Category Archives: Garden

The Life of a Seed

This is the story of these seeds:

Once upon a time (3 years ago this week), these seeds joined our family. In a moment of bold ambition, we declared “We’re Farmers!” Now, most normal seeds live a dull life; they get planted and then they do their thing, and then they die. Not these seeds! No, no! These seeds have had the unique opportunity to travel a whole new world! In three years, they’ve gone from the store to the kitchen counter, to the sideboard drawer, to a flowerpot, to a flowerpot in the basement in the middle of the basement, to a drawer in the basement, back to a flowerpot on a shelf on a wall in the basement. Think of the elevation changes. Think of the time they’ve had to contemplate the meaning of life.

I’m so glad we didn’t deprive these seeds of their adventure by doing something boring like planting them!

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King of the Jungle

We’ve been busy around here. Between growing baby #2 and taking care of baby #1, we’ve been working hard at finishing some projects that have been on our list for a LONG time.

Our landscaping has continued to be a bear that we wrestle with this summer. We made a lot of progress last fall and earlier in the summer, but there was a big jungle in our backyard waiting for us to tackle. We had it clean once upon a time 3 years ago, but alas, the weeds came back!

We recently added this cleanup to our “must get done before baby comes” list. And we’ve been able to dedicate a few weekends to it recently. I’m happy to report that we conquered it!

Here are a few before shots:

And here it is today:

(the second pic is actually of our fence by our driveway, where we removed 2 vines and transplanted the rose bush).

We had hoped to pick up some plants 1/2 price this fall for the jungle corner (maybe a small flowering tree and some perennials), but I’m not sure we have time/weather left. We still need to clean up some other beds before it gets too cold.

We feel really excited about this though! This means that all but 1 of the beds have landscape fabric and mulch down (the ones we did last fall don’t but they seem to be holding up without the fabric). Our hope is that next year, we’ll be in maintenance and plant mode and won’t have to be embarrassed by our yard!

Stay tuned for an exciting basement update….the maze is almost gone!!

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Garden Highlights

Our flowers are continuing to bloom and surprise us. Even this weekend, we had 2 new perennials bloom! (I need to take pictures of them still). Here are some pictures Mark took this weekend:

I love this flower.  I don’t remember what it is (maybe a begonia), but it’s been one of my favorites all summer and it just continues to grow and become prettier.

We bought this flower a few weeks ago, hoping it would grow quickly and make use of the trellis that we put up for the wisteria (which will apparently take five years to bloom??).  It’s not doing as well as I hoped, but it is pretty. It reminds me of butterflies.

The salvia and snapdragons are the top performers. They are really carrying this garden (it’s very pink!!!). There are some cool pink geraniums too that add diversity. I kind of don’t know what is a weed and what is a flower in any of the beds, so they’re a little sloppy!

Here’s another shot of the pink geraniums- I love the green and pink leaves- so different and pretty!  Speaking of random plants I can’t identify, bonus points to anyone who can tell me what the tall green leaves in the back are that look like a stalk of something- I have them growing everywhere, but haven’t a clue what they are!! (they look like a rolled up hosta that’s growing upright or a bigger, tighter tulip leaf?)

Our hydrangea bloomed for the first time too! It has really delicate white flowers:

All in all, we’re really pleased with how these flowers are doing.  Now if only the weeds in the rest of the beds would go away!!

But- who wants to think about ugly weeds? Here’s one more picture of the full side bed:

(Yes I kind of went overboard on the pink!!!)

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Summer interlude: Getting out the BBQ

It’s summer. One of the things I love most about summer is grilling. Seriously:

1) the food is yummy.

2) you get to be outside while you cook.

3) clean-up is a piece of cake!

So, in honor of grilling season, here are a few things we’ve been making these days at our house:

Salad w/ grilled chicken (super yummy with poppyseed dressy!)

Grilled, seasoned veggies and …grilled chicken (I’m not very creative!)

We started slacking in the photo department (Shocking), but we’ve also made burgers, hot dogs, and garlic bread (Which is AMAZING).  We might have had grilled veggies and chicken once more too :).

We have a bunch of new bbq recipes to try this summer! Next up (this weekend!): Pineapple.  Come by and enjoy the summer with us!

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7 Quicktakes Sundays #6

Sorry for the hiatus over the past few weeks. With family visiting and a work trip to Dallas, blogging took a back seat :).

We’re finally getting relatively nice weather here (still a bit cool, but sunny) and the trees and flowers are starting to bloom.  We love it.  Here are a few quick highlights from the past few weeks:

1) We’re not Ivy League anymore

We spent our afternoon ripping out all of the Ivy along the front of our house. It felt like we would never finish, but then all of a sudden, it was done!  The soil looks like it’s in really good shape, so hopefully a little bit of work and we’ll be ready to buy plants!

2) Summertime is on its way!

Over Easter my family helped us get our patio set out and this weekend, we bought a grill and put it together!  Now we’re at least ready to cook and eat outside. I just need to make it pretty!

3) Speaking of pretty….

Our patio isn’t. We have a wood deck that’s adjacent to a concrete patio.  So, I was thinking… would be so much better if the patio were brick.  So, I googled it and and it turns out you can paint faux bricks on concrete.  Because my husband is easily amused, he said I could try it :).  Victoria Day weekend, I sense a project in our future!

4) Project list

So a few weeks ago, I stumbled on a website called Pinterest (and I blogged about it). but this is now my most favorite site EVER. We will definitely not run out of projects to do if I keep this board up!  Create a board so that I can follow it :).  If you want an invite, let me know!

5) Potluck:

I’ve been pinning lots of pictures on Pinterest of food to take for potluck. This week we tried something new and took Pasta Salad and Zuchinni chocolate cake. Yum!

6) Weeping but pretty

We’ve been researching plants, etc for the garden. Yesterday, we saw a weeping Japanese cherry tree and fell in love with it! I just need to decide where to put it

7. Half-Priced books

I discovered a new store in dallas- it’s a discount book store that sells books for 1/2 price or less.  Apparently it’s a chain- who knew?  Anyway- I had quite the time there last week trying to pick out books for my flight home!  Turns out there were several in Cleveland, and I just never knew about them….that’s probably a good thing!!

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7 Quicktakes Sunday #5: Progress!

1) When we saw our house for the first time with our realtor, we fell in the love with the front porch. It was the first room of the house we saw, and the first indication that we had that this house was a lot more promising that the pictures online showed.  The porch, though, has been the hardest room to get unpacked and settled.  It was where we dumped all of the boxes we didn’t have a place for and, without heat, it wasn’t somewhere we were jumping to spend a lot of time this winter. But now that the weather is getting nicer, it’s time to get it ready!

We spent a few hours yesterday cleaning, hauling boxes, and rearranging…In the end, it didn’t take much time, but the difference is amazing! We can’t wait to spend many hours out there over the next 3 seasons

2)  Coat rack: Another area that has driven me crazy this winter is our lack of a coat rack in the mudroom.  i wasn’t sure what I wanted, so coats ended up dumped on our dining room chairs. This week though I bought a coat rack at Target and Mark hung is up for me!  Just in time for us to put the coats away for the winter  It’s probably a little big for the space, but it was what I could find and I liked it and I forgot to measure :).

3) I found a new website this week to track pictures of things that we like…ideas for the house and garden, etc.  You can see what we’re dreaming of at Pinterest.

4) I bought panko breadcrumbs this week to make panko shrimp, but also came across a recipe for mozzerella sticks and fried zuchinni.  Really really bad for you, but oh so yummy.  I think we have to try this.  You can find the recipe on Pioneer Women’s site

5) I started using the french coffee press that Mark gave me for my birthday. After a few rounds of experimenting, I think we’re getting somewhere with it!  I’ve made reasonable tasting coffee twice this weekend- progress!

