Giving Thanks for another Great Gardening Year

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Container Garden Install

Container Garden Install

Another gardening year has passed quickly.  It was filled with lots of plant-loving activity, including garden talks for garden clubs and farmers markets, ‘walk and talk’ home tours of friends’ special gardens, and several classes hosted by guest instructors and Container Crazy Cathy T related to combining nature with art.  And along the way, I had many moments of thankfulness.

Now arrives the week of Thanksgiving.  A day approaches when we share time with our families to count our blessings – and enjoy home cooked meals. We may say a few words during these events to express our gratitude or a hug may suffice as you welcome your treasured family members and friends to your home and table.

As this fourth Thursday of the month approaches, I reflect upon many opportunities for which I am grateful.  Some may seem minor in the scheme of life, but each is something which helped me along my way and thus, here it goes, my “Give Thanks” List:

My, My – What a Beautiful Summer

We were blessed with an amazing summer where almost every weekend provided sun and comfortable temperatures.  I know this because I pay attention to the weather forecasts, especially for weekends where garden events are scheduled.  And, on every single summer weekend, the weather cooperated for my special events – how lucky am I!  Even on the only day when I had my family over for a summer picnic and pool time, well – that day was the warmest of all – it was perfect timing.

There were so many summer weekends when I looked to the skies and said, “Thank God it is beautiful out this weekend!” So, thankfulness prevails for cooperative weather. Hopefully, one more blessing will happen for good weather at my annual holiday evergreens class on December 6th to cap off the year. Please, no big snowstorms.

Supportive Gardening Friends and Family

As I look at the history of growing my small business, many times, it is friends and family members suggesting ideas to help improve processes and my classes.  And, it IS mostly friends and family members attending my gardening events. However, each new season brings new faces too – and thus, new gardening friends.  One of the best parts of working with plants is communication is almost universal in the gardening world – you don’t need to speak the same language or have the same gardening style to appreciate the beauty of nature and how to bring more of it to your surroundings. Thus, I am very grateful and thankful for all supportive people, new and old, and how they help me along the way. Each and every client is appreciated as well – and many are treasured friends and family members. Thank you for hiring me this gardening season and attending my events.

Healthy Me and Healthy Parents

This year, Thanksgiving Day falls one day before my big 50th birthday. Sure, I have more aches and pains than I did in my 30’s, but I am really thankful there have been no big health problems.  Truly a blessing – and good health becomes more important as we get older – the importance of health – not only for ourselves, but for our family members is of the utmost priority in life. And, for those who have struggled with tough health issues this year, I pray they are always getting better and feeling healthy once again. I’m thankful for when those prayers are answered.

As for my parents – gosh, they are elderly, yet both very healthy and still with us – Every single moment I spend with them, I thank God for sharing these two beautiful people with me.  And to be spending the upcoming Thanksgiving Day with them warms my heart and soul. They, along with my extended family, are a blessing for which I am grateful – and glad I can continue to have them in our lives to share special moments.

Small House with a Big Yard

The home I share with my husband (he is another blessing in of itself) may be somewhat on the small size, but it is cozy with plenty of outdoor space to enjoy. I’m so thankful for the day we were told of this home being for sale, and that we snagged it up over 20 years ago. I’m thankful for a solid roof over our heads, and a large outdoor space we enjoy with our animals, plants, and trees.  Years ago, when we stood on our former small 4 by 4 deck to toast the purchase of our new home, we knew it was what we wanted, because it had a big yard – but we had no idea how it would grow into so much pleasure as our personal daily destination – right in our backyard. When we sit to admire our space around us filled with plants and nature – we always think about how thankful we are for our own little place on earth, and how we love to share it with our friends and family.

Chicken Coop Pen at Cathy T's

Chicken Coop Pen at Cathy T’s

Thankful for Likes

One day, my niece told me how happy she was when someone liked her drawing on an artwork related social site, and, I thought to myself, “Do we give too much stock to the “likes, shares, and positive comments” of social media?” But in the end, yes – sometimes it is important.  As we share things we are proud of, often helping to inspire others, we are thankful when someone hits like or share.  For the followers, sharers, likers in my social world – thank you so much for taking the time to notice and for appreciating my efforts.

The Sun’s Rays upon My Face

Lately, I’ve been taking time to sit in the sunniest place available at my home to face the sun during the mid-afternoons before the sun sets. Especially during winter, this is a much needed therapy activity for me because the winter blues has potential to creep upon us as the days are darker and temperatures are colder.

Each time I feel the sun’s rays upon my face, I give thanks for the sun and all it offers to our world. It is such a powerful force – giving life to us, our plants, and our surroundings. Without the sun, we would have nothing, so thus I say, thank you Sun.  You are my Goddess, and I worship you.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,

Cathy Testa
www.cathytesta.com
www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
(860) 977-9473 (cell)
containercathy@gmail.com

Cathy T at her home in East Windsor, CT

Cathy T at her home in East Windsor, CT

Two of My Favorite Side-Dish Recipes for Tday: Part II

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As promised, here are the photos taken as I cooked up my two favorite side-dishes for Thanksgiving – as posted earlier this week for the Cranberry-Pear Chutney recipe and the Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic.  See HERE to get the list of ingredients and steps.

Cranberry-Pear Chutney recipe requires fresh cranberries, but of course!

Tday Recipes_0014

Love that red color.  And as noted in my prior posting of the recipes, the smell and popping noise as it simmers is wonderful.  What could be easier than putting cranberries in your pan with water and the brown sugar.  Talk about easy!  And if you have any cranberries left over that you did not use for the recipe, they can be used in decorating – double-usage, love that too.  I took photos of the nutrition information as well.

