Monday, December 19, 2011

Sassy Salvagaing...Old door to new headboard!

So you will find I am not always out in my garden...oh shock! Especially in the lovely winter months here in Seattle. Maybe if I were still in Sydney where the sun is still brave enough to shine on through the winter, but here even the sun is afraid to show its face in my usually frosty yard.
What is one to do when the garden is just not calling? When the indoors are cozy and the closest I get to gardening is looking at it through the window and my thoughts say...brrr, Hell no!

Its time to hibernate and decorate!!! Where I can stay in my snugly jammies with a hot cup of coffee, where the possibilities are limitless...New color on the walls, a DIY project inspired by Pinterest, clearing some clutter, and I guess the cleaning that has to come first...but really phooie to the un-forfilling cleaning, I just want to get creative and decorate!!

The first week of rain and I hit the local salvage center for a quick (well supposed to be quick) DIY project....Its Bedroom make-over time and I need a new headboard. Plus my hubby is out of town on a business trip so its...surprise bedroom make-over time!! And yes, I did pretend I was on one of those HGTV make-over shows, especially when it came time for the big!

Inspiration...Pinterest of cause!! Here is the pic that got the creative juices flowing. Check out the link

Time...Should've taken a 4-6hours, but math and measuring are really not my strength, lets just say lots of caulking to fill my mistakes...oops! Ended up taking 2 days from first measure to fully installed!

Cost... An old solid 1920's wood 5 panel door $15, molding 50c/ft = $3 and paint, caulking, nails and scrap-wood I already had. With my credit at Second use I ended up paying nada...woot! So for under $20 a new chic salvaged headboard. So much cheaper than a store bought, plus I can say I made it, faults and all! Although I like to call those bits "see I really did make it" marks.

Supplies...Old panel door (84in) works well for a King size, crown molding, trim, a 2x4x8 (used as legs to prop the door on), nails to attach legs and crown molding and lots of caulk, primer and paint.

Tools...Saw (to cut trim), sandpaper (to smooth the surface of door for painting), hammer, measuring tape (if you are me, someone to check your measurements!), pencil, brushes.

I also ended up painting the wall behind the bed a rich grey and picked up some old bed-side lamps at a thrift store. Here is my end result....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Blooming Fall Beauty

My last bloom to withstand the freeze of fall. It was quite the well protected survivor...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Should've bought a leaf blower...but inflatable flamingos are so much fun!

Its always the way, half way through raking the never-ending falling leaves in my yard, I am reminded by my nagging, practical and indecisive mind..."You should've bought that leaf blower!"
You know the one you see on sale in summer when no one needs a leaf blower, its marked 80% off as its left over from last years stock. But fooie, its summer and I could think of so many more exciting ways to spend the $50...this year it was new pool toys including an inflatable flamingo...I know you're jealous, what a buy!!!

Every year, I have the same conversation with myself and every year the same answer... "Well I'm done raking now, maybe I'll get it next year in the sales."

However, if its not my annoying mind nagging me at this time of year, its my equally as annoying "Mr Jones" like neighbor, who so perfectly-times the start up of his leaf blower as to abruptly na! I have one, watch me get this done in half the time and with so much "perfect yard-keeper manpower"...insert manly power tool growl here!

So now I am left, after raking for the 4th time this blustery leaf falling season, exhausted, chilled to the bone, blisters on hands (Ok I know, gloves next time!) and a death wish for all deciduous trees.(Not really trees, I love you, especially Magnolia...but grrrr!!)
What should I do? Go buy a "Mr Jones" leaf blower now, when I know they are in demand and full price? or wait for the sales in summer when I am sure an inflatable pool pony would be more enticing? or just not bother at all? Ahhh the choices we must make!!

Now that I think about it, as I am sitting down with my rum apple cider (more rum than cider) which helps with the burning sensation from the numbness in my hands, I find the horror of the raking I just endured is fading quickly. Clarity...could anything be more disruptive on a beautiful fall day than the never ending sound of a leaf blower, vomiting out a gas stench, while driving the neighborhood dogs to insanity? Really is it worth it?
Raking is so simple and intimate, the sounds the smells, the cursing at the leaves. On a perfect fall day is there anything more Fall'ish to do? See now I am torn, to buy or not to buy oh and which one? Or rake will I see you again, same-place/same-time next year?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unique & affordable gift ideas for the gardener in us all!

