Monday, March 31, 2014

Topsy turvey --- updates

My world was rattled last week.
According to
we had 15 earthquakes of 2.5 or more magnitude in less than 24 hours.  I felt almost all of them.
Being a native Californian, the jolts and the rock and roll are not new to this girl.  I am, however, starting to wonder what is going on?

Then there is this, and this, and this.

The moonflower seeds that I started earlier this month...remember?  Well, of the 10 seeds I started, only 2 broke soil.  But the odd thing is that although the first set of leaves showed green, they just stopped growing.  They never opened.  They turned brown and died.
I am not a quitter! I started more seeds.  This time I did not "nick".  Daughter April suggested that nicking might remove "something important" needed for the success of the plant.  The theory sounds plausible.  (Still, the reality is that we have nicked moonflower seeds for years with fruition.)
I have started a new set of moonflower seeds the way a young child in school starts lima bean seeds.
They are in a cup with blotter paper and so far, so good.  They have grown healthy looking tap roots, and are getting lateral roots, and have opening leaves.  A couple days ago, I planted one in soil to see what will happen.  Fingers crossed.

I told you about the earwig traps.  They are working better than expected.
But there's the weird thing.
I have continued to empty the traps in the chicken yard.  Both hens had been gobbling up the scurrying bugs until a week ago.  Suddenly, Amelia, has become a vegetarian.  She is not in the least bit interested in the earwigs.
While Nellie continues to peck up the extra protein, Amelia is now content with strawberry tops and whole grain bread.  Did she read an article in the newspaper about the cruelty of earwig hunting or the benefits of a vegetarian diet? 

Amelia, in the back, reading a life altering story in the newspaper.

And then there's my mum's roses.
My mom died 8 yeas ago, and her roses have been pretty much neglected ever since.
Her once lush garden has been in steady decline.  The plants did receive water for many years, but my father no longer wants to pay for water for the garden.
The lawn is brown, the gazanias are barely hanging on around the perimeter of the parkway, and once abundant ferns and cascading baby tears have withered, crisped, flaked and blown away.  
Yet this spring, my mom's roses are more beautiful than since she tended them with her own hand.  They are large, perfect, and velvety. 

I was at my dad's today and I pilfered some of my mom's roses.
How wonderful to it is to have these roses in my house.  It is as though part of my mom is with me. What a calming presence when other things are 
thrown off balance.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Mantle

Spring Mantle....

*A garland from  This Etsy seller I had various styles of these glass garlands in my favorites on ESTY for a good year... Then one day I just cracked and bought it before I could talk myself out of it. I have never regretted that purchase. It's one of my favorite things. 

*A "Chocolate" bunny. It's ceramic but he looks so much like a chocolate bunny! And he holds candy inside. There was a decent sized earthquake here last night. Many of my friends who live close by lost things. I was certain this bunny was going to be broken. I was so happy when I arrived home and found him whole. This morning he got a good helping of earthquake gum to hold him in place. :)

*“Happily” on the chalkboard. Because yes, Happily. 

*Daffodils. About $1.00 at Trader Joes in the spring. I buy a bunch just about every time I go.

I love spring!!!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Repotting my water lilies

I have had a pond in my garden for over a decade, and love it. 
The sound of moving water, reflected sunlight on the water, fish, dragonflies,  and water plants, especially the water lilies, made me want to give the pond more space in our garden.
So what started as a 2 barrel pond, progressed to a barrel-and-in-the-ground pond in 2008.  A waterfall feature has been a part of both ponds.

I received a "Colorado" salmon pink hardy water lily for a gift in 2004.  It lived in the first barrel pond along with a couple gold fish. It was while in the barrel pond, that the lily survived its first raccoon raid.  Sadly, the fish didn't.
Raccoon attacks have continued through the years, in spite of wire covers to protect the plants and fish.
Raccoons are not laid back fishermen.  They ravage the plants, while chasing and catching the fish.  My water lily has survived these repeated assaults, even though its leaves have been shredded, and striped.

After having the lily for a few years, I had a lot of lovely water lily leaves floating on top of the water, but it had stopped blooming.

