We are extremely rich in dandelions in the new back yard and I never realized how much bees love them. I sat in a patch of dandelions one morning taking photos and the buzzing sound was amazing.
I heart bees.
Admittedly, we were kind of at a loss as to what we should do with the back yard. We’re in an HOA, so we don’t have a whole lot of choice with the front yard, but we have more wiggle room in the back (other than being restricted to 100 square feet of vegetable garden and no chickens – sad). At just over 1/3 acre, we have a lot more area to work with back there as well. There are two caveats, though… water is extremely expensive here and it’s very, very windy as we’re essentially out on the prairie. We have several aspen trees in the back yard and one cherry tree, but most of them are tiny and provide zero shade. So we took a ride down to Colorado Springs last weekend to see a xeriscape demonstration and get some ideas for what kinds of vegetation we can grow without paying a fortune on our water bill each month. Colorado finally (finally!) reversed the law that was implemented several years ago outlawing rain barrels (the only state in the lower 48 to have such a stupid law), so we’re definitely planning on using that as well as saving the water we collect while waiting for the shower water to heat up, but we’re still wary of using too much city water if we can help it.
The demonstration was surprisingly lush and they even had a “yard” specific to a prairie setting (windy, dry, and sandy soil). I think I was expecting a lot of cacti, rock gardens, and gravel pathways, which can be beautiful in the right setting but isn’t really what we were hoping for here. Instead, they had some excellent options for grass, flowers, flowering bushes, and flowering trees.
We came home and printed out a Google Earth view of our back yard and made plans, and I’m excited that we came up with things we can actually start implementing this year. I’ll have a very good-sized garden, several raised-bed flower gardens (we have no HOA limit for flower gardens), we’ll eventually have a pathway through our trees and shrubs, a smaller “lawn” area (though we’ll be using prairie-friendly grass that doesn’t use as much water as the midwestern carpet grass that I grew up with), and a sort of wild area where we’ll just let it grow and see what happens. We’re planning to call that our open space area. 🙂
I’m sure we’ll make changes, but this is what we have now and it feels good to have a plan.
It also feels good just to have a yard. The kids have been outside for at least a little while every.single.day since we moved in, and most days they’re out there for hours. It’s been awesome.
In the end of May I’m into….
This month, I finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was a great story. I liked the juxtaposition (art history word!) in the beginning of her recollections of growing up in Nigeria while having her hair braided. I also learned a lot about African culture (and hair!) and how race is looked at in other parts of the world. I did not, however, care for the main character, but this didn’t necessarily make it a bad book. It had a lot of depth and was very different than anything else I’ve ever read.
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. Fluff. Fluff. That’s really all. 🙂
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. This fulfills my “book published this year” box for the 2016 reading challenge. I almost didn’t get this one because the audiobook narrator is a woman I don’t normally care for, but she was actually perfect for this book. She read all the different characters so well. I loved Lucy’s apparent lack of bitterness. I think she just has sadness but doesn’t let it ruin her relationships with anyone, especially her parents. The love and tenderness she shows to both of them at the end of their lives despite how they had treated her (and couldn’t admit to) is a wonderful example. I also loved that she pursued her desire to become a writer and eventually was published. She never struck me as having a whole lot of self-confidence, yet she put herself out there in this way. This was a good book.
I’m currently reading Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín, Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, and Ourselves by Charlotte Mason. With B, I’m reading Among the Meadow People (free on Kindle!) by Clara Dillingham Pierson.
Last week was sweeps week and I didn’t realize it until this week, so there are no more shows to look forward to. Sad panda. We finished up The Goldbergs and The Middle, neither of which left much in the way of cliffhangers (which wasn’t unexpected), as well as The Last Man on Earth (definitely a cliffhanger, as usual and, also, I’M SO GLAD HE FINALLY SHAVED THE OTHER HALF OF HIS HEAD!), and, sad of all sads, Call the Midwife.
What should we watch this summer? We already put our Hulu account on hold for the next three months and are switching to Netflix. Any recommendations?
No movies this month. I’ll try to be better in June. Any suggestions floating around out there?
I’m now sharing my link finds in my weekend posts since I collect so many over the course of a month!
I actually got in some new recipes this month! We tried a few that we all really liked….apparently we are very fond of sausage. 🙂
Sausage, Peppers, and Onions. Elise Bauer, seriously, never lets me down. I don’t think I’ve made a single thing of hers that we didn’t like. This was incredibly fast, easy, and tasty.
Sausage and Potato Casserole. Another fast and easy recipe. Prep took me all of 5 minutes and then I just popped it in the oven for an hour. Simple!
The Mason Jar Podcast. Are you sick of hearing about Charlotte Mason yet? 🙂 (Don’t answer that.) When the kids go outside in the afternoon, I load this on my phone and listen while I’m folding clothes or washing dishes. They go over a few questions that they’ve been sent over the month, which has been very insightful for me. I hope I can eventually catch up to the most recent one as I do get a lot of interruptions while I’m listening so it’s going to take me a while.
Book of the Month Club. I got a trial account and my first book arrived this month. I’m very impressed at the selection of the monthly choices, the packaging (as silly as it sounds, that packaging design goes along way with me), and their branding. They also included a ring pop with the book to go along with the Pride and Prejudice theme of the book (Eligible). Very witty. 🙂 From today until May 31st, you can get 50% off a 3-month trial (which brings the price per hardcover book down to $7.50!) with code SUMMER50!
On the Blog.
An Instrument of Your Peace. “It’s hard to be a Christian anymore…actually, let me correct that. It’s embarrassing to be a Christian anymore. It’s sad to be a Christian anymore. To claim that title for myself. And not because I feel persecuted, which, as a white woman living in America, is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. But more because so many groups who loudly proclaim themselves as Christians, followers of Christ, “fellow believers,” are some of the most hate- and vitriol-filled people I’ve ever seen. They are the very opposite of love. They are toxic.”
Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping. Grain-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free!
Finding Friends with Charlotte Mason. “I’m so glad I ended up going. The women were all extremely warm and welcoming wonderful and I loved being able to talk about Charlotte Mason, be excited about her methods, and not seem so weird as I probably do to other people. It was also fun to be out after dark (imagine that!) and not have to do the bedtime routine for the first time in a VERY long time. I got home and the kids were asleep and no one had died and the house was still intact and it was all around a great success.”
Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves Quotes (Part 1). “I discovered that it’s infinitely better to be reading through these books with others rather than on my own. Not only are some of the concepts way over my head and the other members of the book study offer some clarity, but it’s also good to bounce aspects of the text off of each other as there were parts that stood out to others that didn’t necessarily stand out to me and vice versa. I think you can get to know how someone’s mind works by hearing what parts of a book that you’ve both read stand out to them. Here are the parts that caught my attention….”
To last month’s monster list of birds, we added American goldfinches, lesser goldfinches (which I was very excited about as they’re one of my favorites), a single house sparrow who was having a really hard time landing on our dinner bell feeder, and a yellow warbler. E has also had some kind of swallow dive-bombing him in the morning when he takes out the trash, but we haven’t been able to identify it yet. When we went for our hike last week, I heard dozens of chickadees, but we’ve only heard them once or twice in our neighborhood (aside from the single mountain chickadee who stopped by just after we moved in). We did buy peanuts to attract jays and chickadees also like peanuts as well, so I’m hoping they suddenly start coming by one of these days as they are my very favorite.
And there you have the state of the Reb. 🙂