The Boy Turns Ten

Ten | Inanorchard

This spring my first born turned 10-years-old.  One decade of having this blue-eyed boy in my life.

We don’t always through huge birthday parties, but 10 is momentous number that deserved a big shin-dig.  I asked him what kind of party he wanted, thinking he might want a big Minecraft birthday will all his friends.  But he wanted a family party in the back yard, with swimming and lots of good food.  I like the way that boy thinks.  His Daddy made tri-tip sandwiches.

Ten | Inanorchard

All the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a few classmates came for dinner and swimming last Saturday night.  It was so breezy but the kiddos didn’t mind in the least bit.  They all jumped in the pool.  They spent the entire night going back and forth from the trampoline to the pool.

Ten | Inanorchard

The one special request J made was to have a pinata, but I came up with another idea.  I filled balloons with candy, then I hot glued the candy-filled balloons to a big piece of cardboard.  The kids took turns throwing darts and shooting the balloons with BB guns.

Ten | Inanorchard

They had a great time with the game!  I’m glad, because filling all those balloons with candy was A LOT of work!  Unfortunately, it was so popular that Mr. G has requested the same game for his next party.

Ten | Inanorchard

Cousins horsing around on the porch :)

Ten | Inanorhcard

 

Ten | Inanorchard

My boy isn’t a cake kind of kid.  For years he would request black berry pie for his birthday celebration.  A couple years back he started asking for strawberry pizza which is just fine with me!  Just as delicious, but half the work :)

Ten | Inanorchard

The night was so windy we weren’t able to get a “blow-out-the-candles” picture but we all sang a rousing “Happy Birthday” to the grinning boy.

Ten | Inanorchard

 

This beautiful gal right here is responsible for almost all of these pictures.  I was hustling and bustling around, while she picked up my camera and worked her camera magic.  Alli, your are the official birthday photographer from now on!

Ten | Inanorchard

He opened presents as the sun began to set and the evening turned cold.  We all hunted around for sweatshirts and jackets and brewed a pot of warm coffee.

Ten | InanorchardTen | Inanorchard

Grammy was extra cold so we broke out the thick socks and blankets for her.Ten | Inanorchard

 

Ten | Inanorchard

Ten | Inanorchard

I couldn’t be prouder of this guy.  He’s thoughtful, so tender and caring with the younger kids, his ever-inquisitive mind, the way he loves being with people, and the excellent big brother he’s been.  He’s my right-hand guy.  It fills me with all kinds of sentimental, misty-eyed thoughts when I think about the tiny body I held in my arms 10 short years ago.

Love you my boy

This Week in the Garden

The Garden | Inanorchard

There have been some changes in the garden this month. Big changes!  I have grass growing around my flowerbeds!  Gorgeous, green, soft, lovely grass.  Which officially makes my little cutting garden the prettiest spot in the Western Hemisphere.  Not really.  Just in my mind.

The Garden | Inanorchard

A friend of ours just finished laying sod in his backyard.  He texted Justin saying he had leftover sod that we could have if we wanted to haul it off.  In one hour my powdery dirt paths where transformed!  I won’t even tell you how much time I spend just staring at it.  Now when I water in the morning my feet don’t get covered in mud!

The Garden | Inanorchard

The summer flowers are doing wonderfully.  Everything I planted has come up and is thriving.  It will still be 3 or 4 weeks before I start getting blooms from the summer flowers but my roses and sweet peas are still providing small bouquets for the house.The Garden | Inanorchard

This little one is always by my side when I work in the garden.  She has her own little watering can, which she mostly uses to get muddy from her blond head all the way down to her tiny toes.The Garden | Inanorchard

The Garden | Inanorchard

I thought my sweet peas where just about to fade for the season.  The blooms had all been picked and for weeks there were no new buds to be seen.  Suddenly in just the last week the vines are covered with a second flush of sweet pea buds.The garden | Inanorchard

My dahlias are still just wee little things, with the exception of the mammoth dahlia in the back corner.  That plant is one of the few I left in from last season and it’s huge!  The stalks are like trunks and it’s covered in blooms.  The rest were newly planted this year and are taking their sweet time growing.The Garden | Inanorchard

The sweet peas and English roses have been gorgeous!  I fill all my wide-mouth jars with them and place them around the house.  Occasionally an arrangement will find it’s way to a friend’s house as well.  I really would like to plant twice as many sweet peas next year.  This year’s crop has been lovely but I’d like to get more blooms with longer stems. The Garden  | Inanorchard

I love the way these bundles of sweet peas make the house smell.
The Garden | Inanorchard

So here is the cutting garden progress so far-

March 2015The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

April 2015In the garden | Inanorchard

May 2015The Cutting Garden | InanorchardI love all the green in the garden but I cannot wait so see some color in those beds!