Tday Recipes_0015

Brown sugar. The recipe calls for 1.5 cups but I used one cup to cut down on the sugar.  And I buy the light sugar type.  I like the taste of tart versus sweet, so to me, it is better with less sugar for the taste factor as well.  There are enough sweet flavors at Thanksgiving during dessert!

Lime juice.  I realized this morning, I forgot to add the lime juice!  I hope it doesn’t mess up my recipe, we’ll see later.  The other ingredients (pear, raisins, jalapeno) are mixed in after simmering the cranberries in water with the brown sugar.  They are pear, jalapeno, and white raisins.

Tday Recipes_0012

Its kind of interesting – REDS and GREENS.  Just like Christmas!

Tday Recipes_0004

I’m the type of cooker that likes to chop all and put them into bowls before I toss them into my recipe.  Not sure why, but here is the photo I took of those 3 ingredients above (pear, jalapeno, raisins) all chopped and ready for the pan.

Tday Recipes_0006

Tday Recipes_0008

The bowl I used when done is a …oh gosh, what do they call these?  Well, I like it is raised up cause it helps on a table to have it elevated, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space with all the other Thanksgiving Day dishes on the table.  Put this in the fridge over night, and chilled it is wonderful with roasted turkey as a side-dressing served cold, and on left overs – yummy on left over turkey for sandwiches!

For the SAUTEED MUSHROOMS WITH GARLIC RECIPE:

Tday Recipes_0013

Sno-White and Baby Bella are the types I typically use.  I used a total of 6 packages (3 of each) this year, but in the past, I’ve used up to 8 or even 15 to make a huge batch for large groups at Thanksgiving.

Tday Recipes_0009

As noted on the recipe posted this week, I also use lots of garlic – 6 cloves chopped up, and olive oil to get them started.  Then add the mushrooms in batches, later add fresh-squeezed lemon juice to moisten it if it looks dry.  This is the MIL secret, the lemon juice keeps it just right as it simmers slowly.

Tday Recipes_0011

Tday Recipes_0010

I forgot to take a photo of the final image of the mushrooms all cooked up…, but you get the idea.  Oh – also, I forgot to mention in the prior post of the recipes, I toss this often as it simmers slowly, moving the juices and garlic around. until it is done.

Enjoy – let me know what you think if you decided to give these recipes a try – they are both Make Ahead types which can be refrigerated and warmed up for your Thanksgiving Meal.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Cathy Testa

Please join us for, You are Invited, and RSVP

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With the autumn season approaching followed by Thanksgiving and the holidays, you may be thinking about inviting friends over for parties, dinners or special events. The best way to get started is by considering a classy or different invitation to set the tone of your gathering and create a great first impression.

Halloween.

Not only are Halloween costumes being stocked on store shelves, we are seeing Christmas and holiday items too. Ugh on the Christmas ones, it is a tad bit too early in September, don’t you think?  However, seeing the witches and goblins may prompt you to think about having a gathering for adults or kids.  Here are some cute and clever designs by a little paper company in Arkansas called, “Odd Balls Invitations,” offering many wonderful themes and colorful stationary for this holiday and others.

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Hayrides, autumn, and foliage.

Riding around on a farm during our beautiful foliage season in the northeast is a treat for adults and children. Include a pumpkin carving contest, a fireside chat, and some fresh apple pie. Then stop by the barn for some country music.  Getting the idea? There are so many choices on the Odd Balls Invitations website, it is difficult to decide.  I know these below ring true for me.

Source:  Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Thanksgiving, goobble-til-u-wobble, or farm fresh harvest dinners.

While you are out shopping or planning for the Halloween season, you may start thinking about Thanksgiving.  My sister told me the other day she visited a winery and is keeping her bottles of wine as a special treat for our annual Thanksgiving dinner at her house.  It is always helpful to plan ahead to reduce stress, and getting your invites ordered and ready is a good tip too.  Surprise your family members this year with something unique or unexpected.  Getting invites in the mail, the old fashioned way, is something special.

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Christmas, holidays, and all things evergreen.

Yes, I just said it is too early to be bothered with thoughts of the December holiday season! True, agreed, but in my case planning for events starts next month.  And for those who know already, my December class, is an annual. This invitation would be perfect, wouldn’t it?!  So many themes in water color from traditional, classy to charming, can be found on the website called “Odd Balls Invitations,” where these were spotted when I was just browsing around for themed invitations.

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Got a beer lover, horse rider, or other type of person in mind?

There is a plethora of themes to select from.  See HERE for more.  It will take you a while to view them all for there are so many.  And each is well made by the artists, and again, sets the idea, tone, or style of your gathering – and if that gathering is for a particular person in your life, it is ultra special to represent them in your invitation style.

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Source: Odd Ball Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Mardi Gras and Carnival.

Because I have friends in New Orleans and been there a few times, I really enjoyed checking out the themes with masks, boa feathers, and vivid colors.  Something for February or March.  But these couldn’t be left out on this post.

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Gardens, patios, and decks.

And I would be remiss if I did not include the floral types and garden themes showcased and offered by “Odd Balls Invitations.”  There are many, many more to view, such as, Bugs and Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Tropical, Topiary, the list goes on. Click HERE to see them all.  These are absolutely perfect for your spring or summer garden related gathering or event.  Think garden tours, wine tastings, or tea time in the warmer season.

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

Source: Odd Balls Invitations

But back to the present moment, today being September 20th, there are still some beautiful days remaining to gather up friends to “relish in the golden, glimmering joys of autumn,” as Odd Balls Invitations so clearly represents in the above invitation with a beautiful urn and warm colored pumpkin.  A wonderful representation of combining nature with art – and festivities.

Written by Cathy Testa