Our New Green House!

At the end of last summer, the Hubs was suddenly motivated to build a green house and although I had lots of ideas on what I wanted, I didn’t have a plan fully thought out for the project.  But I definitely wasn’t going to take advantage of this unexpected desire to build when it was in my favor and so the green house building began.

I did know where I wanted the green house – behind the raspberry bushes where it would get the most exposure and I could see it from the house and driveway.  Unfortunately this spot is slightly sloped so it’s not an ideal building site, but the Hubs worked that out by building a platform for the floor of the green house with a support for one side to cover the difference.

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He used a large pressure treated board for this support since it would sit on the ground.  The floor itself was made with pressure treated 4×4 joists topped with 3 sheets of plywood.  The lack of a permanent foundation allows us to move the green house should we determine there’s a better spot for it in the future, but provides adequate support for the current location.

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I wasn’t sure on the size so based on the spot the Hubs suggested 8′ x 12′ and that seemed reasonable to me, so I went with it.  He framed up the walls for either side and I helped hold them in place while he nailed on supports.

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Working from the plan in his head based on pictures I’d shown him of designs I liked, he framed out the front and back walls and started adding trusses to create the roof.  He also created a support frame for siding that would go half way up the sides of the all 4 walls.

3It really started to look like something when the siding went up on the lower walls.  He had to get creative with the front corner due to the slope of the ground, but he made it work.

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The siding will provide a great spot for me to attach the gutters I used for strawberries last year.  This season they will hold lettuce, spinach and chard or kale for salads and the strawberries will move inside the green house to give them a longer growing season.  You’ll notice the large water tank we added next to the shed last year is nearby for easy watering.  The front yard hose reaches the tank fairly easily so filling isn’t too difficult and the natural slope of the yard provides a gravity feed for watering the raspberries and filling watering cans for the green house.

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Next came the clear plastic siding and a window in the back that can vent heat if needed.  He used the contoured wood slats designed for these clear panels to support the pieces and provide spots to secure them to the frame.  I added some paver blocks we had on hand in front of the the doorway.  I may add a few more once I get things set up, but for now it creates a nice little stoop for the structure.

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One of his last steps was installing a storm door, which also has a window and screen that can be used to vent excess heat if needed.  He lucked out finding this door on a “returned” clearance rack for much less than it originally sold for. A brand new door for a fraction of the price – he’s learning my bargainista ways quite well!

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He finished off the open space on either side of the door and we purchased a piece of low cost linoleum to cover the plywood floor.   I chose the grey stone pattern for two reasons: A) I liked the look of it for a green house floor and B) the dark colors should absorb heat during the day and release it back out to the plants during our very short nights during the summer.  Somehow I neglected to take a finished picture of the exterior but here’s some views of the finished interior.

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Finishing the project just in time for the season to end last year it provided a spot for me to move plants that were starting to struggle with the temps and spots for my garden art I was starting to collect from the yard.  Several pieces found storage spots along the top of the wall, where they fit perfectly.

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Even at the end of the season it was still getting pretty warm inside the green house so it should work well to extend our growing season which is sadly very short due to being next to the mountains.

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And here’s how it looked during the final weeks of summer before fall arrived.  Having these containers in the space temporarily really helped me develop a plan for how we’ll set up everything come spring.  With our first snow of the season in late October we opted to leave everything in here and store the patio furniture in here for the winter as well, so it’s a hot mess these days, but come the first sign of spring I’ll be pulling everything out to get my plan in motion.  I’ll be sharing that here on the blog very soon so check back and feel free to make suggestions when I do! 🙂

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The Palmer Garden & Art Faire

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Today I’m sharing a little recap of the Palmer Midsummer Garden & Art Faire.  Although this was the 6th annual faire, this was the first time I’d attended the event and I had an amazing time!  We had perfect weather, a wonderful variety of vendors and a plethora of workshops, as well as entertainment. The photo above only shows one small section of all that was going on!

The first thing I did was join a workshop on Alpine hypertufa container gardens.  Our instructor was Jamie, a local alpine plant expert who owns the Alpine Nursery in town.  He reviewed his recipe for making hypertufa containers (1 part Portland cement, 1 part perlite, 1 part pete moss and water mixed with latex additive and a tablespoon of fiberglass fibers for strength) and explained the process for forming the container using various common garden or household items as molds.  He showed us how to plug the hole at the bottom of the container with embroidery mesh before he started filling it with dirt to plant.

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He added his own special blend of soil, which includes native top soil, pea gravel and sand.  This provides a consistency similar to what alpine plants are used to growing in in their natural environments.  He added two interesting rocks to create various pockets for the different plants, including a rare specimen he acquired from a fellow nursery owner.

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Once he had everything planted how he wanted, he added crushed hypertufa from a mold that cracked while curing on top to replicate the gravel topsoil of the native habitat of these plants.  Here’s how it looked when it was all done.

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As the class was wrapping up I noticed these ladies at the instructor’s booth.  They were definitely channeling their garden spirit with their outfits!  I’m pretty sure they were part of one the many performances during the faire, but it was fun to see them milling about in the crowd.

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I also browsed Jaime’s plants before heading out to see the other vendors and spotted the impatients my neighbor had gifted me last summer!

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Next door to Jaime’s booth was a very talented bonsai gardener.  I admired the creativity and patience it took to create these beautiful container gardens.  Here are two of my favorites, which I was surprised included one crafted from a birch tree!

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A little way down the vendor trail I found this fun photo op booth from one of my favorite local thrift shops, Thrifter’s Rock.  Their booth was just as fun with unique display racks and quirky wares.

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Another nearby vendor had this bright and happy chair planter.  I’ve got an old chair frame that I’ve been holding on to so I can create something similar!

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I was madly in love with these gorgeous hand made bird houses!  The copper roof was a fantastic compliment to the cedar carved steeples and the rustic branch on the front made it just perfect.  Unfortunately they were out of my budget for now, but I did note the vendor’s business name so I can contact him to get one when I do have some extra funds for garden décor.

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Speaking of garden décor, you might have noticed this cutie in my last post!  This vendor had several tall willow dragonflies available but I liked this little one.  Although they had planned to sell this as part of the arrangement it was displayed in they agreed to separate them and I got the perfect addition to my wheelbarrow planter for just $5!  They assured me that this little guy will weather the winter fine, but I’ll probably put him up in the shed just to extend his overall lifespan.

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There was lots to see and do at the faire, including this selfie photo op for the Visitor Center.  These tall mushrooms and hanging blooms were so cute I just had to take a picture, even though it’s not a selfie!

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The Hubs joined me at the event and we decided to get some lunch from one of the food trailers.  The salmon egg roll we ordered was definitely unique but the caprese sandwich I selected was AWESOME!  And the strawberry rhubarb lemonade I had to go with it was just as wonderful.  It was the perfect lunch on a warm summer day.

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While we were enjoying lunch I noticed this unique bike contraption nearby and soon discovered it was part of a demonstration some pretty ingenious youth were doing on how to use human power to make smoothies!

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After I’d seen all there was to see I headed back to the truck enjoying the fun little displays in front of the downtown Palmer shops.  I really liked this garden box which used fishing gear as part of the display!

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Before heading home I stopped to check out a possible photo location which turned out to a great spot, although it didn’t have many options beyond this vantage point.

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The neighbors were sure adorable too!  Look at those big floppy ears and spots!  I wonder if I could sweet talk the property owner in to letting me borrow one or two for a shoot! 🙂

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It was the perfect end to a fun day.  I’ll definitely be attending the faire again next year and already have the tentative date flagged on my calendar.  Check back tomorrow to see all the fun garden art I found at the faire!

Appreciating Progress

Summer is flying by and my list of projects is still pretty long.  I’ve been super busy with photography clients recently thanks to wedding season, which is a good thing but it doesn’t leave much time to work on my gardens and I was getting frustrated by the slow progress of things.  But then I realized I need to remember we’ve only been in the house three years and have made some big improvements in that time.  So today I thought we’d take a look back at just how far we’ve come!

The biggest change is the back yard.  This is what it looked like during the final stages of construction before we moved in after winter had hit.  It was a completely blank slate.

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And here’s what it was looking like about a week ago. Some of this is just temporary as we add other features in stages, but it’s filled in pretty well for our weekend and evening DIY efforts.

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This was the main area of the back yard the first spring we were in the house.  A big field of bare dirt and gravel with the hideous chain link dog run we patched together until we could get the fence in and the yard hydroseeded.

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Now it’s functional and pretty. Eventually the grass will grow back in where we tilled to do the rock garden, and it will look seamless.

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And just look at how many of the projects I had planned that have already been done!  The gravel patio, fire pit, egg table, raised garden box and deck landscaping are all done or in progress.  And a few of these ideas ended up being changed in favor of a better idea, like putting the strawberries in the gutters around the corner and switching the sectional seating on the deck for a dining table.  There’s definitely some fine tuning and clean up to do, but it’s a space we can enjoy now rather than a bare patch of dirt.

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The raised garden box used to be surrounded by dirt and had a few measly little plants in it that eventually drowned from the rain off the roof.  Now it’s surrounded by pea gravel for a finished look and has a healthy crop growing thanks to the new gutter we had installed.

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The biggest change is the landscaping around the deck.  It looked like a wild patch of weeds at the beginning of this season.   Now its something you actually want to look at!  And it will only get better and better as the seasons continue and the plants fill in more.

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Last season we had the new sectional seating on the deck which was nice, but the change to a dining table works so much better for this spot and has gotten a lot more use.  Plus the dogs appreciate being able to “look out” from the edge of the deck this season and the Hubs and I enjoy the shorter walk to the chicken coop from that side of the deck thanks to the stairs he put in.

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I had planted these two bushes on the side of the deck at the end of last season and was extremely frustrated when the dogs ripped out the bush on the right before it could establish new roots.  But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it made a spot for the new steps and rain barrel for the gutter.

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Around the corner we’ve gone from an awkward cubby to a defined planting space and chicken run.  I had planned for a large garden in this space but soon realized that the exposure wasn’t right for that plan so it became the chicken space instead and it’s perfect for that.

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The revised plan for this side cubby has mostly come to pass.  We did add a storage shed, although it’s more for the chicken equipment than the yard tools I’d imagined but again it works for our needs.  And I’ve decided that I won’t ever use a potting bench so I don’t need one, although I’m sure the Hubs would still love to find a spot to install a smoker!  I’ve started on a plan to disguise those not so lovely septic pipes which are inconveniently in the middle of this space so watch for that update soon.

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Even the chicken space itself has seen improvement.  Going from the original run to a full on chicken yard that’s super secure.  Plus it gave me another little spot to plant.  The lobelia I planted along the side met destruction thanks to Brinley’s rapt interest in the chickens so I pulled them out and put in grass seed so I can pull up the curtains and let the chickens enjoy sections a little at a time.

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Chick BlocksThe new strawberry gutters are doing well too.  It seemed like the strawberries had a slow start, but pretty much all of them now have buds, which should soon be yummy desserts or garnishes for my sangrias!

 

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Along the fence the giant wheel the Hubs brought home for me has finally found a purpose with the new planting bed.  I think next year I’ll just have flowers in this spot so I’m not worrying about the dogs getting into edible crops, which will all be raised and together over by the garden box.  I’ll probably need to do some weed control in this spot come fall since I was in a hurry to install the bed and didn’t kill the grass underneath before hand, but some newspaper and another layer of dirt should do the trick.

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On the other side of the house the gifted garden is starting to fill in.  It looked pretty full when we put it in that first summer, but adding the grass next to the rock border became tedious to maintain so I’ve appropriated all of those rocks for the deck landscaping and have begun the switch to the same block edgers we used over by the wheel bed.  I need to figure out what I’ll do around the deck we plan to add on the back corner of the house next year since I’ll need to tie that into this bed somehow so I’m moving slowly on changes over here for now.

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This is how the bed looked at the beginning of last season.  Just a few things coming back and lots of holes to fill in.  Now I’ve got a good base of plants to create the cottage style garden I want over here.

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Out front we’ve went from construction city to looking like a home.  It still isn’t where I want it to be but at least there’s landscaping to welcome guests and dirt isn’t splattered against the house every time it rains.  I’m working through several ideas to change things up out here next season so I can decide on one and start some of the prep work this fall.

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The front bed was the first space I planted around the house and I was so excited to have any kind of landscaping that I didn’t plan much ahead when selecting or placing the plants.  Several didn’t survive the first winter, and those that did took a while to come back in the second season.  This season I’ve fill in some of the holes and am starting to figure out what works best out here.  I’m planning to revamp this whole area next season but need to finalize the plan before I do anything else.  For now I’m just enjoying the colors the different flowers bring.

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This little cubby in the front has been an awkward spot since the beginning.  It at least gave the house a bit of finishing when we first set up the space, but it had the same issue as the other side where several of the plants didn’t survive the first winter and the rest didn’t show much last season.  This season I’ve filled in a few spots and called it good until I can figure out the best way to make this spot function better.

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Our freebie raspberries looked quite spindly when they first went in last year, but produced a fantastic harvest well into the fall.  This year they’ve come back even fuller and are budding like crazy.  We added a haskap bush in front of them and moved the water tank over by the shed so the hose can gravity feed when we need to water.

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Even the view from the driveway has improved.  The Hubs massive shed hides the ugly meters on the side of the house and the rain garden has become a nice focal point as you approach.  I’m still waiting for my clematis to grow in over the tire wall but when it does I will be amazing.  I’m hoping to get fireweed to fill in behind the tires and dwarf dogwood to cover the ground in front, but those are both low priority projects.

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This garden has become my home for “lost” plants who need to winter over or no longer have a spot when I change things elsewhere.  This casual approach has created a nice variety and the foundation of what will one day be a very lush space.

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And lastly, the spirea bush I planted just outside the fence when I got the ones on the side of the deck was looking quite dead earlier this season.  I was planning to tear it out, but luckily hadn’t gotten around to doing it because a few weeks ago I noticed green on it’s branches.  I pruned it back to encourage the new growth and that seemed to work because now it has one stalk of blooms!  Hopefully next season it comes in even more full and completely fills this spot, blocking the view of the leech field pipe just out of the photo from the laundry room window.

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As you can see there’s been some pretty good progress since we started this little adventure.   I’m trying my best to appreciate how things are now and enjoy the little bits of joy I find when out in the yard.  If I hadn’t been so busy I would have ripped that spirea out weeks ago and wouldn’t be blessed with these pretty little blooms now.  So I’ll continue to tinker and tweak, which is what every gardener will tell you they are always doing. 🙂
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DIY Metal Planter & a Peek at the Garden

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Today I thought I’d share a quick peek of our veggie garden and a quick DIY planter I installed.  We had a red and white onion sprout in the pantry so I figured I’d give them a shot in the garden this year.  With all the spots in the garden boxes full I decided to add a secondary planter at the end of the box.

I originally envisioned using an antique wash tub and stand, but just wasn’t willing to pay $100+ for a planter.  So I used my DIY skills to create something similar starting with this metal stool we’ve had for several years.  You originally saw it on our balcony at the rental house.  It’s since been painted over and the hubs was using it to position the fan for his big green egg, but now that he has his table he doesn’t use it any more, so it was available to be repurposed.

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I added this large metal tub on top of the stand to create a planting space.  The Hubs drilled a couple of holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage since this sits just under the edge of the roof.

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I used empty pots to add additional drainage space and reduce the amount of garden soil needed to fill the tub.  Luckily, I had quite a few to choose from!

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And here it is filled and planted.  I’m not sure if this little experiment will yield a harvest but it’s interesting to give it a try.

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It looks pretty cute next to the main garden box, which I decorated with two lemon cypress trees on either side.  I’ve been wanting some of these and finally spotted them at the nursery so I snagged two.  They are supposed to be natural mosquito repellants so that’s a nice added bonus, especially since the windows are right there.

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In the box we’re growing peppers, lettuce and cherry tomatoes.  We’ve already harvested some of the lettuce for salads several times and the tomatoes have tiny buds on them.  The peppers are the same as the ones in the burlap planters I shared previously, which sit next to the large whiskey barrels on either side of the slider to our Master Bedroom that hold 4 more tomato plants, although those are a “patio tomato” variety I haven’t tried before.

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Between the garden box, onion planter, wheel bed and the strawberry gutters we should have a good crop of fresh produce to use for salads, meals and desserts this summer! 🙂

The Wheel Bed

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I finally put that amazing rusty metal wheel the Hubs dragged home for me forever ago to use!  It’s now the centerpiece of our new garden bed where the two metal bed frames I found junking recently also found homes.

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The wheel will serve as a support structure for two cucumber plants and the bedframes will be perfect for the peas to grow up and attach to as they climb.

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Above all this rusty goodness is a Kokopeli figure, who used to be cloaked in an obnoxious multi-color western pattern.  Nothing a coat of spray paint can’t fix!  Now he compliments the rest of the metal tones in the bed.  And hopefully he works his fertility magic to make these plants grow large and strong to produce a good crop!

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I created the bed using some stone edger blocks and backfilling over the grass with dirt left over from the chicken yard install, topped with garden soil.  I added a few marigolds and lobelia along the front of the bed and finished it off with two metal pieces sculptures I found when I salvaged the bed frames.

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Now I just have to water and wait until everything becomes an amazing lush harvest!  Luckily, this is a low spot in the yard so it should get extra watering from runoff.  Hopefully that will mean we don’t have to wait quite as long. 🙂

Burlap Pepper Pots

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Hi everyone!  I’m feeling quite a bit better and am back to the usual routine, albeit a bit slower than normal.  Today I thought I’d share this quick project I did over the weekend to create planters for some extra pepper plants that didn’t fit in our garden box.  I originally saw the idea on Pinterest but it didn’t have a tutorial so I just kinda made it up as I went along.  These cute pots are actually 5 gallon buckets.

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This is how they started life.  Not quite the look I was going for.  So I dug out some burlap I’d picked up last season and did a test fit to see how it would work.  Since my pieces were fairly large I folded them in half, which worked well to block the blue color and store logo on the bucket.

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To finalize the fit I laid out the burlap on the ground and wrapped it around the bucket until I was happy with the placement.  Then I cut pieces of twine and tied it around the bucket at the top and bottom to hold the burlap in place.

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I fiddled with the burlap on the first bucket, trying it both pulled tight and leaving it loose.  I ultimately decided I like the loose option which made them look like old grain sacks just filled with dirt.  Here they are tied and ready for plants.

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The Hubs drilled a couple of drainage holes in the bottom of each bucket and I filled them with soil.  Each got a single pepper plant so that when it grows I can add a support stake or cage.

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And here’s the finished line up.  The Hubs was actually pretty impressed with how nice they turned out – and I know this because he commented on them unprovoked!  Since I took this shot the other day Brinley decided to ‘help’ with the gardening and pulled the pepper plant on the right out of the soil.  Luckily, I caught it quickly and was able to put it back in and give it some extra watering to revive it but I’m not sure it will make a full recovery.

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But even if it doesn’t I’ve got the two others in buckets and three more in the garden box so hopefully, we’ll get quite a few peppers to enjoy this summer!  I’ll be sharing more of our garden starts next week so watch for that.  Until then have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

Shared on Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town #24.

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Our Budget DIY Wedding

Summer has arrived and along with it come wedding season.  Since our wedding was before I started the blog I’ve never shared it here but I thought you’d enjoy seeing our budget-friendly DIY details, so here’s a quick recap.

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We chose a restaurant in Boulder, Colorado as our venue because they had a beautiful garden area where we could host the ceremony.  Rather than spend money on decorations that would only be seen briefly we kept things simple and let the focus be on us and the lush backdrop.

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I ordered bouquets for myself and my sister who was my Matron of Honor from a local grocery store’s floral department and added burlap wraps with ribbon and a rhinestone pin to each.  Since the hubs wore his uniform he didn’t need a boutonniere which was an additional cost savings to not having to buy a suit or tux.  We requested his best man – who was his brother – wear a navy suit, which was readily available in his finance VP wardrobe.  I gave my sister free rein on her dress selection just asking her to pick something navy blue as well, so she found an option she can wear again at a reasonable price.  My mom paid for my dress, which we found at David’s Bridal for around $900.  I had a local seamstress add a purple sash I bought online to the waist to customize it a bit.  I found a rhinestone headband and simple veil online for a good price and bought shoes I could wear again to complete the look.

The reception was held in the restaurant’s upstairs dining room where the tables were arranged in long rows.  We placed a simple burlap runner that my mom made down each and sprinkled river rocks from the dollar store (if I remember correctly we cleaned out their inventory! LOL) between the frosted votives provided by the venue.  I ordered a bunch of daisies from the same vendor we used for the bouquets and snipped the heads off so they could be added in randomly among the rocks and candles.

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01-01The venue provided printed menus customized for us as part of the package price.  They were simple but worked well with the tone of everything else we had going on.

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Our favors were photo tile coasters I made with modge podge and my own Alaskan photography.  The place cards on top were tied with simple jute twine and the symbols notified the wait staff which entrée each guest had pre-selected.

01-01Our guest book was made of pre-cut card stock in our wedding colors where guests could leave a note and slip it into slots in a scrapbook.  I later added photos of each guest next to their cards to finish the project.  I found the scrapbook on clearance for around $15 and used a coupon to buy the card stock as 12″ x 12″ sheets that I cut down so the total cost with the photo prints came to around $30.

The frame we had nearby held the day’s schedule printed on our wedding stationary – left over stock from a DIY kit I picked up at Michaels with another coupon to make our own invitations and response cards.  The frame later became décor in our home and now holds a recipe for a good marriage which I toasted the hubs with at the reception printed on some left over stationary.

01-01The venue was able to make simple cakes so I requested a two tier Chantilly cake with berries for a garnish, which was DELICIOUS!  (FYI – We’ve since discovered that Whole Foods has a Chantilly cake that is practically identical so we order one whenever we’re in Portland to celebrate.)  The rhinestone monogram topper was another Michaels coupon bargain that ran me around $5.  It later became an ornament for our Christmas tree with the addition of a ribbon hanger so now we can enjoy it every year.

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My mom picked up these little treat bags on clearance and added some of her favorite candies.  We borrowed a basket from the venue and set them out next to the cake with a few extra daisy heads and a votive to dress them up a bit.

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We also saved by not hiring a DJ. Instead we put together a playlist of music for both the ceremony and reception.  A friend helped make sure the right song was selected for the first dance and other important moments, which only took a few moments away from her enjoying the event.

As a photographer myself, I knew the importance of having a visual memory of the details of our wedding, so we made photography a priority with a chunk of the budget (photography credit for all photos to Nicole Nichols Photography).    The other big expense was the food, but it was very good and well worth it.

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I don’t have the exact figures anymore but the final total came to around $8,000 thanks to our budget conscious shopping and DIY choices. That didn’t include the rehearsal dinner which was covered by the hub’s family, but that was something that had been saved and planned for in advance.

I encourage couples planning their wedding to prioritize what they want and compromise on the things that aren’t as important or don’t have as much of a lasting impact. It is possible to have a dream wedding on a budget, it just takes planning and determination. 😉