Goodnight my friends, see you very soon

April

 

Away We Went

Six days and five nights at the beach, just us, relaxing and playing together.  It was exactly what our busy schedule needed.

InAnOrchard

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Those first few days at the beach the wind beat at us relentlessly.  It didn’t keep the kiddos out of the water, but we only managed to stay down on the beach for an hour at a time, before we’d run back to the condo to get dry and warm.InAnOrchard

The evenings are so beautiful.  Throwing on sweatshirts and running down to the sand to watch the sun sink into the ocean, is pretty much the perfect way to end each day.InAnOrchard

Sunday morning we woke up to the perfect day.  The wind was just a pleasant breeze, the sun was warm on our shoulders and heated the sand beneath our feet.InAnOrchard

We played in the water until our toes got too cold and then sat in the warm sand to get dry and warm again.  InAnOrchard

Miss E wanted to try the boogie board this year.  She loved it!  Waiting for just the right wave, hopping on the board and riding it all the way back to the sand. She’d jump up with a grin and was doing it all over again!InAnOrchard

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I love her playful and adventurous spiritInAnOrchard

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We spent all of Sunday and Monday on the beach.  We’d wander up to the condo in time to eat a meal, nap the baby, and then back down again.InAnOrchard

Tuesday morning was a different story.  We woke up to gray skies and an amazing breakfast made by Daddy.  Justin got up and made the most delicious chorizo breakfast burritos.  So good!!InAnOrchard

Since the beach was a little too cold and gray we decided to do some hiking around Point Lobos, just outside of Carmel.  InAnOrchard

Unbeknownst to us, this is the time of year that the Harbor Seals and the Sea Lions flock to Point Lobos to give birth to their pups.  We got to peek at several newly born seal pups.   InAnOrchard

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We hiked two trails and then stopped to have a picnic lunch next to one of the coves.  InAnOrchard

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There’s also a small museum on Point Lobos telling it’s history, which included a small Whaling Company that used to hunt Whales just off the point.InAnOrchard

The boys stopped frequently to look for Sea Otters.  Sadly we never spotted even one otter. InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

After we left Point Lobos, on a whim we decided to visit the Mission at Carmel.  J has been studying California Missions this year at school and he was excited to see one in person.InAnOrchard

The Mission is a beautiful sight to behold.  The garden and grounds are amazing!InAnOrchard

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Not to mention the artistry of the building itself.InAnOrchard

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The challenge of staying at the beach in a smallish condo, is keeping the kiddos occupied when we aren’t on the beach.  Sometimes the quarters seemed a little too close.
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We did our best to go on walks, take advantage of the basket ball and tennis courts, watch movies, play board games, and put together puzzles.  But there’s no getting around the fact that we also spent a percentage of the time getting on each other’s nerves :) InAnOrchard

The path around the duck pond behind the condos, was a little wet in places, not that the children minded in the least bit.InAnOrchard

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We finally said goodbye to the beach.  The children all had long faces the night before we left.  Each of them saying “I don’t want leave yet!”  But that next night when I tucked them in their own beds and kissed their foreheads they each sighed, and smiled and said, “It’s good to be home mom.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Spring Sewing

As I was scrolling through the last few months of pictures, I realized I had quite a backlog of sewing projects that I’ve never posted about.  So this is going to be a mash-up of all the projects I done over that last 3 months or more.  It’s going to be a little hodgepodge, a little this and that… hope you don’t mind.

