Friday, October 30, 2020

DIY "Harvest Blessings" Sachet to Print

If you are hosting a Thanksgiving get-together -- if it's allowed where you are living -- you might want to have a little party favor for your guests. And if you're lucky enough to be a guest, it might be fun to bring a little hostess gift along. 

Some don't care for the smell of chrysanthemums, but I love it. It seems so spicy and fresh: Bracing, like the essence of a cold snap.

Use the link to get the full-sized printable stored by Google. If you use the image below, it will be a smaller file and won't print at the proper resolution or size. It's perfectly safe and the link should open in a new window.

It will be just myself and my husband for Thanksgiving this year, and of course the pets. The pets are our lives: Two kitty rescues, and two doggie rescues. Scruffy little things we love beyond belief.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose


Free printable harvest blessing sachet mums

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Rare Hallowe'en Blue Moon Approaches

For the first time since 1944, a full moon visible to the entire world will happen on Hallowe'en night. 

A "blue moon" is the second full moon within a month. Thus the saying, "Once in a blue moon," as that's not a common occurrence. But a full moon visible the world over, instead of just certain sections, that falls on Hallowe'en is much rarer.

I have to wonder about those who were gazing up at the 1944 full moon, back when WWII raged and Hallowe'en was so very different.

Full moons and Hallowe'en bring homemade popcorn balls to mind. I am old enough to remember homemade treats handed out at Hallowe'en. One neighbor made fantastic popcorn balls, flavored with vanilla and studded with cocktail peanuts still wearing their red skins, now coated with hardened sugar syrup. 

Full moons feature prominently on antique and vintage Hallowe'en postcards. Here is one, below.


Antique vintage Halloween postcard with witches and a full moon

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

As Predicted, An Early Snowfall

You may recall an earlier post where I said the nature signs I read showed that we would have an early snowfall, with winter buffeting its way in before autumn had her turn. And that is what has happened, with the earliest and heaviest snowfall on record in my area, and much of the U.S. with unseasonably cold and snowy days.

My seed gleaning has come to a complete stop until the snow melts, and sadly, many of the seeds I've had my eye on will not be able to ripen for next year. I'm glad I gathered as much as I could before this snowy snap.

Lantana blossom in the snow

My lovely fiesta-colored lantana was blooming so beautifully in one of the fire rings I use as planters in my front courtyard. Lantanas love warmth, so it will die to the ground now. I hope the roots survive. I have pine straw from our front pines as a mulch over much of my courtyard. 

Stay warm, wherever you be!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Scary Spider Advertising Card from Yesteryear

Spider webs are made from spider silk, and are very strong. Old lore says that spider webs laid over a cut can stop the bleeding, and heal the wound, preventing infection.

When I was taking Anatomy and Physiology, I eventually noticed that the vast majority of important and active biological compounds seemed to be proteins. So it isn't surprising that spider silk, a protein, is very biologically active. It is also full of Vitamin K, which is used to help stop bleeding and to heal cuts.

Spider webs used for healing is very, very old lore, dating perhaps to the time of Christ. Later, it is even mentioned in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, by the unfortunate weaver, "Nick Bottom." I wonder if Shakespeare meant for one weaver to invoke another.

Here is a turn of the century trading card featuring a jolly giant spider who has easily trapped a tiger with her silk. Spiders were not always as feared as they seem to be today: Once, they were considered quite lucky, and the Germans (of course it's the Germans) even have a Christmas folktale starring a sweet spider who decorates a tree for the Christ Child with her silk. I believe the song "The Little Drummer Boy" to have borrowed the idea of someone (or something, in the case of the spider) with no worldly goods, honoring the birth of Jesus with a humble and heartfelt gesture within their ability to give.

old spider antique trading card sewing

Thank'ee for dropping by.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 26, 2020

Urban Gleaning: Seed Saving Time

In my area, this is the time to be gleaning the urban landscape and saving seeds.

I love plants and always look for unusual or beautiful plantings as I go about my life. Beginning in September, I began stopping at various public plantings and noting any seed pods or seed heads. Now I use my notes to return to areas and gather seeds from the sidewalks and streets. 

I am extremely lucky to have access to a very rare fruit tree that had a bumper crop this year. It is a steady seller on Etsy for me. Piggybacking on that rare tree, I have been adding unusual desert plants to my seed bank, and they also are now selling. I expect a big burst of sales in spring, and by that time many traditional plant seeds I've gathered, such as wisteria, will have finished drying, and be ready to plant.

Today I gathered four kinds of seeds within steps of each other: Desert Willow and its orchid-like blooms, Mexican Bird of Paradise with bright red-and-yellow-catch-a-fellow blossoms, Golden Rain Tree (we also called it Golden Chain Tree) with its pink "paper lantern" seed pods, and another lucky find, the Desert Museum Palo Verde with its yellow five-petaled speckled flowers and edible pods.


urban gleaning showing three different seed plants palo verde, mexican bird of paradise, broom

Yes, the Palo Verde has delicious seeds in the pods, much like endame. When green, the pods can be blanched and the seeds eaten plain or salted. They can also be blanched, then roasted with spices. Due to the unusual bloom activity so late in the season, trees have blossoms, fully dried pods and new green pods at the same time right now. With snow flurries expected tomorrow, I think that will end soon!

I am grateful for the bounty these public plantings are providing me, and happy that more people now get to plant these seeds and enjoy the unique plants. I trade seeds in several seed-trading groups, too. Trading is a wonderful way to get seeds you've always wanted, usually for the price of a stamp or two.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hallowe'en Is Around the Corner

I can't believe how close Hallowe'en is now. My very favorite time of the year!

Last Hallowe'en, B.C.19 (Before COVID-19), I was sitting in my vintage metal porch chair, near my front door, waiting for trick-or-treaters to arrive. The porch light was on, and so were all my Hallowe'en light strings.

A man came quickly through my gate into the courtyard, and up to the front door. When he got to the door, I said, "Happy Hallowe'en." Did he ever jump! I was in plain sight, but I had a cloak and witch's hat on. Perhaps he thought I was one of those "porch sitter" decorations.

It turned out he was running for mayor. I told him a career politician in my courtyard was the scariest thing I would see that night. He was not amused. 

Here is a little old-time poem about Hallowe'en. May your preparations for this Hallowed Eve be going smoothly!

old time halloween poem by the merry needle

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Antique Images on Olde Postcards: Free Autumn Printables

I love the digital window to the world, but I miss snail mail, too. That's one reason I collect ephemera, especially colorful cards and postcards as well as paper dolls.

These are printable digital images based on a scan of an old postcard, with vintage images of autumn added.

Mayhap they will find a place among your decorations and vignettes.

 As always, use the link to pop these up and save them. If you use the preview image in this blog post, it will be too small and not print nicely. The link is perfectly safe and is a Google storage link.

I have some autumn hang tags in the rustic style up in my Etsy shoppe, MerryNeedle. Click HERE to visit the shoppe, or the image up to the right on the sidebar.

And here is the LINK to click: Autumn Postcards a la Yesteryear 

Free printable colorful old time postcards ephemera Victorian autumn

         Kind regards,

        Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

World War II Pyracantha Berry Jelly

pyracantha berries firethorn in autumn fall jelly


Towards the end of the Depression and the advent of World War II, my maternal grandmother and mother would make pyracantha jelly. After the war, she still made it every so often. When I was young, my mother would send me to find and pick the large panicles of elderberries, and to also pick trusses of pyracantha berries. She made more elderberry jelly than pyracantha jelly, but I was more in awe of the pyracantha one. We lived in a new subdivision in New Orleans at that time; it was actually suburban exploration. I would ride my bike for many, many miles, gone for hours, often along the River Road or into Old Algiers, on these errands. Those were different days. 

I was very scared of the large stinkbugs that liked to sit on top of the elderberries, but when sent on an errand, returning without completing it was unthinkable. The pyracanthas meant very sore hands and wrists, because the other name for pyracantha is "firethorn," and indeed their large thorns were quite a painful torment. I had very small hands, so I could avoid many thorns, but not all. I would return with many painful welts.

My mother always said she needed the pyracantha berries not for their flavor, which was bland at best, but for their color. 

During the war, lemons were quite expensive and a treat. This was not an especially cheap jelly for them to have made, due to the cost of the lemon. Sugar rationing also meant this had to be planned for carefully. But the pyracantha berries were free.

Lemons and apple juice were used in my mother's recipe. I have it somewhere, but after this last move, I don't have them "to hand" at present. I do remember that she would seal this particular jelly with melted paraffin, then a lid.

Here is the best I can recall as to her recipe. I do remember that the berries would "pop" when boiled enough, and that she never squeezed or mashed them.

Be careful with any old or untried recipe! Perhaps ask your Cooperative Extension agent -- if they are still extant -- if the recipe sounds safe. Of course, we lived through it, but -- you never know.

Pyracantha Jelly

2 - 3 pounds pyracantha berries
Enough cold fresh water to barely cover the berries
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained (can add more; my mother would often add more to make a more flavorful jelly). Either a big lemon or more than one will be needed.
Apple juice (clear) in case you need extra to make the cooked juice equal 3 1/2 cups
7-1/2 cups sugar
1 package powdered fruit pectin

Wash the berries and remove any stems. Place in large pot (not aluminum). Cover, bring to boil, and simmer about 25 minutes (the berries must "pop their jackets.") You are wanting the juice to be a fine color. Strain juice through a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth put over a large fine strainer. DO NOT push or press the berries or you will get cloudy jelly and maybe bitter, too. Measure the juice you have. You will need 3 1/2 cups. Add apple juice to the pyrancantha juice, if needed, to make the 3-1/2 cups. Take your lemon(s) and roll them hard on the counter. Roll and roll them, pressing on them, but don't split them. Now they will "let go juice" more easily. Cut in half and get the juice. Add the lemon juice and pour it all into either another clean pot or the pot you were using that you have rinsed.

Stir in the sugar as the juice heats and bring to a good boil, stirring constantly. Skim any additional foam that forms, then add the pectin. Keep stirring and bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, skim and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Top with melted paraffin. Makes about five 1/2-pint jars.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thimble, Thimble

Luckily, much of my recent needlework has been cross-stitching, created with a rounded, blunt needle. But when I pick up regular embroidery, using pointed needles, I also pick up a thimble from my collection. 

tinware with thimbles inside

My favorite is a simple silver-plated thimble from the 1940s. It's very light. Thimbles featuring advertising were popular in times past.

I have a strange connection between my thumb and my nose, which makes me think there is something to acupuncture. If I jab my thumb with a needle, I get an unpleasant "electrical" tingling in my nose and can smell a very strange scent -- a scent I have never smelled except after a jab. So, does a nerve run from thumb to nose, or from thumb to brain and back down to the nose? 

I have enough thimbles to last the rest of my days. I have been to estate sales where the former owner has several hundred thimbles neatly on display in small cabinets. 

Until tomorrow,

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lore: The Curfew Bell...

We think of a curfew as a time to retire; as teens long ago, many had parental "curfews" meant to keep them safe and back in their homes, with curfews on school nights much earlier than those on the weekend or in summer. But the curfew bell does double duty, for the world of the living and the world of the unseen...

In olden times, towns and cities often had curfews set by the authorities. The "curfew bell" would ring loud and plain around 8 p.m., warning townspeople to get inside and prepare for bed. Townspeople hurried home, not wanting to be fined or jailed for being out after the last peal of the bell. Shutters, which were working protections at the time, unlike their decorative cousins of today, were hung or unfolded, and locked. Doors were locked as well, and many times so were gates. Fires were banked for the night, and children were put abed. Thus secured, adults sat by the still-warm stove and whiled the rest of the evening away until bedtime.

victorian painting of the curfew bell scared young lady

The curfew bell was a signal that the day was over -- to us in the realm of the living and the mundane. But to the denizens of "the other side," and the magical folk, the curfew bell was a glad sound, indicating they could now go abroad in the night, flitting and frisking until morning. As the last peal of the bell faded away, fairies and ghosts sashayed into the empty streets, until their own curfew sounded -- the first cock crow.

