A Small Gift

I wanted to get something personal for the Cottage tenant who has been steadily fixing up the Cottage, taking care of the yard, and other truly nice things.

I bought Charlie a greenhouse kit for Christmas.

I like to get people things they wouldn’t get for themselves.

Personalized postage stamps.

I saw that Zazzle.com was  having a 30% off sale so I checked out if it applied to personalized postage stamps.

Custom postage template

It did. I went onto “Custom Postage” then “Photo Postage” where I chose “Small Custom Postage” in a 49 cent denomination.

I chose only to add a photo, no words.

I uploaded my favorite photo of Glade Cottage which I had to “zoom” twice to fill the frame.

Start with a great photograph.

The package arrived in about a week.  The final cost with a 30% coupon was just under $25 for 20 forty-nine cent stamps. As stamps go it’s not cost effective; as gifts go lots of bang for the buck.

What’s your favorite offbeat gift to give or get?

Crazy for Sunflowers

This summer I’m very involved with sunflowers.

The sunflowers growing on the west side of the house are blooming.

Ours are blooming well and attracting bees and gold finches.

A bouquet of fresh-cut sunflowers.

Now we’re chasing them all over the local counties.

The Sunflower Garden truck in a bed of sunflower seedlings.

The Sunflower Garden in Carroll County offers pick-your-own sunflowers ($10 for a large bunch) and other cut flowers ($12 a bunch).

Rows of flowers ripe for the picking.
I was only interested in sunflowers.

The sunflowers at The Sunflower Garden will peak around August 15th.

Sunflowers in the master bath.

I have 3 bouquets of happy sunflowers at the house for the mere price of $10.

What’s your floral focus this summer?

Blooming Hydrangeas

One month ago I noted the hydrangeas were still growing.

End of May, 2017
End of June, 2017.

Nikko Blue hydrangeas are so welcome for a number of reasons.

A stunning bright blue.
  1.  They look great in the house as a cut flower.

    Hydrangeas almost arrange themselves.
  2. They seem to be bug free.
  3. After the blue fades they becomes burnished burgundy and green.

    The same blue hydrangea as it changes color at the end of summer.
  4. When dried they hold the color they were when cut.
  5. They flourish in the shade.
One day this hedge will fill in and and be a billow of blue.

I’m working on a hydrangea hedge.

What weed is your nemesis?

Il Primo

We’ve taken to naming our sunflowers.

In the morning the sunny face was just peaking through.

At least we’re calling the first to open its flower “Il Primo”.

By evening the flower was totally unfurled.

I was hoping we’d have sunflowers by the 4 of July.

The wall of sunflowers has grown to more than 6-feet tall.

It won’t be long before the whole blooming row is blooming.

Plans for the 4th?

My Asian Theme

Today I had a beautiful lunch made by our Thai chef.

Crispy spring rolls serves with sweet red sauce.

She made spring rolls to enjoy with salad and squash soup.

The neckline is an unusual u-shape.

The theme started earlier in the week when I received a thank you gift of a beautiful vintage rose silk kimono.

Basting threads are evident at the base of the sleeves.

I don’t think it has ever been worn because the sleeves still have the basting threads in tact.

The interior silk is flowery and bright.

The inside is even more visually spectacular than the exterior.

The rose silk brocade is highlighted with gold threads.

I’m not sure if I should wear it or display it in a shadow box on the wall.

Do you have a favorite Asian food?

New Piano Pins

The Steinway baby grand circa 1906 in the living room at work has been having trouble holding a tuning.

Charlie plays the Steinway on Monday evenings.

Our tuner/technician said the pins which hold the strings are slipping so they need to be replaced with slightly larger diameter pins and new bushings.

Piano pins come in incremental sizes and can be replaced when the holes are worn too large.

There are 250 pins which hold the strings taut to create the correct pitch.

The new pins are larger and shinier than the old ones.

Each one is taken out and replaced with a new one then the piano wire is rewound around the pin and tightened.

The gold harp and strings are both intricate and beautiful.

The metal pins are beat in with a metal hammer.

The technician removed the keyboard.

Two days of clanging and banging before the piano could be lightly tuned.

Playable but needs another tuning.

The tuner is coming back to retune in a couple of days because a newly pinned piano takes a while to maintain the tune.

What’s your instrument?

Barking Orchids

From time to time I have written about the orchids I am nursing along.

Orchid in full bloom

All my orchids have been gifts or hand-me-downs so I’m not invested in them except that our kitchen seems to have the perfect light for growing and regrowing orchids.

Orchids thrive in the kitchen bump-out and also attract ants.

On Saturday I poured a cup of water into an orchid pot our kitchen table when the whole thing started to move.  It turns out that ants had decided to build a condominium in the potting medium and when I poured water on it they had to hurry up and move all the eggs.

The ant-infested roots were totally bared to rid them of the little pests.

I, in turn, hurried the entire pot outside and shook away the bark it had been planted in.  Then I hung the orchid in a tree as my sister does in Florida.

The broken orchid branch is now in a vase.

Unfortunately I broke the blooms off.

The potting mix is composed of bark, charcoal, and perlite.

I bought a sack of Orchid bark to use as a potting medium since orchids don’t like the denseness of dirt.

The roots are now entangled in the bark.

Now I am repotting the bare-root orchid and hoping I have also diverted the ants back outside.

Do your houseplants attract bugs? And what do you do about it?