Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Garden Project: Update

This spring marks the third year of our efforts to turn our raised bed garden into a. . . raised bed garden.

Why all the time and effort to make something we already had? you might ask.  Because we are making it better, I tell you. Here is a reminder of our progress (this is as much for my benefit as for yours--we take so long to get things done that I sometimes forget where we started!)

When we moved in the side yard had three raised beds with roses and a few other various bulbs and bushes, and a tall fir tree that was sort of sickly.  This picture is the only picture I took with it in it. . .

And yes, it's there.  See that line along the left side of the picture? Not the best, I know.  I took this picture the day we looked at the house back in August of 2007.  We moved in a couple months later and before the end of the year the tree was gone.  (We took out a tree in the back yard that had put a hole in our roof and decided to take this one out too since the neighbors had expressed concern about the possibility of it coming down their direction).

Of course it fell on the only raised box that wasn't rotten. . . and smashed all the roses ( though I planted their remains elsewhere and they have since recovered).  So the following summer we had to start from scratch.  Here is a montage of our progress the first year:

And then we did nothing but let the weeds grow in.  We plunked a couple tomato plants amidst the weeds and called it a day, er year.

The following year required a lot of reclaiming efforts.  And we also had the stump ground out--and discovered a massive network of narly roots, including one the size of a tree trunk.  Our well equipped neighbor brought his truck and chains over to drag it out. Then we swore our way through five of the boxes before calling it good for a year.  We grew some from seed (most of which perished) and some from little plants we bought at the nursery.  Mostly it was a year of discovering what we would eat and what was fun to plant but which no one was interested in eating--oh, and we learned never to buy pumpkin plants called "trickster".  Unless of course you want 23 pumpkins that will fit in the palm of your hand!

AND, never wait too long to put your tomatoes in cages.  When they didn't have any at the first store I went to I put it off and had mass mountains of tomato plants.  Not good, I tell you. But the end of the season left me with a freezer full of tomato pepper soup and basil pesto and a cupboard full of dried herbs--YUM.

This year we got started early thanks to some very welcome early spring weather.  And I like to think our procrastination was actually brilliant planning on our part, because this year the roots were all decayed and pulled out like a dream.  The soil was all nice and rich and we whipped those last three boxes out in a couple weekends.  Of course, since the bed was mounded up in the middle it required us to dig down a foot to make the boxes level--which was surprisingly easy.  Then we covered the pathways with gravel to make it cleaner and help with weed prevention. I even got started planting already. So far the potatoes and onions are in, and my strawberries are all transplanted to their own little box.  Can't wait to plant more and to get my bean tuteurs up (they will go on each end of the row along the garage).  Maybe Saturday.

Now you are all up to speed.  Hopefully this year my garden will be prolific AND beautiful.

What are your garden plans this year?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Mantel

I have issues with my mantel.  It has been barren for some time now.  Just four lonely mirrors to reflect the empty room.  Well, maybe not empty, but since the puppy's arrival when we had to rescue the rug from potential desecration, at its perpetual lack of any occasional tables, it feels pretty empty.

And due to my impossibly slow decorating technique, things don't change quickly. . . until today.  Here is what I had this morning. . .

A few months ago I added the finial on the left. . . then on my birthday eight days ago I bought the little dove and put it next to the finial, and the wreath, which I hung on the nail still there from my Christmas wreath. . . then a few days after that I decided the other side looked empty so I added a pitcher.  It didn't really help.  But I knew I just needed to think up more stuff to add that didn't look like I was just adding stuff.

Then the other day I was at the Good Will looking for more pitchers and some frames I could make over for another project--and I scored the second pitcher (the one on the inside left).  It is Ironstone. . . and I got it for $3. Yea!  (Signe is demonstrating my joy with a twirl--decked out in St. Patrick's Day green.)

Then I spent part of my day painting and lightly distressing the frames (I will show you what for tomorrow).  But when I got done I suddenly got an idea. . .

And I went crazy on my mantel.

 I "borrowed" the frame I had just painted and found another in a storage closet that I WAS going to paint white, but I kind of like it not white in this case.

And then I nabbed three of my herb pots from my kitchen window--making that little arrangement of five pots in various height glass pedestals look a little thin :).

Does it work?  Is it too busy, or just ugly?

I mentioned to Rob the other day I was contemplating layering some frames on the mantel and he looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Why would you mess with the mirrors? They look good."

And they did--not that he is partial, seeing as how he made me those mirrors six or seven years ago. Besides, they STILL look good. And the combination of black, white and tan fits the aesthetic that the room has going already--only with green accents instead of the blue (which is fitting since it is St. Patrick's Day!).

It will probably change again soon.  I had another idea in mind that included some of the blue I have used as an accent in the family room and kitchen.  Plus the frames are going to be serving another purpose tomorrow. . . and the herbs might need to go back to the kitchen window.  But I kind of like it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's New to Me

For a change, this year on my birthday I decided to forgo the annual trip to Banana Republic.  The BR trip started a few years back as a retaliation tactic that became a tradition.  My wonderful husband had this habit of taking business trips on my birthday.  Apparently he still does.  In the 12 years we have been married he has only been home for four or so birthdays.  So one year I got fed up and decided to go to BR and buy myself a VERY generous birthday present. . . or ten.

Only he didn't really object.  Which proves he was guilty, right?  

Anyway, it became expected that he would go out of town and I would go shop--and then even when he was in town I would go shop, he would just come with me.  But after maybe eight years of birthday shopping sprees I decided to change things up (Plus I was having a hard time finding much I wanted to buy at BR--I hate when that happens).  

So I decided to feed another passion.  My house.  It needed accessories more than I did anyway.

I called a friend and made plans to hit the antique district in Portland. With the kids in school and 30 antique shops on a single street in a matter of a few blocks I sensed fun in my future.  

I was right.  Though I honestly thought I'd buy more.  I might have to work up to the big purchases.  Because there were plenty of great things to be purchased.  

None-the-less, I returned from my maiden antique shopping excursion with a few fun items.

This cute chippy dove that is sitting on my mantle.

A fun and fabulous paper wreath made out of an antique shorthand book.

I love the way the light plays off the rolled paper. . .

and how it reflects in the mirrors that hang above my mantle (try not to notice the dust on the mirror.  Jeez you'd think I don't dust. . .hmmm, when was the last time I dusted those mirrors. . .?)

Can't you just picture this chamber pot filled with peonies, or hydrangeas?  I can.

And this crate gave me visions of summer barbecues.  I have plans to purchase a soda making machine and thought it would be fun to buy bottles to put the homemade soda in and then serve them in this crate.  Want to come?

I may not have bought much, but there is always fun in the hunt.  My biggest purchase I actually found a couple days ago at the Good Will. . .

When I get done with this dresser it will be lovely.  I plan to paint it antique white and buy it some shiny new glass knobs.  It's new home is my guest room, whose transformation has been slow and minutely incremental.  Isn't that always the way?  Always a work in progress.

What projects are you working on?