Little Human’s Corner

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Sorry Swayze, we put baby in the corner. For the first few months at least, we’re going to have little human in our bedroom by my side of the bed. Eventually the operation will move to the nursery, but for now we’re all going to be roommies. I wanted to keep our bedroom clean and bright while bringing in some baby things that felt cozy and still allowed the room to work for all of us. Jack has already decided the floor pillow is his. I’m such a sucker.

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To add storage, we brought in a dresser and added a changing mat on top. We mounted a tv and have wireless headphones for watching without disturbing little love. We’ve never had a tv in the bedroom, but I’m liking it. Watching the news in bed with a matcha latte in the morning is something I never knew I was missing out on until now. In the corner we put up a tiered woven hanging basket to hold bibs, coconut oil and other little necessities. Below that is an essential oil diffuser and night light. Right now I like to keep our room smelling like either lavender or eucalyptus since they are both calming scents.

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The top dresser drawer below the changing mat is devoted to little human’s things. It has changing supplies, onesies, jammies, socks, tiny booties and mittens. The feetie pajamas always get me. That, and anything with ears.

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For diapering, we’re trying out a trial of the popular compostable service offered in the Bay Area called Eco Naty that picks up soiled diapers from your doorstep and converts them into topsoil in 14 days, while also dropping off a new supply of diapers. Going into this, I thought any old biodegradable diaper was the way to go, but learned that unless you’re composting them yourself they actually have to go into the city trash bin (rather than the green city compost bin) because it’s human waste. Meaning, they go to the landfill like every other diaper and sit there. Granted the materials used are more natural and likely decompose at a faster rate, but, why buy biodegradable diapers if they aren’t going to be composted and biodegrade? Using less plastic while still having the convenience factor of a disposable is optimal for us. I’ll report back on how it goes. For wipes we’re using Water Wipes. They are made from 99.9% water, and .01% grapefruit seed extract. We went with this diaper pail and keep it next to the trash can in the kitchen.

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I can’t say enough how much I love the wooden mini crib. It’s so pretty and I love that it rocks. Trey says he’s going to rig up something with the Arduino to make it rock on it’s own. I love his Honey I Shrunk The Kids ideas. He does this thing where I have something that breaks and he rushes to fix it, or I have a crazy idea and he comes up with a solution, then presents it to me saying (in my voice) “My Hero!”. I love him, I love him, I love him.

We also have a Snuggle Me for co-sleeping, though I’m not sure we’ll use it for sleeping at night since the dogs tend to sleep with us. We’ve been experimenting with shutting them out of the bedroom, but that doesn’t really work since they both know how to open doors. By morning they are both in the crooks of our legs. I tried putting a door wedge in the door (see photo below), but Keeper will try with all her might to open the door even with it in there…which can be loud. So yeah, we’ve created monsters. Don’t teach your dogs to open doors. Anyway, we’ll likely use the Snuggle Me nest during the day for naps on the couch since the bedroom gets really sunny in the afternoons and likely will be too bright for napping.

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We made the wooden mobile above the crib using dowel rods, heavy duty fishing line, and different wooden shapes. I love how it turned out. When we have the windows open the breeze makes it spin in a slow, mesmerizing way.

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The little patchwork pillow I made from scrap fabric I had laying around. The mini Jack and Keep toys are a favorite for obvious reasons. Beside the mini crib is a basket with cotton swaddles and extra mini crib sheets.

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(Jack’s new friend)

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The little rocker chair is another piece I really love. It’s lightweight, making it easy for a little human to bounce themselves once they get to that arm and leg-flailing stage. I also like that you can move it from room to room. The rug we’ve had for a few years and just adds a little more comfort for tummy time shenanigans.

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As for toys, we don’t have many at the moment. I have some in mind for Christmas. At this early of a stage though, simple rattles and shakers (and making funny faces) will do. Trey also brought home this little black and white dog lovie that I think is really cute!

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I’m happy with how everything is coming together. With 9 days until my due date, it’s nice to cross “little human’s corner” off the list. We’re getting close. When I dropped Trey at the train this morning he told me “don’t go into labor, I need to rearrange the basement!” Like OK, I’ll try not to…!

