Update for all to SEE

Since his laser surgery on December 23 for Retinal detachment, Jeff is slowly getting better.

He is seeing fewer white streaks and flurries of black floaters.

Retinal detachment describes an emergency situation in which a thin layer of tissue (the retina) at the back of the eye pulls away from the layer of blood vessels that provides it with oxygen and nutrients. Retinal detachment is often accompanied by flashes and floaters in your vision. Photo: http://www.mayoclinic.org/

I mentioned this frightening experience just before Christmas in a post called

Do you see what I see

He has a follow-up appointment in a couple of days. All of this experience has been especially troubling because Jeff has sight in only one eye.

The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater the risk that you will go blind. The warning signs of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters and flashes and reduced vision. Contacting an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away can help save your sight.

What did they do to Jeff?

Small holes and tears are treated with laser surgery. The procedure was performed in the doctor’s office. During laser surgery tiny burns are made around the hole to “weld” the retina back into place.

Read more about Retinal detachment.

This is just an update. Now you can go back to praying for world peas.

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It’s still Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

Christmas ain’t over. Any woman who just gave birth knows that. This is just the beginning.

I don’t get why you shut down, turned off and boxed up Christmas. I choose to keep Christmas just a little longer. It’s now time for the 12 days of Christmas.

If you go to a Catholic church, you know Christmas is really the beginning. It’s the Grand Opening of the holiday, not the grand finale. Christmas hymns, we are just getting started.

It took days, weeks, maybe even months, of wrapping, baking and planning. There were wishes to grant, ornaments to polish, and prayer lists to be prayed. Think of all those gifts to be made, ordered, mailed, hidden, wrapped, returned, eaten.

I’m still looking for that one perfect Christmas gift that I hid somewhere I would never forget and Jeff would never find it.

You don’t just box up the nativity set, blow out the candles, fold up the tree and walk away. The star of the show just arrived. It’s still Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

If you are one of those Keep Christ in Christmas folks, do that now. Charities are still accepting donations, folks are still homeless, hungry, cold, and someone you know is thinking about committing suicide tonight.

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Do you see what I see?

A Bright Christmas Story

He might not have seen this Christmas.

Jeff woke up concerned about his rapidly failing vision. He was seeing visions of white streaks and flurries of black rain.

This was the third day of these troublesome visions and he called the ophthalmologist. The entire Eye Center was out for the holidays until after the new year. But the receptionist could make an appointment for the following week. Would you like for me to make an appointment for January 6th for you?

Since he thought he was loosing his sight, waiting two weeks for an appointment, seemed too long. He went to Immediate Care because today the situation is very much worse. We can’t help you with that kind of thing, they said.

Neither of us said it out loud, but because we both have multiple sclerosis, we thought about the very real possibility of sudden blindness. Since he has sight in only one eye, we always worry about that. They could call the eye specialist who is on call… if you think we need to….

Yeah, why don’t you call, Jeff said. And we waited for a call. Finally, the “on call” doctor called back and said come in right now.

Jeff had one of the most thorough eye exams. Then, Doctor Tatyana I. Metelitsina came in, did some more exams, asked a number of questions and listened to Jeff’s every word. Retinal detachment is an emergency we learned.

By the time she had diagnosed the problem, the surgery room and equipment was ready and waiting. The doctor explained the problem. She told him what he was going to do, what to expect and asked if he had any questions.

Dr Metelitsina completed the laser surgery in a matter of minutes. It was her fourth surgery of the day. For four families, this Christmas really will be much more merry and bright.

Not every Christmas story ends wrapped up with a bow. But this one did.

After story:

The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater your risk that you will go blind. The warning signs of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters and flashes and reduced vision. Contacting an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away can help save your sight.

Or, in other words, go with your gut. If you feel like you need medical care before the doctor’s office Christmas party, Get It. If your wife thinks you should quickly follow-up on a health care matter, do it before she tears of the head of the cute little receptionist who thinks you should wait two weeks.

May all your Christmases be bright.

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My Snow Angel

People will do crazy things when they are in love.

When we met, Jeff had just arrived from the sunny, sandy California coastline. Snow, rain, hail and blizzards were not part of his winter.

St Elizabeths Catholic Church Eureka Springs

We married in St Elizabeth’s Catholic church December 17, 1983.

We met in the wintertime, everything was romantic. We were in love. Our new-found love got wrapped up in the joy and frenzy of the winter holidays.

After Christmas, but before Valentine’s Day, there were days and days of snow. Beautiful, fluffy snow. Glittering and glistening snow sparkling like diamonds in the sun. I made the hot chocolate. With peppermint stirrer and tiny pink marshmallows.

Jeff bought his first snow shovel. The sidewalk and driveway cleared practically before the snow hit the ground. When he came in, there were crystal plates of heart-shaped sugar cookies or warm squares of gingerbread fresh from the oven.

We hung handmade birdseed pinecones in the trees. We sculpted snowmen every time it snowed. We made snow ice cream.

Were we live today.

Were we live today. Cozy home for snuggling because there are 3 fireplaces.

I’ve never been a fan of winter. But it was a wondrous time, spending every frosty minute together. Still, winter can get old and cold fast.

Jeff is from California. He’s not used to jump-starting cars, getting stuck in snow banks, chiseling ice off windshields.

Winter weather means Christmas Holidays, Anniversaries and another Happy New Year

Winter weather means Christmas Holidays, Anniversaries and another Happy New Year

His first big snowfall was fun and amazing. He laughed when he slipped and fell on the ice the first time. When a slushy snowball got chucked down his collar, it was not as much fun as it looks on tv.

Jeff hesitated when I suggested we make snow angels. I thought my California boyfriend didn’t know what a snow angel was. I was in love. He was a good sport.

My sweetheart made the snow angel and jumped up. Once was enough, no more snow angels. The joy and romance of snowy weather didn’t even last one winter.

Betterthan snow angels, anyday.

Better than snow angels, any day.

We went to the warm, sandy beaches of Florida every winter for the next ten years. I love him so much, I’ll never ask him to make another snow angel. He loves me so much that he would make snow angels if I asked.

33 years together so far. Married December 17, 1983.

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Missouri Lemon Harvest

When life gives you Meyer Lemons, Plant The Seeds because,

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I’m growing lemons in the middle of America.

Meyer lemons can be container grown, are small, hardy and fast growing. Start with a seedling, or plant the seed directly from the fruit.

It started with a tiny, sad tree rescued from the garden center sale bin. In a week or two, I’ll plant seed produced from the fruit of that rescued tree. (More about that later.)

The thick, shiny green leaves are beautiful. The fragrant flowers are welcome  when not much else is blooming. The lemons are as bright and yellow as fresh, free-range chicken eggs.

The lemon harvest is fast approaching

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Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemon trees arrived in the United States in the early 1900s. Native to China, the fruit is a cross between a lemon and an orange or Mandarin orange. Meyer lemon or Citrus x meyerii, grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9A through 11.

The tree produces less acid, or sour, tasting fruit than traditional lemons. They are sweeter, juicy and thin-skinned. The small trees grow quickly and are quite hardy.

Meyer lemon flowers

Meyer lemon flowers are pollinated by bees or insects. Grown indoors, they must be hand pollinated. Photo PBH

Movable fruit

I brought the entire lemon orchard indoors before the first frost. My entire lemon orchard is small. OK, it’s one tree. In a pot. The tree lives indoors during our zone 6 winters.

Growing citrus in southeast Missouri has always seemed impossible. Dwarf citrus trees, that can be moved into the house or green house for the winter, makes it possible. I really am growing lemons in the Midwest!

The little lemon tree is mobile. On milder winter days, I set the pot on the porch in the sun. After all chance of freezing is past in the spring, I gradually reintroduce the tree to outdoor living.

Lemon picking

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Don’t pull or twist the lemons off the tree. Use clippers to prevent damage to branches.

The harvest will begin sometime next week. The entire process should take two minutes. It’s my first citrus harvest, so I’m not really sure.

Meyer lemons continue to ripen and sweeten while on the tree. Lemons don’t ripen any further after they are picked.

Don’t twist the lemons off the tree. I’ll be using the small pruning shears to snip off the lemons. Cutting off the fruit will prevent any damage to the tree.

Preserving the harvest

Meyer lemons are thin-skinned, making them difficult transport. The fruit is sweeter and more juicy than most lemons available in grocery stores. The lemons are found seasonally here because they do not withstand excessive handling or shipping.

