Through the Red Door


Maternity clothing

I guess I’ve been lucky to get away with not having to wear maternity clothes so far. I’ve still been able to wear some of my regular tops and dresses, although they are starting to get shorter around the tummy and knees.  Or I’ve been buying dresses and tops in bigger sizes.  But since the weather has cooled down I’ve found I have no trousers or jeans to wear.  The other day I tried on a pair of my trousers thinking that I could squeeze into them – wrong!  I tried on another pair just to be really sure – wrong again!  So over the weekend I decided it was time to go to the mall and find some maternity stretchy trousers (uh oh).  Luckily the task was not too daunting. I managed to pick up a pair of trousers from Target and a pair of skinny jeans from Old Navy….yes, I did say skinny jeans.  I did find some boot cut jeans at Kohl’s but I think I’ll be returning those as they are not very flattering.

Skinny jeans woohoo

Skinny jeans woohoo

I also bought some tummy sleeves from Motherhood.  These are pretty clever and handy.  They’re kind of like a tube top which you wear around your belly and can disguise unbuttoned trousers or regular tops which are starting to get short.

Anyway only around 2.5 months more of having to wear maternity clothing, so not long now…


Canna Lilies

The canna lilies were an experiment, I took a few of the seeds from my friend at http://homeowned.blogspot.com/ and planted them sometime earlier in the year, watering when I remembered.

I didn’t really expect anything to happen, as I heard you were supposed to nick the seeds before planting them.  Well I guess that isn’t true.  Look how they have grown, pretty fast.  The leaves are looking a bit dry and I think a grasshopper has been nibbling on some of them, but not bad for a freebie plant.

DSC07950


What a difference a summer makes

I’ve kind of kept away from gardening this summer as the past months have been extremely hot, to the point where you say actually say “urrghh” or “yuk” when you have to step outside.  Over the weekend was the first time in ages that I have been able to go out and do some gardening and pottering around without the sun blazing down on me.   I tried to tidy up my vegetable patch, which has gotten out of control but managed to produce some ‘super sized’ veggies.

Anyway do you remember my little bougainvillea plants?

Boug was small

Boug was small

Check out how small the light pink boug was on the right

Check out how small the light pink boug was on the right

Just look at how they have thrived since being planted in the ground and over this summer:

Wall of boug

Wall of boug

Our neighbours put up some trellis along the fence and also planted some climbing vines on their side.  I love the way the plants have all intermingled and are growing through the trellis.  It looks pretty tropical or even pretty and tropical.


Kogi Truck visits the Valley

I’m back, it’s been a while.  Kogi BBQ Truck made a late night stop near our neck of the woods last night.  I’ve read a lot of rave reviews about the travelling Asian Fusion Taco Truck so we decided to see what all the fuss was about.  Think of it like your chippy burger van.  Normally I’m not one to eat street food from a taco truck especially being pregnant but I had to see what this new fad (well not so new anymore) was about.  Plus it happened to be located about 10 minutes from our neighbourhood (so it must have been a sign).  The Twitter updates said it was going to be at the Premier Car Wash in Encino from about 10.30pm.  We made our way there and spotted the truck and the crowds, I guess if you didn’t know you could have missed it.  We queued up for about 15 minutes, not bad at all as I read that some people have queued up for 2 hours.  As newbies to the Korean Taco Truck phenomenon this is what we decided to order:

2 x Korean Short Rib tacos

1 x Spicy BBQ Chicken taco

1 x Spicy Pork taco

1 x Beef sliders (2 per serving)

1 x Korean Short Rib burrito

1 x bottle of water to wash it down

The plan was to take the food home to eat but when it showed up we couldn’t resist, so we ate it there and then on Ventura Blvd, along with all the other Kogi peeps.  The tacos were great, sweet and savoury, sliders were not burger patties at all but made from bits of korean short ribs (Brandon loved those).  Burrito was  a breakfast burrito with eggs and korean short ribs.  All in all delicious, tasty, mouth-watering, more-ish (if there if such a word)  and it only came to $21, $2 a taco.  We can’t wait for Kogi to visit the Valley again, we’ll be there.

Ordering street food style

Ordering street food style

Kogi visits Encino

Kogi visits Encino


Curtain update

Well in the end after visiting a few different Bed Bath and Beyond stores (which happen to have different inventory) we found these thermosave curtains.  These ones have been up for a while and will be here to stay.  They do actually make a difference, the AC doesn’t have to work as hard and will go off during the day, which would never happen before.

Curtains

Curtains


Bougainvillea

Prior to the garden makeover I tried to grow various bougainvillea plants in pots.  Unfortunately they didn’t do too well and ended up losing all their leaves and bracts (I’m sure I even killed a few in my attempt).  So once the garden was complete I was ready to plant the surviving bougainvilleas  into the ground.  What a difference a year makes – the plant is flourishing with leaves and bracts, it looks so much happier.  It’s actually starting to grow through next doors trellis.

boug 08

boug 08

boug 09

boug 09

Here is another bougainvillea that we planted.  This one resembled a stick when it was planted. 

Pink boug

Pink boug

I’ve come to realise bougainvilleas are pretty low maintenance plants, they do better with little water and little attention.

Vegetable Patch

I thought I should try and be green and grow my own vegetables.  In the past I have tried to grow tomatoes in containers and various herbs which didn’t really survive.  I probably spent more money on the pots, soil and water but still it was worth it, especially when you take that bite of the first ripened tomato – tastes so much better than store bought ones.  I decided it would be a good idea to build a vegetable area at the front of the garden.   There is a lot more space towards the back but as there is no faucet (tap) at the back I thought it might be hard to water and maintain.  When we were redoing our garden we discovered that underneath all the weeds there were some brick paths.  Anyway we managed to salvage the good bricks and they have come in handy as borders for the trees and plants and also for the vegetable area.  So here is my attempt at vegetable plot #1.

Take 1

Take 1

I decided the vegetable area didn’t look quite right with the Cape Plumbago in the back so I decided there was only one solution, to transplant it to another area of the garden.  I was torn as to whether it was a good idea to move it or not, knowing the plant may well not survive the move.  Oh well too late, I went ahead and did it as I needed the space for the vegetables.  Update, the Cape Plumbago is not doing too well but hopefully it will recover.   I have come to find out that plants are very resilient.  I added some bamboo sticks as support for the tomatoes and here is attempt #2 of the vegetable plot.

Take 2

Take 2

Yesterday we  increased the size of the vegetable plot to accommodate some climbing french bean seeds.  We also added some much needed fertilizer and some stepping stones to make it easier to walk through the area.  Attempt #3 and this is probably the final version.

Take 3

Take 3

As you can tell from the photos I did not really plan out the vegetable plot, I just planted them randomly, which may or may not be a good thing.   The inventory so far: cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, zuchinni squash, spring onions, chinese leek, rosemary, pineapple sage (smells exactly like pineapples when you rub the leaves).  Elsewhere I am growing peppers, fennel and mint. Let’s hope all the vegetables grow well together and don’t start growing into one another and fighting for space.


Keeping cool

We have a west facing front room with giant windows which effectively turns our living room into a terrarium during the summer months.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but yesterday we purchased some ‘Thermosave‘ curtains.  They are made with an innovative thermal coating that blocks out light.  They apparently help the room stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter and more importantly help save on energy costs.   Our AC is on most of the afternoon during the hot days so I’m hoping this will help.  I guess today will be a good day to test it out as it is supposed to get into the mid 90’s (that’s around mid 30’s for all you metric readers).  I just stepped out in the garden and it is hot it is ony 10am.

curtains

Thermosave curtains on the left

The curtains already seem to be making a difference although I’m not so sure about the stripey pattern.  Another alternative would be to just buy the curtain liner and attach it to the existing curtains or pole.  I’ll have to go and hunt for them at the stores and try it and decide on which one is best.

Doing some research about energy saving curtains led me to discover the Coolaroo Shade Sails, a shading structure from Aussie.  I like the fact that it would help block out 90% of harmful UV rays while still allowing a cool breeze to flow through.  It also helps to reduce the temperatures underneath the sail.  I think this would be  great for the back patio, which has no shade at the moment.  We just bought some new cushions for our seats so it would be nice to be able to go out there and sit down.  I just have to try and figure out how it all works before I go ahead and order one.

Patio

Patio

Seating area

Seating area

I’m also going to get myself a good sun hat, one which has a wide brim and will protect my face from the UV rays.


Welcome

Being a keen reader of other blogs, I decided it’s about time that I started my own blog on garden musings and more. I spend a lot of time (well a substantial amount of time) tending to my plants and being Ms. Greenfingers, so I decided this needs to be shared with others.

We bought our home nearly 2 years ago. The yard was simple; a huge lawn albeit the grass looking a bit brown, chain link fence going around the perimeter, lot’s of pretty ivy.  Little did we know how invasive that stuff was.  We were just happy to have all this space. We had moved from a tiny shaded pigeon pooped balcony, where nothing ever flourished to this large open expanse, “Yeah we can deal with it”.  Well after the rainy season we realized we couldn’t be more wrong. The yard had turned into a waist high weed haven attracting neighbourhood cats, possums, flies – not a pretty sight and a huge variety of weeds.  We tried to fix things as best we could and make the garden usable but it was nearly impossible given the large area.

view from back of garden

overgrown mexican palm

garden of weeds

Anyway to cut a long story short we hired Carlos to help us landscape our garden.  The project itself was a huge task, which I think even Carlos had perhaps somewhat underestimated.  Anyway after a month or so the garden was ready and wow what an amazing difference.  Now we have a green lawn, fruit trees, bamboo, a patio, a functioning sprinkler system, outdoor lighting, a real fence, a gate that opens and a very healthy palm tree.

newly laid lawn

garden path and citrus trees

sprinklers all working good

Hope you enjoy reading my blog. I’ll try and update as much as possible although you know with all this nice weather I’ll be out gardening.  Feel free to leave comments, and suggestions are most welcome.



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