Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sharing my love of Nature...

 

I took this photo below at our home previous to where we now live, and after we sold our little farm... I planted a Butterfly Bush and couldn't take enough photos of the beautiful visitors I had each day... this gorgeous Tiger Swallowtail let me get very close to her each time she came for a sip of nectar from the blossoms...



I have been told that animals and Nature love me... I do believe that may be true... I know I certainly love all of these precious creatures God gave us... and I for one believe they can sense that... my beautiful butterfly is actually tickling my finger with her little legs... we would meet at "our" Butterfly bush each day for some "quality" time together...


 This is the real me most days!

When we had our little farm that I posted about previously, after the development came and we had new neighbors right next door, I became friends with an adorable little seven year old daughter they had... Her name was Kassi, and even at her tender, young age of seven, she was indeed a true "Nature lover", like me... whenever she saw me out in my gardens, she came over to the fence and wanted to know everything about what I was doing, the names of my flowers, the birds at my birdbath, would I show her the little tracks the raccoons had made in my garden... her inquisitive little mind just amazed me...she sooo reminded me of another little seven year old girl (moi)... tagging along beside my mother, grandmother and great~grandmother, asking these very same questions, and always getting a loving, patient answer to everything I asked... I talked to Kassi's mother about her genuine interest in Nature, and suggested they join the National Wildlife Federation, one of my favorites... that way, Kassi would also receive their beautiful magazine, full of so much information and beautiful photos.... her mother replied "we can't afford it"... Hmmm... BMW sitting in their driveway, snowmobiles out back... mother gets her hair done once a week, nails done every week, spa treatment every week... yep, too expensive to dish out $15.00 for a year's membership to National Wildlife... ok, I asked her about letting Kassi have a little vegetable garden of her own on their property... "Nope, I don't have time"... was her mother's reply... Hmmm... I guess not... hair appointment, nails done, spa treatment.... nope! No time for a precious little girl's budding little interest in Nature... Silly me!... SO, me being the person I am, MOI, after finishing my National Wildlife magazines I then gave them to Kassi... I also let Kassi have a little row in my big vegetable garden for her own, where she planted radishes and carrots... the only condition was that SHE maintain it herself... and she did! Each morning, I would hear the squeak of our gate opening, and there was little Kassi, sunhat and all, ready to go to work on "her" little garden... her mother showed no interest at all in the fact that Kassi was learning from me how to love and take care of the earth and all of it's precious little creatures as well... when she pulled her first red radish out of the soil, her excitement was contagious and I loved it, and wish I had a picture of her doing that... While sorting more of my "treasures" the other day, I came across this little card Kassi made and brought to me back then...  my goodness... she would be 23 years old now... I  love and miss that little Nature girl...  I just know she must still be that same sweet Kassi with her love for all of Nature... 
 
 
I hope you can read all of the things she loved about Nature... the little card was a precious gem to me then... it still is...




I will NEVER tell a child, or anyone else for that matter that I "don't have time" to answer their questions about Nature, or anything else they want to ask me... And the "we can't afford it" excuse... it was just that, an excuse, and a poor one at that... if nothing else, a library card is free and the library opens up so many exciting new worlds... Let's see then, (I am guessing here)... weekly hair appointment $50.00, weekly nail appointment $50.00, weekly spa treatment $100.00... teaching an adorable little girl about the wonders of Nature... priceless!... I hope you will all take the time to share Nature and all of her astounding beauty... as Kassi always said "Natcher is cool"...  xoxo...  Julie Marie


 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Animal Tracks...



Jack and I are such Nature lovers...  we love to try to identify wild animal tracks in the snow... (which, by the way we have PLENTY of now... it can stop anytime... please! we have another blizzard again today!)... all kinds of little critters live here...  some in our own yard... some down the trail... deer, raccoons, porcupines, squirrels, foxes, muskrats, beavers, badgers... the list goes on and on...  this terrible winter weather we are having makes it awfully hard on all of them too...  recently, I showed you a number of my gardening books...  I also have a huge collection of Nature books...  one of my favorites is "The Complete Tracker" by Len McDougall...  here, you will find valuable photos and info on how to track and identify the animals in your neck of the woods...


Here's some tracks we came across this morning...  can you identify them?...


Let's check my book and see if we can find out who is having a party in the snow today...  is it a badger?...  you start by counting the number of toes, and also the length of their toenails...  nope, not a badger...


Could it be a porcupine?...  nope, not that either... not even close...


How about a beaver?... they love the stream down the lane and around the bend...  sorry...  not a beaver... but beavers are so "dam" cute though!... (sorry... couldn't resist saying that!)...


Oooh look!... there's our little track~making wild critter now!...


