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Lasagna Gardening

July 12th, 2009

Have you guys ever heard of this before?  I just learned about it this week at our neighborhood garden meeting.  Mr. vB and I have been wanting to create our own garden for awhile now and this concept perked our interest even more.

So Lasagna Gardening is the concept of “a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that results in rich, fluffy soil with very little work from the gardener.” See more details here.  It’s referred to as lasagna gardening because of the layering effect.  You alternate the layering of brown items such as fall leaves, pine needles, and newspaper clippings with green items like grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and garden scraps.  How great is it that you can mix grass clippings, junk mail, coffee grinds, and banana peels and get FREE organic soil!!

Mr. vB and I have been debating about where to locate our new garden.  We decided the best spot would be right in front of the deck.  Now remember our backyard is about the size of a postage stamp.  We are trying to leave enough room for the Boots and the Bae-Bae to run around, but we would also like a few nice flower beds.  (I can’t believe I am actually posting a before photo of this area.  I haven’t done a good job tending to it and it looks horrible.)

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We figure that we could get a 12′ x 2′ raised bed and have it separated into two sections.  Mr. vB started by nailing a 12′ board directly to the deck.  It was my job to use to pick ax to dig up the weeds and even out the existing dirt.

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Then he added the 2 side pieces.

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And then the front piece.

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The finishing touch was the piece to separate the bed into 2 parts. (I am thinking one side for veggies and one side for flowers.  Mr. vB envisions the whole thing full of veggies.  We will see.)

And if you didn’t believe me before that our yard slopes to one side, this picture says it all.  There must be at least a 4-5″ difference between the right corner that is flush with the dirt and left corner that is hovering above the ground. (Don’t worry we aren’t going to leave it like this, we just ran out of lumber)

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The next step will be to fill in the beds with the brown and green layers.  We are also thinking about ditching the border that runs the length of the yard towards the back gate.  We can use the extra soil in our new raised beds and in it’s place we will just plant some more grass for the boys.  See below.

nix border(On a side note, Yes Boots is still wearing his head gear- which I am SO over.  He has lost his peripheral vision and is constantly banging that damn thing into a wall, my leg, or Bailey.  It makes the most wretched sound too.  We head back to the vet this week to hopefully hear that it can be removed.)

So we will keep you updated on the progress of our Lasagna Garden! Next weekend we are going to start the layering process.  It sounds pretty darn simple so we shall see!

P.S. If any of my local readers have some old newspapers they can part with let me know.  thanks!!

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Go Green!, Yard/Garden

So…

June 1st, 2009

I thought I would be an awesome wife this morning and let Mr. vB sleep in while I got up to feed the dogs and start the yard-work.  After a cup of coffee and some quick internet time, I was outdoors dragging out the lawnmower and the weed-eater.  Now I’m not sure if I mentioned before, but we have an awesome electric lawnmower.  It makes cutting the grass a snap as long as you don’t run over the extension cord.  (which I have done before!!)  The front yard takes about 5 runs and it’s done.. then on to the backyard which is just a smidge bigger.  Now remember my post about the purchase of the new electric weed-eater?  I still have not mastered the art of using it and that’s where I got into trouble.

Let me sum it up in two photos…

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Yeah- let me explain… So the first photo is of the corner of the garage.  Apparently I got a little too close to the vinyl siding with the weed eater.  All I could think was that Mr. vB was going to kill me.  Then the second photo is of the above ground sprinkler that we “had”.  One looks shorter than the other doesn’t it?  Yeah- I weed wacked it.

By the time Mr.vB awoke.. I had finished cutting and weed-eating both the front and the back yards.  And I was quite pleased with my work, minus the two issues i confessed to above.  Once I admitted them to Mr.vB, we apparently knew what we would be doing all day.  You guessed it- Installing an Under Ground Sprinkler System.  We have thrown the idea around for awhile, but this was the catalyst to get it going.  So off to Home Dept we went.

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10 Sprinkler Heads, 5 pvc pipes, and a bunch of “elbows and t’s” later we were ready to install an underground sprinkler system.  Luckily for us, Mr.vB’s brother used to manage a lawn care company where one of his main jobs was to install such systems.  He thankfully dropped by to make sure we knew what we were doing.

Here are some “Before” photos of the guys laying out all the pipes and sprinkler heads.

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Boots kept a close eye on the progress..

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The hardest part of the whole project was digging the trenches around the yard to bury the sprinklers and the pipes. Luckily it didn’t ruin the grass too much, but it will require more grass seed and TLC.  And keeping Boots and Bailey off it until the mud dries up!

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The final step will be took hook this new system into the rain barrel vs. the city water supply.  It will involve getting a pump, a timer, and some other fancy contraptions that only Mr. vB understands.  We are also planning to start a veggie garden either along the fence or in the patch of dirt in front of the deck.  But all that will have to wait until another weekend- my back is KILLIN from all that digging!!

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Go Green!, Home Improvement, Yard/Garden

More Windows

May 10th, 2009

So Mr. vB and I got two more replacement windows installed today.  We followed the same steps as we did for the ones in the living room, but I swear these went in even faster!

Here the windows are Before..

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One down, one more to go..

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And Viola.. the finished product.

Can you tell the windows are open? This is the very first time we have been able to do this!  The old ones were painted shut.

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Not sure if any of you caught that the first few photos were taken during the day, and this last one was at night.  That was because once we got the windows in, Mr. vB and I were hot and sweaty.  Being quite spontaneous, we drove down to the rivah to take a cruise on the new boat!! Had to show those photos too!

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Go Green!, Home Improvement

Busy Week..

April 26th, 2009

Sorry for being MIA for the past week.  I started to feel under the weather on Tuesday morning but chalked it up to the massive amount of pollen outside.  Then on Wednesday Mr. vB, the boys and I road tripped down to Raleigh, NC to see our favorite band- Dave Matthews.  We stayed with our good buddies, the Basham’s, who live right in Cary NC and love DMB just as much as we do.  (maybe more??)  It was a great show at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, but we could have done without the 45 degree temperature that night.  Thank goodness for the polar fleece’s we threw in the car last minute!

So anyways, the Basham’s also have two dogs that are like cousins to Boots and Bailey.  I couldn’t resist taking some photos of them running around in the back yard.  Mind you- Mr. Vb and I are TOTALLY envious of the Basham’s back yard.  It makes ours look like a postage stamp.  I don’t think Boots and Bailey actually knew that a backyard was for running around and playing in!! ha-ha

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So besides playing in the good weather on Thursday, we also made a point of going to one of the local Community Center’s in Cary to pick up a rain barrel.  Have you guys ever heard of these before? It is the concept of catching rain water from your gutters to reuse it to water your plants, yard, etc.  I had seen them on HGTV before and most recently on a post from ThisYoungHouse.com.  I had sent Mr. vB the link on how to make your own rain barrel and that got him doing a little Internet research.  He found out that the City of Cary is doing a really good job in regards to using “reclamied water” and is making it easy for local residents to do it as well.  (It didn’t hurt that they were selling the barrels for pretty darn cheap too!)  We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to scoop up one of these puppies at a bargain rate so in the car it went.  Here is a shot of the car once we got home and the boys were unloaded.

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As soon as we got home and unpacked, Mr. vB was itching to get the rain barrel system set up.  He took a few before and after photos that I will share with you, but I don’t believe he is totally finished yet.  The piping is all set up to catch the rain water, but he still wants to get a pump so that we can run our sprinkler system off this reused water vs. just having to fill up a watering can.  I will keep you updated with how that all goes.  Maybe I can even talk Mr. vB into doing a post himself… yeah right!  Here are the photos:

dsc_0138Please excuse the way the back of the house looks- it obviously is still a work in progress!  Here’s the main gutter off the back of the house.  We have a flat roof, as discussed in the earlier squirrel post, so all the water runs down this gutter.

dsc_01371Here’s the rain barrel’s new home.

Then Mr. vB removed the existing gutter pipes and ran new pipe across to the barrel and then back down to the drain for any overflow.

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Here’s a close up

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Having this reclaimed water to use on the yard and plants is definitely going to help our wallets!  Especially since I am suppose to be watering those seed mats twice a day for 15 mins.  (BTW still no grass sprouts yet!!)

So to finish my long recap of the week, what I thought was allergies became a full blown respiratory thingy.. full of coughing, sneezing, loss of voice, etc.  I hate to be stuck indoors on this absolutely gorgeous weekend, but the thought of doing anything majorly strenuous outside is very unappealing.  Plus I am TOTALLY addicted to the Twilight books my mom got for me.  There are four books total in the series and I have already read two, in one week.  Yes- you read that correctly- each book is about 560 pages and I read both in one week.  I admit it- I am a grown woman that is infatuuated with a finctional teenage vampire.  We will discuss the pros and cons of this at a later date.

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Go Green!, Home Improvement, Yard/Garden

Bringing the outdoors in…

April 13th, 2009

Might sound harder than you think.  I always enjoy having cut flowers in the house, but decided that to be more budget conscious maybe I should start getting flowering plants instead.

Here’s an easy “how to” of bringing outdoor plants in.  (especially since the last frost is still predicted up until mid April)

STEP ONE

Purchase some flowering plants that can work indoors as well as out.  I purchased some great Geraniums and Gebera Daisies from my local Costco.  10 plants were only $27 bucks… now that’s a steal!

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STEP TWO

Find some cute pots or platters to arrange your plants.  Also pick up some Spanish moss from your local craft store or florist/greenhouse to help hide the plastic containers the flowers come in.

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STEP THREE

Arrange the plants on the platter and then add the Spanish moss around the base.  Or just plop the plant in the pot! (Can’t get much easier than that!!)

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Viola, instant home beautification!  Happy Planting!

(PS. Don’t forget these babies still need water and full sun even when indoors!!)

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Go Green!, Home Improvement, Yard/Garden

2 down, 14 to go..

