The Eco-friendly, Affordable, Beautiful Wedding (your ideas are welcome!)

Emily will not let her dad and the officiator (her dad’s friend) wear their kilts to the wedding.  The child is like 98% Celtic origin.  She wants what she wants.  She (like most of us) has been planning her wedding since childhood.  Pinterest is well used.  The wedding is going to be beautiful, all spring desert colors of blushes and mints.

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Weddings are costly numbers.  Venues are pricey, and photographers are even more than the venues!  There are ways that my family has kept costs down in the past.  My sister was married in a park at the base of the foothills with the fall colors blazing in the trees.  We then went to a rec center and had a potluck, our great-aunts busily working in the kitchen.  We love potlucks.  This wedding will feel like a destination wedding, however, because it is in the mountains west of Pueblo in a spectacular park in the woods, in the morning, so folks won’t be able to get up and cook and drive to the mountains.  There is no kitchen in the lodge where the reception will be.  So, we are looking at catering.  But…

What if we did huge batches of spaghetti and garlic bread and salad?  Could we get them up there and keep them hot?  How do you make enough to feed a hundred people?  Any ideas out there?  We are a creative lot in this blogging world, I am all ears!

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A bright, rust colored fox shot past us nearby as we got out of the car at the park.  Auspicious, I am sure.  The hawks and crows gather and the frogs sing from the river below.  There are deer tracks.  The lodge is made of stones that are a couple of feet thick, built a hundred years ago.  The wheels from the wagons that were used to transport granite from the quarry here to the state capitol have been turned into lantern chandeliers in the high vaulted wood ceiling.  A fireplace with its elaborate stone face stands prominently, taking up nearly an entire wall.  The heavy, wood doors open to the magical woods and picnic tables beckon.  There is an old bar and steps to a choir loft.  The worn wood floors are heavy and long to be danced upon.  Parks are an affordable option for any event.  They are scenic and lovely and support a good cause.

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I am realizing that weddings are quite easily not eco-friendly.  Emily wants succulents and roses.  They are fifty cents a piece, plastic and from overseas.  They are affordable.  The succulents are five dollars a piece at the store.  We have opted for real tablecloths and chair covers.  It is cheaper to buy them then to rent them.  I found that odd.  Emily says she can always resell them.  It is cheaper still to do plastic.  Then there are plates, silverware, glasses, containers for food…

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Succulents are on sale right now so I think I will purchase them and keep them alive until the wedding in July.  I just cannot bring myself to buy plastic plants!  Maybe we can get compostable dinnerware.  Ideas?  Thoughts?  How do you keep the cost of a wedding down while still making it an elegant and memorable affair without destroying the earth in the process?  We will be figuring out all this and more as we go.

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I would love to hear your ideas and I will report back through the planning process as we master the eco-friendly, affordable, beautiful wedding that I will certainly share with all of you readers out there.  Many of you have been with me since Emily was fifteen years old.  How wonderful to see her marry the love of her life!

 

Decorating With Notes of Spring

The air has a slightly different feel to it.  A different scent.  The cold is still there.  I bundle up as I go out to do chores.  But there is a tinge of something else upon the morning breath.  Life.  Spring.  By all indications, it is still the dead of winter, but I sense it.  I sense the pulse of the earth strengthening and the awakening of the plant world beneath it all.  Spring is coming.

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Pick up miniature roses from the grocery store.  Water once a week.  They will live until you can transplant them outdoors.  I had miniature roses grow three feet high in the garden before!

My home is still in the dead of winter.  Warm blankets caress chairs and the furnace is on.  The sun shines like a spotlight through the closed windows, still low in the sky.  My spirit falls more easily into stress and I long to be in the garden.  To be outside with a book without wind chill.  What to do?  The only thing I can do is to introduce notes of spring into the house.

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Plants always infuse spring and life into a place.  These are the babies from my very large aloe.  Last week I transplanted them into a new pot.  Its wide berth lets them spill out and catch the sun, giving a warm desert feel to this corner.  The cheap pots at Walmart are usually my go-to.  I love their cheery celadon, rouge, and artist blue colors, but sometimes it is nice to get a special pot that reminds you of something you love.  In this case, the land of the southwest where my heart and inspiration dance.

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It still gets dark out early so candles are still throughout the house.  These Catholic prayer candles sans saints are perfect and long lasting.  I used an old Coca-Cola crate to hold them.

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Found bird nests and unique pieces of wood and stone are set carefully around the house to bring nature in.

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My Farmhouse sign (bought at Cracker Barrel of all places!) doesn’t have a place on the wall right now because I have all my own bright paintings up but it seems cheery on the floor against the wall amongst the geraniums and other plants.

