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!

 

 

 

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

hello september

Oh September!  How did you sneak up so quickly?  Quite bittersweet.  I do love fall however so I’m sure I’ll be ok. We’ve been catching some fantastic sunsets lately, a bit earlier than I’m comfortable with but they sure are stunning.

harvest sunset

Cape May celebrated Labor Day weekend with the annual Tomato Festival.  We had an impromptu tomato festival of our own at home after coming into 25 pounds of ripe, locally-grown tomatoes for a steal at a farm stand.

roasted tomato prep

We made pasta sauce, roasted tomatoes, tomato polenta, tomato salad and tomato omelets.   We’re a bit tomato-ed out here but we’ve got enough to last us into the winter, I think.  Nothing like seasoning each dish with complementary garden fresh herbs.

garden fresh herbs

I’m also enjoying our newest book that we just introduced to the inventory for harvest season.  Drink the Harvest has fantastic recipes for drinks made with more of your fruits, vegetables and herbs.  I think mint may be up next on the chopping block over here!  The new book is available at The West End Garage.

DrinktheHarvest

Let me also introduce this little guy.  He has a bit of a moody warmth about him…just in time for the changing season.  Kind of like your favorite slouchy sweater.

MMS typewriter, boxwood & brass mid-century nightstand

I love, love, love the unique brass hardware.  The bottom was painted in MMS milk paint boxwood and the rest is MMS milk paint typewriter with shutter gray peeking through.  I applied antiquing wax over the typewriter to really darken the color.  This nightstand is available at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

try something new

Oh, August!

This month has snuck up on me and it is moving way too fast.  I feel both a sense of panic and a sense of relief at this point in August.  Mostly just panic though.  The summer days are dwindling and there are far too many things I’d like to accomplish in the next two weeks.  It has been a busy summer nonetheless but there is still time to squeeze more in and try new things.  Cook new things.  Explore new places.  Take more pictures.

Please summer, don’t go!  We’re just getting acquainted…

Exploration

One of my friends dove into milk painting this week.  She is an experienced furniture painter but wasn’t into the notion of mixing her paint – a common objection with milk paint that can easily be overcome.  Well she decided to try new things and it has really paid off for her!

Check out this beautiful washstand done in Apron Strings.

Apron Strings Washstand

Apron Strings

This coffee table went from mid-century to farmhouse with Mustard Seed Yellow.

Mustard Seed Yellow Coffee Table

Musard Seed Yellow milk paint

This evening is the Petal Pushers floral design workshop at The Rhoads Garden in North Wales, PA.  We still have a few spots open and would love to have you if you’re local.  Come early so we’re sure to have a space set for you or send an email today letting us know you’ll be attending.  Try something new!

Petal Pushers Bike MS Fundraiser

 

celebrating june

Well, June is here! The weather is on the rise, the days are long, the water cool and strawberries are the pick of the moment.  These things will be celebrated, as they should be, on Saturday at the annual Strawberry Festival in West Cape May.  Be sure to walk across the street and visit us at the The West End Garage.  You might just stumble upon a free milk paint demonstration.  Will you be in Cape May this weekend?

strawberries
June milk paint demonstration at The West End Garage

Strawberry Festival

a walk through the garden

A thunderstorm washed through the area last night leaving everything in the garden looking extra lush and green this morning.  So much so that I decided this was the day to snap a few photos and share a status update on how things are progressing in the garden.

annuals garden box

This is the first year we’ve gardened this plot.  It runs about 4o feet long but only 18-24 inches deep on each side of the fence that divides the vegetables from the flowers.  These border gardens get full sun most of the day.  We decided to start out with a manageable size garden and we’ll add-on annually as desired.

vegetable and perennial border garden

On the exterior of the fence I’m working on a perennial garden.  Most of the plants are immature so I’ve been filling in with annuals.  I can’t wait to see how the perennial gardens thrive over the years.  Perennials gardens have always been my favorite to grow.  I am anticipating a cottage style cutting garden out here.  The thought of garden flower bouquets all summer long is delightful.

milk paint picket fence

The other side of the fence is where most of the action is happening as the flowers get established.  We started this vegetable garden in late March mostly from seed, directly sown.  We are now harvesting the early/cool weather vegetables such as lettuce.  If you come for dinner I can assure you that there will be a salad.

lettuce salad garden

And the snap peas are just darling.  I love their little tendrils and sweet flowers.

snap peas

We upcycled a trellis out of two crib rails.  Ryan just screwed them together making an A-frame.  They’ve already grown about 4 feet tall so looks like we’ll need to give them more space to climb.  Some snap pea varieties grow up to 8 feet.

upcycled snap pea trellis - crib rails

The other vegetables include carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beans and kohlrabi – planted mostly from seed.  Plus, we have a galvanized container garden for herbs.  I want to make tea with the relevant herb harvest.

vegetable garden milk painted fence

The fence is a new addition that we added in the fall.  Would you believe we used milk paint on the fence to achieve that subtle light blue?

milk paint on a picket fence #mmsmp

Yes, you can use milk paint outdoors!  It won’t fade from UV light and will be protected when a topcoat of tung oil is applied.  We sell tung oil with milk paint for this purpose.  The color was custom mixed eulalie’s sky and linen in more of a wash consistency. Then two thin coats were applied on a raw pine fence.  Perfect little cottage garden accent, don’t you think?

the beginning of a perennial cutting garden

But the best part of the garden is definitely the bounty it produces.  This morning, I harvested my first bunch of kale to enjoy with some locally grown strawberries in a breakfast smoothie.  Life can really be that simple.

locally grown produce

What are you growing?