Bunny Hop(es)

Eat as much of the lawn as you want. 🙂

I told you that this year has seen an abundance of bunnies. I opened the front door the other morning and saw this furry hopper on the lawn, nibbling something. I’m fine with bunnies nibbling the lawn. I don’t care about the grass, I’m trying to make that area clover and violets and whatever else makes creatures and pollinators happy.

Eyeing the unprotected flower bed

But when the bunny went to check out the bed where I planned to put the zinnias and cosmos, I knew I had to take action. There are several other things coming up there as well but I have no idea what they are. I’m waiting to see if they flower and if I like them. 🙂 In order to give everyone a chance to grow and make a case for remaining, I netted that area as well. I know I’ll have stopped the deer with this net – sides and top. I think I may have thwarted bunny hopes as well by anchoring the bottom. Only time will tell.

Can you see the deer netting? I hope it thwarts the ground nibblers as well. It covers all sides and the top.

Bathroom Fashionista

Japanese Bird’s Nest fern living happily on the window sill of the new shower

Hah!!! We began designing the new bathroom and 2nd floor renovation over a YEAR ago. This past weekend the WSJ had an article on 2023’s Best Bathroom Design Trends. We did nearly every one of them. 🙂 Who KNEW I was such a trend-setter???? Although I have a lot of photos here of the completed new bathroom, some of the photos from last year’s post show things such as the mirror and teak stool much better. That post also has a detailed description of the shower unit.

I found the metal leaves out in Arizona at a wine & art festival. The mirror has been a big hit with folks as well. You can see the lights over the sink reflected in the shower doors. 🙂

We couldn’t find bathroom tile that we liked that had the necessary attributes for the job. I spent a lot of time in the tile store trying to find something. One day I started mixing and matching colors. Jeanne – the “tile lady” – liked what I was doing. 🙂 As we talked we pulled out the very expensive little tiles that I loved. We started popping them in among the larger tiles as accents. Ultimately that was the decision: 3 different colored large tiles from the same product line and 5 different colored accent tiles from a common product line. My husband and I decided that WE would lay out the tiles – it would be our art project, our own creativity. As it evolved from design to completion I began to think of it as our forest glen retreat – a green oasis that allowed you to step out of the everyday world and into serenity.

the engineer marking out the shower window

It’s not so easy to build 3 walls of tile when you don’t have walls. We had someone build us 3 wooden panels the size of the 3 walls. We put the panels in the driveway and began laying tiles randomly. Random is the key word here. We agreed that we did NOT want a pattern. Obviously the same color would touch vertically but the rule was the same color could not touch horizontally. It took hours. It was fun but exhausting and many times I thought we were idiots for taking this approach. My husband went first, doing the first pass of color selection and layout. I went next, doing some minor tweaks. He reviewed my tweaks. We both called it quits after several hours and very sore backs and knees.

All set to begin working – you can see the different colors. The little tiles are crackle glaze.

We completed the walls approximately 2 weeks before they’d be placed inside. We needed to cover them and protect them from the rain. Obviously the tiles could take the water, but we weren’t sure what would happen to the organization or the wood panels if it rained very hard.

Next came the effort to move what we had done in the driveway to the 2nd floor so the tiler could use them. We took numerous photos to help explain our vision. Then we flipped the tiles over in the wooden frames and labeled each one: Left wall, row 1, tile 1. All the way through the last wall, last tile. It was cold and damp and I ran through 5 Sharpie markers. I marked, my husband boxed and we got it all done. So very happy we have a hot tub for days like the tile project.

Notice the disaster that is our garage, the heater trying to keep me from freezing

The boxes were upstairs, the tiler came. He looked at all our work and the tiles. He pointed out that the saddle for the shower was cracked – we could not use it. I had to call the tile store, ask if they had any in stock, and run over and buy another $400+ saddle and bring it home. He did the floor and the sink backsplash. The next day was Yom Kippur. I needed to be at services by 9:30. Mirek looked at our carefully arranged boxes and said that it was lovely but that is not how tile gets laid. You don’t start at the top and work down or start at the bottom and go up. You start about 5-6 rows from the bottom and ensure that the rows are even. That way if the walls are uneven, the tiles are all even because he trims the top and bottom rows as needed. So all the boxing was nice, but not exactly as it is done. By the way – ‘our’ tiler is an artist, a genius, and an all-around nice person. He could have looked at what we wanted and been obstructive and nasty. Instead Mirek embraced our concept, made suggestions, and help make it not only happen but happen beautifully. Anyway it’s 7:30 am and he pointed out that we were short 5 rows on every wall – we had not spaced them close enough together. I needed another 100 or so tiles to build 5 more rows on every wall. I did not have 100 tiles. On the other hand, he said, I’d put one too many on each row. Why? Because when we laid it out we used a whole tile to indicate where a part of a tile needed to be cut and fitted. This is where his generosity and genius shone brightly. I went through each of the boxes, pulled each row, removed the last tile from each row. Then I took all the extracted tiles and built 5 more rows for each floor. Yes, I was a little late for services. 🙂 But Mirek understood the concept of “no horizontal touching” and I left him to do what needed to be done. You can see that he did wonderfully.

