Girly Gardening

Today we went to the garden center (Lowes) and picked up some plants so that I could indulge in some girly gardening.  Of course I headed back to the “dead plant section” of Lowes which I love, some of my greatest finds have been found there, and I picked up lots of flowers to fill my containers which edge my driveway.  I also found citrus trees, loaded with fruit at half price, from $29.99 to $15.00.  I got a lemon, a grapefruit, a mandarin and an orange.  I know I am going to have to crowd them into the greenhouse for the winter but just the idea of a fresh grapefruit in the morning it was worth it.

So when I got home I did my girly gardening.   For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, girly gardening involves container planting, while wearing pink gloves, and a jaunty pink hat, and, depending on the time of day (late in the afternoon) sipping a glass of cold white wine while gardening.   I got all my containers sorted out, with my usual color schemes, red, white and blue, and purple and gold.  The Red and White Dianthus in the containers from last year have returned and are currently in full bloom, I only had to add some blue lobelia to complete the color scheme.

I replaced the weeds and grass that had taken over the other containers with purple Angelonia, gold Marigolds, and gold Portucalaca.   The large containers were planted with purple Angelonia, purple Pentas, and gold marigolds and portucalaca.

I love girly gardening, it gives me to the opportunity to be the uber gentile English woman.  Yes the backbreaking work of planting the vegetable garden begins next week but for this week, I can wear pink gloves, and a pink hat, and drink a glass of wine while I sort out my containers.  It was a good day.


Easter Lily Rescue Season is Here!

Everyone know that at this time of year I urge everyone to go out and rescue neglected Easter Lilies.  They are flooding the stores and garden centers right now, looking resplendent in full bloom (having been forced in greenhouses).  These Oriental Lilies (which is what they are), will soon fade, and after Easter when their flowers have dropped the poor beasts will be set in shopping carts outside the stores marked “clearance” and will be sold for pennies, they will sit in that cart and look for all the world like a prom queen after her date has dumped her as she sits on the gym steps, with her shoes in her hand and mascara pouring down her face.

Unfortunately those that are not rescued by clever gardeners like ourselves will be thrown in a dumpster and will live out the rest of their lives trying to bloom in a landfill.  Some will succeed, others will just become compost.  Let us band together and promise that we will not allow that fate.  Let us all pledge to rescue these poor abandoned Easter Lilies wherever we see them.   Take them home, take them out of the pot into which they are confined and plant them somewhere where their roots can spread, and their bulbs can multiply, for years and years and years.  Do not expect them to bloom at Easter however, because they won’t, they were forced in a greenhouse to bloom at Easter remember, but in the early summer they will delight you year after year with beautiful smelling white blooms that will only get better with age.  If there is one thing I know about Easter Lilies when you rescue them from the pots and set them free they reward you with their beauty.

The rescue period will begin on Monday.  Get yourself out there and rescue some Easter Lilies!

The Four Yorkshiremen

When I was a kid we lived in a two up, two down house on Westam Street.  It was basically a living room and kitchen on the ground flood and two bedrooms upstairs.  It had no bathroom.  There was an outside toilet, totally separate from the house, and all body washing action was conducted in the kitchen.   The only hot water in the house was from the small hot water boiler in the kitchen which was basically a hot water on demand type of deal which is so popular today once people realized that boiling a whole tank of water a day is a total waste of money.

Like I said we had no bathroom.  Bathing then was an issue.  Mostly Mum would fill a metal bathtub for us and my sister and I would share a bath.  Occasionally we would take a bus to my Auntie Dot’s house, get off at the stop at the bottom of the hill and then trudge up the hill and we would all take a bath, in glorious hot water, in a proper bathtub.

I am relating this information because my water heater quit on me.  Luckily the weather is warm enough that taking cold showers every day is not a problem, however I hate washing my hair in cold water,  the short term fix then is boiling water and washing my hair in the kitchen sink.  I remember how to do it, you place a face cloth over your eyes and pour a container of hot water over your head and get your hair wet enough to lather.  You then wash your hair and then using the same face cloth over your eyes, pour enough water over your head to rinse off the suds.  As I said this is a short term solution until I can either get the water heater fixed or figure out an alternative for hot water.

It occurred to me how easily I can default to my earlier life and figure out how to cope without what is commonly thought of a basic necessity, on demand hot water.  I was also able to do this after numerous hurricanes here in North Carolina, I had a set up on the barbecue where I had a constant supply of charcoal (no electricity) on the grill and two or three huge pots of water boiling at all times, both for bathing and for dishes, it kept us going for at least a couple of weeks.

Yes I know my childhood story sounds like the Four Yorkshiremen but in my case it is true.


Flossie has a sock in her mouth

It is therefore hers, and she will go to any lengths to make sure that I do not take it from her.  She will charge out of the doggie door at full speed and find somewhere in the yard to bury it.  It is hers dammnit!.  This reminds me of the dog property rules which I read years ago and by which Flossie abides as if her life depended upon it.

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If its in my mouth, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5. If I’m chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.

6. If its mine, it must never appear to be yours anyway.

7. If it just looks like mine, it’s mine.

8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If its broken, it’s yours.
The only rule that Flossie does not follow is number 10, because she doesn’t care if something is broken, in fact broken appears to make things more attractive to Flossie. The most miserable piece of chewed up cell phone charging cable (yes several of them) appear to be great treasures to her.  No matter how many times I try to throw them away she will retrieve them from the trash bin and lovingly carry them around like a trophy.

The absolutely hilarious thing about Flossie is that when she is given something she walks away quite normally and tends to it (usually it is a bone which is a treat she and Skeeter get in the morning).  When she has stolen something however her attitude changes completely, she KNOWS she has stolen something, so she prances through the house, head and tail (what is left of it) aloft, because she thinks she has got away with something, she is Flossie, the great thief, the legendary Flossie, who has a sock!

I swear I will never fully understand Boxers even after spending my entire life with them.


Grass is deadly

People are so keen to use any kind of cide, pesticides, herbicides you name it.  A new study shows that Roundup, the most common weedkiller in the US causes cancer.

Don’t.  Just don’t.  I mean really just don’t use this poison.  It ends up in our ground water and ends up killing us.  Pesticides are killing our bees, and once the bees are gone then so are we.  Seriously people the indiscriminate use of cides are wrecking our planet and we have to stop.  Now.

There is no reason whatsoever to eradicate weeds from a piece of grass in front of your house, grass is useless, it serves no purpose, it is a water sucking, piece of trash that serves no purpose whatsoever, other than to eat natural resources.

Dig it up, replace it with native plants, that will feed not only the environment, but the local wildlife.   Plant acres of Milkweed, Monarchs are dying. lack of habitat is killing them.  For every acre of lawn we get rid of and plant with Milkweed we are helping the Monarchs.

Plant vegetables, your grocery budget will thank you for it.  Plant bee friendly flowers, your earth will thank you for it.  Plant anything but that useless piece of grass in front of your house.

If we can start a national movement to eradicate the totally and utterly useless grass that we seem to think is important in front of our houses then we can really accomplish something.  Get rid of the grass now!



So this happened

We had another winter storm in Eastern NC last night, and it was a bad one.  At first glance it was kind of wimpy, but this morning when I went out to warm up my car I could not open up the driver’s side door.  It was frozen shut.  I managed to get the passenger side door open and eventually shoved the driver’s side door open.  I turned on the engine and started up the heater and went back inside to finish getting ready for work.

When I eventually went out to the car my driver’s side door while open refused to close, the closing mechanism was frozen.  In order to drive to work without the doors flying open when I went around a corner, I had to pull the door shut and then lock it.  I have a central locking system so when I locked the driver’s side door it locked every door in the car.  When I arrived at work I parked and tried to unlock the door.  Nothing.  The lock was frozen.  I opened the window and tried to use my key to open the door, nothing.  So I was basically trapped in my car, outside the office.

Luckily for me the waitress from the Courthouse Caffee next door drove up and parked a few spaces from me.  I waved her over.  “Hi, can you help I am trapped in my car”  I explained the situation to her and said that basically I needed her to help me climb out of the window of the car.  She was a trooper and manhandled me out of the car through the driver’s side window.  Then the window would not close, so I had to leave my car with the driver’s side window open when we were expecting more freezing rain.

I went out to the car at about 10am and thankfully not only did my car unlock but the electric window closed.    I have to admit that in all my years of being stuck in cold weather, I spent four years in Scotland for goodness sake, I never thought that I would have to climb out of my car using my window.

This Winter has been insane.

H (not so much) GTV

Myself and the other denizens of the HGTV message boards back in the day would frequently complain that the G designation in the title had basically gone away.  It used to be that there were lots of wonderful gardening shows on the network whereas today you can occasionally see an episode of Yard Crashers, which is not so much about gardening, but more about a person coming in, bulldozing everything in someone’s yard, chain sawing down all of the existing plants and trees and basically turning it into a concrete slab.  So much for that.  These days the line up consists of house based shows.  House Hunters, My First Place, Love it or List It, Property Brothers.  Through all of these shows run many familiar phrases and memes that I feel compelled to address because to be honest they annoy me.

Open Concept.  What is this?  The first thing couples say when they walk into a home is “I love the open concept”, well you know what that means, cleaning, constantly, because if your guests can see your kitchen from the living and the dining room, then it means that before they arrive you have to have done all the dishes that were used in the creation of their dinner, and that the roast that you overcooked to a small piece of charcoal and which resulted in you hastily throwing it into the trash and ordering from Boston Market also means that you have to hide all the evidence.  I am a cook, I would happily admit that I am a messy cook, when I have finished cooking dinner it usually results in a sink teetering with pots and pans and spoons and spatulas and I really would prefer that my guests don’t see that.  I much prefer the concept of a “back kitchen” one that is tucked away at the back of the house and out of the sight of my guests.   Your mileage may vary of course but if you want to spend your life keeping your kitchen spotlessly clean because someone might drop by and because of your “open concept” they can see all the way through to your kitchen when the results of your latest attempt at some dinner are on full view go ahead, personally I have got better things to do.

