Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day, everyone! It was one year ago that I started doing my “Bouquet of the Month” posts, and even though I said I wasn’t going to do them anymore (that’s what I said on the first of last month anyway), because I’m posting today – and it’s MAY DAY – I’m sharing the tulips growing in my front garden. They just bloomed this week, which is just a little bit late because of the cool spring we’ve had here in Minnesota.

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Aren’t they bright and cheery?!!! They’re right out our front door! It’s so fun to go in and out of the house and be able to see these.

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We’re supposed to have some rain showers this morning, so they weren’t open, but they’re still beautiful.

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You can BARELY see the tiniest edging of red along the edge of the tulip petals on this shot.

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Funny story about these yellow and red/orange tulips – years ago the company my husband worked for had these in their front garden in the spring. After they bloomed and their landscape company ripped them out to put in the summer plants, they were all going to be put into the trash. All of them! In the trash! What a waste!! My husband asked them if he could take some, they said “go for it” and he took them all!!! I had them lining the south side of our garage for years, and even though they were beautiful and full there, we never saw them from our house. I moved them to the front of our house so we can see them when we drive up or are in our office (which is on ground level facing the front garden). Over the years they’ve thinned quite a bit, but it’s still fun to have a few of them. They’re a gorgeous color!

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Fall is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs, and this fall I think I need to add to the tulips with some daffodils and hyacinth. Did you know that there are tulips that bloom at different times of the spring. If you work it right, you can have tulips blooming for several months!

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It really does seem like spring is here now. This is the sign! I hope you’ve enjoyed these tulips as much as I have. They sure are a day brightener!!!

 

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Bouquet of the Month for April

It’s time for the Bouquet of the Month for April, and when looking back at past posts, I realized that I have been doing the Bouquet of the Month now for a whole year. Wow – it really flew by! I really can’t believe it. I’ve decided not to do a Bouquet of the Month anymore, but I will still be sharing the flowers in my garden and around my yard from time to time, as they bloom and come into season. This bouquet is so bright and springy and full of sunshine – it’s just perfect for Easter time.

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This is two flower bunches, a bunch of lilies and a bunch of mixed flowers, that I bought at my grocery store, and they totaled $13.00. It’s so worth it to bring that little bit of spring and sunshine into the house.

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You can see all three of the flowers here: Lily, mum, and alstroemeria. These aren’t particularly fragrant flowers, but just the smell of something green and growing is so helpful this time of year. A leaf fell off and I just couldn’t stop smelling it! It just smelled so GREEN! I walked around the house with it stuck under my nose like a green mustache. It just smelled so good!

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I love the lavender color of the mum. The lavender, pink, and yellow give this bouquet the color of Easter eggs! Perfect!

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The yellow lilies really brighten up the bouquet. They’re what bring in that little splash of sunshine.

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There is one stem of pink lilies in there, too! Beautiful! I really love flowers, but especially this time of year. I’d have fresh flowers in every room of the house, if I could. Soon, very soon, although not soon enough, we’ll be able to be outside, working in the garden and preparing for our oh so short growing season here I Minnesota. Spring can’t come soon enough for me!

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for March

I can’t believe it’s already time for the Bouquet of the Month for March. It’s mind-blowing. We do have the daylight getting longer (we spring ahead on March 8!) and the slant of the light changes a bit in March so that at least it FEELS like spring is coming. It just seems to take so long to get here! March does sometimes feel like we’ve broken the back of winter, so I say it’s time for a little springtime. The flowers I picked for this month are definitely springy. They bring a breath of spring to the house, and it is lovely.

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I am so ready for spring, and since we still have a few weeks to go, these flowers are just the ticket.

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I’m not exactly sure what all of these flowers are, but they’re beautiful.

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This Asiatic lily has an unbelievable fragrance.

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These pale green flowers look like they might be a type of hydrangea. So lacy and fancy.

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I think this pink flower is a type of zinnia. The stem on this one is a bit wonky.

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The purple asters are so cheery with their green middles.

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I wish I would have gotten myself this little bit of spring sooner!

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Getting these flowers was just what I needed. A breath of spring with an amazingly fresh fragrance to boot. I would suggest you all get yourself a little breath of spring and break the back of winter!

 

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Bouquet of the Month for February

The Bouquet of the Month for February HAS to be something Valentine-y. The problem is, the store where I usually get my flowers is NOT ready for this holiday yet. Actually, the flowers there have been horrible since Christmas. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the store’s fault, I don’t know. I am NOT happy. I got what I could and I’ll just have to make do with what I did get. At least I could go with the red and white theme – white mini carnations and red tulips. Tulips just happen to be my favorite flower. I’d take those over roses any day!

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This is a great time of year to indulge and buy yourself some fresh flowers. It’s amazing how fresh they smell and how they brighten up these cold and very icy days of winter.

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I tried to jazz up these flowers by adding some chenille stems wrapped around the end of a pen to make a spiral. It does add a little sparkle.

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The flowers still needed a “little something” so I took a piece of green wire, twisted it into a bit of a paper clip type situation, and put one of Grandma’s old valentines into it. This is a great idea if you’re giving flowers as a gift and you want to add a card, a photo, or a gift card.

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It’s appropriate that these are flowers for Valentine’s Day and the vase I used to put them in is one that I still have from our wedding.

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I love the little drop of water left on this tulip!

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Go out and get yourself some fresh flowers. It really does help brighten up the doldrums of winter!

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for January

With all of the holiday hubbub, I am late getting my post out for the Bouquet of the Month for January! For the bouquet this month, I want to share my Christmas Cactus. Grandma gave me this plant and told me that it was from a plant that was originally from her mother. At least that’s what I remember her saying. I hope it’s true. Her plant was HUGE and she loved to keep it in a south facing window, both at the farm and when they moved to town. I’m not the best indoor plant person (I think I’m a bit better at the outdoor gardens) but I have managed to keep this one going for about 15 years.

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I know it doesn’t look like much right now. The thing about the cactus this year is that it started blooming the week before Thanksgiving and is still blooming now. It bloomed a section at a time. Several blooms came out and were pretty for a week or so and then they were done and the next section would bloom. It has never bloomed like this before, so it’s interesting that it’s still going! Usually this plant would bloom all at once and then be done. It’s in a southeast (I wish it was south) facing window during the winter and it does ok there. Some years it has even been a valentine cactus and one year it bloomed around Easter time.

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It’s not as big and beautiful as her plant was, but at least I haven’t killed it!

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You can see that it does look like an old plant. The stems look pretty callused. It’s probably time to re-pot.

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Surprisingly, I didn’t even see that there is still one more bud until I had these photos up on the computer. There it is – at least one more flower to come!

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These blooms don’t stay long. The day before I took these photos, these were all in full bloom and now there’s only one left. I’m grateful for that. It’s been fun to see the sections blooming one at a time. I hope it continues into January when the splash of color would be much appreciated!

 

 

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for December

The Bouquet of the Month for December is going to, again, be a little bit different. I’m decorating a pot for outside the kitchen door that looks out on our deck. Why not look out at a pretty arrangement sprinkled with snow!

My birthday is December 1 and it’s been tradition my whole life that we get our Christmas tree on my birthday. The nursery where we got our tree every year growing up, had a HUGE stone fireplace and it always smelled so good with the wood smoke drifting out of that big stone chimney! It had strings of big glowing Christmas lights beckoning in the throngs of tree buyers. They sold citrus baskets, nut baskets, and those glorious and wonderfully scented pine Christmas trees. Oh my gosh, how I loved the smell of that place and looked forward to going there every Christmas. It was a true Christmas Experience. One year, when I was 9 years old, we had a big snowfall in time to ride our snowmobiles the 12 mile round trip to get our Christmas tree. We had a big trailer type sled that we kids rode in and had another sled to drag our tree home. It was so much fun riding home through the dark with the snowflakes falling all around us – what a great family memory!

We usually have extra branches cut off from the bottom of our Christmas tree, and I use them in my pot decorating. I sometimes have extra branches we get free from where we purchase our tree, too, if we ask nicely! It helps to get branches of various textures and colors. Another way to keep it cheaper is to use branches from your own yard. I do this every year and if you use greenery and natural things, it will last until spring. You can buy these ready made and spend upwards of a hundred dollars, or you can do it the economical way and make them yourself, like I do.

I like to have a spark of color, usually red, in the pots. I’ve tried everything from real berries (which get mushy and turn brown if we get really cold weather and then it turns warm) to fake berries (the red plastic coating cracked and fell off when it got too cold) to buying branches with plastic glitter on them (way too expensive and didn’t last). This year I’m trying some plastic ornaments put onto branches stuck into the pots, so we’ll see what happens. I’m hoping the plastic won’t crack on these. It will be a success if they last just through the month of December. You could put lights on the branches, add a bow, or anything else you want. Be creative!

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I just use the pots that I have flowers in during the summer and the ornaments are stuck on branches cut from the trees in our yard after trimming this fall.

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You can see that one of the branches here is a piece from a flocked tree.

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I also used boxwood in this pot. The total cost to do 4 pots (which is what I’ll end up with for around my house) is $8 for the boxwood and $5 for the box of 15 red ornaments. I used branches cut from the bottom of our tree, extra roping cut from garland going around our garage door, and extra branches from the store where we bought our tree, so they were free. $13 for 4 pots is pretty economical decorating!

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We’ve already had some snow, and soon the pot will be draped in a blanket of white. It’s nice to have this beautiful arrangement outside the door where we can see it!

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for November

Wow – what to do for the Bouquet of the Month for November? Because it’s November already, and it’s time to start panicking about the fact that next month is December, I decided to make this one an easy no-brainer. I’m using a potted mum that I bought at my local grocery store for $5.99. This should last all month and I’ll be able to use it as part of my Thanksgiving decorating, too.

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I chose to use this fall-ish container that I’ve had for years.

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I removed the decorative paper from the outside of the pot, even though sometimes the paper is pretty, too.

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I put sand in the bottom of the container to hold the pot up, but I might not have needed it as the shape of the container curves downward and the pot might have stayed near the top without it.

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Then I just set the pot in the container. Done! Now seriously – that couldn’t have been easier or cheaper.

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You can see why I’m not using flowers from my own garden now. November in Minnesota is a little drab. All of our beautiful leaves have fallen off our trees and the gardens are put to sleep for the winter. We ended up with 27 bags (we’re not done yet) of lawn waste, which our city picked up to use for compost.

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I’ll be able to use this for Thanksgiving decorating. Pumpkins and turkeys will look great with the mums.

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I love the fall look of these mums. They’re just stunning.

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I made sure to find a plant with a few buds so it will keep blooming all month.

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So there it is. Easy, cheap, and beautiful. Go out and get yourself a beautiful plant to use with your Thanksgiving decorating.

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Bouquet of the Month for October

It’s that time again, time for the Bouquet of the Month for October. Things are definitely slowing down in my gardens now, with only a few kinds of flowers left: Purple Dragon Flowers, a few small Zinnias, and some Sedum. I had to purchase the flowers for this bouquet. I’m putting them in my favorite vase for this time of year – a pumpkin!!! The first time I saw this done was for my confirmation in October of 1976. My mom bought flowers for the table and it was a bouquet in a pumpkin.

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You can see it here on the left of this photo. It looks like I was ready to put my face into the cake! Something must have been hilariously funny, but then again, that’s just the way I was back then! EVERYTHING was hilariously funny! My family has been using this great pumpkin vase trick ever since and we use it a lot.

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The flowers I bought for this bouquet were varied and unusual.

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This pumpkin was called a pie pumpkin. I think they just call it that when they’re small – I think you can technically make a pie with any pumpkin. It will only last a few days without molding, but maybe if you keep it cool and/or use a bleach solution, you can keep it a week or so. You can find some ways to try to keep it fresh longer here.

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There were sunflowers, mini carnations, eucalyptus, wheat, cattail, and this weird little green flower with the orange fuzzy part sticking out. I have no idea what it is, but it’s cute!

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This bouquet even came with these pretty, tiny red peppers. The only other flowers I bought to supplement the original bouquet were the mini carnations. Everything else came in one bunch. Including the pumpkin, I still spent under $20. I did have enough mini carnations left for an extra bouquet, even after packing the pumpkin full. There was enough to divide it up into smaller bouquets, but this time I wanted a full pumpkin.

