Category Archives: Home Life

Sub-par Vegetable Gardener

 

Things I like/am borderline obsessed with: snacks before bed, British sitcoms from the 1970′s, Italian cream sodas, polka-dot fabric, harmonicas, and cut flowers in the house.  All of the flowers, all over the house, all of the time.

As soon as we moved into a house with a little bit of land I started planting flowers.  For the first few years I would plant a vegetable garden with a couple of rows of flowers mixed in for good measure.  The truth is I’m rubbish at vegetables.  I never harvested them at the right time, I quickly ran out of ways to cook them, and my efforts to unload them on all my friends and family failed 9 times out of 10.  You can only give squash to the same group of people for so long before they start politely refusing.  But here’s the brilliant thing about flowers… no one ever turns them down!

“Would you like 74 zucchinis?”  “No?”

“Would you like a bucket of sunflowers?”  “You’d like that very much?  Well great! Because I happen to have a whole bucket full!”

Do you have any idea how much fun it is to have a bucket full of sunflowers?

{flowers from gardens past}

The Cutting Garden

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I’ve given up all pretenses.  No longer will I be a sub-par vegetable grower.  It’s all flowers from here on out.

In past years I’ve had trouble with gophers.  They’ve eaten over 70 daffodil bulbs, 4 lilac bushes, half a row of sweetpeas, and a couple of rose bushes.  I got so tired of spending time and money on flowers that only served to keep the gopher population fat and happy.  So this year Justin made me three good-sized raised flower beds, and lined the bottom of them with gopher wire.  Now I can plant to my heart’s content and gleefully thumb my nose at all those dang gophers.

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This summer I planted dahlias, two varieties of zinnias, a whole box full of cosmos, cornflowers, a row of cutting sunflowers in a variety of colors and sizes, and a few herbs.

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Right now the boxes are all full of summer flowers, but this fall I plan on planting 4 English roses, 100 daffodil bulbs, and a whole row of sweetpeas!

I thought that three boxes would be plenty but I’m already daydreaming about three more.  A girl needs room to plant flowers!  So many more types of cutting flowers that I’d like to grow… more dahlias, bells of Ireland, amaranth, hollyhocks, iceland poppies, a small hoop-house for peonies… {sigh}

Maybe someday

 

 

We make pancakes

 

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He’s my early riser.  The first one to shuffle down the hallway with sleepy eyes and tousled hair.

“I wish we could make pancakes this morning momma.”

So we do.  Because it’s summer and we have no deeds to do, no promised to keep.  We make pancakes; just the two of us.  It’s not often that my second born son gets me all to himself.

I dig through the bottom of the pantry and unearth the griddle.  He gets the Bisquick box out and reads the ingredients.  I measure milk.  He reenacts Chip & Dale cartoons for me.  He doesn’t really know which one is Chip and which is Dale (neither do I for that matter) so he calls them “funny chipmunk” and “funniest chipmunk”.

The pat of butter drops, sizzles and slides across the black griddle.  He grins.

We make pancakes in all different sizes.  He makes “baby pancakes”. I attempt to make a “G” and fail miserably.  We make heart pancakes.  We’re good a heart pancakes.

The rest of the house starts to wake up.  The kitchen is smelling good.  But for a little while it was just the two of us, making pancakes on a slow summer morning.

As the dust settles

 

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When I met my girlfriends for dinner last week Trisha leaned across the table and asked, “Is May trying to kill you?”.  I laughed because that’s exactly what it felt like.  May was trying to kill me.  My house had become a place where we dumped our things, got more things, and ran out the door again.  I’m not a person who can handle that for very long.

But what started out as a hectic month has eased into a deliciously slow pace.  School is out for the year, most of our weekly commitments are ending, and my brain has finally stopped buzzing.  The mornings are wonderful.  We wake up slowly, eat zucchini bread with a generous helping of butter, turn on the music, and stay in our pajamas.

