Category Archives: My Homeplace

Betty Jo, about Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day. My mom made my life easy even though hers was very hard. We had plenty of food, new school clothes every year, money for lunch and field trips.

That was in the sexist sixties, when she did the same job as the man beside her and got paid less because boss man said, “because you’re a woman. And he’s got 3 kids to feed.” “I’ve got 3 kids to feed”, said Mom. Well then, little lady, you better get yourself a husband, the boss man said.

That discriminating boss will forever affect her retirement and social security income. I did not know we were poor until I took a sociology class in college. It was later that I learned Mom really had to count pennies to buy bread and milk.

As a youngster she suffered though some of the great depression and dust bowl, hard times indeed. But it was just normal times for folks in rural Arkansas She hauled water for washing and bathing. There was no plumbing, not much electricity and the phone service was no picnic even though it was  a party line.

When she got to School of the Ozarks, she became an athlete. Her Betty Grable legs turned her into a superstar on the basket ball court. She should be in the Hall of Fame.

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You rescued me from trees and broken down cars. We both lived though puberty, (that’s another war story.) You built my confidence, gave me courage, strength and tossed me back into college again.

You got all three of us kids off to college and married before you to any time for yourself. I’m still looking for that application for sainthood or miracle worker because it’s yours if you want it.

Betty Jo Ward. single–handedly raised and potty trained three kids. Eventually she taught them to fly the nest, get a degree, a marriage certificate and live happily ever after. Then she did the same thing for herself. (The college and degree part, anyway.)

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You are the best. No, really. You are. Here is a picture of mom and her two sisters, They are all good moms, Mine is the GREAT MOM, Betty, (R) as you can tell. The other two are darned fine Aunts Janet McCreary(L) and Shirley Wilkie (Middle).

Don’t mess with the Johnson Ninja Sistas. They look innocent enough, don’t they?

  • I feel like it was destiny.
  • What with their great MOM, Arvilla Johnson being my grandmother.
  • AND Then, my great MOM, Betty Jo.
  • Plus+, being surrounded by great women family members like Aunt Janet and Aunt Shirley.
  • I just naturally turned out at the peak of perfection. And, that is why I don’t have any kids.
  • Also my mom put a curse on me.

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Learning to Cook Vegan Meals

I’m a gardener and love my herb garden. My cooking tends to have several meatless meals every week. In summer, vegan meals are practical and they celebrate my home-grown vegetables.

Quinoa-Stuffed Pepper with cannellini salad, pistachios.

After a life time of meat centered meals, sometimes, I simply don’t know what to use instead of ham or bacon as seasoning in vegetables. Thanks to the chef created recipes at Green Chef, I’m learning how to make crunchy stuffed bell peppers and savory stuffed squash without loads of meat or cheese filling.

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed zucchini with sautéed chard & roasted chickpeas, couscous salad.

“A nourishing veggie-centric dish perfect for spring nights. Sautéed zucchini, garlic, and shallot are mixed with a basil cashew cream, then piled into zucchini halves. Sprinkled with pine nuts and breadcrumbs, the stuffed zucchini are roasted to a tender finish. Israeli couscous studded with peas and carrots, plus cooked chard and chickpeas…” – Green Chef

The instructions for beautiful and tasty Stuffed Zucchini is on the Green Chef website. With all the chard and squash about to burst into production, this recipe is a gardeners treat.

In summer, recipes like vegan fajitas, tacos and wraps are going to show off my booming vegetable garden. They are also lighter and faster meals on hot summer days.

Super grain Collard Wraps with sunflower seeds & pepitas, mint, roasted potatoes.

I like the delivered meals and, I’m learning to make good vegan meals that my meat-and-potatoes loving husband will eat. Once I make something like Green Chef wraps or stuffed peppers, I’m confident enough to try my hand using the vegetables I grow.

One of my favorite things about these filling meals, is that they include seasonal recipes with fresh ingredients and herbs. Being a herb gardener, that’s a big plus. The recipes in these photos are on the Green Chef website.

Or try some of these meals for yourself. If you use this link, I get a credit and you get 4 free meals.

I’ve bought vegan cookbooks and pinned a ton of vegan recipes on Pinterest. But, I’ve been using butter and bacon all my life. And learning to prepare a really good meal without those familiar ingredients isn’t always easy.

After working so long and hard to produce great herbs and vegetables, it makes sense to prepare and serve them at their best.

Herb Pasta Primavera with asparagus, artichoke hearts, snap peas, tomatoes.

 One of my favorite meals was Herb Pasta Primavera. After learning to make this vegan recipe, it’s easy to take the recipe and use it as a basis for my garden grown creations.

This is not to say I am a vegetarian. But I’m eating less meat and dairy and my  cholesterol and blood pressure are lower. I’m proud that I’ve lost a little weight and I feel better.

We spend part of the grocery money at the farmers market every week. We don’t grow all our food, but I like to garden and have the time and energy to grow some of our fruits, vegetables and herbs.

My goal is to grow all the tomatoes we will eat this year. So for me, it’s the year of the tomato. Vegan style.

All the photos are from Green Chef.

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The Daffodils of National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.

