Chocolate covered mint leaves

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Last night after dinner while Hannah and I were sitting on the back porch chatting, she began picking and nibbling on mint leaves from a plant growing in a big terracotta pot. As I watched her, I remembered a fun idea I had read about and told her to pick a small bowl full of the largest mint leaves she could find. Looking a bit puzzled she followed orders while I poured chocolate chips into the double boiler to melt.

My chocolate loving girl’s eyes immediately lit up once she realized that we were making after dinner mints!

Chocolate Covered Mint Leaves

20-30 fresh peppermint leaves
a few handfuls of chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

Wash and dry mint leaves. Heat up chocolate chips and coconut oil into a double boiler and stir until smooth. Turn off heat and with tongs or tweezers dip leaf into chocolate and lay on a sheet of wax paper. Freeze for a few hours. Store in an airtight container in fridge.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

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A few years ago my aunt Patty brought this Humpty Dumpty pattern back from a trip to England in hopes that I could knit it for her grand-daughter. One of the B&Bs she stayed in on her trip was owned by a knitter and pattern designer.

When she first presented it to me I was rather intimidated since my typical projects include chunky cabled hats, socks and mittens. This pattern looked like a lot of work with lots of intricate detail, I had never knit anything like it. But I didn’t have the heart to say no and decided I was up for the challenge.

Well that pattern sat ignored month after month until it was announced that my aunt was due for her second grand-daughter. I had no choice but to bite the bullet! I hemmed and hauled my way through numerous craft circles agonizing over the pattern. I’d put it down for a month and then pick it up again until this last month when I was determined to finish it in time for the birth of my cousin’s second baby.

My “just a little bit” goal paid off and I have to admit that I am pretty darn proud of myself for not giving up on Humpty Dumpty. He was completed this past Friday and given to baby Marion, named after my Pop’s mother.

The funny thing is we all think Humpty looks a bit like Pop:)

In the garden

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Every year I make quite an extensive list of all that I would like to accomplish in the garden. The list includes the introduction of new plants, transplanting, dividing as well as several infrastructure projects. I am relaxed and realistic about my list and know that we will most likely not get to all of it.

This spring I hit the jack pot when my mother’s neighbor (who was moving) opened up his garden for us to dig up and transplant an amazing variety of plants!

I am happy to report that so far many projects have been crossed off this year. Some, we are in the process of and others are planned for the fall. What doesn’t get done will simply move on to next year’s list.

2015 Garden Plan

:: Incorporate more evergreens in to my landscape

I have planted rhododendron, a few different varieties of Laurel along with Leucothoe, Sweet Bay and Holly.

:: Plant more deciduous flowering shrubs

I have planted several varieties of Hydrangea along with  Fothergilla, Pieris, Nandina, Deutzia and Callicarpa (Beauty Berry).

:: Remove dead climbing rose around kitchen window and replace with autumn Clematis

I have removed the rose. My aunt Patty has dug up an autumn Clematis from her garden for me.

:: Remove English Ivy on house

A big project that we plan to do this fall.

:: Plant a Liriope hedge in front of rock wall

Check!

:: Plant peanuts, broad beans, purple sprouting broccoli and elderberry

I planted peanuts and elderberry. I have always wanted to grow purple sprouting broccoli but have not had luck in finding starts for sale. Next spring I will be sure to order the seeds to start along with broad beans.

:: Plant more flowering bulbs in fall~ Narcissus, Tulip, Muscari, Allium, Crocus  and Galanthus (Snow Drops)

I’ll wait until late fall for sales and deals on bagged bulbs.

:: Prune pear tree

Will do so in late winter.

:: Rebuild back porch

We are almost finished!

:: Build stone wall around the front of house.

This will most likely move on to 2016’s list.

:: Hook up rain barrel

Hooked up!

:: Lay stone path in back garden

This is back breaking work and I have decided to use my “just a little bit” rule with this project. With a pick ax and shovel my goal is to fill 4 buckets with dirt every other day for Chris to haul away. Once the path is dug out we will begin to lay a pile of foraged stone.

:: Build cob oven

Moved to 2016’s list.

:: Rooftop beehive on top of shed

Moved to 2016’s list.

A few snippets

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1. Most of my houseplants have  taken a summer holiday out on the back porch and patio. They are all so happy and content out there that I didn’t have the heart to bring one back in for an empty spot on the credenza that was calling for some green. Out on an adventure with my mama yesterday, I picked up a trailing ivy which fits perfectly there. There’s always room for one more plant.

2.While walking down an alley on my morning walk with Harry yesterday I stumbled across a patch of sunflowers. There was a pair of scissors hanging on a cyclone fence with a little sign that read “Please cut me!” So that’s just what I did.

3. A deck of  cards lives on the dining room table these days for impromptu games of Flip(also known as Golf) and Trash. I may be a little addicted.

4.On the same morning walk with Harry, I spotted a hedge of hydrangea in full bloom along the play ground. There were no scissors hanging nor a sign inviting to pick. I did anyway.

5.During these dog days of summer, the pantry is well  stocked with bottles of tonic and seltzer.

