Tag Archives: Gardening

The Dream House Part 1

I have been getting some pretty bad “city claustrophobia” lately, so I figured the best way to treat it is to write down my list of must-haves for my dream house. This will be Part 1 – Still working in Houston. I have a lot of different style dream houses, depending on where I’m living. In the southeast Texas region, a farm house. In the Hill Country, a native rock house. In the desert, adobe. And then of course there is always the true “dream Beach House or Lake House”. But that’s a completely different story…

At the moment since I still need a job the idea is to have a dream house and a job at the same time (I know, boring, but it needs to be realistic, right?). This means I’m not dreaming of this house being on an island or out in the middle of the desert. The city still has to be within an hour’s drive.

Land:

First of all, land is a priority. I’m not talking 200 acres, but AT LEAST 2 acres. Preferably 5-10 but I’m keeping the price range in mind. I want to be able to raise chickens and have a huge vegetable garden, and a large enough yard that the dogs can still run and play but be separated from said chickens and garden. And of course, there will be a pony.

And his name will be Lil' Sebastain
And his name will be Lil’ Sebastain

Access:

There cannot be a through-way in front of my house. Going past my house will not be a shortcut to get ANYWHERE. I do not want to have my dream house turn into the house in Up, where the city builds around me and I’m too stubborn to sell or move, so it’s just me surrounded by high rises and shopping centers.

In combination of land and access, I don’t want to house to even be visible from the road, for two reasons: security (If the bad guys can’t see a house, they won’t know that there’s one to break into, right?) and if you can’t see the house from the road, you can’t very well see the road from the house then, can you?

Storage:

I don’t care about attic space (we hardly use our attic anyway), but there will be a barn. A big barn. That way we can have all the storage we need for animal feed (dogs and chickens eat a lot), gardening supplies and tools (big gardens require bigger tools), the boat (keeping that, of course!), and a work/hobby shop. I want enough space to store my 90% completed projects and supplies to start other projects whenever I get around to it, without all that stuff being “in the way”.

Hobby Shop/Barn
Hobby Shop/Barn

Finally, The Farm House:

Farm House
Farm House

Huge porches: We do a lot of cook outs with friends and family, so we need a lot of space to entertain, but only outside. Screw indoor dining. That’s what the recliner is for.

Single story: I’m not cleaning stairs. I’m not walking up and down stairs. I’m not tumbling down stairs in the middle of the night to let the dog out to pee. Not. Happening. (The photo above is a single story-the windows above “open” to the attic.)

Smaller than we have now: We have a 2,200 square foot house right now, and use about 50-60% of the space. And that’s when we have someone spending the night in the guest room. Areas like formal dining AND a breakfast area? Not necessary.

The current setup.
The current setup. Basically, we only use the left and central portions of the house.

Interior Details: I want an actual pantry, instead of a big cabinet like we have now. It’s deep and dark, so you can’t really see what you have. The top and bottom shelves only have things in the front portion because if I utilized the whole shelf I would never see that stuff again. There could be a toddler back there and I wouldn’t be able to see it.

An actual laundry room. We have a laundry “closet”. It’s got those terrible folding doors to close the washer and dryer off from the rest of the room, but our washer and dryer are actually too big for the area, so the doors don’t close correctly. We actually had to take them off and re-hang them differently when we moved in so we could close the doors at all. And they are only held closed by magnets we had to glue onto the tops of the doors. (I know, champagne problem – Oh No! My washer and dryer are TOO BIG to fit in the designated area! It’s still annoying and my next house won’t have that problem.

Mud/Laundry Room
Mud/Laundry Room

A mud room. Somewhere we can drop our stuff when we get home from work and not clutter up the rest of the house. Somewhere I can make the dogs wait to be toweled off, before they run through the house spraying mud and dirt on every surface. And somewhere that has a half-bath so that you don’t have to go traipsing through the entire house to go to the restroom while you are in the middle of doing yard work, but you stepped on a doggy land mine, so now you somehow have to manage to take off your shoes before you pee yourself….you see? This is an easily avoidable problem. The laundry room can even BE the mud room. I’m not picky!

A big kitchen. The kitchen we have now is pretty great, but it’s still a little cramped when more than one person is in there at a time. And since everyone knows that the kitchen is a social place, it needs to have a lot of space. But at the same time, I don’t like the idea of an “open concept” kitchen-living room area. The kitchen can also be a noisy place, and have those two rooms separate really appeals to me.

Beautiful, huge kitchen with room to be social and cook at the same time.
Beautiful, huge kitchen with room to be social and cook at the same time.

While we’re at it, I love Plantation Shutters like in the photo above. We have them in our house now and I love them. They give the windows a classy look and they can stand up to anything. They are easy to clean. They can close for privacy, or they can actually reflect the light (if you have white ones) and brighten up the room when they are open. Perfect for any farm house. And sliding barn doors. I mean, what farm house wouldn’t look perfect with those? So these are details, but they are still things that I think are must-haves 🙂

The perfect barn door to close off the mud room, laundry room, pantry, etc.
The perfect barn door to close off the mud room, laundry room, pantry, etc.

Hard floors. Either wood, stone, or tile. Even stained concrete can look nice if it’s done right. But carpet + dogs is a disaster. And I’m not going through life without dogs. That’s just not an option.

As much as I would like to, I really don’t have the time to renovate a house to make it the way I want it. I would love to pull an Ashley at Domestic Imperfection and just make the house the way I want, but I just can’t do that AND have a job at the same time. And as we already discussed, Dream House #1 is the scenario in which I haven’t won the lottery yet.

These things shouldn’t be THAT hard to find, right? I mean, it’s not like it’s a long list. I should just show this post to our future Realtor and say, “find something to fit this description and I’ll buy it. Easy peasy.”

Summer Project: Greenhouse

I started writing this post in September (which was still later than I would have liked to be writing it), but circumstances have prevented me from continuing until now. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, but hopefully that will all be changing soon!

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I have wanted a greenhouse for the longest time, and I finally had Hubby on board for putting one together, but he wanted to wait until Fall so it would be cooler.  Well, I found one online for a REALLY good deal that I couldn’t pass up, so we bought it and had it delivered in June instead. So much for putting it together in the cooler weather!

The plan was simple – move the shed out from behind the garage and into a different part of the yard. That detail was not important.  It turns out that we also had to move A LOT of other stuff from behind that garage that we didn’t realize was in the way until we started to measure.

This took longer than it looks like it should have.
This took longer than it looks like it should have.

See that plant growing in front of the shed? My main goal was to build the greenhouse around that plant. I believe it is a mimosa, but I’m still not sure because I have never seen it bloom. However, before we bough the house the previous owner had tried to kill it multiple times, and it continued to grow, so I figure it needs to be there for a reason. So we were going to build the greenhouse around it.

After we moved all the stuff into the yard….

I didn't look like it took up that much space when it was behind the garage...
I didn’t look like it took up that much space when it was behind the garage…

We decided it was a great time to get rid of some things.  The pile of wood in front is a burn pile – rotten logs and a bunch of small shrubs that had starting growing behind the shed, mostly.  Also, Hubby and I were planning on sticking the shed somewhere else in the yard but it was much bigger than we thought it was. He called his parents, and they wanted it for the goats. Yes, they have goats, and the goats needed a new goat house.

I’m not making this up.

So Hubby power-washed all the mildew off of it, and we loaded it up onto their trailer so they could take it home.  We had to take down a portion of out fence to get the thing out of the yard in one piece, but it was surprisingly simple with 4 people!

The shed, loaded up and going to a good home.
The shed, loaded up and going to a good home.

Then we went to the Grown-Up/Homeowner Toy Store (Home Depot) and bought I-don’t-even-remember-how-many bags of sand and rock for the floor of the greenhouse.

So many bags...
So many bags…

We got some weed blocking fabric from our neighbor, let’s call him “Ben”

Almost enough!
Almost enough!

We had almost enough to cover the entire footprint of the greenhouse. Notice how we cut around the weed blocker for the “mimosa.” And then we put down the sand and gravel for the floor.

Floor is finished
Floor is finished

I know it looks like it in the picture, but those orange flowers aren’t coming from my tiny “mimosa” tree – those are my neighbor’s on the other side of the fence.

Hubby was smart and had this set up while we were working!
Hubby was smart and had this set up while we were working!

After the weed block and the rock were put down, we had to wait for delivery…

The giant Semi-Truck backing down my street to unload the greenhouse.
The giant Semi-Truck backing down my street to unload the greenhouse.

Of course I had been anticipating this forever, but it was a day later than I was told it would be, and then the delivery guy called me lost, driving around town unable to find my neighborhood. He had apparently driven around for a long time, because he knew all of the landmarks/buildings around me! Then, he said they are just supposed to leave it on the curb for delivery, but since he was late he would take it up to the garage for us. I wanted to say, ‘you would leave a 200+ lb. package on the curb? When we have to be present to sign for the delivery?! How does that make any kind of sense?’ But the guy was nice, and I know he doesn’t make the rules, so I kept my mouth shut.

The greenhouse was delivered on a Tuesday, and Hubby and I had talked about waiting to build it until Saturday.

That didn’t work.

I got home from work on Wednesday, and Hubby already had the bottom frame built! It came together a little at a time every day, and by Sunday it was done. I’m so glad we didn’t wait until Saturday to START.

Day One
Day One
Progress
Progress
Almost there....
FINISHED!!

After we built the greenhouse, we of course had to FILL IT with stuff, and we had some shelves that we took out of the shed (the goats said they didn’t need shelves) and got some shelves from Hubby’s wonderful uncle Bubba. First thing we did was power-wash the shelves, and then I painted them.

Short shelf: Before
Short shelf: Before
Tall Shelf: Before
Tall Shelf: Before
I LOVE THIS COLOR.
I LOVE THIS COLOR.

I just bought a quart of this paint because I was sure it wouldn’t take that much to paint two short shelves, but I thought I was smart when I bought the paint to include primer in it, so it went on REALLY thick.

Short Shelves: After
Short Shelves: After

I realize that I don’t have an “after” picture of the tall shelves, but I had run out of the blue paint, so I just used the last bit of green paint from when I painted the kitchen after we bought the house. It looked great, and I had JUST ENOUGH to do 2 coats on the tall shelves before I ran out!

So here it is, in all its glory! The greenhouse, mostly full and beautiful ❤

TaDa!
Ta-Da!

Why I Prefer Dogs to Humans

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Last night, after a wonderful dinner with some great friends, I pulled into the driveway to find my plant pot missing from its place in the front yard. Now this is not just any old plant pot. This was a plant pot that I had taken the time to paint our house address on, and put a plant in it! I got the idea off of Pinterest, and I was do proud of myself. Not only did I pick out something from Pinterest and ACTUALLY do the project, but it turned out well! I have even gotten compliments about it from the Chinese delivery guy!

Well apparently someone else liked it too, because it was stolen. I couldn’t believe that someone had actually taken it out of my yard, especially because we live at the end of a dead end, so it probably wasn’t someone just happening by, but it was probably someone visiting one of my neighbors.

This is why I prefer dogs to humans. Dogs are loyal, every day is the best day of their life, and they know how to make you feel better when you are blue. Dogs have evolved with humans for thousands of years, which is why they are so utterly loyal to humans. This is why I don’t trust people who say they don’t like dogs. Obviously they haven’t evolved correctly.

But with the loss of my plant pot, it just gives me another project to do to display our address. Trust me, it is VERY IMPORTANT that the Chinese delivery guy know my address!

Happy Earth Day!

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do anything specifically “earth friendly” yesterday because I was traveling all day long to Oklahoma instead of being at home (which is also why I didn’t have time to write this until Earth Day was over). But to make up for it, I planted some new plants in the front yard to beautify the front of the house over the weekend.

However, I would love to hear what YOU have planned for Earth Day? Have you gone hiking? Did you walk to work? Donated your time and/or money to a conservation organization?

One great thing that you could do is sign a petition to help shark conservation, or teach a child how to start a compost bin.

Really, there are so many ways you can help the earth, and although we should treat every day like Earth Day, one day at a time is a good way to get people, who might not otherwise participate, to take a step towards conservation, recycling, or sustainable energy use.

So, what did you do for Mother Earth today?

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Home Inprovements #4

Hubby and I have the same birthday. So to celebrate, we usually do one day for me and one day for him, in which we choose something we each want to do. On Saturday, I decided I wanted to be outside taking advantage of the beautiful day and garden!

Don’t judge. I may still be in my 20s but I love to garden and don’t have enough time to do it!

I finally planted my loquat babies, Hubby knocked out a bunch of stumps from those awful builder shrubs, and I repotted some plants that I was neglecting taking such good care of that they were outgrowing their pots!

Also, a couple weeks ago, Hubby planted a navel orange tree and now it already has flowers on it! Yay for yummy oranges!

And since I’m out of town a lot, Hubby likes to keep himself busy. So he built a fire pit in the backyard! Our yard is great for bbqs, and everyone knows I’m going for the cantina vibe, so a fire put that everyone can gather around is a great addition!

And, BTW, I finally painted the backdrop for our dart board, so now we can officially keep score!

Not too shabby for a girl who never has time to do anything at home!

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Home Improvements #3

Finishing the rock garden took a little while, but Hubby made it back to his uncles house to get another load of free rocks. While we were waiting for a reason to go there, I was slowly driven insane by the dogs’ persistant digging exactly where I didn’t want them to.

