A Box of Fresh Veggies

I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week that Corey and I (finally) joined a CSA – a community supported agriculture. We’ve been talking about doing it since last summer, but we just never actually signed up.

Now that the farmer’s markets are all back in full swing, though, it was on my brain again and we decided to go for it. We went through Johnson’s Backyard Garden and we picked up our first box on Saturday.

Basically, the idea is that every week (or every other week, which is what we are doing), you go pick up your box and it has a random assortment of fresh veggies from a local farm. We had a ton of stuff in ours, and even had one or two vegetables that we’ve never tried before.

We signed up for fresh eggs with our box, and I’m super excited to have farm-fresh eggs in the house again. They’re ridiculous. We may not keep them in our order for every box because they’re insanely expensive…but they’re soooo yummy!

I can’t wait to start trying out all of the stuff in our box, and I’m excited to see what the summer has in store for us! I have a feeling we’re going to love doing this.

Anyone else a part of a CSA? Any amazing veggie recipe recommendations?!

We Are Not Backpack People

This post isn’t about home decor or renovations. It’s not about a DIY project or home inspiration. It’s the tale of a weekend date that had the potential to be disastrous and that Corey and I will laugh about for many, many years to come. And a reminder that sometimes it’s an awesome idea to step (way) outside of your comfort zone.

It all started late last week when I got a text message from Corey while I was at working asking if I minded if he took me on a surprise date this weekend. I, of course, NEVER turn down the opportunity for a surprise date and immediately agreed.

I spent the next few days dreaming about what the date could possibly be. Were we going antiquing? Spending the day downtown and trying out a new restaurant or two? Going kayaking on the lake downtown?

Most of my original ideas were shot down when Friday evening rolled around and I asked Corey what I should wear the next day. He replied that I should wear jeans, a t-shirt, and my running shoes. He emphasized that I should be comfortable, ready to walk a lot, and wear something I don’t mind getting dirty/potentially destroying.

Um, what?

I tried not to completely panic as my mind began racing with ideas on what in the world we could possibly be doing. I had no clue, so I figured at this point I should just suck it up and go along with him – he kept insisting that this was totally my type of thing and that I would absolutely love the date.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and I was feeling very excited. We headed out to a town right outside of Austin where Corey said we needed to pick up something for the date. When we pulled into Backwoods, a local sporting goods store, I was more than a little confused.

We walked in, and I saw a sign for the “Backwoods Scavenger Hunt and Adventure Race,” I was intrigued. And then we walked up to the table to register and my intrigue quickly turned into panic. Everyone there was in full-on workout gear…and they all looked fit, intense, and ready for a race.

Let me say this again… WHAT?

I could tell that Corey was a bit thrown off by the intensity of the people around us, and I could see him starting to get nervous. I tried to keep my calm and not start having panic attacks in the middle of the store, and I calmly followed him out to the car and suggested we book it to the nearest Target to grab some running shorts for the both of us.

The ride to Target was…quiet. He hadn’t expected this race to be…an actual race, and I was trying to figure out 1) how in the hell he didn’t realize it was a race and 2) why in the world he would think this was something I would be interested in.

It got a little tense a few times while we were at Target – he could tell I wasn’t into the idea and was upset that he had planned a bad date, and I was pretty upset that he had drug me to what basically sounded like a full day of torture.

We had a bit of time to go grab breakfast before the race started, so we headed to a local bakery and sat down. As soon as we got our food, we looked at each other and promptly burst into laughter. We couldn’t believe we had gotten ourselves into such a ridiculous situation, and we were both dreading the entire idea of participating in this race, which is the opposite of our ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We talked it over and I explained that one of my main reasons for not wanting to do it is that I hate competitions. I’m not a competitive person by nature and don’t enjoy feeling pressured to do things quickly or well in order to win something. So, our plan was born – it wasn’t a competition. It was a relaxing and fun day, and our official goal became to come in last place. The pressure was off.

We ate our breakfast and headed over to the park where the race was taking place, and we couldn’t stop giggling at how out of place we were. Most of the other people there were obviously runners, and it wasn’t their first race. There was only one other team that we had a chance of beating, and it consisted of a mom and her two young daughters.

As we stood waiting for the race to begin, we were watching everyone else pull on their backpacks full of water and other running gear (I don’t even know what running gear would consist of, so I can’t be more specific), and we decided that the reason we felt so out of place is because we absolutely are 100% NOT “backpack” people. We don’t go camping. We don’t spend a ton of time exploring outdoors. We don’t even own a backpack. We had all of our water bottles stuffed into a messenger bag on Corey’s shoulder. We’re messenger bag people…not backpack people. See the difference?

Despite our non-backpacked status, the race was starting soon, so we geared up to lose.

(At least I got some cute new running shorts out of the deal!)

The premise of the race was that each team would receive a map of the park and a list of 9 different trail markers where there would be challenges to complete. If you complete a challenge, you get a bead. The goal is to get all 9 beads and make it back to the starting point first – they estimated that the entire thing would be about 5-7 miles. The average win time is about an hour and a half.

Yeeeeah. Not gonna happen.

As the race officially started, every other team took off running towards the trails, while Corey and I began leisurely walking in the same general direction. We felt good about our “this is not a competition” mindset, but we knew we were in over our heads when we spent the first 45 minutes of the race trying to get to a challenge…only to realize we were completely lost. Oops.

Almost an hour into the race we finally managed to get our first bead, and we started to feel a bit better about our chances of at least surviving.

And, although the trails were super challenging and we were completely out of our element, it was an absolutely gorgeous park and we couldn’t help but relax and enjoy the sights.

We got lost a few times. We made a ton of mistakes. We totally rocked the challenges. The important part? We finished the race. We got all nine beads and we made it back to the starting point with a whopping 10 minutes to spare (there was a four hour limit on the race…so um, we were hiking for nearly four hours straight). We only beat one team back to the starting point (yes, it was the mom and her kids), but we actually technically beat a few other teams that came back before us but didn’t get all of the beads.

(Do I look like I’m about to keel over and die? Because that’s how I felt.)

In the end, it ended up being a fabulous date. We had four hours to ourselves to talk, laugh, and be together without any distractions. We didn’t fight, even when we got lost for the third time. We didn’t complain, even when our legs felt like they might literally give out from under us at any second. We stepped jumped out of our comfort zone and ended up having a great bonding experience from it.

Will we ever do this race (or, um, any race) again? Probably not. It’s just not our thing, and we’re okay with that. But every once in a while, it’s great to do something that isn’t your thing. It keeps you on your toes, it gives you a great chance to get a little closer to your significant other, and there’s always a chance that maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up finding something new that you love.

And, if nothing else, you can always look back on the crazy date from hell and laugh about it in years to come (once your legs finally stop throbbing from the four-hour hike).

What have you done to step outside of your comfort zone lately?

Fixing Our Flowers

Since Corey and I moved into the house at the end of the summer last year, this has been the first time we’ve been able to experience spring in our new home – and there are no words for how much fun it’s been so far! We got to watch all of our plants and trees go from lush and green to brown and dead, and now they’re coming back again – it’s all way more exciting than I thought it would be.

I’ll admit, Corey and I were a bit worried at first because we have absolutely no idea how to take care of any of the plants in our yard, and we were convinced we were going to kill everything and be stuck with nothing but ugly, dead plants. But so far, that hasn’t been the case!

We spent some time outside last weekend trying to take care of things, and I’m feeling good about the direction our yard is going – and if we’re being honest, anything will look better than it did before. Let’s take a look at how overgrown, crazy, and weed-y our yard was looking last week.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at those bushes by the back door. The one closest to the door? This is what it looked like up close:

Yeeeeah. It was ugly. And the other bushes? They were just as bad.

Basically, they all looked like big, green, overgrown blobs. They were adding absolutely nothing to the yard, and drove me crazy every time I looked at them. I immediately began hacking away at the bush by the door, hoping to make it look at least a little more easy on the eyes. And the others? After a big of debating, Corey and I decided there was no way to make them look pretty. So they had to go.

Muuuuuch better. The grass underneath the bushes we removed should grow back pretty quickly (it’s only been a week and it’s already filling in a bit), and we didn’t remove the last bush because there wasn’t any grass there, and it would have left a big patch of dirt right next to the door – not cute.

The next step was to head over to the flower bed on the side of the house and see what I could do about getting rid of some of those weeds. I didn’t take a ton of before pictures, so you’ll just have to go off the one above, but trust me when I say there were a lot of weeds. It was bad. After about half an hour of pulling, yanking, and cursing myself for not doing it sooner, I finally had a clean flower bed.

But that flower bush on the far right side of the flower bed? It was getting a little too wild and it needed to be taken down a notch (or seven). I had no idea how to prune it, but a little bit of Googling taught me the basics – remove any limbs that are crossed over one another or entangled, and then do what you can to make it aesthetically pleasing.

Well, once I got to pruning, I quickly realized that almost every single branch was wrapped up in another branch – this poor bush was just about to strangle itself. So, I started cutting, got rid of all of the branches that looked like they were in the way of another branch’s growth, and then I stepped back….to see that I had basically massacred the entire bush.

Whoops? But at least you can actually see the flowers on it now – that’s an improvement, right? I’m hoping that the bush will fill it a little more and look less depressing, and I’m hoping that I didn’t completely ruin it by taking away so much. It’ll grow back, right?

I did a little more trimming in the other bushes (but I was scared to destroy them now, so I was much more careful with my cutting!) and soon enough I had a flower bed that actually looked like someone cares about it.

Much better! I gave the bushes a week to see if the pruning helped at all, and maybe I’m imagining it, but when I checked them again this weekend I was almost positive that they were looking a bit healthier and more flower-y!

Love! I’m so happy to have pretty flowers and I hope they continue to bloom over the next few weeks. Now I just need to learn a little more about what else I can plant in our bed so we can fill it in a bit and help it look less sparse.

What’s your favorite part about spring? Have you ever over-pruned a poor innocent flower bush?

Backyard Tour

When Corey and I were looking at houses nearly a year ago, one of the things that immediately caught our attention about our home was the amazing backyard. We have two dogs with a lot of energy, and so a large backyard was on the list of things that were absolutely non-negotiable for us. With this home, we happened to luck out with not only a large backyard, but a beautiful one. The people who lived here before us obviously knew their way around a garden (unlike me), and had planted a ton of beautiful plants outside (as well as some that we can’t wait to get rid of).

I never got a chance to really show proper photos of our backyard, because things were insane when we first moved in, and just a couple of months later winter hit and the backyard wasn’t looking so hot. But now? Spring has officially sprung in our neck of the woods, and our yard is looking beautiful once more. We have big plans to change things up in the yard (it doesn’t have a lot of functional space for actually hanging out right now), but for now we’re loving just having some nice, lush grass and a few pretty plants!

When you are standing at the back door looking out on the yard, this is your view:

Don’t you love the gross, paint-covered table? Yikes – that needs to go soon. But for now, it’s the only table we have so it’s going to stick around for a little while longer. The patio off of our back door is absolutely tiny, as you can see, and some day we would like to expand it to the end of the house and add in some outdoor furniture like a nicer table and maybe even a small couch and chairs.

This is the side of the yard off to the left of the picture above. We plan on getting rid of those ugly, boxy bushes and extending our patio all the way to the edge of the house over there – we’ll get some sort of pergola for the area for some shade, and we will probably spend 90% of our time out there when the weather is nice. I can’t wait!

If you walk over to the left side of the house, you can see the little flower bed that was left over from the previous owners.

It’s hard to get a good photo of it because of all the shade, but it’s a really pretty little area (which is lucky, considering we have no idea how to take care of it). We have some giant bushes that hang over the fence from the front yard (which we probably need to trim), a small tree, and a few rose bushes

We’ll have a ton of roses soon, judging by all of the little blooms you can see on the bush – I have a feeling it’s going to be absolutely beautiful!

I’m not sure what kind of bush this is, but it produces some gorgeous flowers – we clipped most of them this weekend to bring inside, but one of them bloomed the day after we clipped them. You can see the little pop of red in this photo…and if you get a little closer…

So! Pretty!

As of right now we’re just desperately hoping we can keep this little area alive and well-tended for this season, but we’re hoping by next year we will have learned enough to add a few more things to the flower bed. I’d love to have a beautiful garden over here with a ton of flowers, so I can always have fresh blooms in our house during the spring and summer!

If you turn around and look back towards the yard from the flower bed, you can see our beautiful little row of crepe myrtles – they look gorgeous during the summer.

I love that these trees are here, because on the other side of that fence is the street – it’s not a busy street at all, but there is definitely some traffic from people driving by, walking by, or riding bikes by. It’s wonderful to have a little bit of privacy from the rest of our neighborhood, and these trees end up providing a pretty good deal of shade to that side of the yard!

In the back of the yard (you can see it in the above photo), we have an old peach tree that needs to be cut down. It looks like the previous owners cut down the branches in order to try to revive it (we did some research and apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do), but it definitely didn’t work. That poor guy is donezo.

We’re sad that we’ll have to get rid of it, but we plan on using that space to add a raised vegetable garden (hopefully next summer), so I think it’ll be worth it in the end!

Just so you can orient yourself in the yard, if you turn around from where the above photo was taken, this is what you’ll see:

Yeesh – our house is in desperate need of a paint job, isn’t it? I hate that awful peachy color, and the blue trim just about kills me. I cannot wait until we can re-paint the house and actually have a pretty view from the back! And, so you can orient yourself to what we’re looking at in the house, that giant window at the corner is in our dining room, and the little window to the left of the door is over the kitchen sink. The bay window is in the breakfast nook, and the window you can see on the second story is the window in our guest room.

