Happy Birthday Nikita

Nothing brings so much love & happiness into your life, like having a dog by your side. Our sweet girl, Nikita, is celebrating her 4th birthday today, and she has brought so much joy into our lives since we rescued her.

NIKITA IN TUTU

Nikita came from litter of seven pups, and after they were born, their Mommy was poisoned with anti-freeze and died, and the pups were in dire need of help. The APL rescued all the pups and saved their lives. A foster Mom named Brea, took all seven of the pups into her home and fed them around the clock so they could be nice & healthy.

NIKITA COLLAGE

I remember the day we first saw Nikita. We were heading into PetSmart for kitty food and noticed that the APL had a pet fair going on in the parking lot. We decided to go take a look at all the little kitties and doggies before we headed into the store.

NIKITA COLLAGE2

We saw a bunch of fluffy puppies and had to go see them. Nikita was the first one we picked up and she gave us kissies all over our face. We were hooked. We adopted her right there on the spot and our lives changed forever, not to mention, hers. Nikita found her forever home and happiness!

NIKITA COLLAGE3

I could not ever imagine life without this sweet girl in it, as she brings so much love and happiness to our lives. So Happy Birthday Nikita, you’re four years old today, and we just wanted you to know how much we love you! We have done so many silly things together, we dressed you up even though we knew you tolerated it for our sake, but you have always been by our side and showed your love and affection, and every night since we rescued you, we snuggle together before we fall asleep. We love you with all our heart Nikita!

Our Fascination with Pumpkins

Where does our love for pumpkins come from?

  • Is it from that little white seed that you saved from last year’s pumpkins that you plant in the ground and watch it grow?
  • Is it from the idea of what you do with that pumpkin once it has grown? Like carving them into masterpieces!
  • Is it your love for pumpkin pie? (get the Cool Whip ready!)
  • Is it your love for drying the seeds & eating them?
  • Is it from your love for the Fall Season?

No matter what your own love affair is with pumpkins, it is all valid. We try to grow a crop of pumpkins every year with high hopes that we can produce at least two pumpkins that we can carve for Halloween. At least that is our goal every year.

Last year we failed tremendously with our pumpkin crop. We failed only because we dumped too much coffee grounds around our pumpkins and they died off. Bummer. We won’t be making that same mistake this year, as we learn from all of our gardening experiences.

We are about six weeks into growing our pumpkins in our fenced in garden area, and every day we head out back to see how they are doing. We are shocked every day. I told you that pumpkins do a lot of their growing at night, so finding lots of new growth in the morning is not a shock at all.

The bees are buzzing around the pumpkin flowers, doing their job pollinating them perfectly, and when they are slacking in their job, I personally pollinate the pumpkins myself with a Q-Tip.

Which brings up a thought. Do you know the difference between a female and a male pumpkin flower?  If you don’t know, I’ll tell you…just ask me!

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FEMALE AND MALE PUMPKIN FLOWER

I put together a few photographs of our pumpkins progress, so you can see how well they are growing. We are so pleased!

JUNE 1 2014A

We added more soil to this bed this year, and lots of Miracle Gro Soil.

JUNE 5 2014A

I started 18 pumpkins indoors when I had the grow lights still out.

JUNE 8 2014A

The pumpkins checking out their new home.

JUNE 13 2014A

In this photo, I used Fiji water bottles to cover up newly planted cantaloupes, and the water bottles behind the row of pumpkins… are MORE pumpkins.

JUNE 16 2014A

When the pumpkin plant started to grow under the water bottles and got big enough, I removed the bottle. The lids are off all the bottles so the plants got air.

JUNE 18 2014A

Pumpkins are establishing nicely here.

JUNE 28 2014A

Then all of a sudden…BOOM! It’s a pumpkin explosion!

JULY 1 2014A

I take it that the pumpkins like this spot this year!

JULY 3 2014A

Every day we see more new growth!

JULY 8 2014A

I think we need more space.

JULY 13 2014A

The pumpkin vines are extending everywhere and even up the back of the fence too!

JULY 16 2014A

And, last but not least, we have today’s view of our pumpkin patch. We have one nice sized pumpkin growing up the back fence, so at least we know we have one keeper. The pumpkin vines are creeping out of the bed to the left and to the right, so finding the pumpkins to pollinate will be easier. Pretty soon, we will be tip-toeing through pumpkin vines while trying to pick tomatoes in our garden! (I can so see that happening!)

