Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Urban Community Garden Tour

For fun, I made a little video last week of my garden.  I thought it might help those interested to visualize the space I am working with.

The garden, an allotment or plot, in an urban community garden, has it's ups and downs.  But it gives me space to play in the dirt that I wouldn't otherwise have.  And after proving myself for a few years, I worked my way up from the smallest garden to the largest garden allotment.  Which is still tiny compared to all of the darling UK allotments I see on YouTube.  But we do the best with what we have, right?  And unless/until I find my way to a home with a proper big back yard, my little urban garden is where I find myself every possible sunny hour from now until November.

It's a short video and my first vlog style video.  I'll get better at it.  Like next time, I'll turn the camera around so it actually fills up the screen.  Learning curves!

But it gives you a better view of my space.  And also gives you a view of me without a lick of makeup on, not showered, sweating, and...wearing a tank top {a BIG deal for me...not something I do ever really...high fiving myself for working on some body confidence stuff lately}.  

Do I know how to sell something or what?!

I'll try to do these monthly so that you get a glimpse of the progress.  Things should really pick up next month {if it ever stops raining}. 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Garden Update: Spring Flowers and May Showers

Spring has been all over the place this year.  In the 90's one day and in the 50's with rain the next day. My plans and allergies can't keep it all straight.

That said, a lot has happened.  

Flowers are blooming!  

I'm not sure if it's because this winter was a hard one for me or if it's because I'm getting older or if there are other factors at play but I have just never seen such stunning situation of color in all the flowers before this spring.  I think the early heat wave helped matters and just brought out the best in so many spring flowers!

As far as my community garden plot, things are growing.  But as is the case every single year, I am battling lots of pests.  This year the potato bugs {which have in past years decimated my tomatillos and ground cherries} are out in full force.  And in a turn of events, so are the flea beetles.  Normally the flea beetles only attack eggplants.  But they seem to be all over my potatoes at the moment.

And then that brings me to the slugs.  Because of the way I mulch {newspaper covered in straw}, it creates a safe space for slugs and snails to live.  The benefits of my mulching system far outweigh the damage though as I have almost zero weeds to contend with and it does an amazing job of keeping the moisture in the soil.  It's just something I have learned to plan for.  So when I start my seeds in March, I do so knowing I will need at least double to be able to re-plant seedlings in the spring.  

I need to figure out some sort of netting over the strawberries to keep the birds away this year.  I am bound and determined to get more berries than the birds this year!

I know the garden looks rather brown at the moment as it is all covered in straw.  But give it another month and it will be full of plants in various stages of growing.  I've also planted a lot more zinnia seeds this year so I'm hoping the front fence line is a flower rainbow!

My tomato plants went in about a week ago and are doing okay.  They take a lot longer to acclimate in the garden than they do when I plant them at home.  Unfortunately, I only have space for a few at home so the garden needs to be the keeper of most of my plants.  

I'm excited for the potential of a great season!  I'm ready to see things growing and blossoming and fruiting in the coming months!

Do you have a garden this year- even if just a few pots on a back patio? What's your favorite thing to grow?  


Friday, May 26, 2017

Showing Off The Show House

Last weekend I went to the Vanguard Designer Show House to benefit the Albany Symphony here in Albany, NY.  It's generally a large home that has been sitting on the market for too many years, so designers come in and each decorate a single room or space.  Ticket sales benefit a charity, nosey folks get to peek inside a large estate home, designers get exposure, and the homeowner get's to refresh their listing in hope of a sale.  Everyone gets a piece of the pie.  In theory.

This year though was particularly special. My favorite cousin was designing a room for the second year in a row, though this was her first solo design in the show house.  

And her room, in my not at all humble opinion, was hands down the best on the tour!  She's brilliant at what she does and deserves so much more credit than this blog post!  And I wish to bits I could show you how beautifully designed her guest bedroom, bathroom, and walk in closet were, but as soon as I took this single photo, I was firmly told that I could take no more.

Which...let me vent for a moment...makes zero sense.  All involved are trying to get business in some way, shape, or form.  Why in the day and age of instant and free PR, would you discourage it.  I feel like a group of sourly out of date committee members made such a poorly thought out rule.

And that's how I feel about that!

But I did manage to snap a few photos when no one was looking.  And took my own photo outside by the giant hydrangea bush.  

The home was in part built in the early 1800's.  When flooding threatened it in the 1950's, the entire interior was removed while an architect drew up plans to replicate the house.  Then the home was built new in the 50's in a new location {and different city} and the original interior was added.

Okay...truth bubble.  When we drove up, my father and I, knowing none of the above story, both said it looked like it was built in the 50's.  At very first sight, it was very obvious.  So while I completely commend the pain staking efforts to save the amazing interior, bricks just don't lie.  And if you are an old house fanatic like me, it felt strange.  

That said, I LOVED the original details such as fireplaces and woodwork and floors!  I've said it endlessly on here and in my lifetime but...I just love knowing lives have been lived before me and will be lived after me in old homes.  I think that's beautiful and comforting and exciting.

As much as I loved the experience, I will say every designer home I've ever been to has overlooked landscape design.  Every.  Single. One.  And I've been to many.  

Geeze...it's a good thing this one is over because it unexpectedly turned into a critique instead of a review.  I loved my cousin's room.  I loved the master bathroom.  I loved the potential but sadly completely untouched outside space.  And I loved spending the afternoon peeking at creative ideas in a beautiful home!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy 10th Blogiversary

Friends...a HUGE milestone passed without me realizing it a few days ago.  And I'm honestly really bummed I didn't make a big to-do over it or do an old fashioned give-away {that Molly would win because she's the only one still reading}.

I started blogging a short time after discovering what blogs were 10 years ago.  And for funsies, here's the story...

I did a Google search for something to do with monograms.  I honestly can't even remember what it was because a decade old Google search isn't the kind of thing one tends to remember forever.  But I found two blogs in the process: Monogram Momma and Grosgrain Garage.  I'm pretty sure I found MM first and then GG second.

Both sites confused me.  Was this a store?  Was it a website?  I didn't understand what I was looking at.

I had never before seen a blog.

But I became addicted and found a few others along the way who are also no longer blogging {Melissa Morris, Chloe, etc} and wanted to play in the sandbox, too.

It took me really long time to get the hang of blogging and my style has grown so much over the past decade.  In the beginning and for many years, I never showed photos of myself.  So for years I had this relationship with blog friends, even though I never posted my own face on here.  And then once I started posting photos of myself, it was really rare.  I also never used my full name.

Which baffled me when blog friends turned real life friends found me on my personal Facebook page.  But they did and those friendships grew.

Blogging grew too.  It went from being this secret little preppy corner with 20 women of all ages who liked Lilly Pulitzer and monograms to a huge industry.  Which was simultaneously fun and frustrating.  It was, for me, cool to see this hobby turn into a big business for so many friends.  But also frustrating that the entire landscape was altered for everyone.  Posts had to be curated and crafted instead of the diary style of years before.  It was hard to keep up.

And most of my blog friends gave up.  Moved on to greener {less stressful} pastures.  

I'm a writer at heart though so I've found myself reviving this blog many times over as the years and standards evolved.  And as I got older, I stopped trying to keep up.  I write for myself.  If others want to read, that's amazing.  If not, this is here for my memories.

I do really miss the camaraderie that existed in those first few years though.  The days when we all read each other's posts and left kind comments.  It was such a sweet little community once upon a time.

Thankfully, most of us have found our way to Instagram and we keep up on the daily happenings over there.  But to the pearl wearing, monogram loving, Lilly bargain hunting ladies who have been here for the past decade, I toast you!  Cheers to what's next!  Cheers to the next decade of sharing our lives!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Shopping For Summer Basics

Because I'm not happy with my body, I haven't been much of a shopper in years.  I've picked up items here and there as needed, but haven't don't an actual shop in ages.

Last year though, I realized my summer wardrobe was on it's last leg.  My refusal to buy new clothes to fit my current body shape {that has basically been the same for close to five years...so it's not a new issue} has definitely caught up to me.

This is me.  This might be me now or it might be me forever.  I don't know how things will look a year or five years down the road. 

But I am this weight and this shape right now.  I'm long over due on accepting this fact.

It's time to pick up a few basic pieces to ease into refreshing my casual summer look.  Nothing drastic.  Nothing expensive.  But I just realized that I need to get rid of clothes that don't work.  Clothes that haven't fit in ages or look new but I never wear because I don't like the length or fit fine but I never wear because I don't feel good in it...gone.  

It's all part of my new mindset to stop letting stuff steal my joy.  

Listen, I think it's fine to keep a few hopeful pieces.  A favorite vintage Lilly dress will be in the back of my closet forever probably.  I like looking at it.  And I think it's fine to keep a few pieces that perhaps you only wear once in a blue moon to a formal event or skiing or other such occasions.  I'm not of the belief system that if you didn't wear it this year, you will never wear it again.  But no one needs storage totes full of mediocre shirts that have tags on them but you don't wear because your big boobs make them 2" shorter than you are comfortable wearing.  For example.  I'm not saying this is me.  Just...you know...as an example.  {Why are Polo brand polo shirts so short?  Why?  I love their fabric- it's the softest and thickest I can find.  But they are not long enough for my blessed chest and belly to all be tucked in.}

I've refreshed my wardrobe with the fine folks over at my favorite little boutique, New Army.  Or as the kids call it, Old Navy.  Either way, they have been my go to this season as I purge the storage totes of hopeless hopefuls and stock up on some new basics.

I did a quick little video on my first haul {because this has been a multi-round process} but thought I'd highlight my favorites from round two over here.  The shorts are my new favorite clothing item!  They have elastic waistbands and pockets...these are a few of my favorite things!  They're linen blend and incredibly comfortable!  The white ruffle sleeve top is also linen or linen-ish and really cute on.  

While I was on a roll, I also picked up these two items from Zulily.  Where I have had very mixed luck in the past, so this is kind of a gamble.  Stay tuned to see if I regret this purchase or not.  

I'm not really a t-shirt person.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that other than sorority t-shirts in college, this is the only printed shirt I've ever purchased.  I have a thing for lobsters though and thought it would be a good 4th of July/summer BBQ option without being over the top flag chic.  

What have you been picking up lately?  And please tell me...do you have a box of hopeless hopeful clothing items too?  


Thursday, May 11, 2017

One Year Ago We Said Goodbye

Dear Sadie,

One year ago today, you gave me your last kiss in the morning.  You gave your Poppy his last kiss, too.  For the rest of my life, that will be the best gift ever given to me.  To know you said goodbye to both of us, on your own terms, has meant more to me than anything else in this world.

I write about you all the time because I have panic attacks in the middle of the night that I will forget something.  I'm so terrified that even one moment of our 14 years and one month together will leave my thoughts, so I just write it all down and post photos over here as a back-up plan.  

Do you hear me talking to you daily?  I hope so.  Otherwise I'm just over here talking to myself like a crazy person.  Not a single day has passed that I have not out loud told you that I love you, baby bunny.  

I was going to blog about the journey I've been on this past year but have decided to post that tomorrow.  Today, I just want to remember my best friend and sweetest furbaby.  

Sadie, you knew my every joy and kissed away my tears.  You heard my deepest fears and heartbreaks and loved me anyway.  I could be short or tense or rushed and you never ever stopped loving me.  I have so many shortcomings but you were a little angel to see past all of them.  

Sadie, we also had the best adventures together!  You were a total road warrior with me, even though traveling was not your favorite thing to do.  Like me, you were born in Maryland.  And I brought you home with me to Virginia, and then to Washington DC in our tiny but awesome Capital Hill home.  We went to a wedding in South Carolina and to visit Bestie in Georgia.  We eventually moved up here to New York, or what I often refer to as the North Pole.  You were happiest up here because my dad, your Poppy, helped take care of you too.  And while you loved me so much, you were also besties with your Poppy.  It also meant that when I went out of town, you never had to go to a kennel, as Poppy took the very best care of you.  You were, and forever are, so loved!

Everyone who ever met you, even just in passing, immediately loved you.  I've never been a breed specific dog person so I wasn't aware that other Shelties were shy around people.  It was the first thing strangers would tell us if they had some connection to a Sheltie.  You just exuded love.  Always.  If a dog was growling and it's fur was up, you were sure it must be a friendly growl.  {Thankfully this Momma never let you get in real danger and always kept you on a leash!}  

Sadie, you were such a funny little girl!  It kills me that I don't have a video of this because it didn't happen the last few years of your life, as I believe you were deaf.  But for the majority of your sweet life, you would cock your head to the side as I talked to you.  It.  Was. The. Cutest. Thing. On. The. Planet! Your head and ears and eyes...oh you were so cute and funny.  You loved to get on furniture, something I totally reversed my own rules on as the years passed.  You loved to play Chase Sadie or chase squirrels in the park.  You loved walks and loved your cute winter coat.  You were my best sous chef, sitting exactly where I didn't want you to sit as you helped taste test nibbles of chicken or pasta or your favorite...whipped cream!  

My memories are all happy with you in them, my baby bunny.  You made every single aspect of life better just by being your sweet, silly self!  

I have so many more stories I want to share, mostly so that I have the memories for myself as the years pass.  So I will continue to blog each of them.  You are too precious to ever risk forgetting.

I am forever grateful that I got to be your forever momma.  You taught me how to love in a way I had never before known.  You gave my life meaning and routine and comfort.  You made me smile just by being in the same house.

I hope your days in Heaven are amazing and are being spent with Bailey and all of our other loved ones.  You deserve nothing but the best and most joy filled forever, my baby bunny.  And bowls of fresh whipped cream!

Thank you for being the most amazing little girl!  You're forever my baby, my best friend, and my soul mate.  I love you forever, plus one day more...okay...maybe two!

Until our next dream meeting, I love you so much!

XO Momma

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spring Is Such A Tease

Dear Spring,

You're such a tease.  Always.  You're famous up here for showing up and showing off and then leaving town.  It's your thing.  And you know that even though you're a flirt and a jerk, we will all fawn over you the next time you come back.

But this is ridiculous.  

I know...it could be worse.  Winter could come back to town in your absence.  And that girl is a witch with a capital B.  

But things are pretty darn bleak lately without you're shimmery presence.  It's nothing but grey skies and rain and wind and cold temperatures.

So if I promise to stop calling you a tease, will you pretty please come back to town for a few months?  That's a fair deal, right?

Think about it.  But...like...think fast.  I'm tired of this depressing weather and chomping at the bit to play outside again.


Friday, May 5, 2017

I'm A Terrible Friend When My Friends Have New Babies

When my friends have babies, I absolutely fail as a friend.  I can have good intentions for ten solid months and then that announcement text comes through and I am a total flop.

You're probably assuming it's because I want to be a mother and am not a mother and I have those issues to contend with when those announcements go out.

And at this age, maybe a little.

But the real issue is that my anxiety takes over my body in weird ways sometimes.  And as is often the case in my life, it all goes back to me not wanting to ever be a burden.

Have you ever played double Dutch jump rope?  Where two kids stand on either end of the long jump rope swinging it around and around and two more kids have to coordinate their rhythm to jump in the middle?  

Or maybe you've never played but surely you've observed this activity at some point in your life {if not, find a video online}.

Anyway, when the second kid is getting ready to jump in the middle, with two kids swinging the rope and another kid already jumping, that kid often does this little move to sort of will themselves into the rhythm and timing.  Like a lot of little false starts.

That's what I feel like.

I want to say congratulations and may I bring you dinner and would you like to talk because I'm often awake late when everyone else is asleep and how are you feeling.  I want to do and say and be all the things.

But I panic.  I start to text or call or reach out.  And then I delete it.  Over and over again.

I don't want to bug people.  I don't want to intrude.  I don't want to be one more person they feel like they need to talk to when all they really want is to close their eyes for five consecutive minutes.

Then, after I play this false start game for a few too many months, the gift I have already wrapped and waiting on me to just ask for an address, is now too small.  And I feel like it will be weird to reach out after a baby is already six or eight or 20 months old.  I feel embarrassed and guilty and like a terrible person.  

My heart is in it to win it.  But my mind is a beast that gets the best of me far too often.  It holds me back from being the kind of friend I want to be.  It holds me back from being the kind of person I want to be.  Sometimes the battle feels never-ending.

I'm working on this.  Because a person who cares as much as I do about everything should be able to send a gift.  It shouldn't be this hard.

{This doesn't end with baby announcements.  Last week I found a wrapped, monogrammed Christmas gift from at least five years ago and a wrapped, monogrammed wedding gift from at least seven years ago.  I also have not one but two baptism gifts from my Godsister's kids...both have long since outgrown these gifts.  All because I felt like I waited too long to send them and now they are still here...taking up space...making me feel guilty...and reminding me that even though I went through a lot of effort to show my friends love, they never knew, because it's all sitting here going to pot.}

My motto for this year is to Keep Moving Forward.  So I am going to find a way to make it up to Godsister, going to send the insanely belated wedding gift and hope she finds humor in it, and making a note that I have this Christmas gift ready to send come December.

I'm embarrassed.  But having this stuff here, reminding me of my failures, isn't healthy.

So today I am {sheepishly} going to keep moving forward.  


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Soaking Up Spring And Smelling Flowers

Spring has had me out and about, even on days that are less than sunny.  I have a harder and harder time dealing with our long, grey, cold winters and am just chomping at the bit to get outside come March.  With unseasonably warm weather a few weeks ago, everything is showing off this year.

This Dogwood tree is on full display right now.  I love how each flower has just four little petals, that start out dark pink and end up pale pink once they are in full bloom.  Nature is flipping amazing!

Daffodils are, in my opinion, the happiest flowers.  They just smile!

Long walks in my favorite cemetery are on my agenda every weekend this time of year.  It's a great way to exercise, talk to nature, and give a little nod to lives once lived.

While I grow 99% of my garden from seeds that I start under a grow light on my dining room table, I always find myself picking up a few herb pots about now for good measure.  This year I am trying something new {to me} and planting my herbs in a few containers on my back deck.  For as comfortable as I am in a kitchen, I am not very skilled at using a wide range of herbs.  So I thought that by growing them mere feet from my little kitchen, I might have better odds of experimenting more with flavors and varieties.

Seriously can't get enough Dogwood photos this year.  I often walk past a white one that is showing off too.

And finally, my favorite secret garden in my city.  This was Sadie's favorite garden and the last place I took her on a walk in the evening of May 10, 2016.  I'm coming up on our one full year apart from each other date and well...I am also coming to this church garden to shed a little tear and remember how much she loved it.  She would have gently sniffed each flower if she was here.  

I hope spring has found you this year, too, wherever you might live!  Don't forget to stop and smell {or just admire like me} the flowers before they fade into the next season!



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