Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seasonal Color on a Budget

Planting perennials as the core of your landscaping and filling in with annuals based on the season can be a cost-effective way to ensure interest and color all year long. In my front bed (shown above), the perennials are already well-established and consist mostly of shrubs and groundcover.

Since I was on a tighter budget this year but still craving that burst of color for spring/summer, I got resourceful and divided two large mounds of perennial white Mexican petunias into 12 smaller clusters and spread them throughout the front of the bed in a checkerboard pattern. Then I purchased 24 dark purple salvia plants and four 1-gallon snapdragon mixes to fill in the gaps (shown below).

Like icing on a cake, you don't want to skip the mulch! It not only provides vital nutrients to the soil and captures moisture for the plants, but you can't deny it's aesthetic value. When I put down a fresh layer of mulch, it makes everything look new even though only a few of the plants have changed.

All in all, I spent $21 on flowers and $6 on mulch for the front bed that should last me until the fall. Not a bad price for instant curb appeal!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Polka Dot Birthday

Polka dots were the theme for my sweet daughter's first birthday. I made her invitations by printing the details on a simple flat stationery card, then I used a circle cutter to make the balloon shape and attached the striped paper behind it.

I made her a circle-cut banner, hole-punched and tied together with ribbon; it was suspended across the window in the main party area.

Her 4-inch, two-layer smash cake was topped with homemade strawberry frosting (a little runny in consistency, but what can you do when your guests have already arrived!?). Party goers were served cupcakes with buttercream frosting and pastel M&M "polka dots." Foods shaped like circles were also a hit: bowls of cucumber wheels and crinkle-cut carrots with ranch dressing and fruit kebobs of alternating cantaloupe balls and grapes.

When we had Party #2 for local friends (I know, I know...from now on I'll only throw ONE party per year!), I was able to recycle much of the decor, including the circle pendants for the windows and extra balloons.