Good Night, Great Morning

I never truly understood how frustrating it can be to have trouble sleeping.  But just recently, I’ve started to notice that it’s not as easy as it used to be for me to get a good night’s sleep.

I have found that getting enough exercise during the day usually helps, but that doesn’t always work with my schedule.  So I’m looking forward to trying a few of these tips brought to me by a guest writer.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.

Good Night, Great Morning

Getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge for so many people. With our busy, connected lives, we’re often rushing around and fall into bed exhausted at the end of a long day – yet unable to switch off.

The problem might be environmental, physical, or simply a poor routine. In this guide, we take a look at what you can do to get your best night’s sleep ever.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Get Ready

Cut out the caffeine after midday and stick to water and non-caffeinated drinks. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so it might be worth experimenting and going without to see if that makes a difference.

Even as much as two hours before you normally hit the hay, think about powering down your body. Keep your ambient lighting turned way down to help rest your eyes and let your body know that bedtime is right around the corner. While many people fall straight to sleep after drinking alcohol, very often that sleep is poor quality and they wake up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty, so try to avoid excessive alcohol before you go to sleep.

Make sure that the television, tablet, or mobile phone is switched off at least one hour before bedtime – even earlier if you can. This helps your brain to slow down and stop processing information. The blue light of a mobile phone is known to trigger brain activity, so make a rule for yourself that you won’t take your phone up to bed with you but rather leave it off, silent in another room.

Think Bed

If there’s one thing worth investing in for your home it’s a great bed with a mattress that’s just the right size and firmness. Find a mattress size guide to determine which size bed is best for you.  And always buy the best quality that you can afford. You spend a lot of time on your mattress, so choosing a good one will go a long way toward getting a great night’s sleep.

Your pillow is also important, so figure out if you need one or two for a more comfortable position and then buy good quality ones – hypoallergenic if necessary.

Create a Restful Atmosphere

When you’ve got your bed ready, the light blocked out with lined curtains, and the heat turned down to warm rather than hot, you’re ready to go and get the rest your body deserves. If you need to, use earplugs, eye covers, or whatever helps you block out any excessive noise and light from your room.

Getting rest and restoring your brain and body is exactly what you need to take on the challenges of a new day. Make sure that you make sleep a priority so you’ll be functioning at your very best the next day. Get your head down for a good night and prepare for a great morning.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Keeping Your Home in Tip-Top Condition

As usual, my spring cleaning regime has spilled over into summer.  Just last week, we got our windows washed.  And I finally climbed a high ladder to clean the chandelier in our bathroom.  I clean that chandy about every five years whether it needs it or not!

Do you keep a list of spring cleaning to-dos?  I keep my list in my head – a scary place to store it.  One task that’s been on my mental list is to actually sit down and write a list.  So when a guest writer brought me this nicely organized outline of home cleaning/maintenance tasks, I thought it was worth sharing.  I may even use it as a starting point for the [long] to-do list that I need to write!

The following is a contributed post. For more information on my contributed posts, click here.

Keeping Your Home in Tip-Top Condition

When you buy a home, you have all the best intentions of making it perfect and keeping it that way. But finances and time often dictate what you can and can’t do. Usually, after a while, the sheer amount of things that need to be done can be overwhelming to the point that nothing gets done. 

If you are a homeowner, the number of tasks that fall to your shoulders can be a heavy burden. But if you make a list and get those maintenance items done on a regular basis, they will take less time to do.  And in many cases, regular maintenance can stave off having to pay for significant home repairs.  

You will ideally want to get a list put together to make sure that you don’t lose track of what you should be doing.  Many home maintenance tasks don’t require a professional.  If you get stuck, you can turn to Google – or an article like this to help you through it. 

The following list is broken down into monthly, quarterly, and twice-yearly tasks. Many things will be season-related, but generally you can do most jobs at any time. 

 

“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” Marie Kondo

Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

Biannually

These are jobs that just need to be done twice a year – or more often if necessary.  

Pest Check

If you are seeing droppings or hearing scratching noises, then it is time to take immediate action.  If you have a crawl space under your house, a basement, a loft space, or an attic, you should do an inspection for pests. If needed, there are a lot of different pest control options to take care of everything from wasp nest removal to pest control for raccoons. And these problems can be taken care of quickly. 

Batteries

Don’t wait for your smoke alarm to start chirping its low-battery warning. Put it on your list to change your smoke alarm batteries every six months. You should also change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and emergency flashlights. 

Deep Clean

Yep, it is that time of the year. The deep clean needs to be done. And, while you probably clean house weekly, you need to put more effort into the big deep clean. Book one Saturday in with your family, and give the whole house a deep scrub. Pull drawers out, move the couch, clean all of the appliances, windows, shelves – the works. This will be more of a chore if you aren’t cleaning regularly other times of the year. So do yourself a favor:  Clean once a week and do a deep clean every six months (at least). 

Monthly

Kitchen 

The kitchen sink disposal probably sees a lot of action. The quickest way to clean it really thoroughly is with vinegar ice cubes. Simply make some ice cubes out of white vinegar and freeze them. Then pop them in the disposal and run it. The ice will sharpen up the blades, and the vinegar will kill off any lingering smells. 

Your range hood filters could become clogged and begin to smell if you don’t add this into your monthly cleaning routine. You will need to take the filter out and use a degreaser to lift the caked-on grime. Then you just need to use some good old-fashioned elbow grease and give it a good scrub. Once dry, put it all back together. 

Carpets

They hold on to a lot more dirt and dust than you might think. While a quick vacuum once a week is okay – every other day is probably better – you are going to need to get heavy-handed once a month. You can rent heavy duty carpet cleaners or get it done professionally.  Keeping up on this task ensures that your carpet stays odor free and comfortable to walk on.  

Windows

A once-a-month scrub with vinegar and newspaper will keep your windows gleaming between deep cleanings. Or you can use chemical-based cleaners if you prefer – they both do the same job in the end. 

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Upsplash

Toilets

A weekly clean is great, but a good, thorough scrub once a month really gets into all the nooks and crannies. You don’t have to use bleach-based chemicals if you don’t want to, but a disinfectant is advisable. Clean in and around the rim, behind the lid, and underneath. This helps prevent odors from taking over.

Quarterly

Alarms

Although you will be replacing the batteries in all of your alarms, you still need to check periodically to make sure that they are all working. Most have a ‘test’ button that makes this an easy job – although you might want to pop in some earplugs to dampen the noise slightly. If there is no sound, it could be that light corrosion is causing the battery not to register.  So just take out the battery, give it and battery terminal a good wipe, put it back in, and re-test it.

Water

Take a walk around the house and check all of the taps and toilets for leaks – and shower heads too. Run all the faucets for a few minutes (this is a great time to add cleaner to the sinks and toilets) and see if anything is going on. Fix any leaks as you go. 

Ongoing

As you walk around your house, you might find other things like peeling paint, stains and creaky floorboards. Whatever problems you find, add them to your to-do list – because tackling all those little jobs that your home needs helps keep it in tip-top condition. 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Taming the Monster: A Garden Corner Makeover

Most gardeners will tell you that there is always some small part of their garden that gets neglected.  It’s usually a tangle of shrubs so seemingly overwhelming that they don’t even know where to begin.  And so they ignore it – maybe work on other areas of the garden – anything to avoid having to tackle it.  I certainly can relate!

Recently my mom, Erika, tackled and conquered an overgrown corner in her own garden.  And it looks so much better now that I thought this would be a great time to head over to her garden for our annual field trip.

We’ve been to Mom’s home and garden several times before and, in case you missed any of our previous field trips, check out these posts:

 

Taming the Monster

I wish I had a before photo to show you of the area that Mom conquered. Tucked away in a corner, it was a dense thicket of shrubs under a tall pine tree.  Decades of falling needles had accumulated in this thicket to create a huge mound of debris.

In this photo, taken after Mom had cleared most of the debris, you can still see what was left of the mound.  (Please excuse the poor quality of these photos which were taken with my cellphone.)

Garden makeover: clearing the area.
The low branches that Mom unburied from the mound were twisted, crazy, and interesting.  So she decided to keep them!

She pruned some shrubs from the thicket and removed others.

Adding Structure

Now Mom needed to bring structure to the corner.

She terraced the soil and added a short retaining wall and walkway, repurposing stones and pavers that she already had onhand.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

She brought in pieces of garden art, including an old chimenea that she had painted red and placed backwards to look like a large urn.  The paint was already starting to chip and, as you’ll see in the later photos, the chipping continued.  But it actually gives the urn a fun look.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

 

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

 

My brother Dan jokingly said the area looked like a shrine.

But we all knew it would not look that way for long.  As always, Mom had a vision.

 

Adding Beauty

It was still early in the year, and she planted small plants and spread mulch over the soil.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

Since the area is mostly in shade, she planted hostas, ferns, primroses, baby tears, and shade-tolerant sedums – most of which would emerge later as the weather warmed.

