Easy DIY Mulch Garden that will Last for Years!

We have now been in our current family home for about 6 or 7 years, and I imagine that this home will be our home forever!

When we first moved in, the front of our house had a few bushes, but other than that, it was pretty sparse looking…

We decided that we wanted to do a large mulch flowerbed to give it a little more curb appeal. I’d never done a mulch garden before, but thought that I would like to give it a try.

Here we are, about 6 years later, and let me tell you, this mulch garden is still going strong! I only have to weed it about once, maybe twice a year, and maybe have to top it up with one or two new bags of mulch a year! (I actually only used half a bag this year!)

The first thing we did was layout the shape of our garden. Since the bushes were already planted before we moved in, we had to kind of work around/work them into our plan. We kind of ended up with a weird wavy shaped garden, but I think that kind of gives it a little more character. Continue reading

How to Plant a Seedling! (6 Steps for Success!)

For Earth Day, we decided to plant a tree! Our community came out with a program this year, where households could sign up to receive a free tree to plant. We signed up right away, and were lucky enough to get one!

They had several trees to choose from… Pin Oak, Ironwood, Kentucky Coffeetree or a Sugar Maple. We chose Sugar Maple, but my second choice definitely would have been the Kentucky Coffee tree! Continue reading

5 Tips for Growing a Successful Asparagus Patch!

Did you know that asparagus is actually separated into male and female shoots?! The male shoots are the ones that you harvest and eat, while the female shoots are the ones that you let grow and go to seed, in order to expand your patch.

I definitely don’t have the greenest thumb in my family, but I certainly am proud of my first little asparagus patch! It is now three years old, meaning that next year, it will be ready to be harvested throughout the season!

It’s doing so well, that I thought I would share some of the extra measures that I took to help ensure success.

Continue reading

Christmas Home Tour – Part II – The Great Out-Doors!

Ahh… Welcome to the great-outdoors — Of my front yard, that is!

When we moved into our cozy, dream-home, one of the things that I was so excited about, was the pretty front porch that I would get to decorate! Since decorating a ginormous front porch can get a little costly, I tried to use items that I already had, plus lots of greenery from the back yard.

I made my very own Cedar Boughs with some wire and pliers. I then made these super-easy, 2-Minute Bows, from only one roll of geo-mesh for $10. 6To dress up the area around the front doors, I made very, very simple Christmas urns. I used my cheap summer flower pots, but spray-painted them all a metallic-black color to make them match. Next I stuck boughs of Spruce into the pots, and then tied very simple mini-version-bows onto the boughs. 14Last night when I was about to do my photo shoot, I realized that I didn’t have a wreath for my door — a major faux-pas! So in house-coat, high-heels (because they were the closest shoes to me??!), I dug out the ladder to find my old Christmas wreath…. It wasn’t anywhere! Panic-Alert!!!! So after running around trying to come up with something else to use, I found this cute, little, tin-bucket and stuck some old garland and branches of cedar in it. Whew — Crisis averted! 

Matt, (my husband), was in charge of the Christmas lights, and I must say, he did a fabulous job!10Below is my big, beautiful, grape-vine wreath that my wonderful mother made for our wedding! It’s about 5 feet in diameter, and I absolutely love it! All I did to “Christmas-Up” my wreath was add some lights to it, wrap it in red geo-mesh, and add a matching cedar bough and bow to it. It’s so sparkly and pretty… definitely my favorite piece of holiday decor, this year! 5Total cost for this front porch Christmas decor, $21.00!!!! $10.00 on geo-mesh, and $11.00 on spray paint…. Now, all we need is some snow!!!!!!!

 

The 2-Minute Bow!

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This is seriously, the easiest bow to make — Ever!!! And the best part is…. that it takes only two minutes to make, and it looks totally professional!

All you need is some geo-mesh, scissors, a pair of pliers, and some wire.

Step 1: Cut the geo-mesh into 3 inch strips. You will need 5 to 6 of these strips per bow.

Step 2: Take all of your strips and gather them in the middle with a piece of wire.

Step 3: Hang and fluff!1

Done…. Yes — It’s that easy! 😉

Cedar Boughs! – A How-To-Guide

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Why spend money on Christmas decor, when you can simply make your own? Here’s how to create the Perfect Cedar Bough!

Step 1: Gather your cedar bows. Cedar trees are a very popular North-American tree that you can find growing just about anywhere!

Step 2: Take your cedar boughs and line them up end to end, overlapping the ends about 3 or 4 inches. Layer as many boughs as you like on top of each other until you get a nice “full” look.

Step 3: Cut about a 3 or 4 inch strip of wire and wrap it around the bow ends. Take the ends of the wire in a pair of pliers, and twist. (Be careful, if you twist the wire too  much it may break off!)

Step 4: Hang and decorate as you please! 🙂

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Chalk Paint – Tried & Tested (I finally did it!)

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So, I did it! I finally broke down and bought some of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint… So what did I think? Would I do it again? And most importantly, would I recommend it?

When it comes to crafting & DIY-ing, one of my main goals is to cut costs wherever possible, and painting furniture was definitely one of those items always up on the chopping block… Why would I buy special paint when I could just go out to my trusty garage and mix up some kind of creative concoction to get the job done? Well, chalk paint has been all of the rave lately, and I have a couple of friends who swear by it, so I finally decided to throw in the towel and try it!

And — dun, dun, dun… the results are in! I love, love, love it! And here are the reasons why:

  1. First of all, the color selection is amazing! They have a large variety of main colors to chose from, and then by mixing these you can easily create a whole new set of colors!
  2. It only took me two coats of paint for sufficient coverage. Yes — I said, TWO COATS!
  3. The piece that I painted was about 14 square feet, and I only used about 1.5 inches of paint out of the can! This fact significantly reduces the price-point of chalk paint. You will be able to paint A LOT of pieces from just one can!
  4. Chalk Paint can be used on a large variety of surfaces, ranging from wood and metal all of the way to plastic and fabric!
  5. NO PRIMING or SANDING required! Just another great benefit… (Just remember to use a little common sense with this one… Do not paint over peeling or flaking paint. Just give it a real quick sanding or wire-brushing first!)
  6. There are several different finishes that can be easily achieved with chalk paint. (Chippy-Rustic Look, Smooth Modern Finish, Two-Color Distressing and the Simple Vintage Look!)
  7. Chalk paint  has two different waxes to choose from to finish off your masterpiece, a clear wax or a dark wax… another super-feature of chalk paint — getting so many completely different looks out of the same can of paint!
  8. This wonderful product can also be used as an interior or exterior paint!
  9. I was able to use the dark wax instead of a stain to accentuate the grain in my unpainted wood — So easy!

So, in summary, if you have been contemplating Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint — I say… GO FOR IT! You will LOVE it! 🙂

Poison Ivy — Is There Any Relief??!! [10 Tried Methods Put to the Test]

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Oh Poison Ivy… the shear thought of it just makes my skin itch! If you have ever had Poison Ivy, than you know what I am talking about… but if you haven’t, it is almost impossible to imagine — So please, consider yourself lucky! 🙂

Unfortunately, Poison Ivy grows just about anywhere, and can actually come in many different shapes, sizes, and forms… sometimes making it easily mistaken as something else. It also looks different throughout each of the 4 seasons, whether it be a 3-leafed plant, a leafy vine, an empty vine, a plant or vine with or without berries, or colored red, brown, green, shiny, not shiny, jagged leaves, or smooth leaves…. (I know — SO confusing!!)…

The best way to deal with Poison Ivy is to be aware of what it is and where it grows — and STAY AWAY! This year I thought that I would be super awesome and outsmart the Poison Ivy over in the fence line while digging for antique bottles… And yes, I was warned by both of my parents in which I totally responded with “I know, I know!”… But as with most lessons in life, I always have to learn the hard way! 😉

So here I am covered in Poison Ivy…. Itchy, scratchy, and over one week into it, still spreading with no sign of the end in site 🙁 — Lesson to the wise: Listen to your parents!!! LOL

What I didn’t realize is that poison ivy is so EVIL! and so potent, that not only can you catch it from touching the plant itself, it can also be caught from the root system, or even in the air if it is a specially hot and muggy day! This also means that burning poison ivy is a huge No-No! The fumes can actually cause an allergic reaction within the lungs and throat, causing dire respiratory emergency!

The actual organic substance that causes the allergic reaction among more than half of the human population is known as Urushiol, (pronounced Yoo-roo-she-all). Urushiol is such an extremely determined and evil substance, it can remain on an object once it has been touched, for years later! This makes it important to wash any tools, clothes and body parts vigorously with an oil-deterring detergent (like dish-soap or shampoo), that have come into contact with the substance. And washing only once may not cut it… studies have shown that Urushiol is such a strong oil, that it may take up to 10 washes or more to fully remove it from your body! Another thing to keep in mind is that Urushiol can be contracted through your pets! Eeek!

Throughout my research to find that instant Poison Ivy relief, it has become quite apparent that Poison Ivy is still to this day a controversial topic…. Is it contagious to others? Can it still spread among your own body? Unfortunately I cannot answer these questions 100% accurately, but can give a detailed account of my own personal experience…

Studies say that once the Urushiol has been properly removed from your body that the Poison Ivy is no longer contagious to yourself or others…. However, while I find the first to be false, I find the later to be true. The poison ivy has not spread to any others that I have been among (thank goodness!!!), but it continues to spread all over my body… Some medical professionals will argue that I am still somehow in contact with the Urushiol (although I am confident that this is NOT the case!), while others will argue that if poison ivy has previously been in your system, it will reoccur in these areas whether or not they have been in direct contact with the Urushiol once again.

So now that you have a brief summary on the very evil and relentless Poison Ivy substance, Urushiol, I will now try to answer the original question posed: Poison Ivy — Is There Any Relief??!! To answer in short, I am going to say NO – NOT REALLY!! :s …

That being said, I will now list the # different methods that I have tried, and their results… It is important to remember that everybody is different, and what didn’t work for me, may just work for you! And before I list them, I would just like to point out that some of these methods are definitely NOT recommended!!! But, I did try every single one listed, and I will let you know my honest thoughts 🙂

1. Get to the Dr.’s IMMEDIATELY and get your hands on either some prednisone pills or cortisone cream! DO NOT WAIT! GO! GO! GO! These two things have been known to stop Poison Ivy in it’s tracks… (however I waited too long, and neither are working for me! Of course! — LOL)… – Recommended – Unrated.

2. Take an Antihistamine (such as Benadryl). Recommended – Unrated.

3. Take a Histamine Blocker (such as Zantac). Recommended – Unrated.

4. Calamine Lotion – Recommended – When it comes to Poison Ivy, Calamine Lotion is the automatic go-to… but does it actually work? Not really… I give it a relief rating of about 3.5 when you are applying the lotion, and as soon as it dries, you are left with dry, scaling, just as itchy skin. However, it does help dry the rash out.

5. Vinegar – Recommended – Try pouring vinegar (regular or apple) onto the affected area and let it air-dry… This method scores about a 4 on the relief scale…. being that it will take the itch out and replace it with a temporary sting for about 5 minutes. This method kind of works, but who has time to stand there and pour vinegar on their self all day??!

6. Baking Soda – Recommended – Mix baking soda with water to create a paste and apply to the affected area. With a relief rating of 6, this can be considered one of the better methods, however it is extremely messy! And as soon as the paste dries, it starts crumbling off, and the temporary relief ceases.

7. Bleach, Javax or Rubbing Alcohol – NOT Recommended! – The theory behind this method is that it will get rid of any Urushiol left on your skin and stop the spread. However, not only does it NOT WORK, it is also EXTREMELY BAD FOR YOUR SKIN! And yes, as desperate as I am, I did try it – several times :s and it did not work… the Poison Ivy still continues to spread.

8. Oatmeal or Milk Bath – Recommended – Soaking in either an oatmeal or milk bath can definitely bring temporary relief to the terrible suffering of one covered in Poison Ivy. I give either of these two methods a relief rating of 6, due to the fact that they are soothing and calming to your skin, but once again, only temporary. :s (If you are thinking of trying this method, try my DIY Cinnamon-Vanilla Milk Bath!)

9. The Volcano Method – Recommended – Remember when you were in grade-school, and you did the ultimate mother of all science projects — the Erupting Volcano! Well, I decided to mix methods 2 & 3 together, with a little water… and this is what I came up with: In a big tub, sink, or bowl, fill with cold water, add 1/6 proportion of vinegar, and sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. While soaking the affected area, the fizzing bubbles feel SO good! And even after patting dry, I experienced Poison Ivy Relief anywhere from 1/2 and hour to two full hours! This method gets a two-thumbs-up 8! (Yah, I know — it isn’t no 10, but not a bad contender for the Poison Ivy Relief Scale…)

10. A535 Ice Gel – Recommended – A thought that came to mind was: Is it possible to numb this unbelievable, indescribable itch?! And the answer is YES! — A535 Ice Gel will give you temporary relief, for almost 20 minutes, to half an hour! Small peas, right? — Well not really… when you are suffering from Poison Ivy, just 5 minutes of temporary relief can be HUGE! So for this reason, A535 Ice Gel also gets a rating of 8.

I hope that at least one of these methods brings some kind of relief to you! And if you have any suggestions or methods yourself, let us know!

Classic Tire Swing

Classic Tire SwingAh, the Classic Tire Swing! It was actually my brilliant neighbour that came up with this totally nostalgic idea…. So credit to my good friend Courtenay of The Creek Line House for this one! 🙂 Step 1Step #1: Find an old Tire!
Finding the perfect tire is probably a little easier than you actually think! Tires are one of those things that are hard to dispose of, so people will often give away old tires for free… Yes — FREE!!!  One place to always check are the classified ads, such as Kijiji… And the second place to check is with farmers! Farmers often go through a higher rate of tires than the average household and they will probably have a much larger selection of different sizes and types to choose from!
Step 2Step #2: Drill a HOLE
The best way to drill the perfect hole into the tire is by using a Hole Saw, (aka: Hole Cutter)! The hole saw is centered onto a drill bit which will create a stationary point, while the teeth of the hole saw gently saw through, preventing large chunks from breaking of. Slow and gentle is the best way to use this tool!
Step 3Step #3: String up a Rope!
Finding the perfect branch for your new tire swing is SO exciting!!! But once you have found the perfect branch, you need to find the PERFECT ROPE to string up over it! I recommend choosing a rope with minimum elasticity, but that is still very strong and flexible. It is important that your rope is also abrasion resistant and will properly withstand the 4 Seasons! Here is a helpful link provided by Home Depot for choosing the perfect rope: Rope Buying Guide
Step 4Step #4: Fasten Tire, Enjoy & Smile 🙂
Fasten your tire by pushing the rope through the hole and then tying a giant knot — sooooo simple, right?! Then ENJOY!!!!!