Friday Flowers–Fennel Failure

Forgive the alliteration, coffee hasn’t kicked in.

You know what I’ve always wanted? An herb garden. Unfortunately, I am admittedly a  failure at it. I had a slight success with some rosemary a couple years back. Kept it alive for about five years. The basil did okay, but I don’t recall it lasting for more than maybe two seasons. But it went to pot and I’ve never tried it again.  I had lemon balm, it died, tried dill, ditto. (again with the alliteration!)

Recently, I went to this place my mom likes and was tickled pink to find they had herbs. So I found some fennel and thought what the hell.

Fennel, so says Grieves’ Modern Herbal, is: a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves, grows wild in most parts of temperate Europe, but is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, whence it spreads eastwards to India. It has followed civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-banks. It flourishes particularly on limestone soils and is now naturalized in some parts of this country, being found from North Wales southward and eastward to Kent, being most frequent in Devon and Cornwall and on chalk cliffs near the sea. It is often found in chalky districts inland in a semi-wild state.

For the medicinal use of its fruits, commonly called seeds, Fennel is largely cultivated in the south of France, Saxony, Galicia, and Russia, as well as in India and Persia.

Okay, good. If it’s been around in temperate areas for centuries how hard can this be?

I brought it home and repotted it, rocks in the bottom for drainage and such, just like dad taught me. At first, it did well. By the end of the first week, it looked like this:

fennel1

This is from week one, back in May, with watering it whenever it felt dry. Its previous owner is an organic genius so I figure it’s me and my yellow thumb (yeah, not so good for the druid thing, eh?)

Herm…. A good friend of mine says the stuff grows wild around her but she’s in the Northwest. I asked her advice and followed it…and the conventional wisdom around the web says likewise:

Moreover, it demands little attention from its host or hostess after having been made to feel at home; once sprouted in only moderately fertile, chalky soil, it requires little watering or feeding.

Okay so I snipped the dead piece off (it’s in my herb cabinet right now) and I tried the “dribble when I got worried” method, leaving the soil mostly dry. Yet still. It’s doing it again:

fennel614

Does this look, like Modern Herbal says:

4 to 5 feet or more in height, erect and cylindrical, bright green and so smooth as to seem polished, much branched bearing leaves cut into the very finest of segments. The bright golden flowers, produced in large, flat terminal umbels, with from thirteen to twenty rays, are in bloom in July and August.

To you??

I wish I had my heroine Caitlin’s touch. Brother, if that don’t make her books fantasies I don’t know what does. ;) Because she’s better than me, and what I wish I could garden like!

So, I gotta ask, if watering normally (’til the soil’s wet to the touch) is causing it to do this, and if dribbling it with water though letting the soil remain 90% dry  is causing it to do this….how do I save this plant? When you read the conventional wisdom it says “this plant’s easy to care for” and “watch out because it’ll take over!” but …uh, herm. I’m not seeing that in my little plant.  For the gardeners out there: any suggestions? I’m thinking this poor thing ain’t going to make it to the end of August let alone July, at this rate–or the second year that Florida Gardening says it should get to. And surviving to get me some of the seeds? Yeah, good luck with that. I know I’m in zone Hot as Huh…mmm… (that would  be zone 9) but you’d think a plant that’s suppose to take over would be harder to kill. What do I do besides call this another failure?

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author banner tutorial

Do you need a graphic? A banner? Think you have to pay for one? Au contraire! I’m going to show you a little secret. Got photoshop?or PSP? Good. (I used PSP X for this tut)

Step one:

Open your graphics program. Now open  a canvas of 468×60.


Step two:

Click on that empty layer.  Click on your little paint bucket tool, and fill it the layer with whatever color you’d like. Say a nice navy blue (#07013c).

 photo step2_zps78d03f07.jpg

Step three: Add some bling. First, add a new layer. To this you can add a filter (say, Xero Sparkles) or drop your bling across it. Play with the opacity until you’re happy. For instance I didn’t like the opacity of the sparkles the first time out so I lowered it to 36, so it wouldn’t overwhelm the text.

Maybe add a pretty object:

You might want to add a little Eye Candy to the object like I did, with Eye Candy 4o00′s Gradient Glow. (I used the color #01313d, Glow width 12.79 and soft corners set at 16 with an opacity of 53) There’s one caveat with Gradient Glow though. To me, sometimes, no matter what opacity you use or what color the result is just muddy, and when that happens, I hate it. So do what you like best here.

Now you can add your text: I always make the text as a selection; that way, if you’d like to add some texture to it, it’s easy to do. This time, I just stuck with it as is, promote selection to layer, then Select None. The text you put on it is up to you. I did my name on this one, but you can do a tagline, or what-have-you. Add a Drop Shadow (I used Vertical=”1″ horizontal=”-1″ opacity=100, blur=396 color=black)

Step four: If you want to you can add a border. I warn you though, once you do, all your layers will be closed permanently and you won’t be able to make a change. If you think you might change something later, save a copy with all layers open. Then add your borders to just one or the other of the copies. Now, most banner exchanges have guidelines about sizes so this is where it gets tricky. Our starting banner size, remember, was 468×60. Add a 1 pixel border and things grow. To add the border  click “image-> “Add Borders”, then on the menu you get make sure the Symmetric box is clicked and type 1 in one of the “size” boxes. With Symmetric checked, it should auto-fill in all the others.

