A Dreamy Garden, Rhubarb Harvest Tips, Rhubarb Pie Recipe

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Gardening stirs up a passion in me like no other. I often find myself thinking about a new project or a dream I have in the middle of doing something not garden related at all.

It seems that we gardener’s tend to do that…

I live in my mind’s garden dreaming of what I imagine will be.

Projects.

Projects seem to line my mind’s eye… and now Facebook page!

I imagine my entire property a sprawling garden…
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I imagine our beautiful old barn a sought after B&B… a retreat for the weary and heavy laden
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I imagine beautiful garden’s abounding…
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I imagine our back field filled with raised beds overflowing with veggies, herbs and flowers…
…that will feed our guests… and my family
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I imagine gardeners and gardener-wanna-be’s coming to take classes where I and other’s teach…
…teaching how to love your gardens… how to let them be for you… how to live in them…

I imagine my life with nothing to do but garden… and of course writing about and sharing it… with all of you.
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I imagine a place where people will want to come for farm to table dinner events…
I imagine harvesting the good food right from the gardens…preparing… and serving to those guests.
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Do you have a dreamy garden? What will it take to get there?

Well, some of my dreams are unreachable… at this point, but I have them… I cherish them and I won’t let them go, no matter what. My gardens are my souls sincerest desire…

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I’ve been able to create some of my dream gardens here at The Garden Gate Farm.
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Most recently we are working on a fish pond that will be connected to the rose garden. Don’t stop dreaming… no matter what you do, don’t stop.

So lets talk about springs first fruit here in Michigan, rhubarb. Yes, I said rhubarb. Yes you can still harvest and enjoy it.

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Here are a few do’s and don’ts for a full season of enjoying springs gardens first love!
*After you’re regular spring harvest, let your plants go to seed. This is when the plant shoots up the flower stalks.

*Once all the flower stalks have fully seeded out, you can harvest lightly again.
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*The most important thing to keep in mind when harvesting rhubarb is to always leave at least 1/3 of the stalks on the plant. NEVER fully strip the plants stalks- at anytime of year.

…and now… drum roll please…
Taylor’s Homemade Rhubarb Pie (of course all my ingredients are Organic 🙂

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

1 9″ unbaked pie crust
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. white flour
1 cup sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until rhubarb is completely coated.
2. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 45 minutes or until rhubarb is soft.

Serve with some homemade vanilla ice cream… enjoy friends!

I recently posted my first video on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page. I gave a short demonstration on how to properly harvest rhubarb. Stop by and check it out! Hope to see you there!
Here’s the direct link to the video. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=184040798434306

Happy Day,
Jean

Designing A Potager

Here I am harvesting basil

Here I am harvesting basil

I’ve always tried to encourage others to plant something… anything. The thrill that you get from placing the seed or the little seedling into the pleasant earth… then waiting and watching for the first signs of life to come springing up out of the soft ground… then suddenly one morning there it is… a tiny sprout or the first blossom on your tomato plant. As you patiently await the first signs of fruit… then the ripening… then the harvest.

As you stand there holding your pleasant reward, staring at it and re-thinking the whole process and the time and tender care that it took to get this into your hand.

Garlic I just harvested

Garlic I just harvested

…when you eat that first thing you’ve grown… you’ll close your eyes and savor the taste, taking in the flavor and enjoying it like no other thing you’ve ever eaten.

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…a new respect you’ll have for the seed and the dirt… a new passion will be stirred up in you.

I love gardening…

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Some may think that starting a garden is a difficult task, but not so. A garden is like anything else. You’ll need to do a bit of research and planning; you’ll need to think over what you’d like to grow and the amount of space that you have available. I have five acres, and if I could, other than the house and outbuildings, it would all be gardens… just an expanse of gardens.

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Unfortunately my dreams are bigger than my reach…

Potager’s or more commonly known today as Kitchen Gardens were historically a mainstay for many families. My heart and soul are simply thrilled with the resurgence of home gardening and canning over the last decade. I love to hear about all the urban gardens, the thrill in the voices of my market friends as they tell me what they’re harvesting out of their little home gardens… especially when it’s from the plants they purchased from me earlier in the year.

Kitchen garden

Kitchen garden

The definition of this French word, potagère is simply vegetable garden and is properly pronounced: “por-ta-jj”, giving credit to the French who inspired this style of ornamental kitchen garden’s.

The potager is most similar to the traditional English cottage garden but is mainly based on vegetables and other edible plants and herbs, often incorporating some cut flower plants for the household.

Historically plants were chosen for their form, color and taste, with seasonality and continuity of fresh vegetables for the household in mind and were typically low maintenance and closely planted. This is very similar to raised bed gardening (another blog ;-))

herbs

herbs

What you include in your potager is all about you and your family. What you like and love, although I do suggest trying at least one new thing each year…I do!

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Veggies~ This is a matter of personal prefference. We like to include one zuchinni, four hills of potatoes, two pepper plants, several lettuces, spinach, kale and chard, two tomato plants- one Roma and one salad type, short rows of carrots, onions and garlic. I also like to include a cucumber that I typically grow up on a trellis.

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Herbs: We use lots of fresh herbs in our cooking. I wanted to incorporate an herb section in our potager. Herbs have a tendency to ‘get out of hand’, so all my herbs are in containers of sorts.
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Here is a photo of part of my herb section.
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My perennials include- sage, oregano, chives, sorrel, thyme, and biennial parsley. Calendula reseeds itself each year and I plant purple, lemon and Genovese type basil each year.

Flowers- try edibles: I grow nasturtiums and day lilies in my potager, along with marigolds along side the tomatoes. I also have several other perennials incorporated simply for beautification. The potager is beside the pergola which has several sweet autumn clematis and climbing roses along its side. I also have some hosta’s, a white bleeding heart, Astilbe and bee’s balm .
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I believe, as the gardeners of old that all three… vegetables, herbs and flowers all belong balanced together in a potager.

No matter what you decide to grow, make your garden’s a reflection of your soul… a passionate place that you can escape to from all the cares of life… a meditative place to commune with the almighty One…

Happy day,
Jean

Supporting Local: How Can I Do This?, 3/50 Project and Yummy Tuscan Soup & Onion Recipes!

Thought this would be a timely ‘time’ to re-blog this post… supporting local is key to maintaining a well balanced economy… and the brick and mortars in your community need you…

For Dragonflies And Me

Local is an important thing to many people, not just to the businesses but also to the consumer.  I remember when I was a young girl growing up in Windsor, Ontario and going to ‘town’ with my grandma… the little downtown and the “five & dime” shops. I remember the ‘big’ store downtown where grandma use to do a lot of the domestic shopping… it had a little cafe in there that we would always get a bite to eat… my favorite- french fries and gravy, yeah that’s a Canadian thing!  Well anyway, I use to love to go to the little hardware store that she would by her canning jars and lids at, the Chinese food restaurant that we would patronize on grandpa’s pay day… memories of a small town… a lot of children in today’s society won’t know that as a regular experience.  It will more likely be…

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Garden Open House: Plus my homemade ranch dressing and fresh garden tea recipes

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It’s been a secret dream of mine… to have a garden open house that is.

We moved into our farmhouse seven years ago. It was an abandoned foreclosed home with most of the windows busted out and an interior that said a lot about the previous owners- nothing good! We looked at the house for the first time in the middle of winter, little did I know there wouldn’t be a garden to find.

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As for trees and shrubs, there was one very large and beautiful maple tree and an apple tree in the back yard, a nice hedge of antique hyrangeas on the side of the house and a couple lilac bushes. Not bad for some, but not near what my heart desired.

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I’ve shared the creation of all the gardens here in my blogs except the patio. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the first two years labor. It was a big job and being busy with the other things in our life, it ended up taking three years… we finished just last month!

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Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now...

Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now…

Over the years my garden’s have evolved as have I… my likes and my tastes have grown and are depicted in my cottage style gardens. I love simply being in them… breathing the aromas that surround me… listening to the wind whisper through the leaves… watching the hummingbirds busily work. My gardens are simply my sanctuary.

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So, an open house… now that will be an undertaking I’m sure. I’ve read about and attended several… and secretly dreamed, “Some day… some day I can share my gardens…”

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So when will I say that the time has arrived? I don’t know… so I think I’ll just create a plan of action right here with all of you and maybe a Pinterest board of my dreams, LOL- you can follow me there too at For Dragonflies And Me @ Pinterest.

Lets start with the INVITATION… garden themed of course. I plan on using vintage prints of botanicals with some pretty ribbons. You’ll need to decide who you are planning to invite: will it be just close friends and family? neighbors? What about your Facebook, Twitter, Blog followers and whatever other social media sites/groups you may be involved with? You can send out a formal invitation using snail mail and/or via email/FB/Twitter, etc.
Host A Cookie Exchange Luncheon, Making The Invitation and Some Yummy Cookie Recipes!

Have a Guest Book ready for the guests to sign. I plan on using a pretty garden style notebook/journal like this one.
[caption id="attachment_1649" align="alignnone" width="225"]Garden themed journal can be used as a guest book

A ‘Thank You Gift’ is a special touch that your guests will appreciate. I make blank stationary photo-greeting cards with many of my photographs to sell at market. These are a useful and beautiful gift that your guest will appreciate.
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When you’re guests arrive, have a cute chalk board set up on an easel to ‘Welcome’ and direct them.
[caption id="attachment_1647" align="alignnone" width="180"]Photo credit to Mary Jane's Farm Photo credit to Mary Jane’s Farm

Creating the MENU is next and the time of year should determine what will be on it. If you have your own garden, try to use things that you’ve grown. This is the menu and photo’s from one of my recent get-to-gethers.
~Watermelon bowl with mixed fruit served on a green Depression glass cake plate.
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~Artisan goat cheese served in antique tea cups with garden themed spreaders served on platter with several varieties of crackers on an elevated platter.
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~Fresh garden salad served on pretty platter with dressings served in mini cream pitchers and matching bowl served on a platter as well.
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~Fresh home made Garden Tea served in my bee hive drink jug
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I made tags stating the flavors of each dressing and goat cheese and attatched it to the handle of cups and pitchers.
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Put utensils separately in Terra cotta pots along with napkins in a slightly larger one. Place all these in a fabric lined long handled basket along with throw away trays.
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The Table should be as special as the menu…
~Use a quilt for the table cloth. If you plan on having several small tables, use a mix of cute sheets or table clothes overlaid with pretty linens. This is one of my favorite quilts to use. It can be used for spring, summer or fall!
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A pretty centerpiece is the final touch for the table…and don’t forget candles. Here I’ve placed two scented jar candles in Terra cotta pots to go along with the theme.
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~Bouquets should be made with whatever is blooming in your gardens…
Peonies in blue mason jars are beautiful and such an elegant contrast
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Hosta leaves are timeless and will last for weeks in the vase…mix different varieties of height and colors for interest.
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~Having a few welcoming area’s for guests to sit and visit is always a nice touch…
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Room for two in the grill station.
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Three old metal chairs around a cozy fire bowl in the patio
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Our patio table complete with a high chair 😉
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Neil built this swing frame beside our fire pit. It’s more child friendly than adult… Seating for six around the fire…very cozy in our over sized chairs. I typically use cute sheets or table clothes as seat covers.

Here are my home made Ranch Dressing and Garden Tea Recipes… enjoy friends

Ranch Dressing
2 cups Mayonnaise DO NOT exchange for Miracle Whip or Salad Dressing!!!!
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. dry parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped finely
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Combine mayo and milk; whisk together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and refridgerate for at least an hour so flavors can blend.
*Note: It will thicken, but if you want it a bit thicker add 1 Tbsp. of mayo at a time until desired consistency; if too thick do the same, but with milk.

Fresh Garden Tea Concentrate
8 cups water
4 cups raw organic sugar
6 cups tea leaves
mint tea

Bring water and sugar to a hard boil for 5 minutes; add tea leaves and remove from heat. Cover and let steep 5 to 8 hours.

TO MAKE: combine 1 part tea concentrate to 2 parts cold water.
You can freeze the concentrate for up to a year, so if you have lots of tea growing, you can enjoy this all year long.

So, now we have a plan of action… just need to get all the projects done!
This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!
Happy Day,
Jean

Creating Creative Containers

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Summer time is filled with fun days for our family and opportunities for new garden projects. We just finished our patio and now to move on. The project at hand is a new fish pond… I’m so excited. Neil has a few ideas about redoing the grill station of the patio and putting in a built in grill and counter. I think it’s a great idea and can’t wait to get at it.

For gardeners there is always that next project… that ‘gotta’ try idea… a new garden element to experiment with. Gardening is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Planters are one way for gardener’s to express their creativity. I know for me, I love to find a new bucket or crate to incorporate into my gardens. Sometimes my husband Neil gives me a look as if to say, “Another one? Where is that gonna go?” Well, I’ve never been at a lack for location 😉

It’s not too late in the season to start thinking about creating containers for your garden. As a matter of fact, there’s no wrong time. I personally switch my planters up seasonally… and now so can you. Many nurseries are clearing out their stock at big discounts. Now’s the time to get the bargains.

Here are some fun idea’s to get you motivated on these hot summer days. Please be sure to stop by For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651 . I regularly post pictures of my gardens, other ideas, more recipes and great links to other wonderful and informative sites. Be sure to give a LIKE AND SHARE! Thanks in advance.

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Here are two of my old antique planters! These are a real find. The black one was actually found at a junk yard!

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My antique double wash tubs are filled with pink petunias over in our patio.

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This is a metal planter that I picked up at a craft store. This year I filled it will potting soil, screwed it to the tree in our patio’s hosta bed and planted it! Just adds a bit of interest and draws your eyes up.

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Little metal buckets are screwed to the top of our patios buffet. There are holes punched into the bottom of the buckets to allow for drainage.

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A while back I posted the how to’s on planting this antique egg basket. I decided to put it on one of my garden chairs at our back door. Such a happy ‘hello’ to my friends and family!

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One of my favorite planters… an antique wooden tool box. I have a few of these, this one sets in the herb section of my Potager… parsley grows in her every year!

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Wrought iron planters on our patio’s privacy wall. I took old burlap bags to line them and then planted them up. The burlap helps take away the ‘formalness’ of the planters.

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I picked up this wire rooster planter several years ago at a craft store. I lined it with moss and planted a geranium in her. It rests upon the table in our breakfast patio.

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This planter got a fresh coat of paint this spring to match the other aqua accents I painted. It greets all who enter in through the front arbor and is something to enjoy when taking a break in the patio.

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Another one of my antique wooden tool boxes. This one sets on one of the tables on our front porch. I potted up petunias and geraniums in small terra cotta pots and rested them inside.

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Another wooden treasure on my front porch. I am always on the look out for old wooden crates to use as planters.

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Wash tubs are a great planter! Just be sure to puncture holes on the bottom to allow for proper drainage.

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Buckets planted with hosta’s in my back entry. I will replant these hosta’s into the garden this fall and replace them with mums!

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I am forever on the look our for antique planters. I scored two of these several years ago at an auction- seven bucks each- and them being green was just the cherry on top! I line them with moss or burlap and then purchase large hanging baskets and transplant them into these planters.

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More buckets… these have been on the side of my potting shed for several years. Each year I plant geraniums in them. Buckets are so much fun!

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Enamel ware buckets make great planters… again, you do need to puncture holes for drainage. If this is too hard for you, just put your plants in another plastic pot that you can set in the bucket; remove when you need to water, and then put it back in!

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Well, this doesn’t even touch all the different planter ideas that are out there. The one I want to try is using an old dresser. I’ve seen this a lot lately… just gotta find the right piece, because I already know where it’s gonna go!

Have fun and use your imagination.
Happy gardening,
Jean

Garden Parties: How To Host A Party Garden Style

The sun is rising right now, its rays glimmering in the puddles… the breeze feels cool and gentle… the air is filled with an earthy scent from the rains we’ve enjoyed… the robins and Baltimore orioles are saying good morning to whoever is blessed enough to be listening. Sitting In the gardens this time of day is so relaxing and free, it almost makes me feel guilty to have this little piece of Heaven right here under my feet.

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces...

