Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

How should my garden grow?

I know, it's half past story time and no one, myself included, is really in the mood for a nursery rhyme right now.

I just need to know - What flowers should I be fixin' to plant?

I need perennials - lots of 'em.
I need annuals.
I even have room for some shrubby fellas.
Oh, I could use some suggestions for an easy climbing rose.

I threw the request out to my facebook peeps and got some good ideas, but I just know my bloggy friends will one-up them. (Shhhh!) And for all of you who are reading but not commenting - let this be my plea to draw you from the shadows. Then, if you'd like, we can all go back to the way we were and I won't bug you again - for a while.
*(If you have trouble commenting - as some have told me - try using something other than Internet Explorer. Can you tell I really need your help?)

Most of my areas are sunny and I generally shy away from reds and oranges. I like cottagey flowers, but I hear they are sometimes more tempermental. Tempermental cottage flowers? This is a whole new world, I'm telling you. So please, be as specific as possible.

I've already documented my status as brown-thumbed, flower-loving novice. As my friend Jess recently lamented for me, "Love really should be enough." In my case, it isn't. Or at least, it hasn't been. But maybe, with your help, this will be the year that my luck turns around and my thumb, at last, blooms.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Potato Creek - Part II

After lunch, we spent a little time at the playground. It was a very strange playground, so we didn't stay long. We did, however, stay long enough for Ruby to realize that she could hop in the swing all on her own. Nothing pleases her more than doing something by herself.

We set off to find some trails and about 30 yards into our first, we realized we were on a bike trail and not a "real" one. Ruby was understandably confused when we abruptly turned around and headed back to the car. She kept crying "I not go bye bye!"

She was so mad at us, she tried hitch-hiking home.

Before long, we had found our trail and hit our stride. How lucky to find this guy, right off the bat! Calvin was sure it was a snapping turtle.

I was captivated by all of the brown and green. Such a contrast, which I always love.*

Calvin found many sticks along the way. This "T" was his favorite, although for all of his love for the T, he ultimately decided that it was a "lower case j". I didn't realize he even know what "lower case" was all about, but this wouldn't be the first time he surprised me.

Ruby continues to perfect the charming head-tilt smile. Such a cute, little trooper.

Mmmm. A little periwinkle in with the brown and green.

I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but I love the look of exasperation exuding from the back of my favorite unruly head of hair.

What makes these holes? Is this what a woodpecker aspires to?


In the home stretch, Daddy swooped in and saved Ruby's day. You can probably imagine the whining that this inspired in my son, whose legs are actually shorter than his sister's.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Potato Creek - Part I

Sunday was a dream-come-true of a day. We couldn't not go off on an adventure. Well, we could have, but that would have meant that we stayed here at the homefront and worked, and who wants to do that? Plus, it was too windy to paint the rest of the fence. My attempt on Friday provided me with more than enough double-platinum blond highlights.

I thanked my lucky stars that I had stocked up on turkey and salami at Grandma's Pantry the day before.

The kids took naps on the way over while Cory and I listened to Shenendoah and then Brad Paisley. I confessed a slight crush on Brad Paisley even though he's shorter than me. Cory pretended to be bothered by it, until I said "Would you rather I have a crush on Tim McGraw?" That shut him right up, because I'm sorry, Tim McGraw isn't a real country singer any more. And he can't really play the guitar. After settling all of that nonsense, Cory confessed a slight crush on Brad Paisley, so I guess we're even. We both think it started when we saw him in concert last year.

I can't get enough of those almond eyes.

Right after this shot, Calvin took a bite out of his strawberry and held it up saying, "Look! C for Calvin!" I'm not sure why, but it melted my heart a little bit.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm It

I was tagged by my friend Alyssa. Here goes!

8 things I'm looking forward to:
Home-grown strawberries
Springfield Extravaganza
Larry's barn
Trying my hand at gazpacho
Elizabeth Berg book signing & reading
Buying scads of perennials
Meeting our next baby/kid (this is not an announcement, btw...)

