Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm looking for...

A quad-ruled, 5-subject spiral notebook. Has anyone ever seen one?

I use a 1-subject, quad-ruled spiral notebook for my garden journal. But lately a lot of non-garden related items have made it into my notebook, and I don't like it. For example, page 1 is garden related, but pages 3-10 are Fall 2007 fashion ideas. Then there are home ideas and Christmas lists, and a "note-to-self" that I am way too short to wear ankle boots with a pencil skirt. The problem with having everything in one notebook is that I can never find the tid-bit of info that I need. (Now, where did I put that recipe for natural hardwood floor cleaner... or which handbag did I decide I liked best... or where is my list of heirloom seeds for spring planting?) I'd love to have a 5-subject notebook with sections for Garden, Home, Finance, Fashion, and Web Design. Now that I have this photoshop program I've got to have a place to write down all the things I learn about how to work it. One of my resolutions for 2008 is to get my finances in order, and I certainly can't do that unless I have a notebook to write it all down in, right?! At the rate I misplace just this one notebook, it wouldn't make sense for me to have five of them. I know exactly what would happen if I had five. I'd come up with an excellent idea, go looking high-and-low for the correct but misplaced notebook, then when I couldn't find it anywhere, resign to putting my great idea in the WRONG notebook. Devastating.

During my vacation I plan to get organized. For me, getting organized means starting with a fresh notebook to capture all my ideas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. My husband and I sure did. I didn't get much time off, but I'll be off Monday and Tuesday and I can't wait. I have some garden projects planned. The weather is supposed to be nice on Monday - sunny and 62F - so I'll be able to get outside and do some gardening.

My blog readers are lucky because one of my Christmas gifts was Photoshop CS2! Soon A Shower Fresh Garden will be getting a makeover. I've grown very tired of this color scheme and I want a better page header. I hope I can come up with something good during my vacation.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Cookies

And here are the rest of my Christmas cookie photos. I baked on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. There are Angel Thumbprint cookies, White Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cranberry cookies, and Coconut Macroons. They are all divine. I didn't get around to baking the Red Velvet Cake. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Story of Stuff

Emma at posted a link to this video and I thought I'd pass it on. It really hit home here at Christmastime when we are buying gifts for our friends and family. I learned a lot and so will you...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Turkey Meatloaf

I've been looking for a good meatloaf recipe for ages. I've tried a ton of them, but I never found one I liked enough to make again. I ran across a Turkey Meatloaf recipe on recently and decided to give it a whirl. The ingredients sounded delicious, and I am always looking for ways to make old-standby recipes healthier.

This recipe is a hit. It was not at all greasy like a beef meatloaf. This meatloaf is very moist and flavorful. The mushrooms are fantastic. I really didn't miss the beef at all. I even think meatloaf might be better with ground turkey.

Turkey Meatloaf
Gourmet, January 2003

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-inch dice
3/4 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and very finely chopped in a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ketchup
1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread)
1/3 cup 1% milk1 whole large egg, lightly beaten1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/4 lb ground turkey (mix of dark and light meat)

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and 3 tablespoons ketchup, then transfer vegetables to a large bowl and cool.
Stir together bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white, then add to vegetables. Add turkey and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture and mix well with your hands. (Mixture will be very moist.)
Form into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a lightly oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal baking pan and brush meatloaf evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake in middle of oven until thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 170°F, 50 to 55 minutes.
Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before serving.

Christmas Baking

The Christmas baking frenzy has begun!! I'm baking this week. Three batches of cookies and a red velvet bundt cake. Am I crazy? Probably, but I loooove Christmas baking. I am giving most of the cookies away as gifts for my co-workers and friends. The bundt cake is for my family Christmas celebration on Sunday night. Here's the breakdown:

Tonight - Angel Thumbprint cookies. I love these! I made them last year for my family for Valentine's Day. Yum! This recipe is from the Macrina cookbook.

Tuesday - White Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cranberry cookies. Enough said. This recipe is from Southern Living.

Thursday - Coconut Macroons. This recipe is also from Southern Living.

