Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Hunting aka Antiquing

My friend Sarah and I both love to go antiquing to see what we can find. (Her blog is about her farmhouse reno....check it out!) We went about 2 months ago and I found some great chairs that I want to reupholster. I guess, I need to digress a little to bring everyone up to speed....

My taste has always been modern, but more specifically, brand new, if that is really a taste. In other words, I wanted all my stuff to be brand new from the store. I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way with our 90 year old house, I saw that start to change. I had reached a point where I felt it made more sense to find some older pieces that could be redone with a modern touch. This meant one, I needed to find some good pieces of old furniture and two, I would need to learn how to reupholster. I also think viewing Chairloom, an upholstery store outside of Philadelphia also made me interested in upholstery, just not the prices.

After doing some research, a basic dining room chair where the seat could essentially be "popped out" covered in fabric and "popped back in" seemed to be a good place to start. And this is what started my antique furniture hunts!! Seriously, if you told me 10 years ago that in the future I would love a good flea market, I probably would have fallen over dead on the spot. Definitely didn't see this interest/hobby coming!!

I found the first two chairs when Sarah and I went to the store that is near my house. I absolutely love the rolled back detailing at the top of the chair. At first I thought I would even reprint the chairs, but I have decided not to. I think they will be fine will the upholstered chair seats tying them together. I was able to get both of these for $35.

I found the chair below for $7 when I met up with my parents at a flea market one weekend. Now the bottom is broken, but I can get a piece of wood easily to replace the broken one. Also, the dark wood color matches the first chair.

The is the final chair that I purchased over the weekend. I had seen it when Sarah and I were there before, but it was priced as $50. Since I knew I would be redoing it, that was way more than I wanted to spend. When I asked about the price Saturday, the guy at the counter said 20% off, but I was still not satisfied. When checking out he asked me about it and I flat out told him that was more than I wanted to pay. He said to make him an offer. I suggested $20 and the chair was mine!

The best "find" as we call it did belong to me on Saturday. I found this incredibly cute bench!

I haven't decided exactly where it is going. I am thinking the living room. This one I will be sanding down and painting. It is really cool. I can't wait to get started, but I first need to settle on a color so I can look for fabric.

Peter Cottontails Has To Die!

So I know the title of this post may seem a little harsh, however, those cute creatures with pretty fur and a fluffy tail are not so nice and sweet. Don't be fooled by those big sad brown eyes and the way they hop to and fro. Oh no, my friends, beware....they are vicious, flower murders. I even have the evidence to prove it.

This pretty corepolis had a nice yellow flower, but it was quickly ravaged.

See the pretty stalk with flower buds, there were more out front, however, the plant thirsty vermin has snacked on it continuously leaving no pretty flowers to be seen.

And there was 1. I had planted 6 thriving, lush larkspurs. Now only 1 sole survivor remains.

Suspect #1 
Unfortunately, there is not just one of these creatures. We have an infestation of rabbits. No matter what door you walk out or window you look out, you can see a rabbit lounging in the yard. Seriously, lounging. They lay with their back feet stretched out and eat with no worries in the world. So while I have been successful in keeping them out of the garden, it has been to the detriment to my floor beds.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Garden Update

So I had said I would give a garden update earlier last week, so I want to follow through. I am quite happy with how it is going so far this year. I can hoe around all the plants and weed it in about 2 hours. I try to make sure I do this once a week. I have also learned that if I do this a day after it has rain, it is so much easier!
Looking in at the garden. As you can see, bottom of the fence is bunny proof.

Tomatoes, green pepper and jalapeno pepper

Broccoli and cabbage

Lettuce, radishes, and cucumbers

Last year the squirrels ate the basil, this year they are eating the rosemary since the basil is not in the garden

Green and yellow beans


Onions and corn

Since the squirrels ate all of the basil last year, this year I decided to container pot it next to the back door. I started my seeds inside. Surprisingly, one one or two did not make it, so we should have lots of basil. I bet Sam is excited!! (Not really, he gets heartburn from pesto, but I still use it since I love it.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Perfectly Manicured

Ever since we moved into the house, there has been one side which has been neglected. It wasn't intentional, but turns out that it was not used often. Besides, it is not a very pretty side. Over sized azalea bush, large AC unit, trash can, door to the basement....YUCK!

I told you, not very pretty! Oh and I almost forgot which I'm not sure how that is possible. My dreaded wisteria bush. Honestly, this thing would grow, and grow, and grow these humongous vines with no flowers or anything except long vines. Saying I hated this plant is an understatement.

This past weekend I decided it was time to give it some much needed attention. There was actually landscaping fabric with a metal wiring already down with mulch on top. I moved off the old mulch and cleaned up some of the old roots between the landscaping fabric and metal wiring and then re-mulched. While I was doing this, I decided to permanently remove the wisteria bush too! I was so happy when it was gone.

Sam had won a $50 Lowe's gift card and had given it to me a couple weeks ago. I still had some money left on it (shocker!) so I used it to purchase the mulch. While at Lowe's I looked at their discounted plant rack and came away with a beautiful peony plan to replace the wisteria bush. After a couple hours of hard work, this side of the house is looking pretty fantastic!

Pretty peony on one side and cat grave on another!
I have to say, the peony is my favorite part of the day. Since the season for it to bloom has passed, it was on sale for $3 from an original $34.98. Great way to save on a perennial I thought!

For anyone wondering, the concrete slab in the bottom part of the landscaping is a cat grave. Yep, my faithful cat Leo rest here. Not sure who Leo was, but no joke, the concrete slab is carved and enscripted. That part of the flower bed did not get reworked! If the mulch had not been covering it when I viewed the house, not sure I would have purchased. Ironically, when I was working in the ground where the peony plant is, I found a ceramic cat paw and it was only the paw in the dirt. Imagine two inches of leg and the the paw of a cat just laying in your dirt, knowing that a marked cat grave is only 2 feet away. It caused me a serious pause in work and almost passing out until I realized it was not real. Definitely shaved a few years off my life and caused my heart to skip a couple of beats. I quickly braved myself to pick it up and throw it in the trash bag. I had no intention of taking a photo as a memento. The grave is more than enough.

And in case my parents get some crazy notion; no, Sassy can not come live here since we already have the making of a cat graveyard!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Strip District Shopping

One of the great things about living in a suburb of a big city is being able to take advantage of all it offers. Saturday morning I went to the Strip District. A friend of mine was to go along as well, but she was not feeling well and had to back out. I was too excited and decided to go alone.

The Strip District was once a very industrial part of the city. There are huge warehouses when driving through that are now the home of bars, clubs, and various shopping places. Saturday morning in the Strip is actually a very popular tourist destination as well, so the natives usually make sure they arrive by 9 am when it all opens. There are fresh produce markets and I wanted to see if I could take advantage of them and find some fresh strawberries because I wanted to make some strawberry jam.

I would say I was impressed and disappointed at the same time. There were several fresh farmers markets. The one was actually an organic certified market. Let me tell you, the prices came along with all those goodies. I did splurge and purchased one quart of home grown strawberries. They claimed they were organic, but not certified organic. I really didn't care either way. Aren't they pretty?
So how much does a quart of homegrown strawberries cost in the city...$7 a quart!!!  I thought that was a little steep, therefore the only 1 quart purchase, however, with the time to grow them and pick them, $7 may not be unreasonable if you are trying to make a profit. One lady next to me purchased an entire flat and acted like $56 was nothing for 8 quarts.

There were two other places that had fresh produce. I was able to get 3 avocados for $3 which is a good deal and some bananas for $.39 a lb which was not bad either. I did see another produce place and I was appalled. They had actually cut the bad spots out of the broccoli leaving just the stem and was selling them as though it was fresh. They even had cantaloupes for $1, but if you weren't paying attention, the one side was soft as though they have already gone bad. Note to self, will not buy from that location.

One of my favorite vendors on the street are the flower guys. They have 5 gallon buckets filled with water and an assortment of flowers. They always negotiate as well which is great when looking for a deal. Even though I always require blooms, I made an exception and purchased some Eucalyptus. Our house smells amazing. One bunch was $2, but then the guy said 2 bunches for $3. He tried to get me to purchase 3 bunches for $4, but I stopped at 2 bunches. All I can say is our house smells fantastic!

My big purchase of the day was this AMAZING balsamic vinegar. In the one warehouse is a Public Market place. They have numerous vendors selling pastries, oils and vinegars, soups, and then there is a brewery and winery giving out samples all at 9 a.m! There was even a free kitten adoption, but I managed to pass. There was a small Sassy in the cage, but I held on to my willpower of no pets!

The oil and balsamic vinegar stand had a young women with a baby in one of those Baby Bjourns sleeping. So of course I stopped to try the lime olive oil with coconut and mango when she offered. She had me drink a little bit and it was heavenly. After walking around, I decided I would really splurge and buy a bottle. I had asked earlier and a bottle was $18. I normally would not ever spend that kind of money, but it was so good. I was a little disappointed to find out she had mixed a lime olive oil with Coconut Mango Balsamic vinegar, which meant two bottles at $18. Definitely was not happening! I tried each one separately and decided on the Coconut Mango Balsalmic Vinegar. I could use it instead of salad dressing on my salads for lunch as a treat maybe one day a week!

