February 25, 2014

Signs of Spring & Some Inspiration

As you may have gathered from my last post I'm really looking forward to Spring. I'm already getting discouraged thinking I won't have any flowers to enjoy and that there won't be much green around here. I even got that way in PA and boy was I wrong. Our new house is South facing so the front gets lots of sun. Unfortunately the previous owners attempted xeriscaping. It appears that it's just all rocks in the front yard. Our back yard doesn't get nearly as much sun and is sloped. I'm VERY determined to make the best of these two spaces. I want chickens badly, raspberry bushes along the fence and beautiful plants all around. First I need to get a landscaper in here for the back yard. It needs to be terraced off and it needs to be done right with effective retaining walls. As the days get longer and we experience more Spring like weather I dream and make plans. My husband keeps reminding me to follow my own advice which is on the 100 Things I learned From my First Home List

 #39 Experience all the seasons in a new home before you remove any plants
        #40 Wait to see what pops up and how things grow before you plant new plants

It's always easier to spew off advice then follow it!  I really have been quite a grump lately about the lack of Spring that we will experience; so God decided that He should step in and give me an attitude adjustment. The other day I went outside to bring the trash cans up from the end of the driveway and put them back where they go. We roll them behind our fence and place them in a rock area next to our shed. I was shocked to discover that under the trash cans of all places something had begun to grow.
I truly believe that this was God and that he got a big laugh from my surprise. Out of all places for something to grow it would be in a pile of rocks under trash cans with no sunlight. I'm guessing these will be tulips. 
It's funny because I'm finishing up a book right now called Return to Me (review coming soon) and it's theme is God doing the impossible. It just seems impossible that plants would start growing in these conditions but what a reminder for me to have faith. God knows the desires of my heart and with Him anything and EVERYTHING is possible. Oh and if you look closely at the trees the branches are starting to fatten up due to buds forming!
I had been debating back and forth about going to the Colorado Home & Garden Show, after seeing the hope that my yard does have I decided that I must go. I knew that I could use the inspiration and resources. 
There were lots of landscapers to make contact with and we found lots of ideas for retaining walls. I love these Foxgloves and would like to plant some of them along with some Columbines. 
My favorite take away from the entire show was the water feature made from an old truck, which you may have seen a peek of on my Instagram feed
Now if only I could accomplish this in my yard!
With March just a few days away Thalassa Cruso puts it into words best, "March is a month of considerable frustration - it is so near Spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away." 

On side note I feel a little incomplete today and will for the next week at least. I sent my camera off for some maintenance. Have you had this done on your camera? If you have equipment that you consider an investment it's worth getting it done. It's recommended every 3 years or of course if you start noticing changes in your photos. Like for example seeing spotting or blurring. You can see if a local photography shop in your area does it or you can always look up your camera's brand and find information. I have a Canon, you can read about what they do for maintenance HERE. Of course there are tutorials out there on doing this kind of thing yourself but I personally wouldn't risk it. Keep your camera in tip top shape so it's ready to document life in the best possible way!

February 22, 2014

Special Plants

In case you haven't figured it out yet I'm a lover of nature. Since I can't be outdoors all the time I try to bring it inside as much as I can. I enjoy having houseplants. I've always brought plants into my work environment too, whether it be a classroom or an office. The challenge of caring for them, watching them grow and change through the seasons brings me joy.
Of course having an outdoor garden to tend to is amazing.  Just about every place I've lived I attempted some type of garden; even in an apartment with no yard. I found living in Pennsylvania was a dream come true for any plant lover. The variety of plants that grow there is astounding. I feel like living there on that property in that house was all a dream. Sometimes my heart aches remembering it all. I'm so thankful it wasn't a dream and that I really got to experience everything.

I was able to bring the majority of my indoor plants with me when we drove to Colorado. I had them carefully packed together in a laundry basket and crate. They were nestled tightly in the back seat. If we had to stop over night the plants were brought inside with us. The Wandering Jew was the plant I was most concerned about. He has long, very fragile arms that easily get tangled up.

I know some of you might be thinking, this is a little much for some plants but each one of my plants is special and has a story. I didn't know how well any of the plants would do considering they got use to living in a sun-room with a humid climate. So far they are all doing well.

