30 July 2010

This Morning in My Yard

Oliver watched from the porch as I meandered around the yard with my camera this morning.My little cluster of herbs. I've got regular thyme and lemon thyme, French basil, sage, purple basil, and a tiny goldfish plant (not an herb).
The lovely contrast of yellow and purple in the front crescent bed. I'm really enjoying these, I'll probably do something similar next year.A few more tigerella tomatoes. I've discovered that they should be picked before they are completely ripe, otherwise they split like the one on the far left is just beginning to do. They will ripen in a day or so on the kitchen windowsill.

28 July 2010

Lighting the Living Room

The bungalow came with two of these light shades. One in the entry, one in the living room. I don't think they are from 1930, more likely the 60s, but I'm not sure. I think they were the only light fixtures in the whole house that I liked. When construction began, we carefully removed the shades and fittings and put them in a box. The box went onto a shelf where it sat collecting dust for something close to three years. After the electric, new plaster, priming and painting were all done, it was time to get the shades out of storage and put them back up where they belonged.

And that is when I broke one of them. Dropped that fancy end nut thingy right on the large part. I didn't break the fancy art glass around the edges, but that is more durable. The center looks like regular frosted glass. And while installing the second one, I managed to put a small crack next to the screw hole. Thankfully it is not noticeable.

I've been meaning to take them and get both repaired. Some day. The slightly cracked one has been left up and the really broken one has been packed back in that same box. So, that's 7 years now? It is amazing the little stuff you learn to live with, and even forget until someone points it out.

Nearly all this time the living room fixture was just 3 bare bulbs. It was so off my radar, but it drove Lewis crazy. He wanted to go pick out new shades, but I really wanted to keep the ones I had. Plus, I don't like to spend money on temporary stuff.

So, back in the spring I took my friend Josh on a door-hunting excursion for his house. We had already looked through the antique door stash in my basement. He has made use of two so far, but I didn't have anything else he could use. So we headed to Lancaster and York counties to two wonderful architectural salvage shops I knew of.

Our first stop were these two great old barns in Manheim, called Echoes from the Past. They don't have a web presence at all, this is strictly architectural salvage, old school. Josh scored a couple doors there and was pleased as punch. We went on to the antique shops in Columbia, saw lots of cool stuff (including a beautiful green glass lamp I would love to have it is hasn't sold yet, hint, hint) but no doors for Josh.

We ended our shopping excursion at Historic York's Architectural Warehouse. This place is also loaded with great stuff. It is indoors, the temperature was comfortable, and it is pretty well organized. Josh actually found two doors there that would work, but they needed a bit of tlc and were priced a bit high. The guy at the counter said that prices were negotiable on donated items, but unfortunately not on the consigned items.

This whole long, rambling story does have something to do with my light shades. I found this little lovely in the York store for just $5. It may not even be old, it certainly isn't fancy, but I love starbursts and the price was right.When we got back to my house at the end of the day, Josh put it up for me, then we made Lewis figure out what new thing I bought. "I'll give you a hint. It is something you have been wanting for a long time and you can see if from where you are sitting." He was very pleased.

As you can see, they should both match, or at least coordinate. These two are practically in the same room. But for now, and the foreseeable future, I can live with mismatched shades.

23 July 2010

Soaker Hose Greatness

Installing a soaker hose in my garden this year has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made in a long time.

It started out with just one run, then we added another and another, totalling 75 feet of soaker hose. This completely covers both beds along the house and the crescent bed. So unlike last year, if I am too hot or tired to stand out in the yard when I get home from work, the plants don't miss a watering. I can just pop outside when I untangle Oli's rope (inevitable) and turn the faucet on low. Leave the soaker on for a few hours, then turn it off.

And when we were away for several days in a row, I'm sure my plants would have wilted completely, except that I was able to leave the soaker on a very slow trickle. Plus I think it is probably a better use of water, wasting less due to evaporation and overspraying. Whenever Oliver sees the hose, he thinks it means play time. I'm sure we waste tons of water just playing. Never during a drought, thought- we are very responsible that way.

We finally had a long day of drizzle and rain showers yesterday, but for about 3 weeks before that it has been pretty dry. Aside from the occasional violent storm, of course, but they are not good for watering.

So, here is my advice. If you have a garden, lay a soaker hose. You won't regret it. But try to do it when you are planting, or just after. We found it a bit more challenging to lay the second two sections because the garden had really taken off by then. It is much easier to weave the hose around small plants.

Now, maybe next year we will finally get a rain barrel, then I can hook the soaker hose up to the rain barrel and all my watering will be taken care of by mother nature, as it is supposed to be. Rainwater is better for plants anyway, they don't care for all the chlorine and other things used to treat our water.

22 July 2010


Oli has a new cousin.

she does have a tail- it is that blur behind her- couldn't get a picture with out her tail wagging!

Meet Tara. She is a 3 year old golden retriever and just as sweet as can be. My brother's wife works with someone who was moving and needed to find a good home for Tara. I think she'll be happy. They have just moved into their first house, and they have plenty of yard for her to run around. She's very obedient and stays without being on a rope or having a fence. If only Oli could do that.

Tara and Oliver are so great together. I can hardly wait for us to have a fence up so Oli and Tara can run and play in the yard.

21 July 2010

Awaiting the Tomatoes

I've got plenty of gorgeous green tomatoes, but nothing ready to pick just yet.

I have a sneaking suspicion that they will all turn at the same time and I'll be overrun with tomatoes! Mmm, I can't wait for blt sandwiches and fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.

20 July 2010

Pepper Plants

Three of the four pepper plants have peppers so far.

I think this is my Golden Summer pepper, the first one to appear. It got to this size and has just been hanging out there. I couldn't tell when it would be ready, so I looked it up. It has been this color for a while, but I guess it still has some color changing to do.

Golden Summer Bell Pepper- lime green to light yellow to golden orange-yellow

This one is a good size and has also looked like this for a while.Purple Bell Pepper- green to chocolate brown or purple

These appear to be an ornamental pepper, albeit edible. Sweet Pickle Pepper- mature at 2" and fully ripened when deep red or purple

The White Bell pepper has yet to make an appearance.

White Bell Pepper- white to yellow to red

19 July 2010

The Great Book Case Shuffle of 2010

I completed nearly every task in my 34 step plan this weekend. Mostly on Friday, very little each on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Oli was pretty good about staying out of the way for the most part. Except when I had the camera or the vacuum out. For the camera, he poses. For the vacuum, he chases and barks. It is a game.

I won't go through it all because, well, that's boring, and I already bored you with the plan. I started fairly early Friday morning and mostly I followed it, but I did hit a snafu midway through, adjusted my plan, and got through most of the list by bedtime Friday night.

the dining room stacked with stuff waiting to go back on its shelves; Oliver looks on at the activity

I dusted and vacuumed and washed nearly every surface in my living room this weekend, getting to corners and nooks and crannies that can't normally be reached. A good thorough spring cleaning- in the middle of July.

The big bookcase I moved from Oli's room, now in its new spot in the living room. When I had all the shelves out, I thought maybe I could slide it out of its spot to clean. As it turned out, it was quite easy to slide. I popped the feet onto those furniture moving sliders and carefully pushed it straight through the dining room. It is heavy, but manageable.

Also, I knew mom had asked Bill to come over around 6:00 to measure for some new windows (more on that later). So, I got some L-braces at the hardware store and Bill kindly helped me level the book case and install the L-braces.
my big shelf, finally in a good spot, braced to the wall, and loaded with books
my extensive collection of (no less than 26) bungalow-specific books

Oliver posing in the empty spot where the big bookcase had been

This is to be my new "pantry" area, with storage for small appliances that I don't want cluttering the kitchen counter. Even though I measured, and measured, and measured, I still came up 4" too short here. As you can see, I miscalculated. The wide shelving unit was to be flanked by the two shelving towers. That didn't work out. Here is where the plan adjusting came in.
I ended up leaving the record tower where it was, but I emptied, dusted and cleaned the corner, shelf and contents, then gave it a quarter turn. The wall actually looked too empty there anyway, so I think it all worked out for the best.
I guess I did everything on the list, except I'm still working on the last item- finding homes for the clutter. That's kind of never ending. I do have a small stack of old cassette and vhs tapes in the dining room. Not sure what to do with them yet. I loathe to stick anything else in the back bedroom because that is going to soon need clearing too.
I'll take some more pictures of the whole living room now that it is finished. Quick! before it gets dirty again.

18 July 2010

Lagging Zucchini

While this photo was taken about a week ago, my zucchini and summer squash plants have not really grown much bigger than this. As you can see, this is that last 20% of the veg garden that has not been weeded yet. Could the crab grass, clover and other weeds be the cause of my squash's slow growth?

The zucchini are normally filling the kitchen table by this time of year. I bought plants this year, got them in the ground at a reasonable time, but they aren't doing very well. The soil here is decent, and I've never know zucchini to be that particular. My mom is having the same problem and we did get our plants at the same nursery. But one of my coworkers was talking about here zucchini harvest already.

Is anybody else out there having trouble with their summer squash?

