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So long Summer

20 Sep

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This summer felt more “SUMMER” than any summer before. We went to the beach, we lounged by the pool, and really DID all the things, if you  know what I mean. Maybe that’s why I’m so ready to barrel into fall. I actually decorated outside the house yesterday — mums, a Salem witch flag, scarecrows, pumpkins and all that. It’s only September 10th! I think the girls’ ages contributed to feeling like I came alive again this summer. Sharing the best of summer with the girls with no schedule to follow or places to be — it was bliss. We could finally do things without being overly tied to multiple naps or nursing and not having school to contend with was an unexpected perk. Both are old enough to entertain each other, too, so the notion of a beach trip with them on my own wasn’t crazy. The summer overall was a complete success.

We visited the girls’ grandparents’ beach cottage, we did a day trip to York for all the old favorites, we had a girls beach day at Duxbury Beach, hosted Brian’s brother Scott’s family for the local 4th of July parade — a favorite annual event in our town. We even finally did the town’s huge bicycle parade (we’ll go bigger on decor in the future), enjoyed the local library’s programs, “Construction Zone” in particular was a huge hit with both girls, had playdates with old friends and new, and enjoyed some art en plein air, during which Emilia covered her entire body in paint.

 

Brian and I enjoyed a luxurious 24-hour day trip away to Sturbridge, brilliantly scheduled the day BEFORE a good friend’s wedding so we could relax and lounge around and get ready for the event stress-free, and with minimal travel. (Possibly one of the highlights of the summer.) We dined on BBQ, lounged and drank wine and read magazines, and I took at least a thousand photos of the gardens surrounding the Publik House.

I met my sister in Boston for yoga and drinks a few times, we saw Luke Bryan perform at Foxborough, I enjoyed a completely relaxing and restorative girls weekend — complete with yoga — with my best college girlfriends, and started a side-hustle as a dog sitter. Something I never dreamed I’d love, but do. Not only have we been able to test drive what having a pet would be like, we’ve been able to see how the girls are with various breeds and we’re learning so much about what we would ideally want in our future family “dream” dog.

 

IMG_4210This summer also marked the first big trip alone for Brian and I. His work brings him to some desirable destinations, but I haven’t been able to tag along on anything since Emilia was a baby until recently. And thanks to a very generous connection, we were able to not only stay at a Disney hotel, but go to Disney as well. It was was absolute heaven. The trip kicked off on a high note too, because we spent the first night of the trip being wined and dined (while floating in their pool no less) by one of my best best best friends and her husband — and got to finally meet her beautiful baby girl which was just the icing on the cake of a fabulous start to our time away.

img_4074Over the course of five magical days, I inhaled deeply. I slept in. We did Disney. And Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party. We dined on beignets daily. And we toured the Polynesian Village Resort before a deliciously luxurious lunch at Kona Cafe. It wasn’t Ohana, but it had all the ambiance and the air actually smelled like flowers, just like it did in Maui on our honeymoon. It was absolute, complete bliss. I have to remind myself this wasn’t even technically a vacation — Brian was working for a lot of the time. I can’t even imagine what the two of us would have been like if we’d have five whole days to devote to parks and pools and dining.

When we returned home, it was wonderful to be reunited with the girls.  They’d missed us but had a blast with their Nana in our absence. They’d done every fun thing under the sun, were tanned and exhausted and happy to see us and thrilled to see the treats we brought home for them. All in all, a summer so great that for once, I didn’t feel any regret or longing as we rounded the corner into September. We spent Labor Day weekend at MiMi and PaPa’s beach cottage, then returned home and got prepped for the first day of school. There was a haircut. There was a trip out to restock the school snacks. A lunch box was purchased, and then we eagerly announced to September: fall, we’re ready for you. So long, summer!

 

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Currently Googling: Garden Edition

21 Jul
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From last year’s Dallas Botanical Garden Trip

I have a confession. I “Google” in the garden.  It’s not that I don’t have a library’s worth of books and garden magazines I can reference, but I’m impatient. My mom and the organic gardening group I belong to are invaluable resources too, of course, but when I need immediate answers, I turn to the web.

Since I’ve been learning so many new things lately, I thought it might be fun to track and share some of the questions + answers I’ve been researching, since some of you may also be novice gardeners like me.

Here’s what I’ve had on deck for July 2019:

Why isn’t my bougainvillea flowering?

Don’t overwater! Blossoms happen on NEW growth and the dirt should be dry before you give water. Water is often withheld in order to force blossoming. I can report that after about two weeks of consistent water neglect, my baby bougainvillea is finally flowering and she looks beautiful.

How do you plant potatoes? Is there anything I can plant with them to deter potato beetles and other pests?

Sift soil so it’s not rocky, then bury seed potato with eyes about 4-6″ deep. The more eyes = the more potatoes, however, they will be smaller whereas a potato with fewer eyes will yield fewer larger ones.

Mound soil into hills over the seed potato so it is completely covered. As the blossom end grows, continue to mound soil so the potatoes are NOT EXPOSED TO LIGHT. If they are, they develop a poisonous chemical and turn green. You would have to eat quite a few green potatoes to get sick, but why risk it. Just hill that dirt up.

