Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Homegrown Bouquet

I apologize,  again, for the brevity of this.  I simply must share this picture of flowers from my garden.  Peonies  (my current favorite) and roses.  Aren't they lovely?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Gift from Across the Pond

For several years I've been reading a blog written by a lovely English woman. From time to time she has written about participating in swaps with other blog readers. I've always thought that sounded like a fun thing to participate in. Sometimes she arranges the swaps. I threw my name in once when she arranged pen pals; sadly, I never received a letter from my partner. (Perhaps what she received from me was too boring.) Anyhow, she recently organized another swap: stationary. I decided to try again.

 First off, finding stationary is no easy task! Almost no one writes letters so it makes sense that stationary stores are closing. I first looked for Papyrus. They used to be in our local mall and carried nice things. Turns out they are no longer in the mall. As far as I can tell, they are only online. I didn't have time to wait for an order to be mailed to me, so I drove to the nearest Hallmark store. Their sign was still up, but the space was vacant. A day or so later I drove to another Hallmark store. The clerk wouldn't admit they are going out of business, but they clearly are. Everything in the store was 50-75% off. I did find a cute set of note cards in a fun container; however, when I opened the container the cards and envelopes were all jumbled up. I straightened them and counted to be sure there were an equal number of cards and envelopes. There were 10 of each, but the label said there should be 12. Someone must have stolen 2 - strange! Eventually I did find more stationary at Barnes and Noble and managed to get my package off in the mail JUST at the deadline.

Like the organizer, my "swap mate" lives in England. She sent her package to me the same day I sent mine to her. I was slightly worried about one or the other of our packages not making it to the recipient, so was pleasantly surprised when both packages were delivered today. When I opened the mailing envelope I found two (or was it three?) gift wrapped packages. My first thought was "what fun! I wish I'd thought to gift wrap my packages!" I LOVE presents, which explains why I tore into mine and failed to register in my brain if there were 2 or 3 parcels.  In either case,  what I found was an abundance of lovely note cards,  a small address book and - bonus! - several pens.  I LOVE pens - particularly with different colored inks.  I received a 4 pack of pens with colorful inks plus a pen that seems to me to be a quintessentially British floral - love it!

Here is a picture of the entire gift:

A picture of (possibly) my favorite notecard:

Another lovely note card:

And finally, the pens and address book.

I immediately entered the address of my swap mate into the address book.  Along with the gifts, she wrote a very nice note.  I, on the other hand, wrote a short, hurried note as I rushed to get my package to the post office.  I shall have to write a better note along with a thank you for the lovely gifts.

What a fun day - presents!  And from England no less!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Stroll Through JoAnn's Iris Garden

Yesterday Eric left work early in order to take me to lunch and to view some Parade Homes.  (For international readers, every spring and fall the Builder's Association sponsors a "Parade of Homes" in which builders open recently completed homes for the public to tour.)  It turned into an afternoon of pleasant detours, ending with a stroll through JoAnn's Iris Garden.

Many years ago I worked for Joann's partner and learned of her garden.  It is open to the public and she sells the rhizomes.  I visited the garden way back then and at the time they were way out in the country.  Today the most expensive suburb of Boise, Eagle, has grown around their property.  The iris garden is a pretty oasis in the midst of huge suburban homes.

There are 25 iris beds, each planted with many varieties of Iris.  Trying to choose which to buy gets a bit overwhelming!   JoAnn told me she actually has fewer varieties than in the past because customers were so overwhelmed that they left without making a purchase.

When we purchased our home there were many irises already in place, but I was deeply disappointed with the colors - white and something we call brown.  (The brown is probably some shade of orange. )  Shouldn't irises be purple?  Walking through Joann's garden we saw many colors,  including the dreaded orange, but we needed purple!

We chose 2 varieties,  Eric preferring one and I the other.  (Although now I can't remember who preferred what.)

Scattered throughout the Iris beds were lupine, which have never excited me, and around the perimeter of the garden were several clematis.   You probably know how I feel about clematis!  I have seen red clematis twice recently and I believe I "need" one for my garden.

Our day was supposed to end with a stop at a nursery to purchase flowers for my many pots.  However, due to all of our detours, the nursery was closed when we arrived.  That is a good thing, I think, because I will go alone today and my mind will not be overloaded from all of yesterday's beautiful sights.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Small Updates

I feel compelled to share this close-up of my clematis in full bloom. I love the purple flowers with the lime green leaves.

I also want to share this picture of my Dad and his friend.  It was taken yesterday while we celebrated Dad's 86th birthday.  I have one amazing Dad.  His Mom lived to 98; he has 2 sisters who are currently 94 and 97.  Loads of longevity in that family!   As of now my Dad seems incredibly healthy.   Of course, there is that nasty bit of cancer lurking, but for now we shall enjoy the good.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring Cleaning in the Garden

Spring arrived several weeks ago, and we have been hard at work improving our neglected gardens.

I realize my recent posts have been rather gloomy so decided to share some pictures of flowers.  It's impossible to be gloomy with flower pictures!

The first picture is not actually my garden.  This is a neighbor's tree whose branches hang over the fence.  I am happy for the beautiful "intrusion".

I believe the original owner of our home must have had the property beautifully landscaped, as there are winding paths and terraces.  Unfortunately,  subsequent owners didn't maintain things so when we purchased the property some areas were overgrown while others were bare dirt.  I say "we" have been working hard on it but, to be honest, my husband has done the lion's share of the work.  He spent hours pulling some ivy near the foundation of the house. It was unsightly and, more importantly,  it provided great cover for mice.  (He found 7 mouse nests in the ivy!) There is another, larger area of ivy that needs to be removed but that has to wait until another day.

The picture below is part of a terraced slope.  There are 2 lovely types of thyme on the slope.  One is lemon thyme which I ADORE - if you step on it or clip it the scent of lemon fills the air.  The other blooms for months with lovely purple flowers.  Last summer it was buzzing with honey bees.  Makes me think I should learn to be a beekeeper!  Last year the thyme was surrounded by bare dirt but this year we have covered all of the bare areas with mulch which improves the look quite a bit.

We have also been adding flowers.  Last year I planted 2 clematis.   One is doing quite well this year, while the other is limping along.

This is a branch my husband cut off of the neighbors tree so that I could use it in a vase.

Perhaps you can see some of the flowers I've planted:  creeping phlox,  rock cress and wave petunias.  The upper terrace has been mulched but we haven't finished the lower terrace yet.  Doesn't the mulched terrace look so much nicer?

That's all for now.  Happy spring!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Looking for Perfection

My idea of fun/relaxation is making cards. This past week I made a set of 8 to give as a gift, and I was pleased with how they turned out.  Here are a few of them:

This was my absolute favorite:

And I liked this:

But now I am in the midst of a dilemma.   My Dad's birthday is this week and I am fairly (but not entirely)  certain this will be his last birthday.   I so badly want to make him a perfect card.  It's important to me.  But I greatly struggle with making masculine cards.  I made the card below for him, but it is miles from perfect.  It made me cry.  I have time to try again, but I fear I will fail.

I know perfection is an unreasonable expectation, but I hope I can at least create something I am pleased with.  I know Dad will appreciate anything because he's my Dad, but for some reason I need to be unashamed of this, his last birthday card.  So, yes, I am looking for perfection.