I love folklore, and this time of year, I enjoy scaring myself a bit with the less-upsetting lore. Do you know any low-octane spooky lore?

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, October 16, 2020

Granny's Depression-Era Make Do Clothes Hangers

My maternal grandmother was a woman of many unusual talents. She had played high school basketball before the turn of the twentieth century, yet she also excelled at all the housewifely arts of sewing, keeping a home, cooking, and gardening. She had chickens and a milch cow, and a garden second only to my own mother's in terms of rare and unusual plants. 

She was six feet tall in bare feet, but we never saw her in bare feet. She always wore heels. Even her slippers were tall heels. She said she had worn them for so long that she could not walk in flats. I thought her very elegant in those heels.

Granny was a magician at the art of making do. These clothes hangers were wrapped with long strips of leftover cloth, and decorated with a gathered cloth flower. And this was done during the Depression, when every last scrap was important and was used. She also made braided rag rugs of all sizes, and her sense of color was astounding.

Depression era make-do handiwork cloth

They say interests tend to "skip" a generation: My own mother did not care for such endeavors. Deeply marked by the privations of the Depression and the shock of World War II, she and my father rarely spent money, but they both preferred to buy, in a very limited manner, our home's decor. I grew up fascinated by my Granny's handiwork, though, and spent many hours embroidering and hand-sewing little items in imitation of hers.

In the rush of my most recent move, I had to leave many things behind. All of my padded hangers, laboriously collected from various estate sales over a period of 20 years, were left. I like the slim profile of the old wire hangers, so I think I may try to wrap a few hangers myself now. 

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Rescuing Paper Doll Ephemera

I didn't have as many toys as a child as my peers did, but that was fine with me. My interests were not typical, perhaps because I could not see well, being extremely nearsighted and having no glasses at the time. Ever since I could remember, I loved ephemera. My treasures were things like confetti, the miracle of round glitter instead of the usual squares, diecut cardboard (especially Beistle Company's Halloween offerings), honeycomb paper designs, and paper dolls and animals. I also loved tiny books.

When I come across paper dolls, I try to buy them, especially if they are paper animals. Online, I rescue and refurbish images of dolls and paper animals. 

Here then is a refurbished paper doll girl in her original dress and also with a mirrored image holding a pumpkin, and her lovely stove, printed by now-defunct Lion Coffee Company. A kitty hunkers down by the warm stove, biding her time until she gets some of the cream intended for the coffee. I hope someone who also treasures these things will come across this some day and enjoy! Could be cute as part of a prim display or diorama.

Use the LINK if you think you might want to save this and print it out. It prints out on letter-sized paper or cardstock. The image below is just a preview and won't print nicely, so use the Google link. It is perfectly safe and should open in a new window.

To download and print: CLICK HERE

free printable paper doll from Lion Coffee antique ephemera

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Crafting Thrift: Strange and Wonderful

I like to go to estate sales (well, I enjoyed going before COVID, since now they are all online in my area), not really to try to grab some fine item at a reduced price, but to look for thrifty crafts of yesteryear. I also buy any lots of old Christmas cards from mid-century to earlier. If they are used, so much the better.

Some treasures bought include long coils of folded and interlocked gum wrappers, bracelets made from fishing lures and uneven old seed beeds, coasters stitched from scraps of calico sewn over several pieces of cardboard, and trivets crocheted around old pop bottle tops.

I like to make these sorts of "treasures" myself; I have always enjoyed these make-do oddities. In that vein, I decided to use the wax rind of a mini gouda cheese to make "berries" for a plain dried twig. It was easy to roll up some little balls and just push them onto the twig here and there. 

Crafting thrift make do's wax berries from rinds.

The other wax rinds were pressed into pinecones from the yard, and the cones put into paper fast food bags. I add a few small twigs into the bag, twist it closed, and I have an excellent fire-starter. I also like to use the spent wax from my tart warmers for these fire-starters.

Do you have any strange and thrifty make-do's from yesteryear or today?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Antique Color Advertising "Trade Cards"

About 150 years ago, there was not too much in the way of bright colors in most humble people's lives. Their clothes tended to be drab, they had few decorations, and they could not afford even the smallest, most rudimentary painting. They ate on plain crockery or wooden planks, and did not have the colorful china the wealthier citizens possessed. Businesses soon realized there was a real hunger for color among these households, and invented not only colorful advertising "bills" that would be glued throughout towns, but later small lithographed "trade cards" featuring the name of their product accompanied by pretty or fanciful images. Both adults and children prized and treasured these cards, which were most often free or in later days, included in a package of the goods sold.

Soon not only the poor, but the middle and upper classes wanted these trade cards. In fact, these cards were so desirable that the best room in the home, the "parlor," featured albums of these cards. For those without a spare room and without the funds for an album, they might be stored in a box or kept in a tin. Baby boomers such as myself remember practically wearing out the Sears Wishbook; so too the children and adults of the late 1800s perused, re-perused, and perused again these cards. Mothers and children first latched onto the cards; when racy or sports-themed cards began to be produced as well, men began saving them, too.

It all waned after the advent of fancy magazines in color, in the early 1900s. But many of these cards survive, having once been treasured possessions.

Here we have a few "autumn-themed" Victorian trade card images to peruse yourself or even print. They would look cute in an old-fashioned display tucked in a corner or perhaps a dough bowl. 

REMEMBER, click the link to save the images, or you won't get the full-sized image. I store the full-sized ones via Google. The link is safe and goes to Google Drive or Google Photos. I'm trying to find a way around that, but so far, no luck.

Click HERE ON THIS LINK to save!

free printable autumn victorian trade cards

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 12, 2020

Autumn Blooms Abounding

Here in the desert, the plants seem to catch their breath when the first glimmers of autumn arrive and the entire region is released from the scorching heat. And then, in a long exhale, the blooming begins. Plants that sat patiently in the blazing sun, foliage lightened and curled by the intense rays, are suddenly full of buds and blossoms. The bees are going crazy, and it's easy to spot many kinds of them, including honeybees, yellow-and-black bumblebees, and shiny purple-black carpenter bees. Our favorite imposters arrive, too: Hoverflies by the hundreds.

Other areas in the East and North enjoy the turning of autumn leaves, and we get a small taste of that, too. But our "autumn color" is definitely the profusion of blooms.

I think my favorite is the Coral Vine, also known as Queen's Wreath. And indeed, it is beautiful enough to substitute for a priceless crown and grace the head of a monarch.

I used the word "grace," and the first thing noticeable about this vine is its airy grace. Only the Silver Lace Vine can rival it, I do believe. And the Silver Lace Vine is vying with the Queen's Wreath during autumn, both blooming at the same time, and sometimes tumbling over the same wall or climbing up the same fence.

Coral Love Vine, Queen's Wreath, Flowers

I found a "wild" Coral Vine today, spilling over a broken adobe wall in a very modest part of town: Very old, very modest, and very worn, but now undergoing some gentrification. If you, like me, enjoy rare old-fashioned plants, drive through the oldest part of your area or to an abandoned homestead in the country, and see if there are some seeds you can gather. If I find seeds on the sidewalk or against a curb, I gather them. If it's a deserted place, I do reach over and take them. Someone, long ago, planted these "pass-along" plants, and I think they would be pleased to see me growing them and sharing the seeds. 

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Coral Vine, Queen's Wreath, flowers

Friday, October 9, 2020

Free Printable Hallowe'en Fun Food Labels

Spooky cards for fun foods!


free Halloween printable halloween party food labels

Here is a redo of a free printable I offered years ago on a different blog. I hope that we are able to have some sort of safe Hallowe'en get-togethers despite COVID-19. Perhaps families who live together could have a little party, or offices where everyone works together could have a cute lunch.

