Like Kids in a Candy Store

I had the pleasure of galavanting about in a favorite nursery with a very dear gardening friend today. Actually, gardening is only one thing of hundreds that we have in common. We spent a total of five hours together, having wonderful conversations, solving world problems, catching up with each other. Time went by quickly. Prior to today it had been three of four weeks since I’d been in a nursery. Way too long, especially for this time of year when it seems the whole world is bursting with color as it awakens from its winter slumber.

So there we were at Green Acres Nursery conversing and leisurely admiring it all, oohing and ahhing over the colors, the fragrances…well, everything. Here are some of the things that caught our eyes.

Tropical HibiscusIMG_8420Mallow
IMG_8426Summer Gold Japanese MapleIMG_8422Dogwood 
IMG_8417Evergreen Clematis, AvalancheIMG_8418DelphinumIMG_8433Coral BellsIMG_8434 ColumbinesIMG_8435DianthusIMG_8440Thunbergia will always remind me of a favorite nursery my sister and I used to go to when she lived in Huntington Beach. The fences at the charming nursery there were completely covered in this vine!IMG_8441PansyIMG_8442FuchiasIMG_8436IMG_8437PelargoniumIMG_8438I have a fondness for Coleus and plant them each spring in memory of my mother who loved them.IMG_8439Happy Hydrangeas. Mine are nowhere near ready to bloom.
IMG_8444HostasIMG_8445A year ago this rhododendron called Purple Gem caught my eye at a nursery; I bought three of them right then and there. Mine will probably be blooming in another few weeks. I hope they look as good as these!IMG_8447WisteriaIMG_8448It was so hard to resist taking one (or three!) of each home with us, but the two of us shopped with great restraint. I had a few things on my list and left with only those few things, knowing that I need to finish a few projects first before I delve into another. Browsing through nurseries is such a treat anytime, but this time of year especially. My kind of candy store!

Some Sensory Fun

I’m so grateful for the bountiful rain we’ve been getting here in drought stricken California. What a difference a couple months of normal rainfall make. The sound of water rushing through our seasonal creek is absolute music to my ears! When we have little ones spend a day at our home during these cold, wet months we still have plenty of outside time, wearing rain boots and coats. There are puddles to be splashed in and the creek to wade through, lots of running and exploring still to do, but of course, we spend much more time indoors than out. Here are some simple recipes to make for some indoor sensory fun with children.

My play dough recipe is the same one I used when my own boys were young and the one I made when I taught young children. There are many great recipes for play dough, but I prefer this one, perhaps for sentimental reasons.

Play dough

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/3 cup salt

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

food coloring

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Directions: Measure all ingredients and place in a saucepan on medium heat. I use a wooden spoon that I’ve designated just for play dough (It will get stained from the food color) and stir the ingredients together until a ball forms.IMG_7623This is the play dough straight out of the pan  and cooling on parchment paper. Once cool enough to handle, begin kneading.IMG_7624 I added 4 – 5 drops of essential oil and kneaded it a minute or two longer once the dough was cool to touch.IMG_7625And here it is, so pliable and smooth, silky and soft. Just perfect for little hands.IMG_7626On this occasion I placed it in a Rubbermaid tub, along with pinecones, seed pods, sticks and other bits of nature and just let the magic happen.IMG_7696

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Cloud Dough

Ingredients:

Four measures of all purpose flour to one measure of oil. Baby oil adds a lovely scent, but vegetable oil works well if your little one might be tempted to taste. Grate in chalk if you’d like to add color.IMG_7299No cooking and so easy, just mix the ingredients together. Add a drop or two of essential oil if desired (I used lavender). The texture is like pastry.IMG_7301IMG_7303Playing with the dough with our hands felt quite therapeutic as we squished and crumbled and raked it with our fingers. Add child sized rolling pins, small kitchen utensils, cookie cutters or small toys. And as soon as you can, get back outside again!

Store each of these doughs in ziplock bags and each will keep for a few weeks.

A Conspiracy of Love

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

We had such fun taking a stroll through this gorgeous East Sacramento neighborhood all decked out in festive Christmas finery. I loved our walk, while others were seeing the sights in horse drawn wagons, limousines, and beer bikes/party bikes! Fa La La La Laaa!IMG_7054IMG_7058IMG_7046IMG_7056IMG_7045IMG_7055IMG_7051IMG_7049IMG_7047IMG_7059Can you feel the love? Wishing you much love, joy and peace on this special night and in 2016. Merry Christmas to all.