One of my plants is a Bonsai Tree that was given to me by some coworkers when I had to take leave for surgery. This tree is so special because I used to have one just like it, you can read that story HERE and some of my past struggles with plants when I first lived in Colorado.
That Wondering Jew I mentioned earlier was left behind on one of the many hooks in the sun-room of our farmhouse. It was just about completely dried out. Who knows how long it was abandoned for. I gave it a good trim and lots of TLC and it came right back to life. The farmhouse was the first home we bought and have so many fond memories there.
Many of the other plants I've had have similar stories of being lifeless and then miraculously coming back to life. It's hard for me to resist those dying clearance plants. I love the challenge of reviving them.
The plant above and below was a cutting from one of my grandmother's plants and is even planted in a pot that was hers. I'm not sure what kind of plant it is.  I know it's grown and spread a lot since moving to Colorado so it must really like the climate here.
My parents have sent me some gorgeous plant arrangements over the years. Since we live far apart it's their way of adding to a celebration. I always try to see how long I can keep these arrangements living. Sometimes they're not meant to live past a couple weeks. Other times they can easily be transferred to another container.

When I had my first laproscopic surgery I was pretty nervous. My mom had helped me recently get through my knee surgery so she wasn't able to make it for this surgery. She did send a basket full of vibrant plants.
They brought such cheer to my room as I laid on the bed recovering. One of those plants I was able to re-pot and I still have it today. I have no clue what kind of plant it is. I do know it's been healthy and growing through 2 moves! One from Nebraska to Pennsylvania and the most recent from Pennsylvania to Colorado.
It always blooms this time of year, which is around the same time I had both laproscopic surgeries.
I'm surprised every time I see the first bloom. It's the middle of winter, snow is usually on the ground. Winter blues begin to creep in. Then the questions begin. Will my health last? What's my identity? Will I ever feel settled?  I take one look at this beautiful blooming plant and I feel HOPE. I feel LOVED.
Plants can be an amazing source of healing. Next time you consider giving the gift of flowers think about giving some that can be replanted or give a potted plant instead. One of my favorite plants to give is an aloe plant, they are super easy to care for. You can read all about decorating a pot for gift giving HERE.

Are you looking forward to Spring as much as I am? I'm getting Spring fever bad and it's way too early for that.

February 17, 2014

Chasing a Life Balance

We could probably all agree that sometimes we find ourselves in a valley and sometimes on top of a peak. I'm constantly chasing after that life balance people talk about. Does it really exist?  No matter where we find ourselves it's all for a reason; it's important to embrace the season we're in and get all that we can out of it because it's just that, a season.

This space has its ups and downs. Sometimes I write frequently, sometimes not so much. Sometimes I hear from my readers often, other times I don't hear from them at all.  It's in those times when I hear from no one that I get discouraged. I'm sure if you blog you can relate. It's hard not to take it personal. You wonder is anyone reading this? I use to be a silent blog stalker myself. I would frequent the same blog over and over again and never say a word. Then when I started blogging I realized how important it is to say something. One reason, among many, people blog is for community and to share with others, it's hard to do that if it's only one sided.

I have found myself feeling a sense of jealousy at all the gorgeous blogs out there and at all the hundreds of comments some of them get. I have to remember though that for some people this is their living. Not to mention it's awesome that there are so many informative, funny, and inspiring blogs out there to enjoy. Each one is unique and they shouldn't be compared. Of course I often think being a full time blogger, photographer and artist would be incredible. That's just not where I'm at right now though and I'm not even sure how to get there, you know where you actually earn money. So that's why my posts are sporadic at times because my life is so full of other things sometimes this space just has to go on the back burner.

What got me thinking about all this was the giveaway I just had. Only one person commented and they said, "...glad you're back blogging." That surprised me because I didn't know that I had stopped but I guess I just haven't been posting as regularly. I wonder why only one person commented for the giveaway? Is it because people weren't interested in the giveaway? Is it because people aren't coming to the space as often so they didn't know about it? Should I extend the time people have to enter the giveaway? If you have any thoughts or comments I would love to hear them!

