Thursday, August 22, 2013

sunflowers are THE color of august at red gate farm

Sunflowers.  I never seem to be able to get enough of them.  Both growing and in pictures.  This year I expanded my sunflower planting to the little garden area around the pumphouse.  Since I already grow them in the trough, I thought I'd add a few around the trough and pumphouse as well this year.

And speaking of sunflowers in the trough... well sunflowers in my trough seems to be a popular picture with everyone.

In fact my most pinned photo on Pinterest is from an old post... a picture so old that the little pumphouse building isn't even there yet!  Yep, that's the same tub o' flowers in the exact same spot, circa 2007 (I can tell by the tractor in the background)!  Now that I'm used to seeing the little red pumphouse, the trough looks a little lonely, as does the cement chicken in front!

Tub of sunflowers, I love!

 The trough was here when we moved in... behind it is a rusty lamp post (long gone) and the well casing for our well.  I believe it was placed there so that nobody would run into the well casing since the driveway is just in front of this area.  It wasn't very pretty sitting there all worn out and decrepit so the first year at Red Gate Farm I filled it with sunflowers... now it's a Red Gate Farm tradition... although now I can only plant shorter varieties since the Mr. doesn't want the window and the light blocked in the pumphouse... not sure what anyone would be doing in there that needs light from the windows especially since there is a light fixture, but I do try to plant shorter varieties in the trough because I like to see the three vintage windows behind the sunflowers.

This year the sunflowers are looking pretty fantastic.  I did realize that I somehow neglected to plant any of the taller varieties... a problem I'll have to remedy NEXT year.

And around Red Gate Farm this year?  Well this one is one of my favorite sunflowers, the Teddy Bear sunflower.  It is rather short and stocky but I love the bushy little yellow face on this variety...  so different from a traditional sunflower.

These multi-branched ones are grown in my garden so that I can pick some to have inside.

Oops... looks like a zinnia is vying for some attention too!

I like this view... sunflowers, a cornfield, some evergreens... all against the blue skies of August.  Nothing says summer more than this view.

I'll have to look up what variety this one is... but it has an interesting inner circle of yellow dots.

And my current definition of country life?  It would have to be sunflowers and a couple of vintage trucks in the background.

Hoping August is treating your gardens well,

Linking up to

Monday, August 19, 2013


 I've loved books since I learned to read.  Worked my way through the Nancy Drew series(of course!), Trixie Belden and just about every other book in my elementary school's library.  In fact, I remember in the 4th grade a librarian wouldn't let me check out a book because she thought it would be "too difficult" of a read for me...thankfully my teacher set her straight and I got to check that book out!

I was (and am) such a reader that I even had to have something to read at the table for breakfast or lunch (probably dinner if I could have)... so even the cereal boxes in my house were reading material!  As I got older this progressed to the one handed eating, while holding a book or the propping the books open and up with whatever was handy.

I loved the summer which meant trips to the public library, as well as their annual reading contest... how I loved filling out form after form of books each summer.  And when I moved from the "kids library" to the "upstairs library" I was in heaven all over again!

By middle school and high school I plowed through book after book, genre after genre.  If it was fiction, I read it.  The only common theme was that the main character had to be female.  After all, reading was (and still is) my escape from the world and how could I put myself in the main character's shoes if the lead character was a male!  Believe it or not, I was in my mid-twenties before I finally picked up a book with a male lead character... perhaps because I'd read everything else!

I'm still a big reader but one thing has changed.  The actual books that is.  I've owned a Kindle for almost 4 years and I have to say I will never go back.  I was afraid I wouldn't like reading on the screen but nope, it's just like a book page (the e-ink technology style)... I was afraid I would miss the actual books... nope, apparently my favorite part of books is actually the READING... And the best part?  The absolute, hands down, best part?  I ALWAYS have a book to read and if I don't, I can get a new one instantly!  I carry my Kindle with me everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.  Oh, and the second best part?  No more propping the books up with my stapler and holding down the pages with one hand while I eat lunch... heaven, folks, heaven.

When we moved to Red Gate Farm 8 1/2 years ago, I came with boxes and boxes of books that I'd collected over the years.  Hard backs and paper backs.  Our prior house had a big set of built in bookcases that my husband built for me... here, not only no bookcases but more importantly no ROOM for bookcases.  After I realized how much I love my Kindle, I made the decision to give away almost all of my book collection... keeping just children's books, some of my favorites and a few that had inscriptions.

Lately I've come across a new reason to collect books... vintage books that is.  I had a few old Nancy Drews as well as a few books I've picked up here or there.  I started using them more in decorating... to add height or color in a spot.  My local thrift store usually has a few vintage books but sometimes the price is a bit high...

However a couple of weeks ago I hit a jackpot of $1.00 books!  For just $6.00 I picked my favorites...

This one is a favorite because of the art deco or perhaps arts and crafts design on the front.

And the pages!  This book has literally fallen apart, but I love the loose pages!  I may even bundle this up with a bit of ribbon...  Wouldn't this book in it's browns and tans be fun for Thanksgiving and fall?

Orange was a theme as well... I'm always looking for anything orange and black that I might be able to use for Halloween... even if it is NOT Halloween in theme.  These 3 books will be out for the month of October for sure.

But the all time favorite of the bunch?  Well it's this one... orange and black and titled "Lazybones"... doesn't get more Halloween than this!

 So my small collection of vintage books is growing... As you can see I pick by price, color and title... for the first time in book selection, nothing else matters...

Looking forward to being a bit of a lazybones myself and working my way through many, many books in the next few days of my staycation,

linking up to

Friday, August 16, 2013

ombré in the garden

Ombré... the definition is "having colors or tones that shade into each other, used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark.  The origin of ombré is french, the past participle of ombrer to shade and comes from Italian ombrare, from ombra shade, from Latin umbra.  And if you drop the french accent mark off the e... well ombre, just plain, is actually taken from the word hombre (man) and is the name of a card game... isn't google amazing?

But seriously... this whole ombré fad with hair, crafts, paper... I'll admit I'm not usually a fan.  But I did notice that nature provides us with this same effect....

My first picking of tomatoes a few weeks ago.  I arranged them a la Martha for a bit of tomato art.  I start picking my tomatoes as they start to turn orange, this hastens the ripening of the other tomatoes.  So some of the actual tomatoes have an ombré look as well as the effect in my little display.

These lemon cukes don't really fit the idea of ombré, but I couldn't resist including them since they are my all time favorites.  These were the first two I harvested back in July... now I can't eat them quickly enough!

A few years back a saw a hanging basket of this oregano, yes it's a type of oregano... Kent Beauty Oregano to be exact.  I looked high and low for this plant for the next few years and never, ever found any.  This year, there it was at a local garden center.  I snapped up a couple of starts to add to my million bells on the front porch that have similar tones.  Since it's a sun loving plant it does well in this west facing spot on my porch.  This is considered a 'tender' perennial so I may try to over winter it in my little greenhouse.  I love the shaded coloring of the bracts I think it's a sort of ombré look.

 But of course one of the highlights in my garden this year have been my hydrangeas.  They have all done so well and are just covered with blossoms.  This particular variety is called Pinky Winky and is at the end of the driveway in front of the retaining wall that was built last year.  They looked a little weary last year, their first, but have rebounded nicely this spring and summer.  The coloring is beautiful and quite similar to my Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea.  Even the stems/branches are a reddish color.  This hydrangea looks fantastic in the fall as the blossoms really take on a vintage, dusky color.

So although I'm not a fan of the whole ombré fad in hair, fabrics and all.... I think I just may like it in nature... and the gardens.

Starting another week of "staycation" and hoping to get many projects completed.  Perhaps even have a little time to "share"!

linking up to


Thursday, August 15, 2013

two for two

This summer has been rather hectic... with work, weather, watering, weeding, walking... it's been full of "w's" galore.  Monday through Thursday fly by with just a few hours after work each night to get a few things done and start over the next day.  Tonight (Wednesday) it is finally raining and I have a reprieve from watering!  Who would have ever thought a Washingtonian would be happy with rain!  An unexpected "extra hour" in my day meant finally taking some pictures and getting a post up!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a little time with EACH of my kids.

Saturday was a trip to Seattle to spend the day with my daughter.  I've always wanted to try macarons and she had some waiting for me when I got there!

By the way, do any of you find it strange that I actually took 239 pictures of these macarons?  Really.  239 photos of macarons on a milk glass pedestal.

I'm still not sure if I actually like them, to eat this is.  They're kind of unusual, but they are very photogenic!

We didn't just spend the day looking at macarons.  We stopped in our favorite local coffee shop for one of the the best lattes around.  Unlike most coffee spots, they make each drink individually... no steaming milk for multiple cups at once.  They even fancy it up with a pretty design in the foam.

We then hit up World Market and Ikea.  I was shopping for curtains for the windows at our latest project,  Kermit's Kastle.  I'd pictured a specific set of Ikea curtains in the dining room... a set that has been around for years... unfortunately for me they have stopped making this design!  I did find another set I liked at Ikea but no such luck at World Market on the curtain front.

Lunch at Chipotle, a stop at a paint store and then we were on to a street festival in a local small town.

Late afternoon found us at a local grocery store to stock up on the BEST pico de gallo and homemade flour tortillas to take home to Red Gate Farm.

Shopping at Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn rounded out the day.

The sun was shining, the weather was warm and it was a great way to spend the day with my daughter.  She and my son-in-law have just purchased their first home.  With moving day looming, future visits will probably be fewer and far between, as they work on projects and get settled in to their new home.

Sunday morning brought rain and cloudy skies to this part of the country.  My son works at a local raspberry farm and the harvest is starting to finally wind down.  He had the day off... just the second day off in seven weeks... a well earned day off from his average 16 hour days.

An unplanned visit when he stopped by for a homemade, as in not frozen/microwaved/fast food, dinner and brought me hydrangeas cut from his own plants.... Beautiful dark purple ones that are quite large.

As well as some smaller, blue blossoms.

So, it was a great weekend, spending time with each of my kids.

Monday, August 5, 2013

signs, of country life

Sometimes I question whether I'm really cut out for my little country life.  I love somethings like room to grow what ever I want.  The peace and quite.  The little to no traffic on my road...

I think I've mentioned before that about 16 or so of our 20 acres is leased out to a local farmer.  This year I was excited when I realized they had planted corn in our field!  Corn!  I was looking forward to seeing it grow, hearing the wind rustle the stalks and just plain having something a little different in the field.  I was worried it would get a little claustrophobic and a closed in feeling by fall.  But then I noticed how spaced the rows were on the north side and thought, "Oh, no matter what that won't feel like a wall."  Boy, was I wrong.  The corn is now high enough that you can hardly see the top of our house coming from the east.

It's hard to believe that back in mid May it, and my garden, were just short little sprouts.

Now it's catching up to the nectarine tree... and the garden is well, a bit of a walking hazard.  

Those rows that were spaced so far apart...

Have pretty much grown together.  And yep, that includes the corn... even to the north were I thought I'd be able to see "up the rows"... well it's a wall of corn too.

The corn was knee high by the 4th of July... and in the last week it went from this...

To this.  It's almost surpassed the peak of my little greenhouse!  I think it grew a foot in a week.

Now, perhaps you're wondering why I'm questioning my country girl status after 8 1/2 years?  After all, the garden is growing with just some water and weeding by yours truly.  Veggies are getting ready for canning, fruit has been made into jam.  What's more country girl than that?

The sunflowers are all over the place, turning Red Gate Farm into a cute country spot.

But I've come to realize that you can't let all this Country Living magazine coziness fool you.  Under those green leaves lurks all kinds of creepy crawly things.  And you guessed it, I'm not a creepy crawly kind of girl.  I wear garden gloves for just this reason.

I don't know if it's the corn or the heat and lack of rain this summer but strange things have been happening around Red Gate Farm.  In the prior 8 spring/summer/fall gardening seasons I've seen exactly ONE snake.  This year the count is up to FIVE... FIVE!  The first one on the way to the compost just about gave me a heart attack as it slithered across my path.  Number two?  Well it was the worst.  Let's just say I won't be wearing sandals when I feed the chickens any more and if you don't like to touch snakes well the don't feel any better slithering across your toes!

Three and four made an appearance together on Saturday, while I was snapping some of these photos.

And finally, number five was tonight while watering.

I may just need to dust off the rubber boots for the remainder of the year.  Or just take out my contacts and pretend I don't notice anything.

But I'm really blaming this odd ball year and my questioning of my country girl status on the corn.... and what really got me thinking was an old movie... perhaps you've seen it?  It's a little over 10 years old with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix?  I was on my treadmill watching this one on Friday... in my basement, my old house kind of basement... surrounded on two sides by 16 or so acres of 10 foot tall corn.  Corn that is still growing and won't be harvested for a while yet.  The idea of rustling stalks has lost it's appeal for me.  If you haven't guessed yet, the movie was Signs.  I won't spoil the plot if you haven't seen this suspenseful movie...  But there IS a corn field involved, with lots of rustling stalks, but not from the gentle breezes of summer or fall.  And I'm keeping a glass of water handy... or the garden hose.... I'm just saying.

I think I'll be sticking to the Home and Garden channel for a while.