Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lookin shady

Installation of the bamboo shades was a sweaty affair.  Mostly because if we had the ceiling fan on, I would've been decapitated while on the ladder....or at least whacked in the melon really hard. 
It was a lot of up the ladder, down the ladder, measure and mark brackets, pre-drill holes, screw in brackets, wrestle to get shade attached, refresh my beer, rinse and repeat 7 times.  Okay, I didn't refresh my beer 7 times, but you get the idea.  It was all so worth it! 
These affordable and pretty shades were a deal on  They are the Dali Native Bamboo Roman shades, and they are available in every size imaginable.  This was essential, as six of the windows are 27 inches wide, and the one on the other side of the door is just 16 inches wide. 
Don't they look like they were made for these windows?  Yes, they do.
The shades are 74 inches long, which is perfect for covering the entire window when that hot western sun comes streaming in.  I got all 7 shades for $150 because I'm a Club 'O' member.  Not bad considering comparable bamboo shades at Home Depot were $28 apiece, and they didn't even have the 16in. size I needed.  I love you, Overstock! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Porch progress

This porch is a never-ending project.  We've painted two more coats of paint on the porch structure and things are looking much better now.  We also painted three coats of paint on the ceiling because (dummy me) I decided to use flat paint on the beadboard, and I hated how it looked after two coats.  I chose to use the same pale blue from the den in this porch area, as the rooms are connected with french doors.  The color (Behr Harbor Sky) is so pale, you can hardly tell it isn't white.  The last coat is a mixture of semi-gloss and flat because I was too cheap to buy a full gallon of semi, so it came out to an eggshell-ish finish.  Whatever.
The gross light fixture came down and SURPRISE!  The light box is not centered in the room, so they 'swagged' the fixture over a few inches. 
Because we didn't want to tear up the original ceiling moving the box, we just decided to suck it up and have the electrician put the fan up a bit off-center.  It's so fabulous, I don't think anyone will notice or care!
I got the Minka Aire 'Acero' fan from CSN Lighting right here.  It was expensive, but I was able to use a $40 CSN prize from Elisa at What the Vita's giveaway, so that brought it down a little bit.  Everyone that has seen this fan is in love with it.  It has a sweet remote wall controller and the light even has a dimmer function....ooh la la!  Thank you Elisa for contributing to our fabulous fan!
So, right now the place is in shambles with junk everywhere, but next up is the installation of my bamboo shades from Overstock.  They look amazing!  And it only took me hours upon hours on a ladder while sweating profusely to put them up!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is that a zucchini in your pocket?

The zucchinis in my container garden are apparently on steroids.  I pulled a couple monsters out of there and couldn't resist snapping a couple pics to show off.  
The squash isn't too shabby, either.  These guys were sooo tasty in a stir fry that same night!  And then the next week I pulled this one off the plant:
It is just as big, and we still haven't eaten it.  What should I make?  I'm thinking some veggie lasagna is in our future, if I can get a spare hour to cook something.  By the time I'm done with work, errands, exercise, picking up the house, or whatever I need to do, it's already 7pm.  I never feel like cooking anything that late.  I don't know how you ladies with kids do it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hydrangea Tour

