Carrie’s Pumpkin Corner 9/20/17

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by: Carrie A. Blakley

Ah yes, Autumn is arriving at the end of this week. Oh what a shock it is to see pumpkin spice everything suddenly hitting every possible shoppe around the nation. Social media is getting slammed with images of Autumn, pumpkin spice items and horror movies. While Autumn is my favorite season, I need to speak up about this sudden seasonal obsession with pumpkin spice everything. For those who are ‘not in the know’ about pumpkin spice, it does not mean that everything labeled ‘pumpkin spice’ is going to end up tasting like a pumpkin. Pumpkin Spice is actually a combination of other spices, that are blended together when you make a pumpkin pie. You can literally buy a jar of McGormick Pumpkin Spice in your local markets. Pro Tip: It’s available all year long. Not just during the Autumn season. Even more of a pro tip: You can make it yourself, and it usually tastes better this way.

Fine, but, how does someone go about making ‘pumpkins spice’? Get a small bowl. OK, let me rephrase that. Get whatever sized bowl you want to use, and stir the following ingredients together, in said whatever sized bowl you want to use: 3 Tbls. ground Cinnamon, 2 tsp. ground Ginger, 2 tsp. ground Nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp. ground Allspice and 1 1/2 tsp. ground Cloves. Stir together. Really, that’s what’s in pumpkin spice. That being said, I see things that are labeled as being ‘pumpkin spice’, that are about as appetizing to me as intestinal flu. The biggest example of this is ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’. Latte, is made with Espresso and steamed milk. Think about the ingredients in Pumpkin Spice, and ask yourself this question: Is there anyone on this planet that actually looks at their spice rack, and thinks, Gee, maybe I’ll add some Allspice and Ginger to my coffee today? Because that is exactly how you would go about making a Pumpkin Spice Latte. You’d add Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice and Cloves….to your extremely concentrated coffee, with steamed milk stirred in.

The aroma of pumpkin spice is fantastic. It’s what gives a pumpkin pie it’s distinct scent, and flavor. It’s great in potpourri, sachets and even as a type of herbal air freshener. Even the color of the spice blend is pleasing to the eye. Basically, what I’m saying is: Before you go all nuts happy about pumpkin spice everything hitting the stores, make yourself a small batch of home made pumpkin spice, and use that to compare it with everything hitting the stores. Furthermore, keep in mind that if you want to drink something with a pumpkin spice flavor, tea would be the better choice. That is, unless you are rather fond of having a ginger/nutmeg/cinnamon blend after taste when you drink your espresso. Have a great week, and an amazing start to the 2017 Autumn season!

Carrie’s Jar Corner 8/30/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Some people collect figurines. Others collect antiques. Me? Jars, and plant containers….and enough books to constitute a mini-library. Odd, I know. However, there is a method to my madness, especially when it comes to the jars. While the reasons behind the collections of books, and plant containers, are obvious, the reasoning behind the jar collection may be a bit, well…not so obvious. One could reason that I save jars to put smaller items in, save left overs and/or keep for use as mini-starter containers for seeds. While all those reasons are true, let’s face facts…any plastic container would suffice just as well for those uses. So, why jars? Because jars are made from glass.

Yes, glass can break. Yes, the lids can get old, and a bit too warped to use Yes, sometimes the lids are missing all together, and I have to make do with replacement lids, and/or corks. The benefits, however, far out-weigh the pitfalls. First, and foremost, I don’t have to worry about out-dated plastic leeching into the contents of the jar. Second, glass can be sterilized easily. A few other benefits? Glass jars are formed through heat. This means that they are capable of handling higher temperatures than plastic, before the crack, break or become unusable. Glass can also handle far colder temperatures than many plastics can. The lids are usually air tight, which makes it nearly worry-free in regard to the contents becoming damaged through seepage. In other words….the cherries I’ve saved in a glass jar, can be kept right next to the pickled peppers in my fridge, and my cherries won’t end up smelling like pickled peppers, and my pickled peppers won’t end up smelling like cherries.

