Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bye Bye Outside, At Home

Dear Friends,

Thanks for joining us on our Outside, At Home adventures over the past few years.  It's been fun. 

The best part for me has been co-blogging with my sister. 

The second best part has been getting to know some of you.

And of course there's getting our hands dirty and our creativity flowing.

We're closing down Outside, At Home!  We've decided to focus on other things, like our other blogs: Melissa's Place and Daily Parable.  There's also my "on the side" writing business - I'm developing it in baby steps, one little bit at a time.  Oh yah, and there's our real lives... the kidlets, the day jobs, the everyday life stuff. 

Stay in touch.

Maryann (and Melissa)



Friday, September 6, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

 
Well it's September.
Kate informed me yesterday evening that there was a frost warning. 
Summer's fading away.
 
You all know we ran a giveaway this summer.
Anyone who linked up to our July and August Friday posts were entered to win a gardening book!
 
Thanks to everyone who linked up.  There were four of you (hee hee):
Kate, Carla, Rachelle and Michelle.  All lovely blogging friends.
 
The method of selecting a winner was super technical.  I wrote all your names on pieces of paper and had Ben pick one. 
 
And the winner is....


Woot!  Congrats Rachelle.
The only thing about Rachelle winning is she works on an organic farm so what on earth doesn't she know about gardening?
We decided to give her a choice of three books that seem Rachelle-ish so we're more likely to give her something she'll enjoy.
 
Here are our selections:
 
Michael Pollan's Second Nature
Niki Jabbour's Groundbreaking Food Gardens 
 
So Rachelle, comment on this post with your pick and email me your mailing address! 
 
Thanks for the fun summer blogging, friends.
 
- Mary Mary



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Make a Bouquet

 
I made the bouquets for Ben's brother's wedding this past weekend!
It was so much fun... once I got the hang of it.
Fortunately, Edem had just helped a friend with bouquets for her wedding in the UK, so she helped me put them together.
 
This was our work station at the dining room table:
 

These were some essential tools: garden pliers, wire, green flower tape, and pins.  We also used some good scissors, a glue gun, and ribbon.

 
First you arrange the flowers.  This is where your artistic eye comes in.  You kind of have to experiment until you get a nice arrangement.  We used baby's breath, which I found was challenging in terms of arranging.  As you add branches of flowers, you kind of twist them all in the same direction with each addition.  When you're happy with your arrangement, you twist wire tightly around it to keep it in place.  You can add the wire after the whole bouquet is arranged or you can twist wire around certain sections as you do them then twist more wire around the whole thing once it comes together. 


Following the wire, you wrap green flower tape around the stems and over the wire.  The flower tape covered enough of the stem so that someone holding it wouldn't touch the stems, just the tape part.  We used a couple layers of this tape.  For corsages, I put it on real thick so that pins could go through the tape.
 
 
Next, you cover the tape with a long piece of pretty ribbon.
I wrapped the ribbon so that both ends ended up just under the flower.
I tried a few fancy ways of wrapping that I saw on youtube, but I ended up just doing simple wrapping in the end. 



Tie the ends of the ribbon with a bow just under the flower then cut the stems of the bouquet evenly.
I used the glue gun in a few places to make sure the ribbon was secure. 
 
Here's a bridesmaid's bouquet:


 
Here are the corsages.  They actually fell apart during the wedding so next time I'll spray them with hairspray or seal them somehow:


And here's the bride's bouquet:
 
 
 
- Mary Mary
 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cambridge, England in August

My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Cambridge, England.
We left our kids with their Nana, Papa and Por-por and off we went.
 
Here are some pictures and observations about gardens and outdoor spaces in Cambridge.
 
I forget exactly how it all came down. Something to do with grazing rights. But several public parks in Cambridge have cows wandering around the bike paths.
 

I was impressed with the use of space in Cambridge. Some people lived in narrow boats on the river and housed gardens on the boat rooftops. Biking was common and lots of families piled belongings and kids onto one bike in a trek across town. These things made me realize that we, in Canada, are very space rich. And my garden may be small by Canadian standards, but it's huge by England standards.
 


This was one of those examples of a fantastic use of limited space.
 





This apple tree, outside Trinity College, is professed to be a descendant of Newton's apple tree.
 
These punts carry tourists. Some are being punted by professional punters.
Some are self-punting.
This is a punting traffic jam.
(A few minutes later, we watched a punter fall in the water).

The most picturesque and strange walk home from a pub was over a back garden wall and through a cemetery.
This was the oldest street in Cambridge.
This vine-like tree that has entwined itself with the corner house is Wisteria.
 

This is Cory and Sarah's back garden. It had a beautiful patio for outside dining and a lovely spot where Cory loves to BBQ or smoke delicious culinary treats.

 


Sarah had a beautiful container garden.
It housed flowers and edibles alike.
 




 
I was fond of the mismatching architecture and colourful doors.
In observing slightly wonky door frames or houses that leaned slightly to one side, we kept saying that Holmes on Homes would have a fit!

Butterfly bush was a very common perennial I noticed on many railroad ways and in front gardens. I also noticed lots of lavender bushes in front window boxes.
And one house had a shrub in the front yard that was actually an enormous rosemary bush.



 
~Miss Greenish Thumb Abroad~
 
 Link up!
Every time you link up to our Friday posts in July and August you'll be entered in our end-of-summer giveaway... you'll receive a gardening book if you win.
Thanks to everyone who's linked up so far!
This will be your last chance to link up and have your name entered to win! 
 
Take progress pics of your garden and post them on your blog or on facebook.
Remember to link back to Outside, At Home (this post) in your post.
Follow the linky instructions below to add your link to this post and join the Garden Party.
You have from today until next Thursday to link up!
 
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Pour a Concrete Shed Foundation

We have a new shed!
 
But this is really the story of my husband's love expressed in concrete pouring.
 
Let's start at the beginning...
 
Our house came with an old rusty shed.
It was damaged by hail last year (along with our aluminum siding and eavestroughs).
I couldn't believe we received $ to replace it.  
 
 
Once the shed was removed, it revealed a foundation of concrete blocks and gravel....
 

After much research, Ben decided to replace this foundation with a concrete one.
He built a simple wooden frame out of 2x6s and stakes.  
He used the stakes to make sure the frame was level.
He added a bit more gravel to what existed and spread it around pretty evenly except there was less gravel around the edges so there would be nice concrete sides to the foundation.  In most places, there was about 2"-3" of height left for the concrete. 


We mixed concrete in the wheelbarrow two bags at a time.
This was tedious and perhaps we would recommend a cement mixer or ordering in your cement.
We used 40 bags of cement in the end. 
It took two days to pour the foundation and a lot of the time went into Ben lugging bags of cement from the car to the yard.  Mixing was pretty difficult too.  Very hard work. 
 

And did I mention Edem?
Yah, we couldn't have done this without Edem.
She's a concrete genius... among many other things.
She helped with all the technique. 
We (meaning Ben and Edem, really) poured the cement very systematically, starting in one corner of the frame and made sure every batch of cement was perfectly level right after it was poured.
You can see how important the levelness of the frame is in all this. 



 


Here's the final product... 


We bought a plastic shed from Canadian Tire. 
We decided to assemble it on Tuesday after work.
I got home from work and Ben, Edem and Isaac had put it up in the afternoon instead to surprise me. 
So nice.
 


- Mary Mary

Friday, August 23, 2013

August Garden

 
Just some summer flowers and vegetables....




Two sunflowers... they haven't bloomed yet.
lettuce and mizuna
 
 
And surprise... a shed!  More details to come in a few days...

 
Link up!
Every time you link up to our Friday posts in July and August you'll be entered in our end-of-summer giveaway... you'll receive a gardening book if you win.
Thanks to everyone who's linked up so far!

Take progress pics of your garden and post them on your blog or on facebook.
Remember to link back to Outside, At Home (this post) in your post.
Follow the linky instructions below to add your link to this post and join the Garden Party.
You have from today until next Thursday to link up!
- Mary Mary