California living and adventures in creativity

Aug 9

Splash of orange

Our rose bushes are not only a beautiful unique color combination of red, orange and yellow, but extremely prolific! They typically give us flowers from April through October, and we are currently on the 3rd cycle of blossoms.

The other day I noticed an orange lady bug hanging out on a rose petal and wondered if he/she was attracted by the vibrant color? I sure was :)

tags:   gardening   home   pretty things   color   inspiration
Jun 24

My DIY Succulent Garden

I love Sunset Magazine. I really don’t say this about any other magazine, but I find so many great articles ranging from recipes to travel to indispensable gardening tips. In one of their recent issues, Sunset did an article on container succulent gardens planted in frames. I was intrigued.

My first task was to find a big frame that would work for this project. Fortunately I found the perfect frame at our local Goodwill Store for a total of $1.20 (they were having a 50% sale that day)! Next, instead of purchasing a bunch of succulents, I thought I would reach out to people in my neighborhood to see if anyone had some baby succulents, aka “chicks” that needed a new home. I was thrilled to meet so many succulent lovers and people were incredibly generous about letting me take some of their supply. In fact, in one case I was doing a neighbor a favor as she was thinning back a section of succulents. I painted my frame to match the trim of our house, and bought some cactus specific soil. I even had left over chicken wire from the compost bin I already had made (yet another article from Sunset).

Here is my finished project. I’m still waiting a bit longer for the succulents to take root before I hang it up in our patio area. As a result of this project I became a bigger fan of the succulent. I love the shapes, the texture and all of the hues of green. Especially in California where water is precious, succulents make beautiful gardens and even vertical art!

tags:   Sunset   gardening   home   succulents
Jun 19

Happy summer!

Finally summer has arrived!

The skies are clear, the sun is out and my outdoor table clothes are officially in use. With summer solstice a couple of days away, I wanted to savor the vibrant colors and tastes of early summer.

Our lavender is out in full force, as well as the incredible blue of our morning glory vine. The encroaching vines of the passionflower have produced some beautiful flowers, the magnolia tree has displayed it’s first huge white flowers and the bright yellow lilies are in full glory.

From a taste perspective, I’m coming to terms with the end of rhubarb season (I absolutely love rhubarb so this is hard for me). Fortunately the end of the rhubarb season also means the beginning of the short ollalieberry season. If you don’t know what an ollalieberry is, you need to seek it out! Last year I determined it won hands down as the best fruit for a fruit crisp. Of course my longstanding favorite, the strawberry, is finally sweet and worthy of it’s reputation.

Celebrating the summer solstice is the perfect time to savor the sights and tastes of early summer before we are bombarded with back to school ads and Halloween decorations.

Happy summer!

tags:   home   gardening   summer
Apr 29

Blue garden chairs

The other day I visited the lovely Allied Arts Guild and strolled through their colorful gardens. I’ve been spending a lot of time in our garden and wanted to look for inspiration. The Allied Gardens were displaying spectacular spring flowers to include vibrant iris, cascading roses and gorgeous wisteria.

Despite all of the plant distractions, I was struck by the vibrant blue of their garden chairs. What a bold use of color! In reviewing the history of Allied Arts, this choice of blue for the chairs originated with one of the owners, Delight Merner back in 1929. Mrs. Merner, a self taught decorator, insisted that all of the garden furniture be painted blue. She believed that blue was a difficult color to use for interiors, but was the perfect color for outdoors where it could set off the green foliage and reflect the blue of the sky.

Garden chairs definitely set the tone for a garden. I remember really noticing the garden chairs in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. Instead of a contrasting color, they are a soothing sage green which blends effortlessly with the surrounding gardens.

It’s fun to think about your outdoor furniture as a true extension of your garden, both in style and in color…..

Apr 17

Jasmine in the air

We have this huge bunch of jasmine outside our living room window. Every day there are more blossoms, and the scent is amazing - nature’s air freshener.

I decided we needed this amazing scent in other rooms, so I created my own little air freshener. Take a little sprig of jasmine, or other sweet smelling spring blossom and put it in a little glass vase. In my case I used an empty glass yogurt container. Now you have a cute little mini bouquet which also acts as the best natural air freshener you can get.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. Remember to enter my spring giveaway!!!

tags:   home   jasmine   gardening
Apr 6


This year I decided I would start some of my favorite summer plants by seed. I’ve never done this before, so I thought it would be fun to see how long it takes and I figured the sense of accomplishment would be even greater (assuming these little seedlings survive:). I purchased my seeds from Renee’s Garden, a wonderful California based seed company which has a wide variety of heirloom seeds. I ended up purchasing some Alpine Strawberry seeds (seedlings pictured), some cherry tomato and mesclun lettuce seeds. She also sells some wonderful mixed green cat grass seeds. Your cats will thank you if you grow some of these!

So all of my seeds have germinated at this point, but they are absolutely tiny. I have no idea whether they will survive. It seems impossible that such tiny seedlings could become real sized plants!

My other project is finally setting up a compost bin. I’ve wanted one for a long time, and with spring in the air, it is time. I found this great video about making your own compost bin on Sunset Magazine’s website. I can’t wait to not throw away any more kitchen scraps!

What are you planting this year?

tags:   gardening   compost   food and wine   home
Mar 30

Easter already?

Doesn’t it feel like Easter is earlier this year? Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t believe Easter Sunday is this Sunday! Where did March go?

This photo was taken during our trip to the breathtaking Filoli Gardens in Woodside, California. I loved the Easter colors of the tulips and other spring flowers, and of course the rabbit! As a result of searching for rabbits on Etsy, I put together this fun collection from talented Etsy artists.

Enjoy, and happy Easter!
tags:   gardening   easter   bunnies   etsy
Mar 11

Surrounded by yellow

It started with our daffodils coming into bloom a few weeks ago, followed by a visit to the Filoli Estate where over 250,000 daffodils were on display. Their vibrant yellow inspired a pair of earrings and my own version of an Etsy treasury with the daffodil as inspiration.

The next dose of glorious yellow came in the blankets of mustard plants in wine country seen on a recent day trip. The yellow of these mustard plants is almost electric, and is so refreshing and energizing.

The latest burst of yellow in my world is our little meyer lemon tree which is literally straining with fruit this time of year. We try to incorporate lemon in as many recipes as possible, but are always looking for a good lemon (preferably meyer lemon) recipe. What is your favorite lemon recipe?

In an attempt to expand our lemon repetoire, this weekend I’m going to try Thomas Keller’s Cured Lemons from his Ad Hoc Cookbook. He says that you can use these cured lemons in many applications, so we’ll give it a try.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to try it.

Cured lemons
8 lemons (3-4 ounces each), scrubbed
1 3/4 plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt

Cut 1/2 inch from one end of a lemon, leaving you with the nicest, widest portion, and slice the lemon into 1/8 inch rounds, removing the seeds as you go and stopping 1/2 inch from the other end. Repeat with the remaining lemons.

Combine the sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Sprinkle just under 1/2 inch of the sugar mixture in the bottom of a storage container that is about 6 inches square. Arrange a row of slightly overlapping lemon slices on top, and top the a layer of the sugar mixture that just covers the lemon slices completely. As you layer the lemons, the goal is to have enough of the sugar and salt mixture evenly distributed on the slices so that when it dissolves, all of the lemon slices will be covered with the liquid. (It is better to use too much sugar and salt than too little, because any exposed areas of lemon can mold.) Continue the process, alternating the lemon slices and sugar mixture and ending with a layer of the sugar mixture on top.

Put the lid on the container and wrap the container tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 weeks, or up to 1 month.

tags:   gardening   home   lemons   yellow   recipes
Mar 1

Daffodil paradise

It was another rainy Saturday this weekend, but I was really excited to attend the Filoli - Sunset daffodil event. The Filoli estate is spectacular, and the grounds and gardens are always breathtaking!

When I heard that they had planted an additional 50,000 daffodil bulbs, I knew I had to see it. I was equally thrilled that Sunset was part of this celebration as it continues to be one of my favorite magazines of all time. Every month, I’m reminded why I live in the West!

Despite the rain, daffodils were popping up everywhere! Here are just a couple of the pictures I took during our Saturday stroll through daffodil paradise. Enjoy!

P.S. Daffodils were an inspiration earlier this season when I selected some wonderful Etsy artists who portrayed the daffodil theme in a unique way.

tags:   Filoli   Sunset   daffodils   etsy   pretty things   gardening
Jan 28

New Etsy Shop Discovered!

It is always such a pleasure to discover new shops on Etsy. There are so many to see, and so little time…..

With all of the rain we’ve had lately, I’ve been thinking about spring and so it was just perfect to stumble upon Monkeys Always Look’s Etsy shop. Allison, a fellow Californian, has a wonderful collection of vintage items, gardening markers, plants and candles. Her shop’s motto, “Things you never knew you needed but can’t live without” is not only brilliant, but perfectly appropriate to her selection of items.

There are so many items I’ve already added to my must-have list. In my spring state-of- mind, I immediately was attracted to her herb garden markers. I love how she has re-purposed silverware to make these charming objects.

I am a huge lover of succulents with their infinite shapes and sizes, combined with the fact that they typically thrive despite neglect. Allison’s Hens & Chickens gardens tucked into a beautiful ceramic dish is the perfect houseplant for your desk. A small cluster of Hens & Chickens will definitely brighten one’s day!

Allison has another Etsy shop called papervictory which offers one of a kind stationary. I’ll have to save that one for another post to give it the attention it deserves.

Definitely take a moment and browse through Monkeys Always Look’s Etsy shop. I guarantee you will find something that you didn’t think you needed, but just have to have.

tags:   gardening   Etsy

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About me

I live in Northern California with my husband and three cats (Pinky, Newbie & Henry). This blog explores creativity in many forms and simple daily pleasures. californiablue handcrafted jewelry is my creative outlet and inspired by where I live. Contact me

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