Not my favorite card ever

ImageSo, I made a card for a couple of reasons other than having to make a card for someone.  First reason: I needed to try my sewing machine on a non-buttonhole stitch to see if it was still working because I couldn’t get it to work on the buttonhole.  Second reason:  I wanted to make a wedding card for the Stampotique challenge theme of Weddings.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc113-wedding.html  The problem is, I don’t know anyone getting married in the near future.  That’s why, I think, I really don’t love this card.  I wasn’t making it for the someone.  My heart wasn’t really in it.

I went through my scrapbook sticker box and found a pad of velum wedding note papers and a sheet of black and white wedding-looking stickers.  I like either of them individually, but they don’t work too well together (the two blacks and whites don’t match, if that makes any sense).  Anyway, I sewed the velum onto a card with a fun stitch (not the best stitch for paper, but that’s one part of the card I actually like).  (Oh, and the machine does work, I just forgot to bring down the button hole sizing guide.)

I thought it still needed something, so I grabbed some really old silver craft dusting powder.  It’s not really powdery anymore, so I scraped the top a little with the blunt end of my brush and then used the brush end to put some on the diagonal corners.

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I remembered my fun with stencils lately, so I cut a heart out of some heavy cardstock and put a couple hearts on the inside.  I really wasn’t happy with the dusting on the front (I thought it was too dark) so I put more in the inside but I did it through a piece of tulle.  Now that I finally liked.

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What do you do with cards that you don’t love?  Do you still give them away?  Do you keep working on them until you do like them?  Do you scrap them altogether?  I’m not sure what to do with this one.  Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

But here’s something you can win:  a new stamp set from Paper Smooches.  Check out their blog and comment for a chance to win.  http://papersmooches.blogspot.com/2013/08/august-dt-blog-hop.html  Then, join in their super fun blog hop.  So much inspiration, so little time!

Update:  After sleeping on it, I woke up in the morning thinking I should just try taking off the heart sticker.  That was the biggest thing that I didn’t like.  And (what do you know?) it peeled right off!

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A few cards for a couple challenges

ImageFirst off, more Christmas cards!!!  (Thanks, Spike, I’m still on a roll.)  I’ve gotten a little collection started and I’m having so much fun.  Addicted to CAS (i.e. clean and simple) is doing a Holiday challenge this week, so what better excuse to add to my collection?  http://addictedtocas.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/atcas-challenge-20.html

I made these out of the same handy-dandy tree template I used in this previous card creation: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/20/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-inspired-by-spike/ (Hence, the earlier credit given to Spike.)  I used our Bingo ink daubers (my wife is a REAL Bingo fan) to fill in the whole inside of the trees.  I like that it’s not a solid green with the little bit of variation in saturation that the dauber created.  Actually, I picked the colors (green, aqua, and orange) for a challenge that I missed by a couple hours, but I still think they look nice together.  The “Peace” is a stamp I did with orange marker and the aqua button is from the Paper Pumpkin kit I got recently (talked about in the above  post).  It’s hard to tell, but I secured it with glitter glue.

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I started off with the trees being just the green but thought they were missing something.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I grabbed a wire screw cap from my box of doo-dads and used it to stamp little circles on the trees for ornaments.  The first one I used an orange marker for ink but it was too light, I thought, so I used a dark green stamp pad for the second one.  And then I just left it alone (see, I’m getting better at this “clean and simple” thing).

And then there are these:

The Drunken Stampers challenge for the week is a Person: Party Planner (http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/person-party-planner-drunken-stampers-challenge-138/)  The challenge is to design cards for any kind of party.  On Friday, two of my favorite front office staff are leaving for school and part time positions.  We’re having a little “onward and upward” party for them- it’s not going away because they’ll still be with the agency but they won’t be with us as much (which is very sad- great staff are hard to come by).  So, I made these cards:Image

I actually cut apart the card my dad gave me for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago (yeah, I still have it) for the banner, arrows, and swirly punches.  The yellow striped banner is from the aforementioned Paper Pumpkin kit (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of this thing) and the stamps are from a bunch of random collections.  I made the little arrow and attached it with a brad as a little suggestion of the many possible directions life could take them.  On the inside, I used a couple more stamps and then made my own out of another eraser (the pseudo Chevron/Charlie Brown-reminiscent zig zag).  I was thinking of an abstract way to suggest upward movement (or maybe I just had Peanuts on my brain).  Image

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop loving carving these eraser stamps!

