Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Signs of Spring

Daffodils are in bloom! It is so nice to see one of the first signs of spring.

Basketball season is also in full bloom here and my backyard is sprouting basketballs along with daffodils. I hurried out to cut a bouquet of daffodils before they are all smashed by the stray basketballs from next door.

First bouquet of the season.

This is my Van Briggle pottery vase. Since it has daffodils on it, it seems like the perfect vase to put them in. It is also a great size and shape for those bouquets of mixed flowers from the grocery store. My grandparents purchased this vase from Van Briggle pottery in Colorado Springs while on a vacation in the 1970's. When I had to empty their house I chose to keep it. I use it often and it is one of my favorites.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Start Your Own Herb Garden with 5 Easy-To-Grow Herbs

I am so ready for spring to get here. Last week we had a couple beautiful sunny, warm days and I had hopes of ditching my winter coat. Sadly, they were just a tease and it is back to cold temperatures and rain here. It is officially the first day of Spring so I am taking that as license to start making plans for gardening and being outdoors.

If you have ever wanted to plant a garden but didn't know quite where to begin, I advise starting with a few basic herb plants. They are easy to grow, can be purchased inexpensively, and don't require a lot of work.

In my experience herbs aren't too picky about where they are planted and as long as you plant them somewhere that is sunny and not too wet they will thrive. Herbs also do well in containers. Although many herbs are easy to grow from seed, I suggest buying plants, especially if you are new to gardening.

Here are 5 herbs that are easy to grow and are usually easy to find at garden centers or home stores that sell flower and vegetable plants in the spring:

Basil-- is an annual, which means the plant will just grow for one season from spring to fall. It is sensitive to cold, so be careful not to plant too early. Basil will flower and it is best to harvest it before it starts to bloom. Pinch off the blooms to make the plant last longer.

Parsley--this old favorite might not seem very exciting but it is really very useful in cooking and is so easy to grow. Parsley is a biennial plant which means the plant will usually grow for 2 seasons. It will die down when the weather gets cold and start to sprout again in the spring.

Chives--I have had the same chive plant for years. It is one of the last plants to die back in the cold and usually the first to come alive again in the spring. Every few years we will have a mild winter where the chives will stay green all winter. The new growth on my chives is already a couple inches high.

Rosemary--Here in the lower Midwest (growing zone 6) rosemary is considered an annual plant. If you live in a cold climate you will almost always have to plant a new plant each year. I have had rosemary winter over a few times but that is always unexpected. In warmer climates, rosemary is a perennial evergreen and can grow to the size of a bush.

Thyme--Thyme likes dry soil and grows close to the ground. It is a good plant at the front of the garden or for the edge of a container garden where it can spill over. It is a perennial that goes dormant during winter and then greens up again in the spring with new growth.

Herbs are almost fool proof to grown and require much less time and work than flowers or vegetables. If you are new to gardening or if you have not grown herbs before, I hope you will give them a try.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Better Nesting Book Club: After the War is Over

Better Nesting Book Club recommends:

After the War is Over
by Jennifer Robson

Are you a fan of Downton Abbey?  I arrived a bit late to the party but was completely hooked after watching the first season on Netflix. It didn't take me long to catch up and I have been a fan ever since. With season 5 just ending it will be a long wait for season 6. While you are waiting, I recommend reading After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson. If you like the world of Downton Abbey, I believe that you will enjoy this book.

Set in England at the end of World War I, it tells the story of Charlotte Brown who has finished four years of service as a military nurse and is ready to start a new chapter in her life. She moves to Liverpool to take a job helping the needy and is just settling in when she reconnects with her best friend's brother.

Edward Neville-Ashford, now Earl of Cumberland is struggling to recover from battle wounds and needs her help. Charlotte wants to help, but should she risk her heart and her future on a man who can never be hers? Edward needs to marry an heiress in order to shore up his family's fortunes and Charlotte is but the adopted daughter of a clergyman. She knows they can never be together even though he may be the love of her life.

This romantic novel is full of historical detail that gives it more depth than the average romance. On the serious side, it takes a look at conditions in post-war England, addressing the changing roles of women; changing conditions for the aristocracy: poverty; and social unrest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Craft Caddy

Quite some time ago I had the idea to use some of the various vintage tins, boxes, jars, and other containers that I have collected to organize my craft and sewing supplies. You can see some of the vintage eye candy that inspired me here. As is often the case with me, I have the inspiration and the idea. but I fall short when it comes to actually executing the idea. This project is a little baby step toward my vision of organized vintage bliss.

I had this wooden caddy gathering dust in my basement. It it holds 4 pint-sized berry baskets (or tills) and is meant to be used for picking small berries such as raspberries. I have always heard carriers like this referred to as a handy, but a quick search didn't turn up any information so this may be a local or regional term for them.

Anyway, I have kept this berry handy because it reminds me of my grandfather. It belonged to him and I am pretty sure that he made it. Since I have no plans to do any berry picking, I thought it would be a nice idea to re-purpose this as a holder for some of my crafting tools.

After cleaning up the wooden carrier, I added an empty cocoa tin to hold my collection of decorative edge scissors, a couple cans covered in wallpaper scraps for pens and pencils, and the bottom of a vintage refrigerator dish to hold a set of shorter-than-normal markers. There is still a little room in one corner and I am on the lookout for a container that will fit there and work for holding glue sticks.

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