Author Archives: Shelly

The Prunedale Years

Thirty years ago, we moved into this ‘country home’ in Prunedale (population 7400). It was a big change from suburban Fresno, where every house had air conditioning and city water/sewer. The closest beach only 10 mins away. Our first summer was so foggy! Hard to believe how cold the 4th of July could be! Autumn is when the coast gets its summer…beautiful weather until December, the winter sky was so blue it hurt my eyes. The house and grounds have gone through many changes… and so have we. Early fun projects like the garage door transformation, or the greenhouse/studio buildings, the chicken shed , or various other labors of love kept us so busy that time just fly by. We just love calling it home.

Chicks – 2023’s batch

Picked up 4 new chicks back on July 15th, and they are doing great. Two Green Queens and two Salmon Favorelles. No combs on these girls, and they will have very fluffy cheeks and feet.            Almost time to start laying!


Adventures of Jaws the turtle

Back in May 2022 we took in a large Red Slider turtle that was found wandering the neighborhood. We named it Tortuga and put it in our little pond, and it’s been happy there ever since. In May 2023 we added our grandkids’ turtle, Jaws, another red slider who had been in an aquarium for 15 years and was smaller than Tortuga at 6-8″. The two females got along, basking and swimming together and everything was great for about a month.

We had installed a hot wire around the pond to deter raccoons, and a camera to make sure that it worked. One night in June, right after I turned the camera on, it caught Jaws jumping off the rocks into the water at 9:07pm! This was very unusual as the turtles typically were underwater sleeping when the sun set. I thought that she had fallen asleep basking and went to bed late?! Then at 9:20, she did it again! Crazy turtle!  Three days later she disappeared. The camera didn’t show any intruders at night, so we think she bailed out. We searched the property daily for over a month, thinking she couldn’t get that far. Online we found that turtles frequently travel during the spring. over land in search of a mate or to lay eggs. After roaming wild for who knows how long, maybe Tortuga told Jaws that it was a big wide world out there and she should go out an adventure?! There aren’t any other ponds or streams around and we were worried sick… and assumed she was gone for good.

A week ago, my husband picked up a piece of trash on the road while walking the dog… There was a phone number on the back and Kim from Windsor Family Farm told us that she drove down our street the day before, to take her sick lamb to the veterinarian that lives past our house. She saw a turtle in the road and worried that it would get run over, took it home with her to San Martin 45 mins away.

She sent us a picture confirming that it was indeed Jaws… who had been missing for 50 days!!  We picked her up the next morning at Kim’s wonderful farm full of all of kinds of animals including this 125-year-old tortoise that came over to get pets from Kim.







Jaws is now safe and sound, back with Tortuga in the pond. We’ve added hardware cloth to the back of the step to keep her from bailing out again anytime soon. It’s so amazing that she found her way back.  What an adventure it must have been!

Courtyard – new roof

Replacing the shade cloth and wood lattice with polycarbonate panels was a great idea. It protects from the sun and keeps the oak worm frass and debris off the table and chairs.

Stained the beams while we were at it.
The eight foot panels left enough room to clean out the gutters on both buildings.The umbrella provides temporary shade for the stag horn ferns during the summer when the sun in high in the sky.

Sunsets of 2022

Looking through the photos for this year, I noticed how many were of the sky, especially sunsets. These shots are from my living room couch and Moss Landing, our closest beach. I am blessed to live on the central coast of California where the weather is mild. Summer fog keeps us cool and winter sun shines almost every day. Near the ocean, the air is clean, and the sky is incredibly blue. Looking up at the sky has always soothed my soul.

2021 Monterey County Fair Winners

Fair exhibits are one of my favorite things. Took a break from potted plants this year, and had 11 entries… floral arrangements, the usual scarecrow, wreaths, a fairy garden and more. Was honored to receive second place for the two arrangements below. The ‘Saints’ class is a vase inherited from my maternal grandmother. The ‘Seasons’ class is a vase hand painted by my paternal grandmother. I could feel them looking down on me…

First time entering in the Home Arts division, with these two decorated gourds.

Welcoming a new dog

Six months after losing our beloved Reo, and we were just starting to talk about adopting, when Lola popped up in a post on February 19th.  A year old border collie who needed a new home, she’s fitting in nicely around here.

Succulent Pumpkin – How to

Succulent pumpkins last for months when cuttings are just glued on. Tacky glue works well, although it’s not waterproof. The succulent cuttings don’t need water, so when it’s time, I just put them out in the rain, and they fall apart, so I can replant the cuttings and toss the pumpkin on the compost pile.