Kitchen Color!

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We have these grand plans of renovating the kitchen, building an addition to make it twice the size, and doing it all in Rachel Ray’s eggplant, orange, and lime green color combo (and by “we” I mean my wife).  Here’s Rachel Ray’s collection, if you can’t picture it:  http://www.rachaelraystore.com/Department/List/Bakeware/102-4294958180  I do kind of love the color combo.

That’s probably not going to happen any time soon (unless Rachel finds my blog and offers to pay for it all in a huge sponsorship/promotion extravaganza).  In the meantime, I’m trying to make things that help the wifey keep the tiny space we do have more organized and appealing for her to work in (thus motivating her to make more yummy stuff for me and the boy).

I picked up this little wooden Crayola crate at a thrift store in North Carolina when were on vacation last Spring and knew I wanted to save it for something perfect.  When she took an old spice rack off the wall (after realizing that the spices in there had likely been purchased when the first Clinton was in office) the spot it left was the perfect size for this box.

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I started off by putting a shelf it in from some old dresser drawer wood I cut down.  It’s just wood-glued in with two more pieces of wood as supports but feels pretty sturdy.  I painted the inside a vibrant purple, a little brighter than the purple from Rachel Ray’s collection, but it was similar to another accessory my wife made for the kitchen a week before (see below).  I  screwed in cup hooks before painting the outside because I didn’t have the right color paint for the outside yet and I was being impatient.  That was a silly thing to do, because then I ended up having to carefully paint and varnish around the hooks for every subsequent coat.

I only painted the top, bottom, and fronts with the green, because I really wanted to keep the sides with the Crayola logo on them visible.  It’s also a nice combo of her contemporary and my vintage aesthetics.  (Those sides are my favorite part.)

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It was still looking rather ordinary (as ordinary as a purple and lime green Crayola crate spice shelf can look), so I tore some pages from a second-hand Bacardi cookbook we picked up at a tag sale and decoupaged them in the backs of the shelves.  It’s kind of a nod to our honeymoon, which was in Puerto Rico and during which we toured the Bacardi factory.  I think they added the perfect touch.

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I also sanded the edges down a tiny little bit to distress it before slathering the whole thing with varnish (I won’t say it’s because my wife tends to be a little messy when she cooks so I wanted it to clean up easily because she took a wee bit of offense when I said that in my last kitchen post).  🙂

I’m also going to submit this to Make My Monday’s challenge this week:  Anything But a Card.   http://mimchallegeblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/midweek-motivation-anything-but-card.html  There are so many card and scrapbook challenges out there, it was nice to see this one deviate from that for this week.  (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE me my card challenges!)

The other new addition to our slowly-becoming-colorful kitchen is a clothes pin recipe holder that the wife made at a super-fun workshop at my favorite local upcycle crafting haunt, Knack: (http://www.knack.org/).

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She and the boy worked on this one together.

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He helped us both paint (I was working on another one) and then he somehow found the most amazingly perfect glass fruit beads to decorate the clothespins.  A woman who had a huge bead collection was no longer able to use them because of arthritis, I think, and found it too hard to have them around the house so she donated them to Knack.  The collection was magnificent and this was such a great way to spread her love of beading far and wide, I think.

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These beads are so sweet- tiny little glass fruits- but my photos don’t do them justice.  Macey found the perfect glue to stick the glass to the wood (Amazing Goop) and so far the little suckers have held right on.  She also told me about this awesome web site, http://www.thistothat.com/, where you can select two different materials and it will tell you what glue to use.  It’s brilliant!!

I made one of these clothespin boards for my craft space, but I think I’ll save that post for another day.  School started today and the boy’s school this year starts a full hour earlier.  I was not happy waking up at 6am (and will probably not be happy doing it again tomorrow).

Mandala Monday

ImageMy wife said she was going to throw away a bunch of old herbs in a set that I’d had for probably about 10 years- from back when I thought it would be fun to learn how to cook and then realized that it really wasn’t (not my cup o’ tea, apparently).  I hated to waste them all (like I hate to waste anything) so I saved a bunch of each to use for some to-be-determined project in the future.  But while I was consolidating them (and making room for other goodies in the other jars) I decided to do my mandala.

It was such a relaxing process.  My boy was playing in his room and my wife was out shopping, so I had the craftroom/playroom to myself.  The herbs still had some fragrance (but I could tell they were nowhere near what they should have been to make them usable in cooking).  I used a sleeve to an LP to keep the shape and kind of played around with a strip of cardboard and the mixture of green herbs until I got the foundation shape of the compass.

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In looking at the celery salt and noticing that the little shaker top was removable, I thought about using it as a kind of a stencil.  It worked perfectly!

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I put one of the caps from the jars in the center with some pretty paprika on top and a little mustard seed trinity and then I added some crushed red pepper around the outside of the larger circle and then around the cap.

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It was still looking sparse, so I added some more of the green herb mix along the NW, NE, SW, and SE directions.  Finally, I sprinkled some caraway seeds in the middle and was done.  The whole process only took me about half an hour, but it was so relaxing and mindful- exactly what working on a mandala should be.  I took the photo with my Instagram app and used the Lo-Fi filter.  I mostly liked the boarder on that one, but it also works well with the graininess of the herbs and spices.

The best part is that I now have 8 empty jars that I can clean out and use for other things and then I can add them back into my pretty spice rack with my “crafting spices”.  I wonder what I should use them for to make the most out of this newfound lovely storage.  I’ll try to remember to add a picture to this post when it’s all put back together.

Anniversary Card for my love

ImageShopping Our Stash has a challenge going on that was, I think, made for me.  http://shoppingourstash.blogspot.ca/2013/08/sos-115-oldest-hardware.html

It challenges crafters to use their oldest “hardware” in their card designs, however defines hardware as “things like ribbon slides, brads, eyelets, metal frames, etc.”.  When I think hardware, I think things hiding in the bottom of my toolbox, so I went with that.  🙂

I’m also entering it into the Clean and Simple on Sunday Challenge, because this week’s theme is “Floral Fantasy”: http://cleanandsimpleonsunday.blogspot.com/2013/08/challenge-15-floral-fantasy.html.  I really made myself stop after the flower and the text (the silver underline was just the icing).  I was thinking of things I could do in the background or about making a stem (I even had my green glitter-glue out) but I really liked it just the way it is.

I made this card for our 1st Wedding Anniversary, coming up in just a couple weeks (don’t tell her I don’t have a present, yet).  I used nails that I salvaged from some dresser drawers I used to make a spice shelf in the dresser-drawer shelf I made a while ago.  (That project is here, if you’re interested:  https://craftymadre.com/2013/05/14/dresser-drawer-shelves/)  There’s a washer in the center with a neat looking metal flower-shaped thing I found in my “metal” box and it’s all glued together with glitter glue (if it doesn’t hold the metal, I’ll go back and use a stronger adhesive, but I just wanted the glitter in there).  I wrote the short phrase “She loves me” on there with Sharpie, as in “She loves me, she loves me not…”  But there’s only one petal missing because I know she loves me!  🙂

Beginning of the year teacher gift

A fun blogger turned me on to the idea of a beginning of the year gift for teachers.  http://brenbearcreations.com/2013/08/23/back-pack-to-school/  It’s such a great idea and my boy’s starting a new school this year so I thought it would be a great new tradition.  His teacher even sent us letters, one addressed to us and one addressed to him, to introduce herself and let us know about the supplies he would need.  She also included a “wish list” for her classroom, so we’re putting together a little care package for him to bring on the first day.  I’m starting it out with a little Thank You card I made.  I’m thanking her for the letter and for her service as a teacher, in general.

ImageI just picked up these cute letter stickers at Michaels.  (They were on sale because two of them were missing.)  They remind me of a circus, so I’m entering the card in the Simon Says Stamp Blog’s Carnival Challenge this week:  http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-carnival/

I’m also putting some of the supplies she requested into a little basket we’ve had kicking around for ages (from the raffle at our Jill and Jill, I think).  We totally scored with the post-its at RRIE yesterday (check-out my post about that awesome place here: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/25/heaven-im-in-heaven/)  I hope she likes it (and I hope our boy likes her)!

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Heaven… I’m in Heaven

Mary, of Be Creative Mary fame, posted about this amazing place a couple weeks ago and I’ve been planning a trip every since:  http://becreativemary.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/day-226-goodwill-hunting-reusing-and-recyling/

The Resources for Rhode Island Educators, http://www.rrie.org/, is an amazing non-profit that takes materials from manufacturers to sell to the public for pennies a pound.  It can be anything from finished products (there were a lot of Martha Stewart Office things) to random do-dads used to make things.  For a $10 donation, we got a one day membership (a full year is $60, but it’s about 1 1/2 hours away so I’m not sure how often we’ll be going), and then most of the stuff they have is 40 cents a pound (some things are priced individually, but not much).  It was a veritable cornucopia of stuff for upcycling projects.

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There are some samples of things, here and there, that people have made, but there wasn’t much fancy about this place.  It just leaves everything up to your imagination.  The staff was nice and it’s amazing that so many business are willing to participate.  It was really stocked to the gills.

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So, for the unbelievable sum of $12.50 (plus the $10 I gave them for the try-out membership and a little extra I gave for a donation), here was my amazing haul:

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I don’t really have specific ideas for a lot of it, but here’s what I was initially thinking when I saw some of this.  The tiles and glass are sure to become some kind of mosaic.  I’m going to give a lot of the sticky notes to my boy’s teacher (they were on her classroom “wish-list”).  I’ve been wanting some of those tags for ages and there was a whole bin of Martha Stewart Office stuff- I wonder if her company donated them or if they came from a retailer who hadn’t been able to sell them.  I’m thinking of making something for a friend of mine who loves horses out of some of the ribbon- it was from a huge barrel that seemed to have come from a company that makes prize ribbons.  I got a ton, so I’m sure I’ll donate a lot of it to my favorite local upcycling store, Knack (http://www.knack.org/) (if you didn’t see my post about it, please check it out- it’s my absolute favorite place in the world: https://craftymadre.com/2013/07/19/knack-my-new-favorite-place/)  I’m also planning to donate the conical spools to Knack.  They have kids craft workshops every other weekend and I was thinking these would make a great Christmas tree project.  The random knick-knacks and bottle tops were mostly my boy’s idea.  He kept picking up things out of bins and saying “I could use that.”  (A boy after my own heart.)  I did pick out the gold bottle tops to make Christmas ornaments for family this year (based on a craft workshop at Knack that’s in the above post).  And the sheets of paper are absolutely awesome.  The silver is sticky on the back (if I’d realized it, I probably would have gotten more).  I’ll have wrapping paper for a year.

My boy had as much fun as me, finding random things and suggesting what he would do with them.  This is my favorite find of his, a piece of clear plexiglass with a blue rectangle across the middle, which I’m going to try to make into an outdoor gardening bench (he calls himself “Luigi-Sam” in this picture:

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There was so, so, so much more that I wanted and my amazing wife gave me $60 to spend.  But, I knew I’d have no where to put it when I got it home.  I’m sure that we’ll be back again soon, though.  The bonus- there’s a Dave and Buster’s nearby, so I can always promise my wife a trip there when we go (which is where we spent the rest of the afternoon as a final hurrah before the boy starts school).  I’m so glad I saw Mary’s post about this amazing place!

Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
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I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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“Easy-Peasy” Christmas cards inspired by Spike

I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m going to take a page from the awesome “Blog that Spike Built” and start making Christmas cards early this year.  http://spikescreativeside.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-63-many-merry-christmas/.  She is totally cool and a major inspiration- from her Drunken Stampers stuff to her Art Journal pages to this here “Easy-Peasy Christmas Card Pinterest Board” http://pinterest.com/spikescreative/easy-peasy-christmas-cards/.

And I finally did!!!  Here are my first 2:

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And they were totally “Easy Peasy”.  I made a Christmas tree stencil with a piece of heavy paper and then used a stamp I made out of an eraser with 4 circles.  I stamped a bunch of circles in different colors to fill in the template.  For red and green one, I used a Season’s Greetings rub-in and for the multi-colored one I used a “Joy” stamp with Tim Holtz Distress Ink.  The colors for the “Joy” one are actually from the Stampotique Designers Challenge this month: purple, orange, and yellow.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc111-color-challenge.html  I love the color combo!

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My favorite part is the “star” at the top of the tree, which I did with my boy’s borrowed pinky finger.  I used a Sharpie to put a little starburst in it.

I felt like I’m on a roll, so I made a few more today.  I’m actually not really thrilled with the first 2, but the last one totally floats my boat:

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I got my first Paper Pumpkin Kit from Stamping the Moon yesterday and it was like opening a treasure chest!  http://stampingthemoon.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/paper-pumpkin-limited-time-offer/  It came with a little stamp pad, an acrylic block (which I’ve wanted for forever), a bunch of charcoal gray cards and yellow-polkadotted papers that fit, envelopes, a sheet of flag and accent stickers, and 2 stamps.  There were instructions on how to make a sample card, but I hate following instructions so I pretty much did my own thing.  For the top one, I used a Stampsmith “H” stamp (which I love) with the new acrylic block and then stamped the rest of the letters to spell “Happy Holidays”.  I kind of blew it with the snowflake stamp using a bingo dauber.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  The Christmas tree one is the innards of the stencil I used in the first batch of cards.  I used another Bingo dauber to stamp around it.  Then I used a couple gift stamps, which I colored with my handy dandy Sharpies, a star stamp (that I made with an eraser), and a “Happy Holidays” stamp that came with the above-mentioned snowflake.  Like I said, those aren’t my favorite.  This one, however, is:

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I don’t know why I like this one so much, but I do.  I made the Gingerbread Man stamp with one of my boy’s old erasers.  It had a Buzz Lightyear sticker on it, so it was kind of shaped like a man, and I just carved this little guy.  Here’s my first test page with him:

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Then, I stamped the circles with the circle eraser stamp that I had used previously to fill in the Christmas tree.  I traced the little guy and drew swirls in the circles and then, just because, I stamped a similar swirl in the corner.  I wrote the little phrase on the card and Voila!

I’m going to submit the second batch, that one in particular, to the this month’s Stampotique Designers Challenge: Polka Dots.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc112-polka-dots.html

I originally made the first one for their color challenge but you can only submit one and I really like that one best.  “Run, run, as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man.”  🙂  Christmas, here I come!

Building a little garden and an upcycled planter

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We’re hosting the family reunion this year, so on Labor Day weekend about 25 people will all descend on my parents’ house.  My mom is getting a little worried, though, because they’d planned on having landscaping done this summer but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be even started by then.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents have a beautiful, big yard, but it’s just not everything my mom wishes it would be.  So, today I went over and helped brighten up a little corner of it, by the front of the house, as a little eye candy when people were coming in.

This little area off the driveway used to be a little flower bed but has long-since been filled with weeds, grass, and 3 black-eyed susans.  I, of course, forgot to take a “before”, but trust me when I say that it was not pretty.  We dug it up with the help of my handy-dandy Fiskars weeder and a little old fashioned elbow grease.  My mom and I went shopping at the local garden center (I love it there, especially when I’m not spending my own money) and picked up some mums to put in 3 pots my mom had (since they’ll be in full bloom right around the time of the reunion) and some pretty ornamental cabbage as accents.  Here is is before the mulch:ImageMy folks had the sandstone in the backyard and it made a perfect border. My mom’s going to see if there’s any more at the garden center to replace the random rocks we put along the driveway.  They were kind of an afterthought but made a nice addition.  Image

And these were the finishing touches:

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The petrified tree chunk was hidden behind a bunch of bushes in another garden bed.  It had originally come from a huge tree in our church lawn that was cut down a few years ago, much to may people in the congregation’s dismay.  And I discovered the little frog when I was putting the gardening tools away in the shed.  He was my grandma’s and fit in perfectly.  It’s almost like we had unknowingly saved a spot just for him.  Maybe she had some part in that, looking down on us.

And here’s my latest upcycled gardening planter, compliments of Heather at Whipperberry.  http://whipperberry.com/2013/07/hanging-succulent-garden.html#_a5y_p=767637Image

She used International Delights creamer containers, which I certainly have plenty of, but I wanted to go with something a little more natural looking (as natural as plastic can be) by not painting them.  So, I used a couple different sized Powerade bottles (my wife loves that stuff) because they’re clear.  (Little Rufus wanted in on the action.)

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I cut holes in them with my X-acto knife, making a little flap for the plant to rest on, and cut small triangles in the bottoms for drainage.  I filled the bottle about half full with a loose dirt mix and not-very-delicately shoved the roots into the hole.  I had picked up these little Hens and Chicks from my favorite farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this project.  To hang them, I used some LAN wire that I saved from taking apart a computer keyboard about a year ago.  It totally went with the upcycle theme and it was green.  What could be better?  I just tied it onto the ring left over from the top and hung them from our gazebo.

At the garden center today, I got this cute, tiny little succulent and I’m planning to put it in a third bottle (the smallest size).  Three is a very good number in feng shui, representing creativity, family, and self-expression.  You can also see the threes in the plot at my folks’.  I know that at least family will be in abundance in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to it!