Thursday, May 27, 2010

Take Xander to work day

I know most people have a "take your daughter or son to work day", but seeing that Greg and I or any of our friends aren't old enough to have kids to take to work yet, I was LUCKY enough to get to bring Xander. Some good friends of ours just picked up their 9 week old Golden Retreiver Puppy on Monday night and they needed a dog walker today. Yes, twist my arm right? Being a Landscape Designer, my job is very independent. So I thought it'd be best for the dog (and me really) for him to be with me all day instead of just taking him for ONE walk! Okay, a partly selfish reason being his "Dog-mother" instead of "God-mother" to want the CUTEST puppy with me all day, but it's also good for him to be socialized, perhaps more of me being selfish...In any event, here are our adventures thus far.

Picked him up and went for a little walk around their neighborhood, a quick stop at the Garden Center to return a plant and meet some fellow dog lovers. He also got a pup-peroni treat while there.

Next up checking on a job and a quick nap in the grass, I know, life is rough:

Off to another job, here he is in the car:

They gave me his car carrier crate, but he whimpered when I put him in it. So either he doesn't like it and I'm not a good enforcer, or I'm too much of a sucker for that sweet face and a whimper! Heaven help me when I have children. So I laid down a towel, pushed the seat forward and let him ride co-pilot. Plus, I found that he LOVES the a/c blasting on his face, dogs really do make you smile.

We are now back at the office working on a plan, he's lounging on my feet, and will then be off to another job and then home to his mommy & daddy. Hopefully he'll be nice and tired by the end of the day, from the looks of things I think I'll be right!

Have any of you taken your dogs to work? Or am I just lucky to have dog-sat the calmest most agreeable puppy out there? Does this last forever or is it just the "honeymoon" stage??

Lots of LICKS,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hellooo pretty

This Clematis growing up the right side of our garage made me so happy I thought I'd snap a photo to share with you all! It was one of the few things that "came with the house" that we kept. I remember looking at our house while it was on the market and this was in bloom. Although we LOVED the house I LOVED this Clematis too! I think the cultivar is 'Jackmanii' although since it was inherited I'm not 100%. Most Clematis like to have their vines and buds in the sun and roots in the shade. Ours gets about 7-10' tall and about 3' wide, we do cut it back to the ground every spring to keep it, fat, full and heavy bloomin!

Here are the tight buds getting ready to open:

Just starting to peek out:

Open enough to see that stunning ultra-violet purple:

Faded flower once totally opened:

Well hello there pretty!

Perhaps I'll do a little "judicious pruning" when I get home tonight and tuck a few of these into a vase to tumble out on my kitchen table, I'll keep you posted.

Have a great day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bursting Baskets

Saturday we did a LOT of outdoor work, it was beautiful and we couldn't resist getting our planters "up to par." You would think I'd be way ahead of the curve, being a Landscape Designer...well, I think that old saying of The Cobbler's kids never have shoes isn't far from the truth! Spring is SO insane I don't always have time to get things in. Plus, it hasn't been warm enough here to get things growing. (Hmm, maybe that's just my excuse?) :) In any event, this is what I was up to!

We have nice white wire baskets filled with coco-liner (photo below)

I had already started adding soil, but these babies were going in next! There is a hot pink geranium, a tri-color sweet potato vine and a purple million bells.

Here is my "staging area" one of the teak chairs on our back patio. Not exactly a formal potting bench, but it's a good height, easy to clean off and can be repurposed when we entertain.

And here they are now:

These will bloom all summer long with little maintenance. The sweet potato vine and million bells will trail out of the container eventually hiding most of it while the geranium will fill up the back and will give a burst of color to the fence. With a little deadheading and some water from our Rain Barrel (if it ever stops raining here) we'll enjoy them until frost!

Do you plant annuals? And if so, have you gotten around to your containers?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fixture Freshening - Part 1

An easy (and often inexpensive) way to make a noticeable update in your home is to change outdated light fixtures. When we moved in everything was brass, EVERYTHING. And in the right place brass is right, however, I'm much more of a stainless, chrome, lucite kinda gal, and the hubby is a brass kinda guy, so we've made some compromises along the way. However, there were a few things we both agreed HAD to GO!

This was the ceiling mount fixture in our hallways, we were lucky enough to have THREE of them, one on each floor. Hardly something to get you excited about when you see itin the hallway from walking in the front door. They didn't match our style, but we have been on the hunt for something new since we moved in. As you all know time and money are always in competition and we put this project off until now. We finally found the RIGHT fixture and finally had the time and money to make the change.

This is the new fixture, it has a oil rubbed finish, which we think works because we have Brazilian Cherry floors which are dark and we have a lot of Cherry furniture we inherited from my in-laws. The color of the glass dome that covers the light bulb (Compact Fluorescent of course!!) also matches the walls which are Benjamin Moore 'Monroe Bisque'.

Here it is at night, not the best photo, but at least you can see the mottling on the glass, it looks like a moon and casts a soft glow in the hallways now. It's nice to not see the bulbs staring back at you from their brass and glass cage!

We have a few more fixtures to change out, so stay tuned, we're on a roll! Have any of you ditched your old fixtures? Have you re-habbed them or just started over? What do you think?

Happy Thursday, the rain has stopped and the sun is out!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stormwater Solution

With all the rain we've gotten in the VA area yesterday and today I thought I'd focus my post on water...

I participated in a workshop through the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) for their newest program called RiverSmart Homes. They have developed several programs to help mitigate, treat and hopefully lessen the amount of stormwater that goes into the sewer system and gets treated on site. Having the water re-charge the aquifers instead of eroding the streambanks is a huge goal, but an attainable one. It's also a beautiful habitat for birds, bees, insects and butterflies and a great amenity to look at!

One of the programs, geared toward contractor's is to install Rain Gardens for homes that have been through the DDOE application process and have received approval and grant money. The good news is that there are a LOT of homeowners who have applied and been approved. The bad news is that there aren't enough people to do the work!

This one day training taught us about the why's and how's of rain gardens as well as an afternoon session of installing one!

The first step before we even arrived on site is to do a "perk" test. This tests the percolation of the water in the soil. You don't want to install a rain garden in an area that doesn't drain well. So ensuring the soil drains within 24 hours is ideal, this is the hole (photo below) we used to test.

Here is the beautiful soil (photo below) we added to the rain garden we dug out. It was roughly 250 sq. ft. although it was a kidney shape, so not particularly easy to calculate for us "non math" people...This is a mix of compost, pine fines, sand and topsoil. Each mix is different and is based on site conditions.

Here I am (in pink!) adding the soil to the rain garden that we've dug out. Back-breaking work, but SO worth it!

Here is the finished product, lots of native plants, Viburnum, Columbine, Iris and Joe Pye Weed, these will all fill in and leave little soil exposed and will help take root to soak up all that rain!

Have any of you added a Rain Garden to your yards?


Friday, May 14, 2010

Blue Heron vs. My Koi

Well, the heading should give you a clue that it was NOT a fair fight. When we first bought our house (it'll be 3 years in June) the previous owners had a pond, okay, a watering hole with a spitting fish. (That's me being nice.) It was really a hole in the ground with liner and some misplaced rocks. (Photo below)

But thankfully, being the uber-talented visionary landscape designer that I am (ego boost is needed today, continue to'll see why) had a vision for the space. And thankfully, my husband a fellow tree-hugger and plant geek (through helping me in study in grad school) wanted the same things for this space.

His birthday present that August was a backyard overhaul. My amazing crew built us a pond, a REAL pond. I spray-painted the outline did a rough overview with my guys and they went to work, and we left town, gotta love delegating!

This was what we came home to! Don't mind all the liriope, they have all been changed, I will post updates as the season progresses.

The real reason for this post is our FISH. We each got a butterfly koi, mine a silver beauty who I named Silverado, yes, I named her, don't laugh, and Greg's was gold-no name, typical guy...She was beautiful, sleek and sexy, she would twist around in circles when we came outside.

She looked very much like this fish (photo below) from here

We go out every night when we get home to feed them. Often with a glass of wine we'll toss them their food, sit there and watch them eat and play as we unwind and talk about our day. For the past two nights I have been working late and Greg has been on fish duty. Well, last night he came into the kitchen with a VERY sad face. He was holding something in his hand...FISH SCALES. UGGGGHHHHHHH. He said "This is all that's left" and as my heart started racing faster I said "LEFT OF WHAATT??" Then promptly burst into tears. It seems that our pond has been stalked by this beastly bird (A Great Blue Heron) photo from Shari Green

So I spent the evening moping around and having Greg console me by promising to take me fish shopping this weekend. I plan to add fishing line to some of the pond, so it's unseen but will catch any other predators from fishing in my pond!

Happy Weekend to all and keep your pets safe!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Giveaway @ La Dolce Vita

So although I only have a FEW followers, you should all know about this amazing lady and her most recent giveaway! The multi-talented & super sweet Paloma of La Dolce Vita is gifting up a cute notebook from Pretty Chic SF. I personally have a thing for the gray zebra print (photo below), but there is a style for everyone, so go check them out and leave a comment on her blog to be entered!

