Friday, August 26, 2011

Repurpose Those Tools

For those of you who enjoy using vintage farm implements and old tools as decor in your home,  here is a neat idea.  Although I can't take credit for this neat repurpose idea, I do have to use it as I thought it was so cool.  I bought this vise new a week ago but am still on the look-out for a vintage one, perhaps larger to accommodate larger books.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Frugal Decor - Green Is The Way

So I've been on a "green-kick" for quite awhile.  I guess it started about a year ago.  I was first on a mission to find green depression glass pieces in plates, bowls, candy dishes, vases, candleholders, etc.  Green keeps popping up on the design sites as "cool", "contemporary" and "trendy".  I've been seeing green used wonderfully in rooms as paint accent and focal wall colors.  When you think of GREEN, you think of FRUGAL - no?  I do.

My green frugal finds keep emerging lately, as though waiting for me to happen upon them.  A quick stop at the Salvation Army, one I have not visited in a few years, had me purchasing two small McCoy planters.  One in a bright, ice green which I gifted to my mother for her kitchen that showcases the color, and also a jade green one which I kept for myself. - as though I don't have enough green, pottery pieces sitting around.  Oh well, you can always rotate your "finds" to keep things interesting and new.

Vintage McCoy Planter in Jade. 

While at a flea market this past weekend, I happened upon a Hull Pottery swan planter.  Or is it a goose?  I'm not sure. The important thing is, MORE GREENS!  This piece has a nice variation of green tones and adds a whimsy touch to a room.  I mean really, where can you find unique items like this anymore bought new?  You can't.  And you can't buy something new with such character for under $5.00 either.  Talk about frugal!

My Hull goose planter in green.  Nice colors in this whimsical piece.

I've been an advocate for flea markets, yard sales and estate sales for decor purchases as evidenced by my website.  See my page on vintage decor.  If you want to make a big statement without incurring a big charge, you need to go frugal with your decor.  You will create a unique, one-of-a-kind-space with pieces that have a history, and some sought after appeal and value.  It's a win-win.

The bright green adds a nice pop of color among this collection of salt-glazed crocks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Wild" Impatiens

I have to reiterate my Love of Impatiens!  I can't get enough of them.  They are absolutely my favorite flower due to their care-free style; meaning I have to do very little "caring" to keep them looking great.  They "maintain" themselves (for the most part), shedding spent blooms and replacing them with equally brilliant ones.

Pretty In Pink

This annual loves the climate and soil of my property so much that it has become a perennial for me in Pennsylvania - Zone 6a (Use this zone finder to find yours.) Yes, I have "wild" impatiens popping up all over the place.  Imagine if I could get them to overtake my entire yard.  Now that would be an incredible carpet of color?!  I think somebody needs to work on a hybrid Impatiens groundcover.

Spilling from the center of an old tree trunk.

The nights have gotten somewhat cooler recently and those cooling temps really do the impatiens well.  They look so vivid and perky in the mornings this time of year.  I can expect this color to continue right through fall until the first, hard frost - practically two full seasons of color!

Popping up from some gravel along my front walkway.
A welcomed  "guest" as opposed to the pesky weeds.

If you've never planted Impatiens before, you must give them a try.  Just be sure you have a nice, shady location for them. Perhaps you too will find that you have "wild" Impatiens the following year.

A flower head catching some morning sun rays.  Leaves still wet with dew.

A bounty of color growing from an old tree stump.
Welcomed color in a predominately green "zone".

Simple Beauty


Monday, August 22, 2011

A "Sunny" Property

While taking photos for the new green living section of the website, I realized just how many celestial sun items as have as yard decor. I thought I'd run out of "suns" for site photos but I had more than enough. Thought I'd share a few that may not make the cut but I enjoyed nonetheless.

Mid Day Sunlight On My Begonias

A celestial plaque adds interest to my fig tree planter.

A weathered and worn terra-cotta sun meshes well with a similarly weathered and worn  vintage gate.

A glow-in-the-dark plant stake absorbs and stores sunlight for later.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Black-eyed Susans

My black-eyed susans (rudbeckia) are doing extremely well this year.  I remember having issues getting them to take off initially.  In fact, I had some totally die, never to return.  I guess they are liking this location as this is the 3rd year in this spot and they are doing very well (and getting better each year as they should).  I even got a few babies off of them which I've transplanted while staying in the same area to retain the soil type and amount of daylight these seem to favor.  Now, if I could only get my purple coneflower to do the same!

Black-eyed Susans add late Summer color to the property. 

Free Landscape Border

I recently posted about using cut sections of a tree trunk to create a border around a few of my landscape beds. Another easy idea is to use found tree branches from the woods.  I especially love finding really old pieces that have begun to hollow out and have a lot of neat characteristics to them such as moss or lichen growing on them.

I recently did a quick landscaped area behind my garage to tie it in with other areas of my property.  Free mulch from the township was also used.  I am fortunate that our township accepts tree limbs and branches once a month during the Spring and Summer which they grind down for township residence use.  Since I have such a large property with many landscaped areas and beds, the free mulch helps me build up the foundation layers which I later may cover with nicer mulch.  I'm leaving this area a bit more natural with a woodlands look.  Allowing native plants and flowers to fill in, such asiatic dayflowers.

A natural, woodland approach
Blue Asiatic Dayflower

Ajuga and Spirea will fill fill this bank with purple and pink color next year.

Another area behind the garage which I did months ago is bordered with found rocks and field stone from my property.  I also used some cool, old branches as well, to define areas and add some interest.  I transplanted some ajuga groundcover which is taking off nicely already. I always get pieces of it popping up in my gravel driveway so now they have a better home. To the right are other little guys that always grow from my gravel near their parent Spirea. These pink spireas are quite prolific. I have them everywhere and have lately begun massing them together to see if I can create entire banks of color (such as in the bed above.)

Purple/Blue Ajuga.  An excellent groundcover with wonderful colored green and red-purple leaves.

So, landscaping does not have to cost a fortune.  All of the items above were free from my property.  I'm sure you can create a similar landscaped area of your own with branches, rocks and plants found around your property.  You may even be able to get free mulch from your township or municipality.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


One of my large, rhododendrons; leaves wet from some steady rain.

Yes, I love the rain.  I'll admit it.  After MANY hazy, hot, humid days with sporadic thunderstorms producing short, rain bursts with little precipitation, it's nice to have a day of steady showers.

If you are like me, the "fun" of watering plants slowly diminishes as the season goes on.  I'm always "gung-ho" in the Spring when my first container plants have been built and hanging baskets strewn the property.  This good watering practice of course continues into the early days of Summer when watering is essential for survival.  My care seems to slowly taper however, and a "I'll get to it when I get to it" mindset takes over.

Since my watering skills have slackened, I'm always glad when the rains come to help free me of this task.  Perhaps the rain is aware that I'm busy typing blog posts and working on the website and is offering a bit of reprieve.  Regardless, "Thank You RAIN for coming today!"  Hopefully it will chase away the humidity and bring some cooling temps for awhile as well!

Raindrops reflecting light from my camera's flash.

A Decorative Landscaping Border

A natural landscape border provides a unique look.

In light of yesterday's post, I decided to share a picture of the tree trunk border created from my lost tree.  Like I mentioned, although the tree is gone, it continues to benefit the property in a new way.  I really love the look of this border over the black bendable border used to originally define the area.  Although the black border is visible, it is a bit less noticeable as your eye is drawn to the "logs" instead.  I have placed small stones under the front of the trunk pieces to keep their weight off of the plastic border (or to keep them from rolling forward).  Excess weight pushing against plastic borders, especially on slopes such as this, can cause them to misshapen, bend or pull free from the ground.  Just a tip if you elect to do this.

I have also seen logs or large branches cut up in this manner but placed upright so that they are standing on end. Placing them side-by-side like a mini-wall, produces a cool look reminiscent of a pier and is good for a nautical theme.  Consider either idea to give your property some unique, natural flavor.  I have even seen the pier look used to define walkways to front doors or around pathways.  Another neat idea.

Monday, August 8, 2011


What the heck is this?  

Yes, I'm sure that there is a least one person who has traveled down my road and is pondering the source of this "ring".  If I start to notice folks gathering at twilight to "make contact" I'll let you know.

The story behind this mark isn't some crazy phenomenon or message from another galaxy.  It is the result of a rather sad occurrence.  The loss of one of my trees.  The tree was a beloved one that sat atop my lower pasture beside the gazebo.  It provided lots of nice shade in a rather sunny location.  Seeing as my website and blog both use a TREE in their logo, you realize that trees in general have significant meaning and importance to me.  They are like guardians and protectors in my mind, signifying strength and shelter.  This one simply grew ill rapidly which is still a bit of mystery to me.  (yes, this would be the real mystery here)  A few windstorms and the tree slowly began leaning.  More winds had it leaning further.  In fact, this tree actually split and we severed the bad portion and left the remaining portion standing tall, only to have that last section follow the fate of the first within a few months.

Anyway, the tree was cut up and the branches were piled for a month, producing the above circle.  Our township luckily accepts tree limbs and branches once a month.  Ironically enough, the tree fell on a branch collection day but of course we could not get it cut up and hauled in time so had to wait for the following month.  I'm glad to see the pile gone but of course will miss the tree.  The tree is still a part of the property in so many ways though.  The larger diameter trunk pieces were cut into sections a little over a foot long and I used them to border some of my landscaping beds.  I prefer the natural look of this organic border as it adds a certain charm to the yard.  Although the shade this tree provided has disappeared, along with its lovely branches full of leaves, I'm happy that it is still here in a different way to help out around the property.

The "lost tree" 4 years ago (right of gazebo)
The tree in this picture, although only the lower portion visible, really makes me think of the frugal tree logo.  Was I somehow channeling this tree when I created that image?

Thursday, August 4, 2011


A planter base finds new use as an umbrella stand.
Since I love finding new ways to use old items, I thought I'd share another one of my "repurpose it" ideas.

I bought this random, cast concrete planter base from a high-end nursery years ago.  It was quite a deal because the upper portion apparently went missing or had broken.  I used it for awhile as its intended purpose but never loved the look since the replacement planter I found didn't quite match as I wanted it to.  So, I finally found a new use for it.  An umbrella base.  Yes, I didn't want one of those plain, plastic bases filled with sand that are rather dismal looking unless hidden beneath a table.  And some of the cool wrought iron bases, although heavy, are so low to the ground that they still may flip over when a strong wind gust comes along, unless supported by a table.  Since this umbrella is free standing (no added table), I needed something with a bit of heft and height (more than the flat wrought iron bases could afford).  So, "Viola", an instant umbrella base!
This thing is HEAVY.  To minimize the bottom of the umbrella pole from sliding around within the planter base, I took a plastic storage container (for food), about the size of a coffee can, cut a hole into its bottom the diameter of the umbrella pole and wedged it upside-down inside the bottom of the concrete base.  (whew, did you get all of that?)  The umbrella pole now passes through the planter AND a plastic inner container that is the same diameter which gives added stability and will help keep the umbrella upright during large wind gusts.  For some added support, I wedged random pieces of field stone down into the base around the pole.  This has been up since Spring and the umbrella, although typically closed during storms, has been left up a few times by accident with no issues.  

So, if you see something laying around your property not being used, imagine ways you can REPURPOSE IT to give it some new "life".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Refreshing Brunch Beverage - The "FOMOSA" . . . aka Faux Mimosa

The Refreshing FoMosa

Are you getting ready to have a fun-time brunch or get- together with friends and family?  Will children be present or guests who do not "drink"?  Consider the FoMosa (or Faux Mimosa).  I had some mandarin orange sparkling water and decided to top off a glass of orange juice with it.  The result was a refreshing drink reminiscent of the actual Mimosa cocktail  (minus the champagne of course).

To make the FoMosa . . . 
Enjoy with a glass 1/2 filled with chopped or crushed ice.
Fill your glass 3/4 with OJ and 1/4 with Mandarin Orange Sparkling Water (or you can mix it in equal parts for more "ZIP"!)
Stir and garnish with an orange slice or twist

For the REAL Mimosa Cocktail . . .
Add equal parts of chilled OJ and Champagne (or other sparkling white wine, although champagne is best)
in a tall champagne flute.  Stir, do not shake.  Garnished with raspberries or cherries although I like sticking with the "orange" theme personally.

This easy FoMosa recipe is sure to be a hit.  Enjoy it with breakfast or when you are craving a refreshing beverage on a hot Summer day.  

Note: Do not use Mandarin Seltzer Water.  The flavor is much different due to the "bite" of the seltzer.  For best results choose a Sparkling Water beverage.  Since Frugal Design is all about being "frugal" I've switched from Florida's Natural Orange Juice to the more economical Walmart "Great Value" brand.  Sure it tasted a bit "watered down" to me at first but now it tastes just fine or I wouldn't recommend it.  Like anything else, you get used to it.  Put that $1.00 savings toward your bottle of sparkling water for the above treat!

A nice spot to CHILL-OUT with a COOL drink!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hardy Hibiscus Offer A Spectacular Summer Display

Deep Crimson "Lord Baltimore" variety
If you want to introduce some intense, incredible color to your garden and landscaping beds, consider Hardy Hibiscus.  Also known as Rose Mallow, their massive blooms make an appearance when many others perennials are fading in mid to late Summer.  Mine began blooming near the middle of July and are going strong as we enter August.  I'm always anxious to see the vibrant, dinnerplate-sized flowers..

I always loved the patio planter varieties which are more tropical in nature, but their need to be taken indoors during cold months wasn't ideal.  These hardy varieties can grow well in zones 5-9.  Just give them plenty of sunlight (6+ hours a day minimum is recommended).  These are planted atop a poor, dry, clay-soil hillside and have been reliably blooming for the past 5 years.  Since I've had such success at my first attempt with these plants, I'm eager to add them to a few more focal spots throughout the property.

They can be a bit strange if you are not used to their habits.  They usually die back to the ground, appearing totally "gone" in the winter and emerge very late in the Spring, (sometimes not until early Summer).  You may even forget about them as I have the first two years or assume they are totally dead, never to return.  Just be patient.  Since they emerge later, they bloom later, giving you a show when other colors have gone.  In better, moister, loamy soil conditions, they can grow quite taller.  Mine typically stay in within a 3'x3' range but 5 or 6 feet can be normal if conditions are suitable.

Their leaves are quite susceptible to Japanese beetles and spider mites however.  Mine always seem to get a beetle attack but the flowers bloom brilliantly nonetheless.  Definitely consider spraying the leaves with an herbicidal soap to combat leaf damage as it is unsightly.  Look for some of the more popular varieties such as Lord Baltimore (shown), Cranberry Crush and Kopper King if you plan on giving them a try.  I doubt you will be disappointed.

Lord Baltimore Hardy Hibiscus

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