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This Means War

4.29.2009
Notice to the Rabbits who are eating all my new plants- Get out my yard or else.

I went to check on my new plants progress this morning and there were teeth marks all over my plants, especially the hostas. Grrrr.....

So I did tons of research on rabbit repellents. And by tons of research I mean I went to Home Depot and bought one of the ones they had.

Here is what I ended up with-

It was expensive at $11 for a spray bottle but if it saves my plants from the bunnies it is worth it.

So after work on Tuesday I decide to spray it on since it is not going to rain for 24 hours supposedly. First lesson- do not wear nice clothes while applying. Why? Because the smell is a mixture of piss and puke. The entire time I was applying it I had my shirt over my nose. According to the bottle, the smell is not noticeable to humans after it is dry and I sure hope so because if not it will also repel me from the garden.

As I am finishing I am also thinking quite happily to myself that this will also keep the dogs out of the landscaping because of the smell which would be a double bonus.

So I finish applying the spray to every new plant and then put the noxious bottle back in the garage. I then walk past the back windows still doing a happy dance and thinking how clever I am. As I am walking back in I see Jack (you know the long-haired dog that every thing sticks to) laying on his back on my plants and rubbing himself all over them (smashing them in the process of course) in order to get the smell all over him. I should have gotten a video of him to add to this post but I ran outside to yell at him before that thought popped in my head.

Awesome......rabbit repellent is our crazy dogs new perfume.

It is Not the Prettiest Garden Accessory....

4.28.2009
But it is super functional so our rain barrel has a new place in our garden. What is a rain barrel? It is a giant barrel that collects water from your downspout. You then use this water for your plants, lawn or some other non-drinking water activity. So you conserve water at the same time you are not flooding your yards. It is amazing how fast it fills up with just one downspout. It only took one rain storm to fill the entire thing, so I will have a lot of watering to do. Here it is hidden behind the deck-
I have been thinking about getting a rain barrel for awhile since I do so much watering over the summer and our sump pump is constantly running when we have any rain. And maybe I will even admit I was jumping on the "going green" bandwagon. If you look for them online they are expensive and I was not going to spend $100 on something just to save some water, bandwagon or not. So when I got an email that they were doing a free workshop at the local high school I signed up. Or rather I signed us up.....I was worried that I would not be able to carry it to my car by myself so Derek got roped in under the pretense of "It will be fun!" I don't think he fell for it but he did go with me. What a good husband:).

The process was very quick and easy and we did not actually have to crawl into the barrel to install the spigot like This Young House did. But it wouldn't have been bad if we had to since our rain barrel contained Mountain Dew syrup in it's former life and you can still smell the sugary sweetness.

So how did we make a rain barrel in less than 10 minutes? We drilled two holes....one for the spigot and one for the overflow hose and then screwed in the accessories. We drilled the spigot hole as low as possible and the overflow hole as high as possible.


The plastic pieces were provided as part of the workshop but looked like something you could pick up at your local hardware store. The spigot did leak slightly after the first rain, but Derek fixed it very easily with a little plumber's tape.

The top of the barrel was already cut and had a black plastic flower pot in it. We added a screen on top to keep out mosquitoes and other dirt that runs off the roof. That was the extent of the rainbarrel making, so it was very quick and easy. They did say you can paint them and I am thinking that I might try that next year to make it blend in more. Or maybe covering it with bamboo fencing...... oh the possibilities


So we brought it home and carried it to the backyard. Then we set it up on cinder blocks and Derek diverted the downspout so that the water runs into the barrel. If you are installing one, make sure it is on level ground so it does not tip over. They are very heavy obviously once they have water in them and you don't want gallons and gallons of water spilling all over your yard.

Can't wait to get watering without turning on the hose!

