Saturday, May 30, 2015

7 Important Tips for Growing Iris Flowers in a Backyard Garden

Three years ago we planted some Iris in one of our flower beds and they didn't do well in that particular spot. Personally, I think they got way too little sun and that is why they didn't do good.

Last Fall we made the decision to dig them up and move them to a different area on our property. This new area gets sun about two thirds of the day and shade the rest. When we re-planted them we added in some good fertilizer and left them alone throughout the winter season.
I am happy to report that the new location and the addition of great fertilizer has made all of the difference! Two weeks ago these lovelies were in full bloom and looked beautiful. All twenty-one of them look extremely healthy and colorful. I am very pleased with how they are doing now.

Here are 7 tips for growing the Iris in your backyard flower garden.

1. They need a lot of sunlight and should be planted in areas that get a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day. In other words, a mostly sunny area in your yard.

2. Plant them about 14-16" a part and when planting them always inspect them for disease. If you see any worms or rot...discard them immediately.

3. When moving your Iris from one area of the yard to another you will want to do this in late summer or very early fall. Do not attempt to do this in late winter or spring. Once dug up, you will want to re-plant them within hours.

4. Don't over-water them! Iris' are not overly thirsty! They will need watered twice a week for the first 3 weeks after being planted. Once the 3 weeks are over with...only water them if you have had several very hot and dry days. Even then, water them lightly and don't soak them.

5. After they are done blooming for the season you can trim them back. You will want to leave 5-6" of foliage, so don't trim them down to where nothing is left!

6. I sometimes cut my blooms and make a nice indoor flower arrangement. When cutting fresh blooms you will want to cut them at an angle and leave 6" of foliage (stems) sticking out of the ground.

7. Different people have different recommendations for fertilizing the Iris. We do ours every other year. In should NEVER mulch around them because mulch retains water/moister which can cause the Iris roots to rot.

Iris' at times can be tricky to grow if the soil isn't in the proper condition and some varieties of Iris are sun-sensitive. Moving our's to a new location was definitely the right thing to do.

In about two weeks my Hydrangeas, Roses and Miniature Roses should be in full bloom and I will try to grab a few pictures of those and give you some tips on what I've learned about growing those over the past few years. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Backyard Gardening - The Beautiful Purple Iris

It's been awhile since I published an "Almost" Wordless Wednesday post. I had gotten out of the habit of doing one and going to try to get back on schedule and publish one every week.

Today I am featuring a photo that I took last week of a beautiful light purple IRIS in full bloom. I've got 5 flower gardens on my property and in one of them I planted about a dozen Iris bulbs last year and finally...they all bloomed! 

We had planted light purple, dark purple, peach and yellow Iris'. Once fall rolls around I am going to go out and buy some more bulbs and plant them before winter sets in. I absolutely love Iris' and they are one of the easiest spring flowers to grow. 

Well, there you have it! My "Almost" Wordless Wednesday photo and post for the week of May 27th, 2015. Do you enjoy flower gardening? If so, what is your favorite flower to grow?

How to Find the Best Nursing Homes for Loved Ones

“Mom just got a hip replacement. She has to be out of the hospital, but she’s too sick to go home. What should we do?”

“Dad has dementia, and his health has declined to the point that it’s unsafe for him to be at home. Help!”

“I need somewhere to recover from heart surgery. I don’t want to be a burden to my kids and wish there were somewhere I could go with advanced medical care. Do I have any options?”

Sometimes you need medical care that can’t be taken care of at home … or in a hospital. We all know that home health companies can come in and take care of the basics. But if you need more advanced medical care, help is available in what is called a “post-acute” care center, also known as a “nursing home.”

Nursing homes have gotten a bad rap over the years. But what most people don’t know is that there are really good ones out there—rehabilitative centers that look and feel more like hotels than hospitals and give you more personalized therapy and attention than if you were in a hospital.

“Where can I find this heaven on earth?” You may ask. Welcome This is an online site, provided free to the public by the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers, that lists five-star nursing homes and rehabilitation centers rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

What’s different about this site than others?

1. lists ONLY the best sites. Anything on the list has been preapproved by Medicare as one of the top in the country.

2. There’s no annoying sales center. Best Nursing Homes is run by a nonprofit organization whose public mission is to make people aware of the good places to go. It’s a free list.

