7 Breathtaking Ways to Create Sensory Style For Your Home

 7 Breathtaking Ways to Create Sensory Style For Your Home7 Breathtaking Ways to Create Sensory Style For Your Home

Using techniques to add sensory style to your home is a creative endeavor. It brings a sense of comfort and relaxation for our senses. There are many approaches to accomplish this.  We’ll be checking out seven specific ways.

Our living space is the place that should be our ‘happy place’.  A place where we can be recharged and renewed from the busy challenges of life.  Purposely creating ways to incorporate sensory style helps add to this end.

1. Powder puff. Obtain some of your favorite perfumed powder, or even baby powder if that’s your decision. Get some of those magnificent powder puffs, and take a long bubble bath. After the bath, indulge yourself with one of these perfumed powders using the gentle powder puff. The scent stays with you a long time, and is one of those small ways to feel truly pampered.

By getting a plain powder puff kit, you can customize the specific scented powder you want to use.  This also includes getting an unscented base powder and adding your own essential oils to it.


2. Simmer  beautiful aroma on a stove.  Take a saucepan and add apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves & some orange (and/or lemon) peel. Allow this to cook on low, adding small quantities of water as needed, so it won’t dry out. This method is definitely a homey, soothing fragrance which is so simple to do.  This is similar to making homemade mulled cider, which of course you could do too. Make extra so you can sip on a cup too. Perfect for fall and winter days or nights.

34916856 - mulled cider


3. Try scenting a focal point or centerpiece on a table or counter top. Bake a bundt cake then take a small vase and load it with fragrant flowers. Set this vase with flowers, in the center of the bundt cake. Experiment with various fragrance mixtures. Lemon (make a lemon bundt cake) is gorgeous with honeysuckle flowers. Chocolate combines well with roses.  Below is my favorite cake cookbook with some amazing bundt cake recipes.

Distinctive Cake Recipes Blue Ribbon Winning Cookbook

4. Scent some seashells for your bathroom. If they are tiny shells, saturate them for a couple minutes in olive oil with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. For bigger shells, add a small amount of essential oil directly into the center of the shell. Arrange the shells on a decorative tray or container.  You could also add beach glass or other items you find appealing.


5. Scent your pillows. Gently spray a light mist of your favorite linen spray. Be sure to test in an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it won’t damage the color of the fabric.   Another way to add fragrance to a pillow is to put a small amount of potpourri in a tiny sachet bag.  Either pin it to the side of the pillow, or place it into the pillow case itself.




6. Scent your linen closet or drawer by tucking dried sprigs of fresh or dried lavender in baspiring-homemaker-11etween the layers of bath towels and bedding.  Place them in a sachet bag, so they don’t crumble on your linens.  Another alternative is to put them near the sides of the linens on the shelves. Lavender not only supplies a soothing, relaxing aroma to those bed linens, but also work as a natural moth (and other insects) repellent.  Cedar chips also does the same thing yet offers a different fragrance.

7. Carpet Freshener – Its’ easy to make your own.  Take a  pound of pure baking soda and add just a few drops of essential oil. Mix it up in the blender. Pour this on to a low shallow pan, and allow to dry for several hours, gently stirring occasionally. When this has dried, store in an airtight container.


This carpet freshener may be sprinkled on your carpets and rugs directly.  Leave on for a couple few minutes, then vacuum up. Try putting some in your vacuum bag too.






If you own pets, your nose may be desensitized to possible odors.  To get a clean smelling home, check out our post How To Clean Animal Smells in Carpets.

Beautiful fragrances are so calming in our stressed filled, day-to-day lives. Discovering methods to include distinct fragrances, textures, sights & sounds can truly add beauty to our living space.

To add sensory style to your home, you need to be intentional about it. Sometimes these simple steps help us to refocus and breathe.  Life is short, enjoy it.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

Try your hand at making your own candles.  I highly recommend this book and the author’s list of suppliers help greatly.  By making your own, you can design your own custom scents.  They also make awesome gifts you can give to friends and family, besides making your own stash.

How to Make a Great Jar Soy Candle

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Cookbooks I LOVE for Fall & Winter Baking and Cooking

Cookbooks I LOVE for Fall & Winter Baking & Cooking

It’s true, a person could find most any recipe on the internet for free.  However, there is something special about the ‘old school’ way of having a physical cookbook to hold.  To turn the pages or favorite cookbooks with your hands, to make lists and to plan.

Fall and winter are prime times of the year for get-togethers with family and friends.  Of course the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other occasions during this time of year are times of feasting.  Both revolve around food, old classic favorites, and some new soon-to-be hit foods.

Entertaining guests and family can be such a rich, relational time.  The added special touches, like a beautiful tablescape, candles, and more communicate to your loved ones your love and care.

As I sit here writing to you, there is a storm raging outside (hoping we don’t lose electricity or internet connection).   I’ve got a beautiful vanilla candle burning, and I’m about ready to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket.  I plan to pour over some of the cookbooks I LOVE for fall & winter baking and cooking.  My goal is to plan for holiday meals, and other times I’ll be cooking for family and friends.  These times of planning can be so enjoyable, I invite you to join me.

Here is my list of Cookbooks I LOVE for Fall & Winter Baking and Cooking

For the Love of Caramel – this is a fun cookbook that has everything to do with caramel and butterscotch.  Fall screams caramel!

I love this County Fair Blue Ribbon Winning series of cookbooks.  Classics are featured for sure, but don’t assume this is just a bunch of ‘old granny’ recipes.  There are some phenomenal modern, mega-delicious recipes in these!

County Fair Blue Ribbon Winning Cookbook: Main Dish, Casserole, & Vegetable Recipes (Volume 1)  – Good for helping trigger ideas too for the ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma’ year around
County Fair Blue Ribbon Winning Cookbook: Distinctive Cake Recipes (Volume 2)

County Fair Blue Ribbon Winning Pie Cookbook: Proven Enticing Pie Recipe Winners: Proven Enticing Pie Recipe Winners (Volume 3)

The Best Sauce Recipes Ever!: Easy Ways to Jazz Up Your Meals with Amazing Sauces – The reason this one is listed as a favorite, is it offers endless options to make any simple dish impressive.  For instance, take a plain cooked vegetable (or a meat)  and serve with an amazing sauce, and you’ve instantly got a gourmet dish on your hands.  Also, if you have picky toddlers, many times a trick to getting them to eat is to serve a little dish of sauce and let them ‘dip’ their food into it.

Taste of Home Soups: 380 Heartwarming Family Favorites –  In this cookbook, I’ve never had a recipe fail or not turn out great.  Soups are so amazing this time of year.  You may want to visit our related blog post at: Turn Your Hearty Soups & Stews into an Elegant Experience

Taste of Home Christmas: 465 Recipes For a Merry Holiday – This is such a wealth of ideas for classic holiday baking & cooking.

Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays: 60 Recipes for Traditional Festive Treats – Just because you or some of your family or guests need to eat a gluten free diet, doesn’t mean they can’t indulge in some amazing holiday treats!

Kids in the Holiday Kitchen: Making, Baking, Giving – I adore baking with children, and this cookbook is perfect for those projects.  It’s also a great lesson to them in learning to give and contribute to others.  A counter attack of the ‘holiday gimmes’.

The Best of Thanksgiving (Williams-Sonoma): Recipes and Inspiration for a Festive Holiday Meal – I seriously needed this one, when as a young wife and I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner, and didn’t know to remove the turkey neck, giblets and other ‘pouch ingredients’ that is typically inside of a turkey.

The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts – Such a delectable cookbook for my Jewish friends.

Fruitcake! – Ok, I know alot of people hate fruitcake.  However, as a child, my beloved grandma made a huge one every year that I loved.  Fruitcakes always remind me of her and this special holiday treat she made us every year, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Cookie Craft Christmas: Dozens of Decorating Ideas for a Sweet Holiday – This holiday cookbook is perfect to pull out the next time you need to participate in a cookie exchange. Perhaps you want to host a cookie exchange, a very fun tradition.

The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur: Over 120 Scrumptious Recipes Made with Natural and Simple Ingredients – Whether you are vegan, or family and friends are, this offers some great tasting options!

Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup – Yum, Vermont in the fall’s maple syrup.  Now more ways to use this ‘liquid gold’ from nature.

The Gingerbread Book: 54 Cookie-Construction Projects for Party Centerpieces and Holiday Decorations, 117 Full-Sized Patterns, Plans for 18 … Projects, History, and Step-by-Step How-To’s – Will this be the year to tackle a made-from-scratch gingerbread house? Super fun to include kids with classic gingerbread.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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Design Your Own Calendar This Year

Design Your Own Family Calendar This Year Everyone Will Love

Instead of purchasing, ready made calendars this year, why not try to design your own calendar? These can make beautiful, personalized gifts for loved ones as well as being functional around your home or office. These could be a wall calendar, poster calendar, or a desk calendar, totally customizable by you.

A diy calendar can also serve as a welcomed and treasured Christmas or other holiday gift for loved ones.  Enjoyed so much more, than a store-bought one.

Your personalized calendar can also be a very practical tool, reminding everyone in the family, so nobody forgets important family dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates to remember. Sometimes those can be difficult to remember for every person.

Make your own calendar

Planning Your Calendar

Organize and come up with your calendar before you are ready to upload your photos for publishing. Do you want to make a theme? Perhaps you desire to make it a gift for a family or friend that is an avid gardener, and you want the whole calendar to be a garden theme.

Here is a list of possible themes to consider:

  • Hawaiian
  • Wild West
  • Roses
  • Garden
  • Golf
  • Basketball
  • Any Sport
  • Trains
  • Childhood
  • Beaches
  • Vacation taken
  • A certain person
  • Circus
  • Highlights of the past year

Another factor to bear in mind, if you plan to use old, family heirloom photos, you may find this is the perfect time to get a service to do your photo restoration, before uploading to a publisher. Many reasons to do so, first being to get the best possible results, sharing these precious treasures with other family, and having them restored for many more years to come (not simply for the calendar’s sake). The worse they are left to deteriorate and age, the harder and more expensive they become to restore, sometimes with less desirable results.

Compiling Your Calendar

Two calendar publishers that I’ve dealt with are Costco and Shutterfly. Do some comparison for yourself to which service you will go with. Personally, for the quality of photo prints, I lean more towards Shutterfly, but that’s just me. Each online service will basically walk you through the complete setup, giving you options to upload your images, for purchase and publication of your calendar.

Decide which photos you want to have published when you design your own calendar this year. You can opt for 1 image for 1 page, or several images for a collage type effect. If you are doing a theme and need either related background images, images to supplement your own, or simply do not have high quality images for your calendar, here are two resources that you can get these from. They have selection of thousands to choose from, on every topic imaginable, are legally obtained and pricing is very low cost without having to get a subscription, you can get just one or two images. My favorite resources are: Canstock and Dreamstime. Once you have planned which photos you intend to use for your calendar, you are ready to choose a publisher.

A couple of thoughts here. You can have someone’s birthday or anniversary dates, printed on the actual date of the calendar portion if you choose. This is a great feature to help remind everyone of these special dates.

You can also choose to add a favorite family recipe on your calendar if you wanted as well, or you might want to opt to produce your own family heirloom cookbook, as a complete other project.

When you order your own diy calendar, be sure to order enough copies. You’re sure to have others see how beautiful your personalized calendar is, and want their own!  While here, look around at our other great home and family content at this blog, under achieves tab.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

A must-read book to save your family photos, get your copy now

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Make a Teen Bedroom Hip Using Discount Decor and Elbow Grease

 Make a Teen Bedroom Hip Using Discount Decor and Elbow Grease

Make a Teen Bedroom Hip Using Discount Decor and Elbow Grease

A teenager’s bedroom needs to be a reflection of his or her personality, so it is fitting that the majority of the decorating should be done by the teen. You should help with the initial discussions and planning stages for teen bedroom decorating, but once the decisions have been made, your teen needs to take over.

Of course you don’t want the project to turn into a money pit, so limit setting from the beginning is a necessity. Go over the budget with your teen, and come up with the cheapest way to get the right look. Your best bet is to use lots of paint and bargain or thrift store items—then let your teen go wild.

teen-bedroom-decorThe walls should be a blank canvas where your teen can show their true personality. Paint is so cheap and the colors are endless so there will alot of room for expression of their creativity. If you don’t have the means to completely change the walls, then borders, stencils, stamps and potato/sponge painting are all good ways to add character to a room without doing a complete wall makeover.  If your teen has an artistic flair, maybe they could create a wall mural from scratch of their own art.

