Monday, June 23, 2014

The Backyardigans

Ode To The Back Yard, by Krista Fuller 2014

Roses red, veggies are green
Your small army of assorted Elvis garden gnomes make you ever serene.

~The End

When Jason and I bought this house, I knew the backyard had potential to be the botanical escape which I had been longing to feel. Our buried treasure hidden under 2 feet of snow refused to reveal what kind of magic we were working with, but I knew whatever it was would be fantastic.

(And it always will be if you go in with this sort of attitude, mind you.)

BEFORE: backyard makeover

After the snow surrendered, we were left with a crispy blanket of dormant grass and a tree resembling Keith Richards. 

BEFORE: backyard makeover

And then one day...

From Keith Richards to Richard Simmons!

Half dead and snorting his father's cremated ashes suddenly transformed into glitter shorts and deep thigh lunges! Oh Huzzah!  Any shyness was thrown out the proverbial window as he opened his trench coat to reveal all the strength and beauty hiding under his knickers!

Albeit, a trip to the groomer never hurt anybody.

BEFORE: backyard makeover

Those little sucker plants at his trunk were rooted so deep, it took 3 days of chopping, cutting and axing to get down to the nitty gritty of things. We hijacked his winter coat and all of his modesty, but we got the job done. 

("Well, hello there neighbors! Charmed, I'm sure!" *blush blush*)

BEFORE: backyard makeover

Nowadays, our little tree is renting out his trunk to make a home to our personal fairy. 

It has recently become clear to Kalynn that her teeth will soon begin to sporadically fall out, and she'll be rewarded in coins as soon as this happens. 
Her logical 4-year-old brain has come to the conclusion that in order for the tooth fairy to not accidentally forget where she lives, she should probably just set up camp for the next year and wait patiently in the back yard. Just in case. 

So we've made her a place to get comfy. 

fairy garden pathway with birdhouse, swimming hole, picnic table, bridge, and raised garden bed

Our tooth fairy has stepping stones leading around back under the wooden arch to her own miniature picnic table where she can enjoy lemonade and tarts. 

fairy garden with pathway, fencing,  birdhouse, swimming hole, picnic table, bridge, and raised garden bed

Continuing to the other side of the tree, she can cross the bridge as to not get her teeny slippers wet in the enchanted river. 

fairy garden with pathway, fencing,  birdhouse, swimming hole, picnic table, bridge, and raised garden bed

And finally on the other side of her secret swimming hole, she has her very own raised garden bed, complete with itty bitty scare crow and planting tools. 

fairy garden with pathway, fencing,  birdhouse, swimming hole, picnic table, bridge, and raised garden bed

Moving along, on the opposite side yard we had this turd of an eyesore. The space conceivably had the undeveloped promise of a budding future if given the right creativity and appreciation, it just needed to be tapped into. 

The previous owners left us all this composite "better board" planking in a heap on the side of the house. My dad and my husband figured they would try the theory of resurrecting Sleeping Beauty with true love's kiss. 

BEFORE side yard deck renovation

She's alive!

BEFORE side yard deck renovation

A good strong power wash, a couple strands of clear bulbs, a "borrowed" glass table from my boss at the bar, a few plants and decorations, we have ourselves the perfect summer hang out spot!

BEFORE AND AFTER side yard deck renovation

I'm so in love with this space! Imagine a cold carafe of margaritas on a hot evening with Billie Holiday quietly playing in the background to the beat of the Summer crickets... 
It is quite possibly the most romantic place on earth. 

BEFORE AND AFTER side yard deck renovation

And all it cost us was a box of deck screws from the local hardware store. Even better. 

BEFORE AND AFTER side yard deck renovation

Looking out from our newly crafted deck was the other corner. 

You guys, do you remember the scene in the movie Pet Sematary where Rachel tells a story about being traumatized by her sister Zelda whom they hid away in a back room because she was super sick and creepy looking and she ended up choking on her own tongue and dying? Yes well, if the pretty little fairy garden corner of our house is Rachel, this other sister corner would be Zelda. 

There was a very sad and skinny willow tree surrounded with weeds being roped down to a metal pole presumably for strength, and a rectangular square of abandoned dirt where a swing set or play ground used to set. 

BEFORE AND AFTER: backyard makeover

Now here is the issue: this was supposed to be my outside movie theater spot. 
This is something I've dreamed of and wished upon a star for! 
I needed this to heal and repair quickly!
 Unfortunately, some new sod would do the trick but it was going to take a little time. 

About 6 weeks ago we watered and waited, watered and waited, watered and waited. 