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces…


I’m sitting in my breakfast patio writing this right now while everyone else is still sleeping. There’s a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird sitting on my clothesline… he seems to be enjoying the quiet morning along with me.

All my life we had a garden and it’s a part of who I am, what I feel, what I love. My life would be so empty without it. I love sharing my gardens with friends and loved ones, entertaining and making them feel at home. There were two main reasons why we created the patio: the first of course was for my family to have a special place to fellowship and have our meals and the second was to entertain.

A cozy space is an inviting place to have friends and family

A cozy space is an inviting place to have friends and family

Here are some Garden Party idea’s and tips…

*Garden Themed Invitations. Use a 4 x 5 1/2 piece of card stock. Pick up some 10 for $1 seed packs and use the seed pack for the ‘picture’. Use a rubber stamp with ‘party info’ on the back. Not just cute, but practical.
You can also take photos of flowers, garden junque or garden scenes, crop them down and use them for the front of your invitation.

Here is a photo I took that I put on the front of a blank card. 'Your Invited' rubber stamp and pack of seeds!

Here is a photo I took that I put on the front of a blank card. ‘Your Invited’ rubber stamp and pack of seeds!

*Decorating the table and buffet will speak loudly when done right! Here are some super cute ideas!
~Use pretty floral sheets or plain white that drape to the floor with quilts laid diagonally over for table clothes.
~Use 3 clay pots of the same size to hold forks, spoons and knives in. Tie a piece of raffia around the rim with a bow to make it even cutter.
~Use baskets lined with floral napkins to hold napkins & breads.
~Mason jars make the cutest drinking vessels, especially if they are blue! Not to mention flower vases and candle holders.
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~A hodge podge of old plates and platters are a great way to serve your sandwiches, cheese & crackers & appetizers.
~Use an old galvanized wash tub filled to the top with ice and put bottled water, juice or pop in for guests.
~An old pickle crock thoroughly cleaned makes a spectacular punch bowl.
~Print the menu out on card stock and lay over each guests plate.

*The Menu! Your theme is garden, so plan according.
~Sandwiches can be very special! I like to make mini sandwiches but cutting the sandwich into quarters. First I trim off the crust; make your sandwich and then cut into diagonally so you have four triangles. I like to use chicken, egg and tuna salad for my fillings along with a yummy cucumber filling. Go to my Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651 for the recipe! Be sure to LIKE AND SHARE while you’re there, please and thanks!

~Watermelons aren’t just yummy, they can be beautiful centerpieces as well. Most of us have seen how melons can be cut to represent a handled basket, hollowed out and then filled with a beautiful and delicious fruit salad. The long oval shaped melons work best.
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*Punch is the funnest drink for a party! Try making ‘real’ lemonade! It is very simple- use 3 parts water to 1 part lemon juice, add 1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of liquid! Cut lemon’s and limes in slices and let them swirl around to make it extra special. If you have a ‘color’ theme to your party, add a few drops of food coloring to make your lemonade your color! You can use any large container to hold your punch! Use jelly jars for your glasses with umbrella straws!
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*Of course the Cake! Check out this Teapot cake tutorial- this really makes an impression! A little time consuming, but worth the effort! http://www.flickr.com/photos/popocreation/3669618629/in/photostream/

*Garden themed craft projects are a fun way to send your guests home with a gift. Try making Posy Pots! Here is what you will need! Organic Potting mix, 1 Quart Zip Lock baggies, Sunflower or Marigold seeds, pretty card stock , tulle, raffia, and a small clay pot. Fill the baggie with enough potting mix to fill the pot then place filled bag inside the pot. Take the card stock and make a small packet to put 2-3 seeds in, seal. Place seed packet on top of dirt bag in pot. Gather tulle around the outside of the pot, and tie with raffia. Cut out a 4″ x 4″ piece of card stock for a gift tag and using a rubber stamp or sticker of the type of flower seed you chose, place it on the square, punch a hole in the corner, write planting instructions on back and attach to raffia bow. Such fun for everyone!
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The ideas of course are only limited by your imagination… so have fun, host a party and let your creativity shine!

Don’t forget to take a trip over to For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page for this yummy Cucumber ‘Herb Garden’ Sandwiches!
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Happy Day,
Jean