A Trip to the Orchard

Door creek logo

It’s hard to believe that fall is here AGAIN. Wasn’t it just fall last year? My sense of time gets more warped the older I get.

Door creek truck

It seems like we were just here picking apples last year. This year is even better for we had an excellent growing season. I love the apple logo at our favorite orchard. It’s so quaint.

It’s even more adorable on this old truck.

suprised james suprised james2

Our youngest son was rather reluctant to come apple picking. He quickly changed his mind when he realized how beautiful the apples were. He now tells me he wants to work here some day.

golden apples

We came home with bags of Empire, Golden Delicious and Jona Free apples.

We sampled each one on the drive home.

They were all excellent.

grapes

The orchard also has several different types of grapes that you can pick. The vines were loaded and we brought home a bag full of Concord grapes to make jam.

More on that soon!

mason bee house

I always enjoy seeing how professionals find ways to use sustainable gardening methods. This Mason Bee house was one of several along the orchard groves. The bees make there homes in here and pollinate the apples in the process. I love it!

black sheep

This farm raises black Welsh sheep. They sell their wool for yarn and you can buy fresh mutton, although I can’t imagine eating such a darling creature! They use the sheep to clean the orchards after the picking season is over. The animals eat the fallen apples and even find the weeds. Such smart farming!

Isn’t this ewe adorable? She quickly decided that I was not worth her time. She ran off to find someone who would feed her handfuls of grass.

black sheep grazing

I could get used to a view like this. I am quite sure that I must have been a shepherdess in another life.

Yup, sheep are my thing.

silo doors

Even the barns are so interesting. I love this round Silo with the rusty doors.

red barn

The red barns are so lovely. This one has a beautiful stone foundation.

Although we were just here, we have eaten almost all of the apples we picked. I guess we will just have to make another trip!

 

 

Spooky Succulent Garden

finished succulent garden

Halloween isn’t one of my favorite holidays.

However, I usually have one small decoration around this time of year.

This time, I made a Spooky Succulent Garden.

Succulents are about the spookiest thing I can think of.

They are sharp, odd shapes and colors, and have almost no roots. The best thing is that they require almost no care.

Supplies for garden2

I started with a saucer filled with cactus soil and some succulents that needed transplanting.

Supplies for garden

I came across these mini figurines at the Dollar Tree and I thought they would work great for this project. I had the crows left over from my decorations from last year, but I think they also came from the Dollar Tree.

in progress

To make the garden, I decided where to put the plants first. I wanted the “castle” to be the center of attention at the back of the tray and tried it out on a plastic container.  In the end, I decided to use a flower frog to put it on.  If you don’t have a frog, a plastic container would still work. Then I placed the trees, sticking them down into the soil to anchor them.

placing the plants

I purchased black aquarium gravel at Walmart to make the plants stand out and give the entire garden that spooky appearance. I removed the castle because I wanted it to sit on top of the soil along with the other figurines. I put the gravel over the soil, and patted it in place.

macro spooky succulents

I placed the castle on top of the soil next. The castle is sitting on a flower frog that I covered with floral moss for a bit of spooky, dead grassy interest. A few topiary pins hold it into place. If you use a plastic container, you will have to glue the moss on the container.

All these supplies came from the Dollar Tree.

I love the little crow in the tree, he is my favorite. I also love the pink Where-wolf, he cracks me up! Did you know Where-wolves wore pink? Neither did I!

At any rate, the colors in the figurines work well with the succulents.

birds eye view

A few wisps of spider web, and a couple of little black spiders make the display complete. I added a few extra rocks, just to make things interesting.

finished succulent garden

Spooky garden porch

Perhaps this little garden is not so spooky after all. Our giant squeaky rat and the Mamma crow stand guard over the succulents on our porch.

Thanks for stopping by!

I made it to week two of the So You Think Your Crafty contest! Thanks for all your support! The overall winner of this weeks competition is featured on SYTYC today. More projects to come, there are 7 more weeks to go!

 

Azaleas in Bloom

Autumn Sunset

This is a sponsored post, any opinions given are completely my own.

An exciting thing happened this week, the Southern Living Encore Azaleas began blooming! I was thrilled to see they are thriving after being in the ground a short time. If you remember, Southern Living sponsored this post earlier in the spring.

My plants are still in the early stages of development, and they are rather petite right now. That’s okay with me, I know they will do great things.

buds

I planted the azaleas according to the directions, and they have thrived all summer. We had steady rain this year, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of extra time watering which was nice.

The plants are covered with blossoms, I have been watching them every day waiting for them to bloom.

fertilizer

 

The biggest trick to being successful with Azaleas, is using a good fertilizer. I like the type that you just sprinkle down in the hole before you plant. Then you can add a bit more on the surface as needed. coffee grounds

My other secret ingredient, is coffee grounds. Lots of them!redAdd them to the roots of your plants about once a week. Azaleas like acidic soil, and it’s a great natural boost for your plants.

pink

I am thrilled to see that these blooms look just like the ones on the tag! I no longer have to sneak into my neighbors yard to covet his Azalea blossoms. This pink variety is called Autumn Twist.

red

It won’t be long and my neighbors will be sneaking into my yard to covet my beautiful Azaleas!

Thank you Southern Living!

Planted Chicken Coop

Finished red coop

I miss my chickens. The yard is so quiet without them around. The coop has sat lonely in the back yard for nearly a year. I decided it needed some flowers.

DSCN5086

 

If you recall, we built the coop from plans that we purchased on Ebay.  You can read more details about it here. It has been a focal point in the yard ever since.

Last fall, we had problems with raccoons and birds of prey in our yard. We lost 3 chickens, and decided to give the other two away in order to keep them from being eaten.

Sometimes, being a pet owner is hard.

designerssweetspot.blogspot.com

 

My sweet Alfredo and Barbie-que would approve of the new decor.

Finished red coop

The coop was planted with 3 plastic window boxes that I screwed into the top of the the roof. I filled them with Miracle Grow soil, and plants that I purchased at 75% off retail.

I am always looking for a good deal. It cost only $10.00 for the geraniums, vinca vines, marigolds, and dahlias that filled the boxes.

They will bloom until frost, as long as they are dead headed and watered regularly.

I am looking forward to getting some more hens next spring!

Adieu!

Chemical Free Paint Remover

 

 

after photo

This post is sponsored by Home Right. Any opinions given are completely my own.

I have had this vintage sap bucket for a long time. I have used it for lots of different things, but mostly for holding flowers.  I had painted it numerous times over the years, but haven’t used it much as of late.

I was tired of the painted look and I wanted to bring back the galvanized look it had originally. The thing is, I HATE chemical paint strippers. I have used them many times, and I just refuse to use them any more. Have you ever used paint stripper? It’s nasty! The acid burns your skin, your eyes water, it smells horrible and most of the time you need to reapply multiple coats to get rid of each layer of paint. It is hard to scrape off, time consuming work, smelly, and expensive stuff to use. Not to mention toxic, I am sure!

before

This is what the bucket looked like before I stripped it, pretty tired looking. The paint was peeling off and just looked BAD. I came across this heat gun recently at a blogger’s conference.  I was thrilled when I saw what it can do, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Thank you Home Craft!

materials for paint removal

 

The heat gun gets really hot, between 800 and 1000 degrees. Because of this, I decided this was a project best done outside. If you aren’t careful you can actually ignite things when you are using it, so it pays to be cautious. I used heavy leather work gloves to protect my hands (protective eyewear is also recommended) and a metal scraper to help remove the paint. I worked on an old metal cellar door that wouldn’t be damaged from the high heat.  I had planned on scraping the paint chips from the bucket into this plastic container, but due to the odd shape of my project, I couldn’t hold the bucket with out it rolling, hold the heat gun, scrape the bucket and clean up the paint all at once, so I didn’t really use it.

It’s a good thing I was outside.

 

during paint removal

 

I used the gun on the high setting, 1000 degrees. Can you believe it? Incredible!  The gun heats up fast and blistered the layers of paint in no time.  Then it was easy to scrape it off. I deliberately didn’t scrape it completely clean, I like the vintage look it has with a bit of paint still on it.

finished bucket

 

I love how the bucket turned out, I like the aged blue/green patina from the different colors of paint. You would think that it was purposely decorated this way, not merely an accident!

Bucket close up

Hummmm, maybe I will have to paint and strip more things like this????

Macro flowers

The bucket now looks pretty amazing with flowers. I especially love it with pink.

after photo

 

I know I am going to use my Home Right Heat Gun for lots of other things! It’s a smart choice for organic chemical free alternative to commercial paint strippers.

There are also fun crafts you can do with this heat gun, I will be experimenting with those as well!

Have a lovely day!