Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Springtime Flowers

Our family lost a dear friend over the weekend. It happened way too early for the young man who was more than a friend to my son. He was a kind of big brother, a mentor, and a band mate – a wonderful and gifted musician and songwriter, who was in 2 bands with him. Left behind were his lovely young wife and his 17 month old son. This wonderful husband, father, and business owner will be so dearly missed by all who knew him.

I’m having trouble with this loss. A while back, he stopped at our house to drop off something for my son, and we chatted a bit about his baby son before he headed back to his truck. He told me that his wife was working at home to be with their son, and his face absolutely lit up when he started talking about them. He loved them so. My heart just aches for his family, and for the fact that they face a life without him. We never know why these things happen, but they do happen. I so hope that the incredible love and support they’re getting from family and friends will hold his wife and son up in the months and years to come. It always seems like the world should stop when things like this happen, but it doesn’t. Life goes on.

Because of the week’s events, I was feeling the need to brighten up the house. We haven’t had a lot of snow here in Minnesota, and it’s not warm enough for things to start growing yet. It’s very brown and drab outside, and that’s not helping my mood. I needed some color and some Springtime Flowers.

I know – this arrangement ended up being a bit large, but I don’t care. It’s beautiful. I can’t tell you how much this little bit of springtime has already lifted my spirits.

These flowers totaled less than $20, and it really was money well spent. I think they’re all pretty long-lasting flowers, and I hope to have them last a week or more.

They really did bring a bit of spring into the house. I did have enough to make one other smaller bouquet that I put in my living room.

Grandma and Grandpa had pussy willows growing on the corner of their house once they moved off the farm and into the little town about a mile away, and they would bring me a big bunch every spring. I wish I would have gotten a cutting from that bush to put in our yard. Pussy willows are one of my springtime favorites.

These beautiful orange tulips just brighten up the day!


I put this bouquet into an old coffee pot of Grandma’s. I’m glad I decided to invest in this big bunch of beautiful springtime flowers. It really wasn’t that much of an investment, and they really have brightened my day and my mood.

Having lost loved ones and family members before, I never take anything for granted. I cherish every minute and hold my remaining loved ones a little bit closer. Life can be so fragile. Thanks for visiting today, thanks for listening, and please check back again soon!





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The Fall Garden

It won’t be long and we’ll be all white with snow here in Minnesota, so let’s enjoy The Fall Garden for as long as we can. Today I just have to share the few beautiful, blooming flowers that are still in my garden. We were hit with a late frost and then hail in June, so the it hasn’t looked so great this year. I’ll take what I can get for now, but next winter I may have to read about the flowers that have come out of my past gardens!


Bees of all kinds really work over the Sedum this time of year. They leave me alone and I let them take whatever they want!


We’ve had extra bee, squirrel, and bird activity for about the last month. They seem to be working extra hard for what’s to come in the next couple of months. Yikes!


We have had a lot of rain, also, for the last month, so the plants are a bit tangled.


These Black-Eyed Susan are one of the longest lasting flowers I have in my garden. They’ve been blooming and beautiful since the first part of August.


They’re just such a happy flower!


I planted these Purple Dragon Flowers when we first moved to our house and they’ve been prolific bloomers ever since. They don’t bloom until the end of the summer and they are so pretty.


Bees really love these, too!


The Hydrangea didn’t get to the size of a dinner plate like they did last year, but there will be enough of them to dry for an arrangement.


This one is in the shape of a heart!


These plants are a type of milkweed and the monarch butterflies love them! They lay their eggs and then the caterpillars eat the leaves before making their chrysalis. However, they do make the garden look a bit ragged (they’re tall and lanky), so we’ve made the decision to pick the pods before they let go of the seeds and let them fly down the road (in a wild area that can hold a lot of milkweed) so we’ll still be planting milkweed for the monarchs, but just not in our garden. It’s so important to grow milkweed so the monarchs have food and a place to lay eggs. We’ve still had a few of them around, gearing up for their long journey to Mexico. Looks like I’d better pick this pod before it’s too late!


This is a shot of rose hips on my rose bush. The bush was from a sucker on my friend’s bush, and it has hot pink blooms in May and June. You can see the holes from the hail storm, which incidentally, totally made all of our Hosta look terrible all summer.


