I am thrilled to announce that I’m embarking on a new endeavor this year ~ a “garden adventure” fiction series intended for a middle grade audience. Written under the pseudonym D. S. Venetta, Show Me The Green! will be released next month.

worm and dirt scene

It’s the First Annual Garden Contest sponsored by the local farmer’s market, and Lexi and Jason Williams are determined to win with organic vegetables grown under the supervision of their mother. In this battle against time and the elements, the kids are sidetracked by everything from caterpillars to worms, seeds to harvest. While the siblings test each other’s patience, they marvel at the wealth of discoveries hidden away between the beds of their garden. Including, poop. Worm poop, mostly.

Who knew a garden could be so much fun? More

How to Make the Most of your Garden with the Kids

Please welcome Laura Clarke to my blog today!  She’s a keen blogger and loves making the most of the garden, especially when it comes to the kids.  Currently, she’s working on behalf of Tiger Sheds, a company out of the UK.  If you’re “in the area” why not stop by the website and take a look see?  Something for everyone there… 🙂

How to Make the Most of your Garden with the Kids

Kids love to be outside at this time of year and there are plenty of things that need to be done in the garden that the kids can help you with and enjoy! Whether it’s sowing seeds, picking out the weeds or watering the plants there are plenty of activities that will keep your kids entertained and also keep your garden looking great at the same time.

Grow some vegetables

No space is too small to grow your own vegetables, fruit or herbs and kids will love watching the plants grow to have edible produce that they can enjoy. Tomatoes are favourites with children as they can easily grow in a grow bag in a warm garden shed or greenhouse. Strawberries can also be grown in hanging baskets and herbs in small pots. Cooking with their own produce will give children a new-found appreciation for the lengths it takes to get food to the table.

Let them plant your pots

Show them how to fill your pots with soil and how to sow the seeds and bulbs and then get them to water them. They might not be the cleanest gardeners, so beware of soil scattering everywhere, you could even get them to sweep up the mess they made. Teach them how from tiny seeds or bulbs big plants will grow and how they have to be looked after by giving them plenty of water to drink and sitting them in a nice sunny spot.

Get them to weed your flower beds

Weeding can be a chore at the best of times so by having some little helpers on hand could save you precious time. Kids gardening kits are easily available and are great for little hands. As we all know kids love digging and playing “grownups” so they will really enjoy doing this. (Just make sure you brief them fully as to what constitutes a weed–we don’t want any plants uprooting!)

Give them the task of watering the plants

Giving children jobs to do in the house in return for their pocket-money is nothing new, so why not extend the jobs into the garden and have them water the flowers. Filling up a watering can and watering the garden can be a great game–they will forget it’s a job.  Receiving their pocket-money at the end of the week will be so much more fulfilling.

Create a child’s garden

Depending on how big your garden is depends on how much space you can give to the kids. If you have a small garden, give them a large window box to look after or for large patches, why not give them a flower bed? Tell them it is their responsibility to make sure their patch looks as good as the rest of the garden and show them how to keep it tidy. They will be very happy once their flowers bloom and they see their hard work pay off.

Getting your kids involved in garden maintenance means they’ll be less likely to dig up your favourite plants, plus they’ll feel pride in looking after their very own. So get outside and let’s start gardening as a family!

Humor for the Summer Heat

I bet you’re loving the weather this time of year, what with the snow melted, the sun shining and the seeds screaming to be sown.  In Florida, much of our gardening season is coming to an end.  My potatoes have been dug up, roasted, mashed and skillet-fried.  My sweet onions have been hauled out of the ground, slapped on the grill, sliced into salads… 

You get the idea.  So round about this time, my mind starts to wander…to crazy places, faraway places, places most people would fear!  Okay, just kidding.  But seriously, have you ever wondered:  if kids were vegetables/fruits, which one would yours be? 

Carrot – These boys and girls are bunches of fun and pure gold, inside and out.  At times they may appear feather-minded or flippant, but not to worry—they usually hop to their senses in short order!  For them, life is joyful.  Who can argue with that?

Corn – All sunshine and candy this child is as sweet and happy as they come, complete with flaxen hair and slender frame, though not all are blonde.  Ever heard of Indian corn?  Browns, reds, these kids come in all colors and flavors!  Occasionally blown off-balance by life, these little ones can prove susceptible to sudden surprise.  But who isn’t?   

Watermelon – Is it summertime, yet?  That’s the question spittin’ from these kids, cause they’re all about outdoor play, picnics and swim parties.  Don’t look for these rosy-cheeks anywhere near a computer game when the sun is shining but by golly Miss Molly when they’re finished—they move on quick, leaving a “scatter” of evidence behind. 

