Archives For The Great Outdoors

Are y’all ready for this? I’ve got a really complex, Earth-shattering DIY to share today. Hold onto your hats.

First, I found some rocks. Then, I wrote on them. With a sharpie. To put in my garden.

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This “project” literally took five minutes from start to finish with a baby in my lap. And I didn’t even get any marker on the baby.

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I just put them in the herb garden for now, since the veggie garden is so overrun with grass that the rocks would be lost, but this fall when I move the veggies over to a new bed near the herbs I’ll whip up some fancy rocks for them too. Not because I really need a marker to tell tomatoes and cucumbers apart, but because it’s fun. And sometimes I do forget what I planted.

Speaking of forgetting, I almost forgot to post today! I uploaded all the pictures yesterday and was at work for an hour this morning before I remembered I never finished it! Good thing work is pretty slow for me before I start running therapy groups at 10:00. Happy Tuesday, y’all!

This girl! But the only recreational use of these herbs is culinary. Let me start from the beginning. I don’t have a great track record with keeping plants alive, but I’m working on it. Through a random series of events I recently befriended my across-the-alley neighbor, Danielle, whose second child is only a few months younger than Jack. You can see a glimpse of her house in this photo from when I freshened up my secondhand patio set.

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One day while Jack and I were over for a playdate I remarked to Danielle that I really admired her herb garden and would love to have one of my own. She offered to come over and take a look at our yard and gave me all kinds of good advice. It was around the time that she was examining blades of grass between her fingers, mumbling to herself about whether it was centipede or bermuda, that I asked, “How do you know all this stuff about gardening?” and she said, “Oh, I actually got certified as a Master Gardener,” like it was no big deal! Three years I’ve lived in this house, and I am only just now realizing I live next to a Master Gardener. And she’s moving in a month! So I’m trying to put all her good advice to use while I still have her around to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

I told Danielle that I thought I’d like to put my new herb garden in this awkward corner of our yard. She showed me how to remove the grass with a shovel (she didn’t think my grass would be easily smothered, which explains why I continue to struggle with it in the veggie garden).

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I cleared a 3×9′ strip of grass that very day, then on Memorial Day, with Nick home to hang with Jack while I played in the dirt, I went to Home Depot and rented the smallest tiller they had for $35.

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The tool rental people didn’t tell me anything about how to operate it, but it was pretty straightforward and actually kind of fun. And it went way faster than I thought it would. I was back to return the tiller to HD within an hour!

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Bam. Grass and weeds be gone!

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I was originally going to build a raised bed from wood boards like I did for my vegetable garden, but as I stood in the lumber aisle I realized that getting 9-foot long boards home in my small SUV might be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to dig up some bricks that I knew were under a layer of leaves on the other side of our house and use them for edging. They were completely free and add a bit of charm. (you can see a photo of the brick path before it was covered in leaves here. So funny that Memorial Day three years ago we were working in that spot clearing a bunch of ivy!)

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Some of the bricks are stamped with “St. Joe” or “Salmen,” which means they were actually made in my hometown an hour and a half away and probably original to the house. The backyard feels awfully contemporary in contrast to the actual age of our home so it’s nice to bring some of this brick out where we can actually see and appreciate it.

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After laying out all my bricks (I tried to get them mostly level and straight but didn’t stress about perfection), I filled the bed with two bags of organic garden soil. I don’t always spring for organic, but in this case it was only a little bit more so I went for it.

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Then I planted lavender, thyme, rosemary, and basil. They were all $2 starter plants from the hardware store except for the lavender, which I’d started from seed in another pot back when I planted my vegetables.

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At Danielle’s suggestion I put some peppermint in a big pot on the deck. This way the invasive mint won’t take over the rest of the bed, and I strategically placed it near the table so it’ll release some minty fragrance anytime we brush against it.

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I’ve got a tentative master plan to ditch the pallet compost bin (since I made another one out of a trashcan) and add another brick-edged bed along the left. I can plant veggies in there and abandon the smaller bed that has grass growing beneath it. I could place a small shed between them to finally have a place to put my garden tools, and maybe put in a set of steps off this side of the deck to make it easy for us to access this little part of the yard. The weird concrete walkway creates a natural division for this area to be a dedicated garden space.

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The only thing holding me back is that sheds are almost always way bigger than we need/want and surprisingly expensive. I wish we were handy enough to build one! I will most definitely be moving my veggie garden for next year’s growing season, though. I love the idea of two brick-edged beds mirroring one another in a little garden nook separate from the rest of the yard. Speaking of my veggie garden, things are coming along swimmingly. I’ve got a couple of plump, green tomatoes I’m waiting for the perfect moment to pluck before the bugs get them and I’ve been harvesting plenty of crisp sugar snap peas (straight from the vine into my mouth. They don’t even make it inside). My cucumber plants are looking extremely promising and I hope to have some okra soon as well. I’ve found vegetables much easier to grow than shrubs or flowering plants, so let’s hope my luck extends to the herbs. It’ll be easy to remember to weed and water them when I find the bed so charming!

The last time I remember updating most of the pictures on our House Tour page is over a year and a half ago! That is way too long! So much has changed since then and I was kind of embarrassed to have all those old pictures on display for new visitors checking out my blog. So, since I had the house and yard looking nice for the baby shower I hosted recently, I thought I’d take the opportunity to get some fresh photos of this little place we call home. Behold: the view from the street.

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The front porch. Somebody needs to sweep that floor! It’s not gonna be me. I want to paint the floor gray but I’ll probably never get it clean enough to paint.

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Nick and I can be found sharing a beer out here at least a couple evenings each week. He listens to LSU baseball on the vintage radio and I read a magazine or play around on my phone. There’s a ceiling fan to combat the heat and that sweet olive planted just on the other side of the railing perfumes the whole area in late summer. I’d like to plant a whole row of them eventually to create an open screen between us and the neighbors.

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The front door opens right into the living room. I created an entryway of sorts using an upholstered storage bench and a shelf with hooks.

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The living room opens into the dining room, which I’ve divided into two spaces for eating and sitting. To be honest, we rarely use that seating area and I’d love to someday replace it with an upright piano and a cushy rug for Jack to play on while I work in the kitchen.

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I love the dining area. We have a portable high chair that we strap onto one of the dining chairs for Jack.

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The kitchen is pretty much exactly the same as the day we bought the house. I changed the window treatment and added the stemware rack under the cabinet, but that’s it.

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I’d love to someday replace the tile backsplash with beadboard and install upper cabinets or open shelves on either side of the stove vent.

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If I had a million dollars I’d also look into opening up that pass-through to expand up and to the right, creating a bar that we can pull up stools to on the other side. It’s hard to put into words but I can envision exactly what I want.

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The laundry room is at the way back of the house behind the kitchen. There’s a door just to the right of this photo that leads to the backyard. The washer and dryer are ancient and dying but we’re making them work as long as possible.

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On the other end of the laundry room, I built that skirted counter to hide the cats’ litter box and a bunch of other random crap. It’s really one of my favorite projects. The dog and cat food are in glass canisters on top of the dresser and the trashcans on the right are labeled with chalkboard paint for trash and recycling.

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I didn’t bother with an updated photo of the guest bath as it really hasn’t changed much, but here’s the old one for continuity’s sake. I recently ditched the cork bathmat and am still on the hunt for the perfect replacement.

Jack’s room. The only thing I’ve changed since he was born is adding more art and accessories we received as gifts.

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Our bedroom is upstairs. It’s sort of a loft setup. I think it was added after the house was built, but long enough ago to have the same style windows. It’s a large room and difficult to capture on camera without a wide-angle lens.

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Back downstairs at the very front of the house is the office slash playroom. I’m trying to simplify things by just calling it a den but I can’t get my mouth to say it. I always just call it the office. This room and the laundry room are definitely the ones that have changed the most in recent months. It’s come a looooooong way from this.

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This is where I sit blogging at this very moment. I use those shelves to store office and craft supplies as well as items I have listed for sale in my etsy shop.

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The rug is usually covered in baby toys.

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And last but not least, the backyard. The deck has become a much nicer place to spend time lately thanks to the fresh coat of paint and colorful umbrella I added to the table and chairs.

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We have a vegetable garden, clothesline, two compost bins, and I’m working on putting in an herb garden (the grass is cleared, I just need to rent a tiller to get the rest of the roots and then build a raised bed. I learned from my veggie garden that just laying down some cardboard under the bed will not kill my grass.). That galvanized pail near the deck steps collects rainwater for me to water the garden with. I’d love to get chickens someday, but I’m worried about keeping them out of my veggies and herbs. And also predators. We live in a densely populated area with the standard assortment of stray cats plus a surprising number of possums, raccoons, and even a family of hawks. I’d like the chickens to be able to free range if I can figure out the logistics.

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So there’s our place! Not pictured are the guest bedroom and master bath, which still leave quite a bit to be desired, but if you’re just dying to see what they look like you can check them out in this post and this post. I’ll be working on getting all these new photos up on the house tour page today, so if you click over before I’m finished you can see what’s changed (and what hasn’t!) since the last tour. I fell in love with the house the first time I saw it and it’s so cheesy but I love it a little more every time I do something else to make it more beautiful, functional, and livable. And if you’ve made it to the end of this super long post then I love you too! Thanks for reading!

I’ve managed to evade the succulents trend until recently, but they’re slowly starting to pull me in. They’re just so low-maintenance. I’ve begun a small collection. This corner of my front porch just cries out for a small container garden, but the protection from sun and rain is too much for most plants. Happily, these seem to be doing okay so far. On the left I have aloe, which has also been growing happily on my kitchen windowsill for some time so I feel good about it, echeveria (I think?) in the middle, and hens and chicks over to the right. I’m not so sure about the hens and chicks. I think maybe it gets leggy in the shade.

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The pots on the ground have been there longer and I’m amazed at how well they’ve held up. Bird’s nest fern and snake plant (sansevieria?) have proven nearly impossible for me to kill! There’s ivy growing in the bed nearby that I’ve trained to come up onto the porch. When we first bought our house the ivy was out of control, but we keep it in check now and I actually kind of like it.

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That metal birdcage thing was a gift from my friend Laura and I love the way it looks with the ivy. I’ve got a pot sitting inside it but nothing’s planted there. I need something easy that’s shade and drought tolerant, and preferably a creeper or climber. Any suggestions? It’s so nice to have some plants that aren’t dying on me. I’m trying to get better about watering, too. Maybe I can keep the big ferns by my front door looking nice for a while instead of allowing them to die a slow and painful death before replacing them with new ones.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We got some stuff done around the house and spent time with friends. It was really nice!