Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How To Use Metal Leaf

Somehow, it is Wednesday and I am way behind on "things" in my life.  The three day weekend sort of threw my schedule for a loop.  By the way, how was your weekend?  Hope it was spectacular, ours certainly was even though the weather was more like the 4th of July it was so hot.  Thankfully, it is going to cool down a bit this week.

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.
If you don't know me well, you may not know my love for all things stars.  I have them in all sizes, shapes and colors.  Needless to say, I decided to doctor this one up a bit for a more Americana look so I painted it to look like this using acrylic craft paints.
Voila! - that gave it a whole new look didn't it?  I simply used navy blue on the left hand part of the star and stenciled white stars on it when the paint was dry.  Then, I used ivory and painted every other side of the remaining points on the star.  It now has a true Americana look and the cost was only time since everything else was on hand.

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.
This is what the back of the package says about metal leaf.
"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.
Each sheet is micro thin, but very easy to apply.  You simply apply the adhesive wherever you want the leaf to show.  I used a small square shader brush and went around the edges of each letter.
The adhesive will be milky looking when first applied  (you can see some at the bottom of the "U").  As it dries, it becomes opaque and very tacky.  After an hour's drying time, you can begin to apply the metal leaf.  You just tear small pieces off and rub it over the adhesive using your finger.
There is little to no waste since you can pick up all the little tiny pieces and rub them over the adhesive. It gives a very smooth finished look and mimics real gold leaf for a miniscule fraction of the price.  Metal leaf can be used on anything - furniture, candles, jewelry, ornaments, picture frames - the list is endless - just use your imagination.  Here are the finished letters.
It only takes a short amount of time to use the metal leaf and it is so much fun.  It's one of those mindless craft projects that has a beautiful outcome.  I attached the letters together using sisal twine and some hot glue and hung them on the front of the house.  Then I placed my Americana star above them.

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.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.
Phyllis George

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inexpensive Placemats, Napkins and Napkin Rings You Can Make

Since my summer decor theme is Americana, I needed place mats, napkins and napkin holders for our table.  By now, you know that I don't like, nor do I have, a lot of money to spend on things like this.    But, I still like things to look a certain way, so that means a little ingenuity.  I have had red place mats that I have used for several years, but of course this year I wanted to use blue and I wanted to put some kind of decoration on them.  On a recent trip to Dollar Tree, I found these round straw place mats just like my red ones that I paid a LOT more money for and they were only $1 each.  Now that is my kind of price.  They also had these tea towels in navy, red and white that I knew could be turned into napkins.  (I like to use fabric napkins when we have guests).  There were also bolts of #40 ribbon (#40 is 2.5 inches wide) in patriotic patterns that were 3 yards for a dollar which is a great price, so I picked up three bolts because there is always something that can be done with ribbon.

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.
The place mats went from this to this.  Done.  Now, to make the napkins.
All I did was take the tea towels and cut them in half.
I opened each towel up and simply turned the cut edge under 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 inch so that each napkin had a finished edge.  Since three sides were already hemmed, I only had to hem one side on each napkin -  fabulously easy and two napkins for $1.00.  Now, I needed napkin holders.  Hmmm. What was I going to use?

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.
Now, place one end of the ribbon, right side out, on the glue and press it down flat.  I used a pencil so I didn't burn my finger.
Next, wrap the ribbon around the tube making sure it overlaps and completely covers the cardboard tube.  When  you get to the end, run another bead of glue on the ribbon and press the ribbon end onto the glue and trim.
Eight napkin rings for $1.00 is not a bad price if you have priced napkin rings.  They can be quite expensive and these will get us through the summer season.

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!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“Life is the greatest bargain - we get it for nothing."    Yiddish Proverb

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Olympics, Election - It's Americana

When Dan and I were first married in 1969, the color trends were avocado green, gold and orange.  Those were not my color preferences.  For the most part, I have been an Americana kind of decorator for many years.  Red, white and blue have always been one of my favorite color combinations in home decor and clothing.  Don't ask me why, I couldn't really tell you.  I just love the way the colors go together and of course, they are the colors of our country's flag.  Thanks you Betsy Ross.

