Monday, March 30, 2009

Lovely Lavender!

These beauties are living the good life. I had originally planted them (temporarily) in a gladiola bed just until we had finished the larger herb garden where I had planned to do a hedge of lavender as an outline for my working garden. BUT, they decided on their own that they wanted to stay put and take over the glads' home. I can't argue with them since they are so extremely happy and prolific.

Even though I am very allergic to bees (and any other bugs for that matter), I am really happy to see so many more out and about this year than over the last few. The crisis with the honeybees and the Colony Collapse Syndrome hit our area in a big way. The almond growers were really hurting as they depend on these tireless little workers to pollinate thousands of acres of almonds in our valley. On a much smaller front, our little gardens benefit greatly from the attention and wouldn't be able to survive without them. Somehow it seems that all is starting to right itself in our corner of the world when Spring finally arrives and you hear the unmistakable buzzing from your posies!
I will be harvesting some of the lavender this weekend, especially the English variety which is a little behind these beauties. I am playing with some different recipes and concotions based on the use of both fresh and dried lavender. By the end of the weekend, I will have projects strung all over the house in various stages of drying and curing. I am getting the feeling that Michael thinks I'm a mad scientist sometimes..poor guy really didn't know what he was getting into!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 - Turn Out the Lights..


Well, the hubby and I have big plans tonight...We're going to sit in the dark!

Yes, we paid our power bill and yes, we are choosing to turn off the electricity in our home for an hour or more.... We're taking part in a global event to show our support and commitment to saving our planet. (It doesn't hurt that we are including a bottle of wine, some cheese & crackers, and a nighttime stroll in the plan.) Being environmentally friendly and conscious of our carbon footprint can still be romantic!

This is the 3rd year in a row that millions of people worldwide will be turning off their lights & other non-essential electronics for an hour tonight to celebrate Earth Hour. Individuals as well as companies and international landmarks will take part by flicking the switch from 8:30pm to 9:30pm local times this evening. Even the famous Las Vegas Strip will be dark (on the outside) for this hour, including the huge "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. This will be a first as the only time this is ever done is for a minute when a local star dies, never for an entire hour. Huzzah!

Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, this event started in Australia and is celebrating it's third year with more participation each year. From the website:

In December 2009 world leaders meet in Copenhagen to agree on a post-Kyoto policy for tackling climate change. One billion people voting with their light switch during Earth Hour will create a powerful mandate for our leaders to take strong and decisive action on climate change in Copenhagen.

With the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote, Vote Earth is a global call to action for every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet.

Sign up for Earth Hour

While too many people still don't really think that 1 person or 1 family can really make a difference on a global level, it is amazing when events like this occur to see that EACH INDIVIDUAL really DOES count. We're talking BILLIONS of people choosing to do something as simple as flicking off a light switch for one hour. It's a start folks...


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Critter Corner - Chandler

This will be the first of many posts regarding the 4-legged (and one with 3) creatures that call MoonCat Farms home. Michael and I have a deep love for animals and would have more if we had the space and were insanely rich!

My dad has always said that if animals & kids don't like a person, you need to wonder why. Proof that Michael and I were destined to be together was given to us by Ding, Dad's anti-social and extremely rude cat. (Sorry, no photo - I wasn't kidding about the anti-social part) He hates pretty much everyone except for Dad & I, but he decided it was true love with Michael and began mauling him right away. Dad decreed that Michael was a keeper because Ding liked him. Can't argue with that logic...

Now on to the largest of our herd.. Introducing Chandler (Bing)

Chandler is a 2 1/2 yr old Catahoula/Plott Hound mix. He is a BIG baby, weighing about 100 lbs now. He is a big lover who enjoys lounging, chasing butterflies, and stopping to smell the flowers (and then unfortunately - for his momma - eating them.) The picture above was taken when I caught him chowing down on all of my lovely pansies. You can see the lone survivor behind him. He enjoys roses and strawberries as well. Not only do I deal with the birds, bugs, and hubby stealing my produce..I also have this brute who "helps" me in the garden.

He has a real love of sleeping on our bed even though he has a wonderful doggy bed of his own. His best friend, besides our other dog Calien, is Celie the Siamese kitty. When she was a tiny little kitten about the size of his ear, she decided that he was her hero and that she had to sleep on him and pounce on him whenever she could. He gives her slobbery baths and cuddles up with her at night. It's really cute to see this tiny little cat and her big protector all snuggled together.

Even with his plant-stealing issues, Chandler is a great dog. He is very smart and fiercely protective of both Michael and I and his kitties. He has become a very good watch dog around the place, letting us know right away if there is anything amiss or if we have visitors. I highly recommend this mix of breeds as you get the best of both the Catahoulas and the Plott hounds.

There are several of these dogs with this particular mix available for adoption on the website: I am seriously considering another one for us as we are so happy with our Chandy.. (and yes he's named after THE Chandler Bing from "Friends". We were having a hard time coming up for a name for our puppy when we were watching TV one night. He was sitting between us on the couch and something caught his attention on the screen. He had the exact same silly, surprised look on his puppy face that Matthew Perry had on the TV. So we had our name! Of course, Chandler is my favorite of the "Friends" guys, so that helped..)

In our next installment of Critter Corner, you will meet the 3-legged, blind in 1 eye..Porkchop..

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Surprise

When I finally decided to get with it and pull the monster weeds & bermuda grass out of my extremely overgrown lavender bed, this little blast of beauty met me! I planted these two years ago and didn't see them last year at all, thought the gophers (or Chandler - you'll meet him in a day or so) had eaten them.

This is one of those fun things that I love about gardening, the little happy surprises that greet you when you aren't expecting it. We've had some strange weather with the heavy rain, then sunshine and warmth, and then more water. It's really making our little plantings grow like crazy (as well as the out of control weeds.) The hubby has been spending most of the day outside trying to get the grass mowed while I'm trying to get all of the plantings lined out and moved from the makeshift greenhouse/room. I've also worked a lot the last few days on several new products that I am hoping to introduce to our line in the next few weeks. Lots of experimenting going on!

My patient & good-natured other half has started making me some great new planters by recycling shipping pallets we get for free from a good friend. I found this project (along with quite a few others) on a great website: I keep printing out new things that catch my fancy & he's been a good sport about trying most of them! Anyway, I have some new mints that are going directly into one of the new planters - we had a catnip rebellion a few years ago so I'm a little over-cautious about these little invaders and keeping them confined. (One note about these planters - if you decide to try it, be sure you get either untreated or heat-treated pallets, the chemically-treated wood could leach nasty toxins into your plants..)

With my next post, I'm going to start introducing the inhabitants of MoonCat Farms - starting with the afore-mentioned "Chandler" (Bing). He's a doozy!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free Issue - The Essential Herbal


Tina over at The Essential Herbal Magazine is offering a free download of a great previous issue from March/April 2008.

If you're not familiar with this wonderful magazine, just click below to check it out. You won't be disappointed. This particular issue is especially relevant right now with the nationwide movement towards growing our own foodstuffs and becoming more self-sufficient.

After reading this free issue, you're sure to be hooked! I was, and am now a happy subscriber.