Alicia and the Beanstalk

Back in May, I posted about starting my summer garden¬†and all the planting I had been doing around our home. This is the first veggie garden I have planted here, since moving from California 10 years ago. Ok, I did attempt one late last summer, but that doesn’t count. Now that I have paid more attention to the season, zones, and all that gardening stuff, it’s for real this time. I was looking back at that post, and smiling over my little shoots and sprouts. Look what they’ve become!

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sunflowers, arugula, cilantro

 

 

My beanstalks are so tall you can see them from the family room window- even after I snipped them shorter!

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I had scattered marigold seed in a corner of the garden, and they never came up. But I started seeing something growing all over the rest of the garden. I assumed my marigold seeds had been blown around, so I let them grow. Weeks later, I realized these were tomato plants, and they were everywhere! lol. Oopsie. I have no clue how that happened.

I think I mentioned before that I had put some green onion roots in a jar of water in my windowsill, after I had cut the green stalks and cooked with them. Well… they’re growing!

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And remember my scraggly butterfly bushes? They are filling out, thankfully. I guess we need to make sure we cut them back in the winter. I also think we will be moving them from the spot at the front of the yard, and replacing them with something that will stay green all year. I love them, though, and want to make sure wherever they end up, we’ll be able to see them and admire all the butterflies they attract. See! THey are doing much better- just ignore the super lush grass. ūüôā

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So… what do you think? Green thumb??? huh, huh? Have I got one??

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About Flowers

I learned a little something this morning. But, before we get to that, let’s travel back to this past weekend.

I was an assistant to a wedding planner at a gorgeous wedding this past weekend. It was at a beautiful, prestigious country club here in town, and had 250 guests! One thing that I did, was greet the guests as they entered, and take their gifts off of their hands. Standing at the front door, I must have heard people exclaim at the beauty of the entrance flowers at least 50 times. And they were gorgeous. And that was just one piece. There were similar grand centerpieces at the dining tables, and many, many small arrangements throughout the venue. I couldn’t identify all the flowers in them- I saw roses, hydrangeas, peonies… and some gorgeous gigantic flowers that I just LOVED. Here was the entry piece:

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There were flowers everywhere. I have no clue how many thousands of dollars were spent on them, but they were beautiful. And at the end of the night, they were still there… Somebody paid a fortune for these flowers, and they were only to be enjoyed for a few hours? Not on my watch! With permission, of course, at the end of the night I gathered up as many small arrangements as I could.

I think there were 8 vases of flowers here.

I think there were 9 vases of flowers here.

 

just gorgeous

just gorgeous

Although it would have been wonderful to have these all over my home for a while, I knew they’d be better served elsewhere. The morning after the wedding, (after church and plenty of coffee), we brought all but one of these to the assisted living center where our family volunteers each Sunday. As soon as we pulled up, an elderly couple that we both really care about were going out to their car. Chris plucked a rose out of a vase and told her it was for her. She said it made her feel like a young woman again and made her day. I loaded up a rolling cart with the rest of the flowers and wheeled them inside. Before I could begin to distribute any flowers, the nurses swooped in on them and started putting them where everyone could see them. Which is great- I want as many people to enjoy them as possible- but it wasn’t quite what I had intended for them. So, while the nurses fussed over the arrangements, I grabbed up two vases – one in each hand – and took off with them. I placed one of them in a room where there are often seniors who can’t move or communicate, just to brighten up that room.

As I wandered a hall looking for a place to put this last vase, I looked in on a room. There was an elderly lady sitting at the edge of her bed, looking down. Her walker was in front of her, and I couldn’t tell if she was looking through it, or if she had dozed off. I quietly knocked on her door, and noticed a birthday card was taped to it. She looked up right away and clearly said, “Come in!” I guess she had been waiting for a staff member who said he was coming back, and was surprised when it was me. I introduced myself as a volunteer, and she told me her name was Frances. I told Frances that I had brought her some roses to brighten up her room, and asked if it was her birthday. It had been about a week ago, and I asked her to consider these a belated birthday gift from a new friend. I asked if I could sit and talk with her, and she seemed delighted that I’d spend the time. She said that the flowers were so beautiful and fragrant. When I told her I had others throughout the center, she said they would really make the place seem so friendly to so many who, like her, don’t have any family. I asked her if she gets any visitors, and she said not until me…. She did later mention a nephew, so hopefully he comes to see her sometimes.

I’m so glad that I poked my head into Frances’ room that day. I hope she remembers me when I check in on her again, too. But even if she doesn’t, I hope she’s enjoyed the roses that I placed in her room. The roses seem to have lasted longer than the other flowers, so I hope they are still bright and happy for her and remind her that somebody cares.

That one vase that didn’t go to the center stayed in my home. I just had to have one arrangement for us. It has been on our console table since that day, looking fresh, and bright, and summery. I just love that it’s the first thing to greet you when you come in the front door. The last couple of days, petals started falling, so I have thinned out and rearranged the flowers. Some of them are so large, though, that even with some being tossed out, they still fit into two smaller vases! I hope they last just a little bit longer.

the original arrangement on the console table.

the original arrangement on the console table.

closer - what are those huge, coral colored, wide-open flowers?

closer – what are those huge, coral colored, wide-open flowers?

one of the arrangements I made as the flowers began to wilt

one of the arrangements I made as the flowers began to wilt

another arrangement I created out of the first one. This is on our mantle.

another arrangement I created out of the first one. This is on our mantle.

So, remember how I said I learned a little something? I didn’t just mean that flowers really can brighten up someone’s day, or change the look and feel of a room. When I was disassembling the arrangement I had at home, to remove the wilted flowers and create new arrangements, I learned a secret! I’ll share it with you. The square vase was segmented into a grid using tape!

can you see the clear tape?

can you see the clear tape?

I’m sure it’s some kind of waterproof florist tape, but I imitated that on my vases with regular old scotch tape just to see. And who knew? That really helps you place flowers in a pleasing, well spaced way. In addition to that. The flowers had been cut short to use in a squat, square vase. The vases I was putting them in would normally be way too tall for these short stems. But, with the tape grid in place, I was able to place the bigger, bushier flowers in first, and the grid held them up out of the water. I just inserted single stems all around those, knowing they first set flowers would keep those lifted, too. It’s so simple and smart!!

Yay flowers! I just love them. What do you love about flowers? Do you have other floral arrangement tips to share?

Crazy Good

Aside

As Memorial Day weekend was approaching, Chris and I were keeping our fingers crossed that our uncommonly clear calendar was going to stay that way. With all the meetings and goings-on around here lately, a three-day weekend with nothing on the agenda sounded uh-maaaa-zing. I had visions of trips to the park, and getting fro-yo, and lazy afternoon naps in my head. I saw me in a hammock… I don’t know where, but I saw it. Ha. Continue reading

Does My Thumb Look Green to You?

Aside

I love springtime. I love the weather, and the bright green that is everywhere. Once I get adjusted to the pollen that comes with the renewal of all the greenery, it is hard to keep me from being outside. Spring in the Carolinas is short-lived, though. By the time my allergies ease up, the temperatures rise, and I am engulfed by the heat and humidity. This year, however, has been different. Spring is lingering, and I am so happy about that! There is always a long list of things I want to get done to the yard before the weather is too hot, and I never get them all done in time. The temps are inching their way up, but with a three-day weekend ahead, I am really hopeful that the majority of this list will get done this year- even with a toddler and our extremely busy schedules.

I missed the chance to capture the gorgeous rhododendrons, camellias, and irises that bloomed already. Next time, I’ll be sure to take some pictures. But here are some other’s in the front yard that are perky and bright. Our hostas came back in full force this year, and our crepe myrtle is finally filling out!

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We never pruned back our butterfly bushes in the winter, and it was hindering their growth. So I gave them a little trim.

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before

after

after

Some of my Mother’s Day flowers are still holding strong, too! They are on their third trimming and vase change, and still beautiful reminders of how much I am loved and appreciated.

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And then, I had this weed garden….

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It was intense, y’all. So, so bad. Well last week, I got to work on pulling them- at least out of the little garden space I had set aside. Those pictures above are actually after I had gotten started on the weeding already. You can see the cleared space. It didn’t take me as long as I thought, but I worked hard! There were a couple of winter lettuces still in the ground, which I washed and ate up last weekend.

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I mixed in¬†a few more bags of organic dirt, and planted the seeds, seedlings, and few plants that I had. I had started my seedlings inside months ago, but Austin kept getting a hold of them, and only a few are surviving. They were small and weak, and I’ll be surprised if all of them make it out in the elements. Fingers crossed! The plants that we had were given to us by a friend that he had started from seeds. Hopefully all the ones I got in the ground will make it and produce a variety of yumminess. He had given us several kinds of tomatoes and peppers, but it took a while for me to get them in the ground. Hopefully they perk up soon!

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In addition to my tomatoes and peppers, I put down marigold and sunflower seeds, as well as watermelon, corn, arugula, cilantro, and bean seeds. That was a week ago, and look at what I found this morning!

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watermelon

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beans

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corn

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sunflowers

What is it about seeing seed sprout up that is so exciting? I just LOVE it when that happens! What a little miracle.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. ¬†Genesis 1:11-12 NASB

Storage Bins (take one)

We have these bookcases in our living room. They are from the Billy series at Ikea.

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Well, there are some scrapbooks and photo albums at the bottom of them that I just can’t make look like they belong there. They are awkward shapes and sizes for our not-so-deep shelves, and it always looks cluttered down there. For the longest time we had planned on putting doors on the bottom half of these bookcases, so I didn’t let the mess bother me. But now I have decided that I no longer want to put doors there, and even if I did, they wouldn’t close because there are scrapbooks sticking out past the shelves.

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So I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for some storage bins that we could use. But again, the sizes were not what I needed. Not to mention finding some in our style was not easy, and when I did run across some that i liked, they were expensive! Even the cute bins at Ikea are not exactly cheap. So I decided to make some.

With a little one in diapers, we always have a box in the nursery, and these were the perfect depth and width for what I wanted to hide in them. And I already had them, so that was an added bonus! Unfortunately, I already was using them to put old baby clothes and such. So I asked some neighbors, and got an assortment of boxes in different sizes. I may use a couple of them, but the size box I like the best is the kind I use, so I just had to wait until I finished up a case of diapers- which was earlier this week. Yes!

I actually want to make two or three of these, but I’ll just have to wait until I ¬†finish the next case I guess. I bought enough fabric to make two boxes, and maybe a third, smaller box. When I was writing down my measurements, though, I forgot to double the length of my ribbon, so I’ll have to head back out to get more when I do make the second box. Watch the store not carry that ribbon anymore. That would be just my luck!

Anyway. I was lazy this go around, and did not iron my fabric. I also used spray adhesive and scotch tape instead of being patient and precise with a glue gun. It worked, but didn’t produce the nice, clean look I wanted. I should have known better. Oh well. I’ll be sure to do a better job on the next box. Here’s how I did it, anyway, so you can see what I threw together this afternoon.

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supplies:
diaper box, fabric, scissors, tape, spray adhesive, ribbon

First of all, I cut the flaps off the top of my empty box. Now that I can see my finished project, I know that next time, I will try to be more precise with my cutting. The uneven edge makes the box look all wonky, and it’s pretty noticeable in the finished product. Next, I folded my fabric in half so I could cut two templates at the same time. See, not only do I cut boxes and fabric, I cut corners.

I sprayed the bottom of the box with adhesive spray, and then firmly pressed it on¬†the center(ish) of the fabric. I then cut the “sides” of my cover by cutting away the four corners of the fabric, leaving a bit of extra fabric so that the panels would be slightly wider than the sides of the box.

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Then I sprayed the side of the box and pulled the fabric up over it as tightly as I could, trying to smooth out any bubbles and ridges. (Which I did not do very well…) I repeated this for the opposite side, and then taped the edges of those flaps down onto the side panel. (I cut little slits in the bottom corner to make them fold smoothly.) Then I took the edges of the first side panel and folded them over so that they had a nice, neat edge, and I taped them down. Ironing them here would have made them very crisp. Next time…. I taped the little handle hole thingy shut, sprayed the side, and stretched the fabric panel over the box.

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I repeated this on the last side of the box, and then sprayed around the upper inside of the box to keep the fabric flaps in place. I didn’t worry too much about the inside of the box since i had made the flaps deep enough that you won’t be able to see down into them once there are items in the box. I hope. I have extra fabric if I do decide later that I want to cover the insides as well.

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Next, I decided where I was going to place my ribbon. At this point, I had decided that the adhesive spray was probably not the best tool for this project, and I plugged in my trusty glue gun. While it was heating, I made a rosette with a scrap of fabric to see how I liked the flower embellishments on the ribbon, but I decided against it. In this case, (and I’m sure my husband thanks me,) less is more. I glued the starting edge to the box, wrapped the ribbon around the box, and glued it “closed”.

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and Voila!

Finally, I ran downstairs with my box, grabbed up all of the albums and scrapbooks I could fit into the box, and hid them away inside my new storage bin. Not too shabby, and much neater looking!

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Now I just need Austin to go through another box so I can do it again, and take my time with it. The next one will not have wobbly edges or air bubbles if I can help it. And hopefully I’ll be able to find the same ribbon.

a possibility

I¬†have been struggling with whether or not to post about this. Right now, in the early, early stages of this process, and with so little information, and so much that is out of our control, I wonder if bringing it up is¬†the right thing to do. But, I guess it can’t hurt, and we’ll take all the support we can get.

So here’s the news:

We’ve inquired about a little girl in SC that we’d like to adopt. Her caseworkers are reviewing our home study now, (along with who knows how many others,) and we won’t hear anything for several weeks. In a world where you can track the progress of your pizza delivery, waiting in silence is not an easy thing! Waiting is hard enough, but not knowing how many other families are being considered, how the case worker(s)¬†narrow their choices, and knowing that it’s completely out of my hands at this point, makes the waiting that much harder. I definitely like to have my hands in any process or big decision in my life, but this is one that is completely beyond my control. But I know who has all the control, so, I’ll let it go, and pray, and wait. It’s in the hands of my Lord, and His will be done.

We have very little information about this precious¬†girl, but do have her first name and a picture of her, so when we pray about this situation, we can pray for¬†her by name and see her little face in our minds. I’m actually looking at her picture right now, and hoping. I am praying for patience, and wisdom. I am praying that our family’s hearts are being made ready for a change. I’m praying that this little girl’s heart is also being prepared.¬†Even if it’s not our home she finally comes home to, she will be going home to somebody, and her heart needs to be made ready for them. But of course, I am hoping that our home state gives us a change.

So, while we wait, we will ready our home. Spring is finally starting to feel like Spring. We are looking forward to playdates in the park, and just playing outside with Austin, in general. He loves being outdoors. We also have lots of outdoor projects lined up for this year: landscaping the side yard, planting our veggie garden, and hopefully getting our deck and shed built. We have a bit¬†(ok, a lot) of organizing to do inside the home too. So with lots to get done, hopefully the time will pass quickly until we hear something. Won’t you please pray with us during this time? ¬†It would mean so much to us. And it could mean a lifetime of love for this child.

Charity Yardsale

I will start this post by admitting that I didn’t take any pictures. Blame it on me waking up at 6:57AM before the planned 7:00 AM start time, and not having enough coffee that morning. Also, I was chasing a toddler around on too little coffee. Excuses, excuses. I know. What kind of blog am I writing here? No pictures?? My apologies.

This is also going to be short post. On days like today (or weeks like this one), that is just how it’s going to be. I’ve been super busy, and I’m out of my element, writing upstairs in the guest room. Our downstairs is in shambles, with most of our furniture crammed into one corner of the house, as we were having a large section of flooring replaced after a leak we discovered last month. It’s been a process, let me tell ya. And from the looks of things, I won’t be able to have my house back in order until sometime next week. Joy. 

Last Saturday morning, our neighborhood had a yard sale. We put an ad on craigslist and posted a few signs, and everybody set up shop in their driveways, or front lawns. We had plenty we could shed, so we decided to participate. Right around the time we started gathering stuff to sell, our dear friend Laura was gathering information on going on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. We wanted to be able to contribute to her trip financially, but things are kind of tight for us, so we had to pray about how best we could help. God made it pretty obvious that we could use the yard sale to help fund her trip. So, we let her know what we were doing, and she and her hubby contributed some items to sell as well.

Friday night we had planned to get our tables and racks set up, so that Saturday we could just carry them out and start selling. We ended up having some neighbors over for dinner, and Chris was finishing up a project, so we didn’t get started on sorting through everything until much later than we anticipated. Around midnight, I realized neither of us had gotten any small change, so ran out to buy donuts at the grocery store and get some cash back. We didn’t go to bed until around 1:30 in the morning, and slept through our alarms. Luckily, I happened to wake up and see the clock at 6:57. I frantically woke Chris, and we washed up, threw on some clothes, then ran downstairs to set up. The first car rolled through as we set up our first table. Luckily people must have stopped towards the sales at the front of the neighborhood, first, which bought us a little time. I had, thankfully, remembered to program the coffee pot the night before.

All sort of people were in our driveway Saturday morning. Men and Women, older and younger. Neighbors and strangers. Mothers and daughters. Friends. It was cool to chat with people and also enjoy the fabulous weather that had rolled in. We met a full time missionary, and were able to provide her with furniture and other things as she prepared for her upcoming marriage, and furnishing a future home with her future husband. We met a few dogs, too. Most of the people who came through were pleasant. Some were hunting for freebies, some didn’t negotiate at all. Somebody walked off with a nice watch, but most people paid for their “treasures”. Once we told people that all the proceeds of the sale were going to a mission trip, most were happy to pay the initial prices we asked. All in all, it was a good day, with a steady flow of people. Austin was interested in all that was going on, and was happy to be out with us. 

We were able to raise just over $400 that morning, and gave it all to our friend’s mission trip. That little boost funded about a fifth of what she needs to raise, and we are happy we were able to do this for her. The Lord provides for his children in all kinds of ways.