Tough to get a whole room shot that also shows my gecko/lizard

The other 2 “Mirek” touches had to do with the broken saddle and tiling the recess. I’d never thought about the recess nor about the flat service of the window. He suggested using the leftover floor tile for the recess and the broken saddle for the flat areas of the window and the recess. Absolutely perfect and lovely. What does the WSJ article say about tile for 2023? “Demand is bubbling up for ceramics in rich, dramatic colors. Klarna, a buy-now-pay-later shopping app, reports that, year over year, online purchases of blue tiles rocketed by 5,195% and black tiles by 1,594%. Green tiles saw a more modest 40% increase the first quarter of this year. Particularly in favor: the rough and shiny texture, irregular shape and colors of zellige tile, original to Morocco.” Way ahead of you, folks. *grin* They also talked about natural woods and how “swaths of smooth tile” are out.

So that was the new bathroom, the forest glen oasis. The original bathroom was completely redone. I’m afraid that I “broke” some of the WSJ’s designers’ “rules”. Even so a lot of it complies. I thought of this bathroom as my “beach escape”. While the forest glen bathroom – which is my husband’s bathroom – has an incredibly expensive shower unit with 4 wall jets, as well as an overhead rain, and a hand-held spray, the beach bathroom was going to be more “mine”. I had everyone build everything to MY height. I’m 5′ and he’s 6′ and I was tired of standing on the rim of the tub to reach the shower head. 🙂 Many people look at the height of the shower head and think it’s too low. NO IT’S NOT. When I was designing this one Jeanne (the tile lady, remember?) described this bathroom as the “childrens’ bathroom”. *laughing* It’s for people who are NOT over 6′ tall. But because the hand-held spray is on a pole and can move up and down guess what – tall people can use it too. The feature that got most of my female friends excited was the mirror/cabinet. There are 2 embedded LED strips in the mirror – tap to turn on. There are 3 separate light settings that could mimic different lighting situations.

No gecko here, but fish. 🙂 The PVC is covering the stack, which could only have been removed if we ripped open the kitchen walls as well. Not happening. So fish stenciled onto the stack (same color as the walls) and one school of fish on the shower ceiling. Seashell curtain hooks. 1/4 of the tiles are etched. I left it to Mirek to make it look good, and of course since he did it the walls are perfect.

Both bathrooms have bidets. Those toilets can do everything but wash the floor. Heated seats, separate saved profile settings, night lights, soft-close lids (no slammed toilet seats). I love the bathrooms. While the truth is that we have probably both needed the bathroom/showers at the same moment fewer than 10 times since they’ve been done, those few times have been wonderful. And I LOVE not sharing a bathroom. You can think of that what you will. 🙂

Check out my super-cool mirror with the embedded LED lighting – 3 different settings for different room lighting

Retirement = Reading

Yay for public libraries! Bigger YAY for libraries that are all hooked together. Since I’ve retired I must be at the library at least once a week. I’ve begun reducing the backlog of missed books from series/authors I follow. I read fast but I also read very carelessly, I confess. There are some authors where I savor every word they write. Most other authors I find I’m reading for the action, and don’t really care about the scenery details. 🙂 I like the verbs.

One of the drawbacks to reading real paper-bound books is that I have been ignoring most of my emails about Kindle and Kindle Unlimited offerings. That’s a shame because I’ve encountered a lot of new authors that way. I’ve mentioned before about “discovering” Vaseem Khan from being offered Midnight at Malabar House. From that series I’ve moved to his Baby Ganesh books and I’m waiting for the 4th Malabar book this summer – Death of a Lesser God.

I also “discovered” Antti Tuomainen. I was offered his “The Man Who Died” either via Kindle Unlimited or a very low daily kindle special. I really enjoyed it! The description was intriguing enough to snare me. I often think I don’t have a very good sense of humor. I sometimes miss completely that something is supposed to be amusing. 🙂 I have a favorite mystery author who wrote a stand-alone mystery. I was half-way through the book before I realized it was meant to be humorous and that’s why the antics and reactions were so inane. 🙂 I was expecting it to be in the same mode as the series. So I was grateful that the description of The Man Who Died informed me that it was “darkly tinged humor”. It was and I really enjoyed it. Next I tried Little Siberia but while I saw the humor it didn’t resonate as much with me. I’ve just finished The Rabbit Factor and LOVED it. I loved it so much I started quoting parts of it to a friend who was over for dinner. 🙂 I’m hunting down the next one – The Moose Paradox. My library doesn’t have it, doesn’t show it at any of the associated libraries so I’m going to try for the digital version next. 🙂 Definitely darkly tinged humor but more humor than dark in my opinion. Definitely a fun read.

For the Food Folks

As my recent posts indicate I am spending all MY time in the garden. That not only produces flowers for admiring, herbs for cooking but a hungry gardener as well. Of course being exhausted from laboring in the fields, I’m not up for much cooking. Good thing my husband is around. Here’s another concoction of his, feeding his starving wife. Chicken with onions, brussels sprouts, pasta and I think this one had a Thai sauce. 🙂 Yum. Or why I don’t lose weight.

How Plants Grow

orange avens

I was totally flabbergasted this week by an article in my news feeds. It was a picture of the base/root of a romaine lettuce plant sitting in water, growing new leaves!! The article pointed out that you can keep growing the lettuce this way. I had never seen this nor even imagined it. I was astounded. You know that of COURSE I had to try it myself. Wow. It’s really happening! I was so excited about this and told my son and he was all “oh yeah, I know that”. HOW did he know that???? He doesn’t even eat lettuce, does he???? 🙂 (yeah, he does)

growing romaine – represents 6 days growth

I showed you pictures of my grow-from-seed attempts. I moved them outside about a week ago. Since my husband and I had built the raised bed, I had a perfect place to store them until I was ready to start planting. The sunflowers, tithonia, cosmos and zinnias are doing well and I planted them in some of the pots and directly in the ground. We’ll see how they do but they seemed to be holding their own at last look. The herbs are somewhat “meh”. I don’t expect much from them. I had orange tassel seeds (expensive little things) and they also seem to be struggling now that they are in a pot. I’m waiting for some anise hyssop to arrive before I plant the rest of the zinnias and cosmos in the bed between the sidewalk and the street. I don’t want to have to avoid stepping on them when I get in there to plant the hyssop.

you can tell my seedlings in the cups. the other healthy looking things are tomatoes & herbs from a nursery. 🙂

I love how the ferns coming up along the garage in the back of the house look like little aliens. 🙂 The little curled buds look nothing like the fronds they’ll become.

aliens masquerading as ferns?

I actually planted 2 orange avens plants in the front last year. I think one got “eaten” by the weeds but one of them fought it’s way out of the greenery and is blooming. And I had absolutely NO recollection of having this gorgeous purple iris. What a happy surprise!!!

Ahuva Net 3.0

The battle of wits between gardeners and deer continues this year unabated. Since the local towns continue to develop every square inch of land, the deer have no choice but to wander through town, foraging. Something needs to be done to control the deer population. In many respects I’d prefer that the towns stop developing all the land. Since that development does often help lower my property taxes I admit to a little support for the concept. But I was born and raised here and am astounded at how brazen the wildlife has become, been forced to become. This year we are all commenting on the huge increase in rabbits. I can only defend my property against the deer. They are big and easier to block. I concede the ground routes to the rabbits, ground hogs, possums, raccoons and whatever else figures out the back way to my garden. My most sincere apologies to my neighboring cat because her catnip has ended up behind the net. I hope she figures out she can get to it the long way around.

I am, however, holding my own against the deer. Last year, Ahuva Net 2.0, saw me purchase deer netting (Vigaro Deer Block, 7 ft x 100 ft) and bamboo poles. It worked, but the way I set it up also kept ME from getting to the plants. 🙂 This year I resolved to tackle that issue. I also didn’t like the way I attached the netting – I threaded the poles through the nets. That was tricky. I decided to switch to 6′ tall plastic stakes for securing the net in front of the in-ground front bed. I decided to start there and see how it worked out before trying to protect the planters along the front walk.

The plastic stakes were much sturdier than the bamboo which made getting them into the ground securely simpler as well. Last year I put up one continuous wall of netting. This year I planned to cut the netting into segments, defined by the plastic stakes. I taped the netting to one pole securely (Gorilla water-proof tape). I cut the segment to slightly overlap the next pole and then used binder clips to attach that side to the pole. *laughing* Hey, I have a TON of binder clips and they were the right size and handy. I wasn’t sure it was even going to work so I didn’t want to go buy some other kind of clip while I was still in “beta” mode. Because I was doing it in segments I could follow the outline of the garden more closely than I could last year. It also enabled me to wrap around the side and then put a segment blocking side access to the front. Dealing with the netting is truly annoying. It catches on everything, I’m short and trying to get it high enough is difficult, and it was in many ways very frustrating. Ultimately however it worked, it is working and it’s doing exactly what I hoped. Nothing in that front garden has been munched or chomped. Several times now I have unclipped a segment to add plants (my seedlings) and to do a little cleanup. It took several hours to get that front ‘wall’ built but hey – I’m retired now. *grin* I HAVE several hours. I confess that even though I went slowly and rested, it was exhausting.

