Monday, September 30, 2013

It's time for tea

It's time for tea in blogland, and today I will be brewing Pumpkin Chai. I think it will go perfectly with my Cranberry Pumpkin scone.

 Light made it difficult to obtain this photo, but I did want to show you the pretty pink flower inside my teacup.

 I bought this teacup at the same antique store where I got the Canada teacup I showed last week.

 There are no markings on the cup or saucer, but there was a sticker that indicated it was made in Japan.

 The scone is on a yellow depression glass plate that I got at a garage sale last summer.

Just had to show my little cutie with her Halloween sweater!

Linking to Tea Time Tuesday and Friends Sharing Tea

Monday, September 23, 2013

O Canada, and Tea

Recently I had the privilege of visiting two antique malls in Kalona, Iowa. I collect teacups and blue glass, as well as china, so you can bet I had a lot of fun perusing the many items for sale.

Normally I shop thrift stores, but some of the antique store finds were quite reasonably priced. For example, I got the lovely teacup below for just $6.00.

 "From Sea to Sea" is part of the Canada series made by Royal Albert. It features maple leaves and a Canadian flag.

 The handle has an interesting shape.

 Maple leaves grace the inside of the cup as well.

 I set up my tea tray this morning, carrying out the autumn leaves theme.

 A slice of pumpkin bread went well with my Chai Spice tea (by Stash). (Tea recommendation of Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage)

I tried to find information on my teacup, but about all I could find is that it is a discontinued pattern. If anyone has any info to share, I'd appreciate hearing it.

I hope that my Canadian friends enjoyed seeing this teacup in their honor, and want to wish you an early Happy Thanksgiving.

Linking to Tea Time Tuesday, Friends Sharing Tea, A Return to Loveliness, Teacup Tuesday and Teacup Tuesday

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Camera critters/Fall Flowers

I found some fun "critters" in the garden recently. Take a look:

 There have been lots of hummingbird moths in the garden.

 Look who came to feast on the parsley: yet another black swallowtail caterpillar.

 I really like my honeysuckle bush. Not only does it bloom almost continuously all summer long, it's also a bird magnet. These birds are probably eating the berries. Hummingbirds love the flowers.

 A painted lady on the portal of the hummingbird feeder, sipping the sweet nectar.

 Also seen in the gardens: the mums are beginning to bloom.

 Goldenrod 'Fireworks'

 The Callicarpa (Purple Beautyberry) is full of stunning lavender berries.

 It's Toad Lily time! Rather exotic looking, don't you agree?

Speaking of camera critters, here's a sleepy little schnauzer!  Love my little Josey!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

THIS is how we compost

When most of your backyard is garden, you produce a lot of plant material that could be composted, and you also NEED a lot of compost!

These two wouldn't hold all of our plant material. It broke my heart to have to purchase lawn bags and have the city haul away my plant materials, and then, to make matters even more frustrating, I had to purchase compost as I wasn't able to make enough of my own!

The solution: composter by Ron

Ron built this in just a few hours. It has two compartments. Once the compost is beginning to get quite decomposed in one side, I can put the new items for composting in the other side.  You see, if I were to continually add new materials, it would slow down the decomposition.

Perhaps you have some questions, such as: What is composting? Why should I compost? How do I begin composting? Let me try to answer these questions.

What is composting?
Simply stated, composting is the biological decomposition of organic matter. Composting occurs naturally (think floor of the woods); yet it can be accelerated and improved through some simple steps.

Why compost?
If you compost your yard waste, it is less that goes into the landfill. Definitely a good thing. Also, the addition of compost to soil improves water-holding capacity and nutrient retention. In clay soil, it improves drainage and in fact it improves structure in any soil.

How does one begin composting? First, you need some type of compost-holding unit. You could use wire fencing - that's what my mother-in-law used for many years; you can make your own with old pallets, landscape timbers, concrete block etc; you can purchase plastic holding units like the ones shown below. A compost pile needs to be large enough to hold heat: 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft.

Turning units like the barrel shown provide a relatively fast method of composting.
Some people simply make a pile on the ground, and others bury the material to be composted; still others do worm composting in the kitchen!

Once you have your composter, begin adding items like leaves, straw, vegetable/fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grounds (filters too), tea bags (remove any staples), garden wastes, grass clippings, shredded paper, wood ash and wood chips. Do not add diseased plant material, or weeds with seeds; the compost may not heat up sufficiently to kill these. My personal experience with this is that in the past I added tomato waste with seeds, and this year I had many volunteer tomato plants grow where I'd applied compost last year!

For efficient breakdown of the organic matter into humus, it's important to have the right proportions of carbon to nitrogen (C:N ratio). The ideal ratio is 25-40 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.  Just try to blend various materials to achieve the ideal range.

High Nitrogen: vegetable wastes, coffee grounds, weeds, grass clippings.  High Carbon: leaves, corn stalks, straw, bark, paper, wood chips.

You can simply throw your organic matter into the composter; in 6 months to 2 years you will have compost on the bottom of your pile. To accelerate things, cut items into small pieces, and aerate your pile by turning it regularly to loosen compaction and rotate materials within the pile. It may be helpful to add water if the pile is quite dry. Do not get it too wet though or you will slow decomposition and odors may be produced from anaerobic conditions. 

How to use compost: You may use it as mulch or top dressing; you can use it in the planting hole when putting in new plants; you can sprinkle it on your lawn after aeration; if starting a new bed, till a generous amount of compost into the soil. One caveat: unfinished compost can be phytotoxic to your plants - be sure the composting process is complete before using. Compost is finished when the pile no longer heats up and it will be dark, crumbly, and have an earthy odor.

Now, head on over to Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday - check out the great gardens!
Also linking with Kathy at A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday - be sure to stop and see the beautiful home and garden posts there!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Autumn Notecards

I'm participating in Vee's Notecard Party, and my notecard theme is "Autumn."

Autumn - the most colorful time of year! Be sure to stop by A Haven for Vee to see all of the beautiful notecards.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tea in an extraordinary garden

Enjoy Rita's garden, where she has set up tea for us.

Rita does vegetable gardening in containers. If you look closely, you will also see some purely decorative plants in this area.

Lettuce and carrots growing in plastic IKEA tubs

Creative use (repurposing) of a shiny coffee pot

Rita has several garden rooms. This area is called "The Bistro." This would be a great place to sit with a cup of tea.

Spent allium heads were spray painted in pastel colors.

The herb garden

Now we're approaching another garden room, the gazebo. This is where Rita has set up our tea.

The gazebo from another angle

A silver tea service with a lovely patina and two colorful (even "gardeny" looking) cups

Notice there are guests in the background of this photo - they are touring Rita's garden.

Hope you enjoyed seeing how Rita set up tea in the garden.

Linking to Tea Time Tuesday,  and Tea in the garden


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