Jenyfer Matthews
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July 29th, 2014
Minnesota Happy

The kids and I drove to Minnesota on Friday – one long drive from mid-Michigan, but it didn’t seem so bad since I was so happy to be on my way and to get there.

I’d like to say I’m knee-deep in the water but it’s been a cold wet year so the water is freaking cold. I have been out in my kayak however.

Jen Kayak

That’s about as close to the water as I’m getting unless there is a serious change in the forecast between now and the end of the week – notice I am wearing shorts, a bathing suit, and a fleece jacket! The kids not only jumped into this inland lake but also ran in and out of Lake Superior which is a seriously cold lake on a hot day. Brrrr!

I hadn’t realized how much I needed a break until I got here. I guess non-stop tennis tournaments will do that to you even if you aren’t the one playing. I had plans to try and get some writing done in the evenings while I was here but so far that hasn’t happened. I’ve been so relaxed that pretty much the minute I sit down I fall asleep! I imagine it is what people who have narcolepsy must feel like. I frequently don’t sleep all that well when I’m away from home but here I can barely stay awake!

Our vacation this year is much more abbreviated than our vacations in past years, the kids and I are going to do what we can to make the most of it before it is time to head back to Michigan and our routine. Six days left… come on sunshine!

July 24th, 2014
Time for Fun!

I worked two days this week and now it’s time for vacation! It seems like yesterday I was putting this on the calendar at work and it was snowing outside – where does time go?!

It isn’t a bad time to go either. Things are sort of in a lull-waiting-for-things-to-happen at work. And the raspberries are pretty much waning while the tomatoes are just gearing up. I trimmed some basil and made some pesto to put in the freezer. I’m only gone for a week so I’ll likely be back in time to jump back in with the garden.

I’m trying hard to remind myself everyday that it isn’t about the destination but about the journey – so I while I’m rushing to and fro I try to appreciate the blue sky and the clouds and to notice which flowers are blooming. Time is passing faster than I’d like this summer but in general I have nothing to complain about :)

July 23rd, 2014
Something’s Gotta Give

There is only so much time in a day and way too much do lately.

My daughter arrived home from her week in Florida playing at a national tennis tournament late Friday evening and we got up bright and early on Saturday morning to go to another tournament about an hour away. I probably should have skipped this one for her but it seemed like a good idea and she said she wanted to do it when I asked her. So we went and though she was exhausted by the end, she managed to play very well and also finish pretty highly.

I’m pleased she was doing well, however because she was doing well it meant she kept playing on Monday… and then again on Tuesday – which meant that I had to miss work. It took me long enough to find my current job and I like it enough that I was slightly worried about missing work for a tennis tournament when few people who don’t have children who play high level sports really understand why parents do it. The timing was also less than great because I am leaving for vacation on Friday. Oops.

Another thing that is slipping through my fingers this summer is my kitchen garden. By the looks of it, there will only be tomatoes and basil this year – the seeds I planted are pretty far behind to actually produce anything this year. I guess I’ll just have to make some time to visit the farmers market instead!

And I still haven’t had the time to sand the second wooden deck chair or to start the quilting on the quilt top I made and is sitting ready to go… oh well, there is always tomorrow, right?

July 18th, 2014
Finders Keepers

I was on the way to take my daughter shopping when I spotted these beauties on the curb in my neighborhood. I did a quick u-turn and went to get them – no way they would have been there when we got back.


They have hanging hooks in them so someone had been using them as decoration – but based on the looks of the frame they were actually a window at one point.

I don’t have a good place to hang them for decoration, and I also think I can probably come up with a better use for them. The idea of turning them into an interesting headboard occurred to me. I also though about making a couple of end tables out of them. I’m going to mull it over for a while. I’m sure I’ll come up with something!

July 16th, 2014
Recycling Project

The office where I’m working had four boxes of appreciation awards leftover from a long ago project that never actually happened. Many, many of them were thrown away long before I started working there and many were re-used in other ways, sometimes as gag gifts. By the time I arrived on the scene there were three boxes left and the receptionist decided that two of them needed to be thrown out. That is where I came in.

This is what the award looked like:


The glass globe is so pretty, I could not just let them be thrown away. I thought there must be something that could be done with them – even if it was just using them as suncatchers in the garden.

I took a couple home too see how hard it would be to separate the globe from the base. At it turned out, it wasn’t difficult at all in most cases – one good thump with a rubber mallet did it.


Once I figured that out, I started bringing home boxes of awards every day until I had rescued the two dozen that were destined for the trash!

As it turns out, I discovered that the base of the award also had a layer of glass. After the first award I whacked, I wore my safety glasses. Some of globes broke off more cleanly than others.


A nice clean break vs. this one:


This one is particularly bad – the worst of any of the ones that didn’t break away cleanly. But that won’t matter so much if I were to set it in the garden – unless a worm passing by beneath were to cut itself!

I have plenty to work with, whatever I decide to do with them – this isn’t even all of them!


(I used the small hammer to chip away any smaller pieces of glass that didn’t come off cleanly the first time)

Here was one idea I had:


And it occurred to me that I could perhaps find a pretty hanging light fixture and remove the bulb sockets and replace them with these for a nice outdoor suncatcher. Or if I might even be able to build some sort of garden art with them.

I’m going to think on it for a while (which is code for they will sit in a box in my house now!)

July 14th, 2014
One Down, One to Go

I got one wooden deck chair sanded this weekend…


One more to go.

I’ve also been tending my garden. The seeds I started probably aren’t going to amount to much since I started them too late. The asparagus is going crazy however so I think I’m good to go with beginning to harvest it next year. The tomatoes and the basil are also doing pretty well. But I’m kind of glad that nothing else is doing so much, including my apple tree, because the raspberries are keeping me more than a little busy. Last year I got one large ziplock bagful. I’m already on my fifth bag this year and there is no sign they are slowing down just yet.

One day’s picking, which took about an hour:


I made a cobbler with these.

What with working an office job now, I can much more fully appreciate the fact that tending a large kitchen garden that was doing well in all respects would be a full time job in itself!

July 12th, 2014
Robin Update

The nest is still on top of the pergola but the robin family seems to have moved on because I am able to be in the back yard for long periods picking my raspberries and have not been attacked. I hope all of the babies made it – I mowed the grass a couple of days ago and did not see any feathers or any other evidence that the one I tried to rescue died – not in the yard anyway…

July 11th, 2014
Sporatic Bursts of Activity

I’ve worked every day this week, which is a good thing because my daughter left today for a tennis tournament in Florida and someone has to pay for it! It is her first trip away with a coach and she’ll be gone for a week. She left an hour ago and I’m already having mommy withdrawals. I left a day early from last weekend’s tournament and found that difficult enough.

Work itself has been less than stimulating – several projects are all in hover mode so it is a lot of sit around and wait. I keep hearing I’m going to miss these quiet days when things get going. That may be true but days pass s-l-o-w-l-y when you are merely trying to look busy.

I’m busy in the garden though. Who knew it could take so long to pick raspberries? I go out in the evening to pick what is ripe for the day and before I know it an hour has passed. I guess I’m glad that this seems to be an off year for the apple tree or I’d be drowning in fruit to can before long. At least with the raspberries I can freeze them for a convenient moment.

My plan for the weekend is to get a little more work done on the deck chair refinishing. I am hoping to get one chair sanded and ready to go and move on to the second. Maybe I’ll get them done before snow flies.

And now the countdown begins: one week til my daughter comes home, two weeks until I go on vacation!

July 8th, 2014
Did Something Right

Not pruning the raspberry canes back last fall was the right choice. I went out to check on how things were progressing yesterday evening (having been out of town since Thursday evening) and holy Toledo were there a lot of berries ready to go:


There were many that I’d already missed the window on but there are still plenty, plenty more coming. I see pies, cobbler, and jam in my future.

Bring it on!

July 2nd, 2014
Robin Update

I have been keeping an eye on the robins since the failed robin rescue mission. I haven’t seen the baby that fell out of the nest since the day after, but I did see that the other babies were stretching and flapping around in the nest two days after that (after a night of bad thunderstorms). The parent robins have been closely patrolling the yard.

Today the boy from next door came over to say that he’d hit a wiffle ball over the fence and it had landed on the pergola over our deck and could I get it for him please. Okay…. I went out cautiously and looked around. No robins. I retrieved the ball and returned it.

I grabbed my ladder while I was at it!