Tuesday, October 11

Wild Asters in Autumn

Mrs. William Starr Dana admires the autumn aster in her book from 1900, How to Know The Wild Flowers:

This beautiful genus, like that of the golden-rod, is one of the peculiar glories of our country. Every autumn these two kinds of flowers clothe our roadsides and meadows with so regal a mantle of purple and gold that we cannot but wonder if the flowers of any other region combine in such a radiant display. 

Asters are lovely, whether wet on a dreary day, or bright and cheerful on a gorgeous, sunny day, they always make me smile. 


Wednesday, August 31

The Beauty of Weeds

When life is not coming up roses

Look to the weeds

and find the beauty hidden within them.

Daisies are one of my favorite wildflowers, a.k.a. weed. This is a wild, or OxEye daisy that grows in small bunches on our property. I never know when they will pop up, or where I will find this sunny flower. I did have some success transplanting a couple of roots to one of my flower beds, but they seemed to be fairly short lived. This year I found a small grouping near our large oak tree. It was a lovely, bright spot in a meadow of green.


Wednesday, August 24

Edible Flowers in the Herb Garden

When buying herb plants and seeds I always look in the flower sections. Many herbs are also considered edible flowers. They are beautiful and can be used in salads, as a garnish, in vinegar, herb butter and much more.  

Calendula and Nasturtium varieties will often be listed in the flower sections of seed catalogs. 

Below are some of the edible blooms I'm growing in my garden.

I've planted three lavender plants in my herb garden. Lavender can be dried easily and used in teas, dessert, sachets and balms.

Calendula petals are edible and medicinal. The flowers turn to seed fairly quickly, but at the stage shown in the picture they can be harvested by snipping them off the plant at just above the first set of leaves. The petal pull away from the center easily and are ready to use in salads.  They also can be used in recipes for lotions and balms.

Nasturtiums are one of my favorite herbs because it's easy to sow and grow. Cherry rose, below, is a lovely variety.  

The Alaska variety is another good choice with it's pretty variegated leaves. The blooms and leaves can be used in salads, or as garnishes.

There are many other flowers and herbs that are edible such as:



Monday, August 22

Grilled Tilapia With Herbs

There are many great healthy diets out there but my doctor recommended the Dash diet or the Mediterranean diet.  My husband works in a hospital cath lab and the resident cardiologists all stand by the Mediterranean diet, so we're opting for that program.  It consists of eating mostly fish and chicken, vegetables and good fats such as olive oil.  Grilled fish is one of my favorite ways to eat fish. 

First, I gather a handful of lemon thyme from the garden. I strip about a teaspoon of leaves off the stems and place it in a bowl. I add about a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of garlic pepper and the same amount of kosher salt. I mix this together well and brush it on the thawed fish, which I had place on a sheet of foil. I then lay the remainder of the lemon thyme on top of the fish, leaving on the stems, as below.

I preheat the grill, then turn it down on low. I place the foil with the fish on the grill and close the lid. I turn it once, leaving on loose thyme so it was on the bottom. I continue to check it often, and turn it once more. It was almost cooked to where it was flaking, so I dotted the fish with a small amount of butter (at the most a tablespoon). When it melted, and the fish cooked, I removed it from the grill and placed it on plates. I served it with potatoes I had microwaved, then cut in chunks and sauteed in a pan with butter, seasoning with salt and pepper.

As always, I have to give you some variations you may wish to try. If you don't have lemon thyme, regular garden thyme will work, and a little lemon juice added to the mixture. You can also use minced or crushed garlic and freshly ground pepper instead of garlic pepper. I do both, depending on what I feel like. This would work with any white fish fillets such as catfish or perch.


Saturday, August 20

Blooming Herbs and Flowers

Today I'm sharing more pictures of the herbs and flowers I planted this garden season. Everything is doing well. I do need to get out and deadhead the calendula and the snapdragons, which will bloom right up until a hard frost.







Thursday, August 4

Growing Culinary Herbs Again

Since leaving behind my herb garden in the city I've struggled with creating another garden. I think it's much like an artist looking at a blank canvas three times larger than they've worked with in the past.  I was overwhelmed.

We went from a city lot to ten acres in a rural area with a large field, horse pasture, a small wooded area and a bit of wetland scrub. At the time I had visions of grandeur where I created large, amazing gardens, a pond and fields of wildflowers.  While some of that may yet become a reality as money becomes available, it wasn't a realistic plan. My imagination was much larger than our wallet.

However, after much experimentation I finally turned part of our yard into a garden area, starting with a round herb bed.

Last year we placed the blocks and put down plastic to smother the weeds and grass. This year, in early spring we bought a yard of planting soil, which was a step up from topsoil. I worked in an organic fertilizer and allowed the bed to sit for about two weeks. This was the bed after I added a few pansies and the "centerpiece" of the bed, which is the top of a cast iron chiminea we've had for over ten years.

It's shaded in the morning, but only before about 11:00 a.m. or so. The rest of the day the bed is in full sun. Here is the herb bed now:

I planted annual herbs and flowers until the perennial herbs fill in the bed. I included:

Moss Rose

The perennial herbs include:
Catmint (Nepeta)

I also planted lemon verbena, although in Zone 5 it can't be overwintered. I simply couldn't resist the wonderful fragrance. I also planted basil in a long "windowbox" type planter and dill in another pot. 

I've been watering the herb bed in between rains. The containers always need more watering. After the perennials establish themselves they won't need extra water. Which is one of the many reasons I love herbs. They are easy to grow, lovely, fragrant and useful.

Wednesday, February 10

Valentine's Day is a Family Affair

Valentine's Day was always rather melancholy for me until I met my husband in 1988. No one in my life really celebrated the holiday, and it left me feeling lonely and left out. My husband changed that for me:)  We didn't have much money but I never felt as if the day passed me by because even the little things are romantic when it's the right person.  

After my children were born I loved Valentine's Day even more because it was so much fun to have little parties with them at home, and later at school. I wasn't online then, so I had no Pinterest, Facebook or We Heart It for inspiration.  I was determined that I would make the day special for everyone, no matter what their age. We had tea parties once my daughter was born, and yes, her brothers always participated. We colored, made crafts and always made Valentine's Day cards for each other.

My grandson is almost three, so now I get to include him in the festivities. His little brother is only three months old, so he'll have to wait a bit before attempting to color or craft:) 

Today I have some neat printables I found online while planning our tiny Valentine's party for my grandson. I couldn't resist sharing.  

Another grandmother blogger shared these adorable Valentine's Day cards that come with a free printable. What I love is that it can be kept simple for little hands or jazzed up by the older kids.

You'll find the printable links and instructions HERE.

The DIY Village Blog has three lovely chalkboard prints like the one above that can be printed out for free to craft with or use as Valentine's Day cards. Click here.

The print above is one of several that can be printed off from DebbieDoos blog. I especially loved this graphic. Click here for instructions and the printable graphics.

The blog at Yellow Bliss Road has several printables like the one above that can be printed in three different sizes. These can be used in many different projects for adults or children. Click HERE. 

Finally, I came across a lovely blog post from Kari Anne at Thistlewood Farms about how even adults still get butterflies at times. Her story is a must read for Valentine's Day.  Click HERE

I hope you have a Valentine's Day full of love and laughter.


Tuesday, February 2

Thrift Stores Part I: The Basics of Smart Spending

Shopping at thrift stores is not just for those that can't afford new clothing. For some it's a "hip" thing to do, for others it's about searching for vintage and collectible items. For me, it's practical, thrifty and challenging.

Most of my shopping is done at Goodwill stores because they are close and convenient. I've also found, at least here in Michigan, they are clean, organized and frequently add stock to the shelves. What do I look for when I'm shopping?

Casual and dressy clothing for my teenage daughter
Baby and Toddler clothing
Shoes for everyone in the family
Brand name clothing for my sons who are 21 and 22
Clothing for my husband and I
Baking pans, dishes and glassware
Gardening items
Wood furniture
Scarves, hats, gloves, purses, wallets
Blankets, Afghans

To get the most for your money it's important to remember a few things when shopping at thrift stores. Think before you buy.  Impulse shopping will only add to the clutter in your home. It's easy to get distracted in a thrift store.  The shiny will call to you. Do not let yourself become distracted. Buy what you need. It's easy to start tossing things in the cart without thinking purchases through. Ask yourself:

Do I need this item?
Will it be worn/used?
Is it a quality item?

If you answer no to any of these questions put the item back on the shelf. If you aren't sure, put it in your cart but pause before going up to the register to consider again if you REALLY need it.

Before checking out it's also smart to go over each item for damage.

Next time I'll have more detailed tips based on my experiences.


Tuesday, January 26

Garden Dreams

I know many of you are under snow, some literally, so it's hard to look ahead to spring, but we can dream. The seed catalogs have been arriving already, and I'm dreaming of a garden makeover. I'm going to try something different this year using containers and raised beds, rather than a traditional garden plot.

Until it's warm enough to dig in the dirt,  I have a few freebies I found while browsing online that I thought I'd pass along.


When you subscribe to Lady Lee's Home newsletter (and anytime afterwards) she'll give you access to a few free printable charts for the garden season. Her blog is lovely with recipes, garden tips and do-it-yourself projects.



For an escape on a cold day or evening, print out this adult coloring book from Botanical Interests.



I love peonies. They are old fashioned, fragrant, beautiful and once established they live for many years. Peony Envy (snicker) is a peony grower with oodles of amazing varieties of peony. They also have an in depth section on planning your peony garden that is very helpful. Since peonies are so long lived and don't appreciate moving to new spaces, it's important to place the plants carefully.



This isn't exactly a garden project but it would be amazing near the garden area. It's a Willow Playhouse. If you don't have a willow tree on your property find someone who does and explain what you need. It won't hurt the tree and you can share the instructions with them so they can make their own playhouse. The instructions are here:


Stay Warm,

The Last of the Roses in Autumn

The milkweed pods are breaking,   And the bits of silken down   Float off upon the autumn breeze   Across the meadows brown. ~C...