Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yard Sale

The Yard Sale was in full swing this morning. 

Jenny and Scott came over and helped put everything together, and Abbey eventually surfaced to go buy us some lovely donuts for sustenance.

We're a bit off the beaten path, so we didn't have as much traffic as we would have liked. But we still did quite well. Almost everything went. We just had a few things left that we took to the Good Will afterwards.

Rachael has a few more dollars in her pocket for her trip to Wales and I have a few less things to store in the spare room, which I hope will be my craft room. So we are both very happy, but very tired.
We are ending June with a lazy, sleepy afternoon.

~Blessings, Sue

A little crochet time

On a trip to our local craft store the other day with Miss Rachael to get paint supplies for a project she's doing for our church, guess what I brought home? It wasn't paint, but some lovely new balls of yarn! I can't wait to get started. It's been much to warm to continue working on my zig zag blanket.

The multi colored baby yarn will be a little something for my cousins baby girl whose getting christened in August while we are visiting. I'm looking forward to the large family gathering. The blue yarn will be for a little hat for another other cousin's little girl. Her favorite color is blue.

Miss Rachael convinced me to make her another hat for the cold Wales winter. Apparently you can never have too many hats. It's looking good so far, but it's not a pattern I've used before. It's a pattern Rachael found online called Crocheted Camelot Shell Cap. I'm not sure where she found it to share the link with you. I will post another photo when it's finished.

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.

~Blessings, Sue

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Made My Day!

I got a sweet text message from my oldest daughter yesterday!

"Hey Mama. I read all your blogs today at lunch and I really enjoyed them!
What was the reasoning behind keeping us anonymous again?"

It was really sweet that she took time out of her lunch to read all my blog posts.
I really appreciate the fact that she enjoyed reading them. That means so much to me.
My writing is not in vain.

Why did I keep my family anonymous???
I'm not sure really!
A little mystery maybe??
After all it's not like the girls are still little and I have to protect them, 
they are all grown women with websites of their own. 
Oh my.... my babies are women.
How did that happen?
And right before my very eyes!

I hope my visitors are enjoying reading my blogs as much as my daughter Jenny did.

Why not leave a comment and make my day! :D

Step by Step.

Step by Step, every little bit helps. 
At the beginning of the year we worked on getting the sprinklers in the ground. Doing little things like putting in sprinklers takes so much more time than you think. 
Anyway in March we were ready to plant grass seed! I was so excited....... 
One of my dreams finally......

Look the lovely little seedlings were starting to pop up! 

Then the rains came and washed away a lot of our hard work. And Boy, when it Rains in California it Pours!  The ground is so dry the water mostly sits on the top and pools. 
So we have been fighting the good fight with sporadic grass but plenty 
of weeds thanks to the fertilizer we put down first.
Oh weeds how I dislike you!

In the last couple of weeks we have been trying to clear some of the rocks off the bank so we can plant......yes, my precious flowers at long last. Hubby had the idea of using some of many rocks that still remain to make tiered planters so it would be easier to plant. The more we cleared those darn rocks the more we found. But using the rocks to build mini dry walls was just exhausting and so time consuming. My attempt at wall building was really bad, they kept falling down and I was getting rather frustrated with them. So I had this great idea of buying cheap cement blocks to make tiers. After all when the plants grow in you're not going to see them right??? Well that's my theory anyway! We went to our local hardware store and bought 30 to see if they would work. When we saw that they looked okay, B. sent me back on my own to buy 40 more, because if I went on my own the young guys would not only load them on the cart for me, they would also load them into the bed of the the truck. He was right and it saved us both a lot of extra work.

We had to put up a canopy for some much needed shade. I know my british family and friends will be wishing they had this sun too! As much as I love the sunshine, the heat does get too much sometimes. Not that I'm complaining mind you, I'm really not a rainy day person. But when the heat gets too much we have to close up the house, shut all the windows and doors and put the air conditioning on. To me it might as well be raining outside. I love it when it's just right and I can throw open all the doors and windows and hear the birds singing and children playing.

The tiered planters are starting to come together now. 
Oh and do you see our trees along the fence line??? 
Look how big and bushy they have gotten in just over a year.
 Maybe next year we won't need the bamboo fencing.

Leveling and weeding as we go and tossing the large rocks further up the top.

Almost ready!!!!
Off we go to the garden center to take a look at what plants we could finally plant.
Do you know, after waiting sooooo long to be able to choose plants, I found it was really quite overwhelming. So many plants to choose from!!! Oh dear, where do I start??? 
I had no idea!

We came home with a few plants, Geraniums, Lavender, Alyssum, Lobelia,  and Petunias! 
Yes, I went to safe route. I bought a few plants I knew and bought some safe bedding plants. 

They look so bright and colorful sitting on the wall, but it's not enough to fill up the planter.
We bought some good soil to help the plants grow and on our next trip to the garden center that same day, we bought a few more plants. Let me see what else did we get..... 
Mexican Heather-Lavender Lace, Tiger Eye Rudbekia, Dwarf Canna, a Dahlia or two, Bowles Periwinkle, Violet Cloud Hybrid Skullcap, Osterospermum High Voltage-also known as African Daisies, and two Mexican Evening Primroses.

To be on the safe side I bought a few more bedding plants, some Vinca as they are doing so well in the front garden, Angelonia,  although I'd never heard about it or seen it before, but it looked pretty just sitting there, and last but not least some bright colorful zinnia's.

It's all starting to come together.
We still need lots and lots of more plants, but that will have to wait until after we come back from our trip to Wales otherwise we won't have enough spending money while we are there. 
I will have to do some research first I think or ask my green fingered friends for help maybe.

The last two weekends we have spent cleaning up the upper paddock as we like to call it. 
It's still very much a wilderness up there as you can see.

It looks quite barren up there except for the odd fruit tree here and there.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us! 

But for now I will just sit with a nice cold drink and enjoy my little splash of color. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

What's In a Name?

I bet you were wondering why I named my blog 'Half Acre Wilderness', weren't you? Well, let me tell you! We moved here 12 years ago and the back garden looked really nice when we viewed the house, but after we moved in, the closer we looked the worse it looked. Yikes, what had we gotten ourselves into?

So let me take you on a little tour of what it's looked like through the last several years. 

Upon first glance the whole garden looked really nice, but as we dug in deeper, we began to see it with a different set of eyes. The Deck looked nice, but on closer inspection we saw it was really run down, nails popping up all over the place with worn, weathered wood and lots of potential splinters. It rocked back and forth a little especially with teenagers using it as a dance stage. Although they did have lots of fun that day! I loved the bright yellow roses that were climbing up on it. I think you can just about make them out in the back ground. But this deck just wasn't practical.

Our golden retriever Caldey (sadly he got so old we had to say goodbye two years ago) found a comfortable spot on the old mattresses while we were getting new beds delivered. In the back-ground you can see more of our wilderness. 
Originally the narrow path was edged on both sides with 6 foot posts every few yards with climbers trying their best to climb up them.  The bees loved them, but the girls didn't!  They were so close together it made it difficult to walk through and the girls were afraid of getting stung and refused to go up the garden path! So they were the first plants to go. The climbing frame was the other side of the garden which was in worse state than the deck and even more dangerous.

Beyond the deck and climbing frame are fruit trees and what used to be a lawn. We soon discovered that the lawn had more weeds than grass and the sprinkler pipes that were laid on top of the ground, for some unknown reason were sooo sun baked it didn't take much for them to crack. Also the water line that fed the sprinklers burst early one morning as we were getting ready to go out for the day and water was gushing down the narrow path. Water had to be turned off and pipes capped.  No Water = Dead Lawn! Dead Lawn = Thriving Weeds!!!! And Oh Boy do those weeds GROW!

In October 2003 the hills behind our home caught on fire and spread with the winds very, very quickly! 
Hubby was working away out of state and I was afraid that the deck and climbing frame might catch fire and sparks would jump to the roof of the house. It was a scary day! But thankfully the house, deck and climbing frame were safe! Lots and lots of clean up to do afterwards though.

The climbing frame and deck was our next job for removal. We cut back a lot of trees too, some were very old and had termites in them. We rented a wood chipper, as seen below, and a large digger, (but I couldn't find any photos of the digger to show you. I'm pretty sure they have to be around here somewhere). I was allowed to take my turn at operating the digger! :-) Oh we've also rented jackhammers too! So much work, but oh so much fun! Especially when it was my turn to play!

At the back of the pool used to be Bottle Brush Bushes,  also know as Bee Bushes in our house, they too came out after the girls kept screaming when bees flew near them while they were swimming. They are messy plants and not fun to clean out of the pool either, I can tell you. We started to dig back the dirt behind the pool and used the oh so many rocks to build our first retaining wall. Not bad for our very first attempt I must say!

Our wall building progress through the next couple of years! SO MANY ROCKS!!!!!  What else were we going to do with all those rocks? Whose idea was it to have a large back garden?? Oh yes OURS! Whatever were we thinking? Whose idea was it to live on the side of a mountain?? Oh yes OURS again!

We unearthed some pretty large rocks, some we were able to move by rolling and pushing them with brute force together, some were just too large to move so we smashed them the best we could.

Others were just too stubborn to crack with the sledge hammer, we had to tirelessly chip away at them! What a pain that was! Crack you silly rock!

We have worked so incredibly hard on this back yard. Cleaning up ours and our neighbors tree branches, cutting back our neighbors ivy that climbs over the wall relentlessly every year, pulling tons and tons of weeds and spraying a ton more weeds. Having a big back garden is very labor intensive indeed.

Have you ever wanted something so bad, and dreamt huge dreams????? I have! My 'half acre wilderness' has been one of my huge dreams..... I've dreamed of how it would look and what we could do here or there. Sometimes I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, only for it to be dashed away again! Something else comes along and demands our time or our money! I want a pretty back garden, with pretty flowers, and somewhere where I can relax and not work so hard. Not much to ask, Right?

We used to ask the girls when they were young teenagers to come out and help us pull weeds after all we were doing this for them to have a nice back yard too, weren't we?....... ha ha! Two have moved out and the third one is about to leave and we are still working on this wilderness. We tried bribing them to pull weeds.... "for every weed you pull out we'll give you 5 cents". That didn't last very long either. Sleeping in and watching TV on a Saturday morning was much more inviting to teenage girls. What were we thinking?? :-)

March of last year! Wall was finally finished, rusty old pool fence long gone and we were ready for some privacy so the girls, now mostly in their twenties, could feel comfortable swimming without being seen. I took these photo's so that we could take them with us to the garden centers and nurseries to ask for their help as to what to plant. We wanted something that was fast growing, an evergreen, but didn't have huge spreading roots that would eventually damage the wall or the pool.

From my kitchen window it felt like we were living in a gold fish bowl. We eventually found some Carolina Cherry Trees  that are evergreen and planted six of them to see how they would grow in our rocky, sandy soil. They took their time but have grown in quite well so far. We put bamboo panels behind them until they have established, it's given us our much needed privacy. I was very happy when we had finished, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel once more.

Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to take you on a little tour of my half acre wilderness.
I will be back soon with more news on our progress this year! I hope you will be as excited as I am.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Long Over Due

I chose yesterday (I know the date on my photos say the 19th, but it was yesterday I promise) to sort through and clean up my and B's room. It was loooong over due.
Laundry has been getting done, but not folded, or put away! If only I didn't procrastinate!
So I got down to work and worked all day, folding, sorting and putting away clothes. Then something I'd been meaning to do for a long time I managed to re-arrange all the furniture in the room. It's amazing how many dust bunnies we collect!

I found this under a pile of clothes on the dresser, that came from among Miss R's things. So sweet!
I wish I had taken the time back then to put dates and names on everything that came home from school, with four kids it's hard to keep track of things, let alone remember who wrote or drew what.
I wish I knew how old she was then. Kindergarten?? First Grade?? Maybe!!

Bed stripped and sheets in the washing machine and clothes all folded. I managed to do six loads of laundry in between cleaning and moving heavy furniture. I felt very productive.

I got into trouble from B for moving the armoire and dresser on my own. 
But I did have help moving the bed frame and mattress from Miss R and Miss A.
The floor sparkled with wonderful Murphy's soap and mixed with the smell of good old furniture polish the room smelt wonderful and fresh. I was extremely exhausted and I was looking forward to climbing in my yummy bed of fresh clean sheets. I love the smell of clean sheets. Don't you?
A relaxing day today? I think not, errands to run and Miss A to run around too as I need my car!
 Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Under Construction

The Mom Cave is 'Under Construction!'
On the 9th, 10th and 11th of June, (yes it took that long) Miss R and I spent all that time sorting and going through ALL her things in preparation for her moving to the UK!

Who knew a 25 year old could have so much stuff! But when you're an artist, who wants to try so many different things, who can blame her. We went through boxes and boxes, one after another and sorted lots of things out to give away, sell, and trash.

 Miss R going through her things, no I didn't blur the photo on purpose, that's what happens when I take photo's without my glasses on! :) But I guess it saved me the trouble.

So much stuff! Plus tons of canvas's from her college days that she brought in from the garage to go through. I forgot to take photos of all those. They're still sitting in my hallway waiting for her to decide what to do with them. Suitcases, we will be needing those in a few weeks for our trip. 
We're getting very excited. It's coming up fast.

All the things at the foot of the bed is ready for a yard sale, plus two tubs of books. Her sister Mrs J said she would come and help with the yard sale, as her Dad said after our last and only yard sale, 
Never Again! But Miss R can use all the money she can get to add to her savings until she can find a job in the UK! I have a feeling I will be pulled into selling things too.

This is just some of the trash that we had to try and get rid of! There were 5 large bags and quite a bit of recycling too! She had a tub full of old magazines that went into the recycle bin. I was surprised the trash men took it as it was quite heavy.

Finally room to bring in the desk! Well, just about! It's still under construction with art supplies that I inherited (thank you Miss R) to sort out and put away! 
The spare room/storage room will soon be my Crafty Mom Cave! 
I will be posting more craft room photos in September, when we get back from our 
month long trip to Wales!
Next on our agenda is the yard sale and a jewelry party so that Miss R can sell some of her jewelry pieces and sell some of her bead supplies. 

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave a comment I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quality Time

Going out with our friends we always have a good time. It was B's birthday a week before so we went out to dinner to celebrate. We always try to find somewhere new. This time it was up on a hill over looking the city. The food and company was really nice.

Cheesecake was their choice of b'day desert, which was great because that's B's favorite! 
Look how special they made the plate look!

After a wonderful dinner we were able to take coffee on the patio around one of their fire pits.
Not that we needed the fire really as it was a nice warm evening. But it added to the atmosphere.

 Usually after dinner we are looking for somewhere to go sit and have coffee, as none of us want to go home too early, but this evening before we knew it 4 hours had passed by so quickly we were surprised when we looked at the time. 
We will definitely be going back to visit this restaurant again.
Look at the lights below, funny how this picture turned out, but I kinda like it.
 It has an artistic feel about it, which is exactly how I meant it to look right?!?! I wishhhhh! :-)

The next day we went to Huntington Library and gardens, to spend some quality time with Miss R before she leaves for the UK to live, and so she could see some of the art they have there. 
It's a really nice and relaxing place to go. 
I just love wandering around the gardens looking at all the plants. I must say I prefer that to all the art hanging in the libraries!

Beautiful Cosmos, they were quite tall and seem to be thriving in their little patch, much better than those I planted this year in the pots outside my kitchen window.

 The Chinese garden is relatively new, especially to us as we haven't been there in quite some time.
It was a very pretty place with a lovely eating place serving delicious authentic chinese food. 

I was expecting to see more color among the plants, but maybe all the spring flowers 
had already bloomed.

Our sitting area where we ate lunch! We couldn't have picked a more perfect spot.

I was inspired by their creativity with their paths, as I've been looking to do something with small stones and patterns on the street in front of our house. Right now we have ornamental strawberry plants and lots of weeds. It needs lots of work, but maybe thats a job for the cooler weather.

There were very large koi fish swimming to their hearts content among the lillie pads.

 On to the Japanese garden. Its always soooo relaxing there.

Miss R and Miss A posing for a photo!

 I love the bridge, but it's not open to the public!

Rose's, Rose's and more Rose's!
I love Rose's! 

When we first moved into our home, we had a beautiful rose bush but had to cut it down to make room for the new gate on the driveway. I tried to save it but it didn't survive. I recently came across a photo of it, so with that in mind I spent some time wandering around the rose garden looking at all the roses, trying to find my long lost rose bush.... Who knew there could be sooo many peachy, pinky roses!

While I was wandering, B and the girls took a nap in the shade of a beautiful tree.

 So many beautiful roses! How will I ever find one like mine?
I'm hoping that our local nursery will be able to identify it, 
that is as soon as I remember to print a picture to take with me.

On our way out we had to stop and take a photo of all the statues. It wouldn't be Huntington Library without stopping to say hello!

What a beautiful afternoon we had, which was finished off nicely at our Daughter and Son in Law's home with a BBQ!