Eventually, after unpacking its bags and making itself at home, it was like the sod had always been there. No ugly hemming stitches, no seams, no scars. The sister had been miraculously mended, her tongue reapplied, a makeover on TLC's What Not To Wear, and she was ready to come out of the Shame Room.  

It was time to plan our first outside family movie night.

We had BBQ spare ribs, we had coleslaw, we had blankets, pillows, popcorn, micobrews... 

And then we had this:

Colorado Rain Storm #rainstorm #Colorado

I was as sad as a Twinkie who had lost its package mate. I felt all alone in the world. My cinema dream had run off to join the circus and I was going to have to watch re-runs of Friends to keep myself entertained. 

Ho hum...

But then! There was a loud boom of thunder and a giant gust of wind and we watched in awe as the storm passed right over our heads hurrying along like it was late for a party. With the new bright sky starting to make its way over, it was time to set up for our own!

Bring on the projector and the lawn chairs and the sleeping bags and the booze! It was time to watch Barbie: The Pearl Princess!

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

(Never mind our unfinished flagstone patio.)

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

With our treated willow tree full and happy, our green grass freshly mowed, and faith restored in miracles, it was time to start the show!

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

Kalynn had saved her allowance for weeks in order to purchase the matching mermaid dress that went along with the movie. Once she realized she could do her ballet routine and watch her own shadows whenever a song came on, the evening pretty much went down as the coolest night in the history of the world. 

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

We stayed up for a second showing of Summer School after we put Kalynn to bed and I'm pretty sure I caught some of the neighbors sneaking peeks from their upstairs windows. I mean, who wouldn't? Mark Harmon is the coolest actor ever.

Summer movie night in the back yard! Fun for kids and romantic for date nights! Easy set up projectors are on sale everywhere for the summer!

All in all, this has been one of the most productive Summers our family has ever had. Between swimming lessons, summer camps, work, day trips, picnics, and renovating, it's a shock I still find time to drink as much as I do! 

(just kidding)

Follow me on Instagram!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Solstice Season

This gorgeous Northern Hemisphere of ours is on its way to Summer camp. 
Our little fraction of Earth has its duffle bag packed, trail mix has been made with extra M&M's, clean underwear is in tow. He's checking his cell phone for the time as to not be tardy. Excitement is beginning to brew about adventures just around the corner and he's already thinking of what to write in the first few postcards to the Moon. Correspondence is important, you know. 
I wonder how many tales about solstices and equinoxes have been told around the campfire. I wonder if Ritual and Celebration take turns storytelling of ancient sites, Algonquin farmers, and cultural astronomers. 

Midsummer is an very animated time around my house. Days are longer than nights and focus shifts ever so slightly more to the Sun. Our garden is growing, our sprinkler is chasing Kalynn around the yard, our tequila shots are going down a bit smoother, our grill is working overtime with half the pay and not a peep of complaint. 

It is sad to me that we're pretty much an indoor culture at this point. Our connection to the sky is fleeting. If we aren't farmers interested in growth and harvest seasons or neo-paganists or new age revolutionists, there is a noticeable decline in astrological significance. I happen to be none of these things but my desire for a cosmic relationship is stronger than the lust of a 19 year old boy. 
I need it to get through my days. 

There can be a special spirituality in celestial mechanics. It's a baffling scientific mix of mathematics, history and humbleness. It feels so good to be a part of something so massive. 

So, for us anyway, we'll be celebrating the first day of Summer outside.  

We'll be soaking up the season and having tea in a magical fortress with Cabbage Patch Kids and tons of purple pillows. Because what better way to say hello to Summer than with a pile of purple pillows? I mean, really...

Make an outside fort for your little one in the Summer time. Mesh canopies are cheap!

Make an outside fort for your little one in the Summer time. Mesh canopies are cheap!

Make an outside fort for your little one in the Summer time. Mesh canopies are cheap!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waxing and Waning

With another very welcomed full moon coming up on Friday, my loving Luna has been running through my mind all week. Some people feel a bit off when the moon is so saturated with this sort of bright energy but I tend to tap into our connection. I feel this moon is pregnant with the universal knowledge of love and harvest and the concept of enjoying all you've worked hard for. Appreciation. Reaping what you sow.
June is the month of the Strawberry full moon according to the Algonquin tribes who have since taken responsibility for the naming of our lunar orbiting. This month is recognized for these tribes finally being able to pluck all the ripe strawberries from their swollen vines and enjoy the cool fruits under the heat of the sun. Sort of a humble pat on the back, a mid-way treat, a cigarette break, a pause, a beat in your tempo, a deep breath, a moment to close your eyes, lean your head back, wipe the sweat and just stand there for a while.

So, Karma. In a nutshell.

If you plant, if you work, if you water, if you gather... You'll receive the sweet taste of a fruity victory. If you don't, well...

What goes around comes around.
Repercussions are always there to remind you of the things you did or didn't do. Don't ever be fooled into thinking there isn't a cosmic cause and effect counterbalance. There is. It's a boomerang coming back at you with force 3 times harder than that of your throw, or if you're lucky, it's a nectarous little basket filled with the plump juicy berries you've been sheltering, feeding and cultivating to make your relaxation all the more fulfilling.

You are the captain of your own ship, as they say. Or farmer of your own field I suppose in this analogy.

So anyway, last month we planted our own row of strawberries in the garden. When we got them on sale from the local nursery they were weak, limp, and looked as though they were on their way to Hospice.

paint rocks and use them as garden markers

paint rocks and use them as garden markers

Regardless of their unfortunate demeanor, (looking like a wimpy pile of Lindsey Lohans who were damaged with daddy issues) we planted them anyway and in the warmth of the sun with fresh water to drink and Billy Joel serenading "Downeaster Alexa" on his piano from around the corner's iPod doc, our strawberries slowly began to perk up. 

paint rocks and use them as garden markers

Here we are a month later, and although our greenery hasn't started baring fruit yet, they have doubled in size and happiness. (As have our onions, squash, carrots, bell peppers, eggplant and of course beets) Quite a difference from the photo above taken from the same angle. Even the second raised bed which started as tiny seedlings are popping their heads up to take notice of the nice weather we've been having.

paint rocks and use them as garden markers

The moral of this story? Patience, love, and hard work.

strawberry plants

“Should you fail to pilot your own ship, 
don't be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked.” 

-Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume


Friday, June 6, 2014

Captain Krista's Counter Culture

Have you ever seen those clunker cars where the hood or passenger side door is a different color than the rest of the car's body? 
We had the culinary equivalent. 
We had a clunker kitchen. 

The walls were that unfortunate color of hammered down concrete which was bad enough, but in addition the counter tops were the color of Yoda. 

Not like a bright, young and energetic Yoda. More like a hungover Yoda who had woken up after just 2 1/2 hours of sleep to find he had rolled over a dirty diaper and was now snuggled up to a big girl with breath smelling of kitty litter.  

For further reference, I'll include a photograph.

Kitchen Countertop remodel before and after photos

On the opposite wall there was a lovely laminate counter top sprinkled with multiple shades of tan. It was a beautiful mix of armadillo, peanut shells, pine cone, Indian tee-pee and Tara Reid.  I couldn't understand why the previous owners would have replaced one and not the other. But for whatever reason, they didn't. 

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

When we bought the house, replacing the mismatched counter tops was on code red urgency. So much so that in one of our counteroffers to purchasing this quaint little palace, we put in writing that the sellers must disclose to us the place where these new counters were acquired so that we could get the avocado ones out of here as soon as humanly possible. 
Turns out; Home Depot. 

Easy enough. 

Now to tend to these horrific walls. 

Kitchen Countertop remodel before and after photos

I was wanting a creamy pastel sort of pale teal color for the paint but none of the color swatches were really what I was going for.  Our living room lamps were however that particular shade so I marched one of them into Home Depot and they were able to color match. Technology is amazing. 

I know these pictures aren't the best given that they were taken on a cell phone (latest and greatest iPhone or not, an actual camera always does more justice), but my point isn't really the colors as much as the change. Just notice the very drastic shift from the dark side of the moon to the silver lining. My entire mood was lifted like wallets in the streets of Paris with each brush stroke.

Kitchen Countertop remodel before and after photos

Ok, so putting a stop to the discrepancy of the counter tops was a process. 

The lady at our local Home Depot was a horrible person with a disastrous personality and to say we didn't hit it off very well would have been an enormous understatement. 

Now, I know nothing about home renovation.
I make this no secret.
I've never owned a home, I've never replaced counter tops, I don't even know when the last time I stepped foot in a home improvement store would have been. 
However, I'm not an idiot.
I was trying to get through the ordering process just as unscathed as this road-kill of a customer service representative. Turns out, some people have a rough time playing well with others so I ended up telling her to have a nice afternoon (that isn't what I told her) and I went to the other side of town and visited with Fort Collins' other Home Depot. 

This new woman was extraordinary. She explained all the steps, how everything would go down and in what order. We matched the laminate, we chose the back splash wall, we decided on the waterfall trim and that was all there was to it. A week after we had a guy from the tile and stone company come to our house to measure, it took 2 1/2 weeks for fabrication, and a week after that it was installed. 

Easy Peasy.

