Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Candy Cane Garden

I have a dream to one day own a large plot of land and start a Christmas tree farm/Christmas Village. I would have it open year round for Christmas lovers and have craft programs for children. I would love to have events for sick/terminally ill children and children who live in poverty and may not get to experience the things that children of privilege do. On the land, around the elves homes and workshops( and my studio), I would plant these flowers interspersed with solid red, white and green flowers. Most are available from Brecks, the Tree Peony and Gladiolus from Van Bourgondien( the pictures have links to their sites)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Product Recommendation - Market Pantry Black Tea

I don't usually do product reviews on the blog but I found a product I love. While grocery shopping for baby food and lunches for my husband, I decided to try a new product(for me at least) from Target and decided I must share. I'm always looking for ways to save money while buying quality products. Let's be honest, you don't save anything if the product you buy is cheaper but tastes like crap. You usually end up trying to find something else more palatable and throwing or giving the other away. I have yet to be disappointed by products by Target's own food brand, Market Pantry. This is no exception.

So, I was looking for a good tea for making iced tea. I'm very particular about my iced tea as I drink it unsweetened and often just chilled not iced. I prefer a black tea but I don't like any bitterness or an odd aftertaste(Tea drinkers know there usually is a tea taste after drinking a cup of tea but I hate a bitterness lingering on my palate after I've finished) Market Pantry Black Tea has a wonderful flavor. It comes packaged 24 large tea bags per box, ideal for making large quantities of tea (each bag makes 1 quart of tea, hot or cold) I used 5 tea bags and 5 quarts of water to fill my iced tea dispenser which will probably last me a week. The tea brewed for about 5 minutes and the resulting strength and flavor is just right for me. [Tea tip: don't squeeze the tea bags when you remove them as it will release a bitter taste in your tea, I don't remember if it is an oil in the leaves or something else but it definitely taints the flavor of the brewed tea] The best part is it was only $1.79 for the box (at our Target, I assume that prices may vary) which will probably keep me in tea for a month. They do offer a decaffeinated version which I would guess is just as good if you prefer to avoid the caffeine however, with a toddler running me ragged, I won't be trying that one any time soon! If you do try it let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime I'm going to go have a nice tall glass of fresh brewed iced tea.YUM!!

Seedling Update

Recently transplanted seedlings:
Spanish Flag

Four O'clocks - Happy in Their Permanent Home

Brandywine Tomatoes

Gangly Calendula Seedlings

Chinese Forget-me-nots

Yellow Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Butternut Squash

Phlox in the Backyard Flower Bed

Pinks in the Backyard

Long shot of the Pitiful Backyard Flowerbed.
Obviously needs some work and some mulch!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Being Productive

I don't know why but the heat [it's been 85 degrees + for 4 days] makes me want to work on Christmas decorations! I just re-listed a few ornaments in my Christmas shop and started paper mâché-ing some oversized Starlight peppermints. I also have some alien guts [photo] left over from my ultimate play dough set order so I'm going to list it separately after I design a new label for it. The garden is fine for now. I still need to start a few vegetables but for the most part it's up to Mother Nature!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Edged and Mulched the Front Flower Bed

I woke up relatively early and wanted to get out into the garden before the heat kicked in. We needed to edge the flower bed and I wasn't sure how long it was going to take. While my husband slept, my little one and I went out front to work. I wanted to expand the beds a little so I would have more space for overflow annuals. I managed to get half of the first roll of edging done when my husband joined us. He started digging up the front of the bed while I continued to bury the edging. Long story short, my arthritic shoulder started bothering me so I put mulch down while hubby finished the edging. He did a much better job anyway and he may even go back and redo my portion of it! [Okay by me since his did look much better]

Tulips in my vegetable garden. I'll be moving these up front when they are finished blooming.

Another photo of the mutant flower. By the way, it smells as fabulous as it looks!

The Crab Apple tree in bloom. The apple tree will be blooming soon(the two are rooted in the same place so it looks like we have a two-toned tree, pink on the bottom and white on top)The apple tree looks like it will survive, so far at least, it is sending out new shoots.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blooms, Survival and Cats

The mutant plant has finally bloomed and this is what we have:

Quite lovely!

When we moved to Cleveland from Columbus 2 years ago, I was 9 months pregnant and never was able to get my plants and bulbs from my last garden into the ground. Last year, I tried to save my lilies but the bulbs looked like they wouldn't survive, some were rotted and they had been in a large pot outside all winter long. I planted them in the flower bed anyway. Last year I had one bulb send up a shoot but it was small and weak and I didn't expect much. Well... another winter has passed, I now have a bunch of shoots from 3 different bulbs. I don't know which type survived (I had three or four different varieties) but I look forward to a surprise in a few short months! I'll keep you posted.

Moral of the story: Never give up on your bulbs, their resilience may surprise you.
(Hmmmm....I see a personal lesson here too!)

Labrador Violets

Two rotten cats (Oscar and Scooter)
Oscar's subliminal message: you will let me out, I command you to let me out
Scooter's: Come on, come on, come on, let me out, let me out
To which I said: Hell no!

I love my cats and don't want any harm to come to them. We are way too close to the road and have a few vicious dogs in the neighborhood (the neighbor dog killed a young squirrel last year).
So, alas, they remain disgruntled indoor cats!