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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    For a new cabin in Denmark, a young family had somewhat conflicting desires: a large house that would look small, modern architecture that would blend into the forest, and open spaces for dinner parties but privacy for the family. 

    Copenhagen-based Primus Arkitekter solved the puzzle with a long, narrow house providing ample square footage while appearing modest in size from each end. Inside, a mix of shared spaces with high ceilings and intimate nooks lends an alternating sense of open space and coziness. And the house's bold exterior in a weathered, rough-hewn finish recedes into the forest. 

    Photography by Stamers Kontor via Arch Daily, except where noted. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The cabin's dimensions look modest from the front, meeting the clients' desire to avoid ostentatiousness. But inside is plenty of room. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The house sits on the edge of a forest in Asserbo, Denmark, a small town inhabited since the 12th century. On one side are tall plantation trees, with grassland on the other. Photograph by David Bülow.

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: Inside, the openness of full-height ceilings contrasts with the density of the surrounding forest. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The interiors are by Danish designer Louise de Fønss, who kept bulky furniture off the floor to maximize usable space in the main entertaining room. The double-height steel windows are Millennium series by Danish manufacturer HS Hansen, and the polished concrete floors are by Londero Mosaik. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: Interior walls are clad in boards of slightly different thicknesses, lending a light checkerboard look in a nod to the exterior cladding. Note the opening in the concrete wall at the back of the kitchen, allowing a glimpse of the living room. Cabinets and interior woodwork are by Danish furniture manufacturer Københavns Møbelsnedkeri

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The interior is modern and cool, softened by textiles. Built-in storage spaces are hidden throughout the long, open-floor plan. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The cabin's exterior is clad in solid oak boards treated with iron sulfate—both to protect the wood and to achieve a weathered look. Note the outdoor shower off one of the bedrooms, and the drainage spouts that collect water from the roof in wooden barrels below.

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: The vertically oriented boards are mostly accompanied by vertical windows framing views of the woods—but occasionally a horizontal window breaks up the monotony. 

    Forest House in Denmark | Gardenista

    Above: Light plays off the oak cladding, lending different geometries and patterns at different times of day. 

    More Danish outdoor spaces: 

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    Where is the frigid grip of winter? In the Northeast we are in the disconcertingly mild cuddle of mid-December. Gardeners are beginning to scratch their heads and wonder what is going to happen to their fall-planted bulbs. Will they break dormancy now and be zapped by the first real freeze? 

    The good news is that the cool-weather salad bar is still wide, wide open.  

    Fresh-cut greens might not seem synonymous with midwinter but even in ordinary weather cycles, mâche, pea shoots, fava bean leaves, and mustard can be on your holiday plate if your USDA hardiness zone is 6b or higher. For a small investment per packet, you cut your salad shopping bill drastically, and have the satisfaction of picking your daily bowlful, grown right at home.

    Photography by Marie Viljoen.

    Mâche

    Mache cold weather winter crop ; Gardenista

    Above: I started growing mâche (also called corn salad and lamb’s lettuce) because I could not find its delicate and easily bruised rosettes at markets. Mâche is a true winter crop. While many sources cite it as easy to grow, there is a trick (which they don’t mention):  the seeds will not germinate if temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. After overnight temperatures are steadily below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to plant for midwinter or spring harvest.

    A good source for seeds is Botanical Interests, where a packet of Heirloom Mâche Seeds is $1.89.

    Giant Red Mustard

    Giant red mustard ; Gardenista

    Above: One of the cold-hardy Brassicas, giant red mustard thrives in nippy weather and adds a welcome bite of pepper to a mixed salad. The largest leaves make good leaf wraps.  (And planted alone in a perennial bed, the leaves are indeed giant and are very striking.)

    Arugula

    Spicy arugula winter greens; Gardenista

    Spicy arugula is a staple in my daily salads. This year - gardening in-ground in Brooklyn after a move from a container garden in Harlem - I have been thrilled to discover that they will thrive without direct sunlight. In fact they perform better than the arugula that I have grown in full sun. Plant as early as late summer, with successive sowings till frost.

    Fava Greens

    Fava greens cold weather crop ; Gardenista

    Above: Fava greens are the earliest spring crop to plant, so why not make them the last crop of the cooling year? Fava greens keep pushing out shoots as fast as you nip them for salads and stir fries. They can take high shade, making them a versatile crop.

    Pea Shoots

    Pea shoots winter garden crop ; Gardenista

    Above: Peas work well in containers and in-ground. If you plant in late fall they will not set pods, but you will be able to appreciate their pretty, sugar snap-flavored shoots.

    Baby Kale

      Baby kale winter garden crop ; Gardenista

    Above: Sweet kale leaves taste better after a crisp frost, and are tough enough to withstand dustings of snow. Their texture holds up to composed salads and works beautifully with sliced apples and pears. Plant dwarf varieties for containers and small spaces and also for earlier harvest.

    For seeds, a packet of Dino Kale seeds is $3.95 from Hudson Seed Library.

