Friday, July 24, 2020

late july gardens

Hello friends! Summer is in full swing here in Illinois and I wish it would never end. It's such a short season here. I love the sunshine, all the flowers and the green lushness of the landscape. I don't like the humidity, but it sure beats our loong, gray, bitterly cold winters.

On July 20th, we moved into this house 30 years ago. Hard to believe we've been here this long. Will we stay here "forever"? Hard to say.

As always with being a home owner, there's projects to be done. Yesterday, Brian worked on putting in edging on the new front sidewalk, while supervised by Clementine.

The dreaded mulberries have finally stopped falling, for the most part. We can once again use our patio. And walk on the walkway without stepping on mulberries and smelling rotting ones and having buzzing, nasty flies all over the place.

But now the patio is stained and filthy from all the berries, so Brian will have to power-wash it. The projects just never end!

One new thing we just bought for the patio is this Suncast deck box. It holds all the patio seating cushions and pillows. Every time we'd have a threat of rain, we'd have to remove all the cushions and pillows and bring them into the garage...then haul them back out again. Not only a pain, but we also didn't have room in the garage to store them. They were thrown willy-nilly in the garage, piled on top of whatever we could find.

Now all we need is another cushion to put on top of the deck box, so that we have extra seating. I'm waiting until next month when outdoor items go on clearance.

My butterfly garden is in full bloom now and brings so much color and beauty to the back yard. It attracts more bees than butterflies, but that's OK ~ we certainly need the bees, too.

Our back yard may be small, but it's peaceful and mostly private, so it's our little slice of heaven. Brian and our oldest son planted these arborvitae trees about 17 years ago, when they were only three feet high. They're the perfect natural privacy fence.

Our cherry tomato plants really took off this year. They're over six feet tall! I've been picking lots of tomatoes every day. We've had caprese salad twice already, so now I'm going to cook down the tomatoes with onions and garlic and use it as a sauce over grilled chicken.

We are so pleased with how the coleus filled out on the north side of the house in-between the hostas and ferns, except...

some varieties grew much bigger than others. Here we thought we were doing so well back in the spring when we planted coleus, by leaving plenty of room for each plant. Little did we know that some spread and overtake other plants and some grow tall and don't spread much.

And then another variety barely grew at all! (The one to the right.) Now I know why some gardeners keep notebooks on what worked for them and what didn't. I'd never remember any of this next year. Guess next spring I'll be referring back to my blog!

We have a new cardinal family right outside our kitchen window. I watched Mama build her next in three days, then saw her sitting in her nest for what seemed like a couple of weeks, and now...babies! There's only two of them. It's fascinating to watch both Mama and Daddy Cardinal feed the babies multiple times a day. Daddy Cardinal tends to feed quickly and not stick around; Mama Cardinal takes longer with the feedings and then hangs around and fluffs in her nest and fusses over the babies. I talk to her out the window and tell her she's such a good mama. 🐦

I hope you are having a good summer and are healthy and staying safe.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

curtains and a new rug

Hello, friends!

In my last post I showed you how I was getting the guest bedroom put back together. But before I forget, a couple of people had asked me the name of this paint color that we used. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't remember! All I remember is that it was Behr paint that has primer in it. I looked on the paint can and the name is not on there. We used this color in our kitchen and in Brian's office, too, so you'd think I'd remember. If I eventually find out, I promise I will let you all know.

I finally got the curtains hung in this room. I still need to have Brian hang the iron "chandelier" in the corner above the dresser and we might possibly hang a heavy mirror on the other side of the room. And I found some pretty contact paper on Amazon for the closet shelf which came in the mail today, so that will be another small project to work on. Slowly, but surely.

I wanted some kind of tie backs for the curtains to hold them together in the middle. Previously, I used pieces of ribbon I had lying around. I wanted something nicer-looking this time. I went looking on Amazon and found these magnetic curtain clips.

 Aren't they pretty? They were easy to use and look much nicer than a piece of ribbon.

Here's the other window in the room where I have my desk.

I liked these magnetic curtain clips so much that I ordered another style for our bedroom curtains. I always had the gray curtains pulled to the side (closed at night ~ they're blackout curtains) and just the sheers hanging down over the blinds, but I like this new look. I would've taken a photo of the entire window ~ the curtains look the same on the other side ~ but I have a standing fan in front of the window and a pile of clean, folded on Brian's nightstand, so I left that reality out of the photo. 😉 The two framed photographs on the wall are our son's work.

I finally found a new rug for Brian's office! I've been looking for about six months. I've looked online and in stores. I've even purchased various rugs and ended up returning them because they didn't look good. This is a small room and we didn't want a rug taking up the entire space. We also didn't want a thick rug, as Brian's desk chair needs room to roll back without getting caught on a rug. His desk and desk chair are to the immediate left as you look into this room. You can see a peek of his desk chair wheel in the photo, if you look closely.

 I was at TJ Maxx the other other day and was not even looking for rugs. I happened to walk by a display stand with folded rugs on it and this cotton one caught my eye. I unfolded it and thought it might work. Brought it home, laid it on the floor and thought, "I think this is it." Brian got home from work, took one look at it and said, "Yes!" So it's a keeper.

As always, thank you for visiting and for your kind comments. They are much appreciated. 
Be well and safe.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

getting the guest room put back together

I managed to sneak in a photo of the guest room just starting to be painted while the painters went outside for a break. Here you can see they had already painted the window trim white and were starting on the yellow walls.

 When the painters were done and had left, I vacuumed and mopped the floors. We had to leave the windows open even though it was hot because they used Zinsser primer on the window frames which smells really bad. Running the AC made things worse because it carried the odor throughout the entire house.

At first I thought maybe the painters only put on one coat of paint, because the walls still looked light yellow to me. Also, I had a few people ask me about the flooring. It's Bruce engineered hardwood from Home Depot. We have it throughout the entire first floor (kitchen, living room, hallway and three bedrooms) of our house. We had the kitchen done first, about 20 years ago. And it still looks great. The only downside to these floors is that they do dent and scratch easily. So I would imagine if you had dogs, this flooring wouldn't be a good choice because of their nails.

 The next day when the paint had settled down a bit and the light wasn't shining directly on the walls, I could see that they were indeed a cream color. This color of paint does have some yellow undertones, but we knew that before we bought it. It's the same color we have in our kitchen and Brian's office.

We spent all day moving furniture back into the room, hanging a few pictures on the walls, washing blinds and getting those hung up. 

I wanted to arrange the furniture differently in the room this time, and we tried about five different arrangements and none of them worked. So back to the way it was. I'm really liking the cream colored walls instead of yellow ones. And what a difference white window trim makes instead of brown! The whole room looks so much cleaner. I washed the curtains for the windows and ordered some curtain clips from Amazon to keep them cinched in the middle. Those just came in the mail today, so I'll be hanging the curtains tomorrow.

I'm still deciding what to put on the walls in this area. I had Phil's memory shelf above the bookcase before. Now I'm thinking of hanging a large mirror (that used to be in the living room) above the bookcase instead and making the top of the bookcase the memorial area. I'd like to get some new prints of Phil made and then find some beautiful frames.

 Lest you think I'm organized and have everything in place...take a look at the closet! It's mostly my scrapbooking and art journal stuff, as well as boxes of photos and my bulletin board. I need to find some pretty Contact paper for the shelf and paint the closet rod. I didn't want to put everything back into place until that was done.

We've been having weather in the 90's with heat indexes of 100, so indoor projects are a good thing to get done right now.

Have a good week!

Friday, July 3, 2020

answers to your questions about the mulberry tree ~ and a new project

Hi everyone ~ there were a lot of questions in my last two posts about my neighbor and her mulberry tree that's dropping mulberries all over our patio and walkway, so I thought I'd start out by answering those questions.

Here's me one morning last week, surveying the mulberry damage before cleaning it up. Notice the patio is now cleared off except for one chair and the grill. That one chair has now been moved into the back yard with the rest of the furniture.

Can you attach a big net from the roof of your house to the fence?
No, we can't because the fence isn't ours. It's the neighbor's fence, so we can't attach anything to it. Also, the berries fall along the entire length of the house, not just over this patio area. There wouldn't be any netting big enough to cover the area.

When do the mulberries stop falling?
They fall for 4-5 weeks.

Do you know if she uses the berries?
No, she doesn't. They are all over her yard, walkway, staircase to her deck, and the deck itself. Obviously, she and her daughter and granddaughter (that live with her) don't care.

I wonder if moving might be in your future?
Not in our immediate future. We've lived here 30 years and have spent a lot of money these past few years fixing up the house. Housing in our town is inexpensive. If we sold this house now, there is nowhere else we could move in the Chicago area that we could afford. We can't move out of the Chicago area, as Brian still has five more years at his job until he retires.

Could you set up your patio table and chairs elsewhere in your yard?
There is nowhere else to put them. We live on a very small piece of property. The set is currently in the back yard, but it looks "funny" back there in the middle of the grass.

Later PS: I received a comment and another email about trimming the neighbor's tree branches that overhang our property. Yes, this has been done several times. I talked about it in my previous posts. It barely did any good. This is a huge tree that even with trimmed branches, manages to drop mulberries all over our property simply because it is so tall and wide.

On a more positive note, Brian and I worked on totally clearing out the guest room yesterday. It's currently yellow, which I initially loved, but after about eight years, I'm tired of it. It's too bright for me and I also think it brings out the yellow undertones in the wood floors, which I don't like. Painters are here right now, painting the room a cream color. They are also painting that ugly, faux wood window trim white.

Everything from the guest room...the mattress, bed frame, dresser, desk, bookshelf, pillows, bedding, curtains, blinds, everything from the closet, plants and knick knacks...are now in the tiny room next door, which used to be Tim's room and is now Brian's office.

Somehow, Brian managed to squeeze into the room to get his work clothes out of the closet.

After a long day yesterday, this is what we both felt like! Besides cleaning out the guest room, we also did yard work and washed windows. But washing the kitchen window proved to be a bit disastrous...

We have windows that tilt in for cleaning and long story short, something happened where one of the hinge pins inside the track broke off and Brian couldn't get the window back in. After fooling around with it for a long time and hearing a lot of swearing, I texted our nice neighbor that lives on the other side of us, to see if he could help. He came over and helped Brian for about 45 min. I was losing hope as they were working, especially as this neighbor is a DIYer who put in windows on his house and is also a roofer. I thought they were just going to have to leave it and put plastic over the window until we could get a window repair person out here. We certainly couldn't leave the window open as we're running the AC constantly. It's been 90F here and will be even hotter this coming week. 

They finally got the window temporarily put back into place and Brian called Home Depot where we got our windows from. We won't even be getting a call back from a service person for 3-5 business days. Good thing we're not living with plastic over an open window!

Have a wonderful weekend and a safe Fourth of July.