Archive | Garden

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Discovering a Museum Gem – The Chicago Botanic Gardens

We are blessed in Chicago with a plethora of renowned museums, but I rarely visit any of them.  I think it is a function of taking them for granted because I live here.  Also, as an introvert, I don’t find them particularly relaxing.  There is a lot of noise and crowds and I feel like I need to comprehend every piece of information that is presented to me.  I leave most museums filled up, but also exhausted.  However, I recently discovered (or rediscovered to be more accurate) a museum of peace and beauty at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

A friend of May Meets June (who is also our wonderful blog designer) works at the garden which put them back on my radar.  The Chicago Botanic Gardens are located in the northern suburbs of Chicago and a short car ride from my home.  

I have always loved gardens although I am not a gardener myself.  I love to look at other people’s gardens.  My grandmother always had a beautiful flower garden with lots of cutting flowers, which one of these days I may try and replicate.

My mom and I visited on my birthday.  We enjoyed the beautiful plants and flowers, and had a refreshing lunch with a glass of wine under a canopy of green trees overlooking the blooming rose garden.

This museum felt peaceful.  There were people and there was information about the plants to read which could have overwhelmed me.  Instead, though, being in a beautiful natural setting just exuded calm and was refreshing.  Rather than a museum it felt like a giant park.  

If you have botanic gardens in your area, I suggest you check them out for a moment of beauty.  They may be a gem for you to discover.  Your soul and spirit will thank you. -June

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. 
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

 

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Our Backyard Makeover

My backyard has always been my sanctuary.  I love to garden and over the years we have slowly turned our yard into a bit of an oasis. Our home in the suburbs of Chicago is in close proximity to our neighbors, and as much as I enjoy them,  I wanted an outdoor space that was private and beautiful. We put up a privacy fence several years ago, and since then have added layers of trees, bushes, a pool, and beautiful flowering plants to the space. We also had room for a vegetable garden. Honestly, I think I’m going to miss my backyard the most when we move later this summer. Isn’t that how it always is? You finally finish a project, and then it’s time to move on.

The backyard here in Charleston is very different. There is only one neighbor right next door. We have a wooded area behind us and a pond on the other side, so I’ve been taking my time being in this space, to get a feel for what I ultimately want the yard to look like. I want the surrounding landscape to influence our yard, if that makes sense. By the way, that ugly satellite dish is going to be removed.

The previous owners were the original owners and kept the landscape that was original to the house, which is pretty basic and blah. The front yard was easy because there wasn’t much to do in such a small space, but our backyard is quite large and has lots of possibility. Like my previous yard, this space is going to take time to create but there were a few things I wanted to get done right away. We started with planting a natural wall between our yard and our neighbor’s. They have a young child and two large dogs and there was nothing separating us but a fence. I shared my ideas with a landscaper and am very happy with the end result. The landscape extends along the back of the garage and along the back fence. Over time the bushes along the fence will grow tall and fill out, making that area of the yard very private.

We have a very large oak  and pine tree in the yard that were overgrown and made the yard somewhat gloomy. I had them trimmed up and shaped and now there is definitely more light back there. We originally thought we would put a brick patio around the screened in porch, but the root system on the oak was going to make that very challenging, so we decided on a deck. I am really happy with the finished product and will seal it in the fall, when it isn’t so hot and humid. It’s going to be a great area to spend evenings with friends or read a good book.

As much as I love the oak tree, there isn’t too much that can grow right under it, plus I’ve discovered that oaks are always in a state of shedding something including leaves, acorns, and twigs. Plus, it is dripping with Spanish moss. We created a stone path that goes from the deck to the driveway, garage, and backyard. It looks great, is functional and it’s easy to maintain. The heavy downpours down here always resulted in a big muddy mess in this area, and now the water just soaks into the stones, and the best part- no muddy paws to wipe!! I’m also planning to put a hammock under the trees, perfect for lazy Sundays. I don’t know if I’ll get to it this year, but how cool would it be to hang an outdoor chandelier from one of the branches of the oak tree??

 

We have a screened in porch out back and didn’t do too much to it, other than add windows to make it more user friendly. Every time it rained it would get soaked inside and it was a huge mess when I arrived the week after hurricane Matthew came through last fall. These windows are a breeze (hence the name EZ-Breeze windows) and were easy to install. We don’t have an eat in kitchen and since the room is small, I decided to fill the space with a table and chairs allowing us to eat meals overlooking the yard. I added a rug for texture and will bring in just a few more finishing touches. Now the room can be used all year round. I am an early riser and love sitting out on the back porch with my coffee, listening to the birds, meditating and setting my intention for the day. Nature is the perfect place to do that.

Now I’m starting to dream about phase 2. I think I would like to soften more of the fence with low growing plants, but I also need to keep it simple. I am quickly learning that summers down here are continuously hot and humid, and I won’t be able to garden the same way I did up north. So, this is our yard, just a start but I think it’s going to be a beautiful journey.

Have a great week! ~May

 

 

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Home Inspiration

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous here in Charleston. We were blessed with blue skies, moderate temperatures and best of all, low humidity. It was the perfect weekend to walk the beach, eat at a favorite outdoor cafe, or take a stroll through a nearby historical neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful homes and gardens, which is what I did on Saturday morning. Window boxes are overflowing with colorful blooms and I love that every house on the block is unique and filled with history. If only each home could tell us its story! I love to take pictures of homes and gardens that inspire me, especially as I continue to layer a little southern charm to my own abode.

The flowers are at their peak right now and do so much to dress up these historical homes.

These homes caught my eye and were on the same block, but as you can see very different from each other. I love that about old neighborhoods. I would move into all of them!!

I loved the color on this one. I picture some ferns hanging on the porches and pots of colorful flowers on the steps.

I bet this pink lady was magnificent at one time. The homes in Charleston are never torn down, but restored to their former beauty. I can’t wait to see this one after her makeover!

If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your home, simply walk out your front door or take a stroll  through your favorite neighborhood and enjoy the spring colors.

Have a great week! ~ May

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.

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Curb Appeal- Part 2

Hi, Everyone! I hope you are all recovering from losing a precious hour of sleep this past weekend. It always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things when we spring forward, but it is so worth having longer days. Summer is just around the corner!

A few months ago, I shared some of my curb appeal goals for our new home. It has been a lovely winter here in the south, which was perfect for dressing up our front yard and exterior of the house. I started with a weekend painting project, giving our front door a bit of a facelift. The black door wasn’t doing anything for me, so I decided to freshen it up with a pop of color, and painted it Real Red, by Sherwin Williams. The door required a few extra coats of paint, but I am so happy with the end result, and it got two thumbs up from my neighbors!!  Also, our gas lantern hasn’t worked since we bought the house, so I replaced that as well.

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After

We got to work on the landscape early in February and I was so excited to get two Sabal Palmetto trees in the front yard. The trees look a little skimpy now, but it takes the fronds almost a year to fully blossom and once they do, they will provide a nice layer of texture, plus some much needed shade to the front of the house. We also planted some ornamental sweet grass in front of the palms which will turn a beautiful ruby red in late summer. As much as I’ve loved gardening in Chicago, I know the Charleston heat will prevent me from spending as much time working in the yard during the summer months, so I decided to go with plants that will be a little more low maintenance.

Originally, we planned to repaint the exterior of the house next year, after we settled in a bit. However once the landscape was finished, we really noticed how tired and faded the house looked. The white trim was starting to yellow and peel in a few places, and as you can see in the photo below, the green was really bleached out. Since there is no time like the present, we opted to paint the house now, sticking with the original color of Empire Green by Sherwin Williams. We love it!

Have you noticed our blue ceiling on the piazza (porch)? Blue porch ceilings have been a long standing southern tradition, actually for centuries. Home owners painted their ceilings what is now referred to as Haint blue, which is a soft blue green, to ward off evil spirits also known as Haints. This tradition is very common in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina where both cities have a reputation for being haunted. I was more than happy to continue the tradition, and I love how it looks. Last week I took advantage of the beautiful weather, finished mulching the beds along the side of the house, and now our home looks brand new!!

I hope you enjoyed the front yard tour.  Of course our home will change and grow along with us, but for now, we are thrilled and I look forward to sharing more pictures when the palms grow out. Stay tuned, we are excited about a project we are planning in the backyard.

Have a great week! ~ May

The most beautiful house in the world, is the one that you make your own.

 

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Houseplants

I am not a good gardener but I like to plant things.  In the summer, I love to go to the nursery and buy way too many annuals to plant in the flowerbeds and in containers.  I love to watch those little plants grow from tiny sprouts to big and tall and flowering, so much that they take over the container they are planted in.  I am not the best gardener because I am not good with the upkeep.  I do not like to weed and I often forget to water.

Because of my inattention, I have never had many houseplants even though I love them. I have one small lemon tree that I have managed to keep alive for almost 10 years and it even produces lemons.  In the summer, it lives on the patio but right now it is enjoying the warmth and sun of my dining room.  I also have a Christmas or Easter or whatever season it decides to bloom, cactus.  Lately, I have noticed in magazines, Pinterest and blogs, the resurgence of houseplants.  They look so pretty in a room.  And for someone who loves the outdoor living style but lives in Chicago, it helps bring nature indoors even in the winter months.

