Home & Garden

I know, I know I am behind on my post. An emotional traumatic afternoon will do that to you. Monkey Two decide that the best way to end his school day would be to try and play tag with my van, as I was pulling out of my dad’s drive way. He caused everyone’s adrenaline to shoot through the roof and heart attacks to commence. Can I just state for the record NOT TICKLED, at all.

Poor little monkey thought that I had forgotten him. Once I stopped seeing horrific visions flashing before my eyes I had a heart to heart with my should have known better 8 yr old.

“Son”, I said ” This is the South not NY. You don’t have to hang onto the side mirror of the car, trying to hale me like I am a yellow cab. We have over sized porches here for a reason and you keep your cute little tush on it with your Pa-Pa. If mom happens to keep going well, DUDE!, that’s what cell phones are for.”

Poor monkey, he’s wishing right about now that I had lost my temper, yelled at him or punished him in some way. I spent the entire evening giving him squeeze hugs, kisses and petting him in general every five minutes all night long. I almost slept on the floor by his bed. It’s pure torture for my lil’ guy who like his personal space. He’s fine not a scratch and I was good to go after a bottle of wine to ease the adrenaline crash to my system JK.  Anyhoo I digress…back to gardening.


Can I tell you all how much I love gardening…I do. I caught myself humming nearly all afternoon. It’s funny because I was humming P.O.D’s- Alive, specifically the lyric, ” I feel so alive… for the very first time”. It just occurred to me, those words could apply to the plants as well as myself, nifty thought. When I think of gardening I think of my Granny who lived in the Appalachian Mtns. She looked just like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies, I swear. Only she was a sweetheart and didn’t wear combat boots. I can’t be sure about the gun, however she did dip snuff. The gardening tips that I have listed below come from her, through my parents and down to me. Now to my monkeys and you all.

Some of you may already know these tips, if you do sit back and relax while I pass on the knowledge to some other deserving folks. I know a couple in particular who could use some help with their green thumbs. I have your back Jess @Sublime Design or your plants back so to speak. Also you never know, you might discover something new along the way.

Eggshells & Coffee Grounds

Eggshells and coffee grounds go hand in hand. They are gardening’s BFF’s. They are a natural fertilizer and a One-Two Punch pick me up for your veggie garden or your houseplants. Eggshells provide calcium and coffee grounds provide nitrogen. Usually what you find in the fertilizer that you buy minus of course the extra added goodies that you don’t want in your garden.

All you have to do is save the eggshells from when you are creating all of those wonderful masterpieces in the kitchen, I drool over them daily so don’t tell me otherwise. Wash them, dry them and crush them. The easiest way I find to crush them is in a towel.

Sometimes you will have a membrane that didn’t wash out completely. That’s okay just scrape off the shell and toss away the membrane.

See easy peasy!

Then all you have to do is sprinkle them around your veggie plants especially your tomatoes or in your house plants. If you happen to be just planting put the shells in first.

Another tip, when you hard boil eggs do not toss out the water. The water has calcium from the eggs so let it cool and use it to water your house plants.

The coffee grounds are even easier. All you have to do is set them aside and let them dry out. Gee that was strenuous…whew! 🙂  Sprinkle the grounds along with the shells for nitrogen. They are also good for deterring bugs. Doubly Nice!


Regular all purpose flour.

Granny used flour in the garden strictly as a marker for those teeny tiny seeds like carrots or lettuce. This way you know exactly where you placed that little bugger down on the ground and don’t loose it. Please forgive my abused hands in all of the photos. I haven’t been wearing my gloves like I should.

Mix the seeds with the flour in a bowl.

Sprinkle them in a raised bed.

Or with carrots make a mounded row, sprinkle on top of the mound and just cover with dirt, not to deep. The flour ensures that you don’t miss a single seed.


Granny always had rows of marigolds in between her vegetable rows. They are a wonderful natural pest repellent. They also make your garden colorful, bright and beautiful.

