My Trip to Central Europe – Part 2

Greetings!  Here’s Part 2 of my November trip to Central Europe.  Today’s post will include my time in Prague, Karlovy Vary, and London.

Day 4 – Prague, Czech Republic

Our tour’s last stop was Prague, and it’s a truly stunning city.  It was barely touched by bombs during the second World War, so it’s a wonderful place to see historic architecture dating back centuries.

Charles_Bridge1

After checking in at the hotel our group took the streetcar down to the Charles Bridge.

Infant_Jesus2

Infant Jesus 1

I also visited the church of the Infant Baby Jesus, whose altar is over-the-top ornate. The statue of the baby Jesus has hundreds of lush, ornate outfits, and the church is a pilgrimage destination for many.

Group_dinner

That evening we had a group dinner at a local restaurant. The food wasn’t spectacular, but a lively older gentleman played music (keyboards, trumpet, violin and vocals!) and it was a fun outing with my tour mates.

Day 5 – Touring Prague (Last day of the official tour)

We started our day at Prague Castle up on the hill. We only saw a tiny bit of the castle complex, but what I did see was fantastic! We started at St. Vitus Cathedral, took in the changing of the guard, and looked out over the river and the city.

St.Vitus_Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral’s main entrance

St.Vitus

St. Vitus Cathedral interior.  Wow.  Just wow!

St.Vitus2

There were at least 6 stunning windows this size and shape featuring colorful scenes.  

St.Vitus3

Another view of St. Vitus Cathedral

Changing_of_guard

The changing of the guard on Castle Hill

astronomical_clock

We also visited Old Town Prague, and saw the famous astronomical clock. The square there has a bit of a carnival feel, with live music, horse drawn carriages, and street performers – oh, and loads of tourists. I wandered the streets and did a bit of shopping that afternoon.

clock_detail

Closer shot of a section of the astronomical clock

Czech Pub

That night I grabbed dinner in a pub that seemed to be a hangout for locals – Restaurace U Parlamentu. People drinking beer (Czech’s love beer!), smoking, and visiting with friends. I have an aversion to cigarette smoke, but put that aside in order to take in a non-touristy scene.

goulash

I had Czech goulash with dumplings, and was super curious about the table of eight older men who were drinking, smoking, and visiting at the table next to me. I wish I’d been able to tell what they were talking about – who they were. :]

Day 6 – Old Town Prague

After sleeping in and grabbing some breakfast, I took the streetcar to Old Town and visited a few antique stores. I also visited the lovely Tyn Cathedral and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

Jewish_Cemetery1

Such history…

fall_foliage

The fall leaves were just gorgeous

  leaf  

Jewish_Cemetery3

Later in the afternoon I crossed the Charles Bridge again and revisited Lower Town, and then had a picnic in my room for dinner.

LowerTown

Lower town

picnic

Hotel room picnic with food from the market near the hotel…

Day 7 – Karlovy Vary

KV2

For my last full day in the Czech Republic I signed up with a local tour company and took a day trip to Karlovy Vary. Approximately 2 hours away, this town is known as a bath town because of the numerous mineral hot springs. People come from all over to take in the healing waters, and I tasted water from at least four of the springs. They didn’t taste too good, but I like the idea of improved health. :]

hot_spring

One of the springs we drank from…

KV1

Our tour meandered through the town, stopping at many of the springs and the geyser. We had lunch, and then had time to wander along.KV_hotel

I saw the Grand Hotel Pupp, which was in Queen Latifah’s movie “Last Holiday” and the Bond film “Casino Royale” – fun. Mostly I just wandered, and drank in the sights of the lovely town. It was such a treat to be there and to see another part of the Czech Republic.

KV_horse

I loved this horsie – so cute and sweet natured! :]

KV5

KV_canal

Happy to be spending time in Karlovy Vary…

Back in Prague, I saw the astronomical clock do its “on the hour” thing again, and had a tasty dinner before heading back to the hotel, packing, and preparing for my trip home.

Day 8 – Missed connecting flight and my night in England

Mel_and_Queen

So, yeah. I was supposed to be home Saturday evening. Unfortunately, I missed my connecting flight at Heathrow in London. Booking agents are supposed to allow one and a half hours between flights, and I only had one hour and ten. I didn’t get to the next terminal (you’re bused to other terminals), through security and to my gate in time, so I stayed overnight in London. I wish I could’ve gone to London proper and seen more than the airport area, but by the time I got to my hotel it was too late and it just wasn’t in the cards.