I made the girls their first matching dresses. I used my favorite pattern, the Geranium Dress Pattern, using the cap-sleeved version.  The bodice is made from a lovely yellow dot fabric I found and Joann’s, and the skirt is made from a vintage sheet I bought at a thrift store.  I initially bought the vintage sheet to make pillows for Miss E’s daybed, but when I saw how perfect the dotted fabric looked with the vintage floral pattern, I couldn’t resist making the girls dresses.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

It’s not easy to get pictures of these two!Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I recently bought an Oliver + S, Jump Rope pattern.  I loved this skirt pattern, with its unique pockets and buttons down the front.  Miss E loves her Simple Skirts, but I wanted to have a skirt pattern that was more professional looking.  Something that could be worn to church and not just another play skirt.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

The fabric is Robert Kaufman’s Dot Chambray In Indigo.  It is lovely in every way.  It’s that classic Chambray color with small white dots woven in.  The fabric texture is soft and light, perfect for a summer skirt.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I wanted to snap a couple of pictures of Miss E wearing the skirt but she was too busy making silly faces at her brothers, who were standing just out of the shot.  Miss P wanted to get in on the action as well.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

She also got yet another Simple Skirt for wearing to school and playing outside.  Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

These Simple Skirts are still her favorite.  Of all the things I have made her, those little cotton skirts get worn more than any other article of clothing (store bought or mamma made).Spring Sewing | InanorchardI also had fun making a few Onesies for my dear friend’s newborn son.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

They’re always a fun and satisfying project.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I spent an afternoon making a big stack of burp clothes for friends.
Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

Miss P got another Charlie Tunic dress.  This pattern has been a great play dress for Miss P.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I also made a set of coordinating “sister skirts” for a friend’s darling daughters.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I have slowly but surely been teaching myself to sew with knit fabrics.  My girls love wearing knit dresses, and you really can’t beat cotton knit for comfort and ease of care.  There is however, a pretty steep learning curve for sewing with knit fabric.  It’s taken me a while to figure out a system that works for me.  I use a combination of my serger and a stretch double needle for hemming and necklines.  So far I have a love/hate relationship with double-needles.  When they work, they’re amazing! When they don’t… let’s just say tears are shed and swear words muttered under my breath.  Also, do you know how awful it sounds when you break your double needle (which it has a tendency to do)??  It makes a horrible sound, and it feels like your machine is going to shatter into a million pieces!

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

This pattern is The Skater Dress by Kitschy-Coo (which it seems is not available for sale right now).  I’ve made three for Miss E so far.  It’s a great pattern with excellent instructions!  The sizes seem to run large though.  I ended up making Miss E a size 4, lengthened to a size 5, which smaller than I usually make.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

This yellow/floral version was her favorite.  She wore it every time is was clean.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I also made this little sleeper as a gift for my friend’s newborn daughter.  It’s a free pattern.  I love the way it turned out, but it was a struggle to make.  The neckline and wrist bands were the difficult parts.  Keeping that little neck and wrist bands from stretching out and warping was a challenge.  In fact, I ended up scrapping the first sleeper I made and starting over!  I was so determined to see this one through to the end, and have the finished product I envisioned.  It was a good learning experience, albeit VERY frustrating.

Spring Sewing | InanorchardThat’s all for the moment, but I’m currently in the middle of making myself a few skirts.  I’m learning how to put in an invisible zipper.  Actually, truthfully, I’m in the middle of removing my first invisible zipper from a skirt I’m making.  Also, I plan to make Miss E several versions of Dana’s First Day Dress pattern.  Hopefully I can post about those projects soon!

Thanks for stopping by and making it to the end of this patched-together post

This Week in the Garden

In the Garden | Inanorchard

First, let’s talk sweet peas.  It’s been three years since I’ve had sweet peas growing in my garden and I missed them.  They are climbing and blooming beautifully right now.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Miss E and I bring them into the house a handful at a time.  Every time is see them sitting in my kitchen window sill it makes me smile.

My plan to have two harvests of sweet peas is working perfectly so far.  The seeds I sowed in the fall are tall and have lots of flowers, and the seeds I started indoors in February have been transplanted and are just starting to climb the trellis.  I think as long as the heat doesn’t become to oppressive, the second flush of sweet peas should do great.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

A few weeks ago Justin had 10 yards of compost brought in to amend our very sandy soil.  The kiddos helped me remove last year’s dirt from the beds and add compost to each box.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Miss P never passes up and opportunity to get good and filthy.  Have you ever seen such a ragamuffin!?

