Grover Road Garden Tour (Part 1)

Now that school is finally finished for the year, we are enjoying our time outdoors.  We spend most of our time down at my parents’ beach, but every now and then I can convince the kids to leave the beach before 9 p.m. and will get to enjoy my own yard.  Not often, but that’s okay.  My mom and dad’s yard is pretty beautiful, and you can’t beat swimming on Wolf Lake.  We have also made a few improvements to the barn yard.  With all of the flowers planted, I thought I would give you a little tour of some of our outdoor spaces.  Maybe you will find some inspiration for your own yard, or maybe you won’t, but I’m gonna show ya anyway!  So put on some sunscreen and your walkin’ shoes, and we will take a tour of our little Fazakerley compound we got going on down here on Grover Road.

First up is my front yard.  I’m not even going to show you the back, because, well, it’s ugly right now.  It’s pretty wooded, which I love, but the mosquitoes are so plentiful that I can hardly stand being out there unless I’m sitting by the fire pit.  And that’s only if I have a s’more in my hand.  So, yes, it pretty much takes the lure of s’mores to get me back there right now.

Okay, back to my front yard.  It’s definitely not perfect, and every year I switch some stuff around.  And I have one kind of pain in the neck problem…hard water.  We had to get creative on where our sprinklers fell so they wouldn’t stain the house or driveway, and we made sure to have a flower bed border between the grass and house/driveway to prevent the staining.  So here is what the border around our driveway looks like.

And this year, I added Dwarf Alberta Spruce to each big pot.  I always used to pay $5 for a fountain grass that lasted one summer.  These were $7 and hopefully will live for a couple of summers anyway!  Plus, I can pull out the dead annuals and string them with lights for Christmas and winter!  So make sure you think about incorporating bushes and trees in your pots to make an impact in all seasons!

Here is a cluster of pots filled with annuals to add lots of color.  Tucked in the mix are my girls’ little fairy gardens they put together.  It was so fun letting them pick out little plants and accessories to add, and they planted them while I was potting other plants.

Sitting on either side of the entryway to my front porch are two urns.  I found these tropical plants on clearance at Lowe’s for five bucks!  I just plopped them in and added creeping jenny.  So simple, but I think they look nice.  Plus, I can bring the tropical plant in over winter and try to keep it alive…bahaha!

And lastly, I will give you a peek at the front porch décor.  Pretty much everything out here is vintage and collected super cheap over time.

Whew!  Thanks for staying with me this long!  Hopefully, you picked up a few ideas for your yard and garden!  The next post will feature my mom’s yard, so make sure to look for the Grover Road Garden Tour part 2!



End of Year Craziness & Teacher Appreciation Gifts

I know it’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything on this little blog, but it has been pretty crazy around here as of late.  But school is officially out, so I thought I would try to catch you up to speed!  We have had endless baseball and softball games, it seems, mixed in with end of year field trips, parties, awards assemblies, a wax museum, annual talent show, a violin recital, and graduation parties.  I almost feel like I’ve been at school as much as my kids…okay, slight exaggeration!  On top of that, we’ve been doing lots of yard work at home and at the barn.  While it has all been fun, and I feel extremely blessed that I am able to participate in all of these activities with my kids, I am definitely looking forward to the slower pace of summer.

But before we dive in, I thought I would write a post about the cute little teacher appreciation gifts I put together for my girls’ teachers this year.  They both had such wonderful teachers this year, although I can honestly say they have never had a bad one.  I am just so grateful for the ways that their teachers have nurtured, cared, taught, and led them, and I hoped to convey that in the gift we gave.  Last year, I bought cute little lanterns because I have a slight obsession with them, and thought if I love them, surely they might, too.  So this year I bought lanterns again, but I added a cute potted succulent inside.

I made a little tag with Matthew 5:16 printed on one side (“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”), and a personal note handwritten on the back side.  I thought this verse fit perfectly, not only because it’s attached to a lantern, but because their teachers truly do shine and glorify God by their good deeds.  So even though I’ve told them privately, here is a shout out to Mrs. Michelle DeWeerd and Mrs. Kelly Buzzell for planting seeds and shining light into my girls’ lives.  It’s been a great year of growth, thanks to them!

This post is definitely a little late to be helpful to anyone, but I hope it will inspire you to thank your kids’ teachers for all that they do.  It’s never too late for that!  And hey, maybe you’ll just have to pick up a lantern and put a cute little plant in it just for yourself.  I think I might!


I Love the Red, White, & Blue!

Memorial Day is this Monday, which means a long weekend!  Woo Hoo!!  And school is almost out for the summer!  And I’m pretty sure we will eat hot dogs at least once (okay, maybe not a woohoo…but it means summer).  But most importantly, it means we take a day to remember and honor all of our fellow Americans who have served or are serving our country.  Man, can you imagine a greater sacrifice?  Even if that sacrifice didn’t involve their very lives, it meant sacrificing family, friends, home, comfort, peace, freedom, and much more at some point along the journey.  To think that anyone would give up all of that for you and me…well, that’s just pretty darn special.

As you can tell by the blog name, Mardi and I are pretty patriotic.  We love American history, and learning about great Americans that have come before us and shaped our nation.  We both believe that God had a sovereign hand in the creation of the Constitution, and has blessed our country with faithful leaders.  But no leader is greater than one that has laid down his or her life for her country.  And to all of those heroes, we salute you, thank you, and thank God for you.  And may God continue to protect those men and women currently serving the good ole U.S.A!

Because I love my country, and I also happen to love flags and red, white, and blue, I already have some patriotic décor scattered around my house.  This weekend always inspires me to add a little more to keep up through the 4th of July.  So I’ve picked a couple of my favorite ideas to inspire you, plus a few from my own home.

Source:  Pinterest

Source:  House Beautiful

Source:  Liz Marie Blog

Source:  On Sutton Place


I picked up a pack of little flags at the dollar store to put in this pitcher.  Easy Peasy!

More little flags just propped in some greenery.

I bought this flag at an antique store.  It used to hang in a courtroom.

I love this flag holder over my secretary desk!  It came from

All of these ideas are super simple and cheap, but add a nice dose of patriotic character!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with your family, and may you appreciate the freedom to do so because of the sacrifices of so many!


Flower Shopping Day (Finally!)

I am so excited!  Today Mardi and I are made our annual trip to Countryside Greenhouse in Allendale to buy our flowers for the season. I have been drooling over everyone’s flowers on their front porches on all of the blogs I follow on Instagram and have been itching to add some color to my porch and yard.  Unfortunately, when you live in Michigan you have to wait until mid-May to plant, or the flowers are at risk of frostbite.  My poor hydrangea bushes had started leafing out and are now terribly brown and curled from a hard frost a week or so ago.  I was so bummed because hydrangeas are my favorite!

Mardi and I usually load up on flats of begonias, geraniums, verbena, cosmos, snapdragons, and more.  We also like to use sweet potato vine, bacopa, creeping jenny, and mini wave petunias for trailing accents.  It’s just so much fun, and I love being able to go with my sisters.  Although I have to admit, sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with all of the choices!  That’s why I try to stick mostly to my tried and true favorites.  Although, this year I am going to try a few new combinations.

Look at our haul! It was definitely a successful trip, and a darn good thing we didn’t buy one plant more than we did!

Our mother is a master at putting flowers together in pots, which is definitely a talent.  She has pots scattered all over and they always look amazing.  I always pray that she never gets hurt in the summer, because I don’t want to have to water them for her. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  How is that for a loving daughter?  But seriously, she has a million!   It’s like a part time job!  Okay…it may now be obvious that I am a lazy waterer.  I love planting them, but then I just get kind of tired of actually keeping them alive right around, oh lets say July.  Because you know, the hose is just a pain to wind up.  Fortunately, my husband doesn’t mind doing it sometimes.  Okay…lots of times.  Thanks honey!

Anyway, if you have a super talented, green-thumbed mother that you want to impress, get on Pinterest for inspiration (duh!).  When she comes over, she will beam with pride at your pots and pat herself on the back for passing down the gardening gene.  Here are a few container combinations that I was inspired by:

This galvanized container with Coleus, New Guinea Impatiens, Creeping Jenny, and ferns would add nice color in a shady part of the garden or under a front porch.


Again, ferns look really nice in this grouping.  I have to say I never thought to combine ferns with other plants.  This pot would also thrive in shadier areas, which I have a lot of.


Mardi and I both loved this container.  Not only is the washtub and stand an awesome planter, the geraniums, licorice plant, and bacopa look so pretty together.  Image saved from Bella’s Rose Cottage


This entryway looks a little more formal, but if planting flowers isn’t your thing, these boxwoods add a nice, simple, touch.  Image saved from Home BNC


I think this urn filled with lantana, creeping jenny, and as-yet-identified flowers looks especially pretty, and I like how it trails over the side of the pot.


This simple planting of Rosemary and Verbena looks awesome together!  I think I might have to try it in my yard this year. Image saved from Gardening Choice Org


This picture is more about the containers and overall grouping than the flowers.  I like the baskets and the single flower planted in each one, yet all in the same color family.  Image saved from Four Generations One Roof


And since succulents are all the rage right now, I thought I should include this showstopper.  Wow!  I think I may plant some succulents in my birdbath after seeing this.

Okay, I know this post was long, but I just couldn’t leave any of these ideas out.  I know I have a few new ideas I am going to try this year.  Hopefully you found something that inspires you, too!  Happy Gardening!


Tell us what your favorite annuals and perennials are!

Ticked Off!

Yesterday I went for a run.  Wait, full disclosure:  a slow jog.  Megan is the runner in the family.  But I can Zumba like nobody’s business.  Well, kind of.  Anyway, when I finished “running” I saw my daughter Marek in my parent’s driveway and stopped to talk to her.  While we were chatting, I found a tick on my shirt.  I picked it off my shirt and asked Marek to check me for ticks (like Brad Paisley’s song).  She found three more!  One was stuck in the mesh of my sports bra and the others were on my shirt.  I ripped my shirt off right in the driveway (but yes, I kept my sports bra on).  I was freaking out and I felt like my skin was crawling.  Bugs and spiders don’t bother me at all, but snakes terrify me and ticks give me the creeps.  So I got in Marek’s car (I didn’t want to walk home in my sports bra) so she could drive me home.  As I sat down, she said “wait, Mom” like she saw another one.  I screamed like an idiot.  It ended up only being a mole, thank goodness.  Later that evening, I was talking to my husband David and Marek, and she said “wait, Mom!” again.  I knew what that meant.  She found a tick crawling in my hair!  Yes, it was a tick and not another kind of parasite (though I’ve had those too, to my mother’s eternal horror).  I had already showered, though I didn’t wash my hair.  David said he didn’t want to sleep with me last night.  We were all creeped out and checked ourselves for more.  I can’t believe I had five ticks on me yesterday and lived to tell about it.

Sure, the subject of ticks is a riveting topic, but I did write this post for a reason.  Where we live, ticks are prevalent (obviously).  This post is about tick awareness and prevention.  Ticks are actually small arachnids.  They are most active from April through September.  The best tick preventative measure is to stay away from places where ticks live (I got this earth-shattering advice online).  When walking or hiking in the woods, wear protective clothing:  long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, shoes, and a hat.  I did none of this but may still take my chances rather than wear a burka.  Don’t brush against trees or bushes, but walk in the center of the trails.  Use an insect repellant that contains 20 percent or more DEET and/or products that contain permethrin on your clothing.    There are also several formulas online for making a repellent with essential oils if you are uncomfortable with using chemicals, although I haven’t tried any and can’t attest to their effectiveness.  It’s a good idea to bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (however, this didn’t help me).  Parents should check their children for ticks under their arms, in and around their ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.  So, basically everywhere.  Also examine pets and hiking gear.  Pets should be given a tick preventative also.

The best way to remove a tick is with tweezers.  But if you’re like me, you just want it off of you and you’re not willing to take the time to look for tweezers.  Unfortunately, ticks don’t die easily.  We crushed them on the driveway with sticks, but it took some doing.  The internet has some sage advice:  “dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrap it tightly in tape, or flush it down the toilet.  Never crush a tick with your fingers.”  When washing clothes, use hot water, as cold or medium temperature water will not kill ticks.  If you want to make sure your clothes are tick-free, put your dry clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes.  This will kill any ticks.

And of course, if Lyme Disease is prevalent in your area, make sure you watch for any signs of a bulls-eye shaped rash, and see your doctor immediately if one develops.

There is not a definite way to avoid ticks in the yard, but there are a few things that will help.  First, mow grass frequently.  Clear any tall grass and brush away from the home and at the edge of the lawn.  Keep stacked firewood a good distance away from your house.   Remove all leaf litter.  Lastly, remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from your yard (ticks like to hide in these).  Umm, you should do this anyway.  Your yard will look so much better and it will do wonders for your relationships with your neighbors.


Happy Late Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday, so just please pretend that I posted this yesterday.  I had important things to do yesterday (like take a nap, etc…..).

All my life, I wanted to be a mother.  As a child, I loved to play with my dolls and pretend.  I was always a really good pretend mother, too, by the way.  I am blessed to have an amazing mother who always seemed to make the job look easy.  Well, there’s nothing easy about being a mother.  Oh, how I know that now!

I received the best gift ever from my daughter Manon  yesterday.  She gave me a decorated jar filled with 101 things that she loves about me.  I nearly cried!  How could she come up with so many things?  It took me a long time to read each folded strip of paper.  I’d love to list all the 101 reasons why Manon thinks I’m so wonderful, but that would be a bit much.  No one would ever want to read another post written by me again!  But please indulge me just a few, while I stroke my ego.

I loved that Manon appreciates things that I didn’t think she noticed:  “you take me places you don’t want to go,” “you made sure I’d have a nice smile (braces),” and “you calmed my fears when it stormed and I worried about a tornado.”  Apparently, she even finds my quirkiness endearing:  “you dance in the car,” “you listen to Christmas music in October,” and “you text with one finger.”  Yes, I’m guilty on all counts.  The best reason of all, though, was “you’re my best friend.”  Reading that strip of paper made my heart soar.  For a moment, I almost forgot the struggles, frustrations, and gray hairs that I color.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than God and family.  All the daily distractions, the mountains of laundry (literally, for me), dishes, etc. are more than worth it.  We all have days when we think, “is this all there is?”. But we are serving God by serving our families.  God has entrusted our children to us for a short time.  Parenthood is an awesome responsibility, but it is also an enormous blessing.  Yes, I think that mothers should be celebrated all year long.  But I really enjoyed my moment in the sun.