With Christmas just around the corner I find myself faced with the question...what do I want for Christmas? Besides the obvious...a clean house, perfect children and a cabinet stocked with liquor! I find myself searching aimlessly for what I really want. Ummmm? yeah not a clue!

I have to say its hard to think of "wants" when money is such a rare commodity these days. Like I am sure for so many others, Christmas can be an expensive time made all the more expensive by expectations of what a perfect Christmas should be. The huge and impressive cooked meal, the gathering of friends and family (the more the merrier right?), the gifts from the never-ending Santa list beautifully written in crayon and stuck to the fridge so you will not forget the parent guilt of making your children happy, which by the way our chocolate-eating-Vodka-drinking Santa gets the credit for any way! (We like to appreciate Santa with more than just milk and cookies)

My oldest wants video games, spy gear, Ipod (you know, all the expensive stuff from the Christmas catalog) While my six year old wants a drum-set (which will inevitably come with sound proofing for the walls, maybe a basement extension to put it in, headphones for the household and an extra large bottle of Xanax for me!)

So here lies my conundrum can I really afford to have wants this time of year when there are already so many other wants out there feasting on the little money we do have?
Well after hours of productive surfing online I have come to the conclusion...hell yeah I can!!
I may not get that amazing French provincial greenhouse I saw at the garden expo last year (although hint hint honey I would really love it!!) or give my gardening neighbor those diamond crusted gardening gloves I saw on Amazon...but check out all this amazing affordable goodness for garden lovers. Oh I want! I want!
This could also work well for teachers and grandparents or that hard to buy for uncle who says he likes everything anyway!

What are some gardening inspired gifts you have loved to give or have received? I'm feeling inspired after seeing all this creativity to make some gifts this year too, I think I may have to blog about that next!

Thanks for reading, its nice to be back...xx
Cheers Julia

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Back to Blogging

School is Back and so am I! I'm so looking forward to posting once again and catching up with all my favorite blogs now that the craziness of summer break has come to an end. So much has happened in my garden and around the Northwest I am bursting to share....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learning how to balance....Life & Blogging!

Sigh..."Really! Didn't I just clean you bathroom? I don't want to scrub toilets I want to blog!" (insert bratty 3yr old tantrum here) Actually when I think about my day and the time spent, it is usually filled with brain-numbing chores that will only need to be re-done again tomorrow. Things that will be messed up or eaten, not meaningful things that I can look back on in a months time and admire. But then who actually admires a newly cleaned toilet anyway!

Insert flower photo here. It is a garden blog after!

So there lays my problem! Balance, there has to be some. One of the reasons I started my blog was a personal way to have a creative outlet and provide some "Me" balance in my days. Write, garden, photography, meeting new people, all things I love to do, so it was a perfect coming together of my interests, not to mention I really LOVE it!! It was a great balance...kind of the, Stay At Home Mom by day, Wine Drinking Garden Blogger by night. Sounds great hey!

Then walks in summer vacation...oh joy! Now don't get me wrong, I love being a mom with the many fun and exciting moments and I love my kids more than life. My two boys 6 & 8 are the sweetest, funniest things you will ever meet. But seriously, 10 weeks of no school is beyond a form of "cruel and unusual punishment" for a stay at home parent, its enough to drive me to drink (oh already there) its enough to drive me completely insane...lock me up!! Goodbye blogging...sniff sniff! Goodbye gardening...sniff sniff! I just couldn't do it with so much else that needed doing....the guilt of giving my time to blogging, putting it before the kids, house or the husband, it was killing me!

My days were now full of not only the brain-numbing chores but now the insanity-inducing entertainment, chauffeur driving, my wish is your command, 8yr old boy type of day!! (Although I have learnt how to defeat Bowser in Super Mario Bros, so not all is lost) With my days now so full, by the time the boys were finally in bed for the night, so was I! To tired to finish the laundry let alone do any blogging or god! Agh the neglect.

