Sometimes Summer Bugs Me: Link Up #3 For 30 Days of Summer

Even though summer’s my favorite, sometimes it still bugs me.  Literally.

Once the heat arrives, so do these obnoxious little bugs pictured above. They leave a disgusting trail of little black specks on my favorite front porch sitting area. And this year, they decimated my rose-bush!

Am I the only one battling the Japanese beetles? And I have news for the Farmer’s Almanac and numerous other on-line sources: Box wood bushes do not repel them!  Come visit our bushes and watch the swarm. YUCK!

Geraniums are a mixed blessing. Apparently, they both attract them and harm the nasty little things. Did I mention the bugs give off a quite disgusting odor? For about a month, I’ve walked by my geraniums commenting: Wow, those are sure stinky plants this year!

Except, my geraniums were fine and not overly stinky. The bugs put out a scent to attract others. Ugh. And why, I won’t buy the traps. I have enough of these beetles, thanks.  The only beetles I want to trap (and then let go) are lightning bugs.

After spraying dish soap water without any success, I found some answers.

Nature To The Rescue!

I knew these little shell spiders were my favorites for a reason! Guess what I found in this web? Yep, lots of tiny Japanese beetles. You are welcome in our yard anytime, little spider.

This morning, I noticed a neighborhood of 3 spiders with 2 webs between the box wood bushes and one in my flower garden area. Hopefully, they’ll focus on ridding the yard of those nasty pests.

I also recently read paper wasps are natural predators of the Japanese beetles as well. While I’m still not a fan of wasps, the tiny tidbit of information makes me a bit more tolerant.

Another Random Use For Essential Oils

After spending too much time reading about how to eradicate the world of Japanese beetles, I decided to spray my bushes with my Thieves cleaning spray. I sort of did it on a whim to see if it would help.  Cinnamon is a primary ingredient.

So far after spraying my rose-bush and box wood bushes with it, I do think I’m seeing fewer of the gross bugs.  I may have sprayed a few beetles directly to make sure they were unhappy with the scent.

Between myself and the spiders I think we may win back the yard!

Just in case we need reinforcements, I’m open to suggestions for dealing with these summer pests.

Our 3rd Link Up in the 30 Days of Summer Blogging Series Follows

Remember you can link up as many times as you’d like (just make sure your posts relate to summer) and our link ups last until the next Wednesday.

Fourth of July Traditions, Past and Present

Maybe as a kid I had a different favorite holiday. However, I don’t remember any holiday but this one being my favorite.

Why is the Fourth of July my favorite holiday? 

  • It happens during my favorite season (summer!)
  • For the most part, it’s a low-stress holiday (no extra shopping except for fireworks)
  • I love fireworks!
  • There’s always good food!
  • I get to see my family!
  • There are lots of things to do but not so much as to feel as though you’ve missed out if you skip it

I thought it would be fun to write a post about Fourth of July traditions. Reflecting back on the being a kid during this holiday to what I do now. An Independence Day through the years post if you’ll indulge me.

My Fourth of July Holidays as a kid

I’m pretty sure the food from this holiday might be why it became my favorite. My mom made barbecued chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, and later, a cake mix lemon cake I loved.

My dad took us each year to Blue Springs, MO  to buy fireworks. And we’d get “the tour” of the area as he grew up there.  His dad’s house (I never knew my grandfather as he died long before my arrival) and farm set on an area now occupied by the police station.

While the cooking happened in the kitchen, I along with perhaps my older brother or a friend as I grew older, spent my time outside worrying my parents as I set off my small collection of fireworks.

Later in the afternoon, we’d get in the car and head out to Aunt Thelma’s house, she lived in the country with plenty of space to explore as well as worry my parents with more fireworks. I vaguely remember walking to check out “the pond.”  And of course, there were fireworks from all the cousins (and my own family) at night. And lots of great food including my mom’s contributions.

Fourth of July With My Family Before Our Own Kids Arrived

Once Aunt Thelma passed away, my different family members hosted Fourth of July, usually one of my brothers.  My brothers were firefighters which always made the holiday um, interesting and exciting. Still does. Choosing the Fourth of July as a family event to bring my (not yet) husband around to meet family certainly was a test. Lucky he stayed, I think.

After my husband and I married, we alternated holidays. Smaller family with a smaller gathering followed by simply going somewhere to view a display didn’t do much for me. (Not that there’s anything at all wrong with it.) At some point, I quit sharing this holiday. We see his family quite a bit more than mine (easier with fewer people) so I think it’s fair.

And Now, My Favorite Holiday Traditions With My Own Kids

We still go to my family’s gathering most of the time.  J loves this holiday possibly even more than I do. Mainly, he’s quite the fireworks expert. And can discuss the best brand to get, value, and pretty much everything else about them. G, however, lists this one as his least favorite holiday (and that’s okay).

At some point, we started decorating cookies for the Fourth of July but the boys started to outgrow that one. And I always watch my favorite Fourth of July movie every year: Independence Day! (Stay away from that  remake unless you favor stink bombs). We also visit the Fireworks stands on the Fourth to check out the discounts.

If you live in the US, do you enjoy this holiday? What are some of your Fourth of July traditions?


Happy Homemaker Monday, The Saturday Afternoon Edition

Whoa…starting the weekly planning a little early over here. Somehow the coming week is not on par to be a slow holiday week.

I work Monday, Tuesday, and Friday next week. Then, right in the middle there’s my favorite holiday, Independence Day (aka The Fourth of July). Plus, we may be taking an unexpected trip out-of-town later this week.

Saturday weekly planning it is! I’ll be linking up this post with Sandra, our host, over at Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom later on Monday (today if I did all the scheduling of the posts things right).

The Weather 

Still hot although there’s a chance of rain tomorrow and things today (Saturday) aren’t too bad (though my phone says it feels like 105 out there). Low to mid 90’s for the rest of the week including the holiday.

Right Now I Am

Wondering if the rain predicted for tomorrow might be arriving a bit early. Keep thinking I hear the rumble of thunder and it looks hazy out but the noise could easily be fireworks.


Way too much on my mind. What’s that thing about a mind being like a browser with all the tabs open. Just a few of my “mind tabs” this afternoon: possibly finding a craft for the preschool kids for Monday and Tuesday, what we’re going to have for dinner, the blister on the back of my foot (wore the wrong shoes to work yesterday), the health of my husband’s grandfather (the prognosis is not good), the Fourth of July, writing posts for this blog, cleaning the house, laundry, and…AND just too much.

On My Reading Pile

Maybe I’ll quiet all those thoughts and just pick up one of my books after I finish this post. Maybe I’ll start The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

Last weekend/week, I finished three books.  I finally finished Life Moves Pretty Fast :The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn Them From Movies Anymore)  by Hadley Freeman. As well as The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson and Lighthouse Beach by Shelley Noble. You can find my reviews on Goodreads if interested.

On My TV

Not sure what I’ll get around to watching this week. Hoping if I watch movies on Netflix, I’ll make better choices than the horrible Singularity I picked last night.

On The Menu This Week

Holiday week, trying to save a bit on the summer spending, and full days working, means it’s going to be a super simple menu around here.

MONDAY:  Pork chops and sweet potatoes *I work 9-5:30*

TUESDAY: Tacos *I work 9-5:30* *MNO*

WEDNESDAY: Frozen pizza, Crunch Coleslaw *Fourth of July*

THURSDAY: Still craving the BLT’s or steak (no, we still haven’t cooked it!)

FRIDAY: Leftovers *I work 9-5:30*

On My To-Do List

  1. Go to grocery store (Sunday)
  2. Clean house/Laundry
  3. Renew library books/return finished books
  4. Make sure everything is written on calendar (turns out sometimes they do look at it!)
  5. Get outside welcome mat for back door

In The Craft Basket

Not much. May look for a Fourth of July craft to attempt with the preschool kids this week.

Looking Forward To

Spending time with family on the Fourth of July.

Looking Around The House

I think I need to pick a space and just focus on getting that area clean each week. However, as I look around the house, I have no idea where to start. Maybe I’ll focus on the living room since it’s an easy room to clean/keep clean (sometimes).

