{The Homestead Garden} Katie and Goliath

I thought about calling this post “How to Build Raised Beds,” but who am I kidding? I am definitely not an an expert at any of this gardening stuff. I am just googling for tips and then adapting to my reality and hoping I get it halfway right. There are two huge primary challenges with building our Homestead Garden: 
1. Our garden is a 900 square foot fenced in area that has been overgrown with weeds and poison ivy for 10 years.
2. As mentioned, I don’t have a green thumb.


The past couple weekends, we’ve been tackling point one. Can’t get to point two until we have somewhere to try not to kill the veggies, right?BedsCollage

I spent two weekends pulling the weeds by hand and fighting with vines that would totally support Tarzan swinging through the trees. My battle with the vines growing throughout the garden was my first battle with Goliath in the garden project. See the one sticking out over the asparagus that I gave up on?


I finally called the local equipment rental place and picked up a rototiller, which promptly leaked gas all over my car #awesome. TimTheFarmer was at work when I got home with it and when I want to do something, I want to do it now #instantgratification, so despite the fact that it took two guys to load it into my car, I was going to get it out on my own. I set up a ramp with two boards and managed to get it out of the car by myself. Can you tell I’m proud of myself? ‘Cuz I am ;). The trip across the yard to the garden was brutal – there is nothing ergonomic about a front-tine rototiller! I then got to work tilling everything up and holy crow! If I thought the weeds were my Goliath, I had another thing coming. It took every.single.muscle in my body to control that dang rototiller. Here’s me looking like it’s a walk in the park:


Here’s reality, triple chin and all:


TimTheFarmer came home (with a truck full of dirt dug up from a back corner of the farm!!) and we took turns with Goliath. It was much easier for him than me. What the heck?! Within a couple hours, though, we had the entire garden weeded and turned. Yippee! Remember my plan? I was trying not to bite off too much at once and was going to weed and plant one bed at a time, but forget that! We are all weeded and ready for beds. Just looking at the cleared garden makes me feel like I can take a nice, deep breath.


As a side note, it seems I’m one of those people who doesn’t react to poison ivy, unlike TimTheFarmer (who will puff up like a blowfish). I didn’t recognize the dormant vines as poison ivy and have been pulling them for a few weeks without reaction. I’m allergic to everything else on the planet…small wins I guess?

In between weeding and rototiller wrastling, we got to work building the garden beds. We spent Mother’s Day with TimTheFarmer showing me how to use a circular saw and I cut up all the boards for the beds. I insisted on cutting the boards myself (can you say stubborn?), so Mother’s Day looked like this, which cracks me up.


I ultimately decided not to treat the boards which I’ll get into in a another post. I know, a whole post dedicated to treating raised beds…you can’t wait. 

To build the beds, we used 2’x10’x8’s. Most of my beds are 4’x8′ so we cut one board in half for the ends and used 3 boards total per bed. I priced out the different board lengths and it seems lumber is not one of those things where bulk=better price. I guess that’s why they don’t sell it at Costco? I thought that the 16′ boards might be less expensive, but it all seems to be about the same price per foot. We used scrap 2’x4’s to brace the corners. And, I learned the value of good screws. Apparently the Home Depot guy sold me crappy screws and I had my third Goliath experience trying to screw together the beds. I’d been using TimTheFamer’s non-galvanized star lock screws and it was easy peesy; then I used my new phillips-head galvanized screws and the heads were getting stripped and they just wouldn’t go in the dang wood. It took me HOURS to put them together. TimTheFarmer came home with some more of the good screws and put the rest together in minutes, not hours. Ugh! But yes, Dad, I did use my pink screw gun.


We moved the beds into place and then laid down weed barrier between all the beds. I stapled the barrier inside the beds to hold it in place and minimize weeds poking through. I used garden staples to secure the perimeter of the weed barrier.


And the last battle with Goliath was moving the dirt from the apple crates to the beds. We took turns shoveling and shoveling and shoveling and…you get the idea. Our backs and shoulders are wrecked, but we’re done!! We filled the beds about halfway full. Since the dirt is freshly tilled under the beds, there should be plenty of room for the plants’ roots to take hold and this gives us room to add dirt for next year. So, we don’t have any more plants in the ground than last week, but the beds are all built and filled!! Are you tired? ‘Cuz I’m exhausted! Time to head to the nursery to look for veggies!


{Friday Favorites} Favorite Finds and Help Us Win!

Another day, another train. I am headed to NYC to watch my third graduating class of MBA students give their capstone presentations! It’s always so cool to see the growth and work our students complete over two or three years with us. Congratulations class of 2016!


We’re Falling Behind  –  We Need Your Votes!!


If you’re stopping by today from the AndreaErika, or Narci’s blogs and are new around here (Hi! and Welcome!), we would love your help! We have a photo that’s a finalist in a photo competition – we were neck and neck all week for 1st place and now we’re falling behind. Please VOTE DAILY on your computer here through May 15th: http://bit.ly/1W2WBPt Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Happy Buttery Coffee

You all know I am a Bulletproof Coffee junkie – I also love fun coffee mugs. A few years ago I purged when we received our new dishes as wedding gifts, but they’re starting to creep back in. I loved these mugs that I picked up last weekend at HomeGoods. You never know what you’re going to come out of that store with! I appreciate the happiness reminder first thing in the morning.


What makes me less happy, though, is turning the mug over to see this. Seriously? Who makes things that don’t go in the dishwasher or microwave these days?! Even fancy china is dishwasher safe. And the HomeGoods price stickers that you can.not.get.off. Those always put a cork in my snorkel. But, in keeping with the happiness message, we’ll just put them in the dishwasher until they’re just plain white mugs. We’ll probably avoid the microwave since it is metal paint.




Ok, guys. Have you ever used Overstock.com? I know I’m 10 years late to the party here, but I had a hoarder roommate when the site launched who would order boxes and boxes of crap “because it’s so cheap.” Everything he’d get was such junk that I never thought to look on the site, but this week I was looking for an inexpensive duvet cover for our guest room and stumbled onto this beauty – for $178! I’ve been planning to build my own headboard for years, so I’m acknowledging that’s not going to happen and giving this a try. It’s got good reviews, so fingers crossed that when it arrives, it’s not junk! Have you ordered from Overstock? How’d it go for you?

New Curtains


I posted about this earlier this week, but we are loving our new curtains. They really add an unexpected sense of coziness to our living room!

Spring Flowers


This has been a super weird spring in the Hudson Valley. We had a mild winter and late freeze that caused some serious crop destruction and seems to have screwed up the arrival of spring. The early flowers (daffodils and crocuses (croci?)) barely bloomed, many of the leaves on the big trees are just starting to pop, and the forsythia never showed up. It’s been rather dreary around here. All that is to say, when I walked into work and saw these flowers this week, it totally made my day. I have no idea what they are, but aren’t they happy?! 


And, this is my favorite view of the year, from my office, when the spring trees bloom. These pictures never fully capture how pretty this is, but trust me, it’s awesome.

And and, just to leave with the cuteness from Monday’s update on The Homestead Garden, here’s my field mouse buddy:


{Living Room} Adding Height With Curtains

While I was waiting for the worst of the downpour to finish this weekend so I could work in the garden, I decided to attempt to hang curtains. I say attempt because a level line is never guaranteed and I didn’t have my stud finder (AKA TimTheFarmer).

Our living room continues to baffle me a bit – it’s also the entry and is a super tall room that contains the stairway and the loft that leads to the bedrooms. The previous owner used it the TV room, but we don’t like the idea of that. It needs to be the thruway into the kitchen so it keeps the seating to one side of the room. We’re still kicking around the idea of taking some or all of the wall down between the kitchen and living room. Basically, I don’t know what to do with this space. So, for now I’m working to make it feel inviting and cozy while taking advantage of the height of the room. This is from before we moved furniture and painted:

EntryRoomWe have our accent wall, which is my favorite! 


And, we hung my grandma’s antique skis way way high on the wall to draw your eye up. 



Because the room has sloped ceilings that are very high at the top and end at a “normal” height by the door and front window, the front wall feels low. A common way to work with tall ceilings is to hang long curtains high above the windows. It adds height and in our case, can balance out a shorter-feeling ceiling that is competing against tall walls.


I picked up curtains and a curtain rod at Home Goods for $30. There is seriously no other place you should buy curtains and curtain rods. They are alway half the prices as anywhere else and unless you’re going for custom curtains, you can probably find something that will match. The curtains are 96″ long which puts them at least a foot above my window. And look, my line is (relatively) straight!


The pattern fit perfectly with our room. It’s a traditional floral pattern made up of modern, funky colors: turquoises, dark grey, and chartreuse colors which perfectly complement my new old chair, rugs, and vintage ski posters.


Someday we’ll figure out couches and seating in this room and whether or not to pull the wall down, but for now, I love how the curtains add both height and coziness to this room!