Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Thing I Miss Most About the Farm

Since we moved a little over a year and a half ago, I haven't really missed our farm.
Isn't that weird?
I think so. I never could have called it.

I feel nostalgic about it. I miss "the space" in that theoretical, pioneer-dreaming sort of way.
I get a little angsty when people talk about how living in the country is such a great place to raise kids.

We're city slickers now. We're rooted. 

But lately...

I find myself pining for a garden and trying not to rend my garments when I think of our current yard, devoid of all vegetation. Nary a tree or flowering shrub to be found. A postage stamp of yellowish-green, unfortunately situated on a wonky incline.

I mean, really.

I took last summer off, living in the BDR. I didn't think twice. A garden just wasn't a possibility there. But now it is, and I'm struggling to remind myself that luscious vegetation doesn't spring up overnight. It's slow going in the beginning. And it costs real paper money.

So we'll do what we can do. We'll start small, but we'll start. We'll build some boxes. I'm sure I'll find a patch of dirt to sift through. With any luck, I'll find some weeds that need pulling.

In the meantime, I have a summer of this a mere 3.5 hours away.
My dad has become a serious gardener.

We had gardens when I was a kid, but I hate to say, they looked nothing like this.

He's made me a believer in raised-bed gardening.
Raised beds are manageable and make fantastic use of small spaces.
Also, they're easy on the eyes. (Hard on the heart. At least right now.)

Last year Dad upped his own ante with the design and fabrication of the Dwight Garber Deluxe Seed-Starter System, aka "The Contraption". It takes up a good bit of the living room. My mom loves it.

When you drive down the road, the house casts an otherworldly glow.

He's starting 7 varieties of tomatoes, squash, zucchini,  8 kinds of peppers, zinnias, marigolds, and herbs.  I'll totally be pilfering some of each.


Dad expressed concern that I often post "bad" pictures of him on my blog. Well, he can't complain now, can he?? I call this "The Thinker".

When I was in high school he was the supervisor for a concrete job for a new Sears being built right beside an Olan Mills studio and a Merle Norman.

Next thing we know, he surprises my mom at Christmas with a professional portrait. Of just him. There's another one somewhere with several different poses cut into ovals and arranged most attractively with an oak frame and a double mat.

No one will ever know if he also scored a Merle Norman make-over.

So there you have it, my dad in a nut-shell. (Only that's not even the half of it.) My gardening hero!

Now it's your turn. What advice do you have for me? Where do I start? I need flowers and hummingbirds in my life. I need weeds and climbers and peonies and perennials. I need long stretches of time spent in the sun, on my little patch of earth, whether it's 6 acres or a postage stamp. Limelight hydrangeas around the front of the house? Do we dare use space for a strawberry patch? And what about trees? Shrubberies? What are your favorite perennials? We're a blank slate, Honeybees. (Also, we're zone 5, just fyi.)


  1. Reading this I just really want to come hang out with you and your parents! You dad sounds really really cool. :)

    I wish I had some gardening advice, but unfortunately I'm lucky if I can just keep the weeds down! Ha!

  2. Can't wait to see what you come up with! And as for strawberries - grow them in a strawberry pot. Or even a drilled 5 gallon bucket. xo

  3. we are inner city/urban ministry dwellers. while it took us a few years, we did end up with a great garden, the we add to almost every year. and we are in the same zone as you (we're in muncie, in). our strawberries have rocked. they are going to take over our whole garden. raspberries have done great. blueberries hate us. tomatoes, peas, green beans, and herbs have all done well.
    another thought, if there is an empty lot in you neighborhood, and i'm guessing there likely is, start a garden there. a few people from our church did-a community garden per se. kids come help weed and water, plan and harvest. neighbors eat fresh tomatoes, and i can go split things at the end of the season that are overgrowing their spaces. :)
    garden away my friend. being in the city does not limit this.

  4. Plant a few trees first thing, they take longer, but last a lifetime. When you get older, you will seek shade! Yes on the Limelights and the strawberries (in a pot or two) and the raised beds (lots of them, Dad). That should do you for this year ;-)
    Love this post, Shannan, so hopeful and full of life. Enjoy.

