October in the Garden

Strolling around my yard in October, here are a few of the flowers you will probably spot:

Georgia Aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum)

From Georgia Native Plant Society:

This species is found only in a few states and we are so glad that Georgia is one of them! It has the largest blooms (up to 2 inches across) of any of our native asters. Georgia aster is generally a bigger plant than “late” purple aster, Symphyotrichum patens, has larger flowers, and the color of the ray flowers is a deeper purple while the center disk flowers are a pale tan (compared to the bright yellow of the S. patens), fading to soft purple as they age. Georgia aster is not a particularly tidy plant and looks best in a plant community of native grasses, goldenrods and other perennials so the large flowers can mix and mingle among the stems of the other plants. Plants can increase in size over time through roots or via seed.

‘Purple Dome’ New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

The New England asters are hanging in there since September. The ‘Purple Dome’ cultivar is such a vibrant color addition in the pollinator garden.

From GNPS:

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is sold in Georgia but not often found in the state. Adaptable to a bushy, compact shape, the species is a favorite of gardeners for having numerous, large flowers. While those sold in stores are probably pinched for an even shape, the un-pinched ones in gardens still put on a great show and bees and pollinators love them just as much.

Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

From GNPS:

Aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) is not native to Georgia but it is native in nearby states (e.g., Alabama), and it is also frequently sold at native plant sales, especially cultivars like ‘Raydon’s Favorite,’ ‘Fanny’s Aster’ and others. This aster has dense growth (especially if pinched earlier in the year), good sized flowers, and is fairly late blooming in its range.

Maryland Aster (Chrysopsis Mariana)

From GNPS:

Native throughout the state, this perennial can be found in dry rocky soils such as roadsides and meadows/fields. The deep green foliage is attractive even when the plant is not blooming, topped in late summer/early fall by clusters of bright yellow flowers.

Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)

From GNPS:

One of the showiest fall flowers is swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius). With a large natural range in the southeast and in Georgia, this perennial sunflower is suitable for gardens in need of really TALL flowers. Thick herbaceous stems (meaning: not woody) can reach over 12 feet tall. While this plant might appreciate moist conditions, it grows fine in average soil too. Blooming now – you can sometimes spot them in residential gardens by the extreme floral display this time of year.

Bradley’s 40th Birthday

Bradley turned 40 earlier this month. He invited a small group of guys over to hang out around the fire pit and drink whiskey. I used an “Aged to Perfection” theme for the party.

I got this artwork file from an Etsy seller and had it printed 24″ x 36″ at Costco. The poster frame is from Michaels.
I purchased the gold banner from Amazon and glued it to black pennants I cut using my Silhouette.
I set these cute single serving Jack and Cokes in an ice bucket near the fire pit circle.
I didn’t want Bradley to have to do any work for his birthday party,
so I ordered BBQ from our favorite local place, Righteous Que.
I don’t make the most beautiful cakes, but this is Bradley’s favorite icing recipe. My great-great aunt got this cooked icing recipe off the back of a cocoa tin. I added some bourbon balls around the bottom to help hide the mess.
I have been searching for all of Bradley’s favorite bourbons/whiskeys all year long. I was able to find 13 bottles to replenish and add to his collection.
I found this Bourbon Crunch popcorn at World Market to give to the guys at the end of the night.

Happy Birthday Bradley!

Holiday House Tour 2019

Christmas this year has been a little different. Bradley’s grandmother passed away earlier this month, and my grandmother has moved from her home. Our four siblings and their families came for visits earlier in the year, so we don’t see them at Christmas. All of our gathering traditions are changing. It makes for a slower pace which I am better able to handle, but it is sad at the same time. One wonderful addition this year is our new church! We are part of planting a new campus of our church in our local community. No more driving down into the city for church and it makes it so easy to invite our local friends and neighbors. Our Christmas service was on the 20th and I began my volunteer role of coordinating the dinner for over 200 volunteers! I will do this on a weekly basis when we begin normal services in January. I am excited and nervous at the same time!

We began using this slim tree last year so that it could slip into this corner without having to rearrange any furniture. It is easier to put up and requires fewer ornaments, so I’m all about it.
This ornament came from our Christmas service at our new church!
Each year when we travel, we bring home an ornament to remind us of the trip. This one is from our trip to Roanoke, VA for Bradley’s cousin’s wedding.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go all out decorating if no one but us gets to see it, but I really enjoy the nostalgia of coming home to Christmas decorations. I have decided to try to keep my decorations very consistent – I remember as a child, helping decorate and we hardly ever got new decorations and the ones we had were always placed in the same spot each year. There is comfort in that I think.

Most of my nativities go on this shelf. From top-to-bottom: 1. My first nativity, which I bought for myself in high school is a single piece of bone china ; 2. A wedding gift from my aunt who has since passed away ; 3. A gift from my faher-in-law from a mission trip in Africa ; 4. A tiny one-piece nativity from my best high school friend that came from a mission trip to Peru.
This nativity was also a gift from my father-in-law from his mission trip to Cambodia.
I have been slowly collecting vintage glass ornaments, and this bread bowl seemed like a perfect place for them all.
Go Dawgs!
These nutcrackers were a gift from one of Bradley’s grandmothers.
This vintage sled came from Bradley’s grandfather.

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:14)

Bathroom Countertop Updates

Eventually, we would like to do full updates to our home’s full bathrooms, but in the meantime, we decided to replace the countertops in our main-floor bathroom and our master bathroom. I was forever frustrated with the original countertops – textured laminate!

BEFORE: textured laminate

I knew I wanted a marble or quartz, because I don’t care for granite. I also knew I wanted a light color for the bathrooms. We looked at a lot of slabs before deciding on Stephanie Carrera quartz. I thought it was a pretty good marble-look-alike, but with the low maintenance of quartz. Other than the stone choice I didn’t have strong opinions, so I let Bradley choose the finish, edge and sink shape. He chose a honed finish with 1/8 round edges and rectangular under-mount sinks. I am very pleased with how they turned out.

Master Bathroom Vanity

I had purchased faucets not long after we moved in anticipating changing them out some day. These polished nickel 8″ widespread faucets are from Martha Stewart’s Seal Harbor collection. I thought the widespread would allow for easier cleaning and the tall gooseneck would leave plenty of room in the sink basin. I’m very happy with how they look.

Main Floor Bathroom Vanity

Eventually, I would like to replace all of our vanities with slightly taller ones that have more of a furniture feel. In our two guest bathrooms this will necessitate replacing the floor tiles, and it would make sense to redo the shower wall tile at the same time. At that point we would also replace the original toilets. In the main floor bathroom, I would also like to eventually replace the drywall to get rid of the texture on the walls. It is a rabbit hole I was not prepared to tackle at this point, so for now – countertops it is!

A last minute add-on I made was encasing the foot prop in our shower. We remodeled and expanded our master shower a few years ago, and I’ve always hated how the tile had to be laid to give the corner “bench” a finished edge, so I had them completely cover it with the same quartz.

Guest Area Updates

I’ve made a few changes since my last posts about our guest bedroom and spare bedroom. I finally made some quick new shots of the rooms this weekend.

Guest Bedroom

I moved the crystal lamps from the den to the guest bedroom when we rearranged the den several years ago. I also replaced the undersized lamp shades with new white cotton ones from Pier 1.

Spare Bedroom

In the spare bedroom, I replaced the cheap square side table with nesting tables that no longer worked in the living room. Unpictured – we also moved the Oxford bookcase with glass doors into this room. It holds overflow books and toys for our friends’ kids that visit. Bradley’s grandfather also gave us an antique rocking chair that sits in the corner.

Guest Bathroom

I lightened up the guest bathroom with new paint (Requisite Grey by Sherwin Williams mixed at 50%) and a white shower curtain. For a little color, I painted the vanity Anchors Aweigh by Sherwin Williams mixed at 150%.