If you need some pumpkin inspiration, check out my Pinterest Halloween Pumpkins Board!

So what do you think of our awesome pumpkin patch? Do you know the difference between a female and a male pumpkin flower?

Wordless Wednesday: Lebron is Back in C-Town

WITNESS SIDEWALK ART

We heard the news last Friday, that Lebron James is heading back to Cleveland to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. We welcomed him back with some sidewalk art!

VAL AND SIDEWALK ART

STEVE ROJEK WITH SIDEWALK LEBRON ART

Our neighbor, Steve, is thrilled too to have “The King” back in C-Town!

We’ve Got a Green Thumb

One of the things that I find fascinating about gardening, is what a difference a day makes. I get surprised every day when I head into the garden to check on the status of the plants. One day, you see nothing happening, and the next day, you see new growth.

The two photographs below were taken by our neighbor “Farmer Steve” who climbed up on our garage to clean out our gutters for us, and he snapped a few rooftop photographs.

GARDEN VIEW1 6-29-14

It’s amazing how everything is filling in so nicely, and how nice and green the plants are. I guess we are doing everything right this year!

GARDEN VIEW2 6-29-14

As you can see from this photograph, the leaf lettuce and the Romaine Lettuce will be ready for picking any day now.

ZUCCHINI 7-1-14

Check out our favorite zucchini! We noticed this zucchini about a week ago when it was a little nub, and when we saw the flower on top of it open up, I took a Q-Tip and pollinated it myself. Yep, that is correct, I worked some magic in the garden, if you can call it that, but I took a Q-Tip and lightly rubbed it inside a male flower (a male flower does not have a little zucchini underneath it, so that is how you know which flower is a male or female), and then rubbed the pollen from the male flower inside the female flower that sat on top of the zucchini that started to glow. As you can see, it worked, as you can see from the nice sized zucchini we have growing!

By the way, in case you are wondering, the use of the tomato cages around our zucchini is working! Every day, I direct new branches up into the tomato cage, and it is helping contain the huge leaves in our garden bed. I am glad I found this idea on Pinterest, as it does work!

BIG BOY TOMATOES 7-1-14

Our Big Boy Tomato plants have all started to bloom and this is one of the little tomatoes. As I have mentioned before, we use Epsom Salt in our garden for only our tomato and pepper plants, but we have not yet started using it. We wanted the plants to get established first in the garden, but we will be starting the Epsom Salt this week. Epsom Salt is used for tomato and pepper plants to help replenish the lack of Magnesium these plants lack. We lightly sprinkle Epsom Salt around these plants only once a week to give them the Magnesium they lack and it helps them grow bigger, and it also helps stop the tomatoes from splitting and getting bottom rot.

CUCUMBER 7-1-14

Our cucumbers are on crack! Well, that is what we’re saying, but I think they are pretty much drug-free. LOL  We are so proud of how well they are doing this season and we can’t wait to enjoy them in some nice salads.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 7-1-14

I had to put netting over the cabbage this week, as I kept seeing those little white moths all around the garden. The netting will prevent the white moths from laying eggs on the cabbage plants and ruining the cabbage heads.

JULIET TOMATOES 7-1-14

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see our Juliet Tomatoes growing! Last year we had planted six Juliet plants and picked over 1,220 tomatoes. This year, we have nine Juliet tomato plants, and I can’t wait to see how many Juliet tomatoes we pick this year! It will amaze me, I am sure! (and yes, I do count all of the veggies we pick from our garden, just to see how well they produced)

MORE ZUCCHINI 7-1-14

This is another small zucchini that I personally pollinated in the garden. And, there are others too that are getting bigger!

POLLINATION 7-1-14

I’m scared of bees, but took my chances when I got close to this guy doing his job in the garden. Way to go little bee, keep on pollinating!

PUMPKINS 7-1-14

We all know that pumpkins do a lot of their growing at night, which is something that we have noticed over the years. One day, you check out your pumpkin patch, and the next day, you can find the runners have grown a few inches! I lost count on how many pumpkin plants we have in this area, but we’re glad to see how nice they are coming along. We have high hopes that we can get a few pumpkins this year so we can carve for Halloween. We have more than seven little pumpkins growing right now, and when I notice their flower open up, I will head out and pollinate them just like I did with the zucchini.

What a difference one day makes when you are a gardener. You wake up and find out that you have a green thumb after all!

Happy Birthday Bella

Our sweet girl, Bella, turned two on Sunday! Bella has been such a wonderful addition to our little family and we love her so much. I still remember the day when we saw Bella for the first time, as we immediately fell in love with her.

BELLA BIRTHDAY 2 YEARS OLD 6-29-14

I love all of Bella’s facial expressions, as she has many!

BELLA 2ND BIRTHDAY CHALK SIGN

Bella posing next to my chalk birthday sign, but is interested in looking at something else. LOL

BELLA BIRTHDAY SEPIA 6-29-14

This is one of my favorite birthday photo’s of Bella.

BELLA 2ND BIRTHDAY 6-29-14

“Oh, what’s that?”

BELLA IM NOT PAMPERED

This is a typical scene at our house with Bella. As you can see, Bella is not pampered at all. She loves being covered up when she naps with Teddy.

BELLA AND NIKITA MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME

Look at how little Bella was when we brought her home for the first time at two months old. Bella and Nikita fell in love with each other that day and have been best buddies ever since.

BELLA AND NIKITA

This photograph is so silly, as you can see Bella sticking her tongue out at Nikita! Nikita was probably thinking “Is she staying here?”

Happy Birthday sweet Bella, we love you!

Sneak Peak Of My New Fascination

I am in love with something new that I have not worked with much. It is a new found love for stenciling. I purchased a medium sized Chrysanthemum stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils for $26.95 which is 21″ across in size.

Ever since I made my patriotic star table top, I got the bug to make some more little table tops to use in our home, and outside for our fire pit nights. This Chrysanthemum stencil is so beautiful and I could not wait to make a table top with it. I found a nice piece of wood in our garage, sanded it, painted it glossy black, and after it dried, I was ready to start stenciling.

STENCILING A TABLE TOP1

Since I just got this stencil, I don’t have all the proper tools like a stencil brush & roller, so I decided that I would not wait to get them, rather I jumped in and I placed the stencil over my piece of wood, grabbed my gray permanent Sharpie and went to work tracing each and every little piece of that stencil onto my wood. It did not take that long to do it, but you had to make sure you did not bump your stencil while doing so. Look at all those little pieces!

STENCILING A TABLE TOP2

After I got the stenciling tracing done, I pulled out my little jar of Behr premium plus ultra Mint Majesty, which I purchased at Home Depot for around $4 for a 7.5 ounce jar, and started to paint. It only took me a few hours to complete the entire stencil by hand painting it with a small brush. Yes, I had to have a steady hand to do this, but it turned out awesome! The Mint Majesty truly pops on the black painted wood. All I need to do now is coat the top of my table top with some Polycrylic to seal the paint real good.

STENCILING A TABLE TOP3

The next step that I need to do is figure out what kind of legs to add to my table top. I did some research on metal table legs and have lots of ideas to choose from, but if you have any ideas on where I can get some metal table legs at a reasonable price, let me know.

I want to stencil everything now with this stencil! It is so beautiful and would definitely add to any home decor!

STENCILING A TABLE TOP4

Wordless Wednesday: This & That

Summer brings so many unexpected joys! Soak them all in and enjoy the little things in life that make you so happy!

NIKITA OUTSIDE

Nikita enjoying a nice warm evening out on the lawn with us watching the traffic.

NIKITA SEES ANOTHER DOG

Nikita saw “another doggie”.

BELLA OUTSIDE

Bella just “chills” when she is outside. Her face says it all. “What’s Up?”

BLUE HYDRANGIA1

Blue Hydrangea, oh so beautiful! I want these too! Look at all those buds!

HYDRANGEA PISTACHIO1

Pistachio Hydrangea! We saw this at Lowes and I want it so badly!

DRAGON SHADOW

Woke up the other morning and saw one of the dog toys sitting in the bathroom. I loved how the shadow of the alligator reflects on the side of the bathtub.

FROGGY ON NETTING

Our froggy made it to the backyard and somehow he crawled up onto the netting we have over our flower garden. He is so talented that he could join the circus!

It’s the little things in life that matter the most.

Nip That Sucker! Garden Update

There’s no doubt about it that when you start a garden, you put a lot of time and hard work into it. You water it every day (thanks to our full rain barrels from all the rain we’ve been getting), you weed it (no thanks to all the cotton that’s been flying around here for weeks), you chase critters out of it, and you do maintenance on your garden plants.