Bring on the Miracle Grow

4.27.2009
For the second weekend in a row, Derek and I were out in the yard all day for two days. Who needs to watch the NFL draft when you can listen to it on the radio? It all started when my plants from Bluestone Perennials arrived on Thursday. I have been planning their arrival for awhile. I thought we had another week or two until they would come, but I was so excited when I knew these boxes were waiting for me.
After they were all unpacked

So we got up bright and early on Saturday to start. We began with the front bed since it was smaller. This bed was a challenge to choose plants for because it gets almost no sunlight. There was not much grass growing in this very shady area so we just tilled it up, and added a couple bags of compost before planting. We went back and forth about edging. Since we were dealing with the tree roots which made digging out a trench for edging difficult, we are trying the "cutting a clean line in grass" method. We will see it works.....I see a lot of weeding in my future. Here is the planted bed.....sadly the plants still look wimpy and small. But I just keep telling myself that they will grow and I should resist the urge to keep adding more. Hopefully by next year we will have a beautifully filled in bed. Or at least keep the sexy foundation from showing.
Then we moved onto the second bed in the back. If we had been smart we would have edged it this past fall and been preparing the soil by killing the grass since then. But we are not smart and we still had tons of grass growing there like pictured here-

The original (and overly ambitious) plan was to dig up the sod and move it to other parts of the yard that needed it. However after we, I mean Derek, took 15 minutes to dig up a very small section (with a lot of grunting and cursing mixed in) we decided to ditch the original plan. Next plan- rent a tiller and just till up the entire thing. But after calling around and learning that a tiller that had enough juice to cut through grass roots would need a truck to be moved, we decided that plan sucked too. So then we went to google to figure out what other idiots do who do not plan ahead. We found the lasagna method.

So I went out with my beautifully drawn plan, my yardstick, tape measure and all the plants to plot exactly where they all went. This took a lot longer than I was expecting because a) the bed's dimensions did not match the plan's dimensions exactly b) when the plants were actually in my hand I had some different creative visions and c) measuring is not my strength. After I got them all set in the correct places, Derek dug very large holes which we filled with a mixture of dirt, compost and the plant. So it looked like we were planting in the middle of our lawn since the grass was still there. After we were done with that, we laid down newspaper over the grass and around the plants. Then we dumped tons of mulch on top of it. So our planting bed now resembles a lasagna. I am hoping to till around the plants next spring and that their large compost filled holes will keep them happy this year. But I could be a gardening moron.....

Again the plants are puny and you can barely see them in the pictures. Also I forgot to order some of them so I will have to go and fill in holes later. Just picture the plants as large as they are on the plan-

But right now they look like this-
The rock thing in the back is the dog path....no pups in the landscaping!


Does Miracle Grow bring out the flavor in lasagna? Because I think we really need it.....

Yummy

4.23.2009
In honor of Administrative Professionals' Day I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies for all the secretaries that I work with in a fun flower shape.

I found the recipes on Allrecipes.com a couple of years ago when I was looking for a good sugar cookie recipe for Christmas. Since Derek and I are allergic to nuts, we are both rather limited in the Christmas cookie choices so I wanted a really good recipe. I love sugar cookies that are thick and soft and this recipe totally hits the mark. Here is the recipe for the Icing and here is the recipe for the Cookies.

Since I have discovered this awesome combo, I make them all the time for events and they are always a hit.

Here was Christmas 2008 (at least until two furry friends were naughty...but that is a story for another post).

I also made them for my best friends baby shower for favors. (they are cut in the shape of a baby carriage in case you can't tell.....Derek couldn't).
The recipes are pretty simple, but the dough has to be refrigerated overnight. I make quite a mess applying and swirling the icing (I believe Derek's phrase is "It looks like a sugar bomb went off in here") but two pups are under me feet in case I drip anything. They also enjoy the dough (I swear this is only after the dough is safely in the refrigerator and I am cleaning the bowl....no doggy slobber ends up in the final product)-

One batch of dough makes about 12 large thick cookies and I made 6 times the amount of icing in the recipe for all of them. I like the swirly look because well....it is easy to do. One thing I did learn is if you want bright icing colors, you need to buy the paste food coloring that comes in the jars and not the liquid stuff you can get at grocery stores. They are always a huge hit so bring lots!

