Garden Box Update

Do you remember back in early spring when I started moving the blocks and taking down the raised beds in the garden?

Then remember when I was gone in late April into May visiting the girls, and the MR started building a new planting bed below the current garden? I posted pictures and was so excited and the project stalled. 

We had graduation, and company, and work stuff, and trips to Oregon. So when the MR and I walked down to the local Sandblast  festival on the river last Saturday, and he mentioned how sore he was, I immediately thought of the bathroom remodel and the heavy cement board he was putting up. 

The next day, I was gazing down off the deck, looking at my tomatoes that he’d freed from the Walks-O-Water, when he asked in surprise if I’d noticed the wall. 


The wall? Oh, that wall.  That’s why he was so tired. 


We are still in need of some good dirt—make that a lot of dirt. 

But my giant pumpkin seems happy in the compost and potting soil I’ve been dumping in the corner. I was so late getting it planted that it’s a good thing the growing season lasts through mid-October. 


After a chilly July, they’re predicting some heat. That’ll give my garden a boost. 

How’s your garden going?

A Lovely Jumble

For many years, we celebrated the 5th of July. Yes, you read that right. The MR’s family would come into town from far-flung regions and sell fireworks. They’d be busy until the wee hours on the official holiday, so we’d gather at our house to celebrate the birth of our nation, a profitable week, and family on the fifth.

One memorable year, the MR had aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and their cousins, and in-laws, and his folks, his sister, and her family all invited for the festivities. I figured a few more wouldn’t hurt, so I invited my brother and his fiance as well. A barbecue with a dozen doesn’t stress me much, but when you start talking 40 and iff-y weather, and all that food, I get a little excited. The girls had a phrase they used when they were little:  “Mom would freak.” That about sums it up.

Everything was going great, until my brother’s ex-wife showed up an hour early for the daughter exchange. I was focused on making corn-on-the-cob for a crowd, I didn’t have time for chit-chat. Perhaps I need to be less worried about tasks and more worried about people. Before the night was over, I’d had a nice visit, set pot holders on fire, and served a great dinner.

All that brings us to poppies, huh? Yeah, I don’t know either. Along with the food, people raved about the backyard. The MR with his precision pruning, my geometric kitchen beds, and the abundance of flowers running wild. Back when we had a tiny third of an acre, we had patches of ground where we let flowers self-seed and take over. Campion, for-get-me-nots, lemon balm, crocosmia, and oriental poppies filled the yard with a riot of color. It was a lovely jumble.

Kim's iphone 096

Perhaps that’s why, when we were visiting Sweet Miss and took a detour to the farmer’s market, I couldn’t pass up two poppy seed heads for a dollar. I’d sent the crowds home that 5th of July with baggies filled with seed pods. Poppies always make me smile.

I think they’ll look lovely on the slope above the tennis court with the Russian sage, crocosmia, tall grass, and weeds. The MR’s folks sent me packets of foxgloves in June. Someday, that steep slope will be a wildflower garden with a little help from me and the MR.

Any kitchen crowd horror stories? What’s your favorite self-seeder that just takes over?

(Note: I wrote this post last night and scheduled it to come out in the morning. Instead it has simply disappeared. This rewrite is slightly better, slightly worse, and slightly different. If the other one happens to be sent out before I can disable it, I’m not losing my marbles. At least not yet.)

It’s Started

Sometimes things just hit you wrong. They set your teeth on edge. They put you in a bad mood. They make you cringe. The MR has that kind of relationship with the guest bathroom.

Thankfully, it’s tucked behind the kitchen safely out of sight. But occasionally, he’d venture through the guest room to the en suite bath, and it’d just drive him crazy. It wasn’t the chrome wrapped sliding doors or the outdated shower fixtures that got to him.

IS Old Chrome Fixtures

It was the lovely, seafoam green tile.

IS Green Tile

Our home was built in the early 90’s, but the influence of the 80’s was alive and going strong. Pale blue, mauvy pink, and yes, seafoam green were sprinkled around. And who can forget the dark green carpet on the floors? This is almost the last of those once popular color schemes to be irradicated.

