Sunday, October 21, 2012


I spent a wonderful hour at the garden center near my house that I love so much this afternoon.  I have told the girls that if Scott ever needs a gift idea for me, just send him to The Growing Place and tell him to pick out anything there for me... plants of any sort, garden accessories, seeds, bulbs, components for creating a fairy house, statuary, trellises... really any of it.  I love all things gardening, especially the way they are displayed at this place, with its lovely idea gardens, all artfully planted and tended.

Today was so pretty, sunny and blue skies, fall colors blazing.  The girls came with me, and I reminded them on the short drive to The Growing Place to soak up the vibrant colors of the leaves and sky so they can be warmed by their memory during the bleak days of winter (this idea is from the mouse, Fredrick, in the storybook by the same name).  We all agreed to do just that.  :-)

I went right to the perennial tables at The Growing Place.  There aren't many left at this time of year, only a small fraction of what is usually offered.  But I came today knowing that because of how late in the planting season it is, the perennials are being offered for 50-75% off their regular price, and since I have added a new perennial bed this fall, I have space to fill.  I knew the plants wouldn't look great by now, but I was a little surprised at how bedraggled they appeared.  Many had drying and withering leaves underneath and they all seemed like they had definitely seen better days.  I poked through them, reading labels and turning pots around and around, looking for the ones that appeared to be worth buying.

I had picked out a couple of plants when a sweet older woman, her white hair pulled into a bun at the nape of her neck and topped with a ball cap, approached me.  I know this woman to be a long time employee of The Growing Place, and quite wise in the ways of plants.  She looked at some of my plants and answered some questions I had about particular varieties.  Then she said something that has seemed more and more profound to me as I've thought about it the rest of today.

"Remember, you are buying the roots."

In the climate where I live, perennials die away every year.  At least the part we can see does.  But when the weather slowly warms again in the spring and the sun shines longer each day, they slowly re-emerge, sending up new plants that grow and blossom.

I bought a lot of plants today.  How could I not, at 50-70% off?  Most of them don't look too good.  But as I took them out of the small black plastic pots that have held them captive all season and planted them into good soil late this afternoon, I thought about their great roots.  I thought about planting things that look half dead.  I loved having my hands in the dirt.  I loved the digging of holes and filling them with good roots.  It was kind of like planting bulbs, tulips and daffodils, knowing that there will be a long, cold wait until the beauty appears.

Gardening is like that.  Dirty.  Waiting.  And then beautiful.  I like it.  What a great idea God had.

P.S.  A few have asked me what I planted... most are unfamiliar to me as of now, so I really look forward to seeing what they do next year!  Here are the names:  Crambe cordifolia (also called Colewort- this looks SO interesting, it supposedly grows 4-6 feet high and has huge leaves and clouds of tiny white flowers), Phlomis fruticosa (also called Jerusalem Sage), Campanula, several red Coreopsis, Sweet William, Veronica "Blue Bomb" (also called Speedwell), Silene caroliniana (also called Wild Pinks), some perennial snapdragons (really different looking foliage than annual snapdragons), Lychnis chalcedonic (also called Maltese Cross or Jerusalem Cross, has bright scarlet flowers), and last but not least, Armeria juniperfolia (also called Alpine Thrift).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall and Family

Yep, I'm taking the easy way out and making one post out of the last few months.  Some eye candy pics of autumn in the Midwest, lots of pictures of cute kids (cousin visits are the best!), with a few dog pictures thrown in for fun.  Enjoy!

Last garden harvest... love the colors.
Miss Adelaide, playing on the same elephant slide at our church nursery this morning that Gwen used to love.  :-)
We spied these pumpkin stacks at a fall festival... so clever.  I'd like them all for my yard!
 Out for brunch with Pa and Nannie, Aunt Sarah and Adelaide.

 Smiles with sucker sticks... where is yours, Aunt Sarah?
 Look who's in charge.  :-)

 We had so much fun with all these girls in the house!  Cousin visits, so fun!
 Yep, this was at the very beginning of fall- marshmallows on Grandpa and Grandma's patio.

 Meeting new cousin Zion for the first time.
Gwen and Caleb roasted marshmallows over the stove a few weeks ago- not quite the same as a campfire, but it's still sugar.
 Trigger loves a good ramble almost as much as I do!

 Trig gets so much attention when there are girls around!  Thanks for the cuddle, Maggi.
Classic Madelyn look, she's always got to shake up the group picture scene!  Cal's friend Parker has been here with him for the weekend a couple times, love having my kids' friends around.

 Another Zion meeting...
 Ahhh... missed the maples so much while we were in Shanghai.  So beautiful!

 Cute girlies!
 Loving the leaves... and I love having my kids enjoying them with me!
A little fall overview... can I consider myself caught up on blogging, sis?  :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Month Without Blogging and a Half Bath

My sister texted me this morning and asked if I had any blog posts in me.  "You really need another post."  True, I know it is true.  I have left this blog languishing for nearly a month.  Not sure why... we've had wonderful visits with extended family, the autumn colors that we missed so much in Shanghai have been glorious, a new nephew has been born, Caleb has brought friends home for the weekend, and slowly but surely we are finishing up the renovations in our house.  So it's not as if there haven't been events to note and photograph and post about.  Maybe I've just been lazy... but maybe so many things have changed for us that now that I am figuring out what my life looks like in this new phase, it hasn't seemed like there has been a place in it for blogging.  Not sure.  But for now, I give you this little remodel~

In this post I have a "before" and several "afters" from the little powder room update we've just completed.  The sink came from the Hong Qiao flower market... Shanghai friends, you probably know even know the booth where I bought it.  I'd hoped we could incorporate it into this little half bath, and I'm so pleased with the results!  The wall paint color is more blue than it looks in these pictures.  The vanity is the same old oak one as in the "before" photo, but painted soft black, and the counter is a granite remnant.  I found the mirror at a thrift store for cheap and spray painted it as well.  You'll notice a few other Shanghai treasures... fun memories made with friends when these things were purchased during our last year there.  The two framed photos on the shelves were taken by a friend within the month after Gwen came home, in early 2005.

So that's the powder room renovation.  We've worked our way through the house renovating... and we're slowly remaking our lives here in Chicago too.  :-)