300 entries later…

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.

The Rumors Are True  (Our Wedding)
Mostly photographs by the phenomenal Stacy Sodolak of SMS Photography of a hot day in July that remains the happiest one of our lives.

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Don’t Bite The Hand that Feeds You
The story of what happens to rowdy roosters.

ruby1The Need for Seed
The joys and challenges of starting a garden from seed.

seed starter

Dear Diary
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.

carpetinmidcenturylivingroomA slideshow of sorts
Photos from our life-altering Christmas vacation in India.

The temple elephant.

I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing. Here’s to another 300.


This is the best our yard will ever look

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.

So green and luscious, perfect for patio-ing.

So green and luscious, perfect for patio-ing.

The veggie garden grows bigger by the day.

The broccoli will be ripe for the pickin' before too long.

The broccoli will be ripe for the pickin’ before too long.

green onions should be ideal in a month

green onions should be ideal in a month

purple iris and globe mallow

fireworks gomphrena

iris

iris

knockoutrose

knockout rose blooming in the front yard

knockoutrosebloom

blooming rose

marigold

marigolds

salvia

purple salvia

yellowiris

yellow iris and knock out rose

yellowsnapdragon

yellow snap dragon

All the blooms make it ideal for picking centerpiece bouquets, a hobby we can really only enjoy during this brief window of opportunity.

handpickedbouquet


The architecture of a cactus

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…

yucca greenagave

This one reminded me of a fried egg.

This one reminded me of a fried egg.

opuntia agavealoevera giantagave horsercripplers


Projects to ponder: fences made of old doors

One to-do or not-to-do project that Heath and I grapple with is whether or not to invest in a privacy fence. Really the only reason we have for not is the price tag. Choosing to put in a privacy fence would mean ultimately giving up a vacation or another project we desperately want to cross off our list. So what’s a girl to do to when she wants to be shielded from the neighbor’s relentlessly barking schnauzer but doesn’t want to be robbed blind by the cost of fence building? One potential possibility: doors.

Doors? Yes, doors. The Habitat for Humanity Restore had an abundance of old doors for about $10 a pop. Interesting. Very interesting. And it turns out, I’m not the only person who thinks the door-as-a-fence idea works. Photos from Pinterest.

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Perhaps it’s time to do some quick algebra.

1,308(inches) / 32(the average door’s width in inches) x $10 (the door’s cost = $408.75.  Adding in taxes and the cost of posts and other miscellaneous  materials, that price tag still comes in much lower than a traditional fence, and I kinda dig the funky mismatch vibe. Plus anytime you can reuse old materials and practice green construction, it’s a good thing.

Maybe this door fence idea isn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but it certainly isn’t the worst.


Picnic anyone?

Whelp, the time finally came for Bro to move out of the doodle house. His departure came about a month ago, and with him went the Foosball table (at our request), which meant it was time for us to look into more sit-able table options for our newly naked back patio. Muah ha ha, another weekend project to put on the books.

I did some fact checking and number crunching and figured the best option for us would be to pick up a prefab picnic table from Lowe’s ($88) and gussy ‘er up with a bright coat of paint. It would be affordable. It would be easy. It would be done!

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I chose to paint it what my pals calls “P-Terry’s blue” a sort of seafoam blue/turquoise color that is one the trademark colors of my favorite Austin hamburger chain.  I’ve eaten many a meal on their blue picnic tables and it seemed as fitting a color as any to bring to the patio. Plus, I’ve gotten so accustomed to painting furniture and walls in shades of blue that not to just seemed wrong some how. You know what’s not wrong? The finished product…

seafoampicnictablepatiopicnicYES!  We are picnic ready! Heath, who by some miracle never questions my bizarre color choices, was smitten with the finished product, saying it looked good enough to eat. Whoop, whoop!

In addition to prepping the picnic table, we also spent some of the weekend sprucing up the garden and freshening up things we had let go over the winter. The pallet planter got updated with some hardy succulents and we put in a handful of fast-growing, drought-tolerant natives along the back and side fence to give us some future privacy from the neighbors (and their incessantly barking schnauzers). Soon enough, I hope to have a really nice backyard space in which to romp with the doodles and host fancy pants backyard garden parties.

turquoisepicnictablesucculentplanter

succulents_palletplanterAnd, with luck, we will soon have edible goodies to fill the empty space on our PTerry’s picnic bench.  Heath stayed busy by tending to the veggie garden, planting sugar snap peas, lettuce, onions, potatoes, broccoli and carrots.

sprouting onion

sprouting onion

lettuce coming in strong

broccoli coming in strong

sugar snap peas going nuts (Pardon our mess in the background, we are protecting them from cold and chickens, a brutal dynamic.)

sugar snap peas going nuts (Pardon our mess in the background, we are attempting to protect them from cold and chickens, a brutal duo.)

I’m so excited by all that has developed in the backyard in the last two weeks with the rise in temperatures and rise in our morale. I better enjoy garden season while it lasts, because heaven knows by May the triple digit temperatures will be upon us again. Until then, who’s down for a picnic?

doodlehousepicnic


A Garden Bouquet For Valentine’s Day

Spring isn’t exactly in bloom here in Austin, but we still have plenty of buds that are brightening up our yard this February.  In honor of the flower-givingest day on the calendar (well, maybe Mother’s day would have something to say about that) I bring you the bouquet of buds we have opening up this winter/spring.

knock out rose

knock out rose

Globemallow (This thing is about to burst!)

Globemallow (This thing is about to burst!)

Snapdragon. One of my favorite annuals.

Snapdragon. One of my favorite annuals.

Echinacea

Echinacea

Silver Cassia

Silver Cassia

Geranium

Geranium

Salvia

Salvia

Ice plant

Ice plant

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Happy Valentine’s Day from the doodle house!


One year later

A little more than a year ago, we were making our way toward the 2011 ACL music festival when our realtor called to tell us the sellers of a little house on Corona Drive had accepted our offer to buy their place; a month later they handed us the key. Even though the process of buying our first home happened fairly quickly, in many ways this one year anniversary of life in our first home seems like it took a lifetime to reach–especially when I think about all the projects I wanted to accomplish in the first year.

I had a lofty checklist of things to add, modify and remove in the new house. Admittedly, I was a little too ambitious. I wanted wood floors within the first month and new counter tops within the first two weeks. Fast forward 365 days and the original counters and carpets are still here. I still don’t have a dishwasher in the kitchen, and we still let the dogs out into the backyard through a window and not a proper backdoor. But while there are many, many, many improvements I still haven’t found the time or money to make, I’m careful to remember and be proud of all that we have accomplished in one year together in our first place.

For starters, we (with A LOT of help from my mom) we were able to install some much needed landscaping in the front yard.

The uninspired and lackluster front yard before we got our hands (and feet and faces) dirty with gardening.

And here it is today.

We put in a path that leads to the front door.

And planted lots of native color.

Echinacea is forever smiling.

We painted and added windows to our front door for much needed character.

And in the backyard we did even more.  When we first arrived, the only life in the backyard was a 30-year-old pecan tree.

The bare backyard.

So we added a shed and built a new and improved chicken coop for our feathered friends.

We put in raised beds for veggies…

…and a rain garden to help with drainage.

We built a fence to help with privacy.

And we added some spunk to the patio with a pallet planter, and dining area.

Inside, we got things done too…like painting more walls than we can count.

The bland walls before we got our hands on them.

And after many iterations of furniture placement, we  finally found the perfect layout for our massive living room.

We put up invisible book shelves in the office.

And I finally found the perfect way to incorporate a map wall into the house.

In the kitchen we refinished the cabinets and added new hardware, bringing some much needed shine to a kitchen that was in the running to be named one of the country’s ugliest.

Dinged up faded cabinets and rusty black metal hardware makes for a creepy kitchen.

A little shine goes a long way. At some point we’ll get to updating the backsplash and countertops.

We also stripped the knotty pine paneling to make room for more shelving and storage.

For me, knotty pine is beautiful in small doses. The original kitchen had more than what I prefer.

On top of the big projects, there were dozens of weekends and evenings spent painting furniture, framing artwork, hanging curtains and performing the many other tiny tasks that culminate in having a happy house that feels like home. I didn’t get to a lot of the big projects, but I’m learning to cope with our revised timeline. As my older and wiser home-owning cohorts have told me, the list of home improvement projects never goes away, it just changes over time, and that’s part of the fun. So on our one year anniversary, I’m opting not to lament the projects we have not yet gotten to and instead will celebrate what we have accomplished. Plus, we still need things to keep us busy as we head in to year two.