carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

How Does My Garden Grow?

It is doing really well, thank you.  In May, I planted 2 tomatoes and some Kentucky Wonder string beans in pots on the front porch.  The only place where we have sun.

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mid-June

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Early July.  We have gotten lots of rain.

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I plan to pick my first tomato on July 4.  Beans are just now blooming and making.  Even if I don’t get any I like the vines and the tropical look they add.  Also, out front, left over from a previous owner of the unit beside us, a forest of cannas

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There was a bare space in front of them so I used the pots that I found at a recycling center (free) to add a little color.  I have plans for this space in the fall.  These cannas need to be thinned and there are day lilies hidden in there and horrors (!!!!!)  NO DAFFODILS anywhere.    You know that I can’t have that.

The back looks good too.

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It is hard to get a good picture of it.  But that planter is one of my favorite things about our renovation project.

 

 

 

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It’s Called Ensuite

One of the things I was most excited about when remodeling our condo was that I was getting a bath tub.  Back in February I went to a local supplier to view the choices.  I really wanted to climb in a few and check them out.  But all the floor models were not secured to the floor and somewhat wobbly.  In the end I had to pick my tub online!  So I was pretty worried about my choice.  Well the big day came (the week after we had moved in) the tub arrived!

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Frank (in charge of day to day operations on site) brought it over on his truck.  With help he got it upstairs.  And of course it would not fit through my bath room door.

Several days passed.  Some ripping out of walls (washer and dryer won’t fit either) and the plumbers were back to install the tub.  Most of the day spent tweaking pipes and this and that.  I was getting excited.  And then…. lo and behold the hose of the hand shower was damaged.  Another week wait and finally this week 6/12 the tub was installed.  I had to wait for the NEW washer to be fixed (that happened this week also) because I wanted clean towels for my first bath.  And my first bath was very enjoyable.

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But I kind of liked it the bedroom too……

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Just a teaser

We have been in our condo for 4 weeks now.  Still have not moved everything out of storage so I am not ready (or have the time) for a complete post about all that has been done so this is a tease.  Things that I like and think really work.

 

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Kitchen cabinets.  See that cool hardware

 

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I really wanted these fancy Asian looking pulls.  Somehow $20 or $30 a drawer seemed like too much.  I found these pulls at a big box store for under $2 each and had black rubber washers installed outside to add a little bit of definition.

I picked the cabinets online (that means I didn’t see them before I bought them) so I am really pleased that they turned out so well.  And this was the first time I have ever picked out kitchen cabinets.

 

Ben’s bathroom is the biggest success.

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It may look like a showroom for a handicapped bar sales room but they all turned out to be in the right place.  Now that the glass by the shower

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has been installed Ben is able to shower all by himself again.  Hooray!

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The table I found on Craig’s List along with two chairs.  I found the base (a fire pit stand) in a trash pile.  It is just right to support a few pots of flowers.

Busy summer still ahead of us.

 

 

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Resolved:

Our first real meal that I cook at 1652 will be spiral sliced ham.  Here in Italy I watch Mike and Molly reruns every night on Italian TV in English.  About once a week, the family (Vince, Joyce, Victoria, Mike and Molly) all sit down to a dinner.  And there it is, spiral sliced ham.  I miss that so much I can almost taste it.  Yellow squash, snow peas too.  I got plans….

 

I wrote that before we left Italy.  Even though we moved in to 1652 on 5/19, we had to wait until 6/1 until the range was hooked up to gas.  We had several false starts so I was still buying microwaveable meals each day.  It was late in the afternoon when three men working together finally got the gas connection to work, so that made my daily grocery store trip happening at 7:00 PM.  No time for a whole ham.

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I think I did pretty well, ham steak, yellow squash (local) and corn.

I went outside later and when I came back in I realized that the house smelled like food.  I realized then, that we were finally home.  Thanks to every one who has helped to get us this far.

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Moving along

Now that the inspections are done, work is moving along at a rapid pace.

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Kitchen cabinets being delivered

Saturday, 4/22 there was a stack of sheetrock.  Sunday, 4/23 the sheetrock was up!  So last week they finished sheetrocking and installed the kitchen cabinets.

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This week the tile was laid which includes the floors.  Today 5/5, the carpenter is installing Ben’s bathroom vanity and trim.  Painting starts next week.  That leaves lights and appliances.  It will be close but we have to be out of our temporary place by 5/20.  So no time to fool around.

What won’t be done is my bathroom, the vanity is on back order and I don’t want to pick another one.  The stove will be in place but probably not hooked up to the gas.  It might take the gas company until June to get to it.  Wayyyyy back in 2016 I was told by someone from the home owners’ group that there was no gas in the building.  And since I was in Italy and had no way to check and no reason to doubt this person I planned for an electric stove.  Then in early April I discovered that the condos on either side of me had gas, so why couldn’t I have it?   Fortunately, this was before insulation or walls went in.  So the gas line was installed which meant more inspections and caused a bit of delay.  And we had to get on the gas company’s schedule. Who knew it took five to six weeks to set a gas meter?   And we went over budget because a gas stove costs more than an electric one.

We are also still waiting on Ben’s motorized wheel chair.  (That is a whole other post)  which means we are waiting to see where a curb cut needs to be cut in the sidewalk.  And waiting to buy a vehicle to accommodate the wheel chair.  In our current ‘big ride’ the power window on the driver’s side has stopped working.  Our friend, Cathy helped me get it up and so far it has stayed.  And the air conditioner is working, thank goodness, so I am not going to worry about that right now.

All this is to say that I’ll be really busy for a few weeks so maybe no posts for a while.  But I’ll be back.  I am sure there will be lots of fun happenings during the move.

 

 

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What have we been up to, part 2

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Continuing on the deck theme, the planter.  On one side of the deck instead of a regular rail that would have looked right into our neighbor’s deck rail and deck, our contractor suggested a large planter box that acted as the rail and gave some privacy.  It is over six feet long, about two feet wide and the height of a regular deck rail.

February and March were very mild here and we were out looking at a lot of plant nurseries.  It nearly killed me not to buy plants.  But I couldn’t until I had a place to put them.  I might have written and whined about not being able to fill the deck planter until wires were run and inspections were done.  In the mean time I dreamed and planned, shopped and checked out garden books from the library.  Took lots of pictures of existing planters which were commercially planted and maintained.

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Finally, everything was inspected.  With help, I added drainage rock and soil and then I did what I was trying to avoid; went plant shopping and bought plants not on my carefully crafted list!  But they were there.  And needed a home.  (that is why we don’t go to animal shelters or to look at baby chicks)

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neighbor’s planter box in the upper left

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I really like this dwarf  blue ‘mouse ears’ hosta.

I have really jammed plants in there.  Lambs Ear, Sweet Grass, Creeping Jenny, Sweet Potato Vine, Asparagus Fern, Bee Balm, Rudbeckia Daisy, Holly Fern to name a few.  I hope they all make it.  Most will winter over.

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Some things at the back should grow taller and will give more privacy.  And some plants will bloom and hopefully attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I don’t have the year round height that small evergreens would have given me.  I don’t have the miniature Buddleia (butterfly bush) that I wanted.  Don’t have a miniature hydrangea.  Don’t have a dwarf crape myrtle.   Whine whine whine (I will have that (wine that is) when I get a chair to sit and enjoy the deck)  I do have, thanks to a smart contractor/designer,  the nicest deck in our courtyard.  (And a view of the Broughton High School baseball field)

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What have we been doing?

I have learned that I need to set aside ‘enforced’ days off from going to doctors, dealing with insurance companies or looking for things for the condo.  Days when I can do a few of the other things like clean, cook a meal that takes more than an hour to cook and clean up from, write letters and non condo emails, call friends and maybe just maybe, write something for my blog.  Easter Sunday is one of those days.

So what have we been up to?

Painting a ‘rug’ on the deck.  As part of the remodel we added a deck to the back of the condo which included a ramp to give Ben easier access to the condo.  Our contractor designed it with a large planter, “my garden”.  Spending some time outdoors every day is important to me and this also gives us more room to entertain.  So I wanted the deck to look like part of the rest the place, not just stuck on.

Originally I had a very outlandish plan for painting the floor of the deck.  Something like what this woman did.

http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2016/06/painted-deck-project.html?m=1

Then I realized that I live in a condo, part of a home owners association.  Just like living in a historic district I couldn’t paint whatever I wanted.  I went to the library, checked out design books, faux painting books, floor cloth books.  Poured over them.  Finally came up with an idea.  A scaled back project. A little more conservative. Submitted an application to the architectural review board and waited.  All the while worrying that it won’t get approved.

Well, it was approved.  So I started work.  It took about six days spread over two weeks (you know, the moment I wanted to do an outdoor project that needed clear warm weather, the rains started!)  Lots of measuring and taping.  But finally it was done.

I am really pleased with the way it turned out.  It is not by any means perfect.  There was some ‘bleeding’ under the tape.  It has this nice aged, worn look which is what I was going for.

