These sunny April days have me craving the garden. All I want to do is get my hands dirty and dig in the soil. We’ve planted seventeen varieties of heirloom vegetable, herb and annual flower seeds with about six more to go. We’ve also established two new garden beds. I am calling one the pesto garden as it will become a patch of basil. There is never enough basil.
This year we’re sowing Hudson Valley Seed Co. organic heirloom seeds which we are now selling at The West End Garage. Not only are the seeds heirloom varieties but the packages are little pieces of art that are totally frame worthy. Each one is designed by a different artist which you can read about inside the envelope. I love beautiful packaging.
Some seeds were started indoors in the beginning of the month like our squash, tomatoes and zucchini.
Others were direct sown such as the salad mix, beets, carrots and peas.
To free up some space in the vegetable bed, we have created a kitchen container garden on the deck with the direct sow vegetables. The peas have just emerged and will soon be taking off up the lattice with a tub full of salad below. It’s nothing fancy but this little setup will be where our June salads are harvested.
I can’t wait to grocery shop from our yard all summer long! This one lonely kale made it through the cold winter. And the oregano is back with a vengeance. As is mint and lemon balm.
Once we get all of the vegetable seeds direct sown or transplanted we’ll shift our focus to the adjacent flower bed which is already offering a show. First with flowering bulbs and now with perennials which seem to grow an inch everyday. I plan to focus on companion planting between the flower and vegetable beds to repel some of the more common pests. Last year we had an issue with cabbage worms. We’ll be armed with scented geraniums to the thwart the worms.
This period of time, the spring days in the garden, is full of so much promise. I’m dreaming of June salads, kale smoothies and big bunches of zinnias. July zucchini bread and August caprese salad. Roasted eggplant and fresh tomato sauce. Yum!
What is growing in your garden?
Where are all of my milk painters? I’ve got a simple project to share with you today just in time for Easter.
I started by hard boiling eggs and letting them cool overnight…
When I’m working on a milk paint project, I almost always use a glass jar with a lid to mix the paint in. This allows me to store any excess paint for a future project. I had several jars with just a tiny bit of paint left so I added some water and mixed up the pigment which resulted in a watercolor paint consistency.
Next, I carefully slid the egg into the jar allowing it to soak in the paint mixture for a few minutes. I splattered paint on some of the eggs with a brush. Using a plastic spoon, I slid each egg out of the jar and set it to dry thoroughly.
Prior to painting, I taped off a few of the eggs with floral tape which proved to be too heavy-duty for the delicate shell in some cases. I like the look of the watercolor eggs without tape best anyway. The dyed eggs have a very simple, organic look to them using this watercolor method. Multiple colors could easily layered on each egg if you’re looking for more pizazz in your Easter basket.
Last week I shared our front door decor for the holidays which is relatively simple and traditional. Less seems to be more this year…
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.
If you’ve read the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens, you may know where I am going with this project…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I have been back at milk painting holiday themed signs and boards as well…
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.
The green leaves contrast against the coppery underside in such a beautiful way.
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.
What holiday spirit are you in?
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.
They’re now sitting pretty in our living room amongst my favorite pair of vintage chairs.
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.
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.
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.
The plants have happily been relocated to the new plant stand where they are enjoying the expansive window and, normally, bright light.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?