Around the House

I was in a picture taking mood.

It’s nice to see the bones of the backyard now that most of the plants and weeds are gone. We are letting the chickens free-range the entire backyard, which is working out well.

A better shot of the dead hedge. I love this little project still.

Front door, all decked up for Christmas. We really need to redo the concrete stain. It didn’t bug me that much until we redid the door.

This herb spiral is looking pretty good for December.

This is in the kitchen. We painted it this weekend. It was yellow. I didn’t mind the yellow until I painted over it, and then I realized the yellow really didn’t work. I like this green instead.


Dead Hedge

We had a bunch of extra branches. So many…


(Horrible picture. I couldn’t find a good picture and didn’t think to take one, so this is a screen shot from a video.)

The pile is gone. Or rather moved. We made a dead hedge out of them.


It has the following function:

  • Screen from neighbor
  • Future source of firewood
  • Place to put yard clippings
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Used up old branches

It was a fun build and went faster than anticipated. We simply used eight t-posts as a border, and filled it with sticks.


I like how it looks better than, say a white vinyl fence. But it is a bit wild. It does do what we wanted and screen the neighbor’s yard, and it only cost $50 for the t-posts.

Front Door

We knew we needed a new front door since we moved in the house. It was a hollow door. Then the doorknob broke and it wouldn’t reliably open and close all the time. I had to kick the door in once to get inside.


We had a red door with a storm door. I never loved it. And you can tell in the picture below that the landing was horrible.


Inside the front door was insignificant. Just a white door. Nothing special.


It took Joe one Saturday, and another day to finish the molding and paint. And now it is very green.



Updates to the Garden

We finished the inside of the house. After getting done with the remodel, I tidied up everywhere. And now we’ve turned our sights outside to the garden. My goal right now is to get all the hardscape, edges, and mulch or groundcover in. Plants will come next.

We have a lot of projects out there that have been ignored. This path needed a couple of hours to get installed. It has been like that for about two years. Now it is a path, not random stones.


Here’s another project that didn’t take that long. We had grass here when we moved in. It hadn’t been watered for two years. It looked pretty bad. Now it is a beautiful clean slate, I want to fill it up with plants soon.

in progress

The tramp just off this picture was leveled out. I attempted to seed more clover back here this spring, but it failed. The weeds outcompeted it. I’ve done it before successfully, and I will try again next year, this time with a little more work beforehand to get rid of the weeds. And I really want to get rid of that huge pile of sticks!


Harvest Advice


Here’s a glory shot of one late afternoon’s work. If you notice, I prefer to freeze things and not can. It seems to be much easier and I’m also not worried as much about food poisoning. Shredded zucchini, salsa, tomatoes, refrigerator pickles, and peach jam. Oh, and if you want to make jam, this product makes it super easy.


When I was in college, I did some research on strawberry varieties. I was pretty well informed when I went to buy some. I have two patches of strawberries. One patch I don’t even check, it doesn’t produce. I’m not sure on the variety, I got them from a friend. This is just one day’s pick from the other patch, and my variety that beats all others is Evie 2. It might be harder to find and more expensive but double or more production is worth it!

Cut Back After Flowering

I had yarrow growing in the front, and it started to get a bit overgrown and scraggly. So I employed one very good tip for perennials: Cut back after flowering. Not all perennials need this but it makes a huge difference for the ones that do. (If you want to know what perennials need what, read The Well-Tended Perennial Garden.)

It’s a simple matter of hacking back the perennial to withing a few inches of the ground. It feels a bit like you are trying to kill the plant. But don’t worry. Within a few weeks, the plant regrows. Instead of a scraggly eyesore, you will have a nicely tended perennial. In addition, it helps prevent the plant from reseeding, if that’s a problem.

flowering.jpg In this picture, the yarrow in the foreground was cut back two weeks ago. The one behind that was cut back minutes before the picture was taken.

Now I also have my lettuce, which I purposely did not cut back, even though it is a common practice to rip it out after it starts bolting. Lettuce will usually re-seed if it is allowed to mature. I quite enjoy free lettuce. lettuce.jpg


New House Stuff

treasure chest.jpg

This chest was a thrift store find. The boys call it a treasure chest. Joe called it a mini-tardis (we’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who). I’m loving all the storage inside. It’s been a great place to store the blanket, pillows and stuffed animals that tend to get scattered in the living room.


The middle school replaced their desks and were giving away the old ones for free. I stopped by and found a couple of the oldest desks there. It’s actually been a great place for me to sit and work in the living room.

Now, we also went to the appliance store for some extra cardboard to use in the landscaping. We ended up buying a fridge and microwave. The microwave was on purpose, ours had been having issues. The fridge, not so much. It was my favorite fridge I’ve seen, and instead of being $1300, it was $700. I couldn’t pass up the good deal.



I planted a patch of strawberries a few years ago. The ground was mostly bare when I planted them. But the next year, I had not only strawberries, but a bunch of bindweed as well.

Bindweed is one of the most hated weeds around for good reason. It is a noxious perennial, with deep roots and a long seed source. It is nearly impossible to eradicate and climbs up and around the plants until it takes over.

I despaired over the strawberry/bindweed combo. I had two perennial vines competing with each other, and one was more adapted to the situation than the other. But not the one I wanted. It seemed like a losing situation.

The work started. I mulched, fertilized and irrigated the strawberries, encouraging their growth. Once a week, never more and never less, I went through and pulled up all the bindweed. It was always there, aggressively growing. I didn’t always get all of it, but I kept trying and pulling.

It’s been three years. My maintenance in that time frame hasn’t changed: once a week weeding, and keeping up with the mulching and irrigation of the strawberries. This is what it looks like:


I’m not pulling that much bindweed anymore. It was a hopeless situation. But I set maintenance plan and I worked consistently at the problem. It succeeded beyond my hopes.

If I would have at any point skipped weeding for more than a week or so, the bindweed would have overtaken my strawberries and I probably would have given up. It took years of effort to get rid of it. If I would have tried to work really hard at one point, pulled out as much bindweed as I could at one go: mulched it, sprayed it, etc; and then just left it, the bindweed would have come back and overtaken my strawberries.

It is still there: I haven’t eradicated the bindweed. But I put into action the habits that would limit it to an acceptable level, and would let my strawberries thrive instead.

I think there are a lot of parallels to life, if you want to find them. Or if nothing else, here’s some hope about bindweed: it is a horrible noxious weed, but it is not impossible to overcome it.



We have lots of veggies right now. It is fun to have dinners filled with vegetables from my garden again. I haven’t bought any from the store for a few weeks now. Lately, I’ve harvested potatoes, squash, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, swiss chard, beans, and a single melon.



We completely derailed all our plans on Saturday to clean out the garage. We found all the cabinets at a yard sale that day for a bargain price, and immediately put them to use in our funky garage. I don’t think you can have too much storage in someplace like this!

It was very, very dirty though. The garage has had some flooding issues, which meant that there were buckets of dirt and debris in there. So dirty…but now it’s not!