Archive for March, 2013

The Pretty Things of Spring

Posted on March 27, 2013. Filed under: Gardening |

Despite the pollen, I love spring. It is a close second to autumn as my favorite season. I once wrote about how exciting spring is in a new house. To see pale green stalks shooting out of the still wintry ground, deep purple crocuses opening up, that gangly and mysterious tree producing beautiful dogwood blooms, it’s a wonderful discovery. Maybe I’m turning into a garden nerd (it must be my advancing age), but I love being surprised by the beauty of the outdoors in the spring. Now that we’ve been in our house for two years, we are starting to see the literal fruits and blooms of our labor in our slowly changing yard. There’s something so rewarding about gardening and yard work. The blood, sweat, dirt, blisters, and back aches result in tangible, touchable, odorous progress. Sometimes that odor is my smelly husband or my wet dog after a Saturday well-spent in the backyard. Other times, it is the more pleasant, sweet aroma of gardenias, the freesia-like smell of little tea olive blooms, or the citrusy-scent of winter daphne. Suffice it to say, I love spring. And it feels great to finally feel proud of what we’ve accomplished in our yard through the budding of spring.

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The tea olives are growing, growing, growing! All that rusty foliage is new. And if you look closely you will see little white blossoms. They smell so delicious.

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The transplanted hydrangeas are doing well so far. I was most nervous about these guys because I love them dearly and they are rather delicate. Leaf buds are popping up all the time. I love to check on them and watch them unfurl little by little each day. It’s amazing how a plant can go from a dormant pile of wonky sticks to an active shrub with leaves in what seems like a blink of the eye.

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The snow ball bush is a slight point of contention between Adam and I. We had no idea what it was until we saw the blooms last May/June, but I asked Adam to wait a full year to see if it would reveal itself before he chopped it down. (In 2011, it had already bloomed out by the time we moved in in July.) Once I discovered what it was, it was love at first bloom. I love this thing. It’s gorgeous. But it looks a little wild and unruly. It will take a few years for me to tame it into submission much to Adam’s dismay. You are not supposed to cut more than 1/3 back per year, but we’re getting there. It will always look a little wild anyway. I don’t care. It’s beeyootiful. You can see the baby blooms now. They are pale green, itty bitty and all over the bush. It’s going to be spectacular.

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These are my new daffodils under my lovely dogwood.

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The new tulips are starting to come out of the ground. I may dig up all the tulip bulbs and put them in the freezer or fridge this winter. Atlanta winters are not getting cold enough for them to re-bloom. Anyone have any experience with this or suggestions?

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I didn’t think I could get excited over ferns until I saw the baby fiddleheads. They are so cute, awkward, and alien-like.

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In my naiveté, I assumed you only got fiddleheads with fiddlehead ferns. Not so. These are autumn ferns and look at those little ET fingers poking through!

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They are not as coiled as your traditional fiddlehead, but they are little baby fern fronds and will slowly uncoil to be big, adult fern fronds.

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That’s early spring in our front yard. I’ll be back in a few weeks with pictures of everything in full bloom. I cannot wait!

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One Year Old

Posted on March 21, 2013. Filed under: Dog |

Our furry babe recently celebrated his first birthday:

Mason birthday

How bittersweet for us! Ha! No, it was as anticlimactic as you would think a dog’s birthday would be. We got him a special treat at a local pet store and sang him Happy Birthday. That’s it.

duck back

Yummy dried duck back

Mason’s been with us for 10 months now since we took him home at 8 weeks and I wanted to provide an update on the good and the not-as-good of owning a dog. 99.9% of the time, Mason’s such a joy. He’s so smart. You can read about his tricks here. He’s such a lover. He loves to snuggle. He’ll lay his head on our feet in the family room while he takes a nap. He’ll jump up on the couch and curl up beside us. (Yes, we went back on our no furniture rule. Mason’s too cute to resist and at 31 pounds, he’s small enough to share a cushion with.)

