Saturday, March 31, 2007

Idolizing Irises!

Spring has sprung, and after the early heirloom white irises, these gorgeous peach ones, called Tahiti Surprise, are among the next to bloom.

Here's another heirloom bearded iris. All of my heirloom irises I inherited from my Granny. I also inherited my love for bearded irises from her.

My father almost killed out the dark purple beauty by regularly mowing over all of the rhizomes. I saved as many as I could and have been nursing them for the past several years. Now they have grown enough to bloom again.

The yellow and white, Harvest of Memories, is a wonderful little rebloomer.

The non-heirloom irises are all from Argyle Acres, which is a wonderful place to visit during the annual garden tour. If you're like me, you'll want all of them. It's so hard to choose!

All these photos were taken by my blossoming (how fitting) photog, my DD, M.J.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And Speaking of Taxes...

Sigh! The need for diligence never ends.

From Americans For Tax Relief:

Take Action: Stop the largest tax increase in American history!

While attempting to hide behind clever rhetoric, House and Senate Democrats have made their intentions clear: They do not support the extension of President Bush’s tax cuts and are in favor of the largest tax increase in history.

How much will your taxes go up if the Bush tax cuts are not extended? The average taxpayer faces a hike of $3,035 per year.

Click here for a state-by-state breakdown.

Contact your Senators and Representative immediately and tell them to pass a budget without a tax increase!

Stop the Democrat Tax Hikes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Texas Budget Reform

This important notice came in my mail today. Considering a post I made earlier on my Yahoo 360 (Gee, Look What Lowering Taxes Does), it's about time we did the same thing in Texas.


In the face of ever-expanding government growth and spending, increasing property taxes, wasteful
spending, and next to no budget transparency, it is the time for real reform and accountability to replace Texas’ tax and spend policies with strong fiscal discipline.

There are some pieces of legislation that would enact some meaningful budgetary reforms this session:

(Go to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility now! and tell your legislator to support these reforms!)

• Strong Spending Restrictions (HJR 53 or HJR 2) State: Six-year rolling average of inflation-plus-population growth, applied to all state funds; surplus funds to be used for tax relief or rebate. Local governments: Limit to a 5% maximum increase from property tax revenues, with voter approval required to bust the limit.

• Real Spending Transparency (HB 640 and HB 2560) Government expenditures should be made available in an accessible format online.

• Eliminate Taxes No Longer Needed (HB 735 and SB 294) Specific-propose taxes should not be used to supplement the state’s general revenues.

This unique series of reforms will vault Texas ahead of the other states and the federal government in providing sound fiscal stewardship of the taxpayers’ money.

We, the taxpayers of Texas, are eager to see leadership that restores our confidence in the lawmakers’ ability to govern the “checkbook issues” wisely and ethically.


Go to Texans for Fiscal Reform and tell your legislator to support these meaningful and important budgetary reforms! Your letter will be printed and hand delivered to your legislator’s office, and you will receive a confirmation that it was delivered.

It’s time to halt out-of-control growth of government. Texas’ state government spending has grown 500% since 1978 and 20% since 2003!

We deserve a government that is dedicated to spending our money wisely, honestly, and responsibly. We need a true spending limit, one that requires genuine and authentic accountability. We must know how our money is being spent. We expect honest budgets.

• Click the link above, fill it out, and it will be hand delivered to your legislator.
• Follow-up is critical. Make sure your legislator actually follows through and votes right.
• Forward this on and tell your friends and neighbors about these important budget reforms! You can learn more by visiting

By keeping taxes low, spending responsible, and accountability high, we will ensure that our state’s economy grows and prospers for the next generation.


Andrew Kerr
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
(512) 236-0201
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

Monday, March 26, 2007

Day Care Falls Short of Feminist Aspirations

From the Family Research Council:

Study on Day Care Hits Close to Home

For years, stay-at-home parents have been trivialized by feminists who wrongly believe that a mother or father's care is replaceable. However, a new study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at NIH proves the feminist ideology wrong. The most expansive research of its kind, the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development found that putting a child in day care for a year or more increases the chances that the child will become disruptive in class--a trend that persists through the sixth grade. Perhaps most telling is the fact that these tendencies were evident despite the child's sex, family income, and even the quality of the day care center in question. The news will be particularly disappointing to day care advocates who have insisted that any negative effects are entirely contingent, on the "quality" of the care. In the U.S., experts estimate that 2.3 million kids under the age of 5 are in day care, while 4.8 million are in the care of a relative or nanny, and 3.3 million are at home with their parents. Despite the large number of stay-at-home parents, the government is often lopsided in its support of families who choose out-of-the-home care for their kids. Research shows that most parents would prefer to tend for their kids themselves. If that's the case, why do government policies undercut parental choice and care? There is no substitute for the contributions that at-home parents make to the development of their children, often at financial sacrifice. In light of the obvious benefits to kids, we urge Congress to pass Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) and Rep. Lee Terry's (R-Nebr.) Parents' Tax Relief Act. Through the bill's equalized tax treatment of stay-at-home parents, families would have the freedom to care for their own children.

There is no way a day care, whether in house or in a center, can substitute for what a child needs from his own mother. In fact, the old Soviet Union used day care to take children away from their parents for early indoctrination in communism and atheism.

You can read about the Parent's Tax Relief Act at Sen. Brownback's site.

Study: Child Care, Behavior Linked

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Learn to Crochet and Knit - Keys to Success From an Easily Distracted Student

I decided to learn to crochet in college. Crazy way for a college student to spend free time? Definitely. I assure you that I was not as big a loser as it might make me sound though. One night, for some strange reason, I found myself on a creative kick. My mom had taught me to cross-stitch as a child but that wouldn't do anymore. I was ready for something new and exciting.

I ended up at Wal-mart late at night (best time to go for a college student!) browsing through the craft aisles and inevitably drawn to all the cool yarns. Ok, so what to do with them? Knitting or crocheting? At the time, knitting seemed over my head and maybe even a bit "granny-ish". Crocheting was so much... cooler. Yeah, that's it.

So for whatever reason, I picked crocheting. I envisioned super trendy afghans and throws adorning my dorm room and great gifts to impress my fiancé's parents. It was something that I could learn to do that could be useful in the future. I could decorate an apartment or house, clothe the children I'd one day have, and even give great cheap gifts to all my friends.

Good in theory, but I never finished my first project -- an afghan. What can I say? I was an easily distracted college student. And my reason for not having finished it since college? Let’s just say I'm an equally distracted adult. But despite my early failure, I did learn to crochet and, later, I even learned to knit.

Overall, there are two big things that I've taken away from my experiences in learning to crochet and knit:

First – you CAN be "self-taught" with the help of a good how-to book. There are quite a few out there. Just take a trip to any store that carries craft materials and patterns. Browse through the books to find one that is most user-friendly for you. One note -- don't be alarmed if some of the books with great instructions have patterns and pictures that take you back to the 70s or 80s. (My first how-to book had some real winners -- cheesy vests and sweaters with terrible color schemes -- but then again, 80s fashions are back aren’t they?)

Also keep an eye out for how-to kits. I started with a kit that included several crochet hooks and tools plus additional patterns -- which were much needed! Except for yarn, these kits should provide you with the basics but don’t walk away from the store yet. It's a good idea to go ahead and buy some additional crochet hooks or knitting needles since not all sizes are included in your kit. Other tools that could come in handy are: counters, markers, stitch holders, point protectors (knitting only).

Second -- it's good to have someone who can help you. This person does not have to be a full-fledged teacher, just a "consultant" -- someone you can turn to when you have questions -- because, let's face it, even the best how to knit or how to crochet book can confuse you at one time or another. In my early attempts to learn to crochet I got stuck on a particular type of stitch. No matter how many times I read the explanation I just could not make it work. It just didn't look right.

Lucky for me, I happened to be home from college on my winter break. I also happened to have what I was working on with me at a friend's house (not sure why -- again, I promise you I wasn't a loser!). Her mother had been crocheting for years and I took the opportunity to ask for her help. She was able to show me exactly what I needed to do. That set me straight and I’ve been crocheting just fine on my own ever since.

My knitting "consultant" was (and is) my mother. After I got my first knitting how-to book, I knew I'd have some questions. I found out that some friends wanted to learn to knit too. So we set up a "knitting night" and all learned from my mom. A good social hour and quite educational! If you’re able to find some people to do this with, I highly recommend it.

Knitting and crocheting are great pastimes. I'm no expert, but I have learned how to do both. There are some great resources out there for anyone else to do the same. Find yourself a good how-to book, and that "consultant" you can turn to when you get stuck, and you'll be well on your way. I never did finish that college afghan but since then I have crocheted several dish clothes, a baby blanket, a girl's sweater, and now I'm knitting another girl's sweater. If I could pull off these projects, anyone can! So go get started! Learn to crochet, learn to knit today!

Lorie Grant DeWorken left a career in advertising to become a stay-at-home mom. She's always wanted to be a writer. So now she's writing about anything she's even remotely interested in. To find out what other topics are crossing her mind along with additional resources for knitting and crocheting - including free lessons, patterns, and troubleshooting – visit

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