And That Was April

Maybe I’ve lost my mojo. I just don’t seem to be blogging like I used to. Lately, not that much has been happening. We moved into this crazy house, fixed it up, bought a bunch of furniture, the end.

The MR received a bid the other day to fix the deck. Do we want to fix the problem bits? Do we want to fix the whole thing so it’s seamless? Do we want to pull out the hot tub that’s not working and make it into a sun deck? We still have a lot of work to do on the grounds I type as the MR is out on the John Deere mowing the fields for the first time this year.

Yesterday was a spectacularly sunny day in the midst of our rainy spring. Earlier this week, I was back down in the garden planting seedlings from the FFA sale. Cocoa didn’t seem as Carrot Crazy this time. Instead she rolled in onions. There’s a reason she’s not allowed in the garden.

They’ve filled in quite a bit in the last few weeks. I’ll have to take some garden update photos. The asparagus I was worried hadn’t survived last year’s move is recovering. But what do you do with one gargantuan piece of asparagus?

Maybe all the traveling is what throws off my schedule. One of my favorite trips this year was to The Other WA. It was a first-time for me, the MR, and his folks. And while politics may drive you crazy, the history and beauty of Washington, DC is so inspiring.

Another highlight of the month was spending time with my sweet girlies and getting some Book Love at Powell’s in Portland. I was reading about Amazon opening another brick-and-mortar store in Bellevue this fall, and the MR didn’t understand the draw for them as a company. There’s just something about a bookstore with authors speaking and stacks and stacks of books just calling you to read that promotes people’s loyalty. This could make them more relateable.

During my trip to Oregon, I was also able to meet lots of Baby Girl’s friends and tour Sweet Miss’ new apartment in the city.

BG is looking for summer travel clothes, so we did a lot of shopping mostly for her but a little for me. That worked out for the house,too, since I was into Making My Own Sunshine with some lovely fake flowers.

It’s May now; I know the real ones are coming. Blossoms cover the apple trees, and my garden is calling between rain squalls. At least when it’s raining, I don’t feel guilty staying inside and knitting or crocheting. I designed these flowers for Quintessential Knits here in town, and kits will be available soon in case you’re needing a dose of sunshine.

Hope your May Day was filled with peace and joy and flowers.

And the best news of all may not have made it into the blog.  Sweet Miss is marrying The Fella, and we’re pleased as punch. God is good. Life is good. Hug someone you love. 


 

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A Look Back at March 2017

Waking to the sound of rain, sometimes I wonder if spring will ever come. With the weather we’ve been having lately, it seems to have abandoned us even though the calendar says otherwise.

Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised to see a hummingbird seated on this shepherd’s crook as I passed through our bedroom the other day. He seemed to be chiding me for not having the feeder out when he was here for a visit. Soon my friend, I will sit out in the mornings, drinking my coffee, and laughing at your antics, but I won’t do that in the pouring rain.

Me and the MR enjoyed a breath of Spring Inspiration at the Seattle Home and Garden Show. The air was heavily scented with flowers, and I can’t wait to put our outdoor seating to use.

Sadly, this is not our outdoor seating–just inspiration. But a girl can dream.

Daffodils greet us with their bright cheery heads, and hyacinths are just beginning to open. On the one sunny day last week, I spent a few hours working in the garden. All this rain can’t last forever.

Maybe it’s a good thing we’ve been stuck indoors. Otherwise, we might not have noticed that certain scent that proved Life is Messy. The sink is no longer in the entry, all the holes have been filled, textured, and painted, and the exterminator gave me hope when he told me it’s only mice—that’s still not my favorite thing.

I may not be Saving the Planet, but I’m trying to make little changes that decrease my footprint. Earth Day’s coming up; it’s time to step up my game. I don’t want to leave a mess for future generations.

 

I shared with you our banner Citrus Harvest—three whole lemons this year. That’s a 50 percent increase in yield. I was feeling pretty good till we visited the MR’s cousins down in the LA-area, and their friend had trees dripping with lemons, clementines, and grapefruit. I’m just going to be content with what I have. The whole family got to enjoy the fruits of our labors with a yummy lemon pie; it was even full-sized this year. We’re getting there.

And finally, the new carpet came. It’s beautiful, soft, squishy-between-my-toes, wonderful. If you haven’t noticed, I’m rather in love. Now I promised a photo of the guest room—the one with the biggest change going from dark emerald to a lovely morning mist. This will not disappoint.

OK, maybe you’re not oohing and aahing as much as I’d like, but let’s go back a ways. Remember when it was a catch-all sewing/storage/mess?

Like those old ads from the ’70s “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

And sometimes this monthly recap is all about the stuff that didn’t make it in the blog. Like having both girls home for a few days is awesome and exhausting. Baby Girl turned 20, and Sweet Miss is planning a big move and had an exciting job interview. Me and the MR chased the sunshine to California. While it was in the 90’s the week before we arrived, the 70’s felt warm to us. And we explored most of the beach at Santa Monica before it started raining.

All and all, life is good even with holes in the wall, rain, and mice.

How was your March?

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Inspiration

I talked to Baby Girl today. She told me that while the rest of the US is experiencing a warmer than average winter, Oregon (her home) is simply average, and Washington (my home) is colder and wetter than normal? I’ve heard tell we’ve had more snow in Seattle than in Chicago this year. The MR noted that the river is flooding when he got home from work last night, and they’ve added a stoplight to where the road washed out a few weeks ago. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Maybe that’s why our visit to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February felt so right; we are longing for spring around here, and the smell of the flowers and beauty of the scenes took me to a happy place.

I loved the profusion of bulbs in front of this fountain. The delicate daffodils stood in sharp contrast to the square stone tower.

I don’t think we really have a good spot for a fountain, and I can imagine Cocoa frolicking in any water feature we might put in—every mudpuddle she meets calls her name—but it’s fun to dream.

Speaking of dreaming, do you think this statue would keep the deer out of the orchard?

It might be a little pricey for a few plums and apple. I did see a giant metal chicken that might scare the wildlife; it scared me.

I loved the tone-on-tone colors of many of the show gardens. hey make such a great impact when grouped together. I see a fall bulb-planting session in our future. I have a love-hate relationship with tulips. They’re beautiful and graceful, but so fragile. When me and the MR bought our first house, we watched with anticipation as the tulips came up that first spring. It took weeks, but the buds finally opened, they were beautiful. The next day we had a windstorm, and they were gone. Left with leaves and stems after all that waiting, I tend to go for heartier stuff.

The theme for this year’s show was “A Taste of Spring” so most of the gardens featured seating areas. I enjoyed the diversity of past years more when they showcased their takes on romance and America. With the beautiful view from our deck, we’re not often found in the yard. We’ve talked of a fire circle and benches down near the woods, but it’s hard to beat the sunset and view from above.

Perhaps I can gather a few ideas for the deck from this modern patio with chairs and stools and all that vibrant orange. I wouldn’t mind a little girl talk seated on those pillows.

These carvings and outdoor fireplace where stunning. It feels like they grew up out of the forest.

Between the show gardens and the plant marketplace, I was amazed to discover these beautiful cakes— skill, beauty, and imagination.

Sadly, we came home with few in the way of purchases. I was looking for kiwiberry vines to climb the chain link on the tennis court. Apparently, they grow well in Russia, so I’m figuring they’ll thrive here. I found more varieties online, so I decided to place an order.

We did find plastic risers to place under the pots on the deck. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Spring is just around the corner. I hope until then these pictures bring you a little sunshine.

What says spring to you?

(By the by, today would have been my parents 55th wedding anniversary—oops I was off by one. Make that 54—if my mom were still living. Don’t worry; we’re still keeping on eye on Dad. I hear tell he just got back from a road trip around the midwest in a camaro. Miss you mom.)

 

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

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I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

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Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

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The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

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One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

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It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

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See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

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Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?

 

 

 

 

A Lovely Jumble

For many years, we celebrated the 5th of July. Yes, you read that right. The MR’s family would come into town from far-flung regions and sell fireworks. They’d be busy until the wee hours on the official holiday, so we’d gather at our house to celebrate the birth of our nation, a profitable week, and family on the fifth.

One memorable year, the MR had aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and their cousins, and in-laws, and his folks, his sister, and her family all invited for the festivities. I figured a few more wouldn’t hurt, so I invited my brother and his fiance as well. A barbecue with a dozen doesn’t stress me much, but when you start talking 40 and iff-y weather, and all that food, I get a little excited. The girls had a phrase they used when they were little:  “Mom would freak.” That about sums it up.

Everything was going great, until my brother’s ex-wife showed up an hour early for the daughter exchange. I was focused on making corn-on-the-cob for a crowd, I didn’t have time for chit-chat. Perhaps I need to be less worried about tasks and more worried about people. Before the night was over, I’d had a nice visit, set pot holders on fire, and served a great dinner.

All that brings us to poppies, huh? Yeah, I don’t know either. Along with the food, people raved about the backyard. The MR with his precision pruning, my geometric kitchen beds, and the abundance of flowers running wild. Back when we had a tiny third of an acre, we had patches of ground where we let flowers self-seed and take over. Campion, for-get-me-nots, lemon balm, crocosmia, and oriental poppies filled the yard with a riot of color. It was a lovely jumble.

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Perhaps that’s why, when we were visiting Sweet Miss and took a detour to the farmer’s market, I couldn’t pass up two poppy seed heads for a dollar. I’d sent the crowds home that 5th of July with baggies filled with seed pods. Poppies always make me smile.

I think they’ll look lovely on the slope above the tennis court with the Russian sage, crocosmia, tall grass, and weeds. The MR’s folks sent me packets of foxgloves in June. Someday, that steep slope will be a wildflower garden with a little help from me and the MR.

Any kitchen crowd horror stories? What’s your favorite self-seeder that just takes over?

(Note: I wrote this post last night and scheduled it to come out in the morning. Instead it has simply disappeared. This rewrite is slightly better, slightly worse, and slightly different. If the other one happens to be sent out before I can disable it, I’m not losing my marbles. At least not yet.)

Oh, Deer!

Yesterday as the afternoon was winding down, I ventured out to the garden to pick broccoli for dinner. Pleased with the sideshoot production and laughing at Cocoa as she raced wildly about the meadow, I wandered over to the orchard.

It’s been raining off and on all weekend, but I figured we’d had a few hours of sunshine, so I’d pick some currants for a friend who mentioned how much she liked them at a party over the weekend. The season is winding down for these tart berries, but I was still able to pick over a pint in a matter of minutes.

I moved on to the blueberries. We have three different types that each ripen at a different time. I picked a handful and figured I’d add them to the broccoli salad for this evening. Then since I was already close, I decided to see if the remaining beauty plums were ready for picking.

That’s when tragedy struck. Apparently, the deer enjoy our plums as much as we do. One slightly squished fruit dangled from a branch, but half the tree lay on the ground.

OD Broken Plum Tree

After we’ve been celebrating our first year of success with plums here, I was hit hard by this new challenge. It took the pear tree three years to begin to recover from similar treatment by the local wildlife. I worry that the raw tear will get diseased.

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Cocoa is quite happy to bark wildly from the deck when she sees deer in the meadow or muching on our landscaping. We miss our little buddy who even with foggy vision would heroicly chase away all invaders—man or beast.

After seeing the sad shape of the beauty plum, I turned to the Shiro tree which is due to ripen soon. After watching the tree set a nice show of fruit with anticipation, I sadly saw just one lonely plum dangling out of my reach. Perhaps the deer can’t stretch any higher than I can.

In anger, I picked an apple on my back up the hill. Both trees are weighted down with a heavy harvest, and I wasn’t going to let the deer get them, too. The apple was quite tart. I’ll have to keep my eye on them to make sure we enjoy their bounty.

The MR is headed to the hardware store to investigate other possible fencing solutions this week.

On a happy note, my mom’s broccoli salad recipe tasted fabulous with broccoli, blueberries, and one squished plum from our garden.

OD Broccoli Salad

Any tips on keeping out the deer? 

Grandma Donna’s Broccoli Salad

Salad:
4 cups broccoli flowerettes
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup purple onion
8-10 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonaisse
3 T sugar
1 T raspberry vinegar

Mix  salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Let the broccoli soften a little and serve. Enjoy!

Note:  My kids have grown up on this salad. They have an aversion to raisins, so we use grapes in the winter, and lately, I’ve substituted currants, blueberries, and a squished plum on occasion. I’ve never used 8 slices of bacon; two or three is plenty for the four of us. Last night I used toasted pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds, since I like them better. I usually opt ought of the onion, because it makes me burp. And if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, go down a tablespoon or too, but taste it first. The vinegar can be a little bite-y. Let’s just say, these are guidelines for a salad, that your mom probably brought to a potluck or two in the 80’s or 90’s, and we still enjoy it today.

 

 

And Then There Was June

I was at a BBQ last weekend when a friend asked how it was going with Baby Girl home from college. Well honey that’s just the start. June has been a month of changes around here. Not tear off the lower deck, reside the girls’ wing, resurface the floors, move tons of dirt and build retention walls changes.

It’s the MR takes a four-month leave of absence from work, it’s celebrate Sweet Miss’ graduation from college, it’s welcome Baby Girl home from her freshman year away at school, and enjoy two weeks of company kind of change. My day times of solitude have turned into a houseful overnight. Oh, and did I mention Cocoa doesn’t quite know how to behave like a dog now that she’s an only? She doesn’t want to hunt mice on her own; I have to show her how to fetch the ball. Sleeping alone is scary, and are you sure 2:30 isn’t an appropriate time to get up for the day?

Maybe that’s why I’ve only posted a few times this month. I was thinking about it. The blog is really my “thing”, so I try not to let it impact the family too much. I usually take pictures and write posts when the MR is at work and the girls are at school or off with friends. Suddenly, with so much family time, I need to rethink my schedule. It’s all an adjustment. And to be honest, I’m really happy not to have work men here all hours of the day and night. It’s nice to just be family.

So here’s the wrap up of our June.

We started the month of with Sweet Red Gems (more prosaically known as currants) and ended the month with a whole bevy of fruit in Garden & Orchard Updates.  We’ve eaten currants and chicken, currant shortbread bars, currant crisp, and I’m still dreaming of those currant chocolate cupcakes—I have a thing for chocolate. I do believe my family may be getting tired of currants. Don’t worry, we have apples, and plums, and blueberries to come.

Garden Plums & Valley

Me and the MR’s folks even made it to the berry farm down the road for some luscious raspberries. Lemon-currant-raspberry popsicles are on the menu. And the tiny baby beets I saved from critters were quite tasty in last night’s salad. Remember when I talked about the seed exchange and the farmer who grew giant, striped pumpkins? Well, that just might be in our future, too.

J Pumpkin Starts

While this house is open, and pretty, and comfortable inside, our eyes are constantly drawn to the outside, to the view, to the mountains, and trees, and river with its valley. That’s why I post pictures of Summer Storms, and clouds, and birds, and sunsets.

Storm Rainbow

And that’s one reason why we spend so much time out on the deck, The MR bought some new outdoor seating, and I added A Little Color, a Little Softness in the form of pillows. I know I promised a tutorial. Instead, it was so easy, I was inspired to buy more fabric for more pillows. A tutorial is in the future; hold your horses.

Outdoor Seating 2

I thought my sewing was going to be limited to pillows for a while, but no. Remember the blanket I made for Sweet Miss? (Check out A Piece of My Heart.) Her blanket looks lovely.

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Her blanket was in response to the one I made for Baby Girl when she graduated from high schoo. This blanket looks well loved. It’s supposed to symbolize a hug from home, so I guess she missed me now and then.

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I bought some more yarn and will be seaming the hexagons together this time. Sweet Miss’ blanket is mostly wool and made up of smaller motifs, so I’m hoping it’ll stand up better to use.

And finally, I shared some weeds from my yard in Simply Pretty.

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I remember when me and the MR moved into our first house. We met the older lady who lived across the street and I complimented her on the stand of pink flowers growing next to the mailboxes in her yard. She tossed my compliment aside and said she called them Myong’s weeds. She’d received some from another neighbor and they were trying to take over. We’ve had poppies scattered across the back yard in stands, crocosmia clumps spreading next to the fence, and yes, Myong’s weeds (better known as rose campion) filling in neglected corners. I saw some campion at the top of the driveway; maybe I’ll add some more beatuiful weeds to the meadow.

Early this month, we were focused on visiting Sweet Miss and celebrating her graduation along with The Fella’s.

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We really are quite proud of these two. It’s been four years of hard work, and they have a bright future ahead of them.

While Sweet Miss has been exploring Scandanavia with a high school chum, Baby Girl has been taking classes and found a summer job. The MR has lots of projects for his time off, and I’ve been working on all sorts of things on the agenda.

It’s been a good month.

How was your June?