Even if I don't win I think they're too cute to pass up! But keep your fingers crossed! A sweet life indeed!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Pastel Plant Perfection

Spring is such a beautiful time of the year here in VA, the weather is cool (almost TOO cool today), everything is BRIGHT green and all of my creativity is at it's peak. I get so inspired by seeing all the beautiful pastel colors blending together so beautifully, almost like nature's tapestry. While I was pulling plants for a customer's woodland garden I managed to snap a few photos of some beauties they were getting:

Bleeding Heart 'Candy Hearts'

Bleeding Heart 'Alba'

Foamflower I think this was 'Running Tapestry'

Do you have any of these in your yard? I'm off to work on a master plan, so I will leave you with those to enjoy for now.

Happy Monday! *Amy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bake For Hope

If there is one cause that is close to my heart, it's Breast Cancer. My Aunt has survived it twice, she's one of 2.5 millions survivors (as of 2008)! I have clients who have it, one of my best friends mom's had it and sadly passed away because of it, thankfully none of our younger friends have been diagnosed, although with statistics saying 1 in 8 women will get the disease, I'm sure sadly it's only a time game. I have done "Race for the Cure" through Susan G. Komen in the past, but this year was intrigued by a flyer I saw called "Bake for Hope" . The Pear Tree Cottage, a cute shop in Vienna, VA where I have taught seminars is hosting the event, TODAY May 7th from 12-5. And we all know I LOVE to bake, so count me in!

Last night I whipped up these babies (photo below) from Martha Stewart's book "Cupcakes". They are her Strawberry Cupcake, however I made my own buttercream frosting and added the Pink Ribbon sprinkles to the top.

Here's a little behind the scenes baking and decorating process!

Chopped strawberries to be folded into the batter!

Mixing the batter with my AMAZING KitchenAid mixer, can't live without that baby!

Here I am folding in the strawberries, mmmm...

And then pouring them into the CUTE pink ribbon cupcake holders-just a side note, IF you should make these, they DO rise, so really only fill them 3/4 full. I had a few FAT cupcakes.

Finally, they were being frosted by me and sprinkled by my sweet husband. Honestly, I don't know many men that would put up with this nonsense! As if I have nothing else to do, aside from work an 11+ hour day, train for a triathlon, make dinner and then BAKE, haha, I guess I'm really good at overcommitting. Hey, at least I get it all done! Here they are, in their cupcake carrier from The Container Store before I dropped them off!

They were a HUGE hit, they've got TONS of great baked goods and all the proceeds go to a GREAT cause. So if you're in the area stop by! Have a GREAT weekend all!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

We put the FUN in Functional...

So I must say, although this project is ALMOST done we really have had a blast. My husband and I can do pretty much everything or nothing together and still have fun. I think that's how you know you married "the right one." This past weekend inspired by the GLASS going in (photo below) we decided to install our towel bars.

Now I'm sure most builders don't ever think about using the space the way a homeowner would, our towel bar (yes, ONE) in the master bathroom wasn't cutting it. Poor Greg had to hang his towel on the back of the door (boo) and it never quite dried (even bigger BOO!) Yes, I got the one bar (true princess!) We remedied that in the remodel and have installed TWO BIG towel bars, so they can both dry...together!

We measured out the space by holding up the bar and towel to see how far apart they'd need to be. We marked the plate that screws into the wall first to make sure they'd be level.

Once they were in fact level and evenly spaced we drilled away!

Here I am screwing in the base of the towel bar.

The first one is up and the second one is on it's way!

And here is the finished product:

We're certainly enjoying it! Let me know if you guys do? Any of you have Chrome? Or are you brass or brushed nickel people??


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So Fresh

As I was headed out the door this morning I spritzed myself with this, it's become my standby fragrance.

Sugar Lychee is the scent and the creator is a company called Fresh. I found their store while on a family trip to Boston a few years ago and fell in LOVE. I am NOT a big fragrance wearer, probably because of my job...landscape design...sliding down muddy hills in boots doesn't usually call for perfume...But this had me hooked. I was happy to find another store in New York on our annual girls trip and am thrilled they carry it at Sephora now, so I don't have to go TOO far to get it!

Their description of the fragrance is:
Top Notes: Grapefruit, Italian Lemon, Lime Blossom
Middle Notes: Lychee, Lotus Flower, Freesia
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Amber

Anyone else have a signature scent? Or are you mood dependent? They sell much more than just fragrances, so check them out!