And then, finally, if you turn left from the above photo, you’ll see the rest of the yard – which is where our absolutely amazing workshop is.

The above photo is the back of the workshop, along with a little baby tree that will hopefully provide some added shade to the yard in a few years!

If you walk around to the front of the workshop, you can see our rain barrel that we haven’t ever actually used because we can’t quite figure out what we’ll use the water for. If we had an actual garden, it would be perfect for watering plants, but since we don’t the water is just hanging out in there for now.

And, of course, the other side of the house is totally boring – just an air conditioner and the gate leading back to the front of the house..

And that’s what our back yard looks like! Corey and I have been having a blast lately hanging out in the yard with the dogs (they love to run laps around the workshop chasing each other) and we can’t wait until we’re able to do some work out here to make it an even more comfortable place to hang out. This is the first home I’ve ever lived in that actually has grass and not just rocks and stickers, so it is one of my favorite things in the world to just run around outside with no shoes on and chase the dogs. I swear, I turn into an eight year old when I go out into the yard.

Another favorite thing about our yard? The flowers! As soon as Corey and I saw that our rose bushes were blooming this weekend, we grabbed the bud vases sitting on our mantle and ran outside to fill ‘em up. And now my living room is looking a lot more cheerful.

Drool. I absolutely adore fresh flowers and these are particularly beautiful (probably because I feel responsible for them since they came from my yard)! I am so completely in love with the flowers from our little garden, and it really motivates me to learn more about gardening so I can have even more!

Isn’t that rose amazing? I hope the rest of the blooms on our bush turn out just as beautiful!

What is your backyard like? Do you have any flowers growing? Any tips on how to make sure our flowers don’t die on us? Or – better yet, anyone know what the red flowers are? Corey and I are stumped!

 

Exploring

Y’all are going to laugh at me for this one, but up until spring break a couple of weeks ago (you know, a good seven months after we moved here) I had never really taken the time to look around at what our neighborhood has to offer.

Crazy, right? But to me, it wasn’t a huge deal – we know the neighborhood fairly well since my sister has lived here for years, and we know we like the area, so there wasn’t much debate about whether or not we would like the neighborhood when we were in the process of buying the house. And once we got here things became so crazy with work, doing stuff to the house, and enjoying being back in Austin that we just never took the time to wander around the neighborhood and get to know it better.

But over spring break, we decided it was high time we fix that. I knew there was a park down the street from us, but since we don’t have kids we haven’t ever had much of a reason to go down there, so I hadn’t seen it yet. So, one afternoon once we got tired of sitting around on the couch watching television, we decided to round up the dogs and take them for a walk down to the park.

It would be a complete understatement to say I was blown away when I saw the park. I was picturing a small area with maybe a playscape or two and a few trees. But when we got close and saw that the park has its own road leading up to it (complete with a parking lot), I knew it was way better than anything I had imagined.


We decided to check out one of the walking paths leading into the park, and discovered a small off-leash area for dogs. We didn’t let our dogs run around because it wasn’t fenced in (and we’re totally paranoid) but it was nice to know we have the option! We continued on a little further and found a small pond with a giant, beautiful open area to run around and play.

I was completely surprised to find such a nice park, and I had no idea that anything like this existed within walking distance of our house. There were some gorgeous trees, a couple of different playscapes, and a ton of picnic tables and grilling areas.

The dogs were getting tired from all of our walking, so we decided to let them get a quick drink of water from the pond. Cullen, ever the dainty dog, sniffed at it, took a quick drink, and backed away quickly.

Ranger, on the other hand, seemed to think that “quick drink” meant “let’s go swimming.” Poor Corey almost got dragged straight into the middle of the pond.

I’m completely confident that if we hadn’t had a leash on that crazy dog he would have gone for a nice, long swim.

We spent some time relaxing in the park before heading home, and on our way back I saw a patch of bluebonnets and couldn’t resist the photo opportunity. All good Texan girls know that you can’t walk by bluebonnets without snapping a few pictures!

We had a great time at the park, and I’m so glad we decided to explore the neighborhood! I can’t believe we lived here for over half a year before we actually visited the park, and I have a feeling we’ll be taking the dogs for walks down there much more often now that we know about it. The dogs loved the opportunity to get out of the house and go for a nice walk, and I think they’ll like having a new place to visit…as long as they can come home and relax afterwards, because apparently long walks are completely exhausting.

Do you have any parks in your neighborhood? Ever lived somewhere for a long time before actually looking around?