Archive for June, 2011
You know, the ones who are so busy working on the inside of the house (slash baby-wrangling) that our yard is looking a little worse for wear. Check out the weed convention taking place under our mailbox:
And hark, who is that sweet little guy peering out of the overgrown insanity?
Why it’s a sweet iron squirrel left by the previous owners. And yes, I do love him and occasionally pet him. His name is Norman.
So the first step of the whole mailbox makeover was clearly to weed. For the first time in half a year. Yup, other than this mom-assisted weeding event, we haven’t done it at all since moving in.
I just got a bucket and filled it five times with all of the stuff sprouting up around the mailbox post:
Then we used some landscaping fabric to block those evil weed babies from coming back (since we’ve established that regular weeding isn’t our strong suit) and grabbed two $7 pots of fast growing all-summer-blooming petunias from Lowe’s. They tend to creep outward and get pretty big throughout the summer, so we think they’ll fill in that whole area nicely without having to buy ten pots of different things to plant.
We just cut little x’s into the landscaping fabric and dug in our petunias so they could spread their roots under the fabric – without a lot of other weeds coming up through the opening (hopefully).
Then we added an ultra thin layer of top soil to hold things down and a nice thick moisturizing layer of mulch. Can’t wait for these babies to grow a bit and creep outwards to fill more of our little mulched area with blooms.
Oh and see that area on the side of the post in the pic above that looks like it’s painted gray? That’s where our house numbers are so I just “painted” over them in photoshop for privacy reasons. And see that big blank stop-sign looking thing? That’s our alarm sign that I painted over in Photoshop to obscure it as well (as for the shape giving anything away, multiple companies have the same shape so it’s all good). Our house is armed like Fort Knox since we’re paranoid parents who realize that putting your whole house on the internet requires a few more precautions than the average home. So when our alarm company recommended that we not share their name on the internet (for maximum house security since they didn’t want anyone to think they knew the inside scoop on our system or try to research it or something – even though the way they installed our system is different than the norm with a bunch of crazy sci-fi extras) we were happy to oblige.
We actually thought it was pretty darn awesome of them to recommend the not-sharing thing since most companies would probably cross their fingers for a mention. They’re serious about security. Like Jack Bauer serious (or Chloe O’Brien serious). But we weren’t exactly thrilled about the three tin signs junking up our mailbox. A single alarm sign would usually be hung facing the street on the base of the post, but there was an old sign for an electric fence (which is no longer in use on our property) there instead. So they hung two signs on either side of the… arm?… of the mailbox. So after longer-than-necessary debating, J and I decided to remove both alarm signs along with the electric fence one and just hang one alarm sign in its place near the base. Here I am after removing both alarm signs and starting on the electric fence sign.
Oh yeah and my shorts were looking a little short so I added a “modesty heart.” But the real story of the picture above is the pink arrow (which explains my skeeered face). By removing the alarm signs, we uncovered this:
A wasp (or hornet’s) nest. Le gasp. I just left him alone and he left me alone. Thankfully. But we’re planning to ditch the nest (naturally and hopefully carefully) this evening. Fingers crossed.
Update: Mr Wasp was out this evening (at least I believed he was because at dusk his nest appeared to be unattended) so I donned a lot of clothing and closed toe shoes and used a long yardstick to knock the hive to the ground from afar. Nothing flew out of it (it was in fact empty – although I’ll never know if he was just out for a stroll or had abandoned the nest when I removed the alarm signs) so I stomped on it a few times with my shoe. Done-zo. Woot! And yes, I’m feeling pretty tough right now. I’ll keep you guys updated if he comes back (although I think the loss of cover thanks to the missing signs might mean good things for keeping him gone for good).
Here’s what we had going on once I hung just one alarm sign on the base of the post facing the road. If I were an overachiever I would spray paint the mailbox with oil-rubbed bronze paint to get it looking nice and shiny. Someday. And maybe even paint the post something glossy and fresh. Oh and see that birdhouse on the back of the post? A quaint little bird family lives there. They all fly out when we get the mail. So cute.
Speaking of cute, you know El Squirrel stuck around right? Here’s Norman living it up among the fresh mulch and happy blooms:
So yeah- we didn’t Curb Appeal The Block, but it’s a quick little upgrade from the embarrassment that was this:
Any other quick yard updates going on in your world? Have you ever used weed-block fabric (it was our first time beyond using it for the patio)? Or found little faux woodland creatures on your property only to fall in love with them? Or come face to face with a bee/hornet’s nest? Spill it.
First of all. This is Clara’s favorite video of the week (we find a dance song like Carmen Sandiego or this hand dance and boogie down). And yes, it does look like Burger’s brother from another mother doing some fancy footwork. So much so that the bean points to the screen and says “Burger!” the entire time while permasmiling. Adorbs (what, a guy can’t say adorbs?):
Ok, moving on. Upon moving to Richmond 5 years ago, we learned quickly that “Oh, that’s Richmond for ya” is the appropriate reaction when one of those small world coincidences takes place. It’s meant to reference that despite being a fairly legit city, Richmond has a small town vibe where everyone seems to know everyone else through no more than a degree or two of
Kevin Bacon friends and acquaintances. So when, for example, you find out that the girl at your favorite lighting outlet rents an apartment in the backyard of a house that you’ve crashed (and where your sister got married) you say “That’s Richmond for ya.” True story, by the way.
Well, we’ve got a new story that confirms that this phrase has some real truth to it. Here it goes.
Last week we got new neighbors. Like, right next door (the other side of the patio fence). Not knowing who they were, what kind of neighbor’s they’d be or what kind of house/yard they’d keep made us a bit nervous. They closed right before Memorial Day but were having some things done to the house before moving in last week, so we didn’t get to meet them right off the bat. Suspenseful.
So recently my cousin was in town and we had her over to BBQ on the patio. At some point my dad wandered off with her 5 month old son (not in a creepy way, but in a “let’s go look around” way). Upon his return, my dad said “Oh yeah, I met your neighbors.”
Sherry: “No way, who are they? What’s their story?” (Yes, our curiosity had turned us into gossips)
My Dad: “Well, they’re Brad and Angelina…” (Names have been changed to not put the new neighbors on blast – plus it’s more entertaining this way)
Me: “Wait, they sound familiar.” (Note: had their names really been Brad and Angie, I’m sure I would’ve placed them more easily)
My Dad: “…and they have a young daughter named Viv.” (cough… NotHerRealName… cough)
[LONG PAUSE, then picture light bulbs going off above both of our heads]
Me & Sherry: “No way! We know them!!!! They almost bought our house!”
Remember last year when we were selling our old house? And how we did For Sale By Owner? Well that meant we met all of the prospective buyers face-to-face and Brad and Angelina were not only the first people to tour our house but they also seemed to be the folks (out of a total of 16 showings) who appreciated the house the most (which of course made our hearts swell with pride). We could totally picture them lovingly moving into our first baby. Weird sentence, but you know what I mean.
Obviously they didn’t buy our house (they just weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger and sell the house they had yet). But as much as the 2010 John & Sherry wanted this nice couple to buy our house, the 2011 John & Sherry are much happier to have them as next door neighbors. Especially since their daughter is only 11 months older than Clara (hello playdates) and, like Clara, already seems to have a thing for Burger. Not that we’re getting ahead of ourselves or anything, but they’re basically destined to be BFFs. (Sidenote: their daughter already has a nickname for Clara, which is “dolly” which is just about enough to make a grown man melt).
Oh, and the other night I spotted Brad wearing a Mountain Dew t-shirt. And you know how well I get along with guys in soda shirts (that’s Jeremy Bower, btw)…
When we re-met them (as neighbors, not prospective buyers) we all laughed at what a small
city world it is. They added that our old house even turned up as a comp on their appraisal when they finally got around to selling their house six months later, so they were just thinking about it recently. And, to complete the hat trick of weird coincidences, we learned their movers were the same folks that moved out the previous owners of our house (they showed up and started laughing as soon as their realized they had “done” the house next door less than six months prior). I guess that’s Richmond for ya…
Okay, now your turn. What’s your best or latest small world story? Do they happen as often in your town as they do in ours? Also, does the video at the beginning of this post make you want to dance? Me too.
Psst- One of our favorite ever it’s-a-small-world stories is when the original owners of our first house contacted us. Check out that story here.
Our (continued) indecision about where our vegetable and herb garden should permanently go at our new place means we missed the boat on planting anything this spring (check out our edible gardens of years past here and here). But in an attempt to grow something this year, we’ve come up with a temporary solution. And it involves this galvanized tub:
We figured we’d just do a potted herb garden this year, with only a few “edible essentials” for our kitchen. Which is why we picked up a foursome of local and organically grown herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, and mint) at the farmer’s market this weekend for $12. Speaking of which, you can read more about our trip to the market on BabyCenter today as part of their “Big Day Out” this Saturday.
But back to the tub. It was about $8 at Lowe’s (way cheaper than any planter of that size) and to turn it into our herb pot, we figured it could use some holes for drainage in the bottom. They were a cinch to make with my little cordless drill.
To make them a bit bigger, I also wiggled a big nail around in them too. Oh yeah, and I made the holes in a heart shape. Maybe I was feeling romantic? Maybe I was subliminally professing my love for galvanized tubs? Or it was an ode to the L in YHL? Either way, this photo is about the most any of us will ever see of it.
Update: A few savvy commenters recommended that we test for lead just to be sure it wouldn’t leech into our food if it was randomly present in the metal. We just used one of those $4 Lead Test Sticks from Home Depoton to test the seams, the inside, the outside, the bottom, and even the holes that we drill and it was negative. Whew. So that’s definitely something to test for if you’re not sure how pure your galvanized tin is (and you’re using it for edible herbs)!
Also for drainage, we put a layer of gravel on the bottom (they were leftovers from the patio project). Hopefully they’ll keep the majority of the soil from dripping out of my hidden hole-y heart.
Before adding any dirt, we did a quick “dry run” of the herb placement. The taller guys (basil and parsley) went in the back, and oregano got some special space on the side – since my oregano tends to get bushy. Yeah… not so sure I like the sound of that last sentence.
Of course, if things do well (i.e. grow big and strong) this tin could soon get a bit cramped. But hopefully we’ll achieve “full” and not go as far as “so full it’s bad.” But if so, we can always transplant things into their own larger dedicated pots. You know if anything gets all diva on us. And we’re keeping the mint from spreading like crazy by separating it in a buried pot (a tip we learned a while back at the farmer’s market from a friendly local gardener).
You can see dirt in the bottom of the pic above. That’s some organic potting mix that we snagged at Lowe’s. It was about twice as much as the regular stuff ($10 vs $6, I think) but we figured since we’ll be consuming these plants it was worth going the slightly more natural route (since they were organically grown up to this point).
We usually would use our nutrient rich compost pile, but since moving our DIY compost bins got a little jumbled while we got settled so we don’t appear to have enough “ready” soil to use just yet (aka: things are still breaking down).
Here are the plants all in and soil-ed up:
Since the patio (which also got a bit soil-ed, as you can see) isn’t very sunny, we decided to put the pot on our balcony-to-nowhere (right off of our living room and kitchen). Despite being between two sections of house, it gets a remarkable amount of light – almost the closest thing to full sun that we have on our mostly shaded property. Plus it’s pretty darn convenient to the kitchen.
The beauty of having our herb “garden” potted this year is that we can move it around to test other sun spots if we find that this one isn’t doing the trick (since we’re still trying to wrap our heads around sun patterns here). Heck, it might even help us decide where to put a more permanent garden next year (gotta find that sweet spot). And if we decide to keep this potted version around, it’ll still look good on the larger deck that we plan to build out here eventually. Maybe even as an oversized centerpiece on an outdoor table?
And since no herb garden story is complete with an artsy close-up of your plant labels – here we go!
If you’re wondering, Colonel Oregano is not some weird variety of oregano. It’s just me being weird. I decided it’d be funny to take our simple popsicle stick labels and give them the Clue-character treatment. You know like Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard? Here’s my whole cast of made up herbs / suspect names. Yes, I’m what Sherry’s dad likes to call “a strange bird” (he’s also the man trying to single-handedly bring back the term “sick puppy”).
Next year if we decide to grow peppers it will be tough deciding whether to give it the “Sergeant” or “Doctor” title. Though the idea of a Dr. Pepper plant sounds pretty awesome, so maybe I’ve already made my decision.
What are you guys growing this year? Anything sprouting up particularly well or deliciously? Anything not showing as much promise as you’d like? Anything murdering someone in the conservatory with the lead pipe?
Psst- Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Farmer’s Market adventures here on BabyCenter.