Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Blog Links: Gardening Tips, April 26, 2012

radish seedlings, The Shed
Radish seedlings in our raised beds, Spring 2010

This week's edition of Thursday Blog Links is all about gardening, so let's dig in. (Pun intended!)


USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (newly updated) from the US Department of Agriculture

The USDA updated their map this year, the first time since 1990. Just about every gardening book out there, as well as many gardening sites, refer to this map as the guide one should follow. This map is the most in-depth ever, with more "micro-climate" zones included this time around. You can search for your state and print out specific information for your area.

National Arbor Day information from the Arbor Day Foundation 

This Friday is National Arbor Day here in the US. Click the above link to learn about the history of Arbor Day and to check for events in your area. Arbor Day - and the Arbor Day Foundation - are all about planting and conserving our trees. And the Foundation mean business too: every new member receives 10 free trees as part of membership, plus a 33% discount on over 100 trees and shrubs. This is a great deal for gardeners, but also for those on a budget too.

Small Trees, The Shed
Our trees (though still small) include Arborvitaes, Crepe Myrtle & Magnolias

Grow a Vegetable Garden in Raised Beds from Better Homes & Gardens

Do you grow vegetables in a raised bed? We do and we love it! If this is a new idea for you, then this article from BHG.com will help explain everything you need to consider. The article is a combination slide show (on the left) with explanatory text (on the right) and provides gorgeous examples of raised beds. Is "gorgeous" the proper adjective to describe a vegetable bed? You bet!

Cedar Raised Beds, The Shed
Our cedar raised beds full of vegetable plants, early Summer 2011

Kitchen Garden Planner from Gardener's Supply Company

Plan your perfect edible garden with this handy new section on the Gardener's Supply website. Choose from their pre-planned layouts or design your own. With information on planting conditions necessary for many popular types of fruits and vegetables, you can map out what you want to grow in your kitchen garden and get started on it right away.

Tomato Blossoms, The Shed
Tomato blossoms on our patio, Summer 2010

Perennial Plants from the Perennial Plant Association

If you read my posts on Candytuft and Lithodora, you know I'm a huge fan of perennials. Yes, I'll still be mixing annuals into my gardens this Spring and Summer, but nothing beats perennials for long-term beauty year after year. This website is the place to learn about perennials: search their plant database, read about 2012's Perennial Plant of the Year, and more. This is a great resource.

Container Gardening information from HGTV

Whether you live in a city apartment, a condo with a balcony for a yard, or a home with a spacious patio, container gardening is a great way to grow a garden on your terms. There are containers that attach to fence posts, railings, walls, and there are pots and urns of every shape, size, and material imaginable. This link takes you to the Container Gardening section on HGTV's website, where you can find a wealth of helpful information and ideas. And, of course, container gardening "eye candy" always inspires too!

Container Garden, The Shed
Pots left to right: Mandevilla, Basil, Hot Peppers, Herbs, Tomato Plants
Summer 2010

I am hoping this weekend isn't a total washout here so I can continue tackling a long list of outdoor chores. First up will be weeding around the Leyland Cypress trees. Not fun but definitely necessary if I want to do any fertilizing and mulching next.

Will you be doing any gardening this weekend? I'd love to hear about your own gardening projects!

~Laura


I'm linking up here where you can find some awesome DIY projects and tips! 
Click on the button:



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lithodora: Evergreen and Electric Blue Radiance

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers


May 24, 2013 update: 
As this post continues to be one of my most popular, I just added new images to my blog to show how our Lithodora looks one year later. The link is at the bottom of this post!

So many of you enjoyed my post about Candytuft, that I decided to offer you another plant recommendation for your gardens: Lithodora.

I had never heard of Lithodora before we moved here to our furrever home, and in fact when I first saw it at a garden nursery assumed it was the annual flower Lobelia.

the difference between Lobelia and Lithodora
Both Lobelia and Lithodora have masses of
tiny flowers that provide quite a show of blue.

I was told by the nursery that Lithodora can handle our hot and humid southern New Jersey shore Summers, that it will bloom profusely all Summer long, and that it was an evergreen perennial. That's all I needed to hear to convince me to buy two pots for our front garden bed. That was back in 2008 - our first Spring in our new home - hard to be believe that was four years ago already! Having the hindsight of the past four years, I can share with you the realities of what this plant does and doesn't do.

