Effortless Landscaping and Sources

I forgot, yesterday we also got our first flowering daffs. :D

The bulb bed is sprouting happily out there. The bulbs on the north side (thought I’d moved them all?) are also sprouting, as are the few still left by the south side of the house (including the ones that are blooming).

Good news is that the bulbs in the bulb yard are definitely spreading. Yay! The idea is to take an entire swathe off the lawn. Less to mow, less to weed, less maintenance. I also have day lily beds. One big one on the south side of the driveway and a smaller line of them on the north side. If enough light gets to them, they just sprout, bloom, and die back for the winter all on their own. They appreciate some fertilizer every year or two, but it isn’t necessary. I have decorative grasses and rugosa roses (in a small hedge) planted at the end of the driveway. Except for trimming the rugosas and fertilizing again, no maintenance. I have Vinca (the ground cover type) on the hill near the driveway.

One of my goals this year  is to buy the first of the no mow lawn plugs. The grasses in this mix only grow 6″ at their full height. No mowing required, ever. (I haven’t ordered them yet, I have to pay for the CSA first.) If I can successfully replace the lawns, then I will NOT need a mower at all. TOTAL WIN! No machine, no gas, no gardener, no time to maintain it. Yes, I imagine the grasses need fertilizing, especially as what’s under our lawn is sand and sand and sand — another reason I’m not just ripping it all out and replacing it. The soil that’s there is under the grass.

When we got this place 20+ years ago, if you took a shovel of dirt out of the lawn, it looked like a vanilla cake with chocolate glaze: white (sand) and a little brown on top, like 1/4″ (top soil). For 2 decades I’ve been trying to build top soil. The large quantity of sand that was trucked in for the septic and to build up the lot is one of the big reasons I can’t produce enough compost for our needs: the nutrients just trickle out through the sand.

So, to replace the lawn I do NOT want to scrape up the current grass and the attendant top soil! I want to mulch the current grass and plant the new stuff on top, or intersperse the new into the old plants and weed out the old plants as the new stuff spreads. Yes, this will take longer, but I won’t lose 20 years of top soil with it.

I want to plant blue-eyed grass and more wild violets on the north side of the house and let them naturalize too. Again, no maintenance required. Both are naturally occurring wildflowers here, but they don’t show up in enough quantity to cover the area I’d like them to or to choke out the grass. That’s another order too.

No mow grass seed is available here. I thought they sold plugs of this stuff. Oh well!


Blue-Eyed Grass Seed/Plants


Wild Violet



First Garden Harvest & First Plantings (Same Day!)

So how did I do this?

My veggie garden at the end of the summer always looks like a messy jungle. Why? And what does that have to do with the subject of this post?

That “messy jungle” is made up of chicory plants, root parsley, and dill which flower then set seed in the fall. Accordingly, early spring I always have some wilted parsley (I  just leave it alone for a few days after I uncover it) but I also have some radicchio (the overwintered chicory) if I can get it before the chipmunks! The dill won’t surface for a while; it comes up at the same time as the self-seeded mustard greens.

But there’s green garlic  (I’ll use some of the tops), sorrel, and radicchio out there to pick — today! We had a taste of the sorrel yesterday Tonight’s dinner will be stir-fried lettuces and ? (I got a bargain on a container of mixed lettuces yesterday). I’ll add some of the radicchio and sorrel and garlic greens to my bargain greens.

First harvest! :D

 I also planted the first seeds today. Yes this is almost 6 weeks before our “last” frost date (Memorial Day). I planted mixed lettuces and spinach, cold tolerant, but not tolerant of a hard frost. I’m gambling we won’t have another snow. Could be that I just added the seed in 5 4′ rows to the soil to compost or feed chippers. Or, it could be that I’m a lucky soul and we’ll have some lettuce and spinach in a few weeks. We’ll see!

I sprinkled a little water on the bed after I planted the seed then I got a call from my friends who make the compost I use (I can’t make enough for our garden). I got 3 buckets of the stuff, used 2 immediately: over the bed where the radicchio is, the lettuce/spinach I’d just planted, the rhubarb, the sorrel, and lastly, the raised bed where the asparagus is.

I have 1 bucket left: I think that goes on the thymes (I grow 2 types: pizza and regular), tarragons (3 plants, 1 variety) and the wild grape vines.

The folks who make the compost gave me some of their stock, they don’t have any for sale, yet. It was a favor, and I appreciate it! If you want information about where I get my compost, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll posta  link.

It’s finally spring!



I thought of something, talked it over with my significant other, then we made a decision. Yes, I’ll write the memoir, get it edited, and formatted for an ereader, probably.

Yes, I’ll probably sell it myself and maybe through itunes.

No, I won’t go out and try to get a mainstream publisher to buy it.

I’m chicken!

It occurred to me that all the heel dragging I’ve been doing is not because I’m scared to write the memoir or even put it out there, but that I’m terrified of both the almost sure rejection I’ll get from the mainstream press and/or exposing myself to the general public. My significant other agrees with me.