Pick a color, there’s a trick to this. Pick a color that you didn’t use in your banner. So, say for mine, I’d pick yellow.Click Okay. and Okay again. Viola! Yellow border.

Step 5: Pull out your little magic wand tool and click that border. This is a little tricky sometimes so if it’s easier magnify the heck out of the picture. Don’t worry about how pixelated this looks. It’s just so you can select the border. No one’s going to see it like this. Now click the border to select. It still might not be magnified large enough. That’s fine, just magnify it more until you can get your little bucket in there. I’ve had to magnify them to 300 sometimes.

Here’s the fun part. Pick a pattern you like, and pour it into the selected border. For instance you can use tiger stripes or gold or whatever pattern you like best.

Merge all layers, export as a jpg and save. You might have to resize it to force it back to 458×60 but that’s not hard. Just do image->resize and type in your desired numbers. Save export as jpg and you’re good to go.

If you want to noodle with the banner again, make sure you unmerge those layers before you save.

Your final result will look something like this:

or live on the site:

This. You can add whatever kind of pictures you want (do mind copyright however), cover art you may have or what have you to your banner to personalize it.

See, now? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now tell me, is there any reason for you to pay someone to do it for you, when you can do it yourself? >:)

Pagan blog prompts–home remedies

As usual, I’m late on this. The Pagan blog prompt for last week was about home remedies. Generally, I consider myself fairly healthy. I have general headaches now and then, back pain whatever. It’s the price of getting old, right? When that happens I’ll opt for good ole aspirin and heat.  Aloe, of course, is good for burns and cuts. I keep one just outside my kitchen for that. It’s also good for, believe it or not, pimples.

For colds, the tried and true sleep, chicken soup, and tea with lemon and honey help me.  I go easy on the lemon, heavy on the honey, but I have a sweet tooth. Then there’s my hubby’s grandmother who swears by gargling with vinegar mixed in about a fourth of a normal sized drinking glass of water. *ewww* (OMG, so nasty!). My dad always had us kids gargle with a glass full of salt water. Yes, they both taste awful, but you know? They work. They’re also where I got the idea that a spoonful of sugar and water might cure hiccups (might being the operative word).

"Oil" by Idea go/freedigitalphotos.net

“Oil” by Idea go

Got an earache? Dip a cotton ball in warm olive oil and put the wet cotton ball in your affected ear. *hand on heart* Yep, I’ve used that one all my life. Hubby thought I was nuts the first time he saw me do it, but was surprised when the earache went quickly away. *nods* Dad taught me that, and I think he must’ve got it from his Italian parents. I know it sounds odd, but I swear by it. :) A little more on the olive oil line, I’ve used it for dry nails and cuticles and now and then when my skin is extra dry in  the winter. So, olive oil too. but for the aloe, sounds a bit like we’re fond of making salads around here, doesn’t it?

Anyway, that would be my list.

Holidays

I’ve not gone missing…I’m thawing…or freezing depending on the day. ;) And Christmas, well, had to go see the family…it’s a bit of a downer since we’ve lost some members recently but we do love to get together. While trying not to think too much on the downer stuff,  I’ve been enjoying the Venture Brothers. I don’t know if any of you have seen that but it is hilarious!

The bizarre animated escapades of pseudo-heroic scientist Dr. Rusty Venture, his competent, high strung bodyguard, and his two over-enthusiastic sons.

(#goteamventure

hehe)

Solstice was fun, if cold. I got a new drum. Ya!!! Isn’t it pretty?S/W Ver: 97.04.30RI’ve never been a drummer before, but I do love the monthly drumming circles.

For Christmas I was working very diligently on something writing-like–and except for the cookies I made didn’t get it done on time. Hope to have it done  to release soon. It’s formatting currently.

In the meantime, did you see I was interviewed in Eternal Haunted Summer this week? It’s up here if you’d like to see. I also have a new story there as well as do some other very talented authors and poets. Do check the new issue out if you have a chance. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Flowers in winter

Being Friday I promised y’all something pretty. Yes, I know we are now into December, but where I’m at, the flowers are still out. I procured some lovely ones this week, so I thought I’d share them with you.snapdragons

Okay, maybe just one. The red is the prettiest, anyway, don’t you think? Yes, this is my latest attempt at flowers. Snapdragons. So far they survived the potting. They’re supposed to do well in cooler temps so I hope they won’t die on me. Of course, we’ve been in the 80s here, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I do hope I can get them to stick around. I tried them once from seeds but they didn’t really survive too long. We shall see. Meanwhile, I’ve finished up my Christmas cards–ya!!

So, are any of you growing flowers this winter?

New ritual cords, my guillotine haircut, and other stuff in the works

Not my haircut nor my ritual cords…. Beth’s. Beth is a friend, multi-talented and a wonderfully creative woman. Go check out her blog about her newest experiments. Can’t wait to see those candles come online! :) And if you know anyone who knits, she makes her own yarn, and some interesting goodies with it, (necklaces and such) so send them over for a peek too. Enjoy!

via New ritual cords, my guillotine haircut, and other stuff in the works.

Although, I must admit, once a year about this time is when I want to whack off my hair too. The hubby hasn’t let me the last few…. He’s got a point. Short hair doesn’t help keep ye ole ears warm in winter. ;)