Spring Garden Perennials


Spring Garden

Purple Iris

What are you growing in your spring garden? Do you plant a little at a time, or do you buy everything at once and plant a huge garden?

Iris bulbs are good to plant because they multiply. When my husband and I purchased our High Desert fixer upper, there was a huge patch of irises. Since then I’ve planted them in different garden spots, and they amaze me. They grow wherever they are planted.

If you are tempted like me to buy everything I see at garden nurseries, you know how difficult it is to go flower shopping and only buy one or two. Frugal gardening takes a little effort, but it can be done if you plan your garden carefully.

The ideal way to plan a garden frugally is to shop for perennials and plants that grow well in the zone you live in. A few perennials I’ve been able to grow are:

  • Irises
  • Snapdragons
  • Lemon Balm
  • Pansies
  • Lavender

The iris bulbs have been placed in three different garden areas in the yard, and every spring they produce gorgeous flowers.

Purple Iris

Purple Iris from My Spring Garden

Cuttings from my lemon balm are proving to be successful, too. I took three small pieces and planted them in another pot, and they are growing steadily.

Lemon Balm Herb

Lemon Balm Herb Mint

Lemon Balm

New Tiny Lemon Balm Herb 

Purple Pansies before Spring

Early March Pansies

Snapdragons are usually planted as annuals, but I’ve had success with them as perennials. They can be grown as perennials in zones 8 and above. Deadheading spent blooms will help new blooms to form. I’ve planted pink, light and dark red, and yellow, but the brighter red and yellow ones planted together look absolutely beautiful.


High Desert Snapdragons


Yellow Snapdragons

Lemon Balm Herb

Lemon Balm Herb Mint

Beginning Spring Lavender Flowers

Pre-Spring Lavender

Growing in my kitchen herb garden are rosemary, lavender, and a mint in the ground. The first plants I purchased this month are a basil herb and a tomato plant. It’s a start.

Now tell me about your herbs and flowers and which ones are growing well since spring began.

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Beware: Kraft Foods Puts Out Recall for Mac & Cheese

Check Your Mac Boxes

Check Your Mac Boxes

According to reports, the Kraft Foods Company has sent out a general recall for its signature mac dinners. The recall affects only Mac & Cheese regular dinners in the 7.25 oz. size product. Look for the date stamp: “Best When Used By” dates of “September 18, 2015″ through “October 11, 2015″, with the code C2 below the date embossed on each individual box.

Other later reports said that metal pieces were found in the product boxes. The recall affects 6.5 million boxes.

If you locate one or wish to find out more about the recall go to :


According to Kraft, eight consumer complaints have been logged about the product, but there have been no reported injuries. ”We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed,” Kraft said in a statement on Tuesday.

The recall affects 242,000 cases of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner that have been distributed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and some South American nations. The Associated Press reported that it amounts to about 6.5 million boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, one of the Kraft Foods Group’s signature brands.

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it. They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 am and 6 pm (Eastern) for a full refund. There was no indication when the recall would end. Products purchased with end dates after the recall dates listed should be considered safe. It was also stressed that only product boxes with C2 stamped under the dates were in the recall. The C2 indicates a certain production line location where the metal contamination was found.

Rusty LaGrange

This post has been provided as a public notice and does not reflect any personal view or liability on this blog network.

Categories: Community, Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

It’s the Irish in Me


St. Patrick's Day Shamrock

Shamrock Plant

A day to wear green and eat favorite Irish meals and soda bread, St. Patrick’s Day sneaks up quickly as winter fades and spring is near. I wonder how many other countries celebrate American traditions like we do Irish traditions. Just wondering. That’s all. It is fun to try out Irish foods and learn about their traditions and proverbs.

Recently my brother was telling me about some friends of ours who have two daughters. One of the parents is African American. The other is half Caucasian and half Hispanic. The beautiful young ladies were telling my brother of additional origins of their parents’ ancestry. They were laughing about the many different origins, making it difficult to narrow down their ethnicity to just one. I don’t know if their Caucasian includes any Irish blood, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Get us Americans talking about our ancestry, and we have the stories to tell. It’s fascinating to look up our genealogy and find out about our ancestors.

