From the Garden…

15 09 2011

It’s been a rather fruitful summer in my garden – I’ve gotten more tomatoes than I can count, lots of jalapenos, and finally two cantaloupes!

Finally, I have roses too!

Someone's been nibbling on my cantaloupes!

Could it be bunnicula?

No, it's this woodchuck!

Don't worry, I totally salvaged them by cutting off any nibbled bits!

I still can't believe these came from my garden...from seeds!



The Bush that Took Over

16 08 2011

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my parents recently helped me to cut back the three bushes next to my deck that were seriously starting to take over the house.  They’re looking a little naked lately, but I’m expecting the foliage to come back thickly as they get more sun, and I’m loving the cleaner look I have now that they’re trimmed.  I promised I’d show you how they look, so here they are!

Hard to get a view because the neighbors' trees in the background blend in a bit

From the driveway - it's still got some leaves!

And underneath - so much nicer! this is where I'll put more brick, stone and mulch to finish it off!






The Cantaloupes are Coming, the Cantaloupes are Coming!

12 08 2011

So, the other day I was out in the garden, checking on my plants, pulling a few errant weeds, when I noticed a little something…

Hmm, what could it be?

I got FAR more excited than the situation warranted, but let’s be honest – I grew this HUGE cantaloupe vine from seeds.

I almost killed it by leaving it alone outside without water as a seedling, and planted it as a fluke, when I thought it was going to die.  And now, I’m growing real cantaloupes!!

I thought all the flowers would turn into fruit, but I read that there are male and female flowers, and you have to have bees around to pollinate them.  So it was sort of up to fate as to whether I’d get any actual cantaloupes at all.  And yet, here they are!

First, I found this little one….

Then, I was REALLY excited when I poked around and found an even bigger one!

You can see that it’s almost the size of my hand!

And then I went out to check on them again (which I’m doing as if I were stalking them), and I knelt down to take a photo of something else, and lo and behold…

This one is HUGE!

Definitely as big as my hand!

Of course, a certain nosy Basset hound got wind of this one yesterday, and I saw some serious tail wagging – I don’t think that’s because he was excited that his mom had grown cantaloupes, but because his favorite game on earth (really his favorite thing on earth) is playing fetch.  And to him, I think this looks like a really big tennis ball.  So I’ve got to keep an eye on it to make sure he doesn’t grab it off the vine to play with it!

Now I’ll just be holding my breath and checking them daily until they ripen – I’m so worried they’ll either get infested or infected! I think I may need to prop them up off the ground too to avoid rot.  I’ll keep you posted!

How does your Garden Grow?

11 08 2011

Remember that children’s rhyme – “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  My grandmother used to say this to us all the time!

So here are some shots of how my garden is growing…or overgrowing, in the case of my cantaloupes. Holy cow, the vines are EVERYWHERE.

See those vines in front and to the left? Yup, all cantaloupe!

These peppers are STILL maturing. They take forever!

Lots of jalapenos coming along!

And more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I think I harvest ten a day. Seriously.

See? Taking over.

Will it become a fruit?

It's even creeping up the neighbor's fence!

I picked up a couple of little ceramic birds to sit in the garden as well

I think they're a nice addition

My lavender. It's my favorite.

And finally, the butterfly bush is blooming!

No butterflies yet, but I know they're coming!

A Small Garden Project

5 08 2011

I should never be allowed into Michaels.  It’s just bad news every time!

I always find a project to do – or invent a project to do.

So when I was there recently looking for stencils for the closet doors in the guest room, I wandered up and down a number of aisles, including the  wooden items.  I loved the little short stools (for kids), but didn’t really have a need for one.

Then, I was wandering down another aisle, when I came across some supplies for tiling, something I’ve never tried.  I decided to get the little stool, stain and seal it, and then tile the top of it and put it in the garden (where, who knows?).  So I picked up all my supplies (including having to pick up some exterior wood sealer at Lowes a few days later) and got started.

I stained the stool and learned that I had an oil-based stain.  So my tips from the fireplace paint are also applicable –

  • Use gloves to apply it.
  • Get brush cleaner so you can clean the brushes.
  • If you don’t want to clean the brush right away, keep it in a plastic bag to keep it moist.
  • Preferably stain outside since the fumes can be a bit much…I didn’t, but I should have!
After applying the stain, I waited fifteen minutes and then rubbed any excess stain off with a soft cloth.  The can of stain recommends waiting eight hours between staining.  Since I was leaving for the weekend, I waited a few days to do the second stain, and then will apply the sealant.

After the first coat of stain

It’s looking pretty nice already! And of course, when I do something and like it – like staining – I think, what else can I stain? I’m sure when I get around to staining the deck, I’ll be fed up with staining things, so that will get it out of my system!

I’ll get some photos up once the stool is done of the rest of the process. I’m looking forward to seeing how the tiling goes – especially because when I eventually re-do my kitchen, I want to tile my own backsplash!

Small, But Nagging, House Projects

2 08 2011

I am the queen of believing things will take longer than they do.  That’s why I always put off filling the Brita until there is absolutely no water left – even though I timed myself one morning and was able to fill it before the timer went off for my oatmeal.  Less than one minute.

So there were a few jobs around the house that I’d been putting off. They were small, but I just needed to stop procrastinating and do them.  It turned out that the electrical ones did take a lot longer than I anticipated, but there is something so fulfilling about getting things knocked off your to do list!

Curtain Tie-Back

In my upstairs bathroom, I added a single curtain across the window to add some privacy (it also makes the bathroom look very fancy, incidentally).  This is a great idea, but unfortunately, I have an air-conditioning/heating vent just under the window, so the curtain also blocked that. My mom had suggested getting some hardware to tie it back during the day – that would still leave me with privacy, but also free up the vent.