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Justin got the tiller up and running for me.  I spread compost over a 15 x 15 foot square and he tilled it into the patch.  I marked off rows and got all the summer seeds planted!  Now that my beds are filled with roses, dahlias, and bulbs; I don’t really have room for my summer seeds in the beds.  So the cutting garden has grown.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

The seeds I started in peat pots have been transplanted as well.  I did have a few disappointments this season.  My larkspur and Nigella seeds didn’t germinate at all.  So disappointing!  But I’m not giving up on them yet.  I really think I can get them to grow, if I get them sown in the fall instead of early spring.  It’s all a learning process, and fortunately a packet of seeds isn’t too costly of a mistake.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

All my English roses have been transplanted into their new home and they are thriving happily.  I think they know that they’re the stars of the garden ;)

After I transplanted them, and built water rings around them, the whole crew came out to see them get their first watering with the brand new watering wand.  What can I can I say, we live an exciting life.  In the Garden | Inanorchard

 

In the Garden | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

The sweet peas and English roses love each other.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

 

So here’s the progress so far in this year’s garden-

The cutting garden in February
The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

The cutting garden in AprilIn the garden | Inanorchard

 

The next month will show big changes as the dahlia’s and summer seeds start to grow.  It’s going to be a fun year in the garden!

Everyday Magic

 

InAnOrchard

I wish that somehow I could wrap up all these pictures into one tidy “Week that Was” post, or connect them by some profound or humorous thread. But really it’s just a hodgepodge of all the little things that make our weeks go by so swiftly (with a milestone thrown in for good measure).InAnOrchard

This past week I woke up early one morning and shuffled to the coffee maker.  As I was grinding the beans and filling the pot, I glanced out the kitchen window at my neighbor’s field.  It was beautiful in the morning light.  Like a scene out of a book. I half expected to see Darcy walking out to meet Elizabeth in the middle of the sun-drenched, misty field.

The coffee was left unmade on the counter.  I hastily ran out to and snap a few pictures in my flip-flops and p.j.s.
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This year I couldn’t resist doing a little something with the kiddos on St. Patrick’s Day.  So we made green cupcakes.
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InAnOrchard

I found these fun rainbow candy strips in the dollar section at Target a last month.  I snipped them in half and we made rainbows with marshmallow clouds.  The children’s delight was only surpassed by my own excitement ;)  We jumped in the van and made cupcake deliveries to friends and cousins.InAnOrchard

 

Miss P is getting very close to being two.  She is a busy girl, who likes to explore all-the-live-long day!  It can make our homeschooling day… interesting.  This is one of the ways I’ve been able to keep her occupied lately.  A small tub of lukewarm water, kitchen utensils, with plastic toys and the baby girl is suddenly very content.
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We decided to go on a day trip with the kiddos this past Saturday.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a weekend rut of “we need to do this, this, and that”, and we forget to have fun.  We considered several day trip destinations but ended up taking the kids to Sutter’s Fort.  What a great place to explore with the kiddos!  Our oldest son J has been studying the Western Frontier at school so he was particularly excited to visit the fort.

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The docents who volunteer at Sutter Fort were great!  They involved the children in whatever activity they were doing, and told stories about life in the Fort as they worked.  Miss E got to use the rug loom and learned about being a Weber.InAnOrchard

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We looked at guard towers, old cannons, and rifles so big they took three men to them hold up.InAnOrchard

At first Miss P was more than content to sit perched on her daddy’s back eating snacks, but before long she was running along behind the big kids.
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As one of J’s school assignments he had just finished reading “Patty Reed’s Doll”.  It’s based on the true story of Patty Reed who traveled by wagon with her family and the Donner party.  It was a fascinating read for Jude (it left out all of the gruesome details we associate with the Donner Party), and it centered around the little girl, Patty Reed and the dolly she had tucked into her dress, after her family was forced to leave most of their possessions on the trail.   The Reed family was eventually rescued and brought back to Sutter’s Fort.  Upon her death Patty Reed willed her little doll to the Sutter’s Fort museum.  InAnOrchard

I think it amazed J to see it, the real doll carried by Patty Reed herself, sitting under glass all these decades later.InAnOrchard

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It really is a beautiful old building.  Simple, utilitarian, but beautiful all at the same time.InAnOrchard

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There were quite a few activities set up around the Fort for the children to try.  They had candle dipping, corn husk baby dolls, bread baking, and even a cannon demonstration (which sadly we missed by only a few minutes).InAnOrchard

InAnOrchard

It is such a great place to take young children!  If you haven’t taken a tour you really should.

