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.)

 

The Colors of Fall

I was chatting the other day with a lady who had lived in Vermont and was missing the fall color and playing in the piles of leaves. Our leaves do tend to clump together in a sodden, mucky mess, but we do have our fair share of color.

The MR’s friend is training to get his pilot’s license and flies over the valley often. He captured this picture of our house in the midst of all the colors of fall—a view I rarely see.

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This is more of the vantage point I’m used to with leaves of gold and vibrant orange coloring our trees.

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And the view of the valley filled with color.

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The trees lining the driveway are dropping their leaves, and the MR goes out with the leaf blower to try to keep the it from turning into a mess. It’s a losing battle at best.

Soon the leaves will be gone and we’ll be left with our forest of green and a beautiful view of the river. I do love our view in every season.

Wishing you a colorful fall.

 

 

Clearing Out

I was talking to my dad last night—just checking in—when he mentioned his Kindle was having some problems. The screen would close down in the middle of reading things. I suggested checking the sleep settings. And it had stopped receiving my blog. He didn’t know how long it had been since he’d gotten one…

Well gee Dad, I haven’t really done anything lately. But, he interrupted, the MR had that guy come and remove all the brush. You know you’re in trouble when your 77-year-old father is giving you blog post ideas. Maybe I’ll take him on as my assistant and let him write a few stories.

So here’s brush cutting in honor of Papa Willy. The MR and his dad had a fellow out this summer to look at the blackberry situation; let’s just say we have a lot. The guy wanted $4,000 to $5,000 to take out our bushes. The MR decided to keep looking.

That’s when he found the Brush Wrangler, who came in with a much better price. Unfortunately, with our dry August, they couldn’t schedule any work due to fire danger. One stray spark can create a world a trouble. We were next up on the list when we headed to Oregon to move Baby Girl into her sorority house. Finally, at the end of September the Brush Wrangler tackled our berry bushes.

Now some of you may be wondering why we’d get rid of blackberries. Obviously, you’ve never had them in your backyard. They’ll take over everything in sight. The MR takes a walk to the mailboxes a few times each month with his pruners to get rid of errant boughs.

I do have a thing for blackberry crisp and blackberry jam, but in Washington State, blackberres are classified as a noxious weed. The Himalayan blackberry is a non-native species that is out of control. OK, I’ll step down from my soap box for the moment.

Anyways, I was off at my ladies’ Bible study, when the MR started sending pictures to our family’s group text. It was amazing.

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That little red machine was clearing a swath through the wilderness.

Now when I got home, I looked at the tennis court, and I still saw blackberries. What was going on? Aren’t they trying to get rid of these?

 

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Well, the MR explained that the slope was too high, too steep, and the soil too loose for them to reach the very top of the patch of bushes below the tennis court. All you have to do is wander down below it, and you’ll see the progress.

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This whole area was a mass of sticker bushes.

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It’s amazing. The tiny path he used to drive the riding lawn mower down to the meadow has become a vast thoroughfare.

After the work was down, the MR figured the Brush Wrangler had cleared about an acre of berry bushes.

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Now that the blackberries are gone, he has gained easy access (OK, maybe just easier access) to the vine maples and saplings blocking the view of the river. For the last few weeks, he’s been out cutting down trees and applying stump and brush killer to keep everything from coming back.

When I ventured down to see his progress the other day, I tried to explore the trail down to the valley floor. The former owners had roughed out a road down to the highway. I’m afraid it’s succombed to blackberries.

The workers have found a lot of things at different job sites. At one place, they’d found a barn the owners didn’t even know they had hidden among the blackberries. All they found at our house was an old fence post and some logging wire. We’re kind of boring in comparison.

Now that it’s mid-October, we’re gearing up for our first big storm of the season. It looks like rain and strong winds are headed our way. Stay safe our Northwest neighbors.

And if we have power, and water, and the dog doesn’t start barking at deer while I’m trying to sleep, I’ll have more to share on Monday. Otherwise my dad might start complaining about technical difficulties, again.

What killer weed is taking over your patch of earth?

 

 

 

Celebrating August

It’s been a pretty awesome month with family and friends and a lot of sunshine.

Celebrate

We celebrated Milestones with the girls.

Anniversary Canvas

Dealt with a proliferation of broccoli and cucumbers in Ain’t It Funny and saved some Herb-alicious goodness for the cold days of winter.

Rosemary Cubes Closeup

We did a little shopping and Super-Sized a rug, Problem Solved with a new floor lamp, and Added a Little Drama with some new nightlights.

ALD Light on Maple at Night

The MR has been busily remodeling the guest bedroom bath. I Teased You with a glimpse of tile, shared the newly glorified shower Somewhere In the Middle, and showed you Bit by Bit how it’s all coming together.

New Shower

I dreamed a little about a backyard waterfall—Just Imagine, and dreamed too of winning a Fitbit challenge against my 22-year-old. It’s just A Little Friendly Competition, but I have been getting in more steps lately. I think I’ve won one challenge in the last three weeks. I do have a few years on her and tend to go to bed before my Sweet Miss. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually lose a few pounds.

The MR has picked up the new sink/counter combo for the guest bathroom, and I do have plans to make up those new throw pillows I bought the fabric for way back in June. We’ve done a little shopping, a little planning, Baby Girl is moving back to school in a few weeks, and I have a few surprises to throw your way. September is always a good month.

How is your fall shaping up? Are you in the full back-to-school mode?

July Is Gone

I know you’ve heard that all it does is rain in Seattle, that the inhabitants are frightened when they see a yellow orb in the sky, that we have a dozen names for what most people just call rain. Well, there’s some truth to all of that, but that doesn’t cover July.

Sure summer doesn’t start till somewhere around the 8th of the month, but then we have warm, sunny days, with glorious sunshine. Mount Rainier is out in all its glory, and northwesterners are ready to play. But not this year. We’ve had a lot of gray days with just a few true summer days.

When you can’t frolic in the sun, you have a lot more time for projects. The MR, with his summer off, has been a busy guy. One Saturday, while I was working at the yarn shop, he was building the Garden Box Update. I’d love to tell you that the new addition is filled with dirt and overflowing with vegetables. We have a pumpkin doing well in the corner; we’ll wait for next year for the other.

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That same weekend, the MR took on Bambi. Remember Oh Deer when I found one of our plum trees ravaged?

OD Broken Plum Tree

He’s zip-tied 10-foot lengths of pipe from our well redo to the posts and added taller netting. Friends commented on our fortress. Yes, we are doing battle, and with the number of apples and blueberries we’ve picked this week, we just might be winning.

And now for the truly beautiful, exciting project. It’s Started; we’re on to bathroom remodel number three in this house. All the green tile is gone, Marty the plumber came and dealt with replumbing the shower, the cement board is up, and just yesterday, the MR started tiling. It’s going to be beautiful.

I’m so glad my guy does his homework. When he takes on a project, he researches the heck out of it. He’s redone the showers in every home we’ve lived in and knows a thing or two by now. That’s why he was so surprised when he removed the tile and found dry wall. The experts say, you’re tile and grout will leak, use a protective barrier. What were they thinking?

The slogan on this cement board just makes me smile.

Cement Board

Now while the MR is busy with all his stuff, what have I been doing? I’ve been enjoying the produce from our garden and the farmers market. There’s nothing like fresh ingredients to serve up Good Simple Food. Last night, it was onions and broccoli from the garden, carrots and beans from the farmer’s market, and some leftover BBQ’ed veggies sauteed together to round out burgers for dinner.

With people on vacation, I’ve been putting in extra hours at the yarn shop which leads to lots of knitting and crocheting. You can check out some of my projects On the Needles. (You really should just so you can see Baby Girl and Cocoa modeling my “shoulderette” pattern. I designed it to show off lovely collarbones and add just a layer of warm on a cool evening.)

Speaking of yarn shops, Quintessential Knits moved one block over the weekend. I’ve seen some of the lovely new yarn, and the owner says we have lots of specials and surprises coming out this month. I was rather pleased with this Viroqua Cowl I knitted as a sample.

Umpqua Cowl

And what about A Lovely Jumble of flowers on the hillside or our crazy 5th of July parties? Alas, the poppy seeds are still on my desk, but the Russian sage the MR planted last year is nearly knee-high. If we’re lucky, some day it may look like this—giant, frangrant, gorgeous, filled with bees making honey.

Russian Sage

OK, so that was eastern Washington, which is a much dryer and warmer climate, but I can dream. The MR says if it gets that big, it’ll cover up the retaining wall. Maybe mounds of Russian sage would make a pretty barrier around the orchard—deer don’t like sage you know.

Me and the MR spent a few days wine tasting in Chelan last week. Good wine, good food, nice people, and a few days away with Baby Girl in charge. It was delightful.

Me & the MR

And finally, I just have to show this picture of Sweet Miss.

B Bubbles

She’ll be 22 in just over a week. (That’s years, not months.) I shared with you our deck woes in Not Those Kind of Bubbles. The deck looks great; our deck guy, Isidro, does a great job. Now if the sun will cooperate, I’d like to spend a little time out there.

How was your July? Any big plans for August?

 

 

 

 

 

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.

J Blanket Collage

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?

 

Sweet Memories

Once upon a time, we used to celebrate the 5th of July. Yes, you read that right. The MR’s family all came into town from far-flung regions and sold fireworks. That meant, they were busy till the wee hours on the fourth, so they all congregated at our house on the fifth and celebrated the birth of our nation, a profitable week, and the joys of family all in one big shebang.

A lot of the time, me and the MR enjoyed a fairly quiet fourth, so we were prepared for the influx of people on the fifth. One memorable year, the invite list topped over 40. The MR had aunts, and uncles, and cousins, their kids, and their cousins, his mom and dad, and his sister and family on the list. I figured if I was in charge of that much food, what was a few more? So I invited my brother and his new fiance (who just happens to be one of my best friends) and called it even.

A barbecue for a dozen isn’t that big a deal; when you start talking 40, I get a little crazy. The girls and the MR used to use terms like “Mom would freak” when they were little. Forty people for dinner gets me stressed. Things were going fairly well, until my brother’s ex-wife and daughter showed up about an hour before he did. I really didn’t have a lot of time for chitchat. I needed to boil corn on the cob for 40 people. Before the night was over, I’d set pot holders on fire, but the food was great, the corn was fine, and I enjoyed visiting with a nice lady.

It was a beautiful summer day, and the hoards were gathered outside in the sunshine. All the guests made the appropriate ohhs and ahhs over my garden. The oriental poppies were a particular hit. That may have been the same year, that when I asked Baby Girl to plant her seed packet of zinnias in her plot, she planted them throughout the garden. We had three-foot-tall flowers scattered everywhere. It was a beautiful jumble.

Back to the poppies. I’d planted them in one area, and they’d spread around the yard over the years. All those kind people went home with a baggy of poppy seeds and my well wishes.

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So when we were visiting Sweet Miss at the beginning of the month and stopped by the farmer’s market, I couldn’t help myself when I saw poppy heads filled with seeds for just 50-cents a piece.

The MR says the Russian sage he planted last year is starting to take off. The lavender is doing well, and his folks sent me seed packets of foxgloves to replace those that have disappeared. I think a few poppies should round off the rugged hills nicely. It’s the beginning of a new beautiful jumble.

Do you have those areas of you yard that you let go wild? What are they filled with? Foxgloves, poppies, sage, for-get-me-nots, plain old simple weeds?