38 weeks

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We’re just two weeks away from meeting the little human that’s been judo chopping my rib cage these last 9 months and we’re so stoked. It’s been a long time coming and for the day to almost be here is a pretty cool feeling. I keep getting asked the question “are you ready?”. I think we’re ready. As ready as you can be. I feel great. I’m still swimming and doing everything I normally do. A woman stopped me on the stairs the other day and was like “Girl, take the elevator!”. Another person asked why I was out so close to my due date, as if I’m supposed to stay inside. I think movies portray pregnant women going into labor very differently than how it happens in real life so people have this idea of a woman’s water breaking and then this mad dash to get to the hospital. I could only be so lucky. Likely it will be a marathon.

We put the finishing touches on little human’s space this weekend. It’s just a corner of our bedroom right now. I will share that here later this week. We picked up a rocking chair this past weekend, which was one of the last things on our list we needed to get done. We took the truck to go pick up the chair even though the registration is out of date, so on the way we were coming up with ways we’d talk our way out of a ticket if we got pulled over. We came to the conclusion the most effective way would be for me to hold my belly and say I was in active labor. SORRY OFFICER. NO TIME TO TALK! Luckily we didn’t have to pull that trick out of the bag and made it home without being pulled over.

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We’ve been spending time at the beach and river with the dogs a lot lately. I’m sure they have an idea about what’s coming, they’re smart dogs. The other day I was doing these breathing exercises my doula recommended and Keeper ran in the room and started howling to alert the neighborhood. False alarm, Keep!

Trey is really excited to be a dad. It’s really great to see. He told me yesterday that he thinks people might think he stole a baby if he’s out alone with little human. “What is that guy doing with a baby?”, as if he doesn’t look the part. I thought that was funny. I think this kid is really lucky to have him as a dad.

Over these last 9 months we’ve sat on the floor of a yoga studio in San Francisco on bolster pillows learning about newborn care, swaddled and diapered infant-sized dolls with other parents to be, laughed our way through awkward birth positions at birth classes, watched detailed videos through our fingers, and read the tried and true books on babies. Now we just wait, armed and ready with little knit hats with ears ready to put on a sweet babe’s head!

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Well that, and we should probably install the car seat and pack a hospital bag.

Little Human: On the Go

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Shopping for baby gear has been a lot of fun. Cue a dorky montage of us trying out baby carriers with Mila cat in them, test driving strollers as if they were BMX bikes through department stores, strapping Jack into the car seat to test the weight limit, texting each other funny reviews on products, holding up little fleece-y winter coats with ears to show each other from across the store just how cute it is(!), etc etc etc. There are a ton of options out there for baby products and choosing the right ones takes a little bit of time, but we had fun with it.

Since our lifestyle is a mix of city and outdoors, we decided to look for versatile products that would work in both settings. We made a list of things we consider essentials and focused on those. At going on 37 weeks, I can say we’re just about ready gear-wise. Of course, who knows. Every kid is different and requires/prefers different things. We’ll see how it goes. Here are the products we plan on using while out and about with our little human…

For on the go:
 
A Nuna Pipa car seat, for getting there.

A City Mini GT stroller – compact enough for busy San Francisco streets and all-terrain enough for trails through the redwoods.

A baby carrier – this outdoorsy Bjorn for Trey, and this tan Solly Baby wrap for me.

This diaper bag , to store essentials like diapers, wipes, milk, an extra onesie, etc.

This travel changing mat, for changes on the fly.

 
More Little Human series, here.

Baton Class, 1992

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There I was, 6 years old standing shoulder to shoulder among a row of girls stretched across the half court line of an elementary school basketball court. It was early summer 1992 and I waited on my mark, baton in hand, sparkly leotard on, large bouffant hair bow on the top of my head. The music came on, signaling the start of the routine to C&C Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now). The instructor motioned for us to begin and we started walking towards her, twirling our batons to the music.

And just like that I was transported to another place.

