This past Sunday, my sweetie and I wandered into a hidden gem: BOOKS & BOOKS... a bookstore specializing in art & architecture books. They only have three locations here in Florida, one in the Cayman Islands, and an online store. This location, in SoBE, is tucked back off the beaten path on Lincoln Road...

In the bookstore, covers play a crucial role.

While I was prepping this post, I saw a tweet: "In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover" (NYTimes post here), and that got me thinking... If books do furnish a room, how could we furnish a room with a Kindle? You can't stack a Kindle. You can't fill shelves with them. You can't use as a riser for your favorite dish or to highlight flowers. You can't cover a table, or make a table from them. You can't even up-cycle an old Kindle into a clock like Danny Seo (HERE) did from a book yesterday on NBC TODAY SHOW.

Goodwill Store Lighting

Even the cases the books come in are recreated into visual wonders...

J Crew Autumn Tree of Books Window 2009

Danny Seo Book Light

I sure do hope the Kindle and Saturday's intro of the iPad don't destroy the book industry like iPod did to vinyl or like outsourcing did to Fashion... I'd so miss disappearing in an aisle on the floor in Barnes & Nobels.... I'd miss sitting with coffee and flipping through magazines at Borders Books... and I'd miss wondering into rooms in Books & Books...

What are ways you use books in your home?


Trying to keep up with curb appeal and a backyard makeover can be challenging on a budget. However, keeping it local, shopping around, and planning can help extend the budget. Not all Home Depot's and Lowe's stores carry all the same plantings. Sizes & assortments can vary from store to store, which also effects pricing. Some local nurseries may have deals on larger plants or sell unique ground cover, but not all are budget friendly. Here are a few ways I've learned to stretch the garden budget:

1. Use the same restyle tricks outside as you use inside: just switch around plantings from front to back, back to front. This is probably why I love container gardening so much. I purchased a new color pallet for the front: fuchsia, purples and greens... and shifted the crisp white and greens (from winter) to the back patio. Now both areas are getting a refreshed look at half the cost of buying all new.

When removing plants from front container to refresh for spring, I relocated these existing plants to empty containers I already had, and can now can bring to back patio for a refreshed look at minimal cost.

Above containers WERE inside our home with bamboo poles... but this year may bring outside with these fab ferns found for only $7 at my local Lowe's.

Liriope at lower right was out back in a container and the rock was buried under leave towards back of this garden. No plant or rock was in this space. Added the two together to give a refreshed and natural look to landscape.

2. Paint is your best friend: Renew faded metal, a rust sprayed facade, front door and chipped container with paint. For the metals: use a wire brush and steel wool to remove excess rested chips. Use a metal friendly primer spray from Rustoleum (automobile primer works great), and spray with new color or renew existing color. Repaint house trim and front door to give a more crisp looking curb appeal. Refresh chipped containers with a fresh coat of stain or paint.

Original container was just in natural terracotta. Added Minwax Wood stain to darken its finish (applied with sponge stick) one year and add contrast to the garden.

Gave a fresh coat of stain, but also added a dry-brush effect with a metallic finish for pot to work better with salt & pepper rocks.

3. Recycle: ground covering rocks don't need to be thrown away when rust or mold attack. Re-purpose rocks in the bottom of containers to help plants with drainage. Also to recycle: dirt from within the containers. When switching out the containers for new plantings, remove existing dirt, but place around plant base of existing plants in ground of your garden. Sprinkle some fertilizer and water well. Your plants will thank you for it.

4. Use decor elements in unexpected ways: Love lanterns? Why not remove its' glass and use as a plant holder? Hang from a shepherd's hook within a garden for interest with a small plant inside, or stair-step display at your front door. Add plants inside lantern during spring & summer, switch out to pumpkins & crows in the fall and add candles or glass container filled with metallic spheres & pine-cones during winter.

5. Buy plants small or medium sized: they last longer and are less expense than buying large already developed plants. Also, some larger foliage plants are sometimes grouped in twos or threes within one container. Split and get two plants for your containers for the price of one... all giving you more bang for your buck.




6. Hold onto your favorite garden magazines as reference and inspiration. I seriously cannot tell the difference from a 2007 cover to a 2010 cover. Gardens don't look dated like interior decor: but they do get weather worn, overgrown and cluttered. They just need a little love and attention to refresh their appeal again.

Although did recently find this magazine with LESS ads and MORE info
But look how similar the cover above is...

And I guess it inspired the pinks and purples for this years spring revival of the front...

Happy Gardening from Florida!!



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