How to Color Map Your Garden

Article by Caroline Biggs for Martha Stewart

a close up of a purple flower: These tips will help you organize your blooms by hue. The result? The prettiest ombré effect.

© Krisztina Kovacs / EyeEm / Getty Images


You can organize plenty of things by color, your garden included. Color mapping your flowers is a stylish way to arrange your outdoor space by hue, and it’s easier to pull off than you might think. “A color-mapped garden is a way of planning a garden design—including bloom, foliage, and vegetables—according to color,” says garden and landscape designer Amber Freda, who has a unique process (pictured below) for bringing her harmonious outdoor scenes to life. “A very simple way to do this would be to draw out the shape of your planting area, draw in bubbles that represent clumps of a particular type of plant, and then fill in those bubbles with colors using a marker, crayon, watercolor paint, or a drawing program on your computer.”

Along with providing aesthetic appeal, mapping out your garden’s colorways ahead of time can also streamline the planting process. “Creating a color-mapped garden design that feels cohesive and balanced in advance, rather than trying to do things on the fly, helps prevent the likelihood of winding up with haphazard, mismatched, or disorganized color schemes,” explains Freda. Looking to color map your own backyard blooms at home? Freda’s sage advice will help you get started.

Choose Your Hues Wisely

The first step to forging a gorgeous color-mapped garden is figuring out which hues you want to work with and making sure they complement each other. “Decide from the beginning which colors appeal to you most and pick a few that you think will look good together,” Freda says. “Try drawing out each of those colors and placing them next to each other to test them.”

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How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (or Any Holiday!) at Home

Article by Alia Akkam  for House Beautiful

a close up of a logo: Holidays have inevitably been upended in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Squashing once-jubilant plans is certainly disheartening, but staying at home doesn’t mean that these events should skid by without a little fanfare.

© Alice Morgan for House Beautiful Holidays have inevitably been upended in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Squashing once-jubilant plans is certainly disheartening, but staying at home doesn’t mean that these events should skid by without a little fanfare.

Like Easter, Passover, and St. Patrick’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and imminent annual celebrations such as Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo have inevitably been upended in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Squashing once-jubilant plans is certainly disheartening, but staying at home doesn’t mean that these events should skid by without a little fanfare.

According to Emma Carpenter, a marriage and family therapist at A Better Life Therapy in Philadelphia, honoring these moments is more important than ever now. “Over the past couple of months, the world around us has completely changed, leaving many people feeling unstable. Maintaining rituals of connection help us hold on to some sense of normalcy in all of this,” she says. By getting dressed up and making a favorite meal, say, on a wedding anniversary, “you’re gifting each other with the feelings of love and security that are so desperately needed in these dark and confusing times.”

Anxiety is pummeling all of us in different ways right now, but acknowledging an exceptional day with some indoor revelry will work wonders on your psyche. Here are six different ways to brighten round-the-clock routines.

Shake up original cocktails

Come Cinco de Mayo, bars are typically thronged with patrons, frosty Margaritas in hand. Elicit that same festive atmosphere in your own living room by upgrading ho-hum taco night with a libation starring smoky mezcal. Alex Negranza, bar manager at March, the forthcoming Houston restaurant from Goodnight Hospitality, recommends savoring it in his whip-up-in-the-blender Mezcal Escape, which pairs the agave spirit with the Czech herbal liqueur Becherovka, pineapple, honeydew melon, lime juice, and simple syrup. “I think everyone is wishing they could escape their house and sit on a beach and relax,” he says. “This tropical cocktail was designed to give you vacation vibes.” Bonus: Sans the booze, it still makes for a delightful afternoon quencher.

The Mezcal Escape (Serves two)

4 ounces pineapple chunks

4 ounces honeydew melon

2 ounces fresh lime juice

1 ½ ounces simple syrup or agave syrup

3 1/2 ounces mezcal of your choice (Negranza uses Mezcal Vago Espadin or Rey Campero Espadin)

1 ounce Becherovka Add ingredients, plus 8 ounces of ice, into blender. Mix. Remove from blender and pour into glasses.

