Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Closets! Now with more fighting!

These are boxes of Martha Stewart closet organizers. We're going to try and build them together next weekend.

Pray for us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I have the coolest boyfriend

My friend T came over a couple of weeks ago to help me figure out what to do with the front yard. I was filling Greg in on her ideas and we got to talking about the backyard. He asked me if I'd want to hear what he'd do back there. He then proceeded to spew a bunch of awesomeness.

Despite the fact that he hates gardening and has zero interest in landscaping, and the fact that I've never really articulated what I want in a yard, he came up with a plan that nailed everything I want. It's a good thing he's so cute because that's frankly kind of annoying. I think about my yard constantly! Why am I not coming up with this stuff?

Basically his plan involves building a rather large (and low--think Japanese) deck off the second bedroom, which would eventually get French doors. BEHOLD, my superior MS Paint skills:

It would be big enough for a table that can seat 8-10 so I could have dinner parties back here. He'd shorten the existing rotten wood deck off of my bedroom so it was really just stairs, then put down large stone pavers. He'd build up the plantings between the two decks so I'd have a little seating area just outside our bedroom sliders. Think Adirondack chairs and martinis. The big bone planter would get dismantled and moved to the other side of the yard where the cement slab is (and it would have a new shape). The cement slab would get broken up and removed so we could expand the plantings in that weird back corner.

My one addition to this plan was to add a tree in the center of the yard for height and to provide a tiny bit of shade to one side of the deck. And I added a rain garden. And of course I mocked up these awesome plans in Paint.

Of course, he had to outdo that too. While I was out drinking wine with Bill, Greg measured the yard and built me a layout TO SCALE.

So instead of doing everything back there haphazardly, I can PLAN. And give the shrubs the right amount of space and whatnot. Mock-ups will be coming shortly--if we can pull off what we're thinking, we will have the coolest yard in the city. Of course, this could all be an elaborate plan to eliminate the lawn so he doesn't have to mow it. I conned him into doing it every week if he doesn't have to do dishes. Sucker.

(Have I mentioned I love living with him? He's a fabulous roommate and I couldn't be happier.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Remember how I was all, "I don't think I have an oil tank buried on my property!"?

Yeah . . . I do.

The real question is how I missed seeing this thing for two years. It's right in the front yard, alongside the driveway. Damn.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I love plant sale weekends.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Erythronium oregonum

I don't mean to be hyperbolic but this flower is the prettiest flower in all the land.

And it's growing in my yard!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More grandparent spoils

I went home for my niece's birthday this last weekend and my dad agreed to let me take away his mother's Newton's cradle. Remember these?

It still has part of the "Scientific Demonstrators, Inc" sticker on it and apparently it was marketed as the Swinging Wonder.

According to the Eugene Weekly, this model was created by Lee Trippett for an assignment at the University of Oregon, where he was earning his certificate to teach physics. There's a section on him hunting Bigfoot (really) and a line that asks, "Are you the man with the swinging balls?" It's worth a read.

Boys' Life (March 1969) declared that "it doesn't anything useful."

It may not do anything useful, but I love it. Growing up we saw my grandma on my father's side pretty infrequently. The thing I remember most about visiting her house in southern California is this contraption. I loved playing with it, even if I didn't understand that it was demonstrating Newton's Third Law of Motion. I also have her sewing box, which still has her patterns for nightgowns that require four yards of fabric. Oddly, there are no instructions for adding words to the backside.

Now I just need to figure out how to polish the steel balls. Anybody know?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Air quality

I've always had a houseplant addiction. I figure it's healthier to have lots of living things around you, whether those things are people or animals or plants. NASA did a pretty rad study that compared different houseplants and their abilities to remove chemicals from the home. Because homes are increasingly becoming energy efficient and better sealed, indoor air quality can be quite poor. The cleaning products we use and even our furniture off-gas chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde.Things like carpet, draperies, or even kleenex and grocery bags release these chemicals.

The best of the best were published in the book How to Grow Fresh Air by B.C. Wolverton. The full 50 plants, if you're curious, are listed here.

He evaluated plants based on the amount of chemicals they remove, their ease of growth, their resistance to insects and disease, and their transpiration rates. The transpiration rate measures how much water the plants release through their leaves, which in turn pulls air down around the plant roots. This is a good thing because it creates air flow where there otherwise might not be any. Better airflow means better removal of chemicals from the air.

Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens)

The number one plant for removing chemicals, transpiration rate, and ease of growth is the Areca Palm, followed by the lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) and the bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), one of which I plan on acquiring soon. The author includes a lot of interesting facts about the plants, such as when they consume carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Snake plants (Sansevieria), Christmas Cacti, and Aloe Vera all give off oxygen at night, so they are great plants for the bedroom. I moved the boy's humongous snake plant into the bedroom recently, and while he hasn't stopped snoring, we're sleeping well. Because of all the oxygen, I'm sure.

I already had a fair number of plants listed in the book, which makes me think most houseplants are probably pretty good for you. This is a Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia "Exotica Compacta").

These are Dragon Trees (Dracaena marginata). The dragon tree is among the best plants for removal of xylene and trichloroethylene.

I won't even show you a picture of my peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.). It's a beautiful plant when you don't ignore it the way I do. I'm not crazy about it, truth be told, but it ranks really high in the list.

This is a rubber plant (Ficus robusta) that I also try to kill regularly. It ranks high and is especially adept at removing formaldehyde.

The "knows how to become a librarian" flag just looks cool.

This is heart-leaf philodendron (Phildendron oxycardium), which most people probably have at home. They don't need much light and they are super cheerful looking, no?

So, yeah . . . if you hate house plants but love good air quality, get an areca palm. And sleep with some aloe vera.