December 9, 2014

CALISTA HAIR TOOLS The Perfecter


Okay, I feel kind of silly...but so many of you asked... I thought I'd write a post about it. Here is the scoop.  




Yesterday I was looking over the new Pinterest Analytics tool...not intentionally on the hunt for any information; the prompt just popped up so I decided to click and look at the numbers. Anyhoo, the top most visited board of ALL my Pinterest boards was the one I've entitled HAIR SALON (Find it here on PINTEREST if you would like to follow.)  People are mightily interested in the ever elusive 


 (My hair always looks better in pics with my sweet Daddy.)

perfect hair cut it would seem; particularly every iteration of a layered bob...short, long, blonde, brunette...which is pretty much the only style I've posted on said board.

That coupled with what I am rather embarrassed to say was, I think... the second most frequently asked question on the recent garden tour:


"Who cuts your hair?"   (ANSWER: SUPERCUTS on North May... My hairdresser took this pic of it once....can't remember why...)  So....there you have it...the inside scoop on a hair style that is pretty low maintenance and practical for a dirty, sweaty gardener. (As you can see in another type of action shot below.)


The REAL intent of this post, however, is to acquaint you with a nifty new hair tool The Calista Perfecter Fusion Hair Styler I just discovered while drifting by QVC en route to Turner Classic Movies.


I won't bore you with details here, but suffice it to say it does absolutely everything they claimed 
and can be found pretty much everywhere. I bought mine with one of my never ending 20% off coupons from BED, BATH AND BEYOND for $79.00 sans coupon. I also saw them at an even lower price point at CVS in there As Seen on TV aisle. Frizzy ends, flat hair syndrome, processed hair.........this is for you.  Short hair gals like me -- go for the smaller size.  The larger barrel brush would be much better for longer hair.  Comes with a smoothing brush, clips and a carrying cases. Watch the video on their site for styling how to.

You won't regret putting it on your Christmas list, I Promise.


December 8, 2014

Wooden Nut Bowl


The weather finally cools. We pull out our throws, light the fire, rake the leaves, bake the pumpkin bread. Our change-of-season rituals. Before long the jack-o-lantern gives way to the turkey, ultimately giving way 


to the greens and the reds and the silvers and gold of the aging year. To acknowledge the season, the moment...the passage of time. We hold fast and tight to these traditions, their rhythms and their certitude. The sense of sweet belonging to communal ritual and experience, our collective stories with their seasonal reference.


But some traditions are exclusive to our own homes and little domesticities. Among them in MY home...









is a wooden nut bowl.  It arrives in mid-October usually, the peak of football season....when bulk nuts-in-the-shell become available at grocery stores and markets. By this time, having fought back marauding squirrels in the garden for weeks,


we finally adopt an 'if you can't beat them, join them' mentality and become squirrel-like ourselves,


cracking the almonds and hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts...even the occasional vexing Brazil nut.
Like the messy squirrels, we scatter our shell debris everywhere. Fine powdery bits and sharp edged
chunks sure to find an unsuspecting bare foot at some point during the season. All worth the effort though...


to hear that cracking sound...to reveal the sweet meat inside....occasionally the pleasant satisfaction of producing a whole nut, intact and unbruised...

unfazed by the violent fracking process.

I don't roast our whole nuts before eating, though I have fond memories of a surrogate mother in my college years (when I lived far from home and family) who did. The roasted nuts ever present in HER nut bowl on the kitchen counter...just a little something to tide me over until she fed my orphaned self her lasagna or meatballs or roast chicken; the dinner remains sent home with me to morph the following morning into a cold breakfast straight (and greatly enjoyed) from the fridge.


The wooden nut bowl in these pictures belonged to my second mother. I squirreled it away during the process of emptying out our family home a few years ago. 


I posted an image of this sentimental relic on Instagram, eliciting a nostalgic response from L'il
Sis who cited memories, no doubt good and bad, it resurrected.  I had another nut bowl, a smaller one with a recognizable and distinctive rough bark exterior (a sign of its vintage and provenance) which belonged to my first mother.
One of the very few precious possessions passed on to her children. I gifted it to one of her
grandchildren, who have even fewer touchstones to her memory, her life, her existence.


I didn't give my nuts bowl's presence in our home much thought until recently. I had become accustomed to it, enured to its spot on the table...
 taking it for granted like so many other fixtures, seasonal and not, in our home.  


Until Thanksgiving that is, when one of our good friends remarked on it.  He hadn't seen one in years, he said. Didn't
know his filbert from his almond, his pecan from his walnut. Neither did his children. A brief lesson ensued...(So THIS is what an almond in its shell looks like they marveled out loud...)...quietly and momentarily intrigued by the humble bowl of  nuts. 


Thus I too became newly acquainted with its personality in my kitchen. Its role as memory keeper, seasonal clarion, comfort giver. 











Worthy of notice.


Worthy of appreciation. 

Another delicious gift of a fleeting season.

A simple, sensual indulgence.






December 4, 2014

Haven Brand Manure Tea Bags


Back in the day (this past summer), I used to make my own compost and manure tea. I'd fill empty burlap sacks in which basmati rice was sold (they had a convenient little handle for dipping...) with packaged store bought compost and/or cow manure that I would lug home from my local garden center.


A messy, unhandy...and though effective...rather unpleasant way to organically feed my soil and darlings in the potager.  But no more! Cuz in rides my friend Annie Haven from her California ranch with a save-the-day solution to my whole messy, unholy, garden-brewing business.


