Archive for March, 2011

March 28, 2011

Road Trip to Round Top

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

I sure hope this week flies by, because I can’t wait for Friday! Ethan and I are taking the day off and have planned a road trip to Round Top for the Spring Antiques Show!

For most of the time, Round Top is a sleepy little town between Houston & Austin with a population of just under 100. But twice a year, it becomes THE place for antique shopping in Texas. There are over 20 shows happening right now, each with hundreds of dealers (a full listing of the shows is available on the Round Top Chamber of Commerce website). So if you can carve out time for a day trip this week, I’d highly recommend it!

Ethan & I are planning to spend our day at the Marburger Farm show. They’re hosting more than 350 dealers spread out over 43 acres, so I think that will be plenty to keep us busy!

And what’s even more exciting is that I’m registered as a VIB (Very Important Blogger), complete with press badges & free admission. Doesn’t that sound official? Oh, the perks of blogging! Stay tuned for updates & (hopefully) some fun finds!

Image via Marburger Farm website.

March 23, 2011

Hoping for a Harvest

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

I’m so excited to be typing this from my brand new desk! It’s assembled and in the office, but this room is a complete disaster. So I’m going to hold you in suspense for just a little while longer. In the meantime, here’s a detailed look at what’s growing in the new garden!

Last weekend (after finishing the fence) we planted our seedlings in the raised beds.  Most of them are starting to take root and sprout new leaves, a few aren’t looking so hot, and a couple are actually missing (I blame the squirrels). But as I watch them grow, I’m beginning to hope for a bountiful harvest this summer!

Here’s what we planted…

  1. Mortgage Lifter (Heirloom) Tomatoes – Beefsteak varieties that grow to 1-2 pounds!
  2. Big Rainbow (Heirloom) Tomatoes – because they look cool
  3. Cherokee Purple (Heirloom) Tomatoes – because they look even cooler (this is definitely kid food)
  4. Supersweet 100 (Cherry) Tomatoes – Ethan swears by these…says they’re like candy
  5. Poblano Peppers
  6. Serrano Chile Peppers – we make a lot of Mexican food!
  7. Strawberries – The Chef Jeff variety claims to be “Everybearing.” I’ll be happy if we get a pint’s worth!
  8. Okra – gumbo anyone?
  9. Yellow Squash
  10. Basil – pesto, yum!
  11. Thyme
  12. Parsley
  13. Cilantro – more Mexican food
  14. Mint

And a tomato seedling….for good measure. There’s also a pathetic rosemary plant that’s somehow survived for the last couple of years, despite my neglect.

Let me just be honest. I’m a novice gardener. I’ve grown herbs in pots (thanks to an Easter gift from the in-laws a few years ago), but I’ve never grown vegetables before. Ethan’s family had a vegetable garden when he was growing up, but that’s been a while. So we have no idea what the yield is on each plant & will probably have tomatoes coming out of our ears!

Is anyone else gardening? It seems like tomatoes are the popular choice for Houston, especially since  you can grow them in containers. I’d love to know if anyone else has taken the plunge!

March 21, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

I spent all day waiting for a furniture delivery, and the suspense almost killed me! Every time I heard a diesel engine barreling down the street, I had to run to the window to make sure it wasn’t the truck bound for my house. Mind you, we’re in Texas. Every other truck that passes my house sounds like a big ole moving truck. I was about 6 inches from losing my mind.

But finally – it’s here!! The first piece of furniture to making a more functional home office. A desk!

Ok, it’s nothing too exciting right now. We have to assemble it – basically just attach the legs. But that sucker is heavy and I’m not going to try it alone! I need a good strong man to help me. :)

Anyway, here’s the background story on this guy….

About a year ago, when we were still in an apartment, day-dreaming of the furniture we’d one day buy, Ethan and I ran across this desk at our local Restoration Hardware.

{via Restoration Hardware}

It has a weathered wood top on a steel frame with casters – very industrial, which is not necessarily my style. But it definitely has a “we found this in the back of a dusty antique shop” look, which is exactly the thing I love! We were both hooked. But at that time, we shared an 800 square foot space that was packed to the brim with hand-me-down furniture. And I refused to buy anything for an apartment, knowing that I’d probably regret it when we one day moved into a house.

