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Summer Wrap-up!

21 Nov

First gardening summer is over, and there are definitely things that I plan on doing differently last year. Some of which I’ve already started on (see here).

Here’s what went wrong:

  1. I planted approximately 30 radish plants. They all seeded and the leaves looked pretty good, but there were zero radish roots, which, you know, if what you eat on a radish. Sad.
  2. My lettuce plants either didn’t grow at all, or were so puny I didn’t even bother picking and eating them. Seriously puny.
  3. I planted a couple different kinds of flower seeds. None of them seeded at all.
  4. The bees took over my compost pile.

So, looking at that list, it’s actually not so bad. But here’s how I’m planning on fixing those things:

  1. You know, St. Paul has an amazing Farmers Market that Chris and I live 5 minutes away from and love frequenting. There are many, many beautiful radishes to be bought, so I’m just going to let them take care of the radishes.
  2. See above, but replace “radishes” with “lettuce”. And lettuce only costs $1!!
  3. After I planted the seeds, my lovely mother told me that it’s really difficult to get flowers to seed. Since I had never planted any flower besides sunflowers, I didn’t know that. However, it’s not hard to get sunflowers to seed. I just happened to plant the sunflowers in the wrong spot, not knowing the tree next to it had gigantour leaves
  4. In the spring, before the bees awake from hibernation, I’m going to rebuild the compost bin. According to widipedia, bumble bees don’t nest in the same spot 2 years in a row, so I’m hoping for the best. However, I think there’s a hole that I don’t know about on the bottom of the compost, that by rebuilding I’ll be able to get rid of. I’m not going to try to do anything too pretty, but there’s a lot of plywood in the shed that Betty left that should do just fine.

And my other new ideas

  1. I want to build a rain barrel. This summer was great for rain, and I almost never needed to water anything. I doubt I’ll be that lucky next year, so I want to be prepared with a rain barrel.
  2. So, last year, my vegetables that were beautiful and delicious were green beans and tomatoes. Now, not all the tomatoes had time to ripen before the first frost, so I’m going to plant the tomato plants earlier (thank you, again, Farmers Market). Now, obviously, the @#$% deer ate my beans, so I’m going to try the suggest my aunt made and use liquid fence, since it doesn’t harm the environment or animals, but yet will keep deer, bunnies, squirrels, etc. out. Excellent. In addition to tomatoes and beans, I’m also going to try planting onions and green peppers. Maybe one day I’ll try lettuce and radish again, but I get the feeling my garden isn’t the best place for them.
  3. There are a couple sections of the garden that I didn’t do a thing to this summer, not wanting to overwhelm myself. But this year, I’m going to do some more pruning and planting. Part of the garden I didn’t get to has ferns and lilies that never flowered. I’m going to replant the ferns in another section of the garden, and just get rid of the lilies because I don’t have faith they’ll ever flower again. Instead, that’s where I’m planting the sunflowers, and I’m going to need some of that space for the onions and green peppers.

So, there you  have it. I love, love, LOVE having a garden. I stand in the kitchen and stare at it sometimes, just thinking about what else I could put in it, and looking at the pretty flowers. I never thought I’d be one of those people… Yup, I’m a grown up. I guess.

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So many things to do…only so much of a house budget.

13 Sep

Happy 1-year anniversary, house! So far, so lucky with the state of the house upon moving in. House (its proper name) was on the market for over 180 days before Chris found it after the price had been reduced by $30,000. Also, to move the house faster, Betty’s family re-carpeted the upstairs and the basement. The wood floors are in AMAZING shape, so maybe they buffed them up, but no serious work there. The walls and moldings were repainted the same color throughout the house: a sandy beige on the walls with an off-white on the moldings. Relatively safe and plain, but still quite nice. We painted the kitchen burnt tomato (or some name similar to that) because it has exposed bricks and is amazing (sneak peak here), well, now that it’s painted. We repainted a couple other rooms (see previous post about my sewing room), and had to reroof the house (stupid insurance agents!!!!), but that’s all. No new appliances (yes), only one leaking pipe, and no gas leaks (again, yet). But that doesn’t mean the house is how we want it. So here’s a list of what we want updated, in the order they’ll probably get done (or at least my order, Chris might have a different idea).

1.  Sand the walls and ceiling in our bedroom and repaint. (Too many coats of paint=peeling walls) We’re planning on starting this one this fall/winter. And related:

2.  Refinish the dressers in the bedroom and install new hardware. The wood is a different color than the bed frame, and I’m not a huge fan of the knobs, but they’re really good quality, so absolutely no reason to replace them. I wanted to paint them, but we “compromised” and decided on refinishing instead.

3.  Bathroom!! Bathroom!!! When we (and by “we” I mean Chris’s dad with assistance from Chris) fixed the leaking pipe and replaced the faucets in the tub and shower, the built-in bath (which was ugly to begin with) cracked in one spot. And it’s beige everywhere, so I die a little on the inside every time I go in there. We’re planning on a new sink and vanity from IKEA (already picked out!) And then we’ll tile the walls, and maybe the floor, too. A lovely blue color, like cobalt or something close.

LILLÅNGEN from IKEA

4. New refrigerator. Ours leaks. ‘Nuff said.

5. Remove the random dividing wall in the basement that holds the gun rack.

6.  New paving stones for the patio. And Chris wants a fire pit and chairs. I…don’t really care that much. But don’t tell him that.

7.  New carpet in the 3-season porch. It’s ugly. And update the fabric on the porch furniture. Currently, it’s dragonflies.

That’s all I can remember right now. Dexter Season 4 is on and it’s time to concentrate…

What’s that smell?!

31 Aug

So, I said in my last post that I’d write about my compost pile.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia>Compost

Well, it’s been a journey, let’s just say that…

I started said compost this winter, with the purchase of a garbage can at Target. Now, you can get really spendy with your compost bin. They have these crazy-shaped round monstrosities, but I wanted to stick with something simple (and cheap). You know what? I stand behind my choice. I just use plastic grocery bags as a liner (but always ALWAYS check for holes beforehand), and make sure the lid is firmly tight. But all spring and winter, the garbage can worked perfectly, and it will again. But right now, fruit flies are driving me and Chris crazy, so we’re keeping the compost in an old tupperware container in the fridge and emptying it every couple days.

However, the smell when emptying the compost bin is another story. I have to hold my breath, and I still gag. Ugh, nothing is a worse smell than the combination of banana peels, radish ends, egg shells, and kiwi skins.

Quiz! What can’t you put in a compost?

Answer: animal by-products! Or vegetables that have touched animal by-products! Or corn cobs! Some people use a specific 3 browns (grass, leaves) to 1 green (vegetable products) ratio, but…I don’t try that hard. And mine still works. You have to keep it wet, though! I empty my dehumidifier into the compost pile to keep it moist when it hasn’t rained in awhile.

Luckily for me, Betty and her husband (whose name we don’t know, so he’ll just be Betty’s husband from now on, or we could call him Peanut Eater, as his peanut shells can still be found all over the backyard–those things don’t break down!) already had a sweet two-compartment compost bin. For those of you who aren’t compost savvy, you need two compartments for your compost: one for the old stuff, one for the new stuff. Then, the old stuff is ready for you to put on your garden while the new stuff is still decomposing and readying itself. The compost bin is falling apart in some spots and needs to be tuned up a bit, but that’s a later project.

Early this summer, I had my first compost harvest and used it on my beans and tomatoes. And those beans=delicious! The tomatoes=pure beauty!! Oh, the tomatoes! I could write a song for them. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten tomatoes so amazing.

But since then, disaster has struck. A family of bees have made their home in one-half of my compost bin. Which, explains my bee sting this weekend. I know, I know–I should’ve stayed away. My mom told me to leave it alone for the rest of the year, but I was just working on the other half! They didn’t live there yet! But, it didn’t matter. I made those bees angry, and I don’t think I’m welcome back. But they’ll see…next spring, that compost is mine! And just think how rich and beautiful that soil will be…

Oh, and of course, wikiHow has a post on how to compost.

Ok, Mom (and you other composters), please tell me what else I shouldn’t put in the compost. I know the banana stickers don’t belong there, but, honestly, I’m too lazy to remember to take them off.

Sheer is sexier than lace

17 Aug

Chris and I have been up to quite a bit, but our projects are vastly different. To explain, this is his major accomplishment of the week:

Brandilicious. It's grown-up taste.

As for mine, I’ve been sweating at the sewing machine (quite literally; even with the air conditioner on, it’s frickin’ hot upstairs, and, if I turn a fan on, I can’t hear my netflix videos, and ultimately Veronica Mars Season 3 or the Tudors Season 1 is more important than overworking my sweat glands).

So, my last crafty craft post received quite the response over my handy new lunch tote. And one of the responders happened to be getting married the next weekend. I quickly stitched together a little tote, put their card and gift card inside, and then tied it up with a ribbon. I was quite pleased with myself over this because every part of the gift could be reused or recycled. Exhibit A:

Sorry, Rory, that I only made Amber a lunch tote. I’m not sure I can see you bringing one of these to work with you.

On a side note, I didn’t use scraps of fabric for this one, but brand spankin’ new fabric that I cut into especially for it. I didn’t want to go overboard on patterns with a gift. You know, I try to give people stuff they’ll actually use. Sometimes.

And a related project:

I personally like the rectangle pillow the best. Chris is not a fan of the ribbon because it has strawberries on it. This, I’ve been told, is not manly enough. But the second, non-ribboned pillow is just so boring that I feel like it’s the less-loved child. And, as the mother, I’m sad to admit that I do love it less.

And now, the reason for the title of the post. If you scroll back to posts past, you will see evidence of lace curtains up in our house. Lace, is not my personal friend. Especially old lady lace (sorry, Betty). Some of the lace that was up at the house had patterns of houses in it. That was the first to go. This lace downstairs was less sinister, but still lace. We took it down at one point, but the window looked really naked, and not in a good way. So, I refashioned some curtains that I had used in my old apartment that didn’t have a use in the new house, as the windows here are smaller. I was able to keep the loops at the top and just cut them to the size I wanted and hemmed the bottoms. And it’s a huge step up!

Sheer is sexy!

So there it is! We’re pretty proud of our house, and it gets lovelier every day.

Just a little taste

25 Jul

Of what’s blooming in my garden right now.

I’d just like to take this moment to thank Betty Mae for her years and years of hard work on my garden. She lived in our house for 40 yearS (!!!), and while she hadn’t physically been able to work on her garden in the last couple years at the house, there are still so many beautiful things left over. It’s safe to say that there will be lilies blooming throughout the summer, and numerous other beautiful things. And there are hostas EVERYWHERE! And peonies, and a bunch of other stuff that I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty. Once this summer is over and I’ll know exactly what I do and don’t have to work with, I’m going to come up with a plan to fill in some of the holes that have been left by a couple years of non-care. I’m also learning where not to plant vegetables, and what vegetables are working (tomatoes and beans are a go, radish and lettuce not so much).

I’m kinda in love with my garden…