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Hi friends!  It’s been a little while but I can feel the interest and inspiration for decorating & DIY creeping up on me again.  The only difference is that now my decorating budget is even smaller, haha sigh…

When I think of the projects we have going, most of them are creeping forward at a very slow pace – the granny flat, refinishing the windows, various minor house decor tweaks.  Much too boring to blog about.  I have a few awesome things to share in the weeks ahead as I work on some more interesting ideas, but right now  I do have one great project to tell you about – our backyard!

Here’s the motivation for putting a fenced backyard onto our property.

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She recently turned one, and she’s been walking for two months now.  Baby needs a safe place to roam where I don’t have to be standing over her every second to keep her safe.  Because this is the backyard before.

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Not really safe for a little one to run around, and so many sharp/dangerous things to climb on or put in the mouth, so the Chief did a blitz backyard 1000% makeover in two weeks.  Two weeks people!!  He is a star.  He just decided that if we were going to make a yard, we were going to put down sod and have it ready for the Cinco De Mayo party we had planned.

Step one: well really step one was install the fence but I forgot to take any pictures.  We got simple 3′ squared off black iron fencing from Home Depot which was one of the cheaper options they had, and also isn’t so enclosing as to stop the sightline to the rest of the property.  The yard still feels big.

Step one that I have a picture of was to put down a truckload of composted chicken manure.  This stuff smelled kind of bad for a few days until all the ammonia had evaporated, but it is the best for growing things – I wish I’d thought to keep some for my veggie garden but when the Chief gets a wild hair he just goes for it till the project is done, and I didn’t really have time to think of that till it was too late.

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We watched.  It smelled.

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Later on I helped shovel it around the whole yard with Miss E on my back.  You can see the gate here – a friend made it by hand and the Chief has been storing it in the shed for years now.  Amazingly, it fits perfectly with the rest of our fencing system!

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Then the Chief rototilled the manure into the soil so everything was nice and deep and loose for roots to take hold.

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Lastly, he used a wide pushbroom to make everything flat and level.

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I didn’t get pictures of the next two steps, which were laying the sod and putting in the last sections of fence.  It’s important with sod to really wedge the edges tightly against each other when you install it, so that you don’t get gaps or dead edges.  The Chief did a really great job with that.  Lastly, he installed a small area of redwood decking to put the barbecue on and open up the patio, with two redwood steps leading down to the lawn.  It makes such a difference to the finished feel of our yard.

Here’s the patio!  The house exterior has work yet to be done but the yard is soooo amazing already.

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Here’s another view where you can see how the Chief put in a tall wooden fence with a locking gate in between the shed and our house.  On the other side of that will be the granny flat’s little enclosed front yard, so we’ll both have privacy.IMG_2852 (1024x767)The back yard is amazing and we all use it and enjoy it every day.  We were able to keep costs down by borrowing all the heavy equipment we used and by DIY of course!  Sod cost about 4x what seed would have cost, but the Chief wanted grass for the party and it wasn’t that big an area to do after all.  Now that it’s established it only takes about 4 minutes of watering every day, even in the crazy heat we’ve been having.  Oh yes, the Chief installed the sprinkler system himself too!

Any tips on backyards with little kids and maybe (hopefully) getting in some garden beds?  What have you done to make a haven of your yard for your family?

 

 

 

Well gee.  My plan for today’s post was to give a couple recommendations of Really Amazing Sheets because we slept at relatives’ houses on last week’s road trip and two of the beds had amaaaazing sheets.  One set was thick and buttery and the other was crisp and smooth as silk.  Unfortunately I read the reviews on these sheets just to check (Target’s Fieldcrest Luxury and Costco’s Kirkland Pima Cotton Sheets) and it looks like while they were amazing up until a year or two ago, they have both switched materials or manufacturers and are getting one star reviews for the horrible burlap texture after washing.

So, don’t buy sheets from the Fieldcrest Luxury or Kirkland brands!  If you have the old ones, count yourself blessed to be sleeping between something so nice.

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Here is some tap dancing to distract from this week’s lack of content.

Look at all the stuff our garden is producing!  Basil, cucumbers, green beans, and purple beans.  Not shown here is chard, and the tomatoes and melons which have not yet ripened.  I’m making plenty of pesto to freeze for year-round and we have more cucumbers and beans than we can eat.

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Also I made a quiche for the very first time last night!  Apparently my husband loves quiche?  Three years and I did not know this.  Look how delicious all that cheese, bacon, and spinach in a gluten free crust is!

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Lastly, here is my little swaddle ninja getting her hand out of the wrap.  Miss E is 3 months old this Sunday, wow.

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I have a growing list of little projects around the house that I’ve been procrastinating on.  I think I’ll get together a list and share a plan with you – this way they might get done.  And so until next time, my friends, enjoy life and while you’re at it, why don’t you sing loudly in the car today?

There are two things I’m currently taking care of, a newborn and a vegetable garden. Both are totally new to me and both are lots of fun and very satisfying to spend time with, even if they have some occasional fussiness I have to figure out how to deal with.  Today’s post is about the garden!  The vegetable garden is pretty well established now, about six weeks after the seeds going in which I wrote about here.  Look at those bean teepees at the ends of the bed!