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.
I don't know about you, but I get really excited when it is an Olympic year, especially the summer olympics.  While the national election and politics sadly seems to be very divisive to our country, the Olympics brings out the best in our country, and the world, for a few short weeks.  Cheering on everyone who has dedicated their lives and bodies to the very best they can be is something we can ALL appreciate and politics are put aside.  I have so much admiration for all of the participating athletes!

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.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

There is something in the Olympics, indefinable, springing from the soul, that must be preserved.    Chris Brasher

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Secret Garden Update - How To Add Lighting Effects

We can now enjoy our new "secret garden" day or night.  All it took was the addition of some lighting and voila!  we are all set.  It is not hard to tell that the lights along the fence are just white Christmas lights, but that beautiful glow under the asparagus fern may be much harder to figure out.

This idea came from The Art of Doing  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.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"The summer night is like a perfection of thought."-   Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Succulents, succulent gardens and terrariums are ba-aaack - like an apparition from my younger days.  Whoever said what goes around comes around certainly knew what they were talking about.  Perhaps there really is nothing new in the world, just do overs in a slightly different way.  Maybe it's new containers, different colors, but in the end it's the same.  Really.  It's just the same.

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.  

Containers were the next thing on my list.  I really wanted a long, narrow zinc type tray to make my garden in.  Could I find one?  No way.  So, I was combing through Pier One and I found this metal candle holder that I knew would work.   I simply had to drill some drainage holes in the bottom before planting.  Drainage is very important for succulents.

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.
There are a wide variety of plants with different kinds of leaves, textures and colors.  Don't be afraid to mix them for interest.

I used a clear bowl that I already had for this garden.
First, I put a layer of pea gravel, then a layer of sand and then the 50/50 soil mixture before planting these lovely "hens and chicks."  The bowl was finished with some top dressing.  I love the colors of this one.
I used 3 red ramekin bowls I found at Big Lots for $1.00 each.   I planted them and placed them around the umbrella pole on our patio table.  Excellent.
I had a good sized jade plant that I had gotten some time ago and planted it in a white zinc pail that I had.  I left the plant in the pot, put it inside the pail and covered it with the 50/50 soil mixture and some pea gravel for top dressing.
Now, here's the important part.  Succulents like very bright light, but full sun can harm them.  All of mine are under tables, eaves or an umbrella where they are protected from full sun.  Also, in the summer you want to lightly water them often because that is when they store water for the winter season.  In the winter, bring them in and give them bright light but only water them about every other month.  Succulents should never stand in water!

After I took this picture, I decided I didn't like the round bowl on top of the table, so I moved it under the table with the jade plant.  I put the jade plant to the back left, and the bowl to the front and right.  That left the long garden on the table top and I liked it much better that way.  Don't be afraid to move things around until you like what you see.  That's part of the fun.

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!

Everyday Donna

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
2 eggs
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!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?
- Marie Dressler

Monday, May 14, 2012

How To Make Your Own Flower Pot Wreath To Plant With Succulents

Here it is again - Monday.  The days seem to have wings and are going at such speed I can hardly keep up.  Since I don't officially go to work any more, I sometimes forget what day it actually is.  Since yesterday was Mother's Day (and a lovely one I might add), I know that today is Monday once again.  I hope you all had a great weekend and a super Monday.

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  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.
Moss is messy, so I put down a plastic trash back to work on so that clean up would be easier!  If you do this in your house, be prepared to have moss everywhere.  It's just the way it is.  After I covered most of the wreath with moss, I started painting flower pots to give them an aged and weathered look.  I used mostly shades of green, some dark red, aqua blue and white.  I painted and dabbed all over the pots giving them different looks.  Here are a couple of examples.
Some pots were painted with greens, some were white washed, and some have reddish colors.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try different combinations.  There is no right or wrong.  After the pots dried, it was time to wire them to the wreath.  This is the wire I used.
I ran the wire through the hole in the bottom of the flower pot first.
Leave a long piece so that it will fit around the wreath and can be twisted tightly to hold the pot in place.  I started at 12, 6, 3 and 9 for the first pots and then began fitting other pots in between the first pots, making them go in different directions for interest.
You will need a pair of needle nosed pliers to use for twisting the wire.  Doing it by hand just doesn't get the wire tight enough and then you can use the pliers to cut the wire once the pot is in place.  Make sure the pot is very snuggly in place before cutting the wire.