April 5th, 2009

So Lowe’s called this morning and the first of our replacement windows were ready for pickup!  Perfect timing as the weather was going to be sunny and in the high 70′s today.

It was so hard to say good-bye to those original 1920′s single pane windows. (NOT) They were so energy UN-efficient that we swear we could see the $$ floating right through them. Mr.vB  couldn’t wait to start ripping those suckers out!

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Replacement windows are actually pretty easy to install yourself.  (We had a friend, who installed his own, give us a quick tutorial before we got started.)  If you feel comfortable with power tools you can do it, otherwise I would leave it to the professionals.

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Instead of throwing these suckers out, we are going to see if our local salvage shop will buy/take them from us.  Just Keeping it Green peeps- don’t forget the 3 R’s.. Reduce, REUSE, Recycle.

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Here Mr.vB is smoothing out the opening so we can just slide the replacement window into place.  I don’t actually have a picture of us sliding it into place because it took 2 people to do so.  I am working on training Boots how to work the camera, but he hasn’t caught on quite yet.  Anyways, the window slid in like a glove, and with 6 screws later the window was in place!  And on to the next.

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Mr. vB went through the same process, with a few lessons learned, and the second window took half the time the first one did.

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Here is the Finished Look!

dsc_0126We purchased the ones that have the panes at the top of the window, so they at least look like the original ones.  And from the outside they will all match until we can get the upstairs ones replaced.  They also came with a full screen so we can either open the window from the bottom or the top! So FANCY!

But from the inside you can’t really tell a difference, besides the fact that the windows actually OPEN!

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The plan is to continue buying 2 windows a month, so that by winter time we will be much more energy efficient!! I know Dominion Power and Richmond Public Utilities will be sad to see our large payments be cut in half, but I won’t!!  Also just a reminder that you can get Energy Efficiency tax credits from the Department of Energy for installing things like energy efficient windows, insulation and doors.

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Go Green!, Home Improvement

The Container Store- a little slice of organized heaven.

April 4th, 2009

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Have you guys ever been to a Container Store before?  If you love to organize things, you would LOVE this place!! The closest one to me is located outside of Washington DC, so obviously I don’t get up there as often as I would like. (Luckily they are also online.)

I did however make a stop there today!  Every time I go in there I feel like a kid in a candy store.  I don’t know what it is, but the thought of all those boxes, and files, and containers just makes me happy.  Anyways, back to my visit today.  Per normal, the minute I walked in the door of the store, whatever mental list of things I wanted to pick up totally escaped me.  Instead, I walked up and down every aisle drooling looking at everything.

Here are two of my top picks from today..

1. Flip and Tumble 24-7 Bag

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This goes along great with my earlier post about reduce reuse recycle.  I have plenty of larger bags to accommodate groceries, but nothing small to stash in my purse for those quick dashes into Target or Marshalls.  This bag is great because it folds neatly into this little ball that can go into your purse.  It then unfolds to a bag that has a padded shoulder strap and can hold up to 25 lbs!!

It also comes in 4 great colors.  I went with the chocolate/blue combo but might have to get the lime green/turquoise combo on my next visit!!

2. Rectangular Crunch Can by Umbra

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I thought this was a great idea for a laundry basket. It beats the standard basket by being able to fold flat when not in use.

I think it could also be put to use when traveling, camping, etc.  A great overall bag that will hold a lot, but not take up a lot of space.

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It’s a good thing for my wallet/budget that this store is so far away.  I could have walked out of that place with cart loads of organizational tools, but i refrained. Be very proud Mr. vB. Until the next time Container Store.. xoxo.

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Go Green!, Organization

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

March 15th, 2009

Thought I would try to inspire a little “green” in everyone today on this very dreary, rainy Richmond day.

I have gotten very into the 3 R’s over the past several months. I’m speaking of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle of course.

And apparently it has not gone unnoticed. Mr. vB gave me this handy pocket guide for Valentine’s day..

green-living-for-dummiesGreen Living for Dummies- Pocket Edition

I have also been very conscious of taking my reusable cloth bags into the grocery store so I can help limit the number of plastic and paper bags that I bring home.  I just leave the bags in my car so they are there when I need them.  It’s quite easy!  In case you aren’t on this bandwagon yet, here are some cute reusable bags that might just inspire you to start!

collapsable-bag I found these online at Garnet Hill (garnethill.com).  These are great bags because they are super light weight, collapsible and you can fit a TON of groceries into them.  And they don’t have to be used just for groceries.  You could use it for a picnic, a trip to the beach, oh the possibilities are endless!

They appear to be abit pricey at this site, but I found multiple other vendors online by just googling Collapsible Grocery Basket.

I even found the one I use at TJMAXX for just $10 buckaroos!  Now that’s a steal.

This is another cute reusable bag I found in my latest issue of Rachel Ray Everyday.  It is from www.funktionhome.com.

How cute are all these patterns?  They even say Reduce, Reuse, Recylce on them!

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Feeling green yet??

Thought I would leave you with a quote from my handy little pocket guide.

Small Steps, consistently taken, will make a difference.

Go For It!

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Go Green!