garden, life

July Garden Tour – on two feet ! 💃💃💃

I can walk! After doing the June tour on crutches, I finally got an X-ray and found out that what I thought was a sprained ankle was actually a spiral fracture of my fibula. So, I’m madly rehabbing my ankle constantly and being very careful but I’m thrilled to be mobile again. I have even more appreciation and compassion for people with permanent mobility difficulties. I tried not to whine, really.

Can you say ‘atrophy’?

Vegetables and irrigation

Needless to say, the garden isn’t quite where I envisioned it would be pre-wipeout. Although I give my husband, who is more of a landscaper than a gardener, full credit for managing single-handedly as well as he did. Hand watering the vegetable containers alone could take an hour or more to do properly, so in the last few days I finally built a drip irrigation system. Hallelujah!

It’s not pretty (yet, but the tweaking is half the fun) but it only takes four minutes per zone to get everything watered through. It’s mind-boggling to me, I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it but the plants are showing the difference just from two days watering, and plants don’t lie. Why did I wait so long???

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, carrots, leeks, lettuce, dill, etc.
Peppers!
Cucumbers and tomatoes. I was amazed at how quickly these tomatoes ripened after I removed the leaves beneath them, and others, in order to direct all the ‘power’ to the fruit.
Onions were not bad, but I think I can do better next year. Leeks still to come though!

The Garlic Experiment

I grew garlic for the first time last year, not altogether successfully. I didn’t know that the ‘flowers’ that garlic throws up are called ‘scapes’, and beyond being my new favourite raw vegetable to snip over my salad, now I know that you need to clip them so the growing power goes into the bulb, not the flower. One of those duh-in-retrospect moments.

This year has been much more successful, due mostly to better planting, fertilizing and watering – and snipping the scapes. There is just no comparison with grocery store garlic when you slice into it. So satisfying!

But check this out, last fall I planted some of my garlic in the ground (left) and the rest of it in half gallon containers (right). I transplanted the container garlic into the ground in the early spring, and the difference was unreal. It was all absolutely huge, whereas the in-ground garlic developed into several smaller heads. I’ll also wait longer to harvest it next year because I just pulled out this monster (bottom right) the other day! I intend to use the bigger heads as my seed garlic in the fall.

And now for the flowers…

The sunflowers are lovely but I’m rethinking my decision to try to use them as trellises. While kind of amusing to go bushwhacking hunting for peas, beans and cucumbers, it’s not especially efficient – or user-friendly. So the vegetables will stay in the containers close to the house in future, and the back garden will be for perennials, annuals and herbs.

Sunflowers everywhere!
Dahlias on Ilam Road, named for our house in NZ where we first fell in love with them.
Gladiolus, here there and everywhere. They always make me think of my oldest BFF, who has given them to me on many special occasions.
Echinacea
Lilies
I would have enjoyed eating this artichoke, but the flower isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Wild kingdom – not ‘the spider on the fly’ but the ‘fruit fly on the crazy translucent spider on the honey bee on the cosmos’.
I grew these cosmos from seed. Check out the mutant on the left – it’s taller than me! Easy for a person, tougher for a flower!
The calla lilies have finally found a home.
This is an orange calla lily that hasn’t flowered yet but I love the sunshine and the petunias surrounding it.
View from the shady spot.

Alright, we’re off to our favourite spot on the west coast for my 50th 😱 birthday holiday. Be kind, stay calm and stay safe.

❤️ Amanda

garden, life

May Vegetable Tour

I can’t believe it’s the last day of May! I wanted to complete my May Garden Tour with a record of how the vegetable beds closer to the house are looking. It’s a crazy windy day – again, ugh – so I snapped them quickly, but such is life.

Unfortunately, the damn deer got in again last night. We can mostly thank our nature-hating, pavement and power tool-loving neighbour for basically killing the hedge on his side. Okay, vent over. Check out the temporary fence – it’s like living in a junk yard! 😂

On the back deck we have potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and mint. My potatoes have never been this tall before. I’m hoping for a better yield this year, so fingers crossed.

In the raised beds we have potatoes, garlic, radishes, beets, lettuce, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, peppers, beans and cucumber.

We bought these 20 gallon containers for cheap this year. They’re amazing for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and big enough to stuff in some basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, spinach and lettuce.

Tomatoes are so satisfying to grow. I planted these from seed and was horrified when I broke the first one when transplanting. But I pinched off the bottom leaves and stuck the stem deep into the soil and voilà! I also stuck the root ball into the garden and it’s started sprouting new growth. Life will out. 🥰

Alright, I hope this finds you well. Any gardening tips always appreciated!

Be kind, be calm and stay safe!

❤️ Amanda

life

Bathroom Renovation – Part 6: The Reveal – finally!

Four months later, the final details are finished! Things got delayed because I was M.I.A.: Lost in the Garden for several weeks. I’m really happy with the final results, and finishing the last things myself after the ridiculousness of the ‘designer‘ I hired, was especially satisfying. Now it’s entirely my vision and finished to the level I expect. Anal? Well, yes I am.

The only thing I really don’t like about the new bathroom?

I still have to clean the damn thing! 😏


BEFORE PHOTOS – not terrible just ugly – and the tub leaked.

AFTER – Simple and clean, simple to clean. Aaah!

Disclaimer: This is staged – the floofy white hand towels are only for my sink. The kids will use the old black towels until I find the right shade of dark blue. White towels wouldn’t last two days!

Beautiful sea glass and pebble picture from LoveRocks Pebble Art, representing our family.

I love these air plants – so easy to look after, just soak them in the sink overnight every 7-10 days.

I made this towel rack from a piece of driftwood I found on Willows Beach. I followed these instructions but first I baked it for several hours in a 200 degree oven, flipping it every hour, to make sure it was really dry and there were no critters living in it. I sprayed it with matte sealant which changed the colour a little bit but I’m okay with that.

I also added invisible hangers by drilling two holes all the way through under two of the hangers, then using a countersink to stop the long screws from going all the way through. It’s really solid on the wall just with plastic anchors and long screws. I love that it’s one-of-a-kind and that I made it myself. So satisfying!

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. I’d love to hear any comments, and if anyone is working on a self-cleaning bathroom, let me know!

❤️ Amanda

life

Bathroom Renovation – Part 5: Lessons learned from hiring a ‘designer’

Remember The Gong Show? Hilariously innocuous in its innocence. Beware the reality when you take on a home renovation. I wanted my next and last post to be the final reveal, since this project started in January. But after 11 weeks I finally kicked them all out, tired of being a hostage in my house. Luckily I’m pretty handy – just call me Handy Mandy 🤓, so I’m finishing the details myself. I thought it was only fair to share what I’ve learned.

Should you hire a designer? Possibly. Here’s what you should be careful of:

1) Anyone can call themselves a designer.

Personally, I have an issue with calling myself an expert in anything, even teaching which I think I was pretty good at. Or adulting for that matter, and I have a fair amount of experience in that at this point.

But some people are happy to not only claim themselves as experts but to try to charge crazy amounts of money for their supposed expertise. Key word is try. 😏 It’s trying to figure out whether it was ignorance or straight manipulation that’s doing my head in at the moment.

CHECK REFERENCES.

Which brings me to my second point –

2) Don’t wait until you’re so desperate you hire the first person who wants the job.

I have always trusted my instincts about people and I’m usually pretty spot-on. This time, I was blinded by assurances of what a simple job it was and how they’d love to make it happen as quickly as possible. Yet, there was no planning whatsoever put into the job before it started. I didn’t listen to that little voice raising the red flag.

Then, when they start using tactics like dropping personal histories and troubles, particularly financial, blaming every one else for the problems created through lack of planning, that red flag was waving right in my face until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Eleven weeks later, I’m finishing the details myself.

3) Have a firm start date and end date.

Eleven weeks!!! And there are still problems they have to come back for that I refuse to take on. Not cool for a simple remodel. Also, see below.

4) Set clear working hours.

When you live with a chronic illness, any disruption to your routine can cause things to go haywire. Never knowing when someone might actually show up, and even more having someone decide to work 11am-7pm, is just not feasible.

I have about three hours of the day when I’m good (11am-2pm). Anytime after 4pm, I need quiet, not all sorts of power tools and someone going in and out my front door. I feel like I haven’t been able to relax in my house since January.

5) Know exactly what they’re offering for the price.

I’m too damn trusting, and I think that everyone behaves in the world with the same integrity I do. I’ve said it before, I’m a dumb ass.

Does the price include drawings of the finished space?

What specific planning have you done for the project?

The answer in this case was a Pinterest inspiration board 🤯 When I had to call the cabinet maker back because they had not installed soft-close hinges on the vanities, he actually said “I’m really sorry, there should be a list.” 🤯🤯🤯🤯 D’ja think????

Will you be on site on the days things are being installed?

What is the exact timeline? (See #3)

6) Ask to see all receipts.

The contractor gave me the receipts and said there were just a ‘few’ missing. However, when I added them up, there was almost $1100 unaccounted for. Then, I noticed that the plumbers charged us twice for installing the tub fixtures, and the electrician charged for three times as many hours than he actually worked. I almost just paid the invoices to be finished with these people but I would have spent more than $1500 in unnecessary, inflated costs.

You can’t trust people to be honest. Sad but true.

Fortunately, the tradespeople on the project did decent work (eventually, except the electrician) and because I had a clear idea of the design I wanted, the bathroom turned out beautifully. It was a steep learning curve though, and next time I will be very, very careful about who I trust as a designer. Or I’ll just trust myself.

Now there’s an idea.

Have you had a similar experience? Any other tips for future projects?

❤️ Amanda

Bathroom Renovation: Part 1 – It’s a Go!

Bathroom Renovation Part 2: It’s a Bathtub?

Bathroom Renovation Part 3: Now that’s a tub!

Bathroom Renovation Part 4: Almost there…

Bathroom Renovation – Part 5: Lessons learned from hiring a ‘designer’

life

Bathroom Renovation Part 4: Almost there…

Did you hear the dude from Star Wars heading for the Death Star in the title? Every time I hear those words together, I hear it in his voice. Think I’ve seen it too many times, if that’s possible.

Bathroom Renovation: Part 1 – It’s a Go!

Bathroom Renovation Part 2: It’s a Bathtub?

Bathroom Renovation Part 3: Now that’s a tub!

Anyway, we’ve been in a holding pattern waiting for the vanity pieces (supposed to be last week) to be sprayed and the countertops cut (also supposed to ‘fit us in’ faster than their usual two-week turn-around – it’s been two weeks). Such is life.

Luckily, the toilet, tub and shower are completely functional (well, for most of us – see below), the tile is gorgeous, and I’m super happy with the shower door. Totally functional and much cheaper than custom glass.

Check it out:

Fully extended

Folded back in resting position

And right out of the way for a bath or cleaning!

Beautiful ‘right-height’, skirted toilet. Easy to clean!

So, there is a problem with the shower, as I mentioned above. It wouldn’t be a problem if all our children were munchkins like me, but our son has sprouted like Mike TeeVee after the taffy machine (our girls are in the Willy Wonka musical, couldn’t resist the reference). And… the rain shower head is about 1/2 an inch from his noggin.

Not sure what the solution is, or who will be expected to pay for it. We’ll see when the plumbers come back to install the sinks. Overall though, the work is being done beautifully and I know when we get ‘there’, we’ll nail this sucker down, just like good old Luke.

❤️ Amanda