Changing It Up for Summer

During the winter I seemed to decorate in monochromatic tones.  It seemed soothing to have rooms decorated in winter whites and heavier colors such as reds and earth tones.  However, now with summer approaching, I feel it's time for lighter, more vibrant color. The winter whites are getting old.  Of course, you can't go out and buy all new furniture but, you can change it up with different accessories.

I think my first inspiration came when I found two turquoise blue vases in the basement.  I also found a multi-colored table runner in my buffet drawer that happened to have the exact blue in the print.  Next, I purchased some turquoise placemats at the Christmas Tree Shop and I was on my way.


These summer plates and bowls were a gift for Mother's Day from my daughter, Brittany.  I think she bought them at Homegoods.  That could be why the colors match so well with my table runner. I purchased the runner at Homegoods also.  The knubby plastic glasses were a Homegoods find, as well.  You can always find great things there!

Don't you just love the turquoise color of this vase?
This is a painting Brittany did in an art class she took in high school.  She has never liked it and keeps telling me that "it isn't very good."  However, I've always loved it.  I think Brittany is being overly critical. The colors are cheery and go so well with my turquoise theme.  I didn't see any reason not to use it :)
I really wanted to use fresh flowers in the vase instead of the silk ones I ended up using but, I didn't have time to run to the store.  The next time I have company coming I will definitely buy fresh flowers.  Fresh is always the best choice!  However, these worked in a pinch.




I chose to use silk flowers for this arrangement and I am happy with that decision.  This arrangement is light and airy, just like summer and, of course, the blue and white went with my color scheme!



I am very excited about how well all my pieces coordinated with each other.  I also love how much color is in the room now.  These accessories really added the color I was looking for to make the transition from winter to summer.  It's wonderful living in an area where you can fully enjoy the four seasons of the year.  This can be reflected in your home d├ęcor, as well.
Tying silverware in a napkin with ribbon is always a quick and easy tablescape idea.








I think this table setting would be great for a brunch or a luncheon.  Iced tea would look yummy in these knubby glasses.


































Well, I hope you have enjoyed the little tour of my dining room with its bright and cheery colors.  I hope I haven't gone overboard with color.  Next, I'll be moving outside to decorate the deck, just as soon as we have finished staining it.  Until then, I'll be adding color in other rooms of the house.  So far, I've changed the heavy red drapes in the family room to lighter chartreuse curtains and also added brighter pillows to match the color in the curtains.  I've also added touches here and there, wherever I felt "something" was needed.  By making these little changes, the inside of your home will gently transition from winter to summer just like it does on the outside! 
Happy Decorating!!

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Happy Memorial Day!

Hi Everyone!

Happy Memorial Day!  I am busy with Memorial Day activities so, I am just checking in to say "hi".  I wanted to thank all the Vets out there for their service.  Thank you for your sacrifice. I also want to wish all of you a very happy holiday and hope you have great times with your friends and families.  I'll be posting later this week but, until then enjoy the hamburgers and hot dogs!!



Designing Your Garden

It's May and time to really get working in the garden.  Of course, gardening is something you can honestly do all year round if you put your mind to it!  However, since it's the middle of May, I needed to really get going!  I am getting into the midst of it right now and  I thought I'd show you how I go about planning my gardens.

First, I wanted to show you some of the areas of my garden that are blooming and displaying lots of color currently. Since the beginning stages of planning and planting a flowerbed are not very impressive or colorful, I wanted you to see some areas of my yard that are quite lovely. (At least, I think so...)
 The Lilacs are still fragrant and beautiful.
 This is an orange azalia.  I am not sure of the exact name but, it's always stunning.

 This is Honeysuckle, which can get a bit invasive, but at this time of the season the fragrance is so great that it is totally worth the trouble!
 This is aguga, a perennial that only seems to want to grow in our field.  I've tried moving it to my garden several times but, to no avail.  I won't let my husband mow this part of the field until the aguga is done blooming, which understandably drives him nuts :)
 I had to show you my new birdbath.  It was my Mother's Day present.  Isn't it pretty?  Most of the plants around it are ones I planted last fall.  I'm so surprised they made it through the winter.
 More birdbath plants
 Oriental Poppy...just purchased this spring.  I'm hoping it comes back next year.  We'll see.
 Pansies
A Rhododendron blossom that actually wasn't eaten by the deer last winter!

OK, now that I've shown you that I do truly have color in my yard...on to designing my flower bed.  I have a shade garden on the side of my yard that I love but, I often have a difficult time trying to decide what plants to use in it because its light exposure is not very good.  The garden only gets two hours of light early in the morning and, perhaps, two hours in the late afternoon.  Who placed a garden in that stupid spot anyway?

