Passing Down Traditions

I come from a long line of farmers. My family grew tobacco for a cash crop, hay and corn to feed the livestock, and a big garden to feed ourselves. My momma preserved everything she grew or foraged to feed us through the winter.

This weekend, I had the privilege of passing some of this knowledge down to my niece. She grew an abundance of habanero peppers and wanted to make pepper jelly. I personally don’t care for spicy food, but she likes it, so off we went!

The recipes she picked were a plain pepper jelly and a pepper marmalade. Both were new to me, so it was a learning experience for both of us. The marmalade made the house smell divine, oranges and spices bringing to mind Christmas.

Although it was quite a bit of work, chopping and stirring and peeling, there was also the sheer pleasure of creating and passing of traditions from one generation to the next.

In three generations, we’ve gone from mamma preserving from necessity, to me preserving to stay closer to my roots and have a bit of extra food, to my niece growing and preserving simply because she wants to.

In the end, we made 28 pints of marmalade and 15 half pints of pepper jelly. Yes, she could probably have made a dash to the grocery store and bought something similar. It would be much easier. This way, she has the satisfaction of doing it herself, and memories of a day spent with her aunt, listening to tales of her granny.

Sometimes, the hard way is the better way.

Saturday morning: Memories

My momma grew up in the Great Depression. Probably as a result of this, she saved everything. Nothing that could possibly be used later was thrown away, and leftovers were a way of life. She grew a big garden, and canned or froze a large portion of what we ate. Food was not to be wasted.

The grandchildren were scolded at the holidays about their eating habits. “Don’t take that out if you’re not going to eat it!” We still laugh about it when someone leaves food on their plate.

The point of this story is to explain how I found myself in my overgrown garden this morning, picking beans for (I hope) the last time. I don’t actually need them, I’ve canned beans several times already, and these are kind of bug bitten. I only went to the garden for some tomatoes for salad later,, damnit, but the beans were there, and would go to waste. Unacceptable!

With momma’s voice in the back of my head, I picked the beans and the tomatoes. As long as I’m having beans for supper, I need potatoes, so I dug new potatoes out of the former site of the compost pile. The actual crop of potatoes are still in the ground. Digging them up is story for another day.

Some days, like today, I think I’m turning into my momma. With all the insanity going on in the world today, maybe that’s not a bad thing? What ways do you see your parents, or even grandparents, in yourself?

(My) Heralds of Spring

Yesterday, I reblogged a post called Heralds of Spring, with a lovely, poetic description of the season. Poetry isn’t really my thing, but photography is, so here is my tribute to the beauty of the season.

Spot exploring the woods.
Ferns unfurling
Bleeding hearts
Creeping flocks in the rock garden
White and dog violets
Deer trail in the woods
Dutchman’s breeches

It’s snowing here as I write this, and expected to get into the low thirties tonight, so many of these lovelies will be withered and burned by the cold tomorrow. Enjoy!

The March Wrap Up

Time flies. I’m continually amazed at how accurate that phrase is. A month is gone in the blink of an eye. This post is mostly to remind myself that it didn’t really move that fast, by recapping the things I’ve done in the past month.

I helped my niece build garden beds. It took three weekends from gathering supplies to putting in the dirt, but it was pretty great to view the finished product. She has plenty of room to grow veggies. There’s great satisfaction in a job (mostly) well done. Let’s just say the beds have personality!

I got my first Covid vaccine. It made my arm sore for a couple of days, but otherwise, no big deal. It wasn’t nearly as painful as the last tetanus shot I had!

This year, I decided to give up sweets for Lent. Ok, so that actually started in February, but the important thing is I have stuck to it. I haven’t eaten any sweets in almost six weeks and I’ve dropped ten pounds! Happy dance!!

Spring has arrived! The walk around the garden with my morning coffee has become a daily thing. It’s so exciting to see plants bursting out of the soil and blooming! However, even as I write this, the sun is shining, but I see snow falling! Happy April Fool’s Day from Mother Nature!

I had a birthday. I won’t mention which one, just that if I’d known I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself!

My reading list this month was mostly ebooks on my phone. I won’t do reviews here, just a list with my star rating. Your opinion may differ from mine on any of these, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

☆☆☆☆☆The one physical book, The Forgotten Kingdom, by Signe Pike, I highly recommend. It’s the second in a trilogy that began with The Lost Queen.

☆☆☆Theodora, by Christina McKnight

☆☆Tell Me to Stop, by Charlotte Byrd

☆☆☆☆☆Dear Enemy, by Kristen Callihan

☆☆☆Of Love and Vengeance, by Louise Lyndon

☆☆☆The Duke’s Bride, by Joanne Wadsworth

☆☆☆With His Ring, by Cheryl Bolen

How was your March? Anything exciting happen? What did you read that was amazing or awful? I’d love to compare notes!

Happy Birthday to Me!

The Bitty Goat

So today’s my birthday. Just really another Monday, but it’s warm out and I spent the morning outdoors. Walked the goat, dug some weeds out of my garden beds, planted some pansies. So far, a good day!

Hyacinths coming up in the pansies.
Mystery bulb!!

Everything is starting to come alive again, so I’m considering that a birthday gift!

Tree peony

In the less than great birthday news, I’m pretty sure I broke my pinky toe (again) last night, but I can still walk around so it’s all good!

Cowslips or primroses? I don’t know!

There’s something magical about spring!

Lupines!

Spring Day!

I had another post planned for today, but it never got written. Mostly what happened was the lovely spring-like weather, and I just couldn’t stay inside. So instead of a post about writing, you get pictures of my day!

My husband and I went to his family home where we used to live to pick up some reclaimed lumber. We got the lumber, but of course, I got distracted by other things. No big surprise there. Besides the wood, we came home with a grocery bag of bulbs, four cinderblocks, two antique Clorox bottles, and a broken brake drum from a dump truck. Sounds like a weird collection of junk, I know, but I’ll try to explain.

The Clorox bottles probably came from behind the house, which used to be the family trash dump, before we actually had trash dumps. It’s rather like a lesson in archeology to dig back there. And since old glass bottles are one of the things I collect, I grabbed these.

I dug some bulbs I planted years ago. I think these are grape hyacinths, but if they’re not, they’ll still be a welcome addition to my garden.

The cinderblocks just come in handy. When I have enough I will paint them, stack them and make a succulent garden.

Now for the brake drum. I talked my step-son out of this years ago, when he was hauling away some scrap metal. I put the broken edge against an old stump, filled it with dirt, and planted it full of red petunias. I adore the rust patina on it. Now it’s going into my garden, probably with petunias again, because you can never have too many!

I feel slightly guilty for disturbing these ladybugs, but I have the lumber home and cut. We’re expecting more rain and possibly snow this weekend, but I’m on my way to spring gardening!

My husband rolls his eyes a lot at the things I bring in. Does anyone else collect old things to re-purpose in your garden? I’d love to hear your stories!

What Do You Read? Enquiring Minds Want to Know!

I read everything. Romance, horror, fantasy, women’s fiction, you name it. I honestly can’t say I have a favorite genre. Since I write romance, that’s primarily what you’ll find in my blog and social media. That doesn’t mean you won’t find me squealing about the newest Stephen King novel, or lamenting the fact that we’ll probably never get the next Game of Thrones book from George R. R. Martin.

In a past post, I said I intended to start a newsletter. I’ve read tons of articles, all of which say one should write to their Ideal Reader. To find out who my Ideal Reader is, I’m taking an informal survey. Please feel free to answer in the comments or on any of my social media.

Do you read romance novels? Don’t be shy! This is a judgement- free zone! Any particular sub-genre? Sweet or steamy? Historical or contemporary?

What other hobbies do you have? I garden. I read. I take pictures. I enjoy learning new things!

I want to get to know my Ideal Reader. I want to get to know you! Tell me about yourself!

Dream Gardening

It’s that time of year, time to start planning what I want to plant in my garden this spring. The seed catalogs have started rolling in, and I delight in leafing through them and dreaming about these lovely plants growing just outside my back door.

It’s also a good form of writer procrastination. I’m waiting for my newest book to come back from my editor, so the nervous tension has to go somewhere! Where better than my dream garden?

I’ve decided that I want my garden to be functional and beautiful, with more edibles among the flowers, and vice versa. Vegetables, flowers, herbs, all in perfect harmony to benefit both myself and the wildlife.

The only problem with this plan is there are so many choices! I want to plant all the tomatoes, all the peppers, and all the flowers. I know I can’t but I can dream!

Besides the usual beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes, I want to try artichokes again. I did it once, why not?

Do you grow anything? If so what, and do you have any tips for making garden dreams a reality?