  5. Container gardening - carrots, lettuce, herbs etc. can all be grown in pots. Move them around as needed. I get some of my best carrots that way and everything comes out way cleaner! Also, when we moved a few years ago, I thought about starting asparagus, but it takes 3 years to really harvest. It seemed like too far away. Now I wish I had done it!

  6. I know NOTHING about gardening, but I do know that the photo of your Dad is stinkin' hilarious and I think I just peed a little.

  7. oh my! That really makes me laugh! Sounds like something my dad would do :) Very Nice picture Dwight!

    Last week the kiddos were discussing Keisha as we were heading home.. So we decided it was necessary to go around the block to honk at your parents house. Miss seeing them. Should have stopped.. maybe next time so I can admire their seedlings in person ;)

    We are venturing out this year... our own plot of dirt is in the works! Starting small. somewhat. I have 3 different kinds of beets on my order form!! My 'fresh veggies out my door' eyes are getting bigger each seed catalog I look at.

    Lastly I have been wondering when that big camera of yours is going to capture those swoon- worthy greenish-blue carriage doors in P. hill. (northwest of the square) It's a disservice to your readers, I've decided :)

  8. Your dad is awesome. You picked a perfect picture to post...remember when those shirts were all the rage? 1990, right? : ) I am glad he is able to garden so much at his home. My Daddy is not able to garden right now because he was hurt when he fell a couple of months ago. Next week he has surgery and I am so worried about him. He said it is not a big deal, but still. A hospital? 3 freaking nights? WHAT!

    I can't wait to see your lovely gardening : )

  9. Maybe just get some chickens! that's my latest (illegal) dream

    Also I'll never get tired of hearing about your fam. That photo of your dad...CLASSIC.

  10. Totally showing the DG Seedstarter System to my husband. He is always looking for more ways to use random PVC pipe in the living areas of our home.

    I say absolutely yes to strawberries! And blueberry bush(es). And cilantro.

  11. I cannot stop laughing!!

    That pic of your dad- your commentary! My god, made my night! Lol lol lol!

    I laughed heartily earlier today watching Ellen. A man perhaps your dad's age doing gangnam style dance- then his dog semi attacks him- he screams and runs out of the room, and Ellen says something akin to " everyone is tired of gangnam style!"

    Your post made me laugh just as hard!

    I thank you! Xo

  12. Find a patch and dump zinnia seeds and you'll have butterflies. Also you can do a salsa garden all in containers.

  13. If all you had posted was that pic of your dad and the word "shrubberies" I probably still would have commented. I don't have winter or "planting season" to contend with here, but EVERYTHING has to be full-equatorial-sun tolerant. I just don't know if Iiiii am that tolerant. But I spent a too-large percentage of my grocery bill this week on a handfull of imported blueberries and will spend part of my afternooon figuring out how I might cultivate some more. If it's even possible here. So in the name of people not on your continent who cannot enjoy berries without paying a hefty price, plant the berries. Straw, blue, black, raz, whatev. That's my vote.

  14. I am wishing I had a farm more these days than ever, though I live in the country but in town! I plant lots of pots with flowers move them around.Hanging flower baskets work well too! Also I have hummingbird feeders....We have a deck and a very small backyard so it's very limited space.

    Tomatoes and strawberries grow well in pots as well as peppers.Oh ya I also saw tomato plants growing upside down in hanging pots.

    Your daddy is precious and his garden looks fabulous!

  15. I'm in zone 5 too. My first go-to plant when I move into a home is lavender. It hearty, pretty, drought tolerant, requires little care, and smells yummy. I like pairing them with boxwoods for a little structure. And you should totally go for a strawberry patch. You'll thank yourself for ever.

  16. I am no garden expert,(I stick to tomatoes and blueberries only, easy to grow and love them enough to eat them everyday!) but know someone who is!
    Check out
    Last year Mavis grew over 2,000 lbs. of food in her backyard! She's in a totally different grow zone, but you can find oodles of info with step by step instructions on her blog that's perfect for beginners!
    She even has examples of vertical strawberry patches and other ideas for a postage stamp size garden!

