Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Sweet New Year's Treat for You.

Here we go. Tomorrow is New Year's Day, the day we all resolve to be better, smarter, thinner, more organized, more energetic, more compassionate, kinder. 

But what if we started the New Year by being kinder to ourselves?

What if, instead of forcing ourselves to eat an apple for breakfast tomorrow--even though we're dying to carb-load due to our foggy, champagne-laden brains--what if we treated ourselves, celebrating the New Year with a bit of decadence, with a sugar-load of happiness?

Would we spontaneously combust?

Would we ruin the rest of 2014 by enjoying one sinful, delicious, happy breakfast? Or would we savor it, licking our fingers, lounging in our PJs, sipping a great cappuccino (if that's your thing), and spending a restful, lazy New Year's morning with those we love?

I vote for the latter, minus the cappuccino, since I'm not a coffee girl.

So for you, my wonderful friends, I'm giving you a gift. It's a recipe, yes, but it's also permission to ignore the date, to realize that one more seasonal overindulgence will not ruin your goals for 2014.

But it might make the start of your New Year a little sweeter.

cinnamon rolls, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
Now, this isn't my recipe. In fact, it's a pretty famous recipe. When I posted photos of my holiday baking extravaganza, several friends knew right away where this recipe originated.

The Pioneer Woman.

Yep, I was a huge fan of her blog when I first started my own, and of course I bought her first cookbook as soon as it hit Barnes and Noble. Her cinnamon rolls are a holiday tradition in our house now. Actually, they've surpassed just the holidays. They're not only great for sharing with neighbors and friends during the festive season, but they're fabulous for bake sales, school functions, teacher breakfasts, whatever requires a decadent dish for many people.

It's such a happy recipe.

However, I've found that I need to tweak it a bit. Granted, I'm not a master baker, but somehow the dough always ends up too moist for me to work with it, so my version uses a little more flour. And I'm definitely not a fan of coffee and maple, so I've changed the icing to strictly vanilla flavor, plus I've increased the amount of icing. I find that I have a heavy hand when pouring icing, and I end up without enough for all of the rolls using the original recipe. If you like a light glaze of icing, then cut back--but I think yummy, thick icing makes them even more heavenly. If you'd like to see the original recipe, though, here it is. Obviously, The Pioneer Woman is brilliant. I'm just sharing what works best for me.

I can guarantee one thing, though--she's right. You'll become incredibly popular when you deliver these during the holidays, or anytime of the year. (I've actually had two people ask if I would make them if they paid me. Ummm...no. This is strictly a labor of love.)

The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls (with a few adaptations by yours truly)
1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast (4-1/2 teaspoons)
10 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. salt

3 cups melted butter
1/2 cup ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar

3 lbs. powdered sugar
12  tbsp. melted butter (1-1/2 stick)
1-1/2 cups whole milk, depending on the consistency you prefer
dash of salt
2 tbsp. vanilla extract (note: use the good stuff. I also like to scrape a vanilla bean for extra flavor)

