Monday, January 26, 2015

Cleaning-Up the Winter Garden

Happy Monday evening
to you all!

We are having a bit of rain this afternoon
and into the evening.
For friends over on the East Coast,
here's hoping the blizzard that is coming in won't
knock out your power,
that you'll be safe and snug 
inside your warm homes!

Well, this past week and weekend,
I've begun clipping back the rose garden.
I used the electric hedge trimmers and
really thinned out the boxwood
around our central, large planter area
last weekend.

This weekend, it was more about the roses.
Still not done, but getting there!

a last little rose, all mangled from rain and mildew ~ still ethereal!

Cutting roses back for winter:

*For anyone who is new to roses, if you want 
great blooms
they have to be stripped, cut back into a kind-of
spread-out-like-an-open-hand look.

*Also, cut out any dead canes 
(they'll be really brown or black).

*Depending upon where you live, you may have to 

cut your rose bushes back to about a foot or two tall.
Where it gets really cold (0 degrees or lower), you'll need
to cut your roses back to what I mentioned above,
you'll also want to cover them with a good pile
of straw or leaves, then some dirt. You'll uncover them in spring,
after the hard freezes are over.

Here in California,

I can leave mine about 3' tall, and here in So Cal, we don't get
really much under 32 degrees F.,
so we don't need to worry about mulching for winter.
Our mulching comes in the spring/summer 
to help keep rose bushes from drying out!:)

Here in this photograph, I've shown the beginnings
of cutting back the canes to an
outward-facing bud.
 This is where a new branch will develop.

Next, I'll cut out any canes that will cross each other.
These cause canes to rub each-other,
which can damage the plant and allow in bugs
that can damage or kill the plant.

This is one of our climbers, next to the pool.  This photo shows how I cleared all the dead leaves from underneath.

Every year or two,
you'll also want to cut out an old cane or two
to bring in some new canes.
This keeps the plant healthier,
plus old canes get thick and woody.
They are hard to cut! 
Sometimes needing a saw!

Now, for my climbers
I DO leave more of the old canes,
as they help support the new growth's weight.
(Need those thick trunks to hold up all the arching branches.) 

The backyard last week as the fog crept in. Boxwood in deperate need of clipping!

One of a pair of local ducks who come and visit our bird feeder

Our local falcon coming to check out the sparrow and mourning doves

our lettuce and onions, and a few small yellow tomatoes

Do make sure to clean up ALL of the dead and dropped leaves
from your roses,
as much as you can,
as these leaves if left will contribute to diseases lingering
from year to year.
Also, I only really spray my bushes after getting them all 
cleaned up.
Use environmentally safe insecticides and fungicides,
whenever possible.

There are the boxwoods just before their latest trim, photo above.
Mr. Falcon visited our feeder
just after I took a water break.
I didn't even have time to get the camera on the tripod...
Had to go with the blurred photo.

Our resident ducks and our salad greens...

Have a lovely evening,
Happy gardening!
Barb :)

Sharing with Feathered Nest Friday ~

Thanks ever much for sharing this blog! I do appreciate it. :) ~

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to...Decorate your Tea Towels

Ever wonder how companies create 
those cute dish and tea towels?
Somebody like you or me comes up with a great idea!

My friend Kathy had made some cute
toweling for her kitchen
a number of years ago, so I copied and ran with her idea.

The towel above was decorated with 
leftover fabric 
from a
Rachel Ashwell "Simply Shabby Chic" curtain
that I had cut-up to make
shorter curtains in our master bedroom.
We have five windows 
in our bedroom,
and most didn't need 84" curtains,
so there was
a lot
of leftover fabric!

Here are a couple of other towels I have made.
I am getting ready to make some more
as these are faded.
Though faded... they are still loved!

*Buy some cute unadorned tea/bar towels from a discount, after-market, 
or thrift store ~ wash and dry before embellishing.

*Pick out one of your favorite fabrics and 

cut (2) bands of that fabric about 
3 1/2" wide x the total length of your towels' width, 
plus an inch or so for turning-under along the edges.

*Iron-under 1/4" along each of the band's long edges, pin to towel.

*Turn under and iron the bands' end-edges to meet up with
the towel's edges.
*Sew "in the ditch," or 1/8" from the band's edges all the way around, or
as close as you are able.

Toile from the living room curtains I made. 

I recommend sewing the long edges first ~ sew ONLY in one direction
on BOTH long edges! 
(This is because sewing inherently "pulls" fabric as it goes, and 
you want the "pull" to be the same on both edges, not one pulling one direction
and the other pulling opposite...)
I tend to sew from left to right, switching the fabric from 
running on the right side of the needle as it stitches
to the left side of the needle. Do this on the upper, and the same
for the lower edge. 

*THEN, recheck, re-press/iron, and sew under the outer edges.
Sew these also in one direction. I generally sew "downward."

*Give a final press to your tea towel and...
Your towel is as cute as a button!

If you wish to add lace trim, just add it underneath the main
band of fabric. 
Mine was the lace trim off of a set of old
Laura Ashley
pillowcases we had that the cases had fallen apart.
So, I cut off the lace edging and left a 1/4" extra of fabric
on the edge
to save for a future project.
This 1/4" edge above where the lace began is what is
under the colorful toile banding.:)

I had those lace pieces folded up in my lace box for about 10 years...
Really glad that I saved them!

 Happy sewing!
Barb :)

Sharing with:
The Style Sisters~Centerpiece Wednesday
The Crafty Blogstalker

*Feel free to share this blogpost! Thanks! :)*

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Isn't this one of the cutest tea-infusers
you've ever seen?!
My son's girlfriend helped him pick this out
online for me for Christmas.

"Here we see Miss Manatea taking 
her sauna bath..."

This little manatee comes in two pieces,
is made of a microwave and dishwasher-safe plastic
that can take temps up to 450 degrees F.

I filled her halfway with my favorite tea:
English Breakfast
and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
You may wish to brew your cup of tea a bit 
shorter or longer, 
depending on how strong you like your tea!

Do you have any favorite tea brewing 
I have a couple of different dunking infusers,
plus a really nice cotton tea pouch.
Will share those, though, in another post.

8 O taste and see that the LORDis good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

Blessings to you on this
lovely Sunday afternoon,
Barb :)

You can contact me by my email address above or through the Comments section below. I promise to get
back to you soon.  Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Crushing on Roses!

Our backyard garden ~ Spring 2014 ~ my signature...

I love roses!
There is no doubt about it that
I am head-over-heels
pretty much anything
with roses on it!

To read more, please click here

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Sentiments...Easy Way to Clean Silver

Today's Sunday Sentiments
is about an easy way to clean

I forget how I heard about this but 
it works quite well.

Cleaning Silver:

First ~ line your sink with a piece of aluminum foil.

Second ~ place your silver or silver-plated objects
onto the foil. I don't like any of my pieces touching.
I don't recommend layering, either. Tried it once 
and it doesn't work well.   

Third ~ Pour good old-fashioned baking soda 
over all your silver.
(I buy it in 10 lb. bags worth at Winco and refill my container.)

Fourth ~ Pour boiling hot water over all. More baking soda
can be poured over pieces 
to get in the carvings and engravings.

Lastly ~ rinse off, wash and dry your silver items!
Look how lovely they can look!

The reaction between
the heat, the aluminum, and the bicarbonate of soda
works easily on removing the tarnish caused by silver's copper content
coming in contact with the humidity and sulphur in our air.

This same process can also be done on your silver jewelry, 
although I still like using the old 
toothpaste and water trick!

Funny to see "Me" upside down in all of the spoons!

Isn't this a cool trick for cleaning silver??! 
And, you don't have to leave the pieces in there too long, either.
When your silver is shiny and clean, 
just recycle 
your aluminum foil. 
You'll be amazed at how dirty it is!
I think this heat-process must transfer 
the tarnish to the foil...

Probably my favorite silverware photo! Love the curves and angles!

 It doesn't always get every bit of tarnish, but some tarnish
in the cracks looks nice!
Like in repouseé...
Love it when my silverware's 
flowers and swirls
are picked out!

Right-oh, then...

Today we are going to try a...

"Sunday Sentiments linky-party!"
*Please only add posts that pertain to 
decorating, crafts, DIY projects, gardening and the like. 
No spam, thank you!*When you visit fellow French Ethereal Friends
please leave a comment that you have visited. 
I know they would to hear from you!
*I'm working on adding a function so you can be notified when
French Ethereal has new postings, so please leave me your email. 
It will NOT be given out to anyone else! :)

*And, please link back to my site from your own blog.
I'm excited to see what you all are doing!!!

Happy Sunday
and let's get our link party started!

Barb :)

Please feel free to share any posts you like here on your site and with friends!
Thank you!!!

Sharing with The Style Sister's Centerpiece Wednesday

Friday, January 9, 2015

Birthday Tea

Today I wanted to share 
 my lovely belated birthday tea I spent
with my friend Gloria yesterday!

Have I mentioned how much I love having friends
come over for tea?

Gloria is in her later 70's now and is kinda like a 
grandmother to me. 
She and I met in
The Victorian Tea Society
here in Riverside Country, California,
 seventeen years ago and we've been friends
ever since...

Our table was set with white linens and rose-covered china,
my favorite lemon curd,
my sister-in-law's raspberry jam,
and some homemade
mock Devonshire cream!

“The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation. The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. Even the tea itself–warm and comforting-inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidences.”
Emilie Barnes, If Teacups Could Talk

Here's the scone recipe we shared:
Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones
recipe, from 
King Arthur Flour:

2 2/3 cups flour (original calls for King Arthur unbleached all-purpose)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. apple pie spice or ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp.) cold butter
3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2" pieces (recipe says
about half a medium apple ~ I used a whole apple)
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened preferred

3 Tbsp. coarse white sparkling sugar
(I just used more granulated sugar)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder,
and spice.
2) Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's okay
for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3) Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4) In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is
moistened and holds together.

6) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; if you don't have parchment,
just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7) Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half.
Gently pat and round each half into a 5" - 5 1/2" circle about 3/4" thick.

8) To make the topping: Stir together the coarse sugar and cinnamon.
Brush each circle with milk and sprinkle with the topping.

9) Using a knife or bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each
circle into 6 wedges.

10) Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit;
there should be about 1/2" space between them, at their outer edges.

11) For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for
about 30 minutes, uncovered. (I did this beforehand with just the batter and it worked, too.
This relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise
higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones a bit flakier.)
While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

12) Bake the scones for 18 - 22 minutes, or until they're golden brown.  When you
pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the
edges shouldn't look wet or unbaked.

13) Remove the scones from the oven and cool briefly on the pan.  Serve warm. When they're completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to
several days. (I freeze mine and they freeze well. Yum!) Scones can be reheated by lightly
tenting with aluminum foil. Warm in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for approx.
10 minutes.  Yield: 12 scones. ~ printed from website 10/6/12.

To make free-form rather than wedge-shaped scones, increase the applesauce 
to 3/4 cup.  Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, dollop the scone dough 
in 1/3-cupfuls on to a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the 
scones in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes. ***Here's where
I'm pretty sure whomever wrote the recipe up for King Arthur Flour Company made a mistake. The
side note said in this section to "Bake scones in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes. I corrected to 10 minutes.  You may have to play with it to find out the correct time -- Barb :)

A little bit of cleaning happened over here
getting ready for this tea,
and not all of it was in my outward surroundings...
Sad to be putting away all of the lovely

Christmas decor,
but with a new year comes rebirth and renewal...

a favorite old teacup and saucer!

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,"
Matthew 25:35

I hope that 
by sharing this tea and other lovely things with you, 
in a way I invite you into my home.  
That's my New Year's resolution to you.

Blessings, as always,

Sharing with:
My Romantic Home ~ Show and Tell Friday

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