from coffee pot to flower pot

I love flowers and am always on the lookout for fun ways to display them. So, imagine my delight when I found this great little coffee pot while digging around a secondhand shop. It’s from an old hotel in Ireland and is very solid silverplate. I knew immediately it would make a great vase — not too big, not too small, with an opening just the right size for a good bunch of flowers.

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I was not disappointed. First, I made a quick trip to my local farmer’s market, which resulted in this gorgeous selection of fresh blooms.

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I then cut the stems (diagonally, under running water), trimmed the leaves, added some sugar and water to the coffee pot … and voilà, a beautiful, easy, and inexpensive arrangement!

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Cheers!
Nicole

before & after: backyard overhaul

Just in time for summer, our massive backyard overhaul is done!

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What once was a weedy, overgrown, under-used space is now our family’s perfect spot for outdoor fun. I’m already planning a backyard fête for July, but am just as happy simply having a place to kick the soccer ball around with my son. And though I still have a few more plantings to put in — mosquito-repelling lavender around the brick patio, some sun-loving perennials (maybe yarrow or black-eyed Susan) along the side wall — the major work has been done. The rest is just icing on the cake. Here are some before and after shots, so you can see for yourself.

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This is the view from the back deck. On the right, you see a forest of juniper. Near the center is the old trellis, which took up way too much valuable real estate in our yard. It came down pretty quickly. Happily, someone else wanted the roses. We didn’t want them, but still hated thinking that they would go to waste. Now the roses have a new home.

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The broken cement walkway in the yard was another eyesore, as was the shabby, ivy-covered chain link fence on the left side (not that the white horse fence along the back was much better).

imageMidway through the project. All the patchy grass, ivy, and overgrown juniper have been removed and are headed for the mulch pile. The new fence is coming up. I’m dreaming of playing bocce ball. Everything is looking good.

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And voilà! The new view from the back deck, showing the fresh sod and new fence. (The fence has a gate, by the way. It’s just open right now.) You can’t even tell that a cement walkway was there.

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It feels like we gained an extra 10 square feet of yard after removing all the overgrowth. And the plantings we have will really stand out, like the camellias that still surround the elm tree; they were a bit lost before. The lavender will go alongside the brick (visible on the bottom left), which will also bring some lovely color and scent. There’s even room for a raised garden bed in one corner, which I hope to build with some left over pallets.

All three of us — me, Mr. M, and the Kid — are super happy with the outcome. Thanks so much to The Greener Side for helping us get it together!

Outdoor living, here we come!

Cheers,

Nicole

before & after: silverplate server

One task that is definitely on my “chores-I-don’t-enjoy” list is cleaning silver and silverplate. Most silver polish smells and all that rubbing and polishing can become tiring. Despite my aversion, however, I still cannot pass up interesting silver pieces when I see them — even if it’s in a terrible state like this:

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I found this vintage Italian silverplate server at an estate sale among a ragtag assortment of forks, knives, and spoons. I had a suspicion it would clean up nicely following a good rub with my initial cleaning solution (vinegar, salt, and flour), followed up with store bought silver polish. And it didn’t disappoint:

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The whole process took about 30 minutes. So, the next time your out and about, don’t automatically pass up a potential find, thinking that it’s permanently tarnished or too difficult to clean. Sometimes you can uncover a hidden gem.

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Happy hunting!

Nicole