Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Iris the 'flower of light"

Photo from Martin LaBar, Flickr.com

Are you a fan of the bearded iris? They are available in a rainbow of colors, and my friend talked enthusiastically to me about iris today. But, oops, although they are gorgeous, we can't plant them until July 1 to October 31 here in California, and at the earlier part of that season for colder climates.

Iris is named for the Greek goddess, Iris, who is the personification of the multi-hued rainbow and a messenger. In the language of flowers, receiving Iris means the sender has a message for you. Another name for these flowers is fleur-de-luce or "Flower of light." The Iris is said to have been brought from heaven to Clovis I, the first Christian king of France.

As the season approaches for planting these colorful garden "flowers of light" I will post more details for planting them.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

sweet peas

sweet peas
Originally uploaded by nuanc

Photo uploaded on September 24, 2005by nuanc

Sweet peas are such perfect plants, with their range of colors, delectable scents, and ease of growing. As soon as your climate and soil allow, plant sweet pea seeds. The widely known types are vines, however I always plant knee high or bush sweet peas. These don’t need fences or trellises to climb on.

Since the seeds are as hard as pebbles, you may want to nick each one slightly with a nail clipper or metal nail file, or soak them for an hour or more. Some years I skip this step and just plant the seeds and keep them well watered. I recommend for bush type sweet peas, Little Sweetheart, Heirloom Cupid, Bijou and Knee-Hi.

For information on the Irish tradition of planting sweet peas by lamplight in the dark hours between sunset the evening before Saint Patrick’s Day, and sunrise that morning, I wrote an article you can read at http://www.positivelyfeminine.org/Creative/garden/th/sweetpea.htm

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Garlic and Onions

"We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions and the garlic." Numbers 11:5-6
Garlic and onions, all members of the Allium genus, were important parts of the human diet as far back as 3200 B.C., and fed the workers who built the pyramids of Egypt.

My friend, Terry, mentioned that she has sets of onions and garlic, and that it will soon be time to plant them, here in California.Wherever you live, as soon as your climate permits, I recommend planting these little culinary workhorses.

Until I planted my own garlic I never knew how delicately flavorful the leaves are in salads or cooking. Delicious, and pretty much the only way to enjoy the leaves is by growing your own garlic.

I haven't tried growing onions and garlic from seed, since the sets are so easy and quick. Set in the dirt, cover with said dirt, and voila: you will be harvesting onions and garlic within a month or two.

photo is from christing-O at creativecommons

Originally uploaded by christing-O-

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Name your must have plants

Hi gardeners,
Do you have any plants you consider essential?
Post them in a comment if you are so inspired.
For my vegie patch, tomatoes, basil and cilantro are must haves.
I have 4 roses that I am fond of. One multiflora pink rose arches over a statue of Mary, so is the focal point, with her, of my little ol Mary Garden.
Rosemary also graces her garden, and it is super to have fresh rosemary sprigs available. Just put a few sprigs in the oven when baking chicken or roasting beef.
The branches are also fun to add to charcoal briquets, for outdoor grilling.
I also admire my two cantua plants, which are about seven feet tall, and have splashy red trumpet shaped flowers most of the year, that hummingbirds like. The cantua is the national flower of Chile, and my friend from Santiago told me about its beauty.
Any favorites you want to share?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Writing Book Recommended

I mentioned that the Christian Writer’s Market is a great resource for writers, at any stage in our journey. I wanted to tell you about some of the features the compiler, Sally Stuart, offers each year, as a new edition is published. The 2008 edition I ordered hasn’t arrived yet, so I am looking at my 2006 edition.

Writers today have to familiarize ourselves with the business side of writing, in addition to learning top notch writing skill. The days of Henry Thoreau, or Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy, when writing talent alone sufficed for acclaim and selling books, are long past. We need to know about the dreaded field of marketing ourselves, for heaven’s sake.

I, for one, would prefer simply to write, and submit queries to magazines and book publishers.

Sally Stuart’s CWM 2006 offers info on topics including Blogging, Find Quotes, Book Reviewers, Ethnic Writing, Christian Writers Conferences, Area Writers Groups, Book Promotion and beyond.

This blog is part of my foray into building a platform, as it is called, and I also have a presence at www.shoutlife.com/terrahangen. My blog and the Shoutlife page are free, thank goodness!

Most writers today feel they need a blog and a website, and they are wise when they decide to create these. This does take time away from writing, but is an important piece of the puzzle of being published and selling what we write.
If you have a blog, let me know, and I will visit it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rainy Day Book

I wrote an essay "Books That Hug You" that is published in this book. I recommend several books that lift your spirits. This is the first book I contributed to.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Signing my first book contract

Christmas Book written by friends
January 15, 2008 is a red letter day for me. The breathlessly awaited contract, signed by the three Ohio Word Quilters the previous Friday, arrived in my California mail box today.
The U.S. postal service is very dependable, thank goodness.

This is the first book I have written, which our group has titled “Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.” We six writers, while separated by miles, co-wrote the book, as we were united in spirit and writing enthusiasm.

Our book makes Christmas a longed for and enjoyed Holy Day that will engage each reader. We crafted lots of fun tips, recipe ideas, and personal family stories, from the silly to the sublime.
Purple stockings. Grandma’s snow angel. The recipe for King Cake, which was new to me. Christmas camping in the Everglades, a tale of my family of four plus Chile, our somewhat brave chihuahua, heading to the tip of Florida, from our snow bound Wisconsin home.

With our book we get you energized with scads of great ideas, for sharing with others in need, favorite children’s Christmas books and fabulous treasured family recipes.

We dream big: our hope is that we will all meet in person for the first time, when Oprah invites us to share our Word Quilters writing journey on her show.

The beginnings of the writing life are often slow and lonely, and will be enriched by writing friends, and by every person who tells me that they love what I write.

Wow. What a blessing to hear from one person that he/she enjoyed my jottings. I often write about gardening, and hear from a few people that they used my idea, or were inspired to buy a bare root rose or plant a “rebellious morning glory”.

If you love an author, consider sending them a note.
I wrote to only two authors thus far, by U.S. mail, and both sent me hand written notes that I treasure. Sheldon Vanauken and Madeleine L’Engle. What gracious people they were. They have since graduated to heaven.

So consider thanking a writer today. They will appreciate your encouragement. And look for our book, Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, published by Leafwood, this fall.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friendship Online

Online friendship

Have you made friends that you have “met” only virtually, on the Internet, through emails? Can these friends be truly life affirming, trust worthy, and an important part of your life?

Some of you, like me, already have found that the answer to this question is “yes.” Can you successfully collaborate to write a book together? YES indeedy.

I have five close friends, living in three states, in an online writers group, that began very informally in the fall of 2005. As we each reached out, carefully, we began to know and trust each other. Sometimes I could share a heart ache with my virtual sisters that I didn’t care to share with my coworkers. Since, for us, our initial common link is that we are all Christian writers, we share both faith and writing concerns with each other.

Being a writer has a lonely aspect to it. We six gals are all married with children, but when we sit down to write, we are alone. We feel sweetly connected as we write in our homes in Texas, Ohio and California. Others that love us are supportive, but writers share a special bond. We know how rejection stings, and acceptance sings! In our stalwart band, we commiserate about having editors say harsh no, and cheer lead for each other when a much more discerning editor says yes.

In the world of freelance writing, both for magazines and newspapers, and for books, the number of rejections is overwhelmingly more than the number of acceptances (except for Stephen King or John Grisham or Cecil Murphey, of course).

We have taken the group name of Word Quilters, and our members are Cathy Messecar, Karen Robbins, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, and myself, Terra Hangen. The book we wrote together, under the leadership of Cathy, is A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, to be published by Leafwood in October 2008.

Excitement builds for me as the contract for our book is headed to my home, via the U.S. mail. It was mailed to me yesterday, January 11, 2008, for future historians wanting to track the history of this brilliant (smile) group. The topic of the book is Christmas and bringing the joy of the holy day to your house, and leaving out any stressful aspects.

My husband promises to take a photo of me signing my very first book contract. Hey, Karen, Leslie, Cathy, Trish and Brenda, I love you babes!


Originally uploaded by Gertrud K.

Roses: Bare root beauty from Billy Graham tea rose to Barbara Streisand tree rose

Lots of us love to grow roses, and for gardeners in my climate zone of 9, in California, now is a fine time to buy bare root roses. Here are the first paragraphs of my January garden column at Positivelyfeminine.org, shared here for your enjoyment.
Bare Root Roses
The Reverend Samuel Reynolds Hole wrote truly, “He who must have beautiful roses in his garden, must have beautiful roses in his heart.” Born in 1819 this much loved preacher went on to preach in 500 churches, was the friend of Dickens and Thackeray, and was called “the rose king” by Lord Tennyson.

We hope to have beautiful roses in our hearts and in our gardens, and the colder months are the ideal time to buy and plant bare root roses. Bare root roses are less expensive and offer an almost unlimited palette of colors and types to grace your garden.

My favorite rose source is a small family owned nursery called Roses of Yesterday. http://www.rosesofyesterday.com/ 831 728-1901. Other outstanding nurseries are Jackson and Perkins, http://www.jacksonandperkins.com/ toll-free 1 877 322-2300, and Edmunds’ Roses http://www.edmundsroses.com/ 1 888 481-7673. Heirloom Roses sells many rare roses including the Buck Hardy Rose Bushes. Dr. Buck is described as an artist of plant breeding. http://www.heirloomroses.com/ 503 538-1576. These websites offer excellent information on how to select, plant and nurture your roses.

For more information on bare root roses and the rest of my article visit http://www.positivelyfeminine.org/Creative/garden/th/roses.htm

Monday, January 7, 2008

Christian Writers Markets

I consider that this book by Sally Stuart is an essential guide for anyone writing for Christian magazines and websites, and for writers who seek publication for their book. I am frugal, so buy a copy every other year, and this is my year again, 2008, to buy it. There are lots of tips here for people seeking publication.