Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keep Calm and Blog On

It seems to me -- after reading numerous Internet stories and techie blogs about the demise of Google Reader -- that it may very well be "Much Ado About Nothing."

I say this because I think this is the case -- at least for me.

 Here's why:

---I don't use an RSS Feed to follow blogs (Thanks, Divers and Sundry for helping me sort through this definition and question!)

--Even if the blogs listed on my Dashboard go away July 1, I follow few enough blogs that I can easily go to each and resign up to follow them.

---Today I visited all the blogs I follow, and if a "subscribe by e-mail" option  was available, I signed up. (It is my humble recommendation that you do the same, ESPECIALLY if you do not have a blog yourself. This way, you won't have to be checking back to see if there's a new blog post; you'll know when the author posts because you'll be notified by e-mail.

      (This, by the way, is one of the features Bloglovin is touting - that you'll be notified when a blogger posts!)  So if you do NOT want to get an account with Bloglovin or any other reader, sign up for blog's e-mail notification.

--- If followers are lost because they have Google Reader, so be it. If they are interested enough, they will figure out a new way to follow. And hey, this concept is so simple: IF THEY REALLY want to read our blogs they will just enter our URL address and up we will pop! The World Wide Web is available to anyone and everyone!!

--I don't think most people follow mine or any other blog via Google Reader.
This is a tool that tons of techies use to follow a hundred things each day, not necessarily blogs.

-- As Mette mentioned, most followers never comment. I see blogs with hundreds of followers and maybe 15 comments on any given day. I understand why it's important for blogs with something to promote (products, etc) to keep their many followers. Mine is not of that variety. And after all, it's the page views that count, not the number of followers (although that is nice!). And one of the reasons many of us blog is for the TWO WAY dialogue.

Please read this (Va-Room Vintage) blog) for further clarification in case the information I've provided above needs further elaboration. I found it more helpful that the tens of other stories/instructions I read elsewhere while researching this whole darn subject!

So, let's all take a deep breath and relax on July 1!

Of course, I could be wrong........

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Highly Recommended Book: The Moonflower Vine

OK, I admit it -- I picked it up in the bookstore because of its title (I adore Moonflowers!). The owner was standing alongside me and said it was an excellent read 


The descriptions on the cover and back pages sold me:

"A Rediscovered Classic"

"New York Times Bestseller"

"A deeply felt American family saga...Dramatic..Constantly alive."  -- Harper's

And the publisher's words:

"On a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the twentieth century, Matthew and Callie Soames create a life for themselves and raise four headstrong daughters. Jessica will break their hearts. Leonie will fall in love with the wrong man. Mary Jo will escape to New York. And wild child Mathy's fate will be the family's greatest tragedy. Over the decades they will love, deceive, comfort, forgive - and ultimately, they will come to cherish all the more fiercely the bonds of love that hold the family together."

I started it three days ago and every spare moment has been spent consuming it. The book is as good as anything of its type I've read in a long time.

Author Jetta Carleton's (1913-1999) novel was published in 1962 to rave reviews; it was predicted to become a classic. The book spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list and was a selection of the Literary Guild and the Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club.

But in subsequent years the book fell into obscurity until, in 2006, the editor of included The Moonflower Vine in his compilation of "books that have been neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or stranded."

In 2009, Harper Perennial published the first new edition of The Moonflower Vine in more than twenty years.

So if you're looking for a book that will keep you turning the pages, go get this one!

It is far from a nostalgic piece of sentimental Americana. In the book's foreward Jane Smiley writes:

"It was complex and daring when it was first published, and it remains so in the twenty-first century - a delicate and loving exploration of some of the most sensitive topics of family life, presented in a straightforward style that is remarkable for its beauty and moral precision."

There are so many memorable passages - some hauntingly beautiful and others witty and realistic, such as the following:

"My sisters and I used to visit them on the farm. We came each summer -- Jessica from deep in the Ozarks, Leonie from a little town in Kansas, and I from New York, where I worked in television, then a new industry, very mysterious to my family. To me, and somewhat to my sisters, these visits were like income tax, an annual inconvenience. There were always so many other ways we could have spent the time. But, old as we were, our parents were still the government. They levied the tribute and we paid it."


When you fall in love with a book and a writer, you immediately wonder, "is there more?" With Carleton, the answer appeared to be no -- that The Moonflower Vine was her only published book.

It was known that she had been working on a second novel when she died, but it was believed to have been lost in 2003 when a tornado hit the house where they it was stored.

The unfinished manuscript had been left with a friend, however, and now discovered, published under the title Clair de Lune.

You can bet I'll be reading that one soon.

