White Dahlias and Pink Hydrangeas


We planted these two dahlias April 20. Our neighbor accidentally mowed them over a month or so ago, which set them back (he took out a young peony too and it never recovered).

After losing our flowers to a mower (neighbor claims he can’t tell what’s a weed or not) Garrett edged and mulched around our mailbox as a precaution. Neighbor was also complaining about the wood chips we had in the mailbox area washing into the street in a heavy rain, so hopefully replacing the wood chips with mulch will be neater. 

We just returned from a trip to Knoxville to find our dahlias in bloom, and more on the way. It’s cool that they look just like their picture on the bulb package.

Since this week’s forecast holds days of storms, I figured I might as well rescue these blooms in case a heavy rain knocks them out. Not that we usually have storms when they’re forecasted, but it’s a good excuse anyway. I also cut some hydrangea blooms and paired them in vases. As Garrett helped me greedily harvesting blooms, we encountered more bounty from our yard–golf balls. Four of them: one in the back yard, one in a side yard, and two in the other side yard. Good grief.

Note: I guess technically the dahlias aren’t white…

Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

Arkansas, Trip

We spent the day in Bentonville checking out Crystal Bridges’ new Chihuly installation.

1. This has to be said upfront: Chihuly looks like Mad-Eye Moody. No judgment, but it’s worth mentioning.

2. Austin spent the whole time holding the baby and looking for a painting he claimed resembled Delaney. Since Austin was holding the baby, it meant I was pushing around an empty stroller which both gave me a start every time I looked at it and caused confusion among and lost me the goodwill of passersby. We found the painting and he and Garrett agree it looks like Delaney, but I think it looks more like Rose Byrne. 

3. Exhibit attendants constantly took away my water cups (even empty and with a lid, from their restaurant) and bottles, even when I offered to put it in my bag beneath the stroller. Exhibit to exhibit we were divested of the means to stay hydrated on a hot day, and by the time we reached the outdoor Chihuly section we were thirsty and footsore and sought out the restroom, since water fountains are traditionally nearby. Not so! This section is not completed, and the bathroom facility as yet is limited to portapotties. Luckily, bottled water and canned soda were available at $2 each at a sanctioned food truck.

4. Apart from taking our water, the attendants were friendly. One even broke with decorum to yell up and down the exhibit hall that a deer was visible outside on the grounds. The deer was sprinting in jerky movements, not sure which direction to take in a valley beyond our glass walls. It was an odd moment–a woman standing beneath a Chihuly chandelier bellowing in an art gallery, a deer panicking against a serene backdrop, and dozens of visitors, alerted by the attendant, pressed up against the glass taking pictures.

5. The Chihuly exhibit was worth visiting. The tickets were $20 each and we had a time slot but ended up going in twenty minutes early unintentionally. The information presented on Chihuly claims he was hooked on glass-blowing from the time he blew his first bubble. His technique and style differ from other glass artisans in that he doesn’t fight but rather embraces natural influences such as gravity. After he lost an eye in a car accident he gave up actively making glass and instead now directs a team of artists.

6. Chihuly in the Forest was even better, and this exhibit, as I understand it, is available for a longer time this summer than the indoor exhibit.  Saturday nights it lights up for added effect. As we strolled paths with hundreds of other people, taking in surprising clusters of bright glass flutes, it seemed just two things were on everyone’s mind: what about if it hails, and what kind of grass is that. The hail is a real concern with the weather we have had lately, and might have again next week. I imagine both the museum and the artist (or whomever now owns the art) have insurance, but also that Chihuly’s own philosophy of art would accept damage dealt by nature rather than rail against it. As for the grass, there were actually two types, one from sod in open stretches and one from seed around trees and against the walking path and installations. Seed mats had been used in places with good results, and Austin broke into an impromptu infomercial for seed mats.

7. Speaking of grass, there was an installation of a weedy yard with mushrooms and dandelions and crabgrass (“Bad Lawn” by Roxy Paine). It was making a point of viewing so-called “weeds” for their own benefit, a viewpoint I’ve heard before and to which I can be sensitive, even though Garrett and I like eradicating weeds. Garrett said it looked like our neighbor’s lawn. He told me the other day a coworker asked him if we drive around our neighborhood spying on the lawns and he told her yes, which sounds like just a joke but then I realized I tell him when our neighbors mow and report on the type of mower and the mow job. We get a kick out of lawn maintenance… in Bentonville near Austin’s apartment, we drove by a guy mowing his small side yard. An hour later when we passed that way again, he was still there mowing the same tiny space! A few houses down a woman was tackling an overgrown yard with a pair of shears. Looked tough.

8. We ate lunch at the on-site dining hall Eleven. I had chicken tenders (easy to eat while holding a baby) and Austin and Garrett had the special, a chili cheese dog. Austin took over holding Nenive (and then didn’t give her back or put her down, the end) and she stared at his plate while he ate, finally losing patience and grabbing a handful of chili cheese dog for herself. It was pretty cute, and also a brilliant moment of clarity that La Leche League, American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Sears all say to look for to indicate when it’s time to introduce foods to the baby.

White Walls

Home Project

Now we come to a post that pertains to the blog name.

One and a half years ago, Garrett and I bought a house that was beautiful, with tall ceilings and windows everywhere. The house’s only drawback was an odd paint job throughout. Cheesy yellow and bright robinsegg blue in the bedrooms, dark teal and burnt orange in the master bedroom, bloodred basement rooms like a horror movie and a nauseating tan-colored statement wall. We disliked the color in every room, with the exception of the master bath–a sage color. Soon after making an offer on the house, I met a painter and got an estimate. It was more than we wanted to pay, especially as we were making a down payment and looking at other repairs and updates.

At the time, Micaleigh had just begun painting her and Aaron’s cottage in Searcy. She was sending me snapchats of the progress, and I was in disbelief that she was doing it herself and it looked professional. She used terms like “cutting in” that I had never heard before, and I first had to realize that it was a real industry term and learn what it meant, and then demanded to know how she had learned it. She shrugged it off, which only astonished me more. It’s funny how realizing I hadn’t known something flabbergasted me.

Encouraged, I started painting. I found it enjoyable and relaxing, although when I couldn’t work as often as I wanted, I felt stressed about not making progress. Garrett and I had painted four rooms different shades of grey before we realized we actually preferred white walls–I was thinking of Scandinavian design while Garrett was thinking of modernism, both of which emphasize space, light and minimalism. As we are still painting over a year later and sometimes feel tempted to wish we had just hired a painter, I recall that we had originally favored a grey scheme and only later realized we disliked it and preferred white! So it is actually fortunate we didn’t have the house painted.

There are so many shades of white paint, it’s a little strange. I took foldout pamphlets of white shades and tried to match a white paint to the ceiling. I’ve got Behr Beach House White. It’s pretty close but looks best when I repaint the ceiling, too. And, the trim looks peachy offwhite in comparison to the white walls, so I’m repainting the trim, too.

It’s a coincidence that the name of the paint is Beach House White, but it is perfect for us–Garrett thinking of his pacific beaches in American Samoa and I thinking of Atlantic Florida beaches. We have so many houseplants, too, that look vibrant and fresh against the white walls in the streaming natural light. Every time we finish painting a wall or corner white and see the difference, we reflect that we are glad we chose to undertake the endeavor.

Teal Pots Project


Garrett and I couldn’t help ourselves at the garden center the other day. We had a few projects in mind as we shopped, but spotting the teal pots that perfectly match our front door color caused a fervor for a new curb appeal project.

By the time we left, we had two carts’ worth of soil, plants and pots, and rain had begun to pour. The rainfall recently has been rather heavy and had knocked off many of the blooms of the garden center plants, so I was concerned for my own new plants being thrashed and beat up on the journey home. We spread plastic sheets over the truck’s interior and set the plants inside. The rain halted when we got home and as we began working on our potted arrangements, but sprinkling occurred regularly the rest of the day.

We planted the small pots with two plants: cordyline australis and portulaca. The portulaca have juicy stems and leaves, a pretty texture next to the dry jutting blades of the cordyline. We chose flowerless portulaca that seemed healthy and large rather than smaller plants that already had the pretty flowers, so we are not sure what color we will have. Their water requirements slightly vary; lava rock rests in the bottom of the pots to aid drainage, and the cordyline’s roots are planted deeper than those of the portulaca, smaller plants. The pots are, obviously, mobile in case we need to move them for failure to thrive. We could also transplant either plant if they don’t seem to get along well.

I hope to see the cordyline’s red color deepen, and I expect the portulaca, which I haven’t planted before, to trail out of the pots. We’ll see how they fare over the next few weeks. There is more rainy weather in the forecast.