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Friday, 31 August 2012, 7 QT’s Garden After pictures

Almost a year ago when I started this blog, I was going to convert the wilderness that was the  back yard at my house into a reasonable approximation of a garden.  10 months later…

1. The back garden before

Fallen tree obscuring the right hand corner of the yard – March 2012

and more before

The other side of the yard before

I wish I had taken more thorough “before” pictures.

2. The back yard “during”

It has been a long road fraught with obstacles to get to “after” pics!

What happened the last time I was (almost) ready to post “after” pictures:

Hard to tell, but this is the same angle as the original before picture


3.  Ta Da!

The path to the back – August 2012

On the garage roof: my veteran geranium, zinnias, Italian parsley (apparently this is the spot it likes), snap dragons. I have ambitions fill the edge of the roof in future.

The back yard – August 2012

This is my best “overview” shot. That vague shape of mulch is my path and everything on the outer edge is a bed.

From the other angle

I have ambitions of encouraging the moss in the center so much it becomes a moss lawn. That brown patch in the front was an experiment with buying sheet moss – didn’t work, sheet moss is definitely dead.

The Tour

4.  heading straight ahead from the path behind the garage, first

Vinca and the blue column

The vinca is a “found” plant – I didn’t plant it, just encouraged it. Also pictured: wild violets, current bane of my existence.



which I hope will be hardy outside.  Not pictured because it’s dormant, I planted a bleeding heart on the other side of the column. There will be snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils in the spring, too,  if I’ve managed not to disturb them too badly this summer.

5.I planted hostas in the right-hand shady corner, against the back fence and under the pretty but highly invasive trumpet vines, that I am tolerating.

Blooming hosta

Ferns and begonias in the left hand corner

The bamboo is creeping back over here

6. Annuals along the lefthand side of the fence – this is the only consistently sunny side of the yard.

Zinnias and ageratum (floss flower)

Next spring, I will plant some chrysanthemums in the ground in this spot and fill in with summer-blooming flowers.

7. Here’s my little “raised bed” – the food section of the yard

Veggie corner with Cana lily

I can’t figure out how I want to hang/install my wine bottle tiki torches which is why they are dotted all over the yard.

Tomatoes and a pepper (in black pot) – I’m afraid they’re not going to ripen, though


A little patch of nasturtiums, courtesy of my sister

And bamboo on the garage wall brings the tour full circle

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!


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Monday, 27 August, 2012 The Garden After – part one

I think I’ve delayed long enough, it’s high time I started posting “after” pictures of the garden.

So, here we go:

Here’s the herb/flower patch “before”

March 2012

In this case, I feel the “before” pictures are a little unfair. There’s just not much that’s planted in this bed that comes up in the spring or is evergreen. And everything I’ve added will be gone next spring too.

Nonetheless here are some current shots of that same area.

August 2012

In pots: tomatoes, alyssum (not currently blooming), a 3 plant mixture at the top of the stairs and the purple flowers by the railing (lower pic only) purchased at the hardware store – names not known, purple basil (!) and there’s lemonbalm (lower pic only) hiding off in the upper left corner. In the ground, from left to right: basil (x 3) and some pathetic parsley (not the spot for it), oregano #1, green onions, in the back zinnias, more oregano with some spearmint pushing through, a marigold, another zinnia, rosemary and over by the gate some bachelor buttons (also not blooming and apparently not very happy.)

From a different angle

This bed is in a happy stage of growth. Because I started everything late this year, it seems many of my plants are at a late-June stage of growth here in late August. I don’t mind so much, except it means I may not see more than the two tomatoes pictured ripen all the way.

I’m really liking the pairing of the zinnias with the onion flowers. Something to do again next year.

I’m still very proud of getting rid of the trash can that used to stand back there.

Way before

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Friday, 24 August, 2012 7 Quick Links

7 Quick Links

… to things I read and enjoyed on the internets this week:

1. Egregious Twaddle on confession – a subject which I think could use more “blog-time” partly because almost everyone has had a troubling experience in the confessional and solidarity with one’s fellow Catholics is a balm and partly because many of us (myself included) were never well-catechized on this sacrament.

2. Betty Duffy on bikinis – a sane take in the midst of the perpetual modesty debate. My own mother came from one of those cultures where two-piece swimsuits were the norm, (Brazil and Hawai’i) and came back from one of her trips to Oahu when I was an early teenager bearing (cute) bikinis for all her daughters at the time. She was sadly disappointed and slightly hurt (just like she was sadly disappointed when we wouldn’t eat papaya, or guava, or any of the other tropical fruits she scrounged from CA supermarkets) when all but the very youngest refused to wear them. Now I’m kind of sorry I didn’t wear that suit while I could still pull it off.

3. The Jerk reviews Red Dawn (I confess I have not seen it – but now I have to!)

4. (more) Simcha Fisher at the Register on misplaced zeal

5. Barefoot and Pregnant on… child antics – no commentary can add a thing to this post; it simply has to be read

6. 10 Hard Truths for Kids by Matt Archbold – true dat

7. I am appalled at how difficult it’s been to come up with 7 full length articles from one week! I waste at least 2 hours a day on the internets, what do I have to show for it??! Oh, yes, Pinterest.

Some people have actually put up 7 Quick Takes here.

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Thursday, 23 August, 2012 Ikea Hack

This is my first-ever Ikea “hack” – accomplished with only basic hand tools and a lot of trial and error.

It isn’t the most impressive or complicated project, but I’m hoping it will be useful to someone out there for brainstorming or ideas. I didn’t plan this hack out; it sort of evolved and I made a few errors of judgment that ended up costing me – mostly in the money department, but also in terms of time.


I moved about a year ago from a one-bedroom apartment to a shared house. And while I dearly love my new bedroom, it presented some substantial challenges in terms of furnishing and storage.  There is not one clear wall in the whole room – it has 3 doors and two windows and a radiator.

Once I’d figured out the placement for my bed & bookshelves (the main pieces of furniture for the room),  I still wanted: a headboard,  more storage, and a charging station. I had this ancient Billy (?) Ikea bookcase, I’d inherited from my sister a few years ago.

Here’s the famous bookcase “before” – I used it as a bedside table/dresser in my old apartment.

Even though I was satisfied with the general placement of my bed and bookshelves in my new bedroom, the spot I chose for the bed had a downside: the radiator forced a gap of about a foot between the wall and the head of the bed. I wanted a headboard or something to fill the gap and to lean against while reading etc, in bed.  Also, I had an overflow of books and some other homeless items that I wanted to store. Initially, I solved both problems by elevating my old Ikea bookcase and putting it behind my bed. I bought Vika Amon legs for the purpose, but couldn’t screw them into the particle board underside of the shelf without a drill, so instead I attached them to an Ekby Tryggve wall shelf and placed the bookshelf on that. (Lifting the bookcase onto the shelf was a two-person job. The result was a little wobbly as well.) Unfortunately I have no pictures of this stage.

In the end, I didn’t like how the bookcase fit in the space between the window and the corner and I didn’t really care for the visual of “there’s a bookcase behind my bed,” either, and the result wasn’t really stable enough to lean against.

So, I decided to turn the bookshelf on its side, buy some smaller shelves and use them to form “cubbies” (that would look a little less uniform and less like a conventional bookcase) and cover up the bottom shelf with something I could lean against.

Not having any power tools, I decided to support the “cubby” shelves using the existing shelves and improvised rails. I measured precisely the spaces between the shelves as the were, and then bought shelves in those exact lengths – one small white Billy extra shelf, and two 8″ shelves from Amazon*.

I bought a length of 1×2″ from Home Depot and they cut it in the store into the lengths I needed for rails. I spray painted (not the best decision, either) the rails white and nailed them into the frame of the bookcase at the heights I wanted.

The rails are not very attractive

The cardboard back of the bookcase was a bit warped and pulling away from the frame. I decided to take advantage of the damage to run power cords for my soon-to-be-charging station in to the bookcase through the gap.

Laptop cord (horizontal) and extension cord (diagonal) running in through the back panel and behind one of the original shelves/supports

Here’s the Billy bookcase on its side with cubbies (and ledges*) & power cords set up.

With legs and charging stations set up

Now I needed a way to attach the pillows to the bottom portion of my new headboard. I tried some makeshift arrangements using the pillow ties, but they were unsatisfactory. In the end I decided on using the same method I’d used to hang up an earring holding ribbon.

