August 29, 2010

Weekly Prunings August 28

Aren't seed heads wonderful?  This time of year, the liminal period between summer and fall, can be a stingy one... cut flower-wise that is.  So as you look about for snipping material, don't forget seed heads, berries (even if they're still green), grass get the idea.  If you don't, watch my segment from Friday here on For Your Garden on News Channel 4 for more tips.  So there it is, pruning of the week

#1  Use berries, buds, grasses and greens to supplement what flowers ARE still blooming in your garden.  And you can always buy a grocery store bouquet to fill in if need these orange lilies

#2  We eat a LOT of poached eggs at our house.  My boys have been eating them since they were little tykes........we dubbed them squishy eggs.  Even their friends refer to them as squishy eggs.  We even made up a song about them which I would sing to them.  To save my dignity and your ears, it is a good thing  there is no audio with this post.  Anyway,  did you know that the eggs will keep a nice, defined edge if you put a little vinegar (any kind) in the water after it begins to boil and you've added the eggs?


Hold your spatula over a towel or crust of bread to catch the water dripping off...

you don't want the toast to get soggy do you?

"Squishy eggs are ready!"

#3  I'm originally a Hoosier, from Indiana.  My folks, and a number of my brothers and sisters still live there.  So next week, I'll be going back to that beautiful place to spend some time with them, and help out a little here and there.

My mom put 'filing' on her wish list, so that reminded me of this dandy filing system I've used for probably ten plus years now.

It's kind of an accordian, file size suitcase, complete with handle.  I use one for each year, marking the front with the corresponding year.........

Here's a picture of the pre-printed categories, though you can customize them if you want.

I start a new one each January 1.....keeping that year's tax records, insurance forms, receipts, school get the gist.

Then I just file the current year, ever so snugly, next to its doppelganger from the previous year.

Now they come in different colors from Walmart, Target and the like.......and you could go wild and crazy with color if you must.  But as I think of taxes and records as rather dour, drab creatures, I just go for your basic black.  Last year, all I could find was green, and it really played with my head..........You just can't take ANYTHING for granted.

Anyway, I think I will introduce this efficient, tidy filing system to my mom.

#4  This great tip is from my friend Spitfire:  "The best tip of all is to annotate your cookbooks.  For instance, I have written in KAF Whole Grain on P 164, " 8/10..Definitely not worth the trouble. Buy a box at the grocery."  My mother never writes in her cookbooks- probably for the same reason she never uses the china, crystal and silver.  I am not leaving an unchipped set to anyone!  WHO ARE WE SAVING THIS STUFF FOR???  Oops, ended with a preposition.  It happens." 

Now I love this on many levels, not least of which is that this annotating leaves a little something of you on each page.  An instant heirloom that cookbook is.  As we live in an increasingly digital and amorphous time, writing down your little bits of culinary knowledge saves it for posterity, for your kids, for your fading memory as you get older...........

The other charming bit of brilliance here is to USE AND ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE!
Especially for your family.  Especially for yourself (but if it requires hand-washing that china, and if you're not using it because you don't want the hassle, I give you a pass here.......)

Thirdly, it's just so damn practical.  How many boxes does it take to feed your typical crowd for Thanksgiving?  How much did it cost?  Was it easy or a pain in the b#$*? Did the picky eater in the family ALSO like it?

Okay, now start writing in your cookbooks.  Oh, I also like greasy handprints and tomato sauce splatters.

And finally,

#5  After the weather cools, and the light has fully softened, and you are feeling restless, go visit these friends of mine in the Wichita Mountains.  You won't regret it, I promise.

Here's looking at you kid.

Why not send me YOUR tip for the week?  What small something do YOU know that will improve another person's little world? PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT WITH YOUR BEST PRUNING FOR THE WEEK.   You'll be glad you did!

August 28, 2010

Jennifer Aniston or Lady Godiva? continue this stream of consciousness and visitors...........

there were the two friends of mine who drove by shouting "Hey, Lady Godiva!" based on my running naked through the streets the other morning because of the rain.  I don't know if Jennifer would have done that or not, but it seemed appropriate at the time.........

Jennifer Aniston and Front Yard Gardening

I think I told you that I bought a bunch of plants the other day. 

Now it's time to work those gluts and test those core muscles (or what's left of them after a couple of kids......) and get these guys in the ground. Don that hat, lather on that sunscreen, turn on that radio, and prepare to.........socialize.  Yes, working in my front yard is a very convivial activity.  As I dig and  water, a cast of characters will parade through my landscape, usually a welcome distraction and an opportunity to stretch my achin' back.  (Occasionally, especially if I am in my pajamas, I would prefer my gardening revelry not be interrupted.  In such cases, never look up or make eye contact in any way, so as to discourage visiting and keep those passers-by on their way......)

First up is my next door neighbor.  "Did you ever read that article in the paper about so-and-so's garden?  He had a nice story about St. Francis who said....(well something I can't remember, but I do remember it seemed a little too modern for St. Frank to be saying it) and isn't that nice......have you ever been to his garden?"  As I return to planting my third three-gallon lorapetalum, I keep thinking about gardening in that heavy brown monkish garb. (Wouldn't it be hot......and get stinky......and that cord around the waist get all muddy......and what about that bird constantly on his shoulder...and would St. Frank curse the squirrels like I do seeing as how he loves ALL creatures.....)

My great uncle, Father Romauld was a Franciscan monk  (seen here with my brothers and sisters, and my Edie Gourmet look-alike Aunt Helen) and to my recollection he wasn't stinky, laughed a lot, and was sweet, short, bald and loud.

That's him in the suspenders. I am the one in the red and blue checkered shirt.  At that age, and for many years after, I had a scowl on my face.  Of course, you  recognize Aunt Helen.  The other man is my Uncle Pete.  Growing up my brothers and sisters and I would always get it mixed up and call them Uncle Helen and Aunt Pete.  I don't know why, but we thought this was VERY funny.

The handsome tall Madmen looking guy is my dad.....

Now Fr. Romauld had a twin sister, Aunt Bernie....she is the one seated.  I don't know if that is her beer or not.  Somehow I am related to the other woman and the extra-credit Franciscan monk in the picture on the wall.  As I said, I am from a VERY large Catholic family.  

                                                                                                                 As I move on to the multiples gallons of Crimson Pygmy Berberi, a cursing plumber (having problems with my broken pipe apparently) emerges from the back yard.

As I stand to talk to him he tells me to wipe off the piece of dirt from my is bugging him apparently....thinks I'm trying to look like Madonna or something ( wasn't that Marilyn Monroe, anyway?)

Later, as a throw away remark, he asks me if I ever worry about being abducted from my front yard while gardening.  (, hadn't even thought about it, but will now, I guess.........jeez, thanks for the thought.......)

About ajuga-transplanting time, a buddy of mine working on the windows of a two story house across the street, descends from his ladder to stretch HIS back and say hey.  It's a very companionable thing.......his working across the street as I work in the front.....doing an honest day's work.....listening to the same radio music......(me thinking he could keep me from being abducted if any kidnappers happened by.......)

We talk for a moment, appreciating how the light is changing.  He tells me about his railroad garden, and how he has been moving moss around......later he will come over and show me some footage of his train moving through the landscape on his cell phone.  I will be appropriately impressed and tell him so.

This leads me to daydreaming about beautiful spaces, and front yards and drives I covet......

Like this humble, rustic approach to a property in Charlottesville, VA.

Then my husband comes home for lunch.  "Are you just in heaven working out here in your garden on this beautiful day?" he asks.  "Well, yes", I say as I walk up to him  "What's that on your boob?" he asks me.  I look down, half expecting him to say "Made you look!", and bop me on the nose and chin while laughing hysterically.  

But, no.  I have a big piece of dead leaf stuck to my breast, and he proceeds to brush it away.  "A guy gets whatever he can these days", he tells me in a manly way.

(Jeez!   Who do these guys think I'm trying to be........Jennifer Aniston or somebody...  I think I'll go inside and refresh my ice water........)

August 24, 2010

Company's Coming!

If you saw someone running up and down the street naked as a jaybird this morning, it was me.

IT FINALLY RAINED LAST NIGHT, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 43 DAYS THE TEMPERATURE FELL BELOW 90 degrees! (probably even 100 degrees, but who's apparently.)

So to celebrate this auspicious event, and because company's coming, I went and bought a whole bunch of plants  (yes, finally the nurseries are restocking for fall...the people working there were absolutely giddy at the cooler temperatures.  Trust me, they had gotten pretty surly, but then, so had I.....and so had you...don't try to deny it.)

Once I get organized, I'll take lots of pics of my new green friends to show you, but for now, rest assured, my leafy friends are patiently awaiting their new locations and hanging out together on my front porch.  Probably playing guessing games about who's coming, wondering what all the fuss is about and when the guests will arrive.  But I have informed them in no uncertain terms that they will be in their assigned spots before company comes and that they are to stand up straight and fly right. 

And no misbehaving!  No constant pestering for another drink of water before bed.  No staying out in the hot sun too long and getting sunburned and then complaining to me about it.  No pushing and shoving and bullying each other. And by all means,  get along with the old-timers who have been here for years.  Just mingle with one another, get settled in place, and be ready to perform when the dignitaries arrive.

She'll probably arrive first.....

He won't get here till a little later....about the same time as the pumpkins

the last two won't be here until the middle of October. 

Boy, am I ready for their company.  Until then....... 

Hey!  Hey!  Nobody invited you, Abert!

