Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coming Home for Christmas

I just got the best X-mas gift anyone could ever get.....a new house back home. My husband and I finally gave up selling our last house and decided to just keep that one off the market for awhile until things improve. Then we started over with a new mortgage ( geezzzzz, now that's a process anymore) and went and bought a house while prices are down.

It is so good to be back where we're from.....back to where the kids and grand kids are. Our kids have been dropping in and it's great to see old friends as well. There is a moral to our story and that is think twice or more if you decide to retire and move away. It just didn't work for us, I missed everything about our old life and really grew to dislike the town we had moved to.

So, back to the blog.....ok, I didn't get 10 days of wreaths, in fact due to moving this is the first year that I don't have a wreath on my front door in, well forever I think. No tree or lights nor any other decorations, they are still at the other house. But that's ok, I've got big plans for next year.

Merry Christmas to all......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And For Those Who Like To Be Unique.....

There are times when I want to go outside the "everyday", when I want to make something that no one else has.
This tree wreath is really different, but still imparts the feeling of the holiday. Since this tree is made from fresh bay leaves, it would also go perfectly inside the house, where you could smell it's fresh scent, like in the kitchen.
For really different wreath forms, you can look online, just google them. Or make your own as I usually do, use wire hangers which can be shaped into any form you like. Wrap the wire with wicker garland, small branches, like willow or even fresh juniper.
These wreaths make great gifts, many women just don't have the time for creating projects like this make up a couple and give one to a friend, she'll love it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And to Hang That Beautiful Wreath.....

Wreath hangers have come a long way from the simple hook that can only be described as functional. Take this beautiful hanger, it's metal with lots of flourishes that add alot to the look of the wreath.

These new hangers come in a variety of styles that allow you to match the decor of your door or your home in general. These hangers I found on e-bay, and range in price from $18.00 to $21.00.

If your like me, you might look around your house for something you may already have that could be turned into a "wow" hanger. These hangers remind me of all those metal wall items that you would hang above a door or to add to a collection or grouping. I have seen them at the craft stores for several years now and they can be very inexpensive. Simply add a S hook to the bottom of a metal sconce and you have a very attractive new hanger.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Wreath You Can Eat!

A Candy Wreath
This is one that you and the kids can create together and have alot of fun doing it. Start with a plain metal wreath form as it makes it easy to actually tie the candy on the form.
Buy hard candy that is wrapped in plastic, you can find candy now that has X-Mas prints on it. Tie a 5" piece of the thin ribbon to an end twist and then tie to the wreath frame. If you just tie a knot and leave long tails, you can use the edge of the scissors to curl the ribbon. Fill the form really full and attach a pair of scissors to cut a piece of candy off.
You could really personalize this wreath with toys, old X-mas cards cut into strips and strung together for a garland and then wrapped around the wreath or use gingerbread cookies with your kids names on them.
This is a fun wreath to make and take to your place of business so all your customers can leave with a piece of candy. Or how about making one to take to all those great people who work at your kids school, they all deserve a sweet treat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And Another Wreath

This wreath starts the same as all my other's, with a grapevine form and lots of greens. I used juniper here, which is somewhat flat and can be poked into the form in all the same direction for a swirled look. If you have any other shrubs in your yard that you like, cut small pieces, about 4 or 5" in length and add to the juniper.

Next comes a berry garland which can be found at your fav craft store. These garland's come in all colors, I also have a pink one that looks so nice with the greens. Simply begin to twine the garland around the wreath form and secure with a small piece of paddle wire.

There is almost no end to what you can do with this wreath, add pine cones, a ribbon or I have added whole oranges, which contrast so well with the red berries. Or just leave it as is for a pretty and classic look.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Pomegranate Wreath

Quite possibly my favorite wreath, the combination of greens and fresh pomegranates makes for a stunning arrangement for the front door. Whether your X-mas decor is classic or country or even Victorian, this wreath works with everything.
I always make my wreaths on grapevine forms, it's easy to insert the greens in the groves of the form and you can easily wire cones or your decorations on them. If you decide to use pomegranates on your wreath, use a strong thick wire to attach them. Since this fruit is very juicy you will want to cover the hole where your wire goes thru the flesh or it will drip all over. I simply take my glue gun and put a small dollop of glue around the wire to seal the hole.
Any fruit looks great on a wreath of greens, try apples, pears or oranges studded with cloves. Please note that if you live in a climate that freezes, you will want to bring your wreath in at night or your fruit will not last thru the season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Toy Wreath

If you have children in your house, they will love having this playful wreath on the front door. It all starts with a simple grapevine wreath form, add to that toys that have a X-Mas theme. Here we have small stuffed figures, all ones that you see during the holidays. These toys all can be found at stores like Michael's or I have great luck at Joanne's for finding small X-Mas items to attach to a wreath.
This wreath has artificial greens and berries although you could use fresh if they are available to you. Hint: save those branches you cut off the bottom of your tree, you can use them for decor just like this wreath.
If the toys you find have long legs, let them dangle over the front of the will look like they are just sitting there! Attach a small piece of trim board (like a paint stirrer) behind the toys so they will sit straight. Cover this strip with the greens to make it invisible.
Be sure to save this wreath after the holidays by storing it in a box specially made for wreaths. I found them last year at Walmart for about $3.50 for a 16" size.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten Days of Wreaths

Want to try something a little different for your door decoration this year? You can start with the traditional wreath made of evergreens, but then go with a motif that really says something about your family.
For the hunters among us, how about finally doing something with those antlers your husband keeps dragging home or those beautiful pheasant feathers you keep finding along the trail. Just these two items along with a few pine cones make for a dramatic showstopper for your front door.
Have more of those antlers? Try laying them along your fireplace mantle with some scattered greens, or place point side up in a large basket with other items from nature; dried grasses, cones, lichen covered branches. If you happen to have any of the wicker deer that are meant for yard decor, how about wiring a pair of antlers to each side of the authentic would that be?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Make A Dried Apple Wreath

With Christmas less than a month away, it's time to start making those gifts for your favorite family and friends. How about making this pretty dried apple slice wreath, either to replace that traditional evergreen one or for an inside holiday item.
I made this wreath on a wicker or branch form, although you could certainly make it on a circle form or really any form that you already have.
Dried apple slices can be great for many uses during the holidays, put extras in your existing potpourri, add to other decorations such as swags, garlands or for using fresh in punches or decor on desert plates. A garland of apple and orange slices mixed with Cinnamon sticks makes a wonderful aromatic accent for any public room in your home.
For complete directions, please visit:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Pear Pie

Have you ever eaten Pear pie? Have you ever even heard of Pear pie? Well, I hadn't until I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where we grow some of the best fruit in the world.
I love this pie, as does everyone who tries it, it makes a wonderful addition to Thanksgiving dinner along side the pumpkin pie. It's relatively easy to make and if you take a little time with the top layer of pears, can make a beautiful presentation. This pie can be dotted with fresh cranberries to really make it a part of the autumn harvest. Give it a try, I'm sure it will become part of your dinner every year.
For complete instructions:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Making A Fall Nut Wreath

We can probably all agree that the summer wreath has passed it's prime, but it's really too soon for that evergreen X-Mas beauty we all love to hang on the front door. A terrific fall wreath is one using all the harvest of the nut tree's, walnuts, almonds, hazel nuts just to name a few. But there are also all the wonderful seed pods that go so well with the whole nuts and can make a unique and interesting wreath.
I made this wreath years ago and drag it out every year just prior to Thanksgiving and it's always a pleasure to hang it on the front door with all the other fall decor. Give this wreath a try, no experience required! For complete instructions, please click on this link:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fall Decor For the Porch

Does your porch still have the remains of summer, you know, the pots of annuals that bit the dust weeks ago or a pile of toys the kids left laying around? If after taking a good look at your porch, do you feel as though you'd never want any of your family or friends coming into your home that way? Well, here's your chance to turn that neglected piece of real estate into a porch that says welcome to fall and all your visitors.

First gather up all the dying flower pots, toys and the summer chairs. Give the floor a good sweep, please check for cobwebs above your head, they look awful and tell folks that you had more than your fair share of spiders last summer. Does your porch light work? If not, check the bulb and wash the fixture if necessary.

Spending an hour or so now giving your porch some cleaning and a little fall decor will have all your neighbors looking at your porch for inspiration for their own.

Please read an article I wrote on jazzing up the entrance to your home for Thanksgiving or just to looking good before the X-mas season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inscribe a Pumpkin

Looking for a inexpensive but great looking grouping for your Thanksgiving Day decor? Try these pumpkins with a special message you create yourself. All you need are some sturdy squash and they are still around, left over from Halloween. A group of inscribed pumpkins look great on the table, the kitchen counter or even on the front porch. For ideas and complete instructions:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Decor

Are you having the family over for dinner on Thanksgiving? If so, you'll want to dress up the house in all the best of harvest decor. I love this time of year, it is so easy to decorate with all the best of the harvest. Big bowls or baskets of apples, pumpkins by the doors, dried flowers and grasses, just to name a few.

Decorating the dining table is, for some, a wonderful opportunity to bring out the best in linens and tableware, but it's also the chance to decorate it. Some will go for the formal look with a big bowl of chrysanthemums and autumn candles, others may like the casual look of a cornucopia basket. These baskets are shaped like a horn, open in the center as to allow you to fill the opening with fruit, leaves, mini pumpkins or anything you feel delineates thanksgiving.

I have many articles on e-how which give detailed instructions on all that matters to making your home look it's best for when company comes. Please stop by.....

