Thursday, March 31, 2016

Farewell to March

Every time I stepped outside in the month of March there was something new to discover.  This is a small sampling of the beauty found in my own backyard.  I'm so glad it's so pretty out there as inside has been another matter entirely.  
The townhouse my in-laws owned has been on the market for a few months.  Shortly before Easter it was sold and it has been a moving marathon since then.  Furniture has been moved in, out, up and down.  As often happens, a trickle down effect has necessitated major clean outs of linen closets, bedroom closets, attics and drawers.  There is still a garage to be dealt with.  I guess that will happen in April.
When Easter arrived, my dining room was filled with bedroom furniture and the table was loaded with stuff, stuff and more stuff.
Needless to say I had no interest in bringing out more stuff to decorate the house for Easter.  Our Easter dinner was in a restaurant this year.  I did, however, manage to make my famous carrot cake which was enjoyed in the kitchen.
The moving, sorting and purging is nearing completion.
It has been a lot of work and has given me a lot of food for thought.
But, in the end, it feels so good to be lightened up and organized.
Now I can go outside and play.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Good Day in the Garden

 ~ Dogwood ~

On a beautiful spring day there's really nowhere else I'd rather be than in my garden. 

~ Eastern Redbud ~

For it is here that I find peace.
Everyday worries fade to the background as I breathe in the freshness of the air and take in the beauty of the colors quietly dotting the landscape.  

I think of my mother as I tend to the wee grape hyacinths.
She grew them in her Michigan garden where they multiplied like crazy.  She also fostered in me a lifelong love for gardening.

 Today was a day for picking up sticks.
Every time I walk around the yard I seem to end up with an armful of branches.  Windy days seem to shake them loose from the trees.

While the earth is still soft, the weeds usually slip out easily.
It's always satisfying to remove the entire root along with the weed.

While down on the ground pulling weeds, I noticed this little blue flower coming into bloom.  How pretty!  I'm not sure what it is.  I'm thinking some type of phlox.

It was a good day to trim back the ornamental grasses as the new green growth is coming out now.  

 All of that bending over made my back a bit stiff.  
Seemed like a good time to stretch out on the grass.
My gardening tends to be a mix of work and play.

~ Loropetalum ~

While sitting on the grass I looked to my left and saw this.
He has the right idea, don't you think?
He is surrounded by dwarf Loropetalum shrubs.  Are you familiar with them?  I wasn't until we moved to North Carolina.  They are blooming all throughout our neighborhood now and look so pretty.  We have some in the front yard that are huge.  I am hoping that this dwarf variety stays true to it's name.
 After deciding that I had lounged on the grass long enough, it was time for a nice stretch. 
Bend and stretch and reach for the sky.
Oh my, that is one gorgeous sky!

 Back to work.
This early spring day was the right time to apply fertilizer to the rose bushes.  I am in the process of changing over to only organic fertilizers. 

It often seems like we wait so long for spring's arrival and once it gets here we have to pay close attention or we might miss something.
For instance, most of my daffodils and hyacinths have come and gone.  Soon these, too, will be done until next year. 

 When the day's work was done it was time for a coffee break.
While sipping my coffee I watched a pair of butterflies "dancing" together as they flew higher and higher.  Once they were out of my sight I watched a pair of blackbirds flying back and forth across the yard most likely setting up housekeeping in one of the tall trees.
Spring has sprung and everywhere I look there are signs of life.  

 Happy Spring!
May you find joy in the beauty of this new season.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Tradition Continues

~ Happy St. Patrick's Day ~

When my youngest son was in kindergarten a little leprechaun came for a surprise visit while the kids were out for recess.  The little rascal messed up the classroom and left a wee piece of green fabric on each child's desk as a reminder that he had been there.  That was many years ago, but I'll never forget the day he came home from school clutching that tiny piece of fabric as he relayed the story to me.  I think that may have been the year our family St. Patrick's Day tradition began.  In the early years we had our corned beef and cabbage dinner accompanied by green side dishes and beverages.  After dinner Brett would find a reason to take the boys outside and inside the little leprechaun was busy helping me hide gold coins and mess up the family room a bit.  
As the boys grew the leprechaun visits tapered off, but the meal lived on in one form or another.
I'm often surprised that the tradition has lived on for as long as it has.  Yet it seems even grown men will put on a little leprechaun hat if it means their plate will be filled with corned beef and cabbage and a thick slice of buttered Irish Soda Bread.  Actually, that soda bread may be the main reason the tradition has lived on.  They have come to love it.
Sometimes Peanut participated in the festivities.
She looks cute in the hat even though she looks like she'd like rather be outside running around the backyard.
 I was thinking that this might be the year the tradition would come to an end until my oldest son expressed an interest in coming for dinner.  It worked out best for him to come a day early, so we celebrated last night.
I was working yesterday so I decided to try a new recipe which called for putting everything in the crockpot.  I might add that until now I've always used Betty Crocker's recipe and boiled everything on the stove.  I usually discard the spice packet that comes with the corned beef and use plain water as I feel that the meat is plenty salty for my tastes.

 My son ended up being delayed in a traffic jam.
While waiting for his arrival, we sat on the patio enjoying the beautiful 85 degree day as the meal was kept warm in the crock pot.
Once Mike arrived home, it was just a matter of piling up the platter with those fork tender vegetables and melt in your mouth corned beef.  No knives required.  Just the way I like it.  It now occurs to me that I didn't take a picture of the soda bread.  Most likely because it was gone before I had a chance. 
As for the new recipe, it was decided that the potatoes and cabbage tasted a bit "different".  Not necessarily bad, just different.  Different isn't always desired when it comes to tradition.  It didn't, however, prevent us from devouring our meals.  In the future I think I'll stick with the crockpot method, but I'll forego the sauce part of the recipe and stick to the plain water.  That will only result in a slight tweak to tradition which should suit my little leprechauns to a tee.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fringe Benefits

Like most things in life, working from home has it's pros and cons.

From the home-based office it's easy to accompany Peanut on her potty breaks.  Just open the door and out we go.
The part that wasn't quite so easy today was coming back in to work once the break was over.  While Peanut was doing her thing, I was waltzing around the garden checking to see what was blooming.
The daffodils and hyacinths were one thing, but when I noticed a new camellia in bloom...

I just had to run in for a vase and the scissors. 
Good thing the boss was out of the office today ;-D.