OK, boys and girls (mostly girls, I know) this week is the 8th week before Christmas week. It’s time to gather ideas for Christmas gifts.
Think about each person on your list. What really matters to him/her? Try to give something that matters to the recipient, rather than something that makes you, the giver, look good. Is there something you could make, or is there something that you could do for them that would help out a lot? Some of the best gifts don’t cost anything more than your time.
Make lists for shopping and try to make every outing cover several gift purchases. Gather your wrapping materials all together in one place, and wrap each gift as you bring it home. See? The season is becoming less stressful already!
Take advantage of this nice weather! (Who knows how much longer this may last.) Pull out your annuals and replace with mums. Replace your patio or porch pots with something that looks more seasonal, maybe with a pumpkin or gourd placed strategically as an accent. Hang a fall flag, put up a bunch of cornstalks that will be appropriate through Thanksgiving. Create a seasonal vignette on your table.
This week begins the countdown to the Holidays. (Yes, I know, it’s too soon. Deal with it! ) The week of the 11th through the 17th marks 10 weeks before Christmas week, and the beginning of the holiday season. Why not plan ahead this year and make this the holiday season you actually enjoy? (Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?)
Evaluate what really means something to you. Eliminate as many as possible of the things you feel you “have to do”, and replace with things you “want to do.” Make time for “you days” to re-energize and re-group. Make a master plan now for all the events and commitments on your holiday agenda. Make this a more meaningful and less stressful holiday season for you and for your family. (Let’s face it: If you are stressed out, your family feels it, whether you mean them to or not.)
During the last week when the days began to shorten and the night time temperatures began to drop, you may have begun to notice shield-shaped brown bugs on your screens and around your doors and windows. Gather them carefully and flush them or toss them back outdoors if you can’t bring yourself to do that. Do not squash them! In death they emit a gross smell that has been likened to sweaty feet, and this smell acts to attract more bugs.
If you have more bugs than you can deal with one-on-one, suck them up with a sweeper. (Please note that the smell may linger in the sweeper bag after you have disposed of the dead bugs.)
These bugs are a nuisance, but do no harm to people. However, they are becoming a devastating pest to orchards and vegetable farms. They leave pock marks on fruit and suck out the juices, making the produce unsaleable.
We have been concerned for several years about the declining honey bee population. Honey bees pollinate food crops, and without them farmers’ crop yields are significantly reduced, meaning less food available, and higher prices. The bees would disappear from the hives and never return. For a while it was suggested that cell phone towers were throwing off their internal radar and they were just getting lost and unable to find their way home. Scientists were baffled. The whole problem was known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
But now military scientists have got into the investigation and seem to have found a cause, or rather two causes, acting in concert. A virus and a fungus, acting together, seem to be attacking the bee’s digestive system. We still don’t know how to solve the problem, but finding the cause is a good first step.
I hope the rain has finally quit. I think I am growing gills. Cold, dreary, muddy, and miserable… This evening we saw a red sky and wispy fog out across the valley– I hope those are signs of approaching good weather.
Isn’t the garden center colorful as you drive by? A man in a van stopped yesterday to take a picture of the front of the gift shop– this is what he saw.
I almost decided not to gather the eggs today. But then the rain slowed from a downpour to a cold miserable drizzle, so I went out. The chickens were in the hen house (at 4:30) instead of under it or outside pecking about where they usually are, that’s what they thought of the day. The weather man says it will get better though. Let’s hope he is right for a change…
No frost warnings yet for our area. But if you have houseplants still outdoors, I’d be bringing them in now. Check for any sign of bugs and pull out any weed seedlings that have sprouted in the pot.
Pick your tomatoes before the frost hits them. If they have begun to ripen, they will continue to ripen indoors. If they are still green, then you can make fried green tomatoes as I will tomorrow. Yum! No sacrifice there!
Fresh garlic in the grocery store is not very expensive and yet folks I know use bottled garlic or garlic powder/salt exclusively in their cooking. And while I use garlic powder for jerky marinade or added to a rub for pork, I use garlic cloves for everything else. The flavor is just better. Garlic lasts a long time and stores well at room temperature in a brown paper bag.
But the best of all is to grow your own garlic, harvest it in the summer, let it dry for use all fall and winter, and save the biggest and best (undamaged) bulbs to replant for a continuous supply of home-grown garlic. And the time to plant is upon us here in Ohio. We planted our garlic a couple of weeks ago, but you can still plant in October. Get some garlic from a seed company like Johnny’s– don’t try to plant what you buy at the grocery store since it is probably a variety that won’t thrive in our climate and may have been treated to inhibit sprouting. (Your local Farmer’s Market may sell garlic that is a local variety and you can plant that, too.) Continue reading