Last week, I decided to make a trip to a local nursery to look for houseplants.  In particular, I wanted a maidenhair fern.  The nursery is a very different place in the winter than in the spring and summer.  The outdoor yard is empty.  No trees or shrub to walk among.  No flats of blooming annuals or perennials to choose.  The plant selection is limited to a small indoor area.

I thought these Loco Coco plants were interesting.  Apparently, even though I live in Chicago, I can grow a palm tree in my house.  If I figure out a place in my house for a large tall houseplant, I may need to go back and get one of these.

The nursery had a display of some flowering plants for Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure I could keep succulents alive, since they thrive on low water intake.

I liked this smiling dragon hidden among the houseplants.  In the yard, I often put little statues among my plants.  I have never thought about including them indoors.

This display has to mean spring is coming.  These whirly-gigs are among my favorites. My grandma always had the yellow plastic sunflower ones in her flower gardens.  Because they break, I always buy a new one each year in memory of her.

I decided my lady needed some hair.  The last plant died and so she’s been bald for awhile.  Here she is sporting a new head of thyme.

And finally my maidenhair fern which I made part of the Valentine’s Day display last week.  So far I am keeping very good care of her.  She looks so pretty.

If you are craving some green right about now, go buy yourself a houseplant.  My next foray into houseplant care may be a fiddle leaf fig.  I’m not sure my light green thumb can care for that one too.  Decorating with houseplants is a great way to brighten up your room. –June

 

A sensitive plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan
like leaves to the light,
and closed them beneath the kisses of night.

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Curb Appeal Goals

I’m often on the lookout for homes with great curb appeal. There is always that one house that has it all – great character, an inviting front porch, amazing landscape and lighting. It’s a home that makes you want to curl up on the front porch swing with a good book and a glass of sweet tea on a warm summer night, and watch the world go by.
 Immediately, when I saw our house in Charleston, I knew it had so much potential and charm. We have since enjoyed the process of making it our own these past few months. Although our home isn’t old, it was built in the image of the historic homes that you typically find in Charleston. The Charleston single house dates back to the 1680’s. Many have long porches along the side of the structure for additional living space and the interiors are often one room wide, and several rooms long. The front door leads to the ground level porch, where you will find another door that leads into the house. The houses are usually painted in pastel colors similar to the homes on Rainbow Row, in downtown Charleston. 
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With that said, I have spent quite a bit of time dreaming about our outdoor space. I’m always out walking through the neighborhood taking pictures of landscapes and porches, and I recently started working with a landscape designer. The outside of our home is pretty much a clean slate, which I like because it gives us the opportunity to put our own personal stamp on it. Right now, the house looks a little flat and kind of blah. When I first saw the house I immediately thought I would put shutters on the windows, however many homes do not have them, and often when they do, they also function as hurricane shutters which I prefer. I did some research, and they are a little pricey, so I think for now we are going to start with the landscape, and put the shutters on the back burner. 
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We do know that palm trees, or as they say down here palmettos, are a must. We can’t wait to wrap twinkle lights around them during the holidays and I think they will not only add character to the front of our house, but a much needed layer of texture as well. In addition, we are going to move some of our existing shrubs and plant some colorful ornamental grasses. We plan to add some up lights to the palms as well, for a little drama.
 A neighborhood home
I also decided to paint the front door that leads to the porch. I think a pop of color is exactly what the house needs. After we purchased our home, I subscribed to Southern Living magazine where my front door color choice was delivered right in my mailbox. The house color on the magazine cover is similar to ours and I LOVE the red door. The color is Real Red by Sherwin Williams. I found a store ten minutes from my home, will be purchasing the paint this week, and plan to paint the door next weekend.
 
Work is set to begin next week and I am so excited to show y’all the transformation!
 
Have a great week. ~ May
Life began in a garden. ~ Unknown
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Fall Home

Neighborhood Fallscapes

I’ve noticed in my neighborhood, that October is the month that everyone begins to decorate the outside of their homes for fall. The heat of summer has said its final goodbye, inviting the cool, crisp air to sweep in with the fall season. Of course, with that comes cold noses and hands, and I know I will soon be needing gloves. My doodle Sawyer and I have loved longer walks on these early brisk mornings, and I’m starting to savor the beautiful palate of color as the leaves begin to change from the green of summer, to shades of red, orange, and gold.

I have always enjoyed decorating both the inside and outside of my home for the changing seasons. I don’t do too much, just simple touches here and there to celebrate the beauty of the season we are experiencing at the moment. For me, it has been a busy fall and with an upcoming trip, a seventeen year old who is rarely home, and a husband who travels regularly for business, I find myself keeping things very simple this year.

I personally feel that the outside of your home deserves the same attention as the inside, and have tried to make the outside of my home beautiful with a natural landscape of trees, shrubs, flowers, and outdoor furniture.  As a creative person, I am always on the lookout for new decorating ideas and get so much inspiration when I am out walking. I recently found some great ideas for decorating the outside of your home for fall and Halloween- a festive pop for your curb appeal.

