How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

This summer, the garden has been our go-to safe place for visiting with family and friends – and it has become a quiet oasis from the cares of the world.  I’m sure that many people are appreciating their gardens now more than ever, so today I’m pleased to share this guest post with helpful hints on transforming your garden into an enjoyable outdoor space.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

There’s nothing like spending an afternoon in the garden when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. If you’re looking to make the most of your outdoor space, and you need a little help or inspiration to turn your garden into a tranquil oasis, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips and tricks to create your own slice of paradise. 

Clearing Up And Basic Maintenance

Before you can start reaping the rewards of a stunning, serene garden, it’s essential to tackle the jobs we tend to put off. If you leave your garden for days or weeks without tending to flower beds or clearing away debris, it can quickly become messy and unkempt. Try to keep on top of tasks like getting rid of leaves and weeding, as this will save you time and effort in the long-run. If you’re starting out on a new and improved garden project, the first step is to arm yourself with a trowel, a rake and some trash bags and clear up. Once you’ve tidied up your garden, it will be a lot easier to keep it looking smart, and you’ll also be able to visualize ideas and design concepts. 

Getting Rid of Unwanted Visitors

Nothing spoils a restful day in the garden like unwanted visitors in the form of garden pests. They can be a problem for homeowners and keen gardeners, and it’s always wise to take action swiftly if you do spot signs of an infestation, or you’re worried that you might have attracted hungry passers-by. Look for signs both inside and outside of the property, and seek advice if you’re worried about bees, wasps, flies, rats, mice, cockroaches or mosquitoes. Pest experts like Mosquito Authority can provide treatments to combat existing problems, as well as offering advice to help you prevent issues in the future. Once your garden is pest-free, you can enjoy the peace and quiet with no unexpected interruptions. 

Seating And Chill-Out Zones

Whether you enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a busy day at work, or you try to spend as much time in the outdoors as possible, it’s always beneficial to have a comfortable spot to take in the views and unwind. There are myriad seating options to choose from for your garden, and you can buy products based on your style and taste, your budget and the amount of space you have available. If you have an entertaining area, or you have a patio or a deck, you could browse sofa sets or invest in a table and chairs. If you’re after something a little more casual or informal, you can create a chill-out zone with beanbags, oversized floor cushions, blankets, throws and lanterns.

You could also use benches and picnic tables to channel a rustic vibe, scatter sun loungers around a pool for a resort-style aesthetic or hang hammocks between trees for an exotic feel. If you have children or grandchildren, it’s a good idea to section off parts of the garden so that you have spaces for fun and games as well as adult-friendly zones where you can embrace the serenity. 

Plants And Flowers

Plants and flowers can have an incredible impact on the aesthetic of your garden, but they also play an instrumental role in promoting calm and helping you to feel relaxed. Some scents and aromas are known to soothe, while others can make you feel more positive and energized. Choose scents that you love and think about how you want to feel when you’re sitting out in the garden or kicking back in your hammock or swing seat after a busy day. Lavender and chamomile have a calming influence, peppermint can help to lower stress levels and yarrow can ease anxiety. 

Water Features

Water features can provide a stunning focal point in any garden, but they’re also renowned for their calming impact. The sound of running water tends to make us feel more relaxed, and it can be satisfying to sit or lie in the garden listening to water splashing or trickling.

There are all kinds of options available, and you don’t need to have a huge garden to install a water feature. You can choose anything from ponds and waterfalls to classic, decorative fountains and ultra-modern wall-mounted or freestanding water features. You can make a statement in a compact yard, a family-friendly space or a sprawling country garden. 

Lighting

Outdoor lighting enables us to spend evenings outside and enjoy al fresco dining, but it also creates a lovely, romantic, relaxing atmosphere. Depending on the style of your garden, you can use up-lighters, wall lights, string lights, lanterns and sunken lightning for decking and walkways to illuminate the space and create a cozy, intimate feel. 

Privacy

If you don’t live in a rural area, you might have concerns about your neighbors or passers-by being able to see into your garden. If you would like your outdoor space to be more private, there are solutions. You can look into installing fencing or planting trees, or you could put screens up to create private areas where you can sit back and soak up the tranquility. Bamboo and reed screens are very popular, as they are inexpensive, they have a lovely, natural aesthetic, and they are versatile. If you have a hot tub, or you’d like to be able to sunbathe without worrying about anyone else seeing you, it’s worth looking at gazebos and awnings.

