8 McDowell


By |2017-10-17T16:56:26-04:00October 12, 2017|8 McDowell, Friday Flowers, Garden|

It’s mid-October and time to think about cleaning up your garden!

With the unusually warm weather that many of us have been experiencing, it may be hard to think about putting the garden to bed for the winter. But we all know it must be done! So I’ve made a mini-checklist for you of autumn garden chores.

Here is my front garden…looking a little worse for wear as it begins to close down for the season.


Your Checklist to Ready the Garden for Winter:

  • Cut back your perennials. Yes, cut them down almost to the ground.
  • Be SURE to put plant markers in the ground to mark the spot for each plant. Many perennials will completely disappear: you will have no idea who or what was where!
  • Dig up and discard the annuals. No, they most probably will not come back and will only look very sad throughout the winter..
  • Fertilize your azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and all acid loving plants.  I use Espoma Organic Holly-tone Fertilizer. It is the best for any acid loving plant. Read the label and see if it is appropriate for you. But do use it twice a year and you will definitely see a difference. My Encore Azaleas were just not blooming well […]


By |2017-10-01T14:19:04-04:00October 1, 2017|8 McDowell, Shopping|

There are so many products out there to help keep us, and our house, clean.
How to decide which to use?

Let me give you some suggestions!

My Number One suggestion and recommendation is
Savon de Marseille

You may have seen these square blocks of soap either on a trip to France, or in certain stores. Traditionally this soap has been used for personal washing. Well, for me it is my go to soap for laundry. Have a spot on a washable fabric? Wine, berries, grease, coffee…. you name it, it comes out with this wonderful time-tested chunk of soap. Wet the fabric, rub the block of soap over the stain, rub in with your fingers a bit. Let it sit a while if necessary. If the spot is not entirely gone, repeat. Then put in the washer as usual.

It’s almost magic! Stains are gone.

The soap has been used in France (where it is made) to get rust stains out of old linens. It helps restore antique fabrics in a way that whiteners just cannot do. If you want to soak a large piece try shaving the block of soap and mix the shavings in water, then add the fabric […]


By |2017-11-03T14:49:27-04:00September 24, 2017|8 McDowell, Shopping|

We all have electrical outlets. Everywhere. And until now they were pretty ordinary and just…well, they just did their job. Right?

SnapPower: The Outlet Reinvented


This is one very cool product! You simply replace your electrical outlet switchplate
with one from 
It takes about 5 minutes. See that tiny dot at the bottom of the cover? That is the light sensor so that when it’s dark, those 3 lights at the bottom come on as guidelight/nightlights. Nothing to do, nothing too turn on or off, no battery to run down.

We installed ours yesterday and it works beautifully! It’s in the kitchen, as you enter, and provides a perfect light in the dark.

And, product #2 that we tested:

The SnapPower USB Charger


Again, this is one cool product! Same idea: replace your current outlet cover with this one. Except that this one has a built-in USB charger at the bottom! So easy and convenient. I am using one in my office now and loving it.

We are definitely going to order more. And they have other products: lightswitch nightlight plates […]


By |2017-01-21T20:13:05-05:00January 22, 2017|8 McDowell, Cooking|

Festive and very delicious:
raspberry and cornmeal muffins with a touch of lemon zest.

I prefer my muffins small…and these were perfect. The cornmeal makes them crunchy, and the raspberries “dissolve” when cooking.


I was going to post this just before Christmas, thus the mini colored balls. Hmm. Somehow it was delayed…



Here’s the recipe for all to enjoy:

Recipe type: Baked Goods
Serves: 15 small muffins
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbls. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tbls. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 large […]


By |2016-12-18T16:21:53-05:00December 18, 2016|8 McDowell, Holiday|

It’s time to show you something of Christmas and the Holiday season around our house.

The white picket fence in front of our house, with a black iron gate, is the perfect backdrop for a wreath. This boxwood wreath is from Southern States in Carrboro and decorated, very minimally, with Nandina berries from our own bushes.


Holiday greens all ready for a photo shoot! If you follow me on Instagram many of these images will be familiar. But I know many of you never see me over there, thus…I am posting here.

These simple, colorful and festive button daisies seemed so perfect for what I’ve wanted to do for ages: make some “mini-bouquets” in a wine glass!  Then I also added “Ornamental Potting Stone, Jade” from Terrain.  Take a look at all the many jars of different stones they have: the variety is amazing.
One jar goes a lo…ng way.


We have been entertaining! This was from two nights ago, showing the very cute place card holders I had bought in Paris, in the Village St. Paul. Water glass was a set given to my parents for their wedding. The small red one is […]


By |2016-10-20T17:27:25-04:00October 20, 2016|8 McDowell, Color, Friday Flowers, Garden|

Let’s pause with the travel posts (although an information-packed one is coming next week!) and talk about getting the garden ready for next spring.

Southern-States-Carrboro img_4130 Southern States in Carrboro, NC my go-to garden center.

#1 Suggestion:

Fall is, of course, THE time to do any planting. Your shrubs and perennials will thank you for getting them into the ground in the fall and NOT in the spring. By planting in the fall the plants have time to establish roots (below ground) before putting all their energy into flowering and growing (above ground.)  It’s tempting, of course, to buy buy buy in the spring when you can actually SEE the pretty flowers on each plant. But horticulturally speaking, it’s best if you buy in the fall when the plants look half dead and dormant. Believe me, they are not!

#2 Suggestion:

Let’s order some tulips!
If you have been reading my blog for a while you know how I love tulips. I order at least 100 bulbs each fall. And…..yes…..I pull out each and every tulip after it has bloomed. I do this for several reasons:

1)You can never know what is going to make it for the next year. No matter what your climate, from Chicago to North Carolina, many bulbs […]

Go to Top