And Mom didn’t go out and buy these plants.   She separated and transplanted plants that were already in her garden.  This little garden rehab project was costing her next to nothing.

These transplants would work nicely with the azaleas and rhodies that were already there.

The Result

It’s amazing how quickly the plants have taken hold – and how happy they look.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

This rehabbed corner already looks like it’s always been this way, and it has the same relaxed “secret garden” style that I love so much about the rest of Mom’s garden.

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

The area is behind her gazebo so, coming around the corner from the gazebo, this is what we see now.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

There are so many interesting little details to catch the eye yet, with its limited color palette, this area feels serene and uncluttered.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

Sedum

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

DIY garden makeover: After
A maidenhair fern holds pride of place behind a rustic pot.

 

While we’re here, I want to show you Mom’s gazebo.  It’s so beautiful right now with everything in bloom.

Gazebo

 

Roses on gazebo

 

Roses and petunias
Roses and petunias

Thanks for coming along on our field trip.  Mom’s project has inspired me to tackle a problem area in my own garden – one of these days!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Easy Tips for Keeping Your Home Fresh This Summer

Like many old houses, our 1920s cottage can smell a bit sour in the summer heat – especially when we’re on vacation and it sits closed up for days or even weeks on end.  Opening the windows is usually a quick fix, and I also use low-tech methods of dehumidifying to keep rooms smelling fresh.

Seems I’m always striving to keep our house as fresh as that elusive summer breeze.

So when a guest writer brought me this piece, with a few simple tips on freshening up around the home, I thought it was worth a share.  If you have your own tips for keeping a home fresh in summer, I would love for you to share them in the comments!

The following is a contributed post.

Stress-Free Home Hacks for Summer

Summer can be such a fun time with great weather and lots of exciting things to look forward to. But with so much going on, from vacations to the kids being off school, summer can fly by so fast. So it can sometimes be tricky to really be able to savor the season and enjoy the days of summer fun.

Plus, there are regular things like chores and housework to be getting on with, even if all you want to do is to head to the local swimming pool. So with that in mind, here are some of the ways that you can keep on top of your household chores and cleaning over summer. 

 

Keeping your home fresh in summer

 

  • Deodorize Trash

When the weather is warmer, it can make your trash smell more, as bugs and mold love the warmer temperatures. So for your large trash can outside, or the one in your kitchen, think about using some baking soda to help clean it. Sprinkling baking soda at the bottom is something that really helps to keep the bad smells at bay.

 

  • Bathroom Freshness with Essential Oils

If you have children, they will be home much more in the summer.  Friends and family might come calling more often during the summer.  And this means your bathrooms will get a lot more use than normal. So in order to keep smells at bay, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of your toilet paper roll.

 

  • Keep Bugs at Bay

Bugs are much more likely to creep into your home in summer, because doors and windows are open more, and they want to cool off from the heat. Plus, drips from ice lollies and other food can be really attractive, especially for things like ants.

General household cleaning can help to keep pests and bugs at bay, but if you want to save yourself some time, call an exterminator. You might need a specific one, like a bed bug exterminator, for example. It all depends where the problems are in your home. Just keep an eye on things over the summer and call for help when you need it.

 

  • Microwave Cleaning with Lemon

With the kids being home over summer, especially with teens, the microwave is something that is much more likely to get used. And is there anything worse than coming downstairs in the morning to find that your teenager has used the microwave to heat pizza, leaving it smelling and dirty. So a quick hack that you can try is slicing a lemon and putting it into a microwavable bowl, and filling the bowl with water. Then pop it in the microwave for three minutes and see what happens. You can remove the bowl and it will make wiping down the sides much easier.

Using a bowl of white vinegar in the microwave and leaving it in there for an hour, with the door shut, can help to get rid of bad smells.

Hopefully these tips will leave you with more time to enjoy your summer fun!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
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Dan’s Workshop
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Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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Dan’s Garage Rebuild

Today I have two exciting announcements.  The first is that I’m introducing my new Summer Guest Writer series.  This summer, from time to time, I’ll be handing over the keyboard to some talented voices who will be giving us fresh home and garden inspiration.

Secondly, my dear brother Dan (aka “The Mad Scientist”) is our first guest writer!  I cannot think of a better way to kick off my new series.  Besides always having a DIY project or two going on at his own house (including his amazing dining room remodel), Dan did the window trim in Mom’s sunroom, built my beautiful vintage-inspired greenhouse lights and, more recently, built the perfect corner cabinet for our laundry room remodel.

But right now he is sharing the DIY rebuild of his vintage garage – which he did on a budget with reclaimed materials.  Don’t miss the before and after at the end!

So without further delay, here’s Dan:

My Garage Rebuild

My sister thinks of me as somewhat of a mad scientist, but I’m also a homeowner and occasionally I find myself mired in the tedium that all homeowners face from time to time.

So one day I saw what looked like a little dry rot at the left corner of my garage door frame. Upon closer inspection, I realized the whole front facade was rotting and had to be replaced.

I was looking at two months of nights and weekends working on this. I could have just hired someone but, knowing I was handy enough to do this myself, my frugality won out.

Also I thought it would be fun to give the garage a facelift rather than just replace the rotted lumber.

Garage before rehab.
What I had to start with.

I began searching the web for images of late Victorian and early Craftsman style houses and garages looking for designs or specific design elements I liked.

Once I had several ideas in my head, I started sketching them up. After several re-designs, here’s the plan I came up with:

The Plan
The Plan.

 

Once I had a plan I liked, it was time to develop a shopping list and see what building materials I might already have left over from previous projects.

The plan changed a bit when I realized the old garage door was a custom size. Rather than spending extra on a custom door, I decided to adjust the size of the opening. Losing only 6 inches on each side saved me about $350. I can live with that.

 

 

With all my building materials and a new garage door ready for installation, it was time to start the demolition. Some people love demolition, but I find it irritating and hazardous. But the dry rot hadn’t evolved into toxic mold yet, so…yay!

After relieving the tension on the old garage door counterbalance spring (those suckers could take your hand off if you’re not careful) and relocating a light switch, it was time to put on a dust mask and go at it with a sledge and crow bar.

Sometimes you find interesting things while doing demo. I discovered that the original door spanned the full width of the garage. The previous owner probably had to replace the door, and in doing so made the opening more narrow. It was this previous remodel that was rotting away.

The original lumber that the garage was built with was still in pretty good shape after 110 years. Only the old door trim was beginning to rot. It was pretty easy to replace.

Originally it was probably a double sliding door or a pair of bifolds, maybe something like one of these:

Old garages
What the old door may have looked like.

 

I also found copper framing nails in some places. I never knew such a thing existed.

Wood with a copper nail
A copper nail!

 

After doing a little research, I found out that, decades ago, copper nails were recommended for use in pressure treated lumber, although none of the lumber I had to tear out was pressure treated (which was why I had to tear it out).

Old garage door
Broken, rotting garage door

 

I kept the garbage pile neatly stacked so as not to annoy the neighbors.

 

Assembling the new door sections, tracks and tension springs turned out to be a two-day project. The assembly instructions said I should expect it to take 5 hours.

The amount of hardware that comes with a new garage door is incredible.

 

Garage door hardware
Box 1 of 3!

 

 

With Fall rapidly approaching, I decided to turn my attention to getting the siding and windows installed.

I needed two different kinds of siding, two windows, a little bit of tongue & groove beadboard, and some trim. I decided to go with PVC for the beadboard and trim. That stuff never rots. But I wanted the windows and siding to look like they were original to the garage.

Time to start poking around the salvage shops.  I wanted traditional lap siding for the sections on either side of the door, and cedar shingles for the gable section. I found both for less than half the price of the big box stores.

The shingles were unused, unpainted leftovers from a job someone over-estimated. The lap siding had nail holes and peeling paint but, for the price, I was willing to do a little sanding and scraping.

I bought about 25% more than I needed but, due to splitting and other flaws I didn’t see when I bought it, it was just barely enough.

reclaimed lumber
Needs work, but you can’t beat the price.

 

reclaimed lumber
Here you can see where there was ivy growing.

 

I also bought two windows at the salvage shop. They needed to be trimmed down a bit to fit between the existing studs, but they were in fine shape and required far less work than the siding.

Even the old paint color worked for me.

Reclaimed windows
Just a good cleaning and trimming down to size was all these windows needed.

 

It’s starting to take shape!

 

DIY garage rebuild
It really comes together with the trim in place.

 

DIY garage rebuild
I used a straight edge to keep everything level.

 

Now I had to do the beadboard at the gable above the windows. I made a template out of scrap wood to make sure the fitment was spot on. Then I glued the sections of beadboard together.

Once the glue set, I marked it with the template and cut it down to size. It fit perfectly!

Gable template

 

Gable template

 

DIY garage rebuild
Success!

 

The weather took a turn, so I had to put off the spackling and touch-up painting, and instead work on installing the garage door opener.

I was blown away by the features available on openers these days. I didn’t need WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth, or alerts sent to my iTelphone, but they still make good old fashioned “push a button and it opens and closes” garage door openers.

They just make them better now.

I got one with a DC motor so it can open slowly at first and then speed up instead of just jerking the door open.  That’s easier on the mechanical components of the opener and the door. It’s tiny but powerful.

 

garage door openers - old vs. new
Garage door openers: Old vs. new.

 

garage door opener hardware
Great. More hardware.

 

My original design called for a lantern on either side of the door, but those lanterns would have been right at eye level and kind of blinding instead of shining the light down onto the driveway where I needed it.

So I decided instead to look for something like this:

 

The price for one of these new would  break the budget so, once again, my frugality is getting the best of me.  I’ve decided to make my own.  In a previous post, I made a rustic pendant barn light out of a $14 heat lamp, so maybe you’ll see this build in a future blog post.

But right now, summer is starting to roll around again and I have other projects needing my attention. A homeowner’s work is never done.

In Summary

I wasn’t really looking for a late-summer remodel project, but all in all it went pretty well and there weren’t too many unpleasant surprises. Plus I learned a few things along the way, which is always fun.

Let’s take another look at what I started with.  This was the garage before:

Garage before rehab
Before

 

And here it is now:

After

My design also called for a trellis over the door, but I’ve gotten so many compliments on this from neighbors and passers-by already that I’m going to leave it as-is. Maybe at a later time, if I feel the design is getting stale, I’ll add a trellis and a wisteria to grow on it.  But for now I think this is fine.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
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Releasing My Air Plants into the Wild – And a Spring Garden Tour

A while back, I briefly mentioned my current plant crush:  The air plant called Tillandsia usneoides (or live Spanish moss).  I’d been admiring these plants for some time, and recently I broke down and bought a few.

They are very versatile.  I even used one as the outer ring for my elevated tulips arrangement.

Elevated Tulips

Spanish moss is the mystical-looking stuff that hangs from live oak in the South.

At my house, it just hangs from a tall vase and resembles a beautiful sorceress.

Live Spanish moss
Fun trivia: Spanish moss is not really a moss, nor does it come from Spain.

 

Caring for My Spanish Moss

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Every couple of weeks, I soak the plants in water for six to eight hours.

Live Spanish moss soaking in water

Sometimes I toss a couple of small drops of plant fertilizer into the water.

After their long bath, I hang them to dry.

Live Spanish moss drip drying after soaking in water 6-8 hours
Live Spanish moss turns a beautiful shade of green when it’s wet.

Alternatively, I could mist the plants every 3 or 4 days.

This plant loves filtered sunlight and good air circulation.  In my climate, it yearns for the outdoors in spring and summer.

So recently, I decided to give the sorceress what she wanted.  I would release her into the wild.

 

Releasing My Air Plants Into the Wild

Of course it’s safety first for my beloved Spanish moss.  So the sorceress went only as far as my front porch, but at least she’s outdoors.

Live Spanish moss

 

She hangs from a potted corkscrew willow branch where soft breezes and morning sun can caress her.  My thought is that this closely resembles what she would be doing in her natural habitat.  And here, I can make sure she gets enough mist to (hopefully) stay happy and healthy.

Live Spanish moss

Kidding aside, I’m hoping to see this plant grow and multiply this summer.  With more of it, the decor possibilities are endless.

Will the birds try to use the Spanish moss for nesting material?  We will find out.  I’m whisking the sorceress indoors at the first sign of trouble.

But right now I think the lion likes her.

Front porch decor

 

porch

 

A Spring Garden Tour

These photos might have you thinking that I have some tiny modicum of  control over the garden, but don’t be fooled.  As always, chaos is winning.

So I have decided to just go with it.  If something wants to form drifts and take over, maybe that actually means less work for me?  I can kid myself anyway.

Urn in garden drifts

 

After all, it’s hard to get mad at the adorable sweet woodruff that has taken over my patio garden.

Sweet woodruff

 

Patio

 

Patio

 

Or the poppies that are everywhere.

Poppies

 

This time of year, everything is so fresh and green.

Birdbath

 

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of months can make.  Here is our front birdbath now.

Birdbath and peonies

 

And this is what it looked like during “The Big Snow” in February.

Birdbath in snow

 

And now in the shade garden, where the snow had flattened the undergrowth, the tiki is being taken over by hardy geranium.

Tiki
This Easter Island-inspired tiki was carved by Chris’s brother.

 

Over on the fence line, the bees are crazy about the blooming hebe.

fence

 

I am a pushover for topiaries because they can help bring a little structure and order to the chaos.  Recently I pruned this succulent (which spent the winter in the greenhouse) into an orderly shape.

Succulent

 

The peonies I planted last year are still scrawny, but I did get a beautiful blossom from one of them.

peony
The packaging for the peony tubers simply said “pink.” Imagine my surprise at this beauty.

This time of year, there is always plenty to do in the garden.  You could probably tell that I still have a lot of work left.  Gardening (or “taming the beast,” as I think of it) is the main reason that my blog posts are so few and far between in spring.

Thanks for visiting today and coming along on my spring garden tour.  If you get a chance, check out my Summer Gear page – one of the new “rooms” in my updated Shop.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

Sources

Live Spanish moss  can be found in better plant nurseries or on Amazon.

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
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Garden Design
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An Easy DIY Hanging Garden Sphere

The Inspiration

This past February, while Mom and I were strolling the marketplace at the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, we came across a booth that had these hanging garden spheres by Rustybirds.com.

Hanging garden spheres by Rustybirds.com

 

They really appealed to me.  What a unique alternative to a hanging basket!  And they were so simple and classic that they would look great in almost any garden setting.

Unfortunately I had already spent my limit at the marketplace, so I took the photo hoping that I could find a budget-friendly way to reproduce the sphere.

I can tell you right now that I didn’t – not entirely anyway.  But I did come up with something very fun, affordable, and simple to put together.

 

The Materials

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I was hoping to use bare metal wire cages and apply the same rust technique that I used on these soup cans to get the a similar patina.

But the bargain hunter in me could not resist the $5 apiece metal baskets that I found at a local discount store.  They even came with their own coconut liners.  But they had a black vinyl coating, so the rust technique would not work on them.  Black they would stay!

Hanging baskets with coconut liners.

I took the coconut lining out of one basket – the basket that would serve as the “top half” of the sphere.

I left the lining in the other basket – the basket that would serve as the “bottom half.”  (I did trim the lining down a bit as it seemed too large).  This “bottom half” would contain soil and plants.

Then, just to help with water retention for the plants, I fitted the inside of the coconut lining with a layer of landscape fabric.

I covered the outside of the coconut lining with sheet moss.

Prepping the hanging basket.
Prepping the bottom half.

I didn’t have one large piece of sheet moss to use, so I just layered a few of the sheet moss scraps that I had onhand.

Then I added potting soil and, because the sphere would be hanging in part shade,  I planted it with New Guinea impatiens and baby tears.

Bottom half completed

 

 

Building the Sphere

So how would I fasten the two halves together?  And preferably with something that I could easily reopen?  I pondered this for some time before realizing that the chains on the baskets already had clips that would work perfectly.

I removed the chain from the “top half” basket.  That chain would not be needed.

I kept the chain on the “bottom half” basket.

Then I just attached the “top half” to the “bottom half” with the fastening clips from that chain.

This photo explains it better than I can.

The two sphere halves clipped together with the chain fasteners from the bottom half.

 

Voila!  I had my sphere.

DIY hanging garden sphere.

I’d lined up the two halves so that the wire patterns of each mirrored one another.

Now I have a strange and unique “globe” hanging on my front porch.

DIY hanging garden sphere.

It hangs at eye level from a large S-hook.

DIY hanging garden sphere

It’s early in the season, and the plants I used are still small.  So right now, the shape of the sphere is the main attraction.

Later in the summer, I’ll add a photo update to this post.

I’ll be using this sphere for another purpose when the holidays roll around.  So stay tuned!

And as long as you’re here, hop over and check out my brother’s beautiful budget DIY garage rebuild using reclaimed materials.  I’m so proud of him!

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A Tour of Erika’s Sunroom

Every now and then, I take my readers over to visit my mom Erika’s beautiful garden.  But today we’re headed inside her house to tour her charming sunroom.  

It’s my favorite room in her house and the one I always gravitate toward.  But it was not always like that. 

In fact, it was not always a sunroom.

A Porch Conversion

When Mom first moved into her mid century rambler, the sunroom was actually just a covered porch.

The original covered back porch.

Even though the porch was in dire need of a facelift (as was the rest of the house), it was a nice place to relax on a warm day.  But it wasn’t living up to its full potential.  Mom could almost hear the porch begging to be enclosed and converted to a sunroom that could be enjoyed year round. 

So that is exactly what she did.  She hired out some of the work, and she had some help from my brother Dan.  But she did much of the work herself – including installing the ceramic tile floor.