Do you long to enjoy blissfully peaceful afternoons or evenings in the garden? If so, it is possible to turn your yard into an outdoor oasis. Start by clearing up and tidying and getting rid of pests. Once these jobs are completed, you can focus on enhancing the beauty of your garden and creating a relaxing, soothing atmosphere. Search for plants and flowers that have a calming effect, set aside comfortable, cozy areas to sit or lie down, use water features to create a focal point and aid relaxation, opt for soft, romantic lighting and use screens, trees, bushes and fencing to add privacy.

 

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

 

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A DIY All-Natural, Guilt-Free Fall Wreath

Fall is just around the corner, and if you have a garden you know what that means:  Fall garden cleanup!   But why not make it fun?  Today I’m sharing an amazingly simple wreath that I made last year using garden clippings that would otherwise have gone into the compost bin.

The wreath didn’t cost anything to make.  I also didn’t need to use wires, cages, or any other man-made materials so, once the season was over, the entire wreath could be composted.

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Creating The Wreath

I’d been meaning to get rid of an overly-ambitious grape plant that I’d placed along a fence.  The fence was not enough structure for the rambling beast to climb on, so I needed to prune the beast back several times every summer.

But then I saw some beautiful DIY grapevine wreaths on Instagram.  Since I had plenty of grapevines, I decided to try making my own.

And it was so simple.

 

Start With Green Vines

I used freshly cut vines that were still green and pliable.

After removing the larger leaves from the vines, I started by wrapping two vines around each other.

And then carefully forming them into the shape of the wreath.  I just kind of wove the ends around each other and tucked them in to secure them.

Then I wrapped in more vines, one by one, making sure to wrap them around any loose ends that needed to be secured so that the wreath wouldn’t unravel.  To make sure they didn’t snap, I tried not to force the vines or wrap them too tightly.

They were fun to work with.  The tendrils gave the wreath a lot of personality.

 

 

I made two of these basic wreath forms and gave one to a friend.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I put the second one in my greenhouse for a few days until it dried.

What if I didn’t have grapevines to work with?  I’ve been meaning to experiment with other safe, non-toxic green, flexible vines and twigs.  This year I’m going to try making a wreath with the long branches of my butterfly bush – while they are still green and pliable of course.

Add Accent Foliage

The wreath form had dried to a mellow brown color and was very solid.

By then it was time to prune my hydrangeas, so I cut several hydrangea flowers on long green stems and wound those stems through the gravevine wreath – again using no wires.

The photo below shows the back of the wreath, and you can see the green hydrangea stems winding through the wreath.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I shook the wreath a few times to make sure everything was secure.

I hung the wreath on the door, and the hydrangeas gradually dried on their own.  I’m not sure if every variety of hydrangea would dry so nicely, but I was lucky with this one.

 

The Result

The wreath looked nice and fresh for weeks.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

 

DIY Grapevine wreaths

Turns out that stupid grape plant has value after all.  So it gets to stay.

 

A Holiday Wreath

I could have simply tossed the wreath into the compost bin once the season changed.  But it was still pretty solid.  I was feeling too lazy to create a holiday wreath from scratch, so I just removed the hydrangeas and re-decorated it for Christmas.

For the holiday version, I used Deodar cedar twigs that I’d found on a walk. The long, flexible twigs worked well to wind around the grapevines.

DIY holiday wreaths

 

But I cheated this time and added wired pine cone springs (which helped secure the cedar sprigs) and a few other man-made materials that I already had on hand.

Not the best Christmas wreath I’ve ever made, but I went with it anyway.

DIY holiday wreaths

You can’t really see the grapevines, but they are under there!

Wreaths are so fun and easy to make.  If you love experimenting with them, check out some of my other wreaths – like my hoppy harvest wreath, my foraged wreath, and the wreath that the storm blew in.

 

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
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A DIY Old-World Concrete Garden Trough

I love anything that has an “old-world” look, and I’ve always admired the ancient-looking concrete water troughs that I’ve seen around Europe.  Many of them have been converted into garden art or planters that grace the gardens and town squares of quaint villages.

But, around here, concrete troughs usually have three significant disadvantages:  They are hard to find, they’re expensive, and they are very heavy.