1. Heat the milk, oil, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat--don't boil. Cool to lukewarm.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk mixture. Let it rest for a minute to activate. 
3. Add 8 cups of the flour, a few cups at a time (unless you want your kitchen to look like a winter wonderland. Not that I've ever done that.) I love my KitchenAid mixer so much. Although, it's really not mine. I bought it for my bread-making husband many years ago. Selfish present, wasn't it?! Oh, sorry, back to the recipe!
4. Take a look at the dough after you mix it. Does it look really sticky? If so, then add another cup of flour, mix, and cover with a kitchen towel.  Mine always is a little too sticky, but check your dough before you blindly throw in the extra cup of  flour. Let the dough rise for an hour.
Note: My last batch of dough REALLY rose...over the side of the bowl and onto the counter. So, take a look periodically at your dough during that hour. (I waited a little too long.)
5.  Remove the towel, add the baking soda, baking powder, salt and another cup of flour. Mix to ensure everything is well combined. Now, check your consistency once again. Does it stick to your hands in a gloppy glue? Add that extra flour and mix.
The Pioneer Woman says you can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days, but I always use mine right away. If you store it, just check to make sure it doesn't rise all over your refrigerator--punch it down when it starts growing toward the top of the bowl.
6. Flour your work space and rolling pin. Remove half of the dough and roll into a long rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Now, you're ready to add the yumminess.
7. For the filling, melt the butter and pour at least 1 cup of it onto the dough, spreading it evenly. I use a pastry brush, but The Pioneer Woman uses her fingers. 
8. Now, sprinkle 1/4 cup cinnamon over the buttery dough. Honestly, I adore cinnamon, so I really just take the container and generously sprinkle the divine spice all over the dough. Adjust to your taste, of course. (My kids are not big cinnamon fans. Silly kids.)
9. So, we have butter. We have cinnamon. Now, it's time to add the sugar. I use about 1-1/2 cups of sugar, distributed evenly over the dough. The goal is a delicious, gooey filling, and I've found that this ratio of butter and sugar does the trick. 
10. Ready? It's time to test your dexterity. Honestly, I find this next step to be the most challenging. It's time to roll. Start on the long side farthest from you, and tightly roll the dough toward you. It's not that this step is necessarily difficult--it's just messy. If you're like me, you'll wind up with a nice flour-butter-sugar-coated sweater during this process. Try to keep the roll tight and even. If the dough is sticking to your work surface, I find that I can lift the dough slightly with one hand and slide a bit of flour underneath, which seems to help. As you near the end of rolling, take the side nearest you, lift it slightly over the roll and pinch it closed. Now, you have a beautiful roll of sugary deliciousness-to-be.
11. Make certain your surface is safe for cutting (or transfer dough to a cutting board), and slice the rolled dough into 1-1/2 inch segments using a sharp knife.
12. Drizzle a bit of butter into your pans, coating the bottom and sides. Place the sliced rolls into the pans, spacing evenly without overlapping. (For events with large crowds, like a school function, I use 9 x 12 pans, but for individual gifts, I use round 9" cake pans.)
13. Cover the pans/rolls with a kitchen towel and allow them to rise for about 20 minutes--which gives you enough time to roll out and fill the remaining dough. Preheat your oven now, too--375 degrees.
14. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 13 to 17 minutes, depending on your oven. The goal is a lovely, light golden brown roll. Keep you eyes on them, because they just aren't as tasty when they're too brown. (Not that I would know, of course.) ;-)
15. And now, while those babies are baking in the toasty oven, it's time for more sugar...it's time to make the icing. Mmmm! (Do this when your kids aren't around, otherwise they'll want to lick the bowl--and you deserve to lick it yourself after all of this work!) Combine the powdered sugar, milk, butter, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Of course, you need to sample it a few times and add whatever makes you happy--a little more milk to smooth the consistency? Sure. A splash more vanilla? Why not? Adjust to make the icing just as you like it. I don't like it too thin, but I do like it to pour easily over the rolls. It makes icing a cinch.
16. After the rolls are removed from the oven and still warm, pour the icing over the top, allowing it to drizzle all over the rolls. My personal goal with icing the cinnamon rolls is that no portion of the roll should be naked. But that's just me. You can use a lighter hand if you prefer.

And that, my friends, is my New Year's gift to you...a big, scrumptious, delicious smelling and tasting cinnamon roll for New Year's Day breakfast. No Slim Fast. No grapefruit. Be kind to yourself and go make them, right now, before your begin your celebration tonight.

Better yet, if you're having guests over--have them help you bake while you drink champagne, and send them home with a pan of cinnamon rolls. 

You will be happy tomorrow morning. I promise.

Happy, happy New Year's to you! May all of your wishes come true!

(And be safe tonight.)




Sunday, December 29, 2013

Creating Gifts for Christmas Chicks.

Christmas passed in the blink of an eye. Didn't it? Am I the only one that feels this way? One minute, I'm up to my elbows in cinnamon roll dough (more on that next time), the next I'm frantically wrapping presents and trying to decide who needs a handwritten note on Christmas cards versus who is up-to-date with kids' happenings via Facebook. Crazy days and late nights resulting in a neglected blog...and then, POOF. 

Christmas is over.

Well, then.

I'm actually feeling a little lost.

The frantic pace screeched to an abrupt halt, and now my brain is preoccupied with seed catalogs, stone paths, chicken coops, and garden plans. The dreary rain isn't cooperating with my new projects, however. So instead, I thought I'd share some of our recent chicken escapades. 

There's nothing better than a little chicken play time to shift your perspective.

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

The girls enjoyed a bit of supervised free ranging in the kitchen garden. Oreo does a fine job keeping an eye on her feathered friends. (She's actually a little afraid of them.)

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
Sprite nibbles the herb garden.

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
The girls are excellent soil- and compost-turners. When the beds are full of crops, they're also excellent devourers of our dinner. Right now, though, only a few beds are occupied, so they enjoyed mostly free access to the garden.

Sprouting straw that insulates the garlic bed provided green treats for Willow Wisp and Resa...

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

...but honestly, the compost overflowing from the bins served as the biggest attraction to the girls. Bugs galore! A chicken feast!

While most of our holiday decorating happened in early December, we added some last minute decor and treats for the girls. After all, nothing says Merry Christmas like eight stockings hung by a run, right?

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Along with the stockings, the kids enjoyed creating edible garland for their girls. 
backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
Huh. Kristen's arms look freakishly long here.

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Doesn't Mikey look thrilled at our crafty project? So. Much. Fun.

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, kitchen garden, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

I even created my first wreath from scratch to hang on the coop.
homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Honestly, I have no idea why I haven't been making our wreaths all of these years. Using the cutoff branches from our Christmas tree trunk, floral wire, and a $3 wreath form from the craft store, it took a whopping 10 minutes to complete the wreath. 

homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Simply cut the evergreen branches into 5-6 inch segments, bundle, place at an angle, wrap with wire and repeat. 
homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

homemade wreath, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

So ridiculously easy.

The kids hung their completed grape and cranberry garlands on the fence that separates the chickens' run from the pool area. Three long garlands decorated the muddy fence.

Did I mention that it's been raining A LOT during vacation? The chickens' run is a muddy mess.
backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

At first, the girls weren't certain what to think about the garland.
backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

But then, once they saw their favorite treat--grapes--it was a feeding frenzy. 
backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
As soon as one chicken plucked a grape from the garland, the rest quickly tried to steal it. A few brave girls plucked their own treats off the strand, but most waited to try to steal the grapes from one another.

Silly chickens.
backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

The grapes disappeared in a blink of an eye--much like Christmas. The cranberries lingered a bit longer. Next year, if the girls are extra good and quit sneaking out of the run, we might make the garlands from all grapes--red and green. Festive colors and favorite food!

For now, though, their Christmas treats are just a memory. 

Many people already packed away their decorations, but we're still trying to maintain a bit of Christmas cheer here. The tree is dropping needles, but the decorations will remain up until January 1. We can all use the extra bit of good fortune by leaving the tree up until New Year's Day, right? It's supposed to be lucky, like eating collard greens and black-eye peas.

backyard chickens, chicken treats, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Plus, the chicken stockings just make me laugh, and we all need a little chuckle during the gray winter days.

Are you still enjoying holiday decorations, or are you all tidied up and ready for New Year's?

Hoping you and yours enjoyed a lovely holiday season!



Saturday, December 28, 2013

And the winner is...

TJ! Please check your e-mail, TJ, and let me know which two books you would like to receive. Thank you to everyone who entered, and a huge thank you to my wonderful writer friends who generously added their recommendations. What a wonderful list of gardening books we all have now to help entertain us through the cold winter months!

I hope you are enjoying a lovely holiday season. 



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Too Cold to Garden? Snuggle Up (and Win) a Good Book!

It's 27 degrees in South Carolina. I'm not complaining. Many northern gardening friends are posting chill-inducing negative numbers and fabulous photos of snow-covered paths. (Those posts provide excellent reminders of why I moved south. The days of lake effect snow and sub-zero wind chill are not days I care to relive.) Still, 27 degrees is brutal for us southern belles. Although there's a box in the garage filled with my infamous end-of-season clearance bulbs awaiting their home in the garden, I'm not venturing out into the bitter tundra until it warms a bit.

Like maybe March.

When the temperatures plummet, what's a gardener to do? Why, we embrace the next best thing, of course.

We read about gardening.

With the holidays upon us, I asked a few of my lovely garden writer friends to share their favorite gardening books. My request is a bit selfish, truthfully. While my hoard of books overflows from the bookshelves onto the floor, I'm always on the lookout for the next great gardening book—or one that I missed. Christmas is coming, after all, and I'm hoping Santa might put a few of these titles under the tree.

I've been a good girl. Really. (Well, except for that massive bulb purchase.)

More importantly, though, I'm giving you a gift!

Not only will you have a terrific list to help stock your own gardening library or to hand to Santa when you sit on his lap, but you also have the chance to win YOUR CHOICE of TWO of our experts' favorite books! Hooray for free books!

Plus, you have multiple chances to win. For each action below, you'll receive one entry:

1. Leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite book—gardening or otherwise. (Please include an e-mail so I can contact you if you win.)

2. Follow Growing Days.

3. Like my Facebook page, Garden Delights.

4. Follow me on Twitter.

5. Follow me on Pinterest.

Five chances! TWO books—one for a gift, one to keep! Or, keep them both if you'd prefer. The choice is yours.

