27 February 2014

Can You Smell the Lemongrass?

Lucky me. I was the winner of Sharon Odegaard's giveaway for this year's Grow Your Blog Party. Sharon lives in sunny California and for weeks I've been drooling over the lovely nature photography on her blog Leaning Into Life.

These came in the mail wrapped in white tissue. I can't tell you how cheery they made me feel. They smell heavenly. Lemongrass is my absolute favorite scent, with lavender a close second.

Thank you, Sharon.

We have a cold spell going on here on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Our high temp today was -8 degrees. Tomorrow is expected to be colder. Most of the local schools were closed today and probably will be tomorrow as well. Stay safe and warm wherever you are.

Think Spring!



17 February 2014

Reaching for the Sun

Happiness is a warm house and a sunny day. It has been a long winter and it's not over by a longshot.

I brought one of my geraniums up from the basement where they have spent the winter under fluorescent lights. Though they've been neglected and have gotten leggy, the promise of spring is in their earthy smell.

I hope you're weathering the winter wherever you are. It has been brutal and tragic for so many.

Stay warm and safe.


28 September 2013

Little Painted Cupboard

What do you think of this little painted cupboard I found yesterday?

To give you some perspective, the ironstone pitcher is just a tad smaller than one that would come with a wash bowl.

Might this have been made for a young girl? I find it charming.

My guess is long ago it had a backsplash that came off rather crudely. It has also been used as a work table.

There's an accumulation of old dirt on the front of the drawer and some paint stains on the top. I can't bring myself to touch it other than a light dusting. What would you do with a really old piece that is kind of grungy?

I'm thankful I was at the right place at the right time and it didn't get hauled off to the dump.

Do the knobs seem a little heavy to you? I'm not sure if they're original to the piece.

I think the autumn colors and grain-painting make it look woodsy; the soft palette feminine. 

It would fit in my dream house. What do you think? Do you like this look or is it not your thing?



21 September 2013


So far, we've had three hard frosts and freezing temps are in the forecast for the next couple of nights.

Before covering my tomato plants with a tarp, I grabbed as many cherries as I could in case they don't make it. Too bad over the winter I gave my food dehydrator to the Goodwill. I bought it about fifteen years ago and never used it. Seems like whenever I break down and get rid of something (including digital files), I end up needing it again.

The apples are from one of several heirloom trees that grow on our land. They make the best apple crisp, though it took me 40 minutes to peel and slice them because they're so small. It was so worth it.

In the spring of 2012, we had 80 degree days the end of March and then it went back to winter. We had zero apples, this year the trees everywhere are loaded.

There are lots of bushes and shrubs with berries on them. Lots of chokecherries, mountain ash, rugosa rose, plants I don't know.

The wild strawberries were the biggest and best I've ever seen, though they were a month late.

It was a bad year for mosquitoes, flies, and earwigs. Tonight I saw a mouse in my workshop. I thought it was the one building around here that was mouse-free. Ha!


I plan to freeze these apples for apple crisp over the holidays.

The deer can have the rest.

I spent a quiet fall afternoon picking apples and getting ready for winter.  So much to do, so little time.

Where did summer go? Did you even have a summer? All I know is it went by too fast.


19 September 2013

In Search of the Perfect Oilcloth

One of my fondest childhood memories is summer vacation at grandma's camp. It was little more than a shack on homesteaded land on a small inland lake not far from where we live. My father and grandfather built it in the 1940s using whatever materials they could scrounge. It had low ceilings, linoleum floors, gas lights, and a wood-fired cook stove in the summer kitchen. We hauled water from the lake for sponge baths and washing dishes. Trips to the outhouse after dark were always kind of scary.

Cotton Lavender Oilcloth Tablecloth



The farm table, where we ate our meals and in the evenings the grown ups played cards, was covered with a piece of oilcloth that was tacked to the underside. It was practical in a camp where even the simplest conveniences were lacking.

I think I need an oilcloth tablecloth for my kitchen table. Spills and crumbs could be easily wiped away and it would be a lot less work than having a tablecloth in and out of the washer and dryer. Easy so far, right?

Cotton Lavender Oilcloth



Not so fast....

Here's what I found in my online oilcloth search: if you're looking for something subtle and stylish, you need to go to Europe. Seriously. Gingham checks and summery cherry patterns are pretty, don't get me wrong, but I'm looking for something quieter and simpler that I can live with day in and day out.

European oilcloth also comes in wider widths. That's important to me as I don't want a skimpy overhang.

Tablecloth Natural Striped Linen Provence



I discovered that oilcloth is popular in the UK (as well as France and Sweden), which led me to a fabulous website called Not on the High Street, which is a British 'Etsy-like' marketplace offering products from multiple vendors. Not all ship to the US, but many of them do. I'll pay the extra postage to get what I want.

Vintage / Rustic Hessian Burlap Table Runner



I haven't had a chance to look over the whole site but I'm lovin' what I've seen so far. Hannah from Tonder & Tonder has been patiently answering my questions about overhang lengths and finished edges.  It is one of those shops where you want every single item they sell.

Hessian Stag's Head Cushion Cover



So I haven't found the perfect oilcloth, yet, but I feel like I'm getting closer.

If you're not familiar with Not on the High Street, you might want to grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea and Enjoy!



09 September 2013

Tomato Love

The following post is devoted to....Tomato Love.

Brought to you by a lucky lady who was able to stay home on a misty day and hang out with her plants and camera. How cool is that?

My half dozen tomato plants are growing on the edge of a raspberry patch that I tilled and covered with clear plastic for the summer. I just removed the cover. I think it did the trick, as I don't see any runners.

When I planted the berries, I didn't think about all the snow that would get piled on them over the course of the winter. Every spring they had broken canes and never did well. This will be my new spot for vegetables or maybe raised beds.


I started these Seeds of Change 100% Certified Organic Red Cherry Tomato seeds over the winter and planted them in early June. These are the BEST tomatoes I've ever grown.

Luckily, the deer don't like them, though the buggers will eat the blossoms.

They are a little larger than the cherry tomatoes I've seen at the market. They're firm and have a nice flavor.

Just six plants and we're overrun with tomatoes.

Can they be frozen. Has anyone tried it?

I'm pretty impressed with the yield as our last hard frost was June 30, and we had a frost a few nights ago that left film of ice on my upper windshield and the roof of my car. Nothing was covered the night before, so I immediately sprayed them down with the hose. I thought for sure my morning glories and the tomatoes were goners. Close call.

 I never knew tomatoes were so beautiful. Guess I'm too used to those sad little things in the plastic containers in the produce aisle.

There is something satisfying about growing things, don't you think?

Tomato red is my new favorite color.



04 September 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

How can I tell it's officially Fall?
Uh, because I'm finally starting to work on my list of summer chores?

I planted this herb garden in front of our Finnish aitta (granary) shortly after we moved here. It has been badly neglected for many years.

After weeding, tilling, raking, and leveling, it's time to get it ready for spring planting.

I don't have enough sandstone for the paths, so I'm putting down wood chips that I got for free from the utility guys who were working on the county roads this summer. It will at least keep some of the weeds at bay. My new neighbor brought me a load of composted cow manure. Sweet.

I'm digging up Black-Eyed-Susans and transplanting them in front of the big pine. I like the vibrant Fall color.

Planting a northern garden can be tricky. Around here nothing gets babied. It makes it or it doesn't.

Lavender grows well, though mine have never been pruned and are getting woody. It is one plant I'll always have in my garden. On a summer day there might be a hundred bees on the flowers. I'm leaving spots for new transplants.

Baby's breath also likes this dry and sunny space. It was huge and wild, but I had to cut it back in order to till.

Every year I marvel at how well the heather is doing. I remember ordering two plants from a catalog at least 15 years ago. The flowers are starting to turn brown, but they are lovely and delicate during the summer. They're planted right along where my husband throws snow. Every Spring I come out and rough them up because they're so matted on the ground. I always think of them as growing in Scotland or the U.K., but they also thrive in my garden in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Go figure.

I've never had much luck with hollyhocks, so this year I started them early from seed. They're hearty plants. Too bad the deer love them.

How do you like how I've fixed the missing window pane? Too bad I can't Photoshop all the repairs around here. Even on a gentleman's farm they are never ending.

Speaking of deer....this guy is freezer ready. He's also a major pest. We can't leave the garage door open or he walks right in.

I hope you're enjoying whatever season you're having!

~Diane and Bambi