The Window Saga Continues

I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to see whether the rest of the windows went in. Let me tell you, I had one sleepless night envisioning broken windows everywhere.

We had one disaster, one wrong size, and one oops we forgot, but the other 12 windows went in without a hitch.

I am oh so glad that I’m not the one lifting a hundred pounds of glass up on to the scaffolding—not one of my strengths.

scaffolding

The three windows we need to finish the job are all on order. In about two weeks, they’ll arrive, we’ll schedule install, and then we’ll be ready for the window films.

With any luck, that will all happen before June 24, when the film people show up on my doorstep. Until then we’ve put back the furniture and are enjoying a rustic, tape sunrise in the broken pane.

While it’s hard to tell the difference in the pictures I post, it’s really nice in real life to be looking at the view rather than the strange haze and stripes in the window.

clear doors

 

When you have to clear all your papers and piles off the kitchen desk so the guys can install a new window, you get to actually see how nice your desk looks when it’s white and clean.

Desk

 

I’m going to be more selective in what I allow to take up space in this area—yes to pretty boxes and plants, no to junk mail and clipboards.

With the Memorial Day Weekend, we’ve barbecued, played games and enjoyed spending time with Sweet Miss and her fella’ who are visiting for the long weekend.

I’ve never lived by a cemetery and was amazed the first year we moved here to see the graves decorated with flags for the holiday. We planned to stop and take pictures on the way home from the movies yesterday, but several families were gathered around graves of loved ones when we drove up.

It seemed a better choice to let you just picture in your mind small flags and crosses scattered across the hillside in remembrance of those we’ve lost.

Remembering the sweet people I’ve lost and loving those I’m with this holiday.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

Thanks to Mary Kay and Linda for sharing their horrible remodeling experiences. I haven’t had to live with orange wall and explosions—yet. Your pain helped me laugh a little at my own.

 

An Epic Window Drama

It feels like we’ve been talking about windows forever. We’ve had blinds people out, window film people out, and glass people out. They’ve measured, and priced, and offered recommendations. We’ve pondered, and pictured, and made decisions.

And yesterday after emails, and consultations, and ordering, and scheduling, it was all going to magically come together. They installed the upstairs windows without a pause. Then one of the garage windows was too wide, and the window at the base of the stairs wasn’t on the order. That’s OK; they’re not getting solar film, so we can wait.

Then they started on the great room. Windows one, two, three, and four went in without a hitch. Then came window five. After 20 years, our house has settled. Those top level, fancy windows, are slightly misshapen.

 

ladderWhen I left off babysitting the dogs to grab a glass of water and check progress, I noticed they were having a bit of trouble removing the old window. Nothing like someone hovering to make you nervous, so I let them be.

Unfortunately, all is not well.

break
As you may have guessed, they don’t just have this glass laying around. It’s two weeks to order, and then a matter of scheduling the installation. Don’t they know we have graduation and an open house in June? We want everything to look pristine.

Let’s be real. If my front yard still looks like this, people won’t be expecting much.

yard

Today is day two of window install, so say a little prayer with me that the two even larger custom windows go in smoothly and that the French door panels have arrived. Otherwise, we can just make up a good story about crazy hunters, with really bad aim, wandering onto our property.

Window films are pushed back to mid-June. We don’t need to reduce the heat or glare before summer, right? This will give my in-laws a little entertainment—kind of like a built-in floor show with scaffolding instead of trapeze.

Now I need to fertilize the tomatoes, check the garden, buy some groceries, and plant a zucchini before I’m banished with the dogs to the garage and hangout room. The dogs aren’t allowed to roam with $1,000 pieces of glass sitting out, and I don’t expect quality work from the installers if they have to listen sad and lonely dogs howl and bark for hours. It’s time to get moving.

Have you had home projects go awry?

 

Yarn Shop Hooky

Last week I wasn’t home taking care of business, I was off playing hooky. Not the standing on the street corner, smoking cigarettes, getting into trouble hooky—I’m a little old for that—I was wandering the streets checking out yarn shops.

It was the annual local yarn shop tour, me and my buddy Kristi have been checking out for the last seven or eight years. She could only take one day off work, but I spent two more visiting 21 of the 26 shops. It was the 10th anniversary, so the shops were handing out pins.

pins 001

I know it’s silly, but a pocket full of pins sure made me happy.

 

Now some of you might be wondering why bother. You can buy any yarn you want online, right? Well, there’s a certain amount of truth to that, but you can’t see the colors or feel the softness through the computer screen.

