Tag Archive | beauty

If Its Gray, It Stays…


My grays hide when my hair is pulled back...

When I mention the amount of gray hairs my head is producing, my slightly, balding husband always responds, “If its gray, it stays.” I tried searching the internet to find out if this was actually true, however couldn’t find any research saying it’s true. I could, however find many debunked myths about how someone gets gray hair such as:

  • Pluck one, get 10 in return
  • Wash your hair daily to rid them
  • Trauma causes them
  • Low vitamin B12 levels
  • Sun damage
  • Smoking

I did find some research as to how gray hair does happen. Researchers at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom believe that when hydrogen peroxide builds up in our bodies, we go gray. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally in the human body and interferes with melanin, the pigment that colors our hair and skin. The body also produces the enzyme catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. As we age, catalase production diminishes, leaving nothing to transform the hydrogen peroxide into chemicals the body can release. Thus turning your colored locks into a sea of white.

Gray hair starting

There they are!! I am blessed with opalescent white hair.

Although you don’t need to be old to enjoy the look… Seems gray is the new blonde! Young stars such as Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Zayn Malik, and Kelly Osbourne are all sporting silver manes.

I’ve been a slave to the bottle since I was 16. Yes, there was hair dye in the early 1800’s 😉 I’ve been every color in the book and then some….. A few of my high school friends went into cosmetology school and I was their hair model. Luckily, I didn’t have to wear any hats after their assignments!!

I’m now 40 something and dying my hair every 5 weeks is getting old. Out of all the colors I’ve been, gray was not one of them, so I’ve decided to give it a shot. I’m not running off to buy a bottle of bleach… I don’t want to destroy my hair. Another reason that I want to stop dying it is that I’d like to grow it as long as possible. Everyone has a feature that is taken for granted, however everyone else would kill for. My hair is one of those features. I’ve been threatened to be scalped … even with my Eddie Munster hairline!


Rouge from XMen

Here’s my plan:

Dye my hair back to its ‘pre-gray’ color, which is a dark reddish brown (Level 4). (Black=10 / Blonde=1).

Let hair grow in at least 2 inches (about 3 months) to see just how gray I am…. I think I’m70%.

Go with gray highlights of some sort, or a balayage look of just doing the hair framing my face? How about going Rouge?

See my PINTREST page here for other gray styles I love!


What are your thoughts? Are you going to go gray naturally or die dying??


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monarch Butterfly on Liatris

Finally! A Monarch Sighting!!

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Last year, I thought I saw the most amount of monarchs ever. Throughout the whole season, I saw many. This year, not so many. In fact, this one was the first one I’ve seen this year. As you can see, he’s enjoying Liatris, which is a late season flower. He is probably on his way south to over-winter in Mexico.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Rock Stack Pondless Fountain

This fountain may look familiar to you if you were around when I first started my blog in 2013. It was one of my first few posts. What started this whole fascination with pondless fountains was my husband bringing home a large clay pot from a client’s house. I looked at it, thinking to myself, “Gee, this would look cool laying on it’s side, spilling out water.” And the rest is history.

After having him install that first fountain, we were addicted. When I started my garden design business, I was approached by a client wondering if I installed these type fountains. I said, “Heck yeah!” and showed her the clay fountain we had installed. She had found some copper pots and hoped my artist hubby could figure something out for her. He did and it is so unique. (check out the link above to see it).

Since then, he’s been putzing around with other designs. He likes the ‘rock-stacked’ look and this one was created. I love it! It was placed in the front of my house. When the windows are open, I can hear the splish-splash of the water. I like to sit in the window on weekends and see all the wildlife that visits it. Bees, wasps, birds of all sizes (saw my first flicker!!), squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks all take their turns enjoying the water.

I was so excited to reinstall it after having to temporarily remove it so I could redesign the front garden. After two long years, its back in operation at the Farrell house! Woo-Hoo!!



I’m not the only one to see it back in operation!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Green Bay in Lake Michigan

We had a wonderful time in Door County, Wisconsin. We were able to explore Lake Michigan via our kayaks in the tranquil Green Bay. We disembarked from Gills Rock and paddled south.

To quote myself, from my Door County post:

“The geology of this area is pretty unique. In a seriously, small nutshell: About 425 million years ago, there was a shallow sea in the Lake Michigan area. After the sea dried up and deposited all the Limestone, it was covered in a glacier. All the pressure & chemical reactions turned it in to dolomite. Many years of erosion made all the beautiful bluffs we see here today.”

Goodness! I just summed-up 425 million years in 5 sentences =-O I don’t believe I shared the utter beauty of the place with you. Here’s just a bit more info on the area.

NiagaraEscarpmentmap    image

The circular area in red is called the Niagara Escarpment, and stands taller than the surrounding areas. Green Bay and neighboring Door County run along the escarpment which extends in a wide arc from eastern Wisconsin through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, and through the Niagara Falls. I’ve not been to Niagara Falls, however now I know what to look forward to when I do visit.

