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Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 | 3 comments

From Cinder Blocks to Mosaic Tile Planters

From Cinder Blocks to Mosaic Tile Planters

We have big plans this summer to add a mosaic to some plain cinder block steps in our backyard. Before we embark on that project, my kids and I practiced by sprucing up some cinder block planters. I headed to Restore to buy tile. They did not have colorful tile in stock, but in the dishware section, I found several plates, a vase and a platter to smash for the project. My kids, Miles and Vivien, were more than eager to get started. Vivien chose a green vase, a blue plate, and a white tile for the color scheme. We started by cleaning off the cinder blocks. Then, Miles smashed the blue plate with a mallet. The smashing of the plate made a mess. We decided to wear protective goggles and smash the next object inside a paper bag. This worked perfectly, no mess and much safer. Next up, we arranged and secured the pieces with liquid nails (from Home Depot for a little over $2). When they were done...

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 | 4 comments

The Many Uses for Rosemary

The Many Uses for Rosemary

Of all the plants in our garden, the hearty rosemary is doing the best. Its woodsy scent is divine, noticeable every time you pass it by. So what to do with a bumper crop of rosemary? Here’s a few of the ways we’re using it this season. Orange Rosemary Salt Scrub This recipe for orange rosemary salt scrub couldn’t be easier and makes a great gift. Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor (1 cup salt, zest of one orange and 1 tsp. rosemary leaves taken off the stem), transfer to a bowl, stir in 1/3 cup olive oil until evenly combined, then place in a jar. To use, rub a dab on wet hands, rinse and dry. Not only does it smooth and soften your skin, it also smells wonderful. Lemon Rosemary Room Scent Leslie made some of these room scents for a past food swap. Place a few sprigs of rosemary and lemon wedges in a jar and fill with water. When ready to use, just...

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Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 | 2 comments

Hydrangeas of Del Ray

Hydrangeas of Del Ray

This time of year is just a joy for a hydrangea lover like me. In and around Del Ray they are everywhere! These beautiful blooms love the shade and come in a variety of colors: purple, blue, pink and white. You can plant them under a tree. They look nice weaving in and out of a fence. In front of a house, beautifully framing it. Brick walls make a nice back drop for a healthy bush. They are even planted in front of some of our favorite restaurants. Native oak leaf hydrangeas can be planted just about anywhere. There are other types of hydrangeas native to Virginia. This one is in my backyard. They take very little care — just a little pruning each year and they continue to come back in the late spring and throughout the summer. They make beautiful bouquets too. Each bloom is a bouquet in itself. Be sure to cut it from the woody area to ensure it lasts longer in the vase. Also,...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 | 1 comment

Flower Arranging with Roberta

Flower Arranging with Roberta

Roberta Hoversten, a landscape painter and avid gardener, has been flower arranging for over eight years at her church. She recently started offering workshops and last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend one at her house. She likes to keep her workshops small and intimate so that she can give everyone the attention that they need. She started off by showing us one of her arrangements. It was a simple lily arrangement, using vibrant lilies which she grows in her garden. She paired the flowers with a beautiful hand blown glass vase that her brother made for her. Roberta showed us a simple technique she uses to keep her lilies from falling to the side of the vase — create a checkerboard pattern with special waterproof clear tape. Next she modeled making a lovely arrangement in a basket. Then it was our turn to get to work. The table was covered with flowers and grapes from her garden as well as an assortment of store bought flowers. Each...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 | 1 comment

A Backyard Makeover Part 1: Installing a Dry Creek

A Backyard Makeover Part 1: Installing a Dry Creek

When we moved into our house three years ago, the backyard was pretty much a blank canvas. We always knew we wanted something different but turned to interior and front yard projects first. Last year we added a slide, a rope ladder  and some chalkboards to make it a little more attractive for our children. This year it was finally time to direct our energies towards the back yard. We decided to call a professional designer to help us turn our ideas and vision into a plan. The space is not large, but consists of various areas which we wanted tied together in a meaningful, aesthetic and useful way. We searched high and low for the right person and came across Beth Ginter of The Honeybee Group in Silver Spring, MD. She turned out to be exactly what we were looking for in a designer — with an emphasis on sustainability and use of native plant material and a lot of experience in creating versatile outdoor spaces for families. Beth...

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