May Arrives

A petite bouquet tucked into my closet window.


It’s nearly 1 pm on May Day and I’m just now getting into the studio. Just now thinking about this post! It’s been that kind of week so far. Which, might not bode well for the remainder of the week.

So, it’s a slow running day. Slogging, if you will. I picked up new glasses, much anticipated glasses, last Friday—and I’ve been struggling to adapt to my new prescription over the weekend. My eyes are exhausted and over taxed due to some sort of crazy blooming alder out-side. I’ll post photos when my eyes don’t look like they were just stung by a bee.  The adjustment to focusing differently has made me tired and, in an odd parallel, made it difficult to me to focus on work. I’m just a bit scattered. Exhibit A: this post!


I don’t know why, but I was enchanted with the aftermath. . . 

And it’s not been the best weather today for delivering presents, though I did get all of ours in place this morning—I’m hopeful our May Day presents won’t be a soggy mushy mess by the time my neighbors discover my gesture. I never think about water-proofing packages until I’m running for the car in a down-pour with a package tucked in my sweater. I attached little hang tags to the plants that said, “Happy May Day from the Oates Larsen Family.” Or, that’s what I hope they will still say after a few hours in the elements. Otherwise, my neighbors will be utterly confused. 



And I did manage to cut a few lilacs for the house this morning. I put a lovely bunch by my bedside—which might not be the smartest choice, considering all the allergy related bottles and medications that are already crowding my nightstand. But that fragrance is the prettiest thing to wake up to in the morning. And I’m already walking around with half sealed eyes, what a bit more pollen? 



In case you’re wondering, lilacs don’t  last long in vases. But you can do a few things to help prolong the experience:

  • Cut early in the morning. And choose stems that haven’t completely bloomed yet. 
  • Cut the stems on an angle. Use a serrated knife not scissors. Split woody stems up 1″. 
  • Place in warm water. Never set the vase in direct sunlight.


Happy May Day! 

May Day Gifts: Fabric Wrapped Potted Plants

Who doesn’t love a sweet Viola wrapped up in vintage fabric and baker’s twine? 


It’s hard to believe May is nearly here.  I usually give little bouquets of lilacs to our neighbors for May Day—trimmed from our massive lilac in the back yard. But this year my tree is looking a bit put upon. Every time I venture into the backyard with shears it says, in what I imagine to be the most perfect of southern drawls, “You’re friendly with HOW many neighbors? You’re planning to cut HOW many bouquets?” 

My lilac tree might have a point this year. New energy has moved onto our street and we’ve mended fences with others. The number of May Day gifts are growing past what my tree can endure without feeling naked when I’m done. Clearly, it’s time to plant more lilacs!

So, this year for May Day, I decided to wrap up some adorable violas in a stash of vintage hankies and pocket squares I’ve been hoarding. I love the result, don’t you? It’s an easy project to do! And you could just as easily use a bit of fabric if you don’t have hankies floating about. (Just pink the edges for a pretty touch and keep the edges from fraying too soon.) 

I still need to find small tags to put on these lovelies; but then, I have until tomorrow. Nothing like a bit of procrastination.

Want to know how I made these? There’s a wee tutorial below the jump. And really, you still have time to spread a little joy in your neighborhood tomorrow.

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Earth Day Project: Tea Tin Herb Garden

My Earth Day Project: Filling these stunning tea tins with fresh herbs. (Tins from Harney and Sons, Mint from Brim’s)


This weekend delivered the most beautiful weather to the coast. Not just one day, either… but 3 glorious days of  much needed sunshine.  Lawn mowers hummed, neighbors chatted in their yards; with a collective sigh, we cleared out the cobwebs of winter and ventured outside. Our street looked like a tv ad for Home Depot. 

Some of us even got a touch of a sunburn. (time to buy more sunscreen!)


IZ and I spent the better part of the weekend, like our neighbors, reclaiming our yard and porch. In our case, there was such a huge build-up of construction debris on the porch, we decided to empty it and give it a good scrub down. Hours of elbow grease later it’s gleaming out there. “If you squint your eyes, it looks like we just painted!” (if you don’t look down at the floor) Or so my industrious husband would have me believe. 

The porch truly is beautiful, even with the chippy paint. We had our first out-door brunch of the season (which we were too busy eating to even think about photographing) and we got so excited about the lovely weather we even put up the bunting early. 

We also did a little gardening. In my case, clearing out the shade bed and replanting the holes that didn’t make it through this very weird winter.  And I planted this adorable Herb Garden in Tea Tins.

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages with all my left over Harney’s tins.  I have lots of them, since I’m such a huge fanatic and it’s hard to throw them away, they’re so pretty. An herb garden seemed like a great use for a few of them. I’ve posted the short tutorial below the fold; it’s super easy to do and bonus, you get to use a power tool! 

