Friday, December 21, 2007

Take Inspiration

This will be my last blog entry until February. I am taking a Winter break from plants and will be spending much time around large piles of manure. Why on earth would I do that you ask? The answer is because the manure will be coming from the thirteen elephants at Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary located an hour North of Little Rock, Arkansas.

I will be an intern there for a month. I will live in a dorm, cook my meals in a community kitchen, and help care for their incredible residents. They are a nonprofit organization that takes in elephants that have been given up by zoos,retired from circus life, or even orphaned in the wild.

'Tis the season of giving. What inspires you? What would drag you away from your loved ones for a month? What would light you up inside?

Merry Christmas! See you next year! -Christine

Riddle's Elephant Sanctuary

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gardening Through Winter

A lot of people welcome a winter break from the yard and garden chores, but there are some thrill-seekers that venture on through this chilly chapter of the garden journal. When it is cold we want to stay in our beds,and we should. Only, I am talking about our flower and shrub beds!
Now is a good time to dig up, rearrange, and ammend the soil. You may think that your plants are getting by on the sandy Savannah soil that has been there since the War Between The States, however they could be doing so much more with a little help from you.
Ammending soil is not an exact science. Everyone has their secret ingredient that they feel works the best. It is a good idea to have your soil tested by the County Extension Service. (The link is on this blog.) There is a small fee, but it is well worth it for the information and advice that they will send you. You can come in to our store with their information, and we can get you started with the right additives.
If you prefer to do your own way, we can suggest common additives for a variety of situations. For example, Garden Gypsum is known to break up clay soils. Lime helps tame our naturally acidic soil. Superphosphate improves the number of blooms has down the road. Just let tell us about what your planting, and we can help.
Once you realize the benefits of improving your soil, you may want to look into starting a compost pile in your yard.

For Composting Info Click Here
Earth 911 Making Every Day Earth Day-Good Info!
Composting For Kids

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't Stress!

It was the day I had to pick my mom up at the airport, for our families' early Christmas celebration, that I decided to clean the interior of my car. It looked like a hamster cage. I wouldn't have been surprised to find a chewed up toilet paper roll in the clutter. Heck, even a hamster wouldn't have been all too alarming. What was wrong with me? Why had I let my car fill up with soda cans, pay stubs, books, shoes,and goodness knows what else? It was when I was vacuuming the pea gravel out of the trunk that I decided,"Enough!" I gave the car a final spray of Trapp's Mediterranean Fig air freshener and slammed the hatch down. Phewww. My car was the last of a laundry list of chores that I had assigned myself AND my husband for our holiday festivities, and I was ready to be DONE!
Doesn't cleaning just bring out the best in our personalities? Or rather the need to clean? My husband and I had begun the pre-holiday muttering at one another.
I couldn't TELL you what he was muttering about, but I started down this road,
"If you don't use the crevice tool, it means you haven't vacuumed." I called my sister on the phone as I loaded the dishwasher. "It's like they don't see the same stuff that needs to be done." She chuckled in recognition.

Her annual Christmas letter hadn't gone out yet, and that was a bull that her husband usually took by the horns. "He spent the evening loading music on to the computer," she commisserated. "Then he wanted to go to bed-at 8:30!" The thing is that our husbands are great guys, but the holiday stress had my sister and I lining them up against car thieves and people that dot their i's with little smiley faces, both of which are highly disturbing.

When my family eventually arrived, I made great attempts to keep my stress at a level managable by Advil and a few glasses of wine. I decorated the Christmas tree with my mom and my aunt, and only a few times replaced their ornaments to "safer" branches;cat-resistant branches. I was filled with so much warmth from the holidays and a 2004 Syrah that I hardly noticed the smudges from cat noses on the dining room windows. I didn't even flinch as a hair ball rolled by me like a Tumble Weed in Death Valley. Oh no. I was merry, and consequently, everyone else was too! Now there will always be slip ups. Outbursts like, "Yes I need that! That's why I put it on the list!" are bound to occurr. As are the, "I TOLD you-put the potatoes in the BLUE dish.Geeeez."
Christmas comes without Windex, or Tile-x,or sheets for the Swiffer. It comes without emmaculant counters-though some beg to differ. You see, Christmas is something that doesn't come in a sprayer! Christmas, it turns out, is meant to be gayer!

So gather your loved ones and let go of the stress. Besides-I'm sure nobody will notice that spot on your dress!