And knitters and crocheters are a generous lot. They’re constantly offering tips and tricks to make your projects more successful. Did you know that the crazy busy yarn shop in downtown Bellingham has a sale section upstairs? I was the only person in the shop for the first time ever; it’s usually wall-to-wall people at Northwest Handspun. While I didn’t pick up the locally dyed and spun yarn they were featuring, I did leave with some sale yarn.

As I was walking out, the owner was on the sidewalk sewing and stopped me to see what I’d purchased. Did you know that adding a strand of mohair to the heel and sole of your sock can stop those pesky holes? The mohair fibers strengthen and naturally felt together to keep your socks in good shape. I’d given up on hand-knit socks; our tile floors seemed to generate holes in minutes. Now I have something new to try.

The shop up in Lynden we’d visited last fall has moved and more than tripled in size. I picked up some lovely yarn for pillow covers—the MR has complained about softness. The owner mentioned that all of their stock at Wear on Earth is available online, so if I run out of yarn for my project I won’t have to head nearly to Canada to get more.

Apple Yarns also sells online. None of the skeins in-store are tagged, so they can easily change the price to be competitive with other online retailers. While I’ve been to Great Yarns in Everett over and over, I was surprised to note their huge selection of Noro yarns. I bought the book Crochet Noro and have been wanting to try out some of their amazing designs.

A friend had mentioned that Yarn of Eden down the road in Country Village was really tiny. Well, they’ve expanded to a new space, and the workers were so helpful.

I love the feel of Tolt Yarn and Wool just south of here in Carnation. I’ve never taken any of their classes, but I see one in the future. I just want to sit in their lovely space.

Our own local Quintessential Knits where I spend my Tuesday afternoons in knitting group was filled with friendly faces. One of the featured designers, the genius behind Fiber Fetish, told me all about the Portland Yarn Crawl. With two girls in school in Oregon next year, I may have to add that to my calendar.

I was excited to note that one of the workers at Quintessential had designed felted bags for another shop. I didn’t realize that was part of her expertise. My felting attempts have been a bust; it’s nice to know I have help just down the street.

Along with tips, tricks, and a better feel for some local shops, I spent a fun day with a sweet friend. I even talked my dad into joining me for coffee when I was out on my own. We caught up at Makers’ Mercantile—just a short drive from him. I enjoyed a yummy, gluten-free treat, and he got Baby Girl’s senior photo. We also played with photosensitive yarn. They sell white yarn that turns pink or purple when it’s out in the sun. If the girls were younger, I’d definitely find a project for that.

Now I have wonderful new patterns, beautiful new yarn, and lots of catching up around here. The MR tells me something has eaten the leaves off my broccoli. I was thinking 6-inch tall plants were safely on their way. I’ll try the homemade garlic insect-repellent. Maybe they still have a chance.

Have you experienced the joys of supporting local shops?

 

Let’s Talk Tomatoes

Maybe it’s gardeners, or maybe it’s women, or maybe it’s just that time of year, but everywhere I turn people are talking about tomatoes.

Last week at Bible study one lady was way too successful starting them from seed—twist my arm, I’ll take one. Then Ruth, who’s a few years shy of 90, told how she lays her tall seedlings flat, so she doesn’t have to dig a deep hole and winds up with a strong root system.  Smart, practical, tried-and-true—I like it.

The newbie with an abundance of seedlings wondered if it was time to start putting plants out. That’s when another wise gardener shared the benefits of walls-o-water that store up energy during the day releasing their heat overnight. With highs in the 50’s and 60’s this week, heat-loving tomatoes could use a little extra warmth around here.

You may remember I’m a total believer in the benefits of walls-o-water, so I was shocked to realize I’d had a tender tomato plant outside for two weeks without any protection.  What was I thinking? I’d have to do that when I got home…

That’s when she started sharing more tips and tricks on how to set them up easily. The plastic walls can be quite unwieldy as you fill them, so she recommended placing a 5-gallon bucket over the seedling to protect it as you add water to the individual sleeves. After the wall-o-water is completely filled, you simply remove the bucket, and you’re set.

Well last year, we had sprinklers but no tap down in the garden, so I made Baby Girl run a hose off the deck, filled a large bucket with water, and then ran back and forth with my watering can filling each sleeve. My friend’s system sounded so much easier. She even adds a controller to the hose, so she doesn’t end up with water everywhere. Someday, I’ll be that organized and efficient.

Well me and the MR went out to the garden after my new tomato plant was delivered—right to my doorstep, thank you very much—and got to work.

bucket trick

Unfortunately, my walls-o-water have seen better days. They were never perfect, but when you’ve set out tender plants that need protection, they were better than nothing. Now, we have leaks, sleeves morphed into giant pools, and totally unsteady shapes.

What all this means is that while my friend’s 5-gallon method worked like a charm, when I went back to check on my tomatoes a few days later, the walls-o-water where lying flat squishing the tomatoes and the adjacent broccoli.

Collapsed

So I set them up again using some small supports that were close to hand; they were a total bust. So I grabbed my 5-foot stakes and a hammer. They are a bit of overkill, but so far they’ve done the trick.

With Poles

With pooling like this, I do believe it’s time to purchase a few more walls-o-water, and this time I’ll test them before setting out my precious plants.

pool and poles

 

After all the tomato talk at Bible study, I figured it was a sign when one of the local garden centers was featuring tomatoes in their free Saturday seminar. The speaker was Steve Goto of Gotomato. I attended his lecture last year and reaped a banner harvest, so I figured a refresher course wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes, it takes a time or two for information to sink in.

He endorsed my friend Ruth’s method of planting tall, spindly tomatoes on their side, but he shocked the crowd by removing all but the top few leaves. This ensures good contact with the soil. By the way, if you’re buying one of those new, grafted tomatoes, this planting method totally takes away the benefits of a strong root stock, so don’t do it.

People have all this advice about suckers—to cut or not to cut? Well, that’s easy; you just have to decide what you want. If you want lots of medium-size tomatoes, leave the suckers. If you want larger and fewer tomatoes, cut to a central leader. For cherry tomatoes—they’re never going to get that big—so leave the suckers. Makes perfect sense.

Now back east, people have no problem growing tomatoes. I always thought it was because of they’re hot summers. Well, all along the west coast, we have issues growing tomatoes. It’s not just the heat; it’s the soil. This area used to all be under water, giving us a high salt content in our soil. Steve strongly recommends organic fertilizer to help combat this.

He also uses a no till method to keep the micro-organisms in place—tilling destroys the infrastructure. Well, I’m all for easy. Last year, I used his lasagna method for the garden using a layer of worm castings or compost, soil activator (humic acid), organic fertilizer, topping it all off with mulch or potting soil.

I was a little lax when it came to topping it with potting soil this year, and the dogs have been dragging worm castings and humic acid all over the deck, so I’ll have to get on to that. I also need to mix up some more organic fertilizer.

My silly worms don’t make enough castings to put a one-inch layer all over the garden, but Steve advised using different types of compost or castings each year to change up the added biology making the soil stronger. Maybe I need to pick up some compost, too.

Now some gardeners will dig a hole, add soil amendments, and then the plant. Steve said to spread out the additives to encourage a wider root system. He also said not to baby your plants and that less water boosts sugar content. Instead of checking to see if your tomato needs water in the heat of the day, check in the morning. Most plants (just like people) will look wilty in the heat of the day.

Last year, I had loads of tomatoes. Let’s hope this year will be just as bountiful.

What’s growing in your garden?

 

 

 

The Wall

Me and the MR were out on the deck watching clouds when a hummingbird whirred by. He told me it was time to put out my hummingbird feeder, and I readily agreed.

As I drove home from running errands the next day, I started thinking of what I needed to do. I had to find the shepherd’s crook and feeder and whip up some syrup. About that time, I rounded the corner of the driveway and decided that could all wait.

Our front yard is a bit of a mess at the moment.

Mounds of Dirt 2

 

It’s been months since I updated you on the wall project. I had hoped it’d be finished by now, but it’s a friend of ours doing the work, and we told him that we weren’t in a hurry–just have it done by June. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice.

He has made some great progress. The steps are in.

Steps

And the wall is coming along.

Yes, I am up at the crack of dawn to take pictures for you guys--be thankful.

Yes, I am up at the crack of dawn to take pictures for you guys–be thankful.

So for now, with the front yard a mess, and the driveway strip a mess, I’ve limited my gardening to vegetables.

Side Yard

 

Well, I do have a few pots, and Baby Girl did come home with some lovely cosmos and vibrant lobelia–I guess a few flowers wouldn’t hurt.

Flowers 3

 

Any big landscaping projects happening at your house?

 

Look at this Year’s Insta-Garden

I’ve always just planted seeds. Buying starts seemed like cheating.

But between slugs and varmints, I haven’t been able to get anything growing around here. All those vegetables at the FFA plant sale rescued me. It’s like just add water and boom insta-garden.

I have a lovely row of leafy lettuce next to my slug-eaten marigolds.

lettuce

I decided not to tempt fate lest I come back in a few days to find all my lettuce gone. So I went ahead and moved my crazy box of protection. It didn’t help the peas, but I have hopes for the lettuce.

lettuce protected

We only harvested a few stalks of asparagus this year, but next year the plants will have been in for two and some for three years, and we’ll be able to pick to our hearts’ content.

asparagus

 

Those tall stalks are storing up energy for the future.

A tomato, broccoli, a cucumber, and a pumpkin rounded out the last planting bed.

broccoli tomato squashI’m excited to try tying the tomato plant to the tennis court fence to keep it from sprawling all over the place. I still need another tomato plant–maybe the Civic Club plant sale to benefit the library this weekend will have just what I need.

Now we did pick up more than just vege’s at the FFA sale. Me and the MR have envisioned a Swath of Purple on the slope next to the house. He even went so far as to buy a bunch of lavender plants online last year. Unfortunately, they arrived while we were on vacation, and they didn’t survive a week in a tin mailbox. We planted them without any luck.

So we snatched up a dozen at the plant sale a few weeks ago, and the MR replaced the dried up sticks with new healthy plants. The slope of purple flowers will smell heavenly and lessen the amount of very steep mowing.

Lavender

 

We went with four different kinds of lavender. It will be interesting to see whether one type does better than the others. The MR also has plans to add sprinklers to this area to help get the trees and lavender established.

Meanwhile, we have a few more flowers to plant, and I have a few spaces in my garden that need to be filled. I do want some beets, and the MR and Baby Girl always enjoy carrots. I saw some healthy pea plants at the grocery store, and I was tempted to pick some up. The fact that we were in the middle of a thunderstorm deterred me for the moment. It’s late in the season, but I’m both stubborn and determined to grow peas by golly.

We have been a little busy around here. It was Mom’s Weekend down at Oregon State. I had a fabulous time with Sweet Miss and her friends.

  
And the MR and BG were up to all sorts of excitement with prom last weekend. Our little girl is growing up. She looked quite lovely. I was sad to miss her and her friends looking so beautiful.

baby girl promThe MR did a great job taking pictures and holding down the fort at home. Now we have just five weeks till graduation.

Life is good, and the garden will grow even when we’re distracted with living.

How is your garden growing? Do you use mostly seeds or transplants?

 

 

 

April at Home

Looking back on April, we talked about windows and travel, herbs and gardening, and a little bit of this and that.

Sadly, it’s been more of a talking month than a doing month, but it is what it. That just means we have all the more to do come summer.

We started off talking about windows–to be more specific glare. My Futures So Bright you might have to wear your shades inside. That can be a problem. With heat, the glare, the fading, we decided it was time to have solar film installed on the windows in the great room.

Yea! We made a decision, but first…you name it. First, we should have the windows cleaned, and the ones with blown seals need to be replaced, and we should get a second quote on all those replacements, and maybe the second guy doesn’t want to work with the height and the slope constraints, and we get tired and just go with the first one, and then they have to come back for more measurements. Sound like nothing is ever going to happen?

Well, the glass company was here yesterday, and they’re ordering glass today, and scheduling the job mid-May. So cross your fingers; it’s all going to work out.

Meanwhile we have lovely clean windows (except for a few random doggy nose prints). The custom etching around the entry glistens in the sun.

Hawaii windows 007

And the rest of the windows are pretty spectacular, too–except for the screens. In our quest to See Clearly Now, the MR has been redoing the screens. Cocoa thinks it’s all just a big game.

Cocoa wrapped in screen

After Road Tripping to the University of Idaho, and considering her options quite seriously on the beaches of Mauai, Baby Girl has decided to attend the University of Oregon next fall.IMG_0013

Check out the beauty of Hawaii in Keeping That Aloha Spirit.

If you’re interested in some amazing appetizers give An Herbal Fete a gander. They were a hit at the First Bloom Event, and the local FFA raised over $1,000 in ticket sales and sold $4,000 in plants that first night. In the Party Aftermath I showed you all those plants just waiting to be planted.

Plants

 

Most of them have found a home, but a few still need some help. The lettuce plants are now receiving the protection I belatedly gave the peas in This Is War. The peas didn’t make it, but let’s hope the lettuce will.

The MR extra netting and new fencing in the orchard may have done the trick. The trees are starting to fruit up. I love the hope and promise those beautiful blooms capture.

Pear Blossom

We can celebrate another success; the new mattress pad gets a thumbs up for staying in place. Choices encourages you to rethink problems so that success is inevitable and maybe buy a new mattress pad.

Hope you had a fabulous April. Happy May Day!