I think the little garden turned out beautifully. The perfect project for Earth Day.  Directions under the jump! 

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Tea Tins and Roses

Vintage Tea Tin + Party Colored Roses = My Favorite Floral Arangement


Vintage Tins are thrift store staple. You can usually find them for a couple of dollars—typically a bit dinged and scratched, but that just adds to the charm. Newer tea tins will work too; I especially love Harney and Son’s Tea tins. The tea is amazing and the tins are so pretty, I use them all around the house! 

Tip: Most Tea tins aren’t water tight. But you can easily protect your furniture by using a zip lock baggie as a water proof liner.  You won’t want the zipper part but basic plastic bags are too flimsy to work. Just set the bag into your tin and cut at 3/4″ above the edge. Fill with water and arrange your flowers. 

Burning Soy Candles


Winter Holiday Candle — Exclusively at Mireio

Last year, I posted this on my personal blog and I thought Mireio readers might like to see it now. Below you’ll find my whimsical approach to burning soy candles. It’s packed with great tips on how to  get the best burn life from your soy candle. And a solution if you’ve drowned your wick and your candle will no longer light.

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Did you know that soy wax has a memory? Yep! It’s sentient and while you sleep it schemes ways of exacting its revenge! Apparently, it’s not too keen on being lit afire and being made to melt into viscous pools.  Ok, I exaggerate, but truth be told it does remember its last burn—and if you don’t maintain your candle properly, give it a little attention now and again, it can eventually burn itself out long before the wax is used. It’s a lot like love in this regard. You don’t get to light it and walk away! You have to fan the flames a bit. And now I’ve seriously run amok with a metaphor. Kick the dead horse, Wende, kick it! Ahem.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I thought you might like to know how to help your candle burn to its full potential. As it turns out, burning a soy container candle properly is rocket science.

You know what I said about not being able to light a candle and walk away? Yeah, I meant it. For safety reasons, please, please, please never leave a lit candle unattended. If you do light a candle and get, uh, distracted by that darling man you married and his proffer of champagne and moonlight, make sure that candle is out of kicking distance. Or tipping distance. Or tossing the pillow off the bed distance.  He might want to set the night on fire, but trust me there is nothing sexy about the fire department coming to your house when you’re in your underwear.  So, burn candles when you’re not burning–or make sure they’re out of reach.

And while you’re keeping them out of kicking reach, keep them out of drafts as well. A draft can cause a wick to drift far from center. Left or right, makes no difference—if your wick isn’t centered, it can’t reach its zen potential and that, my friends, will only lead to heartache.

You know what I said about candles and memory? Well, it turns out, soy wax’s memory might be longer than yours. It remembers its first burn. Ok, who forgets their first burn? Nobody, but wax especially remembers. And if it’s not a good burn, then your candle is on its merry way to being cold in no time. To keep that from happening, a first burn means your candle should burn until there is a wax pool across the entire width of the candle.  Get that? Entire width. If you blow that candle out before the entire top has melted, then the next time you light your candle it will burn consistently smaller and smaller circles until it no longer lights. It’s called tunneling, and it can happen to candles from the best of families.

You know what I said about trimming the wick to 1/4″? Ok, now you’re just making stuff up because I didn’t say diddly about trimming wicks. But you should. I’ve personally found that 1/4″ is too short. Make it a generous 1/4″ to keep that wax burning all the way to the edge.  If you find that the wick drifts away from center, gently move it back to center AFTER you blow out the candle. Moving wicks while they’re still burning is courting disaster.  Oh, who am I kidding? You’ll try moving it while it’s lit because you’re the kid who just had to put the key in the light socket. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, what happens if you don’t follow the rules and your candle starts to burn itself out? You’ve neglected to give your candle the proper attention it needs to thrive and it dies from your lack of care? What then, you lament. Whatever can you do?

Get a spoon.

That’s right, you heard me, get a spoon! Turns out, soy wax is very soft and is easily scraped out with an ordinary spoon. Scrape the excess wax along the side of the candle—the edges that you didn’t let completely melt the first time! Scrape it down until a generous 1/4″ of wick is showing and the top is fairly even. Then, grab your hair dryer—position the nozzle just high enough to melt the wax without blowing it and turn the dryer on. Keep heating that top layer of wax until the ENTIRE SURFACE melts to the edge. Why? Because soy wax has a memory. And you’re making a new one!

If that wax pool ends up being too deep, so that it drowns your wick, pour off the pool. Wipe down the inside edge of the candle. You should have an even top, an exposed wick, and a second chance at hot, hot burning love. Wait until the wax has completely cooled before re-lighting.

And this time. . . don’t neglect to keep the home fires burning. The entire surface. To the the edge.