March 31, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race


Last week I mentioned my mom was coming to visit and bringing her truck.  Well, we got some good use out of that truck!

We hauled away the old, rotten fence planks from where Nick fixed our fence.  (The neighbors only had to look at them piled in our driveway for a week!)

We picked up a cubic yard of shredded cedar mulch (my mom says it’s called “gorilla hair” in her neck of the woods).  Since Nick was off on a guy’s weekend with his friends, we girls used tarps to unload the mulch into the garage and I’ll spread it outside sometime soon.  But for now, it’s protected from wind and rain.


The country bench also arrived!  We came up with lots of ideas for what to do about those heart cut-outs, and I think the bench will ultimately be painted a deep yellow.


Some big, fat Karl Foersters came too, and they’re hanging out in cardboard boxes on the front porch.  I should probably make a point of getting them in the ground this weekend.


Meanwhile, my remaining mail-order plants (for one of which we dug a huge hole a few weeks ago and it’s still a huge hole)…are in the mail as of today!  Turns out the huge hole plant… going to be much smaller than I expected (boo) so I guess I could go out and fill the hole in a bit (or a lot).

And finally, what a surprise… mom was going to loan me her sewing machine for a couple projects.  Well, she decided she couldn’t part with it… she surprised me by buying me one of my own!!!  I can’t wait to start figuring out sewing with some new projects Smile


Last weekend was busy…and this weekend will be busy too.  We’re helping my aunt and uncle move into a new house on Saturday morning, then we’ll have Nick’s mom and dad here for a visit the rest of the weekend.  With no rain forecast until Sunday, the weather should be great!

Hopefully, Sunday afternoon will give me a little sun to go out and get those grasses planted.  I won’t even start with all the other outside stuff waiting to be tackled…

How are your weekend plans stacking up?

March 24, 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

Hello blog buddies!

I thought it was about time for a quick update post.  I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, it’s just been a slow couple of weeks for projects.  Namely, I’ve started quite a few….and finished none. 

Happy Daffy

Sad, I know.

Nick finished one though!  We’ve had three terrible windstorms, and one panel of our yucky old fence decided it had enough.  So Nick replaced the crossbeams and the rotten planks in that section.  At some point, the whole thing needs to be redone, but this will work for now.  (Nice contrast, right?)

New fence panel

But this weekend will see some progress.  My mom is coming for a visit, and she’s bringing her truck, along with some goodies in the back of it.

Fluffy mum sprouts

A country bench is coming to be refinished for our front porch!

Some new plants (divided from ones in her yard) are also coming this way, which will give me some food for thought on where I’ll put them.  They are Karl Foerster grasses….but not just any…. they are MONSTER Karl Foersters!  Before division, they were as large around as a tire, and probably 15 feet tall.  Whoop!!


We’ll also make good use of the truck by picking up a load of shredded cedar mulch.  This year, I’m opting to get the un-dyed mulch.  We currently have the red stuff out there, but it fades *so* quickly, and it really does look pretty fake.  Plus, I’ve heard various opinions that the dye has a negative effect on plant health.  So I’ll top it off with cedar and hope it looks ok.


We’re also making a trip to the nursery.  I still need to poke around and see which ones are open yet, but I know of at least one, and hanging out in a warm greenhouse sounds like a great way to spend a cool March afternoon.

Columbine peeking out

And as soon as it warms back up, I’ll go take some pictures of all the sprouts in the backyard.  Sedum are coming up (looking very cute, too), the dianthus is already very green, the irises are greening up, and lilies and scabiosa are also doing well!

I also need to tackle the rain barrel again.  It’s working GREAT…but remember how the Gorilla Glue wasn’t really cutting it?  Yeah.  It’s definitely not cutting it now.  My plan?  Sewing Smile

Coming soon!

March 16, 2011

Make Your Own Trellis

Hiya peeps!  (Or should I say “Peeps”, since we’re getting closer to Easter?)

I thought I’d show you how I put together very simple trellises for my climbing plants. 

The benefits of these are:

  • You can make them any size/height
  • They virtually disappear with a green plant on them
  • They’re freestanding, so you can access fence panels, decks etc without having to rip your vine off first.

Ok, and now for the downside:

  • They aren’t decorative, if you prefer a decorative trellis.
  • Because they’re freestanding, they need to be pushed into the ground, which can be challenging, as you’ll see Smile

I went ahead and did these last weekend, because our huge clematis is getting ready to wake up.  I did major trimming on this guy over the winter, and I removed the original trellis bits still wrapped up in it.  So, when it wakes up, it needed somewhere to grow, and fast. 

It was originally planted on a very flimsy, wooden “Y” trellis that had been literally torn apart by the plant as it grew. 


The plant was large enough, though, to get a good hold on our deck railing, so that’s where its support was coming from.  Last summer, it got so big, the clematis started folding over itself, so I made a quickie trellis extension to give it more room to grow:


Well, this year it needed a sturdy replacement trellis to help it get back up onto the railing.  I also have another clematis (“Sweet Autumn”) coming soon, and it will need a trellis as well….so I made two. Smile  I’ll need one more of these trellises before all is said and done, but I’ll do that one later.

It’s super easy.

Grab two “U” posts from the hardware store.  They come in different heights, and they’re measured as the total length – so if you buy a six-foot post and stake it up to the “fins”, you’ll have five feet above ground. 

Next, get some fencing.  I have a roll of green plastic coated wire fencing that I use for tons of stuff (I used it in the trellis extension above as well.)

Lay your posts out on the ground and unroll the fencing to the total length you need.  I used the width of the fencing as the width of the trellis, and roll it out to get the total height I want.

Once your fencing is the right length, finagle it into the “U” notches on each post.  Use a hammer or mallet to close the notches so the fencing stays put.


Now take it out where you need it, and push it into the ground up to the “fins”. 


Our dirt is unbelievably awful, so we had a lot of trouble getting it more than a couple inches into the ground.  Hammering the stakes didn’t work either (though we don’t have a sledgehammer, which might’ve helped), but I plan to hand dig the holes this weekend so we can get the trellis down deeper so it’s not taller than the deck railing.

Stand back, and wait for the trellis to be covered with your favorite vine!  Smile

I know it’s not pretty, especially not this time of year.  But it will be extremely functional in about a month.

(Notice the nice spot on the deck skirting that isn’t painted – the old clematis must’ve been in the way!)




March 14, 2011

How to Make a Rain Barrel

One flower bed next to our deck gets zero-zilch-nada water from our sprinkler system.  It’s also a very hot area in the summer, where the sun bounces off the side of the house.

But luckily, there IS a downspout that drains right into this bed, so to put this downspout to better use, I decided I needed a rain barrel.

Like this one for $175:
Or this one for $150:
Yeeeeeeah….NO.  They’re too rich for my blood.  So I set out to make my own.

 Here’s how I did it:

I found a valve at Lowe’s that allowed for a nut to screw onto each side of the portion which will be installed into the barrel.  I won’t go into the details of all the ideas we tossed around before we settled on this, but suffice it to say that if we could’ve found rubber washers with a large enough center opening, it would’ve been a much faster trip to the store!

Little tip:  make sure the valve you get has a notch on each side for screws – otherwise the entire valve could turn when you turn the handle.

Next, I bought a plastic trash can with a lid:

I also bought a flexible downspout attachment.

To keep leaves and debris out of the barrel, I cut a hole in the lid of the trash can and used silicone to glue a piece of hardware cloth (fencing type material) to the underside of the hole.

I find my d├ęcor (pillar candles, here) to be quite functional when trying to glue things.

Winking smile

But then….believe it or not, the silicone didn’t stick.  I still don’t really “get” silicone.  I’ve never once seen it advertised as an “adhesive” but yet everybody and their brother at Home Depot point to it as some kind of miracle glue.

I tried it.  It totally failed.  I moved on to using Gorilla Glue.  It worked a little better….but I suspect it will eventually peel right off the plastic as well and I’ll have to resort to some kind of mechanical way to attach the screen.

So then I thought I was done with the lid.

But I wasn’t.  I totally spaced the mosquito issue… I grabbed some old screen fabric and hot glued that behind the hardware cloth.  We’ll see how it holds up.  (I was too impatient to do Gorilla Glue again.)

Next, I cut a hole (using a razor blade) as close to the bottom of the can as possible.  I inserted the valve, applied silicone to both sides of the threaded area and tightened the nuts on each side.  (You can see an “X” on the can where I took it outside and determined the minimum height the valve would need to be to clear the top of the landscape edging – I can always tip it to drain the water level below that point.)

The only problem is because there are no screws to hold the valve in place, as soon as I tried to turn the handle, the whole valve turned in the hole and (stupid silicone) pulled the silicone seal away from the plastic.  Grr! Silicone!  Why can’t you be the miracle adhesive/caulk you’re supposed to be!!!

At this point, I thought the seal was shot and I’d have to start over.  But when I took it outside and filled the barrel with water, there were no leaks.  The jury is still out, but I’ll keep an eye on it and redo the seal later if I need to.


Now my rain barrel is done!  To install it, I used a hack saw to cut off our downspout high enough that the barrel would stand under it with space to spare.  Then I attached the flexible downspout thingamajig and pointed it at the mesh opening.


I still need to move the downspout brackets up higher on the siding:


I was afraid the downspout wouldn’t stay in place, so I used some wire to attach it to the hardware cloth.


Finally, I leveled an area next to the house and put it in place.


DUNZO. BOOM.  A rain barrel.  For $8 (valve)+$20 (trash can)+$10 (flex downspout) + random bits I already had like hardware cloth and glue = $38!


(P.S. I also plan to zip-tie one of the handles of the barrel to an eye-hook in the siding to keep it from blowing over…but until I get around to putting the eye-hook in, I did fill the barrel with 8 inches of water or so to keep it in place.)

There’s an irrigation element to this project as well, but since the garden isn’t quite ready for that yet, I’ll just let the water accumulate, and I’ll make the irrigation project a little closer to spring.

But in the meantime, our spring moisture will be put to great use in the dry, dog days of summer.

