The Vegetable Garden Chronicles Part 2: Taming the Critters

It’s official: We have a rabbit problem.

This month, we planted our vegetable garden. After only one night, our neighborhood rabbits moved in and two of our zucchini plants looked like this:

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After our discovery, we developed a quick plan of action to protect the remaining plants. After researching online, we found that the best method to tame a rabbit problem is to put up a fence. Although we are not fond of the green garden fence, it was one of the most inexpensive solutions for our garden.

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For around $50, we bought two rolls of 2ft tall green garden fence and 15 3ft stakes. Just a note: if you have a deer problem, buy a bigger fence and stakes. Deer can easily scale a fence less 8ft. For cottontail rabbits, you need to install at least a 2ft fence.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-13After installing the fence, we discovered that we also have a squirrel problem. We noticed a few more nibbles after the fence installation.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-17Time for Plan B. We read that sprinkling chili flakes in or around the perimeter of the garden will help keep critters out because they do not like the spicy flavor. It is important to sprinkle the chili flakes at least once a week because rain and time will cause the flakes to lose their effectiveness.

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So far, the chili flakes are working and we are keeping a close eye on our plants for any more nibbles. We will keep you updated!

 

 

The Vegetable Garden Chronicles Part 1: Plants!

It is summer growing season! The threat of frost is gone and the weather warmed up in time for us to plant our vegetable garden this month. Last year, we planted our garden in May and faced a few days of frost and then we replanted some of our vegetables because our seedlings didn’t make it.

We learned a lot from our first vegetable garden and we are putting that knowledge into our garden this year.

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Before planting, we prepped the garden by adding two bags of Miracle Gro garden soil to the existing peat moss. Next, we sprinkled vegetable plant food all over the garden and mixed it in to the soil. Finally, we watered the entire garden and let it set up overnight.

Here is the layout of our garden. We planned the layout to make sure we could strategically fit all the plants. It is a little rough, but you get the idea. 🙂

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Before we started planting, we laid out glass beads to mark the location of each plant.

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We chose a variety of seeds and mature plants. We planted zucchini, watermelon, spinach, sweet corn, romaine lettuce, several varieties of tomatoes, yellow peppers, red peppers and green beans.

The watermelon, yellow peppers, zucchini, yellow tomatoes and grape tomatoes are mature plants.

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Our globe tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, green beans and red peppers, we purchased as Miracle Gro Groables seed pods. Miracle Gro advertises that their seed pods are guaranteed to grow. A few of our seed pods are already sprouting.

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Our beans appeared about two days after we planted.

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We also planted sweet corn as seeds.

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Once the seeds are more mature, I have two bags of mulch to spread through the garden to protect the plants from bugs and weeds. Look for more updates on our garden in upcoming posts!

Bulbs, bulbs, and more tulip bulbs!

Chilly weather finally set in at our house this week, but before the frost arrived, we finished prepping our garden for the coming winter and spring. It may seem a little early to start thinking about spring, but fall is a great time to plant spring flower bulbs. After watching this DIY video from Lowes, I was feeling really ambitious:

In my ambition, I decided to buy 150 tulip bulbs to plant in our garden. At first, 150 bulbs didn’t seem like that many. They came in bags of 50, so three bags seems reasonable, right? I didn’t realize how much it would take to plant 150 tulips. Not to mention the 24 crocus bulbs I also bought. Note for next time: tulips should be planted 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart.Before we started planting, I had this grand vision in my head that we would just dig a few holes and spread the tulip bulbs out. That’s not exactly what happened after I read the planting instructions.

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fbfs_tulipsgalore2 copyIn order to plant all the bulbs in one evening, I recruited BJ to help me. He agreed to dig the holes and I would follow behind and plant each bulb, 6 inches apart and roughly 6 inches deep.

I arranged the bulbs in the on the sidewalk and in the grass near the intended homes of the bulbs. Once I laid out all the bulbs, I realized how much work it was going to take to plant 150 bulbs…

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We started planting during the daylight hours and had to finish well after the dark skies set in. A neighbor walking by commented that she once ran over a tree while attempting to garden at night. I’m not sure what that meant, but I was determined to get all the bulbs planted in the same evening. It’s important to get the bulbs in the ground before the frost comes so they have a chance to survive through the winter. We were getting dangerously close to the first frost of the season.

Thanks to BJ’s help, I was able to get every last bulb planted. We touch nearly every part of the garden while planting so during the following week, I added a fresh layer of mulch, to help protect the bulbs, and tame the unsettled dirt.

As I mentioned, it was well after dark when we finished planting the bulbs so I grabbed a few photos of the gardens the next day. Here is what the unsettled dirt looked like:

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And the finished gardens with mulch: fbfs_tulipsgalore13 fbfs_tulipsgalore11


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Now that all 174 bulbs are planted, I cannot wait to see how they look in the fall. Even if we only have a 50% survival rate through the spring, that is still 75 tulips!

Confessions of a Garden “Gone Wild”

True story: I let our gardens go a little wild this summer.

We were really lucky at the beginning of this summer. It rained every few days, and other than pulling out the occasional weeds, I didn’t spend much time in our gardens after Mother’s Day. As the summer went on, it rained less and less until we entered a drought. Even in a drought, the weeds kept growing and I didn’t stay on top of pulling them.

Last year’s drought was brutal. I spent every day hand watering our potted plants and flower beds just to keep them alive. By late summer, we lost the battle to keep our grass green, our potted plants were dying and I was exhausted. This year, I wasn’t in to spending that much time in the gardens.

Along with the drought and the weeds this year, our hibiscus plants decided they were going to take over. They not only looked overgrown, they covered up one of our sprinklers and it could no longer water the garden and yard effectively.

Instead of ripping the plants out, I wanted to transplant at least one hibiscus in the garden on the other side of the garage. However, I abandoned that idea when the plants put up one heck of a fight.

The hibiscus eventually lost the battle when I cut their roots in several pieces.IMG_7406

After I removed the hibiscus plants and the weeds, our gardens looked dramatically different.

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I also trimmed our cherry blossom bushes and dead-headed a few of the plants that were finished blooming for the summer.

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Lastly, I needed to split the bulbs for our gladiolus. Since I failed at transplanting the hibiscus, I planted the split gladiolus bulbs in the garden on the other side of our garage. Next, I’m going to plant a few spring bulbs in this garden and put down some fresh mulch.

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After I finished the gardens, the pots on our front porch needed some TLC, so I replanted them with mums and aster.

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The outside of our house is ready for fall!

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Until next time! Enjoy your home improvement projects.

An Easy Fall Wreath Project

Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer has already come and gone and I’m now thinking about decorating our house for fall, my favorite season. The other day, I came home and noticed that our neighbors were already decorated for Halloween (still a little early for that, maybe) so I decided to start our fall decorating frenzy by making a fun fall wreath.

In the spring, I made this monogram wreath for out front door. It was such a big hit, and I enjoyed seeing it on our door so much that I decided to make a fall version with a twist. Instead of a monogram letter, I decided to spell out “fall.”

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My fall hydrangea wreath is really easy to make and only requires a few supplies. If you would like to make your own version you will need:

1. A grapevine wreath
2. 5 or 6 hydrangea stems in your choice of colors
3. Wire cutters
4. Wood letters (I found ours at Michael’s)
5. Spray paint in your choice of color(s)
6. A glue gun
7. Ribbon to hang your finished wreath

Before you get started, cut off any tags from your wreath, flowers and letters.
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For our fall wreath, I chose gold, cream and green hydrangeas.

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First, I cut each hydrangea stem to about two inches. This is just enough so that the stems hang out of the back of the wreath, but not so far that they push the wreath away from the door.

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To cut each of the stems, I used wire cutters (and a whole lotta elbow grease!).IMG_7441

The letters I picked out came in a white-wash finish. I like the white letters, but since I chose cream flowers, I wanted to paint the letters something other than white.
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Since I only wanted to paint a few letters for my wreath, I bought this little can of spray paint in a maize color.
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Next, I took my letters outside and coated them with the maize spray paint.
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While the letters were drying, I attached my flowers using hot glue. You can also use floral wire, but I think hot glue is faster, and easier.

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Once my letters dried, I attached them using hot glue.

For the final touch, I added a ribbon loop to hang the wreath.
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And here the finished product!

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Enjoy!

Picking the Perfect Palette: The Loft

Fall is on its way and soon we will be diving in to our indoor home improvement projects. When it comes to painting our house, we always wait until the weather is cool enough to open the windows and pull in some fresh air. Fall is usually a great time because the air is not too moist and sticky. In the meantime, we are deciding on the color that we will paint our half wall in the loft and hallway. I chose a palette of yellow, blue and blue/green paint chips for our alma mater color scheme and taped them to the wall using painter’s tape. Now we can see our choices on the wall while we make our decision.fbfs_colorchoices (6)With this palette, I chose complimentary colors to our existing room colors. We have several different shades of blue in our room which is why I chose the blue and blue/green chips for our palette. I chose the gold and yellow chips to complement our maize yellow pillows. I like the idea of the golds being closer to the shade of the pillows because we do not have several different shades of gold existing in the room.

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The color that we choose for the loft will carry around the half wall and down the catwalk hallway. With that being said, we need to choose a color that compliments both the loft and the hallway. I think I’m leaning toward the golds,  but I can’t make up my mind. I also really like the blues. Decisions, decisions.

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On another note, you might’ve noticed that we have new curtains in our loft. I liked the previous curtains, but they were slightly to short. Some folks like their curtains to be just above the ground but I prefer the curtains to touch the ground. Finding out the curtains I bought were too short was definitely a lesson learned. Always measure before you buy! fbfs_colorchoices (4) copy

When I went back to West Elm, where I bought our gray curtains, I found the same pattern in dark blue. I like the dark blue even better than the light gray and this time I made sure to buy a longer length. fbfs_colorchoices (2) That’s it for now. I’ll keep you posted on our paint chip selection process!

Summer Time and the Decorating is Easy

I love great clearance finds at Target. With back to school season right around the corner, that means summer seasonal items are now on clearance. I love perusing Target for clearance items during these seasonal switches.

Tip: for those who are not familiar with where you can find Target clearance sales, they are sometimes found in the aisles, but they are also on the back side of the aisles. Below is a diagram of what I mean by the “back side of the aisles.”

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My latest Target clearance find is this tall teal vase. It was originally $29.99 and I bought it for $14.98.

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Sometimes you can hold out on these finds and come back a few days later when the prices are marked down even lower. However, you take the risk that the item might not be there when you return.

As soon as I saw this vase, I thought it would look great on our dining room table. I really enjoy decorating the dining room table for each season and I thought this vase would look great with some late summer decor.

I picked out the vase filler below to put in our Crate and Barrel glass vases to compliment the teal vase. The filler is a mixture of floral, greenery and seashells.

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After I added the filler, our Crate and Barrel clear glass vases looked like this:
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For the teal vase, I chose a simple flower arrangement of three sunflowers, two yellow and one white. Because the vase is so tall, if you use big thick flowers you can go simple and let the flowers lean on the edge of the vase. If you want a fuller look, you could add more sunflowers and some additional greenery or filler. You could even leave the vase empty because the color will let it stand on it’s own.

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Our completed table is bright and colorful. I’m really enjoying the color combination of teal, orange, yellow gold, white and green. I love this color combination.

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Have you ever found a great item on clearance and couldn’t wait to bring it home? What’s been your favorite find?

Guest bedroom

Prior to the arrival of our July 4th guests, we made a few updates to the guest bedroom.

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We added curtains, which previously resided in my office and we also arranged a collection of West Virginia postcards on the wall.

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BJ and I both lived in West Virginia for many years, and although I wasn’t born there, it definitely feels like home. If you haven’t been to West Virginia, it’s worth a visit, especially for the beautiful scenery and great people.

While at a family reunion this summer, I picked up a few postcards honoring West Virginia’s 150th birthday. I carefully taped each card into place in a mix of white and black 4×6 frames from Ikea.
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Our guest bedroom now contains a mix of furniture that we will eventually replace. In the meantime, the furniture is serving its purpose. For bedside tables, we are using two old end tables that came with our previous couch set. I think we may keep these end tables, but they desperately need sanded and finished. I’ve added them to my list of fall projects once the weather cools down.

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I’m still debating if I want to try my hand at painting the dresser. It is a hand-me-down dresser from BJ’s college years family and he does not have any sentimental attachment to the piece. Because it is veneered, it will be difficult to paint, or even spray paint. I will have to score the surface before any paint will stick (if it even does). If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I’m interested to know if there is a more effective/easier way to paint veneered furniture or if I should just let it go and buy a different dresser for this room.

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We have a few more projects slated for this room, but here is our progress to date:

1. Hang curtains
2. Add a headboard to the bed
3. Add throw pillows
4. Hang WV postcard collage
5. Update dresser
6. Refinish end tables turned bedside tables
7. Paint?

Two down and five more projects to go! We are well on our way to completing the look of this room.

Creating an Organized and Functional Garage

Over the last few years, BJ has developed a grand plan for organizing our garage and recently he put his plan into action.

One of BJ’s hobbies is working on cars. Since BJ enjoys doing his own car maintenance, we store needed parts, tools and car-washing products to keep our cars looking and driving like new.

We also use our garage to store our outdoor lawn and garden equipment as well as all of our home improvement tools like paint, paint brushes, etc.

Another requirement of our garage storage solution is that it allows enough room to park our cars inside and space to maneuver around when BJ pulls a car in to work on.

I’ve always admired pictures of organized garages, but with all of our stuff, I wasn’t sure we could ever get to something like this:

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BJ proved me wrong after he started hanging the first set of shelves. Our garage already looks clean and organized and there’s plenty of room to get cars in and maneuver around.

Before I briefly explain the process we used to hang these shelves, I must caution that this project is not for one person to complete alone. It really requires two to three (preferably strong) people. Also use extra care when lifting things above your head. BJ enlisted the help of my brother and dad while they were in town visiting for the 4th of July.

The shelves we used are from Ikea and we picked up the 2x4s and 2x6s from our local home improvement store. First, BJ assembled the Ikea shelves as they are seen below in the photo, but then we unloaded them and BJ cut the tall boards in half and assembled two shelves tall by several shelves across. On the back wall of our garage, he made the shelves one shelf tall.

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First, BJ assembled the shelves for the wall on the left side of the garage.

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After the shelves were assembled, BJ bolted a 2×4 to the wall for the shelves to rest on and another 2×4 to the ceiling to hang the shelves and help support the weight. Next, we lifted the shelves section by section while BJ screwed the bolts into the 2×4 mounted to the ceiling. Once all the shelves were bolted in and we loaded our stuff back in, they looked like this:

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BJ also added a few extra shelves all the way to the floor to store items we use often like lawn and garden tools and heavier items like our saw and air compressor.

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On the back wall, BJ mounted three 2x6s to use as shelves for his car wash products, car oil, and filters. He also made a shelf for his laptop so he can look up questions and car parts while he working.

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Underneath of the double shelves, BJ added of different hooks for lawn equipment, brooms, supplies and our bikes.

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Here is our progress to date:

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We have two sets of shelves up, but are not quite finished with this project. The next step is to add more shelves on the right side of the garage. Once, those are complete, we may have more room to store the holiday decorations that are currently overtaking the spare bedroom closet.

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After all the shelves are installed, we have plans to finish the floor so that it looks something like this:

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Fun with Instagram

It has been some time since we’ve updated you on all of our projects but in the meantime, we’ve been posting our progress on Instagram.

In honor of Social Media day yesterday, I wanted to share our recent Instagram posts.

Our Instagram posts (in no particular order) include a trip to Ikea, guest bedroom updates, new wall art, curtains, and a fun new coffee table arrangement.

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And of course, our recent Instagram posts wouldn’t be complete without a photo of Zoey!

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New posts coming soon!