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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pruning Hydrangeas

The key to knowing when and how to prune hydrangeas is knowing what type of hydrangea you have.

(Pee Gee hydrangea)

Pee Gees - can be pruned as early as January here in the south, but can also be pruned into March. Pee Gees bloom on "new" wood, meaning they haven't set their buds yet and won't be affected by a late frost.

Annabelles (Hydrangea Arborescens or Smooth Hydrangeas) - any time in February - March.


Both of the above can be pruned severely if you wish to keep them on the smaller side. Otherwise, they can all become quite big. Pruning severely = taking them down to 12 inches.

(mophead hydrangea)
Mopheads and Lacecaps - AFTER the LAST frost.(See special pruning instructions below.) I've pruned mine too early before and ended up doing the same job twice. Boo to late frosts!

(lacecap hydrangea)
In the south you are usually safe to prune around Mother's Day weekend.
Northeasterners should wait closer to Memorial Day weekend to prune.

Pruning Instructions for Mopheads & Lacecaps :
DO NOT prune severely. These hydrangeas bloom on "old" wood. Meaning their buds were setting back in September. The buds form on branches which were formed last summer. If you pruned them after September, you may be low on blooms this year.

If they have a bud or new growth at the tip of the branch, DO NOT cut it off.

(Unless it has been hit by frost and is brown. Like below)

If the new growth is a few inches down the branch, cut it about an inch above the bud or new growth. See below.
(Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Pruning Oakleafs:
Cut off spent flowers and do any pruning to shape the shrub or to control its size AFTER the flowers have bloomed. (July) If you live in a hot climate, the flowers will age and then brown out from the heat - so cutting them at this time improves the look of the plant anyway. Oakleafs also bloom on old wood and waiting too long to prune can decrease the blooms you get the following year.

General Pruning Tips:

When pruning, remove any dead wood from your shrub. Often these branches appear white, brittle and do not have any green in the branch even if you were to break it and look inside like I've done here. Cut these as close to the base of the plant as you can.You can remove up to one-third of a hydrangea, so if there are any branches that "bother" you, cut away!

Use sharp bypass shears when cutting hydrangeas. Thicker branches may require the larger, lopping shears.

('Endless Summer' Hydrangea)

If you are lucky enough to have an 'Endless Summer' mophead hydrangea, you can cut the blooms off by July 4th and should get a second bloom out of your shrub.

Well, if you're still reading, you're either my Ma-Ma or really into hydrangeas. Feel free to ask any hydrangea related questions in the comment area and if I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out.

Hope you have a bloom filled summer!
Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Subtle Valentine Decorating

Something a little different for Valentine's Day.
A combination of silver, candles, miniature dry rosebuds, pepperberries and a Valentine card given to my hubby's mother and passed on to me by my wonderful SIL. Thanks, Nancy!

Be sure to check out the other
wonderful mosaics over
at Mary's!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweetness Through the Year

This idea came to me via my good friend, Amanda. She's so smart and thoughtful sometimes I forget what a sassypants she is. But sassy or not, this is a wonderful idea! And it is very simple.
Get a notebook for each of your kiddos and start a love journal. These are my kids' journals and I got them at Wal-Mart. Each night or every other night, you write something positive, funny or memorable from the day which specifically involves them. My kids like to read their notes at the breakfast table.

You decide how much you want to write and how often. Even on a rough day, you can find one positive thing...and no, it shouldn't say "Finally, you went to bed."

After on particularly rough day with our son, I reminded him in his notebook how his daddy and I had prayed to God for a child of our own and He ended up giving us him. I told him I say a thank you prayer to God every day for making him our son - even on tough days! This is important because Jack knows his story (of adoption) and he is as precious now as he was then. And it helped me put a whole new perspective on the day to come.

I especially like this idea because their notes are organized in one area, it's a fabulous way to spread the love daily or often, they read back and laugh at some of the early notes and they have your handwriting.

My mother recently found and gave to me a recipe of my grandmother's written in her handwriting. I can't even begin to tell you what a treasure it is. And it's perfect for a Valentine's treat!

Traci's No Cook Fudge

1 box 10x sugar
1 egg
2 TBSP. milk
Vanilla as desired
1 stick of butter
1/2 c. Hershey's cocoa

Mix sugar, egg, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl with a mixer.
Melt butter and cocoa together.
Add to bowl with first set of ingredients and stir together.
Pour into a buttered or Pam sprayed pan.

Keep in fridge and cut when cool.

If you prefer peanut butter fudge, simply substitute 1/2 c. peanut butter for the cocoa.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stimulating the Senses

You're thinking, "What in the world is she talking about?" Well, I took a look at my winter/February mantel from last year and thought it felt a little "cold". So I went back to what I like best when decorating: nature and feeling cozy.

This mantel from last year, was missing something - warmth. And goodness knows we can all use some warmth!

This is much better. Not a huge change, but definitely an improvement. All it took were some mason jars, filled with Epsom salts to mimic the look of snow, (those of you in the midwest and along the east coast may want to skip the salts) and a tea light nestled in the top. And no, you don't see any amaryllis blooms this year - all I got are big green wonky leaves that look like green antlers. Don't look.

On to the olfactory sense...and this is one of my favorite things to do on a chilly day. Fill a large pot with water, slice up an orange/tangerine, toss in a couple of bay leaves, a few cloves, sprinkle in these spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and ground allspice. Bring to a soft boil and then reduce to simmering. Now...DON'T forget about this on your stove!! I add more water when I notice it getting low. You can reheat with the same ingredients 2 or 3 times. This homemade simmering potpourri smells divine!

Last but not least, lets cover the ole' taste buds. Because who couldn't use a warm you to the bones stew after being out in the brutal cold? This is a delicious and very easy recipe to boot.

French Vegetable Beef Stew
2 lbs. beef stew meat and olive oil to brown meat
1 can condensed onion soup
1 - 6oz. can tomato paste

1 TBSP. basil
1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper
5-8 carrots, sliced

2 c. sliced celery
1 can or frozen wax beans - if canned, do not drain
1 can or frozen green beans - again, do not drain if canned
1 can kidney beans (don't drain)
optional: potatoes are fine if you don't plan on freezing the stew and Parmesan cheese if you want to top it off.

In a large pot over medium/high heat, brown meat well in olive oil. Reduce heat to medium, stir in undiluted onion soup, 5 soup cans water, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer covered, 1 and 1/2 hours.

Add all vegetables; reheat to boiling, then simmer covered 30 minutes or until meat and veggies are fork tender. Top with Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

The beauty of this recipe is that it has such a good base that you can vary or add vegetables to you liking. I try to healthy it up a bit, by skipping the canned veggies as much as possible and use fresh or frozen. Yum!

Thanks for visiting and come back for a Valentine's gift (for kiddos) that keeps giving through out the year!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Puppy Chow for People

"Puppy Chow"

1/2 c. butter
1 -12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter
9 c. Crispix cereal (some recipes call for Chex cereal, but I like this better)
4 c. powdered sugar
paper bag (I add this because it was the only thing I needed to get at the grocery store.)

Directions: (super easy - trust me!)

1. In a sauce pan, melt together butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips. (low to medium heat)
2. Stir until all is evenly distributed and all is completely melted.
3. Measure out Crispix into a large bowl.
4. Pour chocolate mixture over Crispix and fold until all the cereal is completely covered.
5. Put powdered sugar into large paper bag.

6. Put Crispix into the bag with the sugar and shake until all the cereal is covered.
7. Add more sugar as needed.
8. Lay cereal on wax paper until cool.

Get these adorable treat boxes at Hobby Lobby - they've gone on sale already, so 10 only cost $3! That is a whole lotta cute for not a lotta money, my friends! I plan on squirreling away some of these babies to use through the year.

I like to refrigerate my puppy chow. I also place it in baggies before packaging so the powdered sugar doesn't go everywhere it's not supposed to.

This was the perfect favor for my daughter's birthday party which had a doggy theme to it. I think it would make an excellent holiday treat...however, you may want to rename it to "Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch" so people don't think you're insulting them. You can even top it off with an ornament.

Thanks for visiting and happy snackin'!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Incredible Florabella Give-Away!

I'm sure most of my photographer friends know
of Florabella actions and textures.

(This is actually a vertical template, but I rotated it for this photo.)

But did ya know, she has generously sent out an invite
to download these gorgeous holiday cards? The
invite came via her newsletter. Sign up!

Yepper. All you have to do is "like" Florabella
on FaceBook
and you can download all FIVE
of these beauties.
Comes with lovely matching patterns
for your text on the back.
Details found here.

Not only that, but you can then sign up for the
chance to win a $100 gift certificate to
purchase any of her incredible
actions, textures, frames or digital papers!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Scissor Cutting Pattern

I've been working on a little something to share with you all. Since this is something you can make now and keep for next year's Halloween season, I'm going with the motto of better late than never! I was inspired by a fabulous scissor-cutting artist, Cindy - found here, an exhibitor at a local show and a silhouette pattern from the Better Homes & Garden Halloween magazine to create this:

Ta-Dah!! (Or as my daughter says, "Ta-Tah!!" She has no idea why I find this funny.)This is my own drawing/template, yours to print off and use to make your own Halloween scissor-cutting. Right-click on the template. Click on "Open Link in New Tab". You should be able to print from that image.Once printed, use as much or as little of the template as you like. You may only want to do the moon and the owl or the cat and pumpkins - enlarge if you'd like.

1. Cut the excess white paper away and tape to a piece of black paper. (Unless you want to make a white silhouette. Which I think gives this wonderful craft a modern look to it - however, I like the black for Halloween.) I'm not sure if this taping process is "cheating" in the scissor-cutting world, but I certainly didn't want to cut out the pattern, trace it with a white pen on black paper and then cut it again from the black paper. If you want to do that - knock yourself out. Seriously.

2. Use your exacto knife and tiny hole punch to cut out the small inner pieces and eyes FIRST.

3. Using fine tipped, sharp scissors, cut around the outer lines. Turn the paper, rather than your scissors to get a better cut. Sorry I didn't have the grass drawn on my original drawing, but I kind of pieced this together as I went.
If you are a novice, like me, you will want to cut the little figures and grass separately and just glue them close together onto your background when finished. (I'm pretty sure this is also "cheating".)

If your cuts are not perfect, don't sweat it! Perfectionists are chicken-$hits. If you are a perfectionist, I'm sorry, someone had to tell you.

4. Find an old black frame, use one ya have or get one on sale...this pattern fits just right in a 5x7 frame.

5. Pick out a sheet of colored or patterned paper and glue your cuttings down.

Ta-tah, you're done!

You might get inspired and draw your own little figures to match your little one's costumes. I made this magician and bunny rabbit for my friend who's boys are dressing in these costumes. I thought she was so creative making their costumes relate like that! Way to go, Amanda Carol!
Thanks for visiting and happy scissor-cutting! (Sounds better than happy scerenschnitting, don'tcha think?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Confessions of a Crappy Blogger

I have been just awful about posting in the last month. And if this blog was a plant, it would be dried up, brown and just plain pitiful looking. But I must say "thank you" to my followers and my readers. Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for your continued support and thank you for your thoughtful comments. And now, if you only wish to read positive, feel-good may wanna go read elsewhere. If you can handle some honesty and reality, stick around.

I have been busy with my family. The kids have after school activities three days of the week. I have been exhausted. I have been hot. Bring on the fall weather already! Laundry, cleaning and all domestic chores have been done. And repeated to the Nth degree. (If you are one of my three male followers or my brother, avert your eyes now...I'm about to discuss female issues.)

Let's quit this BS that our 40's are the best thing since they started making snack bags of Nutter-Butter cookies. I gotta ask Oprah, Demi and that Eat, Pray, Love chick to just shut it! I feel like I've got another set of armpits directly under my breasts. I am tired, moody and filled with self doubt. I could eat 24/7. I am out of shape and out of my mind. Yes, I'm perimenopausal. It's not pretty, it's not fun and I am at a time where I am trying to take care of everyone else.

For the past month, I collapse on the couch at the end of the day. I mindlessly watch tv and try to let go the worst of the day. I tell myself that tomorrow is another day. It hasn't been working. So I began exercising again. It hasn't solved everything, but I am feeling mentally better. Therefore, I decided to share. Because somebody else may be feeling similarly. And because the Pioneer Woman wrote that anything I'd share with a sister (if I had a sister), I could feel comfortable sharing with my readers. If you've made it this far reading, I am crowning you a blogging sister.

And I feel better unleashing that bout of verbal diarrhea.
Thanks for listening and sticking by me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Fix

For all of us who are "finished" adding to our immediate family...sometimes, ya just need a little baby fix and then you're good to go!
I love all his dark hair and his incredible dark brown eyes...oops! You can't see his dark eyes here. You'll need to go here to my photography blog to see MORE and BIGGER photos!

In case you are interested, I'll be sharing a post about lighting & photography here next week. All of my portraits are done with natural lighting.

Thanks for visiting and following!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Family Portrait

This is the first full week of school here in Georgia and I have begun the process of catching up! I feel sometimes like I'm in a constant state of catching up, but love when I'm able to chip away at my list.

This is just a sneak peak at the "H" family portrait session I shot back in June. Yes, June. Back when I thought it couldn't get any hotter. My mistake. However, you'd never know it was blazin' hot by looking at these guys. They looked "Mahhvelous". (Yes, I'm channeling my inner Billy Crystal and I don't care if that clues you in to my age!)

You can see more and larger photos from our session here.

Off to work on "Baby Z". Be sure to come back if you're in need of an adorable baby fix!
Thanks for visiting!