Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Very Lincoln Birthday

If you know me in real life (not blogger world, although, now that you're here....nice to meet you!), you know that I am obsessed with all things Abraham Lincoln.  Last year for my birthday, my friends took me to the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.... this year, I talked my husband into taking me to D.C.

I adore everything about D.C.  The monuments, the museums, even the 20-somethings who scurry around the city acting like they run the country.  I love it all.  I was thrilled when it turned out that Dustin was actually pretty easy to convince about the trip.  He hadn't been since he was a kid, so he agreed the trip would be great.

We spent a long weekend in D.C. and packed it full.  We (ahem, *I*) decided that the theme of the weekend would be Lincoln.  In honor of the theme, we started our first full day off by visiting Ford's Theatre and the House Where Lincoln Died.  

The House Where Lincoln Died had an awesome pile, stack (mountain??) of all the books ever written about Lincoln.  I'm at the bottom of the pile, rocking the 'thumbs up' for all things Lincoln.

The next day we toured the National Cathedral, Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.  Right here seems like a good place to insert how amazing Dustin was to happily follow my lead and even humor me by allowing us to attend every "half hour" informational lecture that was offered.  He also proved to be quite the helpful photographer as I begged him to take my photo in front of all my favorite Supreme Court Justices.

The National Cathedral was truly stunning.  Hard to believe that it was only officially completed in the 1990s.  

We also squeezed in some time to try out 2Amys-- which is a restaurant I've been wanting to try since drooling over pictures on some of my favorite D.C. blogs.  

My birthday evening was spent in true Lincoln fashion.  We ate at the Lincoln Restaurant, which lived up to the hype.  The floor was tiled completely with pennies (over 700,000) and the drinks were served in copper cups and mason jars.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the interior, but I was too busy enjoying the amazing food. 

After dinner at The Lincoln Restaurant, we met up with my college roomie, Natalie, to see what else but Lincoln the movie.  After seeing Daniel Day Lewis rock my world as the Abraham Lincoln, we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.  Imagine me walking on cloud nine, and you have now just imagined how my 27th birthday went.

I'm still trying to catch on to this "capture every moment on camera" so you can blog about it later idea, so as much as I tried, I still failed to capture many of my favorite moments on camera.  We spent a great afternoon at Eastern Market where we picked up some vintage maps for our new house, and we also spent a great night  sipping margaritas at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana.  

As you can see, I had the best 27th birthday ever.  To sum up: Lincoln is the man, D.C. is my favorite city ever, and my plot to name my first born son 'Lincoln' is well underway.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Our Bungalow

Well, friends, I didn't plan on taking a blogging break, but I guess that's what happened.  The main reason for my blogging absence is that we have been busy!  I have been dreading writing this post, but here goes.  We moved!  That's right.  We sold our cute little bungalow.  It's a long story, but basically we were miserable.  Over the past year we watched as our street turned into one rental property after another.  In addition to other questionable tenants moving in up and down the street, our next door neighbors, who had always been a bit of a pain, became a little should I say this politely....ummmm....I'll leave it at "more annoying."   I'll spare you the details, but believe me, you know it was bad if I was willing to give up my cute little garden.

We weighed our options and in the end realized that we just needed to get out of there.  So, with that decision made we began the process of selling our place.  In the process I of course took thousands of pictures of our first home.  In honor of our big move, I've decided to put together a little list of things I'm going to miss the most and things that I'm happy to say farewell to (No, I didn't take pictures of the neighbors, but they would be at the top of the list).

I am going to miss my little dining room, the original windows, and all the original wood trim and window casings.  A lot of the houses in our neighborhood have white painted trim, so we always felt lucky that our trim was in its original condition.

I am especially going to miss our kitchen that we remodeled.  Dustin removed the green tile and replaced it with white beadboard.  We also replaced the countertops, painted the trim white, painted the walls, updated the sink, and replaced the lighting.  We also updated most of the appliances to stainless steel.
Here are a couple before shots:

  And the after:

While our little bathroom served us well, I will be thankful to add a second to our house.  Here's a before shot---the green trim was a killer.

Amazing what a little paint can do.

While I have blogged on here about my raised garden bed, I will admit that it was frustrating to have such a tiny space for gardening.  The garden was also located nearest to the neighbors meaning I always had to keep headphones in if I wanted to keep my sanity (AKA avoid hearing lovely baby mama drama or screaming kids).  It just wasn't the most ideal space, but I am proud of that raised bed that my hubby built for me and all the yummy veggies that came out of it.

Selling our first house was an incredibly bittersweet experience.  Dustin and I thought we'd live there for years and years, so saying goodbye was a very sad day.  Overall, we are looking forward to more space and a second bathroom (!!), but will always remember our first little house.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Riddle Me This.....

Gardening is a fickle thing.  There will be plants that you baby, water, and obsess over (hydrangeas, I'm talking to you!), and they'll die every year.  And then there are other plants (weeds, tree saplings, etc.) that pop up everywhere without the tiniest bit of consideration for your gardening desires.  We've been experiencing a pretty extreme drought, with many nearby areas actually enforcing watering bans.  I literally have to laugh as I drive along the highway and see the brown, dead grass littered with brand new weeds growing like there's no tomorrow.  How?

The photographic evidence below is another illustration of my gardening frustrations.  I've battled tiny little beetle bugs all summer long.  At first, they threatened to destroy my perilla and sweet potato vine.  Now they are devouring my Scarlett Runner Bean and Ruby Hyacinth vines  (Which I had earlier hailed in this post).  
See Below:

As if this photo isn't maddening enough, I moved my camera lens a few inches down to capture yet this completely unbothered red bud sapling.  This little guy is one of a dozen that maddeningly continue to pop up in my mulched and Preen-ified flower beds:

Why do the bugs leave these saplings completely alone?  How can they even tell the difference?  I mean they are right next to each other.  Yet another one of gardening's little mysteries.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gardening Fails and Gardening Hails

I'm coming to you live from the middle of the Midwest drought.  Seriously, my poor plants are thirsty.  Watering them once a day is starting to become a bit of a chore.  As I was watering my garden, I realized a few things.  I have had some major accomplishments this year in gardening.  But with every proud moment comes the realization that some of your hard work just isn't paying off.  So without further adieu..... I bring to you a new series--- Gardening Fails and Gardening Hails.

Gardening Fail -  This planter......
 This planter looked like this a week ago......
Isn't it such a sad sight?  Stinkin' squirrels will be the death of me at this house!

The next few Gardening Fails have no pictures attached because it's just too sad.  I have managed to kill one of my hydrangea bushes.  Not sure if it's a watering situation or what, but boo nonetheless.  Also, with a few exceptions, I'm having the worst luck with my vines this year.  Last year I had more morning glory than I knew what to do with.  This year, I have the tiniest little vine that refuses to grow. 

Now on to the "glass is half full" segment of this blog.

Gardening Hail -- Successful use of Sevin!

My perilla plants appear to be saved, thanks to a healthy dose of chemicals.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Gardening Hail -- growing annual vines from seed.....

I started this Scarlett Runner Bean Vine way back in March, and I couldn't be happier.  It has grown so fast and provided some much needed and height and greenery against the fence.  When it's blooming, it has the sweetest little red flowers, and near the end of the growing season it will produce edible beans.

And the last Gardening Hail- Eggplant!

I spotted this little guy while I was weeding my raised bed and almost screamed.  Complete pride, like I'm a momma bear or something.  Grow little eggplant, grow.

These last couple pictures have nothing to do with Gardening Fails or Hails, but I just had to include them.  My husband and I babysat (overnight) my niece and nephew and survived!  Sorry to admit to their mother, but we did a lot of this:
......and a lot of this......

Oh well.  At least both kids were fed and clothed---- well, for the most part  ;)  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Raised Bed Progress

I would really like to be one of those bloggers that comes up with catchy titles for her blogs, but alas, I cannot.  So you are stuck with "Raised Bed Progress," which is exactly what this post is about.  In one of my first blogs I talked about the utter failure that my raised bed was last year.  I [hopefully] remedied that this year with some TLC spent on the dirt.

