Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Garden Slugs

I have a very shady yard and lots of hostas.  They're wonderful low-maintenence plants that come in a ton of varieties and do well in dry shade which is one of the hardest places to get things to grow.  

The only problem I've had with them are slugs.  Slugs have been a problem for me in the past since it seems like they can't resist the tasty hosta leaves.  It was such a disappointment to come out and find giant holes in the large leaves of my Sum and Substance plants in particular.  The leaves do not grow back until the following year so once they're chewed up, you're stuck with the sorry state of the plant for the season.  

I have seen a few recommendations for slug solutions - beer and just today cornmeal.  The slugs are attracted to these things and either drown or die from ingesting them.  It sounds like they work as intended, but I would rather not have containers of beer in my garden and I'd prefer not to have to handle a container full of dead slugs.  Yuck!

So, what do I do?  Easy.  Eggshells.

This is actually the perfect time of year to collect them since many of us do the Easter egg dying thing and have lots of egg shells.  We were out of town Easter weekend so we missed out on egg dying, but we eat plenty of eggs.  Also, the hostas are just starting to spring forth with their spikes from the ground and haven't come in fully, so the timing is perfect.  

I just take the egg shells and grind them up as much as I can and sprinkle them around the base of the plants. 

Once the leaves grow in, the shells aren't even visible.  How does it work?  The slugs have soft bodies and don't want to crawl over the sharp eggshells.  I believe diatomacious earth also works the same way, but eggshells are free.  

The eggshells are also good for the soil.  They do disappear so it has to be repeated each year but it's pretty easy to remember with the Easter egg reminder.  This has become my post-Easter springtime routine and with the addition of eggshells, the hostas above should look like this again - no holes!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Breaking

I've been hoping to blog more, but these days all my free time has involved preparing for the Bug and Bud Festival next month where I'll have a tent.  I'm not sure how many home projects I'll get done before that, but one thing I have my eye on is getting my kitchen table, which has endured some pretty good abuse from the kids, refinished.  This is how it looked when it had seen better days.

For a while, I thought about painting it or maybe doing a different color, but I thought that refinishing the same way I did my dining room table would tie things together between the two rooms and the kitchen island.  So, that's what's priority on the list.  

It's Friday and gloomy around here but we're getting ready to head to Philadelphia this weekend.  Despite growing up in New York and being up and down the east coast, somehow, I've never been there so I'm looking forward to seeing the Liberty Bell.  Like a lot of the trips I take, I'm also doing a race on Sunday.  Next week, we head to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, one of our favorite places.

Now, time to pack!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

New York, New York

I was just cleaning and my thoughts drifted to 16 years ago when I was fresh out of college and excitedly headed to new city, a new career, and a new home in Washington D.C.  I had grown up on Long Island but I was looking for change, something new.  I loved my new life and never expected to return to where I grew up.  I went to graduate school, found a wonderful husband, and had 2 daughters all while at that great job I still have today.  I made a life for myself and I was happy.  

Last year, I turned 40 and decided to do something big - run a marathon in Paris.  In April, I made my second trip there and it was the experience of a lifetime.  My brother bought me a small Eiffel Tower on his visit there years ago, but it now holds a special significance to me. 

Two weeks before flying to Paris, I learned that I had gained entry to my dream race - the NYC Marathon.  There was a 12% chance and I got very lucky.  I could not believe it.  I remember all the years living in New York when I would watch people out there in the freezing cold and wonder what the heck they were thinking and the years that I would go to visit my parents and have to race out of New York across the Verrazano bridge before they closed it early in the morning for the start of the race.  Never in my life did I think I would become a runner and be one of those people on the bridge, but there I was last November.  It was surreal.

The race conditions were not perfect that day but I was determined to enjoy every second and I crossed the finish line filled with absolute joy.  Such an amazing experience.  

Since then, I've been homesick and I wish I could go back.  I think of the typical things New Yorkers miss like the bagels, pizza and buttered rolls that are so easy to find.   I miss the excitement of the city and it's gritty imperfection.  I also miss the people - their accents and attitudes.  I miss how I could wake up and be at the beach in fifteen minutes reading a book.  I miss the familiarity of it all.

I brought my daughters for the first time last month and it was then that I got the Empire State Building to go with my Eiffel Tower.  I have likely retired from marathons, but I have continued to run and in two weeks I will return to New York for the NYC Half-marathon.  I cannot wait!  I also really hope to make more visits this year.  

Paris was wonderful, but New York ... it will always be home.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Chair

I'm not sure I ever shared this here, but there's a story behind this chair.  I found it at one of my favorite thrift stores in Delaware when I was visiting my parents.  It was pretty much as disgusting as it appears, fabric worn and trim falling off, filthy and the bottom was matted with cat hair.  But, much to my husband, Tom's, dismay, I fell in love with it and brought it home with the dream of someday having it re-upholstered.  

After getting it home, I could see that it was actually stuffed with horse hair instead of the usual batting and foam.  I looked into having it reupholstered with the original horse hair and found that it could be done, but it was a very involved process and not something that would ever be in my budget.  The chair lingered around the house being part of celebrations and birthdays covered with a throw as a "throne" to the guest of honor.

I think Tom got tired of the ugly chair so for my birthday, he quietly found an upholsterer, dragged the chair out for an estimate and surprised me!  The upholsterer's best guess was that the chair is from the 1930s.  This is the last picture of it in the shop the day we went to choose fabric.  A couple of months later ...

This is what I ended up with!  I chose a very plain white fabric that neither Tom nor the upholsterer were sure of, but after seeing the finished product, they both saw what I had imagined.  I love it more than ever!  I think it goes perfectly with photos I took in Paris and converted to sepia on Shutterfly.

I changed the red accents I had around the house in February for Valentine's Day in favor of some green in anticipation of spring.  I love the snow, but I'm ready for some changes.  

I'm going to continue with more green around the house this week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

True Rose

It's a gloomy day here and I'm buried in work, but I thought lighting a candle might make things a little more cozy and a little less dreary.  I got this candle on Black Friday when I was visiting my parents who happen to near outlets including a Yankee Candle outlet.  I was surprised by how much True Love really smells like roses and I had to have it.  

It has 2 wicks and when I lit it, I wondered if there was something wrong with it because the wicks burn strangely.  They sort of unravel and clump up in a way I found undesirable.  I looked up the candle because I wondered if I could buy another one or if it was a discontinued item since it was from an outlet store.  It turns out that the don't seem to sell this particular candle with the double wick, but they have others with the same scent - a larger double wick candle, and a few single wick candles.  I also discovered that the unraveling wick is intentional and makes the flame brighter.  I had no idea.  I think next time I'd opt for a regular wick since I am interested in the scent in the room and not so much the flame.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tea for Two

Hello, blog. It's been a while. I didn't expect to ever post again between work, being mom to now 8 and nearly-7 year-olds, volunteering, belly dance and marathons (I did 4 of those last year).  I've since given up dance due to back issues and am retired from marathoning (4 was plenty) so I found some time to take a friend out for tea for her much-belated birthday.  Like me, Nisha is also a fan of all things vintage.  I have really missed the old tea room I would visit with my mom which closed a couple of years back and thought this one might be similar.

It was a good long drive out to Winchester, VA to The Coach and Horses tea room, but it was worth it.  Nisha and I hadn't chatted in a while so it gave us a chance to catch up on the 80 minute drive.

This was the first indication we were in for something wonderful was this. c.1790!  

They were still all decorated for the holidays and it was so warm and cozy as we entered.  Every room had stenciled walls.

There were also wide plank floors throughout.  The room where we were seated had this piano ...

... and this fireplace.  Our table was the one just to the left.

The place settings were beautiful.  I was so excited!

Each of us had our own teapot waiting for whichever tea we selected.

Water glasses - absolutely beautiful.

I selected a chocolate tea and it was as delicious as it sounds.  Later, I got a pomegranite pear tea and that was obviously more fruity, but also wonderful.

I wanted to go all out, so I selected the George Washington tea which was pretty much all the tea courses.  The first course was either soup or salad.  I chose the soup which was a vegetable soup.  I was surprised that it was a cream based soup.  It was ok, but I have to admit that I wish I had gone with the salad (Nisha's choice) that had a pomegranite dressing.

Normally, we would have been served a tower with our food and desserts, but Nisha required a gluten-free meal (which they have available!) so we were served on platters instead.  No complaints here.  It looked amazing.  I didn't know where to start!  I got lots of delicious fruit - pineapple, oranges, blackberries and a strawberry.  An apple scone with devon cream and preserves. Also included were cucumber sandwich (my favorite), chicken salad, sausage pastry puff.  Dessert was a chocolate chip cookie, brownie, cheesecake, vanilla mousse and a small cupcake.  I came hungry and tried my best to eat it all but the cheesecake and cupcake came home with me.  It was just fantastic!

We took our time with dessert and our second pots of tea and chatted before considering the drive home.  We walked around and decided to explore a little so we headed upstairs.  These were quite steep!  Sign of the times with this house, I would imagine.

Upstairs were more rooms equally beautifully decorated.

This tapestry was in a corner.  

Passing through one room, this seems to be where they keep a lot of tea.  They are preparing to start selling it.

This bench was gorgeous.

We headed back down the stairs and out to the car.  Did I mention how steep the stairs was??

The sun was setting as we drove back and chatted more.  A really great day with a good friend.  I hope to visit again soon.

Whether or not I will blog more remains to be seen.  Realistically, I can't post the way I once did, but my hope is that another year doesn't pass before I blog again.  For now, it's date night - dessert and Downton Abbey with my husband.

Hope to be back soon ...

P.S. I did end up finishing that wall in my previous post and it's gotten quite a lot of use.  Maybe a topic for another post?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Entry Progress

My hydrangeas are officially blooming happily so I picked these and brought them in to brighten up our entryway.  I believe this one is called Blushing Bride.  It starts out white like the bloom in the lower center then develops a slight pink tint.

We've made a lot of progress on the entry. My husband did an incredible job putting up the wainscotting.  This is actually paneling and not the full boards.  Paneling was just easier for us to transport in our smaller cars and to work with.

It's amazing what a big difference this makes here.  I'm glad I did the entire wall.  We're still playing with the hooks and there are going to be changes to our original plan.  We also still have moulding and painting to do but I love the way it looks already.

To refresh your memory, this is what we started with. 
(This is an older picture.  It was actually painted grey like the rest of our living room since this picture was taken.)

Hope to be closer to finishing by the end of this week. 

Happy Tuesday!

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