Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Charming sheds..part 1

I love sheds.
In fact everybody seems to love sheds, and it's easy to see why!  They're the perfect opportunity to have your own mini dream house that's built and styled exactly how you wish your real house could be.  Since they're so much smaller, you can consider more expensive materials than you would perhaps use on your home.

Sheds also offer a distinct break from your house, if you choose to decorate the inside you can do it with more risky colors, more whimsical prints and more fun than you would necessarily want in your formal living room.

We're trying to come up with a final design for the backyard, including of course a small shed.  These are some of my favorites...part 1!
I love how the climbing roses are covering this shed!

Love this.

I really like the rafter tails and cedar shingles on this shed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sophia Boudoir Chair

This boudoir chair has been by far my most popular chair on Etsy.  It's made tracks over blogland but it didn't have a glamourous beginning!  This is the journey of this chair from humble start to fabulous end...
I found this chair at a garage sale in town, it was very neglected with the welting peeling off and a dreadful fabric covering it.  The paint was so dingy I couldn't tell what color it really was.
This pic was a late-night camera phone attempt :)
After a thorough scrubbing the beautiful original finish came through in a stunning heavy cream and gold.  I chose a beautiful shantung silk (lined) to reupholster it in a peachy pink and tufted it to the original design.
The armrests were redone and replaced and then the back was put on, closing her up.  Silks are not forgiving so you have to be super careful.  The double welt on this piece is all custom made by yours truly.  I think it took longer than the whole rest of the chair put together but look what a "finished" look it gives!
Now this abandoned boudoir chair is a show-stopping beauty living in a start-up boutique shop in New England.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy Peasy Herb Markers!

I hope you enjoyed my little secret garden yesterday!  
Our neighbors all know they're welcome to go in there anytime and get some herbage for dinner.  So I decided to mark everything a little more clearly for them.

To begin I ran to Lowes for a package of wooden shims.  I bought a package of 14 for about $1.50.  Then I got my computer, typed out all the plant names and picked a font that I liked for guidance.  I went with "American Typewriter" for simplicities sake.  
Then it was as simple as writing the names on the shims with a Sharpie.  It's waterproof so it won't run in the rain and it didn't bleed into the wood tooooo badly. 
I love how they turned out, I had to remind myself it's ok if they're not PERFECT...they're going in a garden after all!

Yesterday morning I got up after the rain to put them in the garden, the tapered design of the shims made them pretty easy to get in the ground.

If you're concerned about them decomposing you can spray them with a varnish or polyurethane.  I'm not too worried about it since it will be a fun project to redo next year anyway!

Now it's so much easier to tell everything apart...

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Secret Garden

I know I've done a slew of outdoor posts lately but I'm just so excited about the warm weather!

Today I want to show you my favorite part of our tiny lot.  It's my secret herb and veggie garden.  

It's actually a really bizarre story how this garden came to be.  When we bought our house we noticed something odd about the fence on the right hand side of it, next to the garage.  Apparently the neighbors who used to live on that side had asked the previous owner of our house if they could build their fence up against our garage on both sides.  
This is a very old picture of our house, (we never saw it with this roof) but you can see on the right side the neighbor's fence attaches to our garage.  Basically we couldn't get past that fence and on the back of the garage they had another one, so that part of our property was in their yard and we couldn't get to it in any way.  With such a small lot, I'm thinking every little bit matters!

Fortunately when we bought the house, the neighbors living there happened to be former dance students of mine!  I had also photographed their wedding so we went waaaay back already.  They were totally understanding when we mentioned the possibility of bringing that area back into our yard.

And the herb garden was born!
You can see we used the fencing that used to be there to build part of the new fence to block this area off from the neighbor's yard.  The original blocking section of fence on the back is still there but hopefully someday we'll make it a gate as well so we can enter from the backyard.

Now it looks like this...
This is still an older photo but here you can see the new white picket gate (made by yours truly!) hiding behind the bushes.  Today those viburnums are so large the gate is completely hidden.

Rounding the corner of the garage I'm greeted by a happy clematis growing up its trellis and a charming little gate.
It's amazing the amount you can grow in such a small area (with lots of sun)!  This little garden supplies us with Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Mint, Oregano, Lavender, Chives, Basil, Sage, Thyme, Cilantro, Lettuce, Cabbage, Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Strawberries, Raspberries and Arugula through the summer...some more successfully than others!
Tomorrow more garden pics and how to make charming herb markers for under $2!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Backyard Blues

Every house has it's sticking point.  The one thing that can't be fundamentally changed and you just have to work around.

Ours is our backyard.  In a neighborhood of moderately generous backyards our house is among a few that are situated in such a way as to have a pretty small backyard.  While it's super easy to take care of, for a girl who wants to raise chickens, have a vegetable garden and acres of space around her it's a little bit of a bummer.

It also has a three foot "rise" so when you walk out the back door you're just visually hit by the hill.  An impractical patio and no longer functioning french drain contribute to the yard looking choppy.

So we're planning, someday, to turn it into this...
(Please forgive VERY rough sketches!)

The other side of the yard.

We really want to add a small shed to get some storage since our garage is only a one-car.  Hopefully the retaining wall will have about three feet of planting bed on top for a summer veggie garden!  That back fence gets sun all day long so the veggies should be super happy.

There's one more little section of yard (forming an "L") next to the sunroom...I'm still working on this area but I'm thinking a patio of cobblestones, bricks or pavers and maybe a wisteria arbor!
(The chair in this picture is actually protecting Bunn's bunny nest).

This is a huge job that will probably require some heavy machinery that we do not own or know how to use but hopefully it won't be too long before we can get started back here!

Hope you're all enjoying your back yards this beautiful time of year!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The adventures of Mr. Bunn

Our neighborhood has a bunny problem.  Not just a normal bunny problem with the occasional destroyed hosta, we have so many bunnies that at any given time standing in the street, it is very likely you can see six or more bunnies at a time.

Pidge has been going out of her mind.

However, a few weeks ago when Pidge was outside I noticed she was being especially quiet, so I went out to check on her and found her nose deep in a hole in the back yard.  After I got her super excited self back inside I saw what she'd done, she'd dug up a bunny hole with babies probably about 30 hours old and dragged one out of the nest.  Pidge is so completely gentle that even in her excitement she didn't manage to kill the one tiny baby she pulled out so I called my friend Deidre who has been known to raise the odd damaged animal over the years....and by "called" I mean, screeched on the phone for her to get here right away, thank goodness we only live a mile apart!

I thought the baby Pidge had dragged out was dead because it was all bloody (you can imagine the freaking out right now) but it started twitching and wiggling so I put on some gardening gloves and got some of the grass and mom's bunny fur off of it.  It had a puncture on both sides of its head behind the eyes and its left ear was torn halfway off.  When Deidre got here we tried to clean the blood off with a Q-tip but it kept bleeding, I couldn't believe the baby could survive losing that much blood!  

Well we couldn't put it back in the nest to die and get blood on the other babies because the mom wouldn't come back so we put him in a shoebox, got some kitten formula and an eyedropper and Deidre took him home.

She took so much care of the little one, though we were positive it wouldn't survive the weekend.  It's nearly impossible to keep baby bunnies alive even when they haven't been partially mauled by a dog!  Deidre had him for two days and we named him Bunn.  After the two days he was healing well but not growing with the kitten formula so we decided to risk putting him back in the nest.  

We anxiously waited for the mom to come back and accept her new little one.  The next morning we saw the sticks we had put on the nest in an "X" had been moved and the mom had come back!  After that we checked on them every day and Bunn was doing great.  He was easy to recognize because his ear healed crooked and he was much smaller than his siblings.  

He was the last to leave the nest and we kept track of all the babies for a while, now I'm sure they're off making more babies to wreak havoc on my garden right now.

We kept Pidge away from them while they were babies, but now that they're grown up all bets are off!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The view from where I sit.

Our neighborhood is a darling little cottage glen with small homes taken care of really really well.  


Everyone has one, the neighbor that doesn't necessarily 'revel' in their yardwork.  Our street's black sheep happens to be right next to our house.  It is oddly positioned as the corner house so it's backyard actually faces us.  

For a long time whenever we would look out of any of the bedroom windows all we would see is a barren wasteland, chippy foundation, brush piles, a bright blue hose, occasional trash and weeds growing taller than the air conditioner.  
So one day we (and by "we" I mean Allen) asked the owner (who, while not an avid gardener is a sweetheart) if we could plant a tree in his back yard.  To my surprise he was delighted!
This is where I wiiiiiiiiiiiish I had taken before pictures!

So we planted a magnolia
We used some rocks from our backyard french-drain to form a slight retaining wall.  This particular magnolia blooms yellow in the Spring, which is something I've never seen!  We made sure to position it perfectly to block the views from all our windows on that side of the house.

A few weeks passed and we mustered up the courage to ask if we could plant another tree.
He said yes!

So we planted a cherry toward the front of the property to ease the view from the street.

It is tiiiiiiny right now (hence cheeeeeep) but cherries grow like weeds!

That went so well we asked ooooone mooooore time...
...and our sweet neighbor told us we can do anything we want...can you say Eureka!!?

So we planted a serviceberry tree (the "bush" on the right)
and took a truck's worth of brush out of the back bed behind it.

We weeded the bed by the door and I found the shepherds hook standing vacant in the front yard.

We had to dig huge maple trees out of these beds.  We put a stone edging around them to try to keep the weeds at bay.  I found the trellis buried in a fern bed on the side of the house...thankfully it's in really good shape!

The other side of the air conditioner was completely empty.
So we divided two hostas that were hiding under those evergreens and planted them along the foundation.  One hosta was so large is divided into FIVE new ones!

He had a blue hose thrown over the gas meter so I found a huge, lightweight resin pot and sprayed it bronze.  Now it hides the hose so well!

It still needs some work but it's a million time better than it was before!

Some of the neighbors have gotten excited about sprucing it up and offered extra fertilizer, divided plants etc!
I have so many plans for this house (cutting down the dead tree in the front, painting doors and replacing light fixtures) but when it's not your house you really need to be dimey about spending money on it.  Pluuuus we haven't gotten permission to change the house yet, but maybe someday!



Pidge likes it better anyway...