I have two of these flower pots in the corners of our back deck. The sweet potato vine overtook the flowers in the middle of the summer, but now the flowers are coming back a bit and are orange, yellow and purple, so I’ll leave them for fall until it freezes. You can see that my chair cushions are holding up and still looking good 3 years after I recovered them and posted about it here. I love my solar “fairy lights” that are stuck in the pots and light up the deck at night.


Hopefully the fact that these guys are busy as . . . well, you know, won’t mean we’re in for a nasty winter. Let’s just ignore that possibility and focus on how cute they are as they go about their business.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this little fall garden tour. We can look at the garden again this winter when all of these guys are sleeping and waiting to come again next year! Don’t forget to get some spring bulbs planted so next spring can be colorful, too!


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I know I showed you my tulips last year, but we just suffered through 6 straight days with rain last week, and the other morning when the sun was out, I had to get out to the garden and take some shots of them for this year. They’re at their peak right now, and they’re such a day brightener, I just had to share.


They do open up during the day, but it was still pretty cool when I was out there this particular morning.


I could see every dew drop and rain drop.


They sure are bright and cheery in the otherwise pretty drab garden this early in the season. Those are daisies behind these tulips.


You can see my peony bush behind the tulips here.


Our gigantic flowering crab is blooming. I thought maybe the rain and wind would hamper the bloom this year, but it seems to be taking it in stride. You can see more of this tree blooming on the Plentysweetlife Facebook page or find it in a post from last year here.


Here is my sedum popping out already. They look like teeny tiny green roses or baby cabbages when they first come up. I’ll have to wait for fall to enjoy them in all their glory.


I have never had my rhubarb be so big and prolific! One stalk was 14″ long! That’s never happened before! Get ready for this year’s rhubarb recipes coming soon!


You can see my hosta coming up behind these tulips.


These tulips really are the beauties of the moment. They’re just such a day brightener! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my spring garden!




Macy’s Spring Flower Show

My middle child has a birthday in April, and almost every year since she was in middle school, we’ve had a date to go and see the Macy’s Spring Flower Show in downtown Minneapolis as part of her birthday celebration. Sometimes it’s just the two of us, and sometimes we take other people along. This year it was just the two of us for lunch and the flower show. Today I’m sharing some photos of the blooms to get us in the mood for spring! This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful” with each region of the country being represented. You can find out more information about it here. Unfortunately, the flower show is now over for this year, but you can still enjoy some of the flowers here in this post. Here we go . . . Lady Liberty’s torch as the centerpiece beckoning you onward and inward. Just imagine the very springy and overwhelmingly spicy scent of hyacinths hitting you as you move through the doors, into the gardens and springtime . . .
















I hope you’ve enjoyed this little breath of spring! It is coming. Well, we can dream . . .



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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!



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February Flowers

Today I just had to share these beautiful lilies I found at my local grocery store. The store I shop at has flower bunches 2/$10, so I invested in just one bunch. This is the time of the winter when we could all use a little springtime in the house. My son says it confuses him because the scent of these lilies is a lot like Easter lilies, so it smells like Easter time! Unfortunately we have a way to go before we’re that close to spring.


The lily bunch came as two stems of buds – nothing had bloomed. Then look what happened! Wow! That’s part of the fun – to see what happens once the bloom starts!


Well – these have bloomed and they are HUGE!!!


These lilies are just amazing and are absolutely spectacular!!


Pick up some of these little day brighteners today and enjoy a little breath of spring in your home! They’re fairly inexpensive, no matter where you get them, and they’ll help us get through the bleak mid-winter. I hope you’ve enjoyed these little beauties as much as I have!



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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!! Today I’m sharing a flower arrangement for your holiday enjoyment!


I made this arrangement with a $5 grocery store mum bunch and some assorted leftover stuff from my front garden that was still useable. There were things left in the garden that weren’t frozen yet: Sedum, purple dragon flower seed pods, and Echinacea seed pods.


It fits perfectly on the front entry table.


The mums are the perfect color for this time of year!


I’m so thankful for each and every one of you, dear readers! I do so much appreciate all of your continued support. Thanks for stopping by to check out Plenty Sweet Life! Enjoy this wonderful day of gratitude and thanksgiving with your family and friends!


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This has been a banner year for Hydrangea. We’ve had a lovely, cool, somewhat rainy summer (until the last couple of weeks – it’s been warm and humid!) and everywhere you look here in Minnesota, the hydrangea are drooping practically to the ground with their huge flowery heads. I just had to share mine – they’re so beautiful this year! I got my original plant from my mom’s bush at the house on the lake where I grew up, so I think it may be a pretty old variety. It has almost taken over half of the front garden of our house on the northwest corner and moved around the corner to the north side.


This is the northwest corner of our front garden.


This is that bush turning the corner to the north side of our house. That’s ok because it’s kind of hiding the gas meter.


I love these big heads of tiny flowers.


They start out white and then turn a lovely green.


Last year I had to dig some out – they were heading out into the front yard – and I put a bit on the northeast corner of the house where we needed a “little something”. This bush has been growing here for about one year. It looks good, but it’s not so big.


Two years ago we put a little bit on the back of our garage and now look!!! The bush is HUGE! The heads are almost resting on the ground because they’re so big!!! I think they’ve gotten watered a lot – they’re right next to the rain barrel (you can almost see it there on the garage corner).


You can see how huge they are – they’re the size of a dinner plate!


I love these prolific growers!


I even love the ones that have these tiny, lacy parts on them (even if they aren’t supposed to be there).


Hydrangea grow fast and grow so beautifully and bloom most of the summer. They make a great bouquet and if you hang them upside down, they’ll dry so you can use them in dried arrangements all winter.





My peony plant originally came from the house on the lake where I grew up. When we moved here to our first house, my mom still lived at the lake, and she dug up a part of her peony plant for me to plant. Both of my grandmas had peonies in their yards, and I would pick big bouquets of them to bring into their houses. I love Peonies. It’s another spring/early summer time plant that just doesn’t last long enough. The fragrance is so great and just fills the house. When they’re blooming and we’re sitting out on our deck, we can smell them from around the house!


Peonies are even beautiful as buds. They almost look like roses.


This has to be an old-fashioned peony. It’s been around a long time. We moved to the lake in 1969, and maybe mom got the plant then. It might have even been there when we moved to that house, we just don’t know.


I love the big leafy petals, full of ants scurrying around the stickiness on the buds, doing their best to get those blooms open.


These photos were taken a few days later when they were in full bloom.


They’re so delicate, and this particular variety really doesn’t last very long. I’m lucky if I get to enjoy them for a week. If we get rain, they don’t even last that long.


There are so many different varieties of peonies. It’s fun to exchange them with friends. The more, the merrier! My goal is to have an entire hedge of peony somewhere across my entire yard. This has been a spring full of blossoms and the peonies are the last of the spring flowers to bloom. On to the summer flowers! I can’t wait!


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Lily of the Valley

April, May, and June are the months when all of my favorite flowers bloom around my house. I love the flowering crab, the lilacs, the tulips, and lily of the valley. Lily of the Valley is absolutely one of my favorites. My mother-in-law gave me a box full to plant on the north side of our house when we moved here, and they have supplied me with blooms in the spring ever since. We had them growing on the hill in front of our house at the lake when I was growing up, and I would brave poison ivy and falling down the steep hill to pick them. Both of my grandmas loved lily of the valley. Grandma grew them on the north side of the house on the farm, and my other grandma didn’t grow them, but loved the scent of them. This is the flower that most reminds me of Grandma. She would pick a huge bunch of lily of the valley to bring to church functions or give to family or friends, even keeping them in the refrigerator overnight to try to keep them fresher longer. Grandma planted all kinds of flowers in her gardens and you can see some of them in this photo of her with my mom and my uncle.


Oh my gosh – how cute! She loved flowers of all kinds and she handed down that love of flowers to my mom, and then to me and my sister, and now to our kids.


I love this flower!! I love the little bells, I love the scent, I love everything about them. I don’t love how short a time they are blooming in the garden. I really don’t love that.


The blossoms really do look like little bells! You can imagine the fairies using these for hats or umbrellas or just for decoration!


A bouquet this size will scent the whole house. I even put a couple of stems in a vase next to my bed, but any more than that and the scent won’t let me sleep!


Each stalk has six or so fragrant bells lined up the stem. It makes them look just FULL of bells.


These photos are from last year because, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the post about lilacs, we had a dry fall and this hasn’t been a great year for the spring flowers. I did have a couple of smaller bouquets of lily of the valley this year, but these are short blooming and are already done for this year. If you don’t have these blooming around your house, you should really plant some. They do spread a bit (I think they’re technically considered ground cover), but when mine grow outside the brick edging, we just mow those down after they bloom. You’ll enjoy the fragrance and their beautiful bloms. I sure do!


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