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Friday, November 28, 2014

don't toss the fall decor...

My goodness it has been a long time since I have posted! Fall was absolutely beautiful on Sanibel Island. I'm spending a few days getting caught up on the duties I have neglected as of late. Looking around at the fall decorations, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share my tips for drying out your gourds for next year!

Drying Gourds:
1.       Rinse off and dirt and debris from the gourd. Then disinfect the rind of the gourd with a diluted bleach solution or distilled vinegar. Dry the surface with a clean dry cloth.
2.       Find a suitable area for drying the gourds. The ideal environment must be dark, cool, dry, and well ventilated. Damp rooms can cause the gourds to rot. Fans help in the drying process.
3.       After choosing an area, take care in positioning the clean gourds for drying. To allow for adequate circulation, do not allow the gourds to touch each other. Placing the gourds on a wire drying rack will insure for proper air circulation.
4.       To speed up the drying time, pierce the bottom of the gourds using a nail or a small drill bit. Then place paper or plastic below the drying rack to protect the floor from any dripping. It is a good idea to rotate the gourd from time to time and inspect the gourds for signs of mold. Discard any gourds that begin to show signs of rot.
5.       To determine whether the gourds have dried completely, shake them to hear if the seeds rattling inside. The entire process can take a few weeks to a few months depending on the type of gourd and the air conditions.
Painting Gourds:

1.       Gourds are fragile when dry and should be handled with care.

2.       Gently sand the shell of the gourd with steel wool. Clean with a dry cloth or remove dust with a clean dry paintbrush.

3.       To achieve a natural look, paint the exterior with a clear matte polyurethane paint. Spray paint works well but be sure to protect all work surfaces and rotate gourd to seal all sides.

4.       For painted gourds, fill the nail holes with a tiny amount of spackle. Allow to dry then gently sand and wipe clean.

5.       To achieve a shabby-chic look, paint the entire surface with a cream acrylic paint. Even house paints work well for this project. Avoid shiny or gloss finishes. Don’t worry too much about coverage because several coats will be applied. Once the first coat is completely dry, lightly white wash the entire gourd using a pure white paint. Allow this stage to dry then sand the surface to acquire a “distressed” appearance.

Decorating with Gourds:
Think of the dried gourds as any other beautiful home accessory. For the most impact, display them clustered together in bowls, baskets or urns. They can become incredible centerpieces with the addition of dried flowers like baby’s breath and hydrangeas. For a more subtle approach, tuck the little beauties throughout the house: on bookcases, in cabinets, on shelves and along a window sill.
Tips to remember:
1.       It is important to display gourds in a dry place. If introduced to moisture (like in a bathroom or outdoors) they could rot.
2.       Store dried gourds in an air tight container in a cool dry dark space (closets are ideal). It is worth adding silica packets to the container to keep moisture at bay.
3.       Remember the old adage…one rotten apple can spoil the barrel. The same is true for gourds. If one rots, discard it immediately before any others are ruined.
4.        Handle gourds with care as they are fragile when dried. Clean with a dry cloth.
5.       Get creative! There are so many uses for dried gourds and endless craft project possibilities. Look online or at the library for terrific tips and ideas.
 Thanks for visiting my blog...
I hope you've been inspired to try drying gourds!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, September 29, 2014

holding onto summer...

Since the last remnants of summer are fading away,
this is a good time to harvest a few succulents from the garden
and bring them inside.

One terrific way to extend the joy of this magical plant is to create a live succulent wreath.
Most times you seem them hanging on a wall or a door.
They might also appear on a tabletop
displayed around the base of a candle hurricane.
But I made a whimsical seat for an old rusty ice cream parlor chair. It may sound odd (and it is) but that's the beauty of it!

Try to find ways to bring bits of your garden indoors
before Old Man Winter appears.

When I lived in the North it would do wonders for my spirits to enjoy my miniature gardens during the dark cold days of winter.
I now live in a place of perpetual summer but I still love to find ways to bring bits of my garden inside.
Cheers to finding one more reason to dig around in the dirt.
I never need to have my arm twisted. As a matter of fact,
I think my garden is calling to me right now!
Time to play...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

summer is in the rear view mirror...

Is summer really over...?
It has been too long since I have posted anything.
Summer has flown by so quickly. It has been busy and I am always grateful for the opportunities. Since summer is officially behind us and this is the first day of fall, I thought I should get caught up.
My column for the August issue of Romantic Homes
was a labor of love...

August is the "Flea Market "issue so I thought I would feature a project that combined a flea market find
with the summertime pastime of shell collecting. 

What could be better than combining flea marketing,
shelling and crafting?

Then there was the summer issue of Cottages and Bungalows...
I was so thrilled to share a tour of this beautiful home.


And then I couldn't have been more proud when I saw one of my design restoration projects featured in the pages of Seaside Style.

August was a good month. Hot as can be on our little island
but full of blessings!!! I hope your summer was full of sunshine, happiness and good health!
I can't wait to share what is in store for fall...

Monday, July 21, 2014

aquarium to terrarium

Well I think most of us have purchased an aquarium at some point in our lives. I bet they are hiding in many basements and attics right now. (I sure see loads of them at yard sales!) Well here is an easy way to turn an ordinary aquarium into an extraordinary terrarium...

Old watertight terrarium
River stones or pea gravel
Plant material
Decorative tape

Before you get started: Check to see if the aquarium is watertight by filling the bottom 2 inches with water. If it leaks, seal the seams with silicone and allow time to dry.

1. Fill the bottom of the aquarium with one inch of clean pea gravel.
2. Add a layer of potting soil.

3. Arrange plant materials and cover all exposed roots with soil.

4. Press gently to fill all air gaps around the roots.

5. Cover the soil with stones and seashells.

6. For a nice finishing touch, cover the top edge of the aquarium with a decorative tape.

7. If you wish to have a terrarium and not just a planter,
cover with a piece of glass.

NOTE: Be sure to choose the plant material wisely. Enclosing a terrarium creates a very damp environment. Plants such as ferns and ivy will thrive while plants like succulents will rot. Research your plant materials to provide the best possible growing habitat.

TIP: When it comes to creating terrariums, be sure to sterilize everything. Work with a pristine tank, clean river stones and fresh soil. If you like the idea of adding seashells, clean off all sea salt residue. Salt can be fatal to some plants.

This terrarium and other great ideas are featured in my article
“Off the Beaten Path”
in the June/July issue of Flea Market D├ęcor magazine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

nothing beats the best

My Mom makes...hands down...the best chocolate chip cookies!
Writing and photographing for magazines offers me the opportunity
to share many things and I was so thrilled to share
her recipe for yummy home-made chocolate chippers.
Nothing fancy...but utterly scrumptious.
I thought I would post her recipe just in case you are in search
of something yummy to take to a 4th of July celebration
this weekend...Enjoy!

¾ cup of butter
¾ of brown sugar
¾ cup of white sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
12 ounces chocolate chips

1.       Using an electric mixer, cream ¾ cup of butter, ¾ of brown sugar, ¾ cup of white sugar, and one teaspoon of vanilla.
2.       Continue mixing and add two eggs (one at a time)
3.       Beat until smooth
4.       In a separate bowl combine 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 t of baking soda and ¼ t of salt
5.       Add the dry mixture slowly into the mixing bowl to incorporate
6.       Once incorporated add  12 ounces of chocolate chips and stir
7.       Drop by rounded spoonful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet
8.       Bake at 350 degrees for 8 10 minutes
9.       Allow cookies to stand on the cookie sheet for one minute then remove to a clean surface to cool.

The only thing better than her cookies...
is actually sharing them with her!
Love you Momma...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

decorating for a big birthday!!!

Is there a bigger celebration than the birthday of our country?
I had a great time decorating a client's outdoor
sitting room for a Fourth of July party.
Here's a little peek...Enjoy!

This article is in the July issue of Romantic Homes magazine.
I will post more pictures of this space
with more holiday decorating inspiration soon!

Friday, June 13, 2014

sweet treat for dad...

In the May issue of Romantic Homes magazine,
I wrote a piece about Mother's Day and featured a recipe
from a very special friend. In case you missed it...and you are looking for an easy sweet treat to make on Father's Day...
here it is!

2 cans buttermilk biscuits
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat the bottom of one 9” x 13” pan or 2 8” rounds with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and set aside in a medium sized bowl.
4. Cut the biscuits into quarters.
5. Dip sections of the biscuits into the cinnamon and sugar mixture until completely coated and place in the pan. 
6. In a small saucepan, mix butter and brown sugar.
7. Stir until the mixture is melted and well incorporated.
8. Pour melted butter and brown sugar mixture over the biscuits.

9. Bake for 30 minutes.
10. Serve warm and dust with powdered sugar.  
* To make a finishing glaze simply mix 1 cup powdered sugar,
2 tablespoons milk and ½ teaspoon of vanilla.
Hand mix until you reach the desired consistency.
Adjust amounts accordingly.
I hope your Father's Day weekend is filled with wonderful memories of the special men in your lives. I know my heart will be with my dad. After all I am still very much Daddy's little girl.