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Greed of A Realtor

My post from the other day talked about my husband and I searching for a new home. Dave has been working "out of town" for just shy of a year now, and we decided to put off selling our home until the market improved, but buy now while the prices were down. After what seemed like months, we finally found our perfect home. It had everything we wanted in a tranquil neighborhood. Last Monday we made our offer, and after a couple of days a deal was struck. Dave went to the bank and got a cashier's check for the required 3,000.00 in Earnest money and had it delivered to the title company. He ordered inspections while I called and got an idea what homeowners insurance would cost. Now, Dave had signed the paperwork the same day that our offer was accepted, but my signature had to wait until he came home Thursday night and then we were to fax it to our realtor the next morning. But, something happened in the meantime that really destroyed my faith in almost all realtor's.

The same day that we delivered our Ernest money, the sellers agent showed "our" new house. These people made an offer, higher than ours as it turned out. The sellers realtor had the seller reject our offer and accept the new one. So, the day after the seller accepted our offer, we were out. I was so disappointed, I really loved that house.

Our realtor told us that what the seller's realtor did was in fact legal, but incredibly dishonest and unethical. We weren't even given a chance to raise our offer. What kind of agent does something like this? Someone without any scruples is my guess. Oh, we could threaten to sue, or at the very least, cause lots of problems for the seller and his realtor, but what would that gain us? I don't have the energy to fight a losing battle.

I'm somewhat surprised at my years past I would have never let this go. I would have called that realtor and given her my best in "shame warfare". Nowadays, I think I'll just drop her a nice little note and let her know she's working in the wrong state.....she belongs on Wall Street.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From The Tundra To The Valley

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I've written here, but I've had a good excuse. First of all as a gardener I've spent my summer outside, every minute of it! You know the more you plant, the more time you must devote to taking care of all of it.

Then we have been on the market all summer, again. That makes 2 years in a row that we've been trying to sell our home, I know many are in the same boat. We finally gave up the ghost and took it off the market a month ago, I hated to do it, I desperately wanted to move back to our hometown. And my husband lost his job here almost a year ago and has been commuting back to our old neck of the woods. That's a 3.5 hour drive and the cost of fuel has been killing us, not to mention that he's over in the valley with the rest of our family.....and I'm myself. BooHoo I know, but it's been rough.

So, when there wasn't a buyer in sight for the house, we (ok, me) moved to plan B. We made the decision to hang on to our house until the market improves, we had dropped our price 150 thou, yes thousand, and still couldn't pull in a buyer. So, we pulled the equity out of this house, it was payed for, and started all over with a new mortgage and a plan to buy another place while prices were low. We just had a offer accepted and am thrilled.

The new place needs a little TLC, a few things, but I can live with it until we sell the other house. The great thing about this new new garden. There are numerous old growth firs, the butts must be 5 maybe 6 feet round, and moss is growing up the trunks for many feet. The previous owner was surly a gardener as there are many beautiful shrubs, flowers and vines. There are pink begonia's growing everywhere. There are 3 Acer Maples that were a brilliant red/orange when we toured the place. There is a boxwood hedge that is taller than me and about 100 feet long. I am thrilled to have been given this small piece of wonder to make my own. And that's just the front yard.

I am going to make an effort to write everyday, and to catch up on all the blogs that I once really enjoyed. Hope you come along with me.....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The "Don't Do It" of The Week

When is yard art.......not?

Maybe you consider yourself eccentric or perhaps you give new meaning to the job of recycling. If so, I have a bit of advice for you...less is more!
I have known people who take recycling very seriously, and I applaud them for it. But I also believe that trying to use every bit of scrap that comes your way is sometimes the worst of two evils. The best example of this is in trying to use every bit of metal scrap as yard art around your house. It seems as though some folks just don't know when to stop!
I'm pretty sure most people would not care to live next door or even on the same street with what some would call "scrappy heaven". You all know what a scrappy is, don't you? A guy (usually) has a flatbed truck and drives around collecting free metal, which is then usually sold to a commercial recycler for money. Sometimes though, free stuff is really hard to get rid of, and so it gets carted home where it either piles up or end's up as "art".
Just remember that old saying.....Less is more!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Frazzled Nerves Are A Given When Selling Your Home.....

Well, here I am, back on the real estate market....I'd almost rather have my nails pulled out with a pair of rusty pliers! Although that would be a feat in itself as I've worked so hard I have no nails left. You know the drill, clean every inch of the house, then head outside to repair damage the winter left in the yard. I haven't had time to even shave my legs or rather haven't had the energy to do it after the end of weeks of back-breaking labor around here.
And then we get the realtor over to work out a strategy for selling. Now we tried last year to sell, went thru the whole nine yards keeping the house ready at a moments notice to exit and let a group of strangers look in my closets. In the 6 months we were for sale last year we couple look at our house! Talk about despair. So hearing that the market was improving we once again called the realtor. We had a sit-down with her to talk about a new price, we were being realistic, we knew that prices were at rock bottom in our state, so we knew that we'd be in for a shock. And geez, we got more than that. Last year we priced the house for 439,000.00. In order to sell this year the realtor said we'd need to price at between 250,000 and 299,000......might as well have poked me in the eye with a sharp stick because it didn't hurt any less. The part that hurts so much is that our price isn't based on years of equity that we'd built up, but the actual money we'd invested in remodeling this fixer-upper we bought 3 years ago. We only want our money out of that such a horrible thing? I'm not trying to make a huge profit here, just want a little something to repay me for 3 years of back-breaking labor.
So, to make a long, boring story short, I've been so busy I have neglected my blog. Stay with me friends, I'll need you to help get me thru these days of nerve-racking craziness trying to sell my house. Till later.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