Whole lemon dressingObsessed with the first citrus harvest, I’ve been saving lemon treats, tips and recipes on my Pinterest board Lemon Tree Treats .

I have saved recipes for lemon curd, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, lemon cheesecake, lemon marmalade and lemon pie. I probably won’t make more than two or three lemony treats. Because a couple of recipes will use up the entire years crop.

The entire harvest is only 9 precious fruits. That makes a jar of lemon curd and a few lemon bars. Plus, a spritz of fresh lemon juice over steamed asparagus or broccoli.

As improbable as it seems, growing lemons in zone 6b is possible. It’s a challenge to grow citrus in Missouri. But, it will impress your friends and reaffirm your legendary green thumb gardening status.

sliced lemon

About You Can Grow That!

Welcome to the You Can Grow That! website. We believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. The individuals, businesses, and groups included on this site share this common goal. We are promoting plants and gardening because we know that if you’re looking for joy, inspiration, or relaxation, it can be found in a sunny window, balcony, or your own backyard.

I’ll definitely be making Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake. It is the best lemon cake I ever tasted.

Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Spray or butter a bundt pan.

Cake

3/4 Cup Softened Butter
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
8 Egg Yolks
2 1/2 Cups Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Milk<
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Blend into the creamed mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Resift 3 times. Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk.  Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

Add the vanilla extract,lemon rind and lemon juice.  Beat for 2 minutes.

Bake in a greased Bundt pan in the oven for 1 hour or until the cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool 19 minutes before inverting on serving platter.

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
1-2 t. buttermilk
Zest of one fresh lemon


Meyer LemonHow Claudia Alta Taylor became Lady Bird Johnson

Claudia Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas on December 29, 1912.  Named for her Mother’s  brother Claud. Her nurse said baby Claudia was “purty as a ladybird.” (I call them ladybugs.)

The nickname Lady Bird replaced her first name forever. The family called her Lady.

Her husband called her Bird, which was the name she used on her marriage license.  She married Lyndon Johnson in November of 1934 after a two month courtship.

Mrs. Johnson is known for her support of the preservation and promotion of wildflowers in America. Lady Bird is responsible for the Highway Beautification Act. She also founded the National Wildflower Research Center in Texas.

The First Lady will forever be known as Lady Bird Johnson.

 

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Look who’s 50

Christ of the Ozarks concluded its 50th season of the Passion Play
Eureka Springs, Arkansas this week. Even if you don’t see the play

A little girl at the restaurant was so excited. She told me she was going to see The Big Jesus.

A little girl at the restaurant was so excited. She told me she was going to see “The Big Jesus, he’s 65 and a half feet tall!”

Christ of the Ozarks statue is a monumental sculpture of Jesus located near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, atop Magnetic Mountain. It was erected in 1966 as a “Sacred Project” by Gerald L. K. Smith and stands 65.5 feet high.

Seven-story statue of Christ overlooks the Ozarks and Eureka Springs. Lighted for night it can be seen for miles; created by Emmett Sullivan, one of the sculptors of Mount Rushmore,

Christ of the Ozarks statue spotting is fun year round.

Christ of the Ozarks statue spotting is fun year round.

The giant statue can be seen from the St Elizabeth Catholic church, at the Crescent hotel and Park Place. No matter where you are in Eureka it’s fun to see if you can spot the statuary.

Other points of interest on the grounds

 Include a section of the Berlin Wall, the Bible
Museum, the Holy Land Tour, the Museum of
History and, of course,The Great Passion , the Play itself

The Christ watches over the Arkansas Ozarks.

The Christ watches over the Arkansas Ozarks.

SACRED ARTS MUSEUM – Showcases hundreds of pieces of religious art dating as early as 9th century.  Open every day before the Play from 11:00am – 8:00pm (after Labor Day until 7:00pm).

Other points of interest on the grounds
include a section of the Berlin Wall, the Bible
Museum, the Holy Land Tour, the Museum of
History and, of course, the Great Passion
Play itself

GIFT SHOPS – An incredible selection of souvenirs, keepsakes, books, DVDs, resources, and other items.

PARABLES FROM THE POTTER – A 20-minute presentation by our potter, Joe Smith.  He actually forms a pottery vessel on the potter’s wheel and at the same time shares how God, the Master Potter, molds and shapes our lives.

DAVID THE SHEPHERD A 20-minute presentation by our shepherd, Kent Butler.  David the Shepherd tells stories about Jesus, the Good Shepherd and also gives a hands-on demonstration with his shepherd sling.

GREAT HALL BUFFET  – An all-you-can/care-to-eat buffet featuring a full salad bar, hot vegetable bar and meat bar, dessert bar and drinks.  Served from 4:30 until 7:30pm every evening the Play is performed.  Designed to serve groups quickly.

1361164943Address: 937 Passion Play Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Phone: (479) 253-9200

The inscription on the bottom of the memorial statue from John 12:32 reads, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” 

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Vegetables flowers are fall favorites

My Favorite Fall Flowers are Vegetables

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The fruit may not be mature enough to harvest the pleasure of the lavender blooms make this plant garden worthy.

The eggplant may not be mature enough to harvest this fall. But, the pleasure of the continuous lavender blooms make this plant garden worthy.

The prettiest flowers still blooming in my garden, are vegetables. Next year, I’m growing okra in the flower beds. The big daffodil colored flowers are gorgeous.

Okra Flowers are as pretty in the flower bed as they are appropriate for the vegetable garden.

Okra Flowers are as pretty in the flower bed as they are right for the vegetable garden.

You may think of these flowers as vegetables. Even if you don’t eat okra, consider growing the plant just for the blooms. The big yellow discs look like the pink flowers of the hibiscus or sorrel plants.

img_2741The dried calyes of the hibiscus flower will be ruby-red tea this winter. The plant has beautiful garden-worthy flowers even though the goal is to produce tea. The pink flowers will bloom until frost.

One-inch lavender flowers of eggplants are blooming nonstop in this cooler season.  A light frost will kill the plants before the eggplant fruits are mature. I’m growing the eggplants for the flowers, not the vegetables.

Today I picked half a dozen Anaheim and Pablano peppers plus a pint basket of okra. All of these plants, the peppers, okra and the eggplants are blooming and thriving.

As you order seed for next spring, consider mixing some traditional vegetable crops into the flower beds. The prettiest flowers in the fall garden are vegetable plants.

Eggplant flowers are nonstop bloomers until frost.

Eggplant flowers are nonstop bloomers until frost.

It’s November, zone 6 in Missouri. Vegetable gardening could have been over two months ago. But, container grown vegetables have become the season extending flowers of the season.

 

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Julia’s Ratatouille

The Ratatouille harvest basket.

Ratatouille makings. Tomato, eggplant, peppers, squash.

An old fashioned vegetable dish, ratatouille is a combination of all the things I grow in my garden. Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer.

Once you master a great dish like ratatouille, you become confident enough to try variations.

I can hear Julia Child talking about this dish. The full name of the stewed vegetable dish is Ratatouille Niçoise. Her recipe is the classic, start there and then adapt it to your taste.

It’s time to make ratatouille when there is an abundance of eggplant in the garden. Usually the last main crop vegetable to produce in my vegetable patch, eggplant is the star of my version. If your don’t like eggplant then leave it out of the recipe. 

This dish very quickly uses up the seasonal glut of produce that happens in August. By now, I have all the zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant that I can eat. I grow every vegetable that goes into this simple French peasant dish.

This dish is a celebration of my garden bounty. It’s a thanksgiving meal at the peak of the growing season.

Cabin fever cure

Make a double batch because this stew reheats well for the next day or hoard it for your lunches. Make this dish and freeze it. This winter, when the snow is falling,  a reheated ratatouille meal will taste like a garden party in your mouth.

Reading seed catalogs while eating a steamy bowl of home-grown and homemade ratatouille is a ritual guaranteed to cure cabin fever. That vegetable casserole inspires my wintertime seed order.

Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer, A true example of your garden prowess.This versital vegetable casserole can be a featured entre, a side dish, lunch for many cold winter days.

I freeze it in portions for one or two.Serve it over noodles or rice for a heartier meal. Add a slice of crusty bread. Make plans to go to Paris some day.

Here is my version:

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  IMG_2132

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Grow your own leeks, garlic and onions

A Little Leek Love

Known best in French cooking, leeks are often overlooked in our home gardens. Leek Potato Soup, or vichyssoise, is a cold soup that every French chef has mastered. I use leeks in potato leek soup, three onion pie, and vegetable soup.

