How Does Your Garden Grow?

I learned several valuable tips from my husband’s grandmother (like the fact that mayonnaise can help get adhesive tape off a dining room table after your toddler decides to “scrapbook”.  But that’s a whole different post….). The one that I follow year after year is her rule of thumb for spring planting in the Midwest: always wait until Mother’s Day when the threat of a late freeze has passed.  With Mother’s Day in the rear view mirror, I’m in full planting mode this week.  Here are some of my tried and true container combos for partial sun, full sun and shade.plant 1Partial Sun: Most of my deck is heavily shaded but the corner where the container above sits gets a few hours of sun each day. When designing my containers, I almost always follow the thriller, filler and spiller approach.  In this case my thriller is red gerber daisy, my fillers are the Blue Rush juncus (center) and white angelonia.  My spiller is blue lobelia.

plant 2Shade:  I have three pots of the above arrangement in corners of the shaded area of my deck.  After several years of failed attempts to grow shade loving blooming flowers (like impatiens), I gave up and went for gorgeous foliage instead.  I center a small fern in each pot and add my favorite coleus plant around the sides.  This year I used Chocolate Covered Cherry (picked it for the name alone!).  Coleus has become my go to shade plant because of it’s interesting leaves in varying colors.  I have a serious thing for coleus.

Plant 3Full Sun:  My driveway gets 7+ hours of sun each day.  Whatever I plant in the 4 planters that flank my garage doors has to be the toughest thing going because they take a beating.  Kansas City summers are hot (August, with it’s consecutive 100 degree days, will suck the life right out of you and the plants). I always go back to the same simple combo because I know it works and will give me the color I’m looking for well into October. I use a spike in the center for filler and height, red geraniums for consistent color (thriller) and sweet potato vine as my spiller.  Within 3-4 weeks, the sweet potato vine will have climbed at least 6-8 inches out of the pot and be down to the pavement by the end of June. Love it!

I should have mentioned at the beginning of the post that I don’t plant high maintenance plants or flowers. I’m good about watering but I really don’t do much beyond that.  I like easy, breezy flowers that thrive with little help outside of regular watering.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite combinations are so please share.  Happy Planting!





Does anyone else have the urge to bring out spring decor the minute the ornaments are packed away? I’m desperate to dress the naked corners and mantles of my home with something that reminds me of warmer weather because… well, I WANT warmer weather.  For me, snow is enjoyable through the Christmas holiday and then, frankly, it should move along on its merry way.  Unfortunately for this Midwest girl, that’s usually the time we begin to get the bulk of our snow.

But this year I’m not jumping straight to bird nests and bunnies.  I’m going to focus on making my home feel cozy and warm during the frigid winter months.  And maybe if I give a nod to old man winter, he’ll ease up on the snow and ice.  I’ve been hitting up Pinterest for some ideas and here are a few of my takeaways:

1.  Add faux fur throws and fill a lantern with battery operated candles – now you’re ready to nestle in with a good book.lantern

2. Scatter cable knit pillows and throws and enjoy the glow of a lamp and candlelight rather than your overhead lights – the photo below makes me want to break out the board games and lounge around the table.

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3.  Fill a nook or mudroom with your firewood stash, a couple of plaid pillows and some cute boots – perfection!


4. Post Christmas, the mantle is always a challenge for me but I’d love to recreate the one below.  Mix books with some winter branches, tuck in a box and flank it all with two hurricane candle holders. I’d probably opt for working in some antlers vs. the mounted deer head for that rustic touch.  And what’s cozier than a fire in the fireplace?nell hills winter

Photo credits: 1 | 2| 3| 4 

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and check out my Pinterest board here for more winter decor ideas.

A Trip to Nell Hill’s

nh entry

Last week I treated myself to a trip to my favorite home interiors shop in Kansas City, Nell Hill’s.  It never fails to get the creative juices flowing especially when I’m getting ready to decorate for the holidays.  For those not familiar with the name, owner Mary Carol Garrity opened her first store in Atchison, KS in 1981.  Since then, she has opened a sister store in Atchison called Garrity’s Encore as well as Nell Hill’s at Briarcliff Village in Kansas City.  Mary Carol named her stores after her maternal grandmother; a charming nod to her ancestry.

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It never fails with each visit; I’m like a kid in a candy shop marveling at the creative ideas and products the store has to offer (not to mention affordable). I’m constantly amazed by Mary Carol and her staff of designers’ ability to create unique designscapes, like the holiday mantle above.  Natural elements mixed with a vintage style portrait and a pop of plaid combine for high drama.  Love it!

table setting

One of the reasons I’m obsessed with this store is because I walk out thinking I can recreate some of the vignettes and tablescapes that I see.  The photo above is a perfect example.  This tablescape is made up of simple elements: small faux evergreens, bright red ornaments, layered dishes and red and white chargers but the result is stunning.

