Archive for October, 2011

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of gardening.

All year-long, I wait for the few short months when I can waste time and money on plants that will only live to make my yard beautiful while the weather is bearable (3-5 months)… and belive me, I have wasted a lot of time, energy and resources on this venture.

Regardless, I can’t give up my love of gardening,  so I had to find ways to “smart garden.” (a.k.a. identifying and abiding by your hardiness zones.)

Here is an example of the hardiness zone map from the National Arboretum:

If you go to their website, you can zoom in and find your region, mine is the Southwest… and based on this map, I live in hardiness Zone 10.

Note: Most maps don’t vary much. Some are more elaborate and might say that you are in Zone 10a, 10b, or 10c for instance, but for all intents and purposes you don’t need to go into that much detail regarding your zone, and there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement between map makers on the general zone lines.

So, you say.  I’m in Zone 10… What does that mean? Well, Zone 10 is a very hot, dry place for most of the year. Which translates into, “Sarah, you can not grow your favorite plants where you live. That’s right… no peonies, ranunculus, hydrangea etc. Even growing grass will be a challenge here.”

… and if you know me, you know very well that I don’t take “NO” for an answer. Especially when someone is so rude about it.

Regardless, my residence in Zone 10 left me a very sad gardener… Until I found this tool!


The Burpee seed buying guide is based on hardiness zone. It allows me to select from hundreds of plants which are almost guaranteed to grow where I live, if given the proper care and attention, and I was also able to research specific varietals of my favorite plants which are more tolerant to the harsh Arizona climate.

For instance, the tree peony has a much better chance of living than a bush peony in Arizona. Here is an example of a tree peony:

I don’t think they are quite as beautiful as the regular peony varietals, but they sure do beat my 4 dead bushes from last year.

There are also some varieties of Hydrangeas that have a chance in AZ, such as the White King varietal.

(Image from Burpee)

So, I’ve decided to compromise with mother nature, and I realize that there are some realities that I am going to have to live with in Arizona. Like the fact that I will probably never have the manicured English garden I have always dreamed of.

However, with new knowledge and tools, I think I am a  much smarter and hopefully more successful gardener despite my climatic limitations, and I hope you find them useful too!


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I’m embarrassed to say that when I bought our house, the stairs had no flooring… Really…

Whoever lived there before us had the bright idea of taking off the carpet, and painting the wood bright red!

I don’t have a picture of that horrific red color, but of course it was the same shade as the powder room:

At least they were trying to make things match???

Anyway, we weren’t quite ready to make a decision about flooring or stairs in general, and there were a few other projects that we thought more important at the time. So, we decided to live with them for a while and just paint them a “more acceptable” color. (As if painting stairs is ever an acceptable thing to do.)

… and they were… at least slightly more acceptable until one day, I spilled an entire gallon of white paint on them, and there was just no saving them from there.

So, we came up with a plan to have matching hardwood installed on the stair treads along with beadboard on the risers, and I am happy to report that our second adventure with a contractor this weekend had a much happier ending.

I just wish my photography skills could do them justice, and I probably shouldn’t have taken the pictures at night.

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… As in, we decided to hire some home-improvement professionals.

Over the holiday weekend, Matt and I decided to tackle a couple of large-scale projects on the house which we determined we weren’t really qualified for, or interested in doing ourselves.

However, the first project didn’t go as planned, and we wound up DIYing anyway. (Matt did most of the work.)

It seemed like a fairly simple task at first… removing the tile in the living room, kitchen, hallway, and powder room (approximately 500-700 sq ft… I’m not actually going to measure it for you.) I mean, it wasn’t something that I wanted to do, but I figured we could hire someone who would get it done rather quickly… 

HOWEVER, the project took two days instead of one because the crew kept breaking their tools and running off for “lunch” breaks… or listening to the football game instead of working. And after the third time they broke their thinset remover and called to tell me they would be back in a couple of hours, I politely told them that they would get paid for the work that they had completed, but we didn’t have time for this… So, Matt and I went to home depot at 5pm on Sunday to rent a thinset remover ourselves.

Here is what the tile looked like before the tile removal:

There were two different options for tool rental at The Home Depot. The first option was a small version of a jack hammer with an insertable scraper bit that looked like this:

This option was the most cost-effective, but we were afraid that we would be sorry if we went this route. 1) It looked like a lot more work, and 2) this was the same tool that the contractors were using… and breaking.

So, we chose option #2) A buffer with a hexpin hexblade and carbide teeth. (The guy in the tool rental department assured us that we could not break this even if we tried lol.) Of course, this option was more than double in cost, and in the end I think it created a lot more dust than the hand tool would have, but the process was comparatively quick, and we didn’t have to worry about breakage.

Here is Matt surrounded by a cloud of dust:

I spent all day on Monday cleaning dust off of and out of just about everything… and I’m sure I will be doing so for the next few weeks. I am very excited to have this project finished though, and I am not at all sad that those ugly tiles are no longer a part of my life. 🙂 (The wooden ones reminded me of the cheap dance floor at uncle Bob’s 5th wedding… you know what I’m talking about.)

Oh, and as for the contractors, I don’t want to name names, but let’s just say I won’t be recommending them to any of my friends.

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Just a compilation of things that inspire me lately, and hopefully some eye candy for you.

Kelly Green:

Hague Blue:

Large floral prints:

Fig tarts… and other creative things with figs:

Watercolor-style paintings:

Lotus lights:

… and lucite handles:

What inspires you lately?

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A Picture Project

A few months ago, I picked up these beauties at My Sister’s Attic for $10.00, and since then, they have moved from place to place around our house, but never found a permanent location.

 Every once in a while,  I would set them on a table, dresser, desk etc., and try to convince myself that I had found the perfect place for them… There was always something that stopped me from putting them on the wall though, and it wasn’t until I painted an accent wall in the guest bedroom last weekend, that I decided the color was the problem.

Although the green background and aged patina were part of why I purchased them in the first place, it just wasn’t working with our house. So, I decided to give them a makeover… and I told myself that if something went wrong, I’ve only wasted $10, right?

Here they are in progress.

(I used leftover Behr paint from the accent wall as well as gold leaf paint for the frame.)

… and Matt was kind enough to hang them on the wall for me! (You really don’t want to trust me with a level.)

Here is a view of the whole wall. Yes, this room needs baseboards as well…

The dresser in the picture needs a new home by the way. If you’re interested, just let me know! It’s never been used, but we’re trading it for something to match this nightstand.

So, what do you think? Did I do something unmentionable by altering an antique?

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