The "Don't Do It" of The Week

I love the old brownstones you see so many of, especially in the Eastern parts of the U.S. These brick or stone houses were built to last, and included many architectural features you just don't see anymore.
So why would anyone paint these lovely old stone buildings, especially such an outlandish color as this bubble gum pink. I simply don't understand this choice of color, it is garish and harsh on the eyes. There are certain color's that don't lend themselves to blending into a neighborhood, and pink is one of them.
So, if you are fortunate enough to own a brick or stone home, please think twice before painting it....there is probably a better way to update, refresh or accent it without adding paint to the stone. I'm just saying.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grow Your Own Bay Tree

One of my favorite trees to grow is the Bay Tree, I use the leaves for cooking but the tree itself is such a pretty one that it can also be used for an ornamental.

The Bay tree is one that must be pruned unless you want it to grow to it's full potential, which is 40 ft. high by 32 ft. wide. The tree is best pruned in the fall, although I snip off leaves whenever I need them for cooking. The Bay loves a hot, sunny spot so anyone with a southern exposure should do fine with this tree. However, if you live where the wintertime weather has a hard frost you will need to move it inside.

The Bay loves to be pot bound, so planting in a 12" pot will hold for 6 years.

Use a whole bay leaf for all kind of soups, stews or sauces. Discard the leaf after cooking. The leaf also can be used for pickling, in seafood dishes and marinades.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The "Don't Do It" of The Week

If your lucky enough to have a fireplace in your place, I envy you! I don't have one in my current home and sure do miss the ambiance of having a fire flickering and sending off warmth. Not to mention all the wonderful opportunities a fireplace mantel gives for decorating.
The one thing you should never do though is use your fireplace hearth as an entertainment center, as in this picture. Now I have to ask, "who would do this"? Well, someone did and they must be desperate for a place to set that T.V. I think I would move my dresser out into the living room before I would hide my fireplace with this massive piece of electronics!
So, the moral to this story is, don't use your fireplace for anything other than having a fire, or for the display of a few little pretties, your space will thank you for it!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Painting Wicker.....Should or Shouldn't You?

Have you ever painted any wicker item? It can be a devil, getting into all the little grooves and crannies. Spray paint makes the job much easier, but then you don't have the selection of color and if you want to use more than one color there is alot of taping off to do. I personally don't care for painted wicker, I mean isn't that why you buy wicker in the first get that natural color of the branch or grass? Guess I just like the natural look of wicker or even rattan, so I steer clear of using paint on it. And another thing is if you do paint wicker and then change your mind about the color, your in for a real treat when trying to remove the paint. It's a very long and tedious job to get paint off of wicker, in fact it's almost impossible to get it all from those nicks and crannies.

I perfer to use stain on my wicker when it gets faded from the sun. Using stain is much easier than paint, I just use a throw-away brush and the stain of my choice. It does take a 1.5 hr or so to do a chair, but the results are worth it. The wicker takes stain really well and will make your wicker furniture look like new.

I also have a pair of wicker chairs that don't need stain every year but do need some TLC. Wicker will dry out and almost appear lifeless, so I give them a good dusting and then wipe them down with a lubricating oil. Pledge has a new product that does just that and it makes the wicker shine and will keep the wood from becoming dry and bridle. For getting into all the groves of wicker, use a throw-away brush.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Cover for Plants at Night

As a fellow gardener, I'm sure you've seen cloches, the glass domes that you sit over top of plants to keep them warm.These are beautiful, a whole row of them out in the garden, protecting young seedlings. But have you ever lifted one of these? They are quite heavy, and not easy to move around. I use a cheaper, more lightweight version of the glass cloches, gallon pickle jars. I have some that are glass as well as some that are made of plastic. They work just as well and are readily available.
If you don't have any of the pickle jars, try using a gallon milk jug with the spout cut off.....leave the handle to move easily. You can also use paper bags, although they will blow over if a wind picks up. You can fold over the edge and weight down with a few rocks. Plastic bags also work, although you must be diligent about removing it before the sun heats it up inside and your plant cooks.
Whatever you use, a little extra warmth at night when the temps are still dropping below freezing is enough to keep the plant from dying.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Little Cleaning Hint.....

One of the best parts about spring is being able to open the windows and let some fresh air into our homes. After awhile the very air in our houses begins to smell stale. Last week I finally was able to get outside to wash my windows, and boy did they need it. After all winter the glass was covered with dust, bug stuff (use your imagination here!) and water spots that were magnified by months of winter weather. Time to clean these guys.....

