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Monday, June 2, 2014

Hello friends!

May is now behind us. I can scarcely believe it. The beginning of May feels so much like spring, while the beginning of June marks the start of summer for me. What a difference one month makes.

June is the month that my two youngest take their university finals, and complete their first year of university studies. Classwork may come to an end, but full-time summer employment is just beginning. Summer employment for my daughters means a Monday through Friday position on campus, cleaning dorms, kitchens, and meeting rooms, as they're on the housekeeping team. It's hard physical work, but at least they come home to rest, instead of studies and papers. Friday afternoons are the real highlight for the girls. The university puts on a barbeque lunch, gratis, for its student staff. Bonus -- they get 1 hour for lunch instead of 30 minutes. These are real perks when you're 19 years old. The other really awesome thing for them -- they each received raises! Summer employment may be a necessary evil in their eyes, but at least they're treated well, and earn a significant portion of their tuition each summer.

June is also the month that my part-time employment comes to a close. I'll start back to work in September. But I'll miss those little guys, and I'll miss the opportunity to earn some money. But this now means that my Thursdays are free again. And maybe I can take on more projects around the house. I have this one major sewing/decorating project, for which I bought all the necessary materials a year ago, before news of our income reduction. Adjusting to this reduced income took all of my energy last summer, fall and winter. It still takes a good deal of work and energy, but maybe, just maybe, I can tackle this project, which, for some reason, feels like summer work.

June is the month that I can take a break from planting the garden and just keep up with weeding. It does mean that more produce will come into the kitchen for me to process. But that's a fun thing, to watch the freezer stock of garden veggies grow.

June is the month for strawberries, and more strawberries and even more strawberries in our garden. We are so blessed with a healthy crop of strawberries this year. My favorite way to eat them is simply fresh. If there are enough strawberries, my second favorite way to eat them is in strawberry sorbet. I'm hoping to be able to make at least one batch of sorbet this June.

June is also the month of roses, here in the Pacific Northwest. While some of the rose bushes began blooming in May, June is when I cut roses every week to fill vases for the house. My favorite roses are the English roses, with their full blossoms. But we also have some nice hybrid tea roses, a rosa rugosa, and one lovely, old fashioned climbing rose that I have entwined in an apple tree in the front yard. I saw this in a photo years ago, a climbing rose entwined in an apple tree. It caught my eye, and I vowed to recreate this some day. Well, ours has been growing now for 2 years, and is on the verge of looking like something I once saw.

June is the month of Father's Day. My father-in-law lives 2 hours north of us. We'll drive up to visit with him. I'd like to bring a couple of homemade goodies with us, perhaps a batch of eclairs, or a box of cookies, and some homemade jam.

June is also the first full month of cookouts for our family. We do hot dog roasts around the fire pit, as well as bbq's on the grill. Our weekend entertainment centers around the outdoors for the summer. We have a croquet set and some horseshoes for active fun. Then after dark, there are s'mores to be made, then the waiting and watching for signs of nightlife in the yard. We sometimes see a family of raccoons crossing down by the pond. And the bats are interesting to watch circling over the neighborhood. Occasionally, an owl will be spotted. These creatures keep themselves hidden during the day, but provide interest for us in the evening.

My wish for you is that June will be a month of abundant joys, as it is for me. Let's make June spectacular!

with warmest regards,
Lili Mounce


  1. Hi Lili!

    What lovely summer thoughts. May flew by for me. We had very little spring-like weather--now we are HOT! The temps are supposed to moderate later this week--I prefer that. :)

    Sounds like your girls had a good first year of college. I still think that company-provided lunches are a perk, and I've been working for many years.

    Our lilacs are finishing up but in a couple of weeks we will have peonies. I don't think we get nearly as many strawberries as you, but there's a new local U-pick which we have been taking advantage of. Glad you are enjoying your spring-to-summer transition.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Yes, my daughters had a great first year. It was hard. It was time-consuming in ways we never imagined (commute sometimes involved 3 buses each way). And it was way more expensive than we had planned. All kinds of extra little costs. But they're 1/4 done now, and have good idea of what to expect (and plan for) for next year.

      Our lilac bush finished about a week ago. But nothing on my 1 peony so far. I think I need to move it to a spot with more sun.

      The u-pick strawberry farm will be a lot of fun for you and your kids. And the bonus with visiting a u-pick is, you won't fret over little critters munching on the berries just as you're ready to harvest. Slugs, squirrels and mountain beavers devour a good share of berries every year, here.

      I hope that June is off to a fabulous start for you!

    2. Um, I will be staying inside in air-conditioned comfort as my husband goes picking. He likes to take the kids to pick produce and who am I to stand in the way of his bonding time with them? :)

      We moved our 3 peonies after we moved into our home and discovered they didn't bloom. It took about 3 years for us to get blooms again--and 2 of the 3 do really well, but I think our 3rd one still doesn't get enough sun.

      My husband is afraid the strawberries will form next week when we are on vacation. He plans on covering them with netting--we have nesting orioles in our yard, which is great, but ... they like fruit. We shall see ...

      I think I would also have a hard time predicting expenses for the first year of college. It's tricky enough for my son entering middle school! We are now renting (to own, if he continues having an interest) a trombone ... wasn't expecting THAT quite yet, but the band leaders wanted to give the kids a jump start on their instruments this summer before they are officially in 6th grade.

    3. Wait! Your son is going into middle school?! How did that happen?! I had it in my mind that your two were still mid-elementary. Wow! Before you know it, you'll be the proud mama of a high schooler!

      Oh, those band instruments can be soooo expensive! But, just about all of kids activities cost something. If it's not band instruments, then it's sport's equipment/gear/shoes. My sister spent a small fortune of high school sports' stuff for her son.

      I hope for you all that the netting works. It's rather frustrating to plant something, anticipate it's harvest, only to discover birds, rabbits or squirrels have gotten almost all of it. And I think your husband will have a lot of fun with the kids -- Daddy-bonding time is important.

    4. Kris,
      Just a word of caution with the netting. My sister uses netting on some of their berries to protect them from birds. However, birds can get caught in it and have to be rescued. It should be checked daily. So maybe you could have a neighbor check it while you're gone.

  2. Thanks, L&L. I'll mention it to my husband. We have someone watching our cat daily so it shouldn't be too hard to check on that, too.

    I knew band instruments were expensive ... I just didn't think we would start with that until the fall. In the long run, the timing probably make much difference. It would be cheaper to buy the instrument outright, but I want to make sure he sticks with it and that he won't want to change instruments.

  3. For me June is the month of blooming milkweed, with their beautiful pink flowers that smell every bit as good as lilacs. We have some along our back fence. If the wind is blowing just right you can smell them from a distance.

    June is also the month of ripe raspberries. Usually by the end of the month or very early July they are ripe, at least the first batch. These bushes produce berries again in late August or early September. As you like your strawberries fresh that's how I like the raspberries but I try to save and freeze as many as possible in order to get enough for a batch of jam.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I'm not sure I've ever seen milkweed. Do you get many Monarch butterflies as a result?
      I hope your raspberries do well this year. Our canes look pretty full, but it's too early to tell. Most of ours are July-bearing, but I have one plant that's ever-bearing, which it sounds like what yours are. Raspberry jam is one of my favorite jams, but I have yet to have enough raspberries to make jam. Good luck with yours!

  4. Lili, that is terrific about your daughters being able to work for the university and earn some of their tuition. And Fridays do sound wonderful, how nice for the university to do that for them. That IS a real perk (at ANY age, lol). How nice of them to do that for the student workers. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      And the pay is pretty good for a student employee, which we are so grateful for. It's not always easy for teens to land jobs, these days. Many jobs that used to only be held by teens have now been taken up by older workers. So we/re especially grateful for university employment, as they almost always seem to have jobs for teens/students. My son worked on campus year round, all 4 years, and I think that helped him land a good job when he graduated.
      I would love it if someone would provide lunch for me! It's a nice perk.

  5. We had a lovely May in Southern Ohio. It actually felt like we had a Spring this year. The temperatures were very moderate and I was able to have the windows open a lot...which I love!

    I'm excited about June! My 17 year old son started his first job over Memorial Day weekend. He is working at a Lake/Resort that is only a 4 mile drive from our house. We are 35 miles away from the city, so he is very blessed to find work so close to home! He is loving his job.

    Our garden is growing nicely, for the most part. We planted 6 rows of corn, and it all actually came up this year. Our half-runner beans are doing well. We already have little Roma tomatoes and lots of blooms. We also have bell pepper blooms. Our green onions are growing quickly as are the candy sweet onions. I'm not having very good luck with my cucumber and zucchini this year though. I planted two hills of each. We had an unusually late frost a couple of weeks ago and two hills of the zucchini were killed and one hill of the cucumbers. So, I replanted those and now one of the cucumber plants in one of the hills has died. From what I understand, I'll have to replant another cucumber in that hill for pollination. Our two hills of zucchini aren't looking great. I'm not sure why, as it hasn't really been too wet or too dry and they have the proper amount of sun. It's funny...last year the zucchini did the best of everything in the garden.

    We aren't going to have a large fruit harvest this year. We have 1 red apple tree, 2 green apple trees and 1 yellow apple tree. Last year they were hanging full. This year the blooms were few and far between. We only have a few green apples, but a decent amount of red and yellow...just nothing compared to last year. I read that sometimes trees compensate for a heavy year by following with a light one. I actually think I should have thinned the blooms last year but it was my first year living there and having fruit trees and I didn't know.

    Same thing with our pear tree. Last year it was hanging full and this year won't be nearly as plentiful. I still have lots of pear and apple butter from last year though!

    The peach trees didn't fare the Winter very well. When we moved into our house, there were 4 peach trees there. They were all hanging full of peaches last Summer. We lost two of the peach trees in an ice storm over the Winter. Of the 2 remaining peach trees, one didn't leaf out this Spring and the one that did, didn't have a single bloom. We are thinking of replanting some peach trees in the Fall.

    Our blackberries that grow along our fence are doing well though. It looks like we will have a lot if I can get them before the birds. I'm hoping to make some blackberry jam.

    We have two lilac bushes and they didn't bloom this Spring. They have leaves on them and look fine...just no blooms. It was disappointing, because I love the smell. I really have no idea what happened, but I'm wondering if it had to do with the exceptionally cold winter we had.

    Happy Summer everyone!

    1. I meant to write thin the fruit...not the blooms. :)


    2. HI Angie,
      I have to say thank you, for mentioning your fruit trees and not having as much. Our apple trees are so full of tiny fruit, fuller than they've ever been. And I've been reluctant to thin them, although I know that's the best thing to do. Fruit trees can get stuck in an alternate bearing habit. And it's important to thin when they bear overly heavy. Which is what I will now make myself do. It wouldn't be good for the branches, anyway, to allow so much fruit to develop. Too heavy a load, I think.

      I hope your blackberries do well, very well. And awesome news about your son's job! Like I was just saying in my comment above, it's hard for teens to land jobs these days. So, kudos to him!

      Are you very far from Columbus? My nephew just moved there. I'm hoping he enjoys his time in Columbus.

    3. You are welcome. I wish I had known to thin our fruit last year. We had limbs breaking under the weight of all of the peaches. All of the peaches were so tiny. I've read that thinning would have helped that as well. Oh well, live and learn, right? Since moving back to the country, I am really enjoying learning to care for the fruit trees and grow our own garden. It gives me a feeling of contentment and satisfaction.

      It has been hard for my teenage son to find a job. Like you said, there are so many adults working jobs that used to be mainly held by teenagers. I didn't know until my son started applying at the local grocery stores and fast food restaurants. With the increase of adult workers, many businesses don't even hire under the age of 18. Very few of my sons friends have been able to find part-time jobs. As opposed to when I was a teenager and had my choice of lots of part-time jobs.

      I'm about 80 miles from Columbus. I've lived in a more rural area all of my life. To me, Columbus is 'the big city', since our closest towns and cities are much smaller. :) I have family in Columbus and the surrounding ' uncle, two aunts and lots of cousins. We get up there a couple of times a year maybe, and I'm always in awe of the size of the city and all of the stores and restaurants. Coming from a rural area, I can't even imagine driving there every day and dealing with the traffic. I would guess that your nephew will enjoy Columbus though. My family who live there all love it...there is just so much to see and do.


    4. Yes, thinning produces larger fruit. It's so hard to do. But I keep reminding myself that we'll have more in the long run by thinning. I've been going out there and just thinning a branch or two at a time. Thanks for the info about Columbus. It will be interesting to hear how my nephew likes that city. He grew up in So. Calif. but went to school in Indiana, so at least he has an idea of what the seasons are like. I imagine a single, young adult would love living in a big city, with so much going on all the time.
      My daughters had a difficult time finding a job last summer, until they applied at the university they attend. For every opening they applied for, there were at least 200 other people, more qualified than themselves. I hope your son is enjoying his job.

  6. hi lilli,
    june is also a rose months here.i love my roses especially the english rose.
    yesterday have i harvest my first black currant and.a few strawberries.the blackberries are full in blossom,i hope of a rich crop.i will make jam,syrup from the blackberries.
    wish you a wonderful restweek,
    warm hugs regina

    1. Hi Regina,
      I saw the beautiful roses on your blog! My English roses are about to bloom, but it looks like yours are in full bloom right now. I hope for you that your crops of berries are abundant. The blackberry jam and syrup will be a wonderful reminder of summer, when the ground is blanketed with snow.
      Have a lovely day!


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