Well, it happens every year…

…it’s beginning to look a lot like fall.  But it still feels like summer.  I am starting to see splashes of color on the trees and a few leaves scattered here and there in the grass and driveway.  When I look outside, I see the  branches of the trees being pushed and pulled and twisted around by the wind.  If I close my eyes, I can picture myself walking down the old dirt road where we lived when I was a teen in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  I  pull  the sweater a little tighter, trying to shield myself from the chilly fall air.  I would deliberately walk on the crunchiest leaves I could find.  At the end of the road, I would turn around and walk briskly back to the old stone house. When I open my eyes I find I am looking at the thermometer on the patio.  It’s nearly 80 degrees.  “Oh, well,” I sigh.  Time to start running my errands.  I slip into my flip flops, grab my purse and head out the door.


Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom passed away in October, 2010 and I have been thinking of her all day.  We used to send her a card every year and flowers or some other little gift.  But the best part of Mother’s Day and every Sunday was chatting on the phone. We could talk for over an hour–sometimes we pushed 2 hours on the phone.  We lived over a thousand miles apart and only saw each other once or twice a year.

We chatted about everything and anything.  We might talk about any upcoming trips that Bob and I were planning, our kids and the shock we both felt that her grand kids were inching up on 30, my siblings and their kids, my dad, her health, my dad’s health, gardening, or the current class I was working on in school.  Or maybe she told me about her latest volunteer project or that she was able to adopt out a rescued cat or dog from the no kill animal shelter that she founded.

She would chat about when she was a child and growing up in the Connecticut/New York area and how much she loved it there and how much she missed it.  We would reminisce about our family and all the crazy stuff our family did, the trips we took and the fun we had.  There were eight of us kids, six boys and two girls.  Between the eight of us, there were 20 grandchildren, so my mom always had news about someone’s kids.

The topics we talked about didn’t matter–it just mattered that we chatted every week.

I miss our weekly chats, and although she’s been gone since 2010, just the other day I was wishing I could pick up the phone and tell her all about a sundress I just finished making for my little granddaughter.  I knew she would love it.  My mom loved to sew and she would have loved to make dresses for her little great-granddaughter.

I am so grateful for all the wonderful conversations I had with my mom.  All the Sunday evening chats.   I will cherish the memories forever.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Time for gardening!

What a great feeling to wake up this morning and realize that finally, after a winter that seemed like it would go on forever, spring had arrived and it was time to plan what I would plant in my garden this year.  It was time for gardening!

I was like a “kid in the candy store” today.  Only my “candy” was gardening supplies.  I could hardly wait to stroll through the garden store and select a few pots for planting seeds.  And soil, must have soil.  I always like to get a few plants that have already been started.  It’s satisfying to look out the window and see plants already  growing.  It makes me less impatient for the seeds to take root and grow.

Although we recently downsized and moved to an apartment, I am so happy that I can still garden. It’s a small container garden on the patio, but, it’s a garden.

There is just something about gardening.  It’s that feeling of pride and satisfaction at accomplishing something.  Salad tastes so much better when the lettuce and veggies came from your own garden.  And, maybe there is a beautiful flower arrangement in a vase on the table.  The colors seem so much more vibrant and the scent is more fragrant when the flowers have been picked from your own garden. And the herbs.  I love cooking with my fresh herbs and I always look forward to a cup of fresh peppermint tea.

The funny thing is,  I never used to think of myself as much of a gardener.  As a young child I knew the difference between a tree and a flower.  My mom used to tell us the names of some of the trees and flowers and eventually I knew some of the names, too.  But I never gave much thought to houseplants or gardens.  We had a few houseplants, but not a garden.  Taking care of the plants was not one of my chores, so I barely acknowledged that they were there.

I knew that farmers grew vegetables. And in the summer time we would sit on the back porch and snap beans, shell peas and shuck corn.  I knew that corn grew really tall and in the summers we used to go to Iowa to visit my grandma and we passed corn field after corn field.

When I was twelve, we moved from Indiana to Michigan and again, we had some houseplants and my mom had a small flower garden outside.  And again, I wasn’t responsible for taking care of them beyond watering them once in a while if I was asked to.  Other than that, I didn’t really have a lot of interest in the plants.  I noticed the flowers a little bit more because they were so colorful and pretty to look at.  We lived out in the country on 40 acres of land and I loved to take long walks and enjoyed all the wildflowers growing in the fields.

I’m not really sure exactly when, but at some point my sister took over the care of the houseplants.  Over the years the plants were starting to look a little sad.  My mom stayed busy between running kids to activities (there were eight of us kids) and always having activities of her own, and the plants weren’t getting the attention they used to get. So, my sister just kind of volunteered and took over the plants.   She nursed them back to health and they were looking the best they had looked in years.

Then it happened. My sister decided to get married and then she moved with her husband to a state a few thousand miles away. As they hugged each other good-bye, my sister’s last “command” to our mom was, “take good care of the plants.”

