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Independence Day is just a couple of weeks away and it is wonderful to watch our nation get into the holiday spirit. With flags everywhere and our nation’s colors on every piece of merchandise in stores, it is time for you to start planning your party or barbeque! Our team here at Carmen Johnston Gardens just loves this time of year as we celebrate the freedom our country represents and those who have worked so hard to make it possible. July 4th is the perfect chance to share this gratefulness with friends and family over good food and fireworks!

 

When we moved into the house we now live in, Tommy and I knew we had to create a space for entertaining our friends and family. For us, this area is just outside of our sunroom with a long table surrounded by rosemary, lavender, and a boxwood hedge. The best part is the view we have of our pond and the way our boxwoods frame the space. I firmly believe entertaining should not be a burden or challenge but should be something fun and easy so you can actually enjoy the event you plan. This belief is what makes me keep a few go-to party ideas on hand, so I don’t have to stress to make any event perfect. In today’s blog, I want to share some ideas for a July 4th themed table scape that will make any entertaining space ready for your friends and family!

I start with layering my table ware. Build a base with a classic and simple charger. I have a set of burled wood ones I got at an event long ago from Target! This season they have several wonderful and minimalistic options available for you to choose from- check out this link! Next, I use a set of blue and white melamine plates that I found at Tuesday Morning. I love melamine plates because they are versatile, easy to store, and best of all, are dishwasher safe. I am going let you in on a little secret with my choice in napkins. These dish towels from Ikea are my go-to for so many occasions…so much so that I own almost 100 of these! The reason I love them so much is for their simplicity, ability to go with so many things, their large size, and because of how cost effective they are! Lastly, I use a napkin holder from Two’s Company (link) to tie everything together. I love this specific one because they have a place to put a small amount of water to hold a bit of greenery or a flower. This adds a live component to your plate! At our home, we actually use our silver on a daily basis, rather than keeping it in a silver chest. This place setting is a great chance to break out your own silver as it lends a level of elegance to your setting.

 

Now, on to the floral arrangement! I used some gorgeous vases from Two’s Company (link) in groups down the table. Both the large and small blue and white vases have come from their store. These vases are a staple in my entertainment décor because they go with so much. Also, while I definitely advocate for using planters with plenty of drainage, these pots are great vases because they hold water and don’t have a hole in the bottom. In the large vases I placed blue hydrangeas. My tip for you when using hydrangeas in arrangements is to gather several blooms into a large ball and then use a zip tie to secure the stems. This helps them to stay in place especially if you are moving the arrangement from one place to another. The small vases each have several red dragon wing begonias in them. Both of these are very common garden flowers which makes them easy to find! I don’t have either of these growing in my garden this year, but I have a neighbor who does! I’ve been known as the “garden bandit” around our neighborhood but asking to borrow a few blooms is always a great way to supplement what you already have growing!

 

This tablespace only took me about 15 minutes after pulling all my supplies together and it was so easy to create! I love finding new ways to use some of my tried and true table staples and I am so excited to share my ideas with you! Tag us on Facebook and Instagram to show us the table settings you create! @carmenjohnstongardens

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead a floral class and teach a wonderful group of ladies my favorite arrangement tips and tricks. Every year the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl holds a charity golf tournament at Lake Oconee for NCAA coaches, professional golfers, and celebrities. The Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge has given a total $8.4 million to charities since its beginning in 2007. As the coaches and others play across the course, their wives are invited to attend various events and luncheons as the weekend commences. This year we were asked to lead a floral class for the wives and got to spend several wonderful hours creating arrangements, developing friendships, and eating delicious food! 

The arrangements were so fun and easy to put together that I wanted to share them with you!  We used simple and elegant glass vases for this arrangement- you can find a similar one online here. They work best to group several of the vases together! Below we have written out our instructions for the breakaway arrangement and have included images of the types of flowers we used. Also, you can find a gallery of images from our event below.  

Recipe for a breakaway arrangement:

  1. Braid mini lavender callas. Place one on each end of the 4-tube vase and wrap
  2. Weave the curly willow – place on either end and wrap around the vase (Remember this does not need to be perfect…just stuff and shove 😉)
  3. Fill the vase with water
  4. Anchor the ends with mini green hydrangeas
  5. Anchor the center with roses: 4 pink mondial, 3 white vendela, and 3 lavender cool water
  6. Layer 3 pink or purple sweet peas, 3 double pink or purple Lisanthus, and 3-4 yellow or pink tulips.  Remember to remove the foliage and peel back like a banana …it helps the stuff and shove process 😉
  7. Extend the arrangements. Place 2 long pieces of mini clematis one on each end
  8. Fill your two tube vases with water
  9. Anchor the end of the break-away arrangements using your 2-tube vases with flowers like ranunculus (Clooney ranunculus), roses, or tulips.  Nestle your clematis between the vases.  I also love to use confederate jasmine growing from my garden if I can’t find clematis.  
  10. And don’t forget the mint! It always adds a refreshing element to any floral arrangement. 

We love succulents, so low-maintenance! If you are a forgetful water-er or frequent traveler, these are the perfect plants for you. Succulents are perfect for the hot summer sun since they love to dry out. We planted with an Atlanta couple at the Home Depot in Midtown last weekend; check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial. Make sure to check out the other posts on Planting a DIY Succulent Garden and Rehabbing Your Succulents. A few key points:

  • Succulents like a drier environment. Make sure you are using a high-quality ‘cactus soil’ or mix some sand into your regular potting soil that you have on-hand for proper moisture and drainage.
  • When picking succulents, make sure to choose a variety of colors, shapes and textures for richest look. I love to plant in odd numbers in containers because it makes centering and balance much easier.
  • Ensure your plants have some room to grow in their container with proper drainage. Space about 2 inches apart, and keep those roots in tact when planting.
  • The marble chips polish off this look perfectly, so clean and modern! These were less than $5 at the garden center! (similar here).
  • Make sure you aren’t over-watering your succulents. 2 times a month is plenty

And…. a few of my favorite succulent images

© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com

© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com

A small succulent garden in my favorite color pot, turquoise! From my post on How to Rehab Your Succulents.

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If you want to make a big impact, more is more! I love all of the varying colors and textures. From my post DIY Succulent Garden.

‘Tis the season and this gal is jolly!

I am so looking forward to “Christmas at the Cloister” this weekend. It is sure to be an incredible time filled with beautiful designs and holiday cheer. I hope to see you there!

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Happy Holidays!

XO, Carmen

Breakfast is important, right? The majority of us have been reminded of this fact for most of our lives. If it’s true what they say, and breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, then we better start making the most of this crucial meal. These are some of my favorite heart-smart breakfast recipes from Prevention.com.

1. Low Fat Frittata with Smoked Salmon and Scallions

Image via Prevention.com

Image via Prevention.com

2. Cocoa-Espresso Waffles

Image via Prevention.com

Image via Prevention.com

3. Tex-Mex Breakfast Sandwich

Image via Prevention.com

Image via Prevention.com

4. Baked Apple Oatmeal

Image via Prevention.com

Image via Prevention.com

Check out the full list of heart-healthy breakfast recipes at Prevention.com now.

Have a great weekend, and remember to start smart!

Southern friends–is it hot outside, or is it hot? That Georgia heat has certainly made itself known this summer and I can’t think of a better way to keep cool and stay full than by drinking some delicious heart-healthy smoothies.

Finding this list of smoothie recipes at Everyday Health has been a huge relief.

1. Blueberry + Avocado

Images via Everyday Health

Images via Everyday Health

2. Acai Berries + Chia Seeds

Image via Everyday Health

Image via Everyday Health

3. Greek Yogurt + Raspberry + Cocoa

Image via Everyday Health

Image via Everyday Health

4. Papaya + Blueberry + Carrot Juice + Orange Juice

Image via Everyday Health

Image via Everyday Health

5. Pomegranate Juice + Blueberry

Image via Everyday Health

Image via Everyday Health

Check out the complete list of heart-healthy smoothie/juice recipes at Everyday Health now. What are some of your favorite summer smoothies this year?

Cooking Light has done it again! Here are some of my favorite heart-healthy recipes for pork.

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

1. Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce

2. Warm Spinach Salad with Pork and Pears

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

3. Grilled Pork with Blackberry-Sage Sauce

4. Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Orange and Red Onion Salsa

Check out the full list of heart-healthy entrees at Cooking Light now.

Enjoy!

Sometimes the most challenging part of eating healthy is knowing what to buy, which is why I am sharing this list heart-smart grocery list that I found over at Best Health Magazine online. Here are a few items you should add to your grocery list right now. Your heart will thank you!

1. Unsweetened oatmeal
2. Whole-grain quinoa
3. Whole-grain brown rice
4. Bell peppers

Image via Best Health Magazine

Image via Best Health Magazine

5. Carrots
6. Winter squash
7. Sweet potatoes
8. Kale
9. Spinach
10. Swiss chard
11. Red grapes

Image via Best Health Magazine

Image via Best Health Magazine

12. Apples
13. Low-fat popcorn
14. Dark chocolate

Image via Best Health Magazine

Image via Best Health Magazine

15. 100 percent orange juice
16. Green or white tea
17. Rainbow trout
18. Pork tenderloin (Speaking of pork, look out for some heart-healthy pork recipes coming soon!)
19. Lentils
20. Extra-virgin olive oil
21. Walnuts

Image via Best Health Magazine

Image via Best Health Magazine

22. Flaxseed
23. Curry powder/turmeric
24. Oregano
25. Low-fat yogurt
26. Skim milk

Read the full post over at Best Health to learn more about how and why these foods are good for your heart. I hope that these posts have been beneficial to you and your health. I will be sharing more heart-healthy recipes this week, so be sure to check back here regularly.

As promised, beefy goodness galore…

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

1. Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast

2. Beef and Beer Chili

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

3. Roasted Flank Steak with Olive Oil-Herb Rub

4. Grilled Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Avocado-Lime Salsa

Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend, but don’t forget to treat your ticker right!

In my search for all things heart-healthy, I found this fantastic list of recipes via Cooking Light. Today I am sharing some of their recipes for chicken, and tomorrow I will be back to share some drool-worthy recipes for beefy goodness.

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

1. Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwiches

2. Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir-Fry

Images via Cooking Light

Images via Cooking Light

3. Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

4. Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts

Bon appetit, and have a great rest of the week!

Inquire About Your Next Event:

Email: carmen@carmenjohnstongardens.com

Phone: 762-822-7696