On the same topic the couples always say that “we love to entertain”.  No you don’t.  You may have a bunch of friends over and break out the chips, dips and beer occasionally but you aren’t cooking pheasant under glass, or even mac and cheese and hot dogs.  You probably order Pizza, in large amounts when your friends are over to watch the game.  You don’t love to “entertain” don’t lie.  The majority of people don’t “entertain” any more because it means drinking and driving and we all know that isn’t happening.

The people who do not cook who insist on a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.  Why?  I mean what is the purpose of that sort of psychosis?  The amount of times I have heard “I don’t cook but I want an upgraded kitchen” on House Hunters would result in alcohol poisoning were I to turn it into a drinking game.

“Master Retreat”, when talking about the master bedroom.  What is a Master Retreat?  You may have the idea that you are going to retreat to the master bedroom while your husband is watching the game and snuggle into your reading nook with a cup of Earl Grey and settle down to a really good book.  Seriously?  You honestly think that that is going to happen?   You want the bathroom to be “like a spa” why?  Listen, 95% of the time you are going to spend in your “Master Retreat” are going to be spent with your eyes closed, asleep.  It is the same way I feel about Motel Rooms, I tend to go with the cheapest option possible, providing there isn’t an active and obvious rodent or roach infestation, a bed is a bed, you are not going to be admiring the décor, the reason you booked the room is so that you can sleep in it, I don’t care if the draperies match the bed linens.  So long as the room is clean and functional it works for me.

Continuing with the master bedroom theme I often hear “our king sized bed won’t fit in here”.  I know that people are bigger and more overweight these days, but the majority of people I see on HGTV are normal sized people.  Were people in the 30s half the size of people today?  No, and yet they managed with a full sized bed.  I guess back in the day the idea of sleeping with one’s spouse meant closeness, actually being close to your spouse.  I have a Queen sized bed and more often than not I will reach out for my husband in the night to reassure myself that he is still there.  I cannot imagine why anyone would need a king sized bed, why do you people hate your significant other so much that you can’t stand sleeping near them?

Lets not get started on the walk in closets.  When a female walks into a closet the size of most people’s master bedrooms and giggles and says “but where are you going to put your stuff honey?” it is all I can do not to throw a brick through the TV.   Here’s a clue, if you have so much stuff that you can’t fit it into a regular sized closet, YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF.  Use the hangar trick.  At the beginning of the year hang all your clothes on hangers facing toward the back of the closet.  When you wear something and wash it, replace the hanger with it facing away from the back of the closet.  At the end of the year go through the closet and take out everything with a backward facing hangar because you haven’t worn it for a year, if you haven’t worn it for year then chances are you are never going to wear it.  Box it up, put it in storage or donate it.  This isn’t rocket science.    In my case I have several suits that I only need for court during a Jury Trial.   They are stored in a guest room closet because they don’t fit the one year rule.  My day-to-day clothes however, are strictly subject to the reverse hangar rule.

Granite Counter Tops and Hardwood Floors.  Read “enormous amounts of work to maintain”.  While I understand the disgust for carpeting (anyone with a pet knows that carpets are just a disaster, not only for accidents but they are a flea breeding haven), but when I replaced my carpets after the flood of Hurricane Floyd I replaced them with vinyl tile.  They are cheap, easy to keep clean, easy to replace if one gets damaged and basically impervious to any amount of abuse.  Granite countertops are a nightmare to maintain and it would appear that they have already become passé.  On a recent episode of house hunters a couple opined “oh there are granite countertops I was really hoping for (insert latest product that the home building industry is trying to push here, soapstone, quartz).  Just as De Beers convinced every man that if you didn’t give her a diamond ring when you asked her to marry you, you were a bum, then the home improvement industry has convinced every home owner that they should have granite countertops.

Appliances.  Do you all remember the days when “Avocado” was a color?  From Bathroom fixtures to appliances the ad agencies convinced us that we had to have the latest color of whatever.  Which of course means when the ad agencies moved on to the next best thing our Avocado bathroom was outdated and had to be replaced by either you or the people who bought your home.  It might be pertinent to point out to NEVER follow ad agencies advice when it comes to anything because they are trying to sell you something.  When it comes to bathrooms or appliances go with white.  White never goes out of fashion, despite what the ad agencies tell you.  Again, I watched a House Hunters episode recently where someone was complaining that there were “stainless steel appliances” which apparently are really hard to keep clean for a family with kids and the couple were wishing that the range and fridge were white.  Who’d a thunk it.

The basic fact is that the advertising industry are trying to sell you something.  They are trying to convince you that unless you have granite countertops or hardwood floors you are a loser.  Fact is, a home that is practical, comfortable, and suits your needs is fine for you, despite what the style experts say.

I don’t need an “open concept” living and dining area, it just results in more work for me, I don’t need a “master suite” the square footage of which would equal a single family home in some cases, I need somewhere I can sleep.  I don’t need a “home theater” which will be used once, perhaps during the super bowl.  Really people.  Get real.  Think small.  Your wallet and the environment will thank you for it.