Category: Author

Take time to enjoy summer

Aw, sweet summertime. Summer is my favorite season for so many reasons — the longer days, the chance to spend so much time outdoors and the opportunities to enjoy lots of pool and beach time just send me to my happy place! By the end of the school year, we are always a little relieved to put the backpacks and lunchboxes away for a few months, too! Whether or not you have kids at home or not, there is something sort of wonderful about the slower pace of the summer season. Some days, it is certainly simply because it is too hot and humid to do anything but relax but the warm weather is a great time to reset your schedule, get some much needed Vitamin D energy and find ways to simplify your daily routine! My first order of advice this month is to take time to enjoy the summer season. If you are a teacher or someone who is not commuting to work on a regular basis, you probably already have some ideas on how you plan to accomplish this. For the rest of you, my advice is to take at least three days — in a row — to simply enjoy everything that summer has to offer. Weekends are usually so busy with cookouts and barbecues while just taking a little mini staycation can provide tremendous...

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Purple cone flowers love summer sun

Echinacea purpurea, or Purple Cone Flower, is a wonderful sun-loving native herbaceous perennial that grows from 1 1/2 feet tall to 5 feet tall, depending on the variety. They bloom the whole month of June and into August, brightening the garden with their large, fragrant daisy shaped flowers in many shades of purple, red, yellow and rose-pink with domed orange center. They love full sun and tolerate dry sandy soil, clay soil, high humidity and drought. They seem to be made to thrive on our Eastern Shore! They are also listed as being deer and bunny tolerant too. Coneflowers bloom more than once a season but that is improved if the dead flowers are trimmed of. Leave a few to mature to seed for the goldfinches in the fall and the new seedlings for next spring. “Pow Wow Wild Berry” is a compact coneflower growing 2-3 feet tall that has lots of branches which means lots and lots of bright rose purple flowers with orange centers. This variety starts to bloom in last spring and continues to bloom through late summer and even into autumn. The flowers grow 3-4 inches across with deep rose purple overlapping petals. “Hot Papaya” is a bright, hot orange-red double coneflower that doesn’t fade with the heat of summer. This variety can grow 2-3 feet tall and wide, attracting many butterflies into the garden....

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How to identify wood types

You come across a beautiful table out in an antique store. It has a nice, dark hue to it, and it matches your chairs perfectly, but what type of wood is it? How do you determine how much it is worth and if it is even real wood? There are many ways to look at a piece of furniture and determine from what type of wood it is made, or if it is even real wood at all. The first thing to do when you look at a piece of furniture that you are investigating is to look at...

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May is prime time for candytuft

May is when the evergreen Iberis sempervirens or Candytuft are in full flower on the Eastern Shore, some starting as early as March or April and continuing to bloom for up to 10 weeks. The evergreen foliage provides a dark rich shiny green to the edges of sunny gardens all year long, especially nice in the deep cold of winter. The plants are very drought tolerant, growing well in drained soils. They only grow about six to 12 inches tall and can spread slowly to form a mound about 18 inches wide. The small four-petaled pure white flowers are arranged in a dense cluster forming a domed umbrella shape. When in bloom, the flowers almost blanket the plant totally and are extremely fragrant, living up to their common name of Candytuft. When in bloom they attract many pollinators including many early butterflies, but neither deer nor rabbits will nibble on the foliage. “Alexander’s White” is an excellent cultivar, growing a bit taller with lots of long lasting flowers. Candytuft is perfect as an edging plant for a garden or along a path, but it also looks great cascading over a low wall or as a sunny groundcover and even in containers. (Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland...

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A good strategy for a clean sweep

I don’t think there is a greater natural high than seeing my house in the immediate moments after I have cleaned it from top to bottom. It has become an increasingly rare occurrence in recent years, as I have focused my attention on spending my spare time with my children — but as I have focused my own self growth on finding ways to live a more simple life, learning ways to live more efficiently and more effectively have made those sparkly clean house moments much more frequent. I’ll confess, when I first got married, I had a cleaning service that came to my house weekly. Looking back to that time — pre-children — I kind of chuckle, thinking at how easy I had it compared to my ccurent housekeeping chores, which now include cleaning up after two kids, four pets and a slightly messy (but completely lovable) spouse! Now that I have learned some good life hacks when it comes to house cleaning, I actually enjoy doing it — and really enjoy how lovely my house is to be in when my chores are complete! Whether you were born with a mop and bucket in your hand or are a slow learner like me, I have dedicated this month’s musings to helping share ways to make cleaning your home sweet home a little more of a treat! •...

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