Thursday, June 11, 2015

An HOA Compliant Compost Bin

You might remember that at our condo, I made a small vermicompost bucket for the balcony. While we didn't have enough space there to take care of all of our compostable waste, those worms definitely made a good dent in our garbage and they gave us a decent amount of great worm castings in return.

In our HOA, compost bins are required to be approved. The idea is that they can be unsightly or smelly, but if you're doing it right they really shouldn't be! But, because so much of our yard is visible from the road or open space (great views of the mountains for us, great views into our yard for everyone else) we decided to play by the book and submit a plan for a compost bin.

The location that seemed the best for us, and our neighbors, unfortunately was also the most visible from the road. My solution: hid the bin with fencing, and then plant some shade perennials in front. Since this area was just mulch and weeds before, I knew that they wouldn't say "no" to something that would actually make the area MORE attractive from the street.

And I was right! The Architectural Committee approved my plans, so then Sean and I just had to wait for a non-rainy weekend to actually get out there and install the bin, fencing and perennials. We did just that this past weekend.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

I wanted some taller, flowering perennials as well as some lower green. This area is in shade all day during the winter, and most of the day during the summer, so the plants couldn't require more than a couple hours of direct sunlight. At our local nursery we found one climbing hydrangea, two Camelot foxgloves, and a couple varieties of hosta. I filled in the front with some periwinkle ground cover.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

A view that only people on our property will ever see: the actual compost bin. That window well isn't actually big enough to be a proper egress, so we weren't worried about putting the bin a couple feet away from it.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

Pretty foxgloves helping to hide the compost!

We're definitely looking forward to being able to use this compost bin to reduce our waste, and in future years we will reduce the amount of money we need to spend on amending the soil. It's a win-win!


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Linked up to:

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June Garden Progress

I know I keep talking about the adjustments in moving from California to Colorado, but wow it's been different learning to garden here! Sean and I used to have a fairly productive patio container garden that would last from early spring (March) to late fall (sometimes into November). Well, here it is totally different!

Our neighbors keep saying that the weather this year has been unusually wet and cold. We don't have anything to compare it to, but the average last frost date is around Memorial Day which seemed late to me! And this May was one of the wettest on record for our area, so between the cold, damp and potential for hail we didn't get a chance to get much planting done until the first weekend of June. And even so we lost some tomato starts, so I replaced them with sturdier starts from the local nursery. Here are some images of what we have growing in the garden:

Living Design: June Garden raspberries

The raspberry canes we put in this spring are leafing out. From what I've read we probably won't have a big raspberry harvest this year, but it should be better next year.

Living Design: June Garden strawberries

I think I've finally found a fence that deters the bunnies from chomping on my strawberries, but that I can still step over in order to get in there to weed and harvest! In this patch we have strawberry plants, spinach, and sugar snap peas up against the fence.

Living Design: June Garden serrano pepper

I have one hot serrano pepper in a pot.

Living Design: June Garden mint

This is the old raised bed from the previous owners. Next year I want to tear it out and replace it with an herb spiral that will look beautiful even in the winter. For now though, it is overgrown with mint!

Living Design: June Garden tomato eggplant bell pepper

I planted alternating tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants along the fence line, with marigolds in between to attract pollinators and provide some beauty. The bunnies also seem to prefer the marigolds over the tomatoes, so I guess that's good?

Living Design: June Garden foxglove

Foxglove against the trellis hiding my compost bin -- more on that project tomorrow!

Living Design: June Garden

The perennial bushes are actually prettier than I was expecting!

Living Design: June Garden roses

The roses against the garage started growing again after a very violent pruning on my part.

Living Design: June Garden

The perennial beds in the front yard attract lots of bees!

Living Design: June Garden

We placed some terra cotta pots with rosemary on either side of the front porch. An attractive way to sneak edibles into the front yard!

That's the current state of our yard. I'm looking forward to all of the vegetables and herbs really starting to grow and fill out. All that plain mulch has gotten pretty boring, I'm ready for a lush, edible landscape!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Street Market Finds

This last Saturday, Sean and I went to a street market held at one of the local shopping centers. It was a mix of antique fair, flea market and craft fair all rolled into one. We came away with some pretty cool pieces.

Living Design: Street Market Finds

An antique mirror for the front entry. I love that the silver backing on the mirror is wearing away in a few places, so it has that great antique mirror feel while still giving a useful reflection.

Living Design: Street Market Finds

A cool washboard. I've never seen one with both copper and aluminum before. The dealer also said it was a rare find. I've been wanting some interesting things for the laundry room, so this was a great score.

Living Design: Street Market Finds

Hundred year old sheet music. What am I going to do with it? I don't know yet. But I couldn't resist $4 sheet music dated from the 1910s. (One of them has pencil markings from 1913!)

Living Design: Street Market Finds

Old flight map of Panama. Very cool. This will probably get framed in the guest room, along with an antique map of France that I found on one of our trips to Golden.

It was a fun morning, and I'm looking forward to finding the perfect places in the house for each of these very cool finds!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 6.7.15

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: Stuffed Summer Squash

Tuesday: tilapia and spinach salad

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Brined Pork Chops

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: neighborhood dinner (our contribution will be an appetizer and some of Sean's homemade beer)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 5.31.15

Opening night of my latest play was last night, so it's back to semi-normal life for us this week! Here's what I'm planning for dinner this week:

Sunday: pulled chicken sandwiches (I planned these for last week, but the chicken didn't get defrosted in time, so we will have them now!)

Monday: dinner at a baseball game

Tuesday: steak fajitas

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: sloppy joes (to use up the buns from the chicken sandwiches!)

Friday: stuffed summer squash

Saturday: leftovers

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 5.24.15

This is tech week for the play I'm working on, which means I won't be eating dinner with Sean most nights. Instead, I'm planning some slow cooker meals that I can get started in the morning so he has a healthy dinner when he comes home and I will have leftovers for lunch. We will be baking some bread this weekend too, so that I can have sandwiches for dinner at rehearsal -- real dinners are not a thing for me during tech week!

Sunday: slow cook whole chicken, cauliflower

Monday: enchiladas using leftover chicken

Tuesday: slow cooker beef stroganoff
(it won't be my dad's amazing recipe, but it has the advantage of being slow cooked instead of needing a lot of actual work)

Wednesday: slow cooker pulled chicken sandwiches

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: pasta with pesto, salad

Saturday: dinner out for Opening Night!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 5.17.15

This week starts off still visiting family for a Bat Mitzvah, then a tiring day of travel. A couple normal days, and then I start tech rehearsal for The Mikado! So it's a slightly unusual week for my meal planning, but here we go:

Sunday: dinner with family

Monday: something easy like macaroni

Tuesday: fish and veggies

Wednesday: roasted chicken breasts with ratatouille

Thursday: slow cooker lamb tagine

Friday: leftover chicken and ratatouille

Saturday: leftover tagine