So imagine my excitement when I ran across this guy on The Foundary last month. And for half the price of the Restoration Hardware version!!

{via The Foundary}

So I immediately emailed the link to Ethan & gave him a call. Being the logical, straight-laced guy he is, he ran through a list of questions. How much? Will it fit into our budget? What’s the return policy? Will it fit up the stairs? I answered them all very (im)patiently. Then asked my one question – “But Ethan. Do we want it??”

Here’s the deal with The Foundary. They have different sales each day, with limited quantities available of each item. So if you want something, you have to commit right then & there before it sells out. There’s no going back next week once you’ve had time to sleep on it & make up your mind (which is my typical method on furniture purchases for myself). So we made the decision, bought the desk and scheduled delivery for today!

I’m so excited it’s here & can’t wait to put it together! More pics to come when we get it assembled & into the office!

March 20, 2011

All Fenced In

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Finally, our garden is “Abby-proof!” I know she’s loved playing in the dirt all week (everyday we’ve found big holes filled with her toys), but that wasn’t going to bode well for our seedlings, so we built a nice little fence. I’m pretty happy with the results – it’s functional and charming!

Before we started, I assumed it would be another learn-as-you-go project, but apparently Ethan has some fence-building experience under his belt! So naturally, he took the lead and I happily played the role of his assistant.

We borrowed a post hole digger from my parents & Ethan did the hard, manual labor of digging through our clay-like soil. I’m amazed at how hard & thick the ground is here in Houston!

After digging four 24″ deep holes (one for each 4×4 fence post), we set them with quick-drying concrete. We used one 80 lb. bag for each fence post. That may sound like a lot, but the bags are pretty small – they just weigh a ton!

The best place to mix concrete was in our newly purchased wheelbarrow (we needed something to move all that dirt!) We found the quick-drying concrete to be super easy – just add water and mix. But you have to move fast – there’s good reason they call it “Quikrete.” We only mixed one bag at a time to avoid a wheelbarrow full of set (hard) concrete, and rinsed our tools after each mix. (They’re just as functional covered in a thin layer of concrete, but who really wants that?)

After mixing, Ethan shoveled concrete into the hole while I moved the post around to work it in. Every 6-9″ of depth, we checked that the post was level & repositioned it as needed. Once the hole was filled to the top, we knew there wouldn’t much wiggle room, so intermittent adjustments were key!

Once we had the two end posts set, Ethan tied a string between them to ensure the two middle posts would be in line. This seemed like a genius idea to me. The last thing I wanted was a crooked fence! How does he know these things?? (In case you’re wondering, I asked. His response? “This is how you build a fence.” Ok boss.)

So we cemented two more posts in the ground and let them set overnight. Piece of cake – bring on the fence panels!

We chose to use pre-fabricated fence panels for two reasons. One – I liked the look of the gothic pickets (apparently I’m on a gothic kick – remember my chairs?) Reason #2 – We figured pre-fab panels would make the fence-building proces faster & easier.

In theory, that should have been the case. However, we didn’t take into account that our standards of “level” and “square” would be considerably higher than those of the people who built the panels. What can I say? Ethan and I are both perfectionists when it comes to this sort of thing. But we got over it and got to work.

We cut both fence panels down to size (and held onto the extras for our gate), got them as level as possible, and screwed the panels into our very level posts. So far so good!

Now for building that gate. Since the pickets were attached to pieces of 2×3 pine, we constructed the frame of our gate from the same size wood. Ethan built the box with the help of some metal L-brackets and added a cross-member for support. Then we took the leftover pickets from our trimmed-down panels and evenly spaced them on the gate frame. They’re don’t match the panels perfectly, but it’s pretty darn close.

Finally, we hung the gate with a couple of fence hinges, slapped on the closure hardware, and voila – a fenced in garden!

The last thing we had to do was trim down those incredibly tall fence posts (you didn’t really think they were staying, did you?) Ethan & I discussed cutting them before they went in the ground, but decided cutting was the best way to make sure all 4 posts were the same height. We didn’t have the right saw to cut the two far posts, but we’ll take care of it real soon.

So here’s our completed garden – what do you think?

One last thing. I’m thinking the fence needs to be painted (white? black? charcoal grey?) or stained (if it will take evenly to the wood) to give the whole thing a finished look. That’s in addition to planting beds (in the distant future) to soften up the fence.

Any thoughts? Paint, stain, or leave it alone?

March 10, 2011

A Weekend Gardening Project…

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

…that took 13 days to complete. I’m not even calling it finished at this point. But I’m deeming it “close enough.”

Here’s the deal – we wanted a vegetable garden. Not to be all healthy and organic, or even to save money, but just because we thought it would be fun to grow something we could eat. The beds are built, seeds are growing in our kitchen window, and we’re still enjoying the work. So far, so good.

The plan was to designate the area behind our garage for a couple of raised beds. And since Abby LOVES to dig, we’re going to protect it with a 4′ high fence. She also loves to get in the middle of things, so she’s been staked off in the yard for most of our working hours. Needless to say, she’s been less than thrilled.

Now for building those raised beds. Ready for the play-by-play?


We made a trip to Lowe’s for supplies (pressure treated wood, deck screws & some Round Up). Ethan had to run to a meeting, so I got started measuring off the area for the two 12′ x 5′ beds. The entire area is 17′ wide by 22′ deep and we wanted to (roughly) center them in the space. I cut in the border of each 12′ x 5′ box with a shovel & pulled up about 3″ of grass with a hoe. It was harder work & took a lot longer than expected!

Once the beds were marked off, I sprayed the areas with Round Up to kill off the grass. It seemed like a better idea to get rid of the grass now, than chance it growing up through the garden in a few months. Here’s the after picture – if you squint & use your imagination, you can kind of make out the two beds.

The Round Up package said it should work in 6 hours, but we gave it a full 24. It looks like I missed a few spots, but all-in-all, the grass-killing mission seemed to be a success.


The next task – getting rid of dead grass/roots & building boxes. If you’re dying to know all the construction details, we loosely followed this tutorial by This Old House. We were much more thorough in the grass-killing efforts. We used 2×12 pressure-treated pine for the sides & 2×4 pressure-treated pine pieces for the stakes. (This Old House calls for cedar, but pressure-treated pine is cheaper & more readily available.)

After building one box, we were completely exhausted. (Have you ever driven stakes into the ground? Tough stuff. I left that to Ethan.) Plus it was starting to rain (a really good excuse to call it a day!) Here’s the “after” photo of a weekend of hard, physical labor. We were pretty proud!


This was the day six yards of dirt were delivered to our driveway. Moving dirt = hard work. I’m just saying.


Ethan came home from work on Day 4 and got busy. He lined the box we’d already built with bed liner (to keep out weeds & any stray grass) & started filling it with a few wheelbarrows of dirt. But the next day while we were away, Abby decided to “help.” She dug through the dirt, tore the liner to shreds & scattered the pieces throughout the yard. I’m sure it was just payback for staking her in the yard.


It’s Saturday morning & we’re ready to tackle this project again. We put down a new bed liner & packed that box with dirt. Here it is fully filled & as puppy-proof as possible…until we construct a fence (this weekend’s big project!)

After that, we built box #2. Amazing how much faster we moved on this one, since we’d worked out all the kinks on box #1! Kind of makes me want to build #3 (just kidding).


We’re both pretty tired of this project dragging on, so we tackled it head-on last night. Please pardon our mess. We were losing daylight & knew we needed to get this box lined & FULLY filled with dirt. We had no intention of making the same mistake twice!


That’s as much dirt as we could manage last night before it got dark. But box #2 was puppy proof in our absence today & that’s all I could hope for! Ethan finished filling it this evening just before the sun went down (hence, no photos).

I’m sure you’re wondering about the stakes + tennis ball. We were trying to plan out the fence & gate opening (don’t worry, that’s not the final location). Ethan picked up the post hole digger from Mom & Dad’s place today & we bought supplies this evening. So get excited – we’re building a fence this weekend!

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