Category Archives: Jo’s Journal

My Favorite Time of Year

People go on and on about how Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  I have to kind of laugh when I hear that.  When I hear it I can’t help but think they aren’t from Iowa.  Christmas is snow and cold…Yes, August is hot but just look how pretty it is…and the food fresh from the gardens is AMAZING!!  I can honestly say, I think August is likely my favorite time of year.  That is spoken from a privileged, “I can sit in air conditioning” point of view.

Here is my house…everything is blooming.

Here it is from a different angle.  My hard work is paying off.


I was outside and snapped some pictures.

This is my view as I come out my garage door.  I recently added a couple of plants along the back just to fill it in a little more in the spring when the pretty impatiens aren’t blooming so brilliantly.  This is the north side of my house and I get a lot shade here.


In the corner is a Sunpatiens.  It can grow in sun or shade…Here it’s shade.  I just love the variegated leaves and REALLY hope the nursery carries these next year.

I plant about 150 impatiens each spring and wait for August to come and for them to be blooming.

Buck made the planter boxes that sit on my porch for Mother’s Day one year.  It’s likely about my favorite Mother’s Day gift.

Along the stairs are planter boxes that Craig made me.  I just love them.  I have to be careful with the bottom planter as it isn’t very deep so can’t hold as much water.  In early July the clematis on the house was full of blooms.  It was just so pretty.  I was told that wouldn’t grow there because there wasn’t enough sun.  It actually does wonderfully.


I have these planters and I am super happy with them this year too.  In the back are geraniums.  In the front are alyssum and a supertunia with variegated leaves.  I love the flowers but also know they can get expensive.  So for reference…there are two geraniums and one supertunia.  Those are about $3.98 a piece…then I split a pack of alyssum between a couple of pots.  I thought that is pretty reasonable for all of the blooms I’m getting.


They are actually so much prettier in person.  Here is another planter with the same stuff.  I had bought the two supertunias with variegated leaves for the cemetery but they didn’t last long.  Deer ate them off so they were just nubs.  I brought them home and hopefully, they will bloom before frost.  The plant in the middle is a fairy Lilly that I bought at a garage sale.


Here are some Cala Lillies.  A friend gave them to me late in the season.  They are blooming now.  I put them in a pot with the plan to bring them in but not have to dig them up.  I want to get a big nicer planter for them next year.


We really need rain so our grass is brown…UGH.  Rain is in the forecast so I’m hoping we actually get some.

I love the pink cone flower.  It is so pretty. It’s been blooming since early July.  I love long bloomers.


Here is the front porch.

I’m tickled with how my hanging baskets are doing.  I plant the baskets myself with the hope of saving a little bit of money.  I have really big pots.  I have two pots hanging there.  I planted two supertunias in each basket and they are $3.98 each.  So my hanging baskets cost me about $8 each and they are so full and big.


There is a planter at the front door.  Next year I plan to find something that will bloom a little better there.  Right now it’s getting too much shade.

Sadly my hydrangeas are petering out.  The ones in front are the limelight variety.  I wish I had a different variety there.  The limelight doesn’t seem to last as long.

In the back against the fence are two bridal wreath spireas.  They are going to get clipped back and dug out this fall.  They are going to Karl’s house.  Then October 1st I’m heading to the nursery and plan to buy some hydrangeas for there.  The spirea are too big.  I’m excited for that to happen.  On October 1st everything at the nursery is half price.  I’ve always had good luck with whatever I buy then.


I have some other hydrangeas.  I planted them all a year or so ago so they aren’t big and lush yet.


The front of my Kramer rock looks bad.  You might remember I said I had moles ruin the front of this area.  It’s gradually looking better.

I planted the majority of my plants in pinks and whites this year.  I’ve tried reds before and was never really happy with it.  The pinks are so much prettier and offer more variety.  I’m sticking with pink.

…and now I am off to drop a note to the gal the owns the nursery requesting some variegated leaf sunpatiens and supertunias for next year…and after that, watering.  At this time of year, watering is daily for anything in a basket or planter, unless we get lucky and get some rain.

Plant Update

For the most part, besides African Violets and Christmas Cactus’, I have very few houseplants.  I love houseplants and have always wanted to have more but, childcare.  Having kids in my house all day left me nervous about having plants as many of them can be poisonous if eaten.  So…I didn’t really keep them on the main floor of the house and didn’t ever pursue having more except for my African Violets which I keep upstairs.

Then awhile back I visited my sister’s house.  She has AMAZING plants.  Her plants are really to be envied.  I wish I had taken pictures and shared them with you.  Next time I go, I’ll ask her if I can.  Seriously, the plants are amazing.

That got me thinking that maybe being I don’t have childcare full time and a lump of my grandchildren are getting past the point I have to worry about them eating plants, I would slowly start getting a few plants.  Hmm.

Well, what do you know it.  The next time I was at the thrift store, the big leafy plant in the white pot was there.  Pot and plant together was $5.  I thought that was great and bought it.

I know nothing about the plant so if you know a name or care instructions, please pass that along to me.

The next time I went to the thrift store… Continue reading

Home Improvements

I have new home improvements on the horizon.  I’m so excited.

When we bought the house back in August of 2013 it was a mess.  It was a foreclosure house that needed a lot of help. We tore off 1/3 of the house and added on a lot.  It wasn’t a rags to riches story as we ran out of money and the riches didn’t happen.

It was totally okay as my husband kept on doing the home improvements until his passing in 2019.  At that time, I paid off the house and have been slowly doing some of the improvements that he never got to.

Last year I got the back unattached garage shingled and sided.  This year I got the bathroom on the main floor fixed.  I’m so happy with those improvements.

Now it’s time to start working towards the next goal.  I want to finish the back deck on the house.

Here is a picture of how it currently looks.  (Mess courtesy of grandkids).  What you see is what we added to the house.  The bottom door goes into my kitchen.  The upper door goes into my sewing room.  We had to put that door there as there was no way to get our big antique furniture up the stairs as the turn at the stair landing is too narrow and tight.  There is really no way to get things upstairs except for that outer door.

So…that’s why the big beam is there to attach a deck to.  It’s been like that since we built the house.  What an eye sore!


At the time we finished the rest of the house, as I said, we were out of money and out of any energy it would take to tackle the project.

After Kramer died I made a list of projects that I wanted to get done.  As soon as one is done, I start planning for the next.  I figure it’s the only way I’ll get them done.  On my list of projects to do, this is next.  So…now it’s time for me to tackle this and get the deck put on.

Kalissa suggested I contact a local gal and see if she could draw up plans.  She did and I’ve been pouring over them trying to see what might work and what I liked.


Heidi came to my house.  She took some pictures and measurements and then listened to me as far as what I might be interested in.

I listed these things as what I wanted… Continue reading

At the Movies: Jurassic World: Dominion

Karl and I kept up a long standing tradition…we went to the movie Jurassic World: Dominion.

Karl has been my dinosaur kid since he was old enough to say dinosaur.  I learned so much information about dinosaurs from being his parent.  It was something I had no interest in at all…but when you’re the mom, you go where your child’s interests go.

Karl had some dinosaur clothing as a kid and they were the most worn clothes.  The second they were dirty, they were put back in the wash only to be worn again once they were clean.  His very favorite was a wax dyed shirt that I bought for him at a garage sale for 10 cents.  He had a pair of pants that were first pants and later I hemmed them for shorts when the knees wore out.  He was all things dinosaurs.

When Karl was old enough we bought the Jurassic Park VHS tape and let him watch.  By far, that was probably one of the most watched movies in our house.

I’ve watched every Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movie with Karl.  He’s been such a nut about the movies.  He can remember exactly what happened in each of them.  For me…they all run together.

When the movie came out at the local cheap theater I told Karl we better go.  He was all excited.  Here he is posing after we saw the show…


I ended up… Continue reading