The best defense against potato beetles is being proactive. Check plants for signs of damage or the pests themselves. Remove and squish (or however you wish to dispose of.) I also read that diatomaceous earth sprinkled over plants can help deter pests because it is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica which causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.

Is stump removal better than stump grinding? 

Stump removal is costly but it effectively takes up not just the tree stump but the roots as well. This can make it easier to plant another tree in its spot, if desired. Generally, wait about a year though. Grinding is a great option if you don’t plan to replant and the stump is an eyesore.

What is eating gently curved munch marks in my plants — specifically, my zinnias.

This sounds like a leafcutter bee or slugs and snails. There are a lot of organic methods to control slugs. This was a great guide to some basic ones. My attitude towards bees however, especially native ones, is to let them be. No pun intended.

What are the earliest spring-blooming tulips?

This guide by Longfield Garden was very handy.

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Hope you enjoyed that. Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for the August edition. And while you’re waiting, feast your eyes on this absolutely gorgeous planter I spotted at a local outdoor mall. Stunning, right? I’m looking for inspiration for my fall planters and window boxes and love the combination of evergreen and ivy. It would make swapping in some annuals a bit easier if I had a base, season to season. More on that later thought.

 

 

My Goal to Simplify

19 Mar
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Note: This post was actually penned LAST winter (in 2018) but I only just sat down to finish it. Whoops. Better late than never, right?

For the past few years, I’ve become more and more interested in simplifying. Initially I thought this had to do with trying to control the chaos of kids and wanting to make my day to day easier. Fewer toys = less to trip over, I reasoned.  But as I reviewed the trajectory of my life, my relationships, my career, and how I spend money, I’ve realized it’s much more of a tune-in to wanting to better focus how I spend my time.

To say that I had a rough past few months would be an understatement. I suspect touches of post-partum depression were to blame, paired with a long, cold, winter. Just when we thought we were out of the woods, BAM. Snow storm at the end of March. It’s just not RIGHT I tell you.

This relegated me and the kids to the house for much of February and March. It was really brutal. When you stare at the same modest square footage of a house every day with two kids, filling the hours in a day can feel like a millennia; some days, I don’t know how I even survived until Brian walked in the door at 6 o’clock.

To a degree, I spent a lot of the later winter and spring in survival mode. I’m in a much better place now and it absolutely has to do with my burning need to be outside as much as humanely possible.

Only recently did I realize just how poorly I was directing my precious daily minutes towards tasks and activities that were NOT in service to my life’s goals, wishes, dreams and ultimately… my happiness.

Oprah Magazine

I owe a chance grab of a magazine while at the gym this past Monday for this life-changing revelation. As most incredible things start, it all began with Oprah. Specifically, O magazine. I’d done an intense strength-training session and usually cut my time short so I can pick my kids up in under an hour, but for some reason, I was pulled toward the recumbent bikes. (Cough: Laziness) I’d intended to sprint a quarter mile on a treadmill (since my cardio has been abysmal lately), then head home, but when I saw some fresh magazines on the rack, I made a beeline for them. I grabbed a People and for some reason, Oprah was just calling to me from the cover, so I grabbed her.

As I sat down to pedal, I felt a surge of disappointment as I noticed the issue was dated: October 2017. Still, I dove in. Something on the cover about a “How To Be Fulfilled” or Seizing the Day piqued my interest and if there’s one thing I’m always in pursuit of, it’s self-improvement.

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Photo by Bianca on Pexels.com

I should mention that earlier that day, I’d been chatting with a friend about minivans, so when my thumb randomly picked out an article about a minivan-loving mom, I felt an odd sense of serendipity. And no, not a cute van like in the photo above. I was talking about a true “mom-mobile” with crumbs on the floor, shoe scuffs on the backs of all the seats, and garbage that falls out simultaneously as kids pour out the sliding automatic door. My next read turned out to be what inspired this post. It was titled Find Your Purpose in Life with This Simple To Do List, by Martha Beck, (article linked here) and the gist was basically that in order to better focus your limited time here on Earth, work through three exercises to help guide you to what makes you happiest. I won’t detail the entire three-part exercise here (read the article) but I will share that the first question was essentially: What are your life’s goals? The distinction though, was to answer through the lens of the following:

How have I made the world better for having lived in it? 

and

How am I better for having lived in the world? 

Pretty powerful, right? I spent the drive home pondering and found myself continuing to think about it for the rest of the week. I jotted down my answers in my bullet journal and found myself defining what my values truly are, for probably the first time in my life. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE AT MY AGE? Yet, here we are.

Since then, nothing has been spared scrutiny. More than anything though, I’ve found that I’m so much more calm and at peace. I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted and the cobwebs cleared from my mind. I felt similarly after I started reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up years ago.

Paired with something I’ve heard Paula Pant say on the Afford Anything podcast, “You can afford anything, but not everything,” I feel like a lightbulb has turned on in my brain. You also have TIME for anything, but not everything.

LIFE CHANGED I tell you. And what I think a lot of us need in order to focus on what really matters to us is less of all the other junk that distracts us from what truly matters to us. Less TV. Less clothing. Fewer obligations. And so on. These are just a few that I’ve uncovered for myself. Yours will likely be quite different, but I can’t express how much happier I’ve felt since this new mantra of: Simplify has entered my life.