Blossoms & Fruit

Not everyone loves to garden. It can be quite a bit of work and expense. I wasn’t always a gardener.

Then one day shortly after I became a Christian, I got it in my head to grow vegetables – tomatoes and green peppers to be exact. And I thought my Dad would be thrilled with fresh tomatoes. This year’s veggies aren’t ready to be photographed yet, so I’ll share my summer flowers as we go.

Threadleaf Coreopsis

There was a little piece of ground between the chimney and the slate walk that I thought was the perfect place. It was only about 3 1/2 ft. by 3 1/2 ft. So I started digging and turning and weeding and pretty soon I had a nice little spot amended with some sterilized chicken manure. It was cheap and it was manure….that’s how I picked it out. Real knowledgeable I was not – just cheap thrifty! 
Little did I know this was all God’s idea. 

As I prepared that little plot, I thought of my Mom and her love of gardening. Her favorite hymn was “In The Garden” and she loved gardening with a passion, especially flowers. As I hummed and sang quietly, I thought I heard a voice in my head. Must be the sun and heat. I shook my head and kept going. Then I heard the voice repeat…”You prepare the soil, place the plants and water. I will do the rest. I will bring a harvest.” Then I realized Who spoke to me and I just said, “Okay, I will.” Seriously, what did you say the first time the Lord spoke to you?! He made it very clear that He was the One to make things grow…I couldn’t make a seed sprout.

“Peace” Rose – Mom’s Favorite Rose

Off to the local plant nursery I went and came home with 2 cherry tomato, 2 Beefsteak tomato and  4 green bell pepper plants. I got them all situated in their new home and watered down.

Through the next few weeks I watered and kept watching them….grow….and grow….and grow.

Guess what? When all was ripe to pick, I couldn’t find enough people to give the extra away to! Dad couldn’t eat all of it and did I mention I don’t like fresh tomatoes? I only like to grow them. I had Beefsteak tomatoes that took both hands to hold! And who knew that cherry tomato vines could grow to 12 ft. and more long?! In mid-September I was still getting cherry tomatoes. The green peppers were huge! (Yes, I eat peppers.)

Hydrangea

Those plants were so tall and sturdy that my big 120 lb. dog made his way in sometime during the summer and lay in there for the coolness of the shade…and the plants still continued to grow and thrive.

What a real-life lesson from the Lord. No matter the situation or person, prepare the “soil” through prayer, “plant” a seed when the door is opened and “water” when needed with encouragement. Then see what fruit (or flower) the Lord brings! The Lord makes things so simple…we tend to make things so hard…. I guess because we’re masochists afraid something simple couldn’t be true.

This happened almost 30 years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday. And, go figure,  I have never been able to find sterilized chicken manure in our local plant nurseries since.

I’ll end with a few more current blossoms!   But before I do, look at this stunning bouquet of white roses my green-thumbed cousin grew and gave me! Thanks, Debi! I really want a cutting to root!

 God has the best imagination!
Oriental Lily





Sunrise or Sunset?
Garden Phlox





Raspberry Eyes!



Knockout Rose






Can we say “Neon”?!








Bee Balm (Dwarf)





Little Pink Feather Dusters!







Stella d’Oro Daylily


So what are you growing?
Veggies? Flowers? Fruit? 
Whatever you grow,
prepare, plant, water and enjoy!

Transformations

What a beautiful afternoon finally! Hope you all had a chance to get out and soak in some sun today after all the rain. What a great afternoon to be out in the gardens! 

Some of you don’t know the history of my house so the quick version is:  I and my son worked with Habitat for Humanity to build our home and we love it!  God took my dream of owning my own home as a single mom and being done with landlords and apartment life and made it a reality in August 2005.  My son and I moved in July 2006 and it’s never ceased to amaze me how blessed we are. Oh, yes, there’s lots of stories to go with that year of building! So much laughter! So many aches!

Six years later I’ve finally accepted that some items just aren’t “me”… like the wineberry colored shutters and storm door…the “builder beige” walls…the builder grade oak kitchen cabinets.. the outside brass lights.  Do you see a list of projects forming? Trust me, it keeps getting longer and longer including both inside & outside projects to inject this house with my style…to make it mine. Part of the reason things are finally getting done is that it took me a very long time to lose my “apartment mentality” where one can do little, if anything, to personalize an apartment and what you can do, you still need permission for, etc. Seriously, when trying to decide where to dig holes for some shrubs the first year in our home (and the second), my son finally had had enough (especially since he was doing the big digging) and said,”Mom, we own this house. Nobody is going to get mad if there’s a hole with nothing in it.  We own it. It’s okay!”  I almost cried.  He’d hit the nail on the head. Bam! Bullseye! It was one of those instant, recognized by my heart truths! Sometimes he’s really good at that.

All that to let you know the shutters have been painted & reinstalled! Woohoo!  They are DONE! Here’s a before and after.

“The Wineberry Collection”
Not bad looking by any means.
Just not “me”!

“The Wrought Iron Collection”
What can I say? 
I just roll slightly more  traditional .
Though not a difficult project, it had it’s frustrating moments! By the way, be sure to kill and demolish any bees’ nests that are in back of your shutters before you take them down. Yes, I actually remembered to do this!  
New style shutter locks have to be cut off meaning I had to buy new ones at 12/bag for $5 and change (needed 24) or buy stainless steel 1/4″ diameter, 3″ screws and washers for well over $20 and then paint them to match. Shutter locks appear to be big plastic screws…with no place to use a screwdriver to unscrew them! Yeah, I went with replacement shutter locks. 
Remains of Shutter Lock after 1st cut
to get the shutters down.
Label, Label, Label – Label each shutter on the back as you take it down so you’ll know what window and what side of that window it belongs to. I didn’t and it wasn’t pretty….trust me on this, just label ’em! Use sharp clippers – I used my garden clippers! Hey, it worked well!
Playing Taps – Next up, cut the remaining parts of the shutter locks as close to the house as possible.  Then take a Phillips head screwdriver and a hammer and tap (as hard as necessary) through the existing holes to create a “new” hole as far as you can. The remainder of the shutter lock will either fall in back of the wall or your screwdriver will just go right through it.
Now the fun part!  Get out the Power Drill!  I love power tools! Put in a 1/4″ drill bit suitable for whatever material you’re drilling through and drill in 3 inches through the existing holes.  Don’t skip “Playing Taps” because I found it really difficult when I tried to just drill through an “untapped” shutter lock. Each of my shutters had 6 shutter locks so I happily moved the ladder, climbed up, drilled, climbed down… repeat multiple times.  Then take a piece of duct tape and tape over the finished holes to prevent water or bugs getting in. This tape will remain on the front of your house for at least 7 days so go ahead and use whatever color you want! Regardless of the color tape, your home is going to look strange for a week, so have fun with it!
Wash, Dry, Rinse, Dry – Yep, hose down those shutters, wash with mild soap, rinse and dry. Then wipe down with mineral spirits and let dry. Doesn’t take very long, but I had time so I let them sit overnight.
Krylon Fusion Rocks!
Transformations – I used Krylon Fusion for plastic, plain black with a satin finish and followed the directions.  It’s indoor/outdoor paint as well. Since I have to do all painting in my basement, the bulkhead was kept open with a fan sucking the fumes out and I wore a mask.  To keep the paint off my fingers, I used rubber gloves as well.
Closest to front not painted yet.
Sorry…bad basement photo.
You don’t have to & shouldn’t do a super thick coat. A couple of thin coats and you can always touch up missed spots after.  Just do it evenly and you’ll be fine. The Krylon Fusion provided wonderful coverage and I only did one side of the shutters & the edges – from both top to bottom and bottom to top since they are louvered. I used less than 2 cans and had great coverage!
Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock – Krylon recommends allowing the painted items to cure for 7 days in a protected area (my basement) in order to become chip proof. Due to life in general, mine sat for about 2 weeks before I reinstalled. Seriously? Chip proof? I figured I’d just stick to the directions even though I was very skeptical of the whole “chip proof” claim..
Puzzle Pieces – Or if you were wise enough to label the shutters, call it reinstalling.  Getting mine back up required a friend’s help (Thanks, Deez!) to see what holes lined up with what shutter.  It took about an hour to figure this out!  Repeat, label the shutters as you take them down! Once we had them sorted out, it was up and down the ladder many more times, but at least I was pounding in those new shutter locks!  And remember, once you set them they do not come out without cutting. So line ’em up right the first time! Voila! New sideburns for your windows!
Chipped or Not? – Krylon Fusion was true to their advertising.  I used a regular hammer rather than my rubber mallet which I could not find and NOT.ONE.CHIP.  Fantastic! So far, quite frankly, Krylon has really lived up to their claims and certainly exceeded my expectations! The test is still to see how they weather the summer and winter.  We’ll know in Spring 2013!
What do you think?  Big difference or not?  Like or not? I now wish I’d put Old Glory up for the pic to show the contrast. Now I kind of want shutters on the two side windows, but I think I’ll buy them already black…really…unless I find some free ones on Craigslist!

Next up is painting the storm door black (still researching process for this – will probably visit Sherwin Williams for advice) and then the part I’ve been waiting for – color on the inside front door that faces out! Some of you know what color I’m currently loving, but those of you who don’t, I’d like to hear what color you would choose! 

As I’m new to DIYing, this “small” project gave me just enough frustration and things to figure out without sending me to the phonebook to call a “professional” or my cousin.  Little by little, adding confidence and taking on “beginner” projects versus jumping in and deciding to, I don’t know, pave the driveway or add dormers (dream), is a lesson in restraint for me as well as patience.  And now I know why I really need a shed – up and down those basement stairs getting tools….I didn’t throw anything even once. I didn’t. But I sighed a lot.

 Since it’ll be a bit before I attack paint the storm door, posts may be about odd/not odd and hot topic or sundry things I think about! Hope to see you around! Until then….

Ciao!

Let There Be (New) Lights

Did you ever get so fed up with something that you just jumped right in to change it….without reading ALL the directions and getting uber informed? 

Errr…uhm…I may be just a teeny bit guilty of this.  The shiny brass lights on my home just weren’t so shiny anymore and after reading blog after blog about how easy it would be to paint them, I just jumped right in!  Armed with sandpaper, primer and paint I was all set…right?  Not so.  There’s this little item of latex paint/primer and oil paint/primer and the little slice of information about not being able to use one of each on the same project.  Somehow I missed that.

 The first attempt started out well. Clearcoat sanded off – check! Primer on – check!  Then I painted and it all bubbled up. This is happening 4 days before I’m leaving the state for a vacation no less. Now I had to strip it all off…all those little tiny pieces because rather than just tape off the glass, I had to be a perfectionist.  Yes, we took the lights apart…sigh…and didn’t take pictures. So off it all came.  Tried priming and painting again because I figured all the clearcoat hadn’t been removed.  Guess what?  Yeah, had to strip them again!  Ack! “Think! Think!” My neighbor mentioned the oil versus latex dilemma.  Ah HAH!

A quick run to Walmart. Thank God for Krylon products. I picked up indoor/outdoor primer, paint and clearcoat. Additionally, thanks to my friend, Linda, I had some deglosser ( this stuff will always be on hand now). And then it was time for me to visit sunny Florida. I so appreciate my friend, Darlene, who decided to stay in town and house & cat sit for me. Her quick week in Connecticut turned into 2 weeks. She took on the task of applying the deglosser, painting (no primer needed with the deglosser) & clearcoating while I was gone and when I returned?  Perfection!  Well, at least the painted job!.

Now we just had to reassemble the lights. Again, Darlene to the rescue.  We went to my neighbor’s house and took pics of her lights in the pouring rain, came back and an hour or two later we had them all put back together.

The following day, we shut off the main breaker (I have a rule about no blood, no police, no ambulances, no firetrucks at my house – came into law after the one & only ambulance ride with my son).  Oh my gosh, I’m in love with them! They no longer blend in and no more tarnish. Over a month later, we’ve had a mini-heat wave and crazy amounts of rain. So far they’re still holding up! Sure, someday I’ll change them to something I really love, but that’s not high on the priority list now.

I thank God for that little rebellious streak in me that allows me to just jump in even when I don’t have all the info I need even when I think I do.  He supplies everything I need…like truly wonderful friends who’ll jump in with me and just shake their heads at me thinking, “Here we go again!”
Now for the “Wineberry” shutters and storm door! (And Krylon has a product called Plastic Fusion!)