Spring is for flowers

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Don’t overdo it in the garden this weekend. Or next weekend, the traditional start of summer.
Those words or warning come from every garden blog I’ve ever read. That and make sure you stretch first.

Okay, so stretch, figure out what needs done, then ask friends and neighbors if they know of any kids who want to make a few extra bucks. Churches usually have youth eager to raise funds for a summer camp or special project. Contribute to the community, the next generation’s emotional/work ethic growth, and save yourself at least a bottle of pain relievers and maybe even a trip or four to the chiropractor. Delegate.

If you don’t have a garden or a yard, or even a window box, enjoy these flowers. I’ve always been passionate about them. I spent many of my early years in apartments without a patch of dirt to plant in. I’m very much enjoying my big yard, raised beds, hanging baskets, and yes, calling on church groups and teenagers to keep them maintained.
When the day is done, kick back with your Kindle and read a great romance novel or five. Here’s my suggestion: Rebels, Rogues, and Romantics. Historical romance tales about those rascals, the ‘wrong’ kind of man a woman have been finding irresistible for centuries. Scots, cowboys, musketeers, and an Indian brave or two. They’re all so hot!

(Only #99cents for five or #free to read on Kindle Unlimited)

Whether you actually get in the garden this weekend or not, enjoy your time. No one can please you without your permission. Give it to yourself.

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Grandmother on Mother’s Day

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While browsing through my old blog posts I came across the following one that brought tears to my eyes. It was published on my own blog in May 2008:

Today I celebrated Mother’s Day as a daughter, mother and grandmother. My son-in-lay invited four generations of women to lunch: my mother and me, my daughter and her two little daughters, 4 and 2, and my son’s daughter, 3.

Lunch was lovely. We ignored the spilled glass of orange juice, the I-don’t-like-it whining and the crumbles forming a hidden mess under the table.

It took fifteen minutes to sit the ladies for the picture of the century. Moving my mother and her walker to a strategic place, and then having her hold on the rail of the restaurant’s entrance stairs wasn’t too difficult, but gathering three laughing, squealing and squirming little girls and having them stand still for two seconds was an enormous challenge. But the effort was worth the pain. The children are growing too fast and we don’t know how long we will be blessed with my mother’s presence.

Sometimes Mother’s Day is a difficult time. I know it is extremely difficult for my cousin who lost her mother a week ago. For her and her family, Mother’s Day consisted in a trip to the cemetery to deposit flowers on a new grave.

 Enjoy your mothers and enjoy your day as a mother.

My mother left us two years later.

To honor her I wrote a contemporary romance called MOTHER’S DAY BABIES, a novel full of emotion and humor. I dedicated the book to “the Mother we celebrate on Mother’s Day and those we remember with love.”

I had two great models for my middle-aged heroine, my mother and mother-in-law. Both spoke their minds and distributed good advice whether you were ready to listen or not.

My mother told us to always ‘look your best’. She professed that being nicely dressed, combed and jeweled helped her forget she was a very sick person and she practiced what she preached. The assisted living residents complimented her and tried to follow her example. The staff admired her positive attitude.

Most of my books include a grandmother among the characters. Depending on the setting of my stories, the children call her grandma, momom, abuelita, nonna, yaya, or baboushka, but the grandmothers in my various novels have a lot in common.

Like my mother and my mother-in-law, they adore their grandchildren, cook delicious meals, and often meddle in their children’s life —for the children’s good, of course. They are strong women who have encountered their shares of problems and learned life’s lessons from personal experience. They are also generous mothers who would go out of their ways for their families.

MOTHER’S DAY BABIES: http://tinyurl.com/cz3v5a8

This book is dedicated to the mothers we celebrate and those we remember with love.

MOTHER’S DAY BABIES

Widowed for seven years, Barbara Ramsay lives and breathes for her five grownup daughters and their babies. She’s also used to chatting over the phone with her good friend, Lou, and soothing his stress. But why has he invited her to come to Paris with his TV Network crew?

Powerful News Director, Lou Roland is certainly not marriage material, yet he has suddenly decided he wants Barbara in his arms. Not an easy task when his pretty confidante from Kentucky proves so difficult to date–unless he follows her rules. Can the over-fifty confirmed bachelor and the widow loyal to her husband’s memory find true love and share a future?

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Easy Cheesy Baked Rigatoni by Denise Devine

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easy-cheesy-baked-rigatoni1 box (16 oz) rigatoni
1 jar spaghetti sauce (any of the cheese-added variety)
½ ring of sausage (such as Hillshire, etc.)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 soup can of milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese (parmesan or mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook rigatoni in a large saucepan, drain and pour immediately into a lasagna pan.

Pour spaghetti sauce, soup, milk and sour cream into large saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, thinly slice sausage and add to mixture. When sauce is smooth and bubbly, pour over rigatoni noodles, top with shredded cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and pan is bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes then serve.

As always, any recipe can be modified to your tastes. Feel free to experiment!

Note:  This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but trust me, it’s not too much. Rigatoni absorbs a lot of moisture when baked and this casserole (or hot dish, as we call it in Minnesota) will come out of the oven very creamy, but that is what makes it so good. As it begins to cool, it will thicken.

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Flowers for Bees, Butterflies and Hummingbirds by Denise Devine

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IMG_1765

Some of the flowers in my garden

As you probably know, bee and butterfly populations are in serious decline. This is not good news! Did you know that in 1997 there were more than 1 billion Monarch butterflies, but now there are only about 57 million? The rapid decline is due to pesticides, loss of habitat and milkweed, which is the main diet of caterpillars.

Bees are dying in record numbers—putting our food supply seriously at risk—and it’s mostly due to toxic pesticides called “neonicotinoids.” These nasty chemicals are used in nursery plants and they’re systemic, which means that the poison goes up through the plant into the pollen and nectar and kills the bees. PLEASE, only buy plants that aren’t chemically treated!

Make your yard an area where bees and butterflies can survive. Plant wildflowers native to your state, plant milkweed and don’t use chemicals!

A Monarch resting on pink Swamp Milkweed

A Monarch resting on pink Swamp Milkweed

Some bee-friendly flowers…

Spring Blooms – Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula and wild lilac

Summer – bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta

Fall – zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod

Some butterfly-friendly flowers…

Aster, bee balm, cornflower, daylily, hollyhock, lavender, lilac, milkweed, phlox, purple coneflower, snapdragon, zinnia

Ten top flowers for hummingbirds…

Bee balm, cardinal flower, zinnia, salvia, bleeding hearts, butterfly bush, trumpet flower, lupine, columbine, petunia

8.31.15bThe picture to the left is a cardinal flower. The hummingbirds in my yard are all over this flower and it grows really tall. It’s very beautiful, too!

All of the pictures in this post are from my own backyard. If you’d like more information on how you can do your part to help save the bees and butterflies by creating a friendly habitat for them, here are a few very good resources:

American Meadows for wildflower seeds

The Xerxes Society for information on bees, butterflies and dragonflies

The Honeybee Conservancy for information on planting a bee-friendly garden

 

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More when I was a kid: phones

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I realized how much phones have changed when I found out my granddaughter didn’t know how to unplug a phone jack. She didn’t even know what one was! Phones have always been wireless for her.

When I was a kid back in the 60s, the telephone company had to come to your house to set up a phone. The man brought the phone for you and even put a little tab with your phone number right in the middle of the rotary dial. Phones now don’t even have a place for it!

Standard issue rotary dial telephone

Standard issue rotary dial telephone

Phones weren’t available for purchase, either. You had to rent them. Basic black was the standard. If you wanted something pretty (like this pretty pink princess phone) or a wall phone, you had to pay an extra charge every month.

Pretty in pink 'Princess' phone

Pretty in pink ‘Princess’ phone

When push button phones became available, there was an extra monthly charge for that, too. And for each additional phone in the house. And for having an unlisted phone number. And of course, for long distance phone calls.

Cordless phones didn’t come around until late 70s or early 80s. I can’t remember the exact year: I was too busy having babies. I do remember Shasta dumped our first cordless phone into the toilet. That would make it around 1983. Although the commode had clean water in it at the time, the phone never rang true again…

The range on the first generation of phones was short, just far enough to take a bathroom break in the middle of a long conversation. I certainly don’t miss being tethered to coiled phone cords that invariably tangled. Even a 20′ cord soon became a 3′ mass of snarls.

Oh, and if your phone rang and an operator was on the other end, it meant you had a long distance call. Those were outrageously expensive and often bad news. Finally direct dialing arrived. It helped lower rates which was one of the greatest improvements.

The other, until the internet came around, was the fax line.

It was the 70s when the company I worked for installed facsimile machines. How wonderful, even if the name was a mouthful. Now truck drivers could get oversize and weekend trip permits transmitted and printed out over phone lines. Other uses were soon found for the fax machines including sending pictures or important documents from one office to another…or jokes.

Push button dialing was a great improvement, too. No more dialing 9 to get an outside line, then waiting clickity-click-click for the dial to return to its starting point so you could dial the next number. It took forever to dial those seven digits plus nine. It was even worse for long distance calls with three more digits. And if the number you were calling was busy, there was no such thing as a redial button, option to leave a voice mail or even to butt into a conversation with call waiting.

Yes, life was so tough back then.

I, and about a kazillion others, celebrated the arrival of cell phones. The first ones were outrageously expensive to buy outright. And then there were the program options. It cost 45 cents a minute unless you bought a plan. Then it dropped to 35 cents. If you went over the number of minutes in your plan, you paid 45 cents a minute for overage minutes. No refund if you didn’t use all your talk time, either. Rollover minutes hadn’t been created yet.

Don’t get me started on texting! There were no alphabet keyboards on the early cell phones. Punch the number 2 to get to the letter C, wait for it to show up, then push 3 twice to get to E. You get the idea or not. I didn’t text until actual keyboards, hard key or virtual, came out. There was an extra price for each message sent or received, too. Some phone plans still have that, but those per text charges seem to be disappearing, too.

Phones will continue to be a part of our lives, I’m sure.

Naked in the Winter Wind

Naked in the Winter Wind

And to see how a solar-powered smartphone saved the day in 1781, read about Evie in Naked in the Winter Wind, first in the time travel series The Fairies Saga.

Nook NITWW

Amazon NITWW

www.danihaviland.com

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