Apr 24, 2014

Garden Update

The new plants I ordered back in February arrived. Of course, we were totally unprepared! I should have been ready with new/expanded beds prepped, but winter stayed so late this year we are just way behind schedule. The forsythia is still blooming for goodness sake. So we found spots for what we could, and the rest were given temporary homes. Hopefully they will survive a second transplanting if I’m really careful...

The one thing that had a designated spot was the hellaboris. I wanted it to have a spot where we can see it from the deck/dining room when it blooms in the late winter. Originally I wanted to put it in the planned mailbox garden, until I remembered that if we had another winter like this one, it would have been buried until 6 feet of street snow until April! What’s the point of an early bloomer if it’s buried under too much snow? So instead I found it a good home out back.

Next to the hellaboris on each side are two temporarily placed plants - the perennial snapdragon and one of the Autumn Joy sedums. The other temporary 2 sedums are in the bed over by the quince and crepe myrtle tree, along with the echinacea. I actually did want to plant another flower in this bed, but I’m not totally sold on it being the echinacea (I planned to put this one down by the mailbox). Things will probably shift around in the future, but for now I’m just glad to have everything in the ground instead of wilting and dying in their sad little plastic bags.

And while we're looking at this garden bed - check out the quince! Last year we had just a couple of blooms when we finally figured out what it was. I'm so glad we saved it from a twig in the grass, I'm so glad we didn't give up on it. It's an even more gorgeous shade of coral in real life.

Back to planting - last but not least, this vine was a gift from a totally different shipment that arrived this week. We were given a second clematis vine and it's part of why we decided to make our trellis so wide (so the two root systems don’t run into each other). Our existing purple clematis will grow 8-10 ft tall, so we are going to let that one primarily have “ownership” over most of the trellis for beauty and privacy. The new vine will grow to 20-25 feet - perfect for covering the roof of the pergola with green leaves and pink flowers. So we will train that one to grow up and over.

Lastly, indoors my tomato seedlings continue to grow. They are getting so tall. With the late spring this year I'm concerned that the tomatoes will be ready for the garden before the weather.

This year Oliver has yet to knock the tray over and instead tells me we will “go do-may-does” (grow tomatoes) when pointing at the seedlings. I might have a little gardener on my hands. We really need to get the peas in this weekend, which means adding more dirt to the raised garden beds in back. I also have to do some serious weeding back there - so much to do, so little time.

Apr 23, 2014

Pergola Styling: Curtains

Back in November we went to Ikea and bought a long black curtain rod and two sets of gauzy white curtains for the pergola. I couldn't wait for spring to put them up. I thought they would look beautiful blowing the breeze and provide just the right amount of shade/light diffusion in the mornings when the roof doesn't quite provide shade yet.

Well it was finally spring, so I decided to put them up. Installing the curtain rod was as easy as installing one in the house and only took a couple of minutes with the drill. Then I put the mosquito netting curtains up with visions of tropical breezes…

… and well, it looks like a wedding dress. Or a giant bridal veil. Either way, our pergola isn’t getting married. I thought the white would be clean and fresh with a hint of the tropics. Instead all I see is wedding, wedding, wedding.

I sat for a while on the patio trying to weigh my options and decided it was the color that was the most problematic. So I ordered some RIT dye off of amazon in teal to see if I could come up with something that would look similar to the chairs or the umbrella. I figured the curtains were so inexpensive and will probably only last a season (maybe 2 if we’re lucky?), so what do we have to lose?

I'll share my adventures in dyeing when my teal dye shows up...

Apr 22, 2014

Kitchen Plates

With new artwork in the dining room, it was time to make a new home for the peacock plate. The blank wall in the kitchen above the light switches was the perfect place. I’ve also had this other bird plate (a lovely gift from a lovely friend) in blues, greens and aquas that would pair so nicely with the peacock. It’s been living on our hutch for a long time.

I really like the way they look together on the wall.They both have gold rims, they both have birds, they both look nice with the living room wallpaper.The view gets even better when you include the plates and the new artwork in the dining room…

And then from the dining room…

I’m definitely happy with the fresh new look!

Apr 21, 2014

Dining Room Artwork

Our dining room wall looks a little different. It used to look like this:

And now it looks like this:

I inherited a new piece of art for our dining room, a framed watercolor print. It’s the perfect size and dimension for this little wall. I love it. It's bright and cheery. I also love how the green walls pull out the soft greens in the artwork.

Apr 18, 2014

Shade Seeking

When Georgia was young, she loved sunbathing. She would lay out in the yard and bake in the heat. However, like most ladies of a certain age, she now actively seeks out the shade. We don't want to make any of those wrinkles worse.

Apr 17, 2014

New Dining Room Basket

By the back door in our dining room was a small basket on the floor below the hooks. Before we had a baby, this was a perfect solution for quick access to outdoor things we might need - a bottle of sunscreen, bug spray, pruners, twine, scissors, a citronella candle, etc. It functioned well but didn't look very good, so I was always careful to conceal it in photos. Check out that well placed curtain in the right corner.

Then Oliver came along and we suddenly had 15 different types of sunscreen, little hats, toys, and a dozen different possible things he might need outside. And then Oliver became mobile and suddenly everything was dangerous or messy and this solution stopped working for us. We had to put stuff in bags on the hooks or pile it on the chair. It grew overwhelming, cluttered, messy. It was time for a change.

At Target I hit the decorative storage isle, mulling over all of their basket options. They have a lot of really great stuff over there, but I had to be picky. The space is narrow so I couldn’t get anything too wide. Most narrow options were too small. A hamper was too tall, but I loved the idea of a lid. I also didn’t want to spend much.

Then I saw it - these canvas Bento boxes from Rubbermaid. They are so cool! And they happened to be very on sale (sorry the sale is over now, but the price is still pretty darn good for how great these are). Inside you can adjust the liners in different ways to hold stuff! The material is a durable plastic canvas. There are lids available that double as trays - perfect.

I love how the liners inside create cubbies to organize our stuff. And the lid hides everything away, making it much less tempting for Oliver to want to unroll the twine again (and of course anything dangerous like pruners and scissors still reside elsewhere).

I can also stack things on top of the tray now too, which is great because let's face it - there are just way too many toys to corral. As much as I want to believe we're going to live with the box neatly tucked away in the corner forever, really it's going to look more like this all summer long:

We tend to rotate bath and pool toys to keep things fresh, but I like to store them inside so they stay clean. At least the pool/water table bucket can stack neatly on top of the box when the weather warms up.

Apr 16, 2014

Pergola Trellis Building

Building the trellis wasn’t too bad, we got the whole thing built in a few hours. Mike bought the lattice in 2 pieces of 2’x8’. All of the pieces for the frame are leftover from the pergola project, which is why one of them is stained brown already.

We had one 2x4 at 12 feet, so Mike cut it down lengthwise with the circular saw just like we did for the pergola. Then he cut all 3 12 foot strips down to 97 inches, leaving 3 47 inch pieces for the horizontals. It’s really nice when things work out so neatly.

The lattice also had to be trimmed down to 88 inches tall. Originally I wanted it to be 89 inches, but we realized that would leave it touching the ground.

Once everything was cut I put the frame together with 2.5” exterior wood screws. I drilled pilot holes first with the drill, then used the drill to put it all together.

Then using the nail gun I attached the lattice to the back. I was so proud of myself for getting it together so quickly. I went to pick it up off the driveway and admire my work… and then realized it was STUCK to the driveway. I totally forgot to account for the length of the nails in the nail gun. They were too long. They were so long I nailed the whole freaking thing into the driveway.

I had to call Mike back over for help. Together we got it unstuck from the driveway and then I had to check out the damage.

It was pretty bad but salvageable. So many of the nails bent they didn’t want to come out. Instead we cut the nails sticking out the front with wire cutters and patched the holes with wood filler. I finished attaching the lattice in the loose spots with shorter nails.

From there we put it up. I dug 3 holes in the garden bed and we put the big, heavy trellis in. It was too high on one side, so we pulled it out, did more digging and tried again. It took some finagling but eventually it was just right. We attached it to the pergola with the nail gun and buried the feet. It’s really on there - we pushed really hard and can’t get it to budge.

Done! Now it does lean a little bit towards the pergola, but we knew that was going to happen ahead of time. The pergola is flush with the patio, the garden bed starts after that. We couldn’t get it any closer because of the buried outer plastic edging of the patio that holds it together. Once the whole thing is covered in vines, it will be less obvious and honestly it doesn’t bother me. I just can’t wait to get it stained!

Apr 15, 2014

Pergola Trellis Plan

Back in the Fall, we ran out of time to build a trellis for the pergola and the clematis vine. Having the winter gave us extra time to think about our plans. We decided that we wanted it to serve two purposes - not only to give the clematis a structure to grow up, but also to add a little bit of privacy using lattice and making it a little wider.

The new plan was to make it about 4 feet wide, and of course the height of the pergola top. This will add the additional privacy and make it feel more like an outdoor room. I think it also just balances better, using two 2ft lattice pieces.

The 3 vertical frame pieces will be long on the bottom so we can bury them in the garden bed for extra stability. The top will be attached to the main beam of the pergola with the nail gun.

I am planning on staining the whole thing the same dark brown as the pergola. I know it’s a lot of dark brown wood at this point, but long term it will look really good with the vines growing up and over. In future summers when the vines are established, hopefully there will be lots of green and pretty flowers too.

Here’s what it will *hopefully* look like when it’s up:

Apr 14, 2014

Easter Baskets

With Easter fast-approaching, I finally had a chance to finish Oliver’s Easter Basket.

The basket is another adorable felt number from Target, a frog similar to the fox one from last year. I recycled last year’s plastic grass too. There’s a sweet little dog made of a t-shirt material. Bunny ears with green gingham. We also got him a bag of plastic sand/gardening play tools that were on sale for like $2 at Target. He really likes water cans and big shovels, so we thought it would be fun for him to have his own outside.

Of course, Georgia gets her own mini basket. She gets her own stuffed bunny dog toy. Some dog cookies in the shape of bunnies and hearts.

Check out that puff tail on the back of that bunny! It’s hilarious. I should have bought 2.

Apr 11, 2014

Puppy Love

In those moments where Oliver and Georgia are nice to each other, and love each other, I can't get enough. More often than not these days they fight like siblings - never really hurting each other, but more like pinching, poking, annoying one another. But when they are sweet I just melt.

Apr 10, 2014

April Showers Bring Spring Cleaning

With the warm(ish) weather comes the urge to go outside and garden, and the urge to clean the house top to bottom. We started the early garden. We pulled out the patio furniture, the rolls of bamboo for the top of the pergola, and strung up the globe lights.

The house had a good scrubbing and I got some much needed organizing done. Like I managed to pare down 5 years of paperwork that filled a huge box to fit in 5 binders. Down in the basement during the reorganization I made room for several tubs for all my crafting and art supplies - I finally cleared my desk area to be a usable work space again.

I reorganized my cosmetics in the linen closet. I cleaned up my houseplants from a long winter.

I brought in more forsythia branches in the living room and they bloomed beautifully along with the Easter Tree for some much needed color. The bright yellow goes so beautifully with the wallpaper.

Now that I have a taste for reorganizing, I’m ready to hit up my closet. Swap the winter gear for spring and summer clothes. Put the wool sweaters into cedar.  Box up the boots in favor of ballet flats and strappy sandals...