March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Well look who the Easter Bunny remembered this morning...

Basil sleepily walked downstairs this morning to a little Easter basket filled with goodies just for him:

There were homemade Easter cookies, carrots and a boiled egg with his name all over it:

At first he was curious:

Then went straight for the cookies — that's a dog after my own heart! We'll cook the carrots and slice the egg to mix in with his food for a big Easter brunch this morning.

What did the Easter bunny bring you this morning?

March 28, 2013

Progress Report: Starter Plant Project Updates

We've started quite a few little indoor and outdoor planting projects over the past several weeks and thought we'd share some progress reports on how many of them are already coming along.

We've just begun to notice the first signs of our horseradish root sprouting up!

Even though this growth is small potatoes compared to the potential this plant has (it could grow up to 5 feet tall), it's always so exciting to see those first signs of growth — especially with plants we've never tried growing before!

On the same back landing where we've got our horseradish container, we've also got our first signs of mesclun greens showing up:

We can't wait to start cutting greens from these little planters for salads again this spring.

Oh, and strawberry sprouts are just beginning to peak through up there too:

We knew strawberry plants were perennials but it's still so exciting to see them coming back through for another season, especially when it's been so cold lately.

The mint cuttings we recently propagated and planted have really taken off:

Interestingly, the cutting we planted that didn't sprout roots seems to be the one with the most growth since potting in the soil:

The cutting with roots is still hanging in there just fine and also sprouting new leaves — just not in the same explosive way the other one has. We're glad we decided to give that second little guy a chance and hope to soon be giving an update on these guys where we've got mint sprawling over the sides!

While on the subject of propagation updates, our rosemary cuttings have also been doing really well since we planted them in soil filled containers:

You can see it's already got lots of new green growth shooting up from the top of the plant — we've been really proud of ourselves for being able to make these cuttings work!

After another pretty dormant winter for our avocado plant (last update here), we're just now starting to see new signs of growth on the main plant:

We're hoping for another growth spurt on this guy as the weather warms up — it's been a really fun longterm plant to have and nurture, but we're getting tired of seeing these same three leaves hanging out. The second avocado plant isn't doing so hot. Basil actually chewed off the top of it while we weren't looking and the stem is pretty dried out and woody.

We've decided to just let it hang out in the planter in case something happens, but we've also started a new pit in the windowsill in case this one dies — we'll be able to replace it with this new seedling:

We're still patiently waiting on the ginger roots we planted to take off, as evidenced by that empty white planter above. We're hoping with regular waterings and sunshine, we'll soon see signs of it sprouting  as we've begun to see with the horseradish.

So that's where we are right now! What plants have you been excited to see the beginnings of as the season gets going?

March 26, 2013

Before & After: From Throw-away Trunk to Repurposed TV Stand

Remember that old trunk we found in our back alley headed for the landfill earlier this month? Well, with a little TLC and imagination, we've repurposed it into our new TV stand, complete with castor wheels:

I'd spotted this trunk on the far end of our back alley when we headed out from the garage to run errands that morning. I pointed it out to Mary and we both agreed if it was still hanging out later in the day when we got back home we'd check it out. Well, it was still there several hours later when we returned. By that time, I was tired from running errands and frankly, the last thing I wanted to do was go check out the trunk, convincing myself the previous owners probably had a great reason for getting rid of it (maybe it was falling apart, moldy, had rodents, or something gross inside).

Mary still wanted to go take a look so once we got inside I changed my mind again and thought there's no harm in checking it out. We were both nervous walking up to the trunk, thinking it might be rotted, dirty or have some other "surprise" in store for us. The only real surprise turned out being that the trunk was a little dusty, had a torn handle and a few wrinkles on the outer bottom lining, but was in great shape otherwise. It seemed like it may have been a simple case of moving day or spring cleaning for the previous owner and this trunk just didn't make the cut.

What's even cooler is how this vintage trunk was made right here in Virginia by the Dependo Trunk & Bag Company — man would we love to know the history on it:

We decided to haul it back over to our garage, where I broke out the cleaning supplies and gave the entire thing and inside and outside deep clean.

While testing out all the hardware and closures on the trunk, I slammed the lock shut without even thinking twice about it — it was second nature. It wasn't until I'd added that final push to ensure the lock closed properly that I realized we didn't have the key to this mystery trunk — #fail.

After the initial shock and embarrassment of closing the lock, I Googled around to see if there was a basic picklocking method for getting it open (after trying a knife on my own), and then I found something even better — a website called Antique Keys filled with universal replacement keys for basic trunks and locks like the one on ours. For $5 I decided to take a chance and ordered a key in hopes it would not only open our trunk, but provide us with a key we wouldn't have had in the first place.

Tip: look on your trunk (ours was an everlast T44) for any identifying lock details and Google it for replacement keys — you can find them pretty easily on Ebay, and other sites like the one I got ours from above.

After realizing the trunk was in good condition, it was then we decided it would make a great upgrade to the trunk we've been using for our TV stand. We'd already been on the hunt for a taller trunk since we wanted a little more height below the TV. Here's a shot from back in September showing the TV on the smaller trunk we had it resting on before:

We also decided this would be a great piece to add some castor wheels to — they could not only provide a couple extra inches of height, but they'd make the trunk easier to maneuver in the space and give it a little bit of that industrial repurposed vibe we love so much.

We headed over to our local hardware store to see what kind of castors they had on hand and we found a set of four industrial steel ones we thought would make a good fit without overwhelming the trunk. Yes, we are those weird people that take photos of ourselves at the hardware store:

You can find castor wheels in most any hardware store, farm supply store or even online — there are some awesome and truly industrial vintage ones that can be found on Etsy

Once we decided on the castors, we headed over to the screws isle to match up the perfect fit with the holes in the castors. We went with shorter ones since we knew we'd be drilling through the bottom of the trunk:

Then we headed back home, flipped over the trunk and pulled out the power drill to secure these guys in place:

I lined them up evenly on each bottom corner and quite literally drilled the castors directly into the bottom of our trunk.

Note the careful eyes of my supervisor below — can you see him blending in with the bricks?

Note: Since we found the trunk in the back alley for free and the bottom wasn't in the most pristine of shape to begin with, we weren't too concerned with drilling our castors directly onto the bottom of the piece. We also knew this side of the trunk would never be seen since we're using it as a stand and while it provides great storage, we'll probably rarely open it — so the little holes left in the bottom were not a biggie in our book for this project.

After the castors were securely on, we brought the trunk inside to take a look at it:

We were thrilled at well it turned it out, but Mary said the bright silver tone of the castors against the worn brass tones of the metal trunk hardware were bothering her. She is a much more visual and detail oriented person than I can be, and that's just one of the reasons I love her.

So what did she do? She went out to garage and came back with a bottle of chemical metal patina she'd had in storage from her jewelry making classes back in college — Jax silver blackener

She said she could paint it on the wheels and while they weren't technically made of silver that it should give them enough of a patina to darken them up. If you know the type of metal you are working with, you can get different chemical solution formulated especially for it, like a pewter or copper patina.

I was pretty amazed at how she just painted the clear liquid onto the castors and they seemed to magically blacken up into even more of an industrial feel:

See how much darker the wheel and hardware got after the patina was painted on:

Once the patina was dry (in a couple hours), we flipped the trunk back over and set it up in the TV area. Here's what we've got going on right now:

Not bad if I don't say so myself! And yes, that is March Madness on the TV. Next up, we need to figure out how to hide the cable and dvd player boxes that hang out next to the TV.

Here's the photo of Mary trying to get the perfect shot of our new TV stand:

What the other side of the camera looked like:

And her outtakes of Basil showing exactly how he feels about her taking over his bed:

How does he always seem to steal the show?

Key Update: After pretty much completing the transformation from trunk to TV stand, a little package arrived in the mail.

It was our replacement trunk key — and guess what? It worked like a charm!

So for about $30 (breakdown: $24 for the castors and $5 for the replacement key), we've got a new TV stand we're loving. We took the smaller trunk out to the garage for safe keeping at this point, but already have a few ideas up our sleeves for bringing it back inside with updates of it's own. We'll be sure to keep you posted on that front, though we probably won't be tackling it as quickly as we did this guy.

What great finds have you come across lately? We always feel so lucky when we come across something and realize we'll be able to make it work for our space.

Discover More:

March 25, 2013

Weekend Basics

This weekend was all about the snowy weather! Forecasts called for one last wintry mix and boy did we get one. Here's Basil keeping an eye on things as the sleet began to turn to snow:

2 hours later, we had another winter wonderland underway:

We let Basil go out and explore — he loves the snow:

We always joke that from far away Basil could be mistaken for a small deer. Whenever the snowflakes fall on his back, he looks even more like a little fawn. Every time he comes back inside from playing in the snow, he runs back and forth around the house like a jack rabbit before shaking off the melting flakes. It's always funny to watch:

Since we had such a chilly forecast, I brought all the new container plantings we started a couple weekends ago into the garage in hopes of protecting them from the elements:

Hopefully this is the last chilly weekend they'll see.

Speaking of plants, while we were picking up a few ingredients for the weekend recipes I was planning to tackle, we picked up a teeny tiny bit of turmeric root:

One of our readers suggested in comments section of our Gardening Page that we try our hands at growing it since it's very similar to growing horseradish root and ginger root (both of which we're trying out now), so we've got plans to get this little guy in a planter of his own after a little research.

On the food front, it was busy, hunker-down type of weekend — which means lots of cooking in my world.  This weekend, both of my main dishes for blogging included one key ingredient — ricotta cheese:

Look out for my takes on a ricotta & herb frittata and a baked ricotta with spring peas coming in my guest posts for Lot 18 blog this week.

This turkey sandwich also happened yesterday afternoon just after the snow started to fall:

More on how to make it here.

On the project front, we finished up a few things we've been meaning to get to — here's Mary trying to get a good shot of our latest Before & After update while Basil supervises the shoot:

Mary also finally finished up the diy wedding project she's been steadily working at over the last 3 weekends and once we get the photos edited and loaded here on the blog, we can't wait to share it with all of you. In the meantime, here are some pretty spring flowers as a sneak peek in this not-so-springy weather we seem to be having:

Are you experiencing this chillier than normal start to spring too?

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