Not a major project, but I still dragged my feet on doing it! Finally, I found a piece of hardware I liked at Lowes and installed it.  I went from this:

To this:

Simple, nice – nothing major, but just enough to allow for more air flow.  And guess what? It’s helped my house be cooler upstairs.  Don’t know why I put it off for so long!


I was also still in the process of replacing all of the outlets in my house (and some switches too).  There are still a couple left to do – those that major appliances are plugged into – but I finally pushed myself to get the rest done.  I went through all the outlets in the guest room to remove the extra tab, which tied them back into the light switch by the door again – I can’t tell you how much that had been bugging me!

I also went through all the outlets in the office and replaced those, as well as the switch plates – much nicer.

And then I needed to motivate myself to replace the GFCIs downstairs.  I needed to replace the one in the downstairs bathroom (the upstairs bath had been done by the previous owner), and the three in my kitchen.  Installing a GFCI is slightly different, because if you wire it incorrectly, it may not be a ground fault interruptor as it’s set up to be.

If you’re not sure what the difference is between a GFCI and a regular outlet – GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor and they’re used in locations that are close to water.  Water is a great conductor of electricity (did you know that you’re not even supposed to be using water from a tap while there’s lightning because you could be electrocuted? I just found that out recently) so you don’t want to have just a regular old outlet there.

Yes, even if you want to save some money, like one homeowner I just saw on Holmes Inspection. Spring for the GFCI, it’s not that much more expensive and it could save your life.

The GFCI is designed to trip whenever it detects the slightest variation in the electrical current – like if there’s water involved.  So when you’re installing it, you have to make sure that it is set correctly so that it will trip if and when you need it to.

I installed the outlets based on the wiring instructions included in the box (if you’d like me to go into more detail on that, just let me know and I’d be happy to do a separate post!) and reset the outlet to make sure it was wired correctly.  It was set perfectly! So I replaced all of the outlets, and even replaced the switch next to the sink in the kitchen – that, combined with a new lightbulb over the sink means I fixed the outlet/switch that I thought I was going to have to call an electrician for – man, was I tickled about that!




And I was also pretty pleased that I finally replaced the knob fan switch with a new one:



Shed Door Knob

Not long after I moved in, I picked up a new door knob and lock for my shed – my neighbor (yes the creepy one) had mentioned that he would have mowed my lawn while I was away one time, save for my shed being locked. It wasn’t, but the door often stuck.  But it clued me in to the fact that anyone could get in there.  It’s not connected to my house, so it wasn’t a safety issue from that perspective, but it was in terms of someone hiding out in there.

But my dad pointed out to me that I’d need to chisel the door to get the plate flush, and he knew I’d never used a chisel before.  I finally got comfortable using one on my interior upstairs doors, so I thought I’d give it a go.  What a nice difference.

Here’s the finished product!

Now I just have to remember to take a key whenever I’m working on something outside!


I use the term “bush” in quotes because these things growing next to my deck are HUGE.  The previous homeowner had never trimmed them (there are three, two unknown types and one holly) and they’d obviously been planted back in 1984 when the place was built.  They’d gotten to be almost as tall as the house, and my neighbor has been commented to me for pretty much the entire time that I’ve lived there that I need to get it trimmed.

I almost paid someone to do it last year, but he wanted $200.  So no.

But it was too big a project to tackle alone. My parents said they would help me out with it this year, so on a crazy humid morning after I’d already trimmed the part I could reach, my dad and mom came by with their truck, mini chainsaw and a ladder and we went to it – or rather, my dad went to it, and my mom and I piled up branches and tried to avoid falling debris.

My dad was concerned that I’d be left mostly with a bunch of sticks, since when you don’t prune a large bush like that, it only grows leaves on the outside.  I knew from watching an old episode of This Old House a few years ago that I was going to run into that, and I wasn’t as concerned with how it would look as I was with how overgrown it was.  So we chopped it way back and down, and although I’ve got less privacy on my deck now (not a big deal where it’s located), the bush is MUCH more under control.

I don’t have a before picture, and I’ll take an after picture at some point…but my plan now is (yes, I’ve always got new plans forming – for every project I do, there’s four more behind it!) to pull up the grass on that side of the fence (which is mostly weeds), put down some of the brick edging around the bushes and mulch in there, put some stone down for the rest of it to match the stone in my front yard, and then put down some more of those tire pieces to make a little path.  I’d also like to replace some of the front fencing with a gate so that I can actually get in and out of the backyard without having to hop a fence! So I’ll be working on that stuff at some point – the gate will probably wait until next year.

Apple Pie

And finally, just because I was happy about it – I used some fresh apples from the local farmer’s market (which I LOVE) to make an apple pie – it was fabulous:

Just about to go into the oven...

And just out of the oven....MMMMM!



Garden Miscellany

1 08 2011

You may be wondering how my garden is coming along…well, my veggie garden is out of control! I’ve gotten four jalapenos (and finally had one in some guacamole on Friday), 10 tomatoes (cherry ones), and there are three big peppers on their way! Plus, the cantaloupe is starting to move from taking over the raised bed to taking over my lawn!

Here are some shots:

Peppers! They're so pretty!

Jalapeno, post watering. They're pretty hot!

Even though these little guys are trying to strangle everything in their path, they're very pretty!

This is a new addition to my deck plants - so beautiful!

And, of course, we've been hearing lots of these - this was a dead cicada. YUCK.

I'm growing this basil inside, and it is HUGE and lovely

As I mentioned, I got some cherry tomatoes and jalapenos from my garden!

So, of course, I had to use some of them and my basil to make a pizza!

Mixed with a little olive oil, garlic and basil...

And I get a fabulous pizza for dinner! I should have held out for the fresh mozzarella, but I didn't wait, so it wasn't as good as it could have been!