Embracing the Crazy

Remember last year when I told you our bushes were looking obscene? They had random branches growing out in all directions making rude gestures. (If you want to wander down memory lane, check out Trees with Attitude.)

Now, scraggly bushes may be commonplace at your house, but not at mine. The MR goes into this zen mode when he gets home from work caring for his yard. So I knew something was up when the shrubs where looking a little off.

The MR was aiming for another tier of growth on our decorative plants, and he urged me to be patient.

Well a year has gone by, and I do believe his little experiment is working. All that new growth appears to be rounding things out. I’ll have to admit; that guy of mine knows a thing or two.


The smoke bushes are responding even better—at least two out of the three are. 


Here’s hoping the next step requires a little trim.

Has your yard responded to the advent of summer?

 

Sweep & Scrub

I’ve been looking at the front porch lately thinking it needs a little help. The daphne I bought a few years ago just isn’t thriving. I need to buy some flowers or some shade plants that would add just the right punch of color.

But did I get around to it? No. And then we were having friends over for dinner, and our front porch looked like this.

We had spider webs, and bugs, and all sorts of nasty. In an effort to keep the daphne alive, I’d does it with some worm tea that overflowed all over the porch and runner. This is not warm and welcoming.

With picking up around the house, and getting things together for company, I didn’t have time to wander around looking for a plant for the front porch, so instead I grabbed my broom and swept away the dirt and dust. One of those magic erase sponges worked wonders on the plant ring and the threshold stains. A good hosing of the outdoor runner helped get rid of the worm tea.

Is is perfect? No. Is it warm and welcoming? I think so.

That's Cocoa's thumbs up ear in the photo. She likes this place, too.

I still want to do a little shopping and find some flowers for the step, but this time I think I’ll go for annuals, so when they die I won’t feel like a failure. And maybe the pillow from the little bench remake would be a better size for the chair.

Baby Girl’s painting is getting a little worn, but I can always swap it out for another one she made. And the MR has been power washing the deck this week (think of all those white railings), so maybe I can ask him to power wash the runner, too.

So many things I could do, but for now I’m happy with my sweep and scrub.

When has a little elbow grease worked wonders for you?

You can check out other plants I’ve killed in the name of a pretty front porch here and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/first-impressions/ and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/not-any-other-way/

 

 

 

 

The Flurries of January 2017

When I started this blog five years ago, I had two girls in high school busy with sports, friends, and activities. Sweet Miss was getting ready to graduate. Now the girls are in gone to school and jobs in Oregon, and the MR has started a consulting business where he can pick and choose his hours.

Suddenly, our ties to home are much fewer, and we’ve been totally taking advantage of it. Just look back at the month: On the Road AgainFirst Stop MiamiRelaxing on Turks and Caicos, and The Beauty of Zihuatanejo. The first three posts share highlights of our recent trip, and the the last shares our trip to Mexico with the girls just before Christmas.

tc-beach-loungers

Each of these places had their own beauty and charm. I promised to share a photo of the stingrays we swam with. These were fun to watch from afar after I got over my initial fear.stingray

All this traveling means, I have to plan ahead to get the blog out, so I’ve been using the “Wordless Wednesday” model here and there. I shared Our Citrus Grove and Winter Blooms recently. The tiny calamondin lime, which isn’t even a lime, but a hybrid of a mandarin orange and the kumquat, and the lemon tree make up our stunted, indoor grove. I cut up one of the limes to add to a salad—it was way too tart. The three lemons on our “tree” are ripening and will soon be part of a lemon pie. It’s our little eating hyper-local experiment.

We’ve added another bloom to the winter beauty from a plant the MR’s grandmother grew. Does anyone know what this is? The branches hang down, and the clusters of white, star-shaped flowers face down as well.

grannys-plant

The blooms are even prettier when viewed from below. Maybe I showed move the plant to a bookcase, so we can see these sweet flowers at their best.

grannys-plant-from-below

When I am home, I have time to get involved in some local groups. The Knitters and Crocheters of Duvall meet Tuesdays at Quintessential Knits, and they’ve joined up with the Duvall Bag Ladies to make sleeping mats for the homeless. I hope they add some comfort to these people’s lives.

bl-bag-close-up

And finally, I took time to Learn Something New. Brioche is a challenging knitting technique with very cool results. I hope Baby Girl is enjoying her cozy cowl. I hear snow and ice is headed towards Oregon again this week and alpaca is soft and warm.

lsn-bg-cowl

I have a few sewing projects, and we’re talking carpet again, so I may have some home-centered posts for February. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods?

Unexpected Blooms

Sometimes I wonder if this should be a travel blog rather than stories of our house. We spend so much time visiting exotic places I hardly know what it’s like to sleep in my own bed. 

In September, it was Italy and Oregon. October we managed to stay put. But we’ve made up for it in November with trips to New York City, Oregon, and Mexico.  I know you’re wondering how exotic Oregon can be, but time with our sweet girlies makes it worthwhile. 


When we were in Cabo last week, I saw this beautiful plumeria in a courtyard of a small hotel. Even with Google maps, we were lost. As my sister-in-law asked for directions, I took a few pictures. 


If only our plumeria looked like that I mused. Our first day home as I walked by our bougainvillea, I was struck by its beauty. 


I guess we do have our on little bit of paradise here. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for fun times with those I care about—even if the fish are scarce. 


I’m thankful our girls home for the holiday, and the love of family. 


And water, but that’s another story…

What are you thankful for?

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?

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.

Kim's iphone 096

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.)

May Days

I started the month of May visiting the girls down in Oregon, and we ended the month with them visiting us here over Memorial Day Weekend.

Cemetery

Baby Girl is finishing up her first year of college, and Sweet Miss is getting ready to graduate. The time is flying by. We had kids over, went to the movies and out to dinner, attended church and a BBQ, and even had time to play some cards. I love it when my girls are home.

BG spent a good amount of time on her final project—a vacation home for some pretend doctor from Seattle and his family. I’m no expert, but as her mom, I think it looks pretty amazing. We’re hoping to see the cardboard model when she’s all done.

BG & Drawing

With graduation excitement, moving, and trips, Sweet Miss has a lot on her plate, so we decided to give her one of her graduation presents early. We were out wine tasting when we came across this watercolor of sunflowers—her favorite painting—and decided to buy it for her. We gave her some cash for her big trip to Scandanavia, but thought it would be nice to have something tangible for such an achievement.

SM & her painting

It’s been an arty kind of month. In Bit by Bit I shared the new painting by the artist, Teri Edwards, that we found on Etsy. We still haven’t balanced it out, but I know we’ll get there.

BbB in place

And remember me and the MR’s Trip to Maui? We went to the goat dairy, and the vodka distillery, and the lavender farm. Well, I was at this cooking class waiting for it to start when I received a message from one of my blogging friends, Rita, who is an artist. She was asking my permission to paint a picture inspired by my photo of the lavender fields. How exciting is that? Of course I said yes! You can see it now on her blog New York North Fine Art. It’s quite lovely, and to be honest much prettier than the real life view in early spring when nothing’s quite in bloom.

ToTT Lavender

After sharing tidbits from Hawaii, we moved on to Cancun. We enjoyed beautiful beaches and accomodations, excellent food and service, and simply had a wonderful time. If only I could figure out how to get the MR to bring me a blackberry smoothie while I lounge on the deck.

ToT2 Pool

We started off the month with the Garden Expansion. Sadly, it looks much the same is it did back then. Sure, we have broccoli, beets, and onions doing well. But the new bed is still in a halfway-there state. We could use a little sunshine on the weekends to help get some jobs done.

The plants I bought at the FFA plant sale up at the high school are Filling in the Holes well adding bits of color. The heuchera is going to be a nice permanent addition and the geraniums are starting to take off. I’m hoping they’ll bloom all summer long.

C Flower Bed

I shared my bounty from the Local Yarn Tour and my thoughts on how little stores are disappearing As Society Changes. While shopping online is really convenient, and I do more than my fair share, I do like to buy local when I have the opportunity. Before we know it, these little stores will be a thing of the past.

I also showed pictures of The Price of Progress. Our meadow of foxgloves has turned into an orchard over the last four years. This was not meant to be an enditement against my husband or his dad’s mowing habits, but I did receive a couple of packets of foxglove seeds from Papa Larry. Thank you. That was very kind.

That first spring in the house, we were dealing with mice, and ladybugs, and a rotten deck, and siding bubbling up, and soffits falling off. Let’s just say, I was feeling a little overwhelmed when I noticed the field of wildflowers, and they gave me a little hope.

Now the house is in much better shape, the rodents and bugs are less of a problem, and maybe we had to say goodbye to most of the foxgloves. But I picked the first of the currants last night and admired tiny apples and plums that we’ll snack on this season. It’s been a small price to pay.

More Foxgloves

Now, just like those fancy hotels, I can wish you Sweet Dreams. In Mexico, they offered Mayan sayings and paintings. In Hawaii, they called on the sights and sound that are so much a part of paradise. In that light, I can wish that you be rocked to sleep like the gentle swaying of the dandelions, or perhaps that the call of the coyote and the hoot of the owl will carry you to dream land. Maybe I should let the professionals make these up. My girls are satisfied with a kiss on the forehead. I’m sure they wouldn’t say no if that was accompanied by a piece of chocolate. More often than not, these days they have to settle for a Bitmoji.

Sleep Well

How was your May? Any big plans this summer?