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Monday, April 25, 2011

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is how we spent Wednesday evening followed by a wonderful dinner with 2 of the sweetest people ever!

And here we were on Thursday afternoon. The bunny got up off of his chair when he saw the kids coming and I think his size scared Presley. She didn't want to have anything to do with him - except for the chocolate candy he was giving out - so we thought this picture said it all!

I can't believe that Easter is now a thing of the past and that we are almost into May! We had an incredible holiday and hope you did too!

On Thursday, daughter #3 arrived with her 3 kids. Their daddy is staying with us while they are trying to relocate and sell their house and it is always special when their whole family can be together. After our visit with the bunny, we mostly swam, ate and swam some more!

We had a quiet Friday with more of the same, but Nana had a few projects she just had to throw in. The first was for the boys to make bird's nests to give to everyone for Easter. We used a simple recipe that I used when I was teaching kindergarten. Back then we used them for "H" week and called them "Heavenly Haystacks". They're a mixture of chocolate chips, peanut butter, peanuts and Chinese noodles. What could go wrong with that mix? It was easy for the boys to do on their own. After they had scooped the nests, they filled them with chocolate, candy coated eggs. YUM!

The boys were the official candy makers but every high tech process such as ours needs quality control and Presley was only too happy to help us out!

Then that night, I made up some shaving cream "paint" and the kids went to town. They had so much fun. They started out very carefully painting the walls of the surround but it didn't take long before they were finger painting everywhere - including themselves and then designing their new beards and hair. I always love playing with shaving cream as it is so easy to clean up and everything smells wonderful afterwards.

On Saturday morning, we were all on our way to Gainesville. The weather was picture perfect and we had the most marvelous two days. I have so many pictures to share, but I will save those for another day. Jen and the kids just headed home so I am going to do a few chores so that I don't realize how quiet and lonely the house is. I'm sure I'll get used to it again, but I enjoy the energy that 3 children bring to a house - reminds me of the good old days.

Tomorrow I will be taking down my Easter decorations and not sure where I will be going with my decorating. I know there will still be some spring but it has been so long without a holiday for decorating that I'm not sure I will remember what goes where. Stay tuned.

Just a quick peek at our weekend. Since I decided that I will take whatever picture I can get as long as we're all in it, I kind of love this picture. Presley didn't cry the entire 5 days she was here - except now and with the Easter bunny. I think the dog scared her or something. We have others where she is smiling, but then several other people look horrific - including me - so this will be our shot for this year! I love these kids so much that I really don't care and they wanted to get out and hunt for Easter eggs! Every one was totally humoring me at this point because they know how much I love my pictures and I love them all for that!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter's On Its Way!!!

Guessing this will be my last post before Easter. First of all, I am done decorating and tweaking and secondly, my husband and I am heading out of town tomorrow morning to spend the day visiting with my mom and then taking 2 grandkids to dinner. In return, they will obediently smile with the Easter bunny so Nana will have her picture. Since they didn't make it to Santa this year, I know they won't complain and I do love my Santa & Bunny pictures. When we return on Thurs., we will meet daughter #3 at our mall for bunny pictures with her 3 children. That just leaves 2 in St. Pete..hint. Friday we will swim, play and prepare for our big weekend. Then, Sat. morning we are all heading to Gainesville to celebrate 3 birthdays, dye eggs, play games and all of the other stuff we love to do when we all get together. Then on Sunday, all of the traditional Easter stuff will apply.

The above banner was downloaded from Sandy Toes & Popsicles. It had even more pieces to it, but it got too long for me to hang so I edited it down to this and hung it on the TV armoire in the sunroom - mostly for the grandkids.

Here is some of my grass taking in a few rays before the big day. I gave the one pot a haircut as the grass was really getting long. I'm not sure what I will do with the others as I love the long, droopy stuff but we'll see on Sat. morning. I will put a few of my bunnies in these as centerpieces but they don't really come into their own until they are full of our dyed eggs. Hopefully I will remember to take a picture.

Wouldn't be a holiday without a free download of subway art. I think I found this one at Lolly Jane Boutique.

The idea for the small distressed tags came from blogland but once again, I have lost their source. If anyone knows, they can let me know and I will credit the correct person. I don't want anyone to get mad at me. I simply printed the letters, punched out the tags and distressed but the original idea wasn't mine - as usual. The vintage Easter download came from one of my favorite sources, The Graphics Fairy.

This was my last bit of tweaking. I purchased this download from madebyjanet.etsy. The download was for 9 vintage eggs. I adjusted the size and printed these 5. I cut them out, embellished with glitter and a crepe paper ruffle and then mounted on solid card stock. I used a bit of French silk ribbon I had around. I think I would have done it a bit differently if I had more time and will probably do so before I use it again next year. For one, I will buy more ribbon so it can be a bit longer. Then, I think I will decorate each egg with a bit of seam binding, velvet flowers, buttons or other vintage decor. I just didn't have enough time this year to truly give it my all but I do love the download. Now that it belongs to me and is in my file, I will come up with so many more things to do with it. Now if I could just come up with more time!

The next 5 days are truly a grandparent's joy! All of our children, sons-in-law and grandchildren in one place! What could be better! Doesn't happen enough for us but we treasure every moment of every time it does! You can be sure it will be well documented with pictures and many, many memories. I will return soon with lots to have been warned! In the meantime, I hope you too get to have a blessed, family-filled holiday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

It Can Only Get Better

I am thinking of that saying a lot these days as this is what my European meditation - at least that was my goal for this space - garden looks like as we speak. I put in this "patio" several years ago all by myself. I think I knew it was probably more than I could handle by myself as I was doing it, but once I make up my mind....... I bought tons (or at least it felt like tons) of cement slate looking stones. I loaded them on the cart and then into my car all by myself. Then I lugged them all to the backyard. This area used to be a picket fenced garden - more of a "cottagey" feel. I tore that all out and began the leveling process. By now, I had completely gone over the budget that my husband had mentioned, so I couldn't justify spending more on sand. I figured I could just move around some of the dirt that was already there. It's kind of a sad, long story but suffice it to say, one of my sons-in-law called it my soup bowl! I was O.K. with it not being flat. After all, it was supposed to be European & Europe is OLD! Any way, over time it just got worse and worse.

That is when I called in the reserves. We have a son-in-law living with us right now as he has taken a job here in Ocala and their house hasn't yet sold in Lakeland. And, he is an engineer. Who better I thought to help me solve this problem.

He got right to work and pulled up the stones. Now he is trying to find us the sand so desperately needed and get it delivered by the truckload - not the bags from Lowes that was my plan - and would have cost $600 just for the sand! He's also measuring and talking in a foreign language. Words like cubic feet, yards, levels, etc. Do you mean you actually have to prepare before you dive into a job like this? Who knew! This is the same man who couldn't believe we bought a 10 foot Xmas tree for our 8 foot ceilings. I guess we showed him! He couldn't believe we were just going to keeping chopping until it fit. He humored us for awhile and then he mentioned a measuring tape. Again, who knew!!!??

Hopefully it won't be long before I am once again sitting in my old
world garden and "meditating". O.K., I never actually meditated, but I could if I wanted if I only had a patio.

On the other hand, the rest of the pool area is coming along. I had the most marvelous 3 days! I spent every second of it outdoors. Finally got all of the rest of the furniture painted, all of the pool deck and gazebo roof and a lot of the fencing pressure cleaned and all of my new plants planted. I should have taken a picture of myself after pressure cleaning the gazebo. I have to stand on the 4th step of the ladder, so I'm a bit off balance. I usually lean into the roof so I don't fall and then of course, the water comes rushing down the slope and hits me square in the face. I look like a drowned rat, but I really do enjoy doing it. It makes such a huge change that I get a great sense of accomplishment - plus I just look downright silly! This area is beginning to come together. I find myself sitting here more often so I know I must like it a bit better. It still has a way to go, but I will continue to work on it. And please make note of that sparkly clean cool deck! More to come. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birds of a Feather

This innocent looking birdhouse is part of the reason that I am not getting much done indoors these days! I bought this and several other birdhouses many years ago when I had a more country theme going inside. I truly loved them but one day I took a notion to move them outdoors and use them as garden decoration. And that is what they were for several years until one day I noticed some movement and realized that some birds were really using it. Once again this year, some little birds have taken up residence and I can't take my eyes off of them. They are so cute and the busiest little things you have ever seen. They are also not timid. They will fly right up to the house and sit and look at me when I am standing not more than a foot or so away. I am mesmerized! I can't seem to pull myself away even though our temps have hit the 90s the last few days!

I have managed to squeeze in lots of gardening and maintenance while keeping one eye on my little flying friends. AND, I think I have almost finished painting all of the outdoor furniture!!! I had forgotten about the stuff in the gazebo but that is now done as well. I am starting on the wrought iron trellises and gates but am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Yeah!!! I think I may be a little dopey from breathing all of those fumes, but as my husband would say, "how can we tell?".

I bought a new umbrella and have been potting plants and transplanting bushes to the far end of the yard. It is coming along and I will post a picture of the finished product soon.

This is an old working potting bench that I made a few years ago. It is funny how you can see things with new eyes! A long time ago, I was in a craft co-op of sorts and one of the things I made was rustic wooden crates, boxes, etc. I had some left over and just stuck them out on the potting bench. Fast forward to now and painted wood is showing up all over blogland. I saw something that I wanted to try and thought I would have to head out and buy a container when I looked up and saw this. There are 3 boxes on the top and more on the bottom shelves out of sight. Now I am just hoping for some time to turn them into new treasures. You'll be the first to see. Also, I have a few Easter paper crafts perking in my head. Hope to get to them tomorrow as we are supposed to have rain and I will be housebound.My little friends will have to get along without me for awhile. Stay tuned and we'll see what materializes!

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Love Spring Cleaning...

...outdoors that is! And who wouldn't with views like this enticing you to come outside? I have spent much of the last week out in this beautiful weather. I don't want to jinx it, but when did we in Florida get a real, honest to goodness spring. The temperature does go up in the afternoon, but the mornings are cool and wonderful! I love to be outside and am always looking for things to do to keep me out there.

Of course, this time of year, you don't have to look very far. While I have been doing the "fluff" stuff - putting in new plants, trimming the old plants, etc., it is now time to TACKLE the biggies!

I am off today to buy all of the supplies I think I am going to need for the next week - mostly garden things but a craft or two may sneak in - and then I will really get busy! From looking at these pictures, it looks like I will be starting with the pressure cleaner. I really enjoy doing that, but getting up on the top step of the ladder and balancing (while the pressure pushes me backwards) so I can get to the top of the gazebo roof is always a "challenge". Wish me luck.

Some of the herbs are in - more to come. This garden is right outside the side door, so I really do come out here almost every evening to cut fresh herbs for dinner. If you have priced the bagged fresh herbs at the grocery store lately, you would hurry and plant some yourself!

I put four grape tomatoes in pots this year. Last year I did lots of leaf lettuce as well, but I felt like I really needed to do more and more in pots would be difficult. We have 17 acres behind us that are full of critters. Seems as if I plant any veggie in the ground, they will find them before I do. For some reason, they leave them alone in the pots.

This is my newest project. Forgive the wet fence. I watered before I thought of taking the picture. This is the far end of our pool deck. Seems like we almost always sit at the end by the steps because that is where the little people hang out. Several years ago, we had our diving board removed. Long story, but because they are apparently so dangerous, they are no longer installed in home pools. That also means that I could not get anyone out here to check mine out and tell me if it was still safe or fix it. Every one is afraid of liability. I decided since our board was as old as the pool, I didn't want to chance one of my kids or grandkids jumping on it and it breaking and hitting them on the head as they both tumble into the water...again, I digress.

In any case, this end of the pool now has lots of prime real estate. I dug out everything I had in this area. I am slowly deciding what to replace. This is one of the few areas of our yard that doesn't get the irrigation, so I will have to be responsible for hand watering. That is hard with my schedule, so I am treading lightly. I know for one thing that I am going to be looking for an umbrella today and then will figure out a way to replace the beautiful candle-lier that used to hang from the larger tree that used to umbrella this area...and drop all of its leaves into the pool. Hence the words "used to".

Any way, I love to decorate outside or in, so I am looking forward to this. I am also trying to do it fairly inexpensively so it will be a challenge! Stay tuned and see how I do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Topiary

The last few days have been simply gorgeous so I have spent most of them outdoors. Today the weather is wet and gloomy - good for my newly planted flowers, but not good for being outdoors.It is so bad out there actually that I don't want to leave the house but just had an itch to "do" something. Figured it had to be with things I had around here, so I decided on an egg topiary. Variations of this have been all over the blogs of late.

I had picked up a 6" paper mache egg in the Easter section of HL the other day. It was 50% off $1.47, so pretty inexpensive. Everything else I had on hand. Painted the egg with baby blue, sage and a bit of raw umber. I used a wet sea sponge so I could mottle the colors together. Then, I speckled it with watered down burnt umber.

I painted a rose pot in taupe, glued some reindeer moss around the rim, set in the egg and tied it up with some variegated French silk ribbon. I wanted to keep the colors kind of neutral because after the holiday, I am going to take off the violet ribbon and tie it up with either something green or possibly just jute and use it in the spring decor. Because this was for Easter, I felt it was calling out for a tag, so I downloaded the rabbit on dictionary page (I forgot where I got this. I download them into my file & lose the blog. Will have to try to do better in the future), matted him with colors from the ribbon and made a cardboard tag.

Then, after I took the pictures and posted them, I realized that something was missing. Thought a flower or two was needed so I headed to my "flower stash" and found these increible handmade paper flowers in pretty much the same color wave as the ribbon. I also colored one of my paper leaves. I was starting to glitz it up a bit more but decided to stop as this was going in the livingroom with the bird cages, etc. - more of a natural feel. I think I like it and it kept me busy today. Yes, I could have done some cleaning, but who wants to do that on a wet and gloomy day? Better makes plans fast for tomorrow because I hear it is going to be gorgeous again and the vacuum and mop are calling!

April Showers...

In my case, bring April flowers. Over the years, I can remember seeing segments of The Martha Stewart Show that have featured her clematis. Of course, hers are full, thick, lush and dripping blossoms. I always loved the way they looked but because I never found them in nurseries here in Florida, I assumed it was something we couldn't grow.

Imagine my surprise as I was walking through a garden shop last year - in Wal-Mart of all places - and spied these pitiful little containers with clematis vines. As I was looking, a lady came up to me and asked if I knew anything about them. I told her of my visions of a Martha garden and she told me she was buying another. She purchased one the year before and even though the vine itself always looked like it was dead, the thing did bloom occasionally. With that small word of encouragement, I decided to give it a try. I am not what you would call an intellectual gardener by any means. If I see something I like I give it a try without putting much more thought or energy into it. I kind of figure that if you don't grow in our Florida climate, you are too much trouble for me!

I planted the vine by a trellis I put in my flower garden and let it alone. It got no special treatment other than the periodic spraying of Miracle Gro that everything else got. I know what the lady was talking about when she said the vine would look dead. I'm grateful that I spoke with her because otherwise, I would have pulled the thing out. The vine became withered and brown - not at all pleasant to look at. Imagine my surprise when I noticed a small bud one day and watched it grow into this beautiful bloom! Since I took this picture, There have been 3 more blooms and there are lots of new buds forming. It is still the very distant, black sheep cousin of the Martha family but I am optimistic and holding out hope. I will let you know. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hippity Hoppity ...

Here are three of the eggs I bought from Heidi Devlin. I think she said she first made a rag egg and then covered it with the glimmer dust. I love them, but of course, after seeing hers in an old funeral basket, that is the only way they will look right to me. Since I have every other kind of basket but, I pulled out about every other container I owned. Didn't like any of them! Then, I spied this urn and since it has the same flaired shape as a funeral basket, I am O.K. with it for now. Think I could come up with a better all-around display, but didn't want to spend too much time on it because I am hoping to get to a few antique shops this week and see if I can find a basket! (You knew I would at least have to try, didn't you?)

Thought I would show you some of my treasured Easter things - things that my grandchildren have made me. The upper photo shows some simple topiaries that Caitlin and Olivia made for me when they were quite young. Just a styrofoam egg (that smooth kind) painted, put on a popsicle stick and put in a small terra cotta pot.

The sun catchers were also made by Caitlin & Liv. These are a fun project. Simply draw your design on a piece of paper. Coloring books are good sources since the areas of color are usually large and not too detailed. Lay a piece of wax paper over design and pipe on stained glass leading. This is not the real stuff. It is made for crafters. This is a bit hard to get out of the tube evenly so if the children doing this project are young, you may want to have this done ahead of time. Then after it has dried, you simply fill in with the stained glass color. When the whole thing has dried, you peel it off and adhere to any glass surface. I use mine on my sunroom door but they could also go on a vase, mirror, etc. I use them every year and they are still sticking just fine.

Here is the last Heidi Devlin egg. I used a nest set in an Easter candle ring then just set in the egg and put the whole thing on my tall candlestick. I think I like it.

Another download of Easter subway art. I got this one at Lolly Jane Boutique. Picked up the frame at HL for 50% off so this is a pretty inexpensive project. I am working on a few other things for Easter so we will see how they turn out.

This guy is back from my "ceramic-ing" days. He holds a lot of candy so this is where I usually stash my bag of black jelly beans that my middle daughter finds for me every year. Not many people like the black beans so they're pretty safe wherever I put them but a girl can never be too careful. Never know when someone might visit who loves them as much as I do!

I love my new white pitcher. I think I have used it at least 4 different ways since I bought it a little over a month ago at Target. The giggling bunny candleholder was from Avon. They used to have a lot of holiday decorations. Actually, I haven't seen an Avon catalog in years. Maybe they still do. I'm off to pick up some yard debris. Spent most of the day outside. If I get any more inspiration for Easter goodies, I'll be back. Stay tuned.