Moth Balls

Does anyone out there know this one? Was it passed down to you as well? How about cats? Are cats turning your beautiful labor intensive garden into their personal litter box? Moth balls baby! Keeps those cats right out of any flower bed or garden. Don’t get me wrong I adore cats but if the moth balls don’t work  I will let the monkeys use their paintball guns on them. Digging around in a litter box is just bloody gross.

They will just look like the cat who wanted to live in the zoo… all spotted and colorful. Just kidding folks I wouldn’t harm a hair on their heads, I promise.

I know that you all are going to think that I am a freak but I have always loved the smell of moth balls. These really do take me back to those days when I followed Granny around as she did her daily chores 🙂

Look…I think Hansel and Gretel came this way, don’t you? See they left a trail of white stones to find their way back home.

Nothing TICKLES me quite so much as having dirt under my nails so I hope that you all are having fun in the dirt and remember, “Everyday is Earth Day”, see it doesn’t matter that I am a day late 🙂

Share your passed down or just learned gardening tips. I truly am interested.


Tickled Red


The weather today is 70 degrees. You might have guessed already but just in case you didn’t… I am ecstatic.

I was able to play in the yard today and not freeze my fingers off. That being the case I took advantage of the spectacular weather to enjoy a couple of hours fixing this pitiful site. You need fingers that can wiggle, bend and get in small places to do this job.

I have two of these blue planters on either side of my steps filled with ivy and throughout the year I plant accompanying flowers to go along with it. The ivy always trails beautifully along the walk, until someone trips over it.  As you can see the Geraniums have withered and died as well. This spring I have decided to change them up…wanna see?

When I was out scouring the last of the fall yard sales I came across these two topiary frames for .25 each. Please ignore my poor barren porch it sees no love until the spring. Poor baby.

I found the topiary frames at my best friends Grandmothers house of all places. Kimmie and I have been attached at the heart strings since high school and she made the decision to live with her grandmother her senior year rather than move back to Cincinnati with the rest of her family. That was the best decision she ever made. I couldn’t picture my life without her.

Stopping at that sale brought back a wealth of memories in that particular house and yard. It just so happens that Kimmie’s Grandmother owns a plant rental business. She has seven pristine acres of land with huge old oak trees, creatively landscaped outdoor rooms and lovely greenhouses. It was magic, even to a eighteen year old, and I always wanted to live there myself.

Anyway, back to the planters… I removed all of the dead, as much of the oaks leaves as possible and even the ivy. If you don’t play with plants often be careful with the roots when you transplant. I made sure to put the topiary base down far enough so that the dirt was nearly half way up the post. you want to make sure that, if a stiff Nor-Easter blows through, you won’t find your topiary on the other side of town.

Plant the ivy towards the back of the post. That way your flowers will take center stage in the front. Then you get to do the fun part. Weave. Wind your ivy one strand at a time up the post and then start weaving around the circumference of the circle.

I hope that you can see my pattern of  OVER…UNDER…OVER…UNDER.

Do this with all of the tendrils moving your way up the circle similar to weaving a bowl.

If you have some super long tendrils, weave a few of those around and up the outer side of the circle until you reach the top circle, then continue weaving around the smaller circles circumference.

Also when you are winding each strand around the base post be sure to go in different directions. This will keep it from being heavy on one side, keep the strands from lying on each other too much and cover the post in a nice braid.

Plant your favorite flowers all around and fill it up. I chose pansies because it isn’t spring without pansies and daffodils. Pansies also work well because it is still cool in the evenings and could frost.

There was a crooked woman, who lived in a crooked house, who had a crooked topiary… 🙂 Nah! She doesn’t know how to use her camera.

I can’t wait for them all to bloom. My planters will be overflowing with an abundance of beautiful purple blooms.

I always imagined Tinkerbell having a slide made from a flower blossom. See it looks like such fun.

Stamen: The only term regarding the biology of a flower that I remember from those long, long ago school days.

Okay I am done playing with my camera and torturing you guys with my amateur  shots.

If you are one of the few people to actually read this gardening post in it’s entirety, you haven’t fall asleep or left immediately wondering, “What has happened to RED’s cooking? Where are all of the recipes?” you get a teeny  tiny reward.  You will be one of the first to get a hint about what is coming next on Sunday.  Here goes…Strawberry.