London_residential

However, after breakfast on Sunday I did go for a walk in the area surrounding the hotel. I saw some residential streets, visited a park where some adorable kids were playing soccer, and got a tiny bit of a glimpse of life in England on a Sunday morning. The missed flight isn’t something I would’ve chosen, but I made the best of it and saw yet another tiny bit of the land of some of my ancestors.

London_park

Sunday at the park…

London_garden

A cute front garden in the residential area…

London_street

Standing on English “soil” – so cool!

Summing It All Up

I really enjoyed all the countries and places I visited. I had the best time, and am so thankful for all I did and saw! I’ve just provided highlights here – otherwise this post would be (even more) forever long – but I hope you enjoyed a peek at my travels. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Oh, and if you’re interested in a similar trip, I’d totally recommend Gate 1 Travel’s Affordable Central Europe trip. Gate 1 did a great job (except for the London connecting flight timing – LOL) and this is my second time touring with them. (Also went to Peru with Gate 1) I added two days at the end, which worked out well, and hope to travel with Gate 1 again. Next on my list? Maybe Thailand, India, or China.  Something to work towards…

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in travel Tagged , , , , , |

My Trip to Central Europe – Part 1

MN_overlooking_Pest

Greetings! I hope you’re all well and happy, and hope you have a wonderful December. Whatever holidays you celebrate this December, may they be joyous. :]

I traveled to Central Europe last month, and thought I’d share some of the photos here. I went on a quick tour with Gate 1 Travel, and had a fantastic time. The trip started in Budapest, Hungary, went on to Vienna, Austria, and finished up in Prague, Czech Republic. I also took two excursions to Bratislava, Slovakia (Woo hoo – a fourth country!) and Karlovy Vary – which is west of Prague. Bratislava was a half-day, and the Karlovy Vary excursion was the whole day. Since this would make a very long single post I’m breaking it up into two parts, and the second post will be shared tomorrow. Part 1 will include my time in Budapest and Vienna, and Part 2 will include my time in Prague.

This trip fed my spirit in so many ways. Not only did I have a change of scenery and see new things, the artist in me was jubilant. The architecture, fall foliage, and overall environments were truly amazing. I was also able to see the work of many masters at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, something that this art major was super happy about. Seeing work by the masters in a museum in Vienna? Pretty freaking cool!

The eternal student in me was happy to learn so much about these places I’d heard about but had never been to. Kudos to all the guides on the trip who taught me so much – particularly our Tour Leader, Dean. He kept our group of 40+ on track, taught us along the way, and always had a big smile on his face.

I was also so thankful to have an opportunity to travel to parts of the world that some of my ancestors reportedly hailed from – including Austria and the Czech Republic.

Day 1 – Budapest, Hungary

My time in Budapest was brief – one day of sightseeing – but I saw so many wonderful things.   Our tour started at Hero’s Square then moved on to Castle Hill where we saw the stunning Mathias Church. We took in views of the Danube River and the city Pest side of the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Mathias_Church

Mathias_interior

View_of_Pest

Next came an optional afternoon excursion that took us to the Great Market Hall, where many locals were shopping. I did a bit of shopping and grabbed a quick bite to eat.

MarketHall2

Market_Stall

The second stop was St. Stephen’s Basilica. The stunning architecture housed the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Oh my!

St.Stephen's St. Stephens2

The final stop of the afternoon was the Parliament Building. Amazing architecture, Hungary’s Crown Jewels and a changing of the guard were just a few hightlights…

Parliament

Parliament_meeting

Parliament_detail

Day 2 – Moving on to Vienna, Austria

It didn’t take long to get to Vienna, and we stopped in the center of town for an hour or so before meeting a local guide for our tour of the Schonbrunn Palace. Schonbrunn Palace was spectacular! The “modest” summer home of the Hapsburgs, it’s truly stunning. Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed inside the palace, but some of my favorite details included the blog room with hand painted wallpaper, an exquisite room walled and furnished with inlaid wood, and “the backyard”.

Schonbrunn_Palace

Schonbrunn_oak_tiles

Schonbrunn_backyard

Schonbrunn_sunset

Schonbrunn_walkway

I took the subway from the hotel to the Karlsplatz stop and found some dinner. I was proud of myself for managing the subway in a foreign land on my own, and enjoyed seeing the buildings lit up at night.

Vienna_night

Day 3 – Bratislava & Vienna

I jumped at the chance to go across the border into Slovakia, and really enjoyed the morning’s trip. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and we went to the historic old city center. Some of the buildings and architecture I saw date back 500 years. Crazy and cool. :] Many famous musicians lived, studied and played there – like Beethoven.

Bratislava

Bratislava_door

Bratislava_Building

Bratislava_tree

Bratislava_streetcar

Bratislava_fall

Back in Vienna I visited the spectacular St. Stephen’s Cathedral (no mummified hand in this one! I had a late lunch/early dinner of bratwurst with fried potatoes and sauerkraut – it was yummy! Next I visited the Albertina and was treated to the work of artists like Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Munch, Kandisky and Magritte. There was also a whole exhibit on Miro. I finished up a wonderful day with Apfelstrudel at Café Mozart and took the subway back to my hotel.

Stephens_Cathedral_Vienna

Stephen's_detail

St.Stephens_Vienna

Durer's Hare

Albertina

Apfelstrudel

Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of the pictures from my trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed Budapest and Vienna!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in travel Tagged , , , , |

Education, Sewing & Quilting

pillowcase

Hi there, how are you? I’ve been a busy girl lately, particularly with my new position at work. I’m working as a Community Manager for Ellison and Sizzix. On the Ellison side I’m managing their blog, working on social media (particularly Pinterest and a new Instagram account), and am launching a brand new blog team. This is a lot of fun for me given my enthusiasm for education and my love of children. I’ve spent many hours in the classroom volunteer-teaching art to kids, so I’m super excited to be supporting the efforts of our educators in this way.

I’m also working on quilting for Sizzix. I’ll be taking over the quilting and sewing members of our Sizzix Blog Team in the next month or so, and just came back from the International Quilt Show in Houston. I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to learn more about quilting and sewing. The quilts on display at the show in Houston were stunning works of art, and while I have no illusions that I’ll ever be that skilled or immersed when it comes to quilting, I am happy to start developing my sewing skills a bit. If you quilt you’ll probably recognize the lady on the right in this photo. I was lucky to meet Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt at the show. What a nice lady! :]

JennyDoan

Holy Moly, I’m Sewing!
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Remember my May post called Picking Up a Needle and Thread?  It seems the universe heard me and is nudging me along a thread-lined path. Once I received my new position in late September I decided there was no time like the present and found some sewing lessons.  After all, a gal needs to know what she’s dealing with so she can take informed action in the workplace, right?  Held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, I’ve made the following things at my two classes:

Class 1 – a pillow case (photo at top)
Class 2 – I pieced together the tops of two quilt blocks, which will become placemats.

I’ll quilt the placemats together with the batting and backing, and will attach the binding the next time I’m able to attend a class. Woo hoo! I hope to post photos of the completed placemats in the next month or so. I used some vintage fabric I’d purchased at an estate sale years ago, along with some coordinating new fabric, and hope they turn out well.

Some Upcoming Projects
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While at the Quilt Festival in Houston I purchased a five-yard pack of coordinating fabric that will become a first small lap quilt for hubby and I to use. I love the birds and the turquoise/red combo!

fabric

After that I’ve got my eye on making a larger quilt that consists of vintage handkerchiefs sewn together and then quilted. I was lucky enough to receive an incredible collection of handkerchiefs recently (Thank you SO much Lesa and Cleova!), and would love to use some of them to make a large quilt for our bed.

I hope you’re all well and happy, dear readers. What have you been up to lately?  Please comment and share!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in quilting, sewing Tagged , , , , |

Art Journaling Supply Drive for 2014-15!

kids_at_work

Hurray for ART! I’m pleased to share that I will be able to teach at my Santa Ana school this year after all, in addition to the two classrooms I’m already donating vacation days for in Ontario. My fabulous employer is going to cover my usual work hours for the 3 days I’ll need to work with the kids in Santa Ana this school year – woo hoo! The school is going to provide the core items needed for the kits out of their budget (sketchbook, scissors, crayons, and glue sticks), and I’m going to do all I can to help provide the other supplies that the kids have such fun creating with – things like mini ink pads, ribbon, fabric, and more.

And that’s where I hope you’ll come in, dear reader. Please consider donating supplies or a gift card to help bring art journaling to the entire 4th grade at Wilson Elementary School. If you’re not familiar with my art program for kids, please take a peek HERE and read about my volunteer work with the kids.

SUPPLY WISH LIST

Cotton fabric squares – 4 or 5”
Ribbon – at least ½” wide, please…
Playing Cards
Loteria/Mexican Bingo sets
Patterned paper – 8 ½” x 11” or smaller
Punchinella
Envelopes
Stickers
Cancelled postage stamps

Gift cards for Michaels – to purchase mini ink pads for each child
https://merchant.sgiftcard.com/chrome/michaels
(I’ll happily receive e-gift cards at this email address: melody @ melodynunez dot com)

I’m gathering supplies for 150 kits (four classrooms full of fourth graders!).
Please let me know if you’d like to help me bring art supplies and instruction to the kids.
I’ll be happy to provide my mailing address if you email me via my Contact page.

Thanks a bunch!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, helping others Tagged , , |

Blessed Be the Bunnies…

If you follow my blog you probably know that hubby and I have two pet rabbits.  We adopted Cypress and Pinto from a shelter back in 2010, and have been enjoying their wascally wabbit antics since then.  They’re definitely a big part of our little family.  Happily, we had a unique (to me) opportunity to show our love for them in a new way this past weekend.  They were blessed in honor of the Feast of Saint Francis! :]

Pinto

Pinto, peeking out of the pet carrier to see what’s going on…

Apparently Catholic churches often invite people to have their pet blessed by the church in honor of Saint Francis on or around October 4th – his feast day.  Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, and it sounds like he was a wonderful man.  A non-Catholic, I learned a good amount about him during the little service they had before the blessing of the animals.  And though hubby was raised Catholic this whole idea of bringing your pets to church for a blessing was new to him.

Hubby

Hubby and the bunnies before the event started…

We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but it was such a lovely experience.  The priest, Father Thomas, was very friendly, funny, kind and patient, and all the critters there were so cute!  As expected, there were many dogs.  We also saw some birds, turtles, fish (beta), a little lizard/dragon, and several turtles.  We didn’t see any cats, and we were the only ones who brought bunnies.

Cypress and Pinto were a big hit.  :] They received their holy water sprinkles without a fuss while secured in their pet carrier.  After the little service and history about St. Francis, who sounds like he was a very humble, loving and caring person, we had a little “parade” – which was a walk up to the front of the church for a group photo and then back.

BlessedBunnies

Hubby holding Cypress, Father Thomas, me holding Pinto

After the official part of the event was over we asked the priest to take a picture with the four of us.  We hadn’t taken the bunnies out of their carrier until then, because I was worried that they’d be too afraid or that there would be a mishap of some sort.  However, by that time many families had left and it seemed safe, so we took them out and held them. And yes, I brought along a few of my vintage doilies to lay on the open pet carrier in keeping with the church/altar look.  I’m cuckoo – I know.  :]

Melody

Getting ready to head back home with our precious cargo…

It was a funny, sweet, and fun event, and I’m very glad we went.  I love our bun buns, and want the best for them.  Blessings for the bunnies are always welcome…

Warm regards,
Melody
aka Mama Bunny

Posted in family, life in general Tagged , , , |

Pumpkin Crumble Cake

pumpkin_cake2

Greetings, dear readers!  In honor of Autumn, and the commencement of the “all things pumpkin” season, I’m sharing a recipe for a pumpkin cake today.  No, this is not a cake in the traditional sense of the word – it’s kind of a mixture of a pumpkin pie and a crumble topping.  However, it’s yummy no matter what it’s called.

I found this recipe on livelaughrowe.com, and it’s called Pumpkin Dump Cake on Ms. Rowe’s site. However, that name didn’t sound super appetizing to me, so I’ve renamed this treat Pumpkin Crumble Cake.  It’s easy to make and is scrumptious, and is a great way to embrace the fall season.

pumpkin_cake1

Pumpkin Crumble Cake
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Ingredients

29 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup sugar
12 oz. can evaporated milk
3 eggs
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup melted butter (next time I make this I’m going to try it with 1 cup instead)

 Instructions

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt
2. Beat well and pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan
3. Sprinkle cake mix over top, followed by the pecans
4. Pour melted butter over top
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes

Notes

Per livelaughrowe.com: Keep a close eye, burns easily or cover with foil after 30 minutes.
I followed her advice and covered the pan with foil after 30 minutes.  I baked the cake for 50 minutes total.

Serving Suggestions
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Okay, so I know the photo below looks a bit like stuffing, but it’s actually the Pumpkin Crumble Cake. Given that the pumpkin part on the bottom stays pretty soft, I figured that being able to plate a nice, tidy, clean-edged piece for a photo wasn’t going to happen.  So, I made a happy mound of pumkin-y, cakey, nutty goodness on the plate, and snapped away.  This is a great way to mix the flavors an textures anyway, and wouldn’t a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream be spectacular on the top?  I think so, too.  :]

pumpkin_cake3
Happy Autumn, and Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in baking, life in general, recipes Tagged , , |

DIY Vintage Button Rings

group_rings

Greetings, everyone!  I hope all is well with you and yours.  Today I’m sharing some Vintage Button Rings I made, and hope you enjoy this peek at my latest crafting endeavor.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you’re probably not a bit surprised to see me share this post.  After all, in years past, I’ve made Vintage Button Earrings, Vintage Button Bracelets, and Vintage Button Pendants.  It only seems natural that rings would be next, right?  I didn’t consider making rings until very recently, when nature forced my hand.  (No pun intended)

You see, I’ve got big, strong peasant hands. I get them (and much of my physical appearance) from my Dad’s side of the family.  My father’s hands were truly humongous, and my hands are in no way small and dainty.  Not only that, my fingers have a tendency to swell at times.  Rather than have pricier rings in “real metals” that may or may not fit me at any given time, I’ve decided to wear adjustable rings that I embellish myself.  Then I can resize the ring at will, based on which finger I’m wearing it on that day.  Woo hoo!

Not only is this more practical, given my somewhat challenging hands, I’m really happy about how creative I can be with these buttoned beauties.  They’re unique,  inexpensive, and are so fun to mix and match!  They’re super quick and easy to make, too, so grab your button box (or your Granny’s) and make some rings of your own.

three_rings

Materials
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Buttons – vintage or new
Ring blanks – I found mine on Etsy
Sand paper for leveling the back off the buttons
Wire cutters – for removing the shank from buttons (if applicable)
Epoxy (I like the 5-minute versions for nearly-instant gratification)

supplies

Instructions
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1. Remove the shank from the button (if applicable) by cutting it off with the wire cutters.
2. Sand the back of the button if there’s any protruding bits of shank left and it needs to be leveled out.
3. Place the button face down on a protected surface.
4. Dip the flat, round disk of the ring blank into a small puddle of epoxy, then place the round disk part of the ring onto the center of the back of the button.
5. Make sure the blank is centered on the back of the button, and let the epoxy set without moving the two pieces.
6. Wear and enjoy!

gluing_position

This is how the button looked with the ring blank set on it for gluing – minus the epoxy.

My Process & Yield
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I sorted out buttons and set out the supplies to make these rings one night last week.  The sorting and choosing took a little while since I have (ahem) a fair amount of buttons.  However, once I was actually ready to assemble, it went quickly.

I worked in batches.  First I cut the shanks off and prepped all the buttons, then moved onto gluing.  I had 20 buttons and blanks, and mixed up enough epoxy for approximately 7 rings at a time.  (Tip: I mix my epoxy on pieces of aluminum foil and mix it with a wooden toothpick)

It took me less than 30 minutes to make 20 rings once the buttons were selected – quick and easy!  And I LOVE the way they turned out.

wood_carved_rings

sparkly_rings

colored_rings

gold_rings

MORE!
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Yep, I’m making more.  One might think 20 button rings would be enough for one gal, but one would be wrong.  ;]  Somehow I missed sorting through my silver buttons before making my 20 rings.  This is totally ridiculous because silver’s what I wear the most!  Once I discovered this silly oversight, I knew I’d have to order some more ring blanks and make at least five more rings.  We’ll see how many I eventually end up with – I’m sure it will be more than 25.  I don’t feel bad for this particular excess though, since I already have a stash of buttons and it’s such a low-cost project.  After all, I could collect expensive shoes or purses, right? :]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at my DIY Vintage Button Rings.  Until next time…

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in crafts, DIY, vintage Tagged , , , , |

A New Assemblage & Etsy Shop Sale!

