Debit Card Canundrum, Part III

November 25, 2015

Please read the two previous blogs for backstory.

As Nora and I neared the location of our son’s band competition, I remembered that at competitions hot dogs were $8 and drinks were $4 and chips were $3 and candy bars were $2. Buying overpriced concessions is a pet peeve of mine. So I pulled into Sonic and bought my darling a kid’s meal and paid with a credit card. GAH! I hate that! But the whole meal plus the toy was cheaper than half a hot dog!

My husband was about ten minutes behind our ETA and the plan was to meet him at the gate. Little did I know at that time how much “at the gate” we would be.

After waiting in line to buy our $10 each tickets to listen to our son blow on his trombone for exactly 12 minutes, I discovered to my horror that they only accepted cash. What type of sketchy band competition only takes cash? I was still in debit card purgatory, so I planned on paying with the credit card, my newly useful tool.

Digging through my purse only produced $3 cash, counting coinage. Rick walked up at that point and I asked him how much cash he was carrying…. $12. Great. So one of us could go in for the 12 minute performance… or we could all stand in a unified line of solidarity at the chain link fence, after driving for an hour and eating cheap junk food, and watch the band from the end zone.

As we stood there with our fingers clinging to the fence looking like prisoners who want out (or in!), Nora suggested, “Well, since we saved $30 right now, can we go to the movies?” Always the opportunist!

The Peanuts movie was quite good, btw.


Debit Card Canundrum, Part II

November 24, 2015

The day after I ordered my replacement debit card (see previous blog), my handsome husband, Rickey, informed me that his debit card was no longer working and that my card for our joint account wouldn’t be working either. This did not make me have visions of grandeur, as I only have two debit cards. After I relayed my tall tale of missing the security questions on the phone, Rick went straight into the bank, avoiding all that nonsense.

The next day, at Albertson’s I attempted to pay for my $70 of groceries with the card from our joint account. As suspected, it was denied. I had to use the emergency credit card. We do not use credit except for renting hotel rooms, or buying plane tickets….. groceries were a no no. But what was I to do?

Later that day our son Keeve had a state band competition on the far side of town more than an hour away. Rick was going to meet us part way and we would drive together. However, my van’s orange gas tank light was glaring brightly at me as I pulled out of the driveway. I decided to stop at Costco on the way to fill ‘er up. At Costco, I slid my credit card into the slot and the machine asked for my pin number. WHAT? I don’t have a pin number for my credit card! (My husband later informed me that Costco doesn’t take credit cards. How’s a girl to know?)

Getting back in the van, I clicked the little overhead button that tells exactly how many miles until we are out of gas…. 15. Good. After a brief calculation, I assumed our rendezvous was planned less than 15 miles away.

Poor 12-year-old Nora in the back seat was on the verge of a nervous breakdown watching the miles count down. She was imagining us living under an overpass in cardboard boxes, I’m sure. Every time it changed, she would read it aloud, but only in a whisper… ten…. eight…. six… two. And then she read no more after zero showed up and stayed. Holy mother of sweet baby Jesus, homelessness was immanent!

The next exit was only one shy of our meeting place, AND promised a gas station… luring me in like a fly to fly paper. After dialing Rick’s cell number, I explained that we were out of gas and he would need to ride one mile north on his white steed and save the fair maiden and the Colombian princess.

Unfortunately, he lamented that he was delayed and was more than 45 minutes away on the far side of town. Not quite crying, I whimpered about both debit cards not working and I didn’t know my pin number to my credit card. “Go inside the gas station and pay with your credit card!” he spat out. Never in my life have I gone inside a gas station to pay for gas. But now I have and we were happily on our much relieved way. Nora was breathing again and elated that we could drive for 356 miles before heart palpitations returned. She did ask how many miles away the band competition was!

I dialed up the bank again, thinking that I could now answer the stupid security questions, and get my new card ordered for the joint account. The kind lady informed me that my card was indeed open. I clarified through gritted teeth that I was forced to put $70 worth of groceries on a credit card because my debit card was indeed declined. Her response was to blame Albertson’s. I laughed in her ear, hung up and assumed I needed to go into the bank once more. Am I in debit card purgatory????

Please stay tuned for the Cebit Card Conundraum, Part III.