A door in the media room gives us access the sunroom.  Let’s go back in time to right after Mom got the house.  This was the media room then – and the door to what was then the covered porch.

Before improvements: The media room and the door to the covered porch.

 

The media room was probably the ugliest room in the house  – and if this photo isn’t proof that Mom is fearless, I don’t know what is.  (Actually, at the time I think we were all pretty excited about the potential of Mom’s cosmetic fixer.)

The Tour Begins

Of course, Mom immediately made improvements to the media room.  This is the entrance to the sunroom now.

media room after
The media room, after improvements, with the sunroom beyond.

 

The sunroom is long and narrow, so Mom divided it into three zones.

The Tea Room

Coming through the media room door, this is the first area we see.  

Sunroom

A corner of windows gives it abundant natural light.  When I visit Mom, especially on a rainy day, there is nothing I love more than to sip a cup of tea with her here.

 

Porch converted to a sunroom.

For a rustic contrast, Mom kept the original  pine ceiling.

If we turn toward the bank of windows, we have access to the outdoors.

Exit door of the sunroom.

And here I must mention that my brother Dan did the interior finish work on all the windows and doors.

Sunroom bank of windows.

He did a beautiful job of trimming them, and it was good practice for the stunning dining room conversion he undertook at his own house a few years later.

The Reading Area

If we turn from the tea room, we face a teak bench.  It serves as a reading area, but more importantly it helps to separate the potting area behind it from the tea room.  

teak bench

The bench divides and defines the spaces, yet it is low enough to allow ample light and a spacious feel.

Plus, no matter who you are, it is a nice place to relax.

Teak bench and our loyal buddy,

The Potting Area

The newest addition to Mom’s greenhouse is the bench that my father built years ago.  In my childhood home, this bench sat in the entry hall.

Mid century shoe bench before its facelift.

 

Mom replaced the cushioned seat with a laminate, added a little paint, and now the bench is part of her potting area.  It stores potting supplies, and the top can be used as a work surface.

Sunroom

And from the tea room, we don’t see the potting soil, empty pots, or hand trowels.

Sunroom potting area

But this is where plants are overwintered and tubers are started in Spring. 

Mom saves money by buying annuals in small six-packs (aka pony packs) and then separating them into 4-inch pots.  There they have room to grow and are protected in her sunroom until it’s warm enough to plant them outdoors.

 

A shelf in the corner holds decor and plants.

Asia-inspired shelf

 

It is still bright enough in this corner for the plants to thrive.

Plants on red shelf

 

Sun-loving plants are placed near the windows.

Sunroom

This concludes our little tour of Mom’s sunroom.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunroom

Now it’s time for Mom to relax a bit with her loyal companion before starting her next project.  But knowing Mom, she won’t be sitting for long.

Sunroom

Here are my previous posts about Mom’s home and garden:

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Did You Know

Mom is also a writer.  She currently has two books available on AmazonYear of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her real-life experiences during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 

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Our New Coffee Station

Last fall, a cousin invited us to her party and made me cup of coffee with her little Nespresso machine.  Specifically, she made me a lungo – which, to me, is a cross between a shot of espresso and an Americano.  It was a strong and delicious cup of coffee, with the water steamed to a light froth.

It reminded me of Europe:  The hotels where we stayed all had these nifty coffee machines in their breakfast rooms that, with the push of a button, could produce lungos, espressos, cappuccinos, and more – on demand.  These were small cups of coffee – six ounces at most – not the grande-sized drinks we are used to here in the States.

So when Chris found a barely-used Nespresso Lattissima Plus on eBay, he surprised me with it on Christmas.

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It was one of the nicer Nespresso models and could make both milk- and water-based coffee drinks.  (This model is also currently available, new and used, through Amazon.)

Worrying – It’s What I Do Best

I was excited about my gift but also hesitant.

First of all, even though it was a small machine, it was still something that would take up countertop space (and an electrical outlet) in our kitchen.  And since this little machine would only make single cups of coffee, and short ones at that, it would not take the place of our existing coffee maker.  So we’d have to keep that one as well.

Secondly, Nespresso machines use coffee capsules, and the used capsules cannot be sent out in our curbside recycling.

Lastly, cleaning the machine, specifically the milk spout, looked like a lot of work.

 

No Worries

Chris immediately dispelled my concern about cleaning the milk spout.  He showed me the button to push to automatically clean the spout with steamed water.

“Now just try it,” he said.   “We don’t have to keep it.”

Moments later, while sipping a delicious lungo, I said “Oh we’re keeping it.”

So I pushed aside some of the serveware on the hutch countertop and plugged the Nespresso in there.

The clutter was not ideal, but it was wonderful to be able to make espresso drinks so easily.

A demitasse filled with espresso and cream.

 

And I learned there are several options for recycling Nespresso capules.

 

The Coffee Station

The hutch countertop remained cluttered until recently when we added this vintage cabinet to our kitchen.  It now holds most of our casual serveware.

This freed up space on the hutch countertop for a prettier coffee station.

Coincidentally, my mom Erika had been organizing recently too – in her craft/sunroom.  (We’re going there, by the way, in a future post.  Her sunroom is so pretty that I have to show you.)  She offered me one of the beautiful landscapes she paints.

When I got it home, I set it on the hutch until I found a place for it – and then I realized that the hutch is the perfect place.  (Lately I’ve been loving the casual look of simply propping art against walls on tables and countertops.  It makes it so easy to “layer” the pieces with more art or move pieces around.)

I found a new tray with colors that complement the painting.

And we finally had the perfect place for our cute vintage Dienes coffee grinder.

We don’t do syrups in our coffee, so I kept the coffee station simple.  The Frango tin holds a bag of powdered cocoa for the occasional mocha or hot chocolate.

 

As far as the machine itself goes, my only small issue is that sometimes the steamed milk could be a bit warmer.  (And I keep forgetting to put the detachable milk carafe back in the fridge after making a milk-based drink.  But I can’t blame the machine for that!)

 

Overall, we’ve really upped our coffee game around here, and I’m feeling better about keeping the machine.  Coffee anyone?

Resources:

There are many varieties of Nespresso machines out there, some of them smaller and simpler than mine.  But I would advise visiting a Nespresso boutique for a taste test before making a purchase.

 

 

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Elevated Tulips

I recently visited a thrift store where I spied a simple and classy silver footed cake stand.  As I was deciding if I really needed it, an announcement came over the PA that all pink-tagged items were on sale.  Since the cake stand had a pink tag, I took that as a sign that I was meant to have it.

I’ve always been a pushover for pedestals or any kind of elevated or footed container. 

And just the way a cake looks so much more impressive on an elevated stand, if I take a common, garden-variety plant, and place it in an elevated container, that somehow makes the plant look more important.

Here, elevated milk glass containers lend class to baby tears and the mystery bulb that I dug up from my garden.

So today, I am sharing the simple way that I used my silver cake stand to display a bunch of grocery store tulips.

 

The Goal

For this project, the goal was to take a small bunch of cut tulips (cost:  $1.69) and make them look like they were growing out of a moss-covered chunk of earth.  This chunk of earth would be elevated on the stand to contrast natural materials with polished elegance.

The Materials

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I used five tulips, some sheet moss (my favorite go-to for floral and decor projects), a little reindeer moss, a shallow water-tight saucer (in this case, a plastic faux clay saucer), spike flower frogs, and my newly found silver cake stand. 

And I used one more surprise material that I will show you later.

The Method

It was easy.  I cut the sheet moss to size to wrap it over the top of, and around the sides of, the shallow saucer.  I tucked the ends of the sheet moss underneath the saucer.

I cut a large hole in the middle of the sheet moss so that I could place flower frogs inside the saucer. 

And then I cut the tulips to the desired height and secured them onto the flower frogs, spacing them somewhat evenly.

I placed the saucer on the cake plate and filled it with water for the tulips.

Then, using reindeer moss, I covered the hole I’d cut in the sheet moss.  This was to conceal the flower frogs.

It looked a little like a “tulip cake,” if there is such a thing.  I thought it was kind of cute, and I was tempted to leave it at that.

But I added one more thing – an outer ring of Tillandsia Usneoides

Tillandsia Usneoides (live Spanish moss) is a beautiful and amazing air plant.  It is my current obsession, and I will be writing more about it soon.  For now, let’s just say it was the icing on the cake (okay, more like the icing around the cake).

I can simply replace these tulips with new ones once they get tired – or try a different type of flower or even a combination.

And maybe one day I will use the stand for a real cake.

Resources:

Sheet Moss and Reindeer Moss can be found in craft stores and on Amazon.

Tillandsia Usneoides can be found at better nurseries and on Amazon.

Spike flower frogs can also be found in craft stores.  Vintage spike frogs are fun and collectible.  Check out this selection on Etsy.

I was lucky to happen upon that silver cake stand, so simple and elegant.  Cake stands like it probably turn up every now and then on Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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