Home & Garden Crashing - Laura & Scott's place

This past weekend we road-tripped it down to Portland to visit Karl's sister and her husband. They recently remodeled their kitchen, and we were dying to see it (not to mention we were also really looking forward to seeing them since it's been way too long)! On our way down there, we stopped in Centralia, WA to grab a burger at Burgerville (yum!) and we saw a cool old car ahead of us in the drive-thru line.

After a quick lunch, we powered on through to Portland where we were promptly wowed by how great their kitchen looks! This sucker was stripped down to the studs for several months as they slowly replaced pretty much everything except for the skylight and window.

They got the cabinets at Ikea, the quartz counters and floor tiles at Lowes (I think) and the appliances at Sears. I wish I had a before picture to show, but I don't so you'll just have to trust me when I say this is such an amazing makeover!

I love the black lower cabinets mixed with the glass-fronted white upper cabinets. Very chic.

They also replaced the storage in their laundry room with matching solid-front white cabinets. The light blue color that they've painted in there is so refreshing and crisp. Perfect for a laundry room.

And their vegetable garden, with it's prime location in the sunny back half of their yard, is doing amazingly great as well. Laura takes after her mom (my mother-in-law) by being ruthless with weeds! Laura...if you ever get an itch to spend hours and hours weeding, we've got a guest bedroom just waiting for you up here in Seattle! :)

Lots of marigolds are planted around the perimeter of this garden, including these tiny orange guys. I don't think I've ever seen tiny marigolds like this. Too cute!

While down in Portland, we all went to see The Hangover. Oh. My. Goodness. I laughed so hard that I nearly hyperventilated! Really, really funny...if you are in to that kind of humor!

So that's my little sneak peak into Laura & Scott's life. :) L&S - thank you so much for being such great hosts to us. Great BBQ, great laughs, great gifts exchanged and just a great time in general. We need to do that more often.


Sunday garden tour - June 28

Happy June 28!

This week I don't have a whole lot to report. I pulled a carrot that I thought would be huge. Turns out...not so much.

I also harvested 13 oz of peas and 12.4 oz of broccoli. Yum! There are a few tiny little cucumbers that are starting, and a few little peppers as well. And my nasturtiums are going CRAZY. Those things spread like wildfire, so that's a good lesson learned for next year.

And then this weekend, we took a little road trip down to Portland to visit Laura & Scott (pictures to come tomorrow, or Tuesday)...and we picked up some tax-free soaker hoses while we were down there. It's a pain in the a$$ to wind a soaker hose around nearly full-grown plants, but it's going to make watering the garden so much easier!

Happy Sunday...I'm looking forward to this week because Friday is a holiday. Woo hoo! :)



I did some sewing recently! A baby gift using Hawaiian fabric (blanket + bib) for a coworker, a grocery bag and a table runner...all in one day! Too bad I didn't take any pictures of the baby gift before it went off to the new mommy, and I haven't taken a finished shot of the table runner yet (I'll save that for another post). But...here is the grocery bag, all rolled up for easy storage (it's the white one):

And here it is unfolded along with a picture of my original 'inspiration piece', an Envirosax bag:

I have some poly-blend Hawaiian fabric that a friend brought back for me recently, and I think it would make a perfect set of fold-up grocery bags...but I wanted to test the pattern out since I was just essentially tracing around the existed bag. I had an old set of curtains that I thrifted from Goodwill a long time ago for use in a camping quilt, and it turned out this fabric was just perfect to use for my test bag.

When I make the 'real' bags out of the Hawaiian print, I think I'll do the handles a bit differently to make it a little easier on me. But all in all, I'm pretty happy with my little project! :)


on my iPod today...

Black Eyed Peas :: I Gotta Feeling
The Airborne Toxic Event :: Sometime Around Midnight
Mat Kearney :: Beathe In Breathe Out
Michael Jackson :: Rock With You (still can't believe he's gone...R.I.P. MJ)


Sunday garden tour - June 21

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

This week I harvested 10.6 oz of snap peas. Yum! And there is a lot of rainbow chard, lettuce and broccoli that is either ready or right on the brink.

We've also got fava beans! A lot of people tell me they've never had fava beans and wouldn't know what to do with them.....well, try this Jamie Oliver recipe. I love it! I add garlic and eat it over pasta. So good.

And we've got overgrown potato bins, too! I read that if you don't hill up your potato stems before they get more than 4 inches tall or so....they'll remain stems and won't turn into more roots. The hot sun we had a few weeks ago caused these suckers to grow. Like. Crazy. So we'll see how many potatoes we get out of the bins as they are, but I'm not adding any more boards or dirt to them since that would be a waste at this point. Lesson learned for next year!

And then finally our big project this week was to build tomato cages. Since I planted so many (28) tomato plants, purchasing cages for all of them wasn't really in the budget (not to mention that those store-bought cages are pretty flimsy). So we bought a big roll of galvanized metal fencing (with 4-in x 2-in openings) and turned it in to super sturdy tomato cages for a fraction of the cost. We snipped off the very bottom row of metal to create a bunch of spikes to secure the cages in the ground and then also snipped out 6 large rectangular areas in each cage so that we can have plenty of space to reach in and grab the tomatoes when they ripen. If you click and enlarge the very first photo above, you can see all of the cages in a little more detail.

So that's the garden tour for today. Happy June 21! :)


Redneck Japanese water fountain

"That looks like a redneck version of a Japanese water fountain."...is what Karl said when he saw the contraption I had set up after a recent rainfall. Ha! A nice thought (??), but really I was just trying to capture the rain water so that both of our rain barrels could get filled for use in the garden. Since we hadn't yet linked the two barrels together, this is what I did...

First I found a piece of scrap metal in our shed and set it up to act as a gutter diverting rain into this bucket:

When the bucket was full, I'd pick it up and lift it over to the other barrel:

Dump the water in, and repeat over and over and over again:

And then, once I'd used up this water and the barrels were empty again...I got out the hack saw and cut a section of our gutter away so that I could prop the dark green barrel up on cinder blocks up higher than the blue barrel. And now the run-off from the green barrel will automatically pour into the blue barrel...so much easier than the redneck Japanese water fountain method (although not nearly as funny)! :)

(Like those hand prints in the first shot? Those are from the previous owners of our house, and I tried to pressure wash them off but had no luck...so now they just wave at me all the time, and it's a little annoying...)


Friday Funny

This is Cooper, trying to be subtle...

Too bad he ended up getting too sleepy to stay on guard duty for very long, so the birds just came and went as they pleased and he was none the wiser. I'm sure he was dreaming about his hunting prowess! :)


Why do you build me up

Buttercup baby just to let me down?

Our back rose bed has been nearly taken over by buttercups this year! And you know what? That's alright by me. :)


What in the world....

....kind of creature made the hole in the pic below?? It's along the back fence side of the garden where I'm trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to grow a bunch of flowers.

Any ideas? It's creeping me out so bad that I just had to share it here...


Hello there

As I sat in the car with Henry while Karl ran into Costco the other day....I decided to take a pic of myself. :)

(please disregard the dirty mirror and my wonky fingers steadying the camera...)


Sunday garden tour - June 14

Sorry for the week-long absence again...the weather is just too nice to get on the computer after work!

Panoramic garden shot from this afternoon (6/14)...

Hello, friend...

I harvested 3 lbs of cauliflower! (turned it into this, a favorite cauliflower dish that we discovered while in Vancouver last year)

Umm, I was expecting this to be a cauliflower plant, but it's a bit too green...

I broke down and bought 2 zucchini plants at the farmers market this morning...

So many peas!

And finally, some color (potato blossoms, marigolds and nasturtiums)...

Happy Sunday!


Sunday garden tour - June 7

Our short, but highly effective, heat wave that we had last week in Seattle made for hitting the garden jackpot!

Panoramic garden shot...

I've got a couple really good-sized heads of cauliflower growing - a bit bigger than a softball right now. And yes, after I took this photo I wrapped the leaves around it to keep it nice and white. :)

There are also several teeny tiny heads of broccoli forming.


Itsy bitsy tomatoes (I believe these are Sungolds)...

And tons of peas!

The garden is very green right now, but probably by my update next week I'll have a bit more color to share because the marigolds that I started from seed are getting ready to peek out and say hello.

What hasn't come up yet though? Zucchini. Darn! I've replanted seeds twice now (from 2 different seed packets), but I'm still coming up with a big fat goose egg. I'm going to give it one more week before I throw in the towel and buy a starter zuc plant.

'Till next week!


'Twas a wet and muddy morning...

...and Henry loved every minute!

(until, of course, we plopped him into the bathtub to clean him off!)


Another one bites the dust...

Dishwasher Laura is a foe to wine glasses and coffee pots!

Installing a dishwasher in our kitchen would serve the dual purpose of saving water (assuming we got a high efficiency one) and saving our glassware.

But hey, at least this one lasted longer than the last one!


Up, up and away

Karl and I have a tradition of going out for a date night on opening weekend of new Pixar movies, so this past weekend we did just that and went to see Up at the new shopping/dining area near our house. We started out the evening by trying a new Thai restaurant, Thai 65. Surprisingly good and affordable! They need to install some shades on their windows for when the hot sun is beating through and blinding their patrons, but other than that we really liked it. We also like that it’s closer (and slightly cheaper) than our other nearby favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Ginger in Factoria.

After dinner we headed over to the movie theater and settled in to see Pixar’s newest release, Up. As usual, Pixar did not disappoint! The movie had a more mature underlying theme of grief and loneliness mixed in with plenty of laughs and adventure along with Pixar’s always stellar artwork and CGI graphics.

Since nearly all the movie reviews talk about it, I don’t think I’m giving anything away by talking about the opening sequence. The main character is Carl, and he recently lost his wife Ellie. At the beginning of the movie there is a silent montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together. It’s a poignantly emotional roller coaster that is really beautifully done. There probably weren’t many dry eyes in the theater by the time this section of the movie wrapped up.

I loved the rest of the movie just as much, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it. Suffice it to say, Karl and I both loved it a lot. Every single detail was just exquisite – from the iconic image of Carl’s house being lifted by thousands of balloons, to the richly layered fireplace mantel filled with mementos of Carl and Ellie’s hopes and dreams, to the his and hers chairs in their living room and the personalities attributed to the dogs in the jungle all the way down to the color palette and music selections – these large and small details combined to create a very heart-warming, uplifting and memorable film.

Needless to say, we’re still talking about it days later and Karl has already put it on his birthday wish list. :)


a greener way to clean concrete

A few months ago (or maybe even a year already) I got a harebrained idea to pressure wash our back patio. It was looking grimy and gross, and I was going to swoop in to save the day.

Except….I ended up making it look just plain ridiculous. The pressure washer basically made thin squiggly lines all over the place and I did not have the patience to carefully go over the entire patio as if I were filling in a coloring book with a fine-tipped pencil. I kind of hoped no one would notice, but Karl hadn’t even been home for 5 minutes when he walked by the back door, did a double take and said, “What is wrong with our patio?”. Heh. So much for that idea.

And so it has been ever since – an eyesore. A blight in our backyard. A distraction.

Finally I decided to take matters into my own hands (again). But this time, I did research ahead of time. I knew I didn’t want to use chlorine bleach or other harsh chemicals (sorry, it’s just not gonna happen….no way, no how), but I was intrigued by the concept of using oxygen bleach as a greener alternative to cleaning the patio. From everything I’ve read, oxygen bleach seems to be about the most safe and eco-friendly option out there to take care of a dirty/moldy/yucky concrete slab of patio (plus, it uses less water than if I used the pressure washer and it won’t strip/gouge the concrete like the pressure washer can). So I gave it a shot…

First, I bought the bleach and mixed up a big batch in a bucket. (actually, my first step was to clear the patio and give it a good sweeping)

Then I let it sit in the bucket for 5 minutes or so to ensure that it had fully dissolved before I dumped the foamy mixture onto half of the patio and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before taking a stiff-bristled brush and scrubbing the heck out of the patio. The resulting foam was brown and gross….a sure sign that it must be working, right?

Next we grabbed the hose and sprayed the oxygen bleach off using the ‘jet’ setting on our hose nozzle. I was feeling pretty defeated right about now because it didn’t look that different. Karl (the voice of reason) convinced me to go inside and let it dry in the sun for a while before assessing final judgment, so I took his advice and did just that. And when I came back I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had worked! In the photo below, the section on the right has been cleaned and the section on the left has not. Pretty clear difference!

At the end of the day, here’s a complete shot of the patio in all it’s clean(er) glory (that’s a shadow from our plum tree being cast over part of the patio). It's not 100% perfect yet, but I’m so glad that most of the squiggly lines are gone! And so far the grass around the patio doesn’t seem any worse for wear, so perhaps it really is a greener alternative after all.

Oh, and did you notice anything different about the patio? Many of you know that I’ve been dying to get comfy patio furniture for years now, but my cheapskate/skinflint/tightwad ways have held me back from shelling out so much dough for furniture that’s going to be sitting out in the elements. Well, my good friends at Target decided to discontinue a line that we’ve been drooling over and we snagged a few pieces for a steal (especially the loveseat…30% off in addition to the sale since it was a floor model). We still need some tables and a few other things to complete the look, but I’m so thrilled with what we’ve gotten so far!