Potager Plans and Garden Inspiration

Potager Plans and Garden Inspiration

It’s starting to inch closer to Spring here in Portland, OR. And by Spring I mean, it’s March but the weather is still 27° in the mornings and it’s supposed to snow next week, but hey, who cares right? ME. I care! It’s FREEZING and I am over it. I am ready for warm weather and sunshine and sitting in my backyard enjoying the heat. So I’ve begun daydreaming and planning and pinning my backyard renovation. It’s a long ways to completion since demo and rebuilding of the garage is not on the docket until next summer, but I do want to get quite a few other things done out here this year.

As a reminder, this is what my backyard looked like when I moved into Berrybrier. Very little has changed since then, although the chicken coop is now gone and the vines are less developed since I had help whacking them all back in the fall of 2017.

So since the garage isn’t going to be touched, I’m mainly just looking at the right side of the garden and the rear of the garden this year. There’s a lot of things I want to squeeze into this space: a firepit (how could I not?!), cafe lights (the designer in me requires this), a chicken coop (literally a lifetime dream of mine!), and a vegetable garden! And that’s where my brain really starts to take off…

You see, the front yard (which I worked on a bit last summer with mixed results), I envision as this colorful, English country garden full of a chaotic mix of plants and some veggies with a meandering path leading around the house. Some of this will continue around the edges of the backyard as well. It will be full of life and slightly overgrown, a bit like this but more natural chaos. Lush greenery and bursts of color. Yum.

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In the backyard, I want to grow a whole ton of vegetables and this requires a more organized space. So I hoped on Pinterest and got inspired real quick. I want a potager, people. I want a fancy French kitchen garden and I want it to look a little something like this one below. The composed order of these beds just delights me. I know, I know, I am weird, but seriously, this really floats my boat. I can see walking out my backdoor and walking down my backsteps into this little potager full of veggies with a big firepit in the center and cafe lights on either side stringing from the house to the chicken coop at the back of the yard. Sounds dreamy, right?

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I dream of having something very organized and orderly. Yes, I am extremely Type A, how perceptive, of you! I’d love four large garden beds eventually encircling a firepit centered on the back of the house. A bit like this but with the center being a firepit with four big chairs rather than another planter. This shows a more naturalized garden beyond the potager as well, which is exactly what I have in mind!

The stone lined beds above have so much more of a European vibe than a wooden raised bed to me. They’re pretty, but stone gets expensive quick! I love the bricks here below surrounding the in ground vegetable beds. It’s beautiful and romantic and I love the mix of materials. I am leaning towards this over raised beds or stone lined beds, as it’s a bit more flexible if I want to change things up next year when the garage is demoed. Plus, when I bought Berrybrier, there were a ton of old bricks which I’ve moved around my yard aimlessly and they would be perfect for this purpose.

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This potager is entirely charming and I love the little outbuilding here all in white. I plan on painting my chicken coop white to match the house trim paint and if I’m lucky it will look half as cute as that little she-shed! Although I like the look, I won’t be paving the entire space between my garden beds with brick.

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For my garden pathways, I plan to use flat stones and fill the spaces between them with various varieties of thyme and other low growing groundcovers. I recently picked up some quartzite from a family friend and laid that as a path in the front yard, I’ll pick up more of it to really create a path. And then once the plants grow in, it just might look like this.

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This picture below I’ve pinned at least a dozen times. It is utterly charming and what really catches my eye (other than the darling chickens) is the boxwood hedge lining this part of the garden. Am I crazy to want to attempt that too?! I will need to measure my space to see if it makes any sort of sense, but I am very tempted to create a natural fence like this somewhere on the Berrybrier property. I also love how beautiful the vines climbing the outbuilding is, sculptural and lovely in summer and winter.

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The chicken coop would be a simple little structure with a central door and windows with window boxes on either side. On the inside it would be separated into two spaces one for storage (and maybe future Nigerian Dwarf Goats?!) and the other for the chickens.

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In both the front and the back, I want to add lots of evergreen plants so the whole yard isn’t just sticks in the winter. I have a lot of trouble with sticks all winter here in Portland. In California, winter is green and lush and summer is brown and dry. Here winter is grey and dull and the rest of the year is green and lush. It’s not my favorite.

I’ll also find/built some architectural pieces to support some climbing plants. Hopefully this will add to the landscape and create a secret garden feeling. I want the yard to have several meandering plants and some visual barriers that force you to discover different spots as you walk around.

