The Vegetable Garden Chronicles Part 2: Taming the Critters

It’s official: We have a rabbit problem.

This month, we planted our vegetable garden. After only one night, our neighborhood rabbits moved in and two of our zucchini plants looked like this:

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After our discovery, we developed a quick plan of action to protect the remaining plants. After researching online, we found that the best method to tame a rabbit problem is to put up a fence. Although we are not fond of the green garden fence, it was one of the most inexpensive solutions for our garden.

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For around $50, we bought two rolls of 2ft tall green garden fence and 15 3ft stakes. Just a note: if you have a deer problem, buy a bigger fence and stakes. Deer can easily scale a fence less 8ft. For cottontail rabbits, you need to install at least a 2ft fence.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-13After installing the fence, we discovered that we also have a squirrel problem. We noticed a few more nibbles after the fence installation.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-17Time for Plan B. We read that sprinkling chili flakes in or around the perimeter of the garden will help keep critters out because they do not like the spicy flavor. It is important to sprinkle the chili flakes at least once a week because rain and time will cause the flakes to lose their effectiveness.

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So far, the chili flakes are working and we are keeping a close eye on our plants for any more nibbles. We will keep you updated!

 

 

The Vegetable Garden Chronicles Part 1: Plants!

It is summer growing season! The threat of frost is gone and the weather warmed up in time for us to plant our vegetable garden this month. Last year, we planted our garden in May and faced a few days of frost and then we replanted some of our vegetables because our seedlings didn’t make it.

We learned a lot from our first vegetable garden and we are putting that knowledge into our garden this year.

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Before planting, we prepped the garden by adding two bags of Miracle Gro garden soil to the existing peat moss. Next, we sprinkled vegetable plant food all over the garden and mixed it in to the soil. Finally, we watered the entire garden and let it set up overnight.

Here is the layout of our garden. We planned the layout to make sure we could strategically fit all the plants. It is a little rough, but you get the idea. 🙂

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Before we started planting, we laid out glass beads to mark the location of each plant.

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We chose a variety of seeds and mature plants. We planted zucchini, watermelon, spinach, sweet corn, romaine lettuce, several varieties of tomatoes, yellow peppers, red peppers and green beans.

The watermelon, yellow peppers, zucchini, yellow tomatoes and grape tomatoes are mature plants.

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Our globe tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, green beans and red peppers, we purchased as Miracle Gro Groables seed pods. Miracle Gro advertises that their seed pods are guaranteed to grow. A few of our seed pods are already sprouting.

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Our beans appeared about two days after we planted.

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We also planted sweet corn as seeds.

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Once the seeds are more mature, I have two bags of mulch to spread through the garden to protect the plants from bugs and weeds. Look for more updates on our garden in upcoming posts!

Neutral Couch Meet Bright and Colorful Pillows

What is the quickest way to give your couch a makeover? Just add pillows! Our couch is a great example of how you can take a neutral couch and give it a quick makeover. FBFS_pillows-10

We have a large dark gray couch and on its own, our couch isn’t very exciting. With the addition of a few accent pillows, the couch is transformed into a fun space to relax.

So why not buy a bright couch, you ask? If you prefer, and your existing color scheme allows, chose a red, green, blue, white, yellow or orange couch and add neutral, patterned pillows for a great contrast. But if you already have a neutral couch, just add color and contrast!

To liven up our couch, we added pillows with color, pattern and texture. You can add a few pillows or several pillows. Incorporate pillows in different sizes, colors and shapes to create dimension and contrast to your couch. Be creative! Mix patterns, sizes and shapes in complimentary colors or go bold and bright with your pillows and patterns. Use your imagination. You do not have to play it safe! Your home is a reflection of your creativity and personal taste. Have fun while you decorate!

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Where did we find our accent pillows, you ask? The solid green and blue pillows are from Crate & Barrel and the faux fur pillows are from Target. My favorite pillows, which are the large patterned pillows, are handmade by my mom. I found the fabric at a local quilting shop and my mom offered to make the pillow covers so she could learn how to sew zippers. Because BJ and I have two cats and family members who are allergic to cats, we need to be able to take the pillow covers to wash before guests arrive. Zippers are essential!

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My mom did most of the sewing at her house when I wasn’t able to capture pictures, but here is a tutorial for those interested in adding a zipper to their own pillow covers. To make the pillow covers, my mom cut the fabric into one large rectangle shape and then she folded the rectangle in half with the inside facing out and pinned each side. She measured the fabric to be a bit bigger than the pillow inserts but each fabric rectangle folded to make a final pillow size of 26″ X 26″.

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Next, my mom sewed each side of the pillow. Last, she sewed in the zipper on the bottom before turning the pillow cover right-side out. My mom did a great job of sewing each pillow. The finished covers look amazing!

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Here is a look at the zipper on the bottom. FBFS_pillows-12

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BJ and I spend many evenings hanging out and watching movies/TV on our big comfy couch. Our cats are also fond of our couch and pillows. Zoey hugs the couch regularly (see below for proof) and Bentley often naps on the chaise lounge. FBFS_pillows-14

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OMG shoe storage.

We’ve all seen it. The front door shoe pile. You come home from work or play and immediately take off your shoes, right? Everyday you add another pair of shoes to the mix, or maybe family or friends stop by and before you know it, your entryway looks like this:

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In our home, we have two locations to collect shoes. The front door is where many of our friends and family leave their shoes and the back door is where we store our shoes. To tame our shoe pile problems, we brought in two different storage solutions.

The Ikea bench near our back door is our traditional shoe storage solution. These benches are common in mud rooms and entryways. Just search Pinterest for “shoe bench” and you will find many ideas for your own shoe bench solution. The best part about a shoe bench is that you can sit down to take off or put on your shoes as well as store shoes, all in one place.

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If you are interested in a more creative idea for shoe storage, why not try a bookshelf that shows off your shoes as well as your friends’ shoes? In our foyer, we took a more creative and decorative approach to storing shoes. We wanted a way to display shoes that is fun and looks like it belongs in the foyer. Enter our Ikea Lack bookshelf:

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And when we do not have shoes filling every shelf, our bookshelf serves as a fun way to display my favorite heels. A beautiful pair of shoes = art.

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Do you have a fun or creative way to store your shoes? Tell us about it!

Have a great week!



April Showers Brought Plenty of May Flowers

Happy Thursday! The unofficial start of summer is this weekend, but before we kick off the celebrations, I want to take a minute to update you on how our tulips did this spring.

Our tulips started blooming the week before Easter and continued all the way through mid-May. It was exciting to see the variety of tulips as they bloomed. Each week we added a new color to the mix.

I normally share photos taken with my DSLR, but I had so much fun taking photos with my iPhone this spring, that I thought I would share those with you as well.

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We also had another successful year for our hyacinths. They been coming up every spring since I planted them over three years ago. This fall, I will dig up the bulbs and split them so we can have more hyacinths next year.

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Now that the tulips are gone, it is time to trim the plants and get them ready for next spring. Look for more garden posts to come!

The Most Magical Flower and Garden Show on Earth

Last week, BJ and I snuck away for a fun vacation together. Since I was a little girl, it has been my dream to visit Walt Disney World. I signed up to go on a trip in high school, but unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to circumstances outside of the students’ control. Since then, I told myself that I would take a trip to Disney before having children. This Christmas, BJ bought us two tickets and wrapped them inside another smaller gift and gave them to me. It was the best Christmas gift I’ve received so far. I might’ve cried… okay, I did. I cried. While we were at Disney, Epcot was celebrating the International Flower and Garden Festival presented by HGTV. The show ended over the weekend, so if you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, here is a little peek at all the beauty that surrounded Epcot. I highly recommend visiting Epcot during the show in the upcoming years. It is neat to see all the Disney characters in flower form. EpcotFGF_1 Gardens were all over the park and the flowers were in full bloom. These dahlias caught my eye as we exited one of the rides. EpcotFGF_9 In some areas, the gardens were decorated to look like specific scenes. Many of the scenes use bright pink and red petunias. EpcotFGF_26 There were also floating flower pots on many of the ponds and lakes around the park. Each pots included different varieties of petunias. EpcotFGF_11 EpcotFGF_29 Throughout Epcot, there were themed gardens sponsored by companies such as Rain Bird. My favorite themed garden was a screened-in butterfly garden that allowed you to view hundreds of butterflies. EpcotFGF_25 EpcotFGF_24 And then there were the character topiaries. The topiaries were definitely my favorite part of the entire show. The detail was incredible. My nephew would love to see the Lighting McQueen and Tow Mater topiaries. Cars is one of his favorite movies. EpcotFGF_28 EpcotFGF_27 Here is Tinkerbell, she was located outside of the butterfly garden. She was difficult to spot, so you had to look closely to see her. EpcotFGF_23 Outside of the Epcot World Showcase, Sorcerer Mickey and his was putting his magic powers to work on the broomsticks.EpcotFGF_22 In the World Showcase, many of the characters were located in the countries they represent. For example, Woody was in the United States section of the World Showcase. EpcotFGF_14 EpcotFGF_16 Belle, Beast and friends were in France. EpcotFGF_13 EpcotFGF_12 And Captain Hook and Peter Pan were in England. EpcotFGF_6 EpcotFGF_31 Here are a few more of my favorite topiaries from the World Showcase. EpcotFGF_17 EpcotFGF_18 Even Snow White’s red lipstick and bow were stunning.  EpcotFGF_20 EpcotFGF_19 EpcotFGF_8 EpcotFGF_21 There were so many more character topiaries and other displays scattered throughout the park. There were also seasonal food stands located throughout the World Showcase. We didn’t get a chance to try any of the seasonal kitchen stands, but the foods looked and smelled delicious. The gardens all over Walt Disney World inspired me to come home and get to work on our gardens. It’s time to plant our veggie garden so I’ll have a few upcoming posts on our progress. In the meantime, look for a wrap up on our spring gardens coming later this week. We had an amazing experience at Disney World. Since it was my first visit, I learned a lot about how to navigate the parks and things to keep in mind for our next visit. I’ll share some of the things I learned in an upcoming post.

Recipe: Energizing Carrot, Ginger, Apple and Orange Juice

Need a Hump Day pick-me-up? I’ve got just the juice recipe for you! It is an energizing carrot, ginger, apple and orange juice that is great for getting you through the 2-3 p.m. slump. Drink this juice in place of your sugary afternoon snack and you will be surprised by the results! You will have more energy to finish out your day and enjoy your evening.

No juicer at work? No problem! If you have a juicer at home, you can make this juice in the morning and take it to work in a Blender Bottle. Keep your juice cold in an insulated lunch box or refrigerator until you are ready for your afternoon snack. Separation is natural so give your juice a little shake before drinking.

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If you’re new to juicing, this is a great starter juice. Once you are a pro, start adding more vegetables to your juice recipes to cut your sugar intake. Choose organic fruits and vegetables when juicing because they do not contain the pesticides and toxins that may be found in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of this delicious juice:

Carrots:
Carrots are a healing food and are rich in pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6. They also contain biotin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, phytonutrients, organic sodium and some trace minerals.

Apples:
Apples contain vitamin C, B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6), dietary fiber, and phytonutrients. Apples are a great source of antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of certain diseases. 

Oranges:
Oranges are known for containing vitamin C but they also contain choline, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids. 

Ginger:
Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and also has immune boosting properties. It can even help aid in the relief of motion sickness. Before you use the ginger for this juice, peel it to remove the skin on the outside.

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If you are curious about the type of juicer we use, or would like to find a nice introductory juicer, we have a Waring Pro JEX328. This juicer is inexpensive and really gets the job done! There are many different types of juicers at all price levels. Our Waring Pro juicer is a centrifugal juicer, but there are also masticating juicers, and twin-gear juicers. I recommend doing your research before you buy.

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Enjoy!

The Space Between

In our home, the kitchen and living are open to each other. You can stand in the kitchen and see into the living room and vice-versa. The open space great for entertaining, especially for get-togethers focused around sporting events. You can stand in the kitchen enjoying a few delicious treats and still see into the living room to watch the game. It’s a win-win!

A few years ago, we painted the wall that connects the kitchen and living room. But there was a blank space still left between the two rooms. Here is a photo taken right after we painted the wall in between the two rooms. (Check out that crazy couch. 🙂 )

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Earlier this year, we added a functional organizing area between the kitchen and living room to connect the two spaces.

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BJ and I looked at several options for this space before finally deciding on this Ikea Hemnes sofa table. Here are a few of the tables and benches we considered.

 

 

 

Threshold™ X Console Table Threshold™ Fretwork Console Table

Threshold™ Storage Bench with Slatted Doors Unfortunately, with these tables and benches we encountered two deal breakers. First, the tables and benches weren’t wide enough for the space and second, they didn’t offer enough storage. Our goal for this space is to connect the two rooms and still be functional.

We chose the Ikea sofa table because it met our criteria for the space and it also looks great with our Ikea Hemnes coffee table, and our kitchen island. The white really stands out against the blue wall and dark cherry kitchen floor.

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To make our sofa table more functional, I added these large chalkboard crates from Target. We’ve divided the crates into my mail, BJ’s mail, coupons and take out menus. These are items that we traditionally store in the kitchen, or that we inevitably pile up on the kitchen island making it unusable. With the large milk crates, we can store all of our mail, menus and coupons so they are easy to find and tucked out of the way of our daily kitchen use. If you are looking for a DIY alternative to these crates, you could find old milks crates and paint them with chalkboard paint. We decided to go with the option at Target because they were exactly what we were looking for.

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On the top shelves, I added some of our colorful coffee table books, and added a tray on each end for BJ and I to store little odds and ends.

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Our mail bins even have their own bouncer. Don’t mess with Zoey.

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Now this is a fully functional and fun space for us to enjoy. What area of your house to could benefit most from a functional space like this one?

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Update: Spring has sprung!

(On Sunday I discovered that the tulips that I thought were Rembrandt tulips are actually more varieties of lily tulips and our Rembrandt tulips started blooming! See below for updated pictures.)

And we’re back. It’s been a busy few months and although it was not really planned, I took a break from writing to catch up/focus on myself and our home. Since I last posted, BJ and I started a new workout routine, we started eating a healthier, more organic diet, and we also completed a few projects around the house.

To kick off our new series of posts, I first want to start by mentioning that we will be adding some new material to Frame By Frame Style. With our new organic eating, I also purchased a juicer and I will share a few of our recipes for delicious juices and other treats we are making. I also plan to share tips and tricks and resources for eating organic. I’m not an expert by any means, so as I learn new tips, I will share them with you. You can also check out my Pinterest board A Cleaner, Greener and Leaner Living for pins on healthy eating and living.

Before we dive into the healthy eating and living posts, I have an update on our flower bulb planting last year. In the fall, BJ and I planted around 150 tulip and crocus bulbs in our front yard garden beds. Now, six months later, the flowers are blooming!

First, at the beginning of April the crocuses (or croci) came up and bloomed. We planted purple, white and yellow crocuses and saw all three colors bloom.

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photo 2-2The crocuses are gone and now our tulips are coming up in stages. A few are still buds, but we have plenty that are already blooming in time for Easter on Sunday.
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The first to bloom were the lily tulips. In the evening, they close like regular tulips but during the day when they are in full bloom they open to look more like a lily. Our lily tulips are blooming in a bright pink, bright orange and a white/pink variety.

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We also planted Rembrandt tulips. The Rembrandt tulips are very bright and have pointed tips.

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I took many pictures of our tulips and this is my favorite of the tulip pictures I captured. This is a peacock tulip. They grow a little taller than the other tulips and have a softer look. 
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Here is another look at our peacock tulips. Our tulips are still blooming so look for more pictures to come. IMG_0795

I’m really thankful that we are seeing our fall planting come to fruition. It was a harsh winter for most of the United States and the Midwest experienced cold temperatures that were below -15F (-30F wind chill). I wasn’t sure if any of our flowers would make it through the tough winter but they did and I’m so glad! They will be really beautiful for Easter this year.

How did your gardens fair through the winter?

Along with the success of our planting, we are also experiencing a bit of a rabbit problem. In our side garden, the rabbits have enjoyed our tulips a little more than I would like.

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Eventually, we would like to elevate our front gardens so I’m hoping that will end our bunny problem in the future. In the meantime, I just have to cross my fingers and hope they find some wild flowers to eat that are not in our yard… or maybe they will eat our dandelions instead. One can hope.

More posts coming soon! Stay tuned. 🙂

Baby it’s cold outside

And…. we’re back! It’s been a busy holiday season for BJ and I, but despite being busy, we had some time to continue working on our home projects. I just ran out of time to keep you updated! I’ve added “write more blog posts” to my list of new year’s resolutions this year.

Now that the holidays are winding down and we’re looking to the new year, we will once again change our home decor. The in-between seasons are always a fun time to decorate. They are sometimes a little challenging, but allow for a decent amount of creativity. Here is how we decorated after Christmas last year.

I like to use decor that will translate from one season to the next. Before Christmas, I picked out two new vases, corks and cranberries to dress up our kitchen island. I chose the cranberries for their rich warm color, perfect for fall to winter decorating. The corks are a nice earthy color, another warm color that can be for fall or winter.

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When choosing a candle in our decor, I almost always go with an led candle, unless I have no plans to light the candles. The candles in the picture below are led and have a timer on them. Every night they come on at the same time and go off at the same time.

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In our winter decor this year, I want to add some more greenery. I like this idea I found on Pinterest to roll candles in faux snow. I also like the birds because we have a few wooden birds that look like these. The pine in the vase might be a little harder to pull off because we do not have any pine in our yard and pine is hard to find after Christmas. The stores sell off all of their Christmas decor and move on to spring decor too quickly.

DIY: Add faux snow to candles for a new look.

Here’s an idea for a way to use branches from a real Christmas tree. Before you throw the tree out, cut off a few branches and display them in a nice bucket with a few lights, pine cones and berry sprays. DIY winter decor || Lover.lyTo decorate our kitchen chalkboard, I like this idea for a “baby it’s cold out here” sign. We still have several months left of winter and it will be cold outside. So, why not have this sign in your house after holidays?

Love this sign for winter decorating

For more ideas, search “winter decor” on Pinterest. There are so many fun things you can do with winter decor. Be creative! You don’t have to put away all of your favorite decor items from Christmas. Keep a few winter items out and use them to celebrate the season a little longer in the new year!

Enjoy!