Please enter by midnight EST on Friday night, December 20, 2013. My little elf, Mikey, will pull the winning name from our Magic Santa Hat. We're old school like that, but it will be fair, I promise. I'll announce the winner on Monday.

And now, for your reading pleasure...

Favorite Gardening Books

“My very favorite garden book of all time is The Backyard Parables by Margaret Roach. That will be the one that I take with me to the 'deserted island.' It has just the right amount of challenge and camaraderie. If I read it five times, I'd get something new from it every time.

“Another favorite is The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. It was just pure entertainment, and I didn't want it to end.

"Interesting, isn't it, that they both have a Martha Stewart connection?

“My third favorite has to be a recent read, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It satisfied the plant nerd in me, and the style of writing was just 'period' enough that it held my interest without frustrating me. I thought it was a beautifully crafted historic novel. I read it in record time.”

~ Kylee Baumle, co-author of Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants
Author of the blog, Our Little Acre


"This is a perennial favorite of mine: Yard Full of Sun: The Story of a Gardener's Obsession that Got a Little Out of Control by Scott Calhoun.

"Talented plantsman, designer, and writer Scott Calhoun tells with humor and charm the story of how he created an Arizona desert garden for his family in Tucson, Arizona. Great ideas for those of us in more arid climates than are usually featured in garden books."

~ Pam Penick, author of Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Attractive, Sustainable Alternatives for Your Yard
Author of the blog Digging, Austin garden designer.


“I loved Elizabeth Lawrence's books [A Garden of One's Own, Two Gardeners, A Southern Garden, and more.] I'm presently reading Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children's Tales by Marta McDowell. I'm loving it, too.

“I also love Sunflower Houses, Sharon Lovejoy's wonderful book on gardening with children. Her other books are also wonderful, but that one holds a special place in my heart.

“I loved Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler. I also loved The Beautiful Edible Garden by Stefani Bittner and Leslie Bennett.

“Plus, I don't know these people, but I liked their book, Gardening for Geeks by Christy Wilhelmi, founder of Gardenerd.com. As for greenhouses, I like Paradise Under Glass by Ruth Kassinger.”

~ Dee Nash, author of The 20/30 Something Garden Guide: A No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff (Available February 2014)

Author of the blog Red Dirt Ramblings


“Lois Trigg Chaplin's Southern Gardener's Book of Lists. I have two copies, one for home and one for work! My other favorite, of course, is Container Gardening for All Seasons by Barbara Wise.”

~ Barbara Wise, author of Container Gardening for All Seasons: Enjoy Year-Round Color with 101 Designs

Author of the blog bwisegardening


American Horticulture Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. My first BIG reference book to learn about plants.

Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy R. Hugo and Robert Llewellyn. Love my trees!!!!

“Pam Harper, garden author, lived down a couple miles from me in Seaford. Time Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Garden. She had the best garden...one to drool over.

“Margot Rochester's Down to Earth: Practical Thoughts for Passionate Gardeners. A Greenville gardener whose down to earth gardening habits are a good read for a gardener in our area.

“And for my wormies, a book I didn't think I would read through. I thought it would be a reference, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, plan on reading it again: Amy Stewart's The Earth Moved. I will be doing a talk on vermicomposting to a garden club.”

~Janet Ledebuhr, Master Gardener

Author of the blog, The Queen of Seaford


“I keep a dog-eared copy of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith in my storage box out by my garden. It really helps me to plan my garden layout every season.

“I also love the story, French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France by Richard Goodman. It just speaks to me about the discovery of gardening and community. Love it!"

~ Carolyn Binder, freelance writer and author of the blog Cowlick Cottage Farm


“Hardly a day goes by that I don’t find another must-have book, classic or brand new, on every topic under the sun (or shade). But one that grounded me as a new gardener and that I revisit often is Scott Ogden’s Gardening Success with Difficult Soils.

“In poetic and conversational prose, Scott expertly connects us to the garden’s backbone: soil. It’s not a scary dissertation; rather, it’s a revelation about the essential relationship between soil, plants, and wildlife.

“Also, I recommend his many others books, including those in collaboration with wife Lauren Odgen Springer, like the remarkable Plant-Driven Design. And Lauren Springer’s beautifully written The Undaunted Garden boosts my knowledge, energy, and creativity.

“When I want an escape from it all, I curl up in bed with popcorn and mystery garden novels by my dear friend Susan Wittig Albert and newcomer Rosemary Harris. Rosemary strikes a close chord, since in real life and in her novels, she was a TV producer who cancelled her ratings to go dig in gardens!”

~ Linda Lehmusvirta, Producer, Central Texas Gardener

Web: www.klru.org/ctg
Blog: www.klru.org/ctg/blog


“One of my fave garden books—dog-eared, well-worn after handling with garden-gloved hands and stained with coffee cup circles, is Fallscaping by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra, with photos by Rob Cardillo. I believe in gardening for four-seasons and often find that many of my clients and readers give up after a hot summer. This book is good inspiration to keep you gardening through the first frost.

“Anything by Tovah Martin. Both the New Terrarium and Unexpected Houseplant are perused often. Tovah has a unique eye for style, one that agrees with my sensibilities.

“And just because it is so ADORABLE, I love Radical Prunings by Bonnie Thomas Abbott. Read closely for her innuendoes...she is the master of them.”

~ Helen Yoest, author of Gardening with Confidence—50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity and Plants with Benefits—An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden. (Available January 2014)

Author of the blog, Gardening with Confidence


“Gardening did not come naturally to me. I could kill a plant at one glance. I decided to start a garden after the birth of my third child. We needed access to better vegetables, and a home vegetable garden was our first choice. Reading the backs of seed packages would make my head spin when I was first learning how to garden.

“One of the books that helped build my gardening foundation was Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. His step-by-step descriptions of laying out and spacing the garden made complete sense for my overwhelmed brain. It was a great reference guide for starting out, complete with grid layouts, garden organization, and vegetable growing tips.

“Now that I’ve been gardening for a few years, I still use the square foot gardening method (but with adjustments to our gardening style and needs). This method works well for my wanna-be orderly, keep-everything-in-its-place brain.”
~ Mia Nichols, author of the blog Modern Mia Gardening

"My favorite gardening book is Amanda Thomsen's Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You. Because for all the talk in the industry about reaching out and cultivating new audiences and gardeners, hers is precisely the kind of thing that would have struck my fancy as a young new homeowner. (As it happened, I had a green-thumb mom and eventually a next door neighbor who was both a graphics designer and wonderful gardener.)"

~ Pamela Price, author, journalist, and blogger Red White & Grew  

"My favorite book is Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy. I am going to hear him speak in the mid-winter, our Master Gardeners and the local Wildflower Association is sponsoring him to come...can't wait. I have become enamored with native plants in the past few years, and his book really helped me see more reasons why they're so good. I was 'going native' prior to reading his book, but it solidified it for me. Plus, I became an Audubon at Home Ambassador with our MG group, and we read his book there, as well."

~ Jan Doble, author of the blog, Thanks for Today

Thank you to Kylee, Pam, Barbara, Janet, Carolyn, Linda, Helen, Mia, Pamela, and Jan for your fabulous recommendations! UPDATE: Enormous apologies to Pamela and Jan for my carelessness in leaving out their reviews in the original post. I'm SO sorry!

Now remember--you can't win if you don't play! Good luck!



Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Interview with An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener.

It might not surprise you to know that as a kid, I possessed a rather overactive imagination. I spent a lot of time in my little fantasy world, plotting how I would save the Earth from an evil dictator, or how I would win Olympic medals in gymnastics like my hero, Nadia. My obsessive reading habit began when I was four, so I suppose that helped fuel these fantasies.

Laura Ingalls Fan Girl. Yes, I had a dress and bonnet. I know you're jealous.

Of course, the result of my heroism/fantastic athleticism/altruism would result in the quintessential honor--a seat next to Johnny Carson's desk. I'd charm Johnny with my quips while appearing both humble and intriguing. The interview would be so spectacular that I knew--knew with the certainty of my 8-year-old soul--that he'd offer me hundreds of dollars to take the place of that goofy side-kick of his. (I had no concept of thousands or millions of dollars back then.)

Oddly enough, I never made it to the Olympics, and I'd yet to save the world or invent the cure for cancer before Johnny left the air.

But, I did have the fabulous experience of talking with another John. 

Gardening guru John Markowski, author of An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener, interviewed me, along with my friends Janet from The Queen of Seaford and Mia from Modern Mia Gardening for his podcast, which you can find here. So, if you want to know our most hated plant or the number one gardening tip you cannot live without, give it a listen. John is a great host.

And being a guest on his podcast was just as great as my fantasy of chatting with that other John. Truly. (Once John gets his own gardening TV show, I think he needs a side-kick, don't you?!)

Happy December!