Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How did I miss this? Pfaltzgraff sale!

Pfaltzgraff is having a Dollars Days sale right now, and I got an e-mail this morning that the sale has been extended for two more days!

If you're looking to add to your collection, now is the time to do it. I've been adding to my collection a bit here and there with pieces from eBay, but I have a few dinner plates that are chipped and need to be replaced and some I don't have enough of. Most of my soup/cereal bowls get regular use and have a chip or a crack somewhere. I mixed and matched several different patterns, and I really like the color combos.

My patterns:

Dinner Plate Salad Plate Dessert Bowl Platter, Rectangular

Sadly, I will not be able to take advantage of this sale, but I hope you will!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Being a better blogger, Round 2

In an earlier post, I posed the question: "What do I really want from this blog?"

I guess the real question is, what do my readers want from this blog? In figuring out which direction to take this site, I realized that blogging is pointless if no one reads and responds to what I write. Even if I post for my own enjoyment, I will get bored with this project quickly if I don't get some sort of feedback. Looking at my tracking stats just isn't the same as having comments from real live people.

So, if you were to become a loyal reader of Modern Country Mom, what sort of topics would you like to see posted? What are you yearning to discuss with other people with similar lives? What will keep you coming back to read more? Would you like to see Modern Country Mom become a resource for other families, or just remain an outlet for pleasure reading? I would really like to know!

I think the first step in the right direction was putting together a discussion forum. Although membership is a bit thin, I have a feeling that will change over time. Having a forum to bounce ideas off of and pull hot topics from would be a great way to interest my readers.

I think the next step will be having a guest blogger from time to time for a different perspective. In fact, if you would like to be a guest blogger, just drop me a line and I'll consider it.

Other ideas I'm tossing around include a resources section, local news, events, and a few other things I haven't formalized yet. What I really need right now is feedback from you. I would appreciate any comments. If you don't want to publish them here, please send me an e-mail. Can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break, sunburn and dirty nails

I took two days off last week to enjoy the Spring weather, spend some time with Meredith and Lonnie, prepare for a fish fry and get caught up on yard work. I was able to do it all, but Meredith is twelve and Mom isn't cool any more. That's ok, I expected it. At least Lonnie still thinks I'm cool.

The yard was in ill repair; weeds everywhere, random pots blown around by the wind and bare soil confronted me at every turn. I can't believe how horribly I neglected it all winter. I'm happy to say that now most of the beds are weeded and mulched, I have almost finished all my fall bulb planting (I'm so embarrassed) and I made the flower bed I've wanted for the last two years. As if I needed anything else to do, I dug up more bulbs from Mom's yard and some daffodils from a pasture down the road (where a school sat over 100 years ago).

I got a surprise during my weeding adventures Friday. I'd been pulling up these weedy looking plants all week that I didn't recognize, noticing that there were a lot of them clustered together, all pretty much on the edges of the flower beds. I probably pulled up 20-30 of them before I found one in bloom. Turns out it was the five-spot, (Nemophila maculata) that I sowed over 2 years ago. The foliage looks like a cross between lettuce and dandelion leaves, but I never bothered to look up a picture of the foliage. Silly me. Needless to say Lonnie and Meredith got a kick out of that. I never imagined it would take so long for an annual to flower. I hope it reseeds itself, but if not I have a whole bag of seed left.  I'm pretty sure I've also pulled up most of the showy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) I sowed two years ago now that I've taken time to look up the seedling. Can you see me rolling my eyes from there?

I managed to get potatoes and snow peas planted, got some more veggies and flowers sowed, and made plans to expand one of the bulb beds next fall. I don't think I spent much time indoors over the past four days. We finished the weekend last night, listening to the flames crackle in the fire pit and the fountain bubble in the pond.

I went back to work today, fully expecting to be busy and I was. The only downside to vacation is playing catch-up when you return. I missed a few spots with the sunscreen and got really dirty, but it was worth it. I would much rather spend my time outdoors if given the option.

I took some great pictures for GBBD! I didn't get around to posting on 3/15, but here is my contribution to Garden Blogger's Bloom Day. I also joined the Garden Party at Etsy Cottage Style. Hope you enjoy!



Gerbers
Gerber daisies. See the bud on the bottom right? These came back after record cold and snow here this year. Four of the eight I planted are making their way out of the soil. The other four rotted. Not terrible odds for a plant that isn't supposed to be a perennial in this Zone (7B-8).

Nectarine blossom
Nectarine blossom. If this tree produces as much fruit as bloom, there will be a bumper crop this year. This is the first year for this tree.




Peach blossoms
Peach blossoms. I have no idea who planted this tree. We found it while cleaning out the brush and only one limb is blooming. I'm not optimistic for fruit, but there are suckers on the side of the tree I'm going to attempt rooting.

Sawtooth oak
Out with the old and in with the new. My sawtooth oaks are putting out new leaves, but they haven't dropped all their acorn caps just yet.

I hope these blossoms have brightened your day a bit. They certainly made my week better!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gardening...Bee?

I've often thought about how much fun it would be to have a friend (other than my wonderful fella Lonnie) who liked to garden, who would come over and dig in the dirt with me and I would do likewise for her. Apparently someone else thinks it's a great idea too! Some have even managed to make it a reality.

My local garden club is made up primarily of upper/middle class housewives who frequent the country club. (How else do you explain the two hour luncheons in the middle of the day? Who has time for that? I can't afford to take two hours off work for lunch.)  This is not to say they are bad people, not at all. I know most of them and they are great folks, but I have no desire to hang out with the country club crowd. I'm also not a Republican, I don't go to church, and I generally don't adhere to Genteel Southern Society's Rules for Ladies. I doubt I'm getting an invitation any time soon, and I'm ok with that.

But how fun would it be to have brunch with your girlfriends and then work in their yard for a couple of hours? Sort of like a gardening bee (think quilting bee). Every weekend or every other weekend (once a month?) someone else gets a turn to host brunch and get their flower beds groomed, plucked, mulched, and planted.

I guess for now my gardening group activities will have to be confined to the internet.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Did you rock the red pump yesterday?

I didn't, even though I wanted to. I was afraid that the painkillers I took the night before would make me too unsteady to wear 3.5" heels. I was right. I had a root canal Wednesday and had every intention of getting up early Thursday and looking fabulous with my red heels on. Not only did I sleep late, but I also was in no mood to get dressed up. It was definitely a wash and go day.

In better news, my mallard hen has finally decided to sit on the nest she made. I found three eggs while cleaning out one of the flower beds last weekend and she was sitting on the nest this morning. I'll try to get a picture of her this weekend. I'm really excited! Duck eggs require 28 days of incubation, so if they hatch we will have ducklings before Easter!

Next week is Spring Break, and I've taken two days off. If the weather holds I plan to get finished with my yard cleanup and mulch the flower beds, which I'm starting on this weekend. So far, the outlook for this weekend's weather is favorable, but if you stand still long enough here the weather will change.


Mallard Ducks (Pull Ahead Books)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chocolate French Silk Pancakes

Just a quick blog post to share a recipe that I am dying to try. This is on my Saturday morning menu for sure!

Chocolate French Silk Pancakes

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Early Spring garden started

After doing absolutely nothing and helping Lonnie nurse his cold, I got out in the yard and planted Romaine lettuce, cherry belle and French breakfast radishes, chantenay and scarlet nantes carrots, and have several more starter plants waiting to go in the ground.

Even though I already sowed some seed, I wanted to get a jump start on the salad season and bought some Bonnie starter plants at Wal-Mart. Cabbage, red sails lettuce and spinach will go in as soon as I get a spot ready for them.

I can't wait for a fresh picked salad!

Salad Leaves for All Seasons: Organic Growing from Pot to Plot

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring garden plans

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are tightening the household belt. I've spent the last five years trying to bring a dream to fruition by starting a cut flower business and it has nearly drained my finances. As a result, I'm reworking and relocating some of the flower beds to make room for a vegetable garden.

I planted two small areas in cover crops last fall with the intention of growing flowers there. The timing of shutting down my business and the recent spike in oil prices led to the change in plans. I know fresh produce, and groceries in general, are going to sykrocket soon.

One area is separate (about 10'x20') and the other area (about 6'x15') is integrated into an existing flower bed. They both have had other crops planted there, and the soil has been tilled and amended. I will have to create a small raised bed for carrots because the clay soil here is extremely unforgiving. Root crops are best served in a raised bed of rich, soft, rock-free soil.

Even though I have 8 acres, there isn't much room in my yard for vegetable gardens. Most of the usable space is taken up by flower beds, and the rest is sloped, shady, too far from the water source or otherwise unsuitable for vegetable production. I plan to use an intensive gardening method known as Square Foot Gardening to maximize space and reduce the need for weeding.

My preliminary list:
  • Four types of lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Paste and slicing tomatoes
  • Lima beans, snow peas
  • Herbs!
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Peppers
What are you growing this year? Stop by the forums and tell us about it!

All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Trying out a discussion forum

Let's see what happens shall we? Even if you don't live in the country and just like to gab, feel free to come over and join!

Modern Country Mom Discussion Forum

I just got this up and running today, and I'm trying to decide whether to purchase hosting or just stick with the free option. For now, the free option is going to have to do.

Hope to see you there!
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