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Caladiums: A Southern Garden’s Best Friend

Caladiums are my go-to plant and secret warriors as a Savannah-based gardener and landscape designer. Whether I’m working on window boxes, container gardens, curb-appeal front yards, or luscious back secret gardens, they never fail me!

Big, colorful leaves in so many varieties one would think they are entirely different types of plants allow them to work in every style of garden. But in the extreme climate of Savannah, with blistering sun, soaring humidity, and random spells of drought AND flooding, few plants can not only survive all season (March to November), but FLOURISH! Caladiums do- they love to be hot and toasty in soil, (so especially thriving in containers of any size) with at least a touch of daily sunshine needed. They constantly produce new leaves as needed, so if it’s a rainy spell and the leaves get soggy and die away, or a hot draught fries them up, new ones will appear in a matter of days.

Water them whenever- they are “the chillest” of laid-back plants! And best of all, a quart size container of them costs about $5 at Home Depot.

They especially pair well in any type of container garden (pot, raised bed, window box), with Canna or Areca Palms as the large tall “thriller”, sweet potato vine, Creeping Jenny or Wandering Jew as the “spiller”, and coleus, begonias, and foxtail ferns as fellow “fillers”.

How to sell your stuff: Taking photos of mirrors and other reflective surface

As someone who takes thousands of pictures of every kind of item, one area in particular scares me more than any other; the dreaded mirror or reflective surface (like a framed with glass piece of art).

My approach to photography doesn’t change based on where I am selling an item- whether it’s for pocket change on offer up, Facebook marketplace or pictures that have to be the best of the best for sites like Chairish- I always want to represent myself via my work in the clearest, most high-quality way I can.

So I bit the bullet, and started trying to shoot some of the many mirrored/ highly reflective items I currently have sitting. Right away, let’s be clear: for some reason, it is HARDER to shoot glass covered art than a mirror! Everyone expects to see SOMETHING- however abstract, in a mirror, but they don’t want to see anything that takes away from the art you’re selling.

See? Distracting!

So here’s my advice:

1) If shooting artwork that CAN be taken out of the frame/glass with relative ease, do it!

2) If, like me, what you’re shooting is either mirrored or in a frame so old there’s not a chance you can’t remove without harming the work, and you’re also like me and want to use a simple setup with your iPhone , here’s the trick:

•USE COMPLETELY NATURAL LIGHTING- no lamps on anywhere in the space

•pick a room where you can aim the reflective surface at THE MOST boring wall/ceiling that has no windows, fixtures- so that what is shown is…. nothing!!!! Your best bet is to iron a white clean sheet and lay the item on top of the sheet on the floor, with a mini ladder at the ready. Use the ladder to position yourself above the piece but far away enough as to not be IN the picture

I couldn’t find my ironing board, but still managed to get some half-decent shots yesterday I’ve yet to edit (crop and center)-

So much better than the day before!

Have fun and good luck!!



A Cheaters Guide to Open Shelving

Open shelving is gorgeous and cheap if done right (as Ana White did in the picture above). Especially in kitchens, open shelving actually gives you more space than upper cabinets (which tend to utilize the least amount of space available on a wall, with feet of wasted space above, below and to the sides). Furthermore, having your glasses, dishware, food, spices etc clearly visible has an immediate natural reaction: you can spot what’s extra, expired, needs cleaning, etc, making it effortless to accomplish something on everyone’s to-do list: de-clutter!

For my favorite “cheats” for mastering both the right looking and functioning open shelves but finding the absolute cheapest ways to do so. So right off the bat, if you have a normal person budget, you’d better nix that Pinterest happy idea of using pipes or “DIY floating shelves”. USING INDUSTRIAL PIPES FOR PROJECTS IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE WAY TO ACHIEVE AN ABANDONED WAREHOUSE LOOK! Unless you need steel pipes for a home improvement project, find any other of the limitless options and you’ll be saving yourself money, strength training (those things are HEAVY), and your sanity.

Pinterest loves to go on and on about DIY floating shelves- but have you ever looked at the building plans for this “easy” (HAH!) project? You might as well be building a car engine- they’re likely on par with one another in terms of immense complicated expert level laborious jobs. Also, floating shelves should only be used to hold VERY LIGHT WIEGHT- if you need some shelving for little pretty items, Target has some great already-made floating shelf options. Otherwise, you’re sadly stuck with the most affordable, highest quality, best performing and easy to make gorgeous options . Aw shucks. Between standard and decorative shelf brackets, your options are limitless. Also note that brackets can EASILY be made to look great with your space with a can of Rustoleum spray paint ($3-7/can, a can will coat 10+ brackets).

Corbels, which originally were (and continue to be) used in many places as an architectural staple of form and function for centuries, but also serve as an excellent refreshing and sturdy option to support shelves.

The prices of corbels can quickly Sky-rocket, and most people are tricked into buying unfinished and uninteresting corbels at any big box store for a starting price of $29 per corbel! You need at least 2 brackets/corbels per shelf, so 6 kitchen shelves could cost over $350 in shelf supports alone!! Insanity. But there is still hope, for Hobby Lobby has saved the day! Hobby Lobby has GORGEOUS corbels (my favorite is a lightly shabby chic distressed white painted scrolling real wrought iron that can hold a ton of weight) for less than $10-

Next up, the shelves themselves! Other than a good (not Black and Decker) power drill, no tools are needed to really knock it out of the park with the most gorgeous shelves ever! Here’s the big Cheat:

Go to Home Depot and purchase “stud worthy” pine or oak interior use 2×6’s” ($5.26 for an 8 Foot Long plank)

It’s no extra charge to have lumber cut to your size needs, which will be determined by your space and how you plan to lay out the shelves. My “go-to” size (especially for smaller shelves that are 6″ deep) is 24″, especially for kitchens. Have the 8 foot board evenly cut into 2 foot (24″) sections, so you’d get 4 cut real wood shelves for $5!

Now what? You can leave the wood natural or grab a can of “weathered wood accelerator” by Varathane

($10/quart)- in Home Depot as well paint section- simply wipe it over the wood and wipe away after a few minutes- it naturally oxidizes wood to replicate the drift wood affect and look in minutes- works insanely well, takes like 20 minutes total and is way too easy

Now get to work and open dem shelves up! 🙂

How to polish silver in 2 minutes!

Like everyone, polishing any silver, including silverplate and especially my ornate antique family pieces, was THE WORST chore of them all. By nature, I hate working with cleaners that stink up the house and seem dangerous to bare skin, like Tarnix.

While browsing Amazon a few months ago, a new product appeared: Weiman Silver Wipes

For $5 a can (containing 20 wipes each), with the promise of unscented and safe bare-handed indoor cleaning, I thought “What the hell” and bought them.


The wipes clean even the worst tarnish on any kind of silver as well as COPPER AND BRASS with no smell, bare hands, and faster than any other type of product available (and I’ve tried almost all).

Additionally, after cleaning with different products and letting time go by to track how quickly tarnish comes back, they beat out everything by a landslide, with not a hint of tarnish after 3 months.