Friday, May 29, 2015

Five on Friday ... Happy Things in the Garden

First off before I get into the Five on Friday, I would like to thank all of you for your very kind supportive comments regarding my previous post on weight loss. This week I went from having a negative feeling, to one of overall confidence and renewed determination! I know that the comments left by all of you were the cause of my boost of confidence again.

This blogging group is really quite extraordinary when you think about it. Where else can you let out a little cry of despair and get instant positive feedback from all over the world? I don't always like to share personal stuff on my blog since it makes me feel like I'm complaining. But this dieting thing was going to get the best of me, and I thought maybe I could discuss it with you all. And you have come through for me in such a wonderful way, which I won't soon forget.

I have gotten right back into my healthy eating routine again, my daily exercise of an hour's walk, and already I feel much better ... happier if not exactly lighter. I'm not going to step on the scale for a while though ... sometimes I just don't want to see those numbers ;)  If the numbers haven't gone down after a couple of weeks, that too gets me discouraged. So for this second start of my dieting, I am going to just keep eating properly and stay away from the scales until my pants are falling down around my ankles and then I will know there has been some changes around the waistline! My summertime clothes need an overhaul, but I don't want to spend any money there at the moment ... I'll wait until I can fit into some of my old clothes instead. I hope this will keep me focused as well. Every time I open my closet I see a lot of tops that are a little too snug, and I am looking forward to soon wearing them again.

So I thank each and every one of you for your support! It has made such a difference for me :)


And now on to the Five on Friday hosted by my good friend Amy at Love Made My Home! Thanks so much for hosting this again Amy, and I was happy to see that you are back to posting regularly. This week I'm out in the garden and I have lots of ideas swirling around in my noggin thanks to Pinterest and also to my local gardening store. I am in awe of the creative ideas that are posted on Pinterest, and I have finally started my own boards of creative ideas (under "September Violets", and if I can fix up a link for that at some point on my sidebar I will).

1. Fairy Gardens

Like many of you I have admired the tiny little fairy gardens that are all the rage at the moment. My favourite gardening store (Vandermere's in Ajax, ON) has a huge selection of little bits and pieces for creating one on your own. They even have rustic wooden fairy houses made of sticks ... some of which are two and three stories tall (fairy sized), but it adds up to a house about three feet high! I have to work with what I already have rather than purchase a lot of expensive trinkets, and I almost fainted when I saw a flat of fairy garden plants for $50!

Just inside my back gate I have these three little stumps from cedar trees we cut down a few years ago. I've been looking at them now with an eye to making them into fairy homes. I think the fairies in my yard flit through the flowers (and weeds!), and probably wouldn't care all that much to have a domestic-type garden of their own. They are wild creatures after all! My plan is to create a few unobtrusive fairy surprises in the yard made from natural found objects. Today this is all I have to show you ... the stumps. Once I get them fixed up into actual homes, I'll show you more ... stay tuned!

2. Lilacs & Iris

Lilacs and iris are my favourite springtime flowers. At the moment I have this beautiful large lilac bush filling the back corner of my yard with fantastic colour. It fills the entire yard with its strong perfume! This bush has been through a couple of bad times with two huge pine tree limbs falling directly on top of it, but it seems to still be thriving. I think this summer I'll give it a good boost of fertilizer as its leaves are always so tiny. The humming birds have been visiting it constantly since it came into bloom too which is an added bonus. 

I have two of Mom's lilacs doing well in the backyard too. This white one, and another purple one (same shade as my big bush). This white lilac is doing amazing, and I'll be keeping a close eye on it to keep it in good shape. Mom loved lilacs too, and had quite a few on the hillside at her place. The two lilacs I have of hers were from that hillside, so fond memories all wrapped up into these lovely bushes.

I bought this pretty weeping lilac last summer when I noticed one on a neighbour's lot. It is very fragrant and has some pretty blooms. I planted it at the corner of the walkway/stairs up to my front door so that you can smell it as you come up to the house. I was really happy with how much it has grown from the time I planted it. It's meant to grow upright and all the branches droop down around it, which gives it a very delicate look. 

