Category Archives: Gardening

Home and Garden: Getting Organized for Fall

I found some great ideas on getting organized from MarthaStewart.com. There are a multitude of ideas on her site, and these are some of my favorites (all photos on this post are from MarthaStewart.com).

Leaf Notions for Sewing Tools: A leaf needle book, pincushion, and scissors holder…so cute! These would make a nice gift, too, for any sewers that you know!

Shoe and Boot Tray: With the upcoming rainy and cooler weather, this boot tray would be really handy to keep by your door. Fill it with stones so the excess rain (or snow and ice during winter) will drain to the bottom.

HOME OFFICE IDEAS: I liked this Bookcase Desk, which is really great if you have limited space for your home office. A door laid over the bookcases makes a great desktop, and if you want to protect the surface you can cover the door with a large piece of glass or clear acrylic cut to size.

I’ve used Envelope Pockets in some of my notebooks and journals for quite awhile…it’s such a handy way of organizing clippings, photos, business cards, receipts, and other small papers that can otherwise get easily lost. You can attach the top part of the envelope by moistening the glue on the flap and folding back to attach to the inside of your notebook cover (I also add some double-stick tape to the top center flap to make it extra secure). Use double-stick tape on the bottom corners of the envelope to attach them, too.

Make a Framed Bulletin Board by covering fiberboard with pretty fabric, place in a new or vintage frame, and hang with a wide, sturdy ribbon.

If you just don’t have room for a desk, you can create this Closet Office to help keep you organized. You can make wheeled shelves and dollys, for easier mobility, by putting casters on ready-made shelving pieces. Use storage boxes, tins, and baskets to keep everything neat and tidy.

Gardeners will appreciate these next three ideas…

Seed Storage: Did you know that seeds can actually die if they are not stored properly? To keep seeds at their best, store packets in an airtight container, like a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid (you can use canning jars, but use new lids). Add moisture-absorbing sachets to the jar (wrap 2 Tablespoons untreated cat litter or powdered milk in a double layer of tulle), then close the lid tightly and store in a cool, dark place until spring.

Storing Terra-Cotta Pots: Help avoid broken pots by storing them the right way…after cleaning and drying pots, lay them on their sides in a wooden crate, nesting the pots in rows (don’t stack pots vertically, as they will be more likely to stick together). Keep out of the freezing cold when storing them.

Labeling Flower Bulbs: I didn’t realize you could label flower bulbs with a permanent marker! Isn’t that a great idea? That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re planting the following spring. Store bulbs in peat moss or newspaper in a cool, dark place over winter.

Hope you find these tips helpful as you get ready for Autumn! Do you have other special ways of getting your home and garden organized and ready for the cooler seasons?

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Boxwood Basil

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This fall I decided to try growing a basil plant inside so I could use it for cooking during the winter. I have a really nice, large sunny window in one of my rooms and thought it would be the perfect spot for a pot of basil.

I decided to try a Boxwood Basil plant, which I purchased at Lowe’s. Boxwood Basil has much, much smaller leaves than other varieties of basil, but the flavor and aroma are the same. It’s great to be able to pick some tiny leaves from this plant and use them fresh in salads, soups and other things…there’s nothing like fresh basil! My little basil plant is doing so well by the sunny window, too. I just water it a little every other day.

If you’d like more tips on growing Boxwood Basil, check out this information at eHow.com.

Welcoming Autumn

It’s hard to believe fall is already here! I’m glad it is, though…I love the rich colors of autumn–bright orange pumpkins, mums that bloom in rusty reds and vivid purples, and changing leaves in all kinds of brilliant, beautiful colors.

I found lots of wonderfully inspiring autumn decorating ideas to help welcome in the season at BetterHomesandGardens.comsome of which I’m posting here. Hope you find some ideas you can use in your own home!

This beautiful Cornucopia Wreath (pictured above) sounds pretty easy to make…just attach leaves, miniature pumpkins, squashes, and gourds to a foam wreath form using wire and a hot glue gun.

Do you have any bittersweet or Chinese lanterns growing in your fall garden? To make this wreath, just strip the leaves from the bittersweet vines and Chinese lantern stems, then bend and twist the vines into a circle. Wrap the vines circle around a wire wreath form, then tuck in the Chinese lanterns, securing stems and loose pods with dots of hot glue.

This Gourd-and-Vine Wreath is made by attaching colorful long-necked gourds to a simple vine wreath with raffia or wire. Add some colorful berry sprays and a ribbon or raffia bow to finish it off.

Here’s an easy-to-make leaf wreath. Use colorful fresh leaves from your yard or pliable dried ones from your local craft store. Cut a slit in the center of each leaf with small scissors (you can cut several at once). String the leaves onto a wire wreath form until full, and hang on a door or wall with an autumn-color ribbon.

