Plant Flower Power For a Bird Friendly Yard This Spring

House Finch

A while back I was reminded that our grasses and residential gardens provide needed nutrients and food for urban wildlife such as birds, bees, lizards, etc.  At our house in Historic Old Torrance, we have over 200 linear feet of grasses that wrap our corner and quite a large garden with flowering plants, cacti and berry shrubs.

bird friendly yard

Our garden.

I’ve been trimming the gardens with respect to the insects and animals in order to preserve the seeds and blossoms for the wildlife. In the last months of 2017 I’ve noticed many beautiful varieties of birds flocking around and foraging within our gardens.  Ruby crowned kinglets, red breasted house finches, blue jays and hummingbirds abound. A pretty cool site!

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

California Scrub Jay

California Scrub Jay

House Finch

House Finch

Conservation Efforts Are Focusing on Urban Gardens

I read an article in the The Wall Street Journal that said conservationists who once focused on preserving lands for the wild are now directing their attention to urban gardens. They are focusing on residential yard plantings as a way to help wildlife. In the same article, National Audubon Society’s manager, Todd Winston, stated “People have the power in urban areas to really have an impact on birds”.  And, it’s especially important to cultivate plants now, in the Fall in order to help momma birds feed their Spring hatchlings. You’ll create a beautiful garden to enjoy and be able to bask in the birdies songs as they thank you.

Blue Jay Feeding her hatchlings. Image found on Pinterest.

Blue Jay feeding her hatchlings. Image found on Pinterest.

What to Plant Now

A quick and easy way to plant a bird friendly garden is to go down to your local nursery and pick up some sunflower and poppy seeds or even some kangaroo paw plants— OR plant them all! It’s a good time to do so for a gorgeous Spring garden that will feed our fine feathered friends and wow your neighbors!

Poppy Garden

California Poppies grow easily. Birds eat their seeds.

Sunflowers in garden

Plant sunflowers for a large burst of color and let their seeds feed the birds.

Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paw is an excellent tall backdrop to ground covers and provides nutrients for birds.

Also remember to keep the pesticides off the garden. If you attract birdies they’ll take care of keeping your garden clean the natural way.

For more info on creating a bird friendly yard check out the Audubon’s 10-plants-bird-friendly-yard 

 

 

 

Need More Zen in Your Life? See Our Zen Design BEFORE & AFTER

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Need more Zen in your Life? Maybe update your space with a little Zen Design!

Zen refers to a word used in buddhism to define harmony and an enlightened state achieved through meditation and devout living. As a yoga teacher and interior designer, I can relate to this and I say, “Yes! Yes Yes!”. In fact, the word Zen is derived from the Chinese word “chán” and the sanskrit word “dhyana,” which means “meditation.” In sanskrit and yoga philosophy the root meaning is “to see, to observe, to look within.”

The idea of Zen is a way of life — a personal search for meaning that elevates simplicity to an art form. Zen design embodies the idea of minimalism, making use of natural materials and patterns and emphasizing a space free of clutter so that we can live in the present moment.

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Our 9 Favorite Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer

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Summer just arrived and temperatures have already hit triple digits. So please enjoy our 9 Favorite Ways to Beat the Heat this Summer- they are bound to cool you off.

1. Ditch the Down Duvet

Take the down off the bed, give it a good shake and store it away for the summer. You will most easily drift into dreamland on these hot nights covered in a linen or cotton, breathable blanket.

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How to Make a Magnolia Table Garland the Easy Way

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Magnolia is one of my favorite leaves to decorate with during the holidays! I love the way the leaves are a deep waxy green on the front contrasted by its rough cognac tone posterior. When many leaves are placed together you get the perfect mix of texture to dazzle the eyes. Once colors and lights are added to the mix, such as fruits and candles, the outcome is sensational. Below is how to make a Magnolia Table Garland the easy way.

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4 Favorite Ways to Create Visual Space

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Whether it is vintage bungalow from 1920s, a contemporary condo with an intimate floor plan, or a cozy home with compartmentalized rooms, small spaces are plentiful and require lots of creativity in order to make them feel expansive and luxurious. These are my 4 favorite ways to create visual space.

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Before & After Kitchen Remodel, Manhattan Beach, CA

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We are so excited to share our most recent Before & After Kitchen Remodel–an updated Cape Cod design in Manhattan Beach, CA. This project is located in the coveted “trees” section of Manhattan and just look how it turned out!