Most of these labels are designed to be able to stand for more than one type of food or drink, although Jellied Puffer Fish is rather specific to Swedish Fish. Swamp Scum, for example, could be guacomole, Lime Sherbet Island Punch, or baby-leaf salad. Toad Legs can be wings or celery sticks or something really scary, such as a fish stick. Zombie Eyeballs could be olives, melon balls, really anything remotely round. Gargoyle Gulp can be any punch or drink. Wands & Snitches can be pretzel sticks and peanuts or M&Ms. And so on, and so forth.

Hallowe'en is one of my absolutely favorite holidays, mainly because it refuses to be tamed. It is a very old, very earthy fest, full of mysticism. I stay up all night on most holidays, and most especially on Hallowe'en. I can almost remember what it felt like to be young, on All Hallow's Eve.

But of course, I'm ancient now. So ancient, that I do not wish to give up the spelling of Hallowe'en as I was taught it, with the apostrophe, to remind us it was a hallowed evening. I also miss using the ligature "æ" in many Latin words, such as æsthetic. Precision in scholarship was still important, during my early education. Later, it was ruined by the "modern" 1970s, but luckily I had a firm foundation by then.

As always, use the LINK to save the printable. If you save the picture, it will not print nicely, due to Google shrinking images in websites and limiting their width, but allowing them to be their original size when saved in Google Drive.

Link: Click HERE for the full-sized printable.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Using Early Snowfalls in the Garden

I feel we may have early snows this year. If your area gets a snowfall before the ground freezes, be sure to till in the snow in your vegetable patch, if you have a tiller. If you don't, drag a rake up and down the soil, trying to stir the soil and mix in the snow. Autumn snows tilled into soil are called "poor man's fertilizer," and will give you bountiful yields next year.

For your house plants, gather up clean snow and fill buckets with it. Put inside the house to melt, and pour into old water jugs, and cap. This snow-water will act as an elixir for your indoor plants. Dole it out like medicine. 

It's not fun, but try to keep your garden beds and under trees leaf-free so that you are ready to take advantage of a snowfall, and to take away the shelter for destructive insects. The good insects will find hiding places in your compost pile, along with the bad ones. The bad ones won't be right by their preferred food source any longer, which is very helpful come spring. 

If the snowfalls are heavy enough this autumn, heap up snow around bushes and trees. Knock it off the branches as much as you can by shaking them or hitting them with a fishing pole, but don't be afraid of the snow being heaped up around the plant. It will not freeze it "more;" it will actually insulate it and provide a very long "drink" for the plants as it melts. 

If you can, use good plain sand on your walks and stepping stones. The salts used to melt snow are not good for plants. But most of all, do what you need to in order to stay safe and not fall. Plants can be replaced; so can hips, but what a cost to health and pocketbook!

Here's hoping for one or two early snows for our garden darlings. 

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Colorful Antique-style Seed Saver Packets to Print

Well my dears, today we have a colorful version of the small printable seed packets posted on Monday.

These feature old images of pretty flowers and vegetables, so you can use one for flowers, one for food seeds.

I think these would make it extra-special if giving gifts of your collected seeds, especially if you are out of glassine envelopes or mylar pouches, and don't have time to get any. 

In these times, it is more important than ever to have an eye to the future, and future needs that may look more like pioneer days than we expect. If you can, have seeds on hand, and plant fruit trees and vines that can help you get vitamin C and other nutrients. 

If you live in an apartment or rental home, consider growing mint in a bright window. It is medicinal as well as delicious. I consider it a very important item to have growing in the home. It has vitamins C, K, and B-6 as well as E, and it has folate and manganese. It has magnesium, calsium, iron, potassium, and riboflavin (another type of B-vitamin). It can settle a stomach quickly, too. 

Sadly, many have forgotten that within the lifetimes of our eldest citizens, Victory Gardens were vital to the survival of individuals and the society. My widowed grandmother kept a "milch cow" in town, and chickens, and grew many unusual fruits and vegetables, during World War II.

My own father would have starved, had he not been adept at foraging for wild foods and hunting squirrels during the Depression. He hated shooting the squirrels, and after the war never picked up a gun again, but he hated the sight of his tiny siblings crying in hunger more. 

