Posts Tagged ‘spring’

For the uninitiated, that’s short for Pottery Barn and TJ Maxx, parent company of my new favorite store Home Goods. (Mr. Official is very thankful there isn’t a Home Goods in our county :-).) PB’s catalogs are a constant source of inspiration to me, although I rarely feel the urge to splurge on the real deal.  Nor do I typically follow through on the good  and crafty ideas they put in my head.  But sometimes, they catch me in just the right mood. Even better is when the aforementioned stores have stocked up on some great imitations of PB trends.

Case in point: we have built-in bookshelves in our den and I consider them both a blessing and a curse. When we moved in, I arranged our books and a few “objets d’art” in them, but didn’t spend a lot of time or thought on composition. Fast-forward two years (yes, it’s been two years!) and last week I found myself staring at the same arrangement, and mentally comparing it to the gorgeous photos in every PB catalog. It didn’t help my mood that we were braced for another dreary, rainy weekend. (TYVM, Mother Nature.)

So before the sun came out and dried off all the rain, I got busy inside.  This is the “before” shot:   IMG_3898-001
And this is what happened after I dragged everything off the shelves and re-arranged it:
IMG_3903-002The funny thing is, there isn’t much new in there:  the painting in the upper left corner is from a wildly fun Girls-Night-In craft-a-thon that Swimmer Girl and I participated in on Friday. I bought the ginormous “L” and the mirror, and a little chippy antique-looking cube. Everything else was either in the attic or somewhere else in the house. (And yes, the cords drive me nutsy, too. Somewhere in our garage is a kit to cover those hideous things, and since I’m in the prettifying mood, I may be motivated enough to go find it.)

I also found myself in the mood for new pillows, so the couches got a much-needed boost, too, with fraction-of-the-PB-price knockoffs from TJ Maxx & Marshall’s. The coffee table got a new candle holder; the hourglass and basket-o-balls were already on hand:
IMG_3904Even the sunroom got sunnier with some yellows and blues:
IMG_3906The mantel is updated, but not quite ready for its photo shoot (next Monday, I hope.) After this whirlwind of activity, it looked like a Home Goods store had dumped its load in my den. But I had to switch gears and spend the rest of Saturday shoveling mulch and spreading pine needles. By nightfall, I managed to summon the stamina to stow all the tubs away in the attic before collapsing in a warm bathtub myself.

The forecast for this weekend is … drumroll, please … more rain. And a graduation.  At least inside we’re ready to welcome summer whenever it is ready to come and stay for a while.

Happy Monday,

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The secret life of parents

Last Friday was prom night.  Swimmer Girl is a planner, so by Friday afternoon, her dress was hemmed and hanging in her closet, her nails were gelled, her hair and makeup were done, and she was putting on the finishing touches before her date arrived. On cue, she glided down the stairs, pinned on his boutonniere, slipped on her corsage, posed for  indoor pics and outdoor pics, and was tucked into her date’s ride just before a rain shower began.

IMG_3518 - Copy (2)
During the pre-prom primping, she asked me if we were doing anything that night. I mentioned that Mr. Official and I were going to dinner in Nashville.

Now, she has seen us head out for dinner, overnight trips, weekend getaways, and even week-long vacations without her, but I guess it hadn’t yet sunk in that our lives are no longer  completely intertwined with hers.

I watched her have that moment of  stunning realization: her parents have a life, separate and apart from her and her brothers. I witnessed the same moment with each of our sons, at about the same age. While they won’t admit it, I think before this epiphany, each of our children thought we simply deflated into catatonic  2-D figures that sat on the couch and waited for them to return from dates and activities with their friends.

I guess we created that assumption. When our children were young, we were with them round-the-clock almost constantly. And on the rare occasion when we had a childless outing, we made sure they were well-cared for by adults they knew and we trusted. We made them aware of our plans in advance, and assured them we would return on schedule.  And so they grew up with a perception that their parents lacked spontaneity…or any real social life to speak of.

But now the secret is out, the jig is up. Our children see us as people who do things other than raise children. Which is a good thing, considering we have almost worked ourselves out of that gig.

Happy Monday,

P.S. If you’re wondering where my garden updates are from now on, please check out my Garden Coach blog posts. You’ll find all the gritty details on my garden week-by-week over there.

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Forget the Ides of March and all that.  Sorry Julius Caesar, but that was so last week.

It is the final week of March and the first full week of spring, according to the calendar. But the weather says otherwise. In fact, as I write this, it is snowing. Yes, snowing.


In. The. South.


It is not expected to stick or accumulate, and we should start a slow ascent into warmer temperatures as the week wears on…at least that’s what the weather men and women are promising.  One can only hope, because my Easter dress is sleeveless and my shoes are strappy, and I have no intentions of wearing a jacket.  So have a heart, Mother Nature.

It is definitely March Madness around here.  Every night the sound of rubber soles running, stopping, spinning and jumping on oak flooring reverberates throughout our home, thanks to high-def televisions in practically every room. It matters not that we have no dog in this year’s hunt…Smokey is on hiatus and resting up for fall football. We will watch teams we have never heard of play all evening long, until the Sweet Sixteen becomes four and four becomes one NCAA champ.  Then we can resume regularly scheduled programming. (Okay, I confess: I sneak off to a corner of the house and watch Dallas on Monday nights. And Duck Dynasty on Wednesdays. But otherwise, I’m all-in for whoever’s playing next.)

There is a glimmer of silver lining to this unseasonably cold weather:  I have a good reason to try my hand at one last chicken pot pie for the season (new recipe, new hopes), and a pot of Cincinnati-style chili and beans over spaghetti.  The crockpot will get a workout with a brisket that will be turned into hash and a new slow-cooked barbeque chicken with sweet potato cornbread on the side.  Then maybe…just maybe, the weather will warm and we can begin welcoming spring with grilled foods and cool salads.

