks deeply about what he calls the architecture of pots and the importance of handmade objects in our lives.

I have four of his pots and wouldn't think of using them outside. I like the rustic look of them on a window sill. My favorite is a clay pot with a geranium. 
Well, I'm going to venture out to take some pictures...once the sun starts shining. A hot day to find things to do inside.
Have a nice day today,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Grotto 2014

I thought being a Sunday morning...I would show the Grotto at our Church. As you probably know, Joe built the Grotto. It was his idea and he drew up the plans, took his plan to an architect, hired the workers, and supervised the building several years ago. He was there for every aspect of the building....from the ground up. I posted pictures as the building progressed.  We visit the Grotto often and when his family was here this summer...we took them over to show them the families names on the pavers. There's a new name there this year. My son Tim's name is on one of the pavers. His paver is in the section where my family's names are.  

 The Grotto has developed into a beautiful spot for people from our Church and anyone who would like to stop and pray, meditate, or just take time out from our busy world to rest. It's a favorite place for wedding pictures, confirmation, baptisms, graduations etc. I helped with the selection and planting around the Grotto. The plantings have thrived with the care of volunteers who water and weed weekly.
 In this picture, you see Joe on the bench with his family around. 
 More of the pretty flowers blooming. The volunteers do a great job. 
 This is a view from the back. Tall grasses were planted a couple of years ago. This year there were no annuals planted....the perennials have filled in so it wasn't necessary to have annuals. This resulted in less watering for the volunteers. The landscape company that takes care of the Church grounds, keeps it mulched and the evergreens trimmed.

I just happen to think that our Church grounds are beautiful. Everything is manicured and such wonderful care is taken with each area. The gardens change with the seasons. 
This year the Church will celebrate with an old fashioned picnic on the grounds.  In the past the picnic has been held at parks and forest preserves.  I can remember, in my lifetime, Church picnics were always on the Church grounds....with a pot luck meal.  Father Barch and his committee have planned a picnic that will entertain the kids and older folks alike. Lots of good food. We hope to have a big crowd. 
 The Grotto is pretty spot to visit....the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is standing there overlooking this garden. Little children leave small bouquets and trinkets on the ledge where the statue sits. Sometimes a coin or two will appear. We leave their little contributions there. Maybe a few attending the picnic will stop at the Grotto for a few minutes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Books are Delivered

I took all the books to the library today. They were thrilled with them. I asked if they accepted books and how it worked. They told me that they check the shelves and see if they have the particular book and if they don't they put it on the shelf. The other books are used to sell on their used books make money for the library. It made me feel good that someone will be getting some use out of these and that they aren't here gathering dust.

We went to the pool and now we have a week off from swimming. They clean the pool and make some changes for fall and winter this next week. We will miss going...Joe suggested that we do our "chair exercises" here at home next week.

It's really hot today...we haven't had much hot weather, so it's a change for us. We had heavy rain night before last...2 inches. The tidy geraniums in the big containers look like they went through a war. All of the petals are off the flowers. I'm going out in the morning to cut the flowers off and fertilize them for a last time. They are looked so pretty....I hated to see them like this.

We had a tuna casserole and sliced tomatoes for dinner today. Tonight we'll probably have sweet corn while we watch TV. 
I'm going to try to get to the farmer's market tomorrow morning.

Next thing on my to do list to get my books together for reading this winter. I have a stack and they are just sitting on the shelf. Making this list out really helped. I just check things off the list as I go and don't forget anything.

We'll probably be inside this weekend. It's supposed to be hot and I want to plan some cool weather meals. I have a couple of my felt critters to finish and I am continuing to get "fall" out in the house.

