Tuesday, August 21

Summer Update

So, I've been neglecting the blog lately, because summer in the Pacific Northwest is the most glorious time and place on earth! We have been extra blessed this summer to have sunny weather and temperatures in the 80's more days now than I can count. We had a real heat wave last week and it nearly hit 100! Can I just say, God bless the brilliant individual that invented Air Conditioning? ;)

This will be an update brought to you by a bunch of photos; a little sneak peek into some of our summer activities and accomplishments.

1) To start off, I don't have a photo for this, but by far the biggest accomplishment around our home is that we now have a TODDLER! And she is just eight days away from turning one years old! Time flies far too fast as a mom, but how incredibly wonderful the time has been! :)

2) Bargain treasure hunting...

I have totally scored this summer when it comes to secondhand and clearance rack bargains! I've been frequenting the thrift stores when us gals need to get out of the house for a bit, and we've found some great things. A few of them that I can remember right now:

  • A huge bag of Mega Bloks for a buck - I soaked them in warm water and bleach in the sink, ran them through the dishwasher, and they are good as new!
  • A bunch of items - some thrifted, some clearance at JoAnn Fabrics and Michael's stores - for Victory's garden birthday party. I am SO excited to decorate with all the goodies I've been stashing away. More photos of those to come, after the party.
  • My best find, I think, was a "garden arch" - really a simple arbor - which is something I've been wanting all summer. I found one in a box on the bottom shelf at Goodwill over the weekend - for eight bucks!!! Hubs and I put it together and it is in our yard awaiting the party. I am always reminded of how God cares even for our little wish lists, because it's so evident when I find treasures like that!
  • Perhaps my most unique find was this totally awesome retro clock. It was 3.99, and I had a $3 off $10 purchase coupon for making a donation to the store, so since I spent $10 on more "necessary" items, I consider this a freebie! ;)

Another great score was ten organic herb plants from Home Depot, on clearance for 75 cents a pot! One of the lavender plants fit perfectly into this hand painted clay pot - also from the thrift store, for $1!
(From the way I describe it, you'd think I go shopping every day. Actually, I've only been to the store about ten times this whole summer!)

3) Gardening

It is official. I have caught the gardening bug!

Hubs and I have said for four years that we wanted to garden, but we were always so busy throughout the past four years in our home remodeling moldy walls and fixing rotten floors... well this year we finally followed through! Hubs was given free wood at work, as well as our neighbor gave us a bunch of wood. My amazing handy man built six raised beds for me, and I went to town! (I have definitely caught the 'gardening bug!')

This is my cart after discovering the clearance and end-of-season mark down racks at Home Depot...

Some early goodies from my winter squash vines, and a zucchini we let go too long!

We are growing many different things. Lettuce - red leaf and butter; Brussels sprouts; broccoli; zucchini; tomatoes (three types - Roma, Early Girl and Big Beef); three types of peppers - Jalapeno, Green bell, and orange bell... oh I can't even remember everything. All that matters is that everything is thriving and we have or are going to have tons of produce to enjoy and give away!

I found some great pots on clearance at Rite Aid last month, and filled them with flowers. This is my hardy Gerbera daisy from last spring - remember when I bought it? I never covered it with mulch for the winter, and I thought the late ice storm we had surely killed it. But it returned!

Tip from a Home Depot nursery employee: plant marigolds in the corners of your raised beds, and the slugs will go munch on those and leave your veggies alone.

Here is our first red tomato - a "big beef ." And there are about thirty green ones, plus all the tomatoes on the Roma and Early Girl plants. Yikes, I wish I could have nightshades! Fresh salsa from your own tomatoes must taste amazing!
Our neighbors will be benefiting from our surplus :)

Can you see the teeny tiny sprouts in the base of each leaf? The cabbage moths have been loving the leaves but I'm hoping we still get a good crop in the fall. We LOVE our Brussels sprouts around here!

I just love this plant, called "Mossflower." I don't know of any other flower plants that have multiple colored blooms on the same plant! It's amazing! I bought four or five of them, because they were so pretty and I could tell they had potential. Well they did, they have grown twice their size in just a few weeks, and hang over their baskets beautifully!

Pink and green zinnias, cream colored Marigolds...

More Zinnias and Marigolds 
Butter lettuce! We've been snipping off leaves for two months to eat, and it just keeps coming back. Awesome!

I couldn't resist this Dahlia plant when it was on sale for $5 - and now it is HUGE!  Dahlia  flowers are just beautiful

4) Crafty stuff!
I made this for the Fourth of July. It was fun, I sat down with fabric scissors, three quilting fat quarters (red, white, and blue patterns) and a wicker wreath from the dollar store. One movie later, I had a wreath. It felt a bit sparse to me, and I had a lot of leftover fabric strips, so I got another, smaller wreath and tied fabric to that one and connected the two wreaths together with twine. Super easy and cheap to make, and you can do these in any color for any occasion!
Original inspiration from Woman's Day magazine

I've also been using my crafty skills to do a lot of things for Victory's upcoming birthday party...

 6) Birthday party planning!

Hubs and I talked for a few months about our sweet girl's first birthday party. We finally decided on having it at home and making it a "garden party," because this has been our year to finally start investing time and resources into our yard. So why not host a celebration there and really enjoy it! I also like that the money we've spent on potted plants, flowers and garden beds and windchimes and more, is not 'birthday themed,' but they will be party decorations and then just staples in our yard each summer. Double purpose but only a one-time purchase - it's a win-win!

This is a bean bag toss target that a friend and I painted. It is two pieces of foam core board from the dollar store, staple-gun stapled to a wooden frame that used to be part of a shelf in our bathroom.
At the bottom of the photo are bean bags I sewed from leftover nursery fabric. Easy tutorial found here

Pinwheels! I was inspired earlier this summer by a Martha Stewart craft tutorial, and then this garden party blog post, so I have been making them in my free evening time. I've got some little ones, and some huge ones!

8) Home improvements, in particular:

Finishing the bathroom remodel we started in May 2011!

Just a snapshot of the prettiest part of our new bathroom - mosiac glass tile. It cost just $14 total!
Right under that is a wall-mount sink from IKEA. Cost? Just 30 bucks!
Hubs has done an amazing job. It has taken much longer than we'd have liked, but we are so close to being done (just cosmetic stuff left - drywall sanding, painting, staining trim). Can I just say, my husband is amazing! He is working so hard and has so much on his plate, and never complains! Thank you for your great attitude and leadership, Babe!

Hubs has also been very busy building a deck around our house, so our little champ can play outside even when the lawn is sopping wet this winter! It is taking shape and I am so excited to get out there and start decorating it with thrifted, made-over outdoor furniture and accessories!

...Well, that's a little bit of what we've been up to. The highlights! What special things have you done this summer??