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  • The best things in life are Beautiful.
  • My Home, My Garden.



    female ruby throated hummingbird close up photo leanne wildermuth

    female ruby throated hummingbird close up photo leanne wildermuth

    I just can’t get enough of these adorable little birds. The hummingbirds are quite active right now, they’re on the feeders and flowers constantly. I was playing with my camera (Sports scene auto mode, Panasonic Lumix FZ50) and got some incredible shots today of this little female Ruby Throated Hummingbird and had to share.

    Storm Photos


    It All Started With a Hairy Melon Ball.


    baby musk melon ball leanne wildermuth vegetable garden

    The weekend started off with a wave of excitement as I discovered my first Musk Melon taking shape in my vegetable garden. I squealed like a girl, in proper first-time-vegetable-gardener form, and set to fetch my camera. There are hairy melon balls hanging ALL over the place, and I know that sounds so wrong but it feels so right. I want to go bless each of them with Holy Water, or something.

    And then, I gazed. Stargazer Lily Island has fully developed, and I want to pop a tent and live in the back corner of my yard. It’s a bit harder to isolate the lilies now that there are so many, but I am fully enjoying that there are so many. I will be moving them closer to the house. They are waaaay too far away from me. Must. Bring. Closer.

    Of course, I would not be me if my weekend didn’t set out to overachieve in some aspect in my life. This weekend I chose to build a custom vanity cabinet for my shoebox sized bathroom, “easy peasy” I said, as I packed my daughter, my big purse and myself into my car and headed to Lowe’s for all of the fixin’s. If you can’t find it pre-made, build it yourself, right? Right. So I have this under 24″ space to fit my sink in, and nothing in this bathroom has EVER worked (for long). I built it in my head, and then I built it in my garage. With Hubby and Catybug’s help, of course. It was a 6 hour project, an experience I’ll never forget, a Saturday I’ll never get back, and….

    custom 20 inch drop in sink cabinet leanne wildermuth
    A sink I’ll never use. Anyone need a 20w x 18d x 32h custom vanity cabinet with a drop in sink? Urgh – when you have a shoebox for a bathroom, the last thing you want is something so deep that it makes you feel like your peeing in a porta-john. Seriously, if I gain just 3-5 pounds, someone will have to pry me out from between the wall and the cabinet, and that would not be pretty.

    Well, then, on to the next project.

    Did I mention my garden is doing well? Four burpless cucumber plants have taken over half of my garden. I have more cukes than I can count on two hands, what’s a girl to do? Make bread & butter pickles, that’s what.

    bread and butter pickles cucumber garden leanne wildermuth

    If you like bread & butter pickles, then you’ll want to check back, because I’m going to have a little contest, and you could win a jar. Because I’m a Midwestern kindof gal, and it’s a Midwestern kindof contest.

    While my cukes were cooling, I meandered around my garden again. As I do every day, I stopped to smell the roses.

    This rose bloom was just picture perfect. I was pretty angry when I went back to appreciate it again, as there was a Japanese Beetle munching a great big hole in the petals. I’m glad I captured its beauty while it lasted.

    lupine bud bloom macro leanne wildermuth

    I didn’t know what to expect from my Lupine this year (especially since it’s not a Lupine, it’s a Delphinium. Thanks, Taba.) – I planted the root last fall and it’s supposed to get really tall and be very hardy. It’s slowly making an appearance, and the blooms are so dainty I’m afraid I’ll hurt it if I get my nose too close.

    Enough with the wandering around the yard, there’s work to be done. Our honey-do list included installing the vanity that I didn’t want, but have to live with because the other one is too big. Got that? Okay. Well, on the honey-don’t list was “break the sink we have to live with.” We successfully took that off the “don’t” list and then quickly added to the “do” list “fix the support that busted in half when top heavy sink falls forward onto Hubby’s leg and shaves off top 3 layers of skin”. Check. First we repaired Hubby, then I repaired the sink.

    And also? I attempted to remove a nut that had rusted onto the waste line with a tool that was not a pipe wrench. The result?

    torn nailbed leanne wildermuth

    Tears. Lots of tears. And then, a(nother) trip to Lowe’s.

    I eventually got the nut off (using the proper tools, and some spray goo that loosens rust), because my bathroom hates us and I’m bound and determined to fight back and win. I figured if the plumbing doesn’t work this time, I’ll google how to build a bomb and blow the freakin’ bathroom to smithereens. That’ll show it who’s boss. Of course it would have to be a bomb that would only blow up the bathroom, and it would have to vaporize all remnants of the immediate area so there’s no clean up involved.

    Well at 6:58pm we realized that Lowe’s closes at 7pm so there was no more shopping on Sunday for us, and that meant no more plumbing, which also meant putting a big bowl under the bathroom sink so we could brush our teeth. Whatever, I’m used to brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink so just being in the bathroom was sweet victory to me.

    Monday morning. The Monday morning that no Quad City resident will ever forget. A storm blew through here like I’ve never seen, winds blew upwards of 100mph. Trees came down. Power went out. The Cities are dark, still, and I feel so fortunate to have power.

    The National Weather Service says the storm that hit the Quad Cities is called a “derecho“, a type of long lived and destructive wind storm.

    From our local news station this morning:

    Moline, QUAD CITIES — MidAmerican Energy says 72,000 Quad City residents and businesses are still without power as of early Tuesday morning.

    At 3 a.m., the largest concentrations of those without power were located in:

    * MOLINE – 33,000 are without power
    * ROCK ISLAND – 28,000 are without power
    * MERCER COUNTY – 6400 are without power
    * ROCK ISLAND COUNTY – 5100 are without power
    * COAL VALLEY – 4041 are without power
    * HENRY COUNTY – 2620 are without power

    Alliant Energy is reporting fewer scattered outages in southeastern Iowa. About 500 are without power north of the Quad Cities.

    The utilities report they have broght in extra crews to try to restore power to the region. At one point, more than 200,000 people were without power due to the strong storms.

    To say that trees came down is really an understatement. What really happened was that the entire landscape in the Quad Cities was changed by force over the course of one storm that lasted about one hour. City streets look like country roads – no stores are lit up, no street lights. People lining up to buy generators, McDonald’s, gasoline. Chainsaws are completely sold out.

    Trees were just ripped in half by the winds. I saw a tree that had to be 6-8 feet in diameter lying on at least one car, maybe more. Many trees just completely uprooted and lying on their sides.

    quad cities derecho storm tree torn leanne wildermuth

    Our damage was minimal. We lost a couple of branches about this size:

    quad cities derecho storm tree torn leanne wildermuth

    And smaller pieces were scattered all over the yard. We are definitely one of the fortunate ones – and I’m so thankful that we had our tree thinned out last year.

    eerie clouds quad cities storm leanne wildermuth

    The clouds lastnight were eerie, but beautiful – as I hosted my girlfriend and her boys who are without power, it’s been an unusual 24 hours and we’re wondering how long before power is restored to our area. We’re also wondering what we would do if we had to live without it on a permanent basis. Life without power. What would that be like?

    Random Macros


    green pepper head seeds photo leanne wildermuth
    Can you guess what this is? (Without cheating.)

    inch worm stick leanne wildermuth
    An inchworm that looks like a twig.

    heart ice cube macro leanne wildermuth
    We have new ice cube trays.



    I took 35 photos yesterday of random stuff I thought you might like.

    bird print on my window leanne wildermuth
    My least favorite kind of animal prints, the ones on my windows.
    Ouch. That had to hurt.
    blue jay spread feathers funky bird pose leanne wildermuth
    I’m not sure what this Blue Jay is doing.
    It’s not his print on the window, so what’s up with this pose?

    blue jay yapping at me leanne wildermuth
    Apparently, whatever he was doing was private,
    and I should not have been watching.

    white oriental lily fragrant leanne wildermuth
    Holy fragrant flowers, batman, can you smell this?
    It makes my head all swirly it smells so good.

    straw flower strawflower photo leanne wildermuth
    This little strawflower hardly smells at all – but isn’t it cool?

    I planted 48 asters around my yard. They’re starting to bloom.
    I wish they were perennial!

    coneflower photo leanne wildermuth
    A pretty coneflower, new to my garden this year.

    wild bunny rabbit standing tiptoe leanne wildermuth
    When this bunny saw me, he/she started tiptoeing through the yard.
    Like it’s a noisy rabbit. Hah!

    Beet…les and Bugs


    beetle photo leanne wildermuth

    It’s not a vegetable, it’s not a mineral.. it’s a beetle. And it brought a friend, and it wants to eat my petunias. Every time I get near, it does a few fly-by’s – it sounds like a Cicada (that’s what I thought it was, at first).

    Catybug, my forward thinking little nature lover, tried to catch them with her bare hands. That didn’t work out so well (because her mom was distracting her, holding her hair back and squealing like a little girl). We had to run some errands so we stopped at the dollar store and she located a butterfly net – that worked. Now I’m hosting these two big buzzing metallic looking creatures in a little plastic habitat and I have no idea what they are, other than beetles. All I know is that she’ll find out (and if you know, do tell), and she’ll pin them to an exhibit board with the others she’s collected, for her 8th grade science project – still over a year away. And then she’ll be #1 – because #2 isn’t good enough for her. (Little overachiever. I’m so proud.)

    Here’s a Cecropia Moth she acquired last month – can you see the pride in her eyes?

    cecropia moth adult male photo leanne wildermuth

    The Cecropia is the largest known North American moth, and it’s quite a beautiful creature. The wingspan is 5-6 inches, and considering their adult life only lasts 2 weeks, having the opportunity to even see one is really a unique experience. The adult Cecropia lives only to reproduce – and can smell a mate up to a mile away. They don’t even eat, they have no mouth or proboscis.

    Just a couple of buggy facts for the weekend. You can thank me later, after the heebie-jeebies subside.

    July 4th : Point, Click, and Pray.


    airbrushed tattoos leanne wildermuth

    We headed over to the street festival around 4pm yesterday afternoon. They closed off one of the main roads in Bettendorf and put a band on either end, the street between was lined with vendors. There were t-shirts, handmade jewelry stands, airbrushed tattoos, face painting, and of course – food.

    Normally, we have about $20 to spend for a family of four. Needless to say, there were no frivolities in previous years. One lemonade, two funnel cakes, two glow sticks. This year, we were prepared, and we even had an extra guest. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to share my funnel cake. I even had my own hand squeezed lemonade and a corn dog! We splurged on airbrushed tattoos and hand made friendship bracelets, and spent a few dollars in the kids carnival area for the girls to bounce and play on air rides. (What do you call those things? Blow up toys? That just doesn’t sound right.)

    glow stick motion leanne wildermuth

    The glow sticks this year were super cool – this is Chickeymonkey’s, she kept twirling it and I was already set to Fireworks mode on my camera – so this is how it looks when it’s blinking and being twirled.

    Here are some of my favorite fireworks shots from our 2008 Fireworks display in Bettendorf, Iowa. (the best fireworks display in the Quad Cities!) Keep in mind when you’re looking at these photos that I had my camera (a Panasonic Lumix FZ50) in my lap, had it on Fireworks and infinity burst – and held it as still as possible. I wanted to watch the fireworks this year instead of see them through my camera – so they are literally “Point, Click and Pray” shots. I didn’t edit these shots but to crop them and give you a closer view.

    Ready? Set? Boom!

    Keep reading »

    Summer, At Last.


    patio solar lighting cutter citronella candles

    I grilled up some mean (and tender, and lean) butterflied barbeque chicken, beer brats and hot dogs. I threw together a fruit pizza (basically, a giant cream cheese frosted sugar cookie with fruit on top). I had chips and condiments. I had bottled water and capri sun – and I had more than enough for everyone.

    I had great company. The kind that makes you think “I could do this every day of the week.” And I could. I’d love to. And more great company stopped over just to peek in and have a look at the yard and patio. It was wonderful.

    fire embers burning leanne wildermuth

    I had skewers and sticks, marshmallows, and graham crackers. I had chocolate. I had a perfect little fire pit to gather around and make s’mores. I had just enough of everything so that no one felt left out. The fire was just right (thanks, Jacque!) and the kids had a blast. We forgot to sing Kumbaya, but the sentiment was there.

    This is what I look forward to, nights like these. Aaaaah.

    What did you do lastnight? And more importantly, why didn’t you stop over? I saved you a marshmallow.

    The Patio Project


    Back in the end of 2003, we had a studio addition built onto the back of our house. While that job was being completed, my hubby was called to active duty and left for Iraq. I was left to my own devices then to work on big projects, and I did what I could do on my own, and reached out for help when I needed it. (and wouldntchya know, some of the people who told me to call whenever I needed anything, went around telling people that I only ever called when I wanted something! Gah! I still can’t get over it.)

    I digress.

    My father in law came to my rescue a couple of days, he helped me dig away the soil against the back of the studio so I could put down a patio.

    And that was all great and spiffy for a while. As long as we only needed two chairs and a little side table between them, because that’s about as deep as it was. We have known for a while that it needed to be extended, and we started doodling out plans last fall to get ‘er done before Hubby had to go on active duty – again. So, as I mentioned over the last week, our local home improvement store, Menards, had a sale on patio pavers for A QUARTER. a piece.

    I had 250 of them delivered, along with a gadjillion pounds (16 bags) of paving sand.

    It doesn’t look like much, does it? I wasn’t that impressed. I thought I’d have had like a whole driveway full of pallets loaded down with stuff. Hmpf.

    So we quickly got to work digging up and scraping off all of the old 18×18 paving blocks. Talk about break your momma’s back! Ouch. I was younger when I did this 4 years ago. Four years younger, to be exact.

    It really wasn’t as bad as I make it sound. They popped up pretty easy and it was hilarious watching the earthworms scramble for cover.

    So then I left hubby to do the hard stuff, digging away more soil/sod and TREE ROOTS. Man there were some whoppers in there.

    You can see how much we’ve extended the patio out here, he’s about halfway done with the digging. And then it rained.

    For three days.

    SO. The sun was shining over the weekend and we got a lot accomplished. Landscape fabric. Sand. Laying out the first few of the pattern to get it going and figure out the spacing. Then again, hubby took over and with a few more trips for more sand, finished it up.

    Then it was my turn, to beautify. I picked up a dozen (or so) bags of pea gravel to fill in the borders, cause I had plans. Plans that I could see in MY head, but he couldn’t envision at all. That’s how we roll – I tell him what I see and he gets all confused, scratches his head, and just does it. And so we went shopping, and I picked up just a couple more things to finish it off.

    Night came all too fast. I obviously have to work all day today so I can only get this kind of stuff done in the late afternoon/evenings – and I didn’t want to wait a day, I wanted to do it and then just enjoy it tonight, kwim? I’m a practical gal. With a brand new bag of marshmallows to roast.

    I stayed up late into the night (c’mon, 10pm is late when your regular bedtime is 8pm. I’m old.) and I put things together. And I asked our neighbors son to come over and help because what young man DOESN’T get excited over solar lights? Okay most young men wouldn’t – but this one is a techie. And he’s getting into the whole yard beautification thing. I’m sending him subliminal influential messages in his sleep. Or something. So the solar lights went in, and the petunias went up, and the fire pit came together and we lit the citronella candles and then?

    Catybug and I took a seat. And no gnats crawled into our ears and had kids. No mosquitoes buzzed us and sucked our blood. The smell of the neighbor’s doggie doo was replaced by the sweet smell of petunias cascading right behind our heads. We heard crickets. And we saw stars. And we sat back and relaxed. We enjoyed the soft glow of the solar lights, the flickering of the citronella candles, and for a few minutes we didn’t do anything at all except sit back, and breathe in and out.

    I’ll try to get a good night photo tonight so you can see how cozy it is. Really? For about $200? I couldn’t be more pleased.

    C’mon over, I’m firing up the grill and the fire pit tonight and we’re roasting dogs and marshmallows!

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