Fall Gardening

We’ve improved our garden plot by the addition of some new raised beds.

Here’s some peppery mustard greens.

I was planning to give this potato vine a serious pruning, but it was full of birds and I didn’t have the heart.  The sparrow family was quarreling with the Anna’s hummingbirds while a scrub jay was watching from the sidelines.

I love plants with old English names.  Here’s TOADFLAX!



The Awful Mr. Noodles


Meet Mr. Noodles, the assassin.

Just last month I was sitting at my desk working on the family’s stamp album.  After a few hours of intense hobbying,  I decided to stand up, only to discover that someone had tied me to the chair.  Looking closer I saw, to my astonishment, that someone had wrapped my legs to the chair with a large quantity of green twine.  In fact, the whole room was garlanded with twine.  The assassin was perched on the chair planning his next move which I believe was to set the house on fire, knowing I could not escape.

That night, he carefully placed a broom across the bedroom door at shin height and sat nearby, waiting for me to trip in the dark,  which I surely did, without harm.   So why do I love this little monster so much?

Meanwhile,  today is the first day of Lent, the solemn day we remember Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

adam and eve

Adam was rightly exiled from Eden for not keeping
Thy one commandment, 
O Savior.  But what shall
I suffer who am always rejecting They living words?










Venerable Prochorus of the Kiev Near Caves


Black Friday

I ventured out this morning with some family members and did not observe any horror stories but I did see a lot of people shopping for presents for their families.  The day after Thanksgiving is not some kind of high holy day where we are all expected to stay home and feel superior to everyone else.   Why is it virtuous to skip Black Friday (which again, is not Thanksgiving nor is it Christmas) and spend twice as much later on in the month for the exact same thing?  Sure, the fights over electronics are sad but we don’t have to act like that,  we can be cheerful and thank the store clerks for being on duty.  We do not have to be cynical all the time.

Speaking of which,  here’s a cute sweater I got for my granddaughter:

sweaterShe will love it!  What would be the virtue in spending twice the price next week?

And while I’m at it…

Don’t be grouchy when some poor clerk says “Happy Holidays.”  They were probably ordered to say it and they are having enough stress this time of year without enduring any “Christian” snark. Just remember that “holiday” means “holy day”  and respond with “happy holy day to you too!”  And be sure to SMILE.  Make their day better,  not worse.

End of the Summer Garden

This year’s garden wasn’t especially pretty but we did get a lot of food out of it:  cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, carrots, kale, onions, cabbage, chard, pumpkins, potatoes, summer squash and a nice assortment of herbs.  Not a lot of tomatoes, though.   Still yet to ripen:   apples and corn.  All the fruit-  cherries, raspberries, and apricots-  were eaten up by the birds, I think.  Somebody ate them and it wasn’t me!   We didn’t have gophers this year but that little white butterfly that lays gray eggs on cabbage-family vegetables which hatch into voracious green worms-  we had plenty of them.   The grape vine was very pretty but never had any grapes.  Maybe next year.  Here’s a few photos: pumpkinsgrapevine

A Good Smoothie

Chard, bananas, carrots, frozen pineapple, flax seeds, a kiwi and an apple.

Everyone in the Blender!




Blurry but tasty!


The July Massacree

Someone recently asked me about my chickens and my “chicken blog” and I realized I hadn’t updated Xenia’s Garden since June! One July  night while we were out of town some animal-  a skunk or a raccoon or maybe it was an inter-species conspiracy-  invaded the back yard, killing Ruby,  my Rhode Island Red and all three lovebirds, who were sitting on a nest of four eggs,  just about ready to hatch.  They almost got the guinea pigs, too.  My daughter came out to the back yard that morning to check on the animals and found blood, feathers, smashed eggs,  and what was left of Ruby.   The villain snatched her off her roost as she slept. We cleaned up the mess and fortified the chicken pen.  We got four new chicks and a parakeet (Mr. Peeps) to replace the lovebirds.    The little hens are nearly grown and get along well with the two hens from the origianal flock,  Rita and Rhonda.   Rhonda is still alive, by the way, but she has a “pendulous crop” and hardly lays any eggs.  She’s still my favorite. Here’s the new girls:

Louise, Rhoda, Goldy and Daisy

I found a very useful web site for the Saints of the day:  Eternal Orthodox Calendar.

Today the Church commemorates St. James, the brother of the Lord.

Feverfew Tincture

I have always had migraine headaches.   They were never severe enough to get prescription medicine but I went through quite a few bottles of Exedrin for Migraines.  I had always heard that the herb feverfew,  a daisy-like plant that seems  related to chamomile,  made a good preventative.   I ordered a pack of seeds from Seeds of Change,  planted them,  and now I have large flowering feverfew plants all over the yard as they reseed prolifically.  It is a very pretty plant!   I originally ate the leaves but now I make a tincture of the leaves and take a spoonful each morning.  I learned how to make the tincture from Mother Olga at St. Xenia’s Skete.   I am not a doctor or a medical professional or an herbologist and I’m not prescribing or even making any suggestions but I can say that I hardly ever get a migraine anymore.   It’s not a remedy to take if you are in the middle of a migraine;  it’s something you take everyday to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.   But again,  I am just telling you a story and not making any suggestions or offering advice!  You might be allergic to it, for all I know.  Be careful!

Here’s a lovely feverfew plant in the backyard:


Harvest leaves before the flowers form,  if you think about it soon enough.  Otherwise,  go ahead and pick a quart jar full of clean dry (DRY) leaves,  leaving out flowers, buds and stems.   Now take a bottle of  CHEAP VODKA and pour it over the leaves,  cover,  shake good,  and leave it in a dark-ish place for a month.  Give it a good shake when you think about it.  After a month,  strain the dark green liquid into a clean jar and there you have it!  I take a spoonful each day but I am not making any suggestions or prescriptions or offering advice for any of you folks!


Finished Tincture

Remember, you didn’t hear it from me.

Today is the first day of the Apostles’ Fast.

Saints Peter and Paul

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