Farmer Jess

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I absolutely love to garden. I started my own garden with my dad’s help my junior year of college in the front yard of our rental home and I’ve been hooked ever since. My friends and family know how much I love it. My neighbors even call me Farmer Jess! Did I mentioned that my maiden name means “farmer” in German!?

This weekend was pretty much non-stop yard work and gardening. Brian and I started to tackle a huge project behind our fence, removing all of the branches, bushes, leave, etc., that we’d thrown back there the past two years and shredding it all in the wood chipper. We spent Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon and are about 2/3 the way complete. It looks so much better and our neighbors behind us even came out to say thank you and to introduce themselves! I found three snakes, all of which I tried to save from accidentally being raked and wood chipped :-/ But who cares anymore about yard work!  I want to talk about my garden!!!!!

I went to Home Depot after Easter brunch yesterday and picked up some perennials for our front yard. I also got some pink begonias for the front of the house. But most important, I bought veggies, and lots of them.

In my excitement to start my vegetable garden I didn’t think too much about quantity… so I went overboard just a little. I bought 18 heads of romaine, 18 heads of spinach and 18 heads of butter crunch lettuce. Holy smokes, that is A LOT of lettuce.

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We are gonna be eating a lot of salads this summer.

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I also planted a ton of red and white onions! I’ve never planted onions before, so we’ll see how they do. I’m intrigued to find out just how you know when an onion is ready to be picked since they grow underground.

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The hubby is excited about the onions — OK, he isn’t actually excited because gardening isn’t his thing at all (although he does like to harvest with me. Of course, the most fun part!), but he does loves onions.

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I doubled my gates around the beds with onions because my evil dog loves to 1. be in places he is not allowed to be, 2. dig — but only in dirt, not in grass, 3. be an all-around jerk in his yard. And onions are really bad for dogs. He was only interested in my garden last year when I was inside it and he was on the other side of the fence, so here’s hoping with two fences and no people inside them, he leaves the garden beds alone. I’ll have to do some onion monitoring this week to make sure he’s not sneaking in when we aren’t looking.

The last thing I planted so far was herbs! I planted oregano, tarragon, sweet basil, sweet mint and rosemary. I bought some hanging planters on clearance last year from Target, so I planted my herbs, then hung each planter on the fence. I love how this looks!

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I planted the basil with the lettuce since I plan on getting more of it later in the season.

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I am pretty pumped that I already have a ton of stuff planted and that I used a bed I didn’t use last year and the space where an old stump used to be, so I’m hardly in any of the prime tomato panting territory! Woo! I’ll definitely be expanding my beds in the corner of my yard this year, too… when the time comes. My strawberries seem to be coming to life again, and the blueberry and raspberry bushes I planted last year… well, who knows how they did this winter. Yikes.

My last exciting garden news, and wow you will all think I am a huge dork, is that my asparagus that I planted two years ago sprouted!!!!! AHHHHH I was so excited I ran to find Brian to tell him. And then I called my dad :) The funny thing is, there’s just one! I don’t know if more will grow or not… but either way, I love my single asparagus and it is going to be deliciousssss.

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Anyone start their garden yet? If you did, what are you planting? I am thinking about planting broccoli in a planter on my deck this year. It always gets eaten in my garden, so if I don’t do a planter, I don’t want to plant it again. Too many worms.

As for the rest of my garden, I’m thinking TONS of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash/zucchini, and lots of peppers. Now peppers — Brian is excited for those. Hopefully this year he isn’t foolish enough to bite into a cayenne pepper, seeds and all. Ouch.

Happy Easter!

Hope you guys are having a great weekend and a wonderful Easter.

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I had to share this picture I just got from my stepmom. It’s of our family dog Juno, who eats EVERYTHING. I mean everything. She are the leftover turkey at Christmas, and it looks like this year she ate nine hard boiled eggs… Including the shell.

At least she is adorable.

It’s good to be outside again

I’ve been spending so much time outside lately and it is just lovely. The hubby and I have been working hard to get our yard in shape for spring. It’s been a challenge for a lot of reasons. First, BGE destroyed a part of our yard fixing a leak in our gas pipe. And then there’s the added challenge of the 8-foot-wide circle in the yard where a well used to be. Oh, and out of pure laziness, we didn’t rake the leaves well this past fall. So we’ve had lots to take care of.

We spent last weekend tackling the front yard and my garden area.

First, I cleared out backs and bags of leaves, weeds and general crap that had accumulated in my garden area from last year. When I had filled several yard waste bags and was ready to call it quits, I was instead inspired to attempt to remove the stump from my garden. We’d cut down the small tree in my garden last year and gotten the stump as small as we could, but it has always driven me nuts that I was losing that space where I could be growing more tomatoes!

After an hour and a half of hard work (digging, pick-axing, kicking, prodding, etc.), Brian and I actually got the stump out! I joked that we should start our own stump removal company. Yeah, right.

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See? No more stump! I just gained an extra 4 feet in my garden!

Once we were done with this, we filled in the hole with dirt and I promptly fenced off the garden from my evil dog. Remmy isn’t a huge digger, but he can’t resist large spans of dirt.

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There are still a few sections in my smaller gardens that I need to work on, but I am so happy to have this part complete!

The next day we started on our front yard. We decided it was a great idea to hand till up the circle where the well used to be. Two hours, eight yard waste bags and two sore backs later, we finished. Then Brian bought top soil and planted grass seed in the circle and in the patches of soil where BGE left its mark. They said they’d come out and fix the lawn, but at this rate it will be winter again before they come back out.

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I must just have that itch to be outside and do yard work, so I figured I’d take advantage of myself and this sudden inspiration to improve our yard. Last night I spent two hours raking our old leaves and clearing out large branches from the back of our yard.

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I raked everything behind our shed so it can compost down over time. Our yard looks infinitely better and my wrists are infinitely more sore. Ugh.

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It was worth it though. The yard still has a way to go and we still need to figure out what we are doing with some parts, but it has sure come a long way in just a week.

What lawn projects have you guys tackled this spring? Each year I get more and more into gardening. Who knows what else we’ll tackle this weekend!

Best weekends ever

These past two weekends have been superbly awesome. I’ll have to take a few pictures tonight of all of our hard work this weekend in the yard, so no spoiler alerts in this post about what we’ve been working on.

I should have already blogged about the weekend before, but since I am practically dying to get outside any chance I have, I haven’t been sitting behind my computer too often unless I’m at work. Anyway, last weekend I went on a treasure hunt with one of my best friends and her daughter. Amy, Catherine and I (or as I fondly call them, My Number 1 Boo and My Number 1 Boo Jr.) headed out early Saturday morning to hit up a barn yard sale in West River, Md. We got to hunt through an old barn and see what treasures we could find. I walked away with an old grain bin and Amy got a silver ship’s bell.

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After we raided the barn, we drove to Galesville, Md. to visit both Salvage Chic  and Re-Find. Both are cute stores selling refinished furniture and all sorts of other goodies. I cannot wait to go back!

Our final stop of the day was an awesome antiques and vintage store in Lothian, Md., called GypsyFaire. They had the coolest stuff! I got birthday gifts for my sister and neighbor and Amy bought the cutest mint green birdhouse as a bridal shower gift.

We pretty much spent the entire morning in the boonies. But it was SO MUCH FUN!!! These stores are only open on certain weekends of the year, so next time they are open we will definitely be making another day of it — especially if it means I get to hang out with this little one again.

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She was so good all day :)

I cannot recommend visiting these shops enough if you ever have the chance. Talk about a neat and fun experience.

Amazing photos, amazing coworkers

It pays to know a professional photographer.

I’ve talked about my coworker and friend Tony Richards before on the blog. He’s our department’s kick ass photographer.

It’s not often that I am the subject of Tony’s photo shoot. If I’m involved at all, I play the role of photographer’s assistant (i.e. the person Tony gets to boss around). Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in a shoot as the subject! The result was too fun not to share.

Enter the most BAD ASS picture you’ll ever see of me (or possibly another human being) in your life:

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OK, how cool is that!?! My whole team — we’re the creative department – recently just did a quirky photo shoot so we could have fun photos for our website. Of course, my prop was a hammer :) That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

And if my badass picture wasn’t cool enough, I had to share these photos, too.

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Chris (the guy I’m knocking out) and I were helping Tony set up for a boxing-themed shoot. I often step in as the “model” to help Tony get his lighting just right. Since we were both around, we put on the gloves and put on a pretty good show.

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I won :)

Like I said, it pays to have an awesome photographer as your work buddy. Mad props (I know no one says that anymore) to Tony and his awesome photography skills. You are crazy not to peek at his website: http://tonyrichardsphoto.com/

Speaking of work, the magazine that Tony and I work on together came out earlier in the week :) We took the lead on this issue, which was a crazy, stressful and awesome experience all at the same time. I am so happy that it is out and looking pretty!

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Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekends. I plan to finally get outside and work on a few furniture projects. Woohoo!

Floral centerpiece

Flowers on crate

The hubby gave me beautiful pink flowers recently that I happily placed on our crate coffee table in our family room. Now I am not a pink girl — not in the least bit. But the pop of pink against our gray walls and surrounded by the cool colors I tend to prefer, well, it just worked!

Once the flowers died I knew that I wanted to make a flower centerpiece for that room using the pinks that looked so great.

So this past weekend I spent and hour — AN HOUR — in Michaels flower section picking out just the right flowers. I am really picky when it comes to fake flowers. If they are trying to look real, but are so obviously fake, then I don’t want anything to do with them. So that leaves me with flowers that are pretty but obviously not real and then the really good imitation (read: really expensive) flowers.

For this arrangement, I opted for the most realistic flowers I could find. Thankfully the flowers were 40% off and I had a 20% off coupon, or my centerpiece would have cost $75 just for the flowers! Um, no thanks!

After carefully selecting the flowers I wanted and some floral foam, I rushed home to create my work of art. I used a gorgeous vase I bought last summer in Lancaster, Penn. When I saw the vase I knew I had to have it, even if I didn’t have an immediate use for it. I thought maybe I’d use it to hold kitchen utensils, but it didn’t looks so great with my green walls. So it’s been sitting in my basement for 8 months begging to be used.

I cut the floral foam to fit into the bottom of the vase, then started cutting the fake flowers to length and sticking them into the foam. After several different arrangements, I had something I was happy with (mostly). I took a couple of grocery store baggies and stuffed them into the base, then poured small rocks on top to hide the bags. This helps keep the flowers from shifting too much, allowing the centerpiece to keep its shape over time.

I think I’ll probably add in a few more flowers into the few gaps, but I love this so much I can’t even tell you. It makes me smile every time I walk by it. I can’t tell which I’m happier by — flowers year-round or the fact that I finally put my beautiful pottery to use. <3 Love.

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Flowers in room

Crate Coffee Table

Are there any freecyclers out there reading my blog today? I signed up for the local freecycle group more than a year ago and pretty much ignored the onslaught of emails that frequented my inbox until recently. I was clicking through and saw this beautiful antique dresser that I had to have. But of course, since I didn’t pay any attention t the emails and was a week late in asking the person if I could take it off of their hands into my loving home, I missed out on destiny. OK, that is super melodramatic — it would have been awesome to score a free dresser, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Ever since then, I keep an eye out and quickly scan the emails (I get about 5 a day). I saw a posting for a free crate. No picture, no description other than it was homemade. And I jumped on it.

My loving hubby graciously went along to help me haul the crate into our truck and into our home. I was pretty nervous since there wasn’t a picture, so I wanted him  that the whole thing very well could be a bust.

To my great surprise and pleasure, the crate was awesome. AWESOMEEEEEE.

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It is beat up and well-loved, and once we brought it inside I was totally digging it in our space.

Sure there’s random crate graffiti…

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… but I kinda like it!

The inside is also way cool…. in fact, I wish they’d used some of the neat inside boards on the outside. But hey, you can’t ask for perfection when you get something for free.

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Crate inside

The crate was just sitting on our carpet in front of our couch for a while, waiting for some attention. So I gave it some love by adding casters! And while it wasn’t an earth-shattering change and won’t be the last thing I do to the crate, it made a pretty big difference.

Or at least I think so. … if for no other reason than I can actually move it easily now!

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I got the casters from Home Depot and was able to add them with just a few screws each. It took me all of 5 minutes. Gotta love that for a quick transformation.

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The crate will serve as a lovely coffee table in our family room until I find something a tad bit more permanent. I think it looks really cool near the thrift store end tables that I found not too long ago. The whole room is slowly but surely coming along. Someday I’ll finish it. Maybe.

Scored any free treasures lately?

 

Spring? Hellooooo?????

I’m pretty sure this winter will never end. I actually don’t mind the cold or the snow, but I’m ready to get outside for some projects. I also want to play more volleyball :) yes, volleyball. We played last weekend on the one nice day and we had a blast. Our yard is perfect for backyard games! Hopefully it’s our last week of snow until next winter, otherwise our net is gonna stay looking sad and dreary.

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Chitown with my sisters

Well, I’m finally home from Chicago and man oh man did I have a great time visiting my older sister! Em and I flew out on Friday and got home yesterday afternoon. I am EXHAUSTED!

Chicago is the coolest city — I love it there. If I had to live in a city, I think I’d pick Chicago. It was so freakin’ cold and windy, but man is it a cool place. We started out trip out with a dinner at Honky Tonk BBQ with our cousin Laurel and her boyfriend Tim. The food was amazing — apparently the restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Too cool! We did all sorts of fun stuff the next three days, including the St. Patty’s Day parade, visiting the green river, the Museum of Science and Industry and visiting Navy Pier.

The trip was wonderful and I am so thankful to have gotten to spend such quality time with my sisters, my brother-in-law and Allie’s girlfriend Joanna. It was a blast!