Welcome Back Sweatpants! AKA Fall Project 333

In the last couple of days it’s started to really feel like autumn. Earlier in the week it was sunny and really humid but now we’ve dropped another 10 degrees F and the morning fog has rolled in. The clouds are on the ground until noon, everything is damp, there’s a chill in the air, and there are spiderwebs everywhere. Happy fall!

And yes, today is the first day I reached for my sweatpants. I’m doing some work around the house today -laundry, vacuuming, checkbook balancing and the like – and suddenly I remember why I practically live in my sweatpants during the cool months. Obviously they’re comfortable. They are warmer than pj pants and a lot more presentable when someone comes to the door. They have functional pockets. And I can wear them out to walk the dog or post a letter. (Plenty of people around here wear pj pants out and about, but I do not – they go no further than the property line). I don’t think my sweatpants are terribly ugly – I have a fairly new pair that are charcoal grey that I think are fairly presentable. They work for my long Wednesday walks too.

But I do try not to wear sweatpants all day every day…

Here’s a look at my fall (and winter?) selection for Project 333.p333teesfallp333sweatersfallp333dressesfallp333coatsfallThis is 35 items, but I have a few other pieces that should be counted. A couple of black short sleeved tees, a couple of pairs of jeans, my all important pair of sweatpants, a belt, plus a few pieces that I don’t usually count like layering tanks and leggings. I don’t count shoes, or the scarves that I own but rarely wear, or cold weather accessories like gloves and hats. I’m OK with being a little less than precise about this right now. This is all of my winter wear – I really don’t have anything in storage for winter, which is why I’m thinking of having a 6 month season for this round of P333.  There are a few things I will put away once the weather gets really cold, and there are a couple of iffy pieces in this collection – the worn out black cotton cardigan, the orange skirt, and the wrinkly cobalt shirt to start with! And wow, how many cardigans, jackets and coats does a Washington girl need?! The wardrobe is always a little bit of a work in progress.

I was excited to find an inexpensive new winter dress the other day. It’s a fit and flare style with 3/4 sleeves. Yes, it has sleeves! and pockets! I don’t mind that it’s grey/black neutral because I have some colorful cardigans or sweater I can wear it with, and my coat is teal. It’s polyester so it could turn out to be a touch clammy, but probably not too bad for winter. Most of my dresses look really odd with a sweater over the top because of the position of the waist and where the flared skirt begins, but this one looks good with a sweater, so that gives me more options.

I’m craving a bit more color when I look into my closet – it’s a sea of grey, blue, and black. We’ll see how I like that once the really grey weather sets in. Thank goodness for bright colored coats from thrift stores, eh?

I hope you like the new visuals. I used a digital scrapbooking template from Paislee Press to create it. My new spreadsheet is in its usual spot here if you prefer lists – there’s not actual data there yet.

Thanks for stopping by.


(Edit: the original post said I had 31 items, because apparently I can’t math.)

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Project 333 – summer review

Suddenly it’s October!

The beginning of October marks the end of the summer season of P333 and the beginning of the cold weather clothing seasons. Which means it’s time to look back and see what I loved, what I wore, and what needs to be retired. (I’ll share my fall wardrobe soon.)

end of summer spreadsheet

I’ve tallied what got worn the most in September and also what got worn most over the season as a whole. My spreadsheet is here. I’ve added a second sheet for the fall and winter months. My method of tallying and pictures of the clothes I’m talking about are in previous posts here. More information about Project 333 rules and guidelines here.

Things I love and wear:

Sept most worn: blue printed jersey dress (midi length), jeans, light purple tank, pink striped tee, black v neck tee, navy cardigan, black cotton long sleeve cardigan, pink sweatshirt, layering tanks (3 different colors), and linen shorts. I define “most worn” as anything that shows up at least 4 times, ie about once a week. 

I “split my wears” a lot between my 12 dresses, but I think I’m OK with that. Over the 3 months of summer I wore a dress 55 times, and of those, 15 wearings were my favorite blue print midi dress, and 11 were my striped tank dress (which is cool and easy to wear at home on a very hot day).

I always get a lot of use out of my cardigans, so maybe it’s OK that I have so many! I haven’t worn my hot pink cardigan very often lately, even though I am wearing my hot pink sweatshirt. The (identical style) navy cardigan just fit my mood better. It’s probably the most useful thing I own at this point – I can’t believe I didn’t get it out with my spring wardrobe in May. Since I got it out in April I’ve worn it 24 times. Considering I have a lot of cardigans, that’s a lot of wears.

The 3 “Kate” dresses which are the same style in different fabrics got 13 wears between them. In an ideal minimalist wardrobe I would only keep one or maybe two of them, but they were made by my friend and they are versatile and fun and each of the fabrics is very different. The oldest one has been in high use for at least 5 years now (I remember I wore it a lot when my nephew was a babe and he’s 5 now). It needed a minor repair a few years ago, and at this point it’s getting worn in/out. Eventually it will have to be retired. I will keep some of fabric to make into something new. The newest dress is only a year old, but there’s no reason it won’t last many years, especially since the oldest dress got a lot of wear on the front seams at my library job, but I’m not lifting totes full of books any more.

I have 8 bottoms in my wardrobe and they got about 62 wears over the summer season. I made a point of wearing my new linen shorts a couple of times right at the end of summer when the weather was still lovely – I paired them with a light sweatshirt. I didn’t want to move into fall clothes before it was time (the weather was still saying summer, so shorts or a sundress was still appropriate, even though I could have worn jeans and a tank just as easily).

Things that are on the chopping block:

My never worn items include 4 dresses, 2 tanks, a grey striped top, a bright pink cardigan, and 2 things I have decided to pass on – an unflattering maxi skirt and a non-waterproof non-breathable rain jacket. One of the aforementioned dresses is also in the donate bag – the cheap trendy aqua chevron dress. I wore it a lot last year, but I’m already over it. It will be even more passé by next summer.

The 2 tanks are not the form fitting ones I use for layering. They’re tops I have hanging front and center, but don’t choose to wear. The lilac one was superseded by the dark and light purple tanks I was gifted in July. It’s still good, but probably unneeded. The emerald polka dot one is awesome, but… I don’t know. I don’t usually choose it.

My blue capris are very useful, especially for walking the dog and gardening (pockets!) but they don’t fit well. They are too long in the rise in the front and that’s not an easy alteration, so they need to go. I wore them 10 times since I got them in July… not bad, but not good. Next year I will once again search for long shorts with pockets. My yoga capris might be on the chopping block too – they are a little too tight and would be so much more useful if they had pockets.

I barely used my purple Target cardigan at all this year and it might end up being donated. I have it with my white and purple skirt (and a white underskirt that goes with) in my mental “should I keep this?” pile. The skirt is really pretty. I get compliments when I wear it. It’s the last of my printed cotton long full skirts. I searched high and low to find a tank that would go with it (and then someone gave me 2 more tanks that coordinate perfectly, although they are all useful for other things as well, so that’s not an argument for keeping the skirt). I love the skirt. But I might be done with wearing long full skirts that almost touch the ground. If I wear them at home they make going up and down the stairs to do laundry treacherous (and they drag on the basement stairs even when I’m not tripping on them). They’re warm in the shoulder seasons, but too hot for midsummer. I might be convincing myself to let the skirt be part of my fall and spring wardrobes…  I really don’t want to let go of it because the print is so pretty and it was a thrift score that I’ll never find again. I might give it a trial. If it’s around I tend to wear it here and there.

Going forward…

I have my fall wardrobe mostly in place. I have a few new pieces this year. I feel like I’m severely lacking in color, but a couple of small additions might make a big difference. I will share pix soon. I’m trying to remember that it’s still in the 70s now, but it will be close to freezing and wet by Halloween, and by the end of December it could be very cold again like it was last year – only 12-20F at the Xmas tree lightings. All of that needs to fit into this next season’s wardrobe. In some ways I’m thinking about this next season as being October all the way through March. The weather in December is mostly the same weather we have all the way through until spring comes. There might be some things I’m wearing in the next few weeks that won’t be needed again until next spring, but the only reason I can think for making a changeover on Jan 1st is boredom. Functionally I don’t think it’s necessary. I will think more on that as I’m writing my fall wardrobe post.

Well, thanks for letting me think aloud about these things. I don’t imagine it’s terribly interesting to most people. I tried to edit out the really boring parts. I promise I’ll have lots of pretty pictures for the next post.

Thanks for stopping by,


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Dungeness Spit adventure

This past Sunday was a beautiful day to go for a very long walk.

My friend M included me in her plans to walk the longest natural sand spit in the US with her almost 5 year old kiddo. Dungeness Spit is 5.5 miles (8.9km) long and the hike is considered easy, because it’s a flat beach walk, but it’s still a good 5 hour round trip. The weather was forecast to be warm and sunny, but even typical cloudy damp WA weather would have been fine for this kind of walk. Dungeness Spit is close to Sequim (pronounced “squim” btw) is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and is famous for sunshine and lavender in a region famous for rain and moss.

 "you are here"

The spit is a driftwood lover’s paradise. And a rock lover’s paradise. The kiddo understood that collecting was against the rules, but we took lots of photos of rocks that were especially beautiful (and kelp – gosh that kid loves bull kelp!) We spent a lot of time looking at rocks and kelp on the walk to the lighthouse.

take only photos and memories

driftwoodCollageThe current brings all kinds of things onto the beach, including some Japanese tsunami debris. And dead animals. They were a highlight for the kiddo. We smelled them before we saw them… The first was a young seal, teeth bared. Later we came upon a larger harbor seal and an even larger seal, probably an elephant seal or sea lion. We also came upon a fully grown deer, and then a young one with its legs splayed every which way (“like Bambi” the kid exclaimed gleefully – she’s not squeamish or sentimental at all!) We also found a couple of dead jellies. The dead animals didn’t get photographed – Auntie Jo was trying to set a good example, and I figured nobody really wanted to see them. They did become our mile markers on the long walk back, as we rationed break times to keep everyone going – 30 seconds in the shade after each dead animal.

It was a long, long walk… We stopped for lunch half way along, and took a break at the lighthouse. We climbed up to the light to enjoy the view, but we didn’t add in any extra hikes around the end of the spit (which keeps growing, leaving the lighthouse a good half mile away from the end these days). We had already seen a couple of (live) seals in the water – we weren’t tempted to walk further to see more. Probably a good decision judging by how close to sunset it was when we got back to the car.

lighthouseCollageDungeness Spit lighthouseThe walk back was tough. The kiddo wanted to take a shortcut. We had some discussions about whether getting upset about the situation changed anything, or made it any easier to keep going. We tricked her into running ahead, because she is 5 and writing an X or her name in the sand was more fun than running was difficult. She used a walking stick we found for her which sometimes helped and sometimes hindered.

almost done!I used my dSLR a lot on the way out, trying to get some cool shots for the kiddo’s end of year photo book. The tight confines of the lighthouse tower needed a wider angle lens than I had, so the iPhone was perfect for that. The volunteer keeper snapped a phone photo of the 3 of us which came out really nicely (btw people pictures are not shared here to respect kiddo privacy). Most of the way back my energy was focused on keeping on walking, but by the time we were walking the last mile the sun was low in the sky so I took advantage of the golden hour light to snap a few more shots.

When we finally reached the forest trailhead lookout point and looked back to where we had walked I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t really looked before we set out. That’s probably a good thing. In the photo below, follow the far right stick up to find the pale snowy top of Mt Baker in the distance – the lighthouse is right below that. So far away!

the spit from the trailhead

The kiddo did great. She wasn’t always happy, but she made it. She was the only kiddo we saw all day. The volunteer keeper doubted she could make it up the 70-odd stairs to the light – completely missing the point that she had already walked 5 miles and would need to walk 5 miles back! The stairs were nothing. And she didn’t get carried or piggy-backed – not one step. She probably didn’t hurt the way we grown ups did the next day!

