Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MORE READING, BETTER EXCUSE TO SPEND MY SUMMER CHILLING!

I went to my local Sally Ann today just on a whim, and they were having a 25 cent book sale! So, I've added to my summer reading list. Look at the gems I got!







I can't remember if I've ever read a Barbara Delinsky; but it sounds like a good, light read. The next 3 are all bestsellers. And the last is a biography of Graham Chapman from Monty Python's Flying Circus. ("Wink, wink; nod, nod! Say no more, say no more! A wink's as good as a nod to a blind bat! Know what I mean? Know what I mean?") This show was a long time favorite of mine and my husbands. Graham was King Arthur in "Search for the Holy Grail" and was usually the sort-of straight man for the rest of the crew in a lot of the sketches.

I've just started "The Tenth Circle" by Jodi Picoult and am enjoying it.

Tomorrow is Canada Day here, and I've got Thursday off to take my little Colombian daughter to the airport so she can go home! Sob, sob! I'll be sad to see her go; there'll just be me and my 17 yr old who's always working or out socializing. Still, how wonderful it will be to have the house to myself and so much free/me time!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

WHO AM I, PLEASE?

Greetings from the (usually) beautiful South Shore of Nova Scotia where - yet again - it's raining! But we have been getting the occasional cloudy respite from the showers, and thankfully, things are continuing to grow. My flower boxes are full of wonderful yellow and orange marigolds, and the lobelia is almost long enough to begin to trail.

I need your help, please, with identifying two plants that were probably purchased roadside or given to me. I've given you 2 pictures for each of them: one of the plant itself & another close-up of the flower. I hope the picture quality is good enough for one of you brilliant gardeners with huge brains and good memories to identify them.











Thanks for your help.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

CURRENT FAVORITES

I love lotions and creams. As we age, we're told to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize -- not just our face but our whole body. And let's not forget our lips!


Our skin changes as we age, so a product that worked for us just a few years ago, doesn't work anymore. I'm still looking for a suitable low to moderately priced face moisturizer. I'm currently using "Olay moisture therapy lotion", but it's a little sticky. Still, I hesitate to toss it out when I've paid money for it. Sitting on my dresser is a new one I recently bought -- "Marcelle Essentials multi-defense cream". That one was under $20 for 2 oz.

"AS SOON AS WE GET SOME SUN, PLEASE MR GOD!" I'll probably start using that one because it has a SPF 15 reading.

I love taking the time to moisturize, especially after a bath when I think that my open pours just soak up that lovely lotion! (It could be another illusion successfully sold to me by the cosmetics industry, but please don't burst my bubble! It feels sooo nice!) I always liken it to giving my skin a good, long drink of cool water.

Here are two of my current favorite discoveries.


The first is a line of lotions and gels made in Greece ://www.forkingsandqueens.com/w.forkingsandqueens.com/). I purchased it here at Shopper's Drug Mart for about $20. I choose cinnamon orange because of it's heavenly smell. But I'm so impressed with it that I'm planning on trying whatever else in their line that I can find. It really is absolutely gorgeous; I can't rave enough about this one!

The second is a tinted lip balm from Burt's Bees who sell natural, earth-friendly personal care products. Mine is a lip shimmer (that seems to stain your lips) in a rhurbarb color. It feels nice, it smells nice, and it's doing double duty as a lip protector. A great product for summer.



I've love to hear about some of your favorite products. Let's share our treats!

Friday, June 26, 2009

SOUTHERNWOOD / Artemisia abrotanum

A big thanks to all of you commented on my previous blog today. Gardeners are such an encouraging bunch! I think we just all love to see each other "bloom".

Several of you mentioned that you'd never heard of Southernwood. Here's a close-up picture of the plant and some tidbits of info I found on Wikipedia and a few other sites.

http://http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.075.020




According to http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARAB2, this plant can be found in many parts of Canada and the US.

Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) is a flowering plant known by many names: Old Man, Boy's Love, Oldman Wormwood, Lover's Plant, Appleringie, Garderobe, Our Lord's Wood, Maid's Ruin, Garden Sagebrush, European Sage, Lad's Love, Southern Wormwood, and Lemon Plant. My plant does have a lemony scent to it, and apparently, there's a recent variety of this plant that smells a little of camphor. Needless to say, it's not a plant bothered by animals!

It forms a small bushy shrub; the grey-green leaves are small, narrow and feathery; the small flowers are yellow (although I don't remember ever seeing a flower - I have to be more observant this summer). It can easily be propagated by cuttings or by division of the roots.

It has many uses. Medicinal - it's an antiseptic; it can be used to kill intestinal worms, treat liver, spleen and stomach problems; it can be made as a poultice and placed on wounds, splinters and for use in skin conditions. You can brew it as a tea to aid in digestion; and mixed with other herbs as an aromatic, it aids in sleep disorders. An infusion of the leaves is said to work as a natural insect repellent when applied to the skin or if used as a hair rinse is said to combat dandruff. The volatile oil in the leaves helps to repel moths and other insects. The Romans believed that it increased young men's virility!

Here's some information from another site for those of you who are interested in adding this to your garden.

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Artemisia+abrotanum

It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from March to November, in flower from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind.


The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Habitats: Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge

As I said before, I've had my plant for 25 years, long before I became interested in being a gardener (read - paid attention to actually taking care of and nurturing my plants or finding out where it likes to grow). It's been moved 5 times and simply stuck in whatever piece of ground was available. And although it's a slow grower, it's a hardy little thing and is thriving now!

I actually saw a shrub for sale for the first time recently - $29.99!!!

If you were close, I'd give you a piece to propigate. I love my plant; so I'd highly recommend Boy's Love as a wonderful addition to your flower, herb or vegetable garden.

LET'S VISIT IN THE GARDEN

I'm joining Tootsie today at http://tootsietime.blogspot.com/ for Fertilizer Friday.


I wanted to take lots of pictures this weekend of my garden and then invite you to come visit. We had beautiful sunshine yesterday, and it's scheduled for today. However, it's supposed to be overcast tomorrow and rain (once again) for the next 4-5 days. Oh, woe is me! It sure makes it hard to get the weeding done when you work 9-5!

So, let's make do with a visit today using the few pictures I took a week ago.


As you walk up my driveway, the brook-side garden welcomes you. These lilies are forming flower buds and will probably open a little later than their siblings in my other beds. On the right side of the welcome sign, the Southernwood bush is a prize in my garden. This started as a small twig in my wedding bouquet 25 years ago. I had a elderly neighbor who gave it to me on the morning of my wedding and then collected it and rooted it for me. It's moved 4 times since then and is happy to call #56 it's home now. When I transplanted it the last time, I separated it, so now have two. Nova Scotians call this plant "Old Man", but I like the Newfoundland name for it - "Boy's Love". Have you ever smelled the southernwood plant? It's divine! Every time I pass it, I rub my fingers on it's lacy foilage. Next to that is a small Potentila bush. And in between are some sad little Hens 'n' Chicks that should be moved; they're struggling.

Although there are lots of buds eagerly waiting to open, there are only a few things in bloom right now. These 2 plants are in Larry's bed: a lovely columbine (Didn't last year's tag say this was supposed to be pink??) and what I believe is a Globe Thistle.




This is one of two pots sitting next to the front staircase. I love the Colleus, marigold and lobelia color mix of colors here.



And here's my front step piggy planter containing some mini petunias. He's always smiling -- no matter what the weather!




Let's go through to the back garden.

There's so much more I'd like to show you. But until I take the next pictures, why don't we sit and listen to the birds sing while we have some refreshment. We'll have some fresh strawberries - the first of this year's crop from the South Shore. And your choice of beverage -- iced tea with lemon, orange juice & soda, a cold Sleeman's Amber Ale or, my favorite for the summer, Tanqueray gin 'n' tonic with a generous twist of lime.