The iris haven't bloomed as yet, but the buds are so close to opening! These iris are in the front of my house. The iris in the back are stunted and a lot of them don't even have blooms this year. I had every good intention of splitting them last summer and moving them all to the front of the house (since the front iris were by far doing the best of the two groups). But one delay and another, and I never got them moved. This summer I have to do this, or I think I'm in danger of losing the lot!

4. Transplants

Last summer I transplanted a few things that were getting lost in a garden in the back yard and then I sort of forgot what had been moved and to where! I forgot this next plant completely, and couldn't figure out what it was. I have now finally realized it's one of the transplants ... spiderwort! Now that I've identified it, I was actually surprised at how well it's doing. It obviously is happy with its new home ... it's about 2 feet across.

I have another spiderwort in the garden around the patio, and it's a lovely bright chartreuse. You can see it in the next photo ... love that leaf colour. I'm considering splitting this one to spread that colour a little further in the garden. It's a good size, but not huge, and I think it might do better in other locations. I often split the plants and try them somewhere else rather than move the entire plant. I'm sometimes worried I might kill the plant entirely if I shift the whole thing at once.

Everything seems to get jumbled up in the front garden. I swear lupins just get up and walk around in the winter time! And I don't remember the coral bells being quite there last summer. 

The lupins used to be yellow, but I think they have all reverted back to their natural purple again. I really like them, but they're hard to keep track of. I want to transplant some of the little sprouts that come up each year. They do well in this spot, but I'd like to see more of them in other areas.

My husband loves to get out digging in the gardens far too early, and I'm always sorry when he comes in and tells me "I dug up the gardens!". Usually it means he's dug up some of my perennials that haven't yet shown themselves through the soil :[ This spring I thought he had dug up my remaining balloon flowers. I finally went out to see if they were there, and after carefully brushing away the heaps of dirt he piled on top of them, I found them slowly making there way to the surface. I think I need to transplant them too since they are getting lost underneath the ever expanding burning bush.

This little bit of donkey-tail spurge was transplanted just last weekend (the straggly ropes in the dark brown dirt ...below photo). Isn't it the saddest little plant? But I had to save it. This wee guy was one of the little plants that my son had in his first garden we created when he was very young. He seemed to really like gardening, so we would buy plants that had unusual names to encourage his interest. Let me tell you, unusual plant names were a big hit! We also bought some turtlehead flowers, and they took over that garden (not complaining, I really like the turtleheads). I just happened to see this little remaining bit of spurge this spring lost in the middle of the turtleheads, so I carefully dug it up and moved it in front of the cranesbill geranium ... another transplant from last summer. The cranesbill is doing great, and I have high hopes for the spurge too now that it has room to grow.

5. Burning Bush

I love this bush, especially in the fall when the brilliant red leaves are at their best!

This year I notice that it has sprouted a new bush just underneath it! I love it when my favourite plants have babies ... free plants! I'll have to think of a good spot to move this little guy because he can't stay where he is ... I want to take full advantage of this offering.

6. Harlequin Maple Tree

And I'm squeezing in No. 6 because I can't shut up when it comes to my gardens :) This little tree is finally making a difference to the view out of my front living room window. It's about four years old now, and it is effectively filling out and creating shade! That was the whole purpose of buying this tree. They are not huge maples, and since we have a tiny front yard, and it's all on a hill, we needed something smaller. Also the hydro wires cut across the front bit of our yard and I didn't want a tree that would be butchered by the hydro tree trimmers when it got too close to the wires.

And now I'm sure you're sick to death of listening to me. I've been fiddling with this post throughout the day, and I'm sick to death of writing it!! I realize now that it's far too long, but I'm too tired now to try and rewrite it. Thanks for visiting and I'll try to shorten my next posts.


Johnny Jump-Ups :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Losing Weight

I hate losing weight ... or should I say, I hate the process. I'm terrible at it, however, I really do need to shed quite a few pounds. I started on that journey about three months ago and have lost 20 lbs so far. I dithered about whether or not to share this, but I know there is more than just me in this same unstable boat!! The reason that I finally decided to share is that I've had some disappointments about the weight loss.  if you know someone who really struggles with weight loss (and especially if you have never been in a fat body yourself!), don't pass along negative comments to them. Always keep things positive. Encouragement, I find is the key to either make it or break it. 

I have for the past three weeks fallen off the diet wagon, and I have to admit it was for two reasons. One was the fact that my schedule has been in the pits lately with both of my kids being home with me. My son has been home because the high school teachers have been on strike for the past 5 1/2 weeks!!!! (INSERT ANGER WORDS OF YOUR CHOICE!!) And my daughter is home from university, and although she does finally (thank goodness!!) have summer employment, it's only part time. So my kids who can be a tad lazy needy, are constantly asking for food ... breakfast, lunch, and snacks. It's so hard to prepare food for others of the tasty kind when all you're allowed is lettuce (well, not really, but you know what I mean). 

Secondly, and on top of all of that, a certain someone made a rather mean and thoughtless comment to me a couple of weeks ago, and it completely shot my determination out the window. They let me know with no uncertainty that I was wasting my time, and all the weight I lost would come back. It really made me feel horrible. And to be honest, I have lost a lot of weight before, and gained back almost (but not quite) all of it. It just isn't the sort of discouraging thoughts I need in my head. Don't you find that dieting is a lot more psychological rather than physical? I have to argue with myself all day long to eat the proper foods, constantly playing mind games with myself to keep on track. It's  mentally exhausting!

Today high school teachers have been legislated back to work. After almost six weeks of strike our government ruled that their strike has been found to be illegal ... about bloody time! And today, with my daughter at work, my son in school, and my routine restored, I have gotten back on the diet. I can't say whether I will reach my goal or not. And actually I haven't even set a "goal", because I plan on eating this way from now on. One of those "it's not a diet, it's a way of eating" food management things. Yes, I am following a plan, and actually if you're interested the book I've been using is "The GI Diet" by Rick Gallop. This diet really works. The first part of the book is a diet, and the second part of the book is maintaining good eating habits for life. This is how I lost weight before, but I slid further and further away from it because I got lazy. My brother-in-law lost over 100 lbs following this diet, and he has kept it off for about six years. I admire him for his will power ... I know some days it can still be tricky.

And that's really all I wanted to say. Be kind to those who struggle with weight loss. It's not funny. It's hard work! And it takes a loooOOOooooong time to achieve good results. I'd like to say to anyone who is currently dieting, or just eating better: Good for you! I understand how hard it is to rationalize every bite you take, but keep your eye on the prize, and you'll get there in the end!! If you fall off the wagon, don't despair. Wake up to a new day and a fresh start with a firm resolution that you CAN do this. Don't allow all that effort of dieting for days or weeks or months to be wasted ... get back into the good routine of eating healthy again TODAY! As my niece told me, it takes 21 days for a new thing (like eating healthy) to become a habit. So if it's early in the game for you, keep heart and get past the three-week mark for it to become a little bit (or hopefully a lot!) easier.

I am at the realization now that my weight will not all come off before summer. I think I was sort of panicking about that at first. And that one ill-timed and unfortunate comment to me made me feel like it was all hopeless. But today I have a new determination, and I have to just get through one day at a time, right?! Maybe next month won't find me wearing the shorts that I bought the first time I lost weight. But hopefully at the end of summer I'll feel a whole lot better, and I'll be able to treat myself to some new clothes for fall ;)

Thanks for listening to my little rambling today ... I hope to soon have some gardening photos for you next time :)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Going South

This past weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend for Canadians. Lots of fireworks have been booming in my neighbourhood for the past two evenings. Typically this is also the big gardening weekend for gardeners. It's the cut-off date when frost is no longer a danger to the plants. But two of the three days were not spent gardening ...