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Many of the plants are doing splendidly. Both varieties of pole beans are thriving and having a grand time climbing the bamboo canes. We’ve already harvested several radishes from the first round of seeds and the second planting is coming along too. The cucumber looks tough and awesome, and the muskmelon (like a canteloupe) finally sprouted under the hop vines.

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The melon will grow sideways and the hops will grow up.  At least that’s the idea.

Not everything sprang to life so easily. A couple weeks ago I  finally had to admit that some of my seeds weren’t going to come up – my tomatoes, my jalapenos, my chard, basil, and most of my carrots. That was about half of what I’d planted so it was a bummer. I re-seeded and now I have a few more carrots and some chard seedlings, but it looks like the jalepenos are a no-show this year. I have two tiny, tiny basil seedlings where the leaves are the size of lentils.

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I have no faith that they will last much longer so I bought a nice bushy basil plant from the hardware store.  Ha!  I WILL have fresh pesto this year.

As I mentioned, none of my tomatoes came up the first time.  I re-seeded and all three varieties of tomato seedlings came up (at which point I became pretty sure I pulled them up as weeds the first time… oops!) but after a week or so, all the seedlings except one were munched away by bugs overnight. The lone survivor is for a purple-and-red striped tomato, and I hope it makes it to maturity! It’s about three inches tall right now.

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For insurance, I bought three tomato plants from the hardware store and planted them where the other ones didn’t come up.  I didn’t take pictures of them because they’re not really my kids, you know?

We probably won’t recoup our costs this first year of gardening.  I’d say the bed preparations cost about $40, the seeds were $42, and the mature tomatoes and basil were about $15.  Next year I’ll still have plenty of seeds left over and will be able to start the tomatoes early indoors, so there won’t be much cost for additional seeds or for potted seedlings.  The Chief hopes to till another bed next spring and double our planting area!  That’s great because I do have a few sprawling types of vegetables I wasn’t able to plant this year due to space constraints – watermelon, zucchini, etc.

What are you growing in your neck of the woods? My midwife already has zucchini overload but she started her garden much earlier than I.  Do you have vegetables?  A few urns of decorative annuals on the front stoop?  An acre of corn?  A philodendron in the living room?  Or is a garden something you also have been dreaming about for a while?

At some point in college, for some forgotten reason, I was inspired to write out a page-long description of my ideal marriage and my ideal man. It metamorphosed into a fantasy of me as a gloriously wild and free – yet domestic and tranquil – woman riding her horse bareback across green hills, coming back home at dusk to be enfolded in the strong and manly arms of my curly haired husband who had been home growing vegetables and watching our toddler while I did valiant world changing magical things.

I about died laughing as I typed that out.  First of all, the wonderful reality is so different from the vision, and second of all, dreams are important but that one was mostly rooted in self-centeredness.

It is true that I thought I’d probably marry someone wise and gentle who gardened and read a lot. Instead, my husband is loud, smart, highly active, a natural born mechanic/engineer, who works till he drops then he watches TV. Oh, and he homebrews.

So I’ve been wanting to put in a vegetable garden for a couple years now. This year, we finally got the last of the giant junk & concrete pile out of the backyard to reveal the spot where a vegetable garden had thrived when his parents lived here.

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I bought organic, non-GMO seeds this winter in hopes of planting at last, yet I worried that since there was no water source out back, I would not be able to sustain a garden and would have to wait another season.

The Chief’s homebrewing came to my rescue! He turned up one day with hop vine rhizomes to plant so that he could have homegrown hops in his homemade beers, and two days later there was a complete watering system piped up to the vegetable garden site, plus a big trellis to support the vines.  I guess it’s all about motivation.  He put in FOUR spigots which you can see here, so there are lots of options for watering with timers, drip hoses, garden hose, etc.

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Luckily I was able to move really quickly to get this garden in the ground because I already had my garden plan 90% worked out, thanks to poring over this book during the winter:

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I plotted out my planting on graph paper because I am the kind of person who likes doing that.

Then I got a few bags of compost and a box of organic fertilizer and prepared my bed.  Turning over this bed was pretty easy as the old garden had left the soil nice and loose even all these years later.  I AM at the very end of my pregnancy, so I only did a third of it at a time over the course of several days.  Honestly it felt really good to do.  And if jumping on a shovel isn’t helping the baby move down I don’t know what would.

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I raked the soil down, staked out the boundaries with hot pink string (hey, it’s what we had), put in teepees for the beans to climb, laid soaker hose,  and at long last planted my seeds!

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This summer and fall we should be harvesting:

  • 2 kinds of pole beans
  • watermelon
  • muskmelon (like cantaloupe)
  • basil
  • chard
  • radishes
  • carrots
  • 3 kinds of tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • lettuces
  • jalapeno peppers
  • pumpkins
  • hops, of course!

It has been way, way too long since I worked in the soil.  I haven’t grown veggies since I was a kid but I did extensive gardening with perennials and roses through my teens and early 20’s until I graduated college, moved to California, and had no place to garden anymore.  It’s so good to have this in my life again.  I figure I can just about manage to take care of a newborn and a new garden this spring – sounds like an excellent and full plate to me!

What kind of gardening, if any, have you done?  Is anyone else a fan of homegrown veggies?  Who thinks this was some crazy project for a 9 months pregnant lady to do?  I figure if the pioneer women could do it, so could I :)