Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Through The French Door"

If you enjoy publications that inspire your decorating, plus are beautiful - in and of - themselves, I have a tip for you.

Click on over and visit Debra Oliver at Common Ground.

Since my iPad blog tool won't do links right now I will post the full link below. Why should you visit Debra? She has some advance pictures and background from an upcoming book, Through The French Door by Carolyn Westbrook.

This is Carolyn's second book and she explains her philosophy and some advice to boot:

"There is much more to creating a home than going to a furniture store and randomly choosing a packaged room. As I always say, your home should tell the story of those who dwell there. Everyone has a story that tells of their own journey through life. Your home should speak out about where you have been, who is dear to you, and those special trinkets and trappings that you have picked up along the way. Many of you are facing a blank canvas. For some, that can seem a daunting task with all of the white walls and empty spaces that need to be filled. When faced with a large space, it is often a good idea to break it down into smaller little vignettes, that seem to warm up the room and make it more comfortable. A seating area of random French chairs, benches, and gorgeous stacked oil paintings and collections that layer a big wall space to make it breathtaking and interesting, all at the same time, and most importantly, telling your story." - Carolyn Westbrook from Through The French Door

Want the book now? Me too.

And the tip? Debra is giving away three copies! So click to her and see how you can get lucky and get this beautiful decorating book. Good luck. If you win it I would like to borrow it :))

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Collie Rescue Day

Last Saturday was my first meeting of Piedmont Collie Club. I am joining this club to connect with other Collie owners and breeders for fun and learning. They do lots of shows, rallies, herding and education.

The club met at Collie Rescue of the Carolinas in Winston Salem, NC for a grooming and bath day. Confused? No problem! Suffice it to say that we groomed rescued Collies on a perfectly gorgeous day.

Jean Smith, who runs the rescue, opened her house and yard to grooming tables. We brought lots of grooming tools. She also brought out her dog bath. Jean has cold AND hot water running to her hose outside. Very nice for bathing the dogs.

The most often asked question I got on Saturday was, "How many Collies do you have?"

I answered, "Three, one of each: blue, sable and white, and a tri."

There was a sable headed white puppy in rescue and one person said to me, "But you don't have a white."

My response, "My husband would keel over."

Her answer to that was, "With joy, right?"


Something new for me was learning the basics of grooming hocks. Hocks are just what you think, the area behind the leg. I cleaned ears and clipped a bunch of toenails.

There I am below grooming a Collie who had been clipped. That is a no-no. No worries though, he will be his pretty self soon. (Notice my very baggy clothes? More on that soon.)

The rescue also had two smooth Collies. Just as pretty as the rough (hairy) type if you ask me.

Jean's rescue members served up a hotdog lunch after the club meeting. I got to discuss more about living with and training Collies.

It was a really good day for a good cause. Collie Rescue is almost to 60 adoptions so far this year. Quite a record and tremendous good work on their part.

Now I just have to get my Collies groomed!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Job Titles For The Critters

I just happened to be browsing a blog the other day that listed all of the writers pets. I am sorry but I don't remember who it was. If is was you please let me know so I can attribute this idea to you.

Anyway, this blogger had four or five pets. In her sidebar she listed them in job titles like Web Master, Chief Photographer, and Social Coordinator. Cute, huh?

If you know me, you know I've never been above copying the best. I'll get them rounded up and take photos of all ten eventually. Then they can get their job titles.

Here is the first. Please meet my style consultant, Chi Chi Ponton. Named after a French girl I went to boarding school with, Chi Chi has lots of that "je ne sais quoi." She is gentle and sweet. Loves her Uncle Russell the Collie.

Chi Chi was born on the roof of one of the buildings LSH manages. As a kitten she survived five moves by her mom, including one down a tree from the roof. She also weathered thunderstorms and an earthquake! No wonder she is so laid back. I bottle-fed her for the last few weeks until she weaned. Her Collie uncles and aunt kept her clean. Now she is well adjusted and about to be one year old.

Next you will meet the social media coordinator and our zen master. Stayed tuned.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tips That Work

Do you love a good tip? I love to read tips but don't put them all to the test. I collect them, savor them and never get around to trying them out.

But others I have made a part of my life.

After boiling eggs and cooling down the water, don't toss it down the sink. Instead use the water for your plants. Trace calcium and phosphorous that plants need are in the water.

This one I've been doing for years. Only buy white linens. That way everything matches all the time. I only buy white sheets. When one piece, say a bottom sheet, wears out I only need to replace that not buy a whole new set of sheets. Same for bath linens and table linens.

- Clothes editing on the go. When I buy one shirt, I must edit two out of my closet. Same for pants, shoes and everything else. One in equals two out. Keeps you closets uncluttered and your wardrobe up to date.

Here is my latest. I just saw a great tip about using the Swiffer wet mop. And it works! I'm not a total "Frugal Franny" about money but this is going to save some pennies. I like the lightness and mobility of the Swiffer mop and the throw away feature of the cleaning pads. It is a true convenience.

So what is the tip? Here you go: Instead of buying box after box of Swiffer cleaning cloths for the little Swiffer mop, just use an old dish rag. Ok, not life changing but effective.

You still get the quick, lightweight use of the mop but save a few pennies by using and reusing an old rag and your favorite liquid floor cleaner. I use a damp dish cloth and some orange cleaner for the hardwoods and Clorox Cleanup for the white bath tile floors. Easy!

So speaking of tips, here are few sites I like to browse for time, money or fashion savers.

Real Simple Magazine

Zen Habits

Ask Anna

Life Hacker

What are your favorite sources for tips?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Late May In The Garden

Welcome to the garden update! Also, this is my first post and pictures from my iPad. Seems you can't take pictures and blog directly from the iPad. You need a blog tool. So I got Blog Press and it seems to be doing the job nicely. It was $4.99 in the App Store and seems well worth it. It found the pictures I took of the garden and created this post in a jiffy.

Back to the garden. As a gardener, it is so gratifying to see your work from last year blossom and grow. I have lots more to do but things are coming together. Not everything blooms at once, thank goodness. From month to month there are highlights to look forward to.

Around here, May is hydrangea time. Last year I put and/or moved several. Here is the one in the corner by the porch. That's Chi Chi exploring the catmint in the foreground. The pot contains some annual lavender. I love the smell of lavender. It blooms after the jasmine, so there is always a great aroma outside the screened porch.

The conferderate jasmine is still blooming some. It's a heavenly smell and the hummingbirds love it too. It is on the chain link fence between my neighbors carport and my yard. Makes a nice privacy screen. In the foreground, that's Charger, one of my Collies, and Pee Wee the kitten.

The chicken wire, above and below, is around some Zinnias I have coming up from seed. I didn't want the dogs stomping them when they were seedlings so LSH put up a temporary fence around them. Another long-overdue project is to change the landscape logs out for some stone. The logs just don't last!

More hydrangea. When I bought this one it was on sale and the nurseryman did not know what color it was. Surprise! It's a pretty pink one. See the creeping jenny? My new favorite ground cover. It seems to really like the beds outside my porch.

Hydrangea next to the chimney. This one is three years in this spot and doing well. It's a Nikko blue. All of my hydrangea are mop head, I think! Next to it in the containers are a parsley pot (which overwintered this year) and a succulent garden. There is some more creeping jenny and some purple asters that will bloom later in the summer. I am trying to keep this end of the bed to purple and yellow hues.

Below are the Shasta daisies I tried last year. Think I'll get some more this year. Next to it but not blooming yet is balloon flower. It's very reliable and will bloom blue this summer. I also got some white balloon flower last year. We will see if they do well.

I also wanted to show you the new hammock location. This isn't a great photo. I'll do a better one later. As you can see, it is now on a pole vs. the old rotten apple tree. Four kids were playing on it last year and the tree came down right at the ground level. Just broke right off! The kids laughed it off and no one was hurt. We missed the hammock for the rest of the season though. So LSH dug a hole and cemented in a sturdy pole plus plant hanger.

Another project for this summer will be re-painting the garden shed. It's a bit of a mess now. I have lots of inspiration but no perspiration yet! The trim, windows and window shelves need a coat of white. You have permission to remind me to get busy on this!

That's the late May garden here, warts and all. Let me see your garden soon.

Joining Etsy Cottage Style garden party.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Treasures Link Party

For my first Tuesday Treasure, I would like to introduce you to Debra Oliver. Debra is a blogger, Etsy shop ower and Pinner. The trifecta! A one woman idea factory!

Debra's blog is called Common Ground. I follow her and you will want to too. She does a Monday Marketplace with lots of great finds. Here are a couple of pictures from her blog.

A vintage inspiration piece thta Debra included in a post.

Great vintage storage jars from Debra's Monday Marketplace.
Of course there is Debra's own home and inspiring ways with antique finds.

Recent post on her back porch getting ready for summer
featured this darling vintage watering can.
 Just hand it over Deb!

Debra also has an Etsy shop called Common Ground Petite Boutique filled with vintage-inspired items. I have one of her necklaces and I just love it.

One of Debra's necklaces from
Common Groud Petite Boutique on Etsy

Another gorgeous creation from Debra.

And even more fun awaits you with Debra. She finds gathers very interesting items, ideas and projects on Pinterest.  Here are some examples of Debra's pins. Check out her Pinterest boards (she has lots!) for even more fabulous ideas.

So Debra is my Tuesday Treasure this week. Do me a favor and drop in on her and let her know you met her here at Scratch Where It Itches.

What blogger, Etsy shop or Pinner is your treasure? Creat a post with your favorite and link up and let's all see some terrific bloggers, shop owners and Pinners!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Get Ready For Tuesday Treasures

Sorry that I haven't posted in a few weeks. I am recovering from surgery and getting into the new rhythms that the surgery requires.

I have still been busy, though. I have been planning to start a weekly or monthly item of subjects near and dear to me. I struggled with what to name it. There are plenty of cute ways to name a weekly item, but I need it to encompass all the interesting subjects I'm into. So I laid awake thinking of the following names.

Monday Madness?
Tuesday Trash?
Wednesday Wows?
Thrifty Thursday?
Fabulous Friday?

Hmmm, I couldn't decide. And went to sleep.

Here are some good weekly postings I already follow:

Monday Marketplace at Common Ground

Bread box featured on Monday Marketplace.

Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style

Featured on Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style.

Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed

Blue cabinet re-do from Miss Mustard Seed's
Furniture Feature Friday.

Do you follow any of these bloogers?  Some great ideas, tutorials and information!

So I thought and I thought. Going through numerous ideas and feeling like Dr. Seuss. Until I came up with . . . (wait for it) . . .

Tuesday Treasures

So get ready for tomorrow's first Tuesday Treasures.


  Who is  your favorite blogger, pinner or Etsy shop owner? Why do you like her or him?

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back From Mexico

My mother and I got back from Mexico yesterday afternoon. We went straight to bed with cups of soup (both of us) and a protein bullet (me).  We were tired mainly from travelling not from pain. I did not take any pain meds during the airport changes because they make me so sleepy. I took one last night and slept all the way from 7pm to 6am. Whew! That's a bunch of sleep.

To recap why I was in Mexico, I went to get weight loss surgery in the form of a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. It is a procedure that takes about 80% of your stomach and leaves you with one that will hold about 1/2 cup of food. This will become my weight loss tool for the rest of my life.

My surgeon, Dr. Guillermo Alvarez, and his staff at Endobariatric.Com are the best at what they do. In Mexico, the costs are so much lower and the standard of care is as high or higher than in the states.  Watch for Newsweek magazine in the next month or so. They will be featuring Dr. Alvarez as one of the top 10 bariatric surgeons in North America.

Let's Do The Numbers

Starting weight - 257
Weighed in day of surgery after two weeks of pre-op diet - 244.8
Total weight loss - 12.2

Here I am the day after surgery.  I could not have had better care from Dr. Alvarez, Dr. Gabriel, Dr. Garza, Jessika, Jesus and the entire staff.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stingy Gardening

I just hate to pay too much for perennials, or any plants, really. Sometimes I feel like I'm paying for dirt! You've seen it, haven't you? A big container and an itty bitty plant with a root system that takes of one-tenth of the volume? It just kills me.

A hosta I found on sale that can be divided into at least
two more hosta. Love this lime color. It will add
light to the shady border I have in mind.

One way I make the most of my plant purchases is to look for a split-able plant. What's split-able?

- already has one or more plants in the pot
- has a root system that can be divided
- is basically healthy

Not all plants can be split or divided. Certainly not most annuals like petunias, impatiens, geranium or the like. Roses and other ornamental bushes cannot be divided either. Luckily lots of other gorgeous perennials can be divided with great results.

After the hosta is split. I used a sharp shovel. Turn the plant  out of the
container. Then turn it on its side. Use the shovel to split in between
the individual plants to split the root system. Then plant it normally,
tamping down around it to be sure the roots make contact with the new soil.

Patience is the key here. Divided plants are initially smaller and may need a little extra nurturing for the first year. If you wait until next year - - you will be rewarded!

How do you know if a plant can be divided? If you don't know, Google the plant. This may take another trip back to the nursery or big box store but the information is worthwhile. Check to see how it is propagated. If the propagation technique includes root division - - that's the clue. Also check on the method of division.  Is it simply pulling apart roots, like creeping jenny? Or does it need to be cut (like iris or hosta)?

Here are some of the perennials I have had success with dividing:

- hosta
- iris
- creeping jenny (aura)
- bugleweed (ajuga)
- creeping thyme
- jacobin flower (an old fashioned flower my dad gave me)
- balloon flower
- black eyed susan
- monkey grass

Hosta in their new home. They don't show up very well in this
picture, but see the big one? It was a split from last year.
Patience pays.

What plants have you divided successfully?

Obviously I have more work to do.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't Make Me Work, I'm Old

LSH and I laughed 'til we cried watching this video. A lesson for us all about the human condition!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weight Loss Surgery D-2 Weeks

I started my pre-op diet today and also my video log! Here's my first video. I certainly hope I get better at making these as time goes on.

Let's Do The Numbers

Today I weigh - 257
The last time I bought clothes I bought size - 3x

Picture of me today - check out the video

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What I'm Doing vs What I'm Supposed To Be Doing

Yes, I was doing stuff in the garden yesterday while there is laundry and other work to be done. Imagine that!

Headed out yesterday to Growers Outlet in Pineville, NC. Very nice deals on bedding plants, bushes and trees. I got my Japanese Maple there last year and it is looking great this spring.

Entrance to Growers Outlet in Pineville, NC.
Nothing fancy about the place. Just good prices.
I found some really healthy creeping pink verbena for one of my sun pots and another bargain hosta. I am going to split the hosta into two or three plants. I'll post more about that process in the next couple of days.

I also got some pink splash and pink torenia (aka clown rose) for a shady pot out back. I'm going mostly pink this year in the pots.  I also picked up some sale candy tuft to fill in the sun flower border.

If you want petunias this year, Growers Outlet is the place, sans cat of course!

So far I've done a couple of pots. Here are the re-done two pots on either side of the carport.  I focused on herbs and perenials that don't need a lot of attention. So the pots have rosemary in the center for height. Then all around there is varigated thyme, dianthus, aguja (aka bugleweed) a small ornamental grass, creeping jenny and creeping veronica. They will take all the sun and none of the care. Not much water and no food.


Pot on one side of the carport.
Dianthus smells ~heavenly~ when it's blooming.

I've also refreshed the pot with the cocoa liner that hangs from the gate across from the confederate jasmine. We can't allow the jasmine to grow all the way across the gate - - we wouldn't be able to get in! So it needed a little something.  I kept the varigated thyme and the heuchera. Just replaced the viola I had there all winter with a supertunia called "Lipstick."

I have more Lipstick supertunias going in a sun pot in the back. Supertunia's need less care and deadheading than regular petunias, but you still have to feed them.  I'll just take care to feed only the supertunia because the thyme and heuchera don't want food as they are very care-free plants. In fact you can kill herbs and herbaceous plants like heuchera by feeding them. Hands off is what I have learned after killing my share.

The Three Musketeers want to be in the picture.

Laundry - it will wait! There's more gardening to be done. See you later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Junking Day #2, or No Mean People

I purposely scheduled some time off this week and next to catch up and have a little fun. Today was overcast in the morning and chilly. A perfect day to visit a couple of local antique and hand craft stores.  Join me as I roam a couple of neat places.

My first stop was the phone store. I had to replace the plastic cover on the glass of my cell phone. You can guess, can't you? Jessie ate it off. Luckily no damage to the cell phone. She just loves small electronics. I usually go to Verizon in Park Selwyn Terrace as they have great service.

And right next store is City Art Works. This store is filled with local crafts. I wanted one of everything.

City Art Works in the Park Selwyn Terrace at
Woodlawn and Park, Charlotte

No mean people!

Here is a book just for my friend Jane. With a forward by the Village People. So cute!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll be calling you mom!

I really think I will go back for this hand towel. Isn't it adorable? Totally hand stitched.

My next stop was Oak Street Mill Antiques in Cornelius, NC. 

Oak Street Mill in downtown Cornelius, NC.
Here's a cute vintage Collie statue I found. OK I bought it - - just $8.

I would like to find a chippy sideboard for my carport so I'm always looking at bargain furniture.  This dresser isn't a sideboard but I liked the finish. The child's sideboard next to it was also adorable.

Around the side of Oak Street Mill are some other shops including The Dry Sink. Pretty things here as well.

My fellow blogger Alison at The Polohouse would like this vase.

Love this towel or coat rack. I got one for the hall bath. No more folding towels, yay.

And here was a very pretty layer. The greens and blues were very pretty. She was hard to resist, but I did.

As I shopped the day turned sunny and warmer. Perhaps junking brings good weather?

Thanks for joining me and have a scratchy day!