May 2015 Flower Pictures

I have enjoyed watching my flowers bloom this spring. Here is a collection of pictures I have taken between April and May 2015. My El Paso garden is starting to mature and take its true form. 

   

Pink Oleander

Yellow Esperanza   

 

Vinca

  

Pink Oleander

  

Returning Lantana

  

Red Oleander

  

White Oleander

  

White Oleander

  

Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine

  

Star Jasmine

  

White Roses

White Roses  

White Roses     

  

Purple Lantana

  

Red everbloom rose

  

Lady Banks Rose

 

 Easter bunny ☺️

Natural Pool Alternative

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This is my temporary solution to a pool in my backyard. It is an above ground pool sunk into the ground about half way. I know some of you are going to tell me the walls will collapse from the weight of the sand but its not possible due to the weight of the water. I have had it like this two years so far. I bought a sand filter and a salt water system. I even got pool lights. Its about 4 feet deep and 18 foot diameter. It has kept my children super happy. They swim two to three times a day and it cost only the fraction of an inground pool. This year I plan on hiding the grey sides with bamboo fencing. Lowe’s sells 6 foot fencing which I can cut in half and put around the pool. I will also do some landscaping with cypress grass and Birds of Barbados plants. I have not given up on a natural pool though. However I will probably need a larger piece of land. 🙂

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Nonnative El Paso Creatures

This past year El Paso had a lot of rain. Some parts of the city flooded. I got to see some interesting critters in my garden that I did not know I had because they normally do not live in the desert. I probably brought them home from Lowe’s and instead of dying in the arid sand they thrived a reproduced. I now have earthworms and snails! I felt pretty good when I saw them because I must be doing something right. I still have mushrooms too. 🙂

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Now you may think those are little flecks of dirt, but they are tiny round snails! El Paso does have some snails and they usually have coned shaped houses, so these are not native to the area.

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DIY Eclectic Dresser

Having four children means I have a lot of shoes in my home. I was thinking about having a piece of furniture to house the shoes when they are not worn. I started looking online at entryway benches and chests as a means to solve the problem. I found that many of them were about $100 or more which isn’t too bad, but they were not exactly visually pleasing. I thought that it would be nice to have a piece of furniture that was visually pleasing especially since it is the first thing someone would see as they enter my home. I decided that a nicely painted dresser would be great. Plus it provides more storage than a chest or bench.  So now I was on a quest to find a dresser to design and paint. Luckily a few days later my neighbor put a dresser out on her curb. It was structurally sound so I brought it home. (Funny thing is when I gutted my kitchen she took my old kitchen cabinets. 🙂 ) The best part of the dresser is that it was free. IMAG0648   IMAG0649   IMAG0650

As you can see the dresser needed a new paint finish . The teenager who had the dresser used some puffy paint so I needed to scrap that off and sand the dresser initially. Once i was finished sanding i applied a gray primer on top to adhere to the original finish and to allow the new paint to bond well.

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My next step was coming up with a decorative design. I drew the design I wanted unto poster board and then cut out my design with an exacto knife. I created my own design so it would be custom sized to the dresser. I made a design that fit the top and sides. I then created a design for the drawers. I taped the DIY stencil to my dresser and used spray paint to fill in the design. Because I used spray paint I did get some over spray, but that is ok, I can touch it up later. If I do something like this again I will use double sided tape to tape the stencil to the object better or use a sponging technique.

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Here is my finished result. I will also spray a layer of clear coat and work on finding some drawer pulls.

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DIY Backsplash Demolition and Installation

About a year and a half ago I had my kitchen gutted and replaced all my cabinets and counters. I had a new refrigerator, gas range and microwave put in as well. I was dragging my feet on my backsplash. I could not find tiles that I liked AND could afford. For Christmas this year my mom gifted me my tiles for the backsplash and they are stunning. Since it is Christmas time I decided to do the installation myself to save money. Plus I wanted to learn how to tile and the backsplash is one of the easiest to start from. This is my first tile job.

The first obstacle was removing the old backsplash. This was not as easy as just plucking the tiles off the wall with a crow bar. I think the construction workers used liquid nails. This is part of the reason why I did not have a new back splash yet besides not finding tiles I liked that were affordable. I ended up cutting the drywall out of the wall where the old tiles were installed. I used a jigsaw and a box cutter to do so. It was more work than I thought it would be but it was faster than any other method. After removing those sections of drywall I replaced them with new drywall. Here are some pictures…

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I did not mud the seams, instead I used drywall tape. The tape provided enough of a substrate for the tiles to adhere to. Plus my seems were very thin so the tiles went over them with no problems.

