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Happy Valentine’s Day!

As promised, here is another quick and easy solution for your holiday decor. If you thought the citrus topiary was a cinch, just wait until you see what I have planned for the day of love. I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘Valentine’s Day is today! I don’t have time to decorate now. What’s the point?’ I am here to tell you that you do have time and that the point is to celebrate those you love. It just so happens that I have the perfect plan for some last-minute decor.

All you need to do first is find a nandina bush…

Quick and Easy Plant Decor: Love Letter Topiaries  by Carmen Johnston Gardens

So,where do you find nandina berries? Just get in your car and drive around. I happened upon these beauties in a Walmart parking lot. Finders, keepers. (Tip: Always be on the look out for berries and blooms wherever you go. You never know when free foliage will fall into your lap!)

Quick and Easy Plant Decor: Love Letter Topiaries by Carmen Johnston Gardens

Simply insert the berries into the base of your plant to create a skirt of vibrant color.

Quick and Easy Plant Decor: Love Letter Topiaries by Carmen Johnston Gardens

For a touch of whimsy, I borrowed these little love birds from my kitchen. (Tip: Before buying anything new, always look around your house first.)

Quick and Easy Plant Decor: Love Letter Topiaries by Carmen Johnston Gardens

After dressing your topiary up in it’s Valentine’s Day best, put it on a tray with some sweet treats for your guests. This popsicle display was a total happy accident. The popsicles looked extra sweet in the shape of X’s and so I added some heart-shaped candy to keep them in place. It was super easy and incredibly cheap. Finally, to turn this display into a station for writing love letters, simply put out some blank stationary and let the sentimental feelings fly!

XOXO

P.S. Don’t toss out those nandina berries just yet! Hang onto them and stay tuned for more DIY decorating solutions soon.

Container: The Home Depot
Tray: Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart
Valentine’s Day Cards: Anthropologie

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield

If there is one gardening staple that I think everyone should have it is the ivy topiary. I have had mine for a few years now and no matter how hard I try–for instance, forgetting to water them in the summer heat–they simply refuse to die.

I have two topiaries, one on each side of the sink in my potting shed. Every now and then, I like to take them out and dress them up for a party. These plants are perfect for any last minute decorating you need to do. You don’t even have to purchase anything new! With a trained eye–or, a little help from me–you will be surprised at what you can find around the house to decorate your topiary with for an instant centerpiece.

I want 2015 to be all about inspiration and innovation. No more spending way too much money on decorations that you only use once a year. Starting with today’s post, I will be sharing easy decorating tips for every occasion. The holiday seasons are busy enough without having to worry about how to decorate your home. With that being said, it gives me great joy to introduce you all to the 5-minute centerpiece… citrus topiaries!

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

I can’t think of a better way to begin the year than with a colorful ring of citrus fruit! Everything is still so dreary outside, which is why God created citrus for this time of year. The bright colors bring instant happiness to anyone who sees them.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

We had a lot of citrus left over from the holidays and I thought, why not? So, I sliced them up and created a citrus skirt around the base of my topiary. To keep some of the citrus in place, I simply used bamboo skewers.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Who says we can’t live like the French? This citrus topiary is basically like having a little Versailles Orangerie all to yourself.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Warm up your winter decor with these simple ivy and citrus topiaries.  Carmen Johnston Gardens shares just how to created this quick and easy plant decor.

Don’t let all that citrus go to waste! Once your guests are gone, have a little after party for yourself. Slice up some fruit and make a Mixed Citrus Liqueur or some Citrus-Infused Vodka, Gin, and Tequila for later.

Mixed Citrus Liqueur

You can purchase your own topiaries online at The Garden Gates right now.

Quick and Easy Plant Decor: The 5-Minute Centerpiece  10

My topiaries in the potting shed where they stay for the majority of the year.

If you are looking forward to warmer weather… I just know you will also like this simple centerpiece idea

Simple Centerpiece Idea

This post is for those of you out there who love to give and receive beautiful things and thoughtful gifts. I can’t wait to share with you eight of my very favorite gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. The Green Thumb Gal’s Guide is back and you won’t want to miss these fabulous ideas!

The Green Thumb Girl is back with her top gift ideas for Valentine's Day.  You won't want to miss these fabulous ideas from Carmen Johnston Gardens!

1. This Custom Floral Heart Print by Rifle Paper Co. will make your special someone’s heart skip a beat. A personalized gift like this is as creative as it is thoughtful. This would also make a great gift for any newlyweds you might know.

2. Give your gal something sweet that she can feel good about. Justin’s peanut butter cups are made with all natural ingredients. If she doesn’t like milk chocolate, Justin’s peanut butter cups come in dark chocolate and white chocolate too!

3. Show the ladies in your life how much you appreciate their hard work. This Caldrea Hand Balm is great for soothing hardworking hands. There are a ton of great scents to choose from!

4. Maybe you’re not known as Mr. Romance, maybe the right words don’t always come out at the right time. If so, “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda may be just the gift for you to give this year. You can personalize it by looking through the poems beforehand and marking any pages that make you think of your special gal.

5. Nothing sweeps a woman off her feet quite like a little help around the house. These “You cook, I’ll Clean” dishtowels at Anthropologie are every gal’s dream. But don’t forget your half of the deal! As far as this gift is concerned, it is NOT just the thought that counts. Those dishes aren’t going to clean themselves!

6. If you know of someone who really appreciates handmade jewelry, this Adobe Spike + Daphnes necklace by 31 Bits is just the gift for them. Every piece of jewelry is handmade in Uganda and the beads are all made from recycled paper. How cool is that?

7. A gal can never have too many mugs! This Cactus What You Preach Mug from Modcloth will make a great addition to your sweetheart’s growing collection. Throw in some of her favorite tea and her heart is yours forever!

8. Don’t bore your lady to death with a dozen roses. Be original and give her this Forget-Me-Not Garden in a Bag from Shop Terrain. This is a great gift for any gal, green thumb or not!

Looking for more inspiration for Valentine’s Day? Plan an Indoor Valentine’s Day Picnic!

Take A Chance With Romance.Still028

You simply must check out this sweet video, too!

 

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GTG_NewYear

 

1. The polaroid camera is back and I can’t think of a better accessory to take into the new year. This Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera from Urban Outfitters is perfect for capturing all those soon-to-be memories in 2015. Order one today and get ready to experience all the instant memory-making magic that the modern polaroid camera has to offer.

2. Need some inspiration for all your 2015 travel plans? Look no further than this stunning Travel the World Wall Calendar from Rifle Paper Company.

3. I am always encouraging you all to be on the look out for fresh, FREE greenery wherever you go. That is why my third recommended item for 2015 is this stylish pair of Garden Scissors from Shop Terrain.

4. Keep track of all your big ideas, dreams, goals, doodles, etc. with this “THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER” Notebook from Kate Spade.

5. This past year I have really fallen in love with coconut water, which is why I am suggesting you give it a try too. Harmless Harvest offers you products that are 100% organic and that is 100% okay with me.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s show 2015 what we are made of!

There is nothing like a home-cooked meal to give you some serious Christmas spirit. That is why I was so thrilled to find this incredibly delicious recipe for collard cobbler from Food & Wine. In order to shorten the prep time (as well as your shopping list) I made a few minor changes. Instead of making the cornmeal biscuits from scratch, I substituted it for Pillsbury pie crust. I also added a block of cream cheese and a pack of ham seasoning to the collards because cream cheese can make anything green taste good. The rest of the ingredients are exactly the same.

1. Step One: Slice bacon and then cook in a large pot for 8 minutes. Next, remove bacon from the pot saving the fat for step two. © 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com2. Step Two: Slice onion, mince garlic, and then add both to the bacon fat to cook for 6 minutes.© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com3. Step Three: Cut an andouille sausage into halves and then add to the bacon fat along with the cooked bacon.© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com4. Step Four: Add 3 cups of Chicken Stock to the bacon fat mixture and bring to a boil.© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com5. Step Five: Add the collards one batch at a time. Cover the mixture and let simmer on low for 30 minutes. Go ahead and preheat the over to 375°.© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com6. Step Six: Cut the pie crust into 2 inch squares. © 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com7. Step Seven: Add 1 cup of half and half to collards and bring to a boil. Then add cornstarch and stir for 2 minutes, or until thick. © 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com8. Step Eight: Remove collards from pot and place in a large glass casserole dish. Cover with pie crust squares then add a thin layer of half and half before baking in the oven for 50 minutes.

This recipe is amazing! The greens make it look healthy but it taste absolutely sinful.

Happy Holidays!

I hope that you will enjoy the time spent with family and friends while also allowing yourself to indulge a little too.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I could not be more excited! Such a special time of year that highlights our loved-ones and reminds us all to be thankful for what we do have instead of worried about what we don’t. I absolutely love this holiday and I am looking forward to spending it with those I love.

Thanksgiving, for most of us, means only one thing–food! Lots and lots of food. Turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole–the list goes on and on. But why not surprise your loved ones with an extra special treat at the end of the night? Give your out of town visitors a snack for the ride home. You can use brown paper bags, miniature glass jars, or whatever else you want. Make your own snacks or buy your favorites from the store. This is a simple way to say ‘thanks’ as your guests are walking out the door.

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Happy Holidays!

November is the month for giving thanks and during this month of gratitude it is important to remember that actions do, in fact, speak louder than words. That is why I love this little reminder from our former president, John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I am also reminded of the quote by Pierre Reverdy: “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” In order to express our gratitude and our love we must show it, not simply say it. We must also remember to be grateful throughout the entirety of each year and not just in the month of November.

JFK

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

Hello, trick-or-treaters! Tonight is the night for all things spooky and if you are the hostess this Halloween, or if you are celebrating solo, this is the drink for you. All you need is aged rum (1.5 oz), fresh lemon juice (0.75 oz), simple syrup (0.75), red wine (0.75), and one stick of cinnamon.

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fourSo what makes this cocktail so creepy? Red Rum spelled backwards is “Murder” and it doesn’t get more creepy than that. Talk about trick or treat!

What are your favorite tricks and treats for Halloween?

 

While there are several signs that mark this beautiful season we are in, nothing says ‘autumn has arrived’ quite like a porch full of pumpkins. However, carving pumpkins can be a pain, and not everyone is a master with a carving knife. So, what to do? Well, being the garden expert that I am, naturally, my “no-carve” solution involves plants. While this DIY pumpkin planter is not completely carve-free, it is a whole lot easier to achieve and, in my humble opinion, a lot easier on the eyes as well. With four simple materials and in four simple steps you will have the perfect, pumpkin planter for your porch.

materials-diy-pumpkinFirst, cut around the stem of your pumpkin, just like you normally would, making a hole large enough for your plant to fit into. Then, if you want, spray paint your pumpkin a fun, fall color. I chose copper for mine. After the paint has dried, choose your favorite, fall quote and use a paint pen to write it out onto your pumpkin. (Tip: If you know someone who is gifted at calligraphy, enlist their help!)quote pumpkinThen, simply plant your flowers just like you would in a normal planter.plant pumpkinEasy, right? And now your porch is the perfect picture of fall.pumpkin porch“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

-George Eliot

I am a big believer in having a garden that is not only lovely to look at, but that is useful as well. I cannot say enough how beneficial an herb garden can be. There are so many practical ways to put everything from rosemary to mint to good use. One of my absolute favorite things to grow, however, is lavender. Not only does lavender look gorgeous growing in your garden, it seems as though there isn’t anything lavender cannot do. From homemade beauty products to a variety of drinks and desserts, lavender adds something special to everything it touches. That is why I have put together this list. And let me tell you, lavender has never looked so good!

1. Lavender and Honey Marshmallows via A Beautiful Mess
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2. Lavender Bouquet via Rustic Wedding Chic
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3. Lavender Oatmeal Tub Tea via Evermine Blog
tubtea

4. Lavender Shortbread Cookies via Mountain Mama Cooks
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5. Lavender and Rosemary Wreath via Sarah the Architect
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6. Lavender Lip Balm via Martha Stewart
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7. Lavender Linen Spray via Hello Natural
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8. Lavender Honey Crepe Cake via The House That Lars Built
lavender8What are some of your favorite ways to put lavender to good use?