Friday, May 31, 2013

on leaving ~ and creatures

 I'm leaving in half hour with a couple of friends to travel three hours south to
a women's retreat. We'll be back Saturday night. Sounds good, right? In theory, yes.
But I suffer with anxiety and leaving my home to go out of town kicks my anxiety
into high gear. Why I said yes to this retreat was that one of my best friends from
Canada was actually driving all the way down to Illinois for this retreat and we
wanted to see each other. But she had a family emergency and now is not able
to come to the retreat. But I already committed to going, so that's that.

I know a lot of you are animal lovers like I am, so I thought I'd share some
recent pictures of my kitties before I leave.

Here's Zippo all snuggled up on a quilt next to the "love" pillow...

 And my sweet girl, Clementine...

And Clementine's baby...Monkey. He has such long front legs! Good thing he's
so cute and sweet because he's quite naughty.

 A turtle?! This creature was in the road, crawling towards my neighbor's house 
across the street yesterday. I'm glad he made it because I'm too scared of turtles
to pick it up and move it to the side of the road. Look at those claws!

I'll talk to you all again on Sunday! Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

a walk around my yard

Welcome, sunshine. I have missed you so. 
Clouds and rain have their place, but not for days on end.
It felt so good to putter and work around my yard again today,
 so I thought I'd take you on a little tour.

 Walking up to my front porch, there's a table full of spider plants
basking in the sunshine.

 A vintage pot of purple and yellow pansies by the front door
greets you with its cheer.

 But, watch out for Mama Robin! She always has her eye on you
while you're lingering on the porch.

 This is the south side of the house. The paved walkway leads to the patio.
There's still work to be done here. I'd like to paint the bench that's by
the fence and we need to put the patio rug on the patio. We're waiting
until all this rain is done though. When the rug gets soaked, even though
it's an outdoor one, it stays wet for a long time. There's too much
shade on this side of the house with all the trees hanging overhead.

Walking around to the back yard, you will see I started lining the little garden
in the middle of the yard with large, round rocks. I dug those out of our
front ditch area this morning. There's a few more to dig out, but I think I'm
going to fall short. I will have to hunt for roadside rocks on my walks.
The dirt patch to the right is what used to be our fire pit. Brian needs to get
rid of the cinder blocks (they won't go in the garbage, of course...we'll either find
some kind of unique way to use them {little planters?} or put them by the roadside
with a "free" sign.) The barrel you see is our composting barrel. Which we love, BTW.
We don't have to buy any dirt or potting soil. This thing makes the most beautiful
dirt you've ever seen. My plants thrive in this stuff.

 Against the back of the house is an herb garden that is constantly threatened
to be overtaken by the mint and the lemon balm. That's lavender at the back left,
with rosemary and parsley in front.

We planted some lettuces against the back area of the house too,
but it doesn't look so great. Lettuces like cooler weather and I think we
planted these too late - near the end of April.

Walking around to the north side of my house, you will find what I fondly call
"the plant from hell", AKA a comfrey plant, and a pot of tomatoes. The comfrey
plant was just a tiny cutting from my mom's yard last year. She had warned me
that it grows huge and pretty much takes over everything else. Moms are
always right.

One of my favorite flowers is begonias. They remind me of little roses. This
abundant basket hangs by the side door that leads into the kitchen.

 And then we have this row of flowering bushes that desperately need
trimming right now. Brian does that job with a power hedge trimmer.

 Well, I hope you enjoyed my yard tour. Thank you for taking the time
to share this beautiful day with me. We are grilling pork tenderloin for dinner
and I made a homemade BBQ mole sauce to go on it. We'll also have asparagus
with a buttery balsamic vinegar glaze and macaroni salad.

Monday, May 27, 2013

new kitchen table ~ and Mama Robin update

Happy Memorial Day! We'd normally be grilling today but the weather here has
been so cold and rainy. Instead, my friend is going to be joining us this evening
for pizza, sangria, and some rousing rounds of Scrabble.

In the meantime...when my mom and I were out thrifting the other day, I found
a beautiful drop-leaf table. As I mentioned, I've been looking for one to put in front
of my living room window. The one my mom gave me a couple of weeks ago is too
small. This one looked just right in the store. I figured if it didn't work out, that I could
use it for a kitchen table and get rid of the modern teak one that we have. (It's "OK", it
just doesn't go in my cottage kitchen.) I hemmed and hawed about the table, as I
really don't have the extra money to spend right now. The store was having a 50%
off sale, and the tag on the table said $250, so that made the table $125. Still
too high for me. So I asked the owner if she'd come down to $100, but she held firm at
$110. I kept walking away and going back to look at the table. I really wanted it.
You guessed it ~ it came home with me. The cats immediately had to check it out.
 Oh - and it endedup that I don't like it in front of the living room window.

Brian took apart the teak table that was in the kitchen and we set up the drop leaf
one in its place ~ only we put the leaves up to make it a small, round table.
I love it! It's perfect for the two of us. And it takes up so much less room in the
 kitchen than the bigger teak table did. I just need two new chairs now. These 
are temporary. Though they might look better if I paint them. I'm playing it by ear,
 depending what other chairs I can find in resale shops.

I also need a new rug. This sisal one with black trim does not "go" in my kitchen.

In my May 17th post, I wrote about how a robin built a nest in my hanging basket
of flowers. And that she had laid one egg thus far. Well, she has now laid four eggs
(the most robins lay at one time) and is busy laying on her eggs, which robins do
for two weeks. I love watching her and can't wait to chronicle the rest of her story
when her babies hatch out of their eggs!

Aren't robin's eggs the most beautiful blue you've ever seen?

Joining other lovely bloggers at Sunny Simple Mondays today.


Friday, May 24, 2013

vintage flair in the garden

 Check out my 1970 green Schwinn bicycle!
This was my first "real" bicycle. I got it for my 8th birthday.
My best friend had the same one, so of course I had to get matching.
This bike has followed me (almost) all my life. It's been hanging in my garage
for many years. I've always loved how people take old bikes and prop them
up against trees or fences and put a lovely basket of flowers on the handlebars. 
I had Brian take down the bike today and I plopped it right between the hostas
and tiger lilies. I'll like it much better when I can find a bicycle basket - preferably
a vintage one - and the tiger lilies grow taller and start to bloom.

 My mom came out for a visit today and we went to a couple of our
favorite little shops. I found this great vintage butterfly ~ perfect for
hanging on the fence!

A little side note: this isn't our fence. It's the neighbor's fence that borders our
property. You might remember that this was the neighbor that had a very old,
falling down, rotting fence. And let's put it this way: she is not a nice person.
We can't talk to her, so we finally had to write a letter to our village Public Works
department about the condition of her fence. Wanna see how bad it was?.....

Can you believe it?! She left it like this for about a week and then her "fix"
was to push that first panel up as far as she could, and secure it to the post
with a bungee cord. I kid you not.

 But I digress. Back to more pleasant talk. This crib frame was from the crib that
my boys slept in! We couldn't keep the crib - it was from 1988 - so I at least kept
the frame, knowing I could do something creative with it. I've seen a lot of great
ideas on Pinterest. You can use these frames as a trellis in the garden - like what
I'm aiming for here. That's a Columbine plant in front of the frame/trellis. When the
gardening season is over (I don't even want to think about's just begun here!),
I'm most likely going to hang the frame on a wall and pin photographs to it with
clothespins. I'll probably spray-paint the frame, too.

Are you upcycling anything to use in your garden decor, or using any
 vintage things for a unique, pretty look?

Join me this week at The Farm Blog Hop and The Creative HomeAcre Hop!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

feeling at home

I haven't ventured out of my house in two days except for going to
yoga class, and that's just fine with me. As much as I like going out and
doing fun things and being with friends or certain family members, I also like
days at home, with nothing planned except for what I feel like doing at the time.

I take pleasure in creating a home that's welcoming, beautiful and relaxing
for not only myself and my family, but for those who visit, as well. 

 I don't think puttering is a waste of time and energy; I think it's soothing and relaxing
but yet energizing at the same time. Whether it's creating a new vignette, placing
fresh flowers in a vase, fluffing the pillows on the couch, putting clean sheets on
the bed, setting a beautiful table, or even sweeping the front porch of all the storm
debris from the previous night, it's all like a moving meditation.

Don't you find that creating a home is a form of self-expression? Or, dare I say,
even an art form? 

There is a saying that eyes are the window to the soul, and perhaps that's true.
But I also think that our home is a window to our soul. You are the one who
made your home what it is; what it tells other people. If your home is constantly 
cluttered and messy, perhaps your mind is cluttered and bogged down. 
If you appreciate art and things of beauty, your house will show that, too.

 It doesn't matter if your home is a tiny cottage, a look-alike house in the suburbs,
a modern loft, or a mansion by the sea. If you nourish your home with loving energy,
you will feel it. You will walk in your front door and feel at peace. 

 You should have objects of beauty and interest in your home; things that make
you smile. They don't have to cost much money; for example, everything you
see in the vignette below was from a thrift store ~ except for the "beautiful" picture, 
which I made ~ and the bottles of perfume.

 Even something as simple as a little plant by a sunny window can add
interest and cheer to your home.

 So, tell me...what does your home say about you?

 I hope that your home is your safe haven. I am praying for those who have
tragically lost their home in the Oklahoma tornadoes. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

beauty all around us

 It's amazing how, when spring gets going, plants seemingly grow overnight and
bushes and flowers burst into bloom. The cilantro in my herbal fairy garden is already
taking over much of the pot! And I've even clipped and used some in my cooking.

My lilac bush is blooming now and the fragrance is heavenly. Outdoors, that is.
I have allergies and if I bring the blooms indoors, it makes my schnoz very unhappy.

My fern plant unfolds a little more each day.

 This wicker rack is on the patio. I'm not done with it yet; I'm still filling it
in with plants and decor. See the three flowered pots in the blue wooden box?
I got those at the Dollar Tree yesterday.

I was hunting around in the garage for other items I could possibly use outdoors
and I found this wicker stand. It was faded with wear, so I spray-painted it 
bright blue to liven things up. I only had time for one coat yesterday though.
Still needs another coat or two. And more plants too, of course.
I got this pretty pot at the Salvation Army thrift store. If you're looking
for plant pots, thrift stores and dollar stores are the way to go! I couldn't
believe how expensive plant pots are even at Wal-Mart.

 I like how the wicker stand adds dimension and interest to the flat ground coverings.
Will be even prettier when those day lilies by the fence start to bloom!

I went to water my hanging fuschia plant a few days ago, and was surprised to find
that a bird decided that the plant would be a good place to build a nest!

It was still muddy inside....mama bird was obviously still building. No nesting
material inside the nest yet.

Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I peeked into the nest today and found
not only the nesting material, but one blue egg, too! A robin's egg!

There's a big lake only a few blocks from my house and I was down there the
other evening with my camera, so I was able to capture a couple of beautiful
photos. I'm not sure what kind of tree this is (I'm terrible at remembering names
of trees and plants), but it sure looked pretty, especially with the cat tails in the 

And then I was able to capture this photo of a lone fisherman.
So peaceful and serene, isn't it?

Linking up to Sunny Simple Life Blog Hop