Mason cuddle

Whenever Adam and I hug, one of us will instantly feel Mason’s front feet on our hips. He has to get in on the affection. He refuses to be left out. He brings a toy to the door every time we come home. He loves sticks, squirrels, people, cheese, bacon, walks, other dogs, puddles, digging holes, and sleeping under the bed.

Mason went under the knife for his ahem at the end of January.

Mason cone

At the vet’s office that morning, he marked the examining room wall. I think he was trying to have the last word. Little did he know that Dr. Moire had the last word… Poor guy. He was so funny that first night at home before the drugs wore off and he was getting used to the cone. He kept running into things and then he would just stand still in a spot for a long time because it wasn’t worth it to try to go anywhere. Mason would hang his furry head in shame and get the bottom of the cone stuck in the floor and he couldn’t move forward. So funny, but so sad. He was back to his normal self within a few days. We left him at home without the cone on the fifth day after surgery since he wasn’t disturbing his incision. I, like the worrisome mother I am, rushed home around lunch time to make sure he hadn’t ripped open his stitches. Of course he left the stitches alone, but this is what I found instead:

Coke cans

Yikes. Our counter surfer. We line up recyclables on the counter near our back door to take out to our bin in the garage. Mason’s never disturbed these items before, but there’s a first time for everything. What you don’t see in this picture is that he managed to get an empty beer bottle off of the counter without breaking it and he carried it across the kitchen to his bed. Boozehound Mason. He loves surfing! So far he’s snatched the top off a blueberry muffin hot out of the pan,

blueberry muffins

a bag of onion rolls (he ate all 4!),

Mason onion rolls

a landscaping plan, a greeting card, a wicker placement,

Wicker placemat

and 2 aluminum cans. Needless to say, we cannot leave anything on the counter within his reach. Our fruit basket has been relegated to the dining room table where he cannot go. No paper is safe. We even push back the utensil caddy and the TV remote.

Now I love my little guy; that should be obvious based on all the pictures I post of him on this blog and Instagram. Apologies in advance for how obnoxious I’ll be when I have a human child. I love my little fur ball, but fur is what he’s got a lot of. The labra/golden doodle fans either don’t stress this enough or puppy love impaired my judgment, but fleece-coated doodles are HIGH MAIN.TEN.ANCE.

Mason blow dry

Granted, Mason is going through coat transition which happens to labradoodles and golden doodles between 8 and 12 months. Their adult coats grow in underneath their puppy coats and since they’re minimal shedders, they mat A LOT. Mason’s fur has also been pretty long because up until a few weeks ago I could not find a groomer we liked – yes, we. Mason had a horrific experience at our previous groomer: they plucked his ear hair against my wishes and he got a nasty double ear infection. He also had bad razor burn on his man parts (this is when he still had them.) It was infuriating.

Because of that awful experience, I did not take him back to a groomer until a few weeks ago.

Mason groomer

With his long hair, I have to brush him for 1 and a half to 2 hours every weekend. In between weekends, I check for mats and use a comb to break them up and comb them out. It’s not enjoyable for either one of us. We’ve had to do some serious tolerance work when it comes to brushing and bathing thanks to the grooming salon from hell. Mason’s come a long way. I’m pretty proud of him though he could still do better. I say all this not to discourage anyone from getting a doodle, but to educate you on a major con of the breed. I wouldn’t trade Mason for anything. He’s so smart, has an amazing personality, has the softest fur, and is the cutest dog ever. His positive traits more than make up for the diva-level pampering he requires. The coat maintenance has started to subside after about 12 weeks – the grooming he received a few weeks ago really helped. But it was a chore there for awhile. If you’re considering getting a doodle, you need to realistically ask yourself if you’re willing to devote the time necessary to groom them. It doesn’t take near as long if you choose to cut them back shorter, but you’ll still have to brush them every week during their transition no matter the coat length.

In our house, I am the dog brusher. I enlist Adam’s help sometimes to hold Mason or distract him with a treat. Lately, Mason’s been good enough that I can handle him on my own. Adam isn’t going to take the initiative to give Mason a brush out. Never gonna happen. Just like I’m never going to crawl under my car one day and change the oil. This is life. Wife brush dog. Husband change oil. Also, when Mason’s fur is longer, he’s like a breathing feather duster. He goes outside, collects leaves and debris, and comes back in and dumps it all on our floor. With a shorter coat, he has less material to trap things and he is not matting as much. Thank goodness!

Mason after groom

If that’s my biggest gripe about labradoodles, I think that’s pretty amazing. Plus, his fur is incredibly soft and his coat is this beautiful apricot with highlights and low lights. Mason is so darn loyal and happy-go-lucky and cute. There’s no aggression, no eliminating in the house, no health problems, no anxiety issues. He’s a pretty amazing dog. So on that note, here are the…

Top 20 things we love about Mason:

20. He’s oh-so-soft

19. He looks like a teddy bear, muppet, baby Chewbacca all in one

18. He loves everyone and every dog

17. He’s eager to please

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16. His love for cheese

15. He can catch an object in the air or on the bounce

14. He knows when people are upset and wants to comfort them.

13. He recognizes our cars by sight and sound and will run to the door when he sees them out the front window

12. He greets us with a toy and growls/howls to get you to play with him while it’s in his mouth

11. He is FANTASTIC in the car, with the windows down or up, through drive-thrus, on long trips, etc. He is so good!

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10. He poops in the ivy or brush. Be jealous. We never have to worry about walking on it.

9. Ice is a favorite treat of his. We like this because ice is free.

8. Watching him play in his plastic pool in the summer time is like watching the happiest little kid.

pool

7. He loves to cuddle with us in bed in the morning after he’s peacefully slept underneath it all night.

6. When he wants something, he paws the air. We didn’t teach that.

5. He is so great with children and the elderly.

4. He puts up minimal fuss during grooming and teeth brushing sessions.

3. He doesn’t want to leave our sides.

side

2. He’s a cuddle-bug in bed in the morning.

mason and oreo

1. He forces us to stop and enjoy the simple things: the joy of a car ride,

Car Ride

the beauty of the outdoors,

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the fun of running around the backyard.

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Spring Has Sprung a New Wreath

Posted on March 11, 2013. Filed under: Hobbies, Home, Uncategorized |

I love me some wreaths, but they are so expensive. No wonder my mother always makes hers. I have a fall wreath, I have a Christmas wreath I bought at Pier 1 on sale, but that’s it. Time for a spring/summer wreath.

Materials:
Styrofoam wreath form
Brightly colored yarn (I have 2 colors)
Coordinating fabric scraps (about 3-5 different fabrics at 1/2 yd each)
Hot glue gun
Straight pins
Scissors

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1. Tie the end of your yarn around the wreath and affix the knot with hot glue

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2. Wrap the yarn around the wreath form covering all the styrofoam, hot gluing every few inches.

3. Switch colors when you like. Tie different yarns together and glue knot to wreath form on the back of wreath

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4. Once you’ve finished wrapping the wreath, straighten any overlapping/criss-crossing yarn.

5. To make your fabric flowers, I followed Katie Bower’s tutorial.

6. I used straight pins and pinned the flowers to the wreath in an arrangement I liked.

Voila!

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Door Knobs and Photo Bombs

Posted on March 5, 2013. Filed under: Dog, Home |

Random title, I know. This post is really all about door knobs, but you’ll see what I mean about the photo bombs if you keep reading. What a ham.

We have a home improvement list. It’s very long. It keeps getting longer even though we cross items off all the time. It’s funny though. We love our house. It’s in relatively good shape. But we’re addicted to projects and putting our own stamp on things. I suppose that’s what makes a house a home.

One of the many items on our home improvement list is to replace all the interior doors with nicer, MATCHING, paneled doors. This includes hardware.

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I think details like this are the ones you tend to ignore or are completely blind to when you fall in love with your future home. Just like we didn’t notice our purple hall walls until the final walk-through (we’d already seen the house 3 times at this point, one of them being for a few hours when the inspector was there), we didn’t notice that the interior doors are very inconsistent and the hardware is even worse. These details are hard to notice to the less familiar eye, but when there is consistency I think there is a huge aesthetic improvement.

At this moment in time, we don’t want to spend a lot of cash on new interior doors. It would be expensive, time consuming, and it’s not exactly a sexy thing to spend your money on. We’ve decided to replace doors as we re-do certain areas of the house. For instance, we see a bathroom reno in our future, so while we’re redoing everything bathroom related, it will make sense to replace the bathroom door and its hinges.

In terms of door hardware, we’re taking a different approach a la my homies from Young House Love. I can call them my homies because my friend and I met them when they came to Atlanta for their book tour.

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It was better than meeting Zach Morris – er Mark Paul something-or-other (my other big celebrity meeting). I digress. This project was all their idea and I want to give them due credit. So you should check out their post on ORB-ing doorknobs because they do a darn good job of explaining the how-to. That’s why they are so awesome. Basically what I’m telling you is that you should click on their link for the how-to because this post is all about how I copied them and what my results were.

We have a lot of interior doors in our house: 15 if you don’t count the 2 sets of closet sliding doors. Of the 15 doors, only 4 of them are the type of door we want: paneled.

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Yikes. See why we’re slowly replacing them? Of the 15 sets of hardware, 11 are knobs, 4 are handles; 14.5 are brass and .5 is nickel. Yes, you read that right. The inside of our closet door handle is nickel and the outside is brass. It drives me BONKERS. It’s already bad enough that some doors have handles versus knobs. But to have a different finish on either side of the door? That’s like wearing navy blue with black. Bad.

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And just like we don’t want to put down hundreds of doll-hairs to replace interior doors, we’re not inclined to do that for the hardware either – particularly when it works just fine. And then I was inspired by John & Sherry Petersik and the rest is home makeover history.

We decided to refinish our knobs in Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint. The Petersiks swear that it’s worked for them: no chipping and scratching. And what do we have to lose? We hate the door hardware as it is so we might as well try the less expensive option first. We replaced the hardware on our front door this summer in oil-rubbed bronze and a minor mishap (i.e. I locked us in the basement so Adam had to kick in the door) forced us to replace another knob in oil-rubbed bronze. So we’re on the right track for consistent finishes. We are leaving the door HANDLES as is. We’ll eventually replace these with ORB knobs.

On a Thursday evening after work I stopped by Lowes to buy the spray paint, deglosser, and 400 grit sandpaper. Over the weekend, we removed all the knobs, keeping the pairs and their screws together on this giant piece of cardboard.

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Then we lightly sanded and deglossed.

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We had a big block of styrofoam from a new power tool, so we used it to hold all the knobs.

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Adam stuck them in the foam by their pointy parts. He he. Unfortunately, the styrofoam wasn’t big enough which led to Adam’s creative jerry rig of old bathroom baseboard (yes, I owe you an update) to hold the knobs.

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About 5 thin coats later, plus another spot coat on their undersides, and they were ready to cure. I brought the knobs back in our basement to cure for 48 hours.

After 2 days of drying time to decrease the chance of scratches, Adam reinstalled all of the knobs. Side note: when we removed them, we stuck labeled painters tape on the back of each one so we could easily put them back where they belong.

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We also put some tape around the knob to protect from scratches as we were screwing them back. I sprayed some paint into a plastic cup and used a small craft brush to paint the screw heads after re-installation.

And here you have it (with our photo bomber):

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Looks so much better, right? We are 73% on our way to matching interior door hardware. What what?

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