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Tuesday

Glad Tidings for Summer

Glad Tidings for Summer - Caring for Gladioli, the Joys of the Garden

Gladioli are extremely simple to grow and utterly rewarding. You can plant several varieties of these deceptively easy and delightful flowers in the spring. By midsummer, you will have gorgeous cut flowers for your table. Everyone will think you have been to the farmer’s market for these showy gladiolus stems, instead of your own backyard!

Choose Your Colors.

Choose your colors from a huge variety: pink, red, yellow, white, purple, orange, peach, and more. Even bi-colored gladioli are available. Petals may be wavy, ruffled, or even lacy. Select the look you like the best!

Gladioli may grow from 2’ to 4’ high. (Read package labels carefully.)

Begin with at least a dozen or two gladiolus corms (like bulbs). In a few years, you can expect to have a whole lot more!

Pick gladiolus corms that are sturdy and at least 1” in diameter. Anything smaller will probably not bloom the first season.

Select a Sunny Site.

Pick a sunny spot in your garden for your gladioli, preferably protected from direct wind. Full sun is needed, if your gladioli are to produce sturdy stalks and vibrant colored flowers.

Gladioli do best in well-drained soil. Cultivate, or loosen, the soil to a depth of about one foot.

Sow Lovely Glads!

Plant the gladiolus corms (bulbs) in the spring, sit back and wait, and prepare to be amazed. Lovely stalks of floral beauty will sprout up in midsummer.

Plant your gladioli in bunches of seven, for the most spectacular blooming display. With the pointed side up and the hairy (scarred) side down, set each gladiolus corm into a hole that is roughly four times as the height of the corm (or approximately 10” to 12” deep). Space your gladioli about 6” to 8” apart.

Arrange gladioli in rows for the simplest maintenance and organization. (Be sure to label gladiolus colors and varieties for future reference!) Gladioli may be planted among other flowers (such as daylilies) or even in the vegetable garden.

Extend Your Display.

Beginning in early May and continuing through mid-June, you can stagger your plantings of the gladiolus corms for prolonged blooming. Gladioli may produce blossoms from July until the first frost.

Plant a new set of gladiolus bulbs every two weeks!

Water Them Well.

Give your gladioli a soft shower at least three times a week, if nature doesn’t. Be gentle with the gladiolus blossoms when you water. Gladioli need at least an inch of water per week.

Mulching may help your garden bed to retain moisture for your gladiolus plantings.

Stake Your Ground.

As your gladioli pop up and grow taller, you will want to stake them, unless you have a fence or wall you can tie the gladiolus stems to. Bamboo stakes work well. Old nylons are much gentler for your gladioli than wire twist-ties.

Pick Some Pretties!

Grab your garden clippers (or kitchen shears), and head outside for some outstanding gladiolus flowers to display on your table. Glance over your shoulder, and you might see your neighbors staring enviously at your gladioli, as they marvel at your green thumb!

The trumpet-like flowers appear in double rows, making gladioli ideal for showing off in a tall glass pitcher or vase.

In the morning or evening (not midday), cut gladiolus flowers when two or three blooms are opened. The others will follow anyway, extending the life of your floral arrangement. Be sure to leave a few leaves on the gladiolus stems, as they will absorb sunlight and nutrients and encourage corm growth underground.

For the best display, cut your gladioi the night before you plan to show them off. This allows the gladiolus blossoms to drink up water and recover from the cutting.

Find Them Before the Frost.

When gladioli grow and bloom, the original “mother corm” dries up and dies underground. At the same time, new offspring gladiolus corms appear. If you live in the northern half of the US, you will want to dig up these corms in the fall (before the ground freezes).

Gently brush excess dirt off the gladiolus corms. Sort them by color and variety. Allow them to dry out for about a month in a warm, well-ventilated area. Remove the withered mother corm, and discard it.

Place gladiolus corms in mesh bags, slatted trays, or old nylons. Store them in the basement or another cool, dark place, and re-plant them next spring.

Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Plant some gladioli in the spring. You'll be glad you did!

Click this link for “Glad Tidings for Summer: Caring for Gladioli, the Joys of the Garden.”

