Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Creating a Beautiful Garden for FREE or on a NOMINAL budget

"You will never see me garden, ever" My husband loves to rib me about that comment, almost 20 years after I said those words--gardening has become one of my greatest outdoor first loves.
When you visit nurseries, one is in awe of all the beautiful perennial, annuals, shrubs, trees, etc that you can purchase to add to your existing garden. At the same time, it can become quite expensive too.

Whether you are adding to your existing garden or just beginning to design your garden, I would like to share some of my experiences with you.

This little garden has been a 2 year work in progress. As you can see, it is a small sloping hill that originally was covered with overgrown grass and weeds. Two years ago, my husband, dug up and cleared all the overgrown vegetation. He purchased bags of black soil to create a rich and fertile ground for plants. A year later, at a garage sale, he purchased a large jar of wild flower seeds thinking that it would be a 'wild flower garden'--unfortunately, the seeds just never blossomed into this garden of paradise that he envisioned. By the end of last summer, I decided to take the reigns and designed in my mind what type of garden I wanted to create the following year. The pictures here are the result of what I designed and created over a few weeks--scratches, black fly bites and all, but worth it all!

This garden is located at my cottage which is further located deep within the woods. As I created this garden within my imagination, I was taking into consideration all the natural resources that I was going to use and relocate for my garden. After clearing the slope from the ingrown weeds, I went within the forest and dug up evergreen trees of different varieties and heights and spaced them apart as I replanted them.

The rocks were found along our shoreline and property and were relocated to their new home. We placed them at varying levels. As I stood looking at the layout, I was very pleased at this 'natural wonder' that was slowly evolving. The fun part was next.....filling it with colorful plants.

At home, my garden has an abundance of mature perennials from which I could dig up small "samples" and relocate them to my garden up north. This was just the beginning as the word spread of my evolving garden. My sister and mother-in-law gave me clippings from their gardens--varieties that I didn't have. As I was mentioning my garden to one of my neighbours who has an incredible collection of large hostas, she said, "Baya, help yourself". It was Christmas in June :) I was happy!
It is going to take a couple of years for my garden to be lush and colorful, but at least now the mold has been set. To add a little color, I have planted impatience and cosmos, which are annuals, but will add a nice balance of color until the garden is truly established.
Not all of you may have access to a forest, but I hope I am able to get the creative juices flowing within you to inspire you. Here are some things to consider for creating a garden on a budget:
  • buy plants at a nursery towards the end of the season when they are selling them at significantly reduced prices
  • if you want to use rocks, sometimes people have rocks in their gardens that they no longer want and are more than happy to have someone take them off their hand--ask around
  • ask friends/family for small clippings from their garden
  • many times when people have garage sales, they also sell samples from their garden for pennies
  • start perennials from seeds

The deers that I have in the background, were like the icing on the cake, that I found at a garage sale, and knew where their new home would be. They certainly blend in with the deer that visit us--the deer must think we are trying too hard :)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From a Mother's Heart

It seems like only yesterday that I held my new born son in my arms--where have the years gone by? It was only a few years ago that he started nursery school and now he is now ending one chapter in his life and beginning a new one.

Last night was his commencement and it was a beautiful event. The principal's message was very eloquent - part of it included this beautiful passage

"you are all children of god and god has planted and instilled in each one of you a special gift. Some of you might have already discovered your gift--perhaps its writing, perhaps its your graciousness and kindness to others, or your gift might be discovered later in life, but whatever the gift is, you will make a difference in the world and in someone's life".

My precious son lit up and looked at his father and I when the principal said "writing" as that is his passion and his dream to become a famous writer.

As the evening was coming to an end (for the parents)--the real party was only beginning once we left the banquet hall, we had a parent/child dance.

As I shared this dance with my beautiful boy. I was remembering back when he was little and dancing with me--his tiny little feet resting on my feet as we used to dance. Yesterday, we were eye to eye, and as I gently kissed him on the forehead and told him how proud I was him, the lyrics to Celine Dion's song "Because You Loved Me" was playing in the background. He started to hum the melody to the song and said Mom, the words are so true.....

"For all those times you stood by me,
For all the truth that you made me see
You gave me wings and made me fly
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
You saw the best there was in me
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me"

I love you Cameron!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Several Interesting Facts about Rubies

Rubies have been cherished and adored for thousands of years. Its name originated from the Latin word "rubeus" which means red. It was considered a rare and beautiful gem by the Greeks, while the Romans referred to it as a "flower among stones".

