Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ode to Oklahoma City

After visiting Oklahoma City this past weekend to honor a cherished family member's life, I am reminded of my very first visit to the home of the "Land Run".  It was definitely a memorable trip.  Here are some highlights from our 2010 visit. 

First was a trip to the Oklahoma City Zoo. 

Then a quick stop at the Capitol building. 

We even found some modern architecture in a neighborhood near the Capitol!!

Then we stopped by Bricktown which was one of the city's Metropolitan Area Projects  intended to rebuild the city's core with civic projects to establish more activities and life to downtown. 

Historic Route 66 also runs through Oklahoma City and you can find some super cools spots along the way.  Like Pops and the Round Barn in Arcadia.

An amazing all wood construction, dome included

We couldn't visit Oklahoma City without visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum honoring those lost in the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown OKC.

It was a great trip and we will always have a special place in our hearts for Oklahoma City.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Growing and Maybe Not So Much

Devin and I have been struggling to keep our plants alive the last few months due to the severe drought that is occurring in our fair city of Austin, with some success.  Behold one of the two bald cypress trees we planted a while back from this post

Looking pretty good right?  Well Roxie sure thinks so.  Also you may notice Devin's little trick with some left over plastic edging to create a dam for the water to stay put around the tree.  Yes we still need to mulch the trees!

Well sadly as far as the number 2 bald cypress we planted...it is not fairing as well.

Notice the extra plastic edging dam created by Devin to help this poor struggling tree.  We are not so sure what happened with this poor guy but we are suspecting some Round Up action around the base to rid the area of grass may have done the trick.  BUT, we are hopeful that he will survive because this is what we see coming back!!

Yes those are some green leaves sprouting out among the sad orange ones.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that this big guy makes it OK.  I have been out there giving him encouraging words.  "Grow baby grow, you can do it!"

In the mean time, Devin has also started a little growth project of his own.  Devin comes from a cotton growing family, yup straight from the farm.  Grandpa and Grandma Young had a farm, E I E I O, so my husband wanted to try his hand at a little cotton growing to see if growing cotton could be a genetic trait.  Well GAWLY, it just might be, he planted the seeds and a day or two later this is what we have!

OK it might be a little easier to plant cotton in a pot and control the water that it gets and bring the pots in during bad weather, but hey it's growing!  A week later the seedlings are getting bigger and bigger!  Maybe we will have ourselves a mini bale of cotton someday!

On that note, you should know that farming is hard and it just takes it right out of you!  Take it from Lillie.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Special Day Just Cuz!

By way of Colorado, New Mexico, back to Colorado, finally to Texas, my cousin arrived for a short visit and some fun in the sun of Austin with her new beau Jon.  Luckily it wasn't melt your face off hot so that we could walk around the UT campus here in Austin and take a look at amazing trees and beautiful soffits of buildings.  The infamous tower at Texas was a main stopping point for a photo op taken from Jon's cell phone as that was all the camera we had at the moment.

Me and Sarah

Sarah and Jon
After we were thoroughly heated, we popped over to a local watering hole for a snack and a cool beverage in the shade.  This is where I experience my first taste of mussels.  I was hesitant at first and then pleasantly surprised by their deliciousness! 

As for whom I lost my mussels virginity with, this is my cousin Sarah and her new beau Jon.  Thanks guys for being with me during this special time.  Actually Sarah was a total mussel virgin as well so we were able to endure this new culinary experience together.  So, I guess it is really thanks to Jon for ordering them.  My life is forever changed!

Yes they were delicious!  I had no problem eating them!  Enter, obscene picture of mussel eating!  Holy tongue action!  Man that thing is huge! (that's what she said)

Once we had our fill of food and drink to replenish us after the campus tour, we headed downtown for art and dinner (I know, more food).  We visited the Arthouse at the Jones Center in downtown Austin.  It is a gallery space which has recently been renovated.  Check out this link for its fabulous transformation.  It is a amazingly beautiful space and is totally free, with the request for a $5 donation.  Sweet deal.  There are several super fun, inspiring, thought provoking exhibits currently and I would recommend the stop on any Austin visit or for all the locals out there.  I was of course captured the most by the architecture of the space.  Particularly the main stair.  Devin and I have been photographing various sets of stairs during our travels and outings to create a collage of framed stair pics on our stair way wall.  More on that as it develops...ha pun totally unintended. 

Because I loved these so much, I included the pictures in XL!  These will be an excellent addition to our growing collection. 

That's about it folks!  We wrapped up the evening at our casa and our company headed out to continue their Texas tour the next day.  We loved having them and they are most definitely welcome any time! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

So Far...Oh So Good!

When we left you after our last Front Yard post, we had cut down a mountain laurel and transplanted one bush as seen below. 

Shortly thereafter we moved the other two (and I didn't post an update, my apologies) and it made such a huge difference in how the front of our house looked.  Like I've said a hundred times it just opened up the entry way and made our front door the focus.

Well this last weekend, we decided to finish up the planting bed.  We were a little tired of looking at the dirt and I'm sure our neighbors were not too thrilled to look at it either.  Recent news is the Yard of the Month winner was awarded and it was not us...but a house down the street.  That is enough to get my husband motivated to spruce up the yard and win the highly sought after Yard of the Month sign in the front yard!!

So off to our local home improvement stores we went to purchase flat blade shovel, metal edging...

Weed block fabric...

and mulch...

We altered the planting bed shape slightly to allow for the front steps to be accessed easier.  Before it had the bushes and planting bed in front of the existing little walkway.  You had to walk on the driveway up to the path to get to the front door, which is almost impossible with a car parked in the drive.  So we opted to end the planting bed at the corner of the walk that way it would leave the space open to extend our walk way toward the sidewalk in the future. 

Here is a pic before we did any shrub relocation...

and here is after shrub relocation...

So to begin the transformation, the first step was to lay down the weed block fabric.  Since we had some existing plants we had to cut the fabric to ensure the fabric went around each plant. 

Since we altered the shape slightly, we (Devin really) had to dig out the grass from the area to make sure no grass would grow in the planting area.

Once the fabric was laid out, the edging could go in and around it and hold the edges down snugly.  Here you can also notice the new shape that ends at the corner of the walk way. 

Next step was to purchase plants and configure them in a logical manner.  Basically we made sure the plants we purchased would grow to be the right size so that they wouldn't take over the front yard and that one plant wouldn't be taller than the one behind it, also that they were appropriate for the light available (ours are part sun plants since the area is shaded some) and that they were perennial so we didn't have to replant EVERYTHING next year. 

Here is our layout...

To summarize, we bought a mixture of Mondo Grass, Asparagus Fern, Begonias, Vinca, and Oyster plants for a total of 58 plants I believe. 

Let the digging begin!  To plant the plants, I had to cut an X in the weed block fabric to expose the earth to dig in.  This was my time to shine! 

It really wasn't that bad because of COURSE I had help!

Finally once all plants were in the ground, we could mulch.  This was Devin's time to shine as I sat and drank tons of water and let my back readjust to being vertical.  He used the technique of splitting the bags in place and just spreading the mulch to the more open areas.  For the tighter fitting areas he shoveled small bits of mulch from the Great Wheelbarrow and also did some mulch spreading by hand.

Ok ok, enough explanation, here are the final pics!  Yippee!  I am so in love with the new look and now am eager to add an extension to our walkway toward the street!  To review, here is the before pic...

And AFTER...

Our Gnomio has a new home also!  He will do a great job taking care of our new baby plants.  Hopefully they will grow big and strong!  You might also notice a lovely piece of limestone next to Gnomio, it is a beautiful rock that was just sitting sadly in our back yard so we moved it to the front for it's moment of glory.  I think it adds some nice dimension and texture to the setting.

I also love how the green just pops off of the dark mulch!  Muah! (motioning with my fingers exploding from my lips)

Here you can sorta see the small planting area to the right of the steps, there I planted the same Oyster plant as on the left side to add some symmetry to the walk.

Voila!  On to the next!
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