Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Yesterday, our oldest daughter was in need of our help. She had a hernia repaired a week ago and still can't pick anything up and she needed to go to the grocery. She has three sons, one of whom is a 22 month old which proves challenging in the "can't pick anything up" department. Her pick up limit is 10 pounds and grocery sacks for a family that size weigh more than 10 pounds, so it was Grandma and Pawpaw to the rescue. Afterward, we ran some errands and by the time we got home and had dinner, it was time to watch the Next Design Star on HGTV, therefore I didn't get my blog posted. Time sure can go by in a hurry. I don't watch much TV, but Next Food Network Star and Next Design Star are two of my "must watch" shows. Do you have some of those in your life?
Anyway, I wanted to continue my series on Americana decorations that I am using here at the little yellow cottage this summer. The picture above shows what I am using on the front of the house in honor of the Olympics and presidential election. I wanted something other than a wreath, so this is what I came up with. The star was one I have had for several years and it was a rusty red color.
I wanted to add USA underneath, so I purchased some mache' letters at JoAnn's for $2.99 each. I painted one barn red, one ivory, and one navy blue. The front of our house has cedar shake on it which can look rather dark under the porch roof even on a sunny day, so I decided I would put metal leaf on the edges of the letters to brighten them up and make them easier to see from the street.
Metal leaf comes in gold, silver, bronze, copper, and some variegated colors. I used the gold color. This is not to be confused with real gold leaf which is no less than 22 carat gold. Metal leaf comes in packages that you can buy at the craft store and you also need a bottle of Metal Leaf Adhesive Size to apply it. A package will cost around $8.00 and so will a bottle of the adhesive, but it goes a long, long way. There are 25 sheets to a package. Fortunately, I had this on hand also.
"What is Metal Leaf? Metal Leaf is a micro-thin sheet of metallic composition metal packaged and separated by pages of tissue paper. All through history in the world of decorative arts, gold leaf has played a very prominent roll. This same phenomena is just as true today as precious metals continue to exemplify quality and good taste. With inexpensive composition leaf, we are now able to afford that special look in home decor and personal accessories. Our new products and techniques make the leafing process fun and foolproof with satisfying results every time."
This is how the metal leaf looks in the package.
LOVE the way this looks on the front of the house. The metal leaf outline makes the letters pop from the street and this wall hanging can used for the rest of the summer.
If you have objects that you love in your decorative "stash" and don't really want to part with them, find a new life for them by using things like paint, metal leaf, or by rearranging objects from one room to another. It can save you lots of money and add new interest to your home. Or, you might consider trading things with friends or family for a new and different look. Paint and metal leaf can completely change the look of any piece of furniture or object and it doesn't cost nearly as much as replacing that object. You also have the satisfaction of saying "I did it myself." Crafts are a way of expressing yourself. Give it a try, you will be surprised what seeing with "new eyes" and a little work with your hands can do.
Things to Remember:
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I purchased 6 placemats for our table, 4 tea towels that would make 8 napkins and my ribbon. My investment was $13.00 total. Not bad for table decorations. I paid more than that for 4 red place mats, so count me happy.
When I got home, I had to decide how to decorate my place mats. I wanted something simple, not too fussy. We have white Pfaltzgraff Heritage dishes that we have had for 42 years that would be perfect with these colors and complement the Americana theme. I had a stencil with stars on it that I used to make my flag banner, so I decided I would cluster some of the stars on one side of the placemat and that would be all that was needed. All it took was some ivory acrylic craft paint that I already had, a stencil brush and a little time and the place mats were done.
I had just finished a roll of paper towels to clean up some paint brushes and I stood there looking at that cardboard roll, when I thought why not? I simply cut the cardboard along the glue marks where the first towel is attached to the cardboard. The are evenly spaced and I got 7 pieces of cardboard. I used a piece the same size from an empty toilet paper roll and I had 8 potential napkin rings. Cost? Zip, zero, nada. Yes!
I simply cut a 12 inch piece of ribbon and used a hot glue gun to run a bead of glue on the inside of the tube near the top edge.
Fold your napkins however you want and slide your napkin ring down over the napkin. How easy is that? You now have place mats, napkins and rings for six place settings. Napkins will normally cost $2.99 each even in discount stores, so 50 cents per napkin is a great bargain. If you don't sew, you can use stitch witchery or fabric glue to finish your napkins. A little paint, ribbon and hot glue will finish the napkin rings and place mats. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy and the cost can't be beat!
Things to Remember:
“Life is the greatest bargain - we get it for nothing." Yiddish Proverb
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Since this is an Olympic year (and who doesn't love the Olympics), and also a national election year, I decided to go Americana in my summer accessories. Last summer I went with a beach look, lots of shells and aqua blues and that look makes me happy. But this year, I wanted to celebrate the summer Olympics. Of course, this weekend is Memorial Day, then there is Flag Day and the Fourth of July coming up - so red, white and blue it is!
