Spring is Coming…Eventually…and a Correction

First, I must correct some information I gave out last week about the Hattie Davish mystery series by Anna Loan-Wilsey. You all read how much I enjoyed Anything But Civil, the second book in the series. The third book is actually called A Sense of Entitlement and it was released last June. The fourth book in the series is A Deceptive Homecoming.  I’m so sorry to have caused any confusion about this! I’m looking forward to reading the other three books in the series!

Here in New Jersey we’re expecting another snowstorm to blow in by Tuesday morning. No surprise there. What would surprise me is if we actually got some snow. It’s been way too cold, but really that’s nothing compared to the temperatures they’re experiencing in northern and central New York, where I know many of you, dear readers, live and wait anxiously for spring.

Spring–that’s where my thoughts are headed this week. It’s only a little over a month away, you know, at least by the calendar. Sometimes I think Mother Nature gets the memo a bit late, but we know it’ll be here eventually.

I thought I’d share with you some of the ideas I have for my yard and flower beds. I am always afraid of running afoul of the copyright laws, so I only post pictures on this blog that I take myself or that my family members take; therefore, I don’t have pictures of the things I want to plant this year, but I will provide links for you to look at them if you’d like.

As anyone who has ever been to my house will tell you, the front of my house needs some landscaping work, to say the least (it sports a look now that I like to call “haunted”). Currently there are two beds full of scraggly azaleas that do not thrive in full sun (they bloom for one day, get sunburned, and die), poison ivy, those wild onions (are they ramps? I have no idea), one wayward cedar tree that we swear we’re going to transplant one of these days (it’s about 8 feet tall now and we’ve been saying that since it was knee-high), two obnoxious holly bushes, and a euonymous that is completely out of control.

My dream is to have two raised beds full of things that like full sun and don’t require much fuss. Sure, poison ivy fits the bill, but that’s not really what I have in mind. I’m thinking seagrass, the kind that looks like Fraggle hair. Google “Fraggles” if you’re too young to remember what they are. But not just seagrass- I’d also like some flowers, and I almost always go with perennials because I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with annuals (well, that’s not completely true. I do hang four baskets filled with annuals on my porch, and I have a bunch of containers that I use for annuals on the patio out back…almost everything is dead by August). I might try Shasta daisies and Stella de Oro daylilies. I think I’d like some Russian Sage, too. See http://www.hgtvgardens.com/perennials/15-perennials-you-cant-kill and http://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/perennials/top-perennials-for-your-garden/#page=20 for some photos of the plants I’ve mentioned.

Under our trees, I plant almost exclusively hostas. They literally require no care. I do have a spot in the backyard that is perfect for a couple shade-loving plants. I hear that Lily-of-the-Valley is impossible to kill, but I have done it. Maybe I’ll try it again (planting it, not killing it). HGTV recommends the unfortunately-named Toadlily as a plant that will withstand shade, but I think I’ll plant something else with my Lilies-of-the-Valley.

Do you have any ideas for me? My criteria are as follows: easy, Zone 7. I’m looking for things mainly to plant in the sunny spots.

Until next week, stay warm!

Amy

Lemons Become Lemonade

Mother Nature threw New Jersey a curveball this week in the form of snow (six inches where I live, to be exact).  We don’t normally get that much snow here, and when we do, people quickly divide into two groups:  those who hate the snow and those who love it.

I’m proudly in the latter group.  Sometimes.  There is nothing more beautiful than snow falling and evergreens with their boughs bent gracefully under the weight of the white, fluffy stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, though: I want the snow to melt immediately once it gets gray and dirty, and I don’t want my ability to drive or walk anywhere to be affected.

And don’t even talk to me about ice.  The only way I like ice is in a beverage.

When snow comes to our neck of the woods, there are those who act as if the unthinkable has befallen us.  It’s winter in the mid-Atlantic, though, so what should we expect?  Snow is a distinct possibility.  And this week’s snow got me thinking about things that happen – things that we didn’t necessarily expect or want- and our reactions to them.  These things happen all the time, really.  They can range anywhere from winning the lottery to catching a cold to losing one’s job to a death in the family to being late for a dentist appointment.  Unexpected events run the gamut, in other words.  And not to get all preachy, but the way we react to these events can have a strong bearing on our outlook, our attitude, our health, and perhaps most importantly, our loved ones.

A very mundane unexpected thing happened here last Friday.  My kids had a snow day.  Earlier in the week, I had expected them to have school on Thursday and Friday, but nature decided otherwise.  I could have been angry that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I needed to do on Friday, but I’ve been down that road before and believe me, we were all the worse for it and the snow day stunk.  I took a different approach this time:  I told my kids that I needed some time to myself to work and that I would take them sledding later in the afternoon.  You know what?  It worked and everyone was happy.  Frostbite notwithstanding, my kids had a blast sledding.

Here’s another example:  last August we went on vacation to California.  I was waiting for a very important phone call while we were there and when it didn’t come and then it didn’t come the next day or the next day or the next day, I turned all Mommy-Dearest on everyone and very nearly ruined the vacation while I wallowed in my own misery.  I had a headache everyday and I’m sure I gave my family their fair share of headaches, too.  I hope I’ll remember that and respond better the next time something doesn’t happen when I want it to.

Here’s another example, and then I’ll be done.  I promise.  Two weeks ago I was working on my second book when I realized I had some problems that were becoming increasingly difficult to solve.  I was getting frustrated, but I am learning to step back a bit when that happens, and that’s what I did.  I eventually realized that I needed another character in the story…just like that, problem solved.  I could have insisted that no one bother me or that everyone go outdoors so I could think, but instead I’m the one who went for a walk outdoors.  Like I said, I’m learning.

So the next time life hands you lemons (or a snowstorm), do what your grandmother always told you to do.  Make lemonade.  Or go sledding.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S.  How are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions?