Friday, August 26, 2011

Gardening on the Cheap

Hmm... five months since my last post. I guess to tell you it's been a busy and stressful spring and summer would perhaps be unnecessary? :-) I do want to share some quick photos of this year's garden though.

We didn't have much available cash, but needed to section off part of the yard to prevent dogs from peeing on our plants. Our fence needed to be cheap and non-permanent, since the site of the garden this year will likely not be repeated (hopefully soon this spot is where my new studio will be built). I was dubious at first when Matt proposed a fence built of pallets, but as usual, he pulled it off.

Not the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but functional, and totally free. :-)

Zucchini in the front, tomato in the back

I didn't even think I could grow full-sized tomatoes in Humboldt without a greenhouse, but assuming these things actually ripen, we're going to have a ton of them - the plant is almost as tall as me, and it's tipped over it's tomato cage so many times, I gave up and just propped it up with garbage cans. Classy, right?

Cukes and more cukes



Yellow squash


Last night I made vegan zucchini alfredo with zucchini and basil fresh from the garden, zucchini bread (more of our own zucchini), and apple crisp with apples from one of our trees. It was all yummy but I think I enjoyed looking at these even more than eating the food -

There's something so great about flowers straight from our own garden. Once we get more settled and our landscaping is more established, I can't wait to put in a bigger garden with berries and lots more flowers!

One problem we discovered is that our soil is apparently low in calcium. We had some problems with some of our zucchini rotting on the plant, and all of our fruit seems to be growing and ripening quite a bit more slowly than we expected. We have applied a calcium-rich fertilizer a few times and I think it's helped somewhat, but once we figure out where the permanent garden location will be, I guess we are supposed to mix some lime into the soil?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tile, Part Two

First, here's a photo of the finished (grouted) living room tile. I love it so much! The living room feels like a normal room in a normal house now instead of like the corner of someone's garage with a few pieces of furniture thrown in (we've been living with bare cement floor since moving in last August - that nasty carpet had to go ASAP!) Now if only we could get those old windows replaced (the ones you can see on the left edge of the photo below)... it's always something, isn't it?

And finally, after hours and hours of hours of grueling work (mostly Matt's), this beautiful hearth has become a reality! We still need to get the stove pipe routed up through the ceiling but you can get the general idea -

That icky wall heater on the left will go away eventually; we haven't decided yet if we should keep it until we get a forced air system installed (which could be a few years down the road still) 0r rip it out to make the room prettier and live with wood heat only for the time being. I'm leaning towards ripping it out (it's just SO darn ugly!) but we'll see.

Monday, March 21, 2011


We have been working hard on so many projects here at the house these past few months (Matt more so than me), but nothing glamorous - french drains, tree removal, and the like - hence the lack of posts. Finally some exciting projects are coming together though, and while not 100% complete, I thought it would still be fun to share.

Matt has been toiling away with tile in the living room. We had originally planned to do wood floors in most of the living area of the house, but after researching sustainable wood options, we realized that we could save a lot of money by going with tile instead - partly because the per-square-foot cost was a lot less, but also because we can do the installation ourselves, which obviously saves a lot. Plus, tile should be a little more durable and scratch-resistant, which is important when you live with big dogs and active kids. And finally, we have been finding ourselves drawn more and more towards some Spanish influences in our decor, so the terra cotta tile fit right in.

Those little slivers of colorful Mexican tile you can see in the photos above are part of an amazing (if I do say so myself) wood stove hearth we've been working on (again, Matt more than me), but that deserves it's own post - soon.

I could write a book about our quest to find the perfect field tile for this project (it's not just for the living room and hearth; eventually it will also be installed in the kitchen, dining room, entryway, and hall), but the pared-down version of the story is this - it is damned hard to find a tile that looks like a saltillo (natural/terra cotta look), but has the durability of porcelain, isn't made in China by child slaves, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. We spent months researching tile and scouring local stores and the internet for something that would meet our requirements, and finally, after much angst and frustration, found these tiles. They are called Super Saltillos and are made by Marazzi Tile. They are made in Texas and only cost around $2/square foot (plus shipping). Whew.

In case you need a reminder of what this room looked like less than a year ago, behold the hideousness -

(Much improved already, no?)

There's still a lot more in store for the living room - new windows, trim/baseboard, skylights, and improved lighting - but for now we're going to take a break from spending money on the house and direct all available resources to Matt's new shop, which is finally underway!