Just a few quick lemon tips for today:

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with lemons lately (mainly due to my current Mediterranean kick), and have a couple of tips to share should you find yourself doing the same:

*To choose a juicy lemon at the grocery store, pick one that is heavy for its size (color doesn’t matter as much as the weight does)

*To extract the most juice from your lemon, roll on the counter with the palm of your hand to help burst the juice pods inside before you cut it. 

*If your lemon seems to be rather low in the juice department, you can try microwaving it for a few seconds before squeezing.

*When you squeeze your lemon into your dish (provided you’re doing it the old fashioned way and not with a reamer), squeeze cut side up so that you’ll see and catch any seeds before they fall into (and get lost in) your dish! – see photo ^

*When you’re done using your lemon zest and juice, and are left with squeezed out lemon halves, use them (cut side down) to scrub out your kitchen sink. They make it shine, disinfect it, and deodorize it all at the same time! What a wonderful, “green” use for leftovers, don’t you think? After you’ve scrubbed, let it set for a couple of minutes to really go to work neutralizing those odors, then give your sink a quick squirt down with your sprayer. Your whole kitchen will smell fresh! – If you’ve got a garbage disposal, send the rinds on down to clean and deodorize down there too (as we learned from Meli a couple of weeks ago!), otherwise send them out to your compost pile.

Hope your day is fresh and zesty!

Have any other uses for lemons? Please share them with us in the comments!

Growing to Cut

I’m so excited that we’ve finally entered into “cutting season” here in Virginia! It’s always been my goal to have a garden that will provide me with constant blooms to bring inside from Spring to Fall, and because we built our home, I had the luxury (or back breaking chore – however you’d like to look at it!) of starting our flower beds from scratch with this goal in mind. –

 Over the years, I haven’t planted anything unless it has a purpose – and in the case of 95% of the plants in our yard, that purpose is to  be cut!

Right now it’s bulb and flowering tree season (I think that flowering tree branches are gorgeous in a vase!),

 and a silly thing about me as a bulb gardener is: I tend to plant them in a very obvious pattern. SO, when you go to cut a few, the pattern is ruined! I know it’s ridiculous (or OCD), but I had to go and plant and entire bulb “cutting garden” just so I could cut bulb flowers without reservation. It’s just a long strip at the edge of the yard full of bulbs, and the whole idea is to CUT THEM ALL! I love it! Makes it so much more fun to bring in my daffodils. 🙂

Speaking of which, this just came to mind: did you know that when you cut a daffodil it secretes a milky liquid that can harm (kill) other flowers if placed in a vase with them. If you really want to add daffodils to another arrangement, just cut and place them in water for about 6 hours by themselves – this will seal the ends and cut off the milk flow. Then you can use them along with other flowers with no danger threat.

Are any of the rest of you interested in growing flowers for cutting? If so, I’d be happy to post about great flowers for cutting that I’ve discovered over the years.

Spring Decor

*You can find me in Beverly Hills today!

Thought I’d share with you what things are looking like these days at (my home) Windy Poplars. I’ve really cut back on my seasonal decorating over the years – leaning towards more simple and natural I think, but I still like to add little touches of fresh decor appropriate to whatever holiday is right around the corner. Hope you enjoy! Do you decorate for Spring? Leave me a link to your pictures if you’ve already posted them…I’d love to come and visit!

Little egg welcome wreath on the font door

This was hard to photograph – kitchen island centerpiece

This was before I added some moss to the mix (around the eggs)


Dining room table centerpiece

Under a lamp in the den

Den coffee table

Bookshelves in living room
A few last scenes from around the house

Fragrancing Your Home

I am convinced that I was born with acutely heightened senses. Things hurt my ears more than anyone else I know, I enjoy tastes like they are a symphony in my mouth (anybody see Ratatouille?), smell affects my judgment and enjoyment of things (or not) almost to a fault, and because of that (my sensitivity to smells), I want to keep my home smelling fresh and inviting. Because this is a constant mission of mine, I have several scent sources that I rely on. Besides the obvious candle, Here are my favorites:

This is a plug-in mini wax burner. It stays close to the wall and out of the way, lets off a little light, and is perfect for a small room like a bathroom or laundry room. Pros: fills the room with fragrance, acts as a night light, is easy to empty/refill because the top saucer is removable, doesn’t take up counter space, and the melt lasts a really long time! Cons: It does take awhile to heat up and get going (maybe 45 minutes), so for drop in company, this doesn’t do much.

