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How This $30 Faux Gate Saved Us From Installing a New Fence

16 Sep


See this lovely gate? It’s a fake. It doesn’t actually open. But this faux gate is much more than just a pretty face.

Last summer we woke up nearly every morning to large and numerous holes throughout our entire yard. Shrubs and flowers were dug up and cast aside. Dangerous dips in our yard became rampant.

We were unsettled every night at bedtime, and even more so each morning as we surveyed new damage. We had no idea what was causing it.

Until early one morning, around 6 am, I saw an armadillo enter into a large gap in the fence line at the back of our yard. Ah-ha!


Hotel Armadillo entrance.

Our back fence line was comprised of two fences of our back neighbors.

Where the fences “meet” in the middle, there is a large corridor roughly 18 inches wide and 30 feet long, with openings on both ends: one to our property, and one to the property line of the two neighbors behind us.

We soon learned that this dark and damp sanctuary served as a literal breeding ground for armadillos! Continue reading


How To Prune Roses to Promote More Flowering

15 Jul

I absolutely love roses. These Julia Child roses blooming in my garden are beautiful and smell delicious. I love walking outside when they are in full bloom because the entire yard is perfumed by their delightful scent. IMG_9458

Roses are not hard to care for, but they do have some specific growing requirements.

One of the most beneficial things you can do to promote flowering for your roses is knowing when and how to prune them.

knockout roses

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More Ways to Take The Sting Out of Mosquito Bites This Summer

9 Jul

Since posting the original version of this article, I’ve discovered two must-have tools for the mosquito-fighting arsenal Around My Home.

Mosquito Lantern

The first is the lantern you see on the left. It emits odorless butane to repel mosquitoes in an area of ~200 square feet and has the added feature of an actual light for night-time use.

I purchased several of these lanterns at The Home Depot and they are perfect for outdoor gatherings – one on each table and you have both function and decoration!

The second item is the Alba Lavender Sunscreen on the far right. I’ve tried other brands and scents, but this one really seems to repel mosquitoes effectively for me. I apply the emollient lotion to exposed areas of skin before venturing outside and am usually able to survive dusk without a bite.

The information contained in the original article is all still relevant, so I’ve pasted it in its entirety below.

Hopefully this quick post will give you some new ways to gain relief from mosquitoes this summer!

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Backyard Oranges – Finally!

3 Oct

Oranges in bowl close up

We harvested our first crop of oranges this year from our Satsuma Mandarin Orange tree.  I purchased the orange tree when I returned from a long-term consulting project in Rome, Italy.

I wanted to plant the tree as a reminder of my work there, since I frequented a large grove of orange trees just a short walk from my office.


After three years of watching and waiting, we finally got oranges!  We shared some with family, neighbors, and friends, and enjoyed the rest.

Oranges in bowl in kitchen

Some of the oranges were sweet and juicy, a few were dry and tasteless, but all of them were so much fun to pick off of the tree!

Ladybug Hunting

27 Feb
Sweet Little Ladybug On My Julia Child Rosebush.

Sweet Little Ladybug On My Julia Child Rosebush.

As much as i like this shrub, it's got to go. It attracts too many wasps and horseflies close to the house.

This shrub has got to go. It attracts too many wasps and horseflies close to the house.

The shrub pictured at left attracts far too many wasps and horseflies, so it’s coming out tomorrow. In its place, my beloved mandarin orange tree will take up new residence.

Trouble is, this Japanese Yew has also been serving as home to a large family of ladybugs. As any gardener knows, ladybugs are wonderful outdoor friends. Not only are they delightfully cute, but they also devour menacing pests such as aphids, which commonly wreak havoc upon roses, hydrangeas, and other beautiful plants.

So this morning, I took my son ladybug hunting. He is almost two now and completely fascinated by these delightful creatures. Our goal was to capture as many as we could find before they are evicted tomorrow. We plan to relocate them elsewhere in our garden by week’s end. With temperatures in the low 40’s, the ladybugs were dormant, so it was the perfect time to catch them. I captured at least two dozen and placed them in a clear plastic container with small air holes, which I immediately transferred to the refrigerator. The refrigerator maintains the same temperature the ladybugs were being exposed to outside. This approach does not harm the ladybugs and will keep them asleep for a couple of days until the weather warms again.

Later this week, I will release the ladybugs into my rose garden, which I hope will be a happy new home for them.

If you’re wondering how to attract ladybugs to your garden, you can actually purchase them at some plant nurseries. They will likely be refrigerated when you acquire them and may even look dead, but they’re not. They are simply asleep. In fact, they may start moving around as they start to warm up. When you get home, immediately place the ladybugs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to release them. The best time to release ladybugs is dusk, since they don’t travel at night. If you release them during the day, they may leave your yard in search of food and may not return.

Looking for more outdoor tips this Spring? Take a look at my Quick-Start Guide to Gardening in 5 Easy Steps.

Happy Outdoor Living!

P.S. Happy 48th Anniversary, Mom and Dad! I love you!

Why You Should Eat More Watermelon This Summer

23 May

Be sure to include watermelon in your summer fare!

Did you know that watermelon contains more cancer-fighting lycopene than tomatoes?

This super-fruit is also packed with Vitamins AC, and energy-boosting B6.

If the kiddos have trouble eating their greens, try giving them more pink! Watermelon has the same amount of potassium boasted by spinach and kale.


Take The Sting Out of Mosquito Bites This Summer

6 May

3 indispensable products for outdoor summer living Around My Home!

I like to imagine that there were no mosquitoes in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in our backyard.

We have three neighboring properties around our home that all have swimming pools. Where there’s water, heat, and humidity, there are mosquitoes.

I’ve discovered a handful of at-home remedies for both preventing and treating mosquito bites that are safe for all ages.

I learned of these methods while preparing for a business trip to Bangkok, Thailand.

Mosquitoes are a big problem in Bangkok year-round. The climate is hot and humid, many places do not have air conditioning, and the sanitation is not ideal – a perfect recipe for a multitude of mosquitoes.

Not only are the mosquitoes a nuisance in Bangkok, but many also carry dangerous diseases, so I was required to get a slew of vaccinations before traveling there.

Below are the tips I followed to avoid getting bit and they really worked!
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