    Fenugreek

    Fenugreek winter garden crop ; Gardenista

    Above: I sowed my first fenugreek patch from store-bought spice in late summer. The seeds all germinated quickly. While not a typical cold weather crop, the greens still can be collected while temperatures hover above freezing. The legume is common in India (where it is known as methi) and in the Middle East, but not much used stateside. The fresh leaves are good raw or wilted (and a favorite in parathas). And their roots fix nitrogen in the soil (nice bonus). Look for the seeds in Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores and soak before sowing.

    Winter Cress

    Winter cress garden crop; Gardenista

    Above: Here is a plant you may have noticed growing in the wild in cold weather. Winter cress (also called upland cress and creasy greens) is as cold-loving as its name suggests. Planted in early fall, it can be harvested well before the last frost of winter. The leaves are mustard-like in flavor and develop more chewiness with colder temperatures. In a salad their heat offsets the tropical sweetness of winter mangos. Left to bolt, its pretty yellow flowers on tender stems are also delicious.

    A good source for seeds is Johnny's, where a packet of Winter Cress Seeds is $3.95.

    Winter garden crops lettuces greens ; Gardenista

    Above: The best thing about cold weather salads is that you get to plant them again, starting in early spring. If it it is too hard to decide what to plant, consider signing up early for a seed of the month club, like Grow Journey’s, where a surprise collection will arrive monthly, guaranteed to contain leafy edibles that love the cold.

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    The Remodelista editors headed abroad for holiday design inspiration this week. Here's what they found in Paris, Scandinavia, Brussels, and London:

    dried herbs kitchen paris ; Gardenista

    Above: dried herbs in the kitchen in An Artfully Appointed Flat in Paris.

    Swedish Scandinavian dining chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Julie goes beyond the Wishbone and the Ant to round up her favorite examples of the New Scandinavian Chair in this week's 10 Easy Pieces post.

    Hotel Providence Paris; Gardenista

    Above: Alexa discovers a Velvet Goldmine in a new hotel in the theater district of Paris.

    Happy Guesthouse Brussels ; Gardenista

    Above: Margot finds happiness in A Minimalist Guesthouse in Brussels.

    Kitchen of the Week London Remodelista ; Gardenista

    Above: Margot visits a boundary-breaking London remodel to unearth the Kitchen of the Week.

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    From new resin plant stands to a thistle-and-oak arrangement, here are a few things we loved this week. 

    Jenni-Kayne-living-arrangements-Gardenista-obsessions

    Capra-designs-gardenista-current-obsessions

    • Above: Design studio Capra Designs debuts its hand-poured resin plant stands. Photograph by Eve Wilson. 
    • House greenery you don't have to water.
    • 3 ways to enjoy Yosemite in the winter.
    • Over on Remodelista: A Happiness-Inducing Guesthouse in Brussels.

    Sacramento-street-blooms-season-gardenista-obsessions

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week 

    emerson-thoreau-instagram-gardenista-current-obsessions

    • Above: The bounty of fresh produce in artist Emily Billing's feed continues to capture our attention (@emersonthoreau). 

    Fennel-fern-terraced-garden-board-gardenista-obsessions

    For more Gardenista, visit our latest issue Holidays Abroad.

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    We'll be celebrating self-sufficient homesteaders (and their DIY holiday gift ideas) this week. Curl up with us in front of a fire:

    Table of Contents: Homesteaders ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this flower farm, see Garden Visit: Local Flowers from Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island.

    Monday

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: The holiday season should not feel like a rush to the finish line. Avoid the frenzy of last-minute shopping with three gifts you can make at home. We'll offer step-by-step instructions in this week's DIY posts.

    Before and After remodeled barn Germany Kroger ; Gardenista

    Above: We visit a remodeled barn in Germany in this week's Before & After post.

    Tuesday

    Tasha Shoo farmer Australia ; GArdenista

    Above: We visit a modern farmer in Australia in this week's Garden Visit.

    Wednesday

    charred wood cottage facade ; Gardenista

    Above: It is possible to build an entire cabin on a budget of $45,000. See how in this week's Architect Visit.

    Thursday

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, seed starters, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Save your eggshells to use in the garden. Justine explains why in this week's Gardening 101 post.

    Friday

    Christmas decor Sweden holiday garden advent ; Gardenista

    Above: To celebrate Christmas, we'll drop in on a garden in Sweden for a special holiday Garden Visit.

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    In the German village of Uckermark, architect Thomas Kröger and team at TKA recently converted a 140-year-old brick-and-timber barn into a family vacation house with a separate guest apartment. "In its time, it was an ultramodern building," says Kröger, a Berlin star who got this start working for Norman Foster and Max Dudler. Now, the structure is ultramodern once again—while remaining true to its past.

    Photography by Thomas Heimann via Yatzer, unless otherwise noted.

    Before and After remodeled german barn Kroger ; Gardenista

    Above: The 1900 farm building known as Landhaus was once used to house two settler families as well as their cattle. The converted interior is still defined by a series of original beams and trusses.

    Above: The barn hadn't been used for decades when the owners, a young family, bought it as a country escape. Its three new archways (with slatted-wood gates) open the house to fields, orchard, and garden. Photograph by Thomas Heimann via Home World Design.

    Before and After remodeled barn Germany Kroger ; Gardenista

    Above: Kröger describes his design as applying "the preexisting language of the house and adapting it using its own means and rules." 

    Above: The house is centered by a double-height great hall with a fireplace (a necessity because the room is unheated). Note the inset sitting niches in the hearth.

    Above: The brick-paved great hall is cathedral-size in scope with two stories of rooms around it. Explains Kröger: "The space is designed so that the great hall is unheated and surrounded by an enclosed and heated body of rooms. So for the cold season, only the smaller and more sociable areas of the house can be used, like birds' nests."

    Above: Platform stairs lead to the slightly elevated open kitchen-dining-living area.

    Above: The dining table is crowned by a wood-slatted pyramid that extends to the upstairs floor, which has three bedrooms, two baths, two studies, and a loggia.

    Above: The minimalist kitchen is freestanding and defined by a sculptural angled ceiling hood.

    Above: A cross section shows the dramatic pyramid that divides the upstairs floor. Plan via Metalocus.

    Above: A longitudinal section of the design. Plan via Metalocus.

     

    Above: The main room opens to a lounge furnished with mattress-inspired seating.

    Above: Glass partitions offer sweeping interior views. "The entire building was upgraded and a considered approach to energy was made," explains Kröger. "The walls of the heated rooms are insulated on the inside with a wall heating and clay plaster."

     

    Above: The barn's apartment is in a connecting structure with its own entrance. It has a living area and kitchen on the ground floor and two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. 

     

    Above: The bathroom's honeycomb floor tiles extend up the walls.

     Above: Though contemporary in spirit, the room incorporates the wooden trusses.

    Above: Changes to the barn on the street side are "barely readable," says Kröger.

    Above: Uckermark, just an hour north of Berlin, is a popular rural retreat.

     Before

    Above: The back of the structure, pre-renovation. 

    Above: Arched openings were introduced to connect indoors and out.

     

    Above: The interior as it looked at the start of construction. See more of Thomas Kröger Architekt's work at TKA.

    Take a look at some more farm conversions we've been admiring:

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    The holiday season should not feel like a race to the finish line. Avoid the frenzy of last-minute holiday shopping with homespun gifts. Here's a fragrant orange and clove pomander you can make with materials you may already have:

    Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista. 

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: A fragrant hostess gift.

    An old-fashioned pomander in the form of an orange studded with cloves is a sweet-smelling ornament to present to a holiday host and takes only minutes to make. (I currently have one hanging in my bedroom, and it’s filling the whole room with a rich, spicy scent.)

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Materials

    • An orange
    • Ribbon
    • Straight pin
    • Whole cloves (about 50)

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Instructions

    Begin by cutting your ribbon into two lengths that fit around the circumference of your orange. (Measure the ribbon using the fruit as a guide and cut accordingly.) Wrap each length of ribbon around the orange in opposite directions to create four quarters, with the ribbon ends overlapping over the orange stem. Using a straight pin, secure all four ends by sticking the pin through both ribbon and orange. 

    Using the ribbon as a guide, begin to stick the cloves into the orange rind. Whole cloves are big enough to pierce the orange rind without requiring you to use any special tools. You can arrange the cloves in whatever pattern you’d like. I started by making a straight line of cloves down the center of each quarter and then added a smaller line of cloves to either side. 

    After you have the cloves in place, take another small piece of ribbon and thread it underneath the crossed ribbon (opposite from where you pinned the ribbon ends). Tie the ends of the ribbon into a knot to create a loop, and you’re done.

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    A few years ago Tasha Shoo and her husband, Ben, bought 10 acres of land an hour's drive from Melbourne, Australia, and moved there from the city with their three children and a dream of raising the food they eat.

    With chickens, pigs, beehives, and garden plots, the experiment was a success—and intoxicating. After 18 months of harvesting her own salads and curing her own bacon and eating strawberries that really taste like strawberries, Shoo embarked on a second phase of farming: She and Ben launched a project called A Plot in Common, digging six extra edible-garden beds that they offered to share with neighbors.

    Word got around. Australian photographer Tara Pearce, who tells the stories of people who've chosen the country over city life, came by with her camera to take a look. Here's what she saw:

    Photography by Tara Pearce except where noted.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: Shoo raises her family's meat, vegetables, and fruit on the farm, which also has a small orchard, prompting Pearce to describe her as a "modern farmer."  Shoo's husband, Ben, works as a designer from a small studio on the property.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: On the farm is a small cottage and several other buildings, including a barn. Photograph via A Plot in Common.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: Netting protects the crops from rabbits and other hungry varmints.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: In addition to her own garden plots, Shoo has created an additional six beds that neighbors may use for free to plant their own food. "More and more people are becoming interested in where their food comes from, but not everyone has the space or knowledge to grow their own," she says. "The idea for A Plot in Common is to explore ways in which we can share our farm, the space, and what we have learned."

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: Purple cauliflower.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: "What can you do here that you can't do in the big city?" Tara Pearce asked Shoo. 

