Exterior Flower Box Arrangement - Welcoming the Holiday Season

Jumping from Halloween into Christmas. Where does time go?!

My house colours lend themselves well to those of a traditional Christmas.
Here is a flower box I purchased at my local thrift and vintage store Pass It On a few seasons ago. You can see the before and after transformation here.

Replacing a summer arrangement with a winter one.
Remove all the wilted and dead plants and shrubs from summer, but leave the hearth. Cut a piece of chicken wire about the size of the opening of the box, but add a few more inches all around. Fit it in the box above the hearth so it bellows upwards. Both the hearth and the chicken wire will help support and secure the branches of the winter arrangement.
Fir and yew greenery cut from our trees and shrubs was the foundation of the arrangement.
I added faux frosted berry branches...

 pine cone blooms...
sparkly branches... 
 sparkly cherries and
red peonies.

Many of my accessories are handmade and recycled from previous years, others are found at second-hand stores and redesigned to suit my needs. A few are purchased new at clearance prices.

Add water to keep the greenery fresh; it will freeze as winter gets colder. This will make the arrangement withstand the brutal winds we often get during wintertime.

A welcoming sight for the holiday season.


Miss Havisham's Great Disappointment

A Victorian spirit, returning at night, 
 A ghostly visit, in wedding gown white. 
 Dirty and ripped, a frightening sight. 

 Moaning and crying, floating around, 
 The dining room table, she can always be found, 
 Looking for something, three-tiered and round. 

 Her dark broken heart, has turned to dust. 
 Left at the alter, promises lost. 
 Vengeance on men, she no longer trusts. 

Beware gentlemen, of Miss Havisham. 
 Brian, as well, beware of this femme. 
 In her sick mind, the males are all damned. 

 Set ablaze, her wedding attire, 
 Up in flames, her mansion hellfire, 
 Her ghostly figure, forever bemired.

Hope you had a fun Halloween.

Autumn Colours at the DV

I'm late in posting this subject, but some autumn colours from the DV could cheer up this grey and cold day. The autumn raspberries were big, beautiful and abundant compared to the summer crop. 

Below are some shots of my last blooms to offer their vibrant colours before the cold, wet and frosty days settled on our little town. Appropriate backdrop for Mis Havisham's Halloween apparition.

Handyman Special SOLD - 146 Wellington St North, St Marys, ON


A highly ornate little Folk Victorian (circa 1880) has come up for sale in St Marys, Ontario.
It's located in my neighbourhood, a block away from the nature trail and the spectacular Sarnia bridge. The shot above comes from our town's museum, the St Marys Museum and Archives, and was taken many years ago when it was at it's loveliest. It was originally built to house the custodian of the now demolished St Marys Collegiate/Arthur Meighen School.

St Marys Collegiate, St Marys, ON - photo from St Marys Museum, ON
If you or anybody you know, would be interested in saving this little gem, please read letter below and share my blog post.

Words from Paul King, a dear friend and heritage conservationist.

Hello Everyone, 

For your information, the property at 146 Wellington Street North (next door to the Arthur Meighen Development site) is listed for sale with Re/Max. This is an exclusive listing so it only shows up on the local Re/Max a-b Realty Ltd. site. http://www.stratfordhomes.ca/m-property.php?id=1122002 . Also, there is no real estate sign on the lot. The list price is $224,900.

My concern is the effect on the neighbourhood if the developer of the Arthur Meighen Development Site purchases this property. The house would undoubtedly be demolished and the development site enlarged.

Also, as many of you know, I have an abiding interest in heritage properties. This house dates from the 1880s and, if restored, would again be a gem in our neighbourhood. I caution that the property needs substantial restoration work both inside and out. (There are no interior photos on the real estate listing website for good reason.) If you know someone with handyman skills looking for a project in an excellent neighbourhood, here is an opportunity. Also, with respect to the development of the Arthur Meighen site, as far as I know the Town is still waiting for the developer to come back with a revised plan.

Regards, Paul King

Note the carriage house/garage behind the wooden fence belongs to the property.

Restoration of the DV's Front Steps and Railings

The DV-2013
I return to my blog after a long silence, with a huge project that will most likely take the entire summer to complete. The restoration of our front steps and railing. I was procrastinating knowing it would be a very demanding job, but the last time we gave attention to our front steps was in 2013 and that was on a purely cosmetic level. We no longer can ignore the rot in the scrolled pieces of the railings and the loosening boards of the steps.

The railings were removed to repair and replace the boards of the steps. It also was more comfortable to work under the veranda, rain or shine. Each handrail counted thirteen upright scrolled pieces, totalling twenty-six, but only six were salvageable and stayed in place.

I also removed the decorative molding trims topping our pillars. 
Of course, there's always a ripple effect when we start a project. This area gets so much abuse from the Western exposure. 


Below are some of the scrolled pieces removed, showing extensive rot at the bottom.

Starting with the steps, several boards were simply flipped as the underside looked new. Other boards were unsalvageable so we purchased new ones. The new boards have to cure so they will most likely be painted next spring.

To recut the scrolled pieces, Brian's father gave him his scroll saw. Here he is cutting along the lines I drew for him from a template.

The inner holes were made using the drill and a round saw attachment.

The arrow shape was done with an electric jigsaw. Cutting out a hole beforehand, made it easier.

The scrolled pieces were reinstalled in a slightly different manner. Originally, each piece rested in a 5mm deep channel, top and bottom. The water would infiltrate and collect in the bottom channel. In time, rot would start to appear. I filled in the bottom channel with wood cement epoxy and cut my scrolled pieces slightly shorter. I wanted everything to be super tight so precision was imperative. 
Below is the handrail primed (upside down). 

Below is a close up of the upright scrolled pieces resting on top of the rail, instead of in a channel. Screwed in place from under to avoid water infiltration.

One side was re-installed. 

Top of pillars primed and...


One side done, now for the other. 
At least we can use our front steps again.