Friday, February 27, 2009

Plant Encyclopedia

I am not plant savy.

In fact, for most of my life I thought that shrubs were non-flowering plants, that the majority of vegetables grew on small trees, and that succulent was a dirty word.

And seeing as how this spring I wanna grow stuff in the ground, I am so happy to discover an awesome gardener's tool over at Better Homes & Gardens. They have a Plant Encyclopedia!

It's a groovy little tool to make you into an elite green-thumber, tree-hugger and gardening-guru.

All you gotta do is type in your specific requirements of what you are looking for and BHG spits out the options to meet your needs. Check it out - all I did was type in perennials in my zone that grew in partial sun and under 3 feet tall:

And that is only the first 2 pages of options! Plus they give you additional planting information for each plant so gardening has never been this easy! So go on - play in the dirt again...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Golden Rug

Did ya'll know we are in search of the perfect rug?


A rug for our kitchen.

Right now it looks ridiculously....wooden.

A nice patterned rug would be the perfect solution to break up all that gunstock colored wood flooring. Since our cabinets are wood too, it takes your eye and makes it feel a little soaked in oak. It leaves it pining for no pine. It's wallowing in willow. It's maple-ed in...err...yea, I got nothing.

The point is we needed some floor covering and fast. The boyfriend and I headed to the Pottery Barn outlets to see if their 30% special on rugs would yield us a great buy.

Jeremy spotted this yellow one and loved it instantly. The only problem is that it is a 3x5 size. We were really hoping to snag a 5x8 because it would cover a larger portion of the kitchen floor. We searched and searched. All they seemed to have was plain red and a couple pink and green combos...somehow I don't think I would be able to convince Jeremy that pink/green would be the right fit in the kitchen. Plus the key to getting a rug for that space would be a bold but not show-stealing pattern...which none of the others had.

We shirked off the ALL SALES FINAL sign and headed to checkout. What really sealed the deal was the price tag. It was marked down to $89 and then we got an additional 30% off. When we found out that this lovely sunny baby would only cost around sixty smackers, we thought that surely it could work for now and then later be moved into the basement laundry room (I have dreams of a golden laundry room complete with a folding station, country sink, and laundry shoot that magically carries the dirty towels down the center of the house into a basket waiting with open arms!).

Overall, I don't actually think it looks that bad for now. Sure it's a little too small. Sure it's not gonna stay there forever. Sure I will have to keep my eye out for a future bigger kitchen rug but for now this little golden child looks a-ok. Besides, this thing is worth its weight in gold for being so cushy on my knees when I am cooking dinner. And my philosophy is that you buy things you love especially when on sale - in the end, you'll find a way to make it work....right? or did I make a horrible decision and just throw away 60 bones?!?!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Front Yard Planning

When I hear about curb appeal, the thought that comes to mind is not our home. Our house has little curb appeal - the old toilet flower planter doesn't help - nor does the extra tires...attached to that broke down Buick. When we bought the house the previous owners told us that the yard was used as a joke. So in preparation of the listing of the house, they decided to rip out everything.

Last spring we had a 75 foot pine cut down and the root ground out. And that is where we stopped. So obviously this is the right time to plan to get some plants in and some curb appeal out there. Let's get to the plan.

(Sorry about the ghetto "yard map") We have a small front porch that has a long set of brick front steps. Currently our yard slopes from the right side to the left - due to being located on the side of a small hill. We hope to level out the area surrounding the front porch in the coming month. Topsoil would need to be added so that the depth from the porch to the ground is even on both sides. We also want to add actually plants. I know...this may be asking too much or being greedy - wanting grass and shrubs and all...that just goes to show how high maintenance I am :)

The trees I decided on were the following (pictured from left clockwise):
Dwarf spruce
Crape Myrtle (not really a tree but has a high profile)
Flowering Dogwood

Shrubs (from top left clockwise):
Gold Privet
Crape Myrtle

Perennials (pictured from top left clockwise):
Moss Phlox
Bluebeard (actually a shrub but low growing)

So we definitely need to take this challenge one step at a time. But the key is to get a plan written down, right?! First up - get our landscaping expert friend to take a look at our situation and let us know how much topsoil would be required. I am really looking forward to this transformation. I am also looking forward to Jeff Foxworthy no longer making fun of our yard.