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Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

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The flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping–spring is here! It’s time to clean and refresh your home by way of the wonderful tradition of Spring Cleaning.  I enjoy this time of year as it allows us to let in more light, fresh air and make the house function at its best and brightest for the warm weather seasons to come. Below are some of my favorite tips on where to start and how to get the job done:

Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

1. Organize Your Closet First

Take some time to focus on cleaning out your closet.  Go through your closet and remove and box up your winter clothes to be stored, then bring out your warmer weather wear. While you’re at it, if you have clothing or accessories which you haven’t worn for at least two years, pack those items up and donate to charity or sell them.

Hanging your clothes–I prefer a closet that is organized by like item. Start with tanks and sleeveless items, then short sleeve, long sleeve and jackets, followed by pants, skirts, shorts and dresses–all hung from left to right. Organizing the clothes by color can also be appealing but you’ll need to decide which way works best for you to make your routine easier–you can also do both–organize by like item and then by color within each category.

Garments in this closet are grouped by similar item, making for easy viewing.

Garments in this closet are grouped by similar item, making for easy viewing.

Make use of the shelves and wall space within your closet-– I like to roll my leisure wear such as tanks, sweats and sweatshirts, and place them in a basket on the shelf below my hanging items. I do the same for scarves, belts, shawls, wraps, etc.  This enables you to free up space on the rod. The wall is a great place to hang bags, purses and hats. Get creative in order to see what works best for you.

Tip: If you need to save space (AKA fit more clothes in your closet) try  switching out your hangers for my favorite felt variety. These felt hangers can typically be picked up at stores like Ross and Marshall’s. They allow for about 20% more clothing to fit in the closet when compared to the thicker wood style hangers.

These felt hangers save loads of space in the closet so that you can fit more clothes. Displaying tags on the bar allows you to stay organized.

These felt hangers save loads of space in the closet so that you can fit more clothes. Displaying tags on the bar allows you to stay organized.

After your closet is organized, vacuum the floor and walls to prevent bugs from finding a home in your closet.

Jewelry hanger.

Get jewelry out and in the open so that you can see what you have. Use a frame and wrap it with twine. Hang earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

2. De-Clutter Your Rooms

Grab a large bag, or container. Start in the room of your choice and scan the floor, surfaces of furniture, book shelves, counters, and even look under the objects in the room for items that do not belong there. Place the items in your container and repeat in each room of the house. Now, put all the items away where they belong.

For more on how to de-clutter your rooms check out this site–I found its tips to be helpful: http://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/how-to-declutter.html

Tools for de-cluttering your rooms.

Tools for de-cluttering your rooms.

 

3. Thoroughly Clean All Horizontal Surfaces

Dust, vacuum, and mop all horizontal surfaces. Check to make sure that you are using the proper cleaners on your woods, counter tops, tiles, etc. Also be sure to wear your cleaning cloves. There are many great products out there. I prefer the following:

Wood Floors: Vacuum and then lightly damp mop with a solution of water and one cap full of Murphy’s Oil Soap. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Tile: Look for a cleaner that has neutral pH. You can also mix baking soda and water for a homemade cleaner. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into 2 gallons water and mix very well. Use a mop on the tile and a soft brush on grout.

Fabrics: Take measures to clean the upholstery and bedding on the house.

Counter tops: For stone counters look for a “natural stone” cleaning product.

Don’t forget to clean the lights and ceiling fans free of dust and buggies.

4. Clean the Walls and Vertical Surfaces

Dust the fronts of all your furniture pieces in the home. Clean the fronts of your appliances and polish your stainless steel. Use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to freshen up your painted walls.

Check your window treatments for dust and stains—follow the manufacturer’s recommended method to clean them.

For a great breakdown of how to clean a home properly, I found this post very helpful:

Vintage Cleaning Add

Love this cute vintage cleaning add. A clean house IS the sign of a good life.

5. Wash the Windows or Get Them Washed

In my family, we have always used a solution of white vinegar and warm water in a bucket, a sponge, a squeegee and old newspapers (in that order) to wash the windows. The vinegar is fantastic for cutting the dirt and grime that accumulate over time. Once you have massaged the sponge around on the window a bit, use the squeegee to get the majority of the water off the window and then use old newspaper, instead of towels or paper towels, to absorb to rest of the water. The windows will shine like diamonds. The vinegar also cuts right through pet gunk too, such as nose and mouth smears and paw marks.

A simple solution of  vinegar and warm water is a fantastic cleaner to use on windows to get them sparkling clean.

A simple solution of vinegar and warm water is a fantastic cleaner to use on windows to get them sparkling clean.

Use old newspaper to clean your windows. It works wonderful!

Use old newspaper to clean your windows. It works wonderful!

6. Yard and Patio Clean Up

Spring is a great time to get the outdoors ready for entertaining.

  • Rake, sweep and clean the yard and patio free of leaves.
  • Weed the garden and lawn and then rake around plants and trees to freshen up the dirt and make the garden look happy!
  • Spray the patios down and water the gardens and grass.
  • Do any needed landscaping repairs to the lawn, shrubbery, and plants.
  • Check your exterior doors and windows or fences to see if they need attention. Touching up the paint or stain on fences is a great way to make the outdoor areas feel new again.
  • Don’t forget to clean the BBQ and the grill!

Outdoor cleaning projects can be fun and it’s always great to involve the whole family. With a little effort this spring, your outdoor areas will be ready to entertain throughout the summer.

Nice clean backyard and patio ready to entertain guests. Image found on Pinterest.

Nice clean backyard and patio ready to entertain guests. Image found on Pinterest.

7. A Well Organized and Useful Garage– Isn’t this everyone’s dream?

It may be a little overwhelming, but chances are your garage could use some help this spring. You can do this in steps and phases. First, take a look at the boxes and bins you are storing. Can any of the contents or even the whole box be taken over to Goodwill. Do you know of someone who could currently use items that you may not ever use again?

If looking at the old boxes in the garage is uninspirational to you, then try purchasing some new containers. As you transfer sports equipment, Christmas decorations, or whatever your family hides in your garage space into the new containers you will surely find things that you can do without. Be diligent in tossing out things that you haven’t used in years. It can be hard at first to let go of things, but once you let them go, you’ll feel so good! For more tips on organizing the garage check out this HGTV post.

 

A very well organized garage.

A very well organized garage with lots of storage space and well used walls. Image found on Pinterest.com from BetterHomesandGardens.

Radiant Orchid: The Color of 2014

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Pantone has been the authority on colors in consumer trends for years and they have announced the color of 2014–it’s radiant orchid!Pantone Radiant Orchid

What is radiant orchid you may ask? According to Pantone, the color is a captivating, magical and enigmatic shade of purple. As consumers we will be seeing this color everywhere in 2014. Last year’s color was Emerald and we’ve seen it appear heavily in fashion, home electronics and appliances. So, from lipsticks to leather upholstery, get ready for Orchid!Living Room Radiant Orchid

Pantone makes its annual pick by surveying fashion executives as well as trends in travel, music, movies and even technology to deduce the coming year’s big color. Pantone says, “Radiant Orchid blooms with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple—one that draws you in with its beguiling charm. A captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great joy, love and health.”

Sounds great to me! Radiant Orchid Bedroom

For decades it has been a fashion industry tactic to market new shades to the public, we have seen avocado green, orange and brown prevalently preserved via our mothers photographs from the 70s. In the eighties it was neon and then later purple and green. My favorite shirt was a purple and green floral from Laura Ashley, and my mom papered my bedroom in those shades too. These yearly color trend releases may very well be a ploy to get consumers out and buying the newest hottest colors, but let’s face it. It’s fun and exciting, and you bet, I’ll be embracing Radiant Orchid!Radiant Orchid

10 Best Thanksgiving Table Settings- What Style Will You Pick?

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We are headed to Arizona to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. And you bet, we will be setting the table in style! What will your table setting style be this year? Rustic, Modern, Eclectic? In my family, setting the mood is a tradition. It’s just as important as the feast. The scene helps to create the story of Thanksgiving and bring about feelings of gratitude for those around us, our health and the food on the table.  We have collected the very best Thanksgiving table settings to share with you. What style will you pick?  Enjoy, we hope they are inspirational. Please add to the list by linking your ideas and photos in the comments below.

1. Picnic Style

Outside Living thanksgiving Table

We love dining outdoors and here in the South Bay we can do so most months of the year. What an amazing way to do Thanksgiving. Here this rustic and aged picnic table is dressed with the most elegant and lovely things. Antique stemware and the bright white table runners are so elegant. Whimsy is added by the hanging lights which act as a stunning chandelier for the long table. Image from FlowerWildEvents.com

Thanksgiving setting Outside

Details of the elegant picnic style tablescape are gorgeous.

2. Eclectic

Eclectic Thanksgiving Table

Here is a well done eclectic table setting displaying the fruits and flowers of the season placed on a modern lined, natural wood table. The eclectic style uses items such as antique plates and chargers which appear to have been collected overtime. An eclectic style setting is wonderful because we can use things that may have been handed down from one generation to the next. We love the way that this table design allows us to bring out our most cherished pieces and display them in an elegant manner. www.UnsophistiCook.com/thanksgiving-decor/

3. Country

Country Thanksgiving Table

Fresh pine sprigs and pine cones are beautiful atop of a bold gingham check runner. Charger plates made from cut tree stumps seal the deal. This is an elegant country spread. We love the antique looking glassware and deer themed napkins. From blovelyevents.com

4. Minimalist

Minimalist Thanksgiving Table Decoration

Here, the design is simple and stays true to the natural forms we see during harvest time. The pumpkins and candles provide most of the decoration. Plates and seating are white and the overall setting is neutral. From http://www.chatelaine.com/home-decor/

5. Mid-Century

Mid Century Thanksgiving table

Here is the Iroquois Informal Harvest Time table by Ben Seibel 1958. Scandinavian designers and architects were very influential at this time, with a style characterized by simplicity, functionality and natural shapes. The table setting with its pops of deep colors such as orange, yellow, olive green and chocolate brown carry the Mid-Century theme.

6. Coastal

This Thanksgiving tablescapes recalls the warm theme of coastal design.

This Thanksgiving tablescape recalls the warm theme of coastal design. The wispy willow twigs wrap around the pumpkins, evoking a light and breezy feel. And, the pumpkins themselves appear as though they have been softened by the sun. Clean and bright plates and stemware are beautifully set atop a natural linen cloth. Gorgeous. From Coastalhomeblogspot.com

7. British Colonial/West Indies

British Colonial Table Setting

Warm amber stemware, dark molasses colored wood, leather seats, nail heads, woven mats and white linen napkins create a beautiful British Colonial style table setting.

8. French

French Thanksgiving Table

Traditional French and French Country styles can be seen in the curved lines of the furniture and the Mediterranean hues in the centerpiece which appear sun-drenched. We love the the playful addition of the pheasant figurines. Image found on www.savvysouthernstyle.net/

9. Bohemian

Bohemian Thanksgiving Table

This room is sumptuous and features a heavily layered look consisting of small patterned fabrics, gilded metals, flower wallpaper and and bold jewel-tones. Moroccan and folk style fabrics are adorning the pillows which are placed all over the banquette. They are oh so Bohemian. The modern Parson style table and mid century dining chairs are the perfect contrast. They give the eyes a place to rest on their clean lines, making for a well balanced composition. Image from MomToob.com

10. Rustic

Rustic Thanksgiving table

Raw, rough hewn wood table and spindle style chairs play up the Rustic style of this beautiful table setting. All types of festive pumpkins and squashes with floral sprigs and lit candles sit happily in a long garden planter box.

What is your favorite table? How will you design your Thanksgiving tabletop? Please link your ideas to us by using the comment section below and if you like this post please “Like Us” on Facebook.

5 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance This Season

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Whether you have guests coming soon or just want to spruce up your curb appeal, it is the perfect time to conduct a little visual critique of the approach to your home. Is it inviting or in need of a little TLC? Below are 5 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance This Season.

1. Front Door—Check the front door. If the stain is dull or paint is peeling, take measures to freshen it up or better yet, maybe you would like to create big change by choosing a lively contrast color which will greatly stand out against the trim and house paint. Is there a color that you can pull in from the garden or streetscape?  Plus, hang a festive wreath or a welcoming decoration on the door.

Tip* If you keep to beautiful green, gold and woodsy tones for your fall wreath, you can simply add colorful bits to it such as ice skates, berries and other festive items. Voila, it’s ready for December.

Door wreath makes a nive visual to welcome guests.

This eucalyptus wreath brings festive cheer and a sweet smell to a French paned front door. Image from MyHomeIdeas.com