We stood there in the yard waving until their car was out of sight.  My mom continued to cry for several days, because after all, her “baby,” her oldest child, had just left on a road trip that would take her far, far away.  Or, was she crying because she had just been instructed to take care of the plants?

Fast forward about a year, and we were coming up on my wedding.  My  husband and I actually met at my sister’s wedding.  My husband and her husband were best friends and had met while they were stationed together in the Navy.

So, there we were, just about two weeks from my wedding.  One day, as I passed through the kitchen, on my way to the living room, my mom told me she needed my help with something. She was in the kitchen, baking.  She told me she was getting nervous.  I asked her why she was nervous and she said because my wedding was just two weeks away and that meant my sister would be arriving soon.  But she didn’t seem excited to see her.  As a matter of fact, she said that’s what was making her nervous, that my sister would be, “here, in the house.”

I shrugged, not quite following her. I laughed when my mom said she thought my sister might notice the plants hadn’t gotten the loving attention that she had been instructed to give them.

I glanced up and looked at the plant sitting on the kitchen window sill. Oops, I guess the plants had indeed been neglected.  Were they all like that?  I took a quick tour of the living room and dining room.  Yes, the plants definitely hadn’t had the loving attention they should have had.

Well, I had been busy planning a wedding and working full-time.  I didn’t have time for the plants.

Of course, I had to concede that my mom didn’t really have a lot of time for them either.  With my older sister and brother out of the house, and I soon would be moving, she still had five more kids she was busy with.  Between their activities and her own activities, she really was busy and I could easily see how the plants could get neglected.

We agreed that my sister would definitely notice the plants were, um, not quite alive.

My mom’s idea was that maybe we could buy all new plants to replace the plants that were more or less gone.  She wanted to buy plants that looked exactly like the existing ones, only they would be healthy plants and my sister would be tricked into thinking they were the same plants.

My idea was to get rid of the dead plants, buy all plastic plants, put them in dirt and dust them once in a while and then she would never have to worry about them again.

We took a trip to the nursery. We agreed that neither of our ideas were going to fool my sister and that the best plan would be to just buy a few new plants and ‘fess up to my sister that somehow “her” plants had been neglected.

Over the next week and a half or so, we joked about how my sister would react when she realized that her plants had been mistreated.   Of course we both knew she wouldn’t really be mad, but, it was fun joking about it and knew that my sister would get a good laugh out of it.

Finally, the big day arrived.  No, not my wedding day.  The day my sister and brother-in-law were to arrive in town for the wedding.

I was home when they arrived, and my mom said how glad she was that I was there for moral support.

Then, we saw their car as it pulled into the driveway.  And the next thing we knew, they were in the house.  After a round of hugs, my sister blurted out, “So, you killed the plants, didn’t you?” She had noticed the plant on the kitchen window sill was different and just presumed that the rest of the plants had died.

My love for gardening gradually developed over the years.  I started with houseplants and unlike the poor, neglected houseplants at my mom’s house, I found that I had a knack for caring for plants and loved them.  When we had kids, I learned about poisonous plants and kept those away from the kids and eventually got rid of them completely.

After a visit to my sister’s house and a tour of her garden, I discovered how easy it is to grow herbs and vegetables.

I started small and eventually added more herbs and veggies to my garden each year.

Now, we have a smaller living space and I’ve had to go back to a smaller garden.  But I will always have the desire to plant a garden.  Besides providing fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and flowers, the act of gardening is good for you. The benefits are good for the mind, body and spirit.







Is it spring, yet?

I’ve seen all the signs of spring…

Birds are chirping, there are buds on trees and the daffodils have bloomed.  I bought flower pots and soil.  I bought seeds.  And pollen is on my car.  And, I saw snow flurries out the window.

Whoa, wait, did you say snow flurries?

Yep, that is what I said.  Snow flurries, again.

And I wore my winter coat this morning.

Snow flurries and winter coats are not a sign of spring.

Now, since there is nothing we can do about the weather, I try not to complain about it too much.  And normally spring can be very wishy-washy and go back and forth between chilly/cold and warm.  So, it really shouldn’t come as a big surprise that it is still colder than what I like at this time of year.  And, I used to live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we could have cold and snow in late April or even into May.

But, still, I started seeing the gardening supplies and beautiful outdoor furniture on display in the stores.  I drive by my favorite farm market stand and begin to wonder when will they open for the season.  I’ve seen some gardening shows on TV, I received a seed catalog in the mail and lawn mowers of all sizes are on sale.

I am ready to plant my garden!

There is hope.  I saw the weather forecast for the next 10 days and it does show temps near 80 degrees are expected by the end of this week and the mild temps are predicted to stick around on into the following week.

Will I really be able to say, “Welcome, Spring,” by the end of the week?

Fingers crossed!