Friday - Red Velvet Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. A Paula Deen recipe. It sounds sinful and probably is. My grandmother gave me a bundt pan for Christmas a few years ago, so I really wanted to bring a bundt cake to Christmas dinner. This recipe looked good, and I thought the red color would be festive.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba Tree
Madison Avenue
Oxford, Mississippi

I grabbed a shot of my favorite tree last month just as it was turning its electric shade of yellow. I wish I had been around a week later. This tree just shines from within with a golden shimmer.

The ginkgo biloba species has thrived on planet Earth for around 270 million years. Ginkgos have become known as symbols of longevity, memory, and hope -- all for good reason. The oldest standing ginkgos are in China and Japan where some are said to be over 2,500 years old. Extract from the ginkgo leaves is thought to be a memory enhancer and an antioxidant. Ginkgo trees are hardy and resilient, resistant to disease, pollution, and fire. So hardy in fact, that four Ginkgo bilboa trees survived the atomic bomb blast on Hiroshima in 1945. These four trees are still thriving today. If you have room for one of these massive trees (they can reach heights exceeding 100 ft) Ginkgo bilobas are great choices for any garden.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eight Happy Thoughts...

I've been tagged! Katie at Gardenpunks tagged me with the 8 Happy Thoughts meme. I'm not feeling all that happy today, actually. I've worked close to 40 hours in just the last 3 days. All while my husband is in Chicago. I'm going to try this anyway. Don't I need my happy thoughts the most when I am feeling down?

Here are the rules:
When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Post these rules before your list, then list 8 thoughts that make you happy. At the end of your list, you must tag and link 8 other people.

1) Oxford, Mississippi. For those readers out there that know Oxford, you know what I'm talking about. Thacker Mountain Radio, book readings by your favorite modern authors at Square Books, and of course Ole Miss football.
2) Yocona River Inn. Actually, I could name eight of my favorite things on their ever-changing menu and be done with this post!
3) London: Hyde Park, Indian food, full pints, empty pints, late nights...
4) My English roses.
5) Talking on the phone with my dad and brothers. When I was a freshman in college, if I got homesick and wanted to speak with everyone, I'd just call around dinner time. My dad and brothers would spend more time talking with each other than they would with me, but that was OK. I just enjoyed being in the middle of it all again.
6) Sunday mornings with Chip. His lattes are divine. We take it easy.
7) Standing in the crowd watching a band I love play a live show. I don't get to do this much anymore. Recently I saw The New Pornagraphers in New Orleans on Halloween night. Best ever was Built to Spill in Nashville.
8) Gettin' so dirty in the yard that I've gotta soak my pants in soapy water before they go anywhere near my Whirpool Duet washer.

And I'll tag:
Connie at Notes from a Cottage Garden
Jenny at The Clem Family
Kate at Kate Smudges in Earth, Paint, and Life
Leah at The Findings of Me.
Phillip at Dirt Therapy
Rachel at No Really... This is My Life (maybe it will bring her out of her posting drought)
Susan at SM Squared
Sylvana at The Obsessive Gardener

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Flipping though the Pages... Which Magazines do I Recommend?

Katie at Gardenpunks asked, "Magazines - Which ones do you read/recommend?"

I subscribe to Food + Wine, Cooking with Paula Deen, and Better Homes and Gardens.

I like this magazine. My most favorite parts are the chef profiles and the features of restaurants all over the world. On our trip to London this year, we visited Gordon Ramsay's Maze on a recommendation from F+W. I don't often cook recipes from this magazine because the ingredients can be hard to find in small town Mississippi. But I love reading the recipes and staying in-the-know on cutting edge flavor combinations.

I was a big Paula fan when I ordered this magazine last year. I got a deal because I ordered a gift subscription for my aunt for Christmas. I quickly found out that couldn't cook anything in the entire damn magazine because the recipes are so unhealthy. Has anyone noticed that on her show lately Paula acts like she is drugged or something? She is like a Paula robot instead of the real thing. I dunno. The cake issue was awesome, but that was the only issue I kept recipes from. I won't resubscribe to this.

The past two years I've subscribed to BHG. The two years before that, it was Southern Living. I go back and forth between BHG and Southern Living because they are very similar. I do get better holiday decorating ideas from BHG though. I'll probably continue to do my rotation of BHG and SL.

