Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cooler days, new kitchen sink and tile, and Meyer lemons.

The end of September has brought cooler mornings, and clear blue sunny days! The Meyer lemon tree outside the kitchen door is full of fruit. I'm looking forward to our first harvest and first taste of Meyer lemonade. Meanwhile, we have decided on this lovely blue tile for the kitchen countertop and backsplash:

The focal point of the new kitchen will be the new fireclay farmhouse sink. Solid white porcelain, with an apron front. It's a beauty, and so heavy that we haven't been inclined to remove it from its nicely padded shipping box. There it will remain until it gets tiled into the new countertop beneath the kitchen window.

I can't wait to see it installed, along with the new cabinets and new tile countertop. The rough-in should be interesting, since the sink weighs about 140 pounds, empty! We found a local kitchen cabinetmaker who has drawn up a beautiful layout for us. We'll have their bid in hand next week. If we're happy with the price, it's just a matter of deciding on a wood finish and hardware, and then waiting 4-5 weeks for delivery.

There's no telling when the remodel will begin, since a lot depends on when the necessary fixtures, appliances, cabinets, and other materials arrive, because we're hoping to avoid construction delays by having everything on-site before the job starts. And that, of course, means final decisions must be made, and quickly, so that orders can be placed, and deliveries coordinated. But, each decision that's made brings our new kitchen a little closer, and it will be happening SOON!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our newest rose bed.

This front corner of our yard is very sunny and was full of weeds of types that grow nowhere else in the yard (which makes me think the soil is especially BAD in this particular spot).

But, it has now been transformed into a rose and herb garden (mainly a rose garden, but we needed a place for the basil), after much digging and cutting out tree roots (sorry, maple tree).

The concrete chunk flower bed border is my own design. I have similar beds elsewhere in our yard, mainly because for some inexplicable reason, our grass-covered driveway percolates up (belches? vomits?) chunks of concrete, from where I have no idea. But, they just keep coming. It's sort of a reverse sinkhole. I admit it was kind of unnerving at first, having blobs of concrete push up from beneath the grass, but now I wait until a few appear, then pry them out and stack them in a pile until they are needed.

The chunks are, oddly, nearly all triangular or trapezoidal in shape. Maybe someone who knows more about the physical properties of concrete can explain this. Maybe you can also explain the apparent anti-gravity property of concrete, too, while you're at it.

Nevertheless, most of the pieces are small enough to pick up and move easily. They work wonderfully as edging stones, seem to last forever, and, best of all: they are FREE!

Although I love to garden, I never tried to grow roses (standard hybrid roses, that is) until about 2 years ago, because the heat, humidity, fungus, and insects here in Florida make rose cultivation a high-maintenance, costly, and potentially toxic endeavor. Growing roses just never sounded, in my opinion, fun or relaxing. And, besides, my philosophy about plants has always been: plant it; if it lives, keep it. If it dies, don't buy one of those again. So, I always avoided roses, until....

I saw a tremendous wall of deep crimson roses in my next-door neighbor's yard, the neighbor whose yard is left "natural." The neighbor who doesn't own a lawnmower, doesn't water or use pesticides or store-bought fertilizer, yet somehow has amazing roses, and seemingly does NOTHING to them. Her secret? Old garden roses, which are not grafted and therefore grow from their own roots, unlike most nursery and mail-order roses. Own-root, antique roses are known to be hardy, even here in Florida. In fact, I have since become a collector of own-root Southern roses, and have several varieties that thrive here, including

Louis Philippe (my neighbor's crimson beauties), known locally as "Cracker roses." And, yes, that is where the Cottage got its name!

The photo above is of one of our just-planted Blush Noisettes, one of 3 in our various flower beds. Isn't she lovely? And blooming like mad after only being in the ground for one week!

Next big project: kitchen and bath remodel

Since our house is a circa-1940s wood frame Florida Cracker style home, we have decided to redo both the kitchen and bathroom in vintage 1920s to 1940s style. Classic 3x6" porcelain subway tile wainscoting, clawfoot tub, and hexagonal floor tile are part of the bathroom remodel plan.

A porcelain console sink like the one pictured above (except with a 3-hole faucet) will also be installed, and is packed in boxes in our 3rd bedroom ("the junk room"), awaiting the start of the bathroom remodel.

Owl in the garden. Whoo-whoo-whoo-cooks for you!

This juvenile barred owl found its way into our backyard. His wing was injured, and when we got a little too close, he clicked his beak and spread his good wing widely to try to scare us off. A red-shouldered hawk was perched nearby (which maybe had something to do with the wing injury). Mr. Owl was easily captured by flinging a bed sheet over him. Andrew and I had no problem crating him in the dog's travel kennel so that we could deliver him to the local wildlife rescue group. Barred owls are common around here, and they make quite a ruckus at night, calling back and forth with their monkey-like screeches and typical call: "whoo-whoo-whoooo-cooks-for-youuuuuuu!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Welcome to our blog!

Hello, we're Ally and Andrew, of Gainesville, Florida. We have enjoyed so many others' blogs, we thought we would start one of our own. Come back often for a visit, and thanks to all of you out there who take the time to share your own images and stories.