Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm Alive...

Biltmore Gardens in 2006

Hello out there in blogland. Yes, I am alive... just been busy in the garden. Have all sorts of cute stories to tell. But it's raining today, which is why I'm inside...blogging.

Laundry is in the wash and now I'm off to tackle the master closet. I do this about twice a seems to stay sorta organized for about 5 months, then that sixth month, yikes!

Also decorating for Easter and visiting other blogs to see what friends are doing. Joy always has awesome decorations. More cute things over at Bless Our Nest... And at Southern Hospitality of course.

I've got all sorts of pictures to upload... maybe once I get the closet done and check out a few blogs. By the way, are you on twitter? If so, send me your url so I can follow you. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quick & Easy Tips for a Spring Ready Porch

Spring is here in Atlanta. The sun is out again. Temp in the low 70s today. Sorry for all of you who have snow to deal with.

The warm temps are tempting me outside and I'm looking at my porch and deck thinking "hmm, it's time for a makeover." Whether or not a make over is in your budget, here are a few tips to tidy up your space and get it ready for warmer weather.

#1 Get rid of trash.

If there are pots of dead plants, wrappers, coke cans, plant labels and other assorted trash on your porch, grab a trashbag and clean it up.

#2 Clean up dead vegetation.

If you have dead or dying plants, or just something that needs a trim, now's the time. Empty pots into your compost pile (or the trashcan.) And get your snips out and trim up any plants that need trimming.

#3 Declutter

What's cluttering up your space? Forgotten decorations? Extra pots? It's time to declutter. A clutter free porch looks so much better. So clear it off.

#4 Sweep

Sweep the walls and the floor. Dust off tables, chairs, and other surfaces.

#5 Add a decoration or two.

Now's the time to add a colorful, Spring inspired decoration or two. Pillows, bows, wreaths are all great options. Don't be afraid to switch out pillows, add a matching throw and/or tablecloth to give your space a little sparkle. Use old frames to create instant artwork.

#6 Add a Spring plant.

Tulips are great. So are daffodils and crocus. Even a boxwood would do. Create a focal point with a colorful arrangement.

#7 Make doors & windows sparkle

Take a damp cloth (a window cleaner may be necessary) and wipe down windows and doors to get rid of winter dust.

#8 Make a list.

Make a list of things that need fixing or painting. Perhaps the door could use a new coat of paint or you need to fix a shutter. Make your list as you're tidying your porch so you'll have it later.

Read more on this topic
Homemade Simple
Cindy's Porch
Old Fashioned Living

Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: Real Simple Magazine

Happy Monday everyone! It's the beginning of a brand new week. I'm sure you have lots to do, but I have a quick review for you to start the week off.

If you're like millions of folks in America, I'm sure you've read or heard of Real Simple Magazine. I remember when they came out with their first issue. People were aflutter about this new magazine that would change the way people live.

The folks over at Real Simple contacted me about looking over their March issue. They're excited about their article about 71 ways to save money. Their total? Over $19,000 this year.

Who doesn't want to save $19,000? Okay, get outta here then. But come back tomorrow. ;)

So I dove into the magazine, remembering all the things I love about it. Their product comparisons (I personally prefer carmex and the lip conditioner from - neither of which were listed, but that's my opinion.), I adore their advice column where normal folks like you and me write in with tips, and I really like their recipes.

There are many things to love, which reminds me, I need to reup my subscription.

About their money saving article... to be honest, there were things in there that gave me good ideas, but for me personally, most of them were "been there, done that." Not to say that you won't find it useful...

But I personally have never spent $20 a week on flowers. When I read that some people do, I turned to Hubsters and said "OMG, I'm supposed to be able to spend $20 a week on flowers. Did you know this?" Yeah, I'm totally excited about that possibility.

Seriously, I have house plants. I always have. Philodendron is a great house plant, low maintenance, only asks for water every few weeks and really likes bad lighting. I also have small Boston ferns, maiden hair ferns, snake tongue plant, orchids ($7.50 at Walmart) and a variety of others. None of which I paid over $5. And there is one in every room.

Next, we don't go to movies. In fact, I waited in line at the kiosk of one of those mega theaters, got up there (it was 4pm which in our area means matinee) and the price was $10.50. 30 minutes of waiting for $10.50? I turned around and walked off. Saw the same movie at my local (still new, just not as monstrous) theater for $5. No wait. It has to be a major event (like James Bond) for us to see a movie in a theater. For a few reasons. Concessions. Overpriced? Heck yes. Insane ticket prices? Heck yes. Kids disturbing my enjoyment, people talking on cell phones, and popcorn in the hair, huh!

Do I understand that theaters have to make money some how? Yes. Do I like the prices? No. Do I have to go there? No. That's why we have a theater room in our basement. Nothing fancy. Just a TV with a stereo that provides a bit of surround sound, some old couches, comfy blankets, a discount mini fridge and an older microwave that acts as our concession area. I'm decorating it to look like an old timey theater. And guess what... no phones, no kids, no popcorn in the hair.

Honestly, did you buy one of those large flat screen TVs for Christmas? Do you have a VCR, TV and/or DVD player in your home?! RENT! Make it a Friday Night movie, complete with your own affordable popcorn, a beer, and a blanket.

We love hulu. We also subscribe to netflix. And on occasion, we'll rent from the redbox (mentioned in the article) or from our local grocery. With a handy dandy wire, we can watch hulu or netflix insta-watch on our TV in the movie room. Wire cost? $8. Do I mind seeing advertisements on hulu? NO! They're shorter than on TV. Not to mention if you get to a movie theater early (like I do) You have to watch 30 minutes of advertising anyway. 30 minutes of ads or 15 seconds worth 4 or 5 times during a show? That's whopping minute!

As for books, I support my library, but I will always buy books. I never buy hardbacks. I buy paperbacks. $3 romance novels that give me hours of enjoyment. Or ebooks. Not the $9 rip offs. Again $3 or $4 romances. Let me think..... $10.50 for a movie I may or may not enjoy (plus all above stated issues with theater watching) for 2 hours or 5 hours of blissful quiet in my own home for $3, that's such a tough decision.

Here are a few other things we did that cut back on costs:

*got rid of a land line. Hate talking on the phone anyway, and we each have a cellphone. We switched to Vonage. Cheap, free long distance. I can call Europe for a penny a minute or something like that.
* got rid of our second line and toll free line. We own our own company, thus the second line and 800 number. But those two weren't getting the use we thought they would, so chop chop.
* we reduced our cable as low as it would go. We still have high speed Internet because we own our own company... web design would be hard without it.
*we got rid of a car. Honestly, we've used one car for 5 years now. No sense keeping the other and paying insurance on something we never used.
* we found out about a group insurance rate we're eligible for. Saving over $200 a month there.
* we don't have kids = cheap.
* we don't have iPhones, big screen TVs or go on elaborate vacations. We don't drive a monster vehicle that gets 5 miles to the gallon. We don't buy expensive clothes, shoes, or jewelry.
* we love yard sales, thrift stores, etc. It's so much fund to find a "find."
* we're not afraid to redo something... a chair, a table, an accessory.
* we don't belong to a gym, country club or golf course and have never wanted to.

So where do we spend our money?
*out to eat
*house projects

It should be noted that we're very blessed. We're lucky this go round. During the last downturn in 2002, hubby was without a job for 9 months. I was still in school. We do our best to work hard, diversify our incomes, save money, have a savings. But we also don't watch the news. We try not to make decisions based on the chaotic views of some. We try to be frugal, give back to others, and lead by example. Is our way the right way? Who knows. It's our way. We're happy. We're blessed. We still buy things we want and need. We have that luxury this go round. We understand that not spending is not going to solve an economic crisis. We do things ourselves to save money, but we also hire out to help others make money.

All of that said, Real Simple gets an A. I will resubscribe. But I hope that every issue from now on is not so locked into "don't spend, save every penny" mode. That's as depressing as the news.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When will they get here?

I've been enjoying all sorts of birds lately. Now I'm ready for my hummers to come back. I've got my shepard hooks ready. Feeders too. According to this map, last year in my area the hummers came back around March 16th. That's exciting b/c that's only a week or so away. It's so warm out, I might put the feeders out this weekend.

Great resource (map):

New Birds in the Anderson Garden

So far this year I've identified:

Tufted Timouse
House Finch
And a woodpecker: I think it's an Ivory Billed
Mourning Doves
and Robins

There are more birds, yet to be identified. Still waiting on the Hummers.

yesterday's progress

Yesterday's High: 80 (In March. First day of march = snow)

I divided several liriopes...whew, what a job! Transplanted them.

Divided my sedum into four new mounds.

Divided two of my day lillies that were too clustered together.

Planted two new roses, Climbing Peace and Climbing American.... poetic, don't you think?

Extended the bed that the roses are in.

Raked leaves and in general, weeded things as I went along.

On the 9th, I started a whole bunch of seeds, yelllow & roma tomatoes, impatiens, thyme, and whole bunch more.

