May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in Review

This Memorial Day weekend, like most weekends was spent tidying the house, playing with Charlotte and working on miscellaneous craft projects.  Last weekend I finished almost all of my yard and garden projects which worked out well because the weather was pretty dreary and it was nice to stay inside.  I wanted to finish a bunch of sewing projects I started months ago, but as always, I started dreaming up new ideas and patterns and became too excited to finish anything.  I was less productive than I hoped.  I did however finish a few summer skirts and some puppy accessories for Charlotte.  I don't have any photos to share right now but I will once I finish what I started.  Next weekend I am concentrating on finishing a bunch of baby stuff for my boyfriend's little sister that is expecting a baby in the later part of June.  I won't give too much away in case she reads this!

I hope everyone enjoyed their time off this weekend.  If you had to work, I am right there with you.  I only had my usual two days off this week.  But hopefully the weather will improve here and we will get some sun for the summer season which is almost upon us.

May 27, 2011


Wednesday night I took Charlotte over to a friend's house who just got a new puppy this week.  Izzie is a 7 week old mini American Eskimo puppy.  She is a very cute ball of fluff.  She is 5 weeks younger than Charlotte but with all of her fur they are almost the exact same size.  At their full adult size they will also be about the same height and weight.  When we arrived for our play date Charlotte was very nervous and didn't want to play.  Izzie was full of puppy energy and was pouncing on Charlotte and biting her legs while Charlotte hid on my lap.  Eventually Charlotte warmed up and they played for more than a hour both inside and outdoors. Playtime finally came to an end when little Izzie had to take a nap from using up all her energy.  It was great to see Charlotte play with a dog her size.  She hasn't really experienced many other dogs. She is either to scared of them or she is too hyper for older dogs that don't want to play with a puppy.  But I think Izzie and Charlotte will soon be best friends and have a really fun summer together.  Unfortunately for my bunnies, Charlotte is now practicing her new play fighting tactics with them and they are not amused.

They look like they are about to touch noses and be friends but as soon as I took this photo Izzie seized this moment to take Charlotte off guard and get her front legs.

Charlotte's still not sure what to do at this point.

The girls went crazy as soon as we took them outside.  They would run and tackle each other and then chase each other again.
They were attacking so fast they looked like one big blur running by.

Most of their battle was silent except for Charlotte's snorting noises she makes.   I was surprised at how gentle they were playing.  No one got hurt.

May 24, 2011

Recipe: Stuffed Zucchini and Potato Side Dish

Ever since coming home from spring break I have not been in the mood to cook at all.  Last week I finally decided I need to start making real food for dinner so I tried out a few new recipes.  This night I made a stuffed zucchini dish with baby russet potatoes with mashed peas.  We had lots of leftovers from a few different nights and I used them to fill the zucchini dish.

Stuffed Zucchini: 

Take two zucchini and cut lengthwise and scoop out contents and leave the shell intact.  Fill shells with cooked brown rice (I just put in enough to cover the bottom of the zucchini shells, maybe 1/4 a cup)  Then in a mixing bowl cut up the contents of the zucchini and mix with chopped mushrooms, cooked Italian sausage ( I used a grilled bratwurst since that's what we had on hand), chopped sweet onion and Parmesan cheese.  Put mixture onto of rice inside zucchini shell. Bake on 350 degrees for 20 mins.


Boil 10 baby russet potatoes until you can stick them through with a fork.  Meanwhile heat on the stove fresh or frozen peas until hot.  Take off stove and mash peas with chives, basil, pepper and salt.  When potatoes are done cut in half and scoop peas on top.

The Result:

The zucchini was delicious.  I really enjoyed this dish. I recommend trying this recipe. The potatoes were not my favorite.  It tasted like they were missing something.  I took the potato recipe from the current issue from Martha Stewart magazine and tweaked it.  Maybe I should have stuck with her instructions but I still don't think it would have tasted better.  Next time I would probably just top the potatoes with some plain yogurt or sour cream. 

Bein' Green

This little amphibian was found today in the greenhouse of Schmidt's.  He hitched a ride on a potted flower and made it all the way to a customers car before anyone noticed him.  The customer brought him back into the store and handed him back to me.  I thought about putting him in the greenhouse where he could spend the summer but decided to take him home to my garden.  I was afraid he would get squished in the greenhouse so he walked home with me in a paper bag and was released into the shaded part of the yard near a fresh water source.  Wouldn't it be nice if he stayed there and ate all the slugs in the garden.

 Little frog under a Columbine flower

Hopping away from the camera

May 23, 2011

Garden Journal: May 23rd

This weekend I finally finished most of my projects in the garden.  Sunday was a very busy day for Charlotte and I.  We were up at 6 am taking photos of the garden.  And then we spent the rest of the day finishing the patio table area (you can find photos of this project under the post Dinner for Two).  I also mowed the lawn while Charlotte barked and attacked the mower.  The only thing left to finish in the garden is to plant a few more peppers and weed a little in the far back corner.  Here are some photos from the first blooms of the summer season.

The rhododendron bush is a beautiful light pink

I'm not sure what this plant is. Its probably a weed but its a pretty blue and it keeps coming back even when I dig it up.

These tree blossoms are a delicate pretty flower.  Unfortunately they smell awful.

Vinca vine.  I hate this plant because I cannot get rid of it but it does have beautiful flowers.

This planter has a jumble of plants in it.  I'm not sure how its going to look.  Its a mix of whatever plants I had left over from other projects.

Gnomes are invading the yard!  I know have 11 gnomes roaming the garden.  This does not include the three in the house or the gnome salt and pepper shakers.

Lupine is just about to bloom

The humming bird station is all planted and ready to bloom soon.

My humming bird station includes red nasturtiums, a cape fuchsia, thunbergia, rudbeckia, foxglove and lupine.

There is a basket filled with petunias and million bells.  It doesn't look the best right now.  Its had a rough couple of months but soon it will look spectacular.

Verbena and bacopa basket I bought from Schmidts

Tea cup and saucer bird feeder.  I have 2 of these for sale on my etsy shop.

So cute in a blooming garden.

Charlotte doing some modeling for my dog bandanas on my etsy shop.

She even has an Oregon State bandana

Dinner for Two

Today I finally finished fixing up the corner of the yard and turned it into a summer outdoor dining area.  I started this project back in March.  Last year we used this space as a bunny pen so the bunnies could enjoy the outdoors while being out of the hot sun.  Unfortunately they do not enjoy being outside and never played in their pen so I decided to take it down.  I thought about putting in a pond or a fountain but I decided on a outdoor eating area because it was cheaper and it can be a multipurpose area. In the future if I want to move the table and chairs I have the options of putting in a fire pit with shorter, comfy chairs, I could put in a  birdbath and some shade loving plants or I could put down a small swimming pool for Charlotte in the summer.

Tackling this project took countless weekends of work.  It took longer than expected but I had to wait for weekends that were sunny and warm enough to work outside.  I spent I total of $45 for all my supplies including lanterns and the table cloth.  I chose materials that I had on hand or that I knew I could get for little to no cost.  I like being surrounded by beauty in the garden but I also have a tight budget to work with so I make every penny count. 


This is what the corner space looked like last year when the bunny pen was up.  Its not the most attractive spot.  I planned to use a nicer, shorter fencing but Cocoa is too clever for his own good and can jump very high so I had to use this less attractive chicken wire.

Another view of the corner from last year.  I did my best to put potted plants around it to make it look better but it didn't help.
Inside the pen there is a small tree/shrub that was not my favorite.  It looked like it was full of spiders and pests from the garden.
I also tried planting some hostas and put in some little chairs but nothing helped to improve the look of this space.  I ended up replanting the hostas in another location and spray painting the chairs and turning them into bird feeders for the fence.


To complete my project I first removed the chicken wire and used it to cage in my veggie garden from Le Tigre (Charlotte).  I then replanted the hosta along the fence with some other plants.  Then I had to level out the ground.  To do this I could have  used a tamp, but instead I went in a slightly more involved direction and used a hand rake and a level to make a smooth even space.  Using the tamp would have saved me a few weekends worth of work but I was too lazy to drive down to my work and borrow it so I went the long route and leveled the ground by hand.  Then I laid down the concrete blocks.  Originally I planned to use slate slabs but the store was getting rid of some old concrete blocks so I took them home for free instead of paying $60-$80 for stone. 
The beginning of leveling out the ground.  Once I layed down the concrete I made sure they were spaced evenly and level between each concrete block.  The Corsica mint in the picture I used as a filler in between the concrete.  Eventually it will fill in completely and cover all the dirt.  I chose to use this because you can walk on it, it takes shade, it smells delicious and the flats of plants were free because they  looked bad enough that no one would buy them. So I got a steal of a deal.  And once I put them in the yard they perked back up in a few weeks and looked good as new.

I'm almost done.  At this point I have a few more blocks to lay down and then fill in with top soil.  I used topsoil to fill the cracks in between the concrete because it is a denser soil than potting soil and will compact nicely and not leave dips later on when the soil settles.

I added edging around the edge to contain the dirt and make a clear border between the lawn and my sitting area.  I could have made a  square shape pattern with my blocks but instead I chose to make a 1/4 circle because it visibly felt better in the space.  It took some extra effort to do this but it was worth it.  I had to break some of the blocks to make it looked curved.  To do this I borrowed a durable metal lever and a hammer and used it like a chisel to chip away pieces of the concrete I didn't want.  My arms were very sore after this.  I thought it would take me all day to do this but luckily, when I was about 1/6 of the way down the concrete it cracked on its own and I didn't need to chisel all the way through the blocks.  I don't know if I would have finished if that was the case.

After that I just needed to finish filling in with my topsoil and Corsica mint and water it in.
The final step of this project was to add a table and chairs and a few decorations and I was done.  I chose to add some plants around the edges of the patio area to blend in different parts of the garden.  I added a few gnomes and planter as well as shade loving plants.
Now all we need is nice warm summer weather to sit outside and enjoy our garden.

 I hung these lanterns above the table from the over hanging tree branches.  I found them at the craft store for $4 each.  They matched my tablecloth really well.

 This tablecloth was a cinch to make.  I bought a yard of oilcloth fabric from the craft store and cut out a perfectly round circle.  I didn't even bother hemming the edges because it didn't need it.

The pot is made of bamboo and is one I reused from last year.  I planted perennial violets in it.  The will bloom throughout the year and are perfect for a shady spot.

My favorite part about this area is that I fill emerged in the natural world.  With the overhanging trees I can watch the chickadees at the feeders and I have a view of all the areas in the garden.

May 22, 2011

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack

The last page of the current month's Fine Gardening magazine featured very eye opening advise on how to deal with garden gnomes that run a muck in your backyard.  Chuck Sambuchino, author of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, gave readers helpful tips on dealing with the deadliest pest to roam the garden.  He says never turn your back on them or else you my find yourself being ambushed by more than one naughty gnome and you should always be aware of your surroundings and have a weapon within arms length at all times.

This interview was very serious about the threat of gnomes.  When asked how dangerous gnomes are, Chuck's reply was, "I'd say red-alert, DEFCON-2, threat-level-orange dangerous."  He also says people who think gnomes are cute are smoking too much peyote.  Ha ha.  I wonder what he'd say if he found out I have three of them living in the house.   After reading this article I will probably order a copy of his book on amazon and find out just how in denial I am about the dangers of gnomes.

May 19, 2011

Puppy Care Package

On Tuesday this week I received a wonderful surprise while I was at work.  A friend and fellow Boston terrier owner, Anna Liese brought Charlotte a bag full of goodies.  She gave us a fleece blanket she sewed, a tug of war toy and tons of treats. 

Anna Liese has been helping me and answering all my Boston terrier questions since this past December.  When I met her own dog that's when I knew the Boston terrier was the breed for me.

As soon as I brought home the goodies to Charlotte she immediately crawled on her new blanket and started playing with her new toy.  And she loves all her snacks, especially the easy cheese.

Thank you Anna Liese for such a thoughtful gift!

She looks like she's modeling

Checking out her goodies

Shes ready for some tug of war

May 16, 2011

D.I.Y Business Cards

I am so brain dead sometimes.  For months now I have been searching for the perfect business card design online for my craft business.  It finally dawned on me that I have all the materials to make my own.  Why should I spend $30 or $50 dollars for only one design I only kind-of-like when I can create custom made cards whenever I want for less than $5.  I can make multiple designs at once and switch them up anytime I feel like it.  I guess there was a reason deep down that I never settled for buying business cards online....I hadn't made my own yet.  So here is a little tutorial on how to make your own business cards.

Step 1:  Gather your materials

3 sheets of 12x12 card stock (choose a light color so the writing will be easy to see)
3 sheets of printed card stock that has semi small patterns that will look good once you cut it down to business card size
Paper cutter
Corner punch
Glue stick

Step 2:  Cut out your printed card stock into 3.5 x 2 inch rectangles using your ruler and paper cutter

Step 3: Print out your logo/information onto the plain sheets of card stock.  I used Photoshop to do this but it can easily be done in Word or Open Office.  I used Papyrus text for mine.  If you want to explore fun text options, offers tons of different fonts for free.  I use this site all the time when I am working on invitations or scrapbooking.

Step 4:  Use a corner punch to add some creativity to your card.  I bought mine from Michael's and it had 3 different designs to choose from.  Make sure you line your cards correctly into the punch or else it will come out lopsided.

 This is the step that you can really get creative.  Instead of a corner punch you could punch another little shape that is relevant to your business or use a stamp to add a flower, bird, whatever.

Step 5:  Assembling

Use the glue stick to glue your information onto the patterned card stock.  Add another patterned card stock piece on back for thickness and for more design detail.  If your cards curl up after you glue them, stick them under a heavy book for a few minutes to flatten them out.  Once your cards are assembled use the paper cutter to trim any uneven edges when the paper didn't line up all the way.

This project probably took 2 hours from start to finish once I figured out what paper to use (that part took several weeks to decide).  Now I have three different designs to hand out.  I even made a Christmas business card for the Holiday season.

This one is for my Christmas crafts

This card is for my sewing designs

And this one is for all my general projects that I create
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