April 30, 2010

What A Little Mulch Can Do

We’ve recently started getting our patio in shape for summer.  The planter beds we have on each side of the patio were filled with weeds and various debris that collected throughout the winter, so we spent a few hours on a sunny Saturday weeding.

After the area was weeded, the planters still didn’t look clean and finished.  So we add some mulch.  Since our patio wasn’t finished until the end of last summer, this is the first time we’ve been able to mulch.  And check out the difference a little mulch can make!

The bland before:flower_beds

spring gardening

And the mulched and refreshed after!

mulch garden

With 2-3 bags of mulch, we were able to quickly and cheaply make the patio look cleaner and more refined:

mulch planters

Of course, there is still a lot of flowers we need to plant and work to be done in the yard, but adding mulch was a quick start!  Have you added mulch to your yard?  Any tips to quickly and cheaply revitalize the look of your outdoor spaces?

April 27, 2010

Strawberry Container Gardening

I can't help but be excited about spring this year.  You may have picked up on this considering I started planning my garden back in February!  Last year at this time (and through most of the summer) my backyard was just a plot of grass without a patio, fence, or any landscaping.  But after a long summer of heavy work, this year we are ready to enjoy our new backyard and I finally have a place to try out some gardening. 

Although I no longer plan to create a raised bed vegetable garden in my yard like my original backyard plan indicated (something about a hungry puppy makes that sound like a bad idea), I plan to try my luck with small space and container gardening to grow fruits and vegetables.  I have a few creative ideas planned for container gardens and patio garden planters so stayed tuned.

This weekend, I started my first expedition in growing an edible garden by planting strawberries in a window planter box.  I bought 2 Bonnie Sequoia strawberry plants from Lowes and planted them into a plastic window container I already had.

The strawberries came in biodegradable pots that could be planted directly into my container which made the process super easy.  The Bonnie website has a great video showing a step by step guide to planting fruits and vegetables from these pots and some tips about growing strawberries.


The past few days have been cold and rainy in my neck of the woods, so for now I have my newly planted strawberries inside on a windowsill, but I plan on moving them outside tomorrow once the temperature picks up.


Have you ever tried  strawberry container gardening or grown other fruits and vegetables in containers?  Any tips to share?  One of my concerns is figuring out how to keep birds from eating my strawberry crop once they grow.  Any advice for this newbie gardener?

April 22, 2010

Earth Day Green Living Tips

Happy Earth Day! While I love the idea of Earth Day, the Earth would really be a better place if people showed it some more respect year-round! Here are some easy green living household tips to be Earthy friendly year-round:

Don't buy bottled water! When we installed a new sink and faucet in our kitchen, we were sure to include a small faucet for a water filter. It provides us with fresh, purified water for drinking and even to use while cooking. Instead of plastic water bottles, I just re-fill a reusable aluminum water bottle with water from our filter. Re-usable aluminum or stainless steel water bottles have gotten less expensive and you can usually find one for under $10 like this nice one from Target.

Eat Earth Friendly!  Many people may be surprised to learn that not eating meat is the single greatest thing you can do to minimize your carbon footprint. The meat industry is one of the biggest pollutants in the world and a United Nations report found that it is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." Raising meat requires a huge amount of resources with the amount of land it requires, water used, grain fed to animals, gases emitted, and fuel used to transport. The meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined! Not ready to give up meat? Try cutting back by not eating meat one day a week, this is easier than it sounds and can make a huge difference on the environment. You can also minimize your impact on the environment by buying food locally and growing your own fruits and veggies. Read more at Choose Veg and Go Veg.

Use recyclable shopping bags! I think most of us are doing this by now, but if you're not, get with the program! Not only are these more Earth-friendly than using plastic/paper bags, but they are also much more convenient as they are sturdier and hold more than the bags you get at the grocery store. I keep a few re-usable shopping bags in the car so I have them with me whenever I got to the store. And remember, they're not just for the grocery store, use them when shopping at other stores too. They're usually about $1, but this week at Walgreens you can snag 3 bags for $1 with this printable coupon.

Recycle! We all know it's important to recycle, but did you know that you can recycle light bulbs, clean aluminum foil, pie tins, and single use and rechargeable batteries? Check with your local township to see what types of items they recycle and the proper process to do so. For the usual recyclables, like paper, plastics, and glass, I found that putting plastic bins right in my kitchen pantry to create an easy recycling station made recycling easier and more convenient. Check out Earth 911 for more information on what types of things can be recycled.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day and to live Earth friendly? Many companies have Earth Day promotions for today. Today only, you can get your printer ink cartridge refilled at Walgreens for just $1, get a free bottle of facial cleanser from Origins, and win some great prizes from Earth 911!

April 02, 2010

Modern Home Decor Fun

I love many different types of home decorating styles: Traditional, Contemporary, Cottage, Coastal, Zen, French, Moroccan, Tropical, Modern, just to list a few. And although I love to pour over photos of rooms designed in these many different styles, I wouldn't necessarily choose each of these styles for my own home. Not to mention, it would look pretty wacky if I had all of these decorating styles going on at once in my home.

So although I enjoy ultra modern homes and think they're very cool, it's not how I've chosen to decorate my own house and I prefer a more lived-in look for myself. Which is probably why I think the blog, Unhappy Hipsters, which I recently discovered is so funny. It light-heartedly pokes some fun modern homes gone too far. What's better than the cool photos, are the funny captions they add.

"The black hole had sucked everything out of the playroom. Save his sister or the coloring books? He made a split-second decision." - Unhappy Hipsters- Dwell Photo

"In their nuptial vows, they’d promised to never conceal anything, to remain completely open to one another. But the prison-style shower remodel wasn’t the anniversary gift she’d hoped for."
- Unhappy Hipsters - Dwell Photo

 "From her plywood perch she surveyed the new, clean world she’d created for herself. And it was perfect." - Unhappy Hipsters - Dezeen Photo

Since we're already poking fun at the modern hipster lifestyle (all in good fun of course), Hipster Puppies is another funny site with photos and captions like these:

"Perry could have easily informed the waiter that his order was wrong, but has decided to just write a bad Yelp review instead" - Hipster Puppies

 "Bernie moved to san francisco because it was more “laid back” and “anti-consumerist” than new york, but still manages to drink two cups of starbucks a day" - Hipster Puppies

Have you discovered any funny websites recently?  What do you think about very modern home decor and the "hipster" movement?