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The front porch is always a perfect place to decorate for the changing seasons. I really loved the simplicity of the porch below.

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Pinterest

Pumpkins aren’t just for carving anymore. These painted and stacked pumpkins can take you right up to Thanksgiving.

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Pinterest

For me, a few velvet pumpkins, fall scented candles, and cozy pillows and throws will be enjoyed inside.  Outside, I potted some mums and soon will place a pumpkin or two on the porch. I will be home from my trip just before Halloween, just in time to hang my witch on the door for the trick or treaters.

“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

Have a great week! ~May

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Some August Favorites

Can you believe we are already moving into the middle of August? Where has the summer gone? Kids are going back to school over the next few weeks, the community pools will be closing soon, and before you know it, we will be back to the more structured life that often comes with fall. However, it is not here yet and while we still have summer with us, May and June would love to share some things we are loving in August.

What May is Loving

Every May, my husband Bob and I wipe off the dust that has settled on our bikes over the long winter, fill our tires with air, and hit the trails in our area. We both are early risers, and love to get out every weekend and enjoy the quiet of the morning. Fortunately for us, we can always find a Starbucks close by where we can partake in our morning beverage of choice, before continuing on our way.

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After a busy week, it is a great time for us to connect and enjoy each other’s company, plus we are getting a great workout too! We have both noticed the subtle changes in the season, especially in the last week or two. The sun is rising a little later, the mornings are a little quieter, and the once active baseball fields have been abandoned until spring. That is ok though, for now it is still summer and I will drink in every moment. My senses come alive as I breathe in the freshly mowed grass, hear the sounds of children playing, feel the warm wind on my face, and see the bright sun against the bluest sky. So far, our journey this year has taken us over three hundred miles, and we look forward to biking well into the fall.

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What June is Loving

June is loving the hydrangeas blooming right now. Depending on your variety, they may have actually bloomed a month or so ago but some are just now starting to bloom.  A lot of my hydrangea bushes bloomed in July but they still have their blooms and have now turned a little lovely light green color.  Next year, I am going to replace a couple of my plants that have not bloomed in a couple of years with a variety similar to this Vanilla Strawberry plant that starts white changes to light pink and then to a strawberry red.  Hydrangea

And my mom has a lovely bush that just bloomed so she brought me this beautiful bouquet today that I am enjoying in my kitchen.

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Hydrangeas are also my favorite because they were the centerpiece to the flowers for my wedding which was also in August.  So I am loving my husband this month and celebrating 9 years of marriage on the 18th.  We have been through some challenges that we never planned or expected on that day, but our relationship has grown so much in that time and I love him even more today.  We still have a lot of fun together and enjoy each other’s company. Although that may be tested when we spend our anniversary in the car for 10 hours on a road trip, but we will be happy to see our family when we get there.

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What We Both Love

Something that we are both loving right now is our summer sandals. Are you surprised? We both love shoes (especially June!) and want our toes to enjoy their freedom before they must be tucked away in cozy socks and boots. May came across these fun little red flats a few years ago, at Nordstrom Rack and although they aren’t great for long walks, they are perfect with a cute sundress or denim shorts.

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June found these fun mint green Minnetonka sandals, which are adding a nice little subtle color to summer outfits.  And they are a wedge so she gets a little extra desperately needed height too.

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Our local farmers market is a wonderful place for fresh produce, especially this time of year. The tomatoes and corn on the cob are at their peak as well as summer fruits, and the fall harvest is just around the corner.

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When we think of August, we are always reminded of the intense heat that goes along with the month, and this August has been sizzling. We have officially entered the dog days of summer, so, who better to talk about the summer heat then Sawyer and Gatsby! Now, you would think that Sawyer would love cooling off and paddling his heart out in the backyard pool, but he doesn’t like the water. We’ve done everything possible to entice him, but he doesn’t like getting wet. He would rather lay by the pool on his towel, looking pretty as he worships the sun.

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However, we are happy to report that last week, when it was so, so hot, Sawyer allowed us to bring him in the water, but not to swim. Bob carried him around the pool while Sawyer rested his head on Bob’s shoulder, eyes closed, enjoying the ride. He is quite the dog.

Unfortunately for poor Gatsby he does not have a pool because otherwise he would be out there all the time. He loves to swim.  When we had a lake house he would spend the whole time in the water fetching tennis balls, which was fine until we happened to be there in November.  He didn’t realize that the water could be so cold.  So during the dog days of summer, Gatsby goes and lays out in the grass or the driveway and cooks himself soaking up the rays.  And then if it is not cool enough in the house he begs for the air conditioning to be turned up, and who can resist that face.

