HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK AHEAD

The week between Christmas and the New Year is always a time of reflection for me.  To think about everything that happened this year and my hopes for the new year.  It continues to be a time a change and adjustment for me.  January 7 will mark the two-year passing of my dear Murray.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him.  I find great comfort and encouragement here on the farm that Murray built.  I continue to work full-time at my beloved Bradley University.  My home away from home.  My job keeps me focused and engaged and the individuals I work with are more than a wonderful group of amazing, supportive co-workers, they are my friends.  And I am blessed beyond belief and words to have the best family ever!!!  My children, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and sisters – this motley crew has been here for me for whatever I needed.  They have kept me laughing, took me on trips, supported my crazy ideas, and lifted me up when I was feeling down.  They have given me the confidence that I can do this.

The biggest change in 2022 was the new John Deere tractor and tiller which made flower planting much easier.

We planted the flowers in rows that ran north to south with wide grassy walk-ways in between.  This made mowing much easier.  Weeds continue to be a problem and our goal this year is to find a way a solution to this problem.  I don’t want to go to landscape fabric so am considering other alternatives.  We learn something new each year and will continue to improve the process.

Some of the first flowers in 2022.

Flowers on the cart in July.

August flowers on the cart. The flowers were beautiful and I sold out almost every day!!!

The Illinois State Fair was back in full force this past August.  I entered 10 items and was so pleased with four first places and a third place.  My Lemon Cake Box Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies and Snickerdoodles all received first place.  My Blackberry Jelly received a third place.

I have always wanted to enter the State Fair Cookie Jar contest.  This year, I did.  And thanks to my sister Kathi for her creative ideas and for accompanying me to drop off the entries and to pick them up, to our good friend Deb from Rubbish to Rubies for the tin work, to my sister Carla for driving us to Iowa to pick up the tin leaves and the bee on the top of the jar, and my six different kinds of cookies, we came up with this.

And it won first place!!!  A very good year for me at the State Fair.

In mid-October we closed our season with our annual Fall Festival.  Here’s my grandson Henry in front of the pumpkin cart.  Later that evening we had a family wiener roast that included fireworks (thanks to Bill!).  A great time was had by all.  Henry requested that we have such a party again for Halloween and Thanksgiving with fireworks of course!!!

What’s in store for next year?  Well, hopefully tulips and daffodils.  We planted several hundred bulbs this fall.  Hoping that I have a beautiful crop of early spring flowers.  I will certainly keep you posted.  I will also be planting lots of zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, and marigolds along with several varieties of pumpkins. 

We have one more piece of equipment we need to purchase – a mower for the tractor.  This will help in mowing the roadsides, around the machine shed, and the flower patches. 

I am also going to explore the world of decorated cookies.  I have not had much experience with cut-out cookies and decorating techniques so that is something that I am going to explore. 

I also hope to post at least one blog per month. 

And of course eat more healthy foods and lose weight!!!

All in all, it has been a good year for me.  I am truly blessed and thankful for all of the many blessings and people in my life.

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and safe New Year.

And thank you so much for your support of my little flower cart on Grange Hall Road.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Pat

Merry Christmas

On this snowy, windy, terribly cold winter day, and since we are only a few days from Christmas, I thought I would share some of my decorations.

I bought a new Christmas tree this year and I love it.  It has small lights and round lights that look like big snowflakes.  It also has pinecones and is a tint of glittery white.

The old barn at the farm where my son Corey and his family live could not be saved.  So before it was demolished, I took all of the wood and doors that could be salvaged.  This is one of the doors with a picture of the barn on the door.  The Blessed sign is one that I painted using a piece of the barnwood.

The dining room.

The dining room table centerpiece.

Antique jugs with faux poinsettias. 

I love these trees and have them in several places around the house.  Another sign that I painted using wood from the old barn.  And the wintery scene outside!!!

The antique dresser in the hallway. 

In my bathroom.  Although I don’t particularly like faux flowers, this arrangement from Jeffrey Alans is quite pretty.  And I love the red bells in the vase.

The guest bathroom and another barnwood sign.  I love using old jars.  You will notice them in several areas throughout the house.

On the sink in the guest bathroom.  More faux flowers in an antique vase.

More trees on the nightstand in my bedroom.

This year, I even decorated a bit in bedroom #2 and..

In bedroom #3.

It has been a good year.  Another year of adjustment and change for me.  I am extremely thankful for all the many blessings I have in my life.  My family, my co-workers, my friends, my neighbors, my church, and all of you.  I will be working on another blog to be posted by the end of the year with a recap of my flower business and what is in store for next year.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year.

Thanks for stopping by!!

Until next time,

Pat

Flowers

Flowers are such amazing, beautiful, frustrating, soothing, high maintenance and incredibly wonderful creatures. 

Here are the first flowers from the garden.  The zinnias are small but mighty and beautiful!!

The first planting of zinnias has had a very slow start.  With cool weather in May and the first part of June being extremely dry and miserably hot, they have struggled.  But with two inches of rain the past couple of days and cooler more seasonable weather in the forecast, they look much better and the second and third plantings look incredible.   I can get a break for constant watering and can spent more time weeding!!!!!

And mixed in with the zinnias there are a few chocolate sunflowers!  I love flowers!!!!

And I love this sign.  Made by the incredible talented and good friend Deb from Rubbish to Rubies.  She does amazing work with tin.

The flowers are coming!!  The flower cart is being moved from the shed today.  I will keep everyone posted on when bouquets will be available.

Until next time,

Pat

CHANGES, CHALLENGES, COURAGE

As I reflect back on this year, three words come to mind – CHANGES, CHALLENGES, AND COURAGE. 

The changes in my life this year have been unbearable at times.  The loss of Murray, the love of my life, my soulmate, my rock has turned my life upside down.  I asked myself how can I continue on?  What do I need to do next?  How can I go at this alone?

The challenges were many.  Do I keep the farm?  If so, do I continue to grow flowers?  Will I be able to handle working full-time AND raising flowers and pumpkins?  Do I continue to cash rent the rest of the land?  Will I be successful at any of this without Murray? 

I felt like a line from Against the Wind by Bob Seger  – “…deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out.  Against the wind, I’m still running against the wind.  I’m older now but still running against the wind.”  The wind that I was facing felt very fierce at times.

I have lived on a farm since I was 5 years old.  But Murray was the farmer.  And he was so very good at it.  He was also very good at documenting and keeping records.  Without me even realizing it, he gave me the instructions and guidance that I needed to carry on.  He also gave me two wonderful sons who have stepped up to fill the big shoes left by the death of their dad. 

And so we planted flowers, and pumpkins, and squash.  The flowers did beautifully and the squash were quite plentiful.  The pumpkins on the other hand, not so good!  We are still learning!!!  Thanks to so many people – my cousin Jim who tilled the field, Kevin for farming the rest of the acreage, Jill and Vern for doing whatever I needed and all the neighbors who have been keeping an eye on me to make sure I am ok. 

Thank you to all my wonderful customers and friends!!  I sold out of flowers almost every day.  Your kind notes, hugs, and prayers helped me navigate through such a hard time.  I am eternally grateful to all of you.

And I discovered that when I was in the midst of the flower field, I felt an amazing sense of calm and healing.  A sense of reassurance and encouragement that this is where I need to be and this is what I need to be doing – raising flowers. 

I have always been the kind of person who likes to do things myself.  I am sure my family will agree that I am very independent and perhaps a bit stubborn!!!!!  So as I started planning for next year, I decided that we needed to be able to do more things ourselves, like tilling the gardens, seeding down areas, and clearing brush.  And we needed to expand and grow more!!  We needed a utility tractor.  After searching the internet for a good used tractor, I decided the best way to go would be to purchase a new one.  And so I mustered up my courage and contacted Prairie State Tractors in Lacon, IL.  I was so fortunate to speak with Blake, who so kindly and patiently worked with me to get me exactly what I needed.  This was delivered on October 8!!!!

The boys and I have big plans for next year.  We will be moving the pumpkins to north of the house and using the entire field in front of the house for flowers.  There will be grassy walkways to help control the weeds, make harvesting easier, and make a beautiful flower field.  I also want to do lots of landscaping with several flower beds around the farm. 

With Thanksgiving next week, I am thankful for so many things.  God has certainly blessed me in so many ways.  I am so thankful for the 43+ years I had with Murray and for the life that we built together.  I am so thankful for this farm that I will continue to steward in his memory.  I am thankful for Corey, Ryan, Audrey, Allison, Lainey, Ella, Nora, and Henry, the absolute best sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids that anyone could ask for.  And I am so thankful for my sisters, Pam, Carla, Kathi, and Angie.  I could not have made it through this year without them.