Thanks for coming by. I'll let you know when we're expecting the next sunny weekend; we can do this again. Happy weekend wherever you are!



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Little Bit of Crunchy Heaven

Do you have one of those simple but wonderful food stuffs that just ALWAYS satisfies you? A comfort food that your body craves that - thank goodness! - is also quick and easy?

I do! And it's healthy! Well, almost ... sort-of ... practically ... in my terms healthy!

You take a bowl full of this:



Liberté Méditerranée yogurt is a Greek-style yogurt made with pure milk, without any type of sugar substitutes or gelatin in it. Despite its purity, it is amazingly thick and creamy but contains only 8.5% milk fat.


Mocha: Mix it well, all the coffee flavor is on the bottom. The delicious taste of a real café-crème without the excess fat




and top it with a generous scattering of this:






"A blend of chocolate and chocolate chip vanilla granola clusters, made with whole grain oats, rice and real cocoa. " Product of Canada


Per 2/3 cup (55 g)
260 Calories
9 g Fat





I'm having some now as my mid-morning break at work. And I'm literally licking the bowl! (Good thing I work alone!)
Heavenly! I can hear the angelic choirs as I lick!


Sheer bliss!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DO YOU HAVE AN ALTER EGO?

I really really like rest and relaxation! Huh? Isn't it great!



There's an old Portugese proverb that reads:
How wonderful it is to do nothing .... then rest afterwards


I try to take advantage of some form of R'n'R daily (and I don't think I even need to mention the positive reasons why it's so necessary). But as I succomb more and more to the blissful enjoyment of doing nothing successfully, I'm finding that I'm not getting anything done! It's invading other important areas of my life and - dare I say it? - yes, even interfering!!! It's seduced me so that I become blind to the many other things that call for my attention!



So, in my pursuit of what is becoming a favorite pasttime, I'm realizing even more the value of keeping lists. Oh, I have no trouble remembering the big things like calling the guy to come clean my gutters or taking the lawn mower in to be fixed or getting Brady here to repair a leaky pipe. But then there are the little things that always need doing; they probably wouldn't cause the house to fall apart but they really should be attended to. And they're so darned easy to forget when you're pursuing your new favorite pasttime! Enter - THE LIST!




I like lists! They help me remember those small things that I want to accomplish. I like starting new lists each season. And I really like posting that list on my fridge and getting to cross off the ones that I've finished.
There's just something about walking into my kitchen after dinner or on a Saturday morning and coming face to face with my formidible adversary named "To-Do List": it calls to this primal woman deep inside me and I become:



DORIS THE GREAT!

WARRIOR PRINCESS OF LISTS!

"You will be beaten!" I cry with determination and purpose. "You're goin down!"



There's a sense of power and freedom that comes from choosing which one to take on today (or which one ignore for another day). (I am in control of "The List"!) And when I do tackle one, there's the immense satisfaction of watching those chores fall defeated under my mighty hands! There's a swelling with pride that happens as I stand, pen in hand, and the "red line of death" is drawn through yet another foe on that list! Ha-Ha!!! There's a further growing sense of pride and yet more power as I note the previous fallen. And I get a renewed sense of purpose and power as I plan my next battle strategy.
Then finally, when that list is nothing but a mess of red lines, when I am the victorious conqueror .......................
I even keep the list on the fridge so I can gloat over my victories!
Unlike other warriors and superheros who specialize in one basic power and dress to advertise this (ie Superman, Spiderman, Elasto-girl), my powers are many and varied (cleaner, painter, builder, gardener, chain-saw wielder). My powers can morph and grow (and weaken) and, therefore, my uniform changes. (I could use a good cape though!)




So, without further ado, here's my Summer To-Do List as at today:

  1. Get replacement batteries for solar lights
  2. Stain all 3 decks
  3. Repaint the lawn and/or deck furniture
  4. Sand down front door and repaint. Install window if $$ will allow
  5. Gravel for lower driveway
  6. Rehang mirrors in living room and dining room
  7. Strip, sand down and paint desk and hutch
  8. Thorough cleaning of both bedrooms for fall students arrival
  9. Clean siding by side entrance
  10. Build raised bed for Forsythia bush et al at lower drive
  11. add to list as necessary

Then there's the list of R'n'R things that I want to accomplish. But I daren't print that off 'cause I know it'll sneak it's way over the top of the above To-Do List and I'll never get anything accomplished!

