April at Home

Looking back on April, we talked about windows and travel, herbs and gardening, and a little bit of this and that.

Sadly, it’s been more of a talking month than a doing month, but it is what it. That just means we have all the more to do come summer.

We started off talking about windows–to be more specific glare. My Futures So Bright you might have to wear your shades inside. That can be a problem. With heat, the glare, the fading, we decided it was time to have solar film installed on the windows in the great room.

Yea! We made a decision, but first…you name it. First, we should have the windows cleaned, and the ones with blown seals need to be replaced, and we should get a second quote on all those replacements, and maybe the second guy doesn’t want to work with the height and the slope constraints, and we get tired and just go with the first one, and then they have to come back for more measurements. Sound like nothing is ever going to happen?

Well, the glass company was here yesterday, and they’re ordering glass today, and scheduling the job mid-May. So cross your fingers; it’s all going to work out.

Meanwhile we have lovely clean windows (except for a few random doggy nose prints). The custom etching around the entry glistens in the sun.

Hawaii windows 007

And the rest of the windows are pretty spectacular, too–except for the screens. In our quest to See Clearly Now, the MR has been redoing the screens. Cocoa thinks it’s all just a big game.

Cocoa wrapped in screen

After Road Tripping to the University of Idaho, and considering her options quite seriously on the beaches of Mauai, Baby Girl has decided to attend the University of Oregon next fall.IMG_0013

Check out the beauty of Hawaii in Keeping That Aloha Spirit.

If you’re interested in some amazing appetizers give An Herbal Fete a gander. They were a hit at the First Bloom Event, and the local FFA raised over $1,000 in ticket sales and sold $4,000 in plants that first night. In the Party Aftermath I showed you all those plants just waiting to be planted.

Plants

 

Most of them have found a home, but a few still need some help. The lettuce plants are now receiving the protection I belatedly gave the peas in This Is War. The peas didn’t make it, but let’s hope the lettuce will.

The MR extra netting and new fencing in the orchard may have done the trick. The trees are starting to fruit up. I love the hope and promise those beautiful blooms capture.

Pear Blossom

We can celebrate another success; the new mattress pad gets a thumbs up for staying in place. Choices encourages you to rethink problems so that success is inevitable and maybe buy a new mattress pad.

Hope you had a fabulous April. Happy May Day!

 

 

I Can See Clearly Now

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. Remember last week, when I showed you all those lovely plants just waiting to turn my garden lush and verdant overnight?

It rained and poured off and on all Saturday. And Sunday, I had to take Baby Girl shopping to buy sparkly, princess shoes, so she could dance like Cinderella at the ball–I mean prom. (Those are my words; not hers.)

Sparkly Shoes

BG found bejeweled silver flip-flops, and we walked around the store with them until we headed over to the clearance section, and she saw these beauties. She tried them on and couldn’t stop smiling. That’s when you know it’s right.

 

She’s going to look oh-so pretty. And then I received an email that my photobook vouchers are about to expire, so I have to put together two years worth of memories in only a few short days.

Let’s just say I’ve been distracted.

So what do you do on a rainy Saturday? Well, the MR might powerwash the deck in between squalls and plant lavender on the slope, but he also came inside for the worst of it to work on screens.

You know how one project leads into another? Well months ago now, we decided to have window films installed throughout the great room. First, we needed the windows with blown seals replaced. And then, we needed the windows cleaned, because who knew how long it’d been since that was done.

Oh, and after we received our first quote for window replacement, we decided it’d be a good idea to get a second quote. And the second company said our windows and three-story set-up on a steep slope were beyond them, so we decided to go with the first company.

And in the midst, when we had the windows cleaned, we realized the screens were kind of rusty and others were in bad shape.

Cocoa BG & Screen

I thought maybe simply powerwashing them would take care of the problem; you know how the MR loves his power tools. Well, this is the result of that.

Powerwashed Screen

 

So the MR ordered screen, spline, a spliner tool, and set to work. He’s had success in the past at our last house replacing the screen door BG (when she was actually a baby) persisted in crawling through.

Tools

 

This appears to be a two-man job. An extra set of hands keeps the screen fabric taut while it’s being put into place. We also decided cutting to size before installing just causes headaches; a rough cut and trim are the way to go. Here’s the finished product.

Screen In Place

 

Sitting on the couch the other night, we looked at the old screens compared to the new. It was amazing how fuzzy the old ones made the view appear. So even the ones that haven’t been destroyed by the powerwasher and years of sun will be getting a makeover eventually.

With nine screens to replace in the great room and plenty more on the rest of the main floor, we’re not in any hurry to get these done. I’m glad the MR is so handy; we saved a pretty penny with this simple DIY project.

After our little prom shopping spree, I did manage to pot up a few herbs to clear a space on my counter. I’d been babying some basil along for over a year, and it was looking pretty sad.

Ugly Basil

Who wants to eat basil when it looks like that? For just a few dollars, I replaced it with a fresh, health ponypack from the plant sale.

Fresh Basil

 

I picked up some white pots at the craft store a couple months ago; the green pots from my herb garden were a mess of rust and flaking paint. I do believe they were less about function and more for show–not my favorite thing.

Herb Garden

 

So now we have rosemary, pineapple sage (it smells divine), basil, thyme, and oregano growing in the kitchen window. I ran out of white containers, so I grabbed a white pot from Ikea that graced the front porch last summer and filled it with herbs.

Outdoor Herbs

 

Out on the deck, it’ll still be easy to access for cooking, and should stay protected situated up against the house. When me and MR are watching the sunset, I can grab a pinch of mint or lemon thyme and just enjoy the scent. Herbs always make me happy.

What DIY projects have you been taking on? Does the scent of herbs just make you smile? Don’t you love a pretty pair of shoes?

Party Aftermath

Last night’s Bloom Party at the high school appeared to be a huge success.
The greenhouse was filled with people, tables were overflowing with food, and the purchase line stretched down the aisle.

After helping with the planning process, I’m quite interested to see how well it did financially. In the meantime, I’m exhausted. Me and the MR, and Papa Willy came home with  boxes of herbs and vegetables just waiting to be planted.

Plants

On Monday, I’ll show you our newly verdant vegetable garden and hillside; but for now, I’m going to grab a blanket and put my feet up.

Those long days knock me out.

Does your neighborhood high school have an agricultural program? What local plant sales do you support?

An Herbal Fete

You know how sometimes you’re chatting away with your daughter’s teacher, and next thing you know you’re planning a party? And the first committee meeting you skip to drive to Idaho, and the second committee meeting you can’t make because you’re flying to Hawaii?

And in the middle, you meet with the teacher, and she tasks you with finding appetizer recipes to showcase the herbs and vegetables her students have raised. So while you’re hanging out at the pool you, hop on Pinterest and find amazing pictures showcasing tasty recipes.

Then after vacation, you come home to find it is all wonderfully taken care of by the other capable ladies of the committee who may not realize you even exist since you’ve skipped all the meetings.

Funny how things work out. So instead of throwing this party for the local FFA and garden community, I thought I’d share it with you.

Let’s start with herb-infused water; I’m thinking spearmint, lemon, and blueberry would be both visually-appealing and refreshing. I have striped blue straws for that added touch of cuteness. Check out Hello Natural’s Infused Water for more ideas.

How to Make Infused Water 10 Tasty Flavor Combinations

Then as you wander among all the lovely plants, you’d come upon a display of basil and cherry tomatoes featuring Caprese Bites. We have a thing for cheese in our family, so this appetizer is a standby when the basil is getting too leggy.

Iowa Girl Eats makes these extra special with a basalmic drizzle. Any way you make them Caprese Skewers are a simple and tasty treat.

Did you know deer won’t eat sage? My sage plants are getting ginormous. So of course, these Bacon-wrapped Apricots with Sage from RealSimple have me intrigued. OK, so maybe it was the bacon that drew me in; but with fruit and herbs, they have to be healthy, right?

Bacon-Wrapped Apricots With Sage

I’m not a big fan of dill or cucumbers, but I’m a sucker for pretty.

These Cucumber Bites from Bitz N Giggles take simple ingredients and present them beautifully.

I love biscuits, but these are almost too pretty to eat.

Home is Where the Boat Is saved time by using frozen biscuits. You could even use refrigerated biscuits in a tube and spend all your time making them look beautiful. For all the tips and tricks, check out Herb Laminated Biscuits.

If you have a variety of herbs to hand, you can always make The Closet Chef’s Feta My Way.

feta_1

Or maybe you’d like to make Martha Stewart’s Roasted Carrots with Chimichurri. For our imaginary party, I’d roast baby carrots, put a dollop of sauce in the bottom of a plastic shot glass, and stand a couple carrots up in each one. If the roasted carrots were too squishy for finger-food, I’d save time and serve them raw.

Perfect Bite: Roasted Carrots with Chimichurri

I love the vibrant colors of this dish, but I’d make it just for the fun of saying “chimichurri” over and over again. It’s one of those words that grows on you.

If I was trying to be healthy, I’d serve up the Dinner Mom’s Zucchini Bruschetta.

But if I was thinking hey, it’s a party live a little, I’d just make 5 Heart Home’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds, and then I could invite you to go for walk with the dogs. Those extra calories mean nothing.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds ~ you're just 2 ingredients away from a quick and easy, delicious summer side dish! | FiveHeartHome.comParmesan Zucchini Rounds ~ you're just 2 ingredients away from a quick and easy, delicious summer side dish! | FiveHeartHome.com

I’m not a big zucchini fan, but these look yummy.

It’s not a party without something sweet, so perhaps we can end with Sweetapolita’s Layered-Chocolate, Lavender and Vanilla-Bean Panna Cotta.Layered Panna Cotta from Sweetapolita | Camille Styles

I do believe it was a successful event. Let’s toast it with Martha’s Lavender Champagne.

Lavender Champagne - Add lavender simple syrup to champagne

Or perhaps you’d prefer a Mocktail made with Garden Herbs; Lovely Greens has put together a fabulous collection. This Basil and Grapefruit Spritzer looks good enough to eat/I mean drink.

15 Mocktail Recipes made with Garden Herbs | Straight from the garden, this collection of delicious and refreshing drinks are alcohol-free alternatives to their boozier cousins #mocktail

OK, so now who’s in the mood to throw a party?

Better yet, if you’re local the FFA First In Bloom Greenhouse Party is tomorrow Thursday, April 23, from 6-8 pm. Tickets are $15 per person, or $25 per couple. Stop on by and tell them Baby Girl from the Big White House on the Hill sent you.

If you decide to make any of these recipes, I’m always available to taste test them for you.

What are you cooking up these days?

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping That Aloha Spirit

There’s something about a week in paradise that puts you in a good mood. We arrived home last week from our annual trip to Hawaii, and I’m doing my best to keep that feeling of aloha going. 

We enjoyed hiking, snorkeling, beautiful scenery, and relaxing with friends. 

   

Th MR wants to try growing these beautiful trees with their vibrant orange flowers at home. First we have to determine what they are.   

 Do you recognize these flowers?

 

I’m kind of partial to these amazing trees. I love their sinewy branches. 

  

I don’t think they’d work in our much less tropical climate. 

Well, now that we’re home, what’s next. With our bright sunshine, our thoughts once more have turned to windows. Thursday, I removed all the screens, and Friday the window cleaners came with all their tools and an extremely large extension pole.

It’s amazing just how bright and sparkly our windows look after a good cleaning–definitely a worthwhile annual expense. 

  

As Baby Girl heads back to school, the MR checks out new French doors, and I spend the next few days in a flurry of volunteer efforts, we are doing our best to keep that relaxed vacation feel.

  

When life gets busy, how do you keep that relaxed feel?

This Is War

You remember how I showed you a lovely picture of newly sprouted peas? Then I talked about slugs and slug bait, and I replanted. I added forks, but my newly sprouted peas were neatly plucked from the ground even with strategically placed forks.

Well, I’ve decided to get tough. I put together to tomato cages, lined them with chicken wire and have totally surrounded another planting of peas. With nearly 20 years of gardening experience, getting a pea crop has never been this difficult.

Cage over peas     I also added marigolds to entice the slugs away from my precious plants and onions along the perimeter to keep out varmints. These both worked well last year, plus I wound up with a ready supply of onions for months. Sets in the Ground The MR has been staging his own war. The plastic fencing around the orchard was failing, so he replaced it with metal. Last fall we noticed the birds were taking more than their fair share of the blueberries and plums, and they’d made off with all of the grapes.  So the MR set up a system of poles, wires, and netting that totally encloses the lower bushes. 

New Fence

 
 

It’s fully enclosed, easy to access, and whether you’re 5-foot something or well over 6 foot you can move around without stooping.Fence from above     The orchard is really taking off. The Apples are getting ready to bloom.Apple Blossom
 

And one pear tree is decked out in blossoms. The other is still thinking about it.  Does anyone know if Comice and Rescue pears cross-pollinate? We were assured they would. They’re all still quite young trees. I need to learn a little patience.

Pear Blossom   

Is your garden starting to take shape? Have you planted fruit trees for both beauty and function?

Choices

Sometimes your kids call you on your junk.

A couple weeks ago, I was walking through the mall with my sweet girlies when I started talking about mattress pads. We had to stop at Macy’s and buy a new, the MR rolled over at night and ripped ours out over and over again. Sweet Miss said that was a tremendous trifle, and she was surprised that after more than 20 years I still get excited about these little things.

I guess she’s been learning something in all those family psychology classes. She’s right in that it’s a silly incidental, but when you live closely with people, these things add up.

Mattress

Things like Baby Girl messing up the pillows and leaving blankets on the couch at night.

Messy CouchOr running off to school and leaving tea wrappers and the toast fixings on the counter. Can’t you see those crumbs?

Tea wrapper and toast fixings

I can be crabby and kibbitz about it as I stomp around my house. Believe me, the dogs have heard an earful or two.

But I have a choice. I can clean it up, and be happy she ate breakfast before she rushed out the door. Many nights she’s off to work or out with friends; those messy pillows are a sign that she still cares enough to spend the evening with mom and dad. 

 Simply changing my attitude wasn’t working on the bed issue, and we never did make it to Macy’s, but I had a plan. This arrived in the mail the other day.

Mattress Pad

It’s a mattress pad that’s 20 inches deep. Since our mattress is only 12 inches , I think I have this problem solved. The mattress pad will no longer rip out, I will no longer be crabby at the MR when I make the bed, I can simply be happy and think about how lucky I am to have him here with me. 

So much of life is about choice.

If an attitude doesn’t work, then change the scenario. The neighbor boy at our first house kept riding his bike over the heather bush in the corner of our yard. We asked him to stop, but he was a kid, and it was a shortcut. When we landscaped that area, we moved the giant, thorny rose bush from beside the back door to that corner. He stopped riding his bike over our yard.

Sometimes you have to work a little to help everyone find success. 

How do you handle those little quibbles? Any success stories to share?