Lithodora blooms profusely in the Spring. The electric blue blossoms are tiny but pack a big punch all together in full bloom. Our Lithodora is blooming much earlier this year than in past years, definitely due to the lack of a real Winter, but usually it is a mid-Spring blooming flower.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Yes, that is a baby Monarch butterfly keeping me company!

Lithodora is an evergreen perennial.
Lithodora maintains its green foliage year-round. Of course when there's several inches of snow on the ground, it doesn't matter. But this year, with the warm Winter, it was nice to have some green.

Lithodora is a groundcover. At least that's how I like to think of it. It spreads almost on top of the bed, winding its way slowly, never too agressively: it spreads in a behaved way.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
There was also a bumblebee enjoying the blue flowers,
but he just didn't want his picture taken!

Lithodora is a tougher plant that it seems.
Pay attention to this section because this is where I differ from the experts.

  • Lithodora doesn't flower profusely all Summer long, at least not here. And that's ok once you know that, right? But imagine how bummed out I was expecting the blooms to last and last. After I got over it eventually had to let it go, I came upon the next difficulty . . .
  • Lithodora needs lots of water in its first year of planting, and even with all that water it will just sort of shrink up in the worst heat and humidity. In fact, last Summer most of the Lithodora looked like it had turned dark brown and died. So I ripped it all out. Well, it grew back! In the early Fall, we noticed a few small shoots, and by mid-Fall we had a few of those amazing electric blue blooms and a fairly healthy looking plant. 

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Purchased another pretty Lithodora, which is called "Grace Ward."

Because of our mild Winter, the Lithodora bounced back completely, as you can see in the image below. And so I purchased another one to try again. Here's hoping they just keep growing and spreading!

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Newly planted on the left, and hopefully will make friends with the other one!

Details:


  • This hardy perennial is perfect in Zones 6-8, but I've also seen nursery catalogs that claim this is hardy down to and including Zone 5, and up to and including Zone 10 and 11. I'm in Zone 7.
  • Needs full sun to bloom, not much water - however - watch out during dry spells and high Summer heat and humidity.
  • May or may not bloom all Summer long - my guess is it depends where you are located.
  • Evergreen - keeps its green foliage color all Winter long.
  • Spreading groundcover - looks pretty in front of borders, and spilling over rocks and walls in gardens.
  • Likes soil on the acid side.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Looks so pretty spreading onto the rock wall.

What do you think? Will you give Lithodora a try? Do you already grow it and love it?

Let me know in the comments!

May 24, 2013 update: Click here to see how these gorgeous blue perennial flowers look one year later!

~Laura

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Blog Links: on Pinterest, Facebook Likes, and Fighting the Blues, April 19, 2012

Daffodils standing tall in our garden!

Here are this week's links to read and enjoy, all while sipping your favorite beverage. For me this morning? My usual large mug of Irish Breakfast Tea!


Brands on Pinterest: To $ or Not to $? [Study] ~ from Mashable

As an online seller on Etsy, I have wrestled with the issue of pinning my items on Pinterest, specifically whether or not to include the dollar amount. At first I didn't, then I saw others did, so I did, and then I felt weird, so I stopped. Then tried it again, still felt weird. Stopped. When I included the dollar amount, it felt less like I was sharing one of my creations with everyone, and more like me saying "buy this!" instead. I'm happy to report that the above study puts my mind at ease. If you sell your handmade creations or your vintage collections online, and you share them on Pinterest, read this results of this study to decide what's best for you.


How to Find the Original Source of an Image on Pinterest ~ from The Graphics Fairy

You may remember that I recently featured a beautifully crafted German Glass Glitter Easter Egg tutorial from The Graphics Fairy. Here she is again, only this time giving us an easy way to find the original sources on Pinterest. Because we have all run into this problem: you see a gorgeous project, you click to learn how to do it, and the pin goes to somewhere completely unrelated. Now there's a solution!


Big DIY Blogger Survey ~ from Crafterminds

Crafterminds - a great place for creative bloggers to find useful tips and info - is currently taking a survey to help all of us learn more about ourselves as crafty DIY bloggers. This survey only takes 10 minutes, covers many valuable topics, and the results will be shared on their website at the end of May. This survey runs through the end of April, so if you know someone who should take this survey, please share this link with them. And if you are a crafty, DIY creative blogger, by all means please participate in the survey.