8 things I did yesterday:
Went to Grandma's Pantry
Ate Port-A-Pit chicken
Baked mini corn muffins
Watered my flowers
Kissed my babies
Laughed with friends
Wished for a nap
Cracked myself up

8 things I wish I could do:
A proper cart wheel
Overcome my fear of the bobbin
Clean the toilet without gagging
Become a morning person
Be paid to go flea-marketing
Meet Rush Limbaugh
Grow hollyhocks
Learn to make a decent pie crust

8 shows I watch on t.v:
Friday Night Lights
Dateline: Mystery
30 Rock
The Office
America's Next Top Model
Gossip Girl (don't judge me)
Sid the Science Kid

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just the Way I Like It

Today seemed like a perfect day to show you some of my favorite places in my home. They define my style and just plain make me happy.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I could stare at this little corner of my living room forever.

I think it's one of my favorite spaces because it mostly came about by accident. That chair is not a custom slip-covered piece where I can "just throw 'em in the wash!" In fact, it is part of the set Cory and I bought from his Aunt for $200 about 11 years ago. I was still in my royal blue/lime green/bright yellow phase then. Yet after all of those years, and 4 different residences, the chair still fits right in. It has probably never been more at home. Don't look too closely, because it's a hot mess underneath those pillows, but I still love it. And who wants bright white stripes, anyway? The light beige (aka dingy) stripes actually work quite well.

The coasters sitting on the $15 Ebay type-writer table were terra cotta saucers in their prior life.

My mudroom window. I adore it. Those curtains shall go down in history as one of my all time best flea market finds ever. In the history. Of the world. $5 for the pair and the colors and print couldn't have been more perfect if they had photo copied a picture straight from my brain. They were meant to be mine. I love the contrast of the light blue walls, white trim and flowered curtain with the black hardware and numbers. Someone recently asked me what the significance of the numbers is. My response: "There is no significance. I just like them." This was met with a blank stare and the sound of crickets chirping. Maybe I should dream up some significance. Any ideas?

I found these glass beaded knobs years ago and finally found a home for them - the cabinet under the farm sink in the mudroom. I love, love, love juxtaposing old with new, dark with light, girly with utilitarian. This completely fits the bill.

This old, chippy piece of trim was discovered many moons ago at The Longest Yard Sale. It was my first pick of the day. While it's somewhat normal to see pieces like this used inside the home, 7 years ago it garnered many looks of "Seriously?" We screwed it right into the wall and now use it as a picture ledge, near the dining room table. And those cute babies? They're mine, too. Note to self: It's time to have new pictures taken...

This last pic, taken from my guest room, illustrates another deeply held design sentiment of mine: Bright flowers are the perfect counter-point to light walls and neutrals. They are my favorite means of introducing pops of color to my serene surroundings. If only I were rich and could buy fresh flowers every week. If only my green thumb weren't actually brown.

Take a look over at The Inspired Room and Hooked On Houses for loads of other lovely ideas.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Blue Suede Shoes

Do you have a clear memory of what you were like when you were little? I find myself wishing that I could remember more. I'm sure it's all part of my almost-midlife crisis. (Other elements of said crisis are: finding it to be a real chore when I have to make myself "presentable", coming within an inch of chopping my hair off every-other-month, an increasing fondness for ice cream, an intolerance for uncomfortable clothes, becoming even more of a hermit, etc.. etc...) It's a real doozey of a crisis, as you can see.

I catch myself trying to recall what my days were like when I was little Shannan Garber. I know that I was generally happy and quite care-free. I know I was loved, daily. Every minute, in fact. I know I had everything I needed and most things I wanted. I know I was taught not to ask for things - to be content. I know all of these things, but I'm grasping to capture a few vivid pictures of the mundane moments of my life. They are there, I know they are. I just need to dig a little.

Here is a memory that I've plucked from the archives and tossed safely into my memory jar: I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and school had just let out for the Summer. We were gearing up for the annual Strawberry Festival, where my dad competed on a ridiculous obstacle course team of other 30- and 40-somethings from the area. If you know my dad, and most of you probably do, he took this very seriously.

The night before the big day, my mom took my brother, my sister and I over to K-Mart for our Summer clothes. I probably got 3 or 4 pairs of shorts (I don't think I was at the "jams" stage yet...I'm pretty sure I was still at regular ol' shorts) and I surely got a couple of t-shirts and tank tops as well as a pair of thongs. (Flip flops? What the heck are flip flops?) All I remember for sure is that I got a new pair of Traxx tennis shoes. Royal blue faux suede with white pleather stripes on the sides. Basically, the modern-day equivalent of the cheapest shoes you find on the rack at Meijer. They didn't even come in a shoe box, if that tells you anything.

As soon as we got back to the truck I begged Mom to take the tags off so I could wear them right away. She pulled out the cigarette lighter and burned off the nylon tag, which blew me away. Who knew there was a gadget you could pull out of the dashboard that contained a ready-made orange flame in the end? I hopped into the back of the truck (the actual bed of the truck - it did at least have a cap!) and we headed home. I knew for sure that I was going to look so great the next day in my new shoes. I knew everyone would notice and that probably some people would be jealous. I knew I would be able to run faster. I knew I was very special, in part because of my new, blue shoes.

I don't remember how the following day panned out. I'm sure I was dressed and ready to go well before it was time and I'm sure I had a fantastic time at the festival. I'm sure I felt so proud of my dad for being the Best one on the team (I was positive that he was) and I'm sure I thanked my mom a hundred times for my new clothes.

Now, I look back and realize that it is likely that no one really noticed my new shoes and if they did, they may have felt sorry for me - just a little. My new shoes did not make me cooler. They did not make me run faster. What they did do, though I didn't realize it then, was instill in me the idea that happiness is found in contentment and contentment is found in gratitude. This lesson has become muddied and then clear again, over the years, but I'm so thankful for it. And I'm even more thankful for the memory.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saturday Spring

We were very busy on Saturday. That sun! That sky! I will never complain about working on such a beautiful day. Never ever.

And please, be a pal and don't remind me that I just said that in the coming months.

One of my tasks was to transplant some overzealous hollyhocks.

Have I already told you how much I love hollyhocks? They are my favorite, right next to peonies. I have not had any luck growing them so far, but I think this may just be my year.

I also brewed us up our first batch of sun tea. I think it's going around that this is unhealthy, but we tend to throw caution to the wind around here.

I hung my first load of worsh on the line. Flannel sheets on the line in April. Welcome to Indiana.

Cory strong-armed the neighbor into plowing our garden. We've got big plans for this area. Some might call us ignorantly optimistic, but we'll just stick our fingers in our ears, sing the next verse of our favorite Kenny Rogers song, and keep on trucking.

Finally, I found this little guy while I was meandering about our yard. Wait a minute, he's probably more of she, what with the nest-sitting and all.

Regardless, finding this little brown nest, in one of our random, brown trees, was one of those moments where I had no choice but to smile big and thank God for loving me. This is the way He loves me, I swear it. He knew that seeing this mama in her nest would make my happy, so He made sure that I noticed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yo. Yo. Yo. - Revisited

This post previously aired on November 25, 2008 over at my old blog. I don't know what to tell you, other than I was in the mood to see it again. And it's rainy outside, which always brings out the lazy in me.


My son has a ghetto streak a mile wide.

Yeah, my shirt's on backward and I'm rockin' this 'do rag. What about it?

Don't let my smile fool you...I'm hard core. With my wife-beater tucked into my Cars boxers.
And my gold chain.

And my carrot.

Fear me.

Watch yourself, Diddy.
I put this ensemble together myself.
Ski hat. Check.
Cabela's key holder. Check.
ND t-shirt - belted. Check.
Cowboy boots. Check.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Second Best Sandwich

I have already shared the Best Ever Sandwich with you a week or so ago. Don't get me wrong - it really is The Best.

But this baby here has been pulling a close runner-up, lately.

Look at all those veggies! It's true, I'm practically a vegan.

Now, here's the scoop:
1 toasted Everything bagel
1 slice of Colby Jack or Cheddar (Put it between the two slices of bagel right away and it'll get good and melty.)
1 large slice of honey smoked turkey, folded
1 slice of hard salami

OK, this is where it may get a little dicey, for you health fanatics...

1 fairly generous schmear of whipped cream cheese (plain).

See, that wasn't so bad! Trust me - it's not the same without it. And I promise, you'll feel better if you keep reading.....

Pile on:
1 large leaf of lettuce (I used red Romaine)
1 thickish slice of tomato
Several thin slices of cucumber
Several slices of avocado

Final touch:
A few globs of cranberry mustard. (It's the stuff that looks like barbecue sauce in the photo.)

Now, open wide - and have a napkin handy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Give Me Dirt

This is me in Spring:

I love getting dirt under my nails and then I love coming inside and scrubbing it out with the Williams Sonoma Asian Plum Mandarin soap and the little nail brush. It's so gritty, so cleansing, so...dichotomous.