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Another dream for the distant future would be to add an above ground hot tub to the side yard and surround it with greenery and some cafe lights for a dreamy place to relax and soak in the evenings. I desperately love soaking in hot water and not having a bathtub anymore is definitely not going to work for me in the long term. I love the way this tub seems to be part of the landscape! Mine would definitely be above ground, but if I can channel half of these vibes, I’d be ecstatic!

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It will take years for the plants to mature and grow in this manner and I’m not likely to afford such a luxury as a hot tub anytime soon, but in the meantime, I am going to continue dreaming my dream and planning and planning. Oregon is so nice to plants and gardens and the lushness here is barely comprehendible for a California girl like me. Hopefully with a lot of effort and care and good ole rain, I can achieve something like this dream!

What is your garden like? Did you take time to plan it before planting or are you more of a plant as you go type of person? I am completely in the middle, planning the general direction and planting whatever I fall in love with at the nursery!

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Welcome to Berrybrier!

Welcome to Berrybrier!

I bought a house! AHHHHHHHHH!! That is the sounds of my brain doing somersaults with my stomach. It’s a lovely feeling. But, truly, this is an incredibly exciting thing I’ve been wanting for a looong time. To have a place of my own feels fantastic! We closed on August 18th and I’ve been up to my ears in dirt, dust, and tools ever since. It’s the best thing ever. I finally feel settled in to my own home and you can bet that I’ll be tearing up DIYing the heck out of this place. In fact, I’ve already gotten started, but before I share that, I’ll give you a look around the place!

This moneypit house is a real fixer-upper and not in a cute Joanna Gains farmhouse-y style. As in, this house needs help. BIG HELP. And I’m here to lend a hand! Pretty much everything needs fixing on this place, and yes I do mean everything. Name something that could need to be repaired on a home and this house needs it. Although to some, that could be completely daunting, I’m just looking forward to many years of projects ahead! Which is excellent considering that’s all I’ll be doing for the next long while.

From the very first moment I saw the first pictures of this house on Redfin, I knew it was my house. I literally gasped aloud and got a strange feeling in my gut. THIS was my house. I knew it. After seven months of looking and putting in offer after offer, I had found the one. It checked all the boxes: pre-1940s, 2+ bedrooms, a big yard, room to grow, good location near shops and restaurants, easy commute, plenty of projects. Y’all are going to think I’m crazy when you get a look at these pictures, but something about this house is just so right. Enough preamble, though! Let’s dive in.

That very first image I ever saw of the house looked something like this one below. Basically, you could tell there was a house and that it was blue, but mostly all you saw was greenery!

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At some point, someone really loved this yard and planted tons of wonderful things like walnut trees, redbuds, hydrangeas, asparagus, mint, dill, parsley, fuschias, roses, etc etc etc. That person has not lived in this house for a loooong time though and in the last many years, this yards have become completely overgrown. It’s a mess! But a glorious mess full of glorious surpises like late blooming Magnolia trees and hidden troves of bricks!

You walk to the front door of the house through the driveway, which isn’t ideal, but I’m unlikely to be able to afford to change that any time soon. So everyone who comes over is greeted by the sight of my lovely garage. Don’t mind the doors. That’s just what they look like when they think they’re “closed.”

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The garage is basically falling down. But don’t worry, it’s not the garage’s fault. The garage has a terrible parasite: poorly planned additions. Yup, that’s right folks, the garage has not one, not two, but three additions! Awww, bless it’s little heart, it is still  hanging in there.

If we walk down the driveway to the back of the house, you get to meet yet another fun add-on: an octagonal deck and it’s multi-material roof. Now this is beauty, ladies and gentleman. Oh and yes, it is also basically falling down.

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Does the above picture confuse  you a little bit? Here, let me help. This should explain things better…

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Still confused? Me too. Let me try to state a few facts to help clarify. The above picture shows two of the garage additions: a workshop and a chicken coop. The structure coming out of the garage is the roof that covers the deck. It’s made of corrugated fiberglass, plywood(??), and a whole lot of screws. The supports for this little DIY roof, descend into the garage and chicken coop roofs, essentially ensuring that all water will collect there and all the things will rot. It’s a fantastic design. Truly, I could not have thought of it myself. The octagonal deck is made of 8 sides of different lengths varying from 15′ to 2′, just because, why not? The stairs of the deck descend into the corner of the garage and end about 4″ from it. As far as I can tell, this is designed specifically so that when you fall down the stairs your skull will crack completely open. That’s just my interpretation though. Also, this deck? Covers seemingly perfect condition original concrete steps. God, I love this house.

On to the backyard. This – and no sarcasm here – is what truly won my heart. This yard is bursting with potential. Potential and a whole lot of berries. On the far right is a huge magnolia tree that provides plenty of shade for a future table and chairs. Beyond that? All berries. Yup that huge mound of greenery is all RASPBERRIES!! AKA the best thing on earth except for chocolate. I spent my time touring this house eating raspberries from the backyard and it was heavenly. I cannot wait until next summer! You can also see a falling down fence, 1940s laundry line, and the huge chicken coop window in this picture. Why your chicken coop needs such a large window is a little beyond me, but I am assuming it’s so your chickens can torture Portland’s raccoons and coyotes.

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Here’s another view of the backyard looking towards the front. Here you see a huge rosemary bush, tons and tons of mint, a redbud tree, some parsley, and plenty of bees & butterflies. It’s really gorgeous if you can get past the flaking paint on the house. Yup the house needs painting. And a roof. Somehow I can afford this? I am surprised too. Luckily the windows are all updated! They’re double-paned which is pretty essential here in the Pacific Northwest. They are dark green vinyl exterior, wood interior windows which although it’s not my first choice, I’m pretty happy to have updated windows. I get to pick a really awesome paint color for the house’s siding to coordinate with the hunter green exterior windows and I can paint the inside any thing I want!

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Let’s go inside shall we? Here is the foyer! I am obsessed with this multi-paneled door. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and just needs to be sanded down and re-stained a darker walnut tone. That will make it look far less orange and 1980s. The foyer is open to the living room. Originally, this part of the house was an exterior porch that was converted into living space in the earlier part of the century. You can see the transition of the flooring. When they enclosed the porch they decided to keep the downward slope of the floor (that all porches have for drainage). That, my friends, is called “character.” The light fixture is kind of hideous, but also weird and beautiful, so I’m keeping it. The opening on the right to the dining room.

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The floors in the house are softwood – fir. They’re gorgeous and miraculously in good shape! The living room is relatively spacious and gets great light through south and west facing windows. The fireplace is an “update” from the 1960s or maybe 1970s. I’ll be completely reworking it down the line, but for now, it’s a functional fireplace! Which means s’mores! And fire! The pyro in me is just too pleased.

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This picture explains some of the flow of the house too. Standing in the corner of the room by the fireplace you can look out of the big front window to the front jungle yard and almost see the front door tucked in the niche in the corner. The dining room opens to the living room and you can almost see it on the right.

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The dining room is a little less bright since it has more northern light, but it’s a great size and fits my round table with room to grow. There is also a closet which we can’t close the door to, because it gets stuck shut. Which it is right now. Stuck shut, I mean. Just add that to my to do list, mmkay, thanks! Shout out to my dad about to walk up the front steps carrying tools though!

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Next you go through this teeny hall that has the basement door on one side and this strange hall to the lower floor bedroom on the other side. This is from the end of the hall looking towards the living room. The ceiling in the hall here drops lower because of the stairs. This lovely accordion door could be closed if you wanted to hide the kitchen from view. But yeah, that door already bit the dust. No thanks, accordion door!

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The weird little hall to the bedroom is kinda gross, but there’s a big closet at the end. This will end up being my closet because there isn’t actually a closet in the lower floor bedroom. PFffft. Closets. Whatever. So last year.

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The lower floor bedroom will end up being my bedroom. The other two I will be renting out. This room has nice high ceilings, picture railing, and northern light (good for sleeping). It also has a 24″ wide door to Portland’s smallest powder room.

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If you ever wanted to wash your hands while peeing, this bathroom is for you. Your knees literally tuck right under the wall mounted sink. In a bathroom this small, you’d better add 1970’s faux-paneling though. That’s the cherry on top. Truly, it’s precious, vct flooring and all. Plus look! The previous owner left us toilet paper.

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Let’s go into the kitchen. Look at these cabinets! The wallpaper! The old cast iron sink! This room is pretty dim from the roof that’s over the back deck, but I have a quick fix for that. It’s called demo. I wanted to try to keep these cabinets, they’re not in bad shape at all! Two weeks into the house, and I’m not positive they’re salvageable though. The flooring in this room though? The exact same as what my Oma had in her kitchen!

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Here’s a shot of the room that helps with layout. I took this standing on the landing of the stairs that lead to the upper level of the house. Look how cute the glass cabinets are though! SO MUCH POTENTIAL!

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This is one of my favorite details of the house. a little paint, a little crown moulding, and these will be cute cute cute!

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But why talk about the cute when we can talk about the ugly? Let’s go into the bathroom! Space planning these bathrooms was an issue. They’re also located in part of the house that was originally the back porch and it’s only about 54″ wide. So clearly you should put a ginormous bathtub in there, slap sheet vinyl on the floor AND the vanity, paint the walls dark magenta, and buy a pink toilet to match. It’s only right!

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Okay, let’s move on. The stairs! They’re not so bad! I mean the railing is black because it’s apparently NEVER been cleaned, but other than that, they’re quite pretty and not super narrow like most added to this era of home.

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The bedrooms on the second level are both under the eaves and just so cute. They both get fantastic light and are super cozy. And by cozy, I mean hot as balls right now, but you get the picture. The plaster is looking not so great on that back wall because someone plastered over wallpaper, because… well I’ve already said it.

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The closets in this room are a little funky, but that’s just vintage. A little rehab-ing and it will be completely adorable. Look at the gorgeous door though! Five panels!!!! I love it, love it, love it. Also the daisy flower heat register? THERE IS NOTHING MORE CHARMING.

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The other bedroom is where I am currently sweating sleeping, because I’ve given the lower floor bedroom to my parents who are helping me jump start the renovations on this place. Yay! Parents! The closet in here is a little more spacious and a little less funky. The room is a sweat sweet blue color that will be great in the fall or whenever Oregon decides to no longer be 100+ degrees. It’s just a tad hot at the moment. But my tried and true method of sleeping with a washcloth full of ice is doing the trick.

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And that’s it! That’s the house! I can’t wait to share all that I’ve been up to in the last few weeks and all that I’ve been dreaming about starting in the months to come. Get ready for oversharing and lots of learning experiences. Like this one for instance: I recently learned that I look like this after spending 3 hours moving bricks in 100° heat.

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I promise, give me a few months and this house will be almost as beautiful as that face. If that’s even possible. And if the spiders I keep finding EVERYWHERE don’t eat me first. Only time will tell!

Oh! And I named the house. Or I named the property. I am a total nerd, but I’ve always loved when people named their homes. This place is officially named Berrybrier. I’ll get into all the reasons later, but a good part of the origin starts with that out of control raspberry bush in the backyard!

So what do you think? Am I totally crazy, in over my head? Probably. Did you buy a fixer upper? Have tips for laying brick patios? What is your house called?

 

 

Celebrating 24

This past Saturday I turned thirty-five twenty-four and despite my wish to be about ten years older, it was a wonderful birthday weekend!

 

Friday evening I threw a big birthday party at my house. I absolutely love having parties. They don’t need to be formal or a lot of work to be fun! I did most of my party prep on Thursday evening after work so Friday I had plenty time to do the last few things before my guests arrived. Lucky me, I had some wonderful helpers on Friday who helped get everything ready to go in the last few minutes so I had time to shower!

 

I’ll be sharing a few recipes the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to give you a little preview. We prepped quite a spread. My personal food mantra is there is never too much. I’ve inherited a love of food and feeding people from my father’s side of the family. I simply am not comfortable when I have visitors unless there is a drink in their hand and a snack in their mouth. I have aunts who simply will not rest when you come over, unless you’ve eaten a post-dinner snack and have a bowl of ice cream with homemade fudge sauce in your hand. It’s one of the most endearing qualities of my extended family. These are definitely traits that have been passed on from my parent’s generation to my cousins and I. My food table was quickly full!

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

So at the party I wanted to do a few simple things. I prepped a quick version of my delicious, thick, vegan Butternut Squash Soup on Thursday evening. On Friday I quickly heated up a veggie broth, added everything I’d roasted the day before, and pureed it all together. Then my three helpers (my darling sister Bronwyn, and two of my best friends, Hannah & Nicole) put together a small army of crostini, the toppings of which I’d also prepped on Thursday. Now I love a good crostini, they’re delicious! I’ve already shared my favorite fall appetizer, a Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, Lemon Ricotta crostini and these spring versions were just as easy! They came out just gorgeous and oh so colorful! I promise they also tasted as good as they looked. Other foods I served? A delicious (but small) Mango-Mint Salad, a cheese plate, and a Spring Veggie Couscous salad. Yum!  To top off the entire evening of eating, my sister made an absolutely gorgeous chocolate raspberry cake. It was beautiful! Chocolate raspberry is my dream cake so I was in dessert heaven.

