Our Little Homestead – Veggie Update

I’m sure you all remember the riveting account of my semi-crazy garden planning process. If not, you can review. Well buckle up kids you’re headed for a full-on garden update! Yep, we’ve got veggies, and heat. (You like that cliff-notes summary?)

As soon as the weather started warming up our veggies took off. In fact we’ve got wild strawberries growing in the yard next to the driveway! It’s been fun to watch the plants grow and start to produce fruit. We planted a variety of things just to see what would do well. Check out the garden in full bloom!

First out of the gate were the herbs: rosemary, dill, oregano, basil, mint, lemongrass and chives are still going strong. Some are doing better than others. (I may have to put a muzzle on the mint it’s getting a little rowdy!) We’ve also had a lot of luck with eggplant, squash and jalapenos. These three plants must be in their prime location because they are still producing obscene amounts of produce. We’ve resorted to freezing most of it for later use because we just can’t eat it all! Speaking of the jalapeños or as I like to call them little hell demons. They are UNBELIVEABLY hot. We casually cut the first up and threw a few rings on our tacos. BIG mistake, my mouth burned for hours. For some reason they are much hotter when you grow them yourself. Noted. You win this round jalapeño.

Our tomatoes, chili peppers, habaneros, swiss chard, onions and carrots are just now starting to peak. So we expect to get a lot more off them in the next few weeks. (We’re actually a little afraid to try the habanero because we’ve tasted how much hotter the Jalapenos are. We’ll see who draws the short straw.) Our more delicate plants like, lettuce, spinach, bell peppers, and fennel did well in the spring but quickly died out when the heat closed in. Which is different than when the night closes in…(in case you were wondering.)

Speaking of the heat. It’s hot…like really hot. The southeast is in the middle of one nasty heat wave. I know what you’re thinking:

I know its summer but I still wanna whine about how hot it is! GAH! Actually, it has been hotter than normal here in good ol’ NC. In case you’ve been living under a rock and hadn’t heard I’ll tell you that NC had about 5 days at 106 degrees. It was so hot a road melted. That may sound like a redneck statement but this one is actually true! This heatwave obviously meant that everyone and their mom had to post photos of their thermometers showing the heat…like we hadn’t heard it on the news all day.

ANYWAYS, rant aside. This smoldering heat has played a huge role on our yard. Our grass is brown and we may have lost a few plants (RIP: hanging fern), but we’re watering daily and we think most of the plants will make it.

We’ve been trying some new recipes that utalize our bounty and they have been delish. I’ll be adding the recipes soon so you can make them at home! So far we’ve made:

  • Lemon & dill fish
  • Tomato soup
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Stuffed jalapenos
  • Eggplant and zucchini lasagna
  • And dried herbs

We’re only halfway through the summer which means we’ve got a lot more growing to do. I’ll keep you posted on new harvests and any new meals!

Advertisements

I like big built-ins and I cannot lie

Along time ago in a far away land I was a young girl fresh out of college. I had a shiny new job and something I wasn’t used too…a regular pay check. I skipped down to hhgreg and bought myself a 47inch LED TV and sound system. Yeah. Take it all in. It was something that I wanted for myself that was probably not super useful but freeking awesome! Either way, this TV is now loved by T, so it obviously came with us to our new house.

In our townhouse we had the TV sitting on a buffet table my parents gave us. However, we wanted the buffet table to go back into the dining room along with it’s matching china cabinet. Plus, we didn’t really want the TV to sit on a piece of furniture in the new house because we love the way they look mounted.  The issue was that our house was built in 1984 and therefore not flat screen friendly. Actually there were only 2 options for possible TV placement: mounted above the mantle or on the small wall across from the fireplace.

We decided that the wall was a much better solution for a couple of reasons:

  • We didn’t want the TV to be the first thing you saw when you came in the front door
  • The mantle in our house is tall so we would’ve had to look way up
  • A big black TV on the mantle didn’t attractive and we preferred the mantle to be decorated
  • The TV was too big for the space over the mantle and looked very overwhelming

Once we decided upon a location T and his friend mounted the TV and drilled some holes in the wall to hide the wires. The look was somewhat underwhelming…

This may be the saddest “before” photo I’ve ever seen. Look at it! If this photo had a sound effect it would most definitely be “Womp Womp.”  And before you ask. Yes, that is a giant unicorn candle holder. Don’t judge, when I’m done with it it’s gunna be amazing! Anyway, as you can see we were using a small bookshelf my dad built for me in college. We crammed it with our DVD’s, equipment, remotes and sound system. It’s just plain sad. We knew we had to do something about it but what?! We considered a few options:

  • Buy a TV console unit
    • I don’t know what it is about TV consoles but they look cheap to me. Why? Even the pottery barn ones weren’t anything special but they cost 1000’s. What the what?!
  • Make/DIY a console unit out of a buffet or dresser
    • I had more luck in this department. However, the results were still not what I was going for. Another issue was that these pieces struggled to hold all that I wanted them too. Why? Because they weren’t built for this purpose. A lot would hold DVD’s but the sound system and equipment was a struggle.
  • Create a built-in
    • When I first proposed this option I thought that we’d never be able to afford it. So, I didn’t even take myself seriously at first. However, I came across this image on pinterest and there was no going back. It’s perfect. Clean, modern, simple, and had all the right stuff in the right places.

My hunt for a contractor was on. I asked my dad because he likes building things. I think our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, you wanna help us build a TV built-in?

Dad: No, not really.

Me: Ok, good talk.

So, I guess he was out. I asked some people at work and got some names. I called and got quotes from a few people and I was shocked that this CUSTOM unit was going to cost less than a PB TV console. Yes, custom. He asked us to sketch out what we wanted and he’d build it. What?! Have I died and gone to heaven?! I was sold immediately.

Glen, our contractor, came out to our house to measure and gather design ideas. I gave him the photo above and he customized it to fit into our space. While he was there he mentioned that there was a vent on that wall that was going to prevent us from having a wall sized unit. I wasn’t having that. SO, I suggested that we move the intake vent to the other side of the stairs. He called his buddy right there and he showed up about 15 minutes later and said that it was doable. We signed the contract that night.


Over the next couple of weeks Glen worked at his home-based shop to cut, assemble, and paint sections of our unit. Once complete he contacted us to set up a time to install the built-ins.

The install was fairly smooth except for a few minor bumps. The most time consuming part of the first day was getting all the wiring figured out. All three of us drew diagrams to tame the wires. We finally agreed a few hours later. It was actually quite complicated because we didn’t want to drill a hole in each stud for thewires. So we had to work around that. We actually lost air conditioning for a day because the wires behind the unit were so short he couldn’t move it. So, we had to have a guy come out and extend the length of the wires. Sheesh. After those small setbacks he quickly attached the main pieces to the wall with only shelves, trim and touchups left to complete.

Look at that little stinker! She photobombs me all the time! Anywho, Glen came back the next day to finish off the project. He add the trim at the top of the  unit, touched up the paint, added the floorboard trim, added the shelves and wine rack, and prettied it up. And it looks AMAZING! The built-ins make the room look taller and way more sophisticated. And the best part is that it’s actually functional. We get a lot of use out of the drawers, shelves and wine rack. We couldn’t be happier with it. Glen also liked it so much he’s putting it in his portfolio. What?! If the contractor loves it you feel even better about your project! Take a look at the finished piece below.

I just threw some of our current bobbules onto the shelves to decorate. There are a lot of pices from grandparents, travels and various other memorobelia. Like this “Genie lamp from my grandmother, some books from T’s grandfather’s library along with some of our own flair.

I’m sure the items will change and flow with time. I’m hoping to spraypaint a few pieces to start having some sort of color theme in the room. Whats the color theme? Well you’ll just have to come back and find out soon! 😉

Not-So-Mini Bathroom Makeovers

If you could see our house you’d think we just moved in, and we did…9 months ago. The house is in varying degrees of disarray depending on what projects we’re working on, how busy we are, or if I’m traveling, etc. You can’t tell at the moment but Taylor and me are actually very tidy, neat, and organized people. Do you know what happens when people are forced to live in an unorganized home? Taylor and I were suffering from clutterphobia (yeah I made it up) and the side-effects are not pretty. So, we knew getting one space organized would stop our clutter nightmares. We figured out that the 3 most used rooms in our home are: the kitchen, living room and our individual bathrooms. (Sorry folks but it’s the truth.) We knew that the kitchen and living room were uphill battles but the bathrooms were relatively simple and affordable to update.

We’ll start with my bathroom since I’m telling the story. J First let me tell you that I’ve decided upon a “theme” for my bathroom.  This is always the hardest part for me because I have to commit to one style and not put everything I like into one room.  BUT I’ll give myself a pat on the back because I’m in love with the possibilities. Before I reveal the theme I’ll let you know how I got to the decision. I had some criteria that helped guide me:

  • Feminine (Not French country and fat cherub feminine)
  • Light and bright
  • Relaxing
  • Organized
  • Welcoming
  • Flow with the bedroom’s décor (since my bath is attached to the master bedroom)

I went to my old friend Pinterest for some inspiration. However, can I just say? Who has bathrooms that big!? Geeze. Anyway I found these photos and I knew what I wanted to do.

I know what you’re thinking, “a sea themed bathroom how original” but gimme a chance to explain my vision. Wow, how artsy-fartsy was that statement? Ok envision this:

  • Purple, grey, white and turquoise color palette
  • Small framed prints of coral
  • White sea pebbles
  • Floating white shelves
  • A few nice shells that I’ve found
  • Framed whale’s tooth (This is really cool. I found one on the beach recently)
  • A purple geode for texture
  • Small print of the image above
  • Accents of clear glass

That doesn’t sound too bad right? Actually it sounds quite beautiful doesn’t it? Trust me. Its gunna be quite the tiny retreat when I’m done. We’ve taken a few strides already and it’s on its way to being fabulous. So far we’ve:

  • Replaced the standard mirror with a framed one
    • We followed the same process as Taylor’s mirror update with a slight color difference. The mirror came from an old dresser that we had and it happened to be the perfect size.  We spray painted it white, strung some new wire on the back, and hung it up in place of the old standard mirror.
  • Removed the closet door and added a curtain
    • I decided to remove the closet door because when both doors were open the knobs would get locked together…causing me to go a little crazy. Plus, a curtain is much prettier than a boring door. So, I simply removed the door and it’s hardware. Bought a spring loaded curtain rod from Target. Then fed the curtain on and fastened the rod into place.
  • Adding drawer organization
    • I’ve got about 6 drawers and one cabinet under my sink. The lower drawers and cabinet were taken care of. But the top 2 drawers, that I use the most, were total chaos.  On one side I keep my daily necessities and the other houses my make-up. So, T and I went to the container store and found some nice acrylic drawer organizers.
  • Began hording cute accessories
    • I guess “we” haven’t been hoarding accessories, it’s just me. Either way with my “modern, undersea elegance” theme picked out I discovered that I actually have a lot of accessories that I can already use. I guess all those years of shell collecting finally paid off!  Check out the cute stuff I’ve found already!

    All these updates have been inexpensive and quick to accomplish. Now, my little bathroom is stress-free, more organized and well on its way to becoming a mini-retreat. This brings us to T’s bathroom makeover. The last time we saw his bathroom we had just finished updating his mirror but we recently completed a bunch more updates.  So far, we’ve:

    • Painted the sink cabinet black
      • Painting the sink cabinet made an immediate impact in this room. He wanted the bathroom to look modern and crisp and I wanted to make sure the bathroom contrasted with my bathroom while still complementing it.  So, we decided to go with a high-gloss black for the cabinet. It really pulled the room together. The grays, whites and blacks play so nicely together.  It’s also an easy color palette to add pops of color too because it’s neutral. Currently, he has green as an accent which is masculine and flows well.
    •  Replaced hardware
    • Following the gray theme we knew we wanted silver toned knobs. We found some really nice rectangle knobs at Lowes that had a brushed nickel finish. They really pop against the black cabinet.
    • Organized under the sink 
      • T mentioned that he could never find anything which made getting ready frusterating. So we were able to find some tubs, bins and acrylic trays that fit in the drawers and under the sink cabinets. A little organization makes a day-to-day use so much more enjoyable.
    • Added a glass shelf over the toilet
      • We found a small glass shelf that we loved AND it matched the hardware, Bonus! It looks great and adds a display area. T’s able to display some accessories that help give this room personality.
    • Replaced Light fixture in the bathroom
      • This is the one addition we are most proud of. We’re mostly proud that we didn’t electrocute ourselves. But we’re also proud that we did it on our own. It was really simple to replace.
      • Cut the power to the room (Thank goodness it was in the directions. Or we probably wouldn’t have thought about it.)
      • Unscrewed the old fixture and we found some HOT wallpaper hiding underneath.
      • Unhooked the wires from the old fixture
      • Attached the new fixture to the wires. The wires were color coded so it was really simple to figure out which wires went where
      • Mounted the new fixture over the existing mount
      • Little putty, sanding, paint and BAM. Done. (See how excited he is!?)

    All of our hard work has paid off! We’ve only got a few little tweaks until we can stamp this room as DONE. We’d like to move the shower curtain up, add a light above the shower, paint the trim around the sink and add some accessories. The small updates have made such a huge difference in this room. It’s nice to know that a little truly does go a long way.