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Good….Bad….Good….Random

6.28.2010
Good-

Overall things are going very well in the garden.  Other that the *^#@ rabbits that keep eating everything.  But I told myself that I need to get over that, so moving on.  One of the things that has taken off the most is our first tomato plant…IMG_1181

Yep the middle half of an entire bed is a single tomato plant that has already taken over two cages.   Good thing the rabbits ate all of the peas because there was no room for them anyway.  I can’t wait to harvest the tomatoes and start making my salsa.

Bad-

Which brings me to the bad news about the next salsa ingredient…..the cilantro is not looking so hot.IMG_1176

Hmmmmm….   We thought if we staked it up that it would help with more delicious leaves and less of this-

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Not so much.   Then I thought maybe cilantro was supposed to look like this at this time of year.  But I read Kim’s post over the NewlyWoodwards and that burst that bubble.

So now I am thinking to cut my losses and replant.  Unless the blogworld had any brilliant ideas to salvage this.

Good-

In case you are interested, the how-to page has finally been updated.  I struggled getting all the columns to line up correctly and therefore have not been adding to it and worrying about it “later”.  So I finally did away with the columns to make it more user friendly. And I promise to keep it updated this time.

Random-

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Jack is digging the new sectional and this is his nightly position.  The pups are not allowed on furniture in the house, but since the outdoor furniture gets rained on a regular basis, we decided to let them cuddle on the cushions if we invited them.  Jack thinks this is a good choice on our part.

And I am thinking that the outdoor space will be ready for the big reveal by the end of the week so stay tuned!

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The Latest

6.25.2010

With the majority of my time spent in the garden recently, the craft room and sewing machine has not been getting a lot of love.  But I did manage to whip up another small baby quilt.

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The pattern is  Charm Squares Baby Quilt that I found on Sew Mama Sew.  It was super quick and easy and I had the top pieced in an hour or two.  Which for me is super fast as I am still really slow and like to admire each piece of fabric before moving on.  And it did not take much fabric.  Just a charm pack and 5/8 yard of other fabric and you have the top pieced.. 

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When I chose the fabric, they did not know if they were going to be the lucky parents of a boy or girl and I thought Authentic was the perfect choice.  It had a little more pink in it than I originally pictures, but it worked out OK because they will be welcoming a baby girl.  Luck over skill.

I backed it with cream flannel to add a little snuggle for the baby.

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I also whipped out some burp clothes.  Another super quick and easy project that does not take too much fabric.  Just a little patience with ironing and measuring to get everything lined up right.  And so much cuter than just a plain cloth diaper to throw over your shoulder.

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My next quilting project will be a first for me….a quilt I am actually planning on keeping.  Since I made the resolution that we would use the picnic basket this year, I determined that we needed a picnic quilt.  My goal was to make it super easy so that it would come together quickly so we could use it before it got too sweltering.  Good news: the quilt top is really close to being complete.  The bad news is that I missed the sweltering deadline.  Oh well.  We can still picnic in the heat.  Can’t wait to share that quilt (in conjunction with our picnic of course).

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Summer Laziness aka I Hate Watering

6.21.2010

Summer is officially in full swing.  Bringing with it lazy afternoons, lemonade, relaxation.  And a brand new air conditioner that stopped working, multiple service visits, four nights sleeping the basement, an electrician and a new hole in the basement ceiling.  But that is a story for another day.  This is a happy summer post.

Anyway one of the things I love about summer is enjoying the garden and landscaping on maintenance mode and not planting/tons of work mode.

Ahhhh….pretty flowers and delicious vegetables.   But for the past couple of years I have struggled with keeping all the potted plants hydrated.  Every afternoon when I come home they look wilted.  And so I then had to water them everyday.  This gets really old and honestly makes me wish for a hard freeze in the beginning of September.

If was really dedicated I could install a drip irrigation system for all the plants.  But that takes too much work and planning. Next idea please.

Mulch helps with water conservation….but- while perfect for all the landscaping,  a little boring for the pots.  Being on the deck they needed some pizzazz.  I thought about polished river rock you can buy in the mesh bags in the craft stores. But for a couple bucks for a small bag, it could get expensive. 

So we bought two bags of marble chips at Home Depot.  Under $7 total and I think they bring a modern aspect to all the potted plants while conserving water.  Observe-

Before:

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After:

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When we bought the rock, it was covered in dust and grit.  So I rinsed it in a shallow pot with drainage holes like I was panning for gold.  The rock looked so much better with a bath, and then I set it on the top of all the dirt.  Helpful hint- if you are going to work with landscape rock, wear gloves.  I did not and it really scratched up my natural nails.

Since adding the layer of rock, the soil has not been completely parched on a daily basis and I have been able to reduce my watering.  It was the a trifecta project of cheap, easy and quick but hopefully will have a positive impact on my plants and my sanity.  Unless someone wants to install drip irrigation on the deck.  Any takers?

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When Wide is a Good Thing

6.17.2010

I admit….I am a total photography newbie.  But I have been having fun playing with my Canon DSLR since I received it at Christmas.  And honestly have been pretty happy with the results considering….shhhh…. I really did not know what I was doing.

But something just came in the mail that rocked my world.  Especially considering it has not been on my camera for more than two hours.

Any guesses?

Well remember how I always make excuses for poor pictures in smallish spaces like closets and laundry rooms?

They looked something like this-

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Standing in the exact same place I now have this-

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That’s right a wide angle lens (a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 to be exact)!IMG_1161

This was purchased with our Italy trip in mind knowing that I would need a whole lot of practice before I would be ready to capture sites like Tuscany and the Florence skyline. I thought it also might come in handy in shooting stuff for the blog, but I had no idea what a difference it would make.  Bad news (for me at least) all of my current room pics are now unsatisfactory and I need to retake them.  That may require some straightening up around the house.

We chose this lens because of this incredibly helpful article on Fly Through Our Window, Amazon reviews, the Tamron 17-50mm Flickr group and pricing Canon wide angle at a local store.  We were really close to buying it on Amazon, when Derek found a couple used ones on Ebay.  After a couple of days of auction stalking he was the proud winner for a lower cost.

Something else that has helped my wannabe photographer skills is this (free) 12 week online course that I found via the blog Twenty-Six to Life.  I have not joined an actual group going through the tutorial, but I printed them all out and learning so much going through it at my own pace.  It is very straightforward and walks you through concepts one at a time with practice on your camera.  Because of this I can now shoot in the manual mode.  Big accomplishment for me. It is the perfect companion to a book such as Understanding Exposure

I am not making any promises, but I hope all of this learning makes a difference in my photos.  Now off to do some vacuuming to get the rooms ready to be seen in wide angle…..

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Plans

6.14.2010

The garden has been taking a lot of my attention (and posts) lately.  So for all those non-gardening people out there, I wanted to share what else is on the DIY to-do list.  

Since we are on a tight DIY budget this summer I had to be a little creative with our next project.

Therefore with a little inspiration from Sara at Russet Street Reno, our master closet is the next in line.

Is it terrible? No.  And it was actually a huge selling point.  Coming from a house that was over a hundred years old and therefore the closets were the size of three hangers, all the closets we were looking at were awe inspiring.  I might have squealed a couple of times and said that we could make the closet a guest room in a pinch.  For the record the phrase “this is is a great closet for me, but where are you going to put your clothes?” did not cross my lips   Once,  And if you watch House Hunters you know exactly what I am talking about. 

Anyway even though our master closet was not the biggest we looked it, it is more than adequate for the two of us.  And it already had pretty good storage built in.  So we did moved in, put in our stuff and did absolutely nothing to it. 

But of course my orange arch nemesis always makes an appearance-

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Sidenote….have you ever tried to take pictures of a long skinny closet with a window? Well it’s not easy.  So I apologize for how badly depicted this is.

And the white has faded into a dingy yellow.  And they are an awkward size for folding storage.  My excuse for stuff falling all over the place. 

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And the walls are blah.  (Well at least before I tried some paint samples.)

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And the light fixture is dim and ugly.

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And the shelves do not have enough support so they bow in.  Again this is the only reason why old purses and stuff is falling everywhere.  Obviously I did not clean up before taking any of these pictures.

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So the plan is to re-stain and finish the clothing rods, add more shelving to reduce the  size of folded stacking, new wall color, and new light fixture.  And maybe some snazzier storage.   Or a fun paper or color behind the shelves And possibly a new hamper….or re-do of the current one.  And maybe a window covering.  Because after two years of thinking how far and high this window was from the neighbors, I just realized how wrong I am.   Not going to think about that.