Helpful Hint -Georgia flowering perennials link

Friday, February 20, 2009

Herb Garden

Dontcha just itch for springtime?! I know I do.

So as I anxiously await for the warmer season ahead (and for celebrities to stop trying to bring back super-high waisted pants - it's over people, they don't look good on anyone with a normal BMI!!!) I decided to turn my brown thumb green. And if a little determination and a whole lotta dead plants can make me into a gardener, well, I am up for it.

I have been saving my empty egg cartons for about a year...yes, I have packrat tendencies...and yes I have many more not pictured. They are the perfect size to make into your own seed tray. And you'll save a bundle - yay for no money! Pack each egg-noogie with a little potting soil. Then stick your fingertip in there to make the seed hole however deep your seed calls for. Mine was only supposed to be 1/4 inch deep. So no deeper than half my finger nail. Then I threw in a few seeds. Cover, water, and wait. Since my seedlings were going to be living indoors and get watered frequently, I didn't go to the extreme of covering the suckers with saran wrap...but if you wanna go that extra mile, more Bower Power to ya.

I chose Mint, Rosemary, and Basil seeds to begin. But now I am eager to get back to the store to snag a few packets of Parsley, Thyme and Cilantro. Once they are 2 inches tall, I will transplant them to real pots. My own herb container garden will thrive live be located on the back deck. Herbs can actually add a really lovely fragrance to the area as well - which is a major bonus since my boyfriend's nose is like a tracking dogs'. Who knew that a few seed packets could help make our deck time more enjoyable?!

Plus these wee plants will actually save me money. I hear that spending $100 on seeds and soil can save you $500-$700 on buying the fresh goodies at the supermarket. That's a new pair of Manolo's! Over the years, that can add up to a hefty sum...if you like to use fresh greens. And since nowadays I am actually USING fresh herbs in the kitchen, it is just another reason to grow em at home.

And if you are still on the fence about planting some of your own - I have one word for you...mojitos. just kidding. But seriously, there are tons of easy ways to use the 6 herbs that I have listed - and here are a few of my suggestions:

MINT - mint lemonade, mint tea, smoothies
ROSEMARY - rosemary chicken, rosemary potatoes, rosemary in stew
BASIL - tomato sauce, pesto, garnish on bruschetta
PARSLEY - flavoring stews, garnish foods, marinade for steak
THYME - garlic thyme butter, rub on roasts, add to eggs
CILANTRO - salsa, chutney, guacamole

And all you parents of potheads - switch the kids stash for some dried oregano - I promise that weed won't be as attractive afterwards. The saying should be revised to this - GIVE hugs OREGANO, NOT DRUGS :) I'm not a parent but your teen + an italian seasonings joint = motherly joy. Maybe it won't break the mary-jane habit, but it will give them a coughing fit they soon won't forget. When I am a parent, I hope to never have to use this anti-drug method...but you can bet your bottom dollar I ain't above it. I am also not above bribery, coercion, guilt-trips and threats of embarrassment.

Now for the two-week update: Yup - sprouting has occured!

We have liftoff!!! I can practically taste the spaghetti sauce already! No, not really - but I am super excited that it worked! I mean, who wooda thunk? Maybe a farmer...or a horticulturist...or a gardner...but not anyone that knows me! And if I can do, you can do it better. So go get em tiger...plant an herb garden and call it spring!

Question of the day - What herbs do you love and whatya use em for?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Credit Card Points

So I almost forgot to tell you.

I earn points for each dollar I spend on my credit card. So I finally redeemed the points for actual money...well, almost. I actually got a couple of these:

Yippee! So I had $100 to spend at my favorite french store - Tar-ghey.

Two weeks ago I ordered this. When it came in - Jeremy and I whipped it together (no tools necessary - double Yippees!)

And we put it in our master bedroom.

Right now, it definitely looks a little cramped. But that is because of the chest to the left of the chair. This room is currently a hodge-podge of random stuff. We don't have our real furniture in yet. We are saving up for the Canopy bedroom furniture at Walmart. When we finally order it I think this chair will look totally phat next to the dark brown sidetable.

Maybe you can see it here - it really needs a dark element to separate it from the bed linens...otherwise it looks all too beige. And the side table lamps need to be really beefy. Like Chris Farley lamps. I didn't say beefcake - I said beefy :) So that means I need to scratch the wish list lamps and be on the prowl for some bovine-sized lighting. Ya'll have any suggestions?