I wasn’t twirling a shiny baton with ribboned ends in a stifling hot gymnasium among a group of female peers. I was warding off bad guys in some back ally with my bow staff like my rat sensei had taught me as Donatello, the purple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As the other girls proceeded in synchronized fashion to the other end of the court, I fell behind, voluntarily, too entranced in my own personal ninja pursuits. The music stopped and one by one the trophies were handed out to everyone in the class who completed the routine. If you received a trophy, you were pretty much guaranteed to be a shoo-in for the small town’s 4th of July parade (dream big). The instructor thanked everyone for coming and I made my way over to my mom on the side lines without a trophy. I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t need some trophy to tell me how awesome I was at twirling a stick. My mother (a baton veteran herself) on the other hand, was fuming. She approached the instructor and insisted I be able to try again so I could get a trophy just like all the other little girls in the class and qualify for the town’s parade. The instructor obliged and rewinded the tape as I reluctantly took my mark in the middle of the gymnasium, alone this time. From the sidelines my mother pointed to her mouth, gesturing for me to “smile!” with accompanying jazz hands. The other girls and their mothers sat criss-crossed on the sidelines with their trophies, staring back at me. The instructor pressed play on the tape, cueing the start of the routine, and I, Donatello, stood frozen alone on the court for 30 seconds before finally returning to my mission of fending off bad guys and restoring peace to the city with blunt, swift swipes of my bow staff. I went home without a trophy that day and never made it to the parade.

It’s funny, when you’re about to have a kid of your own, you start thinking about what you and your partner were like as kids and compare stories. Trey has a good one about him playing the Wham Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go instrumental preset on the family keyboard while “porky piggin” it (wearing a shirt and nothing else). I try not to have any expectations for our little human, but sometimes I secretly hope we have a free spirited Donatello or Wham nudie on our hands.

Illustration by Trey.

Things for a little human

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We live in a little house. One bedroom, one bathroom, nil closet space. Technically there is a bedroom and bathroom downstairs, but it’s separate from the house and is more of a basement/something you’d expect to tunnel you through to the Upside Down in Stranger Things than actually want to spend much time in. Space in and around San Francisco is limited, and our house is no exception. All in all, we live in about 700 sqft. The back yard is spacious with trees and a creek and greenhouse – the house is tiny. I think that’s actually what the Craigslist ad said when we were moving in. I like to joke to Trey “I’ll be in my office” and then go work in the greenhouse (or now – the sunroom). We like living relatively minimal. We just bought a portable air conditioner for the house after living without one (it stays pretty cool on the coast) for the 7 years we’ve lived in California. We also recently just got a microwave and toaster, and this is the first place in California we’ve lived that has a dishwasher, washer/dryer, yard, and drive way of its own!

When we first moved to San Francisco, I met a mother and filmmaker at a park near our apartment in the Mission. Her little 15 month old son, Dari, loved our new puppy, Jack. Over time, we got along so well that I became a caretaker for Dari in the afternoons for a few years while she and her partner (a sound engineer) worked on a documentary film that eventually won the SF Film festival. They lived minimally in a walk up loft-style apartment in a building that was once a bustling bread factory in the 60s. I’d ride my bike to their place after work and pick up Dari, pop him in the Bjorn, and off we’d walk to get eggs from a friend with chickens in the outer Mission, pointing out all the doggies along the way. Before I moved away to San Diego for graduate school, Dari’s dad was in the process of building him a little wooden boat bed, similar to the old boat he was fixing up across the bay in the Sausalito harbor. I was really inspired by them and the way they lived.

Since our house is small tiny and without a single closet, we are selective and conscious of what we bring into it. With a little one, we know we’re bound to amass a lot as we go along, so we’re sticking to our minimalist ways as much as we can by being mindful about the things we purchase, repurposing things we already have, and coming up with creative solutions to other things by building them ourselves (the perks of having an engineer partner – he’s always down to diy).

For the first few months, little human will be sleeping in our room. We are putting together a ‘nursery’, but at first it will just be a small corner of our bedroom. I found a wooden mini-crib on Craigslist (above) that I love, and we’re slowly checking off the essentials we’ll need – everything from bathing to feeding, to feetie pajamas. In doing so, a few items have caught my eye. Of course all of these aren’t essentials, nor are they all the essentials one would need, by any means. We’re still researching items like a car seat, stroller, etc to choose the right products that will fit our lifestyle.

For now, here are a handful of things I’ve come across and liked so far:

1. Mabo organic cotton pajamas. I like this clothing line’s cotton basics. The cotton tops and striped bottoms are my favorites. I picked up a pair of their little spotted pajamas at the West Coast Craft fair a few weeks back and they are really soft. I’m finding there are lots of awesome independent and local brands of children’s clothing that I really like. I’m also a fan of hand me downs and vintage consignment.

2. Mason bottles, along with a couple life factory ones that were gifted to us. I’m really intrigued by the mason bottles as the silicone tops work with most small-to-medium sized mason jars, which are an alternative to plastic for storing milk.

3. Land of Nod Olin mini crib. We’ll be using this beside our bed for the first few months. They don’t make them anymore, but we got lucky and found someone looking to part ways with one on Craigslist.

4. Douglas border collie + blue heeler soft toys, similar to Jack and Keep!

5. Jenny Pennywood swaddling blanket. I’m a fan of everything local San Francisco artist Jen Garrido does. The hand-dyed textiles she makes under the moniker “Jenny Pennywood” are my favorite. When I saw she came out with a line of swaddling blankets, I had to have one! Other soft muslins like these have been gifted to us and I really like them too.

6. Bandanas for bibs. We have so many soft, worn-in cotton bandanas around that just need to be washed. I’ve been collecting them for years.

7. A few comfy floor pillows for the dogs to lay on for playing on the floor.

8. A wooden peace sign teether. Wood will be gentle on gums, while also being plastic-free.  

9. A moses basket. Good for placing baby in when I want to take a shower, clip herbs in the greenhouse, or air drum that sweet solo in the middle of In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins and need my hands free. I really like this pretty basket too, but haven’t been able to bring myself to buy one. I like that the baskets can be reused later for holding toys, books, etc.

10. Natursutten rubber pacifiers. I saw these classic pacifiers a lot in Italy and France when we went a while back, and now I’ve been noticing them everywhere here. Not only are they adorable, they are made from sustainably harvested rubber trees and are completely biodegradable.


More Little Human series can be found here.

Hello Third Trimester

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It’s hard to believe month 7 is already here. Little human is getting big. The size of an eggplant, according to the app on my phone. Just about 15 inches and over 2 lbs. That’s a big eggplant. More like a coho salmon! If I watch closely, I can now see little kicks from the outside. Not quite the scene from Alien, but we’re getting there. Trey took some photos the other day of me with the dogs and Mila and the little human in my belly. I think I might get some of them framed for the nursery.

Our nursery is really the dining room, haha. Our house is about 700 sqft, tiny! We got this wood mini crib that I love and can’t wait to use. We built some bookshelves a few weekends ago. Trey brought home this rainbow sloth stuffed animal and every night when Jack and Keeper come in from outside they go and check on it in the crib. They think it’s theirs. Keep’s got sloth stealer eyes.

I finally caved and bought a pair of Topshop maternity jeans and they are so comfy. I’m definitely wearing these as pizza pants post-pregnancy (pants you wear to eat too much pizza in). Most of my pants have been relegated to the bottom drawer unless they have some stretch to them. I was wearing overalls, but kept having to ask myself before leaving the house – how many undone side buttons are too many undone side buttons? I’m really digging boyfriend jeans at the moment (literally, Trey’s jeans), with my same shirts and comfortable shoes like vans. I think preggo bellies are cool looking. When else am I going to have this Homer Simpson gut peeking out from under my t-shirt? I’m into it.

This Saturday I start an Aqua Zumba class which I’m pretty excited about. I had convinced Trey to go with me until he found out it was latin water dancing. I happen to think he’d make a really beautiful water dancer. A friend told me about water aerobics and I’ve been looking for a class around me for that too. I lap swim most days if I’m not going a class. Swimming in liquid while the baby in my belly swims in liquid…meta! I like being pregnant during the summer because there are so many aquatic exercise options around. And there’s nothing better than throwing on a dress and slides and letting your hair air dry afterwards.