Bad Dogs
Apparently they were trying to dig UNDER the garage.

But evenutally, we got the rocks, and I was able to finish my project completely!Finished Product

We also had a super crazy wind storm here, which almost NEVER happens, and our two pine trees were looking a bit hazardous in the wind. I have ALWAYS hated these pine trees, so I was glad to have a reason to cut them down, other than, “they are useless, they put out no shade, they litter all over the yard, and they are taking up precious real estate in the backyard, that could be filled with beauty!” And we got a really good deal from the guy who trims our trees, so it was pretty perfect.

Here are a couple photos of what the yard looked like when we moved in:

The Pine trees are against the fence, and the shrubs were ugly and useless.

The Pine trees were against the fence, planted by squirrels and allowed to propogate for the last 20 years, and the shrubs were ugly and useless.

The yard was full of vegetation, but it was full of those ugly, builder shrubs that don’t bloom, and look sticky and sick their whole lives.

These vines were climbing everything, and were eventually going to kill our amazing oak tree!

These vines were climbing everything, and were eventually going to kill our amazing oak tree!

The vines climbing up the tree and garage are where the rock garden is now. Apparently a strangler vine was the only thing that would grow in this spot, which is why it is NOW a rock garden.

So now, after we took out the ugly shrubs and finally took down the pines!

A Blank Canvas

Now I have a blank canvas to plant my baby Loquot trees! I am waiting until it is offically spring, even though it’s 80 degrees today. I am sure if I put them in the ground we would get a freak snow storm. At the moment, this is all I can do until the days get longer. I only see daylight on the weekends at my house, so yard work is not always an option when I get home. But soon I will have my loquots planted, happy, and fruiting, and I will probably be giving away baby loquots for the rest of my life! So stay tuned! It might be sooner than you think!

Hondo laying on the rocks enjoying the sun, and watching for squirrels.
Hondo laying on the rocks enjoying the sun, and watching for squirrels.

Home Improvements #2

(Disclaimer – this is the first time I have tried to use the WordPress App with my phone, and upload the pictures. If they look weird, it’s because they EXPLODED in size, and I had to shrink them down manually. Sorry ’bout that. Still learning.)

There is a space in our backyard that the grass will never grow. When we bought the house the area was covered in an awful ground cover vine that was making the garage rot, and would eventually have killed the oak tree it was climbing up. We ripped out the ground cover, but then we were just left with dirt. I found some awesome flag stones in the front flowerbeds and turned them into a walkway in the backyard so we wouldn’t have to walk in the mud, but the area was pretty much useless, except for our redneck dogs that decided to dig holes all over it. So, Hubby and I came up with an awesome idea – lay rock in the area. The dogs wouldn’t dig there, it would be a nice flat space for me to put my potted plants, we wouldn’t be tracking dirt into the house constantly, etc. So we decided to gather native rocks from Hubby’s uncle’s house in the hill country. There, it’s easy to find nice big, flat rocks, and they were…what’s my favorite word?

FREE!

Now, I’m sure Debbie Downer would say, “you had to pay for the gas to get there, so they aren’t free rocks.” Except for the fact that we were also visiting family, which was a great, fun trip, so we would have probably done it anyway, even if we weren’t getting rocks. So there. FREE.

When we starting scoping out the property for rocks, we saw the biggest, flattest rock we could manage, and I HAD TO HAVE IT.20121205-122630.jpg

So what did Hubby do? He hooked up a chain and dragged it out!

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(Ok, so that’s actually a picture of his uncle pulling out the rock, but Hubby hooked the chain around it)

We loaded up our small trailer and the bed of the truck and headed home. We only had an hour to work before we lost the light, but I HAD to get some work done!20121205-122908.jpg

I arranged most of the stones the way I wanted them (more or less), and with the Super Mother Rock as the centerpiece, I mosaiced around it.

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I ended up not having enough rocks to finish, but we will be going back to his uncle’s house soon so we can get the rest.

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To fill in the gaps between the rocks, we spread pea gravel.

That way, we (hopefully) won’t have water pooling around the rocks, and it will drain better. That’s the idea, anyway.

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So…Ta-Da! (Sort of) finished product! (This was right after it rained, it it was covered in oak leaves). Actually we will probably really and truly finish this project this weekend.

Next on my list of this to do to make our backyard even more awesome: see that dart board on the garage? I’m going to paint the plywood backdrop for it with chalkboard paint so we can keep score and write dirty jokes. Because that’s how we roll.