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Hope you are finding some things to love this month!  Have a great weekend. –May and June

 There shall be eternal summer in a grateful heart. – Celia Thaxter

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Our Backyard Bird Babies

There’s so much going on in nature this time of year. Yes, we have all the spring and summer blooms making their grand entrance into the season. Right now my yellow day lilies are starting to open, always in full bloom for the 4th of July holiday. Lately, I’ve been seeing all the sweet animal babies out and about on my walks, and weekend bike rides. Yesterday, I shared the bike path with a gaggle of fuzzy goslings, and while walking that same path, I saw some ducklings swimming on the lake, with mommy and daddy close by. Of course, what they say about rabbits has to be true because there are baby bunnies absolutely everywhere!! I’ll never forget a few years back, my doodle Molly came to the back door wagging her tail with a baby bunny in her mouth. Needless to say, I was horrified. I calmly took the bunny from her mouth and realized it was not only still alive, but uninjured. I found the nest and put it back with it’s brothers and sisters, and Molly was kept on a leash until they safely left the yard. We have a lot of bushy trees in our backyard, which are perfect for nesting birds. Every year we have cardinals in our large boxwoods and robins in our evergreens. This year, however, a particularly stubborn robin decided to build a nest under the eave of our house, over the patio. I really wasn’t thrilled with that location because we are always going in and out there, birds are messy, it’s above concrete so if a baby should happen to fall, it probably wouldn’t end well, and of course we have a frisky labradoodle named Sawyer. Anyone with a dog, especially the hunting variety knows this isn’t a good thing. Every day she started building, and every night I took it down. This went on for several days until I woke up one morning, looked out the kitchen window, and not only was the nest built, she was sitting in it defiantly staring at me. I swear she pulled an all nighter! At this point, I decided to leave her alone.

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The nice thing about having a tall husband is his ability to reach places that are very difficult for me. He was my official bird photographer for this nesting robin and he got some great pictures. I have to say, as much as I didn’t want her nesting on my patio, I thoroughly enjoyed having this bird’s eye (ha!) view of our newest tenants. I’m up early, so every morning I made my coffee and watched all the activity out my kitchen window, or while sitting on the patio. Our robin quickly got used to all of us, even Sawyer who other than sitting below and watching the nest a few times, didn’t give it too much of his attention. Now I would hardly call myself a bird watcher, however I did check out a few facts about robins that I thought I would share with you, along with some photos.

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Robins do not mate for life, however they remain together for an entire breeding season, although many return to the same territory in the spring and often end up together.

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Robins usually lay 4 light blue eggs over the course of several days which incubate for 2 weeks. Most pairs of robins will try to raise at least 3 broods of chicks a year, and both parents care for their young.           IMG_4206

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Chicks open their eyes 5 days after hatching and will fledge one at a time, when they are between 14 and 16 days old.

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As you can see, it was getting a little crowded in there. I thought for sure one was going to tumble out, especially when they started flapping their wings. I’m happy to say they all survived.

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Interestingly, juvenile robins are still cared for by their parents for about 10 days after they leave the nest, until they are more skilled at flying, and ready to be on their own. They also remain with the same group of birds. I have to say, I missed them after they all left the nest, but am happy to report that a new nest has been built, this time in a tree in the front of our house, and so we begin again.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Have a great week! ~May

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is our favorite time of year here at May Meets June. Of course the fact that it’s our birthday months may have a little something to do with that, but to us, it’s also the most beautiful part of the spring/summer. Everything is so green and lush and there is a constant array of blooms. We feel that every home should have some type of garden, whether it’s for vegetables or flowers. The great thing is, you can have an elaborate landscape of blooms, or just simple containers on your balcony or patio, and even flower boxes for your windows. They add a pop of color to any space, plus you can grow tomatoes and herbs in pots as well.

May has always had a vegetable garden. When her boys were little, they would experiment with different seeds and loved watching the plants grow, enjoying a wonderful harvest by the end of the summer. One year they even had a pumpkin!!  Several years ago, May’s yard underwent a huge transformation and alas, the veggie garden had to go. However, all was not lost. An area at the back of yard that didn’t yield great soil, had wonderful light and so, as a Mother’s Day gift, May’s boys built her a contained garden.

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These type of gardens are wonderful if you don’t have great space. You can even buy these contained gardens at Home Depot or Lowe’s, and put them together yourself. These days, May just plants tomatoes and herbs.

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Just planted these a few weeks ago

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Last year’s plants

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Last year’s harvest…yum!

There is nothing like a tomato picked fresh off the vine still warm from the sun.

June did not inherit her father’s green thumb and she hates to weed, but she loves flowers and likes to cook with fresh herbs.  So, she restricts her gardening to low maintenance perennials and container pots with annuals and herbs (and then of course Faye, the fairy, planted her own garden too).

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The lovely peonies are blooming.

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Some basil.

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No idea what this is but it is pretty.

June also has window boxes on the front of her house which require a lot of annuals to be planted.  The boxes face south and get a lot of sun.  After several years of trial and error, June has found that sun loving resilient plants such as zinnias, dahlias, verbena and vinca vine work best up there.  They also need lots of water.  In July, when the heat gets intense and sometimes rain is sparse, the window boxes and often the pots in the back of the house require a good soaking both in the morning and in the evening.

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The plants are little right now.

 

As far as vegetables, June appreciates all the farmers’ hard work at the local Farmer’s Market and the hard work of her family and friends who are gardeners.  Are you listening May?  June hopes you are planning to use some of that tomato crop to make us some ratatouille this year.  She promises to bring a bottle of wine.

Have a great weekend! And, if you haven’t done so already, enjoy the weather and go play in the dirt. –May and June

 

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A Tale About Fairies, a Garden and a Beast

Once upon a time there was a little fairy named Faye, that was looking for a new home.

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Faye looked and looked.  She thought about hiring a realtor but she had heard that it was pretty much a buyers market at the moment due to the popularity of fairy gardens on Pinterest.  She found a cute little cottage.  The foundation seemed sturdy, someone had added drainage holes and it was in her desired location, but the grounds were a little bare.  However, Faye was into DIY projects so a little work didn’t scare her.  She had after all watched a lot of HGTV.

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Faye was on a budget, though.  And while there were many projects she wanted to do, she knew her absolute must project was some landscaping.  The sun was very hot.  Without landscaping she was going to be very uncomfortable this summer.  She searched until she found some magic plants.  The plants had the magical power of multiplying in quantity on the ride home from the nursery where the gardener had purchased them.  The gardener now had too many plants for her planned garden.  The gardener told Faye that she could use the plants for free at her new home.

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Faye is excited that she has nice smelling plants like thyme and rosemary in her garden.  Faye can also use these plants to spice up her cooking this summer.

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Faye also has some coleus.

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Some pretty verbena.

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And some salvia.

Faye realizes that she may end up living in the Amazon rain forest by the time the summer is over because these plants may get really big and overwhelm her little cottage.  She is ok with that.  Faye knows that when fall comes she may decide to replant some of her landscaping with more appropriate sized plants.  She knows most of the fun of having this type of garden is picking out the plants and planting them.

It’s also fun to pick out the accessories.  So, Faye then went to Joann’s and got herself a dog and some chickens.  She also got herself a comfortable chair.

 

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Faye planted her garden.  She also added a wire for some birds to sit, a pine cone and a heart for decoration.  She built herself a pretty pink stone pathway because pink is her absolute favorite color.  She made sure to post a sign right in front of her garden saying Fairies Welcome.  And sure enough, her friend, Iris, came to visit her right away to tour her fairy garden.

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Faye is hoping to have some time to build a few things for her new home and fairy garden.  She may build herself a little hammock and daydream away some summer days.

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Or a swing where she can while away some hours.

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Faye was feeling pretty content with her new home and fairy garden.  However, she did discover there was a gigantic Beast lurking in her neighborhood.

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This is a better picture of the Beast!!!  He looks scary here.  And he is very loud.

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Faye spoke to her new neighbors, the Gnomes.

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The Gnomes said the Beast can be tamed with dog treats.  She was relieved to hear that.  Faye was worried that she was going to have to  find something equivalent to a Prince that could slay a dragon to rid herself of the Beast.  And, in modern times, she knew that most likely she would end up having to rescue the Prince from the dragon.  Have you seen the movie Enchanted?  So, rescuing herself with dog treats in her pantry seems simple.  She is sure in no time she and the Beast will be best of friends in true Disney-esque fashion.  And Faye in her fairy garden and the Beast will all live Happily Ever After.

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THE END! –June

 

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We Love Target! (Part 2)

TGIF!! The weekend is nearly here, and May and June are back for Part 2 of our We Love Target post. Today, it’s all about the home. We found some great summer accessories for both your home and garden. For May, Target is on her list of stores where she shops for great finds when decorating homes for clients, as well as her own house. June has discovered some great finds as well. You can get some fun seasonal decorations for the home, and don’t forget to check out their $1.00-$3.00 aisle for cute seasonal items. Here are a few things we love.

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The Target home department is definitely ready for summer. We loved this color palette and the wonderful textures for the season. Most of Target’s decorative pillows are between $14.99-$24.99.  For that price, you can pick up one or two and easily switch out the look on your couch for the summer.

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  We found these interesting chairs and they were on sale too!  June wished she had the space to bring one home.

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     We also loved this neutral color palette with aqua touches. The wicker baskets are great for storage.

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There was a wonderful assortment of outdoor pillows for $15.99.  These would look great on your patio or back porch.  They are made with outdoor fabric and are resistant to the weather.

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Target has a wonderful section for your patio and garden. Aren’t these gardening boots adorable? These were $18.99. May is thinking about going back for them.  They will keep her feet nice and dry when she is out playing in the mud and planting her vegetable garden this summer.

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There was a nice assortment of watering cans and planters, but these metal ones really caught our eye.  It would make the chore of keeping our container gardens hydrated a little more fun.

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We were both drawn to these adorable gnomes for the garden. These cuties were $12.99 and were the last two left!! We couldn’t resist!! They came home with us and add a wonderful touch to our outdoor spaces.  The myth is that if a gnome has something in his hands, he can’t get into mischief.  I guess because the red hatted one has no hands, we will be safe from gnome misadventures?

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Target is always having wonderful sales, so don’t forget to check out a store near you this weekend if you are looking to spruce up your home for summer.  ~May and June

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Shed Project Management

We have needed a new backyard shed for a few years.  We have a smaller house with a small two car garage and because we like to park both cars in the garage, we do not have a lot of storage.  That means that an outdoor shed is really essential.  A shed was already in our backyard when we bought our house, but it was old back then, and over the last eight years has been getting in worse and worse shape.  One of the walls was rotting and you could see through it and every time there was a storm (or even a light breeze it seemed), a few more shingles from the roof would blow into the yard.  So we decided that this was the year!  No one said home ownership was glamorous.

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So I don’t know how your marriage or household works, but in our relationship there are certain projects or tasks that I take responsibility for, and there are others that are my husband’s responsibility.  For big matters we definitely seek input from the other, but someone has to be in charge, and one person cannot be in charge of everything.  So, for many things it is divide and conquer.  This shed project fell under my husband’s list.

The two of us together picked out the new shed.  Last fall we started looking for a new shed.  We checked out some of the big box stores and then we found a shed specialty franchiser near our house.   However, we did not buy it at the time because it was November and we knew we were not putting a new shed up in the middle of winter, so we waited  until spring.

One thing that is interesting in relationships is how each of you in the relationship has strengths and weaknesses, and how those attributes can balance each other.  I have known this for awhile but I observed this quite clearly during what I will now call “The Shed Project.”

For people who do not know my husband, here are some things that you need to know about him that are important to The Shed Project.  He is very, very smart.  He has an undergraduate degree in Physics Engineering (I do not even know what that is, probably because the word physics alone scares me) and a graduate engineering degree from MIT.  He is extremely analytical and left-brained.  If I ask him to hang up pictures in our house, the tape measure and the level come out.  If I hang up a picture in our house I eyeball it on the wall, get out the hammer, and put in the nail.  He wrote a thesis and I cannot even understand the title, let alone any of the content.  He has taken more math classes than I even knew existed (my niece and nephew have taken advantage of this and he is frequently called on to help with math homework).  He keeps spreadsheets for our finances and his hobbies tend to be things that are tedious, involving details and precision.  However, time management is not his strength.  Although he means well, he constantly underestimates how long it is going to take him to do something.  Also, he does not do a lot of physical labor type projects.  He is great at fixing our computers and all things electrical in our house, but other house projects are generally not his area of expertise. We tend to hire what he likes to call our “extended team” for those things.

Things to know about me is that I am innately good at time management.  If I have a large project or a party to plan I tend to work backward and know how long it is going to take me to complete all of the steps to get to the end result.  I never pulled an all-nighter in college or law school because of this, since all of my work was done with time to spare.  However, I tend to spitball precise projects (see hanging pictures) and as a result often get frustrated when something doesn’t look quite right.  My hobbies tend to the more creative such as crafts, reading and writing.

Finally, the weather broke and we went and purchased the shed.  We decided on a classic barn style shed in a traditional red and white color scheme.  My husband spent a lot of time worrying about the size. Even though this one had the same  footprint, it was going to be substantially taller.  He measured several times.  I, picturing it in my minds eye without a tape measure, kept telling him it would be fine.

The franchise had a price for the shed and install, but then wanted to charge extra for items such as procuring the permit (our village requires a permit for a new shed) and also the demolition and removal of our old shed.  When my brothers were told about that, they were quick to volunteer to help my husband with the demolition of the old shed.

There were months of planning for the new shed.  I think my husband applied for the permit at the end of February.  We had it within a week.  Then he had to plan when to remove the contents of old shed, when to demolish the old shed, and then when the new shed would be installed.  Because the items from the shed were going to be stored on the back porch in the meantime, my only requirement was that The Shed Project was finished so that I could enjoy porch season starting in May.

I think there was so much thought into The Shed Project because he knew about his time management issues. I heard about every step of the project many, many times. Here’s another difference between us.  Most of my planning goes on in my head and then gets done.  Apparently, my husband likes to plan these things out loud to a sounding board.

So finally the shed was emptied of its contents and a date was set to demolish the old shed.  However, we had to have a way to get rid of the old shed because our garbage pickup will not simply take these items if they are out by the curb.  We had to get a dumpster service.  This is where I saw our differences up close and personal.  I looked at the shed and pictured the size of the dumpster in my brain, with no real reference to how big it really was, and thought no problem, it will fit.  My husband measured the old shed and then took the measurements of the dumpster and did math (I’m not sure what kind of math) to figure out that yes in fact the old shed once demolished would fit in the dumpster.

The April Saturday slated for demolition dawned sunny but cold, and the demo team of Tom and my two brothers showed up ready to work in exchange for the promise of beer and pizza once done.  Had I been thinking, I would have gotten all of them Chip Gaines favorite t-shirt “#Demo Day.”

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(Striking a manly pose before the first swing)

Unfortunately, I missed part of the entertainment, but from what I understand, the support beams were knocked out with sledge hammers after the doors were removed, and the shed just collapsed in a fairly neat pile.  I was teasing all of them beforehand that I had my very own Big Bang Theory in the backyard.  They were the start of a bad joke beginning with- what do you get when a Chief Information Security Officer, an Executive Librarian, and a High School AP History Teacher with four graduate degrees between them knock down a shed?  However, they did a great job. The shed was removed and no one had to go to the emergency room.

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And last week the company came to install our new shed.  Isn’t she pretty?

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The Shed Project seems to have come to a successful conclusion.   We have a few small matters left to complete including a light fixture installation and getting the stuff off my porch and back in the shed, but I think we can safely say that my husband did a great job. –June

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A Spring Yard Tour

My Grandma and Grandpa Shepard lived in very Southern Missouri.  It was so far south that you could walk to Arkansas.  But what that meant was that spring came early and winter came late, resulting in a very long growing season.  And both of my grandparents loved to garden.  As gardeners they also loved to show off their gardens so when we went to visit, we would all go on a little yard tour to appreciate their hard work.

They had a little rock house on a corner lot which sat at the apex of where two hills met.  This meant that the yard had a steep incline from the front to the back.  In fact, if you walked down the sidewalk on the side of the house, you’ll see that the city built a few steps because the incline was so steep.  There were some big hills in that town.  Because of the hill in the yard, the garden was broken up a bit to any flat piece of land.  My grandma loved to grow flowers and she lined her front walkway and all around the front of the house with flowers.  She had irises (which she called flags), dahlias and peonies.  I am sure there were others which I do not remember now, although she was into big showy flowers.

When my grandpa was living they had two vegetable gardens at their house, and because that was not enough, he had a big vegetable garden at someone else’s house.  They always grew lots of tomatoes with the goal being to have ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July.  In Southern Missouri that often was a reality where here in Chicago, we are happy if we have ripe tomatoes by the middle of August.  They also grew lots of peppers both sweet and the hottest ones they could stand, plus cucumbers, green beans, pole beans, sugar snap peas and okra.  And my grandma would also plant flowers there including sunflowers and zinnias.

I can remember going on these yard tours when we would visit.  My dad always liked to garden so I am sure they just wanted to show my dad their garden, and because I was kind of a nosy kid who didn’t want to think I was going to miss anything, I just tagged along.  So when I recently found myself in my backyard having my own yard tour searching for signs of spring, it brought back some of those memories.  Also, I am so jealous that when we would visit my grandparents for Easter they already had flowers blooming.  For all of my cousins reading this who live south of me in Florida, Texas and Kentucky, you will probably laugh that this is all of the signs my yard is showing of spring.  I was excited though!  Especially because the day after I took these pictures we had crazy wind and snow.  At times it was snowing so hard it looked like a blizzard outside.  April in Chicago is not kind, but I think there is hope.

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I think these technically are weeds that grow in my garden but they are pretty so I let them stay.

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The first signs that my peonies are coming up.  Peonies are my absolute favorite flower.  Apparently I take after my grandmother and love the big showy flowers.

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The magnolia tree is getting close to flowering.

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I love when we can see St. Francis again.  My father-in-law bought this for us for our garden.  Both he and my husband’s middle names are Francis.  I always feel sorry for “Frank” (as I like to call him) in the winter because he looks cold outside and then when the snow melts he always falls over.  So it is nice to see him looking nice and comfortable back in the garden.

I enjoyed my yard tour the other day.  It was a beautiful 60 degree day and the hints of green are giving me hope that spring really is on the way.  I know when I take another yard tour in a week or two, there will be so much more growth and color.  I really do love this time of year.  It is a time of hope and renewal.  I hope you are able to get out and enjoy it (between the snowflakes for some of us). –June

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