So today, I’m sharing how I recently made my very own “old-world,” lightweight(ish) concrete trough.

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Starting With A Styrofoam Box

This project is not my brainchild.  I found the method years ago in a magazine – most likely Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living.

What I loved about it was that these concrete-wrapped Styrofoam planters were lighter than similar planters made entirely out of concrete.  And it seemed like a great way to repurpose a Styrofoam container.

Back when I first came across the magazine article, I tried the method using a small rectangular Styrofoam box.  After many years, that smaller concrete planter is still holding up very well (although it’s actually too small to be of any practical use and has been relegated to the no-man’s-land behind the garage).

For this recent project, though, I used a much larger Styrofoam shipping box that had been taking up space in our basement for some time.  I’d been saving it because, measuring at 32″ X 13″ X 10″, it was just the right size to serve as the inner core for a small concrete trough.

But it was significantly larger than any of the examples I remembered seeing in the magazine article.

Would the method from the magazine work on such a large piece of Styrofoam?  I was going to find out.

The first step was to clean my Styrofoam container and pull off the strips of tape stuck to it.

Making Drain Holes

Since this cement trough would be used as a planter, I needed to put a couple of drain holes in the bottom.

Wrapping the Styrofoam Box With Wire Mesh

The next part was the hardest and most unpleasant part:  Wrapping the Styrofoam box with wire mesh.

I used galvanized, 23-gauge wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) with 1/4 inch squares, similar to this product.

Galvanized wire mesh

Wearing heavy work gloves and long sleeves, I cut it to the sizes I needed with tin snips,

And then formed it as tightly as I could against the box, at times pounding it lightly into place with a rubber mallet,

And sometimes using a little wire to loop through and hold two adjoining sections together.

I did my best to make sure that any sharp edges were pointing inward.  I covered the entire box with wire mesh, lining the inside walls with it as well.

This all took a lot of time and, despite all my precautions, the wire did bite me a few times.

 

Covering The Wire Mesh With Concrete

I don’t remember exactly which concrete mix the magazine article recommended.  I chose to use Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix.  It’s actually meant to be used as a base for laying pavers or patching steps and walkways.  What I like about is that, when mixed with water, it has a smooth consistency.  It is for projects that will be under two inches (but not less than a half-inch) thick.  (For projects under one inch thick, it’s recommended to replace some of the mixing water with Quikrete Concrete Acrylic Fortifier.)

Wearing gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask, I just mixed small batches by hand (more on that below).

I wanted the trough to have a bit of an old-world patina, so I stirred a few drops of the Charcoal Quikrete Liquid Cement Color into the water that I used to mix the concrete.

The mixture looked darker when it was moist.

I applied it to the Styrofoam box with a trowel, making sure to press it firmly through the wire mesh and then cover the mesh completely.  I smoothed it as much as I could with the trowel.

Then I used a small whisk broom to level the concrete.

I followed that up by smoothing the concrete with a large drywall knife (because it’s what I had on hand), and it worked well.

But I was not going for perfection.  I wanted it to look a little rustic and handmade.

So why did I need to work in small batches?  Because the topping mix that I used can only successfully be applied to horizontal surfaces.  So, I could only do two “sides” at a time:  Whichever two sides were sitting horizontally.  And then that needed to sit in place and dry before I could reposition the trough to work on two more sides.

Needless to say, this project took me a few days to complete although, once I had my stride, it was only about a half hour of active time each day.  I covered the entire box, inside and out, with concrete.

At times, the project got messy and seemed to be spiraling out of control.

The bottom of the trough after cement was applied.

I was wondering if it would even hold up.

But it all worked out in the end.

 

The Result – And A Problem Solved

This new “old-world” trough helped me get a handle on the long-neglected herb container garden behind my greenhouse.

Before: The chaos of my old herb garden.

Many of the herbs had outgrown their containers or weren’t getting sufficient water.  I moved the larger herbs out of pots and planted them elsewhere in the garden. Then I cleaned up with area a little, and my husband Chris and I leveled a new spot for the trough.

And then Chris moved the trough into the area we’d prepared.  He was able to pick up and carry the trough to its new location by himself.  Had it been a solid concrete trough, there is no way he could have done that.

Once in place, we found we still needed to do a little work to the area.  I was able to tip the trough on its end to get it out of the way and then muscle it back into place by myself.