The next few are the magazines I read or pick up at the store.
My grandparents subscribe to Organic Gardening and every time I go for a visit I find myself reading this one. Now that I have a vegetable garden, I plan to subscribe to this magazine. I just don't see how I can make it through my first growing season without it.

Cottage Living is my new favorite. I've picked it up every month since about June. Everything about this magazine just speaks to my style: the decor, the attitude, and of course the gardens. I'd love to live in one of the cottage communities they promote. I'm not a subscriber yet, but I plan to subscribe next month. I highly recommend this one.

Other magazines I pick up sometimes are Martha Stewart Living, Mother Earth News, Kiplinger's, dwell, and those random BHG special interest publications.

What about you?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Crafty Little Project

Hello there! Boy, am I proud of my latest craft project! What do you think of it? I call it a dried-flower window. Wouldn't it look just wonderful in your garden cottage? Haven't you been looking for a way to use all those dried flowers left over from this season's blooms?

I originally got this idea from a booth at the farmers' market in Birmingham. When I saw it, I thought, "Wow, that is super cute!" Then my mind got to working and I thought, "I could totally make that." I already had the window. I just needed the supplies.

Here are the supplies I used:
  • old window
  • foam board with printed grid
  • pencil
  • nail or screw with a pointed tip
  • faux stone spray paint
  • dried flowers in a multiple of colors, or a single color if that's what you want to do. I used purple, orange, green, and yellow.
  • florist wire
  • raffia
  • staple gun
  • staples
  • duck tape
  • picture hanging kit

Here's how I did it... First, decide which side of the foam board will be the back and the front. Mark off both sides of the board with outlines of each pane. Trim the foam board so it will fit just inside the outline of the window. You'll want to leave enough room so that the foam board may be stapled to the window later, but not so much that the foam board is peeking around the edges.

Next, on the foam board place an X in the center of each outlined pane. The grid really comes in helpful here. Then, take your nail or screw and poke holes, not too big, on either side of the X. This is where the florist wire will be threaded through to hold the flower bundles. Now that you know where each flower bundle will go, spray paint the front side of the foam board with faux stone paint. Let the paint dry according to package directions.

While the paint is drying, make your flower bundles. You'll want one bundle for each pane. Take a few stems of each dried flower, just enough to look substancial. Trim each stem to fit inside the pane. Arrange them on the floor to see how the colors look best together.

Once the spray paint is dry, you are ready to assemble the final product. Take a length of florist wire and bend it into a U shape. I used two lengths twisted together for more stability. Thread each end of the wire through the front of one of the holes. Do this for each pair of holes made for each pane. Now, take a flower bundle and stick it in the loop created by the florist wire on the front of the board. On the back of the foam board, pull tight and twist the ends of the florist wire to secure the bundle to the foam board. Do this for each pane.

Now that all the bundles are attached to the board, you can cover up the florist wire with a few strands of raffia. I simply threaded the strands in between the flower bundles and the foam board then tied it in a double knot in the front.

So how does yours look? Are you ready to attach the foam board to the window? If so, simply place the window face-down on the floor and center the foam board (also face down) on top. Before you attach the foam board with the staple gun, you may want to pick everything up and take a look at it to make sure it is centered. When you are ready to attach the foam board to the window, take your staple gun and put a few staples around the edges of the foam board to attach it.

Lastly, I put on some finishing touches to make it hangable. Take each twisted wire and secure it flatly to the back of the foam board with duck tape. If you don't already have a way to hang your window, attach a picture hanging kit to the back. And... take a look at your cute dried-flower window!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Making a raised bed for the irises

I've done some work on the raised bed I'm going to move the irises to. Not much progress, but some. We've been busy with football season and just life in general, and I haven't made much progress. I'm not really sweating it though. Too many other things in life to worry about.

Here's what I've done so far:

First, I dug up the cast iron plants so I can move them somewhere else. Remember, they were getting way too much sun under this tree, very yellowed and wilty in July and August. Next, I dug up two azaleas that were in front of the cast iron plants to make room for the new raised bed. I dug out and leveled off the place where I plan to put the bricks. Then I put the bricks in place. I only had sixteen bricks and it looks like I'll need about 24 more. The raised bed is only going to be two bricks high. All this took about 45 minutes. Not bad for a lunch-break garden project! Now if I could just convince my husband to go with me to buy some more bricks today then maybe I could finish this thing this week.

