The House That Lars Bought: Garden inspiration and first update!

Home renovation update

Before we jump into gardening inspo, I wanted to start off with a little house renovation update. There was one wall in the basement that was…how do we say…naked when we closed. It looked like this.

Every contractor who saw it said that they had never seen anything like it. Frankly, it made me a little nervous hearing things like that.

Earthquake proof and everything proof foundation walls

TURNS OUT! The people who built it got in touch with me on Instagram and have provided a lot of insight. It’s so thrilling. They said that it’s called pollysteel–steel framing with styrofoam. It’s earthquake proof, termite proof, fire proof, and provides better insulation. VERY cool, right? I’m hoping to learn more about the house from them. They’ve already shared a few really touching stories.

I had some drywall experts come on over and they finished it up beautifully.

Ta dah!

Up, that’s the only update. Kind of boring, but I’m all about the baby steps right now.

Landscaping

Ok, now to garden inspiration…The landscaping is mostly super boring town right now. Only lawn but some beautiful sycamore trees. Sycamores remind me of my grandparents home in Los Angeles so I do feel like it’s coming full circle and I’m super stoked about them.

We’ll probably do some different entrance path at some point, again, low on the priority list.

Side yard

And here’s the side yard.

And the other side yard. It’s very slopey so I’ll need your input on what to do here to make it more interesting and garden-y.

Here’s a better view of the side yard . Just grass. And I know a lot of people LOVE grass squares, but honestly, they give me a major case of the snoozies. It’s kind of a swear word to me when someone says “oh, and there’s a big open lawn, you’ll love it”. The amount of flowers you could plant! (dear pun intended).

And how weird is this. Two times I’ve come to the house and the same deer has been in this exact spot munching away. I missed a couple of opportunities on Instastories for this pun and I can’t ruin it again so…it was a major case of deer-ja vu. Hardy har har.

Please diagnosis this tree

Bonus points to whoever can tell me what’s wrong with the side tree. Also, I think I have tryphobia because this picture gives me the chills up and down my spine.

The backyard

The back of the house is long and narrow. There’s a deck coming out from the kitchen with some fir trees. I believe, but need to verify the boundary lines. I was told it’s that telephone post to the right of the shed, which is not ours. I think there’s room to be creative here, but we’ll have to figure out what that is.

Ok, that’s what we have to work with. Now what do we do? This is the fun part…the dreaming! Every phase needs a dream because you need to feel excited about something, right?!

Side yard inspo

Here’s what I’m thinking: put that side green grass square to work by making a more formal symmetrical path with a beautiful gravel and hedges and flowers. These inspiration photos are to illustrate the idea of the paths and types of hedges.

You following?

A place for walking and exploring, beautiful flowers, foot paths, a place to sit and relax. A spot for manicured topiaries contrasted with more wild shrubs.

Front yard

I haven’t flushed out the front yard yet, but I know there’s one thing on the agenda and that’s hydrangeas. There’s ONE type of hyrdangea that grows here in Utah. All the others don’t survive the desert heat. My sister has a neighbor where they are thriving. See?

They only come in that one color and I don’t know the name yet, but they’re so lush. And this house is north facing, as it ours, so I’m feeling like it would be a good plan for the front of the house.

As for the backyard, I don’t have any idea yet…but I’m open to suggestions. Side yard too.

In the mean time, in my mind I’m sitting in the south of France in my side yard and I’m feeling PRETTY good.

Favorite gardeners to follow on Instagram

If you’re needing a big dose of garden inspiration, I ADORE following Danish garden expert, Claus Dalby on Instagram. He’s SO informative and his grounds are out.of.this.world. He gives constant live tours (“livesending” he calls it and he begins every video with “hallo hallo”. I live for it.) We might need to bring a little (a lot!) of Denmark into this project. It’s only right 😉

Also, Monty Don has gotten me through COVID so do yourselves a favor and go watch all of his documentaries ASAP.

Would love your input, especially about sloping side yard and back yard!

Inspiration photos found here, here, here, here, here, here

In the Mood For: Monet inspired Interior Design

First, a special announcement!

I’m writing about Monet for a few reasons – the first you know, the second is kind of a secret…  This summer we are launching an online summer camp to teach kids all about some master artists, including Monet! It will include daily projects (with videos!) to help kids dive deep into new mediums, art styles, and the lives of great artists of myriad colors, genders, and time periods. Stay tuned for more details!!! Sign up for our newsletter here for early access and a huge discount on this course when it is released! Now onto tips for interior design inspired by Monet:

1 – It’s all about lighting. 

Much of Monet’s passion as a painter was driven by a desire to capture light! He would paint the same scene over and over again at different times of day to capture the shadow play and different colors created. Within the walls of your home, you are somewhat limited with regard to natural light. When choosing a place to live, consider how natural light will affect your space! Select fun curtains or shutters (tres French) and outfit the windows accordingly. 

Monet inspired interior design

You may not be able to control the sun, but a lovely invention called electricity does give you the ability to control light! It is amazing how a simple lamp or light shade can transform any space. An old apartment of mine felt dingy and small. The walls were a funny yellowish color that I thought was terrible, but I couldn’t change it! Eventually I got a floor lamp with a bright, white light. Suddenly, I realized the color wasn’t as bad as it had looked before. With just a lightbulb, I achieved the same effect a can of paint would have had. While lighting might not be the first thing you think of when you hear “interior design,” it should be when the phrase is followed by “inspired by Monet.”

How to Select Outdoor Furniture

Tips for planning your outdoor furniture

First things first – be realistic about the climate and maintenance

If you live in a dry, hot climate, metal pieces might not be the best bet for you. If you live in a humid area that gets a lot of rain, be careful about any textiles you select for the outdoors. Before selecting a piece, think about what kind of work it will require and if you’re willing to deal with upkeep. If you want something that will work anywhere, consider resin or poly-wood furniture. Outdoor furniture made of these materials comes in lots of different price points, colors, and styles. Remember this post from a few weeks back? The svelti chair would be perfect! 

Decorate by material

Wood outdoor furniture

Metal outdoor furniture

Metal chairs like this one come in tons of fun colors and are all the rage right now. They make for the perfect Palm Springs inspired throwback for your backyard.

Rattan outdoor furniture

Rattan furniture is the perfect way to bring some southern charm to your back patio. Click here to find our full list of rattan pieces we love!

2nd – think about location! 

Will the furniture be under a covered patio or out on the lawn? Is your space large or a small apartment balcony? Regardless of the size, you can transform any space to feel magical! If you have a smaller space, choose short outdoor furniture pieces with slats that let light through. This way your furniture won’t be too visually obtrusive. If the space you’re designing is covered, go crazy with cushioned fabric, pillows, and outdoor rugs! In a large space, there is nothing more inviting than a long, low table or bench flanked by mismatched chairs. Add cafe lights and some potted plants and you’ve created your own secret garden!

3rd – what is your goal? 

Comfortable seating for chatting with friends and watching the kids? Or, are you hoping to dine al fresco? Achieve both with this two-birds-one-stone tip: get comfortable seating that works around an outdoor dining table. Move it around to suit your space and circumstance, which will likely change. Remember to have fun and play with the design; that flexibility is what makes outdoor furniture fun! It should be useful, comfortable, and flexible. Goodness knows summer can catch anyone off guard! 

Outdoor dining and bistro

 

4th – unify your outdoor living space with your interior design

Exterior design should go hand in hand with your interior style. If that seems like a difficult task, consider a few things. What colors do you have featured in your home? Are there any patterns you have showcased throughout it? What textures could you replicate outside? A shag carpet might not work, but rattan is foolproof (and weatherproof.) Pillows atop your outdoor furniture that match your interior will help create this luxe indoor-outdoor living experience. Rehome a few accessories (or find coordinating ones) and voila! You’ll have a livable and lovable outdoor space in no time flat. 

Outdoor decor

Once you have turned your backyard into a summery dreamland, check out our long list of outdoor family activities and games so you can put your hard work to good use!

