Author: Lara

I am grateful for this new month! August ushered in a refreshing change of temperature, signifying a new season ahead. And it’s right on time. The cool air in the mornings here lately has made me take extra deep breaths in. It has been a relief from the heat of summer, and my garden is showing more joy with this fresh air too. Transition, I am learning, is a gift. This new month is an opportunity to start fresh, embrace the changes that are happening, and make the most of this life!

We welcomed one of our new team members, Kaylee, in July. We took her to Tomato Day at the farmer’s market to celebrate!

Here is a recap of July and the little-by-little progress I made on PowerSheets goals.

On my blog in July:

– My July Goals and Some New Thoughts
– Gracie’s Garden Tour + a Secret Garden Reveal
– I’d love to see you at Making Things Happen in March!
– How to Get Hired: 10 Essential Interviewing Tips
– Three Tips for Embracing Change

On the Cultivate Blog:

– Our July PowerSheets Party
– July Goals Round-Up
– Introducing Kaylee!

– A Recap of the Cultivate Book Launch Party
– Making Things Happen is happening in 2018!
– Our Top Resources for Goal Setting
– How to Pay Down Debt in 2017
– Podcast Recommendations
– Cultivating Habits in a Season of Transition
– How to Use Stickers in Your PowerSheets and Planner (this is one of my favorite posts this month!)
– Our Favorite Things in July

My July Goals Progress:

– Pray impossible prayers and be open. – Yes, there have been several significant personal challenges this last month and we have prayed some big prayers.
– Register our homeschool and write a “starting” plan. – I have not registered yet because we haven’t come up with a homeschool name yet (any suggestions??), but I did order lots of starting materials and feel like I am 70% done planning our start.
– Sing – because I’m grateful. – This was so fun and gratifying! I sang hymns with the kids one afternoon, sang to Sarah several times to calm her when she was upset, sang with Ari while he played guitar on Saturday, and sang a lot with Grace on our walks this month. It was so good to worship the Lord and have fun in this way!
– Teach with His wisdom (focusing on helping friends use their PowerSheets well this month to prepare well for a great second half of the year!). – Yes, I shared on my IG stories and in a live broadcast about good goals (WATCH HERE: How to get the most out of your PowerSheets), and I did an impromptu broadcast sharing what I am learning in reading Isaiah lately.
– Steward our time and finances well and passionately. – This one leads me to one of my August goals. More below!
– Prepare for the fall (for the homeschool transition and our Write the Word and 2018 PowerSheets releases coming soon). – Yes, I made progress here, and Write the Word re-launches at the end of August!
– Prune my time (for the above). – Yes, and I am considering hiring another employee to help on this front. I am still praying about it and sorting through what that role would look like.
– Enjoy the garden and praise the Master Gardener. Most definitely! We enjoyed cantaloupe, herbs, zucchini, and lots of flowers from the garden this week, and we have all LOVED watching the “Magical Trio” (the goldfinches, butterflies, and bees) on the zinnias! Here is the most recent garden tour, and it has grown so much since then!

Grace in our secret garden 🙂

July weekly goals:
– Worship the Lord in our date nights – Yes!
– Stretch my perceived limits to grow strength and endurance in my fitness – Yes, I tried hard.
– Read Traction – Moving this to August!
– Read What’s Best Next – Yes, I made progress and have loved this book so far.
– Read Teaching from Rest. – I didn’t start this one, but instead Ari and I started 12 Ways Yoru Phone is Changing You and we have been loving reading The Secrets of Happy Families every night.

July daily goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal! – Yes!
– #RunLiftPraise – Yes!
– Delight our children – Yes! This has been one of my favorite and most fruitful goals. I did everything from making these pancakes for breakfast (so good) to leaving Grace a surprise note, to making up extra silly stories for bedtime. It has been fun!
– Stay active in my work days —see how I do it here! – Yes!
– Praise Him out loud! – Yes, I prayed out loud a lot this month, which I will continue to do.