Have a nice evening.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


What do you do on a rainy day? We've only had a few rainy days, so today while the gardens were getting a drink I got busy inside.
We all have cookbooks...right? I have too many. I've found in the past few years, that I will google a recipe rather than search through my cookbooks and recipe cards. At the beginning of the year, I said that I was going to try to simplify different things in my life. I have all my cookbooks in a bookcase in the dining room. It's sort of a catchall. I don't take the time to put the books away neatly...many of them have papers and magazine articles sticking out of them....things I'm sure that I want to keep. I looked at that messy bookshelf and made a decision. As much as I have loved my cookbook collection through the years, it's time to share with others. I went through the books and took the papers out of them. Then I got a couple of library tote bags and started putting the books that I don't use in them. I had two tote bags full, when I was finished with that job. I put the books that I use all the time on the top shelf, the next shelf holds books that have been gifts to me and my mother's old cookbooks. I have a section for just holiday cookbooks and a place for 10 yrs of Vegetarian Times magazines. It is so much more more searching through so many to find a recipe. Then as I looked across the room, I saw my recipe boxes. One long box holds my mother's recipe cards, one long one holds my mother in law's, and the last jam packed with cards crammed in holds my recipes. I decided to clean house here too. I sat with a glass of iced tea this afternoon and went through all of my recipes. I tossed the ones that I have never used, tossed the ones that are so rich and unhealthy for us, since marrying Joe....I tossed ones that he wouldn't like (he eats just about everything) I kept the old favorites, stained cards that were in my mom's handwriting, the ones with my mother in laws handwriting were kept too, the ones from my high school, a few from my kids school, and many from my that I liked. I don't bake as much as I used to, so I tossed lots of recipe cards for baked things.I didn't do my mom's or mom in laws boxes. They are both neat and tidy. I'll be glad to hand them all down to my family...when the time comes. 
I finished just in time to watch the news. The iced tea was refilled and I feel like I really accomplished something. No drawers with recipes  haphazardly tossed in, no recipes that I haven't tried, and no recipes that one or the other of us wouldn't like.
I have the two totes ready to go to the library for their sale shelves. They sell used books for a small amt. and use the money for library projects. I had eight or ten years of Cook' Illustrated and the Pillsbury magazines....they are tied and will be given away.
I just did a job that I have been meaning to do for ever. I will know that I can find a recipe more quickly now.
I have read that having drawers full of junk, a messy basement or closet, a messy garage etc. can weigh on us and cause stress. Here's something that I read recently.
  1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.
  2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
  4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
  5. Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
  6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt ("I should be more organized") and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
  7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
  8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the "pile" or keys swallowed up by the clutter) 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Drake is Four Years Old Today

Couldn't let the day go by without wishing our great grandson, Drake a happy 4th birthday. We celebrated a little early with a party at his home. The party was a great success, with Dave's famous pulled pork sandwiches and Ashley's creative decorations and birthday cupcakes. It was all Ninja Turtles this year. Turtles everywhere.

Such a sweet boy....sitting there carefully opening all the gifts. A thank you and hug for each person.... as he opened their gift to him.They had the pool filled and being a warm day...the kids all enjoyed it.

Here he is this morning, wearing his daddy's hat. He's growing so fast...we can hardly believe that he's the same little baby that we cuddled a few years ago. Drake is getting a new baby sister in Sept.  He's really excited about this. He even helped paint the baby's room. I know that this little charmer is going to be the perfect "big brother" 

Summer Salads

We've been eating corn on the cob almost everyday. It tastes so good right now. Soon, it will be gone and that's why we eat it as much as we can right now. I either boil it or microwave it. Either way, it's delicious. I can remember years ago, visiting my grandparents at supper time. They would have a dozen ears on a platter with sliced tomatoes and homemade bread. Here they were...just two old people eating this simple supper. They always used real butter for the bread and corn. Mmmmmm....I can just taste it now.

I was introduced to shoepeg corn just a few years ago. I had never heard of it until some garden club members were talking about a new salad recipe that was making the rounds. I made it and we really enjoyed it. I used to have a little dish in the evening while watching TV. It keeps so well.Here's a tasty salad that you can have year round. Here's the recipe. 
16 oz. can shoepeg corn
16 oz. can baby peas
16 oz. can french cut gr. beans
sm jar pimentos
chopped scallions
1 gr pepper chopped
a little chopped celery

Apple cider vinegar 3/4 cup
salad oil 1/2 cup
1 cup sugar
Salt and pepper
pinch of celery seed

Bring this to a boil, cool, and dress salad. Keeps for a long time in the fridge.