5 Myths About Fighting The Blues ~ from Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project

You may have seen or read about Gretchen Rubin over the past few years, as she is the author of the wildly popular book The Happiness Project - her year-long quest to try out various ideas on creating happiness. Gretchen maintains a blog of the same title, and this article in particular caught my eye. I can be guilty of 3 out of the 5 myths when I'm feeling down, definitely not the "anger" one. How about you?


How to Get More Likes on Facebook ~ from The Oatmeal

While this infographic definitely has some laugh-out-loud examples of what not to do, the main point about making awesome things that are likeable definitely rings true.


Oh - and one more thing...

Last Thursday - besides blogging about my inability to see invisible paint - I devoted my Thursday Blog Links to an amazing giveaway from The EtsyGreetings Team. You still have time to enter - just by joining their email list - to win over 40 handmade cards from over 40 amazing artists. Details are here.

Hope you enjoyed these links!

~Laura

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wrapping up my kidney surgery chapter

Pink Geranium buds, Summer 2011
I realized that I have left some of you hanging, as to how I'm doing post surgery.

[Cue background music, somewhat dramatic, with a commanding voice saying... "When we last checked in, Laura was miserable having a stent up her ureter..."]

Needless to say, and I'm sure I referenced this somewhere in another post recently, the stent is out, and I'm basically considered almost fully recovered. Lots of good "ly" words in that sentence! I had an ultrasound last week and will see my surgeon this afternoon to see how the internal healing is progressing. The next step after that will be a renal scan about a month from now, which should - by that time - show everything nicely healed up. And then we can hopefully wrap up this chapter of my medical life and move it into the medical history file cabinet. 

The evil stent . . .

The stent was removed a few weeks ago. My husband chose to stay in the waiting room for this exam, he had no desire to see anything up close and personal. Meanwhile, the doctor asked me if I wanted to watch him remove it via a small camera. Why yes, I eagerly replied! I'm telling you: I felt like it was Christmas Day that day, I was just that happy to get the stent OUT of my body. 

The stent was green, a cross between a Spring green color and a deeper grass green color. Honestly, I have nothing against the color green, but seeing it associated with the evil stent will probably subconciously affect me somehow color-wise. Time will tell.

My backside fails me . . .

Because they were removing the stent, they had to give me a dose of a heavy-duty antibiotic to prevent infection. And it was administered via needle into my behind. I honestly thought - pre-needle-insertion - that it would be easy because I have several layers of fat in my backside which would surely absorb the pain and such. Nope, that's not how it went down... or should I say went in. It hurt. Really thought my extra layers would come through for me. They let me down.

Within about 24 hours I was feeling just fine. It was so liberating not to feel the urge to pee 20 times per hour! Yes, sometimes it is the little things that can bring me joy. Ha! Fast forward the two additional weeks that I had to still wait until being allowed to resume lifting things - still nothing too heavy - and doing normal day-to-day activities, and I'm feeling like I'm pretty well done with this saga.

Surgery hair . . .

My surgery hair worked out great, but of course it has grown out. That's the trouble with shorter hair. So I'll be back to my favorite hair salon soon to artificially make my hair look naturally messy. Ha!

Bullet holes? Not so much . . .

My five "bullet holes" (which is how I previously described my scars on my abdomen) are healing up nicely. Nicely? Well, they are healing up and looking less like bullet holes. So that's good.

So that's really it in a nutshell. Done, finished, and SO over it!

Except for one thing that is still nagging at me. That Nurse. 

I'll tell you about her sometime. Maybe then I'll be able to finally let it go. . .

~Laura

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Blog Links: EtsyGreetings Team Loves Mom Giveaway, April 12, 2012


Hi everyone, and Happy Thursday!

Of course, as I typed the date into the title of this post, I realized that tomorrow is Friday the 13th which for some people is a superstitious date. I don't believe that things happen any differently for me whether it is that specific day/date or not. For example, if - and when - I stub my toe on the stupid pet gate today - it does not mean that I won't do it again tomorrow. And when it happens tomorrow, it won't be because it is Friday the 13th. It just means that the pet gate has invisible paint on it, and that my husband can actually see invisible paint while I cannot.

Today's Thursday Blog Links are actually just one blog link. I'll explain.

I'm a proud member of the EtsyGreetings Team, a group of creative people designing and making handmade greeting cards. I love this particular Etsy team because everyone is so supportive of each other as we share questions, advice, tips, and stories about Etsy, about card-making, and life in general too! We do quite a few promotions throughout the year, offering our Etsy customers discounts and giveaways.

And today - April 12th - begins our biggest giveaway yet!


(I figured this logo tells you the title perfectly, so why not repeat it but just a bit smaller?)

Here's the details, direct from our EtsyGreetings Team Blog:


To celebrate moms everywhere,
EtsyGreetings is hosting one of the biggest giveaways in our history!

The giveaway features more than 40 beautiful, handmade, all-occasion greeting cards
made by EtsyGreetings team members.
{only U.S. residents eligible for prize}

Entries accepted April 12 - 23, with the randomly selected winner announced on April 23.

To be entered, simply join the EtsyGreetings mailing list!


Easy peasy!

Want to see the actual collection of handmade cards the winner will receive?

I thought so! Here they are:

EtsyGreetings Loves Mom Giveaway - more than 40 handmade cards!

You get many styles, in many colors, and the best part? These are all-occasion greeting cards, blank inside, so you will be able to use these for all sorts of special reasons. Much better than winning a "Congratulations on your 3rd set of twins!" card that might sit in a drawer somewhere until you have the perfect occasion to actually use it!

All you have to do is go to our team blog and fill out a super-easy form to join our mailing list! That's it! So... click here and enter!

Here's a close-up look at one of my cards that is included in this giveaway:

Just Because handmade card by Pet Scribbles

You can click on the image to see the details up close. There's gold glitter embellishment on the yellow rose, and the border and background are distressed by hand too.

But wait: there's more!  More, you ask?  Yep!

Mother's Day Cards

When you visited the Etsy Greetings Team Blog and entered the giveaway, did you scroll down past the entry form? Huh? You didn't enter yet? Well, when you do enter, scroll down the page and you will see images that will take you directly to the Etsy Greetings Team member shops that are selling handmade Mother's Day cards! Again, you will see in the pictures that we offer many different styles and designs of Mother's Day cards, which means you will find something for every "mom" on your list!

You can see my own Mother's Day cards available by clicking on the link to my Pet Scribbles Etsy shop on the right-hand side of this page.

And that's it for today's blog links! What? You still haven't clicked over to enter the giveaway? What are you waiting for? Click here to enter!

~Laura

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do You Ear What I Ear? My Etsy Handmade Earrings Addiction: Spring!


Spring Colorblock Earrings, Reclaimed Wood | $28 | Totem Color Blocks

I love earrings. Especially handmade earrings. Always have.

Silver Earrings in Chartreuse "loops in frames" | approx. $235.50 | Mabotte

Bohemian Chick Olivine Earrings | $32 | LunaEssence

And being a seller (and shopper!) on Etsy, I see lots of earrings.

Raindrop Earrings, Hand Blown Glass | $50 | Kiva Ford

I favorite them, and I heart them, and I covet them.

Vintage Style Wedding Earrings, 3 Pairs | $15 | GemsTheWord

And since I can't purchase every pair that I love, I will share these earrings with you, dear readers. And I hope to do this on a regular basis too, perhaps monthly.

Pansies & Butterflies, Decoupaged Earrings | $24 | ericosmicgirl

If you purchase any of these earrings, you will be giving them a good home, and that will make me very happy!

Handpainted Sunflower Earrings | $29.90 | Jewelry and Miniatures

And a bit jealous.

Real Flower Daisy Resin Earrings | $35 | Spotted Dog Asheville

But overall I promise to be happy for you!

Scrumptuous Citrus Earrings | $25 | Meredithbead

Vintage Glass Button Earrings, Blueberry Lemonade | $21 | Timeless Trinkets

Want to see more of my favorites?

You can follow me on Pinterest, and see my Handmade Earrings on Etsy board here.

Gemstone Earrings, Blue Topaz, Black Spinel, Quartz | $62 | OBTPjewelry

And you can see more of my Etsy Favorites by clicking here. You can add me to your Etsy Circle so that you can see all of my "future" favorites too.

