Category Archives: season

The Wild & Cultivated Meet

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I awoke at 6:30am this morning.  I saw some sunlight peeping through the window blinds.  Actual sun after several days of rain.  Checking the sky, a front of clouds is slowly moving from the southwest.  Rain on its way once again.  I think I can manage to get to the farm 30 minutes away to check my garden bed in the greenhouse/screenhouse before the rain starts.  I was hoping the county highway was open, no flood waters to prevent my route to Boone Hollow Farm.  I stole the opportunity by myself as Dean was attending to his son’s dogs and house, and will be home sometime late morn.  I left Dean a note on the table just in case he beat me back to the cottage.

I arrived to an overgrown gravel road. No mowing had been done for a couple of weeks. Too wet to mow. And the small creek was swollen and flowing over the rocks, so I parked right near the county highway, and walked into the farm. My sandaled feet relished the coolness of the fresh rain water in the creek. The walk up the gravel road and hill to the greenhouse was sopping wet, quite muddy. The arugula and leaf lettuces are wildly overgrown; bolting, flowering, and forming their seed pods. My herbs have finally taken off with the summer heat and humidity. The cherry tomato plants are doing well, a couple have had their tops nibbled off by the deer or coyotes.  Plenty more started forming their little yellow blooms, the fruit to follow soon.  This morning the wild and cultivated meet together at Deanna’s Cottage …

Culivated, Wild, & Somewhere In Between Blooms

The First Summer Storm

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The summer solstice came and went without my celebration.  I am sure the earth still celebrated!  Too busy I would say.  Yes, I need to slow down.  Family engagements and work obligations continue to press me of my time, focus, and energy.  Simply watering the potted plants or making a light, summer dinner is a chore. I have not stopped long enough to smell the roses or savor the flavors of summer.  I took the day off today.  Had to get some reprieve from the madness, gather my thoughts.  Nothing like an upset stomach and headache to slow you down.  Every year it is like this just before vacation finishing up projects at work, home and yard chores, making sure all the travel details are together.  The air was unsettled this morning when I went out to water the potted perennials in the back yard.  Something brewing.  The clouds kept rolling in. Kind of like my recent hectic days building up.

I had no groceries in the house as we have been house and pet sitting this past week for two vacationing family households.  I thought I would beat the eminent storm.  It was like night by the time I gathered my $30 worth of protein and veggies into the Jeep.  Big wet drops started to hit the pavement and my bare arms and sandaled feet.  I managed to get to the cottage before the dark clouds totally let loose. Our first summer storm.  How refreshing.  I read Ann Voskamp’s timely words, “A soul does not work without a sabbath…Be still and know God…and not forget who you are.”  There was a time in my life when I forgot who I was.  And these memories too have preyed my mind these recent days.  This vacation will be good for me.  For Dean, too.  Different scenery, a fresh view.  I think a month-long vacation or sabbatical will be in 2020.  Brewing for my next season in life …

 

Greens, Greens, and More Greens

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We were unable to get to our greenhouse last week due to weekend travels and heavy rain storms, including a tornado touchdown just 3 miles from Boone Hollow Farm where our greenhouse sets.  Dean and I finally were able to get out there this mild late spring evening. Gorgeous green and peace surrounded us while we worked for an hour before sundown.  Dean mowed the grass of our 1/4-acre plot.  I cut flowers and picked the greens.
The seeds sowed late March have been very prolific. Greens, greens, and more greens. Arugula, soft leaf lettuce, and mizuna mustard greens. Dean and I cannot personally consume it all, so we are sharing the abundance with family, friends, and co-workers this growing season. The greens bolted with all the sunshine and warmer days, so I pinched those new buds off.  A couple of weeks ago voluntary cherry tomato plants came close to being plucked and pitched into the weed pile outside of the greenhouse.  I decided to have mercy on them and transplanted them into the huge tub of compost that sets on the edge of our 1/4-acre plot. Look, a whole nursery of them! All the rain and sunshine has done wonders.  I will cage them anticipating a fruitful season for them as well.

 

First Spring Crop

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April came and went.  I realized I have not posted any pics or words about my gardens in over a month.  I have been occupied with the employee wellness program at work, Easter, family birthday parties, mowing, and caring for the gardens and the yards between the rain showers and storms.   We sowed lots of seeds the last week in March and first week in April.  My first crop of arugula, Mizuna lettuce, and mustard greens were ready on Sunday, just 39 days after its sowing.  What a lovely and refreshing salad it has made for Dean and I.  Today I added boiled egg and roasted turkey for protein to a bed of my fresh greens tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette to make a chef salad for our lunches.  Cannot wait.

