I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I wanted to make new Autumn Wreaths for this Halloween; A how to fabric & wire wreaths

I made two new wreaths this year... my old Halloween wreaths were getting shabby. Instructions on how to make an easy wreath.
Daytime photo above, nighttime photo below.

Note: For how to convert these Autumn wreaths to Thanksgiving, see blog: http://lisakramerartlifestyle.blogspot.com/2011/11/autumn-thanksgiving-wreaths-easy-how-to.html
Double duty for these easy wire wreaths, multiple holidays in one! Ta Da!

Supplies needed:
Two wire wreaths:
About 5 different fabrics in autumn or halloween colors, Here are the ones that I chose pictured in the above photo with my cat, Bagheera. I decided on two darker ones, and three lighter. My little helper fits in well with the holiday theme. Both cats loved helping me cut the strips, lol anything string like and they are right in the middle of whatever I am doing.

Pinking sheers.

Two wooden welcome plaques for halloween greetings (handmade by using acrylic paint on wood or store bought). While shopping at Kroger yesterday, I noted some very cute wooden welcome plaques for $2.59. They would work really well. I didn't buy them to show you, because I already had these two plaques ready to go.
Small halloween items like my 2 small candelabra's.
Any Halloween decore will work. Pumpkins, ghosts, black cats or go really scary. Whatever is your favorite type of "welcome".

Wire, see the wire holding the candelabra:

Some type of halloween garland. (Optional).
The garland I used can be made (It's just beads on wires and brown florist tape on the wire) or you can use store bought garlands of any halloween kind. ;-)

I took down my summer wreaths today and put up the new autumn ones.

First I had to pick out fabric that I thought looked like autumn colors. It does not matter what is on the fabric. What you choose is more based on color, or what you just have on hand. Hum, my shelf is messy, looks like the kids were in here. ;-)

I chose these three fabrics to start:
Take pinking sheers to cut out strips of fabric because the sawtooth instead of a straight edge will prevent fraying of the material. It looks like a small zigzag edge. I cut eleven inch strips. Basically a bolt of fabric cut horizontal and with that long strip, cut in half, making two strips.
See the fold in the fabric? Cut in that direction once, getting a strip of about 22 inches long, and then cut that in half is the easiest way to do it... but it does not matter how you obtain your strips.
I chose and cut three lighter shade fabrics of orange, yellow, and red.

Two wire wreath frames can be obtained from any craft store. I purchased these from Michaels:
Begin by tying strips onto inner circle. Starting with the smallest circle, use six strips for section. Just fold strip over like this:
Then simply tie it once, no need to knot it. Note the horizontal wire separating sections.
Six Strips, wire one.
Now all three colors are on the wire, repeating a pattern, each section has six strips, two strips of each fabric print. Alternate the three fabrics:
First wire, inner circle done. Now ready to move to second wire ring.

My other cat, Mooshu taking a break from "helping" me with the fabric strips. Cutting the strips with his whiskers in the way was a task, lol.
Seven strips, wire two.
Cutting darker two fabric's into strips so I can now alternate five differnt fabrics. You can use as many different fabrics that you chose, 1 to 10... there is no wrong way. Now I am ready to begin ring two. Alternating pattern with seven strips, (increasing by one strip per section because ring is getting bigger).
Begining with wire two:
Working on wire two I am alternating the lighter and darker fabrics into a consistent pattern. It does not matter the pattern you choose to repeat.
Wire two finished and starting to work on ring wire three; I will be using eight strips now.
Bagherra still helping. He looks so Halloween. I bought him a skeleton costume last year, but it was too small. Both cats have been on a diet due to the over weight factor, lol.

Eight strips, wire three.
Wire three finished:

I'm using the cats to break up the monotomy of this How-To. Lol, They are intermissions:
See those long white whiskers? While cutting the fabric strips, he would get his face right up to the sheers while I was trying to cut, --so that he could play or see what what going on, lol! Big helpers with most projects. Pets are fun.
Nine strips, wire four (outside wire).
Now on to ring four. Use nine strips:
Working on last wire in this picture above.
Finishing last wire four, see outside ring almost completed.
Back side of one finished wreath.
The next step is to poke all the strips to one side of the wreath, leaving the back side without all the hanging strips.
Now do it all again to a second wire wreath:
After poking them all to one side, you can add your decorations by using any type of wire. I used two guages; a thinner gauge for the candelabra, because the hole at the top was so small.

One of the plaques:
The candelabra, garland and plaque I used on the "Spook" wreath can all be seen in this one picture:

Bagherra intently watching the wreath process. He is wanting attention, a lap cat, lol.
Spook Wreath:

Picture more blurry in this one, but it is lighter... the candelabra and garland are more visible here:

Here are close up pictures of the other "Boo" wreath's decorations:
Boo Wreath:
Just wrap the garland around the wreath, securing wired ends inside the back of the frame:

These decorations can be changed after halloween --just take off whatever you added for the holiday, --leaving the autumn wreath decorations up until Thanksgiving. Add a turkey, pilgrim, horn, corn, or acorn, lol...yes, I'm in rhyme to be silly. Or just leave the wreath in simple autumn colors.
You can handpaint your own wooden plaque or buy one. Today I saw some adorable plaques at Kroger for $2.59 each. They would be perfect for this project. I already had these ready to go, so I didn't purchase them.
The two finished wreaths, Boo!

Bagherra and my son say, "Happy Halloween to you." Hoping it holds more treats than tricks!

Fyi: another blog I did on all kinds of wreaths: http://lisakramerartlifestyle.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-make-valentine-wreath-for-your.html --Easy ideas for many different types of wreaths.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winter Garden Time! Today I began the change from summer to a winter garden.

I have been planning my winter garden. The seasonal change is upon us and I am changing out the old garden for a new winter friendly one.
This is our asparagus plants, with basil near them. I let them go to seed so that the roots get feed for next years' crop. They are 4 year old mature plants now. Next year should be a great production season for them. They will stay in the ground over the winter to rebloom into asparagus shoots for cutting in the spring. Yum.
Yummy!!! So worth the work to grow these babies. They are expensive in the grocery store. If you can be patient with them the first three years. The first year I did not cut any of these shoots, letting them grow to feed the roots. The second and third year I took some, but stopped midway in the season. This last year we ate alot more of the green goodness.
Now this coming year, I will feel free to take these shoots until the end of the season. Because it is all about the root system and mature plants have well developed roots.
Planting Seeds for fall and winter garden in Aug. or Sept.
Today, I was sowing seed for a new winter crop. The kale that you see here will regrow, but I like to plant fresh seed too. The darker dirt is where the new seeds are. A tall basil can be seen too.
Just look on the seed packets to see how long they need to germinate. The crop needs to be harvestable before the first frost.

Today I was baking squash seeds that I added salt, pepper and olive oil to for eating. And I started drying out some of them to plant next spring. Delicata squash is my favorite squash, we make alot of it this time of year. Here are the seeds from one of the extra yummy squashes that we ate:
I just lay them out to dry:
Once they are dry, place them in a bag or jar of rice and store for up to two years. These will not be in the winter crop because they need up to 110 days to mature into squash.
A winter harvest of onions and various greens.

Herbs that grow well in winter:
Rosemary is one plant that is in the evergreen family. It will survive the winter and it will provide you with the tasty herb thoughout the cold season.
Sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary will last the entire winter. Clipping them will just encourage new growth. This one just sits in an above the ground container next to my deck.

I like to add colorful ornamental peppers to my fall arrangements. I read that they are edible, but that they are almost to hot to eat. I have never attempted it... I just love their color. They will not survive a winter, but are great for the fall.
This white cabbage adds to the cabbage display that is only safe from deer (a large problem for me) if I spray it with deer off. It is safe from the cold winter months. Cabbages and the evergreen family are winter friendly plants.
Purple ornamental Cabbage adds alot of color to a drab winter.

Plants like my lime tree, I drag into the house for the winter:
Oriental vegetables are very cold resistant. They are very hardy. Pak Choi is one of my favorite.
This year I had a problem with bugs eating my produce; you can see how they eat the leaves in the above pic. At the end of this blog, --I will discuss tips on getting rid of those pesky insects.
See the basil at the top... I have it growing everywhere, but it will not survive outside in the cold winter. I will have to grow it inside. Rapini or Broccoil Raab grows well in the winter.
Raini or Broccoli Raab is a tasty green treat thoughout the winter, so is brussel sprouts. This year, I am not doing a brussel sprout crop. But, they do just as well as cabbage in a winter garden.

Spinach! Another staple for us.
Winter Spinach bed.
Winter Spinach sits next to the green onions. Both do very well in a cold climate garden.

Kale is my favorite green leafy vegetable. It is a hardy one that will be as cold hardy as your Mustard Greens.
This is how the onions and kale look after surviving a full winter. Last year I had so much left over that I had to harvest my crop before planting my spring garden.
I like to grow Swiss Chard because it is my second favorite green leafy vegetable.

There are a few plants that can be fun. I plant purple potatoes, easter egg colored radishes and the many colored Swiss Chard.
This is the yellow Swiss Chard.
 I grow the green variety, but I also grow the different colors to have fun with it!
This is the rainbow variety of Swiss Chard.
Then there are the really colorful, five color variety of Swiss Chard! --Kinda resembles the red rubbard from my childhood.
This is a section of my Swiss Chard that the deer got to.

Root Vegetables:
Here you can see Golden Beets, Red Beets and Red Spring Onions. I have learned that I prefer the red beets over the golden, so I will most likely not grow the yellow variety anymore. However, for salads they make a nice colorful dish.
Beets are a great winter crop. You can grow all colors.
Carotts, beets and radishes are root vegetables that are considered winter crops. They grow underground, so it kinda just makes since.
Carrots just pulled up after a long winter, that were extra before washing them.
They are a great winter crop item.
I love Collard Greens! Not only are they delish, but they are winter hardy plants too.
You can let the leaves get large, or cut them small:

Then there are the more colorful varieties:
Red Mustard Greens are very hardy. In the colder season's there are fewer plants blooming with color. These edible tasty greens are pretty and ornamental to look at.
Mustard Greens in the summer look like this. They are really hardy and are fine through colder seasons.
This is what the mustard greens look like if they are not cut. If cut, they just grow new growth. They are very forgiving.
Arugula is a must have lettuce for me. I love this peppery lettuce for sandwiches!
Sometimes I simply put arugula on individual plates; then place whatever meat I cooked (fish, chicken, etc) on top of the leaves. They become wilted and the drippings off the meat make a dressing. Eating this peppery green with the meat provides another layer of flavor. ;-)

Note the marigolds. I do not plant them every year because I think they are pretty. Why plant marigolds on the edge of edible plants?
Why do I plant marigolds in my vegetable garden?
Marigolds are easy to grow and they help keep the away aphids.The relationship between plants and insects is known as ‘companion planting.’ it’s by far the safest, natural way to garden organically.” My mom has been sharing with me the tips of Indiana farmers since I was a kid.
 My mother and the Farmers Almanac have provided tricks for gardeners to outsmart their pesky unwelcomed bug occupants.

Plants That Naturally Repel Insects:
Ø Peppermint repels ants, white cabbage moths, aphids, and flea beetles.
Ø Garlic discourages aphids, fleas, Japanese beetles, and spider mites.
Ø Perennial Chives repel aphids and spider mites.
      Chives are often planted among roses to keep aphids away and to resist the disease, Blackspot.
Ø Basil drives away flies and mosquitoes.
I place basil thoughout the yard and gardens. This is the tomato patch that the deer ate most of. You can see one canalope left.
Ø Borage deters that monster of vegetable garden insects, the tomato hornworm.
This is what the hornworms did to one of my tomato plants. They eat every green leaf until you kill or relocate them.
Ø Rosemanry and Sage repel cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies.
Ø Annual Marigolds can be used anywhere to deter Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes (soil dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses, and strawberries. The root of the Marigold produces a chemical that kills nematodes as they enter the soil. If a whole area is infested, at the end of the season, turn the Marigolds under so the roots will decay in the soil. You can safely plant there again the following spring.
Ø Nasturtium is another annual, in this case a trailing vine, that keeps away Potato bugs, squash bugs, and whiteflies.
Ø The perennial, Artemisia or Wormwood deters slugs that are so devastating to foliage.
Ø Radishes can be planted to discourage cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and stink bugs.

Attracting Good Insects To Your Garden:
Plant certain vegetables, herbs, or flowers in your garden to attract predatory insects that will feed on the harmful, undesirable ones.
Perennial Yarrow…attracts ladybugs that consume masses of aphids. The preying mantis is my favorite bug because not only are they just really cool looking, but they eat their weight in the bugs that consume your garden! I have purchased eggs of both ladybugs and preying mantis to begin my year more bug free.
The lacewing that feeds on aphids, mealy bugs, mites, and scale needs lots of pollen from flowers and evergreens for shelter. This is why I surround my vegetable garden area with boxwoods. They also give the garden a more pleasant look to it. Sometimes vegetables are not as pretty, so I try to make them appealing to the eye. Wasps and bees are also beneficial to the garden. When you create a natural balance in your garden you’ll discover how much better everything grows and you won’t need to worry about damaging the environment.

Ideal Planting Companions For Vegetables:
  • Beans-like celery and cucumbers but dislike onions and fennel. 
  • Beets are compatible with bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi and most members of the cabbage family. Keep pole beans and mustard away from them.
  • Cabbage, celery, dill, onions, and potatoes are good companion plants. Dislikes include strawberries, tomatoes, and pole beans.
  • Carrots, lettuce, radish, onions, and tomatoes are friends. Dill isn’t, so plant it at the other end of the garden.
There are so many different kinds of lettuce to choose from. I regrow, reseed all year long. It does well in a cold weather garden too.
  • Corn prefers to be near pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, and potatoes. Keep tomatoes away.
  • Cucumbers like sweet corn, peas, radishes, beans, and sunflowers. Dislikes include aromatic herbs and potatoes.
Our cucumber patch is done for the year.
  • Lettuce grows especially well with onions. They are also compatible with strawberries, carrots, radishes, and cucumbers.
I just planted more lettuce seeds; salads are a staple for me, so I keep the cycle of growing going on this green leafy stuff.
  • Onions can be planted near lettuce, beeroot, strawberries, and tomatoes but keep well away from peas and beans.
  • Peas, carrots, cucumbers, sweet corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, and aromatic herbs are good companions. Keep peas away from onions, garlic, leek, and shallots.
  • Radish grows well with beetroot, carrots, spinach, parsnip, cucumbers, and beans. Avoid planting near cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or turnips.
  • Squash can be planted with cucumbers and corn.
  • Tomatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley are good companion plants. Basil improves growth and flavour. Keep cabbage and cauliflower away from them. It is nearing the end of tomato plant season. See parsley and basil growing on the sides.