Well, except for having a good time!!

But then, I don't need a list for that!

What's on your list, my bloggie friends?

Monday, June 22, 2009

DAY TRIP IN THE ANNAPOLIS VALLEY


My dad used to tell me to have the "Take the bull by the horns" approach to life. I've done my best to do that during my 50+ years on this earth.


However, I'm finding with age that I'm more of a "Take the cow by the ears" sort of girl.


Ahhhh! Never let it be said that I'm not adaptable!


***************************************

Sarita and I had a great trip to the Annapolis Valley on Friday -- all 345 km of it!

We drove over the mountain through New Germany and Parkdale/Maplewood, via Lake George, into the town of Aylesford where we visited Oakland Farms, a small family owned and run zoo. Lots of great animals - tigers, lions, leopards, exotic porcupine, monkeys, llamas, camels, and so on and so on. We've all seen either the animals themselves or pictures of them, right?

So, while Sarita is busy snapping up pictures of these wonderful animals, what do I take pictures of? Why their various garden plots, of course! There were several dotted throughout the property. But the nicest was the one next to the monkey enclosure near the koy pond. I loved their selection of plants and the arrangement of color and size. It was very pretty.

































We had a picnic lunch (with various other visitors and 3 bus loads of loudly excited elementary school kids [repeatedly barging in front of you as you walked or stood looking at the animals all the while ceaselessly making various noises dependant upon which animal you were viewing]. Bless their little sainted hearts!

We sat out of the sun at a picnic table under a tree (which rained down the occasional little green worm [not on the food, thank goodness]. Some of those dear little school children were also having lunch next to us (or crawling over other picnic tables; or coming up behind you when you least expected and shouting "HI! I'VE GOT A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH!

Our table was also situated next to the fence where more of those same dear little school children were taking a pony ride (shouting "Miss McBride! Miss McBride! Miss McBride! Miss McBride! Miss McBride! Look at me! I'm taking a pony ride!) And those sweet little ponies! Why, they smelled very .... aaaaaaa ..... very natural! Yeah! That's the word for it - natural!




No - really!

I'm kidding (although not exagerating)!
It was great!
We were in the country, for goodness sake!
At a zoo!
Waddya expect, Sandy!


**********************************************

We drove south on the old highway, and I stopped at this great little garden ornament store (which I'll show you in a later post). Then we drove on to Berwick, a really pretty little town which claims to be "The Apple Capital of Nova Scotia" - a proud claim in a province known for it's wonderful apples. Anyone who visits Berwick simply MUST visit "Bargain Harleys". It's a treasure of a store with a little bit of everything at rock bottom prices. You never know what you'll find there! I got some great bargains (which I'll show you in the aforementioned later post).

We had nothing planned, so we just let the day dictate where to go. But we were really glad that we stopped at the tourist bureau in Kentville; we were greeted by this young female employee with the most beautiful smile and attitude and the best advice as to where to go.








We drove over the mountain to the Fundy Shore of Nova Scotia and came to a little hamlet called Hall's Harbour which has the lowest tides on the Fundy. Low tide was out, so we could see all the fishing boats sitting on the ocean floor. Pretty cool!



Then we drove across the Gospel Road to what's called "The Lookout" . From there, we could see Cape Blomidon on the left and the towns of Centreville, Wolfville and Grand Pre below us. The pictures my camera took don't do it justice; it was so beautiful.

































We drove out to Cape Blomidon Park and walked down to the beach. The tide was out, so our sneakers squelched through the red mud of the ocean floor. I gave up once the mud started splattering the back of my heels; but Sarita walked all the way to the water. Youth apparently doesn't care about red mud stains on sneakers and socks!