Next up is a wooden block diffuser. If you like fragrance oils, but don’t like the wooden sticks look or are afraid that it will get knocked over and spilled, here is your solution: This works exactly the same way, but you use the entire lid as your “wick”. Because it’s such a large surface area, this can easily become overwhelming in a small room, or even a bedroom. Perfect for living areas or basements though! Pros: no spilling, lasts a long time (maybe 6 weeks) Cons: is strong, so you must use it in a well-ventilated area.

This is the classic plug in oil warmer. I like this for rooms like a mudroom or laundry room where it’s nice to have a continual member on your offense battling against unpleasant odors like dirty shoes, clothes, or pets. Pros: easy, and adds a continual light fragrance to the air Cons: doesn’t look very pretty when it gets low, uses electricity.

Febreze Set and Refresh: super easy, super effective for very small spaces. It doesn’t require any electricity, you don’t have to keep adjusting it, it blends in well with a spa like bathroom atmosphere, and lasts about a month. Pro: cheap, does the job in small areas where unit can be close to the nose Cons: not super strong, hard to see when it’s getting low.

This may be an old-fashioned method of fragrancing, but I love a good lamp ring and oil. All you do is place a few drops of your oil into the ring, carefully place it on a cool light bulb, and turn on the lamp! It is usually a very quick fix (i.e. drop in company) if you have odors you want to get rid of fast. When you turn off the lamp, the smell fades quickly too. You can change scents easily and often if you wish. Pros: easy, quick, instant fragrance Cons: a little pricey for the oils, but they last FOREVER, bugs can get caught in the ring and die (gross).

Above is one of my very favorite clean, calming scents: Lavender Chamomile from B&BW

So how do you fragrance your home? Do you have some favorite scents for Spring to share with us?

Sunburst Makeover – By: Carmel

*Tomorrow is our next Little Happy Blog Hop! Don’t forget to come back and join in the fun!

Hello,  I’m back today to talk about one of my favorite things to do and show you a little something I “created”.  I love to shop thrift stores, goodwills, and yard sales for old, unwanted and vintage finds.  I think the biggest key to shopping these places is being able to see the potential.  I love searching for a good “diamond in the rough”.   I created a sunburst mirror with a recent find, and I use the word “created” rather loosely here because the truth is it was super easy!  There really wasn’t much creating involved.  Honestly, all I really did was think outside the box or outside the clock if you will.

I found this baby at a consignment store.  It was hanging on the wall looking a little sad all covered in dust.  A thick, disgusting don’t-let-your-kids-touch-it layer of dust!  In the store it actually looked kind of grey.  Well, the mid-century modern look of it really caught my eye.  I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame 🙂  I rubbed my finger on it to see what it was made of and removed a layer of dust to see the gold underneath.  My heart skipped a beat.  Then I looked over at the price tag; it was marked $18!  My heart was racing.  I could see that this clock was clearly not functional, but I didn’t care one bit because I had no intention of using it as a clock anyway.  I knew from the moment I laid my eyes on it that it was going to be repurposed into a mirror!  
Anyhow, once I de-funked the clock with the power of Windex, I got to work on de-facing her.  Things got a little craaaaaazaaay!  I used some pliers to take off the face of the clock.  I had to tug and pull pretty hard and in the process actually broke a few of the spokes/bursts!  Ooops!
A little super glue to the rescue!  Then I opened up this little box of mirrors that I purchased from Target a while ago for another project.  I think it was $19.99.
I tried out a couple different sizes and decided I liked the smaller one best.
Then I just super glued that reflective beauty right on to the face of what was a clock.  Added a heavy box on top to hold it in place until it dried and voila, a mid-century modern sunburst mirror!
I love love love it!
I love that it cost me a fraction of the price compared to many other sunburst mirrors from home decor retailers.  In addition, this one is very unique.  It was the perfect addition to the hubs office/ man cave. 
Come on over to Our Fifth House to see what’s going on over here!  
Have a wonderful day! 

Sun Tea? Yes Please!

One thing that is always a delight to make when the warm sun of Spring begins to shine her lovely rays through my windows is sun tea. Is that a southern thing? – Everyone has their method of choice, but I love the simplicity of using ice cold water in a quart mason jar (to use a vintage turquoise one adds to the charm I think…humor me-this is a much a ritual as it is a practicality), and three tea bags. Set in a sunny window, or out on your deck/porch until the desired tea strength is achieved. A tablespoon of agave stirred in while it’s still warm, then chilled in the icebox for a few hours, makes for the perfect warm weather refresher! I prefer to use herbal or white teas for sun tea. Black and green teas can take on an acidic bite when steeped too long. I guess I like the flexibility of being able to forget about it for the whole afternoon and still have a delicious brew. 🙂

Do you make sun tea? If so, what is your favorite flavor?