An Easy Houseplant Anyone Can Take Care Of

DIY Paper Begonia Maculata

We at Lars love paper flowers and other plants. This particular paper plant is seriously so easy. Our Polka Dot Plant (Begonia Maculata) is just the plant to liven up your space! Polka dots are just wonderful, and seeing them in a PLANT is something that really tickles my fancy.

DIY paper easy houseplant

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still enjoy a little green in your home. What you need is the easiest houseplant ever. Our Begonia Maculata pattern is super cheap. The materials are probably things you already have. The look of the houseplant is chic and fresh, and the project itself is simple enough that you can do it with your kids!

No matter your gardening ability, you can enjoy the aesthetic benefit of a cheery (but easy) paper houseplant.

How to make your own Polka Dot Plant

DIY paper easy houseplant

Steps:

  1. Download the Begonia Maculata template here
  2. Cut out each leaf out of slightly varied shades of green cardstock. We cut 11 leaves for ours.
  3. Fold each leaf slight along the curve where the vein would be in a natural leaf
  4. With the white acrylic paint, add polka dots of varying sizes to the top of the leaf
  5. Cut floral wire to the lengths of stems you desire
  6. Wrap floral tape around the wire stems to add texture and make them a lighter shade of green
  7. Hold a wire stem against the wide bottom of leaf and glue down a small piece of green paper on top of the wire to hold it in place
  8. Continue to complete each leaf
  9. To arrange your leafs in a pot, hold all the stems in one hand and gently bend each stem to place the leaves at different angles and heights. Once your have achieved your desired look, use another piece of floral tape to hold your bunch together as arranged
  10. Place the entire bunch in a pot and enjoy your new plant friend!

Other Paper Houseplants

Perhaps you’d like to craft a whole greenhouse of houseplants! If so, you’ve come to the right place. We have a bunch of plant patterns that include the ever-trendy Monstera Obliqua (swiss cheese plant), a bright and cheery shamrock bush, some foxgloves that look quite stunning if I may say so myself, hydrangeas, and even a Japanese Maple tree!

Click on any of the photos below to make your own paper plant palace.

DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant DIY paper easy houseplant

Waist-Only Garden Apron Pattern

The apron has large pockets which make it perfect for gardening, cooking, and crafting. Lately I’ve been wearing the same dress day after day because it has one great pocket in the front that is the perfect size for scissors and trowels, but this dress needs a break! 

garden apron pattern waist-only apron printable pattern

A waist-only apron is the kind of thing I imagine women in the sixties wore, and that vintagey feel is something I can’t get enough of. It’s also a great piece that doesn’t hide your cute outfit, but adds to it. Boring tee-shirt and sweats? Disguise the sweats with the apron tied around your waist, and allow the ties to cinch in the tee-shirt. Talk about a step up! With a cute apron in a pattern of your choosing, you don’t even have to put on real clothes to feel cute.

We’ve included a printable file for the apron pattern to make it that much simpler to sew. Scroll down for more info!

garden apron pattern waist-only apron printable pattern

How to make your own garden apron

Pick out some fabric you love! Here are some of our favorites you can get delivered right to your door!

Click here to download the pattern and instructions. The file comes will very detailed instructions and measurements to make your garden apron pattern simple.

garden apron pattern waist-only apron printable pattern

Everything you need to cultivate your green thumb

After sewing your garden apron, load up on everything else you need to become a gardening QUEEN this season!

 

Women Who Work: Erin Benzakein

When did you know that flowers and gardening were your jam?

I found flowers through landscape design and my love was deepened through farming. As my understanding of flowers grew my desire to arrange them did too. I began with what I could grow in my garden, including many grown items that are not typically thought of when one creates arrangements. Herbs, vegetables, fruits, if I could grow it I was using it. I began to see the beauty in what each season could produce making each bouquet moments of captured time. I practiced and practiced and was constantly met with love,  support and positive feedback which kept me going on my journey and has helped me arrive where I am today.

Why is it important to you to create?

Creating is part of something much bigger than beautiful arrangements or design. Creating helps myself and others think ahead and pioneer new ideas. Creating is a chance to mark life’s greatest milestones and everyday events in a simple yet meaningful ways.

What’s your advice to women wanting to pursue the same thing?

It is all in the practice of your medium and finding what works best for you. I’ve found that everyone struggles more or less with the same things: how to approach color, basic mechanics, proper ingredient selection, and most importantly, confidence. Be gentle with yourself as you work through these things and thing the meaning in the work you are creating.

How to get started

 

You can find Erin here:

@FloretFlower
Floret Flowers site
You can find her latest book, A Year in Flowers here
Her first book, Cut Flower Garden here
2020 Floret Farms planner here
Her Garden Journal here

Gardening Art Print

You can find all of the Women Who Work here!

If you are passionate about gardening be sure to check out Floret Farm’s A Year In Flowers and be sure to hang up the Gardening Print in your home to remind you of just how incredible you are at your work!

Interview with Sofia Vusir Jansson

Interview with Sofia Jansson of Mokkasin

What do you consider yourself? 

I used to say that I’m a creator and a photographer mainly.  I’m not sure if creator is a commonly used word in English, but I am a person who does a lot of creative projects. My focus is often on prop/set design and DIY. And my job as a photographer, which I am almost exclusively doing these days, includes building the scene for the photos and hand making all of the props. Absolutely not a business person, that is the last I would call myself.

Who helped you “become” who you are?

I would say that my four kids have made me into the person I am. Their free way of seeing the world and their never ending fantasies have influenced me so much. In their minds they’re not so anxious about their worlds, it’s true and imperfect which, for me, is a very perfect way of being. 

Do you feel like you’ve arrived at what you set out to do? 

Yes I think so. Nowadays I do so many different things. No two days are alike, and I love it that way. It’s very easy for me to say YES even if I didn’t know if I could manage the project load. Maybe it is for this reason that I love my job so much, it is never boring and makes me stretch and develop every minute to meet the needs of each project. 

What more would you like to “become”? 

I would like to work more with set design. If I could do it all again I would probably go receive my education in art directing, that’s a dream of mine. Nowadays I work on projects within this spectrum, but I dream about the big traditional theaters and doing set design and art direction. It would also be very fun to be really good at building things, like a carpenter. Or a glass artist! Ohh there are so many things I would love to learn.

Where did you study, and what did you study? 

I haven’t studied more than high school, and after high school I studied to be a hairdresser. I worked in this field for 10 years and loved every day. But, one day I decided to quit, and I have never looked back. I think, if you do something creative you must have some fire inside you, you must love your work.  If you don’t, as it was for me that day, it’s better to find another path. 

How did you get started doing what you do? 

Actually, everything began when I started to run a little shop. I built all the marketing with my own pictures. The same day I started the shop I also started a blog, and THAT is where everything started. The blog transformed from a business blog that connected to the shop, to a lifestyle blog featuring almost exclusively my own pictures. People found me that way and the blog continued to live as a sort of portfolio. In that way, beside running the shop I got more and more assignments with focus at photography, styling and DIY. One lead to the other. 

When did you discover your love for your work? 

I think I have the blog to thank for that, I love the format. I love to tell stories with words and pictures. The blog has let me create my own universe that only my way of seeing things exists.

Were you scared when you first started looking for jobs? How did you overcome this? 

This sounds like some kind of humble brag, but I’m so lucky that the question of “will I have work?” crossed my mind but was never an issue, I have not had to ask or go looking for work. However, I’m not a nervous person in general and I say “yes” without thinking if I can really manage the job people are asking for. After I have said yes, I sometimes can doubt myself. But I’m lucky to have a husband that always gives me encouragement time and time again. 

What’s your goal with your work? 

To always do jobs that follow my gut feeling and heart. And to always have the work have as much of my personal touch on touch in it as possible, not to follow some others. To constantly be true to myself even in the work I do. 

What are you most proud of in your career? 

I am proud of many things! That Numero 74 chose me as their photographer many years ago and that I still get to work with them, they are always passionate their work and their way of seeing the world. This has helped me to develop myself and my vision.

I am always proud when people ask for props/set design and use them in theater and books. These occasions make everything seem so real. That someone would choose the things you have made by your own hands to achieve their dreams.

And, of course, I’m proud of the book Hidden Places. I’m so proud that that book is exactly as I want it to be. I wished to create a kind of book that hadn’t been done before. Something new and more than just a DIY-guide. During the whole process I wanted the book not to be anxious and stacked in norms and structures. I wanted the photographs to have big spaces and to let the text take space and be grounded in the amazing fantasies of my children. I wanted the illustrations and format to be skewed in a good way. When viewing the book you shouldn’t have the feeling that everything is perfect, things are not always but rather creative and full of fantasy and life. Every time someone gives me feedback about the book I’m so very proud and it makes me really happy!

What is it like working with your family? 

So many projects during the year have involved my family. My husband and my four kids. I really love this and for me it is a huge gift, that everything is like a family affair. My kids have helped me relax and let go of control in a very good way. Before, when I was younger, I was a person that wanted control of everything and everyone. When they were born, 4 kids in 4 years I couldn’t live up to this perfect surface anymore and I think that was my rescue. My husband always saves me, both in life but also with jobs and projects. When I am lost he always has a good idea. He is hugely creative and I trust him one hundred percent. I think many people perceive us as quite a messy family with a thousand projects that go on. And, maybe our house is a little bit different but I think it is only in a good way. 

How did your childhood influence what you have become? 

I played a lot and fantasy was always intense, close and felt very real. I remember when I and one of my sisters ventured into imaginary lands years after our friends had stopped. We built our own worlds and a with games we loved we could continue for weeks, nobody was allowed to clean it away. Every summer we stayed at my parents little cottage in the woods, there was no electricity and the TV was from a car battery which meant that we just had TV for a short moment in the morning. We played from sunrise to sunset during those endless summers, our stick horses took us around in the woods. We had our own fun fair, where the old stroller doubled as the roller-coaster. 

Did you feel pressured in any way to pursue a certain career path? 

Not at all, my mom and dad have always encouraged me and my two sisters to go our own way and told us that the future is ours, exactly equal as it is for everyone else. 

What’s your work space like? 

We live in a big house built in 1913, the whole house is my work space. It’s my photo studio and it’s a space that makes it possible (for everyone) to be creative all over the house. Every part of the house, from cellar to attic, is filled with things and ongoing projects. 

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

 I think it comes from when I was little – to always believe in myself. Always go with your gut feeling and to follow your heart. And as I have grown up my husband has always supported me in this. It is so important to have someone by your side, that believes in you. I think one should “collect” people that follow their own paths in life, people that are beyond over thinking and that are not afraid to be themself.

What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to?

Both historical and present, my list holds so many but it’s always women and especially those that have always followed their own path and weren’t afraid to be different. One historical figure that inspires me a lot is Karin Larsson, the wife of Carl Larsson, who is Sweden’s most famous artist. Her way of looking at life and things is very inspiring, things don’t have to be so finicky “the hand should be seen” was one of her saying – that means that you should see that the craft is made by hand. She designed a lot of her own furniture that the carpenter thought was so ugly so he delivered in the night. Another inspiration is the illustrator of the book Hidden Places, her name is Maja Sten and I love her way of painting and her way of seeing artistry and creativity. She always makes everything by hand instead of using a digital program and you can really feel the life in her art. My Feldt – she’s a writer (and running a café, and a ecologic apple farming, and a TV personality ) soon releasing her second cooking book. I love her way of being herself , she is one of the most transparent people I know.

How has social media influenced your work? 

I think I can thank my blog for almost everything, and of course also Instagram in the latest years. I have used it like a portfolio and in that way it has been so important. And of course also the people who have I have crossed paths with on social media.

Who is your work intended for? 

I hope I can inspire people and give them another way to look at the world. Everything doesn’t have to be so perfect and correct. I hope people feel that and also are inspired to be creative. I think people have so much to win in being creative in different ways, everyone should be creative in the way that suits them. I think the future will require us people to be more creative, dare to think outside the box in so many ways. To use the creative part of the brain more often. Nowadays, when so many things are served in front of you is it so easy to forget that you have so much creativity inside yourself. 

What’s inspiring you lately?

Actually, Swedish glass. We have had a long tradition of glassmaking, with lots of glassworkers in a particular part of Sweden.  Unfortunately, this is a craft that is disappearing, more and more every year. That is really sad, so I am reading everything that comes around. I am also planning to visit one of the glassworkers that still practices the craft. 

You can find Sofia:

Instagram @sofiaatmokkasin
Website of Sofia

Photos of Sofia by Kristen Krickelin

Easy Lawn and Watering Tips for a Picture Perfect Patterned Lawn

3

The best foundation to any landscape masterpiece is a great canvas. For most people that includes GRASS. The lovely groundcover that adds green, texture, soft foot cover, and lowers the temperature of your yard AND makes the best playground for Baby Jasper. Sometimes it’s easy to forget it’s even there. Together with Gilmour, we’ve rounded up our favorite watering tools, tips, tricks, and patterns to keep your canvas looking fresh for those flowerbeds.
Ohh la la!

My garden reveal

As you know, I may not be an official green thumb–I’m more of a “green gambler” in that I plant a bunch of stuff and hope that something sticks. It’s a risk, but every year I take it and somehow I have a number of plants that have survived my plant collecting addiction. Every year that is, except for last year, when I had a 3 month old. I just didn’t have it in me. But this year….this year folks, we’re going BIG! We went crazy this weekend in creating a container garden in our little patio.

Jasper has relatively early mornings so I thought it would be fun to head out into the garden before work each morning and do some watering (aka: run around in the sprinklers) and get it back into full gear. This spring I’m teaming up with Fiskars to showcase their range of garden tools in my attempt at perhaps one day becoming a successful green thumb. I can’t wait to show you–here we go!

Rainbow Lawn Makeover

Listen, I wouldn’t call myself an “outdoorsy” person per say, but I LOVE a well-manicured lawn and garden and I LOVE getting my hands dirty gardening. Has anyone been to the garden at Giverny, because that is the dream! Being surrounded by flowers is my ultimate happy place. I jumped for joy when Troy-Bilt asked us to be a part of their Flip the Yard Campaign! I know that landscaping can be a bit intimidating, so I wanted to show a simple way to add some whimsy and curb-appeal to your yard without enlisting a whole crew. This yard was certainly not terrible, but there were a few parts that were not as well-kept and lackluster. We tidied up our edges, banished the weeds, and planted loads of peonies for a fresh, clean slate. Then for the grand finale, we used mowing patterns to create a giant rainbow across the lawn! We like to call it Lawn Art, our newest obsession.

Check out the whole transformation and see what tools we used to create this Lawn Rainbow Makeover!

How to plant a Rainbow Container Garden

Rainbow Container Garden

We selected our current apartment while we were still living in Denmark. Because we hadn’t seen it in person before we moved in, we didn’t quite know what we had to work with. A garden wasn’t necessarily on my list of things I “had to have”, but I was so pleasantly surprised to find that I had a little bit of garden to work with once I got here. Our landlords do a phenomenal job at keeping it up, but they said I could add in some of my own flower selections. That was 5 years ago. I have since been bit by the gardening bug and consider it one of my most (and few!) hobbies that I have outside of work.

This year I wanted to make it more colorful than years past and in honor of Craft the Rainbow our new book and this little board book that I read to Jasper nearly every day (here) , I created a rainbow container garden for the front porch. I only added them in a couple of weeks ago so they haven’t had time to flourish yet, but I thought I’d post about it so you can get started to and then we can watch them grow together and keep each other updated.
Rainbow Container Garden

Here are some things I’ve done to get it going and a list of flower divided by color that you can add to your garden:

How to grow a garden even when you think you can’t

Lars in the garden

Like a proud mother, I want to show off my babies: my small but delightful-to-me garden. It’s small, but makes me so happy. And this comes from someone who knew not too much about gardening and didn’t know I could get so much from such a small space. But let me start at the beginning if you’re just joining in on reading Lars.

Read along for my tips on how to create a garden even if you think you can’t!