3. You don’t have to enter any personal information. No one is going to contact you when you search the site.

4. You can contact the nursing homes directly. If you see an option that you like, simply call the facility or send an email using the contact form.

5. You can see what the center looks like. For the facilities that have chosen upgraded listings, you can take a virtual tour of the building with slideshow photos and videos.

6. You can review what others’ experiences were like. Best Nursing Homes uses proprietary software to get real reviews from real residents and family members. And they’re authentic—there’s no gaming from competitors or advertisers.

Best Nursing Homes has been made possible by the generous donation of North American Health Care and its CEO, John Sorensen.John has made it his life's work to serve the elderly population and has sponsored the development of BNH and donated it to the ASNP for use. “We are very grateful for the leadership of John Sorensen in the post-acute care industry,” said Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Association for Skilled Nursing Providers. “John is a leader in his field, a generous philanthropist, and a great example of someone who places serving the patient above anything else. We are proud to be associated with John and North American Health Care and grateful for his support to promote best practices in skilled nursing.”

For more information about Best Nursing Homes or the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers, please contact Dr. Cook at or 949-813-0182.

“We are very grateful for the leadership of John Sorensen in the post-acute care industry. John is a leader in his field, a generous philanthropist, and a great example of someone who places serving the patient above anything else. We are proud to be associated with John and North American Health Care and grateful for his support to promote best practices in skilled nursing.” – Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Association for Skilled Nursing Providers.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog conversation.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Delicious Schmacon Waffles Napoleon Recipe

Breakfast is now supposed to be your biggest meal of the day. Here at our home we often get bored with the same old, same old breakfast dishes. (eggs, toast, bacon, pancakes, waffles and cereal). Today, we are sharing a great recipe with all of you who enjoy waffles and bacon! Looks delicious!

Schmacon™ Waffles Napoleon Recipe

1 waffle cut in half
1 oz. whipped cream
1 ounce maple syrup
Powdered sugar
3 slices crisped Schmacon

Prepare waffles according to the instructions. Layer waffle, whipped cream, waffle and top with Schmacon. If desired, add fresh fruit or just enjoy with powdered sugar and syrup.

ABOUT SCHMACON - Schmacon™ is a smoked uniquely seasoned and sweet, crispy beef product. It is made with whole-muscle beef and is easy to prepare, cooks in half the time of raw pork bacon and has less calories, fat and sodium. Schmacon can be enjoyed at any meal in a variety of ways. For more information, please visit

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Refreshing Drinks for Memorial Day + Recipes

Looking for some new fun drinks for Memorial Day? How about cool and refreshing drinks for summer? If so, we've got two great ones for all of you today!

California Pizza Kitchen’s vodka-based California Roots Cocktail and non-alcoholic Cucumber Basil Soda both look delicious and are very easy to make.

California Roots is a cocktail made with fresh avocado and mint, vodka, fresh Agave Sour, a fennel salt rim AND their famous Cucumber-Basil Soda is filled with thinly-sliced cucumbers, fresh basil leaves and sweet homemade syrup.

California Roots Recipe
Makes: 1 drink

Lime wedge
Fennel salt
1 ½ ounces vodka
1 ounce fresh agave sour
½ ounce agave nectar
¼ of a ripe avocado, mashed ice
Mint sprig

In an electric spice grinder (or clean coffee bean grinder) combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds. Blend until fennel seeds are coarsely ground, about 5 seconds. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Run the lime wedge around half of the rim of a 6- or 8-ounce old fashioned glass. Spread some fennel salt on a small plate or shallow dish. Dip moistened half of rim in salt. Fill glass with ice. Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add vodka, fresh agave sour, agave nectar and avocado. Cover and shake vigorously, until avocado is completely incorporated with mixture. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with mint sprig and serve immediately.

Cucumber Basil Soda Recipe
Makes: 12 servings

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
12 large basil leaves
9 cups of soda water, chilled ice
cucumber slices and fresh basil leaves, for garnish

In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl muddle the cucumber and basil leaves with the back of a wooden spoon. Add to the hot syrup. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup, pressing the solids through a fine-mesh strainer to release the flavors. Discard solids.

For each serving, combine 3 tablespoons of the syrup with ¾ cup soda water in an ice-filled glass. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with cucumber slices and a basil leaf.