Onion – While these little ones spend more time in tears than many of their peers, despair not—they sweeten as they mature, especially when kept close to home.  Once fully-grown, these boys and girls realize how versatile they truly are and find themselves in high demand and welcome most everywhere.

Strawberry – Bright and cheerful, these spring babies are a real treat.  They love the sun, love to shine…they simply love life.  But caution:  prone to a sweet tooth these kids will wallow in crème and sugar if you let them, with a tendency to plump!  And while plump can be perfect, TOO plump is not. Encourage these sweeties to keep it fresh and minimize the sugary add-ons.

Cabbage – These cherubs are as quiet as they are cute.  No trouble, no talkback, they’re good-natured and easy to mix.  Invited to parties year-round, they blend easily with any crowd and in the rare event they turn sour, don’t fret.  Simply run a hand over their soft heads, hush them to sleep and they’ll be lulled back to good sense in no time!

Chili Pepper – These kids will keep you hopping, skipping AND jumping!  Firecrackers for sure, these kiddos are sharp-minded and rambunctious—a definite hand-full that adds zing to your life.  Many a day you may question your sanity, but never your luck.  While spicy and hard to handle, you wouldn’t trade them for the world.  Not for a second.

Pole Beans – Fresh outdoorsy types, these kids love to climb and see the world.  Tall and slim, they’re forever exploring yet easy to manage.  Need something?  Ask these sweet babies.  They’re quick to produce and don’t disappoint.

Pumpkin – As the name entails, these kids are cuter than pumpkins, round and merry and oh-so-ready for fall.  Apple pie and haystacks are what lure these kids (not to mention a great goblin costume).  But watch your back!  These mischievous critters are practical jokesters, known to spook a time or two.

Weeds – Wouldn’t be fair to overlook these little fellas.  Can’t because they’re everywhere!  Underfoot, out the door, around the corner!  And they’re quick, too.  Staying on top of these kids will take constant supervision and planning ahead.  They need freedom to roam and room to move and if you’re smart—you’ll allot them a space all their own.  No can do?  Ruh, roh.  These resourceful kids will make it happen.

 As part of the Summer Splash Blog Hop, I’m giving away a garden goody basket!  Giveaway includes custom seed packet holder, set of 10 seed saving packets for your harvest, pair of kids’ garden gloves and your choice of garden-inspired T-shirt — bloomin’ sprout or bloomin’ beauty, caption on the back reads: “A child (girl) will bloom in time; their (her) own sweet time!”

How do you win?  Simply leave a comment here and you’ll be entered to win.  Want to increase your odds?  Like my facebook page and follow me on twitter!  Three easy ways to win. 🙂  Now get hopping–you’ve got a ton more sites to visit.

Garden Inspired T-Shirts for the Kids!!

As we welcome spring, I’m launching a line of garden inspired T-Shirts. Your kids will love wearing these 100% cotton Tees that tell the world:  Leave them be — they’ll bloom in their own SWEET time!  Made from 100% cotton, they’ll wear comfy and cozy and be able to keep up with the most active of lifestyles giving your green-thumbed kids a fun way to share their love of gardening. 

Choose from bloomin’ beauty and bloomin’ sprout, each broadcasting their own message on the back, a timeless statement that speaks to a child’s personal sense of worth and well-being.  Bloomin’ beauties are for girls only, but sprouts work well for both boys and girls.  Make great gifts!

Price for each is $14.99 and includes shipping and handling.** 

For ordering, click on Garden Inspired T-shirts under the Kid Buzz section.  Questions or comments?  You know where to find me! gardenfrisk (at)

**International shipping rates will vary.  Please email me for exact amounts.

This One’s for You, Mom

Today I planned to post another chapter in the lives of my students and their school garden, including the addition of a few photos from my homegrown blueberry patch, perhaps a few analogies between kids and plants…

But then my daughter surprised me with an early Mother’s Day gift.

Kids.  They really are the only gift a mother needs on yet another Sunday in a busy calendar year…  Of course they’re not satisfied with merely existing.  Oh, no–they need to be noticed and fussed over, coddled and loved; they’re basically miniature adults in this regard.  And like adults who need to be loved, they also need to love, and share.  As she did with me today.

Now, not to take away from her delivery, but when my child walks up to me and prefaces the bestowing of a gift with an “I need you to pay attention” — as if I don’t ALWAYS pay attention when she’s bearing gifts!–I get a little nervous.  My evening news was over (a definite pre-requisite in our household, because it’s the only time “I” get to watch television), and it was me who called her out to the living room for the specific purpose of her gift-giving — per her request — I must admit, I was somewhat wary. 

“Pay attention?” I replied.  “Why wouldn’t I pay attention?  You’re giving me prizes!”

Grinning, hiding my gift behind her back, she wanted to be sure.  “Okay.  Are you ready?”

I glanced around the empty, quiet room.  “Yes, I think so…”

Unable to contain herself, she whipped out the cards and handed them to me.  “I made you these at school.”

Watercolor renditions of a garden.  A compilation of all the beautiful flowers that surround our home.  I do love flowers.  There were four in total; one large and three smaller.  “They’re beautiful, honey.  Thank you!”

Her smile took total control of her face then as she was clearly pleased by my response.  But they are beautiful.  The largest one had a hand-written note inside about how wonderful I am (thank you for finally noticing!) while the other three were custom note cards for my personal use (her teacher reduced her original painting which she showcased against bright orange paper).  “They’re perfect.”

She proceeded to explain to me how I was to use them, then remained seated next to me, steeped in my admiration.

Looking at her, an unrestrained bundle of joy and innocence, elation and pride, I was reminded once again how precious children are and how lucky I am to be a mother.  This child is golden, through and through.  Sure she bickers with her brother, snips at me most mornings and complains about my dinner selection–who doesn’t?  Though in her card, she was kind enough to mention I was a good cook.

But that’s real life.  You get the good with the bad, the fun with the not-so-fun, the green with the brown (that’s garden lingo).  You get it all. 

If you’re lucky.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t quite evolved to that place where I could live in la-la happy land all the time and be happy.  I need contrast.  I need lessons.  I need growth.  Reminders like today aid me in that path and I’m thankful, each and every day.

This weekend it’s Mother’s Day and we’ll focus on mom, but in reality, everyday is mother’s day–and father’s day, children’s day, grandparents day…  With the right attitude, every day is ours, and one to be celebrated.

To all my fellow moms, have a happy Mother’s Day and enjoy!  They’re prepared to please

Excuse me?

While watching television the other night with the family, my daughter asked, “Mom, is that a poppy?”

Absorbed in a novel I paid no attention (to be a writer, one must be an avid reader, multi-tasking screen versus print, notwithstanding).   Her father, seated next to her, was watching the same program.  He could answer. 

But he didn’t.   And apparently, this was a girl who wanted to know so once again, a little louder this time, “Hey, garden whiz.  What kind of flower is that?”

I flipped my gaze from book to daughter.   Garden whiz?   My husband and I exchanged glances and shared a private chuckle.   Garden whiz?  Really?   She’s nine.   Where do they come up with this stuff at this age?

To his credit, my husband was first to respond.   “Garden whiz?” he asked her, giving none of his amusement away.

“Well,” she surmised, putting forth her best authoritarian air.   “She knows everything about plants.”

“Vegetables,” I corrected, still amused by the maturity she revealed.   It’s constant, really.   You have to keep on your toes around these kids, I’m telling you.   “I know all about vegetables.”   As far as you know, anyway.

“Whatever,” she replied, unimpressed by the distinction.   “Do you know what kind of flower it is?”

Twelve, I groaned inwardly.   I thought I had until she was twelve before this attitude started!   But indulging her, I glanced toward the television screen and speculated – guessed, really – as to the identity of the orange-red flower with the black center.   “I think it’s a poppy.”

“Oh,” she replied, unenthused.   That — after her initial persistence.  Go figure

Curious now, I began to wonder about the flower.   Was I correct?   Images formed in my mind’s eye of where I last saw this particular species and suddenly, I realized I was thinking of the “drug” flower — as in opium.   Fields of it floated within the breeze of my imagination as the images swirled in my head.

Images I quickly extinguished.   I flashed to my daughter.   She is an innocent, granted, dipping perilously close to adolescence, but I reassured myself that a poppy is a common flower, and doesn’t necessarily denote anything more than beauty. 

But ever the creative one, my mind continued to conjure up image after image of all kinds of sordid things; bad seeds growing bad weeds, kids whacked out on drugs—

Stop.   Breathe, darn it.   Breathe.   It’s just your motherly instincts breaking out of their pen, trampling the beautiful green pasture you’ve created so meticulously with loving care.   Nothing to worry about here.   All is well.

Anxiety attack securely behind me, I checked my internet resources and discovered I was right.   Don’t ask me how I knew.   Remember, I grow vegetables, not poppies.   Must be the news, I concluded.  I watch too much news. 

Tucking my daughter in that evening, I kissed her forehead and took in the sweet scent of her hair, her skin.   Lingering, it occurred to me; kids can amaze you.   From out of nowhere, for no reason, can appear the rarest of moments, the clearest of glimpses into their hearts and minds — and you as a parent —  simply must keep up.  Some days, this feat is harder than others.  

But most days, I’m good.   And fortunate, because it’s my job to stop and smell the roses, savoring each and every moment along the way.   Sometimes more is required, sometimes less, but it’s always fresh and new.

And always worthwhile.