Spring

Be-bop-a-re-bop Rhubarb Jam!

t’s that time of year again --- the mornings are golden, the nights still chilly, the blue jays are calling in the trees out back and the rhubarb has broken through the earth like it has for ten thousand years. Actually, I wonder how old some of these rhubarb plants are. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were the same ones transplanted from the Garden of Eden.

On Saturday a friend gave me a huge bundle of rhubarb, on Sunday I cooked it up into the jam that my mother made every year and every morning since I have been eating it on toast with my coffee for breakfast.

Click through for recipes and ideas from Kathleen Valentine

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From House to Home for the Third Week of May

This week's tips:


  • If you love working on your computer, or need to for business, buy a laptop that can be used outdoors.
  • Organize an area in a laundry room or the garage where you place hats for the outdoors, cushions, sports gear and any other seasonal "stuff."
  • The next time you entertain, set up a croquet course, volleyball or badmitten net. Having games for family members makes being outdoors more fun for all ages.

Read on for more seasonal tips!

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From House to Home for the Second Week of May


  • Host a Memorial Day party complete with flags, red, white, and blue paperware. Invite families for a multi-generational gathering.
  • With wasps out and building nests, double check your screens for holes. Hire a pest inspector to remove any new nests as well.
  • Weathervanes are chic once again. Now homeowners may choose from a menagerie of roosters, cows, pigs, quails, horses in classic, antique reproduction and modern designs. Even solid copper weathervanes are relatively affordable.

Click through for more tips!

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From House to Home for the Last Week of April


  • Shop local salvage shops and look for an old marble sink top. Revive it with a new stainless steel bowl, faucet, and fit it to an existing cabinet or add on stainless steel legs for a modern look.
  • Consider buying a grill with style. Today's grills are made of stainless steel or copper with brass trim. Some fancy versions sport grills set into a stucco base with terra-cotta tile counter with a fireplace that doubles as a pizza oven. Others have warming drawers. Some are so high-tech that they feature a motorized rotisserie, outside temperature gauges, side burners and even wok burners with intensely high heat. Some also include refrigerators. But the price tags can be hot and hefty, too.

Read on for more tips!

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Kid's Pumpkin Projects

DD got this from her great-aunt last year. It's for kids from 4 to 8 years old. It's got pumpkin lore, how to grow a weird shaped pumpkin, and other fun stuff. It's a great book for kids who get into planting seeds and watching them grow. It goes through the whole lifecycle of the plant and fruit. Cool stuff in there, like, did you know you can make soap from pumpkin seeds?

Frugal Gardening Tips

Q:I want to be able to landscape my yard, but flowers and shrubs are so expensive. I've tried to plant some perenials so they'll contunue to bloom every year, but our yard still needs lots of work. Any suggestions on finding inexpensive plants, shrubs, and or trees? I'm tempted to go to the woods and look for things to steal every spring! And we all know that's not right. Please help if you can.
--Catherine

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Five Organic Gardening Must-Haves

For any gardener who still hasn't been convinced about the need to garden organically, here are some statistics that may help change your mind. In March of 2001, the American Cancer Society published a report linking the use of the herbicide glyphosate (commonly sold as Round-up) with a 27% increased likelihood of contracting Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

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Companion Planting for Spring

Companion planting is placing herbs, vegetables or flowers beside each other, to help each other's growth. Plants that are companion planted tend to grow healthier and be more pest and disease resistant.

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Basics of Container Gardening

Anything can be grown in a container; there aren't many magical secrets to it. With the proper plant, soil, location and care, you can grow anything from trees to cacti in containers.

Containered plants can seem a tiny bit fussy. Not so. They just need the proper place and attention at critical times. If container gardening is new to you, here are a few simple starting tips.

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Bring Spring In

Here are some great ideas for bringing the freshness of spring into your home.

• Sponge paint your walls, or a key piece of furniture. Blues, greens, pinks, and yellows in pastel shades refresh a room, and the softness of sponging gives an "impressionistic" appeal.

• Take clippings from outdoor ivy, and root in water for FREE houseplants. Buy inexpensive shade annuals and pot them up for indoors- fuchsias, impatiens, begonias, and primroses are wonderful for bringing in color, and deal well with the lower light indoors.

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Sunburst Muffins

Finally, the days are growing longer. Soon our longing for warmer weather and sunny days will be satisfied. But for a bright fix now, stir up a batch of sun-kissed muffins. Sprinkled with flecks of orange and lemon peel, these muffins burst with flavor and splendor. Let the kids help with grating, mixing, and filling the muffin cups.

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Tissue Paper Flowers

The basic flower patterns are easy enough for my three year old to help make. She loves playing with them afterward, they hold up surprisingly well unless your kid is pretty rough.

We made pink flowers from this book with twig stems instead of pipe cleaners for daughter's preschool teachers on Valentine's Day. We used three different colors of pink, light, med, dark, and they turned out gorgeous.

Pack a Picnic

What better way to welcome spring than a picnic! After months of eating at the kitchen table or around the coffee table, a change of scenery is much needed. The robins and bluebirds provide the music and in many places, the bugs are at a minimum. The kids are raring to get outside, so pick a spot -- park, backyard, or the beach -- and plan a picnic.

Ask the kids to help with the planning. What's the menu? Just snacks or a full meal? PB&J, cold fried chicken, and hero-style sandwiches are favorites that the kids can help assemble.

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Enabled Gardening

As our parents age, bit by bit the activities that bring them joy are lost as physical limitations set in. Gardening does not have to be one of those lost hobbies. With a little planning and adjustments, gardens can be made accessible for everyone.

Why gardening?
Both children and the elderly can enjoy and participate in gardening. It is an ideal vehicle to cultivate a shared interest and encourage family connections. Gardening can be adjusted to the participant's ability without being demeaning or insulting. And activity and absorption in a task can distract a person from pain and relieve stress.

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