Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Flowers - Norfolk Pine

Every year I saw these pine trees in stores at Christmas decorated with red bows. I enjoyed their willowy branches and wished I had room for one. When I moved into a larger home, I decided I would buy one.  It was beautiful, exactly what I wanted, but in the end . . . my house was still not big enough. Within two years the tree was taller than me and I’m 6’ tall! 

But if you still want to try one on your own, I’d say go for it.  Its soft foliage makes a pleasant addition to any room.
Norfolk Pines are not grown on Norfolk Island off the east coast of the US, but grown on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific and reach almost eighty foot when grown in their natural habitat. They are best grown indoors where temperatures stay above 50 degrees. They need bright light, but never put them in the sun.  Drafts, extremes temperatures, and sudden temperature changes will affect the health of the tender pine.

Some keys to keeping them healthy:
               **Water about once a week keeping the soil moist, but not wet.

               **Turn the tree often to keep it symmetrical.
               **Do not prune a Norfolk Pine except to remove dead branches.

               **Avoid direct sunlight as the needles will brown and never be replaced.

If you want to use your Norfolk Pine as a Christmas tree – go right ahead. But remember to keep the soil moist and don’t leave decorations on any longer than necessary. 

The key to this pine tree is remembering despite its aggressive growth rate, it is very delicate.

Norfolk Pine Toxicity:

The ASPCA says the tree can be toxic to dogs and cats.  It may cause vomiting and depression if ingested.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Gifts - A gift for Grandma

Here is another idea I pulled from Pinterest that kids can help with. The same idea can be done on a t-shirt using fabric paints. Again, I take no credit for the design or the work.  I thought it would be a great idea to share.  You can check out the following link for more details: 

How to Paint Child's Handprints on Ceramics
To get started making handprint art on a ceramic dish, you will first need to gather all the necessary supplies and decide what kind of dish you are going to paint. Be sure the dish has been thoroughly washed and dried. You also need to wipe it down with alcohol and a paper towel to remove any hidden residue.

Before attempting to make the handprints, make sure to wash your child's hand. Dirt and oil from his or her hand could potentially affect the quality of the paint. Below are the supplies you will need and step-by-step directions for painting your ceramic platter.

    **  Ceramic serving platter
    **  Ceramic paint - green, blue, yellow, red, and purple
  **  Ceramic paint markers - black and white
  **  Letter stencils (optional)
  **  Paintbrushes
  **  Alcohol
  **  Paper towels


  **  Wash and dry ceramic dish. Wipe down dish with alcohol and a paper towel to remove any residue.

  **  After washing your child's hand, use paintbrush to cover the hand completely with desired color of ceramic paint.

  **  Press child's hand firmly down on the platter. The gloss on the ceramic platter makes it slippery but try to keep the hand from moving.

  **  Carefully lift up your child's hand. If satisfied with the print, move on to the next color of handprint flower. If you wish to start over, quickly wash platter with warm water or use alcohol to help remove paint.

  **  Once you have completed the handprint flowers, paint stems and leaves to bottom of the prints. Add grass to bottom of platter.

  **  Use a black ceramic paint marker to write "(insert name here)'s Garden" up above the flowers. You can also use letter stencils to help with this if you do not wish to free hand the title.

  **  To make the butterflies, cover your child's index finger with black ceramic paint and press firmly to platter. Once dry, add colorful wings, antennas to head, and cute faces to the butterflies.

  **  To make either the ladybug or bumblebee, use red or yellow ceramic paint to cover the tip of your child's thumb and press firmly to platter. Once dry, add black dots or stripes, antennas, legs or stinger, and cute bug faces. I used the black ceramic marker to decorate these bugs.

  **  Once satisfied with the design, set platter on baking pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes on 300 degrees. Do NOT preheat the oven. Let the platter gradually warm with the oven to prevent cracking or shattering.

  **  Carefully take the pan out of the oven and set aside in a safe area to allow the platter to completely cool.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Flowers - Poinsettia

For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a half-dozen or more Poinsettia plants decorating my home. I love their deep red flowers against the mass of dark green.  Although there are other colors such as white or pink, I still stay with the traditional variety.  But what stunned me most was when I went to Florida around Christmas to visit my parents and saw just how big they grew. Bushes up to thirteen foot in height loaded with red blooms were as prolific as Lilacs in Ohio. 

So if you, like me, love to bring them home or enjoy passing them off as a gift, here are a few suggestions.

**Poinsettias are a tropical plant that enjoys temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F.
**So if you need to carry them out into inclement weather, wrap them up, but make sure you unwrap them as soon as you are in to reduce the amount of damage to the leaves.
**Poinsettias can last long into winter months if kept by a sunny window and away from drafts (hot or cold). And don’t let the leaves touch the cold window.

Poinsettias will flower again next year with a little TLC. 

     **After flowers have died off (February-March timeframe), cut each of the stems back to 4 to 6 inches in height, leaving one to three leaves on each branch. Keep the plant in a sunny window and fertilize every two weeks.

     **In late spring or early summer after all danger of frost has past you can plant it in a shady area outside and water frequently.  Then in August prune the branches again like you did in late winter.

     **Before first frost take it inside, keep fertilizing every other week.  In September make sure the plant is kept in complete darkness from late afternoon until morning.  Do this until red starts showing in the leaves.

Poinsettia Toxicity:

On the whole toxicity from Poinsettia plants is overrated.  However, Irritation to the mouth and stomach, can sometimes causing vomiting. From what I’ve read it would take eating many leaves to cause a reaction.  I would, however, error on the side of caution.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Gifts for Bird Lovers

I am always on the lookout for inexpensive gifts to make around the holidays. This is easily made for the bird lovers on your Christmas List.  What makes it even better is you can get the kids to help you!  I take no credit for the idea and I recognize the efforts of the person who wrote the blog. I found this on Pinterest along with some other inexpensive gift items and thought you’d enjoy them. You can look it up at
·        2 packets Knox gelatin
·        2/3 cups water
·        2 cups birdseed
Other things you’ll need
Cooking spray
Cookie cutters
Wax or parchment paper
·        In a small saucepan, mix gelatin and water. Turn on a medium heat and stir until the gelatin simmers.  Add in the birdseed and mix thoroughly.  Pull pan from burner and let cool slightly.
·        While cooling line a pan with the wax paper.  Spray the sides of each cookie cutter, then spoon in birdseed mixture. Insert a straw to make a hole for hanging.
·        Cool in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Remove straws and tie with twine.
·        This recipe makes 2 cookies about 4 inches across.

For something slightly different, spoon seed mixture into muffin pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Place the straw in the center.  Cool and tie as above.

Here's another idea:
For another birdfeeder idea, check out this site.  Its great for all those mis-matched pieces of china in your cupboard.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Flowers – Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

As the Christmas season approaches we sometime purchase plants for neighbors, friends or ourselves to brighten up the holidays.  So, for the next few weeks, I thought I’d cover a few of the more common ones and a few things you should know before buying them.

Christmas Cactus or Schlumbergera as it’s known by its scientific name grows in a jungle and prefers semi-shade. Unlike desert-dwelling cacti, it prefers a well-lit and humid atmosphere. You can increase the local humidity by placing the pot in a gravel-filled saucer.

Christmas Cacti are easy to grow and non-toxic to dogs and cats. It comes in many colors—red, purple, pink, and white. And it is fairly easy to grow.  It requires little to no pruning, but removing a few of the oldest stems will increase the foliage.  Remove whole leaf segments and root them for additional plants.

Problems associated with Christmas Cactus:

***Shriveling stems:  caused by the plant being in a too hot and sunny situation. However it is often due to root deterioration cause by over or under watering.

***Discolored and damaged stems:  caused by the plant being placed in a situation that is too hot and sunny. Although it is a cacti, it’s natural habitat is a woodland setting with dappled shade.

