Thursday, August 23, 2012

Re-Establishing Flower beds

It's been a little chaotic around here the past couple weeks, but in between the chaos (and the heat....and the mosquitoes that try to eat my face every time I step out the door), I have been hard at work trying to re-establish the flower beds in front of the house. So far, I've got one down (thankfully, the larger of the two), one to go.

If you will recall, the left flower bed looked something like this when we moved in (after I added some gifted plants)

Giant mass of weeds. Yikes. I have to admit, I was really dreading pulling all of them, so I started looking for other ways to get rid of them.

I read somewhere that you could use newspaper as a temporary, cheaper, biodegradable weed cloth under mulch, so I decided to give it a try.

I did pull the worst of the weeds, just so it was easier to lay the newspaper down, and laid down a couple layers of newspaper, soaking them with water as I went so they didn't fly off in any unexpected breezes. Once I got a reasonable-sized area covered, I used pine bark mulch (the cheap stuff....not Scotts brand or anything...that would have gotten expensive in a hurry!!) to cover the newspaper so my neighbors wouldn't talk bad about me haha.

Here's an in-process picture.

When I ran out of newspaper, I decided to take a break. That break turned into a two-week break. Oops. That was about the time the mosquitoes got really bad and started trying to eat us every time we stepped out the door.

This morning I resolved to get back on it. I tried to go to Kroger (which is supposed to open round the clock) to by more newspaper, but they were closed for some reason or another, so on to Home Depot I went for more mulch and to see if they had some kind of paper that might be serviceable. Man, am I glad. Here's what I found.
I'm hoping this stuff will actually work better than newspaper, since it's thicker. Plus, I can use the leftovers on other projects instead of just tossing/recycling whatever is left.

Scissors and giant roll of paper in hand, I got down to business, again, soaking the paper as I went to avoid shifting.

This paper went much faster than newspaper since I didn't have to put down multiple layers or deal with flimsiness.

Then, I mulched, and stood back to admire my handiwork.

The plants that are already here should grow together some. I also have an order in for things like tulip and daffodil bulbs...and a peony!

So now that I've gotten to show off a little, now comes the part where I hang my head in shame and promise to fix tomorrow...

Again. Yikes. Oh, and see E.T. peeking out the basement window? That would be my husband's sense of humor at work.

Any major gardening projects you've been tackling? Any you are dreading/putting off?

Monday, August 20, 2012

A lovely surprise...think pink

It's been a busy couple of weeks with my teaching schedule starting to pick up for the fall and some out of town guests (of the human and furry variety). In all the craziness and chaos though, I was walking out to my car the other night and saw a flash of pink in the right flower bed I hadn't noticed before.

On further inspection, here's what I found...

A calla lily! And it looks like there are more on the way. A nice present from the previous owner. Here's a closer look.

Oh, and speaking of flashes of pink, the roses have been blooming too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fall Seed Planting

Now that I've got my garden boxes built, it's time for fall plantings! Following the planting calendar for my area (zone 6), I got my fall planting in the ground just a few days ago. Here's my planting list for this go-round:

  1. Looseleaf lettuce. This is a cut-and-come-again salad mix, so I should be able to get several rounds of harvest from this. I also held back some seeds so I can do successive plantings. The next one will be in about two weeks.
  2. Green beans (Blue Lake 274, Bush Type). These are left over from the ones I planted back in the spring. Only problem in the spring was that I planted them too early, and they froze. Shame on me for not following the directions on the seed packet!
  3. Peas. These are the same bush habit Sugar Lace peas I planted in the spring as well. I actually had good luck with these this spring....hopefully I'll get some more delicious sweet peas!
  4. Cauliflower. This Cheddar Hybrid is actually orange! Park Seed says it has 25 times the beta carotene of regular cauliflower. This is an experiment, so we'll see how it goes, and whether I will choose to plant it again.
  5. Broccoli Packman Hybrid
  6. Turnips White Lady Hybrid
  7. Onions Parade. These are actually green onions.
I've also got some garlic on order as well as a packet of mustard green seeds I need to dig up. I think they got buried in my seed basket during the move, and over-looked when I started pulling things out for planting.