Then one day last week I realized where my design inspiration came from…

The door mat at the condo we are renting.  Heee heee.  No need to ponder and research.  Just look out the door.

 

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Condo Work

How is it progressing?  Well it has gone from this

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to this

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Actually it is more ripped out than this now.  Most of the side walls and the ceiling are gone now too.  The plumber has roughed in for the new fixtures as has the electrician.  The deck is done.

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The deck, ramp and  planter (big box at far left)

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The planter, almost 6′ long and 2′ wide.  Last week I was out there happily filling it with drainage rock when the electrician walked out and reminded me that he needed to run wiring through there and it would need to be inspected, so maybe I didn’t want to fill it up with rocks and soil just yet.  So I stopped.  But waiting is not a bad thing.   There are two big trees back there that still need to leaf out.  I need to see how much sun I will have.  I don’t think a lot.    Plant searching has started.

I am also waiting to see if I can stain a ‘rug’ on the deck.  I need permission from the home owners association.  We’ll see.

Anyway, 2 months from today (3/15) we should be ready to move in.  Who wants to come help us move, yet again?

 

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Things I’m happy about

I occasionally do stop complaining.  Here are some things that Ben and I are delighted about, tickled about, happy about….

Fruit    I really expected crappy fruit and very high prices.  We are both very surprised at how good fruit is here.  We have had some very good cantaloupes.  Yes, I know they are not in season and not local, but they are good.  Really good and big.  We can manage to get 4 breakfasts from one of them.  Citrus has also been a surprise.  I was afraid I would never seen a blood orange again, but not the case.  And more variety than what we saw in Italy.  I am happy to be eating Temples and Minneolas again.   And tomatoes!  As good as ones that I used to buy at Esselunga.   Last week I even saw beautiful mix of heirloom tomatoes in my Harris-Teeter that were not too expensive.  But by and large I find groceries expensive.  However, I have to qualify that by writing, that we are shopping at a fairly pricey store, simply out of convenience.  Raleigh is blessed with many grocery store choices.  I know this.  I just need to plan our time a little better and start visiting a store more than 4 blocks away.   I think I am still seduced by 2 grocery stores that I can reach in less than 5 minutes.

Newspapers     One arrives at out door every day.  It is crap compared to what  I remember, but still a delight that it arrives.  I find that of the 60 some households in this complex where I share a recycling bin, we are one of the few that recycles a paper and I think gets an actual paper.

Weather    Oh, I know this is a true exception.  But it is sunny here.  No fog.  And at least one day a week in the 70s.  But I know it is still February and all this can change very fast.  I’ll take every 70 degree that there is.

Basketball!  Oh my goodness!  It is almost too much.  We need to schedule our lives around all these games.  But this too will end.  The almost, last big event, the ACC tournament starts on March 7 and then of course there will be the NCAA tournament.  And then it will be all over but…. by then nice weather will be here for sure.

Work on the condo    Progressing at a nice pace.  All the ripping out is done.  New walls are studded in.  The deck was approved and work on it will start this week.  That means Ben will be able to get in and see things.  I’ll be able to set up the planter bed.  We still have decisions that have to be made but maybe by the end of this coming week most of those will be done.

So by and large we are doing well.  Hope you are too

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Oh yeah, we can have BBQ whenever we want….That helps immensely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Work has started

A number of years ago, Ben and I spent a week in a small house in a very small village, in the south of France.  One day I put laundry out to dry and we left.  A wind storm developed while we were gone and when we came back we discovered that laundry was all over the place.  I had to go through several yards to reclaim my ‘knickers’ (as my friend Jules would say) and ended up in the yard of the manor house.  The husband of the woman who had inherited it all was there and we started chatting.  He was  Scottish, and had worked for BP all over the world.  Very interesting man.  Then he started talking about when they first got the place and started trying to clean and update it.  “I couldn’t believe the electrical box.  Wires coming out it from every where.  We started pulling wires.  Lights started going off in that little  house (pointing just outside the wall)  and then that one and then that one.”  Turns out that most of the village  was getting their electricity through his meter.  Ben and I snickered over that for the rest of the trip.

So this morning I was over to see how work was  going on our condo.  The electrician called me to show me this

 

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This is where my bathtub was.  The other side of the wall is a room owned by my neighbor.  Evidently this plug has been wired in to my electrical source for 30 some years.  I laughed and thought of that Scottish Frenchman.

Anyway, work started last week.  Just ripping out so far.  So this has become

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this.  Wow huh?  I guess I need to get busy and finish picking tile, cabinets and things.

Ben and I were both sick last week.  The whole week.  We are feeling better and got out today.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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