Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chandeliers belong in kitchens and bathrooms ...

And anywhere else you can sneak one in! A few weeks ago Mr. Nick and I were up at one of our rental properties to turn a unit after a tenant moved out. Of course this always means multiple trips to Home Depot which inevitably leads to me wandering around with stars in my eyes dreaming of the future. Very rarely does my husband humor me as I chatter away about claw foot bathtubs and faucets that look like water pumps but thankfully, for me, he decided to humor me this time.

And I am now the proud owner of the Maria Theresa Hampton Bay 6 light chandelier. And let me tell you, it is gorgeous. Definitely not at all reminiscent of the $99 price tag it carried.

Originally we were just going to put it on our list as an item to come back for but when I started looking in the shelves there were none available for purchase. Then, on a trip to another Home Depot it wasn't even displayed. When chatting with my mother about this she very quickly reminded me of Home Depot's awesome return policy and of the fact that sometimes, when you go back to buy something, it may not be there anymore. So that was enough. Mr. Nick agreed without much of a fuss at all and put the chandelier on order. It took over a week to arrive but now it's here in this teeny tiny box (obviously this is one of those, some assembly required situations). The box actually works out perfect for us though because we're not quite ready. A recent search of three more Home Depot's in the area has only solidified my choice, the chandelier is no longer on display in our area (they even sold someone the sample). So the lesson learned is, when in doubt buy it, you can always return it later.

And I leave you with a couple of ways my mom and I have used chandeliers in our past decorating. Enjoy!

This is my old guest room. The bed, curtains and chandelier came from Ikea. The lamp shade is from Marshalls. The throw is a gift from my best friend (a TJ Maxx purchase) and the framed little prints are greeting cards from Cincinnati, The bed was originally a yellow which caused me to walk right past it but my mom (again!) reminded me that things can be painted. Speaking of painting. She did the treatment on the wall using a mix of regular and metallic paint, a stencil and a plastic bag. She is sooo talented I know! We only had $300 to decorate this room, which is photographing larger than it actually is, so we were pretty happy with it.
A closer look at the painting while Sasha and Fat Pip enjoy a friendly brawl.
This is part of my mom's bathroom ... it's all vintage and I love it.
She lives in a Lindal Cedar Home so everything has the deep rich mahogany trim.
And in case you wanted to see more of her bathroom. Mr. Nick made this fireplace out of MDF. I'll have to do some close-up photos of it when I'm there next ... she LOVES daisies so he worked them into the design pattern.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ordering large scale photographs

Those who know me know that I love taking photos. I'm not a professional by any means but I really enjoy being behind a camera. I recently splurged and bought a DSLR, which you can read about here, and have gotten more serious about printing large scale photographs. As a card carrying Costco member (is there any other kind of member?) I have happily printed through them, enjoying their "anything goes" return policy, fast turn-around times and of course low prices.

However, when I took photos of my niece and nephew and had them blown up I was unhappy with the large scale resolution of the prints. So I started shopping around for a better printer. Having enjoyed great results with my first 24 x 36 I am now a card carrying member of Ritz Pix (I swear I don't have "need to belong" issues). Membership basically means that I get 5% cash back on my large scale printing.

This photo actually took 4 prints to get right, the first time the laminator was fritzy so there were lines in the plastic and the second and third times the crop was off. Because of that it wasn't ready in 1 hour like advertised but they were totally dedicated to making sure that I was happy with the product. And I am. I chose to mount since it's a photo and will tend to sag behind the glass at such a large size and I chose to put the laminate film on because it has UV protection and will keep my photo from fading in the sun. The color is beautiful (not at all displaying well in this photo), there is no graininess and the mounting is really nice. They will be getting all my printing business from here on out.

