The End of Our First Summer

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates on the house. Time seems to just fly by. It’s hard to take care of everything all the time.

But, here are some of things I worked on this summer…

2013 Yard

  1. Finally hung up the wire wrapped door numbers I made from scrap wire around the house. See the DIY Tutorial here.
  2. Got the garden growing nicely.
  3. Used the unused tiles (that originally were going to go into the in-law bathroom) as pavers around the raised beds. Neil said I could take the garden all the way back to the fence line, so I’ll have to thin out the pavers next year to get them all the way around.
  4. Put in the front walkway pavers. The slate tiles I used were all found around the property! Next year I’ll start the landscaping in the front.

I was very proud of my very first garden. I’m expanding it next year in order to get more yield and plant more varieties. But, check out some of the vegetables I got!

2013 Veggies

  1. Zucchini and bush beans (aka: green beans…pole beans/snap peas didn’t do so well, might not plant those next year).
  2. 2 huge zucchini and 1 cucumber on the left (ended up with about 8 huge zucchinis and 10 or so cucumbers total for the season)
  3. More bush beans and some celery (which I regrew from a store bought stalk)
  4. That’s a big zucchini! Definitely planting more of them next year so I can make some breads!

We also ended up with lots of tomatoes, cayenne peppers, herbs (rosemary, parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme, sage, marjoram), 1 bell pepper (that I will be picking in a few days), yellow squash, spaghetti squash, and lettuce.

The watermelon and pumpkin plants got eaten. The swiss chard, kale, and acorn squash didn’t grow (I had them in another part of the yard, so I’ll have to rethink their positions next year).

All in all I think we had a good summer. Hopefully I’ll have more interesting updates to share soon.

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My Square Foot Garden

Since this is my first year having a vegetable garden, I did a lot of research in preparation. I discovered square foot gardening and companion planting.

Square Foot Gardening is basically a planting guideline that allows you to maximize the amount of plants you can put in a small amount of space. Depending on the variety, you can get 1 to 16 plants per square. For example: Tomatoes = 1 plant / sq ft area …Carrots = 16 plants / sq ft area….Watermelon = 1 plant / 2 sq ft area

I found it to be a very interesting concept and fit perfectly with my need for raised beds. I have shale dirt, which means that I dig about .5″ into the ground and hit rocks…not a very welcoming environment for vegetables.

So here is my 2013 Square Foot Garden Plan:

square foot gardening

I’m still learning how it works and I’m really hoping that having that many tomato and pepper plants together is okay. If not I’ll just have to spread them out next year.

Companion Planting: With sq ft gardening you end up with plants very close to each other, so it’s important to consider what plants are grouped together. Some plants get along great, others will die if planted next to a plant that is incompatible.

For example: Tomatoes and basil go great together because the basil helps to keep certain insects away. But tomatoes and corn shouldn’t be planted together because they attract the same type of worm, which could cause both plants to die. Tomatoes are helped by carrots, but tomatoes cause the carrots to grow short and stubby.

It’s a very interesting puzzle to figure out. I changed the layout of my plots about 20 times before I finally planted anything. I hope it works out!

DIY Raised Garden Beds

I finally finished my raised garden beds. Took a bit longer than expected. But, I also realized I started my seeds late, so it all worked out in the long run.

raised beds

  1. Posts In: I reused the spindles from the old pool deck railings. Typically you’re not really supposed to use pressure treated wood in gardens…it does something weird to the plants I guess. But the spindles were so old and weathered that I figured using them for support posts would be fine…Cost: reusing old materials = $0
  2. Frame Work: The walls of the raised beds were built using wood pallets. I got them for free from one of my print vendors who just stacks them up outside when they’re done using them…But, they are pretty easy to find all over the place for free. Turns out that wood pallets are only about 3′ long and I needed them to be a little over 4′ to hit the posts, so I ended up overlapping them. Which I actually think I like better. Creates a more rustic handmade feel to it. The planks were attached to the posts with a nail gun. Cost: maybe about $4 in nails…if you’re gonna get technical.
  3. Finished Off the Beds: I filled the beds using a technique called lasagna gardening. This saved me some money, as I didn’t have to buy as much dirt to fill the huge beds and it is also said to be very beneficial to vegetables. Basically you layer different materials to create a nutrient rich soil for your plants. My layers included: Newspaper (which also deters weed growth), Dead Leaves, Grass Clipping, Compost (which my neighbor picked up for me for free), and topped with Organic Compost Garden Soil (which I got on sale for $3/40lb bag – bought 12 bags – YEAH Memorial Day Weekend Sales!). Then I strung cotton twine across the top so I could easily divide up the space for my square foot gardening planting technique (more on that next time). Cost: organic soil and twine = $38
  4. Started My Very First Garden: Then it was finally time to plant some vegetables! I just hope that after all my hard work I actually get to eat something.
  5. Bonus Strawberry Planter: I had old rain boots that I couldn’t throw away because: 1) I love them so much and 2) I hate throwing anything away. I found an awesome tutorial on Pinterest that made a strawberry planter out of old rain boots. So my hoarding paid off and they came out super cute. Plus, I still have 3 more boots I can fill! Cost: $9 for strawberry plants; $2 for a bag of potting soil.

Later on I may trim down the support post spindles. They make the beds look a little messy. But, I’m going to see how this planting season goes. I have a feeling they may come in handy for staking the plants, so it might end up to be beneficial to have them…we shall see…

So, I built 2 unique looking raised vegetable garden beds for about $40. Not too shabby. Next year I’m going to add 2 more beds (assuming that I can actually get this year’s crop to grow) and see if I can get that cost down to $0!

More Yard Work

After just 2 weekends working in the yard, Neil and I are slightly sunburned and both have wonderfully attractive farmer tans.

more yard work

  1. The pile of wood left from both the old pool deck and the old front porch. Rather tiny in comparison to what the structures used to be.
  2. Stairs from the old pool deck. I’m planning on using this as a tiered self for potted plants in my vegetable garden area.
  3. First coat of paint went on the hand-me-down wicker couch our neighbor gave us in the Fall. I thought hand painting the first coat would help save cost on spray paint, but it fill in all the gaps as well as I was hoping, so I’ll just have to keep an eye out for deals on spray paint.
  4. Neil got a new toy for his birthday!
  5. My pile of grape vines waiting to be used. First project is going to be building a base around the sink bird bath.
  6. The Yard (as seen from back back looking towards the house) It’s coming along very nicely.

Evolution of the Porch

porch evolution

The original front porch of the house has come a long way. Here’s it’s journey:

  1. Original front porch in need of some attention.
  2. Painted the front porch in an effort to make our new house look a bit nicer from the street.
  3. Added a new walkway (front slate tiles found in the yard) and some plants for a little extra curb appeal.
  4. Porch was removed to make way for new covered porch construction (we hadn’t planned to do it so soon, but it made sense with all the other work being done).
  5. Porch moved to the backyard because I had big plans for it.
  6. That’s where it sat all winter.
  7. Removed the railings and placed them in the ground to create edgers for my garden area.
  8. One on either side.
  9. Full view of area.
  10. Then painted the spheres on the spindles yellow, to match the color of the doors.

I love how they ended up…Much nicer than I thought. I think it creates a unique garden feature and allows us to keep some original elements of the house. Better yet, Neil and the neighbors like it too, which is good! Didn’t want them to be offended by all the “stuff” I’m planning on putting in my yard.

Now it’s time to add some plants!

April Brings Yard Work

april yard work

Now that we’re a bit more settled and the weather is getting better, it’s time for yard work! We made a lot of progress the end of last summer clearing out all the overgrowth and brush, and this year it was time to finish it up and start over.

  1. Torn down the old pool deck. It wasn’t a terrible deck, but since we don’t have a pool and aren’t planning on putting in a new one anytime soon it was just an eye sore.
  2. Started my first vegetable garden. I always am looking for ways to reuse things and do stuff on the cheap. So, the support posts for my new raised garden beds are the spindles from the old pool deck. The side frames are going to be wood pallets = completely free raised garden beds!
  3. We finished clearing out the branches and muck from the garden area on the left side of the yard. The difference is amazing and makes the yard look a lot bigger.
  4. Now it’s time to work on my landscaping skills. Starting from my old sink turned bird bath, I have lots of plans for this lovely area.

We Moved!

moving day

We moved!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates. But, we moved in March and then took a much needed break from working on the house while we got settled into the in-law suite apartment.

Moving day was rather easy. Neil’s brother and dad and our friend Dan helped us out. We didn’t have all that much stuff, since we did only move into the in-law suite. The majority of my stuff I left at the condo, so it’s now just my big storage unit. But, we brought the big essentials and have been picking up other things here and there as needed.

It’s so wonderful to finally be in the house after all those months of working on it. It was actually really weird the first few nights, having it be our new home. I almost felt like were weren’t supposed to be there, that it was just the place where never ending work was done…But those thoughts are behind me now and I’m excited to finally be living here and now to get back to work!

In-Law Before & After

We finally finished the in-law suite to the point where we could move in. Here’s what we did.

Bathroom Before/After

BATHROOM: What We Did:

  • Complete Demo
  • New tub, tile, toilet, vanity, floor, fixtures, paint
  • Refinished door
  • STILL TO DO: Paint and hang cabinet about toilet; hang hand towel rod and towel hooks; hang artwork/decor

Bedroom Before/After

BEDROOM: What We Did

  • Removed carpet
  • New closet shelves
  • Rebuilt linen cabinet
  • Painted walls and window trim
  • Refinished doors

Dining Room Before/After

DINING ROOM: What We Did

  • Rebuilt recessed shelves
  • Widened and re-trimmed doorway
  • Rebuilt floor transition
  • Painted

Living Room Before/After

LIVING ROOM: What We Did

  • Replaced exterior door
  • New closet shelves
  • 1 new window
  • Refinished door
  • Painted
  • New curtain and rod

KITCHEN: What We Did (Don’t have good “after” pictures yet, so here’s just the list)

  • Replaced sink
  • Refinished alcove under stairs
  • Closed off wall were old stove hood was
  • New stove
  • Painted

To Do Before The Move

to do before the move

Since we are getting SO VERY CLOSE to being able to move into the inlaw suite I thought I’d put together a list of the last few items we still need to finish.

To Do Before the Move:

  • Finish Bathroom (install mirror and accessories; hang rod, curtain and door; finishing decor details)
  • Dining Room built-in (install shelves, paint)
  • Kitchen Storage Nook (install 1/4 round, paint)
  • Kitchen Floor (replace flooring transition strip…which was accidentally broken, but needed to be replaced sooner or later anyway)
  • Kitchen Drawers (install custom printed drawer liners)
  • Replace vents (maybe replace baseboards too?)
  • Linen Closet (paint, install doors)
  • Kitchen Door Entrance (replace lock)
  • Prime all walls
  • Cleaning, Cleaning and more Cleaning

We’re hoping to knock off most of the “building” items over the weekend. Then we’ll just have to clean, put a fresh coat of primer on the walls, and schedule the official moving day!

It’s Really Coming Together

Things are really starting to come together. We should be able to set up an official MOVING DAY within the next 3 weeks. Woo Hoo!

Here’s what we’ve been up to…

Closets:

coming together

Closet shelves and rods installed. Our closets are much narrower than standard closets, so we had to come up with our own custom set up.

I installed the rods myself…using the screw gun and everything! I’m on my way to being a power tool queen. =)

We also hung the refinished doors with the “new” vintage knobs.

Still To Do:

  • Install the door closure magnetic hardware
  • Hang door on living room closet
  • Clean

—–

Dining Room Built-In:

coming together 2

Finally figured out how to put together the framework for the built-in shelf in the dining room. Now I just need to figure out where I want the shelves. I figure it will mostly be used for knickknacks and some artwork, so I’ll probably just need a few shelves…uneven placement might be nice.

Still To Do:

  • Install Shelves
  • Paint / Prime

—–

Bathroom:

coming together 3

The bathroom is functional! We swapped out the valves, hooked up the toilet and vanity, and hooked up the tub. This project has been going on for so long I was afraid to be able to actually use it. But, it’s really coming along and looks great.

Still To Do:

  • Hang the mirror, towel rod, toilet paper roll, and accessories
  • Put up the curtain rod and curtain
  • Hang artwork
  • Find bath mat
  • Hang door
  • Eventually: find cabinet and/or floating shelves for above the toilet
  • Clean