Natural Bug Repellent (in an awesome jar)

There’s actually a mosquito bite on my right arm as I type this post. Sigh. The bugs are already out n’ about in our neck of the woods, so it’s time to whip up a batch of the “Clark family bug spray.”

I call it that because the recipe came from my last family reunion in Minnesota, where they joke about mosquitos being their state bird. They’re that big. What I love most about this spray is that the ingredients are natural, and they smell really nice when mixed together. Aaaand it works.

Here a snapshot…

All you need:

  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup witch hazel
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • Spray bottle

All you have to do:

  • Combine first four ingredients in a 16 oz measuring cup
  • Pour the distilled water into the cup – up to the 16 oz mark (about 1 cup)
  • Stir and transfer to spray bottle

That’s it!! I made some last night and put it in a very cool glass spray bottle that I want to talk about. It’s called an Infinity Jar. Have you heard of them?!

Take a look. >>

{This is the 200 ml glass fine mist spray bottle and sells for $20.}

I personally hadn’t heard of these jars until the company reached out asking if I’d try one. So this was a sample – and it came with some helpful information. I also started researching them on my own and found some interesting facts.

For one, I didn’t realize how important a glass container is for skin care products and ingredients for cooking. I also didn’t realize how popular these magical little jars were. They must really work.

Here’s what came with the bottle:

That tomato test was crazy! The bottles not only preserve what’s inside, but also protect our bodies from chemicals.

I decided to try my bug spray recipe in this, because I want it to retain its freshness and strength during the summer season. There are so many uses, though. I’m looking forward to ordering the apothecary jars to store my herbs!

The only drawback I can see is that since it’s so opaque, you can’t see what’s inside. And if you have several of these bottles with your favorite potions inside, you wouldn’t want to get them mixed up. A super easy solution is to have a good labeling system.

I’d recommend waterproof labels, since these bottles will more than likely contain liquids and be stored in a kitchen or bathroom. Now, the bottles themselves do come with a small envelope of labels. In fact, the packaging was very thoughtful. The bottle was in bubble wrap, and it came with a cleaning cloth and labels. The labels were just a little clinical. So if you want to design your own pretty labels, I found these waterproof and adhesive food labels on Amazon.

Here’s what my label looked like. >

{The art for this label is also shown at the top of the post}

If you want to print the full recipe and get this label design, download this free printable.

As a wrap, my opinion so far is that this jar is an extremely high quality item. The glass is is nice and thick and is a pretty bluish color. The sprayer gives off a perfect fine mist, so you don’t have to rub in the product. It doesn’t “squirt” in weird streams – like some sprayers. And I’m super happy that I decided to put my natural bug spray in this jar, so the essential oils and other ingredients retain their effectiveness!

I hope all of this was helpful to hear. I don’t get anything from their company for your purchase, so my advice to buy one is purely because I think it’s a good product.

Looks like right now you can win a $50 gift card for posting a picture of your jar on social media. And you can get a free jar when you order $25 worth of product on their site. Happy shopping!

Have a fantastic weekend and let me know if you try the recipe. I hope it works just as well for you and your family.

Blessings,

Kate

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All the Peonies, Please!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Haha!

Peonies have been a love of mine since the first time I saw and smelled their sweet layers of petals.

I’m pretty sure the nuns at St. Patrick’s had a few bushes next to their front porch. I would have been in grade school at the time, and the nuns lived in a small house nudged between the school and church. They had a modest garden right outside of their house. I seem to recall peonies, but I didn’t know what they were called at the time.

In college, during my days of unpacking and labeling flowers at the floral shop where I worked, I came across several bunches of peonies. The fragrance brought back memories of walking between buildings on the St. Patrick campus.

Lilacs and honeysuckles can bring me back to childhood, too. Summers in our southern neighborhood were always filled with warm, sugary air.

While peonies are reminiscent of my younger days, they carry specific meaning for others. >

Outside of how to pronounce the name, I didn’t know any of that!

After doing a bit more digging about my favorite flower, I came up with five reasons why I’m so obsessed with peonies!! >

{ONE} They represent good luck & love

There are many sources (Greek, Chinese, and even our Western culture) that describe various meanings of peonies. What I found was that they universally stand for love (romance, happy marriage, affection) and good luck (good fortune and wealth).

Both are good things to have in life, so it’s no wonder so many brides (and apparently celebs like Drew Barrymore and Hillary Duff) love to include them in their bouquets.

PS. Peonies are also known as the 12th wedding anniversary flower, so tuck that piece of knowledge away for a gift idea!

{TWO} They’re a springtime special

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. And early April showers bring these May-June flowers to life in most parts of the country. That means you should be able to find them at your local farmer’s market right about now. Yay!

Or if you’re super lucky, you’ll have them growing in your own backyard. Btw, if you’re thinking about planting them, it’s totally worth the investment. One bush can bloom as long as 100 years! You can pass them along to your precious grand babies.

{THREE} They’re perfect in arrangements 

Just like that rockin’ statement necklace that completes your outfit, peonies can add a bold splash to an arrangement. Blooms can grow up to 10 inches, depending on the variety. Bam.

And they’re easy to work into pretty much any color palette since they come in shades of red, pink, coral, white and yellow. Apparently they don’t come in blue, but you could tuck in a few other flowers to add a blue or purple punch.

I love the arrangement above. They used ranunculus (another top five, most favorite flower ever) and wispy greens (that remind me of seeded eucalyptus) to surround two bright pink peonies. Doesn’t it look like a fresh-picked, country-garden bouquet?

Okay, and before we move on, I have to show you this arrangement above. Look how they included succulents and hydrangea in this darling bundle. I honestly can’t tell if they’re real?! Regardless, it’s simply gorg.

 {FOUR} They can be healing

In addition to simply making me happy, I discovered peonies can actually make you feel better. In ancient times, peonies were used to relieve headaches and help with asthma. A quick search on WebMD lists even more uses and benefits – like cramps. #thankyouverymuch

The suggested method is to use the dried root and boil it like a tea. I’m no nurse, so definitely check things out with your doctor first. It does sound fascinating, though.

{FIVE} They’re just so darn pretty with their layers of loveliness

While my preference is to enjoy peony blooms in person – like these stunning beauties from Pigmint that I received on Mother’s Day…

…I even love looking at pictures.

Take a scroll with me down this virtual walkway of flowers that are pretty enough to print and frame for your house.

Seriously, y’all. >>

Okay, now for the grand finale, because those are always the best. Here’s a glossary of peonies to help guide us in our shopping.

That’s a wrap, my friends. May your weekend be a bowl of fun with extra peonies on top. Yum!

Many blessings,

Kate

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Five Ways to Make May Day Baskets

It’s almost the first of May, which means I’ll be sneaking around the neighborhood delivering fresh flowers to my sweet friends pretty soon.

If you’re not familiar with May Day, it’s totally okay. I grew up in Arkansas and didn’t hear about it until I went to college in Nebraska. I think it’s a midwestern thing?! Anyway, it’s such a fun way to welcome spring and share a simple treat with others.

It’s been said that the tradition started when people would take all of the flowers that grew at the end of April’s showers, arrange them in pretty paper, and hang them on the doors of neighbors as a way of welcoming warmer weather.

Sadly, I think it’s becoming a lost tradition, but I’m not afraid to be a little old fashioned. I’m sticking with it and hope you’ll join me.

A few tips if you’re new to May Day basket deliveries.

  1. It’s supposed to be a secret. You deliver the basket, ring the doorbell, and run. My kids call it “ding-dong-ditching” which sounds very impolite. But the fact that we’re leaving goodies somehow makes it seem better to me.
  2. The baskets should be super simple. A few stems of flowers or a couple of pieces of candy is perfectly acceptable.
  3. Make each basket with grace and gratitude for your friends. Even though they won’t know it’s from you, they’ll feel your love the moment they open the door.

Here are five baskets to get your creative wheels spinning.

{ONE} Mason Jar Revival

I love Mason jars. They’re multi-tasking rock stars. Among many other uses, they’re the perfect, inexpensive vessel for May Day. Here are all of the supplies you’ll need for this first “basket”. >>

In addition to the Mason jar (with the lid) and some ribbon, you’ll see I raided the garden. This is a smart place to start this whole process so you don’t end up spending tons of money on flowers.

I snipped a mix of hostas, lilacs and some pink flowers that were growing in my hanging basket from Lowes. Lol! I ended up buying tulips from the store since mine have already come and gone. Tulips = spring to me.

To create the “handle,” you’ll want to slide the ribbon under the Mason jar lid. Notice I don’t have the top, just the outside ring. Next you just screw it on to secure the ribbon in place.

Fill the jar with fresh water, arrange your flowers, and then hang this lovely bouquet from your neighbor’s door. Ding-dong!

{TWO} Perfectly Sweet Planter

This might be the simplest idea in the batch. Here are the supplies, which I mostly got from the garden store. >>

I chose a pot of colorful zinnias for the focal point. For the basket I’m using Jiffy-Pots, which are biodegradable. You can literally plant the entire container in the ground. They’re basically thick paper cups, so it’s easy to punch holes in the sides.

And that’s the first step…punch holes on each side of your Jiffy-Pot.

Then you plant your flower of choice right into this earth-friendly little pot.

Lastly, thread the ribbon through the holes and tie knots on each side.

That’s it! You’re ready to spread May Day cheer.

{THREE} Aluminum Can-Do 

This sweet little number didn’t even require a trip to the store. Here are the only supplies you’ll need. >>

I used a can of corn in a recipe last night, so I upcycled an aluminum can. Then I “shopped” around my craft area for a pretty piece of paper and ribbon. The flowers were plucked from outside..white hydrangea and soft lambs ear.

First I covered the can with pretty paper.

Then I arranged my flowers. I kept this one pretty simple…tucking lambs ear down into the giant hydrangea blossom.

Here’s the back side where you can see the final step.

I tied ribbon around the top so I could create a loop to hang from the front door.

Note: An alternative idea would be to drill a small hole on each side of the can so you can create a more balanced arrangement.

{FOUR} Paper Plates & Goodies

For the candy lovers in your life, this would make a fun May Day surprise. Here are the supplies needed for this bright and sunny basket. >>

You’ll need a small paper plate (cut in half), a piece of pretty paper cut to the size of one of the halves, flowers, candies and ribbon.

I went with a “sunny” theme and gathered all kinds of yellow treats. The yellow pansies are from my front garden and the M&Ms were a special purchase. I had the paper and ribbon in my craft area.

To get the basket started, put the two paper plate halves facing each other. Staple the bottom to secure and punch holes on the sides for your ribbon.

I wanted to give the plate a facelift, so I glued a piece of decorative paper to the front.

The plate dips down on the edges, but I like having the paper cover the entire surface.

Here’s a better look. You can see how the paper is flat across the entire plate. It also leaves room for you to thread your ribbon.

This is a view of the finished basket with the ribbon tied to each side.

Now for the really fun part…filling the basket.

I used floral water tubes for the pansies to help keep them fresh and hydrated. You can get these at any floral shop. They also help bundle the pansies together, making it easier to tuck into the basket.

This is the final product with the candies and flowers ready to rock.

{FIVE} Triple Scoop Flower Cone

This is the most traditional style of all of the May Day baskets – with a paper cone. I also used tissue paper flowers so the entire thing is waterless. Here are the supplies. >>

In the upper left I have a stack of tissue paper to make the flowers. I also have floral picks with wire to help secure the paper flowers and give them “stems.”

The upper right is a piece of decorative paper for the cone. And in the lower right you can see I tossed in some greenery. It was actually left over from my front door wreath project. (More on that next week!)

I started by making the paper cone. I just rolled the the paper into the shape of a cone and secured the seam with clear tape.

As a tip, use double-sided paper so there’s a fun design peeking through the back.

Okay, now for the flowers. You’ve probably made tissue paper flowers before, but here’s a quick primer.

Fold a small stack of tissue paper back and forth (like a fan) until the entire thing is folded. Pinch it in the middle and secure with your wire floral pick.

Here’s what it looks like attached to the pick.

Working slowly so you don’t tear the tissue, gently pull and separate each of the layers. I like to work one side at a time.

Then work the other side until it looks like a full bloom! Repeat the process so you have several flowers for your basket.

Once you have all of your goodies ready, tuck everything into your paper cone. Finally, punch a hole in the back of the cone and thread your ribbon so you have a way to hang your beautiful bouquet.

That’s a wrap, my friends. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and give one of these baskets a try. Let me know how it goes.

Blessings,

Kate

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An Easy Easter Centerpiece

Hello, sweet friends! As promised, I wanted to give you the quick rundown on this super easy centerpiece that would look beautiful on your Easter table. And it’s so easy, you’d have time to run to the garden store and assemble this for the morning. Promise.

I have lots of pictures, so let’s get right to it! >>

Start with a pretty basket. I found this metal basket on sale at Hobby Lobby. The scalloped edges and two little birds resting on the ledge are what sold me. <3

Add liners. This will keep any dirt and water from leaking on your table. I used two round, plastic liners to fit this particular basket. I’d recommend taking your basket to the garden store to be sure you find the right fit.

Gather your plants. I bought several six-packs of flowers from the store, and then I separated them (by cutting them apart with scissors) into single planters. You can see a sample below.

Arrange your plants. This is the fun part. Take all of your individual flowers and spread them around your mini garden.

I used a mix of dusty miller, petunias and colorful portulaca. The girls thought the bright colors looked like Easter eggs. (We’ll actually add some of those in a moment.)

This is a close up look at how I arranged the planters. I just plopped them down into the liners.

Add some green moss. To fill in the empty spots and give the centerpiece a cohesive look, I decided to use preserved moss.

You can get this from Hobby Lobby, Walmart or any craft store. If you’ve never worked with it before, it’s easier to use when it’s wet. So run it under the faucet, squeeze the excess water, and then you can pull it apart without it shedding everywhere.

Here’s a top view of the arrangement with moss.

Here’s a close up of the moss so you can see I tucked it into the corners. Since my basket has wide openings on the side. I also tucked some along all of the edges.

Decorate with eggs. You can use any Easter decorations you have on hand. I happened to have pastel eggs that I bought at Walmart last season. I just scattered them around the arrangement.

Enjoy! Here’s a picture of the final arrangement.

Once the Easter celebrations are over, I plan to pull the flowers out of the arrangement and plant them directly into my garden. That way I can enjoy them all summer long.

I hope you’ll give this a try. Let me know how it goes – and what flowers you end up using. Have a beautiful day!

Blessings,

Kate

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Garden Store Fairy Gardens!

Now that it’s officially spring and my daffodils, pansies and lantana are popping up throughout my garden, I’m more than eager to pull on my gloves and hit the dirt. That also means I’m ready to skip over to the garden store – my home away from home.

On my most recent trip, I noticed tons of fairy gardens tucked into corners here and there. They made me so happy, I took pictures and wanted to share them with you. >>

Things to notice: A piece of driftwood as the “house”, the miniature twig furniture and door (which were for sale inside the garden shop), broken pieces of slate as a walkway, and a blue marble used as a gazing ball. I also love the purple shamrocks on the right.

Things to notice: The low basket this is planted in – and that darling house! I don’t know where they got this, but I love the roof and rounded door. The miniature furniture and watering can were for sale in the store. Also notice the use of a pine cone – like a little tree. Speaking of trees…look at the beautiful Goshiki False Holly on the back right. I never would have thought to put one of those in a fairy garden! The monkey grass on the front is also a cool choice.

Things to notice: Again with the fabulous house, and look at the sweet bench out front with a butterfly wing-shaped back. Love the choice of plants here, too. Great color with what I think is a type of Persian Shield. The Dwarf Umbrella on the back right adds wonderful height.

Things to notice: Yes, the house. This reminds me of a shaker-style home with a double chimney. What fairy wouldn’t love to live here? There’s more darling furniture, too. Notice the mini stone pillars at the entrance to the slate walkway. And the mushrooms on either side of the house add a pop of color. Oh, and we can’t forget the little succulents next to the front door – planted in mini urns, of course. The bushes in the front are juniper! Wouldn’t a juniper bonsai be incredibly cool in a fairy garden?

Things to notice: The mini garden gnomes. (Do you see the one hiding in the back with a red cap?) I also love the white picket fence with a stone entrance into the garden of ferns and other multi-colored plants. The painted red pot that holds it all together is a cute touch, too.

Things to notice: This comes with its own fairy…and her bike. Love the slice of wood that makes a platform for the bike. This one also used the picket fencing and stone entrance. I like the assortment of plants a little better here. Lots of texture and some varied color = very pretty.

Things to notice: Um, the PLAYGROUND. It’s complete with a swing set, slide and park benches. And look at the flag bunting that surrounds the mini park. I can’t even. Too cute!!

Things to notice: While this isn’t a fairy garden per se, I love the mix of ferns and the little stone bird tucked inside of this basket – that looks more like a nest. You could very easily add some fairy furniture and invite them to move in under the foliage.

That concludes our little tour. I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t quite had enough, here are more pictures to explore. I created an entire board on Pinterest just for fairy gardens. #cantstopwontstop

Have a great day, and I’ll be back on Friday with a few ideas for Easter. Hip, hop, hooray!

Blessings,

Kate

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Inspiration for Your Fall Garden

We’re inching closer and closer to fall, y’all. That makes my heart so happy. I love this time of year – especially in the garden. Earlier in the week I shared a few tips on getting our tools primed and ready, now it’s time to get some inspiration for what to plant!

Here’s a collection of ideas I’m thinking about. What’s on your fall planting list?

Culinary Herbs & Veggies

Some of the things I planted in the spring will carry over, like my tomatoes. Other things I have to plant fresh. For instance…

fresh lettuce

Fresh lettuce, anyone?!

One of my favorite things to plant in cooler weather is lettuce. So many varieties grow really well in the fall – and they’re quick to sprout straight from a packet of seeds! Instant gratification. Rosie our rabbit kinda loves it, too.

Parsley

Remember that one time I expressed my love for this underrated herb?

I also love planting fresh batches of parsley, basil and chives this time of year.

If you want a few other ideas, this is a little cheat sheet I tore out of a magazine back in 2008. Not even kidding. I keep this tucked away in my “garden” files. Yes, I have a manila folder for stuff like this. #cantstopwontstop

fall-veggies

If you zoom in, you’ll see broccoli, peppers, beets, radishes, spinach, cauliflower and peas added to this list.

Perfect Planters

In addition to tending to my personal farmer’s market, I like to jazz up the rest of the garden and entryway with some fall flair. I shift my overall color palette away from pinks and move toward purples. Pumpkins add a pretty orange accent.

Here are a few of my favorite combinations right now >>

fall-planter-with-tall-grasses

{via} You’ll notice purple fountain grass is kind of a theme in some of these ideas. I love the height you get with it, and it add texture with its feathery tips.

orange-leaves-with-kale

{via} This is quite a showstopper that uses yellow mums, bright peppers (and even a few artificial leaves) tucked in to accent the purple kale and fountain grass. So pretty!!

{via} This layered effect is really nice. The pop of orange from the pumpkins is awesome. And I like the combination of mums with the silvery dusty miller on the lower planter.

fall-planter-with-purple-and-bittersweet

{via} This colorful combo uses bittersweet at the base. You could easily find a wreath of bittersweet, and drape it around your planter to create this look. I also love the purple Mexican bush sage standing at attention in the back.

{via} This has such a lovely rustic look, doesn’t it? Both planters have coleus mixed with these honey supertunias.

purple-combination

{via} This purple bundle includes kale, mums, heuchera, and ornamental black pepper. I think it would be gorgeous with either white or orange pumpkins for fall. You could even accent the base of the urn with a burlap ribbon. Oooh,..

sweet-potato-and-coleus

{via} Finally, look at this luscious planter. It’s such a pretty combination of sweet potato vine and different varieties of coleus.

I could seriously search the Interwebs all day looking for gardening ideas. Online window shopping is the best. What ideas do you have? Let me know what’s going in your garden and planters!

One last note, if you’re curious about when to transplant some of your garden goodness, here’s a simple guide from this handy place. >>

XoXo,

Kate

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Why It’s Important to Clean Your Gardening Tools

garden-prevention

Whether you’re a beginner or master gardener, cleaning and taking care of your tools is essential. It not only protects your tools from rust, but also keeps your plants healthy.

Each time you clean your trowel, you’re removing soil that may have been contaminated by diseased plants. The same goes for your pruners. You want to sanitize them before each use so you don’t spread disease or bacteria around your pretty garden.

Which Tools to Clean?

Even the simplest patio garden requires a few tools, such as a trowel, pruners or kitchen scissors. And these hand tools are the most important ones to keep tidy. You use them the most – and they’re more likely to touch more things in the garden.

A few good ones to consider…

Gardening Trowel

This is considered one of the best gardening trowels.

Quality Pruners

best-gardening-pruners

These pruners are ranked the best in their category.

Hand Weeder

This is considered the best tool to is the best tool to extract, uproot, disrupt, and behead the most common small weeds invading your garden.

This is the best tool to extract, uproot, disrupt, and behead the most common small weeds invading your garden.

Tip: If you’re new to the hobby of gardening, this is one of the best articles I’ve found on understanding garden tools and what you really need. It’s definitely worth a read.

 Let’s Get Crackin’

Here are a few simple ways to keep your hand tools in prime condition.

Season Kickoff

Right now would be a great time to do these 4 simple steps – especially if you’re getting ready to do some fall planting.

  1. Spray each tool with WD-40.
  2. Dip each tool in and out of a bucket of sand until the grime is gone.
  3. Brush off the sand and let air dry.
  4. Once dried, store the tools in a bucket of sand.

After Each Use

Rinse with soapy water, dry your tools, and then store them (sharp ends facing down) in a bucket of sand. Why sand? It absorbs moisture and keeps your tools squeaky clean.

For pruners, be sure to sanitize with Lysol wipes or a sanitizing spray after each use.

beautiful-potting-area

Wouldn’t this be the most heavenly place to stash your gardening goodies?!

Season Wrap

Once you’ve had a hard freeze and the season is wrapping up for winter, you can clean your tools with WD-40 again, as you did for the season opener.

If you have wooden handles on any of your tools, smooth out any rough spots by gently rubbing with sandpaper. Then rub a small amount of linseed oil to preserve the wood and reduce splintering in the future. If you notice any rust, scrub the area with steel wool and try spraying with a rust-resistant primer.

vintage-garden-tools

Once your tools are clean, smooth and dry, you can store them in the bucket of sand in your shed.

bucket-of-sand

I hope that was helpful. Be sure to stop back on Thursday for some garden inspiration. I’ll share a few of my favorite veggies and plants for the fall.

XoXo,

Kate

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5 Ways to Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

Don’t you love how fresh flowers instantly brighten a room? It’s no wonder they’re used to celebrate special occasions or come attached with an apology or condolence. Flowers are our little messengers…expressing love, joy, hope, sorrow.

As special as they are, I try not to treat them like my China, though. I make them part of my every day life. For example, I keep rosemary next to the sink, so steam from the hot water releases its fragrance. Blooms always beam from our dining room and kitchen tables. And every now and then I’ll put sprigs of lavender on my night stand to soothe me to sleep.

My love of the garden certainly comes from my mom, and any knowledge of arranging flowers comes from this trendy little shop where I worked in college. The designers were crazy amazing, and I tried to soak up every ounce of inspiration.

My five favorite flower arranging tips

{ONE} Keep it Simple

lillies

Whether you’re snipping flowers from the garden or picking up a bunch from the store, think about choosing all the same color. Monochromatic designs are so simple – yet pretty.

For this arrangement I grabbed a bunch of white Alstroemeria lilies. I cut them all the same length and tucked them into a small vase. (We’ll talk about the vase in a bit.)

Another approach is to get different types of flowers that have the same color. That way you get a variety of textures in your arrangement.

{TWO} Play with Scale

sunflower

When you cut a long-stemmed flower really short, it gives it a more dramatic look. Take this sunflower for example. It’s not every day you get to look down on a sunny face like this. Wouldn’t it look cool to line up four or five of these down the middle of a dining room table?

I paired my sunflower with a few hostas from the garden, which gives it a fresh twist.

Speaking of hostas…I saw an episode of Fixer Upper where JoJo put single stems of hostas in tall clear vases arranged on a mantel. It was the perfect touch without being too fussy. It looked a little like this >>

{THREE} Branch Out with Your Greenery

greens

Most people think of leather leaf fern when it comes to greenery. But it can be way more fun to shop in your backyard for things to toss into your bouquet.

{Believe it or not, I did learn this from the flower shop. The owner would come back from a weekend in the woods with baskets of greens, pine cones, and twigs. He was so creative!}

Anyway, take a look at the picture above. You’ll see the top two plants are actually herbs. Sage is on the left and lemon thyme is on the right. They add not only texture, but also a nice fragrance.

The lower left was clipped from my boxwoods. These are full on bushes, you guys. And they make such pretty greenery. Then the lower right is a giant leaf from my Black-Eyed Susans!

arrangement with greens

Here’s how I pulled all of them into a small bouquet. BTW, this was just one of those $5.99 bouquets from Walmart. Look how the greenery makes it feel more like a true garden bundle.

{FOUR} Contain Your Blooms

vase

For a word or two about vases…

They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And they play a big role in how you pull your arrangements together. A square vase can give you a modern look, and a super tall vase can create an elegant display.

I have to say, though…if you’re not a work-at-home-florist with tape, wires, or frogs to help hold your flowers in place, you’re pretty much going to want a vase that has a small neck to hold your stems upright.

The one shown is my go-to because it has a narrow neck and flairs out at the edge to help the flowers fan out. That way they don’t look like I just shoved them down inside a vase.

{FIVE} Think Outside the Vase

vase with hostas

Okay, remember the vase from the first arrangement? Here’s a better look. I covered it with two hosta leaves, then secured them in place with raffia.

Below is what my leaf looked like to start. I cut the stem off the bottom before layering it around the vase.

hosta leaf

You can use any large leaf or even a row of sticks to line the sides of your vase. This helps cover any messy stems. Oh, you can also use ribbon or pretty scrapbook paper. Can you tell my wheels are spinning?

I think I’ll do another post sometime soon about the many ways to cover vases! In the meantime, I hope that was helpful.

Enjoy your Labor Day. And I’ll be back on Tuesday with a fun post about “new uses for old things”.

XoXoXo,

Kate

CupFiveonfriday

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Friday Wrap: Friends & Fun

We had an action-packed week with some dear friends in town visiting. Once things settled back into a routine, I found a few tidbits I wanted to share, so this week’s top five list is a bit of a mishmash. One thing that is the same…I’m happy it’s already Friday. Love me some short weeks.

excited otter

This is how I feel inside.

Now let’s get to wrappin’ up this week like a present, shall we?

{ONE} All Kinds of 4th Fun

I’ll start by sharing some pics from the weekend. It went by so fast, which usually means we were having buckets of fun. And I’m here to say that fun was had by all – kids, adults, and even the animals.

friends

The girls are showing off their first fireworks of the day. They shot off some parachutes, which were fun to chase down. In fact, I think we still have some on the roof.

friends at the market

This was taken on our way to the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. Look at our colorful ensemble.

avery and bear

You know how Avery loves bears? Well, she found one to play with at the market. (This is a beautiful mural on the side of a building in downtown Fayetteville, btw. I just love street art.)

weekend activities

This is a snapshot of a few more activities that filled our weekend. The kids had a blast painting each other’s faces, visiting Crystal Bridges Museum, eating Pedal Pops at the Farmers Market, and finally lighting some sparklers!! Notice the Solo cup hand protectors in the lower right? That was the best decision of the day. The kids could light sparklers without getting burned. #momwin

friends and tats

The adults had some fun, too! We’re showing off our temporary tats.

leo

Leo was such a trooper to put up with all of the madness.

{TWO} Lemonade for the Animals

As you can see, we packed in a lot of activities over the weekend. We even squeezed in some time for a lemonade stand! Our friends had the idea of donating the money to charity, and the kids picked our local animal shelter.

lemonade stand

Look at those cutie patooties. They even had stuffed animals on their stand to help sell the idea of helping animals. 😉

After the sale, the girls gathered their profits and shopped at PetCo for treats and toys. When we arrived at the shelter, the lady who greeted us said to go ahead and give everything to the animals. So we spent the next hour or so visiting each cage handing out treats and making some furry friends. They were so excited to see us. It was hard not to take them all home. This is why I need a farm, people.

animal services

We could have stayed and played for days. In fact, the girls asked if we could go back soon to check on the friends we made. <3

evan with dog

This is Evan and Yoda. I have to tell you, at first Evan didn’t want to go with us. He was being a bit of a moody teenager. Once we got inside, though, something changed. His face softened and I think he really felt for these animals. He wanted to stop and pet each one. Later that night, he told me he was really glad he went. A good lesson for both of us. 🙂

{THREE} Vanilla Nut Bites

Okay, so on Saturday we decided to go swim at our friends’ pool. It was awesome to have our new, local friends meet our long-time college friends. It turns out they’re all from Nebraska, which is even cooler. (Go Big Red!)

Anyway, this is the occasion where I was introduced to these balls of goodness called Vanilla Nut Bites. They are delicious, easy to make, and healthy – my three favorite ingredients.

vanilla nut bites on a pan

I forgot to mention they’re also no-bake, which makes them ideal for summer snacking. Don’t go heating up that oven if you don’t have to. I rolled these up in less than 10 min.

Are you ready for the recipe? Here’s all you need…

vanilla nut bites

Vanilla Nut Bites

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Roll into balls (using a cookie scoop or something similar to make it easier) and put in freezer or fridge to set.

I’m tellin’ you, they are so good. And be prepared for inappropriate jokes about balls and nuts when you serve them – especially if anyone has had a glass of wine or two and/or has seen the SNL skit about schweddy balls.

{FOUR} Sweetest Tomatoes

While we’re on the topic of food, I have to announce we had our first garden tomatoes this week. It really happened.

With so much going on I hadn’t properly tended to the garden in awhile. The kids were playing outside and noticed something bright red in the tomato patch. Lo’ and behold, we had not one, but almost a dozen ripe tomatoes!

We quickly had a salad celebration complete with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a dash of sea salt. (That’s my favorite way to eat a fresh-sliced tomato. Sometimes I’ll add a basil leaf on top.)

They tasted so good, and I was reminded to add a bit of baking soda to the soil to help sweeten our next batch. Do you do that, too?

I also plant marigolds around the base of my tomatoes to help naturally keep bugs away. I think my mom gave me that tip. Anyway, happy tomato season!

tomatoes

I decided to put my tomatoes in whiskey barrels this year, because I read that the leaves are poisonous to dogs. I needed to keep them out of our backyard and away from Leo.

{FIVE} Fruit Fly Trap

This last item on my list is super random, but super helpful if you’re dealing with fruit flies at the moment.

All of the fresh summer fruits and veggies I’ve been picking up at the market (and now growing in my garden) have been attracting some unwanted guests. I get flocks (?) of fruit flies in one spot of my kitchen, so I started filling a small measuring cup with apple cider vinegar and a drop of dish soap (to help the flies stick to the vinegar). It works like magic!

fly trap

This darling cup is from the Pioneer Woman set. If you look closely, you can see a fruit fly already landed. I literally just poured this and it’s already working. Bam.

Thanks so much for stopping by and seeing what we’ve been up to in the Andersen house. We leave for our big trip to South Dakota next weekend, so you might see me pinning lots of things to my new Road Trip Tips board. All ideas are welcomed, so let me know your must-do, must-have road trip items!

XoXo,

Kate

CupFiveonfriday

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Eating & Drinking with Fresh Herbs

My herbs are growing like mad in the garden! There’s so much more than I can personally consume, so I decided to share some lemon thyme and sweet mint with my co-workers. I left large mason jars full of herbs in the kitchen area, and it was fun walking through the building and seeing so many people enjoying the harvest.

It appeared most people were quick to snatch up the mint, putting it in their ice water and teas, but no one took the thyme. They kept saying, “ I wouldn’t know what to do with it.” I’ve also heard this about lemon balm, sage, oregano and dill.

Culinary herbs have been a staple in my kitchen since I was a little girl. I owe that to my master gardener mom, who is also affectionately called The Herb Lady by her gardening friends. So maybe I’ve come to take my understanding of herbs for granted?

Herbs are pretty miraculous, really.

They not only spice up a dish or sweeten a drink, but also soothe stomaches, heal wounds and calm emotions. Once you understand their flavors and properties, they can become an essential part of your home.

While I have a decent understanding of basic culinary herbs, I’m definitely no expert. I ask my mom questions all the time. I also lean on google. In my searches, I found a few charts and recipes I thought were perfect for printing and posting in the kitchen.

In the spirit of sharing, I though you might enjoy them, as well…

If you want to dive right into heaven, try making herb butters. These are one of the items listed on the chart above, and they’re super easy to make. Here’s a an incredible recipe from a fellow blogger…

You can find 29 more butter herb recipes here!

As the saying goes, “I cook with wine. And sometimes I even add it to the food.” That’s me to a T. Check out this amazing chart that shows how to pair wine with herbs. Yes! I’ve never seen it laid out quite so nicely. Get a full look here.

Still on the topic of drinking herbs, here’s a lovely recipe for Summer Herbal Tea.

herbal teas

summer herbal tea recipe

Get the full recipe here.

Hopefully some of these charts and recipes give you a few ideas. (I promise to keep sharing.) And if a neighbor offers fresh goods from the garden, you can take full advantage of this flavorful gift.

Also, feel free to leave a comment with any additional tips or even questions you might have. If I don’t know the answer, I bet my mom does. 😉

Happy growing (and sipping) season, my friends.

-Kate

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