Mom’s Green Thumb: Indoor Edition

Courtesy of my Mom, Jeanette (because I did not inherit her green thumb)…

Last Spring Becky asked me to write a  post about outdoor plants and flowers, so I did. Now, she asked me to write about indoor plants, so I will do that as well.  Needless to say I like all kinds of plants, but indoor plants add something special to a home, the are great decorating accents, and they help clean the air inside just like they do outside.

At the moment I have ten plants throughout the house plus three more wintering in our basement until it is warm enough to bring them onto our enclosed porch for the summer.  I will probably bring one that is almost ready to blossom up from the basement soon as I don’t want to miss the flowers.  I also have a pea plant Annabelle, our great-granddaughter, started at Children’s Church a few weeks ago and a tiny pot she and I are watching for a watermelon to break through.  We may have to plant a new watermelon seed.

Among my house plants is a ficus tree that is older than Becky (33 years for reference). It was given to me by the woman from whom we bought one of our first houses.  She was downsizing and didn’t have room for it in her new home and it has been a part of our lives ever since, moving with us to six different houses. Our son, Seth, has a cactus he brought home in the back of a truck in January 17 years ago.  I nursed it along and although it still has the scars from the plant version of frost bite it has grown from about two feet tall to over six feet.  The peace lily by our french door was given to me by the former superintendent and his wife when I started as a Superintendent.  Every time I look at it, it reminds me of their kindness and support as I started a new position.  I can tell you similar stories about when I acquired most of my plants.

I also add a few plants now and then as I see an area that needs a fresh look or when a current plant has grown too big for the windowsill. And every now and then I lose one. The ivy I had in the window near my piano died this Winter and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it just got too cold during some of the coldest days even though it had lived in that window a couple of years. Oh, well.  I also have a Christmas cactus that has never blossomed for me. I may try planting it in the ground outside for the Summer.  What do I have to lose?

My approach to plants is pretty simple.  If I get a new plant I read the tag and try to match its need for water and direct or indirect sunlight and if someone gives me one I check on-line.  I water my plants thoroughly once a week, but do the “finger test” (push your finger into the soil slightly and if dirt sticks to it, no water is needed, and if not, water it) first.  I like to put fertilizer sticks in each pot in February or March. The directions tell you how many to use for a particular diameter pot, but I have also used dissolvable fertilizer, the fertilizer sticks are just easier because they are once and done for the year. The plants don’t seem to care either way.

Once or twice a summer I try to put my plants outside when there is a gentle rain to wash the leaves, but putting them in the shower also works, it’s just a little messier. Every few years as plants grow I either re-pot them or divide them and sometimes I change the soil.  If a plant gets too leggy or spindly, I pinch it back or take a cutting and put a piece of it in a vase or jar until roots develop.  I put a plant I started from a cutting on the window in Becky’s cottage and she and I both think it looks right at home there. I visit to water it once a week when she’s not around (thanks Mom!).

I can’t grow everything—African violets, like the Christmas cactus, don’t bloom for me. But that’s OK.  In the meantime I’m enjoying the plants I grow successfully.  I enjoy them throughout the year, but it’s especially nice to have something green and growing around in the winter. When the days get longer they come out of their winter doldrums by putting out new leaves and shoots, their own way of welcoming Spring, I suppose.

One caution before I close.  Some plants can be harmful to children or pets. Check on-line to be sure what you have is safe for those in your home or put them on a high shelf then enjoy the freshness and beauty plants add to your home.


In a lot of ways I take after my Mom, but this just doesn’t seem to be one of them.  I’m thankful for her knowledge…and so are the few plants I’ve managed to keep alive for any length of time.  

Have a great weekend!






Be Our Guests

Last weekend we had the pleasure of hosting our dear friends from Michigan which has me thinking about what it means to me to be a good hostess or at least how I try to be.  First and foremost, I truly enjoy having company and want any guests in our home to feel welcome and comfortable…whether it is for a week, a weekend, or just an evening.

Hosting doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, all you need is a little forethought…

Plan Ahead

My to-do list the week before having guests usually includes the routine cleaning and grocery shopping..making every effort not to wait until the last minute.  I like to think of a few of our favorite restaurants in advance that our guests might enjoy so we aren’t stuck spending too much time deciding where to eat (Mark and I are TERRIBLE when it comes to this)  It also doesn’t hurt to have some ideas of things to-do or places to go.