Finally, they don’t have to be replaced umpteen times, and therefore are less likely to end up in a landfill somewhere, clogging up the already enormous pile of rubbish us humans create. While I understand that it is almost impossible to save every glass container that enters your home, it’s a heck of a better storage solution than plastic. Need larger spice jars? Make them out of old beer bottles. Bonus points for the fact that the colored glass bottles will help preserve your herbs, and spices, far longer than the clear glass containers. So, have a great week, start utilizing those glass jars….and if you run out of drinking glasses, start using pickle jars, mason jars and cheese spread jars. They’re perfect drinking glass sizes, for almost anything. Enjoy your week!

Carrie’s Handy List Corner 8/23/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

In just about a month, it will be Autumn. We all know what this means. It means the temperatures are going to start bouncing between an Ice Monster’s paradise, and Hades’ oven, on a daily basis. It also means that now is the time to start preparing for our annual ‘next level of meteorological craziness’ – if you already haven’t started doing this. Make your check list, and get it done. Stock up on batteries, wood, kindling, lantern oil (and any necessary replacement parts), non-perishable food products, bottled water, pet supplies, OTC medical supplies and medications…etc. Y’all know the drill.

Make sure that you also have your handy duty list of emergency numbers close by your phones (land lines, people…not cells). Furthermore, make sure these numbers are written down someplace that you will not lose them. When the power goes out, you’re not going to be able to charge up your laptops, cell phones, iPads, Kindles and Tablets. If you keep numbers on those devices, transfer them onto paper before it’s too late, and you end up scrambling for the numbers in the dark. With a flash light that may, or may not, be low on battery power. Because y’all forgot to pick up those extra batteries 3 months before you needed them.

Going on to the non-perishable food supplies. Bottled water seems to be an issue with a lot of folks, so I’m going to spell it out for you. The expiration date on the bottles of water is for the bottles, not the water. Also, you will want to keep your water bottles in a cooler location, so the plastic does not reach a temperature of 90F, or higher. Some of the chemicals that are used to make plastic can start to seep into the water at higher temperatures, so just to be safe, keep the water bottles in a cool, dark location (next to the potatoes is a good place). Finally, the same rule applies for medication. Cool, dark locations (medicine cabinets, drawers, closed cabinets). Enjoy the week, and enjoy the rest of the nice weather while it lasts!

Carrie’s Camp Corner 8/9/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Ahhh, I just love the smell of campfire smoke in the morning. A campfire is something I’ve always enjoyed, no matter what time of year it is. That being said, during this particular time of the year, campfires also make me a bit uneasy. OK, they make me extremely uneasy. Especially when I wake up in the middle of the night, and can still smell the camp fires. Keep in mind, that where I live is at least 1/4 mile away from any camp site. Given all the fires that have been flaring up around the northern parts of the state lately, and the fact that Nevada’s monsoon season doesn’t really end until the end of this month, folks around here tend to get a bit uneasy. Also, the fact that we’re always reading about one town, or another, being evacuated due to lighting-caused fires, doesn’t exactly help to ease our worries when it comes to campfires.

Fire safety should be first, and foremost, on every camper’s list. So far as I know, this is true of our dear campers this year. Thankfully, many (if not most) of the camp sites in Sierra County are very close to (if not right next to) a large water source. One thing many new campers to this area find out (usually the hard way) is the fact that cell phones, GPS and other forms of new-fangled technologies, are usually rendered useless….unless someone happens upon a free wifi connection from a local’s house, or business. To give you an example of the GPS situation: I had a young man drive up to my work place and ask me where the Sheriff’s Office was. He said his GPS was working, but that it did not show the location of the Sheriff’s Office. Well, his GPS was in fact on, and it seemed to be working…with one little problem. The map that the GPS was showing, had the Sheriff’s Office located firmly at the bottom of the Yuba River, and the courthouse, as well as the forestry buildings, were non-existent.

Please prepare. These may seem like ‘no-brainer’ things when you go camping, but they are not. Relying too much on technology when you’re up in God’s Summer Kitchen is not something you want to be doing. Having a campfire is wonderful, so long as you’ve got a bucket of water handy to put it out completely when it’s time to go to sleep, or leave the camp site for the day. Exploring the area is a beautiful way to spend your day, but please do not go out there unprepared. Have a trail map, road map or something other than a GPS handy to help guide you at all times. This is a national forest, not a hiking trail at Disney Land. Have a safe, and happy, week everyone!