This reminds me of an individual telling me one time that her family had Irish roots. She had a temper that often flared when things didn’t go her way. She laughed about using the excuse “It’s the Irish in Me” when she would get into situations because of her temper.

I haven’t been to Ireland, but I do have a part-Irish ancestry. I don’t believe that it’s the Irish in people that causes tempers to flare. The “It’s the Irish in Me” phrase is used proudly, as though speaking words in a moment of anger is an admirable thing to do.

Using the “Irish in Me” for a fun blogging thing to do, I changed up my tablescape on St. Patrick’s Day. White or cream trays are so versatile, and I enjoy using them in photos for my blogs.

Fresh flowers for St. Patrick's Day

Irish In Me Tablescape

The pitcher I used is one I picked up at a yard sale a long time ago. When not filled with flowers from the garden (like the snapdragons and pansies in the photo), it makes a perfect holder for scrap-booking scissors.

A little green, a few garden flowers, an Irish meal – all of it together made a perfectly pleasant St. Patrick’s Day.

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Preparing for Spring Gardening- Desert Inspiration

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.

~Bern Williams

Purple Pansies before Spring

Early March Pansies

Pansies growing in the winter brighten a desert garden that would otherwise look barren and void of color except for faithful evergreens.

Gardeners who thrive on decorating a rustic garden never run out of ideas for places to plant flowers. The pansies in the photo above were planted in a glass pitcher that was broken. I watched a woman setting the pitcher in a corner outside a store. She left, and I investigated the pitcher. Broken, it was missing a chunk of glass. Not good for pouring tea or lemonade, but it made the perfect planter for my rustic garden ideas.

Spend time outdoors at different times of the day and just observe. Now is the time to do that with the recent springing forward an hour. Planting flowers or sitting a spell to enjoy the warmth of the sun, you’re bound to feel inspired by nature’s sounds and observances of the garden. Whether planting in odd-shaped discarded containers, freshly painted dilapidated chairs with missing pieces or a broken pitcher, designing a rustic garden can incredibly inspire the mind.

Listen to the sounds of the garden. Watch the movement of little creatures – like a cat ready to pounce on a bird making a nest.

Cat spying a bird building a nest

“Is it worth leaping into the cacti?”

Friday, March 20th, is the first day of spring. An easy way to tell if the ground is ready for planting, according to www.bobvila.com, is to stick a shovel or pitchfork down into the ground about six inches. If it’s muddy when you pull it out, it’s not time yet. Plant when you pull the shovel out and it’s clean.

Tall weeds have shot up higher than ever before in my desert cottage garden. The lavender plant showed its colors in spite of the weeds however. Finally being cut down the weeds will not be able to hide the perennials any longer – lavender, salvia, mirror plant and another pansy that somehow has thrived through the weeds.

Lavender Perennial

Early Lavender Bloom

White and Purple Pansy

White and Purple Pansy Hiding in the Weeds

How can a gardener, itching to plant flowers, keep from working in the garden when spring is around the corner? Even weeding satisfies the gardener’s craving to dig in the ground when spring has not yet arrived.

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Taben Bridge

I don’t have any pictures of the Taben Bridge. When he left the Army my Uncle Peter was unable to locate the picture. He did tell me the story about the Taben Bridge.

It seems that in the summer (or fall) of 1944 the US Army Air Corps had bombed the Taben Bridge. In the beginning of December 1944 Uncle Peter was briefing several generals (George Patton was one of them). Gen Patton asked him “How long will the Germans last in the Saar/Mosel Triangle.

Uncle Peter told me he shouldn’t have bragged to Patton, but he told him “I know how many belt buckles Jerry has. They won’t last two weeks.”

Three weeks later the Germans were fighting as strong as ever. Patton’s aide told Uncle Peter that the general wanted to see him at 1300 the next day, he needed to bring an explanation of why he was wrong about the Germans being able to continue fighting.

I will look at my files and see if I have anything that might be of interest.

Do you have an e-mail address I might use to contact you?


James R. Elstad

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Feral Cat Dilemma in High Desert Life

Feral and Stray Cats

A feral pet

People in the High Desert share one common factor without a doubt – feral/stray cats. Feed one and expect a cat community to show up. Keep them around a few months and watch them multiply. There are some solutions to this problem, however. Which ones would you choose?

  1. No cats option. Don’t feed any cats that show up. 
  2. Feed the first cat, vaccinate it, have it neutered or spayed, and make it an inside pet. Ignore all other cats that show up.
  3. Trap all cats and take them to the animal shelter.
  4. Call animal control for any cats that show up.
  5. First come, first serve option. Feed cats but limit amount of food.
  6. Other option

Growing up in a rural area in Texas, I was used to stray cats coming around. My dad and I once took a feral mother in and used one of my baby doll bottles to feed milk to the babies. Only one of the kittens made it, and I don’t recall how long the cat lived. The other cats we had were Persians and domestic, though we did keep them outside. My mother did not like animals inside the house.

My mother-in-law always had a soft heart when it came to caring for cats. Strays would appear, and she would have them vaccinated and fixed, feed them, and make them her pets. But even she put a limit to how many. Seven is the most I ever saw her take in.



Making a stray cat a pet to keep outside can keep mice away, but how do you eliminate the predator problem? Coyotes love feral cats that roam around. Easy dinner. One friend built a large outdoor cage for pet cats. The cats could go in and out, had food and water available, and plenty of accessible high spots to perch on. That was the best outdoor cat setup I ever saw.

How do you control feral cats in your neighborhood?



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Last Day For Civil War Battle at Calico Ghost Town

Audience views Battle

Perched above the battle lines

Calico Civil War Days

Soldiers confer over their best plans for attack

Calico Regional Park

Civil War Ladies stroll down Calico

Have you traveled out to Calico Ghost Town today? The weather, this weekend, is made for a terrific family outing to this historic region. Our family arrived there Sunday just before the first Civil War battle engagement began at 11:45 a.m.Calico Ghost Town is a San Bernardino Regional Park that sponsors several historic events throughout the year. To help with the authentic look, re-enactors dress and camp within the Main Street’s many nooks and spaces with their items for sale or just for display.

But what makes it more realistic are the skirmishes fought in the dry ravines. If you find a high perch overlooking the battlegrounds, you’ll see how the Union forces planned to way lay the Rebels. The skirmish was short-lived and of the four wounded, all four were capable of sneaking out of their captor’s grip and rejoining their own units.



After the battle, we climbed the rocky path that skirts around Main Street and headed for some refreshing ice cream. Then it was off to listen to banjo musicians as we trekked up canyon to the Little White Schoolhouse.


Stark white School house

Stark white School house


Calico makes a good effort to pave general access routes but not all trails are ADA approved for wheelchair accessibility. It’s open daily from 9a.m. to 5p.m.

The top of the canyon and across the wooden bridge gives you the best overview of this silver mining town of 1881. Nearly 127 years ago, prospectors searching for silver turned the region into a boomtown, producing over $86 million in silver, $45 million in borax, and a population of 1,200 spending their hardscrabble money in 22 saloons. With over 500 mines and glory holes, it didn’t take long until the boom went bust in 1907.


The three generations in our family had varying interests, as you can imagine, so we had to save Maggie Mine Tour for another time. We did visit The Candle Shop, The Print Shop, The Leather Shop, Glassworks, and the Sweet Shop, Lane’s General Store, and the newly opened Fine Arts and History Gallery where my granddaughter had to have her face painted.


On Display

On Display

Educational displays include the rope making tools and the Blacksmith’s barn. If you do get the itch for gold, there’s always the Gold Panning demo.

We all had a good time. Hope you did, too.

Rusty LaGrange

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Giveaway Baskets at High Desert Vintage Shops

Giveaway Basket

Sugar Shack Valentine’s Day Giveaway Basket

Gift baskets were a highlight of Valentine’s Day at High Desert’s Oro Grande shops, Sugar Shack and Silver Trails. The basket giveaways were hosted by owners of the two shops and http://highdesertblogging.com. Vintage items, candy, and more goodies were donated for the baskets.

Valentine's Day Giveaway at Silver Trails

Silver Trails Valentine’s Day Basket Giveaway

The afternoon was busy with couples strolling into the shops. While they browsed, names were drawn for the basket giveaways.

