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Posts from the D.I.Y. Category

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i admit i have had a lack of affinity for the blog lately. sometimes i want to give it up, and then sometimes i become filled with inspiration and motivation.  perhaps the job i did last week in denver stripped a bit of inspiration from me, but has allowed me to regain some ideas of where i would like the blog to flow to. i am hoping to simplify my content finding more of a cohesive flow, though it seems i am constantly saying something like that.  i have always had a hard time with simplicity. by character and by the way i surround myself.  i am always longing for a more simple home, simple decoration (more storage could cure that), more simple ideas and motivations in life, simple relationships….as if this will solve life’s problems or perhaps just take the pressure off my lack of motivation to clean. less stuff, less mess?

even though everything is made in china, i can’t help but to love hobby lobby. a few weeks ago i was roaming the aisles looking for a way to make some stained glass, but instead i found these octagon mirrors. i love the clean and simple lines of geometry…how those lines come together perfectly and with ease. i always liked math in school, there was an answer at the end. i never understood that infinity part, it left me uneasy.

i turned the two mirrors with holes into a wall hanging using white deerskin, a few beads, and some feathers. you can find deerskin and feathers at your local craft store, though i used the supplies i use for the sun and glory line. i find these from native american trading posts and you can too online. for fun, i also made a design on a flat mirror (with no hole) using it as either a jewelry display on placing a plant on top!

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IMG_8974i have been taking my time these days and spending it on the property harvesting goodies and making special projects with them. sage, chokecherries, and yarrow have been my main foraging glory. i feel like i am in heaven when hunting for things in nature. it is so special to find mother earth’s gifts. i walked up and down the property looking for the smallest batches of yarrow. by the time i had figured out what it was, it started to disappear. hoping more will pop up soon.

yarrow is a very special flower with many medicinal purposes and history. here are a few website with great info: the withchipedia and ryandrum. more than likely you have it growing in your yard somewhere. at first sight i thought it was queen anne’s lace, which can be a common mistake.  do be careful if you are looking to harvest this yourself as there are a few very poisonous  look a likes. i did a lot of research to make sure i was harvesting the right plant. the biggest distinguisher comes from the leaves of the yarrow which look like mini ferns.

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yarrow is great for cuts, scrapes, menstrual cycles, fertility, repelling bugs, and colds/flu….just to name a few things. it can even be used in place of hops for beer. i made a few concoctions to have around the house.

yarrow tea : great for when the onset of a cold or flu starts. be cautious of how much tea you drink. i did find a few disclaimers around the web.

yarrow/thyme coconut oil : great for applying to wounds to help heal.  i used coconut oil instead of olive oil. coconut oil can solidify and therefore works great for applying to the skin.

yarrow / lavender bug spray: using vodka and adding lavender oil, both flowers help to repell bugs. when i was carrying around the basket of yarrow, i had no bug bites. when i put it down to harvest the chokecherries, i came back with 4 mosquito bites!
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sage: a few weeks ago, i was walking around  the property and discovered all these new things growing, one of which looked like white sage. turns out it is some form of it. then i was frolicking on the ranch up where it feels like a different world than by the river, a desert wonderland, and discovered more sagebrush. i am still trying to figure out exactly what kinds these are as there are so many forms of sage. the first kind i found, i also found growing in california when i was harvesting california white sage. perhaps you remember this post here?  though it is not the same as california white sage, it still smells great. the other type i believe to be a dwarf sagebrush. again, this is different even that the sage i have seen growing in new mexico or california. it still smells great though when burning. sage, traditionally is used for cleansing, though i admit i like it for the flavor it gives to the air.

i could hardly control my excitement to find all this. i have considered a trip back to ojai just to harvest more cali white sage. now, i’ve got something great to take away from colorado. i harvested a plethora and plan to go back for more. i sat outside one evening and wrapped these bundles of joy for gifts. i also give these to each sun and glory order that goes out.

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*** please note, i am not an expert when it comes to foraging or harvesting yarrow or sage. please do your own research when doing so or check with local officials.  this post is intended to inspire, not necessarily to teach. thank you!***

 

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during the planning process, natalie asked me to help with ideas for the dessert table. she was servings pies, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries. after some pinning on pinterest, we came up with an idea and started shopping for fixtures and cake stands. let’s just say hobby lobby is a gem and possible my new favorite store since moving to CO. we found glassware on sale, that large wood fixture for holding pies, and some wood crates that natalie stained. natalie made the little pie menu and bought the succulent letter on etsy. all the desserts, except the cake, came from a place in boulder. we had the florist bring extra flowers to make small bouquets in mason jars to decorate the table, while adding random pieces here and there! the bow was made by  her family friend. i assembled the cake at the venue about twenty minutes before the ceremony. i would have preferred a little more time for perfection, but nat liked the homemade look anyway!

i decided natalie and brad needed a wedding cake. even if just something small. i did a martha stewart white cake and classic buttercream frosting. i baked three cakes layering them with buttercream, leaving the sides open. using different size skewers, i attached a few of her wedding flowers and some succulents to the skewers so that they stood up in the cake! wallah, there was the cake. apparently, it was pretty tasty! and if you look closely you might see a little lady finger taking a swig off the frosting!!!

see photos below for how to. note: the flowers are different than used on the cake. IMG_4806 IMG_4707 PicMonkey Collagehc PicMonkey Collagegf PicMonkey Collagefgxj IMG_4840 PicMonkey Collagefgdj PicMonkey Collagegfh PicMonkey Collagehgdj

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though lilacs are not in bloom anymore, back when they were i made lilac ice cubes. did you know lilacs are one of the many edible flowers? this little idea can be done with any edible flower. it is such a pretty addition to a drink! simply clip your flowers and rinse them well. place in the ice cube tray and fill with water. the flowers will float to the top, so you can try rolling them in sugar to get them to sink! IMG_8873 PicMonkey Collage5yq PicMonkey Collage34qt

 

IMG_8985 2there are bunches of wild roses growing around the property. seems when one flower disappears, something else is popping up! i am sad i will be gone for the next two weeks and hope i won’t miss anything. it has also been very hot and dry here. seems the grass could light up at any minute with fire. mid-day i don’t want to do anything it is just so hot. once evening rolls around though, i start the projects up again. two of my besties are getting married the next month and i am helping them put together some ideas for decorations for a photo booth. i thought of this flower garland, but also liked it for my house too! i love the rustic simple beauty of dried flowers.

all you need is twine, scissors, flowers of your choice, and somewhere to hang it! cut the string long enough and place your flowers intermittently. wrap the twine around the flowers tying a knot at the end. hang to dry and decorate!IMG_8959 2

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things are getting super busy round these parts again. (Currently sitting in the atlanta airport, traveling for work.) two weddings coming up in july. one, i will travel to finger lakes in new york state and the other, right here in colorado. just a good old 25 minutes from my house. natalie has been a very special part of my life for a long time now. since, the days in highschool when we would get taquitos covered in cheese and sour cream at the cafeteria and convince each other there was no guilt to be had. we became as close as ever in college, and that friendship has stayed strong since. we even share the same birthday! nat is so supportive. she listens, gives advice, and laughs. her family is throwing a beautiful shower next weekend in indiana, and i can’t make it due to travels for work. i wanted to still do something special for her, to show her how much i love her, and decided to throw her a little bridal lunch-in here in colorado. wait, did i mention natalie is one of two friends i actually do have here. and thank god for that!!!!

i told nat to pick a place for lunch and we invited just a handful of people. the theme became about flowers. there were these beautiful poppies growing all over the property out here and i wanted to do something with them. natalie is always taking pictures of flowers and she LOVES beautiful things. her excitement for simplicity in beauty is intoxicating. slowly, i came up with more and more flower themed knick knacks to create little prizes for everyone. i got tiny terra cotta flower pots (painting them would be cute too!) and filled them with flower seed packets, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a homemade rosewater and thyme lollipop (recipe link below), a hand drawn rock and watercolor print, and of course, a small bouquet of flowers wrapped in brown paper and twine. simple, but sweet, and something everyone can appreciate.

since, we were having lunch at a restaurant, i didn’t want to play games, but i borrowed an idea from my friend stacy over at revisinglonliness. for her wedding she set up this big display with mason jars and people could write in suggestions for things like travel tips, ways to say i love you, rainy day, monday night. stacy’s were a little different, but the idea is the same and so unique. so, say on a rainy day they can pull out a piece of paper and take the suggestion into consideration. i love this idea!

for the lollipops, i followed a few different recipes. i did not have a mold, so i used this brilliant idea of using powdered sugar as a mold. if you don’t want to buy a mold, this is a great alternative! there are tons of recipes out there, here is a martha one! i just added rosewater and fresh thyme for my flavor.