Note: Cucumber-basil syrup can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mimosa and Red Manhattan Cocktail Recipes

Wine lovers rejoice! Loving wine doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the boring and typical glass of wine straight from the bottle. Classic cocktails are being reinvented to utilize wine and give us one more reason to cheers to the warmer weather that is arriving.

Red Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

¾ ounce Veglio Michelino e Figlio Bacco Sweet Red
2 1/2 ounces Absolut® Kurant vodka
2 dashes bitters

Combine vodka, Dolce Rosso and bitters. Stir until combined.

Mimosa Cocktail Recipe

3 ounces Veglio Michelino & Figlio Re Della Notte
3 ounces fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

Fill champagne flute with Champagne. Top with orange juice. Top with Grand Marnier or Triple Sec.

Disclosure: You must be 21 years old or over to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly. These cocktail recipes are courtesy of VOGA Italia and Veglio Michelino e Figlio.

Friday, May 15, 2015

2 Fruity Flavored Water Recipes for Summer

Here in the northeast the temperatures are already rising and you can tell that summer is just around the corner. I love to drink water but sometimes it gets boring or doesn't quench my thirst. That is when I turn to homemade flavored water recipes like the two that I am featuring on the blog today.

These two recipes are courtesy of the great folks over at Jeju 16 Water.


2 liters of Jeju 16 Water
5-6 cucumbers sliced and cut in half
½ cup cubed watermelon

Drop cucumber and watermelon in pitcher, fill with water and let sit in fridge for 30 minutes. You can refill this several times throughout the day just be sure to let sit for 30 minutes for the water to become infused.

Note: Cucumbers are great for a quick pick-me-up! Leave the skin on, they are packed with vitamin B + C and are great for re-hydrating the body quickly.


2 liters of Jeju 16 Water
1 large lemon, sliced
1 large lime, sliced
2 cups of multicolored frozen grapes
¼ cup cilantro leaves

In a large pitcher, pour water over citrus fruit. Refrigerate at least two hours. Serve in glasses over ice and garnish with an orange slice and sprig of cilantro.

Note: Cilantro/Coriander is a great source of vitamins, calcium and potassium and has been used for centuries to heal many ailments

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Low-Cal Fruttata Yogurt Parfait Recipe

Say hello to Fruttata freeze dried fruit! In case you’re not familiar, the crisps are created via freeze drying , the process of removing moisture from food through a dryer at -40°F. Made from the freshest fruits, Fruttata is the ultimate, tasty ingredient to incorporate into your favorite recipes. And, your guests will be blown away that the “surprise ingredient” in these recipes is, as Fruttata likes to say, “nothing but fruit!”

If you are watching your weight and counting calories like I am...this low-calorie fruit yogurt parfait is for you! Looks absolutely delicious!

Fruttata Yogurt Parfait Recipe

2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup granola
8 blackberries
1 oz bag of Fruttata Tropical Crisps freeze dried fruit

In a large glass or bowl, Layer 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup granola, 2 blackberries and 1/4 oz Fruttata Tropical crisps. Repeat layers an additional 3 times.

Disclosure: You can learn more about Fruttata by visiting their site online. This is a guest post/recipe.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Gorgeous Spring Flowers in Full Bloom

Gorgeous Tulip
I love gardening...both vegetable gardening and flower gardening. During the spring gardening season I love to see daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and azaleas in full bloom. While these are not highly fragrant flowers, they sure are beautiful.
Pink Azaleas
Here in Pennsylvania I can grow all kinds of flowers and typically I start seeing spring blooms the very end of March...depending on the type of winter that we had. This year though, I didn't see them blooming until the second week in April.
White Daffodils
One of my very favorite spring flowers are the pure white daffodils. I planted these bulbs about 2 years ago and every year they get bigger and better. I do love yellow and yellow/white daffodils but the pure white ones are my absolute favorites!!! They have absolutely NO color them at all.
Pink Azaleas
We have 9 azalea bushes on our property in various shades of pink, rose, purple and dark red. When they bloom...they only bloom for about 2 weeks and then they are done. I guess you really consider them to be more of a flowering shrub than a springtime flower but nonetheless, I still enjoy them.
Red Azaleas 
Once Fall rolls around again we will be planting more tulips, lilacs and hyacinths so that I have some additional colors and varieties in my flower beds next Spring. After they are done blooming this season, they are all getting a much needed trim job and shaped up more nicely.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

3 Ways To Look At Death Differently

Fear & Close-mindedness Are Arguably The Real Tragedy Of Death, Says Franciscan Renaissance Man

There are those who just know how they’ll react if and when they have to confront their own mortality. They will freely admit that they’ll be petrified, and others are confident that they won’t be scared at all.