16 July 2010

My 34 Point Plan

I have a lot of furniture I want to move around. I've been itching to move things for a while now.

The shuffling part comes in because there is no empty spot at the moment. Currently there is a piece of furniture in every place that I want a different piece of furniture. Make senses? If it does, don't worry, I'm sure I'll loose you soon.

So here it is, my grand plan, in 34 steps:

1. Organize embroidery supplies.

2. Empty shelving unit that holds art books, stack books in dining room.

3. Dis-assemble art book shelving unit, set pieces aside, in dining room.

4. Clean empty spot.

5. Move crescent table and green chair to entry, temporarily.

6. Empty embroidery cabinet.

7. Carefully move embroidery cabinet to empty spot.

8. Re-fill embroidery cabinet.

9. Clean second empty spot.

10. Move Oliver's toys and chair aside.

11. Empty shelving unit in Oli's room.

12. Move dining room furniture aside, clearing path.

13. Get big guys to move big shelving unit to second empty spot.

14. Secure big shelving unit to wall using L-brackets.

15. Load genealogy materials and art books onto lower shelves.

16. Clean empty spot in Oliver's room.

17. Re-assemble first shelving unit in third empty spot.

18. Empty shelving unit in dining room.

19. Dis-assemble wide shelving unit.

20. Re-assemble wide shelving unit in third empty spot.

21. Reload wide shelving unit with stuff recently removed.

22. Carry all record albums from living room to Oli's room, re-loading first shelving unit.

23. Dis-assemble album shelving unit.

24. Re-assemble third shelving unit in Oliver's room.

25. Clean last empty spot.

26. Use baskets from Oliver's room to stow small stuff on large shelving unit in living room.

27. Move cookbooks to big shelving unit.

28. Stow large counter top appliances on new shelves in Oli's room.

29. Use baskets to stow extra non-perishables on new shelves.

30. Move green chair back.

31. Move crescent table to dining room, beside china closet.

32. Move peacock chair to dining room.

33. Vacuum everywhere.

34. Find homes for any clutter left behind.

It sounds like a lot, but I think I can knock it out in one solid day, if I stick with it. Of course that will depend on the availability of a guy to help move the giant bookcase. It doesn't have to go far, just straight out Oli's double doors, straight through the dining room, thought the double doors to the living room. Nothing to lift only 1/4 turn through the whole move. But it is mega heavy. I will also need someone who can install the L-brackets with minimal damage to the plaster.

15 July 2010

Busy, Busy

Two weeks later and I have finally gotten the porch tidied and cleaned the kitchen windowsill.

I forgot to take a picture of the windowsill now that it is clean, and I wasn't brave enough to take befores of either the porch or the kitchen windowsill. Just take my word for it, this is a drastic and great improvement. Ghetto-porch-b-gone!

I've also weeded about 80% of my garden, and now it is much easier to keep after. I know this every year going in, but what can I say, I'm lazy. As you can see from the front crescent bed, I'm a lazy gardener. I'm going for the wild, naturalized look this year. Yeah, that's it, naturalized... This does look better now, thought, as compared to a few weeks back.

First, I weeded and pulled out several dozen volunteer tomato plants, leaving only the strongest so that hopefully they will be productive. I see a lot of fruit on the plants I left, so that's promising. The malva has gotten taller than I imagined and for a little while I was worried that my cucumber (tucked way back in the corner) wouldn't get enough sunlight, but it seems to be doing just fine. I started the seeds a little late, but I think it will be okay.

You may also notice some new plants. Some purple leafed thing whose name I've forgotten and some purple petunias. I'm hoping they'll fill out a bit more to hide the ugly black landscape fabric. See how lazy I am? I should just mulch. But I'm cheap as well as lazy.

13 July 2010

Gloriosa Embroidered Pillowcases

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary, Dar and Rich! I hope you enjoy sleeping on these as much as I enjoyed stitching them for you.This is the Gloriosa pattern from Tobin, available from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts. The first time I saw this pattern I thought it was just stunning. I still think so. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Unfortunately, my photography skills don't do it justice.The giant center of French knots was fun, but I found it difficult to keep the edge rounded. I'll have to keep practicing that. The texture of a big mound of French knots is wonderful.

The only other thing that gave me trouble was the color. Of course I didn't use the recommended colors, I had to go with my own. I'm still trying to use some of the thread I inherited. I started with the medium pink, but in the end I had to buy more thread to get the right red and light pink, so I'm not sure it was worth it. I think if I had to do it again I would try to use the recommended colors.

I used DMC cotton perle #8 in these colors:
Medium Red #304
Medium Rose #899
Light Salmon #761
Medium Pistachio Green #320