Monday, May 23, 2016

Some Gardening Thoughts

One of the things I love about hard work outside is that it affords me plenty of time to think, uninterrupted.  Usually about things completely unrelated to the work I'm doing. Yesterday I thought about how it's kind of a strange feeling when you first discover how much you didn't know, that you didn't know, you didn't know.  Right?!  Allow me to explain with some examples...

Great Blue Herons

The first time I ever remember seeing one, was about 17 years ago as we were driving down the highway.  A giant pterodactyl-like creature flew over the van and I screamed "whoa! what was that?!" to everyone in the van, and probably a 2 mile radius. Of course no one in the van knew what in the world it was, so when we got home I used whatever search engine worked at the time (google was still a baby and wasn't really anyone's go-to for search engines back in the day) and looked up "a pterodactyl like bird" and discovered what it was.  There was no such thing as an image search back then either, so I had to do a fair bit of reading before I found it.  The Great Blue Heron instantly became my favorite bird ever!

The funniest thing is, a few years later we all took a road trip to my home state of Washington and on the way to my mom's house we passed a beach that was full of... herons!  Of course I was delighted and told my mom all about them and she just sort of chuckled at me.  She wondered where I'd been living the first 33 years of my life since that bird is native to the area, and pretty much always has been.  To this day I have no idea how it's possible I lived in western Washington, with water and beaches pretty much every where you look, and I never once saw a Great Blue Heron.  But it's true.

Brain Freeze

I've heard my whole life, not to eat ice cream or drink ice cold drinks too fast, or you'll get brain freeze.  Everyone hears that.  It's sort of like you hear not to go outside with wet hair or you'll catch a cold. Well, it's sort of like that but it's actually true. Once, one of my kids claimed to have brain freeze and I knew that because right before she threw herself on the floor holding her head and wailing like a banshee, she screamed "BRAIN FREEZE!!" and then cried for 15 minutes.  I should have earned the Worst Mother of the Year Award in that moment because a.) I didn't really believe it was that big of a deal and b.) I just told her something along the lines of "get up and stop acting like a fool". The thing is, I'd never experienced brain freeze myself, so I had no idea. Yet.

Last summer while on yet another road trip (I'm sensing a theme here) we stopped for lunch at this amazing little place in Wall, South Dakota.  It was about 100 degrees that day so everyone ordered an ice cold drink with their lunch.  I opted for a strawberry daiquiri. Now before I continue I have to say it was the most fantastic daiquiri I've ever had in my life.  And, they served it (more or less) in a mixing bowl.  It was HUGE, and I really wanted to finish it since I paid for it.  Well... this is where things went sideways. I mean, really sideways.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DIY Back Yard Project Day 10

Well, my baby grass got it's first mow today :)   I was going to wait another week but the way it's growing so fast now it needed it immediately.  I could not be happier with the way it's coming in. There were some real obvious patchy spots just a few days ago but the seed is filling in so nicely I'm not even sure I'll still need to do patch work.

All that's really left to do now, is continue to water daily and get some of that awesome red cedar mulch and top up the sections around the fence.  Here are some before and after shots.  All the before shots are what it looked like in the first week after the fence guys were done, and what it looks like today.

If you click to enlarge, you can see how muddy it all still was the day this before shot was taken.

The before shot in this comparison was literally the way it looked the day the fence guys left, just five weeks ago.  The after shot is today taken from the same corner of the house. 

Before: 3 weeks ago (I'd already seeded a week prior to this)
After: how it looks today.  The PVC lattice hanging on the fence when the sand box is in use, serves a double purpose. 1. It's a handy place to put it and 2. It actually brings a little life to that drab, old, faded fence wood.  We are seriously considering having the same company back next spring to replace this back fence to match the side fences

So, this concludes the DIY Back Yard Project for 2016. It was a LOT of hard work, and worth every trip to the massage therapist! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 9

Well, things are coming along pretty well!  Better than I expected, really. Here's how it looks since my last update:

Even though I've been calling the posts by "daily" updates (and they were at first) they're more general now because the daily hard work is actually done. Yay!  Here's what I've done in the last few days since the last update:

- Filled in all the sand I needed from the picnic table all the way to the fence under the lawn swing.
- Hung all the nylon solar lanterns around the chairs where they go
- Borrowed son-in-law's saw and cut the obnoxious branch over the fence at the back of the sand box and hung the lattice board on the fence (and it's been working like a charm for keeping the cats & dogs out of the sand box while it's not in use!)
- bought a new umbrella stand and popped the umbrella in the picnic table (and not a moment too soon, as I had to clean off birdy doo-doo from the freshly painted table before I put the umbrella up

Then I filled the hummingbird and oriole feeder and hung both of those.  It's a little early for those birds yet but the key is to have the feeders out before the birds migrate back into the area so that they see the bright colors and know your yard is a bird-friendly place!

Even though this has been a huge DIY for me, I have to give a monumental shout-out to two local companies that have helped make our back yard look the way we wanted it.

Flawless Fence and Deck for our super awesome new fence and Woodstock Tree and Stump Removal for their fast, friendly service, and awesome prices when it comes to removing unwanted trees, stumps and tree branches. Both companies impressed me with their professionalism, hard work, and dedication.  I'm old school, so these things matter to me.  I can't recommend these guys enough.  If you're local and you need stuff done, give Rob a call at Flawless, and Mike a call at Woodstock Tree Service.  We're looking forward to calling Rob and his crew back next summer to rip out our nasty old deck and replace it with Awesome Deck. :)

What's left now is more watering each day, adding some fertilizer in the next few days and then the first mow in about a week. There are a few patchy spots where it doesn't look like the seed germinated at all, so in a week or so I'll do some patch treatment with more seed & more topsoil. I considered doing an edging between the sand and the grass (similar to the sand box) but decided I wanted a more natural look, so I won't be doing a border.

And then... I'll be ready to tackle the front yard.  Not nearly as much work to be done out there though. Thankfully. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What Are YOU Celebrating?

Normally I would post something like this over here at my store blog.  But I wanted to share this here simply because it's just a little more personal.

As we go through life, most of us tend to measure the passage of time with memorable events. Engagements, marriages, new babies, graduations, retirements, and various milestone birthdays from sweet 16 to 21, 40, 50, etc.  And then, there are those phenomenal wedding anniversaries: 25th, 40th, 50th.   For most people, these are HUGE events worthy of celebration with friends, family, co-workers and those who mean the most to them.

When I first began designing full time for such things, I was rather humbled and honored to be the chosen designer for the event invitations (and matching party favor stickers, postage, favor bags, etc.) for these events. That hasn't changed one bit.  When someone orders 300 of my custom designed wedding invitations, or 100 graduation party invitations, I actually get excited!  Obviously I'm not going to be there to enjoy their celebration but in a way, I get to be part of the celebration through my design. This is a tremendous event for this family and they've chose my design to be a part of it.  That's huge!  That's bigger than huge, that's incredibly wonderful huge.

Words can't really do it justice for how thankful I am, so I've created a gallery of what people are ordering to celebrate their own family milestones. You can view the gallery here.

This is my way of saying THANK YOU for choosing my design, to be part of your incredible milestone.  I cannot begin to come up with the words to express how honored I truly am, that you've chosen one of my designs for your special event.