Two years ago, when we bought this house, I planted 2 peonies.
One year ago, in spring, I planted 2 more.
This year I planted one. It's scrawny with youth - let's not discuss it.
But the others! Especially the ones with two years to settle down and make flowers. They're going gangbusters. Peonies are long-lived plants who grow bushier and more productive with every year. I'm in love already, so I can't wait to see what they're doing 3 or 4 years from now.
Iain celebrated his birthday last month. There were cupcakes. Iain insisted on chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cupcakes, so his Nana and I made three batches (that's 6 dozen if you're keeping track).
Two dozen vanilla cake with chocolate ganache, two dozen vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles, and two dozen strawberry cake (vanilla cake with fresh diced strawberries mixed in) with cream cheese frosting with a strawberry on top.
It seems like a lot of cupcakes, but we invited 25 kids, some of whom had siblings, plus parents. So if you had 20 kids, each with two parents or one parent and a sibling...that's 60 cupcakes. And you wouldn't want to run out.
The party took over Jump Around Utah, a paradise of bouncy castles. Iain has been a guest at four or five parties there this year (the staff says sometimes they see the same kids at three different Saturday parties). He and his classmates lovelovelove it. Above, he and The Dad climb onto the huge central floor pillow.
And here he climbs the stairs to a slide...I knew Nana would enjoy the slide and would slide with Iain (see below)
Because Nana has always liked to slide with Iain. Below, Nana and Iain sliding in September, 2009. It's, like, a tradition at this point.
This time Iain slid with Nana and slid by himself. Mostly, he needed help getting to the top of the stairs. Once there, he let gravity do its thing.
Eventually, we lit a cupcake and everyone sang Happy Birthday. He seemed bemused by the cupcake, perhaps because this was his first birthday party (we don't really celebrate birthdays with parties). He'd sung to other kids, but never been the center of that attention himself.
I took the barely-used candle to decorate my string-of-pearls plant. Fetching, don't you think?
But let's get to the real point of any party: presents. Below, the aftermath. One thing I like here in Utah is that many parents choose to open presents at home. That is, the party does not include a gift-opening session.
Much better, I think. So we carted home Iain's loot and he got to work tearing off wrapping and pulling off bows.
Several puzzles, two kites, bubble stuff and many games later, Iain could hardly comprehend his fortune. He kept turning from one gift to another, trying to decide what to do.
We replaced the living room light fixtures. Well, we replaced one and are considering the other. Also, we added cans.
Above and below, the new dining room table light. Iain's all, "It's a spaceship!" Yes, son. Little green men make the light. Eat some potatoes or there's no ice cream.
The problem was that there were only 2 lights in the living room. Both looked like mammaries. You know what I mean. Both were Home Depot specials, probably $8 lights. One centered over...nothing, while the other centered over nothing else.
We have lamps. Don't deny that you were thinking, "Duh. Lamps." This is a small house. You can't just stuff in a lamp everywhere. We had 5 lamps and yet the room felt dark. Five lamps is a lot.
So we installed cans. These are 3-5 inch pots with "eyeball" lights. Two shine onto the mantle, the rest ring the room. You can light the dining room only (with or without the spaceship). You can light the foyer, the seating area, or the whole shebang. Bye, bye lamps. (Ok, there are still 3. For reading!)
But we can't quite decide on one last thing. The dining area pendant replaced one mammary. The other? We dunno. It's in the foyer, so nothing can hang (you'd hit your head). But nothing flat seems very attractive. In the meantime, we have a very elegant bare bulb. Between that and a couple of places where we need to re-plaster and re-paint, the living room has a sort of fabulous-but-could-use-patching look.
Let's have another glimpse of the spaceship:
Ooo! Lovely. This is the first time we've ever (ever!) had a dining room light we chose. It's nice.
Iain, explaining his Lego vehicles to our houseguests. He recently received an eighteen-wheeler as a gift (thanks, Uncle Garner!). It came in a big box. He now explains that all his trucks "came in a box." Also, note that every vehicle is "official." That is, he has the police, Navy, fire department, and army covered. No random pickup trucks here, no sir.
Iain has a flower fetish. More on that later. Let's just say that you can't go to Millcreek Gardens with him unless you're willing to buy 6 or 8 little flower plants. Last time it was pansies (6 six-packs! Purple preferred). This time (yesterday) it was verbena:
He bought every color you see above, plus 3 more. "He bought" means he picked out, of course. And I may have egged him on ("Don't you like this purple and white striped one?" "Can't go home without something yellow!"). They'll trail (ie, grow in a dripping, drooping way), so I planted them in the corners of the vegetable beds. Hopefully the result will be a pretty contrast between the beds (painted orange, blue, green, and purple) and the flowers.
And then! First, you need to know that we've been using $20 IKEA stools for almost ten years. Seriously. We needed a quickie stool for a house in California, and in our moves since then (to Maine, to Kentucky, to Utah) we just...kept them.
But they've gotten seriously creaky. As in, "Am I going to fall and break my butt?" This year we finally decided to replace the IKEA stools with something more stable, sturdier, less improvised. We looked at a variety of options, but we like the unintentionally modernist style of old industrial furniture. We bought the stool you see above (times three).
It should arrive next week. By then, of course, Iain and I will have purchased ten or twenty more flowers.