Just as a reminder: Here's what the raised bed looked like after everything was planted.

And here it is 3 weeks later!

The eggplants have blossoms...

And so do the peppers.....

I even have a few green tomatoes on my "Fourth of July" tomatoes.

It's obviously too early to claim victory, but so far I'm thinking the soil and fertilizer tricks are doing their job!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Before and After

I was looking through some old pictures in my iPhoto and came across some pictures of our yard before  I started gardening.  Phew, I've come a long way.   I love the following quote: "Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it."  How true!  I started with a very blank canvas and little experience, but I always dreamed of what my garden could be with a lot a sweat equity.  (and cash....gardening ain't cheap, folks)

Here's a before shot of the area near our house.

Like I said, blank slate.

Here it is during our first summer where I used the sunny spot for our tomatoes and basil:

That's my little niece, Avery.  And those are the cherry tomatoes that literally grew 10 feet high and were a pain in my a**.
The following summer I knew I wanted to move the veggies away from the house to a raised bed in the back, and that I wanted to take advantage of the full sun location of the bed-- one of the only areas of my yard that gets full sun.   The new full sun bed was a success, but because I was studying for the Bar exam, I neglected to take any pictures as documented evidence.  Dang.  You'll just have to trust was an improvement.

And now, here it is this summer:

This bed still has a LOT of filling in to do.  Both trellises will be covered with morning glory and ruby hyacinth vine.  The sweet potato vine (green and purple) will fill in the left side, the salvia in the middle is unfortunately in its in between blooming period and the coleus in the middle will grow large and in charge.  I feel like I'm defending my child or something here.  I promise, people, it will look good!
(the salvia during its better days)

Here is the side bed, which was full of weeds when we moved in.

Don't be fooled by those bush like things in the middle.  They were so ugly, had no flowers, and had to go.
So I cleaned up the entire bed.

And Summer 2012 it looks like this:

The bed on the side of the house:

And the very back of the yard--pre raised bed:

We got rid of the rotted railroad ties and edged with some brick that was left over by the previous owners.  We also added the pavers to make a little pathway.
I have several other areas I'd like to post on here, but haven't gotten any good after pics yet.  So it'll have to wait.  I love seeing these afters.  Makes me thankful for all the hard work I've put into the yard.

And I am excited by the reminder that "A garden is never so good as it will be next year."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Confessions and Progress

I have a confession to make.  After seeing my poor perilla, coleus, and sweet potato vine be demolished by demon bugs, I decided it was time to break out the big guns.

My poor photography skills and lighting don't demonstrate just how torn up these leaves are.  I had vowed that I would stay away from chemicals this summer, but the sight of those bug holes and my leaves in tatters was driving me insane.  I scoured the internet for organic insecticides and actually tried one (it consisted of water, dish soap, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, and oil).  It failed miserably; in fact, I think the bugs actually liked it.  So in the end, I resorted to this:
I know, I've shamed myself.  However, let the record reflect, that I have not used any chemicals on my veggie garden.  Luckily the bugs have stayed away, and I've used epsom salt to hopefully keep the blight away rather than having to resort to fungicide.

Ok. Now on to the good news.  I finally mulched my flower beds.  Before mulching I had quite a bit of work and edging to do.  I learned how to edge from my Dad.  It's not rocket science, but the angle makes all the difference and keeps your mulch in the bed instead of in the grass.  I did my edging the old-fashioned way---shovel and sweat.

And after:
In this bed I'm growing stella de oro, yarrow, salvia, morning glory, and new guinea impatiens.  On the triangle trellis near in the forefront of this picture I'm growing black eyed susan vine.  Hopefully they will fill in throughout the summer.

The aching hamstrings and sore back were proof that I did in fact finish my mulch beds this weekend!  My veggies garden is also doing really well.  I'll post some picture of it later this week.