We finished clearing out the bed where the pool pump is. It looks a ton better already, but we still don't have the fence up. The fellow that was supposed to help us install it got sick on the day he was supposed to come over. We have an outline marked in the soil and everything.
I'd like a shortish (4 ft?) wood picket or lattice fence. Something that provides coverage but isn't so tall that it totally blocks the line of sight to that side of the yard.

That gate (right side of the photo) needs some help, too. It is falling over and seems to be sinking into the ground or something. Once we get the fence in place, we want to move some of the pool equiptment and toys (vaccuum, nets, floats, etc.) over here, too. I'm tired of looking at them all the time hanging out by my herb garden.

All in all, we are making progress!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knock Out Roses

One of my Bad and Ugly beds just got a lot better looking! Last weekend I found some gorgeous Knock Out roses at Lowe's for $15.95 each. I bought six of them to replace the dying, washed out azaleas. Wow, what a difference a few shrubs make!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Bad and Ugly, Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of the Bad and Ugly garden blog series. First I'll summarize what I've covered so far with Bad and Ugly Parts 1-3.

  • Part 1 - Dead plants in the compost bed.

  • Part 2 - More dead plants in the shady backyard bed.

  • Part 3 - Wimpy azaleas in the front porch bed.

Part 4 takes on the pool pump bed that lies between my bedroom window and a winding garden path. This bed gets a good dose of midday sun and could be beautiful. The only this is, I haven't done a darn thing with it. Until now. This bed is my BIG autumn project. Here is my plan.

I inherited a bed of purple irises behind my porch swing that are in full shade. Those are getting moved to this garden path bed where I have a few of the same purple irises that bloom well. This bed also has a good showing of autumn ferns and purple heart that need to be cleaned up and arranged a little better. That takes care of the left side of the bed.

In the middle of the bed is a Lady in Red hydrangea that I plan to leave there. Earlier this year my husband accidentally cut it to the ground with the weed eater, so you can't really see it in these photos. It is growing back pretty good, so I think once I get all the grass and baby trees pulled out of here it will have a good chance to survive. In the back of the bed, I'm thinking of a few things. I have a purple clematis Franziska Marie that isn't blooming where it is planted. It needs to move to a location where it gets more sun. It might look nice on some type of metal trellis between the two windows. I'm also considering a butterfly bush because I love them.

That brings us to the pool pump. Ugh. It is ugly, so we want to cover it a bit. Last week it was surrounded by azaleas. The plan is to put up some type of fence, a picket fence, around the pool pump. We needed some room to do that, so I moved two of the azaleas. See the holes? There is still a third azalea that needs to be moved.

I plan to do lots of work on this bed this weekend. Because of all the overgrown grass I've been trying to wait for a weekend cool enough for me to wear jeans while I worked. Anyone who has tried to pull weeds and grass from an overgrown bed in shorts knows that the mosquitoes will eat you alive! Your legs will be scarred for months.

Where did I move the azaleas, you ask? Well I moved them to the Bad and Ugly Bed 2 (which is looking tons better, I think). I took the first photo right after I moved them. I took the second photo this morning, after a nice rain.

Visit again this weekend! You'll see some progess (I hope!!) in the iris garden path bed.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Horseback Riding

This is crazy, but Chip and I are thinking about taking horseback riding lessons. I saw an article in the local paper about an equestrian program at Mississippi College, and it named a horse farm just a few miles from our house. As soon as I saw their website I wanted to take some lessons. We rode by the farm today, and omg it is beautiful! If we decide to do this, I may document our experience on the blog even though it doesn't have much to do with gardening.

I've always wanted to learn how to ride. Blame it on reading those Cormac McCarthy books. I'm really excited about this!

