Finding rusty old junk is fun! Nevertheless, I have found that no matter how much "stuff" I find and collect, only God can fully satisfy my heart. Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Top 10 Summer Garden and Junk Favorites!

Hello to all my beloved blogging friends! Once again I must take the time to explain my long absence from blogging. Unfortunately I have continued to struggle with my health since my last post in the spring. As more and more debilitating symptoms develop I am finding it harder to manage daily activities or to find the time or energy to put into creating posts. I have missed blogging so much and I can only hope to find a respite from all that I have been going through so that I can get back into some sort of rhythm with not only blogging, but life itself. In March I was diagnosed with late stage neurological Lyme disease on top of having Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, and some days I cannot even tolerate looking at a computer.

I am pleased to say that I have found a fantastic doctor who is working to help me improve my quality of life since there are no real cures for the numerous problems I am dealing with, and through his help I have been able to get back to some of my daily activities, including occasional junking, decorating, and messing with my antiques booth. Usually after attempting to do anything "extra" I am wiped out for days and as a result, blogging had to be put on the back burner. I am so happy that I feel well enough to do a post this evening at least. I want to get "caught up," so I have decided to do a simple "Top 10" of summer to get back into the swing of things. Despite feeling poorly, junking, gardening and decorating can always make me feel a little better. Here are some of the things that have gotten me through the last few months...

1. Garden Magic
My garden has provided much needed emotional and pain therapy this summer. I am not able to really do much major landscaping like I used to, but luckily most of my garden is established enough that I only had to do some minor weeding and sprucing of pots and planters earlier this summer to get it looking nice.

 My favorite part of having a mostly shaded property is that there is an overall magical feeling (especially in autumn---can't wait!) and it is easy to create little whimsical displays.

My favorite little fairy statue rests in lush tufts of Scotch moss in a forest of Shamrocks. Very magical indeed!
                                                I'm crazy about caladiums in the shade garden!

This summer I discovered the most gorgeous variety of dark purple, (almost black) petunias. I planted them in several places throughout the garden. I love how the dark color fits into my magical planting scheme with ferns, hostas, ivy, and several varieties of moss and shamrocks.

3. Garden Junk
After five years of devoting all of our time to renovating the inside of our house and front yard landscaping, my husband spoiled me by creating the backyard garden of my dreams based on plans that I had drawn. Because it is a new space and will take a while for plants to fill in and mature, this year was the perfect time to finally use some of the vintage junk that I'd been hoarding outside for a couple of years. Our backyard previously did look like a real junk yard, (it was getting embarrassing) and something had to be done! It was time to either use it or get rid of it (um, no...) so in the new garden area it went. The junk really provides interest and fills in the bare spots nicely!

Vintage junk + gardening = Bliss!

I hope to do a full post in the fall of the entire project but for now, here are a few ways I incorporated rusty, chippy junk-goodness into the garden.
Good old junk like a rusty garden chair, a chippy bird bath planter, and a little cherub holding an old coffee can full of annuals provide visual interest while waiting on the lavender to spread and the roses to bloom. 
Just as I do inside, I often tweak my outdoor vignettes. Here the old coffee can from the previous picture became part of a  group of vintage containers filled with annuals on the patio table.
Old trucks, a rusty table ($1 yard sale), a vintage sand bucket and old water garden fixtures were fun to "plant" in the new garden area.

As we gardeners always say, "There's never enough thyme in the garden!" I love all varieties of thyme, but lemon thyme is my absolute favorite. I filled an old toy wagon full and have enjoyed the fragrance all summer long.

4. Shabby French Garden

One of my favorite areas is the front stoop leading to our porch. I have tucked several planters and pots tightly together against a backdrop of English ivy, ferns and azaleas. Instead of using bright summer annuals, I like to use cool colors such as blue gray succulents, dark purple petunias and basil varieties, silvery lavender and trailing licorice plants. My "pop" of color is the lovely bright pink miniature rose bush that I received as a Mother's Day gift this year. When I designed this area I had the transition to fall in mind. The purples and grays are really stunning with pumpkins of all hues and most of the plants will last until frost.

I found this sweet little French garden stake on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The Fleur De Lis tile in the background was a yard sale find from several years ago. I placed it in a primitive tool caddy that I chalk-painted a pale tone, inspired by the trailing icicle plant and surrounding Japenese ferns. The area has a little French country feel that I love.

5. Pretty Peonies
Lovely, classic and fragrant, peonies signal the start of a beautiful summer. Mine were gorgeous this year!
                                                  So pretty in an old ironstone creamer...
                                                 and oh so vintage in a blue mason jar...

6. Old -Fashioned Fourth of July Fun!
The Fourth of July just lends itself to vintage décor and party themes. It's easy to decorate when you already have a lot of vintage junk. I simply added some Americana accents to the displays on top of my fridge and kitchen cabinets. The primitive/vintage looking Uncle Sam was one of my favorite finds of the summer, along with the old metal bicycle basket and gumball machine.

Even though I am no longer able to have dairy products (or many other delicious staples of traditional summer cook-outs due to extensive food allergies), I wanted to base this year's family get-togethers around ice cream floats. I still enjoy the chance to evoke nostalgia for everyone else while actually getting to use some of the vintage junk I've been hoarding, and nothing says "old-time summer" to me like Coca-Cola junk! I have collected vintage Coke items since I was a teenager, and this was the first summer to use the 1950's cooler I found while junking last fall. I served several kinds of classic soda varieties in glass bottles and they stayed icy cold in the cooler. I "used" my vintage ice cream maker by simply setting a plastic tub of ice cream down inside it. The floats were a big hit!

7. "Deck-orating"

This year was the first year for our new deck. We finished it in late fall last year and didn't get much of a chance to use it so it was fun decorating a new area. In keeping with the vintage summer-picnic theme, I took some junk out of the kitchen and used it on the deck. I found the old washtubs at an antique sale and decided to fill them with ferns for simple, classic beauty. I planted an old enamelware bucket with fragrant mint for use in iced tea and cooking. The chalkboard is one that I had bought back in the late 90's before the chalkboard craze hit. I have always loved chalkboards! I didn't really have a spot for it when we moved to this house, but of course being the hoarder I am, I didn't get rid of it cause I knew I'd find a spot for it someday!

8. Sweet Little Vintage Doll

It just wouldn't be a junky-chic summer without a sweet little $1 vintage doll from the flea market. This one is just gorgeous in her satin dress and fabby-shabby feather head piece. Love, love, love her! She looks perfect in my little Frenchy vignettes. I think she deserves a chance to party over at Timewashed Blissful Whites Wednesday with her gorgeous off-white dress, platinum-blonde hair and feathers!

 9. Mercury Glass Find

I had been wanting to incorporate some mercury glass in my décor for quite some time, so when I found this dish for $2 at an estate sale I snatched it up. For a summer touch I filled it with sand and some favorite shells from vacation. I used a little vintage tin mold as a candle holder in the center. I love how the light shines through the glass. I can't wait to use this in my new bathroom which should be finished by the end of fall.
10. Vintage Barbie TLC Makeover

My latest obsession is searching for vintage Barbies in not-so-good condition  and giving them chic makeovers. I paid $10 for this 1964 beauty at an estate sale. She was suffering from major alopecia but her face still looked great so I couldn't pass her up. I happened to have the titian red wig in my Barbie junk stash and it just matched her perfectly. I took some old Barbie clothes and up-cycled them a bit with some antique black lace that I had bought at another estate sale earlier in the summer. I made her necklace from a strand of broken vintage pearls and she just looks so gorgeous! I had so much fun with this makeover that now I am hooked on finding vintage Barbies in need of TLC just because it's a creative challenge to make them fab again and of course I love to collect them!
As you can see, I still managed to find some things to enjoy over the summer and as always junking and decorating helped me get through some of my worst pain and sickness and  the depression that goes along with chronic illness.
Thanks for stopping by! I WILL be actively blogging during the next couple of months, as fall and Halloween must not be missed! I believe that a little autumn magic is just what I need to help me make it through and to get back into the blogging groove!
Good night dear readers!

Parties! blogspot/bCGJMl (Common Ground)


  1. Your gardens are so pretty, Amber! I love all of your wonderful vignettes, and how you've added so many fun pieces. I'm sorry to hear of your health issues, and hope that you are feeling much better very soon:)

  2. Lovely vignettes in your garden. And Barbie looks great with her makeover :)

  3. Love the old rusty trucks. They're so cute and perfect outside. Stop by my Friday's Five Features and link up this post (and others)!

    1. Thanks for stopping by DIY Vintage Chic’s Friday’s Five Features and Fun Festivities. Don’t forget to stop back by this Friday!

  4. Great looks! Love the old tins!

  5. I am so sorry to hear you do not feel well. I have also become plagued by large amounts of food allergies. I haven't had anyone mention Lupus, but my Mom has the skin lupus. I will feature your post to day at HSH! Thank you for joining HSH!

  6. I'm so sorry to read about your health issues - it must be awful for you - but at least you have that gorgeous garden to escape to when you need to!!!
    I think some of your " junk " are even more beautiful then flowers - just beautiful - all of it!
    Much love,

  7. I'm so sorry to read about your health issues - it must be awful for you - but at least you have that gorgeous garden to escape to when you need to!!!
    I think some of your " junk " are even more beautiful then flowers - just beautiful - all of it!
    Much love,

  8. I love your garden! It is obviously very cared for. That mercury glass was worth waiting for too :)

  9. Lovely garden and so much to enjoy! Thanks for linking to TTF this week.

  10. Amber, I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. I pray that you continue to improve daily! I too love junk in the garden. Well, love it indoors mixed with new too! I adored your 4th of July décor and all of your garden treasures! I think the deck is my fav. I am so happy to have you share with Share Your Cup. I'm sure it's not intentional, but I do not see a link back to the party.
    now following

  11. Hello Amber, Love your garden - the variety of flowers and the beautiful, whimsical garden decor. I am sorry to hear about your health problems and am very glad you've found a good DR. to help you manage these conditions. Especially since it enables you to get back to what you love best - I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday
    I will be featuring your post in this week's party,

  12. I love all your creative ways with vintgae items--all lovely. I think I need an old washtub on our patio after seeing yours! Thanks for many good ideas. I pray that you will feel better and be able to continue to blog. ~Zuni

  13. Hope you get well soon. Your ideas about vintage designs are lovely. Thank you for sharing it with us. Please also check:

  14. you do very nice work--try not to get discouraged


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