Tuesday, April 29, 2008

May Tablescape - Happy Mother's Day

May is almost here so you know what that means, another tablescape! (And I'm even early at that!) Since the biggest holiday is Mother's Day, it won't surprise most that "Happy Mother's Day" is the theme for May's tablescape!

Since Mother's Day is all about Moms, I decided to make this May tablescape very florally and feminine. I found this great liz claiborne home tablecloth at TJ Maxx Homegoods. Although they don't always have the greatest selection, they always have such great deals on linens and I thought that this baby blue and rose pink cloth would provide the perfect backdrop to this tablescape.

I also found the above dress form and originally thought it would make a great Mother's Day gift for my own Mom. But, then I got a great idea - it would also make a great focal piece for my Mother's Day Centerpiece.

I added sparkly pink tulle to the inside of the dress form to make it pop a bit more as the focal point of the centerpiece. Faux flowers were also added around the neckline and belt line.

Above is a view of my Mom's place setting.

Yet a closer view of the same place setting. While browsing TJ Maxx Home Goods I also found the above pink and white striped napkins. They match perfectly and add the perfect feminine look to the tablescape. For place cards, I printed names on striped card stock and placed these place cards into cute little shabby chic frames. These place card frames can also serve as a perfect take-home favor. I also added my own personal collection of strands of pearls and bracelets to dress up this place setting a bit.
Another place setting - this one for my sister. Who is also a Mom - of three kids.

I printed her name on green and white card stock and inserted it into the place card frames.

Above is a view of one of my favorite sets of dishes. They are creamish with pink scrolls. Very feminine and very shabby chic-ish so when I remembered I had them, I was super happy to be able to use them in this tablescape!

To add ambiance to this tablescape, I integrated lit candles to this talbescape. Faux florals and pearls (my pearl bracelets fit perfectly around these pillar candle) were added to jazz up my plain pillar candles. These candles were also placed a top my favorite set of shabby chic pillar candle holders.
I also thought these hand crocheted gloves added a bit of femininity to the centerpiece.

To see many more photos of this piece, please visit the slide show I've created here.

Tablescape Ingredients:

Shabby Chic Frames: Larger frame was purchased at TJ Maxx. Smaller place card frames were purchased at Michaels.
Floral Tablecloth: liz claiborne home - TJ Maxx Home Goods
Pink & White Striped Napkins: TJ Maxx Home Goods
Metal Dress Form: TJ Maxx Home Goods
Shabby Chic Candle Holders: Hobby Lobby
Lace Tablecloth: available at most antique stores
Faux Flowers: The Flower Factory
Hand Crocheted Gloves: Antique stores
Pearl Jewelry: Antique stores, various department stores, Claires
Pink and White Scroll Dishware: Target - several seasons ago

Monday, April 21, 2008

Strawberry Delights

Hi girls. Just look at what I've found! Don't the above and below items put you in a summer mood? (Yeah, I know it's not quite summer, but I'm planning ahead!) Above is a very pretty strawberry colander. What a great idea! Just place your strawberries in this colander, rinse them, and set the colander a top the coordinating plate - it will catch all the little water droplet drippings.

And could there be any better way than to serve your freshly squeezed strawberry lemonade than in this strawberry pitcher? It's even shaped like a strawberry!

Not sure about you but I just love strawberry shortcakes in the summer. Wouldn't homemade shortcakes and piles of strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream look absolutely yummy topped on these decadent strawberry plates?

Of course strawberry shortcakes can be a bit messy. These strawberry napkins will easily clean dirty hands - and faces. :-)
And protect your table linens from spills with the above red and white polka dot placemats. Although they are not strawberry themed - they coordinate perfectly with the strawberry theme. And, even better, they are made of plastic laminate for very easy clean-up!

I'm debating getting some of these items for Mother's day gifts. Although, maybe I'll just keep them for myself as they make bright and cheery summer serving pieces. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lounging ...