So, after not passing the 1-hour glucose test and having to go back the next day for the 3-hour test, I ended up passing the second time and being told I was negative for gestational diabetes, whew! I do have to watch my sugar intake though – my body really didn’t like having that much glucose put in it. The week before, I had a kidney stone (ouch) and kidney infection (double ouch) which put me on antibiotics for 10 days. The combination of the glucose and the antibiotics kinda threw my body for a loop. But then I went in for an ultrasound of my kidneys (normal) and got to spend 10 minutes taking a peek at little human with the ultrasound technician and…cheeks! A nose! Little hands and feet with tiny fingers and toes! Then we went in for an ultrasound with my OB a couple days later and got to have another look and everything is measuring and looking perfect. It’s really cool to see the development. Apparently little human can hear us in there now – so we’ve been making sure to play lots of New Order and Pixies to get this one ready for life on the outside.

Other than that, everything has been pretty chill and easy going. Now we’re just spending the next 2.7 months (not that we’re counting or anything) relaxing and getting prepared to meet this little turkey. I’m hoping this last trimester goes smoothly. We’re meeting with a doula next week to help us navigate the coming months. Lots to do, but feelin’ good about it!

Little Human Finds

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I’m currently sitting in the wait room to get my blood drawn. Having failed the 1 hour glucose tolerance test, I am now back for the 3 hour test which requires 4 blood draws (one when you come in, then one every hour after drinking a sugary orange drink). I was told I was REQUIRED to eat a PB&J with milk at 10pm last night, so you know… I gladly laid on that grenade. Then to eat nothing else until lunch (after the test). I’m thinking it’s a burrito kind of day.

Anyway, I’ve been going to the local vintage/consignment shops around here that carry kids items. San Francisco has some great ones, as does Oakland and Berkeley. I love looking for different patterns and colors and soft fabrics. I take them home, give them a good wash with gentle detergent, and put them in the dresser for later.

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They grow out of everything so quickly (and pee/poop/puke), so it’s nice to find things that are only $2 or $3 a piece. I don’t really bother with the overtly boyish or girly clothing. I love a girl in navy and a boy in blush. Trey’s mom is sending us a box of hand me downs he and his siblings wore as babies. I can’t wait! Jack models an eggplant hat. He’s my favorite eggplant.

If you’re local, here are the places I’ve found good stuff at so far:

San Francisco:
Monkei Miles (Sunset)- My favorite consignment shop in San Francisco. The owner has a great eye and only takes in the best items.
Chloe’s Closet (Bernal)- Really good place for stocking up on gently used baby clothing essentials (bodysuits, leggings, jackets, etc).
Over the Ocean (Online) – Started by a European mama who now lives in SF and brought European brands to the states. I love the awesome pre-loved section on their site with often has some vintage items by European brands, but they sell out fast so subscribe to the email list!
Handsome Oxford (Tenderloin) – Small hole in the wall (best kinda place)…I’ve only been once and they had a few really great vintage baby/kids items tucked in the corner.

Oakland:
Ruby’s Garden (Temescal) – A good mix of new items, consignment, and a small vintage section in the back.
Minds Eye Vintage (Temescal) – Small selection of vintage kids items, usually toddler age and up. They typically have a great selection of vintage denim jackets and overalls for littles!
Child’s Play (Rockridge) – Great place to score good quality consignment children’s clothing and toys. The owner is incredibly nice and helpful.

Berkeley:
Chloe’s Closet (Solano Ave near Albany) – not as good as the Bernal location in SF, but I’ve found some good things here.

DIY – Experimenting with Natural Dyes

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I guess you could call this the modern equivalent of knitting your little human-to-be a sweater. I had been interested in experimenting with natural dyes for a while, and this gave me a sweet reason to do it. Hand dyeing is fun – if you remember, we shibori-dyed a sheet in indigo a few years ago and still use it as a back seat cover for the dogs to lay on in Lola, our land cruiser. I decided to test out some new dyes, this time using avocado skins and tea on some tiny onesies for little human. The result turned out to be the softest shades of tan and pink.

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When you think of avocados, the color pink probably doesn’t come to mind. But sure enough, if you boil the skins and pits down it creates a pink dye. Neat, huh?

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Next, I tried tea.

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The sweetest neutral shades came from the dyes…

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Perfect with a pair of mini blue jeans and converse.

