Shalom's Cottage Home Blog

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Rock Island, IL, United States
Hi, I'm Shalom. Artist, crafter, gardener, flea market enthusiast, bargain hunter, and lover of flavor. Welcome to my journey!

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

My September Garden

My ever-patient Sedum plants waited until everything else in the garden was beyond hope of saving to finally burst forth in fluffy purple blooms (picked 2 of them up for $5 a piece at a garage sale about 5 years ago). I suppose it helps that the leaves are succulents so they can retain precious water - even in a crop-killing drought apparently. And even though it looks slightly out of place, I couldn't bring myself to pull up the lone Zinnia flower, which must have re-seeded itself from last year. I admire its perseverance!  

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I've never had much of a 'green thumb', yet every spring, I can't help but respond excitedly to the displays of multi-colored seed packets that seem to pop up just as soon as Christmas merchandise is slashed down to 75% off in retail stores nationwide. This summer was no exception. The only problem is, with the record-breaking heatwave/drought that paralyzed the midwest for pretty much the entire growing season, I got to enjoy what few flowers did come up for about 3 weeks and after that, I simply could not keep up with watering them. Even the grass gave up and turned brown and crispy, while all other living things hunkered down indoors with the air on HIGH and the shades drawn.

Then September came to our rescue with an almost instant shift in the weather pattern, and I tentatively ventured outside again. Usually, I consider this time of year to be the END of the growing season, but as it turns out, I'm finally getting to enjoy and appreciate my garden - only in a different way than I expected...
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Who knew that while everything else in the garden was dying on the vine, Coleus plants and Impatiens would thrive in the combination of heat, humidity and shade just off my front porch? I even forgot to water them for weeks at a time and they just kept on growing. That monstrosity of foliage is actually several different containers that were originally planted with much smaller plants which are now at least 10X BIGGER (I'm not kidding). Picked up for a song at a local plant sale in April, I'd say I got a good deal!

Here's a top view of my Coleus plants, showing the 3 different types of plants (red, green and white) and how they expanded from their containers to reach all the way from the grass in the front yard to the front of my house (about 5 feet).

I've always been a sucker for Mums - especially this year, when the sight of their cheerful, round faces gave me hope that I might still be able to enjoy a little color in my garden before winter (hint: they only look like they've been planted directly into the ground - actually it's just a row of them that I plopped into decorative pots and set in front of my garden to distract from all the other dead flowers).

Of course, the minute I saw neatly stacked bales of hay on display at a local garden center, I couldn't resist bringing one home to cover all that dirt on the planter whose original flowers had already gone to heaven. I still had my fall wreath from last year, stored in my office, so 5 minutes (and some sweeping) later, I had a new front porch to look forward to coming home to after long walks with my one-year-old son. Now it just needs pumpkins!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Easy Decoupage Pumpkins

Photo © Shalom Schultz

I've always wanted to try this, but all the instructions I'd come across previously seemed far too complicated, so I came up with my own!

First, I bought a mini artificial pumpkin for $3 at the craft store (about 5 inches in diameter). Then, I measured the distance from the base of the stalk at the top to the center of the bottom and cut 1.5" wide strips of some fabric I had on hand in this length (for this size pumpkin I used about 12). Next, I rounded the tops and bottoms of the strips into 'petal' shapes with blunt ends so they'd conform more naturally to the shape of the pumpkin.

Using Alleene's Instant Decoupage (regular glue would probably work too) and a foam brush, I coated the back side of each strip of fabric, then positioned it on my pumpkin, using my fingers to smooth out the edges. Each strip slightly overlapped the one before.

I made sure that the tops of the fabric 'petals' aligned neatly around the base of the stalk, which meant that they didn't align so neatly at the bottom, but when I was finished covering my pumpkin, I just cut a circle of fabric and glued it over the center of the bottom for a nice, clean look.

The whole process only took me about an hour. Now I want to create a whole 'patch' with different size pumpkins and fabrics that I can use again next year!