Tag Archives: chickens

The Gardener’s Apprentice: Braiding Daffodils

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I want a garden.  Bad.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in apartments virtually all of my life.  I just love the idea of helping things to grow, and at this point I’m seriously craving some land to grow fruits, veggies, and flowers on.  The problem?  The staggering real estate costs here in Southern California.  I’ve lived in California all my life, but can’t afford property here.  (sigh)  We currently live in an apartment and our small (third story) patio is the daytime play area for our rabbits.  What’s a girl wanting to work in a garden to do?  Borrow someone else’s!

I’ve dubbed myself the Gardener’s Apprentice
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I found a listing on Craigslist that is helping me get my garden fix without having property myself.  A nice woman who lives about 20 minutes away has a large front and back yard, planted with both flowers and edibles.  She even has a small flock of seven chickens – something else I hope to have some day.  For her privacy, I’ll refer to this nice gardening lady as C.

C was in search of someone to help her with her yard – what luck for us both!  In exchange for helping her out, I’ll get to learn from an experienced gardener and plant enthusiast.  I’ll also reap some tangible rewards – goodies of C’s choosing that will come from her yard and/or chickens.

Starting Out
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I met C for the first time last week, and we started with a tour of the property.  I got to meet her hubby, two darling doggies, and the chickens (no rooster).  We got to work that very day!  We worked in a small section on the front edge of her yard.  While many of the plants in that section are flourishing and blooming, some bulbs were spent – like the daffodils and freesias.

The daffodil leaves are still green, but they’re laying flat and were a bit of a mess. Rather than cut the leaves back now, like we did with the freesias, C had me braid the stems of the daffodils.  (See photo at top) This way the leaves are tidy and out of the way while the bulb stores a bit more of their plant-y goodness in preparation for next year’s bloom.  Once the greens are dried out the braids can be cut off quickly and easily.

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We also dug up several small freesia bulbs that had multiplied and were taking over.  They were crowding out mini roses and other plants, so C and I used a trowel to loosen the dirt before digging through with our gloved fingers.  Geez – there were dozens!  We also pulled out some grasses and weeds that didn’t belong, and when we stopped working the section looked much tidier.  C let me take some of the bulbs we pulled out for my father-in-law.  He has quite a green thumb.
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chickens

She also gave me some Aztec Lily bulbs and six fresh eggs her chickens had laid.  Lucky me!  The eggs were beautiful, in a range of colors and sizes.  The egg yolks are much bigger and are a much deeper golden yellow than store bought eggs – even when compared to cage-free eggs.  The eggs were scrumptious, and I’m definitely a fan of C’s flock.  :]

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My Second Visit
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We focused on the front yard again during my second visit.  We started by trimming and thinning a thicket of wisteria that grows in a planter that divides C’s driveway from the property next door.  Sweet Pea vines also grow in the thicket, but we just wove those lovelies back into the mix.

The rest of our time was spent pulling the dried leaves off of bulb-based plants.  The plants in question surround two small trees that live in two earthen squares on their front sidewalk.  Day lilies reside in each of the four corners of the planters, and “Naked Ladies” fill in the rest.  These “Naked Lady” plants belonged to C’s grandmother back in the day, and have been transplanted onto her property.  I think that’s so sweet. I love the idea of plants being shared by multiple generations.  The plant blooms in July with no leaves on it – just the “naked” flower stem.  Thus the name…

bouquet

My special treat for helping C that day was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers that she cut fresh from her yard. The bouquet contains several types of roses (at least six different varieties), calla lilies, and Peruvian lilies. The photo below is a closeup of the bouquet taken a day after I brought it home.  The gorgeous red and white rose is known as a Betty Boop!

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Thinking Outside of the Box
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I still want a garden and chickens of my own, but am so glad I’ve met C and get to spend some time learning and helping her.  My next “gardening appointment” is set for Thursday, and I’ll happily be putting on sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and some gardening gloves – ready to learn by doing.