***Non-flowering:  the plant must experience conditions to mimic autumn changes such has shortening days and a drop in temperatures. 

***Flower bud dropping:  is caused by fluctuating temperatures or overwatering.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving



May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving. And may it follow you through the rest of this year and into next.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks

As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, it is time to lift our heartfelt gratitude up to the God who has been by our side through the trials, the heartbreak, the tears, the laughter, and the joy.  My family has faced its share of trouble this year, but through it all God has been faithful.

I thank Him, for His amazing grace and love that has carried us through the tough times. I am thankful for his provision, and most of all I am thankful for His son who loved me enough to die on the cross.

As you travel to meet with friends and family this holiday season, I pray you count your blessings and walk away in awe of God’s love for you, peace for today, and a vision for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

Promise to Protect is Patricia Bradley’s second novel in her Logan Point series. Much like her first novel, Shadows of the Past, Promise to Protect is a book that will keep you glued to the page through the whole book.

The heroine, Leigh Somerall has had her life turned upside down when her brother is murdered and she suddenly finds her life and the life of her young son threatened.

Because of the ongoing threat Leigh must depend on the one person she walked away from years before . . . Sheriff Ben Logan.

Ben is dealing with his own share of problems including protecting the one woman that has stirred his blood and his memories for years.

Patricia Bradley has woven a story of intrigue that leaves the reader suspect even the innocent characters in the book. If you’re looking for a well-written, exciting read, this is it. Promise to Protect is a first rate suspense novel and I look forward to the next book in her series.
Promise to Protect can be found on Amazon at


Monday, November 17, 2014

What did I learn from my 2014 Garden?

As you have seen from my other posts, I take the time to keep a gardening journal. I even devoted my summer newsletter to the advantages of journaling and the many topics that a person can write about. You can find it at:

So here are a few of my journal entries of the victories and challenges I faced this year:

**Irrigation – The irrigation I installed this year proved to be well worth the money spent. I was able to reach all the plants, even the trees bordering my garden. I do need to bury some of the outer hoses before I use them again next year because the rodents chew holes in them.
**Roses, Monarda, and Daylily – these plants do exceptionally well in this climate. Will need to divide the Monarda next year and move further back in my beds so it doesn’t block the view of the other plants.  Will need to fertilize the roses first thing in the spring and divide daylily’s.
**Frost Danger – Frost came early this year and took out what was left of the annuals that survived the hail storm in August. Starting them in the house prior to planting outside was a big boon to their success.  Will need to try more and different plants next year.  Especially ones that can’t be planted until all danger of frost has passed—which is hardly ever here in this desert climate.
**Tomatoes – although I had no problem growing tomatoes in Ohio, they have been a challenge in Nevada because of the cool nights.  Will need to do more research on them during the winter months.
**Rodents - Will need to improve fencing along the deck to prevent some of the smaller animals from coming in.
**Next year – Start peas earlier next year and build a higher fence for them to grow up. Will need to move Monarda and separate Iris due to good growth this year.
So there you have it, just a few entries from 2014.
Your turn:  What is an entry you put in your gardening journal?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just for fun - Misspelled Signs

Just for fun, I did a search on misspelled signs. They ranged from handmade to official road signs. They were on schools, businesses, and parking lots. So I typed a few in (making my spell checker go nuts), so you could read them.

It’s no wonder we don’t have more accidents with these signs:
  **  Sus Stop
  **  No trough road
  **  Go slow accident porn area
  **  Violators will be towed and find $50
  **  Slow Chidren
  **  Private Customer Parking Only – All others will be toad
  **  Motercycle Parking
  **  Dont’t drink and drive
  **  Vehical Parking
  **  Stop for Pedestrains
  **  No Unortherised Parking
  **  Bmup
  **  No parking in stripped areas
  **  Yeild
  **  Yosmite use Rte 120 east
  **  Please slow Drively
  **  Parrallel parking
  **  Main Steet
  **  Speed lump
  **  Drive-thru Enterance

And we wonder why our kids are having trouble in school? 
  **  Shcool Parking
  **  English is our language – No excetions, learn it
  **  Speeling Bee 9:00 a.m.
  **  Congradulations Spelling Bee winners
  **  Leteracy Night Dec 8
  **  Welcome back – Hope you hade a good brake
  **  Our teachers make a differance
  **  Our school seconnd to non

And, a few more…just for fun:
  **  All Busniesses open as usual
  **  Opening Febuary 2010
  **  Homade Chili
  **  Bonerless Top Sirloin Steaks
  **  Moveing Sale

Monday, November 10, 2014


When I was little, my mother had a painted gourd birdhouse one of her aunts made for her. I have no idea where it went, but I started doing some research on them, I was amazed at how widely they were used. Did you know there are bowls, dippers, drinking vessels, hats and musical instruments made from gourds?

Hard-shelled gourds are members of the pumpkin and squash family and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. When they are dry, which takes about one to six months, they are as hard as wood. While growing they can be “trained” by bending them or placing them in a container.  When the gourd fills out the container, break the mold.

After picking, the gourd must be cured and dried prior to painting or using.

I’m always looking out for new things to make, so all I can say is . . . stay tuned and see what I can do next year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pumpkin Roll


This is always a hit at the holiday season. One year myself and another woman baked continuously for a week and made over $1000. by selling these popular rolls.

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup Pumpkin
¾ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Mix together, line greased cookie sheet with waxed paper. Spread dough over waxed paper, sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle a damp linen towel with powdered sugar. Turn the cake out onto the towel.  Carefully roll the towel up lengthwise jelly roll fashion and cool for about 20 minutes.
1 - 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Mix together.
Unroll dough and spread with filling mixture.
Immediately roll cake up again. Wrap in plastic wrap.
This can be made about 2 weeks ahead and frozen.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Plant of the Month - Pumpkins

Although the time for growing pumpkins is long past, in November our thoughts drift toward Baked Pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin roll.  Yum.  So I thought it would talk a little about growing a large pumpkin.  First here are some of the basics:
Light:  Sun
Type:  Vegetable
Height:  1 to 3 feet
Width:  10-20 feet wide (yes…they need LOTS of space)

Growing them L-A-R-G-E

  **  First of all get the right seeds, not all pumpkins are grown for their size.

  **  Plant them in the sun, but avoid windy areas.

  **  Pumpkins need a lot of water in a well-drained area. 

  **  Prepare the soil early by adding rotting cow manure.

  **  You may have to start them indoors if your area gets frost in late April or early May.

  **  Watch for the female flowers – you can tell which ones they are by the small ball at the base of each flower. 

  **  Make sure it is on a strong vine, otherwise pluck it from the branch.

  **  If you are not interested in letting nature take its course, you can pick a fresh male bloom and rub the stamen in the center of the female.

  **  When two or three healthy looking pumpkins start to form, remove all new female flowers and any other pumpkins that start growing.  Keep the vine pruned, pinching tips and side shoots off the vine that will take away the energy the plant needs to grow that one special pumpkin.

  **  Large pumpkins are thirsty and hungry, especially toward the end of summer. Some will expand as much as two inches every night.  So give each plant about twenty gallons of water a week, watering at the base of the plant. 

Now, sit back at watch your prize pumpkin grow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nevada Turns 150 Years Old

Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864 and this year is celebrates its Sesquicentennial so I thought I’d share a few facts about the Silver state. 

·        Although it is called the Silver state, it is also known as the Sagebrush state and the Battle Born state.

·        The name Nevada came from the Spanish word nieve meaning "snow-capped”. 

·        It is the seventh largest state in the union and the most mountainous. 

·        Over 90% of Nevada is owned by BLM (the Bureau of Land Management). 

·        In 1999 Nevada had 205,726 slot machines, one for every 10 residents.