Multi-functional furniture is another way to save money. Buy stackable wooden crates (which can be painted in creative ways and colors) or cubbies to be used as shelves, storage and a place for knick-knacks and books. Many times you can find these at thrift or discount stores and that is okay, because your teen can repaint or stain them and decorate the sides with appliqués and stencils.

Shelves are a lifesaver when it comes to making extra room and keeping things off the floors. Purchase cheap metal brackets and pieces of wood from the lumber store and let your teen paint or varnish the wood before attaching to the wall. When it comes to a teenager’s room, there can never be enough shelving space.


Changing the headboard on the bed can make a dramatic change to a room. The easiest way for your teen to do this is to apply panels of fabric, wallpaper or use stencils that can be placed on the wall directly behind the head of the bed. Take the theme one step further and sew sheets that match the wall pattern or sew strips of the same fabric that is used on the wall onto a comforter or blanket to complete the look. Your local hobby shop or decorating store should be able to tell you what type of adhesive you can use to adhere the fabric to the wall.

If the teen is prone to clutter, getting some items for organizing especially their closet, will go a long ways in helping their rooms stay neater.  A bonus is if your teenager is allowed to design their bedroom decor, they will have a higher motivation for keeping it cleaner and more trendy.

New bedding and/or decorative pillows is another way to give the room a total overhaul look, without breaking the bank.


If you have a creative teen you can purchase dollar store items that can be manipulated into really cool stuff for the walls, or to be used as shelf decorations. Candles, cool lamps, rocks, incense, hanging lights, baskets, frames, and stencils can all be purchased at the dollar stores and used to create a room that is ‘safe place’ where your teen will be proud of, and enjoy.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money in order to give your teen a bedroom that’s hip, it just takes creativity, planning and some elbow grease to make it their own.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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Smart Methods of Using Baskets As Home Décor

Smart Methods of Using Baskets As Home Décor

Smart Methods of Using Baskets As Home Décor

If you are searching ways to tidy your home décor, baskets are a cute and cheap option to add charm while increasing your available storage space, while keeping it visually uncluttered. Here are a few tips to use decorative baskets to their maximum potential.

Bathroom organizers—use baskets to keep hair brushes, accessories and combs in one place. Nail the bottom of a basket to the wall (with the open side facing out), and use it to store extra hand towels and washcloths. If you have the room, use baskets to hold extra rolls of toilet tissue.

Mail basket—instead of tossing unread mail on the closest flat surface you can find, place a pretty basket on a table, countertop or desk to hold the mail until you can get to it. This not only looks nicer, but it keeps your mail all in one place so you don’t risk losing important bills or correspondence.

Take out menu holder—Take out menus tend to pile up in drawers, on shelves, and on top of the refrigerator, creating unsightly messes and making it hard to find what you’re looking for. Purchase an oblong or rectangle basket and place all your menus in it. The next time you’re in the mood for takeout, you’ll know where to look.

Magazine and book container—give each family member a decorative basket to hold their magazines and books. The next time you come home from the library with a stack of books, your family will have a place to put their own materials.

Hobby container—a pretty picnic-type basket can hold your yarn and needles out of sight until you are ready to get to work. Place it next to your favorite chair or store the basket under an end table. If your kids love to color or doodle while watching TV, store their supplies in a cute kid-friendly basket to keep your living room neat and tidy.

Kitchen helpers—baskets are awesome additions to your kitchen. Use them to hold your leftover condiment packets from fast food purchases, or put small packets of sweeteners and creamers in one next to the coffee pot. Place a tall sturdy basket within reach of the stove and fill it with your most used utensils. Baskets also make pretty holders for napkins and rolled silverware; choose one that fits your dinning room décor and leave it right on the table. You will always have your tableware right within reach.

Home entertainment holders—if you have trouble keeping track of TV and gaming remotes, use baskets to keep them all in one spot. Place an attractive basket on your coffee table and toss all the gadgets in it. You will never have to look for a lost remote again.

Give a quick overview of each room in your home. Identify all messy areas. These are prime candidates to convert into basket storage. Not only will they give you an organization space, but it makes it visually appealing.

