Happy New Year!!

While this year didn't see a lot of major changes, I can honestly say my favorite (and well, the only one really) was finally seeing the final stage of Lily's Garden. I'll admit that it'll never be "done" as a garden is always changing and growing, but the big stuff is done. The final beds were added, the grass was all killed, landscaping fabric was laid, and rocks were put down. It is a huge improvement over the boring grass that was there just a few years ago. And I love it! I look forward to the Spring when I can see my plants again and work on dividing some up and moving things to our back yard to add some character there.

Another fun thing happened in our front yard (right in front of Lily's Garden) and that was the creation of the Blueberry Bed. We (and by "we" I mean Doug) created the oval with heavy rocks, we filled it in, and added our two bushes. One doubled in size, the other not so much. But we picked a few berries off of it and Lily loves it. It won't compare to my parents' farm (they have probably 15 blueberry bushes, if not more), but it's nice. 

Other highlights of the year included Lily starting kindergarten (she loves it!) and Mr. Nate turning one. It's been a very busy year and I look forward to what 2015 has in store. 

{Life} Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

{Nate the Great} One Year Old!

Last week, this little guy turned one.

He's a handful in all the good ways. He's all boy, all energy, all the time.

He's in 18-24 month clothes, size 5 shoes, and size 3 diapers.

He's around 26 pounds. His yearly check up has been pushed back until Thanksgiving due to us being off since the beginning. But, he had a "sick child" visit last week due a bad diaper rash so we got him weighed. Not sure on the height but he's tall, at least to me.

He's had his third haircut recently. It's a very blonde strawberry blonde, so it'll be interesting to see where it goes. 

His eyes are still blue. I love my blue eyed babies! 

He's been walking for over a month now and is excellent at it, except when he tripped on the pumpkin vine at the Pumpkin Patch and bit into a pumpkin. 

He's ornery but I love him. He'll be the most stubborn kid I know,  I'm just positive.

He's definitely the best thing to our family since Miss Lily. He completes us and I can't wait to see what the next year (and more!) have in store for us.

{Family Fun} Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend we spent some time at our local Pumpkin Patch. I ended up getting some great photos (they're on Facebook for family to see) but after looking through some old photos, I thought I'd put together some highlights over the 6 years we've been going as a family.

2009 - a bright, beautiful day that ended up a little colder than I would have wanted, or that I had planned for. Lily was a good sport until the sunflower group photo.

2010 - a nice, warm day with a very mobile 1 1/2 year old Lily. 

2011 - our little fashionista with hair all over the place. I love the sunglasses and purse combo. The photo on the right continues to be one of my favorites, allowing a glimpse of what older Lily would look like. 

2012 - A fun, sassy Lily with an adorable dress made by her grandmother. 

2013 - our last outing as a family of three as Nate arrived a week or so later. 

2014 - a fun family of four (plus my parents and some friends) event that included some bumps and bruises to our almost 1 year old. Lily may be getting bored with some of it but handles it all like a champ, even though she's not a big animal person. 

See those giant pumpkins in the lower right hand side above? About a minute after that photo was taken, he tripped over a vine and face planted between two of the giant pumpkins, cutting into one with his teeth.

{Gardening} Raised Bed for Blueberries

Doug and I were always planning on adding more fruits and vegetables to our yard and this summer saw the addition of the raised bed for blueberries. After our sidewalks were ripped out and fixed last summer, we started looking at rocks and what we'd need for a raised bed. This is our front yard and it gets full sun and is a perfect spot for blueberries.

Over a few days time, due to not wanting to overload our SUVs with the 45 pound blocks (each), we brought home these beautiful stones from Menard's. They have a great combination of tan, gray, and red that tie into our house, sidewalks, and foundation stones that we have throughout the yard. As you can see in the photo below, this is right across the sidewalk from Lily's Garden (before the rocks were added). 

Doug bought two varieties of blueberries (they will hopefully ripen at two different times, much like my dad's bushes do). The front one, below, produced a handful of berries this summer. The little guy, that is hard to see in the back, didn't do anything yet but he's tiny and did, luckily, put some growth on. We only put two bushes in the raised bed because they will get large! 

The soil we used in a mixture of dirt, manure, and peat moss. On top is a thick layer of pine needles that act as a mulch. In Missouri, we typically don't mulch with pine needles (I've noticed some southern climates due pine needles for flowers) but they are great for blueberries. 

When I posted some of these photos on Facebook, my friends said they didn't have luck with blueberries. I'm hoping we do. My dad has over 10 bushes and has had a lot of good luck with them. I hope that due to his help getting the soil mixture right and by providing us the pine needles, they will grow well next year and continue to supply blueberries. Lily just loves to go out and pick them. We taught her years ago to pick the ripest berries and she's done a great job since. 

{Lily's Garden} Before and After

Isn't a Before and After always fun to see?! While we haven't worked on our house inside this year, I spent a lot of time outside. Luckily, the weather was great for gardening this year and I only lost a couple of plants (one being a questionable plant to begin with). I made the bed this Spring, edged it with bricks (once, then went back with more), and planted a bunch of new plants. 

The large purple bush in the middle is a miniature butterfly bush. I love the size it is now and hope it doesn't get much bigger. The bright pink flowers are vinca, which I will probably remove at some point but it was a great plant for the summer and grew well. There are two yellow double coneflowers (right next to the vinca and in between the butterfly bush and fence on the right), purple coneflower, white coneflower (or maybe a daisy, not sure), and a few different sedums. The low pink flowers in the front are ice plant and they bloomed all summer. There's a hens and chicks in the mix too but he may be moved elsewhere as the other sedums are trying to cover him. I put the pot in the back to fill in the back corner before the butterfly bush grew in. 

I love how it all looks now the brick edging is complete, the grass is gone, and the rocks are in. We also added a couple mirrored, small gazing globes that found a temporary home in the bed this summer (who knows where they will end up!). The bees and butterflies couldn't be happier with these flower too! 

For more garden photos, check out the tour of Lily's Garden or all of the posts here. I hope to have more before and after garden posts soon.

{Lily's Garden} The Rocks

As you saw in the Garden Tour post (and above), we now have rocks in the garden instead of the grass. It looks a million times better. Doug killed the grass and then covered everything with the black landscaping fabric. It took a lot of piecing together only because of the shape of the beds, but we have plenty left over for the back yard project this fall and next summer (more on that later!). He stapled it into the ground and then we ordered rocks from our local landscaping company. 

Below is a view from our deck in the back yard. You can see everything is covered and ready for rocks!  

Below shows that we didn't order enough rocks the first time! We ended up doing a 50/50 mix of small (pea size) and 1" creek gravel. It works well. I hope to eventually find some great stones for stepping stones but want them to be natural, not the square kind from a box store. Some day! I have three right now from when we bought the foundation stones. 

It took Doug some time in shoveling and moving the gravel around the garden. We did the first half one day and the second half another day as this seemed to happen on some of the hottest days this summer. 

If you notice, I went back after the rocks were down and added additional brick edging to all of the beds. I started adding one additional line of broken bricks to every bed and then still had some left over, so I went and did a third on the big, back bed. It allowed me to get all of our broken bricks out of the driveway. The extra full size bricks are now stepping stones but may be used elsewhere in the future. I was left with maybe 15 random bricks that had too much mortar left on them to use, so they will be put behind the dog house to keep a certain someone from digging to China. 

{Lily's Garden} Garden Tour

As our summer comes to a close (we're both teachers), we can successfully mark one big item off of our never-ending to do list... Lily's Garden is finished! Well, as finished as a garden can be, right?!? Enough chit chat, let's have the pictures do the talking! 

This is what happens when bird seed is allowed to go crazy (above). The sunflowers are bigger than my hands and the birds are loving it! There is a bird feeder in the mess, along with the now empty feeder I just moved. The birds are eating fresh seeds though, so I'm not worried about their feeders.

This is the back corner that is mostly shaded. It has four hydrangeas, as seen above, along with some hostas. There are two regular, mop head varieties, one climbing hydrangea, and one oak leaf. The red daylily is where the light typically ends as it goes above and beyond our house. The bird bath was my grandmothers and it needs a new bowl/bath piece as the original broke in half. 

Up close with the climbing hydrangea. Check out all of its feelers as it connects to anything. I've been slowly getting it to grow up the trellis that we put up a couple of years ago. I hope next year will be a big growth year for it, as it will be its third year and typically it takes three years for them to really grow.

Doug bought me the gazing globe from our local nursery. I had been eyeing it all summer and he got it for me as a reward for all of the hard work I've been doing this summer in the garden (mainly the bricks). It helps brighten up the lily bed as my poor little sedum seems to want to die and the lilies are done for the summer. 

These two are from the same plant (or they definitely appeared to be that way!) and I just loved the colors of the one opening up. The garden is full of bees and I don't use any pesticides, although that may be needed to kill the moles that have come back. I try to make it healthy for our bees and butterflies.

Above is from one of the newest beds, click here for what it looked like at the beginning of summer.

I'll be back later for some comparison photos and some detailed posts. I already have some plans for next year that luckily aren't too major. I'm planning on splitting some of the larger plants and putting some in the back yard. As for some of the beds, they'll be getting some extra plants next year to help keep some color going after the day lilies are done. But overall, I love how this year has seen so much growth in every area possible. New beds, reusing more of our recycled bricks, and finally getting rid of all of the grass with the rocks. I just love it, don't you!?

{Lily Lately} County Fair

Summer means one thing for a little girl... fair time!! She has a memory like you wouldn't believe, so she knows that there is a fair that we go to every year. They've kept some of the same rides the same for the past few years and this is her favorite. It's a fun little rollercoaster. She loved it the first year she rode (age 2), hated it at age 3, loved it again both last year and this year. 

Here she is last year with her friend, Daisy (who we didn't know at the time but now goes to the same preschool). 

Here's 2012 when she was NOT a fan! 

And the first year we went, back in 2011 with a two year old Lily...

{Lily's Garden} Fairy Garden

So I said earlier this summer that I was done adding beds to Lily's Garden. I was wrong. But... this one is different! And I had the room to do it so I figured I'd get it done before we put the gravel down (finally!). 

After having Lily, I decided to have a fairy garden but it just never really happened. I had many thoughts of where it should be, size, things to include, etc but it never came to and so it was always on the back burner. One of many things on our to do list, although it was never a huge priority. That all changed after I finished all the big beds in the flower garden and I was walking around the raised beds and noticed one little area. It's tucked away from the main view of the garden so I thought it would be the perfect spot. It's long and narrow, perfect for a little miniature fairy garden. 

As you can see, I added the bricks to edge it all in and to match the other beds. These are still the bricks we were given for free, so no money was spent there. The houses, larger rocks, and all the other stuff we already had (well, that you can see). The only thing I needed to buy were some plants. 

This rock used to live in my fish tank. I had a 70 gallon fish tank for years (it was huge!) but eventually sold it to a friend. I kept all of the stuff, thinking some day I'd use it again or like what actually happened, it all found its way to the outdoors. I put the marble in it but I think Lily took it out after we finished the garden. 

I had all of the supplies, but a few plants were needed. A local trip to our favorite nursery and a nice 50% off sale got us home with some great sedums and a few others. The sedums above were actually growing together but due to being in one container, they only cost me the price of one. I liked the look so I kept them together. I actually have the smaller type in various other parts of my yard and it spreads like crazy! But it's a great low lying plant and looks great with others. 

I bought a bleeding heart (I forgot the variety) so lets hope it'll survive here. I've had a few before that haven't survived. This one is doing great so far! 

A shot looking down of the "river" we made using things we previously owned. The little bridge and the fairy next to it were bought at our local nursery. Lily really wanted them both and I loved that they were metal. 

The "river" starts with a shell Doug found after he demolished our old concrete stairs (to make room for our deck). The "borders" of the river include larger rocks and shells. Both work to help hold back the fish tank gravel. 

You can see the bridge better in this angle but the fairy hides behind the bleeding heart. Under the bridge we put a small plastic container and filled it with the marbles. It'll actually hold water when I water the plants or it rains. I'd love for a little visitor like a toad or frog to come live here, but I haven't had much luck with them in the past. I guess we're too urban for that, even though the garden would provide lots of food and shelter. 

Lily loves the area and I'm glad I added it. We are trying to finish up the black tarp/ground cover and then we'll be working on getting some rock to fill in the whole garden. Once that's done, I'll show some new photos of everything. I hope to have a true garden tour up before the end of summer. 


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