I love clean windows, I think the house just looks cleaner when the window glass is sparkling. Here's how I clean my windows, cheap and easy. First I take the screens off and wipe them down with an old piece of towel. Then I mix up a bucket of warm water with a 1/2 cup of ammonia. To really get the grime off the glass I wet the window and then wipe it with a piece of 0000 steel wool. This will remove water spots as well as all those other bits of grime. I wash the glass again and then dry with an old piece of tee shirt. Replace the screen and on to the next one. After you do both sides you'll be amazed at how nice the glass looks, a good start to your spring cleaning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Plan Your Gourd Garden Now

Gourds are one of those plants that just keep on giving. First you have this wonderful vine that can grow up to 10 feet long, making it perfect for twining around a free-standing trellis or obelisk. This fast growing vine also has a beautiful white flower, giving the plant a decorative look as well. I like this vine just because I think it's very pretty and could be trained around anything in a sunny location, but the best is yet to come.
There are many varieties of gourds, I'm sure you've seen them used as birdhouses or painted and used in the house. They are great for fall decorating all piled in a basket and displayed on your front porch.
For complete info on how to get started planning a gourd garden, please read an article I wrote on the subject.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Bowl Of Bulbs

You know spring is here when you see the first bulbs pop thru the soil and begin to set the flower buds. A big pot of bulbs can really give your garden or porch a touch of color plus give you a pretty specimen to set in a prominent spot.

This low bowl of Muscari (grape hyacinth) will really give that wow factor anywhere you place it, and the best part is that the plants will increase in size, so one pot can become two in no time.

When planning a pot such as this, use lots of bulbs, the plants are small and you really want to create a lush group of plants. The smaller bulbs like the Muscari do very well massed together, or go for any of the other bulbs that stay under 8" or so. There is a bulb in just about any color so you could match the current color scheme in your garden or on the porch. Sweet.....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Changing Direction

This is the eve of our front porch, and my husband is giving the siding a new coat of stain. We needed to do this as you can see that the wood has really been weathered. I bought a new star to hang in place of the wreath, but the colors were so similar that you couldn't even see it. Once the stain was all on we decided that the color was just too dark, from the street this area looked like a black hole!

So we went to the hardware store and had some oil based paint mixed to match the color of the house, which is latex. I think this lighter color makes the area look bigger and much brighter, I'm sorry we didn't do it sooner. What do you think?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Step Up In The Garden

Remember those old wooden ladders from long ago? Many of us still have these old ladders, although most of them are not safe to actually climb on. But they do make a terrific prop in the garden and can be used to display pots of plants or any other items you like to have in your garden.
One of my favorite uses for a wooden ladder is to train a climbing vine up the steps, like use it as a trellis of sorts. I think it's also good for plants like gourds, you could slip the fruit in a net or stocking and allow it to hang from a step. Maybe a display of all your favorite rocks or small rusty iron pieces. I have a collection of ceramic frogs and snails that look pretty cute sitting on all the steps, any collection would look good.
So drag out that old ladder and find a home in your garden for it, it just may give you a "boot" up on all your gardening buddies!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thinking about a Very Large Pond? Read this first.....

I have never met anyone who wouldn't want a pond somewhere on their property. The appeal isn't only aesthetic either, the sound the water makes is soothing to everyone. I have had a pond in every house I've owned, but they were small ones, usually only holding around 50 gallons of water or so. So when my husband and I bought our current home, I was very enthusiastic about having a very large pond. This one holds 27,000 gallons of water and is 4' at it's deepest level. There is a well made waterfall with a complete filtering system. The liner is heavy duty with a soft liner underneath it; the walls are made of shale and the area next to the patio is a 2' deep planting bed. This photo was taken late last fall when the cold had mostly killed all the plant material, but it looks wonderful in the summer when all is in bloom. We have several dozen feeder goldfish in the pond which have grown huge. I love to see them all on the top of the water, their color glinting in the sun. I have been able to incorporate water plants which do very well in this sunny location.
Now for the down side: If you think about it, 27,000 gallons of water is huge, if we didn't have our own well I would hate to think of what it would cost to fill a pond this size. Since this pond sits in a location that gets sun all day, algae is a big problem. The filtering system works well, but algae still grows even keeping the PH of the water at it's correct level. Every spring we must drain the pond and give it a deep cleaning, this is an all day project since it takes about 4 hours to drain the water. We then must catch the fish and keep them in a large bucket. Then on to the cleaning: we take our pressure washer and clean the liner of all the algae and whatever else has blown into the water and settled on the bottom. Once this is done it is time to refill the water, which takes 9 hours with only one hose running. The fish go back in and I add a aqua shade product, which turns the water blue and keeps the sunlight from growing too much algae.
The moral to this story is that while having a pond is wonderful, the bigger they are, the more work. And without a well it would be quite costly to fill. Also consider the cost of running a pump to circulate the water and provide power for the waterfall. I have estimated that it costs about $20.00 a month to run our pump. I consider this amount small considering the pleasure the sound the waterfall makes gives to my family and I. I also have the benefit of all the wildlife that comes to my pond to a sip of water. A huge variety of birds, squirrels, deer and all those nocturnal critter's that my dog tells me we have. The dragonflies are a treat as well.
So, if your thinking of building a large pond, please consider all these points of maintaining a large body of water in your yard. My next house will have a much smaller water feature: I'm thinking that a pond less waterfall is the way to go, a pretty waterfall without the body of water to maintain.....the less work the better!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Does A Strawberry Pot Really Need Strawberries?

Who said that you must put strawberries in a strawberry pot? Not me.....I think these pots work very well for many different groups of plants. For those with only a small space but a big desire to grow fresh herbs, why not plant all your favorites in this one pot for your own little herb garden. The larger pots have enough niche's for many favorites, and they could stay in a pot for 2 years before the plants began to overgrow the pot. How about a cherry tomato in the top space, along with some leaf lettuce and maybe a parsley or cilantro. Several different varieties of leaf lettuce would give you lots of color and you could actually get 2 crops a summer. What about spring bulbs? A pot full of tulips or even daffodils would look great on the front porch. For a hot spot.....Cati's or any of the annuals that love the heat, moss roses, marigolds or lavender. I could really see these pots done up for a shady spot.....ferns, sweet woodruff, trillium's, lobelia with a big, beautiful hosta in the top.

So, if you have one of these strawberry pots tucked away somewhere, dig it out and plant it up for a very different kind of container growing. Growing Hint: since my pot stands about 2' tall, it takes alot of water to get all the way to the bottom. My solution to make watering easier (and to save water) is to cut a piece of 1" PVC pipe that fits standing on the bottom of the pot and it comes all the way up to the lip of the pot. I drilled holes every 2" all the way down the pipe. When I water, I pour right down the pipe which waters all the soil right down to the bottom of the pot. It's usually not possible to center the pipe as a plant would go right in the center, but the pipe still makes watering much easier.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Making a Topiary.....Fun & Easy

Making a ivy topiary is one of the best times I have in my little potting shed. I make my own heart shaped form, but you can also buy topiary forms in just about any shape you can think of.
I use a heavy coat hanger and just cut off the hook with a pair of wire cutters. Then start shaping the wire into the heart shape, you may want to wear a pair of leather gloves for this. Your heart shape doesn't have to be perfect, after all it will be all covered.
Once the wire shape is done, find a nice pot you'll want your topiary to sit in. At your local nursery or variety store, find a 4" pot of ivy with the longest tendrils you can find. Transfer the plant into your nice pot, and carefully insert the heart frame. Begin to wind the ivy tendrils around the wire, not to tightly but close. Use plastic covered bread ties to hold the ends of the ivy in place. As the ivy grows, keep wrapping the frame. Give your topiary bright light and water when dry. Don't forget to fertilize during the growing months with a general all purpose mix. Hint: when selecting your ivy plant, only buy one with the small leaves, the larger leaf ivy is usually for outdoor use.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Very Busy Day!

Wow, what a day.....I just finished pruning all the shrubs in my back yard.....this is quite the job. I started at the crack of dawn and never turned off my electric clippers! I did manage some time to get the rack of lamb on for 45 of my closest friends that are coming for dinner tonite. I'm almost ready for company, but first I wanted to cut my hair, do a manicure and clean the house. How's your day going..........?
o.k., I confess, this photo is actually Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire, England............April's Fool!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grow A Moss Paradise

If you love moss, maybe you should think of having a moss garden. I love moss, probably because I see so many beautiful areas of it here in Oregon. The funny thing.....I know so many people who have fought having moss in their lawns or in their flower beds for years, spending time and funds dumping bag after bag of some chemical on the ground to kill this tiny, green plant. Instead of trying to fight nature, why not encourage moss to grow in your garden.

Moss gardens are green year round in all but the most frigid climates and give you the opportunity to incorporate a woodland area to your yard or garden. If you have shady spots on your property, why not give a moss garden a try.....I guarantee you'll end up loving it. For ideas and a few cool pics, read an article I wrote on the subject:

Monday, March 30, 2009

From Days Gone By

Many years ago, prior to the mass manufacturing of items, many things were handmade. Some of these antique's were wonderful in the simple manner in which they were made.
This antique wicker wheelbarrow is a terrific piece of history, this is what the gardener used before the metal ones were mass produced. What I wouldn't give to own a wheelbarrow like this one, just having it to use for light duty chores would be any gardeners dream.
Most times as new materials are developed for manufacturing, it is a good thing. The newer, lightweight materials that have been invented in the last century have made our jobs so much easier, but it's also a little sad to loose these older items that have so much character. My new mission is to find myself one of these wicker wheelbarrows.....I may have to plan a trip to England!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Growing House Numbers

I've seen many homes where there are no house numbers, making it difficult for someone to find where you live. Sometimes there just doesn't seem to be a good place to put them, or your a renter and don't want to invest in something that won't belong to you in the end.
Here's a cute and quick solution, paint your house number on some terra cotta pots, plant them up and set out front. These pots were just painted white, but you could just as easily leave the pots clay colored and and paint the numbers in any color you wanted.
Take into consideration the lighting where your pots will sit, sunny or in the shade or a combination, and choose your plants accordingly. You could add color from flowers and house numbers to boot, a very good solution to a "missing house"!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do You Tatouage?

Have you ever done any tatouage? For those not quite sure what this is, it is applying a picture to a flat surface using a dry transfer. These transfers are really beautiful, lots of detail and colors and you can find them in millions of design's and sizes. And the best part.....they are so easy that anyone can do them.

For lots of ideas and a link to the best place to buy transfers, please read an article I wrote on the subject.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Gardeners Workshop

Every gardeners dream is to have a potting shed that holds everything and more that we might possibly need. A sweet little shed that has vining plants running rampant all over the place, windows where we can start seeds, a comfy chair to wile away the time when it rains. I love the smell of my shed, homemade potting soil, clay pots stacked in every niche I can find and the dried flowers that are still hanging from the rafters from last summers bounty.
This shed is much more than a place to store my tools, it's my little get-away when I just need some peace and quiet. I love to bring a cup of coffee and a new magazine and just sit and think about what new wonders I will plant this spring.
If your a gardener without a potting shed, please read a article I wrote about finding a way to have your own little spot in the garden, where you too can find peace and tranquility.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Little Crazy but A Whole Lot Of Fun!

When I first told a friend of mine that I wanted to cover some old wicker porch furniture with moss, she just chuckled and said, "that sounds like something you'd do"! I'm taking that comment as a compliment because I don't ever want to get to that point where I'm afraid to try something as fun as this project.
If you have a set of wicker furniture that has really seen better days, and I mean that the seats are almost gone and there are rips and holes in the wicker, don't throw it out.....cover it with sheet moss that will love the surface and grow like crazy.
If you have access to fresh moss, then all the better. If not, you can use the dried sheet moss that you can find in all the craft stores. Simply carefully open and soak in some water for 10 minutes or so to rehydrate. You'll need to use small pieces of paddle wire to keep the moss in place until it set's itself in, but that won't take long. Once covered, you'll need to keep this moss furniture in the shade and water frequently, but what a focal point these chairs would be in the deep shade under trees where not much else will grow. Sweet.......

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Love to Cook? Then Grow Fresh Herbs!

If you love to cook homemade meals, then you know about the benefits of using fresh herbs. Herbs can give meat and vegetables a taste that your family will love and therefore eat!

Not everyone has room for a kitchen garden or even planters on the patio. You don't need a garden to grow your own herbs though, potted herbs do very well as long as you have a window that gets a few hours of sun per day. Use the largest pot you have room for and choose 3 or 4 herbs that you like to cook with the most. Make sure you purchase top quality potting soil and that the container has a drain hole.

This pretty pot contains sage, rosemary and thyme, 3 of the most useful herbs to cook with. All you need to do is snip off a branch or two, wash and chop to the size you need. If after a year or so your plants look less than healthy, remove them and replace with new ones. With the price of fresh herbs in the grocery stores, it would pay to grow your own and you'll benefit from all that fresh taste!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Are You A Gardener Who Loves Wildlife?

If you and your family love to watch the wildlife that comes and goes thru your yard, there is much you can do to insure that your doing your part to help feed and shelter all these creatures. If you like to provide water and seed to entice birds to visit your garden, then why not take it a step further and make your property a Certified Wildlife Habitat. This is quite easy to do and is an excellent way to teach your children about all of God's creatures.
For complete instructions and a link to the National Wildlife certification program, please read an article I wrote on the subject.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Free Wall Art

It seems as though when first starting out in your own place, that people concentrate on furnishing the house. It is important to have a bed to sleep on and a sofa to sit on. Artwork is important too, although these items are usually the last to be purchased, and that is the leading cause. To purchase, that is, but you can decorate your walls without spending alot of money if you spend a little time thinking about what you could use on your walls that is free or low cost.
This photo shows that you can pick-up a wonderfully shaped branch, paint it and then fill a large expanse of wall with it. Or a collection of branches would look great to create a tree effect.
Baskets are another inexpensive wall decor, several hung together always look great. Or a great many baskets arranged in a pleasing fashion can give a stylish look to almost any room. So, if you see something outdoors that inspires you, bring it never know where it could put down stakes and become one of your favorite pieces of art.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Are You A Romantic?

How pretty is this room, with all it's charm and comfort? All white furniture just seems to harken back to the 1940's when romance and style was the thing of the day.
Look closely at this furniture, these pieces are not new, but of a style that was popular many, many years ago. Your parents or even grandparents may very well have a set just like this, although it is probably still in it's dark wood stain. Dark wood can somehow seem heavy and almost gloomy, especially if the room has dark fabrics and little light.
How easy it would be to duplicate this look just by painting the furniture all white and using light colored bedding and accessories. If your just starting out and can only afford a used bedroom set, consider buying a collection of pieces that have good form and are sturdy. If you spent some time sanding, priming and painting, you could have a bedroom like this that just says " I'm a total romantic"!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sent To The Corner

This is the kind of faux paint treatment that I love, it's just a simple okra color ragged over white. This would look so great in a dining room or even an entry way. But what makes it special is the corner stencil, painted in a contrasting color. It seems as though stenciling had gone out of style until recently, when we began to see more original and stylized stencils that are a world away from the first "fruit and squares" that were popular many years ago.

As you can see from this photo, this stencil is simple in design with only a few leaves along with some swirls. It is understated and draws attention to the height of the ceiling. Please check out all the great sites that are online, you can find a stencil in millions of style's, design and price, and they are not the stencils that you may remember from years ago. Today's stencils are designed for the easy going lifestyle most of us want in our homes.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Take A Bath With A Fern

This beautiful bathroom has a bold color scheme with it's cobalt blue tub and sink and the black and white tiles add to the overall look. What makes this bath sensational though is the lush, green fern's hanging over the tub. This is the perfect place for a hanging plant, plenty of light from the windows and humidity from the water that's used in the bath. This spot is good as well for misting the fern's, which keep them moist and the leaves from browning.
Anyone who has a tub without a shower could do this in their own bathroom, all you would need is a hook that is firmly anchored in the ceiling.
There are a great number of tropical plants that would grow wonderfully in such a location, as usually it's the lack of humidity in our homes that lead to the death of a houseplant.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Help For A Worn Out Sofa

When your young and first starting out, there is never enough money to go out and buy new furniture. And what usually ends up happening is you get someones old hand-me-down stuff that has always seen better days. This is never more true than with a second hand sofa, if someone you know replaced it, chances are it was because it may have needed reupholstered. Almost always the seat cushions and the arms look pretty bad, sometimes so much that your not sure you even want this monstrosity. But hold on, there may be a solution to this problem, one that could give new life to that old sofa.

This method of "concealment" only works if the back and seat cushions can be removed. You will need a large piece of thick fabric, such as a bedspread or thin comforter. You could even use an old drapery panel as long as it is wide and long enough.

If the arms are torn and worn on your sofa, you can cover them with a strip of the fabric. Cut a piece from each edge of the fabric wide enough to cover the arm and having enough fabric to fold under the raw edge. Leave the strip long and using a staple gun attach the strip to the underside of the sofa end. Smooth the fabric up and put a few staples under the arm where they won't be seen. Then wrap the fabric up and over the arm, pushing the fabric down below the seat as far as you can. If you can feel any part of the frame here, try and use a few staples to hold the fabric taunt.

With the remaining piece of fabric, fold the edges under so that the width of the fabric is the same as the width of the seat and back. Begin by laying the fabric down on the sofa underneath the seat cushions. Place the cushions back on the sofa. When you get to the back of the cushions push the fabric down as far as possible and if you have any doweling or even a piece of PVC pipe, push it down as far as possible to keep the fabric from riding up. Then go up and over the back cushions and push the fabric down behind them. You may want to pin the fabric to the bottom of the back cushions to keep the fabric taunt.

It may be necessary to trim some of the fabric ends so that you don't have excess material behind your back cushions. Do try and find a piece of material that matches the color of the sofa, you end up with a sofa that looks so much better and can last until you have the means to buy a new one. This method also can work for a worn out chair as well.

Houseplants can Beautify and Improve Air Quality

As a gardener, it would be impossible for me or any other gardener to not have at least a few plants in our homes, we just need to be surrounded by green living fauna. But, you really don't even have to be a gardener to have a beautiful plant somewhere in your home, one plant really requires very little time or care.
Did you know though that plants contribute to the quality of air in your home? The leaves of plants release oxygen they make into the air, important especially this time of year when all of us keep our windows closed due to the wintertime conditions.
That being said, it is very important to keep your plants clean of dust so that the leaves can breathe. One easy way to do this is to clean and water at the same time by putting your plants in the shower. A slow stream of tepid water will wash the leaves off and water the plant at the same time. If your plant is in a pot too heavy to move, take a wet rag and gently wipe each leaf off. If done regularly, your plants stay clean, healthy and will continue to contribute to the health and beauty of your home.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Beautiful and Unique Window Treatment

What woman wouldn't just love this garden style bedroom with it's vining flower's running around the window? It can be quite difficult to outfit a window such as this one with drapery because of the arch at the top of the frame, but using a little paint could solve this problem quite nicely.

All this design would need is a vine stencil and several colors of paint. I have used a vine stencil many times and they are very easy to use, to change direction or curve, just turn the stencil over to get a mirror image.

As you can see from the photo, this bedroom was coordinated using the stencil on the lampshade and even the front of the nightstand. You could also do the bed linens by using a fabric paint. Any young girl or single woman would just love to have a bedroom like this to end the day with.