Browsing Archives for Inspiration

Tipsy in the Garden

May 12th, 2009


Not Tipsy in the Garden!

I meant Garden TIPS!

A few Garden TIPS from my father-in-law Joe!






















This is the way to Joe’s garden.

Inside there is a bountiful harvest of garden wisdom.  





A few years ago Joe started planting his tomatoes and cucumbers inside of these sunken buckets which were placed inside of his raised beds, which were placed inside of a circle of wire mesh. 

You might need to be a little tipsy to go to all this trouble for the sake of a garden fresh tomato, but there is a method to Joe’s madness.

Joe cut the bottoms off of those buckets (which are laundry soap buckets that he collects from the nearby nursing home).  He fills the inside of the buckets with new potting soil every year, thereby eliminating all sorts of soil diseases that could infect his plants.  This method also saves on watering, as Joe can train his hose on the inside of each bucket and not waste water on the surrounding dirt.

Joe also stuck several Tums tablets in the soil around his tomatoes.  The Tums tablets add calcium to the soil which prevents ‘blossom end rot’ on his tomatoes, and also keeps his tomatoes from getting indigestion.





Besides gardening and farming to support his large family, Joe also maintained oil wells for a living. Because of this, he is a skilled welder and he often puts these skills to use in his garden. Here is a garden implement to which he added some length and reinforced with a second support.






Here is a support he made for his pepper plants. When the plants get tall and heavy with peppers, they can rest upon the metal grid.

All of these welded tools in Joe’s garden caused me to ask him…

“What if you want to grow a garden and don’t know how to weld things?” 

“You can’t grow a garden if your can’t weld.” Joe replied.



I think I may be in trouble with this whole gardening thing.





As many folks do, Joe uses a raised bed system to garden.

No welding required.





To keep the weeds down on his paths between his raised beds, Joe stapled fabric weed barrier from the edge of one bed, across the walk way and onto the edge of the other bed. He then covered the fabric with mulch.




Joe keeps his green onion patch going longer, by keeping a small store of extra onion sets and replacing every onion that he picks with a fresh set.




Joe always washes his hands before he harvests his lettuce so that there is less dirt to wash off later.

I hope to visit Joe’s garden later in the season to show you his shocking asparagus beans.

…and to see if the Tums worked on his tomato’s indigestion.  


Dreaming of my own garden fresh produce someday soon,


The Oracle Tours the Lodge

April 22nd, 2009


I am an architecture junkie.

I love houses and well designed buildings.

I love old derelict homes on abandoned highways sagging from neglect and misuse and I always want to hitch them to my car, drag them home and fix them up again.

I love new buildings too… the way they smell… how everything is still so clean… looking over the choices that the designers made and making note of great ideas for future reference.

So when the opportunity came to spend a weekend at Pioneer Woman’s lodge, I was very excited to meet the building in person.

It did not disappoint me.



My original plan was to snap a few photos of my favorite things about the lodge.




And then I would write a little snippet of why I loved this particular element so much. For instance, I love this door… I love it because… uh… I love it because… because… uh… well… because… it is so beautiful!

Is that a good reason?




I also this fireplace because clearly… again… very, very beautiful…




The way the light spills across the floor in this one little spot.

I have a thing for light spilling across a floor.

Maybe it is because of all those motes that give a person like me literally hours of viewing pleasure.



When the Oracle Known as Steve got wind of my simple idea for a tour of P-Dub’s lodge, he was none too pleased.




After all, The Oracle  is a mild mannered architect by day

and he wanted to know more than just how beautiful everything was at the lodge.




He demanded surveys, and pie charts, and a historical census of all the buildings in the area.



He wanted to know about the water table and the outcroppings and the ratio of people to cows.




I tried to make him happy. I tried to accommodate his need for fluffy, fervent, high falutin’, factoids.



“There are twenty two million cows to every half person out here.” I said.

“There are no water tables, but there are a few tables made of wood!” I pleaded.

“I can’t give you a pie chart, but I can give you a piece of pie if you will stop asking me questions I can’t answer!”

The Oracle grew quiet. He was clearly disappointed in me, but he seemed to sense that his profound need for information was not going to be met by an ordinary human such as I.

He sighed, “Alright then… I’ll take a piece of coconut cream pie and a cup of coffee… I guess” and he shrugged sadly, as he headed to the bathroom.

I wept with relief.




And then he yelled to me from the ‘little room’…

“Can you at least tell me, of what material these bathroom floors are made?”

(The Oracle is very good about not ending a sentence in a preposition.)

“I don’t know… but aren’t they beauti…” I yelled back and then stopped myself…and then with as much confidence as I could muster, I shouted down the hall…“they look just like limestone, but I think they are stained concrete!” 

“Wow!” the Oracle said, “They are really beautiful.”

“Yes, I replied, “I know.”

A recent trip with my bookclub to historic Cottonwood Falls Kansas, a jewel of a small town set right in the center of the Flint Hills, set my pulse to racing and my heart to pattering, as I was able to view some very fine architectural details in the Chase County Courthouse as well as tour a beautiful turn of the century farmhouse.

WooHoo!  Was that a run-on sentence or what?
Maybe I should break it down in an outline so it will be easier to grasp…
1.  Book club to Cottonwood Falls
a.  Jewel of a small town
b.  Center of the Flint Hills
c.  Pulse races
d.  Heart goes pitter pat
2.  Chase County Court House
a.  Beautiful architectural details
b.  I got to see ‘em
3.  Farmhouse
a.  Turn of the century
b.  Still clinging to the butler’s pantry.
c.  Wait!  That comes later
d.  Nevermind!

What more could an architecture junkie ask for?

The courthouse, which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation features some massive trim.  The windows have deep sills that are set into the thick limestone walls of the 1872 building.

A curving staircase reaches all the way to the third floor.

As you ascend, you can visit the courtroom.

And the jail, where I hope your stay will be very brief!

Many lovely sights will greet you once you again gain your freedom…

…and begin your descent back into the town itself.

Where, if you don’t stop for a piece of pie at the Emma Chase Cafe,  with your friend and your other friend… you might as well not have come in the first place!

The main event of the day for me, was touring the childhood home of my friend Nancy, of Three Blondes and the Law.

Other than the addition of a main floor bathroom and mudroom, this gorgeous turn of the century farmhouse has not been altered in any significant way from it’s original floor plan.  

Which includes a Butler’s Pantry… 
A Butler’s Pantry…
A Butler’s Pantry that I fell deeply, deeply, DEEPLY in love with.

I also struggled in leaving this dining room behind.

But not nearly as much as I struggled in disentangling myself from the heated embrace of the butler’s pantry.

There were some trim details that included an outer ribbon of chocolaty wood encasing a rich golden inner layer of wood that did cause me to suffer a few unladylike palpitations.

And an INGLENOOK that brought me to my knees!

Until I remembered the butler’s pantry and all that we had been through.
His noble gait, his broad shoulders, his steady gaze, and I re-pledged my troth to be his and his alone and I felt whole and unviolated again.

So that the “come hither” curve of a certain beguiling stone wall.

and the ferocious virility of a large red barn may have caused me to tremble for a second… or two seconds… or maybe three…

Still…  nothing made me as fluttery and as weak kneed, and as quivery as the love of my fragile youth… the butler’s pantry.

And our love will live on in my heart… like a quiet burning ember of love… stricken through by the cruel arrow of fate… but still beating, beating, beating… and yes still… throbbing, throbbing, throbbing…. and still quivering, quivering, quivering… like a green gelatin salad… with sweet little marshmallows inside… quivering in love… quaking in love… until the sands of time are no more.

Fare thee well my love.