Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hello, Summer! (And everyone else who's been looking for a new post since November!!)

It's been too long, so let's just ignore the fact that I've been "too busy" to update you on our house projects (and there have been quite a few since November) and dive right in to sweet, sweet summer time.   I've been asked about our gardens, and though I just missed photographing most of our beauties in bloom, here are the lovely green goodies gracing our yard this year via pictorial tour:

Let's start with our veggie garden.  Since we'll be tearing out the side patio where our veggie garden lived last year and replacing it with a circle driveway (woo!), I kindly begged my darling husband to construct some more permanent planter beds for me in the back yard.  Per usual, his handy work is esquisite and I have zero complaints.  Even the window boxes attached to the ends were his idea!  Ain't he a peach?  Sorry ladies, he's all mine.  And just a quick side tip for the mounting brackets for these window boxes: buy some ladder brackets instead of window box brackets and you'll save yourself about $10 a set!! 
We recycled some of the stepping stones from the old front walk way.

Pretty flowers overflowing from these cheap window boxes add some charm to our otherwise coffin-like planter boxes.
Our guinea pig plant for the year: corn!  We'll also be planting pumpkins this week.

Zucchini - the big guy I started from seed this spring!

Red bell pepper, green bell pepper, jalapeno, banana pepper, and sweet peppers.  Nom nom nom.

After our deluge of tomatoes from our plants last year, we opted to downsize to one heirloom tomato and one cherry tomato plant.

Spinach that we started from seed (and marigolds keepin' the insects at bay).

One of our few potted strawberry plants - they've been poopin' out delicious berries for the past few weeks.

Chocolate mint.  Oh so good.
Remember the garden we planted two years ago?  Almost everything (with the exception of a few of this winter's casualties) is still kickin'.

Please ignore the walkway that needs weeding.

Daisies for days.


Hi, color.  I've missed you.

Impatiens and begonias in the window box.


Just starting to get their groove on.

Yarrow (a personal fav).

Super soft lamb's ear.

Baby's breath.

I have no time, but I have plenty of thyme.  Seriously, plenty.

Potted begonias and my presh little hosta in an antique poopy pot.
And last but not least, here are the miscellaneous plants we're tending this year:
I planted some vinca and dusty miller for the (eventual) deck/patio.

Squirrel-guarded lantana.

Our pretty 'lil side porch basket.

This is a Love Lies Bleeding plant that I started from seed this spring (not an emo band).  I'll transplant him once he's bigger.

Monstrous hostas and my battle to keep our barely visible clematis alive (the hostas keep overtaking it).

Front porch baskets.

I adore this New Guinea Impatiens's vibrant purple.

The colors on these guys remind me of a watermelon.

The newcomer: a pistachio hydrangea!  It's just starting to bloom and I'm super excited - the blooms are multicolor.  I know.
Here's where the majority of our time is currently being spent...dogs and deck/patio:
The usual chaos.

Cute chaos.

Doesn't look like much yet, but the project is well underway.  In our free time we go swimming in that tiny pool.  Just kidding, that's Rooney's pool.

I'm sorry it's been a while since the last post!  I know there have been some diehard DIY squirrel fans who've been itching for some photos and updates.  Since most of you are in it for the pics anyway, the next few updates might be more photo heavy and less wordy...I'll be honest, it may be the only way I can keep up!  Keep your eyes peeled for posts updating you on the kitchen pantry (which exists now!!), a closet overhaul, a new fence, and the latest and greatest project: our deck/patio combo.  Try to contain yourselves.  Because I can't.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Vinegar is Amazing.

Me + Vinegar = BFF's for life.  I've recently discovered the amazing cleaning powers of vinegar.  Not only is it affordable, it's safe and natural to use around pets and wee ones.  Vinegar (and baking soda) is also a natural deodorizer, which will help take any lingering scents out of fabrics or rugs.  Oh, and it gets the job done.  Let's discuss, shall we?

My kitchen rug is something that I sought long and hard for; after weeks of searching for the perfect rug, I finally stumbled across this one at TJ-Maxx for only $25.  It was perfect pattern 'n hue.

And then one day my darling husband spilled an entire container of oil and vinegar dressing on it.  I tried my hardest to clean up the spill to avoid a stain, but it was too late...my coveted rug was tarnished.

After a few weeks of feeling a rush of sadness and disappointment every time I looked at my once-flawless rug, I decided I needed to try to remove the stain.  Carpet cleaners and other stain-removing products aren't always affordable, and I'm pretty sure I've never found a product that actually does much to alleviate a stain, so I decided to take a different route: Vinegar.  I've heard all of the hoopla about the awesome cleaning powers of vinegar and baking soda, so why not give it a try on my rug?  I'm was sure the stain could get any worse, so it was worth a shot.  Here's what I did, and here are the results:

1. Gather your cleaning supplies.  I used white vinegar, baking soda, and a tooth brush.  That's it, folks.

2. Create a paste by adding a 'smidge of vinegar to a small bowl of baking soda.  The result will be foamy, fizzy goodness. #3rdgradescienceflashback

3. Generously apply the paste to the stain, using the toothbrush to work it in.

4. Allow the paste to dry completely.  I let mine dry for 24 hours.

5. Vacuum the rug to remove all of the dried paste.  This is where I was impressed.  The stain was practically gone!  It's not perfect, but it's definitely an improvement.  I've heard of people attacking a difficult stain more than once to remove it entirely, so I may go back at it one more time.  Check this out:

Since I was so impressed with the results, I decided to tackle another nasty job with some good 'ol fashioned vinegar: My nasty microwave.  Low and behold, vinegar came through again!

Here are some close-ups of my icky microwave before I cleaned it:

Oh hey, filthy microwave
 First of all, I have no shame in admitting how dirty the inside of my microwave was.  It's a microwave - messes happen.  But anyone who has ever cleaned a microwave knows how stubborn that baked-on grime can be.  I'm also not a huge fan of filling the inside of a food-friendly space with nasty chemicals...enter vinegar.  Here's how this trick works:

1. Combine 1 cup of hot water with 1 cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe measuring cup.

(Prior to adding the cup of vinegar)
2. Place the mixture in the center of the microwave, microwaving it for 8 to 10 minutes (you want it to boil).  I only did 8 minutes and the mixture was boiling.

Apparently I measured slightly less than 2 cups...something I didn't realize until writing this post.
3. CAREFULLY remove the mixture using oven mitts or pot holders.  Chris commented on how the house smelled like "Easter eggs".  It did, but the smell dissipated within half an hour.

4. Using a damp rag, wipe the inside of microwave until it's clean.  I kid you not, this took me less than 5 minutes to do!  I washed the glass plate by hand in the sink, and the gunk came off of that really easily too.  Voila:

So fresh and so clean, clean.

And while I don't have photos of this, I also removed stains from my porcelain kitchen sink by filling the bottom with a couple inches of hot water and vinegar.  I let the mixture sit in the sink for about 15 minutes, then I drained the sink and the stains were gone!  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and vinegar...

So there you have it!  Three cleaning projects made EASY using a safe and cheap product.  As long as you don't mind your house smelling like "Easter eggs" for about 20 minutes, vinegar should work wonders on some of your toughest stains.  Good luck!