The summer of 2007 was a big year for landscaping projects at the Dreher's. Our first project of the season (which started the first weekend in May) was our hammock area. Pictured above is one of the Asiatic/perennial lilies that bloomed in August. To view a slide show of the project from start to finish, click here. (There are over 50 photos so sit back and enjoy). Actually, now that I think about, the slide show actually isn't from start to finish. We forgot to take a photo of the area before we hand-dug out all of the grass. Actually, Roger dug most of it out as he began the project the weekend of the mini marathon I ran and I was in no shape to help dig after the race. Actually, I did keep him company and bag the grass while he used his muscles to dig up the grass. :-)

Anyway, this lounging hammock area is still my favorite area of the yard. Although I would love to say that we used this area almost nightly, truth be told we did not. I was still too afraid to leave the hammock out in the yard as I didn't want it faded within the first year so most nights it just seemed too much of chore to drag it out of the garage, hang it and then take it back down. This year perhaps I'll be a little less worried about ruining it and actually leave it hanging out so that it will get more use. But, the few times we used it last year, I loved it - especially at dusk and just after dark. This area is positioned in a darker/shaded corner of our yard which is hidden from street lights, etc. The copper solar lights on the hammock posts seemed to provide just the perfect amount of ambient lighting to lounge and talk and listen to the birds and crickets.

As you can see from most of the photos in the slideshow, near the end of the summer most of the flowers were just beginning to get to a good size. Since we did so many landscaping projects last summer, we had to purchase smaller and more budget friendly flowers. We decided to purchase them through Springhill nurseries - an online and catalog nursery. They ship the flowers right to your door - which is convenient, but like I said they are small. Most start out as either bulbs or roots, but even though they were small, we found the lower prices well worth it. By the end of the summer, most were about the size you buy at Lowes, etc. And although a few plants did not sprout or survive, Springhill has a great policy. If at any time a plant does not come-up or dies midway through the season, they will mail you out another. We took full advantage of this on all our plants that didn't do so well. They mailed us replacements in the fall and some additional replacements this spring. And they don't even charge shipping for the replacements. (This made us happy customers and thus we've ordered some more plants from them this spring. )

Speaking of warmer weather - have I mentioned that I'm extremely ecstatic that spring is finally hear? (Yes, I know that I have!) It was 74 degrees here in Indy so Roger and I went for our third walk of the season tonight. I even brought my camera along with intentions of sharing photos of some of my favorite houses/gardens in my neighborhood. (We live in an older revitalized neighborhood just north of downtown Indianapolis. With this being said, there are many homes with awesome architecture that I just can't wait to share.) I took out my camera to snap a photo of one of our tree-lined streets (not sure what types of trees were planted but they are all blooming beautiful white flowers) and guess what, my camera immediately went dead. Darn batteries! We are expecting rain tomorrow afternoon, but if it holds off, I'll certainly be making my way back to this street to snap a photo before the blossoms go away again until next spring. :-) Oh yeah, Roger and I also had a wonderful picnic (of friend chicken and other wonderfully fattening sides) in our neighborhood park just half a block down the street. It's great to be able to eat outside again and spring is the best time - especially since it's not too warm. :-)

Well, I must be moving right along.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Handyman Husband Project - Raised Flower Beds

I know that you are all very anxious to see my husband's most recent handyman project. Well, here it is! Drumroll ..... He created raised flower beds while I was out of town. Now you may be thinking that I'm the type of wife who always gives her husband a list of "Honey Dos". But, in my case Roger actually gives himself enough of a list that I normally don't have to prepare one for him. (We are both really bad when it comes to home improvement projects - neither one of us can say no - good for our house, not so good on our budget.) :-) He got this most recent idea while looking through a yard and landscaping book that we received from my parents as a Easter gift. He's always wanted to plant bulbs, but most other bulbs (other than tulips and daffodils) don't do well in the North over the long winter so one must dig them up each fall and re-plant them in the spring. This can be quite a task in the tougher dirt of our regular flowerbeds so he decided that it might be easier to manage the bulbs in raised beds. And wouldn't you know it - the book had diagrams and descriptions on how to create raised flower beds. For a couple of weeks he described his plans to me, but never really committed to starting the project. That is until the Friday after my work conference - the day I was leaving for Florida. I couldn't get a hold of him while waiting for the airport shuttle and when I finally did he said he'd been out pricing wood and other supplies for the project. Lucky for him, the landscaping timbers and soil were on sale at Menard's. And he was also doubly (is that even a word?) lucky because that weekend was actually going to be the first spring-like weekend in Indiana. He didn't buy the supplies before we talked, but he estimated to me that this "little" project would cost around $500. That sounded pretty reasonable to me so we decided to go ahead with this project. (Okay, actually I just said it sounded good - since I was out of town, this project was all on him. And after I found out how much manual labor it involved, I'm just a tad bit glad that I wasn't around to be involved. Not that I wished all the hard work on him - but it did sound like a lot of hard work!)

The above two photos are our backyard on Saturday morning. (I think he texted these photo to me at 7:10 and 9:15 am) These photos were taken after several early morning trips to Menard's to purchase the landscaping timbers. I believe that he purchased over 32 timbers in all. Oh yeah - and have I mentioned that he decided to undertake this project all by his lonesome? - not even a friend involved! Luckily midway through lugging the timbers from the car to the sidewalk one of our neighbors volunteered to help him out. This same neighbor also loaned Roger a chainsaw so he could more easily cut through the 6 inch thick timbers. (Midway through the project it actually gave-up so Roger had to buy another one. Which means that Roger has now added a chainsaw to his list of tools - sometimes I think the only reason he does these projects is to have an excuse to buy another handy tool! Of course I'm just joking but it does seem that way.)
Above is step one of the actual assembly of the flower beds. After cutting the pieces and laying them, he had to dig them into the ground several inches to stabilize the beds. The above was taken at 12:45 pm.

And by 3:45 pm he'd completed the first raised bed. As you can see, it's still missing the dirt, bulbs, and mulch. Which sounds like a menial task until you think of how many bags of dirt it will take to fill these beds!
75 bags of soil later (and 2 more trips to Menard's) he wrapped up the long day by nearly 8 pm. Each time he texted a photo I was amazed at his progress. Considering this was the first time he attempted an outdoor project like this (and also considering he was doing this by himself), I was astonished. Needless to say, when I spoke to him that night he was pooped out, sore from all of the lifting, and even sun burnt. He mentioned he wanted to attempt a second bed, but thought he'd put it off until the following weekend. Or so I thought ...
First thing the following morning I get a call from him that he'd decided to work on completing the 2nd bed until around noon. Well, noon must have eventually lead to 4pm because I got another call from him that he was finished with the project and that he even wanted to take things a step further and plant bulbs and mulch the area. By 7:15, he was completely finished.

And Ta Da - above and below are the completed raised beds (26 landscaping timbers, 150 bags of soil, 100 bulbs, and 6 bags of mulch later). If I remember correctly, he planted 4 of the areas with bulbs (dahlia, ranunculus,etc.) and 2 more were left open so that we can eventually plant veggies. After many failed attempts at growing green and red peppers in years past, this year I think that we are going to keep things pretty basic -growing only tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.

And - the project is still not finished. If you can believe that? We've decided that we are going to put our copper fire pit in the middle area between the raised beds. (I got one for my birthday last year, but we only used it once last summer because we didn't have a permanent area for it and like most people, if something isn't easily accessible, we just don't use it!) To make this area a cozy little place for roasting marshmallows, etc. Roger is going to build benches along the sides of the middles beds and also along the back - against the fence. Once we complete the project - I'll certainly post updated photos. :-)
I also had a good laugh this morning regarding the budget for this project. I usually manage the money and bills in our house, and after returning from vacation I finally had the time to sit down and see what was spent while I was gone. Remember the $500 Roger thought he'd spend? Try almost doubling that! The grand total - over $960! HaHa. (It's a good thing we have a savings because if we didn't - I'd probably be crying right now!) Can't wait to tell Roger tonight. I don't think he has any idea how much was spent. Guess you know why I manage the money in the house now. ;-) Anyway - hope you enjoyed! All the kudos goes to my wonderful husband and handyman, Roger! Love him. :-)
Tata for now ....