Hanging pinecone bunches make a nice fall door decoration, too. Just hot-glue the flat end of some smaller-sized pinecones around a 3-inch wide plastic foam ball, then tie a bow and hot-glue it onto the ball (you’ll also need enough ribbon to make a loop to hang this on your door… you could loop the ribbon around the center of your bow before you glue it onto the pinecone ball). For an extra-special touch, hang your family monogram from a ribbon, too.

I love this idea of hanging a wreath on the back of a chair with an elegant velvet ribbon!

White pumpkins make a nice arrangement with rustic twigs and pretty mums.

What a nice, welcoming display to have in your front yard…a wheelbarrow filled with pumpkins, gourds, and bittersweet vines!

You can make some pretty potted arrangements with a variety of autumn plants and flowers.

And don’t forget the ornamental Kale…isn’t it beautiful?

Last but not least, here’s a great idea for your entryway…fill a decorative container with pumpkins. gourds, Indian Corn, and mums!

You’ll find these and many other ideas at BetterHomesandGardens.com. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have to run to the store and get some mums and pumpkins now… 🙂

Remembering the Daisies

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Is is possible that summer is almost over? I will remember this summer as the summer of The Move and the hottest summer I’ve known in Arkansas. And I’ll remember how much I loved seeing the daisies begin blooming in my garden every June. Early in the month, they would start opening up, like little bursts of sunshine, along the back fence. I planted the Shasta Daisies from an inexpensive packet of seeds. I usually don’t have great success with seeds, but these sprouted right up and bloomed for several months that first summer. The next year there were even more daisies. After a few years, I started thinning the daisies out and giving them to friends to plant in their own gardens.

This particular daisy was one of the first that bloomed this summer. Little did I know when I took this picture in early June that a month later my house would be sold! I put it up for sale at the end of June, thinking that it might sell by next spring with the housing market being so slow. Much to my surprise, the house sold in a week! At first I was excited that it sold so fast, but then reality set in…I have a month to find a new place to live and move! Yikes!

The first two weeks of apartment-hunting were pretty discouraging. Nothing that I liked was available when I needed it. Rent was higher than I thought it would be. An apartment community I was interested in had an apartment available, but it was too small. Things were not looking good.

Then, the third week of my search, an apartment I could realistically fit into suddenly opened up at a place I really liked. My house was inspected and I didn’t have to repair or replace anything. Things were looking up!  The move was still pretty crazy, though. I didn’t realize how much “stuff” I had collected while living in my little house. I donated a lot of things to Goodwill. It felt good to do some “downsizing.” There’s nothing like a Move to make you want to get rid of things–especially when you’re moving in 105 degree heat! You certainly don’t want to be lugging things around that you don’t need or use.

I’m pretty settled in my apartment now, and I’m enjoying this new place that will be my home for the next year or two. Friends ask me if I miss the house. I don’t really…it wasn’t my “dream” house. It was a nice little home that I enjoyed living in for the time I was there. But it felt like the right time to sell and move. And I certainly don’t miss mowing the lawn 🙂 But I do miss the flowers sometimes. I had flowers that bloomed from early spring to late fall…it was always a delight to watch them bloom each season.

And the daisies were one of my favorites.

A Surprise in my Garden

Now that we’re well into fall, I’ve been getting the garden ready for winter little by little. As I have time, I trim and clear the flower beds of dried stems and leaves so they’ll look a little neater over winter. As I was clearing one bed recently, I saw what looked like part of a cantaloupe under the leaves of another bushy plant. How would a cantaloupe get in my flower bed? I wondered. When I cleared away some of the growth covering this strange object, I discovered that it was indeed a nice round little cantaloupe still attached to the vine! I didn’t plant any cantaloupe seeds in my garden-I actually have tried to grow melons before, but with no success. So it must have grown from seeds in my compost pile. All year long, I continue to add coffee grounds, fresh fruit and vegetable scraps (including seeds), and plant clippings to the compost pile in my yard. This spring, I had a nice amount of rich, moist compost to spread around my flower beds. And without me realizing it, this cantaloupe vine had started growing in one of the beds, mostly hidden by other bigger plants. What a fun surprise! I felt a little sense of accomplishment as I picked the melon off the vine in my garden, even though I hadn’t really done anything to cause it to grow. So, I am resolving next year to try growing melons again!

In case you’re wondering what those other cuttings are in the basket, they are blooms from my garlic chive plants that are in the process of drying out. In the fall, I collect the seeds from the dried chive blooms. I plant these the following spring to grow more chive plants and also give the seeds to friends who plant them in their yards. Chives are so easy to grow and it’s great to have them growing all summer long so you can use them fresh when you cook and bake things! Finely chopped chives are also good mixed in cream cheese or scrambled eggs. Here’s a close-up of the chive bloom–those little black rounded shapes in the upper right of the photo are the seeds…

I haven’t cut open the cantaloupe yet…I want to admire it a little longer before I do! 🙂