Since I am on the predictable side it won’t be hard for you to figure it out.

I am off to plant some Inpatients now. Have fun in your gardens today.

Get a little dirt under your nails…I know that doing so TICKLES me.

Tickled Red

A Treasure Chest. My monkeys have one. I had one when I was growing up. Did you have a treasure chest as a child?

Mine held all of those inconsequential tid-bits and do-dads that all children seem to be attracted to. Rocks, feathers, shells, marbles and such that always  seem to wind up in pockets to be stored away in a box especially for such treasures.

Do you have a treasure chest now as an adult? I do.

It has little trinkets from nature walks to help remind me of a specific time or place. My favorite love notes from my three guys, cards from friends, sculptures that my monkeys have crafted and collections that I treasure. I thought that I would share the one material item in my house that I couldn’t possible live without. Nothing residing within it’s doors is of any significant monetary value. Although each and every item is to me a sentimental, precious, gem that I could not bear to lose.

I have a passion and an obsession for books, especially old ones.

A card from the boys preschool teacher. It looks so much like M2 when he was 3.

M1’s first attempt at pottery (candle holder) and a lovely, creative card from a new friend.

A cheetah made by M2, my first Balinese bust and an antique postcard from the Bahamas.

My favorite Balinese bust, M2’s sculpture of a character from Inkheart and part of  my book collection.

Glass vases full of shells and such that the monkeys have gathered. Each one also holds a fortune that the monkeys have opened.

My great grandfather’s record player and his record collection.

This old pie cabinet that stores my treasures beautifully was once my uncles. He was kind enough to let it come and live with me. I have never been so TICKLED!

I have always thought that being able to see what someone collects or treasures gives you a little bit of insight into that person. A better idea of how they view the world around them. I hope that you enjoyed the peak into my treasure chest or memory cabinet as some like to call them.

What is in your treasure chest or collection? Care to share 🙂

Tickled Red

Fun monkey photos to follow. I thought that I would start off the next group of snow day photos with things that do not necessarily go hand in hand when you imagine snowy covered landscapes. Such as our neighbors tropical oasis of palm trees and cacti in the above picture. I would never have put palm tree, cacti and snow in the same sentence before. It’s nice to know that I was able too.

The monkeys were entranced with the palm tree “Huts” as they called them. Hey Jaba, whenever you are ready to leave the dessert we have just the spot or you.

The butterfly are extremely happy that this is not the season for them. It would be mighty difficult to retrieve the nectar from this particular butterfly bush. Can we say frozen?!

Sea Shell & Snow? Something doesn’t belong here. That’s okay we loved it while it lasted.

Now for some fun photos of my monkeys and surfer.

Look mom! I made a hand print on the tree hut…cool!

Guess what John, look here. Our snowman has a belly button. Hee hee hee, a belly button.

That’s my baby! He took out the oldest boy in the neighborhood. Snowball fights have a way of evening out the odds for the little guys. I apologize. I have been surrounded by testosterone for so many years that I forget my compassion at times.

You are down and out!!

What happened?!? He did it? Man!!

A couple of my favorite guys. Ummm, guys? Shouldn’t that be a snowboard behind you? PS: You both need trims…soon.

My snow baby. He is my last one so I still get to call him my baby. He is growing up entirely too fast. I won’t be able to call him my baby for long. Out loud anyway.

Where’s Waldo? Oops…I mean where are the monkeys?

Monkey One is trying to be furtive.

You should know better Monkey One…

… and so the great snowball fight of 2010 begins.

King Monkey One of the Nordic Mountain Hooligans.

My little guys good buddy “Eggbert”. He now resides in the freezer.  Yes, he is still living there.

Alright, I will stop torturing you guys with my snow photos now. I will save the rest for another day waaaaaaay down the road. I promise to wait until at least the next forecast of  “possible” snow. So you guys have what, a week or two of recipes and funny stories until then?

If the weather warms up there could possibly be a post or two on refurbishing some pieces of furniture as well as a few art projects.