She thinks she's pretty darn cute too...  she's right...  xoxo...  Julie Marie  PS  THANKS Filly and Ellie for the homemade peach cobbler today... it's delish!!!

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My little indoor "potting shed"...



In my last post, I showed you a number of my favorite gardening books I started sorting and organizing...  Spring will soon be here (YES, I CAN'T wait!)...  I would be MORE than happy to share some of our TONS of snow with you winter lovers out there...  me...  I prefer sunshine and warmth!...  not wishing the time away...  just wishing the snow and cold away...  sooo...  on a snowy day (again) like today...  I will be in my indoor "potting shed" as I call it... starting to plant little "seedlings" that will hopefully grow beautiful and get transplanted into my cottage garden...


I showed you this little book, one of my very favorites...  you don't need a big place for your own "potting shed"...  one day I hope to have a potting shed again like I had at our farm...  but for now, my "potting sheds" are one inside in my laundry room and one in our garage in a little corner of shelves just for me...  your own "potting shed" can be anywhere...


Just gather all your little necessities...  pots, saucers, potting soil, seeds, spray bottle to mist with... plant markers... what have you...


Our laundry room gets alot of light and the plants love it in there with the warmth from the washer and dryer as well...


Jack got me this cool cover for the tops of the washer and dryer...  it's the perfect place to fold laundry on, but also the perfect place for potting tender little seedlings...


Paper towels, a watering can... my handy garden tote filled with little trowels, claws, gloves, etc...


Pretty seed packets...


Small house plants and birdhouses and nests make it cute...


We also keep all of our birdseed in here for our precious little feathered friends...  the door out of my laundry room leads to our back deck and down to most of our feeders...  it's a full time job right now keeping these little birdies tummies full in this weather!... they too are looking forward to Spring!...


If you love to garden, like me, I hope I have inspired you to create your own little "indoor potting shed"...  it's warm and cosy and relaxing in here today...  perfect for little seedlings to begin their life!...  xoxo...  Julie Marie


Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Favorite Gardening Books...


Today, I brewed me a nice hot cup of tea in my favorite cup and went about sorting and organizing all of my garden books...  (I hope that Groundhog has some good news about Spring next Saturday!... we've got huge blizzards again today!)...


I never feel guilty buying a book...  I keep them forever and read them and refer to them over and over again... I always get more than my moneys worth out of them!...  this is one of my newest and most favorite ones... "English Cottage Gardening for American Gardeners" by Margaret Hensel...  it is absolutely beautiful!...  my gardens are all English cottage style...  they grow in wild abandon, little free spirits who sometimes pop up in the most unexpected places...  I love all gardens, but I don't want mine all to look extra tidy, neatly trimmed or edged in perfect little rows kinds...  I don't do alot of pruning, mostly just deadheading... and let my little "free spirits" wander where they may... roses clamboring up trellises and arbors... Clematis cascading around a birdhouse... wildflowers reseeding themselves...  my gardens are not really big, but I fill every inch of them with blooms... this is my favorite kind of garden of all...  like my mama's, my grandmother's and my great~grandmother's gardens all looked as well...


Today was so relaxing sorting and organizing my books by category...  most of my books have been with me for years...  some are newer... all are loved...  here are some more favorites...


Some of my reference books...  I never use chemicals or pesticides, so if some of my older ones talk about that, I skip those parts!...  my yard is free of toxic anything!...


 Another one of my favorites is by wonderful Sharon Lovejoy... "A Blessing of Toads...  A Gardener's Guide to Living With Nature"...


 And another of Sharon's books she just gifted me with, "Hollyhock Days...  Garden Adventures for the Young at Heart"... you can click here to visit Sharon at her blog and find out more about her fabulous books, and also learn more about her "Grimy Hands Girls Club" for gardeners...  her button is on my sidebar with a link as well...


I also collect vintage garden books...  here are two of those I use alot...I haven't finished sorting all of my vintage ones, so will show the rest in another post...


Summers are full of beautiful blooms in containers and hanging baskets on my front and back porches and steps...


My little "potting shed" is actually an area in our garage...  shelves filled with all of my gardening tools, pots, potting soil, etc... and a small one in our laundry room inside...  this is my favorite little book on potting sheds...  I hope to have a little shed like I had at our farm one day soon...


Wildflowers are also a big part of my gardens...  many reseed themselves for years and they are so carefree and beautiful...


My favorite wildflower book would have to be "Wildflowers Across America" by beautiful former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson...


I also grow herbs...  they are the easiest thing in the world to grow, and provide us with both fresh and dried herbs for seasonings... also, I use many of them in crafts...


And the fun thing about growing herbs... you don't need a big garden to do so...  "Little Herb Gardens" by Georgeanne Brennan and Mimi Luebbermann is my favorite book on growing herbs in small places...


 I grow many in containers, both indoors and out...  love picking  fresh chives in the middle of winter from a pot on my windowsill...  so...  there you have some of my favorite gardening books... and how this turned into a favorite day spent with "friends"... and there are more stacks waiting to be sorted... would love to know your favorite gardening books...   xoxo...  Julie Marie


Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Breath of Springtime...


The past two days we have been hit with freezing rain, or ice pellets as the weather station is calling it...  outside, it is a skating rink!... it's not hail... we get that too but this is rain that is freezing as it falls...  bitter cold and snow and ice everywhere making it nearly impossible to go anywhere... and now today, we are socked in with fog!... ice storms are rare here in Utah as we are such a dry climate state... I think they said this is only the 7th time we have had one since 1940...   the day before the ice storms hit, I did manage to get out and bring a little bit of "Spring" into our home...


Basket $7.50 at Michaels (used a 50% off coupon)...  Ivy and Cyclamen 2 for $5.00 at the market...  vintage doily...  already had...  little bit of Springtime inside on a freezing ice~stormy foggy day...  priceless!...  xoxo  Julie Marie


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Keeping a Garden Journal...



Do you keep a garden journal?...  I have kept one for the past thirty years... as I fill the pages in one, I start a new one...  sketching out my gardens...  jotting down little notes...  making my wish~list of new plants and flowers come Spring... my gardens are not really big, like I used to have at our little farm I have posted about...  but I fill every single inch with blooms... and my wish~list seems to get bigger each year...  I simply must have flowers...  everywhere!...  do you?... and I don't always follow gardening do's and don'ts...  many plants that say they will not grow here actually do just fine...  and then there are those that are supposed to do well here and don't...  I rely on my own gardening knowledge...  passed down to me from my mama, my grandmother and my great~grandmother from the time I was a little girl...  did you love gardens as a child?...  I did...  most times, I could be found in our gardens...  and that still holds true today...



There is just something so soothing to the soul to sit and make plans for my gardens this time of year... seed catalogs have already begun to arrive...  and I linger over them for hours... I browse through my favorite gardening books and always see something I want to try this year that I haven't planted before...  I plan and dream...  plot and scheme...  making lists of flowers for my containers for our front porch... and for my hanging baskets... keeping in mind which flowers will bring more butterflies and hummingbirds to my gardens...  I don't use sprays or pesticides...  and our yard is certified a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation... I noticed the little garden center down the lane and around the bend from me is already bustling with activity in their greenhouses...  they won't open until mid~to late March...  but I am usually their first customer... I can hardly wait until I see their sign out that reads "Pansies"...  for then...  Spring has surely arrived...  but for now...  I will finish sketching the rest of my gardens...  and look back over last years notes... smiling as I read on a warm Spring day that my Bleeding Hearts were in bloom...  xoxo...  Julie Marie



"The kiss of the sun for pardon
the song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth"
 ~ Dorothy Frances Gurney


Friday, January 18, 2013

Creating My Own Springtime Happiness...



Today the sun is actually out and streaming in my kitchen windows...  casting sparkly little shadows about that look like little fairies dancing on the walls...  we have had days and days and days of snow and cold and earlier this morning we were socked in with fog...  but right now...  right this minute...  the glorious sunshine says Spring is indeed coming... maybe not outside for a while...  but I am making my own Springtime inside...


These wintry days have been so gloomy and depressing... so I remembered one of my favorite quotes... 
"There is no key to happiness...
the door is always open" ~  Anon


 Sooo...  I decided I would "open" my Springtime door to happiness... I gathered up one of my favorite little quilts...  sprinkled all over with the teensiest, tiniest, ittiest bittiest softest~of~soft palest~of~pale pink rose buds...  then I put it on my kitchen table...  perfect!...


Then I filled an old ironstone pitcher full of soft pink silk roses and added a few white roses here and there...  I never part with my silk flowers and just "picked" these beautiful roses out of my stash of flowers in my craft room... I love "shopping" at home...  and not spending a penny!...


I feel so giddy today...  the sunshine... the roses... knowing that Spring really is right around the corner...  so happy I opened my "door to happiness" this morning...  is your door open?...  I am wishing that it is...   xoxo...  Julie Marie


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cottages...


Are you like me...  and dream of living in a little old rose~covered cottage?...  I just read my sweet friend Amy's post at My Shabby Bungalow and how she loves little houses...  me too!...  the butterflies in my garden love their little cottage in the roses in the Summertime... it's small... and cosy... surrounded by Fairy roses...  what could be more enchanting...


Jack and I built our darling little farmhouse in the 80's and lived there for thirteen years...  we sold it when greedy developers bought up all of the surrounding countryside and put in cookie~cutter look alike houses, churches and schools...  forever taking away our country atmosphere... we didn't want to live in a subdivision...  we loved things the way they were when we built out in the middle of nowhere...  here's my little farmhouse... before everything changed...  I still miss it...


The home we live in now is nice...  I have called it a "farmhouse" or "cottage" although it is not on a farm like my one above was... it's not a big house... and it's only 5 years old...  but we have made it old~fashioned...  Jack and I could actually live in  a smaller house for just the three of us (Tessy too of course!)... our home is full of "farmhouse~cottage" things from the past thirty years or so...  and I love them... lately I am seeing so many beautiful old farmhouses in magazines and blogs, actual working farms...  I love them too...  but I don't think I would want to work a farm again...  we did not have farm animals at our little farm, but I had HUGE gardens...  every kind of flower and vegetable you could imagine...  orchards, a vineyard, berries,  herb gardens...  it was ALOT of work...  I enjoyed it then...  but now, I want something on a much smaller scale...   my cottage gardens I have now are just right for me...  I must have roses...  especially pink ones...  wherever we live...


Pink roses in my garden last Summer

And I love old~fashioned front porches...  the kind you sit out on on cool Summer evenings... watching the fireflies and wishing on a star...  I do that now... perhaps I will just add a few more old~fashioned touches to our own porch this year...


A cosy corner on my front porch several Summers ago

There are two sweet little cottages just down the lane and around the bend from us where we take our Nature walks each day... we love both of them and would love to live in either one...  well...  neither one is for sale right now...  but we are keeping our eye on them... you never know...  plus, our little town is full of charming quaint little cottages nestled in amongst farmhouses and open fields...  like my friend Amy, I love the really old, small cosy homes... ones with wonderful little nooks and crannies...  leaded glass windows...  gingerbread on the front porch and a screen door that slams... I have no desire to own a mansion on a hill... I'm no fancy nancy...  and I would rather have roses than diamonds...   looking around my home this morning... in the early morning light,   it said cosy... and welcome...  and cottage to me...  and if we never move from here, I am content... for, like so many things...  it is a way of life as much as anything... my bedroom (below) is full of family photos and flowers and special gifts from family and friends...  I love that Amy keeps pictures her children have drawn for her all over her fridge...  these are the precious things that make a house a home...  


These are some of my most favorite books... they show a number of different homes...  some farmhouse looking, some cabin looking...  some even ranch styles...  but according to The Cottage Book,  they all have several things in common that makes them a cottage...  "simple, cosy, intimate, personal and relaxed... they counter the trend to the bigger is better school of modern life"...



Which do you prefer...  a bigger house...  or a cosy little cottage?...  we all have our own style...  mine just happens to be a cosy little cottage...  hmmm... my home does seem plenty cosy... and comfy... and full of things I love...  maybe just some re~arranging of things and some fresh flowers to brighten up these cold and snowy winter days...

 My front porch last Summer

Soon it will be Spring... and my roses will be clamboring up all around my front porch... and my old~fashioned cottage gardens will be in full bloom... and besides...  home really is where your heart is... and right now...  my heart is here...  also,  I want to thank all of you once again who have left me such wonderful comments and sent me emails about my blog being featured in the February issue of Romantic Homes magazine...  I am still over the moon about that...  and I adore you all!...  xoxo  Julie Marie 

Pale Pink Roses... and things that touch my heart...



I don't do alot of decorating for Valentines Day...  maybe because our home is already full of the things I have gathered over the years that say "love" to me...  I didn't go out and buy anything new...  I already had all of these things that speak to my heart... I am truly most content with what I already have, and an occasional "new" vintage treasure every now and then... I love these things that make me smile...  


Like pale pink roses on sweet little hearts... (the pretty little white heart with a pale pink rose was a gift to me from my sweet rose~loving friend June at Laughing With Angels)... and on beautiful vintage porcelain...  and on one precious little pup's pink collar... "pink roses... happiness, gracefulness...  gentleness and love"...  and pretty pink roses back on my bed for Spring ...  I bought this set some years ago at TJ Maxx...  I think it is called English Rose... I bought the two rose pillows (the one out of barkcloth and the one next to it) from Tara Frey back when she had her shop "Bella Pink"...  the "Home Sweet Home" rose pillow is Rachel Ashwell from Target years ago...

 

 Making it the perfect place to dream...


Of pink roses, of course...

(My favorite jewelry... sprinkled with dried pink roses from my garden...   gifts to me from my sister, my nieces, Jack my love and vintage pieces that belonged to my mama) 

I want to thank all of you for your heartfelt comments on my post previous to this one about my blog being featured in the February issue of Romantic Homes magazine...  your comments all mean so much to me... and I love you all... xoxo...  Julie Marie