Debit Card Canundrum, Part I

November 23, 2015

At the Dollar Store I ran my debit card through the little machine and it was declined. There were sufficient funds in my account… by ten times at least, so I assumed it was the Dollar Store processing machine. They probably bought the machine at the 99 Cent Store.

Later that day I tried my debit card in a REAL store, Michael’s Craft Store, a legitimate establishment, and it was again denied. Something was up.

I called my bank and was told that my debit card had been closed. Not the account, just the card I use to access the account. My replacement debit card with the newfangled chip had been mailed to me in early September. The same time period when our mail was temporarily detouring to Oklahoma for three weeks… thanks to our married daughter changing her mailing address. I explained that I did not receive my new card. Fix it, please.

The kind man had to make sure that my new missing card had not been activated…. it had not. Thank goodness. So he closed that card and proceeded to open a third card that I could actually use. However, I had to answer some security questions. No prob, slob. I know my mother’s maiden name and the street I grew up on and my first pet’s name and my high school mascot. Easy peasey.

The first question was “When did you open this account?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

“Ma’am, you have to answer the question or I can’t open a new card for you. Here are your multiple choice answers…. 2011, 2008, 2009, 2006.”

I let him know that multiple choice wouldn’t help me. I thought hard and counted back…. and guessed. Wrong.

Next question, “Were you ever employed at one of these businesses?” He named three businesses that I had never heard of, and then one where my husband used to work over 15 years ago.

“Sir, this is my personal account, in my name only. My husband used to work at choice D, but I have never worked at any of those places. So I choose E, none of the above.” Wrong.

“Sir, how many questions can I get wrong and still get a card?” He wasn’t sure, but kept going.

“What was the name of the high school you attended?” BAM! I got one right without hesitation!

“Sorry, ma’am, you have missed too many and you need to go into a bank and prove your identity.” But I got that one right. Why weren’t the questions stopped at two wrong???

I assumed security questions were to keep strangers out of my account. Apparently, they are to keep everyone out, including me.

So my busy day ended with me screeching my tires into the bank parking lot four minutes before it closed so I could prove who I am and get a card to use… although it had to be mailed to me in five business days.

Please stay tuned for parts II and III and the Debit Card Conundrum.

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

October 16, 2015

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On my kitchen counter sits this darling lime green ceramic tray that holds treasures reminding me of the family and friendships I have been blessed with over the years. Yes, it looks like dollar store junk to you, but NOT to me. These are precious gems (literally in two cases) given to me over the past twelve years… and only the prized gifts land in the lime dish!

First, the green tray. It wasn’t actually a gift because I bought it. BUT, it was purchased in Prescott when I was on a retreat with my besties, a time I treasure twice a year with dear friends with whom I bare my soul and they love me anyway.

Left to right: the cobalt blue square glass vase. This was not a gift either because I bought it. (Maybe I should have gone right to left!) My mother has collected little cobalt vases ever since the 80s when we had a bicentennial couch (complete with soldiers, cannons and American flags with only 13 stars!) and red shag carpet with plaid wallpaper in royal blue and red. It sounds ghastly, or nauseatingly tacky, but back then it was cool! So when I spied this little vase at a second hand store, it jumped into my hands and happily traveled home with me to remind me of my mother.

In front of the vase is a chunk of a geode with purple amethyst chunks proudly displaying their beauty. This was purchased for me by my husband in a touristy junk shop near Carlsbad Caverns on a family vacation. You may think, “It’s just a dumb hunk of rock.” Au contraire, Little Bear. It reminds me of one of my favorite memories of teaching my kids about geodes when studying caves. One of my little sons kept mistakenly calling it a gonad… and I didn’t bother correcting him because I thought it was inappropriately HILARIOUS!

Standing proudly in the back with his hands in a prayerful position is my Sumerian man that was handmade by my eldest daughter, Larisa, years ago when we were studying Ancient History. The exact assignment has slipped my mind, but I remember being amazed at how little this statue was and how intricately it was crafted. He proudly guards the turtles and the gems in his own little bald way.

Let me explain the turtle collection. For over 15 years I have been in a group of girlfriends who assigned a collection to each other and gifts were given every birthday following your specific item. Mine is turtles. Do I like turtles? Not necessarily, but some have grown on me.

In front of Mr. Sumeria in a cocoa colored carved wooden turtle that my younger son, Keeve, picked out for me when he was on a mission trip to Nicaragua. How thoughtful!

Next is a mini heart shaped brass frame with a picture of me and my hubby when were were young and dumb and drove across Canada and back again. The photo was snapped in Nova Scotia with the sea wind blowing in our hair. Happy times!

In front of the frame is a tiny, navy ceramic heart-shaped bowl that I bought in Cave Creek when two of my dear Canadian friends, Shelley and Terry Mae, were down visiting me for the first time since I left Canada 19 years ago! That was a week full of laughter with three mothers of the brides and grooms!

The miniature silver key is engraved with the word HOPE! It is a reminder from a sweet friend in Washington, Sherry, who sent it to me as encouragement. It reminds me that my HOPE is in the Lord!

Tallest of the reptiles is the bug-eyed turtle in the back. He recently joined the ranks on my last birthday, a gift from my friend of 18 years, Suzi. We have shared many memories together over the years… laughing and crying together as only bosom friends do.

Next up we have a polished slice of a brown agate lying there in silence. This was a souvenir from our three month “field trip” to 17 National Parks. Endearing memories flood back of bear calls, sliding down icy paths, hugging the largest trees in the world, running in meadows at 12,000 feet in elevation, and looking at EVERY ONE of the 2,427 types of barbed wire.

Both the brown turtle with the green spots and the mini green ceramic turtle standing at the front edge of the tray were gifts from my friend, Jill. She didn’t limit her turtle gifting merely to my birthday, she picked them up all year long wherever she spied them for my turtle villa.

An unlikely contribution to my lime dish is the carved blue and white penguin standing thoughtfully amid the turtles. She originated in Chile, a much loved gift from my niece, Madison.

Arriving from the Mexican Riviera is the dark green turtle with the bobbing head. This pequeña tortuga was purchased by my husband in the port of Zihuatanejo on our family cruise for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. One of my favorite trips of ALL TIME!

Finishing up the role call is the royal blue glass heart that arrived in a little package from Lahaina, Maui where my sister lives. She knows I love this color of the ocean and she is always close to my heart.

They are not brown paper packages tied up with string, but they are a few of my favorite things.

What are you holding onto for the memories?

Just Another Bump in the Road

October 14, 2015

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I have been noticeably missing from My Sister’s Jar for two months….well, at least I noticed I was missing. We have had another bump in the ever bumpy road of our lives, but we carry on, get back in the driver’s seat and plead for God’s help once again.

It was May when our little Colombian princess was tested at a reading specialist and several (meaning more than 5!) different learning differences were detected. This was an AHA! moment for me as well as a WELL- DUH! moment mixed together. I assumed some of the difficulties were because Nora has only been speaking English for four years. This didn’t seem to apply at all once the road blocks to learning were identified.

I believe I have mentioned on here before some of my frustration teaching my own children who can’t seem to remember what I’ve taught them, and don’t really care that they can’t remember, and just want to go outside and look at clouds and dig in the dirt. I handed over Nora’s math teaching to her two older brothers for several months at the suggestion of our principal, my husband. It saved me from the desire to bang my head on the kitchen table when there was no recall of ANYTHING she could do yesterday.The boys didn’t seem to mind re-teaching carrying, borrowing, multiplying with zeroes over and over and over and over and over again. I did mind. It is a weakness of mine, as a homeschool mom, to want my children to learn and retain and move ahead, especially in phonics, reading and math.

With Austin, now 19, he was shown the letter F for 63 straight days of my ever-loving-homeschool-teaching-journey. He finally read the blinkin’ English language when he was NINE. That’s almost TEN. You know, three years before being a teenager. There weren’t any learning differences. He was just a late reader. (Insert mother justification….) He designed and installed our backyard sprinkler and drip system when he was also nine. He’s a smart kid. I kept the faith that God would touch the brain inside that hard, blonde head… and He did! Thank you, Jesus. It still brings me to tears when I relay the story of the first time in his life when Aus read… anything…it was a sign at Sequoia National Park, “Do not feed the deer!”