Here are my PowerSheets goals for August:

– Set homeschool in motion. Our official start is September, but we are getting our feet wet this month!
– Make Ebenezer’s with the Lord. This goal was inspired by 1st Samuel and a message at church about making memories with the Lord. When we make memories with friends, it bonds us closer together. We end up telling “remember when” stories, and we feel connected. I wrote about intentionally remembering all the Lord has done in our lives in Cultivate, and I am excited to do more of this in August.
– Refresh our family goals with the Parent’s Goal Guide (and I’m excited to chat with Korie Robertson tomorrow about setting goals as a parent!)
– Read + DO What’s Best Next
– Lead our Fall Team Summit with joy. Each quarter, our team has a summit to learn and grow together.
– Give a transparent and light-filled Core Business Presentation. I’m in a small group of Christian business CEO’s and it’s my turn this month to share everything about our business to get their guidance and feedback. I’m excited!
– Pray over + through the 2018 PowerSheets shoot. This has turned into quite a production. I’ll share more behind-the-scenes on August 21!
– Joyfully re-release Write the Word (Our sold-out Write the Word journals will be back in stock on August 23rd!)
– Suprise —- [I can’t tell you yet!:)]

I asked Ari to write something in my encouraging words box, and I’m so grateful I did.

June weekly goals:
– $100/week on groceries. Let me preface this by saying that the Isaacson’s eat a lot. We go through two dozen bananas and 2-3 dozen eggs a week. Josh is also allergic to dairy and soy, so we are limited with some choices. All this to say, groceries is one of the largest categories in our budget. I read an article recently about a family of five that spends $100 on food per week and it inspired me. It feels doable with some creativity and determination. We are giving this a try and have already made progress. I’m excited to teach Grace through this and get creative.
– WORK IT. I want to have more fun working out this month.
– Love Sarah + Mackenzie with prayer. Mackenzie is our new caregiver (thank you so much to many friends who prayed for us in this process) and she starts training today! This is exciting to welcome an amazing new woman to our family, but also sad because we love Sarah so much. (Sarah is having a baby this fall!) My goal is to love them both through lots of love and prayer in this transition.
– Encourage and pray for my buddy, Amber. In our office, we have a new buddy each month to encourage, and I’m so glad mine is Amber for August!
– Grow our faith in our date nights
– Enjoy the garden

June daily goals:

– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal!
– #RunLiftPraise
– Delight our children
– Stay active in my work days —see how I do it here!

August Goals

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The aforementioned hungry gents in our house, the orchid I wrote about in Cultivate bloomed again, and some other fun pics from July.

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for August? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to July’s winner, Kylee Merritt!

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This season ahead is full of change for our family. I’m taking a big leap and starting homeschool with Grace. This means a lot of things are changing, namely my work schedule and what will be filling my brain and heart each day. The journey ahead isn’t just about teaching her to read and write and discover the world (I’m going to have to rely on Ari to teach math!); it’s about cultivating her heart. More on homeschool in another post as we figure out what’s best for our family.

Today, I want to talk about change.

Homeschool isn’t the only thing changing around here. We’re hiring a new team member, transitioning to a new caregiver, and I found out some health news last week that has me in a bit of a tailspin (I am 37 and this is happening). Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Six months ago, I was nervous about the homeschool transition, but the little-by-little steps I’ve taken with my PowerSheets have added up. I am excited and ready.

That doesn’t mean the next few weeks and months won’t be challenging, though.
Change–even good change–can be uncomfortable.

Change is hard.
Transitions are hard.

But, after the last two years of rapid life change, here’s something I never thought I would say about this season ahead:

I am grateful to be stretched outside of my comfort zone.

We humans like certainty and known outcomes, am I right planner friends? Our brains seek out patterns and habits because they require less brain activity, so change literally feels uncomfortable. It feels like a lot of work because it is more work for our brains—and hearts.

That means that true change is supposed to feel hard. It may even mean we are growing in the right direction and changing for the better.

You might be thinking right now that you do not want change, even if it’s for the better. But, let’s dig a little deeper.
Do you want to live more intentionally?
If so, then yes, you do want change! You just may not want the hard parts that come along with it.

We want it but we don’t want it, right? : )

Do you have a transition or something new ahead?