Carrie’s Cool Corner 8/2/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

With the Downieville Mountain Classic just around the corner, I’d like to take this moment to remind everyone, especially the bicyclists, to keep themselves as cool as possible. The temperatures in this area are reaching the high 90’s, and triple digits. This also happens to be the temperature range that causes the human body to start getting over-heated. I’ve actually heard people say:”Oh heck, my bath water is hotter than that. I can handle it”. To this, I respond as follows: 1. Your bath water is likely hotter, but you are only exposed to that heat for a short period of time, before the water starts to naturally cool down to room temperature. 2. No, you can’t handle that for extended periods of time. You’re not a cactus.

Keeping yourself from becoming over heated in this type of weather can sometimes prove to be a challenge, especially when you have no choice but to be outside for extended periods of time. If you have a choice….don’t stay outside for extended periods of time. Keep yourself in a cool location as much as possible. While the human body can withstand some very serious damage, heat is something that is not to be looked upon as a challenge. Keep the fans on. Keep the A/C on (worry about the power bill later….because that A/C could possibly be the only the keeping you from having heat stroke). Keep your pets indoors!! If you see a cat panting….they’re over heated, and need to cool down – immediately. The same applies for excessive panting in dogs. Also, in humans. Although humans do not ‘pant’, our breathing can become labored when we get too hot. If you see someone having difficulty breathing, get them indoors, and help keep them cooled down.

Drink plenty of clear fluids. Water is best. Keep ice packs handy. Wear clothing made of materials that will help draw the sweat away from your body, and wear lighter colored clothing, white is always best during the heat. Learn the differences between Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke. Pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you, and have the number of your doctor, clinic or hospital handy in cases of need/emergency. Stay cool. Stay safe, and have a great week!

Carrie’s Bike Corner 7/19/12 

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Every year I write a similar column, and again this year, I’m writing it again. This time, I’m just going to spit it right out, and not beat around the bush. If you’re going to ride your bicycle on the highway, please understand that 4 wheeled vehicles have just as much of a right to be on that road as your 2 wheeled, human-powered vehicles. By the way, because your bicycles are considered vehicles, that also means that all the road laws apply to you. That means drivers of 4-wheeled vehicles, expect you to obey those road laws, just like they’re expected to. In other words, those stop signs also apply to you. In-town speed limits, also apply to you. Parking laws, also apply to you. For those of you who drive motorized 2-wheeled vehicles, the out-of-town speed limits also apply to you, as do all other traffic laws. Like, double yellow lines, for example.

Just about every single time I travel from town, to my home, there is someone operating a 2-wheeled vehicle that seems to think that the posted speed limit signs don’t apply to them. Almost without fail, I get passed by someone riding a motorcycle, and it’s always the “crotch-rocket” variety. People can complain about the noise a larger Harley Davidson motorcycle makes, but the one thing that I have never heard anyone complain about is someone on a Harley passing them on a double yellow line, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and acting like a general swine on the road. As a matter of fact, most of the people that ride those larger bikes, will be some of the first people to pull over, and help you, if they see you need help, or if there’s an accident, and help needs to be obtained. So, complain all you want about the noise, I have found nothing but good folks operating Harley Davidson motorcycles. Y’all with the Yakuza-level crotch rockets, on the other hand, many people take issue with, simply because of the way they’re driven.

So, motorized, or not, please, do yourselves, and everyone else on the road, a huge favor. Stop riding like you own the road, and 4-wheeled motorists owe you the courtesy of special space on the road. Yes, we keep our eyes out for you. Yes, we go around you. Yes, we will back off from going around you when there are blind curves, and we can’t see what might be coming towards us, that would put you, and us, in a tremendous amount of danger. NO, we will not break the laws, just so you have your special little space on the road. It doesn’t work that way. It’s called sharing the road, not giving it up. Oh, and the sharing part, also applies to you 2-wheeled, human-powered bicyclists. That being said, have a good, and safe, week everyone!

Editors Note: and when you are loading the shuttle or packing up your bikes, it is not nice to leave unfinished drinks, cups, bottles on the sidewalk or on the bench or atop a railing, there are trash cans all over town for your trash.

Carrie’s Big Kitty Corner 6/14/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

On Tuesday, 6/13/17, around 7:10am, I looked out my living room window to see death on 4 legs walking up my driveway. A 200 pound female mountain lion
was making her way, casually I might add, up my driveway, presumably heading towards her den after a night of hunting. This is the same lion that was meandering about my yard last Fall. She has a very unique marking on her tail, which is an extremely dark patch of fur just at the tip, and running slightly under the edging of her tail. She’s absolutely gorgeous.

My dog, who lives in her barn apartment during the night, was fortunately still in
her abode during this event, and the lion acknowledged the dog’s presence, but kept moving calmly along the side of my barn, and made her way back into the thick forest behind my house. Most folks that live here know full well to never try and get close to a lion. They are solitary ambush hunters, who prefer to ambush their prey from behind. They are also experts at the art of going into full stealth mode. Furthermore, they are also a protected species Not endangered, but protected.

Mountain Lions (aka Cougars) generally have litters of 2 – 4 kittens, which are generally born around this time of year. I should note here, that it is not uncommon for a Mountain Lion to give birth at any time during the year, it’s simply more common for them to give birth around this time of the year. The reason for this is because they usually mate between December and March, and since the gestation period is between 82 and 96 days, that puts this lion’s kittens firmly in the realm of new born. From birth, the kittens will nurse for about 2 months, after which they will travel with the mother, as she teaches them how to hunt. They remain with the mother for 1 – 2 years. While Mountain Lions have a very large range, this range differs between the males and females, with the males having a larger range than the females.

Do yourselves a huge favor. Stay far, and clear, of a Mountain Lion. While they are solitary hunters, they are well trained hunters, and extremely dangerous animals. Do not try to get near a lion, no matter how docile it may appear. Make sure you have the phone numbers of the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department handy at all times (530-289-3700), the DVFD dispatch number (530-289-3333), and the US Fish and Wild Life number (916-445-0411). If you see a Mountain Lion, stay as clear from it as you can. DO NOT RUN. Back up slowly, and try to keep your eyes on that lion as much as possible, until you get to a safe location (car, house, camper, etc.), and lock the doors behind you. Do not attack the Mountain Lion in any way. The lions are out, and they are extremely active right now, and they will be for several months, until their kittens are weaned, and learning to hunt on their own. Be safe. Be cautious, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Carrie’s IceCream Corner 6/7/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

I don’t know about you, but ever since Memorial Day, all I’ve been seeing in the news lately are articles on bad politics, terrorist attacks….and a summer body. These so-called ‘headliner topics’ were on the same page of a news paper’s web site. Seriously, how does one comprehend any level of a connection between bad politics, terrorist attacks, and a summer body? Furthermore, what, exactly, is a ‘summer body’? Does the fashion industry honestly think that the general population goes out and gets a new body every time the weather warms up a bit? Look, I am all for someone trying to get themselves into better physical condition. Sometimes, that choice can quite literally save their lives. However, when I see someone who looks just fine the way they are (you folks know who you are), and they start any sentence regarding food, and/or their life styles, with the words: “I’m on a diet, but…”, or, “I’m really trying to watch my weight, but…”, stop them right there.

Unless that person has some kind of a medical problem, that requires them to maintain a certain weight, they need a hug….a good set of ears…and probably a nice piece of chocolate cake. How many times have any of us ever had an issue when it comes to chocolate cake?! I know I haven’t. OK, maybe someone who’s allergic to chocolate, or is diabetic, but other than that? Nope! It’s chocolate cake!! How can anyone expect to have that magazine perfect body, when there’s any type of delicious summer-time treat within 10 feet of you at any given point?! Think about that. Pop-cycles, ice cream cones, ice cream sandwiches, smoothies, ice pops….chocolate cake for any reason what so ever. Furthermore, I personally would never want a magazine type body. Why? Because they’re all photoshopped to death. It’s impossible for anyone to gain that type of a body, without doing some serious damage to themselves – on at least 1 level.

Look, if you feel that you need to tweak the rough spots a bit, fine. Just remember, be yourself. Enjoy your life. Be happy with who you are, inside and out. Within your lives, there will always be only a hand full of people who you can truly call your friends. Hang on to that, and treat that like gold. Love yourself, just the way you are, and let that happiness shine through. While you’re at it, spread that happiness all over the place! Also, eat the chocolate cake. Besides, we all know the truth about chocolate. Chocolate comes from a plant. Plants are part of the vegetable family. Therefore, chocolate is a vegetable. There, I said it. Have a great week everyone!

Carrie’s River Corner 5/31/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

WARNING! Keep out of river! Large,dangerous currant!

ATTENTION!! The rivers have water in them! They are wet! They are cold! Also, they are deadly, and that is absolutely no joke. On Monday, May 29, the CHP in Grass Valley reported about a 23 year old man who decided that it would somehow be a great idea to try and boogie board his way down the river. Obviously, he didn’t last too long, and the Nevada County search and rescue team had not found him, as of 10 hours prior to this writing. Or, last night, around 7pm. This area is not the city. It is by no means some kind of well-maintained wildlife theme park. It is part of a national forest, that is inhabited by species that are mostly not humans. This past Winter was particularly harsh, having caused numerous land slides, as well as dumping a large amount of snow in the upper elevations. As a result, the rivers are still running between 5000 and 3000 CFS (cubic feet per second). This is not safe water. The rapids will take you under before you can blink, and they are not human friendly.

Rarely do I write an article that is packed with such warnings. Usually, as my readers well know, it’s packed with tid-bits of information, and it’s generally light hearted, and fairly easy on the eyes. Not this time. I can not stress this enough: Read the warning signs. Warning signs are not paragraphs long. No one has any excuse what so ever when it comes to ‘not bothering’ to read a 2 line warning (tops) near a body of raging water that can kill you. If the rapids don’t kill you, the temperature can. When the mountains decide to give way, there’s a lot more than just dirt that comes down off of a mountain during a land slide. Everything comes down. Trees, boulders, naturally felled logs, tons of dirt and debris….and, whatever type of road happened to be in the way when the mountain slid, including the metal guard rails that line the road.

Even though there are designated swimming areas along the river, there are also warnings. Please take heed to these warning signs, they can save your life! The river is not friendly to humans, especially right now. Yes, there are designated swimming areas. Yes, those areas are normally mostly human friendly. However, right now is not a good time to get into that river. There is still a tremendous amount of snow that is still melting in the higher elevations, and all of that run off is heading straight for the rivers. Please be advised that there is still a very good amount of snow pack in the higher elevations, which means that swimming in the rivers will not be safer for at least another month – if not longer. Please, be very safe! Take extra precautions when you’re around the rivers, and regardless of what time of year it is, please, never try to boogie board your way down the river. Stay safe everyone!

Carrie’s Heated Corner 5/24/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Oh what a week it is turning out to be, and oh Lord when will this heat even out? It won’t. Well, not until at least mid-September. Now that we don’t have an abundance of rain, sleet, snow and hail to complain about, we can begin complaining about the heat, humidity, fire hazards, dry under brush and flying dry debris in our faces every time the wind sneezes in the wrong direction. That being said, it is now time for my semi-annual article on ‘how to not accidentally put yourself in the hospital from being too stubborn to cool yourself down’. Before you begin reading further, it might be a good idea to grab a glass of ice water, and sit in a cool location to read this. Now that you’re comfortably cool, read on.

First, and foremost, it’s a good idea to know what your core temperature is. For most people, that’s 98.6. However, some of us, myself included, have a lower core temperature (mine is usually 97.5), and some people tend to have a slightly higher core temperature (which is more uncommon, but not entirely unheard of). People who have medical conditions should never allow themselves to be over heated, for any reason what so ever. Remind them to keep themselves hydrated with plenty of clear fluids, and keeping themselves in cooler temperatures. Kids, we love them to no end, but they are also very good at getting themselves over heated, sun burnt and physically exhausted from heat exposure. When your child comes in from playing out doors, make sure that they are given a cool wash cloth to rub on their arms, neck, shoulders and legs. Let them play in a tub of tepid water. If the weather is too hot, limit their time out doors, especially if they have medical conditions that can be made worse from long periods of heat exposure.

Finally, keep the fridge, and freezer, well stocked with plenty of healthy, but cooling, treats. Ice pops made from fruit slices and water. Iced tea. Natural fruit juices…etc. Keep some healthy produce handy as well. A good, cold salad is always a nice meal when it’s hot outside. Stay safe, stay healthy and, as always…stay cool!

Carrie’s Corner 5/17/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

While filing through some of my books this past week, I came across a Farmer’s Almanac paragraph that ringed rather familiar to me. I later realized that it was due to the fact that this very writing had been edited, and placed in this year’s Farmer’s Almanac wall calendar. It’s about carrot seeding, of all things, and, quite frankly, something I never really have given much thought to. However, after reading this, and finding it to be very interesting, I thought I’d share it with you. It reads as follows:

Carrots come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, but all have tiny seeds that are hard to sow. One clever seeding tip is to mix the carrot seeds with radish seeds. The radishes germinate first, marking the rows and loosening the soil for the carrots. The radishes will be ready to harvest long before the carrots. You can also mix carrot seeds with sand for easier sowing. Carrots grow best in loose, sandy soil and take about 75 days, on average, from sowing to harvest.

Then, the question popped into my mind: Well, that’s a great tip, but what if people don’t like, or want, radishes? My answer? Double plant the carrots, and thin out the greens when they’re about 2 – 4 inches out of the ground. At this point, the carrots will have developed a strong enough root system, to survive a transplant, should you want to have an additional bed of carrots some where else. Also, it will not slow the growth process, so long as they are transplanted into the same kind of soil. So, take carrot of yourselves, be happy and enjoy the nice weather that…well, the nicer weather that’s on its way.

Carrie’s Transplant Corner 5/10/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

As we all know, up in these parts, the weather can change from great to ‘you remember Spring…it was 3 hours ago’, in the blink of an eye. Saturday proved to be such a day, and, thanks to a brief moment of writer’s block, a dear friend of mine reminded me that some people may not really know what to do when they’re in the middle of certain gardening chores (such as transplanting), and the weather changes before they’re done. NOW what do I do? Is often the question that pops up into people’s heads. First of all, don’t stop transplanting, unless you’re getting showered with a torrential down pour. Get them transplanted, but be sure to protect them, if that’s what they require. Some plants require protection from heavy winds, and hard rains – especially new plants that are just barely strong enough to keep themselves upright in the soil. Tomatoes, for example, or Zinnias.

Any of the more delicate plants should be brought inside, or lightly covered, until the main part of the storm passes. If you have plants that you think may get wind burnt (yes, that’s a thing), or pummeled with heavy rain fall, bring them into a more sheltered area, if possible. Try placing them on a porch floor, under an awning, just inside the garage, or just inside the house, during the storm. While some elements are good for your plants, during this time of year, those elements should be allowed in extreme moderation, so the smaller, newer plants have a good chance at growing big, strong and healthy.

If you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask someone who knows, or look up the information on the Internet, or grab a book at the local book shop, or library. The more you learn, the more you know, and the happier your plants will be! Have a great week everyone, and enjoy the full Flower moon on the 10th!

Carrie’s Mayday Corner 5/3/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

So here we are, in May. Did everyone get all of their celebrations done for May Day? No? I didn’t think so. See, May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neo pagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. Then, there’s the Cinco De Mayo celebrations, which is a holiday commemorating the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). For those of you who may have friends, or relatives, in Missouri (like I do), many of them will be celebrating Truman Day on the eighth. All this is immediately followed by a full moon on May 10th. So, as you can see, there is a lot going on right in the beginning of the month, with lots of reasons so celebrate, and that’s just in the first 10 days. There are still plenty of other celebrations to be had throughout the month, so be ready to be happy!

Speaking of happy, many of us gardeners out here are thrilled that the weather is finally warming up a bit, at least enough to start planting things outdoors. Heck, I spent a few hours taking care of some yard work, and already managed to get a bit of a tan. In many parts of this area, however, getting enough space for plants that require full sun light can be a bit of a chore, at least when it comes to planning it all out for the first time. So, if you’ve got that kind of ‘where in the world am I going to plant all this stuff’ problem, here are a few hints that have you celebrating Spring once again.

First, don’t ignore the shady spots. There are lots of herbs, and vegetables, that do very well in the shade, and some prefer it! Second, plants can become wind burnt. So even if the plant is in the proper place, you may have to worry about the wind as well. So don’t feel bad about giving your plants a little bit of extra protection from harsh winds – especially up in these parts. Finally, If you still have problems finding enough sun light, sit indoors, and look out the windows. Figure out which side of the house gets the most sun light during the day….and plant your plants accordingly. Take it easy. Don’t worry, be happy, and celebrate Spring!

Carrie’s Garden Corner 4/26/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

By now, all of the gardening folks have been well into their gardening season. For some of us, myself included, we’ve had to start just a bit later than usual, due to unforeseen circumstances which are beyond our control. Like, mother nature fitting all weather types possible into a 1 week period, for example. For anyone out there who is just starting to get into gardening, do yourself a favor…do NOT think it’s some kind of hyper-complex skill that will take you the rest of your life to master. It isn’t. Most gardeners have a ton of gardening books. They have these for one reason. Reference purposes. Want to learn about plants? Plant something, and study it as it grows. Really, it’s that simple. Don’t know how to properly plant a seed? NOT difficult. Simply get a small pot of dirt. Then, stick your index finger into the center of the pot until you reach the first knuckle. Pull your finger out of the dirt, and drop a seed into the hole you just made with your now soil covered index finger. Cover the seed with the displaced dirt. Water lightly. Oh my God! You just planted your first seed! Congratulations!

It is said that patience is a virtue. That being the case, gardeners are probably some of the most virtuous people on the planet. Like people, plants take their own sweet time to grow. I’ve had seed packets, where the contents all seem to have their own different agendas, all growing whenever they darn well feel like it, but somehow ending up fully matured within a week of each other. When you read seed packets, and it tells you how long it will be before the seed grows into maturation, trust me, it’s a ‘well educated guesstimate’. You can read all the educational material you want to, but until you plant your first few seeds, all of that knowledge will be moot.

Talking to more experienced gardeners does help. If you run into things that you think may be an issue, take a photo, and show it to someone who is a more experienced gardener. If they can’t figure it out, perhaps they will know someone who can. Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter if you think they’re ridiculous or not. Gardeners are people who can generally read plants, the way teachers read books. One look, and we have a really good idea as to what’s going on with the plant. Also keep in mind one very important note: If you’re going to plant an organic tomato seed, and hope it turns out looking like the pristine ones you see in the market, you’re putting far too much hope in nature. Chances are, nature will make it look better, taste better, smell better and cook better. So grab a packet of seeds, a few small pots, some dirt, some water….and just plant something. You’ll be happy you did.

Carrie’s Salty Corner 4/12/17

by: The Unusual Suspect

Many folks, along with myself, have been suffering recent bouts of severe allergy attacks. This most barbaric onslaught of allergens has been brought to you, in part, by this year’s overly abundant precipitation events. Much to our dismay, this type of prolific infiltration can not be avoided. It can, however, be easily treated. Preventive measures, on the other hand, do not seem to deter the most devious determination levels of said allergens. This being said, it would be in our best interests to take stock of our natural medicinal belongings, to at least aid in guarding ourselves against our microscopic predators.

A good, solid, arsenal is the best place to start. Having a large cache of the following items will help to improve your chances of withstanding this year’s level of absolute allergen macabre. First, and foremost, you’ll want to have a good supply of raw, unfiltered, organic, local honey. We all know that the word ‘local’ is a relative term up in these parts. None the less, get as close to this as you can, and in large quantities. Second, you’ll want to be sure that you have a decent supply of green tea (organic is always preferable, but in this case, as long as it’s green tea….you’ll be fine), lemons, oranges, ginger and salt (any salt will do). Before anyone thinks I have lost my mind (again), be assured that no, you are not going to be putting salt in your tea. If you ever did that, I’d have no choice but to come to the conclusion that you’re more bonkers than I am, and I’d have a problem with that.

The salt is used as a steaming agent, which will help dry out any of your unruly sinus cavities, that have decided to break the land speed record in an attempt to exit your nasal passages. Boil salt water…hold a towel over your head (which helps to direct the steam into your sinus cavities), and take a few deep breaths. The steam will help loosen up any solid bits, so you can remove them, and the salt particles in the steam will help to heal up any damaged areas within the sinus regions. The rest of the above mentioned ingredients are for the tea. Easy tea recipe. Throw it all into a pot of boiling water. Let it steep on low heat for about 15 minutes. Pour it into a mug, and drink. If your muscles are tense, add Chamomile. If your nasal passages are clogged, add Peppermint or Lavender. The honey, by the way, can also be taken twice daily, as a natural form of allergy aide. 1 tablespoon in the morning, and one at night. Warm lemon water is also helpful. Stay well, clear those nasal passages often, get some rest, and have a hoppy Easter everyone!

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