Calvin picked the above flowers just for me and requested that I bring them in and put them in a vase. Gives a whole new meaning to "bud vase".

I did a little of this last evening and have much more in my near future. My practically-professional photographer husband was photographing me unawares. Had I known, I would have done something with my hair! Put on a little make up!

If you look closely, you'll spot the J Crew clearance Wellies. Toldja.

Here's a shot of our home, just waking up to Spring. That's me in the background, hoisting some God-forsaken weed out of the flowerbed. I tackled all but the gigantic (think pumpkin-sized) thistle know, the real prickly, mean kind. In fact, that's the official name: Prickly Mean Thistle Weed. How do I go about getting rid of such an intruder? I was serious as a clogged drain when I said I'm winging this.

Mmmm...look what I found!

Hello, my pretties!

So glad you're back.

Be sure to zip on over to The Inspired Room and Hooked On Houses to see what other folks have been inspired by this week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pie and Such

As I was saying, I made a few treats for the Easter egg hunting gang. I love cooking fun stuff for people. It has to be fun stuff, though. For instance, I do not enjoy cooking Hamburger Helper. It just doesn't ring my bell. Don't get me wrong, I do cook it, every now and then, but I'm certainly not happy about it.

For this occasion, I decided to make mini berry tartlets with lemon whipped cream and the legendary raspberry cream pie. This pie is a family favorite of ours and although I had only made the tarts once before, they were super easy and drew raves. Then again, I made them for Cory and Rich, and they're not the most discriminating critics.

I also saw fit to pull out my yo-yo runner, newly purchased from Home Goods. Why, oh why, do we not have a Home Goods near us? It's not fair. Someone even asked me if I had made the runner. Ha! I had to laugh at that one and I'm positive that my friend Jess is laughing right along with me.

The berries look sort of shrively here, but cut them some slack. I told a couple of people that the strawberries came out of our garden, which drew immediate looks of bewilderment and confusion. Apparently it was necessary to add "by way of the freezer", but honestly, it seemed like a moot point to me.

And no, I did not make my pie crust from scratch. Who do you think I am, anyway?

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Easter Bunnies

I have always loved Easter. I love it that it is a holiday that the general population still celebrates. I like it that I have a very focused reminder, every year, of my Savior, who died specifically for me. I find more and more that I feel the weight of Good Friday, and I'm thankful for this. I don't know that I will every fully experience it, but with every year that passes, it hits my heart a little more closely. I think it's part of growing older...having kids...remembering all of the piles of ashes I have created as I burned my blessings to the ground, and then watching Him make them beautiful again.

It's so interesting to try to teach all of these truths to my kids. I tried to find every opportunity during the Easter season to talk about them, and hopefully some of it stuck. Either way, we'll keep yakking about it. It's one of the things we do best around here - we never stop talking. There are times when I get so tired of my own voice, but with two chit-chatters at my heels, it doesn't look like it'll be slowing down any time soon.

This little girl really loves her brother.

I really love this little girl.

Here they are, out in the cold, without jackets, before we left for church.

I am telling you, she can't get enough of him.

We remembered late on Friday night that we had not given any thought to Easter baskets. I got this gene from my mom. We rustled something around on Saturday and presented it to the kids after lunch on Sunday. This was not really planned, but I liked the fact that our Easter Sunday began with church and this came after the fact. I think it is a tradition I will continue; that is, if I don't entirely forget the baskets next year.

After a fantastic potluck at Aunt Donna's house (someone brought that cheesy broccoli and rice casserole and it made my day), the whole brood drive 2 miles down the road to our house, for the big Easter egg hunt, which was planned and executed entirely by Cory's cousin, Kelsi. All we did was show up. To our own house. Oh, I made some treats, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

This is Calvin and his best buddy/cousin Jake - off and running!
Note 1: Calvin initially came down dressed in a tank top and basketball shorts. I told him he had to have long sleeves and pants on. He trudged back upstairs, and re-emerged in pajama pants, topped in pajama shorts. Then he put on his church shoes, which really completed the outfit. Apparently we're taking slapdash dressing to a whole new level. After lunch, I was able to convince him that his basketball shoes would help him run faster for the egg hunt.

Ruby loved her first hunt, too!
Note 2: Scroll back up to the top of this page to witness the progressive expansion of her hair. I love it every step of the way, but it really is quite amazing!