    "Last Sunday we drove up a nearby mountain and had a picnic in the snow, went down to a tasting in a vineyard, and took a bottle home," Shoo said. "Then we made pasta with our own homegrown eggs, beef, and vegetables."

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: What appeals most about living on a farm, Shoo said, is the ability to "go slow, spend more time doing less, and explore the things that you would usually pass right by."

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: The farm, located in the town of Lauriston (pop. 538), is surrounded by rolling hills.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: Harvesting rosemary and collecting eggs.

    Tasha Shoo Australia farmer Outer Towners; Gardenista

    Above: Home-cured meats. "We had quite a bit of pork in the freezer from last year's pigs," Shoo said. "We dreamed of salami, prosciutto, bacon—anything cured, really—but they seemed a little out of our league. Funny how you put things in the 'too hard' basket. It's just taking that initial step, isn't it? Bacon was our first step."

    For more of our favorite modern farmers, see Organic Flowers at Red Damsel Farm and Dinner at Beetlebung Farm.

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    Around this time of year, when my sisters and I migrate home for the holidays, we become what my dad calls "fire gloms." We can't help it. My parents' house is never exactly toasty, and the roaring fire in the kitchen fireplace is the perfect spot for gathering. Enter the house during the winter and you'll no doubt see all four of us lined up, bums toward the fire. 

    Of course someone needs to keep the fire roaring, so a few years ago I generously gave my dad a log carrier to help him with the task.

    Here's a roundup of 10 firewood log carriers, perfect for toting logs from woodshed to fireplace, without snagging sweaters or mussing rugs in the process.

    filson log carrier canvas leather ; Gardenista

    Above: This is the Log Carrier I gave to my parents a few years ago. It's 19.5 inches wide by 43.5 inches long and made from twill and bridle leather; $88 from Filson.

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: The Steele Canvas Log Carrier is on sale for $103.20 from Rejuvenation.

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: The Shanty Man Log Carrier is made of waxed canvas and leather straps from dead stock WWII leather gun slings. Brass grommets lend an extra layer of support; 18 inches wide by 38 inches long and $142 from Peg & Awl via Etsy. 

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: The leather and canvas Firewood Sling is 21 inches wide and 52 inches wide and is $140 from Frost River.

      Timber hauler firewood log carrier ; Gardenista

    Above: A less expensive alternative, the Log Carrier, is 18 inches wide by 56 inches long and is made from waxed canvas and wooden dowels; $80 from Frost River.

    L.L. Bean canvas log carrier ; Gardenista

    Above: A Dura-Tough Standing Log Carrier made of canvas  is $39.95 from L.L. Bean.

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: I'm a big fan of Beckel Canvas tents and duffles, so no surprise that I love the classic canvas look of this Log Carrier made from 20-ounce canvas duck with 2-inch cotton webbing wrap; $32 from Beckel Canvas. 

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: The Canvas Firewood Tote is made from 18-ounce canvas and polypropylene and cotton webbing that's been triple-stitched for strength; $65 from Patzbag.

    Duluth Trading canvas leather firewood log carrier ; Gardenista

    Above: Made of cotton canvas with a heavy duty leather handle, a Firewood Log Carrier is $59.95 from Duluth Trading.

    10 Easy Pieces: Firewood Log Carriers | Gardenista

    Above: The Carrier Company offers an all-jute Log Carrier that measures 52 by 95 centimeters; £36.

    Have a lighter load to carry? See A Bag for Kindling. Stay warm: see 10 Easy Pieces: Freestanding Wood Stoves.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post published on December 4, 2013.

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    Honestly, I never imagined I'd meet a God's eye I liked. But recently, when trying to conjure a Christmas tree star (see A Star Is Born: DIY Foraged Tree Topper), I remembered the old camp craft, and I thought maybe it's not the object itself that lacks appeal—perhaps it's just the rainbow yarn. And so the idea of the non-gaudy God's eye was born.

    Photography by Justine Hand.

    Instructions

    Above: I began with some red and black ribbon and white yarn, and then threw in a little glittery gold and silver string for extra holiday cheer.

    Materials

    • Natural yarn, ribbon, or twine. I used a selection of Italian Cotton Ribbon and Wrapped Cotton from Studio Carta, as well as Twine ($5.60 a roll) from Anthropologie. 
    • Balsa wood or popsicle sticks. Balsa wood is readily available in strips at your local hardware or art supply store. 
    • Scissors.
    • Exacto knife, or other sharp utility knife.

    Making God's eyes is a bit like riding a bike. After a brief refresher, you'll find you settle right back into the rhythm of it. Let's start with the basics.

    Ornament 1: The Simple God's Eye

    Step 1: Cut your balsa wood into two pieces of equal length.

    Note: Although you can use popsicle sticks, I chose thinner widths of balsa wood, which seemed a better way to conjure the light snowflakes that I wanted to make. 

    Step 2: Place two pieces together to form an X. To secure, simply wrap your twine diagonally in each direction to create an X across the front. I do not tie my yarn to the sticks because it creates an unruly lump. Simply wrapping around in each direction several times is enough to secure the center of the God's eye. After it's wrapped, trim any loose ends.

    Step 3: Wrap the twine once, back to front, around one stick.

    Step 4: Bring the twine across the front to the next stick, wrap around the back and across the front to the next stick.

    Step 5: Repeat: Wrap around, quarter turn across the front to the next stick, wrap around, and so on until you reach the desired width. 

    Above: Made with Studio Carta Wrapped Cotton String in red ($22 for 90 yards), my simple God's eye is a festive ornament. I finished it with a simple knot around the final stick and then created a long tail with a loop at the end for hanging the ornament.

    Above: The back of the God's eye is also lovely. Here is a step-by-step guide to making a classic God's eye.

    Ornament 2: The Multi-Textured God's Eye

    Above: To create this pattern, I wrapped the first two layers in the traditional manner, pulling the ribbon and then white mohair, passing the yarn over each stick. For the final layer, instead of moving over, I passed under each stick. (You can also simply turn the God's eye over and continuing working across the front of the opposite face if that's easier for you.) To switch materials, simply tie one to the next with a knot and trim the tail. After you begin experimenting with different patterns, you'll find that the possibilities are endless.

    Ornament 3: The Complex God's Eye

    Above: For a more elaborate design, start with four sticks crossed into a star form. (Note: I found that it's easier to secure this many sticks if I notch them with my Exacto knife.) The techniques for making complex God's eyes are the same as the simple, you're just dealing with more quadrants. First, to secure the sticks, wrap a thread diagonally across from one quadrant to the opposite moving around the star. Then work the yarn around in eighths instead of quarters, wrapping it around each stick and across the front to the next one.

    Above: You can create more intricate patterns using the complex God's eye framework. Here I applied the basic technique in the center. For the outer pattern, I skipped a stick to create a square pattern. To do this, tie two pieces of string to two consecutive sticks. Wrap one once around in a square, tie off, and then use the other to go once around.

    Above: You can also alternate the yarns that form the squares to create a radiating snowflake look. To do this, begin as you did above with two pieces of string tied to consecutive sticks. Work one string around the square, but don't tie it off. Simply hold it taut, while you work the next string once around. Continue to alternate once around with each piece.

    The Finished Look

    Above: Hung on a bare branch, my God's eyes conjure a simple Scandi Christmas.

    Above: Smaller God's eyes make great gift tags.

    Want more Scandi-inspired holiday decor? See:

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    On the coast of Brittany, architects Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca of Paris-based NeM Architectes discovered "a vacation home frozen in time." The challenge was to add a bedroom without sacrificing any of the quaint atmosphere. The solution? They designed a mirror image—an even tinier replica—and connected the two buildings with a small walkway.

    To create a mirror image effect, the architects wanted to complement the existing white cottage with a dark addition. (Black is a color often seen on the foggy Brittany coast, where nearby oyster huts are frequently coated with a black paint described as a tar.) But instead of painting the cottage black, Niney and Marca decided to burn it:

    Photography via NeM Architectes.

      NeM charred wood vacation cottage Brittany ; Gardenista

    Above: Old and new. The two cottages are joined by a walkway clad in charred Douglas fir.

    Before

    NeM Architects vacation cottage Brittany ; Gardenista

     Above: Working with a budget of $45,000 and a mandate to add a bedroom to the vacation cottage, the architects decided to build a second peaked structure alongside the house.

    Charred Douglas fir wood for a cottage ; Gardenista

    Above: During a recent trip to Japan, the architects had become interested in the Japanese charred-wood technique of shou-sugi-ban. Charring wood makes it weather- and mold-resistant, a benefit near the sea. 

    Site plan for Brittany twin cottages by NeM Architects ; Gardenista

    Above: The architects' plan called for a freestanding charred-wood cottage connected by a walkway to the existing house.

    NeM charred wood cottage Brittany ; Gardenista

    Above: The new cottage is clad in charred Douglas fir.

    After

    NeM charred wood cottage Brittany ; Gardenista

    Above: The two cottages share a terrace.

    NeM charred wood cottage Brittany ; Gardenista

    Above: The bedroom in the new cottage has floor-to-ceiling doors instead of a wall, to connect it to the backyard.

    NeM-burned-wood-before-and-after-vacation-house-france-gardenista-7.png

    Above: Connected by a covered walkway to the existing house, the new cottage is a mini replica of the old.

    NeM-burned-wood-before-and-after-vacation-house-france-gardenista-7.png

    Above: From the road, the new charred wood cottage is reminiscent of the dark-stained facades of nearby oyster huts.

    For more about shou-sugi-ban, the technique of charring wood, see:

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    Last fall, I started collecting eggshells after I read an article on Realfarmacy.com that touted their usefulness in the garden, for everything from fertilizer to organic pest control. This spring, I'm using crushed eggshells in the garden five ways:

    Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, sving shells, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: During the winter, I saved the shells from all the eggs we ate by simply rinsing them and placing them in an open container where they could dry out. (No, they did not smell. Everyone who came to my house and saw them asked me this question.) After my containers were full, I set the kids to pulverizing them into little bits with wooden spoons, thus compacting the shells so that I could collect more.

    Eggshell Fertilizer

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, soil enrichment, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium.

    Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy "bones"—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant's roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.

    By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail: try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.

    Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil, and will help to aerate it.

    Eggshell Seed Starters

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, seed starters, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Because they are biodegradable, eggshells make excellent, no-waste seed starters. For this, reserve some of your deeper shell halves. Sterilize the shelves by boiling them or by placing them in a 200 degree oven for 30 minutes. (If you put them in a cooling oven after, say, you baked a roast chicken, you can sterilize eggs without using excess energy.)

    Next, with a nail or awl, make a hole in the bottom for drainage. Add soil and seeds according to the packaging. When sprouts appear, plant them—egg and all—right into the soil. See a complete DIY at 17 Apart.

    Eggshell Pest Control

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, deer repellent 2, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: A coating of crushed eggshells in the garden is said to help deter several pests, both large and small. Deer dislike the smell of the albumen and will stay away. Apparently you can also use egg's insides to deter deer. See DIY: Homemade Deer Spray. Be aware, however, that though deer hate the smell of eggs, rodents love it. Therefore, it may not be best to use this deterrent near the house.

    Many gardeners also tout the use of crushed eggshells as a snail and slug repellent. But a recent test by All About Slugs in Oregon seems to have dispelled this as a myth. If you've had any success with egg shells as slug repellent, we'd be curious to know.

    Eggshell Bird Food

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, for birds, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Like plants and people, birds also benefit from a bit a calcium in their diet, especially the females who need extra before and after laying their eggs. To make bird food, start by sterilizing the shells by leaving them in a cooling oven after you bake a meal. Then crush them into fine bits and mix with your favorite seed.

    Eggshell Mulch

    Egg Shell Mulch in the Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Like oysters (See A Gift from the Sea: Oysters in the Garden), eggshells used as mulch provide a striking accent in the garden. If you gather enough, you can even apply a layer thick enough to deter weeds.

    Looking for more recycled garden how-tos? See:

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    Down to the wire. If there are last-minute gifts on your holiday list, just say no to the frenzy at the mall. A DIY potted amaryllis bulb is a lovely gift—and you'll enjoy assembling it. Read on for easy instructions:

    Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: An amaryllis bulb is a lovely thing to give at the holidays because it means a little bit of green come January after the rest of the holiday decorations have been cleared away.

    You can give an amaryllis bulb that you've potted, or you can provide the bulb and a pot so a recipient can plant it (timed with holiday travel plans because no one wants to be out of town when the flowers emerge!).

    last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Materials

    • Amaryllis bulb
    • Terra cotta pot and saucer
    • Ribbon
    • Greenery (optional)

    Instructions:

    Look for a large, sturdy bulb that shows no sign of rot. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the bulb, the larger the bloom. An amaryllis bulb doesn’t mind being slightly root-bound, but you’ll want to provide a large enough pot to give the roots room to grow. Choose a pot that’s at least 6 inches wide (or has at least an inch or two of space between the bulb and the side of the pot). 

    To wrap the gift, tuck a few sprigs of greenery around the bulb to make it stand up straight, and finish with a ribbon tied around the pot and saucer to make a neat package. 

    gift tags ; Gardenista

    Above: Include a tag with potting instructions: Moisten potting soil before planting. Fill the bottom half of this pot with potting soil and place the bulb on top. Fill the pot around the bulb with soil, leaving the top ⅓ of the bulb exposed. Water. Place in a sunny spot. Enjoy blooms in from 6 to 8 weeks. (If you want to ensure that the bulb gets planted, include a small bag of potting soil, too.)

      last minute holiday gifts to make at home by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: For another last-minute DIY holiday gift, see DIY Gift: Orange and Clove Pomander.

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    You can make it snow indoors with pots of white cyclamen. 

    There are quite a few kinds of cyclamen—nearly two dozen species—beyond the common, florists' cyclmen for sale in supermarkets. And yet. The large-flowered potted variety you see everywhere can be a care-free, ruffly petaled thing of beauty if you set pots of it on the mantel or beneath the Christmas tree.

    After the holiday season ends, cyclamen will be happy to continue blooming year-round in its pot. (I set mine in a sheltered spot that gets a northern exposure and water once a week.)

    Photography by Michelle Slatalla.

    white cyclamen in pots Christmas ; Gardenista

    Above: Cyclamen persicum, native to Mediterranean climates, can do well in the garden too, if you live in a growing zone where temperatures don't drop below freezing. If you bought a plant or two for the holidays, paint the plastic nursery pots gold for now and decide later, after New Year's, if you want to commit.

    Christmas potted cyclamen on mantel l Gardenista

    Above: Cyclamen spreads from tubers. If you like the look of its velvety, upright petals—they remind me of the ears on a certain little dog I know—you also can experiment in the garden with more delicately shaped woodland varieties. Cyclamen cilicium, for instance, has pale purple flowers. It is 3 inches tall and native to Turkey and has mottled green and white leaves. In the garden, it will tolerate light shade; $16 per plant from Plant Delights.

    Christmas potted cyclamen on mantel l Gardenista

    Above: For instant holiday decor, head to the supermarket; potted cyclamens are inexpensive and will bloom through the season in well-drained soil. I paid $4.99 per pot for mine.

    Softening on poinsettias? We witnessed a Christmas Miracle: 5 Poinsettias That Aren't Tacky. And see what happened when Justine decided to get a live Christmas tree and plant it in the garden after the holidays in DIY: Plant Your Christmas Tree.

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    Detroit Garden Works' motto is "Where passionate gardeners come to shop." Step through the door, and you immediately understand why shoppers from as far away as Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Iowa make pilgrimages to this mecca. Founded in 1996 by landscape designer Deborah Silver, the store sells beautiful pots and planters, fountains and hardscape elements, well made tools (new, used, and antique), and special plants, from potted topiaries to giant amaryllis bulbs. We stopped by the other day to see the Christmas decorations:

    Photography by Christine Chitnis for Gardenista.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Trees wrapped in burlap and tied with red ribbon make a festive holiday display in front of a living ivy wall.

    Inside, different rooms have living walls and elaborate displays, and it is then that the full beauty and uniqueness of the shop hits you.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Oversized twinkling wreaths frame a fountain on a living wall.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: A bit of sparkle; simple silver ornaments nestle in a bowl.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Rounds of twinkly lights frame the living wall and fountain, creating a sparkling vignette.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Every year, the shop has a silver bell made and engraved with the year.  A strand hangs on the door of the shop, and jingles as shoppers enter.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Garlands of all types are strewn about the shop, including this charming, simple garland of monochrome oak leaves and acorns.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: A wall of pots and garden accessories. Detroit Garden Works does landscaping work throughout Southern Michigan, including everything from elaborate pots in the warmer months to garlands and holiday decor during the holidays.  In fact, November and December are as busy as May and June for the landscaping business.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Christmas bells and garland.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Lighted trees in the shop's courtyard surround a simple wooden bench.

    Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

    Above: Birch branches and evergreen swathes in the window boxes.  The shop gets its holiday decorations after all thr clients are taken care of.  The simple palette ensures that the decorations can stay throughout the winter months, without feeling too "holiday."

    Visiting the Midwest for the holidays? Stop in at another of our favorite shops, A New Leaf in Chicago.

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    Everyone knows that starting the day with a well-balanced breakfast is a good idea and as far as I'm concerned, this is especially true on Christmas. It's a day when, if I'm not careful, I might happily fill up on melty foil-wrapped chocolate Santas in front of the fire and drift into a sugary stupor. A proper Christmas deserves a proper morning feast. But it also shouldn't be anything too complicated—there's dinnertime for that. Fresh juices, an indulgent smattering of fresh fruit, something warm from the oven, something savory, and something sweet sounds perfect to me. Olivia Rae James agrees. Here, her dreamed up version of the perfect Christmas morning spread. 

    Photography by Olivia Rae James

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Olivia's idea of the perfect Christmas morning spread.

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Olivia's boyfriend, Blake, was in charge of making the cinnamon rolls. He used Oh, Ladycakes Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls recipe, but added a boozy addition to the glaze: a touch of whiskey. Don't mind if we do.

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: To offset the sweetness, Olivia made tartines of smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese on toasted sourdough bread.

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Part of Christmas morning tradition in my family, too. Olivia broiled halved oranges, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar, until they were just warm. 

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Blake's glazed cinnamon rolls, ready to eat.

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Coffee and grapefruit juice to wake up sleepy family members.

    christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

    Above: Breakfast in action. What about you? What you are your favorite holiday breakfast treats?

    For more of Olivia's festive recipe ideas, see A 5-Ingredient Holiday Cocktail Party and Mulled Apple Cider With a Secret Ingredient.

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    Blogger Maria Sandberg of Lilla Villa Vita lives with her husband, two sons, and dog in a fairytale house in southern Sweden. Every winter, she takes advantage of a white landscape to deck the house (and the garden gazebo) in greenery and candlelight. Let's pay a Christmas visit:

    Photography via Lilla Villa Vita.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: Built in 1909, Lilla Villa Vita is a house in Kristianstad in southern Sweden (closer to Copenhagen, Denmark than to Stockholm).

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: The wreath and garlands of spruce boughs came from florist Dennis Blommor in nearby Ahus.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: Wrapped around tree trunks, white string lights glow in the snow.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: "The table below is my little nature table, with treasures from nature and forest," says Maria.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: A dash of red: "I like to decorate from nature," says Maria, who decorated with apples from a neighbor's tree.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: A birdbath becomes "a little candy table instead" when it's too cold for birds to bathe.

    garen-gazebo-snow-christmas-sweden-lilla-villa-vilta-gardenista

    Above: More red. The garden gazebo, dressed up for the holiday season.

    lilla villa vita garden gazebo candles Christmas; Gardenista

    Above: At night, candles light the gazebo from inside.

    lilla villa vita garden gazebo candles Christmas; Gardenista

    Above: No red ribbon necessary.

    lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

    Above: Snowpack.

    Merry Christmas. Here are more of our favorite holiday gardens to visit while you're curled up with a cup of tea:

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    In the hectic days leading to this holiday weekend, here are a few things that brought us serenity and inspiration. 

    t-magazine-gardens-2015-gardenista-current-obsessions

    Violet-Grey-thankyou-flowers-Gardenista-obsessions

    livingly-scotland-gardenista-current-obsessions

    • Above: On our wish lists: a trip to the rolling green hills of Scotland. Photo by Marlen Komar.
    • Over on Remodelista: An alpine hut that bends the rules. 

    Sunset-houseplants-gardenista-current-obsessions

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

    Smit-Farms-instagram-Gardenista-Obsessions  

    • Above: Fruits are high art in the Instagram feed of Smit Farms (@smitfarms). 

    Marble-Milkweed-pinterest-gardenista-obsessions

    • Above: As fans of the botanical-based apothecary Marble & Milkweed, we love perusing through the team's In The Garden board.

    For more Gardenista, be sure to check out our most recent issue Homesteaders

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    Revisit the greatest gardening hits of 2015 with us this week: 

    Table of Contents; Best of 2015

    Above: For more of this garden (and cat), see 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from South Africa.

    Monday

    Ikea glass greenhouse hindo ; Gardenista

    Above: Ikea's best new garden product for 2015? The Glassy Greenhouse.

    Tuesday

    Curb appeal perennials garden front yard landscaping ; Gardenista

    Above: See 7 New Ideas for Front Yard Landscaping in this week's Curb Appeal post.

    Wednesday

    houseplants bedroom Portland OR Emily Katz ; Gardenista

    Above: Join us for The Big Debate: Plants in the Bedroom?

    Thursday

    Steel Factory Windows and Doors, Gardenista

    Above: Erase the boundaries between outdoors and in with steel factory windows in this week's Hardscaping 101 post.

    Friday

    london-edible-garden-front-yard-sam-tisdall-gardenista

    Above: We pay a call on a tiny 800-square-foot brick house with an enormous vegetable garden in the front yard (the proportions look perfect to us).

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    From the Department of Famous Love Letters:

    In 1941 when a young Charles Eames proposed marriage to Ray, he wrote, "I am 34 (almost) years old, single (again) and broke. I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon. I cannot promise to support us very well. But if given the chance I will sure in hell try."

    He sure in hell did. In 1945, the designer began brainstorming ideas with fellow architect Eero Saarinen for a pre-fab house where the Eameses could live in LA's Pacific Palisades. By the time the iconic modernist home was built four years later, the design had changed radically—because of the garden.

    Nearly 70 years later, Case Study House No. 8 and the 1.4-acre property that inspired the Eameses' work for the rest of their lives remain intact, overseen by the nonprofit Eames Foundation. The other day photographer Mark Robinson (whose online shop OEN is one of our favorites) visited with his camera:

    Photography by Mark Robinson except where noted.

    eames-house-meadow-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Daniel Schreurs.

    The original plans called for a cliffside house to overlook the ocean. But post-war steel shortages caused delays. Waiting for construction materials to become available, the Eameses picnicked on the property and fell "in love with the meadow." To preserve it, they changed the design of the house.

    eames-house-exterior-facade-gardenista.

    Above:  Photograph via LA Places.

    Built in 1949, the house was redesigned to fit into the landscape and became the home of the husband-and-wife design team for the rest of their lives (Charles died in 1978 and Ray died 10 years later).

    eames-house-la-garden-view-gardenista

    Above: A shaded patio, with a corrugated steel overhang, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows connect the garden to the living room.

    eames-house-la-landmark0living-room-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Ricardo DeAratanha via Los Angeles Times.

    The living room has a 17-foot-high ceiling and 10-foot-high potted houseplants to reinforce the connection to the natural surroundings. 

    eames-house-la-living-room-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Ricardo DeAratanha via Los Angeles Times.

    Among the artifacts original to the house is a ball of dried tumbleweed that hangs from the ceiling; the Eameses collected it on their honeymoon in 1941 as they drove from Chicago to the West Coast.

    eames-house-la-gravel-path-gardenista

    Above: The house, preserved in its original state to the extent possible, has had plumbing and electrical repairs (and original fabric recently was re-glued).

    eames-house-facade-la-landmark-gardenista

    Above: The Eames house and garden are open to visitors; to make a reservation, see Eames Foundation.

    eames-house-la-maple-tree-seedling-gardenista

    Above: A seedling seeks the light.

    eames-house-la-patio-chairs-gardenista

    Above: Originally designed as a metal chair in the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames' a Molded Plastic 4-Leg Side Chair with a metal frame now has a seat and back made of recyclable polypropylene. The Eameses "continually updated their work as new materials became available," according to Design Within Reach, where the licensed design is available in 13 colors (including white, as shown) for $319 apiece.

    Above: The Eames house is at 203 Chautauqua Bloulevard, Pacific Palisades, California.

    For more Eames design, see:

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