Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I need to get more of these

I planted Festuca glauca 'Golden Toupee' last spring and it didn't do much. It didn't grow at all and it faded to an unremarkable white/blue.

At planting

In August

But now?

In a sea of dead things this little guy is a cheery blast of chartreuse.

I think I'd like to buy 40 more of these. And I'd like to make it grow. Does anyone have this grass? Is it ever going to stretch its legs?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cutting the fat

There's nothing like visiting people who have lived in the same house for 30 years to make you want to declutter. I came back from visiting family in December and I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have.

Right around the first of the year we had a rare day of sunshine and I was like, "I'm going to weed the front yard!" except I had to put something away in the craft closet first. I still don't really know what happened but all of a sudden I had pulled everything out of the closet. Everything. And then I was bagging up things for the Goodwill (Greg hates garage sales and won't help if I have one). The decorative vases from my reveal. Old curtains I sewed for the bedroom and will never use. Gone. My friend Joy took all my extra yarn for an after school program she runs.

Then I hit the front hall closet. Can you believe I had more throw pillows in there? We have six million throw pillows in our living room (I think they reproduce while we sleep). I don't even need extras to recover or repurpose, we have so many.

Next I was raiding my closet, getting rid of all the shoes I never wear. I have a hard time getting rid of clothes and shoes because I buy new ones so infrequently. I'll stop wearing an item then put it back in rotation two years later. But I think three years without a single wear means I can purge them. Gone.

Next up, books:

I used to buy around 50 books a year. Then I started working in a library and realized that I could get any book in the whole world for free and I never bought a print book again (I still buy books for my Kindle). It was liberating. And now I've realized that I don't need to hang on to all of them. Just the good ones that I might loan out or reread. All those galleys from library conferences have been weeded.

When I first moved into the house I arranged my books by color because that's what everyone on the Internet was doing. This is a great system if you don't read your books. If your books are not decorative it's awful. I swear they almost revoked my librarian rights over this.

Everything is ordered the way I like it now, a combination of author/gender/genre. Anais Nin sits on the shelf with Henry Miller and Proust, the way god intended.

Next on my decluttering list is the garage, but that will need to wait until it warms up. Anybody else purging? I think I might be addicted.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A happy new year to you

Whew you guys, we made it through the holidays. I have no excuse to dislike the holidays but I always have a hard time enjoying them. They end up so busy, so expensive, and so jammed with things like work parties (seriously, we see each other every day, why so many work parties?). It didn't help that 2012 was a really bad year for a lot of people. I can't remember a year where I knew more people who lost loved ones or jobs or their health. Greg and I have been hiding out for a week, working on jigsaw puzzles and staying in our pajamas all day.

I also painted more black doors.

I've been reading everyone's "What we accomplished last year" lists on their blogs and I was feeling so lazy but then I realized that we painted the house and landscaped the front yard plus I painted a whole bunch of stuff, so that made me feel better. I still have no quarter round on the floors upstairs but the year of little things was fairly successful. We have curtains in the living room! We have a real light fixture over the kitchen sink!

Our biggies on the list for 2013 largely involve the basement. I got a gift certificate to Mr. Plywood for Christmas so we're finally going to install baseboard and window trim in Greg's movie lair.

And on the laundry side we're going to demo a useless built-in and install shelving. Greg thinks if we do this I'll stop leaving the tape measure in a different place every time I use it, which makes me laugh and laugh. Variety is the spice of life! Where is the fun in home improvement if you don't spend the first half hour looking for the hammer that your girlfriend inexplicably left in the bedroom closet?

From me to you, I wish you good health, happiness, and peace. I'll be over here poring over all the gardening catalogs I'm getting in the mail. Spring is coming!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Garden bloggers' bloom day December 2012, Should I be worried? edition

And one day late, to boot. I've been preoccupied with being cold, hiding out under blankets, knitting, and rewatching the entire run of Gilmore Girls. I am so good at doing winter.

My salvia 'Black and Blue' is still going strong, though the weather isn't always kind to the blooms.

My Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' is gorgeous right now, though it's being overshadowed by an increasingly gnarly looking castor bean plant. I'm waiting for the castor bean to turn to mush so I can get that humongous stalk out of the ground.

Salvia pulchella x involucrata looks like it might finally bloom.

My Knautia macedonica is still pushing out blooms.

Fatsia japonica!

In slightly troubling news, my hellebores are already blooming, which didn't happen until February last year.

My Allium schubertii are poking out of the ground. A lot.

Am I worrying over nothing? Am I going to lose these alliums once the really cold weather gets here? Will Luke and Lorelei ever figure out that they're in love with each other? So many questions.

Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Gardens for a look at what's blooming in everyone else's gardens.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I've been painting again.

Greg and I always joke that whenever he goes away on business he comes back to find that I've painted a room. I try and wait until he's gone so he doesn't have to deal with paint fumes. Also, I like to sing while I paint and Eternal Flame is still such a good song you guys, but Greg doesn't need to hear that.

Hang on to your hats, this is dramatic (we're looking at the spot above the door).



I KNOW. I know! It's crazy. The old color was the off-white from Metro Paint, which smells terrible and is made from recycled paint, so the colors were totally different from batch to batch. The new color is White Chocolate by Benjamin Moore, a color that looks exactly like white chocolate. Why would I bother? For starters, there was a spot over the door where I started to paint three years ago, then realized it needed to be patched, so I painted around it, then spackled it, then never painted. And I guess I got rid of the paint can at some point? So I was never going to find a match for that spot.

Then we installed baseboard in the kitchen, which I still can't show you pictures of because Tinkernation has neglected to publish my final post. I am contractually obligated to keep it under wraps until they do. But I had to patch the wall, which means the kitchen really needed to be repainted.

I bought a quart of White Chocolate and put up a swatch above the door, since Greg was away for the night. Then I was having so much fun I decided to paint a little further. Then I realized I was just painting the kitchen that night. I almost had enough paint to finish, too. Instead I had to pop over to Benjamin Moore the next day after work and hustle to get it finished before Greg got home.

It didn't work. He walked in and I was behind the stove with a roller and I weakly yelled, "Surprise!" and he was like, "I see the roller and the paint can but everything looks the same," and I had to explain the minute difference between the two colors.

All of the paint fumes with none of the dramatic impact! You're welcome, baby.

The good news is I really love the color and we have no visible patches. And it turns out I still know all the words to Eternal Flame and Walk Like an Egyptian.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little improvements

When I decided to make curtains for the front rooms of the house I bought the entire bolt of fabric, or 20 yards. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making curtains that I'm just "meh" about, well I'm going to make 600 of them, damn it. You don't change course mid-stream or something.

I finally got around to making panels for the big window in the dining room and hanging an Ikea Enje blind. I ordered more hardware from JC Penny but screwed up and ordered one fewer than I needed. I also ran out of fabric, so this corner still has ugly, broken, dirty blinds.

Even though the room looks a little silly with just one set of curtains, the amount of extra light that pours through the Enje blind is dramatic. Our house is south-facing and having extra sunshine during the winter (when we can get it) is fantastic.

I think I might actually dye the curtains in this room, even if just to an off-white. I know, exciting times 'round here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A mystery

Do you watch Ask This Old House? They have a section where they pull out a random tool or gadget and ask "What is it?" and the guys go around thinking up ridiculous ideas for what it could be ("It's a lazy susan for Tommy's sandwiches."). It's super cheesy and I LOVE it.

I could use them right about now.

We have a bolt on our basement floor. It just sticks out of the floor, right in the pathway between the door and the washing machine. It has some sort of electromagnetic force field that draws your foot to it, which means there's a lot of swearing coming from the basement because I always step on it.

It didn't correlate to any parts on the old furnace, though it had been retrofitted for gas at some point, so maybe the original configuration used it?

Original furnace

Greg tried to unscrew it but the thing wouldn't move. It's all of one piece, which makes me think it was put there when the slab was poured.

See how it's right where you want to walk when you're carrying a load of laundry from the dryer?

Anybody seen anything like this is an old house? Is this a portal to hell? An important bolt for an underground natural gas line? Does it involve the post right there? Any ideas? My foot is bruised and sore and I'm ready to take a jackhammer to it.