We did our best to rinse off our shoes in a little water fall -- but mostly Sarita just made faces in the background of my pictures or tried to splash me.


We finished off with a drive to Grand Pre and a steak dinner at Joe's Pub in Wolfville. We ate sang and ate oatcakes on the 2 hr ride home. It was a wonderful day!



Sunday, June 21, 2009

FATHER'S DAY

A tribute to a wonderful Dad. Thank you for always letting your girls know how wide and deep and complete and everlasting was your love. They still feel it today.

We miss you, Larry.

SUMMER TIMEEEEEE .... AND THE READIN' IS EASY ....



Hey Everyone! It's officially summer!
Season of sunshine & barbeques & beaches & popsicles & freckles!





(It's also the anniversary of the day that I started my period for the first time in 1967. One doesn't forget a thing like that when it's the official first day of summer, does one! Stupid really, because I should be remembering the day that I officially stopped having a period. But then, every day since then is a celebration!)






Now where was I? Did my mind wander again?

Oh yeah! It's June 21st, the first day of summer!
Hurray! Yeah! Zippidy-doo-dah! Happiness rains supreme!

Speaking of rain ..... In order to give this momentous date the recognition it deserves, I'll have to ignore the rain that fell yesterday ... and the stuff that is falling today .... and what is scheduled to fall for the next 3-4 days. Sigh!

But even if it doesn't look like summer outside, I can still think summer, right?

One of the things that I like to do is to make a special place on my bookshelf for my summer reading, books that I've gotten from yard sales or my Frenchies Store throughout the year especially to read during the dog days of summer. It just makes me feel warmer looking at them! Here's my list.








Do I think I'll get them all read? Highly unlikely.
Will I enjoy trying? Absolutely!
What's on your reading list?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

THANKFUL THURSDAY




1. I'm thankful that it's Thursday and that it's my last day of work this week. I'm off to the Annapolis Valley tomorrow in the sunshine for a day trip.




2. I'm thankful that I'm a child of God. That doesn't mean being a member of a church or an organization, it doesn't mean duty or obligation: it means that I know His limitless, never-ending love - no matter what I am or do; it means that I know His protection and and I can choose to accept His guidance.




3. I'm thankful that I accomplished what I set out to do this summer with my garden -- and am now free to enjoy it.




4. I'm thankful that my children are alive and healthy and not in jail! I'm also thankful that they're very polite -- and mostly smart -- and usually kind -- and relatively industrious -- and really physically clean!



5. I'm thankful that I am alive and healthy (even if I creak and squeak at times). (I also am very polite and mostly smart and usually kind and very industrious; and I like being clean too, especially after I've gotten garden-dirty!)




6. I'm thankful that I have a wide variety of friends; and I'm especially thankful for the small handful that nourish and feed my soul with love and laughter and acceptance. The world can sometimes be quite cruel!




7. I'm thankful that I live in a beautiful province in a great country and am blessed by medicare and free speech.



8. I'm thankful that I have a job (for however long it may last!!) with 3 great bosses - 1 who pays me every 2 weeks; 1 who brings me really good chocolate a few times a year; and 1 who does my electrical & plumbing work, transports my gravel, moves my appliances, lends me his van, and on and on and on.



9. I'm thankful that my province has lots of Frenchies thrift stores and a couple of great Value Village stores. And I'm thankful for yard sale season.



10. I'm thankful that I discovered the world of blogging. You guys have enriched my life, given me so much laughter (and useless information), added to the file in my brain labelled "Imagination", and become great friends. I wish I could have you all over this summer for my sangria party!



Blessing to all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Side Garden Phase 1 - COMPLETED!!

The work is completed! And the sun finally came out!! So, I'm extremely happy (and proud) to present to you "My Side Garden"!!!



The first 3 pics are "aerial" overviews taken from my 2nd storey bathroom window. It gives a nice overall look at what I've been working at over the last couple of months (and you can also see a little of the yet-to-be-developed "forest" behind!) What a lot of work it was! But what fun and satisfaction I've had! I haven't been this creative since I gave birth!