And my garden will love me!

I hope…

Linked up to:
Between Naps on the Porch
Dittle Dattle
The Girl Creative

March 10, 2011

Weekday Rambles


It is SO NICE outside!  The sun feels glorious!  The wind is starting to pick up a little, but that’s ok.  Sunny and warm are all that’s required. Smile

It’s so nice out, I can do this:


That’s right – nothing to look at outside FOR SURE, but a nice spring breeze feels great in the house.

I also took another stroll through the front garden to peep at some of the sprouts.

Mums (again):



Daffodils (again):







Also, I just investigated the price of mulch.  You can get it from the home stores for about $4 per 2 cubic feet.  A cubic yard is 27 cubic feet, so you’d need about 14 bags.  That’s $56 for a cubic yard.  (And actually, most of the mulch advertised online was $5 per bag – which would be $70 for a cubic yard, though I’m sure there will be spring sales, so I used the $4 price point I saw on a couple of the brands.)


You could order it in bulk.  A local landscaping company around here sells shredded cedar mulch for $45 per cubic yard (not including delivery).  So if you have access to a truck or trailer and can pick it up yourself, bulk is the way to go.  I think I might have access to a truck sometime this spring (Hi Mom!) so I think that’s my plan.

Other random tidbits:

  • I’m saving plain cardboard right now to use as weed barrier.  Same concept as the newspaper approach I mentioned last fall.  It also works if you need to kill some grass for a new garden bed.
  • Our compost bin is chock darn tootin’ FULL – what about yours? I’m so happy for these warm days that will shrink the pile so I can add even more to it.
  • Plus, our yard cart (from the city) is also full – of leaves and clematis trimmings.  My plan is to dump it all out in the yard right before the first mowing of the season, and have Nick empty the mower bag throughout the garden for some easy early mulch.
  • I set up my calendar for yard fun today.  The last average frost here is May 15, so I’m going to plant the tomatoes on May 1st, safely within the wall 'o’waters.  Two weeks before that, I’ll unpack all the planters from the garage, (it will be SO nice to get the garage a little cleaner), and get them outside and full of potting soil.  No garden dirt for them this year.  That means….I only have about one more month until the action starts Smile
  • Meanwhile, I’m thinking some spring window cleaning is in order soon.  They are filthy!  The screens, the glass, and the blinds.  Yuck, yuck, and yuck.


What’s on your spring to-do list?

March 8, 2011

Lamps and Couches and Rugs, Oh My!

Well, hello Lovely Readers!

As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, there’s an interesting, and rather unbelievable, story behind the furniture in our house.  It’s one of the luckiest things I’ve experienced, so to tell it in the lucky month o’ March (when project motivation is low anyway) seems fitting.


So today, the tale is told.  Hold onto your seats…! 


The summer after my sophomore year of college, the best deal (probably of my whole life) smacked me square in the forehead.  While working at an apartment complex, a resident came in one day to make a copy of a flier.  He was advertising his entire (studio) apartment for sale.  He wanted to get rid of everything except his clothes and personal items.  For $500.  And somehow, I was in the right place at the right time to be the first person to see the flier.

I expected the furniture, etc, to be rather shabby and well-used (and how much can really fit in a studio anyway?).  I couldn’t have been more surprised, though.  The furniture was only a few months old, and the guy rarely stayed at the apartment so it was basically brand new.  It was also a style that I really liked. 

I worked a lot of different jobs in college and in the summers, so I had the money to take advantage of the deal….but there was the issue of finding a place to put all of the stuff while I lived in the dorms.  

Plus, there was a slight catch … I had to get it all out of the seller’s apartment within a couple of days. 

I decided to go for it.

My roommate and I packed my tiny car to the brim with all the dishes and small items that week, and that weekend, my dad and I wrestled the rest of it out of the apartment building, into the free truck from the storage place, and finally into a storage unit, where it sat for the year and a half or so until I got an apartment.


In the course of a few days, I had become the proud owner of a leather couch and loveseat, a coffee table with matching end tables, three lamps, a bunch of rugs, an entertainment hutch with matching side table, an upholstered occasional chair, a twin bed with two sets of bedding, a rolltop desk, a DVD player, stereo, TV, complete set of dishes/silverware and glassware and… a never used eight-person oak dining room table.  Unfortunately, the table didn’t fit very well into the storage unit with everything else.

So I sold it right away.

For $500.

Open-mouthed smile

I’ve sold several other things since then, and we’ve gotten great use out of the rest.  The couches and coffee table, in particular, are showing their well-earned age.  We use the dishes/flatware/glassware every day.

Together, Nick and I have purchased almost no furniture at all.  “We haven’t even bought a couch together.”  (Anyone see that Mike & Molly episode?)

The guy who sold it to me was such a doll, too.  He had all the original receipts and warranties from almost every single piece that we moved out of his apartment. 

And do you want to know the best part? 

It wasn’t the first time he completely furnished an apartment and then sold the whole shebang for $500 a few months later.  And I bet it wasn’t the last time either.

I’m convinced it’s his own little philanthropy.  Smile


A One-Time Lucky Duck

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