Second Tuesday Art Walk #8: Dream Gardens

This will be the last Second Tuesday Art Walk for a little while.  I’ve decided to put this monthly feature on hold because I have so many things I want to share on this blog – but not enough time to write posts about them.  So for now something has to give – and that something is Second Tuesday Art Walk.

One of the reasons that I’m short on time is that we have a large garden, and it’s time for spring garden clean up.

Spending two days taming a buttercup infestation makes it easy to lose sight of the reason that I love gardening in the first place:  Gardening is a creative outlet.  But here in the Pacific Northwest, we have the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Festival to remind us of that.

Last month, the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary.  My mom, Erika, and I have been attending the festival, which takes place in Seattle, every year – probably since the very first one.

So I thought this would be a fun time to share some of my favorite things from this year’s festival and some from recent years past.

Spring Fragrance

Inside the entrance, a cheerful spring bulb display always greets visitors.  The intoxicating fragrance of hyacinths and the piped-in bird songs set the mood for the show.

Spring flower display, 2016

Floral Competition

Across from this display is the floral competition.  This year, I immediately recognized the work of my favorite floral artist, Michelle Pedersen, owner of The Art of Forest Blooms.  You might remember her 2016 guest post about her masterpiece that year.

I love her use of natural elements and settings that create a story about nature.  Her 2018 installment was entitled “Forest Friends.”

Photo courtesy of Michelle Pedersen

Mom and I spent some time soaking in all the details of this piece, and photos just don’t do it justice.

Forest Friends by The Art of Forest Blooms, 2018

Michelle’s work is joined by that of many other floral artists.  Some artists even poke fun at living in the Pacific Northwest.

Singing in the Rain, 2013


Minted's Limited Edition Art Prints

Display Gardens

Over the years, it seems that the lighting in the display garden area has evolved into an art in itself.  The public shuffles around in near darkness, and the displays are lighted for maximum impact.

The result is a fantasy world where trees become ethereal.

Creeping branches, 2018


A contorted hazelnut, maybe? 2017

Large Scale Nature

Preparing for this show is an immense undertaking.  Huge trees, boulders, downed logs, and giant root systems are brought in.

A hike in the mountains is recreated, 2016


A dream pond in a forest setting, 2016


A natural setting, 2015


Little Pink Houses – And Other Ones Too

To me, what the display gardens do best is blend man made structures with natural elements.

Cottages, quaint shops, or even little neighborhoods are created.

April in Paris, 2012


An English tudor home and garden, 2017


A little pink house! 2016


A seaside cottage, 2016


A walled Tuscan garden, 2016


Pergolas, Sheds, and Greenhouses

These little (or sometimes not-so-little) structures are the stuff that dreams are made of.  They are the reason that I always leave the show with a million ideas bouncing around in my head – even if they are completely impractical ideas that I could never act on.

After all, how many of us actually have a luxurious sleeping shed with a built-in herb garden nailed to the exterior?

Sleeping shed with herb garden, 2017

Or an island pergola?

A pergola over a pond, 2018

Or a stained glass greenhouse?

A stained glass greenhouse, 2018

Other structures seem more attainable.  Or at least I can kid myself that they are.

Statuary pergola, 2013


A rustic shed, 2015


A dream potting shed, 2017


A Victorian gazebo, 2016


Al Fresco Living

Because it’s cold and raining about 75% of the time here in the Pacific Northwest – or at least it seems that way – when the weather actually is cooperating, almost everyone rushes outside to dine and lounge al fresco.

And the festival always has some lovely vignettes to inspire us to do just that.

Conifers and tea, 2017


Cottage tea time, 2017


Outdoor living room, 2016

Al Fresco Cooking

And isn’t it everyone’s dream to cook outdoors?  How about a gorgeous built-in barbecue with a live herb garden growing on the backsplash?

Outdoor kitchen, 2017

The festival always has a few amazing outdoor kitchens for us to drool over.

An outdoor kitchen, 2018

Complete Fantasy

Of course, some displays are purely for fun.

A giant chess set, 2018


Who lives here? 2013


A stone bridge, 2016

Small Details

We try to take our time with the display gardens and really soak everything in.  There is so much to see that it would be easy to miss the small details that are often so inspiring.

A cute mason bee house, 2016


A miniature village, 2017


A carved heron, 2018


A shower head with air plants, 2018


Limited-palette planters, 2018


Bonsai tree, 2018


Small-Space Gardens

Like most big cities, Seattle is becoming denser and gardens are shrinking.  But the festival always has some fun ideas for small-space gardening.

