Friday, May 6, 2016

Books and Blooms

My choice of reading this last month has been nonfiction for the most part. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to reading. I definitely go for a blend of fiction and nonfiction. I haven't read nearly as much as I would like since retiring. Honestly, my brain was a bit frazzled dealing with my mother before the move and then definitely since moving her here. I find it harder to read if I am stressed. 

I started last month trying to settle down to reading something a little more regularity. I have read since retirement, but it was a sit down and read a book obsessively or nothing at all for months.

Here is what I have read this past month...

I read Susan Branch's Martha's Vineyard - Isle of Dreams. This is the second of her life story, but the last written. I had previously read the first book of her life, The Fairy Tale Girl. I love the format and the photos; the journal approach to these books. The format is so me. In the The Fairy Tale Girl, I was captivated by her story, but thought she had lingered in a not so good relationship for so long. I struggled with that thinking she wasted so many good years, but in the Isle of Dreams, she begins to put life back together. I really enjoyed it. I now will read the book she wrote first that is really number three in her life story. Did you understand all that? That book is A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside. I think it is worth reading if you like a journal life story of someone. Susan Branch is famous for her adorable illustrated recipe books.

From Martha's Vineyard - Isle of Dreams

Next up were two books that match my quirky personality... I am one that loves to read how to books. I can truly know all the stuff in them, but I am fascinated by other people's stories of how they look at daily life and do things. Maybe that is why I love blogs. The first was Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott. I found this book while checking out a Youtube video I think I shared a couple of weeks ago. I loved it. I don't recommend going out to purchase it if you aren't that weird person like me, but it was an interesting read for "how-to" lovers like me. I liked it so much, I read the next one by her called At Home with Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life. Some takeaways from my how-to books were: enjoy the quiet mundaneness of life, enjoy and use the good things you have (don't put off using them), routines are important (I am still working on that), and rethinking how much I spent on clothes.

Yes, I have been on a roll reading this past month and thus far into May. I am currently reading Brian Kilmeade's Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates. I am really liking this book, but you have to be a history buff to enjoy his books. He takes lesser known stories in history and brings them to life. I had read his other book last year called George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution. Both start out slow, because the background information has to be built. Read only if you love history.

I do have two very large stacks of books to read with some good beach reads in there or at least I hope they are. 

Now, that I have completely bored anyone with my reading list and you have seen how nerdy I am...I will share the latest happenings in the yard flowers.

Two of my favorite things to grow at home are roses and geraniums. I am essentially obsessed with both, one of which is so hard to grow at my present home. I have read, studied, and yes, read many how to books. Roses are my favorite flower, but yet they drive me insane. At our previous house, I had 13 hybrid teas and 1 grandiflora and had cut roses in spring and fall. Not so in my present home which BTW is just around the corner from my previous house.

Now back to books.... Books and Blooms remember...

One of favorite children's books is Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary. In this book, Otis is searching for bugs and climbs a trellis of roses... here is excerpt...

Yes, roses have names and that makes them all the more wonderful to grow! I don't have a President Hoover, but I do have "Oklahoma, Chrysler Imperial, Peace, and Queen get the picture. Obsession!

Some of them have done well this year while others are struggling which is driving me insane. I was out there yesterday morning with my Epsom Salts.

I have added two in pots in the back. I had two really tall pots that I pulled up out of the ground in the front. Hubby liked them and said thought they looked artistic. Well, he didn't say that, but that is how his mind works. I just plain hated them and just dug it up one day while he was at work and redid that front flower bed. It suits me better and since I am the one who tends it all, I think I should like it.

Back to the roses... I am hoping that I can grow these two in pots. An experiment it will be. If I don't have some success by next fall with them, I may just give up and move on. Maybe one day I can grow roses at the farm. There is one up there that is amazing which leads me to the conclusion that I can try and add fertilizer, Epsom Salts, manure and anything else and they are just not growing in this yard. 

This puny sight led me to Epsom Salts. Buds, but puny. They actually looked a little perkier this morning. 

When I removed the pots from the ground in the front, I replaced that area with some carpet roses. So far, I am LOVING these. They have lots and lots of blooms daily and grow low to the ground. I added one more daylily to the mix. It hasn't bloomed yet, but it is looking healthier by the day. I kind of rescued it from a pot that it didn't like.
I found an ad for the carpet roses in a magazine and found the ones at Lowe's.

This is from last week. They are filling in that corner well and have lots of fresh buds each day.

I also had to repot my geraniums on the top back deck. They were just pure puny. I think they had just been in the same dirt for too long. They are popping back to life thankfully. I was beginning to think I had lost it.

A view of my lover deck with the geraniums that are doing well. In fact all of them are doing great except the ones right outside my kitchen window.

I am slightly concerned that the geraniums I have grown upstairs right outside my kitchen window are not getting the same amount of sun that they used to get. The pine tree next door is getting bigger each year and may be blocking them. I may have to change up what I grow in that spot.

And last but not least to this very long post, is my caladium bulbs are sticking their little heads up to in the side yard. I am so excited about them. That side is all green in the summer. All of the things in there bloom in the early spring and are just green by summer, so the caladiums will hopefully give a bit of color there over the hot months.

That my friends is what is happening around here except for running around with Mother to doctor appointments. She seems to be having some back issues which I really think are leg issues where she broke the hip area three years ago. She got a shot about a year and half ago and it helped tremendously and was told she might need another one again, but being the stubborn one that she is we haven't made an appointment there yet. She is going to wait until she can't move, and then we will do that. ARGHHH.

Here's to good books and plentiful blooms,


  1. Sandy, I need to get Isle of Dreams...I have Fairy Tale Girl and felt the same way about it. I wanted to say, ok, let's get on to Joe...he is a keeper. I have been so disappointed with my reading this year. I do not seem to like the books that everyone else thinks are wonderful. I will trudge on...I am going to look for the Madame Chic books. I LOVE all things french...maybe because my mother in law's family has French roots. Their family name is Morel. And your flowers...gorgeous!! I do think we would be twins if it were not for your gardening genes that I do not have at all. Hope you can find some relief for your mama...Happy Mother's Day to you!!

    1. I hope you find something soon. I always worry about recommending books to others because I have been burned that way. I think Isle of Dreams wasn't yo see hoe she overcame the ex and found herself. She was actually pretty brave with the move.

  2. As much as I love to read, I also have a stack of books waiting on me to find the time. Your selections look interesting, so keep at it!

    1. I guess sometimes you just have to escape and stop to enjoy things. Glad I am not the only one with a stack!

  3. Sandy, you've combined two of my favorite things in this post - books and plants. Perfect!

    Your roses look great. There's a terrible rose disease going around here in the Dallas area that is very contagious and killing many bushes. Even the Dallas Arboretum had to remove many bushes. So far we are lucky and ours are ok.

    1. Thanks Stacey, you always have pretty flowers too. Roses can very finicky for sure. Hope the disease stays away.


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