I have been given the timeline of a long weekend to get the project completed because someone (aka the neater side of the closet) does not want this to become the never ending project with stacks of clothes all over the house.

Think we can do it?  Any other great closet ideas?

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Berry Time

6.07.2010
I have been patiently waiting a year and a half for the raspberries to do something other than hide the ugly electrical box in the backyard…. and this morning they made it worth every single day.

Raspberries first harvest

Not knowing anything about raspberry bushes I had no idea when they were ready to pick.  Do they start to fall off, or do you have to cut the thorny stems with clippers?  I had no idea and in the back corner of the yard I was without a google-enabled device to answer this pressing question.  So I took the plunge and pulled one off.

Raspberries first harvest

It felt like a raspberry should and I had been doing the organic thing with the bushes this year so I poped it in my mouth.

Wow.

I like raspberries from the grocery store and buy them whenever they are on sale, but this berry blew all of those out of the water.  It was so sweet. 

So I immediately got a basket to collect all the berries in and proceeded to eat one and then put one in the basket.  And then eat another two and then put one in the basket.

Here is what made it back to the sink.  Where they were promptly eaten before their flavor had to spoiled with refrigeration.

Raspberries first harvest

I planted two different varieties of raspberries-the classic pink/red color and another variety that ripens to a peach color. 

Looking at the bush, I should be getting larger and larger harvests because there are so many on there that are not ripe yet.  So we will be trying to consume them as fast as we can as well as freeze the extras for future smoothie making.

If you are a beginner garden like me and thought about trying raspberries, I would say go for it .  The first year of no fruit stinks, but my four plants have taken off this year and other than having the painful task of tying the thorny branches to a trellis, I have pretty much left them alone.  They have been disease and pest free with no intervention and I am not nearly as diligent in watering them as I am the other veggies.  They spread and need full sun, so if you have those criteria I would plant some and start counting the days until your first berry crop.  They fruit on two year old canes, so after this years harvest is complete, I will cut back all those branches and let the new canes grow so that they are ready for fruit next year.

Unfortunately, there was one nuisance that I could foresee ruining my happy berry day. Raspberries first harvest

And I knew that as mad I have been at the rabbits for killing all the spinach and eating countless other plants, if birds got all the berries that I had waited two years for,….well I just might explode.

So now the berry bushes now look like this. 

Raspberries first harvest
Hopefully the birds and I can remain friends.  While I am enjoying every single berry.
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The Laundry Room Counter Is Famous

6.03.2010
 My how-to for creating a cheap patterned laundry counter was featured on the fabulous blog of Remodelaholic today! 


I am so excited as I love Cassity'a blog and all the great ideas that she has and features.  Everyday she adds something to my DIY to-do list.  So head on over and check out our counter here.  And if you have not already discovered this blog.....well be prepared to stay awhile!

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Life Lately

6.01.2010

So lately I have been a bad blogger and commenter.  Chalk it up to way too much going on at work paired with too many projects going on and not enough time to write about them.  And I have a bad cold. Blah.

The good news is the outdoor space is really close to it’s big reveal with more projects on the horizon.  But while I dig out from my neglected google reader, I wanted to share two good deals we scored last week for the deck.

First up- a perfect place to read a book-

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OK well the second best place to read a book.  But until our trees get big enough for a hammock or I can find a non-ugly stand for cheap, a rocking chair will have to do.  I had spent the past two months looking for one and even in all my cheap places like overstock, I was looking at over $100. Which was higher than my self-imposed budget.  But then I found this adirondack rocker at Jo-ann’s for $45.  It is white-washed cedar and I put it together on my own rather easily.  Good thing I needed some more fabric.

After buying the rocker I decided that really did not need an outdoor rug and that it was not worth the money.  The outdoor space would just have to be complete without it.  End of story.

However we just happened to be in Home Fabrics and Rugs.  If you have one of these stores in your area and you have not ventured there, you should go ASAP.  They have a variety of home dec fabrics and rugs for really good prices.  And it is always changing …which is why we have to stop in there anytime we are close by.  Just to see of course.

And this time I will admit that I was happy Derek was with me.  Even though he was hurrying me with “So what is is exactly you are looking for"?”.  Men.

But he found a perfect outdoor 8x11 rug that was tagged for $150.  Which for a rug that size is already a good price.  And then he bartered it to $100.  Which I had no idea was possible and I would have never have tried it.

So this is now under our sectional-

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And I love it….even with a cold.

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