Friday, November 30, 2012

Veggie Garden Year Two

July 2012

To start, we had really good intentions for our garden this year.  We thought things were moving forward with the house and we could really commit.  We spent one weekend enlarging the bed around the raised beds because we planned to plant SO many veggies that we would need all this extra space.  Well.... we did not get our act together and none of little baggies of careully procurred seeds got started.  I tried not to beat myself up too much about it.  We had been busy with a lot of stuff both house related and personal and Portland was extremely cold and rainy right through June.

I went to the local nursery and got:  four tomato plants, three pepper plants, 2 zucchinis, 1 yellow squash, 1 cucumber, 2 snap peas, 1 pumpkin, and tons of brocolli.   The good news is I planted them all, as well as put some direct seed carrots in the ground.  Josh had planted some onions several months before and these came in as well.  Really that is about all I can say.  We put them in the ground.  There was no watering, pruning or attempt to add any additions to the garden.  I was so dazed I even forgot I needed a second pumpkin plant as a pollinator, so I, in effect, planted a vine. 

The good news, is everything in Portland grows and most of our seedlings took off and running.  As with the year before we started getting a massive zucchini stash, endless tomatoes and so many volunteer tomatoes from the year before we could have started a business. The broccoli never seemed to quite work out, and I only got about 8 carrots out of the deal.  I never planted lettuce, or bush beans, or any other seeds. 

The asapargus came back from the year prior, but was still too small to harvest, my neighbor donated a artichoke plant which thrived and gave us three delicious small chokes and beautiful flowers. Our blueberries and strawberries made plenty of fruit all though so small they were often tart and barely worth picking.  I truly look forward to the summer where I plant and stage my garden so that I have numerous different veggies growing throughout the early spring into late fall.
What I can tell you the yard got a lot of attention this year.  By the end of the summer, I had pulled out all the dandelions in the yard (only for 50% to grow back).  I re-edge all the beds, added new shurbs, trees, bulbs, and flowers. The plants from two years prior started to really take off and grow.  The hydrangeas doubled in size as well as did the rosemary and lavenders. Our cherry trees which started at my height were over 10 feet tall. IOur landscaping was defiantely starting to feel more mature and less nursery basic.  It was moving forward!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Appraisal Becomes a House Tour

June 2012

An appraisal in pictures, and some words- because it is a blog.

The living room from the front door

After we finished the stairwell we went ahead and decided to refinance the house.  To do this we needed the house to appraise for roughly 30k more then we had bought it for exactly two years before.  The good news is that we had easily spent that fixing the house up.  So, we felt pretty confident that we could reach that number.  Still, I am a planner and a worrier and I wanted to make sure the appraisal was seamless.

 The Living Room and Dining Room Looking North

  Our Dining Room from the kitchen doorway

 With the help of a hired maid I cleaned the house top to bottom.  I even mopped the entire basement floor, reorganized the junk in the basement and put down rugs so that it looked more inviting.  It was a lot of work, but in many ways it was a good chance to spring clean the house.  This marks the longest time span I have lived in one space since high school.  It's amazing how much I relied on moving every year to act as a catalyst for donating junk and cleaning spaces.

 The view of the Kitchen from the dining room and mudroom beyond

The hallway from the kitchen doorway looking into the guest room

We also had a round of smaller projects that we needed to complete.  Josh installed the remaining base shoe in the bedroom. I touched up paint in the living room, kitchen and dining room as well as pressure washed the front steps. We mowed the lawn, edged the sidewalk, and pulled the hundreds of weeds growing the sidewalk cracks. We were attacking our to do list.

The guest room from the hallway

Once again, overkill- but it was a good excuse.  After the house was fully clean I walked around the house and de-cluttered.  Nightstands were removed of books, tissues and clocks, the family room tables lost their magazines, pens and various mis-matched coasters. I ended up filling two boxes with each room's 'extras.' It felt nice.  I added back some fresh flowers and then turned on every stinking light in the house.  I was once told that you should do this whenever you 'show your house' because it makes it feel cleaner and more welcoming.  Seriously, the only thing I didn't do was bake cookies.

 The stairwell from the landing looking towards our bedroom

I am so glad that the morning before I walked around the house and shoot some quick pictures of most of the rooms.  The fact is- our house would probably never look this good again until we sold it. The good news, we appraised close to 40k over what we bought the house for!  The appraiser had great things to say about our house and neighborhood and even offered some ways we could raise the number even higher.

My little corner of the world in our bedroom

It was great!  We could finally relax about the mad house rush and maybe even enjoy it??? But wait, I still had a HUGE pile of dirt and concrete in my backyard. Darn. 
There are a few rooms you did not see, these are because they are part of our current and/or soon to be remodels.  The bathroom, the upstairs office, the basement, and our back yard. Don't worry- this will continue.

Our happy abode

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stairway Reveal

June 2012

After we had fulled bead boarded the stairwell we had to think about the finishing touches.  We needed to patch, sand and paint the space as well as install new lighting.  Due to the height of the space and the large amount of work needed we decided that we would hire out the painting.  This was a tough call for us.  On principle alone, I refuse to hire out any work that I believe we can do as good or better then the professional. There is not many tasks that fit that description, so we really try to utilize our skills when we can.  The issue was timing.  We wanted to get the house refinanced, we wanted to get the room done and we had other 'life things' that needed to get accomplished. 

So we hired a painter,  I will say now, I regret it but I would not take it back.  It had to be done to get the refinance moving.  The fact is there is no one who will do as good of job on the details as you would.  You're more invested.  The room looks 'fine' but I see lots of spaces that were not sanded as smooth, or where you can still see a nail hole, caulk in the bead lines and other issues.  However, I cannot discount the fact they did the space in three days, which would have easily have taken us several weeks to complete. 

So, happy faces.  All I can say is the stairwell is completely transformed. The space is so bright and clean it's almost too perfect!   We chose to paint the entire space our Bone White. I know you just gasped, Taylor actually painted an entire space white! I know I can hardly believe it myself, but in the end I wanted to keep the stairwell light and airy and there was really no color that I felt would do that except for our trusty Bone White.  We have plans to eventually strip and stain the banister, which will make the space more dramatic. Since I haven't completely lost my technicolor obsession I did paint the stairwell window the same red as our doors and windows (not in the pictures because I haven't taken new ones yet).  This was to copy what we also did in the mudroom since that space was also bead board.

For the lights we went to our favorite Schoolhouse Electric and ordered some very delicate glass and bronze pendants.  They are small and simple, possibly too small and too simple.  But I figured if I was going white I should make all the components match the same aesthetic. I eventually see the entire space covered in art and objects and I want that to be the show stopper not our lights or wall color. The room is bare for now, it still needs the art and new rugs and potentially down the line a better cabinet at the top of the stairs.  But for now it remains the lightest and brightest place in the house.
Before 2010:

 After 2012:

Round Up:
Paneling materials and installation: $1,435, Paint materials and application: $600, Two custom built lights: $420, installation- free we installed them ourselves, New window-$700, Paint for window- free- used old paint, applied ourselves. Total: $3,155
This was our least DIY room in the whole house, but it was probably in the worst shape with the most challenging access so I think everything was required.