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i am back…after quite the adventure. the grass is so green and everything in full bloom here at the colorado homestead. it is feeding my soul with so much joy and peace.  i am truly learning to enjoy the smallest of  things, the things that i have vs. the things i don’t have, especially when it comes to some of the most important people in my life. on my way back from LA i stopped in park city, utah to meet up with a bunch of girls for a bachelorette weekend. we were celebrating one of my best friend’s soon to be marriage. the one that i love to laugh with the most. i have known larissa since our youngster indiana days in our home town of crown point. our friendship flourished in college and then again in LA. larissa moved to back to chicago a few years ago. though i was sad to see her leave LA, i was inspired by her change, and in my own adventure her bravery has often crossed my mind and motivated me.  a few years after being back, she met a man. since then, i have watched her blossom and fall in love. that man asked her to marry her and this summer they will do the honor in upstate new york. ris is one of the most magnetic people i know. with a sense of humor like no other, beauty, love, and kindness. sometimes, when i think of the genuine love and support in our friendship it brings tears to my eyes.

i also know ris is always up for a photo shoot. one of the first i ever did was in her old apartment building in printer’s row, in chicago. just me and her being silly and creative. it’s my favorite way to do it. i brought some clothes and props along with me, and while i was doing errands in LA, i stopped and got an american flag. perfect for our mountain getaway in this glorious and vast land we call home. plus, i have been wanting one for my wall…nothing like killing two birds with one stone!

i love to watch people blossom in front of the camera, or even be a little shy. i love how it all unfolds on itself with the freedom for it to be anything we want, perfect or not, bad light or good light. this group of ladies was special and it was such a magical weekend. none of us wanted it to end. park city is beautiful as are these ladies. i can’t wait for the wedding in upstate new york!

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i am always wanting to more DIY’s, but for some reason, it isn’t the kind of post i go to first. i think i get intimidated by all the amazing diy’s you can find on pinterest. it is hard to come up with something original, and let’s face it, i hate to be anything but original.  i also like to come up with ideas that i can spend the least amount of money on, because once you get me into hobby lobby all hell breaks loose and my wallet generally pays the price.

this one i recently thought up with and i was proud. i am sure it has been done before, but i refuse to let myself google or search on pinterest. i am going to take this one home! the expensive part, would be the wood burning tool, if you don’t have one.  i have had one for a while now, and am always looking for some wood to burn. so, why not burn those beautiful old wood bowls and kitchen utensils? the amazing thing is, you can pick these up at the thrift store! the spoons and brush i have actually had for a while now, but the bowl was a thrift store gem! we all have wooden spoons in our drawers too!

the thing is once you get burning, it get’s kind of addicting. obviously, this is not a safe one for kids.

what you need:

wood burning kit and tools (i use the finest head)

wood bowls, utensils, or just some wood

a marking pencil, wax pencil, or pen

a good working surface

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mark on your wood the design you wood like to carve into the piece using a pencil or wax pencil. turn your tool on and let it heat up. carefully, follow your design template and use the tool like a pencil or pen. sometimes you need to push hard, sometimes you can gently place on the wood and let it slowly burn getting a lighter or deeper color.  wallah! that is it. pretty simple, my kind of DIY. PicMonkey Collagejvj PicMonkey Collagegvgj IMG_7712 2

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IMG_6689i have been growing herbs for a few years now, and though i am no expert, i find these tips to be helpful.  living in southern california, i could grow herbs year round and it was luxurious! here in colorado, i have been growing them inside for a few months, but have had a few mishaps with bugs, or simply leaving them by a very cold window for too long.  i recently bought a new batch and am back in business with the little gems. they are currently sitting in the front window and so far so good! when i first moved here, i cringed at buying a $4 box of herbs when it is so easy to grow them yourself. there really is no excuse not too!

there are many books or even tutorials online about your herbs. these are just a few simple helpful hints for flavorful herbs.

1. learn where your species are from in order to mimic their preferred environment. lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage are Mediterranean herbs and like lots of sun, sandy soil that drains well, keeping fertilizers to the minimum.  all this will help keep the flavor in the leaves. herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena prefer lots of water and rich soil, maybe some compost. an easy way to distinguish is by the leaves. the softer the leaf, the more water it will want! perhaps, you plant your mediterranean herbs together and your more delicate herbs together so your watering doesn’t get mixed up!