Ribbon attached to rail of (a different) bookcase with Command strips.

I put up Command picture hangers (the kind that are kind of like velcro) on each of the uprights and frame of the bookcase/headboard.

Command strips on the frame and supports

(Re)measured the distances between supports and attached Command strips to a length of wide gross grain ribbon at appropriate distances.

Test hanging of the ribbon to make sure the strips lined up

Then I basted the pillows to the ribbon.

Pillows on ribbon. The ties show that I dyed the pillows – but they can be tucked neatly away behind the ribbon

Basting up close

And attached the ribbon with the pillows on it to the headboard.

Pillows attached


It’s not a perfect setup – I think I may have to replace/reinstall Command strips, but it hides the clutter and gives me a spot to lean against.

And done!

Side view: the gap is closed

Full length

(Clutter can be accessed by lifting the pillows.)

Lastly a completely gratuitous beauty shot of my room. (If you look closely, you can see it was taken before I came up with the ribbon solution.)


*This would be where the trial and error really kicked in. I took me several tries to get the  smaller, 8″, shelves – first I bought some really overpriced picture ledges from Amazon, that turned out to be too shallow to be useful as shelves. Then when I went to buy more shelves at Ikea, I meant to buy a glass insert shelf just under 8″ wide (that Ikea apparently doesn’t sell anymore), but accidentally (because the stack was sitting over the label of the shelves I wanted to buy, and I stupidly didn’t check labels) bought the same shelf in just under 7″ wide.  So I gave up and bought two expensive (but not as overpriced as the ones from Home Depot) 8″ shelves on Amazon.

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Friday, 17 August, 2012 Quick Takes

7 5 Quick Takes Links


1. I don’t have much to say this week, so:

Here are some links to other people saying things. Or doing things. Or pictures. Or links to things that entertain me.

2. Things that entertain me: This is awesome.

3. Other people saying things/Pictures: My sister sent me this.

(Just for the record: I am all for fiscal responsibility and if I had paid a little more attention, I might even be able to agree/disagree with the Ryan budget. But I didn’t. So I don’t know. However, I think he’s rather attractive and wonder if he has brothers. Liking Ayn Rand is lame, though, even in one’s youth.)

4. Pictures: I saw it on Pinterest. Makes me laugh every time.

5. Other people saying things: I admit it; I liked Labyrinth as a ten-year-old. I know better than to try and re-watch it. I looove this blog.

6. Pictures: Where I would rather be:

Be still my heart!

(Mt. Diablo in the spring. )

7.  All. out. of. thoughts. Bye!


Actual Quick Takes to be found at Conversion Diary





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Friday 10 August, 2012 Quick Takes

1. So… I missed last week’s Quick Takes because I was in Minnesota for a friend’s wedding. I’m very happy for said friend who waited a long time for this. But I think I don’t know any single people any more!

2. A couple other things I’ve missed lately:

I totally have not been watching the Olympics – I don’t own a TV – but I’ve saw snippets here and there on the televisions in the hotel, so I know it’s happening. However, I saw this story before the Games began, and all I could think was: Is Darren Nichols directing the Opening Ceremony?

3. The Chic.k-fil-a flap: I think the initial outcry and media fuss over Dan Cathy’s interview was an example of media malfeasance – an attempt by members of the news media to promote secular fascism – deceptive and despicable. Really, there should be public outcry over that kind of behavior in the media. But as for the “buycott”… I just really don’t like Ch.ick-fil-a. It’s better than KF.C, but that’s like saying Velve.eta is better than spray “cheese” (shudder.)

4. Any brave people willing to share thoughts/experiences about spiritual direction? Pretty please!

5. Back around the March for Life, I was tempted by Twitter. I never really got into it. However, I am completely taken in by Pinterest. I’ll put up a button just as soon as I figure out how to do it.

6.  A friend sent me this last week. I have a strong preference for Mac (been a user since 5th grade/the era of 8″ floppy disks), but this is angering and horrifying. Also, I feel very justified in my attachment to internet anonymity.  No real names here!

7. About that garden/picture thing: I am discovering that I am too much of a perfectionist for “after” pictures! Must. weed. a. little. more.

Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary