2015 was a quiet year on the blog, but it wasn’t due to there being a lack of projects for us to get our hands on. I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t write about them at the time (though some ended up on instagram so, partial credit?) but as they say… better late than never. Behold three never before seen Doodle House DIYs from 2015:
Chicken Proof Gardens
We love giving the chippies yard time outside of the coop because a happy chicken means better eggs and more of ’em. But as most gardeners know, they can wreck havoc on a garden if left unattended.
In our old place, we built small fence around our gardens to keep the critters out, but that effort was short lived since the chickens eventually mastered the art of fence jumping.
Ultimately we decided that each individual garden would need its own sturdy enclosure that protected the perimeter and the top from not only the chickens, but other garden vermin as well. This design was dreamed up by Heath, and was modeled after a few similar projects we hunted down on pinterest.
Each box required nine 2″x 2″ x 8″ furring strip boards we picked up at Home Depot for about $2 each — bringing the total project cost to about $75. Not too bad for the peace of mind it also bought us knowing we could now have happy chicks AND a happy garden.
(Partly) New Coffee Table
Heath and I have never bought a coffee table. We’ve always been able to get our hands on one for free — though this method is friendly on the wallet, it sometimes leaves us with the less-than-ideal version for our space. The first was an old hand-me-down cedar chest I acquired in college that was great for storage, but a little small for the room. And truth be told, she was a little rough around the edges from so much wear and tear over the years, and maybe a few too many drinking games.
Then we inherited a long and low tile top coffee table built by my grandfather. I loved the style, but it was really a little too long and didn’t give us many options for furniture layout. As I am constantly redesigning and reorganizing, this was a problem. Just call me Goldilocks.
So we opted to re-purpose the iron legs from the handmade coffee table and assembled a new, slightly shorter top out of cedar. Total cost of the redux? About $36. LOVE how it turned out. Can’t figure out why we didn’t try this sooner.
Getting in touch with my artistic side
This year, spring in Austin was very rainy and very wet. Which meant the time I had planned to spend outdoors gardening, needed to be rethought. But rather than let a little water get me down, I let a little water color and acrylic paint lift me up and help keep my creative juices flowing. I’ve not taken any classes (painfully obvious) but I’ve been experimenting a lot — sometimes creating things from images I’ve seen, sometimes imagining things from nothing. I’m still very much a novice but it’s been really exciting to revisit an activity I loved as a child but until this year had not really been brave enough to explore as an adult.
This hardly captures all of the untold adventures and lessons that 2015 had in store, but it’s a start, and a good reminder that a heart-felt DIY project, no matter how small, can still result in an abundance of joy.
Traipsing across the parking lot of the Home Depot this afternoon, I was confronted with a harsh, and deeply unpleasant reality. As the vicious sun attacked my helpless pupils and a band of sweat hugged the back of my neck, there was no more denying the truth. Summer is coming.
Austin has been blessed this year with an uncharacteristically long spring season. A mild winter was followed by an outpour of restorative rains that resulted in a long and fruitful growing season, cool spring afternoons and many a porch beer.
The encroaching heat serves as a disappointing reminder that soon we will replace counting fire flies over IPAs with swatting mosquitoes over profanities. The end is nigh, but I am careful NOT to take for granted the swath of magical spring nights we were fortunate enough to enjoy before the season turned against us. Not just this year, but every year. The garden has seen some amazing transformation since we first made it ours some 4 years back.
Couldn’t help it this morning, I had to take a few snaps of the rain on our abundant supply of garden blooms.
Stay tuned for some more garden updates in the very near future!
Not to be self congratulatory or anything, but Heath and I are basically American heroes for making good on our promise to the garden to give it some much needed TLC. Austin’s been gifted with a pretty spectacular spring season, which made it nearly impossible for us not to get our hands dirty these past couple months beautifying the grounds of House Doodle. Veggies have been planted, bottle trees erected, new fences built—a productive spring season indeed.
Dear Backyard Garden,
Remember when you and I were tight and would hang out all the time?
We had so much in common, so much to learn from each other. Those were the good good old days. But I don’t think you or I can deny for any longer the fact that lately we’ve been growing apart. Well, I’ve been growing apart. You have not been growing much of anything. But I understand. Especially with you, veggies.
I have to take some of the blame. I wasn’t there for you and I’m sorry. But I hope you know that it’s not forever, I am just going through a tough time right now what with this heat and all. And I know, I know, before you say anything, I am fully aware of the fact that there are other gardeners who treat their plants nice even in the summer. But I’m not other gardeners. When it’s sweaty out there, and the raindrops are replaced by mosquitoes and we experience 40 days of triple digit temperatures, I’m just not woman enough to be there for you. I can’t make excuses. I am a weak person. I don’t feel great about it, and it’s time that I come clean and admit that my neglect has changed you.
But as for the rest of you plants, I think you need to take some responsibility for your actions.
I’m looking at you loquat tree. You hurt me. You hurt me bad. We were so good together! When you first started acting sad, I did everything I could to make you happy. Remember the daily dates with the water hose? If not, maybe the $400 utility bill will jog your memory. What did I do wrong? Why do you refuse to cooperate? I am beginning to feel really jilted by how much you take-take-take without giving back.
And you, yaupon holly? You’re a native! You should know better than to behave like a tropical, which you have to admit you have been these days with the water business. I’ll keep it coming, but get real, this weather is suppose to be your jam! I expect you to behave better and maybe act grateful for the attention you’ve been getting. What would veggies say if they they knew you were acting like this?What am I doing? This isn’t me. I didn’t mean to point fingers. This is my fault. I’ll try and be better. I promise you. I’ll turn over a new leaf, and I hope you will consider growing some in return. I love you garden. Maybe in time, we can get back to where we were.
Last summer, good ole Gretchen (my garden guru) came to stay with us for a week to help us garden beginners install her customized landscape plan in our front yard. The visit was a great success and we went from dead, brown and lackluster to manicured, verdant and promising.
We couldn’t have asked for a better change (an upgrade that felt even better since we shed our own sweat to achieve it), but nearly a year later, it’s pretty magnificent to see how the plan has really taken shape.
Watching the garden morph through the seasons has been more than gratifying, it’s been a valuable learning experience. Through trial and error, we’ve gotten used to practicing regular weeding, pruning, re-mulching and other necessary upkeep tricks of the trade. What fun it’s been to figure out how to keep a garden alive, happy and thriving.
We’ve also experimented with ways to make watering more efficient. In the front bed, Heath repurposed an old pvc pipe to make an irrigation system we can effortlessly hook up to the hose for hassle-free watering.
We can only guess how it will change from now til next year.
In celebration of all things blooming right now in Austin, I submit to you the following image (one of my favorites) from a visit last spring around this same time of year to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Read more about the trip here and look forward to more “Foto Friday” posts. It’s a new thing I’m trying.
Honestly, I started writing this blog a couple of years ago just to keep track and have a record of Heath’s and my various comings-and-goings in Austin, not really expecting to gather any type of fan base or following. Today, as I celebrate 300 posts, I know I am really, truly, unimaginatively fortunate to have readers that can derive even the slightest bit of entertainment or inspiration from this little piece of internet. It’s a pleasure and a joy to have an audience.
This blog, which started nearly as an afterthought, has turned out to be the catalyst for motivating me to take on more home improvement, gardening and photography projects that otherwise may have gone unexplored. And I know it’s largely my readers who have inspired me to continue to tackle new territory (including my biggest fan, my mom, who has read and commented on every post, talk about supportive parenting). As I look back at the 300 posts and reflect on the more than 300 hours I have sunk into this funky manifesto, I feel it’s appropriate to mark this milestone with a collection of my favorite posts from throughout the years.
Don’t Bite The Hand that Feeds You
The story of what happens to rowdy roosters.
The Need for Seed
The joys and challenges of starting a garden from seed.
A contemplative post about finding balance between nesting at home and having experiences abroad.
They know me well at the painter’s counter
A lighthearted post about the important role unconventional colors play in our lives.
A slideshow of sorts
Photos from our life-altering Christmas vacation in India.
I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing. Here’s to another 300.
There is about a 3-4 week period in the spring where, in Austin, we experience essentially the opposite of the perfect storm:
- We enjoy moderate rainfall several times a month
- The average temperature ranges between 50 and 80 degrees
- The sun’s rays bathe the garden until around 8:30 p.m.
- The threat of a late winter freeze is virtually non existent
- Mosquitoes and other pesky insects have not yet metamorphosed from their larva state
It’s absolutely the best 3-4 weeks of the year where the temps are perfect, the insects are minimal and plant life is stunning. Without question, this is the happiest of times for man, beast and plant. I’m going to document this moment like crazy because I won’t see it again for 12 months.
All the blooms make it ideal for picking centerpiece bouquets, a hobby we can really only enjoy during this brief window of opportunity.
I love the buds and blooms that spring brings, but walking through our neighborhood yesterday, it was hard not to notice another type of dramatic foliage. The cactus. As a native Texan, cacti have always held a special place in my heart. Along with blue bonnets and live oaks, to me they are indicative of home. And maybe that is why I am especially prone to studying their varied and stunning architecture. Architecture that swoops, and climbs, and dives, and sprawls. Whether donning incendiary blooms, staccato quills or fluid curves, there is something magnetic about cacti.
From my iPhone on yesterday’s walk…