It’s Not Too Late: Planting Fall Bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs with pots to plant

Hyacinth Bulbs Ready to Plant

I was watching Weatherman Dan (my favorite local meteorologist) the other day, and he was talking about a looming polar vortex that will hit most of the U.S. with a wintry vengeance this week. My initial thought after “wait, what?!” was “coat shopping!” The kids grow so fast, there’s no way they’ll zip into last year’s coats without having a Chris Farley moment. I also realized I haven’t planted my fall bulbs, yet. Good gracious, girl!

Needless to say, I need to take a knee and get to planting ASAP. If you’re like me and let the middle of November sneak up on you, let’s do this thing together. You’ll thank me come spring when your garden is exploding with color.

It always feels like a surprise party when the flowers burst out of the cold ground. Even though I carefully and lovingly buried each bulb, I somehow develop gardening amnesia come March. I’m like, “Oh, yay! Look at those little crocus in the corner! I love crocus!”

If you’re not sold on planting bulbs, let me elaborate. Bulbs are awesome. They’re low-maintenance, not too expensive, and make your heart absolutely happy when they bloom at the tail end of a dreary, gray winter. What more could you ask for?

You can find bulbs anywhere this time of year. Be sure to buy them from a reputable nursery, though. Cheap bulbs equal cheap blooms – if at all. Boo. I really like shopping at Westwood Gardens in my area or ordering online from Burpee.

Five great flowers to try:

  1. Tulips: Tulips are probably one of the first choices you think of when it comes to spring flowers – and for good reason. Tulips are classic. There are so many varieties you can have a garden packed with these beauties, while still keeping things extremely interesting. For a unique flair, try ‘Parrot’ tulips!
    ParrotTulip

    ‘Parrot’ Tulip

  2. Daffodils: Another classic spring flower is the beloved daffodil. They’re one of the easiest to grow, too. I love the layers of a double-flowered daffodil. If you want a unique color combo try the ‘Romance.’ It has rose-pink cups with gorgeous white petals. It won’t disappoint.
    RomanceDaff

    ‘Romance’ Daffodil

    DoubleDaff

    Mix of Double-flowered Daffodils

  3. Hyacinths: There are two basic types. The common hyacinth has short stalks of amazingly fragrant flowers that look like little starfish. Grape hyacinths are even smaller and have tight blooms that look like clusters of mini grapes. So cute!
    BlueGrapeHyacinth

    Blue Grape Hyacinth

    hyacinth

    Common Hyacinth

  4. Iris: These are a great addition to a garden because they’re hardy and look amazing. They’re tall and regal and remind me of an exotic orchid – minus the temperament.
    Iris

    ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ Iris

  5. Crocus: I like planting a mix of colors with these adorable flowers. Since they grow low to the ground, they make a pretty accent at the base of any other flower. And you know it’s all about that base.
    Crocus

    Crocus {Hey, there!}

Once you feel ready, here’s a quick primer for planting:

  • When: Plant anytime before the ground freezes (pretty much now)
  • Where: Pick a spot that gets full sun and has well-drained soil.
  • How many: Plant lots of bulbs just in case some don’t sprout. If you want a more natural look, plant them in random order and spacing. If you want to create groves of daffodils or tulips, you’ll need to buy and plant lots of bulbs.
  • How deep: Plant at a depth of three times the width of the bulb. If your soil’s sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower.
  • What now: After planting, apply fertilizer low in nitrogen and water well. Apply mulch to keep the weeds down and hold in moisture.

 You’re good to go! Have fun digging in the dirt – and try to stay warm out there!

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Pause to Play!

Play MemeHello, my sweet creative friends. I have a fun tip for this Tuesday. It’s all about play!

It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our adult responsibilities that we don’t think about stopping to have fun. I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes the thought of watching a funny video, learning a joke, or taking a trip to the park seems as indulgent as a bubble bath in the middle of the day – especially with so many tasks on the “to-do”.

But being playful is incredibly important. Even if it’s just a few minutes jamming to your favorite song in the car, feeling this kind of joy can do wonders for your spirit. I absolutely love this quote from author Dr. Stewart Brown,

“The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”

It’s essential to our well being to take a few minutes each day to laugh and play like the child we once were. Brown also says, “Play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy…and is at the core of creativity and innovation.”

There’s no better time than right now to embrace your inner child and do something fun. You’ll be amazed at the way your mind starts opening and your heart starts feeling.

Here’s an exercise to try.

Grab your journal and make a list of five things that makes you feel playful. If that feels hard, think back to the last time you laughed. And I mean snort-laughed in the air like you just don’t care. Where were you, who were you with, or what were you doing that made you have such a great reaction? That might give you some ideas.

Pick one of your five activities, schedule 15 joyful minutes, and go do it! Then write in your journal about your experience.

  • What did you choose to do?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • When was the last time you did this activity? If it’s been awhile, why haven’t you done it sooner?
  • What can you change in your current schedule to make room for more play?

I hope you’ll give yourself permission to have recess today. Have fun and let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you!

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Five Ways to Share Gratitude

Thanksgiving bunting

Bonus idea: Here’s a little project I did this weekend. It’s a Thanksgiving bunting made with burlap and gold-painted chipboard letters. I hung by the chimney with care – and a few mini clothespins.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My husband and I were even married on Thanksgiving weekend. That’s how much I love it – and him. While I treasure the awesome food and permission to wear yoga pants all day (or two), I appreciate how it’s such a low-key holiday that invites us to just hang with the family and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

I truly believe gratitude changes everything.

Gratitude has been proven to make people feel happier, strengthen relationships, improve health, and reduce stress. That’s some amazing grace right there. We should make giving thanks an everyday deal. And if you want to throw in some turkey, go right ahead. No one’s judging.

So in an effort to invite more gratitude in my own life, I found five ideas I’d like to share. I adore each and every one of them, and I encourage you to pick one or two and give them a try for yourself!

  1. Start a Gratitude Journal: This post includes a sweet idea about creating a journal not only for yourself, but also your children. You’re never too young or old to give thanks.
    Gratitude journal

    Gratitude Journals from Let’s Lasso the Moon

  2. Make a Gratitude Tree: This tree would make a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. If you don’t have room for one big tree, a set of three or four smaller versions arranged down the middle of your table would be pretty – and easy for guests to participate. You could leave a “leaf” and small pencil at each place setting. What I love about this post from The Mother Huddle is it includes printable tags for you to use.
    thanksgivingtree

    Gratitude tree from The Mother Huddle

  3. Read a Book about Gratitude: 365 Thank Yous is a touching memoir about a man named John Kralik who decides to write 365 thank you notes in the coming year. In the words of the publisher, “Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.” This would make a wonderful gift for anyone dear to your heart.365ThankYous
  4. Watch a Gratitude Video {link}: The Gratitude Project filmed a unique social experiment that will tug at your heartstrings. People were asked to express gratitude to someone they haven’t spoken to in awhile. Each person selected three contacts in their phone and called them to say “thank you”. It’s a great reminder of how powerful a simple call can be. It would be awesome if everyone would stop to do this.
  5. Take a Gratitude Challenge on Social Media: You may have seen a few hashtags in use with the gratitude theme. Why not give it a try yourself? #100thankfuldays is one challenge where you spend 100 days posting your gratitude. It’s a brilliant way to create a habit. If you’re not ready to bite off that big of a commitment, you can take the 5-Day Gratitude Challenge, where you list five things for five days that you’re grateful for. Then you can nominate a Facebook friend to do the same.

I hope you’ll join me in trying a few of these ideas. In the meantime, I’m grateful you’re here!

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A Fall Chore Checklist

Fall ChecklistAt the turn of each season, I like to pull out my handy checklist of chores that helps me tame the domain. The good news is that there are certain things around the house that only require twice-a-year (and sometimes just annual) attention. For instance, I know how much you love and look forward to cleaning out the clothes dryer exhaust tube, but it’s not necessary to do more than once a year. Today we’ll talk about the fall list and save a few honey-dos for spring.

Speaking of that, having your honey do some of these things is a great idea. Not that you’re shirking any responsibilities. It’s good to share the work. It gives everyone (kids included) a feeling of ownership, and everyone will feel accomplished by that last check mark on the list.

Another tip: Add some fun by playing your favorite music as you work. I also like to light pretty fall-scented candles or put some fragrance on the stove so the house smells awesome from the inside out.

Without further ado, here’s a complete checklist for a safe, clean and organized home this fall. I’ve included some DIY links to some of these items to help, too.

Inside

  • Clean or replace furnace filters.
  • Schedule a fall furnace inspection.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys and flues. Schedule professional, if needed.
  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect or replace fire extinguishers in the kitchen. It’s also good time to review your fire escape plan.
  • Run a vacuum over couches and chairs.
  • Clean carpets. Schedule professional, if needed.
  • Flip all of the mattresses.
  • Wash windows. (Kids love helping with this.)
  • De-clutter closets and donate items not worn in the past year. Get a receipt and determine the value of your items if itemizing taxes.
  • Clean refrigerator condenser coil.
  • Prep kitchen for holiday cooking: organize cabinets – especially baking supplies. Make a list of replacements or additions needed.
  • Clean dryer exhaust tube and vent to prevent a house fire.
  • Drain sediment from hot water heater.

Outside

  • Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and window.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Clear out the gutters.
  • Rake leaves, if needed. Dogs love the piles!
  • Stock up on fresh firewood if you have a wood-burning stove.
  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas and summer toys.
  • Fertilize lawn and treat for perennial weeds, such as dandelions and clover.
  • Schedule pest control treatment, or spray perimeter yourself before bugs migrate inside for warmth. That is so eww!
  • Plant flower bulbs for a beautiful spring garden.
  • Touch up paint on trim, shutters, railings or deck.
  • Stock up on sand or salt to deice sidewalks. Also be sure shovels are clean and handy.
  • If you live in an area with cold winters, drain and store garden hoses, as well as sprinkler systems.

I also have this list available as a downloadable PDF. That way you can print this out for your fridge and check off as you go. No need to stress yourself out by trying to do all of this at once.

Happy cleaning and organizing, everyone! Let me know what other items you like to include.

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Simmer the Sweet Scents of Fall

IMG_4514Don’t you love walking into a home that smells good? Our sense of smell is pretty amazing. It can trigger memories and sway emotions, so no wonder it feels warm and inviting to have a fragrance like Cranberry Orange drifting through the house on a cool fall day. It carries with it delicious memories. I also think the right fragrance can make a house feel clean and well cared for – and who wouldn’t want that thought running through the mind of your next guest?

There are tons of great options for making your house smell awesome. A trip to Bath & Body Works alone will provide hundreds of selections. P.S. I’m in love with Cranberry Woods this season.

But if you want to conjure up a warm, delicious (and inexpensive) aroma, try brewing one of these fall recipes on the stove. It works like magic making your family and friends feel, well, right at home-sweet-home.

Cranberry Orange

  • 1 sliced orange
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bay Leaves and Cinnamon

  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon

Lemon Rosemary

  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Once you choose your concoction, toss everything into a small stockpot. Cover with water (about 2/3 full) and simmer until the smell drifts through the house. My heavens, this is a treat!

You can also opt for the oven. Fill a loaf pan with water and your favorite recipe above. Set it in the oven at 350 degrees until you start to smell the lovely fragrance. Then turn off the oven and prop open the door.

Tip: Freeze uncooked batches to have on hand when a friend or family stops by for an impromptu visit. So even if the house isn’t clean, it will at least smell like it is. I won’t tell.

Enjoy simmering some fall fragrances, and let me know which recipe is your favorite!

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Notice the Small Things

IMG_4512

Design from The Neat Nook

This week, I encourage you to notice something small and seemingly ordinary, yet that strikes you as beautiful. If you can, take a picture of this object. Write a caption about what makes it stand out. Post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #CreativeTipTues so everyone can see what you discovered.

Why is this important to your creativity?

What you’ll notice about this exercise is you’re forced to live in the present moment. Suddenly you’re not thinking about what’s on your mind or what’s next on your to-do list. You’ll find yourself immersed in the details of life as it stands in front of you.

Here’s an awesome list of seven reasons to be present, which I think you’ll enjoy. Obviously #2 rings true to my heart.

Being fully present is one of the best ways to tap into your creativity.

Once you start slipping into the past, ideas about what has been done before start to creep into your thinking. Perhaps there’s even judgment attached. Going the other direction, it’s easy to leap into the future with worry about deadlines and expectations. All of these thoughts block new ideas and shut down possibilities. Staying in the “now” keeps you focused and aligned with your true creative potential. So the best gift you can give yourself (creatively speaking) is to put yourself smack dab in the present and just see what develops.

Have fun searching and creating! I hope to see some of your images online. Remember to tag #CreativeTipTues or message me on Instagram @katejandersen.

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DIY Layered Bow

full bow

A simple, layered bow.

Can you believe it’s already November?! Christmas will be here before you know it, so warm up your glue guns, everyone! I’ll share tons of DIY ornaments, easy holiday wrappings, and creative gift ideas in the coming weeks. Who’s with me?

Today, we’re going to start with the basics.

Some things in life just aren’t the same without a big bow, like the top of a pretty gift, the pigtails of a little girl, the welcoming wreath on a front door…the list could go on.

Now, a basic bow-tying method works for some situations – like tying your shoes. When you want to do it up right, you need a gorgeous layered bow. They’re actually quite simple and look like something a professional florist would create. You can do this. I believe in you.

Here’s the supply round up:

  • Two types of ribbon
  • Florist wire
  • Wire cutters

The length of ribbon depends on the size of bow you want. I like to use at least 2 yds. of each ribbon for a bow that will go on a wreath, because I’m serious about big bows.

When selecting different ribbons for a layered bow, you want coordinating colors and patterns. Today I’m using a solid color with a floral pattern. If you use two patterns, just make sure the colors are compatible and you’re set. A monochrome look is also pretty. Be sure to use different widths and textures to make it more visually interesting.

types of ribbon

Thin silk ribbon paired with a wider burlap makes a great combination full of texture.

Here’s an example of silk ribbon paired with burlap. I would use the thicker burlap for the bottom bow and the thinner silk as the top bow when layering. You always want the bottom bow to be larger.

Step-by-step layered bow, with pictures:

  1. We’ll start by making the bottom bow. Make your first loop, and make it fairly good size since this is your bottom bow. You want some volume here. Also, leave some ribbon hanging for a tail.
    first loop

    First loop with the tail hanging on the right there.

  2. Now for what I call the “under-over” approach:
    • Take the longest end of the ribbon, loop it under and away from yourself. The longest end of the ribbon is on the bottom of the bow now.
      second loop on a layered bow

      I looped the ribbon under and away from me. The tail is still down on the right.

    • Next, take the ribbon and loop it over and toward yourself. You’ll have three total loops at this point.
      third loop

      The third loop (upper right corner) goes over the top and toward you.

    • For the fourth loop, you’ll go back under the entire bow, away from yourself.
      four loops

      The forth loop is made and both of the tails are on the bottom side of the bow.

    • Repeat the “over-under” as many times as you’d like until you have the desired number of loops on each side. I like four, so I’ll stop here.
  3. Pinch the center of the bow and secure it with a piece of floral wire and set aside.
    wire on bottom

    I twisted the floral wire tight around the center.

  4. Now for the top bow. Let’s give it a pretty looped center. Make a loop around your thumb.
    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

  5. My ribbon is one-sided (hopefully the only thing in life this way), so I will pinch and twist the ribbon over allowing the pretty side to show.
    FullSizeRender

    I twisted the ribbon at the center so the pretty side is facing outward.

  6. Loop the ribbon under and away from yourself. On this particular bow, you’re going to continue to form loops by twisting the ribbon and going under each time.
    FullSizeRender[1]

    I’ve looped the ribbon, and am working on my second loop.

    Four loops_top

    I’ve made four loops. You can see I’ve twisted the ribbon each time so the pretty side is always showing.

  7. Once you’ve made all of your loops, secure the bow through the center loop with floral wire. Twist a couple of times and leave the two wire ends hanging down.
    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

  8. Let’s layer this baby! Use the wire from your top bow to secure it to the bottom bow. Twist all of the wires tight and leave some hanging so you can attach your bow to a package, wreath, hair clip, or whatever suits your fancy.
    IMG_4497

    It’s layering nicely. I twisted all of the wires together under the bow.

  9. Hold up your bow to fluff the loops – and admire your creation.
  10. Trim the ends of your tails so they match in length. You can cut on an angle or in a V-shape.

Tip: For the perfect “V”, fold the ribbon in half (lengthwise) and trim at an angle.

IMG_4507

Once your ribbon is folded, be sure to cut the angle up toward the center of the ribbon.

You’re done! What did you think? Helpful? I’d love your feedback. I’d also love to see your beautiful bows! Send me a message through comments, email, Instagram or Twitter.

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