Whether you’re starting something new, taking a leap of faith, walking through a season of waiting, helping kids transition back to school, or are in the thick of something challenging that’s pushing you outside of your comfort zone, here are three tips for embracing change. Disclaimer: these tips don’t apply to every situation, but I almost hesitate to even give that disclaimer! Y’all are wise beyond your years. Apply these tips with prayer and wisdom! They have certainly helped me in many situations over the last two years:

1) Go with it to grow with it. Resisting change might be making you spin your wheels, holding you back from potentially better outcomes. We try so hard to resist change, but that’s like resisting the seasons and wearing shorts in the winter! Winter clothes in the winter months are a good thing. You should wear them. : ) The alternative is to stay in your comfort zone and not actually be that comfortable in the end. Growth and change are inevitable parts of every new season.

2) Think big picture to break out of small thinking. Ask yourself, “Will this change get me closer to where I want to be when I’m 80 years old?” For me, will homeschooling Grace be crazy hard in the short term? Yes, likely. Will it bring me to my knees? Yes, I anticipate so. But, in the big picture, will it help Ari and me cultivate Grace’s unique heart? Lord willing, yes. Will taking a leap of faith and hiring a new team member help us grow and flourish–and therefore change more lives? Yes. Will embracing the changes my body is going through help me to uncover solutions? Most definitely. Denial is a comfortable place to be until it’s not. 🙂 In the big picture, could that leap of faith, move, big step, hard thing, or transition be good in the end? Sometimes we won’t know the answers until we embrace where we are and dig in to find out.

3) Consider something crazy: change might be good! The times I’m stretched to change are times I end up feeling most at peace. Why? Because I rely on God more instead of myself. When everything feels out of my control and I just can’t fix it all or figure it out or handle the change, I remember that I don’t have to. As I wrote in Cultivate, “You likely have heard the popular phrase: ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ Those words are lovely and instill confidence, but that doesn’t last. I know a deeper truth: She believed she couldn’t, so He did. You don’t have to make it all happen. You just have to take one step forward in faith and let Him do the rest. Where you can’t, God already has.” Surrendering in times of change helps me to find a peace that passes all understanding–a joy that supersedes all the hard stuff.

Change is hard, but change is essential for growth. In order to grow, a seed first has to let go of its outer shell.

Your turn! What change are you facing right now? Has it been hard? Are you feeling some fear? Do you have a tip for embracing change that has helped you? I’d love to hear from you!

I’m excited to interview Korie Robertson, mom to six and author of Strong and Kind, on Wednesday, August 2nd at Noon EST. We’ll be talking about embracing change and cultivating strong families. Registration is FREE. If you can’t join live, a replay will be available for those who register. I’m so excited for this time with you and Korie!

P.S. To help you cultivate what matters in the season ahead, everything in the Cultivate Shop is 25% off now through July 31st, and domestic orders over $50 get free shipping using the code BACKTOSCHOOL. This is a clearance sale as we get ready for new products in the fall – many of these items are limited edition. My top three favorites in the shop right now are The PowerSheets Companion Guide for Parents (which has helped our family prepare for this transition ahead–and have a whole lot more fun in the process!), the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, and our top-seller right now is a NEW bundle: The Cultivate Starter Bundle. I have already sent this to several friends as gifts!

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The Making Things Happen Conference began in 2009 after I posted a blog entry answering a question I’d been emailed. I was running Southern Weddings magazine, doing brand consulting, and producing high-end weddings (wow, how life has changed since then!), and the woman who emailed wanted to know, “How do you make things happen, Lara?”

At the time, having your own “creative business” was not commonplace. In fact, it was in many ways, looked down upon to step outside the bounds of the corporate world to pave your own path. If you didn’t have formal training in something, how could you pursue it as a career?

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I fought these thoughts: How could I lead a team when I had no experience? How could I publish a magazine without a degree in journalism or business? How could I succeed on mere passion and gusto?

The truth is, I couldn’t. But, I’ll get to that part of the story in a minute.

I replied to the woman and asked her if it would be okay if I blogged my answer so others could be encouraged too. As soon as I hit publish on the post “How to Make Things Happen,” my life changed forever. Dozens of comments poured in. Emails. Texts. Calls. This post had struck a chord with people who were tired of feeling stuck. That first post grew quickly into a movement. A friend suggested I take these ideas on the road and teach them to people.

