Garden Greens For Dinner

Bacon is not just for breakfast. Tonight I had a hankering for some leafy greens sautéed in bacon grease. Recently, I purchased thick slab bacon from a local farmer through our food coop. And since I have an abundance of lettuce, kale, and Swiss Chard growing out back, I decided I’d make a light and healthy meal: sauteed Swiss Chard, kale and onions in bacon fat with a generous helping of salad greens drizzled in bacon drippings and bits, and some organic pinto beans on the side. Now this meal is not vegan or vegetarian, but it is high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.   And best of all, it’s quick and easy.

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Get Your Shabby Chic On!

I’m so pleased with the results of my first shabby chic project ever. I’ve read a lot about the process and the brands of chalk paint available. Annie Sloan paint comes to mind as being top of the line. But as fate would have it, Home Depot had a comparable paint for a lot less, and seeing that it was cheaper and in order for me to purchase Annie Sloan paint, I would have had to drive to the next town, common sense prevailed. I opted for the cheaper Americana Decor brand at Home Depot. And as the truly frugal person that I am, I will admit that my bed frame is a hand-me-down from a family member. As much as I love the style of the bed, two things truly bugged me about it: the wood stain did not match my dressers and the bed posts were so high that they obstructed the view of the tv (because watching tv in bed is so important). So, these two issues were the focus of my makeover. This is a snapshot without the tall bedpost. I was able to find wooden fence post toppers at Home Depot as well that made the perfect bedpost topper.

I did spray paint the post toppers in a light coat of black paint. There is a reason for this which I will divulge shortly. I will say that one 16 oz. container of paint provided two generous coats with some to spare. I chose the chalky finish because, well, white goes with everything. Plus, I wanted an old world, antique finish. The beauty of this paint is that it dries extremely fast. So, by the end of the day, I had a completely revamped bed that brightens the whole room. The fun part about this process is the distressing technique. Having a drop cloth down is just as important for this part of the project as it is for the painting, maybe even more so.  Because after the paint dries, the next step is somewhat messy. To distress, use fine sandpaper (I ended up using at least 4 or 5 pieces). Rub the corners and the raised areas such as the intricate designs and pretty much anywhere you want it to look worn. What this does is remove the paint, revealing the dark color below. Hence why I added the light coating of black spray paint to the post tops. Rubbing the areas that naturally would experience wear and tear is what gives it that aged shabby chic look.

The final step in the process is the protective wax coating. Because chalk paint is so porous, it should be protected. I used the Americana Decor Creme Wax. With an old rag, I rubbed the wax all over, making sure every nook and cranny was covered.  The wax also dries fast. The easiest thing about shabby chic is that any mistakes made can be easily fixed with a dab of paint. I have to say, I am loving the new look.

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Garden Fairies Hard at Work

I’m not sure if it’s El Nino or the garden fairies hard at work, but the crocus and hyacinth are pushing up early, and spring is definitely in the air. So, along with all my garden prep work, I decided some fun was in order. Last summer, my granddaughter and I visited an island on the east coast that was inhabited with fairy houses made with just items found in the woods. Of course, we could not pass up the opportunity of build the best fairy house ever. Needless to say our walk in nature that day turned into a creative adventure.

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My granddaughter often wonders about that rustic fairy house and hopes it still stands, warm and cozy for a very special little pixie. So, as I dug out garden tools from the shed, I happened upon a broken planter. I’ve seen several fairy homes online built out of broken clay pots. Instead of tossing this one out, the fairy house came to mind. The next thing I knew, the grandbabies and I headed to my favorite place to purchase cheap craft supplies: the local dollar store. There we collected most of the items needed to build our very own garden fairy house. This project took several hours and a lot of good quality time with my girls, who worked together and made all the decorative decisions while I built the foundation and structural features. The creative juices were flowing with the girls digging out their marbles, shells, and colored rocks they’ve collected over the years.  I added a couple of succulent plants and voila! Luckily, we built it in a protected garden area in my backyard, and so far rains and stormy weather have left it relatively untouched.  The hardest part to this project was packing the soil in a way that it didn’t fall apart as we made the steps or planted the moss and plants.  keeping the soil damp is the trick needed to be successful.  The thing about a project like this is the sky’s the limit when it comes to imagination. It truly is an inexpensive, fun, kid-friendly project.