Sunday, July 6, 2014

GROWING the GARDEN

I am amazed every year, late June to mid July, when the garden EXPLODES with color and everything really takes off.  The scrawny tomato plants of a few weeks ago, are now taller than I am.  Everyday the garden changes and everyday new things flower and bloom.
When I was a child, we had neighbors that had enormous (or at least my memory of it was enormous) gardens full of vegetables and oodles of beautiful flowers. Our neighbors were always working in their gardens, from early spring through the fall. Growing up, my family was always the happy recipient of their good gardening efforts. Now that I have my very own garden, I like growing the same flowers as our neighbor, Mr.Wegert grew.   There's nothing like smelling the familiar fragrances from childhood (the good ones) that take you right back to being eight years old in an instant.
The garden is a great lesson for my own children.  They see how much care and work it takes to grow plants form seed.
These tomatoes are the promise of a delicious dinner in the not so distant future!  Nothing beats a homegrown tomato.
Currently I'm on a "propagating" kick.  Propagating plants in case you are unfamiliar, is the act of making new plants from the cuttings of old plants. It's a whole lot like photocopying or cloning a plant.  Not all plants can be propagated...so I'm starting out with the most hardy and fool-proof varieties.  I don't know if it will work or not, but I am giving it my best shot.
I have a whole tray of lilac, Annabelle hydrangea, viburnum and boxwood... I have to be patient, which is especially hard for me since I am not a patient person.  It will take at least 4-6 weeks to see if roots are forming...  If it works, I will do a post about how I went about it...  Until then, please enjoy the views of my garden... I wish you could smell it too...trust me, it's fantastic!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

FIRECRACKERS

Our July 4th was fantastic.  The weather was just 
e-x-a-c-t-l-y what I would choose,...if I were in charge of choosing the weather...  Cool, breezy, sunny and 72 degrees with little white, wispy clouds aloft, it was absolutely perfect for a Fourth of July kind of day.
The kiddos had an amazing time at a community gathering to celebrate Independence Day... 
I changed the settings on my camera... and tried my hand at capturing the fireworks at night.  I took just a handful good pictures out of the many I snapped. I think using a tripod would have helped my cause tremendously.  At any rate, it was fun experimenting with my camera, and I learned a few things I definitely will try out next time.  The fireworks and the music were tremendous, a great ending to a wonderful birthday party for the USA.
This is what the Fourth of July is all about for me, enjoying my family and seeing it through my children's eyes.
Earlier in the day I made my kiddos a Fourth of July treat.  They recently discovered the delicious goodness of Rolos.  They had somehow overlooked the caramel and chocolate treats all these years until a few weeks ago, and  WOW, they were a big hit.  If I recall correctly... there was even a heated debate over who should AND would get the very last Rolo left in the package.  
For fun, I fashioned our new packages of Rolos into firecracker favors using scrap crafting paper and a few sparkle pipe cleaners. These turned out to looking more like an old fashioned bottle rockets...  Very cute and very in-keeping with the holiday. In no time at all, they had a festive treat, and this time, they each got their very own roll...there will certainly be no fighting this time.
My supplies:
 I secured the pipe cleaners to the candy, first bending them in half to make four streamers.
 I then rolled the paper around the cand and taped it.
Make a topper ( like a party hat-cone shaped).  Tape it to the top of the candy.
Curl the pipe cleaners using a pencil or your finger.
 Bend the streamers in different directions so it looks as if it's moving.
These would be great as party favors for a crowd... easy enough for the kids to assemble too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A PATRIOTIC FOURTH of JULY

I LOVE the Fourth of July. Period. End of story, it's the best!
(in my humble opinion)
I think the reason why I LOVE our Independence Day so very much is that it's a carefree, do-it-yourself kind of holiday.  There are no expectations, no gifts, no obligations to meet, no crowds in the stores... it's not terribly commercialized.... and hopefully it won't ever be so.   It's kind of a throwback to simpler times....patriotism, parades, picnics, warm weather, great music and fireworks.  July Fourth is a casual day to spend with whomever you like, friends and family, neighbors...whatever...there are no rules for the Fourth!!   Celebrating our great nation is an honor and remembering how lucky and blessed we are to live in the USA, is reason enough to celebrate everyday. Independence Day is my favorite holiday, always has been...and probably always will be...
A patriotic welcome.
As with most other holidays...I like to decorate... the patriotic and timeless American flag is such an easy and great way to get ready for this holiday in particular.  Gathered as a collection of old antique flags or standing alone in a pot of red geraniums, flags looks fabulous either way!
In the kitchen we have an old hutch that I love to decorate with the seasons.  It gets a full accompaniment of flags, antique postcards and patriotic baubles.
 I pick up antique postcards with strong, bold graphics.... I like to frame them and add them to buffets, and place settings.  I don't mind if the corners are a little dogeared.  Once they are in a matted frame they look fabulous and often the corners are covered by the matte.

 I found this cute little metal calendar at the Country Living Fair one fall not too long ago... it's one of my favorite finds ever...it never goes out of style... it's always up to date....
The tinsel picks in the stripped little pail look like fireworks to me.  They make a great addition to food trays, sandwiches and fizzy drinks this time of year.
For postcards that I don't frame, I use place card holders to display them. General George is in a snowflake holder, but I thought it looked a lot like a star...so it gets double duty at Christmastime and now...Christmas in July...
The kitchen table gets wildflowers in a painted red tin... Please and thank you on the wild flowers...all summer long I adore them and all summer long the varieties change.  No two bouquets are ever alike, and I just love that... gorgeous and not pretentious...an absolute favorite of mine.  I get them from our own yard when I can and other times I pick some up at the farmers market...either way, say YES to the wildflowers.
For the center island in the kitchen, I used a flag panel as a runner.  They are usually where the flags are sold...around July Fourth, flag displays are easy to come by.  My panel was a find on a thrifting excursion... I often find things off-season and store them until the next holiday.  The flag  provides a nice splash of red, white and blue across the butcher block.

For the family room, this flag holder does the trick....it's from a thrift shop (big surprise)... but one could easily be made from wooden finials at the hardware store and a little craft paint.
 For the dining room I put a collection of flags in a basket... it's a charming and a not too fussy display of patriotism...propping the basket of flags on the cake stand keeps the flags out of the way during dinner.

   For the outside, even the birds are patriots at our house...at least for the day.
Wishing everyone a very happy Independence Day from our home to yours. To all our brave Service Men and Women of the past, the present and the future, a grateful thank you.