Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mapping The Garden

Last spring, I made the smart decision to map out my garden. I wanted a record of what seeds I planted and where. This helped me immensely as the season progressed. I learned a lot about what seeds did well in certain locations, and what seeds would no grow in other locations.

For example. the corner of the yard that gets plenty of afternoon sun seemed to be the best location for seed planting. Cosmos, zinnias, and bachelor buttons did well. The delphinium did not grow from seed, the marigolds were too spindly, and a few of the hollyhocks did grow, but not to maturity.

The opposite corner of the yard gets mostly morning sun, and it was not a good spot for seed planting. The marigolds and nasturtiums only began to grow and bloom at the end of the season, and they were spotty at best.

I will have to come up with a better plan for this shadier spot under the evergreens. If anything will grow here, it will have to be larger established plants that can handle part sun and part shade. Maybe hostas and impatiens...if the dog will leave them alone!

Most of the seeds in the herb garden did best when planted in pots, although the dill did grow from seed. In the end, I did have to purchase some chives and rosemary plants from the garden center.

Now that the season is winding down, I will take some notes on the back of these garden maps and store them for next year.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Next House!


Something very exciting happened this weekend: I found our next house!

Isn't it adorable?

This quaint little Craftsman cottage is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan...just forty-five minutes from family. We've been considering Ann Arbor as a possible relocation spot for a long time. Close to family, great schools for Sam (hello, University of Michigan!), a vibrant city with so many beautiful parks and destinations nearby, and yet close to the airport for my husband's travel.

This little house is the perfect downsize for us...just enough living space with a great yard, all in a walking and biking community .

It sounds perfect, right?

There's just one little catch.

We can't buy it. We have to win it.

Yep. It's the HGTV Urban Oasis 2016 Home.

Fully remodeled, fully furnished...just pack your clothes and move on in!

After a year and a half of working on the Fixer Upper house, this sounds really good to me!

The sweepstakes begins October 4th, and you can count on me entering daily. But if you'd like a chance to win it, too, here's the info:

And if you'd like to give it to me after you win it, well gee, thanks so much! That's so sweet of you! I'll take it! 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

F.O.: Finished Object!

Hallelujah! I finished my stitching project this weekend! It is an UnFinished Object no longer!

This was a pretty tricky project. For starters, counting on a long, narrow project can be really tough. But the hardest part? The Nun stitch at the end. I'm thinking it was aptly named...probably a stitch the Nuns required when they got tired of rapping students on the knuckles with rulers.

"Go to the principals office and give me one hundred Nun stitches!"

It wouldn't have been so bad if the Cordonnet thread didn't tangle and knot for every other stitch, sending me stark raving mad at times. I had to go verrrrry sloooow. But I did it!

Now I have this sweet ruler holder that I can keep handy near my stitching chair.

Happy Day!

On to the autumn projects now.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Friday, September 23, 2016

So Stinkin' Silly!

Jemma has had an eventful week!

It all began last Thursday, when she finally had her surgery to get spayed. We waited a little longer to have this done. We'd read some reports that a lot of folks in the dog community think that early spaying can lead to hip dysplasia and bone density loss in larger breed dogs. It makes sense when you think that they probably still need those hormones for growth. Jemma is nine months old now, and it seems as though she has nearly reached her max size. We managed to get her in before she went into heat, thankfully.

She spent a day or two in this comfy pillow. The Zen Collar was so much nicer than those plastic cones from the vet's office.

How handy! Whenever you are tired and need a nap, you can just plop on your zen collar and have a rest!

She's recovering quickly, and ready for frisbee chasing and her usual antics.

Which brings me to last night.

Luke let Jemma out in the evening, and commented on how Jemma had chased a rabbit out of the yard.

And then he let her inside and asked me "What's that smell?"

It wasn't a rabbit. It was a skunk. And yes, Jemma got sprayed.

Spayed and sprayed, all in one week!

I think I need that Zen Collar for myself!

This photo makes me laugh because she is so obviously smiling! Always up to mischief. That's my girl!

We often remind ourselves "She's just a puppy."

This craziness will pass one day soon. In the meantime, I'm cleaning floors and soaking our clothes in vinegar and baking soda solutions. We've opened all the windows to air out the house, and I'm lighting lots of candles and being liberal with Febreeze sprays. Next up: schedule a bath for Miss Jemma!

Any tips for skunk deterrents and smell removal?

Blessings on your Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I've been working on an organizing project with my needle art this week, trying to clean out a storage closet and make it a little bit neater. As I sorted patterns and threads and linens, I came across a LOT of projects that I'd stitched, but never completed to the finished project stage.

U.F.O.s, or Unfinished Objects in the language of artisans.

I don't like examining these items too closely because I'm afraid they'll reveal more about me than I want to know. Questions like "How many Octobers have passed since these projects were tossed in the 'To Be Finished' pile?"

Other questions like "Why am I so good at starting things, but not nearly as successful at finishing things?"

Questions like "Why can't I finish this first novel when I have three other novels rattling around in my brain just waiting to be written?"

Enough with the UFOs!

This week, I will finish a project, even if it frustrates me to no end!

This pattern that I've been working on for weeks? Prime example.

I've had to FROG this one a few times. FROG, as in "Rip it! Rip it!", as in " take out stitches and start over again". I'm no fan of frogging, but there were a few times that it had to be done.

The end is in sight! I just need to finish this time consuming Nun stitch around the border, attach a few embellishments, fold the thing over and sew it up the sides. And I need to finish this quickly because today is the first day of fall and I have a LOT of Autumn projects in the queue.

Tell me, do you have a lot of UFOs floating around your house too?

Monday, September 19, 2016

That Thing You Can't Pass Up

The last thing I needed to buy...china dishes. Seriously, I have boxes of inherited china in storage that I don't know what to do with, so we schlep it from house to house. Not the sort of useful, pretty china that would look lovely in any decor. Noooo! We're talking fancy froo froo china with gold trim adorned with Greek goddesses. One day, I will unload that stuff at a consignment shop. I promise myself that it's not going to make the next move with us.

So yeah, the last thing  I should be buying is china.

And yet these three china plates kept calling my name. I found them at the Butter Barn Antique sale the last time I was in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. Mom told me they looked like me and I should buy them. Well, if Mom says so, then I must.

I think I liked them because they have a sort of Fraktur motif that appeals to me.

Three little vintage plates, less than ten dollars in total, relatively cheap. I figured they'd barely take up any room if I had to store them.

But I really don't like storing things. If I buy something, I want to use it. I found the perfect spot to display these sweet little plates. I paired them with an old sampler I'd made many years ago that had the same colors. Now these little china plates make an artful arrangement for a wall that needed a little something in my sun room.

When I sit on the couch with my puppy and look into the sun room, this view makes me happy. One year ago, this view used to frustrate me to no end.

Learning to be content in this circumstance. That's progress!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Surprise Sunflowers

When you feed the birds, you will invariably feed chipmunks and squirrels and other animals that visit your yard, too.

I've been feeding quite a few chipmunks this season, and it looks like they've left me a thank you gift!

I noticed these a few weeks ago, growing near my potting table. Hmmm. Could it be? I decided not to pull this "weed" and just let it grow.

I love sunflowers, but I don't always have the best luck with them. It seems the rabbits love them as much as I do, and will usually eat them before they can grow and bloom. But these sunflowers must've escaped their attention.

I will admit, I never would have thought to plant them here, but I'm so glad the chipmunks did. It looks like the perfect spot for an autumn garden display.

Thank you, chipmunks!

Monday, September 12, 2016

My Baby Turns Thirteen!

My baby is a teenager today!

Yes, Samuel turns thirteen at precisely 2:57 pm.

It's hard to believe it's been thirteen years.

Thirteen years ago today, Samuel was born blue. The doctors gave him an Apgar score of 1, meaning he had a heartbeat and little else. My husband said he looked like a frog in biology lab, with  his limp blue body and limp blue limbs askew, ready to be dissected. He spent a week in neonatal intensive care before we were allowed to bring him home.

The neonatal docs gave us a grim prognosis. They told us that his disabilities would likely present themselves in the months and years to come. He'd probably have multiple physical hurdles and learning disorders to face in the future.

My husband was devastated.

But I remember so clearly what I told him that day.

"They know the size of our problem, but they don't know the size of our God."

We prayed Psalm 139 over Samuel, and we believed that he was fearfully and wonderfully made.

This preschool teacher mama poured all of her learning into that baby. I read to him, constantly. I taught him baby sign language. I sang to him and played with him, and I took him on walks a showed him every leaf and flower and tree. The dog loved him. The cat loved him. His entire extended family loved him.

Samuel said his first words before his first birthday. He walked by his first birthday. He achieved every developmental milestone early.

That little blue baby is now a middle schooler, in Honors English and Honors Math. He plays trumpet and piano. He's learning to speak French. And he's a whiz at all things computer and artistic.

I think it's important to share our personal testimonies with our children. They need to know the amazing ways that our big God moved big mountains in our lives. They need to hear stories of everyday miracles. And they need to know how God has blessed them and will continue to bless them in the future.

I made a harvest blessing card for Samuel to show him what a blessing he is to us!

{Today's Brew: Harvest Mouse stamp set (MFT), sentiment and dies (MFT), Lawn Fawn Sweater Weather papers, PTI card stock, COPIC markers}

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Two Pumpkin Spice Knockoffs You Can Try At Home!

Have you been to Hobby Lobby lately? Not only do they have all the fall decor out now, but they also have all the holiday decor...Halloween, Thanksgiving, and yes, Christmas.

I'm a sucker for the autumn decor. Pumpkins, leaves, sunflowers, acorns, woodland animals, plaids and woolens, scarecrows, crows...I love it all.

This sign was so stinkin' cute, and because it's Hobby Lobby, the price is reasonable, too. But do I really need it? Yes, I drive an orange Subaru Crosstrek that the family has nicknamed "Pumpkin Spice". And yes, I really liked the sign. But did I want to store it for the other three seasons of the year?

That's when I had the brilliant idea...use my chalkboard and make my own sign!

How fun is that? Good for this season, and I can change it later!

Pumpkin Spice season is such a wonderful time of year! But honestly? I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, or PSL as it is so lovingly nicknamed. It has an aftertaste that's a little more than I need. And now that I'm trying to stay on a healthier nutrition plan, I've been staying away from the Starbucks coffee most days.

Today, however, I'm in a pumpkin spice mood, and I thought I'd try my own PSL concoction. Here's what I used:

I purchased the Watkins Pumpkin Spice extract from my local Walmart. I brewed a cup of Senseo dark roast coffee, then added a packet of Truvia, a teaspoon of pumpkin spice extract, a good splash of warmed vanilla 30 calorie soy milk, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Mmmm! Yummy! Just a hint of pumpkin and spice without the overwhelming flavor. Perfect!

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season, cafe friends!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Recycling In The Garden

The garden center was luring me in with their displays of fall mums this week. I brought a few small pots home to fill some bare spaces, thinking that surely I'd have a pot to put them in.

Uh, nope. I think I got rid of a lot of my garden supplies before the last move. I didn't have a spare pot anywhere.

But I did have this empty oatmeal container. Hmm. I cut off the bottom and removed the paper label.

Then I covered the pink plastic pot the mum came in with a brown paper lunch sack, folded over and tied with some twine.

I put the whole thing into the oatmeal pot, and voila. Instant country charm!

Sometimes, simple is the way to go.

Blessings on your weekend, cafe friends!