First Sowing

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I put on my rain boots anticipating a muddy walk to the greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm.  Sure enough the storms we received earlier in the week produced quite a bit of rain, and the creek beds were full.  Dean and I parked near the barn, gathered our gardening gear, jumped across the rain-filled ditch, and walked up the hill to our 9-month greenhouse/screenhouse.  We had not been there all winter season as it was too frigid cold for 3 solid months, a true Missouri winter like I remember years past.  And unlike last year where it drug on for 5 months!

Spring has arrived in Missouri!  The frogs croak and birds tweet in harmony making an evening song of peace!  What a welcome greeting to Dean and I!  I love gardening.  Not the exact science-type gardening.  Care-free and whimsical like.  There is work involved, but less so with a bed of organic soil inside the screenhouse side of our structure.  We pulled old tomato vines and prepped the soil.  It turned up nicely, loose but a little dry.  We had enough snow and winter rains to keep the soil moist even without being in direct exposure. We watered the soil with the rain/snow water from our barrel just outside the structure.  And then the first sowing.  We made 11 rows altogether.  I sowed 8 rows of greens seeds.  My favorite, arugula, and then various lettuces.  We are trying a oriental variety this year.  The other 3 rows are beets.  My first stab at growing these, too.  As an apprentice with EarthDance Farms, I learned to love this root vegetable, greens and all.

Next weekend the herbs will be sown as well as zinnias, forget-me-nots, black-eye susans, and wildflowers at the farm along with the cottage gardens.  The evening drive back from the greenhouse was lovely, a longer drive to the cottage than our other house.  We will make every trip to the countryside count.  Savoring the frog and bird chorus, smelling the blossoms along the strolls at Boone Hollow Farm, and harvesting delicious organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers for our dinner table.  And we trust our God and Mother Nature for plenty to share!

Porch Critters & Garden Perches

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The springtime porch critters and garden perches came out this past weekend.  Pots of pansies planted; pinks, purples, blues, and yellows gathered together on or near the front porch of our cottage.  Birds, bees, and a bunny perch among the pots, birdhouses, and other garden art.  A welcome greeting after such a long winter!  Welcome Spring!

The Love of Color And Dirt

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I have held up fairly well this very cold winter season.  I kept busy indoors with a 1000-piece puzzle, reading, writing, vacation planning, and even a couple of hand-written letters placed in the mail box.  You know, the old-fashioned way of communicating!  My interior decorating picked up again, with our newest additions  a chaise and lace-paneled screen for my boudoir, as well as a vintage stained glass window for the wall above the buffet in the living room.  It brightens the room up with the sun on it; swirls of purple, blue, and golden yellow reflect into the cottage.  Just what my soul needed … color!  Having just a little spring fever …

Oh, but there is the love of dirt, too!  I am anxious to get outdoors to dig in the dirt, sow seeds, plant flowers, move onto exterior decorating, and feel the fresh air and sun on my face.  Daylight savings time began this past Sunday, and the Spring Equinox is a week away!  Do you think the weatherman and mother nature saw the calendar, too?  I sure hope so!  No springtime snows and frigid cold blasts, please!

This will be our first spring in our little St. Charles cottage.  Signs of green popped up a couple of snowstorms ago.  I believe they are daffodils throughout the front and back yards.  Bursts of yellow in a few days!  I am sprucing up the indoor plants at home and at the office, trimming dead branches and topping the pots with fresh potting soil this week and next.  My green friends have done well under the plant lights in the basement, where it is not quite as cold as the barely heated garage at the other house.  And no feline friends to perch themselves in the potted plants!  My citrus tree, bird-of-paradise, ferns, and other potted perennials will go outdoors when the threat of frost is past, late in April.

Plans for very old awnings to come down, painting weathered window frames, window cleaning, and new fencing are on the top of the list of outdoor chores this spring and summer.  But the other chore, which to me is so much fun, is yard designing with the existing garden beds, as well as the choices and placement of garden art.  One of my childhood friends from Minnesota sent me a photo of her little mini greenhouse in the midst of an autumn snowfall, the sun gorgeously set behind it filtering through the autumn leaves and windows.  It brought to life the desire to build such a potting shed, maybe a bit of a “she-shed” where I can play in the dirt and plants.  But also to sit and relax on a comfy chair sipping herb tea, my writing journal, and pen among the birds, butterflies, and blooms.

 

Winter’s Warmth

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Ice hit the concrete sidewalks and streets last Sunday morning, like many other wintry mornings in Missouri.  Looking outside the red twig dogwood glistened.  Dean and I waited a bit for temperatures to increase, and then managed to get to church.  It is an oxymoron, winter’s warmth.  It is what winter does for us.  Brings us indoors after weathering the cold, ice, and snow.  Much like life.  The warmth of home lures us back to comfort and simplicity. “Sitting inside the warm, pleasant kitchen while icy rain beat against the window, I felt the wordless contentment of a horse in a stable or a wren in a birdhouse,” Gretchen Rubin writes.  Another author Dominique Browning contemplates, “the banal moments of the day are the most seductive to me. It is in the lighting of a fire on a cold morning, or in the pouring of wine and the pulling up of chairs to read together at the end of an afternoon of errands, that love really exerts its magic.” 

I miss a fireplace or wood stove to snuggle to in our little cottage, but have little niches in every room of our 4-room dwelling that seduce me.  My favorite room is the kitchen.  “So let’s dish out saucy praise for the place of crazy salads, spicy endearments, whispering souffles, sweetmeats, tender loins, and sticky fingers. That whirring, blending, mixed-up, soul-stirring, juice-dripping, hot-hearted room (the kitchen),” Dominique Browning writes in her book Slow LoveKind of spicy, you say.  That is what cooking in the kitchen does for my heart.  Another weekend snow has developed this afternoon.  Mini cheese-stuffed meatloaves, sweet potatoes, and banana-oat bread will grace our table this evening.  Tomorrow I will chop fresh veggies to saute with Italian sausage for Italian stone soup accompanied with fresh-from-the-oven bread sticks.  A casserole dish of homemade mac & cheese with a bowl of buttered edamame will be Sunday’s dinner.

I have plenty of library books to peruse and a jigsaw puzzle to piece together for this long weekend of winter warmth.  Besides Dean and I have each other to keep the fire going …

 

Winter Hideaway

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The weather people have been telling us about this big winter storm coming to our region by the weekend. Amazing how they can view the weather patterns over the ocean and predict conditions 5 days out and 2,000 miles away.  Sleet, ice, and snow in that order.  Well, they are right about a winter storm.  Although snowflakes started a couple of hours ahead of their initial timeline, and the precipitation is snow rather than sleet.  Too cold for sleet and ice.  Thank God! But much more snow than first thought, now close to a foot by the end of the storm.

I am in the comforts of my home, and no plans to go out this weekend. Church may not be attended on Sunday.  Much depends on the city’s plowing services.  Just heard one go by. The neighbor boy cleared the walking path to the street late afternoon yesterday, and my Dean cleared it again this afternoon. We are ready if we had to go out.

So home equals comfort, the warmth of good food, robes, blankies, and candles. We went grocery shopping a couple of evenings ago based on the forecast, along with many others by the long checkout lines. Freshly baked orange-cranberry scones for breakfast, the buttery aroma enveloped our home. And then homemade chicken veggie soup for lunch. Relaxing this afternoon, so leftovers will do for dinner tonight.  A veggie lasagna will be made for Sunday dinner. A couple of library books at hand, a decorating one caught my fancy today, Cozy Minimalist Home.  I am writing with the warming orange flicker of the candlelight nearby.  The song birds are feeding outside the window before tucking in for the night. At this moment I would not trade this to a secluded sunny beach.  See how many more snow days before I change my mind!  Right now, all is good!

Hopes And Dreams

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Our 2018 is coming to a close very soon.  Where did the year go?!  Filled with memorable days with many of you, & for others not enough time together.

Our travels started with a February trip to Louisville, KY where we went to the “show of shows” for military & gun collectors. Foodie joints, the Louisville Slugger tour, & downtown were a part of the trip.  Dean & I visited the St. Meinrad Archabbey.  The architecture & gardens are stunning.  Mother’s Day weekend included a combined mothers trip to Pella, IA to view the late spring tulips, a windmill tour, & indulge in Dutch fare.  Memorial Day weekend Dean & I visited the Lincoln Museum & Home in Springfield, IL.  Late June, we gathered up my Rachel’s three, & took a 4-day trip to Branson, MO where the go-carts reigned.  Such fun with the grandkids!   We had a short few days in Minnesota.  It definitely was not long enough, but happy to relax & visit with in-law family in the Twin Cities and family friends on Island Lake part of the 4th of July week.  Over Veteran’s Day weekend, we holiday & antique shopped in Branson.

Our big news for 2018 is our purchase of a small 1940’s home in historic St. Charles, just one Missouri River town closer to St. Louis metro.  The weekday commutes to our offices have been easier, & the quietness of this older neighborhood so refreshing.  Dean loves the WWII era, & his “man cave” basement.  “Deanna’s Cottage” is a “work in progress”; new kitchen flooring, unveiling the hardwood floor under carpeting in the living room & our bedroom, new or no awnings (depends on if you ask Dean or Anna!), new fencing, taking down at least one huge tree, & building a “garage plus” in the big back yard are envisioned. It is a quaint 4-room dwelling, under 800 sq-ft love nest.  We went small on purpose.  We love visitors, but really love our empty nest!  The comfy guest bedroom takes you back to the whimsical Edwardian era.  It has been a blast finding 1930-40’s furniture pieces & 2nd-hand decor to decorate Deanna’s Cottage. We recently listed with Airbnb for the St. Charles festival weekends only.  Being 7 blocks from historic Main Street makes our place an ideal hideaway for travelers. On those weekends while guests are at our cottage, we stay at our 4-bdrm St. Peters house, which is being rented to my daughter & son-in-law.  Dean & I have experienced some Airbnb suites as guests before we opened up our home as hosts. The concept seems rather novel, but in past centuries many travelers stayed in common people’s homes.  This century we are using electronics to facilitate bookings for lodging.  Although not a traditional bed & breakfast, I will always leave some kitchen-made goodie for our guests, as I still love to bake & our guests gladly indulge.  For any naysayers about the size, pace, venue, or avenue, it is Dean & I’s dream.  Deanna’s Cottage will grow. We are building our dream one step at a time.  More in the years ahead …

Our grandchildren continue to flourish.  Dean’s granddaughter, 2-year old Elise has developed into her own person.  Loves art, music, & hands-on anything!  My youngest grandchild, Eli shines in math & finally had a buddy move in his neighborhood.  Ella needs to stop growing!  Such a kind, pretty young lady she is.  My oldest granddaughter, Hannah, is in her last year of homeschooling.  Another artsy one.  The last I heard she wants to be a tattoo artist, but had thoughts about nursing.  Either or both paths are the right one for her.  I understand that pull in vocational choices based on gift areas. Libby is thriving in her 1st year of high school, active with choir, & quite the artist as well.  What is it about our girls & art?  My Brendan is the other one that needs to stop growing! He excels in his height along with sports & academics.

Our beloved, Midnight passed away in June just before Father’s Day. The memories we had with him during his puppy, young & older adult doggy years I will treasure forever.  Dean & I had him his last 5 years after my father passed away.  Though I hesitated at the first, Dean embraced being Midnight’s new master when the need was brought to our attention.  This Labrador brought so much liveliness & love to our home & our extended family.  We miss our Midnight.  Another doggy will come into our home later, maybe when we retire.  Our feline, Celine stays at the St. Peters house.  She is getting too old for another change.  We have granddogs & grandcats always in plenty.

The growing season was shorter this year. This spring I missed the window of opportunity to sow my greens like arugula, lettuce, & spinach because it was winter up until mid-May.  Summer came 2 weeks later!  In our screen house we again had monster tomato plants produce some delicious cherry tomatoes.  I still have a few of those green tomatoes picked before Jack Frost came that are turning red in a bowl set in the kitchen window.  Boone Hollow Farm where the screenhouse/greenhouse seats is still a serene place for Dean & myself to hide away during a workweek evening or weekend.  Just 30 minutes of the country quiet & picking weeds or vegetables can restore my blood pressure & sanity to normal.

Dean continues to serve & learn from the clients that come into the research room at the National Archives.  The stories the researchers & employees uncover are quite entertaining.  Throughout the year we go out for happy hours or dinners with his clients.  My work with the employee wellness program at St. Louis County was nationally recognized by the American Heart Association this year, after 10 years of creative efforts & hard work.  In 2019, I along with other wellness professionals in the St. Louis region will address diabetes & glucose issues.  I can personally vouch that regular physical activity keeps those numbers in line.  I was walking 10,000 steps a day this year, & am now challenged by the cold temps.  Our basement will be put into use over the winter months just like the underground tunnel at work.

Advent season sets the stage of waiting in hope & a readiness for the Gift.  The Gift of Jesus is there to embrace any day & any time.  Our hopes are birthed in Him.  One of our children has a hope for healing of chronic health conditions of degenerative disc disease & arachnoiditis against the current medical odds.  Conventional medicine has harmed more than helped, so alternative therapies are sought for pain management.  Missouri joins the legalization of marijuana, a miracle in itself.  Another one of our children is waiting & has a hope for having a child.  Dean & I continue to pray for our daughters & sons.  And for each of us who have a hope whether tiny or big, impregnate our whole being, let the joy of knowing that our God reigns, He cares, He loves us right now just as we are.  Look to Him for security. “Hope as an anchor” is what I pray for you & our loved ones this holiday season & long into 2019!