Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mix Flowers and Vegetables in The Garden

I have been going to garden walks in Troy and other cities around Troy for at least 10 years, and every year, it amazes me how many garden are dedicated to only one thing. And I almost never see a garden with vegetables. Yellow arrow points to the watercress, and red arrow points to water mints

When I started my garden, I knew right away that it was going to be a mix of flowers and vegetables. The reason, I love both and I was not going to give up either one. I have to admit, that my front garden is more manicured and contains flowers only. However the backyard is a completely different story. In my backyard, you see beautiful roses mixed with garlic and behind them tall cages of heirloom tomatoes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Forget-Me-Nots Flower

I have four patches of forget-me-nots in my garden and every spring I enjoy their little tiny blue flowers. Often, my neighbors tell me that their forget-me-nots died after the first year and want to know my secret.

Forget-me-nots can be annual or prennenial. M. alpestris need a sunny, well-drained location while the perennial M. palustris, frequently called the “marsh” forget-me-not, prefers moist soil and a semi-shaded location.



By the end of may, the plant is done flowering. I cut the stems back and after a couple weeks new growth emerges and these are the plants that will bloom next year.



Forget-me-nots have shallow roots and you have to be careful not to pull out the plan while cutting the stems. Perennial Forget-Me-Nots can be propagated by separating clumps of established plants.


Forget-me-nots is the state flower of Alaska, but they are considered invasive and are banned in Connecticut and Massachusetts.


So what’s up with the name? Forget-me-nots have been around for centuries. In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name."


In the 15th century Germany, they believed the wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers. From Mill’s “History of Chivary”: A medieval German knight is said to have been picnicking on the bank of the Danube with his lady love. He descended the bank to the water’s edge to gather some of the lovely blue flowers he saw there, but while he was near the water, tragedy struck. A “freshet” (flash flood) suddenly appeared and pulled the young man into the churning river. As he was literally swept away, he tossed the bouquet to his lady on the bank with the three now-famous words: “Forget me not!”


Forget-me-nots flower is connected with romance and tragic fate. It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love. Most people use these in weddings for love.



Sources


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget-me-not


http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=MYSC


http://www.plant-care.com/forget-me-nots.html


http://www.wildflowerinformation.org/WildflowerFolklore.asp


http://www.gardenersnet.com/flower/fmn.htm


Monday, June 22, 2009

What Happens After I Receive An Order?

In case you are wondering what happens after you purchase an item and how it is shipped.


The first thing that happens, you will receive a convo (that is Etsy’s term for sending a message) from me with a potential shipping date. I will ask for a shipping address confirmation, if I noticed a discrepancy. Then I will reexamine the item you have purchased, to make sure everything is in good order. I will clean the item, if needed. I will make sure earrings have rubber stoppers attached to them.


Standard Packaging


I will wrap your item in layer after layer of tissue paper. This ensures that your item will arrive without bent, tangles or another problem. If the item purchase contains sterling silver, then the wrapped item is placed in a ziplock jewelry bag with few anti tarnish strips. I suggest you store your item in the bag and the strips as well. If I am shipping outside of the US, all items are placed in a ziplock jewelry bag.

The item is placed in a cotton filled white, gold or silver gift box along with velvet or a silk jewelry pouch.


The box is secured and decorated with a silver or gold stretch ribbon.



A hand written note and a packing slip is placed with the box. Everything is placed in a bubble wrapper. For domestic shipments, everything is placed in a Manila envelope. For outside US shipments everything is placed inside a Bubble cushioned envelope for extra protectionThe seams of the envelope are secured with packaging tape.


The package is mailed, first class, insured with delivery confirmation.


Free Jewelry Box upgrade for:


All Bracelets over $70 are shipped in a gorgeous black or white bracelet case lined with matching color satin and velvet. Since the case provides plenty of protection against tangles, I may skip wrapping the bracelet in tissue paper.



All pearl and necklaces $100 dollars or more are shipped either in a leather necklace folders with satin interiors and snap closure or a deluxe leatherette necklace box with gold trim.





Please note that due to the availability of supplies, the box color may vary from the picture.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is Cultured Pearl Real Pearl?


A classic strand of Australian South Sea cultured pearls. Photo by Australian Pearl Center

The answer is yes.

Instead of waiting for nature to create this amazing gem by chance, trained technicians have a hand in creating it. So now you ask, how are pearls made anyway? Pearls are created inside the body of the Pearl Oyster. Just like you and I, an Oyster Pearl’s body tries to get rid of any foreign objects that gets inside its shell. Sometimes when the oyster cannot expel the foreign object, the oyster isolates it inside a membrane or pearl sack that secretes nacre. Nacre is the same smooth substance that lines its shell. The foreign object is slowly plated with translucent layers of calcium carbonate crystals (nacre), which make it smooth and tolerable to the oyster. Pearl oyster is a member of mollusk family, with over 130,000 living species, but only a few species can create the gem quality we value as pearl.


Persicae Roseae - Rosy Peach Cultured Saltwater Akoya Pearl and 14K Gold Necklace Set from MaryBlum's Shop on Etsy
Cultured pearls are created by humans inserting a foreign object between the shell of a Pearl oyster and its nacre-producing mantle. However, this process did not always create round pearls. It was not until late 19th century when Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a noodle maker, discovered the secret to making cultured round pearls. The procedure is called nucleation, where a small mantle tissue from another oyster is used to form the pearl sack. To see the process watch the pearl nucleatings video. As you can imagine, this revolutionized the pearl industry. Pearl Farms and farmers were developed. Japan’s pearl industry expanded to other countries such as Burma, Australia and South Sea. South Sea pearls are produced mainly in Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. Australia produces the biggest and most expensive pearls. The smaller Japanese pearls are still the most popular and affordable.

A beautiful white Chinese fresh water button pearl set in 14KY gold from Omoridesigns's shop on Etsy
Everything we talked about so far relates to Salt Water Cultured Pearl. The other more popular and relatively less expensive kind is ‘Fresh Water’ Cultured pearl. Fresh water pearls are produced by freshwater mussels that live in ponds, lakes, and rivers. China has been producing them in the form of mabe since the 13th century. Mabes are formations, bumps, and half-domes that grow against the shell's interior surface.

Today, China is the world’s leader in producing fresh water pearls. Cultured fresh water pearls are of excellent quality, luster and shape including round. However, because they are solid nacre, they are more resistance to chipping, wear and degeneration.


Floral Keshi Pearl Earrings from Srdesignstudio's shop on Etsy


Keshi pearls are produced when the oyster spits out the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is formed. Keshi pearls are produced by both saltwater and freshwater pearl oysters and their shape varies widely. Keshi pearls have excellent luster and shimmering surface.




White Keshi Pearl and Blue Diamond Ring from Fairchild & Co





“Keshi Pearl Floating in an Oyster Dish” ring uses an American keshi pearl “floating” on 18k yellow gold with two American keshi pearls from Stephen WrightWright & Co.Indianapolis, IN





Natural Luster White Mabe Blister Pearl Pendants (1pc)from Emass's shop on Etsy


A mabe pearl is a hemispherical shaped pearl which is grown against the inside of the oyster's shell, rather than within its tissue. Cultured mabes are grown intentionally, by using a hemispheric nucleus, rather than a round one; and by implanting it against the oyster's shell, rather than within its tissue





Mabe Pearl and Abalone Necklace from ErinPettitDesigns's shop on Etsy


The only way to tell the difference between a cultured and a natural pearl is by x-ray which reveals the inner part of the pearl.




Sources:


The History of Pearls © by Fred Ward


Cultured pearl From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Pearl-Guide.Com


"The Perfect Pearl" PBS Airdate: December 29, 1998


Monday, June 15, 2009

Local Farmer’s Market

All winter long I look forward to going to the farmer’s market in late spring. After a whole winter of being deprived from the taste of fresh picked herbs and vegetables, the first day of farmer’s market gives me the feeling of ‘a little girl in the candy store’. If you have ever tested fresh (same day) picked produce then you know what I am talking about. And yes, I found and bought Michigan grown asparagus. It was very tender and delicious. This weekend I found a variety of lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, radishes, fresh baked bread and the best pickles I have ever tasted. The produce you find here is nothing like the ones in the supermarkets, for one thing it has not been sitting around and sprayed with water all day long. It has not lost all of its nutrients in the long ride to the supermarket. And, it lasts longer in your refrigerator.

Besides buying great tasting food, you get to know them as well. Why buy local you ask, here are my reasons:
- Use less gasoline, the produce is traveling fewer miles than the ones in the supermarket.
- Cut off the middleman
- You get exceptional taste and freshness
- You are helping your local economy and supporting the family farm

The http://www.localharvest.org/ site will help you find farms, farmer’s markets and grocery co/ops near you.

Happy feasting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wildlife in Troy, Michigan


I try to take a walk everyday to the park near our house. The park is a basically the rouge riverbed enlarged. Usually, I can spot a grey heron, or a white egret amongst the ducks and the geese. I like watching the wild life and the sound of the water takes me away from worries. The other day, I noticed two swans. So today, I took my camera and took some pictures of them. Watching them in the water, with no worries, and so graceful, was the best way to start the morning. They were not even afraid of me, so I got pretty close. I enjoyed this morning so much that I had to share it. Here is a slide show of the pictures I took this morning.




Monday, June 8, 2009

Oceana County - Michigan

I love asparagus, but I never thought about where it is grown and where it comes from, until a few weeks a ago. I watched a documentary on TV called 'Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary)'. The documentary came out in 2006, directed and produced by Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare.


The documentary is about asparagus growers in the Oceana county, the third largest asparagus growers in the United stated, and why they are going out of business. Small farmers, where asparagus is their livelihood.

In 1991, The U.S. signed the Andean Trade Preference Act, eliminating all import tariffs on South American asparagus with the hopes of reducing the cocaine imports. The US War on Drugs program hoped to reduce the cocaine production by sending huge subsidies to Peru for their alternative crop program, asparagus. Later, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) brought Mexican asparagus followed by China into the U.S. Now, due to cheap labor, the small farmers in Oceana county can not compete with foreign competition, and are forced to loose their farms and businesses.


Why does our government subsidies foreign farmers, and allows our own farmers go out of business? Other countries, do not have our labor laws, our regulations and standards of safety, ;therefore they can afford to produce their goods at a cheaper rate. Is cheap labor, and lower cost the only thing consumers care about?

Did the cocaine production go down? See the documentary for yourself at http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/asparagus_a_stalk_umentary/

White Pearls for June

Birthday Gift Ideas for Cancer

Cancer - The Crab- The fourth sign of the zodiac - June 22 - July 22

Their color is white and silver. White is symbol of purity and stands for wholeness and completion.


Their birthstone is Pearl, symbol of purity and perfection. It is the ultimate symbol of good taste.

For a perfect gift, combine an artisan handmade pearl jewlery set and a white boquet of flowers.





All merchendise is available at shop http://zeba.etsy.c0m