 

This little girl turned six this week.  I know I’m completely biased but I really love the girl she’s becoming.  So excited about life, full of curiosity, and fierce determination.
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And right now this yellow bike is her whole world.

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She rides it first thing in the morning, as soon as she gets home from school, even in the dark.  As soon as she sees her daddy’s car pull into our lane each evening, she runs out to meet him, jumping up and down, saying, “Daddy will you take me on a bike ride down the canal?!”.   He always smiles at her, sets is work things down, changes his shoes, and before I know it I see them flying past the back of the property on their bikes.  He is always close behind her, she is pedaling like mad with a wide grin on her face.

Yes, 6 looks good on you little girl

Birthday Tea

Birthday tea | Inanorchard

Two cousin-friends, born only 11 days apart, turned 6-years-old this March.  Jessica (my sister-in-law) and I have been daydreaming about throwing a tea party for the girls for a number of years now, and this seemed like the perfect time. The girls have the sweetest group of friends from their Kindergarten class, so we invited them (along with Miss E’s other sweet cousin friend) to an afternoon tea, hosted at Grandma W’s house.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

The table was set up on the front porch, with paper lanterns hanging from the eaves.  Jess and I thought it would be fun to do a more colorful and playful version of a fancy tea; we used bright colors and my Mother-in-laws crystal tea cups and clear glass plates.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I loved the contrast of the bold, black gingham with the dainty doilies and turquoise jars stuffed with pink and white flowers.  It’s always so rewarding to have and idea in your head and see it turn out exactly the way you pictured it.

We assembled all the tea luncheon essentials; fruit, mini cupcakes, tea sandwiches, hear-shaped cream-filled cookies, eclairs, a token vegetable, and hot tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I found these darling white berry baskets at Michael’s and we used them for party favor bags and place markers at the table.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Each box was filled with jelly beans, a sucker, and a shiny new jump-rope.  Jess and I found those darling jump-ropes in the dollar section of Target.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After we got the table set and all the tea things in order the guests began to arrive!  Each girl came in the sweetest tea party frock, with braids in their hair, pearls around their neck, flouncy skirts and spring sandals… it was pretty adorable!

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

We started the party off with a simple craft project.  We wanted the girls to have a craft activity, but we had to be careful about the mess since they were all dressed so beautifully.  Painting was out of the question, so we decided to let them decorate small ring boxes with colored tissue paper and paper flowers.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After the craft it was time for tea!  You could tell that each little girl was so excited about the fancy tea table.  Even before it was time to eat, they were hovering excitedly around the table.  I did a short story time for the party guests, while Jessica and the grandmas made tea and set out the food.

Birthday Tea | Inaorchard

We filled the center of the table with all the treats.  I think they where all a little surprised when we let them each pile their plates with whatever tea goodies they wanted.  The carrots were not as popular as the eclairs (no surprise there)

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Of course the real hit of the tea party was the sugar cubs and tiny stirring spoons.  I won’t even tell you the number of sugar cubs those girls put in their 8 oz. tea cups!Birthday tea | Inanorchard

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I loved the small crystal tea cups!  They were just perfect.  Tiny curved handles and even a little pedestal at the bottom; you could tell the the little girls were pleased with them.  We served sparkling lemonade as well, just in case some of the quests didn’t prefer the taste of tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Little Miss P was toddling around in all the tea party hustle and bustle.  She was such a sweetheart but shortly after tea she was getting a little tuckered out.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Daddy made a surprise visit to the tea party to give the birthday girl a hug and wish her happy birthday.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

This probable comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read this blog, but I have had a thing for flowers ever since I was Miss E’s age.  I loved looking at pictures of bridal bouquets, and I remember seeing pictures in story books of girls wearing crowns of flowers around their head.  I always wanted to wear a flower crown.  So I made two for the birthday girls to wear to tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After the girls ran wild through the yard for about a half an hour, we got the mini cupcakes out and sang happy birthday to the birthday girls.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Finally the moment Miss E had been waiting for all day arrived; opening presents!

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I love watching them all lean forward with anticipation as each gift was opened.

Birthday Tea | Inanochard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

By the time the party was wrapping up, the little ring boxes had completely dried.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I was so pleased with the way they turned out, I thought the girls did a great job decorating them.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

As one last parting gift, Jess and I slipped a small flower ring in each box.  My mom was sweet enough to make these ring for me from scratch.  She bent and smoothed and polished each ring by hand.Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

It was a fantastic day!  I think the girls made some sweet memories together.  It’s such a fun time in their lives, and I am loving watching them experience the carefree excitement of being six-years-old.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Happy Birthday sweet girls!  Love ya lots!

 

The Week that Was

Our week in pictures and a few words to go them~

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

 

PicMonkey Collagepearl

 

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

 

My thought for the week: Listening to bloggers having angst about their blog, is on my top 10 list of pet peeves.  So I’m walking a fine line here, when I say I’ve had doubts from time to time about having my own blog. The world of personal blogs can be so warped, and unhealthy; where we all read about each other’s lives though a very small, but public window.   I see the subtle and erosive effects this can have on my own mind, and the way it can distort reality; not only in the way I see my own life but lives of other woman and mothers.  Am I contributing to the “my life is better than your life” mentality that plagues social media?  When thoughts like this begin to roll around in my brain I ask myself, “Is it time to set this down and walk away?”

But at the end of the day, what I keep coming back to is the heart and soul of this little blog; the place where I narrate the story that unfolds in front me, day after precious day.  My heart tells me that’s worth something.  For 8 years now this is the place I have written our story, the small victories, the tough days, the milestones, the sad moments, the funny stories… it’s all right here for us to look back on when these days have become memories.  So I think I’ll keep at if for a while longer, and I hope you feel welcome to enjoy the journey with us.

~April

 

 

This Week in the Garden

We are entering year number two for the cutting garden, and this year’s garden is going to be stunning!  At least that’s the way I have pictured it in my head, over and over, all winter long :)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Justin made my flower boxes for me last spring, just in time to plant dahlias, and summer cutting flowers.  Unfortunately, it was already too late in the season for spring cutting flowers, bulbs, or rose bushes.  While I completely enjoyed my summer flowers, I was looking forward to getting an early start on the cutting garden, by having a crop of spring flowers that would transition into summertime.  This fall I was able to plant 50 daffodil bulbs and 4 varieties of sweet peas.  All 50 bulbs have come up and I’ve been able to bring small bundles of daffs and snapdragons in the house!  The sad news is only 2 of my 4 varieties of sweet peas germinated.  SO disappointing!  I held back 4 packages of sweet peas and started them a couple of weeks ago in peat pots.  I have them tucked away in a nice place on the back porch.  If they germinate and transplant well I could end up with 6 varieties of sweet peas and two harvests!  But you know the old saying “Don’t count your seedlings before they sprout…”

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The weather has be gorgeous.  We have beautiful spring-times here in the valley but this spring has outdone it’s self.  This week I took the opportunity to turn over the beds and amend the soil.  The soil in my beds is a little too sandy, so it needed some compost and garden soil added to it, along with a some fertilizer.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Naturally I had my gardening assistant with me.  She likes dirt.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I realized too late that I had purchased two seed varieties that should have been sown in the fall along with the sweet peas.  Apparently Larkspur and Nigella like to be tucked in the ground through the winter, at least in climates that have mild winters (like the winters we have here in California).  I got them in the ground as soon as I realized my mistake.  I’m hoping that the month of cold nights will be enough to get them started.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Here’s a glimpse at my “spring-time bed”.  I’ve dedicated this bed to spring flowers.  I’ll be able to use it again mid summer to sow a second harvest of sunflowers and zinnias (if all things go according to plan!)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

These beautiful English ladies will be joining the garden this spring and I am absolutely giddy about it.  Giddy I tell you!  I’ve been in love with David Austin roses for as long as I can remember.  They are the quintessential English cabbage rose.  They are so old-fashioned, dreamy and romantic looking.  I know it’s just my personal bias but I think hybrid tea roses looks so sterile and boring next to these beauties.  If you’d like to spend an hour of pure happiness just stop by the David Austin website and feast your eyes on rose heaven!  The website also has a link to nurseries throughout the U.S that sell their roses.  I got my at The Greenery in Turlock, CA.  These gals will stay put in their pots until the first week of April, when they will move to their permanent home in the cutting garden.  I plan on planting herbs around them.  There are quite a few herbs that make wonderful greenery in flower arrangements (but more on that later).