  17. City girl here. I have a 5 X 8 foot balcony that I pack with plants each year. My suggestions:
    1. Never underestimate the power of containers (pots being the most obvious containers). Containers go where the sun is. If you have a favorite plant (rosemary or lavender, sigh...), you can bring it inside for the winter and have the promise of a bush within a few years. Houseplants that summer outdoors get gorgeous and huge. Invasive plants (like mint) can be controlled.
    2. Focus on herbs. The perennials will over-winter in containers if you nestle them up against the house or give them a little cover. They are so expensive to buy cut, but cheap to grow. They make your garden smell wonderful (lemon balm, thyme) and you'll eat like royalty all summer.
    Have fun!

  18. Your dad is amazing! That picture is amazing. Is he going to love you or be mad at you for that?

    I love the seed starter. My daughter and son-in-law used their dining room table to start their seeds this year. I just watch them in awe. They also acquired bee hives and a hive of bees. Is she really mine??

    Now I want a raised bed. Seriously.

    When you mentioned strawberries I thought about my grandmother who used to grow strawberries in pots like this: They didn't take up much room and she raised plenty of strawberries in them. That's all I have for you. I do not possess a green thumb. :(

  19. A hummingbird feeder--you can find an inexpensive one (we have one), and start with some potted flowers by the front door or walkway. In the fall plant some tulip and daffodil, and lily bulbs--those will come back every year-SO YOU ONLY PAY ONCE.
    Also, put a regular bird feeder (homemade or not--doesn't matter) and hang it in your yard where you can see it from your kitchen sink. That always reminds me of spring/summer.

  20. Zinnias sweetie, zinnias! They just get sown right in the soil (I did two raised beds right as you walk in our crazy garden). You sow right in the soil....some one week, some the next for prolonged flowering. We had a bazillion hummingbirds and butterflies. So EASY! So bright and cheerful. So perfect in a mason jar on the dining table...or a neighbors step to brighten their day! Zinnias!

  21. your dad?? pretty sure he's my hero now too. awesomeness!!

    I know how you feel about wanting to green up your yard. it usually hits me this time of year too. the stores with their fresh, clean pots and those big bags of soil?? love every bit!!

    I love hydrangea bushes...they're big and beautiful!! not sure if they work in your zone, but I love 'em!

  22. Ohmygoodness--I love this! My dad has the same thick, meaty, manly hands (and I think even the same head!). :) And gardens (and contraptions)(and construction jobs--no kidding, his Easter gift to me was roof liner from the new Kohl's in town--he thinks it will make great shelf liner for my pantry--I think it just might. ;). When we go "home" to PA in the summer one of the first places we stop is his garden--his raspberries are legendary. :)

    I can't wait to get our hands in the dirt this year, either! :)

  23. You MUST garden! You MUST grow things! I keep telling my kids that gardening is my favorite way to worship! Pulling weeds? Cleansing to my soul! So here is my must haves/can't live withouts: Zinnias (LOTS)-easy to grow and lots of color and great for flower arrangements, Spinach (can be container grown), Peas (start them now, again can go in a container), BASIL (again LOTS of it and I almost always stick it in a pot), a few tomato plants, sunflowers and nasturtiums (swoon). I know you are near amish country. Our favorite plant store is the amish run plant store just outside our small midwest town. I let each of the kids pick some bedding plants and we fill up whatever containers we have to add color. My favorite container to plant veggies and flowers in? Old galvanized wash tubs. They can usually be found under $15 each at thrift stores/antique shops. Pound a few drainage holes and add some dirt and get planting.

  24. I LOVE hydrangeas. They're fabulous, and the acidity of the soil makes them certain colors, so thats fun AND a learning experience. I'd suggest some container gardening, honestly, to start. Carrots grow great in cool weather & potting soil. Potatoes are likely the MOST FUN EVER to pull up at the end of the season, and cheap to start/grow. Honestly, I'm a big root vegetable fan. Fruits seem more tricky to me, as they require a lot of attention paid to the soil to get them to grow/taste right. I'm feeling the gardening itch as well.

  25. That story about your dad giving your mom those studio pictures is the best!!!
    Container gardening is so fabulous in small spaces. Also don't forget window boxes - that way you can take advantage of your vertical space and enjoy those plantings from inside too!

  26. we built raised beds last year and i'm excited to plant again if the snow ever melts. :)
    i totally want that contraption thing for my house! totally rad!
    your dad is so awesome!
    i love peonies, hydrangeas, black eyed susans, sedum for the shade.
    lily of the valley, zinnias, marigolds.....etc, etc, etc!

  27. Find somebody that will let you take a start of their peonies -- nothing is so lush or finished-looking quicker. If you're transplanting now, make sure to take as much dirt as you can with the roots and get them in the ground the same day, if possible, or the next day at the latest. Wrap the roots in damp newspaper and then in a garbage bag to keep moist.

    And get you some clematis -- Lowes often sells small ones pretty cheaply. Put some 2" chicken wire over your mailbox post (and mailbox, too) and let it clamber up and over. It will take a season to get established, but next year it will be beautiful (make sure to get a type 2; type 3s will eat your mailbox. They'll be beautiful, but you'll have a hard time getting your letters).

    This summer, look for hollyhocks blooming in the ditches or in people's yards. Ask for some seed or take some if it's in a ditch. It sprouts very easily and looks so cottage-gardeny.

    Sunflowers are easy from seed; so are cosmos; so are zinnias. All get big and showy and you can fill in until your perennials take off. Cosmos will come back from seed every year. Daylilies: someone always has daylilies to divide. And they will grow almost anywhere and bloom the first year.

    Hostas for your shady spots -- again, I always seem to know someone dividing their stuff, so if you know anyone with hostas, ask if you can take a start. Right now is a good time to transplant.

    Herbs: I thought this was cute and am going to do something similar for my herbs this year. Basil, cilantro and dill are all easy from seed. Thyme and Rosemary I would buy in pots and transplant. Awesome to be able to snip thyme for roasted chicken or basil for caprese salad. Or fresh cilantro for salsa (or thai food, or Chinese, or just nibbling on leaves) -- wow.

    A rosebush would be my splurge, but not the stuff from the garden center -- the big fat old fashioned-looking Austin roses are the ones that make me all swoony. But, not to everyone's taste, I know.

    Wish you lived closer to me (I'm in Iowa) -- I'd totally set you up.

  28. My husbands dad recommended we not due a raised garden because of sitting water. We have just a regular old in the ground garden. Our corn, onions, green beans are doing great. We are planting tomatoes and peppers today. I am also starting my very first herb garden.

  29. LOVE this post!
    I have become a gardener "slowly" over the last 5-6 years. It all started when I was teaching and we would study our "plant" unit. I realized how excited my students got over "real gardening", so we began to incorporate it with our own cherubs at home. I think it would be great for you to do this in your new community!!!
    My husband has been the physical strength behind all the big labor like earth tilling, etc. But the kids and I have planned, purchased, planted, harvested, and eaten the goods! We had a nice dark rich soil after just 2 years of gardening organically. To "activate" our soil we tilled in some dry manure, organic soil, and lime. We LOVE Lake Valley Organic Seeds. They are SO tasty and have yielded us MUCH success! The kids EAT everything we grow! It is AWESOME!
    We are Zone 6 (Lancaster County PA) so here is what we have had success with: radishes......super easy; New Danver Carrots, beets, salad mix (which can be cut and grows back!), Norland Red Potatoes (YUM!!!), and okra (This has a BEAUTIFUL bloom as well!), cucumbers. We try to offer our kids a mix of plant "growing" types: roots, vines, etc.
    We also have a separate strawberry patch which has yielded a LOT of berries for the last 2 years. Year 1 we just established the patch.
    I also recommend zinnias, hydrangeas, coral bells, COSMOS (will grow quick and motivate your children....lasts through the late fall), and peonies (but plant away from your house as they draw ants).
    You might also want to introduce your kiddos to a ladybug house, butterfly larvae, or praying mantis pods which can be ordered online and then released outside when your garden gets growing. Maybe your parents even have some of these on their property which you could bring inside for observation. KIDS LOVE THIS!!! (***IF YOU DO A PRAYING MANTIS POD, BE SURE TO USE CHEESECLOTH OVER YOUR JAR BETWEEN THE LID WITH HOLES OR YOU WILL HAVE BABY PRAYING MANTIS EVERYWHERE! )
    Oh, and maybe you and your girl want to create a "fairy garden" in amongst all this fun!
    Well, these are my starting suggestions. I got a little excited! We love gardening in our house, even on our small piece of land! Our cherubs range from 2-10 in age and they all get in on the fun!!! I hope this can help inspire your ideas!!!

  30. I know nothing of gardening, but my husband (and therefore and I) are trying this year. I think he would covet your dad's plant light contraption because currently there are little plants growing in his office until it is time to move them outside.

  31. Well Miss FPFG, my husband and I are gardening for the first time ever this year! We are excited and perhaps in over our heads. My man built me 7 lovely raised beds and we have a few planters too. Seems like a lot for a total novice, but we're going for it! On the good advice of gardener friends we're following the planting techniques in the book The Square Foot Garden by Mel Bartholomew. They say it works, I am hopeful :)! Anyhow its perfect no matter how much space you have and you're in total control of the soil, which I like. Hope you grow some tasty things this year!

    Your dad is adorable and an amazing green thumb from the photos, wow what a gift!

  32. Between the plants growing in the living room and "the thinker" you just made this not so much of a morning person laugh.

  33. There is nothing like the country in the midwest! I know nothing of gardening. Sorry. The picture and story that goes with it about your dad crack me up!

  34. With the "thinker" portrait and the gro-lights in the living room, your Dad is officially a "character". In the best sense of the word of course! I recommend a butterfly bush for many many flowers. It attracts butterflies and hummers like MAGIC! Very easy to grow, give it a buzz cut if it gets too crazy and it comes back without missing a beat.
    Patti in NYC

  35. Good for you! I must dig in the dirt, as well. It's a drive that I cannot contain. I'm an odd combo of hardcore/lazy gardener. I love doing it, getting dirt under my nails, pulling weeds, starting seeds and nurturing them to big plants... that is, until it's 115 degrees and hasn't rained in a month and then I want to set it on cruise control and only got outside to quickly harvest then seek the A/C again.

    My advice: start small. Plant what you like to see (ornamentals) or what you like to eat (vegetables). For me, that means peonies and hydrangeas, tomatoes and peppers and onions and asparagus and herbs. Zucchinis, cukes, green beans, pumpkins and melons, too. This year, the front flower bed is going to be peonies, hydrangeas, strawberries and sweet potatoes.

    I also got the seed starting bug a few years ago, and have built my own Contraption in the garage, with a timer (remember, lazy!) and shop lights on one of those $50 target chrome shelves. The eerie glow from the windows when I come home at night makes me sure that cops will think we are growing something illicit in the garage. It's just tomatoes and peppers, I swear! Ok, a few eggplants, too!

    If you are going to add trees, you might think about fruit trees. Remember most veggies will need 6-8 hrs of sunlight per day, though, and a full grown tree will cast a lot of shade. We can't do so well with raised beds here (too drought-y in OK, so they dry out terribly), but I've got plans to prettify my functional 15x15 garden square.

  36. I lived where you live (the big metropolis of Goshen) for 7 years. My hand ACHED to be in dirt, I made a garden out of a 1/4 of my measly back yard. We had a fence around it. I dug deep and planted perennials all around the house and deck because they were so easy to take care of, and came back each year without fail. There is a lady in my cozy New Paris who sells perennials each year for $1/pot. No joke. I've increased my flower gardens each year from her stash. She is the landscaping lady at the Elkhart County Fair so she KNOWS what she's doing. email me if you want directions. The easiest perennials to start with, LOTS of hostas, irises, peonies, and daisies. I have all of those and more scattered throughout my flowerbeds and garden. Good luck!

