Natural Aphid Control

Perhaps you don’t have an aphid issue, but we do.  On several of the fruit trees.  And bugs creep me out.  Masses of bugs creep me out even more.  I’ll spare you the pictures, but if you want to be sufficiently grossed out, Google ‘aphids on leaves’ to get an idea of what we were dealing with.

After a little searching for a natural, home-made spray, we found something that works.

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 teaspoons dish soap

Mix everything together and spray on the affected tree or plant every few days until you’re aphid free.

Basically, the oil in the mix suffocates the aphids.  Apparently, aphids don’t go back to the same tree once they’ve left.

Another option is a garlic oil spray:

3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 pint of water

1 teaspoon liquid dish soap

To make, combine the garlic cloves and vegetable oil.  Let this mixture sit for 24 hours.  After, strain out the garlic pieces.  Then, add the liquid to one pint of water and dish soap.  This is a concentrated batch, so dilute two tablespoons of garlic oil with another pint of water before spraying on your tree.  Test this out in a small area before going crazy, though.  If the leaves turn yellow, dilute the mixture with more water until you’ve determined it is safe for your plant.

You should know that these mixtures can harm helpful bugs, too.  Fortunately, the lady bugs have arrived to do some work and our aphid problem isn’t as bad.

Green Equals Green: Fruit Trees

I know I’ve mentioned that Ben is a total freak about trees.  He has planted a total of 22 fruit trees in the 5 years we’ve been married.  Crazy, right?  Especially considering we have a 1/4 acre lot.

Seventeen fruit trees are alive right now.  So far, we have 5 apple, 8 cherry, 2 plum, and 2 pear trees, most of which have produced fruit.  Look!  A baby pear!

Actually, the apple trees have done the best, but that’s not surprising considering the climate.  Most of the apples are best for baking, but Ben makes a mean apple crisp.  Is it fall yet?

I am most excited about our cherry trees, though.

Obviously, planting trees is an earth friendly decision.  Yes, the trees require watering, but our soil is pretty sandy with a high water table, so we’ve never had water issues.

We get fruit, so we spend less money on fresh produce.  And, our fruit doesn’t have chemicals or pesticides.  A few days ago, we picked several cherry trees and man, were they delicious.  I can’t wait for more.

Recently, Stephanie, the creative mind behind the Living Room Floor shop, contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing a beauty product from the Good Fortune shop.

After checking out the site, I decided to give it a try.  Why?  Because Good Fortune uses only all natural ingredients to make soaps, lotions, candles, sprays and other beauty supplies.  And, I love their story and eco-conscious business practices.  The commitment to use natural ingredients and recycle packaging while maintaining quality is amazing.  “Good Fortune is an environmentally friendly company. We use recyclable and reusable paper, aluminum, and plastic in our packaging. Even the smallest steps to taking care of the environment make a big difference. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste generated, we also recycle shipping boxes and cushioning materials.”   How could I say no?  Three days after talking to Stephanie, I received a Kiss Me Kit and I couldn’t wait to try it.

I scrubbed my lips with the brown sugar scrub and licked it off.  I didn’t know if it would actually taste good, but, it was delicious.  Perhaps it’s the sugar.  The scrub was very moisturizing, but I followed it up with the chocolate peppermint lip balm, which was also quite tasty.  And moisturizing.

The only thing that could make this better is a giveaway, right?  Now it’s your turn to try a great, eco friendly product.

The Goods: One Kiss Me Kit, valued at $20.00

To Enter: Subscribe to follow Our Humble A{Bowe}d, if you’re not already.  To subscribe, click the “Sign Me Up!” button under “Be the first to know.”  Once you’ve subscribed, leave a comment, which can (but doesn’t have to) include our Just for Fun question.

Just for Fun: Which celeb would you most want to pucker up to?

For additional entries:

1.  Add Good Fortune Soaps on Facebook, come back and leave a comment telling us what your favorite item is.

Contest Closes: Wednesday, July 20th at 11:59 pm, central time.

Number of Winners: One!

Ships: Anywhere in the U.S.

Other Info: We will select the winner using and announce on Thursday, July 21st.  Good luck!!

Growing Garden

Oops, we teased you again by sharing our gardens from the past.  Before we share our garden, we have to thank our fantastic guests for sharing their gardens.  We hope you enjoyed peeking in the gardens of Ashley at Design Build Love, Cait at Hernando House, Jen and IHeart Organizing, and Kim at Yellow Brick Home while we were on an in-state mini vacation.  We’ll share more details this week.

When we were away, we forgot to thank Jen for continuing to sponsor this blog of ours!  Jen has a fantastic Etsy shop with goodies to make your home and life more organized.  And, her blog is chock full of brilliant ideas to make the most of your space, large or small.  I’m completely in love and awe with her boys’ newly refinished room.

So many smart, space-saving, usable ideas in one small space.

Now, on to the main event.  Our garden, as it stands in 2011.  Our front rose bed, not to be confused with Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi, the best hair band of all time, has had a slow start thanks to abnormally low temps.  Finally though, we’re getting blooms.  I mentioned that a few of the bushes died over the winter, and the small center rose-bush has gotten a few leaves, but no growth.  Boo.

However, the boxwood have grown like weeds filled in.  Now, if they could get taller, too, I’d be thrilled.  Actually, I probably wouldn’t notice until I looked back at pictures.  That’s how I realized they grew since 2007.  Growth is tricky like that, so slow until it hits you in the face.  Sometimes, I think the same thing about my kids; they don’t seem bigger until I look back to see how small they were.

The shady north side is kicking butt, too.  The lily of the valley is going strong as are the bleeding hearts we planted two years ago.

Apparently, before I met Ben, the north side was filled with hostas.  He didn’t like the hostas, so he gave them to our neighbor.  Well, two years ago, hostas popped up for the first time.  I guess he didn’t get all of the roots and they were able to grow.  Now we have hostas, and I’m a happy camper.

Our fence is another story.  Last summer, we used an opaque wood stain to finish our wooden fence.  We didn’t get this small section of fence because we needed to build a gate.  As you can see, we still haven’t done that, either.  In fact, that’s part of an old closet door.  Redneck much?

But, the peonies on the left are my proudest gardening area.  In addition to lily of the valley, I also received a few peony plants from my great grand mother’s garden.  Last year was the first time we had blooms, five total.  This year, we had nine flowers in white and pink.

I almost prefer the white because the petals are more full.

But, the pink add a splash of color.

But, I’m totally jealous of our neighbor’s saturated fuchsia/purple peonies.  Is it wrong to knock on their door to ask to take just one plant?  Ha.

And, we’re finally getting cherries on our trees!

In August of 2006, we took a trip to Glacier National Park.  We kayaked on Lake McDonald.

And hiked to Hidden Lake.  It is beautiful.

We stopped at Flathead Lake.  Another lake surrounded by mountains.  I’m a sucker, what can I say?

If you’re ever in Montana, Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks are a must, but you shouldn’t miss Flathead Lake or Ross Cedar Forest, filled with giant cedar trees.  Kind of like Muir Woods, but in Montana, with cedars rather than redwoods.

Where am I going with this?  When we visited in August, Flathead cherries were in season.  Fortunately for us, Seattle got their cherry crop to grocery stores first, so fresh cherries were cheap.  We stopped at a little family owned orchard and picked about 8 pounds of cherries, eating some right off the trees.

Before this trip, I wasn’t a huge fan of cherries.  After, I couldn’t get enough of that sweet fruit.  When Ben said he wanted to plant fruit trees, I insisted on several cherry trees.  Now, we have our own cherries and we’re thrilled.  We just have to eat them before the birds can.

Tangent aside, that is how our garden has grown.  Sure it doesn’t look like Martha Stewart’s garden, but we also don’t have a full-time landscaping crew to maintain the grounds.  Simple is the name of the game around the Bowe household.  Have you looked backed at photos to be surprised at how much your garden (or kids)have grown?  Any unplanted plants popping up after several dormant years?  Are you particularly proud of a certain plant you’ve grown?

How Does Our Garden Grow?

We’re kicking off the first annual garden party week, starting with our humble garden.  The catch?  Before you’ll see our current garden, you’ll have to endure the past five years.  Be prepared, it wasn’t always pretty.  And it could still use some work.  Ha.

In the spring of 2006, our front yard was so bare.  One pine shrub, one dead something and large rocks.  That’s about it.  Yes, rocks are the manly version of landscaping.

In the fall of 2006, we planted tulips and allium.  Spring of 2007 rolled around and we had bulbs galore, along with a few other perennials.  And a lot of dirt.  Oh, and a dresser waiting to make its way inside.  And untrimmed windows, installed the year before.  We really are classy.  Ha.

Honestly, I have a black thumb, so even this was a huge accomplishment.  But, I almost forgot just how ugly this actually was.  The dirt really bugged me the most.  Especially because the other side had boxwood, my favorite evergreen, surrounded by washed river rock.  And, if you look closely at the far right corner, you’ll notice a small topiary tree.

By the end of the season, it died.  Too little sun under the giant maple trees.  The small three trees (the two on the left were peach trees and the right was a weeping cherry) in the foreground followed a year later.  Fruit trees are Ben’s kryptonite.  Seriously, he is a sucker for any fruit tree.  I’d like to say I was sad to watch them go, but I wasn’t.  I don’t want our front yard to look like a mini orchard.

While the front yard was getting attention, the north side was not.  Shade areas were tricky to me, so all we had were two lily of the valley I had transplanted from my great grandma’s garden back in Minnesota.

Notice the chain link fence, too?  That has changed since, too.

In the summer of 2008, we let the perennials die ripped out the front garden to plant several rose bushes and covered the dirt with more washed river rock.  Sadly, I don’t many photos of this.

Apparently, I was too busy trying to raise that cute little boy.  We built the window boxes and shutters that same year.  No photos of the boxes then, either.  However, in 2010, here is the green and purple color scheme we had.

The boxwood have ha their ups and downs.  This year, they’re looking better than ever.

My favorite rose-bush had flowers that started off an orange-peach color and turned pink as they aged.

Sadly, this past winter killed the plant.  Odd, considering I’ve had really good luck with the roses.  But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  We planted three new pink rose bushes this year.

How has your garden grown?  Have you ever planted something only to realize you don’t like how it looks a year or so down the road?  Or have it die from some unknown (or known) cause?  Other than normal growth, does your garden change often?

Pillow Review

Recently, The Furniture Domain asked me if I would be willing to review a pillow.  I love pillows, so I said yes.  I chose a 16 inch square modern leaf pattern with a mix of tan, blue, green and black.

The colors coördinate wonderfully with our living room.  Pass a few weeks and a box arrived at my door.  I ripped that sucker open like it was Christmas morning.  The pillow inside was beautiful and the texture is fun.  The black is a velvet-like material.


Actually, I was standing outside when I opened the box, and I immediately put it on the newly refinished bench to relax and enjoy.

Coincidentally, the colors are perfect for the porch, so there it shall stay until the cooler weather sets in.

During my relaxation, I realized two things.  One, my roses are blooming.

And two, Everett has a really cute shadow.  And chubby little legs.  And feet.

In addition to pretty pillows, The Furniture Domain also has a great selection of furniture for the bedroom, living room, and dining room.  And, their customer service rocked, too.  That’s a kicker for me.

P.S.  We were not compensated for this post, but the pillow was free in exchange for a review.  All opinions are 100% mine.