The ideas for baskets as home décor are limited only by your creative expression. They not only add beauty, neatness and extra storage space to your home, but they’re not expensive as well, giving your home an elegant look on a budget.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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Odd Jelly and Jam Recipes To Make

Odd Jelly and Jam Recipes To Make

Odd Jelly and Jam Recipes To Make

Below you’ll find some strange jelly and jam recipes to try in your canning endeavors. Some of the ingredients, you may not be sure you’ve heard of previously.

Perhaps you’ll choose to make some of them from sheer curiosity. Maybe you’ll give it as a gift to that friend or family member who’s equally strange. These might be interesting to enter into cooking contests or county fairs.

Whatever your reason, have fun cooking!

Mandarin Orange and Wine Jelly

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated orange peel
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups white wine
  • 3 ounces of liquid fruit pectin

Combine all ingredients except the pectin into a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until the sugar melts and the mixture is at a full boil. Boil hard at that point for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the pectin, then stir another 2 minutes. Skim off any foam gently with a spoon. Carefully put into sterilized, hot canning jars to seal. This recipe makes about 6 half pint jars of jelly.

Rose Hip Jam

Rose hips are the fruit that forms on old fashioned type rose bushes. They should be picked after the first frost in the fall and they are very high in vitamin C.

For this recipe you’ll also need a food scale.

  • 1 pound of rose-hips
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound Sugar

Simmer cut up rose-hips in water until fruit is very soft. Blend in a food processor until very smooth in texture. Weigh the puree in the food scale to measure a pound of puree. If it seems too runny at this point, try to drain some of the excess water off.

Put the pound of rose-hip puree in a saucepan and add 1 pound of sugar, again you’ll need the food scale. Gradually add small amounts of water if the mixture gets too thick, but you’ll want the consistency known for jam. Heat and simmer until thick. Seal in hot, sterilized canning jars.

Red Bell Pepper Jam

  • 12 sweet red bell peppers, seeded and cut
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar

Blend red bell peppers in a food processor until fairly smooth. Add salt and let the mixture stand overnight.

Drain well, then combine the red peppers, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat until the mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer until it gets as thick as jam does, stirring very frequently. Seal in hot, sterilized canning jars.

This jam is wonderful served on bread with softened cream cheese.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

Home canning kit

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Tantalizing Relish Recipes to Make

Tantalizing Relish Recipes to Make

Tantalizing Relish Recipes to Make

Gourmet Vegetable Relish Recipes

Sometimes it’s fun to make creative, homemade foods that are unusual. You’ll find here some tantalizing relish recipes sure to be winners in your home. These can make some great low-priced special gifts you can make for friends and loved ones. Try entering them into your local county fair to see if they win a ribbon for you.

Corn Relish

  • 4 cups corn
  • 1 cup diced green peppers
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 ½ cup vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons flour

In a large saucepan combine the peppers, celery, onion, vinegar, salt, celery seed, Tabasco sauce and boil for 5 minutes. Carefully scoop out about ½ cup of the hot liquid and mix it with the dry mustard and turmeric, then return it back to the saucepan.

Mix the flour with ¼ c. cold water and add to the saucepan, stirring constantly until smooth. Now add the corn and boil for 5 minutes until thickened, again stirring constantly.

Fill clean, hot canning jars to within ½ inch of the top and add the lids. You’ll want to can these now in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, to do a complete seal. This recipe will make about 3 pints of relish.

Beet Relish

  • 12 cooked beets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish

Process all the vegetables with a food processor until fairly finely chopped. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring several times. Gently scoop this beet relish into sterilized, hot canning jars and put on lids. Can in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes in pint jars.

Onion & Rhubarb Relish

  • 8 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 4 cups onion, chopped
  • 4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole mixed pickling spices

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except the clove garlic and whole pickling spices. Tie those two ingredients in a small cheesecloth bag and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb just becomes tender, roughly 10 minutes.

Remove the spice bag and throw out. Scoop carefully the relish into sterilized, hot canning jars, the put on the lids. Can in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes ensuring that the jars seal.

Experiment with how you’ll serve these unusual but tantalizing relishes. A couple of suggestions you may want to try is to use it as topping on a meat dish, or served on gourmet crackers, or on chunks of specialty bread.

Cranberry & Jalapeno Relish


  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cut red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a bowl, mix the orange and lime juices, dried cranberries, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and cumin and stir well. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours and then stir again before serving. This relish is best served cold, but can also be canned as well.

Until next time,
Valerie Garner

Great relish tray for serving

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Make a Family Heirloom Cookbook

Make a Family Heirloom Cookbook

Make a Family Heirloom Cookbook

Make a Family Heirloom Cookbook

Do It Yourself Treasured Family Cookbook

To make a family heirloom recipe book is a decision that could greatly enrich the lifestyles of your loved ones both now, and for several generations to come. A family treasure, cookbook furthermore makes wonderful gifts for any holiday, birthday, or special event. You also may find friends lining up for a copy of your family’s favorite fare.

There are numerous do it yourself publishing book computer software available from which to choose, so you’ll want to do some investigation to start with, concerning the attributes which you’ll want to use. Additionally they possess diverse pricing structures depending on the features you choose. One resource is called Lulu and it gives the option to offer your family’s recipe book on Amazon once it’s printed if you desire to go that route. That might be a good idea to offer friends who might want their own copy of your family’s recipe book, or simply if you have a large family and cannot afford to buy every person their own copy, this would make an easy avenue for each to purchase their own.

Organizing Your Family’s Treasured Cookbook

Get out your thinking cap now, use either at a computer or even paper and pencil to begin to do some overview organizing of your family heirloom recipe book. How many folks do you wish to contribute recipes? Do you want a specific kind of food solely in the cookbook, for instance a pie only cookbook? Do you have specific recipes in mind someone makes that you need to hunt down?

You’ll also need to consider the design type for your family cookbook. Will it be a hard cover book design, or a spiral bound style? Both have pros and cons. The hard cover publications are very classy and professional looking, but are more difficult to utilize in the kitchen area.

Spiral bound cookbooks are simpler to use in your kitchen because they lay flat and many instances they’re more cost-effective to generate.

You could put family photographs or other visuals, illustrations, or graphic designs if you want to add some pizzazz to your recipe book. You might like to include pictures of family members, both current as well as old-fashioned photos of ancestors of past decades. There are also on the market photos for recipe books which you can use as chapter breaks or headings at very reasonable prices.

Generate a Memorial Cookbook

A unique method to recognize the life of a member of the family who has perished could be to generate a memorial recipe book in remembrance of their life through with pictures and treasured recipes that they either prepared, or simply favorites they enjoyed. This can serve as a combo of a collection of memories, and recipes as a tribute to honor this loved one and share this with other family members and friends. It’s similar in reality to a family heirloom recipe book, yet would be dedicated in particular to the passed on relative.

The Gathering of Recipes

Now is probably the most time consuming portion of the project, that of accumulating of the actual recipes you want to include. If you already have them typed on your computer, that’ll save much time, but when they are recipes that are hanging out inside a favorite recipe file, all these will need to be typed out in some sort of word document. Be sure to read the directions of the program you plan to utilize, before doing this step, so you aren’t at risk wasting time doing it incorrectly.

This can be time to get written down these beloved recipes that family members may simply have committed to memory; too many treasured, quality recipes are lost permanently, when that individual person passes on, because it was never recorded. Think about enlisting the help of other members of the family to assist you in this step of the project.

Follow the directions of the software / publishing parameters you are going with, to reach the completion of your recipe book project and have it published.

This cherished collection of recipes will be a labor of love, but one that can will be treasured and cherished for years to come. An additional related heirloom gift could be made of photo books that are comparable, but in one of those lifetime “best gift ever” categories.

Enjoy the process and the joy it will give to others!

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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Start Your Own Container Garden

Start Your Own Container Garden

Start Your Own Container Garden

It is not difficult to start your own container garden, in fact for many people, it is an enjoyable hobby and can be an economical option to save money on fresh vegetables or herbs. The process of setting one up is the same, whether or not it is geared for indoors or outdoors. Winter is a perfect time for planning your upcoming container garden.

First, write down a list of plants that you are interested in growing. Perhaps, group them in similar categories. For instance, do you want to plant an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and indoor flowering plants, pin point your goal.

