Dressing up the Front Porch

I’ve been dressing up the front porch lately. I can’t go crazy with paint and completely new landscaping, but I can keep it clean and do little projects that give it some style. I started with finishing up a coffee filter wreath I started making at least two years ago. I got the itch to finish it when I realized I wanted it on my front door.

Next, I tossed an old potted plant and made this little arrangement for my garage sale spray painted chair. I used a satin Krylon (my favorite brand) white spray paint to turn this plain old terra cotta pot into something that matched my porch and was a bit more classy. Then I did my very favorite thing and went to the local nursery. I was planning on buying a simple green and white Hosta, but then I spotted a massive row of Caladiums in a dozen different colors. I was super excited when I found one in the perfect shades of white and green with a hint of red to match my chair. Then I bought this little green and white Glechoma to fill and spill over the bottom of the pot. Both are shade loving plants that are doing great on my porch.

My next goal was to yet again replant my two dollar store hanging baskets. They look so nice for the first couple weeks after I plant them, but they dry out so very quickly in the heat and are impossible to water thoroughly once the soil has dried out. I’ve been experimenting with different liners for the baskets that will hold more water and not let the water drain through so fast. The typical coir fiber liners are worthless and my experiment with a multilayered burlap liner wasn’t much better. So, I settled on a duck cloth canvas liner that has a tight weave and doesn’t allow water to drain off too quickly. I decided the water problem could also be too little soil with too much exposed surface area. To fix that, I combined my two baskets by inverting one and making the shape more like a ball. I planted the custom made liner with a basic Gold Child Ivy (hedera helix) on the top and bottom to make a hanging topiary ball.

It doesn’t look amazing yet, but the Ivy is a fast growing variety that can reach 10ft long and will more than adequately cover the basket frames. I can’t wait for it to really fill out! And if this one does as well as it should, I plan on making another for the other hook I have with a different type of vine that likes more sun.

Some Garden Harvest

We’ve enjoyed some delicious fresh veggies from the garden this week. So far, I’ve harvested about 20 oz of tasty Cherry Red tomatoes from the one plant. I’ve been really impressed with this plant and its little 1-2oz fruits and have already started some seeds from the harvested tomatoes. I planted them about three days ago and think I see a little seedling poking its head up already.

I picked two average size acorn squash from one of my two acorn squash plants this week. The other plant has one squash greening up right now.

I cut them open and they smelled just like sunshine! The flesh was more of a butter color than other acorn squash I’ve purchase, but I’m not sure if that was due to the variety or picking them a bit early. To prepare them I scooped out the seedy middle, put a tablespoon of butter in each half, tucked them all cut side up in a glass baking dish with about an inch of water in the bottom, covered the dish tightly with foil, and baked them at 350F for about an hour.

They came out soft and yummy. I fluffed mine with a fork and ate it with a bit of salt. It was so so good! Each half provided a nice serving size for one person. Redding ate his with cinnamon and sugar. In spite of how delicious these were, I don’t think I’ll grow this variety of acorn squash again because the 1-2 squash each plant provided doesn’t justify the space required to grow them. I may try the Table Ace acorn variety as it has good reviews and higher expected yields per plant.

Lambert’s Birthday Party

Yesterday, we had a birthday party for a stuffed animal. His name is Lambert and Redding tells me he is one year old. We have a little calendar that we made where the boys can draw pictures of what we plan to do each day. Over the weekend, Redding drew a picture of balloons, Lambert and a cake to the 15th and informed us it would be Lambert’s birthday this week. So, I decided it would be fun to throw a birthday party for Lambert and also a welcome distraction from the fact that the same day as the party marked the beginning of my 39th week of pregnancy.

We started the day by making simple party hats out of construction paper. I cut the hats and glued them while the boys colored them. Redding insisted on adding a number 1 to every hat in honor of Lambert’s first birthday. Next, we made a run to Aldi to pick up a few ingredients for the cake and a frozen pizza for lunch. These boys would eat pizza darn near every day if I let them.

I enjoy letting the boys help me bake so long as I do prep work to make it go smoothly. Before I ask for their help, I measure out all the ingredients and put them in separate bowls so the boys can just dump them into the mixer without having to wait patiently for me to get things ready. It goes smoothly this way and no one gets frustrated.

I like to use Pioneer Woman’s vanilla cupcake recipe as the starting point for most of my cakes and cupcakes. It tastes amazing and works well. Except for yesterday. For whatever reason, user error I’m sure, the cake came out stuck to the pans and so soft and fluffy it couldn’t support its own weight. But it tasted good. So I went ahead and piped white butter/cream cheese icing around the cake then smoothed it a bit and topped it with sprinkles. It was the saddest looking cake I’ve ever made. We all had a good laugh over it.

Since Lambert is just a stuffed animal and he can’t blow out his own candle, the only fair thing to do was to let Wyatt and Redding each blow out a candle on Lambert’s behalf. So we sang Happy Birthday then they each took turns with their own candle.

And then we ate cake. It was the silliness.

And then I took a nap.