  37. Look for what you can source locally before you plant anything. I don't bother with strawberries or blueberries because we have great u-pick farms 20 minutes outside the city where we live. Then start by planting what you like to eat.

    For flowers, get the word out to the older ladies at your church that you'd be happy to come dig up their yards and help them split their perennials. I put in a whole new bed of perennials last fall from stuff ladies at church wanted to give away. Can't wait to see how it all comes up this spring (I'm in zone 5 too, so tulips and daffodils are just barely coming up). And I'm looking forward to at some point in the future being able to share them with someone else.

    P.S. Love your blog. Came here initially to read your adoption story, and I find your words to be so encouraging and life giving that I can't stop reading.

  38. Raised beds are the way to go! Easy to weed and keep up and somehow organizing all your pretty plants in a container makes them even prettier:>) We put pavers between ours and I love the look. I've done the gardens on the ground and now the raised beds, and the raised beds win hands down. Don't worry, even a small yard can be a garden, and the kids will love it!

  39. the two things i can grow:
    1. dandelions
    2. tomatoes

    so pretty much you do not want my gardening tips. although i did see the loveliest rusty bunch of giant metal tubs housing raised garden beds on pinterest, and they spoke your name to me.

    never mind, you were the one who pinned them. i've got nothing.

    ps mint! i can also grow mint like you wouldn't believe.

  40. Do you have a community garden in your area? I haven't gone to one myself, but know many who have. Since your home garden will have to start small, a community garden may be a great place to see how different plants grow in your region so each year you can add to your own home garden things that will not only survive, but thrive.

  41. I had to skip gardening last year due to knee surgery so I am chomping at the bit to get started this year! Let me know if you want raspberry starts!
    Also, your day's contraption looks awesome. My oldest son would cry with admiration.

  42. Nothing like a clean slate. Your imagination is the limit :)

  43. SO my husband is the gardener in this house, and he does a little bit of everything....tomatoes and peppers for me, corn for the little one, flowers...and this year I asked him to do herbs. We've always had great luck with basil...will grow into a flippin tree! SO this year we're going to try some others.....

    but my tip was this: since you mentioned finding soil and it costing of "real" dollar bills-- I wondered if you'd thought of/tried composting. We've been doing it for years now and it produces amazing rich soil. There is a science to composting: 20% this, 20% that, can look it up, because honestly we just throw what we have in there. We do throw everything in there--except for animal product, of course. But all left over veggie/fruit scraps, peels, cores, etc, coffee grounds, my husband does throw in eggshells too...even though some will say not to. mheh. Anyway, its a great way to see the full circle of life, helpful to you and to the environment.

    Happy planting!

  44. I love a clean slate. I have to completely redo my raised garden this year because the wood has rotted, so I guess I'll also have a clean slate after some back breaking removal of trillions of pounds of dirt. :)

    If you haven't bought anything yet consider buying through They offer coupons all the time and their products are great and prices are reasonable. I believe they will ship you your plants when they are ready to be planted (in your particular zone).

    I hope you post about your postage stamp garden adventures!

  45. Ditto to Jamie Draper's comment! We do composting too. It makes me happy to throw banana peels, apple cores, and even my coffee filters (they really do decompose!) into my garden. It makes our worms so happy and if the worms are happy, my beans are happy.
    I have seen some very clever vegetable plantings stuck right in with landscaping around a house. So pick that south side of the house and see where the sun hits and hit it hard with tomatoes, pepper plants and maybe a trellis for a cucumber plant! They really can grow vertically! Happy green thumbing.

  46. Try Freecycle. I would love to split my hostas and share them with someone and I know I am not alone in this!

  47. We use strawberries for ground cover! Start with a couple of trees. My fav is Autumn Blaze Maples, they are fast but sturdy growers and their fall colors are breathtaking!

