Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!


I took this photo nearly a decade ago (how is that even possible?!) at a small outdoor restaurant along the coast of South Africa. It's an old buoy, but it has always reminded me of the earth. 

The Sailor, the Peanut and I just returned from South Africa, and while we were nowhere near this restaurant, we at least enjoyed the outdoors as well as the spoils from Oupa's garden. We missed peach season, but we still had fresh carrots, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to feast on. We were just in time, since much of the garden was gearing up for the winter.

We introduced the Peanut to grass, which he wasn't too sure about at first. 

He soon figured that grass was great to crawl in, leaves make wonderful crunchy noises, and Dexter the Wonder Dog is fun to pet. 

I got to sit under my favorite tree.

We introduced hammocking to the Peanut as well. 

He didn't stay in the hammock long, 
but I think he liked the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. 

Earth Day might only come around once a year, but I kind of like the idea of enjoying the outdoors all 365 days.

Now that we're back in the Northern Hemisphere (Spring already sprang while we were away) it's time to think of our own garden. This year we're planting tomatoes, okra, peas, carrots and broccoli, plus maybe a few other goodies. 

I'm thinking maybe sunflowers? 

Whatever your day brings, I hope it's full of sunshine, and happiness equivalent to leaves crunching in a baby's hand.

Happy Earth Day! 

August 15, 2014

A New Day

A few weeks ago, I lamented the lack of hummingbirds on the porch. 

The day after I arrived home from the hospital with the Peanut... I sat outside unabashedly in my bathrobe while the apartment complex tested their fire alarms. The maintenance men were good enough to give us a warning, so we waited outside to avoid the noise. 

The Sailor made me coffee... the first I'd had since about December. I had gone off of coffee early on in pregnancy and then just never really craved it after that. After a few sleepless nights with the Peanut, I caved in and got back on the juice.

While sitting outside with that perfect cup of coffee, the sun streaming on the porch, I held my wee babe in my arms and pondered the enormity of how my life had just changed. When I looked up, a hummingbird fluttered past and onto the red flowers. 

At certain times in all of our lives we all need a little sign... for years I felt a sense of calm and relief whenever I saw a rainbow, especially if life had been difficult or I'd been through some tumultuous event. A rainbow symbolized to me that all would be well within my soul. 

I haven't seen a rainbow for a very long time. And after a night wrestling with my own hormonal tears, trying to decipher the Peanut's cries and to figure out whether I was fit to be a mother, I saw that lone hummingbird. 

And just like that... I knew that all would be well.  

Later that same day, the hummingbird returned so that both the Sailor and I could both see him. And he's been back several times since. 

Sometimes we all need a little daily reminder -- even if it's just a fleeting one.

July 17, 2014


I am not a big bird fan (ask my mother...) and while I do love the sound of birds in the morning, I didn't want to deal with the mess of cleaning up seeds on our porch from a conventional feeder.

Earlier in the Spring, I noticed that hummingbird feeders seemed to be in all of the garden shops around the area. Enter my perfect no-seed solution to bird watching: I bought a hummingbird feeder. 

The Sailor promptly installed it for me and I planted some red flowers nearby to attract the birds. 

So far though... nothing. Not a single hummingbird. A few weeks ago I saw one out at our garden, so I know they're around here, but they don't seem to want to frequent my porch. 

I'm a total hummingbird novice... but I did buy hummingbird food and I did plant red flowers. I'm thinking the air conditioning units that are so close to the porch might be scaring them off. 

Any other bird people out there... what other tips can you offer to attract hummingbirds?

June 17, 2014

Early Bean Bounty

Our humble little garden decided to sprout suddenly overnight. 

Last night's pickings... the first of the green beans! (In vintage Pyrex, of course.)

What's even more exciting than this? There are several other bean plants that got a late start and should be just as abundant as this one in the next few days. 

AND, I've seen multiple tomatoes and peppers peeking out from their respective plants. Last year at this time, we had just moved into our new location, and we only began planting the garden well into the summer. This year, I'm thrilled that we got such a head start.   