Start with an unblemished pumpkin. No pokes, scrapes, or soft spots that will lead to rotting. Wipe clean and circle with glue and add moss around the circle and press down. This provides a base that will help hold the succulent cuttings in place, and stop drips, while hiding the mess in the middle. It helps to let this dry for a few minutes before proceeding.

Start layering cuttings from bottom up. Dab a little glue along the stem of the sedum that hangs down, and insert under the moss and continue around in several spots, pressing down in place.

Add the rosette shaped (aeonium) cuttings. Try inserting into a spot, trimming the stem if needed to get a snug fit. Cut the stems at an angle, with glue on the bottom side, and insert into place.

Spaced evenly, the layers of cuttings help support each other. If something slips, stick it back in (with glue if needed), and cup with both hands lightly and hold for a few seconds.

Continue with remaining succulent cuttings, around in the empty spots. As it fills up, you can just put a drop of glue on the end for the last few stems.

Let dry, occasionally cupping and pressing lightly to keep everything in place.

2020 Fair winners

Exhibiting at the fair wasn’t the same this year. Entries were judged and posted online, but really missed visiting with other usual competing gardeners… and the festive fair atmosphere.


Never Fear ~~ just gopher snakes. They are welcome here, where we are plagued by the blasted rodents, that have been known to take down 5′ tall sunflowers and small trees. In the last 26 years, we have seen only a few gopher snakes… about 3 or 4 feet long and very skinny. But in the span of 2 weeks recently, our cats have drawn our attention to HUGE gopher snakes! This one climbed the fence to avoid our cats, who were on both sides. Couldn’t believe it pulled itself up on the fence, and stayed there for quite some time. We think that the first one is bigger than the second one we saw, although it was in the same area. What amazed us was that they climbed so high off the ground, over 12 feet into the trees!

Around the grounds: May


Pincushions bushes are winding down and will be pruned soon.
Lots of red and yellow succulents and carnivorous plants by the patio.
Raised bed garden with cilantro, chard and lettuces going to seed.

Spring gardening in March

Got an early start this year on zucchini by keeping them warm under some old windows hinged together. Harvest started in April.

The garden shed where seeds are started before going outside. The light helps them grow sturdy until April when the days are a little longer. These peas where planted temporarily in the new spot for thornless blackberries, and they got huge!


Easter baskets

Living baskets start with a plastic container planted with grass seed. When it grows tall enough, I surround it with moss in a basket. It makes the perfect place for your colored eggs! This year’s addition was Pincushion blooms (Leucospermum), Pussy Willows, and some dollar store items.

Forced bulbs – grass seed vs sedum

Forcing bulbs is a way to ring in an early spring or make the holidays festive. Adding grass seed to the pots has been my way to dress up the display during bloom. Timing is easy for Paperwhite Narcissus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They shoot up quickly, even in cool weather. But spring bulbs take a lot longer and sometimes the grass got too tall, especially in warmer weather.
This spring I used two types of sedum cuttings in addition to grass seed. The grass pots needed more water, and the roots competed with the bulbs.The succulents are drought tolerant and they will be something that you want to live on, like the bulbs, when planted outside.

More about forcing bulbs

Valentine’s Day Sale

Heart shaped succulent wreaths, full of cuttings will last all year long. 14 inches $50 each
Also smaller round wreaths 10″ for $35 and one larger 16″ for $60
Handmade with love, these felt keepsakes show them how much you care.  3″  $8 each
Mini pots with floral foam, moss, pepper berries and succulents.  $4 each
Wood signs: felt flowers for inside and ceramic embellished for garden  10″-18″  $20 each
Original watercolor card creations. Blank inside for your own message of love. $5 each or one free with purchase.

Succulent & flower boots

Salvaged boots that are practically brand new are too pretty to plant with dirt. The perfect solution is a plastic bag of gravel in the bottom and a plastic cup with floral foam to hold the plants. The foam holds everything in place better anyway. After the flowers have faded, the succulent cuttings will root and continue to grow if watered occasionally. 

This faux snakeskin boot needed a little more tropical look, so I added some carnivorous pitchers.

Lottie: 2 month update

No longer sequestered to the spare bathroom, Lottie is nosy and curious… and keeps up on what’s going on throughout the household 24/7. She has had all her shots and has been spayed, and is very active, healthy and happy.  Although she has access to the great outdoors, and loves to stalk birds and hunt for gophers, she stays inside more often lately, following Shelly around like a dog. She plays well with the other pets (for the most part), and likes to bathe and snuggle with them. A former TP shredder, she still loves to bite paper and cardboard. This box is super-fun! It was so cute when she discovered the fish in the TV tank.

Sharing the heating pad with Rose. Her little tummy looks like a parker house roll where they shaved her. Interesting how her feet are white like Rose, but all of her pads are black instead of pink.