Safe Rose Spray Recipe

My mother loved to garden. Her roses were lush, hearty, and fragrant, and their maroon and pink petals were as soft as velvet. Before I walked to elementary school, she’d cut stems, crinkle tin foil around the bottoms, and tell me to give the flowers to my teachers. I’d walk the whole way smelling sweetness.

Irises and strawberries were also abundant in my mother’s garden, while my father cultivated tomatoes and cucumbers. I’d pick wild raspberries and blackberries which grew on the hill behind my childhood home. Needless to say, roses are my favorite flowers.

Though I share my mom’s love of writing, I did not inherit her green thumb. If the garden in front of my house were my mother’s, the roses would bloom large and healthy. My roses are not. I prune them regularly, cutting off spent blossoms at an angle, and though they smell sweet, their petals are thin and their leaves are being eaten by garden pests. What to do?

I came across this organic pesticide in the article Safe Rose Spray Recipe That Really Works by Meghan Shinn in Horticulture.

Hon, do you have any tips for keeping roses healthy?

More than 5,000 rose bushes grow at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pa., where the gardening staff works hard to keep them free of pests and diseases. They use a chemical spray in the main garden, but they did not want to use this spray in the dedicated Children’s Garden. Instead, they came up with the following safe rose spray recipe, which they’ve found to be very effective.

Horticulture

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon dish soap
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (or any other cooking oil)

Directions:

Mix vinegar and water, then add baking soda, dish soap and vegetable oil. Stir mixture into one gallon water. Pour into spray bottle and spray on roses’ foliage. Reapply every seven to ten days or after a rainstorm.

Strawberry Galette

Strawberry Galette

I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile, but I’m still collecting them! Every time I see something interesting, I “Bookmark” it on my computer. So many recipes to try!

I discovered this recipe for Strawberry Galette by Naz Deravian in the Cooking section of The New York Times. Though not complicated, this recipe takes time. I read comments and found out some steps can be skipped. I needed to make this dairy-free and nut-free, so I used non-dairy whipping cream, margarine, and rice flour. Hubby whipped up whipping cream and, hon, the dessert was delicious!

A strawberry galette served with a side of fresh whipped cream or ice cream is a spring salve that is just as soothing to prepare for oneself as it is to share with others. Inspired by the baker Alice Medrich’s yogurt-butter pie dough, the dough in this recipe includes almond flour for a flaky, subtly nutty crust that comes together without much fuss. This dough is very forgiving and works well with the rustic charm of a galette. It’s OK if the edges of the crust crack and some juices leak. Even out-of-season strawberries would work, as there’s just enough sugar here to coax them back to life. Make sure you give the galette enough time to rest before slicing into it, so that the juices have time to set.

The New York Times Cooking Section

Strawberry Galette

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST: 

  • 1 cup/120 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup/50 grams almond flour (from blanched, skinless almonds, not almond meal) I substituted rice flour.
  • 8 tablespoons/113 grams very cold unsalted butter I substituted margarine.
  • ¼ cup/60 grams cold plain whole yogurt (not Greek) I substituted nondairy whipping cream.
  • 1 tablespoon ice-cold water, plus up to 3 tablespoons more, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon yogurt or water (for the egg wash)

FOR THE FILLING:

  • ½ to ¾ cup/100 grams to 150 grams granulated sugar I used the smaller amount of sugar.
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ pounds stemmed strawberries (about 5 cups), sliced
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  •  Small pinch of salt