this picture is before I reorganized the pots and netted the herbs & tomatos

Protecting the big planters I use to line my walk needed a different approach. They need protection front, back and from the top. Originally I thought I’d drive the supporting posts into my lawn and drape the netting from there. I realized almost immediately that it would work better if the posts were in the pots themselves. The pots are large and deep, so there was sufficient depth. It was difficult to drive the posts into the lawn in that area, and they were much lower if they were in the lawn than if they were in the pots. In the past I’ve put all those pots on rolling bases so that I could move them easily to get to the lawn or rearrange them. I decided that this year I was going to eliminate the bases and put the pots directly on the walk. That actually made them easier to manage, not more difficult. The next issue was how to cover the top and the side.

front net up, sidewalk pots not yet planted or netted. so netting those pots necessitated planting them first. then as soon as they were planted I had to get the net up to protect them. Again – an entire day’s work

I’d get a straight side of netting down the “back” along the lawn, but the “front” along the walk needed to have some way to keep the net off the plants. Measuring from one side of the pots up, over and down the other side was roughly 13′. The netting is only 7′. I rotated my approach. I ended up with 3 13′ segments of netting, overlapping so that nothing could get between the ‘joins’ of the segments. I anchored them with garden staples. I couldn’t manage the net segments by myself. 😦 I’m too short and they catch too much. My husband came out to help me drape the net. Working together we figured out the best way to keep the netting from tangling. He’s tall enough with a sufficient arm span that he could spread the net wide across the plants. Once the segments were spread I could anchor them with binder clips and garden stakes. The garden stakes drive the net down to the soil of the pots while the clips are holding it to the poles and to the rims of the pots. It seems to be doing what I expected and I am able to detach it to get underneath to pull weeds. I regret that the plants are not accessible to flying creatures, but unless and until I figure out how to build a side wall along the walk, the only way to keep the deer out is a top net.

I finished up by rearranging all my herbs and vegetables. I have a small section of tomato plants and herbs protected by the netting. It starts at the last pole of the front garden and is in segments, with the supports again in the pots. There is a break between this section and the pots along the walk so that I can cut through with the hose. Since I only need to protect one side I don’t need to drape the top and I get the full 7′ height. I moved my most aromatic herbs in front of the porch beds: lemon balm, rosemary, oregano, sage and chives. The word is that deer don’t like plants with strong odors. My personal belief is that the deer are going to eat whatever they can find because they are hungry. For the time being those plants are NOT netted, but the arrangement is such that if I’m forced to protect them I can put up more netting.

if you look at the bottom of the pots, you can see how the net does really disappear. The tarragon to the left is not netted because nothing has been eating it and it’s another supposedly “too smelly for deer”. The break in the netting is between the square pot and the 2 round ones. I’ve been able to put a mandevilla and a hibiscus (not in these pictures) in the front garden because the deer can’t get to them now. I picture them with their noses pressed to the netting gazing longingly at the tropicals. 🙂 HAH!

I really like this approach – the Vigoro deer block – because it does NOT block the view of the flowers. I was amused while I was putting it up by the folks who came by and commented on my activity. Most of them did not realize that the netting was already up in front of the front bed. I’d point out to them that they didn’t notice the net because they could see the plants so easily – our eyes just discount the netting they way they discount the screen when we look out a window. I do think that the netting along the front walk is more noticeable (since it’s front, back and top) but I’m hopeful that once the flowers are in full bloom that is what gets noticed. I must have shown the Vigoro package to 4 or 5 passerbys who all got excited about this method to protect THEIR plants. 🙂 Deer Wars. 🙂

Alium, clematis, choreopsis, lemon balm, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives

Pizza or Flatbread?

I LOVE that my husband enjoys cooking and creating interesting meals for us. I like to bake, and can turn out a pretty decent bread in 90 minutes, but I’m rarely inspired to cook. He, on the other hand, loves to create. The other night he asked if I was okay with a flatbread for dinner. Okay? Oh Em Gee, Babe, I’m okay with whatever as long as I’m not cooking. 🙂 When he pulled it out of the oven he called it a pizza. 🙂 I don’t care what we call it – it was DELICIOUS. I asked him how he made it but of course I glazed over as soon as he went into the details. What I DO remember: He pureed broccoli and brussels sprouts with coconut milk. He makes his own crusts. He sliced mushrooms and let them sit in the puree until it was assembly time. The layers are something like this – crust, puree, something else????, a layer of cheddar cheese slices, puree, mushrooms, layer of gouda slices. I’m fairly certain I’m missing something (I know there are onions but I’m not sure at which stage they were added) but that’s good enough to explain the photos. 🙂 We had just over half the first night, and the remainder the next night, with his left-over crust-less quiche. 🙂 Ahh, life is good.