After the winter I took stock of the garden and found that one Foxglove, three Jacob's Ladder, four Lady's Mantle, two Fever Few, one Clematis and two mystery perennials were making appearances.  This may sound like many plants but, it's a big space and I needed to fill it in with many more.

My first plan of action was to transplant seven or eight Bellflower plants from my back garden to my shade garden.  I love this plant but, it appears to be a favorite of rabbits and woodchucks also.
It's supposed to look like this if the animals don't eat the buds off first.

          This is what it looks like now.  I'm hoping it will bloom in a few weeks.  Oh, and I found a Foxglove plant          behind the fence and transplanted it to the garden.  Free plants!  I love it!


The next phase of my plan was to actually draw up a plan.  So, I scribbled a drawing in a notebook and brought it with me to the garden center.  That way I have a visual picture of the thought in my head and I remember what plants I need to buy to make my idea a reality.
I didn't think you could decipher my scribbled drawing so, I made a more legible one.  Here you can see the garden is made up of perennials, as well as, annuals.  By the time the perennials are done blooming, the annuals take over to provide constant color...if everything goes as planned, that is.

So the garden consists of:
Jacob's Ladder

 Foxglove
 Lady's Mantle
White and red begonias and blue lobelia
Mixed Coleus and Snapdragons

As well as, bellflower, fever few (a perennial with small white flowers on a feathery stem), a mystery plant and clematis
 Here is the finished product.  I know.  It's not very impressive right now but, hopefully, it will be soon.  Following my plan, I planted all the plants by digging a hole and filling the hole with water fortified with plant food.  This gives the flowers a good start. I will continue fertilizing the plants about once a week for the next month or so.  After that, I'll probably fertilize every two weeks.  As you may have guessed gardening is not for whims.  It's a lot of work but, it can be very rewarding.
Obviously, I think it's rewarding because I am on to the next flower bed!

Happy Planting!!

Lilac and Queen Anne's Lace Arrangement

The lilacs in my yard suddenly bloomed yesterday.  They are so fragrant that I wanted to bring some into the house.  Lilacs always bring me back to my childhood.  My grandparents had a great hedge of substantial lilacs at the end of their dirt driveway and I especially loved visiting them during lilac blooming season.  Of course, I loved visiting them all of time, which, thankfully, was often since we lived close by.  They were the quintessential grandparents with gray hair and warm hearts.  They lived in an old Cape Cod house that had the aroma of the sugar cookies my grandfather baked wafting throughout the house.  Yes, my grandfather was the baker in their little family and the smell of his cookies was the first thing you noticed as you entered their home.  They were always delicious!

~Back to my Lilac Arrangement~

As wonderful as lilacs are, I decided that I would like my arrangement to be more interesting than simply a bowl of cut lilacs.  Therefore, I grabbed a few bunches of flowers from Trader Joe's to add to the mix.

One of the bunches I purchased contained Queen Anne's Lace which I thought would give an airy, wispy look to the arrangement.  The bunch also included three peach roses along with a few  stems of stock, snapdragons and lilies.  I seem to be obsessed with peach roses this spring!  I also grabbed bunches of white and purple/burgundy alstroemeria.  I was planning on using the alstroemeria as the base for my arrangement.  However, this plan didn't work as well as I had hoped but, adding the lilacs ended up filling out the arrangement nicely.  All was well :)

I love the look and smell of lilacs.  I often seem to wait too long to cut them, however.  They don't really last that long in peak bloom so, try to make sure you cut a few quickly if you want to enjoy the fragrance in your home.  I'm glad I cut mine today.






My free-form arrangement found it's final spot on my family room coffee table.  The lilac fragrance is traveling all through the house.  It's great!  And, I am going to enjoy my carefree design for a bit.  It's always fun experimenting

Discovering the Meaning of the Tussie-Mussie

In celebration of Mother's Day!

I was going to visit my mother a few weeks ago and wanted to bring a "little something" to her.  So, I decided to make her a tussie-mussie.  Originally my understanding of a tussie-mussie was that it was a small nosegay bouquet tied with ribbon.  However, after doing some research I discovered that these lovely little bouquets can be and can mean so much more but, I'll talk about that in a minute.

 To start the whole process, I purchased one package of six peach roses (sorry they look orange in the photos), pink mini carnations, baby's breath, (once a no-no in floral arrangements but now back in popularity, which makes me happy) and a package of very fragrant purple stock.  Oh, I almost forget.  I added some twigs of pussy willow in two bouquets and forsythia in the third one. I was able to make three tussie-mussie bouquets out of my supplies.  I think I could have made six if I made each bouquet smaller, which might be what I do the next time I make them.  My bouquets may have been a bit large for the real definition of a tussie-mussie but, this is a work in progress for me. :)
Anyway, on to my discovery.  I actually found the true meaning of tussie-mussie by accident.  I decided to look online to find out how to spell "tussie-mussie" since I wasn't sure of the spelling.  That's where I discovered that "tussie-mussie" was in fact a quaint term used in the early 1400s for small round bouquets where flowers and herbs were chosen because of the special meaning associated with each flower/herb to convey a specific message to the recipient. It seems over the years, flowers had, and still have, been given different meanings to convey special feelings and/or messages and the folks of the 1400s took it to a whole new level. I kind of like how they used flowers to express their feelings. I imagine they were able to express feelings of congratulations, sorrow and love through these special bouquets.  Loving flowers the way I do, I kind of think that's neat!
 
To give you a few examples of flower meanings; goldenrod is symbolic of encouragement, a white rosebud represents love and opium poppy symbolizes forgetfulness. (That's a funny one, don't you think?)

I already knew in a general way that certain flowers carried special meanings but I never thought about how flowers tied in a bouquet could convey a special message from the giver to the receiver.  After thinking about this, I decided to look up the flowers I used in my mom's tussie-mussie.  To my surprise, peach roses, I discovered, are used to express the warmth and cheer of getting together.  Wow!  That really fit the occasion of the day!

Next, I looked up the meaning of purple stock and guess what I found!  Stock is supposed to bring feelings of affection and tells the person receiving it that they will always be beautiful to the giver.  Double wow!  Who doesn't want to convey that to their mother?

Baby's Breath is representative of innocence or purity of heart.

Pink Carnations, in modern times, have come to be a symbol for Mother's Day to symbolize unforgotten or unforgettable love.  I'm loving these flower meanings!

Without knowing it, I had created a little bouquet with special meaning to give to my mother.  I really like the whole idea of these tussie-mussies.  Maybe it's time to bring back some of these long-lost traditions.  For someone like me who is sentimental, it's not a bad idea!



Anyway back to the job at hand, here is how I tied the bouquet.  I used sheer purple ribbon to give it a delicate look.  

 Since I ended up having enough materials to make three bouquets, I gave one of the bouquets to my sister-in-law, who I was planning on seeing later that day.  She seemed to really like her tussie, which brought me joy. That's what's so great about giving gifts.  You receive happiness also.  Kind of a win, win.

I delivered the tussie-mussie to my mom the next day, along with a hanging pansy plant because she is an avid gardener and loves flowers.  She seemed to be very happy, which, of course, made me happy.  We spent the day together having lunch, talking and shopping.  What better way to spend time with your mom?  It was a great day!


For you mothers out there, I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

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Tutorial for Tissue Paper Flowers

Here is my tutorial for making the tissue paper flowers I used in my Celebrating Cinco de Mayo  post:

First, start with 6-8 pieces of tissue paper.  Line the papers together, fully aligned on top of each other.

Starting on one side, fold back an approximate 1"  flap of paper.  Go back and forth accordion style...

Until it looks like this.

I folded the swath of paper in half and cut because that was the size of flower I wanted.  You could make the flower the whole size of the width of the original layers of paper, if you'd like.  However, I would add more layers of tissue paper if I were going to make such a large flower.  It will be fluffier that way. 

You could also cut the swath of paper in thirds if you want to made smaller flowers.  This technique is very adaptable.

So, I will get two flowers out of one swath of layered tissue paper.


Cut the ends of the folded paper in a U or curved shape.  This will make a peony-like flower.  Other kinds of flowers can be made by cutting the ends in different ways.  Spiked ends make more of a tufted flower.  Experimentation is lots of fun with these flowers!
Take a pipe cleaner and tie in the middle of the folded papers.
Open each end fan style.

Now, one by one, gently pull the individual tissue layers to the center.  Be careful.  It is easy to tear the paper doing this.  If you do tear a piece, don't worry.  These flowers are very forgiving.  Just tuck under the torn piece and pull the next layer up and around the torn area. Fluffing is very important at this stage.

Here, one side of the flower is completed.

This is the finished product, all layers pulled towards the center and fluffed.  Pretty, don't you think?

You can do this with any tissue paper.  Specialty tissue papers make really interesting looking flowers and can be used to enhance a specific theme.  The possibilities are endless!
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