Be Considerate

This goes hand-in-hand with planning ahead, try to be aware of any dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences guests might have and you can accommodate accordingly.  This will avoid any awkwardness when you unknowingly make  bacon & eggs for breakfast.

A Special Touch

A little extra effort can go a long way…consider adding fresh flowers to your guest room, spare toiletries in the bathroom and have extra pillows & blankets accessible. As someone who has a hard time falling asleep without white noise (usually a fan) I recently added a sound machine by the guest bed for anyone who might share my quirk.

These simple things not only benefit your guests, but can help you ENJOY your time with your company instead of stressing, what’s more important than that?






Cottage: Shelves

Earlier this week I mentioned I’d be back with another Cottage update so here it is!

From the day we decided to purchase the cottage, I started collecting things to decorate.  I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise. Early on I had my heart set on open shelves in the kitchen to display some of the items I had found, and planned to find.

We kept the design of the shelves simple, a blank slate

I compiled an assortment of old and new items, which is what I’m always drawn to when it comes to decor.  I wanted the shelves to be appealing to the eye but also functional.

Once I started styling I had to move things around “several” times to get it “just right”

“fruition: the state of having successfully completed an activity or plan”

-Cambridge Dictionary


One more thing checked off the list.  Have a wonderful weekend!


Cottage: Living Area

As promised, I have a progress update to share with you! Despite our bad news about the well last week we thoroughly enjoyed a long overdue visit to our cottage and time with family.  We had time to discuss a game plan to take care of the well, checked a few small items off the to-do list, also cleaned and organized the living area….

To jog your memory…this is where we started


then it got “worse” before we could make it better

And now…

A couple of my favorite features not shown in the views above

As you can probably tell…we both love the color blue

My uncle found the oars for us and with a couple of cans of spray paint we were able to add  some pops of color on our wood wall.  The mirrors came from Hobby Lobby (1/2 off!) and those are heavy-duty Command Hooks.  It is a small space so we want to keep the decor simple but to add interest we focused on using different shades of blue, patterns & textures.

There are still some finishing touches, but for the most part that space is DONE and it feels so good. We are still on the hunt for the “perfect” recliner for Mark to add to the space, it will have to be just right as far as size & scale…I know it is out there somewhere.

I have more to share later this week so make sure to check back!


Cottage: Well…shoot

Earlier this week I mentioned I wouldn’t be posting again until next week (which I didn’t plan on)…but since then we received some less than ideal news…we will have to put in a new well at our cottage.  There have been some issues with the running water over the last few months that got progressively worse. We were hoping for the best, that it would be an easy fix, but alas that’s not the case.  There are some potential temporary workarounds that will buy us a little time until we get it figured out.

I’m sharing this because unexpected expenses and setbacks are part of the game when it comes to remodels & renovations, and they can happen at any point.  As discouraging as it can be, you have to learn to roll with the punches…not something that comes naturally to but I’m working on it.

This doesn’t take away from our excitement, or our satisfaction in the amazing progress that has been made.  We’ll be heading North early tomorrow morning and will be able to discuss a game plan over the weekend.   Onward!






Cottage: We Miss You

Quick post today…It has been nearly 3 months since we’ve been back to our little cottage (insert sad face here) We miss it, along with everything that comes with it…seeing family & friends in MI, the progress, the relaxation that comes with being near the lake.  BUT…we’ll be heading back at the end of this week for short weekend trip.  If you remember from this post we reached the milestone of sleeping there for the first time and haven’t been back since.

We hope to make some progress on our punch list while we are there, along with decorating and organizing.  Our main goal this trip will be to get the cottage ready to use and enjoy for the summer.  I honestly can’t convey how exciting it is to be at this point.

Since we’ll be traveling, this will be my only post for this week.  I promise I’ll catch you up on our progress when we get back.

In the meantime, you can check out my IG (@by.the.poole) for some sneak peeks over the weekend. Also, you can catch up on our progress under “the cottage” menu tab.

I wish you all a Happy Easter!




Auction Anyone?

What are you doing this weekend? Looking for something different?  If you’ve never been to an auction there is no time like the present.

Mark and I started to going auctions a few years ago and became enamoured with the whole experience.  We have found unique and special items, we have flipped a few things to make a profit, and had a lot of fun doing so.  Some of our most favorite pieces in our house (like these copper kettles) are from auctions.

We have learned a few things along the way… 

First, come prepared.  Auctions are often several hours long and the one thing you might have your eye on may take a while to get to which means you need to be comfortable.  You will need to know what payment methods are accepted and have the means to transport your purchases.  Next, know your limit.  It is easy to get carried away with the excitement and get carried away during bidding.  We have made the mistake of paying more than we wanted (or should have) because we got wrapped up in the moment…its an adrenaline rush!  Last, don’t get discouraged.  You will get outbid.  I have found myself immediately attached to an item I felt like I “had to have” and the bidding ended up going far beyond our limit…it wasn’t meant to be.

The most important thing is that we truly enjoy going to auctions, regardless of what we may or may not come home with.

Ready to check one out? A great resource (that we use regularly) to find local auctions  is Auction Zip. You can type in your zip code/range/date/etc and it will show a list of area auctions with location, time, and even photo previews of what will be offered.  We typically stick to estate or antique auctions.

If you are an auction frequenter, or end up going for your first time, I would LOVE for you to share your favorite buys!






Spring Cleaning Part 2: Out

Well today is officially the first day of Spring!…now we just need Mother Nature to play along so it actually feels like it.

In Part 1 I shared my Spring cleaning to-do list.  In the spirit of full transparency, I will admit is nowhere near done yet.  Mark and I still need to pick a day to really knock it out; but I’m telling myself I have plenty of time.

Now that the weather SHOULD be nicer soon, it is almost time to move things outside…

  1. Treat lawn 

    We keep it simple with a combo of fertilizer & weed preventer applied once in the Spring & again in the fall.  Our neighbor has an immaculate lawn and there is no use trying to compete with him.   As long as I don’t have a yard covered in dandelions I’m happy.

  2. Spruce up flower beds

    Pull weeds, prune bushes, apply Preen (weed preventer) add fresh mulch and possibly a few new flowers. It amazes me each year how much of a difference this makes.

  3. Prep patio

    Clean off furniture, pull out cushions from storage, clean grill, refill propane tanks, new potted plants, and see what cute new decorations I may come across.

  4. Clean exterior  

    Spray with house wash & clean out dryer vent…not the most glamorous tasks but necessary.  I’ll also keep an eye out for a hanging basket & potted plant for the front porch.

  5. Clean Garage 

    Nothing fancy…Sweep, organize, sort out items to donate, store seasonal items.


Anything on your Spring Cleaning to-do list  that I missed?

Did you already get a head start?







Decorating For All

If you share your home with another person or people, chances are good you may need to take them into consideration when it comes to decorating.  Perhaps you could cover your entire house top to bottom in ultra feminine pastel florals and your husband wouldn’t care in the slightest…then I stand corrected in your case.  Whether you live with your spouse, partner, friend, children or otherwise, I believe it is important for everyone to feel comfortable in their home.

Over the years we have been together, Mark has taken more of an interest in our home decor and appearance.  I enjoy his input and he has good taste…I’m going to take partial credit for that. As much as this pains me to say, there have even been a few occasions in which I disagreed with Mark’s design choice but ended up happier with the result he chose.  Even if we aren’t selecting something together, I still try to consider his preferences and point of view in addition to what I like.  Because of this, we have reached a balance of masculine & feminine details in our home that represents us both.

How can you accomplish this? Here are 3 things I try to consider…

1.Compromise with Color

Example: Blush & weathered blue; Muted tones can be easier to blend and neutrals are always a safe bet.

2.Mix Materials

Example: Leather or burlap & lace; Blending different textures such as these keeps from going in a direction that is either too hard or too soft

3.Play with Patterns

Example: Paisley with plaid; Focus on coordinating or complimentary colors so you don’t have to worry about looking too random

And if those don’t help, you can always…

4: Assign Spaces

Example: Man cave or a she shed; This is more extreme and requires the living space to accommodate, but I know plenty of people who have made this work.  You do you!








Mission: Gallery Wall

Looking to make a statement? A gallery wall can be the perfect way to do so (and avoid the hassle of painting an accent wall).  Gallery walls can beautifully showcase collections of favorite family photos, artwork, objects and whatever else your heart may desire.

There is a particular wall we have in mind to turn into a gallery wall.  We have collected a few items so far we want to include; but I know we will need some direction putting it all together so I started searching for some inspiration…

First, I found all of  these great examples on
Next, all of these beautiful gallery wall photos from

There are endless possibilities when it comes to elements and combinations to create a gallery wall.  Now it is time to get to work on ours!

Which is your favorite? Do you have a gallery wall in your home? I’d love to see it!



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