31,000 steps! That was a good day’s exercise. Especially on sand and rocks. Fitbit didn’t give me nearly enough credit for my 6 hours (yes, 6 hours!) of walking – only 9 active minutes?! I got more active minutes the next day walking the dog. Silly Fitbit has no idea sometimes.

What a lovely way to spend my 40th birthday :)

Thanks for stopping by to see my little adventure.

I will back be soon with winter clothes.


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around here…

I am full of inspiration and ideas but rather short on follow through. I am writing this post because I just signed up for Ali Edwards Story Stamp program and I’m thinking a lot about her prompts (“around here” being one of them). I’m writing a lot of notes, but I’m not quite ready to start making scrapbook pages.

Hubby is busy with business, but it’s not as bad as it has been for some store openings. His next store is relatively near by, which helps a lot.

Mimi is enjoying the cooler weather – she can finally snuggle under her quilt again.


Mimi thinks she owns this place! She has started sneaking off early in the evening to sleep on our bed. She has suddenly decided that she would prefer to be alone while we’re still awake, so that she can sleep between us all night. She figures if she’s already in bed we won’t make her leave. It’s usually true.

I just got my hair cut. I like my new hairdresser. He’s a bit expensive, but the salon is really nice and local, and he knows what he’s doing.

I have my winter clothes out of storage, ready to change over for the fall season of P333 on October 1st. I’m stewing over whether to keep a few pieces that I love but don’t wear so much. But I’ve made a nice little pile of things to pass on.

I rediscovered my open weave knit, long, teal cardigan. I forgot how useful it is in the transitional seasons. I had a revelation too – I could have easily worn it to that dinner back in May, that day I felt like I had nothing to wear, that I was looking for something nice but not too fancy, when the weather was a bit on the cool side. It would work really well over a simple black tank for a date night outfit, especially now that I have black skinny jeans to wear with it. I need to remember that!

I’ve been browsing online clothing stores but I’ve decided that I don’t really need all that much. Shoes and boots are probably my highest priority, but I really don’t like shopping for them.

I’ve been enjoying staying in since it’s been rainy lately, but I need to remember to get out and walk regardless of the weather.

I finished watching Emma Approved (a delightful online series based on Jane Austen’s Emma) and I finished reading the book that Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was (very loosely) based on. I’m enjoying having The Mindy Project back on TV and lots of other shows have been coming back too. I’ve even watched a couple of new ones. My very favorite Once Upon a Time will be back this Sunday night. I’m excited for that!

I finished up most of my garden projects before the rain came, laying cardboard and mulch over half of the neighbor’s yard (the parts that I had already dug out, mostly) last weekend. The neighbors followed through and finished off the rest of the yard themselves.

I still need to plant the bulbs. And buy mulch for the rest of the garden.

PoppaBirthdayI’m thinking of my Poppa on his 90th birthday today. All the family is getting together with him to celebrate. I’m sad that I couldn’t be there. I have barely even met my cousins, and I don’t think I have met any of their kids. Some of them are probably old enough to have their own kids by now.

And I’m looking forward to celebrating my own birthday this weekend! I’m going out to lunch with hubby and his mom tomorrow, then going to dinner and to see The Boxtrolls with some friends in the evening. On Sunday I get to open my presents, and then I’m going on an all day outing with a friend and her kiddo to Dungeness Spit. I’ve made a list of 40 things about me for my 40th birthday which I might share here and/or turn into a scrapbook page.

Plenty going on around here…

Thanks for stopping by!


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Project 333 – fall finds

As we get closer to the end of September I’ve started planning what I’m going to wear during the fall and winter seasons. I’ve been working from memory to build a list of things I’m looking forward to wearing. It will be interesting to see what I’ve forgotten about when I unpack my tote.

I also did some shopping to fill in some gaps.

