Bright Lights Swiss chard

I don’t do resolutions. But I do love the idea of a fresh start for some things in my life. So, here is my resolve for all of us. Just start.

I’ve been reading so many gardeners’ and cooks’ resolutions that my head is spinning. But the one thing that seems a common thread through all of these is the desire for simplicity. 

I’ve touted this for years, that simple gardening and simple cooking will bring us back to the garden and kitchen in a restful, pleasant way. And if it becomes meaningful or artistic, all the better. But mostly, we just need to start. Start small, start easy and most of all, don’t pressure yourself to create a masterpiece. 


For gardening, perhaps it means getting two pots, filling them with soil and planting lettuce. When the lettuce is done, plant carrots. Or a pepper or a tomato. If you are successful (meaning you get something on the table, even a simple salad), then ask yourself if you want to go further with your garden.

Bowl full of Batavia lettuce


For cooking, try this: 
Chop a sweet pepper, a sweet onion and a small zucchini or a couple of leaves of chard. Saute them in olive oil until tender, season to your liking, and serve over cooked rice or pasta. Simple! And delicious. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard. And, you can always embellish as your heart leads you.

Sauteed peppers and greens

For a bigger challenge:

Saucy Greens

1 small bunch of Swiss chard or other greens

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ c. onion, sliced

1 T. olive oil

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 t. Sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. chopped tomatoes

2 T. sour cream or plain yogurt

1 T. sriracha sauce if desired

2 large eggs if desired

Rinse the greens liberally and remove tough stems. Stack the leaves and roll them into a “cigar” and slice thinly. Add garlic and onion to olive oil in heavy pan and saute until tender. Fry eggs in separate pan if you intend to use them. Add greens, vinegar and sugar and saute about 5 minutes until greens are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in tomatoes and sour cream or yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.

Most of all, have a wonderful 2020 and don’t be afraid to play!

Spider Sticks

I met a woman I didn’t know while walking in the woods yesterday. We each had a dog and were walking toward each other waving sticks up and down. When we met, we both burst out laughing. It wasn’t a cult ritual nor dousing for water. These were our spider sticks.

In the fall, when spiders are busy making plans for winter, they string their webs from tree to tree, without regard to where the paths are and who might be walking them. You seldom see the spiders, but occasionally I’ll find one hanging from my hat brim. I love what spiders are and what they do, but frankly, don’t like them on me. It’s irrational I know, but just can’t quite get past that silly fear.

My spider stick

So, we walk with spider sticks, waving them to catch the webs instead of letting them wrap themselves around our faces. Without a spider stick, you risk coming out of the woods looking like Frodo in the Hobbit when the giant spider wrapped him up in silk.

Spiders are amazing allies in the garden. They consume countless aphids, flying pests and even slugs that can wreak havoc on our plants. So protecting and tolerating them is definitely in our best interests. Their presence makes garden easier.

Garden Orb Spider (my friend)

Spider silk is one of the wonders of the world. It’s ethereally light and almost as strong as steel. It’s sticky (why it’s so hard to get off your face), and is used for transport, lodging and trapping prey. Most of the silks across the trail are the lines tossed into the wind to make a way for the spider to move through the trees without having to walk down a tree, across the path and up another tree. For fascinating details about the silk (and some creepy photos), check out Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating by Catherine Craig.

I’ve started timing my walks so that someone else has already been on that path. Hopefully, with their spider stick, they’ve cleaned out all the webs spun during the night. And yes, there is a spider that shoots silk just like Spiderman. It just doesn’t live around here (look out, Floridians).