Dispatch from the Road: We’re Almost Home

This American House

After a week of travel, things are about to finally get back to normal at This American House. Over the past week we’ve flown to New York, seen a musical production of Heathers, researched our house at the Avery Library at Columbia University, attended a gallery show and then a memorial for an artist friend who passed away late last year, and, finally, packed up a U-haul truck with art and other precious cargo. We’re now making the long drive from Connecticut back to Iowa. Once we’re safely ensconced back in our usual surroundings, I’ll put together a more detailed post about our adventures. Until then, enjoy this clip from one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Image: This American House

Flower Power: Big Bundles of Hosta Flowers

A bucket full of hosta flowers | This American House

“I don’t know,” I said to my friend Joan. “If you ask me, I think hostas are just weeds that we tolerate.”

I uttered those words earlier this spring. I had just dug up and moved what seemed like the one hundredth hosta that’s planted around the house. At that time, the hostas were these small, uninteresting plants that felt more like a burden than a joy.

“Oh, just you wait,” Joan replied. “You’re going to love them.”

Well, folks, Joan was right. I have indeed learned to appreciate the hosta plant. I mean, would you just look at that bucket full of flowers?! Those are all cut from the hostas that populate the landscaping around our house.

An arrangement of hosta flowers on This American House

Now, I just love having fresh flowers around the house. Back in the city I’m used to buying flower bundles at the grocery store and trying to stretch them out in lots of little vases to the fill the house. Here at the Dream House, I just need to march out into the yard with scissors in hand to create my own flower bundles!

Of course, if I had known that the hostas were going to provide these gorgeous purple flowers I wouldn’t have called them a weed.

Hosta flowers | This American House

I experimented with cutting the flowers from the hosta plants a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to make sure they would last more than a day or two before I cut a bunch of them. I’m happy to report that the flowers last well over a week after they’ve been cut and put in water. It also looks like cutting the flowers from the plants does not harm the plant in any way. (You can also cut the hosta leaves for arrangements but I’ll save that for another post.)

Now that I not only tolerate hostas but actually kind of like them, I went in search of more information about these hardy plants. Here are a few facts via Wikipedia:

  • They are commonly known as hostas, plantain lilies (particularly in Britain) and occasionally by the Japanese name giboshi.
  • The plants are native to northeast Asia.
  •  The name Hosta is in honor of the Austrian botanist Nicholas Thomas Host.
  • There are over 3,000 registered and named varieties, and perhaps as many more that are not yet registered with the American Hosta Society.
  • Hostas are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses due to the saponins contained in the plant.

So my friend Joan was right. I have come to appreciate hostas. What do you think? Are you a fan of the plant?

Images: This American House

Schlepping Sloshing Water Buckets is for Chumps!
How to Connect Your Dehumidifier to a Drain

Schlepping Sloshing Water Buckets is for Chumps! Connect Your Dehumidifier to a Drain | This American House

In some ways, the flooding basement was a blessing in disguise. Not only did it force us to clean up what was quickly becoming a cluttered mess, we were also inspired to buy a dehumidifier to help dry out the basement. I had no idea our basement was so damp until I found myself emptying the water bucket multiple times per day. Hooray for a dry basement! But boo for schlepping a sloshing water bucket to the basement bathroom multiple times per day. Schlepping is for chumps!

Continue reading

Small Business Spotlight: Turkey River Mall in Elkader, Iowa

Turkey River Mall in Elkader, Iowa | This American House

We found Turkey River Mall pretty quickly after we moved into our house. I don’t remember how we found it – whether it was recommended by a local or whether we just stumped upon it – but it’s where we picked up our $10 bedside table, our $29 dining room table, and many, many more things to furnish the house. Each time we’ve gone into the mall, I’ve marveled at the ingenious use of this former hotel. After months of shopping at Turkey River Mall, I finally sat down with the owner, Becky Dietzler, to get a little history on the building and the business.

Continue reading