So here’s the new plan: I finish the rewrite. Get the copy edit. Then get it all formatted up for an ereader or POD (publish on demand) and sell it that way.

Wrestling with the memoir, getting it ready to send out to God knows who, God knows where (and probably rejected several times) has been just AWFUL. But you know? I don’t have to do it that way.

I love print. It may pay the best (sometimes).  I don’t even own an ereader! But wtf — this gives me a way to do a trial balloon;  a way to see what kind of response I’ll get, without courting the almost sure rejections from the mainstream press. Epub or POD, either one, both? We’ll see!

I won’t be doing it this way because I don’t have a story to tell or  because I can’t write my way out of a paper bag and therefore it’s the only way I can get published. Nope. It will be because I choose to expose myself less, at least at first. If I sell 5 copies a year no one is going to get rich but that’s okay.

If it helps one person, that’s my goal. Just one, because then of course, you’ve changed the world, right?

If I didn’t believe small alterations can create large changes overall, I  couldn’t  have changed so much, I would have been overwhelmed, period. I would probably have become a druggie or alcoholic or something.

Direction is necessary. Energy is necessary and resilience is necessary. But hope, the belief that whatever you do can make a difference and result in meaningful change — that’s paramount.


Must Be Doing Better

I’ve been working on the memoir, something I haven’t done in a long time.

Writing that thing, editing it, adding to it, etc. is frankly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Obviously, I’m feeling better/stronger, or I wouldn’t have started work on it again.

Hurrah for progress!


New Me?

I’ve been working on my appearance.  I’d worked far too long for myself and gotten sloppy. If I’m going to take the new sales/writing gigs I have seriously, then I needed to treat them like “work” and dress appropriately.

I know folks who fuss over their looks for themselves. I gave up on that years ago. I will never satisfy myself with my looks, it’s a slippery slope I never conquer. Most of the time, I settled for being “neat” and “not offensive.” That’s fine, when the person I’m working for is me, but not when someone else is paying money for my time/efforts.

This is further complicated by:

  • It’s winter still which means big jackets, and my winter coat is inadequate.  I was borrowing DH’s old down coat. Toasty warm, but literally tattered and of course it’s too big.

There’s a foot or more of snow here, don’t tell me about calendars and equinoxes! It’s winter until mud season at least, that means almost no snow. And yes, I  keep trying to make weeks start on Monday too — I’m contrary.

  • Many of the work clothes I had were bought for working in the Mojave desert, a beach town or Florida.I’ve “outgrown” many of my old work clothes, the few I still have. They’re too small or I’m too big, whatever — they don’t fit any more.

The “French Dressing” purge deleted most of the maybe clothes as “not good enough.”

I was wearing 1 pair of jeans or 1 green pair of green pants that could be worn with leggings/stretch pants/longjohns underneath. The green pants were the only “good” pants I owned.

  • I’m “cheap” or “frugal” or whatever you want to call it. I don’t like spending money on clothes.

However, this past week or two, I’ve bought quite a few pieces of clothing etc.

  1. a pair of pants,
  2. a lightweight jacket,
  3. a “winter” jacket,
  4. a pair of earrings,
  5. 2 cardigans,
  6. new make up,
  7. 2 shirts
  8. a pair of shoes
  9. I got my hair trimmed,

The hair cut, shoes and the earrings are the only pieces that cost > $20. The pants/jackets were used, the 2 cardigans & 2 shirts were < $10 each at Penny’s and I had a 25% off coupon. I think I’ve spent right around $65 for everything, except the hair cut (40), shoes (50) and the earrings (22).

I felt like I’d been completely irresponsible, but looking at that list? No I don’t think I have. I did all of that for < $200.

The downside is that this means I need to purge at least 7 pieces of clothing. That will be pretty hard. After the French Dressing purge, I’ve kept tossing things that don’t work. Around 2-4 pieces every month. Finding clothes to purge to offset the purchases  isn’t going to be that easy! DH did another small purge on his closet, which helps, but the new clothes aren’t his, so I’ve got to get rid of more stuff, sigh.

Don’t I always?

Wardrobe Quest and Moving Stuff

The Great Wardrobe Quest I think is solved, maybe. In our budget and within the size constraints, we can buy wardrobes from a local unfinished furniture place, painted. I had looked at these earlier in the process, but the same pieces, unfinished are as much as cheap antique ones and of course, not made as well. I was willing to pay that kind of price for “real” stuff, solid wood, not pine, hand-made, but not modernly manufactured out of pine and made God knows how? However, the price is something like $100 cheaper if you buy them painted. Not sure why except maybe they can use crappier wood?

We’ve decided the new wall also means a new floor, 100+ square feet of it, which isn’t going to be cheap, alas. But that will start us down the road to the rest of the bedroom rehab, which will be a GOOD thing!

One item we bought at that Sunday auction was a piece of kitchen equipment, and it needs a largish piece of counter to sit on — no way to put this one on a wall, or at least not without a lot more planning and reorganization! DH has been working on rehabbing it, cleaning it up, putting new feet on it, etc. so it’s ready to be used now, almost. All I have to do is find a place to put it!

One item slated to go to the flea market (4/5) and/or the new booth is our antique oak dining room table, presently stored in the kitchen, in the “dead” corner. So, instead of going to the gallery opening with DH as originally planned, I’m going to stay home and redo the kitchen storage wall, try to free up both tables, and  other general clean up/move around/get it ready to get it OUTTA here stuff. Needs to happen. I’ll finish up this post this afternoon/evening when I’m done. (10:30 a.m.)

12:31 Box wall is dismantled. The new machine will go on the wall nearest the laundry room. In order to make this happen 3 of the 5 boxes need to be moved. I think 1 of them will become the bottom 2 shelves in the laundry room by the end of the day. The others will be used, maybe, if there’s room. Big problem is that I really can’t haul the new machine around, it’s too bulky. The weight I could probably manage, but the thing isn’t small . . . .

1:19 The bottom 2 boxes are back up with a hole for the new machine, its two detachable pieces as well as the food processor, its bulkier attachments, the dehydrator and the crock pot. I kept the 2 apparently sturdiest boxes for the bottom. One of them was downright flimsy, another a bit. I need to put things back together a bit more before I dismantle the other side in the kitchen or take down the shelf in the laundry. Too much stuff displaced at once makes it impossible to put anything away! As I was taking things down from the wall, I sorted them into two categories: things we use, things we don’t. The “don’t” stuff is almost all things I want to keep, I’ve edited this wall down several times already, but the stuff (a few vases and asst. other pieces) may wind up in the attic in a box rather than out in the kitchen/dining area.

1:41 All the books are out of one side of the book boxes under the counter. Sorted them into: these do not belong here (some of DH’s books, some crafting mostly) and frugal tips, frugal housewifery, historical cooking (doesn’t belong here), frugal cooking, frugal decorating and mixed frugal titles: tips with cooking, frugal decorating with shopping hints, etc. Next task is to pull the two book boxes out and vacuum where they have been for over a year. I’m sure the area needs cleaning!

5:03 The books are back in the boxes. They are sorted into: misfiled, books to sell or donate, and books that were put back were sorted by categories. You’d think I had a library or something! Time to go put the rest of the room back together!

5:37: Crunch Time! All the “it has to be there” stuff is put away. The rest of it needs to be sorted into use/store it elsewhere or out it goes!

Preventing the Mess?

We have confirmed that our bedroom is large enough to add the wall we’ve been thinking about.

I got a quote from a local lumberyard for materials for both  the living room bookcases as well as materials for the wall.

One persistent problem here is that I can’t put my books away. This means when I unpack a box, whether the books are mine or stock, I have no dedicated place(s) to put such things. The mod. we’re talking about will not only give us a place to put out of season clothes and a dedicated linen closet, but it will give us a wall for bookcases too. I’ll be able to put at least some of my books away, in a permanent home. Huzzah! That hasn’t happened, except with some craft books, for a long time.

There’s definitely fewer books and boxes here than previously. It used to be that a large chunk of the living room (> 1/2!) and a large part of the kitchen were taken up with boxes of books.

I’m doing things differently than I used to as well. Example: I went to a sale, bought 3 boxes of books. Pulled the few I wanted to keep/sell individually, then took the remaining books (still 3 boxes) to a colleague. He bought what he wanted. I made a small profit and donated the remaining books (2 boxes) — that afternoon. I think I kept 8 or 10? Previously, I would have kept at least 1/2 of them — not anymore!

We went to an auction last Sunday. I got the 3 pieces I wanted, (2 of which  are priced and up for sale already). We also got a large crate and a few other items. The crate is going to become the “out” box.

DH will make dividers for it. Things going to place A will go in one section, place B in another. The crate is heavy duty and lidded.  Items going away  can be sorted into it and the mess concealed — YEAH!

Now, things to “go away” become piles, by the front door and elsewhere. Hopefully, the crate will solve THAT problem and not be so inconvenient that I won’t use it. I’ve found much of the problem isn’t so much deciding to cull stuff as the fact that when I do, it just becomes a different mess. Hopefully, the crate will solve part of that problem.

The great wardrobe safari continues!

We’re looking for wardrobes/amoires. Found a wonderful one, but it would block almost all the light from the big window and block two corners of the room. Beautiful piece, reasonably priced for what it is, but way too big. Another, also really nice, is about 1/2 the price of the first, but still too pricey and too big. A few others, which probably would have fit the budget were just ugly. Another one or two were the right sort of size, too much money, or in lousy condition. We’re being fussy!

We’re entitled, it’s our house and money, right?

I ordered and received most of my seeds for this year’s veggie garden. Spring may eventually get here, although you can’t prove it right now — it’s snowing!