Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why I'm so into home improvement projects...

A lovely fellow just commented about my enthusiasm for home improvement projects. I have to say I wasn't always so driven to get things done. Our first house, in New Orleans, I was always making plans but never actually putting them into action. I had a to-do list a mile long, but something else always seemed more important.

Then there was a hurricane. Yep, and nothing was done. I had to do all of the projects on that to-do list just so I could sell it. And it really upset me that the house looked so beautiful when I was finished, yet I wouldn't actually get to live in it enjoy all of the work I'd put into it. I vowed I wouldn't make that mistake with this house.

So far, two years in I've stuck with that resolution. The to-do list actually gets done, and while our home is very modern and probably isn't decorated to everyone's taste, it sure is coming along nicely. When I look at the before photos, I'm amazed at how much we've accomplished in 2 short years. Of course, there's still plenty more to be done....

The summer of clearing the slate...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the garden plan. Months ago I had outlined a very ambitious planting plan. It fell by the wayside due to the exhaustion of late pregnancy. No one warns you about that. Maybe because no woman would have children if she really knew what she was getting into.

Anyway. That, combined with my desire to plant fruit trees at some point, has led to a new plan. This will be the year I clear the palette. This will be our third summer in this house. We've done a lot of work on it, but most of it has been to the interior or to the systems that keep everything running.

This summer, it's all about the outdoors.
I'm going to expand and build up all of the flower beds (including building low border walls of natural stone)
I'm going to have someone come and yank out all of the evergreen shrubs and the roots. They're in all my prime full-sun spots, and frankly, I think the last lady got a little too crazy planting shrubs.
I'm going to paint the outside of the house (some awesome, mid-century pastel color)
And, I'm going to get some fill dirt and even out the lawn. the geothermal really did a number on our grass.

So, I may not be able to have to cucumbers and asparagus patch of my dreams this year, but this will lay the foundation for bigger and better (organic) things down the road.

Friday, March 28, 2008

plastic bags everywhere...

Ugh. They're like a scourge on the earth. I managed to acquire 3 new plastic bags today, despite packing all of my reusable shopping bags. The first, at a restaurant where my for here order magically turned into to go. The second, at Target, even after I said I didn't need a bag. I guess it's just habit to throw stuff in there and hand it to you. And the last, at the grocery, when I ran out of bags. I'm trying. I feel like I'm failing, but...

Also, looks like we'll have enough money to order that composter I have my eyes on. But not this week. I'm going to the hospital next week to have my baby bean, and don't want it to be delivered while I'm away. So maybe the week after that...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wading pool veggie gardens

I just ran across the fascinating project. Looks like you can do intensive veggie gardening in unusable spaces by planting in those shallow plastic kiddie pools we all had in the 1970s!

Kiddie pool urban gardening

Green living--in the 1940s?

I ran across this today. It's some food for thought. We talk a lot about carbon credits and such but it seems like the 1940s had its own green revolution, and we could learn a few lessons by turning back the clock...

The WWII green revolution

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Can being green make you rich?

A worthy question. I read a lot of personal finance books, so I was intrigued when I ran across this article by David Bach (of Rich Couples Finish Rich fame). He has written a new book about how going green can make you rich and this article is a rundown of the ways you can save or make money by being more environmentally aware.

It's interesting that such a high-profile writer is taking on this topic. Of course, some of the suggestions are things us eco-geeks have been doing for years, like freecycling and donating used goods, but it may be worth a read anyway.

Green = Rich?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Turning your backyard into an orchard

Several of you commented about my desire to turn my backyard into an orchard. Here is the link to the NY Times article about this topic. It totally spoke to me. Enjoy!

The backyard orchard

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A composter...finally?

I think I have finally decided on a composter. It costs about $150, is round, and in addition to compost, produces and collects compost tea that you can use to fortify your veggie garden and your houseplants. Next week, come payday, I'll see if we have enough left over after bills to order it.

Also, I saw an awesome article in the NY Times about backyard orchards. It really spoke to me because I have often looked out my back window at all the weird, useless shrubs I inherited and thought of pulling them out and planting something that will produce food. I am really getting into the idea that I should turn as much of my landscape as possible into agriculture. And my backyard would be a great place for some dwarf cherry trees and some raspberry bushes. I can almost taste the pies now.

On that note, I realized that my ambitious veggie garden plan will have to wait until next year. To pull it off this season, I would have had to start the seeds already. And considering I'm a bout 38 weeks preggo and could pop at any time, and completely exhausted as a result, it just didn't happen this year. Boo. At least I still have my farm co-op to look forward to. And, now that I have a plan, I can really spend the summer getting my garden beds in tip top shape.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Babies = Batteries

I never would have guessed that baby stuff required so many batteries-- the mobile, the swing, the toys... It never ends. I didn't want to be a scourge on the earth so I have spent the last couple of weeks shopping for rechargeable batteries. I finally decided on a Rayovac charger that fits multiple battery sizes. This is my first foray into rechargeable batteries, so I can only hope I made a decent choice. Of course, even if it sucks I'll keep using it because I'm too stubborn to throw away batteries every six weeks!

Our quest to do only second-hand baby stuff also failed. It all ended at the "shower" my friends insisted on throwing me. They bought us way too much stuff. And the used crib my MIL gave me? Covered in lead paint, so I had to buy a new one anyway-- all the used baby stores were sold out. Ugh. I did make a valiant effort. And we did get a lot of clothes used and we are borrowing a lot of other equipment from friends, so I guess it wasn't a total loss...