While hiking, you get to enjoy the height of the cliffs looking out over the lake. However, while kayaking, you get to enjoy the cliffs looking up FROM the lake!

The trees have obviously been hanging onto the cliffs for years. It was so cool to look up into a tree’s roots.

The area was originally full of alder (Alnus), willow (Salix) and cedar (Juniperus) which has given way to forests dominated by spruce (Picea) and, then later, pine (Pinus). Mixed forests of eastern hemlock (Tsuga) and hardwoods such as beech (Fagus) and elm (Ulmus) became standard by about 7,500 years ago and have persisted. I saw many birch (Betula) and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus), like the ones in this photo.

There are many animals that rely on the cliffs for shelter and food. The gulls in the photos below soared just above the water looking for fish.

Although we did not see any, there are many bats that are indigenous to the area; little brown myotis, the northern myotis, the big brown bat, and the tri-colored bat. All four of these species are currently listed in Wisconsin as threatened. In addition, the forests above the escarpment provide summer homes for the migrating bat species, including the silver-haired, eastern red, and hoary.


Clean rocks among the dirty. It was only about 4′ (1.5M) deep here.

We were told by a bartender that there were Native American paintings on the cliffs near Gill’s Rock. We paddled south for about a mile, all the while staring at the walls. Finally! I don’t know what they used to paint the walls, however I’m really shocked me that it was still able to be seen. Doubly shocked that no one has desecrated it =-)

I did try to do some research into what tribe may have painted it, to no avail. The Potawatomi Indians are still around, however there were many other tribes in the area. I wasn’t even able to find these same paintings posted on-line. That’s strange. I can’t imagine I’m the first one to post these things. Either way, it was really cool to have seen them and experience them in a kayak, looking quite like them.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.* HeeHee!!

Washington Island

Rock slides are common.

There’s not really a beach where we were paddling. So much of the limestone has eroded and fallen into the lake. Although the lake works its magic quickly, the rocks were smooth and not too rough on the tootsi’s.

It is 25′ (8M) deep here. Scuba divers like to view the shipwrecks in this area. The small passage between the islands and Lake Michigan is called ‘Death’s Door’. Ironically, not because of all the shipwrecks (and there are many), but because of ancient Potawatomi legend. To learn more, click here!

Vessel Name: Fleetwing (1867)
National Register: Listed
Registry #:9883
Casualty: 10/26/1888, stranded
Vessel Type: Schooner
Built: 1867, Henry B. Burger, Manitowoc, WI
Owners: Andrew McGraw John Spry
Home Port: Chicago, IL
Cargo: Lumber (that is what you’re seeing in the above pix)


The photo of the tree was taken by me looking straight up the cliff.

I felt the water was a bit too chilly to swim in, although many folks were enjoying it.

The water was absolutely beautiful and clear.

I would highly recommend coming here for a paddle.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

*Gilligan’s Island

Klehm Arboretum – Rockford, Illinois

We came to the Arboretum last July when the mosquitoes were insane. April there were no bugs, however there were very few leaves or blossoms to see also.  The magnolias were doing their thang tho!

In 1910, the land was bought by landscape architect William Lincoln Taylor, who started the 155 acre farm. Many of the trees in the arboretum were grown and created by Mr. Taylor. The Klehm family bought the nursery in 1968 and maintained it until 1985, when they donated it to the county as long as it stayed an arboretum. It took a bit of time to sort things out, however the Arboretum opened in March 1998.


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Rhododendron area. Ah, I must come back soon!!

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Again, the magnolias were the stars!!

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Red horse chestnut


Peonies of every color.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-19-2016

Hop on the T.A.R.D.I.S. to see what I found blooming in 201320142015.

Happy Tuesday! We’ve finally got another batch of blooming flowers. I think these posts will be flowing quite more often now. I see so many things in bud. It’s been warm and rainy, just how spring is supposed to be.

I hear so many folks here in the Midwest whining that spring is so late and the weather has sucked. Does everyone have amnesia? It’s been a beautiful spring and early according to my records. Well, ok.. 2012 was really early.

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Daffodils with hyacinth  |  Lamium purpureum – Purple dead nettle


Caltha palustris ~ Marsh Marigold


Hellebore orientalis ~ Lenten rose

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More daffy’s. They look like sunny-side-up eggs  |  Azalea ~ Not sure of flavor

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Magnolia × soulangeana ~ saucer magnolia

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Magnolia stellata ~ Star magnolia   |   Magnolia × loebneri ‘Merrill’ ~ Merrill Magnolia


Prunus serrulata ~ Beautiful cherry

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Prunus serrulata ~ Cherry   |   Taraxacum officinale ~ Dandelion

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Goldenrod Crab Spider – Misumena vatia

I’m a pretty observant gal. Perhaps it’s my anxiety?

Naaa! I’ve honed my skills over the years.  Your brain needs to process so many things, at such a high speed… Some people’s processors aren’t up to the challenge and the brain blocks ‘unneeded’ information that’s not necessary for the conscious mind to be aware of. However, who decides what you consciously want to see? Your brain or your conscious mind? I say the latter. I tend to notice the smallest of things and I have more control on what information gets brought to light, consciously. I scan my perimeter constantly. I’m actually not consciously thinking about doing it, but if I’ve seen it, its been filed in my memory. When someone asks where something is, I know exactly where it is, it’s been cataloged. Another way my brain works for the girl is in noticing things that are really hard to see, even close-up. I hadn’t realized I had lost my diamond stud earring until I was running through a dirty garage and my head was forced down suddenly and I noticed my stud. There was a lot of crap on the floor, it even surprised me I saw it. My brain is trained to notice more subtle ’emergencies’ like this and sometimes, force a body part to aid in bringing something to my attention.  I do believe that you need to train yourself to observe like I do. It’s not called a ‘trained eye‘ fer nothing. 😉

That is how I see things like this fair lady, hunting among the milkweeds!

crab spider 2   crab spider

They don’t call these guys crab spiders for nothing. Their two front legs have what’s called “laterigrade leg orientation”, which means they can walk sideways and scuttle like a crab. Their legs are also fashioned with claws that make grabbing their prey easier.

Crab spiders are hunters and do not use a web to capture food (they do make safety lines (bungeeeeeee!!) and egg sacs out of silk, tho.) They enjoy a good hunt by sitting motionless atop flowers waiting for a meal to drop into their open arms.

Did you know they could change color also?!? Some like to be white, some yellow and all ranges in-between. It depends on what flower they decided to set-up shop on. The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, the reverse about six days.

Although goldenrod flowers are common places to find them, milkweed is a close second. Milkweed that is no longer flowering is one of their favorite spots to lay their annual egg. She will bend a tip of a leaf and web it together, then lay her eggs inside the roll. She stands guard over the eggs until her death, which is normally only a few days after laying them. The eggs hatch about 21 days after they were laid and the spiderlings overwinter in the brush, maturing the following spring or summer.

Here’s an AWESOME spider guide for the Midwest from the Field Museum! It’s easily downloaded or printed for field use.

C with a circle – Ilex Farrell

Summer Blooming Flowers 9-3-2015

Happy Thursday!!

I was looking over 2014 ‘Blooming Flowers’ from the month of August and I sure took way more photos in 2014 than 2015! I wonder if I’ve done less hiking, less visits to my perennial nursery or what?! Had the season gone by faster? I feel like the goldenrods, liatris and asters shouldn’t be blooming for another few weeks. I shouldn’t be seeing seedpods yet. Ugh. This means this blooming season is coming to a close soon, not that soon, but soon 😉

See what was blooming in 2014 or blooming in 2013.

Baptisia australis ~ False indigo seed heads



Physostegia virginiana ~ Obedient Plant

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae – New England Aster


Silene regia ~ Royal Catchfly


Symphyotrichum leave ~ Smooth Blue Aster


Nuphar polysepala ~ Yellow water lily


Cirsium discolor ~ Pasture Thistle


Alnus incana ~ grey alder or speckled alder

Solidago canadensis ~ Canada Goldenrod


I just thought this was a great mix of wildflowers…

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-25-2015

Hope everyone is well this fine Tuesday =-)
Blooming flowers are getting harder to find and I usually know where they hide! This season slipped by me. completely slipped. This is difficult for me to accept, as I still have so many things to do before the ground freezes.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, however I have become an Ordained Minister. I will be officiating at my best friend’s wedding on October 4th. Now don’t misunderstand the title. You do not have to believe in a god to become a minister. I believe there is a life force/karma type dealio, however that is about as far as I go.

These photos are all from my new camera. Much, much better focus from this camera. I don’t need to take 50 photos, only about 10 now 😉 The distance isn’t much better, maybe gives me a discernible extra 10′ feet that I can make something out.

Here’s what was Blooming in 2014 and Blooming in 2013.


Apple – Malus domestica

These are in my yard. Not so bad! I’ve not eaten one yet, but they look nice and plumb. Surely a pie will be made. MMmm, Pie!!


Arisaema triphyllum – jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin or wild turnip.

Here’s this guy blooming.


Japanese Forest Grass ~ Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’


Little Bunny Fountain Grass ~ Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny”

This grass only gets a foot wide, so YES! You DO have room for a grass in that tiny garden =-)


Huge-ass Astilbe! ‘Maggie Daley’ at 28″ inches high.


Speedwell ~ Veronica ‘First Love’

Mint ‘Mojito’ ~ Mentha x villosa

Hosta ~ Not sure of species, however these are at my house and these smell like gardenias. I cut these for my bedroom. Ah, serenity =-)


A Mayapple, apple! These normally get taken by the little furries that scurry under the leaves. Want to see it blooming?


Butter & Eggs ~ Linaria vulgarus


A cute dragonfly.


Two different Hydrangea paniculata’s ~ Tardiva on the left and Limelight on the right.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl