Thursday, May 31, 2012

A New Flower Bed

We decided to make a flower bed in our yard this spring.  We had an area in our yard where the grass had been struggling for a couple of years so we decided to put a flower bed in the space.  The most interesting part of the project is the border.  It is made from left -over bricks.

If you have any left-over bricks, this is a great way to use
them to make an attractive, durable and inexpensive border for your flower beds
or other landscaping projects. 
 The border is also a great weed/grass barrier. 

So if you have bricks like this, you can turn them into the border like we did.
We used this same idea about 11 years ago when we built our home.  We have used bricks to make borders for all our planted areas in our yard.  My husband said he has even bumped one with the riding lawn mower and the border didn't give way so they are durable.

Here's our problem area as we got started with the project.  We have red clay.  It is very hard and unpleasant to use for gardening.  My husband dug up the area by hand with a pick ax and shovel.

We had already decided on the shrubbery we were going to use.  We selected Helleri Holly (they look like a boxwood-not a prickly holly). We already had some of these growing in our yard and they seem to do well in the clay.  We also wanted to add some summer color, so we got these knock-out roses.  They bloom all summer and many of our neighbors have them, so we felt like they would do well in the new flower bed, too.  Our other purchase was a Japanese bloodgood maple.  We have two of these in our back yard and they have done well.  We have been composting for several years and we used all that wonderful compost to mix into the clay. 

Here's my husband finishing up the planting in the afternoon sun.

The next task was for me to haul bricks from the back of our property.  I know my husband
was going to do this himself, but I don't mind doing things like this. 

After I got the bricks moved to the area where we were
 going to be using them, I needed to get them
placed just right.  This is the most tedious part of the project. 
 You need to put the person who has
an eye for detail on this job (I'll volunteer). 
The better the bricks look now, the better they will
look when the project is complete. 
You will need a hand trowel to help
even the soil up under the bricks.
  A little scoop there and a little scoop scraped away here. 
The bricks need to be about a finger apart.

This is what ours looked like when I was done. 
Yes, I did continue to tweak them before we finished.


Then, a day or so later, when the ground isn't too wet or soft....you walk on them.
  Don't rock your feet, just walk across them.

Then, get some cement. Do not get the kind with the little rocks in it. 

Get a few of the plasti-cor campaign signs and cut them into two or three strips.

Place the sign strips on either side of the bricks. 
They should be flexible enough to use with curves.
Then, shovel the DRY cement onto the bricks.
We used to be very careful and exact. We would use a trowel to
put the cement onto the bricks and try to be so neat and tidy.
Nope! Not any more!!
Over the years, we discovered that you could just
shovel that cement in--it looked the same
when the border was complete
and was a lot easier and quicker.

Then, get an old paint brush and brush the cement into the spaces between the bricks.

Your bricks should look like this when you're done.

Now,take your hose and set the nozzle to mist and lightly mist the top of the bricks.

Your bricks will look like this when you're done.
Don't over mist.
Wait about five minutes....move the wheel barrow, have a sip of water, wipe your brow.

Then you remove the sign strips.  Move on and reuse and repeat the steps.

This is what the bricks look like in less than an hour later. 
I did use a large putty knife to scrape off the excess
 cement off the ends before it dried. Remember--details!

I was happy to garden in an area that has full sun.
When we first built our home, we had a lot of
sun in our back yard.  Now, the trees adjacent to our
property block the sun and I'm planting hostas.
 I was delighted to find some Shasta daisies this year. 
Gotta love a daisy--especially since they are perennials.
I planted a few Stella de Oro day lilies, too.
I also added some jonquil bulbs that
I hadn't planted that still seemed pretty healthy.
Now, a couple of weeks later and
everything we planted is doing great.

Here are the pink double knock-out roses.

I moved this garden bench from another spot in our yard. 
I like it here so much better

The brick border cost under $25.00--
the price of five bags of cement.
That's a pretty good price to pay for a border
 that will be enjoyed for years to come!

Joining the Party:

The Great Outdoor Linky Party

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Spring Mantel

Dear Blog Land,  I would like to thank you....
I love our home and the way (most) of it is decorated.  Even though I have more of a traditional approach to decorating, I appreciate other decorating styles I see in Blog Land.  I love the chippy white paint, the painted and distressed furniture, the linens and burlap and the vintage style I see in so many blogs these days.  I want to embrace those ideas, but-- I'm scared,  I'm unwilling, I'm cheap, I don't want to make a big mess and I think my home is attractive and comfortable the way it is.  Why make changes if there really isn't a need for a change?  Well, I know it all goes to personal taste.  Some people just must like change more than others.  They love to paint, move furniture and sew new drapes.  I do make some changes in my home, but they are usually seasonal (Halloween, Christmas and Mardi Gras) but lately, I've been making the same changes that I made the year before.

I think I like being in a rut.

Since I'm so unwilling to move, recover or paint my furniture, I have challenged myself to create change in our home using accessories that I have seen and love in Blog Land. I'm going for a more updated look without going crazy.

Let's see how this goes!

Here is my family room mantel and hearth with what I call a "winter look."  I have a number of jugs that belonged to my Dad and I wanted to showcase some of them where I could see them daily.  I like the look, but I didn't want to keep it all the time.  The jugs are pretty, but dark in color.  Not a spring look to me.  I usually place three large, off-white, ceramic candlesticks where the jugs are and use  lighter-colored candles with them.

 So what to do with the challenge and
 the things I like in Blog Land?

I really love plants and this little fern is a hard one for me to grow.  I haven't had it long, but it seems happy on the kitchen table.  I would love for it to go on the mantel, but I fear that it won't get enough light there, so it can't stay on the mantel. 

I love this chippy piece that came off a porch someone was refinishing. I love this and have had it for several years.  I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I wanted it just the same.

I have been wanting one of these wooden shoe forms for a couple of years...don't know why.  They just appeal to me like the chippy porch piece.  I got two of these in February.  And, you can see a peek of the subway art that I like.  I love it, but I have no wall space I am willing to "give up" for it.  And the oil painting above the mantel....well, I really, really love it since the day I first saw it and it isn't going anywhere.

I like the rusty "stuff" I see in blogs.  Again, don't ask me why.  Here is a numeral 3 that I got at Hobby Lobby.  It looks kinda rusty.  I picked a three because that represents our little family.  I used the burlap-yep, gotta give the nod to burlap (even if it makes me cough).  And the other white chippy piece is a capital from a column that was on my great-aunt's porch.

I found this container at a flea market and just
knew I would use it often and I have.

I swapped out the little fern for this peace lily--
it doesn't take a lot of light to be happy.
 This room is dark--so unlike all the Blog Land rooms
that I've come to admire (thank you-- Kim at Savvy Southern Style).

Well---Here's the new look!

I love my new and lighter, more updated design! 
 What do you think? 
I hope my husband eventually notices...
it's been this way for several days!
P.S. I had a teacher friend who would change her whole classroom lay-out while her first-graders were at P.E.  She did a lot in that quick 25 minutes.  I can still hear her children's cries of confusion and excitement mixed together when they returned to the classroom.  I asked her one time if she moved her furniture at home and her reply was, "All the time."  I never moved things around in my classroom.  I found the best traffic flow and that was how it stayed! Guess I would try changing my classroom tomorrow if I was still teaching....

Joining the party at:

Blue Cheese Dressing

I love blue cheese salad dressing.  Do you?? I think my mother figured it out several years ago...she likes salads but likes the dressing more.  She says the salad is just a nice way to get the dressing in your mouth.

I'm going to share with you a dressing recipe that I got from Ina (The Barefoot Contessa).
I've made it several times and I'm very pleased with the recipe.

Blue Cheese Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise (I use regular)
1/2 cup blue cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T tarragon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic (finely chopped-this was my idea)

I had used pre-crumbled blue cheese the first couple of times I made this dressing.  I decided to try a wedge of cheese this time.  The wedge I used was 5.5 ounces.  I put it in a separate bowl and broke it apart with a fork.

I didn't make the pieces too small.  I like my dressing on the chunky side.

Then I added the heavy whipping cream.

I gave it a little stir. 
 Then I added the vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic clove. I added only
1/2 teaspoon of salt with this dressing as it was salty enough without adding the rest.

I made a nice big salad for my lunch and added my favorite crackers.

A delicious salad with a great home-made dressing! 
How inviting!  How delicious!

**Refrigerate in covered container for two weeks--if it lasts that long!

Joining the Party at: