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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fresh Tomatoes
Planting tomatoes is the first ritual of spring. There are countless tomato varieties, but a handful seem to be Napa Valley favorites. These aren't the biggest, reddest or juiciest, but they rise to the top in taste and performance tests.
"Early Girl" is perennially popular. It has good keeping qualities, slices well and has a slightly sweet and tangy taste. Also, it produces abundantly. It is indeterminate, which means the fruit keeps on coming until season's end. Determinate varieties give you a sea of tomatoes all at once, forcing you into the kitchen to can whole tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Among sauce (plum) tomatoes, the kind with more meat and fewer seeds, "Roma" is consistently reliable. Heirloom tomatoes, some more than 100 years old, are making a comeback, with "Brandywine" leading the pack. It is a globe-shaped, pink tomato with a large leaf.
When you transplant your seedlings to the garden, be sure to bury the nodes (the bumps on the stem) two or three deep for strong healthy plants. If you are not sure of the weather, a gallon plastic milk container with the bottom cut out makes an inexpensive miniature greenhouse when held in place with a bamboo stick.
Water your tomato plants well. As they grow large, deep watering once a week is probably enough. Be sure your plants get adequate fertilizer and calcium.



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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Natural Decorations

The holiday season is one of the best times to decorate your home and garden with all those landscape trimmings that you were planning to recycle. Just add a little creativity and ingenuity.
Save the prunings from your conifers (cedar, fir and pine) and from shrubs already decorated with winter berries (holly, pyracantha and toyon). Don’t overlook evergreens such as citrus, magnolia, osmanthus and pittosporum, as well as blooming camellias or other flowering plants.
Possibilities for natural holiday decorating are almost endless and include all types of cones, seed pods and even whole grasses. Rosemary, boxwood, ivy, acorns, rose hips, apples, milkweed, wisteria, gourds, bay leaves—overlooked choices probably abound in your garden. Consider statice, eucalyptus, grape and honeysuckle vines, juniper, manzanita, podocarpus and redwood. Chances are your garden is literally filled with natural materials for making the holidays cheerier. Even prickly pear cactus pads and dried chili pods can make striking decorations.
Accent materials could include California pepper tree foliage and berries, cotoneaster berries, deer brush, cushion bush, dried pomegranates, dried poppy pods, lacecap hydrangea flowers, persimmons and even oak galls.
Projects for your holiday look might include a tomato tree, a unique use for those tomato cages languishing in the potting shed. Turn them upside down and anchor them in the ground or in a pot with irrigation stakes. Starting at the top of the cage, weave grapevines, ivy or honeysuckle vines in and out around the wire of the cage. If you’d like to keep your tomato tree fresh and green for awhile longer, tuck the cut ends of the plants into the ground or into a saucer of water concealed inside the cage. Add some tiny white lights and you’re ready to shine.
Twig art is very popular at the moment in home decorating. Why not create your own twig stars? Make large, medium and small stars by wiring or tying together six straight twigs of the same length into two triangles. Then place one triangle on top of the other and wire in place. Suspend them with fishing line from branches in the garden or indoors as window, ceiling and wall decorations. Line a mantle with miniature versions of the twig stars woven with ivy and tiny lights.
Swags are a more traditional decoration for the holidays and should contain several types of fresh foliage with berries, flowers and fruits. To construct your swag, cut three or four 6- to 9-inch small branches of greenery. Wire the bunch tightly to a green plastic clothesline, leaving a length of clothesline at the end to make a hanging loop for your swag. Make a second bunch of greenery, overlap it over the stems of the first bunch and again wire tightly to the clothesline. Continue along until your swag is the right length, then add berries, pods, fruit or red peppers either singly or in clusters. Spaced along the swag here and there, they’ll add holiday style to any home.
Frames for wreaths can be constructed with bent coat hangers or heavy wire, or purchased foam or straw. Other necessities for your project include clippers, wire cutters, florist picks (like hair pins) and green florist wire, which comes either in strands or on a spool. Forms for topiary balls can be made from crumpled chicken wire.
When you prune, cut branches with many small branchlets attached, and remember to follow appropriate pruning practices. Don’t leave ragged bark or stumps, and maintain an attractive plant shape. When removing cuttings from a plant that blooms in the spring, take care not to destroy existing flower buds.
To condition your holiday greens so that they stay lustrous and the leaf color lasts longer, try this tip. One week before decorating, add one or two tablespoons of Epsom salts to one gallon of water. Using a spray bottle, spray the liquid on the branches you want to use in your project. The magnesium from the salt will make your branches shinier and brighter. A couple of days before you’re ready to start, cut the branches you’ve chosen. Crush the ends of the stems slightly to help them absorb water. Hang them for 24 hours to dry.
What’s the best thing about natural holiday decorations? They can go straight to your compost bin or recycling container. Your home will be cheerier filled with natural decorations, and after the holidays, you’ll have the most festive compost bin in the neighborhood.

