Monthly Archives: May 2009

putting it to bed

front bed after1

We finished the front flower bed!

That uprooted azalea bush is not part of it, we just didn’t have the energy to move it after pickaxing three of them out of the ground, transplanting the largest (without a wheelbarrow), and planting 12 new trees, shrubs, and flowers. To say nothing of the mental energy involved.

When we went to buy my Boulevard Cypress, we sadly discovered it probably wouldn’t do well in our front yard, which only gets weak morning light. I didn’t like (or couldn’t afford) any of the options that would, and a protracted debate about evergreens vs. deciduous trees ensued.

We compromised by planting little juniper bushes around the Japanese cherry:

front bed after tree

I’m still concerned that it’s going to look bare in the winter, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, we’ve got lots more work to do.




Joe has been collecting the wood to build my closet system one piece at a time. Not on purpose, but the boards he decided to use have been discontinued, so it’s become a treasure hunt of every Lowe’s in the area trying to find enough of them in good condition.

This has been going on for months. Last night I had a minor fit about how it’s practically Memorial Day and nothing’s getting done, and soon it will be too damn hot to work on the house and we still won’t have closets. I’m never sure when my rants will be taken to heart, but this one was.

Since Joe has already hit every Lowe’s in southeastern PA, he mapped out four in New Jersey and we went on a spree. I was convinced it would be in vain, but we found two boards at the first store in Fairfield. The next two were a total bust, and we got lost in Deptford and almost gave up. Good thing we didn’t, because that store had the rest of the boards we needed.

I was elated all the way home—until I realized that I now have to sand and stain a dozen boards. Rats.


glass act

original carafe

I am by no means an impulse shopper. I make fun of Joe for being so picky, but in truth, I am just as bad. How bad? Well, since signing the closing papers, I’ve been filling fat binders full of torn-out magazine pages and website print-outs of things I eventually want to buy.

After I exhaustively research the options and narrow them down to the single, perfect one I want, I add that item to a running shopping list I keep. When it goes on sale or threatens to disappear forever, I buy it.

I’ve been coveting the carafe in the above photo ever since I saw it published in the now-defunct Blueprint. Could not find one anywhere. Until.

Yesterday, this arrived, courtesy of Mighty Leaf Tea:

my carafeIt’s not the exact one I wanted, but I think I like it even better. And not only is it a steal at $20, but they also make some damn fine tea and the prettiest accessories ever. Go get yourself some.


wedding follies

wedding candles

I got married before I started this blog, but I made practically everything for my wedding. And recently, while organizing, I was reminded what a good job I did. Above are the candles I used as centerpieces—glass cylinders covered with art paper. A lot of people took them home and still use them. The leftovers will make pretty luminaries for a summer party sometime.

table number frame crop

My mom found these frames we used for the table numbers at the dollar store. The dollar store. There are two different patterns, and I will definitely be using them again. My advice to anyone who’s DIY: You simply cannot go wrong with black and white as a color scheme. Throw in whatever other color you want as an accent; it’s always going to look sophisticated, effortlessly.

ring pillow

Okay, the ring pillow was all Mom, but I gave her the idea. Won’t be reusing this until Belle gets married.


monkey see

monkey parade close

Every year for Mother’s Day, my present to my mom is one day of hard labor. In the past I’ve landscaped her yard and cleaned the basement. This year, we got ready for the grandaddy of all yard sales.

Since I outgrew my love of knickknacks at age 10 or so, I’ve shuddered at the mere mention of a yard sale, but this one is an evil necessity. I’m actually psyched to unload all the crap—er, valuable merchandise—we’ve amassed that won’t fit in our basement-less, closet-less house.

But the price of doing so is sorting through my mom’s mountain of junk, including everything she packed up from my grandma’s. I basically spent the day  explaining, over and over, that no one in their right mind is going to pay cash of any denomination for a wind sock made out of an old soda bottle.

And, naturally, I brought home twice as many boxes as I came with. Mostly kitchen stuff, but there was a box of drink stirrers and cocktail garnishes, including these awesome little monkeys. A cherry’s supposed to go on their front paws, but I’m still trying to figure out how they hang on a glass. They make me want to take up bartending.

So what’s your take on yard sales? Do you have them? Shop them? Avoid them like swine flu?


clearly, we have a problem

even more plants crop

We bought more plants today. I only wanted to go back for white peonies and a few irises, but somehow we ended up bringing all this home: one pink lily (Joe’s pick—I am beginning to wonder about his affinity for pink), viburnum, irises, peonies, and a white hydrangea. Not only did we spend a fortune, we’re completely off color scheme.

And we’re not done yet. I’m campaigning for some kind of evergreen (aside from the viburnum; the variety we picked will keep its leaves), just to keep things interesting in the winter. I like this dwarf cypress a lot, but it’s pricey: boulevard cypress

Then there’s the issue of getting them in the ground. We spent the afternoon and only got this far:

front bed in progress

And we still have two trees in pots out back. After investing so much time and money, I just hope we’re not making a huge mistake, or several. Though at this point, if we change our minds, we could practically open our own nursery. And we will be trying to salvage those azaleas, which are beautiful, but too close to the house. Any takers?


organized crime


I admit it: I’m a full-fledged, Martha-caliber organizing geek. I picked the grayest, rainest Monday in the world to take off, and this is what I did with it. It may not look like much, but above is the result of winnowing down five boxes of toiletries to fit in one teeny tiny cabinet.

But the true pièce de résistance is this:


I started organizing the attic. I was using masking tape and a blue sharpie, but that didn’t nearly satisfy my inner analness, so I found these awesome (patent pending!) repositionable labels at Office Max* and printed labels: attic-org-detail

One day it will be a sea of neatly arranged, matching bins as far as the eye can see. We’ll be able to find anything. *Swoon.*

* Two notes on Office Max. One, they have a super-pretty store brand called DiVoga that I really dig. And two, if you need small organizational containers and such, try an office supply store. You’re welcome.