Saturday, January 29, 2011

Avoiding Crape Murder in Your Landscape

Well, it's about that time of year again.  Time for tree and shrub pruning for the yard and landscape around the house.  Well isn't it too early you might say, but really it's not.  Spring, believe it or not, is right around the corner and it is good to prune your trees and big shrubs in late winter or very early spring before it's get to warm and you begin to damage the new life that is springing from your formerly dormant foliage.  I trimmed many of the trees last year as well as many of the shrubs, but one tree has always alluded my trimming until this year.  I have a big, beautiful Crape Myrtle tree in my front side yard that appears to be very old.  So last year I decided not to trim it.  To be honest, it is hard for me to trim shrubs and trees, even though I know it's good for the plant, because I always feel like I'm amputating it's limbs or submitting it to some ancient torture.  And all the while the poor plant never puts up a fight but willingly takes a hacking.  Ultimately it is good though because the tree produces better, more full, and newer limbs.  So with a crape myrtle that was running amuck, it was time to intervene.  I was going to do it more in the winter but it was way too cold so a few days ago we had some nice weather and it was perfect for trimming.

With the tools in hand, Laura and I made our way out to the tree with the ladder.  Little did I know that there were two very different opinions indwelling us that would make it hard to trim the tree.  I like trees, and like I said before, I always feel kind of bad trimming them even though it is vital.  Laura, on the other hand envisioned cutting it way down.  And when I mean way down I mean the kind of way down you see in a parking lot where a landscaper comes and hacks off all of the branches at the same height for the winter.  This method did not settle with me.  Turns out we needed to obtain some better knowledge about how to properly trim a crepe myrtle and avoid what I like to call "crape murder!" (when someone hacks off all of the branches at one height).  Fortunately, the Mississippi State University agricultural extension had some great videos on YouTube that really helped us out because, after all, this whole landscape up-keep thing is pretty new to me.

Armed with this new knowledge I was confident that I could trim this beast of a crape myrtle and avoid the ghastly sight of crape murder.  Really, the only supplies that you need to trim a big crepe myrtle is a small pruning shears, a large pruning shears, maybe a saw (either a pruning saw or a cross-cut saw, which is what I used), and a ladder.

Here's the tree before the pruning

Now it is important to cut the branch close to the where it comes off of the trunk.  Typically this is described as just above the collar, which is a slight bulge near the base of the branch.  That way you are not cutting into the main trunk and potentially causing some serious problems.  You also want to prune the branches at about a 45 degree angle to the branch, not the ground.  So trim your branches near the collar and at an angle.  It is also important to know what kind of branches need to be trimmed.  I learned that you need to look for branches that are crossing others and rubbing together because this can cause a wound and critters can potentially get in there and really damage the tree or make it sick.  Yes, trees can get sick too.  Also you want to look for branches that go in the opposite direction of the main stem and cut back across the middle of the tree.  Pretty much, when you're trimming a crape myrtle you want to think about taking out problem branches and trimming and shaping up the tree because this helps preserve the"tree" look and not a "naked-winter-limb" look that will appear like a Chia pet in the spring.

So by the end of the trimming experience, it looked really good and I was able to preserve the shape of this tree while still thinning out out quite a bit (evidenced if you look closely at the before and after pics).  I think it will grow nicely, and even though it doesn't look like we took a lot limbs out, you can tell by the pile next to it that there was a lot to be trimmed.  But when you do it right and selectively you can take a lot out and it still looks great.  I can't wait to see how it blooms in the summer!

Here's some of the videos that helped me out a lot!

