Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Shirley Meneice Conference

If even five years ago anyone had told me that I would be attending a horticultural conference, I wouldn't have believed them.  However, that is exactly what I've been doing for the past four days.  I am a member of the Garden Club of America and my club asked if I would like to attend the Shirley Meneice conference and I jumped at the chance.  Any opportunity to learn more and explore a new place is a good opportunity in my opinion.

This years conference was in Omaha, Nebraska and focused on the prairies of the Great Plains.  We had wonderful speakers, fascinating workshops and I met lovely new friends!

We wandered the Henry Doorly Zoo, learned about restoring prairies at The Glacier Creek Preserve and took workshops at Lauritzen Gardens.

Once again, I have been reminded of the importance of preserving our most precious resources. While the prairies may not be as grand and show stopping as mountains and canyons, they are awe inspiring in their beauty in more subtle and nuanced ways.  And they too are in peril.  These fragile ecosystems are under assault from farming and development but there are people out there working to preserve, protect and renew the prairies of our middle states!
Meet Lucy, she's trained to sniff out invasive weeds!  Amazing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Dahlias

Most of my garden is in the drunk stage where everything is a little out of control and falling over! However, the dahlias are shining and really just coming into their own!  I love these flowers that come in just as it seems the summer is over.

Somehow, I've ended up with a lot of yellows and oranges, which is great for the season, but I usually tend towards pinks!  The color change has been wonderful though and I've enjoyed the arrangements.

The much beloved Cafe au lait.  Even with one of it's petals eaten it still is beautiful!

Can you spot the bee?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dinner in the Garden

Last weekend, we had a special dinner, just the four of us, in the garden.  I really wanted to celebrate all the hard work that everyone had put into making the garden this year.  We set a lovely table and had only dishes with vegetables and flowers from the garden.


Rosemary Lemonade
Squash and Ricotta Tart
Blooming Flowers Salad
Roasted Beets
Heirloom Tomatos with Burrata Salad
Rhubarb Rose Floats

I so enjoyed putting this arrangement together.  Never before have I had so many flowers that I could easily make such a large arrangement with and it was so fun to just keep adding to it!  I especially like the addition of the beans!

The Rhubarb Rose Floats had candied rose petals on top!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Inside the Shed

I love the inside of the shed.  It's very spacious inside so it has room for storage and working!

The workbench was originally at a slant for the chickens but Bryce and Al made it flat for working.  The only problem?  Years of chicken poop!  As much as I could scrape, vacuum and scrub, there was no hope for getting it all up since it was like cement.  As luck would have it, I found a sheet of zinc that was the perfect depth so we were able to fit it to the workbench.  I LOVE how it looks and works.  It will, over time, patina and change according to the elements and how it's used.  At first, I thought that the bench was going to be to high for my short self, but I've found it perfect for arranging flowers among other things.  I keep a trash can underneath for all the flower stems and leaves and throw them in the compost when I'm done.

I found this old sink trough at one of my favorite stores and immediately knew it would be great for holding soil for potting.  Bryce cut a hole in workbench and it's perfectly nestled in.

On the wall we hung up one side of an old wine bottle drying rack.  I am a big lover of terra cotta pots, especially as they age and patina, and I think the rack is a practical and beautiful way to hold all the small pots.

Perhaps my favorite thing in the potting shed is this stained glass "prescription" sign from an old apothecary.  I just think it's a really sweet nod to the fact that vegetables, flowers and working in the garden are all part of a healthy life.   Plus, the colors are my favorite.

All of our tools lined up.

This door with chicken wire was in the coop originally (probably used to store the feed) and we decided to keep it since I think it's rather charming.  It's a nice space to store things that are bulky and don't get used all that often.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Sorry for the radio silence, we had a traumatic 24 hours within the space of the last post and now, and I just haven't made the time to post the pictures of the inside of the shed.  I will get to that eventually!

First of all... Harris is fine.  Totally and truly, fine.  It could have been worse and we are thankful that it wasn't.  We've told him that he now has a good story and that there's not a thing wrong with having a tough looking scar to go along with his curly hair.  It's a good contrast :).

