Lemon tree

My parents gave me a gift certificate for a lemon tree and planter for Christmas. Molbaks had a sale (so convenient!!) for 25% off indoor plants and planters this weekend! So off I went, and came home with a meyer lemon and the prettiest pot that both matches and jazzes up our walls.

The pot is a lovely green, with metallic speckles.

It’s very hard to photograph the color, and impossible when it’s so dark out – it looks very different in each kind of light (grey, sun, night/electric) and is very glossy.

Thanks to the sale there was quite a bit extra, so I got new Calathea plants for our bedside tables. They’re supposed to tolerate low light (but maybe not quite so low as our bedroom in January in a rainy spell?) – I have them in the kitchen window for the moment until things are a bit brighter. They’re very pretty and have a lot of personality, raising and lowering their leaves.

The prayer plant from our bathroom is taking a Dec/Jan jaunt into brighter climes as well. It’s so much happier and has started leafing out. It’s so *cheerful* in the corner of the kitchen window, it makes me happy to see it there.

Vacation house day

I actually spent the first hour or two of my vacation day writing for work (not my norm, but things are busy there and it put me in a much better mentality for taking the day off).

I brought over two carloads of stuff – the first was the bulk of the downstairs closet (all of our sports/camping gear, plus college notes and coursework) and almost all of my paper files, and the second was all of the wood that we’ve had stashed under beds, couches, and the corners of closets for the last three years. (I had a brief wood working spell when we first moved out here until it became clear that there was nowhere really to handle such projects. I’m so excited about the new garage!!)

Then, I spent a little bit longer adding to the trash pile in the garage and driveway – there were plenty of trash bags of rotten pine needles in the back yard, some rotten pallets, some half-used moldering bags of topsoil, wet carpet, leftover fencing, rusted metal plant stands, broken playskool climbers, etc. I dragged them out to the front Luckily, our seller’s realtor agreed to haul all of this (and yesterday’s garage collection) away for us, and so I wanted to make it accessible for whoever came to retrieve it.

I also found some treasures – some long-handled clippers in good shape, a wire rake, a nice 6’ step ladder. I brought those all over to the garage, but first used the clippers to make paths in each of the side-yards so that we can walk without stooping. Much better. Though clearly, there’s still a LOT of progress to make. (If anyone has advice about when to clip rhododendrons and hydrangea in Seattle so that they still bloom the next year, I’m all ears!!)

With no other good ways to procrastinate, I reattacked the cupboards. They’re finally clean, and I took apart the face of the oven to reattach the handles that we found on the counter. Next up is shelf paper for the bottom shelves.

Meanwhile, Kevin finished the last of the demolition.

While he worked on that, I went around with a plastic cup to remove all of the nails, hooks, screws and anchors left in the walls. I finished with almost a full cup – clearly I will be a master spackler by the end of the weekend. It looks like we may be painting a bit more than we originally intended to. The master bedroom is white, which would be fine except that the walls are pretty scratched/holey. We’re thinking yellow? (Kevin pointed out that regardless, it will probably match some portion of the quilt. :-)) The bedroom that will be my office is green, but has Winnie the Pooh art all over the place, and the painting was sort of uneven. I have yet to decide on a good color. White is boring, but I love it. Green and pink are both under consideration, but they’d have to be pretty pale since the room faces northeast and isn’t too bright.

Kevin’s bedroom/office will be painted, I’m sure, and we’ll probably do another coat of white in the fish room. The living room/dining room is a gorgeous citrus green, but we want to put a red couch in there, so we’ll see how that goes. And as I said yesterday, the family room will definitely be painted. So we’ll be busy.

The new as-of-today project is the laundry room.

There is old, old linoleum on the floor, scratched walls, and a huge, heavy cabinet without shelves. (That photo is hard for perspective, but that cabinet is more than two feet deep and no shelves.) Since we’ll be ordering a new washer and dryer, we both thought that this might be the time to do things from scratch. New vinyl floors, new paint, and perhaps two white 30” cabinets? The room is pretty minimal – 56” square, with two appliances and two doors, so we definitely want to make the best use of space possible.

Things that are green

1. New strips for the bushes and trees in the quilt!

I was cutting at the kitchen table — one of the coolest spots in the house, since it’s on the first floor, all the blinds were closed, and I got the few fragments of breeze from the fan that made it past the fishtank. (We really should buy another fan at some point.) After sunset, I had to give in and turn on a light to read the markings on the ruler, but in all it wasn’t a bad way to take my mind off the heat. (Good thing the fabric wasn’t red or orange!)

2. The second batch of beans!

I really need to stake the plant, since it’s gotten very floppy and top-heavy as it’s grown, but in the meantime it seems to keep spitting out plants unperturbed.

P.S. The fish made it through the heat wave without issue. The tank got up to 83.4 degrees or so, but Kevin’s ice cubes and ministrations throughout the day seem to have done the trick, and when I approached the tank to take a picture, all of the dudes, including the shrimp, came clamoring over to the glass to be fed. A very good sign.

Sorry for the florescent, flash-marred picture. It’s really hard to take good pictures when the white tank lights are off. First thing in the morning, we turned off all of the refugium lights and the white lights on the main tank, leaving only the blue main tank lights for the day. It was an attempt to avoid as much heat as possible without stressing out the fish and corals too much. As a result, everything glows (think bright colors under a black light). Pretty in person, but tricky for photos!

The original forecasts for today were for a second day in the upper nineties, but luckily, cold wind blew through overnight and the morning was quite cloudy, so we were given a reprieve. 🙂

The Garden Grows

I can’t tell you how pleased I am to actually have a garden this year, instead of just plants:

Hopefully next year it will be a *real* garden, but just flowers, herbs and vegetables, regardless of location, is exciting. 🙂

The strawberries are the current excitement: we’ve had four already, and there a a bunch ripening.

When we have a house, we’ll have a patch, not only four plants. Though, that said, four plants are surprisingly plentiful.
The tomatoes are blooming, which seems like a good sign. I read today about watering them with milk — worth a shot?? The beans continue to spread, grow and bloom, and I’ve started seeing baby beans! Very exciting.

Not natural

We have enough friends with organic mindsets that read the blog that I thought I should post the largest strawberry I’ve ever seen, so that we can all tsk over it.

With syrup, on waffles, not bad. But it’s totally absurd how large the strawberries in grocery stores are. Can’t wait until the deck dudes are ripe!

Crocus watch

On the way to the airport for my Boston/Providence trip, I put Kevin on crocus watch. The flowers hadn’t opened yet, and I just knew that they were yellow inside, and I didn’t want *both* of us to miss them.

He had been out on the back deck dutifully taking pictures every morning before work, and they still hadn’t opened. Then on Wednesday morning there was pelting rain, and by the time I got home from the airport at 4:00, this was the sight that met me.

Oh, no! The exciting news is that apparently I had more than one set of bulbs in there! I have no idea where the while pair came from (though I have vague recollections of an unsuccessful attempt at forcing crocuses in year one. Perhaps they got good growing vibes this year? Kevin said that they hadn’t been there seven hours earlier, and his photos confirm it. I love crocuses.

In other outdoor plant news, the mini daffodils are still blooming like mad, and keep shooting up more buds. They’re wonderful.

And of the birthday plants that Kevin gave me last year (they got lost a bit in the excitement of the ring that showed up five minutes later), several of them made it through our unusually harsh winter and have been sending up shoots. One of the most exciting to me is the periwinkle. (aka Vinca Minor, and I’ve also heard it called myrtle. I’ve been reading more about it — doesn’t the Variegata sound gorgeous? And the Sterling Silver?) We had a bunch on the edge of the woods by our house when I was growing up that would bloom around Mothers Day. It’s very popular here, and blooms just as the clouds are starting to lose their intensity. And not only did mine come back, but there are buds everywhere!

Almost Crocuses

Late Feruary seems to be bulb time in Seattle. The weather still hasn’t evened out — one day it’s seventies and sunny, and they for the next two weeks it’s deep clouds and forties. This weekend has been the latter, which doesn’t lend itself to plant photos.

After giving up for two days, I finally decided to just take photos with a flash. The deeply exciting part is that these pictures were taken on a dark day at 5:15, and yet the sky is still light. We’re making progress!!

Here are the almost-crocuses. I check on them every morning, and while they get closer and closer, they haven’t quite bloomed yet. Soon!!

The front porch is doing better. My daffodils are sprouting more heads by the day. They do tend to reflect the flash, though, so sorry for the crummy lighting.

I’m ready for spring!!

Gardening roundup

Yesterday was in the lower sixties and gorgeous. It’s been the first weekend day that I’ve been tempted to head out to the deck and spend time on the planters. Venturing out the back door was highly rewarded. My strawberry planter has been filled with moss since October. A lot of the strawberry plant died back during the December snow storm and the subsequent January hoopla, but there’s still a strong little plant there. And, do you see the four surprises?

Namely, crocuses! I bought an almost-blooming crocus at the grocery store last year when Kevin admitting to not knowing what they were. In my New England world view, they’re the emblem of spring, spiking through the oak leaves (and sometimes through the snow) to be the first flowers. Neither oak leaves nor snow are in vogue here, and the arrival is a good month or two too soon, but I was delighted to see the replanted bulbs sprouting! They weren’t there yesterday, so in typical crocus fashion, they suddenly have an inch and a half on the world.

Also on the back deck, my irises bounced back from the storm (where they looked drowned and pathetic) and have sent up a zillion new shoots. These were a gift from Ava’s garden (my boss times three), and I haven’t seen them bloom yet. I thought they wouldn’t get enough sunlight to grow, let alone flower, but a season later, they look so healthy. Here’s to blooms! I can’t wait.

The mystery plant in this pot has come to life. I suspect that it’s mint. The stems look really strong, so I’m hoping it has a great season.

And, one of the first plants I bought in Washington was a little thing of chives. They just died convincingly in late December, but now there are a ton of spiky shoots. It lives! Can’t wait to cook with this one again!

More tulips

After a week, the tulips are ebullient, twisty-stemmed, and nearly 9 inches taller. We have a bonus room at the top of the stairs where I have all of my stuff: computer, books, files, yarn. Coming up the stairs after work, all you see is tulips.

The room has huge windows and gets tons of sun, so the cut tulips just thrive and grown and bend during the day.

Such great flowers.

Tulip season: post one of many

We’ve hit my favourite time of year. Starting in late January, the grocery stores around here have bunches of gorgeous tulips at three bunches of five for ten dollars. In a few weeks, they’ll be even cheaper. During my errands this weekend, I bought a new littler vase and pretty pebbles from Crate and Barrel in honour of the season.

The flowers are still wrapped tight, but the stems have grown several inches overnight. I love tulips.