mixed greens Christmas tree

Last week I shared our front door decor for the holidays which is relatively simple and traditional.  Less seems to be more this year…

holiday door decor-5217 PM

I’ve been utilizing what nature has to offer as winter approaches.  We’re seeing beautiful holly, dried marsh grasses and bushy cedar beginning to take center stage.  A brisk walk in the woods will provide you with enough supplies to make your very own mixed greens tree.

DIY mixed greens tree

If you’ve read the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens, you may know where I am going with this project…

garden Christmas tree

There are two very important tools that you’ll need to construct this tree:  Florist wire and a tomato cage.  An upside down tomato cage creates the perfect cone shape!  You’ll need to find some sort of base for your tree.  I used a vintage enamel pot.  The handles were perfect for the tomato cage to sit on.  Wire the 3 “legs” together on top to create the point of the tree form.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-141616

I started creating the tree with cedar cuttings first and followed the lateral lines of the cage, wiring each piece on as I went.  Besides the top point, I wired all greens facing down (stems up) so it looked natural.

DIY tomato cage christmas tree-142539

After all lateral lines are wired, it looked kind of hairy.  Perseverance pays off.  Keep going!  I wired greens on the horizontal lines starting with the bottom first, making sure to overlap the enamel pot.  Each subsequent layer covers the stems and mechanics of the previous layer.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-142901

Finally, fill in your cage so it looks like a nice, full tree.  I stuck holly branches in without even wiring them.  I also “decorated” the tree with dried grasses and a burlap ribbon remnant.

DIY mixed greens Christmas tree

My DIY mixed greens tree is a little bit wild but it was fun and free to make!  It took about 30 minutes to complete.  And what else was I going to do with my tomato cage in December?

believe Christmas sign-5255

I have been back at milk painting holiday themed signs and boards as well…

holly jolly Christmas sign-5250

Oh deer!

oh deer!

 

 

 

autumn transitions

Being that we’ve reached mid-November, Christmas decorating is at full blast in the retail sector and even in some homes.  Remember when Thanksgiving was strictly a fall decor holiday?  Now it seems like it can go either way – burnt orange and crunchy leaves on the last Thursday in November OR a red and green feast.  Me personally, I am ready for Christmas decor and have been decking our retail halls.  The selling season is really short after all.  However, I don’t switch our own home decor until after Thanksgiving.  The best of both worlds!

Here are two fresh and fantastic wreath ideas that lend themselves to either holiday.  Better yet, they can don your door for both – more bang for your buck!

Southern magnolia wreaths are pretty much season-less.  Their rich green leaves dry out and get better looking with age.

Southern magnolia wreaths

The green leaves contrast against the coppery underside in such a beautiful way.

coppery magnolia leaves

The silver dollar eucalyptus wreath is an oldie but goodie in terms of style.  This silvery-blue-green wreath can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through the winter months.  It can easily be dressed up with burlap or velvet ribbon.

silver dollar eucalyptus wreath

What holiday spirit are you in?

 

home for the plants

With the fear of frost looming at the end of October, we had to come up with a suitable winter home for our plant collection which was taking up residence outside and our deck.

succulents reclaimed wood plant stand-4993

They’re now sitting pretty in our living room amongst my favorite pair of vintage chairs.

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug,  reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug, reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase, locker

terra cotta & olive, mohair chair

We came up with a game plan to extend our sunny bay windowsill in order to accommodate the plants and my favorite vintage pots, bowls and vases.  We started with fantastic weathered old 1×6 lumber that has almost a barnwood-like quality.  We needed 6 – 5 foot boards in total.  The boards previously made up a section of simple post and beam fencing in our yard.  Each was stripped down to expose the worn grain.  Two boards were paired together to make a 12 inch deep shelf.  Three sets of boards were attached vertically to one another to create a 3-tier shelf system.

simple DIY: reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand/ bookcase

Plumbing pipe shelving is not a new concept but we came up with our own simple plant stand version using pipes and fittings to connect the unit.  There are 2 connecting points on each shelf therefore we used a total of 4 – 9 inch plumbing nipples and 8 flanges which screw into the wood.  These also double nicely as book ends.  The plumbing materials were the most expensive part of this DIY project.

olive tree,  reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand-4999

We decided on a set of simple 7 inch turned legs for the bottom which cost less than $5 each at Lowe’s.   The raw wood of the legs and shelves received an application of hemp oil for a durable water repellent topcoat which also left a subtle stain highlighting the wood grain.

succulent garden, reclaimed wood plant stand-4992

simple DIY: reclaimed wood + pipe plant stand-

The plants have happily been relocated to the new plant stand where they are enjoying the expansive window and, normally, bright light.

indoor terra cotta succulent garden, reclaimed wood plant stand-4993

These snaps are from this morning during a dreary, cold November rain.  I love the mix of terra cotta amongst the saturated colors in the kilim rug and mohair chairs – all vintage finds of course.  Such a cozy new space!

vintage mohair chair, kilim rug, reclaimed wood plant stand bookcase

bookmark it

Busy bees over here.  Would you believe we are about knee-deep in Christmas inventory and decor for the shop?  True story.  But I’m not ready to jump the gun and share photos of Christmas just yet.  We are, however, stocking more books this time of year as they make the perfect gift.  I am very excited about the selection of garden to table books we have at The West End Garage in Cape May.

garden to table book inventory at West End Garage-4717

The newest release is the The Kitchn Cookbook from Apartment Therapy’s sister website, The Kitchn.  I’ve been paging through it the last couple of days.  This isn’t just a cookbook but more of a textbook with some really practical lessons like knife skills and kitchen layout.  The Kitchn Cookbook

I truly enjoy all of these gardening, cooking and cocktail books and reference them in my own home.  They live right in the kitchen.  We recently picked up a potting bench that we’re using as a microwave cart.  It is a fantastic addition to our kitchen.  Check out that zinc top!  The drawer holds linens and the shelf neatly organizes those books.  In addition, the pegs on the side allow tea towels to hang.

zinc top potting bench as microwave cart

We also started stocking Philadelphia-made diagram tea towels from Girls Can Tell.  I love their quirky designs and am especially drawn to the garden themes.  The evergreens are new in store.

Girls Can Tell for sale at West End Garage-4719

And while we’re making the rounds of new inventory, I must tell you about my latest obsession.  P.F. Candle Co. has the most delightful scents.  We’ve got some seasonal scents such as apple picking and pumpkin spice.  I can’t decide which is my favorite.  The simple packaging and branding make me very happy.  Check out the cute little amber jars.

autumn soy candle at West End Garage

We pulled the trigger and got these adorable ceramic egg crates in as well.  I’ve been using mine for years and am glad to share this novelty in the shop.  The egg crate makes a perfect gift paired with The Fresh Egg Cookbook for under $25!  Just sayin.

egg crate

So that about covers the “new” inventory we are stocking.  We are rolling out more and more vintage pieces every week.  In fact, we are running a sale on select furniture currently at The West End Garage.  Come in and check it out!

Fall Furniture Sale

I’ll leave you with this image.  Our popular autumn wreath on my favorite old chippy door.  Love the contrast in colors!  How about you?

autumn wreath at West End Garage-4747

seed saving

seed saving-4678We had a prolific crop of bush beans this year.  It was probably the best yield in the garden, second to lettuce, with no pest issues.  We planted three rounds of bush beans in purple, green & yellow.  The purple is my favorite simply because they turn green when you cook them.  Right before your eyes!  We’ve been eating them fresh for a couple of months and I blanched and froze some for winter.

As we continue to harvest more, I’ve grouped the pods together in bunches to dry out.  Once the bean pods are all shriveled up, they’re ready for seed saving.  The pods open up pretty easily along the seam with a fingernail or scissors. And boom, there’s next year’s seeds so we can do it all over again.  A frugal little DIY…

seed saving

I have repeated these steps with snap peas as well so we have a little stash of peas to plant next spring.  This is a fun garden task to engage kids in.  The seeds are big so they’re hard to lose although I’ve had a few pop out of the pod and fly across the room!

These seeds are, in fact, the actual bean.  As in, the dry bean you buy from the store so we could always soak them and eat them this winter.  It is just another way to preserve the bean harvest.  I think we’ll plant a bigger crop next year so we can produce a decent amount of dry beans.  At this point, we have a few dozen – enough to plant but certainly not enough for a bean soup!

seed saving jar

Speaking of next year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2015 is now available at The West End Garage.  I took a sneak peek at the weather forecasts!  Let’s just say that we may have been spoiled by our mild summer weather this year.

The Old Farmer's Almanac 2015 now available at The West End Garage

welcoming autumn

autumn

 

 

 

We’ve been soaking up the changing seasons here with walks on the beach, bike rides, flower picking and wood stacking amongst our usual work. I am a bit smitten with a field of beautifully decaying sunflowers.  Their great big heads full of seeds ready for sowing next year (or snacking this year).

All of the marsh grasses are in bloom showcasing a soft pink hue as the sun catches them waving in the breeze.  Honeysuckle has faded on the beach dunes making way for cheerful goldenrod which has always been a favorite roadside weed.  And the sunsets… phenomenal.

What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?

 

goldenrod autumn sunflowers

autumn equinox