OUR GARDEN 6-23-14

When you grow tomato plants, you’ve gotta nip those suckers! Nipping suckers off of your tomato plants is a must when you grow tomato plants. It stops the plants from pouring all of its energy into growing that sucker, and puts it back into growing a nice big and healthy plant. Suckers are always found in the corners of branches. Don’t ever nip a branch, just the sucker that starting to emerge. What’s amazing, is that I head out to the garden every morning with the dogs and do a walk around to make sure nothing was damaged by the critters over night, and I usually nip all the tomato plants as I walk around. Then, when I head back out to the garden later in the day, there are more suckers to nip! Geez, these suckers can really grow fast!

NIP THOSE SUCKERS

Our garden was planted on June 1st, and it has grown with leaps and bounds since then.

STRAWBERRIES 6-23-14

Our strawberry plants have abundantly produced this season and have filled up this entire flower bed. Look at all those red strawberries waiting to be picked! Not a day goes by, that I am not out in the garden picking a bucket of fresh strawberries, and yes, I do share them with others!

ROMAINE 6-23-14

I cannot tell you how happy I am on how beautiful the Romaine Lettuce is coming in! Last year, we did not get the chance to have any since the deer jumped the fence and ate them all down. This year, we hope to be dining on lots of delicious salads!

PUMPKINS 6-23-14

Our pumpkins are coming along nicely too! those Figi water bottles were used to cover up the newly planted Red Warty Pumpkin seeds so the chipmunks would not eat the seed. Once the plant was established, I removed the water bottles. As you can see, they have already started to bloom, and I hope to see some little pumpkins growing soon!

LEAF LETTUCE 6-23-14

Our leaf lettuce had a slow start and some sections died out (not sure as to why), but it finally got a nice growth spurt.

GARDEN 6-23-14

Here you can see our garden rows. Leaf lettuce, onions, red peppers, cabbage and tomato plants.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 6-23-14

Watching the cabbage grow always amazes me. A cabbage seed is so freaking tiny that I had to use tweezers just to pick up a seed and plant it. All of our plants in our garden were started indoors under a grow light. When we planted our cabbage plants near the first of June, the plants were a little wobbly, but look at them now! Yowza! (Grandma is going to be really happy this year, as we are growing them for her) We will be covering up the cabbage plants soon, to protect them from those nasty white cabbage moths that do lots of damage.

CUCUMBERS 6-23-14

I don’t even remember how many cucumber plants we started indoors, but we also planted a few seeds in this are too, just to make sure we had enough plants for the season. They are loving their new trellis and are growing up it nicely!

TOMATO PLANTS 6-23-14

Now these babies are coming along nicely! Our Juliet Tomato and Big Boy Tomato plants have definitely grown with leaps and bounds since we planted them. Last year we only planted six Juliet and six Big Boy plants, but this year we have about nine each. WOW, now that’s a lot of tomato plants! We share all of our harvest with friends & family since there is no way possible that we could possibly eat all of the tomatoes that are produced. (not to worry, our friends & family LOVE getting fresh tomatoes from us)

TOMATO BLOOMS 6-23-14

This photograph makes me really happy, as this is the sign that we will be seeing tomatoes really soon!

CEMENT GROW

There’s nothing like giving your garden a little growing inspiration, eh? I made these cement grow letters from my silicone alphabet molds. This little sign sits on the edge of our raised garden bed in front of the peas. Since our peas are coming along nicely, we decided to plant some more. I planted 14 more pea plants right in the garden and they are starting to emerge from the soil this week. Yeah for Peas!

What are you growing in your garden?

 

When Life Gets Busy

TGIF! When Summer finally arrived here, we got busier. We get to head out of the house, wear flip flops, plant flowers, change our clothes to fun Summer wear, garden, grill out, and enjoy the outside weather with the dogs. Every time I work out in the yard, the dogs are there with me, soaking up the sun and sniffing everything. We have had a cotton tree blow cotton poofs all over the place and it looked like it was snowing. With those cotton poofs landing in the garden, that means a lot weeding.

NIKITA AND BELLA 6-12-14Nikita and Bella love heading into the garden area with me, as they think it is another room. It’s funny how excited they get while I am opening up the gate. They walk around our raised garden beds and sniff all the plants. Bella even chased a chippie for me the other day and was all pumped up from her chase. She kept looking for more to appear and watched closely.

STRAWBERRIES 6-12-14Our strawberries are finally ripening this week and we’ve picked bowlfuls of them each and every day. Nothing beats a home grown strawberry to eat.

BABY BUCKThis is a baby buck I saw resting in our neighbors yard. When you look closely, you can see his small rack. The deer population in our area just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and they definitely need some birth control! Babies are popping up every day around here. They are beautiful to look at, but all we think of when we look at them is being our enemy. They have damaged already so much of our flower beds this year, ate all of our hostas, day lillies, nipped off all the new growth on our burning bush and pretty much half of our back flower bed.

Our neighbor had asked me the other day why our garden fence was so high and I told her that the deer got in our garden last year and jumped our six foot high fence. I told her that I had to go higher this year to hopefully prevent another deer attack on the garden. Preventative maintenance is the cure, we hope.

FIRE HYDRANT FLUSHING2 6-6-14FIRE HYDRANT FLUSHING 6-6-14Our city had the yearly hydrant flushings this week. The dogs were woo wooing at the front window at the firemen and I laughed. I went to the door to snap a photo of them, and when they saw me, they even posed for a photograph! Silly firemen, but I loved it!

BELLA 6-11-14Here’s Bella posing for me as I entered the back door. She is so photogenic!

MARIGOLDSI planted lots of marigold seeds in our two pots on the front porch earlier in May. As you can see, they are coming along nicely and are getting ready to bloom. I just saved the seeds from my marigolds last year when they died. This is a great way to be able to plant more flowers from year to year without having to purchase any plants or seed packs. Do you walk around your flower beds and save seeds too?

FROGGYHere’s our little froggy that was on the front sidewalk, and I must have scared him when I walked past him as he tried to squeeze into this tiny space. I think he got stuck.

NIKITA AND BELLA2 6-12-14Nikita and Bella just love each other. They are best friends. Bella is going to be celebrating her birthday this month on June 29th. Our sweet girl will be two years old, and has brought us so much joy in our lives. Nikita will be celebrating her 4th birthday on July 18th and my birthday is on July 22nd. We have so much to celebrate and lots of love here.

Even when life gets busy, don’t forget your loved ones! How has your week been? What is going on in your part of the world?

How to Make Melted Pony Bead Stars

We all have Pony Beads in our piles of craft supplies, if you don’t, you need to get some! Making melted Pony Bead crafts is fun to do.

HOW TO MAKE MELTED PONY BEAD STARSI used three different sized metal star cookie cutters to make mine.

PONY BEAD STARS1Pour your Pony Beads into your cookie cutter and make sure that you have enough to fill up all the space inside the cookie cutter. You can then arrange the beads around a bit to distribute the colors. Make sure your cookie cutters are on a metal cookie sheet too.

PONY BEAD STARS2Once you have all the beads where you want them, they are ready to bake.

PONY BEAD STARS3Place in your oven at 400 degrees, and watch them closely as they melt. There will be a slight smell from the melting plastic, so you should have your windows open or run a fan while melting the Pony Beads. (note: you can also melt them on your grill too outside) You will know when they are ready to be taken out of the oven when the top of the Pony Beads are nice and flat. (if you still see the “humps” of the beads, then they will need to stay in the oven a few minutes longer)

PONY BEAD STARS4Once all the beads are nice and flat, remove them from the oven and let them cool on top of the stove. You will soon hear a slight crackling sound, and don’t worry, this is the plastic cooling sound.

PONY BEAD STARS5When cooled, you can pick up your cookie cutter and remove the melted Pony Bead stars. Just carefully pull the sides apart of the cookie cutter and the star just pops out.

HOW TO MAKE MELTED PONY BEAD STARSIf you so choose, at this point, you can use a small drill bit and drill right through the melted Pony Bead stars so you can add a ribbon for hanging. Or, you can perhaps hot glue a wooden skewer to the back of the stars and place in a flower pot for a nice decoration. With these three sizes, I also had the idea to make a little tiered sun catcher for the Fourth of July. To accomplish this, you will need to drill a small hole on the top and bottom of the stars so you can attach your string in between them for hanging.

So there you have it, you can now make your own melted Pony Bead Stars and you will be ready to ring in your Fourth of July in style!

In case you missed my other melted Pony Bead Crafts, here are the links to inspire you:

Pizza Pan Patriotic Platter
Experimenting with Melting Pony Beads
Melted Pony Bead Hearts
A Pizza Pan Is Just Not For Pizza Anymore
How to Make a Night Light Cover