Thanks for letting me share 🙂

Tickled Red

When you think of coastal North Carolina the descriptive words “Winter Wonderland” are not exactly what comes to mind. This past Saturday though that is exactly what we woke up too. Jack Frost had deemed us worthy of more than just our average forecast of a light dusting. The entire landscape looked like something out of a Jan Brett book.

I was so enthralled with everything that I was driving my darlin’ surfer crazy waiting for the sun to come up so that  could go out and take some photos. Just to give you an idea of how enthralled I was, I had to down load my memory card not once but twice. I will spare ya’ll and not post all 2000 photos that I joyously, ecstatically and giggling like a child snapped. All the while, parading around the neighborhood in my pj’s. Sorry mom, I couldn’t help myself.

I may have to do more than one post about our snow day but I promise to try and keep it to a minimum. Well my definition of what minimum means that is. How about I post snow day pictures when they tease us with snow forecasts that never come to be. That would allow me to make believe that we had six inches of snow again. Six inches may seem tiny and infinitesimal to some of you all out there, but not for us poor pitiful beach dwellers who pray and pray and pray and…you get my point, for snow glorious snow.

Look at my old oak trees and spanish moss… “Quiet Majesty” is what comes to mind.

Here are never before seen lands to be discovered and explored. All you need to do is be brave while crossing the arctic waters surrounding the entrance. What wonders beckon you beyond those white icy mounds? What mysteries hide behind those curtains of snow covered branches?

Our courageous adventures’ are off to explore the frozen forest and to find out what treasures lay hidden in it’s beautiful slumbering depths.

Early morning glee over an amazing rarity in his young life. Snow on his home turf. Live it up Monkey Two! Savor every precious moment and revel in it’s glory. It is not often that I can capture my quiet, unassuming, youngest love expressing such exuberance for me purposely. He is changing though as he grows older.

Monkey One is my big ham as you may have noticed in the Winner’s post from previously, but I had to put this photo in today. It’s serenity and peace allows me a glimpse of his ever developing maturity. For you see my oldest child, even though he is a big goof ball like his mother, has a very old soul indeed.

That is all that I have for today. We are having a slight router issue here at the house and all of my photos are unfortunately on my laptop which of course will not log on. I had to hurry and down load what I could while I was up in town today. The good news is that the new router just arrived. My darlin’ surfer will be more than happy to have everything fixed and back in working order ASAP. Not because he is annal retentive in any way. Nah, my love is not like that at all. Cough, mmm-hmmm.The man has mad organizational skills that I wish I had been born with. Too bad they haven’t rubbed off on me in the past 14 years.

His main reason for a speedy IT job tonight would be get me off of  his personally designed computer that he built just for gaming. I of course have had to use it to check my emails and such. He has been overjoyed with having to share his computer with me. I am a computer hog though I will admit it…poor baby. It’s a good thing that the part came in. That man of mine will be doing the happy dance for sure. He will be the TICKLED one in the family tonight. Please excuse any typos, spelling mishaps or grammatical errors. My surfer is antsy to get back on his computer and solve the IT problems.

I am sorry that I took over your computer darlin’. I promise to make it up to you with…ummm, a cheesecake. Yeah a cheesecake! Will that work for you? One chocolate mint cheesecake coming right up. Just for you my darlin’, wet suit wearing, IT master, doting dad of our monkeys, puter-upper with my kookiness and love of my life surfer.

Enjoy these wintry photo’s everyone. There will definitely be more to come. I can’t leave out the snowball fights and forts 🙂 The monkeys would never forgive me.

Tickled Red

Good news the Ga Ga’s have passed. That is until the next time he walks by in a wetsuit 🙂 . I am positively absolutely  focused on pineapple. I promise. Aren’t ya’ll happy? You don’t have to listen to me waxing poetic about my darlin’ surfer… for the time being.  Since my Ga Ga condition interrupted my plans before, I have changed the way I originally planned to present my project and recipe for you all. Instead of showing you the recipe first I am going to start with my gardening project.

Gardening project? Pineapple? Again no, I have not lost my mind. I like to try different things is all. So I am going to plant a pineapple. Yes, a pineapple just like the ones you buy in the grocery store. It is extremely simple and is, well to put it simply, neat in my opinion. My step mom Sherry has planted one. Also since my local grocery store had their pineapples BOGO, I am finally going to try and plant one of my own. Fortunately you all get to tag along for my little gardening experiment.

Planting a Pineapple

1. Cut the top off of your pineapple.

2. Place the top in a dish of water for three days in a well lit window. Then plant it in your favorite pot. If you do not see any root sprouts yet don’t worry. Go ahead and plant the top in a pot with some really good potting soil.

3. In 24 months sounds better than two years 🙂 it will look like this.

Once your pineapple has been planted please make sure that you do not over water it. The plant likes to be watered about twice a week straight down the middle. The dirt should be damp or moist… not saturated. This is an indoor plant. If you do put it outside this summer be sure it is an area where it will not get rained on.

In another 12 months (three years total) you will have an actual pineapple 🙂 Neat isn’t it. The thought of growing my own pineapple TICKLES me. I love to grow my own food.

Now what am I supposed to do with all of this?

I guess you will have to stay tuned for Adventures with Pineapple: Part Two-??

Sorry,I couldn’t help but tease you all just this once. I will give you another hint since you already know that it is a recipe.

Hint: Sweet

While you all are waiting with baited breathe for my recipe (as I know ya’ll are) go ahead and plant a pineapple. As for all of you terrified brown thumbs out there don’t be scared. This might be just the plant for you. You can forget this guy for a week and be perfectly fine. All you need is a window with good light, good dirt, and very little water…how could you go wrong. Be adventurous plant a pineapple. If you do keep me posted, I would love to hear about how it is going for you.

Part Two coming very soon…

Tickled Red

Traditions are what I look forward to most during the holidays. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, our traditions are what make the holidays indelible and everlasting. Everything that was passed down from our grandparents that we now teach our children, is a part of us and our various cultural backgrounds.  I also adore that we have the good fortune to be able to share our traditions with one another. To discover something wonderful, new and intriguing that we can enfold and share with our own families.

I  adore all of the sounds, decorations and smells that are connected, in particular, to the memories that I have of  my family during the holiday season.  Although as you may have guessed I am especially fond of the food! I am a complete foodie and dream of menus everyday. I know…sad and weird isn’t it. Well, as I  sit here daydreaming about tomorrow nights dinner, I am curious as to what you maybe having? What are some of your traditional foods that you can not do without? What are some new ones that you have discovered from a friend? Have you found a great new recipe that you just can’t wait to try out?

Since I am tied up getting ready for tomorrow night, as are you,  I thought that maybe we could all do something easy and share our typical Christmas Eve menus’ with one another. A sort of Blog- Culture & Recipe Swap for the holidays.  You never know, you might find that new recipe you were looking for or discover one that has lasted the generations.

My family is Irish/ Italian and Catholic, so our Christmas Eve dinner has always consisted of pasta dishes (no meat) and seafood. When I was a child we traveled to Connecticut each Christmas. My grandmother always made stuffed shells or manicotti along with a sideboard full of sweets. We would always bring the flounder and shrimp since Dad didn’t care for smelt, that story still cracks me up. I make a similar dinner to my grandmothers for my family with a few little changes of my own and some much loved borrowed ones from close friends. Here is my typical holiday menu for when it is just the four of us…some traditional, some borrowed, a mix of Irish/Italian and Southern 🙂

Tickled Red’s Christmas Eve Dinner

Eggplant Rollatini

Pasta Fagioli

Fried Flounder

Sauteed Shrimp (in a white wine,butter, herb sauce)

Asparagus (with hollandaise)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes topped with Praline Crumble

Mashed Potatoes (with herb, garlic butter)

Irish Soda Bread

Rice Balls:  (this year with sun dried tomatoes & olives/pancetta and prosciutto)


Dessert: Always a new cake recipe 🙂 TICKLES the family. Orange Italian Cream Cake from Southern Living

Let me know if you see anything on my menu that you would like for me to post in depth sometime in the future. I might even try my hand at some that you share, if you like.

I do so look forward to seeing your favorite selections and hope that you have the chance to post them on here.

Tickled Red