Speaking of design inspiration…


I discovered this amazing shop from an original post by Tulle & Trinkets back in August of last year.  I was taking in some great table top and nursery designs on Sarah’s blog and somehow stumbled on this older post.  I was in love with this picture:

Copyright Tulle and Trinkets, 2014

Copyright Tulle and Trinkets, 2014


Vintage stuff, candles and old books – a perfect vignette!  I knew right off the bat that I had an old measuring cup like that floating around the house, a random item left over from a bushel full of old, rusty kitchen gadgets that we picked up at The Cleveland Flea for $5.  I immediately recognized the orange enamel pourer as my mother had one when I was growing that we always used for syrup during a sit down breakfast.  What a great idea to turn these into candles!  Turns out there’s a lot more and they’re actually available to purchase from Antique Candle Works.  I’ll probably try my hand at one myself, but there are some great vessels from the shop directly that I’d love to get my hands on.Antique Candle Works


Wait a minute…what happened to the decorating shows?

carol duvallSaturday morning I had an urge to settle in for a few hours of home decorating and crafting TV. My New Old House project was longing for some well deserved inspiration. While I perused the guide I noticed how completely my favorite line-ups have changed.  And it’s been like this for years now!!  I just never put it all together.  I guess I assumed that the real decorating and crafting shows were now on at some mysterious time when I happened to absolutely never be watching TV.  Looking at the TLC, HGTV and DIY line-ups now, though, drove home the fact that if this continues I will never again learn how to make 10 different holiday decorations from toilet paper rolls from Carol Duvall.  Nor will I watch neighbors get angry with each other because they allowed a decorator to convince the other to cover their fireplace and install a floor to ceiling climbing wall instead (“The ONE thing I said I didn’t want changed was the FIREPLACE!!!”).

christopher lowellAll that we have today are people buying and selling properties or doing “crash” 2-day renovations.  Don’t get me wrong – I love the design style of Joanna Gaines.  I get design inspiration from watching Fixer Upper and Property Brothers and we’ve picked up loads of yard and garden ideas from Yard Crashers.  I really miss the how-to aspect of the old design shows, though.  Watching Christopher Lowell walk you through his step by step theory for designing the perfect space was what I looked forward to on a sick day from work, before I owned a DVR and could fill it up with countless episodes.  Then there was this AMAZING design style show on HGTV, which I unfortunately can’t even remember the name of now, where the host would walk homeowners through a series of selections for finishes, colors, etc and come up with their perfect design style.  I could pick up so many ideas!

trading-spaces-georgetown-mortgageDesign on a Dime, Trading Spaces, the one where they would redocrate a room for under $500…..sure, there were some misses here and there and to watch them now they would probably be pretty dated, but to me there were so many more ideas – so much more to fill my design toolkit!  I always wanted to be an interior designer and these were my little windows into how I could make that a reality, even if it would just me in my own little corner of the world.

Now – the craft shows!  There is not a single crafting TV show that I can find today with the possible exception of Sewing with Nancy on PBS (I haven’t looked – I just assume it’s still on).  Before you could find kitsch crafts, sewing, a little bit of everything from Carol Duvall, knitting – even jewelry on the DIY network.  There was this magical thing called VARIETY.

Today’s saving grace?  Pinterest….where former decorating and craft show junkies turn for support and ideas in this generation.  Thank god – I will never run out of things to do with my toilet paper rolls again.

(Please note, I really don’t do crafts with my toilet paper rolls.  I did once try to organize my beads and jewelry supplies with them, but that’s another story.  A much less successful story.)

Opertion Stopthefuckingdeer

I’ve mentioned we have a deer problem.  Well…..shit got serious the other day.  The attack on a large portion of our wonderful, amazing garden began Monday and snowballed from there.  We’ve started taking any number of precautions.

Did I mention our neighbors insist on feeding the giant rodents?  Well….we’ve taken a greater issue with that as of late.  Bryan’s attempting to get electronic proof of what’s happening and was staked out in the treehouse this evening.  When we came back inside and I looked at my phone, here’s what I found in a string of text messages:

“hello my love.  Operation stopfeedingthefuckingdeer is in progress.  No sign of activity yet.  I think the scouts are suspicious of spy activity in the area.  The beast is prowling the grounds and trying to maintain a protected perimeter.  Maybe you can retrieve the hound.  He may be alerting the enemy of my position.

Also, I think the enemy has changed the time they lay their mines in an attempt to throw us off of the scent of their diabolical plan. They have given the appearance of bumbling fools, but that just may be a cunning disguise.

A snickerdoodle just looked me in the eye and said “rat-a-tusk” and ran away.”

This is just one of the reasons why I absolutely adore my husband.

So we may have gone a LITTLE overboard

Remember when I talked about our efforts to expand our garden this year?  Well, we’re finally at a point where it’s pretty much considered done.  Yes, somehow, there are still a boatload of seeds that could be planted (which you will think is absolutely crazy if you keep reading).  Those include second crops and us just plain running out of space for the time being.  So, what all did we do?

This is our primary living/garden space.  Just a couple of months ago it was mostly lawn with slightly overrun flower beds and a pear tree stump in the middle.  There was a section of gravel with our patio table that was riddled with weeds.  After a lot of digging, rototilling and physical labor this is what we we have.  From here it, hopefully, looks like a regular landscaped outdoor living space.  In reality, it is almost completely edible.

On this side, and slightly behind the shot, the big feature is the hops wall.  Altogether there are six hops plants, each with 3 runners leading from the ground to the roof of the house.  By the end of the season not only should we have hops (although it won’t be ready to harvest until next year) we’ll have shade along the back of the house where the heat of the afternoon sun hits the worst.  Along with the hops are vegetables, flowers, herbs and lettuce.  The intent was really to isolate, here in the courtyard, the plants that a lot of the animals may feast on.  We have a deer problem (and a neighbor who insists on maintaining a feeding station for them).  We also noticed, last year, that wild rabbits were back around once we planted more lettuce, etc.  We’ve designed most of our beds with three primary principles in mind:  make it all as edible as possible, design to naturally keep the pests out and make it as aesthetically pleasing as “normal” landscaping would be.

We used our lettuce and herbs just like any other border or filler plants.  All our lettuce and a good portion of the herbs came back from our garden last year.  What was once 6 little lettuce plants, and a single oregano and thyme plant, have turned into 60 lettuce plants and 4 large herb patches.  The entire gravel sitting and eating space is bordered by lettuce.

Not only were we designing to keep pests out, we’ve also built in pieces that will hopefully keep the right animals in.  So far this year, the courtyard has been home to a family of mourning doves, and various woodpeckers, finches and robins.  While we were working there was a mother and baby robin who would visit regularly to pick up all the worms we were turning over.  There’s a chipmunk we see every morning and a toad who we find venturing across the driveway at night.

If we consider the courtyard the garden, the rest of the “garden” has graduated into the farm.  Two raised beds and more dirt beds laid the groundwork for a corn field, a pumpkin/squash/watermelon patch, and the rest of our vegetable planting.

We are trying everything we can to avoid having to fence our planting spaces.  We don’t like it aesthetically.  Here’s what we’ve employed to try to help instead:

– We’re following the native american “three sisters” principle in the corn field.  Here we’ve planted corn, beans and gourds in combination.  The beans will use the corn for support.  At the same time they’ll provide extra nitrogen that the corn needs.  The gourds will fill in the spaces along the ground.  Any of the tender plants should be protected from the deer because we don’t believe they will want anything to do with walking through a corn field filled with scratchy, vines.

– In the back we surrounded our more delectable veggie plants with, first, beds of kale, marigold and onion.  The deer and rabbits shouldn’t like any of those to munch on.  Since half of the plants people say deer won’t eat seem to be an urban legend, though (they eat the hell out of my lilacs) we boosted the protection by planting all the vines around the raised beds (and by spreading coyote urine granules across the tree line and near bushes that they seem to really enjoy) .

We didn’t even stop there!  The front flower beds have become the sunflower farm…at least 4-5 different kinds including 12 foot tall mammoths.  I love sunflowers and can’t wait to see how they fill in the vertical space.  Bryan will tolerate them because they’re usable and he likes to watch things grow.  I can’t even imagine how many seeds will come from one of the mammoths.  In addition, we planted 5-7 foot varieties in front of our two street facing windows for privacy.

At the end of the day, here’s the complete list of what we have – variety and estimated quantity where possible:


  • Hops – 6 plants, 5 different varieties
  • Irish Moss
  • Zinnia
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Thyme – 2 large patches
  • Golden Lemon Thyme – 2
  • Oregano – 2 large patches
  • Lavender – 2
  • Lettuce – approx 60 plants
  • Jalapeno peppers – 3, turns out the other 3 were some sort of wax pepper
  • Blueberries – 2
  • Sweet woodruff – 3
  • Black hollyhox
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Pineapple Sage – 2
  • Lemon Verbena – 3
  • Basil – 2 each opal, thai, lime and pesto
  • Nasturtium
  • Flowering Kale – 6
  • Marigolds
  • Rose bush
  • Hibiscus
  • Clematis – 2
  • Hardy Mums (survivors from our wedding last year)
  • Daisy patch (where we think the toad lives)
  • Salvia variety
  • Blanket flower
  • A beautiful bush we don’t know the name of (green variegated leaves with light peach new growth)
  • Cilantro
  • UPDATE:  I knew I’d forget because they’re not in place yet!  We’ve also got:
  • Sugar Snap Peas – at least 20
  • Cucumbers – way too many
  • Artichokes – 6-8 (not nearly enough)
  • Bell Peppers – 18 in a variety of colors

Corn Field

  • 4 different types of corn, approx 300 plants right now (yeah, we know about thinning and will be practicing that this weekend) including sweet red, sweet white and yellow, decorative and an early grower
  • 2 different types of beans, approx 100 plants.  Dragon’s Tongue and Traditional Green Beans
  • 4 different types of gourds, approx 25 plants – mini-pumpkins, birdhouse gourds, decorative and loofah

Backyard Farm

  • Pumpkin patch with 3 varieties, 60 plants – big max, white and traditional
  • Watermelon – orange tendersweet, 8 plants to date
  • Watermelon – moon and stars, about 8 plants
  • Watermelon – sugar babies, about 12 plants
  • Acorn squash – 25 plants
  • Butternut squash – 25 plants
  • Four patches of kale (can’t count the plants)
  • Broccoli – looks to be about 130 right now!  oops
  • 4 varieties of carrots including purple, goliath, a white one and regular
  • 17 tomato plants including a black cherry tomato, hillbilly heirloom, roma, golden boys and others
  • An 8×6 strawberry patch
  • Potential for an additional two pepper varieties and Calliope eggplants
  • Sweet onions
  • Leeks
  • Green Onions
  • Marigolds – with the potential for giant 5″ blooms


  • Mammoth sunflowers – 12
  • Various 5-7 foot sunflowers (best of show) – 20-40 (still waiting on some)
  • Mexican sunflowers – 25-35
  • Nasturtium – 10-15
  • Marigolds
  • Roses – 4 around the whole house

I think that’s everything although  I’m sure I’ve probably missed something.  Commence with comments about how crazy we are.  Aside from watching all of this grow, and running home everyday to see what progress has been made, we get to actually live in it.  It’s awesome!  Come harvest time, watch for us on the side of the street with our little stand.  Well, if you start doing calculations – it may not be that little in the end.  For example, with 60 pumpkin plants each one has the potential to produce between 3 and 10 pumpkins.  That’s means we may wind up with 200-400 pumpkins!  And, just one of each kind of pumpkin would provide us with enough seed to have just as many or more the next year.  Now, I don’t expect we’ll have the time to be going to farmers’ markets (although it would be a great way to spend our time) so I don’t know how much we’ll grow production.  Then again, I never expected, when we were making these plans this year, that our current scale would be what it actually has become.  Here’s hoping everything does well from here out!