Best part about this purchase was definitely the cost - only $26 including shipping and handling!

Thank you Chase credit card company. I know you are taking advantage of the economic crisis by spontaneously increasing many people's interest rates and forcing their bank accounts and credit scores to plummet, but I still love you.

Wanna see more dolce chair in action? Check it out here and here and here! Apparently all the cool kids are doing it...err...buying it. And you know me and peer pressure...gotta ride in the back of the bus...gotta tightroll my jeans...gotta wear my teenage mutant ninja turtle shirt on least till next week...things might change...and Bower Power tries to stay ahead of the curve :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Day Momento

Ya'll guessed what I got as my 'love-ly' reminder of my Valentines at the Biltmore.

and here are the total of votes:

Silver plated server - 9 votes
Pink glasses - 4 votes
Handweights - 1 vote
Gray plates - 3 votes
Milk glass - 4 votes
Apple bowls - 3 votes

and the correct answer is....

(drumroll please...)


When I spotted the Fenton milk glass I knew it just had to be mine. The best part - it is a piece that I will actually use. And the candlesticks were just too cute to pass up. I am somewhat on a "white kick" right now - if it is creamy and colorless, I will take it! All you albinos better run!

My favorite part of the small capped bowl is definitely the lid. When I look at it the little handle reminds me of an acorn...which just happens to be the symbol of the Vanderbilt family. Small world, huh?!

I found this old photo of the hand-hammered copper roof ridge that had the intertwined initials of George Vanderbilt and the acorn motif on either side. On the tour we learned that the acorn was chosen as the symbol because of what it meant to Commodore Vanderbilt - the saying goes "From the tiny acorn springs the mighty oak". It symbolizes his rise from steam boat captain to
the head of the richest family in the world. Cool, huh?

I placed the milk glass pieces in the newly painted bathroom cabinet. I also added an old milk glass footed bowl on the top shelf to hold the scented oils for our diffuser. I simply can NOT wait to use the candlesticks for a ladies brunch - wouldn't they just look fabulous with pink glasses? Gosh darn - maybe I should drive back up there for those beauties...maybe not...we'll see :)

So a big fat hand goes to Kristal, Sherry, Mrs. McB, and Miss Fabulous Side of Me! Each of you are awarded one hundred thousand points for correctly guessing!

Oh - and for those of you that care - Jeremy got hurt. Don't worry - it's nothing major. He crashed on his bike. Yes, my 32 year old husband still rides his mountain bike like he will bounce back like a 17 year old and tries to do "cool" tricks like jumping over hills. Arg!!! If you have facebook and wanna check out the video of it, here you go!

So if you could pray for him that would be great. The clinic doc said that his foot is fractured and he has a second degree sprain. Tomorrow he goes to the surgeon to get it further examined and to schedule the MRI. Boys and their toys, right?!? When will they ever learn?! I love you baby.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I don't like to point the finger but...

...this is all your fault!

And all I have to say is...


(apparently my free photobucket account has only a certain bandwidth...and you people keep on viewing the tons of posted Bower Power pictures - aka - using up my bandwidth! that problem is fixed!!! YAY! and you can go back and play my V-day momento guessing game!

Oh and folks, thanks for eatin my bandwith - just be careful! You know what they say - you are what you eat!)

Antique Shopping

On the way back from Asheville, Jeremy pulled into an antique shop for me to peruse the aisles for a Biltmore-vacation style souvenir.

Pulling up, we spotted these large barn doors that welcomed us into the caves of wonder.

I really wanted to get something that would always remind me of the Valentine's day trip. It had to be something that I would love looking at, using, and it had to be a constant reminder of the fun that we had and the experience as a whole.

These early 1900's style handweights - carved from solid wood - would be a totally unique memento and have a worn-cottage feel to them. The Biltmore estate had some similar ones in the 'gym' and it would be a perfect reminder of the tour of the grand home. It would also be useful when I feel like I needed a quick workout. Or when I need a microphone to sing along with Britney.

I spotted this four-tiered silver plated server from across the booth and it is fab-u-lous. Not only does it have a Vanderbilt feel to it - aka richness - it is completely useful for many parties and get-to-gethers. And at 20% off - the price was just right.

I can't help but swoon over milk glass. I love it more than most celebrities love their spouses. And since I am no expert at antiques - I only look for items that mean something to me...ya know...I would choose a Suri over a Shiloh. Sure, one might command wheelbarrows full of money but I'll take the cuter one any day of the week. Sorry Brangelina - you loose to TomKat on this one. Back to the point - this display of milky white glass is a shoutout to the fact that the Biltmore estate began as a farm - with it's largest operation being in the dairy department. Get it? 'Milk' glass?! So naturally this would be a reminder of the trip too.

My girlie side said to buy these pink glasses in honor of Valentine's day. Aren't they just so Victoria's-Secret-fabulous?!? They would be perfect for serving some of that famous Biltmore Winery's crushed-grape beverage (yeah, we bought a case for future celebrations) and especially perfect for any ultra feminine parties. Seriously, if I was drinking out of these glasses, I am sure that any passerbyers would totally think "oh-that-girls-got-her-own-glam-squad".

Gray is my new favorite color for dishes after seeing these beauties. Not only are they completely practical because let's face it, it could go with ANYTHING. But they are also in great condition and the wee handles on the bowls would be perfect for a show-stopping soup dinner. I totally see the gray color with warm red tomato soup and some grilled cheese sandwiches. Yummy.

Lastly, there were these darling blue apple dishes. There were about eight that I found in different booths - and they are just sweet as can be. Not only are they reflective of the trip (we were shopping at Barber's ORCHARD antique mall) but they are perfection in terms of blending new and old styles. I would serve apple fritter doughnut holes in these turquoise bowls for a delish and springy breakfast. An apple a day, people, an apple a day...

So here's a guessing game for ya - what do you think I bought? I really wanted to buy it all but alas - I need to save room in the house for future adventure memorabilia. Hint - it is something pictured above. No guesses? Tell me what you would have gotten as a momento...oh and make your guess quick - cause you'll find out tomorrow the answer to this pop quiz!

Monday, February 16, 2009

We Moved...

...and we bought this new house.

Yeah - we decided to upgrade to a new pad with a bit more square footage...let's say around 175,000. And with these fabulous views -

For real though...for real people...we didn't sell our work-in-progress metro-Atlanta home for the castle that is the Biltmore Estate. In all reality, we only toured the home. The owners wanted us to buy it but we said that we needed more space and it just didn't work out. Besides, it isn't on the water. And I don't think our staff would appreciate downsizing.

So besides looking at potential real estate for me and my boyfriend, V'day was also a mini-vacation. My lovely boytoy decided to surprise me with a visit to Asheville and the mansion...and boy, was it fabulous and fun! Just like Jer :)

Unfortunately, photography isn't allowed inside the house (if you could call it only a 'house') but we got some amazing shots of the grounds.

The outdoor gardens weren't in bloom (Jeremy promised we would have to come back in a future spring, summer or fall to see all the flowers) but we did get a chance to explore the greenhouse. It was an alive paradise that just begged for us to lust for spring.

We stayed at a nearby hotel which had an amazing room with a huge comfy bed and an even bigger headboard. We also got to relax after a long day of wine tasting and touring in the hotel's hot-tub. Have I said that I want one of those before? Because I do. Badly.

Oh and did I mention the winery? Yea - you get a tour of the winery and a free wine tasting when you get to the estate. Above is the wine library of the many years of grape-induced beverages. And not only do they have your basic reds and whites, but sparkling wines, juices, and special occasion wines are for a reasonable rate after your tasting. Our favorite was a Christmas white wine and their 'Century' wine - both for the taste and the beautiful bottles.

And since we are discussing the trip that my lovely boyfriend got me in honor of our 09 LOVE day - here is what I got him...

It started with a clue here and a clue there - randomly hidden by the Valentine's day fairy...aka Cupid. When Jeremy put all the clues together (it took him all day to collect them), the guessing game began. Finally something clicked and he guessed correctly. Out came the wrapped present. He tore that sucker open and WAHLA!

That's right...I bought my baby a power tool. How romantic! How functional! How long till you can make me that headboard?!?!

So there you have it - our mini getaway and our v-day celebration. Hope yours was super awesome with a dash of romance. And if not, that's ok - live vicariously through us. Afterall, Bower Power is like a box of valentine's day chocolates......a sweet experience with a bunch of nuts!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sproost Style Quiz has a find-your-style quiz available. And if I do say so myself, it looks to be quite accurate!

Those sproost folks gave me my results and as you can see, I am 41% Nantucketian and 41% Cottage Chic...with an 18% dash of Hollywood couture thrown in for kicks :)

Let me see here what I agree with...

Love the beach? check.
Coastal art & accessories? check
Natural fabrics, cottons & linens? check
Light wood & wicker? not so much
White, light beige, blues, greens, and greys? check check check check and check
Comfy furniture? check

So yeah - I can definitely say that I love being a Nantucket girl. Although I am not particularly drawn to light colored wood, I definitely am attracted to all the other aspects of beach life. Good Job Sproost!

Moving on to Cottage Chic...

Carefree spirit? check
Appreciate modern art & hip treasures? check
Love old and new? check
Light background? partially check

While I love to swim in a modern and chic world free from florals and cheesiness (except my jokes, of course) I can appreciate a warm chocolate room or some black painted floors (like the photo above). I only wish that this description gave me more clue on what the particulars of cottage chic were.

Finally my smattering of hollywood couture...

Sparkly crystal? love looking at it - not lucky enough to own it
All things flashy? Not so much.
Sense of opulence? I wish.
Rich feeling? yes please.
Over the top with livability? how is that possible?
Luxury? I am begging.

So overall, I definitely agree to the mix of these three styles as something that would be an accurate representation of me. Sure, it isn't always possible to make your home a complete reflection of you...especially these days with different trends flying in and out the door with ludicrious speed or when you try to make sure any home improvements are appealing to the masses. But it is definitely helpful for the next time I go shopping. It'll help me reign in the brain and focus by chanting "nantucket, cottage, hollywood".

So ya'll...what's your sproost style? Do you agree with the sproost assessment? Or is it whack like crack?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Bolt of Lighting

You guys have seen your fair share of our first floor loo. But did you notice that our light fixture was the most hideous thing ever? It may look subtle and cute when staring directly into the bright shining glare - but believe me, it was as attractive as Tara Reid's tummy circa 2006.

As you can see, the dirt cheap light fixture wasn't doing anyone favors. But it seemed that it would be the only light that would fit in our powder room. The light needed to have a small radius because the door was thisclose to hitting it when swinging open. And the light had to be low profile because the ceiling in the bathroom is noticibly lower than the ceiling in the rest of the house. I guess that these older homes have the plumbing running up in the ceiling and the builders didn't bother trying to run pipes between floor joists. Instead they just lowered the ceiling of the room below.

My boyfriend and I brainstormed about what lighting would fit and look good in our new loo. We finally decided upon recessed lighting. Not only would it fit, but it would not draw too much attention to itself. Jeremy removed the old one....

...and popped in a can. Lookin' good, right? Well, now that we have that light, I have been thinking. I wanna put this to ya (if you are up for the challenge) you think we should add four more recessed lights? We can't add any lighting on the wall that has the vanity because the plumbing is ridiculous back there and we don't wanna rip out the wall to rework pipes just for a light. So I was thinking that four smaller can lights in all four corners of the room would provide more light and help illuminate the loo. Whaddaya think?

Side note - I got this wee jewelry box at Goodwill about a week ago. Isn't it just the cat's meow?!? After a few days of scrubbing with baking soda, it still showed some ugly black spots on top. I was kinda bummed because I spent a few dollars ($2.50 to be exact) and thought it would clean up really easily. But I didn't give up. I decided to use whatever was under our kitchen sink...let's try it all, right?

Then something actually worked....just'll never get was our stove's glass top cleaner! Did the whole world know that you can clean silver with glass top cleaner? How did I not know this? It worked wonderful....with a little elbow grease of course :) And I just love the detail work on the little box. I probably could go back and clean all the little crevaces, but that will have to wait because I have bigger fish to fry.

The newly polished box is just the thing for our bathroom cabinet so that anytime I wanna tackle bathroom cleaning, I can throw my rings in there. But I can also see this little baby living on my side table as an accent or in the master bathroom for when my hands need a bit of lotion. Oh and I forgot to mention that the velvet liner is a beautiful shade of midnight blue...gotta love some jewelry box drama! Plus the plushness keeps my jewels all snuggly and safe...

...speaking of jewels...I gotta go talk to Jeremy about Valentine's day :)