February 19, 2015, marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Goat. If you were born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015 you were born in a Goat year. According to Chinese astrology you are: calm, gentle, shy, thoughtful, creative, honest and resilient. My daughter, Danielle, was born in 1979; it is interesting that she possesses all the qualities of a person born in a Goat year.
Chinese New Year is the longest holiday in China; instead of going to work, friends and relatives gather, share special foods and celebrate. The Spring Festival, the start of New Year celebrations, includes: parades, firecrackers, dragon and lion dances.
In China, red is the color of joy and prosperity; handmade red banners adorned with beautiful calligraphy decorate homes, businesses and public places; red envelopes called: Lai See are filled with money and given to children, family members and friends to bring good fortune.
You may be wondering why I’m writing a post about the Chinese New Year; when I was working I loved teaching my first graders about countries and their cultures; we are different, yet the same.
Chinese New Year: another holiday that gathers people together to celebrate life and each other.
When we moved into our home many years ago the gardens I envisioned were in books; not in my yard. But, there was an old chicken coop: rustic shelves, small windows that didn’t close properly, crude wooden beams, and a table made out of a vintage door. Perfect!
Clay pots, rakes, shovels, and trowels made their home there along with watering cans and potting soil. I hung a painted, oval sign on the door: Potting Shed.
Being surrounded by overgrown forsythia bushes, the shed was secluded. After removing grass I planted Lady’s Mantle, variegated ferns and bright blue Forget-me-nots; it became my secret garden.
And then in 2011, Hurricane Irene hit Connecticut. Winds howled around our home and we heard a loud crashing sound; a large, weeping willow tree crushed the forsythia bushes, the secret garden and my potting shed.
We were saddened by the sight of the shed: a caved in roof and massive tree branches sticking out of gaping holes. The shed that lived its life housing chickens on someone’s farm long ago, the shed that gave me a place to pot colorful pansies in spring and rust colored mums in fall.
Fall faded into winter and then spring came. During that time I began researching potting sheds, hoping that some day we would build another one. I googled images of potting sheds and loved the ones that were made using old windows and doors. I researched architectural salvage places. If you’ve never visited an architectural salvage place and you love treasures from the past, it is the place for you. My husband and I wandered around a warehouse stacked with mantles, moldings, fences, gates, windows and doors. We found three, several paned windows, a transom window and a solid wooden door with a window on top. All were covered with several layers of paint and the windows had broken panes; a little work and they would return to their original glory.
We had windows and doors but still no shed. That summer we contacted a company to build our shed and they agreed to cut openings the same size as our windows and doors. In the fall of 2012 our potting shed found a new home in our yard. A friend installed the windows and doors; we filled the shed with the waiting clay pots and tools and closed the door for the winter months. And what was I doing during those months? Researching how to organize the inside of a potting shed.
That spring my husband and I put together wooden boxes for a raised bed garden. I planted seeds and seedlings and tended my first vegetable garden. Finally, at the end of the summer we had time to organize the inside of the shed.
Our potting shed holds more than tools and clay pots; it holds conversations, laughter and good times shared with each other and friends. xxoo
Click on any picture to scroll through the images.
When the heavenly, almond scent filled the entire kitchen, I knew my giant muffin was ready to eat. I pulled down the oven door, slid out the rack and carefully placed the mouthwatering pastry on my plate. Just as I was ready to take a bite, an email from my Jazzercise instructor appeared in my inbox. Drat! How did she know?
When I take the tree down and all the decorations, then I start watching what I’m eating. So, tomorrow the tree comes down and all the decorations. But today…
I love the possibilities a New Year brings. I look ahead anticipating the unknown with optimism. In October 2014, I leapt off into the unknown and started my blog. It was a goal I had for a long while. Blogging is a wonderful journey; you get to travel to many places making new friends along the way.
This year I want to learn more about: pruning shrubs and trees, my camera’s many features, and organic vegetable gardening; growing more, rather than paying for them. I also want to write more blog posts each week and read more books than I read in 2014.
May your New Year be filled with hopes and dreams that come true for you! xxoo
Please enjoy a slideshow I made for you of photos taken, in past years, in fall, winter, spring and summer.