Category Archives: Flowers

My First Veggie Garden

Columbia County, New York  I  Saturday, 19 May 2018

Okay, I know you’re wondering, how did this hippie chick get to her age without ever having a vegetable garden?

Well, I’ve had a rose garden before, when I was back in my 20s, when Julie, Lori, and I were renting my sister’s condo. I had a pretty stressful job at the time, at a service bureau.

What the heck is a service bureau? I’m sure you’re asking. Well, back in the day, when things were printed, they were first imaged to film negative, film positive, or photographic paper, by huge machines called Linotypes.

As a graphic designer, trying to get my foot in the door, I worked at a place with two Linotypes. They were large, heavy, very expensive machines, and every mistake in printing to them was a costly one.

We had regular clients, and some walk-ins, and they all wanted their stuff yesterday. It could get very stressful, when machines broke down, fonts bitmapped or substituted with Courier, the font that strikes dread in my heart to this day.

When I got home at night, I was wound up like a top, from a full day of non-stop deadlines, demands, juggling, and putting out fires.

I’d planted a few rose bushes in the little strip of dirt under our living room window, and I loved nothing more than in the evenings to kick off my shoes, dig my feet into the fresh, cool grass, and prune my rose bushes. All the worries of my work day would just melt away, as I admired the blooms on my Double Delight rose bush.

(Have I mentioned one of my prior jobs was at a rose greenhouse? No, I don’t think I have. Different day, different blog…)

Back then, I didn’t care very much about cooking or growing vegetables, I think I ate a lot of fast food. But I care about all this now. I seem to go through bags of onions and potatoes with alarming frequency.

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Setting My Table

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Friday, 22 September 2017

The other night, as I was getting ready for dinner, it occurred to me once again how much I love to set the table. That night we were having spaghetti, so it was very simple: just a bowl, fork, napkin, and glass. But still, it seemed so satisfying, making sure each piece was perfectly in place.

Several months ago, I had company over for dinner, my parents and the missionaries from church. I wasn’t sure if my dining room would work for six people, because the most I’ve had seated at this table was four, with it pushed up against the wall on one side. And since most of my dishes are in storage, I wasn’t sure how to set the table nicely, but I figured it out!

I had four basic white Corelle plates and two nice Edward Knowlton plates, antiques from 1922. I had a bunch of plain, clear glasses, and four pretty orange and cobalt blue flecked glasses, a gift from my wonderful friend, Lori.

I decided the fancy plates would be paired with the plain glasses and the plain plates would be grouped with the decorative glasses. I made sure the silverware was spot-free and shiny, my treasured Oneida Northland Musette stainless steel set I got for college graduation.

Might I brag? The centerpiece I made was simple, yet beautiful, I thought. I cut two orange lilies low in the stem and put them in clear glass spice jars, and lit three tea lights, floating them in clear votive holders. It seemed just right to me, elegant, but not overdone or distracting.

Since I had to pull the table out from the wall in order to seat six people, I was concerned the doorway would be blocked once everyone was seated, but there was actually still room to get around, so I was pleasantly surprised!

If you want to have people over for dinner, or even if it’s just a special meal for your family, don’t worry if you don’t have a huge set of fancy dinnerware. It’s fine to mix and match with what you have. Just make sure everything is sparkling clean and you take time in advance to set things up properly, without having to rush around once your guests have arrived.

Enjoy setting your table. People will appreciate your effort, how pretty it looks, and how special and loved it makes them feel.

To see some interesting, elaborate table settings, go to this blog and click on the tablescapes option in the menu bar:


One Perfect Pink Peony

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Saturday, 10 June 2017

This pink peony is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning, and it really makes my heart happy. It’s on the nightstand, right by the clock and lamp, and it’s such a cheerful sight to wake up to!

Ever since the first daffodils this spring, I’ve been bringing flowers inside to perk up the place: a bright yellow daffodil with two small branches of forsythia, or a white daffodil with a bit of bridal wreath bush, or apple blossom branches, white with the slightest hint of blushing pink.

We also have a glorious rhododendron bush, and one cluster of fuchsia blooms in a small bottle makes a perfect tiny arrangement, or the same bottle, filled with a fragrant white daffodil, cut short in the stem, and six or eight grape hyacinths makes such a welcome sight.

And phlox! There’s such an abundance of phlox around here, they grow wild by the road. A bunch of these purple and white flowers will last a long time on your kitchen table.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert florist. If you choose a thin-necked vase, all it really needs is one flower stem and maybe one or two branches of filler. You’ll be surprised how much it brightens up your space. Give it a try!