On celebratory evenings where Mexico doesn’t serve as muse, Sean Umstead, co-owner of Kingfisher Bar in Durham, NC, suggests giving the Martini—undoubtedly a Cocktail-Hour favorite already in heavy rotation—the herbal treatment with the Herby Quarantini. “Steeping hardy, pungent herbs like rosemary, sage, or thyme in your gin 10 to 20 minutes before you’re ready to make a Martini elevates and changes a classic formula without too much extra work,” he says.

The Herby Quarantini

2 ounces Beefeater gin

1ounce Boissiere dry vermouth

3-4 sprigs of rosemary, thyme, or sage.Add the herbs to your gin at least 10 minutes before you are ready to make your drink. Lightly press them with a muddler or wooden spoon. Let steep until you are ready to make the drink. Remove the herb sprigs and combine the gin and vermouth. Stir with ice for 30-45 seconds until ice cold. Strain into a stemmed glass and garnish with a lemon twist, herb sprig, or a salty touch like an olive, onion, or pickled vegetable.

Home bartenders eager to weave some new glassware into their repertoire should consider the Elyx Cocktail Balloon Gift set. A glam, eco-friendly alternative to floating helium balloons, these oversized copper vessels are cheerful and visually alluring, exactly what you want to be sipping from during virtual fêtes.

Throw a virtual party

While you may not be able to serve up those cocktails to your friends in person, invite them to FaceTime or Zoom for a distanced catch-up.To make the group feel more connected, try sharing one drink or dinner recipe ahead of time and have everyone make the same thing to enjoy together, virtually. Or, for something more structured, check out our list of virtual activity ideas here.

Make a simple dinner that feels fancy

Kenny Gilbert, who has cooked for Oprah Winfrey and is gearing up to open a restaurant in Raleigh, NC, offers a fuss-free suggestion that feels fresh: red quinoa and jasmine rice congee. Place leftover cooked rice and quinoa into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. “Add fresh minced ginger and small diced onion with a little salt,” Gilbert points out. “Cool until the congee is a porridge consistency.” Garnishes, whether it’s a soft-poached egg, crispy sausage, or basil, are all up to you—and what’s conveniently sitting in your fridge. “Its versatile. You can go super simple or elegant. I personally love adding lots of fresh cilantro, sesame, chiles, light soy, and sambal,” he says.

Another easy way to add panache to any simple meal? Caviar, says Julia Sullivan, the chef/owner at Henrietta Red and the Party Line in Nashville. And, despite what you may think, it doesn’t have to be fancy: “My dad used lumpfish roe, which you can find near the tinned fish at a typical supermarket,” she says. “The lumpfish roe is preserved with salt, deliciously balanced by sour cream. He served it with Carr’s Table Water Crackers.”

Buy an offbeat bottle

Sparkling wine often makes cameos during special occasions, but there’s no need to splurge on a pricey bottle of Champagne. Brent Kroll, wine director/partner at Albi and proprietor/sommelier at Maxwell Park in Washington, D.C. is keen on such under-the-radar selections as the Luis Pato Baga Rosé Brut from Portugal’s Beiras region because of its fresh-berry and kombucha notes paving the way to a tart finish: “It’s fruity and floral with the bubbles of Champagne and has a little extra body.”

Eduard Seitan, a partner at Chicago’s One Off Hospitality Group who presides over the wine program at avec, recently took part in a socially distanced engagement party and chose to sip Fins Als Kullons, a natural red from the white grapes Xarel.lo and Garnacha Blanca and the red Sumoll. It’s light and fresh, he says, and “it drinks more like a juicy, umami-sprinkled rosé.” With all the resources available online (and many wine stores offering delivery or contactless pickup), now’s the perfect time to dive into natural wines.

Bake an easy cake

One surefire way to commemorate the day is by baking a glorious cake. And no, you don’t need a trip to the store: Angela Garbacz, owner of Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, NE, and author of the just-released cookbook Perfectly Golden: Adaptable Recipes for Sweet and Simple Treats, is partial to her straightforward vegan Depression-Era Chocolate Cake. “Simplicity is the most important thing to keep in mind when you are planning a celebration during these weird and unusual times,” says Garbacz.