I have no idea how long my “garden apprenticeship” last.  I do know that while this arrangement is just scratching the surface in terms of what I’d like to learn and do, it is a start.  I’m glad I thought outside of the box instead of just moping about what I don’t have.  Taking chances and trying something – anything – can lead you to something unexpectedly wonderful.  Like braiding daffodils…

Warm regards,
Melody

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The Remarkable Women Series: Ariella Fiore – The Quilting Mama!

Welcome to the first installation in my Remarkable Women Series!  A little something I’ve whipped up for my blog, the Remarkable Women Series will highlight admirable women in short articles that will be posted here at melodynunez.com.  Words that might apply to these Remarkable Women will include: kind, active, talented, philanthropic, and fun!

If you haven’t subscribed to this blog already, please do so now. You’ll be eligible for upcoming giveaways and you’ll catch future blog posts – including additional installations in this series.

That said, on with the show!  Please allow me to introduce my first Remarkable Woman:

Ariella Fiore, The Quilting Mama

Ariella Fiore’s life combines the best of many worlds.  She lives in the urban San Fernando Valley, but keeps chickens.  She’s tech-savvy (and seems to be addicted to Facebook!), but also sews and puts up jam made from the fruit harvested from her fruit trees.  She’s a bit of a wild child, but is also a devoted wife and mother.

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Ariella is not easily defined, and she is a spectacular example of joie de vivre.  French for “joy of living”, joie de vivre doesn’t mean that every moment and every day in Ariella’s life is perfect.  On the contrary, some of her Facebook posts mention the trials and tribulations of her everyday life.  I think Ariella embodies joie de vivre because of her gusto.  She’s not an observer – she’s an enthusiastic participant in this crazy thing we call life.

I met Ariella, then Ariella DeCastro, in my 10th grade year.  We were both students at the Alexander Hamilton Academy of Music, and she was a grade ahead of me.  We were on the same bus route, and we remained friends after she started driving herself to school soon thereafter.  I was drawn to Ariella, as many were and are, because of her kindness, sense of humor, and abundant personality.  She wasn’t a “blend in with all the others” girl – could not be shaped by the cosmic cookie cutters that molded others, restrained them.  Even then, at the ripe old age of sixteen, Ariella was unique, knew it, and – most importantly – embraced it.

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Flash forward approximately 20 years, and Ariella is living the dream – her dream.  She has a loving husband, two bright and adorable children, and she’s got a garden that turns this apartment-dweller (several shades of) green with envy.  She’s active at her children’s school, involved in the Fiore family computer business (EPG Technologies), and frequently performs in local musical theater productions.

A social butterfly, Ariella has a knack for bringing people together, and her cooking and baking skills are invariably put to use whether she’s the hostess or is a guest.  On top of all that, she’s also got her own business – The Quilting Mama, which offers hand-sewn items at craft fairs and through an etsy.com store.

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Ariella is a decidedly passionate person, and one of her greater passions is saving the planet.  She is the reduce-reuse-recycle queen, and is so vigilant that she doesn’t even use disposable party goods (plates, cups, etc.) when hosting get-togethers – regardless of size.  While many of us (myself included) are blithely using plastic sandwich bags and tossing them after one use, Ariella ensures that her family contributes as little to the landfills as possible.

She’s so committed to responsible living that even her Quilting Mama product line is earth-friendly.  Her reusable, sandwich-size Food Bags, Green Sleeve Coffee Cozies, and Reusable Swiffer-style Dry Cloths are just a few of the ways she’s trying to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  She also sells wonderful baby blankets, adult bibs, and other goodies.

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Click here to visit The Quilting Mama Store

Oh, and don’t be afraid to contact The Quilting Mama with special requests. In the past I’ve asked for baby blankets and an adult bib with special patterns and dimensions, respectively.  Ariella was very accommodating, and the finished products were just what I hoped for.  (Please note: I’m not a paid endorser, just a fan!)

Some people you meet in life are admirable.  Some are unforgettable.  Some are fun, some are talented, and some are simply a joy to know.  Ariella Fiore is all of these things, and I’m glad to have met her on the school bus all those many years ago.

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(The photo of Ariella Fiore was taken by Maggie West.  All other photos were taken by Melody Nunez)

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