In Our House: Mulching and a Perennial

Today was a semi-busy day chez Howard as we had quite a bit to do on the yard work. Jason had to do his annual first mowing, which takes quite a bit of work with a push mower (our lawn tractor is not currently working, so he cut 1/2 acre of very sloping hill today!).

As for me, I took to clearing the grass and weeds from around our two slow-growing trees to help encourage them to grow more. The weeds were wrapped around the bottom of the trunk and keeping them from hitting even their regular growth rate, so this had made them ultra-slow-growing and they look a lot younger than they actually are. I always wondered why people chose to mulch around trees in circles, and now I know. I set off to make some of these mulch circles myself, using an aerator to help me dig up the deep-rooted grass and weeds. Then I mixed Miracle Grow with water and gave our little trees a little extra boost 🙂 To those of you worried about gardening and pregnancy, don’t worry – I took all the proper precautions and wore gloves the entire time. Then, I hit up Home Depot for some black satin mulch. Following a tip from HGTV, I used an entire bag of mulch around the tree and made it about four inches deep (to help keep the weeds from growing underneath). Jason also found some weed barrier, so that was laid underneath the mulch. They turned out pretty well for my first try! This is a picture from the front porch (the house in the background is across the street).

Next, I turned my attention to the front porch. I didn’t want to add anything major since we are hoping to add a deck this summer (which will change the whole look of the front of the house!) but I wanted something pretty to add. I found a cute little metal bird at Dollar General, and I grabbed a cute pot from Home Depot along with a perennial. Add some potting mix, and voila!  A cute little table arrangement 🙂

I love the color of that planter and would like to paint the shutters a darker shade.

Do you guys have any interesting yard stories to tell? I’d love to see some pictures!


Inspiration: “Dreaming of Warm Weather”

When I want inspiration for warm-weather furnishings, I know I can always count on Pottery Barn. Looking through the site, I found a lot of pictures to share with you of great summery finds.

I love this fun coffee table! I think this would be a great coffee table to display your beach finds from a family vacation or all those knickknacks that you don’t want to dust but still want to display.

This picture/chaise lounge makes me want to escape to the ocean, stat.

These pillows are so beachy and fun, and their moderate price means that they are actually affordable to snag to add a bit of ocean coral to your house.

Who doesn’t love an antiquey lantern? The weathered look makes it seem like you made this amazing choice years ago.

I actually had a hard time finding a bedding set I liked out of their new arrivals because the style seems to be big florals in dull colors, and that didn’t scream summer to me at all (let alone style!) but I finally found this toile set, which also looks great in yellow. Paired with the dark wood bed, the blue seems very calming, like the sea.

These keys in varying sizes look great and would help bring a layered look to a room that just has pictures on the wall.

What kind of fun accents have you see lately? What makes you “dream of warm weather”?


Nursery Painting Part 1

I came home today to find this:

Jason has been hard at work trying to get as far as possible on the nursery progress while on Spring Break, but I never expected to come home to him already priming the room!

Because we have laminate trim (and didn’t want to pay the cost of replacing all the trim), we had to use a special primer to coat the laminate. This is just one quick coat of primer (we’ll put on at least another, if not two more). Then we’ll put a couple coats of French White semi-gloss paint by Glidden.

And want a sneak peek of the wall color? It’s called Warm Caramel by Glidden.

There is a lot more to come this weekend, when we will finish up the painting!

Crafty Crafty: Plastic Bag Placemat

What to do with all those pesky plastic grocery bags? We’ve switched over most of the way to reusable bags, but sometimes we just plain forget to bring them or don’t have enough, or we decide to get a few plastic bags to put to other uses. If you didn’t know, plastic bags are made out of oil, making them a hugely wasteful product, and several other countries have outlawed them all together, for oil usage reasons and pollution reasons.

So, what to do? I’m taking a creativity and higher-level thinking class as part of my master’s program, and we were challenged to create something from a household item. I wanted to find a common object that no one had yet explored uses for, so I looked at plastic bags. Hobby Lobby has some great recycling ideas, but they almost all require interfacing and I wanted to limit my creation to just items I could already find in my house. So, I broke out my elementary school weaving skills and made a placemat.

The first thing I did was to create a loom and spool to use to make the weave job easier. I just found an old cardboard box and cut off a side, using a smaller piece for the spool. Make sure you wind your “thread” around the spool short-wise, because long-wise will not unravel while you are weaving.

Next, prepare your plastic bags. This is where things can get really creative if you wish. I used one large Kohl’s bag and three small Kroger bags. I cut off the handles and bottom seam so I was left with a circle of “fabric”, then cut the circle so it lay as one flat piece.

(PS – There apparently is a much easier way of making your plastic bags into weaving material – it’s called plarn! Check out my friend Valerie’s post on Brushes and Thread for better directions!)

The way bags are designed with logos in only specific sections means that if you want, you could only use solid color pieces from the bags. I cut the “thread” into small strips and tied it together, but if you wanted a more seamless look, you could leave the bag as a circle and cut it in a giant spiral, meaning there would only be two connections, which can be woven to face the back side of the placemat. Needless to say, I thought of this AFTER having already cut and tied all my bags. Wind the “thread” around the spool to make your job easier.

You’ll need to cut strips approximately 1-1.5 inches wide and several inches longer than your loom for the cross strings. Make sure to leave just a bit of slack when you string your loom so that your spool will fit between the strings fairly easily.

Next, begin weaving in an over/under fashion, back and forth across the loom, until you have filled as much of the loom as possible (you will not be able to go to the end of the loom since the spool will not fit).

Then, pull the weaving (carefully!) off the loom, and tie the ends together. Tip: If you put your finger next to the knot as you are pulling it tight, it won’t pull too much on the weaving and distort it.

Trim the ends and fan them out, and trim the connections. Make sure to leave a millimeter at the end so the connections don’t pull apart.

And finally, enjoy your finished product! Not bad for some plastic bags, eh?

In Our House: Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?

In this new category “In Our House”, I am going to highlight some of the cool things we have and are doing around our house.

This first highlight (and probably the first few) is showcasing one of the really cool things we got as a wedding gift: a personalized cookie jar!

My mom knows how much I love to cook and bake, and she got me this as part of my shower gift. I absolutely love it! I have already made cookies twice just to put something in it. I can’t wait until the holidays to fill it with lots of yummy-ness! And, yes, it does say “Amanda’s Sweet Treats”!