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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Basil, Basil, Everywhere!

I like to think of myself as a person who has an herb garden.  It just sounds sooo romantic.  I’ve heard it said having an herb garden is a luxury.

“Oh, yes, I use cilantro in my homemade pasta sauce, I flavor our tea with fresh mint, and I always roast the chicken with rosemary from the garden.”  HA!

Well, I don’t have an herb garden.  But what I do have is lots and lots of basil.  It has to be the easiest thing on the planet to grow.


Problem is, the only thing we use it for is caprese salads.  Now mind you, I love a good fresh caprese salad with buffalo mozarella, garden ripe tomatoes, the best aged balsamic and small batch Italian EVOO, and of course, basil, but there’s only so many caprese salads one can eat in the summer.  I have also been known to make pesto with all this basil using the mortar and pestle my husband bought for me at Williams-Sonoma.


I refuse to stop planting it each spring because it grows so well and it’s so fragrant on our balcony.  But, we really don’t need this much basil.  I’ve even tried to give it away to unsuspecting guests.

Oh, well, it’s my stake in the herb world!  At the Farmer’s Market, the flower vendors almost always put basil in with their fresh arrangements.  It makes them smell divine!  I guess I’ll have to resort to this.

Speaking of herbs, this has to be one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen.  Using a shoe organizer to grow an herb garden.

(via: green upgrader)

Happy Seasoning,


P.S.  I have grown several other herbs before, like the afore mentioned cilantro, mint, rosemary, and also thyme, parsley, oregano, and catnip.  I’m just not a gourmet cook enough to actually use it regularly!  Hats off to those of you who do!

Drying Your Own Lavender

The lavender looked so pretty this year.  It is one of my favorite things to grow. 

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Although I’ve had a few plants that didn’t make it, the ones I have now bloom well every year.  I usually harvest it in early to mid-July.

lavender (2)


It certainly attracts the bumblebees!

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It is so fragrant when you walk by. There is something about lavender that makes it sooo romantic. I guess because of it’s French associations! Ooh la la!


SOME of the bundles that I gathered to prepare  for drying. 

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  I  grab a bunch of lavender with my left hand and cut them to the desired length using herb shears with my right hand.   I’ve found this way is easier to make bundles than cutting it all off a bush at once and having to pick it up.   Now tie them with string, and hang them somewhere warm and dry.


My potting bench is coming in handy already!!!












Now it’s time to capture the fragrant buds to use in sachets.






When they are somewhat brittle, you can remove the purple buds easily.  Be careful…lavender can be messy and readily falls apart.  After spending a lot of time at this task, the best way I have found to remove the fragrant pods from the stems is to place a bunch of lavender between the palms of your hands and rub your hands together as though you are trying to keep warm. 



This can be very time consuming depending on how much lavender you have.  I compare it to shucking corn or stringing & breaking beans!




The dried buds will fall right off.  Be sure and have a container below to catch the fruits of your labor.


I  ended up with a decent amount of lavender harvested by “moi”.  Not quite enough to fill my large French tian, but it will do.


Do you know how much cut lavender it takes to get the small amount you see in the bowl?  I now have a new appreciate for lavender farms.

Can you smell it?

Au Revoir,


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Put Some Ooh La La! in your Christmas! Christmas In July { Big Impact With One Idea}

I’m joining the Christmas in July party over at Cowgirl Up! today (hosted by Debbie at Confessions of a Plate Addict) and I’d like to share what I did last Christmas for my French Country theme.


I certainly got the mileage out of this one great idea to adding a French touch to my Christmas décor.

Here was my inspiration: A store-bought embroidered mini pillow ornament from European Antique Market.

French Christmas

   And, here’s my homemade version:


Well, my version of homemade.  I have a good friend who does embroidery and sewing work so I asked her to make lots of these fabric ornaments using the French phrases “Joyeux Noel”, “Bonheur”, and “Meilleurs Vceux”.  Basically meaning, Merry Christmas, Happiness to you, and Season’s Greetings loosely translated.


I used them on everything to tie in the Country French décor. 
Their size was about 3 1/2 X 4.


I hung them from lots of different Christmas decorations around my home.


I also had enough made to give to each guest that attended the Christmas Open House.


I displayed them in a large antique French basket on the stairwell in the foyer.


They were a really big hit with everyone.


I even hung them from lamps.


They became familiar in the decorations and rooms, and lots of people commented on them.


They were tucked in bows, greenery, and trees. 



These simple homespun ornaments made my French  Country Christmas very memorable.  They were fun and relaxed…not stuffy.  They make great hostess gifts, too.

A little fabric from Jo-Ann’s, some batting and jute cord, and a friend who has an embroidery machine. Easy peasy!

You know you could do these using fabric paint or a transfer!

And, below is what I used for the dining table to keep the French theme.


Glittered Eiffel Tower ornaments I found at Z Gallerie with little tags made by me using rubber stamps.


Joyeux Noel bags found on Etsy with Godiva chocolate ballotins inside.  I already had the numbered white porcelain napkin rings.


O.K., now I’m getting in the Christmas spirit and it’s still 90 degrees outside.
Isn’t Christmas in July fun?

Merry early Christmas,

Partying at:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Facelift

Dontcha wish a real “facelift” could be this easy?

My blog designer, Karen Valentine, has just given my blog a much needed facelift so please dear readers, bear with me as I continue to update my blog over the next several days. 

I’ll be adding content to the navigation bar on top next.  It’s empty now…but not for long.

Stay tuned…I value each and every one of you and appreciate your following.

As Willie Wonka would say, “So much to do, so little time”.

But I’ll get there.

I bid you all ado,


P.S.   Please visit Valentine DesignKaren is an awesome blog designer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Potting Bench Makeover

Well, Bliss did it again! From yesterday’s post, not only did she give me the great idea of what to put on my loggia wall, but she was the first to comment AND guessed the correct answer, too.  That girl has it all together!  I’ll be sending her a little something special.  Thanks and congrats,  Bliss.

From the last post, this piece below was made from an old piano front panel.  I am a pianist so it makes it extra special for me.  I was lucky to find it.  Thanks for all the comments and guesses.

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On to today’s project which is my potting bench makeover. 


I have been lusting after really wanting a charming potting bench ever since I saw Yvonne’s over at Stone Gable and Pam’s at Simple Details.  You know, the kind everyone else always seems to have and you can’t ever find the right one.  

A little voice in my head said  “You should just look in your storage areas”!  I did.

Icky, cheap (and I mean “cheap”) potting bench found at Big Lots years ago.  It is very flimsy and had been moved from the garage to the lawn mower storage building.  Crappy little drawer that doesn’t open properly.  Tons of mowing/lawn supplies had been plopped on top of it.  Anything to keep it out of sight!  I just never took it seriously. SERIOUSLY?

I should be thankful to have it.


What was I thinking?  It is a potting bench, right?  It doesn’t have a great zinc top or anything, but it’s nothing that a little paint can’t fix for sure.  I mean, I’ve seen some of you girls (and guys) create treasures out of mere pieces of wood (or less).   This is at least recognizable as it’s intended purpose.

I did have that new quart of ASCP in Old Ochre that I won (yes, WON ~ don’t be jealous) at Haven, so it was time to try it out.


Tah Dah!

I see why everyone raves about this color.  It’s a little creamier and warmer than Old White.
Even the old green plastic liner that it came with was suddenly elevated to something special.


I was simple-minded on this re-do.  No antiquing, sanding, waxing, buffing, or distressing on this piece.  Nope.  Just wanted it fresh, clean, and bright.  I’ve heard ASCP does well in outside weather and I wanted it to age naturally, over time, and have that true weathered look from the rain, wind, and sun.  

We’ll see what happens….(actually I was just too lazy to do anything else to it and it was soooo hot outside)  therefore it gets to age naturally and gracefully like all of us!!!!


Of course, the most fun was just playing around with all the cool outdoor stuff you can put on a potting bench.  Who knew?  Staging and vignetting are the icing on the cake.  Do I actually have to do any potting???


Numbered zinc tags from Dore at Burlap Luxe, French champagne buckets, cloches, vintage baskets, rustic French pottery and gardening tools just scream potting bench.


O.K. so you thought I had a problem with a large brick wall in the loggia!  Here is another blob of a brick wall.  We have lots of brick here at LBE!  The potting bench helps, but it still needs something else.  ???????


It’s a great location because of the water hose as a water source which I think will come in handy.  I will have to add brackets on the sides for hanging flowers like Yvonne did.


Plateau baskets, terra cotta pots, demi-johns, numbered tins….oh, the list just goes on and on.  Are you kidding me?  What have I done all these years without a functional potting bench?


Fresh flowers and numbers….get outta here!


Yes, yes, I’m thinking it could be a beverage center or a dessert area for outdoor entertaining.  You sneaky potting bench acting as a chameleon!!!


Can anyone have this much fun with a potting bench?  Well, I guess so.


I will continue to play with my potting bench whilst I whisk away the summer.  Oh, and maybe “pot” some hardy mums in the fall……oh, and finish harvesting my summer lavender.  The possibilities are endless.   I can’t wait to see how it weathers in all of Mother Nature’s furry.

Do you think I should change the knob on the little drawer?

Au Revoir,

Partying at:
WOW! Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence
Potpourri Friday at 2805
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