Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Garden Update

Spring is finally officially here. After a miserable winter with more snow days than I can remember, it's time to get back in the yard and give it some love.

First- a quick shout out to the glory of bulbs. I paid like $10 for a bunch of tulips and daffodils, and spent like a half hour putting them in the ground last fall. Then, like magic, they arrived and are awesome. I'm a huge fan and will definitely add more next year. Thank you squirrels- sorry I doubted you.
a bunch of tulips and daffodils in front of the garage
tulips and pansies on the side yard 

lots of tulips in the quarter-circle

Next- it's time to add in new shrubs. I'm partial to shrubs because they take minimal work and come back or stay around all year long. If you remember, I tried really hard last year to put in shrubs that would be right for the light, appropriate to our climate, and ensure that something was always blooming.

The Original Well-Intentioned Garden Plan from last year

Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of light we would get (because I was watching in the spring), and I made a number of nice plants turn into toast. Additionally, it appears I under-watered everyone too, probably compounded by a hot summer and our long trip to Thailand. I watered briefly every day, but I should've watered less often with more water. In short, almost every plant suffered and/or died.

The Grim Results from Last Year's Garden Plan
Now that I've figured out the light and the watering dealio, I am ready for my second try. I am moving the living shrubs to better spots, and buying new sun-loving plants for the open spots. I'm also moving the kitchen garden. It did really well last year, but was horribly ugly. In the new spot, it will still get the same light, but be better hidden from view.
While we're at it, I'm adding a tree to give us a little more shade and add some height to the yard. Since we already have a red oak that's amazing in the fall and a crape myrtle that blooms in the summer, I wanted something that would bloom in the spring but stay small enough to fit in the stone quarter-circle. We picked a red bud, which is one of my favorite spring trees; it looks like a normal tree that's been dipped in sprinkles.
New Garden Plan
So, once everything was planned and purchased- we got to work putting it all in the ground. Unfortunately, that meant I had to carefully remove all the still-blooming tulips so that I could breakup the ground, add nicer soil and put in the new guys. Then I carefully added the tulips back, but they don't seem super happy about it. Finally, I mulched everything to help them hold on to water and hopefully do a better job preventing weeds.

New Red Bud Tree in the Quarter Circle
Azaleas and Gardenias along the patio (should smell amazing all summer)

Kitchen garden to the left, New abelias with drapey tulips on the right 
more kitchen garden- hard to see in the sunlight.
some fabulous new pots full of herbs
relocated Rhododendrons looking happier

a view along the sidewalk- new purple grasses in the front, then pansies & hostas, then the newly-moved Rhodos in the back

I'll come back later and add in more annuals for color, but hopefully the main landscaping back here is done. I'm crossing my fingers that I got it right this time, and if I water correctly, everyone will live through the summer and for years to come.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Organizing the Garage - Part 2

Sorry for the delay- lots of exciting stuff going on in the personal life that prevented any progress on the house. (I've got a new sister in law!!). So, now that things are getting a little bit back to normal, it's time to get back to work.

So, we got started on fixing up the garage a couple weeks ago to get the tools out of the basement and make a more functional workspace, more on that here. We just finished it off with a few more steps.

Step 1. Buy a nice cabinet and bench.
So there's no diy here (unless you count loading them up), but sometimes you have to know when to do it yourself and when to just buy something. We found these sturdy-looking components online, ordered them, put them together and loaded them up. Done.

putting the cabinet together

all loaded up and well organized

the new finished cabinet and bench

Step 2. Organize the small bits.
Same as above- there's no diy here, we just purchased something and used it. This one took more time to sort out all the tiny pieces.
the new holder of little pieces- in a convenient location

Step 3. Install a hanger thing for the garden tools.
I prefer to keep the garden tools off the ground, so we grabbed two of these hanging things. Because the cabinet was so nicely organized, it was easy to find the masonry bit to quickly screw into the wall.

one of the hanging things

both hangers up and all the tools off the ground

and viola! the complete workshop/garden area. 

So, now the garage is a functional workbench and garden area, and the basement is empty and ready to be renovated. Inching closer to getting this renovation started... stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2 quick fixes for the bathroom

So, we are about to have some house guests, which always makes me feel extra critical about the house. In particular, our upstairs bathroom is really gross. I want to rip the whole thing out (and probably will someday soon), but in the meantime, I just need to make it work better and be a little less gross. 

So: Project 1: Clean the skylight window. 
We have an awesome skylight in this room. It's actually a window that tilts, so you can release the hot, steamy air up into the shaft that goes to the skylight on the roof. The problem is that paint in the light shaft has been peeling and other dustiness covered the window with grime. 

the skylight window covered in paint chips and dirt

looking straight up- see all the peeling paint?

close up of grime

after a lot of windex and scrubbing- the window is clear. now you can see the peeling paint better!

Project 2: Recaulk the Tub
The caulk around the tub has turned black

close up of black caulk

i got a paint scraper and flathead screwdriver and started peeling out the old caulk and excess grout

all clean

sidenote- Wally loves the shower. 

after a new coat of caulk

all clean. 

There is SO much to do in here- but these two small projects make it a little more hospitable for our house guests.