Coming Soon to This Blog…An Easier Way to Read the Pages

I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of this blog and how to make it visually pleasing and easy to navigate.  Granted, I don’t know that anyone is reading this but me but I’m still going to try to make it more user friendly.  I hate when I see something on Pinterest and I go to the blog page and it’s 45 pages from the start of the blog and you have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll to get to what you saw on Pinterest.  I’m going to try to number all of my posts so that it will be easier to read a specific post rather than have to scroll thru everything to get to the one that you want to read.  Now, to get my husband to do that for me!


Unplanned Compost Garden

Last fall I bought a 3 bin wire composter from gardener’s supply. I love looking at their catalogs.  I get as excited when they arrive as I did when the Sears Christmas Wish Book arrived when I was a kid.  I decided on this one because I wanted it to be directly on the ground so the nearby struggling orange trees would benefit from the close proximity to the composter.  I also liked the idea of having the 3 bins so that I could have compost at different stages.  Even now, I still don’t know a whole lot about what I’m doing.  I’m going by advice I’m getting from my mother in law who is a complete natural at all of this.  I’m still trying to figure out the ratio of vegetable and fruit scraps to leaves, grass etc.  My only problem I’m having is that I’m a little short to be able to use my little pitchfork to turn the compost in the bin.  I think I’m going to have to start getting a little step ladder so I can get a little leverage.

I really hadn’t paid a whole lot of attention to my compost bins from the fall.  I decided I needed to tend to them a bit better if I wanted to have any compost for my new plants when I discovered this:


It was like Jack and the Beanstalk.  I swear it grew overnight!  I had no idea what this was.  It looked like pumpkin or zucchini but I knew I hadn’t put any of that into the compost bin.  These vines were clearly coming out of the compost bins and as you can see…very healthy!  The more I looked the more I was convinced that it was butternut squash and I had put the scraps of that in the compost in the fall.


Sure enough, it’s butternut squash!  There were a ton of blossoms!


And tomatoes!….lots of them!  As you can see, they are making it a bit hard to actually get to my compost bin.  I kept thinking I may just have to cut some of this back so I can get to it but as of now I haven’t had the heart to.  I’m really interested in seeing how these taste when they are grown from such a rich fertile place.


More progress tomorrow!

Front Yard…Making the Change from Decorative (sort of) to Functional

I felt like I needed to give a little background on how we transformed the back yard before I really started in on my gardening venture.  I’m quite a bit behind since I started most of my planting around the beginning of May.  The back yard though isn’t where I really did most of planting as I realized when I started looking through my pictures.  Living in Southern California while we are in a major drought has proven to be a bit challenging.  Our front yard was a combination of rose garden and lawn.  Neither of them looked particularly interesting.  The roses were getting decimated by the deer, also a by product of the drought.  They are beautiful and gentle and everyone always stops in wonder watching them. But, they munch on…EVERYTHING!!!   I loved them at first but they literally don’t leave a leaf untouched.  I decided that the best thing to do was to get rid of the lawn in front yard and make some changes to the rose garden.  I knew I was going to need to water the fruits and vegetables a little bit but I’d rather use the water to grow food for us to eat than to just make a lawn green.  I wish I had taken pictures before we took the lawn out so I could show the difference.  I decided to start small which is really hard to stick with once you’re surrounded by all of those little pots of herbs and veggies at the garden store.  I was pretty good though and kept my garden fairly small.  For my first season I purchased my veggie and fruit plants from Home Depot and OSH.  Now that I’m finding out that most of these plants are being treated with pesticides I’ve decided that from here on out I’m going to plant from seeds that I know are non GMO.  The ones I’ve been starting with are Botanical Interests Seeds.  I’ve purchased a bunch of different tomato varieties for new spring but they can also be purchased at Armstrong Garden Center.



The front yard after the lawn was removed.  I tried to repurpose some of the merchandisers that I had for my children’s clothing business to hang baskets of strawberries on.  I also was able to reuse the pallets that my merchandise was shipped to me on.  I love pumpkins and viney fruits and vegetables but they take over the yard and the fruit gets mucky from being on the moist ground.  So, I put 2 pallets together to make an A- frame.  I wasn’t sure how to attach them and decided I didn’t want to wait for my husband to get out the cordless drill so I just took ribbon and tied them together.  I decided to start off with watermelon, cucumber, cantelope, and pumpkin on the 4 A-frames.  I planted 3 different tomato plants in between the pallet A-frames.  I did some reading about pairing plants together and planted marigolds around the tomatoes to ward off pests that prey on tomatoes and so far I haven’t seen a single leaf that has been nibbled on.


My pumpkin babies.  The disparity in size and the little fence is thanks to the deer.  The deer won’t touch the pumpkins once they get bigger and very prickly but they loved the sprouts and pulled some right out.  These are the only ones that I planted from seeds so I planted some more right away and kept them safe from the deer with the fence.  Damn Deer!  Everyone who drives by thinks there are so fun to see and slows down to take pictures and then get upset with me when I shoo them out of our yard.  I’ll happily send them to their house to eat their garden! lol!


The cucumbers took to their transplanting beautifully!  They started blossoming quickly and growing little tiny cucumbers right away!


This little watermelon just kind of sat here for quite some time not really doing anything.  It didn’t grow but it didn’t wither and die.  My daughter kept telling me that she thought it was going to die and yet I saw little tiny bits of growth so I kept hoping all would be well and upped the watering a bit on this one.  I thought…well, maybe “water”melon needs a great deal of water.  It turns out that I’ve just learned that watermelon doesn’t really need as much water as many other plants.  I just read that here.


Cantelope…I love cantelope so much and I think this is the plant I’m most excited to see grow.  I have made sure with all of the vines that I’ve planted two of them so cross pollination can occur.  I’ve never made it this far with anything because I always forget to water.  But, we still have the sprinklers in the front yard so these guys may have a chance.  Very soon, we’re going to be converting the existing sprinkler system to a drip system and soaker hoses.




The Wedding Day Arrives!

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This was the day my baby girl got married.  I don’t know how we did it but in 2 months we were able to transform the back yard into a beautiful wedding venue and plan the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever seen. (I know I’m biased but I really think it was!)

Just to give you a little perspective….here’s the before picture.

Back yard before 1

One more time with the gazebo….

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Back yard before 8

If it wasn’t for the gazebo you would never know it was the same yard.

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Out “shabby chic” doors made a beautiful entrance for the bride and her bridesmaids and I want to think that my dad, “Poppy”, was looking down and watching his granddaughter get married.  He would have loved it that she got married in his back yard. Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes  Lanterns from Pier 1 Imports

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All of the turquoise and coral details we chose looked amazing!  Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes  Tables courtesy of Farm Tables and More


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This back yard is full of repurposed items that I either couldn’t bear to get rid of or, more likely, couldn’t find anyone who wanted it.  This buffet was my dad’s bar.  We painted it with leftover paint from the house and bought crystal door knobs at Cost Plus World Market.  For the wedding it was perfect for pictures of the bride and groom and all the desserts.

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This was how we made the garage a little less boring.  Most of the decor I found at Home Goods, or vintage pieces found in our garage.  Over time, we keep adding more…It just gets better and better. Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes  Lighting by J.Fox Event Lighting

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Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes

Vintage furniture courtesy of Found Vintage Rentals

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Vintage furniture courtesy of Found Vintage Rentals.

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The transformed gazebo…My mother’s gazebo…Sadly, my mother’s advanced dementia made her unable to see her granddaughter married in it.  I love this picture so much…  Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes

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Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes

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No words to describe how happy it makes me to see my girl so happy… Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes



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and they’re married!  tears, tears, tears of happiness!  Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes

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Transformation and Wedding Complete…tired mama!

Wedding photos by Karen L. Barnes    Lighting by J. Fox Event Lighting


Almost Done!

The last of the “before” pictures before the wedding.

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The terracing is taking shape and it looks amazing!

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The fencing is going up to define each terrace.  I never would have thought of this but it looks amazing!  This fencing gave us different zones so each area can have a different purpose.

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We repurposed these stepping stones.  My dad must have had an amazing love of stepping stones because they were everywhere in the yard, even places where you didn’t need a stepping stone.  Stepping stones that led to nothing really.  Positioning these took a bit of time.  It was like trying to find the right place for the sofa….a little to the left…no…down and a little to the right….

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I love the crisp look of white trim and white fencing and I was not disappointed with the way it turned out.

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Tessa and I finally decided on a shade of paint for the gazebo.  The colors of her wedding were turquoise and coral.  We decided early on that we wanted a shade of turquoise, a nice cool color for the gazebo.  But, getting the right shade proved challenging because the samples we kept putting up made it look like Disneyland in the 60’s.  We finally found this color which isn’t turquoise at all but had enough blue in it that it tied everything together.  It worked perfectly!  Definitely not a neutral but it allowed the turquoise and coral accents to really pop.

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Originally, we planned to completely strip the doors and paint them in shades of coral with touches of turquoise but we just ran out of time.  When we showed one of the vendors they said they thought it was on purpose and was “shabby chic”.  So, completely by mistake we created a shabby chic entrance to the back yard.

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There is nothing quite as transforming as going from dirt to green grass in a day.  The sod was laid and it changed the whole back yard in an instant.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  The grass has never been as green as it was when they laid they sod and it probably never will be but for that week it was amazing and beautiful!

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Transformation complete!

So, here we are a week before the wedding.  I know, for any of you who know about laying sod you will know that this beautiful grass is not going to last because in a week we will have 125 people walking all over it.  Sadly, the sod was laid down 2 weeks too late.  It hurts a bit to know that much of it died but to save myself from too much anguish I just call it a rental….a wedding rental like the chairs and the tables and then I only weep a little for my beautiful lawn that I had for such a short time.

Next post will be the wedding!