How's your garden growing?


May 19, 2014

The Porch Garden

While I'm waiting for my tomatoes to actually grow in our garden, I've been busy on the porch creating a little urban haven. 

I read something a long time ago that mentioned the need to get outside and to actually see green things grow (a photo doesn't count). There is something therapeutic and calming about sitting or strolling in a garden setting -- even an urban one.

While we have an amazing array of outdoor glory right at our fingertips, it doesn't escape me that I still live in an apartment complex. That's where porches make for great getaways -- even in the midst of other people living around you. 

In my early 20s, I lived and worked in England. The British are known for their gorgeous flower gardens. 

My backyard however, was a total disaster. I didn't have access to a lawn mower or any other equipment necessary to keep the area in British tip-top shape. Thankfully, a neighbor took it upon himself to mow the grass for me on occasion.

Once the grass looked presentable, I still didn't know how to keep the flowers in the ground alive, but I did know how to re-pot a plant. So, I ended up with a little potted garden near the back door, and every fine evening, I'd sit out on the steps with whatever beverage the day called for, along with my journal. I'd write while listening to the birds settle in for the night, pausing every now and again to admire my few flowers. 

Last night I had a little flashback to my 23-year-old self. The neighbors have certainly changed; so have I. But one thing is for sure, I still know how to re-pot a plant, I like a bit of green all around me, and I still write in my journal surrounded by that beauty. 

April 24, 2014

Earth Day Every Day

Earth Day was this past Tuesday. I completely forgot, even though my trusty iPhone automatically put it on my calendar. I didn't mind. The Sailor and I spent the day wandering around garden centers looking for the perfect ferns and some red flowers to attract a few hummingbirds. What better way to celebrate the environment? 

I feel like most days around here are Earth Day in any case. I remember as a teenager, collecting aluminum cans was something we did for church fundraisers. Nowadays it's far more in vogue; our recycling bin is much bigger than our trash can at the moment.

We do our best around here to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but we don't obsess over it. I still use paper towels on occasion (after all, how else do you grease your cast iron pan?) and when we're out and about, we still buy a bottle of water when we're thirsty (usually after my glass bottle is completely empty!) 

But for the most part, we try not to waste food or electricity, and we tend to repair items in our household before we replace them. When we do have to replace them though, we usually donate the older item to a thrift store. (The Sailor is not a fan of clutter... and I have to say that most days it makes me crazy as well, even though much of the clutter stems from my own craft supplies. Here are more tips for Spring Cleaning, plus some tips on decluttering the craft supplies.)

And, of course, we plant stuff. We have a vegetable garden going at the moment, and now the porch is a perfect little plant haven for those times we want to sit outdoors. 

Happy Earth Day, every day! 

April 11, 2014

Garden Green

Overnight, it seems the trees here turned green. And with the frost (hopefully) behind us, this was the perfect week to restart our garden. 

We may not have a backyard, but we like to think that all of the hiking trails and parks near us are simply an extension of our apartment. Plus, we have a neat little community garden right at our complex. Last year's little garden was such success (despite that run-in with the rusty wire...) so this year we're taking two plots.  

First, we pulled out the last of the Winter Kale, since it started going to seed.

Then we planted tomatoes, peppers and spinach. I know the spinach looks quite sad in the photo below, but after only being in the ground for 24 hours, it's now totally perked up!

Plants amaze me. What are you growing this year? 

PS: Anyone else spot that great vintage CorningWare oven/serving tray above? 
It definitely sees multiple uses around here.  

January 27, 2014

Seed Stitch and Plant Revival

This sweater is still a hot mess. I knit one sleeve, thinking that I just needed to give it arms and then I'd like it. 

Still not convinced. 

Right now it's laying in a ball next to the sofa awaiting its fate. I fear that if I rip it out, I'll regret it. After all, I was the one obsessed with seed stitch there for a while. But realistically, although it's a nice seed stitch design, it looks terrible on me. I even took a selfie while wearing it (with just the one arm...) in the bathroom mirror. My face is grimacing, which tells me that this is NOT the bulky, cozy sweater for me. And no, I'm NOT posting that photo. I can think of better ways to use this bulky yarn. Grimacing is not one of them.

On a completely different note (and because I like to end with a bit of positive fluff  -- much like the evening news) this plant had me convinced that it wasn't going to make it once winter hit. Almost months after I re-potted it, this thing is springing back to life.

October 1, 2013

Gardening (Guts and) Glory

The Sailor and I were a little late to the garden scene. By the time we moved and settled in and actually discovered that our complex had a community garden, we were already well into July. 

July is probably not the best time to start anything. Added to that, our raised bed is one of the smallest plots of land I've ever seen in my life. I've had welcome mats that were bigger. 

Nevertheless, I was determined to plant something. My mom used to have a spectacular garden when I was a child, and the Sailor's dad has a grand one growing year-round in the Southern Hemisphere. We figured if anything, this year's garden could be our little experiment to see if green thumbs were genetic.  

So, the Sailor and I forked out a ridiculous amount of money for gardening supplies, dirt and some seedlings. We planted cherry tomatoes, green beans, red peppers, carrots and garlic. Last week I put an onion in and I now have a giant kale plant on my porch waiting to be transplanted (once there's room of course!) 

Amazingly, and despite scorching August sunshine and hard clay ground, our stuff is growing. I've already frozen a bunch of beans, and I'm eating tomatoes like crazy. 

This week, after months of anticipation, I picked my first pepper. 

 And last night, I ate a delightful kale, tomato, bean and pepper stir-fry. (I really didn't care how strange that combo was... I simply wanted to eat something that I grew and picked.) 

The garden has brought me an immense amount of joy... I love going out there in the evening and seeing what bounty is available. 

Until last night. 

I went out to water the garden and tripped on the rustiest, nastiest, thickest piece of wire you ever did see. (And then I promptly checked my immunization record to see when I last had a tetanus shot...) I will spare you photos of my foot, and the wire. But I will put your mind at ease to let you know that while my foot is a shade lighter than the color of that pepper, I have no fear of lock-jaw in my future. 

I skipped the garden tonight and decided to tend to my porch plants instead. So far they seem a little less hazardous.

(Whatever you're planting this month, watch where you step...)

June 18, 2013

Moving Chaos

Moving is chaos. I'm trying to remember my moving tip from a few days ago: LAUGH. 

The Sailor and I weren't laughing much over the past 48 hours. 

We should have been in our apartment by now, and on our way to the nearest IKEA with an empty moving truck to pick up furniture. However, thanks to a Leasing Agent who lied, we are currently homeless. 

OK, so we are not truly homeless, even though the Sailor's mom seems to think we are actually living on the street. 

Thankfully, only our moving truck had to spend the night on the street. We have super hospitable friends in the area, and we have the means to stay in a hotel if necessary, until we can sort out alternative housing. 

Relocating to a completely new city with our life packed into a 12' moving truck is stressful enough. Add on this housing debacle, and the frustration level skyrockets.

I know things will work out in the end. In the meantime though, I may not have the chance to blog much. And I hope the plants survive.


April 16, 2013


Sometimes words are not enough. 

But sometimes words are all we have -- sometimes words are the things that tether us to the hope that there is still good in this world. 

Within days of my brother's death, friends from around the world rallied together and supported me in ways they will perhaps never know. 

Several of those friends sent me this plant, along with a note that read:

"Like this plant encased in glass, so we envelope you with love and send prayers from around the globe, for your peace and encouragement..." 

Every time I see that plant,  
I am reminded of those words of comfort. 

I am reminded that I have friends who care, friends who love me, and friends who, although they may not understand exactly what I'm going through, are sharing in my grief with me.

I don't know all of the people affected by the tragedy in Boston. I do know that I have been to Boston before and loved it. Former work colleagues live there. I know people who have run in that same marathon before. I have a friend who was called back into work yesterday, in order to organize hospital logistics for the wounded. 

I know that right now, the grief that Boston feels is very real. I also know that people around the world care and are praying for the city, the victims and their families, and those affected by such an act of violence.  

I wish I had the right words for Boston right now, but I don't. But I hope they somehow feel comfort in knowing that so many people care -- and that so many of us send prayers from around the globe. 

March 30, 2013

Springing to Life

Today finally felt like spring. Glorious spring, where life starts to emerge, slowly, from winter stillness.

Buds form on the trees, flowers push through the ground towards the sun, and even the birds chirp a little louder. 

I even sat outside for a bit to soak in some sunshine. 

(Oh outdoors and sunshine... you have been missed!

As much as I complain about the winter, I actually do love all four seasons. Even winter has a purpose. Without winter, there would be no true spring. No renewal, no rebirth. None of those buds forming or flowers beginning to grow.

How sad would that be? So I for one, would like to apologize to winter. 

I'm sorry winter, when I blame you for being so long and miserable. I'm sorry that I want to shovel you away along with the snow. Actually, you're just part of the cycle of life. You've been keeping things under wraps until the time is right for them to start to grow again.

So thank you, winter. Thank you for all that you've done. But now it's time for you to leave until at least November, maybe even December. (Snow, you can show up in time for Christmas...)   

Spring is definitely in the air -- and with it, my heart (like the birds) sings a little louder. May this season of renewal and rebirth bring you a basketful of hope and happiness.

Happy Easter.

February 19, 2013

Stop and Stare

I mentioned in my last post that my father-in-law has some amazing peaches from his trees. What I didn't mention is that there is one growing right outside our window.

No matter the season, I have always loved looking at this tree. Now that it's summer here, the sun always seems to hit it spot on -- you know... that moment when you see the light hitting the leaves and all of the world seems just right. I need a little of that most days. (Oh, who am I kidding here -- I need that everyday!)

I'm trying to soak up as much of the blue sky and greenery surrounding me as I can. I know that in only days I will be back to a very snowy Northern Hemisphere. There, I will at least have Ted, Ned and Red (if they are still alive, that is...) to give me my daily dose of green until the trees start to bud. 

The old adage, 'stop and smell the roses' sometimes doesn't get my attention. I like to stop and stare at them instead. It's amazing what kind of beauty surrounds us on a daily basis.

It's not only roses either. My mother-in-law pointed this flower out to me my first evening here. I have no idea what kind of plant this is... but I love it. How can you not think that is cool?!

Stop and stare once in a while... and marvel at the wondrous details in nature. 
(And if anyone knows what this plant is actually called... please fill me in.)

December 17, 2012

Fred and Ed

A few months back, the Sailor and I decided to dabble in some terrariums. I don't remember where we got the idea, but I do know he and I purchased some plants, dug up some ferns and then we both trawled the thrift stores looking for the perfect glass containers. 

First, we put some moss and a fern into the 'cheese globe', as I called it. We affectionately named it Fred. 

Then came, Ted, Ned, Ed and the little cactus, Red. 

They thrived for quite some time. We kept the lids on the glass until Ted decided to make a break for it seemingly overnight. There was no containing him after that.

Then the Sailor departed for work and I left to visit a friend for 10 days. The plants were not neglected -- my mom watered them regularly and made sure they got their Vitamin D. But apparently my absence still took its toll, because within days of my arrival home, both Fred and Ed bit the dust. 

Honestly, I think they had been on their way out the door, right as I was leaving. The Sailor has a much greener thumb than I do, and Fred and Ed looked a little sickly 24 hours after he left. I long for the day when we have somewhere to plant a vegetable garden, but then I wonder if anything will actually grow once the Sailor leaves for work and I have to take over?!

So now, it's just Ted, Ned, and Red. And of course, my everlasting spider plant. I'm hoping they all last through the winter. 

I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the punch-bowl-turned-terrerium that housed Ed, just yet. I put it to seasonal use, instead.