Emily Ley above at the very first Making Things Happen intensive in Watercolor, Florida, in 2009

Emily Ley, Gina Zeidler and I traveled all across the country doing the Making Things Happen Intensive together. We visited dozens of cities and made friends that are still strong to this day. It was an exciting time of helping people break down barriers and to do the things they’d always wanted to do.

Above: on tour in Atlanta in 2011

But, here’s where the story takes a turn.

I did all the things I wanted to do (at the time). I had a growing business. I was traveling and speaking and doing creative work. But, it came at a cost. I didn’t know how to balance it all. Even doing too much of a good thing is too much. My marriage was falling apart. I was working 24/7 at the expense of everything else. My work became my worth. You can read the whole story in my book, Make It Happen.

I couldn’t succeed on mere passion and gusto. I had to learn to make the right things happen. I began learning these truths:

Making things happen means knowing that you don’t have to do it all, be it all, or have it all.

Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS–on growing what lasts longer than you.

 

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Making things happen means learning to say NO to what is holding you back, and YES to your unique assignment–not someone else’s assignment.

Making things happen means making decisions that will get you to where you want to be when you’re 80 years old.

Making things happen means taking risks, taking action, and embracing tension.

Making things happen – the right things – changes everything.

The 2015 Making Things Happen Conference where I first met my farmer-florist friend Erin Benzakein.

As I began learning these truths and living them, the Making Things Happen movement did an 180-degree turn too. We got off the road and turned the intensive into a two-day conference here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the biggest change of all was teaching attendees to make the right things happen.

Everyone else was saying, “Do more! Be more!” And you know what? That was wearing everyone out. We began teaching something entirely different: do less. Do what matters.

Our 1000+ alumni have made dreams come to life, launched new businesses, left behind unfulfilling habits, transformed marriages and families, and helped thousands of other women live on purpose too. And it was out of this conference and my annual Goal Setting Series that an editor approached me about writing my first book, Make It Happen. This work was resonating with people. It was different.

The MTH Encouragement Crew!

Who is MTH for? This is where MTH is different from other conferences. You won’t be listening to a panel of speakers tell you how to do things; you’ll be led through a powerful process where YOU uncover good goals and make an action plan that fits your specific life and dreams. MTH is for everyone: love-at-home moms, corporate CEO’s, students, creatives, non-creatives, and everyone in between have joined us over the last nine years. Whether you know what you want to make happen and need an action plan, or you need help uncovering good goals, MTH is for you. And all ages join us: from college freshmen to women in their 60’s who are ready for a new chapter in life. The unifying factor is a desire to live intentionally and make the most of your time and gifts.

MTH is unlike any other conference. It’s like doing PowerSheets in person and meeting a group of women who think like you and will cheer you on in every step forward. Together, we uncover what matters to you and do something about it. Every time I lead this conference, I do the work right along with the attendees. And every time I’m changed. There’s no magic to it, but we have learned a lot over these nine years to help women simplify and take action. You might be a mother or wife who is struggling to balance family responsibilities. You might be a working professional trying to run with a big idea. Or you might be a small business owner burning the candle at both ends. (Or all of the above!) If you’re ready to use your potential on purpose, MTH is for you.

The March 2017 Conference at the Carolina Inn

I want you to join me in Chapel Hill on March 19 and 20th for our 52nd experience! This is the only conference I’ll be speaking at in 2018. Many of you have told me you’d love to go. Take the leap. I’ve been doing this conference for nine years and I believe in the work we are doing. Your gifts have a purpose and they were meant to be used!

The early-bird rate ($1000 off) ends December 31—or till we sell out—and we’ve sold out every conference. Since we are not doing a conference this coming fall (we’re launching the 10th-anniversary issue of Southern Weddings in November!), we fully expect to sell out for March.

Want to take a peek inside the conference? Take a look here. I can’t wait to see you there! GET YOUR SEAT NOW.

I’d love to hear from you: what do you want to make happen?

Yvette above at MTH 2015, doing what she did best: sharing her heart and passion for the good of others!