In case you're curious, I took this photo about halfway up, as we hiked to the top of Mt. Olympus in Greece. The mama and horse were all by themselves with not another living creature for miles (except us of course). I did deepen the colors in photoshop and made sure that the photo was saved at 400 dpi but other than that I didn't do much else. I took this with my cheap-o Canon (before Mr. Nick consented to my relentless reminders about DSLR cameras). That's Mr. Nick and I in the back, one at our wedding and one at my brother's wedding. It's leaning against our piano (did I mention we need to move out of this apartment ASAP). I left them in so you can see how big it is.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home Depot's plant return policy

This past Christmas we decided to be "green" and get a living Christmas tree. We were in the process of closing on our land so it seemed like such a good idea to buy something that we celebrate with and then plant as a forever reminder.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened. We put our house on the rental market and moved within a very small period of time so the decorating of the Christmas tree fell by the wayside. Wanting to make sure that the tree went in the "perfect" place we decided to store it at our apartment until we could get a better "feel" for where it should go (this was back when I thought I was secretly harboring a green thumb and plants would grow taller just at the sound of my voice).

Fast forward seven months and our poor "living Christmas tree" is no longer living (yes, I understand the irony). So, on my mother's suggestion we decided to try to take advantage of Home Depot's plant return policy.

They say they will take any plant back within one year of puchase if you have the receipt. That receipt is crucial (according to the woman I called over the phone). We arrived counting on doing the credit card look-up (which by the way I think every store should do) because we had lost our receipt. Unfortunately they only store cc information for 90 days. Luckily though we still had the price tag on the bucket so she was able to scan it and give us store credit. Honestly I think she just thought Mr. Nick was cute but I thought about it and I'm okay with pimping him out in the name of saving money. And let's face it, he is ridiculously good looking :)

So that's that. The tree has been removed from our lives, leaving a trail of dead pine needles from our balcony to the parking lot. I'm sure our apartment manager hates us by now ...

Mom and I pose in "happier times".
We'll miss you living Christmas tree. We promise to do better next year.
p.s. Mom made my sweater for me when I was in 5th grade.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow ...

Having a mother who is artistic is a blessing. Having an artistic mother in town for the weekend is even better. Having an artistic mother in town for the weekend and a sister-in-law who likes to celebrate the little things is THE BEST!

Today Mr. Nick and I received a "Congratulations you've got water ..." present from our 2.5 year old niece and 5 month old nephew (of course, they had a little help). Mom used a black permanent marker to write out the words and then white Rustoleum oil-based paint to trace over the words.

Here we are in our brand new wheelbarrow.
I love it even more that it's red because when I first met Mr. Nick
he referenced William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow".
But that's not all! Home Depot had their Adirondack chairs on clearance so Mom picked up four for us. Having been through this whole, "build your house with your bare hands" dream herself just a few years ago, she knew the importance of having a nice place to sit at the end of the day ... even in the middle of a construction site. But she wouldn't be my mother unless she personalized it just a little.
Mr. Nick's says "MR" at the top and "THINKER" on the bottom,
mine says "MRS" at the top and "DREAMER" at the bottom.
So it was a day of celebrating and presents ... a reminder to stop and enjoy the small successes along the way.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to save money on your well

Before you can get your building permit you have to have three things. 1) Electricity, 2) Running Water and 3) Septic. We took care of electricity a few weeks ago and the septic system has been designed, happily we celebrated today with water. Yep, that's right ... good, clean, cold water right out of the ground.

We had a professional drill the well as they don't exactly rent out well-drilling rigs to novices. He hit water at 15 feet and dropped the casing down to 90 feet. When you start sucking water out it draws down, but it steadies at a certain level (which for us is at 40 feet) so this set-up will ensure we never are without water.

One of the biggest ways we saved money with our well was to do the trenching and installation of the pump ourselves. For those who don't know, the well head is just a piece of pipe sticking out of the ground. There is water pipe and power running underground from your well head to your control box and then from your control box to your power source. As Mr. Nick is an expert trencher (ref: Conduit Loop Line) this was not a big deal for us.

Here is our well-head. Notice the pitless adaptor at the bottom and the
pipe running to the control box through Mr. Nick's series of trenches.

The other way we saved money is by installing all the components of the well ourselves. You have to have some knowledge of electrical and some knowledge of plumbing to make this happen but for us we were able to make it work.

These components included:
Here is our control box

Snohomish, Washington: Antique lovers paradise?

This weekend my cousin got married up near the Candian border so Mom and I got to combine the wedding with a quick prowl through Snohomish, Washington.

Widely considered the antique capital of the Pacific Northwest those who like antiques will be at home here. Most of the shops are consolidated along the main "drag" where you can walk and sit, eat and sit, and then walk and sit some more. Parking was not a problem. Now keep in mind, we only had a couple hours so my review is based purely on first impressions.

The store fronts are a pretty even mix of antique and antiqued. Shabby chic reigns supreme with many stores mixing in actual antiques with aged materials. Those antiques that we did find were in excellent condition, thoughtfully restored and cared, with a price tag to match (although, according to my mother most things were priced pretty well.)

I ended up purchasing just one thing, in the basement of Antique Warehouse, Inc (where I'm pretty sure the bargains were hiding) for just $35! The dealer wasn't sure what it was (he had been holding it in their warehouse, not feeling like it was good enough to sell, and then just put it on a whim). Our best guess is that it came from the bottom of a bar or table.

We're not sure what it's going to be yet but our wheels are turning. My overall feeling of Snohomish is nice, definitely nice. But I felt like some of the excitement was gone. I enjoy prowling through piles of junk and seeing hidden potential. So for me and my budget, we will stick to salvage yards.

As a side note, cyclists may feel more at home here than antiquers. Snohomish sits alongside the Centenial Bike Trail, a 17-mile trail from Snohomish to Skagit County.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Great financial websites and money-saving tips

Brace yourself. I have an announcement to make. Wait for it ...

Building a house costs money.

Shocking I know. Here I thought that money tree we planted was going to provide for us these next couple years. Ha! What a joke (we all know I would have killed that poor tree by now anyway).

Recently I picked up a copy of Money Magazine at the library and read a pretty interesting article on the best financial websites out there. Here's the ones that I looked further into:
  • Bill Shrink: This is a pretty cool site that analyzes your cell phone, your television, your credit cards, your savings and even gas. It's pretty personalized so you have to put your own info in but I found out where I needed to drive for cheap gas (it even took into account what kind of car I have and how far away I was from the station).
  • Nerd Wallet: By asking you what you want out of a credit card reward program as well as your personal spending habits (and paying off habits) this site shows you how each potential cardstacks up against each other. I did this and it actually reccomended the card we have (American Express Platinum Delta Sky Miles Card) but who knows what it will find for you.
  • Do it Yourself or Not: With lists of thousands of DIY projects this website compares how long and how much it would cost for a pro vs you to complete a job (accounting for location by zipcode). There's even a simple thumbs up/thumbs down icon that shows their reccomendation. It's a little clunky to navigate but once I figured out how they organized it things got easier. Ironically, building a home from scratch is not even an option ...
  • Neighborhood Scout: If you are searching for your own land to build (or a home that's already built) this website compares all sorts of things like schools, average home prices, real estate appreciation rates and crime. According to the site my chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the state of Washington are 1 in 271. I feel okay with these odds.

Saving money is such a personal thing but I'll share a couple of tips that Mr. Nick and I have employed over the past couple years to get ahead a bit quicker.

  • I married my hairdresser. Well, not really, but he is quickly becoming one. When I just need a trim Mr. Nick can wield the scissors pretty well. Recently I cut off quite a bit to donate to Locks of Love, which I opted to go to the professional for, but for just run of the mill grooming I'm more than happy to let him hack away. (As a side note, when we were in college he cut my bangs for me and both of us learned that hair shrinks up once it's dry ... that was an interesting fringe I had for a couple months).
  • We very rarely eat out. Now this is where I get lucky again because I'm not the cook in our family so I can imagine needing a break if you are the only one putting meals on the table night after night. We always have a fresh pot of rice in the cooker so even on days when Mr. Nick doesn't feel like cooking we can throw some chicken on the Foreman and pair it with rice. When we do eat out we try to use a coupon.
  • I shop at Ross, Marshalls and Goodwill. Additionally, if I buy something and I haven't worn it in two weeks I return it because, lets face it, if it takes me that long to wear something I'm never going to.
  • I don't dryclean my clothes. Now I do dryclean Mr. Nick's shirts but this is where I balance the things I want to do and things I don't want to do. For me, I am willing to pay this price in order to have more time to actually hang out with him. Plus, I could never in a million years get his shirts as nice as they do. But for my work clothes I wash at home. I use Dryell when necessary and I bought a compact little steamer which has always been enough to get the job done.
  • I buy generic. Unless of course the name-brand is on sale because we are Proctor and Gamble shareholders, but in almost all cases I go with the generic.
  • I make my own coffee. At home, for .7 cents a cup (I put 2 spendas in each cup and yes, I figured it out because that's what we do in our house, we figure out how much things are costing us). For Christmas I was given a Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker that can brew one or twelve cups of coffee at a time. It would work out especially well if Mr. Nick drank coffee because it can do two side-by-side but he's a tea man.

