Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to all.  Hoping you are having the perfect weather weekend as we give thanks and remember all those who have so bravely fought for our country.
I had some unexpected visitors early in the morning.  Old friends from church that I hadn't seen in years.  They had stopped by to see if I wanted to walk to the Memorial Day Parade with them that was happening at the end of my street. Alas, I had to decline going to the parade as I broke a bone in my foot a couple weeks ago and walking that far with no where to rest was out of the question. 
They headed off with their newly adopted daughter for the parade and I headed out to the grocery store to pick up a couple items to make lunch for them.  I was so excited to have company and catch up on the years that had passed since our last meeting, use my new dishes, and try out a new recipe.
I was in such a frenzy trying to pull things together before they got back from the parade, that I forgot to take pictures before or during the meal, but recreated the table afterwards.
I picked up these star salad plates at the Pottery Barn outlet last week and they set 
the mood for anything red, white, and blue.
 I have a wonderful set of white dinner plates from World Market that I use as my "go to" dishes and then change the whole look by just changing out the salad plates,
 as I did here.
The red flatware is new too from Target.  Since I can't do much walking, I had shopped around via the internet for red flatware, and although I like Pottery Barn's the best, it was not a justifiable expense.  Target was a fraction of the cost and still had quality.  
Acrylic glasses were also purchased at the Pottery Barn outlet earlier in the spring, but I've also seen them at JoAnn Fabrics.  I like using acrylic glasses in the summer since both of my outside tables are glass and I don't have to worry about breaking either the glasses or the table.  Plastic tablecloth was recently purchased at JoAnn Fabrics at 60% off and cloth napkins were a thrift store find.
Add a faux red geranium centerpiece and the 
table becomes even more inviting.
Bright, fun, and cheerful is this table and the company was equally so.  The meal was quite simple since I was short on time.  Just hot dogs and a wonderful new pasta salad recipe that I found over at StoneGable, followed up with a desert of angel food cake, strawberries, and blueberries.  Yvonne always has the best recipes on her blog and you can count on them being great even if trying them for the first time on company.  Here is a link to her Pasta Salad in a Jar recipe. 
 I didn't put mine in jars for lack of time, but I served it in a large white serving dish and it was beautiful.  Wish I had remembered to take a picture.  It was absolutely delicious!
Here's to hoping you had a lovely holiday weekend with friends and family.
Linking with
StoneGable for The Scoop

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Everything is growing well thanks to lots of rain and sunny days.  The lettuce 
greens are growing best, but they got an earlier start.
Going to make my first salad tomorrow.  There is nothing like fresh 
veggies from your own garden.
 The tomatoes are slowly coming along too.
 The smell in my back yard is heavenly.  I have huge honeysuckle trees that are abundantly loaded with blooms. The wisteria and lilacs didn't bloom this year, but there are plenty of other beautiful blooms.

Last summer I grew strawberries in this three-tiered planter, but the harsh winter did them in, so I opted for begonias this year instead.  The bottom plant has fewer blossoms because the chickens think begonias are a treat I planted just for them.  So far they've eaten my petunias, begonias and marigolds.  Still trying to find an annual they won't eat.  I had to put netting around the bottom layer so the begonias would survive to bloom another day.

My favorite thing to do is to sit in the garden, visit with my chickens, 
and smell the heavenly air . . .

. . . especially when the weather is gloriously beautiful.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This Year's Herb Garden

I've always planted a few herbs in a section of my garden that was designated just for them.  Last summer I planted a few in my newly made raised beds. 
 Last year I used my half whiskey barrel to plant potatoes, but that failed because I forgot to drill drainage holes in the bottom and everything rotted.  So this year, I decided to use the barrel for my herbs. 
Since the barrel isn't huge I decided to plant just one each of the herbs I use most often for cooking.  The barrel gives me a nice place to keep them nearby for using and elevates them off the ground.  Elevating them off the ground and covering them with cut bent branches, gives them some protection from my chickens, who like to eat everything I plant.  And if they don't eat it, they dig it up.  Now they could get in there if they wanted to, but so far, they have left them alone.
I look forward to being able to snip fresh herbs for meals.  Parsley, chives, 
and basil are a staple for any herb garden.

I love herbs.  I must admit that even though I've grown them for years, it's been more because I love the variety of textures and color they add to a garden.  This year I plan to use them more for cooking, although this container planting does add a nice aesthetic touch to the garden area.
I tucked in a couple leftover marigolds for a touch of color . . .

and hovering over the herbs is a metal hummingbird
 that I love and have had for years.

So if you have limited garden space or just want to keep your herbs next to your back door on a deck, a half whiskey barrel is a great solution for these issues and adds a beautiful aesthetic touch at the same time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Project 5 ~ Painting the Shed

Project 5 was one of those projects that I worked on when the weather was nice, and we all know it hasn't been the nicest of springs this year. 
 My shed sits in a back corner of my yard and it was kind of a mess back there.  You know how everyone stores "stuff" in places that we can't see, but our neighbors can?  So my first job was to pick up all the things I'd put back there so I could paint.  I cleaned the gutters and washed them, and did some tree trimming.  Then I washed down the walls to get all the algae off.  Finally I was ready to paint.
After painting the two back sides of the shed, I made a dry-stack wall under the bottom of the shed where it sits above the ground.  We have a lot of wild animals in the neighborhood and I'm trying to close up any space they might decide to take up residence.  The rocks I used were just rocks I found around the yard, so there's not much consistency in them, but no one sees them back there and they did the job.
I love the way the rocks make the shed look like its old and has been 
sitting there for years.
Then I set out to restore the rain barrel to usefulness.  It sprung a leak  4 - 5 years ago and hasn't held water since then. 
 I got a new plug for it and bought a tarp to line it with.
I stapled the tarp inside the rain barrel overlapping the excess as I went around.
Then I just had to wait for a good rain to fill it up.  I use my rain water to water plants.  I know the new models of rain barrels that are so popular right now all have covers on them, but I like the old fashioned look and mine is made from an old whiskey barrel.  Mosquitoes do like to breed in it, but if you use Dunkers, which can be bought at any garden store, it kills them and is still safe for the birds who like to drink the water.
Here is my other rain barrel covered with the fallen petals of the crab apple tree.  Another reason, I like the rain barrels without covers.

Lastly, I painted the front of the shed.  The two sides of the shed that I showed you first, I did in a bat and board style to save money and I don't really see them unless I walk back there.  But the front two sides of the shed that I do see all the time, I covered in cedar shingles to match the house.  The pillars were also made to mimic the front entrance of the house.
Here is what I spent for this project:
Gray house paint ~ $31.16
Tarp for rain barrel ~ $9.27
Total ~ $40.43
This project was more work than money, but that is great, because the next project was lots of work and money.
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