6) While I was in Cleveland, Mark worked on our outdoor garden space, turning soil and pulling ivy.  We still have a long ways to go, but it’s a good start!

7) One thing that we haven’t made progress on it Maggie’s loud noises in the middle of the night, the middle of the day, any time basically that Mark is out of her sight.  She’s convinced that Mark should come play ball with her at 1 or 2 am.  He doesn’t think this is a good idea.  We’ve even tried taking the soccer balls away at night, which helped for awhile, but now…not so much.

My family is coming on Thursday to spend Easter weekend with us and we’re super excited! we’re looking forward to a fun family weekend and hoping that the weather cooperates…eek!

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7 Quicktakes Sunday #4: Perspective

1) Today, I had to drive to Cleveland in the afternoon for a week of meetings and time in the office.  It’s amazing to me to think that Mark and I did this trip 2x/weekend almost every weekend for 10 months.  I really don’t know how we managed.  In reflecting on it, I think it’s true that life has different seasons and it’s remarkable how we adapt to those seasons and we just get done what we need to get done.  During those months, we fit our lives into Monday-Friday and Saturday & Sunday were in many ways special days that were outside the realm of our normal lives.  Now, it’s all a lot more blended together.  There’s not the distinction of “my life” and “his life” and “our life”…those separate lives now occupy just our working hours and the rest of it is “our life.” The divisions have changed significantly; before, it was always a bonus to get a few extra hours in “our life” and now it’s strange to lose those extra hours and go back to the way things were.  (I’d much rather live with the way things are now!). Still, I know the next 5 days will go quickly and then I’ll head back to Ontario Friday night, in another flashback of the good old days, but this time, I’m going home, and I don’t have to do the drive again on Sunday! :).

2) We get asked a lot what we’re working on the house these days, and really, my answer is: “trying to get it clean.” (See last week’s post!) I’m encouraged though that, even though we didn’t get it much cleaner this week, the part we cleaned did stay clean.  So, it is possible…it just takes a little bit of extra diligence. (I realize that’s just a really dull update…but it was seriously a highlight of my week)

3) Our attention, though, in terms of projects, is turning to the outside.  When my parents visited in February, my mom suggested that we remove some overgrown bushes, and this week, we had them pulled out.  It’s SUCH an improvement.  I don’t have great pictures, but you can see here where Mark started turning over soil today where some of the bushes were.  I’m hoping to put in some flowering bushes or maybe some climbing roses or other such flowers.   This particular bed eventually winds its way from the side of our house next to the driveway all along the side and front of our house, so there’s a lot of potential. It’s right near the gate, too, where people would enter the patio/backdoor area.

4) Thursday, I happened to have some frozen bread dough that I needed to make into cinnamon rolls.  Mark was fascinated by the process and took some pictures/video. He thought it quite strange that I was using dental floss to slice them off the roll, so we have a video to demonstrate how it’s done (it’s in high speed cause we were running out of space on teh camera :)…)

5) Today was over 70 degrees! Mark walked home from church and I sat out on our deck/patio for awhile.  Maggie was enjoying the spring weather too.

6) Reading: I’m reading a biography of Mickey Mantle. Yup. Baseball.  I think my appreciation of the book is severely limited by my lack of understanding and background of baseball.  Still, it’s moderately interesting.  On my drive to cleveland, I listened to a podcast about cities and how one physicist (I think?) has cities reduced to a bunch of ratios and mathematical formulas. For instance, pick a city and all people within that city walk at the same pace roughly. AND….that pace is proportional according to some formula to the population of the city.  In the end, how quickly people walk, the number of libraries, how quickly people talk, etc are all predictable based on the population.   anyway- there’s apparently a book that explains it and i think it needs to be added to my reading list 7) New project idea?  What if we find an old library card catalog and rebuild it to be a dining room buffet?  I really don’t come up with these things on my own, but when I see them….how can I say no?

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