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

blast from the past

Macrame and String Art are two trends from the 60′s, 70′s & 80′s that are having quite the moment again.  In fact, they have been for a while now.  We’re seeing vintage versions crop up as well as handmade and manufactured reproductions.

I personally have fully embraced both in our home.  The vintage versions, of course, which have been sparking conversations amongst visitors.

Macrame is the art of making textiles through tying knots.  Plant hangers have been the most abundant version out there.  Over the winter I scored two macrame plant hangers each with coordinating glazed planters at an estate sale.  I just love the combo.

macrame and glazed planter

Don’t remind Ryan of this but a few years ago while having a deep conversation about decorating he made a suggestion that involved macrame planters and beaded curtains.  Naturally I rolled my eyes and wouldn’t even entertain the thought of either.  I can assure you that I stand firm on the beaded curtains though.

macrame and glazed planter

String art is usually constructed on a one-dimensional surface.  It is characterized by geometric and usually abstract shapes made by stringing thread from point to point, usually nails or pins.  It is a very calculated design.

We have this gigantic string art displayed on our screened in porch.  My father-in-law made it over 30 years ago!  Such precision and patience he has.  There are more where that came from too.  Isn’t it cool?  Or should I say groovy…

String Art

So tell me, where do you stand on the return of both macrame and string art?  The previous generation’s Do It Yourself projects.  Love or loathe?

all of that kale

The garden is off to a great start this spring. We’ve had warm, sunny days and cool, misty nights. As a result, we’re harvesting bunches and bunches of lettuce plus a bunch of leafy kale every other day.

leafy kale

The more frequently it is harvested, the higher the yield.  I hate to let any of it go to waste because I know once the temperatures soar these greens will bolt leaving me wishing for just one more kale infused smoothie.  And I’ve tried but I’m just not into kale chips.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3701
In order to maximize the kale harvest and make it last well into summer I’ve come up with a plan.  After washing the bunch of kale and trimming the stems, I toss it into a pan and blanch it.  This only takes a few minutes.  I usually do it while making dinner.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3694

Then, with tongs, I place the wilted greens into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

making kale cubes

Pop the tray in the freezer and we’ve got kale cubes.  The cubes are ready to chill any smoothie or to toss into any soup, stir fry or side dish.  I put the excess cubes in a freezer bag to make room for more.  There’s another harvest right behind this one!

Maximizing the Harvest - kale cubes

I recently read an interesting article about the benefits of using cooked kale vs. raw kale in smoothies.  What do you think?  What is your preference?

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?

springtime potting

We’ve been spending all of our spare time in the garden lately. The passing soaking rains, followed by sunshine have left impressive growth on our snap peas and carrot seedlings among other things. We’re already harvesting salad greens. I can’t wait to share more from our garden as it matures.

lettuce

In the meantime, I did a little work for your garden.

Eulalie's Sky Milk Paint Potting Bench #mmsmilkpaint

How cute is this potting bench?  It conveniently doubles as a stand alone cocktail bar on a patio or deck too!  Also, the sides and shelves fold in for easy peasy storage.

Eulalie's Sky Potting Bench

I love the cottage blue color.  The bench is newly constructed from pressure treated raw pine.  I mixed up some milk paint in Eulalie’s Sky and applied one coat.  It absorbed evenly into the raw wood like a stain leaving a rustic finish in some areas where the wood grain and knots showed through.

Ptting Bench

To finish it and ensure durability outside in the elements, I applied a coat of tung oil.  This will protect the wood and repel water.  Tung oil can be re-applied annually if necessary.

English Ivy

The potting bench and all of the plants pictured here are for sale at West End Garage.  The paint is too!

Can’t you just smell the rosemary?  My favorite!

Springtime Herbs