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If there are two design elements that Mary Carol is most known for incorporating, it’s got to be garden urns and lanterns.  You would think that there are only so many things one could do with these two items, but she never ceases to amaze me by creating original showstoppers time and time again.  In the picture above, this lantern is sitting on a wreath that’s been embellished with picks and platinum garland and the whole vignette sets on top of a garden urn. Wouldn’t this look gorgeous by your front door?

Nell Hills 007 - CopyMe with Mary Carol Garrity (right) at her holiday open house.

Despite the fact that she runs three successful stores, has written her own series of books, and has been featured on CBS’s The Early Show, NBC’s Today show, and in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Midwest Living, Country Living, Victoria (among others), she greets each customer as if they’re an old friend.  In addition to her obvious design talent, I think this is truly her secret to success.  You can always find her in one of her three stores working on the floor and helping customers solve their design dilemmas.  She’s one of a kind!

If you haven’t been to Nell Hill’s, click here for directions to her three stores.

Mary Carol also writes a weekly blog that you can find here.

Spooky Halloween Decor

My kiddos are finally at ages that I can take a more creepy approach in my decorating for Halloween. Skeletons, crows, vultures, rats and spiders – they’re all fair game!  It’s easy and inexpensive to spook out your house.  Here are a few of my go to items:photo 2 - Copy

Michaels is my favorite craft store to shop for ghoulish stuff.  I use the crows and vultures above to perch pretty much anywhere for an instant spook factor.  Michaels also sells realistic looking foam skeleton heads that are cheap, light weight and easy to work with.

skullNo Halloween decor is complete without creepy cloth.  I use it on chandeliers, my mantle and sometimes my front porch.  You can find creepy cloth at Michaels, CVS, Walgreens and most Dollar Stores.creepy clothPlastic spiders can also be found almost anywhere and are perfect for putting on pumpkins and weaving into creepy cloth.spidersCall me twisted but I also love to frame eerie (but not gruesome) pictures to include in my displays. Below is the headless pic I used in my mantle display.  You can find the one I used and more here.

creepy picI then root around my house to find bigger props to include.  This time I used an old window frame and a mantle clock from my dad’s childhood home.  Cake plates, tarnished silver and candelabras also work spooktacularly.  I added a couple of black and white pumpkins to finish the look.


You can also invite a ghoul to your table.  I picked this plastic skeleton up at Walgreens, dressed him up in a thrift store suit and let him be head of the table in my dining (9)

These are just a few concepts to get the ideas brewing.  If you’ve got other great suggestions, feel free to share and remember to decorate if you dare . . .

The Chesterfield Sofa

Finding the perfect sofa for your home is an important decision and one not to be taken lightly (especially in my home where we tend to keep furniture for a very LONG time).  When I started my search for a new sofa for our hearth room, I originally thought that a traditional leather sectional was the direction I wanted to go.  But everywhere I shopped, it was the Chesterfield style sofa that caught my eye.  Dramatic and luxurious, I knew it would be an amazing statement piece.  Suffice it to say, I’m obsessed.  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘Chesterfield’,  you would likely recognize the style with its characteristic deep buttoned upholstery, rolled arms, equal back and arm height and nail head trim.  One of my favorites is the Kensington from Restoration Hardware pictured below.


To many, the Chesterfield sofa brings to mind old fashioned parlors where the gentleman of the house and his guests sipped brandy and smoked cigars following a meal.  Its origin dates back to the 18th century.  Although it’s still somewhat a mystery, many sources say the 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), commissioned the first leather chesterfield settee with its distinctive deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery and low seat base. In addition to being a much-admired politician, writer and patron of Voltaire, the Earl was a known trendsetter. The story goes that the Earl requested a local craftsman construct a piece of furniture that would allow a gentleman to sit upright in the utmost of comfort without wrinkling his clothing.

Decades Home

Today, most people label it as a “lounging couch” since the idea of perfect posture while watching TV isn’t so much a priority.  I’m not sure the evergreen Chesterfield shown above (Higgins sofa from Decades) would have cut it in the Earl’s mansion (he also would be appalled by the idea of draping oneself on it vs. sitting upright) but I think it’s absolutely stunning.

West Elm

West Elm gives it a modern twist with their version of the Chesterfield pictured above.  Their Rochester Sofa has clean modern lines and is upholstered in a sumptuous dove gray velvet

Comfortable and chic, this versatile sofa can come across as traditional and stately or funky and fabulous!  It’s a showstopper that has withstood the test of time.  I’m sold!

Here are a few more of my favorites:

Still want to see more?  This pinterest board I created shows that the Chesterfield really can be a chameleon.