I'm waiting for my other seeds to hit a growth spurt. It seems like they've all been the same size for a week now.

I have a few that are already spending afternoons outside getting ready to go into the cold frame.

Have also been organizing the garage, since the garage sale. And I've got my eye on the tool room in the basement....and my craft room of course.

Organize Your Bookmarks

I've been using Delicious now for about a year now I guess and I really like it. I like that I can save a bookmark from any computer. I like the tags. I like that the firefox addon/extension i have has a Delicious bar so I can see my most recently saved bookmarks quickly.

But, sometimes I'm not so on top of tagging. So today's goal is to go through 20 bookmarks and double check the tags.

Tomorrow's goal is the same. This may take a while. Current bookmark count: 886. See what I've bookmarked.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hardy Volunteers

Recently hard a new term: hardy volunteers.

These are annuals that are prolific reseeders. When we moved into this house I noticed a little leafy vine with adorable red flowers growing in the side bed. No idea what it was, a weed or something else, I enjoyed it. Come to find out it was cardinal vine.

I enjoyed finding that little gem in the garden and I'm looking forward to finding varieties of other plants that will reseed themselves and surprise me in the years to come. So far I've had tremendous success with violas. :)

Questions and Answers

Also known as notes to self.

How much to trim off of lantana: 1/3 to 1/2 per year, you can prune it back throughout the growing season to make it bushier.

How much/when to trim hydrangeas: about 1/3 of the oldest stems per year... now my grandma used to cut hers back to the ground and each year, poof, huge beautiful bushes. But then again, grandma has a super green thumb.

Can you divide a snake plant? Yes. Spring is best. Break apart the root ball. They evidently like to be pretty root bound, so I'm thinking mine will go into two smaller containers. Mine seems like to like terra cotta. I'd love to put it on the porch this summer.

Some great info on growing hostas in the south.
I'm in 7b, just outside Atlanta.

More great tips for starting a compost pile.

More notes to self: acid-loving plants - camellias, azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, and blueberries

Coffee in the garden? Yep! Starbucks gives away the used coffee grounds to gardeners to use in their gardens and compost piles.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Report from the Garden 3.8.09

The weather this weekend has been incredible. We had a yardsale (very successful), I trimmed the liriope, did some general weeding in the bed in front of the porch.

We built an official compost pile based on Allen Smith's directions in the following video. Very easy, very nice looking, already added to it. We made ours 4 x 8, instead of 8 x 8. I'll take a pic soon.

I also trimmed up the lantana and crepe myrtles, weeded the flower beds next to the curb, killed some ants (life is so glamourous), planted some seeds, did tons of research, cleared out some trees from the backyard, and pressure washed the back of the house.

We also planted a red climbing rose next to the retaining wall... I follow Allen Smith's recipe for rose planting as well.

Our mini daffodils are coming up by the dozens. I'm so thrilled!

The tulips are leafy, little flower buds tucked down inside. I can't wait for them to bloom.

Oh, and our bradford pears are this close (holds fingers an inch apart) to blooming. Seems a little earlier, but then again, the weather is beautiful. 75... perfect for gardening.

And the lettuce has sprouted beneath the hoop house. No signs of the potatoes Mr. Hubby planted yet.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Water Globes

I've been meaning to review my Water Globes for a while now. I got my first one for Christmas and by the end of the week I'd gone out and gotten more.

Rating: 5 stars

I love these things. In case you don't know what a water globe is:

They're a bulb shaped piece of glass that you pour water into, stab it into the soil of a pot, and let it water your plant.

What I love about them is that all my house plants look so much healthier now that I have them. They get a constant small amount of water, helping them grow better and stronger. I'm seeing more shine, more leaves, and more perked up plants.

I have 9 water globes, 8 are from WalMart.

Crafty Gardener posted about water globes the other day and asked for opinions. I agree that bigger pots may need two globes or more frequent filling. I use a long bamboo skewer to poke a hole in the soil before inserting the globe. I use the same skewer to clean out any dirt from the globes tube. I find it easiest to fill all the globes on the same day, using the faucet in my bathtub (zero oxygen vs. the faucet in the kitchen that has a filter). I do them one by one, keep a rag handy for spills, and keep the skewer close by too. Smaller pots might tip over so I recommend bracing the globe against something (a wall, furniture) after insertion.

Having the globes reminds me to turn my houseplants (for even growing) since I poke the globe in a new hole each refill. They also force me to take a closer look at the soil and the plants versus doing a drive by watering. I have to say, my plants are happy and so am I. I can't wait to use these outdoors this summer.