Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

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Last-minute gifts never smelled so good

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, December 13, 2010

Scent is one way to connect to the outdoors, even when you and the

garden are hibernating a bit over the winter.

For an extended-family Christmas party exchange of homemade gifts, I
mixed up a dozen bottles of linen spray with oils from Scentsations
Body Bar, 634 Main St., No. 103. It's in the breezeway of Sentinel
Square, across from The Winery. Scentsations will custom-blend your
lotions, sprays, shower gels and more on the spot, or sell you the
oils by the ounce to mix at home.

I mixed multiple batches of linen spray using the following
instructions and was happy with the results.

Linen Spray
1 teaspoon essential oil (or combination of oils)
1/4 cup unflavored vodka
3 1/2 cups purified water

In a large bowl, mix the oil and vodka together. Vodka works as an
emulsifier, allowing the oil and water to mix evenly. (Buy the
cheapest you can find, of course.) Add the water, mix and pour into
empty spray bottles. Shake well before each use.

This first blend I dubbed Mountain Meadow. It's equal parts Bergamot,
Ylang Ylang, Green Tea and Rain. There's a Piñon Pine-scented oil that
reminds me of warm days on Glade Park. I'll try that next, maybe with
Rain or something else soft and light. Selecting oils is a treat in
and of itself.

I spritz linen spray when I iron, when I change sheets, and when I
put away towels. Every time I do, I'm reminded of longer, warmer days


Oh, Christmas tree

By Carol Clark
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Every Christmas you are alive should be a special Christmas, but some are more special than others. Your first Christmas married, or your grandchild's first Christmas. During these years you want to do something meaningful, that you and your loved ones will remember for years to come.

Several years ago, a family member had their first daughter and we gave them a living Christmas tree. They enjoyed the tree during the Christmas week and then proudly planted the tree right in the middle of their front lawn. As their daughter grew, so grew the tree.

Bookcliff Gardens still has a variety of beautiful, aromatic, living Christmas trees.

   Beautiful Blue Spruces


















Bachere Spruce (my favorite)  
















Fir Trees



After you choose the right tree for the area you plan to plant it in, gradually introduce your tree to the indoors by placing it in a covered porch or in the garage for three or four days.

Place the tree away from heat sources in the house, if possible, to prevent it coming out of dormancy. Leave the tree inside only for seven to ten days and slowly reintroduce it back to the outside.

This is such a special gift and you can point to it someday and say,

"This is your tree", or
"Remember when we did that?"


Christmas, outside in

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Christmas I am more determined than ever to pare down the fussy decor and use simple, organic items for their fragrance, their authentic beauty, their frugaility and, quite frankly, their disposability.

A wreath from the Orchard Mesa Tree Farm is an easy choice for the front door and has the added benefit of supporting a local farmer.



Mixed nuts in a yard sale wooden bowl is both nutrition and ornamentation.  





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           A grocery store rosemary tree on the dining room table wafts rosemary scent with every brush of the hand. 

  When Chrismas is over, we'll dry and store the needles for seasoning dishes the rest of the winter.


















Oranges studded with whole cloves combine the two scents I identify most with Christmas, after the natural pine tree, of course.

What do you do to bring a little of the natural world indoors for the holidays?


Decking the halls

By Carol Clark
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Decking the halls. My favorite Christmas tradition. Usually. This year I have had a total lack of motivation. Maybe because my kids are grown and we have no little ones around to make magic for... or maybe because we haven't had that big dump of snow yet....or maybe my shoes are too tight.. or my heart is two sizes too small.    

Whatever the reason, I decided to do a little cyber shopping for inspiration and found some amazing wreaths on Williams-Sonoma.com.


I love the natural, not too gaudy, look when it comes to Christmas decorations and found this Bay Leaf wreath. Not only does it smell great, but you can use it in your kitchen as well!







Or, try a cluster of pink pepperberries, & blue juniper berries nestled in noble fir with eucalyptus leaves.





How about the soothing scent of English lavender?








The perfect "green" gifts - A simple pine treat wrapped with a bow.

Or a basket of greens for the front door?

These all make beautiful decorations AND gifts. Send your gifts early so the lucky recipient can enjoy them all season long.


"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." ~Dr Seuss


The last green stuff still growing

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Although we’ve had several hard frosts, my front flower bed is overrun with parsley, and it's putting up a valiant fight to survive.

I knew it was on borrowed time, so I picked it, tried to use it, hung it up to dry and gave it away every chance I got. 


My husband also got the bad news back that his cholesterol was too high, so I’ve been trying to cook more fish, especially the ones that are packed with Omega-3 fatty acid. When I found a pasta recipe that not only combined canned sardines (very high in Omega-3), but also incorporated lots of garlic and parsley, I had to try it. Well, technically, I had to modify it because I can’t seem to follow a recipe, but mine was similar to the original.






The result was delish, but I should preface that by saying that I love all things fishy. My husband is not so fond of sardines, but after he got over the first bite, which was quite a strong-flavored morsel, it grew on him. I will cook it again, but next time I’ll add kalamata olives because I like them and think they’ll help curb the strong sardine flavor.



In the meantime, here’s the recipe: (Keep in mind that I didn’t actually measure anything, so everything’s just a guesstimate)

2 cans sardines (I found some that were packed in tomatoes and basil, which I thought was pretty perfect to go with pasta)
1 pkg whole-wheat pasta
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 to ½ C chopped red onion
3 minced garlic cloves
½ C chopped dried or sundried tomatoes
1/3 – ½ C pine nuts
1 -2 tbsp dried basil
½ C white wine
2 C chopped parsley
1 C chicken broth
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 ½ tsp capers
salt, black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta – this is a quick recipe. While water is heating, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in a large sauté pan. When slightly caramelized, add the pine nuts and sardines (you can add them whole – they’ll break up and crumble as the sauce cooks), basil and tomatoes, then wine. Let the liquid reduce by half. Toss in the parsley, add the chicken broth.
Hopefully, your water boiled and you’ve been cooking your pasta because now it’s time to drain the pasta, stir it into the sauce, along with the lemon zest, juice and capers. Several good rounds of fresh ground pepper are necessary, as is a liberal sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

I anticipate that if we do get those single-digit lows, my parsley will die. My husband will breathe a sigh of relief. He won't have to eat this pasta again until March when the parsley starts growing again. 

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