Back to the Colombian princess. When I heard the phrase “auditory processing” I wasn’t sure what it meant, so of course I googled it. Lo and behold, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, and good golly why didn’t I remember this… a website popped up of a lady WHOM I KNOW!  Oh yeah, she teaches on learning differences. She gave me great suggestions ten years ago when I was trying to get Austin to read C-A-T without the far-and-away look in his big blue eyes. Here is what I discovered: MAGIC! There were 16 symptoms listed for people who have learning differences in the area of auditory processing. Nora has all 16! WHAT? (I pride myself of being an overachiever too!)

Nora is attending reading classes with a specialist who understands left brain/right brain connections that need to be established. The “reading class” consists of physical activities outside to help cross the mid-line of the brain. School has taken a decidedly different look this year, with WAY more focus on my part, which has introduced me to a new level of exhausted. From 9:00 p.m. to midnight was MY time to get my work done. Now I’m dragging through dinner and looking at the clock longingly at 7:30 p.m. without the energy to get anything done. But God knows what He is doing. None of Nora’s challenges were made apparent until Austin was graduated from high school. The Lord knows what we can handle and what would throw us head over heels into the loony bin, and obviously teaching Austin and Nora (the new way) together was beyond my capabilities. And I am thankful we learned about all this when we did!

So as I start each new day, as a homeschool mom, around 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., I remind God that these are really His kids, and I need His help once again to leave my bedroom and teach them how to learn, how to love God and how to succeed in life! I could not do this on my own! And that’s a fact, Jack!

Friends tell Friends!

August 8, 2015

Redoing a room in the house brings me joy. Painting new fresh colors on dirty walls brings me joy. Finding innovative ideas to use in my house brings me joy. Painting baseboards does not bring me joy…… until today.

My friend, Beth, came over and told me, as only a friend could, that my baseboards need to be painted. I rolled my eyes at her. Seriously. You think I didn’t know that? I HATE, loathe, dislike strongly, abhor and detest painting baseboards. But she made it sound like no big deal. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOU CRAZY WOMAN?

Beth told me that I just need to go buy one of those long blades to push down between the carpet and baseboard and slap the paint on…. it’s EASY.  She said “EASY” in the same sentence with “Paint” and “Baseboard.” I rolled my eyeballs for a second time. How come I’ve never heard of such a thing if it is so easy?

The next day, I went to Lowe’s. Lo and behold, there was a selection of barrier blades right next to the paint section where I have picked out paint colors for ten years. TEN YEARS.

painting blade huge

There were GARGANTUAN blades, but my arms aren’t even long enough to paint the whole length, and I have really long arms.  So we got the next size down.

painting blade

This is the most ingenious tool in the painting world (besides the little thingamajig that holds down the spray paint nozzle so your hand doesn’t cramp). It was SO EASY! (Just like Beth reported!) And I did the whole loft full of baseboards in 15 minutes. I’m not lying. This is straight up black plastic glory on a stick. Get a load of my beautiful baseboards.

painted baseboard

If you are my friend and you knew about this useful tool that would bring me joy and you didn’t tell me… don’t let me know now or you will be crossed off my Christmas card list for all eternity.  This is the kind of information that friends tell friends. Like my friend, Beth….. I wonder how long she has known about this??????

Anyway, for $12, you too can live a life of joy with brand-spanik’-newly-painted baseboards. Really, it’s easy.

If You Give a Homeschooler a Computer…….

August 7, 2015

We are doing school a bit differently this year, and we got Nora, our 12-year-old Colombian princess, her own computer for her work. She was SOOOOO excited! Like she’s a big kid now, or something. The other kids never got their own computers! FINALLY! Something that she was FIRST for! Because in her world “that last shall be worst!”

Okay, so a new computer means that she needs a desk to work on, because this mama ain’t sharing. I am the sharing type, but not work space at a computer desk. I do have my limits. Up in the loft, that is only used for book storage and sewing, there sits a perfectly good desk that was holding junk that never found its true home. I decided THAT could be Nora’s desk. But then, I need a desk in the loft too, to work along side her [so I don’t lose my ever-lovin’-mind while she takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to sound out moss-quit-toe (mosquito) and mett-hodd (method) repeatedly incorrectly while my eyeballs cramp from trying not to roll into my brain.] I love that kid!

