Archive of ‘My Home and Garden’ category

My Summer Garden

crepe myrtle blooms

Hi everyone, how is your weekend going? My summer garden is in full bloom this week, so I grabbed my camera–and two of my pups–and headed outside to enjoy the show. I snapped some pictures to share here while the pups enjoyed a sniff-a-thon and then settled down to catch a few rays. My crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom this week. Aren’t they beautiful?

hardy hibiscus blooms

These hardy hibiscus will continue to bloom daily until early fall. I planted them outside my kitchen window so I can enjoy the show from inside the house and watch the hummingbirds drinking their nectar. Hummingbirds can’t resists these huge, red blooms. I saw one this morning while I was drinking my coffee and two others this afternoon, including one little fellow with amazing blue feathers.

calla lily blooms

I planted these calla lilies three years ago, and they get bigger and fuller each year. And the best thing about crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies–besides the fact that they bloom in tandem–is that they require almost no care. Just add water during extreme dry spells. That’s it! Easy peasy. Here are a few more pictures of my garden.

summer garden featuring crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies

summer garden

summer garden

summer garden

How pretty are these purple blooms and aqua bench? It’s a good thing I have a large stock of aqua spray paint. I see more aqua garden furniture in my future. What’s growing in your garden this week?

Brownie Cupcakes

brownie cupcakes

Redemption cupcakes. Cupcakes you bake to redeem yourself after the cupcakes you brought to work last week (made from a recipe you’d never tried before) were an epic fail. That’s what my sister calls the cupcakes she brought to our family watercolor fest. Made with just five ingredients, you can whip up a batch of these decadent brownie cupcakes any time–whether you need to redeem yourself or not. These cupcakes are so moist that icing is not necessary, but if you’re an icing lover this fluffy white icing made with marshmallow cream is the perfect topping. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my sister’s redemption cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the melted butter and chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a cupcake pan prepared with cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

So the next time you serve a dessert that flops to friends or coworkers and you want to restore their faith in your cooking skills, redeem yourself with these babies.

 

Decked Out for Summer Entertaining Part II

Colorful deck accessories

Now that my deck furniture has been freshened up with a new coat of stain, I couldn’t wait to bling out my deck with lots accessories in bright colors. Since the umbrella I bought last year is still in great shape, I chose a palette of green, orange, yellow, and red to complement the umbrella then added some fun stripes and polka dots.

Colorful deck accessories

The sea grass chargers and wooden napkin rings are from Pottery Barn.

Colorful desk accessories

The polka dotted pots from A. C. Moore came in handy for storing plastic knives, spoons, and forks.

Colorful deck accessories

I bought the green place mats, colorful candles, plastic plates, dip bowls, and napkins at Target. It’s a goldmine for affordable outdoor accessories.

Colorful deck accessories

The cute plastic pitcher was a gift from my mother. Thanks, mom!

Colorful deck accessories

What would I do without my two favorite stores, Target and Pottery Barn? What’s your go-to place for inexpensive outdoor accessories?

Decked Out for Summer Entertaining

Outdoor Dining Furniture Makeover

Remember this beautiful Faraday outdoor dining table and chairs that I bought last year from Pottery Barn? Well, they weren’t beautiful for long. After exposure to the sun and summer rains the finish faded, bubbled, and peeled off. So within a few short weeks after I purchased the set, it looked like it had been exposed to the elements for years.

I’m typically a big fan of Pottery Barn, but this purchase was a huge disappointment. Normally, I would have returned the item or asked for a replacement but I loved the style of this set so much I figured I’d just strip the finish off and refinish it in the spring. Well, that’s exactly what I did this past weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

deck furniture makeover

Just look at this beautiful finish. It not only looks as good as new, I think it looks better than new. First, I stripped off the old finish with Strip-X Paint Remover, then I gave it a really good sanding (that was the most time-consuming part), and followed that up with three coats of Minwax Wood Finish in red mahogany. I love the new stain, the color is deep and rich. The type of Minwax I chose also contained polyurethane which resulted in the beautiful glossy finish shown above. And I’m pleased to report that it rained like crazy today and the finish is A-OK.

I found the cute lime and white polka dot pots at AC Moore. I bought the pots of fake grass at Pottery Barn several years ago. I’ll be posting pictures of my decked-out deck next plus photos of this weekend’s family summer watercolor fest, so stay tuned.

A Visit to the Bealeton Farmer’s Market

Fresh veggies from my local farmer's market

I stopped by the Bealeton, Virginia, farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and other goodies for my family. Just look at these freshly picked red onions; they still have their stalks attached. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. If you like to cook as much as I do, then you’ll definitely want to check out your local farmer’s market; it’s one of the pleasures of summer.

In addition to the Boston lettuce and gorgeous red onions pictured above, I bought some pulled pork, barbecued beef brisket, individual-sized servings of monkey bread, and a variety of home-made sausage (sweet Italian links, kielbasa, bratwurst, and several packs of bulk sausage).

Later that evening, I threw together this quick dinner featuring Italian sausage sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers, Amish potato salad, and fresh fruit.

Italian sausage sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers

The Bealeton farmer’s market is a seasonal open air market made up of farmers offering organic honey and meats, locally grown fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, baked goods, and hand-crafted items.

Jerry Headley and Theresa Shiflett from Andralynn Farm founded the market three years ago and it has drawn a steady stream of customers. The market is small and intimate but there is plenty of room for growth and additional vendors are welcome. Vendors pay $80.00 a piece to join the market for the season or $10.00 per week.  The vendor fees pay for signs and advertising, and this year vendor insurance is being offered free of charge.

Fresh fruits and vegetables from the Bealeton farmer's market

The market is located off of US Route 17 at Liberty Station Center (in front of Children of America) and runs from April 23rd through October 29th. Hours of operation are Saturdays from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm, although you can often find Jerry and Theresa there later in the afternoon selling their fabulous Honey Hog barbecue. For more information on the Bealeton farmer’s market email southernmarket@comcast.net or call 540-905-5663.

Honey Hog Barbecue Stand in Bealeton, Virginia

Come on out, ya’ll.

Gorgeous Light in My Garden Yesterday

Beautiful light in my garden

After two days of torrential rain, the sun finally made an appearance and filled my garden with gorgeous light. Everything looks so green and lush.

Enormous cloud formation

After the dark skies cleared, this huge sun-lit cloud formation took my breath away. How gorgeous are these clouds?

Huge cloud formation

In other news, after a two-week hiatus to focus on yard clean-up and home remodeling tasks, I finally started a new painting this evening. Check back later this week to see the finished painting. What’s new in your neck of the woods?

Quick Spring Bedroom Makeover

Quick and easy spring bedroom makeover

I continued my spring home refresher project this weekend with a quick, easy, and inexpensive makeover of my of daughter’s bedroom. Her bedroom walls used to be chocolate brown–a color she chose. I’ve never been a fan of neutral colors; I think they lack energy. Plus the brown paint made her room feel small and dark. So for this makeover I chose a light green paint (Hampton Green by Benjamin Moore). It transformed the room from dark and dreary into a fresh and soothing sanctuary. And I accomplished all this in one day with very little money. Here’s another picture.

Quick and easy spring bedroom makeover

I bought the matelasse coverlet, dust ruffle, pillow shams, lamps, and shades at Target. I love shopping at Target. It’s a treasure trove of great design at fabulous prices. Add a gallon or two of paint and you’ve got yourself a quick and inexpensive one-day spring makeover. Here’s a close-up view of the pillow shams. I love the pops of orange and bits of yellow.

Quick and easy spring bedroom makoever

And here are before and after photos. (I always love it when magazines show before and after shots.)

Quick and easy spring bedroom makeover - before and after photos

And here’s a picture of my dog, Mary, helping me work. My dogs have to be at the center of every activity.

My dog, Mary, helping during the photo shoot

More Fun with Spray Paint–A Little Rust-oleum Changes Everything

Rust-oleum spray paint in Seaside

I came across a new shade of aqua spray paint–called Seaside–by Rust-oleumat Home Depot when I was shopping for paint for my colorful spring porch makeover and couldn’t resist it. So I bought six cans for a future project. Since I was in a spray painting mood last weekend, and I was dying to paint something aqua, I painted this iron nautilus bench and side table for my back yard.

Aqua bench and table painted in Seaside by Rust-oleum

This color practically glows in the early evening light. Throw on a coordinating pillow or two and you have a colorful and comfy spot to sit down and enjoy your garden.

Aqua bench and side table in Seaside by Rust-oleum

The aqua and white pillow is from Pottery Barn’s outdoor pillow collection. I’ve used this pillow inside and outside. I just throw it in the washer when it gets dirty and it’s good to go for another season. I used three cans of paint for this project. I can use the remaining three cans to repaint this furniture when it gets battered by the elements, or I can find something else to paint. Hmm, what else needs a coat of aqua? Let me think…

Making an Entrance Part III–Colorful Porch Makeover

colorful porch makeover

Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed the long Memorial Day weekend. My brother and I spent all three days power washing and painting my front porch. It was a ton of work. Everything got a fresh coat of paint. Painting the rafters, porch pillars, railings, and all those spindles took forever but it was well worth the effort. Just look at this sparkly clean porch.

Freshly painted colorful porch makeover

Does this say welcome to my house, or what?

Purple front door

I really love my freshly painted purple front door (deep amethyst by Glidden) and chairs (grape by Rust-oleum).

Purple front door and colorful tulip bouquet

And this colorful custom-made tulip bouquet by TwoInspireYou at Etsy.com  is perfection.

Colorful porch furniture and accessories

The porch is coming together very nicely but I’m STILL waiting for the pink and white chevron rugs from Dash and Albert to arrive. Come on slow pokes, at this rate summer will be over before you know it. When companies advertise new outdoor rugs they should be ready for delivery by spring, not the fall and winter season.

Colorful porch furniture and accessories

In addition to the rugs, I still need to add some live plants and flowers, but that’s a job for next weekend. This solitary plant was all I had available for my photo shoot.

Colorful porch furniture and accessories

These gorgeous ruffled and micro-fiber pillows are indoor pillows, but I couldn’t resist the scrumptious colors and textures, and my covered porch should shield them from the elements for the most part. Sometimes you have to be creative and flexible to get the look you want. The colorful flower pots were a gift from my mom several years ago. She bought them at the local dollar store. What a find!

Enjoying a snack and a good read on my freshly painted porch

And the best part of all my hard work? Enjoying a home-made iced mocha (get the recipe here), a snack, and a good read on my comfy and colorful new porch–and meeting all the neighbors who stopped by to introduce themselves and take a peek while I worked. I hope I’ve inspired them to make the most of their outdoor spaces and banish beige wherever it’s lurking. Be gone, you drab non-color!

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