Sunday, May 3, 2015

the beginnings of may

We have been having such beautiful weather here in northern Illinois that I've been spending most of my spare time outdoors. There's always so much yard work to do in the spring, and Brian and I both love it for the most part.The trees and bushes are finally filling in, most of the hostas are unfurled, dogwoods and redbuds and cherry trees are blossoming...and my allergies are going haywire. I've been digging weeds (and the ever invasive mint) out of my herb garden, making room for a couple of new plants. I planted these chives last year and could not believe how big this plant is this year and how it's already developing flower heads. I read online that once these flowers are in bloom, you can actually use them in salads.

My first hanging basket of the year looks a little pitiful, but I know with some TLC and sunshine, that it'll perk right back up. I was just so excited to actually see flowers on my porch once again that I bought the first hanging basket that I saw at the grocery store. ;-)

Brian put down a couple of bags of fresh mulch the other day and I've been spreading it out and raking it around the hostas and the stone path on the south side of the house. We still have to mulch the butterfly garden and another flower garden in back of the house.

I mowed the lawn yesterday for the first time this season, too. This is the north side of my house. You can see our compost bin in the back yard, surrounded by lilies. The silver metal thing sticking out of the ground by the sidewalk is our well cap.

Brian's going to be working on a big project. Our little front yard slopes down into a ditch next to the street. We planted lilies in the ditch several years ago to help make it look nicer and we also had medium-sized rocks at the edge of the slope for a border. Well, erosion happens after time and so last year we had to remove the rocks. That area then looked so sloppy. We've been thinking about what to do with this area and then lo and behold, a neighbor offered us some extra landscaping retaining wall pavers. Brian worked in the heat yesterday, carrying these pavers several at a time from the neighbor's house to our house, because neither of us have a wheelbarrow! Now that I'm thinking about it, I guess he could've used the car and piled these in his trunk. Oops. His project will now be to dig the ground and get these pavers placed to make a little wall.

The patio accessories were looking mighty dingy this year. I spray-painted the metal table a bright yellow and I'm debating on what color to paint the wicker ottoman. I don't know if I necessarily want to make it a color that matches the throw pillows on the chair because I'll probably be replacing those pillows in the next season or two. I can't wait to start buying colorful annuals to plant in pots to place all over the patio. It still looks so bare to me. You can see that the hosta plants alongside the fence still look like asparagus spears in this area. That's because they don't get much sun. They're always the last hostas around our house to full open. And the little green things all over the patio itself...some kind of seedlings from the neighbor's trees. Every time the wind blows, they shower my patio with these seedlings. I've given up on sweeping the patio for now. It's like trying to shovel during a snowstorm.

Storms are now moving into our area, so Brian's outside firing up the grill in preparation for dinner before the rain hits. Unfortunately, our extended forecast is showing thunderstorms through Tuesday, then either cloudy skies or rain for the next 10 days! Glad I got a lot of yard work done this weekend. To go with our grilled bratwurst tonight (which I got from a German deli just four miles up the road - they make their own sausages), I made a pasta primavera salad. Aren't these spring veggies just beautiful? Trader Joes carries organic tri-colored carrots (orange, yellow, purple) and I thought the purple and yellow ones would be especially pretty in this pasta salad. To make, just boil one pound of penne or orrecciette according to package directions. Two minutes before pasta is done, throw in fresh peas, 1/4" pieces of asparagus, and 1/4" diced carrots. Drain (save 1 cup pasta water) and put in a large bowl. Add lots of chopped, fresh herbs (I used chives and dill; you can also use tarragon and/or parsley), crumbled feta or goat cheese, 2 T. olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon, some grated lemon rind, salt and pepper. If the pasta salad seems a little dry, add a little bit of the saved pasta water until you get the right consistency. Nom nom!

 Hope you had a beautiful weekend!


  1. Hi Melanie, I can't believe it . . . you were just having snow such a short time ago . . . when Spring hit you it hit with all it might. Your yard looks wonderful :) You know, just the other day I bought some carrot seed and I saw seed for those colorful carrots, but didn't buy any. Now, I'm thinking that I should run back to the store and get a package. Those are so pretty. If I were going to paint the ottoman I would paint it the blue that is in the pillows. Then in a couple of years if you change your pillows, just buy a couple more cans of spray paint and do it again :) That is the nice thing about spray paint . . . fast and easy:)
    Your blog is named perfectly, because you have a comfy cozy home inside and out.
    Connie :)

  2. We had the same kind of weekend, yard work, and just general enjoyment of the lovely month of May! Funny you would say that about the chive blossoms, I was just telling Brian the same thing. Mine are about to bloom, and I was telling him that you can put them in salads, or make chive blossom vinegar. I just like how they look!

  3. Melanie - your yard looks great and I know it will just get brighter with color as the season gets farther in! A big change from your recent snowfall!

    Would you please me your address so I can mail you mini Miss Begonia? I thought I had it but can't find it.


  4. It's all looking great, Melanie! I love your hanging basket and I'm sure it will perk right up with some sun and TLC from you. The yellow table is so cute, there's nothing like a little yellow to make everything look more cheerful. I hope the storms weren't too bad. Have a great week!

  5. I live in east-central IL and we have been having lovely weather too! In fact, it is the nicest Spring I've experienced since moving here from NY state 8 years ago. While I enjoy the mild winters in IL, I do not like the long, hot summers.

  6. Melanie,
    What a beautiful Spring! I am sitting here in my beloved Texas transitioning into Summer, when I saw your pansy basket, I thought no way here, all of ours are wilting away because of the creeping in of humidity and heat. So, I will enjoy your Spring via my 3rd story apartment! Recipe sounds delightful-thinking I may need to go to our brand new Trader Joe's-I even have a coupon for a free shopping bag:)

  7. Your grass is a beautiful green, Melanie, kudos for cutting it so well! Your flowerbeds of lilies and hostas must be super pretty, and so is your first flower basket of the season! What a lovely and colourful pasta salad recipe; I've never seen tri-coloured carrots before. I love fresh peas and asparagus, and hope to indulge in these spring veggies this season in Toronto!

    Have a lovely day!


  8. Everything looks so pretty and springy. I have been doing lots of yard work's the season ;-)
    Lori from LL Farm

  9. I'd paint the furniture ALL THE COLORS in the pillows, but I'm weird ;)



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