My son has a desk in his room that matches Nora’s new desk. They should be twinsie desks in the loft, I decide. One quick trip on Swip-Swap (a facebook garage sale group) and I find a new IKEA desk for my son for $10. Perfect. An hour later there is a blonde desk sitting in my dining room. BAM. (Too many things have to move before it can go up the stairs.)

Then I realize I must put away all the fairy garden paraphernalia from Nora’s birthday party that is on her new desk, but the craft closet door is dragging across items hanging out of their designated boxes. I must organize the craft closet FIRST.

Then I notice the horizontal blinds have somehow been missed on the spring cleaning list …. possibly for the past six years. That is sadly not an exaggeration. Sorry, Mom. Don’t judge me. My kids are fed and one chicken is still alive. And the windows in the loft…. have they ever been washed on the outside? We’ve lived here for 10 years. So the windows and blinds are all sparkly and shining and clean now. DOUBLE BAM!

But as I washed the blinds (and had to rinse the rag after only four slats each time….ewwwww) I noticed the walls are sorely in need of paint. They WERE white……. ten years ago. So I need to paint the walls before we set up the desk for the computer.

There was a day-bed in the loft…. it got posted on Swip-Swap and left my house within 24 hours. CASH in my hand for wall paint! But with the day-bed missing, we need something cozy to sit on. Back on Swip-Swap I find a red loveseat and within 24 hours it is sitting in my living room next to the blonde IKEA desk…. with cash to spare STILL! (Does anyone else hear angels singing or is it just me?)

Then I notice the drab, tired-looking tan/pinkish color of my curriculum bookshelf and remember the can of darling light turquoise mis-matched $9 can of paint in the garage. A homeschool-room-vision-of-lovliness is materializing in my head. An oasis of higher learning. (“Higher” = upstairs.)

After 27 hours on Pinterest, (just KIDDING!)(kinda) I found homeschool rooms to die for. Seriously… death by darlingness. So adorable… makes me WANT to teach my kids for HOURS if I could just sit in THOSE rooms. The vision is ALIVE!

Turns out my red loveseat is really a brick-rust color. Shoot. Red and turquoise are so cute together. But after a redeeming trip to JoAnn’s Fabrics (my mother ship) all is well and curtains and pillows will now tie together the rust mini-sofa and the soon-to-be-painted light sea-mist turquoise shelf in the loft that will be painted off-white tomorrow.

turq n rust fabric

Tomorrow is homeschool day #5. We are SOOOOO close to setting up the computer!

Another Teenage Son Laundry Tale of Woe

August 4, 2015

Last night it was 11:45 when I was putting the dog in her kennel in the laundry room, and I noticed the washer was full of my eldest son’s clothes….. that would be smelly by morning if they weren’t transferred to the dryer. So being the nice mom that I am, I threw them all in the dryer, added a few bounce sheets (it is my eldest son after all) and pushed the magic button for him. (Mother-of-the-Year award coming my way… oh yeah.)

This is my industrious son who is up before dawn working his landscaping business. The son I hardly ever see any more. And a few things came to mind that I’ve been meaning to ask him…. but like I said, I hardly ever see him. So I wrote this note and stuck it on the bathroom mirror at midnight. (Why use a whole piece of paper when there are 7/8 pieces available?)

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In case you can’t read it, I asked him to put the phone charger back in my van, return the electric razor from his friend’s house so I can cut his dad’s hair and to get his clothes out of the dryer.  BAM!

Think you can hide from your mother by leaving the house before she opens her eyeballs!?!?  Wrong again, young Skywalker.

My hardworking son returned from work at noon today and started pulling his clothes out of the dryer. (Good!) Then he proceeded to take three pair of very-wrinkled-but-clean-pants fresh from the dryer to the backyard. I followed along at a distance because I never know what this kid is up to. With the three pair of clean pants thrown on the dirty patio, he turned on the hose and blasted them.

First off, I never realized he actually cared if his clothes were wrinkled. Huh! Second, he picked up the sopping pile of now-dirty-again-pants and acted like he was going to walk through my kitchen with them dripping filthy water on my tile floor. He did it to get a rise out of me and I simply stood and stared at Captain Funny Pants. We both knew he wouldn’t do it because then I would make him mop the floor. Ain’t happnin.

And who would think of hosing your clean pants on the dust-blown patio???  We ain’t po folk! We have sinks in various locations throughout the house that are reasonably clean. AND the washer has a spin cycle…….. but I digress.

He squeezed and rolled and wrung out the pants to a level of wetness that was still too soggy in my opinion, and headed back to the laundry room. He knew enough to turn the heat up on the dryer, but he set the timer to 20 minutes. I’m pretty sure the pants would be dry quicker outside today as it’s 113 degrees in Phoenix. When the timer went off, being the nice mom that I am, I added another 30 minutes to ensure dry britches.

Chances are really good that he will forget the second-time-dried-pants that are probably a bit dirty now…. and they will be wrinkly again in an hour. It’s just a hunch on my part, and I’m not a betting woman, but I would lay down a few Ben Franklin’s on this young buck wearing not-smooth-looking-pants for the next week.

Hey, I’m thankful he knows how to do laundry! But then again, I’m the nice mom. I taught him everything he knows!

(((Oh, the dryer buzzer just went off. He’s napping. I’m the nice mom. Headed into the laundry room.)))

Two-and-a-Half Months of Bliss (with some sorrow thrown in)

July 29, 2015

Somewhere I read once that you should spread out high-stress situations in your life. Albeit happy stress, we weren’t able to spread out AT ALL this summer. Since May 21st, our family has participated in, put-on, or partied at the following activities:

1. Graduation – that I’m in charge of…. 2,500 people in attendance.

2. Wedding – our lovely daughter, who wanted to be married in California. (It’s a tad warm in AZ in the summer.)


3. Funeral – a life-long friend’s mother. Sad.

4. Arizona Homeschool Convention – I only spoke six times. Whew.

5. The Colombian Princess’ golden birthday celebration. (12 on the 12th!)

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6. The Arizona wedding reception for our married kids, John and Larisa.

7. Two VBS’s. (Can I get an amen?)

8.  Baby Shower!  So darling!  A friend’s first grandbaby is coming!

9.  School Switch-Up. This was unexpected and a month earlier than planned. August was supposed to be my month off, but no. We will start school on August 3rd. It’s not what I planned. It’s not what I want. But we will make it work with God’s help.

If you still have a month off, enjoy it for me, please. Relax. Read some good books. Play lots of games. Sit by the sea. Paint a few watercolors. Bake some delicious cookies. Eat watermelon. And R.E.S.T. in my absence.

My Seeds Aren’t Growing

May 27, 2015

Over at a friend’s house in our neighborhood, my new BFF plucked a bunch of mint for me that was growing like stink weed in her side yard. I brought the bunch home and stuck it in a mason jar full of water on my kitchen counter. For the next several days I took clippings of the leaves and my water cup had fresh mint in it… ahhhh, so refreshing.

Then I noticed tiny black seeds had fallen off the mint leaves onto the counter. I picked one up and squeezed it to see if it broke open and smelled like mint. That baby was rock solid, but DID smell like mint. Remembering my friend’s over-prolific mint plot, I brushed the little seeds into the palm of my hand and traipsed out to the back yard to plant them. We have a pot with basil and oregano volunteers just starting to grow, so I made a little trench on the far side of the pot and planted the mint seeds. Visions of transplanting the mint to a permanent location consumed my mind, well, until the washing machine buzzed and I was called to laundry duty.

The next day, lo and behold, there were more little seeds. Then there was a repeat of the brushing and traipsing and planting and envisioning a mint farm in my own oasis.

On the third day, I noticed that all the leaves were missing from the tops of the mint sprigs… and more seeds were on the counter….. and there was a very fat, formerly very hungry caterpillar lying dead in my kitchen sink.

You guessed it. They were not seeds. They will not grow. I was planting caterpillar poop in the planter on my patio. After squeezing it and smelling it and holding it gingerly in my hand. Ewwwwwwww.  Just ewwwwwww.

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BUT, I trimmed the mint and it has rooted in the jar of water and new leaves have grown in to replace the eaten ones, so I’m still having visions of a mint harvest from lush plants grown in my own backyard…. maybe in the fall. Summer is too hot in Phoenix for anything to survive if I accidentally forget to water even for one day!

Happy gardening!


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