So there you have it. I'd love to know, how do you save money in your life?

Photo: Here I am with my new short haircut, courtesy of the professional. I don't love it but I do love that I was able to donate it to a great cause.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Make your own custom pillows!

I'm excited to add the first video to the DIY section. First, I think it's important to note I am not a professional. But, I was raised by an incredibly talented woman (my mother, duh) who believed in letting kids be creative and I guess along the way I learned just enough to be dangerous.

The boring pillow (I say pillow because we only kept one out when we put everything in storage, I'm not sure what the thinking was there) that came with our sofa has been driving me nuts for awhile now so I decided to do something about it.

The cats were created by turning photos I had of our cats into silhouettes (with photoshop). Can you guess who the tubby one in the middle is?

Hope you like it, I'm very happy with the finished product.

Click here to go to the tutorial ...

Why does a professional have to design your septic system?

Did you know your septic system has to be designed by either a licensed septic designer or a Professional Engineer? Mr. Nick was able to design ours (because he is a PE) but if you're in a situation where you have to pay for someone to do it wouldn't you like to know, just what am I paying for?

For starters, a septic system is the vehicle that takes your waste (you know, what you're putting down the toilet) and sends it through the appropriate venues to make it suitable to be released back into the ground. If your septic system isn't designed right then you are sending toxic juju back into streams, rivers, your neighbors well, your well ... you get the picture.

So, how does it work? Basically a septic system takes the solid waste and sends it through a waste tank which allows all the solid particles to float to the bottom. The liquid waste is then pumped into your drainfield as gray water. Your drainfield is filled with pipes full of small holes (think a soaker hose under the ground) that emit the gray water into the gravel (which you have to put there). That water eventually filters through the gravel and into the earth where it reacts with the oxygen already in the soil. This reaction creates gases that evaporate out of the ground. Meanwhile the now "clean" (I say it like that because I still wouldn't drink it) water filters back into the soil.

If you don't design the system correctly the drainfield can clog up and grow bacteria and algae. Ideally you should only have to pump your septic tank (you know, where all that solid waste is being stored) every 3-5 years.

Basically you are asking the ground to process and clean your waste, making it okay to go back into the environment. Which is why the county monitors all instances of septic design against county and state guidelines. Which is why a professional needs to handle this part of your home building.

You remember how gross it is when Bear Grylls drank his own urine right? Just think of what would happen with the other stuff...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Busted! Mr. Nick loses his pants in the name of composting

How much do I love that SunChips has taken their packaging one step further and created a compostable bag? And ... the best part is they didn't make their product any more expensive. Now that's a product I can get behind. Mr. Nick might beg to differ though, the new bag is pretty loud, I scared the pants right off of him (well actually it was a towel but you get the picture). No more sneaking into the kitchen unnoticed for a midnight snack.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Plastic bags, drycleaning and food containers ... one small step for a better tomorrow

Okay, let's be serious. No one really WANTS to destroy the Earth. If you ask anyone I honestly believe that they will tell you "Sure, I want to do my part." It's just when it comes down to it, it's HARD to be green and sustainable and recycle and stewardly and all those words that I would love people to use when they talked about me (this would obviously be before they saw me climb into my GIANT truck that I have to drive because I have a shorter commute than Mr. Nick, so he gets the car).

I have compiled a list of things I am currently doing which makes me feel a little better about trying to break my consumer driven reliance on plastic. Maybe you have your own list you'd like to share (I'd love to hear it). The bottom line is, it's better to do something than nothing.

  • I stopped getting plastic bags when I go to the grocery store. Our store even refunds you .05 per bag so you kind of feel like you're winning. I also try my darndest to use the reusable bags at other places too. It's hard though, sometimes I'll be distracted just chit chatting away at the cashier and not even realize that my items are being stuffed into a plastic bag. I have offered to take it all out and give the bag back to them but have been told that once it's been "opened" it can't be used for another customer. (I mean really, what kind of policy is that, we're talking plastic bags not 19th century bottles of wine). At that point I will take the bags because I know ...

  • I recycle my plastic bags. This is actually a neat story. When I blogged about Trex decking a representative from the company contacted me and told me about starting a Trex recycling program. I wrote them back and found out that Trex has partnered with a lot of chain grocery stores to collect bags for them, they're working on expanding their list but I went by our Safeway and they are taking them so check out the one near you. They sent me this handout which actually expanded my recycling options, most notably, the pop holders (you know, the ones that you're supposed to cut so that the baby turtles don't get their little necks stuck) and dry cleaning bags. Which brings me to #3 ...

  • Take your wire hangers back to your dry cleaner. Don't throw them away! They can and will re-use them.

  • Re-use your plastic containers from items like yogurt, deli snacks, sour cream ... you get the picture. Wash them up and use them in place of 3" pots, (try to ignore the sarcastic comments from your significant other about living with a hoarder). While I haven't had the chance to do this yet (ref: my latest gardening attempt) should something present itself as ready to move out of the seedling pot I am ready to go.

  • I started using brown paper bags to clean my kitty litter. (You know, the ones you use when you brown bag your lunch). Yes, I have to buy them and yes I'm sure there are better options but the reality is I am no longer using plastic bags which means I am no longer contributing to the plastic in landfills.

Real Simple magazine actually has a great post, "How to recycle anything" which could help you if you have a specific item in mind. Otherwise I would say keep on keeping on with whatever you are doing, I KNOW every little bit helps!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

5 "must-have" kitchen/bath organization items

Serenity now! Even if you didn't grow up watching Seinfeld (like I did) I think you can appreciate my cry for help. The apartment walls are closing in on me!!

First, I would like to make the disclaimer: the size of the apartment is fine, it's two bedroom, one bath with a big enough room for our king size bed, no complaints there. It doesn't bother me that our roommate is an 8 foot long window. Even the one bathroom is something we can live with (we have found that making your trips to the bathroom sound really pretentious, i.e. "Forward all my calls to my office, I'm going to be awhile" or "I'll be in the library if anyone needs me," helps make you feel less dumb about the fact that your significant other knows entirely to much about your personal hygiene habits. Mystery and intrigue my butt, two working people who share almost the same sets of hours and spend a large portion of their free time together have to joke in order to survive one bathroom).

Back to business ... What bothers me about this apartment is the total lack of storage and workability. Everyone always talks about Small Space, Big Style. Well I'd like to make this post about Small Space, Big Function.

So I started doing research about the types of organization equipment that is out there for kitchens and bathrooms (my two biggest problem areas) and found some really cool options. The more I kept typing ideas into google to see what existed the more I kept getting linked back to the same store. It appears that this post will showcase all Rockler products.

Maybe you can use some of these in your life, if you do (or already are) I'd love to hear about how they work. While my dream would be to put all these into our home in the end it will come down to budget so it would be great to have feedback on what is and isn't worth it.

The Double Waste Containers: Tucking away your trash can is clutch. Ours currently hangs on the edge of the drawer (on one of those hooks that fits over the edge, classy, I know). I like the idea of this one because it has space for two, which you could use for recycling. At $92.99 that is way worth it. Or if you're family is really into recycling you can get the Tri-cycler but it's a bit pricier at $305.99. I'm not sure if that pans out as well with all the other recycling options out there.

The Filler Pull-Out Pantry: I'm a huge fan of a nice pull out pantry. Mostly because I think not every kitchen has the floor space to devote to a true pantry. These take advantage of the decorative fillers that you see in a lot of the high-end cabinets these days. At $276.99 that seems reasonable but I can't quite figure out how the darn things actually work so I'm not exactly sure. Rockler also has other options for pantry-pull out which we may end up going with, I just think there filler pull outs are pretty cool.

This EZ Slide N Store "Stuff" Manager: This one makes sense, however, I'm going to take it one step further. In the bathroom I'm going to wire behind my vanity, so that when I pull out the "stuff" manager the hair dryer is already plugged in. Or a tray with my hot-rollers on it, already plugged in, I just have to turn them on. The less times you have to touch things the better.
This Filler Pull-Out has this cool insert you can use to put your keys and such. They have a message board option or you can just use the hooks ... it's really just like a stainless steel peg board.
This Heavy Duty Mixer Lift is awesome. I would use it not just for my mixer but also for my blender, my toaster, shoot, why not my coffee maker? I hate having things on the counter so this is ideal. At $99.99 it's a bit of a splurge but maybe well worth it. I wonder if I would have to learn to bake (correctly) for Mr. Nick to buy it for me? 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Temporary Power Pole: Final Wrap-up

Yesterday we got our final statement from the power company billing us for our meter placement which means the temporary power pole installation is complete.

I had no idea that so many steps went in to getting power on a building site (which is what makes it "temporary", once we have a house we'll convert to just "power") so I wrote it all down and asked Mr. Nick to doublecheck me.

In case you're wondering, here's the process:
  • Purchase temporary power pole: We bought ours off of craigslist (you can read about it here) used from someone else who was done but you could buy from either Home Depot or Lowes (you would buy the pieces and assemble yourself). Once you purchase it (or build it) you install it based on where you're going to build (remember you're going to run extension cords from this). Also, remember you're going to pay the power company for labor to install the line from the transformer to the temporary power pole when it's time.
  • Dig the trench and the hole for the transformer (you can see us doing it here) and for the big conduit that will run from the transformer to the power pole. We did this ourselves but you could hire an earthwork contractor to do it for you. Afer you dig your trench you'll have an informal inspection from the utilities company. This is where we were told that we needed to line the base of the transformer with 5/8 crushed gravel rock minus fines and put sand in the bottom of the trench (after clearing it out, which you can see here). In order to find the gravel rock we went to a quarry and they just dumped it in the back of our truck (as a side note, you should always sweep off the back of your tailgate EVEN THOUGH THEY SAY YOU CAN'T GET OUT OF YOUR TRUCK in the yard. Somewhere between the yard and the road you have to find a place to pull over and clean up anything that could fly off while you're driving. I didn't do this and had a very interesting conversation with a police officer ...
  • Once the inspector approves your set-up they will install your transformer. We actually had three inspection visits and a half dozen phone calls from the power company before we had everything to their liking. The power company will probably have manuals or brochures with all the specs but the reality is with so many different pieces you're bound to misread or misinterpret something so my best advice here is to be nice and be patient.
  • After the transformer is installed and the conduit is run you can cover up your trench and turn the power on (they'll do one last inspection to make sure the trench is "at grade" which means you didn't come back and pile a bunch of dirt on it or plant a vinyard on top or anything.)
  • Finally, you'll get the bill in the mail for meter placement (which is what we got yesterday). Oh yeah, and you get to turn it on!
So that's that, if you're interested in knowing how everything broke down cost wise shoot me an e-mail and I'll let you know!

Photo Credit: Here's a pic of one of our inspection reports, we had to move our ground wire and clean out the temporary power pole (a job Mr. Nick reasoned I was obviously better suited for because my hands are so tiny, funny, that's the same reason my Dad always made me clean the spokes on our family car, I'm noticing a trend).

Friday, July 9, 2010

The case of the missing thumb drive OR how Mr. Nick makes me laugh

Well I've been thinking about adding a new section to my blog which means I need to find my design files. Mr. Nick just built me a new computer to help with all the video editing and photoshop I've been doing (our last computer was purchased 4.5 years ago on craigslist) and somewhere in there my TNT files got lost.

But, I always back up my stuff so I know that on my red thumbdrive there is a folder with anything and everything I have put into this blog. However, this morning I go to pull it out of my desk drawer and what do you know, it's not there. My first thought immediately went to Mr. Nick since he seems to always grab the first thing he sees when he's looking to move files. Of course, I wrote him a quick e-mail to check and see.

While he wasn't able to help me with my missing thumb drive he was able to give me a quick reminder of why I love him and his smart ass comments:

Rachael writes ...
Do you have my red 2GB thumbdrive

Mr. Nick writes ...

Nope, just an orange one. Missing?

Rachael writes ...
Yeah it has all my TNT files on it...I know how you like to "borrow" my thumb drives (don't think I haven't seen my purple one on your desk). I'll just keep looking I guess.

Mr. Nick writes ...

I can help you look tonight. I love when you let me borrow things. Married couples share.

Rachael writes ...
Thanks babe. Being married is the best.

Mr. Nick writes ...

I know. I love it too!

So I guess he's off the hook for being witty and ridiculously attractive (and possibly for not being guilty of taking it in the first place but that still remains to be seen).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

R.I.P. Sweet White Corn

Well crap, I guess that's that. We hit the 90s today (although according to the weather station it only feels like 89, oh coastal breeze how I love you) and lost our corn. To be fair, I'm not sure how much blame I can put on the weather ... APPARENTLY you're supposed to remove the plastic lid as soon as you get sprouts. Oops. Here I've been hot boxing my corn stalks for a good four days thinking that they were having the time of their lives thriving with all that warm moist heat.

So, change of plans. I have brought my lavender tray inside (trying not to stress about the fact that my baby sprout is MIA), taken off the cover and watered again. We don't have air conditioning, as evidenced by the multiple box fans strewn throughout, so it's actually quite warm in the apartment.

Mr. Nick, ever the optimist, is less deflated than me even going so far as to suggest that NOW our soil is extra rich so this next batch of corn will certainly just explode with nutrients. I will trudge ahead but am feeling a little worried that my black thumb is dooming us into a life without home-grown vegetables and fields of lavender ... at least, Sasha doesn't seem to mind.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Apartment garden therapy?

Summer is finally here! We have emerged triumphant on the other side of one of the coldest Junes in record books. Today is beautiful and sunny and dare I say, to hot (Pacific Northwesterners are a fickle bunch aren't we?)

First, as a disclaimer I think it's important to note that the only thing I have ever grown with any sort of moderate success is catnip and jade ... that being said, it appears I may have sprouted my very first lavender plant. Hopefully not my last though as there are 71 of his brothers and sisters germinating as we speak.

Everything I have read says that lavender plants are incredibly hard to grow from seed but, Mr. Nick only agreed to my dream of a lavender field if we could do it on the cheap. So late one night we walked our little butts over to Fred Meyer and picked up all the necessary supplies for an apartment garden. Of course, you should never shop for anything after 10 p.m. because that's when you start to buy more things, like ...

Enough cucumbers and tomato plants to keep us in Greek salads for eternity. And while we were at it we threw in some corn too because, hey, who doesn't like sweet white corn. Granted it was a good ten minute debate to figure out which sweet white corn variety would best serve our refined palates. In the end we went with Lilly Miller's Silver Queen White Corn because the back of the package said that Silver Queen's "outstanding flavor and texture are the standard for white corn." Looking back now that seems like a dumb selling point ... wouldn't I want something that excels above the standard?

The corn is thriving (despite my lack of a green thumb) while the cucumbers and tomatoes are chugging along, but so far just that one teeny tiny semblance of a lavender plant. If the rest don't start following suit I may have to resort to "Plan B" which involves stealing established plants under the cover of darkness from inappropriate places: the hospital where I work, the church down the street, the roundabout by the elementary school ... why is it that only the places I would feel guilty taking from can afford a landscaping budget? I can see the headline now: "Local woman caught with dirt under her nails and plants in her pocket: Husband refusing to post bail."

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