A terrace garden, 2016


A vertical garden, 2014

The Marketplace

There are so many seminars offered at this festival.  I’m ashamed to admit that Mom and I have never attended a single one.  No, the festival is so huge that we are lucky just to get through the display gardens and the marketplace.

This year, the marketplace seemed bigger than ever, and we didn’t have enough time to see all of the booths.

But I always make time to visit my friend Henri at the Sunglo Greenhouses booth.

Henri Parren and a Sunglo Greenhouse at the 2018 Northwest Flower and Garden Festival

Since we have a small Sunglo greenhouse of our own, I love to see what new innovations Sunglo has come up with.

And Henri had a few indoor begonias on hand.  He gave me the two that needed the most care and said that he knew I could make them thrive.

Challenge accepted, Henri.  Challenge accepted.

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The Wreath That The Storm Blew In

Between rain storms, I’ve been cleaning my garden.  With all the wind we’ve been having, it is a mess right now.  Little twigs from my birch tree are constantly falling.

Recently I raked some of the twigs into a pile.

They reminded me of a fun, crazy twig wreath that I’d seen recently at my favorite nursery – a wreath that was way out of my budget.

So I decided to try making my own.  And I found out that it’s easy.

Securing the Twigs

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I bundled handfuls of twigs together with wire and attached them to a wreath form – again using wire.  I tried to space the bundles evenly around the wreath form.

I didn’t worry about concealing the wire.  You’ll see why later.

I should have worn gloves.  Between handling the twigs and bending the wire, my hands took a beating.  I used a wire we had on hand, but in the future I’ll probably use this florist wire instead since it’s made specifically for floral projects.

Taming the Monster

I ended up with a monster.  I loved it.  But it was way too wide to hang on our door.

So I pruned it with garden shears.  I didn’t want it to look too neat, so I tried not to prune it too evenly.

Now it would fit on the door.  But the wires still needed to be concealed.

Concealing The Wires

The wreath I’d seen at the nursery had chartreuse preserved reindeer moss circling the center.  So I would do the same.

I started out using greening pins but, for the amount of moss that I needed to attach, that got tedious very quicky.  So I wound up using good old fashioned Elmer’s Glue to attach the moss to the wreath.  It worked fine, and I’ve read that Elmer’s is biodegradable.

And since the wreath will hang in a protected area where it won’t get wet, the glue should hold.

The Result

My wreath looks just like the one I’d seen at the nursery.

I wasn’t sure if a dark twig wreath would look right against our charcoal colored door.  But I like it.

I could add a few pieces of spring or Easter decor to the wreath.  Or not.  I kind of enjoy it the way it is.

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

More On Twig Wreaths

With twig wreaths, the possibilities are endless.  Now I want to try grapevines, pussywillows, and even bamboo.

One place I’m looking to for inspiration is Etsy, where the artists are offering so many beautiful handmade twig wreaths that put mine to shame.


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An Experiment with Coleus

Ever since we set up our little Sunglo greenhouse a few years ago, I’ve been trying to find the best way to start plants from seeds.

So early last spring, I conducted a little experiment:  I planted seeds using three different seed starting kits to learn which method worked the best for me.

Comparing seed starting kits
Seedlings planted in three different seed starting kits

With spring just around the corner, this is a good time to share my findings.

The Three Seed Starting Kits I Tried

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There are many types of seed starting kits and trays out there, but for this little exercise I used three easily found, affordable Jiffy products.

Since I’d never planted coleus seeds before, I decided to make coleus the subject of my experiment.  I planted them in all three kits.

I planted several types of coleus but mostly the rainbow mix.

The three Jiffy kits I used were:

Seed Starter Greenhouse.


Peat Pot Strip Sheets.


Peat Soil Pellets.

The Pros and Cons of Each

In this post, I won’t go into the mechanics of how to use each kit.  I believe they all came with instructions – which I mostly followed.  I did modify things slightly to suit my greenhouse environment and to address a concern I had about one of the products.

Here is what I learned:

Seed Starter Greenhouse


Seedlings in the plastic chambers of the Seed Starter Greenhouse


  • If treated right, the plastic potting chambers are reusable year after year.
  • Each tray can start 72 seedlings.


  • The chambers are small so my seedlings outgrew them quickly.
  • Transplanting seedlings from the chambers was more difficult and disruptive to plant roots than using either of the other two methods.
  • I had to separately purchase soil to fill the potting chambers.  The seed starter soil I chose didn’t hold together well, and it seemed to dry out too quickly (which of course was my own fault).
  • Probably because of the soil I used, moisture retention in the potting chambers was uneven.
  • The plastic chambers cannot be separated so, unlike the other two methods, it was impossible to share individual seedlings with friends without transplanting them first.

Peat Pots

Seedlings in peat pots


  • Larger chambers meant the plants didn’t outgrow them as quickly as with the seed starter greenhouse.
  • Transplanting was easy and not disruptive to roots.
  • Since the peat pots could be separated, sharing seedlings with friends was easy.


  • This method also required purchasing soil.
  • Although the plastic tray is reusable, the peat pots are not.
  • Moisture retention seemed uneven, again probably due to the soil I used.

Peat Soil Pellets

Seedlings in peat soil pellets


  • Transplanting was easy and didn’t disrupt roots.
  • Similar to the peat pots, sharing individual seedlings with friends was easy.
  • I’ve read other posts to the contrary but, for my little experiment at least,  moisture retention in the soil pellets was far superior to the first two methods.
  • No need to purchase soil separately.  There was no guess work here.  Everything the seeds needed was already in the soil pellet.
  • I saved a little time with this method since I didn’t have to fill potting chambers with soil – although I did have to soak the pellets in water and wait a bit for them to expand to the correct size and moisture level.


  • The pellets are encased in a mesh, and when a seedling is transplanted, the mesh gets buried in the soil along with the pellet.   However, I have read from several sources that the mesh casing doesn’t always break down when buried in the soil.  And sometimes this restricts root growth.  I wondered about this when I was using them.  I just didn’t like the idea of burying that mesh casing.  So my easy fix was to carefully peel off the mesh when I transplanted the seedlings.  The mesh came off easily and, for the most part, the pellets held together after the casing was removed.
  • I found it just a little more time consuming to plant seeds into the pellets versus the other two methods.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t have listed this under cons but, while the plastic tray is reusable, the pellets are not.  However, a bag of replacement pellets is inexpensive and takes the place of the soil that needs to be purchased with the other two methods.

My Personal Favorite

Even with the extra step of removing the mesh casing, I liked the peat soil pellets the best. And I’m finding that they are available in four different sizes, as illustrated by the chart on this page.  So there are options, but now I’ll be careful to pay attention to which size I’m actually buying.

How the Coleus Did

So how did the coleus fare in these three different methods?  In all three seed starting methods, the seeds sprouted consistently.  However, over time, the ones started in the peat pellets did slightly better – and in some cases much better.  This could have everything to do with the poor soil I used in the other two methods.

Eventually, the coleus had to be transplanted into larger pots.  By this time, I had become somewhat attached to them.  Each plant was a little miracle of color and pattern.  The greenhouse looked so cheerful with these pretty babies.

Growing coleus in a Sunglo greenhouse
Coleus and other plants growing in our Sunglo greenhouse

Finally it was time for them to go outside.  Feeling overly protective of my little gems, I didn’t plant them directly into the garden.  I used them in containers.

In hanging baskets.

Coleus in a hanging basket

In numerous clay pots.

Coleus in clay pot

It was fun to group similar foliage colors and patterns – or to combine plants with heavily contrasting foliage.


Some plants stayed small.  These little guys were given tiny pots and paired with larger plants.

Coleus with ornamental grass.
coleus and begonia
Coleus and begonia

Coleus plants do bloom, but the flowers are insignificant.  The real star of the show is the beautiful and varied foliage.  When backlit by the sun, certain plants have leaves that resemble stained glass.

Coleus leaves

To encourage prolific foliage, I pinched them back when I saw flower buds emerging.

I brought the cuttings inside and put them in vases.

coleus is a spectacular alternative to cut flowers

Some of them sprouted roots in the water.  I didn’t try to plant them in soil, but that may have worked as a propagation method.

In my climate, coleus is an annual, meaning that it only lives until the fall frost kills it.  But I read somewhere that coleus plants can be brought indoors in cold weather for protection and placed back outside in spring.  I have a couple of coleus plants from last summer in my greenhouse now.

Soon they will be sharing space with the coleus seeds I just planted.  I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s beauties once they sprout.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only. The little experiment I describe here was completely unscientific.

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Decorating with Vintage Glass

It wasn’t fun coming home after our recent trip to Hawaii.  Cold mornings, wearing layers again, drab gray days.  I missed all the color and the tropical foliage.

I was tempted to add some tropical decor to our living room.  But in the middle of winter, and here in the Pacific Northwest, that wouldn’t look right.

So I opted for a subtle, airy botanical look with a limited color palette.  And to keep it interesting, I used vintage glass containers.

