new container garden before and after

My top priority for Memorial Day weekend was getting a container garden put in a very unused space in our backyard.  We have a very small lot, and so we really try to maximize what we have to our advantage.  Our house is in an East / West direction- we get the morning sun on the backside, and the afternoon sun at the front.  On the side of our house is a space measuring 20' x 7'.  It's tiny, and really wasted space.  Now that we've lived here for 3 years, I've been able to observe that this area actually gets 8 hours of sun.  Perfect for a little garden!

Our last house was on 1/3 of an acre, and had a nice big raised garden bed.  What I've missed most were the strawberries we had there. 

I now have strawberries to look forward to again!  I'm so excited! 
We had planned to build our boxes- the maximum size we could've done was 2' x 8'.  As we were shopping for the materials, we came across the wine barrels, and thought, why not?  No building, easy to install, up high enough for Bella to stay out of, and movable!

Here's the space we had to work with- the before:

Long and lean. 
Now you know where we hid the hammock frame in the off season....
And here's how we made it a usable garden space:

The ground was slightly sloped, to allow for drainage away from the house, so we had to dig out spaces for the barrels.  We decided to lay them out in a curved shape- more interesting than a straight line.

Next we filled the bottom with packing peanuts:

It makes the barrels less heavy if we ever decide to move them, allows for good drainage for the plants, and saves us using a lot of extra dirt at the bottom.  A great way to recycle!  You could also use pine cones or nut shells as an alternative.

Last summer, a friend of mine gave me several starts from her herb garden.  I put them in some temporary pots, and they've sat here on the other side yard, until now.  They definitely survived, but were looking a little stressed.  Not to mention it's just a sad little line up of hodge podge.

Here they are now in their cozy little home.  I had an extra strawberry plant that needed a spot, so it's in the middle.  :)
Chives, parsley, oregano, and thyme.

I also added in some basil and sage to the last barrel.  I always love having a cherry tomato plant every summer, and so it's here too.

We have more plans for this little garden area- some rock pavers to show the curving path, and some jasmine to grow up and over the fence.  Our dining room window is right above this area, and it would be heavenly to smell when the windows are open.  For now, this was all the budget allowed, and I couldn't be happier to have it started!

Here's the before and after, once again:

Can't wait to eat some summer yumminess!

What projects did you do over the weekend?

Memorial Day

I am so grateful to the men and women who have given their lives to serve and fight for our country.  Thank you for your sacrifice.

You are not forgotten.

spicy sweet grilled ribs with cool cucumber salad

Barbecue season officially begins Memorial Day weekend, and this is a delicious, finger lickin good recipe!  It starts with a simple rub, and then is slow cooked on the grill.  Before it comes off, a sticky, sweet, slightly spicy glaze is brushed on and charred to perfection.  Pair it with a cool, crunchy cucumber salad, and this will become one of your favorite summer meals!


5 lbs pork baby back ribs
4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne (you may want to opt for less for younger palettes- it can get pretty spicy with the full teaspoon)

Glaze: 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 T cider vinegar
3 T beer
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1 tsp ground dry mustard

Remove membrane from ribs by wiggling a knife or sharp object underneath (near a bone is easiest) Using a cloth or dishrag for grip, pull membrane off and discard.
Sprinkle salt rub on both sides of ribs. Rub into meat and let sit at room temperature for half hour.   For gas grilling, wrap ribs in foil.  We have a 3 burner grill, so the ribs go in the middle and the outer two burners are on medium heat.  If you have a two burner grill, place ribs on the side without direct heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, click here for the best source on indirect heat charcoal barbecuing.  Cook in foil for approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  This keeps the ribs nice and moist while cooking.

Brush the glaze on meat the last 10 minutes of cook time and place ribs directly on barbecue.  This creates lots of nice charred bits on the meat. Discard remaining glaze and serve.

Cool Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers
1/2 red onion sliced thin
1 tsp dried dill or 1/2 tsp fresh

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Combine veggies and dill.  Set aside. Combine all seasonings and pour over veggies.  Chill for one hour.


Ribs recipe originally featured in Sunset magazine under Grilled Baby Back ribs with Sticky Brown Sugar Glaze, and cucumber salad from All

goodbye little brown suitcase. send my regards to Broadway!

One of the most fun things about selling online are the people you encounter- finding out where the item is going to, and sometimes finding out how they are using the item!

My little brown vintage suitcase- the one I recently featured here:

...sold just a few short days after this post!  I'm not sure if it had to do anything with blogging, but either way, it's always exciting to get the little notification that you have a buyer. 
I'll be honest here though. 
I was a teensy bit sad.  But, it just means more shopping trips for me!  :)

The exciting part was when I saw where it was going!  Over to the East coast to....
BrOadWaY!  New York City!
(you have to imagine me singing that in my best Broadway voice with my jazz hands...)
Apparently it's going to a props department- not sure if it will be for stage or film, but either way, sometimes it's more fun imagining the possibilities. 
I also sold this in the same transaction:

It was one of my favorites as well.

I've been selling online for quite awhile- since 2004, but only recently on Etsy.  Sometimes the name that pops up as a buyer makes my heart skip a beat- once I thought I'd sold a beer stein to a famous and well known top ranking general in the US military.  Pretty sure it wasn't him, but it was fun imagining it.  

Another time I thought I'd maybe sold an item to a well known character on an HBO series involving 4 single ladies in NYC.... same name, different gal. :)  

Anyway, it's a lot of fun, and I love doing it.  And it always means I need to restock.  Here's some items that will be making it's way into the shop this week:

 Vintage European maps

a white milk glass urn

...this cute little wall shelf.  I have more painting to do on it. I fell in love with it's Bavarian look   :)

And, some vintage Hawaiian travel brochures!  These are really fun to look at.  They are all from the 1960's, and it's interesting to see how people traveled back then.  The costs for tours and travel is also in here!

If you haven't seen the rest of my shop, take a look! Lots of fun goodies, both vintage and handmade.
Have a great weekend!  I have lots of fun projects to share with you this next week!

summer mantel makeover

I don't very often do two posts in one day, but I was inspired to change it up thanks to the party going on over at the Lettered Cottage!

My mantel doesn't go through too many transformations.  I typically only do something different when the holiday season starts to roll around in the fall.  But what the heck?  Things could use some freshening up around here!

Some of my most favorite creations are when I use things that I already have from around the house.

I kept it very simple- the painting my dad did for us is the focal point.  I found the picture in a magazine and had him go from that.  When he was done with it, it reminded me so much of one of our favorite parks. I adore it!

The flowers are from our garden.  These are snowballs- the same ones I've used before.  "Snowballs" and "summer" don't seem to go together, but they are part of the hydrangea family, and I love how full and airy they are.  I gathered up all of the white and cream candles I could find around the house.

I also have lots of seashells, but I picked out just a few to add in.  A turquoise glass float also made it into the mix.  I like how it ties into some of the sky in the painting.

The silver piece that I used to hold the flowers in, is a vintage Buenilum ice bucket. It has a monogrammed T on the front.  (you can see it better in the first photo)  Old ice buckets make great vases!  They're not as expensive or as hard to find as trophies, but often offer a hint of the same shape and shiny-ness.  I love them!
I added a couple mercury glass votives in as well for some more sparkle.

I love the simplicity of it.  Romantic, light, airy, and the hint of summer!
If you'd like to see the transformation of our corner fireplace and how we added the wall to it, you can find it here
I hope this gives you some summer mantel ideas to use what you have for a simple and fun new space!

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The Lettered Cottage


Feature: House Revivals and my first guest post

**UPDATE**  Please let me know if the photos in here are disappearing- it's been off and on all morning!  My apologies!

Hello friends!  Today I am guest posting at Hyphen Interiors!  It is such an honor, and my first time guest posting anywhere.  Kristy is a super talented interior decorator and a newer blogger herself.  (but you'd never know it!) I hope you'll stop by and say hi.  :)

Kristy is running a weekly series called Before the Paparazzi.  Lots of great advice from newish bloggers and what we've learned along the way so far.  I've been really impressed with her guests!  Thanks again for including me in such a talented line up.

That said, I am so happy to be featuring another blogger here today- 
Amanda from House Revivals!

Amanda is an interior designer working in both residential and commercial fields.  She is also super crafty and has some great tutorials.
I found her blog in the last few months through a party, and was so impressed with the work she does and the remodel of their beach house:

You can see the extensive work they have going on right now!  The are lifting the entire structure to regain beach views.  A large sand dune has reduced the visibility, and when they saw an opportunity to purchase this place, they did, and went to work on it.  The house had been slated for demolition!  They raised the house up nine feet, including the chimney. 

I loved her idea board for their guest room:

Wouldn't you just love to wake up and walk out those french doors first thing in the morning?
Amanda also loves crafting, and has several great tutorials on her blog.  This project was one of the first I saw of hers, and of course she had me with the Union Jack!  Don't you just love those dimensional metal letters?  Except they aren't metal- she created them with cardboard!  Brilliant!

Amanda loves projects with a vintage feel (my kinda girl!)  and I am totally digging these beautiful paper flowers she created!!  They are made with vintage crepe paper.

And how about these old world Christmas stars made from vintage book pages??  Love the tipped edges in glitter.  :)  So pretty.

Amanda has so much fun making these and lots of other projects,
and she is great about sharing all the how tos.

She has even started a series on bad MLS kitchens designs!  She gives tips on how to make the space safer and more functional and beautiful on a budget.

I hope you will visit Amanda's blog, House Revivals- lots of great design tips, fun projects, and a major house makeover to peek in on!
Thanks so much for letting me feature you today!!

gallery wall for master bedroom and giveaway winner announcement!

I hope you all had a great weekend!  My project list is filling up so fast, I am really having a hard time staying focused on what to finish.  It's hard to not want to dabble in it all.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway this past week!
The winner of the Hawaiian hula girl bag and Pottery Barn gift card is.....

Congratulations!! Enjoy your little bit of love from Maui, and have fun shopping!
Lotsa good stuff in PB right now!  :)


I spent a few hours working on a gallery wall in our bedroom over the weekend.  Sad, saying it was 'a few hours' but it took some playing around and trying things out here and there.  I had a general idea of what I wanted, and this is what I came up with:

Last summer, I swapped out our red formal-ish bedroom, for a lighter, beach inspired room.  Since that time, I have been tweaking things here and there.  Mostly, I quickly grew tired of this look:

I decided I wanted something more sophisticated.  This was just not doing it for me.  The idea just didn't jive once I had it there and lived with it for a bit.

I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I didn't want a huge blank wall until I figured things out.
Here was the cheap and quick wall filler.  You can find lots of wicker pieces like this at thrift shops, and they add a lot of warmth and texture to a space.  The whole set of nested pieces (8 of 'em) was $6.99.

Nothing much, but it did the job for the last few months.
Then I saw this pic, and knew that was a good inspiration point for me.

Tivoli Console Table, Artisanal Black stain
We have a slightly narrow entry, and I knew there wasn't room for a console table (or money in the budget either) so I opted for a wall ledge shelf.  I picked it up from Target for $22.  When we took our recent trip to Hawaii, I brought along some Ziploc bags and collected sand from each of the beaches we were at.
Once we were home, they went into some glass jars, and I labeled them with some printouts from our computer and wrapped them on the jars with twine.  The smaller jar I've had forever, and our local craft store had a sale on the larger one for $4.  Not too shabby!
While I was there, I also picked up the sea fan:

It was just under $10 and makes a nice little backdrop.  The shell was from Goodwill.  It was around $4 and fi-hi-hi-iiiiiilthy!!  Yucko.  I soaked it and cleaned it up.
The photo was also from our trip.

I also got the shadow box at the craft store.  I added some burlap inside for more textural interest. Nate Berkus had a great idea on a recent show- buy two post cards on your vacation, write on one what you're doing, and what is interesting about the trip, and send it home to yourself.  Then buy the same one so you can display it like this:

A nice little memory!

I loved this photo from our lanai in Waikiki.  Costco enlarged it and I layered it by cutting some white paper with a postcard edge and the photo corners.  The starfish is just glued next to it.

We had gone to our favorite Chinese restaurant a couple months before our trip and I loved my fortune!  I saved it and added a bit of turquoise ribbon behind it to highlight it.

I saw this neat seascape painting while I was out thrifting, and at first was disappointed that it was so sun damaged.  When I got home I realized it would look fabulous in the room, (seascapes are also hard to find)
and just figured I'd chalk up the yellowing to the beautiful sunset going on in the painting.  (right? you see it too?)  ;)
It was $4.99.

I added some smaller pieces to the left- the oval frame had a really ugly little painting in it, but wood oval frames are like gold- I got it for .99 at Goodwill.  I added the twill tape for a hanger from my stash of ribbons.
The turquoise coral print is from the Graphics Fairy.  She has several corals available- I specifically requested the blue one you see here!  Karen is great with requests- if you're looking for a specific graphic, you can request it on her Thursday request day via email.  She's really great at coming up with hard to find images!  Thanks Karen!!!

Once I had the wall done, it just felt incomplete.  I looked at the inspiration photo again, and pulled some pieces from other areas of the house and added them below.  The Ikea trunk, some vintage suitcases, and the green glass canister with grass.

I think it helped to round it out nicely.  The little brown suitcase is actually for sale in my Etsy shop, but I thought as long as it's sitting there, I might as well use it!

There you have it.  I am really loving this- the memories and a more pulled together look than what I started with!
Hope you had a great weekend!

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Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy
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topiary urns

This is one of those "I finally got it pulled together" projects!! Do you have those?  Something that sits there and mocks you day after day, reminding you that you haven't completed it yet?

This past January, I decided I needed something in my dining room windows to draw your eye forward- and less to the fact that our neighbors house is within an arm's reach.  I added the urns to the windows, but didn't have anything in them!  I thought this would be a quick fix, but it took me until May to finally get what I wanted in them.

As you can see, I also switched out the curtain panels to an airy-er white version from Ikea.

So nice to have the completed urns!  I got the topiary balls from Real Deals.  It is a great store run by my friend Sherlai and her business partner.  They truly do have some great deals in there.  The topiary balls shown here were only $6.99 each!

It was time for a fresh centerpiece on my dining room table, and my mom let me cut some lilacs from their garden.  My lilac bush died last year during a cold snap.  I'm so sad.  I need to replace it.
I mixed in some blooms from our snowball bush that is in full bloom right now!

If you've never seen a snowball bush or heard of one, I encourage you to check them out.  They are one of the best plants to have in the garden.  They grow very quickly (about 12" a year here) have year round interest- bright red maple like leaves in the fall, lime green and then white blooms in the spring, and green leaves in the summer that create a nice screen.  They are very twiggy, so even in the winter there is something going on.  Super easy to take care of- there's not much to it.  You plant it and give it a little water and fertilizer now and then (or not) and they pretty much do their thing!

We planted ours three years ago when we moved in, and it was in a one gallon container.  (so only about a foot and a half high) you can see from this photo that it has finally grown past the top of the fence!  Once it stops blooming, it will continue to grow through the summer.  Love plants like this.

Some faux plants, some real- I love having beautiful things to enhance my day to day life.
Have a great weekend. 

You still have one more day to enter my giveaway for the Pottery Barn gift card, and Hawaiian hula girl bag!