Our garden is in a contest & I would like to not lose…

I entered our side yard garden in a contest. I didn’t really think it would get chosen.

It ended up making the finals – and is now up for vote.

My main goal is to not lose. The pressure is on. I am currently #4 – with only slightly more votes than the edible garden at AT&T baseball park.

I realize that my edible garden may not technically be seen by some as “the best” given it’s very small size and the non-traditional mixing of flowers and edibles.

Again, I am just trying to not lose at this point. So, I am asking for your vote. Plus, the website is kind of cool to peruse if you like garden stuff.

https://www.gardenista.com/submission/2017/our-house-project-tiny-urban-garden/

Oh – and if you have 30 seconds per day, you can vote every day until August 4th…

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Ok. Now, with that out of the way, here is the real 2017 garden story.

This year’s yard and garden has been a bit of a challenge. A very cold spring, followed by an early hot spell, then a multi day freeze, next a hailstorm with golf ball sized hail, a neighbor’s ash tree that dropped millions of seeds in our yard, very late germination of vegetable seeds, and finally the cold season vegetables going from seedlings to bolted overnight. Sigh…

You might notice (if you voted) that the contest entry pictures look pretty lush. In fact, that garden looks darn amazing! So amazing that you might actually think it could be the best one?!

You also might be thinking “Wow! Why are you whining? Your garden looks pretty decent, especially since you submitted those entry pictures in June! Who knew that gardens in Colorado could look that great in June!”

Here is the truth. It’s a spoiler :(

The pictures I submitted are from previous years – because a garden, in Colorado, in June – especially this June – is just barely getting started. My garden this June was just a bunch of empty troughs, hail damaged perennials, and what I thought was a dead grape vine. It was sad.

Fast forward a good 4-6 weeks…

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Things sort of recovered. Things did finally sprout in the troughs. By things, I mean tomatoes. The tomato plants have gone completely crazy. Unfortunately, there are only about a total of 9 tomatoes on those huge plants.

The front raised bed, is what I would call a partial success this summer. The middle stuff never quite recovered (lots of bare dirt in there). The carrots (there at the bottom) look great, though I haven’t actually harvested any yet. The strawberries and blueberries (there at the top) have thrived!

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Here is a close up of the successful berry section…

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The flower part of the garden has been beautiful this July…

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The grapevine (the tree looking thing in upper left corner) did not die! It did eventually leaf out again, after been frozen this spring – and there are even a few grape clusters…

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The sunflowers in the alley are now going strong…

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They haven’t flowered yet, but there is still time – and hope…

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So.

As you can see, I am still trying to contribute to the gardening world despite the adversity of Mother Nature here in Colorado.

Thank you for helping me not lose the garden contest.

The prize is a book – or something – at this point, I can’t even remember.

Soft Stuff, Part 2 – Plus, some Josef Frank & Franz Josef stuff…

This story is supposed to be about upholstered cubes. That may not interest some of you. So, I have thrown in a tangent about two Austrians with Josef in their names. These two are not the Josefs I am referring to, but the photo is a hint of what is to come…

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First up, though – the cubes. I’ve already shown the new look. What you haven’t heard is the low down on why the cubes needed a redo and how they arrived at their new, colorful look.

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We have four cubes total. We utilize them for extra seating as needed so, I didn’t want to get rid of them. Two were solid red. Two were tan. All four were kind of boring.

Two of the cubes ended up near the front door because Tad thought they would work well for people needing to sit while putting on (or taking off) shoes. He was right. It was a good idea.

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The big blocks of color, while bold and a nice jolt of energy, didn’t feel quite right with the stuff we had going on. The solid block of non related red (or boring tan) seemed out of place. It seemed that the cubes needed to be softened up a bit.

Initially, I thought about just getting them all reupholstered in spring green – because I like green – and green goes with everything, in my opinion.

Then, I realized that an all green cube could be as boring as the all tan version.

View from my desk

That is when the idea of doing a pattern on the top came to fruition.

We all know by now that a bunch of pattern isn’t my thing. However, I do have a thing for a black background with bright colored simple graphics. This was a trend some years back – like 10ish years ago, maybe. Given it was in vogue a decade ago, it isn’t all that easy to find right now. I didn’t let that stop me. I did a pretty extensive search looking for that perfect fabric.

Eventually, I stumbled upon a fabric design from the 1920s-1940s that I became obsessed with…fullsizeoutput_132cI wanted this fabric for the top of our cubes. It was perfect! The black background – check. The simple, yet interesting, graphic pattern – check. The bright colors – check. It has little butterflies in it – bonus check! Finally, it has a whimsical, Dr. Suess-ey feel – double check!

Here is a different design, but still with a black background that I considered. Very garden like which is totally my thing…fullsizeoutput_132bThese are Josef Frank fabrics. He was an Austrian born architect/designer from Sweden.

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Not to be confused with Franz Josef, the Austrian emperor, who has a glacier named after him, in New Zealand…

fullsizeoutput_1333We were there…

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Initially, we were all very nervous.

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That is me, Kellee, there at the back of the pack.

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A young Alex.

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That is ice (and Tad)! Totally cool.

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Words cannot begin to describe the beauty.

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Does he look Austrian?

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Guiding our way…

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Amazing.

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Anyway, back to the fabric thing.

Sadly, the Josef Frank fabric is very, very pricey – and the patterns are relatively large scale so would not translate well to a small 18″ X 18″ cube top. Though, check out some of these other patterns and colors. Oh my gosh…fullsizeoutput_132e fullsizeoutput_1330 fullsizeoutput_132dLovely.

And, now, finally back to the actual topic of this story. I was persistent in my search for black backgrounds and the right kind of simple, bright, graphic pattern – that was reasonably priced. I held out for the right thing. Eventually, my perseverance paid off. I loved this pattern for our cubes as soon as I saw it. It met all my requirements including all the right colors. It isn’t quite on the same level of perfect as the Josef Frank fabric designs, but pretty darn close.

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An added bonus of this fabric is that the colors are woven in, creating a really cool texture…

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Conveniently, I found some solids that coordinated perfectly with the top inspiration fabric that are also woven with a softer and almost worn or washed color.

In red,

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and blue

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and green

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and, finally, a natural linen.

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You might be wondering why I didn’t just pick a single color in the solid options and do all the cubes in that color. Well, that was my initial intent. Then, I thought “Why not four different colored cubes?” But, I didn’t love the idea of all blue cube. I have talked about it before. A lot of blue isn’t my thing. So, that is when the multi colored thing came about.

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I like it! The upholstery people had to call me twice to make sure that is what I wanted. Yep. It is exactly what I wanted.

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I will not give up on having a Josef Frank pattern in my life. I am just postponing the dream for now.

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In the meantime, I will sign off with some Franz Josef pattern in the form of glacial ice,

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glacial remains,

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and a glacial cairn.

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Soft Stuff – Part 1…

Teddy Bears – Clouds – Curtains?

No. We don’t own any curtains – or clouds – or teddy bears.

I am talking about our area rug and a few upholstered cubes.

I referenced both of these during the last story in regards to color and pattern.

First up is the area rug,  since it arrived before the cubes got a new look – and were sort of the reason the cubes got their new look.

Our living room area rug is made up of FLOR carpet squares. It is a bit nontraditional, but lovely nonetheless (in our opinion).

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Why carpet squares you might be thinking?

The simple answer is that it fit all of our personal requirements for an area rug in size, color options, pattern (or lack thereof), and material. Also, we have other area rugs made with FLOR carpet squares – the mudroom & my desk area – and we really like them.

Here is an explanation of our requirements and why these carpet squares are perfect for our living space.

We measured out our living room and furniture placement many times. We discussed and debated the various size options. We eventually decided that we wanted only the 2 front legs of the sofa on the rug.

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We wanted to create a walkway from the front door to the rest of the house without walking/tripping over the area rug in the living room.

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The size we eventually agreed upon was 7′-8″ wide X 13′ long, give or take 1-3 inches. We also thought it would be cool to have a rug that could fit around the fireplace hearth and floor outlets. These requirements threw us into the custom size and shape arena. The standard 10’X14′ or 12’X14′ didn’t work given our fairly specific size requirement – plus, the fireplace hearth and floor outlet cutout thing…

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As you can see, FLOR squares allowed us to cut to a custom size, and cut out around the hearth and floor outlets.

As for color, I wanted something bold with green (because I love green – as I have mentioned before), yellow (to make the yellow entry work), maybe orange (because the sunroom, which you can see from the living room, is orange), and definitely grey (the new walls are all grey and the kitchen floor tile and countertops are grey, which you can also see from the living room) – in an effort to tie all the various colors within our open living space together. Tad wasn’t completely convinced of my vision, but he also didn’t have any suggestions. I believe his comment was something along the lines of “I’ll know it when I see it.” I thought some sort of pattern could be fun. Tad was pretty much against any pattern suggestion I had – no flowers (too grandma), no abstract designs (too uppity), no Turkish style designs (too busy and vintage). Tad likes stripes. I don’t. Good news, though! The FLOR squares come in a bazillion different colors and patterns that can be mixed and matched to create whatever design you desire.

Tad got a few subtle stripes!

Tad's subtle stripes...

I got some green – and yellow – and grey!

Kellee's green...

When it came time to decide on material, I deferred to Tad because he spends a lot of time lounging and sleeping on the floor. He lays on the floor every day. He likes the floor. Anyway, he voted against wool, which I had initially suggested for it’s durability and ease in keeping clean. I believe the tiles we ended up with are some sort of synthetic material made from recycled stuff – and are recyclable. I normally prefer natural fibers, but this material has met all of our requirements – non itchy, easy to keep clean, perfect for yoga, and comfy enough for Tad to lounge and sleep on.

Another benefit to this carpet square thing is the mix and match potential. I like that we can change out a few squares to get a completely different look if we want a color or design redo without having to buy an entirely new rug. For example, we had some left over squares that Tad suggested we use in our front entry. I liked it, but it felt a little too matched for me. We ended up mixing in a few left over mudroom cow print squares for a slightly different identity. I like it. In fact, I think I might like it better than the grey striped patterned pieces in the living room rug – that Tad chose :)

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A few final miscellaneous Q & As:

What is with the obsession, fitting the area rug around the hearth and floor outlets? It has to do with a few things. First, the hearth sticks up from the floor about 1/2 an inch. The carpet squares happen to be about the same height as the hearth, making it all feel flat and seamless. We like that.

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Second is that fitting the area rug around the hearth was conducive to our furniture layout. Our two main furniture pieces (sofa and chair) are arranged around the fireplace hearth. The rug wrap around the hearth allows for the two front sofa feet and all four chair feet to be located on the rug. Otherwise, the sofa and chair would have been wobbly with just one foot on or off the rug.

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Finally, we just thought it was cool to cut out around the floor outlets. We did it just because we could do it! Here is that photo again…

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Did the rug tie together the open living space as you had hoped? Yes. I believe it helped by bringing in the yellow from the entry, the green and grey from the kitchen, and a last minute decision to add charcoal to soften the black granite fireplace.

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What about orange? Why didn’t you incorporate orange into the area rug? I eventually decided that we didn’t need orange in the rug because we have a ton of natural cherry wood and it’s natural orange tones in the living room already. Yep. I believe that was the right choice.

How did you decide on the design? We played with a few different designs on paper and in person when the tiles arrived. We initially thought some sort of repeating pattern would be best.

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In the end, we liked a random design. We just moved the squares around until we liked how it felt. We did intentionally avoid putting the charcoal next to the black fireplace hearth, and we obviously didn’t want 2 of the same exact tiles directly next to each other. However, we didn’t mind it 2 of the same exact tiles were diagonal to each other.

Random Pattern...

Are these carpet squares compatible with radiant floor heat? Yes, these particular squares won’t stain or damage our hardwood floors. I did call the company to double check because these tiles do have some sort of vinyl/rubbery backing – and we have radiant floor heat – and I wanted make sure our new hardwood flooring wouldn’t get damaged. So far, so good. Though, I did alter one thing during installation as a result of previous experience. The sticky circles that are provided to hold the squares together do not hold up to radiant floor heat. In fact, the sticky goo seems to ooze out onto the floor below when it gets warm. That sticky goo is very, very difficult to get off hardwood flooring. I have found that basic blue painter’s tape is the way to go. It keeps the tiles firmly together and doesn’t get all over the floor below – even with radiant floor heat.

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Why does Tad lay on the floor all the time? I don’t have an answer to that question. Tad doesn’t even have an answer to that question. Some questions just can’t be answered. As mentioned above, he just likes the floor.

You are so nice to let Tad choose some stuff – and you work hard to incorporate his design ideas whenever possible – how do you do it? I guess, I just feel like he lives here too, so he should get some say – when it works with my ideas.  And – thanks for pointing out that I am nice!

Welp. We don’t have time for upholstered cubes today. We will cover those next time as “Soft Stuff – Part 2…”