I like muted colors so I used a barn red fabric, ivory and navy blue for the banner I made for our fireplace. I stitched some of the red and ivory together in 2 inch strips to represent the red and white stripes of our flag. The navy was stenciled with ivory stars to represent the field of stars on our flag. The banners are 8 inches long by 6 inches wide. Really simple to do. Using a hot glue gun, I glued the banners to a piece of sisal twine and attached it to the mantel with some push pins.
The plaque on the mantel was painted on an unfinished cabinet door I found at the Habitat for Humanity store for $5.00. Actually, I bought lots of these doors in different sizes. They are cheaper than buying unfinished wood at the craft store. Just something for you to keep in mind and it helps a great cause when you buy things there.
The plaque says "with liberty and justice for all" which I took from our pledge of allegiance. I turned the door sideways and then painted the top and bottom edge a barn red color, the two end pieces navy blue and the middle panel an ivory color. The stars were stenciled in ivory using the same stencil I used for the flag panels. After painting on the words from the pledge, I waxed the entire panel with Annie Sloan clear wax and then went over it with Annie Sloan dark wax. If you have never used her products, they are amazing! The wax gives the plaque an aged look that I really like.
Isn't it interesting that the host country is England, the country we declared our independence from in 1776? Just another reason to celebrate the red, white and blue this year! Can't wait to see what records are broken and who wins medals. Hurray for the Olympic spirit.
Things to Remember:
Thursday, May 17, 2012
This idea came from The Art of Doing Stuff.com. She has some incredible ideas, and as we worked on the garden my mind kept going back to her lighting idea and I just knew we had to give it a try. It is not expensive and is very easy to do. What do you think makes that beautiful glow? It's just white globes like you would put on a ceiling type light fixture with white Christmas lights stuffed inside.
Now you get the picture! How awesome is that? They are like your own personal moon glow. The original post from TADS suggested finding globes at flea markets or antique stores, but we just went to Home Depot and bought two different sized globes. That was much simpler if you ask me. They are not terribly expensive (under $20 for the two) and it was one stop shopping. We had lots of white lights from Christmas, many in unopened boxes, so I used a strand of 35 for the small globe and a 50 strand for the bigger globe. Just stuff them inside, connect them together by the plugs on the cord and attached to an outdoor extension cord. Makes sure your lights are indoor/outdoor since they are on the ground! This is something you can do in any garden space or even along a walkway. It looks stunning at night! Now, I want to sing "It must have been moon glow, way up in the blue......"
Since my last post about the "secret garden," I have added a few things. First, we put down newspaper and wet it. Did you know that makes a great weed barrier and you don't have to go buy anything special? It really works. Then, we covered the whole area with pea gravel to give it an more uniform look.
Now, hopefully, there won't be much weeding to do. Weeding is not one of my favorite tasks. I wound lights through the fence and added a little sign I have had hanging in my garden for years and years. I just hung it over the fence. Easy peasey.
Now the cat is out of the bag. You can tour my garden for a minimum fee of 5 cents! Is that a major bargain or what?
You will notice there are a couple of concrete plaques that I added to the wall behind the garden for interest. Another thing I have had for eons. I like to decorate outside just like inside. We spend a lot of time on the deck and in the yard and it just makes everything more visually appealing and homey.
Everything is shaping up nicel. I am sitting on the deck as I type this looking at my beautiful "secret garden." I have done a lot of work out of doors the past couple of days, but it makes me so happy. Soon, it will just be summer maintenance only and lots of time to kick back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. I love spring/summer when we get to that point, don't you?
This is the garden at dusk. It's so serene and peaceful (except for the loud music coming from the General Jackson not far from us on the river). They will begin their cruise soon, so it will be nothing but the sounds of the birds and an owl who hoots now and then. Oh, and I hear geese honking, now a woodpecker. Talk about bliss.
Wish you were here to enjoy one of these lovely summer evenings with us. There is dessert and coffee (or your favorite beverage) on the deck, the sounds of nature and an occasional tug passing on the river. Who can complain about that? Life is good and we are so very blessed.
Things to Remember:
"The summer night is like a perfection of thought."- Wallace Stevens
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Like riding a bicycle, it all comes back in a hurry. The how to's that is. Two weeks ago I was making macrame hangers, something I thought I would never do again. Today, I planted succulent gardens. Yes, I did. The methodology, it's still the same. Succulents don't change, but I certainly have. Almost 40 years have passed since I did some of these things. Unbelievable.
Anyway, I have always had a real passion for the desert since my first visit to Arizona at the age of 11. There was something about the whole look of cacti, sand, rock and mountains that stole my heart. At one time, I had a yard full of prickly pear cactus, yucca plants and lots of succulents. And then of course, we moved and things changed. Now, it's almost full circle and I am back to succulent gardens only this time for table tops. They are much easier to plant.
Any of you out there fans of West Elm? Their store is full to the brim with terrarium projects, succulent plants and all kinds of interesting pottery and beautiful containers. It makes my heart skip a beat to go in there, but everything is waaaaay over my budget. So, I cruised the store, studied what was there and headed out to where I knew I could find some more affordable items that would fit my budget and still give me a look that I wanted.
First, check out your local garden centers, Home Depot and Lowe's garden centers for succulent plants. One small plant was over $7.00 at West Elm and I was able to buy a 4 pack at Lowe's for $4.97 which made each plant about $1.25 instead of $7.00. That is a major score and savings for the old pocket book. You can also get a bag of play sand to mix with your potting soil for very little at Lowe's or Home Depot.
Next, I mixed potting soil and play sand in a 50/50 ratio to give the soil good drainage. Remember, most succulents grow naturally in very arid conditions. They don't like wet feet. Shallow containers also work very well for succulent gardens.
Fill the container with the soil mixture leaving room so that the soil will not overflow when watered. Carefully remove the plants from their pots and place them where you want them. Make sure to fill in between and all around the plants, slightly pressing the soil down to hold them in place. Then, you want some kind of "top dressing" like rocks, shells, or sea glass. You can buy bags of river rock, shells or sea glass at the Dollar Tree. I also had some pea gravel left from landscaping my "secret garden."
Top dressing makes the garden look more professional and interesting.
I used a clear bowl that I already had for this garden.
The deck is just about finished. The wrought iron table and chairs need their annual coat of paint and there are probably some new cushion covers to be made and then I am done. Well, I say that but somehow I am never done.
Next, I will give you an update on some new additions to the "secret garden" I recently posted about which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and maybe give you an idea or two for your garden. These beautiful spring days make my mind whir non-stop with ideas. Does spring do that to you? Gotta love spring!
Things to Remember:
"Gardening is the purest of human pleasures." -- Francis Bacon
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Who doesn't love cookies? Adults, kids, everybody loves cookies especially if they are home made. Is there anyone who loves cookies more than Cookie Monster? I think maybe our grandsons do, and Dan, and maybe even me - especially if it's a good home made cookie like these oatmeal cookies in the picture. The really spectacular thing about these cookies is they stay soft, they don't get hard like oatmeal cookies often do.
Summertime is upon us and it is the season of cookouts, picnics and children home from school who are always hungry. If you want to give them a special treat, let them help you bake the cookies they can have for their treat. Not only does letting them help give them life skills, baking can be a math lesson and it lets them enjoy the fruits of their labor. Baking is one of the easiest ways to start kids in the kitchen. Kids may not eat broccoli, even if they cook it, but they will almost always eat a cookie.
For our recent May Faire picnic at our grandsons' school, I knew I would take cookies for dessert. They are easy to put in a zip lock bag, you don't need a plate or utensils for cookies and they are just plain good. The kids certainly thought so!
Our kindergarden aged grandson had a friend who joined us for our picnic because his mom had a meeting to attend. His name was Ted and he was adorable. Ted loved these cookies. He just kept asking if he could have another and I certainly didn't mind. After cookie number 8, I asked him if his mom cared if he ate that many cookies. Guess what? According to Ted, she didn't care one bit. I lost count of how many cookies Ted finally consumed, but it was quite a few. I am quite sure mom would have frowned on that many cookies, but Ted gave me her permission.
Here is what you need for this easy recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
First, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in 1 egg at a time, beating to thoroughly incorporate. Add the vanilla. Mix.
Sift the dry ingredients (except oats) together. Add to the wet ingredients, mix thoroughly. Add the oats and mix. Refrigerate the batter for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease your cookie sheets. Remove batter from the refrigerator. Roll the batter into balls, placing them 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven. Let cool slightly, remove from pan with spatula.
The size of the ball you make determines the size of the cookie. I made mine about the size of a walnut which made about 4 dozen cookies.
Oatmeal cookies are one of our favorites, but I don't like anything in them like raisins or nuts. If you do, feel free to add them to the batter. You could also drizzle the tops of the cookies with chocolate or powdered sugar glaze if you wanted to. Since these were going to be outside in the heat, I left them plain and they were just "plain" delicious.
Memorial Day will soon be here and that is usually the "official" kickoff for cookouts and picnics. If you want a simple and easy dessert to take along, always think about cookies. They are easy to make, easy to take and easy to eat. Here's to a spectacular summer!
Things to Remember:
Monday, May 14, 2012
Today, I wanted to share a project that I have been working on. My friend Karen from high school (talk about a long time friend) recently became a master gardener. Congratulations Karen! She posted a picture on Facebook from a website called Two Women and a Hoe.com. It was a picture of a wreath made from flower pots and some of them were planted with succulents. Be still my heart, I fell instantly in love. But, sadly it was only a picture and there was no tutorial on how to make such a divine creation. So, I had to put my thinking cap on and study the picture and figure out a way to make one of these awesome wreaths for myself. Upon close examination, I could see that the flower pots had been attached with some green wire, like the kind you use to tie up tomatoes and plants. I knew that glue would never hold them, so that was my first major discovery. The second issue was they had used what appeared to be a lot of lovely old flower pots that had been painted through the years and I had none of those since we just moved last year. Most of my pots went by the by as they say, so I had to make up my own "aged" flower pots. That, I could figure out. So, it was time to make a trip to the Dollar Tree, my home away from home.
Dollar Tree has packages of 2.5 inch clay flower pots that come three in a package, like pots you would use to start seeds in. And, they had some 3.5 inch pots that are plastic which I knew I could make work. I also purchased an 18 inch rattan wreath for $1.00. Now, all I needed was wire and moss, so I made a trip to JoAnn's. I got a package of moss for a few dollars and a roll of paper covered wire for a few dollars more. I have tons of acrylic craft paints in my stash, so I was good to go.
First, I spray painted the wreath a bronze color because it was a very light blond color and I wanted it to be darker. I used some left over spray paint I had from another project. After the paint dried, I set up a work station on our patio table so I could work in the glorious sunshine. Sunshine inspires me. I started by applying hot glue to the wreath and pressing moss on the hot glue. BE CAREFUL when doing this so you don't get burned.
Continue placing pots all around the wreath making sure several are facing "UP" so you can plant your succulents in them.
When all the pots are in place, you can plant your chosen succulents. Mix some sand with an equal amount of potting soil and place it in a pot. Add your succulent plant and fill in with the potting soil mixture. Succulents don't require much water so don't water when potting. This is how the finished wreath looks up close.
This project takes a little time if you have to paint pots, but if you have a lot of old pots on hand it won't take that long to make. Just be sure and use small pots so the wreath doesn't get too heavy. Use your imagination, get creative and have a blast making a wreath for yourself. Now, I am going to make one for each of our daughter's here in town. They both have covered porches that will be just perfect for this wreath! Guess I better get busy.
A special thank you to Karen for posting that inspiration picture! You might want to check out Two Women and a Hoe.com. It's a great gardening inspiration site.
Things to Remember:
A variety of plants makes for lots of interest. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
That meant the next trip was to JoAnne's where I knew I could find nylon rip stop fabric that would hold up much better out of doors. I purchased a quarter yard of the three colors that I wanted to use, red, yellow and orange. ( Our new rug is bright orange and yellow.) A quarter yard would make two flags of each color. Then, there were the poles. I new I had seen bamboo poles at Home Depot so that was our next stop. Unfortunately, they did not have any sturdy enough to withstand strong wind, but they did have these 8 foot tomato stakes that are steel on the inside and plastic on the outside.
Perfect! I knew they could be spray painted, so we purchased three of them and a can of Krylon spray paint in hammered metal finish that works on plastic - no priming needed. This is how the poles look painted.
I folded each strip in half long ways and zigzagged all the way down the edge. Next, I zigzagged the two pieces of each star together, leaving a small opening between the edges. I placed the strip of fabric in the opening and stitched it closed using a zigzag stitch.
Dan and I discussed how to accomplish this feat and I suggested zip ties, mainly because I had a bunch of them in my craft stash. They are easy to use and can be removed in the fall when we want to take the flags down. So, zip ties it was. I held each flag pole while Dan placed a tie in two places to secure it to the deck.
I was hoping for a good breeze after we got the flags in place so you could see the decorations when they float on the breeze, but we had no luck in that department today. But, I can say I LOVE our new deck decorations. They are bright, cheerful and colorful. The grandsons are going to enjoy watching them fly as much as we do. Flags rank right up there with kites in my book.
Now, here is the real kicker. These flags cost less than $10.00 each to make so I saved a lot of money by making them and the nylon will hold up much better than the cotton fabric used in the World Market flags. The poles were $5.97 each at Home Depot and the Fabric actually came to $2.00 for one flag. A quarter yard was $4.00 and I have enough left to make another flag out of each color. The can of Krylon was $4.97 and there is lots of paint left for another project. How is that for a major savings coup? My pocketbook likes it, that is for sure.
There are many ways you could make outdoor flags using nylon fabric. I didn't want our flags to be so big they blocked our view of the yard. Nylon fabric comes in lots of bright colors and holds up well in the weather. Today's post will hopefully inspire you to liven up your out of door space. We spend as much time outside as we can this time of year and this just makes it a little more enjoyable.
Things to Remember:
Spending time out of doors ads fun to your life.