This is default featured slide 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Monday, May 31, 2010


First and foremost, happy MEMORIAL DAY to all, especially our veterans...

Second, I haven't seen momma bird since the day she came back... I fear that the egg is an orphan...

Third, and this pertains to my post title, DIY is not my strong point... I am much better at designing something than trying to make it actually come to fruition...

That's where Mr. SP comes in... He got the build~it gene...

I wanted to finish the exterior of the GARDEN COTTAGE yesterday and well let's just say Mr. SP didn't... So I thought I could do it myself... I was just patting myself on the back after finishing the project and thinking "hey that wasn't so hard after all" when Mr. SP appeared and announced that...


On race day no less...

Of course I said "well you should have helped me and it wouldn't have happened".

The cable company couldn't come out til Tuesday... I wasn't sweating it...

You see, Mr. SP has amnesia about this but it's not the first time this has happened... And I knew he could fix it... And with a race on tv, it was just a matter of time...

You see I'm posting right? Case closed...

Smashing Glass!

Above is just a small sample of some of the items I made on a recent recycled glass workshop I attended locally in Ipswich. Anita does the most amazing work which she sells at fairs and gallery exhibitions but she also does workshops - for details of her work and the next workshops see It is a hugely creative day and really absorbing. The best bit is that all the glass is recycled using old window glass, primarily.
I met Anita at a local fair we were both exhibiting at and knew then that I would have to do one of her workshops! In fact I have been on two now and am itching to go again - next time Nicola is coming along too....Nicola lurve's glass so it will be right up her street! I've managed to frame the small hearts and my next job is to make up some wooden plinths for displaying the little houses and flower design...hopefully I'll get this done before I go again. I'm aiming to make some little glass Christmas tree ornaments for presents, and for the tree, next time I go. Gosh, I don't believe I said that word (Christmas) and it's not even June yet!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Agave in Vacation House Garden

Agave at Vacation HouseMay 19, 2010
There is a large cactus with a few baby cacti in the front garden of our vacation home.  It is an Agave that I think is Agave guiengola from the descriptions I found.  The leaves are thick, broad and triangular forming a rossette.  They have a bluish powder that gives the leaves a pale greenish grey colour.  The leaves have marginal spines that are quite small.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vacation Gnomes

Vacation GnomesMay 22, 2010
As the happy keeper of Gnome Empire in Ontario, Canada I was anxious to have a few gnomes volunteer to help establish a Gnome Empire Outpost at the vacation home.  I looked high and low to no avail.  I was becoming quite discouraged ready to put out an SOS for any gnomes willing to join the Gnome Empire Outpost.  Just when I was giving up hope these 2 friendly gnomes

Mornings and Lunch Dates

Every morning, my husband has a special time with one of our children individually. There’s never been a complaint at being woken up earlier than the rest. They each look forward to their special morning of the week with Daddy.
The meeting place is the kitchen table and they talk over coffee and hot cocoa. It doesn’t take anything fancy to connect with a child... just time and attention.  And lots of it. They’ve had this tradition now going on 8 years, and I’m betting it will continue into adulthood.

A few years ago I started my own little one-on-one tradition and established lunch dates on Saturdays. The children take turns going out for a slice of pizza with me. Today’s lunch date was with my big boy Gavin.
It’s always amazing to me how few words are necessary (on my part) for Gavin to feel he’s had a terrific time with Mom. He really, really likes to talk. So I listen. And funny enough, what he talks about is mostly over my head, which these days revolves 99% around computer programming.

I'm convinced he didn’t inherit a single thing from me except maybe the blond hair. He takes after my husband all the way.  I enjoy watching him grow and engage in the things he’s passionate about.
He’s been working a lot lately with his daddy, and together they created his first marketable software program. On today’s lunch date, I promised him a plug on my blog.  So here’s the plug…

Before our children ever started a formal math program, we had them learn their math facts backwards and forwards. It’s proven very helpful, and it inspired my husband and son to create a math flashcard software program.
It has features we haven’t been able to find in other programs, and we think it will be useful to other children and schools besides our own.

Have your children try out the free 7-day trial and let us know how you like it. Gavin’s just an email away should you have questions about the program. He’d love to answer them. Remember, he loves to talk. :)

For a link to the 7-day free trial click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My favourite place....

You may be surprised to hear that Halfpenny Home is my second favourite place in the world. My favourite place is here, on my allotment with my chickens, ducks and compost heap. This is what I do before I get to the shop in the morning and after I close the big doors at the end of the day. Hope you have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, Nicola.

Vacation Home Gardens

I mentioned here a few times in the past couple of months about learning to garden in a different zone.  Our permanent Canadian residence is in Zone 6A that should remain the same if we move although we would have less of the direct warming effects of the water.  Our vacation home is located in US Hardiness Zone 9A so that will present quite a difference in what I can grow.

Pictured is the front

Magic Spray

Today I lined up the dining chairs outside in a sunny spot...

and tried out (for the first time ever) a fabric protector spray that promises to:

  • repel stains
  • spills
  • and water.

Afterwards, I baked up some blueberry muffins with the girls.

And enjoyed munching them out on the porch... waiting for the spray to work its magic...

with the hope that one day, blueberries and white upholstery will peacefully coexist.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Homemade Apple Crisp

Last week, I celebrated my 26th birthday!!!!  I had a great day just hanging out with my kids.  That is my favorite thing to do in the whole world!   

  I wanted to share my favorite dessert with you- Apple Crisp!!! I love it and this recipe was my moms that her mom gave to her and it is EXCELLENT!  Yummy!  I am pretty sure that my mom made this for me on most of my birthdays because it is my fav!!!!


Apple Crisp


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter

Pre Heat oven to 350 degrees
Cut up 2 pounds of apples (about 6 medium)
Place in a buttered 8x8 dish
Sprinkle the topping on the apples
Bake for about 40 minutes

I LOVE to double to topping and eat my apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.  I know it is not as healthy that way but it is soooo good!

Do you have a special birthday recipe?


Have a great day,


Super Homemade Herbal Insect Spray

If you've got lots of bugs and want a super bug killing solution without resorting to dangerous chemicals, let a few herbs help. I put this herbal bug spray together last year and certainly helped with whitefly, mosquitoes and aphids.

Bugs hate it. It uses five super bug-busting herbs that are easy to grow in the garden. Another bonus is that just having these plants growing in your yard can

The fruits of my labour!

I've done it! And just in time for Strawberry season too! This is my first knitting project ever - well, unless you count the skinny scarf type efforts of my very young years. It was with a lot of trepidation that I embarked on this project - eagerly encouraged by Nicola who, I have to say, is just totally inspirational and without whom I would never have attempted it! There were a couple of panic phone calls along the way, just to check that I was doing things right, but here it is....and I am so proud of myself!

From comments both in the studio and on the blog, I think there will be a lot more strawberries popping up before long - it just cheers you up doesn't it? And knowing I've made it myself just makes it so much more special! I think I may just make another one.....or two.....

I just had to include the picture of my westie, who's a bit of an attention seeker - he couldn't resist getting in on the act when I was taking these pictures - spot the tea-cosy in the background!


New Gardens

We have been enjoying the new to us vacation home complete with gardens.  The gardens wrap around the house with a wider section to the front.  This is the first time we have ever dealt with an HOA but in this case I really don't mind.  Vacation homes are significantly different from your permanent home in that the vacation home may or may not be rented out or it may be empty for a good portion

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Colors and Paint Cans

Paint colors.  I've gotten lots of emails about them.  Two of my colors have names.  The others are custom, so I have pictures of my paint cans.  It's the best I can do! 

The first color with a name is "China Moon".  It's from Valspar's "Seaside Retreat" line from Lowes.  To me, it's a lovely neutral.  Not too brown and not too gray.  I have it in my kitchen, dining area, living room, and our little master bedroom (above the wainscoting).  I probably would have put it in every room of the house had I found it sooner.  It contrasts nicely with all my whites, browns, and grays.  It's the color on the walls to the left of the bed below.

image courtesy
This next one is on the walls in the girls, boys, and playroom/office rooms. Many people have asked me about this color, and I thought it was a custom color and I didn't have a name for it.  Lo and behold I looked at the paint can this morning and realized I have been wrong all along.  It's actually another color from the Seaside Retreat line from Lowes.  It's called "Stonecastle".  It's the beigy color below.


However, I must tell you this color can be tricky.  Depending on the light in the room, it can go all the way from looking green to gray to beige.  So, definitely do a test spot on your wall in the room you're wanting to paint, and watch how it changes throughout the day.

You've probably noticed by now all of the beadboard and wainscoting throughout our house.  It's a custom white from Home Depot (below):

Last but not least is the most requested paint color in my house (below):

This color is on our island and gutter bookshelves.  I've not only had people from my blog request this color, but also people in real life who come to my house.  It is a really pretty color. 

Some of you will be sad to know that the turquoise color in the sneak peaks of my laundry room did not stay!  Some were asking the color.  That room was painted when we moved in, so I haven't a name or a paint can for it.  I do like it, but for my laundry room, I wanted something more subdued.  So I chose a soft gray color, which I love.  I'll be sharing that paint color once I reveal the laundry room in its entirety. 

I apologize for not getting back to many people who have asked about my paint colors.  And if it's not to late in coming, happy painting!

Get Clean Testimonial from a Stay-at-home Mom and 10 WINNERS announced!

Happy Wednesday!!!

I can’t believe that it is already midweek!  Do you notice anything different today?  I changed my header! How do you like it?  I have been wanting to change it for a long time now.  I also want to add drop boxes.  I just need to make time to actually do it.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who linked up to my Twice Owned party yesterday.  If you haven’t checked out the links yet, go here

I thought that I would share a short testimonial from a stay-at-home mother, named Kristen, with you…..

Since becoming a Mom in October of 2005, I've become extremely aware of the items I
have in my home. We're told to protect our children from choking hazards, stairways
and so on, but are we ever told to protect them from the chemicals we bring into our
home through household cleaning and laundry products? I always thought if I bought
the fragrance free laundry items it would be fine and I also thought my child isn’t at risk
because it doesn’t matter what I’m cleaning with, just as long as he doesn’t get into it.
The fact of the matter is not only is he at risk, I’m also at risk.

As a stay-at-home Mom I learned an interesting fact that made me think about the
cleaners I have. This fact made me get rid of all the toxic cleaners I had in my
I found out about a study done at the Univ. of Oregon where women who work at
home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home.
This study from the U of Oregon, concluded that this was a direct result of the increased
exposure to toxic chemicals, many of which were found in common household products.
I work at home as a homemaker; I fit in that job description.

I have been a Shaklee user my entire life (started in the womb with my Mother) and it
has taken me to be a Mom to really step back and think about what I’m doing in my
world to make a difference for my family and the environment.
With the Get Clean
products, I can feel safe and happy knowing that my family and I are not at risk to be
exposed to toxic cleaners. They are non-toxic, free of harsh chemicals and fumes,
biodegradable, hypoallergenic, Earth friendly, not tested on animal and the containers
are recyclable as well as the dryer sheets

What makes me comfortable is that I can clean a bathtub and know that my son is safe
from any harsh chemicals left behind. I can do laundry with the confidence that it’s okay
for him to suck on his blanket or roll around on his crib sheets. Because I know he is
safe from invisible coatings or fumes left behind. I’m passionate about these products
because not only are they safe for my family, but they are making a difference in the

My girlfriend, whom was a skeptic, tried the sample bottle of Basic H2 and has since
then changed her mind and has given it her own name. She calls it "magic spray". She
uses it on everything, including the grime left on the back of her leather car seat from her
sons tennis shoes.
Everything else she tried didn't get it off, but her "magic spray" did!
"Get Clean" cleaner and laundry products are a solution for so many things, your family,
your wallet, and the environment.
Every household should be using the Get Clean
Every time someone purchases a Get Clean starter kit they do the equivalent
of planting 10 trees, among other great things. Oxygen is good!

Kristin G

Thank you so much Kristin for writing this :)


The 10 WINNERS my random to the BASIC H samples giveaway are………..

stephylou said...

I'm a follower and recently bought the scour off I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS PRODUCT!

Lynn said...

I am still oogling over the scour off paste and may just have to purchase that this week!

Marie said...

Hello sweet Bonnie - I would love to be entered in your giveaway! Would really like to try the basic H2. I am a busy Mama of 4 taking care of my home. This would be a great treat!
I'm a happy new follower!

Gleenda said...

I'm a follower and that list was pretty scary!

Raquel said...

I'm a blog follower on bloglines and I'm learning so much! Thank you!
scrappindaisy at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I would love to try the Basic H2 cleaning wipes. Everything looks awesome though!

To The Moon and Back said...

I would love to try the laundry detergent!

Mom. Nonstop. said...

I don't know what my favorite product would be as I have never used them personally, but your before and afters look amazing! I'd saw wipes are always awesome though!

Melissa said...

I would really like to try the Scour Off.

Eurogirl said...

I just ordered some stuff from you the other day, but would love to have some more. :)
Love your blog! It's fun to find another Catholic mom to follow online!
Amy in AZ (formerly of Illinois!)

Thank you everyone who entered.

Please email me at before next week with your address.

Please put WINNER in the subject line.

To learn more about my products please go to my website.

site home


To buy the GET CLEAN KIT now click below.

Have a great day!!!

Bonnie :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Landscape Design

This time of year, I'm reminded of the other part of our farmhouse renovation...the yard. The above picture shows what the side of the house looks like today...

...this is what it looked like after the contractors left. Due to new electrical, plumbing and water lines, and grading new elevations around the entire house, we were left with a sea of dirt and gravel.

So we had to start from scratch. The yard landscaping was a project we hadn't anticipated when we set forth on our farmhouse renovation and is one that is taking time to complete.

Last summer, we put in a picket fence, front walk and stairs, and dining patio...these tasks alone took the entire summer to complete!

Here's the what the front of the house looks like today. The picket fence offers a coziness to the area around our house. We also wanted to define the area of our property that would be for gardens (inside the fence), from the part that would be more natural and simple (outside the fence).

This is what the front of the house looked like when the contractors left.

This is what the outdoor dining patio looks like today.

This is what it looked like after the contractors left. Once again, Mr. Engineer (Hubby) used all his know-how to design and build a retaining wall, level floor and two sets of stairs.

This is what our 'backyard' looked like just before we went through the renovation. The edge of the 'lawn' previously dropped off a couple of feet past the old deck (which was torn down during the remodel due to rot). The fill we had excavated from the front of the house was hauled out back to extend the lawn area.

This is what it looks like today. We planted over sixty (back breaking work!) White Simplicity hedge roses along the entire perimeter of the lawn. We have yet to rebuild the deck/balcony (this comes off from the french door in the living room) we're trying to enjoy summer this time around instead of always working on the house. Also, we're still deciding on some of the design elements of the balcony. I'll do a separate post on that soon.

So that's what we've done so far.

Landscape design is something I love but is not something I know. I've always loved gardens, especially old country gardens, and I love old houses with hedges and a sense of outdoor coziness. But exactly how to create that with a blank canvas completely stifled me.

Then last fall I came across Tara Dillard's beautiful blog and was overjoyed to discover that she did long distance consults! After sending her dozens of photographs of the yard, and discussing ideas over a few phone calls, she created a beautiful landscape design plan for our property.

It was just what I needed...professional vision. The plans will evolve over time, as money and time permit, but it feels really, really wonderful to have a plan. Tara's amazing gift for creating beautiful landscapes is something I truly admire. I feel quite honored and very happy that her vision will be expressed here on our property.

As we progress with our landscape projects, I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Yarn, yarn, yarn.

It's been an exciting week, Beth finished her first knitting project - a really snuggly cushion made up of swatches of knitting, all with different stitch patterns. What is she going to make next?
I also wanted to show you this lovely photo of yarn from The Gedgrave Flock, it is so soft. Tracy looks after the wensleydale sheep with her husband over at Gedgrave, just outside Orford in Suffolk. We sell her yarns at Halfpenny Home and I can't wait for her to not be so busy so she can come and visit.
On Saturday we had the first Tunisian Crochet session with Lesley and Jeanette bravely tackling this unusual technique which is a bit like a cross between knitting and crochet. You can see our back garden through the open door, this is where we will be holding monthly Craft and Vintage Fairs throughout the summer starting on the 19th June. Cakes of the week are Coffee and Walnut and Toffee Fudge.


So another phase of the garden cottage was completed today thanks in large part to Mr. Sweet Pea. He's one handy guy...

I had taken a lunch break while he went to meet his boss to get the plans for a job he's off to do later today, and had gone back out to the cottage to wait for him to return. I am thrilled beyond words to report that sitting on the egg in the nest that I rescued yesterday was a beautiful dove!

She came back! The baby has a chance! The power of motherly love at work.

She flew away but I'm hoping now that the activity has ceased she will come back. I'll be keeping a watchful eye out for her.

Thanks for all your warm thoughts on the previous post about the egg and the nest. So many kind people in bloglandia...

And because some of you are wondering when you can see the finished cottage, here's a teeny peek...

This is the reflection from an old accordian mirror that I hung inside the cottage...

Soon, I promise...

Marigold Bug Spray

Marigold bug spray, and organic bug spray made with French marigold flowers(Tagetes patula) discourages asparagus beetles, whitefly, tomato hornworms, mosquitoes, and lots of other crawling and flying bugs.

It's a nice alternative to stinkier sprays like garlic or catnip; both are effective but can put a damper on a patio party if you happen to be down wind.

Marigold can attract spider mites,

Vacation Home Gardening

My gosh, I was so excited when I got the news that the vacation home was finalized!  In terms of gardening it meant I would be learning how to garden in a totally different zone from our permanent home of Zone 6A.  When we arrived here to finally check out what we bought almost a month and a half after signing the final papers I was overwhelmed at the work involved.  It wasn't the work as in the

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pretty Finds

I thought I'd share with you a few of the pretty things I found when out bargain hunting at the weekend!
Firstly, these pretty double handled bone china cups, which are so delicate - I thought they'd look lovely planted up with some pretty little violas or something similar - they would also make great containers for making candles too! And then I came across the little pressed glass sundae dishes - my immediate thought was to fill them with some of my most special buttons to have on show, but they would also be lovely with a tiny flower or herb arrangement. They too could also be used as candle containers filled with candle wax. So many ideas! Simple pleasures are just the best.
I also found a lovely selection of art prints - I've shown just a section from one of them. I don't know what I'll do with them yet but I couldn't resist - just lovely!


So I'm working on the elusive garden cottage today...

I swear there's a post coming any day now about it...

I had walked past a secret that nature left me about twenty times when I finally noticed this...

A sweet little nest inside a rusty sconce that flanks one side of the door into the cottage...

But then I noticed this... Do you see it?

The egg had fallen out of the nest and wedged between a garden pot that the nest is built on top of and the sconce... What to do, what to do?

I know you aren't supposed to touch the egg, but I thought the egg had no chance where it was and maybe the mama has even abandoned it already...

So I carefully lifted the nest and pot trying ever so hard to touch the nest as little as possible... Then using a plastic spoon I lifted the egg and place it back inside the nest where the mama left it.

I hope she comes back and thinks something magic has happened... I wonder if she is somewhere fretting over her lost baby... Do birds fret?

I'll be keeping an eye on the egg now... Let's keep our fingers crossed...

Stump Removal

A Couple of StumpsMay 10, 2010
A couple of weeks ago we did a massive ripout which is rather on par for this property.  We have definitely been doing more ripping out than planting since the property was so over planted and poor planted with inappropriate plants.  This time we got smart and hired out the work.  The guys came in with a small backhoe.  Within 2 hours the two gardens being ripped

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Single Blossom

Last spring I came across a lilac shrub at our local nursery. Its blossoms had the strongest lilac fragrance I've ever smelled.

I brought her home and planted her by our old lilac bush so that they could blossom happily together.

But this has been a cool spring so our little baby lilac hasn't shown many signs of life. However, today I looked closer and saw that the poor leafless branches miraculously produced one single large blossom.

And she's beautiful. The variety is called Katherine Havemeyer and the flowers are described as 'lilac-blue, double and open from purple buds, with four to eight inch dense panicles appearing in late spring and early summer'. This species is also referred to as the French Lilac and is known for its extremely fragrant blossoms.

Perhaps as spring warms into summer, she'll come on stronger and grace us with more of her sweet blossoms.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...