Yard/Garden Plans and Spring Fashion

Good morning my friends!

Or I guess afternoon by the time you will be reading this. It’s set to be an absolutely gorgeous Sunday here in Southeast Missouri! Yesterday Michael and I picked up 20 bags of mulch, some potting soil, rose food, lawn food, and Preen weed preventer. We spent our day together yesterday, and now today we’re each on our own to get some things done. It’s currently sunrise and pretty chilly outside, so I’m taking this time to get a blog post out for you and a little meal prep done for Michael, then it’s outside I go!

This has been quite the rough week – in case you noticed a Thursday post didn’t go out. I caught my youngest son’s cold and was sick Monday and Tuesday. I also had some teenager drama to deal with – I’ve been fortunate that both of my boys have had good heads on their shoulders their entire childhoods. And they still do, but my oldest pushed some boundaries and is trying to “spread his wings” as I heard it stated. And some of his judgment calls haven’t been the greatest.

I’m still fortunate that he isn’t doing anything bad, and a little correction now should resolve things. But it can be hard to switch to “tough mom” mode, particularly when he is so much like me and we are very close. But my first role in his life is parent, and sometimes the discipline must come out. It doesn’t come without a toll, however. I’ve not had anxiety in a very long time but I sure did this week. Being sick and dealing with something emotionally draining at the same time has been a major challenge on my stress levels and on my sleep.

It’s proving to be a slow recovery, especially on the sleep. I’m going to enact some sleep hygiene rules that I had set for myself while struggling with insomnia, to ensure that I don’t end up back in that state again. I am very lucky that I have an amazing and supportive human in my corner, too. Michael has been such a huge help, from talking me through things and giving me ideas, to just squeezing me tight and giving me some needed comfort.

The boys are at their dad’s for the weekend and I will be heading off to pick them up this afternoon. Tomorrow starts a brand new week, and I’m hoping that everything will start to move forward.

On the meal planning front, I actually didn’t plan anything for next week – I was sick on Tuesday, my normal meal planning/grocery order day. So I just threw a bunch of usual items into my order and decided I’ll wing it. If you’ve been around for a long time then you know I used to love creating recipes. But with Michael and Gabriel around now I find it’s a lot easier to plan ahead for so many people to find things that will please them all – especially Gabriel who is even pickier than Hunter was at that age, which I didn’t think was even possible!

This last week got completely away from me with everything that was going on. I had planned some quesadillas for one meal, and a lovely roasted veggie dish at another meal – and none of it got made! Which may be a plus, since I didn’t get to plan for this week. I can just make those meals for this week instead. The poor boys lived on sandwiches, leftover pizza that Michael had from the weekend before, and Chinese that I ordered on Monday, which was enough for two days.

I don’t recommend ordering out and avoid it except on occasion. But it is nice that the place I order Chinese takeout from has a vegan-friendly (although sadly definitely not oil-free) dish on their menu. It’s a tofu and veggie dish in a Hunan sauce that is pretty tasty. I always order with the noodles, too, instead of rice. Both boys, Michael and myself actually prefer the noodles to the rice, so it’s kind of nice to have something we all agree on!

While the meals didn’t get made this week (Michael’s dinner and lunch did, because I made it on the weekend before I got sick), here is the plan:

Here are the photos of the Salmon Salad and the Black Bean Salad, plus a stuffed sweet potato that I made for lunch one day and managed to snap a picture of to help fill in the gaps!

I’ve also been trying my hand lately at video shooting and editing, which it turns out I actually enjoy more than photography because there is just so much more creativity and fun things you can do with video. I’ve been shooting primarily on my iPhone for Instagram right now – no YouTube yet – but I’m loving making reels of my cooking and kitchen work. If you’re not following me on Instagram yet, I would love for you to see what I’ve been up to! You can check out my Instagram account at plantbasedloren. I just posted the latest reel over there of the healthy banana muffins I often make Michael for breakfast.

The one thing that has truly brought me some joy this week, is my Spring and Summer wardrobe makeover! I always add a few new pieces each year, but this year has been a bit of a wardrobe transformation with the change in work situations which is likely to be permanent. My professional wear has been retired to a rack in the basement, and I’ve been building a more fun, casual wardrobe since I’m now working from home.

I don’t have to worry about whether the outfits are A) business casual, or B) suitable to a dress code. That means I can buy tops that are V-cut, a little cropped, spaghetti strap, etc. I can wear shorts and cropped pants, and my skirts and dresses can be above the knee. It’s so freeing!

TJ Maxx Haul

Michael and I went to TJ Maxx yesterday to do a browse and I came home with a haul. Their dressing rooms are still closed because of Covid, so I have to buy, try on at home, and return. I ended up keeping about half of what I bought – three flirty, floral tops and a blue and white stripped dress that will look lovely with the new tan waist belt and sandals I have arriving soon from ThredUP. And I picked up a beautiful white Vince Camuto sweater – as if I really needed another white sweater!

I’ve ordered items from Chic Wish, petal & Pup, and ShowPo, and ordered a pair of white crop leggings from Amazon. My color palette is very much white, pink, sage and periwinkle for the upcoming Spring & Summer season. Now to hope that everything fits and there isn’t too much returning and exchanging!

I’ve never ordered from Petal & Pup before so I’m not sure what to expect from their dresses. But I have a lace top and pink skirt from Chic Wish that I am absolutely in love with, so I can’t wait for the new skirts to arrive! The ShowPo order I’m a little skeptical about – I’ve ordered from them several times, but the sizing is usually off because it’s an Australia-based company that doesn’t necessarily get their US sizes right. Sometimes my normal size fits and sometimes it’s tiny.

My normal size in the shorts already showed up in my email invoice as an AU size 6, and the current pair of shorts I have from them that just barely fit me say 8 on the tag – but the pink shorts also have an elastic waist so it might be okay – we shall see! The dresses are a toss-up. I bought in the same size as other tops and dresses I’ve ordered from there – sometimes they fit and sometimes they swallow me whole and I have to exchange for a smaller size. If the shorts and dress both fit and neither need exchanged, it will be a miracle.

That is the most frustrating part about ordering online – but honestly, the brick and mortar stores just can’t keep up with online fashion. I would love to purchase all of these lovely items from local stores, but they just don’t carry fashion like this. TJ Maxx is the only store in my town that has items that fit my style. We have a shopping mall, but it’s very hit or miss, and definitely geared more towards teens and 20-somethings.

We also have stores like Target & Kohls outside of the mall. But again, they are very hit or miss. Actually, Kohls is just a miss – they have a teenage girl section, and a frumpy older women’s section that offers very little for those of us aged from upper 20’s to upper 40’s. And they definitely don’t have much for small-framed, petite women like myself (anyone else in the 5’3 club??). Even their smaller sizes are still meant for women who are full-figured in the hips and thighs, which I frustratingly am definitely not.

I feel like these companies need to watch their online competitors and adjust accordingly if they hope to compete with a web-based world that is forcing their brick and mortar closures. The styles and the fits that they offer are lackluster in comparison.

The sun is up and shining brightly now (it’s nearly 9am), and it’s warmed us up to whopping 41 degrees. I need another 20 degrees to be comfortable out there, but by the time it’s that warm I will already be on the road. So I will have to bundle myself up and get to work. On the yard and garden plan for today:

  1. Water my tiny little sprouting seedlings in the raised bed (we’ve had tons of rain but they’re hiding out under a cold frame/greenhouse cover)
  2. fertilize my roses and mulch the beds around them
  3. spread preen in the garden beds and lawn
  4. start mulching the large bed in the front yard, and replace any landscape fabric that has ripped or shifted
  5. if there is time left – mow the lawn and spray for weeds (I suspect this will need to wait for another day)

I also need to till up my tomato bed and work in the bone meal that I bought yesterday, but tomatoes won’t go in for about another month so I don’t need to be in a big hurry. I have pots needing filled with soil so they can be planted with flowers in another month or so once the lows begin raising up above 35 at night and the danger of frost is past.

At this time of year it really is more yard work than gardening. The grass is starting to come back to life – and the weeds always outpace the actual grass, so this is the time for weed control if I want to keep it from getting out of hand. I sow my grass seed in the fall so that it can sprout and take root before winter. That way I can spread pre-emergent weed control in the spring (this is the kind that prevents weeds that come up from seed, like crab grass, from growing and taking over the lawn) without having to worry about it killing my grass seed. I also spray a 2-4-D weed killer on the lawn to hit all of the broad-leaf weeds that come up from root rather than seed (goggles, gloves and mask are a must for this). Both the pre-emergent and the weed killer will need done again around the 1st of July . I also re-mulch everything since leaf cleanup around here sadly takes a lot of the mulch along with it.

About mid-April, the fun stuff begins! I get to plant the rest of my vegetables and pretty flowers. I’m planning to buy a new trellis for my clematis since it’s outgrown the one I had up for it. I’ll get to start more herbs in my herb garden too, and the strawberries and lilac bush should be in bloom. Since I’ve finally sorted out my garden situation (my back yard struggles for enough sun to grow vegetables, so I’ve had a lot of trial and error the last four years), I can start to work more on flowers and I’m very excited for this!

Okay lovelies, it’s time to stop talking and start doing! I’m headed to bundle up and get outside. Thank you for reading, and I will see you back here again soon!


A Rambling September Life Update

Dear Friends,

First of all…I apologize for not getting a post up last Thursday. To those of you who have insomnia, you have my deepest sympathies! I used to have problems with this many moons ago, but it’s mostly gone the way of vaudevillians and parachute pants until recently. For some silly reason, I’ve been struggling with it again these last couple of weeks. I’ll lay in bed for an hour or two before falling asleep, then I’m wide awake sometime between the hours of 4 and 5 in the morning.

I was so tired Tuesday that I took a couple of hours of PTO and went home because I didn’t think I could make it through the afternoon without falling asleep at my desk. On my way home I picked up some new pillows and some decaf peppermint tea. When the kids went to bed at 8:30, I made some tea and then soaked for a long time in the tub while I drank it. I settled into bed just a little after 9, and I finally fell asleep in less than an hour. I woke up early again, but I was able to force myself back to sleep. I was able to repeat this last night, so I think there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank goodness for that, because Tuesday was also the first day of my Fall semester at Umass Amherst University Without Walls. Both classes are writing classes, so I really need my brain to function well enough for college-level writing. That is definitely going to require sleep, and caffeine…lots of caffeine!

My boys also start their religion classes, called SRE for School of Religious Education, at St. Vincent Parish next week. From that point on they will have class every Wednesday night, except for during holiday weeks, from now until May. Hunter is in 8th grade this year, which means he will be making his confirmation this upcoming Easter season. For any of my fellow Catholics out there, you know that this is a big milestone in his life that he’s been working towards for the last seven years.

Life in the gardening world is…still rather interesting. It’s September, and I finally have tomatoes. They’re all still green, but the squirrels haven’t been bothering them. I’m not sure if they’ve forgotten about them, or moved on to food that can actually be stored for the winter, but there is a slim amount of hope that I will still have a few tomatoes before the season ends!

Everything else I’ve begun breaking down. The peppers are still going, but I pulled the green beans, emptied the potato containers, and left the garden plot bare. The crabapple tree hasn’t come down yet, so I didn’t plant any fall vegetables. At this point it’s too late to plant them so I’m just letting it go until next Spring. I need to get the plot tilled under again, so I will be doing that in the next week or two. If I’m being honest, it was on my list to do last weekend, but I never got around to it. By the time I was done mowing, trimming and pulling weeds, I was over the yard work!

Another project I had on the list last Spring that I still haven’t gotten around to doing is the herb drying rack. I talked to Dad about cutting the boards down to the size that I need, but I never made it around to taking them to him. Now is when I really need the rack, too, because the time is here to cut the herbs that are overtaking my planters and get them dried and stored to use over the winter. I have some fresh ones growing in my kitchen window, but they’re pretty spindly and aren’t going to get me very far over the winter. It just isn’t the same as growing them outdoors!

Truth be told, I’m ready to put the gardening season behind me. We are 17 days away from it officially being Fall! My gears have already shifted to camping, baking, making trips to the orchard for apples and pumpkin butter and mums, and buying a few new wardrobe pieces….most of which were delivered today. It was like Christmas came early when I got home this evening! Jeans, a couple of button downs, leggings, a big comfy sweater, plus new ruffle trim pants from Charlotte Russe and a couple of pairs of earrings. My favorite purchase is a pair of J. Crew black pumps from Thred Up that I cannot wait to wear!


The change in seasons always means a little beauty and fashion updating for me. I filter through my wardrobe and get rid of a few items that I haven’t worn in a while or are worn out, then replace them with some new pieces. I also like to add a couple of new lipsticks and nail colors in season-friendly colors.

I went to Target on Monday morning and bought a tube of NYX Lingerie matte liquid lipstick, in the shade Embellishment. It’s a perfect nude mauve color for Fall, and I already have a couple of reds – True Red and Divine Wine, both L’Oreal Color Riche lipsticks – so I’m set for the season. I also added a new mauve blush to the mix, but that’s about it for me on the makeup front. I’m not a big makeup person beyond my beloved lip and nail colors. All of my makeup fits in a little basket in the corner of my bathroom counter…except for my lipstick. I have a makeup bag stuffed full of lip colors that goes with me everywhere!

I still need to work on the nail colors. I had an entire basket full of polish, and most of them were several years old. I turn my air up to 80 degrees during the day while I’m gone at work, and my nail polish has started to suffer from it. My new nail colors that I bought this summer are okay, but the bottles of Essie polish that were 2-3 years old started to get thick and sticky. There really isn’t any saving them once that happens. So I tossed the sticky ones and put the rest in the top shelf of my refrigerator door.

By the time I was done tossing the bad bottles I only had about a dozen left – at least half of which were some shade of green (who wants to guess my favorite color?)! So now I need to restock some pinks, reds, and neutrals. At $9.00 per bottle, I’ll just pick a new one up here and there over the next month or two until I have a decent collection of colors again.

Also on the horizon – Hunter is borderline obsessed with doing graffiti lately. He’s actually become really good at it, and he made us all go down the riverfront on Monday so he could spend two and a half hours decorating the wall in chalk. I helped him fill in the letters in purple to help speed things along, and then he started giving me grief because I was taking too long to get it filled in and was wasting chalk. So I went faster and used less…and you can definitely tell which letters Hunter did and which ones I did!


I guess I’ll leave the graffiti to the master. I also secretly hope that the next time we take a trip to the riverfront for him to leave his mark, it’s about 10 degrees cooler than it was that day! It feels like Summer isn’t going to let go for a while here in Southeast Missouri. But my friends, Fall has definitely arrived in my heart!