This is a salad that I love. I mix all kinds of different beans, chopped tomatoes, black olives, celery, onions, cilantro, parsley, green pepper. Last time I added a couple handfuls of fresh corn and some bow tie pasta. We buy the Olive Garden Italian dressing from Sam's Club. It's a wonderful tasting vinaigrette. I use it on so many things...including marinades for meats. 

I always hate to see summer end, because we don't have the fresh veggies for this tasty salad. It's almost a meal...if you serve with a cup of soup and some crusty bread. Oh, I'm getting hungry right now. We've just come home from the pool and I am always starved after that. We try to not stop at fast food places after the pool. 
Today and the following days through the weekend promise to be scorchers. A nice salad is just what the doctor ordered. 

I had two recipes for this salad. I gave the recipe for the salad dressing that I didn't like....I just corrected it..Sorry!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday....Waiting for Rain

This was my stack n' grow a couple of days ago. The petunias look great, but more work than I had planned to keep them looking this way.

I slept well last night. So well that I thought I might have missed the predicted rain :) I got up at 5 and looked out the deck door....nothing was wet, although it was a bit foggy. I was so disappointed. Our new weather man said that it would rain for sure during the night. Couldn't miss us. Well, it did. 
I am refinishing the table where we eat. Well, sort of refinishing. I read on FB that you can use 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil mixed together to make scratches and blemishes less noticeable. I rubbed this mixture onto the table with a soft cloth and let it sit for a couple of hours. Then I buffed it with another cloth. It looked pretty good. When I got up this morning there were two spots that were still noticeable. So, I took some artist's oils the color of the table and dabbed the spots with the paint. Now, I'll let it dry and do the oil and vinegar thing again tomorrow. I feel that it can't hurt and it definitely looks better than when I started. 
I thawed a chicken for dinner and then decided to go outside and give everything a good watering. I pulled the lawn cart as I went a watering...Hi Ho Hi's off to work I go...I hummed this as I went. An hour and a half later, I'm back where I started. A full lawn cart with trimmings and weeds.....and one tired lady. Now as I sit here, it looks like it will rain. Good.....there's nothing like a good rain.
I'm going to search for a recipe for that that it can cook while I get my hair cut this morning. Maybe I'll use one of those cooking bags...I'll let you know if it turns out.
People seem to be not blogging so much lately. I don't know if it's because they can't think of another thing to say about their gardens or if it's the late summer doldrums. Kids are back in school, moms are pooped, visions of Christmas are in the back of their heads, fall house cleaning, or just plain boredom with blogging. Pretty soon, we will be blogging about every little thing in the house. Now, we are outside and should have so much more to blog about. So, if you think that your blog is getting repetitious, think again. You may be the bright spot in some one's day. 

Back again....
That rain never came. So glad I watered everything. I haven't watered anything in the back yard this summer until now.
The chicken dish was good. I put seasoned cut up potatoes, carrots, onions in an oven bag and then topped with a cut up chicken. I had seasoned the chicken real well with paprika (for color) garlic powder, seasoned salt and lots of pepper.I added 1/2 cup of chicken broth, careful to not pour it on the chicken.  I fastened the bag... that was in a 13x9 heavy casserole and put it in the oven at 350 for 2 hours. That and an ear of corn was our meal this afternoon. I have had great success with these bags. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

That Nesting Feeling

The pods from the Purple Hyacinth Bean look brighter with the bright sun on them. They are actually darker than the picture shows. Love this well behaved vine. Makes me think of behavior in the garden. Some plants are docile and will fit in where ever you put them.....and then there are the bullies, who take over everything. Geraniums are one of the ones who behave. They grow larger, but they don't take over. In fact, if they are placed in a planter with some bullies....they stay small and may stop blooming. I have chocolate ajuga growing as a border for my herb garden. When I was planting it, my friend said that I might not like it. It's not quite a can be easily pulled out...I do like the way it grows and fills in. I wouldn't call Black Eyed Susans a bully either....though they pop up everywhere in my yard. Docile or bully....there's room for them all in my yard.
 The schedule at the pool has changed and we won't be going this morning. We'll have to do some arranging to get our three times in this week.
Yesterday I spent a big portion of my day in the kitchen preparing food. I started out making muffins and ended up making our dinner. I thought about a different way of doing things when it comes to food prep after I looked at this.....
Why not spend a few hours....4 or 5 days a month doing all the prep work and then freezing the food in baggies?So many things that I make start out by browning onions, peppers, carrots etc. If I had those handy...already done and would make less work for me. We already portion out our meat that way, so the meat thaws quickly. This gal baked a bag of potatoes and then made twice baked potatoes and wrapped them for the freezer. A great idea I think. I've had good luck doing this with a few. I wrap them in saran, foil and then put them in a plastic container. They are so fresh, when they come'd never know they had been frozen. Right now, corn is available. Cut the corn off the cobs and put in plastic baggies to fix during the winter. I have breads and muffins in the freezer from baking days. A huge batch of spaghetti sauce in the crockpot and portioned out in containers. I already do this with soups. We love homemade soup and the recipes always make so the excess goes in the freezer. I have two freezers downstairs. A chest freezer and a side by side. I'm going to make some changes for meats and other big things and the side by side for things prepped for meals. I don't know about you, but often I want to have something for dinner, but I don't make it because of all the prep work involved. I simply make something easier and less time consuming. I'll give it a try.
I ordered a new comforter and shams for our bed last week. I'm anxious to get it. It's in a patchwork pattern with jewel burgundy, golds etc. It's going to be a change from the off white comforter that is there now for the summer. I'll show it when it comes. Fall is coming fast and I am getting that "nesting" feeling. 
How about you?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Standing Out in a Crowd

One mighty sunflower in amongst the Black Eyed Susans. I have several sunflowers in my yard, that I didn't plant. When they got pretty big....I just let them go. This one was a surprise Standing out from all the other yellows. Reminds me of a quote....

I heard those... almost same words from my parents all through school. I remember saying that I wanted to do something that my friends were doing. My mom would say, "If they all jumped off the bridge...will you follow?" It used to make me angry when she said this.....but then years later I found myself saying much the same thing. I tried my best to teach my kids about not always following the crowd. They turned out to be individuals. All three....very different, but at the same time similar. I love conversations with them.....hearing their viewpoints on things.

Today would have been my oldest son, Tim's 57th birthday. We miss him terribly and for me, his Mom, that will go on for the rest of my life. I think of him every day. When I'm  in my garden full of little critters, when I hear about a gifted program at school, dogs with nail polish, beautiful waters to fish in, German chocolate cake... like he made for my birthday, a turkey that needed carving and no sharp knives, Korean food, medicine brought to me during the night, bee stings, teasing, an old Mustang,and the bird book.
He left us with so many good... fun memories :) 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What We Watched Last Night

We watched The Dead Poets Society again last night. What a wonderful movie in which to remember Robin Williams. I won't tell the story, but take a couple of hours and watch this film. Watch it again, if you've seen it before. Robin Williams was brilliant. You will find out why these boys are standing on their desks. I read that people all over the world were standing on their desks... the day after he died.
 The quote below says it all. We all have our own thoughts about things....they are uniquely ours. In order to be truly happy in the world, we must be able to voice our own unique it about politics, religion, and just everyday life in general. 
 Words can change the world. Look at the wonderful words we have heard from people in history...FDR, JFK, Pope John Paul, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, the dying Professor Randy Pausch, Bill and Melinda Gates, and yes our current president. These are some of the first ones who come to mind. They all have had a part in trying to change our world.
 With all the(what we think) important pursuits in life....we have, poetry, romance and love. We couldn't exist without these things. 
 Finally, what the movie is all about. We have free will....we can choose what path we will follow. We might awaken with this thought in our head....I'm going to make my life extraordinary today. 

Wouldn't life be grand if everyone felt this way? Robin Williams made life fun, but he also made us think. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15...a Special Day

Well, here it is August 15, 2014 and my grandson Tyler is 19 yrs old today. Tyler is the first one on the lower left. Seeing him in this picture takes me back several years, when he was born. Our kids were having a baby and it was to be a boy. We already had two little grand daughter's, so this was something new. I remember the day, like it was yesterday. We got the word that he was here and we left for the hospital. Visiting a new born in the hospital was new to us, as there had never been visitors allowed on the maternity floor before. We had a gift, balloons, and proud grandparents were presented with grandparent badges. I still have mine. I'm still a proud grandma as the badge says.
Little did I know what wonder this little guy would bring. When I heard that Tyler would be left in the First Card nursery day care, while Karen and John worked didn't take but a minute for me to say that I'd like to take care of him. So, every morning, they would come to my door with this little bundle of joy. We had so much fun in those five years. A calm came over me that had never happened before. He taught me patience, a curiosity of nature, and how it felt to be loved by a grandchild. His little brother, Collin, came along a couple of years later and he came to grandma and grandpa's too. Two special little grandsons. Their grandpa would come home for lunch, just to be able to help out and see them and have lunch together. Neighbors would stop in to just watch the goings on in my house...sometimes holding a baby while I took care of another one.  I thought as long as I was caring for these two...maybe I could help some mom's out in my community and I took on a few more little ones. They were all under the age of five....two newborns at one time.  Our house was a rollicking fun place to be in those years. Days of animal crackers, Disney, Blue's Clues, Teletubbies, diaper changing...oh many, many diapers, potty training, we all got colds together, walks like a caravan to the park, nature hikes along the alleyway, little pebbles in pockets, bugs, jello jigglers, mac and cheese, juice boxes, and baby bottles. I had a twin stroller, where I put two little guys, Collin in a carrier on my back and a couple little ones walking by the stroller. 
I had the patience of a Saint....I can proudly say that I never raised my voice, you have to remember most of them were babies. Tyler taught me that patience from the very first time I took care of him. I looked at his little face and melted.
I sometimes miss those days of child care...but I know that I couldn't do that anymore. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. I developed a sweet relationship with my grandsons.

Tyler to me was a wonderful little boy....he's still wonderful.
Love you Tyler...Grandma

Tyler has been in the group Project Two since Jr. High School. They have grown into a very popular singing group...maturing as the years have gone by. They are college kids now, but still get together every chance they get to put on a show. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Saw Something in the Woods

I felt like a spy...peeking through the bushes, so to speak.I'll tell you how it happened.
After working in the yard for a long time...I sat on my bench in front of the woods border. I usually sit there in total silence...not moving if I can help it. I like to give the little woodland creatures time to adapt to a giant in their midst. So, on this particular day, several birds made their appearance. Orioles, finches, cardinals male and female, chickadees to name a few. I watched a white moth floating above the greenery. As I followed this winged beauty, I glanced to my left and spotted something I hadn't seen before. Could it be them? Back behind the green border...through a little clearing in the lilac branches...there they Resurrection lilies that I had planted a few years ago. At that time the woods canopy was higher and the planting spot was front and center. Now, after planting the lilac, Korean Spice Viburnum, and several other plants....they were hidden from me... behind everything. I haven't seen them bloom before. I just sat there and enjoyed seeing them. I have statues of the Saints in the woods, so I lovingly call it the Saints Woods. What flower could be more appropriate than Resurrection lilies? Can you see them there?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Changes in the Woods

The Woods, by Balisha 2009 after my brain surgery.

The woods were calling me one day..
The breeze was whispering to say.
Come back Balisha sit a while..
We want to see your happy smile.
I told the woods with such dismay..
We'd have to wait another day.
Till I am stronger and more fit..
To make the walk and then to sit.
The flowers nodded to me then..
The branches in the trees did bend.
The breeze blew soft at my reply..
I looked from far away and spied..
A teardrop welled up in my eye.
I love the woods.. oh I admit..
The bench is waiting for me to sit.

The wooded area is changing. With no care from me this year, other than planting a couple of bushes and two giant hostas, I can see the difference. When I used to work there, I trimmed branches up... above my that I could work there without branches poking me in the eye. With little or no care from me....they have all filled in and the canopy is lower.....almost touching the ground in places.
 I planted wild flower seeds along the front border last fall and in these pictures you can see some of the results. I wasn't going to do that this year, but I've since changed my mind. I'll do it one more year and hopefully more flowers will appear. I know that some take two years to maybe next year I'll see some more flowers.
 So far, I've seen phlox, black eyed susans, coreopsis, rudbekia, and lots of wild asters.
 I have to be so careful when weed whacking the border that I don't cut down some of the flowers.
 These yellow flowers are pretty much where the nepeta is planted. I didn't get the blue nepeta in this picture...but it's a pretty combination.
 Here you see the leaves of a little redbud tree that is just starting out.A hosta is hidden in the leaves and some coneflowers and phlox are crowding in.

 My statue of St Fiacre (the patron saint of gardening) is under a little maple, planted by me. It will have red leaves in the fall.
 More fragrant phlox and flea bane in this picture. I'm hoping that the phlox will multiply.
The cone flowers are both pink and white. I love the pink ones, but not so much the white ones.
All in all, I am pleased with the progress here. I think that I may trim away some of the green growth hanging down in the front. Things will show up better and the more sun I have there the better things will grow.
I have some other pictures for another post. I just looked back at how this all looked a few years ago and can't believe the changes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Man Who Made Me Laugh

We just lost one of our most brilliant people in Hollywood. Robin Williams was one of my favorites from the time I first saw him on Mork and Mindy. There was Mork in his rainbow suspenders on the small screen...making my family howl with laughter. He could make anyone laugh...a natural clown.
He was one of Hollywood's most liberal democrats. He raised millions of dollars for comic relief and St Jude's. He once said of his religion....that he was Episcopalian...same thing as Catholics but fewer guilts. He was a supporter of gay rights. He spoke out about controversial things and showed no fear of this harming his career. He had his problems and suffered through them from time to time. I always hoped that he would be successful in handling them. I don't often write a post about people in the limelight, but I just had to write this... about the man who made me laugh.

George Washington...The Gardener

What's going on at Mount Vernon right now? I visited there once and fell in love with George Washington's home. The gardens were so beautiful...and well kept. I bought a Blackberry lily plant to bring I would always remember my visit. 
I thought that I would order a few packets of seeds for planting next year, because I had been researching Mount Vernon on the internet and found that since the days of Geo. Washington...they have been collecting the seeds that they sell each year. When the first bulb fades in the spring, the work begins of starting their getting ready for fall jobs. Seed is collected from almost all the plants. George Washington was a seed saver and his tradition lives on at Mount Vernon. This is from an article about his seed saving...On October 26, 1786 Washington wrote in his diary, “Ordered a piece of ground to be prepared in the Neck on which to transplant Turneps for the purpose of saving seed,” On June 1, 1794 he wrote to his manager William Pearce about the White bent grass “the Seeds of which I sent you last Spring. Endeavor, however, to save all the Seed you can from it,” and again in 1794, August 10th writing to Pearce he wrote, “Desire the Gardener to save as much Seed as he can from the everlasting Pea, in the Vineyard.” Washington felt once you had acquired a plant you should never have to seek or buy it again.
The ladies organization from Mount Vernon have continued this to this day. Each year volunteers gather the dried plants and clean the seeds and what they don't use for Mount Vernon is packaged for sale. 
Right now, they are doing much the same as we are. In the coming weeks, the annuals will be pulled and perennials cut back or divided to keep things tidy. They will soon do the vegetable gardens in preparation for next season's gardens... and while doing so...they add compost. Everything is composted there. They have manure from their animals and tons of plant material.The kitchen gardens have been cultivated for 253 yrs. In the years of George Washington the food grown was for family and guests. Now it it donated to the food bank and their donations come to about 6000 lbs. of food per year.
I think this is so think that once, long ago, the president of our country was so involved in gardening. If I could pick one person in history to have a conversation with...hands down, my choice would be George Washington.

A Couple Emails from Joe

This from Joe this morning....Thought I'd share.

Frank,   ...  you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet?  What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago?   I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
Yes, Sir.
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life. 
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
And where do they get this mulch?
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

“Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It's a story about....
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.
Now this one is from him too....he thinks that maybe I need one of these for the woods.

We are going to the pool...more later today.