March 16, 2012

Marigolds in the Garden

The search is winding down I believe. Yes, I think I have found "The One!" It's funny what "takes you" when deciding upon a new home. Perhaps it is a multitude of things, a few things or simply one thing, that captures your spirit. We will know for certain tomorrow. Darling is going back to look at the previewed homes and we will then determine what indeed captures his spirit. I did not want to reveal to him the one that I am most excited about, but having been married for almost forty years, I believe he could tell. Then the process will begin. We shall see what transpires.

Anytime we have purchased a new home, the first thing I plant in the garden are Marigolds. Marigolds are known as the "Herb of the Sun" and are symbolic of passion and creativity. The Welsh believed that if marigolds were not open early in the morning, then a storm was on the way. Marigolds have been used as love charms and incorporated into wedding garlands. Water made from marigolds was thought to induce psychic visions of fairies if rubbed on the eyelids.

Marigolds are quite a popular flower, perhaps because of the bright blooms they are capable of producing all summer long. Planting marigolds in your garden can really bring in a cheerful air. Bearing a slight resemblance in appearance to daisies and carnations, the marigold flower is a bright ruffle of petals that grows singly or in pairs. This hardy annual grows in a myriad of colors, including yellow, orange, and rust-colored. There are numerous varieties of marigolds, though only a few are popularly known. All of them grow well in the garden or in plant containers. Some have a wonderful intoxicating fragrance. Whatever the variety, marigolds make a fantastic addition to the garden, or a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers.

 If you would like to plant marigolds in your garden, here is some important information you should know. First and foremost, marigolds require a significant amount of direct sunlight. As for soil conditions, marigolds will thrive in a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil environment. The soil should be kept moist, but not overly wet. Once they have been established in the garden, marigolds require very little maintenance. An excess of fertilizer is not necessary, and in fact may impact blossoming, as the marigolds may make use of the fertilizer to enhance foliage, rather than enrich flowers. Deadheading as flowers wane will extend the blooming season.

This is one of Estelle's favorite side dishes.
 It goes with an Easter dinner beautifully!

3 packages (9 ounces each) fresh baby spinach
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14 ounces each) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
8 butter-flavored crackers, coarsely crushed

Place half of the spinach in a steamer basket; place in a large saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 3-4 minutes or just until wilted. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining spinach; set aside.
In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Reduce heat to low; stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, half-and-half, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic and pepper. Cook and stir until cream cheese is melted. Stir in the artichokes, dill, seasoned salt and spinach. Place in greased baking dish and top with crushed crackers (Ritz). Bake at 350 degrees F. for thirty minutes.

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