A Goodbye Glance at Our Gardens

So, it came true. We sold our home last week. We are moving at the end of August.

Today, I took these pictures of our gardens, knowing that it’s our last growing season here.


Ty promises he’ll make me a great, big, beautiful garden at the new home – he’s got just the place for it – and I know he will. And I know I’ll love it. And I know I’ll look at the pictures of these gardens and remember, and maybe get a little teary. We have a lot of wonderful memories here.


Look at them. They’re arranged like arms giving a hug. Rex’s garden is to the left; Morris’s is behind it and in the left corner. Mine is the longer, middle one with the fairy garden for all of us to share. Jude’s is in the right corner, and Ty’s is in the front right.


I plan on taking some chives and mints and planting them in one of my planters to bring along to the new house. I hope they make it and thrive in our future gardens. I think they will.


And Now, a Cucumber Salad

And now it’s Jude’s turn, with his famous cucumbers! His two plants have produced at least 20, 12-plus inch cucumbers this summer.

He slices them thinly, and he is a careful critique. Here’s the rest:


1-2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you like your cucs)

One cup vinegar, white or apples cider are equally delish (may want more depending on how much you like vinegar)

Thinly sliced red or white onion (red add some nice color)

Salt and pepper

-Optional celery flakes

Marinate in the fridge for a few days to make it really good.

P.S. This is Grandpa’s favorite salad.


P.P.S. I’ve also enjoyed zucchini this summer! I made a zucchini and goat cheese pizza the other night that was so yummy. I’ve baked them in the oven with crouton crumbles. But my favorite way has been to cook them in a pan with a little olive oil, some onion ring batter mix, and when done, marinara and Parmesan cheese on top.


Tomato Distraction…and Salad

There is a distracting force in my home – and many homes with boys across America (Carson Daily even mentioned it on the Today show) – and it’s called Fortnite. It’s a survival video game (with no blood or gory killing, I’m compelled to mention) where characters fight and build forts and have goofy dances. I limit the boys to 30 minutes a day once their chores and reading are done, but still, it’s hard to pull a boy away when another brother is playing to help me make a salad.

It’s good for boys to help their mom in the kitchen though, so I called in Rex, who picked the basil from our garden, and stirred in the ingredients for one of my favorite summer salads:

Tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad. The tomatoes came from our garden and sister-in-law Mary’s garden. Oh, garden tomatoes!

Here’s what it includes:

A bowl full of cubed tomatoes

6-8 ripped basil leaves (I heard ripping makes them more fragrant than cutting)

Mozzarella (I use the handy little balls called pearls)

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette or salad dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

You can’t make a fresher tasting summer salad… Thanks, Rex!

Art in the Garden 2018

It’s one of our favorite nights of the summer! For the past three years, we’ve made it to Art in the Garden at the HyVee Enabling Garden, sponsored by the Iowa State Master Gardeners. There are stations set up around the garden for kids and parents to make garden-related crafts and goodies.

This year, my sister and her two daughters, Harper and Norah, came, along with all three of my boys. Last year there was a cousin’s birthday party, so only Morris and I made it. This year Rex and Jude wanted to come, too. Our good friends, the Hrastichs, met up with us a little later. It was a busy night at the garden!

One of the master gardeners makes wooden animals and folksy decorations for the kids to paint. It’s a generous gift of time and materials, and our wooden cats and a rabbit from three years ago decorated our gardens at home. This year, Rex and Morris got birds – Morris’s with extra-long legs and a beak, and Rex’s with wild bristles – a plume? – coming out of its head. Jude chose a craft with three bird houses and a bird. The boys painted away, enjoying the calming, lovely breeze. It was a gorgeous, cool night! (Last year, we melted!)

At the next station, the boys made flower crowns, which always makes me laugh. Kids walk around the gardens with giant zinnias, daisies, and long blades of irises coming out of their Burger King crowns. Majestic.

Next to the crowns, the boys made insects out of leaves, sticks, dried flowers, puff balls, and googly eyes. Morris made one of these last year, which still decorates my kitchen sink window sill. This year Jude made a cool stick bug with a cacoon hanging above, Morris made a little moth-looking critter, and Rex… well, Rex made a “dead bug” with parts laying randomly on the page.

One of the boys’ favorite stations is the flower cookie decorating station. Of course, the goal is not to decorate a cookie so it looks like the real thing, but to pile on as much frosting and sprinkles as possible. I don’t say a thing…

The last station we visited tonight had boys arranging beautiful, colorful dried flowers on clear plastic squares. When they were finished, they were framed, and they were lovely. Ty wants to place them in his office windows.

We didn’t make it to the flower weaving station this year, but it was busy, and boys were content with the wonderful creations they’d made. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful night, and we had the best time! Thanks again, Master Gardeners!