The next day I began installing the tiles to the walls. If you have a glossy paint on your walls you should lightly sand over them first. I used Type 1 Mastic I bought at Lowes to adhere the tiles. I used a zigzag edged trowels to place the mastic on the wall. Because my tiles were in 12 inch by 12 inch sheets it was fairly easy to apply them. Many times tutorials wioll tell you to use a rubber grout float to press them into the wall. Instead I pressed each tile into the wall to make sure they had a tight grip. In harder to reach places, or areas where only one or two tiles were needed to be adhered, I “buttered” the tiles then applied them. “Buttering” the tiles is when you apply the mastic directly to the tile first. Behind my stove I attached a wood beam flush to the counter tops to help make sure my tiles stayed lined up.

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Once I had full sheets installed i had to go back and add tiles around light sockets and light switches. To finish the tiles on top near my cabinets I placed rows of the mirror finish glass tiles. I found that I needed some tiles cut. I do not have a tile cutter and they are expensive to buy and rent. Luckily Lowe’s offers free tile cutting. Lowe’s is also where this tile was purchased. It is called “Silver Moon.” I took multiple pieces of tile with me to Lowe’s to have them make the cuts. At first, some of the tile salesmen said that they could not cut the tiles because they were too small. Luckily a more experienced tile salesman proved them wrong by showing them. I was worried for a moment when they told me it could not be done. If you need to have tiles cut, like I did, make sure you take more than you need just in case. I had to make a second trip myself and talk a salesman into doing it since the more experienced gentleman was not there the second time.

This is what my final results look like. I still have one more step to do. The grout. I am a little worried about it because the gray tiles are natural stone they are not level. I am hoping to get the grout done within the next week or so.

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The Mystery Plant from Lowes

I went to Lowes a few weeks ago and near the register was an amazing plant marked for clearance. The tag had “annual” printed on it. It certainly did not look like an annual though. It had leaves shaped like maple leaves and the color was a very deep red purple. I brought it home and then posted the picture on Dave’s Garden forum. I was hoping that maybe through some great miracle it was a redblood Japanese maple sapling. As it turns out this mystery plant is actually a red leaf hibiscus, hibiscus acetosella. Very interesting plant with some very pretty flowers. The top picture is mine, the one below are what I have to look forward to.

Pet Peeve About Plant Nurseries

WHY ISN’T THE PRICE EASY TO FIND

This is my number  1 pet peeve. Why don’t nurseries ESPECIALLY the BIG chains like Lowes and Home Depot, Wal-Mart have their plants properly labeled? I know they have signs but not everything always has a sign. In fact about 60% – 75% of these stores have no proper labels for telling the consumer the price of the plants. This bothers me because I do not like having to hunt down a worker and then follow them to the register to get the price. The workers are very busy running around placing plants out, watering and cleaning. It has to be annoying for them as well to stop and get a price. Now some stores have price check centers now. This is a brilliant idea, sadly those price checking centers are not in the gardening center. So if you want to know the price of that gorgeous knock-out rose or half dead crepe myrtle your trying to get a deal on, you have to walk way out of the gardening area. And IF one of you BIG chains is reading this, I usually lose my desire to shop at that location at that point.

Another aspect of the pricing is that Stores such as Lowes and Wal-Mart sometimes do have the price on the plant tag, but not all the time. Why isn’t there consistency? I am aware that there are different suppliers etc. but once the plant arrives at the store it needs to be properly labeled with the right price. I can bet that sales would go way up. How about taking out the old pricing guns from the early nineties and eighties? Who cares if all the plants have neon orange and yellow tags on them? I don’t mind. It makes it easy for me to find the price.

As for locally owned nurseries, it is the same problem. The prices are not clearly marked or there is absolutely no price at all. In fact some in some plant nurseries the workers have different ideas as to what the plant’s price should be! You see by simple adding a price tag not only do you lessen confusion for the customer but for the workers as well. I had a man tell me a few weeks ago he had no idea why the owner would tell me the Chitalpa cost $500 when it was in fact only $350. Hmmm that is a difference of $150!!! Thankfully Lowe’s had a Chitalpa for $68 and it was clearly labeled on the plant tag. At some of the local nurseries you have to get a worker to walk around with you and tell you how much everything costs. I will not lie to you I do ask for the prices on EVERYTHING. I want to know what the market is for specific plants. I want to know how much some of the exotics are and their name  etc, none of which is labeled on the plant mind you.  I also tell the worker before leaving that they really should have the prices on the plants because then I do not have to ask and they do not have to give me a guided tour of plant prices when they have so many other things they need to be doing.

Hmmm, this blog entry has given me an idea to start writing up some reviews on the local nurseries around town. . . . .

 

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