All posts in spring

seedling season

I said a few weeks ago that this stay-at-home spring feels a lot like the first few months as a homeowner. A lot of this is because that was the first — and last — year that I tried starting my garden from seeds instead of purchasing seedlings from a nursery. As soon as my employer told me, in mid-March, that we’d be working remotely until at least the end of April, I thought “well … I would finally be home to water seeds!”

And so, friends, I jumped in with basically no plan. I visited the neighborhood hardware store the weekend before Minnesota’s stay-at-home order went into effect, and I grabbed a bunch of seed packets, seedling trays and a grow light. It wasn’t until a month in that I realized my grow light situation was probably only 1/10 of what the seeds really needed … like I said, no plan. But it made me feel better about giving them a try, since spring weather in Minnesota means we don’t plant outdoors until between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

I’m excited about the herbs and veggies for sure, but I’m especially hopeful about the perennials. Buying a packet of seeds for $3 could yield dozens of plants that otherwise cost $15 or more apiece from a garden center. I know that’s because they’re time-intensive to nurture, so we’ll see if it works out in my favor by the end of the summer. But if I can fill my side yard with bee- and butterfly-friendly flowers that will come back year after year, I’ll be happppppy.

To be continued …

planted 4/5: lavender, green onion, oregano, lettuce, sweet basil, genovese basil, chives, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers; perennials: soapwort, black eyed susans, shasta daisies, coneflowers, butterfly flowers, hollyhock; annuals: cosmos, coleus, poppies
week 1 | the winner for first to sprout is … cosmos! three days!
weeks 1-3 | grow lamp and west-facing sunlight in the upstairs guest bedroom
week 4 | transition to the three-season porch
week 4 | everything has germinated except the soapwort and coneflowers

cheers to 10 years!

March 25, 2020

It’s been almost five years since I logged in to update this blog — as many of you know, I hit a major speedbump in 2015 with my health and have spent the last few years recovering. Throughout, I’ve been so grateful for this wonderful house to shelter and comfort me (especially when I was spending hour upon hour on my living room couch, enveloped in those gorgeous teal walls). At the same time, remembering how much energy I had “before” and how much work I used to do on the house, well, it made me feel pretty low by comparison. So, I took a little break from house projects and the blog, which turned into a long break. “Comparison is the thief of joy” never felt truer than during the years I spent recovering. So for the most part, I just lived here and enjoyed it and tried to spend increasing time away from the house as a measure of success in healing.

And now, it’s March 2020. I’m back to good (maybe great) physical health, and spending all my days inside the little farmhouse … thanks to the coronavirus. I just spent the 10th anniversary of home ownership conducting my day job responsibilities from a desk I’ve set up in my dining room, and raking last autumn’s leaves out of the garden beds. One benefit is for certain: my garden has never looked better, and it’s barely even spring yet.

So, I’m dusting off the blog to document a few highlights of this, the 10th year. It’s already proving to be an unexpected one. But there have already been more than a handful of deja vu moments that have transported me back to the first year. Similarities like the earlier-than-normal snow melt, the mid-March signs of spring, the stock-up trips to the grocery store and hardware store, the hours upon hours spent alone in the house tackling projects, the sowing of seeds, and the excitement of all I can cook and make in my very own kitchen. I have some more time to cook, which means revisiting recipes from my early years of the little farmhouse, and trying some new ones like a gluten-free sourdough starter (started it today … we’ll see!) And, I’ll fill you in on the few projects that I did tackle in the last five years.

the living room, March 2020

Whoever might be reading this — you’re probably at home a lot these days, too. I hope your home is safe, I hope you’re able to spend quality time with people you love, and I hope you’ll reach out if you want to connect.



I forgot what day it was, and then I saw this photo in my timehop stream. I guess this makes 4 years of Lauren + the little farmhouse!

I should probably get around to finishing the paint job in the kitchen that I started the first weekend, eh?

and then this happened:

Ick. Get me out of here.

Sort-of signs of spring

The sun was out today, and the ice is finally melting away — leaving pale browns and greens in its place.

This time a year ago, it had been warm for weeks and my daffodils and tulips were already blooming. Not so lucky this year! I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss all my new bulbs when I’m in China for two weeks this month. Sigh… mom will have to take pictures for me.

So, the farmhouse is surrounded by a slow creeping spring, and full of packing piles. And that’s about all there is to report. More projects coming when I get home!


how-to: spring cleaning in minutes a day

Spring cleaning seems like something that requires entire weekends devoted to (gasp) cleaning. But, tackling small projects can make as much of a difference as big projects. If you have 5, 10 or 15 minutes to spare, try one of these:

Polish leather boots and shoes: 15 minutes (or 3 minutes per pair)
Supplies: polish (black and/or brown, depending on your shoes), buffing brick, polish brush, soft cloth, leather lotion

Clean windowsills and baseboards: 5 minutes per room
Supplies: sponge, soap, hot water

Clean those makeup brushes!: 10 minutes
Supplies: mild shampoo, warm water, clean towel

If you spend more than $1 on a makeup brush, and if it touches your face every day, then you owe it to yourself (and your pocket book) to wash them at least twice a year (I’ve heard that once a month is optimal). It’s easy: fill your sink or a big bowl with warm water and mild shampoo or soap, and soak your brushes. Clean and rinse them individually, and lay on a clean towel to dry (flipping after a few hours). I find that eyeshadow brushes take about 30 seconds apiece, while blush and powder brushes take a few minutes each because they collect so much build-up from daily use. Although I procrastinate on this project every year, I never regret it when I’m done.

Change out your wardrobe: 5-15 minutes

Part 1: scarves!

I keep seasonal scarves within easy reach on a rack between my closet and bedroom door. And I keep more in a basket next to the chaise lounge. And … ok … more in the trunk at the end of my bed 🙂 Can you tell this girl has a scarf addiction? But you can do the same, and it makes for an easy change every season:

before: fall/winter arrangement

after: spring/summer arrangement

Part 2: closet capers
I spied a neat trick on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a go this year in my own closet. The idea is to turn all of your hangers backward at the beginning of the season. Then, as you wear clothes, you put hangers back on the rack the normal way. At the end of the season, you’ll know which clothes you haven’t worn recently. Seems easy enough … so when I unpacked a box of spring/summer clothes today, I gave it a try. We’ll see what stays and what goes six months from now 🙂


It might be cold and gray outside, but spring is officially here!

Gardening in March?

Amazing weather this weekend! Last year, the tulips didn’t start peeking through the soil until the week of April 10th. Craziness. Anyway, you all know we had an unseasonably warm winter here, so I guess gardening in March is par for the course. And my sister brought me a beautiful hammock from Honduras last month, so I just had to try setting up the hammock stand I got for free on Freecycle a year or so back.

Early afternoon:



Late afternoon:


The whiskey barrel planter reminds me of my childhood home in San Antonio… mom had them on the back porch, and I learned to walk while holding onto the sides. I saw them everywhere in Austin last week, and just couldn’t resist when I saw one for sale this weekend.

Now everything is getting doused by a nice thunderstorm (which also alerted me to some leaky windows on the porch…) so I’m hoping it all grows by leaps and bounds while I’m visiting this dear friend in NYC!

Enjoy spring, lovelies —


Posted by Picasa

stubborn as spring

The old blog background is back… a tribute to the 60-degree weather we’re finally getting in Minnesota. About time! While I’ve been tormented by spring flowers and weather in Atlanta, Indianapolis, St. Louis and San Francisco the past few weeks, I’ve been staring at my garden every moment that I’m home. Willing it to grow as I watch.

Which it finally started doing this week. I swear, this tulip was an inch shorter when I left for work on Thursday morning. By the time I got home that night, it was pushing last fall’s matted maple leaves up so it could get more sunlight. Stubborn little things, tulips are.

The rhubarb is coming up already, too…

So excited to see how they all look in a few days!

the first glimmer of spring

I have a backlog of posts that are waiting to be published, but this one couldn’t wait.

Because guess what? The longest, hardest winter of my life is over (I’m not exaggerating – we’ve had over 80″ here in Minneapolis). Don’t get me wrong – there are as many reasons to love winter as any other season. And I’m sad to pack away the skis and boots.

Except that now I have this:

The first tulip (or crocus, or daffodil – who cares) is peeking through the soil on the south side of the house.
You know what I have to say to that?
Mind you, there’s still snow and ice on the ground:
(If you look carefully, you’ll see the little pop of yellow in the lower left quadrant.)

But I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I’ve been waiting since October for these babies to show their pretty faces.
Guess this means I get to start planning the rest of this year’s garden too 🙂