Insert another pic for my garden blogging friends here!

So the lesson that I have learnt this summer....DON'T do it ALL! You will seriously go crazy and then nothing will be achieved, except in my case where I helped stimulate economy with my wine purchasing!
I have had to put aside the idea that I am a supermom and can do it all! I have tried to do that to only burn myself out or neglect areas in my life that need me. Time to re-prioritize and let go of guilt and pressure...ahh its freeing! My blogging is me, its what I do! If my kitchen is messy it wont kill anyone if it is put it off for a bit while I get my post out.
Balancing has to be done and blogging is one thing I can not do without!

How do you balance your life and blogging? I would still love any tips or tricks as to what can help...thanks!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy summer days...I have a tomato!

Just when I had given up on any hope for my rather leggy and pathetic tomato plants...low and behold I have a juicy little green "Early Girl" growing quite happily on the vine! It was one of those moments where you take a quick second glance as I couldn't believe my eyes! I have to be honest, this year the weather has been dismal and just wrong on so many levels for tomatoes. I had given up weeks ago and was happy for it to go to seed. Here it is as a once happy start...

Back in May when I was given my little starts from a wonderful friend, I was full of excitement and joy for there is nothing sweeter than home grown tommy's. I nurtured it and cared for it daily, expecting great things and planning ways on how to best devour the soon to be bountiful crop...mmm bruschetta or a fresh Caprese salad, oh yum!

Surprisingly happy once again!

But alas I have one, just one perfect little tomato that is now again being treated like a baby and being doted on daily. I am crossing my fingers once again and feeling grateful for the small but happy early girl. Not sure how many I will get, I wonder if I will have enough for one of my fave tomato recipes, simple but yummy and great for a snack or appetizer....

Tomato Feta Bruschetta

1 large baguette - sliced
4 large tomatoes - finally chopped
1 large spanish onion - finally chopped
1 cup Basil - finally chopped
2 cloves Garlic - crushed
1/2 cup of crumbled Feta
1/3 cup Olive oil
1/3 balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt & Cracked pepper

- Combine all ingredients (except bread) in a bowl, season to taste.
- Spoon above on to lightly grilled, olive oil drizzled crunchy bread.
- Enjoy (sharing is optional...hehe!)

This will be the first of I hope many recipes to come for my Plot to Plate section of my blog. I have many local allotment gardeners who are looking forward to sharing their favorite dishes, please contact me if you have a recipe that you would love featured here on Polka Dot Galoshes, I'd love to post it...thanks =)

How are your tomatoes going this year? What is your favorite way to prepare your tasty homegrown tomatoes?

Also, I have joined my first blog hop! Stay tuned as I am still learning what to do...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photography & Nature...two passions combine

There is nothing I love more than a warm sunny day, giggling happy children, and some free time to disappear into my backyard. While I do love to wander in the garden wearing my pink and somewhat garish garden gloves and toting a well loved trowel, lately my SLR camera has been my favorite tool of choice.

I am loving the view through my lens, the tinniest of discoveries can be found if you just stop and look. From the detail of a not so simple bud to the depth of color in an ever-changing petal. It's these little things I love to capture in a photo, always looking for something of interest that I may of otherwise missed.

Seriously though, I have a lot to learn! There are so many wonderful features and techniques my camera has to offer and if you ask me what I can do with it? Well...ummm, Auto-setting! You know the green square where everything is done for you...hehe, basically a glorified point and shoot. If I get adventurous I do switch to Macro, take a dozen pics of the same thing and cross my fingers one turns out half decent. That there is about the extent of my camera know-how!

On the other hand, putting the technical stuff aside. My real passion is in the composition, the eye for balance of positive and negatives, the shapes and how they fill the space, the colors and patterns and the movement captured in a still. Its my love of the creative and appreciating all things beautiful that really gets me excited about photography. Now to learn the technical stuff to add to the creative...oh I am so excited!!

