Monday, June 4, 2012

Heritage Plants

As I tentatively re-enter the world of blogging, I thought we could start where I have been spending most of my time lately: the Gardens.
Our home is a little cottage on a two acre lot and while it's an old house with many needed fixes it came with the most beautiful gardens I could possibly imagine.

Before I delve into the treasure that is my garden, I thought I would give you a brief understanding of the importance of plants in my life.
One day a young father told me he was off to get his girls their spring pedicures. I looked at him blankly. He was surprised at my response and said "Don't you get your spring pedicure every year?! Isn't that a thing all you girls do to prepare for flipflop season?!" I looked back at him blankly. I didn't know why this question surprised me so much, since it is not unthinkable or illogical to splurge on a pedicure before revealing your little toes to the world each year. The realization hit me as mother's day rolled around and I thought of my mom. The Spring manicure and pedicure I had grown accustomed to involved every single nail bed being generously coated in a thick dark rich dirt. Spring means getting out the "old" pair of sneakers. The ones with no arch and the hole in the front toe. Throwing on that old pair of jeans with grass stains down the front and holes in the knees. Tossing your unkept hair in a sloppy pony tail or under an old baseball hat. Slathering on some sunscreen and bugspray and getting down on your hands and knees to til the old soil and weathered beds to make them new again. The coming of spring meant GARDENING.

I grew up with my mother's stories of growing up in upstate NewYork. How they bought a house there that had been used as a dump by the previous owners. They cleaned every trash heep and made it a garden. The way she described their treasured home always made me think of something out of a movie. The great pond stocked with fish and ducks and the large Weeping Willow protecting it from the warm sun. She had endless stories about growing up there and how she cut fresh flowers in the morning and scattered them in vases all around their home. 
Later my grandparents moved to the mountains in Pennsylvania and began a new life there. My mother always said it couldn't compare to their old home, but to us it was magic. Acres of land with a dug pond and fresh springs, sweet peas, blue flag irises, bull frogs, grapes, and everything you can imagine.
When I think of my grandmother I think of roses. She always had a rose garden. My grandfather was quite the gardener as well. He knew the best way to make grape jelly was to mix his Concord grapes with wild grapes so you had the perfect combination of sweet and tart. He also was an avid blueberry picker and could come home with 10 buckets to my 1.

A couple years ago and after my grandfather's passing, my grandmother decided she needed to pack her bags and move to NH to live with my uncle. She left behind their motel that had been sold years ago, their pond that was dug by my grandfather, her rose gardens, my grandpa's grapes, their peach tree, and so much more on their enourmous lot in the mountains. My mother and I seemed to have more memories associated with the gardens than anything in the house.While family members sifted through her furniture, china, etc. to collect their cherished memories of the old house, my mother, aunt, and I rooted through the gardens digging up numerous plants and throwing them into plastic bags with the addition of some dirt. Among my memories I collected a bleeding heart, knockout rose, and even a Helleborus dumetorum or what Grandma called "the Irish plant." It has a subtle beauty and is one of the first blooms after the dismal days of February and March.

 They had an enormous variety of Irises and I grabbed quite a few. Last year they were still recouperating from the transplant so this year the great reveal took place. I couldn't recall what I had gathered that day in the frenzy of packing, moving, and digging. This year I was met with an amazing surprise, PURPLES. Ever aesthetically minded, I had selected 3 varieties of purple irises and when they bloomed this year I was instantly in love.With each bloom I thought of my Grandpa, lover of nature, explorer, and gardener.

They are a perfect compliment to my blue flag Irises.
I have 3 varieties that came with the house and though they take the majority of one of my beds I can't imagine parting with any of them! They are very low maintenance and look like grasses when their season ends.

I also relocated my Grandma's knock out  rose to my main garden beds this year.
Of course as soon as it bloomed I saw that it's bright pink color (that I love) didn't match anything else. So I made an emergency trip to the greenhouse and picked up some complementary pinks. 
I also added some Rasberry Wine Bee Balm this year that should compliment all these when it blooms.
Here is my gardener in training riding next to my new Bee Balm.

Do you enjoy to garden or fear that you have a black thumb? What role do plants play in your family history?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The DIY that stole my heart

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!!
Which DIY stole your heart this year?

Will you be my DIY? 2012

I thought I would revisit the "Will you be my DIY?" post and share my favorite DIYs and tutorials for Valentine's Day 2012.
Hope you enjoy.

1. Crunch Photo Valentine- I love this variation on the lolipop photo valentine by Andrea.

2. Photo bookmark- I can see both Grandmas using this bookmark by Suzonne for years to come!

3. I'm a sucker for Super Heros. No pun intended.. Thanks for this awesome idea Zakka Life.

4. This is literally the cutest thing EVER. You open the hand and he's blowing kisses. TOO CUTE!
Check out the tutorial here.

5. I am very pro any valentine that doesn't include candy. This is a great idea! You can be the healthy mom, but still be a cool a mom. Thanks for the idea, Bree!
6. These are super cute arrows. Though I am imagining them done as Pixy Sticks. Which I think would make them even awesomer. Here's the fancy pants tutorial.

7. An Airplane! Come on now. That's awesome. Way-to-go Disney.

8. I had to include the Lolipop gang. Props to this mom, since it's one of the only ones I've seen where the kids are actually smiling!

9. HOLY CUTENESS! Hershey's Robots! I LOVE THEM! Thanks Reagan!

10. This one is especially sweet to me because my dad used to call me Pooh Bear and Honey Bunny, because I LOVED honey and.... I still do!  Thanks for the template Calli!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lasting Lovies

I made my niece this Molly Monkey doll back in 2010!
Here she is still loving on her two years later.

I made my nephew a Super Kid cape and Super Monkey back in 2010. Here he is enjoying them both then and now.


Have you had the pleasure of watching your creations loved over the years?

Happy Storm Trooper!

Here is the birthday boy!

 He is being Hans Solo pretending to be a Storm Trooper. He had to pose with a gun for the full effect. (Good thing he was able to whip one up out of Lego blocks in no time at all.)
He was very happy with the new characters as well.

 I even added a Sand Person at the last minute. He requested some additional bad guy robots as well as "twentyfourty" more storm troopers and fifteen more Jawaws.
He was very pleased with the eye choice for the Jawaw and stated that they do indeed have gold eyes. I also made weapons for them and he was quite satisfied with their accuracy to the movie. So overall we had a happy camper!

I love that he understands that these are custom made for him! Can you imagine opening a store bought gift and requesting revised weaponry, additional characters, etc. to your own desired specifications!

This is what makes handmade gifts so special! They are custom made just for you!

Have you made a handmade creation for someone recently? How did you customize it to meet their particular interests, desires, etc.

Braided Infinity

For Christmas I also wanted to make a "younger" looking scarf for my two sister-in-laws.
I came across a braided scarf tutorial on pinterest and got to work. Unfortunately the tutorial had me literally pulling my hair out, so I thought I would post my own tutorial that addresses some of the issues and allows for a more polished result.

Again, I wanted to make two scarves from the same fabric so I simply cut it in half width wise. This left me with four 11"x 36" strips.
The pink scarf above was made from some leftover spandexy, velvety fabric I had lying around. I fudged around an just made a width and length I felt comfortable with. You can also use two medium sized t-shirts.
The green scarf below was made from standard cotton fabric from JoAnns.

Braided Infinity Scarf Tutorial
Take two pieces of fabric and sew them (right sides together) to make a tube. I used 1/4" seams. Leave about a two inches untouched on either end.

Do this again using the other two pieces of fabric.

Turn both tubes right side out.

Take a random strip of fabric and tie the ends of the two tubes together. Now you will have two circles.

You are now ready for your knot.
The knot was VERY confusing to figure out. I actually got my husband's help and practiced on two pieces of string.
Hopefully, I can describe it clearly.

Knotting the Scarf

Put the knotted end of circle A through the unknotted end of circle B
Then take the knotted end of circle A and pull it up on top of the unknotted end of circle A.
Now take the knotted end of circle B and put that through the center of everything (where the arrow is)
Now pull each knotted end.

It should end up looking like this:

Closing the Scarf 
 I left side openings on each tube like below:
 please ignore the tulle inside the tubes, I tried it for extra volume, but it didn't look good.

 I then sewed the ends of each tube together. Matching right sides together.

It's fairly awkward to pin together and sew, but ends up with the best result.

Then you have a finished seam across the scarf. All you have left is to pin up the sides and hand stitch them.

Good Luck!!

Forever and Ever Scarf

This is my beautiful mother sporting the new Infinity scarf I made her for Christmas.

She always forgets what they are called so she calls it her "forever and ever scarf."
This photo also includes the doll quilt I made for my niece in the background.

I used this tutorial. The fabric I used was stardard cotton fabric found at JoAnns. I made mine slightly narrower than the tutorial so I could make two scarves out of one piece of fabric. I simply cut the fabric in half width wise to make my two matching scarves. I gave one to each of my Moms. (my mom and mother-in-law)

My mom is a teacher so she loves light weight colorful/ statement making accessories to jazz up practical work attire. She is anxious to make another for herself!

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