Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Veggie Garden in August

With the crazy busyness of the reunion, I neglected to show Lyle's finished vegetable garden.
Shame on me, cause it's pretty darn cool.

This is the largest of the 3 garden entrances, the only one that required 2 gates.  It leads to the compost bins and the strawberry patch.

 The raised concrete beds were worth every bit of effort and are brimming over with herbs and veggies.
Lyle's good friend, Forrest, was our concrete mentor and spent many long hours helping Lyle.  

Only 3 months ago, when I wrote about our messy progress (and before Lyle built the grape arbor), those same beds looked like this.  Quite a difference.

The brick pathways are a big improvement over the weedy dirt.

It's been an unusually hot summer in the northwest and everything's thriving.
  For the past several nights, we've eaten almost exclusively from our garden.  Even so, we're giving away tomatoes and potatoes and zucchini left and right.

I think I need to learn how to can.

Like today.

Lyle washes the produce off in his outdoor sink and then dumps the sludge that goes into the bucket into the compost bins..... 

or we give it to the willing-to-eat-anything goats.

Nothing yet from the grape vine, but it's in the works. 

The smallest entrance to the vegetable garden is the gate near the barn door--the barn door that is now locked thanks to our weed whacker thief,

but the barn cats can still come and go.

I love how the brick walkway curves around the barn.  

We planted some Little Lime hydrangeas and azaleas.

A concrete step (with a ramp in the middle) leads to the upper level of the garden.

The lower level has enough space for a little patio with a bench on one side and a cafe table and chairs on the other.

On the barn, it took many years for the climbing hydrangea to finally bloom, but it's now as consistent as Old Faithful.  

Eight years ago, you could barely see it at the bottom of the barn, but it will soon head over the rooftop and creep around the chicken coop (the chicken coop that was non-existent 8 years ago).  It's not a vine that packs a huge WOW factor, but has kind of a quiet elegance.  
It's one of my very favorite things we've ever planted.

 This year I tried a new vine on the front of the barn--solanum crispum, or a Chilean potato vine.   It had a prolific bloom in the spring, and now is on it's second, more modest bloom.  
Adorable little purple flowers with yellow centers.

The second arbor is near the barn and heads down to the pasture.

It's a veggie garden that can easily feed our family of 7....

.....and then some!

So, if you're hankering for some veggies, stop by and help yourself.
Unless you're the weed whacker thief.
You've already helped yourself plenty.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Family Reunion. Call it DONE.

As of yesterday, we are now once again just a teeny family of 7.  
It seems teeny since last week we were a family of 47.

My husband has 6 sisters and 1 brother and from those 8 kids there are 31 grandchildren 
and 3 great grandchildren.
After everyone left, Lyle asked me if I thought we'd gone over-the-top in our preparations.
We thought about it and decided that if you have an over-the-top sized family, 
then over-the-top preparations are just necessary.
If we had it to do over again, I don't think we would do anything differently.

We bought a 20X40 dining tent off of Craigslist and had plenty of room for us all to be together. 
We had cousins and aunts and uncles in every bedroom and couch on our property and a little tent city was erected behind our garage.
There were 2 port-a-potties and an outdoor shower and as far as I know, Google Earth did NOT update our satellite image while Auntie Jules was using said shower, much to her relief.

The weather could not have been more perfect the whole week.  
We had an activity each day.  Here the girls were at the bunkers at Fort Worden for beach day.

Our family tends to be heavy on the granddaughters, 

who seem to be more likely than the boys to take advantage of photo ops, 
hence their predominance in pictures.

On hiking day, the early-morning hikers were rewarded with great views.

Lyle took the early die-hard group for a grueling hike, and I led the later group, actually missed the trail head and drove straight to the viewpoint.

I got no complaints and we all enjoyed the M&M-heavy trail mix.
The others were sore the next day, but we felt just fine.

The only negative of the family reunion was whale watching day.
I think this photo must have been taken at the very beginning.

As was this one.
Because not long afterward, many of these lovely young ladies were puking over the side of the ship.

The water was so choppy that my sister-in-law actually fell over in her chair, gashing her head.
She was met at Friday Harbor by an ambulance which took her to get stitches, not exactly the souvenir  she wanted from San Juan Island.

As she was attended to, some of the group had recovered enough to eat lunch, 
but others needed more time.

At least it was a beautiful day.
And after all was said and done, not a single orca was spotted.

Back at home, there was nightly pickle ball.
Do you see how terrifying my brother-in-law looks?  
I should know.  I was on the other side of the net.

And on another night, horses arrived to give the kids rides up and down our street.

Our new waterfall came in very handy for the Adopt-a-Duck derby.   We had several heats and the competition was fierce.

The whole thing was truly fantastic.

Franklin adored every minute of it and is now bored out of his mind.

See you all in 2015 in Idaho and 2017 in South Dakota!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ugly Duckling No More--Hillside Edition

After years of dreaming, months of planning, and several weeks of work, the big yard project of 2013 is done.

No, that doesn't accurately describe it.  Let me start over.

After years of dreaming, months of planning, and several weeks of work, the big yard project of our whole mortal existence (yes, that's better) is done.

My expectations were quite high.   Having done 95% of our home improvements on our own, I expected a lot from professionals.  My expectations were so high that I worried I'd maybe be disappointed with the end result, or feel that it wasn't worth the expense, or always wonder if we could have done just as good a job on our own.

Well, yesterday was the day that Lyle and I finally surveyed the finished hillside.

My ridiculously high expectations were actually exceeded.

We could not have done what Susan Calhoun at Plantswoman Design planned out and her crew brought to life.

We didn't have the know-how or desire to install the type of sprinkler system that even in August will keep our lawn looking like this......

.....instead of like this, which was its usual state every summer.

We couldn't have safely moved the ugly rocks that were serving only as weed and blackberry collection sites.

And we definitely couldn't have so expertly put them together to make this amazing waterfall.......the waterfall that I should mention I told Lyle I didn't want.  (He was at work the day they turned the pump on for the first time.  I texted him and said, "I was wrong.  You were right.")
And seriously, have those "ugly" rocks been upgraded or what?  Who knew I had such a goldmine in stone, just waiting to be liberated?

I love the shallow depth of the pond.  They'd actually dug quite deep and then filled the hole with rocks, so I wouldn't worry about visiting toddlers drowning and my kids could actually wade through without worrying about puncturing the liner.  XiXi and Cholita's feet have been very wrinkled and wet the past few days from all the time they've spent in the pond.  

We were intimidated by the size of the hillside.  We wanted privacy from the road, which we will eventually have, as the hedgerow plants will grow to about 10 feet, and we wanted ample planting beds, but didn't know where to stop beds and start lawn or how to do the paths.

I love the curves and feel like we've got a perfect grass to plant ratio, especially as the plants fill in.

This entry arbor was already here, but it seems somehow different now that there's such an amazing view on the other side.

We wanted to be able to enjoy our view of the mountains to the west and have an area that we could actually use at the top of the hill.  
This flagstone seating area is one of my favorite things about the design.

The path's twists and turns make everything seem so much larger.

I currently cannot be sent outside for any errands, at least not quick errands, because I'm completely distracted and have to do a quick walk-through.  The path is too darn inviting.

There's such a great mix of plants and I can't wait to see them all through the year and enjoy their different bloom times.  

This section by the wisteria walkway was not so lovely before, which was a pity since Lyle spent so much time working on the arbor.  

Now, the rockery plants will fill in and cascade and be just gorgeous.

This part of the yard was so precarious to mow; I almost drove into the arbor many times.  
But those days are over.

 We have a bench on the other side of this path and in the past 24 hours, I've spent way too much time sitting here, looking at the hill and sighing.  I cannot believe this is our yard.  

But my sitting time is done.  Fifty people will be here come Monday and there's one or two things that need doing!

Thank you Plantswoman Design!  We love it!