From The Camera

We said goodbye to Toys R Us:

And J and I had snow cones, one to cross off the summer bucket list (Pro tip: Don’t try to eat snow cones on a 100+ degree day while the teenager is driving unless you want to clean the car interior in the same weather. Lesson learned.)

Quote For The Week

More calendar wisdom…




Our Days In Duluth: Exploring The North Shore

Turns out you don’t drive north when you explore the north shore. From Duluth, it’s the north shore of Lake Superior but you’re actually driving east. That stumped me for a bit.

On Tuesday, we roused our boys early enough to eat the free breakfast in the hotel. Then, we set out to explore the North shore of Lake Superior.

Traveling The North Shore Scenic Highway

Taking a minute to say we hardly ever take the scenic routes because my husband is a no unnecessary detours kind of driver. I’m more a stop and see everything type. Getting to take the scenic route for day: a highlight of our vacation for me.

Exploring The Rocky Shores Along Highway

We took our time. And stopped to get out and check out the shores.  And waited for J to explore all the rocks. 

Two Harbors, Minnesota 

We stopped for lunch at Subway in Two Harbors, Minnesota. We played it safe in our food choice. And did a bit more exploring. 

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Eventually, we arrived at one of our primary destinations, Gooseberry Falls State Park. I added quite a few license plates to my ongoing list in the parking lot.  Note the guy off to the side in the photo above in swim trunks, we decided that group must be from Alaska! We were wearing sweatshirts though it did feel fairly warm on the hiking trails.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

I couldn’t get my husband to drive any further up the highway Our final stop, like the others, felt like walking in a postcard. 

We opted not to tour the lighthouse but rather enter the state park and view it from the shore via a short hiking trail. The shores of the state park were on par with the beauty of the lighthouse. The shore also proved to be a great place to take a rest and watch the waves.

“Home” again

Once “home” again, we watched a big ship go under the bridge before calling it a night. 

I’m posting our vacation recap as part of the 30 Days of Summer blogging series! You can read other posts about our days in Duluth here and here.

Soggy, Summer Birds

I’ve been a bit too busy and it’s been a bit too hot to venture too far away from home.  Still, the backyard birds manage to keep me entertained.

On Tuesday, I made a run to Target. The forecast called for thunderstorms and it had already rained in the morning. It’s not going to rain again until tonight, I defiantly announced and set off to do my shopping.

As I stood in line to pay for my purchases, we all heard it. The rain hammering down on the roof of the store. There’s some odd sense of Midwest security and camaraderie that emerges when those pop-up storms come while in a store. The “I should have brought an umbrella” and the discussion of the weather ensues. And the rain continues.

The onslaught of raindrops paused as I finished paying for my purchases. I made it almost to my car before in a practical joking sense, mother nature let loose again with yet another downpour. Soaked in sank into my car and drove home noticing the super dark skies (between the furiously working wiper blades).

Once home, I observed the menacing dark skies to the south. Went inside to ask my husband if they’d issued any weather warnings. He didn’t think so although none of my family bothered to check the weather.  Turns out there were tornado warnings just southeast of us.

However, this post is about the birds. After the storm officially left, I glanced out the backdoor and noticed some rather soggy birds. (Please bear with my photos, I’m still trying to figure out my photo editing with Windows 10.)

Soggy, summer birds:

The cardinal stood out against the green leaves and clearing sky:  Grackles are going strong in our neighborhood, raising their young and keeping the rest of us, birds, cats, and humans, in line.  (Young grackles are kind of cute)
The last photo I’m including simply to show the purplish-blue shimmer of the Grackle since it’s not noticeable in the photos above.  While not easy to photograph, they are amazing to watch as I’ve noticed they seem to have a quite complex system of communicating and really do stick together.

Other birds I spotted this week:

house sparrows, doves, lots more grackles!, a pair of robins letting a squirrel know exactly who was in charge of things (hint: not the squirrel), blue-jays, turkey vultures flying overhead, some type of hawk with striped tail feathers (flew over my car on the way to work too fast for any proper id), and a mockingbird.

What birds did you spot this week?

(Joining in with the Bird D’Pot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’)

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