“Truth behind Success”

I have been reading Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie. Which is a wonderful inspiration book on his successful shoe company TOMS and his One for One movement.{ see post 1/9/2012}

Starting fresh- “Start Something that Matters”

The first page of his book stets the stage of his mission and brings to light of our everyday life. It is his version of the famous poem “Success” by Bessie Anderson Stanley.  I read this poem every morning to appreciate everything I have and everything I have accomplished!


To laugh often and love much
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
endure the betrayal of false friends

To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition

To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Floral Arranging in Glass Containers 101

Even though the blooms have all faded in our gardens and winter is near, we can still draw inspiration from flowers.  I don’t know about you but there is something about beautiful colorful flowers that just warms my heart and makes me smile; no matter how cold and dreary the weather is outside.   I went to a workshop last night called “Flowers in Clear Glass Containers”.  And even though it is January and we still don’t have any snow in New England, the stores are stocked with plenty of wonderful flower choices that will add color, texture and brighten up any room.

Here are some helpful hints:


Joyce Chen Scissors– they are expensive but worth the investment {$25.95}

Florian hand pruners

Ratchet clippers

Wire cutters

Household scissors

Clear and green floral tape

Assorted wires: floral, decorative metal in colors, pipe cleaners, flock wire

Assorted stones, rocks, sea glass, sand

Oasis green and colors {put oasis in water, let float  and let submerge on its own, never submerge oasis with your hand to speed up the process you may get numberous air pockets}.

large round bowl filled with warm water– all plant material should be cut under water

lazy susan

[Note: never cross use your cutters i.e. don’t use your Joyce Chen Scissors to cut wire or ribbon it will dull the blade.}

Conditioning the flowers

This is one of the key components to the longevity of the flowers and foliage.  It is important to condition the flowers in warm water and cut floral food {Floralife Crystal Clear Flower Food} for at least 2-3 hours preferably over night and place in a cool spot. Remove all of the leaves on the stems.   You can also use a home remedy: for every quart of water, add two aspirin, a teaspoon of sugar, and a few drops of bleach (to reduce bacteria). One of the most common causes of wilting in cut flowers and foliage is the presence of an air lock in the stem, which is why conditioning is a vital part of the prep.

Arranging in various glass containers

Roses-In this arrangement  a yellow colored oasis was used  to help camiflouge any gaps within the  lemon slices.  The oasis was raised about 1 inch higher than the 5 inch square container to add height to the center of the arrangement.  The lemon slices were gently pushed down each side often times using a small dowel or carnaition stem.  Peel away one row of the outer layer of rose petals and remove all thorns, and strip any remaining leaves.

Plant Material: roses {yellow and cream}, seeded eucalyptus, variegated pittosporum, hypericum berries

Orchids-By just using a single stem with lots of blooms and a bunch of bear grass and a tall cylinder it can make quite a statement.


Amaryllis-2 key tricks….make a fresh cut at the bottom of the stem and plug with a cotton ball, it absorbs lots of water.  Since the stem is hollow, you can cut the stem lengthwise and put the double bulb in a tall vase with lots of water and the strips will start to curl and create a free flowing design.  A wonderful holiday trick.


CallaLily-What florist call the”One night stand”?  CallaLilies have a limited lifespan and generally only look their best for one day.  A unique feature is that you can stretch and bend the stem with just the warmth of your hand.  Since these flowers are show stoppers you don’t need a lot and can feature them in unusual containers.  This container had minimal water for just the stem and the flowers formed the outer edge of the round fish bowl.  Each bowl contained 2 flowers and than were stacked to make a center piece tower.

Agapanthus-A tall wonderful delicate flower which makes a powerful statement.  Six stems were combined with blue decorative wire two-thirds from the top and placed in a 4 inch cube container.  That container was inserted into a 6 inch container and surrounded with sea glass and seeded eucalyptus was added.

What tricks do you have and enjoy flowers all year long?

Starting fresh- “Start Something that Matters”

Start Something That Matters – Official Video Trailer

At the beginning of each year, I am always inspired with renewed energy to do something new or try something I have never done before.  I have always wanted and thought about what I could do to devote myself to a cause.   But that is the point I have always thought about it and never done anything about it until now.  I received the book  for Christmas  “Start Something That Matters” written by the founder of Toms Shoes Blake Mycoskie.  Blake has had a whirlwind past couple of years from a former reality show contestant, serial entrepreneur, his One for One movement, just to name a few.   The main object of the book is to inspire all of us to do something that “MATTERS”, make some impact on something or someone; he presents six simple steps for creating or transforming your own life and business.  Blake states, “I feel a deep sense of responsibility to share everything that we’ve learned from TOMS, so that others can learn from both our mistakes and the counterintuitive principles that have guided our success.”  The books shares his thoughts as well as others who are making an impact such as Scott Harrison founder of Charity:water and Lauren Bush founder of              FEED Projects.  It is time for all of us to step out of our FEAR ZONE and instead of thinking what we would do start DOING!

What are ways you want to give back and do something that matters?

“Love your work, work for what you love, and change the world—all at the same time.”

The dream Kitchen Renovation

Lets start the New Year off with a fresh start. And what better way than to share my neighbors’ major kitchen renovation which is spectacular. The kitchen and family room are the central focal points of the home which is now great for entertaining. They doubled the square footage of the kitchen, removed a wall to open into the family room and added a bright sunny breakfast area.

The palette focuses on the soft neutral putty custom cabinetry. Lots of details with contrast of materials were added which gives visual interest and architectural detail to the space. The rustic reclaimed barn wood looks original to the home, but also covers the existing steel support beam.

The large antique recylced glass cloche hanging lights define the custom maple wood island . The island has 2 refrigerator drawers as well as 2 snack drawers to make easy access for the kids.

The kitchen is retro fit with individual Thermador refrigerators and a freezer with twin Viking ovens in between. The homeowner chose lots of deep drawers as opposed to lower cabinetry. One great-added touch is the custom felt lined drawer for her grand mothers special silver. Hidden outlets underneath the upper cabinets are a wonderful feature which eliminates the need for the un-slightly outlet plates.

The counter tops are honed black granite and the chevron marble adds a unique back splash design.
The kitchen has an open cohesive feel, with stylish finishes, revolutionized antique lighting and modern everyday efficiency…..a kitchen lovers dream!

Ecards-send a holiday card with a cynical twist

People will buy over 1.5 billion holiday cards this year.  Why not put a new fun cynical spin on sending ecards to your friends and family.  Most ecards are general messages and lack honesty and humor.  Someecards have a unique honest message and topical humor, while sometimes features content that maybe considered offensive if taken seriously.  You know those thoughts you have but never say, they send that message for you.  Someecards offers free online greeting cards for all occasions.  Now you can send the message in a fun whimsical way to make your recipient laugh out loud!  The creators Brook Lundy and Duncan Mitchell worked in advertising together and launched the online company in 2007.  The cards are generally 1 sentence paired with  Victorian art and the best site tag line “when you care enough to hit send”.  Peace and Happiness to all!

DIY-six-pack pendant lights

Nate Berkus just featured the talented artist and life-long upcycler, Bao-Khang Luu of Relevedesign.com on his show today. Relevé Design transforms commonly discarded materials into new unique lighting, home accessories, and furniture. By injecting a hefty dose of design into upcycling, he makes beautiful and desirable objects that happen to be eco-friendly for the home.

Bao transforms discarded plastic six-pack rings  into modern, bold pendants while turning trash into one BIG BRIGHT IDEA. The designs are inspired by George Nelson’s iconic Bubble Lamps with a more modern eco twist. The plastic rings are joined together on used plastic take-out lid frames, old soda cans, twist ties and then are connected by a cord covered in a sleeve knit from plastic shopping bags. A beautiful diffuse light is emitted from energy-efficient LED’s, which let off little to no heat {which could melt the plastics}and have a long-lasting bulb life.

Relevé Design offers collections in limited edition. Each collection focuses on one type of discarded material upcycled into one type of object.  Check out Relevé Design’s blog he gives a great DIY tutorial. on how to make your own six-pack pendant light.  On my list of things to make this spring, share your designs with us!

The Well Seasoned Cast Iron Pan

Cast iron pans, one of the few pans that will last a lifetime. I received my great Aunt’s pan when I moved into my first apartment. It was old well seasoned and she said” You will cook many meals in this single pan, ENJOY”! I thought what will I do with this old iron pan, not knowing at the time the true GEM it was and still is with another 30 years of good use! Truly this pan could tell many cooking stories and is more than 75 years old!
All they need is a little TLC!

For best results, rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you need to remove burned-on food, scrub with a mild abrasive, like coarse sea salt, and a nonmetal brush to preserve the nonstick surface.

Use a few drops of a mild dishwashing soap every once in a while.

If the pan gets a sticky coating or develops rust over time, scrub it with steel wool. To prevent rust, dry the skillet thoroughly {I generally wash and dry on the stove on medium heat until the water evaporates}and lightly coat the cooking surface with coconut oil. Cover with a paper towel to protect it from dust.

Re-season periodically apply a thin coat of Virgin Coconut Oil to the pan inside and out.

Place aluminum foil or old cookie sheet on the bottom rack of oven to catch any drippings.
Place the pan upside down on the top rack of the oven
Set oven to 350 and bake for 1 hour
Let cool and ready to use again!

ECO-Decorate your home for the holidays

The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier each year.  You are no sooner cleaning up from Thanksgiving when your neighbor’s house is lit up brighter than a Christmas tree!  This year I have made a commitment to ECO-Decorate my home.  Here are some of the great ways you can:

  • Buy a live tree {with root ball} you can plant after Christmas.  {I remember when I was a child my parents would buy fresh trees and they always seemed so small at the time.  But the wonderful thing was we could watch them grow in our backyard for years and appreciate them everyday} If you do buy a “live tree” dig a hole now while the ground is still soft and cover it with a piece of ply wood.
  • Switch to LED holiday lights
  • Decorate the outside with solar-powered lights {trying it this year will let you know how they work}
  • Send an e-holiday cards lots of great cards with jingles
  • Gift wrap with paper you have in the house, newspaper, magazines, kids old art, old wallpaper sample books, cereal boxes, coffee/tea tins, paper shopping bags
  • Make your own bows with scrap fabric
  • Make your own front door boughs, cutting an assortment of mixed greens and tying a big red bow around them to keep them together
  • Use shredded paper or crinkled newspaper for packing your gifts when shipping instead of bubble wrap or foam peanuts
  • For your holiday feast, shop  for local and organic foods

Every little bit helps and once you start you will have a hard time going back!  ECO-DECORATE YOUR HOME for the holidays!  Let me know some of your helpful hints!

Repurposed Wallpaper sample books makes beautiful gift wrap!

Wallpaper sample books are a great source to get beautiful FREE craft paper. The sample books have hundreds of different patterns, colors and styles. The key is that these books are often thrown away once the wallpaper manufacturer has updated and issued their newest designs. I recently got 5 books from my local paint supply store for FREE and the patterns are wonderful and the perfect twist for all my holiday gift wrapping. No more buying gift wrap for me! In addition to gift wrap, wallpaper is a great source for scrap booking, shelve liners, greeting cards and envelopes and ornaments. Share your thoughts on what you would do with your wallpaper, just call your local paint store who carry wallpaper and I’m sure they would love to share.

these gifts were wrapped using everything I had in the craft box

colored duct tape{ they have wonderful colors for crafts} and washi paper tape

handmade stamped gift tags

gold tulle and paper mache pomegranate

The easiest way to remove the sheets is to use a matte knife and score the edge.  Your gifts will be well wrapped and offer a wonderful color assortment under the tree!

DIY- How to make a garage dollies

Fall is the time to reorganize the garage and  get all my leftover garden supplies out-of-the-way for the winter.  I always have half filled bags of potting soil, compost, limestone, grass seed, corn gluten and many others.  I have been told that if the bags are sealed tightly (keeping moisture and air out), the products will last another season so out with the duct tape for winter packing.  I also found that the bags are often still very heavy so I have made some wonderful dollies to help ease the back pain.  These are an easy weekend project and can be made to your own measurements and only cost $5 for the casters; everything else was leftovers form other projects!

  • 3/4″ plywood  cut 23 X 19 or whatever plywood you have extra
  • 4 1 1/2 in. Rubber wheel swivel plate casters (rated for 60 lbs. each) some plates come with screws $5.00
  • 16 3/4″ screws (needed if not included with the plate or too long)
  • drill and drill bit
  • circular saw

You can make the dollies any size you wish I just happen to have 3 extra pieces (23 X 19) from another project and they  were perfect for my size garden buckets.  I first edged the 4 corners of each plywood with a circular saw, just in case I ever would run into the edge which would be very likely.

Next I placed the casters near the edge of each corner about 1 inch from each side and used a sharpe to mark the holes.  I predrilled holes with 3/16 drill bit which was the size I needed for the screws.  Screw in the 4 screws for each caster and you can paint if wanted I just left mine natural.

These are a great back savers for me and a great easy way to move heavy gardening supplies around!  I already have 3 and would love more, let me know your thoughts and any tips you have!