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What’s Bugging You?

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Empowerment
What’s Bugging You?

bee-blackeyed susan conflowe.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1312/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Whats-bugging-you.html

“…many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth.” Charles Darwin

Twenty-three honeybees, ten lady beetles, five lizards, three frogs, and several spiders.

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Within two hours on a very hot day this past week, the rescue count from the swimming pool kept mounting. I was afraid to leave the water lest more of my garden friends would drown.  It’s summer and the flying insects, creepy crawlies, and slithering creatures are in abundance.  The ones I want to save are the ones that are our garden guardians. 

The Good Guys

Bees

We’ve all heard about the Colony Collapse Disorder affecting honey bees worldwide and the importance of protecting our all bees. Don’t confuse honey bees with carnivorous yellowjackets. Bees, bumble bees, and yellowjackets are all pollinators yet honey bees and bumble bees don’t attack humans unless they are stepped on, slapped, swatted, or threatened. They are gathering pollen and the honey bees are making honey while keeping our fruit, flowers, and vegetables reproducing. 

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Lady Beetles

There are over 450 species of ladybugs in the United States and they are voracious consumers of aphids, caterpillars, lace bugs, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, and mites. Lady beetles are perhaps the most beloved of all insects and even though you can purchase them for your garden, they will fly away when their food level declines. An adult will eat over 5,000 aphids in her lifetime.

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Lizards

Don’t be afraid of these garden helpers. Lizards are carnivores, not plant-eaters. You are fortunate if you have lizards in your yard. They eat beetles, ants, wasps, aphids, and grasshoppers. They like to bask in the sun and also shelter under rocks or in the mulch. Predators to lizards include cats, snakes, and birds. 

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Frogs

Both frogs are toads are amphibians living on both land and in water. They need moisture to survive and prey upon snails, slugs, and other insects. However, if they fall into a swimming pool without a way to escape, they will drown. In one summer, a single toad may devour over 10,000 pests.  Some species will eat mosquito larvae. Like our lizard friends, pets, birds, and snakes enjoy them as a meal. Enjoy their choral music at dusk.

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Spiders

Fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias even though most spiders do not bite humans.  The two biting spiders with venom that can be fatal to humans are the black widow and the brown recluse. Spiders are not insects.  Spiders are arthropods as they have eight legs.  As happy hunters, they are excellent garden pest control managers, actually considered to be the most beneficial and efficient insect eradicator in our landscapes.  When you see a spider web, admire its delicate intricacy. Don’t destroy it. Inside your home, spiders are helping eradicate more invasive bugs.  Spiders don’t carry diseases like mosquitoes or ticks. 

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To keep the good guys attracted to our landscapes, eliminate pesticides, insecticides, and chemicals. Companion planting with a diversity of species will provide a variety of stalking and dining options. Offer shelters of mulch, rocks, small branches, and a water source.

The Bad Guys

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites cause puffy red bumps that can itch for a week. Worse, mosquitoes are vectors for West Nile Virus that they transmit to humans. Empty any standing water around your garden and punch drainage holes in containers. Change birdbaths daily or add a re-circulating pump. If you have a pool or hot tub, keep it effectively chlorinated. Check for leaky faucets. It only takes a few days for larvae to mature. Vector Control is available at no charge to add mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) to your pond water.

Yellowjackets

Although yellowjackets do help with pollination, they are scavengers for meat and sugary food, disrupting picnics, summer outdoor activities, and barbecues. Never squash a yellowjacket. When crushed they emit a chemical that calls to other yellowjackets to attack. They build nests in abandoned burrows, in eaves, and bushes. Because their sting is so potent and painful, if you find a nest, call Vector Control for eradication.

Ticks

Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing epidemics with over 300,000 diagnoses occurring annually in the United States. Summer is the most likely time to be bitten by a tiny deer tick. Ticks are parasites that feed on blood. They live in brush piles, leaf litter, lawns, tree stumps, ground cover, and stone or brick walls. They even have been found on picnic tables and benches. It’s important to wear tick repellent clothing when outside and after being outdoors, conduct a full body check, take a shower, and put your clothes in a hot dryer for thirty minutes to kill any ticks, then wash your clothes. (I know, it seems weird to dry first, then wash, but the heat of the dryer kills the ticks) Check your pets. Ticks can be hard to find and can linger in your hair, clothing, or pet fur. If you find a tick, don’t twist it or turn it. Use sanitized pointed tweezers to grab the tick and pull it straight out. Wash the bite, apply antiseptic, save the tick for identification, and seek medical attention.

The “bad guys” are on my ‘danger watch out” list. I’ve had three trips already to either urgent care or the emergency room with ticks lodged in my neck that required surgery to remove.  Mosquitoes are my nemesis inflicting gigantic, itching bites with bumps that last for two weeks or more. In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon three yellowjacket nests, suffering multiple stings on my hand and arms with swelling that abated after a week. 

The “good guys” I’ll continue to rescue as they are my garden “watchdogs” along with the numerous birds and hummingbirds that thankfully aren’t nose-diving!

What’s bugging you?

Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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Empowerment
Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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“There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.”  W. Somerset Maugham

Perhaps because I practiced interior design as a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.) for twenty-five years, or perhaps because my gardener mother always created gorgeous, casual, and delicious summer gatherings, my style of summer outdoor entertaining has always included color, surprises, and fun.  With the lovely warm weather, whether it’s throwing a blanket on the deck for an impromptu picnic or setting a stunning table for a themed get-together, dining alfresco is my preferred approach to feeding my guests.  

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My cues arrive in collaboration between my interior and exterior spaces. Since I designed my garden to be an extension of my home, the outdoor eating areas complement the kitchen creating an inviting flow from my interior décor to the garden rooms. Creating this sense of serenity and continuity is as significant to the outside of the home as it is to the inside. Before I plan my menu or my decorations, I meander around my garden spaces, investigating what flowers will be blooming during the fete and what fruits and vegetables will be ready for harvesting. I want to know what scents, textures, lighting, and colors will be on display on that particular day or evening. Once I’ve taken a few photos and made notes, the party planning begins.

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The goal is to always serve a menu filled with fresh, homegrown ingredients that honor the colors of the rainbow. Whatever is ripe in my garden at the moment will star in the meal. If I didn’t grow it, I’ll purchase what’s in season from a local fruit stand or Farmer’s Market.  Tomatoes, beets, arugula, carrots, peppers, eggplant, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, tangerines, apricots, cherries, apples, and eggs are a few of my normal staples that will inspire not only the carte du jour, but my tablecloths, floral arrangements, and tableware. 

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If it’s a pool party, sturdy yet pretty shimmery plastic ware is essential as bringing glass near a swimming area is a major no-no. Making sure the lounge chairs have fluffy beach towels, the fountains are spouting or gurgling, and the planters are filled with colorful combinations of annuals are part of designing an inviting setting that encourages the guests to grab a drink, relax, and inhale the fresh air. 

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For a picnic on the lawn, experiment with an edible arrangement of herbs that can flavor the picnic fare served on paper plates. Basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, lovage, calendula, and nasturtium are starters. Setting up a game of croquet offers a sense of play and recreation.

patio table-umbrella-palms.jpghttps://www.CynthiaBrian.com

For a more formal party, covering chairs with a gauzy material and fashioning a more extravagant centerpiece with roses or peonies adds elegance to the occasion. Besides serving wine, beer, or other beverages consider crafting an original cocktail to get the festivities rolling.

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Here’s a refreshing summer garden cocktail that I concocted for a girlfriend’s birthday that is both luscious and appealing. Measure according to your liking.

Summer Garden Cocktail (or Mocktail)

  • ϖ Muddle together watermelon and mint leaves. 
  • ϖ Add the juice of Meyer lemons and limes. 
  • ϖ Stir in a spoonful of honey. 
  • ϖ Pour into a pitcher with equal parts sparkling water and ginger ale. 
  • ϖ Add tequila or your favorite alcohol. (Eliminate the alcohol for a mocktail)
  • ϖ Stir and pour over crushed ice into glasses rimmed with salt.
  • ϖ Garnish with a spring of mint and piece of melon.Special patio party coctail.jpg

Don’t forget the kids! Make mocktails. When the three or four generations of our extended family gather, the little ones get excited shouting “picnic party, picnic party”.  We’ll paint faces, run around blowing bubbles, climb through nylon tunnels, splash in the pool, and dance to silly songs. A big mat or cloth is spread on the grass or the deck with platters of finger foods. The kids happily dive in for the feast. 

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String lights, candles in jars, patio heaters, and your favorite tunes all add to the comfort and contentment. Nothing is ever perfect. There will be spills, breaks, trampled flowers, bug bites, and burnt barbecue.  But that’s the splendor and unpredictability of partying in the garden.  As Erasmus said, “No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly.” 

Enjoy the dazzling days and easy evenings of summer with a picnic or pool party. Kick- off your shoes, slather on the sunscreen, don your sunglasses, and chill out. Summer is a time to slow down to appreciate being outside surrounded by nature. 

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for August

STAY hydrated. Drink lots of water, don’t do garden chores in the extreme heat, and keep sports drinks on hand.

BE fire safe. Read how to landscape your garden to be more fire-resistant.  https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2019/05/21/firescaping-for-survival/

STAKE gladiolus as they tend to be top-heavy and fall over.

gladiolus.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1311/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Prep-a-picnic-or-pool-party.html

DEADHEAD roses and other perennials to keep the blooms coming

CLEAN pruning shears with alcohol after each use.

CONTINUE weeding. Make sure to cut any dry, tall grass.

HARVEST fruit and vegetables in the morning for best flavor and nutrition. A few of the fruits and vegetables that are currently ripe are plums, peaches, apples, melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, beans, corn, carrots, and zucchini.

PICK up any fruit that has fallen on the ground to prevent rodents, raccoons, turkeys, and other critters from invading your garden.

ENCOURAGE herb growth by pinching the tips. Use the cuttings in your recipes.

MULCH your garden to retain moisture and keep roots cool. Do not use gorilla hair as it is highly flammable. Keep all mulches moist.

SOW seeds of brassicas including cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi for an autumn harvest.

PLAN now for autumn planting.

WATER plantings in containers daily if needed. The heat dries out pots quickly.

ORDER spring-flowering bulbs from catalogs including tulips, Dutch iris, daffodils, woodland hyacinths, and whatever else grabs your attention.

PLAN a picnic party. Re-live your summer camp frolics. Casual or upscale, the fun begins outdoors.

paella on the outdoor grill.jpg

Read more and view photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1311/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Prep-a-picnic-or-pool-party.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing! 

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. 

Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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A Be the Star You Are! Summer By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
A Be the Star You Are! Summer By Cynthia Brian

July 2017 Newsletter for BTSYA

Miracle Moment®
In less time than it takes to tell what a tough day you’ve had, you could be relaxing already.
~Source unknown

A Message From Our Founder, Cynthia Brian

Summertime and the living is easy or perhaps easier, at least that’s what the songs tell us. Kids are out of school, families enjoy vacations, barbecues, concerts, and cookouts. Interestingly for many of the volunteers of Be the Star You Are!®, we are busier than usual reading books, writing reviews, planning radio broadcasts, and working on new book projects. Since spring, eleven new teen book reviewers have joined our STAR Book Review Team and our Book Review Coordinator, Maria Wong is posting new reviews daily. Read reviews at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html.

Chelsea Pelchat, our Teen Event Coordinator has planned a pop-up orchestra recital for Saturday, July 15th at 2:30pm at Aegis Living in Moraga, California with our musician volunteers. More info at http://www.bethestaryouare.org/events .Elizabeth Aquilar, our Newsletter Director, continues to assemble this monthly circular in between her exciting travels. Read about her latest adventure here.
I am busy proofing the final publishers copy of my new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, with pre-orders available now at http://www.cynthiabrian.com/books. 25% of the proceeds from the book will benefit BTSYA. Our most exciting news is our work on the third book in the Be the Star You Are!® series, Be the Star You Are!® for Millennials, with extraordinarily poignant chapters from 30+ BTSYA volunteers, supporters, and radio personalities. 100% of all proceeds will be directly donated to BTSYA to continue our uplifting, life-enhancing literacy and positive media message programs. This is a gift of love is keeping me very occupied with writing, editing, proofing, and communicating with our talented contributors. In 2018 we will base the themes of our weekly radio broadcasts on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® and Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio to a specific chapter in the book, inviting authors and experts with complementary ideas. It is going to be a spectacular season and the book is going to be a fabulous read.


