Friday, July 10, 2015

Attract Butterfly Royalty to Your Garden. Welcome, Monarch!

Butterflies bring out the child in me!

I started chasing butterflies when I was five or six (that's me at age 6). When I got my first single-lens reflex camera my freshman year in college, I started photographing them.

Several years ago, I started a butterfly diary and have continued to record the butterfly activity in our yard. Admittedly, the fluttering around our yard is impacted by the number of trees we have. Shade is a blessing on a blistering hot day and when the electric bill comes due, but it also casts a shadow on a butterfly garden.

We do, however, have a precious little patch under our kitchen window that the sun shines bright on for enough hours of the day for black-eyed susan, bee balm, zinnias and a large butterfly milkweed plant--asclepias--to grow.

The pink butterfly milkweed is the caviar of the monarch world. It can be somewhat difficult to find. I ordered mine online. But, it's easy to grow, hardy (it winters over in our borderline Zone 4) and, if you let it go to seed, will send up new plants the following year. Plant it in the back of the garden, though. It grows to four feet high or so.

The pink butterfly milkweed is the caviar of the monarch world. The butterfly lays her eggs singly on the leaves and blooms of this plant. When they hatch, the larvae feast on the plant and when ready, build a stunning green chrysalis trimmed in gold specks.

This flashy caterpillar was one of 23 that hatched on my milkweed a couple of summers ago. I think I squealed with delight that morning!

This pretty lady hung around the milkweed plant for four to five hours one day last week. She fed on the blooms and laid A LOT! of eggs. Can't wait to see how many hatch.

Looking forward to having more garden royalty in the coming month.

A note about my photos:  I had fun enhancing the horizontal top photo and the collage with lovely textures from Kim Klassen.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

1950s Chalkboard Gets a Chalk Paint Makeover

Seems somehow appropriate that this well-used 1950s chalkboard be made over with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This nice-sized board was an estate sale find.

The actual black chalkboard looked a bit like a spider web. It had hairline cracks all over.  As I often do, I forgot to take a before picture. This is a "semi before" shot after I had painted the chalkboard section with three coats of chalkboard paint.

The wooden frame was in good structural shape, but had lost its lustre. The chalkboard was well-worn. The bottom of the frame has a nice chalk-holder ledge.

My daughter-in-law has wanted a chalkboard for her kitchen for some time, so I thought I'd give this one a makeover for Meg.

I left the original sticker on the back to preserve its vintage character.

My son had refinished a vintage hotel mailbox unit I found at a local thrift store in ASCP Chateau Gray, which they repurposed for use as a sideboard in their dining room. I decided to stick with that color for the chalkboard frame. The colors of the two pieces are much closer in person than my photos show.

First I applied a coat of ASCP Graphite. Then I applied a coat of Chateau Gray over the Graphite. I used a sponge brush, but because I felt lazy and was on a tight timeline to finish this project before the kids came to visit, I used it almost like a dry brush. It's easy to do--just wipe most of the paint off the sponge on the side of the paint container.

I was going for a heavily distressed look, which I think it created. Best of all, there was no need to sand. Basically my lazy technique saved a whole step.

Finally, I applied a coat of ASCP clear wax.

I added a pretty canvas ribbon with a coordinating stripe and a vintage mini tart tin as an embellishment.

I finished it in time for the kids' visit. And, she liked it!

Make it a great day!
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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn on Our Acreage

This time of year, I know we are truly blessed to live on such a beautiful acre in the center of the city. Backing onto a steep, wooded ravine with a small creek running through it, our slice of heaven provides all the texture, color and crunch autumn has to offer.

No other explanation necessary. Sit back and enjoy the view.

Make it a great day!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Charming Halloween Baskets in 4 Easy Steps

Looking for a simple, inexpensive way to add a bit of Halloween charm to your fall decor?

This summer, I bought up a lot of peat pots of various shapes and sizes at an estate sale. I've made simple peat pot baskets before and have enjoyed incorporating them into vignettes. With my latest acquisition of peat pots, I decided to go with a Halloween theme.

As usual, I forgot to photograph the "in progress." But, I can assure you this project can be completed in 4 easy steps.

Choose the images you want to use and print them on card stock, sized to fit your peat pots. I found my images at The Graphics Fairy.

Paint your peat pot the color of your choice. A light coat of paint works best. Don't worry if the original pot surface peeks through. The charming result is a slightly distressed and rustic appearance. Peat pots are absorbent, so a heavy coat of paint can cause the pot to warp when it dries. 

Adhere your  image to the peat pot with craft glue or Mod Podge. Again, the absorbency of the pot comes into play. It will soak up some of the glue, so cover the back of the image completely with a thick coat. Let the application dry completely before beginning the decorating phase.

Now, embellish, embellish, embellish! I used vintage buttons, paper flowers, glitter, twine, paper doilies, rick rack and vintage lace. Some pots are finished off with rustic, wrapped wire handles and vintage lace from a 1940s wedding dress and filled with Spanish moss. Others are topped with glittery tulle inserts I made from extra wide tulle ribbon.

Make it a great day!
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