Just want to add a few words about my garden this year.  I have a small container garden, mostly herbs and two tomato plants.  I love gardening and love containers.  It’s so relaxing.  And makes you feel so good to see all the plants flourish and look great.  Plus, I love that it is just a few steps out the door.  So fun to go out and snip fresh herbs for cooking!

I put most of the plants up on a table and plastic bins to save my back.  I was tired of bending over.  The sore back was taking the fun out of gardening.  Then my birthday rolled around and I received the best gift from my daughter and son-in-law–two plant stands!

They are beautiful to look at alone–but once I added the plants to them–well they look fabulous and with the plants up off the ground it makes it so much easier to garden!
























Holy Cucumbers, Batman!

Well, the temps are still summer-like, but summer is winding down for me now.  It’s September already and school starts on Tuesday.   Bob and I have had moderate success with our garden, but, our cucumbers have done especially well.  We had  a lot of them and they were huge.  The problem is there are only 2 of us and we can’t possibly eat that many cucumbers before they spoil.  So, I had to get creative and think of what to do with all of those cucumbers.  We gave some away.   And, we did eat as many as possible.   I made several cucumber/tomato salads with our fresh tomatoes.  I made cucumber sandwiches–a traditional tea sandwich.  I made cucumber/dill veggie dip.  I used the cucumbers on a veggie platter and in tossed salads.  I made cucumber/carrot slaw. I made about 3 quarts of pickles.   I made veggie/fruit juice with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, an orange, and seasonings.   I made a cucumber face mask.  And nothing’s more refreshing than cucumber slices for puffy eyes.  And, I found a recipe for cucumber spa water.  Next up:  cucumber face wash.  Anybody up for cucumber bowling?

cucumbers from the garden

Garden Journal 2013

Wednesday-April 10, 2013–I spent 2 hours in the morning pulling old plants and weeds from the garden planting boxes.  I raked up all the leaves and in general I got the garden cleaned up and ready to plant.

Thursday–April 11, 2013–I spent about an hour and a half pulling up more weeds and sketching a diagram of the garden and planning what will be planted where.

Friday–April 12, 2013–In between rain showers, we spent at least 2 hours planting seeds and  plants.  We still have more to plant, but the bulk of it is done.  We need to plant some herbs  in the mini garden by the deck and plant some flowers and some more herbs in the flower pots.  Just as we finished putting the tools away and declared ourselves done for the day and went indoors, a nice soaking rain came along.  So, at least we know our seeds got a good drink.

I love gardening.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s the good kind of work that makes you feel good.  And of course the rewards of fresh herbs and veggies all summer makes the work worth it.  Last summer Bob built some beautiful planting boxes.  They are great.  Our garden grows much better in the boxes than when we used to plant the seeds straight into the clay soil.  He filled them with good dirt and our plants thrived and did so well in the boxes.  He also put a 6 foot fence around the garden to keep the deer out.  I love the deer–except when they were coming into our garden and enjoying the “all you can eat” salad bar.  We can’t keep the squirrels and birds out, but at least they leave us more veggies and herbs than the deer would leave us.

When we were pulling up the weeds this year, we also dug up a lot of acorns that the squirrels had planted for themselves.

Sorry squirrels, but it’s our garden!garden and summer 2012 026

Have a happy gardening seasoning, everyone!ImageImage


Recently returned from Cancun and had a fabulous time!

The trip was a gift from my husband for my 50th birthday. 

The trip was perfect from start to end.  Our flights were on time going and coming.  From the moment we landed all the knee pain I had been feeling disappeared.  I was told I had osteoarthritis a few months ago and had been doing all the exercises and stretches the physical therapist gave me to do.  My legs used to be in a lot of pain and were very stiff after I had been sitting for just a couple of hours.  But, I was able to stand after the 3 hour (non-stop) flight.  When I stood up,  I was able to just walk–pain-free,  It was wonderful!  We breezed through customs and then set out to have fun.

I spent the entire week pain-free— AND–since I got home I’ve been pain-free. 

We fell in love with our resort.  It was beautiful and the service was top notch.  The pool and beach were beautiful and I spent a lot of time there.

I got up at sunrise a few times and took some fabulous pictures. 

We went snorkeling, did lots of walking, went for a boat ride, took a tour to the ruins, swam with dolphins and had an absolutely fabulous time!

We relaxed.  And I think best of all, we spent a lot of time talking. We’d go out to the balcony and we’d go over our adventure of the day, and just talked in general. We don’t usually just sit and talk.  I loved it.

We have our funny story we like to repeat.  Riding the bus.  We found out that the bus drivers help you to your seat on the bus.  Here is how it works–you get on and pay the driver.  Then, the driver goes from 0-60 in a nanosecond, which flings you to the back of the bus. Once you pick yourself up off the floor, whichever seat you are clinging to is yours. Easy. Simple. Works.

I did not want to leave.  I could easily go back there at least once a year, but more often if I could.

I highly recommend it — if you get a chance to go to Cancun–take it!