Got lost on the internet, found these.

And oh my goodness, THESE KIDDOS:

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The Last Weekend.

John left for Ireland, and after dropping him off at his 5 AM bus to the airport, I couldn’t fall back asleep and instead cleaned the entire house and weeded the garden. Then I organized John’s dresser. (He’ll be annoyed by that).

My mom visited, and we chopped down the 6 trees and countless weedy-vines that populated the alleyway alongside my garage. We also got pedicures and saw The Very Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (it’s very cute).

My neighbors returned from Hawaii and gave me chocolate covered macadamia nuts as a thank-you for caring for their garden while they were gone. I plan on eating them for dinner.

 

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The marathon begins next week.

Life is about to get very full, dear Internet, but oh so exciting!

Next week, I start my Masters in Social Work (!). I also start a new work schedule, which I have to survive until August. In August, I start a new job at the University (while continuing classes – it’s an assistantship! and it’s going to be amazing!), which I’ll hold until May. In May, I’ll start 6 months of field work. After that, I’ll be a-graduating (Lord willing!). And after that? I can get to work fixing this dreary world of ours.

Blogging may be few and far between … or it may be as frequent as ever. I’m not quite sure yet. But I hope you’ll stick around, either way. By the end, I should have some great stories to tell.

(A small point of business: I’m searching for a replacement for my current job, so if you know of anyone with grant writing experience and an interest in consulting, get in touch! Local is preferred, but telecommuting may be an option for the right person.).

So, here we go!

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This is only exciting to me and J.

Our new fridge arrived today, and it was delivered by the same strong fellow that delivered all our other appliances in the past two years. If I had known that everything except the stove (knock in wood, puhlease!) was going to die within 2 years of buying the Cottage, we may have jumped on that stainless steel bandwagon. Oh well. Our kitchen shall continue to be non-trendy. Lord knows the green countertops aren’t helping anything anyway.

If you’ll let me brag for just a moment, I shall tell you that our beautiful new side by side with internal filtration and a working ice machine (hallelujah!) was purchased at a steep discount thanks, inadvertently, to my iPhone. Home Depot price matches, you see, and after finding a model that would fit inside the Cottage’s kitchen, I plopped myself down in the Garden Center and did google search after google search on my phone to find the best price in all the internets. Sears Outlet offered the same model for $720, compared to Home Depot’s $1200 (though in full disclosure, HD was offering a promo of $200 off anyway, so the price would have actually been $1000). HD price matched with no complaint, so we saved almost $500 from the sticker price, nearly $300 from the real price. Add free delivery and free haul away (I lurve you, Home Depot) and this unexpected expense became a bit easier to swallow.

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Life lately (and the garden update you’ve been sorely missing)

I spent a week on the beach with half of my family (and all of my husband), seeking shade like it was my full time job and drinking wine out of a water bottle as the classy ladies do. It was a lovely getaway, despite a multitude of small disasters it included (Oh, you know, I just left my luggage at home thanks to a miscommunication regarding packing the car. And then J lost his prescription glasses. At the airport, J’s laptop took a tumble at Security and broke. Then we came home, and our fridge had died. Ay yi yi!).

While we were away, the garden exploded (thanks in part to some dear friends who tended to it in my absence).

Strawberries are finished for the year, and the lettuce is nearing the end. You can see that the romaine has already bolted. Boo. The other plants in the front are zucchini (x2) and leeks. Green onions (from seed) are mixed into the flower garden.

The back patch is just now getting going (full of peas, zucchini, cucumber, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, peppers, and basil). I planted morning glories around the compost bin, hoping that their vines will latch onto the chicken wire and hid the entire mess from view, but they haven’t started climbing yet … sigh.

The new flower patch has filled in nicely, and the sage has turned into a bit of a bully, crowding out some other plants. I spent a good 20 minutes trimming it this weekend. Excuse Pasha’s digging holes, by the way. That naughty pup.

And finally, there’s quite a show going on near the house (including a volunteer sunflower from last year’s batch!). Lucky us, a family of Cardinals have moved into one of those bushes and there’s an egg in the nest. So exciting!

A garden detail, for those who are interested …

– After some internal debate, I mulched the vegetable patches this year. We’re anticipating a dry summer, so it should help with water retention in the soil and weed repression. I do worry about the soil temperature (lettuce, peas, and pepper appreciate cooler roots), but I gave those plants a wider berth and have my fingers crossed that they won’t mind too much. We’ll see!

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Lesson learned.

Let it be known plants do, in fact, die under my care. All those seeds I lovingly started under lights this winter? DEAD. Of course, the beauty of starting from seed is that you have a million extra seeds for disasters such as this, and cry not, for replacements have all be directly sown and are growing beautifully, but OH how I lament the extra $10 I spent in electricity trying to give those babes an early start. Did I coddle them? Were they too weak for the world? Did they miss life in the basement? I’ll never know. If you need me, I’ll be the one in mourning black for the rest of the month.

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Berry Blessed.

Third week of berry produce:

One third of those sweeties in the sink:

A friend recently asked me what my secret was, and I told her that I assumed it was timing. The patch was a disappointment its first two years, and yet here we are at year 3, swimming in strawberries. So if you have strawberries and are feeling despondent, stop that nonsense. (Stop it!) Let them settle in a year or two, and then if they still disappoint you, rest assured that picking them is an utter pain.  You see, I did not plant these plants with picking in mind, so this harvest has been putting my yoga skills to (extensive) use. Also, strawberry patches are full of spiders. So, don’t feel bad.

After clearing the strawberry bed of all red and laying mulch in the flower beds, I’m taking the rest of the weekend off from gardening. Have a lovely weekend, Dear Internet.

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Another small change.

The hallway leading down into our basement was in desperate need for a fresh coat of white paint, but ladders+stairs meant the project was out of my league. I took to Craig’s List to find a local painter, who promptly lost the job once she failed to show up because “it was raining” and “looking for my number was too much work”. Luckily, Painter #2 was gracious, on time, and incredibly clean. He even vacuumed the stairs before he left! Sometimes, things just work out for the best.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

White paint for the win!

 And since this was a boring post about a hallway, here’s a picture of P-dog day napping from the other day.

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DONE.

Let us rejoice, for the dark time of laying edging and removing sod is behind us. The rain (and tornado watches) held off until Sunday, giving me enough sunshine to finish up the big landscaping project. Hurray!

Friday evening, I picked close to 20 cups of berries (clearly, the bird netting worked!). We prompt ate half, froze some, and shared the wealth with our neighbors.

On Saturday, I finished this project:

Last year, the bed wasn’t a consistent width and I planted without a plan (don’t plant without a plan!). While it was an improvement from the weeds that were present when we moved in, the end result was disappointing. Now, the bed is a consistent 40″ wide, and I shuffled the plants for symmetry’s sake. I also widened the back bed, giving the blackberry bush, Asiatic lilies, and irises a bit more breathing room. Order restored.

I also evened the edging in this new bed, and sowed seeds in the empty spaces (basil, chamomile, oriental poppies and lavender … we’ll see what grows!):

I relocated the potted plants from the raised bed, and sowed seeds there (zinnias, carpet of snow and morning glories). It’ll be interested to see what thrives in this spot – it gets some awkward sun. Nothing much to look at yet, though.

The lettuce, spinach and leeks are all doing well. I planted some marigold seeds (to attract bees), and then put the rest of the babes (from under our lights) into the soil. So far, we’ve lost 2 zucchini plants, but everything else keeps keepin’ on. (Don’t mourn, squash seeds sprout quickly, so replacements will happen this week).

We re-arranged the patio furniture, and I took some time to enjoy this show:

And oh! We put the window boxes up (hurray!) and I filled in the front planters (hurray x2!), but that will have to be another post.

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Weekend Review.

Rain meant I spent most of the weekend drinking G&Ts and doing laundry (not at the same time, however) instead of finishing the garden chores, but what can you do? Luckily, we had half of Saturday to make some progress:

I picked our first batch of strawberries:

We extended the herb garden by removing 15 wheelbarrows worth of sod:

(Once the ground dries, I’ll be able to level the edging).

Last weekend, I dug out and laid the red pavers. This weekend, I built and installed a new flower bed:

(Yes, I know. I know! But a shallow raised bed was the only option, as the soil in that awkward space is mostly made of broken promises and gravel. I kept the bed shallow so that it won’t stick out as much, and this will limit my plant choices (short roots only please), but it’s ok. The potted plants and bricks are only temporary; I’m thinking of planting morning glories and zinnias).

We also started to clean out the garage, a chore that is not photogenic but still worthy of mention.

Next weekend, we’ll be completing the edging work, and hopefully getting some plants in the ground.

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