Thursday, June 30, 2011

Front Yard

So it's finally happening...after talking about it for almost 2 years, our front yard remodel is in progress. We haven't really done much of anything with the front since moving in (don't tends to fit in with the rest of the street......). As much as it's always bugged me, there's only so much time and ambition provided by each day. But the day has arrived.

When we drove by the house while we were house hunting, I think I said something like "No way. Never." and kept driving. Not only was I anti-ranch house, but I was also anti-old person looking-house. 

A few days later, I was sitting in our apartment and had just opened my third or fourth beer a rich bottle of wine. I slid over to the internet and looked up the MLS listing again. I realized that the place had a lot of potential and that it was a really sweet deal. Any work it needed was purely cosmetic, and I use the term "need" quite loosely here. I think I even used the line "it's a really great family house" when I was trying to convince myself, which is funny since we haven't really felt the urge since moving in...

So anyway, with that preface, I bring you the front of the house:
Not terrible, right? No, not terrible at all. I think it's because you don't see the garage in this photo- I think the garage really pulls the "old lady" feel in and ties it all together.
First thing on the to do list was to rip out the "outdoor" carpet, which we did last fall. Since I don't have any project money right now, I thought that it was a good time to carry on with the agenda: remove bushes and remove railings. And all it cost me was 1 Ibuprofen at the end of the day.
My mom was in town and she kicks ass at all things house-to-do-related. Seriously. My parents burn us out sometimes! In a good way, though...they've always been weekend warriors. Anyway, after we spent about an hour and a half removing these stupid rocks and later realizing that they spanned the entire length of the bushes and that we were SO OVER rock removal, she convinced me that I should buy a tow strap (so i guess it cost more than 1 ibuprofen...) to yank the bushes out. The whole time I kept petting my transmission and telling it that everything would be okay. Kind of like the mom that tells her kid who just lost 2 teeth the night before picture day that he looks fine. Liar. Anyway, those bushes were pretty damn ferocious. But they finally came out and next we removed the jerry-rigged deck railings. And then we had this:
And a view from the front:
Aaahhhh, much better. I really dig the openness. Like, a lot. I'm sitting on my front porch for the third time ever right now. I no longer feel like I'm sitting on an apartment balcony. Or in a baby crib. Or in jail. Those railing spindle thingies were no fun.

So yeah, that's about it. We're going to get bigger columns, remove the shrubs in front of the brick on the right side of the house, add a step in the front, get a new bench and a new light fixture, some different house numbers and a few other things. Oh, and of course we're going to fix the yard, plant more trees and paint the porch. :) I can't wait!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birdhouse Before & After

Hey friends! How are things? Everything is pretty good here. I haven't been up to too much and have been using most of my free time towards garden sorting. Yesterday Joe told me that I should enter a garden contest. I kind of laughed because I thought it was cute but knew that I am farrr far far from being at that level and explained to him that there are gardeners and then there are GARDENERS. I'm currently just a gardener, seeking to achieve GARDENER status by about 2013. I told him that, to me, the garden is still a huge mishmash and that it still doesn't feel like it's 100% mine. He hesitated for a minute and finally said "well. it's still a respectable garden." Aw. That made me smile.

Anyway, enough words because photos are more fun. When we moved in, there were about 7 birdhouses stationed around the yard, all filled to the brims with nests. They all seem to be painted white or beige and I'm not really digging it.
So last week I mixed up a batch of purple and proceeded to paint. Nope, not happening. Over the past few days,I've realized that I'm a cool on the inside and warm on the outside kind of person. And I mean with my house...not with myself. So out went the purple and in came the orange. Admittedly, it's not exactly the shade I was after, but it's pretty damn close so I will try to be okay with it.
I also sanded the base a little bit but didn't get too far with that because I'm not really sure what I want to do yet. Paint it? Keep sanding? Replace with something that's more proportionate to the birdhouse (skinnier)? I don't know. But for now, I'm considering it done and I'm moving onto the next thing. 
So that's about it for now. Have you done anything fun around your house recently? 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Garden Progress

I haven't been doing anything in my free time other than gardening, so I don't really have anything too fun to post.

I extended the log wall a little bit further yesterday and I'm pretty happy with it. No more unsightly shed/tools from the neighbor's side and we feel a little more hidden now.

So far we've purchased 5.25 yards of mulch and I'm hoping that does it. 

What else is new...hmm, not much. Oh yeah. I dropped my phone in the toilet (the phone that took me over a year to convince Joe I should have) and I have to use the money I've been saving for my upcoming IKEA trip on a new one now. I'm trying to be okay with this, but it's highly frustrating for me to have to spend the dollars I've been stashing away for so long on a new phone. Damn. 

Okay, off to work. Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Today is day 3 of 3 days off in a row. I'm not particularly fond of having all of my days off in a row because I always end up feeling like "what the eff i just had 3 days off in a ROW and what do i have to show for it? nothing." Being a person with grand ideas and a slim amount of cash along with a short attention span do not go hand in hand.

And so this morning I dismissed the 3 projects that went to hell over the past 2 days and tried something small. A terrarium.

When I was at a friend's house yesterday I saw 2 charming terrariums that were filled with beautiful mosses. Thinking about my own moss garden intentions that never came to fruition, I realized that I could just do something small for now until I got all my ducks in a row for the outdoor moss garden.

So I grabbed the cork lidded jar that's been sitting on my kitchen table and layered it with pea gravel, soil, sand and moss. I searched for my little mushroom figurine that I bought a couple years ago but realized that I may have given it to the thrift store. That's twice in a week that I have looked for something only to realize I gave it away! That's okay, I'm over it.
So yes- and indoor moss garden. I think this will hold me over until my real moss garden happens next year. I might start another one with just a tiny piece of moss to watch it spread and grow.

So that's that. For now I'm going to go get a trailer of mulch so I can finish mulching the backyard gardens. Yeah- after 2 years of owning a utility trailer, we finally bought a hitch so we can use the dang thing. Sometimes I wish that I had a high paying job so I could get simple things without having to save my pennies for months and months...but then I realize that I can just wait for the cars to be paid off and I won't need that higher paying job. I only have to hang onto that thought for 2 more years and then we'll be golden. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Walk Through the Yard

So I have to be honest here. Whenever I think about our yard, my brain sweeps through a rampant series of emotions. On one hand (which seems to have holes in it because it's not as full as the other hand...) I love our yard because it's big and that's what I always wanted...a big, huge, quiet, me-only yard. And I've got that, which is cool. But on the other hand (the heavy hand) I'm practically holding a fistful of scorpions over how ugly it is. While it has come a long way since last year, I am still having a hard time loving it because there are many things that I dislike greatly. Damn you Martha, you did this to me! (I still love you...)

But, I will get over my issues as years go by, as landscaping not only takes time and sweat but also patience and money. Luckily I have the time and sweat part down (although it is hard to keep a grip on it since I rank kind of high in terms of procrastination) and now I'll wait for that second part to come through. :-)

In the meantime, I'll pretend that everything's pretty and show you some photos. Oh- one more thing. I went to Best Buy today to buy a new camera after reading lots of great reviews. I got there and saw how chintzy the thing looked (it looked like a toy!) and had to step away. Damn. So you get the 5 megapixel photo shoot for now. :)

The deck needs to be repainted, but for now I'll admire my pretty Clematis. I stapled a few sticks to the deck as a quick fix till next year when I get a trellis.


Soon I will be growing herbs in these pots. I haven't decided on what, but there will definitely be basil and cilantro. 

The pots above are set within the rock area that I recently cleaned up, and I took this photo a couple weeks ago after the lilacs drifted away from the bush. I'm actually pretty happy with the way it turned out because it was such a clusterfuck before and I didn't see it as being even half decent any time soon. I spent a few hours ripping out the gangly ground cover and repositioned/straightened the retaining rocks and am mostly happy with it, although here you can only see the steps.

You might remember this photo from the winter:
Anyway, for some reason I kept that weird metal country-chic heart sculpture that came with the house, and I'm glad I did. With the help of some hacksaw action (I cut the top half of the heart off) and an old metal barrel ring, I made a trellis for the clematis in the yard, which has yet to bloom:
I picked this bird feeder up at Marshal's last month after I had gotten a similar one for the front yard. I'm pretty stoked about it, I think it was like $9 or something.
My brother, Kevin, was nice enough to come up from Illinois a couple days early & help us prepare for our Memorial Day Weekend guests. I'm SO glad he did! He and Joe spent 7 hours (seven. hours.) splitting wood from a huge tree that Joe and my parents cut down the weekend before. While they did that, I spent 7 hours weeding and spreading mulch, which was nothing compared to this:
By Sunday, we got it stacked up between the pines that divide our yard from our neighbor's. We have 2 more trees to cut down and will continue the fence sometime in the fall. Oh and PS- I thought this would be more subtle than a privacy fence, but just as effective, so that's why it ended up there. Plus it's only about 100 feet from our fire pit. And PPS- the hosta garden needs some serious don't look at it too closely. :)
If you continue past the stack of wood, you'll come up to some really old monkey bars that have grape vines growing on them. They have seeds but I like them because they are sour and I LOVE sour! This spring, we planted 2 apple trees, although you can only see one in the photo. We are in the process of turning this area into an orchard of apples, pears, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Don't ask what we're going to do with all of that, because I have NO IDEA! Although, I am a huge fan of jam so I think I'll be doing a lot of canning (and gifting).
A little further along is a row of lilac bushes that are in need of some care, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I have my Craigslist-score rattan pod chair out there, and behind it you can see some huge ass limbs that were cut down from a sad tree last weekend. I plan on chainsawing them within the next few days (I like to cut things if you haven't figured that out yet) and also clean up this general area. The fence is dumb, I know, but I am working on it...
Another item that came with the house was this bird feeder. I think am sure I rolled my eyes at it since I was not a liker of cats at the time, but now I think it's sweet and endearing. AND it's carved out of wood, which is super cool. To be honest, I never fill it with seed, mainly because I forget it exists most of the time.
So that's the quick and dirty yard tour. I can't wait to show bigger areas at a time once I get things the way I want them. Eventually there will be paths and sculptures and cool ornamental trees that weave their way throughout the yard. 

I must say, I'm much happier after looking at these photos all lined up than I was when I first started this post. There are a lot of things in my yard that make me smile, but most of the time when I'm out there I just feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I know I can conquer that feeling with some work, and this post definitely helps me see the things I can focus on and enjoy the next time I'm outside. 

Oh, and I just found this Madison garden blog and can't wait to read it! (Oh, and for those of you who aren't in the know, we're having some major issues with our Governor, in case you clicked on that link and saw this post which happens to be at the top of the page right now. :)

Alllllrriiiiight I just talked a lot more than I typically like to so off I go!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Studio is Finished!

So this is pretty exciting for me...for the first time ever, I have a studio space that is fashioned to my liking. I am going give it all I've got to keep it somewhat orderly, and I think I'll be able to now that I've gotten rid of all the stuff I don't need and have taken the time to organize it in a way that actually makes sense.

Let's start with the before photos, shall we? Now, keep in mind- I haven't worked in this space for over 6 months and it most certainly took on an attitude that was slowly stiffened by neglect...

Yeah. I know. Here's another:
Let's get a closer look at what we're really seeing here....
I'm not lying when I say I have trouble with putting my things where they belong. Pretty much my worst flaw ever...I leave my shit all over the place without realizing it. Fortunately I live with Joe and the main floor of the house doesn't look like this because I know what would happen if it did and also because I can't really function in a space like this. Although it's not to say that it doesn't get messy when he's not around...heh, he'd have a heart attack if he ever came home early from a business trip.

Anyway, this is what it looks like after many hours of reworking the space, although I suppose calling it "finished" is kind of pushing it- I still want to get a few more things shifted, I haven't swept, and I want some new storage for under the tables.

This area will be used for mixed media art:

This sweet new vintage desk lamp was purchased at a rummage sale the other day for $0.25. I especially like the design around the ON/OFF switch:
And a packaging and shipping area:
Ahhhh...much better! I think that I will have it completely finished with another hour or two of work. I like working with task lighting rather than overhead lighting, so another light would be fun. The previous owners had the fluorescents up but I'm not planning on using them for this room anymore. 
So that's that. Oh yeah, and I wrote a piece for Houzz about inspirational studios last week. Check it out if you are looking for some new ideas! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Newest Idea...

Yesterday I took 2 naps. I'm big on naps whenever I have a day just seems fitting to take a rest or two when there is nothing that I have to do. It's pretty typical for me to crash at an hour that falls during the mid-afternoon. On days that I don't have time to snooze, I usually resolve this conflict with coffee. But on the days that I do have time to drift, I usually end up ruminating over some new idea that generally pushes me into the mindset of "i need to do this and i need to do this now".

