Monday, July 3, 2017

Oh Ye, of Little Faith



A new friend who runs an estate sale business.

Patience to wait until the last sale day, even knowing amazing treasures would slip through my fingers.

A pitiful, sad, ready-for-the-fire-pile little settee for my very favorite price -- FREE!!! -- with just enough of a graceful curve to turn my head.

Another talented friend who inspired me with her lovely, creative uses of the humble dropcloth.

Multiple washes and bleaches to soften the painters' tarp to a linen-y vibe.

A hired seamstress.

Dear Universe.  I would like some karmic points here, please. For truthfulness. Despite coming from a long line of embellishers and storytellers. Talking mainly about you, Dad.

COULD I have sewn it myself?  Probably. But WOULD I have? Probably not. So let's please overlook the part where I did not sew it myself.

Just a sad little broken down dirty rotten crying shame of an abandoned piece of furniture. Completely reimagined.

Happy heart.

And a fun new prop for Flower Farm's signature conversation areas. Braxton, my wedding assistant (who has the actual audacity to leave me -- leave me! -- in order to become a big deal in college this year, before the two of us get rich and famous for our awesome wedding and event shenanigans), thinks it's hilarious that I call our conversation areas "vignettes." He mocks me with that word somewhat regularly.

Life Lesson Number One.  Things, and especially people, deserve second chances. There is always something beautiful left inside, just hoping for someone to notice and believe.

Life Lesson Number Two.  There is something powerful and rare about hard-working creative women supporting each other, cheering each other's successes, and holding out a hand of friendship just when your hand was feeling a little lonely and empty. Thank you, Sashin of Antiqueology and Barbara of Be at Home MT.  So glad to call you my new friends. Same to you, Autumn of Events by Autumn, Johanna from Johanna B Photography, and Karen of Vinyl Krazy Mama.  I am so grateful to have met each one of you.

Even though I know you will each say I was nuts to post this awful photo in the driveway without styling it first. You are right. As usual. But I couldn't wait.

Life Lesson Number Three.  A down-to-earth friend always needs a fancy friend to show her things.  Here is my old/new settee's fancier friend. Yes. Another new vignette in the making, Braxton.

Silk! Tufted! Swoon!
Life Lesson Number Four.  If you are 51 years old and have a dad who will laugh and shake his head but still drive you all over creation to pick up your junk and treasures and haul them home for you, and a mother who will help vacuum and clean your junk that has seen better days, then you are awfully, awfully lucky. Love you madly, Mom and Dad.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Junking Joy, Bridal Bonanza

farm fancy Montana wedding

Some days, after many frustrating Excel hours sorting and pivoting and filtering, oh my!...

... and still the data won't line up just the way I tell it to...

... well, I just need to step away for a moment. Clear my head. Take a deep breath.

And by that I mean, obviously: go junking.  Ah, lovely things. You make my heart sing.

Yesterday, my soul was parched for pretties. Not for me, of course. But for my beautiful brides. (I do it all for you, Montana brides. Have I mentioned? This is also what I tell Greg when he rolls his eyes at me. "It's for the brides, honey.")

The photo does not do it justice, but this silver tray? It weighs about 15 pounds. It is footed. It has feet!  How sweet is that? The patina is perfect.  This tray?  It. Is. Everything.

The hobnail compote dish: sublime.

The candleholders with crystals: so farm fancy.

The little creamer: blushing so sweetly.

The four new embroidered hankies for our growing collection: I think I will probably need a larger basket "For Happy Tears" at Flower Farm weddings. Isn't it lovely, the way people cry at weddings? I just adore that.

And doilies! Doilies, doilies, dreamy doilies. I picture the women all those decades ago, doing their delicate handwork, and I daydream about their conversations.

Thank you, Sashin at Antiqueology. Your shop is my new happy place. You were everything those stupid Excel spreadsheets were not... and so much more.  So. Much. More.  (And to be clear, shopping at Sashin's shop is not technically "junkng," because her inventory is so beautifully curated, edited and displayed. It's more like an afternoon in vintage/antique heaven. Swoon.)

Montana brides, come hither. Flower Farm has pretties. So many, many pretties.

Want to see a few more? Behold the website.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Farm Food: Not Fancy, but Friendly

Some special friends of ours live about a mile or so down the highway. I've known Ron since I was a little girl, and was delighted when he and his wife Jane relocated to Montana almost two years ago, and even more tickled when they found a beautiful home nearby.
Flower Farm Christmas
Our friends Ron and Jane at Christmas.

Last week Ron gave us all a big scare: a very serious heart attack.

During stressful times, there are really only two choices. Either you stop eating, or you eat like a locust. At Flower Farm, we are card-carrying members of the latter camp. So we helped the best way we knew: food offerings.

While in the hospital, Ron the Patient was getting broth and Jello on a hospital tray. For his worried wife and daughters, though, the situation clearly called for comfort food. Crockpots and casseroles.

So we cooked up some BBQ pulled pork, rolls, cheesy creamy potato casserole (I'm not calling them funeral potatoes because he lived! Ron lived! But that's what they were), a veggie balsamic-herb medley of asparagus, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Ron is home now and doing a little better every day. We are grateful. Because this world needs more Ron.

He is a big kidder and likes to laugh. I've been teasing him about his new "heart healthy" diet, insisting that he will now need to subsist mainly on twigs, nuts, berries and pebbles. (I used to be a healthcare professional. I know things.)

Today I'm sending over another meal, and since this one will include Ron, the menu selection needed more restraint, fat and calorie-wise. So I made soup.

The roasted tomatillo verde soup base doesn't
 look very appetizing, I'll grant you.
But trust me: it's amazing.
Cooked up a big 'ole pot of Montana-Mex verde soup, using a roasted base of tomatillos, Hatch chile peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes grown right here in the garden at Flower Farm last summer, scratch chicken stock, black beans, white corn, spinach, chicken, cilantro and mild(ish) seasonings. Spinach doesn't usually belong, but we'll say it's camouflaged it as "extra" cilantro for Ron, and his on-the-mend heart.

But toppings! This is where things got tricky.

Avacados are probably okay for our boy Ron. But Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream? Not so much.
Organic, non-GMO and no salt... it all sounded hopeful.
But on second thought, no. None for Ron.
So I made some special food labels to distinguish between Ron-approved and Ron-prohibited toppings.

Sour cream label: "Sorry, man."

Cheese label: "Absolutely not."

And so on and so forth.

Still, I didn't want him feeling left out. So as an extra thoughtful and caring gesture, I also sent some special toppings, just for Ron.
Ron Toppings:
pinecones, gravel, sunflower seeds, twigs

Farm food and friendship. Nothing fancy, but I sure hope it does their hearts good, and gives them a little chuckle.

PS.  I also sent the food with an extra special delivery guy -- the boonies version of Waiters on Wheels. Pretty sure Ron and Jane will like that.

My Daddy, friend to all,
and the world's greatest food deliverer.
Pinned a note on my Dad, just in case he forgot what he was doing. (While he was here waiting for me to finish packing up the food, he went to the bathroom but forgot to pee. Just sayin'.We had a good laugh about that.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Miracle Properties of the Red Solo Cup

You're thinking tailgating. Or a kegger, by a big-ass campfire. Maybe Beer Pong. Or perhaps even this little ditty:
Red Solo Cup,
I fill you up.
Let's have a party.
Proceed to party.
Nope. All these uses for the ubiquitous Red Solo Cup have their place. (Toby Keith is iffy.) But that place is not at your wedding or special event at Flower Farm.

Not unless you are a certain sort of Montuckybilly bride, intent on wearing, say, a camouflage wedding dress. Or bedecking your groom and his fellas with boutonnieres principally consisting of rifle shells and fossilized elk scat. Or menus that have any sort of nod to Velveeta, Spam, and Lil Smokies.

If you are that sort of bride, then I suppose there are only two possible reactions:
  1. "Let me talk you out of Red Solo Cups. Just think how charming some sweet little Mason jars with chalkboard tags will be! Or chilled Pilsners!"  But, if my persuasive powers fall short...
  2. Each to her own.
All that said, I rise with heartfelt gratitude to salute the Red Solo Cup.

That humble scarlet Solo, that rosy receptacle, that blushing bar beverage holder, and her lesser-known but equally useful Blue Solo sister, will be big big big players in your perfect wedding day, in vastly important ways. But behind-the-scenes. Without you ever knowing -- unless you read on.

Exhibit A:  Today, I planted bulbs, tubers and seeds down in the Flower Farm greenhouse. Any guesses on the perfect container for starting Casablanca Lilies, Stargazer Lilies, and any other member of the genus Lillium? How about the ideal starting pot for three sweet, wee little bulbs of Gayfeather, from the genus Liatris? (We may as well learn some Botany while we go along here.)

Yes. Correct! The perfect starting receptacle for these and many other plants we grow here at Flower Farm is the RSC.

You're sharp, I can see that. I'm not getting anything past you.

Head start: Bulbs started in Red Solo dirt cups at Flower Farm Weddings & Events. Soon, they will become gigantic, fragrant white flowers and showstoppers in your bouquets and centerpieces.

Simple needs of a Stargazer Lily bulb: Dirt, water, sunshine, and a Red Solo Cup, A good playlist from Flower Farm Weddings & Events also doesn't hurt.
Still, right at this moment, you're probably thinking to yourself:
"Big deal."
"She planted a big gigantic head of ugly garlic in a plastic beer cup. So what?"
Allow us to explain. Just a few short months from now, that garlicky-looking thingamabob is going to turn into this.

And maybe a few weeks later, I'll be down in the garden with my new nippers.

(New nippers! I got new nippers! Also: new bypass pruners. And get ahold of yourself, this is a tsunami of mind-blowing fantastic-ness right now, and I realize there's a limit to how many world-rocking revelations I can spew forth in just a single paragraph, so I probably should meter out all this thrilling news just a little more slowly and gently...  But wait.  Just wait until you see my new gloves.)

Excuse me. I need a moment. I feel sweaty. Jiggy. Light-headed.

In fact, on second thought, these gloves are a whole separate post unto themselves. Later this week. Wait for it.

Meanwhile, let's just say say the UPS man visibly winces and braces himself in reaction to my spirited, enthusiastic, shimmying, full-throated responses to his comings and goings. Spring at Flower Farm is way better than Christmas, obvi. But he seems afraid. Of me. Whatever.

I digressed. Where was I? Ah, yes. I was out with my new nippers in the cutting gardens of Flower Farm Weddings & Events, imagining two months from now, and the delicious romantic scent of lilies wafting up my nostrils. In my mind, I was cutting flowers for you, my friend.

For your gorgeous wedding bouquet. Like the one I made for Ashley.
Jake, Ashley, and her simple, gorgeous Stargazer Lily bouquet.
Or to tuck whimsically behind your ear, because maybe you are a bohemian bride. Or snipping some gayfeather stems to soar with fuzzy floret abandon above the dinnerplate dahlias and Queen Anne's lace in your centerpieces. You know. The ones that will leave your guests gasping and dizzy with delight at the eye-popping extravaganza of your event flowers.

But where are the lowly Red (and Blue) Solo Cups, you ask? Their duty done, their service complete, their function as a vital, virtual uterus gestating lovely flowers, they are gone. Put away. No longer in evidence. Back in the box, stoically bearing their unsung fate like the burden it is. (Discussion. Uteri metaphors in a wedding business blog? Too much? Talk amongst yourselves.)

So. Let us pause, reflect and raise our cups in honor. Thank you, RSCs.

All right. I'm finished.

You were praying I was finished, weren't you? Weren't you!

But if I'm going to be perfectly honest, there is one more big way that RSCs powerfully contribute here at Flower Farm that cannot be overlooked.

The distance between the house and the greenhouse on our property is about 100 paces, up a slight grade.

From time to time, in the evening, I may or may not enjoy an adult beverage while working in the greenhouse. Say, a Keystone Light. (Who's the Montuckybilly now, huh? Okay. Fair point. But shush it, hipster beer elites. Macro-brew has its place.)

After a Keystone or three, my 51-year-old bladder begins sending ever-more urgent signals to my brain.  My 51-year-old bladder will not be ignored, my friends. It is insistent.

The total elapsed time for a greenhouse-to-house round trip should clock no more than five minutes. But inevitably, I reach the house and adult ADHD (or Keystone Light) kick in. My eyes alight on laundry that needs changing, meat that needs thawing, dishwasher that needs starting. God forbid Facebook emits a happy, hopeful little ding.

These distractions beckon and propel me like a heat-seeking missile, toward "things that are not gardening." And that's a problem.

Because: Your bouquet. Your centerpieces. Your whimsical, bohemian hair flowers. Remember? I do it all for you, you pretty, pretty bride, you.

So one evening last year, I improvised and problem-solved. Devised a little time-and-motion solution to wasteless time on bio breaks while working in the greenhouse. And my solution involves...

Yes. A Red Solo Cup. You really are very quick on the uptake. Quite clever. Round of applause to you.

Fine. Act appalled. Be aghast, like Greg was, the first time he came upon me and my -- ahem -- cup.

When you think about it, his reaction is the very definition of sexism, because that man walks around pissing on trees and marking his territory day and night. Day and night, I tell you! But just once, let him find me efficiently and practically taking care of my own bodily needs, and he glares like he caught me gutting a tiny soft furry kitten. In a tone heavy with accusation and disapproval, he manages, "What is wrong with you?"

The greenhouse is made of windows. I'll grant him that. But crouched between the potting soil bin and trash can, I am practically invisible. Far as I know.

In case you are wondering, my trusty Red Solo Cups not only help produce bountiful blooms (because I do it all for you, have I mentioned?) and address my bodily needs. But in a stroke of brilliance, it also dawned on me that I could use my cup contents for additional good.

Pee it forward, so to speak.

Sloshing RSC in hand, at the end of a greenhouse session, I now walk through my perennial beds and rock gardens, broadcasting liquid gold onto my less deer-tolerant plants.

"Take that, Miss Doe!  That Hosta doesn't seem so delicious anymore, does it? High-yah!"
[Me, making karate chop hand-motions toward imaginary deer while flinging fountains of my own urine into my own yard from a Red Solo Cup.]
"This isn't the salad bar at Sizzler, sister. Move along."

Greg just read this draft, and among other gentle suggestions, he pointed out that I might want to promise never to put a pee flower in a beautiful bride's hair. Excellent point.

Apropos of nothing, behold Blue the Cow Dog. Just being her beautiful and bossy self while supervising greenhouse work.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Springing into Joy

For a couple of days every year, usually along about February, I wake up and think, “Why, why, why do I live here?” Then I pull the covers back up over my head and moan. Long, pitiful, sorry-for-myself, moany-moans of misery.

But it never lasts.

A day like today eventually arrives to kick me in the seat of the pants and remind me:  This. This is why you live in this particular spot in this particular part of Montana. And this is why you love it.

Nine little pairs of mating robins are scuttling and scampering all over Flower Farm, grabbing up nest construction materials, like daylily foliage and other perennial debris I left standing last fall for just this reason. Well. Possibly the reason was procrastination before the first hard snow. Things looked pretty ratty all winter long. But now, everything worked out. See? I knew I was doing it right.

Yesterday, I scattered some drier lint at the base of a few trees. Today, it's all gone. It makes my heart smile to know some perfect, beautiful, speckled aqua eggs will soon be pillowed by fuzzy cast-off fibers from Greg’s socks and underpants. Robin's egg blue on Jockey and Hanes' remnants. Swoon.

Crowns of peonies and bleeding hearts have called early spring’s bluff, stretched their cell memories, and broken through the soil in their annual miracle of survival and rebirth. For sure, early spring still has a few cold snaps and snowstorms up her sleeve, but these first brave plants stubbornly refuse to pay her any mind. Not today, with sunlight glinting on their tender green tippy-tops and egging them on toward future glory.

I can’t wait for a lazy afternoon a few months from now, when the bleeding hearts will stand fully upright and stretch their arms wide, draped by graceful arches of blossoms, and my grandson Evan will giggle:  “Grandma! Let’s pick one and do the naked lady in the bathtub!”

Stay tuned. When the day comes, I'll post a photo, and you too can enjoy the naked lady in the bathtub. Fine. Call us immature. But here at Flower Farm, the bleeding heart version of a naked lady in the bathtub is hysterically funny. Especially if you are a seven-year-old boy.

Newspaper shreds, sawdust and leftover produce the deer were kind enough to leave alone (thank you, Yard Deer; thank you, Blue the Cow Dog, for chasing the Yard Deer) has transformed into rich black compost down below, and I can’t wait to sink in my shovel and wheelbarrow a few loads into our cutting beds and perennial gardens. Maybe I’ll even brew some compost tea.

There is work to be done. Lawn to rake, baby weeds to pull, seeds and bulbs to plant, root clumps to divide and move. The greenhouse is pulling me in.

This Montana day, this Montana season, inspires me to kick back the covers. Go outside. Feel the joy and renewal that follows the long cold winter. So I leap up, ready for it all, eager for it all, energized by it all.

In the spring, I am more fully myself and fully alive than any other time of year. More loaded with optimism and faith in tantalizing possibilities yet to be revealed. 

I am ready.  For sore muscles, and pink sunburned shoulders, and tired grins, and dirty fingernails, and dinner at ten o’clock at night.

Spring is here, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  Happy Spring.

Oh Ye, of Little Faith

BEFORE. AFTER. A new friend who runs an estate sale business. Patience to wait until the last sale day, even knowing amazing tre...