Monday, May 21, 2018

around my yard in late may

 We're on day two of rain and cold. I actually had to turn on the heat in the house this morning. I just went outside quickly to snap this picture of the pansies on my front porch. They're obviously loving the rain and cold, but I think they're the only ones.

I much prefer warmer, sunny mornings on the patio.

My yard and gardens are really starting to fill in nicely, though I still have more work to do. This ladder needs a paint job. And more pots of flowers. The bench in the background needs the same. There's a nursery a few miles from here that we've never been to and we're going to explore it later this week when Brian has a day off work. IF it's not raining.

 Clematis is filled out with hundreds of buds. I can only imagine how beautiful this is going to be when they all open!

The only vegetable we're growing this year besides tomatoes are sugar snap peas. Last year we tried pole beans and didn't get many. These peas were only a few inches tall a couple of weeks ago. It's amazing how quickly they grow.

I'm excited at having a peony bush. My mom bought this bush for me last year and it was just a couple of tiny twigs that never did anything. It came back tall and strong this spring and is producing blooms, so I think we're in luck.

Our one huge lilac bush in the back yard is in full bloom, but already fading. Lilacs are gorgeous, but only last a few weeks. I love when we're sitting on the patio and we get whiffs of lilacs when the wind blows. There are so many varieties of lilacs; I love seeing all the different colors as I walk or drive around the neighborhood. Our bush has very pale blooms.

Our neighbor's bush has vivid purple blooms.

My aunt's back yard is filled with a variety of lilac bushes. I particularly love this one. Amazing how each little petal is outlined in white!

 Columbine in the butterfly garden is starting to grow shoots, which will develop beautiful pink flowers in the next week or so.

I bought this Celadine Poppy plant last year at a native plant sale and now I'm wishing I had bought a few more. It's really thriving in the mostly shady, moist area by the patio.

I planted a couple of large pots of flowers for the porch and patio, but they never truly look nice until they're filled out. 

Another thing I did this past weekend while it was dry was to take all the cuttings I had from my ginormous jade plant that I pruned in March and plant them in a mixture of cactus soil and compost. Now I have eleven more jade plants! I'm not keeping all of them. Most of them are already spoken for.

We finally have a break in the rain where it's lightly drizzling instead of pouring, so I'm donning my rain jacket and heading out to run some errands.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

for today ~ may edition

Looking out my window ~
I finally see green! 😍

I am thinking ~
about certain friends and relatives that are battling cancer, having complications from diabetes and facing surgery.

I am thankful ~
for the abundant sunshine and perfect temps we've had lately, which have made the plants and trees explode with greenery and flowers.

 (Bleeding Heart)

(Bishop's Cap)

One of my favorite things ~
fresh, clean bed linens. 

I am creating ~
handmade cards for Mother's Day and other occasions. I looked in three stores at Mother's Day cards and was appalled to find that I couldn't find a decent card under $6. Besides, I can make a prettier one on my own and then write my own sentiment. 

I am wearing ~
A gray and white striped cotton top and denim capris.

I am reading ~
Stretch Marks by Joan Anderson...from Amazon:

"Drawing on personal experiences and her research of the transformative changes in a woman's life, Anderson illuminates the rewards of nurturing long-neglected talents, revitalizing plans sacrificed to the demands of family, and stretching toward new possibilities and values. Suffused with her candid introspection and humor, these essays off a panoramic vision of issues that haunt the modern woman. This book means to breathe new life into the reader who longs to be an individual beyond the roles that she plays with the intent to help her emerge from between the covers of Stretch Marks with something approaching vision."

Also reading A-Z Great Modern Writers by Andy Touhy...from Amazon:

"Artist and graphic designer Andy Tuohy turns his hand to the world of literature, in this new installment of the A-Z series. Rendered in his distinctive style, this new book features portraits of 52 key modern writers significant for their contribution to literature, with a whole host of names from across the world including Gabriel García Márquez, Samuel Beckett, Émile Zola, Jung Chang, Franz Kafka and Leo Tolstoy to name but a few."

"Alabama, Arkansas,
I do love my Ma and Pa

Not the way that I do love you

Well, holy moly me oh my

You're the apple of my eye
Girl, I've never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you're my best friend
I scream it to the nothingness
There ain't nothing that I need

Well, hot and heavy pumpkin pie
Chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
Ain't nothing that please me more than you


Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you...."

I am hoping ~
for a rain-free Mother's Day on Sunday so that we can grill.

I am learning ~
the importance of being mindful.

In my kitchen ~
Freekeh! Have you ever had this Middle Eastern grain? It's wheat that was harvested when it was still green. It has a chewy bite and a slightly smoky, nutty flavor. It's also a nutritional powerhouse: it has more protein than quinoa and twice the fiber. It's lower on the glycemic index, high in iron, calcium and zinc, and even acts like a prebiotic, promoting the growth of good bacteria in your gut. You can substitute it for rice, quinoa, bulgur or farro. Try it hot for breakfast instead of oatmeal. Add it to soups. Or make a salad - which is what I did. I cooked the freekeh then let it cool down. I then added chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, Greek olives (which I got at a Middle Eastern grocer last week), red onion, feta cheese, and fresh parsley. The dressing is extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper.

Post Script ~
(Add a favorite link that you would like to pass along. It can be someone else's website, etsy shop, Instagram feed, Facebook link, OR it can be your own.)

How about an Instagram shout-out? Sharon Lovejoy is an author, artist, and wonderful cook who lives in a gorgeous house in California. Her photos are beautiful, uplifting and the essence of home and a life well-lived.

Check out her account at

Shared quote ~

A moment from my day ~
Zippo (dark kitty) and Clementine enjoying the morning sunbeam. Zippo's 19th birthday was yesterday! He's doing pretty well for an old guy. He has the usual elderly feline maladies...he's a bit senile and deaf, has glaucoma and cataracts, thyroid disease and borderline kidney disease. He sees an eye vet and has meds for his eye problems and is on medication for his thyroid. He still has a good appetite, uses the cat box, and is a fantastic snuggler. We know our time with him is very limited, which makes us sad, but of course we're grateful for the many years we've had with him. Someone dumped him and his two brothers on our property when they were only about three months old. A friend took Zippo's two brothers. 

If you're interested in participating in doing a post for The Simple Woman's Daybook, see the guidelines here

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

lots of blooms and a little day trip

 How quickly things can change around here! It went from winter-like weather to warm seemingly overnight. Yesterday and today were in the 80's. I actually have the AC on today! As I do every year, I say a little prayer before I turn the AC on for the season, as it's 30 years old. The furnace, too. Looks like it'll be back to normal temps (60's) tomorrow and through next week, but these two days of warm weather really pushed things into bloom. You can almost see the plants grow before your eyes. They truly do change day by day.

I still haven't been to the garden centers to pick out annuals for the porch and patio. So far, I only have a couple of hanging baskets of pansies and violas. I was at a mega store with a garden center the other day and was walking around to see what they had. I was so excited to see flowers again, that I had to stop myself from throwing everything into the cart. I realized I'd better make a plan before I start to buy stuff. What kinds of flowers do I really want, and which pots am I going to put them in? Sun or shade? Colors?

Around my yard, vinca is blooming, lilacs and clematis are budding, lilies are well out of the ground, hostas are unfurling. In my butterfly garden, phlox, black-eyed susan, lamb's ear, and columbine are all making their debut. In the little circular garden in the backyard, more phlox and bleeding heart are coming back.

These cheery daffodils make a late appearance every spring in my butterfly garden; I think because they don't get a lot of sun. A few days ago, they were just green stalks and now ~ beautiful blooms. To me, they are the essence of spring.

Brian had the day off work yesterday. Since we already had the patio set up for the season (hooray!) except for potted plants, we decided to take one of our little day trips. Sure, there's still a lot more work to get the yard and gardens ready for spring, but sometimes you just need to get out of town and relax a bit.

I love the gorgeous planters scattered around the shops in this town. One of the store owners told me that it's the local florist who does these arrangements every year.

We ate some delicious Greek food for lunch...we shared chicken gyros, a Greek salad, Greek potatoes, and fresh pita bread with hummus; went to some of our favorite shops; picked up olive oil, freekah (the new-ish supergrain) and paneer cheese (I'm going to make Palak Paneer) from a middle eastern grocer; and then we went to relax by the lake. I know I've posted photos of this view before, but it's one of my favorites. I like how you can see part of the Chicago skyline, even though it was a hazy day. 

 No trip to Evanston would be complete without us stopping at Secret Treasures, where I found this gorgeous American sweetheart cake plate. 

 Happy May! What's blooming in your part of the world?

Monday, April 23, 2018

new hallway lighting ~ happy earth day


Earth Day - April 22, 2018 - is 48 years old. It was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who hoped to make the environment a political issue. It's interesting to learn how this day came about. You can read here for a short history.

We can all do our part in simple ways to take care of our planet. Recycle, use cloth napkins instead of paper ones, use real dishes instead of paper or plastic, don't let water run while we brush our teeth, bring your own grocery bags into the store, use a reusable water bottle (I have a Hydro Flask) instead of plastic water bottles, use earth-friendly cleaning products, turn off appliances and lights when not in use, and use energy-efficient appliances and lighting. 

As a member of the Wayfair Homemaker program, I have been compensated for this post. All ideas and opinions are completely my own.

Most of the lighting in our home is up-to-date and we do use compact fluorescent bulbs...except for the old hallway light.

Yes, indeed ~ we were living with a "boob light" in the hallway.
Not only was it old-fashioned and not exactly pretty, but it wasn't energy efficient either.

It was definitely time for an update and with Earth Day making an appearance, there was no better time to choose an energy-efficient, modern light for our hallway. Wayfair has a fantastic selection of flush mounts to choose from. 

I ultimately chose the Triangulum 2-Light Flush Mount in Venetian Bronze for our hallway.

Good thing I have a built-in handyman because I'm not exactly Mrs. Fix-it! Taking down the "boob light" and installing the new one was a smooth process and took about 45 minutes.

The new, updated look is so much better, don't you think?

It's amazing how one simple change can transform a room.

We used two compact fluorescent lightbulbs in this light fixture, which do not even use half the energy of just one 60-watt incandescent bulb. 

What are some of the things that you do to leave a smaller ecological footprint?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

a little something for the kitchen wall

I think that spring is finally on its way! It did snow a bit overnight, but the sun is finally shining once again this morning. And looking at the extended forecast, I see temperatures in the 50's and low 60's. No more 30's or threats of snow - hooray!

(Sun on pachysandra this morning)

You might remember that back in January 2017, we had a pass-thru cut out in the wall between our living room and kitchen. To this day, on the kitchen side of the pass-thru, the wall has remained blank. I didn't want to hang just anything; I was waiting until I found exactly what I wanted. I tried various art work and even played with some plate arrangements (having Brian hold things up on the wall so I could stand back and see how it looked), but nothing ever looked "just right". I'm always amazed at those who can put together a room immediately.

I saw this wooden sign at Hobby Lobby and was immediately drawn to it. I thought this might finally be The One. I've also been wanting to incorporate this vintage iron shelf into the wall decor, so when I put the two of them together...

I think we have a winner!

You can see how this wall needs more though. And with the severe angles of the cut-out plus the rectangular wooden sign, it needs some softening up. So, my next step is going to put putting some plates - probably only three - above the cut-out.

Oh, hello Miss Clementine on the heat vent. By next week, she won't be doing that anymore. 🐱

~ Happy Thursday ~

Monday, April 16, 2018

spring has been cancelled

Someone needs to tell Susan Branch that there is no sun, nor lovely grass in April. At least not in my neck of the woods.


This is what it looked like here yesterday.

Today isn't much better. Woke up to a couple of inches of snow, with high winds that were blowing gusts of that nasty white stuff past my windows. Looked like something straight out of a Christmas scene. I know my friends further north are rolling their eyeballs and saying, "Big deal!" They are buried. But, snow, cold gloomy skies, and temps in the 30's in mid-April is just ridiculous. Forget the song that never ends. This is the winter that never ends. 

At least the inside of my house looks like spring, so I can pretend it's more like 60 degrees, which is the average temperature for this time of year.

Has spring truly arrived yet where you live?