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I love how soft the colors turned out on the onesies. I wanted light colors so I just did a quick dip (2 mins). The longer you soak the fabric, the darker the colors will be. I’m interested in trying out natural dyes from other fruits and vegetables next like beets and strawberries, coffee, and even onion skins!

Natural Dyeing
Here’s what you’ll need:
Tea:
Package of tea (at least 30 bags)
Large pot
Stirring utensil
Fabric

Avocados:
3 avocados (4 if using smaller ones)
Large pot
Stirring utensil
Fabric

Here’s how:
Presoaking fabric
Soak a natural fiber fabric like cotton or linen in warm water to rinse off anything on the fabric. You will add the wet pre-soaked fabric to your prepared dye.

Preparing the dye:
For using tea, I steeped 30 Trader Joes English breakfast tea bags by tying them to a wooden spoon and placing it horizontal across the rim of the pot so the bags would hang in. For using avocados, I added the skins and pits of 4 small/medium avocados. For both you will need enough water in the pot to create enough dye for the fabric to be completely submerged. Bring water and tea/fruit to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Soaking the fabric:
Add the presoaked fabric to the dye. The darker you want the color, the longer the fabric should stay in the dye. For lighter colors, anywhere from 1-5 minutes will produce a pale shade. For a brighter, deeper color, try soaking the fabric anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours.

If you want deep colors, it’s best to use a mordant. A mordant will help natural dyes adhere to the fibers, keeping the colors locked in. You don’t have to use one, but if you don’t you’ll need to have them in the dye for longer to really let the fabric absorb the color and know that a lot of the color will likely wash out and fade over time. A good mordant to use is alum and can be added directly to the dye bath.

After you’ve reached the color you want, remove the fabric from the dye and put in a bowl of cool water with a little bit of dish soap and gently wash with your hands. Ring out well, or put in the washer for a drain/spin cycle and let air dry.

Unrelated:

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A little greenhouse

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I’m thrilled to be starting a new greenhouse series here on Wildlandia. When I saw the listing for this house, I thought it was cool that it came with a gardening space. Kind of a fun story, our land lord is this really tall, happy Danish guy who lives up in the hills and fixes up old Italian sports cars. When I called about the listing, we ended up talking for twenty minutes about all kinds of things – gardening being one of them. We all met up and did a walk through, then a few days later went out for margaritas and nachos with him and his girlfriend to sign the lease. He’s been over a few times since then and brought us a tomato plant for the greenhouse that’s currently living in my sink. I’m excited to garden and get creative here. The couple who lived here before us really let the place go, so we’ve been rolling up our sleeves and tackling cool projects like pulling back ivy-covered walkways and finding all kinds of hidden treasures underneath.

I’ve never had a greenhouse. Up until now I’ve mostly had succulents because they are so easy to care for and can go long periods of time requiring little attention. Succulents are like the cats of plants. Or, the Mila cat of plants at least. I had this really great fiddle leaf fig tree once, but Keeper destroyed it as a puppy back when she was an uncivilized little punk (ok she still pretty much is. go girl, do it to it). This past weekend we washed the greenhouse inside and out, got all the spider webs out, and shoveled out the old, smelly, dry soil that was left behind in the planters.  Now we have two raised beds that I plan on planting veggies in, and lots of wooden shelves/sills to grow flowers in. A couple weeks ago I planted some seeds and so far I’ve had rainbow chard, spinach, and heirloom tomatoes start sprouting. It’s so fun to wake up and walk outside to the greenhouse to see what has grown overnight. My grandma used to grow the prettiest flowers in her backyard. I always remember it being such a peaceful place. I hope I can recreate that feeling with my space here.

Here are some before photos…

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At the hardware store the other day I picked up a quart of paint for the door to the greenhouse. I went with a color I’ve wanted to use on something for a while and love how it turned out. There’s something about finding the perfect color. I think it’s called synesthesia, where you think and feel in colors. I’ve always loved thinking in that way. This color was called “abyss” and it makes my brain happy.

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Herbs and veg and flowers here we come! I’m going to get a speaker to play music in there and look for a cool vintage stool to add inside too. One with a wooden seat and antiqued metal legs. And a little rug for any garden buddies that decide to join in.  Jack’s in it for the carrots. They’re his favorite. I already planted some for him. More to come!