It’s not super lightweight, but it is lighter than it looks.

 

DIY concrete garden trough

My cement work is not perfect, and the color isn’t completely consistent.  But, to me, these quirks give it a bit of character.  I am hoping that it develops even more of an old-world patina over time.

DIY concrete garden trough
After: A little order in the herb garden.

 

DIY Concrete garden trough

 

Different herbs need different soil conditions and moisture.  The herbs I chose for the trough all do well in rich, moist soil.

DIY concrete garden trough

From left to right, the herbs I planted are:  Chives, tarragon, cilantro, Thai basil, and Italian parsley.

How long will this trough hold up?  Only time will tell.  I will count myself lucky if it lasts as long as the first, much smaller piece that I made using this technique.

The good news is that (although I would not advise trying this) just yesterday Chris briefly stood on the rim of the trough to reach something on the top of the greenhouse.

And the trough held up!

 

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:

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A Burlap Coffee Sack Repurpose

My previous post, called “Survival Sewing,” featured DIY cloth face masks and a DIY paper towel alternative.  But in today’s feature, I’m sharing a survival sewing project of a different kind:  One that lifted my spirits during these strange times.

On a recent sunny day, I took a socially-distanced walk around the neighborhood, and I noticed something:  People sitting in their front yards, on their front porches or stoops, in their driveways, or even on parking curbs.  Instead of enjoying the privacy of their back yards, they were sitting anywhere they could see other people – and be seen by them.

I’ve never appreciated my front porch more than I do right now.  But the cushion cover on our bench needed to be replaced.  So, I decided to sew a new cushion cover using something that would remind me of travel – specifically Hawaii:  A burlap coffee sack that we’d purchased at a coffee plantation on The Big Island.

Burlap coffee sack

 

 

 

Transforming a Burlap Coffee Sack Into a Bench Seat Cushion Cover

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Here it’s important to mention that the sack was brand new and had never been used to store coffee beans.  Had it been a used sack, I would have needed to wash it first.

I would like to say that the burlap sack measured at exactly the right dimensions and I could just slip the cushion into it and be done.  But of course that was not the case.

I needed a plan.

Fitting the Coffee Sack to the Bench Cushion

I ripped out the seams of the sack until it was one flat piece of fabric.

burlap coffee sack repurpose

I love the graphic on this piece, and I cut the fabric so that the portion with the graphic could center perfectly on the cushion.

Then I cut another piece measuring the same size for the bottom of the cushion.

These pieces would, when sewn together, be wide enough to wrap around the cushion.  But they were too short to cover the entire length.

A Simple Solution

For me, simple is always best.  So I decided to sew a new cushion cover with a nice outdoor fabric.  Then I would sew the sides of the burlap sack together, leaving the ends unsewn, and just slip it over the new cushion cover like a sleeve.

I could leave the ends of the burlap sack unsewn because it had lovely selvaged edges that were showing no signs of wanting to unravel.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap sack selvage edge

 

For the cushion cover, I would use this beautiful Sunbrella fabric that would coordinate nicely, both in color and in texture, with the burlap sack.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap coffee sack with Sunbrella outdoor fabric

Off to the sewing room this all went.  I made a cushion cover with the Sunbrella fabric and then a simple slip cover with the coffee sack.

 

The Result

It worked!

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I paired it with a throw pillow that I’d found at an outdoor market in Hawaii.

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I was going for a look that said “staycation” rather than “shelter in place.”  For a different look, perhaps during the holidays, I can use the red Sunbrella cushion cover without the coffee sack.

But for now, I’m enjoying this little bit of Hawaii on our front porch.

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

 

We also hung a string of chili pepper lights as a little socially-distanced “hello” to neighbors.

 

For some added entertainment while sitting on the porch, we hung a little house that contains nesting material to attract birds.

Nesting material house

 

And next to our front door, a Himalayan maidenhair fern is thriving.  It was so tiny when I bought it last summer.

Himalayan maidenhair fern with cyclamen and primrose.

 

We humans might be experiencing a pandemic, but nature still goes on.

Burlap Coffee Sacks As Art and Textile

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  My Mom gave me some used coffee sacks that she bought at a nursery, and I can’t wait to wash them and start using them for crafts.

A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.

