Mar 3, 2015

Basement Boxes finally Reorganized

This isn’t really blog worthy or photo worthy, but I needed the motivation to finally get all the boxes organized down in the basement from my childhood. It was one of my big winter to-dos along with the upstairs hallway. It’s one of those emotional (everything has a memory attached to it!) and tedious (SO much stuff!) tasks that would have been easy to put off forever, so I’m relieved it’s finally done. The garbage bags are gone, the donation bags are lined up by the door, and the rest is organized in tubs.

The final task on our winter to-do list with the basement is the lighting/outlets. The fridge and freezer should be on their own circuit, so we need to add another outlet on that side. Then on the other side of the basement we desperately need another outlet or two over there for the electronics on the media cabinet.

And while he’s doing electrical, it’s time to address the lighting situation when we first come down there stairs - the light controlled by the switch at the top of the stairs turns on the light by the washer and dryer. Since splitting up the basement, it leaves the area when you first come down the stairs really dark at night. In the top photo I have the camera flash on because it would be impossible to see without it. In the second photo you get a better sense of how dark it really is.

Mar 2, 2015

Wishing for Spring on the Walls

We’re not changing the wallpaper in the living room anytime soon (I still love it and even 5 years later you can still get it at Anthropologie), but sometimes I think it would be fun to change things up. I think it’s the longing for spring, but I’m drawn to bright florals these days.

These in particular have really caught my eye. I think they would look great with the stained glass window and gray walls.

Anthroplogie | Hygge and West | Grow House Grow | Spoonflower

All that I would need to go with the new wallpaper are a couple new pillows... or maybe the snow will melt before I go completely stir crazy and the crocus will bloom.

Feb 27, 2015

Snow Buddies

As much as Oliver sometimes annoys Georgia, she never wants to go on a walk without him. It's fine if Mike or I stay home, but she digs her heels in and tries to turn around the entire walk if he's not there. (This is frustrating when it's dark and 10 degrees!) Georgia prefers a family walk.

Of course Oliver loves to take Georgia for walks. He often insists on holding the leash for a bit. Ollie's now at the age where he HATES the stroller, so our pace is slower than before, but he has good stamina and can make it surprisingly far for a little kid. Both of them know the "rules" of the road - where there are sidewalks we stick to the sidewalks without fail. We stop at every crossing and wait for the parent to declare it's safe to cross. And when we're on side streets without sidewalks, if there's a car we get to the side immediately (and hold an adult's hand until the car passes if we're Oliver).

Feb 26, 2015

When Radiators Leak

This actually happened right before President’s Day weekend, but that Friday we woke up to this.

That’s our living room ceiling, right under our bedroom radiator. Water was slowly dripping out of that crack.

It had sprung a leak overnight during a polar vortex, so basically the heat almost never shut off and the water dripped, dripped, dripped while we slept. We got the name of a good emergency plumbing/heating place who sent a great guy out the same day (we weren’t about to mess around with a DIY attempt when it was zero degrees and a holiday weekend looming). It was a quick fix and he had all the spare parts we needed in his truck, so it all worked out fine. And while assessing the ceiling damage we realized there was the shadow of a much larger patch and crack there - this had happened before, much worse. Knowing the history of how things were done in the house, the previous fix had been a cheap patch job that created a ticking time bomb we didn’t know about.

All other radiators have since been checked and two others were fixed - the one in the playroom had the same problem and another with a totally different issue (it wasn’t getting hot anymore so it was nice to have that fixed). Since then we haven't seemed to have any more problems, and hopefully one of these days things are going to warm up... though I'm not holding my breath because last year spring didn't show up until the very end of April and it was torture.

Now the ceiling looks like this. We need to patch it but we wanted to give things some time to dry out and then we’ll assess what we need to do. For now the ceiling is held together with drywall tape. It actually looks worse now because the original patch (done with paper!) started to curl as it dried. I'm also a little nervous because I have no clue what shade of white paint the ceiling is. After we patch there's a very good chance we'll have repaint the whole thing and that's a huge job with all our furniture...

Feb 25, 2015

2015 Other Gardening Plans

When the weather warms up I can’t wait to get outside and get my hands dirty in the garden. As always I have plans for the yard, this year in yard diagram form! Here’s our yard (updated last year) and what I want to tackle:

First of course there’s the rest of the fall yard cleanup I didn’t finish, then the usual weeding and mulching. I also have one more garden bed to widen (I got like 90% done last year and this back section wasn’t a priority). I want to plant the butterfly weed in the front mailbox garden, the asparagus in the back yard. Dahlia bulbs in the bare spots. I want to plant a few pots of flowers for the patio. And most importantly I’m hoping that all the beautiful plants we have come back after such a hard winter.

I also want to make use with what we have already. In our front yard, the astilbe plants are now so big they are crowding out my shrubs. I’d like to break them apart and move some around. There are some other plants in the back that need to be moved around as well. Last summer I saved sweet pea seeds and I’d like to try to grow some in the way back of our yard where we get irises and an array of other plants and flowers. It’s very wet back there so I don’t know if they would grow, but I think it would look really pretty against the fence.

Now... if it would just warm up a little outside...

Feb 24, 2015

2015 Raised Bed Garden Plan

This is the plan for this year’s raised bed garden. We follow a crop rotation schedule (more on that here), moving each bed every year to prevent pests and relieve the soil. This year is our 5th year of the garden (I can't believe so much time has passed) and we've finally gone full circle - every bed is in the same place as the first year we started. You can see our past years here: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

In the first bed we have the vines. Cucumbers on a trellis, musk melons on the other side on a trellis. In the middle I think we’re going to try to do zucchini and squash again. Last year we took a break because squash vine borers were destroying the plants, hoping to break the cycle. Instead we let the whole middle of the bed be watermelon, which was fun but... watermelons take forever to grow and despite my best efforts we still lost a bunch to rot. I'm hoping the break last year will give the zucchini and squash a better shot this year. We'll see.

In the second bed will be the flowers. Last year we tried giant sunflowers and it was really neat (they were taller than the garage!), but they took up a ton of space. The snapdragons didn't do very well either, even though I gave them extra room (hoping that would help). This year I want to get back to what has done well in the past - zinnias and more dahlias. I’m getting a new set of bulbs to help repopulate half of this bed and the other half will be zinnias (with a few snapdragons along the edge because I love them even when I only get a few).

In the third bed will be the herbs, lettuces, peas and beans. The oregano and thyme will be transplanted from bed 2 and we’ll buy rosemary and basil. On the tower we’ll do peas in the early spring and switch to green beans when the weather warms up. I haven’t had much luck with spinach (it’s too cold and then too warm) but we’ll probably try again anyways. Then there will be plenty of lettuce and a few carrots. We’ve also been doing rainbow chard back here and it does really well, more than we can eat, but I’m thinking about moving it to a showier spot in the yard because it’s so pretty. I'm on the fence right now (I have plenty of time to decide).

In the fourth bed we have the nightshades, which I reserve exclusively for tomatoes, because tomatoes are my favorite. It’s taken some serious trial and error, but last year I think we finally found the “magic” number of tomato plants for the garden that would produce as many tomatoes as possible without choking each other out or becoming unmanageable. The answer (for our garden) is 10-12 tomato plants, plus marigolds. I’ve planted as few as 7 and as many as 18 over the past few years. The 12 we did last year seemed to work out really well. Hopefully this year’s crop proves the "magic number" to be right again… we’ll see!

In the pots on the deck and patio we’ll have the citrus trees and peppers. Over the past few years I've been buying peppers from the nursery instead of growing them from seed because they do significantly better. I don't have the magic touch for peppers, basil or rosemary when it comes to seeds.

Last on the list is everything we've planted elsewhere in the yard, the bushes and perennials that keep coming back. The blackberry and raspberry bushes, the fig trees, the strawberry plants, the rhubarb and mint. The blueberry plants are still small, but they are growing - maybe this year or next year we'll see some flowers and fruit.

Feb 23, 2015

Dreaming of Green

We’re in the doldrums on February. The days are just a smidgen longer, the light is changing, and on a warm day you can almost feel the hope for spring... But it’s still dark very early, it’s still freezing cold , and it could be winter for another 5 weeks in NJ if we’re unlucky (or longer if we’re really unlucky!). In milder years we could start looking for the crocus, hellaboris and forsythia to come out in another week or two - but with a low tonight of -5 degrees (NOT including windchill), that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

So instead this week I’m dreaming of warmer weather and planning the gardens in the yard. Before I know it, I’ll need to start the tomato seeds. And it would be a good idea to get our order in for sprint plants. We don’t need much, but it would be fun to get a few small things.

I wanted to plant a butterfly weed in the mailbox garden last fall, but by the time we got the garden in (thanks to the street construction delays) it was too late in the season to order it. I also need to get a new set of dalhia bulbs - a few for the raised bed garden for flowers cutting and then a few more for some bare spots in the yard. This past fall I pulled up the dahlia bulbs late (due to the ankle injury) so I’m not sure the dahlias from last year will even come back. Last but not least on my shopping list, I think it would be fun to find a spot for some asparagus. It’s a cool weather vegetable so it comes up early, and I love things that come back year after year. It will take a few years before we can have our first harvest, so I’d like to add it in this year.

Photo credits: Seeds of Change | Wikipedia Commons | Rhode Island Dahlia Society

Feb 20, 2015

Bunny Thief

"The bunny is MINE now. MWHAHAHAHAHAHA!" 

Feb 19, 2015

It's the Details

I'm organizing the boxes in the basement of my childhood things. What do I keep? What do I get rid of? What goes in the attic?

What can we actually enjoy in the house right now?

This super cool painted box:

This teeny tiny vase for Valentines Day:

This wooden rocking toucan from South America, my dad brought it back for me from a business trip. I LOVED it when I was little and now Oliver is equally obsessed. It's really cute in the playroom:

Feb 18, 2015

Basement Mini Fridge

We picked out our new basement mini fridge! It’s a (much appreciated!) Christmas gift, one of those things we’d never have treated ourselves to but is already so great and convenient. It lives next to the deep freeze and is the perfect size. We just wanted something that could keep beer and extra milk cold. It will also be helpful to have the extra space for parties too.

Like the deep freeze and a couple pieces of furniture, the mini fridge is up on concrete pavers to keep it off the floor. We haven't had any water in our basement (knock on wood!) since Hurricane Irene, but we've been very cautious ever since.

Feb 17, 2015

A Few Things from The Weekend

For those who were lucky enough to have a long holiday weekend, I hope everyone enjoyed it! We certainly did, despite the weather in NJ being miserably cold. Last night it snowed a few inches and it’s so cold that the snow looks like glitter - it doesn't even look real. I don't think my picture does it justice, it looks like fake movie glitter snow...

We cut ourselves some slack last weekend, we spent a lot of the weekend relaxing and having fun. The things we tackled on the to-do list were more of the errand variety. Like eye doctor appointments and picking out new glasses (I love getting new glasses!), and a trip to the mall to make a couple exchanges and let Oliver run around someplace warm.

One thing I finally remembered to do was bring up my amaryllises from the basement, rehydrate them and put them in a sunny spot by the back sliding doors. It will be 8 weeks before they bloom, but I have a feeling that spring will be late and they will be a much welcome pop of color. It’s so cold, without a reprieve in sight… it feels good to have something “springy” to look forward to!

Unfortunately not everything was fun and relaxing. Right before our weekend, on Friday morning we woke up to this on our living room ceiling (complete with water slowly dripping out of it):

Our bedroom radiator sprung a leak. NOT something you want to see when the forecast is for lows below zero for several days straight. We had to call the emergency plumbing/heating guys, we know very little about fixing radiators and this was not the time to experiment before the holiday weekend. Luckily it turned out to be a quick fix. The weather was so cold that the heat was kicking on so frequently that the damage built up very quickly. We also realized upon further examination that our ceiling has been patched here before, so this was not the first time this happened. Now we're just waiting for things to dry out so we can inspect the damage and make repairs.

Feb 13, 2015

Spring Where Are You?

Enough with all this winter nonsense, Georgia is SO ready for spring. (Just in time for another polar vortex.)

Oliver doesn't seem to mind the snow though. Snow mountain climbing is actually quite fun.