"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Monday, November 21, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

I think it will be fun to use some of the Make do and Mend Mondays for holiday themed projects until the end of the year. I am feeling inspired to go through my holiday items and pass on the things I no longer want or use while making the most of what I do want. I also feel a need to go with a more simple and natural theme for my decorating. It started with my autumn decorations this year which I pared down and made some friends happy with items I am not using. To me, part of making do is looking at my home and rooting out what is just cluttering things and what I really love.

I decided it would be fun to create a winter table outside on the terrace. This terrace is seen from our sitting area of the living room and I want to enjoy the outdoors from my windows. First, I cut a piece of black plastic to cover the area of the table I wanted to decorate. This makes for easy clean up later on when I want to take the display apart.

I took cuttings from the holly we have all over our garden at Cranberry Cottage and gathered some pinecones we use for fire starters in our woodstove. Pruning holly normally takes place in January for us. You are able to cut the branches back by one third to encourage more fullness in the holly tree so it is good for the tree as well as giving me decorative greens for the season. I simply did part of my pruning early. Any green you have available will do.

Gather items you have and begin with the tallest item. For me, this was a black lantern. I placed it on two bricks allowing me to open and shut the lantern without moving any holly. Now add your items around the table in a pleasing way thinking of a triangle as you work. Lower items should be placed towards the front and/or edges. If you need height for an item, place it on an inverted clay flower pot as I did with my iron pinecone which you can see in the photo below.

Begin with your longest pieces of holly, going all around the table to create the body of the display. Now tuck in small pieces of the holly where needed to give it fullness.

I gathered moss which is all too plentiful in our garden at the cottage. This is tucked in here and there to give a new texture. Spread out the pinecones around the table. Crabapples are in abundance now from the tree at the back of our garden and these are added to bring in color. I tucked in my gourds here and there.

All the bits and pieces are items I already had which make a pleasing display when put together on a winter table. Be sure to add candles. I added a candle in a lower spot safely but placing it in a bowl shaped pot. There is no danger of fire this way and yet I have more balanced candle light.

When Christmas is closer, I will tuck in an ornament here and there to give my winter table a true holiday theme.

With our long and cold evenings, this winter table cheers even the darkest of evening. Look around for things you have and see what greens you can use from your garden. Or perhaps ask a friend or neighbor if you can clip a little of their greens if you have none. Pretty seasonal decorating does not have to cost the earth. It only needs some time and imagination. I hope I have inspired you to give it a try.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happiness is.....

...a warm and cozy knitted patchwork afghan!

My grandma knitted me this patchwork afghan. My mommy thinks it is hers and I humor her by allowing her to think so but it is really mine as you can see. It is cold here in Holland and I love spending my evenings on the couch wrapped up in my afghan taking a catnap.

Keep warm wherever you are!

Kitty paws and kisses,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

After another weekend of hard graft, we have the pergola project completed. Here is the result...

To get to this, we had to first remove the straight but very wonky brick path. I surprised Jos having removed it myself while he was off to buy the gravel chips for the path. Lifting the bricks with a spade was easy but carrying them away to stack them was not. I was so happy to be able to do that so at least it was one less thing for Jos to do.

He started by planting up the area at the end of the previously straight path. We placed some Japanese anemones and a few creeping plants such as Golden Cinquefoil in this area.

Then Jos laid out concrete bands to line the path. He also reinforced the terrace egde onto the path by laying bricks lenghtwise into the ground. After the ground was leveled and stamped down, we laid a anti-weed membrane down first. I cut it to fit and we placed some bricks down to keep it in place as we started to fill the path with the gravel chips. We choose basalt chips which turn black when they are damp. They color perfectly with the slate siding of our house.

I had pulled up some bricks to change the shape of the garden. It needed some attention to bring it back to a neat sharp line.

It looks like it was always in this shape now. Thank you Jos for all that hard work to make an idea I had a reality!

All the hard work has been worth it as it just looks so right in the garden now. While I still have a few more ideas, it is all starting to come together. Come next spring, I hope to see all the planting start to really bring a nice romantic atmosphere to our cottage style garden.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

This project is not really making do or mending unless you consider we are making do with a minimum budget for renovating our garden both front and back. So another garden project which has been started over this past weekend has saved us big time money once again already...

Making our garden a special place is really important to Jos and I. He turns the things I imagine into reality even though he says he is not handy. I am really proud of his latest project...a pergola. We had made some changes to the back garden but it was still not working for us. We felt the garden lacked depth and mystery. We had stopped at a shop in the north of Holland to see about buying a couple more wrought iron rose arbors to give us some depth. We left without the money spent on the rose arbors and armed with inspiration instead after walking around in the garden of this shop. We created this instead...

The wooden pergola goes straight back to the second terrace then curves off at the last section. Once the pergola is full of climbing plants, it will lead your eye back but pull you in to walk there since you will not be able to see everything at once creating the sense of mystery. Right now, you have to use your imagination that it is covered in clematis, wisteria, climbing roses and Virginia creeper. They are all there as we took these plants from other areas and placed them against the pergola to start working some magic next spring (fingers crossed).

The bricked path is coming up next. We will change the path to curve off with the pergola and it will be a gravel pathway to add more interest. We also have section of planting that has to be dug up and replanted elsewhere now. The new line also allows us the tunneled walkway without getting in the way of the Robinia Umbraclifera or 'mop-head' Acacia tree. In planting up the section beside the tree rather than having a straight path, it will create a more secluded feel to the back terrace. I am excited to get on with a little more of the planting and the path but that will have to wait as Jos has a busy period again at work and may have to go away for a week.

This pergola was a real bargain to put together. We recycled one piece of old wood and bought the rest which came to about 88 euros. It would have cost us in the hundreds to have a gardener do the same job.

And that rose arbor? It is moving to a new area of the garden to create a more intimate sitting area. But that is a project I will share with you another day. In the meantime, the birds are enjoying the high perches from the arbor and pergolas in the garden. It is a busy place today while they come to feed which gives me a pleasant view onto my garden.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Welcome November to my home!

October flew by like a leaf falling from a tree. November is here and we are enjoying the last leaves before they are all gone while also looking forward to the winter season. It brings up feelings of cocooning in house with a warm quilt and cup of hot cocoa. Quilts are important in my home along with afghans. I love having them in most of the rooms to decorate with as well as use. You will find me most evenings wrapped up with a quilt on the couch.

Our bedroom has a couple of quilts including this one hanging on a rack. I placed it with some red accents to the front for autumn and then added a dough trough filled with leaves, toadstools and acorns. It is nice to get out old items once again. I made the bobbinlace toadstool picture years ago but still enjoy seeing it again each autumn.

What do you use in your home for comfort?

"Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.