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I had to put the pumpkin out in Grandpa’s old wheel barrow for a few shots.

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I love fall and the colors of this bouquet are a big reason why. Take advantage of the colors and make your own beautiful October bouquet.

UPDATE: I meant to explain how I get the flowers to stay so nice in the pumpkin. I first find a container that will fit into the pumpkin. Then I trace around it, cut out the hole, and clean out the pumpkin. I put some foam oasis into the container and fill it with water. Next, I put the container into the hole in the pumpkin and start the flower arranging. The flower stems are stuck into the oasis in the configuration I like, covering all the oasis and edges of the container. Make sure to keep the container full of water so the bouquet will stay beautiful as long as possible!

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for September

I can’t believe it. Really? September already? No way. Why does time seem to fly by so quickly these days? That never seemed to happen when I was a kid and summer vacation seemed to stretch out endlessly before me. I was even ready for summer to be over when I was a kid. I looked forward to fall and starting school again. I had ( and still do have) a thing about school (office) supplies. I still love the back-to-school sales on those items, as you can tell by the parts of my office stuffed to the gills with notebooks, folders, markers, and glue sticks. You never know when you’ll need them for a project! But I guess we have to face it. Summer is about over. Already. Yuk. Oh well. It’s time for the Bouquet of the Month for September. Things change fast in the garden this time of year. Some plants are on the way out and some are just starting to bloom and they’ll all be done in a month or two.

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We have had such lovely weather – it’s been a beautiful summer! We just had that little rain thing early on.

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The vase I used today is the old standby canning jar.

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My Black-Eyed Susan is still blooming as well as the hydrangea.

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You can see a bit of the spiky Hosta flower and also some of the Hosta leaves.

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I stuck in a Sedum Autumn Joy bloom, even though it won’t turn it’s burgundy color for a couple of weeks yet.

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I planted some Zinnias on the south side of our garage and it turned out that they are a very small variety. I was hoping they’d be bigger! Make sure to read the seed packages so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting!

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I will have a couple of other kinds of flowers blooming yet in September, but only a couple. Now is the time to change outdoor pots from summer annuals to Mums and all those pretty fall colored annuals. Have fun and make the change!

 

 

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Bouquet of the Month for August

I can’t believe it’s time for another Bouquet of the Month! It can’t possibly be August already! The summer is just flying by! We had such a cool spring and such a wet beginning of the summer here that it feels like we missed some of our summer. Oh well, we’re used to that here in Minnesota. Like they say, “don’t like the weather – wait 30 minutes”. The flowers I’m using for this months bouquet are Hydrangea. I did pick some of the other flowers, too, later in my photo shoot, but they’re almost done blooming. This has been a banner year for the Hydrangea, so they must like all the rain we’ve had. A couple of years ago, we tried to dig some of them up and get rid of them because they were spreading outside of our red brick edging. The next year they just came back even bigger and this year they wrap all the way around the northwest corner of the house!

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This is a bush that came from our house at the lake where I grew up, but my mom thinks they may have originally come from Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. I don’t know what kind of hydrangea it is, but it must be an old variety. The bush is about four feet tall and the heads are fairly small and have small petals. It doesn’t have the huge head and large, papery petals that some of the newer varieties have.

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I love the color that starts out a pretty light green and ends up white.

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There is a little bit of a fragrance, but not much.

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Here’s where I added the odds and ends of what’s left in the garden right now.

There is one pink Hollyhock and some purple flowers from my Hostas.

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I still have just a few Day Lilies left.

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My Black-eyed Susan is just starting to bloom.

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These pretty little white flowers are an annual in the pots in front of our garage and I just love them, but I have no idea what they are.

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I hope you’re all enjoying your gardens, too. You can still plant more before the end of the season. Perennials are discounted between now and the fall. If you know someone who needs to divide their perennials, maybe they’ll share. I have a lot of things in my garden that have come from friends and family. Don’t forget to plant spring bulbs. There’s nothing better than those cheery Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths that bring color in the spring. Plant plenty now and next year you’ll have bouquets of pretty flowers to enjoy!

 

 

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