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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It's Time to Plant Christmas Amaryllis

Continuing with our planting theme, ...

We planted our Christmas Amaryllis. This year I went with the AppleBlossom. These are the most beautiful of all the amaryllis in my opinion. Actually, I love them in all colors and variations. But AppleBlossom is my favorite. If you are thinking of planting amaryllis for Christmas, you should get started soon.

As indicated on the box, you should have blooms in 6-12 weeks. Now is the perfect time to plant amaryllis for blooms, possibly as early as the week of Thanksgiving and certainly by Christmas.

These boxed amaryllis can be found in any big box home retailer. The kit comes with everything you need to get your amaryllis started as soon as possible. The kit comes with the pot, soil pack and the bulb. Just remove everything from the box.

Remove the plastic overwrap from the compacted soil disc.

Place the soil disc in the bottom of the pot.

Add three and one half cups of warm water to the pot.

When you add the water, the disc will float on top for a while

Eventually, the soil will start to break down and absorb the water.

After about 15 minutes, the soil disc will have absorbed all the water and you will have a solid mass of soil that is not suitable for planting just yet.

You will need to break down the soil to make it suitable for planting. I used my hands at first, but I could not reach the bottom part of the soil, so I grabbed a fork. Hey, ... you gotta do what you gotta do.

You want the soil to look like it does in the picture above. Now you are ready for planting.

Using your hands, push the potting soil from the center to the side of the pot making a well in the center.

Place your amaryllis bulb in the well and bring up the soil to cover the bottom one-third of the bulb. The bulb does not need to be completed covered by the soil. It should not be. You just need to plant it deep enough to let the roots set properly.

And here we have two AppleBlossom amaryllis planted and ready for their journey. They will need to be watered regularly. I use a spray bottle to moisten only the soil.  I try not to get the bulb wet.

They are to receive no direct sunlight. Only room diffused light and ideally kept at a temperature between 70-75 degrees. I do not keep the thermostat set that high at Crest Avenue, so I placed them atop the refrigerator where it stays a little warmer. As they set and begin to bloom, they can be removed to a more suitable location in the house. The warmth is necessary in the beginning to help set the roots and get them growing. You could add pebbles or tuck in some decorative moss on top of the soil to improve the look. I will likely add some moss to these once they are established. I will also set these plastic pots inside of clay pots which I have painted silver for a much prettier presentation. More on that in the coming weeks.

I hope you will plant amaryllis for your holiday home.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Planting

Feeling much better. Lots of Alka Seltzer Plus and Airborne Gummies and I seem to have fought off the head cold.

These are quite delicious. A little tart, but manageable. I think I will keep a bottle of these in my desk for the duration of the fall and winter. It can't hurt.

As most of you already know, fall is the perfect season for planting. Actually, I think it is a better time to plant than the spring. Cool nights and temperate days. So I took advantage of the season and planted a few things in the garden.  Take a look.

A few weeks ago, I bought three Blue Rug Junipers from one of the big box home retailers. The weather has been spectacular for the past week, so I decided it was time to get them in the ground. I decided this little spot in the holly/pyracantha garden would be the perfect spot.

I temporarily staged the shrubs, still in their containers, where I thought they would work best in this location.

Then, using a post hold digger. I set about digging three holes for each.

I removed each from their plastic containers, loosened the soil around the roots to allow air and nutrients to be absorbed, and planted them snuggly in the ground. A plastic plant tag is handy to remind me of exactly what I planted.

In the same garden, but on the opposite end, I planted these beautiful tulip bulbs.

Unfortunately, I lost two small holly's due to the drought this summer. So I removed them and used the holes as a receptacle for the tulip bulbs.

First thing to do was to add a little of this wonderful rich, black garden soil as a good base.

Then, in with the bulbs. The first group was this wonderful batch of Claudia tulips.  I love the fluted petals.  Remember, pointed sides up when planting bulbs!

Then, my very favorite tulip - the Parrot blend. These are really spectacular in full bloom.

To mark everything I planted for identification later on, I used these handy little plastic spikes. I found these on You get something like a hundred of them for two dollars. They are perfect for use in the garden. Or in pots.

I used a permanent marker to write out the name of each of the type of tulips I planted.

Then placed the spikes in the ground.

And again for the parrot tulips. After I was done planting I watered thoroughly. Using the permanent marker on these worked beautifully. The water had positively no effect on the ink.

It is time to start planting bulbs in the mid-Atlantic. We can plant September - November. Bulbs should be out every where at this time. Give them a try. Plant now and in the spring you will have beautiful color in your gardens.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This is the Kind of Day I'm Having.

This all started on Tuesday and has gotten progressively worse. Runny nose.  Sore throat.  Sinus pressure.  I don't know if I've had fever.  If so it has not been very high because I can usually tell when I have a fever.  I normally run about a degree cooler than everybody else, yet I am always hot. Figure that one out.  Anyway, I'm not feeling so good today but hopefully I will be feeling better tomorrow.  Everybody have a good day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some Changes and Ideas for the Front Entrance

I decided it was time to change the welcome mat at the front entrance to something more appropriate for the time of year. The time of year being, HALLOWEEN!!!

This "Welcome" mat has held up quite nicely.  It is a very good qulity mat to be kept at the front entrance that will work well any time of year.  But I like to change out the welcome mats especially during the holiday season.

So, BOO, to you!  This is a fun mat that I've had for a couple years now.  It is probably not the highest quality mat but it has held up well because it is only down for a short period of time.  I keep several different entrance mats in stock for the different holidays.  It is a fun and inexpensive way to decorate.

This year we are going to add something new to the front door.  A bevy of bats!  I found these "bags of bats" and I thought they would be perfect as a decoration on the front door.  These can be applied any time so come back to see how this project turns out.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Candy Bags Galore!

Can you believe this coming Saturday is October 15?  Amazing!  In our continuing efforts to prepare for Halloween, we started assembling our treat bags.

This was the bounty from one of the big bags of candy we purchased.  We have bought so much candy I did not know what we had and what we did not.  So I sorted it all to get a better handle on what we were working with.

Since there were so few 100 Grand Bars, I decided to remove them from the mix altogether.  We can enjoy those.

The rest of the candy from several different varieties of bags was all separated and then placed into large Ziploc bags.  Here, on the counter are the many bags of candy and the treat bags.  The treat bags each come in quantities of twenty, so we will have forty bags in total.  It is hard to judge how many bags we need.  We have years where we hand out a dozen bags of candy.  Then there are years where we hand out all forty and resort to giving candy out in individual pieces at the end.  Will I get another set of twenty treat bags for a total of sixty bags.  Possibly.  I will have to wait and see how I feel closer to the day.  If the weather is nice, we could easily hand out all of the bags.  If it is raining or cold, ... or both, then we will not.

So, each bag gets, ... a Tootsie Pop;

Two Fruit Chews;

One thin Tootsie Roll;

One fat Tootsie Roll;

One Mini Butterfinger bar;

One Mini Nestle Crunch bar;

And finally, one Mini Baby Ruth bar.

That makes for a nice full treat bag.  And here they are in a large stainless steel mixing bowl where they will reside until Halloween night.  I move them all to a Halloween themed bowl for presentation to the children.

We filled all of the ghost bags.  Next round we will fill all the pumpkin bags.  I will not purchase the pumpkins for carving for another two weeks.  Once they are purchased, all efforts will be on carving and lighting and placement on the front porch.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Prepared Salad, Done Your Way

When shopping for prepared salads, I look for those with ingredients that are appealing to me. Cobb salads, Caesar, southwest, seafood. These are some of my favorites. They are a quick and easy way to have a healthy lunch or dinner. But sometimes I like to doctor them up a little. Take a look at a recent redo of a seafood salad which made it a better fit for me.

This seafood salad caught my attention right away when I approached the counter.

The ingredients were indeed fresh and it appeared that it had been made that very day.

The first thing to do was to separate all the ingredients into containers so I could see exactly what I had.

First up, the lettuce. It appeared to be an American blend - mild and crispy iceberg and romaine combined with sweet carrots and tangy red cabbage. I enjoy the American blend salads served with cream based dressings.

Traditionally, these salads are prepared with the ingredients "rough chopped". I am not a big fan of that. So I moved the greens to a cutting board to reduce.

With a large, non-serrated kitchen knife, I gave them a once through which ended up making it more of a "shredded" salad than a "chopped" salad.

This bowl contains filler. This is coarsely chopped cabbage and sliced carrots, both of which are added more for appearance than anything else. I do not care for this.

So, ... out it goes. The leaves of the red cabbage in the lettuce mix is quite delicious and adds some crunch to the mix. This is the stalk of the cabbage and some shredded carrot that add nothing. They are filler.

The salad came with three small tomatoes. That would not do.

I had a beautiful variety of small salad tomatoes in the refrigerator which I sliced and added to the three in the container.

This was the seafood portion of the original salad. I wanted a little more.

So I picked up this bag of Crab Delights Flake Style imitation crab to add to my salad. My opinion of imitation crab? I certainly would not use it for any dish calling for crab for a dinner party I was throwing. I would not use it in a dish that I was taking to the host or hostess of a party. But for every day use for myself, I do not have a problem with it. I think it is delicious in salads. I have even made imitation crab salad for sandwiches for lunch which I think are quite good. It is also good for snacking if you want a little something between meals.

I retrieved a good amount from the bag and placed it on a cutting board. I would say this is a good three-quarters of a cup of crab.

Dice it coarsely and add it to the bowl with the crab from the original salad. Now you have a nice amount of crab for your enjoyment.

Reassemble your salad. As you can see, this is a much more attractive looking salad than the original. We have plenty of seafood in the mix, a nice selection of sliced salad tomatoes and shredded lettuce and cabbage for the base. The remoulade dressing that came with it was quite delicious, so I did not change that. You can always add your own if you do not like what is included.

Here is the recipe for remoulade dressing:

1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons tomato ketchup
3 green onions
1 celery heart with 4 or 5 stalks and leaves

Mince celery. Combine with other ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for one hour before serving.

If you like to buy prepared salads for your mid-day and/or evening meal, don't think you have to go with what is in the package. Take a little time and customize it to your taste. A few changes here and there can make a good salad into a great salad!