We will again have a booth at the Pear and Wine Festival in September and are seeking sponsors. Thinking ahead to our 20th anniversary in 2019, we are in search of a talented event coordinator to help us celebrate. If that person is you, please email me at Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org.
Enjoy summer. Stay cool! (And I have a few easy tips for you to do just that listed below!)Swim, play, spend time with family and friends, and take it a bit easier. You deserve a break and if you can’t have a week long holiday, try Karen Kitchel’s 6 Minute Vacation below.
Whatever you do, make time to make a difference in the life of someone else. Everyone counts.
With gratitude and joy for your support,
Cynthia Brian
Founder/Executive Director
Be the Star You Are!®
PO Box 422
Moraga, Ca. 94556
925-377-STAR
www.BetheStarYouAre.org
www.BTSYA.org
Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org


TIPS ON STAYING COOL THIS SUMMER
1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine when it’s hot as they cause dehydration.
2. Use sunscreen every day and reapply as directed.
3. Wear a hat and cotton clothing.
4. Avoid sports and high-energy activities when it’s really hot, especially mid day.
5. Take a dip in the pool, wade in a river, swim in a lake, play in the sea, or just take a cool shower.
6. Relax in the shade. A cold cloth around your neck helps.
7. Keep ceiling fans on, close draperies and window treatments during the heat of the day. Open windows for cross ventilation when the temperatures are lower at night.
8. Make sure your pets have plenty of water.
Enjoy this wonderful season of the year when you can be outside in nature.

6 MINUTE VACATIONS
By Karen Kitchel
Summer disappears so quickly that we all need to pack in as much vacation time as possible.  While trips to faraway places are nice, our bodies and souls can use fun breaks far more often than we can pack a suitcase.
Consider taking a six-minute vacation every day this summer.  Begin by making a list of the little things you enjoy doing like eating an ice cream cone, picking some wildflowers,  listening to your two favorite songs,  looking at vacation photos from years ago,  or closing your eyes and imagining you are in Bora Bora enchanted by the turquoise water.  Then take that list and schedule six minute vacations on your calendar for every day that’s left of summer.
You just might find these six minutes every day are your favorite part of summer.
Karen Kitchel is passionate about helping those in need. As President of the Cheerful Givers nonprofit organization, she helped to bring birthday gifts to more than one million less fortunate children. Prior to that, she created a corporate university at BI Worldwide.  Currently she serves meals to the homeless, is a job coach, teacher, writer and mentor. She can be reached at karenkitchel@comcast.net.

Somewhat Sleepless in Seattle
An Update from Liz Aguilar

Leaving home again to start up research wasn’t easy after having a month of vacation at home. While I loved the idea of traveling again, I had gotten quite comfortable enjoying home, family, and friends. But the longer I explore Seattle, the more I love it more each day. I’m extremely grateful and lucky to have already made wonderful friends and to have supportive mentors working with me in lab on my research. For those of you who may not know me as well, I’m majoring in biochemistry and minoring in computer science with the hopes of someday pursuing graduate school to study computational biology. With my work, I’d love to be able to help make advances in medicine by understanding the underlying cause of genetic diseases. The University of Washington in Seattle has so far provided me with a wonderful environment to personally grow and learn from other peers who are also motivated to make a difference through their work.

While research has been enjoyable, exploring the city has given me a greater appreciation for the culture and the beautiful pacific northwest. Last weekend, I went on a seven mile hike with several friends in the Bandera Mountains, which are just an hour away from the city. While the hike was long and challenging, the gorgeous views and sights were absolutely stunning. It truly reminded me of when I was back in Switzerland!

I hope to continue making these memorable experiences and I hope to also share them with you. I hope you are all doing well and that you also manage to take time for yourself to enjoy this wonderful summer!

p.s – Seattle hasn’t had a drop of rain since late May!

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