Culled from The University of Califofornia-- Master Gardens

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Women's skirts come in many a style, from the simple A-line to the peasant skirt to pleated skirts and mini skirts. Skirt styles are forever changing. Hemlines rise and drop, pleats come and go and fabrics are mixed and matched to arrive at outfits that range from casual chic to the bizarre. Don't fall prey to fleeting fashion trends. Instead opt for skirt styles that work for you. Take a look at the many avatars of skirts, from the ever-popular denim skirt to gypsy skirts and many more! You'll see that skirts are worth the swirl.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cushions- Cushions

A cushion is a soft bag of some ornamental material, stuffed with wool, hair, feathers, or even paper torn into fragments. It may be used for sitting or kneeling upon, or to soften the hardness or angularity of a chair or couch. Cushions can be used temporarily outside, to soften a hard ground. They can be placed on sunloungers and used to prevent annoyances from moist grass and biting insects. The cushion is a very ancient article of furniture; the inventories of the contents ofpalaces and great houses in the early Middle ages constantly made mention of them. Cushions were then often of great size, covered with leather, and firm enough to serve as a seat, but the steady tendency of all furniture has been to grow smaller with time.
Cushions were, indeed, used as seats at all events in Franceand Spain at a very much later period, and in Saint-Simon's time we find that in the Spanish court they were still regarded as a peculiarly honourable substitute for a chair. In France, the right to kneel upon a cushion in church behind the king was jealously guarded and strictly regulated, as we learn again from Saint-Simon. This type of cushion was called a carreau, or square. When seats were rude and hard, cushions may have been a necessity; they are now one of the minor luxuries of life.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Women's belt world
Belts worn by women do not exactly serve any purpose other than being ornamental in most cases. Although leather belts are used often with jeans and casual wear, fancier ones make great accessories with eveningwear.Women’s belts are definitely fancier and available in a lot more designs and styles than men’s belts. As with men’s belts, women's belts are available in leather, plastic loops, plastic strips, and reptile and animal skins. They are available with tie-on or Velcro instead of plain old buckles.Womens belts are usually studded with rhinestones, turquoise and other semi precious stones and go well with formal apparel. More expensive range includes custom made belts and those studded with diamonds and have gold or silver buckles. Ladies western belts come in a wide range. They are mostly made of reptile skins and are in chain models that are studded with rhinestones or turquoise.
Ladies belts designed by well-known designers such as Gucci, and Versace etc., are of high quality and unique stylish designs. They definitely make a lot of difference when worn with casuals or formal clothes.Fancy belt buckles made into attractive designs also lend credit to the belts. Even diamond, gold and silver studded belt buckles can make a lot of difference to a plain leather or cloth belt. Reversible belts are also in vogue since they can be used both ways to go with different outfits.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hammocks- Just Perfect
Hammocks are ideal for outdoor relaxation during summer and provide good relief for bad backs. The perfect hangout for summertime.
The hammock is a device used to sleep or rest in and consists of cloth or a network of twine or thin rope which is stretched between two firm points to create the perfect hammock. The Garden Hammock was developed in South America or the Caribbean. Hammocks are standard items in almost all yards and homes in the Yucatan. Hammocks were said to have arrived in Yucatan from the Caribbean less than two centuries before the Spanish Conquest. Hammocks are made of various materials. The quality depends greatly on the thread and the number of threads used to create them. Hammocks are made in villages surrounding the capital city Merida and are sold throughout the world as well as locally. Hammocks hold such a strong place in the hearts of the Yucatecans, that even the most humble of homes have hammock hooks in the walls

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Friday, May 19, 2006

The Multi- Cat Household
The saying goes "one cat just leads to another".
Watching your cats interact with each other can be a lot of fun. Yet, if your cats do not get along, life can be miserable for the cats as well as for the owner. To provide the best conditions for a good relationship between cats there are three things you should do -
-Introduce the cats properly.
-Create the right environment for them to live together.
-Deal with their confrontations in an appropriate manner.
Don't expect all of your cats to necessarily adore each other. You may see Ying-and-Yang cuddling among your cats, especially if the cats have been brought up together since kittenhood. Then again, you may not. The cats are more likely to just co-exist peacefully in the same territory. Whichever the case, even in the best of circumstances the occasional hiss is perfectly normal and appropriate. Your cats are just being cats. Just think - don't you ever hiss or spit at the humans who share your territory?
If you want to have several cats living under your roof in relative peace, you need to make sure that there's enough of everything to go around. Never make your cats compete for resources, whether that be food, litter pans, water bowls, toys it is this type of competition that is usually the cause of many cat fights. And this can and should be avoided.

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