I’ve been working on a few projects in the yard. First up, a status check on that front flower bed:
Last year’s drought was tough on this bed so the plants that made it are real survivors. We lost all the dwarf rhododendron early on and both the azaleas and one hydrangea were lost by late summer. We still have the hydrangea on the left and it’s getting a solid leaf base early on. The pink and white rhododendron in the back–are both purple but very alive so we’ll take them. We added six geraniums last year that stayed green all winter and we’ve got a clematis climbing the trellis in the middle. There are some plants to replace but it’s looking alive again.
My corner flower bed has a project going on that’s about 90% complete. I’ll share it soon but here’s a hint:
Last week I saw flurries again. Can you believe it? Last year I was trying not to turn on the AC and this year it is snowing a month past spring. In the same week I saw 90 degree temperatures and two trips to the basement for tornado sirens. And it’s flooding. Welcome to Missouri.
I’ve got another project about 40% complete. One day I came home from work to catch my husband digging in the yard. He’d gotten off work early and decided to start another flower bed. Forget a nap or a beer, he likes working after work. We’ve planted a shipment of hostas, a new jack frost brunnera and my lovely coworker just gave me some elephant ears that are likely to end up in here too. We’ve filled the car up with mulch twice but we’ve only gotten so far. Compared to a photo two summers ago, I think the yard is finally making some progress.
I decided not to finish any of these projects today. Sure I could have but I’ve been running around working like crazy, gardening, cooking meals for the week, and planning my high school reunion. Then I saw this face and realized you have to make time for the important things in life, like playing with a pitbull and her ball.
How could I resist a face like that?
It’s been a busy fall at my house. I’ve been finishing the final weeks on my work’s big project and soon I’ll be moving on to a new office and new responsibilities. My husband and I took a big trip to Europe. I finally finished the Couch to 5K program and I have 2 races lined up.
That hasn’t stopped me from having some fun either. I went with some friends and family to my old high school’s Homecoming football game. My littlest brother still goes to school there and it was a big anniversary for me as well. I was most excited to see the marching band. I’m a former member and my little brother (that’s him on the 45 yard line playing the sax) has won several championships at competitions this year. I’m a proud big sister. As a bonus, the football team pulled out a win as well.
I’ve been dressing the house up for fall too. Some pumpkins and some coleus plants add a nice seasonal look with purples and oranges. I have a yellow wreath I use each year. This year I paired it with an owl hanging I found at Michaels. I love the bottlecap eyes…and the fact that it was on clearance.
Here’s a glance at the garden as of 2 weeks ago. Since then we had a tornado warning that knocked down leaves and now a frost warning that froze everything up. The garden barely survived the horrible summer. Remember how gorgeous it looked back in May? I had a hydrangea die, one just barely survived. All the dwarf rhododendron died before the end of June. We planned to replace them with more boxwoods but after a boxelder bug invasion I’m not so sure now. The regular rhododendron made it till July but then they died too. The azalea survived. My husband had bought some geraniums and added them and they thrived as did our coleus plants. We’ll definitely be trying to makeover this garden again next year. I’d like to imagine this year was just a freaky year of drought but I need a low-maintenance plan that can survive drought, massive rains, hail, winds, and me.
For my October table, I wanted to use complementary colors. I know a blue and orange table isn’t traditional for October but I loved how rustic it felt. I was able to shop my house for this project, using my blue willow china and blue cobalt glasses. The matching cobalt wine bottles are from some riesling I drank and the pumpkin votive holders are from Pier1. They match last month’s design. The flowers in the basket were actually a gift holder my husband gave me years back that comes in handy every year.
The only new item I bought for the table were the mini pumpkins. I wanted to buy some napkins but I had the hardest time finding some matching blue napkins. Has anyone seen some deep blue napkins that might match my blue willow or blue cobalt? I’d love to find some before the next time I use them all on the table again.
How was your month of October?Pin It
I had wanted to build a birdhouse for quite a while. And by “build a birdhouse” I really meant decorate one so when Michaels had a sale on their plain wood birdhouses, I picked one up and got started on the decorating part.
My goal was to make the birdhouse coordinate both with my house, which is red, white and blue, and my garden, which has a lot of copper pieces in it. First up was spray painting the house white. I wanted just a light coat to let the wood grain shine through so I used a spray primer. Next was my plan to tie in those copper influences. I found some kitchen backplash tiles at Lowes.
I bought a whole sheet and used only 2 panels so I have plenty leftover for another project up my sleeve. You see those extra inches on the left without any detailing on them? I used them to make a nice front for the birdhouse’s roof while I used the actual panels to cover the roof. I just used some scissors to cut and hot glue to adhere it all to the birdhouse.
I decided to paint some red accents on with some basic acrylic paint. I just painted the perch and the base. Now the next most important part was to drill a hole in the top of the birdhouse so I could hang it outdoors. I just drilled a hole directly across the top with a small bit. To help it stay more decorative, I added some grommets to cover the holes but I needed a larger bit to make sure it fit. I just hot glued them in place when I got the hole the right size.
Now I wanted to protect all my hard work so I sprayed on a clear lacquer before putting it outside. I let it dry 24 hours because of the high humidity here. I didn’t want any haze in my topcoat. Here’s the final look.
Don’t you just love how well it matches my new windchime? I also included a secret pop of red right at the entrance. While I don’t really expect many birds to make this their home, I do think I’ll drill some small holes in the bottom just in case so rain can drain out.
How have your projects been going?Pin It
I recently bought some resin Adirondack chairs (in blue) for my front porch. My house is white and my front door is red so I wanted to tie the color palette together with some Americana influences. I decided that pillows would be the easiest way to do this. My shopping trip left me disappointed. I could only find really expensive pillows or those with an old fashioned feel so I decided I’d just have to make my own pillow covers. I bought some waterproof outdoor pillows from Michaels with a coupon but when I went to the fabric store I found myself in the same conundrum– everything was too old-fashioned or too expensive.
The solution: a Target shower curtain. The modern rugby stripes matched my color scheme, the size of the fabric meant I’d have fabric leftover for future projects, and the shower curtain would add some waterproofing making the pillows more durable. I also came up with a pillowcase design that resembles a sham. That way you get a seamless look from the front but you can just pop the cover off and throw it in the wash.
This design can be made in under an hour. The main skills you need are measuring skills and the ability to sew in a straight line. You’ll sew 4 straight lines per pillow. You’ll need a flat surface, yardstick or ruler, a cutting device (rotary or scissors), washable fabric marker, an iron or pins (check under “making the hems” to see which you need), matching thread, and a fully stocked sewing machine.
Cutting the Fabric
First up, you’ll need to make the cut. Well, cuts. I have 2-16 inch square pillows so I used a simple bit of math to calculate the size of fabric I needed to cut out.
pillow height + 1 inch = fabric height
pillow width + pillow width + 8 inches = fabric width
If you want to cheat and avoid some grade school math, just get 16 inch pillows like I did. My fabric height was 17 inches (16+1=height) and my fabric length was 40 inches (16+16+8=40). I marked the first 17×40 inch section on the fabric and cut it with a rotary cutter, though scissors will work just fine.
Since I was using striped fabric and I wanted the pillows to match, I cut off some excess fabric before cutting out my second pillowcase section so the stripes would start at the same position for both fabrics.
Making the Hems
You’ll want a finished edge on these pillows so step #2 is to hem some edges. If you use a normal fabric you can use your iron to hold your seams but since my polyester wasn’t holding an ironed hem, I used pins to hold the edge.
Place your fabric right-side down. You’ll first want to fold over both of your short edges 1 inch and iron or pin it in place, then fold that same edge over 1 more inch and iron or pin this edge securely. You’ll want to sew each of these hems in place by topstitching through all three layers of fabric. I sewed about 3/4 of an inch from the right (folded) edge. Make sure to repeat this step for all the short edges on your pillows.
Creating the Pillow
Place your fabric right-side up. You should have something resembling a placemat in front of you right about now. You’ll want to measure out the halfway point on the long side of your fabric. I started with a 40-inch length of fabric and used up 4 inches making the seams (2 inches per side) so my fabric should be at 36 inches long now. I’ll want to make my center mark at 18 inches.
This next part is a little counter-intuitive so make sure to read it twice before attempting. My pillow is 16 inches in length so half of that is 8 inches. Place a ruler next to the edge with the 8 inch mark (or half the pillow length) of the ruler at the center mark on the fabric. Make sure your ruler is facing with 0 on the right end of the ruler for this part. Watch the images for clarification.
You’ll want to take the left (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 16 inch mark (or your pillow’s length) on your ruler.
Now take the right (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 0 inch mark on your ruler. Your fabric will overlap near the center.
Now you’ll need to pin the bottom raw edges together. Repeat with the top raw edges.
Sew a half inch seam along the bottom edge. Then sew a half inch seam along the top edge. Repeat with your second pillow.
Turn your pillow case inside out, pushing out the corners firmly.
Now you can just slide the pillows into the pillowcases and you are set! The hardest part of this project is just the measuring. With 4 straight lines even a beginner can sew these pillows. See how they add that pop of color my front porch needed.Pin It
My front flower bed wasn’t the only eyesore in my front yard. I have a second flower bed that sits on the front corner of my house that is just as bad or worse. My husband and I had pulled out all the eyesore plants but the remaining dirt and weeds became an eyesore themselves.
You can see that we’re testing out pavers for yet another retaining wall and we have one bush we plan to save. We’ll also be making a second rain barrel base for our other rain barrel. We also would love to see a pathway to walk on, one that would connect our front door to our side door. We’re not sure if we’re thinking concrete or stepping stones or some other material but we know a path of some kind is in order.
Our plans include designing an inner and an outer corner flower bed. You can see where our tentative dividing retaining wall would fall between the two but that bush would be in the outer ring. Then we’d build a sidewalk that would curve around the house to the side yard. We’ll dead end it where we hope to build a patio in phase 2 of this project. Phase 2 will be at some point in the future, probably next summer. Then we’ll expand the shade garden to follow the curve of our new path.
You can see it all on my super-awesome guide. The blue area is the front flower bed we just finished. The orange will be the new corner flower beds, the brown will be our path, and the yellow is phase 2 of the project.
I’m still working on the timeline for this project and it’ll probably take a bit of a backseat until we get the closet done. It’s been bumped up the list though so we’ll be working on this before our fireplace. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the garden but for the most recent updates, make sure to follow my facebook page. I usually include progress pictures along the way over there.
This week has been a crazy one. I started a new job last week and it’s been keeping me on my toes. Luckily it’s close to home and I get an hour for lunch so I can come home, play with the dog, eat some food, and prep dinner. The husband has really stepped up his game and has cooked roasted salmon and learned to make croutons but he’d much rather me mention his mad Kraft Mac & Cheese skills.
So while I’m adjusting I’m still trying to find time to do all those other tasks. This isn’t me complaining, I’m just adjusting and wishing Mother’s Day had been on a day I don’t use for blog writing. Complaining would be telling all you people to work on your penmanship because there are some people out there with awful handwriting and my super-secret-please-don’t-fire-me position requires me to read bad handwriting for hours upon hours but at least they pay me. It’s nice to have place to work and I have some great co-workers but there’s still nothing like home.
After work my favorite thing to do is to do “the rounds” with the husband and dog. The husband laments that his plants haven’t grown much since the last evening and the dog thinks every time we move our legs that we will kick her ball for her. Sometimes we do and then she looks like this after she’s all worn out. Then 5 minutes later she wants to go again.
That hydrangea at the top of the post–it’s decided to be pink this year. Last year it was blue, the one next to it is blue but this year it wants to be a special snowflake so pink it is. Just 2 weeks ago it had a blue tint so now it’s in a lavender transition plan. When you comment on your plants daily you start to notice lots of little color variations that normal people don’t notice.
We also have these rocking coleus plants. We planted them in our new planters but really every planter in the yard has at least 2 just thrown in. We bought way too many because we love coleus plants. This year we found some great varieties. Since they grow fantastically in the shade, they’re one of the few ways we get color into the shade garden.
The husband likes the “watermelon” ones best (green and pink) but I seem to favor the reddish ones just for the unusual color. Coleus plants pair really well with flowers like impatiens or even ivy but we’ve gone flowerless this year to go a touch more low-maintenance. I’ll show you later in the summer how huge these plants can get. Which variety is your favorite?
Remember when my front flower bed looked like this? Overgrown and full of leaves was not this bed’s finest hour.
After some hard work we built a retaining wall but the area didn’t look quite like I’d envisioned. Then we had to build a base for our old rain barrel. After a lot of planting and a lot of mulch, here it is today.
We ended up making a few changes from our original plans, like removing one azalea from the top section and instead adding in some coleus plants and geraniums. You can see some work still needs to be done on the left staircase but that’s another plan for another day. We still have a planter to build to cover up that phone box in the middle section but this is definitely progress.
The hydrangeas we ended up finding are called Invincibelle Spirit and they’re just getting ready to bloom. They’ll be a deep pink color and will add some color now that the other flowers are switching to their summer greens.
So what’s up next for the yard? We have a second flower bed to create that will connect our front door to our side door. This project was only a test for that bigger project. Since this one took a month working only weekends and evenings in between rain and crazy record highs, I’m betting the second project will take longer. I’ll show you our plans and timeline in the coming weeks along with the mess we’re up against.Pin It
Part of my front flower bed makeover called for finding a home for my rain barrel. I have 65-gallon rain barrels that I bought from Amazon. The price has since increased but most hardware stores seem to be carrying rain barrels these days. We use rain barrels for 2 reasons, one to prevent water from collecting around the foundation of our house and the other is to water the plants.
From our experience, we discovered that a rain barrel needs to be about a foot off the ground. The barrel uses a gravity based hose system and there’s a bottom spigot that needs to be raised to fit a watering can underneath. We wanted to build a base with pavers that was big enough to support the rain barrel without tipping over when it was full. We needed a bottom base that would hold the watering can without it falling over either.
After we found a setup we liked, we mixed up some concrete and filled in the rain barrel base with it. That base will not be going anywhere. Then we adhered the bricks for the watering can base to the ground with more concrete. Then there was some mortar used to attach a flat surface to the rain barrel base. Finally we used some extra concrete to fill in the watering can base like a grout.
After doing a test run to make sure everything fit, we let the blocks and concrete harden for 48 hours. We put the rain barrel onto its new home and decided to let the rain collect. We had several days of rain after that and the base held up beautifully, with our angled watering can base preventing rain from pooling up around the foundation, just as we’d hoped. Stick around this week and I’ll show you the full front flower bed makeover.Pin It
I used a wreath in last month’s centerpiece design and this month I adapted it to be my front door wreath. To do this project you’ll need the supplies I used last month (wreath base, yarn), some spray primer, and some 50 cent wood butterfly cutouts. I found those at Michaels in the woodworking aisles.
I just spray painted the wood pieces with some primer, hot glued them to my yarn wreath and plopped it on my door. For less than $2 I’d repurposed a simple piece. If you ever outgrow a decoration, think of a way to make it work. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses but I’m loving the spring look on my front door right now.
I’d just washed my door so pardon its streaky look. All the hail from the weekend knocked a bunch of dirt and mulch in every direction. We all survived and even our car survived being outside so I think streaks are the least of our worries. The only casualties were a giant branch (that I cut down myself) and our doormat who will be replaced as part of my big exciting summer porch prettying project.
Step 1 of that project was making some urns over. The urns were cheap and kind of meh looking on the shelves of Walmart but with some primer (see my Instagramed up photo- I’m thehyperhouse on Instagram by the way)
and then I added some textured Krylon spray paint to add some fun (posed in front of the farmland behind the house)
and finally filled with some coleus plants for some drama.
If the weather cooperates I should have some nice progress photos of the front flower bed coming up soon. We finished up the rain barrel base tonight but it needs to cure at least two days before holding the 65 gallons of water in the barrel but all of the plants are in the ground and mulched so I hope to show you a good progress photo next week some time.Pin It
If you remember, my husband and I built ourselves a retaining wall. I’m happy to tell you that it’s been up a week and it hasn’t fallen down so clearly we did something right. This weekend my husband and I used our weekend trip into town to scout out plants for the front bed. In that trip alone I bought about 90% of the plants for my garden. Unfortunately, I’ve been under a tornado watch for most of the day Sunday and it’s been raining so the actual planting has been delayed until a time I won’t die when planting.
The spot used to be full shade but since cutting down some trees we get around 4-6 hours of sun. This is one of the sunniest spots in our yard, believe it or not. Since we have so few plants that flower I really wanted to get some color into this spot. Here’s the plan we came up with. Don’t laugh at my amazing art skills.
The gray areas are the sidewalks and porches. My house has two front doors so there’s a lot of concrete in one spot. In front of the retaining wall are a mix of boxwoods and purple dwarf rhododendrons. Both can grow quite tall but we’ll be maintaining them heavily until some of the back section plants grow taller. We’ll also probably throw a planter in front of the porch on the right but that’ll be another post. Here’s a better shot of the exterior. This is pre-tree removal and a few other projects.
The back section will be the brightest. There will be two rows of plants. In the back and on the right will be our rain barrel. It collects from our gutters and it’ll be the watering source for this whole area. To the left we want to balance out the height so I’m thinking a planter with some grass or bamboo depending on what we can find for partial shade. In the center we plan to buy or build a planter with a trellis so a climbing vine (clematis?) can be the centerpiece. It’ll fit right between our two front windows. To round out the back row we’ll plant two larger rhododendrons, one white and one pink. The front row of the back section will have a hydrangea on either end and three red azaleas in the middle.
We made sure our plans included enough space for for all the plants to grow. Always make sure to check the mature height and width for all your plants before putting them in the ground. Then before planting you should put all the pots where you’re planning to place them to make sure you like the arrangement. We had originally planned to alternate boxwood/dwarf rhododendron but testing it out made us realize we liked it better with some of the plants doubled up.
The 10-day forecast shows sun for most of the days so hopefully I’ll have some photos of plants in the ground soon enough.