Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve plan!

It's New Year's Eve today, do you have any plans? As for me, I will be making a steamboat/ hot pot* dinner for our family of three to celebrate the new year!

Whether it is watching the fireworks or attending a new year party, I hope you have lots of fun ushering into the new year! Thank you for sticking around and following my blog, my fabulous readers! Let me know what your New Year's Eve plans are in the comment box below.

Happy New Year's Eve, my lovelies!

*Steamboat/ hot pot is similar to a fondue. A large pot is filled with boiling broth and raw meats and vegetables. Each person can cook whatever they choose in the broth. Meats and vegetables are usually dipped in various sauces (usually store bought sauces or homemade sauces).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest post- Creating a holiday-themed garden!

This post is brought to you by Sam Peters.

The holiday season is the one time of year that nearly everyone ‘gets into’ the idea of decorating. However, not everyone likes to stick with the expected and traditional ways of decorating. Some people like to experiment with new things, they enjoy being unique. A holiday-themed garden can be an out-of-the-ordinary way to indulge in both, traditional and non-traditional holiday fun.

Choosing the Spot

A holiday garden doesn’t have to be in the garden. That is, a deck, patio, or even a covered porch or carport can be turned into a holiday-themed garden. Of course, if you happen to have a beautiful evergreen tree in your yard, you may want to build the holiday garden around that.

The idea is to choose a spot that allows you to create your own version of a holiday garden. This might mean creating a winter wonderland or your personal idea of what Christmas should look like. The more creative you are with your ideas, the more unique your holiday garden will be.

Wherever you decide to create the garden, you should include a mix of both traditional and nontraditional elements. But keep in mind, you should do things your own way. For example, you could use an old door to create an ‘entryway’ to your open-air garden. The door can be propped against a tree or a fence or other stable outdoor item. Live wreaths hung on the door will add to the whimsical touch.

In fact, you could turn a typical wreath into a birth-feeding station. Making pine cone birdfeeders is easy. Just cover a few pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed. You can use holiday ribbon to tie the pine cones to the bottom of your wreaths. Allowing these to hang at various lengths will create an elegant look and you will soon have lots of feathered guests pecking at your door.

From the Ground Up

You can create flooring for your holiday garden in a variety of ways. Since a snow machine can be quite expensive you may want to improvise a snow covered ground effect. Just spread quilt batting over the area. From a distance this will look like real snow. Snowmen can be created out of large Styrofoam balls.

Decorative Touches

Garland can be hung along fences and railings. Outdoor trees can be decorated just like indoor Christmas trees. However, you should keep in mind that these decorations will be exposed to the weather. With that in mind you may want to choose only heavier decorations or those that can be tied onto the tree with wire. Handmade holiday decorations are perfect for a holiday garden.

Plants are an easy way to create a great holiday garden. You can use real plants or artificial ones. Christmas cactus and poinsettias are traditional holiday plants. But you don’t have to stop with traditional plants. Even palm trees and grapevines can be decorated with holiday-inspired adornments.

Creating a holiday-themed garden is a wonderful way to express yourself. Each year you can add new ideas to the best ones from the past. You may just find that celebrating the holidays outdoors is more fun than being inside.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guest post- Top garden DIY projects!

This post is brought to you by Edel Flood.

If you fancy trying out a little DIY, the garden is a great place to start - not least because you do not run the risk of damaging the inside of your house if things do not quite go to plan! But where should you begin? I have put together a quick list of what I think some of the most interesting and useful projects are.

Repair work

Before you get started building weird and wonderful garden furniture, it is worth starting with something a little lighter - especially if you are new to DIY. If you own a low-cost garden shed, this is a pretty good place to begin.

Sheds are such useful spaces, but nine times of ten we let them become filled up with junk and as a result, fall out of use. If that sounds familiar, it is time to reclaim your shed!

First things first, empty it completely (yes, this is necessary). Throw out anything you have not used for a few years or that has seen better days and really can not be salvaged. Next, dust and sweep the shed, checking for any potential problem areas, like damp, rot or evidence of vermin.

Do not forget to look out for roofing issues too. If you spot any damaged felt, strip it off and replace it as soon as you can. Once you have dealt with any issues you have found, you can start putting things back in - just remember to invest in some decent storage solutions so it does not get in the same state again!

Compost bins

These days, growing your own fruits and vegetables is becoming more popular, so I thought I would include a few projects that will help you improve your garden. The first of project is making a compost bin. You can fashion one of these out of four standard wooden pallets, with three making the walls and one acting as a gate, so you can easily add waste and remove your compost.

Before you start, clear your chosen spot and, if the ground is not level, even it out. The first pallet should be stood on its long edge to act as a back, and be fixed into the ground with stakes (aim to drive these around 30 cm deep). The next two pallets should be positioned at right angles to this one, making the sides of the bin. Fix these in place with both stakes and wire for stability.

Lastly, simply wire the final pallet to the right side of the bin and voila! This will act as a door and completes your project.

Raised vegetable beds

Continuing the grow-your-own theme, I have chosen raised vegetable beds as my last top DIY project. One of the simplest ways to make these is to buy and interlock four scaffolding boards.

First of all, if there is any metal banding at the edges (there most likely will be) you need to grab some pliers and remove this. Then, you need to cut the boards to size. Current wisdom says beds should not be any bigger than 2.3 m x 1.6 m, since larger ones become a bit difficult to tend.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest post- Clear some space!

This post is brought to you by Sam Peters.

Once or twice a year, it is good to do a thorough cleaning and clearing of the home. The best time for you to do this may vary. Many like to clear up space in the house right before the holidays, in the early spring or after a garage sale. Careful planning makes the process go more smoothly and more quickly. Collect supplies, such as boxes, plastic storage bins, adhesive tape, moving containers, and labels or felt tip markers in advance.

The Interior

It is easiest to clear the home room by room; that way, if you are not finished by the end of the day, only one room will be messy, rather than the whole house. If you have several people living in your home, each could be responsible for one room or one could be responsible for packing up items and the other could be responsible for cleaning the room afterward.

Label one box as “trash” or purchase a small trash bin for items that you are going to throw away. Label another box as “charity” for items that you may donate to a charity or to friends. Label other boxes or plastic bins according to their contents – for example, “winter clothing,” “holiday decorations,” or “magazines.”

Go through all drawers, shelves and closets in the room first. When you find items that you have not used for over a year, ask yourself if you really need to hold onto it. Heirloom items, such as your grandmother’s jewelry, can be placed in a safe or a safety deposit box. Old mobile phones, a costume bracelet no one wears and many other items can be donated or recycled in other ways.

After you have tackled the small items, take a good look at the larger things, such as exercise equipment, old tools, old coats, and old toys. Consider selling or donating anything that you feel you can part with. Many people have items just collecting dust around the home. Keep items that have sentimental value or that you are sure you will use, and get rid of the rest.

If you are clearing the house in preparation for a move, get an early start. You can use moving containers and pack your household items in those as you go.

The Exterior

Keeping the landscape clear and neat makes you a better neighbor and prevents mice, snakes and other small animals from moving into the yard. If you are a gardener, keeping your garden area tidy is important for pest control and disease control. Garden pests prefer to inhabit areas where there is plant debris and other material to hide beneath. Plant diseases can proliferate wherever there is rotting organic matter.

Mow the yard and prune back all trees and bushes at this time, before you start clearing up debris, so that you do not have to double back.

Have a rake, a wheelbarrow, a shovel and a garbage bin handy in the area. For scooping up dry leaves and plant debris, a wide plastic snow shovel works well. Do a small area at a time so that it doe not feel overwhelming.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation in return for publishing this article.