I Love These Chairs!

4.21.2009
I love the designer Angelo Surmelis on HGTV's Rate My Space. He does great designs and on top of that he seems line a genuinely great guy. His show is on my DVR list. Also, his blog is one of the ones on my Google Reader and last night he posted about his new furniture line here. I love it! The pieces are so stylish but affordable. Here is one of my favorites:
from Design Geek Blog-lots more pics on his post

According to the post they will be available this summer on Overstock. I really wish that these would have been an option when we were looking for a piece for out master bedroom. I wanted something with a pattern but everything we saw was either an ugly pattern or too expensive. I love this entire line and really appreciate his commitment to making them inexpensive. He is very talented and I hope that his new line will be very successful. Go check it out over on Design Geek!

I Swear It Looked Different on the Paint Chip

4.20.2009
Picking paint colors is an art form which I used to think was easy. I mean just walk up to the display, find a pretty color and buy it. A funny post over on All Things G&D made me think about how many awful paint decisions I have made in the 5 short years we have been picking paint colors. I have been convinced that a certain color was the perfect color but on the wall......well you will see the ugliness. I am embarrassed to show these pictures but I have learned so much from these bad paint choices....and honestly they are funny now. You know now that I am no longer repainting these rooms on a yearly basis.

OK I will start with the room that we only repainted once- the guest room at our old house.

Disclaimer: When Derek and I moved in we were very poor grad students and home decor was a luxury so we did what we could with hand me downs. This was our first place after dorm rooms/college apartments so our furniture was not the best.

Back to the room, when we moved in the walls were pasted with hockey cards. Sadly I did not think ahead enough to snap a picture of this. After scraping them off the walls we picked a color. My aunt kindly gave us my cousin's old bedroom furniture which was very girly so we had to work with that in this room. Derek did not want a girly color though, so we decided on a light green. You know something light, bright and neutral.

Enter what we termed "Mint-Chocolate Chip"
It was actually a lot minty-ier than this picture shows. Not a bad color for a nursery, but considering our most frequent guest was Derek's college aged brother, not a good choice.

So the repaint-
This time it actually was neutral.

The master bedroom was repainted three times.....in three years. We lived with each of the bad colors a year before I hated it enough to clear the room and repaint. Or should I say convince Derek enough so that he would help me. Our first inspiration was to go for a beachy feel....something bright and summery. Derek will admit that this was his choice-


These pictures were taken at night and during the day it glowed. It was very bright.

So we decided to do something more neutral/cooler. My parents bought us new furniture for graduation so we though it was a good time to repaint. Sadly, I even misinterpreted an inspiration Pottery Barn catalog picture to arrive at this color. It needed to be a lot more gray in order to resemble the inspiration. I realized this when we were finished of course. I don't think Pottery Barn would claim this color.With repaint #2 it looked like a little boys room. The room was small and had low ceilings to begin with so this made it worse. But could I really ask my loving husband to repaint again? Well a year later and an exact replica of an inspiration pic, we went back to yellow....this time less neon.



So far no rooms in our current house have needed to be repainted (not that I am making any promises about the future......I already have my eye on the dining room ceiling). Here is what I have learned from painting redos.

-Buy paint samples and put them on the wall. Yes, they cost a little extra but I really think they are the main reason I am still happy overall with our current paint choices. Make sure you put samples in areas that get different amounts of light.....i.e. by windows, next to furniture, etc. Then sleep on it. If you don't love any of the colors you put up, go buy some more.

-Find inspiration pictures. These can be from magazines, websites, other houses etc.

-After you finish painting and you hate it (after it is dry of course) or even if you don't love it.....repaint it then. The worst part of painting is moving furniture, putting up drop clothes etc. So since that is already done, save yourself a day and repaint it now. It will cost more money but you will be actually be saving yourself time and money in the long run.

-If you are choosing paint colors for a lot of rooms, invest a couple of bucks in a paint deck. Like I discussed Here.

-Even if you don't buy paint samples for the wall, sleep on it. Making quick decisions at the paint store has repaint written all over it.

But this is just what I learned what works the best for me.....I am sure there are people that the paint chip works for. I obviously need a little more help!

It Hurts to Blog....

....because I am so sore. I never want to see rocks again.

The rain did clear up Saturday so Derek and I got to wallow in the mud to move three yards of rock and two yards of dirt into the backyard. That is about 65 wheelbarrows full. That is shoveling it in to a wheelbarrow, pushing the wheelbarrow through mud, dumping and spreading each load.....just in case you did not comprehend what 65 wheelbarrows entailed. Derek sat in bed last night calculating how many shovel fulls that involved but I will not bore you with that.

The weather turned out beautifully in the afternoon and we used every last minute of light to get everything moved. We had almost the perfect amount of dirt to fill the beds and fill in holes along the fence from the pups digging adventures. The rock was another story.......we, and by we I mean Derek, seriously over-estimated the amount of rock. He measured and plugged those calculations into an online calculator, but somehow when we were finished with the areas that we wanted rocks, 1/3 of the pile was still on the driveway. So either his measurements were off, the calculator was off, or the nursery just felt extra generous and decided to deliver an extra yard of rock on our driveway (Derek is claiming the last two of course).

So we made it a little thicker. Still tons on the driveway. Then we added some to another bed. Still a huge pile. So we talked about storing it for another area to use later on. We filled up one storage bin, realized how heavy it was and decided one bin was enough. So we walked around the cul-de-sac and checked to see if our neighbors wanted any any rock. Luckily we had a taker for some. After they were done taking a couple of wheel barrows full, we brainstormed about where else we could dump it. Finally we came up with the neglected side yard. So we added some under the bushes on the side. We tried to dance with happiness as we swept off the empty driveway but we were too sore.

Here are some pics.....sadly they still do not look that nice without plants. Also the grass really needs to be mowed but hopefully next weekend things will be farther along.
Halfway through the dirt pile


The dog path behind the new landscaping bed which still needs to be de-sodded. You can vaguely see the edging in the incredibly tall grass. The flowerpot is covering a sprinkler head that we still need to edge so it does not get covered in rock.


One of our other beds which got covered in 4 inches of rock because we had so much left.

Weekend Fun

4.18.2009
This is what was awaiting us when we arrived home from work on Friday-

Actually there was a lot more dirt....I forgot to snap a pic until after we had started moving it. But anyway there was 2 cubic yards of dirt to fill my raised vegetable beds and 3 yards of rock to put around the beds and for a dog path behind the landscaping.

Since we knew it was going to rain this morning, we got all the dirt moved last night. We both woke up very sore (dirt is really heavy) but hopefully this afternoon the rock will be able to be finished and I can post some pics. Rain rain go away!

I Dare You....

4.14.2009
Lately I have thinking a lot about paint. Specifically if I have the guts to something dramatic in our master bath.....like black. I found this picture a long time ago and I think it looks so glamorous and dramatic. (Of course I have no idea where i saved it from so if you happen to know please drop me a line so I can add credit) I broached the possibility to Derek a couple of days ago and his while his first reaction was that I was crazy....after seeing some inspiration pictures he was a little more in the "let's think about it" camp. Here are some more inspiration pics:

Then it was like Apartment Therapy was reading my mind since they put up a post about it here with some more pics.

Also the Sherwin Williams article they linked had a lot of ideas of how to be successful with black (this was forwarded as an email to Derek...hint hint....I am not giving up on this).

Going black takes guts and I am not sure I can do it. But I think I made a baby step in our kitchen. I still remember my conversation with the ACE hardware paint guy (PG) when I bought the paint for our kitchen cabinets. I was there at noon on a Tuesday, but no matter what time I came in to buy paint, they had the same person in the department. So we became friends even though he thought I was out of my mind..

J: Could I get 3 gallons of the Cabinet and Trim Paint in Cannonball please?
PG: What color?
J: Cannonball
PG: You know that is black right?
J: Yes
PG: What in the heck are you painting?
J: Cabinets
PG: In the kitchen?
J: Yep
PG: Black?
J: Yes
PG: Have you painted before?
J: Yes this will be my seventh gallon on this type of paint...but the others were white...we are changing it up
PG: Well OK......not even sure how to mix it....hold on
A couple of minutes later
PG: Bring a picture in of how it turns out when you are finished....I am curious....never heard of such a thing

We loved how the cabinets turned out in black but I did chicken out when it came to painting the window trim black also in the kitchen. We went with boring old white which I now regret but I am going to have to really really regret it if I am going to repaint seven windows.


I am thinking that black could work in the master bathroom because of the incredible amount of light we have in there between the window and the skylight. (I would show pics but considering you saw my awful craft room yesterday I don't want to scare you with more ugly rooms.) When we remodel it, the shower is going to expand to a two person walk in with white subway tile so there will not be really much wall space to be black..... so hopefully it won't be overpowering. Also I love the idea of going with a glossy finish to make it more interesting. However, that means I better start working on my drywalling skills now if we are even considering a glossy finish. But I think black paint is something that is going to take a lot of thought and some paint samples on the wall. I can only imagine the reaction when I try to get two gallons in high gloss from Sherwin Williams......

Do you think you could do it? Do you even want to? Am I crazy to be even comtemplating this?

Craft Room Dilemma

4.13.2009
My craft room needs an intervention.......

I am almost embarrassed to post pictures of it in it's current state but one thing I have learned about having a blog is that it is motivation to complete projects so I actually have something to post about. So I probably should have named this post "Jenny's Motivation to Get Off Her Butt."

Here is the craft room in the current state. It used to be a little girl's bedroom obviously. It did have wallpaper on the top half of the room and I wrongfully assumed that if I took it down I would just have normal pink walls. However, they did not paint all the way to the top so now it looks even worse. Since it looked crappy I got lazy and did not take the rest of the wallpaper off behind furniture. The furniture is my now-teenaged cousin's old furniture that I am hoping to refinish this summer for our future nursery. But we will see since Derek doesn't like to talk about anything involving the "B" word. Also, it is currently home to some of my seedlings until I can get them planted outside. Obviously my current organization system needs some help. This is the room that when we moved if we did not know where to put it, it went into the "pink room."



So the first dilemma is paint color. This is the only room in the house that I have free reign over the decision without needing to get input from Derek. Also this is not a public room so I can do something a little different. But on the other hand this room is visible from the front door.

Idea 1: Until 2 days ago this was the only idea. I am thinking doing a neutral paint palette in horizontal stripes somewhat like the master bedroom at our old house.

or like this
This is an image I saved forever ago and have no idea where it came from even after tons of searching....let me know if you do so I can give them credit

Or maybe this:Image from Apartment Therapy

or switching it away from stripes:

Image from This Old House

I like this because it is a little something different without being overpowering. But at the same time- this is the room where I can get away with something bold and I am still doing neutrals? What has happened to me? How can I be creative in a space that isn't even me?

Those cons started to take over after I received this (like I explained here)

So Idea 2-

I have a new favorite color:
Jack Horner's Plum- Pratt and Lambert

Here it is in a dining room.
Image from House Beautiful

It is bold and girly but still muted so that it is not neon pink. Also painting a room a solid color is so much easier than doing stripes. Or do I do stripes and this color? Or do stripes with this being an accent color? Or do another bold color? Or......

So many decisions and I haven't even gotten to the furniture/organization part yet. I guess I will need a another post....maybe then I will have the paint color figured out at least....