“Look around your kitchen to see what you already have,” she urges. That might mean baking your favorite banana bread recipe in a round or square pan, and “if you don’t have the ingredients for frosting on hand,” she adds, “just sprinkle a good amount of granulated sugar on top of the cake before you bake it. That adds a nice, glittery, sugary crust that takes your cake to the next level. “

Los Angeles baker Amanda Faber, author of Cake Portfolio, co-host of Flour Hour podcast, and season-two winner of The Great American Baking Show, also encourages digging into the pantry for dried or fresh fruit, shaved chocolate, and sprinkles for experimental decoration. She also has some solid advice for those “concerned about a large, tempting cake sitting on the counter: Cake freezes really well,” she says. “If you want to bake a two- or three-layer cake, you can celebrate with one layer and wrap and freeze the extras for another day. It’s pretty comforting to know you have some spare cake waiting for you.”

Bring out beloved items

By now, chances are you’ve become familiar with every nook and cranny of your home, but a milestone is just the right time to invigorate your interior—and that doesn’t mean tackling a complex painting project or splurging on a new couch. Nina Garbiras, principal designer at NYC-based FIG Interior Design, has more thoughtful measures in mind. “Pull out the special pieces you love and find a way to use them,” she says. “I once mounted a client’s Victorian inkwell on the wall by her bed. It was gorgeous and had meaning to her and I loved the idea of having it be more than another piece of ephemera in her office.” Or, Garbiras adds, find rejuvenation in flowers. If you can’t get your hands on a proper bouquet, “a single fresh flower by your bedside or in the bathroom, or a small branch from a tree or bush outside on your daily meander, feels hopeful and romantic.

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May 7–National Day of Prayer


NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – First Thursday in May


The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May.  This day of observance, designated by the United States Congress, asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” The modern law formalizing the annual National Day of Prayer observance was enacted in 1952 and each year since, the President of the United States has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.


Use #NationalDayOfPrayer to post on social media.


Before 1952, there have been a few other individual National Days of Prayer in United States history:

  • July 20, 1775 – The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed.
  • In 1795 –  George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.
  • May 9, 1798 – John Adams declared this day as “a day of solemn humility, fasting, and prayer.”
  • March 1863 –  On March 3 Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional resolution, during the Civil War, which called for April 30, 1863, as a day of fasting and prayer.

For more information on National Day of Prayer visit the website



2020 National Day of Prayer Event Broadcast Promotion Banner

Celebrations of Mothers and Motherhood

Sculpture of four Mother Goddesses of Roman Britain

Four Mother Goddesses of Roman Britain.Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images


People in many ancient cultures celebrated holidays honoring motherhood, personified as a goddess. Here are just a few of those:

  • Ancient Greeks celebrated a holiday in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods.
  • Ancient Romans celebrated a holiday in honor of Cybele, a mother goddess, March 22-25 – the celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.
  • In the British Isles and Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid, and later her successor St. Brigid, were honored with a spring Mother’s Day, connected with the first milk of the ewes.


Mothering Sunday in Britain

Drawing of The Mother's Prayer. (Sculpture), By W.C. Marshall, R.A.
The Mother’s Prayer. (Sculpture), By W.C. Marshall, R.A.Liszt Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images

 Mothering Sunday was celebrated in Britain beginning in the 17th century

  • It was honored on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
  • It began as a day when apprentices and servants could return home for the day to visit their mothers.
  • They often brought a gift with them, often a “mothering cake” — a kind of fruitcake or fruit-filled pastry known as simnels.
  • Furmety, a sweetened boiled cereal dish, was often served at the family dinner during Mothering Sunday celebrations.
  • By the 19th century, the holiday had almost completely died out.
  • Mother’s Day in Britain—or Mothering Sunday—came to be celebrated again after World War II, when American servicemen brought the custom and commercial enterprises used it as an occasion for sales, etc.


Mother’s Day Statistics

Mother with infant
Kelvin Murray/Stone/Getty Images

• In the United States, there are about 82.5 million mothers. (source: US Census Bureau)

• About 96% of American consumers take part in some way in Mother’s Day (source: Hallmark)

• Mother’s Day is widely reported as the peak day of the year for long distance telephone calls.

• There are more than 23,000 florists in the United States with a total of more than 125,000 employees. Colombia is the leading foreign supplier of cut flowers and fresh flower buds to the US. California produces two-thirds of domestic production of cut flowers. (source: US Census Bureau)

• Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for many restaurants.

• Retailers report that Mother’s Day is the second highest gift-giving holiday in the United States (Christmas is the highest).

• Most popular month for having babies in the U.S. is August, and the most popular weekday is Tuesday. (source: US Census Bureau)

• About twice as many young women were childfree in the year 2000 as in the 1950s (source: Ralph Fevre, The Guardian, Manchester, March 26, 2001)

• In the US, 82% of women ages 40-44 are mothers. This compares to 90% in 1976. (source: US Census Bureau)

• In Utah and Alaska, women on the average will have three children before the end of their childbearing years. Overall, the average in the United States is two. (source: US Census Bureau)

• In 2002, 55% of American women with infant children were in the workforce, compared to 31% in 1976, and down from 59% in 1998. In 2002, there were 5.4 million stay-at-home mothers in the US. (source: US Census Bureau)

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Got Mulch ? Here’s How Much You Need.

Article by Arricca SanSone  for Country Living

Adding a layer of mulch to your planting beds is the best thing you can do for your garden this year. Sure, you’ll get hot and weary long before you’re done with the chore. But mulch offers a huge payoff: Beautiful beds, fewer weeds, and healthier plants. Here’s everything you need to know before pulling out all of those gardening tools androlling up those sleeves (and putting on your garden shoes and gardening gloves!) and getting started.

a colorful flower garden: From "How much mulch do I need?" to "What is mulch, anyway?", we broke down everything you need to know about this soil covering. So, before you roll up your sleeves and get going with your gardening, consult our mulch calculator and other essential tips. © Getty Images From “How much mulch do I need?” to “What is mulch, anyway?”, we broke down everything you need to know about this soil covering. So, before you roll up your sleeves and get going with your gardening, consult our mulch calculator and other essential tips.

What Is Mulch and What Does It Do?

Mulch—material made up of bark, leaves, or compost and used to cover soil—isn’t only about making your yard look neat and attractive. “One of its big benefits is that it helps conserve moisture in the soil by acting as a barrier to evaporation,” says John Esslinger, horticulture educator at Penn State Extension. “It also reduces the number of weeds and improves organic matter in soil, making your beds more productive over time.”

So, where should you mulch? Everywhere! Beds of annual or perennial plants, flowering shrubs, veggie gardens, and even containers benefit from mulch, which keeps the roots of new plantings moist as they’re getting established. And mulch protects tree trunks from string trimmers or mowers; just don’t mound it up directly against the trunk into a “mulch volcano.” That invites moisture and decay. “The organisms that break down mulch start working on the bark, too,” says Esslinger.

a dirt path in a garden: Garden Path with Mulch

© oday222 – Getty Images Garden Path with Mulch

How Much Mulch Do I Need?

A 2″ depth of organic mulch is ideal to retain moisture and keep down weeds, says Esslinger. But don’t go overboard: This is one time when more is not necessarily better. Plant roots need air to survive, and too deep a layer can suffocate roots and cause water to shed off the top of mulch instead of filtering through and soaking into the soil below.

The maximum depth you should apply depends on the type: Finely textured mulch, like shredded hardwood, shouldn’t be more than 3″ deep. Coarse textures, such as pine bark nuggets, allow more air movement so you can go up to 4″ deep.

First, figure out the square footage of your bed. Multiply width by length for square or rectangular beds—or for round beds, multiply the radius (distance from the middle to the edge of the bed) by itself, and then multiple that total by 3.14.

Keep in mind that mulch is sold by the cubic yard. One cubic yard of the material covers a 324-square-foot area an inch deep. So, to determine your total, multiply your square footage by the depth in inches desired, then divide by 324.

Here’s your formula: Square footage x desired depth / 324 = cubic yards needed.

a screenshot of a cell phone: how much mulch do I need

© Design: Emily Schiff-Slater how much mulch do I need Or, plug your measurements into an automatic mulch calculator. Lowe’s has a good one, as does this website.

Organic mulch means any type of natural substance that decomposes over time such as bark, wood chips, or pine needles. Straw is ideal for vegetable gardens. Replace mulch as needed, which is usually annually for fine or shredded types or every two to three years for coarser types like bark chips. Color is a personal preference.

Not all mulch is created equally. Avoid getting mulch from places such as your municipality’s transfer station, where yard waste is ground up and offered free to residents. For starters, you have no idea what’s in there. It may contain wood chips that are detrimental to other plants (for example, walnut trees contain a natural chemical that can inhibit growth). It also may include weed seeds and grass clippings that have been treated with herbicides. Stick with bagged or bulk product purchased from home improvement stores or nurseries.

Ready, Set, Mulch!

Make your mental health a priority this month

Image result for mental health images

©University of Sydney


Mental Challenges
Article by Kells McPhillips, May 1, 2020

Find your “anchors of normality”

The word “normal” has become tinged with nostalgia these days and Dr. Soph says there’s a reason why. “Our life has been tipped upside down. Everything that’s happening around us is creating a sense of uncertainty, which is activating our survival response,” she says. “When the brain is in survival mode, and it’s panicking about what’s happening, it’s looking for anything it knows so that it can go: ‘Okay, maybe it’s not as bad as I thought.’”

Give your brain that reassurance by choosing three to four things you used to always do during a regular day or week (these are called your anchors of normality)—and make them a must. It could be as simple as making sure to always shower in the morning because that’s what you usually did before work, or making time to practice yoga like you did pre-COVID-19. (Just make sure that these habits are still appropriate for social distancing measures, to ensure you’re not putting yourself and others at risk.) Add them to your daily to-do list or set calendar reminders if you have to.

Identify your coping styles

There are three types of coping that people turn to during difficult times—problem-solving coping, emotional coping, and avoidance coping—and knowing your go-to style can help you suss out the tactics that are helping you versus the ones that are hurting you.

“If it’s problem-solving focused, that’s where we think we can actually make some kind of change [to the stressor],” says Dr. Soph. For example, if your recent credit card bill is way higher than expected, you may find comfort in writing up a new budget to accommodate it—you have control over that situation.

The second type of coping, emotional coping, is what you turn to when you can’t necessarily take action to change a situation but instead want to change your emotions. This can look like leaning on your support networks of friends and family to feel better, says Dr. Soph, or writing down gratitude affirmations, or just playing with your pets—all of which can help improve your mood and help you better deal with a situation.

Last is avoidance or bypassing, where you deal with a situation by creating habits like self-blame that don’t ultimately serve any purpose. Dr. Soph says to be on high alert for this style of coping, as it can be ineffective and potentially harmful.

“Your coping style is something that you develop depending on your childhood experiences,” Dr. Soph says. You can identify yours by monitoring the knee-jerk reactions you have when you feel out of sorts. If your first go-to on a stressful day is to go for a run or eat a cookie, you likely tend to gravitate towards emotional coping. If you’re all about writing a to-do list to help you prioritize when you’re struggling against multiple work deadlines, you’re probably more of a problem-solving coper. Knowing your patterns will help you create healthier ones (or at least find more tactics that truly work for you).

Make an “eco map” of your social resources

When things feel really tough, it can be hard to know who in your life you can depend on for support. That’s why Jack Saul, PhD, is a strong proponent of eco-mapping, or making like a cartographer and creating a visual representation of your support network. Nurses are often encouraged to use this technique to track those who care about their patients, but in your case, you can whip out colored pencils, paper, the works, and go about drawing a map of your connections.

Mine, for example, would feature a stick-person me floating in a pink bubble, connected to a bubble containing my boyfriend, then my extended family, work-family, and various other pals. When you feel like your mental health feels off-balance, you can reach for your artwork to see whose voice is going to spark the most joy in your life. And, on the opposite side of things, this will help you remember who might benefit from your support.

For more mental health ideas and a 30 day challenge, go to:

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