I’m really looking forward to summer!  Trips to the library, swimming, maybe a little camping, Miss P’s 1st birthday, summer fruit, and fireworks… it sounds perfect.  The flower garden is on the verge of taking off which means bouquets all over the house!

So how will you idle away your summer?

 

Basic Flower Arranging

 

Basic Flower Arranging

Don’t you just love the flower section at the grocery store?  All those colorful bunches of flowers, packed into buckets of water.  They look so happy and fresh!  So you bring home one of those cheery bouquets, and plop it down in a vase of water.

Basic Flower Arranging

Somehow the effect is always a little disappointing.  That pretty little bouquet that caught your eye in the grocery store suddenly looks a bit disheveled, haphazard, and not quite as charming as you had hoped.

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But not to worry!  It’s nothing that a little bit of arranging won’t fix.  I know it looks like the flowers come pre-arranged but they still need some help.  So here’s a little step-by-step breakdown of basic floral arranging.

Start by opening your bouquet and laying all the flowers out onto the table.  Then sort them into the following three categories~

Basic Flower Arranging Most store-bought bouquets come with some greenery (all the leafy stuff that doesn’t have any flowers), several stems of small “cluster” flowers (meaning multiple-head small flowers), and a few big “showy” flowers (those are your large single flower stems like roses, lilies, large mums, etc).

Once you have them sorted, you want to take each stem and strip away any leaves that are on the bottom section of the stem.  If you can help it, you don’t want leaves submerged in the water.  It makes the water get yucky fast… flowers don’t like yucky water.

Basic Flower ArrangingI also pull off any damaged petals while I’m at it.

Basic Flower Arranging

Now you’re ready to begin arranging.  Start with your greenery.  This bouquet didn’t come with very much greenery, so I placed it all around the lip of the vase.  The rule of thumb with greenery is;  put any drooping greenery around the lip of the vase, and any tall, straight greenery in the center of the vase.  The straight greenery in the center of the arrangement should be slightly taller than the rest of the flowers.

Basic Flower ArrangingStarting with the greenery is important because it will give you the bones of your arrangement. It provides structure for the rest of the flowers.

Now you’re going to choose one kind of the smaller cluster flowers, and start adding them to the greenery.  I chose the purple Status flowers because I have the most of them.  As you add each stem be sure to trim a little of the end off.  The shorter stemmed flowers should go at the base of the arrangement and the taller ones in the center.

Basic Flower ArrangingOne at a time, add the rest of the cluster flowers.  You want to keep the bouquet balanced.  Don’t group all of one type of flower together, spread them out evenly.  Trim the stems as needed.  You want your bouquet to be nestled down into the vase, not standing two inches above it.

Basic Flower Arranging

Once you’ve added all your smaller cluster flowers it’s time to move onto the last type of flowers.

Basic Flower ArrangingNow it’s time for the fun part!  The showy flowers!  Again, add one stem at a time, keeping the taller flowers in the center and the shorter ones around the edge.  You don’t want any one flower to stick out too far, just have all of them nestled together.  It will take a little fussing with.  It’s a good idea to occasionally step back a few feet to see how the arrangement looks over all.

Basic Flower ArrangingAnd there you have it!  Not too hard right?

Here’s a little side-by-side comparison-

Basic Flower ArrangingI think the extra effort is worth it but maybe that’s just me.  I like playing with flowers.

Another bonus for the extra TLC; it helps your flowers last longer!

Basic Flower Arranging

Although if I had to choose, I think I prefer the carefree look of garden flowers, spilling out of pitchers or Ball jars.  No fuss, no particular color scheme, just lots and lots of pretty blooms!

Garden Flowers | InAnOrchard

But my most favorite of all, are the little arrangements that are picked with small grubby hands.  The flowers with the stems that are almost too short to get into a vase, the ones that a may or may not be weeds… but are given by blue-eyed boys with lots of love.