In a nutshell, she does all of the work for me...from raising the livestock to packing it up all convenient and pretty-like...

Just in time for holiday gift-giving

to all the gardeners, wanna-be gardeners, and sous-gardeners on my Christmas list. I just put in a large mail order to send to my gardening sibs...(with special instructions for my brother Dave who has been known to sneak a few sips of seasonal potpourri from the stove top;

then again...maybe I won't.)

In truth, my sibs are just the handlers for this gift. It's really a gift for the garden itself, for the earth in which we grow and harvest our bounty. Or as Annie puts it

"It's all about the soil...and growing good, healthy soil."

You can choose from horse, cow or alfalfa; I personally go for the sample gift packs containing all three. I will be showcasing it tomorrow on 4 YOUR GARDEN at 4:30 with Linda Cavanaugh, along with some other gift and stocking stuffer suggestions for the gardeners on your list.




Find out more (and purchase) at Manure Tea.com


In case you are not familiar with this extraordinary brew, Annie describes it thusly:

 Haven Brand Manure Tea Bags


Many organic gardeners will quickly tell you compost tea is the best all-around liquid fertilizer you can use on your plants. Compost tea is generally made by collecting finished compost and placing it in a bucket filled with water. The compost and water is allowed to brew for several days in the sun. The liquid is then strained and used to water vegetables, flowers, or lawns.

So, you are probably wondering then….. what is manure tea?

What Is Manure Tea?

manure tea
Manure tea is very similar to compost tea, in fact, it is compost tea but uses composted livestock manure.
The manure is collected and composted in the sun over the course of several months.
The livestock are raised in pastures that contain native grasses, where the cattle are allowed to graze just as nature intended.
Manure teas are used as a soil conditioner in vegetable gardens, flower gardens, lawns and compost piles. Watering plants with manure tea conditions the soil so plant roots can better absorb nutrients. It also provides valuable nutrients, minerals and beneficial microorganisms that supports growing strong and healthy plants.
Manure tea can also be added directly to compost piles to accelerate decomposition.

Manure Tea Simplified

Brewing manure tea was once a messy (and stinky) task which consisted of collecting the manure, composting the manure, mixing it in containers, then straining the liquid to get the valuable tea.
Many people are turned away by the idea of storing and handling manures in order to get the precious tea.
This is where Authentic Haven Brand simplified brewing and using manure teas. The composted manure is packaged in an all-natural cotton tea bag that makes brewing the manure tea a breeze!
You never have to worry about storing or handling manure because it’s all contained in a convenient tea bag ready for use.  

If you are a fan of this product, please share this post to spread 

the word on this great stuff!   Thanks, Linda


November 30, 2014

Orchids **** Dressed up for the holidays


This post clearly falls into two traditional holiday categories. (A) One gift for you; two (or three), gifts for moi, and (B) It really IS the most wonderful time of year because you can find great deals in the indoor gardening section of your local big box store.


Case in point:  a delicious Black Friday special on orchids at around $8.00 each at Home Depot. Even when shopping for oneself, a single stem can seem too petty; two is nice, but three?  Three is just perfect...at least when it comes to buying orchids on sale for the holidays. Especially when gathered and arranged en masse in a striking fresh-from-the-expensive-florist way.


SOME HOW-TO TIPS: Orchids are notoriously top-heavy and can be rather unwieldy to work with...they keep wanting to keel over.  (I found this 4" size fit perfectly into my kitchen drain; a handy holder while I worked...)  First, remove orchid from its (often cheap and cheesy) outer plastic pot or foil. This exterior 'gift wrap' will often be filled with water, potentially drowning and damaging the root system.  Look for signs of stress from over watering, cold blasts of air, poor handling, or neglect.  Foliage should be firm and bright green - no sign of yellowing. Flower petals should be blemish free with a few unopened buds for longer lasting bloom and stems should obviously be intact; not broken or bent.


The interior pot was far more pliable than the outer, allowing me to bend and mold each individual orchid to fit and then 'nestle' into my container. (I used a stenciled bamboo basket about 5-6" tall and 10' wide.) To protect the basket itself and contain the contents of each pot, I inserted each plant into a quart size plastic zip lock bag. (Note: I did not put holes in the bags which would have allowed for drainage...as I wanted to protect the basket. Consequently, I will be careful not to over water.  If I were arranging in a decorative pot with drainage, I would have punctured the bottom of the zip lock bag to allow excess water to escape.)



Each of the three orchids was treated in a similar manner.  I inserted crushed or folded newsprint to fill in gaps and provide support to ensure the flowers stand straight and tall.







Lastly, I top-dressed it with seltzer to hide the mechanics, match the 'vibe' of the basket, and provide an over all more polished appearance. (I often use cushion moss, but in this case, preferred a dry
material for both aesthetic and practical reasons.)




The flowers keep me company (and perhaps more importantly) with their beautiful companionship keep me working. Happily they also commune well in spirit and in hue with a deep lilac-flowered cyclamen also in residence on my desk.

Both enjoy the bright light and draft-free conditions my office provides.


I periodically look up at them. They gaze down at me.


All in all, a wonderfully symbiotic relationship.








November 28, 2014

Gather Together



















 Hoping everyone was able to gather with their loved ones this Thanksgiving

~~Here's to the start of a safe, peace filled, and happy holiday season. ~~