The New Terrarium

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

terrariumbook

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new book, The New Terrarium, for weeks and it finally arrived today.  I have no experience in creating terrariums but have found myself pining for one for months.  Terrariums seem like the perfect fit for me; I love to garden, I wish I could have indoor plants but my cats eat anything with leaves, and I have a fondness for small and detailed things.  Some of my favorite plants in my garden are the tiniest ones, sedums and succulents, and I often find myself drawn to mosses and lichen when I hike in the woods.  When several different blogs recommended this book, I realized I had to own a copy and learn how to make a terrarium of my own.  I’ve only just flipped through the book today, but it seems to cover the basics:  which plants do best in a terrarium, how to care for your plants, and designs for different little environments.  The photographs are beautiful; this is a book that is enjoyable to look through and as well as being full of information.

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I’ll be keeping my eyes open for vintage glass jars and containers, as well as checking out stores like Crate and Barrel and Ikea for simple canisters.  I’m thrilled this book finally arrived and am excited to create my own little habitat.

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{The New Terrarium is published & copyrighted by Clarkson Potter}

Once Wed ~ Table Trends

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

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Often I think about my own wedding that occurred 2 years ago (will be 3 years in August) and I think, “Gosh, I wish I could do it all over again.”  Part of me wishes to experience those feelings of marrying my best friend again; the whoosh of emotion and overwhelming happiness, the feeling like you’re literally floating on air, the feeling of being the only two people left in the world with everyone else blurry in the background, and then at the same time being surrounded by all of our close friends and family and feeling so loved.  We talk about renewing our vows (I’ve even thrown out the idea of renewing them every anniversary – heck, if Seal and Heidi Klum do it, why can’t we?), but you could never get back those same exact feelings of that day again.  Then there’s the whole “designer” in me that wants to get married all over again; going crazy coming up with color combinations, reception themes, table decor, favor ideas… ya, maybe it’s better that we don’t go there again.

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Thankfully, one of my favorite blogs, Once Wed, has an amazing series called “Table Trends,” where different guest designers take a theme and decorate a table setting based around it.  The textures and colors frequently end up printed out in my “inspiration sketchbook” and are very eclectic and unique.  Since each Table Trend is created by a different designer, each table setting has it’s own personal style.  I’m always surprised by the different ideas people use, using ordinary items in ways that make such beautiful decorations.  I may not be getting married again, but I love checking out Table Trend postings and am looking for an excuse to throw an elegant dinner party of my own!

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(these beautiful photos of Jeffrey and I were taken by my cousin, Sam Williams)

{Table Trend images via Once Wed}

Mini Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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My husband’s grandmother gave me a set of mini muffin tins last year and I came across them while organizing and realized I had never used them.  So I checked the fridge to see what I had on hand, and decided to make some buttermilk blueberry mini muffins.  The tins look worn, but well loved and full of character.  I was so glad to come across them as they had fallen behind much larger tins and pans.  Lately I’ve been so touched by other people’s generosity and kindness, even something as small as someone smiling at me at a cash register can boost my mood.  Finding the mini muffin tins was a nice reminder that I’m thought of and cared for to be given something that was obviously used and treasured.

I’m not sure where I got my recipe from, I wrote it on a card years ago and never marked the website I used it from.  If I find out, I will surely update the post!  Also, I hardly ever buy fresh buttermilk anymore since I had so many half used cartons go bad.  Instead, I keep powdered buttermilk in my cabinet and simply mix up however much I need.

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Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 1/4 cups sugar (*can be reduced to 1 cup, especially if blueberries are sweet)
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 cup buttermilk (*you can substitute regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk)
• 2.5–3 cups blueberries (*for me, I like blueberry muffins to be stuffed with blueberries, so the more the better)
• 1/4 cup applesauce
• 1 tsp vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F and grease muffin tins.  In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, then add applesauce and vanilla.
2.  Mix flour and baking powder in separate bowl.  Add flour mix alternating with buttermilk, but don’t beat.  Carefully fold in blueberries (if you beat the batter mixture your muffins won’t end up fluffy).
3.  Fill muffin tins and lightly sprinkle with sugar (if you want a crumbly top).  Bake for 30 minutes for regular muffin tins, 15-20 minutes for mini muffin tins.
4.  Here’s the most important part!  Let hot muffins cool in muffin pan for 20 minutes before removing.  Also, it helps to carefully round each muffin with butter knife.  The melted blueberries can stick to the sides and if the muffins are still too hot when you remove them, the tops can come right off while the bottoms stick to the tin.

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{to view more of my buttermilk blueberry muffin photos, please visit my Flickr}

List Making

Monday, April 13th, 2009

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It’s always hard to jump back into the swing of things on Mondays, but especially hard after a holiday weekend.  I had a lovely, peaceful Easter weekend with family and am finding it hard to shake that relaxed vibe.  It may sound like I’m just procrastinating, but many times the way I refocus and get into a work mode is to write a list.  I’ll write out my goals for that day or that week, figuring out and prioritizing which things need to happen first.  It’s almost like having a little meeting with myself to go over all my to-do’s and have a game plan to move forward.  Plus, one of my favorite things about to-do lists is the part when you finish something… it just feels so good to cross things off!

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I know that I’m not alone in my admiration of list making.  I’ve discussed this with several other lovers of organization who say it’s true, making lists really helps with work, school, or sometimes is just plain enjoyable.  Lists for food shopping or for trip packing, sure; but there are lots of people who just simply love to make lists and some take it to another level.  Lists can be a way of discovering things about yourself and remembering experiences that left an impression on you.  I bought the book Listography: Your Life in Lists for a fellow list fan, best friend and cousin this past Christmas and she said it’s been extremely enjoyable to fill out.  The book is a companion to the website and the writers have other books: My Listography: My Amazing Life in Lists and Love Listography: Your Love Life in Lists.  There’s also other listing books out there: To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us and The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information, among others.

The only problem if you love list making as much as me… you have to remember to get your work done at some point, and stop making so many lists!

{book covers shown belong to Chronicle Books}

Easter Eggs

Friday, April 10th, 2009

I have many wonderful childhood memories of Easter.  Every year I looked forward to picking out my “Easter outfit” with my Mom, which of course was completed with hat, gloves, shawl, decorative tights, purse, and shiny mary janes.  Apparently Coco Chanel’s advice to always take off the last thing you put on so you don’t over accessorize didn’t apply.  I remember every year stuffing my mouth full of jelly beans, marshmallow Peeps, and chocolate bunnies Easter morning.  I don’t seem to remember the year our dog Scruffy ate most of my sister’s basket before we awoke (and lived through it – the chocolate did nothing to him), but I’ve heard about it plenty of times.  But the most enjoyable activity I remember by far was dyeing Easter eggs with my siblings and cousins.

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(Some ornate Easter eggs, via Martha)

Our eggs were never that fancy, usually just a box from PAAS and plenty of vinegar.  Sometimes we would use crayon before dyeing, other times we tried using decorative shrink wraps, but most times we’d simply dye the eggs and mix and match different colors.  I think everyone would have at least one egg that ventured into every bowl, in every color, seeing who could get the darkest.  Just spending a lazy weekend afternoon doing something simple and being with family are the best memories I have of this holiday.

I hope whatever it is that you do this weekend, celebrating Easter, Passover, or simply spring, you are able make wonderful memories with friends and family.

{images shown belong to Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Inc.}

Vegetable Garden

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Being stuck inside sick for most of the past two weeks has made me feverishly plan (in my head, at least) the things I’d like to plant in my garden this year.  Last year I did a lot of broad strokes, planting lots of perennials and shrubs, but this year I’d like to focus on growing more herbs and vegetables.  Most of our property is either part-sun to full shade, which isn’t very suitable for herbs and veggies.  The only full sun areas are the front yard (I’d love this book to turn the entire front yard into an edible garden) and some on one side of the house.  Unfortunately the soil on that side of the house is not of good quality and is mostly sand and clay, so I’m thinking it would be a perfect excuse to build some raised garden beds.

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(an amazing garden with raised beds via Gardening in a Minute)

Raised beds are a perfect option if you don’t have the perfect soil or if you want to plant  organically.  Also, they can be made to attach fencing or netting to keep birds and animals out (we have lots of bunnies).  I’ve done some basic research, and found that Sunset, This Old House, and Erin Covert’s blog have great information on building raised garden beds.

As for what to grow, I’ve ordered seed catalogs (although I should’ve done this back in February) from Johnny’s Select Seeds, Seed Savers, and Seeds of Change.  For herbs, I’m thinking of growing basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and dill.  For veggies, I’m thinking of growing different mixed greens, tomatoes, peppers, zuchinni, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, and peas.  I’m not sure if I can fit all of these in the raised beds with enough space to grow, but I can dream can’t I?

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(the vegetable gardens of my dreams, Martha’s and Thomas Jefferson’s at Monticello)

{in order, images shown belong to Gardening in a Minute, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Inc., and Val Ann, respectively}

Little Miss Sniffles

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I apologize for my short post today, I’ve had a cold for about 1.5 weeks and it recently turned into a sinus infection.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say I’m not feeling myself or very well.

To help make me feel better, I logged onto Flickr (which I’m still discovering and learning how to get around) to find some inspirational photos.  Instead of being sick, I’m wishing for:

tea
… A lovely cup of tea (and a sweet treat),

camping
… The simple pleasures of camping in the summertime,

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… To snuggle with a furry friend,

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… And to go for an early morning walk in the fog.