  48. We use strawberries for ground cover! Start with a couple of trees. My fav is Autumn Blaze Maples, they are fast but sturdy growers and their fall colors are breathtaking!

  49. Shasta is right. Right now is the perfect time for planting strawberries in Zone 5. Cover a big patch with them. I did this about four years ago, moved away from my house and moved back. They are still there! Also, do you like arugula? It grows like a weed. I grew so much last year, I had to work to make it go away. It will grow in this weather and last until it gets hot. All lettuces will do well now. They like really mild weather.

    I used this two years ago to plant a huge garden. It was really helpful. Seemed to work.

  50. My Dad is a super gardener too. (Well he was - he hasn't planted the past couple years due to some health issues but keeps the beds up so they are ready). Our house is built on what used to be a farm field with wonderful soil where we had a large garden for years. Then (possibly because my husband likes to practice golf where the old garden was...) our space changed and we made raised beds in a different area where the soil we added to them was new - all the difference was in the soil. We were good gardeners (canning the abundance and sharing with family) and now have had to begin all over. This is our third year and with the help of our own composter we have amended the soil to a much better quality. We also used to not go organic but have switched over so that had it's own challenges. We garden on a smaller scale now too.

    We made a tiered raised bed for strawberries which makes great use of a smaller space and we get a lot of berries. Those and the raspberries are my favorites!

    Best wishes with your farming in the city! (And definitely plant hydrangeas...and lilacs...and...)

  51. My dad is a master gardener,too.
    I grew up hating it because he MADE us work in it all summer long, but now those are some of my best memories.

    I am literally DYING over here over that picture of your dad. Any man who will go sit down and have a 16X24 portrait made of themselves is a MAN in my book.

    I also just about DIED over how much I'm sure your mom LOVES the contraption in the middle of their family room. This also reminds me of my dad. He doesn't have that one, and I'm SURE not gonna show him or my mom may send you hate mail, but he's got his own version of the contraption, and it's in their kitchen. My mom LOVES it, too.


  52. oh, merle norman.
    also, i am grateful for your hope and these lovely photos of growth.

    i love you heaps.

  53. I miss you and spying on that photo of dad hovering near the spare bed... xx

  54. I am so glad to have this picture of my cousin. He's rockin' the watch tan like no other. And to think this was a surprise. L-O-V-E. You tell him I said so.
    As for gardening. How about aquaponics? We're all about that over here...and taking it to Mexico to the orphans, too. Pretty sweet stuff.

  55. ^ I second the remark abut square foot gardening by Mel bartholomee. It is the best book ever! ( from starting seeds to harvest)I also agree with everyone else about the Zennias. They are easy to grow and showy. I want some Morning glories too. I have a brown thumb but have enjoyed my knockout roses, I buy a few each year when they go on clearance, I've also started hydrangeas from cuttings, google it. I love my hydrangeas! I put herbs in pots last year instead of the garden and used a new soil by Miraclengrow that holds water - I was actually successful and they are beautiful! (I'm telling you, I have a brown thumb!) enjoyed this post about your father, mine grows a garden big enough to feed several families, I kid you not. I don't know where this man came from, rows and rows of corn, rows of okra- itchy stuff! He and mom put up salsa and spaghetti sauce because the tomatoes went crazy- while we spend $ on mushroom compost and all natural bug killer- ended up with one, yes one jalepeno plant. We had jalapeno poppers all summer and fall. Win some and loose some.

  56. I am DYING over that picture of your dad! Like, spit my milk out of my nose cracking up. Your mom is a lucky lady. ;) also? It somehow explains a lot about you. Ha!
    Sorry, no gardening advice- my thumb is as black as they come. I'll live vicariously through your garden!

  57. Oh my goodness, that picture of our dad is awesome! I am sitting here dying laughing over the Olan Mills pictures, the mattes, the frames ~ love it. By the way, his garden is beautiful!

    We have very little sun in our yard but its enough for one small raised bed and I love it. I plant tomatoes, herbs and jalepenos (for salsa and hummus). It's just enough for us and I enjoy feeling like a gardener. ;)