Glass and the Weak Winter Sun

One advantage to using glass in winter decor is that it reflects and amplifies natural light.  And in winter, we need all the natural light we can get.

Patron bottle as found in a thrift store.
Sunlight in a bottle? A thrift store Patron bottle and a vintage flower frog capture the morning sun.

Shopping My Own House

Of course, another advantage to using vintage glass for decor is that it’s inexpensive and easy to find.  I had some stashed around my house:  Bottles, flower frogs, and a glass float.

My husband Chris always has cool stuff I can use.  (He is quick to remind me that I sometimes call his cool stuff “junk” until I find it useful.)

This time he had some vintage kerosene lamps.

Vintage kerosene lamp

One of them was missing the glass shade, but I liked it better without one.

Vintage kerosene lamp

A Variety of Foliage

I used a combination of artificial foliage and live plants in clay pots.

Decorating with vintage glass


Decorating with vintage glass


Decorating with vintage glass


Decorating with vintage glass

I’m surprised at how this little bit of glass decor has livened up our living room.  And, since it’s so affordable and easy to come by, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for new pieces.  It would be fun to try denser layers and collections of glass during the winter months.


About Kerosene Lamps

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Before electricity, kerosene lamps were an essential source of light in many homes.  But if tipped over, they could become the source of disastrous fires.  Today, we can appreciate their vintage charm without having to rely on them for light.

In the right setting, a carefully chosen kerosene lamp can become art.  And as a collectible, they are still very affordable – and plentiful.  A search on Etsy turns up a treasure trove of kerosene lamps.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #7: Dresser and Cabinet Makeovers

If I gave two DIYers identical pieces of furniture and said “Take this piece and make it your own,” I would get two completely different results. That’s the fun of furniture makeovers:  Everyone has a unique approach.

So in this month’s Art Walk, we’re looking at inventive ways to make over old dressers and stereo cabinets.  Why dressers and stereo cabinets?  Because there are so many of them out there in need of a little love.

You would not believe what some of these pieces looked like before their makeovers.  If you want to see before photos, or if you want to learn more about a process, click on any photo to be taken to the original post.

Let’s begin!

Hollywood Glam

I love how Tarah at Grandma’s House DIY paired black paint with glass knobs for this stately look.   She used a gloss finish over the paint to get that elegant sheen.

Photo courtesy of Grandma House DIY

The Power of Prep Work

I have long admired the work of Nicole over at Visual Heart.  Her makeovers of mid-century pieces are so airy and cheerful.  And turning an ugly particle board duckling into this beautiful swan took a lot of vision – and a lot of prep work.

Photo courtesy of Visual Heart

Dresser Turned Vanity

Over at Lolly Jane, twin sisters Kelli and Kristi didn’t just make over a vintage dresser – they converted it into a charming bathroom vanity.  I have always wanted to do this.

Photo courtesy of

She’s Got Legs

Carol at The Red Painted Cottage took a boring square box of a dresser and made it adorable by painting it and adding legs and a wood plank top.

Photo courtesy of The Red Painted Cottage

An Artist’s Touch

When Miss Mustard Seed paints a dresser, she really paints it.  The choice of colors and the careful distressing make this piece spectacular.  I only wish I were artistic enough to try this.

Photo courtesy of Miss Mustard Seed


Stencils are a fantastic way to add impact to any piece.  A mix of wood grain, paint, and stenciling by Carrie at Dream Green DIY brings balance and interest to this piece.

Photo courtesy of Dream Green DIY

When Less is More

My husband Chris brought home a raggedy mid-century stereo cabinet that he wanted to convert to a liquor cabinet.  I was eagerly envisioning a makeover similar to something Nicole would do.

But then Chris noticed that the piece was made of mahogany.  And he is never one to paint over quality wood.  So he did an honest restoration of the existing wood.  Now it’s a handsome and timeless liquor cabinet.

Paring it Down

Sometimes removing something from a piece highlights what is left.  I found a worn little “princess” dresser covered in a cheap, dingy floral laminate.  It was probably originally intended for a girl’s bedroom.

After some chalk paint and antiquing, the dresser is more mature.  And its whimsical curves can finally take center stage.

Thanks for joining me on the Art Walk today.  And thanks to the folks who allowed me to share their work.

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From Cluttered to Cute: Ravamping a Walk-In Closet

Storage space saves marriages.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.  But storage space is rarely a bad thing.

Which is why Chris and I recently took on a little rainy-day project:  Revamping a small walk-in closet to make it more efficient.

But before we even get started, I have to apologize.  Because this closet, with its tricky lighting and tight space, was really hard to photograph.  So please excuse these grainy photos.

Too Much Bedding, Too Little Shelving

Our TV/guest room has a daybed with a pop-up trundle.  I love it because it makes the room so versatile for guests.  It can be a twin-size bed, or convert to a king-size bed, or we can set up the room dormitory-style with two twin beds.  Any other time, it’s the comfy daybed where I watch TV.

But all this versatility means that we need to store bedding for a king-size bed and two twin beds.

And this is what led to the closet looking like this.


And this.

Occasionally, our TV watching was interrupted by an avalanche of precariously stacked bedding falling from the closet shelf.



Putting a Blank Wall to Work

It was pretty easy to see what the problem was with this little closet.

There was only one shelf on the south wall.  And the west wall was blank except for an ugly drain pipe.

Lots of wasted space on the west wall

So we decided to extend the existing shelf by eight inches and add another shelf above it.  And then add two 10-inch-deep shelves to the west wall.

And when I say “we,” of course I mean Chris.  Here is yet another instance where he did all the heavy lifting while I followed him around with a camera.

The result was two L-shaped shelves.

I didn’t want the shelves to look new.  I wanted them to look like they’d always been there.  And I think Chris achieved that.


Painting and Unpainting

Once we knew where the shelves would go, we removed them so I could paint the closet a cleaner white.

And while we were at it, we thought, we might as well spray paint the ugly drain pipe white to minimize its impact.  I didn’t want to paint the small copper pipe behind it.  Painting copper just seems wrong to me.

But there was something we wanted to un-paint:  The hardware on the little pocket window had received many coats of paint over the years.  Who paints a window chain?  Apparently everyone.

The chain and latch look so much better now that the paint has been stripped.


Moving Back In

Bedskirts, mattress covers, quilts, blankets, sheets, pillows, shams:  There is space for everything now.



And that little blue dresser that sat piled high in the closet before?  We put it back.  It is now almost empty, so it will serve as overflow space for guests to unload their suitcases.

Above it, a little surprise for guests:  A vintage mirror.  An extra mirror is always a nice touch in a guest room.

(I was tempted to style the top of this dresser for the photo – until I heard my little voice of reason say, “Oh please.  It’s a closet!”)

Not the most glamorous home improvement project in the world, I know, but I’m happy that there is just a little less clutter at our house.

Before and After

Before: One shelf on the north wall.


After: The existing shelf was extended by 8 inches, a shelf added above it, and shallower shelves added to the west wall.


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

About the Pop-Up Trundle Daybed

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I have plans to refresh our TV/guest room a bit:  A new rug, new curtains, and fresh paint.  It should be a fun little project.

But one thing I don’t want to change is that pop-up trundle daybed.  It’s been a while since we bought it, but it is a lot like this one on Amazon.  The mattresses were not included, and we added our own headboard.

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Five Things to Enjoy on the Big Island

Chris and I are restless travelers.  For us, exploring is more relaxing than sitting poolside with a mai tai.  We’d rather be on a road trip than trapped in a resort.  And if there’s a crowd, we can usually be seen walking in the opposite direction – unless it means we’ve found a really good farmers market.

So this is why we choose the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, when we crave a tropical sun break.


What is the Big Island?

Before I explain why we love the Big Island, I should clear up any confusion.  People often think that the term “the Big Island” refers to the island of Oahu, presumably because Oahu is home to the state’s biggest city, Honolulu, with its touristy Waikiki strip.  But the term “the Big Island” is actually a nickname for a different island:  The island of Hawaii.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the island of Hawaii and the state of Hawaii share the same name.

The island of Hawaii really lives up to its “Big Island” nickname.  Its land mass is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined.  The terrain is diverse and includes arid lava fields, snow-capped mountains, tropical rain forests, high-country ranch lands, lush plantations, and Volcanoes National Park.

You may have heard that the Big Island isn’t for everyone, and that is true.  Some folks cite its shortage of white sand beaches as the reason to visit Maui or Oahu instead.  There are long drive times between sites (for example, the drive between the city of Kailua-Kona and Volcanoes National Park takes two to three hours).

And the Big Island’s acres and acres of lava fields can seem barren and unwelcoming.

Chris conquers a lava field

But we’ve learned to love the lava fields because hiking them can lead to some beautiful and secluded black sand beaches, snorkeling coves, or other natural treasures.

Since we just returned from another trip to the Big Island, I thought I would share the top five things that we look for when we visit.

1  Historic Sites

On the island of Hawaii, learning about native culture rarely includes a visit to a stuffy museum.  Heritage sites are fun and fascinating.  One of my favorites is a National Historic Park called Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau – or the Place of Refuge.  I won’t give away why it’s called that, but it’s a gorgeous and peaceful place to visit.

Tikis at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau

2 The Green Flash

On the west side of the island, the sun sets over the water.  Sunsets are legendary here, so much so that in Kona it’s not uncommon for restaurant patrons to applaud after seeing a particularly spectacular one.

A sunset in Kona

Ever since our first visit to the Big Island, we’d heard about a phenomenon called the green flash.  Apparently, when atmospheric conditions are just right, the sun gives off a quick green flash just before it disappears into the horizon.

But try as we might, we’d never seen the green flash for ourselves.  Never, that is, until our most recent visit.  So now I can say with confidence that the green flash is not a legend.  It is real!

Looking for the green flash is only half the fun.  Whether on a beach, a seawall, the deck of a condo, or a fun outdoor restaurant, sunsets are a wonder to take in.

A band setting up for a sunset concert at a Kona restaurant.

3 Coffee Farms

The Big Island is the land of the coffee bean.  Over 650 coffee farms, large and small, occupy the hillsides above Kona.  Many of them welcome the public, and we try to find a new one every time we visit the island.

Trellised coffee plants at Kona Joe Coffee Farm

In addition to coffee plants, fruit trees and flowering shrubs keep things interesting.

A banana tree makes a fine house for a gecko at Greenwell Coffee Plantation

Yes we love coffee.  But most farms, by virtue of the where they are situated, also have sweeping views down the hillsides to the ocean.  They are lovely, relaxing places to visit – and to sample coffee.

A cafe with a view at Kona Joe Coffee Farm

4 Solitude

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Whether a beautiful deserted road, a beach where turtles stop to sun themselves, or a deserted cove with good snorkeling, it is possible to find peace and solitude on the Big island.

Pahoa-Pohoiki Road
Sea turtles near Kiholo Bay

Some places are easier to get to than others.  We find ourselves hiking over lava fields much of the time.  But how do we even know about these out-of-the-way treasures?

On our first visit, we discovered the book Hawaii The Big Island Revealed by Andrew Doughty (make sure to find the most recent edition).

To us, “the book,” as we call it now, is like having a local tell us, in hushed whispers, where we can find the island’s hidden treasures.  And more than that – entertaining us with backstories, history, and amusing anecdotes.

Makalawena Beach

In pursuit of out-of-the-way gems, the book sometimes suggests hikes on (to put it mildly) uneven terrain, and it sometimes suggests activities, such as kayaking, that are dependent upon ocean conditions being safe enough.  So we are careful and make sure not to bite off more than we can chew.

(By the way, Andrew Doughty has written similar guide books for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.)

5 Farmers Markets

I always look forward to visiting the farmers markets.  We like to be adventurous and buy fruits we haven’t tried before – even the ones that look prickly and menacing.  Vendors are usually good about describing a fruit’s taste (sometimes samples are available) and advising us on the best way to enjoy it.

Farmers markets are also great places to get locally made art and gifts.  There are several nice farmers markets, but my personal favorite is the one in Hilo.  Wednesdays and Saturdays are the best days to visit.

And this time we discovered the Pure Kona Green Market, which takes place on Sundays in Captain Cook and features many local artists and live entertainment.

Til Next Time

Missile scares notwithstanding, we had a lot of fun on our recent visit to the Big Island.  We’ve since left the land of sunshine and pineapples behind and returned to our home of rain and pinecones.  And while there is a certain charm to the pinecones, we’re always looking forward to our next escape to the Big Island.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.

What I read on the plane:

Prarie Fires:  The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser.  I may have been headed to and from Hawaii, but I was completely immersed in the frozen prairies of the Dakotas in the 1800s.  Using the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and others, Caroline Fraser fleshes out the harsh reality behind the softened stories told by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House books.

I read about half of the book during our plane rides.  Because of the hardships that the Ingalls family (and all farmers in the Dakotas at that time) had to endure, Prairie Fires was not always an easy read for me.  But I marvel at the strength and endurance of these early settlers.  Let’s just say I won’t be so quick to grumble the next time there is too much foam in my latte or my laptop is a little slow.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #6 – Discovering A Home’s Hidden Storage Areas

Welcome to the January edition of Second Tuesday Art Walk.  This time we’re on a treasure hunt to find that precious commodity:  Hidden storage space.  But what we’re looking for is hiding in plain sight, because it’s easy to scout out those little underutilized areas once we take a fresh look at our homes.