Mystery1

Hi everyone,

I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer.  It’s been pretty hot here in Southern California for the past few months, and I’m definitely ready for cooler temperatures.  I hope we have a cool fall and winter, and hope we get some much needed rain!

New Assemblage

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Today I’m sharing my most recent assemblage – a piece I’m calling Mystery.  The main image is comprised of two different vintage photos – one photo of a little girl on her First Communion day, and another photo that I believe was taken by my grandfather on Guam in the 1940s.  I’ve combined these images with decorative elements like three desert roses (gypsum), washi tape, metallic joss paper, rhinestones, and other decorative elements.  Mystery is now available for sale in my Etsy shop – and speaking of my Etsy shop…

Assemblages on Sale in My Etsy Shop!
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For the first time ever I’m offering a sale on the assemblages in my Etsy shop!  I currently have six assemblages available, and they’re all on sale at a significant savings.  The pieces are usually $140 – $160, and they’re all on sale for $95.  That’s a savings of $45 or more per piece!  So if you’d like to add a one-of-a-kind piece of art to your collection, or want to start a collection, now’s the time!  Hurry over to my Etsy shop, take a peek, and order your favorite today.  :]

I hope all is well with you and yours, dear readers.  Until next time…

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in art, assemblage, vintage, vintage photo Tagged , , |

DIY Patio Railing Planters Part 2 – Herb Pots

garden3
Greetings, dear readers!  I hope this blog post finds you well and happy.  Today I’m sharing the next installation in our DIY patio garden efforts.  In case you missed part one, this is what the patio looked like with the one row of larger planters (below).

patio_garden12

Once we’d gotten the main, large planters in (shared in this post here) hubby figured out a way to add another row of pots for me – smaller ones that I could put herbs in.  Woo hoo!  Again, the constraints were that nothing could be permanently attached to the building, he had to use simple tools on the patio, and couldn’t make much noise.

Materials

One 2″ x 4″ x 8″ board
Fourteen 6″ diameter plastic pots
Galvanized bolts, washers, and nuts (1 bolt, two washers, and one nut per pot)
Two L brackets
Screws
Electric drill

garden2

Our patio is laid out in such a way that there was enough room to lay the new wooden board for the herbs inside the railing and have it supported on the sides by the building/patio walls.  (See far right of the photo above, and the photo below)  Hubby simply laid the board across and made the setup more secure by attaching L brackets to each end of the 2 x 4 – on the inside of the patio.  We wanted to make sure nothing would fall down since the bunnies spend time out on the patio during the day – weather permitting.

bracket

Next, he drilled holes in the wooden board – one hole for each of the fourteen plastic pots that would fit across the board.  You can measure for exact spacing if you’d like, but I believe he chose the “lay the pots out on the board and then trace around them with a pencil” method.

driled_hole

Next hubby drilled a hole in the bottom center of each plastic pot and attached the hardware that would help attach them to the board.  He put the bolt in from the center of the pot going down out of the bottom, so the bolt would stick out of the bottom and slide into the pre-drilled holes.  This allows the pots to be rearranged, which is super helpful.  The hardware was layered this way: bolt, washer, plastic pot, washer, nut.  Once all the hardware was attached to the pots they were inserted into the board – ready to be filled with soil and plants, and easy to rearrange.

pot

garden4

So, now we have three larger rectangle planters, two pots on either side of those planters (barley visible in the photo below), and fourteen small pots in front.  I hung my often-used tools within arms reach.  My trowel and misting water bottle hang on either end of the row of herbs.  I just used some metal hooks that screwed right into the wood.

garden1

I also added some decorative elements – fun!  I found some galvanized disk ornaments at Michaels and added flowers and a butterfly that I cut out with my Sizzix Big Shot and steel rule dies.  The die cut shapes can be changed out quickly and easily if I decide I want to change the look and feel.  I may change them seasonally – will have to see.

flower

And though I know what all I have in my little garden, and where everything is located, I made some simple garden markers from bamboo skewers and washi tape.  I may opt for something hardier and more elaborate in the coming weeks and months, but this super simple version is working well for now.

My plants are in varying stages right now.  Some plants were mini plants that were purchased on little flats at the nursery, and some were started from seed.  Some things I’m growing do better when started earlier or later (to avoid the heat), so this is all just experimental at this point.  I’m thrilled anything is alive given the heat we’ve had lately – it’s been in the high 80s or 90s since we got the garden going in early July.  I’ve been watering frequently, and am pleased that the residents of the garden are hanging in there.

The cilantro plants bolted soon after we got them, and sent up flowers.  Many gardeners would get rid of the plants and start new cilantro plants at this point, but since it’s my first time growing cilantro I opted to let them flower so they can go to seed.  Cilantro plants produce coriander seeds, which can be used as an herb in cooking.  It’s pretty cool that the one plant can be used in two different culinary ways. :]

coriander

Flowering cilantro against an overcast August sky…

These nasturtium plants were started from seed.  I love nasturtium plants and flowers, and though they’re pretty they’re also edible!  I’ll likely add some young leaves and flowers to our plates as the plants continue to grow and fill in.  I’ll feed some to the bunnies as well.  I’m happy that thus far our wee little garden is both pleasing to the eye and completely edible.

nasturtium

Please leave a comment if you’d like to recommend any veggies or herbs that might do well in our little patio planters.  I’m probably going to replace our cilantro and parsley with lettuce plants as soon as the lettuce seedlings I’m growing are a bit bigger, and am open to a few other tweaks here and there.

I hope you have a wonderful week, dear readers.  Until next time…

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in food, gardening, life in general Tagged , , , , |

DIY Patio Railing Planters

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Confession: I’ve had a platonic crush on gardens for some time now.  I love nature, and longed for space to grow things – including veggies.  However, given that I’ve lived in apartments virtually all my life, and that we have our bunnies on our patio during the day, growing veggies wasn’t in the cards.

All that changed with our recent move, though.  We moved in June and I was determined to have SOME sort of garden, even if it was small.  And though I wasn’t able to do a raised bed Square Foot Garden like I’d hoped, we do have a container garden growing on our tiny patio – thanks to my handy hubby.

Hubby made our Patio Railing Planters over the 4th of July weekend, and I snapped some pictures along the way so I could share them with you.  His task wasn’t an easy one, given that we can’t nail or drill into any part of the stucco patio, and had to have everything up off the ground to at least waist height because of the bunnies.  Oh, AND he had to do his work on the patio with limited tools and not disturb the neighbors.  No small feat! (Securing the planters to the building somehow was essential – we don’t want them to fall down from the third floor and hurt anyone below)

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Before:  The patio is 7 feet by 6.5 feet, beige stucco, and had all the charm of a prison.  Awesome, right?! ;]

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The railing is 7″ deep, which meant that the numerous railing planter boxes on the market wouldn’t work for us.  Phooey!

Hubby came up with a great solution though.  Here are some basic instructions and some photos to give you an idea of how the patio railing planters were assembled.

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Materials

3 plastic planter boxes (10″ deep x 10″ high x 24″ wide)
Galvanized bolts, washers & nuts (using galvanized hardware helps fight off rust)
Metal L brackets, that were sprayed to match the building’s paint color
One 4″ x 6′ x 3/4″ piece of wood
Rust-oleum spray paint

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The hardware, wood, and paint…

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Hubby started by putting the wood up on the railing, and marking the spots where the L brackets would be attached.  He alternated – one on the inside, one outside, one inside, one outside.  This first step was part of securing the board onto the patio railing.

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 Next, those marked holes were drilled…

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 Each hole got a bolt, two washers, and a nut.  The “sandwich”/order went bolt, washer, board, washer, nut.

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The bolts were put in from the bottom, so the ends stuck up.  The L brackets were then removed and spray painted…

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Drainage holes were drilled into the bottoms of the planters, and holes were drilled into the boards for the bolts.  This part of the process was to secure the planters to the board, which was already braced/secured onto the railing. 

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When securing the planters to the board, we followed a similar pattern: bolt, washer, wooden board, planter box, washer, nut.  Each planter box is attached at each of its two ends…

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This shows all three empty boxes secured to the board.  

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You can see that the L brackets have been spray painted, and the brackets hold the board securely onto the railing. 

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Our first little plants included rosemary, parsley, mint, lettuce, kale, and cilantro.  I’ve since moved some plants around and added others, but this gives you an idea of what it looked like with some edibles in the planter boxes.  Big thanks to my hubby for figuring out how to overcome our limitations and get our mini garden growing!

Since these pictures were taken we’ve added another board that holds a row of plastic pots (mostly herbs). I’ll share those a little later on, along with photos of how things are progressing.  In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our fledgling garden.  I also hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Warm regards,
Melody

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