Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My First Garden

I planted the majority of these plants in 2008.  I'd say they've filled out nicely, at least the ones the deer and woodchucks haven't destroyed.

Also, please note I've made great progress this year repainting the back of the house.  Ooohhh, it's painful to look at that blue!  I might have finished if it weren't for the blistering heat and humidity, flooding, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, and October nor'easter.  You know--the usual excuses.









My Pride and Joy

In the brutally hot summer of 2010 I decided to plant a garden in an awkward space in the front yard.  It's a little strip of land next to the neighbor to the west.  It's lower than the rest of my yard and had been planted with a strip of iris and ladybells.  When I first moved in my brother mowed the front lawn and didn't realize this strip belonged to me.  Here it is after I had ripped up the grass.


Part of the motivation in planting this area was to procrastinate on painting the back of my house, which is 32 feet high at its peak.  I was burned out from painting the front in 2009.  I primed for 9 hours with a ten-minute break one day and another day for eight hours with a couple short breaks.

Since I didn't want to spend a lot of money, I transplanted plants from my mother's abandoned, large cottage garden in her backyard.  Talk about brutal work.  Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, hauling huge bushes and plants, and mulch from my sister's pile. I am amazed that everything lived, and thrived.

It was a leap of faith, as life generally is, and especially gardening.  I had no idea what colors the flowers would be, or even what they were, since my mother couldn't remember too well.  I ended up with two hydrangeas, phlox, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, Russian sage, a rose, coreopsis, daylilies, coneflower, ribbon grass, and veronica. I bought, on sale or with coupons, four roses, an ornamental grass, a butterfly bush, cranesbill, gaillardia, veronica, catmint, dwarf blue spruce, dwarf Russian sage, and bellflower. My friend Tina gave me a hydrangea as a hostess gift and I transplanted many iris after dividing them, as well as some ladybells.

I had no idea how it would fill out the following year.  That fall I bought three asters and a chrysanthemum and also planted bulbs--red tulips, purple hyacinth and purple grape hyacinth.  Here's a look at the fall garden.







Here's the spring view.



This past summer the garden really came into its own, which is surprising for only its second year.  My mother pointed out that that's because I was transplanting mature plants.  Oh.  Duh.
















The tiki torch is my neighbors;' I'm not so much into tiki torches.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Kitchen

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Well, I finally got my new kitchen.  My oven died while cooking dinner for a birthday party, and my dishwasher died shortly thereafter.  Oh, the decisions!  The mess!  The stress!  The huge amount of MONEY!!  As usual, I had it all planned out with my pre-conceived notions:  white beadboard cabinets, keep the beadboard on the walls, paint the upper walls a cool color (like maybe yellow or blue), brushed nickel bin-style drawer pulls and round knobs, white appliances.  I picked none of the above.  I went with a Martha Stewart design--her Ox Hill cabinets and everything associated with the look in her brochure (cabinet pulls, shelving, corbels, paint color).  The only thing I did differently was to not include a backsplash and to get granite counters (Luna Pearl).

I fell in love with the picture in that brochure, which my kitchen designer at Home Depot had suggested as an alternative plan, plus the white beadboard seemed too busy and sterile and I wanted something simple due to my tiny space.  The layout was a difficult decision.  I've got the front door, back door, bathroom door, basement door and doorway to the dining room all in this space, plus two windows and two radiators. Generally I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I'm not sure it could have been done in another way unless I wanted to make major changes.  I'm more inclined to want to stay with the general look in the house to keep it historically accurate.  I opted for a long stretch of counter which wraps around to a backwards "L" shape rather than gain more space on either side of the stove.  Previously I had had to take down two upper cabinets above the refrigerator when I ordered a new one (the old one started leaking the Thanksgiving weekend of my first year) and it was one-quarter inch too tall.  So I stacked them and put bricks between them for a little more counterspace next to the cooktop.  I'm not sure why the previous owner thought it was a good idea to put a cooktop in and leave the kitchen with about nine inches of counter space.  My sister and I had dragged up a base cabinet from the basement, and that was handy for storage and more counterspace.

I changed my mind and decided I wanted stainless steel appliances when I saw my "dream" stove in person--an LG.  I got an Advantium GE microwave oven and a GE dishwasher.  I love them.  I already had a stainless Frigidaire fridge, even though it's too small and I hate it.  I'll just wait till it dies and replace it eventually.

The best decision I made was to gut the exterior walls to add insulation.  What a difference it made this past Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad winter!  I never wanted to leave that room!  Also, I had the radiators sandblasted and they were powder-coated silver and look fabulous!  But, whoa, that was expensive, and required bleeding the pipes to remove them.  I also like how the floor refinishing came out.

Please excuse the unfinished painting.  I had removed paint from most of the trim, doors and windows but was so sick of dealing with construction dirt, dust and grime, I didn't want to finish.  I just wanted to enjoy my beautiful kitchen and entertain.  I started demolition in October and the contractor finally finished in April (we had trouble with the cabinets being warped and it took a while to get replacements).