 

For my actual birthday on Saturday, I went out to brunch with my parents and sister at a place in North Berkeley called Cafe Leila. The food was alright. I think the pastries are the way to go at that place, but I ordered pancakes. They were a bit undercooked. Oops! Their selection of teas and lattes is pretty amazing though. We all shared one of their cronuts as well. That was flakey and delicious! My parents gifted me an amazing sewing machine that does an amazing number of awesome stitches so look forward to some sewing tutorials in the future! First step? Hemming some curtains for my bedroom!

 

After brunch my parents left and my friend Hannah arrived. My sister, Hannah, and I then all headed down the California coast towards Santa Cruz! We got a super late start, leaving shortly after 1:00pm. We took 92 over the San Mateo Bridge and over into Half Moon Bay. Before we got to the cute town, we stopped at some of the nurseries to see the amazing array of plants. The greenhouses were humid and simple signs reading “Orchids for Sale” did nothing to disclose the amazing sites within. Orchids as far as you could see in every direction. In every color! It was beautiful!

 

Orchids to Die For | Land of Laurel

 

In another greenhouse, there were amazing carnivorous plants (many of which I wanted to buy considering our summer fly problem!) and nestled among them tiny fairy houses. It was so cute! And these carnivorous plants were so interesting and unusual.

 

Carnivorous Plants & Fairy Houses | Land of Laurel

 

Lastly there were the succulents and cacti! Plants to die for! I wanted to take all of them home and slowly kill them (my go-to method for succulent care). They were so beautiful though!

 

Cacti & Succulent Nursery | Land of Laurel

 

After I’d died and gone to heaven at the nurseries we continued the little ways down Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay where we stopped briefly for sandwich snacks at a small deli and creeped on adorable chicks at the cute hay and feed store on Main Street. Some day I will get to go in and buy those baby chicks rather than just looking! Seriously, there is nothing cuter, y’all!

 

Baby Chicks | Land of Laurel

 

After our pit stop, we hopped onto Highway One and continued down the beautiful coast, stopping occasionally to take in the ocean views. At one point we found what seemed to be a wind surfing convention. Literally dozens of windsurfers were winding their way around in the water by this one beach. It was beautiful and so colorful! All the colors of the sails seemed so joyful against the backdrop of the blue ocean and sky.

 

Windsurfers | Land of Laurel

 

By the time we got into Santa Cruz it was already pretty late. We stopped first at Penny Ice Creamery for Bitter Carmel cones topped with toasted marshmallow fluff. If you haven’t tried this yet, do it! It’s the most amazing combination! The only Penny Ice Creamery to have this combo, seemingly, is the one on 41st Street, so be sure to plan accordingly! We walked with our cones down to Pleasure Point where we found a nice bench to finish devouring them. We spotted a pod of dolphins in the distance which made it even more lovely. We walked down East Cliff for a little while, watching the surfers and beach-goers.

 

Santa Cruz East Cliff | Land of Laurel

 

After our short walk, we headed to Pacific Ave for some window shopping before finishing the evening with dinner at I Love Sushi (we got four of the five Vegetarian Special Rolls and split them) and a bowl of soul at Verve Coffee. All too soon it was time to hit the road, but it had been a truly lovely birthday!

 

What do you like to do for your birthdays? Celebrate with a big party? A few friends? Just spend time with your family?

Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

Little Bathroom Jungle

When I first moved in, my bathroom (okay, okay, the downstairs bathroom) had great bones, but not much going on. I added a new shower curtain, some storage containers, and a painted gold plant stand.  I wanted the room to be full of life though, and as those of you who know about my addiction have already guessed, I wanted some plants! I wanted a bathroom jungle! I’ve been so inspired by pictures like this and this. I admire their bohemian flair, but mostly the liveliness the plants add to the space. Black and white rooms can so often be stark, but the addition of plants makes them feel much more natural. Since I always hit up the garden section of IKEA,  I had lots of things on hand. I picked up several of my favorite containers and a few plants on one of my last IKEA trips. I brought them home and decided to see what I could do to start my own little bathroom jungle. After all, one of my Oma’s plants was already living on the plant stand in there!

 

Because I bought so many, I stuck four of the small IKEA containers in the kitchen window. Now I need plants for here too!

 

Kitchen Window Plants | Land of Laurel

 

Then I went into the bathroom (the original purpose for the pots!) and stuck four more on the back of the toilet. I had plants for these ones! I instantly loved it. Look at all that life! All that greenery! Think of their ability to regulate indoor air-quality! Sold. Now I wanted even more plants.

 

Mini-Bathroom Jungle | Land of Laurel

 

I had just plopped the plants in their little plastic containers into the pots at this point. They looked pretty great there on the back of the toilet, definitely more exciting than a lot of the things I’ve store on here in the past!

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

While I loved the plants themselves, the white pots on the white toilet was a little blah for me. The look was clean, totally fine for some people, but I wanted more contrast, more excitement. You know me, never one for simple! And since I’ve recently embraced gold on an extreme level, I went for it once again.

 

I painted these guys way back when I worked on the Paint it Pink Challenge. It’s easy to spray paint things all at once. Here they are, upside down, in their original state (I decided to paint two of the kitchen pots too!).

 

Spray Painting All the Pots

 

And, after absolutely no prep and my favorite gold spray paint, they started looking much more fun!

 

Painting IKEA Pots Gold | Land of Laurel

 

The plants were still dashing even in their plastic containers! I’m no gardner, so I can’t tell you their exact types, but I chose them because they were all different. The long spider plant on the far right with it’s droopy leaves was perfectly different from the tall round leaved plant on the far left. I made sure it mix it up when I picked these guys out.

 

Picking Plants | Land of Laurel

 

I added gravel to the bottom of the newly golden containers for drainage. Because bathrooms are so moist, I wanted be sure the plant roots would never be soaking.

 

Gravel as Drainage | Land of Laurel

 

Then I just pulled the plants from their plastic containers and plopped them into the pots. Simple, easy, quick.

 

Plants Potted Gold | Land of Laurel

 

I brought them back into the bathroom and put them on the toilet. But four gold pots suddenly looked too stuffed on top of the toilet. So I ended up just using three there and stuck the Spider on the window ledge. Then I faced another problem. While I liked the gold on the toilet top, the gold blended into the window ledge too much for me. Plus, I didn’t like the look of the single plant up there. It looked lonely!

 

Three Pots | Land of Laurel

 

That’s how I ended up repotting the white stripey spider plant, stealing  the white pots I planned on using in the kitchen, and propagating one of the spider plant offshoots from my grandmother’s spider plant.  There. That’s much more balanced looking, don’t you think? I got that little candle from my cousin over the holidays and it made friends with the spider plants, so I think he’s going to live there now too.

 

Repotted Spider Plant | Land of Laurel

 

It’s difficult to photograph the plants on the toilet and the plants on the window sill together because of the crazy light that pours in the window, but below is my best attempt. At least you can see that it’s an improvement from no plants, right?

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

Here is where the bathroom started, no plants, no love. Now, at least it’s starting to get somewhere, cat box and all.

 

Move in Bathroom

 

A bit grainy from the crazy lighting, but moving slowly in the direction of bathroom jungle… One step at a time, people, one step at a time. Now I just need more plants. Or help with my addiction. Is there a twelve step program for plant addictions? I should enroll…

 

Happy Bathroom Plants | Land of Laurel

 

So here I am, making strides in my bathroom jungle. Up next? Plants for the vanity counter! Plants hanging from the ceiling! Plants growing in the bathtub! Just kidding, I need the bathtub to shower… 🙂 These guys here are still alive, but I managed to kill the happy Paint it Pink plant… overwatering? Sad Laurel.What do you think of plants in the bathroom? Do you have any in your bathrooms? Or do you have a black thumb?

Planting Fred the Fish

I planted succulents in Fred the Fish!! He looks amazing!! I am so excited to share this with you today. Fred has finally become his true self. His awesome self. Oh, Fred, how I love thee!!! I might be a little too excited about this!

As you might remember I got Fred from a pile of my grandmother’s belongings after she passed away in April of 2014. He was a dirty brown fish complete with chips in his cheeks and an ivy plant that had outgrown his capacity. Once I’d repotted the ivy and cleaned him up he was looking like this. Brown, ugly, chipped, dirty, sad. It was time to let his true potential shine through!

