September Caterpillars

At the beginning of summer when we went to pick out plants at the nursery, I don’t remember Enzo grabbing milkweed, but apparently he did.  All summer we’ve watched this plant grow and grow until finally it flowered and honestly we’ve kind of forgotten about it.  We’ve been busy and haven’t been spending as much time out front.  Last week, however, Josh sent me a picture of something very surprising!

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Neither of us realized we had milkweed, so obviously seeing a milkweed caterpillar was a big surprise since that is all they eat.  As soon as I got home I went to the front to look for it and low and behold, there were about 6 or 7 more caterpillars on what we realized was milkweed.  I’m not going to lie, it was really exciting – I love monarch butterflies!  Some were still pretty small, and others were bigger getting ready to do this…

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I was hoping we’d be able to actually see the whole caterpillar to pupa process, but alas, at some point he completed the process and we discovered another pupa that we had missed close by!  We have three that we know of currently.

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Very unfortunately, however, we were hit with heavy storms and to my great dismay, two caterpillars did not make it to the pupa stage.  As for the other caterpillars that had been on the milkweed… well we looked briefly this morning, but couldn’t find them anywhere. We were running late and the mosquitoes have been fairly obnoxious lately, so the kids and I could only look for a few minutes.  Hopefully we’ll find that they are safe tonight.  Otherwise, I’m crossing my fingers that the butterflies will wait to emerge until we’re all present.  I read that they typically emerge mid-morning, so please let it be on a weekend!  I don’t want to disrupt them, but part of me is tempted to carefully move them (according to instructions) to hopefully ensure that these ones survive.  If nothing else, we will next year.  I also was unaware that you can get these awful little yellow aphids on milkweed and ours is rather infested… not to a point where there isn’t enough food for the caterpillars, but still something we’ll need to watch next year since the plan is to plant more milkweed. 🙂

Unplugging

Well, it’s raining, which isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but hopefully we won’t get too drenched tomorrow. I have a feeling we won’t be finishing up our mulch right away, though. Ha ha!  I need to take pictures of our landscaping progress so far, but have a few from the past weekend. We still have so much on our list, but are making so much headway!

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Such an improvement over the out of control chives and the grubby shrub that lived there when we first moved in.  Is there anything better than lilacs? I think not. However, our sprinkler heads need to be adjusted because one or two of them are hitting the the poor thing head-on.

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Looks like we still need to pressure wash the other half of that rug, but you can see some of the chives that we kept and a few flower additions as well.  Plus… kitties!

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Amazing what a few pots of flowers can do to brighten things up. I’d like to eventually do more with the front “porch” but I’m not entirely sure what.

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If we had more time and money, I think we would have done some major damage at the nursery last weekend. There were so many beautiful flowers and plants.  We’ll need to return soon to add a few more plants to the section we’re currently working on, but until I saw what we bought laid out, I didn’t want to buy too many things and I wanted to make sure a few of the flowers would flourish. I’m thinking we’ll be getting more lilies.  It felt so good to be productive and it’s been ages since we both felt like we’d gotten that much done. It made me start thinking and really part of the problem is distractions. There are so many of them.  Before kids we didn’t have smart phones and while they are enormously useful, I also feel like I’ve never wasted so much time in all my life.

So… we’re trying a little experiment this upcoming weekend and following week and seeing what happens. Aside from a Snap here and there and maybe a quick photo upload to Instagram, I’m staying off of social media and my phone in general – no games, no anything… well, except reading.  Josh said he’d be willing to try it out too.  My hope is that it’ll help me to get out of a rut and force me to quit procrastinating and figure some stuff out. It’s amazing how easy it is to scroll and scroll through various medias and while I enjoy seeing what everyone is up to… let’s face it, for the most part it’s just a time waster – at least the way we’re using it now.

Time to reset, become more present and hopefully awaken some fire within myself that motivates me to do… well, I’m not sure what yet.  Either way, it’ll be good for us all, I think and I’ll report back either during the week or after the full week is up… I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll blog.

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I’m hoping to get a lot more pictures without a phone in anyone’s hands. 😉

Happy Friday!

Fruits of our Labor

Last year my gardening attempts mostly failed.  I had some flowers take off, but many of my endeavors did not pay off, and I blame some of that on too little time and too many plants to care for.  This year I decided to just skip planting an actual garden and we’re focusing more on updating our general landscaping a bit.  I let the kids pick some flowers for the front and to put in pots (I grabbed mint and marigolds as I always do), and thankfully, they are all thriving!  We came back from vacation to find major growth and our first strawberry!

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It’s been really fun checking on the flowers with both kids, but especially Enzo because he seems to “get it.”  He loves to look for more strawberries and the squash he picked out is going nuts, and I think I’ll need a bigger pot.  Watching the kids eat their first strawberry off the vine has me excited to grow food next year.

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With luck it’ll also make them more likely to try the different fruits and veggies that they’ve helped plant and grow.  This year we just got busy and I decided to make time for other things.  Perhaps next year we’ll actually fix up the raised beds and add some chicken wire to keep out pests.

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Landscaping Schtuff

One of our late summer projects (we have quite a few going on) is our landscaping. We have so many plans, and yet so little time to accomplish it, it seems.  For starters, we had several large shrubs/bushes in front of the house that we wanted to get rid of. They were kind of overgrown, and several our house inspector told us were planted too close to the house foundation.

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Then you had this random straggly looking thing with some equally random chives.

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So, Josh started cutting them all down, and is now slowly removing as much of the roots as possible as our plan is to plant some less invasive things like lavender and bulbs.  The other issue is all of those rocks.  We want to replace those with mulch to surround our new prettier plants (once those get planted).  We plan on getting rid of the weeds growing up all around the back door and laying the rocks from the front along the edging.  Josh already removed some equally huge shrubs that were the home to hundreds of spiders and that regularly threatened to overgrow the door.

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Those super attractive ill-fitting curtains have also since been replaced.  😉

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It’s a slow process, especially since we’ve had to spend some time cleaning out the garage and rearranging the downstairs. With cooler weather approaching, the plan is to spend more time outside getting that done so that way it’s ready for bulb planting. Thankfully we have a gift card from Home Depot from when we bought all of the inside paint, so we’re going to buy a weed whacker and should probably get a wheelbarrow as well unless we can find someone to borrow one from.  Rocks are heavy.

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We may keep the chives there… I haven’t quite decided yet what to do in this area.  At least I’ve got time to decide. Our poor neighbors will just have to bear with us while we slowly get it all done.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

With the weather so nice, we started officially gardening a couple of weeks ago and doing general outside tidying up.  We have a lot to do still, but at the very least, our deck has some color, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll have some yummy veggies this summer as well.  Time will tell. 😉

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Thankfully I had an excellent helper when it was time to run to Home Depot for some supplies. Enzo couldn’t be happier to run around and jump in puddles and chase birds while I grabbed some flowers and such.

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Since I knew Enzo would be helping me, I opted for a potting soil that was chemical and poo-free because I knew at some point something would end up in his mouth (like his shovel, and it did).

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At one point, Phoebe also joined us and relaxed in her bouncy chair while we surrounded her with flowers to look at.

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The raised beds in the yard were quite a mess and took several hours to rip up the weeds and who knows what else that had taken up residence, and add some better soil to the mix. The picture above was during the beginning of Spring, when we probably should have ripped everything up.

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I’ve gotten so used to minimal gardening in pots that I’m not sure everything will take, but we’ll see. It also didn’t help that we had a massive storm the day after I planted and my pumpkin and rhubarb are still rather sad… also they are both firsts for me.

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The strawberries seem to be doing well, though, and our lettuce is coming in as well as onions, so I’ve been pointing these out to Enzo whenever we go outside.

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There is nothing better than watching things grow, though, and I wish I had more of a green thumb, and more time to really get into gardening.  Perhaps when the kids are just a bit older it will be easier.

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Also, when we move to a place with fewer bugs.  They were swarming around little Phoebe and got into her little tent, and we’re having issues with wasps as well.  I did find a pet/child friendly bug spray that I sprayed around the foundation of the house that does seem to have cut down on the spiders, but that won’t help with wasps/mosquitos/gnats.

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We (Josh really) ripped up two huge shrubs that were a breeding ground for spiders, so that also helped. I replaced one with lavender, and we plan on tearing up more shrubs to replace with more lavender and lemon grass and things that should hopefully deter bugs.  I did plant some bee balm and butterfly flowers, though, in the hopes that those will make themselves at home.

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