Saturday, July 16, 2016

Munsinger & Clemens Gardens

In all of the years I lived in Central Minnesota, I had never visited the Gardens! I knew they were up in St. Cloud, and I love flowers, but just never found the time to check them out. Thankfully, Tara had mentioned how she was supposed to have gone with friends, but something happened and they weren't able to go. I suggested we go the next day!

When she got home from work, she mentioned that it was pretty cloudy out, and that it was going to rain. I looked outside, and somehow convinced her that if there was going to be rain, we'd totally beat it with a visit to the Gardens.

It was around 5 minutes from her house, and she hadn't been there before either! She had even gone to college up there! HA! I didn't feel so bad after hearing that. Oh, and she's lived in the area her whole life.

Going to Munsinger & Clemens Gardens in July had some beautiful flowers, but I think it was towards the end of the spring blooming flowers so we probably missed the best viewing of flowers. I would say mid spring would be a wonderful time to take a walk through the gardens.

We started out in the Formal Garden. This plant, which I don't know what it is, really caught my attention. The small leaves are a deep purple, as you can see and is more shiny. The mature leaves are a lighter purple and more matte in appearance. It grows on a thick single stalk. I wish there had been a label near it to know what it was.

Many of the perennials were past their bloom and didn't get to see many of those. I'm guessing this next one is an orchid of some sort, but again, not sure of which variety. I just loved how beautiful it was. I really want to go back and take more pictures of it.

I've never really walked through a botanical garden before, and this was just wonderful to walk and enjoy. Now, I think in most places like this, I'm one who can sort of glance at the things around me, and I keep walking. I suppose "thankfully" many of the flowers I would've wanted to take lots of pictures of were already past their prime, because it literally could've taken me a few hours to enjoy every plant here if it had been a month ago.

The small plants are what I found enjoyable. Many I'd never seen before, and have decided they MUST go in my garden. Now, I'm guessing some may be shade plants, and that simply means I get to have a shade garden. I can handle that. aren't the colors on these awesome?!

As Tara and I walked through the garden, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be to have an estate, and then create a garden like these, where people could walk along paths and enjoy all varieties of plants! Yes, I like my little garden, but it's got a long way to go before it's anything I can brag about.

When we got to the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden, I was so disappointed that m phone wasn't capturing the colors and designs of the blooms. I'm not a huge rose fan, but the colors, like the one above were fabulous. This bright reddish pink, with the white I loved, but my phone didn't get it very well.

The rose above reminded me of a peony. All of the petals as a big flower head. It didn't make me think rose, but it was in the rose garden, and you could tell in person that it was. I wish again that they'd have given us an idea of the variety. I should call and ask. Make them walk like I did naming off all of the plants. lol

This one I totally loved the color. It looked like someone had flicked paint on the petals. You know what I didn't do though? I didn't take time to smell them. I'm sure that's unforgivable in some places. Next time? And yes, I realize it's pink, and I don't do pink, but that was just a cool design.

Again, I simply loved the color of this flower. I also like how it was at the peak of it's bloom. There's something gentle about this rose that made me wish I could pluck it. Of course, I could never bring myself to do something like that. I don't think I could ever grow a cut garden because I just want to enjoy the blooms until they disappear outside. It's the same with the photo below. It's such a soft color, and the blossom is so perfect.

What's neat about visiting here is that the gardens are only separated by a road. On the opposite side of the second garden is the Mississippi River. You can take a break from your stroll by sitting on one of the benches.

Down here, we saw some beautiful shade plants, and there was even a little cactus garden. I don't think I'll ever get over the variety of plants that God has created. None of us will ever have seen all that He's made! Some of the cactus was so strange! I was fascinated by them.

Ok, so here's what I found SO incredibly neat about the above plant. The center piece on the bottom right is where all of the leaves "fall" from. I took a closeup of it and it's on the bottom left. I know, I know, it's a bit blurry, but what's amazing is that the center is so tight, you can feel the spikes if you run your hand over it, but they're smooth along that center piece. The spikes don't stab you. Now, when the leaves fall open what you see in the top picture of the collage, they'll totally stick you if you touch them.

As we got toward the bottom of Munsinger Gardens, Tara and I both heard the peacocks calling out. I thought they might be wandering the grounds, but it turned out they were in their coop. Come to think of it, I never saw anyone who works/volunteers at the Gardens. Not surprising the birds weren't out, but they sure were beautiful.

We finished out tour by winding our way back up to Clemens Gardens. There were a variety of fountains we stopped to check out as we were walking, and this one struck me as interesting. Below where the water is coming out, the fountain is surrounded by bull heads. lol Each of the heads is spitting out a stream of water.

We had a marvelous time, and the best part? It's free! As we walked around, we noticed so many spots where a couple could take their wedding photos. I mean, how could you resist, especially when the Gardens are in full bloom? They're open daily through the season until 10pm. There's a gift shop, but unfortunately (or Fred might be thinking "fortunately") it was closed. I'm sure I would've come away with some sort of keepsake! Next time.

Have you ever visited a garden like this? What is your favorite flower?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Into The Garden With Gilmour & Giveaway

One of my favorite things to do once the good weather shows up is head outside to the garden. It always starts with my perennial garden. If you love being in the garden then you know how exciting it is when everything starts to come through the ground. With it being our first year in our new home, We have a lot to figure out with our lawn, well "lawn". I say it with quotations because the only lawn we have is directly in front of our house, and the rest of it is mostly crabgrass.

I reached out to Gilmour because when I worked at Menards, we had so many of their products in my hardware gardening section! I love working with products I'm not only familiar with, but believe in. It doesn't matter if you're a city dweller or from the country, when people came into my store, they knew what they wanted, and sakes alive if we weren't constantly down stocking because our stock always ran out! When they agreed to work with me on a review & giveaway, I was over the moon!

I was sent a hose, nozzle, wand, dual timer, and garden sprinkler! What a great selection to check out. Around my house, they're all necessary. First, let me say that when Fred and I combined our homes, some of the household items that were brought together left a lot to be desired. Let's do a comparison of a hose he had, and the hose we now have! I think you'll be able to tell that the first one is so bad, there was no need to pose it. lol

We don't have any great access to the backyard to water it. The lawn and my vegetable garden both need a hose that can go over a fence and not bend in such a way that the water flow is cut off. Thankfully the Flexogen hose does that job well! It has flexibility and is kink resistant. Exactly what we need.

I also wanted hanging plants along the front of our house, but the quandary in that was watering them. I'd either have had to take the plants down every time, brought the hose up on the porch, or tried to spray them from the yard. None of those were great options for me. Then along comes the 8 Pattern Front Control Watering Wand! THAT was fabulous! The watering wands were always what we in-store used for our garden center at work. They made watering the plants so much easier! Same thing for at home.

Of course you've seen my flower garden at the front of my house, and I have high hopes for what that will become as time goes by. This garden I like to water by hand. It's my opportunity to keep an eye on the weeds, and see if there are any pests I need to worry about. I was so glad to receive the thumb control nozzle because my hands sometimes get tired holding in the trigger of one. This, you simply push it up or back with your thumb!

Now the treat of all the items that were sent to me was the Heavy Duty Elevated Sprinkler. When I turned it on the first time, I was fascinated watching it. When they say it's a "gentle rain" that's exactly what they mean. I've actually considered pulling it up from the spot in the garden on a hot day, and just laying under it. I tried videotaping it with my phone, but all it catches is the center piece spinning. It doesn't capture the "rain" from it very well.

I took the above picture before the garden on the left was planted. Now the sprinkler sits between both boxes, and showers them gently every morning with the dual timer I have set up. That couldn't have come at a better time! I didn't want to have to rely on Fred to water the grass and my vegetable garden while I was gone because he had so much other stuff on his plate. All I had to do was set the timer for the right and left, and off we went!

Fred did call me and told me he set it up so that the hoses would run at different times because we have low water pressure. Running them at the same time wasn't putting out much water. I'm glad he was paying attention enough to know that. Setting it up was incredibly easy. Following the steps on the dial is pretty much it. The only issue I had was pulling the battery door out the first time. It was a little hard to squeeze, but after the first time, I haven't had any issues. I'll be interested to know how the battery life is after running every morning for 3 weeks!

I'm glad to know that when we go on vacation in August and then to Peru for the mission trip in October, I can set this up, and no one will have to worry about watering for me!

Now, let's talk about the Gilmour website. I don't typically talk about websites when I'm doing a product review, but their site isn't just any site. And no, they didn't ask me to write about this. I'm just so impressed with it, I couldn't NOT write about it.

If you need inspiration, guidance, and education on all things gardening or outdoor at home, their site is where you should start! Yes, they do tell you which of their products to use in different settings around your yard, but they also help you learn about your yard and garden. One of the most helpful tools I think they have there is the lawn size calculator. Not sure how much hose you might need? It will help you figure that all out! I could totally spend days on their site learning and learning. I must warn you, once you get started going through their tips and techniques, you'll have a hard time stopping!

One thing I wanted to learn from their site was about the best uses of the nozzle settings! Check it out:

Garden: a light rain
Clean: for after you're done working to clean up the floor beneath you
Shrub: good for soaking the roots
Jet: will give a strong stream of water to a far spot
Sweep: a light stream that will come out like a fan
Soft Wash: a gentle flow for any plants

Now for the fun part! The giveaway!! I'm giving away a hose and a thumb nozzle! Get ready to go Into the Garden.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Getting Started With Essential Oils

Ok, so I'll admit that I'm a cynic when it comes to a lot of things in life. I have to say, that I was the same when it came to essential a degree. Years ago, when my daughter started having ear infections, her godmother suggested using a cut onion, lay it on her ear, and it was somehow able to draw the infection out. I gave that suggestion a stink eye, and never actually tried it.

Several years ago, when my youngest was having lots of ear infections, someone suggested using tea tree oil in the early states of the ear infection to help get rid of it. I have no idea why, but I tried it, and it seemed to work. It kind of has that Vicks Vaborub scent to it, so I loved it. lol My son on the other hand, not so much. He even comes to me now with the bottle and a Qtip if he starts to think he has an ear infection coming.

Spring forward however many years later, and I just purchased my starter kit of essential oils. Aside from tea tree oil, I'm completely clueless about essential oils. There's so much out there, and their uses it seems are endless. I'm working with Kelley to learn more, but I'm worse than an amateur, so she's got her work cut out for her.

She did give me an idea for oils to use for a sugar scrub for feet. I wanted to have something for this summer. I really like the light scent! It turned out great. I'll probably try various scents as we go through different seasons.

I haven't used a diffuser before, and have only used it once since the unboxing of the oils. I actually liked how it was just a hint of a scent, and it was actually very relaxing to have it on next to me while I was chilling out. I think my only "issue" having the diffuser will be remembering to use it. I mostly only hang out in my bedroom when I'm about ready to sleep.

The biggest reason I wanted to try out essential oils was because, well, two reasons, I wanted to see if I could find a natural way to reduce my stress, and I want to add more natural elements to my life. Honestly, if I could go all natural and organic in my life and family, I'd be a happy camper. It's just making the change that's not easy.

Do you ever think back to Native Americans and the way they used what was growing around them? That's what I keep coming back to. Oils have been used for centuries. How in the world did we get so far away from that? If it worked for them, why wouldn't it work for us?

I've already made an orange-lime sugar scrub with the oils I ordered. I wanted something that was fruity and reminded me of a summer day. Now I'll have to make one for fall once it gets here, and I'm sure I'll have to try them for winter and spring!

I'm looking forward to learning more, and putting to use what I learn about the oils I have. If you have any mixtures you like or recipes, I'd love for you to share them! This wasn't a sponsored post. I bought the starter kit from Kelley! If you're interested in getting started, be sure to find her: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! She's happy to get you started, and is a great support.

What have you used essential oils for before?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Like A River From Its Course Book Review & Kindle Giveaway

Reading, it's one of my great joys. I have always loved historical fiction, and most of what I read is set back in the 1800s. When I was offered to review Like a River from Its Course, I was glad to have the opportunity. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that it would cover a hard topic. What I wasn't aware of was how hard I was going to experience this.

Like a River from Its Course Kelli Stuart
Now, I say "hard" because the author has captured the essence of the war time. This book isn't something you just gloss over or read lightly. You make an investment when you start reading this novel.

We're introduced to 4 main characters in 1941. The book actually starts on my oldest son's birthday. We then follow Maria, Ivan, Frederick, and Luda over the next several years. I was surprised at how much the characters became real to me. You know, reading this book, that this is how many people lived their lives, either in fear or with twisted determination. What also surprised me is paralleling this book with things that are happening in our world today. It even scares me more than a little.

Kelli writes each character with a realness that you might expect in a documentary. Maria, a young girl whose family's world is turned upside down. Ivan, her father, and the horrors he sees and lives through. Frederick, the Nazi who has searched for his father's acceptance, all of his life. Luda, the one who tugs at my heart the most, the girl who's been broken from the start.

Here's a synopsis of the characters:

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination
are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism.

Purchase a copy:

I know this might sound like a heavy review, and I admit, it is, but this is such an excellent book, the hope that honestly lies throughout the entire story, makes the weight of it worth the read. You will be gripped by their lives just as I was. Now, read on to find out more about the novel, and how you have the chance to win a great prize package!

Travel back in time in Kelli Stuart's new novel, Like a River from Its Course, as the city of Kiev is bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union. This sweeping historical saga takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize Pack.

like a river - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
like a river - prize collage (1) 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

like a river - enterbanner

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

We haven't had a lot of opportunity to get down to D.C. because our weekends are always so full! When Liquified Creative reached out to me offering tickets to go to the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle, I jumped on it! They didn't ask me to post about our day, but we had so much fun, I wanted to share. I really did all of this for my husband who could live off of barbecued food.

Friday was the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle Media Day, but since both of my bosses were gone, I wasn't able to get over there. Saturday we dropped the boys off at church for Water Wars, and headed down to D.C. We found easy parking at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. You could easily take the Metro in. We only  paid $13 for the whole day. Not bad!

When we first got there, it was a little confusing. We walked in, and no one was doing anything. Turned out we entered down by where the competitors spend the weekend making their creations. They're not allowed to do sampling, and simply wait to be judged. Those are some serious competitors.

As soon as we passed all of the competitors, we came to the food sampling. Oh my word, Fred was in barbecue heaven. His first sampling, and probably his favorite, was Smoke Shack BBQ! They had a wall of awards and more trophies than I could count. They were playing music, and the guys grilling were dancing away.

From there we just sampled our way through street after street. We both loved the Iowa pig farmers. Their pork was juicy and flavorful! One of the highlights for me was Bright Farms. They have locally grown produce, and their tomatoes were delicious! I think that's what I liked about this experience was seeing all of the food that's local, and are being sold in Giant stores in our area.  This was at the Giant Local Flavors Tent. I'd never heard of Yuengling's Ice Cream. Oh my, my, my their Black & Tan was spectacular! We also tried Trimino Protein Water. Now, I'm not a fan of flavored water, but the strawberry lemonade wasn't bad. Man, I love sampling things instead of spending money on something I might not like.

We meandered up and down, playing games to win: water bottles, a sample size of peanuts, t-shirts, and more. All along the way we were trying food and drinks. I think one of my favorite lines to get in was the Nature's Promise bus. Each person was stamped as they went in, and we were able to pick one full size product! I had no idea there was so much. I grabbed dish washing liquid, and Fred nabbed bbq sauce. Lowe's was pretty cool. You could play a game, Fred won a shirt, and kids could do a wood project! How great is that?

I loved the grab and go snack spots. Snyder's had sample pretzels, people were walking around handing out granola bars, Tums chews, and even Rolaids. lol I guess those last two things could be helpful after a day eating all things barbecue!

Giant had a health and wellness tent! As you walked through their line, they asked a health related question, and gave you the opportunity to talk to people in the health industry. There was also a dental bus where I think people could get exams. I'm going next week so I didn't have to worry about that. I think both are great ideas for people who might not have dental coverage.

We really had an amazing time! We experienced just about everything we could in the four + hours we were there. Our feet were dog tired by the time we left, and our bellies were very full. I'm looking forward to the fun and festivities next year. I'd image for their 25th year, they'll have some special things on the menu!

What's your favorite barbecued food to eat?

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.