Starting on the left, we see a small bed planted by the shed; go past the compost bin (& the bag of cedar chips) to the beautiful naturally-occurring ferns (that have flourished with the food & the care shown to them lately). They border a 3-tier bed in the centre; divided from the front centre bed by the gravel path; and on to the swing next to the brook.





We pick up again by the swing and travel down towards the house and driveway. The path is bordered on the left by the front centre garden and on the right by the shaded bed which borders the brook. (Can you see the clothesline pulley at the bottom of the photo?)


Okay - let's get a little closer.





Here we are by the shed. This plot holds Wild Geranium, Spurge, Bellflowers, Lemon Balm, Lamium and white Violets. I stuck up this piece of lattice just to break up the stark white wall of the metal shed. I'm hoping that when my artist friend comes home this summer, she'll agree to paint something on that wall and let me pay her with a gourmet dinner, complete with chocolate and wine and the most scintilating of company!




We turn to the right and look towards the brook. On the left-hand side of the picture are all those wonderful ferns that are growing so prolifically!


And who's that in the swing? Isn't it magical under there? I wonder if their parents know where they are?
You can see the Liatris next to our little swingers. As well, this bed has some Himalayan Jewelweed in the back, Globethistle & a couple of as-yet unknown plants; the edge is bordered by lots of different sedums, Lamium, Johnny Jump-ups and Snow in Summer.



Just to the right of ferns is what I call the 3-tier bed. I don't think you can see this very well; but because of the gentle slope in the land, I broke it up into 3 tiers separated by a small wall of rocks. These beds have a hodge-podge of flowers which will probably have to be moved and rearranged as things start to grow and develop. I just wasn't sure what would grow well in these woodland conditions -- and some things are coming up in leaps and bounds!

The tiers contain a boxwood shrub, Cotoneaster, Beauty Bush, Candy Tuft, a couple of hostas, Brown Eyed Susan, lilies (of unknown color & species), Aconite, Ajuga, Columbine, Lamium, and several groundcovers. I even threw in the Cana Lilies to see what they would do here. (They're growing!)

As we turn towards the right, we see in the next 2 pics what I call my front centre bed. In this pic, framed by the 2 trees, are several hostas, Solomon's Seal, a Silver Mound, Brown-eyed Susan, some bulbs (past their prime), a primrose and a couple more unknowns. (Don't you love surprises!)


Pic 2 shows the front part of this bed; it was planted a year ago, so it's a little more developed. It has a wonderful False Sunflower, Astilbe, Heuchera, Lamb's ears, Globe Thistle and Columbine (as well as lots of bulbs). The planter sitting on the tree stump holds a grass of some sort and different colored coleus. You can also see my yet-to-be-planted Forsythia and cedar-type plants.


Here's a front view of this bed.
The two blooming white Columbines stand on either side of the bird bath. The front of this bed slopes gently toward the house and is planted with Periwinkle, Creeping Thyme, some mini Petunias and a Begonia (which was a gift from my electrician boss during Admin Assist's Week).


Looking a little further right in this bed, we can see Foxgloves planted along the side and front of this tree and one of 2 black planters filled with Dusty Miller and Marigolds. On the right side of the path is the bed next to the brook. That bed has a lovely tall sedum, yellow Tickseed, a Hydrangea bush, Wild Gernanium, Lamium, Bugleweed, and still more unknown plants (which will hopefully reveal their identity this year).

And looking back towards the left again, I wanted to show you this pretty little twig bench which I salvaged from the side of the road during our annual clean-up week last spring. It holds one of my window boxes of Marigolds and English Ivy.


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There you have it! Phase 1 of my Side Garden! I know there are lots of plants that I've forgotten to mention. I'll introduce you later this summer as the garden grows. And I'll share some more pictures with you on another day of my back garden, front garden and the driveway beds. But for now, I think it's bedtime!
Goodnight! Pleasant dreams to us all.