April Showers Brought Plenty of May Flowers

Happy Thursday! The unofficial start of summer is this weekend, but before we kick off the celebrations, I want to take a minute to update you on how our tulips did this spring.

Our tulips started blooming the week before Easter and continued all the way through mid-May. It was exciting to see the variety of tulips as they bloomed. Each week we added a new color to the mix.

I normally share photos taken with my DSLR, but I had so much fun taking photos with my iPhone this spring, that I thought I would share those with you as well.

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We also had another successful year for our hyacinths. They been coming up every spring since I planted them over three years ago. This fall, I will dig up the bulbs and split them so we can have more hyacinths next year.

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Now that the tulips are gone, it is time to trim the plants and get them ready for next spring. Look for more garden posts to come!

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…

fbfs_tulipsgalore3 fbfs_tulipsgalore8 tulipsgalore7In other words, there were tulips bulbs everywhere.

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.

Summer Gardening, Part 2

In our last post, I updated you on our front flower beds. Out in the back yard, our vegetable garden is really taking off. So far this summer, we’ve harvested our first zucchini and fresh parsley.

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Our basil plant is getting really big. We need to start incorporating fresh basil and parsley into our meals so we can use more of our fresh herbs.

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One thing I’ve noticed about our vegetable garden is that it does not need much as maintenance as I originally thought. Other than continual weeding, watering and harvesting, I haven’t spent much time maintaining the garden. I bought plant food when I first planted the seedlings, but haven’t used it yet. The vegetables look like they are holding their own without the extra food.

Our corn is doing really well. I did have to stabilize the stalks a few weeks ago. They were leaning after a heavy rain storm so I put a big clump of dirt next to each stalk and although I was doubtful of my “temporary” solution, the dirt clump did the trick and the corn stalks have stood straight ever since.

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We are starting to see a few ears growing on each of our corn stalks. I can’t wait for fresh sweet corn. Out of all the vegetables we planted, I think I’m most excited to enjoy our fresh sweet corn. Hope it is delicious! fbfs_corn_2

The green beans I replanted are up and hopefully we will have fresh green beans to harvest.
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Our yellow pepper is still going strong. I’m not sure when we will see peppers growing, but I’m still hopeful.

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We have a zucchini and a spaghetti squash that may be ready to harvest in the near future.

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How are your summer gardens?

Summer Gardening, Part 1

This summer has been successful for our gardens. Our efforts started out a little rocky, especially for the vegetable garden, but now we are enjoying the fruits of our labor.

In our front flower beds, the day lilies, hibiscus, gladiolus, petunias and black-eyed susans are looking beautiful this year. Early in the summer, we experienced moderate temperatures and rain which helped keep our flowers happy. They are in better shape than they were during last year’s heat wave.

Here is a peek at our blooming flowers:

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Up next: an update on our vegetable garden.

Lilies!

Our lilies are blooming! Our lilies are blooming!

Can you tell that I’m excited? 🙂

I love spring/summer garden posts. It’s hard work maintaining a garden (as most of you know) so it’s always nice to share the fruits of our labor with those who enjoy/appreciate gardening.

I planted the lilies pictured below right after we moved into our house three years ago. Each year, the lilies keep getting bigger and more beautiful. The first to bloom this year is our stargazer lily.

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I think the lilies below are called “razzle dazzles.” They are a deep rich red color, which I really like.

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One of our tropical lilies is also blooming. Our red lily was the first to bloom this year. We also have a bright orange tropical lily.
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We are still waiting for our orange tiger lily, day lily and orange tropical lily to bloom. More updates to come!

Getting Our Garden On: Take 2

So our first go around at a vegetable garden didn’t work out as planned. Only a few of our seedlings survived the cold weather.

After a few weeks of rain and cold, our garden looked like this:

IMG_5875 (2)All of the seedlings except for our sweet corn and some of our herbs didn’t survive. We were also left with a lot of tiny weeds.

To replace our failed seedlings, I bought a selection of mature vegetables and some garden soil from the Home Depot. These vegetables (and technically “fruits”) came in really neat biodegradable pots that you can plant straight into the ground. To learn more about the biodegradable pots and how to plant them, check out the Bonnie Web site.

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In addition to the mature plants, I also planted new green bean and red pepper seeds. I planted the seeds in garden soil in hopes that the rich soil will produce better results.

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Our sweet corn stalks are doing really well despite a few cold days. The stalks are getting pretty tall compared to when we planted them.

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How are your summer gardens going?

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Before I wrap up this post, did you notice anything different about our photos? I’m working on some upgrades to Frame By Frame Style and this is the debut of our new photo tag. Hope you like it!

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Hello, Hyacinths. Hello, Spring.

Spring has finally arrived! It may be nearly a month since the official start of spring, but with the trees blooming, flowers blossoming and warmer weather, it finally feels like spring.

And with spring weather, comes spring flowers! Our hyacinths are back and in full bloom.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our hyacinths were starting to peek out of the ground. I was really worried they wouldn’t survive the late winter snow storm we had in March, but they persevered. Last week, the hyacinths’ buds were starting to pop open for the first time.

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Now they are in full bloom!
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This is the third season for our hyacinths. Two years ago, I planted them as full-grown flowers and each year they’ve come back. This fall, I might add a few more bulbs so next year we have a full row of hyacinths and tulips. I planted a few tulips when I planted the hyacinths, but I’ve only had luck with one tulip coming back each year. Time to add a few more bulbs and see if they make it through winter.
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It’s almost time to plant annuals for the summer. Here is my late spring/early summer gardening to do list:

1. Plant more petunias.

I had great success with the petunias I planted last year. Despite the severe drought, they spread across the garden and were really beautiful.

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2. Mulch

Last year we added a layer of mulch to our garden, but after several rain storms, it’s time to mulch again.

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3. Plant a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.

I’ve got big plans for a vegetable and herb garden this year.

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I picked up these seeds at Target and it’s almost time to start planting them! BJ and I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and we’re hoping that if all goes well, we will have many homegrown veggies and herbs to choose from!

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There are a few more items that BJ and I thinking about adding to our garden list for the year, such as edging the gardens with stone, but for now, we are going to focus on our first three items and add more as we go. Do you have any big plans for your garden(s) this year?

Showing Our Home Some Love

Yesterday, we went to the first stop on the book tour for Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love and attended the panel session for their new book, Young House Love, 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love. We also had the very awesome, yet very brief, opportunity to meet them when they signed our copy of the book. BJ scored the award for most awesome amazing husband when he left the panel session to snag a place in line so we could get a (very limited) copy of the book. Best husband ever!

Here is our copy:

And… confession… I was super dorky and nervous when I met Sherry and John. I was so excited to tell them that they inspired me to write this blog and how I really enjoyed their blog and projects. I kinda got a little shaky and instead of calmly signing BJ and my name in their book, I think it probably looked more like scribbles. But with all the dorky, nervousness aside, I was super-inspired when we left the book show and I was so glad we went to hear them speak and got a chance to meet them and get a copy of their book.

So what’s makes a book signing with your favorite home improvement and DIY bloggers complete? A trip to Ikea, of course. We left the book signing with me super inspired and recapping the entire presentation for BJ (We tried FaceTime while he was in line, but it didn’t work. Boo.) The great part about all the things that John and Sherry mentioned in their panel session is that we are actually in the process of trying to show our house some love for an upcoming reappraisal. With financing rates as low as they are, we are hoping to take advantage and get a new lower rate on our loan. Part of the process is to have the house reappraised since we are on the edge of a few financing rates.

Sherry and John’s advice during the session was invaluable and some of it I definitely needed to hear… such as “design and use your house for how you live.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting your house to look a certain way because it’s what you think other people will like, but you should design your home for how you live. You’re the ones that live there every day and call your house your home, right?

So with a reappraisal on the horizon and me still inspired from the panel session, here is our “Show Your House Some Love for the Reappraisal To Do List.” Or at least that what I’m calling it.

1. Weed the garden and replant the potted mums

In September, I planted mums in our new pots out front and they looked great until the frost came in and killed them. They looked so pretty after they were planted. It was a bummer they didn’t stand up to the cold temperatures. I tried covering the pots with blankets on the nights they called for frost but it didn’t keep the cold from getting to them.

Today I went back over to Home Depot and picked up some new mums to replace the brown ones on our front porch.

2. Spruce up the loft so it looks like we use the space

Our loft is one of those challenging spaces that were not really sure what do with. But after listening to the Young House Love presentation, we decided to use the room for how we live. Here is the loft in its current state:

My master plan is to use our college alma mater’s colors in a tasteful way. While we were Ikea this weekend, we picked out some Poang chairs with blue cushions and I’m now on the search for some yellow-gold chevron fabric so I can make curtains and pillows We are also going to hang some photos of the stadium and campus. The idea is to make this space a movie/game area inspired by our college. But it has to be tasteful. We’re not about to plaster our school’s logo on the wall with a ginormous vinyl graphic and call it done.

While we were at Ikea, we also found our future loft entertainment/storage center:

3. Organize and clean the spare bedroom and BJ’s office

I haven’t talked much about our spare bedroom or BJ’s office because they weren’t much to talk about. After we moved in to our our house, the spare bedroom and BJ’s office quickly became the two rooms that we stuffed everything into and then ran out and shut the door behind us. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

This weekend, we conducted a major overhaul of the spare bedroom and BJ’s office so they are presentable, usable rooms in time for the reappraisal. And we want to finally use those spaces for the way we live instead of just stuffing them full of items we don’t want to deal with.

4. Finish the crown moulding and baseboard projects

Last year, we started putting up crown moulding in the living room and kitchen and here is where we left off:

We also ripped out the trim in the dining room when we tiled the floor last year and we haven’t had enough time to replace what we tore out.

The remaining crown moulding and baseboard are now purchased and ready to sand, paint and install.

That’s our list! This week we are going to jump in and try get the list accomplished before we have the house reappraised. It’s time to show our home some love. Wish us luck because it could get crazy around here!

Chrysanthe-mums the word

Happy first official day of Autumn! The weather is beautiful here today. I hope it’s as beautiful where you are!

In preparation for the start of Autumn, I decorated our front porch with new pots full of beautiful chrysanthemums.

=-] <;— Quick side note: As Zoey walked across my keyboard she somehow entered that smiley face. So I guess she likes the new mums!

Ok, back to the task at hand. I decided to go with taller pots for our porch mums this year. And these were on clearance at Home Depot. Winning!

Last year, I had several small pots and two pumpkin pots for Halloween. Here is what our porch looked like last year:

This year, instead of planting the same color mums in the same pots, I decided that wasn’t exciting enough so I planted two colors in the larger pots and planted one color in the smaller pots. And after I finished throwing potting soil everywhere, the finished product of our pots looked like this:

Our porch is looking very festive for the first day of Autumn. I really like the larger pots. They are more visible on our porch.

That’s all for this post! I think I will celebrate Autumn with some hot apple cider on this chilly windy day. Have a great weekend!