Oh and one last thing…March Madness can also explain away a recent shopping spree  through Macy’s online store.  Right?  As long as the new Fiesta bowls arrive while it is still March, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it.

Happy Monday,

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Oh blog, where are thou?

Yes, I know…it’s been here all along, and somehow my attention (meager as it is) has been diverted for several weeks.  Long story short, be careful about taking on volunteer “opportunities” in your “spare” time.  The result can mean you wake up and realize a couple months have raced by and you barely looked up to  notice the clock racing or the sun rising or setting.

This past weekend was the annual springing ahead of said clock.  It is the weekend I love and dread in equal proportions each year. I love having longer evenings and here in the South, the time change is immediately followed by warmer evenings as well.  But for a few days, I struggle with the alarm going off in a pre-dawn hour.

Our Saturday was spent driving to Knoxville to watch the Vols beat Mizzou, then driving back, knowing the East/Central time zone switch would be compounded this time by the arrival of the annual time change.  It arrived right on cue, so Sunday morning came all too soon, but I was up and out the door bright and early.  After lunch, Swimmer Girl and I went shopping for Easter dresses and we emerged victorious, with two dresses in tow.  We rushed to the high school for a matinee production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”  It was very well done, but my eyelids were drooping after the intermission, so when we got home, I grabbed a nap.  Even with the nap, bedtime came early Sunday night.

And the Monday morning alarm was completely ignored.  Tomorrow, treadmill, tomorrow.
Happy Monday,

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An apt title for three reasons:

1. On a positive note, this week brought one of those annual milestones every gardener anticipates:  the tomatoes needed staking. Well, technically, they needed tied up to their stakes, since the stakes are already in place.

2. The beans are continuing to get a nightly haircut thanks to my resident rabbit.  I’m quickly depleting my surplus of blood meal and ground pepper (good excuse to buy more, I guess.)  Next week, I’m going to try a homemade spray with egg and pepper to see if I can’t deter the pest long enough to get the beans to a tougher and less-tempting stage.

3.  You’ll have to close your eyes and imagine pictures this week.  I *had* pictures I snapped yesterday afternoon before we headed out the door (I’m writing this en route to Oklahoma.)  I downloaded them to Picasa, and  instructed it to delete everything off the photo card once the download was complete. Picasa warned me that it couldn’t be undone – was I sure?  Sure I was sure.  I thought.  The download finished, and I had 25 new pics, but not the ones I snapped yesterday.  Sigh.

Anyhoo, the tomatoes are nice, sturdy plants and growing well.  The next few weeks will find me adjusting their ties ever upward.  Now to see some blooms and then fruit should start to appear. It’s a race against the thermometer and calendar at this point:  how quickly can we get blooms pollinated and fruit setting before the nighttime temps start to drift high enough to halt the production process?    I was grateful for the cooler evening temps we experienced earlier this week – a cool breeze is great for sleeping and for the ‘maters. But temps this weekend are supposed to climb close to the century mark and overnight temperatures won’t get as cool, either.

The potatoes are continuing to shoot up daily – I’m hoping they’re making lots of little tubers (tater tots?) beneath that blanket of straw and dirt.

One little row of radishes is growing fine while the other is struggling – my guess is it’s  a nutrient deficiency and possibly a low pH issue going on in this raised bed.  I’ve added some wood ash and alfalfa tea in an effort to introduce some gentle nitrogen and raise the pH but so far, the  affected plants aren’t responding to my overtures.

The okra are continuing to grow up and out, and the chard and fennel are putting out new growth and settling into their new homes.

My bird netting is probably not pinned down tightly enough to keep the truly persistent birds out of the berries, so note to self is to get some landscape fabric pins to secure it.

And that’s this week’s crop report.  Next week, pictures.  And soon, there WILL be actual crops to discuss!
Happy gardening,

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Things are booming (no “L” in that word)  in the garden. We’ve had several inches of rain over the past couple weeks, interspersed between bouts of temperatures north of 85 degrees.  In fact, as I finish up this post and wait for pictures I took early this morning to upload, it’s raining again.  Which saves on my water bill and the plants are all growing by leaps and bounds with the combination of moisture and heat.  I am piling on dirt and straw on the potatoes daily, sometimes twice a day.

vegetable garden mid-May

vegetable garden mid-May

But still no bLooms on the tomatoes or peppers.  In due time, I know…

Whatever is nibbling on the beans is continuing its nocturnal noshing.  The beans are trying mightily to move past it and putting out new leaves, but I’m not sure if they can win this game.  I’m tempted to try some commercial pest deterrent, but I hear it has a wretched odor and I don’t need to stink up the garden.  Anyone have success with a less malodorous solution to keeping rabbits and/or turtles out of the garden?

Happy gardening!

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May Flowers

For Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for May, here are some snapshots of the plants blooming in my garden today.  My borders are brand-new, so I’m just glad to have a few plants that are already in bloom.  Patience, grasshopper, patience.

From top to bottom,

Verbena bonariensis ‘Little One’, Gaura ‘Crimson Butterflies’, Lavatera sylvestris (annual mallow) ‘Cool White’

Salvia greggii ‘Heatwave Sparkle’, Cosmos atrosanguineus ‘New Choco’, Scabiosa columbaria

Nicotiana ‘Perfume Mix’, Heuchera (unknown), Lilium ‘Red Garp’

As fun as it is to peer at these fresh new blooms, I confess I’m actually more excited by the seedlings coming up and the promise of even more blooms over the next several months.

Happy blooming!


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