Monday, May 30, 2011

birthday fun

May is the month of birthdays-Mike, my brother, my dad, Mike's dad, Mike's aunt, and no less than eight friends all have birthdays in May.  Happy Birthdays abound!

The celebration had started on Saturday, when Tracy and I saw "Bridesmaids" (HILARIOUS!!! Grab a girlfriend and GO!)

followed by a glass of pinot at the Scusi wine bar.  Heaven.  On Sunday Tracie stopped by for a visit with a straw bag full of farmer's market goodies for me.  Heaven.  (and yes, many of my friends are named Tracy...)  Mike even made his famous spaghetti for dinner that night, and it wasn't even my birthday yet!

My day last Monday started blissfully, Mike and Charlie brought me breakfast and presents in bed. Just not having to wake up with the alarm was my first gift of the day. I opened cards and gifts from afar, and relished hearing from family and friends.

After Charlie left for school, Mike and I headed out for a drive to Wisconsin after fueling up with a coffee stop along the Mississippi.  The day tried to be sunny, with not a lot of succcess, but it wasn't raining.

We had an antique stop in Prescott, where I found lots of vintage buttons and an amazing library drawer section.  We stopped in Nelson for cheese and ice cream. We had lunch in Alma, at a perfect spot with views of Lake Pepin and delicious bbq.

This is what 49 looks like.  Sigh.  And yes, I had a beer with my bbq.  I was in Wisconsin, for heaven's sake.

We strolled the streets of Alma, I loved this sign.  Open, Shut.  Makes sense to me!  Unfortunately, on a Monday in May, most business are Shut.  We did find this little spot open for business, The Garden Gate.  I picked up some lovely zinnias and another heuchera addition.

We stopped at my very favorite garden place in the world, in Stockholm.  I spent birthday money on a Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea, some more catnip for Claude (he has already harvested what I had growing), and another heuchera-they had quite a collection.  Look for a post tomorrow, Stockholm Gardens is so wonderful it needs it's own post.

We wound our way home, along the beautiful vistas of Highway 35, and my heart was happy and content.  As it should be on a birthday. 

These views are from Buena Vista Park, up the hill from Alma.  A very peaceful spot.

I was glad I was able to spend the day with my hubby.  And glad he brought his camera.

We finished the day with Johnny Depp and "Pirates", and upon arriving home found even more gifts and flowers (yes, from another Tracy, and a Joanne) waiting on my step.

If only birthdays came more than once a year!  Thank you to everyone for your wishes and gifts, and for making my day PERFECT.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

garden tour continues

Today it's the sunny parts.

Here is my front window box, I went rather traditional this year with basic red geraniums, yellow daisies, and orange marigolds.  I threw in some Superbells 'Apricot Punch', along with my favorite sweet potato vine.  The lime adds such a nice touch.  Although the fact that I need to do some serious painting can't be hidden with any number of flowers...

On the front step, I found a huge square pot at Ikea.  It's the fake terra cotta, that is nice and light.  While I actually prefer the traditional clay, my back thanks me that I chose this instead.

I had so much fun with all of that real estate, it's filled with yellow ranunculus, 'molten lava' oxalis, black eyed susan vine crawling up the iron cage,

'pinstripe' petunias, more red geraniums, and an 'orange fizz' scented geranium (I rub it's leaves everytime I pop out to get the mail, my daily aromatherapy).

In my front hanging basket, I have a 'firecracker' dahlia for the centerpiece, surrounded by some orange lantana and a new green plant for me, 'limon' jewels of opar.  Can't wait to see how this looks in a few weeks, and after some sunny days.

Also in front (I have one in the back yard too, that is the one in the picture) a pot full of 'copper glow' oxalis, 'goldilocks' creeping jenny, a 'crystal palace gem' exotic geranium, and a 'glow yellow' fusion impatiens.  This one will just get better through the summer.

In the back yard, my windowboxes are sporting more red geraniums along with 'juicy fruit kumquat' nemesia,

'angelart orange' nemesia, more exotic geraniums,  more superbells, and sweet potato vine.

Hanging on the garage, I combined orange dahlias with 'wild lime' coleus, and 'candy corn' vine to add some textural interest.

Lastly, I planted a big pot with a fun sun loving coleus, 'sweet georgia' sweet potato vine, black petunias, and hopefully climbing up the trellis and showing off it's blooms-a 'great cascade' wine red lophospermum vine.  I had one in my beds last year and loved it.  Right now it's hiding behind the coleus.

This is why I have been too busy to new things in the beds in the next post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

bloomin' (edited with plant name)

When I heard the hail pounding early Sunday morning, I was just sure all of my plants were toast.

But they survived.

We were spared the worst of Mother Nature on Sunday, my heart goes out to those who suffered and are continuing to struggle with just basic living.  We will do what we can to help.

To lighten our hearts, today I share with you some of the things I have planted this year.  Happy begonias mixed with impatiens in a bright pot on the patio started off my post today.

Cheerful pansies smile on the north side of the house.  It is pretty much full shade, it gets a few of the early morning light's rays, but that's about it.  I always start with pansies, they remind me of my Grandpa Don.  They had some beautiful varieties at Leitner's this year, I paired them with yellow begonias and English ivy. 

Fairies like them.  And when it's too warm for panies, and they bolt, they will be replaced with something else to keep things new and fresh.  Always a work in progress.

I found some fun pots at Gordman's, which just opened in the metro area this spring.  Orange!  I filled them with flowers and herbs.  It's like painting with flowers!  I love how they look with the shrubs by the side steps.

And I saved every single plant stick, and the one you most want to know about is missing.  Look at those little pouches!  They remind me of lady slippers.  EDITED:  Found it!  They are 'Calceolaria'.  Whew.  I feel so much better.

There is golden lemon thyme hanging out with the flowers, and a mini sedum called "Ogon'. So cheerful!

This is just a little teaser of more things to come, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

hang in there...

Laptop is being difficult, I will post when I can get it going again!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

my favorite time of the year

It only lasts a short time, but oh how we relish it.  Those precious days when the earth truly comes alive.

The crabapples are in bloom, everywhere you go.  White,  and shades of pale pink to deep magenta are highlighted against the new green of the leaves.  Some of the trees on our street (planted to replace all those lost in the great ash tree massacre last summer) are crabs, we have a Japanese Tree Lilac in our yard, when it is in bloom I will share it with you.  Sadly, they are not quite enough to hide our ugly electric poles, like our stately old ash trees did.

A green so intense it nearly burns our eyes, so used to the drab browns and grays of the last few months.

Fragrant air drifts through open windows.  Birds are singing, calling, finding mates, creating nests.

The lilacs are getting ready to bloom.  I cut armfulls and put them in old white pitchers in every room of the house.

'Snow on the Mountain' blankets the front flower bed.

My shrubs are the most beautiful lime green.

And my very favorite early perenial 'Bishop's Cap' is in it's tiny, delicate bloom.  Look at those leaves, those blossoms!

My heart is full, and I am out enjoying every single minute of it that I can.  So please excuse the lack of blogging this week!  I have plenty more to share next week, flowers everywhere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

tis the season

Dirt bike season, that is.  Smelly shin guards and mud encrusted boots.  Boy free weekends where I have the house to myself.

I kinda like it!  I will gladly do stinky laundry and pack lunches for a little me time.

The season started on May 1st, as I have already posted about, and it was cold and snowing.

Last weekend Mike and Charlie headed to Wisconsin Rapids for a dirt bike school-it was cold but no snow this time.

Charlie is getting better every time he gets on his bike.  Look at that concentration!

He loved the day.

The teachers were great.

He is building his confidence level by leaps and bounds (or logs and rocks!)

I love that he and Mike have something they enjoy doing together, a sport I hope they will continue with for many years.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

dirt in my fingernails

While winter decided to make an extended stay this year, or so it seemed, I spent nights dreaming of what I would plant.

My tulips are showing their full finery after these last two humid days, they may close up again with the cold and rain expected this weekend.  I have a really funky orange and green one that I will share pictures of soon.  I can't believe they survived our neighborhood rabbit, perhaps it found something better to munch on.

I have already made several expensive extensive garden shop trips, including attending the Friends Plant Sale at the fairgrounds on Sunday.  Some fun new varieties, and plants new to me, that I am popping in my beds, window boxes, and containers.  A new favorite?  A golden leafed bleeding heart, that gets deep red blooms.  It's such a nice contrast to my other bleeding hearts, I have a white bloomer and a standard pink bloomer.  And for fun, in the fall, when the other plant's leaves turn golden, this one will turn green.

Look for a tour next week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

We rather skipped spring and slid straight into summer yesterday, it was still 86 degrees at 10 pm last night, with storms whipping through the area.  Hard to imagine it was snowing last Monday.  Ahhhh, Minnesota weather.  At least we didn't get the egg and baseball size hail, I was worried we would and had moved all of my portable plants to a safe location.  Cursing myself for planting so early...

I have been looking for new warm weather recipes to try, this was last night's experiment and I think it may be slid into the summer rotation.

It's from the "Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook".  If you don't have a Trader Joes to shop at, I am sure you can find something close to the ingredients in other brands.

Kinda Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb. pasta (I used Barilla Plus Penne Pasta-the recipe called for Whole Wheat Pasta but Mike and Charlie are not big fans)
1 grilled chicken breast - diced (I diced up a fresh one and sauteed it with Greek herbs)
1 (8.5 oz) jar julienned sundried tomatoes in oil (don't drain, it will be part of the dressing)
1 (3.8 oz) can sliced black olives (I did use them from Trader Joes, but next time I would used sliced kalamatas instead to really keep with the Greek theme)
1 (6 oz) container crumbled Feta with Mediterranean herbs
4 Persian cucumbers (or one large regular cucumber) diced (2 cups)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (I used 2-thought it needed a little more oomph)

Cook the pasta, drain and cool.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss and serve. 

Now that is has been in the fridge overnight, I will probably toss some more balsamic with it before I have it for lunch today.

Mike and Charlie ate big bowls full, but maybe they were just hungry since we ate so late.  Next time I would double the amount of chicken, and maybe toss in some fresh oregano now that my herb garden is growing.  It would add a nice little fresh touch.

Here is a shot of the sky, it was eerie out last night:

Do you have a favorite summer recipe that you would like to share?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Growing up, I rarely saw my cousins.

Even though we all lived in the same town, cousins were usually only seen for holidays, or perhaps a birthday.  Now I realize it is because my mom was not especially close to her sisters, and my dad and his brother were estranged.  But everyone made an effort for Christmas, Thanksgiving, a graduation.

When I voraciously read books as a young girl, I would read about family get-togethers with tons of cousins and the fun they had, and I wistfully wished that was what happened in my family.  I imagined sleepovers, and huge family gatherings where the cousins would get together and play pranks on the grown-ups.

If wishes were fishes...

Fast forward to life today, and Charlie and Riley have spent more time together in their young lives than I ever spent with all of my cousins, combined.

It speaks to the bond that Heather and I have, and how important we are to each other's lives.  And what were the odds that even though we are 11 years apart in age, we would have boys two years apart (very nearly to the day!)

Charlie and Riley have much in common;

they are both only children, love their Ripstix, play Xbox online together, and have mothers with similar interests.  They can commiserate about having to help in the garden, dealing with their mother's piles of magazines, and eating dinner in the living room as the dining room table is covered with whatever creation their mom is currently working on.

We have enjoyed numerous sleepovers,

zoo outings,

dining out,

and fishing trips in Bemidji.

 Picnics at the park, rock climbing, or just hanging out watching favorite movies.

Charlie and Riley have a wonderful relationship, and I hope they will remain close to manage life's challenges together.

(And continue to share fashion trends....)

Monday, May 9, 2011

sheep everywhere!

Saturday dawned sunny, contrary to the weather forecast.  Hurrah!  Helen and I wound our way to Lake Elmo, and the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The sheep, llamas, cashmere goats, and angora bunnies arrived well before we did, ready for their appearances.

The vendors were ready too, tables and shelves full of unbelievably gorgeous wool, yarn, roving, and every accessory imaginable.

(Sorry for the crummy photos, I just had my little portable and it isn't happy taking pictures inside...)

The musicians entertained us while we checked out all of the wares.

We shopped, we ate lamb burgers, and watched sheep shearing.

I had as much fun watching the kids check things out.

Look at all of that beautiful wool!  And the now naked sheep.

We visted the sheep and lambs, (it's a great family event!)

and I finally got a llama to cooperate for a photo.

Helen is a spinner, knitter, and loves yarn even more than I do!

She was wearing a sweater her sweet mother had made, isn't it amazing?  She received compliments on it all day long.

It was a perfect day.  I bought scrumptious yarns, hand dyed wool, and of course a giant bag of warm kettle corn.

No one can say I don't know how to do a fair.  (and thanks to Helen for inviting me, it was such fun!)


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