Home Project: Flower Bed Re-do

Current plan for the garden.

One of my summer projects this year has been to ‘redo’ my mother’s perennial flower bed.  This bed, including the bushes around the outer edge, is a little shy of 3000 sq. ft.  A pergola, wide paths, and over 200 plant types…needless to say, a bit of an undertaking.   This bed was installed in 3 phases spanning 6 years.

Phase 1 – 2006
Brick around Beds A-C installed
Beds E – K put in

Phase 2 – 2007
Beds M & N put in

Phase 3 – 2009
Pergola (Bed O) Built
Bushes in Bed P put in
Bed L put in

Phase 4 – 2012

2012 marks the fourth phase where previous beds will be revisited, divided as needed, and inventoried.  Bed D was installed with irises and Beds M & N will be rearranged to make walking through them easier and incorporate Bed P better.

The goals of this ongoing project are:

1) Weed
2) Preen and Mulch
3) Mark
4) Inventory (markers don’t last forever, whatever cute marker you make off of Pinterest)

Thanks to the mild winter, we began with revisiting Phase 1 beds in late February/early March.  This part wasn’t too bad since most of the beds were in place, they just hadn’t been weeded for a couple of years. Extra plants were also removed that had sprouted or reseeded from parent plants.  Regardless, there were many discussions of ‘Is this a plant?’ so flags were used to mark them to watch them grow.

Yellow = ‘Yes, it’s a plant’
Orange = ‘Yes, it’s a plant but it’s gotta go’
Pink = ‘Yes, it’s a plant but it needs to be moved’

The picture on the right shows the number of plants that were removed out of the bed.  It was ridiculous.

Beds A-C include a bricked-in area that contains large container plants which are wintered over, ground cover, a red bud tree, and a new lawn swing.  South of Bed C was an area covered in Ivy and Periwinkle.  Mom has spent the past year or two killing it off, so we made it into an iris bed – shown as Bed D and contains about 24 different colors of iris.  Bed D still needs to be lined with weed paper and mulched – this area will need to be watched since some weeds didn’t appreciate being vacated this year.

Other Tasks to complete, some may have to wait till fall or next spring to complete.

  • Bed L will need to be redone yet, this involves moving a hardy hibiscus and some tiger lilies, so that won’t happen till this fall or perhaps next spring.
  • Break up Beds M & N.  Create walking paths into Bed P.  Divide and add additional day lilies.
  • Move plants between Beds J & M to make wide main path.
  • Level, plastic/paper, preen and mulch paths between beds.  Will need to be mulched again in the spring.
  • Move additional bushes into section P.
  • Dig up remaining periwinkle.

So needless to say, still lots to do.  But here are some images of what we have done so far.

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Working Through the Attic: Plastic Canvas

One of the crafts that Mom and I worked on in days gone by were items made of plastic canvas.  Most of these projects consisted of a great deal of Barbie furniture.  We still have this furniture, hopefully to pass along to the next generation.  But what to do with the canvas and yarn scraps?

Since many of my friends are having children now, I think I will give this a try.  My friend Cynthia has a set from her childhood that her little boy is playing with now and it’s such a cute idea.  We’ll see how it goes!


How to Decorate a Giant Cookie

I love giant cookies.  In my previous life at at a PBS/NPR station, I put together a few PBS KIDS themed goodies and in 2008 I tackled the giant cookie.  After looking at several characters, I picked Grover.  Your supplies will vary with whichever character you pick.  When selecting a picture, go with something simple if you are just starting out.


  • Giant Cookie (purchased or homemade)
  • 1 can white icing
  • 1 can fudge/chocolate icing
  • Gel food coloring – Blue (Wilton)
  • Gel food coloring – No-taste Red (Wilton)
  • Gel food coloring – Black (Wilton)
  • Gel decoration icing – Black
  • 1 toothpick
  • 4 straight pins
  • Printout of character
  • 4 Small piping tips & bags, or 1 tip and 4 bags (you’ll need to wash tip between colors)
  • Lazy Susan (opt)


Purchase cookie at your local grocery store.  Call ahead to make sure they have them in stock, some stores don’t want to sell blank ones.  Or you can make one, either from already made dough or make your own.  When cool, place on cardboard cake decorator board.  Round ones are available and use a spot of icing to keep the cookie on the board.    If you purchased the cookie ready made, the tin it came it is fine.  Place cookie on Lazy Susan.  This will give you flexibility of movement.

Pick your design.  There are many great designs out there in the form of coloring sheets.  Pick a favorite and then blow it up with a copier to the size you want.  I took a piece of a Glover coloring sheet for mine.Use stick pins to attach template to cookie.  Using a toothpick, poke along the outlines.  Depending on the design, you might want to make these close together.  Remove template and check to make sure your guidelines are easy to follow.

Divide icing into 3 bowls and dye:

1/2 cup pink
1/3 cup white
Dye the remaining icing blue.

Remember that the dye will dry darker then when it’s wet.

Take 1/3 cup fudge/chocolate icing and tint with black

Outline outside edge of face, mouth, and eyes with piping tip.  Fill in with blue icing and create texture of ‘fur’ with knife or decorating tool.

Fill in nose with pink icing.  Take remaining pink icing and dye red to make a reddish pink color.  Add a touch of black if you need it darker.  Let set for a minute or two.

Outline mouth with red and fill in with red icing.  Let set for a minute or two.

Fill in inside of mouth with chocolate/black icing. Cover remaining blue outline between mouth and nose.

Pipe  in eyes with white icing.  let sit for a few minute and smooth ridges with a paper towel to make a smooth finish.

Take a melon baller and lightly touch the eyes with the open side to create ‘iris’ outlines.  Outline with gel decorating icing and then fill in.

Let set and then cover. Enjoy!

Cooking Fun: Elmo Treat

Elmo Rice Krispie Treat

In a former life, I worked for a PBS/NPR affiliate and made this for a work function.  It was a nice alternative to a cake and really easy – I made 6 in the course of one night!  These are the instructions for one.


  • Elmo Cake Pan (Wilton)
  • Gel Food Coloring – No Taste Red (Wilton)
  • Gel Food Coloring – Gold (Wilton)
  • Gel Food Coloring – Black (Wilton)
  • 1 can White Icing
  • 1 can Fudge Chocolate Icing
  • Gel Decorating Icing – Black
  • Melon Baller – optional


  1. Grease Elmo Cake Pan, spray works well.
  2. Fix Rice Krispie recipe (see below)
  3. Pour Rice Krispie into the pan and let cool for about 15 minutes or till pan is still warm to touch.
  4. Flip over pan onto serving platter or carrier. If pan doesn’t lift off easily, then warm a towel and lay on pan to warm the surface.  Lift off when able and let cool completely.
  5. Tint Icing
    1/4 cup white – gold
    1/8 cup fudge – black (using fudge/chocolate limits the amount of black food coloring needed)
  6. Ice eyeballs in white
  7. Using picture on cake pan label as a guide, outline mouth with black gel decorating icing.  Then using the colored fudge icing, fill in mouth.  Use a toothpick or knife to guide icing into corners.
  8. Ice nose in gold icing.
  9. Using the melon baller, create a circle on the eyeball for Elmo’s iris.  Use black gel decorating icing to outline.  Let set for a few minutes and then fill in with gel decorating icing.

All Done!  Enjoy!

Rice Krispie Recipe

Use Official Rice Krispie recipe found here. Right after marshmallows are melted, add about 1 1/2 tsp red gel food coloring.  The color will get deeper as the rice krispie cools.