Wednesday, May 30, 2018

it's always something ~ but you gotta find the humor

Hard to believe that in my last post (May 21st), I said I had to turn the heat on. A few days ago, the weather slammed us with temps in the 90's. The humidity wasn't bad, so I actually enjoyed time outdoors in the morning, planting more flowers and cleaning the patio. The heat really pushed more plants into blooming, including the Columbine (the plants climbing the trellis)...

One day my peonies were mere buds...

and the next day they were full blooms! So amazing. This peony bush was just a little stick of a plant last year when my mom gave it to me, so I was thrilled that it's thriving and producing blooms this year.

Same with the clematis ~ one day just buds all over and the next day, tons of blooms. Both the clematis and peony bush are right outside my bedroom window, so when I opened my blinds in the morning, I was greeted by the sight of both these beauties. I had to do a double-take because I couldn't believe this could happen overnight.

Brian worked a long weekend, but had Monday off for Memorial Day. We decided to grill burgers and pork tenderloin for dinner. I was inside the house, prepping the side dishes and getting the condiments for the burgers set out. All of a sudden, there was a knock on the kitchen door, which is the side door on our house. I figured it was our next door neighbor. I opened the door, and there was Brian on his hands and knees! I yelled, "What happened?!" All I heard was something about bees, so I assumed he got stung. He said, "No, I ran from them! I have a bad Charley Horse in my leg!" I told him to walk it out and instead he sat down and was massaging his calf muscle. He got up and tried to walk and couldn't.

 We then knew it was more than just a Charley Horse. We ate dinner, I cleaned up, then went to a friend's house to borrow her crutches. The next morning, we went out to breakfast at the local greasy spoon, then it was on to the doctor. Brian has a pulled calf muscle - that much we had figured out. But it could be a tear. He's doing all the right things - icing and elevating. Now he needs to see an orthopedist.

And then today I was out running errands in the pouring rain and came home to find this:

That's our soffit and gutter on the north side of the house! No one was home at the time, so we can only assume it was the heavy rain that caused this damage. My neighbor across the street came over when he got home from work to make sure we knew and that we were OK. And my next door neighbor (the Nice One) called me to check on us, too. We put a call in to our home owner's insurance company and the adjuster is supposed to call us back tomorrow. I'm actually not that upset about it - except for my beautiful Weigela bushes. I'm just glad it wasn't on the other side of the house. That's where the patio furniture is, as well as a lot of plants and flowers. And our Nasty Neighbor's fence.

The Nice Neighbor joked that I could park my car under the overhang. I told him, heck, I was going to leave the damage as is so that our house would match the Nasty Neighbor's house. Nice Neighbor then replied that at least it would detract attention from his Weed Garden in his front yard. (He hates yard work and gardening.) Ah...if you can't joke around and laugh in these situations, you'd cry. I'll take the laughter.

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?