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk the all-purpose flour and the almond flour in a large bowl, then set aside. (It’s best to stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes until ready to use, to ensure a well-chilled dough.)
  2. Slice 3 tablespoons of the butter as thinly as possible without getting obsessive about it. (It’s OK if pieces break.) Cut the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Keeping the sliced butter and cubed butter separate, set the butter in the fridge to chill until ready to use. 
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the 1/4 cup yogurt with 1 tablespoon of the water and keep cold in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Whisk the flour mixture with the 1 teaspoon sugar and the salt. Spread the cubed butter pieces over the flour and cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or your fingers until the chunks look slightly smaller than pea size. Toss the butter slices with the flour mixture, separating them as you go, then gently press them into the flour between your fingers into flat sheets. (This extra step is helpful in creating pockets of steam, which will make for a flakier crust, an added bonus for pie dough makers of any skill!) I used a food processor to make the dough. I skipped this step and in a food processor, I added the flour to the container, dropped sliced butter through the tube and pulsed.
  5. Drizzle the chilled yogurt over the flour and butter mixture. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to toss and combine. If the dough seems dry, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the ice water, and continue tossing and combining, incorporating any dry flour bits at the bottom of the bowl and scraping off the spatula as you go, until the mixture just comes together in a mound. If needed, drizzle more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, without allowing the dough to get too wet. I skipped this step, adding cold water through food processor tube a little at a time until dough came together in a mound.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap, then press the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. 
  7. Heat oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 
  8. Prepare the filling: Place 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl and rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips. Add the strawberries, cornstarch and salt; mix well to combine, making sure the cornstarch is well incorporated. Add up to another 1/4 cup sugar if desired, depending on the sweetness of your strawberries and your desired level of sweetness.
  9. Dust your countertop with flour, then transfer the chilled dough to it and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a 12- to 14-inch round, lightly flouring as needed. (It’s OK if the edges break and the shape isn’t perfectly round.) Gently transfer the dough by rolling it over a rolling pin and onto the prepared baking sheet. (At this point, if you’ve forgotten something, like preparing the egg wash, or if your dough has warmed up slightly, place the sheet pan in the fridge for a few minutes.) 
  10. Mound the strawberries and their juices in the middle of the dough and leave a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the fruit, pleating as you fold and leaving the center of the galette exposed. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. 
  11. Bake until the crust is golden and the strawberries are bubbling, about 35 minutes. It’s OK if some juices leak. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour and serve.
  • YIELD: 6 servings
  • TIME: 1 to 1½ hours, plus chilling and resting 

Calling Dibs, Jinx, Shotgun, and Other Things No One Knows the Rules To by Theresa Julian

Humor Expert At It Again!

Theresa Julian’s newest book, Calling Dibs, Jinx, Shotgun, and Other Things No One Knows the Rules to is a natural third book in her series with the The Joke Machine and 101 Hilarious Pranks and Practical Jokes. Like the Joke and Pranks books, illustrated by Pat Lewis, Calling Dibs, illustrated by Kim Griffin, is a funny, punny guide on “who gets dibs on the last slice of pizza” and “who’s ‘it’ when two people call ‘not it’ at the same time.” The book was written with 8-12 year-olds in mind, but anyone who wants to connect with kids and nostalgic adults will laugh-out-loud at Theresa’s rules and game challenges.

Theresa, critique-partner, writer-friend, and fellow triplets-mom, is getting good press! Time for Kids magazine featured her “How to Write Funny” advice and Highlights for Children Magazine asked her to share some “tips and tricks of the trade.” So cool!

Published June 29, 2020

Connect with Theresa on Twitter @Theresa_Julian, Instagram tm_julian, TikTok @thefunnyu

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Father’s Day Cards Made by Little Feet

Little Feet Leave a Big Message!

One of my preschool classes made Father’s Day cards with handprints, while the other made Father’s Day cards with footprints. This Easy DIY Kids Craft is a homemade greeting card is so cute for preschoolers and elementary age children.

The footprints were a challenge. When the kids stepped on the paper without assistance, their feet slid. When I held the paper to their feet, the print didn’t get their toes. What worked? Making sure paint was evenly distributed (it tickled!) and guiding each child’s foot to the paper to make a quick print. Whew!

If you have texture mats (as a potter, I have a collection of them) kids can make impressions of bricks or pebbles. If not, they can draw or color a path to be cut out and placed next to the footprint.

Add the message, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day,” sign name and date and the card is ready to go!

Sweet Feet!

Supplies:

  • construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
  • paint and paintbrush
  • magic markers, colored pencil or crayons
  • glue or double-stick tape
  • optional: brick or pebbles texture mat

Directions:

  1. Using paintbrush, paint foot. Make footprint on white paper. Let dry. (Note–it may take several tries to get a full footprint.)
  2. optional: using colored pencil and texture mat, create a brick or pebbles impression. OR, draw or color a path.
  3. Cut a strip out of path. Glue or tape path by footprint.
  4. Write or print out, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day!”
  5. Write child’s name and year.
  6. Glue white paper on to background paper.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Father’s Day Cards Made With Little Hands

Easy DIY Father’s Day Cards!

Preschool may have ended, but my students still have a present to give–adorable, easy DIY Father’s Day cards where their handprints transform into leaves on a tree. This idea is fun for preschoolers and elementary age children. I think my students’ dads will like the message, “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Sweet!

Supplies:

  • construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
  • green paint and paintbrush
  • magic markers, brown and other colors
  • scissors
  • glue or double-stick tape

Directions:

  1. Using paintbrush, paint child’s palm green. Make two handprints on white paper. (Note-it may take a few tries to get a good print.) Let dry.
  2. With brown marker, draw tree trunk and branches.
  3. Add “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Write child’s name and year.
  4. Glue or tape white paper onto background paper.
  5. Write or print out “Happy Father’s Day!”

Show-n-Tell Ceramics, GR Pottery Forms

Image source: Scarva

Experimenting with Shapes and Textures

New ceramics supplies at the Visual Arts Center of NJ means time to experiment! I’ve been creating textured dishes with the studio’s GR Pottery Forms. These cool, fiberboard shapes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and I’ve been having fun trying out different forms, applying textures, and finishing with different glaze combinations.

Next up will be small, wheel-thrown bud vases. Hon, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Happy creating!

Basket weave texture on medium, rectangular dish. Stones on long, thin dish, made without a form.
Hexagons, plaques, and oval with leaves, swirls, stones and lace textures.

Memorial Day Poem

I’m re-posting this poem, a prayer, from last Memorial Day with an added line.


In this year,

an historic year

of a global pandemic,

economic and educational disparities,

racial and religious hatred,

ideological and political divides,

innocence and freedom terrorized,

and our beautiful, irreplaceable earth

in deep trouble,

remember those who have served our country

and those who still do,

sons and daughters

whose families long to embrace them

and welcome them home.

Amen.

Angelic Voices, Precious Lives

Hon, you know I like to post happy things with occasional contemplations. But.

But my heart is heavy after yet another school shooting amidst a spate of violence in a disease that has infected the United States. Thoughts of horror in classrooms invades my mind and I tell myself to think of the ocean, the forest, the mountains and sky.

Throughout the year at the preschool, we drill for emergencies: fire, shelter-in-place, and active shooter. The morning after the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas we drilled.

My co-teacher had taken three children to the bathroom, so I was alone in the classroom with six two year-olds when we were heard “Active shooter in the building!” Should we stay in the classroom or run?

I blacked out the window on our door, bolted the door, and told my kids to get down and stay quiet. It was hard for them. Was Miss Naomi serious? She never speaks in that tone. My tone said Now! I mean it! Shhh!

As soon it seemed safer to run, we did. My toddlers are little and their wobbly legs can’t run fast without tripping and falling. I scooped up one, held hands with three, and teachers who were running with their students through my classroom scooped up the others and ran holding them.

We gathered outside. One teacher didn’t know it was a drill.

The critique from our security guard? Run much, much farther.


I posted the video of the New York City Children’s Choir singing Holy Night December 15, 2012, the day after the horrific Sandy Hook School tragedy. At the time, my youngest wanted to know if December 14 would become a national day of mourning. We’d have to add February 14 for Parkland and many more.

I can’t stop thinking about the precious children whose eyes tear up when they look at their teachers for reassurance. Is this a drill or real?

How to Build a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April-May 2022

Article and photos by me!

Researching color trends put me in the mood to paint, and learning how to create a butterfly and hummingbird garden has–ummm-planted the idea in my head! “How to Build a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden” was published in the April-May 2022 issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, and since it came out, I’ve been thinking about starting one. A couple of years back, when I covered a design mansion and then toured it, there was a lovely, four-season garden. Maybe I can combine the two…

As an added bonus, the butterfly pics accompanying the article are mine! When I showed my wonderful editor, Kara, the photographs I’d taken, she said she’d use them instead of stock photography–yay!

Hon, have you ever planted a butterfly or hummingbird garden? Did you get lots of visitors?