Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fly Fishing & Garden XI

Our local Orvis store held a "Fly Fishing 101" class on Saturday morning. Ryan and I have always talked about going fly fishing -- anyone who grew up watching "A River Runs Through It" has to want to give it a try! We stayed on land (the 201 class is in a farm pond), but left with all the basic how-tos like putting together a reel, tying the needed knots, casting and reeling in a fish.

The first part of the class was in a large field a few blocks from downtown. 

We even "caught" fake fish with Velco flys and wooden fish that had Velcro strips on them.

The guys from the Orvis store were so good. Our instructor, Mike, is demonstrating how to pick up your reel. He said you should pretend you've picked a cell phone up from the table and answer it. And then quickly put it back down. I've got plenty of experience doing that!

Hopefully we will be giving fly-fishing a real try in water when we go to Gatlinburg in a couple of weeks!

And moving onto the weekly yard and garden report...

The large bed in the front yard continues to be my main challenge. I planted moss rose (portulaca) near the new spiralis plant (not pictured but it is really getting curly!). I thought the moss rose was the same thing as the pink ice, but it's not! They do look good together though.

Also new are two 'starsisters' dahlia plants in the front bed. They were on the clearance rack at Lowe's for $1 so we'll have to see if they do anything.

Day lilies are blooming and looking pretty. 

The iris gladiolus around the mailbox have come up and this one is blooming. It looks like it matches the flag!

This picture is from the living room looking out. In the front window boxes I planted caladium bulbs and pale pink begonias. I added in some variegated vinca and regular ground cover from the yard to be the "spiller." All good window boxes and containers must have thrillers, fillers and spillers!

And the best news of all is that my little lime tree has turned a corner. I kept it in the laundry room all winter, and when we got back from going home the week after Christmas ALL the leaves had fallen off. I was distraught - that thing cost $20! As soon as the weather got warm, I stuck it back on the porch and about three weeks ago re-potted it in a larger pot. At this point it had about six leaves at the very top. My neighbor gave me some avocado and citrus fertilizer, and I put that on it about two weeks ago. This past week it has sprouted some blooms and many new leaves!

In the back, this hibiscus (in the large pot on the patio) was on the clearance rack at Lowe's for $3. Hopefully, it will bloom and between it and the banana trees our backyard should have a tropical vibe! We just need some Reggae music.

I pulled up some of the greenery in the back bed by the stairs and added mulch. I liked the smaller plants but they were covering up the border. One of the hydrangeas is covered in blooms and the smaller hydrangea doesn't have a single bloom on it. So weird! Hopefully, it's just running a little behind schedule. 

The hostas in the back are also blooming. 

And in the garden...

One of the squash plants has flowers!

The bugs are eating my strawberries before I can pick them and don't seem to be fazed by my organic bug spray. I think it's time to bring out the 7 Dust. Any advice on this is greatly appreciated!?!

The tomatoes are getting big and all have flowers -- just waiting for the first flower to turn into a tomato!

Watch my garden grow: III, IIIIVVVIVIIVIII, IX and X.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

10 Beach Reads for 2015

There are so many things I love about summer. The pool. The beach. The sun. Summer drinks by the pool or beach. Vacation. Lighting bugs and long summer evenings. Wearing the same t-shirt all day that you slept in the night before. Counting swimming in the pool as your daily bath because chlorine kills everything, right? And, of course, reading!

I keep a running list on the notes section on my phone of books that I hear friends or complete strangers talking about. The 10 books listed below are books that I've read recently, are currently reading OR are on my summer to-read list.

Me Before You

JoJo Moyes is supposedly the next "big thing" in fiction. Several book-reading friends have recommended this and I'm saving it for our family vacation in July.

Big Little Lies

I've written about this book before (here), but it is one of my all-time favorites. This is the Australasian cover with I think is even better than the American one. If you haven't read "The Husband's Secret," get it at the same time! I've just finished "What Alice Forgot" and LOVED it. 

The Goldfinch

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Price for fiction the book. In a review for The New York Times Book Review, Stephen King said it was a "a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."

The Sound of Glass

I heard Karen White speak at our local library last weekend and she said the inspiration for this book came from watching the show "Crime to Remember" on the Investigation ID channel. The first chapter of the book is a plane crash in 1955 and the farmer's wife who sees fire-balls. The book then jumps to 2014 and is told by three narratives. 

Born with Teeth  

Author Kate Mulgrew plays "Red" on Netflix's Orange is Black. She was also in Cheers. CBS's Sunday Morning interviewed her a couple of weeks ago, and I really, really liked her as a person.

A Spool of Blue Thread

This book by Anne Tyler was suggested on  The Skimm so it has to be good, right? Apparently, if you liked the show Brothers & Sisters (it was on ABC a few years ago and came on after Desperate Housewives), then this is the book for you! And me, because I loved the show.

A Perfect Proposal

Any and all British chic lit is right up my ally. I've read all Katie Fforde's books that my library has to offer. These are new to me as most came out in the 90s when I was still into Sweet Valley High and the Saddle Club books. No nail bitters here, but very enjoyable.

How to Be a Woman 

I saw this author interviewed last year and this book has been on my list ever since - the TODAY Show described this as the UK's version of Bossypants by Tina Fey. One of my all-time favorite books. 

All the Light We Cannot See

This year's Putlizer Prize winner - I've heard from multiple people that it's a great read. 

Good Dog Stay

You know I can't have a list of books and not include one about dogs or horses! 

Also, notice the new page 'Book Chat' at the top of the blog. I've been working on compiling all my various book reviews into a list for easy reference. Check it out!

What's on your summer reading list?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Ceremony

Greenville County and the Joint Veteran's Council held a Memorial Day Ceremony yesterday morning and it was the most patriotic I've ever felt! We sang the "The Star Spangled Banner," "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful"and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. We also read "In Flanders Fields" which was written about a battle that took place 100 years ago on May 25, 1915.

I've mentioned before about my two friends who are war widows of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you'd like to read more about Karie's story, click here. She's recently published part of her memoir about life with her husband Cleve. While I feel like I've always had respect for the military, learning about these girls and their experiences has really changed the way I look at our servicemen and women and their families. And how days like Memorial Day are about so much more than cookouts and swim parties. 

While all those things are wonderful, for so many families it is a day of great sadness. While I'm sure all the families represented at the service yesterday in Greenville, and across the country, were proud of their family members, they would probably give anything to not be remembering a loved one lost. 

A POW/MIA flag was placed front and center. One of the men placing the flag had been a POW of Korea. 

The Upstate Senior Concert Band along with a local church choir provided the most moving music. 

This lady was honored at the Gold Star Mother - her son was killed in Vietnam in 1969 and she's attended every Memorial Day service. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Garden X & Small World Connections

Happy Memorial Day! We celebrated yesterday afternoon with some friends at the beautiful Lake Greenwood. We lounged in the pool and then grilled ribs while watching all the boaters on the lake.

I'm so glad Ryan was done with work in time to go. He's working today, and I'm hoping for an early day again so we can go play tennis. We tied in our last set so I'm anxious to see if I can win this next one:)

The past week in the yard has involved clearing out the back bed and trimming up the bushes that have suddenly gotten huge! There are many advantages to inheriting an established yard. However, the upkeep is more demanding than it appears. Three things our yard has in abundance that I would never in a million years plant:

1. Monkey grass
2. English ivy
3. Any type of bamboo

These are all invasive plants and while they can be pretty fillers, they will attempt to take over your life! This week I've worked on getting all three under control with moderate success. All require digging up by the root which takes more patience than I typically have. With the bamboo, we've found that if you chop it down and then put a few handfuls of rock salt all around the base it will die. So far that seems to have worked.

I wish I had a before picture! But believe me, it was getting crazy crowed in there with at least two varities of bamboo. 

New in the front bed are a lavendar plant and a lantana. I've transplanted some thrift from the larger plant and used floral pins to pin down the runners on the veragated grown cover to grow in the direction I want. This bed still has a lot of red dirt, but it's getting better!

This perrenial lantana came from the Farmers Market. I wish I'd gotten two!

This is called pink ice and looks like a succlent. It grows in the front bed along the rocks that line the sidewalk. At night the flowers fold in and the open with the sunlight.

Along the front walk, the daylilies that are about to bloom and there are some other type of lily coming up as well.

In the garden everything continues to grow.

This is call blue opal basil. Between it and the watermelon on the other end of the box, several volunteer tomatoes have come up. So I guess those seeds I planted too early did do something!

The strawberries are getting so close to turning red!

The tomatoes all have flowers! I cannot wait for a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.

Lastly, I wanted to share the wonders of Tecnu. This is an old bottle and the label has changed, but this stuff works. I'm extremely allergic to poison ivy and Tecnu "kills" it before you're even aware that you have it! If I've worked clearing out beds like I did with the bamboo this week, I rub it from head to toe when I get done. Pick it up at a pharmacy or outdoor store. 

Of course, the one day I forgot to use it, I woke up the next morning with poison ivy all on my right arm! Ugh! I'll spare you the photo. The odd thing is that Net got poison ivy in her yard the exact same day on the same arm!
Today I'm hoping to finally work on my window boxes and have been looking at the pictures of the beautiful ones we saw in Charleston last summer.
In other happenings, the Greenville Junior League celebrated it's 85th anniversary with a party at the Drive game last Wednesday night. A few months ago Rebecca and I made this connection: Her sister-in-law was the assistant band director at Senatobia High School when I was there! It is such a small world. 

The 500 Club at the Drive stadium offers one of the prettiest views of downtown.

Happy Memorial Day!