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.
I used 4 different plants.  It's hard to see the dark red "hens and chicks" in the bottom right pot because they are small, but they will get bigger.  I LOVE this wreath.  I hung it on the back of our house under an eave where it won't get rained on.  Rain will destroy the moss on the wreath, so you might want to consider a front door under an overhand or covered porch for a place to hang it.  You could even hang it in a sunny room indoors.  Here is where mine is hanging by the back door that leads out onto our deck.  I have a variety of blooming plants for color, a big boston fern for texture and greenery,  and a lovely little fountain for the sound of running water (which we love).
The wreath just looks fabulous in this grouping.  See how the mandevilla is starting to vine over to the shutter next to the door?  Love, love, love when it climbs up the shutter.

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  It's a great gardening inspiration site.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

A variety of plants makes for lots of interest.  Don't be afraid to experiment.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How To Make Out Of Door Flags Cheap!

World Market is one of my most favorite stores to go into and browse because they have so many interesting things.  Pier 1 is another favorite.   Both stores give me lots of ideas and inspiration and of course it's almost impossible to leave without purchasing something for our home.  We made a trip the other day with the intention of buying an indoor/outdoor rug that I had seen there.  Of course, I had to peruse the store while I was there and what did I spy?  Some outdoor flags that were on bamboo poles and the flag was made from simple cotton which would fade out of doors in no time.  They cost $49.00 each which was way out of my budget because I wanted three of them.  But, they certainly caught my eye and that little light bulb in my head came on and my thought was  - I can make those.

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.
Now, all I had to do was make the flags which would be a simple project.  First, I drew a pattern on some brown craft paper.  After measuring the pole, I knew I would need a 3 inch pocket on the flag so it would fit snuggly over the pole.  The pole is 8 feet long and I wanted the flag to be half the length of the pole, so it had to be 4 feet long.  I drew the pattern like the flag at World Market which was triangular shaped.  It is 5 inches at the top and 12 inches at the bottom, with a length of 4 feet.
I pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut it out.  By reversing the pattern, I will be able to get another flag out of this piece of material.  I also cut a 2.5 foot strip of fabric to make a decoration for the top of the flag that can blow in the wind.  The flag at World Market had a leaf on the end of the strip, but I wanted a star.  I used a cookie cutter I had and traced it on a piece of fabric folded double so it would be thick enough to withstand wind and then cut out the stars.
Now, it was time to sew.  I use clear nylon thread for sewing so I don't have to keep changing thread which saves a lot of time.  Because I needed a 3 inch pocket to fit the flag pole, I folded the long straight edge of the flag over 1.5 inches so that I would have a total pocket of 3 inches and stitched from top to bottom.  I went back and zigzagged over the straight stitching to reinforce the seam.
Next, I stitched the top closed so the flag would not slide down the pole.  I double folded a seam 1/4 inch wide and zigzagged it closed.  The outside angled edge was then folded over twice in a 1/4 inch seam and zigzagged all the way down to the bottom edge.  Time to make the decoration for the top of the flag.  I had cut a strip about 1/2 inch wide in each fabric color.

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.
To finish the flag, I folded the bottom edge of the strip over about an inch and zigzagged it to the top of the flag.  Done.  It took about an hour to make all 3 flags.  I took the flags outside and slid them over the flag poles.  Now, it was time to attach them to the deck.

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.
Zip ties are inexpensive and easy to use without leaving holes in the wood.  I have used gazillions of them for outdoor decorating.

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.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Spending time out of doors ads fun to your life.