A few nights ago, when we were all asleep (and at a time when parents breath a sigh of relief because our babies are tucked safely into bed for the night) I was awoken by a crash.  After some initial confusion, I ran into Harris' room to find him on the floor.  I picked him up, got him to the bed and turned on the light.  It became immediately clear that he had a significant injury as there was a lot of blood (head wounds bleed a lot).  He was in a bit of shock and we weren't sure if he was just cut or had another head injury so we called 911 (there's a first time for everything!).  He doesn't have any memory of anything that happened up until he was lying on his bed with his Dad applying pressure to stop the bleeding, so we really aren't sure what happened.  Sleepwalking is the most likely scenario as he has a history of doing so.  He probably stumbled and fell face first into the edge of his desk.

After a long, and bizarre, evening in the ER we were sent home because everyone felt it was better for a plastic surgeon to do the stitching.  They irrigated the wound (horrible) and put steri strips to hold it together.  Fortunately, Harris was able to get a few hours sleep before we headed back to the hospital to get the stitching done.  We couldn't have asked for a more thorough and particular doctor to do the work on Harris.  It took an hour to complete the work and I have to say it was way more traumatic than I anticipated!  The cut was to the bone and while Harris was absolutely amazing, I was not.  I'm sure any Moms reading this will understand.

At least thirty stitches later, in three layers, Harris is stitched up and on the mend.  You guys, he was a rock star in every way.  He was in a lot of pain and he managed to find another place to go to while the work was being done (even the nurse, who kept having to look away, couldn't believe it).

We are thankful and blessed to have had the doctor that worked on him, so many friends and family that checked in on us and a boy that was strong and kept a good attitude the entire time.  Seriously, he is the toughest kid I know (sometimes too much so!).

P.S.  He says he's now joined the Harry Potter club but that's it's too bad it's not in the shape of a lightening bolt.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Coop Turned Shed

Our chicken coop that we moved and turned into a shed is finally finished!  Excuse me while I gush but I just can't believe how wonderful it turned out.  There were times where I couldn't figure out if it was actually going to come together and look good while doing it, but it did and it does.

As a reminder, this is what it looked liked!

Finishing the shed was a family effort including Harris, Grace, Al and Marilyn!  The children and I painted the outside of the shed, Marilyn primed the windows and Bryce and Al rebuilt anything that needed fixing (which was a lot).

The only thing we didn't do ourselves was the roof as we had the same company who put the barn roofs on put the same roof on the shed.

The windows are what first made me want to save the coop because they are really quite remarkable and beautiful.  They tilt out so that the shed gets a lot of ventilation but the design would make it hard for the chickens to be able to escape!  The windows were in really rough shape with many of them cracked or broken completely, and it was with disappointment that we realized they could not be saved.  Oh, how I wanted that beautiful wavy glass in the shed... but it was not to be.  We had new ones made by a local craftsman and they turned out fantastic.

Al and I found the perfect door at Restore, which is a Habitat for Humanity resale site.  For $20 we couldn't get it out fast enough!  I painted it pink and while I was disappointed in the color at first, I now like how subtle it is.

Up next will be the inside, which is my favorite part!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Back to School

The children have started school again (we must be the last in the country to start)!  This year we have a 10th grader and a 7th grader and I would be lying if I said it didn't smart a little. I mean this is Harris headed off to school the first year I was blogging.  How has so much time gone by?  After all these years of making back to school dinners and desserts (10 years so far) I think I found my favorite dessert.  This smart cookie checks off all the boxes: easy, clever/cute and really, really tasty.  I used the recipe on the back of the dark chocolate chips, put it in a tart pan and baked for about 30 minutes (it wasn't quite done which was perfection for my crew).

It was pouring down rain so pictures were taken quickly and by this Mama who was trying not to get all the junk that's by our back stoop in the picture (shoes, boots, umbrellas, you name it, it's been there).

Grace wasn't thrilled because it was dress down/spirit day at school!

Also?  When I picked up Harris I thought he must have had a great day at school because he literally skipped to the car.  Turns out that no, he was just high stepping as to not mess up his new shoes.  What is up with 12/13 year old boys and their shoes?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Labor Day Picnic

I can hardly believe that yesterday was the last unofficial day of summer!  We spent much of the day working on various projects (me in the garden, Bryce working on the bathroom and the children trying to pretend school isn't about to start) but we did end the day with a lovely picnic with the O's.

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