Monday, December 30, 2013

Lamium Eradication

Our backyard is definitely going to be a work in progress.  It slopes gently to the west and is surrounded by a large douglas fir to the north by the house, several hemlocks to the west, and a douglas fir and some sort of deciduous tree with red leaves in the neighbor's yard to the east. The south side currently has a hurricane wire fence that is mostly falling over.

Southeast corner of yard in September. Taken from deck.

After some monitoring and discussion with the MG, we decided the best place to put my garden is along the south fence line.  This area will get the most sun. Not a lot of sun, mind you, but hopefully enough for lettuce, peas, kale, etc. Tomatoes and peppers might not be in the cards for the next few years until a tree or five are taken out.

South west corner of yard.
 Unfortunately, this area is covered in the invasive Lamium. Lamium is in the mint family and spreads basically every way possible - ants carry seeds across the yard, runners, stems that touch the ground can root, etc. I'm not sure where it was first planted, but it is currently throughout my potential garden space and in the back of the neighbor's yard.

I spent about an hour yesterday working on this patch.  I started in the south east corner and was doing a really good job of pulling up everything I found by the roots. After a significant amount of time, I realized I hadn't made it past a small corner, maybe 1/6 of the bed, and gave up on being thorough.  From there out I mostly pulled foliage and stems, only digging up the occasional root ball when it was easy. And it still took me over an hour.

Lamium patch after an hour of weeding
I gave up when the Seahawks game started. Luckily, we had lots of cardboard on hand after the holidays, so I broke down a couple of boxes to set over the weeded areas in an attempt to block the sunlight and kill the remaining plants. I'm not too hopeful it will work.  My online research shows that the best methods of control are chickens (who will eat the foliage, but won't get down to the roots so it will keep growing back), manual weeding, and roundup.

One potential stroke of luck - there appears to be landscape fabric under at least part of this lamium patch.  There are several inches of soil over it, but with some effort we might be able to pull up the fabric and dislodge the ALL of the lamium by the root. It will take big muscles, but it might be possible.

If all else fails I will probably buy a bottle of roundup and attack the area when it's dry out.

Here is the stuff in another patch under the doug fir growing through our deck.

I've heard that flowering starts really early in our area, so pulling the foliage now before it blooms and spread seed is a must!

Three Baby Hats!

I was asked to knit a baby hat from a picture months ago. I was given this as an example.

Super cute. But try as I might, I could NOT find a pattern that was similar. Ugh. So I made one up.

I started with one baby hat pattern that didn't have ear flaps and one that did, but neither were close. I took the stitch count from one and cast on for the ear flaps. I must have started this dang hat four times before I decided things had to change. Now I can't even remember what I did, but I know I started at the bottom of the ear flaps and went from there. 


 Ugh. Not my best work. It turned out really wide and really short. I tried it on my nephew and it was... well, wide and short. And he's about 9 months older than the intended recipient. 

I hated it. It look me weeks to bring myself to sew in the ends because I was so disappointed.

Enter the Baby Earflap Hat. I had just finished knitting it for a friend's baby shower and I loved it.

Simple stockinette stitch hat with ear flaps, braided tassels, and a pom. Easy to knit. Clear, concise pattern. SO MUCH BETTER.

Back to the stash for more baby girl-colored yarn. I came up with cream and purple (good thing her parents are Husky fans).

So much better. So. Much. BETTER.


 And it fits!!

I ended up sending them both, with my apologies for the pink one and hopes it would fit at some point.

Lesson learned - always follow patterns for baby stuff.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So many options...

I picked up paint chips at Benjamin Moore on my way home from work last week and have been staring at them taped up on all the walls. We are definitely decided on the colors for the bathroom (soft fern) and the office (cedar key), but the living/dining, craft, and master bedrooms are all still in the option stage.

Last night I picked up 8oz paint samplers of four colors for $3 each. Definitely think it was worth spending $15 to double check the paint options, because now I'm totally confused!!

We are thinking gray, or greige, for the living room/dining room and down through the hall. I like gray and think it will go well with the fireplace, but was worried about a cool gray not going with the beige carpet and couch.

The two colors are Benjamin Moore's Light Pewter (lighter) and Revere Pewter (darker). I've seen pictures with Revere pewter in rooms and in no way does it look this dark!!

Granted these pictures were taken at 8pm last night with no natural lighting whatsoever, but still. There Revere is SO DARK!

I think it might have a little more personality than the Light Pewter.

But a whole hallway with Revere Pewter might feel like walking into a cave.

On the other hand, we painted both Light Pewter (left) and Misty Gray (right) in the bedroom.

I couldn't believe it when I put the Light Pewter on the wall.  Compared to the hallway, holy moley, it's super dark in this room!

The Misty Gray is even a little hard to see, but I think it might just need a third coat in order to cover the yellow.

All of our walls are currently a really pale cream/yellow, almost a buttercream. They are light, so I had assumed we wouldn't need to prime, but it is really showing through these light gray colors

Above is Benjamin Moore's Yellow Freeze. It was NOT what I was expecting. I might try out the original yellow I had been thinking for the craft room - Moonlight.

 Just to give you an idea of what I had been thinking, these are pictures of Revere Pewter on the walls.

This is the Misty Gray we liked for the bedroom.

The yellow that got me thinking...

The green for the bathroom.

Cedar Key for the office.

Well, what do you think?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Before Pictures

I last posted in July. Apparently I've been busy. You know, summertime, planning a wedding, blah blah blah.  But now that I'm back in the game, I can show you what I've been working on. That last post, saying all I needed was ribbing on the sleeves to finish my dolman sweater? Yeah, that hasn't happened yet.

What has happened?

BOOM! We bought a house.

So far it's just been a lot of unpacking boxes and setting in and remembering where everything is, but we are about to get to work on some things.

(These are all pictures from the listing, so all the furniture is staged.)

This fireplace? Not doing anything with it.

This one in the basement family room? We are buying a gas insert this weekend. 

This bathroom in the basement with cork floors? Not touching it.

The hall bath upstairs will be getting new tiling sooner rather than later due to a crack or two in the surround. And the faucet already needs a repair...

Our third (!!!) bathroom will stay as is. "As is" as in WONKY! This room has three doors, one to the basement, one to the backyard, and one at the top of the stairs into the hallway. I think the fact that it is the laundry room, too, glosses over the wonky-factor.

Dining room? What kind of updates can you give to a dining room??

Ah, yes, the kitchen.  What you are looking as is an oven that is probably original to the house, i.e. from 1962.  I imagine we will get frustrated with the uneven, slow heating coils and touchy, overly hot oven at some point in the next two years.

I'm sure that from the first picture of the front of the house, the first thing you thought was "What, no garage?" I know that was my first impression of the house (before I went inside and saw the wonky bathroom). I'm still disappointed about the lack of garage, simply for the space for storage and projects. But we do have something almost as good, but a quarter of the size....

The shop room! This room is great. It's unfinished, so we can pretty much do what we want with it. It has a window so it could technically be turned into a bedroom, except there isn't a closet. We will just be using it as a shop for now. I put together two storage racks and now all of our camping, gardening, and snow gear, and even holiday decorations, have a long term home.

Last but not least...

The back yard. Mostly shaded by the douglas fir growing through our deck (yeah, you read that right) and a couple of hemlocks, it is currently mostly moss and mushrooms. The shade doesn't bode well for my future gardening attempts, but that probably won't stop me. I'm anticipating building a few raised beds along the decrepit chicken wire fence. But that's another project on the list...

The first batch of After pictures will be arriving soon. We plan on painting most of the upstairs the week of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Close to Dolman


This was before I finished the neck hole.  Really all I have left is the ribbing around the arms. Should take me like an hour, max. However, before I can knit the ribbing, I need to figure out how much extra I have around the armpits. I decided when I was doing the stripes that area that it needed to be longer. Now I have gaping pit holes! All it should take is a slip on and a mirror look, but it's so hard to put on alpaca when it's 90 degrees outside.

My garden, however, is happy in the heat.

Look at that zucchini grow! This was taken a few days ago and I now have two three inch zucchini fruits.

The roses are almost done with this bloom. And the strawberries! Oh, the strawberries. I had a really good harvest from my June-bearing plants and they are sending runners everywhere. The winter savory, lime thyme, and oregano are taking off, too.

I think this is the strangest looking tomato plant ever. I had a couple of stragglers when I was moving my tomatoes to bigger pots a couple months ago and popped this guy in an old blueberry pot (the blueberry didn't survive last summer). The tomato is tall and stringy, but proof that tomatoes can survive and thrive on their own in Seattle. I have paid absolutely zero attention to it since I planted it. No flowers yet, but it's barely July, so we'll have to wait and see.

The only guy not happy in this heat?

The poor shasta daisies outside the fence. They get very little water from the hose (because I'm too lazy to haul it outside the fence) and were feeling it on Saturday.  I took this after I came home from working at the boat ramp. I totally sympathized because I felt the same way. Sunburned, tired, and thirsty!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finished Twilight

Finished and delivered the Twilight afghan. 

I've been so bad about taking pictures of my finished objects before giving them away.  This is the only photo I have of the blanket. Hopefully I'll get one the next time I'm in Portland visiting.

Project: Twilight Afghan
Yarn: Caron One Pound, Country Blue
Needles: US Size 17, 29" circular

I used two and a half pounds of yarn! And only took four months...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tube Top

I had high hopes of finishing my Roxborough Dolman by my birthday, because I started it on my birthday last year.

Right now it's just a tube top. I don't think that's going to happen.

I've been distracted by this giant project:

But it reaches from my toes to my chinny chin chin now, so I think it's time to do my 8 rows of garter and be done. Yay for late wedding gifts!

May Planting

Weather here was HOT HOT HOT this weekend. We hit 80 and that is freakishly unheard of in Seattle. I got a bit of a late start both Saturday and Sunday so I only had an hour or two in the garden before it got too hot to be outside, but I got quite a bit done.

I've been hardening off most of the plants this week in preparation for the weekend heat wave.  On Saturday all of the peppers and tomatillos got new homes that were appropriately sized. Of course I ran out of pots halfway through and made a mad dash around the inside and outside of my house trying to find pots that were big enough but not too huge. They all look much happier now.

Sunday I did some planting. Silly Robyn, planting six tomatoes gave me six pots that I could have used for the peppers! Ugh. Poor planning.

I planted two Sungold, two Saucy, 1 Purple Calabash, and 1 Nova tomato. I have one open spot left to fill with an Indigo Rose, but the two plants were still kind of small and spindly, so they're going to stay inside for another week before planting.  Marigolds got placed between front row of tomatoes, and some Kong 12 foot sunflower seeds were planted between the back tomatoes. I also managed to squeeze in three of my basil starts diagonally between the tomatoes (one each of Aroma, Cinnamon, and Amethyst).  And I still had space to plant some lettuce seeds! Fingers crossed the birds won't eat all the seeds in before they can germinate. I only have three little lettuce guys that are 1 inch tall, the rest have been picked off.

I waited until Sunday evening when the heat started to wane to work on the north bed. The radishes are starting to plump up and I'm super excited. I ran some twine through last year's pea trellis and planted beans along half the length. It might be a bit early, but this weather is supposed to continue through the week, so I'm hoping they make it. I also planted a Black Beauty Zucchini and a Golden Zucchini that I started inside that just sprouted, one on either side of the bamboo trellis. I tried to hill three cucumber seeds at each corner of the bamboo teepee, but I haven't had any luck with cucumbers so far, so we'll see.

There are still a few kale and chard plants from last fall's planting to pull up.  I have butternut and delicata squash seeds sprouting inside that are destined to live here. And maybe a few cosmos to draw in the pollinators will go along the fence.

And lastly, the carrots and radishes beside/below the bird feeder are starting to come up. Do birds like radishes? Dunno about the chickedees, but this Robyn certainly does.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What the Hail?

Part of Seattle were hit with a couple of inches of hail over the weekend. Most of Wallingford didn't have power for about an hour on Saturday. I'm counting my blessings none of that hail hit my garden.

My peas are still too short to reach the twine on the fence. The last section of peas I planted are up, but there are two suspiciously vacant spots. I'm debating whether it was squirrels or failed seed. I'm betting it was the former.

The daffodil and tulip layered pot we got last year is looking pretty good. We only got one daffodil for some reason (last year it has 3), but we've got a handful of budding tulips.  The violets are full on blooming and look beautiful mixed in with the greenery.

Speaking of tulips, the yard guys didn't weed whack mine this year that they're all about to bloom. Let's hope the neighbor kid is in a better mood this spring....

Here's my herb and rose garden.  The roses look to be healthy and happy, and the herbs I transplanted from the ORG are taking to their new homes. You can't really see them in the photo, but there is winter savory, curry, two limy thymes, and a greek oregano in there.

My strawberries are going bonkers! Several of the runners from the potted plants, in addition to the ones pilfered from the walkway at the display garden are leafing out and looking wonderful.

Several of the blueberries are flowering. I haven't seen too many bees yet, so this is a little worrysome.

The big shade tree is just now starting to leaf. I'm happy it's waited this long because it's allowed me to keep an eye on the bird feeder!

French breakfast radishes. This section of the fence fell down last week. The seedlings were a bit trampled by the guy who came to fix it, but they appear none the worse for wear.

Yesterday I transplanted all of the kale I started indoors. I kind of hardened them off. They went outside on several nicer days and came in at night, then they spent three days in the cold frame. But they're kale and cold hardy, so they should be fine. I plan on sharing a couple of plants with two friends, so I won't be planting all of the nine starts!

Speaking of being cold hardy, you can see the swiss chard and kale that I planted late last fall. They have all woken up from hibernation and are starting to grow. I should probably fertilize them all, but without knowing how long I will be staying at this house, I'd rather just harvest them all the way to the ground at the end of May if I have to move.

One last thing - doesn't this guy look a helluva lot better than it did when we moved in?

Not the best picture, but this was taken right before we moved in. I kept hacking at it until I got it to a manageable size. When I was going walkabout in the yard yesterday I was looking at it and thinking "dang, what a good job." It's sad to think about what the garden is going to look like a couple months after we move out. It's a constant battle with grass and weeds in the beds, and in very little time they will take them back.