After his parents left, the MR was just itching to start on his new project. Tearing out the tile, and redoing the bathroom. For the last week, Baby Girl and I have been serenaded with the sounds of pounding. But now the green is gone.

IS Clean Slate

For months, he’s been browsing the eye candy on Houzz and found these two beautiful examples of bathroom tile.

Our goal is to give the bathroom a modern, sleek look while adding some light to one of the few dark rooms in our home. We also have the added bonus of hard water, so we’re battling that constantly. That means dark tiles can look cloudy, and light tiles and grout can turn yellowish without constant attention.

This is the only bath tub in the house, if you don’t count the Japanese soaking tub, so wanted to keep it. And then there’s the issue of bathing small children, huh? The MR thinks of everything. We’d talked about a fixed glass door that went three quarters of the way across, but then what if the next people have small children? They might actually need a bath. Some day, we might even have grandkids. It pays to think ahead.

These are the current tile favorites.

IS Tile Samples

As you can see the gray is quite close to the floor color with a hint more blue, so we’re thinking about going a shade lighter, and we’re still not 100% sure of the dark accent tiles. I can’t wait for it all to come together.

When he was tearing things apart, the MR discovered that the original builders had simply tiled over the sheet rock. Perhaps codes were different 20 years ago. Being a guest bathroom, it hasn’t seen much usage while we’ve lived here—just a few months here and there. We were happy not to find any water damage.

New fixtures have been arriving, doors have been ordered, and it’ll be exciting to share all the progress over the next few weeks.

Any horrible color schemes you’ve had to conquer?

 

Oh, Deer!

Yesterday as the afternoon was winding down, I ventured out to the garden to pick broccoli for dinner. Pleased with the sideshoot production and laughing at Cocoa as she raced wildly about the meadow, I wandered over to the orchard.

It’s been raining off and on all weekend, but I figured we’d had a few hours of sunshine, so I’d pick some currants for a friend who mentioned how much she liked them at a party over the weekend. The season is winding down for these tart berries, but I was still able to pick over a pint in a matter of minutes.

I moved on to the blueberries. We have three different types that each ripen at a different time. I picked a handful and figured I’d add them to the broccoli salad for this evening. Then since I was already close, I decided to see if the remaining beauty plums were ready for picking.

That’s when tragedy struck. Apparently, the deer enjoy our plums as much as we do. One slightly squished fruit dangled from a branch, but half the tree lay on the ground.

OD Broken Plum Tree

After we’ve been celebrating our first year of success with plums here, I was hit hard by this new challenge. It took the pear tree three years to begin to recover from similar treatment by the local wildlife. I worry that the raw tear will get diseased.

OD Raw Wood

Cocoa is quite happy to bark wildly from the deck when she sees deer in the meadow or muching on our landscaping. We miss our little buddy who even with foggy vision would heroicly chase away all invaders—man or beast.

After seeing the sad shape of the beauty plum, I turned to the Shiro tree which is due to ripen soon. After watching the tree set a nice show of fruit with anticipation, I sadly saw just one lonely plum dangling out of my reach. Perhaps the deer can’t stretch any higher than I can.

In anger, I picked an apple on my back up the hill. Both trees are weighted down with a heavy harvest, and I wasn’t going to let the deer get them, too. The apple was quite tart. I’ll have to keep my eye on them to make sure we enjoy their bounty.

The MR is headed to the hardware store to investigate other possible fencing solutions this week.

On a happy note, my mom’s broccoli salad recipe tasted fabulous with broccoli, blueberries, and one squished plum from our garden.

OD Broccoli Salad

Any tips on keeping out the deer? 

Grandma Donna’s Broccoli Salad

Salad:
4 cups broccoli flowerettes
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup purple onion
8-10 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonaisse
3 T sugar
1 T raspberry vinegar

Mix  salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Let the broccoli soften a little and serve. Enjoy!