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

And this is the cutting garden as of this moment.  Spring bulbs shooting up, sweet peas just beginning to vine, Nigella and Larkspur freshly planted, and the beds being turned over and the soil being amended.  This is shot you will see a lot this summer.  I thought it would be fun to document the garden’s changes by taking this same picture throughout the season and posting it here on my blog.  I hope you don’t mind, but the blog will, now and again, function as my personal garden journal.  This is the most convenient place to record the successes and failings of the garden.  It really is such a learning process but I’m loving every step of the way!

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The summer lineup has been chosen (mostly, there might be a few last minute additions).  I’ve got the seeds sorted into groups.  One of the key elements of flower gardening is figuring out which seeds need to be started and transplanted, and which should be sown directly into the soil.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I’ve been reading Sarah Raven’s “Grow Your Own Cut Flowers” book and learning so much about cut flowers.

Anyway, if you’re interested, here is a list of the summer flowers that I’ve chosen for the 2015 season (click on the links if you’d like to see a photo of the flower and read up on it):

Bachelor Buttons (these did wonderfully in last year’s garden and I’m putting in twice as many in this year)

Billy Balls (or Sun Balls) these are really popular flowers right now, and I couldn’t resist trying to plant some.  These need to be started and then transplanted after the last frost.  I’m very curious to see if these will grow in my zone.

Hare’s Ear- this is a beautiful “filler greenery” that I have often purchased from local floral shops.  The texture and yellow-green color of this plant is stunning in floral arrangements.  This seed is a gamble, but I’m hoping it pays off in a big way (I’ll keep you updated).

Cosmos- these are so easy to grow!  Usually.  Last year they gave me fits and refused to bloom, but normally they are delightful to have in the garden.  I’m hoping the improvements I made to the soil will solve my cosmos woes this time around.  I purchased several varieties; “double click” mixture,  “sea shell” cosmos, and the standard “Sensation mix”

Sunflowers- naturally.  No cutting garden would really be complete without cutting sunflowers.  I got four packs of Renee’s Garden sunflowers.

Zinnias- I purchased Johnny’s Giant Benary’s mix

Amaranthus (Love lies bleeding)- this is gorgeous flower that grows like a weed and looks so beautiful draping down the sides of a floral arrangement

Of course the Dahlias will be returning in all their summery glory!

This year all my flower seeds have either come from Johnny’s Seeds or Renee’s Garden.

And that’s it for now!  Hope you liked the little tour of the spring garden and the summer line up!  ~April

Love Fills in the Gaps

I still remember my mom planting snapdragons that spring.  I was four and she was adding pansies and snapdragons to the flowerbeds in front of the garage.  I was at her side as usual.

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“Do you know why these are called Snapdragons April?”

I shook my head as she bent over and plucked a small flower from the plant.  She gently held the bloom between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a little squeeze.  Much to my delight the little flower’s mouth opened and closed.

“Because it looks like a little dragon’s head and it’s mouth opens and closes”, she said as she smiled and put the flower in the palm of my hand.

Snapdragon memories | Inanorchard

We are so quick to remember the harm a careless word or action can cause our children.  We worry and fret about the damage we might cause, and the impact it could have on their lives.  But there is redemption in the small things.  You may be flawed but to them you are magical.  You are the keeper of secrets; you open the world up to them one small discovery at a time.  You are mom. You sooth the hurts, you take the ordinary and make it memorable.  The way a common field clover can make a crown, the names of the flowers growing in the yard, putting the crayons in rainbow order, pouring root beer over the ice cream, reading that picture book again, slicing strawberries and eating them over the sink, chalk on the sidewalk…all those little memories that have the power to tip the scales.  Love fills in the gaps.

Make those mistakes, it’s going to happen.  Ask for forgiveness.  Remember that there are hundreds of ways to say “I love you”.  Keep saying it.  When it’s all said and done, and by the grace of God, your children will remember a home that was love, a home that was safe.  That’s my prayer anyway.

Snapdragon memories | Inanorchard