In the garden and in the shop

garden tulips bottle branch blog

Despite my best intentions, I seem to be blogging once a month these days. What can I say? I’m just like everyone else: spending more time on social media, less time on blogs. Still, it’s been an exciting month since my last post, so here what’s been going on in my garden, and in my shop.

happy tea card set from bottle branch blog

Bottle Branch Shop: 

I’m trying out a new shop site via pattern by etsy. You can see it here, or if you look at the top of this page, you’ll see a direct link under SHOP. Adding that little link/tab felt like an exciting accomplishment in and of itself, and I have to thank my dear friend Kristen for telling me how.

making gift tags bottle branch blog

I’ve also added some new items to my store: notably pretty tea time cards (see previous post) and foral gift tags. The gift tags have been so much fun to create. You know I love a good project and this one was just right for me – photography, a little bit of computer/printer/photoshop wrangling, combined with cutting and stringing the tags up. Not surprisingly, I’ve got more designs in the pipeline.

larkspur seedlings bottle branch blog

In my garden: 

The most exciting garden decision I made this year was to plant my entire vegetable patch as a flower cutting garden. I started seeds indoors (strawflower, cosmos, gomphrena, zinnias) and outdoors (echinops, stock, larkspur, nigella).  Fingers crossed I get lots of flowers to share this summer and fall!

tulips in the garden bottle branch

While I wait for those, I’m happily enjoying the bulbs I planted last October, inluding T. ‘Christmas Sweet’ and T. “Pink Diamond” (above) and T. Montreux, T. rejoyce, Narcissus “sweet love” in the photo at the start of this post.  I’m already planning what to plant for next year.

Honestly, I’m so excited about all my plans for shop and garden, it was hard for me to take the time to finish this post. I hope your world is similarly abuzz with plans, activities and dreams. Onward and upwards! Happy spring!

A summer screenprint and a giveaway!

Last summer, when my children were squared away in day camp for a few weeks, I decided to teach myself some printing techniques.  I had been admiring beautiful hand-printed tea towels on etsy and felt a persistent itch to try it myself.

I tried out a few different techniques and one of my successful projects was this wild oats print, made by screen print.

To teach myself, I watched what felt like a thousand youtube video tutorials. I wish I could point to one particularly helpful tutorial, but none stood out, though several were helpful. In the end, the clear, step-by-step instructions in the book Print Liberation helped the most.  Plus, the book is edgy enough that it made me feel just a tiny bit hip.

After creating my screen using a photo emulsion technique, I printed on newsprint, I printed on scraps of old sheets and finally, I printed on linen tea towels I had ordered online. None of my prints were perfect but most were satisfying to create.


I printed these wild oats in perky spring green and some in a beautiful fall golden yellow, which some how escaped my camera. I washed, dried, ironed, folded and packed them away to be presents.

Now that Christmas is over, I have officially given them all away… except for one, which I now offer to send to a randomly drawn winner. To enter to win this 100% linen, hand printed tea towel, please leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner next Friday, January 17th. On the off chance that I don’t actually know you in person or Facebook, please make sure you include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you. (It won’t appear online.) I’m pretty sure the competition will be sparse so give it a try! I can tell you from experience it’s a thrill to win a blog giveaway, no matter what the stakes. (Thanks, Kate at book nook!)

I’ll be posting a few more of my summer printing projects soon, though I can’t promise any more giveaways. In the meantime, my wild oats screen rests in the basement, waiting patiently until next summer.

P.S. I had to include this last photo too. In addition to printing, I was experimenting with staging photos a lot last summer. Those were peonies from my garden. I can hardly belive how dreamy they look! I can hardly wait to get back in the garden!

Making the case

final brief cases

When turning seven, my third son wanted a spy party. After we picked a date, compiled the guest list, and sent invitations, we turned our attention to party favors. An older child suggested rear view spy glasses and, ever enthusiastic, my soon-to-be 7 year old continued, “…and a black suit and black loafers and a brief case so we can all look like James Bond!” We nixed the suits and loafers, but decided brief cases, we could make. So here’s what we did.

I bought these self-locking mailing boxes and spray painted them black. That was not my favorite task, so if I had it to do over, I might try to find black boxes. The next day, I glued them together with a hot glue gun.

Then I made some handles with black duct tape, cutting strips and folding them in thirds.

tape handles

Using a sharp knife, I punched a slit for the handle, careful to make it wider than the tab that “locks” the top of the box down. I managed to thread a few handles through on their own but most required the help of a dull knife to push it through. Then I used the glue gun again to glue the handles down. Brief cases done.

making the handle for briefcase

While these types of crafty projects are typically a collaborative effort in my house, this time, I ended up doing most of it. One son was sick and the others went outside to play the late March snow. Leaving me in our kitchen with the hot glue gun, wondering, why, exactly, am I doing this? Am I nutty? This is a kid’s birthday party – they could care less if they get an adorable party favor – all they want is some candy and a few trinkets. But then, again, I just can’t resist a good project.

A few days later, at the birthday boy’s request, we spray-glued a James Bond graphic to the inside. Then we filled them with the spy sunglasses, magnifying glasses, a small notepad and pencil, “top secret” stickers we made from mailing lables and a stamp.

spy brief case party favor

In the end my children declared that a goodie bag could not be complete without candy, so we threw in some twizzlers. Why twizzlers? I have no idea.

Yesterday, we had the spy party and the brief cases were a hit, but I can’t tell you more, because its “top secret” though it might have something to do with those twizzlers.

top secret