Thursday, October 20, 2016

Garden Jobs for the weekend (or October depending how quickly you get it done :-)

Collect Seeds
I started this a few weeks back but take the time to collect up any seeds you want to re sew next spring.  Foxgloves, lady mantle, poppy's are all on my list.  I also spent some time purchasing some seeds as now seems to be the time i remember what i want and have a plan for where to sew it.

Plant Bulbs
Ive done the easy bit, buying them.  Now its time to get to work and plant them all before i run out of time.  I keep it simple with alliums, daffodils, tulips, croquosus and grape hyacinth.  Im trying to get blue bells to naturalize in the woods as well so i will add to them but for some reason they didn't do so well last year.  The grape hyacinth seems to prefer the ground so I'm definitely putting a whole bunch more in

My favorite ! Plant trees now. Immediately.  GO BUY ONE.  There basically giving them away at any nursery right now.  Last weekend i put in a new apple tree in to the small orchard, and i may move the dogwood that i planted i there and add another cherry.  This time of year the soil is still warm.  In upstate new york too warm and not enough water, but non the less, get a tree in, give it some water and off it goes.

Everything is starting to go on sale right now.  So get out there and see what you need.  Time to plant roses (i planted 3), plant irises (i planted 8), plant peonies (I'm up to 6 more so far) plant hydrangeas (i planted 4).  I can't stress enough how great it is to do it now.  Theres no instant gratification like in the spring so it takes that little bit more motivation.  The plants often look like there dead, or close to it at this time of year as well so that doesn't help.  But you will get such great benefits next spring.  They get to settle in, put there feet under the cover and snuggle down for the winter.  Just keep them watered in well, especially if we have another dry winter.  The will reward you next year.  Also look out for larger shrubs on sale, especially at Home Depot and the likes.  They are just trying to clear the place out so there is some good deals to be had.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September update

There's many things to love in this world but always find one thing, one passion. Friends may scoff but find one thing you do, just one that you love and share it... 
That's what working in the gardening is to me. I was planting some new finds after a wonderful day at Hollister house and gardens (photos to follow) and I couldn't have been happier. The sun was fading, the weather was cooling and the peace was all around me. It's a moment like no other. So with that thought I will share some updates in the garden and also what you need to be doing now in the garden....
September is a busy time :
Collecting seeds
Planting bulbs
Moving perennials that need more space, or just need a new home. 

This month is all about planning for next spring/summer, a time to look forward and plan. At the cottage I'm widening the white border another 2 ft to give everything more room and to let it really make a statement. I want a sea of foxgloves, with a swath of lupines, amongst all my other favorites. This seemed easier said than done as i spent last weekend moving giant field stones, but when i get the intent i go with it.  Suddenly it all made more sense, i was cramming small plants under the larger shrubs, they lupins were suffering for lack of light, so now everything can breath and grow! MOre importantly i get to put more plants in.

Before the work

You can see here the marking out process

Glamour shot :-)
You'll have to wait for an after shot, as i spent Sunday adding a truck load of soil and more needs adding

This is not a proper after shot, but here you can the bed growing wider, i can barely remember a last spring when there was no flower bed here.  Below was just after i put the fence up with the initial willow wips and other native brambles

This continues to be my favorite section of the garden, and i treated myself to a few more boxwoods.  I added four more.  After haggling with the garden chap to give me a deal on a few less than perfect balls and then i got two good green ones as well.  This time of year is the best time to get shrubs in, there all on sale.  You can see below the 2 on the far left are new and the two on the little hump behind the triple ball are new.  The loveliest thing about all the boxwoods is that they are eternally green and this looks so wonderful all year round.  I will of course add more, and this weekend i pulled out the old wild rose just behind those two left balls.  I want to start working on a woodland walk, but that will be a fun autumn project.  Also in the next few weeks more bluebells will be going in so i get a beautiful carpet in the spring.  I started last autumn but will so few that they barely were noticeable so i got to really do it this time.  This is where friends are essential!

Obsessed  with my basked back pack find 

This is a really fun project.  Over the bridge I dug a cut flower garden.  Im liberated from my self imposed colour schemes.  I have pink (yes PINK!) roses and peonies and iris, then there will be more spring planted bulbs to go in.  Giving flowers to friends and having them in the house is something i love (I know i know, I cant believe I write this stuff, but there really is nothing better than giving someone a bunch of flowers)

Glamour shot part 2...

ANOTHER fun project.  Who doesn't love an alée of trees.  Here i am planting the ornamental flowering pear trees.  Ryan and Scott they may or maynot be perfect for a spring wedding, just saying....
There is 6 total and they create an axis up to the fire pit.  They just went in so will really come into there own next year.  There is always so much to get done September as its a race till the first frost and you want to get the plants in with enough time to get there feet under the covers so to speak.

The orchard looks a little bit of a mess.  Im not sure what to do underneath the trees.  Eventually the grass will just go up to the trunks but when there young like this is good to give them soil and keep the grass away as not to compete for moisture and nutrients.  Im just mulching and having to put up with it not being perfect for this year 

Here the pear trees are being trained over the bench.

Just putting up a rope for the wisteria to grow along.  Its really shot up in the last few months so Im excited for next spring, fingers crossed for those beautiful purple blooms 

Ill leave you with some shots of Holister house and Garden in CT.  If your up there you must visit. It make me want to garden constantly.  That said if you need any garden advise, planning etc drop me an email

Last shot, the clematis Montana is blooming up a storm.  This time of year is always hard as the garden becomes so tired with little blooming, so its nice to have this showy climber.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

REPOST!!>>>Weekend in Review..its all about the Kitchen

I was just reading about Plain English, the very expensive and wonderful cabinet making coming stateside over on remodeilsta (my go to interior blog).  It reminded me of my inspiration point for my kitchen but with a wildly different budget.  I think i did all the cabinet work for about $1000 dollars.  Not bad for an oak painted kitchen, I love ikea but i love real wood better.  The handles were picked up in hong kong so this amount doesn't include air fare :-) Take a look and scroll to the bottom for some updated photos....

I seem to always be pulling a ceiling down.....This weekend was no exception, but not to the extent of the living room.  In the kitchen I wanted to leave the lath, which is the thin strips of wood that are nailed up to the beams to hold the plaster on/into.  So off I went making a mess and pulling a whole burnch of plaster down.  This had to happen as the ceiling had that awful texture that makes it look like the top of a cup cake on it (thats a technical term).  So even if the lath or beams weren't good under there it had to come down.  I feel like the house is totally working with me as it came down and revealed just what i wanted underneath it.  The greatest thing about this house is that it doesn't matter what any body else thinks about it! Some people may think this looks messy, or not finished but it couldn't be more perfect for me. Heres the before shot..


As the process begins, putting tarps down helps the clean up
and really makes clean up that little bit better (translation it
still is the worst part)
Me in the dusk at 9pm and you can see all the
crap that comes down as you start to pull it
down, its a process!
hello my beautiful ceiling, at this point i was just happy it was done.  I really should save
these projects for when people are here, but i have not patience i just want to get it done
I am my mothers son...

It looks like a disaster in this shot, well a lot like
a disaster.
The worst, lugging all the crap to the dump, this is
the bit i would love to pay someone to do 

then this guy had to go, would look good in another
kitchen but not mine..
oh thats me, I innocently thought i would just take the tap
(faucet) off and then it ended looking like the below

One thing led to another, it was interesting getting that
heavy cast iron sink out alone, i did a kind
of rolling technique 
At this point there is no turning back, i have no sink
and a room full of rubble, i chose to think of this as

Somewhere in amongst all this I had a washing machine and tumble dryer delivered.  Yes this out of everything feels the most grown up.  Thankfully I found a used set on craigslist so I didnt have to spend a ton on a grown up things like this.  There used but Kitchen Aid brand so a good brand that can be (inevitably) fixed and repaired.  Im in love with these shark bite connectors for plumbing. I moved the faucet outlets over, put the supply box in for the washing machine, moved the electric so its above the water line.  Never a good idea to have them too close.  Please note the use of a can lid to cover a hole in the shelf? No idea why they did this but i kept it.  Secretly love all of these weird make do and mends.  The plumbing was way easier than i thought and was smooth sailing.

Shark bite T's
Electric moving  

This is the wall behind the kitchen so all the plumbing is
exposed in the utility room so makes working with it
really simple.  Pvc pipe going in.  Im telling  you the glue
they use to put this stuff together is potent, no wonder
plumbers are always smiling
Probably should have cleared the shelves of the china first
but as you can see I just went ahead and work around it.
This again is the pantry/utility room and its amazing, all
the mess and tools are in here, its going to be a great
project room !

Glamour shot of the new stop tap box and the washing
Even more glamorous shout of the washing machine
out let to the drain. 

Now that something essential like the washing machine was in and working i can move onto more exciting developments.  The dryer not so much, I need a 240 volt outlet installed and as much as I would like to try this I have to draw the line somewhere.  My friends dad is an electrician so maybe he can do it, in the mean time I'm going to get a local guy out to give me a quote.

As i say on to something a little more exciting, and may i say putting my wood working skills to some use.  My cordless tools are some of my favorite things at the moment but i really wish i had a table saw for some more accurate cutting.  Using an old box as the cutting bench is somewhat challenging, and the circular saw doesn't give the cleanest cut but...

These are just the basic stock oak cabinets at home depot
The quality is okay, and the price is ever better at 120 for
the 18" base and a little more for the 24" base

Adding the side support rails for the platform
for the sink to sit into.  This is planned 
around a farm house sink

I don't have the farm house sink yet so in the
interim i wanted to try an idea i have had for a while.
Just using a simple galvanized feed bucket and put
a drain outlet in it 
I've built it so the farm house sink can drop in here
when i get if but for now this will do 

Cutting the hole in the bottom for the drain.  Side note,
make sure not to cut this too big as i did....
Here is the drain inserted in the new hole,
worked better than i expected and would be way
better if the hole was 1/4" smaller

Another view of the framing.  The farm house sink will
drop right in there, as long as i got my measurements
 right. Im thinking of framing the front of it out like in
this picture.  I will see once the sink is in there....
More framing happening and these are the clamps
that i swear by.  I used them in the city apt when
doning all the door frames and they are just great,
another set of hands

So if I had been smart I would have taken this
photo without the shadow.  There is a subtle
difference in the color on the top half and on
the bottom half...
...the top colour is the living room, the colour on
the left was option A for the kitchen
 (not grey enough) and the colour on the right was
option B for the kitchen.  

So i painted half the room in the colour B paint, and i was on the fence about it, was too blue, almost cold.  On a whim i mixed a 50/50 blend with the option A taupe color and it came out perfect, thats whats on the bottom half of the room in the first photo (on the wainscoting).  Its a warmer grey without being too taupe.  The colour on the top half was too blue.  Ended up a prefect shade of grey/taupe by chance.  I basically didn't have the time to drive back to home depot for more paint.  Moral of the story, have a go and see what happens. Moral of the story, spend more time on paint choice...

One last shot of some details of the framing, i won't
bore you any more with the details but feel free to ask,
way cheaper than a custom kitchen.
I am so pleased with the way it all looks, they are not
finished yet but coming along. I really enjoy doing this,
given the time it would be great to build them from

Definitely not finished, there is another 18" drawer unit (i think) to go in the run so its a set of three units.  Always sets of three.  The 24" unit on the left hand side will hide the dishwasher when i find one on craigslist (lets all cross our fingers to the craigslist gods that the perfect one no more than an hour away for little money will be listed).  The concept is pieces of furniture opposed to box standard units.  I have this great blackened hardware that i have been holding from a trip to hong kong that will look perfect once they are painted grey.  But this is where i left the weekend.  I finally got to install my antique shelf brackets out of storage.  They are already a white, chipped perfect patina.  The massive old floor boards were used in the basement as vegetable storage.  After a thorough bleaching (in the snow) and scrubbing down they look perfect, and were weirdly the perfect length.  Finally all my white china has a home!! You have to read back into previous post to see my ramblings about whiteware, stoneware etc etc, my inner Martha Stewart takes over, all be it a British gay version of Martha.  Now i have so much room for more, bring on the flea market finds. The cabinets themselves will be washed with the same grey as on the walls, but with some of the grain still showing.  You can see the base rails being added as well to the units.  I also just put some board on the tops so i have some counters to work on, and painted them black so i can get an idea how the slate will look.  Its gonna look perfect. I can see some tile or a piece of slate running along that back as well, just a few inches.  Along the top of the ceiling i also want to run a 1" by 2" wood trim to add a finishing to where the ceiling meets the walls.  Again that balance of finished and unfinished.  Its a work in progress...check back later in the week for the stove make over...

Where we are today......

Cabinet outlay $1000, then slate tile for work top and simple black tile back splash, along with white belfast sink.  Total spend on cabinet run and back splash/sink $1600

Side cabinet picket up at a flea for $20, tiles found in Vietnam for a $1.50 each 

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