Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Garden...

I put a capitol "G" in the title to make it sound way more impressive than it really is! Thought I would take some photos of my landscaping/gardening. Not necessarily as an inspiration to others as much as a reminder as to what it looks like this year compared to next . I'll try to tell you what each are, just common names, I truly cannot remember any latin names. Of course, I'll have to throw in some random Delaney photos too.. she's too cute to not take pictures of!
The pictures really don't do it justice, I'm in need of a new camera for sure!
Catmint in full bloom... love, love, love this perennial! Hostas (sum and substance) in the background with new potted specimens!
Papyrus, bacopa, scented geranium, a mini daisy, ice crystal plant, silver dollars and gold lantana. Very happy with the pot this year... the papyrus is my new favorite annual.

Globemaster Alium.

My ginormous (it's a word, I'm sure) Sum and Substance Hosta. I planted three by the deck on the side of the house and the largest (pictured) is over 3 feet tall! It has completely enveloped this 3 foot tall solar light. The other two aren't quite as tall, but still just as full. I love it, but afraid this big boy will have to be divided this fall.
Stella D'Oro day lily, maroon columbine, bearded irises (that have obviously been messing around with the neighbors irises since I planted violet and now have yellow and lavender!), white impatiens (which I only plant white annuals, to connect all the beds together, they glow in the dark, fill in blank areas and give the chaos of all the colors in the garden some soothing consistency)
My new birdhouse from my mil for mother's day this year - we have a beautiful little wren living in it with her small family. Japanese silver grass (another favorite in my garden), buttercups, shasta daisy, maiden hair miscanthus, candy lily and black-eyed susans.

Candy cane dianthus, candy tuft (new this year), yellow yarrow, buttercups

Our new arbor that my dad made us for Christmas... I added lights, but it's in need of a redo, not happy with the way it looks in the day, at night... whole different story, it really defines the front garden from the back. My dad also engraved "Laney Bug" on the right side and "Greg and Kara" on the other.

Larger view of arbor. Buttercups, dianthus, Maiden hair miscanthus and white impatiens

Martha Washington Clematis. The "trellis" is old metal side rails to Greg's futon that he had before we were married. I put a rail on each side of the garage window. So far, so good. This is my first attempt at growing clematis. The key: keep their feet cool and their heads hot. Translates in to: a pot, large rock, small bale of straw covering the roots and in full sun.

I bought two cute little wooden chairs at a roadside junk sale on my way home from lessons a couple of weeks ago. They cost me $1 for both! So, they are now some "hardscaping" for the garden. This one is perched atop a hosta that has not been cooperating for a couple of years. It should look like the rest of them surrounding the chair, but has either succombed to being a snack for my garden visitors or has decided that it doesn't particularly care for it's neighbors. It has until next year to become a contributing force to this area, or it will be moved!

Another view, just trying to be "artsy"...

The other cute, el cheapo chair from the junk sale. Lime green w/violet spiderwort and dark green w/white spiderwort.

Buttercups... they are usually wide open, but it was sort of a gloomy day, so they weren't fully open, but just as pretty and interesting... oh, and they spread like wild fire, so beware if planting!

The cutie pie random Delaney photos I promised... strolling through the gardens...

Our buttercup smelling the buttercups!
Most of the rocks as borders and accents are compliments of the Talmage farm! That was many trips with small trucks and our little Suzuki to get that many rocks home. I am in need of another 2 or so loads, which means back to the rock piles.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Boating...Horses... what could be better?

We love, love, love the summer... we have been enjoying our boat immensely this year. It truly helps to have a baby that can stay up later than 7:00pm. The best boat rides are around 8:00pm. The water calms down, the sun is setting, no bugs yet and it's really quiet. Evenings like those remind me of why we live in a cottage on a lake instead of a big house in the city. We bought little Delaney a new life vest this year. It is only slighter bigger, but fits her much better - which translates in to: No straight jacket effect and neck brace around her chubby cheeks. We also take the dogs with us on all our trips - Shiloh is even excited about it now instead of being nervous that we are going to throw him in the lake! Our home from the lake...not our golf cart though....oh, how Greg covets the golf cart...someday honey, someday...
Super cute bikini girl checking out the view from the front of the pontoon... new life jacket is working out much better. No more screaming during our boat rides, maybe that's why our boating is quieter now? Hmmmm..... Moving on to the horses... this one is of McCue and Macie jumping at one of her 4H workouts this week. Other than his legs being off a bit, thought the picture turned out perfect!
Leroy and Emily taking their turn around the course... Her form is pretty good considering she is only 9!Me with 3 of my girls and 2 of the horses at our first show of the year
I have also been doing quite a bit of work in my landscaping/garden. I will try to get photos of some of my newest handy work. Looking pretty good, and dare I say... running out of room?! Well, at least in the main yard around the house. I have now get some wild hair up my $%# that I need to start working on our desperate lake lots. Now that we spend more time on the lake, it really bugs me that there is no landscaping or flowers on the walk down. I'm through with people asking us if that is our property too... so, once I'm done with it, they won't even notice the lane running through the front yard! Our fabulous neighbors have offered to let me divide their 40 year old hostas and lily of the valley. That should help tremendously with the expense of the project and the time if I don't have to travel to buy "just one more" plant. My project on the lot next to the lake is to dig up a 5'x11' area in front of the dock and lay pea gravel and pavers down. Then, line the path with Russian Sage on each side. Eventually, I would like most of the lake lot to be pavers so we have an area to set chairs, table, umbrellas, etc without the mud that is involved with wet dogs and kids. But, I have been advised by my darling husband that we are only about a day away from finishing up (I use that term very loosely) the bedroom project, so he would like if I could finish that before moving on to more projects. I just hate being in the house this time of year, so guess I better get my fanny moving and finish up that wreck of a bedroom!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Website...shameless plug...

Enjoy! Thank you for visiting...
I'll update more later...

Monday, May 4, 2009

I got my new business cards and a t-shirt this weekend! So happy about the cards...they are perfect!!! Cannot believe how well they turned out and the quality is amazing (especially for the price!). The t-shirt is ok, but nothing I will order again. The choices were very limited and they don't have youth sizes (and since 90% of the shirt wearers will be "youth", that is a problem). Plus, I am looking to get some bright colors for the shirts so you can see them from across a busy show grounds. Here's a sample of what the cards look like...pimpin'....!

The color shown is pretty close to the actual color of the cards. I think it will be easy to see hanging on a bulletin board or for someone to find it in their wallets.

We had a great weekend...busy, but great. Delaney spent the whole day with Nana and Papa on Friday, then Greg and I had dinner with them later. Greg spent the weekend at Roy and Pam's new house in Mattawan on Eagle Lake. Sounds like the house is beautiful. Hopefully, Pam will get moved in soon and we can all go up and visit. Saturday, Delaney and I went to Talmage's to do chores (Aaron ran in the Indy marathon). Then, Robbie and Brianne came out to sit with Delaney while I did horse lessons.

Lessons went well...they were with a new family that bought a registered black Tennessee Walker mare about a month ago. She has hurt the woman about 6 times in this short amount of time and has thoroughly scared the heck out of these, they call me. This was our second lesson together and already I have seen some amazing improvements with the horses ground manners and attitude towards people. Not sure she has ever had any proper instruction or has learned that people can be trusted (but also respected). She is coming along nicely and I am planning on riding her this week - may need some prayers for that...I'm not getting any younger!

Mom came out Saturday night and we had a bonfire. Let me rephrase that, we attempted a bonfire. The wood was all fairly damp, so about 1 1/2 hours later, we had a pretty good fire going, but then Delaney had to get to bed, so she didn't get to enjoy it much. Mom and I made pudgy pies with peach pie filling - yummy!!!

Yesterday was Dawn and Kevin's surprise baby shower at Joey's shop (Sturgis Auto Bath). It went very well - was great to see everyone. Delaney loved visiting and chasing Jami around the shop afterwards. By chasing, I mean walking really fast while wiggling her butt more and swinging her arms. I really do need to get that on video and get it posted!

Another busy today, donating blood this afternoon, lessons tonight, work tomorrow, doctor appointment (another biopsy!), lessons, showing Sophia to some people Wed. morning, another doctor appointment, then lessons again Thursday, etc, etc, etc.... careful what you pray for, you just might get it! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lots of photo opportunities!

So, we spent Wednesday through Friday at Pokagon State Park for Greg's vacation. The weather was beautiful! Perfect camping weather (in my opinion). It wasn't too hot, too cold, no bugs and no other campers!!! We were one of 3 families (retired couples) that were out there. So, we pretty much had the whole park to ourselves. We had a wonderful time! Delaney did end up feeling under the weather and we ended up in the ER on Thursday night, but on the positive side, we got lots of camping in and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Plans are already in the works for future trips. We would like to get a pop-up for ourselves, since we borrowed Greg's Grandma's camper this time. Hopefully, next year we can look in to getting ourselves something small that we can pull with the Suzuki. The dogs had a great time too. We really are looking forward to the camping thing with them as well. Such a great time to be able to bring out whole family (minus Eddie and the sucker fish) with us camping and not have to worry about spending tons of money or where to take the dogs.

Delaney loved the playground equipment. She was particularly fond of the twirly slide.

She loved taking Garrett for walks. He is such a good boy. Anytime she would get too far behind him, he would stop and wait (not so patiently) for her to catch up.

Greg was the master of the fire for the few days. Unfortunately, it had rained for 3 days prior to camping, so the wood was just damp enough that we had to use a whole container of starting fluid to get it going. But, it worked and we had a charcoal grill to cook no biggie.

How awesome is this RV??? Perfect size for the 5 of us (including the dogs). Delaney got the "master bedroom" in the back to herself and Greg and I slept in the loft above the drivers seat.

Delaney pushing Minnie Jo in her new stroller from Grandma and Grandpa Shepherd for Easter.

Daddy's girl for sure... she spends lots of time snuggling with Daddy in the chair or on the couch. Our night time routine is to get jammies on then she sits with Daddy in the chair to "relax" before she goes to bed. Delaney and I were reading her Easter cards from last weekend. She loves cards! Every morning she goes through her Easter cards and looks at the pictures. A child that actually likes the cards and not just the presents! Brilliant...

The below picture is of Macie and McCue and their first jumping lesson of the year. The did great! So proud of both of them.
This picture is of the same day of lessons. Emily was there to watch Macie and McCue and she decided to take Delaney for a little walk through the barn. Emily is wearing her sling in this one from her recent injuries with her horse. She is mending great and should be riding again sooner than they had originally expected (not that I am surprised!).

Overall, we had a great vacation week. We accomplished quite a bit outside on Saturday and got most of my cool season veggies planted. We'll see if anything decides to cooperate so we can have some cheap veggies to eat soon! We did get the Japanese Silver Grass divided as well. What a project!!! I have invested lots of cash over the years to all these great perennials and have yet to divide any of them to take full advantage of why I bought them to begin with. That particular grass is the pride and joy of my whole garden. I love...let me repeat... I love this grass. It has been a perfect specimen since day one. It is tall without being obnoxious, it has great sound when the breeze blows through it, it is gorgeous in the fall/winter, it isn't invasive, but still grows and is perfectly round. So, why wouldn't I want to propogate it and get more of it. I'm terrified of killing it. I love gardening, but do have a terrible fear of killing my precious plants that I have painstakingly doted over for years. But, my justification is this... if I don't divide this grass, it will eventually die. The center has already started to die out and eventually without division it will kill the whole plant. And...if I do happen to kill it by dividing it, I can easily buy another one and start all over. Instead of halving it, I ended up quartering it. I didn't realize how HUGE this thing was until Greg and I started digging it up. I broke my awesome composting pitchfork trying to get it out of the ground. But, it's out and is in 3 other locations of the yard. So far, so good... I am on pins and needles waiting for all 4 plants to get new growth on them, so I can deem it a success and take on other perennials in our yard. I'll take some photos of them once they start to grow so I can show off my mad gardening skills!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

20 Months?!

How can this be possible?? 20 months old?! Just seems so old to me. No longer a baby for sure, definitely a toddler. Complete with opinions, temper tantrums and whining. But, what else comes with being a toddler? Glorious things... kisses (for us, dogs, cat, baby and even the fish), hugs, talking, "running" (which actually just involves wiggling your butt faster and swinging your arms), laughing, animal noises (the newest and greatest party trick), independence, "snoring" on the couch with daddy, cooking food in your kitchen and having us taste it, dancing, stealing anything within your reach on the table, playing in the bath tub, and a multitude of other delicious things Delaney does that Greg and I adore.
Even the temper tantrums I find entertaining. They are obvious reminders that she is an intelligent independent thinking little person now instead of just a sweet baby that sits quietly and plays with toys. There are days I long for that again, but there are definite advantages to her getting older.
The diaper bag doesn't have to weigh 37 lbs anymore (more like 32 lbs now!), we can take 1 or 2 diapers instead of a whole pack for a 2 hour outing, snacks aren't quite as messy anymore or require silverware, sippy cups can go empty and we can buy milk wherever we are going, and she can carry her own toys out to the car.
We had a wonderful Easter and a great visit with our friend's little boy from Seattle. If I can remember to bring my camera, I will get photos of both uploaded. I am also working on getting pictures of my scrapbooking on here as well.
I acquired a new lesson person last night. So, that puts my current count at 9! My goal was 10 for the summer. I haven't even advertised yet! My awesome friend, Livvy, designed a logo for my business to put on cards, shirts and flyers. As soon as I get some things made up, I'll post for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jumping Lessons Day: 1

Yesterday was day one of my newest endeavor... jumping. Personal trainers have nothing on a riding instructor. Truly, I haven't felt this sore for years. We worked on 2 point position the entire lesson. my thighs and calves felt like jello after about the first 20 minutes and I rode for about 75 minutes total. It felt great, but was a horrible realization of how terribly out of riding shape I am. I have been kicking up the riding the last few weeks, but not this kind of riding. I had to shorten up my stirrups by 4 notches on the left and 5 on the right. Guess Delaney isn't the only one with one leg shorter than the other.

McCue has jumped in the past, but I was not the one to teach him or do any formal lessons with him. Macie is planning on taking McCue to fair this year for hunter under saddle and jumping. This is my very first time of doing jumping lessons. I have taken him and other horses over cavalettis, but never actual jumps.

Joy is my dressage/jumping trainer. She is truly one of the most experienced horse people I have ever been around. Her talents are many and her horse knowledge is priceless, but you would never know it by talking to her. She is a great example of what "horse people" should be. Humble, patient, positive, encouraging, without ever talking down to her students. She brings the language down to the level of the students.

We started our lesson with going over some single cavaletti focusing on correct 2 point position, speed control and not falling off! I have been posting too high and need to focus on posting lower and letting McCue determine how high I should be posting. I do feel like that was going better by the end of the lesson. My other problem is turning off the "horse trainer" in me. More than once, Joy had to remind me to leave McCue alone and just ride. She said my only job (at least to begin with) is to just be "neutral". I need to be in a position that I don't hinder him from doing his job and figuring out the puzzles that we are jumping. He and I are truly learning this together. What a blessing to have Joy to help us learn these very important foundations. So many riders I know never learn to do these things correctly or safely. Joy makes our lesson so easy, that we cannot do anything but the right movements. She makes a set of grids that leads us through the jumps without having to question anything but just sitting there and going through.

McCue is learning to pick up his feet, strengthen his topline, be more flexible and be bold enough to go through these series of jumps/puzzles. I can see where these lessons will be incredible for his confidence. He has come a long way from the unconfident nervous horse he use to be. He questioned some of the bigger cross rails we went over and tried ducking out at the last minute, but Joy quickly nipped that in the bud and put a cavaletti down so it would be a mild barrier from ducking out. Could have possibly been a disaster if I was by myself and didn't know how to correct that.

So, my assessment of the lesson was very positive and tons of fun! I can see why riders get addicted to jumping. I have been doing so many controlled disciplines, that it feels good to do something really fun for both of us. HUS and dressage are great for his and my foundations to be ready for jumping, but wow, what a rush when we went over the first substantial cross rail that made him tuck up and actually launch himself over. And, because of Joy helping me with my 2 point position, I felt very confident going over.

I always knew McCue and I had big things ahead of us together, but never thought we would be doing jumping. Him, at 12 years old, out of shape, slightly a chicken about new experiences, and an open show phenom....and me, a 32-yr-old wife and mommy who hasn't rode much in the last few years and has been very comfortable with having my "horse experiences" from a teaching view. The last 9 years has been an incredible journey together, this is sure to only make it better...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Before, After...and the chaos involved...

Decided to surprise Greg this weekend while he was away and re-painted the kitchen, dining and living room. Now, I was babysitting my mom's dog, Rose also. So...that means, 1 toddler, 2 shelties, a wiener dog and an overweight, slow moving cat in 1 tiny house with no place to keep "extra" items while painting. The following pictures will depict how the toddler portion of it went. Shiloh, the wiener is another casualty of the painting marathon, but no photos of that issue. After the naughty baby picture is the before and afters...
You can tell by the look on her face that she knew she was in trouble :)



I am absolutely in love with this new paint scheme. The blue is called "Aqua Bay" and the cupboards and walls are "Primitive White". Kind of hard to tell from the photos, but the cabinets almost have a yellow-ish tint now that they are next to the blue backsplash, but I love the way it turned out. I was never happy (as anyone who knows me) with the old way it was painted. I disliked it from the day I finished it almost 5 years ago. So, this new paint was a long time coming. I have been tucking away a little training money for the last few months so I could pay cash for all my painting supplies. Mainly, so I didn't put any more strain on our bill paying money and but I also really wanted to surprise Greg. Since he's a "bank Nazi" I knew he would know if I spent even one dime on anything that wasn't pre-approved!
Amazing what a little paint can do for a room! I had accessories laying around in other rooms that go well with the new theme. I am going to find some cool fabric to make some art and new pillows for the couch. The little vases in the above photo are from Menards and hello... $0.89 each!!! Seriously.
All together I spent around $54 on the whole project and about 22 hours of labor. It was truly a painting marathon. I stopped long enough on Saturday to go feed horses and throw some food at the kid. I do need to go buy one more gallon of the Primitive White for the other two walls in the living room and I really want to paint the wooden "beam" that divides the dining from living room. I painted the beam in the bathroom white last year before Delaney's birthday and I really liked how that turned out too.
Big heart hugs to everyone...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Delaney spent most of the afternoon (after her nap, of course) playing in her sandbox and in her car (in the background). Beautiful day yesterday. Fairly warm, nice breeze and lots of sunshine! While Delaney was playing, I divided and conquered my irises that had gone awry in one of the smaller flower beds.
She understands the concept of sand in the bucket...but, that doesn't mean she actually does it. As you can see from the sand that has "escaped" from the sandbox.
Bustin' some moves on the dance floor. She gets her moves from me, not Greg. Although, I might have caught her trying out a moonwalk?
We went to Maple Syrup Days in Lagrange on Saturday morning. Absolutely would not believe the amount of people there. Crazy...
We did pancakes with fresh maple syrup, sausage and milk for breakfast. My first time of having REAL maple syrup. I was impressed enough to spend $8 on a pint of fresh syrup. Did you know it takes 30-40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup?? Maybe you did, but if you didn't, there ya go. Some useless knowledge for the day. We did a tour (and a story) in the sugar house where they make the syrup, then a horse drawn wagon ride through the woods was our last event. Delaney and I probably enjoyed that more than my brothers or parents did, but it was great. It was a chilly morning, but beautiful. Next year, we need to make sure Greg goes with us.
Delaney and my dad (Papa) on the wagon ride. Dad is looking a bit like the Uni-Bomber in this one. What's with the sunglasses Dad? No sun.... My dad is the sunglass King! He ALWAYS has sunglasses on. Even in our wedding photos...but, we'll let that slide since it WAS Jamaica.
Tammy (Nana) and Delaney at breakfast.
My youngest brothers, Alec & Evan, with Delaney. We were waiting in line to eat breakfast here.
The baby her face in this one. Contemplating something I guess....
One of my oldest (not her age, the time we have known eachother) and dearest friends from school, Livvy. We met her and her husband, Dale, for dinner on Friday night. Had such a great time. Reminded me of what great times we use to have together. We had not been out to dinner with friends in such a long time, I almost forgot how to socialize (well, sort of) ;)....