Oh yeah, and I learned to use my camera on a tripod with a remote control shutter. Learning how to model will be my next big challenge! LOL. What are you supposed to do with your hands?! I made good use of my camera’s articulated screen. I tried very hard ti look semi-normal, but remembering to stand up straight and smile was hard.

Goodwill thrifting:blogGoodwillfinds

I found the most amazing boiled wool jacket in bright teal! It’s something I had seen in a catalog months ago and considered, but it was $100. The one I found at Goodwill is sized for a tall person so it’s more of a coat length and it was only $20. SCORE! I’m going to pass on my raspberry trench which is too small and too structured. This coat is going to be so much fun! and it’s warm and has room for layers.

I also got a black acrylic cardigan which seems quite cozy, and an Adidas jacket with a jersey knit lining that will work for damp but not freezing days. Funny that the stripes are on the undersides of the arms. I also got my first pair of skinny jeans in 2 or 3 decades! They fit like a glove, surprisingly. I only tried this one pair and by some miracle they were just right. They’re really tight, which will take some getting used to, and I’m not sure if I love the look or not. But they’ll be useful.

Two jackets, a pair of Levis and a cardigan for $60. I was stoked.

Old Navy discounting:blogONfinds

My friend gave me a coupon so I went online and ordered some basic tees (one grey, two black – one v neck, the other crew) that should work really well for layering all winter. I wore my striped versions a lot last year and will use them again this year too.

I also experimented, ordering some shirts I had seen in store but not had time to try on. The big plaid shirt is a lightweight flannel in a petite size and it’s a really cute shirt. Except it’s not really “me,” is it? The plaid is too big, for one thing.

The cobalt blue blouse might be my “fancy blouse” at long last – it’s rayon and it’s too loose, but that was intentional – rayon is usually not preshrunk properly at discount shops. But now that I have it in hand I’m worried – if I wash it and it doesn’t shrink (or shrink enough) I can’t return it. I should probably have gotten one size smaller and washed that – I could return it if it shrunk too much because it would be faulty, but shrinking too little isn’t faulty. I’m still deciding whether to take a risk on the one I have in hand (do I trust that Old Navy is as crappy as Target?! I think so…) and if it doesn’t shrink enough I will do my best to make it work. (See the belted and the cardigan pictures for my ideas, although I need to revive that cardigan somehow.)

That last picture isn’t an Old Navy piece – it’s my Nordstrom chambray shirt. I finally have a pair of black pants to wear with it and it seems to work. Sure, I will look like every other girl around, especially if I finally get boots, and that’s not really my preference (most of the time). But the shirt is warm and soft and I think it works much better than the plaid shirt, or the blue shirt I bought at Goodwill last year. My raspberry puffy vest and my new teal coat will help jazz things up. And I might still find cherry red jeans.

I was thinking about why I don’t like cold season clothes and I’ve concluded that it’s several things coming together:

  • I don’t like being cold
  • All of the clothes I really love are very summery – sleeveless dresses mostly
  • I don’t have many cute, colorful, or quirky cold season clothes
  • Only the top couple of layers show so they carry the load when it comes to style and originality. But they’re also expensive so I don’t have many and they’re less likely to be fun. Or maybe I’m just too practical with the sweater layers.

So I need to shop quirky colorful sweaters and pants, probably at the thrift shop.

And I need to turn the heat up a bit!

Taking pictures was a fun project and I’ve learned some things. One of my skirts is going to be donated immediately now that I see what it looks like from every angle. Maybe someone who actually is 5 months pregnant will enjoy it. If it wasn’t such a hassle I might photograph all of my outfits.

Hope you like the photos. Feel free to weigh in on the looks. I trust that you’ll be kind.


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September garden progress – back yard

Continuing on from my front yard garden projects earlier in the week, on Friday and Saturday I made progress on the back yard. Mimi prefers when I stay in the back – she can hang out with me if she wants to, without being tied up. She doesn’t care for outside all that much, so it’s easier if she can come and go as she pleases.

I’m afraid these projects got a little more wordy than the front yard section. I guess there’s more backstory. You might notice a theme of me undoing stuff that hubby did 10 years ago – he would prefer to do things once and never again, but I like to make changes that reflect how life has changed, even if it means undoing something that took a lot of effort. I hope I don’t sound too exasperated by our different ways of thinking :)

Friday afternoon: I tackled the garden cart and patio area in the back yard. I noticed that the shaded not-dead portion of the lawn needed mowing, so I quickly tackled that. Found some baby Rose of Sharon plants for my friend who wanted one and potted those for her. I pulled a few weeds, and lightly pruned a plant that was getting in the way of the mower. Then I decided to tackle my garden cart. That is a longer story…


a recreation of some of the mess that was piled in the cart – it was much worse than this

The cart came from the guy who lived in Riley’s house back when we moved in 10 years ago. He gave me the cart with plywood box sides he’d built for it. I didn’t care for the box. I had visions of carting bags of mulch and compost and tools to and fro, but the box added a lot of extra weight and made it much more difficult to get things on and off the cart. I talked to hubby about getting rid of the box, but I think he felt that it was better with it, and that it would be difficult to store or get rid of, so I should keep it. So I didn’t move the cart anywhere. It sat on the patio and became a place to store things, which is not terrible, but not really a good use of something with wheels.

Yesterday I discovered that all of the tires had gone flat from sitting still – not really surprising. One of the most important things I’ve learned about hoarding/decluttering is that things wear out even if you’re not using them. It’s better to get rid of newer things you don’t need rather than letting them rot. Luckily these days I have more connections and means of getting rid of things. I offered it to my gardening friend, who will try to pump up the tires. She has more space to store it and will hopefully make good use of it. She thinks she might even have a use for the plywood. And she’s going to take my giant pile of empty nursery plant pots. I purge them every so often, but I think they breed when I’m not looking.

gardencardboardI made some space in the basement to store the useful things I had stored in the cart. I also got distracted dealing with reorganizing the massive hoard of cardboard boxes we have down there. Running a business results in boxes and boxes full of stuff colonizing my house and basement… Most of the boxes end up being recycled, of course. But I always keep a box full of good boxes to reuse, and their number keeps growing. I’m not really sure I need to keep that many considering how often we get boxes delivered and how infrequently we ship things. The practical side of me likes to keep good boxes in a range of sizes though… in the hope of having the right size when I need it.

Luckily my friend talked about how she uses cardboard and a thick layer of mulch to kill weeds and lawn, so I have a use for the excess if I can find the time and energy to execute it. I just need a lot of mulch. That would be an easier way to handle the rest of the neighbor’s weed/lawn so that I can garden it next spring. (tutorial here)

gardensandtubAnother big obstacle to my cleaning up of the back patio is this giant tub of paving sand. When we were done creating the patio (in 2004 or 5) we had a bunch of paving sand left over. Hubby shoveled it into this tub and put a piece of plastic over it to keep it clean. And there it has sat for the last decade… I removed all the stuff we had both piled on top of it and tried to move it – of course it won’t even budge. I cursed my hubby’s practical save-it just-in-case nature, but also acknowledged that it was the best solution we could come up with at the time.

We also kept the sand to renew the “grout” between the pavers, so I spent some time shoveling sand into the cracks and sweeping it around. I probably used less than 10% of the remaining sand. So we probably have enough to maintain our patio for the next 100 years! I’d like to give the sand away to someone who can use it. I would much rather see someone I know build a patio with it now, even if we have to buy new bags of paver sand in the future. We’ll see if hubby agrees.

Actually, in the process of writing this I came up with a specific plan – I’m going to buy the some polypropylene sandbags online and fill them myself. They will be easier to move, store in the basement, and/or give away. I don’t know what I’ll do with the giant tub though… it’s HUGE! but at least empty it will be movable. I’ll figure that out later.

Without the garden cart and the tub of sand in the way, I can create a small patio space. We have some plastic chairs that could be used there, or the little bistro set that is currently squeezed onto the back porch. All of that stuff would be movable so we could clear it out of the way if we want to use the space for some other purpose on occasion.


One of the things that was piled up was a spare bag of bark mulch, so I ended the day by weeding the long neglected alley strip. It helps protect the fence hubby built from reckless drivers. It was built with landscaping cloth to prevent weeds, but over time they have found  away through. It didn’t take me too long to rip them all out, to rearrange the jagged rock piles that further protect the fence, and to spread the bag of mulch. The alley is still a mess, but what do you expect from an alley?!


Saturday: I left my gardening until very late in the day so I decided to do a small task – pruning the low hanging branches on the Rose of Sharon tree – the ones that annoy my tall hubby. They filled my tubtrug which always makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. After I emptied it into the green waste bin I decided to do some more strenuous work – I was listening to music so it seemed easy enough to continue (I’m learning how to trick myself into working longer and harder!)

We have a bench shaped thing under the tree that hubby built a decade ago out of excess fill dirt and old fence wood, more things that we would have had trouble disposing of. It is covered in impenetrable weeds and the wood is rotten, so I have decided to spread the fill dirt out into small hills in the garden (which wasn’t there 10 years ago). First I dug up the day lilies that I had dumped in front of the bench a year ago. I never got around to planting them, but they didn’t care – they rooted and grew and flowered anyway! I’ll find a spot for them.


before and after (but still a work in progress)

Then I started attacking the bench with a shovel. It didn’t take much to break the structure up. The wood was very rotten. The weeds were holding it together better than the wood was. I dug into the weeds and tried to pull them by hand, but they were tough. In the end I undermined the weeds by digging out a lot of the dirt under them. I got the hose out thinking that damp dirt would yield a little more easily. But I’ve been watching too much Gold Rush on Discovery – Parker Schnabel had to move a huge amount of overburden dirt on Smith Creek Hill, so he used a high power water jet to wash it away. So I did the same – hose on “jet” setting, I washed away as much dirt as possible from the sides of the bench and under the weeds. I haven’t used a drop of water in that garden this summer, so I didn’t feel bad about wasting water this way. A bit more digging took care of most of the weeds but one really huge stubborn area remained – so thick and compacted that none of the water I had blasted at it had penetrated through. I used the jet of water a little more and finally loosened the last chunk of weeds.

I’m going to let it all dry out for a day or two before I sort through the dirt to throw out the weeds and roots. There’s a little more bench structure I need to tackle – I need to ask hubby how he anchored the corner posts. But then I just need to spread the fill dirt out into pleasant “hills” in the garden, then plant and mulch the area.

I’m sure the bamboo appreciated the water. It’s so horribly dry back there…

Well, that was a lot of gardening and tidy up! There’s still plenty more to do of course, both in the front yard and in the back.

I have a big gap where the feather grass was, but I’m going to move the hydrangea forward so that I can see and enjoy it. My small hydrangea, the one I think of as “the one that didn’t die after all,” needs a new home too, maybe in the back yard where the bench was. I have a few dead looking plants in pots that I will put in the ground in the hopes of fall rain saving them. And of course there’s always more weeding and mulching to be done. I also have daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip bulbs ready to be planted for spring happiness. 50 of each – I love Costco. My feather grass experience confirmed that I will need hubby’s muscle to divide the clumping bamboo, so that probably won’t happen for a very long time. Maybe years!

If I keep working on one thing each day, whether big or small, I think I can get a lot done before the rain settles in for good. We only have 3 or 4 more days of hot sunshine before we have to settle for warm and partly cloudy, chance of showers. I’m going to enjoy it in my shady Beetopia, getting prepared for next spring.

Happy Sunday! I’m banishing myself to the yard today while the business men work on admin and financial stuff in our tiny dining room, probably while listening to football on TV. I might have another post when I’m done.



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September garden progress – front yard

I’m very pleased with myself. I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny warm weather this week. I’ve done at least one thing in the garden every day except Monday (when the weather was grey and I was feeling blah). I give a lot of the credit to blogging about my intentions – public accountability seems to help me stay motivated. Here’s what I’ve been up to earlier in the week in my front yard.