Congratulations to Diana C. who won Sugar Shack’s basket of Valentine gifts and goodies. When contacted by phone, she asked, “When did I sign up for the drawing?” She didn’t remember entering to win the basket. Then Diana laughed and said her husband had put her name down for the drawing.

Next door to Sugar Shack there was another drawing happening. It was a treat to get to meet the winner Kat. She had entered the drawing on Valentine’s Day and won. She came to the shop before closing and agreed to be included in the photos for High Desert Blogging.

Valentine's Day Giveaway at Silver Trails

Silver Trails Basket Giveaway Winner

Valentine's Day Giveaway at Silver Trails

Giveaway Winner Kat and Silver Trails Co-Owner Madie

Thank you, Sugar Shack and Silver Trails, for joining High Desert Blogging for the Valentine’s basket giveaways!

Be looking for the next basket giveaway coming in the Spring! Entrepreneurs of small businesses, vintage and other shops, contact Rusty or Angie at hdblogging@gmail.com if you are interested in participating in the giveaway.

Categories: Give-Aways | 1 Comment

Calico Ghost Town Hosts Blast From the Past: Civil War

Battlefiled reenactment

Civil War soldiers march into battle

For 3 Days Only You Can See Re-enactors Fight on Battlefield

Would you like to see how the soldiers in the Civil War of 1860s had to deal with the acrid smoke, the loud cannon fire, the heat, and the bugs? Head on over to Calico Ghost Town north of Barstow off Interstate 15 at Ghost Town Road.

This annual salute, Saturday Feb. 14 through Monday Feb. 16, lets visitors feel the booming blasts of the cannons. It’s like you are there! Watch regiments march across the High Desert battlefield. Listen to President Abraham Lincoln give his address to the brave soldiers.

Go to http://cms.sbcounty.gov/Portals/1/CivilWar2015.pdf for the events and schedules.

This is an event for the whole family — with candle making, ceramics, rope braiding, lots of great food, and shops to wander through. Take your camera and capture the sights and sounds of your children when they meet cowboys leaving the saloon, their spurs clinking on the boardwalk, riding on the silver town’s railroad. Live dramas and fun children’s craft activities are also planned to entertain.

Too many things to list here but there are detailed schedules to download in PDF format.


Calico Ladies

Wives Often Followed Their Officer Husbands



All weekend activities:

Face Painting–Hanks Hotel

Make your own candle – at

The Candle Shop

Make your own medallion – at

The Pottery Shop

Blacksmith Demonstrations – at The Smelter Building

Rope Making—Next to The Smelter Building

Civil War craft activity for kids — at Town Hall


Hope you get a chance to visit this colorful reenactment panorama.

Adults are $10.00; Youths age 6-15 are $6.00; Young Children age 5 & under are free.



Categories: Attractions, High Desert Living, Holiday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Surprising Valentine’s Day Gift That Grows in the High Desert

red blossoms

Vibrant little “fish hook” barrel with big blooms


Cactus Thrive in the High Desert

Do you really want to receive a dozen roses that will only last a week? Why not ask for a cactus that blooms for you each year? Just go to your nursery and pick out the prettiest. And as for color, you’ll find a good variety.

Many of the varieties offer different shapes and heights, while others bloom in hues of white to cream to yellow, pink to red to rose. All of them are easy to water and easy to grow in typical desert temperatures.

Another feature that I enjoy is their slow growing nature. You can plant them in a 10″ pot and it will be years before you’ll need to transplant them into a half whiskey barrel or directly into your yard. Many of them can grow for decades, often dropping “babies” or allowing their arms to be cut and replanted for the new generation of cacti. I have a night blooming cereus that is over 40-years-old and has been inside all of its life.100_0756

“Christmas cactus”, known for blooming in winter with bright red or fuchsia colored pointy blooms, can be more temperamental because they are a tropical cactus. They don’t like their roots too wet or too dry. A trick for forcing their blooms is to place them in a closet for a month prior to the holidays. Once out of the dark, they want to herald in the New Year. Healthy and happy plants will blossom all year.

Rusty LaGrange

Categories: High Desert Living, Holiday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment