Blogger Garden Tour Series

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Side garden against the garage
A few weeks ago I was standing in my back yard raking up leaves (again) when I started to think about other gardens around me and how cool it would be to go on a few blogger garden tours. I wanted to actually go to their homes to see their gardens, what they've done, how they take care of them and what they'd love to see in their garden in the future.

After running around in my head about how I could organize this I thought... hey I'm a blogger (guessing I'm blogging again??), why don't I just ask other bloggers to send me a few pics of their gardens that I could put on my blog? 

So that's what I did. I put the word out to my nifty blogger Facebook groups and asked who'd like to participate and guess what? People responded! So nice of them...

For the month of August I'll be hosting tours of some beautiful blogger gardens. If all goes well, I'll have six gardens to show you!

The first in the series takes place on Friday and will feature the garden of Heather Benton from New House, New Home, but I thought it would be fun to show our garden first! I also had a few questions for the bloggers so I'll answer those too!

Here we go!

We have a pretty decent-sized yard for Toronto standards and when we first bought the house, there was a giant wooden play structure in the back (the previous owners took it), no deck and a chain link fence. I wish I had before photos for you!

We've done a lot to fix it up including adding a deck, finishing the fence and adding a gate to keep the kidlets in ;).

What do you love most about your garden and what makes it special to you?

I love that it's somewhat shady, but gives us lots of sun in the afternoons (although it does get pretty hot back there!). It's a great place for the kids to play. Although a bit of an eye-sore, the driveway comes all the way to the back so it's a great place for the kids to ride their bikes and play in the water table.

I also love the plants and flowers that come every year. We have poppies from my best friend that she gave us as a wedding gift, pretty purple irises that were here when we moved in and beautiful ivy that covers the garage. Every year I try to get something non-plant related to add to the garden as well... typically I check out HomeSense for little garden accessories.

View from the other side of the yard, across from the side of the garage

What have you learned along the way that you can share with others about gardening or setting up a backyard oasis?

Well we're still learning that's for sure. Mark and I have bad memories when it comes to our garden so we always seem to forget what comes up where and when. We have (kind of) learned not to over-crowd because chances are that things will grow bigger than you think. Our hostas are so big even after splitting them this year and one of them located in the front yard is blocking a hydrangea from getting any sun so we'll move that next year.

We're also still working on dealing with critters and pests. We trying a water and soap concoction to deal with the slugs on the hostas and there are always issue with squirrels and raccoons digging something up!

I guess the main thing we've learned is to be patient (which we have a hard time with) and to plant what we love. Also, planting perennials every year helps keep things growing and flourishing. I find it silly to plant annuals that don't come back!

Do you have any future plans for your garden or do you love it just the way it is?

There is always something to do! I mentioned changing up our driveway a while back on the blog so that will come with time and we'd love to see more colour in the garden beds. This year has been the best so far with colour so we're excited to keep learning and figuring out what works and what doesn't! Mark also wants to give the lines of the garden a bit more personality... he'd like to see some curves as opposed to being straight all around.

Another thing we'd love to figure out is how to have growth for every season. My sister is working on that right now with her new garden and it's something I'd love to get a grasp on so that the garden doesn't look all brown and dead when fall hits.

Take two of the grasses: we accidentally drowned the previous
grasses with the eaves spout over the winter!
Hydrangeas are my favourite! We also have peonies in the spring.
Mark found these ferns behind the garage so he dug them out
and put them in the back corner of the garden

That's it for our garden! Stay tuned on Friday for the first up in my blogger garden tour series!

Huge disclaimer: My husband is the gardener in the family. I'm getting into it somewhat (does raking and dead-heading count?) but you have to start somewhere!

Blogger Garden Tour Series
and my garden!

What's for lunch? Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with Honey & Chocolate Mint

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with honey and chocolate mint

There's nothing I like better than a quick lunch and this is it! The best part is that it seems like a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, but kind of like you're eating dessert.

I've made this sandwich before a few times, but there's an extra little kick in this one: chocolate mint! Our neighbour is growing a ton of it and offered some to me so I snuck a couple leaves in for fun.

By the way, this is kid-approved! I made this sans-mint for Leo and Mila a while back and they loved it.

Recipe: Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with Honey & Chocolate Mint
  • 2 slices of bread (I eat thin rye bread from Dimpflmeier, but thick and crusty French bread would be amazing here)
  • 1.5 oz of goat cheese
  • 4-8 thin slices of pear
  • A drizzle of honey
  • A couple leaves of chocolate mint
  • Oil for grilling
  • Spread goat cheese on both sides of the bread - don't be shy! Use lots!
  • Layer the pear on one slice of bread
  • Drizzle with honey & top with mint
  • Grill!
  • If you have it, use coconut oil in your pan. It's super yummy with this sandwich!
  • I used two mint leaves and it was a tad much. I really liked it, but if you just want a taste go with one.
  • I used my cast iron pan, but I've also used my panini press which is fun because you get nice grill marks.

Enjoy and let me know if you make it!

Rustic Wooden Benches

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mark and I took the kids on a little cottage vacation in the 1000 Islands a couple weeks ago and we were traveling along Highway 2 on the way to Kingston (by mistake I might add) when I saw this sign:

Rustic Wooden Benches?! Ahhh! I pretty much got whiplash cranking my head to have a look at the benches as we were driving by and then I yelled: TURN AROUND!!!

So we went back to see what the benches were all about. We drove up the driveway to a beautiful modern-looking farmhouse (there were chickens walking around!) and down the steps came a good looking, super friendly guy with glasses in his hand.

Turns out that guy is Omar Hogbin and he makes these benches in his spare time with a couple other guys. Omar actually runs a swanky company called Model Berri and started building benches as a stress reliever. People started noticing his work and more custom orders started coming in. He makes everything from rustic picnic tables to flower boxes. As a joke he and his friends came up with the name Clutch & Joke for their little company.

Well of course we snagged a bench while we were there, which we had absolutely no room for but we made it work! When we got it home I put it in the mudroom. I had moved our other bench to the living room so we needed something for the back.

Omar doesn't have a website for Clutch & Joke, but if you happen to be traveling on Highway 2 from Gananoque to Kingston keep your eyes out for the big sign! I'm sure he'll hook you up!
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