Tuesday: I dug out the weeds and grass on the little strip of ground that runs up the fence next to what I’m going to call Riley’s place. (Riley is a very sweet, very lonely black lab pup, about a year old, who amuses me with his playful antics.) This strip of ground is narrow and shaded and quite useless. If I plant small things there they get overrun by weed grass from Riley’s lawn and they are invisible from the street or the front stoop. So I decided to move something taller and more substantial over there.

While I was sweaty and dirty and had the tools out I also cleared the ground in front of the porch – the rhododendron garden. I need to mulch that area!

Wednesday: Part 2 of the Riley’s fence yard plan. Digging up some tall grass (I call it feather grass, but I’m not sure exactly what it’s really called) from the flax garden on the right side of the porch. It crowds the shortcut pathway the mailman uses and along with the 10′ flax, blocks the view of the large hydrangea I planted back in 2004 when we moved in. That’s what happens when you garden haphazardly, without a plan.

Digging up the feather grass was a big job. I knew it would be, but I didn’t realize how big… The Internet told me I should have cut it back in winter and waited until just before the spring started to move it, but I planned to do that last spring, and never got to it. I also wanted the instant privacy effect of transplanting 6′ tall grass. Riley’s people are messy. So I started digging. And worked my way around the grass digging, levering, digging some more, levering some more, standing on the spade handle trying to get the roots to budge, falling flat on my face more than once, getting scratched up and sweaty and exhausted. I broke the handle of my spade. But almost 2 hours later I finally was able to push the whole plant over and free the rootball.

Huzzah! Halfway done.

digging up the feather grass

After lunch I returned to what I had started with a carpentry saw and a pruning saw, ready to try to divide the rootball. After 8-9 years growth the grass had gotten quite huge and I was determined to get at least 4 plants out of it… which meant 3 cuts through the rootball. I’d barely gotten started on it when I started wondering if I’d bitten off more than I could chew and begged my Facebook friends to come help me with a chainsaw. At least one offered to help, tomorrow. But since I had the whole root system exposed I didn’t think it was wise to delay, so I kept sawing and sawing and sawing. And falling over and tripping on things and scratching my arms and legs up even more… I think the sawing part took about 90 minutes. I used my spade to help cut through and separate the two halves which seemed to speed the process up a little. The feather grass was very dense and very hard to divide. But I eventually got my 4 quarters.

I got 3 of them evenly spaced in the space by Riley’s yard and (much to Riley’s delight) they created a curtain of grass, giving me a little privacy from his porch area where Navy sailors drink, smoke, grill, and chat all summer long. I got them watered in and tied back to protect them from the evening’s strong breeze. The 4th plant could have fit in the same area, but it would have blocked the gate a bit more than I would like, so for now I have it in a container. I think it might end up back in that flax garden area, in the back, where its height will work better. Next week I’m planning to dig up some short, lime green elephant grass and moving it into the spaces in between the feather grass to add a little pizzazz to that area.

feather grass new spot

I finished off my Wednesday by eating ice cream, showering, baking a banana cake (I had taken the butter out of the fridge earlier in the day so I felt committed to follow through), then walking 4 miles with my friend, something else I had already committed to. I was very sore and exhausted when I was done! But probably no more than I would have been from doing the gardening and then crashing. The banana cake topped with whipped cream made for a tasty dessert treat after my long day.

Thursday: I got some walking in, but I took it easy in the garden. While I was watering the feather grass in its new spot I cut back some fronds from the huge fern on the other side of the narrow pathway.  I should probably scrape some of the moss off that pathway, but I kind of like it like mossy. Hubby probably wants it clean, but I don’t remember the last time he used that pathway, except to come out and see what I’d done and give Riley some over-the-fence between-the-grass-bushes cuddles. I squirted him with the hose like he likes. Riley, that is. Not hubby!

Next time, continuing the busy week of gardening in the back yard.


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