My family took advantage of the three-day weekend and headed south .... to Leamington, Ontario. Leamington is the southern-most point of Ontario. The purpose for our trip was to visit my husband's parents as his mom wanted to give my son his quilt. She has made a quilt for her four grandchildren, and my son's is the final quilt. We hopped into the truck and headed down the highway. Once we get past Toronto (ugh!) the drive is easy, if not a tad boring

The weather couldn't have been better. It did rain a bit on the four-hour drive down, but it had moved off by the time we arrived in Leamington. Leamington is the tomato capital of Canada, and this is where the Heinz factory is situated. I didn't take any photos in town, and really the only 'exciting' thing is the big tomato. But on Sunday morning we took a walk down to the pier on Lake Erie and enjoyed walking along there in the early morning mist.

It's a nice area down by the water, and the town has put in a huge garden with lots of park benches along the way. You can sit and watch those more fortunate as they leave the harbour for a day of fun on the waves.

There are private homes with property that comes right to the back of the town gardens (on the right of the photo below). Most of them look quite nice, but not my idea of having a home "on" the waterfront. They don't have any direct access to the water.

I liked this little tin boat with the promise of a garden to be planted inside it. I think it would have looked even better if the boat was wooden, but I guess the tin won't rot.

And beside this little boat is a very special red maple that was planted three years ago in May. We came down for the planting ceremony. It was planted to commemorate the 70th wedding anniversary of my husband's great aunt and uncle. Yes ... 70th!!

The plaque at the base of the tree.

Uncle Reid passed away in February of this year. I believe he was 99, and had been looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday, but it was not to be. His wife Wilda is still living, but is not doing well with some form of dementia. But the day of this tree planting, they were both present and so happy! There was a big party for them afterwards.

Back at my in-laws' house, my son received his beautiful quilt made by his grandma.

Reading the embroidered panel on the back.

My affectionate son giving his surprised grandma a hug ;)

Grandma discussing the pattern and also how to care for his quilt.
 And here's the quilt! Isn't it beautiful! 
I just love the pattern, and it's going to look perfect on his bed. 
My son was really happy with it, and the colours suit him well.

This is the quilt that was on the guest room bed. Such a pretty quilt, also made by my mother-in-law.

We came home on Sunday, and I was able to spend a long day on Monday in the garden. It was hard work involving ripping out weeds, pulling out dead plants etc. etc. All of that continued today, but now it has clouded over and the wind is chilly so we're back indoors. I made great progress out there, but will show all of that another time. 

My son received his Japanese maple for his birthday yesterday, and that has been planted at the top of his pond. I think it'll be good in this spot. I'll show that another time too. I just don't have any photos of the garden stuff from the weekend.

Well, I have to run now, but thanks so much for stopping by! I'll be doing catch-up visits with everyone in the next few days.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Five on Friday

I'm linking up with Amy of Love Made My Home for her Five on Friday this evening. Amy is unable to get a post up for today, but has very kindly set up the link for everyone to still join.

Here are five areas in my garden that I've been improving over the past couple of years:

1. The garden alongside the patio. I ripped out quite a few bushes last summer. I finally had to admit that there were a lot of bushes in my gardens that took a long time to trim, and I didn't love any of them. This garden had two such bushes, and I'm really pleased that the bleeding heart, hosta, ferns and astilbe have filled in so well. There's a really nice lily peeking up behind the hosta too, but it doesn't bloom till later in the summer. I still have a bit more space to fill up, but haven't decided on any plants for there just yet. 

I've spent many years collecting rocks from all over, and I line my gardens with the rocks. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I'll take the garden hose and water the rocks so that all their pretty colours suddenly come to life!! Such fun, but keep this to yourself so I don't sound like a nut ;)

The ferns have sprouted up new shoots this year, so I know they like this spot!

2.  The pond garden. Sigh. This is my son's pond, and he tells me not to do anything with 'his' garden. But he neglects the garden himself. For quite a few summers now, I've not been very happy with the way this area looks. I've put some annuals around, some grasses, hens and chicks, but nothing ever really survives here. This spot gets really hot all through the summer, so any plant that goes in here needs to be able to tolerate the heat. And I'm tired of waiting for my son to do something with it. This summer the gardens here are going to be kicked into shape!! 

My son is celebrating his birthday this weekend, and since he never reads my blog, I can tell you that one improvement here will be our gift to him of a Japanese maple to plant beside the pond. I think it will be OK in this garden because the stinky bush (more on that in No. 3) will shade the spot where the tree will go (where that log & pond electric box can be seen in the lower right corner). The maple is hiding beside my garden shed right now :)

Since this garden surrounds the patio, it needs to look better!

3. The stinky bush. I don't know what kind of bush this really is. I've sometimes looked for it in the garden centres, but have never seen another. The flowers really have an obnoxious odour to them, and in the fall the leaves have the same horrid smell. But despite all that, the flowers are in bloom for only a short time, and this bush has a nice shape. Most importantly it hides my neighbour's dining room window which looks directly onto our patio (we also put up some lattice boards to block their window ... see first photo in No. 1). It's now up as high as the roof, and I've noticed that where I have trimmed it back, the leaves are bigger and bushier. I've considered trimming the centre of it, but can't reach it very well. I have to keep trimming it so that people coming in the back gate don't walk into the branches.

All the white blossoms you see are part of the stinky bush.

4. Bleeding hearts do really well in my yard in the springtime. Some of them were in gardens that got too much sun, and they were dying off half-way through the hot summer. Finally, I tore them all up from the areas that were too hot and transplanted them to shady areas. This spot is in a north corner outside our kitchen window. Nothing much will grow here, and when I moved the bleeding hearts to this spot, I just let them alone and allowed them to spread. They've done fantastic here, and I really like how well they have filled up this once vacant garden. The low green ground cover beneath them was transplanted as well. I can't remember what it's called, but it has a purple flower. I'm quite happy that both the transplants continue to get better every year.

Below is another bleeding heart that was transplanted and doing great. It gets a little bit of sun in the morning, then shade for the rest of the day. It's under the canopy of the pine tree, so it gets a lot of needles dumped around (and on) it. More of the ground cover and hosta was transplanted here too.

5. This is the north garden beside the patio. This area needs some revamping. I used to have lambs ear in this space together with the hosta, but my husband hates lambs ear, and I finally tore it all out (although it was doing well, it was actually growing out into the patio stones). Lambs ear never quits. I'm finding tiny little sprouts every spring even though I ripped it all out a couple of years ago now. I have Solomon's seal here now, but it doesn't like this spot very well, and I'm going to move it. There's a mock orange bush here on the left too ... you can just see a tiny branch in the top left corner. It's going to be chopped because every year it gets aphids and looks horrendous. There's a lilac a little further to the left and that will fill in this space eventually. So I need to come up with new plants for this garden too. The lenten rose is in the bottom right corner. I don't know if this plant is supposed to spread, but it's looked the same for about four years now.

This is another group of Solomon's seal alongside the fence ... you can see how well it does there! I thought this plant did well in shade, but here along the fence it gets sun almost all day long. Perhaps I'll move the other bunch over here too. I love this plant, it's so sturdy and it never looks ragged.

... and since No. 3 wasn't really an improvement, but just a bush, I'm adding No. 6!

6. This is a little corner of the yard that used to have my compost box. I moved the box out of here since it was too shady. Then I filled in the corner with some good earth, some ferns and hosta. There's a Virginia bluebell that got transplanted here too (but I didn't transplant it, and I had originally planted it about 15 feet over). Weird. I don't know if this is the best spot for the bluebell ... but it's mostly shady here. I had a bucket of rocks that were just dug up in the gardens here. I kept throwing them into a bucket and then thought they would make a nice addition to this garden. The pile needs cleaning up again (I see a fern has sprouted up there so I'll move that), but the rocks looked a little like the dry creek beds that people add to their gardens. I'll work a bit more on this space this summer. My large lilac overhangs this area, but it's not shown in the photo.

And that's it! Well, that's all I'm showing you today ;) The more I look at my gardens, the more I see that needs "fixing". There are iris to move, dead bushes to chop out, lavender hedge to revive ... sigh ... and only three and a half months to get it all sorted!!

Thanks for stopping by today!


up close and stinky ... yes, stinky bush blossoms!

a beautiful pink geranium that I kept in my kitchen all winter :)

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