Archive for October, 2010

all hallow’s eve

trick or tip: hanging photos

Because it’s hard to hang picture frames well without help….

Because I hate that all of my picture frames are sitting in piles, unhung….

Because I finally got fed up and started looking for solutions….

You get to learn my new favorite trick.

Step 1: Use painting tape to measure the distance between the hanging wire and the top of the photo frame.

Step 2: Determine wall location and make a small mark on the wall at the center of the top edge of the frame.

Step 3: Place the strip of tape on the wall, just below the mark for the frame’s top edge, then insert nail at bottom edge of tape.

Step 4: Remove tape and, voila!

This trick works particularly well with frames that have hanging wires that sit at different levels (like the IKEA frames that you assemble yourself). It would also work well for mirrors and sconces that require multiple holes at precise measurements.

Have your own no-fail trick for hanging things? Share it in the comments!

four seasons





I’ve been eagerly awaiting autumn, excited to see the final chapter in the garden’s annual cycle. I don’t notice the changes from season to season on a daily basis – they’re usually too small. But looking back at the pictures, I’m astonished at the transformation over time.

decorating for fall

A few changes around the house after a delivery of the autumn PartyLite line from mom and a family trip to the orchard & pumpkin patch. Goodbye, summer… hello ginger pumpkin candles. Now this place really feels like home.






waiting in the ground

The bulbs are in!
This really is cause for celebration. Seriously, do you have any idea how long it takes to plant 100 bulbs? I didn’t. I thought, “oh, cool, 100 bulbs. No problem.” WRONG. Kind of a challenge. Let me start from the beginning…

A few weeks ago, I received my box of bulbs for fall planting, thanks to this fabulous lady.
Any housewarming present that arrives straight from Holland is bound to be amazing, of course. But this one had me particularly excited… because nothing is more beautiful after a long Midwestern winter than the jewel tones of tulips, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths.
I’ve never planted bulbs before. And it was a heck of a lot of work. But I can’t stop thinking about how beautiful my garden will be around April… so, I think the sore muscles will be worth it.
Here’s a play-by-play of how I prepared one of the beds.
And, a few of the other beds…

So, now they’re in and all I can do is try to keep the squirrels away and wait for April.



It’s not something I would normally think to write about here, but today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is water. Since I have a blog… and some thoughts on water… it seemed appropriate to join in the fun.

Being a homeowner has absolutely changed my view of water – for practical and economic reasons alike. I was taught to conserve water from an early age – to turn off the faucet while brushing my teeth, to take short showers, to only water the lawn at night and run the dishwasher during off-peak hours.
But things change when you’re the one paying the water bill all alone. And cleaning up the mess from a flood. Etc.
So here are some thoughts on water, for what they’re worth.
1. I’m grateful to live in a city with some of the cleanest, best-tasting public water in the country (#10 on this year’s list from the EWG). Growing up, we always paid for bottled water. Not only is that not in my budget, but I’d rather be able to drink public water since my taxes pay for the infrastructure. (Also, no way do I have room for a bottled water cooler in my kitchen.) I have a Brita pitcher in my fridge for guests, but I’m mostly a tap water girl now… and totally cool with it.
2. My water heater (while only a few years old) is definitely not big enough for a family of five. It’s big compared to other houses my size, according to the realtor and inspector, but when my family is visiting, we’ve learned we have to shower in shifts. When it’s just me, it’s usually not a problem. But knowing that the hot water could run out at any moment does help motivate me to keep my showers short… which is a good thing.
3. Paying a water bill every month is kind of a bummer… but again, it reminds me to be grateful that I even have running water. And clean water. Piped into my house, ready for me anytime I want it. It is unlikely that my house had running water when it was built in 1900, which makes me even more appreciative of this modern convenience.
4. Water is powerful. A flash flood can overtake your street before your very eyes. Basements can be ruined in a big rainstorm, as many of my friends experienced just a few weeks ago. I count myself lucky to have a solid roof and an amazingly dry basement. During our record-breaking deluge in September, I only had a trickle of water find its way in, and no real damage was done. But water damage is unpredictable, and not often covered by homeowners insurance, and something I’ve learned to fear over the last six months.
5. Conserving water is not only the right thing for our world, but it’s the right thing for my budget. There’s no reason to waste water while gardening, cleaning or anything else. I don’t have a dishwasher and I don’t mind it. I do laundry only when necessary, and I water my vegetables at night. Next year I hope to attach my gutters to a rain barrel so I’ll be able to reuse that water as well. It takes a little extra effort, and I know we’ve all heard about it to the point of not listening anymore, but conserving water is important. And it is worth the effort.
For those of you who made it here through Blog Action Day, welcome! For all my regular readers, I’ll be back this weekend with some pretty exciting updates to show you. Stay tuned.

breakfast menu

sunday breakfast menu at the farmhouse:
southern-style caramelized bacon
fried mashed potatoes
scrambled eggs with garden tomatoes and pepper jack
now accepting fall & winter weekend reservations. come eat with me 🙂

who’s that on my porch?

I got home from work on Friday afternoon to this sight:
Don’t worry, it’s just my dad. He and mom are in town this weekend, and they arrived while I was still at work.
Mom already had the candles lit and the windows open. It’s Indian Summer weather here – 80 degrees and sunny in the middle of October. I think this time last year we already had snow flurries. But not this year – this weekend looks to be absolutely perfect.
It’s so nice to have people there to welcome you home 🙂 I hope I never take that for granted.

the first signs of fall

mums and gourds on the front step
mulled cider on the stove
my favorite tree on the drive to work