Favorite Flowers

 

Children’s Activity Table

Before I was a mother, I was a preschool teacher.  Those years of teaching and learning from the children in my classroom, undoubtedly impacted the way I mother my own children.

When my kiddos were pre-k/kindergarten age I started doing Activity Tables with them.

Activity Table

The purpose of the Activity Table is to give the kiddos the opportunity to follow their own natural curiousity.   When I set up an Activity Table, I choose a theme, gather a variety of supplies, and set it all up on the kitchen table.  The kiddos job is to have fun!  No end product in mind, no time limit, no specific instructions… just them exploring and creating on their own.  I’m always near by to help but I don’t interfere.

This is the first Activity Table I did with my children-

Activity Table: art mediums

The theme behind this activity was “art mediums”.  They were given a stack of papers in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  I set out watercolor paints, tempera paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, chalk pastels, charcoal pencils, and brushes in all different sizes.  They had such a good time!  I left the supplies out for the better part of the day and let them come and go as they wished.

Activity Table: art mediums

The second Activity Table we did was a Science theme.  I went to the Dollar Store and stocked up on all kinds of ingredients.  I put out cornstarch, oil, colored water with eyedroppers, shaving cream, salt, vinegar, bar soap, baking soda, sugar, and cornmeal.  The purpose of this table was to let them mix, dissolve, measure, and observe any chemical reactions that happen along the way.

Activity Table: Science

This project was messy!  No getting around the mess.  But they had a great time trying different combinations of mixtures.  I made sure I had plenty of paper towels and rags on hand to deal with any accidents.  I also made sure they were wearing play clothes.

Activity Table: Science

They most recent Activity Table we did was 3D art.  For the last three months I had been saving egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, soapboxes, half & half cartons, oatmeal canisters… anything that had an interesting shape.

Activity Table: 3D art

The purpose of this table was to use the supplies to construct something.  The boys really got into this project!

I tried to set out anything I thought they might need for assembling their 3D art.  We had white glue, a low-temp glue gun, a variety of colored and patterned tape, pipe cleaners, hole punches, Sharpies, stapler, twine, colorful poms, googly eyes, buttons, and paint.  I even set up a few cans of spray paint on a work table outside so they could spray paint the plastic containers.

Activity Table: 3D Art

G wanted to make binoculars

Activity Table: 3D Art

As always I let the children come up with their own ideas.  I made sure I was around to help with any cutting or carving but for the most part I let them do everything themselves.

These are the little egg carton turtles that Miss E made.

Activity Table: 3D Art

These are the robots that the boys made out of Miss P’s old Puff containers.  Aren’t they fun?!

Activity Table: 3D Art

This is G’s soapbox robot.

Activity Table: 3D Art

Miss E really wanted to make animals!  This is her egg carton caterpillar.

Activity Table: 3D Art

J even managed to make a few robots that had moving parts; arms or feet that could be moved back and forth.

Activity Table: 3D Art

The Activity Tables are work, and they are messy, but I don’t mind because the payoff is worth it.  Watching them happily create something on their own it totally worth the work!

If you’re interested in doing and Activity Table with your own kiddos here are some tips I learned over the years-

- Cheap plastic tablecloths are your best friend!  They are water proof and disposable.  When you’re cleaning up you can just leave any bits of paper and trash on the tablecloth, wad it all up and throw it away!

- be sure to set up near a sink, and always have paper towels and rags on hand.

-set up different “stations” at the table.  Make one end of the table a “painting station”, have designated spot for glue, and a spot for cutting and taping.  This will help keep the chaos at bay.

-if the table starts to get too messy, take a few minutes to clear away the trash and reset the stations.  Too much mess and clutter can hinder creativity.

-take a deep breath and relax!  There will be moments when you want to loose your cool, especially if your like me and have a hard time letting mess just happen :)   Messiness, clutter, and a bit of chaos is just part of the experience, and you have to learn to let go and not be too controlling.