When you have your basic list, now is the time to do some research on the specific plants on your wish list, and their growing specifications. The internet, library or seed or nursery catalogs can be great sources for finding this information out. While you are doing this, be open to plants sharing common growing conditions, as these might make great companions in a specific container garden, roommate, so to speak.

The specifications you’ll need to find about is plant is how much root space will be needed, how much sun or shade needed, best type of soil, how much typical watering will be needed, and considerations to frost and season if they will be containers grown outdoors.

Materials Needed

You will also need to research the supplies you’ll need once your gather your plant specification data. Some of those needed supplies will be:

Containers – you can get very creative with these. They may be purchased, large decorative type containers, to the small, basic black pots, to making your own out of various materials. The photo is an old wooden barrel converted into a strawberry container garden. Just make sure the proper drainage can be ensured. Don’t forget, raised beds built from scratch also fits into this category.

Potting Soil – you can purchase potting soil specially designed for container gardens, or you can use compost as well, or a combination of those.

Water – Depending on hot and dry the area is where the plants will be growing, you may want to add garden crystals to the soil that help hold water and reduce the frequency of watering. The same principal is used for the glass bulbs as well. These are optional supplies, but can be real time savers.

Tools – hand trowels, gloves, water can or a watering wand that fits on the end of a hose. If your containers are going to be indoors, be sure to put a dish or something underneath the pots to catch any water runoff.

Plants – you can plant either full grown plants, seedlings, or opt to start yours from seed. This is completely up to your preferences, and budget. For seed starting, be sure to follow the directions on the package for germinating. Most any vegetables can be successfully grown in containers.

Assembling Your Container Garden

After you have gathered your supplies, and your plants or seeds it’s time to get our hands dirty and the fun begins.

Some folks put a ½ inch layer or so at the bottom of the container of charcoal or small pebbles, to assist with drainage. This is optional however.

The next step is to lightly fill your container with potting soil, but not completely to the top. If you are planting seeds, you will fill higher with soil, than if you are planting fully grown plants.

Gently take your plants or seedlings out of their container taking care not to disrupt the roots too much or pull much on the top of the plant. Dig a hole slightly bigger than the plant and put the roots in, then cover with potting soil. Water thoroughly. Now gently with your hands lightly tamp the damp soil near the plant and soil to get a good connection, and water again.

Place your containers in your desired location. Pay attention to any fertilizer feeding schedule you may want to opt for. Rotate your containers periodically for balanced light exposure. If these are indoors, you may need to supplement the light with plant grow lights.

By starting your own container gardens, it can not only be a fun hobby, but can save you money in the long run, and provide fresh vegetables, plants or herbs for a tasty and healthy addition for your family.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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How To Care For and Prune Hydrangea Flower Shrubs

Blue Harlequin Hydrangea Flower

How To Care For and Prune Hydrangea Flower Shrubs


General Care When Growing Hydrangea Flowering Bushes

Hydrangea shrubs or bushes are among favorite flowering plants for many people. They grow in a wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes. The flowers are gorgeous dried or fresh in bouquets, craft projects, and simply left in the garden. They thrive in varying conditions from full sun to full shade, depending on the variety. Before planting a hydrangea, find out its sun/shade requirements.

They all need moist, well drained soil with rich compost and other organic matter like implementing the use of cover crops for optimum soil conditions.

Feeding Hydrangea Flowers

Hydrangeas shouldn’t be fertilized at all until new plants are firmly established a minimum of 3 months after planting or transplanting.  Should you decide to fertilize, do so sparingly, as too much nitrogen will cause the plant to stop flowering.

Hydrangea Color

Much of the finished color of hydrangea flowers depends on two qualities.  The variety of the plant itself, and the soil PH.  Acidic soil PH gives blue shades, and more alkaline soils encourage pink tones.

The trick is aluminum ions in the soil, so aluminum sulfate is a good quick fix, but prolonged use year after year, may cause a fatal build up in the soil. Iron sulfate is a safer amendment, or try alternating between the two. If pink is the shade you want to bring out, top dress with dolomite, or drench with a quick lime solution.

Problem – Why Doesn’t My Hydrangea Flower?

Hydrangeas fail to flower for a couple of reasons. Most commonly is frost damage, the other main reason by late pruning. Too much shade or nitrogen, are other factors to consider.

Partial shade means more than four (more like six) hours of sunlight. Planting in a more sheltered spot may be useful.

Reasons for Pruning Hydrangeas

Let’s look at why you need to prune these shrubs. Regrettably, many individuals intend to make them a smaller sized plant, which not a good reason to prune a hydrangea shrub. Unless you’re growing it in a bonsai dish, you’re bound to lose that battle.

Generally, plants ought to be pruned to improve look, certainly not to manage size. The adult hydrangea is a shrub that can’t be made into smaller sized bush. If an individual cuts a big leaf hydrangea down, 1 year later it will grow in size, all the more in the next season. If you would like keep them small in stature, substitute your large growing variety with one that is genetically designed to stay small.

Some short sized hydrangea bush varieties are:

  • Pink Elf
  • Hornli
  • Blue Deckle
  • Diadem
  • Involucrata Tama Azisai
  • Harlequin
  • Quercifolia PeeWee
  • Serrata Shirofuji
  • Blue Billow
  • Pia
  • Mathilda Gutges
  • Hortensis Compacta
  • Glowing Embers
  • Tovelit
  • Red Star
  • Todi
  • Trophy
  • Miranda
  • Amethyst
  • Bottstein
  • Enziadom
  • Forever Pink
  • Masja
  • Blue Danube

Proper Pruning Techniques of Hydrangeas

The dilemma is that the big-leaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla (the type that form big round balls of flowers), form their blossom buds in the previous summer season, if you decide to cut them short they don’t bloom very much the following summertime. Almost all the renowned types of the blue mop-head varieties in blue, pink or white lace-cap hydrangeas produce their blossoms on old growth wood.

Not every hydrangea plant flowers on second year growth, and this increases the misunderstandings. The very sturdy tree type Pee Gee hydrangea, ‘Hydrangea Paniculata Grandiflora’, flowers on new growth along with the white-flowering ‘Annabelle’ variety hydrangea. There are also some varieties which blossom on both new and old growth, to further muddy the waters, so to speak.

The big leaf hydrangeas, lace-caps and mop-heads, ought to be pruned as follows:

Prune early in the year when the plant has begun to break dormancy. At this time of the season, you can discern which canes are alive as opposed to which ones are dead.

Begin by eliminating all dead canes, cutting them right down to the ground. This can be best attained by sitting next to the plant, so you’ll not leave ugly, six to 8 inch tall stumps.

When all dead canes are eliminated, analyze what is remaining. If still you have many living stalks, many of the being over 3 years in age, cut out a third of them, again cutting these to ground level. This will encourage fresh growth. If the plant is just not congested with a quantity of older stems, skip this part.

Tidy the shrub by just removing any old flowers that remain, taking care to trim the smallest amount possible, basic deadheading.

Cut leftover stalks back by working from the top down, stopping and making the cut just above the top of the first or second pair of buds you come to. Using this technique, some canes will be cut little or not at all, although some will have living buds only near the base of the plant, thus in that situation, you’ll end up taking away a considerable amount of that stalk.

Step back and examine the shrub. If you find one stem that is a much taller than the rest of the canes, cut it to be in range with the other stalks. If there are any curvy, fragile and spindly looking limbs, and those that trail on the ground, eliminate these at the ground.

Remember the fact that any green buds you get rid of have the possibility to produce blossoms later in the summer. Would you like a tidier plant or more flowers? Bear in mind you can always cut those blossoms for bouquets, thus tidying the plant later in the summertime.

The white Annabelle mop-head variety is one of the hydrangeas that bloom on brand new growth. They are going to still bloom if heavily pruned, even so, and if cut down too far the brand new growth that results may be weak and bend underneath the weight of the flowers, so don’t be too aggressive.

Be sure to use sharp pruning shears when pruning, and sterilize your shears between pruning different plants, so any disease is not spread.

One method to disinfect your pruning shears is to dip the blades in a disinfectant solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water, or use 70 percent wood alcohol. Dip each time in between every cut of diseased plants, or you risk spreading the disease. Do not allow those diseased canes to remain in the area, or it can also spread to more plants.

With proper care of your hydrangea shrubs, you will be rewarded with healthy, thriving flowers for many years to come. They make great indoor décor for the home, and you can learn to easily make your own hydrangea wreaths.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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