I'm sort of obessed with Hydrangeas.  Anyone who comes in my yard will see that I have quite a few different varieties of these lovely shrubs.  The very first ones I purchased were two 'Endless Summer' beauties that I put in the front of the house.
Unfortunately, they got way too much sun and were very sad, so I moved them to a location mostly shaded by our neighbor's garage...they also grew a lot from that first summer!
Alas, the one on the right was getting much more sun that the other one.  Yes, the one on the right also had alot more blooms on it, but it looked like this during the day:
How unfair is this?  It has more flowers but also wilts terribly.  What do you want, hydrangea!??  Let's see wilt that a little closer...
Nooooooo!!!!  I had to come up with a solution that didn't involve moving it again, so I temporarily made a little 'Hydrangea Hut' to shade the hottie on the right.  It was made out of a cardboard plant tray and tall bamboo stakes.  It was so silly looking!
Eventually, I graduated to a slightly less stupid-looking solution.... 
I'm hoping to put up a small arbor over both of the hydrangeas next summer to shade them.  Until then, the basket works okay.  My other hydrangea baby is the lovely Annabelle on the opposite side of the yard.  She also gets wilted in the hot afternoon sun, but definitely tolerates it better.  She is only one season old, and already an impressive size!
I also gave into the hype and purchased two 'Incrediball' Annabelles, but unfortunately, they don't have any flowers, and I'm also not seeing much new growth.  Boo!  These may be going back to the garden center next year if they don't impress me!  Hopefully after I cut them down this fall, next year they will grow nice big blooms in the summer.
On the patio (north) side, I have two Hydrangea vines on trellises, they get up to 60 feet long and sport delicate lace-cap flowers in the spring and early summer.  Unfortunately, they love to sneak onto the brick instead of the trellis!  Wouldn't that be stupid to have an empty trellis and all the vine on the garage?  Yeah, that would totally happen to me.  I gave to guide the growth with twistie ties so that doesn't happen.   
Next to the vines, I have two other lesser-known hydrangeas.
This one is called 'Homigo', it is debated online whether or not it survives in our zone, but it is protected from wind and cold by the brick garage, so it is thriving here!  I love the huge, strong-petaled blooms. 
The other guy over here is called 'Preziosa' and it is truly special. Again, it's only supposed to be hardy to zone 6, but with winter protection it can also do well in zone 5. 
It has unique color-changing qualities.  The smaller blooms emerge white, then change to pink, finally changing to reddish-purple at the end of the growing season.  The leaves emerge purple-tinted, mature to green, and again acquire red to purple tints in fall.  The stems are dark red - gorgeous!  Right now, we are at the mid-point with deep purple-green foliage and delicate light pink flowers, but the reddish color is slowly tinging the petals.... 
What I love about these shrubs is that when they are in a good spot, they are mostly carefree plants.  Too much hot sun, and they will wilt - but if they get morning sun and not much else, they will be totally happy with a daily sprinkle.  I don't use fertilizers, because some hydrangeas are sensitive to them.  Fertilizers also tend to encourage foliage to grow, while discouraging blooms.  I use Aluminum Sulfate on the endless summers to change them to blue, but the rest of them are eu natural and don't get any chemical help from me.  

As far as cutting down, I don't cut the endless summer until spring.  Annabelles always bloom on new wood, so you can cut them down to the ground whenever you want before growth starts.  I will definitely be cutting mine down hard, under a foot from the ground to encourage stronger stems.  For the Homigo and Preziosa, I leave the old wood over the winter for added protection, and also put up burlap around them on stakes to shield the wind.  Worked like a charm!  The old wood can be cut before growth starts, as they both bloom on new wood....this is not what the internet said, by the way!
Is anyone else as obsessed as I am??

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Awards, winnings, mentions, oh my!

I have had quite a wonderful blogging week, my friends.  First, that blonde bombshell Kerry at First Time Fancy gave me the 'Beautiful Blogger Award!'

I've never won this award before, so I'm a happy recipient.  I'm supposed to tell some things about myself, let's just say that I'm FINALLY planning our wedding for next May.  Thank goodness!  Hopefully that explains why I haven't been a very good blogger lately....

My next surprise was that I won a $50 gift certificate for CSN from gorgeous Janice at Life begins at thirty, right?  Thanks so much, Janice - I can't wait to pick out something!

My last treat was Melissa at One Lucky Couple's shout out to my capiz light instructions from my dressing room project.  She followed my instructions and created a lovely reading room for her and her husband.  Didn't she do a great job?

Thanks for all the mentions and prizes, ladies!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The harvest has begun

Okay, I've only 'harvested' one cucumber, but it was a BIG one!  I pulled it off the jungle plant upstairs today and excitedly ran downstairs to wash it and slice it before I even thought to take a photo. 
I already started eating it, too.  It was almost a perfect square shape!
This is the 'burpless' variety and the seeds are smaller than grocery store cukes.  It was tasty!  I also have some squash and zucchini that are ready to be picked, so I'm looking forward to making myself a stir fry or kabobs this weekend.  Have a great one!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red lantern district

Kat and Mrs. Chic mentioned appreciation for the red lanterns hanging from our garage in my last post.  I'm here to give a little close-up action to my beloved lanterns.  They are from Pier 1, but it looks like they don't have the small ones anymore.
I picked up some 2 dollar hooks from Menards and then Shaun had a fun time trying to screw them into the mortar.  Lets just say we made one hole too big and I *may* have shoved some rolled up cardboard into the hole to make the screw tighten.  It's not like they weigh a ton! 
I did pick up a large lantern as well, which we will not attempt to hang up.  Because clearly we are not ninjas at lantern-hanging.  It looks great sitting out on the seat wall, anyway.  When I got these, they were on sale for $7 each for the small ones, and $21 for the biggun.  I also had a sweet $25 gift card courtesy of my Discover rewards card. Yeah, I was pretty happy with my $10 receipt total!
I'm looking forward to many more patio evenings with these babies lit up with citronella candles!  Although it would be nice if they helped to stop my skin from turning into an all-night mosquito buffet.  What can I say, I'm sweet.   

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSN Review

When I was contacted about doing a product review for CSN, I jumped at the chance to pick out an item for (almost) free and let you all know how I like it.  I actually got two items, can you figure out what they are?
Ok, there was a lot of stuff in that photo - how about now?
I picked out these sweet copper torches for my freebie.  And, when I found them cheaper on another website, the wonderful CSN rep price-matched them for me....even though I wasn't paying for them!  I did end up paying about $15 out of pocket for the two of these, and they were so worth it. 
They arrived quickly, were easy to assemble, and look like a million bucks.  And while they look perfectly sexy during the day, they really spruce up our patio at night...
I love the ambiance they create, and the smell of the torch fluid is also one of my summer favorites. 
Maybe I had the wicks a little bit too long?
CSN is top-notch for customer service.  Keep in mind their awesome price match, and the many items that ship for free.  I couldn't be happier with the item(s) I picked out.  Thanks again to CSN for allowing me to try these fab torches for very little money, I may be ordering more before the summer is over!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cucumber trellis

I clearly have never planted vegetables before, because I didn't realize that cucumbers were vines.  Or, I knew somewhere deep in my brain, but it didn't come to the front of my grey matter until I noticed the little sticky 'arms' were grabbing onto themselves looking for a place to go.  Feel free to snicker at me.  When I finally figured this out, I went in search of a trellis that would fit into my Rubbermaid container.  I came home with this.
Feel free to laugh again.  I have no idea why I thought this gigantic teepee would work??  I put it back into the car in disgust and decided to DIY a trellis instead.  We were lucky enough to have lots of scrap lumber laying around from the recent porch project, so I snagged four pieces of tall skinny wood and drilled five sets of holes at the same heights all the way up. 
I stuck them into the four corners of the container, holes facing eachother.
I connected the dots with some green twine I had laying around.  
Once I got them all done, it was looking a little....saggy.
So I added some tall bamboo stakes I had in the garage for added structure on the bottom, wrapping the twine around them on either side. 
Then I had fun 'decorating' the new trellis with the cucmber vines, using my favorite garden tool - the spool of twisty ties.  You pull out what you need, and press the little metal cutter.  No more 'too short' pieces!
It was all looking a lot better when I was done, and I have dozens on teeny tiny cucumbers all over this guy!  I'm interested to see how it all works out when they get big and heavy...I may add more twine criss-crossing the wood, depending on how things go. 
I'm not sure Max liked me taking all those juicy leaves out of his reach, but he can just go eat cat food.  Seriously, this cat loves his greens.   What a weirdo.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rooftop Garden

We have no full sun real estate in our yard.  My dreams of an amazing vegetable garden on ground level were pretty much not happening.  Instead, I decided to use our completely empty deck above the garage for a container garden space. 
After some internet research, I figured out what supplies I would need, and set to work hauling it all up our stairs.  Potting mix (two kinds, no idea why), compost, and perlite for improved drainage.
I scored three 18 gal Roughneck containers at Target for $6 a piece, and drilled a ton of holes in the bottoms.
I used some fiberglass window screening in the bottoms to help hold in the potting mix.
To prop up the containers to allow for drainage, I used some old pieces of pallet we had hanging out by the patio.
I also found a plastic party tub at Target for $5 that I thought would be perfect for a large tomato plant.  I mixed the potting mix, compost and perlite one container at a time. 
Most potting mixes have some perlite already in it, but I decided it was worthwhile to add more.  It is rather dusty, so don't breathe it in!  It creates a well-drained soil for your plants. 
I had two plants in each container, but quickly realized that was not going to be enough room.  Originially, I had a cucumber and cherry tomato plant together:
A squash and zucchini plant together:
And a red bell pepper and eggplant together:
Right away, I knew it would all get way too big.  I picked up a bigger 30 gallon container for the two squash plants, and gave the eggplant and cucumber their own containers. 
The pepper and cherry tomato plant live in harmony in one 18 gallon container.  Everything was much happier!
These photos were taken the first week of June.  Watering twice a day and fertilizing once since then has made these plants explode!  Here is the squash and zucchini now...
Holy balls!  I've got several baby squash and zucchini started, it's pretty funny how I'm so surprised when I see them growing.  That is what's supposed to happen, of course!
I guess the bees have done their fair share of polinating. Good job, guys!