We labored

On Labor Day weekend, Greg and I decided it was time to make a change. We moved into our house about a year and a half ago, which means that we have been living in a toasted almond world. Every room of our house (save the blue kitchen and the peachy bathroom) was painted the same beige-ish shade. It looked very nice. And very impersonal, which I suppose is what you want when you’re trying to sell a house. We painted the nursery yellow before the kiddo was born, and we decided that the time had come to make our house even more homey.

So we painted some swaths of color on the dining room wall and decided to go bold. Really bold. [I generally shy away from intense color. I really dig earth tones, but for some reason I’ve always thought “earthy” meant subdued.] We ended up choosing American brick by Valspar, which is about as far from toasted almond as we could go.

It took an entire day of painting, but I’m quite happy with the end result. Completing the process of making the room “ours,” we also moved the chandelier out of the den and into the dining room. We removed the plantation shutters and replaced them with cordless plantation blinds. We also replaced the switch covers. It’s a big, bold change, and I love it.

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Raised Beds

Back in March, our friends Chris, Patrick and Claire helped us construct raised beds on the side of our house. Our neighborhood is full of mature trees, which makes it both beautiful and shady. The only place that gets consistent sunlight is the south side of the house. When we moved in, that area was planted with bushes that really didn’t do anything for me. It’s not that they were terribly ugly, but they were not adding anything to the space. We decided to make the investment in raised beds because 1) we wanted them, 2) they are a productive use of the area, and 3) it would provide a place to grow greens in the spring and overwintering crops like garlic that we can’t do at the big garden because of the rules.

Chris runs GrowMemphis and knows a whole heck of a lot about raised bed gardening. (Side note–he and Claire are making their dream of being small farmers a reality later this year when they take over his family’s farmland. I’ll miss them being down the street, but it is amazing to watch them make their farm a reality.) Claire and Patrick know a lot about gardening too and were willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to help us construct the beds with nothing but spaghetti and beer for payment. We have fantastic people in our lives.

The actual construction was on the guys because we used railroad ties (courtesy of Bob’s Tie Yard, seriously), which are heavy. They had to cut some of the ties in half to make the ends. The stacked ties are reinforced on the sides with rebar to keep them in place. One bed is tall and comes up to my waist. The other one is only one tie high and is the one that is planted with asparagus. Two weeks later, Patrick and Chris came back over and helped us get the manure and soil in place. Chris knows some horse owners in the Bartlett area who are happy to have someone take manure off of their hands. We put a layer down in the tall bed to act as fertilizer. The rest of the square footage was filled with cotton burr compost.

This spring, we had arugula, spinach, two types of lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, swiss chard and peas in the tall bed. The peas straight up died, and only half of the radishes made actual bulbs. The carrots and beets are still in the ground with plans to pull them up this weekend. The arugula and spinach were delicious additions to our salads for the past month. The plants bolted so I planted a tomatillo and black cherry tomato plant in their place. The swiss chard is quite tasty, and we will be eating our second harvest of it for dinner tomorrow night. Once I pull up the carrots and beets, I will plant two more tomato plants and basil in their place. Next fall/spring, I’m definitely going to stick with growing greens and lettuces in that bed.

Cost–High

Labor–High

Impact–High

Turning our house into our home, part 1 of many

My husband and I bought a house almost exactly a year ago. Actually, we found out we were having a baby on a Tuesday and learned that our offer on our house was accepted on a Wednesday. It was a big week for us.

I was pregnant when we moved and got big and awkward soon afterwards. I am not graceful under normal circumstances so adding a growing human to the mix brought out a whole new level of clumsiness. The point of this explanation is that we spent the past year mostly maintaining our house and dreaming of the projects we wanted to do. To be sure, some projects were undertaken and finished (like Greg’s dining room table and kitchen cart he built us), but mostly, we [and then just he] tried to keep things clean.

But now! The city has thawed, my body has healed and my brain and hands are itching to turn our house into our home. There’s projects we have already finished this spring and more that are underway and many, many more that are free floating thoughts under constant revision. I’ll put up what we’ve already done sometime in the future, but for now, I have a baby who’s waking up and asparagus crowns to plant.

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