-give the process some time.  When the kids first sit down they will be keyed-up and excited.  That initial excited frenzy will pass and that’s when the creative magic starts to happen.  Don’t give up before it gets good!

If you enjoy doing projects with your kiddos and are looking for new and fun projects to do with them, The Artful Parent is one of my favorite blogs!  Jean Van’t Hul is a never ending wealth of knowledge and creativity!  I also love her Pinterest Boards.

 

Now go out and have some fun with your kids!  And thanks for stopping by!  ~April

The Day We Met

 

My sweet baby girl, someday when you are older and we are sitting snuggling on the couch, I will tell you the story about how we first met; about the day you were born.  And this is what I will say…

First I’ll begin with a healthy dose of mom-guilt.  I will tell you what a long 9 months it was and how you completely disregarded your due date.  All along I had been calling you my June Baby, but you decided that July would be your month.  July 1st rolled around and the contractions started to come in the early morning hours.  All day I thought that July 1st would be your birthday, but once again you had other plans.  You made your entrance into the world at 33 minutes past midnight on July 2nd… but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

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It was a beautiful summer evening and this is the view I had as I looked out the window from my labor and delivery room.  Your dad was standing by ready to help, camera in hand, just as anxious as I was to finally meet you.  The nurses and the midwife bustled in and out checking on our progress.  The midwife who delivered you was a happy, easy going woman named Jenny who spoke with a lovely Australian accent.

Finally a little after midnight it was time to meet you.  I laughed through the tears as I held you in my arms for the first time.

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You were perfect.  Finally we could see the little face that would go with the name we had picked out so many months ago, Pearl… Pearl Ava.

This is were you’ll stop me and say “Momma, tell me the story about how I got my name”.  I’ll smile and tell you (probably for the 15th time) about how you got your name.  I will say “Pearl, your brother Gideon chose your name.  When he first found out that he was going to be a big brother again he said, ‘Mom, if we have a brother I want to name him James, but if we have a sister I think her name should be Pearl.’”  He decided very quickly that we were definitely having a girl, and he called you Pearl from that moment on.  Later, when we found out that you were indeed a girl, it was pretty clear to both your dad and I that Pearl had to be your name.  When Gideon found out that we decided to use the name he chosen he just beamed with pride!

Now where was I?  Oh yes, the night you were born… We spent those first early morning hours just looking at you.  Your dad and I taking turns holding you and talking about how perfect and small your little ears were.  Trying to decide which of your siblings you looked the most like.  The nurse finally took you and weighed you; 8 lbs. 9 oz.  and 21 inches long.  You were a full pound bigger than your sister was when she was born.

Over the next few days friends and family came into the hospital to love and kiss on you.  You were such a little sweet heart.  So calm and relaxed, hardly fussy at all.  I think I held you most of the time, saying your name to you over and over, as you stared up at me with your big dark eyes.

We took you home on one of the hottest days of summer, 105 degrees.  You wore the little “going home” onesie I made you and it just barely fit!

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You looked so tiny in your big car seat.

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Daddy did the honors of carrying you into the house for the first time and soon Grammy dropped off your brothers and sister (or as we called them “your fan club”).

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Your big brother said that you were “a pretty cool baby”, and that’s high praise coming from him!

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Those first few days after we brought you home from the hospital were slow and we spent them sleeping in, snuggling with you, taking turns holding you (because everyone wanted to hold you).  Every morning when the big kids would wake up, the first thing they would ask is, “Where’s Pearl?”.   No longer a, “good morning mom” just, “where’s Pearl?”.

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But your sister… oh my… how much she adored you.  She was never more than a  few feet away from you.  Changing diapers, giving baths, picking out your little outfits… she wanted to do it all.   She loved smelling your head.  She would press her little nose onto the top of your head, take in a deep breath, and then she would smile slowly.

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You surely were kissed ten thousand times that first week.

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And that’s your story, the story of your birth little Miss Pearl.  Love you much, Momma