My Writings. My Thoughts.
Some of you might know that I’ve been taking a few landscape design classes over at ACC. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s a bit harder than I thought it would be, which is a good thing. It’s always good to keep the mind sharp.
- This is officially my first official education in anything design-related. Ironic, no?
- It’s being taught as I’d imagine old-school graphic design classes were - everything is done by hand. I think it’s ridiculous, personally, but it is fun to get pen to paper. If I do this for real, Illustrator will be my tool of choice.
If you’re interested, I thought I’d post my final project for the class. This is all hand-drawn and to scale for someone’s yard. We presented to the client at the beginning of the month and I think I did pretty well. She loved the firepit (as do I!) Download the PDF (1.4 mb) and check out my handiwork.
- The big image on the left is showing the entire yard in plan view
- If you notice the little arrows in the front yard, you’ll see a section/elevation from that perspective on the bottom right.
- The top right is a plant legend (some specific, some not)
- The middle right is a drawing of a garden in the back corner.
I’ve been working quite a bit on my front gardens and not as much on my back gardens. I recently went out and photographed everything for tracking purposes. Here’s a taste:
My front sun garden is doing gloriously. I extended the very crowded garden that was there before, moved things around, and gave everything a lot more space. I have it as a combo of deserty plants and orange flower plants. Since it’s the only sun garden I have in my whole yard right now, I just throw stuff in there as I can. Soon there will be a beautiful sunflower plant there that I bought online.
My small rectangle garden is known around these parts as the great plant killer. I went with my sad story to Red Barn and an employee suggested this lilly plant. She said if this one dies, consider yard art. Let’s hope this one lives to tell the tale.
My long front garden near the swing is finally starting to fill out. It’s a shade garden, so most of it is simply green leafed plants. I do try to find them as tropical-looking as they come. The Japanese Auralia and the Giant Leopart Plant are a big help with that notion.
Now we move to the back. My deck garden that I planted last year is doing… ok. This is the sprinkler head that we conveniently destroyed, so I need to water it by hand. Too often, I forget. There are a couple of plants that succombed to the winter. The Golddust Aucuba is the only plant actually growing so far this year.
My herb garden is full of new herbs thanks to a coupon from Red Barn. I’ve used the oregano, basil, and parsley regularly. I need to use the cilantro soon because it tends to bolt early. I bought chocolate mint on a whim and other than making people taste it directly, I need to find a better use for it.
The garden along the back fence is in need of some serious help. It doesn’t look nearly as good as when we first tried to start it with Colleen’s help. My thoughts are that we tried to plant too many sun loving plants back here when they only get maybe an hour of sun a day thanks to our massive amount of trees. I just need to head to the plant store soon and start getting some beautiful shade plants to get this one started again.
Austin had the benefit of some much needed rain this week. Unfortunately, one of these storms that came through at rush hour had a good bit of hail attached.
Dave was driving home from work in Northwest Austin when the hail struck. There was a wreck in front of him and the traffic had completely stopped, so he was stuck like a duck on the highway. He called me when it was hailing on him to warn me that it was coming my way, and the sound of it was amazing. I couldn’t believe how loud it was! It sounded like one of those horror movies where the Zombies can’t get into your locked car so they take hammers to it and start beating it to death.
I lucked out and my carpool buddy and I escaped the hail. However, it did hail quite a bit at our house and I’m sorry that I didn’t get good pictures of that. There were tons of golfball-sized ice cubes sitting in our grass when I got home. It was quite a site. (Yet again, I’m sooooo thankful that we can park in the garage!)
I took a few pictures of Dave’s car when I got home for posterity’s sake. Then Dave decided to get in there and take a few artsy pics while I was away at choir practice.
Here are my pics:
Here are a few of his:
We already replaced the windows and are probably going to have the car totalled on Sunday. It’s old and has an old egg stain on the paint, so it’s not in great shape on the exterior. Even with the potmarks all over it, Dave is still determined to drive it for now. I think he should turn it into an art car, but he’s not keen on the idea.
I’ve always told people about the incredible amount of leaves our yard accumulates over the fall/winter season. We have a total of five red oak trees (3 front, 2 back), four of which are probably about 30 years old, that have been shedding leaves and acorns since August or so. I haven’t documented much of it until now. And I was only able to capture the backyard.
We bought a new tool this year on my insistence. Last year we got rid of our leaves the old fashioned way, with a rake and lots and lots of leaf bags. After tackling the front yard earlier this season, I decided that with as many leaves as we have, it’s well worth it to pick up a power tool. So we got a blower/vaccuum tool. I haven’t used the blower yet as raking is sort of fun (it’s the bagging that is such a pain), but the vaccuum rocks! It took a while to get used to it as it doesn’t like twigs or acorns, two things of which we have plenty in our leaf piles… not to mention the occasional wayward limestone rock. But I got it going.
It grinds the leaves as it puts them in the bag. This is wonderful since I finally convinced Dave to help me build a compost pile. (Really, I can’t believe it took us this long!) We made it last weekend and I was looking forward to filling it. The grinding is a great help and will really speed things along.
Here are a bunch of before-raking pictures I took in our backyard:
I also took a picture of the biggest pile I was able to make all day. Then I grabbed cedar-fevery Dave and begged him to take pictures of me in the pile to show its massiveness. (He called me vain… how rude!)
And here is the end result:
Our once-empty compost pile is filled to the top and the rest of the leaves took up five whole leaf bags — ground into itty bitty pieces!
Thank goodness I have a friend with horses and a passion for composting to help get the pile going. She promises to drop off a load this weekend. Yes. I did.
So I’ve finally learned how to sew with a sewing machine. I’ve had a machine since 2005 and have been wanting someone to teach me ever since. So a huge thanks goes out to Anne D. for being that someone! She doesn’t know what sort of monster she may have created.
I thought I’d share my few projects I’ve done since I first learned.
My first goal was to make a cloak for this year’s Renaissance Festival. It was going to be colder there than most times we went and I couldn’t wear a jacket! (For shame!) Cloaks are very expensive and I thought it would be super fun to make one myself. So that’s the project I learned with. I ended up picking out some red polka-dotted fabric that had a pretty cool looking liner (so I didn’t have to line it manually my first time around). Anne walked me through working with the pattern, sewing the pieces together, and hemming the ends. I think I did really well for a first project. Here’s the results!
Then I decided in early December that I’d like to make something for the women in my family with a new-found skill. I picked aprons because they are pretty easy and something that you don’t have to worry too much about fit. I found a great McCalls pattern set of three retro aprons and made one of each kind for the ladies in Houston. It took forever and a good chunk out of my holiday planning time, so next year I’ll be sure to think of somthing in November at the latest. But I’m really happy with the way that each of them came out. And I loved being able to taylor them to each of their personalities.
Then today I went all crazy and made a pincushion. I used scraps from the aprons and came up with the pattern myself - two circles! I even cut one out of tissue paper so that I could have a “pattern” piece to use. I had bought some batting at a garage sale a long time ago and could use that as stuffing. I put the pieces together and it was very imperfect, yet charming. I thought it would look even more put together with a button so I started digging around in my materials. I found a button in the sewing materials I’d inherited from my grandma (along with some taylors chalk - bonus!) and attached it with the navy thread I was using. It actually mimicked the material pretty well and I like the imperfectness of it all. Below are pictures. I think it looks a bit like a donut with sprinkles with all the pins in there.
In a classic random journey through the Interwebs, I came upon this really nifty site. It’s a photo history of major road construction in Austin. Here are my faves:
- Beautiful road before ugly IH-35 took over
- The triangle, pre-triangle (by about 45 years)
- Pre-Mopac highway from Camp Mabry
- Pennybacker bridge on its way
I found that site from comments on this photo, showing astroturf being laid between the lanes of 2222 near Mopac. Yay for randomness! And history!
On the sad side of things, I was recently tasked by a client of mine to include an Austin skyline photo on his site. I thought about it a bit and, in fact, I have no idea what the Austin skyline is anymore. So I did a Google images search… and freaked when I saw this shot! Who in the world decided we needed to look like Dallas?! *Sigh*. Bye bye history. Hello modern concrete jungle of Dallas-/LA-ness.
Really, this was way too much fun. Basically, you upload a picture of yourself and see how you would look if you appeared in the yearbooks of yesteryear. I spent way too much time playing with Dave’s and my pictures to come up with the best of the bunch.
Here are the winners:
Of note, I was too lazy to photoshop these further. I have weird bangs and dave has hair from his Halloween wig. Just blur those parts in your mind.
Here are a few more that I came up with:
This one looks a bit too much like my mom.
Me with a fro. Oh yeah!
High school me (ignoring the oddly shaped chin), even though this was supposed to be from 1974.
I’d love to see some from other people. Let me know what you come up with!
So Dave had a brilliant idea this weekend. I’ve always wanted to remove the popcorn on the wall above our cabinets. I hate it! Who needs popcorn on their wall?! I truly don’t understand the purpose. Anyhoo… Dave thought that we should get rid of it while the kitchen is already a mess and turn those areas into real walls. That’s an awesome idea!
So we did a better job this time of containing the mess. We put up tarps, watered, scraped, sanded, dusted, primed, and then painted the first coat of color to match the rest of the kitchen walls. I only got pics after we put the first coat of paint on and I’ll add the finished product later. Oh happy day!
Oh, and still no floors yet. It’s hard to figure out what to do to lessen the impact of a cracking foundation on the new floor.
Sorry for the late update, but the kitchen floor is gone! Dave managed to remove the second half all by himself when he got home from work early… all without my knowledge. He carefully cut out the crazy particleboard that went through underneath the hardwood floors that we’re keeping. He used a circular saw, I hope slowly. (I didn’t see.) There was minimal damage to the hardwoods that’s easily covered with a transition piece. He then removed the stove and refrigerator all by his lonesome without a dolly, removed the floors, and replaced the fridge. I’m damn impressed!
We spent all day Saturday cleaning up dust. The dust damage was extensive. We started the project so haphazardly that we didn’t bother covering anything or containing the work area. We learned our lesson, big time. Dave likened it to an episode he had when he was a kid. Apparently one of his step brother’s friends thought it would be funny to set off the fire extinguisher in his house. He and his brothers had to clean up the mess. That’s quite a comparison, but I’d imagine quite accurate.
We also bought a new dishwasher. Oh, happy day! It’s coming tomorrow and I can’t wait to see how much quieter it is than our old one. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but the brand of the old dishwasher is Insinkerater. Let that sink in a bit. Yes, the dishwasher is an Insinkerator. Sure it might be a certified antique at this point, but all I care is that it’s gone!
Next we need to recover the floor (obviously). We’re going with vinyl tiles due to the foundation’s movement. (See pictures of the cracks below.) Luckily, vinyl tiles are much better these days and can even be grouted. I definitely want them to look as real as possible… none of that fake grout crap.
After that is finding transition pieces that would fit a 1-2 inch gap. While that may be quite unlikely, Dave is researching how to make one of our own.
So that’s that. Almost done. It’s our first truly large DIY project. I’m rather proud of ourselves!