Thursday, September 27, 2012

crushing on....

For the first time ever, we have grapes on one of our grapevines.... I've been watching out for these all summer, ever since I noticed the tiniest of clusters forming.


They're very sweet to eat...

And no where near enough for crushing... even if they were a variety for winemaking.

I guess our wet spring, dry summer and still very dry beginning of fall were just what these little guys were waiting for....

And I can hardly wait to see the leaves turn fabulous, autumn-y shades of yellow and gold!


linking up to

Cottage Garden Party

Friday, September 21, 2012

Life in black and white



In our prior two home I've had spots for "gallery" walls of personal and family photos.  In our first home, a 1960's era ranch it was the hallway to the bedrooms...  In our last home, a 1970's era split level, it was a feature wall in our family room and I had updated the idea to a gallery of just black and white photos... mostly vintage photos but a few new photos that I had changed to black and white format.  In my little 1920's house here at Red Gate Farm I didn't have a good wall space to have my gallery.  Our hallway is very short and full of doorways... I didn't want one in our only living spaces, the living room or dining room, but soon realized the small area at the top of the stairs would be ideal.... and it's only taken me 7 plus years to get it done!

Our house was built in the 1920's but did have a few updates done in the 50's... think gold speckled laminate and real linoleum floors complete with more gold specks.  It also had a bit of a "lift" done to make the upstairs habitable.  They actually lowered the ceiling on the first floor to give a bit more room to the upstairs. They also added a dormer in the stairwell area... the windows you see are actually a dormer area giving enough headroom to be able to come up the stairs.  Somehow in all this renovation a little ledge was created along the stairwell... a perfect spot for my gallery wall... or to collect crap which is what it has done for the last 7 plus years!

With the wedding over and wanting to use some of the frames and this funky little shelf, I knew it was time to finally get this project completed!

Three or four years ago I came across these two cabinet doors at a garage sale... for $3 a piece.  At the time I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them... perhaps a chalkboard?  Or a hanging rack of some kind?  Even a pin up board?  Then I came across a picture in a Pottery Barn catalog of black and white photos and frames... with an AQUA colored wall!  I knew exactly what I was going to do with these doors... not wanting to paint this wall I decided to find some aqua fabric and make a sort of pin up board but use it for some of my collection of black and white photos!  I found the perfect aqua linen online at fabric.com.

And see how cool these doors are?  The knobs actually are the screws.... I've never, ever seen knobs like this before.  The guy I bought these from showed me this since he thought I was buying the doors just for the glass knobs...

First I washed my fabric... being linen it came out of the dryer nice and soft and wrinkly.... just like I wanted.  The I cut down pieces of foam core to fit in the inset part of the door.

And got some removable strips to attach the foam core to the doors... (notice how nice and wrinkly the fabric is now?)

I did a bang up job of covering the foam core with the fabric... so very nice and neat...  I had to resort to my green frog tape since I couldn't find any other tape in my house....

The push pins were actually one of the hardest things to find.  I wanted the short push pins that are usually labelled as "map pins".... and I wanted just black heads... of course the package I finally found had more red than black!

Now it was time to narrow down the selection of photos to go on my boards...  there's me and my husband when we were just 17.... and yes, my glasses were the HUGE kind from the early 80's.  My husband's baby pic, as well as one of my sisters and I on our swing set.

And some of you may not know... but my name is actually "Ruth Christine" and I go by the shortened version of my middle name... so a few years back I couldn't resist a photo of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse... and a picture of my great-aunt that I am named after...

Our home, Red Gate Farm, circa 1940....

My kid's silhouettes from Disneyland along with another baby shot of my husband complete with cowboy hat... and me at about age one... yep, those are glasses on a baby and I still have curls in my hair!

My husband's grandfather and his team of horses that he farmed with on plains of Saskatchewan.

My own babies at two and four.

It was tough narrowing down the photos... I finally went with one door with the more "yellow toned" black and whites...

And one door with the more "white" black and whites...

The space above the ledge is higher than it looks and awkward so I needed a bit of help hanging most of the items... from my much taller husband.

I added a few non picture items like my  frame of vintage silver sewing scissors that were my grandmother's and great-grandmother's.

I also used a vintage clipboard to hold an old photo of my then 17 year old husband on his motorcycle... well he wasn't my husband and 17 but you know what I mean... The large black and white photo is of the ski area at Mt. Baker... a much sought after spot in Washington state... especially by snowboarders.

The funky little shelf was used at my daughter's wedding... painted a charcoal kind of grey to fit in with all of the chalkboards...  originally the idea was for it to hold cupcakes at the wedding but that changed as things do... it's full of milk glass and silver pieces...

Pieces like my kid's silver baby cups....

And I like that tarnished silver is an acceptable look now... since all of mine is!

I like how the arrangement came out... the doors were actually hung be the hinges that were still attached... and the aqua works well with my vintage looking wallpaper which is another wall of this area....

And even the ledge was put to work... holding additional black and white photos in many of the frames that were collected to use in the wedding decor.

So although I like life in color... a little bit of black and white is a nice change of pace,


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the gardens, on the last days of summer...

This summer was a challenging year in the gardens... first the rainy days of June and then the flurry of wedding preparations in July and August... spending time "recovering" from the wedding.... and more recently, and hard to believe, spending most of my "garden time" watering!  Yes, we haven't had much rain in the rainy state of Washington, this past July, August and now September.  I hesitate to go as far as to say I'm hoping for a little rain since it may never leave once it comes back!

We, and by we I mean not me, worked on a number of projects around Red Gate Farm this summer.  First up was installing my fancy wire garden fence that was my birthday present last year, as in 2011.  The garden first had to have a concrete "curb" installed because you have to have something to mow and edge around... and then posts were installed.  The garden gate I had hanging on my living room wall was put to use as an actual gate for the garden...

It had to go in first to make sure the posts were spaced correctly...

Finally, a project to be completed on my July birthday for 2012, was the actual fence installation.... my mom and I were out and about shopping that day...

And my husband didn't like the way the first half was going in.... it was a bit saggy around the top... and being a type A kind of guy, this was bugging him.  So back to the drawing or planning board... the first half is still all that was installed, but actually worked out well since we didn't get the irrigation/watering system in the garden this summer and watering with a hose, with even half the fence in place, was a bit of a challenge!

And that gate that came down?  Well of course I was on the hunt for another one since I really liked the gate  in my living room.... I found another at a local store, Grandiflora, it was very similar but the size was slightly different.  It's a bit narrower and taller than the previous gate....

I think I like it a bit better so that worked out well.... and of course I added a little something to it  for summer....

And now fall...

Another big project, and really what has been the impetus for all of the other projects this summer, has been an irrigation or watering system at Red Gate Farm.  My husband has installed systems at all of our previous homes and I can't believe that he held off for almost 8 years!  Of course this is the first time we've been on a well so that added a challenge and this system is much larger due to a much larger (around 4 acres) yard.

Getting a new irrigation system in place is for the eventual replacing and redoing of all of our grassy areas... this means planning ahead for elevations since my husband loves a FLAT and I mean FLAT yard... think golf green... So he's been busy putting in a new well pump, irrigation systems, concrete curbing (including the veg garden and fence above) as well as a retaining wall for the driveway....  This meant moving an existing flower bed that was full of roses and iris that needed to be temporarily transplanted....


 And you may notice that I did NO weeding whatsoever in anticipation of this project....


 The boys even got to play with the tractor for part of the project...

My son finally was able to usurp my husband's position on the tractor... having a little more tractor experience, I'm sure it was driving him crazy to watch his father try his hand at this part of the project....

 You can see here that our sandy loam soil gives way to straight sand in this location!


And the wall begins.... we installed a retaining wall at a prior home and it was also a huge project... of course my husband spends a lot of time making sure it is PERFECTLY level... I on the other hand spent about 2 minutes time helping fill in the back side of the bricks with sand...

 A string to stay on track...

This part got installed and then uninstalled.... there was a section that wasn't quite perfect and although most people, including me, would never notice it drove my husband crazy!

The roses will return eventually... there will be a flower bed along the front of the wall for roses... with a curb of course in the front for mowing along the driveway!





I think we could have a sand castle building event with all of this sand... what do you think?

A couple of Pinky Winky Hydrangeas have been added at the bottom of the wall.... they are "sun loving" hydrangeas and hopefully will love this south facing spot.  Of course we amended the sand soil here before we planted them


I can't wait to harvest a few of these next summer!

I also liked that the branches/stems on this variety are a reddish color!

And speaking of hydrangeas.... my Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea by the barn has grown quite a bit.  Very similar to the Pinky Winky variety.

And the barn?   Well of course it got "curbs" too.  In the form of flower beds all along the east and west sides of the barn in anticipation of that holy grail... the perfectly flat lawn.

Since we didn't have much in the way of plants to add I filled the bed in with extra sunflowers that I had started from seed.

As always, the Teddy Bear variety is one of my favorites...

I even grew a few tall ones in the garden.

This dry July and August meant beautiful dahlias.  Most of my dahlias are grown in the front of our long chicken coop building.  It faces south and with the roof overhang, this bed stays very dry.  I don't dig my dahlia tubers up but leave them in the ground over the winter.  Most of them come back each year since the warmth of the south wall and the dry conditions are ideal.  My white "dinner plate" variety was unbelievable this year....

This small peachy colored one is perfect for fall flower arrangements and is still going strong.

A large purple variety did very well this summer but is actually next to the garage.

I filled in other spots along the chicken coop with left over zinnias....

And now that I've brought up Zinnias.... check out this one...

It was one of my absolute favorites this year... the petals are so different.  They are a "giant" variety and have very frilly petals.  Although they were to come in many colors mine were just a bright pink, white and a reddish color....

So although the wedding took center stage this summer... the gardens didn't totally get neglected.

This warm, dry late summer... almost fall, weather means I still have time to enjoy the fruits of my labor... and of course, continue to drag that hose around to water...


linking up to

Cottage Garden Party