Friday, January 28, 2011

How Bloggers Party Online

About a week ago, I discovered how bloggers party online. They have these things called "Linky Parties". On a certain day of the week or month various bloggers let other bloggers attach their post to a long list of related links. For instance, there's a website on my list below that holds a "Craft Mondays" Linky Party. So every Monday, her readers can attach their link to her "Craft Mondays" post.
The purpose of these parties is multi-fold. First of all, it is a cool way to combine many related posts from across the blogosphere into one post. In addition, it helps new bloggers - like me- get their name, posts, and ideas in front of a larger audience (or outside of their current friends and family who already read their blog).
So this past Sunday, I posted my Before and After House Tour post on various Linky Parties. The next day, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my post had quadruple the page views as before! This was very exciting and got me thinking.... what if I made a calendar of all the Linky Parties out there so I can remember when to post what online!
One thing to note is that some (not all) of the Linky Parties have rules. For instance, in order to link to the post, you may have to a) Follow their Blog b) Comment to the Post or c) Add an icon to the bottom of the post that you linked. (You can see how I added these icons to the bottom of my Before and After House Tour post). Well just leave it to me to go way overboard on this and make a Type-A list of each Linky Party, the icon you need to link back, and the rules associated with each party. Link up, watch your page views rise and enjoy!
*Note* if you find any other Linky Parties make sure to let me know by commenting to this post!
Official Linky Party Calendar
  1. DIY Club Weekly Showcase Mondays
    2. Rules
      1. Enter you project into our Weekly DIY Living Showcase part
      2. Tell us the category and number of your post (just hover over the entry and the number will appear.
      3. Follow the DIY Club - done, leave us a comment telling us that you did so and we will Feature someone next week
  2. Craft Mondays
    2. Rules
      1. Please link to something that is relevant to this blog's topics (up to 3 links per blog). For example, before and after, recipe, craft, DIY project, show us what you are working on. Please no businesses or etsy shop links.
      2. Put button on post
      3. Link to the specific post, not your homepage.
  3. Make it 4 Monday!
    2. Rules:
      1. DECORATING PROJECTS FOR THE HOME: no recipes, no clothes, and no crafts unless it will be used FOR MAKING YOUR (or someone else's) COTTAGE LOOK OR FUNCTION BETTER.
      2. Also:  Please visit some other party-ers and leave some comment love....if you just link and run, it feels a bit rude.  Just sayin'.
      3. Oh, and: Please add a link back here or my button to your post so others can find their way here.  Again, if you just link and run, it feels a bit rude. (Yep, again, just sayin'.)
  4. Thrifty D├ęcor Chick - First Monday of every month
    2. Rules: link to here from your actual post url, not your general blog url.
  5. Metamorphosis Monday
    2. Rules:
      1. Copy and Paste the Metamorphosis Monday button/logo (or grab the html button code below) to use in your MM post, if you like. 
      2. Create your Met Monday post showing your Before and After Project. Please be sure to mention and provide a link back to the host blog, Between Naps on the Porch, so your regular visitors/readers will be able to find the other posts linked for Met Monday, too.  
      3. Then, on Sunday evening stop back by BNOTP and you'll find InLinkz set up and waiting for you by 9:00 PM.
  6. Thrift Share Monday – what you have found at a thrift store
    2. Rules:
      1. Your Thrift Share Monday blog post should include your thrifted finds from the weekend.
      2. Create a blog post with photos of your items.
      3. Link your Thrift Share Monday post back to Apron Thrift Girl.
      4. Link to your Thrift Share Monday post on Apron Thrift Girl using inlinkz below.
      5. If you participate with Thrift Share Monday regularly, please add this button to your side bar so that we can build our Thrift Share Community.
  7. Make it Yours Tuesdays
    2. Rules: link back 
  8. Twice Owned Tuesdays
    2. No rules
  9. Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays
    2. Rules:
      1. Be sure to refer back to my blog so everyone can see who is participating today, include the NTT button in your post (copy and paste the html code under the button…the button is located on my sidebar). Please make sure that you have put my NTT button or my blog name with a link on your post. I have seen that some of you have forgot to do this…so this is just a sweet reminder.
      2. This party is for sharing thrifty finds from garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, craigslist and even those awesome deals that you find at any retail store. 
      3. Please go and visit the other participates and leave a comment about their treasures and thrifty ideas…this is what makes the PAR-TAY so much FUN and what a great way to meet new friends. I would love for you to add yourself as a follower if you haven't already and please let me know, I love to know when I have a new friend. I appreciate all your comments, they really make my day.
  10. Tuesday- Get Your Craft On:
    2. Rules:
      1. Link only YOUR projects. Projects YOU made, created, cooked, decorated, sewed, glued……you get the idea.
      2. DO NOT use my link party to promote your giveaway or linky party. I do offer reasonable ways to advertise, if that’s what you need.
      3. Please DO link back to TCB. (a text link or button is great!) I offer Get Your Craft On as a platform for you to show off your talent and to bring more traffic to your site.  It help bring more traffic to my site when you link back.  (I’m not a huge fan of those link party pages……maybe I’m wrong, but who looks at those and actually clicks?
  11. What I'm Lovin' Wednesdays
  12. What You're Working with Wednesdays
  13. Wednesday: Penny Pinching Party
  14. Anything Goes Wednesdays
  15. Idea Sharing Wednesdays
  16. Show and Tell Wednesdays
    2. No Rules 
  17. Whatever goes Wednesdays
    2. Rules:
      1. Enter your project (up to 4 links), tip, idea, recipe, whatever. Visit others. Leave comments. PLEASE NO ETSY SHOPS! Come back again in the next few days more projects are added throughout the week. Let the fun begin! (Because blogging is not my full-time job, I will not be able to visit every link. I apologize.)
  18. Transformation Thursdays:
    2. No rules – but said to link back and comment
  19. Tablescape Thursday
    2. Same Rules as Metamorphosis Monday (see above).
  20. Thursdays - Under $100 Linky Party
    2. Rules:
      1. Photobucket
      2. Please link to the specific post, not your blog!
      3. Please only post ideas that cost $100 or less--it would be great if you share the cost of your project, but not necessary.
      4. Please include a brief description in link up.
      5. Grab my Under $100 button on the sidebar and include it in your post or a link to Beyond the Picket Fence so people can find you and more great ideas.
      6. Please no direct links to sales sites, i.e. ETSY or just a plain ol' commercial site, we are looking for inexpensive ideas we can recreate, thanks!
  21. Thursdays
    2. No Rules
  22. Strut your stuff Thursday
    2. Rules
      1. Grab our party button so everyone can get in on the fun
      2. No advertisements for shops, websites, giveaways or other link parties please.I delete about 10 or so of these every week!
  23. Fridays:
    2. No Rules
  24. Show and Tell Fridays:
    2. Rules:
      1. Publish your Show & Tell Friday post on your blog.
      2. Offer a link back to the main page of my blog. This is a courtesy to me, as well as your readers--they will know where to join in the fun, too.
      3. You are welcome to use my Show & Tell Friday picture. Just copy and paste it on to your blog.
    1. Flaunt it Fridays
      2. Rules:
        1. Post about anything, decor, crafts, recipes, I'm not picky! :)
        2. Please remember to link back to my blog so more people can join in on the fun. The party button is on the left column.
        3. Please follow me if you don't do so already so I know you'll come back next week! And maybe like me on Facebook while you're at it... pretty please. :)
    2. Fridays Remodelholic
      2. Rules:
        1. Please link to something that is relevant to this blog's topics (up to 3 links per blog). For example, a remodel, before and after, recipe, craft, DIY project, show us what you are working on. Please no businesses or etsy shop links.
        2. Add my button to your blog's sidebar or the post so more people can hear about the party... The more people that see the button, the more people that will see your posts and blogs!
    3. Frugal Friday – have to link back
      2. Rules: Please link back to the Shabby Nest so that others can enjoy the frugal goodness.
    4. Five Questions Friday
    5. I’m loving it – Fridays- Tidymom
      2. No rules
    6. Saturday night special
      2. Rules: Put button on page
    7. Recipe Swap Sundays
    8. Some more... 
      1. Frugalicious Friday
      2. Frugal Friday

    - Whew! That's it for now!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011


    So I don't know if y'all have heard about this little website that is becoming all the rage or not. My guess is that you probably have because of the Geico commercials of robots talking about how much money they can save and stuff, and presidents dancing about saving money. The website is called and it is gaining popularity. I decided to spend some time on the site and check out what it can do. The premise of the site is essentially text videos. So you create a written story board and then pre-recorded voices and animation act it out. It's pretty easy and quite hilarious. They have simple templates to very complex options where you can design characters, actually determine camera angles, add in non verbal/facial expressions, etc. So pretty much you can decide how much time you want to waste...just a few hours, or maybe a whole afternoon. Anyway, I thought I'd try it out and see what they were like.

    For those of you who don't know, Laura and I really like playing games. Whether they be card games, acting games, board games, word games, dice games, whatever. Games are great to play with friends and talk and hang out. Recently, we have really enjoyed playing a game called Settlers of Catan, by the way, just bear with me because everything will come together. We learned how to play this in college and the more we play it and meet people the more we've realized that there is like an underground subculture of Catan addicts of which we were becoming. Suddenly, everyone we knew was like, "you play Catan, me too, we should play." Now to an outsider, the game can kind of seem complex and ridiculous, however, it really is fun and it can get really intense quite frankly. So we have been playing the game for a while and recently got some expansion packs and extension packs to make the game a little more complicated.

    So this is how I arrived at a topic for xtranormal. As I was on the site, I thought about making a short text video about the gaming subculture that adores Catan (seriously, people make cakes, t-shirts, pillows, and even halloween costumes about this game...just check out google images or the facebook group). After a few moments of thinking about where to go with the plot, I just thought of how it must sound when we describe the game to someone who has no clue about the game and then about 40 minutes later ( I used the simple template) I created my first xtranormal video about a topic that has captured the heart of many gamers and especially Settlers of Catan gamers, which if you haven't played, you should because it is fun. You can see my creation below

    Disclaimer: This video will not be funny unless you have an idea about what the game is and how it is played. If you play a lot, you will probably appreciate the video more!  Anyway, what are some of your favorite games to play?

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Wedding Week Day 4: Wedding Week & Bachelorette Party

    What to do on a really cold Saturday when you're feeling sick? How about finish the Wedding Week Challenge that I started way back in December?

    I've already discussed the story of Our Engagement, Our Engagement Party at Williamson Brothers' BBQ, and the trials and tribulations of Wedding Planning.

    Now we head to the actual week of the wedding. First of all, we had the crazy idea to get married on December 20th, smack dab in the middle of the busiest season of the whole entire year! On top of that, Jason graduated the day before we got married - so our wedding week schedule looked a bit like this:

    Tuesday: Got our marriage certificate! The pink room we are sitting in is my old college apartment.
    Tuesday Night: Harry Connick Jr. Concert with Friends in Atlanta (a really thoughtful wedding gift). Here's us right before we left.
     At the concert in Atlanta 
    Thursday Afternoon: Attend Jason's Graduation (School of Education) with Jason's Parents. This little piece of the agenda was thrown off a bit when my car battery died at Wendy's about 10 minutes prior to the start of his graduation!

    Jason's big moment. Only to be surpassed by a bigger moment two days later! 
     Two days before we said "I Do" 
     I am forever indebted to Ruth who picked my up at the Wendy's and risked missing her son's graduation to make sure I was there too! 

    Thursday Evening: Manicures and Pedicures with my bridesmaids and Mother-in-law.

    Here's a pic of Kristen, Teresa, me, and Jason's mom Ruth.
    Kristen, Teresa, and me 
    Me, Audrey, and Julianna 
    Drying our nails 
    All done!

    Thursday night: Bachelorette Party in Athens - more on this down below...
    Friday Morning: Jason's big UGA Graduation - I missed this due to not going to sleep until 3:00am after my Bachelorette party.
    Friday Afternoon: Lunch with my parents, my grandparents, Jason's parents, Jason's grandparents, and our siblings at Brett's in Athens to celebrate his graduation.

    We're gettin' hitched tomorrow!
    Jason with his grandparents who came in from Arizona for the festivities 
    Jason and me with my grandparents who came in from Texas for the festivities 

    Friday Evening: Rehearsal at Watksinville First Baptist and Rehearsal Dinner at the Foundry Inn - coming up in my next post...
    Saturday: Bridesmaids Luncheon, and The Wedding Day in Athens! - I'll discuss more in a future post...
    Sunday Morning at 9:00am: Fly out from Atlanta to St. Lucia for our honeymoon..

    It's a wonder I didn't pass out while walking down the aisle. Although I'm sure every bride feels this way as she looks back over that crazy week.

    But anyways, back to the Bachelorette Party. After having lots of fun seeing my best friends and pampering ourselves, we got ready to go. Wow I forgot how pink that room was! There's me with Brenda, Audrey, Teresa, Angelyn, Amy, Kristen, and Julianna.

    I was very happy that my friends know me well enough to know that I did not want the typical, crazy Bachelorette party. I'll admit that mine was very tame and involved: dressing up in silly attire, going to Shokotini Sushi bar in downtown Athens, doing some karaoke, and coming back to movies - Mamma Mia - to be precise, junk food, and girl talk. It was perfect in my opinion. They did get me two girly cocktail drinks, but that was about the extent of it.  I'm really glad that we did this on Thursday, since it allowed everyone to be there - it also meant that we could enjoy ourselves the next night at the rehearsal dinner. Plus, it was really fun having the party in Athens, since it meant two nights of big slumber parties at our apartment! It's really fun to look back on this time with such great friends.

    All dolled up with my girly drink and my sis Kristen 
     Julianna, me and Angelyn
     Brenda, me and Teresa 
     Me and Amy 
     Teresa and Angelyn  
    Belting it out to boy bands in the karaoke room! 
     I join the fun 
     More fun times... Can I have another Bachelorette party? Same hubby of course! 

    So that's it for tonight! Hopefully I'll be able to finish this wedding stuff soon!


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