Friday, October 18, 2013

An Experiment

I'm not really into science. Never have been, probably never will be - but I do occasionally take interest in "how things work". I've also noticed that I have a growing desire to learn about stuff, maybe its because no one is forcing education down my throat anymore. Maybe its because I'm finally an adult? Whatever the case may be, I am conducting a botany experiment.

Growing up, I had a friend whose father was a Botanist at ECSU. I remember thinking to myself, "does it get more boring than the science of plants?" The answer is an unequivocal "yes." There are a ton of things far less interesting than plants. My desire to learn about plants is a fairly recent one - I'll credit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and their Orchid Daze. A young guy who was at the exhibit the same time as my friend Dr. Amy and I, mentioned the book "The Orchid Thief". I read it and suddenly found myself interested in this wild world of plants.

Around the same time, we moved to our new place where I discovered a beautiful magnolia tree. I don't know anything about magnolias, so it really astonished me that this thing had so many different stages of pods and seeds and flowers. After the big, floppy flowers came and went, I began to notice the sprouting of pickle-like pods. Green and bumpy, the pickle pods began to turn pink, then red in late August/early September. A few days ago, I walked by to check on the pods and they had started to open, revealing orange red seeds.

Floppy Flowers
Pickle pod (not exactly the same as mine, but you get the idea)
Pink/Red Pickle Pod (also not an Elizabeth)
After some serious googling this morning, I have learned a lot about magnolias, including the fact that my "yellow magnolia" is actually called a Magnolia 'Elizabeth' and was created in Brooklyn in 1967. I also stumbled upon a page about growing magnolias from seed. Hence the big experiment.

So I've harvested my seeds, and am soaking them now. Then I will have to "winter" them over and plant next spring. What do you think, can I do it? Can I keep them alive? Anyone want to take bets?

my pods and seeds

soaking the seeds

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Remodel in a Day

Occasionally I like to take a short stroll down memory lane and see or read about some of my ideas from a few months or years ago. This provides a snapshot of what I was thinking at the time, what I found important and what is trendy... well, trendy is a relative term - I'm more of a traditionalist with "fashion" and decor. Plus I've come to find that I want a trend before it's a trend (does anyone remember me searching for botanical prints like 8 months ago?) and then I give up on those searches about a week before its in every store.

Anyway, what I have noticed with our current house is that I am constantly changing my mind about remodeling, paint colors, furniture, etc. So I thought it might be fun (mostly for me... you're all just along for the ride) to take a minute to document my "remodel in a day" from time to time. 

If I could remodel in a single day, without it costing me a penny - these are the things I would do today.

1. Add a chandelier to my dining room. It's really weird not having a light in there.... This is the "graham" from Pottery Barn. I actually ordered it yesterday after going to the site to find the picture below. So consider this first point as "hey, we are really doing this"

2. While we are on the subject of the dining room, I'd really like to build a custom farmhouse table. I have my eye on a few barn boards currently gathering dust in the "basement" of my Grandparent's barn in Maine. I love the look of worn wood, and I am really into chunky table legs right now so I think something like this table (Restoration Hardware) would be wonderful.

3. I really do think its silly to have two places to eat. A dining room and and breakfast nook seem redundant to me - and its a tremendous waste of space. So today, I am thinking it would be kinda cool to turn the eat-in space in the kitchen into some sort of sitting/hearth area. Because let's face it, there is no such thing as "too many fireplaces"

via BHG

via BHG

or maybe we could just have a seating area without the fireplace... It's really nice to sit on a comfy seat while someone is at work in the kitchen. Its great for talking AND working at the same time. 

via Lonny
4. While we are talking about fireplaces, I think you should know that I NEED one on the back porch... and if we're doing work on the back porch, let's go ahead and screen that sucker in. Can you say "sanctuary"?
This house was featured in the Wall Street Journal. It's valued at $2.5 mill - with that gorgeous porch, I believe it.
5. Another thing I'm really into right now is the whole "separate but equal" vanity concept. I despise the big clunky vanities. Yes, they are useful when it comes to storage, but they remind me of a mini-van. Sometimes, you just can't sacrifice style for function. Sometimes, you just have to get rid of some of that junk under the sink so that you can have something cuter.

6. Maybe this is dumb, but I really don't like the exterior of the house. It just seems out of proportion to me.

Like maybe there should be more windows, or the door should be bigger? I'm also not a huge fan of the overhang, but this is the colonial garrison style. I've spent a lot of time thinking of ways to make it look more appeasing to the eye. This is something that I sincerely doubt will ever happen, but I honestly think about it all the time. Maybe we could add a big focal window upstairs? And a Big door with transom windows downstairs? What do you think?
How about adding some sort of stoop like Molly Frey Design did on this Garrison?
I did a little drawing below to see what it might look like if we added a stoop, a box-style window seat on the second floor, and painted the trim white. What do you think? Yes, I know its sloppy.

Who knows, maybe I will come to love the exterior just as it is? That's the point of remodel in a day, I get a chance to think about what I'd do right now so that five years down the road I can say, "I'm really glad I can't remodel in a day."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Not a Crafty Time of Year

First and foremost let me say that as the title of this post suggests, this is a terrible time of year to be crafting. I say this not because there is any shortage of pumpkin, maple or apple related things to bake, or fall/Halloween crafts to create. No. I just think its too amazing outside to be crafting.

Sure, I suppose you could garden if you wanted to, but let's face it: by October everyone is sick of working outside and they just want to enjoy it while they still can.

We (meaning my lovely animals and I) have been out on the trails 5 days a week soaking up the filtered sunlight, the golden foliage and the slight breeze. As you can see, they have also enjoyed a little dip in the Hop River, which follows the course of our new favorite trail.

Since I decided enough was enough (of resting my possible stress-fracture) I have been running 3 days a week, 3 miles or less per run. I have spent the 2 other trail days biking, about 5 miles per outing. It's fun to get into a new activity and I really like to see Aero and Bruno running all out as I push the pace (for once).

I wish these crappy phone photos could do this little spot justice. I may have to bring my D50 out on our next adventure, because it really is a beautiful sight to see, especially since we tend to have the trails mostly to ourselves.

So hold tight readers, probably until November or so, if you are looking for a project... this girl has gone outside to feel the wind in her hair and the sun on her face!