Long Maple Seed Earrings | $26.50 | Seed and Sky


Do you have a handmade or vintage "almost addiction" like I do with earrings? Let me know in the comments!

~Laura

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday Blog Links: Egg Decorating, Part 2, April 5, 2012

Easter Egg Decorating Crafts Roundup

Happy Thursday! Time for today's Thursday Blog Links!

Because last week's Egg Decorating links were so popular, and because I found even more awesome egg decorating links since then, I present to you [cue the trumpets] . . . Egg Decorating, Part 2 

Time is of the essence here, right? I mean, there's only really a few days left to finish your decorating for Easter. Any one of the following awesome egg decorating tutorials will have you looking like an artistic wizard in no time at all. So click through each link, decide what type of "look" you're going for, and then get thee to a craft store to pick up whatever supplies you don't have on hand.

Ready? Set? Go!

Tie Dye Easter Eggs from Amanda's Cookin'
How to Make Tie Dye Easter Eggs, from Amanda's Cookin'
I know that right now, all you want to do is figure out which egg decorating DIY you're going to attempt. So, just remember this for next week when you have more time: Spend some time checking out Amanda's blog. Filled with recipes and crafts, Amanda knows of what she speaks...and cooks and creates! She was the craft expert for Disney's Kaboose.com for many years, and you may have seen her in Parents magazine or Redbook, just to name a few print mags she's been in. Also you need (yes, need is a strong word, but trust me on this one!) to check out her other blog Crafts by Amanda. (And thank me later!) Click on the link above (below the picture) to learn how to tie dye eggs.

Easy Silhouette Easter Eggs from Rook No. 17
Easy Silhouette Easter Eggs, from Rook No. 17
Another blog to savor next week when you have more time? Rook No. 17. Jennifer's blog is filled with creative goodness, and she has ardent fans to back that up: Last year, her fans voted her as one of Babble.com's Top Mom Craft Blogs: just by fan support she ended up in slot number 13 out of hundreds of blogs. Think about it: to have fans that are willing to spend the time voting for you because they know that others will love what you do? That's priceless! And so is her blog, so check it out. Next week. Don't forget. Click on the link above (below the picture) for the tutorial.

Subway Art Painted Easter Eggs from Lil' Luna
Subway Art Painted Easter Eggs, from Lil' Luna
How adorable are these trendy subway art eggs? I say, "Very!" You know what else I'm going to say, right? Check out Kristyn's blog - Lil' Luna - for lots of crafty goodness. In particular, she has a great "Freebies" section of fun printables. Go there and poke around on your own. Again, you will thank me. Click on the link above (below the picture) to make your own subway art eggs.

(I'm tellin' you: next week is going to rock for so many of you if you schedule some "you" time for yourself and enjoy these blogs.) 

Speckled and Gilded Easter Eggs from Sand and Sisal
Speckled and Gilded Easter Eggs, from Sand and Sisal
Some of you may remember the "Pea and Moss Balls" tutorial I shared in the March 22nd Thursday Blog Links. (And if not, go check it out.) This is another fabulous creation from Kim of Sand and Sisal. I love any and all shades of aqua, turquoise, and teal, so these eggs are particularly pretty to me. Click on the link above (below the picture) to learn how Kim made these eggs. (And featuring two of Kim's projects in such a short span of time here on The Shed should tell you to seriously spend time on her blog. Next week. I know you know. But I can't help saying it.)

Easter Egg Dying Using Fruits and Vegetables, from Dreamy Whites
Easter Egg Dyes Using Fruits and Vegetables, from Dreamy Whites 
Maria's blog - Dreamy Whites - is about french farmhouse inspired living, as her blog's tagline says. This blog has lots of photos that are, in fact, dreamy - a good adjective for the pretty and soft photos she shares. Definite eye candy alert! Maria is a contributor to Souvenir Lifestyle magazine, and also has her own shop selling hand-sewn items, french antiques, and organic lavender products. Click on the link above (below the picture) to learn which combinations of fruits and vegetables were used to achieve such wonderful shades. And next week? You know what to do.

For even more egg decorating ideas, check out Egg Decorating Part 1 here!

Easter Egg Decorating Crafts Roundup

Have a creative weekend!

And Happy Easter too!

~Laura

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