We skipped paying the extra cash and took our old tops and sink off ourselves. By ourselves I mean Jason and our friend Grant and absolutely nothing involving myself personally unless you count snapping pictures. 

Kitchen Countertop remodel before and after photos

The newbies were installed the following day in under an hour. 

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

This next picture is the one that absolutely kills me. I was just flipping though the pictures from a post a few weeks back called 50 Shades of Pewter Mug and standing from the same point of view the place is so dark! I just can't even believe how much brighter the whole house looks with just a few coats of lighter paint on the walls. If I have any advice for anyone looking to spruce their place up on a budget, just grab of couple of rollers and a head over to your nearest home improvement store (NOT the Home Depot on the corner of Lemay and Mulberry in Fort Collins, Colorado). It's the biggest bang for your buck for sure.  

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

Kitchen Countertop remodel before and after photos

Wilsonart Laminate Terra Roca 4837-53 kitchen counter remodel

With order restored in the kitchen area and a brightness breathing life back into our little cave, I feel much more at ease with posting some summer recipes in the near future. 

However, for now I'm going to do nothing but sit. It's been 2 months of remodeling and I need a bit of a break. I've been sick all week with a hellacious head cold and there is an Adirondack chair, a brand new Tom Robbins book, and a glass of iced tea in the back yard screaming my name. 

Have a great weekend!

Saint Paul defined faith as "a belief in things unseen." Well, I believe in unseen things. Don't you? Love. Electricity. Flatulence.  -Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tommy Rotten: The Man Who Changed My Moon

You guys.

I waited 4 hours at the Tattered Cover Bookstore tonight to meet the most influential literary icon of my life.

As the clock drew closer to that 7 PM hour and I had been holding my espresso saturated self and my coveted 3rd row center aisle seat, I had to just get up and pee. It was like 6:53 PM and I figured if I ran back super fast and left my books on my chair to mark my territory, I could safely make it back in time for Tom Robbins to come strolling down the walkway and into my obsessive little world.

So I'm hauling ass around the corner doing the middle aged lady speed walk and I run right into the guy.

Like, I'm face to face.
With Tom Robbins.

The Universe purposely pushed on my bladder right at that exact moment so that it could align our paths. Tom Robbins is standing directly in front of me and I have this amazing opportunity to let him know how much he's changed my views about everything in the goddamn world and how much I love him and all I can squeak out is "Oh my god, you almost gave me a heart attack!"

Sunglasses. Of course. He was wearing shades, a striped jacket, neon shoes and a half smile. Yeah, we shared a smile. It was bliss. Not exactly how I was hoping our first meeting would go, but bliss nonetheless.

I'm sure he thought so as well.

He didn't return any actual words, but I'm almost 100% positive he fell in love a little bit.

So anyway, he read a few chapters from his new book Tibetan Peach Pie and I waited in line afterwards admiring his comic book socks and tried to ignore all the rest of the groupies.  It was one of the most magical nights of my life. He eventually signed my tore up copy of Still Life With Woodpecker and I did get to express to him how much he changed my life.

 (I'm even almost positive he heard me)

I'm telling you, it was a harmonic, star struck, promenade of a dream evening. Total perfection.

Tom Robbins book signing tour for Tibetan Peach Pie at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Littleton, Colorado just outside of Denver #tomrobbins #tibetanpeachpie

Now, with this new experience under my belt, I have taken this from it:

(I've said it before and I'll say it again)
When I can't see the moon I feel a bit lost. An invisible moon is an invisible me, I feel. 

When things around me are chaotic and temporal, it's calming to me to be able to look up and see my constant.
I feel connected.

The Moon is my crush. I wait all day for its visit. But he takes forever to get ready for a date. Like the world revolves around him or something. 

Right now, Mr Moon is coming back from invisibility and I feel that even a sliver is reassuring. 

New moons are a sort of blank page. It's a chance to think of exactly what it is I want to be drawing into my life. Preparation for the next cycle. 

It's a powerful opportunity to trust in the darkness no matter how uncomfortable and uncertain. It is a great reminder to have faith.

Because after all, according to the man himself:

“There are essential and inessential insanities. The later are solar in character, the former are linked to the moon.” 

Tom Robbins book signing tour for Tibetan Peach Pie at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Littleton, Colorado just outside of Denver #tomrobbins #tibetanpeachpie

Tom Robbins book signing tour for Tibetan Peach Pie at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Littleton, Colorado just outside of Denver #tomrobbins #tibetanpeachpie #Stilllifewithwoodpecker

"A pileated woodpecker is still a pileated woodpecker no matter if it roosts with the ducks." -Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie #tomrobbins #tibetanpeachpie