Leeks are expensive at the grocery store but you can grow them for pennies. They take up little space, have very few pest or disease problems and can be grown in containers.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Grow leeks from seed or starts. It will probably be your first late-winter or early spring crop. Onions, leeks, garlic can take a late snow or freeze.

Tender young leeks can be used as scallions or green onions.

Plant starts deep er than onions. The deeper, the better able to retain moisture. Select well worked soil with plenty of organic matter.

As leeks grow, continue to mound soil over the stems to blanch them, creating more of the white, tender part of leek. Consistent moisture will encourage tender leeks. Thin leeks to grow six inches apart.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Grow vegetables – Make Soup

Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?

Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.

Potato Leek Soup

Jazz up your favorite potato  or cauliflower soup recipe by adding leeks.

Potato soup is a winter time favorite of mine. The leeks in the garden will continue to grow and I will pull them as I need them for Potato Leek soup. Simply add leeks or replace the onions in your favorite potato soup recipe.

I make this big batch because this soup is even better the next day. You can make half this recipe, but I bet you will wish you made more.

Basic Potato Soup

Makes about 8 servings (about 2 quarts).

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • water to cover
  • 6 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped OR, chop 2 or 3 leeks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • nutmeg to garnish

Directions:

In a large sauce pot, cover chopped potatoes and carrots with water. Cook in water until fork tender.

Drain and set aside carrots and potatoes, reserving cooking water.

In a Dutch oven, while potatoes are cooking, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Sprinkle in flour.

Slowly add milk. Bring to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper. Gradually add cooking water until the soup in the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings. For smoother soup, use a potato masher or stick blender. This will thicken the soup and create a smoother texture. Add additional cooking water or milk to taste.

Grate a little nutmeg to garnish soup.

potato leek soup with sausage

Potato and Leek soup with kielbasa.

Go Gourmet:

Top your soup as you would a loaded baked potato, crispy bacon, grated cheddar cheese, green onions, a dollop of sour cream or a pat of butter.

Bake: Use baked potatoes instead of boiling potatoes.

Veggies: Add a cup of frozen or fresh vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking to thoroughly heat through all ingredients. Try green peas, chopped kale, corn

Meat: Plan on adding a half a strip of crumbled bacon on top of soup. Use crumbled chorizo or Italian sausage

Herbs: Stir in chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives or thyme.

Enrich: texture and flavor with 4 ounces of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter. Add a little at a time.

Leeks, chopped

Chop tender young leeks to freeze for soups and casseroles.

If you do not like onions, try leeks. They are  milder and easier to digest. These mild alliums are beneficial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Research points to leek’s  potential to fight cancer.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Wrapping up the summer garden.

Celery, baby leeks, carrots, red onion, white potatoes, mild little red peppers.

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You never know what you will get with carrots. This curvy carrot grew right next to the straight 10″ carrot in the basket.

As I clean up the vegetable beds, I discovered a few veggies that were overlooked during the earlier harvest. I found a few potatoes, a couple of carrots, a red onion and two tiny sweet peppers. While this may sound like the beginning of a stone soup story, it’s just end-of-summer garden clean up.

I planted a few celery plants but forgot about them hiding behind the hearty and fern like asparagus. Celery would have done much better if it had received fertilizer and mulch. You can see the many skinny little stalks.

That curvy carrot was a surprise, all the other carrots were long and straight. But they all taste the same.

What to do with leeks

Use the tender reen and white parts.

Use the tender green and white parts.

I gathered a few leeks while young and tender to clean, chop and freeze. These little leeks will go into soups, and a 3 onion pie. There are more leeks still in the garden. They will stay in the garden until I want to use them for soup or stuffing.

 

Leeks, chopped

Leeks can be frozen and later added directly to soups or casseroles.

You can continue to harvest leeks from the garden up until the soil freezes. Those few leeks will overwinter. Their giant globe shaped flowers will be amazing next summer. They attract pollinators and are a novel addition to a wildflower bouquet.

 

A little later into fall, I’ll plant garlic. I have a few tiny broccoli plants in the raised beds and pots. A window box of green beans are just coming up. So the pending rain is much-needed and I am grateful.

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