 

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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Cute DIY Moss Pouches

No special skills are required to make these cute and natural-looking moss pouches.  And the fun thing about this project is that it is not an exact science.  If something ends up crooked or a little lopsided, it just adds to the natural look.

But if someone is looking for perfection, this may not be the right project.  When the plant is watered, the bottom of the moss pouch gets soggy – and a bit of the soil residue can even leach out.  For that reason, these moss pouches should be kept on a saucer.

Making the Pouch

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I started with a 12 X 7 piece of sheet moss (specifically, Instant Green Supermoss) and a similarly sized piece of light-duty landscape fabric.

I removed the paper backing from the sheet moss to expose the grid.

And I placed the landscape fabric over the grid where the paper backing had been.

Then I folded the moss and fabric in half so that the moss was on the inside and the landscape fabric was on the outside.  Then I pinned the sides together.

On the bottom part, where the fold was, I cut each corner at a 45-degree angle.

Then it was time to stitch.  This project was messy, with little bits of moss coming off of the sheet.  So there was no way I was going to put this into my lovely little sewing machine.  I would stitch it by hand.

Because the grid that the moss is adhered to is somewhat loosely spaced, there wasn’t much for a thread to hold on to.  So I needed to use a fairly thick thread.  I used embroidery floss (in a mossy color) and a large needle.

And I found out the hard way that, for the stitches to hold, I would need to tie big, secure knots at the beginning and end of every run of stitches.  I double- and triple-knotted everything.

With this in mind, I simply stitched up the right and left sides of the pouch and left the top un-stitched.

At this point, it looked a little like a pocket.

Now it was time to turn it right-side-out.  Because the moss tended to shed from the sheet when disturbed, this had to be done very carefully.

Now I had a moss pouch with a landscape fabric inner lining.  It was not yet ready to stand on its own, but I had a solution.

I folded the top of the pouch (approximately an inch of it) inwards all around the opening.

And then I stitched four evenly-spaced pleats into the top.

 

Simple inward-facing pleats in four locations

This was to make sure the top would stay folded inward, and it would make the pouch more likely to stand on its own.  It also gave the pouch a cute little inward curve at the top – while still providing room to place the plant and soil inside.

I coaxed and manipulated the bottom of the pouch a bit, and it was almost standing on its own – but not quite.

So I tried the simplest thing I could think of:  I placed a generous handful of decorative pebbles inside.  This weighted the bottom of the pouch enough to solve the problem.

Then I just carefully packed in some pre-moistened potting soil mix and planted a cute little Himalayan maidenhair fern and few birch twigs.  All done!

DIY moss pouch planted with a Himalayan maidenhair fern

 

At this point, with the added pre-moistened soil, the pouch was fairly stout and heavy – and it was standing on its own very well.  Still, I probably wouldn’t trust having it around rambunctious kids or pets.  Nor would I plant it with a large, top-heavy plant.

Now, it’s worth mentioning again this these moss pouches are not watertight.  When the plant is watered, the bottom leaks, so I placed them on a saucer.

 

 

I’d made several attempts at these pouches before I came up with this simple design.  So I put my earlier prototypes to good use.

I used one of them as a vase wrap:  I placed a little spike frog inside a baby food jar, added water, and placed it inside the moss pouch.  Then I added tiny cut daffodils and some twigs.

And this all went into a cute little cage I’d found recently at a thrift store.

DIY moss pouch in a decorative cage

 

The Result

I love how unstructured and natural these moss pouches look.  It’s fun to combine them with a few home decor pieces for an interesting mix of nature and refinement.

 

They will be nice for St. Patrick’s Day and then they’ll make an easy transition into Easter decor.

My smallest DIY moss pouch holds a Lemon cypress cutting and sits in a vintage dessert bowl

 

 

 

DIY moss pouch planted with a small cyclamen

 

They would also be cute as gifts or to use in the garden.

 

With the right plants and decor, I could see these moss pouches looking good in just about any season.

But how long will they hold up and actually look good? That I don’t know yet, but we will see.  One reader suggests misting the sheet moss daily to keep it green.  That makes sense and is certainly worth a try!

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
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Easy-Peasy Tulips In A Champagne Bucket

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my elevated tulips floral arrangement from last year.

Tulips arranged on a cake stand

It sat on a cake stand and actually looked a little like a cake.

I love working with tulips when they are in season because they are so beautiful and affordable.  Recently, I stumbled upon a 24-stem bunch at Trader Joe’s.

So many tulips!  I decided to fill my champagne bucket with some of them in an arrangement that uses many of the same materials as the elevated tulips arrangement did – but is even simpler to put together.

 

The Materials

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I use my thrift store champagne bucket for floral arrangements all the time.  Champagne buckets make any flower or stem look so elegant.  I grew paperwhites in mine this past Christmas.

The bucket is 10 inches tall – too tall for me to just plop the tulips into.  So I would need a shallow bowl with a flat bottom that was just the right diameter to fit inside the ice bucket – near the top.  Luckily I had one.

I also needed a few decorative stones, some spike flower frogs, and my live Spanish moss.

Materials for easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

 

The Method

I put the decorative stones in the bottom of the champagne bucket to weigh it down.  Now the arrangement wouldn’t be top heavy.

Then I the cut the tulips to the length I wanted them and put them on a few spike flower frogs.  I used about 11 of the tulips in this arrangement.

tulips on spike flower frogs

I set the shallow bowl inside the bucket and filled it with water.

Making easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

And I carefully placed the flower frogs with tulips inside the shallow bowl.

making easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

Now I just needed to conceal the bowl.  I used my live Spanish moss to give the arrangement a cute “scarf.” Live Spanish moss is an air plant, and it should appreciate the evaporated water that will come up from the shallow bowl.

Dry Spanish moss would probably also have worked for this arrangement.

champagne bucket centerpiece

All done!

The Result

Since tulips keep growing after they are cut, my arrangement got a bit leggy after a few days.

But actually that gave it a dramatic flair.

champagne bucket centerpiece

More Easy-Peasy Stuff

Recently we hosted a little birthday dinner for my mom, Erika. So, I needed a centerpiece, a cake, and a gift.  I wanted to get all fancy, but my inner voice kept warning me to “Keep it simple.”

The Centerpiece

This vintage fan vase makes arranging flowers so easy.

tulips in a vintage fan vase

There are so many fun vintage fan vases out there.  I am always tempted to add more to my vase collection.

The Cake

I made this super-easy fruit-topped almond cake.  It didn’t quite turn out looking like the photo in the recipe, but it was close.

fruit-topped almond cake

Next time I’ll use an 8-inch cake tin instead of a 9-inch so that the cake is taller.

 

The Gift

I wanted to give Mom an exotic plant to grow in her sunroom.  I was fascinated with the tree ferns I saw on our recent trip to Hawaii, but I could not find any locally.

Luckily I found a young Tasmanian Tree Fern Dicksonia antarctica at SevenTropical on Etsy.  It was surprisingly affordable, it arrived quickly, and it was a healthy plant.

And I found a hand-painted Farval overpot for it.

A young Tasmanian Tree Fern (Tasmanian Tree Fern Dicksonia antarctica) in a Farval overpot

I only wish the plant had come with care instructions.  (And maybe it did and I overlooked them.)  But that is easy to Google.

 

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:

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5 Ways To Bring the Tropics Into Home Decor

Rain, rain, rain. Around here, this is a gloomy time of the year.  The holidays have passed, and the days are short, gray, and soggy.  But my husband and I were very lucky to escape to Hawaii for much of January. 

And I came back with my head filled with the colors of the tropics,

A hibiscus in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

 

The lush, exuberant plants that seem almost unreal,

An island in Lily Pond, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii

 

And all those rich natural textures.

Canoe hut at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii

 

It was raining when we left for Hawaii, and it’s pretty much been raining since we got back. So I’m looking at ways to bring some of that tropical cheer into our home. 

Of course, many of us are already bringing the tropics into our homes simply by having tropical house plants.

Tropical plants and succulents share space in Erika’s sunroom

 

But there are many other ways to infuse the tropics into home decor. It all begins with . . . 

Striking the Right Balance

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Tropical décor does have a potential downside:  It’s all too easy to go overboard and wind up with something that looks overdone and a bit cliché – especially for the winter months.  The last thing I want is a living room with a “tacky tourist” look.

But if done right, it can be elegant, timeless, and airy.  Here are five things to consider when bringing the tropics into home décor.

1.  Choose a Limited Color Palette

Limiting the color palette can keep a tropical look tasteful. 