Another weekend post

I posted yesterday about my front porch bed and how I was thinking about replacing those azaleas with Knock Out roses. I've been reading more about knock out roses here. I first got the idea of putting those in my front porch bed when I saw a flower bed at church planted with knock out roses, salvia, and lantana. The combination was just gorgeous. I already have the lantana and the salvia, and I really think a hot pink flower would compliment my yard nicely. I still haven't made up my mind 100%, but I am really leaning toward this plant.

I've been sick this week with a seasonal cold. It started on Monday with sneezing and then by Wednesday I had a slight fever. Today I felt tons better and I really wanted to get out there and do some work. I did some light pruning and weeding, and twenty minutes into it I was wheezing and coughing my head off. It was just too much too soon. The high today was about 87F. Just too hot to be gardening with a chest cold.

There are a million to-do items on my list for fall, but with temperatures still up near 90F this week, I can't start on them. Some of the things on my list:
  • Shrubs (mostly azaleas) to move.
  • Perennials to purchase and plant.
  • An entire bed to clean out... I inherited a bed of irises planted in full shade. They never bloom. I plan to move them to the back of the house where the rest of the irises happily bloom every spring. In the full shade I plan to put in cast iron plant. I bought a bunch of it to put under one of my oak trees, but they get way too much sun there.
The thing is, I can't do any of that until the temps cool down a bit. None of these plants will take to their new spot too happily when it is close to 90F outside.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Bad and Ugly, Part 3

I love most parts of my front porch bed. It has taken a lot of time and money to get it to this point and I mostly like it. I've had some trouble with my azaleas recently, and I need some help!

Azalea Girard Renee Michelle. I loved these azaleas at first. On the left is a photo of them from April. They bloomed at the same time the Indian Hawthorne bloomed and it looked gorgeous. Then summer came and the three azaleas on the right side of my porch died. The three on the left side of the porch are just not attractive. Here are some recent photos of them:
These are alive and looking washed out.

These have given up and are dead, dead, dead.

I think they just get too much sun. The variety is Girard Renee Michelle. When I bought them, the plant information on the pot said Full Sun, but I just don't think that's true. The thing is, I bought these for their bloom color and because they are evergreen. Had they worked out they would have been perfect. I want something hot pink that will add some depth to my front porch bed. I'd also love it if I could find something evergreen so my front yard won't look so bland in the winter. I've been researching to find something to replace these with. So far I've come up with Knock Out Roses. From what I understand the Knock Out Roses are not evergreen down here in the deep south, but they probably would look great 8 months out of the year (March - October).

This is where I need your help! Does any one out there grow Knock Out Roses in the deep south? How long do they stay green? Also, if you have suggestions for the back of my bed (other than knockouts or azaleas), please please let me know!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We're Baa-aack!

We are back from our way too short vacation. It was wonderful! We went to London for 3 days, Paris for 2, then London for 3 more.

I visited the gardens at Regents Park and Hyde Park. We didn't make it out to Hampstead Heath or Kew Gardens. I definitely want to make it to those two the next time we go back. Next time? Yes, of course there will be a next time! Here are some of my favorite garden photos:

In the wealthy neighborhoods there are these private parks every few blocks or so. We took a walk around Sloane Square one morning and I peeked at one through the fence. All the gardens are very well kept.

Interestingly enough I saw yuccas all over Regents Park. London rarely freezes in winter, but with the high rainfall I was suprised to see these. Yuccas are native to hot, dry landscapes.

My husband, Chip, in one of the gardens at Regents Park. Some special flowers at Regents Park:

Purple aster and yarrow

Pink dahlias

Yellow roses: Phab Gold and Poetry in Motion. The blooms on Poetry in Motion were out of this world! Bigger than my fist, I think.

The pond in the Inner Circle at Regents Park.

Me, posing for a photo on the brige to the pond's island garden.

This was the outdoor courtyard at our first hotel in London: B+B Belgravia. That lime green tree in the top part of the frame was absolutely gorgeous. I wish I'd have gotten a better photo of it.

Lancaster Gate in Hyde Park. Our second hotel in London was just on the other side of that gate. What a bright color combination on this flower bed! What do you think of it?

The Rose Garden in Hyde Park near Hyde Park Corner.

Another bold color combination.

A bench in the Rose Garden.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Leaving for London

Today we get on a plane to London. Chip and I are super excited about getting out of town. We have been way overdue for a vacation, but with Chip's work as crazy as it is, it has been hard to get away.

We'll be away for nine days. The weather in Mississippi shows isolated thunderstorms or afternoon showers in the 10-day forecast, so helpfully our plants (and lawn) won't die while we are away. And if they do? Well, I'm going to London and I'll deal with it when I get back. I'm just not going to sweat it.

The forecast in London is gorgeous. This week it is warm (72F - 76F) with 10% chance of rain. Next week the chance of rain is higher and the temps a little cooler (65F). In Paris, the forecast looks perfect as well. Sunny with highs in the low 70s.

I can't wait to post photos! I plan to visit some gardens. At least Queen Mary's rose garden at Regents Park and possibly Kew Gardens or Hampstead Heath. I'd love to visit the David Austin nurseries one day, but I don't think that is in the cards for this trip. Maybe in 20 or so years Chip and I will be tired of the city and will do English countryside tours. In Paris we probably won't have much time for gardens since we are only there for 2 days. I'll take lots of photos... See you in a few days!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I've been cooking quite a few dishes from the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. We're not vegans, but I try to cook meatless meals every once in a while. I found the blog while I was looking for a good way to use patty pan squash I had gotten at the farmers' market in Jackson, Mississippi. Turns out the blog author, Susan, is from Jackson! I made her Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Cajun White Beans and it was fabulous. She probably got her patty pan squash from the same farmer at the market. Anyway, last night I tried her Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce, and it is another winner! Both of these meals were so flavorful that we didn't even miss the meat. I served the eggplant dish over brown basmati rice with a side of sauteed zucchini and onions.

I think the key to cooking tofu is to get it crispy and brown on the outside so it has some chewy texture to it and it doesn't feel like mush in your mouth. When I worked at Ruby Chinese in Oxford, Mr. Phat made the BEST deep fried tofu. I don't deep fry it at home, but I try to get that same crispy exterior by baking it in a hot oven or sauteeing it in a hot n0n-stick pan.

This week I plan to make another meal from the Fat Free Vegan's recipe box: Eight-Ball Zucchini Stuffed with Rice, Basil, and Sun-dried Tomatoes. I only have regular zucchinis, not the eight-ball kind so I'll have to make some adjustments. This recipe caught my eye because Chip loves sun-dried tomatoes.

Chip has eaten every bite of these dishes because they are really that good. Do yourself a favor and rediscover veggie cooking!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spiders on My Front Porch

In early-July a very large spider showed up on my front porch, making a big, bad web in one of the corners. We didn't notice it at first. Then one afternoon while Chip and I were enjoying a glass of wine on the front porch, I saw it. There it was perched just a few feet above Chip's chair. I freaked out, of course. Chip was kinda grossed out, too, because the darn thing was just so big.

I read about it at Dave's Garden, found out that it was a black-and-yellow argiope, that wasn't poisonous, and that it was probably a female. We decided to leave her there and leave her alone.

A few weeks later, I was sweeping off the porch and cleaning up the patio furniture when I saw that she had shed her outer skin! Yuck!! I must have jumped a mile when I saw that skin blowing in the wind on my front porch.

Then, just last week ANOTHER black-and-yellow argiope, a little smaller than the first, showed up and made a web right outside my office window. I read that this smaller one was probably a male.

Once again, we decided to leave him alone because he wasn't hurting anything by being there.

After a few days, Chip and I started to change our minds about these two. Anyone who walked up on to the front porch could easily see our spider collection, and we were beginning to feel a little like the Addams Family. Neither of us said that we thought the spiders should die, but neither of us really liked where they were. Sunday Chip went outside to turn off the sprinkler in the front yard. He got a little carried away with the water hose, and in a matter of minutes the spiders were sprayed from their webs and smooshed.

Had they been on the side of the house or somewhere a little less noticable, I'm sure these spiders would still be alive. I'm not the kind of person who will catch a bug in the house and then go let it out outside. Nope. If the bug is in my house it deserves to die. Inside is my realm. But outside is their realm. Outside we should be able to co-exist. I feel bad that the spiders got smooshed, but I certainly feel a lot less anxious about going on to the porch now.