Related items of interest:

Ask Not – A Trash Talk

Bring Spring – A Haiku Bouquet for a Brighter Day

Daffy for Daffodils

Daylilies – New Every Morning

Dealing with Spring Allergies

A Double-Dutch Treat – Tending to Tulips

Flower-Master: Haikus in Bloom

Garden Bugs: Friends or Foes?

Gardening – Cultivating to Control Weeds

Gardening with Children – Growing Green Thumbs

Gardening and Writing

Glad Tidings for Summer – Caring for Gladioli

Heart of the Gardener

Home-Grown Fertilizer

The Hope of Spring

Horticulturalists and Honey Makers – Bring on the Bees

Impatiens – The Flower That Offers Instant Gratification

Lovely Ladybirds – Great Guests for Your Garden

Peonies from Heaven

A Surprise Attack

Violas – Sweet Dainty Flowers for Sun or Shade

Welcoming Bats to Your Garden (Holy Horticulturalists!)

Which Weed Is Which?

Zoned Out – Roars About Chores


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.


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Friday

Just for Fun - A Friday Fill-in



(Written upon request of Friday Fill-ins. I sort of stumbled onto it, and it sounded like fun today.)

Just for Fun – A Friday-Fill-in

(The prompts are in bold, and my responses are in italics.)

  1. When I fell in love, my name was written in indelible ink in the Bridegroom’s book and on His heart. (See Revelation 21.)

  1. My heart soars when the flowers bloom and it heats up outside. It’s spring!

  1. Oh, no! The internet connection is down. Switch off the computer. It’s time for real life!

  1. American Idol is the craziest TV show ever. Why did America vote off Michael Johns? Now “Mrs. Robinsons” everywhere have no reason to watch.

  1. Cheese and nearly anything make a great meal. (Welcome to Wisconsin.)

  1. Life began and ends in a garden.

  1. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing my mom, after she has been away for several months. Tomorrow my plans include riding my horses, and Sunday, I want to worship the Lord and then go saddle up and ride my horses with my kids. (Actually, we worship the Creator on horseback as well. (See “Learning Holiness from a Horse,” on The Mane Point to find out what I mean.)


Love poetry? Check out Simply Snickers, a brand-new weekly poetry prompt.


Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

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Tuesday

Vying for Vintage: Shopping for Vintage Styles

Vying for Vintage

“The difference between style and fashion is quality.”
Georgio Armani
(1934 - )

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”
Yves St. Laurent
(1936 -
)


Vintage Values

Vintage is valuable! Old is in!
Period pieces have come back again.
Treasure that bodice, and care for that frock.
Wear them, and act like you've turned back the clock.
How can antique items look good as new?
Preserve them, and they will stay stylish for you.

- Linda Ann Nickerson


Hunting for Style Treasures - Vintage, Consignment or Resale?


Vintage clothing and values have become fashionable, even among celebrities. Suddenly, everyone is flocking to resale shops to find funky outfits from bygone eras.

How are resale stores and consignment shops alike? How are they different?

Click here to read Thrifty Shoppers: What’s the Difference Between a Resale Store and a Consignment Shop?


Caring for Vintage Fashion Items

Vintage styles are in-style. Movie stars, fashion mavens and many others are swarming to vintage clothing stores to snatch up antique apparel. Some may celebrate favorite eras from the past, while others may prefer certain bygone styles.

More than a few folks opt to wear vintage clothing for its sentimental value, particularly if they have inherited their antique apparel from a much-loved mother, grandparent or other special person.

For so many reasons, vintage clothing has become valuable.

How can you care for antique apparel, so that your favored fashions from the past will serve you for years to come?

Click here to read Vintage Can Be Valuable: Caring for Antique Apparel.


Vintage by the Bay – Shopping for Vintage Styles in San Francisco

Ah, the value of vintage vogue! Bygone fashions are back in a big way. Savvy stylists know just where to look, as they resurrect yesterday's prized items. The primo spot for antique styles is San Francisco, the vintage mecca of the U.S.

Click here to read Vintage by the Bay – A Guide to Antique Apparel in San Francisco, highlighting our favorite spots to shop for vintage values in the City by the Bay.


Related items of interest:

Accessorize Your Assets: Tips for Accessorizing with Vintage Pieces

An Outlet for The Shop-a-Holic: Guide to Shopping in Outlet Stores

Autumn Apparel: Fall Fashions for the Feminine Figure

Bargain-Hunter’s Bonanza: How to Shop in Factory Outlets

Consignment Classics: High Fashion Reincarnated

Compassion for Fashion: An Ode to Fashion Victims

Filene’s Basement Annual Bridal Gown Sale: The Brides Go Wild!

Heading for High Fashion with Hats

Hey, Supermodel!

How to Find a Clothing Swap in Your Area

Living Large as a Petite Lady

Renting Formalwear: Shop Smart and Look Sharp

Shoes to Dye For

Stepping Out in Style and Comfort

Style Revival: A Rhymed Passion for Lasting Fashion

Thrifty Is Nifty: Why Not Shop in a Thrift Store?

Vintage Clothing: What’s a Bargain and What Is Not

Vying for Vintage: Tips for Buying Vintage Clothing

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Thursday

Forming a Babysitting Co-op: Round-Robin Child Care


Forming a Babysitting Co-op: Round-Robin Child Care
How to Start a Babysitting Cooperative That Sticks

To parents with young children at home, a trusted babysitter is a treasure. Often, in neighborhoods with plenty of young families, eligible babysitters are in high demand. In addition, babysitting costs can add up quickly.

Creative parents look for ways to devise practical and safe child care plans for their toddlers and preschoolers, so that they can occasionally enjoy afternoons or evenings out.

In many subdivisions and neighborhoods, where young families abound, parents have pooled their parenting skills by forming babysitting cooperatives. These co-ops, or babysitting exchange networks, allow parents to care for one another’s children in turn.

Neighborhood associations may offer complex cooperative child care programs, including printed regulations and possibly elected directors. Others have much simpler systems.



Babysitting Co-op Bonuses

Before my children started school, we lived in a very friendly neighborhood, filled with young families. Tricycles and training wheels cluttered the sidewalk, every time the sun was shining. Swing-sets and sandboxes attracted neighborhood youngsters in droves. Kiddie pools were filled with splashing, shrieking tots.

Before long, the grownups became fast friends, sharing parenting pointers and fresh air.

In this happy and hospitable environment, several stay-at-home mothers put our heads together and developed a babysitting co-op. Using a simple system (earning and spending printed popsicle stick tokens), we cared for one another’s children once a week.

In our neighborhood, the babysitting co-op offered several important benefits to our families.



Trustworthy Babysitters

First, as stay-at-home mothers, we all agreed on the importance of relying on safe and skilled babysitters. Who could be more eligible to care for our children than other confident and capable parents? We knew our neighbors well, and we were able to trust one another.

After all, we had already shared many playground visits, museum and zoo trips and neighborhood events.



Super Socialization for Kids

Our children loved playing with their neighborhood pals, and the babysitting co-op allowed them one more opportunity to enjoy each other.

As neighbors, we made an informal pact to avoid television and video games during this window every week. The children interacted with each other instead, and they had a blast.

Each week, the babysitting co-op met at a different house, using scheduled rotations. The kids looked forward to playing with a new set of toys and fun project ideas, in a new environment, each week.



Nice Neighborhood Friends

The weekly babysitting co-op inspired us, as parents, to get to know one another better. Two mothers served as staff each week, so we shared responsibilities and fun together that way.

In time, many of us actually went shopping or elsewhere together, while our kids were occupied at that week’s babysitting co-op host home. Many fine friendships were formed.



A Most Welcome Respite for Parents

Of course, the most obvious benefit of the babysitting co-op is the periodic break that it offers to parents of young children. Many young mothers in our group were astonished to discover how much they needed a brief outing, or how quickly they could complete errands when they did so alone.

At the end of the three-hour break each week, most of us missed our youngsters and could hardly wait to retrieve them from the babysitting co-op host home.

A babysitting co-op can offer plenty of much-needed assistance to young families, provided the babysitting co-op is based on a simple, workable system with friendly and dependable people. After all, cooperation is the key to its success.



Practically a Playgroup

The simplest babysitting exchange network minimizes administration and complication. For example, our system employed a very basic playgroup model.

In our particular case, all of the participants in our babysitting exchange network happened to be stay-at-home mothers.

First, our group of mothers and children met at a local park to discuss the babysitting cooperative plan. Each mother received twenty plain craft sticks (like popsicle sticks), which were marked with a rubber stamped symbol.

Every Friday afternoon (from 3 pm to 6 pm), we would have playgroup, or co-op. The program would rotate among our homes. Two mothers would staff the playgroup each week. The others would drop their kids off at playgroup after naptime.

During the three-hour babysitting exchange session, the children would enjoy playtime, a basic craft (such as crayons, play-clay, bubbles or sidewalk chalk), and a snack. The cost for each session was one printed popsicle stick per child.

Of course, each mother would earn four popsicle sticks for serving as playgroup staff. Each mother was responsible for keeping track of her own popsicle sticks and stepping up to serve regularly.

Our babysitting exchange system worked smoothly and sociably for several years. It was easy, and no neighbor was required to shoulder administrative responsibilities.

One of the secrets to our babysitting exchange program’s success was probably our preexisting friendships. Even before we started our playgroup, we were socializing together and taking field trips with our children. The babysitting co-op simply made it official and efficient.



Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Babysitting Co-op: Round-Robin Child Care.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Moms: Be sure to check out the upcoming Mother's Day Blog Bash.

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Tuesday

Preschool Percussion – Making Music Can Be Fun



Preschool Percussion –
Making Music Can Be Fun

Children love making music. Step into any preschool or kindergarten classroom, and you will see kids banging and clanging. Anything that jingles can give them the tingles. Young children love bouncing and pouncing, dancing and prancing!

What could be more fun than creating your own do-it-yourself orchestra? Here are several simple entries that can be made at home or at school. Why not try it out for a youngster's birthday party or even just a rainy afternoon? Enlist kids to help with these fun musical craft ideas?

Bottle Cap Xylophone

Handy Castanets

Recycled Maracas

Super Sanders



Turn Up the Volume!

Click here for easy instructions for making and playing each of these kid-friendly percussion instruments.

Once your young musicians have chosen their instruments, you can switch on your favorite song. Try to pick lively music. Let them accompany the tunes you select! You’re making music together!


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Preschool Percussion – Making Music Can Be Fun.”

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Friday

Children Speak Out Sometimes – A CON-versation With My Star Pupils


Children Speak Out Sometimes – A CON-versation With My Star Pupils

The most interesting information
comes from children,
for they tell all they know
and then stop.
Mark Twain
(1835 – 1910)



Educational experts seem to agree. The very best teachers ask the right questions. Insightful inquiries tend to elicit intelligent responses and stimulate learning. That’s no secret. Trained instructors everywhere know this.

Students retain much more information, when they can come up with the answers themselves, instead of simply absorbing what others spout.

For this reason, skilled teachers try to draw ideas and information from their audiences, or students, by asking helpful questions. This strategy helps to keep active discussions on track, encourage student participation and keep classroom conversations moving in a constructive direction.

Of course, that may be so, in theory, but nine-year-old girls are another story altogether!

Here’s how it all got moving along:

Recently, I volunteered to teach the third grade girls at our church. The curriculum included a series of topics and activities, for which the children would earn badges and awards. Scripture memory work, hands-on crafts, creative projects and lively discussions were the primary projects of the program.

My co-leaders and I enjoyed a wonderful group of bright, high-energy young ladies. Our once-a-week gatherings with these kinetic kids quickly became the highlight of our week.

Conscience matters.

After a few months together, we started a unit called “Conscience: Gift from God.” The chapter began with a few important vocabulary words, which we needed to define together before moving on with the material.

During our teaching time, the word “conscience” was the answer I sought. However, as the teacher, I must have had the wrong question.

A single word can stop a teacher in nothing flat.

“What has God given to you, to help you to know right from wrong?” I asked.

“Parents?” one child responded.

“Well, that’s true,” I answered. Perhaps it was time to rephrase the question. “What has He given to all people, to help them to determine what is right and what is wrong?”

Police?” another suggested.

“Well, that may be true too, but that’s not the word I’m looking for here,” I said.

The girls looked puzzled. “It’s something God has given to everyone,” I added, as if that might help to elicit the vocabulary word I sought. “It’s something inside of you.”

My co-leader tried to help things along. “The word starts with ‘con,’” she said.

“And we all have it,” I added.

A hand shot up, right in the front row, followed by a voice. “Constipation?”



Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Children Speak Out Sometimes –A CON-versation With My Star Pupils.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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