House & Home

5 Things I Learned This Week: Gardens and Gardening

My first little garden.

When I was little, my mother used to take me to the garden center. We’d stay there for what felt like hours, walking every aisle, examining every plant. My mother was so happy among the leaves and flowers, the smell of recently watered soil. Sometimes we bought something, sometimes we didn’t. My mother was happy to browse.

These were my least favorite outings. I didn’t understand: we weren’t gardeners. Not really. Mom had some houseplants and she sometimes planted flowers. Mostly, by her own admission, she had a “black thumb,” meaning the plants in her care would inevitably wither. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t dream.

Now that I’m older, I’m starting to understand. No, I don’t drag my kids through the garden center–especially because my daughter is obsessed with flowers and would beg me to buy them like other kids beg for toys–but I find myself drawn to the idea of growing things. There’s a competency required to coax food from the soil (I’m far too practical for flowers; I’ve planted a few perennials at my daughter’s request but I refuse to waste energy on blooms that need regular replanting), a feeling of accomplishment that comes with a crop.

Or so I assume. I have yet to harvest anything from my garden but this year, I’ve decided I will grow something. I’ve got zucchini plants out back (which I grew from seeds!) and potatoes that I’ve planted totally improperly but seem to be growing anyway and a burgeoning pumpkin vine and a tower of tomato blossoms. I’ve planted so much in part to hedge my bets: if only one of these projects bears fruit (or vegetable), I will consider myself successful.

I first planted these things more than a month ago. Now, as they enter some sort of vegetal adolescence, I find myself flipping through books and searching the internet for reassurances, tips, tricks–anything to help me nurse my plants through to fruition. Not everything I’ve found is going to make me a great gardener, but here are some highlights of my research:

The word “bumper” used to refer to a glass of wine, filled to the brim. Thus, an abundant harvest became known as a “bumper crop.”

Continue reading “5 Things I Learned This Week: Gardens and Gardening”
Friends & Family, House & Home

Stay-at-Home

At first I said my life hadn’t changed.

I’m always home, I said.

OK:

There had been hours in the car and trips to the gas station, the grocery store, minutes and hours wandering aisles looking at nothing I needed. These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

There had been mornings alone in coffee shops, staring at blank pages and blinking cursors. Journal entries written in the front seat of my car in the parking lot, sketches made with my seat belt still buckled, the radio mumbling away the extra minutes I built into my schedule.

There had been waiting: for appointments, in lines, at traffic lights. An hour each Thursday, reading while my daughter danced ballet. An hour each Friday, a crossword completed while she sang.

These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

These had been lonely. Pointless.

Time spent with no budget:
staring at the mortar between bricks,
my pencil running over rough paper,
trying to capture the shadows
that would become darkness–a smear
of graphite next to a jotted phone number.

BUT:

These were the throw-away times. I would never miss them.

House & Home

Miss Sheri’s Steps to Preparing for Guests

Are you hosting this holiday?

Are you panicking?

Having company can be overwhelming, and readying your home for guests can seem like an enormous task. Lucky for me, I have a friend who knows about these things. One text to Miss Sheri, and I’ve got a guide to help me focus (and to choose which chores to ignore!).

Continue reading “Miss Sheri’s Steps to Preparing for Guests”
Goals & Challenges, House & Home, Just Routine

Just Routine: The Spastic Polka and Other Metaphors

Whenever I try to change myself, this is how it goes:

One step forward, two-hundred-and-twenty-three steps back. Or, as Lorelai Gilmore would say*: I start doing the spastic polka.

Of course, part of the problem is that I put myself in advanced courses when I don’t even know the fox trot. I tell myself, I learned the Viennese waltz for a show I was in back in 2003, so clearly I am thisclose to becoming the world’s greatest dancer. I don’t want to spend hours perfecting my shuffle-ball-change**. That’s boring. And it doesn’t feel productive. Give me a spotlight and some sequins and I’ll surely be Ginger Rogers.

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

Anyway, I’m actually talking about this routine thing. Growing up.

Whatever. Continue reading “Just Routine: The Spastic Polka and Other Metaphors”

House & Home

My Kind of Clean

cleaning-washing-cleanup-the-ilo-48889.jpegLife is busy.

It’s also messy. Most of us do not have the luxury of a maid service, so it’s up to us to roll up our sleeves and do the dirty work. How we do our dirty work and how often is different for everyone.

I grew up thinking I was a lazy, messy person. I knew how to clean, but just couldn’t find the motivation. My mother was always cleaning and I observed my two sisters following her example when they settled into houses of their own. Nothing slowed them down: not children, the flu, or even full-time jobs. They just did it–and would complain how crazy it made them feel if they didn’t do it.

I like my surroundings to be neat and tidy, but have always found that I would just about do anything else first instead. I mean naps are awesome, right?

Nowadays I have two kids and the mess has reached a whole new level. It is no longer me and my husband making messes; it is my two adorable, sweet kids who tear through my house in a whirlwind of daily destruction.

I find I need order and a sense of control in this chaos. I need clean. Continue reading “My Kind of Clean”

House & Home

House Proud

Welcome to Sheri, who, along with being my BFF, is an amazing mother, wife, gardener and DIY-er. She’s a tea drinker, an animal lover, and has amazing style. I hope you’ll love her as much as I do. Here, she introduces herself through her relationship to her house.

art-wall-brush-painting.jpg

I was in my mid twenties when my husband and I bought our house.

When I first saw it, I twirled around the large yard like Maria from Sound of Music. I loved that the house was older, had a fairly open floor plan, and needed some love.  My husband and I knew this was the house: the house to fix up, where we could finally have a dog and start a family.

After a few years, though, I started to become disgruntled with my house. It is small, with one bathroom and no garage. The yard is huge and a little more than I  felt I could handle at times. Continue reading “House Proud”