May 9th, 2013
I’ve been wanting to play with concrete, and I thought a two-tone concrete letter would look awesome sitting on my shelf. My concrete letter didn’t turn out quite right, because I was impatient. I picked up the mold before the allotted drying time was up, because I wanted to see if the concrete was still wet. It was, and it cracked into 3 pieces. Oops. The good news is that I just need to get some landscape block adhesive to glue the pieces together, and no one will ever know (well, except you guys).
hollow cardboard letter (available at your local craft store)
breathing mask (or something to cover your nose so you don’t breath concrete dust)
two plastic spoons
two disposable plastic bowls
a disposable cup
Lay the letter face down and cut out the top side to make the mold. (The facedown side of the letter will be the front, so make sure if you’re using an asymmetrical letter that it won’t end up backwards.) Remove the cardboard filler inside, and use a piece to divide the letter mold in half diagonally. The divider should fit snuggly against the edges of the letter.
Next, mix the concrete wearing gloves and a breathing mask (do it outside so you don’t get concrete dust in your home). Mix a bowl of plain concrete and a bowl of colored concrete. For the colored concrete, premix the dye and water in a disposable cup before stirring it into the concrete mix. I didn’t measure anything. I just mixed in enough water to get all the concrete wet and then stirred in a little bit more. It should be thick and not at all runny.
Once the concrete is mixed, work quickly to spoon one of the colors into the mold. Wear gloves and pack the concrete into all the edges and corners with your finger tips. Remove the divider and spoon the second shade of concrete right up against the first. Smoosh them together firmly. Fill in the rest of the letter making sure to push the concrete down into all the crevices.
Now, don’t pull on the cardboard to peek, don’t move it, and don’t even touch it! Let it sit for 24 hours before cutting away the cardboard mold.
May 7th, 2013
I’m always drawn to interiors that feature maps. It’s partly that I love the way maps look and partly that I find traveling to be both incredibly thrilling and terrifying (the good, push-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone kind of terrifying). Seeing a gorgeous room with great map on the wall gives me goose bumps. Did anyone else see Jenny Brandt’s Design*Sponge sneak peek? Her map-walled dining room blew me away. Thankfully she shared her map source, and I knew one would be perfect in our guest room!
May 2nd, 2013
Lately all I’ve been doing is working in the garden and shipping Mother’s Day orders. Speaking of which, thank you for the tremendous support! There are going to be lots of happy (or possibly horrified) mothers out there when they receive their Wit & Whistle cards next weekend!
Taking breaks from filling orders to dig in the dirt is keeping me sane. I’ve been working on my shade garden, and I thought I’d share the plants I’ve added (just in case any of you fellow shade dwellers are stumped when it comes to gardening). Now that I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have a full shade yard, it’s really not so bad. There’s actually a nice variety of shade plants available.
I just now realized that Solomon’s Seal probably wasn’t named after Solomon’s pet seal…
This isn’t really garden related, but I have trouble getting grass to grow in our shady yard. Last fall I sprinkled a bag of white clover seed around the yard, and now we have a fluffy carpet of clover leaves coming up! I like the look of the round soft leaves much better than grass.
April 30th, 2013
Back in February West Elm posted an interview with Justina Blakeney. She mentioned that she was obsessed with a book called A House and Garden Book: Decorating with Plants by Marybeth Little Weston from 1978. Naturally I wanted to check it out, since I have a thing for houseplants. It’s no longer in print, but lucky for me I snagged a copy on the book swap site I use, Paperback Swap. (It looks like there are some copies available for sale on this site.)
This book is great! Some of the rooms are very 1978 (yikes), but there are many interiors you’d never suspect weren’t current (minus a funky looking sofa here or there). I thought I was at capacity for houseplants, but now I have plenty of ideas for squeezing more in! Here are some of my favorite spaces from the book.
Decorating with Plants also suggested making jokes with your houseplant placement. For example, put a thyme plant next to your kitchen timer. Hardy har har you’re so funny, 1978.
April 25th, 2013
I recently signed up for The Produce Box, which is a weekly delivery of produce from local farms. I had tried it years ago, but we ended up receiving more produce than the two of us could eat each week. Since then The Produce Box has made some changes, and now we can order a smaller box that’s just right.
This week there were raw peanuts in our box, and the instructions said they shouldn’t be eaten raw. I decided to try boiling them thanks to some suggestions over on instagram. I’d never had boiled peanuts before, but apparently they’re a southern delicacy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and the peanuts smelled kind of icky while they were boiling. After 2 hours I cracked one open and tried it. I couldn’t decide if I liked it, so I tried a few more. Then I ate a whole bowlful. The verdict is in—yum. The peanuts get soft and chewy and are surrounded by salty peanut juice inside the shell. That description doesn’t sound very appetizing, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
Boiled Peanuts recipe from Simply Recipes
1 pound of raw “green” peanuts (not the color green, but fresh raw peanuts)
1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 Tbsp table salt)
4 cups water
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning, smoked paprika, shrimp boil mix, or even star anise (optional)
Thoroughly rinse raw unshelled peanuts in water. Put water, salt, seasoning (if desired), peanuts in a large stockpot. Bring to a low boil. Cover and reduce the heat just enough to maintain a low boil. Boil for 2 to 3 hours or longer (some boil their peanuts all day), until peanuts reach desired level of softness. Drain. Eat up within a couple of days. Boiled peanuts don’t save as well as dry.