Re-Purposed Outdoor Brick Fireplace

It’s a fact –  I need more planting space in order to meet my 2017 Gardening Goals.

With that being said I got inspired this week to do something with our unsightly old outdoor fireplace. About 15 years ago an apple tree fell on it during a storm and crushed most of the left side. I would have taken the whole thing out but the right side of it has an electrical outlet on it and I didn’t want to mess with having to remove the power line and to tell you the truth it comes in handy when I need to plug in power tools and Christmas lights.

Without a lot of funds and a need for more planting space I decided to gather all of the old bricks that were scattered around the yard and turn them into a potato planting bed.

Potatoes need a deep planting bed. As they grow they need to be continuously buried in order for them to form lots of underground potatoes.

Check out the before and after pics. I even threw in a couple of short videos.


After a couple of hours of work and lots of back filling of a combination of soil and sawdust it was ready to plant. I even planted a few flowers at the base of it. The only cost was the seed potatoes. Everything else I had.

This is a pretty good sized space. I am excited to see how the potatoes do in their new home. As the seedlings start to sprout I will add a few more layers of bricks and more soil until they reach the top of the bed.

I don’t plan on mortaring in the bricks. Right now it is a semi-permanent bed and I plan on keeping it that way.

2017 Gardening Goals: Plant Potatoes– Check!

I’ll keep you updated on this project. Let me know what you think! -MM

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Weeks 3 and 4 Pop Bottles Meet Disaster

Mr. Gray is in trouble. BIG trouble. We have 2 kittens we adopted in October of this last year. I was seriously worried about my seedlings getting damaged by the cats since it is an open space in our basement that I grow my plants in. Our beloved cat Bernie, who died suddenly this fall was completely trained to not go near the “kids”.

Oh yes, it happened in the middle of the night, a crash in the basement and a scampering of feet tearing down the hallway past our bedroom door. I knew what the sound was and I just sighed and fell back asleep. I would survey the damage in the morning.

Sure enough Mr. Gray, yes I know it was him, dumped the whole rack of shelves. Nine pop bottles were scattered across the floor in all sorts of disarray. I didn’t have time to do anything with them because I needed to get to the bakery. I would work on the mess when I got home.

Nothing, unfortunately was salvageable. The second set of shelving was still upright so I hadn’t lost everything, but the basil, lemon balm, cilantro, onions, catnip, and others were crushed.

Today I did get 28 pepper plants and 4 watermelon plants transplanted into their own, larger spaces. They are doing well and hopefully Mr. Gray will not get into any more mischief with these guys. Now if we could just get some sun here in Western NY that would really, really help. -MM

 

Seed Starting

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I worked on my gardening goals today and started some seeds indoors. Every year I do this and I thoroughly enjoy it. I take my phone down in the basement with me and prop it on the windowsill and watch Desperate Housewives with my Hulu phone app. Just me, and Susan, Bree, Lynette and Gabby gettin’ dirty with seed starter.

Here are a few pics of what I accomplished today.

Every Fall I dig up my geraniums and pot them and then overwinter them in our basement. Today I cleaned them all up, getting rid of any dead leaves and flowers. Now I will make sure they get plenty of sunshine and fertilizer to get them ready to go outside in a month or so. It is supposed to be mid sixties this week so I might put them outside just for the day to give them a boost.
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Believe it or not this plant is a tomato that I rescued last fall while bringing in the geraniums. It had just sprouted and only had 2 leaves. It has grown steadily and surely over the winter and I just re-potted it this afternoon in it’s new home.
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Last year I posted about starting my seeds in a pop bottle construction container. I liked it so much I decided to expand my pop bottle garden this year.

I started paste tomatoes, regular tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, basil, dill, cilantro and celery. I’ll start cabbages and some other plants in a couple of weeks

Thank you to my wonderful mom-in-law for providing me with the bottles!

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I can’t wait to update you on their progress. I am sure by next week they will have sprouted.

Unfortunately though by the end of the Desperate Housewives episode I was watching, Mike Delfino, Susan’s husband was shot. Damn, he was cute too. Oh well, keep calm and dig in the dirt I always say! -MM

 

2015 Goals Update Week 10

I have been working diligently on most of my goals for the year but I need to get back on track for others. Here’s how I am doing so far.

1. Renovate our only bathroom and replace the window in our son’s bedroom.

After having two different contractors come in and look at our bathroom we decided that we were going to have to work on some of it ourselves. One of the contractors gave us a quote on re-glazing the tub and putting in a new surround and fixtures. His quote came in at over $4500 and the tub re-glazing was only guaranteed for five years. The other contractor took a look and didn’t like the window we had in our shower. I didn’t have much confidence in getting a bid from him after that, thinking it was going to come in way higher than the other one.

I decided that I would re-caulk the tub myself, which was one of the biggest things bothering me about our bathroom. I had already done it twice before and it hadn’t worked, so I decided to try once more. I got a better silicone caulk this time and went at it on my day off.

Here are the before and after pics.

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Pretty yuck right? After spending a couple of hours scraping off the old caulk, cleaning and drying the tub and surround perfectly, I re-caulked the whole thing as carefully as I could. Taking care not to leave any air bubbles or gaps.  The instructions said that we could use the shower fully after eight hours but I left it for about 36 hours before we took our first shower. So far, so good. Nothing has started to pull away from the walls or bubbled.

Replace our son’s bedroom window. Done!

2. Catch-up on and read my favorite daily blog – “Feed Your Family for $100 a Month” by Mavis Butterfield. Also catch-up on and read a really great e-magazine “From Scratch”.

I still am not caught up on “How to Feed your Family for $100 a Month.” I read through about 30 blog posts but I am still behind by about 60. Sigh…

From Scratch is a bi-monthly e-magazine. I did read one of the issues but after reading it I was so frustrated with the poor editing that I have put it on the back burner. I love the information in this magazine and the photos are beautiful, however, if you can’t edit your spelling I tend to not to want to take you seriously. I even wrote an email to the editor but as you can imagine I didn’t get a response.

3. Journal Daily

I have kept up on my journal writing but sometimes I am a week or so behind and by the time I get a moment to write I have forgotten the details of those days. I have resorted to using my Facebook posts and texts to fill in the blanks. My goal is to write daily so I won’t forget anything. I am happy that I have written something for each day no matter how small the post may be.

4. Pay off one of our two credit cards

Here is my major focus this year. I have to say I am completely and utterly frustrated and stressed out about these two credit cards. Almost two years ago all of our credit cards were paid off and I was very proud of that fact. But life happens and yet again we are back in the vicious credit card cycle. When I had my bakery we had to put everything on hold including house repairs and waiting to buy new furniture and many other necessities. After I got my full time job as a bakery manager with a steady paycheck we faced the task of catching up on four years of back repairs and aging vehicles and household items. We needed so many things. Our couch was falling apart, my car died after ten years of faithful service, my husband got into an accident and the deductible was $1000. All of that went on a credit card because I knew now that I had a job along with my husband’s full time job we could afford payments.

Now we have the huge task of yet again paying these things off. I think about them almost every day. We will do it. I don’t know how. But we will. Stay tuned.

5. Organize our attic

Still nothing yet

6. Exercise three times a week

I haven’t done very well with this. I did work out twice two weeks ago. Does that count?

7. Read one book a month

I finally finished Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett. It only took me nine weeks to listen to it. I did also read and finish Takedown Twenty, by Janet Evanovich. I use Evanovich books as a kind of palate cleanser in between heavy novels like Follett’s, Giants. How can you not laugh at Lula and Grandma Mazur?

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8. Send out birthday and anniversary cards each month

All set with March’s birthdays!

9. Make copies of my Granny’s recipes and give a copy to each of our family members.

Nope. Not a thing yet.

10. Digitize my Dad’s family’s photos and make photo books and give CD copies to each of our family members

So far I have about 100 photos scanned and put on disc. It really is fun.

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11. Blog at least once a week

So far, so good!

12. Read the Bible from cover to cover with my husband

I have to admit we are behind in reading our Bible daily. We may not finish it in a year but my husband and I are still reading and growing in the Lord’s Word.

I feel good about my progress on my 2015 goals. Do you have goals? What are they and how are you doing on them? – MMR

DIY Project Finished

I finally finished my DIY project that I was working on a couple of weeks ago. My kitchen shelves.

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Before

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After

All are painted now and dried thoroughly. I put down my favorite shelf liner which is non-sticky and plastic so it wipes clean.

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I also brought down from my attic a box with beautiful crystal and milk glass pieces that have been stored up there for about a decade. They were my Granny’s and she had them on the very same shelves. They were packed away after she died and I decided to bring them out and showcase them again.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I am very please with how everything turned out. Now to make a curtain to hide the containers on the top shelf. Or maybe I could get new containers. Hmmm…  -MM