Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting Plants from Seeds - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

A few weeks ago I talked about getting your yard ready for spring. While it is a great time to rake, clean up the debris of winter, and cultivate soil for our gardens, it may not be wise to put out new plants just yet. There is still some risk of frost, therefore it is best to wait for a couple of weeks. You can however get a head start by planting your seeds indoors, and allowing them to grow for a couple of weeks indoors before transplanting.

Tools You’ll Need
Seeds of your choice
Peat Moss Pots
Plant Marker Posts
Large Container for Pots—I used an aluminum roasting pan
Small Watering Can
Plant Food (optional)

Getting Started
All plants will have somewhat varying instructions for planting. These should be printed on the back of the packages of seeds. Be sure to read through these carefully before you begin. This year I chose to plant beans, peas, carrots, cucumbers, and rosemary. I noted when reading through that peas are actually safe to plant directly outdoors, prior to last frost. All others were planted in pots according to their directions.

Next, decide how many pots of each seed you wish to do. Using your sharpie, label the peat moss pot to easily identify the plants later.

Fill your peat moss pots with soil. Plant seeds according to the package directions. Top with soil as needed. Place pots in the container you’ve chosen (as I mentioned, I simply picked up an aluminum roasting pan and arranged my pots in there). Lightly water the seeds, and place indoors in the sunniest location.

Caring for Your Seeds
Water your seeds daily. After a few days, the seeds will start to germinate. Once you start to see some signs of plant-life, you can use some plant food if you like. Allow a couple of weeks for the plants to grow to a reasonable size before moving outdoors, ensuring that the chances of frost are minimal. The beauty of the peat moss pots is that these can be planted directly into the soil, no transferring required. Plant according to directions on the seed packages again, careful to lay out the plants based on available sunlight and their needs. For plants that grow into the ground, such as carrots, poke a few holes in the bottom of the pot to allow it to break through easily. Continue to water regularly. By summer, you’ll have a thriving, healthy garden!

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Monday, April 19, 2010

How To Make a Simple Spring Door Hanger - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

I often see some fun door hangers for spring, but always find that they’re just not quite the right size, or colour. This year, getting inspiration from my budding tulips and daffodils, I decided to try my hand at making my own. This was a lot of fun to make, incredibly inexpensive, and really quite easy. This is a project that could even be done with older kids (age 8 and up).

Tools You’ll Need
This is really up to you, depending on how you would like to decorate your wreathe, but I have listed what I used (all of which were simply purchased at the dollar store), and you can feel free to modify to your style:

Kraft Wire String
Ribbon (2 different complimentary colours)
Artificial flowers
Craft Butterfly
Glue Gun

Making The Wreath
Now that you’ve selected your tools, start by making the wreath. To do this, I first made a circle to the size I wanted out of the kraft wire. Then I looped it again to double it, and then I wrapped the wire around the length of the circle, to give it stability. Then, I detached my flowers from their “stems”. The pink flowers were actually a part of a wreath already, but cut them off at their ends still. Next, I attached two of the larger flowers to what would become my outer two edges of the wreath. To attach, simply wrap a piece of kraft wire around the stem, and around the wire wreath (see picture at right). Next, wrap the whole wreath in one of the ribbons that you’ve chosen. I chose the green lace, and decided it would make the most sense to do this before attaching the remaining flowers. Use the glue gun to secure the lace to the wreath in it’s last loop around. Wrapping the lace in this way provided the wreath with even more stability, and gave it a great background colour to work with. Continue to attach flowers and/or butterflies or other accessories with kraft wire around the wreath until it is as full as you desire.

The Finishing Touches
As a final touch, I loosely wrapped the sheer pink ribbon around the entire wreath, careful not to fully cover any of the flowers. I used the same lace to tie a loop at the top for hanging. This is now proudly displayed on my front door to welcome guests!

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Monday, April 12, 2010

Creating The Outdoor Experience - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

Yesterday afternoon, while I should have been writing my Around The House Tip of the Week, I was instead drawn to the outdoors. It really is hard to resist enjoying the sunshine, and soaking up a little vitamin D. Though it is a typical spring day, with the sun mixed with a cool breeze, it’s not quite summer yet. In fact, it is just the beginning of spring, and while I was working on preparing my yard and gardens, I thought of how I could further improve my yard and make it an inviting “room” for entertaining. Manufacturers and retailers have really focused on outdoor entertaining, and provide solutions to all your entertaining needs. Regardless of your budget, you can create an outdoor retreat to enjoy for all as long as the season allows.

The Backyard Bartender
Every time I visit a sunny southern destination, I consider picking up and moving, and becoming a beach bartender. While that may be a far-off dream, I can certainly enjoy creating some tropical cocktails in my own backyard. Having been a bartender for over a decade, the bartender in me has dreams of a custom built and well-designed outdoor bar. If you decide to go with custom built, be sure to hire the right professionals to take care of the plumbing and electrical. Consider combining your grill and your bar, for the full entertaining experience. While custom-designed is always a great idea, it may not be the most practical, especially if you spend very few months of the year entertaining outdoors, as you’ll need to ensure that any outdoor permanent fixtures are protected from the elements in the winter months. There are however many great portable outdoor bars available with great functionality, but also give you the option of moving into a shed or garage in inclement weather.

Create The Mood
Want the warmth of a fire, without the hassle of collecting wood, starting the fire, and then maintaining it? Not to mention the smell of campfire that sticks to your hair and clothes for days (mmm...campfire). While not a new concept in outdoor entertaining, there is a greater selection than ever now of outdoor fire bowls, such as the Venetian Fire Bowl from Canadian Tire (pictured at right). There are lots to choose from these days, ranging from tabletop size, to full size. You can even get a gas fire pit (pictured left). These are operated on propane, and are portable enough to be place almost anywhere in your yard. They help to provide heat on a cool night, as well as create a warm ambience.

The Outdoor Living...Room
Decorating your outdoor room can be done with the same concepts in mind as decorating indoors. Look for inviting furniture with colours that compliment the surroundings, and create an enjoyable atmosphere for the activities that you enjoy outdoors. Look for durability and functionality, as well as comfort, for a room that you can enjoy all season long.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes