Holiday Home – Blue Spruce Wreaths & Garland

Making wreaths & decorating for the holidays using greenery from the yard has become a major passion of mine in recent years. I like to try something different each year using what I have available outside or foraged and then I usually add one element that is bought – like Eucalyptus.

Here is a look at our Newmarket home decked out for the holidays in 2018 using Blue Spruce from our yard as the base.

This beautiful, mature Blue Spruce supplied greenery every year that I filled the house with – I can’t believe in our first year living here that I was buying boughs of pine when I had this readily available.

I save all pruning until November and December now so that I will have plenty of material for decorating. In the case of this tree, I actually found that it grew more small boughs thanks to all of the small cutting done each winter.

I also made a 15 foot garland using the Blue Spruce by wrapping it around our Christmas lights making it an easier job to create. This went over the garage door.

The base of the wreath is made on a wire frame and then I added some dried silver dollar Eucalyptus I’d saved from something else I’d made in the summer. The pinecones I collected with my kids when out on walks.

The picture frame moulding made the perfect display area to hang a sash that I sewed from some silk look material I had. Since we choose not to have a large Christmas tree I think I tend to over compensate with fresh wreaths and garlands!

A detail of this table trestle leg – have you seen what it looked like before in this Apartment Therapy feature? It was a big project to refinish the table but so worth it.

Here’s a glimpse at the front of the house with the garland. There is a post showing how this garage door looked before it was painted here.

There is a tutorial on making a fresh wreath like this one here. Also instructions on this shiplap wall can be found here.

How to Make a Fresh Holiday Wreath

This weekend I’m planning to start some of my holiday wreath making using the pine and boxwood that we have in our current yard. I started some clipping last weekend with this simple branch. The wreaths here were made with driftwood I collected in the summer and this fireplace got a paint update last year.

If you follow me on Instagram I have created a hashtag #shibangwreaths to catalogue some of my wreath projects over the years. There’s a lot that doesn’t make it to my blog but it is on my Instagram @shibangdesigns.

Happy decorating & foraging!

ORC – Weeks 4 & 5 – Pillow Fabrics & Paint Choices

An update on the slow going basement project for One Room Challenge. Having furniture (who knew?!) has made a huge difference and now we use this space all the time. I finally started painting because I want it to be brighter down here but still cozy.

I am using mystery paint from Restore. Usually I’m picky about my colours but in this case these shades of what seem to be warm and light grey/beige should work. I’m not done yet but it is already feeling brighter in these back corners.

The colour is a smoother transition to the downstairs bathroom.

This wall will be a slightly darker greige and I’ve mapped out the picture frame moulding here that I will install eventually. I decided to do moulding that would be manageable with my limited tools – hello handsaw, plastic mitre box and tiny hammer. Below is our last home where I installed this Metrie moulding behind our banquette.

Picture frame moulding I installed in our last home.

This mirror, one of the few decor pieces I brought in the move, will go above the couch to maximize the light coming in from the window.

Pillow: Shibang Designs – www.shibangdesigns.com

There will be lots of pillows on the large sectional so I will be using my own pillows and will add some other basics to go with them…I’m not sure what yet.

Since July my sewing focus has turned to masks but this will be a chance to add some basic pillows made with linen.

To see what everyone else is working on here is the link below:

https://www.oneroomchallenge.com/blog/orcguestss20wk1-khx3f-955p7-bj33w-24pb8-kfs9p

ORC – Weeks 2 & 3 – Quick Update for Oak

The One Room Challenge has been slow going lately and I’m totally fine with that. I’m looking for the easiest way to make some updates with secondhand items.

This media console we bought used with our kitchen table and I believe they’re originally from Pottery Barn.

While refinishing a dining table is worthwhile I just don’t have the energy or interest in making a big mess right now. For the media console I did a technique I’ve used on oak mirrors to emphasize the grain.

Over the years I’ve used name brand Chalk Paint and it’s been good but I now make my own using Plaster of Paris mixed with common housepaint and water. That’s what I have used for this project. It works the same in this application and is a fraction of the cost.

The key is to use a stiff (aka ruined ) brush and push the paint into the grain. Then you wipe away the paint almost immediately.

These are other mirrors I’ve done in this style.

We had a lot of snow fall on Friday and we’ve been so cozy indoors that I didn’t get too far into the basement makeover. It’s comfortable with a couch now and we have so many library books to read.

I have planned the moulding now which will be something manageable to complete with my handsaw and mitre box.

I also found the perfect coffee table a couple of weeks back. I had been looking into how to make a trunk but came across this one at Restore that was in excellent condition and the perfect size – it also locks so that helps keep little brother out of the Lego while the older one is at school.

Here is the link to the One Room Challenge and everyone else’s progress:

One Room Challenge – Fall 2020- Week#1

Time for the Fall One Room Challenge – The best motivation to finish up projects!
Welcome to our basement. When we moved here over one year ago the only furniture we brought were our beds, couch and coffee table. This room has stayed basically unfurnished for the past year so now is the time to make it cozy to stay home this winter!
I prefer to use secondhand furniture as much as possible – for the environment, the quality is often better as is the price. This console we bought with our kitchen table, the TV used to be my Nana’s and the lamp is from the last house.
Last year I added curtains to the window. I bought new sheets and sewed them into curtains.
These cabinets I bought at Restore with plans to paint them and make them into a storage bench similar to our last home.
Here is the room (and the kids 😉 ) in a space overrun with toys. Despite the full size windows, it is dark so I will be painting the walls lighter and adding mirrors.
For months I have been looking for a secondhand sectional couch – finally I found one!


We bought our leather living room couch used in Montreal 8 years ago and it has withstood the use and abuse from kids and pets and still looks good. I had hoped to find something used again rather than buying new but was having trouble finding one. I started to look for a new one and asking my Aunt and friends when I saw this one used online. We hired a local person – Your Friend with a Truck – to bring it to us.
Here is step one of the Fall One Room Challenge to make the room cozier – what a difference furniture makes!
Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

In our last home adding moulding throughout the house was a priority to add character. I haven’t done any yet in our current home but I brought this mirror from our last dining room which I plan to finally put up.

photo: Heidi Lau Photography

This was our last basement where I added this board and batten. I have some ideas for the wall treatment in our current home to give the space more character…they are quite finalized yet.

Here’s some of the materials I’ve been slowly collecting over the past year – paint mis-tints, some leftover Advance paint from the island cabinets and door architraves. I am also excited to sew some new cushion covers for the sectional couch.

To see what else everyone has planned check out the One Room Challenge page linked below:

Wheat Wreath DIY

Here’s another wreath to add to the tutorials on the blog – this time for a wheat type wreath. I used grasses from our yard (Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass). Last year I was considering making a wreath from these grasses that end up in the yard waste bin but thought it would be too tedious a project.

It’s not actually tedious but you do need quite a bit of material to make. Here is a step by step look at how I made this wheat wreath following the same method at the other wreath tutorials using Eucalyptus, Boxwood, and Blue Spruce.

Materials:

  • Wreath Form ( I used wire to bed a 10″ circle)
  • Paddle Wire
  • Lots of grasses ( I had to go out & cut more 3 times)

Collect your materials, I selectively clipped from our Feather Reed Grasses so that there’s still lots in the yard. The grasses are messy so give them a good shake before bringing them inside the house to work. Better yet, make it outside!

Create bundes of approximately 6-7 grasses and layer around the form, wrapping with wire.

Continue to add bunches. Arrange them and trim before wrapping.

As you approach where the wreath began, tuck the last bundle inside.

A view of the backside.

Here is the finished product – simple & made from materials in the yard. I like the colour combination against the grey door. Here it is against black too.

This wreath could be kept until next year or pull out the grasses, put them in the yard waste bin and make a new one next year when the grasses have grown back again.

Continuing with the Fall decorating from the yard – I added some sunflowers that are blooming in our garden to the arrangement I showed last post. This arrangement also uses clippings from houseplants for greenery.

 

More fresh wreath tutorials can be found below:

 

Fresh Eucalyptus Wreath DIY
Boxwood Wreath DIY
How to Make a Fresh Holiday Wreath

4 Simple & Natural Ways to Decorate for Fall

It’s September already and that means a new season and I have some Fall decorating ideas to share. The colours outside are shifting and there are so many simple and natural ways to bring this look inside.

1. Make a Flower Arrangement

While we don’t have flowers in bloom right now (I miss the Limelight Hydrangea hedge I planted at our last house!) we do have an amazing selection of foliage around the yard.

I clipped some ninebark, japanese maple, dogwood, poppy pods, aster and crabapple from our yard to make an arrangement.

I also added some grasses which was a trend I was not a fan of until we moved to Kelowna, where dried grass is a part of the landscape. For this arrangement I used chicken wire inside the lined box which made it so much easier to build the design.

Whenever we go to the beach I’m always looking for treasures, just like my kids. These are driftwood wreaths that I made by shaping branches I found. The grasses are from a row of Karl Forester grasses we have in the yard. This has been up all summer and I’ll probably keep it up during fall until inspiration strikes.

A couple of weeks ago this was another arrangement made with the same materials from the yard but on a larger scale.

In the background below is a new Eucalyptus wreath with a ribbon made with linen scraps from the mask making I’ve been doing.

2. Cut a few Branches to Fill a Vase

If you don’t feel like spending much time arranging flowers, cut branches from the yard are a quick and easy way to freshen up a room without spending any money.

This is some Ninebark that is in my studio. The dark, almost black foliage is a new favourite of mine and it lasts for at least 2 weeks in a vase.

In my studio I have been focused on making linen masks. I started using linen since that is what I use for screenprinting tea towels. Linen also makes a more breathable mask so now I am choosing more fabrics & creating colour collections to work with a fall wardrobe.

This is what I am making (more photos are on Etsy). Flower arranging is a creative outlet that is my break from sewing.

3. Make a Wreath to Welcome the Season

Wreath making is one of the most popular topics on the blog and I love making them so there will be more to come soon. If you have a metal wreath form and paddle wire it is so easy to grab it and start wrapping fresh material. I always save my wire when I remove old leaves and keep the wire in a bundle attached to the form.

A few months ago I was out after a big windstorm and there were willow branches that had fallen all over the beach. I collected the fallen branches – never cut from a tree unless it’s on your property or you ask for permission – and made a wreath from them. Even though I knew this would be temporary I enjoyed the process and saw it as extra practice and even therapeutic!

4. Gather Interesting Sticks & Pinecones to Display

Driftwood, pinecones & interesting branches find their way to our doorstep for display. These plants are Swedish Ivy that I chose since the fuzzy leaves would hopefully be unappealing for the deer and also to clip for arrangements indoors.

Bringing the season indoors is easy with a few natural elements that can be found all around.

As we learned in Design 101 in my Fine Arts Education, in nature all colours go together. I’m paraphrasing but the idea is that naturally colour coordinates and it is evident as you look around at the changing season.

More projects that I’m currently working on are often shared on my Instagram @shibangdesigns if you’re not already following. I share projects & ideas there more often than I blog!

ORC Spring 2020 Reveal – Vegetable Garden & Deer Fencing

Here is the completed vegetable garden & deer fencing I was working on for the One Room Challenge. I’m glad that the deadline was extended because it took me so long to finish. Thinking about the design for the deer fencing was holding me back.

In the end I spent more time thinking about it than actually making it.The fencing ended up being inspired by a combination of a modern deer proof structure by Lauri Kranz of Edible Farms LA and the casual & coastal feeling of Malibu Farm – yes I’m on a California theme now that we’re living on the West Coast.

Inspiration:

Lauri Kranz – Edible Gardens LA

Malibu Farm

Here’s a reminder of what this area looked like last year – in need of some TLC. Now we can maximize our use of this designated vegetable garden area without the deer eating everything.

I started with staining the hot tub and painting the existing raised beds & house trim white (photos link to the process in Week #2)

The Finished Exterior Refresh & Vegetable Garden

These are photos from around the vegetable garden and a look at what we have growing.

Zucchini Growing in a Container

Intercropping Cucumber, Garlic, Spinach

Lettuce, Kale & Lettuce Seeds Sowed 10 days ago.

Snow Peas

 

Deer Fencing Solution

Instead of digging fence posts that may have ruined our irrigation (not to mention our car isn’t big enough to transport large posts) I built boxes to support the chicken wire fencing. I had the cedar 2×4’s cut at Home Depot and then the rest of the cutting I did with my little hand saw and plastic mitre box. I’m not going to do a tutorial on the process until I see how my idea holds up to a snowy winter.

Winterbor & Dwarf Kale

Containers- Cherry Tomatoes & Zucchini

  

There’s a small pear tree that’s in the back along the fence side too as well as two blueberry bushes in the white box beside the side fence. The Okanagan has incredible fruits & wineries and I hope that we have some success with fruit too.

In the past 3 months we have learned so much about gardening and are excited to continue growing more of our own food. Using seeds was new for us and now we are ready to get our beets, swiss chard, arugula and lettuce seeds in the ground for the fall. And now with the deer fencing we shouldn’t have to worry about the deer eating everything.

To see everyone else’s projects check out the page for the Spring One Room Challenge Reveal here.

 

 

 

ORC Week # 7

It’s almost the end of the One Room Challenge, next week is the final reveal. This vegetable garden project didn’t quite get to where I had hoped it would in terms of building an additional pergola but we have had tons of leafy greens so that part was a success.

Everyday, we go out and fill this colander with swiss chard, baby greens, kale and some herbs. I’ve been taking photos to show what we’ve harvested because it is so exciting for us!

Sometimes we pick the Swiss Chard when the leaves are almost full size like this and I slice them into ribbons for a salad.

We make lots of kale chips because that is the only way the kids will eat it.

I’m glad that I bought the Swiss Chard and Kale as seedlings in May because it gave us a head start. The seeds we grew have worked but are way smaller still.

Sometimes we pick the greens in baby size too like the mixes that we usually get from the grocery store.

This is the Candy Cane Swiss chard that I got from the nursery and I love the colour of these stems!

Now we have lavender blooming in another area of the yard thanks to the former owner – what a treat! We have been garnishing drinks with it, adding it to desserts, and enjoying the scent of it inside.

I had been procrastinating with the deer fencing plan…that was until the deer started hanging out in our yard again. I went to get cedar 2×4’s cut and some deer mesh but I haven’t built the fence yet. Getting these materials definitely reminded me of this ORC from 2017 that was featured on Apartment Therapy.

Staining the wood black was tons of extra labour but was worth it. I’m not sure if I’ll do white or the same taupe as the hot tub this time.

Our Kelowna yard with a frequent visitor.

When summer is so short in Canada we are enjoying making the most of it and I’m learning which seeds to get ready for fall planting (carrots, beets, garlic). Cooking and eating salads is way more interesting with lettuce and edible flowers straight from the garden!

Have a look at where everyone else is as the end of the One Room Challenge here.

ORC – Week #6 – Salad Greens

This week for the One Room Challenge for us is all about enjoying eating from our garden and watching it grow. My plan is to eat all of our leafy greens from our garden rather than buying them at the grocery store from June until the end of September (and hopefully longer).

Since the end of May we have been eating all of our salad greens from the garden for 2 meals per day. My Mum was telling me about how my Grandpa’s family used to grow a lot of their own produce in the yard to feed their large family of 8 and also to save money. I’m just a beginner with limited experience with kale and swiss chard but I plan to learn more!

The kids don’t eat much still, just occassional kale chips but this little one loves eating mint and the kale flowers.

We use a colander to go out and pick the leafy greens. We have let the kale get large but for the lettuces I am picking them as baby greens.

I bought these little lettuce as seedlings (Romaine, Leaf & Buttercrunch for $9 total) – I probably could have started them as seed but wanted to get started asap. There has been enough to pick salad every 2 days.

The lettuces are all in the gaps between the tulips. They don’t need a lot of space since I’m not planning to let them grow to full size. Once the tulip leaves are yellow then I will remove them and try adding some lettuce seeds to get the next round going.

We tried indoor seeding this winter but it didn’t give us a head start outside. In about 4-5 weeks the directly sowed seeds have caught up in size to the ones we started indoors in mid March. Next year we will sow seeds straight outside and start earlier in the season.

No new building has gone in this area, for the past two weeks we’ve spent plenty of time here just looking at how everything is changing. We are all learning together. I am also not comfortable digging 2 ft down where there may be irrigation lines to put posts up for a deer fence. I’m brainstorming a different idea.

This kale plant was from last summer and survived the winter and continues to bloom with hundreds of yellow flowers. We see bees going from one flower to the next every time we are outside. The seed pods are starting to form too.

I added 2 blueberry bushes and tomato plants in the pots along this fence line. I’m hoping that these will be foods that my kids will actually eat! These pots were what the trees (that I showed last post) came in. I’m going to build a couple of planters along this edge similar to what I built in ORC Spring 2017 at our last house.

We also added some cucumber seeds in the raised beds. It’s so incredible to see the leaves pop up. It looked like nothing was happening and then suddenly these just seemed to appear!

   

The mint has come back from this box! I guess I never got rid of it but that’s fine with us, at least we can make the most of this raised bed by growing kale and swiss chard here.

A reminder of how the back raised bed was full of overgrown mint when we moved in last summer.

Here’s a selection of the rainbow of swiss chards growing – Candy Cane & Bright Lights.

This is how the kale and swiss chard looked 2 weeks after planting the seedlings that I bought.

This is 2 months after planting the seedlings. Some of the swiss chard was turning yellow from bugs so we are now picking it smaller but meanwhile the kale remains nearly indestructible.

We are feeling pretty lucky to be enjoying fresh garden salads. Salad dressing is one of my Mum’s specialties – this one is based on her Honey Dijon Dressing.

There are also beautiful peonies, poppies and many other plants around the yard from previous owners that I am loving and have inspired some floral arrangements. 

There is so much to learn in the garden. Also the timing of this Spring One Room Challenge being later in the season means there’s way more to show as a transformation even though nature itself is doing the work, not me.

To see what projects everyone else is working click here.

 

 

ORC Week #4- Herb Growing Tips

This week for the One Room Challenge update (where I’m working on our vegetable garden) I have some tips for growing herbs from Isabelle at Paradise Herbs.
Isabelle and her partner Rob, moved from Switzerland to BC last year to start an herb farm. They also have animals, fruit trees and grow vegetables while using regenerative farming practices.

Herbs are so easy to grow and so expensive to buy, and they add so much flavor to a meal. I think a small balcony herb garden could benefit a lot of people.

Herb tips
– If you have a balcony and limited space, I would take 2 window boxes to plant two sets of herbs. Parsley, marjoram, savory and basil for example all take rich soil and lots of sun, so any normal potting soil will do and plant them in the sun. Some small rocks or sand in the bottom would help with drainage though. All of those herbs, except the parsley, are annual and will need to be planted again next year if you leave the box outside. However, if you bring the box inside over the winter, you’ll have parsley at least all winter too.
In the other box, I’d put perennial herbs that like good drainage and put half sand and half soil in the box. Perennial herbs that like good drainage are rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, sage and oregano. This box should be brought inside at least its first winter (if growing from seed) and especially if you want to enjoy these herbs in the winter.
– You can grow herbs from seed but they require sometime up to 3 weeks to germinate, so do not hesitate to plant them any season inside and expect 80% germination with most herb seeds (50% with rosemary). Within a year though, your rosemary will be 20cm high even from seed.
– Lastly, if you want mint or lemon balm, plant them in a third box alone, otherwise they will take over all the other herbs in the box.
Perennial Herbs:
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
More behind the scenes from the long farming days and what Paradise Herbs is working on can be found on Instagram below: 

Fresh herbs make simple food feel fancy and even if you don’t have a lot of space, they can be planted in pots to enjoy as Isabelle explained.

Since we’re all spending more time at home cooking, here’s a simple recipe based on Whitewater CooksCool Sesame Miso Noodle Salad‘. I love Whitewater Cooks and their recipes that are healthy, often plant based and uncomplicated to make but so delicious. They’re also based in BC near Nelson and have several cookbooks available.

 

I’m not a food blogger – mealtime is too chaotic at our house to be taking decent photos but this recipe is so simple, summery & satisfying that I had to share. I modified it to only use basic pantry staples that are livened up with the addition of fresh herbs & leafy greens.

Dressing:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 vegetable oil

Method: Mix dressing ingredients and add to cooked & cooled spaghetti noodles- (run them under cold water) before serving. Toss with fresh green vegetables and chives. Add chopped nuts and protein as desired. Keep the extra dressing in the fridge and you’ll be ready for another quick meal.

Right now in our garden everything is growing and the kids are enjoying picking and sometimes eating the leafy greens.
My older son loves going out to pick our salad greens and loading up this colander before mealtime. Now of course I wish he would eat them!
These are a couple of books that I have found to be useful resources. Edible Landscaping by Senga Lindsay has lots of different edible garden styles that look good and covers everything from rooftop gardens to potager to urban gardening ideas. Edible Spots & Pots by Stacey Hirvela has information about planting combinations, how to harvest herbs and which choices make the most sense to plant.
While my One Room Challenge is about the vegetable garden area I am also going to plant these trees and grasses. This size of pine was much easier to bring in the car than the 6 foot cedars I planted to create a hedge at our last house.
I figure that this is the ideal time to plant trees since there will be no vacation plans so the trees can be watered daily to become established.
To see what everyone else is up to for the One Room Challenge click here.