July Garden

It’s pretty wild the difference a month makes. Almost everything starts to take off when the temps reach the 90s.

july garden ashandorange.wordpress.com

I am going to go through the garden bed by bed, like I did in my June garden post.

Bed 1: Still a little sad…A rogue tomato is growing strong. The sweet peas that I planned to grow up my dead stick structure never did very well. They are dying, along with the bachelor buttons. Bachelor buttons don’t love the heat and started to look very scraggly in late June. I took most of the bigger plants out. New seedlings are already appearing so there will probably be pretty blue flowers again this fall.

Bed 2: This is where the party is at.

raised veg bed ashandorange.wordpress.com

Both tomato plants are huge! Looks like we will have plenty of tomatoes this year. The Indigo Rose variety has lots of plump round fruit. The blue color is already present and now we’re just waiting for the green to change to ripe red. The other plant is even bigger and had lots of little grape tomatoes. We have only had two ripe enough to eat and they were delicious.

indigo rose tomato ashandorange.wordpress.com

The jalapeno plant is also growing well, and we have the start of little peppers.

The zucchini is insane. I swear it grows a foot a day and has already produced a single delicious squash that I devoured immediately after taking this picture.

zucchini ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 3: The herbs. Just like the tomatoes, the basil loves the heat. Pesto anyone? The thyme is growing strong. The rosemary and lavender have not grown much but the lavender started blooming this week.

herb bed ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 4: The sweet peas look better here than their friends in Bed 1, but still nothing to write home about (or on a blog about). The rogue snapdragons are blooming and very pretty as well as some marigolds that came up from seed.

snapdragon ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 5: Oh kale yeah! Lots and lots of kale. The zucchini plant is not growing fast here, I figure not enough sun. The parsley looks great. The cilantro sprouted leaves and immediately went to seed.

kale raised bed ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 6: In early July the delphinium bloomed and it was BEAUTIFUL. By now all the blooms are spent, but the plant itself is still big and green.

delphinium ashandorange.wordpress.com

And lastly, it must be July because the cosmos are blooming. I planted seeds in the spring and all the cosmos bright orange faces are popping up around the garden.

cosmo ashandorange.wordpress.comHappy summer and happy gardening!

The Kitchen: Reveal and Review

We “finished” the kitchen almost two years ago and I have yet to post a full reveal. Tsk tsk… bad blogger. But it was a hidden blessing because now I can do a reveal with lots of pictures and reviews at the same time. Two blog posts in one! You can thank me later.

First up: The Cabinets

We have quite the mix of cabinets in our tiny kitchen. First, we have the original built-in-place cabinets that we painted white. We are still happy with the decision to save the original cabinets. We love the look and the second paint job with Benjamin Moore Advance paint is holding up great.

Read more about the original cabinets here and here.

original cabinet ashandorange.wordpress.com

Then we have the new cabinets. They are shaker-style full overlay cabinets from Ultracraft. The uppers and nook cabinets are painted maple in arctic white and the lowers are cherry in chestnut stain. We still love these cabinets and they have held up nicely. The cabinets have great features like soft close hinges and drawer dampers and my favorite: full extension drawers. You can see the entire contents of the drawer – this way nothing gets lost far in the back. My second favorite feature is the pull out spice rack next to the stove.

Read more about the new cabinets here.

cherry lower cabinets ashandorange.wordpress.com

We went with 45″ tall uppers that go all the way to the ceiling. I would recommend anyone use the tallest upper cabinets they can. Not only does it look better, but it provides some much needed extra storage in a small kitchen.

shaker kitchen cabinets ashandorange.wordpress.com

shaker kitchen ashandorange.wordpress.com

The Countertops

Our counters are Silestone Quartz in Ivory Coast. Love love love the counters. They still look as nice as the day they were installed. They clean up easily and require no maintenance.

silestone ivory coast countertops ashandorange.wordpress.com

In the nook we have Ikea oak butcher block counters. They still get a thumbs up even though they are a little more upkeep. They need an oiling with mineral oil every couple of months. They don’t get hard use like the silestone (they have never seen a hot pan or a sticky spill). So I can’t comment on how well they would work for true kitchen counters, but for our nook they are great.

Read more about the countertops here.

Backsplash tile

lantern tile backsplash ashandorange.wordpress.com

We took a risk and went with something unique for our backsplash with the blue lantern tile. We still like it. It adds a nice punch of color and personality to the kitchen. It cleans up great as well. I just wipe it down with a damp cloth every night. The grout has held up great and never stained.

Read more about the backsplash here.

The Nook

The nook was just an empty little space off the kitchen when we moved in. We added cabinets, a pull-out kitchen cart, and open shelving.

kitchen nook ashandorange.wordpress.com

kitchen  nook ashandorange.wordpress.com

We are really happy we kept the nook. I love the open shelving for all the dishes I use daily.

The pull-out cart that we designed to slide under the cabinets is a great feature. It provides extra mobile counter space and the opening can be used as a workspace when the cart is pulled out.

kitchen nook stool and cart ashandorange.wordpress.com

bekvam kitchen cart ashandorange.wordpress.com

Kitchen nook workspace

Read more about the nook here and here.

Appliances

The stove and refrigerator were here when we moved in. We bought a new dishwasher and have been very happy with it. The only downside is a cycle can take up to 3 hours but we usually run it at night after dinner so it’s not a big deal. Besides that, it’s relatively quiet and looks great.

dishwasher ashandorange.wordpress.com

We also added a range hood that we did not get properly vented until last year. So for a year it was just a decorative metal thing above the stove. Having a good range hood makes all the difference in a tiny kitchen. Not only does it remove cooking odors, but it takes away a lot of the heat – making the cooking experience far more pleasurable.

Kitchen hood ashandorange.wordpress.com

Sink and faucet

We love the Kohler enameled cast iron sink. It needs a good scrub down with baking soda about once a week to keep it looking white and shiny.

kohler sink ashandorange.wordpress.com

The faucet…this is the only bad review I have. We love the look of the faucet but that’s where it ends. The pressure is hard to regulate. The flow of water goes from a trickle to a geyser by moving the handle a millimeter. And temperature is the same thing: ice cold to boiling hot with a small touch. We are used to the faucet and in general don’t get burned or covered with water. But all guests splash and/or burn themselves. Not the greatest faucet, but she sure it purty.

kraus faucet ashandorange.wordpress.com

All in all, we are still very happy with the kitchen and the products we chose to fill it with. Hope the reviews are helpful. If you have any questions ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Complete source list:
Wall paint: Glidden Antique Beige, satin finish
Trim and cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Super White, satin finish
Cabinets: UltraCraft Cabinetry, Destiny Line, Shaker Style, in Arctic White Maple and Chestnut Cherry
Countertops: Silestone Quartz in Ivory Coast and Ikea Numerar in Oak (discontinued, Numerar in Beech or Akerby in oak are good substitutes)
Backsplash Tile: SomerTile Morocco Blue Porcelain Mosaic Tile
Sink: Kohler Mayfield 25″ x 22″ in white
Faucet: Kraus single lever pull-out sprayer in satin nickel
Range Hood: NuTone 30 in. Pro Style Range Hood in Stainless Steel NSP130SS
Dishwasher: Kenmore 24″ Built In Dishwasher in Stainless Steel Model#12093
Cabinet Hardware:
Pulls: Top Knobs, Cup Pull in Pewter Antique Finish m1211
Knobs: Home Depot Liberty 1-1/4 in. Top Ring Round Cabinet Hardware Knob in Antique Iron.
Shelf Brackets: Ikea Ekby Valter 11″ in birch, painted white
Kitchen Cart: Ikea Bekvam painted with Behr Spring Stream
Stool: Target Carlisle Metal Counter Stool in Grey

June Garden

Our garden is back in bloom after an incredibly cold winter and some severe spring weather (10″ of snow and some golfball hail).

For anyone who is new to this party: We fenced off and then built this raised bed garden last year. It did really well last summer and hopefully we will have great results again this year.

full garden ashandorange.wordpress.com

I kept the layout of the beds pretty much the same this year. It helped that some of the plants are perennials and came back in the same spot for me.

Here’s a little sketch of the garden beds:

garden sketch ashandorange.wordpress.com

*Just in case anyone wants to know: Beds 2,4, and 5 are three feet square. Beds 1 and 3 and two feet by three feet. Bed 6 is two feet square.

Bed 1: Doesn’t really have much going on at the moment. I was kind of waiting to see what would come up, and the answer is not much. I planted some sweet peas (purple circles) that I am training to go up some dead sticks. Right now it looks a little crazy, and it might still look crazy when the sweet peas grow. We will just have to wait and see.

Bed 2: Two cherry tomato varieties: Indigo Rose and Husky Cherry Red (red circles). A jalapeno pepper (neon green). Two zucchini plants (large green circles). And the pink circle is my lovely little pink flower that comes back every year. I have no idea what it is. I also planted a few marigolds. They are pretty and most bad bugs don’t like them. Hopefully they will protect the other plants.

Bed 3: The herb bed. Currently growing lavender (purple circle) and german thyme (dark green circles) that both survived the winter. And I just planted a rosemary and a few basil plants.

garden beds ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 4: Much like his friend Bed 1, does not have much going on. Some rogue snap dragons (coral circles), a perennial delphinium (blue circle), and again some sweet peas (purple circles) growing up dead sticks.

Bed 5: I planted rows of kale seeds in April and they are doing great. They were badly battered after the May hail but have recovered nicely. I also planted some parsley and cilantro seeds at the corners. And right now there is nothing in the middle, but I am planning on adding a zucchini (the big green circle). We really like zucchini around here.

garden kale ashandorange.wordpress.com

Bed 6: I planted a delphinium last year and it came back HUGE. The plant took up the entire 2 foot bed. Then the hail came and ripped through most of its leaves. But the plant survived and looks like it will bloom pretty soon here. There are also some volunteer snap dragons and bachelor buttons.

The big irregular blue areas in the sketch are all bachelor buttons that came up all around the garden, from last years bachelor button seeds. They took quite a beating from a late season snow storm and again the hail. But they have recovered nicely with a little human assistance. I tied them to tomato cages to give a little support.

*A word of warning to any super type A gardeners: Both snap dragons and bachelor buttons are amazing self seeders. If you do not want tons of these flowers EVERYWHERE, either do not plant them or snip off the spent flowers before the spew their tiny seeds everywhere.

So that’s the June garden. I’ll update again in July, hopefully while munching on some juicy tomatoes.

Club Chair Reupholstery

Last year I picked up a set of club chairs for $40. They were in nice shape (and comfortable!) but I didn’t love the navy, orange and gold fabric. I figured they would be a great introduction to furniture reupholstery. After sitting around the house for a year and a half, I finally got around to reupholstering one of the chairs. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 18 months to finish the second.

chair before and after ashandorange.wordpress.com

The refinishing and reupholstery process was really straightforward. I first removed the cushions from the wooden frame. They were attached by screws at the bottom. I then removed the cording that was stapled to the frame. The wooden frame was a little scuffed up so I gave it a good scrub with murphy’s oil soap. Followed by a light sanding with fine sand paper. I removed the sanding dust with a microfiber cloth and then used Restore-a-Finish in Walnut over the entire frame. Finishing it all up with my favorite product: Howard Feed-n-Wax.

Once the frame was done I tackled the cushions. Un-upholstering was the worst part of the process. Staples haunted my dreams for a couple nights. I removed the cording first, and then the fabric, finally pulling out any remaining staples with a flathead screwdriver and needle nose pliers.

The original foam was in amazing shape so I did not replace it. The upholstery job was really simple. Basically pulling the fabric tight and stapling. And my fabric choice…canvas drop cloth! What else would I use? I love the texture and color of drop cloth and the fact that it is durable and cheap is just the icing on the cake.

Once the cushions were upholstered I screwed them back into the frame. I chose not to finish the chair with cording yet. I don’t mind the way it looks without it, but adding cording will make it look perfectly finished. The cushions are really easy to remove so I can always add the cording at a later time – when I get the courage to sew it.

reupholstered club chair ashandorange.wordpress.com

reupholstered club chair ashandorange.wordpress.com

reupholstered club chair ashandorange.wordpress.com

The new fabric makes the chairs light and fresh. Now I have to decide if I want to keep them in the office or place them in the living room as pictured above. Decisions, decisions…

Dining Room Updates

In between trying to finish all the loose ends in the kitchen and lots of outdoor work (it’s finally warm!) we squeezed in some updates to the dining room.

First up, a new lighting fixture. For the past three years we had been under the impression that the dining room chandelier was original to the house. It looked old and was really dirty, so this idea kind of made sense. On closer inspection, most of the chandelier was made of plastic painted gold… not very 1920s. Neither of us ever really liked it, we only kept it for its original charm. Once we figured out its not so secret 1980s identity, it was as good as gone. But not before finding a suitable replacement.

This bronzed beauty from Lowes fit the bill and wasn’t too painful on the pocket book.

pendant light ashandorange.wordpress.com

It was relatively easy to install (as easy as it can be dealing with 100 year old cloth wrapped wire).

No longer being distracted by the ugly chandelier, I could see clearly that the hutch wasn’t working. A year ago I took the top off our mid-century hutch and placed on top of a mid century dresser (detailed in this post). It worked, but I never loved it and it was also the world’s largest dust magnet. I was sick of it, and so the top of the hutch was reunited with its base. They will live happily ever after at someone else’s home.

mid-century dresser dining room ashandorange.wordpress.com

Lastly, I added a bamboo shade to the middle window section. The dining room gets some major sun throughout the day and this will really help during 100 degree summer days. They are the same Home Depot shades I have used in the rest of the house (kitchen and office), so they tie in nicely. Word to the wise: Get a shade that actually fits your window. I bought a shade that was 1/2″ too wide and cut it down with gardening shears and a hand saw. This was stupid and took me way too much time, when I could have just bought one size smaller online.

dining room ashandorange.wordpress.com

dining room ashandorange.wordpress.com

That’s all the changes for now. We are hoping to add something above the dresser, maybe a large photo or mirror? We also need a rug, thinking this sisal rug from Crate and Barrel (waiting for a sale).

Details:

Light: allen+roth Edison Bronze pendant light from Lowes

Dining Table: Craigslist

Mid-century wood chairs: Thrift Store, the brand is Lenoir (similar to Broyhill Brasilia)

Upholstered chairs: Anna Slipcover Chair from Cost Plus World Market

Dresser: Thrift Store

White Sheer Curtains: Matilda curtains from Ikea

Bamboo blind: designview maple providence bamboo roman shade from Home Depot