A tropical pattern adds playfulness to the classic blue-and-white color scheme of this tablecloth from The Roostery.

 

And it’s hard to go wrong with green and white.  I love this tropical leaf linen table runner from Mezalova Textile.

 

Using a limited color palette also helps when you want to go bigger and bolder, as with this Tropical  Leaves peel-and-stick wallpaper from DecoWorks.

Keeping the room’s accessories and colors to a minimum, as done here, helps balance the strong wall pattern.

2.  Use More Texture And Less Color

With the right accessories, rattan has the ability to blend into almost any décor.  I love all the texture in this room – and the luxurious, monochromatic look of the accessories on this rattan daybed  from The Wicked Boheme.

3.  Use Classic or Vintage-Inspired Botanical Prints

Vintage botanical prints always make me think of adventure, romance, and far-away places. I love the classic look of this Vintage Schumacher fabric from Melba Fabrics.

4.  Give Traditional Furniture a Tropical Update

Giving one well-chosen piece of accent furniture a tropical makeover can elevate a room.  A lovely example is this traditional armchair, which has been covered with this tropical palms/monkey cotton fabric from Exquisite Fabrics 2015.

5.  Feed the Senses

 Scented candles, like this plumeria candle from Olive Branch Organics, can also fill a room with a delicious tropical vibe. 

 

And so can tropical island music.

And then it won’t matter if it’s still raining outside.

 

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

Featured image courtesy of The Wicked Boheme.

 

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 Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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Organizing My New Dressing Room

Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to a new decade.  I  can’t believe we’ve entered the 2020’s!

Thanks to having participated in the One Room Challenge last fall, a six-week challenge during which Chris and I completely remodeled my little dressing room, I can at least say that I’m starting this new decade with a neatly organized wardrobe.

And while I certainly can’t claim to be an organizing guru, I did pick up a little inspiration from tidying expert Marie Kondo.  My takeaway:  Think vertical.  So here, I’m sharing some of the simple ways I organized my clothes and jewelry as I moved them back into my newly revamped dressing room.

 

Starting with A Clean Slate

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Before I started organizing, I donated all of my clothes to charity, and then I went out and bought a brand new wardrobe to go with my new dressing room!

Wait, no.  That was just a dream.

Actually, when the dressing room remodel was in its final stages, I began to do laundry – lots of it.  Although most of my clothes were already clean, I washed every piece that was going back into that room.  I just wanted everything to be fresh.

This process helped me take stock of exactly what I had in my wardrobe.

I lined the dresser drawers with a cheerful retro floral shelf paper.

And I tossed a charcoal air freshener into each drawer.

Then it was finally time to start organizing.

 

Ombre Denim

We put a lot of thought, but not a lot of money, into this dressing room remodel.  I love the south wall “built-ins” that we created by combining two salvage-shop kitchen cabinets and an old dresser.

Dressing room remodel

These new built-ins are intended to look original to our 1920’s house.  They frame a small window and work well with the sloped ceiling.

I was looking forward to using this upper cabinet for purses.

Vertical walk in closet storage

But then I realized it was suited to a more practical use: Denim.  I have way too many pairs of jeans, but I wear them all.

organizing jeans

In my new vertical cabinet, the jeans are stacked on top of one another.  But, unlike being stacked in a dresser drawer, they are all visible.  And they are organized by color and saturation.

organizing jeans

I fold them so that the pockets are always on top.  Since many brands of jeans have distinctive pocket stitching, I can quickly find the pair I want to wear.

 

Vertical Sweaters and T-Shirts

My sweaters and T-shirts are folded and placed neatly into drawers in the large wardrobe on the north wall.

But they are positioned vertically, as Marie Kondo suggests.  So, just like with my jeans, I can quickly see what I have.  Now nothing gets buried and forgotten.

organizing shirts

I use a charcoal air freshener as a spacer when I remove a shirt.  This keeps the other shirts neatly in place.

A charcoal air freshener, used as a spacer, keeps the vertically positioned shirts in place when one is removed.

I use expandable drawer dividers to define separate spaces for long-sleeve T-shirts, short-sleeve T-shirts, and tank tops – and for creating zones inside of drawers for things like purses and scarves.

Drawer organization

Velvet Hangers

I love the look of vintage wooden clothes hangers, and I use them on the open clothing rod on the north wall.  After all, I want this room to make me happy – not just be functional.  I love the look of this rustic pipe rod with the vintage hangers.

Vintage inspired clothing rod

But, in the enclosed hanging space inside the large wardrobe, I use space-saving velvet hangers similar to these.  I was a little skeptical about them at first, but to me it seems that they really do save space.

The velvet makes them grippy (sometimes almost too grippy), so clothes don’t slide off.

clothes on velvet hangers

And I love that these clothes are in an enclosed wardrobe.

wardrobe

I wanted a lot of enclosed storage in the dressing room because, before, the room always looked cluttered.  And all that clutter tended to gather dust.

Vertical Necklace Storage

Another enclosed storage area is this little vintage cabinet that we retrofitted into the northeast corner.

Vintage leaded glass cabinet

In it, Chris installed dozens of hooks for hanging necklaces.

organizing necklaces

Now, necklaces don’t get tangled, and it’s easy to see what I have. The shelf is also a good spot for the earring organizer I made a few years ago when I was going through my vintage button obsession.

A Victorian-era butter dish, so rustic that it’s silver plate is wearing off, holds a couple of fun vintage treasures inside.

Victorian butter dish

 

Vintage pins
Vintage pins.

On the shelf below, stackable jewelry trays similar to these hold other pieces of jewelry.

stackable jewelry trays

I just love that this room feels more airy and spacious than it did before the remodel, even though it holds the same amount of stuff.

Now if only the rest of my house was this organized!

For more on my dressing room remodel, see my posts below.

 

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 Dressing Room Remodel

Dan’s Workshop

Decorating and Holidays

Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse

Floral Design

Garden Design

The June Bug Diaries

Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

Linking up with:

 

 

A DIY Lighted Holiday Sphere

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember the DIY hanging garden sphere that I shared this past spring.  I made it by clipping together two wire hanging basket cages.

Little did I know that the sphere would become a nursery for eight adorable baby juncos – two nests with four chicks each!

The baby juncos are long gone and, now that the holidays are upon us, these two hanging basket cages have a new job – this time as a lighted sphere for my front porch.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

You can pretty much see how I made it just by looking at the photo – except for that spiky white thing inside.

So what is that thing?

The Secret Ingredient

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It’s a huge allium seed head!  It bloomed purple over the summer and then dried to a soft straw color.

I photographed it in a child’s car seat to give you an idea of just how huge it is.

There are so many varieties of larger alliums, and I don’t remember exactly which one I planted.  But my educated guess is that it’s an Allium schubertii.

In early fall, when the blossom had gone to seed, I cut it and let it dry in my greenhouse.

Dressing Up The Allium Seed Head

I sprayed painted it with Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic in silver.  It looked okay, but it didn’t really pop.  So I sprayed over that with a light coat of Krylon Glitter Shimmer in opulent opal.  That gave it a little more of the holiday glam I was looking for.

Then I put the painted seed head inside the two hanging baskets and clipped the baskets together using the fastening clips from one of the hanging basket chains.

The allium seed head is now captive inside these two hanging basket cages, one of which is turned upside-down and set on top of the other. Then they are clipped together with, and suspended by, the hanging chain from one of the hanging baskets.

Getting the allium inside the sphere without damaging it was a bit of a challenge, but I just did my best.

 

Lighting the Sphere

I used a 20-foot length of indoor-outdoor, green-wired clear incandescent mini lights, but a safer option would probably have been LED mini lights since they don’t burn as hot.

I just secured the strand of lights with as many twist ties as was necessary, wrapping the strand around the outer circumference of the sphere several times and spacing the lights as evenly as I could.

I hung the sphere from a hook on the porch and voila – we now have a fun and budget-friendly addition to our outdoor Christmas lights.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

And it’s large enough to lend a chandelier-like elegance to the front porch.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

 

Of course, this sphere would look good even without the allium in the middle.  But since I had it, I thought it was a fun addition.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used allium seed heads in holiday decor.  A couple of years ago, I made a frozen allium forest for our vintage putz church.

Happy Holidays!

Except for possibly publishing a guest post or two, I’m putting this blog down for its annual “long winter’s nap.”

So I’m wishing you and your loved ones the very best of the holiday season, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the New Year!

 

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

 

 

 

Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

 

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