The daffodils are at their best.

What a great combination.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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Pruning Time: Red Heart Rose Of Sharon

Big soft pink snow-ball buds bloom into giant white discs.

The last to come back, you may think it failed to survive the winter. But wait. Be patient. It will blooming in its own good time.

Before the branches begin to green up, prune them heavily, February is the ideal time.

 (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’)

Summer long saucer-sized blooms

Red Heart Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’, is an upright-growing shrub with large, single, saucer-shaped flowers of pure white with a scarlet center.

  • Mature size: 6-10′ wide, 8-12′ tall.
  • Flowers bloom from July until frost.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Few serious insect or disease problems.
  • Medium to Dark Green foliage
  • called both Rose of Sharons or Altheas.
  • Widely adaptable to many soil conditions.

 

Red Heart Hibiscus can also be used as a hedge or screen. Hummingbirds love the flowers.

Those tight green buds produce hundreds of seeds. Seedlings randomly appear near the 8′ tall shrub in my from yard. In the fall, I collected a lot of the seed pods.

Care: Prune back heavily in the early spring.  Annual pruning creates increased shoot vigor and larger flowers.

 

Insect damage when the bud was rolled tight, created a natural pattern.

Even growing on the same plant, bloom oddities are a regular occurrence.

The Bible calls You by many names
each one giving a glimpse of Your glory.
Like a cut diamond radiating in the sun
with every facet depicting a glorious
aspect of Your Divine Nature.
Today I have thought of You as
‘The Rose of Sharon’

 

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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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Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Plant something new.

Wishbone Flower

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Torenia or Wishbone Flower, Catalina® Pink

Wishbone Flower as container plant

I grew the Midnight Blue variety. It looks so fragile, but it can really take the heat. This is a self-cleaning plant, which means no deadheading.

In the shady bed on the patio, it had room to spread out and filled in the space with continuous blooms and bright green leaves. I grew another color the next year.

The Catalina® Pink is a nonstop bloomer that gets afternoon shade on the front porch. It does best when consistently moist and well-drained. Hummers love it.

It’s growing with more sun, shaded only in the late afternoon. Growing bushy and full, Torenia is about 12″ tall and fills the 12″ self-watering container. Generously mulch this plant to help with consistent moisture.

Adaptable annuals

I like the wide range of ways I can use Torenias. In a hanging basket, Summer Wave® Large Blue Wishbone Flower seems to be a hummingbird favorite.

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Wishbone Flower fills the hanging basket with Summer Wave® Large Blue blooms.

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Wishbone flowers are more upright where there is more sun and less water.

Wishbone flowers have had no disease or insect problems in my gardens. They can take heat and more sun than I thought. Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

This plant is so much more versatile than I imagined. It was planted in shade, and in part shade – part sun. The low growing annual spreads out along the sidewalk, as a beautiful ground cover and splash of color that could compliment an endless variety of gardenscapes.

I like shopping at Independent Garden Centers. Money spent locally tends to stay local. The folks that work at the non-chain garden centers and nurseries know what they are talking about. Big box stores also have wishbone flowers.

This was a trial plant from Proven Winners. The Proven Winners website has a handy garden center locator. Just type in your zip code and it will find the closest local garden centers.

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Pollinators and hummers love this plant.

Get Local will help you find the information you need. I especially like their plant recipes. For example, I’m looking for red, white and blue plant combos. Just click on “patriotic” for lots of beautiful plant combinations.

Blooming summer til frost

I learned what a valuable landscape plant this is when I visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

A leader of environmentally sound community development, the Arboretum is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. It offers homeowners, landscapers and arborists an opportunity to view and evaluate a wide variety of hybrid trees and shrubs, native to this area.
8909 W. 179 St.
Overland Park, KS 66013
913-685-3604

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

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“Living Large in Our Little House”

Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote--Plus More Stories of How You Can TooLiving Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote–Plus More Stories of How You Can Too by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is a conversation with an expert about the practicalities and realities of small house living. Sure, it’s packed with information about local laws and regulations, legal considerations, and important contacts.

“Living Large in Our Little House” quickly dispatches the trivial. The legal or official definition of “tiny house” is not as important as how many square feet works for you. Kerri moves on to what you can afford, how much space you require to live comfortably and can you, your spouse, the kids and pets all actually live in a tiny house?

The size and location of your little house will be critical to making a dream come true for you. Kerri illustrates the realities of small space dwelling with several examples of folks who chose the same path. Learn from the people who build, design or live in tiny houses.

Living Large Tips studded throughout the book are lists of things to consider before you make the move to the tiny house life. These tips are good ideas to launch you into your own lists of what to keep and what to let go, what you will need versus what you want.

The book includes smart advice about ways to “test drive” the small house life before you make the investment. Do the research, locate the resources, have a plan. Be clear about your reasons for tiny house living.

This book will affirm your choice to live large in a tiny house or confirm that little house living is not for you. Read about real people living large in little houses. There are some very important questions you need to consider before buying or building a tiny house.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell’s “Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband and One Remote..and More Stories of How You Can, Too.” book is essential reading if a tiny house may be in your future.

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