Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summertime is Precious Time

I keep meaning to write in my blog and transform it into a journal type of read regarding family, gardening and 'cooking from scratch'. Instead I find myself posting my comments, quotes I find and ideas on facebook, because it seems faster.  I'm going to stop doing that as of today.

 I read an article this morning written my a writer/mom regarding her feelings of summer with her children. It brought to mind an essay I wrote for our local paper (hard to believe eleven years ago)*. I re-read my piece, smiled a little bittersweetly, but happy to be where we are now as well. This essay was written at the end of summer about the precious days and nights for children while out of school. For me, now days long gone, though still close to my heart. My children are no longer running though sprinklers, though it still sounds like fun to me. Now they are busy with friends, jobs, high school & college... and all the other activities that are oh so important for fifteen to twenty year olds.  I always try to appreciate these moments, a blink and then they are gone. This is especially why I love to write, or journal. What is no longer a part of our daily life can be revisted forever through words. A very satisfying feeling.

- until next time, c

*(I'm sharing the essay below for those interested in reading it.) Your comments are always welcome.

THEN: Summer 2002 (ages 6, 7 and 11)

NOW:  Difficult to find a photo of all three together these days, these are somewhat recent...
 winter 2011 (ages 15, 16 and 20)


Summertime is Precious Time
By Cathy Collins

So here we are again, the time of year everyone talks about. They even have commercials about it-Staples comes to mind- finally, the kids are going back to school!  This disturbs me. Every time I see that commercial I wonder what a child must think while watching it… 'my parents can’t wait to get me out of their hair'?

It saddens me to think that summer is ending. No more coming down to a leisurely breakfast in the morning with the kids excitedly asking: “what are we going to do today mom”?

I’m anticipating this sense of loss before the kids go back to school. I know my two youngest are really going to miss their ‘buddy’, their older sister, once school starts.  Who am I kidding I am going to miss her too, our frequent late nights… for a steal away dinner, or a movie.

When children reach school age, the summer is the only time of year when they have, in their minds, complete freedom.

During the summer you can linger with your children at the lunch and dinner table. Talk about your day, allow the kids to be creative with their plans for the afternoon, or after dinner, since you don’t have to work around homework and most school year activities.

Don’t get me wrong, schedules are great, they keep us sane when we would otherwise be totally crazed. But this all too short respite during the summer is a welcome relief to the fast pace of the school year.

Before you know it, kids are expected to manage their own schedules. High school, part-time jobs and activities…and then they are off to college. When they are young, kids should be given the opportunity to be kids.

 Each day of summer is a new experience or perhaps the same old thing. But each day really does belong to the children during the summer. It is a gift of time for them, to do with as they wish.

Swinging on the swings, looking up at the clear blue sky, trying to grab the sun and keep it with them forever. Or just sitting side by side on the swings, licking drippy popsicles and talking- about nothing, about everything.

Building a fort in the backyard keeps children of all ages happily busy for a whole afternoon. For a day: they become architects, construction workers and interior designers. They teach themselves to manage employees, designate responsibilities and promote deserving workers...all in a days play!   

 The resourcefulness of young children always amazes me. When given the time, they use their vivid imaginations to make up games. Or they play classic games with an added twist- to accommodate children of different ages. These games can go on for hours, all it takes is time. In this hectic world we live in, summer is the season for children, when this precious free time belongs to them.

The jingle of the ice-cream truck propels them from their game of the moment. The next big decision in their life is what kind of ice cream to get.

Everyday is a weekend for kids in the summertime, as it should be. During the school year it is a different type of learning, more structured, less creative.

I get weary thinking of the schedule that most kids today work through on a daily basis.  Between school and activities, fourth and fifth graders today are as busy as high school kids were in my day. They don’t seem any worse for the wear, though it surely means that these carefree days of summer are that much more important.

Maybe if life were a little slower paced, a bit more like it was 30 years ago, maybe then the end of summer wouldn’t seem like a loss.

If they want to catch bugs or chase butterflies, I’ll cheer them on. If they want to play hopscotch of have a hula-hoop contest, I’ll join them. The glee and excitement they feel now when I spray them with the garden hose will be just a memory in a few years time… something only little kids do.

I am savoring these last moments of summer with my children, because that is all they are, moments and then they are gone.

At least by stepping back and appreciating these moments they will always stay with us. School schedules resume, life goes on, but the memories of the fun filled, leisurely days of summer cannot be taken away from us.  ~           September 2000

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

How to Prune Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Video

Home Garden Composting

I found my compost bin that I started way back when my college junior was in third grade! I had followed all the directions way back then before it was forgotten, don't ask. In recent years it has been covered by brush branches which I am currently cutting away. So excited to find it because I had been planning on getting back into it.

My question to any expert out there   @Chris McLaughlin   does compost ever go bad if it has been ignored for years, not turned, etc. It appears to be the 'black gold' everyone wishes/strives for but before I use it I want to be sure it is ok. The cover was off, it is very wet, smells clean, no seedlings or animal droppings. There may be some of that white mold when I get in deeper. Hoping that it's ok. I would let it dry out a bit before using.

(I've removed the top layer in photos)

FRIENDS: please follow/friend Chris McLaughlin's (she's on facebook.) She's a wealth of knowledge with many published books to her name; she just published one on compost! She's a wonderful writer,  grabs your attention, easy to read...  and they are all fact filled.

Hope you have a great day, it's warm, humid and overcast here in Boston ... great day for planting.

Frozen compost piles - just keep adding stuff ... this looks interesting as well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pruning, Deadheading

I love finding an ignored plant/bush in need of TLC. Usually at the end of season you can buy it significant discount to plant and try to revive with your TLC.
Late last summer I bought 3 butterfly bushes that
had been overlooked by the Home Depot waterers, so they had fininshed flowering earlier than usual. I thought at 3 for $10 it was worth my effort to try to revive. Until now I haven't researched care for them at all. they made it thru the winter in their pots and are now starting to grow with tiny budding leaves on existing branches.

Now comes the hard part. Through research I found I must cut these back to the ground (now) in early spring. This will encourage the plants growth to be bushy, and I guess it is a vigorous grower.

I wonder how many gardeners have this issue. You see new growth, whether vegetables, flowers, bushes; and you are so excited. You know you should cut it back and you don't. I've been guilty of this in the past with roses. (Note to self: try roses again next year)

So this year I shall take the 'pruner plunge' and go for it with these bushes. I saw these plants while in bloom and they are magnificant I really don't want to hinder their growth. So, I shall follow directions and we'll see what happens. I'll be sure to keep you posted. I'm in zone 6 (Boston) and would LOVE LOVE LOVE feedback on your experiences with butterfly bushes. Hope to hear from you. I will post pictures along the way.

Info regarding BUTTERFLY BUSHES (Buddleia davidii) Nanho Purple (variation non hoensis)

Requires FULL SUN
Blooms mid-summer to early fall
Water wekly during dry spells
Grows 4'-5' tall,
Space 5' apart
"Sweetly fragrant flowers on compact plants attract a profusion of butterflies to your garden. Stunning in perennial shrub plantings or in large groupings. Remove faded flowers for continuous bloom. Prune hard in early spring.

G6870 Pruning Ornamental Shrubs | University of Missouri Extension

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vinaigrette Recipes

Hi all, I'm always looking for new vinaigrette recipes. Please add your own to comments if you wouldn't mind sharing.

What is vinaigrette? A basic oil and vinegar combination used to dress salad greens and other cold meats. In it's simplest form , vinaigrette consists of oil and vinegar. Usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar with salt and pepper. You can use any fresh herbs or spices to change the flavour. Always use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavour. 

Red and Yellow Pepper Vinaigrette
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined well. This vinaigrette will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days. Recipe may be doubled. Makes one cup.
Try these simple vinaigrette recipes with your favorite salad greens.
Citrus Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (juice of one small orange)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the juices and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in oils until incorporated. A blender or food processor may also be used. Pour into a glass jar and seal. Serve over your favorite salad greens. The vinaigrette will keep, tightly covered, for a week in the refrigerator. To warm cold vinaigrette, place jar in a bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes.
Mustard Chive Vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Using a whisk or fork, in a small bowl combine all ingredients except the oil. Slowly add the oil, whisking vigorously, until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Pour over your favorite salad greens and toss. Store remaining vinaigrette in the refrigerator, in a tightly sealed glass jar, for up to one week. To warm cold vinaigrette, place jar in a small bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes. Makes 1/2 cup.