If you get a chance, read "Once Upon A Town: The Story of the North Platte Canteen." It will amaze you. The farmers and ranchers of North Platte, Nebraska, the very heart of the heartland, provided so much food to the troop trains during World War II. Day in, day out, blizzards or scorching summer days, every troop train was met with an abundance of baked goods, fruits, vegetables, and meals. Popcorn balls studded with peanuts, pink-iced cakes, cookies and rolls were served by the tens of thousands, too. And this was before high-tech agriculture and GMO. This was clever thought, hard work, generous and no-nonsense spirits. It was quite unusual, in that the women who ran the canteen ignored the segregation of the day and served everyone, with no differences. They didn't have time to be petty. The fate of the world was at stake, and their part was important, and they knew it.

So save those seeds, including flower seeds that "do nothing" -- except brighten hearts. Seeds provide us with the means to have food for the stomach and the soul. 

As always, DON'T save the image! Use the LINK provided, because only the link gives you access to a full-sized file that will print correctly.

LINK to Google Drive file HERE.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Will It Be A Harsh Winter? The Signs Say...

I was taught this little rhyme many years ago:

Man is but a mortal fool:
When it's hot, he wants it cool.
When it's cool, he wants it hot.
He only wants what he has not.

Very true! I have seen a slightly different version of that poem credited to Benjamin Disraeli, who probably had had it up to THERE with people's complaints.

There's also this saying, pithy and still true: "The wealthy get their ice in summer; the poor theirs in winter." It sounds like something from the 1920s.

Besides mooning for something, anything, we don't have, humans also like to know what is going to happen, weatherwise. Thus, there is a tremendous, and most probably worthless, lot of lore about whether there will be a harsh or a mild winter coming our way.


I have been examining several weather signs, and so far, they all agree: Harsh winter.  

The onions have a thick, insulating layer this year, and corn husks are thick
The leaves have begun turning early
Thick clustering of pinecones, far more than usual
Owls calling and hunting heavily
Doves bedding down earlier
Tiny ants running in a line
Big ants tugging too-big seeds backwards

However, mice behavior isn't indicating a harsh winter. They are going about their mouse business as usual.

2020 was bound to try to end strangely! But remember this: A hard winter brings a lucky spring.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 5, 2020

Seed Saving and Printable Seed Packet

All of ye know I like to recall the olde lore and use it in my life today. Much of the lore I know pertains to plants and planting.

I like to gather seeds and save them for next year. Keep seeds dry and safe in a gnaw-proof container in a dark, cool place during the winter months, unless you are growing a seed that likes to remain dormant, such as Texas Mountain Laurel. If you have such seeds, I suggest placing them on an old washcloth or pie plate with some leaves in it, and letting them ride out the winter on your porch or patio, or next to the trunk of an evergreen. 

In the spring, always plant during a waxing moon, unless you are growing something that develops underground, such as peanuts, beets, radishes, or carrots. Plant those during the waning phase.  

Because of hybridizing and cross-pollination, sometimes the seeds you gather won't be true to the parent plant. If you save zinnia seeds, you'll grow zinnias, but it might not be the same size, shade, or petal shape as the original. Some plants easily pollinate with other like kinds but some don't. In my Texas Mountain Laurel example, with no other laurels around usually, you are going to get seeds that are true to the parent, having been fertilized by another Mountain Laurel. But corn, many flowers, and many vegetables will not be true. It can be fun to see what comes up, however! And, it can be a huge disappointment.

Here are two links, one to a generic printable seed envelope, and another one just for pumpkins, since many a pumpkin is destined to be a Jack o'Lantern soon. Insofar as the pumpkins go, you may end up with the seed being "true," especially if the farmer who grew your Jack O'Lantern had only one type of pumpkin and there were no others pumpkins or squash being grown within half a mile or so, or you might end up with an interesting cross -- or in the case of undesirable results, a double-cross, so to speak.

Click the LINKS to save. Google reduces the size of images in blogs, and if you simply save the image, it will not print correctly.

Pumpkin Printable Seed Packet  

Plain Printable Seed Packet

Tomorrow, the news about whether it will be a hard or a mild winter, according to the signs and the signs this year are very strange. Of course: It's 2020.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Rise of the Unusual Pumpkin

I can remember in the late 1960s and until perhaps 1995, when the main pumpkin for sale at Hallowe'en was the "Howden Pumpkin," the typical bright orange, sturdy pumpkin developed specifically to be carved into Jack O'Lanterns. There were pie pumpkins in with the produce in grocery stores, but the big piles and bins of pumpkins were Howdens, with some Connecticut Field pumpkins dating to before  Colonial times still being grown. 


Later, what I call "boutique" pumpkins began to make their appearances. First there were the white pumpkins, developed here in the U.S., and then many old European standbys, such as Rouge Vif D'Etampes, commonly called the "Cinderella" pumpkin. I can remember in the early 1970s seeing blue pumpkins -- Queensland Blue -- being offered at Bechnel Farms citrus groves near New Orleans, but few takers. I thought them dreadful, since the idea of a smooth, typical Howden pumpkin was firmly cemented in my mind. "Pumpkins should be round, or tallish, and orange," thought my child's mind. What I would give to have those blue pumpkins now, at an affordable price! They were developed in Australia way back in the 1930s. I wonder how the Becnels came to grow them.

Now, warty pumpkins, bi-colored pumpkins, and flat pumpkins are popular. The white pumpkins have been improved, with many appearing an impossible white. Martha Stewart has done much to popularize the strange pumpkins and the unusual pumpkins and winter squash. They almost always grace the pages of her magazine and website. (Ah, magazines. I think soon they will almost cease to be, other than in digital form.)

I have grown pumpkins since I graduated college many a year ago, almost always choosing to grow Rouge Vif D'Etampes. However, I think a seed of the newly popular "Long Island Cheese Pumpkin" must have been in the package, and that is what I recently grew. I am very happy with it! It is actually kin to the butternut squash, which means it will make fantastic "pumpkin" pie, just as butternuts do. It has a pale, tannish color, with just a hint of orange.

Do any readers here grow unusual pumpkins?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fall's Purple Gift: The Wild Aster



The fall of the year is when Wild Purple Asters, after hanging on all through the blazing summer days, suddenly bloom in profusion. 

In the desert, members of the aster family need no irrigation or watering to blossom, but bloom more heavily if watered. Along the roadsides and the Rio Grande, they form clumps of thousands of blooms, and busy bees and other pollinators feast on as much nectar as they can hold in preparation for the coming winter.

Every corner of the nation has its own wild purple asters. Some are edible, like the New York Aster, with blooms placed in salads, and leaves brewed into a tea.

Foraging for wild foods was something our ancestors did, and the knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. My mother knew a great deal of such lore, but I was taught only a fraction of her knowledge. Still, I learned about hundreds of plants. I know how and when to dig sassafrass roots, how to make ink out of beautyberries, and how to fold blades of Southern Cut Grass to make a whistle. While I know a lot about Southern wild plants, I have had to try to learn about the native plants in each area of the country I find myself in. In the desert of New Mexico, I have discovered jujube trees, "ditch asparagus" (asparagus that thrives in the irrigation ditches that branch out all along the Rio Grande), "tunas" (the fruit of the Prickly Pear), mesquite bean flour, and piñon nuts, and now the beautiful asters, too. The desert seems very sparse compared to the other places I have lived, but sometimes we have to be happy with less, and look a bit harder for beauty.

I have also begun "gleaning," which is going to a picked field and finding overlooked or damaged fruits or vegetables, AFTER the harvest and AFTER the farmer has gleaned. On the NMSU campus, I found two bags of dried corn on the cob within twenty feet of perhaps eight rows. Dipped in wax that has lost its scent from my wax warmers, they make fantastic fire-starters, as do pinecones. The dogs also greatly enjoy carrying "their" corncobs around. The chiweenie picked one that is nearly as big as he is. I have found several onions that fell off the onion wagons, and cotton that is scattered like snow along the shoulder of the lanes after threshing.

Do you forage for any wild foods or decorative plants in your area? 

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose