Gravel Patios and Landscaping

One of the most dramatic changes we have made to our "new" house was removing about 20 trees from the property.  While we didn't want to remove that many, some were diseased, another was so close to the house that it was causing the roof to rot, and overall the lot was very wooded and we were seeking a greenscape for our kids to play.  Next week the whole yard will be re-graded and seeded.  We will definitely need some kind of patio down the line for our firepit, something we really enjoy sitting around with family and friends in the warmer months.

Between the tree removals, the loam that we're bringing in, the regrading and the seed, we're at the end of our 2011 budget for landscaping, so I've been looking into economical ideas for a patio and have fallen in love with a surprising material: 

Look at these lovely gardens - aren't they just lovely?  Who knew gravel could be so sophisticated?

Ron Herman Landscape Architect traditional landscape

Kate Michels Landscape Design mediterranean landscape

Less Lawn More Garden eclectic landscape

Gradinger Residence modern landscape

debora carl landscape design contemporary landscape
via Debora Carl Landscape Design,  San Diego/Houzz

a country house mediterranean landscape
via  Nurit Geffen-Batim Studio/Houzz

via brentwoodlandscaping.com

via Garden Studio Design, before patio makeover

via Cottage Living

via sunset.com

Landscape Design - Build contemporary landscape

via landscapingnetwork.com

 via Mostatabi & Associates/Houzz

I think this border, set in mortar, would be beautiful around a gravel patio.
source unknown

I'm thinking laying weed-preventative material and gravel with bluestones would be a great solution for our firepit area.

What do you think? 


The Royal Jewels

No, not those royal jewels....
such as a fabulous sapphire bauble on a certain bride-to-be this coming Friday....

these are the sort of jewels you'd find around this castle - 
 just the everyday/fun/cheap/H&M/Old Navy variety - but somehow this board makes them all look fancier than they are!

I know, I know, you've seen a thousand and one jewelry board tutorials!

Jewelry boards have been making their way around the blogospere for, oh, at least a fortnight or so, but in case you haven't made one because it looks intimidating, I'm here to tell you this is a craft project for the un-crafty, and a must for any woman who has her jewelry heaped in a box on her bureau.

I made my first board a few years ago, and since then I can't believe how much more I wear my fun jewelry because
I can see it when I'm getting dressed! 

This was my original board.  I loved the robins egg blue/chocolate brown combo that coordinated with my old master bedroom, but the busy background took away from the jewelry.

This board hung in the walk-in closet of my previous master bedroom.  In our new house, the closet in our bedroom is, um, a bit more petite, and so the jewelry board will be finding a new home in the bathroom.  Our new bedroom and bathroom will be comprised of lots of whites and creams and so it was time to give the board a little makeover.  I love how my necklaces and bracelets pop on the natural burlap background and I really love how the board is pretty yet functional.  Some of these items I don't even wear but they remind me of - or were given to me by - someone special.
Why not enjoy your lovely things everyday?

Here's any easy way for you to hang your jewelry to keep the pieces from entangling in a jewelry box, remind you to wear them and serve as some eye candy for your walls! 

Empty picture frame
1/4" Foamboard (easily found at office supplies stores, CVS, etc.)
Spray adhesive or Mod Podge
Decorative upholstery tacks or decorative push pins
Strong adhesive or packing tape

Cut foamboard to the size of your empty frame (I taped two pieces of foamboard together with packing tape to make a board big enough.)  Foamboard is easy to cut, and is sturdy enough to hold the jewelry without the tacks falling out (aided by a little glue).  You can also use a bulletin board for this project but I went with inexpensive foam because it was readily available at the Walgreens right up the road.

Cut a piece of fabric a couple inches wider and longer than the board.  Cover the board with spray adhesive or Mod Podge and then wrap with fabric.  (If you use Mod Podge, work quickly, it dries fast!)
I used a brayer to fully adhere the fabric to the board.
Secure the fabric to the back of the board with strong adhesive.  Tape worked just fine for me.

I ordered these upholstery tacks from eBay and love them.  They are like little pieces of jewelry themselves! 
Using a pencil, mark where you want to add your tacks or pins to the board.  You might want to lay out your jewelry to see how far apart you want to space your tacks.  I have a short row on the bottom for bracelets and the rest are for necklaces.  The jewelry overlaps but I wanted to fit a lot of tacks on the board so I was okay with the overlap.

Before pushing the tacks or pins into the board, dip them in a strong glue to hold them in place once the jewelry is hung from them.  Make sure it dries completely before hanging your jewelry.

Pop the board into your frame.  My frame had brads left in it (from it's previous life housing a print in my son's nursery).  I used the brads to hold the board in, but you could also use packing tape to secure the lightweight foam board inside the frame. 
Put a d-ring or saw-tooth hanger on the back of the frame for hanging, and
enjoy your work of art!

Most of my baubles are nothing special, but I love seeing them anyway!
Ooooooh something shiny.

I love the neutral texture the natural burlap adds (and it's so inexpensive!!!)

This one below just reminds me of my Gramma and makes me smile!

I wrote this post yesterday, and then went on to do some blog reading only to disover that Andrea of Oak Ridge Revival made a similar jewelry board for her daughter, using the cutest pins!  Check it out.

I'm enjoying being able to see my necklaces and bracelets when I get dressed, but I also think the bling looks pretty and interesting on the wall.  I hope you make one so you, too, can enjoy your lovely things every day!

I'm so happy to be linking up to these blog parties this week - thank you for hosting, ladies!

The DIY Show Off

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia



Somewhat Simple's Strut Your Stuff Thursday

The Girl Creative


Mangia Mondays:: Organizing Recipes

Good Monday my friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a happy Easter if you celebrate it!  We are lucky enough to have lots of family nearby and enjoyed not one, but two Easter dinners yesterday! 

It was determined on Easter Sunday that my eldest child, at age 12, is officially taller than all his grandparents, mother and possibly father (who is in denial about this!)

Since I wasn't hosting either dinner, I had oodles of time to spend going through all my recipes and realized I have an issue with collecting them.  I'm a recipe hoarder, it's true!  I have tons of cookbooks but am always pulling recipes out of magazines or printing them off blogs like yours!  I love trying what you link up to Mangia Mondays, this fun blog hop masterminded by my fabulous friend Kristin of Delightfully Dowling!  

I was overdue for a recipe file clean-up, and thought I'd share with you a system that has worked for me for several years, which I'm now handing down to my niece.

As a gift for Angela this past Christmas, I started pulling together all my favorite tried-and-true recipes for her.  I bought these two cute quatrefoil binders at Staples that are pretty enough to keep on the kitchen counter or shelf, along with dividers, and copied recipes from my files to put in them.  I love having my own recipes in binders that I can open on my counter or put on a plate stand when I am cooking. 

As I do for myself, I have Angela's binders divided into categories that haved worked for me (I need more dividers!  I went crazy dividing these recipes into categories!)

starch veggies (potatoes, risotto, corn)
cookies and bars
desserts (of the non-cookie/bar variety - cakes, etc.)
take out menus
 "other" for miscellaneous food-related articles or kitchen tips.

Other sections you might consider:  vegetarian dishes, allergy-friendly,  meatless entrees, holidays (cakes and treats specific to Halloween, for example).

I also added a plastic sleeve for storing food and tablescape photos that might be inspiring. 
This first photo below is a beautiful veggie & dip display on tiered plates. 

Each binder is labeled with the contents:
I made sure to buy binders that have pockets inside.  Before I officially add a recipe to my own books I pop it into the pocket until I have a chance to try it and determine if it's a keeper or not.  In the past I would have 50,000 recipes that I never tried clogging up my files.  When I'd go searching for a recipe I would find myself feeling overwhelmed - the exact opposite feeling I want to get from a hobby I love!

I keep a 3-hole punch in a drawer in my kitchen, and if a recipe is a keeper it has the honor of joining the binder. 

I also make notations on the recipe about changes or if a dish was greatly enjoyed.  (I do this in my cookbooks too - very helpful the next time around!)

It's a bit of work to organize your recipes initially but once you do it it's a breeze to maintain. 

Do you have a system for organizing your recipes?  What has worked for you?
I love chatting with you about food every Monday and can't wait to see what you've got cooking this week!
Mangia Mondays Guidelines:

• Add a link to your recipe or food post {not your blog homepage} & visit some of the others who have linked up before you!
• We appreciate you not linking to giveaways, other link parties or items you are selling.
Link back by putting the Mangia Mondays button in your post or anywhere on your blog to let others know you've joined the party.
• Help spread the word about Mangia Mondays with others by sharing this post!