2. harvesting: new leaves tend to have the most flavor vs. the leaves at the bottom. some say harvesting in the morning is also the best time!  when herbs like basil and dill have flowered, that means they have matured…no more leaves. for basil, cut down just above the last branch and new leaves should begin to sprout again!
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rosemary: year round if you live in a frost free area. dry soil, full sun. companions: beans, broccoli, carrots, hot peppers. keep dry.

sage: grows in brisk dry summer, dry soil, full sun. companions: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, rosemary, broccoli, don’t over water-likes it dry!

cilantro: grows in spring/summer.cool nights, sunny days.rich soil. companions: anise. adequate water.

chive: spring summer. well drained average soil, 4-6 hours of sun. companions: parsley, broccoli, eggplant, mustard, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes. water: once a week. these babies will keep coming back!
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thyme: brisk days of summer. well drained, sunny airy spot. companions: everybody! keep fairly dry, don’t overwater.

dill: grow in summer. plant early spring. average light. companions: cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, beets. lots of water. IMG_6692

basil: grow in summer. plant when soil is warm. full sun. companions: tomatoes and asparagus. adequate moisture.

mint: grow mostly in summer. plant anytime. open airy spot with room to grow. companions: cabbage, tomato, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. needs lots of moisture.IMG_6690

tarragon: winter in some zones. well drained soil and sun in the mornings. if too hot, place in shade in afternoon. companions: anything. pests don’t like tarragon. keep well watered.

oregano: spring/summer. full sun and well drained soil. companions: cabbage, cucumbers, grapes.  moderate watering, but more while young.

now, these tips are simple and again, i am not an expert. i just thought this would be fun post to do to inspire those who may be timid to start a garden. there are so many different great websites out there for growing herbs. not only are they great for cooking, but have been used for centuries in many medicinal purposes. one day, we might just discuss that! we didn’t go over a few great ones either like anise, lavender, chamomile, but you can easily find this info online. check your thrift stores too for garden books! it is one of my favorite places to look!

i can’t wait to get started on my garden outside. i was hoping to dig into it before i left for three weeks, but that might not happen.  another tip, is to check about local growing. different areas will have different species of bugs, critters, or animals that will pester your herbs or garden. for example, the squirrels were a pain in the ass last spring in LA. apparently, growing tomatoes here in colorado is best done next to chervil (i believe, i gotta check that one again!) i also can’t plant any fruits or the bears will eat em up! another fun tip about tomatoes, if your leaves are turning a bit blue green, producing lots of leaves and no fruit…clip back your leaves as the plant is being too taken care of. the fruit grows in order to procreate. it is where the seeds are they will germinate the next batch. i found that to be so exciting! sometimes, you want to make the plant thrive in order to get it to produce. but more to come on the garden beds and veggies! i can’t wait!

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PicMonkey Collageergq IMG_6637 IMG_6610i have discovered the fun of flower arranging. there are some very talented modern florists out there these days and i constantly find them inspiring. like the ladies of frolic and  emmersonmerrick. (both of whom do classes if you live in portland or NYC)  i am always falling in love with their work and it makes me want to fill my life with flowers (something i need to do more often).  i was inspired to a try a little of my own with simple generic flowers you can find anywhere. certainly, those grocery store bouquets could do for a little sprucing up. sometimes you get that bouquet of flowers wrapped in plastic and although the flowers are pretty, just putting them in a vase seems a little blah. here are a few very simple creative ideas anyone can do.

1.cut the flowers down to a small stem and place in a small vase or jar. makes a simple small arrangement. nothing fancy, but cute!

2. i think greenery goes a long way. you can find bundles of this at your grocery store or florist. baby’s breath is another favorite of mine! just a vase of that i think is pretty. or go out into your yard and look for branches with green leaves, twigs, bushes. i use to do this in california in the spring. lemon tree leaves are great. pine branches. a simple twig too. don’t underestimate the power of what is in your yard. you could just do a bouquet from that too!

3. is your jar too short? or you want to make the flowers bunch together. some fishing line tied right underneath the flower head will do the trick!

4. one of my favorites is grabbing a bunch of jars, placed down the center of the table or maybe a window sill and each jar/vase gets one or two flowers.