Joy in the morning

Your memory's the sunshine every new day brings

I still find it difficult to put into words how the loss of my father has impacted me, but at the same time, I can’t write about this summer without speaking to that loss. I miss my dad, and yet a part of me still doesn’t really believe that he is gone. Shock and the suddenness of his death contribute to that disbelief. I feel guilty when I enjoy things these days, or when I feel happy. It’s part of why I haven’t posted much since he died at the end of June. It made me feel guilty when I thought about coming on here to post about all of the fun things we did this summer. I know that my dad would want me to keep doing these things and keep making memories for Coen instead of stagnating in my grief, but I still can’t help but feel guilty for moving on with my life.

Mom & Dad before dad’s high school reunion

Don’t get me wrong; there are days when all I can do is cry, even when I want to and need to hold myself together. Other days I feel guilty for not grieving enough or for feeling happy about good things that are happening.

In the days that followed my father’s death I started listening to the original Nickel Creek album on repeat. There is really no reason why other than the fact that the songs are soothing to my soul and bring me comfort. Coen got into it too, and now anytime I switch to something else he invariably asks for “the fox song” and we’ll go right back to listening to those sweet and soothing bluegrass melodies.

The song When You Come Back Down is not about death, but it always makes me think of my dad. The song is about letting someone spread their wings and follow their dreams even though you want to hold onto them and keep them with you. I know that does not describe every parent/child relationship, but it is indeed the way both of my parents were with me and my siblings.

The line, “Your memory’s the sunshine every new day brings” is a kicker for a whole other reason though.

Not long after my dad died, I read an article about a woman who documented her parents going through terminal cancer at the same time. Her dad told her to look for him in the rainbows. I would never wish terminal cancer or disease on my dad (my family has faced its fair share), but I do wish that I had been able to talk to him and say goodbye.

I may not have had the chance to hear him tell me where to look for him after he was gone, but I do have a trove of memories of my dad. One thing about him that never changed was that he was an early riser and a morning person.

Because of that I’ve decided that I will look for him in the dawning of every new day.

Unlike my dad, I am not a morning person. However, I choose now to make mornings about joy and spending time with my dad’s memory. Instead of grumbling when my early riser comes into my room demanding breakfast, I am determined to smile, get up and enjoy that time with him.

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” -Psalm 30:5

Or, as Cool Hand Luke puts it in their song, The Fires of Life:
“Weeping may last through the night–the longest night of your life–I can promise you that rejoicing comes in the morning.”

I’m holding onto that promise.

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Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

 

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13Last week I had the opportunity to visit the new Chihuly exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art. While I try to view as many of the temporary exhibitions as possible, this was my first time attending a media preview for an exhibit.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, before this exhibition I had only had heard of Chihuly and his art on Frasier (yes, the television series). However, even I knew that this was a very special kind of artwork on display. It is unlike anything else that has been brought to the museum before. Looking back through my photos I can’t help but get chills again.

Chihuly in the Gallery

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

If you’ve ever wished you could go to New York and view the innovative window displays at Christmastime, you can get a spectacular taste right here in Arkansas. The multimedia display entitled “Winter Brilliance” was originally created for a Barneys New York holiday window. “It combines clear glass chandelier forms with a Christie’s 360 digitally-mapped lighting display and the musical composition by Hannis Brown, to produce an evocative, ice-like brilliance,” according to the press release for the exhibition. I simply cannot describe just how incredible this installation is–you must see and experience it for yourself!

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

The gallery exhibition also includes many works that have never been displayed in a museum setting before. One piece of note is a weaving with fused glass that Dale Chihuly created in 1965 as an interior design student at the University of Washington in Seattle.

 Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

The brand new Glass on Glass series is also on display in a museum setting for the first time. These vibrant pieces are two- and three-dimensional works of sculpture and painting.

 Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2
The artist Dale Chihuly with the Azure Icicle Chandelier

“Crystal Bridges is the only venue for this particular exhibition and many of the works are presented in a new way or for the first time. The works are inspired by th surrounding nature and unique architectural elements at the museum,” said Britt Cornett, Head of Exhibitions, Chihuly Studio.

Chihuly in the Forest

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

The “firsts” don’t stop there either. “This is the first indoor-outdoor exhibition for Crystal Bridges and the first time Chihuly’s works are on view in a natural forest setting,” said Lauren Haynes, Crystal Bridges’ Curator, Contemporary Art.

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

I particularly enjoyed the outdoor installations along the reopened North Forest Trail. It makes sense for this nature-inspired art to be on display in a natural, outdoor setting. The natural light and forest surroundings give life to these works in a way that no other setting could.

“I’m always inspired to exhibit my work in various types of environments, from museums and gardens around the world, to unique indoor settings. I’m always looking to push the boundaries of the medium of glass in terms of color, form, scale, and light, all of which are essential elements of my work.” -Dale Chihuly

 

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

The temporary Chihuly: In the Gallery and in the Forest exhibition is on view June 3 through August 14. Admission is $20 for adults and includes the indoor and outdoor venue. Once the gallery portion closes, the cost drops to $10 for Chihuly in the Forest, which is on view August 16-November 13. No cost for museum members and youth ages 18 and under. 

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Easy No Poo Method How To

No, I’m not talking about your bathroom habits. I promise. Believe me, keeping up with my 3-year-old’s bathroom habits is more than enough “poo” for me. No, the no poo method I’m talking about is the practice of washing your hair without using shampoo. There are as many methods of no poo as there are people who choose to forgo shampoo. I’m just going to talk about what I know, the methods that I have tried, and how they did or didn’t work for me.

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Co-Washing

I first tried this practice years ago when I started trying to learn how to work with my naturally curly hair instead of against it. I spent decades blow-drying, flat-ironing, and willing my hair straight. It always rebelled against me–frizz at any hint of moisture, poof that just wouldn’t be tamed, and curls with a mind of their own. I’m sure there are some other curly girls nodding their heads right now.

I wasn’t ready to go totally no poo so I tried co-washing, using conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo. I have very dry, coarse hair so I thought that this would work beautifully for me. The problem is that I also have an oily scalp. Yes, I’m so very blessed as to have combination skin and combination hair (it’s a thing, I may have just made it up, but it’s a thing). One of the points of the no poo method is that eventually you are able to go without washing your hair for longer periods. If you have hair like mine, washing it every day is the best way to kill it. So, when I was using conditioner to wash my hair, it was getting oilier quicker and I was actually having to wash it more often. I tried using shampoo every few washes to balance things back out, but eventually I just went back to using shampoo.

The baking soda/apple cider vinegar method

I started thinking about the no poo method again several months ago when I couldn’t seem to find a shampoo that worked with my hair anymore. Instead of spending a lot of money trying a bunch of different options, I decided to use what was already in my house and give true no poo a try.

There are websites and books dedicated to this topic if you want an in-depth explanation, but the no poo method is basically this–you wash your hair with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can make up batches of it for multiple uses, but I just made up what I was going to use before my shower and used it all in one washing. I have an old 16 oz Nalgene bottle that I use to mix up both the “shampoo” and the “conditioner.” You can use a cup, a jar, or even a cleaned out shampoo bottle.

What I do:

I take a tablespoon of baking soda and put it into the Nalgene bottle, and then add about a cup of water and shake it up really well. Then I pour it over my head little by little and massage it into my scalp just like with shampoo. Well, not “just like” shampoo because–no poo, no suds. Rinse it out.

After that I add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the bottle and dilute it with a cup of water. I pour it over my head and massage into my scalp. I add some essential oils at this point because who wants to smell like vinegar? I like rosemary, peppermint, and lavender essential oils for my hair.

Like I said, there are so many different methods. Even if you do the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method you may do it differently than me. I have not tried egg wash, bentonite clay, kefir, rye flour, or the ultimate no poo method–just water.

Deep Conditioning Mask

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Because I have dry hair, this is something that I had to do from time to time even before I went no poo, but if you are doing any of the no poo methods, deep conditioning is a must.

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

I do a coconut oil mask once a month. I take about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, add in about 5-6 drops of essential oils (again, I stick to rosemary, lavender and peppermint) and apply it to my dry hair. I give it about 30-45 minutes to do it’s magic, and then I wash it out.

This is the part when I go a bit off the no poo rails. I haven’t been able to successfully wash the mask out without using shampoo. Even with shampoo it goes a little like lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I use a great sulfate-free shampoo that I really like so I don’t get too upset about it.

I hope this helps you to see that the no poo method can be simple and implemented with very few ingredients that you most likely already have. There’s more to taming my curly hair than just the no poo method, but I’ll have to share those another time!

 

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Gray Matter

Woods family church photo

During my junior year of high school I took a liking to the color gray. That’s not really a strong enough statement. It was a borderline obsession. Not just any shade of gray–a dark, charcoal gray. It was a time when my youngest brother, Russell, was battling an aggressive brain tumor. Maybe it was a manifestation of mourning.

Woods family church photo
The Woods crew (Russell is the sweet blond)

Biking at DeGray Lake State Park
If it was, I didn’t realize it at the time. Each time I went shopping I would come home with at least one item in a dark charcoal. Each time I reached into the closet I would invariably pick out an outfit with this color as the central theme. So pervasive was this color in my everyday wardrobe that a friend’s mother began calling that particular shade of gray, “Julianne Gray.” Soon, many of my friends were calling it the same. Even now, each time I’ve picked up a paint brush to paint the living room of the three houses we’ve owned, I have chosen a shade of gray (a much, much lighter shade).
Photo op at a rest stop in ArkansasFamily photo on the Carolina coast
It feels appropriate that I remember my little brother with the color gray. My parents gave Russell a family name: first name Russell, after my mom’s grandpa, Russell “Rusty” McGlothlin; and middle name, Gray, after my dad’s grandpa, Virgil Gray Davenport.

Russell with a posse of cousins
Russell with a posse of cousins
Russell after his treatments for brain tumor started
Russell and I after his treatments began in 1998.


That brain tumor eventually did end his short life on this Earth, and the world has been grayer ever since. So in part, the name of my blog is a dedication to his sweet soul. More so than I ever realized before penning this post.  Save

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Five Reusable Food Storage Alternatives

Last year for Earth Day, I wrote about how small changes can make a big impact on the environment. As I mentioned last month, I want to start sharing some of the ways you can make small changes in your home. Today, I am highlighting my favorite reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

These items will help you curb your use of plastic zip top bags, plastic wrap, and other disposable food storage items we all use in the kitchen.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

Out with the zip top bags

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

The following contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase from the link I get a little cash to spend at the Farmer’s Market.

1. The first reusable storage item I ever purchased (besides glassware) was the Wrap-n-Mat. My go-to lunch for work was always a sandwich and the Wrap-n-Mat wraps right around your sandwich. It also doubles as a nice placemat which comes in handy, especially on picnics with kids. Even though I don’t pack a lunch for work anymore, this sandwich bag alternative still comes in handy. The plastic on the interior allows you to easily wipe it clean, and is BPA-free.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

2. When I saw the spbang reusable snack bag featured on TheBabyGuyNYC Facebook page, I was already sold. Then I read that you can put it right in the dishwasher to clean it! I love the the ease of this bag. It’s great for snacks, but I’ve also been known to throw crayons or dry erase markers in it. It is easy enough for Coen to open himself and pretty durable. Plus, there’s space on the back for school lunch notes or just writing your name. Check them out here.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

3. These reusable Lunchskins bags came in one of my Might Fix deliveries. If you don’t know about The Mighty Fix, it’s a subscription service through The Mighty Nest that delivers one green living product to your home every month. This delivery came with one sandwich bag and one smaller snack bag. Both have velcro closures and a spot to write your name. This is another item that is safe to wash in the dishwasher! Yay! (Just make sure to turn them inside out to air dry after washing).

 

4. AtMat SplatMat is where it’s at! Seriously! I discovered these super cute reusable bags on Instagram and soon after was the recipient of one of their giveaways! These are great for snacks or sandwiches and can be washed in the washer or dishwasher. They are also safe to throw in the dryer. I usually throw them in with towels and then turn them inside out to air dry. Coen loves the Batman theme bags!

So long, plastic wrap

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

5. Bee-ing able to leave the plastic baggies and plastic wrap behind has been a long time coming in our household. I can finally say we’ve kicked both habits though! Woo! The natural, sustainable and yes, green, alternative to plastic wrap is Bee’s Wrap. I love this stuff. It’s made with organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The antibacterial properties of the beeswax and jojoba oil help to keep food fresh and allow you to use the Bee’s Wrap again and again. Using it is super simple. Just use the warmth of your hands to help seal the Bee’s Wrap around bread, cheese, halved avocados, and bowls (no meat though, ew!). Then, wash it with cool soapy water and let it air dry. It folds up nice and small to store away until you need it again!

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

The Bee’s Wrap was another Mighty Fix item for me, but I also found it on Amazon, and locally at The Freckled Hen Farmhouse in Fayetteville. Also, be sure to head over to nwafoodie for another great post about beeswrap. Lyndi is a fellow Arkansas Women Blogger, and she’s talking about all things lovely for your kitchen!

Think you’ll give any of these reusable food storage options a try? If so, come back and let me know! I’d love to hear what you think. Most of all, just keep taking those small steps!

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Luxura Brush Renew

I received a complimentary cleaning with Luxura Brush Renew. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Confession: I can’t remember the last time I actually washed my makeup brushes. I know I’m supposed to, but honestly even when I do, the junk doesn’t all come out. Last week I had the opportunity to send my brushes in for a professional makeup brush cleaning service.

I had no idea what to expect. Who even knew there was such a thing as a professional makeup brush cleaning service? I didn’t before last week! I thought everyone soaped up their brushes with facial cleanser. Rinse and repeat (and repeat and repeat). All I knew is that my brushes needed this!

I'm a little embarrassed at how dirt my makeup brushes were before sending them to be cleaned with Luxura Brush Renew.

Luxura Brush Renew uses a seven step deep cleansing process that gets all of the gunk and makeup out without damaging delicate makeup brushes. The touchless process uses ultrasonic technology to gently and thoroughly remove debris, oil and residue.

{Side note: my first job ever was at a vacuum cleaner store called Vacs/Etc. At one point the “etc” included an ultrasonic cleaning machine. The service we offered was blind cleaning, but I remember testing that thing out by dropping all kinds of stuff into it. It was pretty fascinating to see how well it worked, but I never thought to try it on my makeup brushes!}

Luxura only uses plant-based cleanser Savon de Marseille to cleanse and disinfect the makeup brushes sent in for the cleaning service. Sounds a lot fancier than my facial cleanser, I must admit.

You can sign up for a monthly subscription service so you are sure to keep your brushes clean, or just send them in for a one-time cleaning. One to two day shipping is offered so you don’t have to be without your brushes for very long!

I am so impressed with the service from Luxura Brush Renew. My makeup brushes are good as new!

I am so impressed with the service from Luxura Brush Renew. My makeup brushes are good as new!

Ready to try them out for yourself? Right now, readers of the blog can get 10% off of their first cleaning with Luxura by using the coupon code: Gray10

I’d love to hear what you think if you try them out!

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Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run

Each year that we visit Mather Lodge for the Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run, I am in awe of the gorgeous views!In just a little less the two weeks I’ll be waking up at Mather Lodge, eager with anticipation for the sixth annual Hoof it for Heifer trail run. Every April since 2012, we head to Petit Jean State Park to put on this 20K trail run that benefits Heifer International’s domestic program, Heifer USA.

I love that the money we raise through the Hoof it for Heifer trail run goes to help farm and food entrepreneurs right here in Arkansas. Living in Northwest Arkansas, it is sometimes easy to get into a mindset that there is not great need and poverty in our state. However, one in four Arkansans struggle with hunger.

Heifer USA

We presented a check to Heifer USA for more than $10,000, the proceeds from the 2016 Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run!

Just as with the international Heifer Projects, Heifer USA’s goal is to teach or train the farmers and ranchers, and then give them support as they get their feet on the ground.

“In Arkansas, we use a farmer-owned business model as our development approach while providing resources and technical support coordinated with local partners to invest in entrepreneurs, businesses, co-operatives, coalitions and all components of a fresh food value-chain, transforming the way people and communities produce, sell and eat their food to create new, vibrant food systems.” -Heifer USA

Not only does the program support the farmers, it also supports the community by providing healthy and nutritious food for families and schools, creating and meeting a demand for locally grown food, encouraging self-reliance and conserving our state’s rich natural resources.

Local farmers drawing on local resources and leadership to meet local need.

Heifer Ranch
You can meet Abu the camel at Heifer Ranch. Heifer Ranch is just a little more than 20 miles from Petit Jean State Park where the Hoof it for Heifer trail run is held.
Abu the camel at Heifer Ranch

And we kept the Hoof it for Heifer trail run local as well. Petit Jean State Park is just a little more than 20 miles from Heifer Ranch, the headquarters of Heifer USA. In fact, we encourage runners to go visit Heifer Ranch on race weekend if time allows.

Petit Jean State Park

The course for the Hoof it for Heifer trail run couldn’t have a more beautiful backdrop than the scenery found along the Boy Scouts of America Trail at Petit Jean! Heifer’s mission is ending hunger while caring for the Earth, and I could not think of a more perfect place to drive that message home than at one of Arkansas’ very own state parks!

Thanks to Arkansas Outside for providing photos of the Hoof it for Heifer trail run, year after year!
Thanks to Arkansas Outside for providing photos of the run, year after year!

We love putting on this race, and we love that our runners get so excited to come back each year! For a recap from a runner’s perspective, I encourage you to check out this post by Lisa Mullis of Arkansas Outside! Each year they show up not only to run, but to also take photos and share them with the runners. We are so grateful for them!

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Worth the Wait {On growing & gardening}

Cupcakes and watermelon cake are hard to wait for when you're only 2!

Sometimes it’s hard to wait. I find myself saying this multiple times a day to my three and a half year old. I can say it without judgment or annoyance, because it’s a truth that we all face sometimes. It’s difficult to wait.

The truth is, I get impatient too. There are times when I simply don’t want to wait.

Over the last month or two, I have been developing a new objective for julianne gray. I wanted to jump right on and blog about it at the height of my excitement, but I made myself wait. During that time, I have not blogged at all. That may not have been the best decision, but I think I needed that space.

Space.

Each row of a garden needs its own space.

My garden is just getting underway; we put in the first seeds only yesterday. However, there was a lot that we had to do before we ever put a seed in the ground.

We cultivated our own compost to add to the soil (talk about worth the wait!) We planned out the garden. We purchased our seeds. We removed the winter cover. We pulled weeds. We reconfigured the layout of some of the leeks and onions that were already growing. We fertilized and tilled the soil. We made rows. We sowed the seeds.

If you are a gardener, I don’t have to tell you that these things are not just fluff (although methods vary and some do without some things I mentioned), they are necessary for plants to grow and thrive.

In this same way, I have been making plans, cultivating my ideas, and helping those ideas germinate into something bigger.

The thing is, I finally realized what I wanted to focus on here in this space, and that’s documenting the ways my family and I are trying to live with less, conserve more, and keep things simple. If that helps my readers to take small steps to grow our world into a greener place—a more sustainable, environmentally friendly place—so much the better. Confession: I don’t have all of the answers. I am not claiming that I get it all right all of the time.

What I do have is a passion for recycling, composting, growing your own food, living simply and with less, making instead of consuming, sustainability, supporting local, preserving the beauty of our world and caring for the Earth.

More details on all of this coming soon (including my garden!), I hope you don’t mind the wait.

In the meantime, I would love it if you would connect with me on Instagram and Facebook. I plan to be sharing some of those small ways we can make an impact on our world on those channels and I’d love to get your feedback!

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Coffee in the Garden {The Grounds at Garden Living}

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

If you’re on the hunt for your new “third place” or just want to grab a great cup of coffee in a gorgeous garden setting, check out The Grounds at Garden Living in Fayetteville. I recently wrote about the new coffee shop in uptown Fayetteville for Only in Arkansas:

Tucked away in uptown Fayetteville is a lush little courtyard; an urban oasis complete with greenery, blossoms, brightly colored bistro tables and now, coffee. This secret garden of sorts is ensconced behind an iron gate, and hedged in between a flower shop on one side and, on the other, a garden shop that is now home to Fayetteville’s newest destination for coffee.

You would totally make my day if you read the complete article here.

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

Coffee and cake in the courtyard soon? I heard that they’ve added waffles to the menu too, but that doesn’t exactly fit the alliteration. Who’s up for a coffee date?

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Landscaping Update {Friday Refresh}

We made it to Friday! I haven’t done a Friday Refresh in awhile. That’s not because there haven’t been any changes around here though. In the two years that we’ve lived in our house we have focused mainly on the interior renovations that needed to be done (and then redone in some cases). This past April we had some flooding that resulted in all of the flooring being redone (most of which was already brand new), a total gut job to the main bathroom, and asbestos removal. Things already look very different than they did even in this first-ever Friday Refresh.

Because the inside of the house has been priority number one, the landscaping has been all but neglected during this time. I finally decided that this was one thing we could have someone else come do for us. I am so glad that we did!

Flower bed with fall color

My main objective was cleaning things up so the pops of color were just a bonus. The trees that were planted in this bed before were just not suitable in their height or placement, plus they were badly in need of trimming. Here is a before photo:

Overgrown flower bed before clean up

Here are a few more before and after photos of some of the other beds around the yard. They look so much better cleaned up, but of course I’m already thinking about what to add for more color and pop.

Before & after of front yard landscaping clean up

Before & after flower bed clean up

This is not a sponsored post, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Mike Burney’s GreenCo for their great work and exceptional service. Not only did they quote me five times less what other companies quoted, they are capable, experienced and conduct themselves in a very professional manner. Check them out on Facebook if you’re in Northwest Arkansas and need landscaping help.

 

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