Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yard Work


 The year I moved in, after the
great yard destruction, I planted a few things.  This spot is VERY shady and says fairly wet most of the summer.  I thought maybe some Hostas could tolerate the shade and the wet.  Well, the massive amounts of summer rain seemed to drown even the hostas, because by the end of summer, they were wilted. And after the winter I thought for sure they were all dead.

 The next Spring, a neighbor of mine suggested that the hosta roots might still be viable and that they would live if I moved them.  I thought for sure they had met the truth death. What you know? In the Spring they started to poke their little heads out of the dirt. Not wanting a repeat of the previous year, I decided to move them. I found them a shady and much less wet spot towards the back of my yard and in a few months, I had the picture on the right.  Pretty cool.

 I decided to start putting some plants in the ground around the house.  It wasn't much, but it was a start.  I had no idea plants could be so expensive!

In the bed by the bay window, I moved both Hydrangeas from other parts of the yard, put in three Aquilegia Songbird Cardinals (red and white Columbines), two generic Foxgloves, and some Stargazer Lily.  I also planted a Vanilla Spice Clethra, but it didn't make to this year. So sad. Later that year I planted a Caramel Coral Bells.  Darn thing cost me $12! It was an impulse buy, and I'm so happy I bought it because it's one of my favorites. Worth every red cent.

 I suppose it was pretty sorry looking that year.  Still, I insist that it was an improvement over three prickly aphid invested Pyracantha.

It's been two years since I moved into the house.  The yard isn't where I want it to be, but it's definitely better than when I moved in.  The picture of the right was taken this spring after everything started to bloom.  The Hydrangeas are gorgeous, the Columbines were pretty as ever, the Coral Bells is so much bigger than I thought it would be, and there are hostas all over the place. There is still work to do this fall; mostly moving more hydrangeas. Overall, I just love it. It's so rewarding to see the results of your labor grow and bloom.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Been A Long Time

You know, I never have been able to keep up with a journal. I guess it's no surprise that I can't keep up with this blog.  But as I was reading over old posts today, I realized how much my yard and house have changed in the last two years and I thought that some of that might be worth writing about.  So, I think I'll post some new pictures of the yard soon. I'll probably post 3-4 times this summer, and then forget all about my blog again come this fall.  Such is life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Great Yard Destruction

Last week (or was it the week before?) I decided that my back yard needed an overhaul.  I don't know where I got the gumption to tackle the back yard - maybe it was the cooler weather or something, but I finally got to it.

Unfortunately, I only have this one lousy before picture for you. I really need to remember to take pictures BEFORE I decided to overhaul something!

The only thing that you can really see here that I removed are the Pyracantha sticking up. Well, right there were three Pyracantha planted behind 2 carpet roses - making it next to impossible to get in behind the roses and trim them properly.

Also near there I identified three vines as Japanese Honeysuckle. It smells divine when it's in bloom, but it grows outrageously fast, reaches out and chokes the life out of anything near it, and it spreads via underground runners - so it pops up in places you didn't even plant it. It is an evil invasive vine and I hate it. I decided to dig it out.  Here are a few pictures of the detritus left over from the back yard battle.I tore all of this out of my yard inside of 1 week!


8 Pyracantha - 2 smallish and 6 medium sized pyracantha got yanked, 3 of which were infested with wooly aphids! They are terribly thorny, bear reddish berries that are a pain in the butt to clean up, and the birds don't even eat them. I've seen several mature pyracantha on campus and they are lovely, but these were all planted in the wrong places and looked sickly. The picture to the right shows where the 3 infested pyracantha used to live.

I plan to amend the soil here and turn the area into a flower bed for perennials. The area gets some morning sun and dappled sun throughout the afternoon. There are already some hydrangeas there - they don't looks so hot either though. I'm not entirely sure what I'll plant just yet, but I'm leaning towards a Virgina Sweetspire back towards the house.

Another 3 pyracantha used to live behind the roses in the picture to the left - one for each trellis. The roses, by the way, are carpet roses. They are supposed to grow 24"-32" tall. In the picture below, some of the stems are over 5' long! Needless to say, they will be cut back severely in January.

 The only problem here now is that the pyracantha did provide some privacy from the street. I might need to find something less bulky to go behind the roses to do that job now.

1 large Pyracantha - It's in the picture to the right in front of the air conditioning unit. You can't even tell what it is in this picture.  It had been cut back several times and was also infested with wooly aphids. I don't think I could have salvaged it even if I had wanted to.

I need to find something to plant in its place to cover up the AC unit since you can see it from the street now.  This spot gets great morning light and afternoon shade, so I'm thinking I might try a clematis here - one with dark purple blooms.

6 Japanese Honeysuckles - 3 large, 3 small - The three that came out of that huge hole in the ground you see to the left had sent runners 12-20 feet into my yard and all along the patio! I HATE this vile vine almost as much as I hate Smilax!

I'm thinking another perennial bed will go here. So many of the perennials that grow well here need full sun though and this spot gets little morning light, some heavy but brief afternoon sun, and dappled sun the rest of the afternoon. Planting suggestions for this spot are welcome.

I've recently installed a bed of Hostas to the left of the picture above, but I haven't taken photos yet. I'll do that soon though.

My awesome new roommate, Saalem, had a soil test run at the Clemson Extension office.  The soil is rather acidic, so I need to add some lime before I plant.  It's also very low in phosphorous and potassium.  If I had a compost pile I'd amend the soil with that, but I don't - at least not yet. In lieu of that, I'm going to add a combination of lime, composted manure, mushroom compost, and traditional fertilizer before I plant anything new.

The plan now is to buy some garden edging and define the bed space.  I'd use landscape timbers, but I like the idea of curvy beds. Once that is done, I'll amend the soil and get the beds ready for a spring planting!

Upstairs Hall Makeover

I finished this ages ago, but just got it together to post about it. Typical.  So, this is what the upstairs hall looked like when I moved in this summer.
And this is what it looks like now.
I painted the trim, walls and shelves. For the back of the bookcase I used some subflooring and cut it to the size of the opening.  I then pasted a textured wall paper on to that. Here is a close-up of it unfinished.
I painted it light gray (I mixed some white trim paint with a little sample of black paint that I had left over), then used a metallic glaze over that. And because I'm ADD, I spray painted the hardware to match.
I have since then rented out my upstairs so now I don't even get to use it. Typical.

Neglected Blog

I've been meaning to update this forever! I've done tons of work in my yard and around the house and I haven't posted about any of it. I will soon.

I also haven't posted about my workouts. That's because they are virtually nonexistent. My foot is better, more or less. It turns out the the magic cure is a pair of very expensive shoes - the ugliest shoes on the planet - made by MBT.

I told you they are ugly! One month of wearing them though and my plantar fasciitis is almost nonexistent - just like my workouts. I still haven't made it back into the gym on a regular basis. I've been going to yoga on Monday evenings on most weeks.  Why is it so hard to get back into once you're out of the habit of going? It used to be so easy to work into my everyday schedule and now...

Watch for new posts in the next week or so.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Geek Life - WinEdt 5.5, Adobe Acrobat 10 Fix

I recently got a new desktop computer at work which is, in my humble opinion, totally badass.  It's running Windows 7 64-bit on an Intel Core i7, the CPU runs at 3.4GHz and it has 8 GB of RAM. Yeah, it's screaming fast.

However, since I have the 64-bit version of Windows 7, some of the features (ones I use naturally) in Adobe Acrobat 7 didn't work. So, I upgraded Acrobat to version 10. While that fixed the previous problems, it caused new ones! Figures.  Nothing can ever be easy.

Upgrading to Acrobat 10 caused this warning to appear when converting a dvi to pdf in WinEdt 5.5:

"Cannot open DDE link to:
Service: acroview
Topic: control
DDEOpen('%$("AcroRead")'," acroview","control",0);

To me, this made NO sense at all because the pdf file would appear as normal. I would then have to OK the warning. Grrrr. And if that wasn't enough, the file Acrobat_OpenDoc.edt would open up in a new WinEdt tab highlighting the line of code causing the warning. This meant that EVERY TIME I converted a dvi to a pdf, a warning would appear that I needed to click on to get rid of and this file would open up and I would have to close it.

Have I mentioned that I convert dvi files to pdf files probably 100+ times a day? Say it takes 10 seconds to get rid of the warning and close the file.  That means I'd spend 16+ minutes clicking on warnings and closing useless files every day. Not only is that unbelievably annoying, I have much better ways to spend that 16 minutes, right? I could be writing new blog posts with that time!

The fix? Change one line of the Acrobat_OpenDoc.edt file from this:

DDEOpen('%$("AcroRead")'," acroview","control",0);

to this

DDEOpen('%$("AcroRead")'," acroviewA10","control",0);

A similar warning would appear if I tried to convert a dvi to a pdf while the previous pdf file was open from the previous conversion. The solution is to fix the same line of code in Acrobat_CloseDoc.edt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hand-Me-Down Mirror Makeover

The former owners of my house left me this lovely (ugh) mirror.
 And this lovely eye sore above my mantle to go with it. I swear these people were the laziest homeowners ever!
 I taped off the mirror, primed it (shown below) and painted it "Ivory Brown" - a left over Valspar sample I had from another project .
 I followed that up with two coats of a craft paint in a metallic finish called "Champagne" that I picked up on sale for 75 cents. Voila - a glamorous mirror for my glamorous guest bedroom! Best 75 cents I've ever spent.

Hand-Me-Down Dresser Makerover

Among the massive amount of furniture and whatnot left in my house by the previous owners was this dresser.  It's functional, but not really my style at all.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can't.  Not long after moving into the house and acquiring this hand-me-down dresser, I read about this dresser makeover and thought I'd give something similar a try. I figured even if I spent $100 making over this dresser to go in my guest bedroom, it's still cheaper than buying a new one and I get a one of a kind, custom piece of furniture out of the deal.  So why not?

First, I removed the old knobs and pulls and filled the holes with wood filler.

I then gave the dresser a quick once over with the orbital sander and applied two thick coats of an oil based primer, just like Kate from Centsational Girl said to do.  I always wondered how to get a nice clean even surface when painting wood furniture, and this is it. Two coats of an oil based primer followed up with a quick sanding makes the most lovely surface for painting.

Next I went about painting the dresser, applying two coats (three where necessary) of Olympic's "Delicate White" paint. I used a semi-gloss because I wanted a high shine surface when I was finished.  Also, the insides of the drawers had seen better days, so I measured them and then cut some wallpaper I had lying around from a previous makeover to fit inside the drawers.

I used a glue stick to glue them down, and voila! I like the effect. It's a nice surprise when you open the drawers to find a little sparkle waiting for you.

I finished it off with a couple of coats of Polycrylic to protect the paint job - one coat on the body, two and the drawers, and four (two then sand, then another two!) on the top since it will see the most wear and tear.

Finally, I ordered some lovely glass knobs and pulls from Cool Knobs And Pulls (CKP). This was by far the most expensive part of the makeover. But seriously, after putting in a ton of hours painting this thing, it was worth it to me to splurge a little on the knobs and pulls, which, with shipping and handling, came to not quite $90.

Here it is in it's new home, the upstairs guest bedroom, just waiting for some friends to visit and put it to good use.  Until then, it'll will just have to sit around looking pretty.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Listening To The Universe

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not religious in the least. I do not believe in God. I believe in religion even less. However, I do believe in “The Force.” That is, I believe in an energy which connects every living thing across time and space. Further, I think that this force speaks to us, guides us and protects us.
It was pointed out to me this evening that I am extraordinarily stubborn. Much to my chagrin, I have to admit that this is a fairly accurate statement. I have been injured in one way or another for quite some time now.  At best, I have ignored these injuries and at worst, I have complained about them bitterly. I supposed it’s not surprising then that these injuries, which started out somewhat mild, have progressed to the point where I have to choice but to address them.

I think that the Universe has been trying to tell me to slow down and take care of myself and my body. I think it started out as a whisper and I ignored it. After all, I am pretty stubborn.  Now that whisper is more like a bad 80’s hair band playing in my living room.  I have no choice but to listen.

So, I’m listening. I am going to start looking at my injuries differently. That is, not as the bane of my existence, but as an opportunity to take care of myself and start healing my body. After my last post, I took 30 minutes to stretch and I’m surprised at how much better it made me feel. Not only did it make my body feel better, but it calmed my mind too. Considering that my stress level has been rising at a break neck speed, as evidenced by what feels like rocks in my back, I need to relax.  Big time.

I’m not any good at this. I don’t know how to relax. I don’t know how to slow down. I’ve never been able to meditate and any time I start a stretching or yoga program I do it for a day, two at most, and revert to my old ways.  At this point, this kind of behavior is no longer an option. I hurt all over. My left foot, my right ankle, my right knee, my hips, my lower back, my mid back, my upper back, both of my shoulders, and my neck hurt. I can’t live like this.

What, exactly, am I going to do about it? First and foremost I’m going to take better care of my body. I’m going to look for a decent yoga class to go to once, but ideally twice a week. Once upon a time, I did have one I liked to go to, and it did wonders for my body and mind. I’m going to stretch on my own for 60-90 minutes a day. Yes, that’s a long time, but right now I have that kind of time and no excuse not to do it. I will also continue to, or rather be more consistent about icing, massaging, and stretching my left foot. Second, I’m going to clean up my diet. My diet is not all that bad right now, but it could be better. Wheat bloats me to no end and makes me feel puffy and soft. Wheat is out. I often try to avoid it, but have been backsliding a lot lately. Also, my alcohol consumption has been slowly but surely increasing over the course of the last 3 weeks.  I tend to drink less when I’m exercising regularly and since I haven’t been doing that I’ve been drinking more. This has got to stop. I make the worst decisions about what to eat when I’ve been drinking. So, I’m going back to my old stand-by rule for alcohol: no more than 2 in a night an no more than 4 in a week. Finally, I haven’t been drinking nearly enough water – back to 2-3 liters a day.

I could probably use to do more, but this is enough for now and a darn good start. I just hope the Universe agrees.

Puddle of Misery

I haven’t posted in a long time. This is why.

I am working on various projects around the house – all in various stages of completion, but none of them far enough along to post about. I’m hoping that a few of them will come together soon so that I can share what I’ve been working on. Seems like even the smallest projects take forever to complete.

In other news, I’m rather depressed. I missed going to my chiropractor last week because I was in all day workshops in Florence last week. I thought that keeping off of my feet would help the plantar fasciitis, but it is worse this week, even though I wear my new tennis shoes with special insoles religiously. I’m really frustrated with it. I haven’t had a workout in over 3 weeks! I feel like if my stupid foot is going to hurt like this I might as well be high on some exercise endorphins. See, I’ve recently come off of one of the two anti-depressants that I was on, Zoloft. Exercising really helps with the depression and not being able to work out is making me pretty miserable. Not to mention flabby. And as if that wasn’t enough, my right knee is starting to hurt from trying to keep my weight off of my left leg. I feel like my body is just breaking down on me! I’m only 37 years old. WTH?? I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I know that being on my feet working on my house is probably what is making my foot worse, but I can’t just lie around! It would probably be in my best interest to just go into work every day and sit at my desk 10 hours a day. But summer II starts in 2.5 weeks and once that happens I know I won’t have any time to work on the house at all.

So, that’s it. I’m a puddle of misery today. Most days I don’t feel quite so bad, but seems like today I’m having myself a little pity party. It happens to the best of us, right?