FredCleanedUp

I turned to Rust-oleum’s Sage Green Gloss spray paint to help me turn him around. Now the ivy is gone, the chips are disguised, and he glistens with a glossy coat of sage green paint. Beautiful!

PaintedFred

He was by no means done though. Months ago, I mean, seriously, months ago, I was wondering through IKEA and saw their succulents which we only a couple of dollars each. I bought four with Fred in mind. Then I left them in my bathroom and ignored them completely except for the occasional watering. Now that Fred was looking all spiffy, it was time to plant them!!

PrePlantedSucculents

I took Fred to the five foot wide stretch of space between our house and our fence and set up my make-shift potting area. First, I stole the little round side table from our courtyard and plopped Fred down on that. Then I got out my gardening gloves and spade.

FredtobePotted

Before I could break out the succulents, I needed to add good drainage. I grabbed a handful of course gravel and dropped it into Fred’s basin.

DSC_0463

Because succulents hate standing water (as do most plants…) I made sure to layer in quite a bit of gravel. This way if I accidentally overwater, I won’t kill them. Hopefully! 🙂 You can see here, I certainly wasn’t shy with the gravel. He’s about 3/8 full of gravel. Not a ton of room for soil, but succulents do o.k. in shallow areas.

FredFilledWithGravel

I then layered in the dirt! Which makes me happy, because suddenly Fred went from sad and empty to full of promise! Dirt means growth! Growth means plants! Hopefully plants would survive! You can see there was about 2 inches of dirt over the gravel. Enough to poke into a bit for the succulents, but still enough room for me to add more after placing them.

DirtyFred

Also sidenote — I LOVE these pink and green gardening gloves I got at Home Depot. So happy! So bright!

Now that it was finally time to plant (can you tell I am pretty much the least patient person in the world?!), I decided to start with the largest succulent first. I took the succulent and gently squeezed it out of it’s container. Then I crumbled off the dirt into my potting soil bag until I could see the roots. This one I can actually name. It’s Aloe Vera, friend to all who burn easily. Don’t you dare try breaking off some of this guy for your sunburn though!!

FirstSucculent

I was actually surprised that the root balls of these succulents were so small. It explained why they weren’t looking particularly fantastic. This taller one had been pretty flimsy in the plastic temporary pot. I’m assuming it wasn’t very healthy. Anyone know why succulents would do this?

Rootball

I placed the succulent into Fred’s basin, carefully spooning more dirt in around him, and gently pressing it down around the succulent with two fingers.

Planting Aloe Vera

At this point, there was too much soil in between the arms of the aloe vera. I later scooped most of it it out with a finger. Fred was pretty cool with the Aloe sticky out of his lower back. This is totally a new look. I’m going to make something similar out of cardboard for myself and copy that trendsetter!

DSC_0490

The next guy was also spiky like the aloe plant, but shorter. I decided this prickly little lady needed to stand opposite her taller friend.

PricklyLittleLady

Two plants in, Fred the Fish was looking good!! Gah! It makes me so joyous! I’m such a plant nerd.

two in Fred

The next plant — another succulent about whose name I have not clue– started out really short, but several months in my bathroom later, had grown into a long skinny thing. I’m assuming this was due to the lack of natural light in my bathroom? Maybe they are supposed to look this way… Who is good with plants out there??

SuccyTwo

Its rootball looked a bit bigger though! Thank goodness.

SuccyTwoRoots

Still not great though right? This is the one that looks the worst these days. I mean, it certainly doesn’t look bad, but when I get my Sherlock Holmes on and look a little closer, I notice some not so nice spots. Survive little succulent! Survive!!! I can only hope and pray…

Finally, the last succulent was one I’d actually saved from the driveway. We have hens & chicks (the plants not the animals) lining our driveway and every now and then they get a little beat up. This one I saw sitting out there on the concrete all by his lonesome self. He must have come off the larger plant when it got brushed with a car wheel or something. I planted him, with the help of my good friend Hannah, into this salsa jar someone brought to our housewarming party.

DSC_0510

He sat in my kitchen window for the next couple of months, getting lots of sun. This guy was the smallest by far, but definitely healthier than the IKEA ones. He epitomized small but mighty!

smallbutmighty

And look at that root ball!! Such a baller! Hahahaha. At least I make myself laugh. 🙂

Baller

After I planted this fourth guy, Fred was pretty full. I topped the Mr. Fish off with more potting soil, again pressing gently, but firmly down around each succulents. Fred was looking good, guys! A little dirty due to the planting, but getting there!

