Month: February 2019

Don’t get perplexed by paint colors

With the start of a new year, come the goals of starting new regimens of diet, exercise and organizing our homes. If January is the month to de-clutter and organize, February is the ideal month to start refreshing for spring. Nothing invigorates a tired space like a fresh coat of paint. However, while painting can seem like an easy task, many homeowners rush the process and end up with a bad case of color choice remorse. Before heading to the paint store, here are some helpful hints to set yourself up for success. Have your basics in place: I spend a great deal of time fixing paint colors for clients who jumped the gun before identifying the actual items for a space. If you are painting a bedroom, have the bedding in-hand first. The bedding will likely dictate the entire color palette. It also allows for comparing paint swatches against the bedding in the true light of your space. The same goes with the family room, kitchen and bathrooms. Know the colors of your main components such as the sofa, floor coverings, window treatments, tile and cabinets before picking your wall color. These big ticket items have staying power and more rigid options, while there are endless paint colors to choose from, so always identify key players on the front end. When selecting a new paint color, especially if...

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Cold weather won’t scare off all blooming

February is always a cold month and the ground can be covered with snow or frost, but with the occasional warm days there are landscape plants that will bloom despite the chilly weather. The Oregon Grape Holly is a native shrub that often blooms very early in the spring and sometimes as early as February. The plant grows to 3-6 feet tall with evergreen leaves that have sharp spines at the edges, very similar to the American Holly. The main difference between the American Holly and the Oregon Grape Holly is that the leaves of the Oregon Grape Holly has 13 leaflets that create a compound pinnate leaf while the American Holly has a single leaf. The flowers of the Oregon Grape Holly are small but bright yellow, slightly fragrant, and are arranged in clusters on stems that look like fireworks on the top of the plants. The stems are about 2-3 inches long and the yellow flowers shine brightly on the top of the dark glossy evergreen leaves. The plants love to grow in part sun or full shade in acidic, moist but well-drained soils, perfect for most of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Neither rabbits nor deer like to nibble on these plants but the native birds love the rounded blue grape like fruit. Another native shrub that blooms in the very early spring are the Witch...

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What’s Marie Kondo decluttering all about?

Over the past few years, I have heard lots of buzz about Marie Kondo, the famed Japanese organizational consultant whose decluttering tips has women throwing away bags and bags of belongings. Her minimalist approach is about as disciplined as they come and Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has earned a cult following since its publication in the United States in 2014, with millions adopting her suggestions for a neater, happier existence. While I read her book last summer — and found her decluttering techniques to be a little stricter than I was prepared to be with my own minimalist goals — I have seen a lot of increased chatter on my social media feeds in the New Year, with lots of friends converting to the “KonMari” method. Whether you have read any of her books or have seen her Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” or not, I wanted to share a few of my favorite “KonMari” methods that seem to have the most functional utility in my own decluttering journey. Just in case you have not delved into any of her books or shows, the basic premise is this: Decluttering should be something you give your full attention to — so plan to set aside an uninterrupted day to make this your focus. Her method has a specific order for when to attack...

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Pruning, clean-up important in February

February is a month where the weather can vary widely. Even though it may still be cold, damp, snowy and sometimes miserable outdoors, occasionally Mother Nature will bless us with a day or two of sunshine, which inspires us to go outside and work in the yard. Pruning and clean-up are always important jobs for February. Remember protecting your landscape from hungry deer is critical this month. Be sure to apply a repellant to make your plants less desirable. Remember, regardless of what the groundhog says, spring is still more than six weeks away! Week One • Keep the water flowing or provide a heated birdbath for the birds during these wintery days. Placing a few small rocks around the rim of the birdbath will allow the birds to drink without freezing their feet. • Check bird feeders and refill them often during the winter, always remember to dispose of damp or spoiled seed. Week Two • When watering house plants be sure to rotate pots a half-turn every other week. This exposes foliage to improved light conditions and will eliminate bending of stalks and foliage to the light source. • Use a pH meter to test soil of your indoor houseplants. Most houseplants like a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Use lime to raise pH and Espoma Soil Acidifier to lower pH. Week Three • Monitor your...

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