Monday, November 30, 2009

Washing machine heaven

That's right. All I have to report in house-related news is our great pleasure in using a set of fully functional appliances. It wasn't without hassle, but it's all worked out in the end.

Last time I checked in, we had bought a closeout LG washer and dryer set for $700. They had to be ordered and were to arrive on Thursday. I waited until after the Friday shopping craze to call. Saturday morning, this is how the conversation went:

"Hi, I ordered a washer and dryer and want to know if they are ready for pick up..."

"What's your name?...Oh. The LG front-loaders. [Long silence...] Just a minute. [Long Wait...] Ok, ma'am? There's been a massive mistake. We oversold those machines. We sold WAY too many. There aren't any more in the store or in the warehouse...We can't order more. There are no more. You can bring in your receipt for a refund or get another set."

"For the same price?"

"No, you'd pay the difference."

Seriously, Best Buy? I calmly (well, mostly calmly) explained to the poor customer service rep that I had skipped out on the good Black Friday sales because I had already bought these and now I was going to be out more money because they screwed up and that was really not ok. He got a manager and I was promptly informed that I could come back in the store and pick out a new set for the same price.

We went in and while we weren't given the option of picking out another set (that would have been ridiculous-- I'll tell you right now I'd have opted for steam!), we were given the nearly identical set that is replacing the closeout model we had ordered. The machines were in stock and we started our washing marathon yesterday.

It's wonderful. A little vibration, no air hammering, and no walking so far-- and that's on the high and extra high spin speeds. I love it. LOVE IT. I watched the first cycle and I took a shower while one was running without losing pressure. Most of all, I'm completely smitten with little song they play when they're done.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday resting

I've never EVER stood in line for a Black Friday deal. This is partly due to never caring enough about what was on sale, and partly to the fact that I've had to work retail on that day more times than I ever cared to, and have absolutely no desire to be a part of inflicting that much headache on fellow retailers. Its a shitty day to work.

But truth be told, we NEED a new washer. We need one BADLY. And the dryer is starting to make a suspicious squeaking noise.

We have been looking, and looking, and looking...and now it is mega-sale time.

I've been keeping my eye on the Friday sale ads as they've been leaked. First we saw that Sears had a set of Kenmore front load washer/dryers for $500, and these new appliances started to look like a worthwhile proposition. Then I read the reviews. Not good. So we started considering the Samsung set for $1000. Excellent reviews, and probably worth the money, considering a bargain basement top loader and dryer would cost us $600+. Then the Home Depot ad was leaked; LG set for $800. Sold. I was more than willing to get up at 4am for these, especially since my local McDonald's has 24 hour drive-thru. Sue me-- I love their coffee. And yes I used to work at Starbucks and am usually a coffee snob. But I love the Micky D's plain ole coffee.

Anyway, at my in-laws yesterday for an early Thanksgiving get together, we were perusing the paper and saw that Best Buy was trying to offload their warehouse stock of LG washers and dryers before Thanksgiving. We were also informed that my sister-in-law has a Consumer Reports subscription allowing us to check out everything first. The model on sale was recently replaced with a redesign nearly identical in features at a slightly lower price point. It looked like BBY needed the space. And this model is a Consumer Reports recommended washer. They were selling these for half price. HALF PRICE. A washer and dryer for $700.

The LG DLE2516W and the LG WM2016CW.



So we bought 'em. We should get them next weekend. I let them know, too, that I've worked for Best Buy, which generally keeps them from harassing me about extra warranties and financing.

And now we get to rest on Black Friday.

I'm a little apprehensive, though. I've never had front-loaders and have heard some walking-washer horror stories on these old floors. One of the reasons I was partial to the LGs was that they have some lower spin speeds that I've heard help in older homes. And I'd like to side vent this dryer and eventually stack them. But right now, I'll just be happy to get them inside the house.

Anyone have any experience with front loaders in old home or with LGs in particular?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Put another log on the fire...

Or turn up the gas.

I'm ashamed to admit that we have owned this house more than 2 years and we'd never even bothered to see if the gas logs work.

A good friend of ours used to be a chimney sweep; while he was over for beers, he started geeking out over the fireplace-- we didn't force him to give us free advice/labor, I swear! He took a look through the flue, and even climbed up on the roof in the dark to check the state of the chimney. He burned some newspaper to see if it drew, and then took the logs apart to see if they worked.

Long and short is this: chimney is super clean, as in, it's possible it was never used for wood; if it was used for wood, the creosote has dissolved over the last 40+ years, as the logs are a 1968 model. The chimney draws really well, and the logs are indeed still hooked up to gas and light up like they're supposed to. However, the ceramic logs didn't get very hot (the cat jumped on them while lit, so...yeah.), but it was still neat to have a fire.

Now we have a decision to make. We can use these logs or get a new set of gas logs-- they aren't very expensive at all. We can take out the gas logs and burn wood, but we have to clean it extremely frequently. We can have the chimney relined, so we don't have to clean it so often. And I would assume that we could convert the gas line into a starter if we wanted to.

We had a fireplace in one of our houses growing up, and it was nice when we used it; most of the time, though, we were all too lazy to light it up. I sort of like the idea of gas logs that I can just turn on and turn off when I feel like it, and it sounds like this may have been original to the house in terms of use (the logs in there aren't original, but maybe there were always gas logs there).

On the other hand, you sure as hell can't beat the smell of a real wood fireplace. And a gas starter would make me more inclined to use it; but if we're going to use it a lot, we should get it lined, I guess.

So many choices. Any thoughts?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Night of the ADULT Trick-Or-Treaters


Happy Halloween, folks.

Not much has been happening in the blog because not much has been happening at the house that doesn't involve our various animals.

Simon, our 14 year old fluffy little lamb dog, appears to perhaps have doggie Alzheimer's, so we're keeping an eye on that, adjusting his diet, and trying to do mind-stimulating things with him. River was supposed to begin obedience classes last week, but the trainer had to postpone them; in the meantime, we're trying to get a little ahead of the game. Since there's only 3 dogs in the class I figure the faster we can make this go, the more we can learn for our money. We're also spending a lot of time at the dog park. Fort Smith has a 40 acre dog park with ponds and brush and pastures. It's great. My mother, also had animal trials and tribulations, managing to get 2 feral kittens hiding out in her house, and every time she caught them and tried to put them in either the bathroom or a kennel, they escaped. She finally got them out of the house and out to a friend's house in the country. They were really old kittens and really feral, but we were going to try to socialize them and get them fixed; unfortunately, they were proving more than a handful. Hopefully, they will have a great time catching barn mice.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

We did a little Halloween fun stuff. Pumpkins:



And skeletons:

And passed out candy to about 300 trick-or-treaters. Then a funny thing happened. Adults trick-or-treated. Grown ass women. Women old enough to collect social security. Women NOT EVEN IN COSTUME, wearing their sweatshirts and jeans, carrying sacks and getting candy. WTF. We were so gobsmacked that we gave them candy, but we were truly baffled.

At any rate, we now have to have to have to focus on the house. We can't finish up the insurance claim from the hailstorm until we plug the hole in the living room ceiling and paint the damn house. It might be getting too cold to paint, but we can at least tuck point. And really, we're in the south-- it's still 75 degrees some days, so I figure that if Thanksgiving weekend is a warm one, we might have to get some painting done anyway.

We only have until April.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We're still alive and kicking

...although you'd probably never know it looking at the house. Another slump has hit us. There's just a lot going on. Our new puppy is taking a lot of time to train, though she is sweet as ever. And our old man dog, Simon, was taking trips to the vet several times a week for a while to get arthritis shots and blood panels. He's started on a total dietary turnaround; we've transitioned the dogs to Nature's Variety, and both get a nightly treat of salmon oil and canned pumpkin. Then Simon gets joint supplements, vitamins, monthly adequan shots and Rimadyl. Whew! Just doling out the damn pills takes up all my time! But he feels so much better, so far, at any rate. And thankfully, so do I since PetCo had a mega moving sale and let everything go for about 60% off.

And then there's the historic neighborhood walk. I wrote an article about it for our local magazine and we've been trying to pretty the place up and make the front presentable. Top that with the fact that our washing machine is dying a slow and painful death, so while we were hemming and hawing over whether to take advantage of the labor day sales or wait until the Thanksgiving sales, laundry was piling up swiftly. We finally decided to wait and I've been catching up.

One cool thing to come out of this historic walk, or perhaps leading up to the walk, is the area's place on the National Historic Register. We're getting "historic" street signs tomorrow, and I woke up to find a manilla envelope on teh porch yesterday, stuffed with the papers from the architectural survey done on the house during the petition for addition to the register. Kinda cool. Not a lot that we didn't know, but some confirmation of things we suspected (like that the house was not built in 1940 as HUD suggested, but rather closer to 1922 or so. My research says 1920/21). Gives the place of whiff of the Bona Fides.

Meanwhile, the university is back in session and I've hilariously decided to take a class for fun. Ha ha ha! I have an assignment due on Friday. We also had a lot of grilling and beer drinking to do this weekend.

So anyway, the long and short is, life got in the way. Once again.

But! We at least still have plans. If it weren't for all the rain, Adam would be tuck pointing this week. That's my drive home. I can't really complain when I get a double rainbow
into the prettiest damn valley in the world.

Maybe this coming weekend. We want to start painting by mid-October. It stays pretty warm and temperate quite late into the fall around here, so early to mid-October ought to be a good time. I think I might have chickened out on the red color. Here's the problem. Now think of this picture as Highlights magazine. What's wrong with this picture...


Nope, not the walkway; I've edged it already. Not the peeling paint... Give up?

There it is. See how all those bricks mush into each other? That's all over the house. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad tuckpointing. Even though WE know we're not trying to fool anyone, the people who drive by don't and that flat space will scream "fake painted brick." I've also sort of grown accustomed to a light, bright house. So we're working through some combinations of buff, taupe and brick red for the house, decorative trim, and gable trim. More to come, I suppose.

And that's the big picture. We're still alive and doing very boring things, being "those people" about our dogs (or maybe it's just me...) and trying desperately not to be the worst house on the block. Can you blame us for being unproductive?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trudging along

We've been slowly working on the laundry room. I've managed to get the place primed, and mostly caulked last weekend; since it was sort of cobbled together with that paneling, I had a lot of seams to hit. This weekend, we wrapped up the caulking and painted it our fabulous five dollar mis-tint. The sample on the paint lid looked sort slate blue/grey...but once we got it up, it turns out it's more robin's egg blue. Adam looked up at one paint and said, "Someone's going to hate this color when we go to sell." But we actually like it. And it's a far cry from what was previously there. Now we just have to paint the trim.

So. Before:


As it stands now:


It's nothing to write home about, really, but for $5, I couldn't be happier. Granted, it looks a little pukey with the floor; at some point, we'll tear it out nad install the bargain slate we bought almost 2 years ago!

Meanwhile, our most recent set back has occurred in the yard. I received a notice last week from the city that I needed to clean up my yard in a week. This cleanup included mowing (granted, we'd gone a little longer this time, but it had rained a bunch and grass was exploding; I mowed it that night, and it needs to be mowed again badly); they noted the dead limbs at the side of our yard that we had trimmed a few days before and hadn't moved to the back of the house yet; the boxes in the carport and tucked to the side of things that we were preparing to take to the salvation army; weeds IN THE ALLEY; and a few branches that hung over the street, only in the way of MY car when I park curbside in front of MY OWN house.

Fine. We'll get it done.

The next day, I get a certified letter in the mail. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Those things are never good. When I went to the post office to pick it up, it was, I kid you not, the top copy of the notice that was plastered to my door. Then I found out that basically the whole neighborhood had received these notices.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is hosting an historic walk through the neighborhood in a few weeks, and I think the city is trying to whip us into shape.

At any rate, while we were at it, Adam decimated some of the bamboo and trimmed everything. Our mosquito problem is out of hand, and I think it's because they are breeding in the bamboo. So at least some of it has to go.

And that's about the long and short of it for the moment. Hopefully we can get the trim finished, soon, and get working on the exterior.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More progress

I should probably preface this by saying that the laundry room is definitely an afterthought kind of room. It's clearly been converted from something else and was done extremely half-assedly by the previous owners. The wood paneling was installed around the trim and they didn't even BEGIN to cut it in straight lines or flush to the trim-- and then to top it off they didn't top it off. Nothing was caulked, and it's just a sad little space. We would love to do a little more back here, but we've got much more pressing matters, and we have all that beautiful slate to eventually redo the floors. Unfortunately, though, the floors have had water damage and there's several layers of linoleum, so we'll want to take all that up and start from scratch-- definitely more than I want to deal with right now.

That said, the holes in the wall needed to be filled, and there's nothing wrong with making it a bit more tolerable in the meantime!

When we installed the gas stove (POs had electric, we just had a line diverted from the gas wall heater in the laundry room to the other side of the wall. This left a big ass gaping hole:


Go ahead and click on that pic to get a close-up of the rocking wallpaper peeking out from under the paneling..Go ahead! It really is awesome; parts of the design even shimmer in the light!

Anyway, I got some of the paneling that we stripped from the kitchen, ahem, two years ago. Somehow it never made it to the dump. It's slightly different, but we were able to find enough of the repeating pattern to fit. A few cuts, some liquid nail, and two actual trim nails later:


A little caulk and paint, and it'll be good as new.

You might also have noticed in the right hand side of that shot, there's trim. We got the trim fitted around our ghost door, too.


I wanted to get some priming done, too, but that will have to wait for another day. I've got that awesome $5 mistint paint for the walls and the luan and regular ol' antique white for the trim. I'm planning to treat that weird piece of drop trim at the top of the wall and everything above it like crown molding paint it all white.

It'll be so nice when it's all painted and done and we can bring the big freezer in from the garage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weekday Eats

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, but tonight I decided to keep track of what I was doing and post a twist on a recipe from Epicurious-- Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese.

I've made this before using slightly less butter and omitting the breading, and it is really fantastic. But when I got to the grocery store this evening, I discovered that they don't carry goat cheese. Sigh. So I took a few suggestions from the reviews, made a few of my own changes, and ended up with a lovely result.

The List:

4 boneless chicken breasts
Butter (about 1 1/2 T)
2-3 green onions
4 oz of cream cheese and
~2 oz queso fresco (both in place of the goat cheese)
6-10 basil leaves

for the sauce:

~2 T butter and olive oil if needed
8 oz mushrooms
1/4 c white wine
2/3 c chicken broth

for the starch:

couscous cooked in chicken broth
Step one: Chopping and mixing
Thinly slice 2 or 3 green onions and the basil leaves.


Add the cheese...


And mix. Salt a pepper just a little bit.


Step Two: Imagine stuffing

By this point, my fingers started getting all chicken-y, so no pictures for this step.

Here's where I stuff the breast. The recipe calls for pounding and rolling, but that sounded like too much work. So I slice a little hole in the side of the breast and slide teh knife around inside the breast to make a little pocket.

Then I stuff the cavity and put a toothpick in it to pinch the hole shut.

Step Three: Baking

Each of the stuffed breasts are placed in a 9X12 Pam'd glass pan and drizzled with a little melted butter. Put, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 350ยบ. It will need to bake for about 35 minutes.



Step Four: The sauce

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and sautee the mushrooms; add olive oil if needed. Once they're nice and smooshy, add the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Then add the chicken broth and reduce.


Step Five: Starch it up

Make the couscous-- I use chicken broth instead of water, but then again, we buy broth by the case.

And that's it. I was too hungry to take a pic of the finished product. I can say that our final dish could have used that third green onion, more basil, and I think it would have been amazing served on spinach steamed with lemon or collard greens with the couscous on the side. One of these days I'll try it.

I'd say it's probably better with the goat cheese, but goodness knows this is cheaper ;-).

Finally!!

It has been so long since we worked on the house. We kept talking about it; then we were preparing for the new puppy dog; then we were settling the new puppy dog. At any rate, we finally did it. We did some work.

When we tore out the kitchen walls, we ended up with this:


Apparently there had been another door between the kitchen and laundry room. You could see the remnants of it on the laundry side, but it's covered up on the kitchen side. We had to tear out some pretty shoddy framing-in when we sheetrocked and we just hadn't filled this side in again. Before, it had more of that lovely wood-paneling you can see there on the rest of the walls.

We (meaning, "I") forgot to take pictures in the process, so I will simply explain what we did here. First, we decided to fill the space with some super thin luan-- the washer's drain and water lines are practically in the doorway, so there's not a lot of space to work with.

Then we put blocks around the perimeter to attach the luan to something-- we made these blocks no deeper than the existing 2X4s you see there; that way, everything stayed pretty even. then we nailed in the luan, trimmed out the doorway's "jamb" with 2x4s ripped to size, and finished it out with quarter round. We'll replace the trim once I've painted. I really like the idea of our little ghost door.



Here's where we are so far:


Now to get the trim re-affixed and we'll be in good shape. I'm so proud of us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Plus-One

Last night we welcomed our new member of the family. Meet River.


But please ignore the dust bunnies and muddy paw prints ;-)

River was an owner-surrender at the shelter. The day they were going to euthanize her, one of the foster moms took her. She's 4 years old, but still seems like a gangly puppy. She's got a great personality, and thanks to her foster mom, she has excellent manners. She is housebroken (though we won't be surprised if there are accidents; it's a new home, after all) and knows most of the basic commands, including S-P-E-A-K. I'm afraid to even write it because she unfortunately doesn't know "shut-up" yet. We've got a ways to go on leash skills and re-crate training, but she seems super smart. She was in a crate in foster care, but this a slightly different size and different bedding, home, etc. She has a lot to get used to!

The cats are still under the beds, though River is wholly uninterested in them. And Simon is in love. He's always liked dogs more than people; people make him anxious, but dogs usually know how to communicate. We all woke up to roaring thunderstorms at 4 am. This morning, Simon was upset for a while, but after a little time with River, who is totally unaffected by the noise, and a valium, he calmed down more than I've seen him do in ages. It was great to see.



Did I mention she has the longest tongue in the world? And beautiful brown eyes that a camera flash simply doesn't do justice to.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Casualty

First I want to mention, by request, the number of the most recent paint sample. The post just before this one shows Pittsburgh Paints Warm Mahogany, number 430-7. I go back and forth about whether it is too red, too brown, too bright. But somehow I think it's probably just right. Mind, if any of you are trying it out, don't be too alarmed by the baby shit brown color that it is when wet. Yikes.

So. Our latest casualty is one of our red bud trees. I was going to hang our hammock on it. At about midnight last night, I took the dog out to do his business. While we were walking around the yard, I started thinking that the yard was a little wilder and shaggier than I thought-- I mean, it definitely needs a mow, but this was out of hand. Unfortunately, it needs more than a trim.

I'm not sure I even understand how or when this happened. That tree was living, so I guess it just got too heavy. There weren't any major storms yesterday. At least it was that side of the tree and not the side that sits next to the electrical lines.

Guess I know what we'll be doing over the next few days.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer showers

The forecast predicted rain for yesterday through today. It looked like it was supposed to start late in the evening, so I decide to test a paint color after lunch.

We slapped it up there and it looked awful-- we wondered if it was even the right color. But as it began to dry, it improved, so we decided to let it dry more and put on a second coat before making a judgment. About 30 minutes later, it started to blow and storm and dump buckets of rain...and wash away some of the still wet paint.

After a little while, I checked the weather and, again, it looked like it would be a couple of hours before more rain, so I went to put a second coat on what was left (which was significant, actually). About 10 minutes after I finished, round 2 of our mid-summer storm popped in and washed a lot of it away, too. But the coverage of each coat seemed great, although the paint itself was runnier than the Valspar.

Today has been just humid and wet, but not rainy. After a day and a half of being cooped up, puppy and I went to check on the now dry paint.

Well, I think it looks great.


You can see the sad bleed... And here it is with the real brick in the background:


This second pic shows how it's a bit more purple than it appears in the other one; it looks pretty similar to the lighter brick. The thing is, real brick is so variable that I know we'll never actually get a match. But that color looks pretty good on its own.

I'm thinking it's ok.

Friday, July 3, 2009

We continue the quest...

I'm sure I've mentioned before that my dad was a contractor. He always used Pittsburgh Paints, and the painter that he worked with when he was a crew foreman and who he would hire for larger jobs when he was independent also always used PP. (Just an aside-- this particular painter was a great friend to my dad and a great guy; strangely, he died of some form of liver cancer almost 2 years to the day after my father also died of liver/bile duct cancer. Strange world...)

When we bought the house, my mother told me she'd had great luck with the guys at our PP dealer, saying, "They always worked with me to get the right color."

I'm not sure what I thought she meant by that, but clearly I wasn't paying attention.

I went on a paint swatch gathering extravaganza this morning on my day off, and found a swatch I like at Sherwin-Williams (btw, ALL paints are 30% off today, tomorrow and Sunday!!) and one from PP. I decided to try the one from PP first. When the much older gentleman working asked me what I was painting, I told him what's going on, that this is just a sample.

"Well, if you put the color up there and you don't like it, don't throw it away! Bring it back. We'll keep adjusting it until you like it and then we can set down a formula for larger quantities." And he said 5 gallons would run in the range of $100; I've prepared myself for a cool $250/5gal, so this is great news.

Normally I'd be skeptical of this procedure. However, these are guys who have been doing this a loooong time and are probably good at both computer-matching and hand-matching. The main selling point here is that they cater primarily to contractors and interior decorators; these are people who have clients to please. And they're not trying to sell me gallon after gallon of colors that aren't right. My mother (an artist, btw) continues to tell me that they know what they're doing.

I haven't put the sample up yet-- there's hamburgers and brats to grill, after all-- but I thought this was a practice worth mentioning, something I would imagine many of the more "professionally" oriented places practice. Our Kelly Moore and Benjamin Moore dealers seem to have similar clients, so it wouldn't surprise me if they did the same thing...

We'll see how this turns out. Do any of you have paint guys who do this for you? What's been your success? And for those of you using SW, don't forget it's 30% off this weekend if you have projects on the horizon...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yum

Fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, and garlic on french bread, with basil and tomatoes from the garden =

Best Sack Lunch Ever.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Color by numbers

...or by brand name.

I found a few swatches that looked more "brick-y" and I was planning to try them out this week; but they're from Home Depot, and I hear nothing but awful, awful things about Behr paints. I'm stopping by BenMoore on the way home, and will try to pop into SherwinWilliams if they're still open by the time I pass them en route; I will likely also revisit Pittsburgh and Kelly, but if I can't find a match...?? Does anyone have anything good to say about Behr? I know they have fancy computers and everything, but I still do not trust color match systems, especially if we were to need more at a later date.

I was really pleased with our Valspar experiences, and not so much with our cheap-end SW experience. I'd have to go to the pricey end. And since we are covering up WHITE (not beige-- WHITE), we're going to need 2 coats of whatever-- at least. Such a dark red may require 3.

Sigh.

All I know is that I want to hurry up and get to tuckpointing so it can cure and we can move on this paint job. And then we can tell the bank we are 90% complete with the insurance claim and get the rest of the moolah. :-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Color and light


So beautiful.

Anyway, we got our office light up. We bought it a year and a half ago or something like that and it took us this long to get it on the ceiling.


And then I started testing a sample color-- Martha Stewart Valspar Picnic Table. It's hard to see on the computer...

In this shot you can see the very dirty unpainted brick chimney:


We're sampling on the back side of the porch so we can take our time. Up against the unpainted brick, it doesn't look real without the grout lines, but honestly I think I'm ok with that. I think I like the color anyway:

It looks a little off on my computer screen-- too pink or dusty or something-- but it looks pretty good in person. I dunno. Maybe I'll try a couple more colors, something a little browner; I've even considered sponging something just a half step browner very lightly over this. At any rate, I think painting the body of the house a dark color will make the trim stand out, and that's really the best detail of the exterior.

We're getting there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Salsa time

Assuming the veggies keep it up, I'm going to have fresh salsa soon!

I finally got back from about 10 days in Daytona Beach scoring AP exams again. It was the last year in Daytona, and I do hope I'm invited back next year; it moves to Louisville, KY, which is a place I've never been. It looks like a lot of fun.

On my return, I saw that Adam had begun screening the porch. Seeing as how I didn't notice it until practically putting my hand through the screen, I don't think it's worth a picture at this point.

The plants are also positively thriving. For many of you, this seems like no kind of news. But I've killed everything I ever potted, and last year our tomato situation was embarrassing. But now, it's like I've been given a whole new green thumb! Coleus before:


Coleus now:


So bushy and fluffy and lovely!

And the veggies before:


And veggies now:


Time to thin out the surrounding cannas again, and start staking things-- I think I'm going to stake the peppers out to the side so there's a little more light getting to the tomatoes in the back...

Still, the tomatoes have little baby tomatoes starting and lots of blossoms, the jalapenos are growing,


And so are the eggplants.


I'm past due for fertilizer and copper fungus spray, but hopefully I can get a good little crop if I keep it up.

Watch. Now I've just jinxed myself ;-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Where's wormy?

He's not too hard to find, really...


Our compost is so beautifully packed with gigantic nightcrawlers, it's wonderful. Today I got my last veggie planter put together. If this is successful, we'll probably branch out more next year; Adam was going to do some raised beds, but I fear the summer is slipping away from us...

For this container, I bought an 18 gallon Rubbermaid tub. First, I drilled a ton of 1/4" holes in the bottom and sides.


Then I put some river rock in the bottom...

Followed by cheap potting soil...

Then a half-and-half mix of potting soil and compost... And then the plants! Two more patio tomatoes and a few very small eggplant starters. I sort of figure that you can do each of these plants in 5 gallon containers or less, so this should sustain 3 or 4 plants at least. We'll see. I fertilized and treated for fungus and slugs, and voila!


Who knows. That sad wilty one in the back already looks better, so I'm hopeful.

I also mowed and picked up more paint samples for the house painting. We're feeling like painting the house a brick color is the way to go...What do you think? A number of houses in our neighborhood are painted "red brick" and you can't tell until you're standing right next to them. I don't even need it to be super convincing-- just something a little more appropriate to the house, maybe? Thankfully, the POs didn't paint the chimney so we have something to match the paint to. It's such a major change. I'm having a bit of a hard time with it. But the insurance settlement gave us money to repaint, and part of that money is in escrow until we actually do the job, so we figure now's the time.

Worst case scenario? We repaint. Again.