“Perhaps they’re right, or perhaps they’re projecting how they think they’re supposed to feel; in my case, neither fear nor bravery were the dominant notes, but rather one of spiritual and intellectual curiosity and edification,” says Ron Walter, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, successful businessman and advocate of ecumenical Franciscan spirituality.

“I recently had to face my own mortality once again as I dealt with effects of multiple myeloma and ensuing chemotherapy treatment. The encounter led me to a spiritual trek through philosophy, theology and science. In our evolutionary world, I suggest a view of death for we humans as yet another transition into a new form of being.”

How does someone become so circumspect when facing death? Walter, author of “Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason,” (, offers guidance.

• Allow your spiritual intuitions to unfold. Most people have some kind of belief system on spiritual matters, which may remain untested for years and even decades. Whether you’re a devout Catholic, Orthodox Jew, secular Buddhist or one of the growing numbers of “spiritual but not religious,” facing death forces a renewed and often harsh look at one’s true beliefs. As fallible as the mind can be, it is often attuned to signals emergent from deeper truth when faced with significant circumstances. Do not ignore those signals.

• Appearances are often misleading. Are reason and faith at odds? How do we really know what will happen to us in death? We might find a clue in death as many of the faithful have in life. Many see the universe entailing a nearly infinite sequence of random events, leading to phenomena such as life on Earth. Most others, however, see a rhyme and reason beyond apparent chaos. Likewise, the apparent silence of death may be just that – apparent. For the spirit experiencing death, a new and unfathomable life may be emerging.

• Obsessed with one religion, denomination or knowledge base? Death’s proposition may have you looking elsewhere. “I find Franciscan theology and spirituality as well positioned to integrate other fields of knowledge and spirituality,” Walter says. “While others prefer specific spiritual traditions, I hope they are not blind to the possibilities posed by other traditions. I believe every religion possesses only a glimpse of God, and disciplines such as science and philosophy capture some of God’s content and significance.”

“When we hear ‘death,’ we’re conditioned to tremble within,” Walter says. “But when we see it for its deeper truth – involving the transformation of body, mind and spirit, recognizing the interchangeability of matter and energy – I think most of us can come away from the inevitable with greater equanimity.”

About Ron Walter: Ron Walter is an author, commentator and guest speaker with expertise in human spirituality, business management and military leadership. A retired corporate executive with more than 20 years active military service, Colonel Walter currently serves on Boards of Directors for the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Vesuvius Press Inc. in Phoenix. He is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM). “Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason,” recounts Walter’s spiritual awakening following chemotherapy in the winter of 2012/2013. It explores the natures of God, humanity and the cosmos from the perspectives of noted philosophers, theologians and scientists. A major conclusion of the book is that finite beings emerge within Trinitarian relations of divine Love.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Great Cocktail Recipes for Mother's Day

Every year we take out mothers out to a nice restaurant to celebrate Mother's Day. After lunch we usually bring both moms back to our home and present them with fresh flowers and a delicious cocktail to unwind. We've been spending these special days with our moms and doing this routine for about 20 years now. Both of them look forward to it every year!

Today I am sharing with you two quick and easy cocktail recipes that you can whip up for Mother's Day.

Pink Lady Cocktail Recipe

Combine 2 oz. vodka, 1 oz. Powell & Mahoney Pomegranate mixer and 1 oz. pink grapefruit juice. Shake and strain into a martini glass rimmed with coarse sugar. Top with a lemon wedge.

Hot Mama Cocktail Recipe

Blend 4 oz. Powell & Mahoney Sriracha Bloody Mary and 1 ½ oz. jalapeno tequila. Gently shake and strain over ice in a pint glass.
Garnish with a celery stalk, wedge of lime or pickled long beans.

Disclosure: Recipes and photos are courtesy of Powell & Mahoney. You must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly.