Happy Holidays

EHN_5758It’s hard to believe the holidays are here, the end of 2015 is fast approaching and we are coming up on our 9 month anniversary of being home-owners. We’ve learned a lot this year like how somehow wasp spray is ineffective towards yellow jackets and by the way, yellow jacket stings REALLY hurt. We’ve learned that removing trees is very expensive and deciding to chop up a tree ourselves with a 19″ chainsaw is incredibly labor intensive and time consuming. In fact, everything we do to the house is labor intensive and time consuming. Our first major project was to remove the wallpaper and paint the dining room which I believe we started in June. It is now 6 months later and we still haven’t managed to put a coat of paint on, but I did learn that wall paper removal is the worst thing in the world and it will ruin a manicure.

I’ve learned a lot about gardening too. I tried to save myself some trouble by sectioning off a large part of the garden and planting a cover crop. But what I failed to realize is that you need to till the cover crop into the soil once it flowers in order for it to provide nutrients to the soil. I just let it flower, go to seed, die and then become over grown with weeds. Oops. I also learned that gardening really doesn’t take a lot of work if you’re consistent.It looked its best when I would check on it everyday after work and spend about 15 minutes weeding and harvesting. Once we went on vacation and the weeds got out of control, I was never really able to reclaim the garden from the weeds.

I’ve always been very goal-driven and like using the new year as a chance to reflect on the past year and choose a new goal to focus on. In the past I’ve focused on reading more or running more or focusing on my diet and health or getting more sleep or taking more pictures when in fact I want to do all of those things! When I start to think about the goals I want to accomplish in the new year I get as overwhelmed as I do when I think about all the work that needs to be done to the house. I want to do all those things plus add one more task on top of that list. It gets overwhelming. But I’ve decided to tackle this just as I would tackle the house. One step, one day, one project at a time.

I’ve been trying to think of what makes me happy and yes, the list is long but one thing I’ve been neglecting the fast few years is creating things. Whether it’s painting, crocheting, gardening, baking, etc. Anything involving creativity often gets pushed aside because I’m too tired or too busy. There always seems to be an excuse. My goal is to make time in the new year for some of these projects. I have 3 quilts started in my closet that haven’t seen daylight in a year, a folder of saved crochet patterns on my computer that I’ve had for years now, a bag of embroidery supplies I got from my mom last year that I never even opened, a half-completed afghan that’s been sitting under the coffee table for over a hear, a secret pinterest board full of watercolor inspiration… you get the idea. These projects have laid dormant for too long. And yes, there will always be something that’s probably more important that needs to be done but I really hope to set aside some time to work on these projects because creating things really does make me happy.



Garden Salad

Arugula, Mustard Greens, Drunken Woman Lettuce, Basil,  Nasturtiums and a Radish

Arugula, Mustard Greens, Drunken Woman Lettuce, Basil, Nasturtiums and a Radish

This is why I garden. Everything in this picture was just a tiny little seed a couple months ago. There have a been a lot of lessons learned along the way and many many more to go but it’s so rewarding to see some of my efforts pay off. I’ve noticed some of the Nasturtium leaves turning yellow over the past couple days but today I came home and noticed one of the leaves looked a little different and then my heart jumped when I realized it was this-


I’ve been checking on them every day and I’m mesmerized by these little guys. First of all the seeds look like tiny brains, they have these huge lily-pad-like leaves that rain just rolls right off and then they produce these beautiful bright edible flowers! Seriously amazing. So after a couple seconds of staring at this beautiful flower, I picked it….and ate it. Yum!

I also decided to pick my first radish which was both satisfying and disappointing at the same time.Baby Radish

Considering all that green growth, I assumed it would be a lot bigger but I spaced them too closely and didn’t have the heart to pull any of them out. I’m learning. Gardening can be ruthless!

But in the end, it’s completely worth it.

Garden Salad

We bought a house!

Our New Home!

The house is great but the yard is AMAZING! It sits on 2.3 gently sloping acres. There’s a good mix of bright sunny yard and cool shady wood and the element I’m most thrilled about and what may have sold me on the house is the 1800 sq. ft. fenced off garden. We’ve been in the house for over a month now and practically threw our stuff down and ran outside to play in our amazing new yard. And what people call “yard work” has replaced the hours I used to spend logging miles in a tiny air conditioned gym on a treadmill with ‘Keeping up with the Kardashions’ blasting on the tv 5 feet from my face. I have no clue what the Kardashions are up to and I couldn’t be happier about it! I’d much rather spend my evenings soaking up the day’s last bit of sunshine with Palmer rustling around in the woods behind me and the birds chirping in the background. It’s hard and it’s only May but I love it! I love plants. I love to grow things and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a giant blank canvas to play with.

This is the house about 2 weeks ago with the azaleas in full bloom. Enjoy them now because I really want to rip them out!

Azaleas in Bloom

They are really pretty this time of year…Azaleas

So the first project we did was till the garden! It looked like it had been a good 4-5 years since this garden has seen any action. This is the before picture.EHN_5277

I called around and found a local company that rents equipment and rented a garden tiller for the weekend.


I also found a place nearly that sells truckloads of organic compost that we tilled into the garden.


After about 10 hours and 3 truckloads later we had this:


This is the top part of the garden and that weird looking soil was my desperate back-breaking attempt to “double dig” and get the snap peas, radishes and lettuces in the ground as soon as possible. This little section probably took me 3-4 hours of digging out rocks and carrying them in bucket-loads to dump in the woods. This is what convinced me to buy a wheelbarrow and rent a tiller. Also note the difference between the cheap Lowe’s compost and the local organic compost. I’m almost sorry I dug any compost in this section, I’m sure it would have been better if I just dug up and turned over the existing soil but live and learn! EHN_5289

At the last minute I decided to till up the soil near the fence and sow wildflowers along the fence line. As of now, I’m not too sure how this is going to look. The flowers are coming up slow and I can’t tell the difference between a flower and a weed so it may look like a giant weedy mess with hopefully some flowers on top but we’ll have to wait and see!EHN_5309

Palmer loves his new yard by the way!EHN_5310

So, once I got to this point I hadn’t really thought about what to do next so luckily I have a friend who’s a gardener who suggested I lay down some cardboard on the land I want to grow next season and sow some buckwheat as a cover crop on the bottom section.

I read that the cardboard suppresses the weeds and the earthworms will eat cardboard and turn it into the soil. Steve had no idea why I was doing this and just thought I was going insane. It doesn’t look very pretty but we just moved and I had to do something with all these boxes. Hopefully it will work. This is how it looked just after I laid the cardboard down and sowed the buckwheat. Somehow I thought I’d be able to do all this in an afternoon but it ended up taking about a week because I wanted to get as many weeds out as possible before I sowed the buckwheat and man those things grow fast!


This is how the garden looks today! I drew up a garden plan (finally) and decided to create little pathways so I could actually access the plants without stomping all over them. The top bed there is the “nightshade” bed with a couple tomatoes and a pepper plant to get things started. You can see the buckwheat starting to come in.EHN_5407

Look at it doing its thang!EHN_5417

I also decided to make the top bed the perennial bed and planted some strawberries and I plan to get some blueberry and blackberry plants in there and hopefully some flowers.EHN_5410

So this is it! This is my garden I’ve been dreaming about for months, or years really. I’ve sort of abandoned all other projects to focus on this. There’s a ton of other things going on. It’s been awesome to move in when things were still cold and dormant and watch the yard wake up. Every day when I come home from work I throw on my play clothes and just walk around to see what has changed and there’s always something to see. My purple beans germinated and became giant leaves within the last 24 hours, I discovered a wild strawberry plant by the back stairs and all sorts of new flowers popping up. I love it here and I’m really looking forward to sharing it.

Erin’s Garden

Hi There!

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten this excited about a project but since I’ve been literally dreaming about this for months and I’ve started reading, studying, planning, and preparing journals I thought it might be time to share the great news. In just a few short weeks if all goes to plan, I will finally have my very own garden!

Garden Journal

And this isn’t just a 6′ x 2′ mini garden bed like the one we had on Montgomery Street this is a real sunny, fenced off, large chunk of land that I can fill with whatever I want! Gardening is an almost foreign concept to me. I’ve grown a few tomatoes, peppers, herbs and daisies but I’ve never had to deal with enriching soil, rotating garden beds, companion planting, watering sources, cover crops, pesky insects, etc. It can be overwhelming but last weekend I bought my first seeds and sowed them on Monday and they germinated yesterday. Every single time I pop a seed into some dirt and sprinkle them with a bit of water I think ‘this is ridiculous, there’s no way this will work’ and more often than not they pop right up!  It’s just so simple and fascinating to watch.

You can barely see but these are the first seeds beginning to pop up yesterday.

Seeds just starting to pop up on March 13

Seeds just starting to pop up on March 13

And this is how they look less than 24 hours later.


Bloom bloom!

It is so cool. Simple as that. So cool that I spent the rest of my morning ordering a ton of seeds from the seed catalogs I’ve been pouring over the past few weeks.


So while I’m stuck indoors dealing with temperamental March weather, I’ve been reading books, browsing blogs, flipping through seed catalogs, sketching up some rough garden layouts, checking in on my seeds every couple hours, more or less obsessing over this future garden. I’m pretty certain I’ll take a look back in August and think how insane I am so here is a little note to myself to remind me of my current state of mind:

Future Erin-

When it’s hot, humid and sticky, when your back aches and fingernails are caked in mud and you just want to go inside and watch a movie, remember how it feels to live through those last never-ending bits of miserable weather and to ache for Spring. Think about how many years you’ve lived in apartments where you struggled with space and sun exposure and how many times you unsuccessfully managed to get lot on a community garden. Most importantly think about all the delicious food you can grow and the inventive meals you can cook up. Think of the beautiful flowers that will surround your yard and your home and the delicious herbs that will be just outside the kitchen. Think of how nice it is to hear to birds chirping and the crickets at night and feel the cool breeze rustle through the trees. Think of how lucky you are to have this opportunity. Embrace the moment and go get dirty. I know gardening will be hard work but it will be worth it.


Present Erin

Oh, and Happy Pi Day, Nerds!

It’s summer, y’all!

Palmer DalmerAnd we’ve been busy. We’ve been SML swimmin’, in Crozet wine sippin’, up to DC Nats game watchin’, Brewery hoppin’, strawberry picking’, pineapple eatin’, Orange is the New Black watchin’, and Father’s Day campin’. Every weekend has a new adventure in store. Tomorrow night we’re going to see Iron and Wine and I’ve been absorbed in Hemingway and the Lost Generation and gearing up to starting training for another half marathon. Busy busy busy!!!

(Maybe I should stop drinking so much coffee in the mornings…)