Saturday, December 02, 2006


I found some great deals at the coalition this month!

8 whole roasting chickens for $20 - they're the garlic butter flavor though, which makes them-not-so-great for chicken pot pies with the leftovers. Oh, well.

4 of the big bags of Dole salad - .25 each

4 12" cheese pizzas - $1 each

2 cabbages for .25 a pound

4lbs of cheese tortellini for $3.99

12lb roast for $23

5lbs of ground beef - $7.69

Of course, I had to stop at the 'bad store' for odds and ends (mostly stuff to do things with the leftovers, like barbequed beef sandwiches), but I can manage 3 weeks of meals out of what we got for $102. It'll be so good to have beef again! Boiled beef and cabbage sounds so great right now, but it'll have to wait until after I cook the roast. What kills me every time I walk in there is that you can get some things cheaper at the 'bad store'. For instance; mac & cheese - 3 for $1 there, .33 at the 'bad store'. Granted, it's only a penny, but still. Small bag of egg noodles - $1, big bag at 'bad store' is .89.

I dug through my older stash of scrap fabric and yarns and found enough to make my Dad and SM some more things for Christmas, so that makes me feel much better. They'll get mostly homemade things, but it's the best we can do this year. It's a catch-22 with them. I think one of those rice and herb filled heating pads would be cool for Dad, and I can make a matching eye one for SM. EDIT: Oooo! I just read that corn as filler is better: . (hmmm, my link button is missing, along with all my other buttons! Ut-oh!) I can sneak across the road and get some from the field they never bothered to cut and I won't have to use what rice I have in the cupboard. Shhhhh! ;)

D hasn't said a word about putting up any Christmas lights this year, which for him is a very, very strange thing. He has this 'beat the neighbors' compulsion. Our house simply must be seen from the moon. Is it no wonder one of his favorite movies has always been National Lampoons Christmas Vacation?? Maybe it's as simple as that when he was a kid they were lucky to have a tree some years, much less any lights hung.

I'm debating on how soon to put up the tree. I'm not really in the mood this year. Actually, no one I know is. My SIL is usually so cheery and full of Christmas spirit, oh, about Halloween time, but this year she's as down in the dumps as I am. Her husband lost his job in September and there isn't another to be found anywhere, so I can't blame her, and I know how he feels. She was hinting last week that they might skip Christmas all together, except for their grand-daughter.

My children have already been threatened that I'll never speak to them again if they buy us anything for Christmas. I'm not sure that the instructions of "Make me a card" got through their little heads. I'd rather they had money for things they need than spend it on me. Besides, what's better than a card from your child made with their own hands? I don't think they know that really WOULD be the first thing on my Christmas list. At 22, 20, 16 and 14, they think it's just dumb, but they'll always be my 'babies'. I might have to jot a note to Santa about it...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Latin Shmatin

If I know the Latin name of a plant will it make it grow better?
Of course not. Will it expand my knowledge of a certain plant? Probably.

Now, I don't mind people that use the Latin name for a plant instead of its common name, ( it more than not will give me something to research) but it really does bother me if people are pretentious about it.

My grandmother could rattle off the Latin genus and species of every plant in her garden, but she also knew when not to.

There appear to be three distinct groups of thinking on this:

1. If you have no idea what the common name is for the plant, but rattle off only with the Latin, you're a friggin' plant genius, scientist, just want to show how smart you are or really enjoy Latin.

2. If you're only concerned with the common name of a plant and could really give a fig what the Latin counterpart is, you're obviously not a serious gardener.

3. If you occasionally pick up a Latin name along with the common, good for you!

I'm an obvious 3rd in this race. Interestingly, it's the one gardening subject I'm not obsessive about. Go figure.

Being a garden snob is just not cool. When someone points to a plant and says, "That is a Lobularia maritima," well, ok, good. But I'm still calling it an alyssum, so quit looking down your nose at me.

If I walk into a garden center and ask for a certain plant using its common name and they look at me as if my eye just fell out of the socket and say, "Oh, did you mean (insert Latin shmatin here)," I'm gone.

Conversely, I want to know that garden center knows what they're talking about, so do they actually know the Latin name for that plant? Does it matter? If it's pretty, will grow in my zone and cheap, I'm leaving with it anyway. But it better have the Latin name on the tag so I can do some research.

It all boils down to the area you're most comfortable in. I want to enjoy gardening, not feel as if it's a test of how smart I am - had enough of that in school, thank you very much.

I've seen so many people be intimidated by garden snobs that it's no wonder they give up. Who wants to be made to feel stupid?

Get comfortable with how much you know, and how much you don't. No one knows everything and everyone started out knowing nothing. There's always room to learn.

If I can succeed at getting a plant to grow to its potential, I simply call it something that fits every plant in my garden: Bellus.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Red Delight

I was upset that we didn't have cranberries for Thanksgiving. They were an extra that just couldn't be worked into the meal budget and the kids voted candied carrots over cranberry sauce. So I started thinking. (Yeah, uh-oh!)

Why can't I just grow my own? Ok, so it may be years before we'll get a harvest, but they are a native and grow wild, so why not? And that started a river of research.

Really, they aren't that mysterious of a plant. They do require certain growing conditions, but they are all easily met; the main being a PH of 6 or lower. They're light on disease and pest problems, and can even be grown in partial shade. (I don't think I'd try it though. I have plenty of full sun). If given the right conditions, a vine can last indefinitely. Winter protection can be rigged. Heck, according to Grow Your Own Magazine, you can even grow them in hanging baskets.

What would be better than walking out in your yard and picking some red delight right from your own vine?, where to get some cuttings? It isn't like they're your basic sell at a big box, much less a garden center or nursery. If I'm a lucky duck, people will find them an interesting and easy to grow plant that'll become the next 'all-the-rage/gotta-have' item.

I thought the edge of the bog would be an ideal place (though I knew they didn't actually grow in water, I knew they had high moisture requirements) since it would provide all the moist soil their little roots could want. We already have the sand and winter flooding wouldn't be a problem.

If the bog idea didn't work out, there's always the creek.

Unfortunately for D, this is sounding more and more like it might actually be do-able. Poor guy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Angels Among Us

an·gel (njl)

A guardian spirit or guiding influence.
a. A kind and lovable person.
b. One who manifests goodness, purity, and selflessness.

Kim (Blackswamp_Girl) is exactly that.

Out of the mailbox yesterday afternoon came a most precious package. It was filled with flower, herb and vegetable seed packets - 30 of them! - with comments on how best to get some of the harder ones to grow.

She sent it simply out of the kindness of her heart, expecting nothing in return. Now, how do you say 'thank you' enough to someone for being that generous? It really meant so much to me and I can't even put it into words to express how grateful I am.

For the first time in my life I'll be able to have an herb garden! This may seem trifling to some, but to me it means more than I can say. I'm simply overwhelmed by her kindness.

So, Kim, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you. Thank you for being so giving and generous to a stranger. Thank you for being kind to a fellow gardener. And, most of all, thank you for being an angel.

I'm Doomed

Chocolate is good for your health.

Ok, let me say that again...chocolate is good for your health.

Ummm, nope, no matter how much I say it, I still hate chocolate. Gross, Ick, Yuck! So, I'm doomed to die of a blood clot. I guess it's nice to know how I'll go, cause there is no way they are getting chocolate down my throat.

All right, all kidding aside, it's true. John Hopkins says so - see:



Chicago Tribune

Science News


Next they'll be telling me ice cream is good for you. Groooooossssss!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Simply Simple

The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.-- Edmund Burke

I believe him. I'm obviously more simple than the average bear. And sometimes (ok, 90% of the time) it's my downfall. I can't help it...I want to know why, when, where and how that plant grows. Ick, I sound like a garden reporter. At least, thanks to the internet, I don't have to haunt the library, only getting the 'experts' views on everything. I can get hands-on-been-there-done-that from real people. With pictures even!

I discovered a casualty in the front flowerbed this weekend; the white rose my SIL bought me at a Dollar Shop sale in the spring. Though the magnifying glass didn't uncover much forensic evidence, I suspect the local no-gooders. Why are they messing with me, for Pete sake? I'm not the one dressed in orange, stealing stealthily through the naked woods with gun slung across my back to have an 8 point trophy adorning my living room wall! I'm quite happy to leave their heads attatched to their bodies. Maybe just knock a few teeth out.

There was only one decimated cane, but still, it broke my heart. So, in it came and promptly got pruned into 3 cuttings, plopped into some potting soil, sealed in a soda bottle, wrapped in an enigma...

I'm crossing my fingers, though I don't hold out much hope. Hey, it's still sending out leaves, so there's hope, right? Right? (I am soooo ignoring you nay-sayers right now).

SIL informed me yesterday (yes, the same that buys me plants I love, which either get destroyed with no evidence of why, or defiantly croak on me, also with no evidence of why) that someone in town had a huge gob of potted mums in the trash pile for Monday's yard waste pickup.

Say what?
D gave her the 'Why do you have to tell her this stuff' look and sighed. Of course, she smiled triumphantly and proceeded to tell me where. Now, if I had been driving we would have made it in time, but no, D had to dawdle and I missed the pots. The neighbor dumped the mums upside down uncerimoniously and swiped them to use as protection for...something.

But - I got the mums! Happy dance! Woohooooo! All mine baby, all mine! Broken and trampled, but mine.
The bad, bad wasters (I can't help it - they are!) left a bunch of gourds and pumpkins too, in perfect condition no less, but I wasn't sure if they were the cooking kind or not. Can you cook and consume any pumpkin? See, now I think I should have snatched those too! And I could have made bird houses and feeders from the gourds!! Damn!! Can you hear me smashing my head on the desk? Well, there wasn't any more room in the trunk anyway?

I wonder what time the town starts the pickup in that area...