Gardening: Peony Bed

With some nice weather this weekend, it was a good time to put in those peonies promised in the previous post! We purchased 3 varieties: ‘Nippon Beauty,’ ‘Doreen’ and ‘Peter Brand’ –  two dark pink, and one light. Our head gardener also brought over some of her own hardy geraniums that will hopefully fill in and create a nice ground cover.

Spreading compost

Shoveling compost

We spread a layer of compost over the top to enrich the soil and keep it from cracking.

Finished garden

Finished peony bed with step gardens

We also topped off the step gardens with some mulch made of cocoa shells, a recycled by-product of the chocolate-making process. It helps conserve water by keeping the moisture in the soil from evaporating too quickly, and gives the garden a nice finished appearance. And makes it smell like chocolate.

Peony bud

We’ve got tomato sign! The first little fruits showed up on our Sungold tomatoes this week. But don’t break out the basil and mozzarella just yet – they’re only the size of a marble.


Dog Cubby

Jumping in

Before we built our house, our dog Archie slept in our room in his plastic travel crate – not the classiest feature for a modern home! We wanted a place for him to sleep that would be comfortable and out of the way, and also blend in with the decor.

Our solution was the “dog cubby” – a built-in closet in the bedroom that recedes right into the wall, occupying the same space as the kitchen pantry on the other side. 

Archie in cubby

It was made as a single unit at the shop, and pushed into a cutout in the wall: 

Drywall hole

We had originally planned to build a door, but found that Arch likes his bed so much that he won’t wander out at night.

Demonstrating the wrong way to use the dog cubby:

Garden Update: Soil Prep

It was a bit of a rainy weekend, so there wasn’t too much major gardening going on. Albo installed a new hose reel in the back (got to keep that hose clutter under control), and his mum brought a gift of two tomato plants (Sungold and Pruden’s Purple) and gigantic containers to grow them in. Looking forward to some colorful salads this summer!

every day I'm shoveling

The step gardens are settling in nicely, and I started doing some soil prep on the west side for a future peony border. This involved digging out some very sandy, rocky soil and filling in with 75% topsoil and 25% composted cow manure. That’ll be a much happier environment for our plants!

Carpet Install

After 8 months or so of living with the rough and ready OSB floor, we thought it was about time to get the carpet installed. Of course it took that long just to prepare for it, since essentially everything should be done before you put it down.

We did a lot of research before we chose this carpet. Originally we wanted hardwood, but the expense of prefinished and the laborious installation of unfinished made us look toward other choices. A lot of people dislike carpet for various reasons, but we love how cozy it makes a room feel, and we take our shoes off at home so it stays clean. At less than half the cost of hardwood, it was financially the best choice, too.

Albo’s parents have a Berber style wall-to-wall that still looks great after a dozen years, so we knew we wanted something similar. We explored several alternative fibers – “green” carpets made of recycled soda bottles, corn fiber, renewable Nylon 6, or natural wool – but unfortunately they were too expensive, or didn’t come in the durable Berber we wanted. We found a local company who steered us towards this Shaw carpet (called “Asteroid”), which can be reclaimed by the manufacturer at the end of its life cycle, will last a very long time, and has minimal offgassing. The installers used carpet pads of recycled material and tacked (rather than glued) the edges to further reduce nasty chemicals.

Tack tracks or whatever they’re called 


Unrolling and positioning

How to put everything in the kitchen

Heat seaming

Edge finishing

Finally seeing all the details come together

Next day was bedrooms so everything had to be moved out

Did we really live with that awful floor for 8+ months?

Seams very well