P.S. We’re giving away one scholarship seat in memory my long-time friend, Yvette Price, who embodied all that we teach at MTH. She was courageous in her battle with cancer and made what matters happen despite great challenges. She grew what would last longer than her: a whole lot of love and joy in the lives of others. In her honor, we’re excited to give away one seat to either an alum or new attendee. This scholarship is for the full ticket price not including travel or accommodations. Enter below to win the Yvette Price Scholarship by July 31st!

Big congratulations to Katie T. for winning the first Yvette Price Scholarship!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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We are a small team of nine women who run both Cultivate What Matters and Southern Weddings. Half of us work in our main office here in North Carolina, and the other half work remotely from their home states of Tenessee, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia.

Over the last two years, we’ve grown from five employees to nine. We’ve spent close to a hundred hours (not an exaggeration) interviewing, sifting through resumes, and meeting candidates from all over the world in these last 24 months. With such a tight knit company culture of women who wear many hats, finding new team members is something we have done with great thoroughness and care.

We spent all of 2015 interviewing for a new marketing and customer delight roles. After sifting through hundreds of applicants, we hired Amber and Jess. We then spent the first part of 2017 seeking two additional people to add to our team in brand new roles. We had over 300 applicants and hired Kaylee and another amazing woman who we will introduce you to soon. Lastly, I personally spent the months of May and June interviewing dozens of women from all over the country for a challenging role to fill. We ended up hiring the last candidate we interviewed! I see why larger companies have recruiters and entire departments for hiring because this has taken up a significant amount of time on my end. But, it has been worth it. I love these ladies and the work we have been entrusted with!

All this to say, I’ve done a lot of interviewing (not just in the last two years) and kept thinking to myself (and I mean this in the kindest way!), “How do people not know these things!?” Well, now you will! 🙂 The following tips are a compilation of my own advice, tips from my team, and I even asked Ari, who helps interview new residents and fellows for UNC, what he thought. He said these tips were spot-on and I have to give him credit for number 8!

Here are our top ten tips for interviewing well, in whatever job arena you might be considering:

1. Number one: be a great fit for the role. This sounds like a no-brainer kind of tip, but we very quickly knocked out a couple hundred applicants in both business job searches by looking to see if the basic requirements of the job roles–which we very intentionally specified–were a match to the applicant’s experience. There is something to be said for being passionate about a potential role that you are willing to learn and work extra hard to catch up to what’s needed, but you increase your chances of getting hired by being a great match in the first place. For example, before Lisa got hired as an editor for Southern Weddings, she reached out to us while she was still in college to see what classes or training she could get to be a great fit for our team, should a job opening become available.  (There wasn’t one in sight at the time!) She followed through and got the training we suggested, and when an opening became available, she was equipped–and hired.

2. Always send prompt follow-up emails after interviews to express your thanks and to share key points about what you enjoyed, or how that conversation helped you to see that you are a great fit for the role. If you are able, and it’s appropriate for your situation (it always is on our team!), send a handwritten note in the mail as well. When I was in college, we were taught to bring the note with us with a pre-stamped addressed envelope, write the note the moment we left (in the parking lot!), and drop it in the nearest mailbox.

3. Express your passion for the role and clearly let the employer know many times over how much you are willing to work hard for the role.

4. Writing matters. Great written communication is essential for any role that requires communication. Even for our caregiver role, this was extremely important to me. Because we are often communicating during the day through text message, it is helpful to have someone who knows how to express themselves well and accurately in words. Written communication that is spell and grammar-checked is so important to showing professionalism. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

5. Have your social media profiles updated with current information, and keep in mind that we look at it all. If someone’s profile is public, we learn a lot about them by checking to see who they follow on social media and how they communicate with others in that space. It’s also a great tool to see what someone loves and learn about their personality!

6. Be mindful of the submission time for your application and correspondence. If you are submitting to a small business, for example, don’t send your cover letter email at 1:00 am. Also, this is a subtle tip, but being the first person to apply for a job isn’t a necessary or helpful strategy (at least on our team isn’t). Take your time within the given application window to be sure you have submitted a thorough and honest application.

7. If you get declined for a role, write a prompt note of thanks. You never know where that connection will lead in the future! For example, Jess got declined for a job with us several years ago and sent me a handwritten note of gratitude after. We ended up hiring her for something different months later. Gracious replies build relationships. And there have been times that someone wasn’t a great fit for a role with us, but I referred them to other great employers.

8. Humility is your best asset. Confidence coupled with humility–the ability to say, “I don’t know it all, but I’m willing to learn and work hard,” is vital.

9. Do your research. Know the products and mission of the company so you can express your knowledge and genuine interest in furthering the mission of the business. Know the names (and correct spelling) of all the people who are in the interview process. Get to know the interviewer(s) (if possible) through social media beforehand to help with any small talk. Do your research in terms of who you are speaking with. Know their background and what role they play in the business. This can help you point out your experiences that might resonate best with that interviewer. Thoroughness and attention to detail are skills employers want.

10. Ask great questions! Come prepared to an interview with thoughtful and prepared questions that show interest and engagement. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. The employer wants to get to know you, but it’s also important to know if they are a good fit for you and vice versa. Practice and think of potential questions that might be asked and how your responses can best reflect the values held by the company. Think of things that you could not find out anywhere else but in an interview: what team members love about the job, what challenges they think you might face in the job, and if they have any reservations about you as a candidate you may be able to address.

A bonus tip: Body language plays a role in the hiring process–make it work in your favor. Take a look at this great Ted Talk for more. Kaylee told us after we hired her that she stopped at the parking lot down the road from our office to “power pose” before her interview. I think it helped! 🙂

Photos by Ally and Bobby and Olivia from Nancy Ray Photography

You also might like: How to Build a Great Team and Set Goals Together

P.S. We’re excited to announce: WE’RE HIRING!

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I have been looking forward to sharing this post for months! We talk a lot about embracing slow growth and little-by-little progress in life here on the blog, but, I’ve had to be extra patient as the literal plants in my garden grew this season.

As I shared in my new book, Cultivate, I am an unlikely gardener because I have often caught myself seeking instant results. This gardening thing didn’t come naturally to me, but as God changed me from the inside out, I began to love the process of planting, tending, and watching things grow over time. Truly good things grow over time, not all at once.

There is an in-between stage in the garden that feels a little awkward. There are plants that I’m not sure are weeds or actual plants yet. There are some things that grew quickly, and many things that are taking their time. It’s awkward!

But, there is life happening in the in-between. In what feels undone and imperfect, good things are still growing, even when you can’t see it or feel it.

That said, I’m excited to give you a mid-year tour of Gracie’s Garden today, along with a fun garden makeover reveal. Huge thanks to my friend, Michael from Little Arrow Films, for taking my scraps of homemade video and turning them into this special tour. Michael, you are the bee’s knees!

Ready? Welcome to my garden…

Gracie’s Garden Tour with Lara Casey from lara casey on Vimeo.

One of my PowerSheets goals for 2017 is to cultivate a life-giving home. We have a unique home life here on a day-to-day basis, as my office (with five employees) lives here too. We love this building we call our home and our office, and we make the most of every little bit of space–including the garden.

Photos of the main garden area (you’ll notice I love sleeping bees 🙂 ):

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My rule of thumb is that if there’s dirt, something gets planted in it. We started out with just a few pots of herbs. As I wrote about in my new book, Cultivate, this grew over time to over forty feet of raised bed space and lots of pockets of flowers in various places.

As Grace has grown, she has taken to climbing trees, playing with sticks, and loving the outdoors as I did as a kid. We don’t have an official backyard, so I have been dreaming of a space where she can play and explore without fear of cars coming in and out of the driveway–a space to play and let her imagination to run wild.

There was this awkward space between our bedroom and our garage that basically turned into a weed patch. We tried planting things back here for a few years, but the voles and other critters ate most of it for dinner. We looked into extending our back deck in this space, but that was not a priority in our budget. So, I had to get creative. I’m so grateful and excited to share what it looks like now and how I did it. We often call Grace’s Fairy Garden the “Secret Garden” because I’ve had it under wraps for so long as we let things grow!