Note:  My kids have grown up on this salad. They have an aversion to raisins, so we use grapes in the winter, and lately, I’ve substituted currants, blueberries, and a squished plum on occasion. I’ve never used 8 slices of bacon; two or three is plenty for the four of us. Last night I used toasted pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds, since I like them better. I usually opt ought of the onion, because it makes me burp. And if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, go down a tablespoon or too, but taste it first. The vinegar can be a little bite-y. Let’s just say, these are guidelines for a salad, that your mom probably brought to a potluck or two in the 80’s or 90’s, and we still enjoy it today.

 

 

Not Those Kind of Bubbles

When the girls were little they were fascinated by bubbles. We had a sunroom at our first house, and we’d put Sweet Miss in her walker and blow bubbles for her. Later at our next home, the neighbors had a bubble machine, and the girls would laugh and squeal as they ran through showers of bubbles. Bubbles are delightful, magical, and fascinating.

B Bubbles

Unfortunately, recently the MR found a different kind of bubble. Last summer we had the deck recoated just for routine maintenance. Well, the coating had started to bubble up, or at least that’s what we thought. Then the contractor came back and said he’d redo the half of the deck that had a problem.

All was going well, he was an honorable guy, and was going to stand behind his work. Until, he pulled up the problem areas and realized it was the original coating that had seperated from the wood of the deck. The coating he’d applied was still adhered solidly to the first layer.

B Deck Patch

He still willingly fit us into his busy schedule and did a great job first gluing down the patches, sanding, and then refinishing half the deck.

B Deck Patch 2

What changed was who paid for it. Of course, all the trouble was on the shady side of the deck during the nicest week of the summer so far. That’s OK. Cocoa has given the new deck her seal of approval.

B Back to Normal

It looks like this area could use a few potted plants to soften things up, too. Have I ever mentioned this deck is mammoth? Some day, I’ll have the insides all put together and can turn my attention to the outsides in earnest.

Any bubble stories to share?

 

 

When Everything’s Done

If you’ve ever owned a house, you know there’s always something. I was talking to someone about the blog and mentioned that we just have a lot less to do around here now that we’ve completed most of the major repairs. Just when you’re feeling good, something new pops up.

For the last few years, the dogs were sleeping in the laundry room, and the MR would get up and let them out  through the door to the deck in the mornings. Well, sometime over the winter, the door started sticking. It never opened easily, but now it became nearly impossible to open.

Well, the MR’s folks have been visiting for the last few weeks, and his mom started letting Cocoa out in the mornings. She knew the routine, so she just shoved really hard and pushed the door open. Perhaps she told Papa Larry, and next thing you know, he was on a mission.

I thought it was just the house settling. Nope. With over 20 years of wind and rain, the door had started rotting. The MR and his dad took the door down and removed the kick plate to reveal this.

WED Door and View

Shall we move in closer? I’m no carpenter, but that door looks like trouble to me.

WED Rot Removal

The guys took a trip to the hardware store for wood fill and wood. They gathered their tools and got busy.

WED Tools

After removing the rotten wood, they used wood fill and a thin sheet of wood to fill in the gaps. They clamped it all together and left it overnight.

WED Clamps

Baby Girl received a surprise when she heard plastic rattling upon her arrival home after dark.With a few coats of paint, Papa had the door looking great.

WED All Gone

And now it’s good as new.

WED Good as New

The locks a little tricky, but the door swings open with ease. Now we just have to get Cocoa to sleep in the laundry room again. She’s been taking advantage of our company and disrupting routines.

Thanks Papa Larry. It turned out great!

It’s funny how certain areas just kind of get ignored. Maybe a few potted plants would soften this area. Currently we have a bowl of water for the dog, the barbecue, and the smoker, plus some dirt for potting up plants. Now that the door looks so spiffy, it’s time to give the rest of the deck some attention.

How do you entertain your guests?

And Then There Was June

I was at a BBQ last weekend when a friend asked how it was going with Baby Girl home from college. Well honey that’s just the start. June has been a month of changes around here. Not tear off the lower deck, reside the girls’ wing, resurface the floors, move tons of dirt and build retention walls changes.

It’s the MR takes a four-month leave of absence from work, it’s celebrate Sweet Miss’ graduation from college, it’s welcome Baby Girl home from her freshman year away at school, and enjoy two weeks of company kind of change. My day times of solitude have turned into a houseful overnight. Oh, and did I mention Cocoa doesn’t quite know how to behave like a dog now that she’s an only? She doesn’t want to hunt mice on her own; I have to show her how to fetch the ball. Sleeping alone is scary, and are you sure 2:30 isn’t an appropriate time to get up for the day?

Maybe that’s why I’ve only posted a few times this month. I was thinking about it. The blog is really my “thing”, so I try not to let it impact the family too much. I usually take pictures and write posts when the MR is at work and the girls are at school or off with friends. Suddenly, with so much family time, I need to rethink my schedule. It’s all an adjustment. And to be honest, I’m really happy not to have work men here all hours of the day and night. It’s nice to just be family.

So here’s the wrap up of our June.

We started the month of with Sweet Red Gems (more prosaically known as currants) and ended the month with a whole bevy of fruit in Garden & Orchard Updates.  We’ve eaten currants and chicken, currant shortbread bars, currant crisp, and I’m still dreaming of those currant chocolate cupcakes—I have a thing for chocolate. I do believe my family may be getting tired of currants. Don’t worry, we have apples, and plums, and blueberries to come.

Garden Plums & Valley

Me and the MR’s folks even made it to the berry farm down the road for some luscious raspberries. Lemon-currant-raspberry popsicles are on the menu. And the tiny baby beets I saved from critters were quite tasty in last night’s salad. Remember when I talked about the seed exchange and the farmer who grew giant, striped pumpkins? Well, that just might be in our future, too.

J Pumpkin Starts

While this house is open, and pretty, and comfortable inside, our eyes are constantly drawn to the outside, to the view, to the mountains, and trees, and river with its valley. That’s why I post pictures of Summer Storms, and clouds, and birds, and sunsets.

Storm Rainbow

And that’s one reason why we spend so much time out on the deck, The MR bought some new outdoor seating, and I added A Little Color, a Little Softness in the form of pillows. I know I promised a tutorial. Instead, it was so easy, I was inspired to buy more fabric for more pillows. A tutorial is in the future; hold your horses.

Outdoor Seating 2

I thought my sewing was going to be limited to pillows for a while, but no. Remember the blanket I made for Sweet Miss? (Check out A Piece of My Heart.) Her blanket looks lovely.

IMG_2781

Her blanket was in response to the one I made for Baby Girl when she graduated from high schoo. This blanket looks well loved. It’s supposed to symbolize a hug from home, so I guess she missed me now and then.

J Blanket Collage

I bought some more yarn and will be seaming the hexagons together this time. Sweet Miss’ blanket is mostly wool and made up of smaller motifs, so I’m hoping it’ll stand up better to use.

And finally, I shared some weeds from my yard in Simply Pretty.

IMG_2849

I remember when me and the MR moved into our first house. We met the older lady who lived across the street and I complimented her on the stand of pink flowers growing next to the mailboxes in her yard. She tossed my compliment aside and said she called them Myong’s weeds. She’d received some from another neighbor and they were trying to take over. We’ve had poppies scattered across the back yard in stands, crocosmia clumps spreading next to the fence, and yes, Myong’s weeds (better known as rose campion) filling in neglected corners. I saw some campion at the top of the driveway; maybe I’ll add some more beatuiful weeds to the meadow.

Early this month, we were focused on visiting Sweet Miss and celebrating her graduation along with The Fella’s.

IMG_2815

We really are quite proud of these two. It’s been four years of hard work, and they have a bright future ahead of them.

While Sweet Miss has been exploring Scandanavia with a high school chum, Baby Girl has been taking classes and found a summer job. The MR has lots of projects for his time off, and I’ve been working on all sorts of things on the agenda.

It’s been a good month.

How was your June?