Rubies belong to the corundum group. The red pigments are from chrome and their hues vary according to the individual deposits where they are mined from. The terms Burmese Ruby and Siam-Ruby refer to the quality rather than origin of the rubies.

The most coveted color is known as "pigeon's blood" because of its pure red color--though it also has a touch of blue in it.

On the Moh's scale of hardness they are measured at 9.

They are primarily mined from Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Brazil.

Rubies have very fine rutile needles that can be arranged with intersecting lines--the most beautiful being the six-ray star or the cat's eye--noticeable in cabochon cut rubies. These are naturally occurring phenomenons and certainly affects the value of the gem.

Red rubies symbolize passion and love and is considered a good luck stone for love.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tips for Looking After Your Jewelry

Jewelry that you wear on a daily or regular basis should be well maintained and cared for. With a little TLC, your jewelry will be in pristine condition.

Let’s begin with daily wear. Are you aware that soaps, shampoos, powders and lotions can build up a lot of residue and leave a filmy build-up under and around a setting? This would reduce the brilliance of a diamond or the brightness or intensity of a colored gemstone. This can also give gold a dull appearance.

Most people enjoy outdoor activities–whether its sports or chores. However, these can also cause havoc for your jewelry. As an example, if you are an avid gardener, and like most people, you want to feel the soil and avoid wearing gardening gloves, you risk losing your rings as they could slip off your fingers. Also, dirt could be embedded within the setting and the stones could possibly get chipped. A bracelet or chain could get caught in something and could get damaged or lost.

If you go to the gym, spa or even have the facilities at home–do not hot tub, sauna or swim in chlorinated pools as these elements can damage gems by wearing away at the polished finish creating a very dull surface. They can also discolor a gemstone.

By adhering to these tips, you will minimize losing or damaging your treasured jewels.
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Monday, June 8, 2009

Check it Out - Classic Jewels Mixed With Contemporary Jewels

When you open your jewelry case, do you come across some sentimental older pieces of jewelry that once belonged to a grandparent and you were fortunate to receive it as an heirloom keepsake? Vintage and antique jewelry have their own unique styles and designs that were significant to their era. I personally love the Art Deco and Victorian periods.

The beauty of these older treasures is that they are sought after today as they were back in their time. In other words, people are always on the lookout for quality vintage/antique pieces. The pieces may be gold, silver, gold filled, metal–but you can do so much by combining them with your contemporary jewelry.
A classic example is how you can take a gentlemen’s watch chain and depending on length, you could wrap it around your neck as a unique necklace, or wrap it around your wrist as a bracelet. Either way you wear it, you could combine any contemporary jewelry with it and it would look absolutely classic.

Your wedding band and engagement ring on one hand, would be very complimenting with a vintage or antique ring on your other hand. If you like to wear multiple earrings, you could wear a small stud combined with an older pair of earrings. Imagine a simple little diamond stud with a beautiful antique chandelier style earring. A classic watch worn with a simple link bracelet beside it is a beautiful combination.

Mix and match and have fun, be creative and you will see the diversity you can create from your own collection. The ideas are endless, the imagination immeasurable.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jeweled 1960's Retro Wedding Bands' Revival

Feeling a little "groovy" or "funky"--wedding bands from the 1960's that were set with gemstones were very popular.

Today, they are once again enjoying a "revival", since they can be worn not only as wedding bands, but also as sporty rings. They look especially classy on a pinky finger.

The gemstone combinations are very vibrant and complimenting with each other. The opal/garnet band pictured here is an example of how the pink hue in the opal was matched with the pink/red garnets--they go hand in hand and look beautiful together.

A unique feature of the rings are the combination of metals used--the coolness of sterling and the warmth of gold. A diverse mix for a dynamic look.

The oxidized background provides more fine detailing and the designs stand out more--they are definitely more prominent.

Twisted wire along with a smooth high polish finish creates a unique mix and contrast of textures.

Some of the rings have the stones set all the way around--if the ring turns on your finger, the design is always the same.

One thing to keep in mind with these rings, is they can only be sized up one size because of the design.

These rings can be combined with your contemporary jewelry. You can also wear them exclusively live only with silver or gold jewelery.

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