Fredwith4Succulents

You can totally tell how super bright it was the day I planted everybody in Fred. I think it was about 90 degrees that weekend. Yay September in California! To clean things up, I gave Fred a good dowsing with water lovingly admired him glistening in the sun like a new mother looking at her tiny babe before bringing him inside.

Wet Fred

I brought Fred the Fish inside and let him sit in the kitchen for a couple weeks before I took the rest of these pictures. I wanted the succulents to get a chance to root and root they did! They look so good! Fred the Fish looks fantastic! I am so not biased at all. I just love how he looks in the kitchen!

FredFinished

Remember what he looked like before?!

FredCleanedUp

And look at him now! The green is such a nice color. It’s really the perfect sage-y grey-green. It looks fantastic with the butcher block on our island. Such a nice change from the brown!

FredFromtheSide

From above the succulents are just shining! They have rooted more firmly and no longer give when I tug on them gently. I hope they grow out a bit. I’d love to have time pooling over the side just a little bit more. Luckily the shapes of the succulents and their varying sizes gives a lot of texture. They aren’t falling over the edges, but the definitely stick out over them from above!

DSC_0270

Oh my god, you guys, have I mentioned that I LOVE HIM? Just look at that glossy face! Look at the glint in his eye! He’s so beautiful!!

GlintinHisEye

I get to walk into my house every day and look that beautiful face! I am so happy with how he turned out. It’s wonderful to have this piece of my grandmother in my life every single day. It’s the first thing I see when I walk into my house. I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s so bright and happy. I love that the succulents show off the shape of the fish more. It looks so inviting! You can actually tell he’s a fish. I envisioned him pretty much exactly like this and he turned out so well. This is definitely an accomplishment for me, because everything I design in my brain is so perfect, reality can sometimes be a little disappointing. Frequently when I’m crafting or cooking. Hahaha. 🙂 Not with Fred though! Fred the Fish, I could marry that guy. Maybe I’ll just give him a smooch and see if he turns into my prince. Oh wait — that was a frog wasn’t it? Oops!

Do you have something of your grandparent’s that you’ve revitalized and use everyday? Do you have Fred the Fish’s twin? Let me know what you think.

Fred the Fish

This is it. This is the first real blog project post at Land of Laurel. Are you excited? I am excited! Maybe a little too excited. It might be the pint of Three Twins Organic ice cream I just finished, but I’d like to think these butterflies in my stomach are from blogging excitement! Let’s just keep our fingers crossed I don’t have food poisoning. Again… 🙂

Before I dive in and talk about Fred the Fish, let’s put him in a little context. Fred is not just any Fish. Fred is a very special Fish. To me, at least. And here at Land of Laurel that’s what matters. 🙂 When I was growing up, I lived on the eastern side of the Caldecott Tunnel, but my grandmother– who we called Oma– lived in Berkeley, CA, the same town I live in now. I have many dear memories of Oma; she had a huge presence in my life. Oma was born in Germany in the 1928. She survived the war and its aftermath, eventually immigrating to the United States in the mid-1950s. She lived with distant relatives in Indiana and soon met the man who would become my Opa! She settled down, had four daughters in quick succession, moved her family to Long Island, put four kids through college, then followed those four kids to California. The Oma I remember growing up was an impeccably dressed and mannered woman who read the New Yorker, New York Times, and toy catalogs with no discernment of difference in quality. Oma would babysit my sister and I after school on Wednesdays; she would host sleepover weekends; she taught me how to make Käsespätzle. It is from her I inherited my skills in organization & punctuality, appreciation for a great view & a good park, and drive for perfection. My Oma passed away in April of 2014 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for several years. Although it was hard on me and my family, it was the right time.

LaurelsOma

Now, this post is not supposed to be a sad story! My Oma lived an amazing, exciting life and enjoyed every minute of it. She loved her family, her daughters and eight grandchildren especially. She meant so much to us and everything in her life and home was full of meaning. After she died, her things were passed on to my mother and her sisters, but after they’d gone through everything, I got the chance to pick a few things for myself before everything was donated. One of those things was Fred the Fish.

FredinOmasTime

Continue reading “Fred the Fish”