I went into the usual places to visit such as the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. They sell fresh cheeses, meats, pasta, oils, and more. I didn't go into Wholey's Fish Market even though they were advertising 2 crab cakes for $5.98 and Maine Lobsters for $5.98. I went to the grocery store Friday night, so I had already spent the grocery budget for the week. This did make me think though. Some of the prices on the feta cheese were so much cheaper than the grocery store, that it might make sense to stop in the Strip once a month and stock up on some things such as cheeses, oils, and maybe even some seafood.

Overall it was a good morning, I did forget to mention that there were little bakery stands set up on the sidewalks as well. So how could it not be a good morning when I get to eat a fresh cannolli while shopping in the city!

Garden Time

Last year, was my first garden and it went well. However, I didn't take advantage of it like I should have. I froze 4 containers of green beans and that was it. This year, I told myself I wanted to do a little more and use what I was growing more wisely. 

I started some plants inside this year; mainly just broccoli, cabbage, and basil. My grandmother had given me tomato, green peppers, broccoli, and cabbage plants. I also decided to plant corn, potatoes, onions, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, radishes, jalapeƱo pepper, zucchini, and lettuce. I even drew a diagram of how to plant it in the garden.

The garden has been coming along quite well. My only concern is that the squirrels keep getting into it. They ate the strawberries before I would get to them! Also, they have eaten my rosemary as well.  I'm going to have to get some cheap red pepper flakes and sprinkle the entire garden.

Looking into the garden from the gate

Tomatoes, green peppers, and of course a jalapeno pepper for fresh guacamole!

Cabbacge and Broccoli

Lettuce, radishes, and cucumbers

Green and yellow beans


 These pictures were from about two weeks ago. I will put up some more current ones. Let's just say the weather of humid and hot throughout the day and then rain a few days later has caused my garden to JUMP! I can not believe how big it already is, but that is good. Soon I won't need to go to the farmers market on a weekly basis and that will be nice for a change.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Locker hooking rug

This rug went from a fun project to a time consuming, expensive project. To start at the beginning, my mom had a package of Bali pops which I always loved. It contained yellows, greens, blues, and browns which are coincidentally the same colors I have painted inside the house. I was very excited to get started. I thought this would be a quick project to finish before it was time to get outside and play in the dirt. I cut the strips in half and began to weave them into the mat.

My problems began when I used up all the Bali pops my mom had provided me and I was not only 1/4 of the way done. Okay, no problem, I'll just go buy more fabric. (Insert laugh here) I did not realize how much a yard of fabric cost, let alone the Batik fabric I would need. I had figured out I needed 12 different patterns at half yard each. Yep, the dollar signs just start clanging together. I sucked it up and bought some fabric as well as used leftover my mom had from her various quilts.

Because I'm such a perfectionist, I ironed each piece of fabric and then cut it into 3/4 inch strips. Again, time consuming, it took 2 nights after work cutting the strips, but then they were all done. 

To make sure the pattern was similar I laid the fabric out in order. The only thing left was to weave it into the mat. This part was actually slow. I figured out I could do 3 rows in an hour. There were 70 rows! So a project that was started in March was finally finished the first weekend in June. Woo Hoo!! It sure is pretty!!

Beach Street Beauty!

So a whole month has gone by and no post, well that's because it has taken A LOT of time outside getting the house ready for spring. I had to plant the vegetable garden, 2 flower beds and clean the front bank. It seriously took me several weekends and nights after work to get it all done. I have to say, I'm quite proud of all my hardwork.

Front bank with weeds in their glory

After 2 days of hard work...weed free and flowers planted!

 The picture below is a good picture of the front of our house. We have two terraces of 2 rows of hedges and then the steep open bank. In between the rows of bushes, collects leaves and chestnut shells. I never had the time or ambition to clean them out since we moved in. I decided this year would be different.

 The work went by fairly quickly, and the bottom terrace has been cleaned out. I have not gotten to the second terrace as I have not been ambitious to put on long sleeve pants and shirt to walk between the hedges and reach into the next level. It did make a difference though!
Then there was the flower beds in front of the house and along the side. In a moment of sheer billance last year, I put in a flower bed along side the house. Turns out, it never gets any rain as it is completely under the roof over hang. Yep, I have to water this on a daily basis. Sheer genius on my part!
This flower bed in front of the house will be my demise. I had the huge shrubs that use to belong here ripped out when we moved in. Basically, they didn't bloom, so out they go! However, I'm struggling to get anything to grow in here. I purchased 2 hydrangeas last year and they died. The daises and lamb's ears from my grandmother's garden are doing fantastic though. This is flower bed is just going to be a work in progress I guess.

The morning glory and larkspur grow sporadically when the rabbits stop eating them. All the green are little helicopters from the trees.

Quite a few snap dragons in this picture. Suffice it to say, not that many left. They keep dying on me. Not sure what is going on in this flower bed!!
This is just the front and the one side of the house. If we go out back, there is the vegetable garden, but I think I will wait for another post for that one!