I am looking forward to taking it a little more seriously, I've ordered some books on macro's and exposures, plus I am hoping to take a workshop (when I find one) on Botanical photography....I'm so excited! Can't wait to share with you all that I learn, through my happy snaps in future posts.

Garden photography books I recommend... 

The Art of Flower & Garden Photography - Clive Nicols   
Aimed at capturing the beauty of plants and gardens, featuring the author's own award-winning work, provides expert advice on all aspects of the subject. Topics range from close-up details and individual plant portraits to composing vistas that reveal the grandest gardens in all their glory.

Creative Close-ups: Digital photography tricks and techniques - Harold Davis
Renowned photographer Harold Davis provides pages of field-tested techniques on focus, depth-of-field, exposure-even the appropriate equipment to use for this unique niche of digital photography. The book includes stunning and intriguing examples of his work to illustrate concepts.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Buds, please don't bloom to quickly!

So much in my garden at the moment is luscious green and budding! Besides the roses and hydrangeas all other flowers are still wrapped tightly in their buds hiding, maybe from all this rain? One thing I am grateful for, is all this waiting has made me appreciate the beauty to be found in a bud, the moment before they burst open and the bloom steals the spot light....

The bud of a Star Jasmine (Confederate Jasmine) I love the curl of this bud, its unlike any other I have seen. The swirl of the tip with the soon to be petals and the fragrant smell that is already lingering. This is one of my "thought dead" Jasmine that survived after a brutal winter, making these buds a happy sight indeed.

This plant keeps coming back every year, one of those plants I don't remember ever planting and just appeared one day by surprise. These little buds are so soft and velvety and form in little clusters at the tips of its long stems. It fits into the scheme of things pretty well, gorgeous bunches of small purple blooms growing right next to my lavender, peonies and hydrangeas its a very pretty patch in my back garden.
However, does anyone know what it is called?

Endless summer Mop-head Hydrangea, these blooms will be huge once in bloom spanning the size of a dinner plate. But these little tinny buds remind me of a pin cushion, so beautiful and round contrasting against the jagged spiky leaves. Oh the excitement to see what color this one will bring. Last year this particular plant bloomed in all shades of blues and pinks as if it couldn't make up its mind, an indecisive plant I love it!

Again another mystery plant that I do not remember planting? It has appeared in my garden for the last 3 yrs and returns only to have spread further through the garden bed, I do love it! The gorgeous little round buds first appear in July with a late summer show and is usually the last flower in the garden in early fall. The buds appear on long thin stems bursting with one or two on a plant. The flowers themselves are quite "art nouveau" looking, something you would see in a 1920's art work...beautiful!

Finally my snap-dragon is just now blooming! With spring come and gone, this flower is a little slow to wake up this year. It has been frozen in bud stage for two months and I was wondering if it would ever pop its flowers. I am so excited to see the petals now finally emerging....the blooms are coming!!

I loved the walk through my garden appreciated the different buds, they are all so unique and beautiful in their own ways, I am looking forward to discovering more. 
Are there any unique looking buds that you have growing? I am loving the bud stage!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Heady Hydrangeas

At long last the Heady Hydrangeas burst forth in all their exhilarating splendor....

May...Peeks of buds bring Spring delight

 June...Anticipation of color to be?

July...Explosions of blue sing summer is here!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Its the little moments....Stop & Enjoy!

"Mommy Mommy you will never guess what is in our backyard!" screams of delight came pouring in from my very excited little garden helper as he raced to the backdoor.
We had been out in the yard pottering most of the day, commenting on how our sweet bird friends were not coming by as often. (He is a bird Lover just like his mom and was missing the twittering's too!) Honestly I had been to busy to notice. But suggested that maybe it was due to lack of seed? Which was very quickly replenished by my little bird lover.

Look Mommy LOOK!! One of your sweet birds have come by for a visit.......

What a sweet little gesture that brought a huge smile to my face and a giggle to my soul. His comment "I really wanted you to see a bird today mommy I know you love them." awww, I could just eat him up!! I love my little garden helper and sharing my love of the outdoors with him has been so rewarding for all!

This year our yard is finally being used for enjoyment, whether playing with the kids or simple solitary moment of picking lavender or gazing at the perfectly blue sky. Many the night has been shared with hubby and bottle of wine or during the day with friends and freshly brewed iced-tea....ahhhh my little moments in the yard I love you all.

Thanks little garden helper for showing this crazy busy mom to stop and slowdown and appreciate all that is around, this sweet moment with my little guy and his bird is one I will treasure always! Summer is a beautiful time that in Seattle we only enjoy a few weeks a year, I need to stop and enjoy! This year I have made a choice to be present and soak in all the simple things.

What's something you love to stop & enjoy, soak-up for a small beautiful moment?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One hundred posts later...Thank you!

As I was typing (what was to be a Wordless Wednesday post) I realized it was also my 100th post here at Polka Dot Galoshes! 
Wow, what a fun adventure I am on and I am enjoying every second of it! 
I wanted to take this moment to dedicate this post to all my beautiful blog friends. I love your friendships and support, for all the comments and visits, advice and tips, the laughs and the sympathies...
I love writing for you and sharing my findings with you, I love reading your blogs and learning from you, having my eyes opened to something new or sharing a laugh when things don't always go right. What ever it is that pulls us together, the love of gardening, photography, writing or what ever it is that we share...
I am so grateful to you ALL!!


Thanks again for your loyal support, I hope to keep delivering a blog you enjoy and that you keep coming back to. Today I am thinking of you all while loving the blooms on this Sunshine filled day and all their delightfully happy summer scents!

Much love and Hugs...
Cheers Julia xx

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Backyard updates...It's a jungle out there!

Unruly, Crazy, rambunctious, out-of-control are just some of the words that would describe my kids...hehe! But also my over-watered, over-grown garden! Sure I love the country look, in fact I LOVE the wild and free flowing, but really I think things may be getting a little out of hand. I'm afraid I may lose a child, not to mention a plant or two behind the ever-growing mountain of weeds and mutant plants!

My front unruly problem child! See the plant poking up middle/top, that is a box hedge trying to catch some sun, it stands 10ft tall...yikes! Got some serious hedging to do in here.

But really it is no wonder, with all the out of town trips I have been on lately and all the rain, rain and more rain, the garden has become somewhat, gulp...neglected! Yes, I now currently own the house on the block that looks like renters live there...Shame! Shame! I am waiting on a letter from the HOA to see if someone still lives here or for an abandonded car to end up on the front lawn.

On a walk around my gardens today with an Arborist from Evergreen Treecare. I discovered it to be more serious than I first thought...
I know there is a Rhododendron in there somewhere? Under this beautiful, mutant size bleeding heart there is a small healthy Rhody, it appears to have been gobbled whole! Not sure what will have to go?

Also, how do you lose a tree? Last year I planted an Italian Cypress either side of my pussy-willow tree with plenty of room (so I thought) All 5ft of it is now hidden on the right, you can't even see it under the branches!

Someone spot the Hydrangea? Between the lilac shooters that are on steroids, the rose bush and the ground cover that's gone wild, my poor Hy has gone into hy-ding....

OK, then you have my garden appropriately named...Weed lovers walk ;) This is my side garden path that has just gone to the weeds, I have a serious days work out here just pulling dandelions alone...

Then there is this, the weed of all "taller than me" dandelion! Standing 5.5ft tall, yikes how long has it been since I was out here last? I'm almost proud of how big and healthy this is though, the soil has got to be doing something right! Not sure if I want to pull this one, or wait and see how big it gets?

But yet my Wisteria is being well behaved and hasn't eaten my house yet, I even managed to kill one this year! I know I hear the gasps of shock...You killed a Wisteria? I have no idea how that happened, the most indestructible plant on the planet!

So that is the latest news from my garden....Out Of Control! But oh all the fun to be had, its a good thing I LOVE GARDENING, pulling weeds, mulching, pruning etc...Will update shortly with another Backyard Update, one of the pretty type, the "after" post! I also want to post all the great tips I learnt from Brian the Arborist about tree-care...stay tuned!

Also, how do you keep your garden orderly? Are you out there pulling weeds every-day/week or do you have some great tips for keeping weeds at bay and plants under-control?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Choosing the right fertilizer for the job?

I'll be the first to admit that I am an indecisive procrastinator, great combination hey! If there are to many choices then it can wait, its time to find something else that needs my immediate attention...ah yes, the weeds they need pulling, I'm good at that! Hence why I love to "potter" around in my garden so much! The feeling of still doing something without really doing anything, its great!

So as you can guess when it comes to fertilizer for my garden, I am completely lost! Overwhelmed to the point of not even doing it, yep that's where I am poor plants! The wall of choice is dizzying, honestly I am so confused by all the varieties....liquid, granular, slow-release, rose, perennial (what, will it hurt non-perennials?) organic, foliar and the list goes on. Not to mention throw some random numbers on the side of the box (lost again) and the promise to myself this year to go organic...its enough to make me run screaming from the garden department!

Agh...what, I know its trying to tell me something?

I just want to know what to feed my yellowing lawn and my plants that aren't as vibrant as they should be, in the most organic way if possible...HELP!

I am on a mission! Mission....stay and face the fertilizer!
It has to be done or my plants are really going to suffer. In the past we have used a gardening service who did all of this for us (I know cheating!) more recently I have used organic products like kelp-food and coffee grounds, but I really didn't see much change! Maybe I am doing it wrong? The thought of over fertilizing and burning my plants does scare me, I do lean on the side of caution, maybe they are not getting enough? We have had a very wet year, maybe the nutrients in the soil is being washed away to often? My goal this year was to change and be organic only, but not at the risk of losing my plants, I have accepted that this will be a process and a learning process at that. Now to figure out what my plants need....and to just DO IT!!

First, what is in fertilizer and what are all those numbers really trying to tell me? While on an hour long online hunt for some answers, I came across gazillions of articles all with their own facts and research, however none where as well written and as easy to follow as this brilliant article at the You must check it out and really it is all you need to read, my job is done...hehe!!

The post is full of great info on how to choose the right fertilizer for the right job, what they consist of, even a great table listing all the varieties and what you would use them for. Really this is a very thorough post, thank you Weekend Gardener!

Here is an excerpt that I will refer to often...
N = Nitrogen: Encourages plants to produce dark green leaves. This is the chief staple in the diet of most plants. Yellowing leaves means the plant isn't getting enough nitrogen from sources in the soil. But it only takes a little nitrogen to do the job, and if your goal is to set fruit or vegetables, you don't want to use excesses of nitrogen because you will only get overgrown plants and little to no fruit.

Nitrogen can leach quickly from the soil requiring frequent reapplication. Nitrogen applied in the nitrate form is usually inorganic, fast acting, but can leach quickly into surface and ground water. Nitrogen applied as ammonium is from organic sources (blood meal) and IBDU (isobutylidene diurea - a synthetic organic fertilizer) and is released more slowly and lasts longer in the soil.

P = Phosphorous: Stimulates root growth. All plants need it to get their root foundation off to a healthy and vigorous start so they can support all the growth on top, but root crops and bulbs especially need phosphorous to do well. Phosphorous and potassium don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.

K = Potassium: Is critical to the continuing health of all plants, especially during the second half of the life cycle in fruit and vegetables when the plants are setting flowers and bearing fruit. Potassium is often expressed as potash or water soluble potash. Potassium and phosphorous don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.

So please wish me luck! What I have learned, is that my yellowing lawn could really use a good dose of nitrogen so the first number is what I need the most of. I'm off to buy some Alfalfa meal to spread around my lawn and garden beds! Excited to give this organic, nitrogen rich fertilizer a try.  

Some other useful websites.... - Avoiding Fertilizer Burn - Applying Fertilizer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Cheeky Celebrations

Do you ever look at flowers and imagine something else? Call it an overactive imagination.
Like fireworks exploding in loud bursts of color, celebrating the Spring that is now finally here...

 Sometimes, when they think I have my back turned, I even catch a glimpse of their plant cheekiness, 
I swear its poking its tongue out at me....

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