6. I found that antique hanging soap dish last week at a fair. I have always wanted one but I’ll have to wait for the cool days of autumn for a hot soak. Nothing but cold showers these days.

Window boxes

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When Chris and I were first looking at houses to buy before we got married there were a few “must haves” in my mind when considering what was important to me in a home. The house needed to have a fireplace. It needed to have a decent size kitchen (large enough for a sitting area). And a backyard of some sort was also very high on the list too. Original woodwork, radiant heat and a corner property in the heart of town were all bonuses when we found our house.

As we settled in my “must have list” began to grow with built ins, a claw foot tub, wainscoting, cedar shakes, a chicken coop, an edible garden and a place to hang window boxes to name a few. Lucky for me my Pop was kind enough to grant many of those wishes including the boxes that live under my kitchen and dining room windows. Maybe it was all of the Beatrix Potter and Eloise Wilkins books from my childhood but I always envisioned my house having window boxes overflowing with geraniums and begonias.

Since my boxes live in very shady conditions I am limited to shade loving plants. This year I planted a variety of begonias along with Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’ and Helichrysum petiolare. I love the ever blooming nature of the begonia mixed in with the deep purple Tradescantia and the grey, trailing Helichrysum. I used straight compost to keep the plants well fed and lush until frost.

Relying on annuals each year for planters, pots and window boxes can be costly. Both begonia and Tradescantia are easy to root in water and I have already begun to start new plants to winter over and supplement into next year’s boxes.

I love how the boxes transform both the outside and inside of my home. They cast beautiful little shadows on my walls indoors and their colorful scenes are so soothing as I wash dishes and sit down to a meal.

Cherry tomatoes

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It’s been a good year for cherry tomatoes. I tucked them in amongst phlox and rudbeckia along the sidewalk where they get a bit more sun then other places in my garden. I used these to trellis this year. They are both sturdy and attractive and I love how easy they fold up for storage.

A few weeks back I had noticed many clusters of almost ripe fruit on the plants. When I went out a few days later for a taste there were none to be found. I chalked it up to dog walkers until Norah fessed up to being the tomato thief. I beat her to it this week!

I am aware that I am teasing you in this post with shots of the almost finished back porch. There are a few tasks still to be completed so I will save it all for it’s very own post. Soon I promise!

A visit with Nan

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A few weeks back I had the pleasure of spending the day with Nan.
We spent time in the kitchen baking, ate lunch and drank several cups of tea together.

Visits are so different without Pop but it felt like he was with us all day long.
It’s comforting to Nan that his beautiful carpentry work is throughout my entire home.
We travel from room to room and reminisce as she strokes the many built-ins and woodwork that his hands once touched.

Another year at the lake

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We had another blissful get away to the lake this summer.

The perfect reprieve from the hot and sticky week we had back home.

The weather was glorious and although it is so very hard to leave we all feel rested and renewed.

Just a little bit

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Recently I was inspired by an article a friend posted on Facebook about a mother who limits screen time by essentially giving her kids unlimited screen time. It’s all accomplished with a list and once that list is completed they are free to stare at a screen all day long if they like.

The list is comprised of 4 or 5 “must dos” each day such as reading, keeping a tidy room, making one’s bed, homework and to engage in something creative for at least 45 minutes. Her children also have to complete one chore each day. The idea was that through these daily expectations, her kids might get wrapped up in some of the items on the list and that screen time may not even happen at all some days.

I decided to create our own modified version of this approach (with the help of my girls) and for the most part it is working for us. To be honest we don’t spend a ton of time on screens but I thought it might be a good way to encourage team work around the house and to instill a sense of routine and accomplishment each day. I love a good list and my girls seem to as well.

Not long after creating their list I began to ask myself why should this apply to just my girls?

Although I tend to not be the most consistent person in the world, I do appreciate some routine in my life. I have created some daily rituals that I truly appreciate and thought a few more were in order.

And so my own list was created. It’s a short and simple list, just the way I like things. My only rule was to choose things that brought me complete joy.

I have titled my list Just a Little Bit because I have found that if I don’t put any expectations on the items on my list other than to “just do a little bit of…..” , I tend to enjoy them more and find that sometimes I will spend a bit more time doing them than if I had a specific time limit or goal. Even if I only spend just 10 minutes in the garden or knitting just a few rows, it all adds up in the end. A little bit of something can lead to a lot. And with all of the other things that need to fit into a day, doing just a little bit of something feels more achievable and less overwhelming.

Today I set out with the intention of doing just a little bit of weeding. Before I knew it an hour had flown by and I had the entire front garden weed free!

I have been keeping to my list almost every day and even though we went away this past weekend I was able to keep to all but one item since most of them are portable.

I like how all of the items on my list are both enjoyable and lead to an accomplishment of some sort. Although I guess you can argue that all things enjoyable lead to joy and happiness which is a fine sort of accomplishment in my book.

My list is as follows.

Every day try to do just a little bit of…..

Knitting
Reading (a book)
Writing
Playing music (piano and/or ukelele)
Gardening

What are you doing just a little bit of each day?

Side note: My garden is happier than ever this summer!