Thursday, October 22, 2009

Preparing for winter

This summer, my youngest son decided to take on the enormous job of redoing a pond (like most things we didn’t realize how long it would take) that had fallen in due to neglect and ignorance.

One week later, countless hours, numerous squabbles, and much questioning out loud about “whose idea was this anyway,” it was finished.

Soothing sounds of running water now wafted into our bedroom window.

It was a huge hit with my niece who visited this summer.

But here’s the thing – what do you do to winterize your pond? I’ve removed the pumps and drained some of the water out. We don’t have any fish (I couldn’t handle any more dependents) and all the information out there seems geared to keeping your fish alive in your outdoor pond.

If you’ve any ideas for winterizing a fish-free pond with a hard liner, please email me or post a comment.

I was wholly unprepared for that first bit of snow so I’m going to rewind and pretend it didn’t really happen. (Wouldn’t it be nice if that actually worked in real-life?)

Consistently plummeting night-time temps are a good indicator that it’s time to take look at your outdoor garden planters.

Winterize your outdoor planters in 5 easy and inexpensive steps:

Remove the dead foliage

Gather up balsam, pine, and whatever other Evergen boughs and twigs are readily available.

Dampen the soil in the planter, cut the stems off the evergreen boughs and twigs, and stick them firmly into the soil. When the soil freezes everything stays in place and your planters (or hanging baskets) now look like this:

If you don’t have bundles of balsam, pine, red willow, and magnolia readily available give us a call to order; if you’re not a DIY-er (like my sister…her philosophy is why do it yourself when you can just get someone else to do it for you), we’ll come over and do it for you.

This year I plan to grow winter garlic as part of our new commitment to knowing the origin of our food (it’s a small step but a step nonetheless). I’ve bought the bulbs and am planning on planting them very soon as it’s definitely the right time to get them in the ground.

Drain all water from your bird baths, garden statuaries, and decorative birdhouses to avoid cracking and breakage. Make sure there is no water left in them, to avoid cracking and breakage.

If you’re a bird lover or you’re looking for inexpensive entertainment stock up on birdseed as this is the time they’re scouting for winter backyards. A great gift idea for the bird lover in your life is our Gift Sunflower Seed Bag, sewn up in lime burlap and filled with sunflower seeds. If you’d like to encourage your child or grandchild to appreciate nature add a hand made birdfeeder.

And if you’d like an indoor reminder of the summer (that wasn’t) consider our hand-made, wooden decorative birdhouses with tin roofs – they also make a great place to drape your necklaces.

What are you doing to winterize your backyard and garden?

On a slight tangent we’re selling a few of our props - a lovely antique steamer trunk. Here's an open and closed view:

Also up for grabs is an old-fashioned Kenmore washing machine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flower Power

Never underestimate the power of flowers!

No, not the whole hippie movement, counter culture, Vietnam War flower power!

Literally the power of flowers.

Their colour and scent can lift you out of funk, lend an elegance and warmth to your space, and German scientists think their scent can help us to have sweet dreams (literally).

Take a moment and think back to the spring (I know it feels like winter for most of us)...close your eyes, take a deep breath, and picture it - your garden awash and alive in various bursts of colour, or your local farmer's market with buckets of gaily coloured flowers, all shapes and sizes. Slowly exhale.

Don't you feel better?

There it is...the power of flowers.

If you're still doubtful plan a trip to the Netherlands - they are the major supplier of flowers to Europe, North American, and South America. In fact, flowers and the flora culture industry generate over $3 billion dollars annually, making it the economic backbone of the country.

I'm lucky enough to have relatives there (yay for in-laws) so I've had the luxury of traveling there a couple of times and each time I land, it's the same feeling - that sense that no matter what, it's ok.

You land at the the airport in Schiphol and it feels like you've stepped into a fairytale, surrounded by gardens of flowers - tulips, carnations, camellias, and a host of other flowers. Airport display screens boast flowers; every store (apparel, restaurants, gift shops) has a gorgeous flower creation (it really is an art form) outside, enticing you to come in. Even the cleaning carts are adorned with tulips!

I find them such a a joy to behold but I've clients who've "confessed" to foregoing their fresh flowers and relegating their faux flowers to their closet because they don't think there's a place for them amidst clean, contemporary design. All the while, they may just need to be rearranged into cleaner lines, maybe a stunning glass vase.

If you love fresh flowers, but don’t like the mess and the work involved you may want to try our Faux Botanicals. They are incredibly life-like, and little is required of them except an occasional blow-dry on a cool setting.

On the off chance that you're ahead of the game (and if you are please tell me how you do it) and are considering Christmas presents (I'm shuddering just typing the word) a Gift certificate towards a Custom botanical arrangement would be an interesting option for all your hard to please giftees.

Well the weather forecast actually calls for sun this weekend so take a well-deserved break, go for a Fall drive and stop in and vist us on Hacquoil Rd. If you've the time, might I suggest meandering over to Belluz Farms and the Cheese Farm on Boundary Drive, as well as, the De Bruin’s Greenhouses for farm fresh Veggies.

See you soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving??? Seriously???

Do you remember as a kid the amount of time you’d just sit around, moaning about how bored you were, or how you couldn’t wait to be grown up?

Now that I’m all grown up I moan about never having enough time to do everything that needs to be done. The long, leisurely summer days of my childhood have long given way to to-do lists, lots of frantic racing around trying to get everything done, and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of this crazy thing we call life

So imagine my surprise when I get the phone call about “Who’s hosting Thanksgiving dinner?”

How is it possible for time to have whizzed by to the point where it’s Thanksgiving? Any chance someone made a mistake? Had their calendar been turned to the wrong month??

I often think that it would be better for Canadians to hav
e Thanksgiving at the same time as Americans. It would buy us all a few more weeks to give some thought to the important stuff…like how to decorate your dinner table!

Have you given any thought to how you’r
e going to decorate your dinner table?

For those of you who have no time to shop (read most all of us), use what you have on hand – backyard foliage, fruit, and tea lights.

Step out into your backyard; take a deep breath and relax for moment as you look around at the explosion of colour. Then harvest as much of that colour as you can and bring it inside.

Place a runner down the middle of the table, grab whatever fruit you have in the house, along with some candles or tealites.

Gently lay your foliage down, then your fruit, and scatter your candles in holders in-between.

If you’d like something fragrant, try Aromatique's candle
s – Cinnamon Cider, Pumpkin Spice, or Creme Caramel – to add to the warmth of your home. Other ideas - teensy weensy pumpkins or acorns look fantastic in a glass vase with a battery-operated tealite.

Simple, yet quietly elegant, are our beautiful Fall wreaths – perfect to welcome your guests into your home.

For a bit of fun add our custom Hell’s Kitchen (my son’s favourite cooking show) tea towels.

Thanksgiving weekend hours are limited to Saturday October 10th from 11-5p. Please be in touch for any last-minute requests/emergencies/advice…

This year I'm not too worried about surviving Thanksgiving because (thankfully) I'm not hosting dinner. My personal survival tips:
  • thaw your turkey a few days in advance (my sister learned this the hard way)
  • do as much prep as you can the night before (chopping vegetables, etc)
  • get everyone to bring a side dish (if there are different cultures present then bring a cultural dish)
  • if things get tense at any point (just in case), relax and take hope in the fact that dinner is temporary...everyone is going to leave very soon!

This year I’m grateful for my family, my health, my life in general, and the fact that I’m not hosting Thanksgiving dinner!

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

the Illusion of Control

Brian Andreas, an American mixed-media artist, is known for the StoryPeople objects he makes using salvaged wood from old homesteads and includes a short story.

I've a number of his prints in my store including my personal favourite - the Illusion of Control, “If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you.”

Like most of us, I like the illusion of control so I try to hold onto the handle at all costs.

I make to-do lists on every scrap of paper I can lay my hands on. Not to mention several day-planners and countless notebooks. In fact, I’ve been known to make lists about my existing lists when I’m really desperate.

Thing is, you’ve to be a bit of “list-freak" when you work at least two seasons ahead of everyone else. It’s the only way to stay on top things.

Currently I’m harvesting as much as possible before the first frost comes, gathering a variety of leaves, branches, flowers, and just about anything I can get my hands. I’ll experiment with them once they’re dried and transform into gorgeous Fall and Christmas Wreaths like this one:

Most of us deal with a fair degree of chaos in our lives and of the things I find helps immensely is coming home to an uncluttered space. If you struggle with recalling what your floor or dining room table (in my sister’s case) looks like, consider Baskets or Containers with lids and labels.

I’m South American and like most South Americans I’ll get undressed and put my clothes away – who knows what could get into your things if you leave them on the ground. After all a scorpion or another bug may crawl in, not to mention weather elements – maybe a rain storm that results in flooding.

My husband is North American – invariable he’ll get undressed and throw his clothes on the floor. There they’ll sit until he’s looking for something or another and it’s in his pocket. After 30 years of marriage I’ve finally hit upon a solution that works: placing a basket where he tosses his clothes.

He’s gotten the hint.

Things look neater, you feel more organized, you’ll spend less time looking for things that are often easily misplaced, and chances are, you’ll feel more in control.

Ask me about customized solutions for your unique storage needs.

If you’re going to let the wind carry you, why not let it carry you a serene, calm place at the end of your busy day.

For me, this is my bedroom. It’s the one area in my home where things remain in place most of the time.

My favourite scent is Lavender and I’ll have lavender in a vase with essential oil.

Monogrammed pillowcases and deliciously soft bedding create a sense of “being away from it all.”

Poet Leigh Hunt says it best, “It is a delicious moment, certainly, that of being well nestled in bed and feeling that you shall gently drop to sleep.

We offer in-home consultation to create your personal space to escape from it all – master bedroom planning, a return to the drawing room, and even a space within a space.

Ask me about pillows and throws, washable cotton bedding ensembles, and aromatherapy options.