I miss Murray terribly.  But I am looking forward to next year and bringing the farm to life in his memory and honor.

Wishing each of you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

Pat

Life’s Difficult Changes

For the first time in 43 years, I am facing life alone.  My dear, sweet, love of my life, Murray, died from Covid on January 7.  I am still having a hard time believing that he is physically gone from my life.  His chair sits empty; my heart is breaking.  But life moves on and I will carry on.

I am extremely fortunate and blessed in so many ways.  The outpouring of overwhelming love and support from family and friends has helped sustain me during this incredibly difficult time and has helped me to move forward. 

With lots of help and support, I will continue to plant flowers and pumpkins.  Murray would have wanted me to do so.  The seeds have been purchased and plans are in the works.  This past Sunday afternoon I worked outside for three hours tilling the first flowerbed to be planted and will start planting as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer.  Right now it is snowing!!!!

I am looking forward to bringing the flower cart out, filling it with beautiful bouquets of flowers, and maybe being outside to say hi when you stop by.

Until next time,

Pat

HAPPY NEW YEAR – HAPPY NEW KNEE!!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I realize the New Year is about seven weeks old, but I am just getting back into the swing of things since my knee replacement in mid-December.  This is my second knee replacement.  My left knee was replaced twelve years ago.  I vowed that I would not wait so long to have my right knee replaced.  But I did.  Too many things kept coming up and my procrastination was in full force.  And, ironically, when the time came, it almost didn’t happen.Read More »

A FACELIFT FOR THE SHED

One of our big improvement projects on the farm this summer was giving our shed a facelift.  As we continue to transition from being a corn/soybean farm to a flower farm, we are looking for other ways to use our shed.  Since we don’t have the large farm equipment any longer, we now have a lot of space to work with.  The first thing we did this summer was to give the shed a much needed paint job.

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IDYLWOOD FARM

The land on which my husband Murray and I live has been in the family for over 150 years.  The farm is recognized and registered with the State of Illinois as a Centennial Farm.  In 1850, William Trigger and his wife, Mary Ann Trigger left England and came to the United States, where they settled in Peoria County. In 1857, they made their home on the property on Grange Hall Road.  Their son, Richard N. Trigger was born on the farm on Grange Hall Road on September 26, 1860.  On January 11, 1893, Richard Trigger married Edith Irene Douglass.  On May 27, 1896, their only surviving child, a daughter, Dorothy Viola Trigger was born.

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SPRINGTIME

Spring is my favorite time of the year.  The farm is changing daily with new growth and blooms.  My morning walks are even more enjoyable as I am serenaded by the singing of the many birds as they welcome each new day.  Last week we received some much needed rainfall.  I am anxious for the return of sunshine and warm weather.

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A LONG WINTER FILLED WITH LIFE’S TWISTS AND TURNS

Life is truly filled with twists and turns.  The best laid plans can be changed or altered in an instance.  The only certain thing in life is the uncertainty of life.

My goal for this new year, 2016, was to rework the blog and introduce some exciting plans for this spring and summer.  But my plans have been put on hold for now.  In mid-December I came down with asthmatic bronchitis.  The first round of antibiotics did not do the trick, so right after the start of the new year we tried a second round of a different antibiotic.  Last week, I spent the good part of an early morning in the emergency room.  The lingering asthmatic bronchitis has turned into pneumonia.  Interestingly, I had pneumonia last April.  The first time in my life that I have had pneumonia or bronchitis.  And now I have had it twice in the past 10 months.  So now I am on a third antibiotic and doing breathing treatments.

Life’s twists and turns.  It is so easy to get discouraged when you are dealing with a lingering medical condition.  I choose to focus on all the good things and blessings in my life.  Like being able to work from home and the wonderful people in my office who are covering for me in my absence.  Like my wonderful husband who is always there for me.  Like my caring sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren who are more than willing to help in any way I need.  Like my faithful church family for all their thoughts and prayers and visits.  I may be a bit under the weather, but I am feeling strong and determined from all the support I am receiving.

So my plans are moving forward, just delayed a bit.  Ryan and I will be reworking the blog in February and sharing the story of Idylwood Farm and my hopes and dreams for the future of the farm.  I am also experimenting with taking pictures to see if I can get some better pictures for the blog.  Not sure how that will come out, but I am determined to try!

Life’s twists and turns.  Stay strong, everyone.  Life is good.

Until next time,

Pat