After reading an article (Pet Project by Robert Smaus 3-15-2007) in the L.A. Times 7 years ago about repotting the lily tubers, I started bringing my lilies up and out of the water once a year to shorten the tuber and roots, and to replace the soil in their pots.  Turns out, water lilies need this care in order to continue blooming.

For years I was nervous about cutting the tubers and roots.  But my lilies have responded, producing flowers all summer long, since I began making it a yearly job.  I am less hesitant about it all now, after many successful tuber splits, trims, and repots.

It is a muddy job, one requiring my garden apron, old clothes, and rubber gloves.  This apron was a gift from my friend over at  Thank you, Jen.

The roots have jumped this pot!  The plant is healthy and has divided in two. 
(The plant in the second pot, the white plastic dish pan, has died. This is the ups and downs of gardening.)

First I remove all the old leaves, leaving only the newest, still curled, leaves. 

After removing the lily from the pot, I cut the tuber leaving 
about 5" of the growing tip on each lily.  Next, I trim the roots, leaving about 6" in length and width. 
Using ordinary clay garden soil, not potting mix which is too light in weight and will float away in the water, I repot the trimmed lily in new soil, placing the tuber and root ball to one side of the pot.  I fertilize the plant with a high phosphorus food. (I continue fertilizing once a month during the spring and summer for continuous flowers.)

The pot needs to be replaced into the water in a timely manner, so the plant will not dry out.
It will bubble for 20-30 minutes while the trapped air escapes.  The pond may be cloudy for a day or so while everything settles back into place.

By the summer...

Oh, and I think we have finally found something heavy enough to keep the raccoons from fishing in the pond.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

a new purpose found...under the gazebo

posted by jennifer:

i am a collector or random objects.   if i am attracted to something it comes home with me... well, if it is to be had; if it is free or at least close to it; and if i can physically move it.

sometimes it is a leaf i found on the ground. 
sometimes it is a sweet score on some glasses from an estate sale.
sometimes it is a piece of rusty metal.

i was cleaning up under the gazebo and noticed that many objects that have found their home there are just this type of find.

that cool rusty ring?  it came out of the ocean in laguna beach.  i remember clearly the look on this woman's face as i took it out of the breakwater.  like she either thought i was stealing something...or that i was insane... i am not sure.

the stand that the metal star is hung on?  a garage sale 15 years or so ago.  i am sure i paid only $2.00 for it.  i think it was intended to be used for a bird cage.  

the glass light shades?  both garage sale scores.  all i did was added some wire and beads so that i could hang them.  they look great with a tealight added in the evening.

even the chairs were a sweet target 75% off clearance find.  i think i have had them for about 5 years. all i did was add some fabric to spruce them up.  the canvas was looking a little sad and washing wasn't doing the trick any longer. 

when they are all put together.... along with the apple crate table and the spray painted silver plated tray,  all of these random things come together quite nicely methinks.  

all that is missing is a refreshing drink.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family tree mural

Every family has one.
The preserver and curator of names, dates, stories, and photos.
The family historian.
An arborist...
the keeper of the family tree.

I started charting my family tree circa l982.  My paternal grandmother loved to tell stories about her childhood and her family. 
  I heard the stories, but I needed a chart to keep them all straight.
 I was in the full throngs of mamabrain at that point in my life, and I instinctively knew that I would never remember the names of my grandmother's 8 siblings, or the name of the town in Germany where my great grandfather was born, or much of anything else, if I didn't write it down.

I certainly didn't have much knowledge about making a genealogical chart. Never the less on recycled paper, in pencil, I started a makeshift chart with boxes and lines connecting people.
During the years, I added to this chart any new information I got through relatives.  The chart is mainly names, dates, and places.  But there is an occasional tidbit written such as, "named Bill, by father, because bills come in on the 1st of the month."  Bill was born on February 1st.
This was the beginning of my gathering and recording of family history. 

 At some point, I was inspired to paint a family tree on our hall wall. 
Again, I proceeded without much of a plan. 
The Duke of Earl and I are noted at the top of the trunk where the branches spread.  On bottom part of the tree, extended family is recorded. Our roots. The upward reaching branches are for our 4 children and their children.  God-willing I'll add some great-grandchildren up there, too, someday.

The tree is a jacaranda.  I had an aunt who visited us from England while the jacarandas were blooming and she absolutely loved them.  I wanted to honor my Auntie Jean's memory by painting jacaranda flowers around the trunk and branches.

Some in the family are not interested in their descendants.
Some are not interested in photos of their forerunners. And that's o.k. But word does get around about the "tree" in our hallway.   I see enthusiasm  whenever a member of the family checks the mural-tree for their name, or the name of a recent addition to the clan.  I like that they know they are an important part of a continuing epic story.

Because the tree is visible to every family member, it generates conversation.
I hear more stories, add new names, and correct mistakes as I go.  

The other reasons I like genealogy are:
I am naturally curious about things and I like to solve mysteries.  
I like restoring a forgotten ancestor to the family's conversation.
I like being a homework helper.
I like the link with the past, the present, and the future.
I like knowing what shaped my family.
I like that I am creating something important to pass on to future generations.

I have 3 file folders filed with various papers: documents, stories, newspaper articles, letters, and my original genealogical chart.  I just recently connected with a distant cousin and am inspired to get all the stories written to enrich  the names and dates I have. 
After all,
our ancestors are our history and I want to keep that circle of kinship vivid.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, March 14, 2014

a frugal and fabulous way to frame fine art

posted by jennifer:


about a year ago i found a fun way to frame art.  traditionally, when i have bought, or been gifted with art, i have had frames made.  while these are lovely, and i am perfectly happy with these frames... it is expensive.  like, way more than the prints themselves.   however, i usually don't like the empty frames available in the box stores.  so i would suck it up and pay up.

then, my beautiful sister bought me a print i had marked as a favorite on etsy.  it was done by artist cathy mcmurray.

i was struck with inspiration.  

i frequent estate sales.  years ago, i went to an estate sale where among other treasures, i found a old print in a great frame.  the picture itself, while nice, was a bit washed out, and it never made it up on my wall.  

i decided i would use the estate sale find as a mat and frame for my newly acquired art print. i loved the results.

and i probably paid one dollar for the frame with artwork at the estate sale.  

while i love my professionally framed art, i think that this one stands out from the rest.  my eyes are peeled for another vintage framed piece of art that i will have on hand the next time i need something framed.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

eek! Earwigs

To everything, turn, turn, turn,
There is a season and 
A purpose under heaven

To every garden, nibble, nibble, nibble,
There is a beastie and
a contest (organic) vying

Yes, every gardener has their own pests to challenge them.  To help keep their pride in check.  And somewhat like the raising of children, just when you think you have one dilemma figured out, a new struggle enters the scene, so too, it is with gardening.  Just when you have the slug problem under control, the earwigs enter stage left.

Gophers, deer, slugs, rats, bugs, beetles, skunks, mites, thrips, EARWIGS.
Creepy, pincer-tipped, swift moving, lettuce-potato-and kale eating earwigs are my current opponents.

How am I fighting for my leaves?  With newspaper, of course.  Rolled up newspaper.  But I don't use it to swat with, as when chasing a fly.  I place the loosely rolled tubes of newspaper on the ground among the delicious plants.  The earwigs think I have offered them snug housing and they hide out in the traps during the day.  I try to empty the traps each day.

Now fortunately for me, chickens look upon earwigs as tasty treats.  And by happy chance, I have 2 chickens.  When I arrive in the hen yard with a load of newspaper traps, Nellie and Amelia gather round.  One at a time, I unroll each temporary earwig apartment house.
The earwigs drop out of the sheets of newspaper and the chase is on.  Not a race between the earwigs and the hens...the earwigs don't have a's a competition between the girls.  Hens are very food driven.  And they have no manners when it comes to sharing.  They go crazy scurrying after the dashing insects, trying to catch more than their coop mate.  Sometimes Nellie pecks up more.  Sometimes Amelia is faster.
Watching the hens go after the earwigs is pure entertainment. The only thing funnier is when I catch and release, into the hen yard, a grasshopper.  
Go, Hens, Go!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

gifting your talent. part duex

posted by jennifer:

i tend to be that mother that doesn't accept the invitation to every party that my children... or myself for that matter are invited to.  for me it is probably due to being a touch of an introvert.  

as far as birthday party invitations for classmates, it is mostly due to the fact that i don't feel like a birthday party has to include everyone.  i think it is much more special if a child invites a few friends.  

that said, when my daughter maya was invited to a classmates birthday party, i told her mother yes,  we would be there.  maya has talked about this friend since day one of school.  i knew her brothers name, and what they played at recess...and i like the mom, which is a bonus methinks.

so, i checked my gift box... and didn't see anything that i thought was a good fit.  my first impulse was to go to target.  but then i thought to myself "jennifer, instead of spending $25 dollars at the store, make something woman!"

so i did.

i have been meaning to start making tote bags for the younger set.  mainly little girls, because, i am sorry, but they are funner to sew for.  at least that is the way my creative brain is wired.

this was a good kick in the pants, and i will be making more to list in my etsy shop  have you checked it out yet?? 

here's what i came up with.  it turned out so cute, and i don't think i would ever find a bag like this at target.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Intertwine with a Moonflower Vine

While many in the country are beginning to dream about spring, I am thinking about summer.  I love summer nights.  And sitting outside on our garden swing on a summer evening is one of my favorite things to do.  
The Duke of Earl and I like to watch our moonflowers unfurling in the afterglow of the day.  We like to count how many of those moons grace our yard each summer night.
Moonflower buds open quickly, after the sun has set.  Watching the magnificent white flowers swirl open is like viewing slow motion photography. 
As an added attraction, this perennial vine will lure Sphinx moths to the garden. 
When the sun comes up in the morning, alas, the flowers fade. However, an overcast, cool day will sometimes keep the flowers open through the morning hours, so you can enjoy them while drinking your
morning tea.

Our winter has been mild and because many of my plants have been behaving like it has been spring for weeks already, I decided to get an earlier than usual start on my summer garden.  Last week I started some moonflower seeds.

These are some seed pods I saved from last year's vine.  Seeds nestled inside the pods are large and hard. They are about the size of an unused pencil eraser, and as hard as a pebble.  In order to aid germination, the seeds should be nicked and or soaked 1 -2 days before planting.  I nick. To nick the seed, use a knife to snap off a tiny bit of the seed coating.

I planted the seeds 1/2" deep in small pots and pony paks prior to the rainy weekend we just had.  They got a good undomesticated soaking.  They are currently in my "greenhouse" (see my 01-23-14 mini greenhouse post), as they need warm soil in order to sprout.

The fragrance, ♥ shaped leaves, and 6" white flowers of moonflowers would make a spectacular covering on an arbor for an summer evening garden wedding.  But wedding or not, they bring old fashioned romance to the garden. 

I will take you on the journey of my moonflowers this year, but I also want to encourage you to plant some of the seeds yourself, so you too can enjoy the wonder of this twining vine.  And then we could compare flower counts too!

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

i am not religious, but i think my oven may be jewish

posted by jennifer:

i am not a religious girl.  however, if you were to look around my home, you may not be entirely convinced.

i find myself drawn to religious articles... especially buddha statues.  and this past christmas my lovely husband bought me a small ganesha statue.  

i have a church pew that the same lovely husband rescued for me.  he was at a the home of a guy.... (20+ years our elder) who was having a bonfire... burning church pews.  his home was on a piece of property previously owned by a church.  my husband convinced him to spare one of the pews for me.   

so despite the fact that i do not subscribe to a religion, i do find beauty in many symbols of many religions.   

until friday however, i have never experienced an inanimate object in my home practicing it's own religious doctrine.  after a power outage due to a rain storm, my oven display read Sab.
this i took for a error. then upon researching it, i discovered that my oven had put itself in sabbath mode.  

who knew?  

oy vey!  and cheers!