Rabu, 31 Juli 2013

Top 5 Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Our dogs are members of the family, so when we go on vacation, we like to include them when we can.  For the dog owner, we have a sense of security knowing what is happening with our pet instead of worrying about him being home without us.  And having a dog along on vacation just adds to the fun, especially an active vacation that includes hiking, swimming or snow play.  Fortunately, most Mt Hood Vacation Rentals welcome mature dogs to join you during your visit.

When you bring your dog with you on vacation, there are some important things to remember:

Traveling by Car:
Before loading your dog into the car, make sure he has a comfortable and roomy enough spot to lie down and relax.  Also, do not feed your dog too much food as he could become car sick.  A little bit of exercise before the car ride will help him relax and fall asleep, too.

Health of Your Dog:
Make sure your dog is healthy when he travels with you.  He should be up to date with all of his vaccinations and not have any diseases or injuries that require a vet visit.  If your dog is on a regular medication, make sure you remember to bring it along.  Also, find out in advance where the closest veterinary clinic and any other important pet services you might need are located.

Exploring the Temporary Home away from Home:
As soon as you arrive to the vacation rental, take your dog for a walk and show him around the yard as well as the areas where you will be walking him.  This will help him to become acquainted with and comfortable with the new surroundings as quickly as possible.  And after a long drive, he will likely need a potty break.  (Pick up after your dog, too.)  And always use a leash when walking your dog; never let him run free - he might run away.

New and Different Surroundings:
Your dog may become nervous in new and different surroundings.  Make sure you bring plenty of his regular dog food, some familiar toys and blankets, beds and towels so he will have something from home to comfort him.  Also, make sure take your dog on plenty of walks and outside potty breaks and never leave the dog alone in the vacation rental.

Pre-register Your Dog:
Always make sure in advance of your arrival that the vacation rental is pet-friendly and that you inform the vacation rental manager that you will be bringing your pet.  There are typically additional fees to cover the cost of additional cleaning after a dog has been in a vacation rental.

If you would like to bring your dog with you when you stay at a Mt Hood Vacation Rental, check out our pet-friendly vacation homes.

Stan and His Students

When Stan Fischer was a professor at MIT, he was one of the all-time great advisers to those of us in the process of becoming macroeconomists.  At a recent conference, Stan took a picture with some of his former students.  Here is the snapshot.  How many can you recognize?

Staircase nook

Hey hey all! Well, it’s about that time! I’m off to Atlanta today to prepare for the Haven Conference that starts tomorrow. It’s been a year of planning and I can’t even believe it’s already here! SO excited to see everybody.

So I finished up a quick little project this week that I’ve been meaning to do for months. Or a year. A year and a few months.

We have a little ledge/nook/cut out spot in the basement staircase that has been sitting half way done for that year and a few months:

You may remember that I installed a wood wall on the main wall in the staircase about this time last year. I still LOVE that wall. So very much.

Before we had the basement finished the wall next to it going down the steps had a weird cement wall bump out thing. Instead of drywalling all the way up I asked them to make it a little ledge instead. They installed a wood piece that I was planning on painting later, hence the stain spatter I didn’t worry about:

But since then I’ve decided I wanted it stained instead. I’m kind of obsessed with the look of the dark wood against the gray blue walls (Marina Gray by Ben Moore) and white trim down there.

So I needed to sand off that stamp and the stain dots:

sanding before staining

It just took a few seconds and I was ready to go – then I taped everything off with my Frogtape really well. I find it’s hard to keep stain from going everywhere since it leaks easily and spatters all over the place. (It could be the operator, who knows.):

prepping for stain

After I wiped everything down well (and let it dry), I grabbed my dark walnut stain and went at it:

how to stain

Remember when you stain to work quickly and to keep the “wet edge” – if it dries at all during the process you’ll see where you left off. OH, and wear gloves!! Trust me – no matter how hard I try I always end up with stain on my hands.

I let it sit for a few minutes and wiped the excess off. I only usually do one coat – I find that’s plenty for the color I want.

While it dried I started hanging the frames I’ve had leaning there forever. Most of them are pics from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade/NYC trip I showed you here, but there was one collage my stepdaughter gave us last Christmas (so sweet!) that I wanted to include too.

Here’s a little tip when hanging pics that have two hangers instead of one – just tie a piece of string or wire between the two:

hanging picture without a level

Then hang that on the the nail. SO much easier. I mean, sometimes what you’re hanging is heavy enough you’ll want two nails, but most of the time I find one is just fine. And this way you don’t have to worry about measuring, finding a level, all that stuff. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Like all of my gallery walls, I just kind of put stuff here and there – yes, that meant a few extra holes in the wall but they’re tiny. The wall will survive:

matching frames gallery wall

I was trying to use frames that I had on hand and I liked the (mostly) matching frames, so I didn’t go crazy trying to fill empty spaces. The “S” we’ve had for years and it perfectly filled one spot that was bugging me.

The ledge has plenty of room for accessories, but for now I just left a couple candlesticks we had here before (they ended up on there because I was too lazy to take them all the way to the storage room):

matching frames gallery wall

They are fake candles and they operate on a timer, so it’s kind of cool to have that little glow as we walk down at night.

It was a quick project and I think it turned out pretty cute! I love how it looks with the planked wall:

wood planked wall

Next up in this space – touch up the wall and ceiling paint and install chunkier baseboards. Maybe I’ll tackle those in another year. Baby steps.

So are you loving gallery walls? I am and I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. It’s such a personal, easy way to fill wall space! And remember you can find frames at Goodwill for super cheap and spray paint them. One color for all of them will unify frames no matter their design. 

Back-to-School Giveaway: Centers, Stations, Tubs, and More!

In honor of back-to-school season, I thought I would host my second giveaway!

Today, I am sharing my TPT product "Centers, Stations, Tubs, and More!"

I created this to use in my classroom because the visual rotation system I used for centers last year drove me crazy. I wanted something that would be a pleasant, but efficient tool for my classroom this year. 

For my classroom, I used the materials in this center pack, as well as a couple of additional materials, such as burlap ribbon (from Hobby Lobby) and plastic magnetic pockets (from Dollar Tree) to create this organization system: 

Aside from the ribbon and pockets, you can find everything you need (and much more) in this bundle of materials! Here's a little preview of the goodies available in this product:

This packet contains stylish labels to help you organize and manage your learning centers, math tubs, literacy stations, and more! In all, this product includes 40 labels/signs for your classroom. 

These include:

* Generic Signs of various designs for: Stations, Centers, Math Tubs

* 10 literacy center labels with generic small group or independent activities. These center labels include, but are not limited to: Word Work, Guided Reading, Write About Reading, Shared Writing, Reading, Writing, Computer, and Desk Work. Here's an example:

* 6 corresponding blank literacy center labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs

* 5 numbered group labels, as well as 3 corresponding blank labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs 

* 6 numbered math tub labels, as well as 2 corresponding blank labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs

* 3 "I Can" posters with blank space for learning goals

I really like the "I can" posters. I plan to laminate them so I can use dry-erase markers to write the skills for each center. That makes it easy to change the skills from week to week.

So, if this product looks appealing to you, please feel free to enter the giveaway! Simply choose any of the Rafflecopter options below to enter! This giveaway will be available through Friday August 2nd, and a winner will be announced on Saturday August 3! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Selasa, 30 Juli 2013

Open House!

I really cannot believe it is already time to go back to school. Where did the summer go?!? Regardless, it's that time of year again! We had our Open House for Kindergarten and First Grade last night, and I think I had more fun than any of the kids. I thought I would share a few pictures from night with you here! Don't you just love the way classrooms look so tidy before the kids come in?? ;)

If you need materials for your Open House or Back-to-School night, all of my sign-in sheets as well as the templates for my "Bursting" treat bags are available in the Tally Tales TPT store! You can access them in the product "Back to School Packet." Here's a little preview of items included in that product:

Senin, 29 Juli 2013

Growing hydrangeas (not killing them)

Hey heyyyy! How was your weekend? Have I mentioned how wonderful our weather has been? One or 50 times? Yeah. It’s been awesome. 51.

I’ve been spending SO much more time outside this summer, I’ve truly enjoyed this season. I’ve been planting a bunch of new things, transplanting some, just enjoying our outdoor space and the flowers.

I wrote last summer about my pathetic hydrangeas and how I was the pretty much the worst hydrangea parent EVER. They hated me. I’ve learned a ton about them since and figured I’d share my new knowledge. (So many great tips in the comments of that post!)

Mine still have a long way to go, but I as long as we don’t have a scorching summer next year, I think they’ll do even better. It’s SO exciting to see them actually grow and bloom this summer! Seriously a thrill after I’ve worked so hard to help them along.

They were sad and pathetic last year, really. The biggest surprise I got a few weeks ago were the start of blooms on my limelight hydrangea. I’ve had it three years people – not one bloom till now. Here is was last summer and now:

how to grow hydrangea limelight hydrangea

It’s now FILLED with beautiful white blooms! They’re all only about half way done too, so in a week or two it will be full of puffy white flowers:

limelight hydrangea

So here’s the first piece of advice – the sleep, creep, leap saying is true. Most plants I have planted follow this – the first year they don’t do much, the second the come along a little bit and the third they leap! I got this guy on clearance at the end of the season two summers ago and last year you can see that it grew, but didn’t do much else.

The third year (this year), it has doubled in size and is full of blooms. I think with hydrangeas you just need to have patience. Which is hard when you buy one full of blooms and then it poops out on you.

Here’s another biggie – you will see hydrangeas everywhere in full sun all the time – I see them at restaurants, stores, churches, drive throughs – everywhere. But mine did horribly in full sun: 

full sun hydrangeafull sun hydrangeafull sun hydrangea 

I showed you these last summer – I’d had them for two or three years at that point? Not one had ever bloomed, they all barely grew, it was just sad. Sad sad SAD.

Now those three look like this:

how to grow hydrangeas

The one on the left has grown a TON from where it was (it was the smallest one) but it’s still not blooming. The other two have done great! They just don’t have a ton of blooms right now because I cut so many of them a few weeks ago. ;)

These are the mophead variety, and they have really strong, beautiful leaves too:

mophead hydrangeagrowing hydrangeas

The leaves on that pink plant are especially hardy, dark and pretty.

Tip two – they do best in morning sun and afternoon shade (or dappled shade). Mine in afternoon shade (these above) do even better than those in the back that get the dappled shade. If you are having problems getting yours to grow – try moving them to a spot where they’ll get some rest from the heat in the afternoon.

I found some PeeGee trees on clearance a couple years ago and was so excited – they are basically a hydrangea tree. The year I planted them they did great for the rest of that season, but last year they looked like butt, like the rest of mine:

Pee Gee hydrangea

Now, they are amazing!!:

Pee Gee hydrangea blooming

They are both blooming and full and doing great.

Here’s the thing (tip three) – hydrangeas need MEGA water. I mean, it’s in their name. :) Last summer was the complete and total opposite of this one here in Indiana – super hot, drought conditions – it sucked. This year we had a really wet early summer and it’s helped tremendously.

I just watch my plants – if they start to wilt at all I know they need water. They need a lot of it, but watch how you water them too. I’ve got one mophead that has a fungus on the leaves (it hit one of my peonies too) because we’ve gotten so much rain. If you can, water them at the base of the plant (not with a sprinkler) so the water goes right to the roots and doesn’t sit on the leaves. (The fungus will not really hurt the plant so I’m cutting off those leaves and letting it be. If it had happened earlier in the season I would have used something on it.)

The Pee Gee tree is a paniculata hydrangea, like the limelight I first showed you. These two have the more cone shaped flowers:

pee gee hydrangea bloom

I much prefer the big round blooms, but these are beautiful too. They turn the most beautiful pink/green in the early fall – they are just gorgeous! I used them in this post a couple years ago: pee gee hydrangea fall

Aren’t they pretty?

I have about ten hydrangea plants out back now, and this one was my most recent addition:

pink hydrangea mophead

I shared it on Instagram – it was in full bloom when I got it and looked amazing! This plant was HUGE (I got it at a local nursery) and was $30 something dollars – you can find them half that size for the same price, so make sure to go big!

Those flowers are now done and are turning brown but the plant is doing great:

pee gee hydrangea

You can see my two PeeGee trees better here – they start to droop a bit as the blooms get bigger. (The one on the left is ahead of the other one by about a week.)

That brings me to another tip (number four?) – plant them in early summer or late fall if at all possible. It’s a lot of upkeep to keep them healthy and hydrated if you plant in the heat of mid-summer. I think the best time would be early summer so you can enjoy the blooms all season, but you can get some killer deals on them later in the fall, so it’s a hard call. I also think if you plant in the early summer you’ll have a better chance at a healthy, blooming plant the next year, since it has more time to get settled.

That huge mophead above was blooming pink when I bought it and the guy at the nursery said they will turn blue in our soil unless I changed the acidity. I have others that are blooming pink so I don’t know if it’s just this type? I was happy with that though because I have white, purple and pink and wanted blue:

blue hydrangea

He was right! ;) The new blooms are blue.

Behind that one is a climbing hydrangea I planted last year:

climbing hydrangea

Again, the plant is doing great, but not a bloom in sight. It’s not going to bloom this year at all, I can tell. I’m moving that one to a different spot soon so we’ll see how it does there.

Around the corner from those are a few more – mostly mopheads and one surprise lacecap:

lacecap hydrangealacecap hydrangea 

This is why you want them to be blooming when you buy. The lacecaps are more delicate – they have little bitty flowers that grow in the middle of the more traditional looking blooms. They are beautiful, but I just prefer the bigger fluffy ones. I am excited to see how these look when they are all blooming though!

Here’s my final big tip – I don’t prune my hydrangeas and they have done great this year. I mentioned earlier this year that I had pruned them and I misspoke a bit – I just (mostly) took all the dead wood off.

This can be tricky because sometimes it’s hard to tell between the normal and dead wood. Most hydrangeas bloom on dead wood – so you want to keep those ugly sticks like mine had last summer:

hydrangea grow on old wood

But I think it helped mine a ton to pull the dead wood out – they just shot up when I did that. I don’t know if it was just coincidence with the timing, but it seemed to help. I just pulled the dead stalks out of the plant – it will give easily if it’s dead. If it doesn’t, leave it.

I did trim down the Pee Gees just a bit though – just some of the tips that were total toast. And it seemed to work! I did this in May of this year – I’ve heard that’s a good time to do it if you’re going to. So I won’t cut them down this winter, and at best I’ll do a tiny bit of pruning next May, but that’s it. Otherwise I’ll leave them alone.

So that’s about it – I’ve learned a lot over the past year! I was determined because hydrangea are one of my all time favorites and I LOVE having them to cut and bring inside:

pink white hydrangea  mophead hydrangea pink white purple hydrangea in wood box dresser as entertainment center

Mine still have a long way to go – most are still tiny compared to a mature plant. But they are doing SO much better than the past. I think I’ve finally figured out how not kill them! Bonus!

Here’s a few other tips:

- If your climate is too warm for hydrangeas, consider the Pee Gee tree. It loves full sun so it should do better for you.

- You can change the color of your blooms with some stuff from the nursery or hardware store, or there are DIY methods too. (I’ve heard nails, pennies, etc.) The color of your blooms depends on the acidity of your soil. (Other than the white ones – those can’t be changed.)

- It seems like they are high maintenance, but once established hydrangeas are easy to take care of – they just need WATER.

- You know those planted hydrangeas you find in the spring/early summer at grocery stores? Yeah, they aren’t really meant to be planted. I had no idea! Go here to read more about that. I still think my one plant that isn’t blooming may be one I got from the grocery that I planted years ago. If it doesn’t bloom next year I’ll replace it.

I hope that helps any of you who have struggled with growing this beautiful plant! Again, I’m no expert but I’m getting there. ;) I think the change I made that made the biggest difference was where I planted them – the afternoon shade is key, at least at our house.

Are you a hydrangea lover? Any great tips I’ve missed? Have you tried and failed at these?


**For more on that DIY wood trough with the flowers in our family room go here!