Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our Ordinary Miracle

For the past 15 years I've purchased baby caterpillars to observe with my students. When my son turned 3 I started bringing this activity home. So, every summer we buy our container of caterpillars from Insectlore (online catalog).

When the container arrives in the mail, the kids are full of excitement. The caterpillars are tiny. There is a layer of caterpillar food on the bottom of the container.

Then it starts to get disgusting. The caterpillars were so cute when they were tiny. When they get bigger, they leave poop all over the container and in the food. It's just plain gross. Stick with me. I promise the miracle will happen soon.

Pretty soon the caterpillars start to hang upside down and a chrysalis forms around them.

Then, I moved them over to the butterfly home.

When the butterflies first emerge, their wings are crumpled. The dye from their wings looks like blood, but I usually just explain to the kids that it's like paint for the Painted Lady Butterfly's wings.

It really is like watching a miracle. It never gets old and the kids absolutely love releasing their butterflies into the garden.

It's magic, watching our ordinary miracle.

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shed Progress

I was so excited to post about my dream shed (picture from Country Gardens)...

and then the picture from the Costco coupon book, showing the shed we bought. Here is the original post. I know you're thinking, "Um, I hate to break it to you, but that's NOT the same shed." Well, Costco may not have the cute factor, but they certainly have the right price! Just close your eyes and picture turning that boring beige shed into the Country Gardens shed! It's totally doable.

Here's the side area of our yard that has been picked out as the perfect spot to put the shed. Our house is L-shaped so this is the weird little unused corner of the yard. We haven't done any landscaping to this area because I wanted the shed first and yard and flowers second. Don't you think it is just calling out for the cute little red shed?

The shed arrived a few months ago and it sat in the driveway waiting for the rain to stop and our lives to slow down a bit.

The place I want the shed to go had to be leveled and needed a retaining wall. I will admit, I never lifted a shovel or a brick. My hubby did it all. He had a vision of what he wanted and this was one part I really didn't care about, so he just made it happen. Ahhh, I love it when that happens.

The shed itself is almost done. It still needs a roof, trim, and red paint (oooooh, I'm so excited for the red paint). Even though the building is almost done, there is so much left to do in this area. It has been neglected for so long. We need grass, landscaping, flowers, a pathway, pea gravel around the base, and the list goes on. It'll be an ongoing project this summer.

One more look at the dream:

I can't decide what to do first, paint the outside or start planning out how to use the space on the inside. Either way, I can't wait to get started.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Road Side Find

Last week my son and I were out taking our dog for a morning walk. At the end of the road there was a FREE sign. Among the pile of wall hangings, landscape bricks, and a basketball hoop, was this big and very heavy flower pot.

There was no way I was going to be able to carry this heavy pot home, so I called my husband to drive over and pick up the pot. There were even some pretty landscape pavers in the bottom of the pot. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my new treasures.

I have a little nook in my yard that needed a little pick-me-up. The bird house was made by my stepdad many years ago. The stump was here when we bought the house. I kept trying to figure out how I was going to get rid of it, but then finally decided to just put it to use.

I found the little wooden crates in my garage, drilled a few holes in the bottom, and they became little planters.

I used the little landscape rocks to create an area for my planter to sit on. I love the way this little nook turned out. It was just empty space before, and now it's blooming with color. I still can't believe someone wanted to get rid of that beautiful pot. I can't imagine how much they paid for it. Well, the price was right for me... FREE!

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home and Family Friday and a New Planter

If you're here for the Home and Family Friday Linky Party, you're in the right place. First, I have a new project to share with you.

I'm really excited about my new planter. I've had the container for a long time, so long I don't even remember where it can from.

I have moved it from room to room, never finding a good place for it. I always loved the chippy white paint and the rust showing through. The problem is, that I don't have any other pieces like this. When it goes to a new place, it stands out like a sore thumb. The white just didn't blend with any of my things.

Enter my favorite decorating tools:
Black Spray Paint

I painted the wire basket with black spray paint and then lined the basket with burlap. The burlap will allow for drainage, hold the dirt in place, and add...well, burlap, and who doesn't love burlap!!!

Add a few cheery yellow flowers.

It's the perfect centerpiece for the kids' picnic table.

The combination of black wire, burlap, checks, and the yellow flowers just thrills me to no end. I love how it turned out.

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Red, White, and Blue Cottage Inspiration

Back when AnNicole had her How I Met My House party, I wrote a post and realized I had no current pictures of the front of my house. My house has changed since we first moved in. It has evolved from low maintenance shrubs to the cottage garden I have always wished for.

Here's the before photo (from the original brochure when it was for sale):

Here's the picture I took this morning:

In a few more weeks the window boxes will start spilling over.

Most of the flowers are not in bloom yet.

Usually by the Fourth of July, my front yard is at its peak. Seeing the difference in the before and after, even without the blooms, made me start thinking about the transformation process, my inspiration, and how it came to be.

First off, I should say I'm addicted to HGTV and DIY network. I love watching Landscape Smart, Yard Crashers, Desperate Landscapes, and Curb Appeal. I also love to check books out from the library and browse through landscape ideas. Country Gardens Magazine is where most of my inspiration comes from. They do a perfect job of integrating found objects, antiques, and the look of a cottage, country, or farm home.

Once I had an idea of what I wanted my yard to look like in my head, I had to figure out what the flowers were called. I knew many of the names, but asked my local nursery for help figuring out what to plant and where to plant it.

I love my hanging baskets and window boxes. I think they make my house stand out from the other houses in the neighborhood. They are a little extra work, but worth it.

I decided to go with a red, white, and blue color scheme because of the red door and the color of my house. I also have a party on the Fourth of July each year and it's the perfect setting. Later in the summer I usually add a little pale yellow, just so my house doesn't scream, "Happy 4th of July!" into September.

But since the Fourth is just around the corner, the flag is the perfect finishing touch.

How about you? Where did your inspiration come from and what colors do you use?

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jam and Cream Cheese Braid

Don't you just want to reach through your screen and take a bite? This is a recipe that my grandma always made on Christmas. It quickly became a favorite in our family. I mean, how can you go wrong with cream cheese filling? It was destined to be a favorite.

This recipe is really simple and it is made the night before you serve it. There is such joy in pulling something this beautiful out of the oven and knowing that the dishes are already done.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 Cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 Cups Bisquick (I told you it was simple!)
1 beaten egg
1 Tbsp sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Combine all ingredients to make the dough for the bread part of the braid. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until it is no longer sticky.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Roll the dough into a 14"x9" rectangle.

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients. Spread the filling down the middle third of the dough.

Slice the outer edges of the dough in one inch strips.

Fold the strips over the filling at an angle.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Once the braid is out of the oven, it's time to top it with a little homemade raspberry jam.

It cooks for about 5 more minutes. Then it is the perfect golden brown, with the warm raspberry jam rolling down the sides.

I have the perfect tray for serving my jam and cheese braid. I've had this piece for years and I think this is the only thing I serve in it.

It's the perfect Sunday morning treat.

Happy baking!

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

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