On that note GSGreatEscaper won the giveaway! I'm really happy for her because it sounds like the decal will go perfectly with her other roosters.

Here's to hoping we all find ourselves fully engaged in the moment no matter where we are and that we can find that life balance!

February 14, 2014

Because I Love You

Because I love you there's a giveaway happening until the 17th. I wrote all about it in the last post. It's for this awesome chalkboard decal.

Here are a few ways to enter the giveaway, each one will get you an entry: 
  • Comment below telling me where you would put the rooster decal if you win
  • Comment below letting me know you follow my blog
  • Go to looksugar's shop and tell me what your favorite decal is
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...and let me know


February 11, 2014

Fancy Fridges, Decal Review & a Giveaway

Our new home has what I would consider a fancy fridge. I know there are probably much fancier fridges out there but I've never had a fridge like this before. It must be fancy because the previous owners wanted to take it with them but thankfully we were able to negotiate it in.
What makes this fridge so fancy you might ask. Well it's stainless steel and big. We haven't had stainless steel appliances before so it's exciting for us. It's the little things right? Our dishwasher doesn't match but we can't have everything can we? My husband was at the house during the inspection and the Realtor pointed out that this fancy fridge we worked hard to negotiate into the deal had some dents in the door. No problem, we would just cover it with magnets, photos, shopping lists, coupons or the other various items that find there way to front and center of the fridge. Not so fast, the Realtor said, most stainless refrigerators are not magnetic, usually you can only put magnets on the side. So she got one of her special Realtor magnets out and sure enough, according to my husband, it didn't stick. This really annoyed me. Since when is stainless steel not magnetic? Maybe you were already aware of this but just in case you weren't, SURPRISE, you might not be able to utilize those millions of random magnets you've collected over the years.

I've been brainstorming ideas for how to hang things on the front of my fridge. I didn't want anything that would leave a residue and I wanted to have the option to easily remove it. I specifically wanted a calendar for my fridge. I finally decided that a decal would be the perfect solution. I found some decals that I really liked on Etsy at looksugar. I liked their chalkboard decals but I wondered how clean it would look after I wrote on it? I wondered if it would work on my fridge? I decided to go with a narrow house shaped chalkboard calendar  because I knew the dimensions were perfect for one of my fridge doors.

The funny thing is a couple days after I ordered this calendar I was moving a magnet around on the side of the fridge and accidentally started to drop it. It ended up sticking to the front of the fridge. I was confused and upset that I actually believed my husband and the Realtor and didn't just try a magnet myself. Apparently the magnet they used wasn't a very strong one. What I've learned is that some stainless steel refrigerators are magnetic and some aren't it depends how much nickle and other random metals are used in the mix. I still ended up getting the chalkboard decal calendar but much to my surprise it didn't look like a calendar at all. Apparently the image on looksugar is giving you the idea that you can write on it to make it look like a calendar. By the way if you get a decal make sure you lay it out and put something heavy onto to help flatten it out from shipping.

So I contacted the company and asked why what I purchased is called a calendar. They were very quick to apologize and concluded there was a communication problem. This company really went out of their way to make sure I was a happy costumer and asked me what the dimensions were of my fridge. 
They customized a calendar for me!
My calendar turned out awesome! It even covers the dents in the fridge perfectly. I will say this particular decal was more challenging to apply because it was a lot of little pieces. They provide very clear and detailed instructions though on how to apply the decals.

They even sent some chalk pens which I highly recommend. They write smoothly and erase with a damp cloth. Don't get the extra fine chalk pens, they don't write as smooth and tend to splatter because of the texture of the decal. Here's an example of the two pens:
I'm really impressed with the quality of the decal. It's not flimsy and cleans with ease leaving no chalk build up behind. 
Not only did looksugar customize a calendar for me but they also sent along my second favorite decal that I could give away to one of my lucky readers! One of you will receive the Rooster Chalkboard Wall Decal and 1 chalk pen!!!!!

Here are a few ways to enter the giveaway, each one will get you an entry: 
  • Comment below telling me where you would put the rooster decal if you win
  • Comment below letting me know you follow my blog
  • Go to looksugar's shop and tell me what your favorite decal is
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...and let me know