For flowers, I have a packet of columbine seeds, some tulip and daffodil bulbs, and a peony (which I have not received yet, but should in the next month or so).

Anyone else got big plans for their fall garden?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Just Call Me DaVinci, Part III

Ok, I think I officially deserve a break from painting for a little while. My latest project: the master bedroom.

The bedroom was painted tan, just like the rest of the house. I discovered why the house was painted right before being put on the market. When I removed the light switch and outlet covers, this is what I discovered.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is lime green. Almost neon. Yikes.

My goal in this room is to create a light, airy, soothing feel, so I decided to go with a lighter shade of the aqua that is in the dining room...almost white with a very slight aqua tint. I also decided to tackle this two walls at a time, mostly because it was way easier to move the stuff away from two adjacent walls (an L, if you will), take down curtains, remove outlet covers, paint, and edge and then repeat on the other side of the room. Here are things halfway done. Observe the chaos.

Actually, it was more chaotic when I moved the furniture on the other side of the room, since there was more furniture there, but that's ok. You get the idea.

After dealing with all the tape in the dining room, and not really wanting to have to tape off this whole room, I broke down and bought an edger to do the tops and bottoms of the walls as well as around doors and windows. Can I just say.....sooooo much easier than taping! This wouldn't have worked with the panels in the dining room, but made things go way faster this time around.

Anyway, here's the finished product.


That first picture made me realize I really need to do something to cover the box spring. It's pretty hideous. Also, I have quite a list of to-do's for this room. Not that there's really all that many to-do's, they just seem like big ones!
  • Find a place to put some closet space (the original owner turned the closet in this bedroom into the stairwell to the basement after he dug it out of the crawlspace...a story for another day). These will probably be Ikea wardrobes, but we shall see.
  • Get a new (queen-sized) bed.
  • Move the current bed and my dresser into the guest room (which is currently my music room until we can get the garage renovated).
Have you tackled any painting projects lately? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Now Accepting Volunteers

I have my very first volunteer!....Volunteer plant, that is.

I have a tomato that has randomly sprouted from one of my flower pots. It even has tiny tomatoes on it! Take a look.


Have you ever had volunteer plants in your garden? Were they welcome, or did you feel like they ruined your "master garden plan"? What kinds of plants have you had volunteer themselves?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just Call Me Davinci, Part II

I don't think I've shared this previously, but when we moved into this place, the entire house (except the wood paneled dining room) was painted tan.

Now, I don't have anything inherently against the color tan, but there are definitely more exciting colors out there. Plus, sometimes it just doesn't fit. Case and point: our bathroom.

This is what it looked like when we moved in.

Believe it or not, I actually like the crazy-colored tile (not what I would have chosen, but it's here and I figure I might as well go with it!), but the dead-colored beige made it look a little out of place.

Not wanting to bust this lovely tile out, I started scheming what I could do to make it "fit" I thought about painting the walls a bright white, but didn't think that would make the tile look any better. Then I had the thought of finding a green that would blend with the green color in the tiles!

With that plan hatched, I went hunting for the perfect green color and (with no reference besides my memory) came up with these:

The chips on the right ended up a little too much on the blue side of things, but the ones on the left ended up being perfect.

Now, keep in mind, I wasn't trying to match the tiles exactly, and the "Greenbelt" (middle left) was the same tone, but a little lighter than the darker green, and a little darker than the lighter green. I also liked that it was a little but higher drama than the one just lighter. Here's my end result:

What do you think? BIG difference right? The tile actually looks like it belongs there now!

I'm still debating whether to paint the wood trim white. The plan is to rip out that hideous sunflower sink that takes up nearly the whole room (and makes it really difficult to get through the door) and replace it with a white pedestal sink. I'd also like to put in a light with multiple bulbs and a white, water-saving toilet. The (yellow) one that's currently here is really old and must use 10 gallons every time you flush! Lastly, we either put in a medicine cabinet, or I will paint the frame of the current mirror white (it was hanging in the living room in the old apt).

Next up? The master bedroom! Told you I've been doing a lot of painting haha.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Just Call Me DaVinci, Part I

Actually, don't....I'm really a terrible visual artist. I can't even draw stick figures without them looking deformed. However, I have been painting....a lot.

I started in the dining room. This room has a large glass sliding door that looks out into the back yard, and my original thought was to paint it some shade of sage-ish green to make it feel sort of like a garden room. I grabbed a bunch of paint chips, taped them to the wall so I could see them in the varied lighting throughout the day, and began narrowing things down.

Once I got things narrowed to about five different chips, I called in the hubby (mostly to make sure he didn't hate any of the ones I was definitely helps narrow things down!). Wonder of wonders, he actually zoomed right in on a color and said "I like this one." So that's the color I went with. I was surprised he picked the one color that was actually aqua instead of green (it's called "Aqua Smoke" Behr if anyone is interested).

By the way, here's what the dining room looked like before I started painting.

First of all, that's a lot of knotty pine!! Second, it was really bothering me that all of the wood (floors, walls, built ins) were all the exact same color! It made the room feel a little on the bland (and orange-ish) side...

So I got to painting. Let me just say, even with the help of some friends, this project took a looooong time! The grooves between the panels are actually quite ornate, which meant they all had to be done by hand, with a tiny triangle-shaped brush. It took two coats, plus touch ups to get those grooves done. Here's a closeup shot of the grooves (after it a teaser), just so you can see the level of detail.

 Fortunately, the flat parts could be done with a roller.

After nearly a month of work (a few hours here and there....not constant work!) This room is finally done! At least with the painting haha. Here are the after pictures....

I really love the amount of natural light this room gets, and you can actually tell now! Before, I felt like I needed to turn the light on every time I walked into the room...even in the middle of the day. Now it's fresh and bright.

There are a few more things I need to do before I can really consider this room "done". You can see some boxes in the picture above...I have nowhere to put my pretty china! Boo! I need to invest in a china cabinet. I also need to find some more dining room chairs as I currently only have five (and two of them are currently in the music room). I'd really like to put a great chandelier in this room....I think it would be gorgeous. I also need to hang some art on the walls and maybe add a side table or something. This is a large room, and it's currently pretty empty!

So this is my first painting project in the up, the bathroom!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Addition: A Compost Bin

I've had compost bins on the brain lately. Maybe to the point of obsession.

I've been researching possible construction plans, debating the cost differences of building vs. buying and generally trying to gauge just how lazy I wanted to be about this whole composting thing. You see, I really like the idea of those fancy composters with a crank handle on the outside that allows you to turn the whole bin rather than having to actually stir the compost itself.

Here's the kicker though.....I'm cheap. My mom frequently laughs and says I "really know how to make a George Washington squeal." And those fancy composters are expensive!

I looked at several plans for building compost bins. Googling "DIY compost bin" comes up with plans for everything from a re-purposed trash can to some seriously elaborate carpentry that is way beyond my skills and means.

This is where fate comes in.

I was trolling through Home Depot (yes....I have been there nearly every day since we moved for one reason or another. It's getting to the point where the employees recognize me when I come through the door) when I saw this lovely little guy for $49 and decided to give him a home.

 I reasoned that it would probably cost me nearly that much to build a wood compost bin that would eventually rot away. It's also significantly more attractive than the garbage can method (there's really no place for me to tuck it away out of sight). It's also something that I could move if need be (since we are planning on eventually putting a shed in the backyard).

Since I got it home and set up (it just snaps together), I've been gradually filling it with food waste (no meats or fats...those can attract pests, though they do eventually break down) and yard trimmings. I had a few tomatoes and peppers that didn't make it since it took me so long to get them into the ground. Those went in there too. I figure I can keep gradually adding to the pile and hopefully in the spring, I'll have some good compost to add to my beds and to use as potting soil!

By the way, here are a few of the links that I found helpful in my reasearch:

Do you compost? Did you decide to buy or DIY? And if you had to do it all over again, would you do the same?