Wordless Wednesday: Exploring a country road and finding Celtic Headstones

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Celtic headstones

Celtic headstones

I have a hard time sticking to the “wordless” part, but just a quick explanation: I was on a bike ride and since it was a beautiful day I went exploring down a country road that had intrigued me.  I came across this old church and these Celtic headstones.  There were also some lovely snow-drop flowers behind the headstones 😉

old church

old church

Happy Wednesday to you!

In peace,
Dana

Fabulous Flower Friday

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hydrangea paniculata

hydrangea paniculata in early summer

Well hello there! On my drive home from work this week I was thinking about my blog.  I was thinking about how I really do miss writing posts.  I could blame it on a dozen different things, and they’d all be very good excuses.  But that doesn’t get me closer to getting back into blogging.  What I need is a plan on how I’m going to get back into the game.  And this is what I thought of: a plant highlight, on Fridays, called “Fabulous Flower Friday”.   What do you think?

Here we go!

hydrangea paniculata early in the season

hydrangea paniculata early in the season (with a lavender flower)

Hydrangea paniculata. Let’s start with “panicle”, straight from dictionary.com: any loose, diversely branching flower cluster.   That was easy.  Next?

hydrangea paniculata full bloom

hydrangea paniculata full bloom

It is a medium sized shrub which loses its leaves at the end of the season (deciduous). The flowers bloom in late summer to early fall, are elongated and turn from a creamy white to pink as they mature.

hydrangea paniculata turning pinky

hydrangea paniculata turning pinky

This hydrangea prefers moist, well-drained soil in sun to partial shade, and is tolerant of frost.

When to prune? Cut back to a few buds in spring to encourage larger flowers (but it is not necessary to prune).

The flowers are also good for drying.

hydrangea paniculata full shrub

hydrangea paniculata full shrub

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my first “Fabulous Flower Friday”. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

The front gate garden bed in full view

The front gate garden bed in full view

Gardening Goals: Got this one

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"before"

“before”

Well isn’t it nice of me to pop in to blog-land for a visit?  I was beginning to wonder what was going on … But here we are now, ready to share some pictures and a gardening story.

I made a gardening goal for myself as part of my New Year resolutions.  It was to finally clean up this bed.  REALLY clean it up.  I figured without making it a top priority then it just wasn’t going to happen.

This is my “messy garden bed”.  The above picture is from late summer when the poppies were in full bloom.  I love the color that poppies provide, but I’m weary of the mess of them.

Part of the problem is that the border around the bed hasn’t worked.  I originally had a small stone wall around the bed but we couldn’t keep it neat.  I have two flower beds which have boxwood for a border.  There is a third bed (between the first two) which will also have boxwood.  I love the shape and neatness that the boxwood gives.

boxwood around the first rose bed

boxwood around the first rose bed

a small stone wall at the front of the ditch wall garden

we’ve managed to keep this low stone wall at the front of the ditch wall garden looking somewhat neat

So I’ve removed the stones and we will eventually plant boxwood.  I’m going to make sure to have enough space on the outside of the boxwood to allow the mower’s wheels to fit!  We just don’t have time to ‘strim’ around the garden.  I’d like to have more time enjoying the garden, and not all of my time spent working in the garden. That balance needs a little tweaking for me.

in full bloom in July with Philadelphus (Mock Orange), Globe Artichokes, Deutzia (scabra), peony, bergenia, potentilla, and various wild flowers

in full bloom in July with Philadelphus (Mock Orange) on the left, Globe Artichokes in the middle, Deutzia (scabra) on the right, peony on the right, bergenia, potentilla, and various wild flowers

We’ve had quite a time figuring out this center garden bed.  It can get *really* wet and the soil was anything but well-drained.  It has taken time and lots of compost to get the soil in a fairly decent state.  We’ve lost many a plant in this bed (nick-named the plant graveyard)!  Some plants I have managed to save just by moving them to a different part of the yard.

what a mess

what a mess

So with the help of my son and husband we’ve been working on giving this bed a proper shape and getting rid of the grass, weeds and wildflowers.  I just have to clear away this mess! It simply bothers me.

mostly cleared

(mostly cleared) on the left is a Buddleia BUZZ (butterfly bush) and on the right is a potentilla

It has been a lot of work.  I go out for an hour at a time to turn the soil, pull out the grass, pull out the weeds, turn the soil again…  arduous! But I think it is so worth it.  I want to be able to really enjoy the plants that are in the garden, which this year I think I will be able to.  These guys are tough, and have proved to me that they can survive this soil!

digging out a shape

digging out a shape.  The newest addition to the garden is a Cornus (florida) what I would call a Dogwood tree which is near the middle of the bed.

If I can manage it, I’ll pull the oval out just a tiny bit more.  I’d like to get it right before planting the border.  But I’m really happy with how it has evolved.  I like the different shapes within the bed, and the different heights.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the colors look this summer.

Hellebore

Hellebore

And that is what has been keeping me busy this last while!  I hope you’ve managed to keep some of your resolutions!

In peace,
Dana

a frosty view of the garden in February

a frosty and foggy view of the garden in February

A Crochet Flower Blanket for Someone Special

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first we start with some flowers...

first we start with some flowers…

Happy New Year!  Well, almost Happy New Year.  My forte has never been to have perfectly timed posts, something that perhaps I should work on.  Thankfully, this isn’t earth shattering stuff, and a light hearted post about a crocheted blanket can really be a “perfect” read any time at all.

The caption under the first photo above (“first we start with some flowers…”) is in fact, incorrect.  The first photo and caption should be of Pinterest.com.  THAT is where it all begins.  Lots of time scrolling through endless photos, searching for that one look that not only captures my attention, but seems reasonable enough for me to attempt to make it.

Not surprising to myself, my finished product looks nothing like the blanket for which it is based on (pin above).  I have a knack for that…  I also had to make small adjustments due to the fact that my yarn was heavier than what she used.  But I must give credit to the very talented woman who made this pattern, and who’s blanket is simply beautiful. Here is the link to where I found it:

http://atime4allseasons.blogspot.ie/2015/04/rebekahs-flower-afghan.html?spref=pi

I like to learn something new with all of my projects.  With this one I learned a few things.  First I learned about not mixing different brands of yarn.  Yeah, I know, I’m sure everyone knows that already. But due to lack of ‘stash’,  and the colors I wanted to use, some of my flowers are made of Caron Simply Soft yarn, while the majority of the blanket is made of Redheart Supersaver yarn.  I think to the untrained eye, this isn’t a problem. But to anyone who works with yarn it is blaringly obvious.   I also learned that it is most ideal to have all of your yarn purchased before you begin a project AND that you actually know what the project is going to look like when finished (again, before you begin).

starting at my desk

starting out small at my desk

I’ve discovered that my creativity is unpredictable and rather unreliable.  I couldn’t visualize the blanket at the start, so I just had to go with it and see where it brought me (not a great strategy for planning ahead!).

still early days

still early days

This project evolved from a small throw to a rather large throw.  The colors also changed as I went along. It really was crazy, because I didn’t know what pattern of colors I was aiming for: rows of colors, random colors, diagonal colors.  I’m not sure how to describe the pattern I chose in the end: an arrow?  It fit the bill as something different…

two new colors were added two months into the project!

two new colors were added two months into the project!

I started the blanket in October.  I have a day-job, so I worked on the blanket every spare moment.  My family really helped out too, pinch-hitting for me by doing all of my typical house-jobs.  It took three months, and everyone was happy when I finished it!

taking over the family room on a white table cover

taking over the family room on a white table cover

working on the border while in the car

working on the border while in the car

I love flowers.  All of the different colors of flowers in the blanket reminded me of our visit to Monet’s garden.  The green within the squares are like leaves (in my head!), and I decided to join them with green to brighten it up, versus joining with cream which would have been a more conservative option.  {Thanks goes to my daughter for helping with that decision.}

still a work-in-progress here, but with the sunny day I wanted to capture how it was coming along

only joined together horizontally

It was absolutely a labor of love.  I so enjoyed making it and it was being made for a very special someone.  She is someone who is always doing for others, and yet is somehow in the background and never seeking attention.  It really is the little things that people do which make them so appreciated and loved.

almost there... border not quite finished

almost there … and a view of my laundry drying outside and on the other side of the blanket is my very messy compost heap 🙂

a close-up

a close-up before the border is completely finished (graciously being held up by my daughter)

the pinks

the pinks

I enjoyed making the border, too.  The entire blanket is lined in green.  I think if I were to be critical, I would say that I should have made a more substantial cream border before moving on to the pinks.  Time was not on my side at this stage (it was a Christmas gift), and my hands were in a permanent cramped state, so I really couldn’t undo it once I’d moved on.

the final border

the final border, which apart from the lack of cream color, turned out quite nice

I went back to a blanket I made a couple of years ago for the final round with the trefoil motif:

while I copied this lovely pin for the first three rows of the border:

See, you can get lots of great ideas from Pinterest!

our final ta-dah! with the frosty garden as a back-drop

our final ‘ta-dah!’ with the frosty garden as a back-drop

The blanket is an awkward size, making it difficult to photograph the entire thing. Natural lighting is always best to capture the colors, so on the first sunny day I ran outside and took as many pictures as possible.  I know the white beneath the blanket (a table cover) looks unattractive, but everything was wet & frosty not to mention not the cleanest so there wasn’t much I could do.

a frosty sunny day

a frosty sunny day

close-up

close-up

the blues!

the blues!

all scrunched up

all scrunched up

I’m happy to say that the recipient likes it (phew!).

folds up neat and tidy

folds up neat and tidy (isn’t big and bulky)

Kitty sitting on our hutch

Kitty sitting on our hutch

And that is a wrap.  2016 is nearly finished.  I hope that your 2017 will be everything that you want it to be and so much more.

Thanks for stopping by, for reading, and for your lovely comments.

In peace,
Dana

Get out and Garden: Loosen up your soil (and don’t mind the birds!)

Flower bed at our front gates

Flower bed at our front gates

Hello!

I had the great pleasure of working in the garden a bit this past week.  I was loosening up the soil in one of my beds.  It was only recently that I learned that this is quite a good thing to do for your soil. Make sure you don’t dig up your plants, but the soil around them should be nice and loose.  This also makes it MUCH easier to pull up weeds.

Sunflowers at the end of their lives and the blueberry plant showing off some lovely red coloring

Sunflowers at the end of their lives and the blueberry plant showing off some lovely red coloring

I live in the country and we have lots of birds around nearly all of the time.  It is kinda fun to see them when they move in what seems to be a huge formation. A wee bit of a distraction during my gardening.

The video is quite short.  I was just sharing the beautiful day with you!

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some nice weather where you are.

In peace,
Dana

Adding Color for a Cabinet Remake

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cabinet "before"

cabinet “before”

This blog post is not a “how-to” for painting furniture.  There are plenty of sites offering lots of advice on that topic.  No, this post is a little “nudge” to anyone who has been thinking about painting a piece of furniture but has been hesitant for whatever reason.

I wanted to paint the cabinet in the above picture for a few YEARS.  It is a number of years old, was passed among a couple of family members and had two heat marks from tea cups by the time we got it.  The color is very dark, too.  But I really like the piece of furniture itself.

glass door cabinet painted turquoise

glass door cabinet painted turquoise to match the vessel

The problem was, well actually I should say MY problem was that I was afraid of “messing up”.  My fear of not doing a good job stopped me from trying.  Simply stated: I was chicken.

That is pretty sad, isn’t it?  But thankfully, I have some pretty awesome friends in my life, and they tackle all sorts of challenges, all of the time. That kind of pushed me and inspired me to give it a go. Also, I wanted my kids to see me go out of my comfort zone, to teach them that they can do anything they put their mind to, too.

A bit of color in the bathroom

A bit of color in the bathroom

Everyone is different.  Some people might not understand this “fear” of failure. I think they are pretty lucky.  The other thing is, it is only ‘painting a piece of furniture’. Logically, it wouldn’t be a big deal if I messed up.  But “fears” aren’t usually based on logic!

But that fear is now very much behind me, because I researched what I needed to do and tackled my project head on! I am very happy to say that I am absolutely delighted with my new turquoise cabinet.

If you are looking to paint furniture for the first time, I would recommend this site to get you started:  http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/tips/a266/paint-furnishings-and-learn-from-my-mistakes/

The color was inspired by the ceramic vessel, which you can see in the above photographs.  I brought the vessel home last year (in carry-on luggage!) following our trip to Paris.  I just loved it, and how it reminded me of the wonderful time our family had on our vacation.

Painted cabinet

Painted cabinet (I might have an issue with buying multiples of soap & stuff …)

This is the cabinet now.  It is being put to good use.   I didn’t really know I had that many soaps! Now that they are in a glass cabinet I can keep track of all of our cleaning items.    🙂

I wonder what project I’ll tackle next?

Go on, tackle that job you’ve been putting off for all the wrong reasons!

In peace,
Dana

Pears, Sunflowers, Blueberry plants, Strawberry plants

A fall look at our Pears, Sunflowers, Blueberry plants, Strawberry plants

 

A Childhood Crochet Blanket “Remake”

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In the beginning

In the beginning

Some things are just worth holding on to, don’t you think? The picture above is of the first blanket I ever made.  I was 10 years old, and staying with my aunt and her family for the summer.  They lived in Florida, so for this New Yorker it was a huge treat.  But what was my aunt going to do with me all summer when we weren’t at Disney World or at the beach?  Being an avid “crocheter” herself, she started me on my first blanket.

granny "squares" that were anything but squares

granny “squares” that were anything but squares

The blanket has done fairly well over the past 30 plus years! But recently it became clear it was in need of some serious repair. My aunt had me sew the squares together, instead of crochet them, and the sewing was coming apart.  I think I figured out why she had me sew them together instead of crochet: they weren’t squares at all!  I did a TERRIBLE job of counting my stitches, so none of the squares were the same shape.

every shape imaginable except "square"

every shape imaginable except “square”

Yeah, I was 10.   🙂  So I decided to “Square them up”!  I did the same border on all of the squares so I’d have the same number of stitches.

crocheting everything together

crocheting everything together

There are a million and one different styles for granny square blankets.  I looked at ALL of them on Pinterest!  I like nice clean white lines.  It is so easy.  And neat. I like that.

crochet together with a simple stitch

crochet together with a simple stitch

Next to decide: the border. I like to try something different with each project, so I played around with the border.

White & Pink edging

White & Pink edging

I wanted to make the blanket a little more substantial, so I went a few times around, each time with a different stitch.

White, Pink, White, Yellow & White border

White, Pink, White, Yellow & White border

I love the yellow border best.  They are like little puff balls all the way around.  The funny thing is, that is the BACK of them.  I crocheted them the entire way around before I discovered the “puff” that I liked so much was on the back of the blanket!  So I undid it, and turned the blanket around, and crocheted them on “backwards”.  I felt better after I did that.

almost finished ... one more border to go

almost finished … one more border to go

I was tempted to call it quits after the yellow border.  VERY tempted.  But I decided to see how it would look edged in a frilly white.

frilly white edging

frilly white edging

This gives it a bit of a different look, but I like it for this blanket.

full blanket all finished

full blanket all finished

I’m really happy with it, and glad that I took the time to remake it.  That summer was pretty special to me, especially since we didn’t go down to Florida very often.  That side of the family is my American-Italian side, and there is something quite special about that heritage. I have very fond memories, especially of my aunt.   Unfortunately, she has since passed away, and this blanket is my special connection to her.

blanket remake

blanket remake

really happy with the end result

really happy with the end result

I don’t spend a lot of time crocheting, and I tend to take long breaks between projects!  But I do love it, and I find it to be a relaxing past-time.

What about you?  Any projects keeping you busy at the moment?

In peace,
Dana

The garden with its fall color on

The garden with its fall color on



Birds vs. Laundry

Hi there!

Just a quick hello today.  I thought this was rather funny.  It was SUCH a lovely day this morning that I had to hang my laundry outside.  But as I was hanging it, I could see the birds gathering around.  Lots and Lots of birds.  I should have just called it a day and brought the sheets inside…

 

A little bit of purple is just about everywhere!

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I hope I made you smile!  (I rewashed the sheets and hung them inside…)

In peace,
Dana

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A view of the garden (video)

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Abieskoreana (which we call our Christmas tree)

Abieskoreana (which we call our Christmas tree)

Hello!  I am having a bit of fun with making videos.  This one starts with an opening shot of what we call our Christmas tree (Abieskoreana) [sideways, I might add] and me saying “Hi, this is mom in the garden” … I actually laugh after saying that, realizing that it seems like I am the tree.  Please smile with me!  I’m still learning 🙂

Flower bed with Japanese anemone

Flower bed with Japanese anemone

In the picture above you can’t even see the new bed as it looks to be all grass!  I managed to get about half of it cleared tonight (after my video).  It was pretty dark when I finished!  But I’m so excited to get the bed ready.  My goal is to get roses in there this winter.

a slightly different view

a slightly different view

I was in the garden the past two nights and both times I was treated to the most amazing sunsets.  The only downside was that the way I was weeding had my back to the sun so I had to keep stopping to enjoy the show!

Another glorious sunset

Another glorious sunset

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I snapped this picture this morning. Still more to do, but huge progress has been made!

The video is just a quick hello and a short visit around the garden.  I hope you like it!

Thanks for stopping by.

In peace,

Dana