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Spring Is In The Air & It’s Azalea Time!

Spring is in the air, and it’s azalea time in the San Mateo and Palatka areas.  The azaleas are particularly beautiful this year and we had a mild winter, and the warm weather came early.  As you know, we have been re-landscaping the church gardens.  Here is a look at the gardens in their current state.  We have a collection of mature azaleas that have been here for many years, and we boast 7 different colors.  I would have to say, they are more beautiful than Ravine Gardens, which is a State Park here in Palatka that hosts an Azalea Festival the 1st weekend of March each year, but I might be a bit biased.  Here’s a stroll around the grounds and see the beauty here!





Re-Landscaping the Church Gardens

We belong to a tiny historic Church here in NE Florida.  A lot of the members are descendants from the original founders back from 1892.  It’s a little Norman Rockwell looking church with a great “family” congregation and a super Pastor.  During my winter hiatus I worked on re-landscaping the gardens around the Church.  The majority of the plantings around the Church are azaleas, so I wanted to be sure that these were saved, fertilized, and properly watered.  The techniques used in this application could be applied anywhere, especially at your home and garden.

Attached are some “before” and “after” photos which really tell the story better than any words I could say.  What they say is true, a picture is worth a thousand words.  But I will try to break down the steps I took in getting the gardens back up to looking as they should look to give glory to the Lord.

First I had to remove all the old plants that had either died or were in the process of dying.  Then came the weeding.  Oh my, the weeding took some time and hard work.  You want to first spray as many of the weeds with Roundup and let it sit about a week to give the weeds time to die off .  This will make it slightly (and only slightly) easier to pull the weeds.  A lot of the weeds in the open area could be pulled up with the use of a garden hoe.  That way you can get down to the roots.  Weeds that were closer to the existing plants had to be pulled by hand individually.

 While the weeding was going on, another member of the Church (my new best friend Ron) was reworking the sprinkler system.  Since this Church has been there for 120 years, I’m not sure when the sprinkler system was installed, but I can tell you it must have been a really long time ago.  There is no electrical outlet on the outside of the building so therefore, there is no automatic sprinkler controls.  I asked the Building & Grounds Chairman where were the valves to turn on the sprinklers.  He showed me a cluster of 6 foot tall Canna Lilies on the side of the Church.  The valves and the valve box were buried under the Canna Lilies.  Does that tell you how long it had been since the sprinklers had been turned on?  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the location and condition of the valve box, but basically, the valves were below ground level.  The valves were also leaking, so the valve box would be partially full of water and mud, and whatever else.  In order to turn the valves on, which were 2 zones the east and west side of the church, I had to wear long rubber gloves and stick my hand down in the muck to accomplish my task.  Also, you had to kneel down on the ground with a rubber pad just to get down to the valves.  Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation.

Enter Ron, the Super Sprinkler Man of the church.  You’ve heard of Super Man, well we have a Super Sprinkler Man!  First Ron had to dig up that 6 foot tall stand of Canna Lilies.  What a job that was!  Then several of the heads and pipes were broken.  Those he replaced (he was real good with the pvc pipe and all the materials that went along with sprinkler repair).  Needless to say, a lot of the sprinkler heads were not the correct type for that area of the garden.  So a lot of new sprinkler heads were bought to replace along the garden area; then they all had to be adjusted so that they would water the plants without getting too much water on the building or the sidewalks.

Another issue Ron had to address is that the flower bed that ran along the front handicap ramp had the sprinkler lines running right down the center.  The plants, which were Indian Hawthorns, were placed between the sprinklers and the sidewalk, causing the bush to hang out over the sidewalk.  Plus, they were planted in an unusual way, kind of bunched upped together.  Ron dug a trench along the ramp, and with the use of some 90 degree “L” connectors, he moved the sprinkler line along the ramp so that we could add side strip sprinkler heads and the plants could then be planted down the center and have room to grow in either direction.  The sprinkler heads would then water just the plants and not the sidewalk.  We first tried transplanting the Indian Hawthorns, but since they were not in the best condition when we transplanted them, they were looking a little sickly, so I replaced them with dwarf azaleas to tie in with the rest of the landscaping.  These were the only Indian Hawthorns on the property, so they really didn’t go with the rest of the scheme.  Unfortunately, we were both so busy working on this project and the weeding, I did not get photos of every step.  But I think you can get an idea from the before and after photos.

Super Sprinkler Man Ron also had to dig up the valves and move them both up above ground.  He also added a water spicket so that we could attach a hose or fill a bucket with water.  Ron also added mulch and a stepping stone to make the area look real nice and function the best.  How great that is now that when I come to water the plants, all I have to do is drive up, jump out of the van, turn on one zone, and I can go back home for about 45 minutes, then come back and turn on the second zone and repeat the procedure.  THANKS RON!  One day we hope to have an automatic control, but this works fine for now.  I go over twice a week to water the plants and it is so quick and easy now.  Good thing we only live about 4 minutes from the Church!


Buying new plants to replace those that had died, or to lay out a whole new garden was the next step.  There was a grouping of plumbagos in the back between the 2 air conditioning units.  Now there seemed to be some tension about me pulling up those plumbagos.  I’m not really sure what the sentimentality of it all was, perhaps someone planted them many years ago, but they were not being tended to nor were they being watered (see sprinkler info above).  When I did try to get some kind of shaped to them, the limbs literally crumbled in my hands like freeze dried space food.

The Pastor was hoping to have a butterfly garden for the children.  Naturally I thought that the space between the 2 air conditioning units in the back of the church would be the perfect place for such a garden, since the children’s Sunday School building was right behind the church building, and this garden area was between the two.  Well I have to tell you there were many tense moments prior to me digging up those dead plumbagos, so I had to be sure I had enough plants to put in their place once they were gone and it all had to be done on the same day so that there was no blank spot in the garden.

Since it was the end of the season I was able to get some real bargains at the local home improvement store.  The church does not really have a budget item set aside for landscaping other than the grass mowing and edging.  So this was going to have to be donated plants.  I was able to find chrysanthemums, blue daze, and Boston ferns at 99 cents each!  Then I brought some lantana from my garden, bought some heather, azaleas, gardenias, and cape honeysuckle at regular price, and it all worked out quite well, if I do say so myself.  The Pastor’s wife Betty Jane also brought in a lot of plants from her garden, a type of lily with long fronds as well as mondo grass.


It’s amazing what a few new plants and about 100 bags of mulch will do for the garden!


We live in a rural community, and the little towns around here sometimes have a “city wide” yard sale.  I wanted some type of trellis to put the honeysuckle vine on to block the view of the A/C units, but the trellises I saw at garden shops were so expensive.  I went to one of these small town yard sales looking for a trellis.  Low and behold, the last booth that I came to at the very end of the yard sale area there was this metal head board and foot board, painted black with vining leaves on it for $15.  SOLD!  I brought them back, and even though they don’t cover up all the A/C units, once the honeysuckle vines begins to grow, hopefully you will notice the flowers and not the A/C units.

Since there is a large area of white clapboard behind the church, I thought if we had a red crepe myrtle tree in the center of the garden, when the red blooms were drooping down, I felt it would somewhat symbolizes Jesus’ hanging on the cross with his red blood.  I know that may or may not appeal to a lot of folks, but since this was a historic church, I thought symbolism might be the right thing to do.  Since it was the winter we have to wait for spring for a crepe myrtle, so in the meantime, I placed a bird feeder on a shepher’s hook and boy, the little birds and a family of Cardinals really like it!

Back Again After a Short Break

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors,

I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, photos, and a whole new array of projects in 2012.  I took  a short hiatus to work over at my Church, tend to our business of forensic work, went through the holidays, preparing the taxes for the IRS submission, etc.

Featured on my blog will be some of the projects I worked on at the Church which can be applied to all other situations & locations, including your home.  My husband and I also put together a website for the church which I think is pretty phenomenal, if I do say so myself.  It’s a tiny little church, about 80 members, but you just can’t imagine all the things that this little congregation does and gets accomplished.  If you would like, please go to the site:  www.sanmateopresbyterianchurch.com and see all the events, activities, projects, and everything that this church does.  The previous church that we were members of has over 1,200 members, and they don’t do or accomplish anywhere near what our little San Mateo church accomplishes.  Hope you enjoy seeing our “little” church.

I thank you for your patience and understanding while I was away, and really appreciate you keeping up with my blog.  So get ready for a New Year, 2012 will be an fun, exciting, & beautiful time for us all!

Yours very truly,


Shepherd in a Manger

Shepherd Dog in a Manger

Shepherd Dog in a Manger


Found on the Internet / Facebook:

A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard.
During the night, someone came across this.
An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort.
No one had the heart to send him away so he was there all night.
We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus’ lap from time to time.
This is too sweet not to share.
No one mentioned that the dog breed is a “shepherd!”

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year – and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.  Authors:  Ray Stannard Baker – David Grayson

Holy Smoke, You’re Awesome Day!

From one gorgeous gal to another ……. Today is National ‘HOLY SMOKE, YOU’RE AWESOME’ Day!  Just thought you would enjoy some cute signs sent to me via email from a friend of ours.  It’s GREAT to be a woman, lady, and especially a “La-Di-Da Lady”!









Cooking Tip of the Day: Adding Beans

If you want to increase the portion of a ground meat base that you are making, whether it’s beef, turkey, pork, etc. and do it economically and healthy, try adding some beans to the mixture.  You can use dry beans that you cooked, even left over cooked beans will work.  The easiest method for me is to add beans that are in the can already prepared.  You can used pinto, black bean, kidney beans, white beans, or whichever are your favorites.  If you don’t want to make your meat mixture more on the dry side, then be sure and drain the liquid from the can beans.  If you want to have a little “gravy” in your meat mixture, then leave the liquid and pour in the whole can.

By adding beans, you not only expand the dish to feed more people, which is great if you have a large family or are cooking for a family gathering or party, but you also add the healthy benefits of fiber and antioxidants from the beans.  It also add texture to your meat base.  Then you can use the meat base mixture for spaghetti sauce, tacos, enchiladas, meat pies, etc.


Cooking Tip of the Day: Be Creative with Herbs

Sweet Basil Blooming

Sweet Basil Blooming

Whether you have an herb garden, or if you buy herbs at the store, don’t be afraid to be creative with your herbs.  On my patio I have growing Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, and Sage.  Even though a recipe may call for one particular type of herb, let’s say you don’t have that type of herb, then use another type.  What I like to do is clip a sprig of each type of herb I have, wash it thoroughly, take off the leaves, and chop all the different types of herbs together.  You would be surprised the melody of flavors that come from preparing a meal that way.

One dish that I prepare uses the cod fish fillets that I get frozen at the big box store such as Costco.  After defrosting, I put the fillets in a small skillet (1 fillet per person usually) with a little bit of olive oil (about a teaspoon or so) and then I chop up a mixture of all my herbs and sprinkle the chopped herbs on top of the fish fillets and cover so the fish will steam cook for about 15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flaky when you use a fork.

Another great idea for the “herb mixture” is to make a salad using whatever type of garden greens you like.  I usually use a mixture of Romaine and Red Leaf lettuce, maybe some cucumber, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc.  Then I add the “herb mixture” and toss it thoroughly.  Then try not using any salad dressing, maybe just a squirt of lemon or lime, maybe a small dash of olive oil.  You will be amazed at how flavorful your salad is.  You can taste all the individual herbs, your taste buds will thank you for such an aromatic explosion of flavors.  And you will save a lot of calories by not using a heavy, creamy salad dressing!  Try it once and you will change the way you have salads.


Tale of the Missing Socks

September 17, 2011 Critter Corner, Home Charms 1 Comment
Penelope Resting with her Socks & Toys

Penelope Resting with her Socks & Toys

My cat Penelope wears socks.  Yes, you heard correctly, socks.  She’s a little over 15 years old now and has arthritis in her back legs.  This causes her to be a little unsteady when using the litter box.  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes after she tinkles she looses her balance and steps in the clump of wet litter.

Before we discovered the “sock solution” she would get the clumping litter stuck on her foot, her fur, and between her toes.  Of course we were worried that she might lick the wet litter to clean herself and it would get clumped up in her stomach, but miraculously we did not see her do that.  She cleans herself everywhere else, but she did not seem to want to mess with that wet litter on her foot.

But of course we were also worried that the tinkle would infect her foot if we didn’t get it off right away.  So under the water spigot she would go, at least her foot would go, and of course she did not like that.  It was a two person job, myself and my husband, but if he wasn’t around, it was a real tough job to get that foot clean, but somehow we always prevailed.

One day an idea came to me to get baby socks and put them on her feet.  That way when a sock got soiled (she usually only soiled one at a time) we simply slipped it off and replaced it with a clean sock.  I measured her foot from toe to ankle, and then up her leg.  As luck would have it, Walmart had a package of cotton baby socks with the exact measurement!  A third of the package were white with little purple hearts, one third with purple stripes, and one third all purple.  It’s interesting that the heart socks fit perfectly, and the striped and purple socks seemed to be a bit larger, so they slip sometimes.  Therefore I try to keep the heart ones washed and ready to go.

Penelope's New Socks

Penelope's New Socks

Penelope took to them right away.  They didn’t seem to bother her, she didn’t try to shake them off, and she walks just the way she always has with them on.  Of course her walk is a little funny with that arthritis situation going on.

As I mentioned before, I try to use the heart ones, so after washing them I started to loose one at a time.  I knew how many I put in the washing machine, but when I took them out, one would be missing.  This happened 3 times.  I looked and looked, both in the washer and the dryer (they are both front loaders) and I couldn’t find where they could have been swallowed up by the washer.

After the loss of the 3rd sock, I realized that putting them loose in the washer was not going to work, and I didn’t want to loose any more of the heart socks because those are the ones that fit Penelope best.  Then I came across a small mesh zipper bag that I had in my hosiery drawer.  Since I don’t wear pantyhose very often anymore, I had completely forgotten about that little mesh bag.  Well, that did the trick.  By putting the little socks in the mesh bag, they would no longer get loose in the washer.  This is something ladies with babies might want to try also with their small washables, as I am sure you have probably found missing socks and so forth when they were put in loose into the washer.

The Socks the Washer Gobbled Up

The Socks the Washer Gobbled Up

One day a week or two back when I was pulling out the wash to put in the dryer, one of the socks fell on the floor, mingled in with the fresh wash.  Well it was totally gray with mold/mildew and we threw it in the trash.  But I looked again and the only place where there was an opening was where the water came out, and I couldn’t imagine how it would have gone in there.

Then today, after doing a load of towels, another sock fell to the floor, all grey with mold/mildew again.  This time I was determined to find where that missing sock came from.  I looked and looked then I leaned against the rubber casing that went around the outer rim of the door opening to the front loader.  I thought that rubber was attached to the metal housing that the drum fit into.  But it is NOT.  Upon pushing down further on the rubber gasket, I could see inside a rim that went around the drum housing, and there was the third sock!  Just lying there in all its glory!  Upon further inspection, I realize this must be some type of lint filter for the washer, as there was other fragments of lint mashed in along the side, which was easy to clean out, now that I know the rubber gasket opens up!  Of course we threw these two socks away also, since washing all the mildew might not all come out, and we wouldn’t want that to go onto Penelope’s feet.

So the moral of this story is, if you loose a small article of clothing in your front loading washer, then push down the rubber gasket around the door opening and look for that cavity below it, you might be surprised what you find.

Nautical Theme Countertop

October 25, 2009 Home Charms No Comments
Nautical Theme Countertop

Nautical Theme Countertop

Typically in Boca Raton, older homes on the water are considered “tear downs” and when sold, they are bulldozed and McMansions are put in their place.  We lived in such an older home (40 + years old) and on a wide canal just off the Intracoastal Waterway, so we knew if the home was ever sold, it would probably meet the fate of the bulldozer.  Of course, at the time, I thought we would be in that home till they carried me out feet first, or we went to an old age home.  During our remodel of our Boca home, we decided to incorporate materials, textures, and items we liked into the project, not for resale value, but since we had planned to be there many years, things that we would love and enjoy on a daily basis. … Continue Reading

Onyx Fireplace Surround

October 3, 2009 Home Charms No Comments
Oynx Fireplace Surround

Oynx Fireplace Surround

When we remodeled our small 40 year old single story ranch style home in Boca Raton a few years back, we decided to decorate and design it to match our lifestyle and use top of the line materials, as we were not designing for resale, but for our own enjoyment.  We, or at least I, thought that we would be there till we went to the old age home.  Our home was on a canal just off the Intracoastal Waterway, and in our neighborhood, older homes were bought for land value, bulldozed, then McMansions were built in their place because of the limited amount of waterfront property.   So we knew whoever bought our home would probably bulldoze it, so we really made it warm, cozy, and inviting to fit our tastes.  And since the home was on the small size, but using higher end materials, we did not spend that much as we were buying smaller quantities. … Continue Reading

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Critter Corner

Alligators In Our Yard!

July 17, 2012

  You have to look real close, but the gator is resting behind the sago palm and the water’s edge.  Needless to say, I too these photos from inside the house and did not go out to get a closer inspection. The Alligator Trapper caught “the big one” which was 12 foot plus.  Here he […]

Back Again After a Short Break

February 2, 2012

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors, I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, […]

Shepherd in a Manger

November 20, 2011

  Found on the Internet / Facebook: A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night, someone came across this. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away so he was there […]

Tale of the Missing Socks

September 17, 2011

My cat Penelope wears socks.  Yes, you heard correctly, socks.  She’s a little over 15 years old now and has arthritis in her back legs.  This causes her to be a little unsteady when using the litter box.  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes after she tinkles she looses her balance and steps in the clump of […]

Pets and the Joy They Bring

September 16, 2011

Having a pet, be it a cat, dog, bird, fish, horse, pig, or whatever furry creature you relate to, is a positive and healthy experience.  Studies have proven that they can extend our lives, lower our blood pressure, and pretty much make us feel good all over because they give us unconditional love. You may […]