BEFORE (and some progress pics):

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The space: The lowest cost option to make this space more usable was to pull the (many) weeds, put down some thick landscaping fabric, and fill the area with local river rocks. We pulled out one of the ligustrum hedges because they are really just too big for this little space. We didn’t build this house, and we’ve been told that the landscaping was done in a way to fill the space quickly with fast-growing trees and shrubs. This is a metaphor for life, my friends! Fast doesn’t last, and in our case, fast growing trees don’t survive in small spaces where their roots don’t have enough space to flourish. So, we took one out to make some room. We left the others though for the sole reason that they are home to two families of birds! : ) We have a family of house sparrows in one tree and a pair of cardinals in another. We love sharing this space with them!

AFTER:

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Containers: The round containers are the Large Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters and the Small Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters from Gardeners.com. Josh thinks they are fun to ride in too!

The trough planters are the Terrazza Trough Planters. What I love most about them is that they are long-lasting safe plastic (I love cedar raised beds but we had some signs of termites back here so plastic was the best choice!) and they are self-watering (which means they have a huge water reservoir in the bottom that you fill). Because I needed longer-than-normal planters for this space, I used the Terrazza Trough Extension Kit to connect several planters together. Ari helped me put these together and it was pretty easy. And then there are the hanging baskets! I have never done hanging planters before because our summers are so hot and I feared the plants would die in a day. But, I was really excited to discover the Viva Matte Self-Watering Hanging Baskets because they are also self-watering. My hanging planters look great and stay watered longer!

The fountain: Oh the Copper Lotus Cascading Fountain! This really made the space come to life. The sound of water in the back (and outside our bedroom door) is pretty wonderful. We have two active bird nests in the back (house sparrows and cardinals), and I love that they get fresh water from the garden fountain too. It came with a darker green base, but I gave it a quick coat of white waterproof spray paint, and it matches perfectly now. I love this fountain, and so do Grace’s fairies!

Yellow bench: is the Amalfi bench from Grandin Road.

Fairy garden pieces: Grace’s Fairy Garden trough is from Greenes Fence Company. This cedar planter was so easy to put together and it’s the perfect height for her. The fairies and accessories have come from a variety of places: Amazon, Big Lots, Michaels, and several are gifts from friends. My favorites are the little windmill and barn!

Irrigation: Water, water, water! In these summer months, consistent watering is so important. I’m out in the garden almost every day, but it can be tricky to thoroughly water everything when you have two little ones under two! So, I invested in the Snip ‘N Drip Soaker System and Waterease Timer and Moisture Sensor. I have it installed on the main garden beds and I love it. I do some extra watering on hot days, or in spots that the soaker hose doesn’t reach as well, but it has been great.

Plants and seeds: I planted most of the garden from seed, with a few starts and plants mixed in! Here are a few of my favorite sources. Burpee: The Strawberry Popcorn, peppers, and several of the zinnias are from Burpee seeds. Floret Flower Seeds My favorite source for unique zinnia seeds, gleam salmon nasturtium, and bulbs. Botanical Interests: I picked up a variety of nasturtium seeds from them this year and love them! Park Seed: This South-Carolina-based company makes me so happy! I love their flowers. I chose the Profusion Double Flowered Zinnia Collection, Hidden Dragon Zinnia, Lemon Sorbet Collection, Lucky Lemon Glow Lantana, Confetti Pineapple Punch, and the Fruit Cocktail Mix from Park’s amazing collection this year. Many of these are sold out on their site for the season, but mark them on your list for next year. I also have the stainless steel potting scoop from Park and LOVE it. It’s huge in size and functional for a variety of tasks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mid-year garden tour! The crazy thing is that most things have more than doubled in size since we recorded this tour just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, there will be another garden tour episode coming soon!

Your turn! Do you have a garden? What do you love to grow? Does gardening scare the daylights out of you like it did me at first? I’d love to hear from you–and I’ll give signed copies of my new book to three of you who share your thoughts!

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Special thanks to Gardeners.com and Park Seed for gifting me several of the items above in thanks for the traffic they received from my Gardening 101 series. I have been a loyal customer of both companies for years and was delighted to know that many of you readers started gardens with these great resources! 

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