·        Nevadans usually pronounce the second syllable of their state name using the /æ/ vowel of "bad". Many from outside the Western United States pronounce it with the /ɑː/ vowel of "father" /nəˈvɑːdə/.

·        Samuel Clemens moved to Virginia City and took the penname "Mark Twain" as a reporter working for the "Territorial Enterprise.”

·        Carson City is one of the smallest state capitals in the country.

·        Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the nation. It is second in the world behind South Africa.

·        Hoover Dam, the largest single public works project in the history of the United States, contains 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete, which is enough to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York.

·        The state's Highway 50, known as the Loneliest Highway in America, received its name from "Life" magazine in 1986. There are few road stops in the 287 mile stretch between Ely and Fernley.

·        Nevada tribes include the Shoshone, Washo and Paiute.

·        Area 51 is acknowledged with State Route 375 officially christened "The Extraterrestrial Highway" in a ceremony featuring the director and cast of the movie "Independence Day." The highway runs between Alamo and Tonopah. There is a tiny restaurant stop at the Little Ale' Inn at Rachel.

·        The only Nevada lake with an outlet to the sea is man made Lake Mead.

·        Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other place on earth.

·        The longest morse code telegram ever sent was the Nevada state constitution. Sent from Carson City to Washington D.C. in 1864. The transmission must have taken several hours.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Cleanup: Do you agree or disagree?

I read an article several weeks ago (sorry I can’t remember from what website, or I’d mention it here), but it isn’t the first time I’ve read this.
In the article I looked at, the writer talked about clearing out their gardening beds in the fall, to remove the dying plants and adding them to a compost bin. By doing so removed the threat of diseases from spreading. They also suggested rototilling it then laying down a layer mulch or a cover crop.  For perennial beds, they suggested cleaning it out and applying mulch.

I guess I’d say I have to disagree, I generally don’t clear out my vegetable beds or my perennial gardens until spring. Perhaps it is a matter of preference or I never encountered the problems they did.

I understand that by depositing dying plants into a compost bin, the gardener is creating additional fuel for his compost for the following year.  But I’m wondering if they haven’t created just more work for themselves by clearing out the beds in the fall then again in the spring. 

Nature, for the most part, provides a natural mulch with leaves and the dying growth from the current year. By leaving the natural layer, it provides the animals with things to nibble on in the winter as well. I don’t mind the spring cleanup because after being inside for the winter, I enjoy the work.

However, I am, by no means am married to either process, so I’m asking you—do you agree or disagree?  Do you prefer to clean out your beds in the spring or the fall?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

GPS - how would we get along without it?

There are very few of us who are unfamiliar with satellite-based navigation system called GPS (Global Positioning Systems). We have them on our phones, in our cars, and our Garmins. Hikers, hunters, snowmobile enthusiasts, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers enjoy the ability to track their progress or their position when they’re out having fun.

A year ago I purchased a GPS tracker for my husband who does a lot of riding in the “wilderness” of Nevada.  Every ten minutes or so it sends back a signal where I can track his progress. There are several buttons in case of emergency along with customizable ones that inform me of his progress.  It provides a level of comfort that I can always track where he is at as he treks through the mountains behind our home.

Last month, after staying in Alaska to take care of my son who’d been in a serious accident, my hubby drove home.  He turned on his tracker and I was able to follow him all the way to our back door.  You can see the print screen I took of his progress (all except the first day).
Growing up, this kind of technology was unheard of.  In fact, the first GPS satellite wasn't launched in 1978 and the grid of 24 satellites wasn't completed until 1994.  But today, it’s common to punch in your desire for a cup of Starbucks coffee, or a friends address and find its location to within 15 meters.  For some it is used for security.

I often wonder how we ever made it down the road before GPS.  I guess we needed to learn how to read a map!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Weed Cleanup

I’ve covered weeds in a couple of blog posts earlier this year, so I thought I’d follow up with a couple of winter weed tips.

If you’ve kept up with your weeding through the year, this may not be an issue, but weeds do not stop growing—even in winter.  Okay, they probably do, but why give them months of uninterrupted time to get a head start on you? Even though I’ve stated in the past that I only weed once a year, I do give my garden a once over in the fall trying to catch those sneaky ones that have escaped my notice.

Remove the invasive weeds and unwanted plants.  But be careful.  Fall is when weeds go to seed. If you disturb the soil too much, what seeds have fallen on the ground have the opportunity to germinate. Also, make sure you don’t put weeds or invasive plants, especially the seed heads, in your compost pile as they will populate your garden next year.  Then mulch—it’s still the best weed preventer there is.

If you have a bed that has generally “gone to the weeds”, then smother any new plants by covering it with a sheet of black plastic and secure it with rocks or bricks. Next spring you’ll have a garden free of weeds.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Regret Nothing

I must admit that from time to time I have considered getting a tattoo—albeit a very small one—like a rose the size of a dime on my shoulder.  But the thought of the permanent ink going awry has stopped me in my tracks every time.  While looking up a word on I ran across a list of misspelled tattoos. Unlike Melanie Griffith’s band aid cover up of her relationship with Antonio Banderas, some of the mistakes are too big for band aids and now the words are permanently etched into their skin.

So I’m taking a poll. What would you do if you got a tattoo only to realize it was misspelled?

Monday, October 13, 2014

What to do with Potted Chrysanthemums

One of the things I look forward to in fall is the blooming of Chrysanthemums. I covered them in my Plant of the Month post last Monday. They are abundant in size, shape, and color and bloom well into fall giving your dying garden a splash of color.  They come in two basic varieties:  Florist Mums and Hardy Mums. Florist Mums, grown in zone 7 or higher, are generally the ones you find in the stores in the spring, whereas Hardy Mums can grow in zones 4 through 9. 

Chrysanthemums are easy to grow, but should be planted in the early spring after all danger of frost is gone. The roots need at least six weeks without extreme heat or cold before they become established perennials. So what do you do with the plants you get in the fall to decorate your home, decks, and patios? 

Potted mums aren’t necessarily grown to be perennials, but then again, I have stuck them in the ground only to have them come up again in the spring.  And sometimes, they didn’t.

After they’ve outlived their usefulness as the bright spot next to your door, I suggest go ahead and plant them in your garden.  Plant them in the ground as soon as possible, even if they look done in. Even though they may look dead, doesn’t mean they are—they could just be dormant. By not planting them, the plants will definitely die, at least this way you have a chance of them popping up in your garden next spring.

So what do you do?  Clip off all the foliage to a couple inches of the top of the pot.  Find a spot that gets lots of sun and has rich, well-drained soil. You could even plant them in a sheltered area like next to the house for added protection from the frost.  Plant them at the same depth as they were in the pot.  Water and mulch them well.

Who knows, maybe you’ll see them reappear next spring.

Your turn:  Have you tried planting the mums you buy this time of year?  What results did you have?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why I pay the price to go to writers conferences:

               Every year I try to take in at least one writer’s conference or retreat. I put money aside, so I can get on a plane and rub shoulders with other authors, editors, and agents. Why? Because it’s all about marketing. It’s all about meeting other writers, learning from the challenges they are facing, making connections that will help a writer, interested in pursuing a publishing career, later on.
               But it’s also about the friendships established and molded over the years. At my very first conference, I met three very special writers: Debra Clopton, Linda Goodnight, and Janet Tronstad. We spent an afternoon touring San Francisco, but even more, their passion for writing made me determined to move ahead with my desire to be an author.
               Several years later, I attended a Susan May Warren My Book Therapy retreat. The friendships we molded on that long weekend together are still with me today. We created a group called The Ponderers and we do weekly blogs at Several in the group have moved on to publishing careers and we rejoice with each success. I was able to meet with another group, shown here, that I have made casual and professional connections with over the years.
               Some may believe writing is a lonely profession, but if my experience to day is any indication, it takes a whole team of writers behind you to help you along and going to a conference makes the difference.