{in order, images shown belong to tartelette, unruly things, jen | sophik, and Alex !, respectively}

If These Stone Walls Could Talk…

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

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Living in New England, I’ve become accustomed to the sight of old stone walls.  It’s rare to walk through wooded areas and open meadows and not come across these formations.  They are so much a part of the New England landscape, that they’re frequently overlooked and unnoticed.  But more recently, I’ve been taking note of stone walls on my walks, seeing the formations that they make, where some walls meet at an angle, where some walls form the edges of a path.  I cannot help but wonder how and when these walls were created.  I know that most were used to mark the edge of farmland or property, but I wish I could see what the area used to look like, when the forests I walk through were farmland.  And how were these areas taken over by forests again?  I decided this past weekend to find some answers to my questions.

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My search lead me to my library, which has become a recent place of rediscovery.  With cutting back on spending (goodbye Netflix, goodbye Barnes & Nobles) I’ve been taking advantage of the free benefits of libraries a lot more often.  I rounded up a plethora of books and skimmed through many of them.  I learned about the different cycles of New England’s farming history, where in the mid 1700’s much of New England’s forests were cleared for farming, but just about a hundred years later many farms were abandoned when a mass migration occurred to venture west to the Ohio River Valley.  This is when the forests began taking back the land (going through different periods of forest growth – first White Pines, then Hardwoods).  I read about different types of stone walls: dumped/tossed, disposal, lace, bedrock, retaining… the list goes on and on.

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Many walls were built for fencing in farm animals, while others acted as property line markers for early surveyors.  I read about a wall acting as a walking path when the dirt road alongside was frequently washed out and was too muddy to cross (this wall was a hard cap wall, which apparently is hard to come across).  I even read about a “pound” which was a sort of stone walled animal jail, a place to hold livestock that escaped their pasture until the owner “bailed” them out.  Many stone walls were built with features such as cattle ways (two paralleled stone walls built to lead cows to pasture), cow slips (a narrow slit in a wall allowing people to pass through but not a cow), and step stiles (sort of a stone staircase, allowing for climbing over walls).  What was interesting to me was to learn how well many of these walls were built, and how long they have lasted, throughout time and through much change in the landscape.  I’m still reading through much of the material and have only read a basic overview, but it feels satisfying to know next time I’m out walking through a forest path and come across an old stone wall, I’ll have more of an understanding and appreciation for why they exist.

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(The books I am currently reading are Good Fences by William Hubbell, Stone by Stone by Robert M. Thorson, New England Forests Through Time by David R. Foster & John F. O’Keefe, Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels, Exploring Stone Walls, by Robert M. Thorson, Changes in the Land by William Cronon, and Sermons in Stone by Susan Allport.)

Made by Hank

Monday, April 6th, 2009

http://madebyhank.etsy.com

With the coming of every season, I like to start off by using a new purse.  However, I’ve really been trying to watch my spending and only by necessary items, like new shoes when I honestly need new shoes and my old ones are falling apart.  So, when both fall and winter came last year, I looked to my closet for a used purse instead of purchasing a new one.  However, it’s spring, and I haven’t bought anything in quite some time… and I have been aching to own a purse by Made by Hank for such a long time.

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What intrigues me about Katie Henry’s bags?  First of all, I love the way she photographs her work.  Second, the fabric and color combinations she chooses are sophisticated and harmonious.  Third, her attention to detail is immaculate.  From her close-up photos, you can see the stitching is tight and clean, and several of her pieces have embellishments of buttons and stitched patterns and imagery.  I love her “signature style” of ruched fabric with diagonal stitching.  Since I first noticed her purses (many months ago) her work has had so much interest that her Etsy shop frequently sells out of items quickly… the fact that she has several purses in stock now must be a sign for me to act quickly and purchase one!

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You can find Made by Hank at her website, Etsy shop, and blog.

{images shown belong to Made by Hank}

Inspiration Collage ~ Calling Card

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Many times the way I start the design process, after talking with a client about the needs of a project, is by creating an inspiration collage.  Even if it’s never shown to the client, I do it for myself to start the formation of ideas for color, texture, style, and imagery.  I’m starting to brainstorm about the design for my calling cards (I prefer that name to the overused “business cards” – plus I should admit that I tend to romanticize things) and I decided to create an inspiration collage for myself.  Currently I’m attracted to cooler colors along with neutral or natural tones.  I’m also interested in creating texture with lace, intricate patterns, and other tiny details.  I’m thinking for the overall design, it should be a feminine approach, but making sure it’s not too “girly”, as well as being charming, simple and elegant.

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(Top row, left to right: The English Dept, Laurie Cinotto, Nicolette Camille.  2nd row, left to right: Robyn Glaser, Heather Smith Jones.  3rd row, left to right: Robyn Glaser, Les Indiennes, A Print A Day.  4th row: Simply Photo, France Ruffenach, Knitalatte.  Bottom row: Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette via 100 Layer Cake)

I hope you have a splendid weekend, I have ideas for lots of spring cleaning and organizing, but will start the weekend off by having dinner with my family and finding out together if my sister and brother-in-law are having a girl or boy!  Very exciting indeed.

{images shown belong to the owners listed above}