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Container Gardening  {A Pretty Life}2

Tips to get your container garden ready for planting!

This spring I am working with Lowe’s Canada to share some ideas and tips for container gardening, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I absolutely love gardening!

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Spring here in Calgary has come very early!  In fact I saw on Facebook that 2 years ago at this time we were under a foot of snow!  Crazy.  But not this year.  This year we have already had over 10 days of 20+ degree weather, so I have the gardening bug really bad.  It’s hard not to when some years we only have just over 2 months to enjoy our garden in full bloom.  It’s still possible that we could get a spring snow storm, but for now I’m going to enjoy this early arrival of summer (and have blankets ready on hand!).

Container Gardening

Last week with my kids in tow, we headed out to Lowe’s to start our garden shopping.  I was amazed at how full the centre was already for the month of April.  From now until June truckloads and truckloads of plants will arrive every week…it’s a gardeners dream!  On my first trip I wanted to keep things fairly simple and mostly just purchase items that I needed to get my garden ready for planting.  This year I’ve scaled down my garden significantly, removing planter boxes and perennials, and instead I will be focussing all of my gardening efforts on containers.  We have a large deck off the back of our home which is a perfect sunny space for many many containers of flowers.

Container Gardenting at Lowes 2

While I was at Lowe’s I spoke with the garden centre manager Hazel, who is also a horticulturalist, and she was a tremendous help!  I had so many questions about pots, fertilizers, flower arrangements…and she was able to answer everything.  I’m heading into this garden season ready to have my best garden yet.

Container Gardening {A Pretty Life}

Before I started my planting I took inventory of the supplies I had at home, and surprisingly I was in need of quite a few things.  It was time for new pots, clean soil, new hoses and tools, all of which I was able to get at Lowe’s.  This is my list of my container garden must haves.

Container Garden Must Haves:

  • Flower pots:  These are a personal preference.  I like to use self watering pots and heavy glazed pots that hold water well.
  • Potting soil:  Get a good potting soil that provides optimum aeration, drainage and nutrients.  I’m using Pro-Mix Potting Soil in my containers this year.
  • Compost:  Compost is rich in nutrients.  It increases plant stem strength, promotes vigorous root growth, foliage, and flowering.  I’m using Biomax Sheep Manure Compost mixed in with my soil this year.
  • Garden trowel:  This tool is a must for planting flowers!
  • Garden hose
  • Spray gun hose attachment:  I like the nozzles with the adjustable spray patterns.  This is the one I’m using.
  • Fertilizer: A tip from my Lowe’s expert is to use a fertilizer with a higher 3rd number.  I’m using Plant-Prod 15-15-30 Tomato & Vegetable fertilizer for my flower pots.
  • Gardening gloves:  Keep your hands and manicures soft and clean all gardening season long!  😉
  • Watering can:  I use a watering can to water and fertilize all of my potted plants.

Container Gardening {A Pretty Life}

My Molly trying to get in on all the fun!  I will say gardening with a puppy is a whole new experience…and a wee bit frustrating. 😉

Container Gardening

The flower pots I’m using this year are these square Mayne Self-Watering planters.  I love the idea of even more low maintenance as far as my flowers go.  These planters have a built-in water reservoir that encourages healthy plant growth by allowing plants to practically water themselves, this means that plants stay happy between waterings.

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I also love that they look so nice on my deck!

I’m also using this type of planter for my sweet peas.  I just added this metal trellis for the vines to climb once they become established.

Before it’s time to actually plant, a few things should be done ahead of time.  These are steps like cleaning and preparing pots, mixing soil, planning floral arrangement ideas…all steps towards a beautiful garden.

Getting ready to plant:

  • Have all of your tools ready.  Hoses, watering cans, fertilizer, soil…
  • Clean out your pots.  Remove old plants, and any soil that may have moulds or disease from last season.  You many even need to bleach wash old pots that you think may have disease (like powdery mildew).
  • Fill your pots with new soil and compost if needed.  Mix your potting soil with some compost to help with moisture retention, which means your plant are less likely to dry out between waterings.  The compost also adds a lot of nutrients to the soil.  This year I used a mixture of Pro-Mix Potting Soil and Biomax Sheep Manure Compost.

Container Gardening {A Pretty Life}4

Choosing plants for your container garden:

  • Find out what plants grow well in your region.  I live in an area where our winters are harsh and our summers are short, so buying plants can be tricky!  I try to stick to annuals as much as I can during our spring and summer months, because they’re easy to grow and with little care I can have flowers all spring and summer long!  Having said that…
  • Don’t be afraid to use shrubs and perennials in your container garden!  Yes, we don’t have to limit our flower pots to annuals!  Shrubs and perennials look beautiful in flower pots and make great statement arrangements.  Remember they’re just plants and you can replace them each year!  And if you wish to keep them for next year, just make sure to cover and care for them over the winter.
  • Buy plants that work best for your yard and sun.  Check the labels and make sure you’re planting plants that need full sun in the sun, and shade plants in the shade.
  • Use the rule of 3 (or 5 or 7)!  Keep this rule in mind when you’re planning your containers.  Plants always look best when grouped together in uneven numbers like 3, 5, 7.  One lonely plant has very little impact, but group them together in 3, 5, 7 or more and you will have big impact!
  • Thriller, Filler, Spiller:  Have you heard of this gardening rule?  It’s a great one to keep in mind when shopping for your flower pots.  A thriller plant is your big, bold and beautiful centrepiece flower.  The fillers are plants that compliment the thriller plant, but don’t overwhelm it.  The spiller plant is the plant that spills over the side of the container (like a trailing verbena or bacopa or creeping jenny or lobelia)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the garden centre staff questions!  While I was planning and shopping for my garden at Lowe’s, I worked with the most knowledgable and helpful staff member named Hazel!  Hazel is a horticulturalist so she was a wealth of knowledge, and she helped me tremendously, answering all of my questions from planter options to fertilizer recommendations to plant choices.

Planting Tips:

  • Planting Sweet Peas:  This year I’m growing my sweet peas in a flower pot on my deck.  I used 9 packages of various types of sweet peas in one pot!  I planted a bush variety, and 2 different heights of vine varieties so the planter will have sweet peas growing at all height levels!  And yes, you read that right, I used 9 packages.
  • Mix colours and textures.  Our flower pots need not be boring!  Choose 2 or 3 colours for your pot, and pay attention to the foliage.  Foliage can make a big impact too.
  • Pack those plants in!  When putting together your flower pots, pack those plants in!  Yes, fill the pot with as many plants as you can fit (leaving about an inch between each plant).  That way when your flowers start to grow, your pots will fill in and won’t look empty.  With our short growing season here (2 months, 3 if I’m lucky!), I don’t have the luxury of waiting for my planters to fill in, so I have to fill them in from the beginning.
  • Water the roots, not the flowers and foliage.  When watering your plants, try only to water the soil and not the foliage.  This will help prevent plant disease.
  • Water your plants in the morning.  That way they have time to absorb the water throughout the day and in the hot sun.
  • Fertilize your plants once a week.  For beautiful and full flowers you need to fertilize once a week!  Choose a day and stick to it…I fertilize on Mondays!
  • Succulent Tip!  Succulents do not need a lot of water, in fact they like fairly dry soil, so be careful not to overwater them.

Container Gardening {A Pretty Life}

Now my pots are all planted, and all I have to do is wait for everything to fill in and grow.  I’m looking forward to sharing updates of my garden as it grows!

Container Gardening

Happy Planting!

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Disclosure:  I am working with and am compensated by Lowe’s Canada, to bring you tips for container gardening!  But as always, all thoughts, ideas, opinions and such are my own.  I just really love gardening and am thrilled to be able to share ideas and tips with you!

Green and White Easter Table  {A Pretty Life}2

An Easter Table Setting in Green and White

Setting a beautiful table for Easter doesn’t have to be complicated!  Here’s a simple Green & White table setting idea!

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With Easter just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about your brunch and dinner table!  I like to have a pretty and festive table at all of the holidays, but I need it to be simple.  When you’re busy cooking and baking, sometimes the last thing you want to do is set the table, let alone decorate it.  But I like a decorated table, so I’ve just learned to keep things as simple as possible.  That means shopping around my own home for decorations.

Remember, making things pretty does not need to be complicated!  So I wanted to share some ideas with you, just so you can see how easy it is to put together a festive Easter table.  Last week I shared a Robin’s Egg Blue Table Setting, and a Pink & Yellow Table Setting, and today I wanted to share a simple and springy Green & White Table Setting.

Green and White Easter Table {A Pretty Life}

I bought these cute little white cardboard strawberry baskets at Michaels for less than $4, and to go with them I bought some green paper basket filler.  And because I had some of these fuzzy chicks in my home stash already I decided to use them, but if you have other trinkets or Easter candy use those!

Green and White Easter Table {A Pretty Life}2

Really, what I’m learning is any little extra attention you give to your table, is enough.  The simplest things are noticed and appreciated…while it would be nice to have an elaborate table, it’s just not always feasible or affordable.

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Get creative and have fun with it!

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For more Easter table ideas, click on the images below!

A Robin’s Egg Blue Table

Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}

Pink & Yellow Easter Table

Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}

Easter Bunny Basket Table Setting

Easter Table Setting

Also to go with your table setting, here are some delicious Easter dinner ideas…just click on the titles for the recipes.

Easter Menu {A Pretty Life}

Whisk

Baked Ham

Devilled Eggs

Broccoli Salad with Mandarins, Red Onion & Bacon

Dill Scalloped Potatoes

Parsnip Puree

Glazed Carrots

Roasted Asparagus

Seven Layer Salad

Peanut Butter Confetti Cake

Strawberry Shortcakes

Carrot Cake

Have an inspired and delicious day!  Happy Easter!

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Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting  {A Pretty Life}

An Easter Table Setting in Robin’s Egg Blue

Setting a beautiful table for Easter doesn’t have to be complicated!  Here is an idea for a pretty Robin’s Egg Blue Easter table!

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I’m getting so excited for Easter now that it’s March and the timing feels right to do some planning!  This year we’re having Easter at home, so I am dreaming up ways to decorate our dinner and brunch table.  Last week I showed you an idea for a Pink & Yellow Easter Table, and today I’m sharing an idea for a Robin’s Egg Blue Easter Table.

Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}

I think this is my favourite Easter table colour scheme…I just love love the colour of Robin’s Egg Blue.  Not only that but Robin eggs are the quintessential sign of spring…I remember checking birds nests on the big gas tanks on my Grandparent’s farm with my Grandpa when we’d visit in the spring.  It was always so amazing to see the teeny tiny Robin eggs…these are such good memories for me, and because of these moments I have a fondness for Robin eggs.  I mean how can you not love a Robin egg?  The colour, the speckles…so pretty.

Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}2

This is the easiest table setting to make.  I bought a set of cardboard strawberry baskets in white from Michaels, and filled them up with the decorative Robin eggs, then I added a simple white & grey birch ribbon.  I love how the egg place setting matches so nicely with our dining table chairs, and the new napkins I found at Chapters.  So simple and pretty.

Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}3

The whole point of me sharing these table setting ideas is to show you how easy it is to set a beautiful Easter table.  We don’t need to complicate things with elaborate settings.  I know I often feel like I have to go big or go home, then I get overwhelmed at the thought and end up doing nothing, so instead I decided to embrace the simple.  You can shop your own Easter decor stash for ideas, or buy inexpensive embellishments from your local craft store.  It doesn’t take a lot to make a pretty table come together.

Robin's Egg Blue Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}4

Just have fun and enjoy putting together your table, because if you like what you are doing it shows!

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I can’t send you away without sharing some food ideas with you!  So to go with this table setting, here are some delicious Easter dinner ideas…just click on the titles for the recipes.

Easter Menu {A Pretty Life}

Baked Ham  //  Devilled Eggs  //  Broccoli Salad with Mandarins, Red Onion & Bacon  //  Dill Scalloped Potatoes  //  Parsnip Puree  //  Glazed Carrots  //  Roasted Asparagus  //  Seven Layer Salad  //  Peanut Butter Confetti Cake  //  Strawberry Shortcakes  //  Carrot Cake

Have an inspired day!

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Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting  {A Pretty Life}2

An Easter Table Setting in Pink and Yellow

Setting a beautiful table for Easter doesn’t have to be complicated!  Here is a simple and cheery pink & yellow table to get you inspired!

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I really love Easter.  Everything about it feels fresh and springy which is such a relief this time of year as winter hangs around.  Mind you we’ve been really lucky this year, and it’s felt more like spring than winter which is so nice.  The sunshine and warm wind has inspired me to break out the spring and Easter decor, and it’s got me thinking about Easter weekend.

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We’re staying home for Easter this year, which I’m really looking forward to.  Even though it will be just the 5 of us for dinner, I still like to serve up a full delicious Easter menu, and set a festive table.  Holidays are the perfect time and excuse to turn up the notch on decor and serve up all.  the.  delicious.  food.

Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}2

I’ve been dreaming up ideas for our table, and playing with different colours and textures, so over the next couple of days I’m going to share them with you!  Today I’m starting off with soft and pretty table decor, using traditional Easter pastel colours like yellow and pink.

Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}3

While I was sifting through all of my Easter decor, I thought these pink and yellow speckled eggs would look so pretty on an Easter table.  Paired with in-season citrus fruit in the same colours, I made this simple centrepiece.  I know it’s not fancy or overly complicated, but that’s exactly why I love it.  I just don’t have the time or energy or budget to create a complicated Easter table, so I am determined to keep it simple and inexpensive, but beautiful.  Yes, it’s possible.

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To complete the table, set out some spring tulips in mason jar vases.  Every table needs fresh flowers…so pretty!

Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}8

I also thought it would be nice to give everyone a pretty little gift at each of their table settings.  I found these cute little polka dot envelopes at Michaels and filled them up with chocolate easter eggs (my favourite are the Eggies), then I added a little kraft paper doily and tied them up with yellow bakers twine.  I like how they came together.  And if you wanted to personalize each gift, you could write your guests name on them.

Pink and Yellow Easter Table Setting {A Pretty Life}4

See, we don’t have to complicate things and stress over setting the perfect table!  The prettiest Easter table is possible with just a few simple decorations!  Now to go with this table setting, here are some delicious Easter dinner ideas…just click on the titles for the recipes.

Whisk

Easter Menu  {A Pretty Life}

Baked Ham  //  Devilled Eggs  //  Broccoli Salad with Mandarins, Red Onion & Bacon  //  Dill Scalloped Potatoes  //  Parsnip Puree  //  Glazed Carrots  //  Roasted Asparagus  //  Seven Layer Salad  //  Peanut Butter Confetti Cake  //  Strawberry Shortcakes  //  Carrot Cake

Have an inspired and delicious day!

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Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies  {A Pretty Life}1

Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies

These Chocolate Chip Cookies are soft and chewy, and decorated with red & pink smarties, they’re perfect for Valentines Day! xo

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It’s February!  How is it already February?  At the speed that time currently seems to be flying, I’m hoping that the next thing I know it will be summer.  Because right about now I tire of winter.  We have very very very long winters here in Alberta, and while I enjoy the first few months of this season, I eventually get tired of the grey and cold and ice and chinook headaches.  But at the same time I get inspired to make and bake things this time of year because there’s really not much else to do, and I don’t do well with idle hands.  So I guess it’s kind of a catch isn’t it?

And now with it being February we’re looking ahead to Valentines Day!  I actually really appreciate the timing of Valentines Day this time of year, because the colours and fun of this day are a nice break from all the dreary of winter.  While we don’t do a lot to mark the day, it is nice to decorate the mantel with some colour, hang a wreath, and maybe have a simple fondue with the kids.  I also like to bake with a little theme in mind.  If you’ve been reading along here long enough you know that I like to bake cookies for pretty much each occasion, and Valentines Day is no different!  This year I decided to make these Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies {A Pretty Life}a

These cookies are pretty and fun for love day but really they’re great any time of year.  You can play with the colours of the smarties and make them green for St. Patricks Day, or red and green for Christmas, or pastels for Easter…or if you’re like me, you can just pick the smarties off.  Yes, I pick off the smarties.  I don’t like the crunch of them on my cookies, but I add them because smarties make my kids happy.

Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies {A Pretty Life}1

Anyway these cookies are a little different than regular chocolate chip cookies, in that they also contain ground oats and an extra egg yolk which makes them super soft and chewy.  My favourite kinds of cookies are the chewy kind!

Whisk

Yields 36

Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups old fashioned oats, ground in a food processor
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup red and pink smarties

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixer cream together the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the egg, extra yolk, milk and vanilla then mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the flour mix to the butter mix and combine.
  6. Add the ground oats and chocolate chips and mix well.
  7. Bake for 9-10 minutes.
  8. When the cookies have finished baking, let them rest for a minute or 2, then add the smarties to the tops of the cookies. Adding the smarties this way ensures that they don't crack from the heat of baking.
http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/valentines-day-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

Valentines Day Chocolate Chip Cookies {A Pretty Life}2

So pretty and delicious…my favourite.

Have a delicious day!
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