I seem to collect things with bicycles on them.  Bicycles with baskets.  I love the idea of them.  I love the freedom of them.  The perk of being in the city.  The promise of warm breezes and exercise and French bread in the basket picked up from the bakery or fresh flowers.  I have coffee cups with bicycles with baskets that say things like “Do More of What Makes You Happy.”  My daughter, Shyanne, gave me a small bicycle statue.  So Doug gave me a bike for my birthday last year.  With a basket.  I only rode it a few times before the tires were inundated with goat heads.  But a kind friend came over three different times to fix my tires, fill them with fix a flat, put on my basket and other accouterments (a bell included!) and I am ready to take off on the first nice day without Nordic winds.  The bike had a place on the porch but I brought it in.  It adds notes of spring and whimsy to my living room.

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Lastly, I picked up a snazzy pair of bright galoshes.  Oh, spring, I hope to see you soon!

 

How to Make a Nourishing, Infused Oil for Dry Skin

It is so dry around here that I do believe a stale cracker blowing across the desert in a windstorm has more moisture than my skin has right now.  Colorado is always dry-most of the state is high desert- but winter is the worst!  It is time to make a nourishing infused oil and calm that itching down.

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A small crock pot is perfect to keep in the bathroom plugged in.  After the concoction is infused in the crock pot, you merely have to turn it on warm as you get into the shower.  Or pour a bit into the bath.  Use on lips, hands, face; the whole body will just absorb it with fervor.

You can easily just use the oil as is.  In Ayurveda sesame oil is used.  Olive oil is a natural sunscreen and has a long shelf life.  But I am more of a sunflower girl, myself.  Rich in vitamin E and oleic acid, sunflower oil is nourishing and absorbs easily.  I am also an herbalist so I infuse some medicinal herbs into my oil.  It makes it all the better.

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In 32 ounces of sunflower oil poured into the crock pot, I added a small handful of roses, calendula, mullein leaves, and lemon verbena.  I let that infuse on low for a few hours.  The herbs are dried so they won’t mold and sunflower oil lasts easily two years.  Other herbs that might be nice are lavender, pine, or geranium.

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No need to strain.  I use my fingers to apply but you could use a small sponge.  This time of year the oil absorbs faster than you can apply it so be liberal and feel great.

Roses; Memory and the Gift of 17 Rose Bushes

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I adore roses.  Roses on their stalks and heady smell.  Taller than me when I was young.  I stood in Grandma’s and Great-Grandma’s respective yards (next door to each other) and had my first internal lesson of aromatherapy.  Nature teaching me early.

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I have grown roses in pots, roses in the gardens, and have a granddaughter named Maryjane Rose.  The tall, cut stalks in the store ready for Valentine’s Day are not my favorite flower to receive (I do love tulips), but in the garden and cut from an old varietal, roses are so powerfully beautiful.

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Medicinally, roses are a mild nervine.  That means they are a supporting actor in medicines for sleep, stress, and pain.  Particularly stress.  All one has to do is feel the effect of smelling a rose to note its healing properties for calming.  Spiritually, it is love medicine and we use it in our teas to help create more love for oneself. It is a lovely tonic to drink and a beautiful water or oil to apply to skin.  It is, of course, the flower of romance and beauty.

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Yesterday, I had a few moments to actually walk around our property.  There are many stumps along the fence line because Siberian Elm is insistent upon taking over the world.  (I will use it for medicine.)  Among the stumps I found new stalks.  New stalks of rose!  Many of the stumps are ROSES!  I wonder how old they are.  Perhaps planted by the mistress that first built this home. Some are feeding off of the elms.  Some are their own masses made up of smaller stumps, some two feet in diameter, and life shooting out of them here in this milder climate.  Seventeen rose bushes from what I could see.  They have been fiercely neglected, but they waited for me.

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I have five in pots that I brought with me that are ready to be added to the garden.  Perhaps one day my grandchildren will walk through my gardens and remember fondly the towering rose bushes and how they made them feel.

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A Simpler Idea Board

I love this concept from Country Living magazine.  Take a picture or photograph that strikes you, that you love, that inspires you, and build a room (or house) around it.  I have had this picture torn from the back of the same magazine on my fridge for most of last year.  It is so lovely in its simplicity, the apron, the chicks, the colors, the flowers, it feels like home.  The saying, “Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring” has certainly been inspirational.

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Taking elements from this photo, I will put together the living room.  I think light yellow paint, soft like the chicks we will get in spring, will be lovely.

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A new sofa cover

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Post cards that belonged to my friend, Kat’s, grandmother, Hilda. These gems are over 100 years old and the text whispers stories of times past. Like the one that reads about a friend’s new fangled wringer washer!

Next week I will begin painting and making the home feel like spring.

The Grandma House

 

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My grandparents lived in their house for forty years.  They have lived in their current one for twenty.  My in-laws lived in theirs for thirty.  I wonder what it would be like to settle into a place that is home.  Where every corner holds memories, each piece of furniture remembers laughter and family gatherings, where each knickknack had a reason, has a story.  Where the gardens grow in beautiful tandem each year, naturally knowing their place, the roses reaching up over the heads of grandchildren.  Where neighbors wave and remember the day (“Where did the time go?” we’ll laugh) when we….  Neighbors and children and life in a home without worrying about moving when the rent goes up.  My goodness, this is exciting.  We have owned homes before but none will ever be so received with as much gratitude as this one.

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We walked through the house (which looks remarkably from the outside like our Kiowa house) and felt the presence of family.  The house was tended to with such love for the past sixty plus years.  A grandmother certainly lived here.  The house sings of the perfect grandparents’ house.  Lines inside the hall closet note growth of children.  The kitchen waits for sizzling pans and glasses of wine with friends.  Or coffee at the kitchen table.  The wood stove boasts proudly in the living room.  Each room with original wood floors.  The roots cellar stands ready with rows and rows of shelving for canned goods.  A busy woman lived here.  The front yard has great grandma and grandma’s roses.  The ones that towered over me as a child and created large orbs of romantic flowers. They are by the front porch.  A chicken coop and large run waits for spring babies.  A big front yard, a big back yard waiting for little feet to run across it.  Maryjane tries out the tree.  The plot is on a corner and is an impressive quarter acre right in the quiet neighborhood.  One block from a lake and playground.

A million things could go wrong the fearful part of me proclaims (she is new since last year) but Doug and I look at each other and we know.  This is our house.  We put an offer on it last night.  Is this the house?

Farmgirl Gardening Series-Week 3 (Herbs and Roses)

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I see you!  Don’t you dare plant those tomatoes yet!  For every person in Colorado that plants their tomatoes near Mother’s Day we get a snowstorm.  Don’t jinx us all.

Now what can you plant this week?  Herbs.  Hardy ones.  Basil has to wait but most herbs are sturdy and anxious to grow making right now a fine time to stick them in the ground snuggled in straw.  The best collection of medicinal herbs that I know of is at Tagawa Gardens on Parker Road and Broncos Parkway.  That is our first stop.

The fine folks at Tagawa will not divulge what various herbs do medicinally.  Liability, they say. But armed with your herb books from the library you can make a fine wish list.  I picked up lobelia for asthma, valerian for sleep and pain, sage for hot flashes, thyme for lungs and cooking, lemon balm and mint for digestion, oregano for cooking and colds, catnip for a million things, angelica for hormones, dill for pickles, chamomile for heartburn, cilantro…yum, no explanation necessary, and roses.  I picked up chives and basil and lavender too.  And roses.  My goodness I love roses.

Back at the garden I decided where I wanted the herb garden.  I would like an arbor and small café table and chairs in front of it (as soon as I get the cash…).  The roses will frame the space.  Roses are medicinal as well.  The petals make delicious tea and are good for heartbreak and the nervous system.  I planted herb seeds as well, California poppies for nerve pain, calendula for skin conditions, and purple coneflower, better known as Echinacea, for everything from cancer to wounds.

Let’s make this easy.  Dig a hole, place rose or herb in, fill with organic garden soil, water, top with straw.  No need to till.

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I planted one tall herb, one short and spready, one tall, one short and spready, until I got to the other side where the climbing rose will magically cascade over the arbor (in one season?  Hey, why not?  A girl can dream.), my saved heirloom morning glories will be planted on the other side.

Such a surprising little corner this section will be amongst the rows of beautiful food crops.  I will have herbs to snip for making medicine and for cooking and a magnet for honey bees, butterflies, and birds.  They will pollinate the crops and bring joy to the garden.

I also planted a few bare root, just starting to leaf, roses in big pots on the porch.  The herbs that are too, too crazy, like nettles and catnip, are going in pots on the porch as well to keep them in check.

Don’t forget to water every single day unless it rains or snows.  The seeds we planted last week need to stay constantly hydrated in order to germinate.  Have fun planting this week, Friends, and we’ll see you in the garden!

Supporting Your Local Nursery (a field trip to Holly Acres)

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In winter,  you might find a child riding a zebra or a toddler on a horse.  Perhaps you’d like to sit with Santa or drink hot chocolate.  We choose our perfect Christmas tree and haul it home happily in the season.

In spring this same place is a gardener’s best friend.  Heirloom seeds abound, many plant starts, and a greenhouse of intoxicating brilliant blooms to take home.  I get my seed potatoes, garlic, onion sets, seeds, and most of my plants from my local nursery, Holly Acres.

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It is so important to shop local.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Our communities rely on the mom and pop shops thriving.  Holly Acres is owned by a family in our community, whose children grew up with ours, who shop local themselves, and who have an amazing oasis of nature and beauty just down the road.

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Last year when we needed a bird bath for our instant rose garden, I got it there.  Same with the roses.  And when I taught you how to plant trees, I got the trees there.  They have the best fruit trees as well as many, many other varieties of trees.  They have everything one could want at a really great price.  They are very competitive with big box faceless stores.

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If you need seeds, garden décor, compost, or healthy affordable trees, head to our local nursery, Holly Acres and say Farmgirl sent you!  (And if you don’t live here, seek out a local nursery by you!)

5403 Highway 86, Elizabeth, CO, 80107.  303-646-8868.  http://Hollyacresnursery.com

 

How to Transplant in July (plants and oneself)

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Can you transplant trees and plants in July?  With the right conditions, yes.  This summer is unusually autumn-like again!  Rain, cool mornings, it is an odd summer…again…or maybe it’s the new norm.  Anyhoo, since we aren’t in our usual hundred degree weather pattern, then transplants will generally take.  I moved the trees we planted a few months ago to my friend’s house.  Their roots were still shallow and I was easily able to dig around the base and lift the trees up.  I did the same with five rose bushes I had planted.  Today I will bring over all the herbs by scooping them out of the soil and quickly placing them in pots.

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The other key to successful transplanting is acting quickly.  Dig the tree up, place it in a trash can with a little soil and get in the truck!  Get to your destination, dig a hole, replant before the tree (rose, herb, vegetable…) is any wiser.  Give a drink, some dappled sun, and there you have it, $500 worth of plants moved to their new home.

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I wish I could capture a picture with my old cracked IPOD of all the hummingbirds swarming around me on this cool morning.  I am sitting on my friend’s balcony looking out across the misty forest, and breathing in the sweet pine and hay scented air.  We spent the night last night.  It felt vacation-like and freeing.  The girls are in their new apartment.  We will get bring our kitties over today and finish all of our moving.  It will take another few weeks to finish being completely out of the house.  It is amazing how long it takes to unfeather a nest.

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To be continued….

How to Create a Rose Garden in Less than 30 Minutes

A beautiful rose garden in less than thirty minutes?  What about digging a bed?  Amending the soil?  What if the area is just straight prairie and nothing grows but yucca?  You can indeed start a rose garden anywhere.

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Here are the requirements:

Despite the common advice that roses love full sun, here in Colorado (and I bet in other places too) roses like a little reprieve from the harsh rays of summer.  Roses love east and west exposures.  Never north, not enough sun.  I just planted our new rose garden on the south side but the shed to its west will block some sun at the height of summer.

You need a water source.  Roses enjoy water.  Can’t stick them in the prairie and hope they can fend for themselves.  I give the roses two inches of water every other day.  If it rains, I skip the watering.  The  straw surrounding the rose allows six inches of space so not to suffocate the plant.  This creates a perfect hole to water into.  I just fill that hole and it filters into the ground.

I do not fertilize my roses with chemicals, not even “organic” ones.  My organic fertilizer consists of a good pile of chicken bedding on top of the rose bush in autumn to shield it from winter.  Every time it rains or snows the fertilizer seeps into the ground.  In mid-summer a mulch of goat bedding around the base helps contribute nitrogen to the roots every time it rains or gets watered.  If you don’t have farm animals, a bag of compost can be used.  Mushroom compost can be poured three inches from the base circling the plant.  Then topped with mulch.  This keeps the soil moist, the nutrients slowly seeping in, and we don’t accidentally burn the plant.

The only pruning I do on roses is to remove dead branches.

All roses available for purchase at the big box stores or local nurseries will grow here.  This time of year buy bare root, they are still sleeping.  During the growing season any rose bush can be planted, even the miniature ones in the grocery store in pots meant as gifts.

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Now, let’s get started.  You can use the porch as your boundary or if you are putting it in the middle of the yard like I did, you will want to contain your garden.  I gathered the thick pieces of wood that I found last summer.  One could use bricks, 2×4’s, or old gnarly branches to create any kind of artistic image you see fit.  Gardening is art.

Don’t hurt your back now by digging up the whole garden!  If you aren’t growing anything there why would you spend the energy and resources to amend the whole thing while exposing the place to sun so that the weeds have a lovely place of amended soil to grow in?  Just stick to the planting at hand.  Do remove any large weeds though.

Dig a hole about a foot across and down. Fill half way with water. Let it drain.  Place rose in hole.  Fill hole half way with organic garden soil. Fill the hole the rest of the way with the soil that was removed surrounding the neck to keep the new plant sturdy.

Anywhere you didn’t plant place thick layers of newspaper down and cover with four inches of straw.

Give the rose another drink.

Step back and take in your work!

To add things to this garden, simply remove a chunk of straw, add garden soil, plant.  Cover anywhere that is not a plant or seed.

A birdbath, comfy chair, and good book finish the space.