The possibilities are endless, but today I’m sharing five.  Let’s get started!

1.  Covered Porches and Protected Entryways

I always strive to make my front porch look welcoming.  But, without sacrificing style, I could do a lot more to make it functional – a place to store umbrellas and mud boots so they never have to come inside.

In a protected outdoor area, it might even make sense to add a simple hat and coat rack like the one that Sara built.

Photo courtesy of Twelve on Main

It took her less than 20 minutes to make it herself.  The tutorial is here.

2. Small-Scale Vertical

When I think of vertical storage, I usually think large-scale, like closet organizers and wall units.  But small-scale vertical storage can make life so much easier.

I could get rid of the lazy Susan next to my range if I had something like Amy’s DIY backsplash shelf and organizer.  I love that it takes up zero counter space.

Photo Courtesy of Her Tool Belt.

3. Re-evaluating Closets

This suggestion might seem obvious, but how many of us actually do this?  And what a difference it would make.

Beth and Nick took this basic builder-grade closet . . .

Photo courtesy of Reality Daydream

identified all the unused spaces, and then created custom DIY shelving that uses every possible area.   “After” photos and the tutorial can be found here.

4. Areas Behind Doors

Taking the door swing into account, my husband Chris created this shallow, L-shaped shelf to fit in the small space behind our laundry room door.  Here we stash cleaning tools and supplies, an iron and an ironing board.

And this hard-working little space doesn’t feel cluttered.  This area is part of our recent laundry room remodel.

5. Recessed Dressers and Cabinets

Our house is what is called a “one-and-a-half story house.”  That is because some of the upstairs portion of our house is finished, livable space, while other parts are unfinished attic space.

Since we have little doors that lead to those unfinished spaces, I store things there. But it’s awkward creeping around in these dark, low-ceilinged areas, and I usually bump my head or get scratched by an exposed nail.

That’s why I so admire Sarah’s recessed dresser.  She’s using space in the unfinished attic to store things, yet she can access those items from her bedroom.

Of course you really have to know what you’re doing to work around wall studs, wiring, or other things that might be hidden in the wall.

Photo courtesy of Simply Sarahdipity

Another advantage to this recessed dresser is that it takes up zero floor space in the bedroom.

How I love saying that.  Zero floor space.  Now I have all sorts of ideas for similar projects at our house.

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

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Simple DIY Toddler Dress-Up Outfits

Happy New Year!  It’s January, so we really should leave the holiday glitz behind and get busy organizing our closets, our cupboards, and our lives.

Or . . . we can start the New Year on a lighter note.  Want to see the silly little dress-up outfits that I made for my niece?  Sure you do.

Learning By Dressing

I was happily surprised when “dress-up items” appeared on the list of things my niece would enjoy for Christmas.  Even though she is a small toddler, apparently she likes to experiment with outfits and jewelry.  But at her age, she’s not trying to look like a princess.  She’s just using dress-up activities as a learning game.

So I thought it would be fun to pull a few things together for her.  But the ready-made dress-up costumes that I found – ones that were within my budget anyway – all had three issues:  They weren’t available in her tiny size, they looked cheaply made, and they looked stiff and uncomfortable.

So I decided to make her some dress-up outfits.  My sewing skills are pretty much limited to straight seams, so these little outfits would have to be simple.

Not Reinventing the Wheel

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

I intended to sew a few tutus, but then I came across some lovely tutus in her size at Macy’s.  They were on sale, plus I had a coupon.  Sewing my own would have been more costly than buying them.

One of the tutus from Macy’s

The inside linings are very soft, so these tutus seem comfortable to wear and easy to pull up over leggings or even pants.

I bought two and added my own embellishments.  Using pom pom trim and torn strips of batik fabric (both left over from previous projects), I gave one tutu a colorful, zany look.  I added tulle flower trim to the other one for a classic ballerina look.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Tutus

I found a simple white sweater at a thrift store.  It looked almost new, and perhaps had never been worn at all.

Child's sweater from thrift shop

Such a cute little sweater.  I almost felt bad about what I had planned for it.

I washed it and added zany embellishments that complement the colorful tutu.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Embellished sweater

The strips of gathered tulle fabric sewn over the sleeves resemble little wings – or a cape.  She can use her imagination.

Reinventing the Wheel – Badly

I wanted to make a lined velvet cape to go with the ballerina tutu.  I don’t have much patience for following sewing patterns, so I thought it would be faster if I just cut fabric into a big circle and then chopped away at the circle until I had the form I wanted.

But was I ever wrong.  I almost gave up several times because the slippery, stretchy, velvety fabric I used was so hard to work with.  The cape, while cute at first glance, is definitely not my best sewing effort.


But oh well, it’s just for playing dress-up.

Felt Headbands

My niece visited us early in December, and I waited until she stopped running around for a moment to quickly measured the circumference of her head.

I used interfacing to create a basic headband form.

The pin was removed after the form was correctly sized and sewn together.

I made two of these forms.  Then I covered each one with felt fabric and embellishments to make comfortable but (hopefully) durable headbands.

One is colorful and wacky, the other classic with the same pink tulle flowers used on the ballerina tutu.

Jewelry and Pouches

I bought a couple of inexpensive children’s necklaces and sewed a simple pouch to hold each necklace.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Purchased necklaces with home made pouches

Vintage Gloves

My niece has lots of shoes, but I knew she needed gloves.  No dress-up ensemble is complete without them.

I purchased a little stack of vintage children’s gloves for a very reasonable price from a vendor on 

Vintage gloves from Etsy vendor

While not in perfect condition, they looked and smelled fresh upon arrival.  Even so, I soaked and hand washed them in mild soap and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.

The sizes varied.  I added the pair that she can wear now to her dress-up items.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Vintage gloves

The Box

A few years ago, a friend gave me a collection of postcards featuring the charming Flower Fairies illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker.  The illustrations were done between 1923 and 1948 and, although I missed the mark, they were my inspiration for the costumes.

So I glued a few of the postcards to the gift box that would hold her outfits.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Inspiration for

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Dress up box

At this point, my niece is probably still rummaging through her Christmas gifts, so it could be a while before she turns her attention to these costumes.  But if she has half as much fun playing with them as I had putting them together, I will be happy.

This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial. Please consider all appropriate child safety issues before taking on similar projects.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #5

Sweet and Simple Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas

Welcome to the December edition of Second Tuesday Art Walk.  I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season.

About a week ago, I had my first gift exchange with a small group of friends.  I’d shopped early for their gifts, knowing that I would have tons of time to wrap them.  Unlike previous years, this time I would make sure that each friend received an amazing, festively wrapped package – a package so stunning that she would not even want to unwrap it.

At least that was the plan.

Of course that didn’t happen because I waited until about 20 minutes before I had to leave the house to start wrapping.  Having tons of time just meant I could procrastinate longer.

So for me, simple gift wrap ideas are always the best.  But simple can be beautiful.  Today I’m sharing a few fun and surprisingly easy gift wrap ideas.

Car and Tree Cuteness

Heather at Growing Spaces  shows us how to make a car and tree package sure to bring out the kid in all of us.

Photo courtesy of Growing Spaces

Ruffle Yarn Ribbon

A few years ago, I used ruffle yarn as ribbon – with fun results.

Easy holiday gift wrap using ruffle yarn

Easy to find at craft stores, ruffle yarn is nice to work with because it can be pulled apart for a lace-like look, and it usually contains tiny sequins for a subtle holiday glimmer.

DIY Scandinavian-Inspired Gift Wrap

White wrapping paper and a sharpie – what could be easier?  Andrea at shows us how easy it is to get that clean, minimalist Scandinavian look.  And she also offers us free printable gift tags to complete the look.

Photo courtesy of

Paper Doilies

Last year I became obsessed with old-fashioned paper doilies.

Easy holiday gift wrap using doilies

I mostly used them with plain craft paper, but sometimes with fancier paper.  They were easy to attach using a glue stick.

Holiday wrap using paper doilies


And I found they were more interesting offset on the package rather than centered.

DIY Gift Bag From Wrapping Paper

Some gifts just don’t fit in a box.  And I don’t usually realize that until the last minute.  Luckily Tasha at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body has a simple tutorial for creating a gift bag from wrapping paper.

Photo courtesy of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

DIY Paper Tassels

Tassels are hot this year.  And Debra at Vintage Paper Parade shares an easy way to make them.

Photo courtesy of Vintage Paper Parade

Fabric Strips

One year I used torn strips of muslin fabric, left over from a sewing project, instead of ribbons and bows.  The result was a soft, old-world look.

Easy holiday gift wrap using torn fabric


Happy Holidays Dear Friends!

I’m putting this blog down for her long winter’s nap, but we will pick things up again in January.  Until then, I wish you and yours every happiness that the holidays bring.

Happy Holidays!



Posts on this website are for entertainment only.


Holiday Reading

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