August 23, 2010

TJ and the History Channel

Here's how the whole ugly thing went down:

Me:  " What day is it today?"

Him:  "Tomorrow is trash day, so it's Monday."

Me:  "Oh, good!  That special about Jefferson is on the History Channel tomorrow at 7:00; I think I'll tell my readers about it......I think I'll write a post about it!"

Him:  "I know you like the guy, but how many times can you post about Jefferson and his house........been there, done that, don't ya think?"

Me:  "Only ONCE (I say defensively, not wanting to be accused of heating up          leftovers for you). I just posted a lot of pictures last time.....and besides, you can't get too much of TJ and Monticello.......and I would want to know...."
Him:  "I'm just sayin'......."

Me:  "And I'm just tellin' ya......."
 Me: " You won't be able to stay up that late, anyway."  (Take that!)

Him:  "Whatever."    Snore..................    THE END

photo compliments of Bosley Bobbers

August 22, 2010

Tussie-Mussies and Southern Living

I profess to being a romantic kind of girl, but not in a Victorian, doily-ish, fussy  or prudish kind of way.   I do, however, like Tussie-Mussies, the Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers (even that description is a little too saccharine for me) as described in this book by Geraldine Laufer.  But trust me, you don't need a book to create a little bouquet of fleurs (that communicate or not.)  Of course, you DO need  something green or flowery, anything, to pick, and then ....just your own hand (or better yet, a soft, pudgy, little-fingered hand of a 1-5 year old this one                                          

......or this one

both of whom very obviously have a good eye for color.  

One year, right before Mother's Day, I had my son's kindergarten class over to my P O T A G E R to make little tussie-mussies for their moms.  They picked their own beautifully rendered compositions of posies, then we tied them with ribbons  and put them in some water... before having a cup of tea with cookies.......and before they took them home as a little flowery surprise.  Do you know, I still have mothers mention it to me after low these many years   (sixteen to be exact, sigh).

More recently, I made a hand held tussie for SOUTHERN LIVING when we were shooting an article about cut flower arrangements.  My buddy, Bubba, at SL suggested I talk about my tussie-mussying in this blog, to remind you to look for the article in the September 2010 issue.  And that's all I'll say about that, so as not to ruin the suspense of seeing the article next month.  :)

Since I won't talk about that tussie-mussie (Tussie for short), let me show you and describe the one I picked on one of my walks in New Mexico last week (I am prone to doing that.......picking and plucking posies as I pleasantly plod along) 
as inspiration for a larger arrangement later.

This one started with a sweet pea picked from an old overgrown garden by an outbuilding at the ranch we were visiting.

then, I began to add flowers that were in the pink/lavender/white/chartreuse
color palette (my favorite color sway for spring.......weird that at the higher elevations, this palette goes into of the things I ADORE about
New Mexico and Colorado.......
all gathered in my hand (see my thumb; my veracity is very important to you, I know......) with more and more wonderful wildflowers and greenery

voila!  A lovely hand held bouquet.

I can still hear my son yelling at me:  "Mom! Quit taking a thousand pictures of
those flowers and let's go!"

So try some tussy-mussying yourself.... just don't do it with the naked ladies.  :)

August 19, 2010

KFOR Topic for Tomorrow: Care and Selection of Houseplants

Join us won't you?  Friday at 4:30 on KFOR with Linda Cavanaugh.

Also, look for me in your September issue of Southern Living Magazine, on newstands, well, pretty soon (I'm not sure exactly when......)

Curriculum for today: Art and Logic

Prepare to be shocked and awed.  Some people are just so unbelievably talented and artistic it boggles the mind.  I may have shared with you that I come from a large family.......okay, a VERY large family and we are scattered hither and yon.  One of my older sisters, I shall dub her Tomboy (because she was quite the tomboy growing up) lives in Yon (I live in Hither, myself), and she is one of these people.  And so are her children........gifted musically, academically, artistically, computerally (?).  Consequently, she recognizes exquisite skill and beauty when she sees it.  This week she sent me these marvelous one-page wonders from a pool of entries for an art contest at the Hirshhorn Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, D.C.  The rule:  only one sheet of paper could be used.

So marvel with me, dear readers, at the brilliance, the dexterity, the originality, and the story behind these one-sheet creations:


wow.....look at this one closely.....

the paper isn't even creased

how the !!!!!

flutter, flutter, flutter


inspired by the show Madmen?

Like so many others, I am obsessed
with that show.  

Now that ATT Uverse finally gets

or maybe Hitchcock......

this theme must lend itself to
this particular medium......

poetry, absolute poetry

do you recognize Australia?  I forgot
that geography would be part of the

I wonder what the weight of the paper is........


Now for your Logic lesson (I loved Logic in college)....
Follow this syllogism if you will:

If the garden ain't happy, Mama ain't happy

If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy       therefore

If the garden ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

Such is the nature of a gardener's world       agree?