Spring is in the air!


Hi Y’all!  I just wanted to post a picture of the spring flower arrangement I made.  I bought the pussy willow from Whole Foods a while ago for about $5.99 and let it dry out.  If you keep it in water it will root and plant it from there.  I recently bought the  tulips from Trader Joe’s for about $4.99 – I love buying Trader Joe’s flowers, they’re so cheap!

 

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Basically  I just put the pussy willow branches in a big old vintage mason jar we found when cleaning out my grandmother’s house.  I was a little worried the tulips would be too small for the jar, but the pussy willow limbs create a structure to keep the tulips from falling down too far in the water.  I just kind of put the tulips in there – in whatever position I thought looked good.  I like to go for a natural-looking feel.  And there you have it – a dramatic Spring arrangement for a little over $10.  It took me less than 10 minutes to create!

 

And a brief update on my mason jar herb garden…

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My cilantro is doing very well as seen in the picture above… the thyme and basil not so much.  I think I overwatered it which is what I always do wrong!! I should know better.  Oh well, no one is perfect.  Matt and I are going to Ireland next week, so I think I will use the seeds I saved to start over when we get back.  Have a great Tuesday!!

 

 

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Garden in a Jar


Hi y’all!  I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and had time to make our Homemade Peanut Butter Egg and Deviled Egg recipes.  We would love to hear any feedback if you did and don’t forget to follow our blog!  Matt and I had a pretty relaxed Easter – just went to church, had some Mimosas, played with Airlie dog, and did some more planning for our upcoming trip to Ireland in May!  We don’t dress up often so we figured we’d take a picture:

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One thing I’ve been wanting to do is to start a herb garden.  Usually I buy herb plants from the NC Farmer’s Market here in Raleigh, but this year I thought I’d try to grow my own from the start… we’ll see how it goes!  Hopefully the three generations of green-thumbers in our family can send their powers my way.  Matt and I took a little trip to a local Garden Supply store in Raleigh called Logan’s Trading Company.  We love going there and perusing the aisles of cool plants, envisioning what our yard is going to look like once we finally find the perfect home to buy (that’s been an adventure in itself!).  They had avocado trees, fig trees, and pomegranate trees… I totally intend on buying one of each once we have a yard of our own!

Before we got started with the herb garden Matt re-potted some of our houseplants.  The one you see below is a Madagascar Palm – it’s very hard to kill because it requires very little water.  Beware of the sharp thorns! Basically to re-pot it, Matt just removed it from the old pot, broke up the root ball a bit, then used fresh sandy soil and put it in the new pot.  We also got worm castings and sprinkled them on top as a natural fertilizer (I’ll talk about that later!).

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Now on to the mason jar herb garden…

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I used 3 mason jars that I already had.

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I bought 3 packets of seeds.  I LOVE fresh cilantro in salsa (need a great salsa recipe?).  I also love to top pasta dishes with thyme and goat cheese, and finally fresh basil makes me happy and is easy to grow.  Pick whatever herbs you think you’ll use the most!

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Since we didn’t drill holes in the bottom of the jars for drainage, I put wine corks in one (about 1/3 from the bottom of the jar) and river rocks in the other two jars.  This will create a place for water to go so the soil doesn’t get too wet and rot the roots.

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Then I filled the rest of the jar with soil, up to just about 1″ from the top of the rim. See how the rocks/ corks allow room for air in the bottom?

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After reading the seed packets for directions, they said to plant the seeds 1/2″ below the soil.  I just sprinkled about 1/2 of the seeds on top of the soil.  I figured some of the seeds wouldn’t actually sprout and I wanted to improve my chances of growing some herbs, which is why I sprinkled more than I technically should have.  I’m storing the rest of the seeds in case these don’t grow well!

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Then I covered the seeds with a thin layer of soil and then some worm castings to help them grow! We bought a bag of worm castings from Logan’s for about $20.  It’s a great organic fertilizer to use.  Hopefully later this Spring I’ll make some time to start my own little vermiculture setup (a.k.a. worm farming).  Sound gross?? Yes!  But my friend has a little set up and it’s not that bad.  I’d rather do that than continue to pay $20 for a bag of the worm castings!

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Finally, I simply wrote the name on the mason jar lid and put it under the jar to make sure I don’t get my little herb plants mixed up.

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My herbs require full sun and it just so happens that mason jars fit perfectly in a window sill.  I’ll keep y’all updated to see how my herbs are growing… they should take 10-15 days to sprout, so check back in!  Matt and I also planted some arugula in outdoor planters.  Check back for that post soon as well.  If you need other mason jar ideas, they’re great for drinkin’ beer.  Airlie agrees too!

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It’s Fall Y’all!


It’s finally starting to feel like Fall with cooler days, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice everything!  Fall is by far my most favorite time of the year and I was so happy to see my favorite season is in full force at the NC State Farmer’s Market.  This time last year I had just moved to Raleigh from Northern Virginia and found myself in a pickle because all of my Fall decorations were in our storage unit.  I didn’t want to invest in Fall decorations I’d have to store somewhere and got an idea… why not use natural materials to decorate?  My grandmother DaGa, mom, and aunts always used natural materials to decorate for the holidays, whether it was using magnolia leaves for wreaths or winter berries in a vase.

The farmer’s market had so many different types of pumpkins and gourds!  I found myself amazed at how the colors and textures varied. So now for the hard part… which to choose for my decorations…

Pumpkins don’t just come in orange anymore!

Gourds, gourds everywhere (and only 2 for $1)!

Can it be? Gourds that look like watermelon?

Even gourds that look like a goose?

Bumpy pickle gourds…

Apple gourds?!?!

White “Lumina Pumpkins”…

Gray pumpkins?

Pumpkins with warts…

Pastel pumpkins…

And finally giant pumpkins!

It took a while, but I finally picked out what I wanted, partially because I had so much fun taking pictures (sorry if I went overboard!).  Here are some ways I used natural materials to decorate for Fall.  The best part is that they will last through Thanksgiving and you don’t have to worry about storing them anywhere!

Stacked pumpkins: I got these pumpkins that are flatter at the farmer’s market and stacked them in a pot by our front door.  Just cut off the stems and stack them on top of each other.

Airlie is proud of her pumpkin topiary!

Decorating with gourds: I also got some funky looking gourds and put them in a woven basket on my coffee table… very easy and festive as well! I didn’t have to spend a dime on a container I already had.

Using apples: I bought some Fuji apples from the farmer’s market as well and piled them in a trifle bowl.  Now I have easy access to the apples and it looks cute on my table!

If you’re looking to spruce up your yard, now is the time to plant…

Pansies…

And mums!  These plants can stand up to very cool weather and add a pop of color!  Gardener’s tip from my mom – snap off the “dead heads” (dead flowers) at the top of the stem to help your mums continue to bloom.

Happy Fall Decorating!

Flower Arranging 101


Something that always brightens my day is a beautiful vase of flowers.  I feel like sometimes I get tired of the decor in my kitchen or dining room, but once I get a vase full of flowers it already feels warmer and prettier.  We usually had flowers growing up somewhere in our house and my mom was very creative with arranging them.  She took a floral design class while a student at Virginia Tech and taught me the basics of creating an arrangement.

I was able to test my floral design skills around age 12 when I entered some arrangements in the Culpeper Farm Show  (yes, there is such a thing as a “Farm Show” and believe it or not I entered lots of things in it!).  I think I entered about 4 arrangements my first year and won best of show for one of them.  Growing up we got our flowers from our back yard, DaGa’s yard, or along the side of the road.  Some of my favorite flowers to use were Queen Anne’s Lace and Butterfly Weed which would require us to grab a bucket of water and clippers, pile into our Jeep, and drive up and down the country roads with our heads out the windows trying to spot a patch of these flowers in the ditch without getting hit by a car.

When I got to college I took the same floral design class as my mom (and I’m pretty sure I had the same professor my mom had… he looked ancient) mainly because I wanted a fun class and we got to take the flowers home.  I ended up not really liking the class because I felt we made more funeral-looking arrangements that were too structured and not very natural looking.   I think I learned much more from my mom than that professor!

Anyways, this past Saturday I was making my weekly stop at the NC State Farmer’s Market and decided to pick up some flowers.  There are always several cut flower stands to choose from and they generally have similar flowers and prices.  The bouquet above is one I got on my first trip to the farmer’s market when I moved to Raleigh, NC back in October 2011.  It contained sunflowers, fresh basil, and some small purple flowers similar to clover.  The best part is that it was only $5!  The flowers that I got Saturday were $10 and consisted of Zinnias, Oriental Lilies, Sedum (I think?), and some other flowers I have not yet identified. Zinnias are my favorite because they are easy to grow from seed, come in beautiful colors, and look super cute in an old mason jar.

What you need for a good flower arrangement are the following:

  • A tall, dramatic flower
  • Medium-sized flowers of similar or contrasting colors
  • Smaller flowers for a “filler”
  • Greenery (or leaves)
  • Clippers
  • A vase or container (I got my vase as a wedding gift from Crate and Barrel… it’s the perfect size!)

First Important Tip  – cut all stems to length at a 45 degree angle.  This increases the surface area so the flower can absorb more water and ultimately last longer! Even if the stems have already been cut at this angle, cut them again!

Second Important Tip –  Remove the lower foliage from the stems that might be covered in water when you put the stem in the vase.  If you don’t, it will start to rot and most likely decrease your arrangement life by a few days.  You don’t want to remove all of the foliage, just what might be sitting in water.

Third Important Tip – I think this is the most important tip, so listen closely.  Think in terms of ODD numbers.  For instance for your taller flower, use one or three , or five of them to get your shape.  If you use even numbers it just doesn’t look right… I’m not quite sure but it doesn’t!

So here I have my 3 flowers of visual interest – the sedum, lilly, and dahlia.

I put them in my vase and then add in the zinnias, using 5-7 throughout the arrangement.  Since this arrangement is for the middle of my dinner table and will be seen from all sides.  I want it to look good from ALL sides, not just the front.

Then I add in my other smaller flowers to fill in the arrangement.  You might be thinking at this point, “Wow this really looks terrible, maybe I should have just gone to the florist and spent the 50$ for an arrangement!” but DON’T!  It will look better I promise you, you’re not done yet!

Then add in the filler flowers.  Use as many as you like or have.  I still recommend using odd numbers.  You want to fill in the holes in the visual space of the arrangement and give it some type of shape.  Do not cut all the flower stems the same length.  What makes an arrangement interesting are when there are different textures and depths to the flowers.

Finally, add in your greenery, but not too much.  You want to add just enough to give the arrangement some depth and shape.

Once that’s finished, take a final look from all sides and trim stems that might be sticking out too far.  Add water to the vase if you haven’t already, usually lukewarm is preferred because it stimulates the flowers to open up more.  For best results change your water daily and the arrangement will last much longer.

Enjoy your beautiful arrangement!  Your family and friends will be super impressed and your bank account will thank you for saving money on this DIY project!