Today's drifting thoughts were good ones. And the more I think about them, the more they make sense. 

I started thinking about my life as it is and my life as it could be. Over the past year, I've become pretty good at figuring things out as they come rather than poking at the endless variety of "what ifs". I am feeling pretty comfortable in this perspective, and lately I've been looking into it all just a little bit deeper. I have arrived at the realization that while I'm making an effort to live in the here and now, I've only come as far as to react to the here and now. 

Basically what I'm trying to say is this: Joe and I don't have kids, and frankly, I don't really want kids. If, on the off chance, I found myself with a wild hair, I would prefer to start a family through adoption. But all of that is quite far off. 

And in addition to not having kids, I don't have a career. I work 32-40 hours a week at an outdoor shop and spend a couple hours writing for a website. I don't have benefits and the paycheck that I bring home is based on the hourly wage of retail. I don't have a degree and I'm not in school.

So, pretty much, I can do whatever I want at this point, within reason. And I really have to start doing that while the stars are aligned.

So what I want to do, as of yesterday afternoon, is this: I want to get a motorcycle (a sweetly cute vintage one would be the cat's meow) and ride it across the country. Somewhere West. For a month. By myself. Next June.

If I start saving now, I think I can make it happen. A year seems like a decent amount of time to save for this sort of thing, although I may need to take a loan out for the bike. Every little bit of cash that I find in my pocket at the end of the day will go into my change jar, minus money that I want to keep for food or coffee. And as you can see, Clementine decided to help by stuffing one of his toys in the jar a few months ago.

So, while this may be more along the lines of preparing for something in the future, it's only because I don't have the funds or knowledge or time set aside to go right now. A few things need to fall into place first. A bike...a bike class...some gear...and I need to tell Joe. I haven't told him about this latest and greatest idea of mine. I'm preparing for a reaction of "yeah, okay...", but we'll see.

So yeah. That's my newest want in life. We'll see if I can pull it off.

In the closer to now timeline, Joe and I are going backpacking for the first time in a couple months. Something we've been wanting to do for a long time but haven't had the gear for. I'm not quite sure where we're off to, but I'll keep you in the loop.

For now I'm off to do some projects.

Monday, June 06, 2011

My Latest Adventures in Art

Hey yo! How was your weekend? Mine was decent. I worked on Saturday and Sunday and then last night I realized that I work the next 4 days as well. Ugh, not exactly what I was hoping to see in the schedule book, but that's okay. I was accidentally scheduled for 5 days this week rather than 4, but as soon as I have some time off I am thinking about starting a new art series...among the other 12 projects I have going on. Oy. I love when I don't have to work and I can just stay at home and enjoy the peace and quiet offered by living in a small town.

Joe made this block print 3 or 4 years ago and I have used it in multiple mixed media pieces. I recently cropped one of my photos down to just this image for my facebook photo, and it gave me idea that I should make a mega-sized piece out of it. Like, 18x24 or maybe even 24x36. Of course, at that size it would no longer be a block print, but I was toying around with the idea of a stencil. I feel that there's a quite a void in the availability of large, affordable pieces and I'm on a mission to help fill it in. My studio is going through an overhaul right now to allow for bigger and better ideas, and I am going to work on the area for an hour or so before I head to work today. Maybe I'll have it finished the next time you visit. Probably not, though...

And while we're on the topic- do any of you ever feel weird referring to your creations as "art"? I have a really hard time with it myself, because to me I'm not really an artist. More of a creator. And the pieces that I make seem to be more worthy of being called "designs" rather than "art". Of course, if I was great at drawing or painting or something, then I'd consider the "art" tag to be more appropriate. Hmm.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Television Wall Redo

Yesterday I rearranged the television wall (and i just realized that i completely skipped the latest piece of design advice i read- turn on the tv on whenever it's in a photo) and I must say that I like it a little bit more now. Before it was just one of those "ARGH what am I going to do with that wall!?" areas of the house, but now I can sleep a little easier.

That's really about all for now. I just got off work and I'm really tired. It's only 8:11 but I think I may end up hitting the sheets in a few minutes here. More soon!

PS: If you visited yesterday and saw the original post that was with this photo, I decided to delete it for various reasons. Thanks to those who commented on the post, I enjoyed reading your insight and stories.