What are you reading these days"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Google Reader, Bloglovin' and All The Confusion

I mention Confusion. Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty much lost on what's happening to Blogger blogs come July 1.  I've casually read a few stories about the fact that Google Reader is shutting down and in order to "follow" a Blogger blog (which mine is), one has to follow via Bloglovin.

Are you confused too?

Tonight my HB has promised to sit with me and try to determine what I need to do. He's much more computer savvy than am I, and my hope is that he'll "figure it out."

Now as I understand it thus far, a person can still READ your blog, but to FOLLOW or COMMENT one needs to establish a BLOGLOVIN (free) account, just like you set up a GOOGLE account (free).

A few bloggers have posted on the subject, so if any of you out there care to shed light on the subject, please do so below.

Perhaps the followers of my blog have already, or least know, of this change and have already switched to Bloglovin. If not, I hope you will do so and continue to follow me, because your comments are very important to me.

I have few followers, but many daily READERS. For instance, my post on January 27, 2013 on Cinnamon and Honey: Cure-All or Hoax  has received 36, 962 page views and continues to average around 400-500 page views each day! At the bottom of this page, you will see the other most popular posts -- most of them many months ago.

On the other hand, my daily posts receive a mere 30-40 page views each day.

So the bottom line (for me) is that I want to keep the followers/daily readers I already have. And those who merely READ the blog won't be affected by this switch. Is that correct?

I suppose it's great that one's posts have longevity. However, I really wish there were more daily readers/comments. I have read the advice on how to make that happen - such as posting to Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites. But sorry, those suggestions just don't appeal to me. I don't wish to "advertise" to the world that I have posted. Instead, I wish to have a dialogue with others with mutual interests.

This is probably enough about this upcoming Bloglovin quandary so I'll stop and await YOUR comments/suggestions. Thank you!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Potager Garden Onion Crop

Today I gathered onions from the Potager Garden.

I planted both red and yellow onions in the spring and the intention was they would be eaten as scallions. However, I didn't use enough of them so they grew into "regular" sized onions.

This is my first experience with mature onions, and it seems somewhere in my memory bank I see onions hanging in a cool dry place to cure before storage. I could have easily enough looked up how to dig/store onions but I was impatient.

I went ahead and washed them, removed the outer skins and have now stored them in the refrigerator. I believe they must not be washed if they are cured for long term use.

However, I use lots of onions in my cooking, so these will be gone in no time. I may even chop and freeze some of them for later use.

In my short experience with food gardening, I find that -- other than tomatoes -- few things are worth my time to grow except onions and garlic. I dug garlic last week, and did learn that it must be cured 6-8 weeks before storage, or even eating for that matter. I had a "bumper" crop and its curing in safe spot.

One of my favorite expressions about kitchen staples is, "give me an onion, a few potatoes, eggs, cheese and butter and we can eat well."

Frittata uses potatoes, onion, eggs garlic and cheese. A favorite Saturday or Sunday lunch at our house

Deviled eggs

Baked tomatoes with garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese and basil

Chicken salad with just a touch of onion. Sweet pickle relish, dried cranberries, celery and lots of mayonnaise are my additions. One of my very favorite things to eat.

Salsa variation: White beans, corn, onion, black olives, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and chopped parsley.

Maybe soon I'll venture into growing potatoes, but chickens for eggs? It's an intriguing idea, and a few years back my HB consented to getting a coop and a few chickens. But his fever for that passed (the dogs would chase/kill them).

Yesterday he saw the neighbors chickens pecking around in my mother's backyard and he thought they were the cutest things. But no, he said, better not get chickens. The cats would get them. He did say we might could have a large coop inside which they would stay.  I don't know about chickens. I have about as many mounts to feed around here as I can manage.

One thing is certain: Chickens would be for the eggs, because as he said, how could you kill one of those cute things for the table when you have watched it grow and become attached to it, just as you would a pet?

Maybe I'll just stick with growing gardenias

 Inpatients and creeping jenny

A double orange day lily (from Aunt Marge)

Petunias in the window box

And Blushing Bride hydrangea (white with a tinge of blue)

Happy Monday, or Tuesday depending where you are!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shopping and the Summer Haircut

No time for a tea party today. There were a few shopping chores to accomplish and an appointment for a haircut.

While looking around in Tuesday Morning I found these cut little teabag rests:

And hand towels
An unconventional style hand towel. But for $1.50, how could I refuse?

 And flatbread
Many items were marked down 80 percent at the summer sale. This was $1.00

A breakfast tea that my husband enjoys

Tea is brewed daily in this, one of my oldest teapots.

But this was my favorite find of the day at a little antique shop. A plant was growing in it as a part of the shop's display, and naturally, it's the one thing that caught my eye -- something that wasn't for sale. But after I expressed an interest in it the nice man said I could have it. He promptly went in search of another pot and transferred his plant into it.
Love this little pot. And I got it for $10

And finally, the haircut. A layered bob, cut shorter for summer comfort. The cut and color was the only thing today that was NOT a bargain.

I am not very good at self portraits. The only way I can pull it off is turn the lens on me and shoot a mirror shot.

So that was my day. How was yours?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Night Blooming Evening Primrose

This is a variety of Evening Primrose that grows in my garden. I love it because it opens its petals during the cool of the evening.  If you stand before the plant, you will witness magic as the petals of the bloom gradually unfold.

You know the blossoms are about to begin opening when you observe the 5-foot plant slightly shaking.

I tried to capture all the stages of the process last night. The first photo was taken at 8:13 pm CDT and two minutes later the bloom was fully open.

I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty amazing!

The lemony scent perfumes the air and attracts night pollinators. 

The bloom stays open all night, but as the morning heats up the petals close and dwindle away; they do not rebloom the following night. But not to worry -- a new crop of buds are ready to charm you each night.

The plant's bloom season begins in June, and if kept watered and fertlized, will continue the night show until September. 

The plant readily reseeds.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just for Fun: Flower Fairies and Fairy Gardens

What are flower fairies?

Associated with the paintings of English illustrator Cicely Mary Barker, flower fairy art and gardens are very popular today.

Cicely Mary Barker published her first Flower Fairies book in 1923; she received £25 for Flower Fairies of the Spring, a collection of twenty-four paintings and illustrations. The books enjoyed huge popularity due to Queen Mary’s well-known interest in fairy art.

Unable to attend school as a child because of her epilepsy, she was home-schooled and spent much of her time drawing and painting. Her artwork was influenced by illustrator Kate Greenaway and even more so by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and she developed her talent as a member of the Croydon Art Society. Her flower fairy paintings, in particular, were driven by the Victorian popularity of fairies and fairy stories.

She later published seven more volumes of Flower Fairies. Following the publication of Cicely Mary Barker’s original Flower Fairy paintings and verses, two series of fairy stories featuring original Flower Fairies characters, Flower Fairies Friends and, more recently, Secret Stories, also have been published.

The painting are notable in particular because of the sweet, realistic depiction of the children, modeled on children enrolled in her sister Dorothy’s kindergarten.

She has been compared to Beatrix Potter in the botanical accuracy of the plants and flowers amidst which the fairies dwell.

For centuries, people have been fascinated by the mystifying legend of fairies, of so-called “wee folk” who can be kind to us humans or be mean and mischievous. Firm evidence of their existence is, of course, hard to come by!

No matter what kind of fairy is your favorite, when you fall in love with them you are forever inside another world. Some might call it a fantasy world, but believers know better. Gardens do better when fairies dwell there.

The creation of fairy gardens is very popular today. These are miniature gardens within the landscape that give the illusion of tiny creatures living there. Ideally, fairy gardens are located in small, somewhat secluded parts of the garden, providing the illusion of just happening upon a magical place.

Creating these gardens of whimsy takes little more than a tad of fairy knowledge, a bit of imagination and a small patch of space.

You don’t need to believe in the mythical fairy creatures in order to create a fairy garden! It could be a fun project with your children or grandchildren.

A fairy garden is not difficult to create, but it’s probably a smart move to learn what fairies prefer in their environment. They like secret hiding places in a secluded corner, a rotten log or a clearing at the base of tree. They are said to prefer oak trees, where they live in the topmost branches. 

Foxgloves are a good choice if you want to entice them into your garden. They also favor wildflowers and a slight, unkept look, as well as elfin thyme and Irish moss as a soft meadow to sleep on.

Since fairies need space of their own for celebrations and festivals, small stones and pebbles for pathways and tiny benches, chairs, fencing, and arbors could provide encouragement for the fairies to stay.

Weatherproof doll-house furniture, miniature glazed ornaments, and a small dish containing water embedded into the surface to resemble a pond can be enticing. A whimsical fairy door at the base of a tree would allow fairies to both leave quickly should danger threaten.

Allow your imagination to bloom. Think of acorn caps as fairy cups, walnut shells as fairy bowls, and small inverted champagne glasses as birdbaths.

Doreen Virtue’s book, "Fairies 101: An Introduction to Connecting, Working, and Healing with the Fairies and Other Elementals," is a good source for learning more about fairy lore.

Do you like the Barker's fairy art? Would you ever consider creating a fairy garden?

(Photos via Google and Pinterest)
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