Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Looking Forward to the 2022 Garden

When do you start thinking about gardening for the next season? It has become a tradition of mine to plan next year’s garden during the week after Christmas. Usually by this time, I have not touched dirt for a couple months. All I had were indoor plants and dried flowers:

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2022 will be our fifth planting season. When we bought this property, it was covered in poorly grown lawn and lots of weeds. Over the last four years, we planted hundreds of perennials and dozens of trees.

The backyard, 2017 summer

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The front yard, 2017

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The first two seasons on this property were devoted to establishing gardening space. In the Spring of 2018, we converted a big field of weedy lawn in our backyard to a vegetable garden. We also planted a couple perennial flower beds during Spring and Summer.

Veggie garden, 2018 summer

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Backyard perennial gardens, 2018 summer

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Front yard mailbox garden, 2018 summer

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Fruit trees and climbing roses along the back fence, 2018 summer.

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We also worked on the front yard, namely converting the northern slope into a big flower bed. It took us a couple months, and we finished just in time for Fall planting.

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We enjoyed the new planting so much that we decided to plant more perennials the next year. In the Spring of 2019, we covered a large portion of the backyard with woodchip mulch and planted hazelnut trees and raspberries here.

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We also added a small flower bed in the front yard to complete all the planting in the front yard.

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All the perennials we planted started filling in pretty well in 2020, and we were happy with the front yard planting. However, the flower beds in the backyard looked patchy, and mowing the lawn among these mulched flower beds was a pain. During the lockdown period, I came up with a good plan for this part of the yard. I first built up the soil around the shed and created a terrace garden:

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Then, I pushed the boundary of the raspberry patch further into the lawn, creating a narrow flower boarder of the entire mulched area.

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Lastly, I filled all the space left to this flower boarder with mulch, so we no longer had any lawn to maintain on the northern side of the backyard. Coming around Fall, I planted this wavy flower boarder with peonies and Russian sage, which have grown in very nicely since.

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We have yet to pave the shed patio, but the mulched garden space has been thriving.

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My second big achievement in 2020 was raising my own seedlings. First it was done as a necessity, but I soon found out that it was not as difficult as I imagined. Most importantly, raising seedlings enabled me to add more varieties of perennials and vegetables without breaking the bank.

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I again started my own seed in 2021, which resulted in the best vegetable garden I ever planted. The rest of the 2021 gardening effort went into reviving the lawn. Before winter hit, I covered the north side yard with cardboard and mulch, with the intention to plant a shade garden here in the future.

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All of our perennials have been growing like crazy in 2021. I have a feeling that our 2022 garden will be gorgeous! We will focus on maintenance and fine-tuning the flower beds in 2022, and of course raising my own seedings and planting a big vegetable garden is a must. I also ordered two new climbing vines – a passion flower and a pink clematis called “Josephine”. We had passion flower vine before and really enjoyed their big tropical looking flowers. I hope to grow it next to the mailbox so our neighbors can enjoy it too.

Although I won’t actually start seeds until April, it comforts me to having figured everything I need to do and having everything ordered. Are you also looking forward to the next season of gardening? What is your garden plan for 2022?

The Season of Joy

Merry Christmas, everyone! My wish comes a couple days late which only speaks for how relaxing the holiday break I had. We cooked a lot, hung out with friends, and went skiing a couple times. We spent a lot of time in our newly finished living space, where the Christmas tree was set. We replaced all the lights on our old pre-lit tree to make it a lot nicer. This is also the first time we have enough ornament to make the tree look full.

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We have been collecting ornaments for years from antique stores and estate sales. We favor wood toys, woodland animals, and weird-looking Santa ornaments.

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2020 was a special year. We did not go thrifting or get any ornaments online. Slav’s co-worker knit some coronavirus dolls for everyone in the company. We put ours in the tree as an ornament to remember this unusual year.

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We kept each other’s gift under the tree for a good part of December and opened them on the Christmas day. I gifted Slav a pair of cast iron pans and Slav gave me a birdhouse terrarium.

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We centered the Christmas tree in front of the living room window so it can be seen from the street. We also put lights on the pine tree in front of the house. In the evenings, both trees can be seen from where we sit.

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Pups often lay under the tree at night. I think they enjoy the twinkling lights too.

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The Christmas tree turned the living room a perfect space for sitting still in the evening, watching reading listening to music, and just spending time together. We have had a busy year with lots of upgrades to our home. We just need to make sure that we spend as much time enjoying it as we do working on it!

New YouTube Channel to Follow + Organizing with Magnetic Tools

Christmas is near and I’ve been continuing my cleaning and organization effort mainly in the kitchen and bathrooms. While searching for good products to organize the kitchen, I discovered a Youtube channel called “Koan杏子妈妈“. This channel is hosted by a Chinese housemaker who lives in Japan, and she mainly publishes about recipes, cleaning tips, and home organization products. The videos I love the most on Koan’s channel is about organization. Specifically, the video introducing DIASO products really caught my eye. I was impressed how versatile the DIASO magnetic tools are. Although I cannot find their product locally, I was able to find similar products online.

Using magnetic hooks for fridge organization

These hooks from IKEA are similar to the ones showed in Koan’s videos. I got a pack of two and put them on the side of the fridge for rubber bands and bottle brush we use often.

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The small pottery holding tiny bottle brushes is a hand-made souvenir from my past travel. It came with a magnet glued in the back and was perfect for these tiny bottle brushes.

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I got these magnetic clips from work which are useful on the side of the fridge for gloves and kitchen towels.

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This is what the side of the fridge look like now. I only keep things we use often here.

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Slav loves watching birds from the kitchen window, so the “common feeder birds” poster is displayed on the side of the fridge. I also keep the measurement conversion table close. You know, metric vs imperial system difference…

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Hanging organization for sponges and cleaning supplies

After tidying up the side of the fridge, I organized the cabinet beneath the sink. We mainly store cleaning supplies here. I glued some 3M hooks on the back of the cabinet doors, so gloves and sponges can dry better:

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Magnetic soap holder for bathroom

I also got is a magnetic soap holder for our master bathroom. Slav uses soap bar often and we did not like any of the soap drainer we tried in the past. They all left residue on the tile. It just felt messy no matter how often we clean this area.

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This magnetic soap holder looked identical to the one introduced on the Koan channel. It has a simple design that one end should be secured onto the wall surface with 3M adhesive, and the other end is magnetic.

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A bottle cap-like metal cap can be pressed into any soap bar.

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Now each time we use the soap bar, we could easily put it on the holder to dry:

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Here is what this corner looked like with the magnetic soap holder. We have already used it for a couple weeks. Thus far, the soap bar dries pretty quickly and there is no residue on the floor tile.

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I am impressed how strong the adhesive on hooks is nowadays. When we finished the master bath, I put these black towel hooks on the bathroom wall. Two years later they still attached very well despite us pulling down the towels multiple times per day. So when we finished the main floor bath, I bought the same kind of hooks (in chrome color) again.

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I used some small transparent hooks for pothos in the bathroom. It has grown a lot in the last two years.

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On one end it has stretched across the top of the medicine cabinet:

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And on the other end, it grew out of the shower area and started wrapping around the wallI think in another year or so it will go around the whole bathroom.

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Bamboo organizer for kitchen and offices

Maybe Slav was inspired by my organization effort too. When he was grocery shopping at Costco, he got me a set of bamboo organizating boxes:

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There are total 10 of them in different sizes:

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I used one in the tea/coffee drawer to hold coffee supplies including the milk frother we just got:

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The second one went into the baking drawer for keeping small measuring spoons in one place:

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I also put one in the tool drawer. We keep sharp tools including cheese shredder and peelers in this drawer. The bamboo container separates sharp tools, making it safer for us to reach in.

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The smaller bamboo box is perfect for holding earphones at the charging station in the living room.

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I used another one to hold various attachments for our small hand-held vacuum.

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The rest of the bamboo boxes are kept in my office for now. I am sure that I will find good use for them in the coming days. 🙂

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Now we are done with the organization and cleaning, we will be putting up the Christmas tree and decorations! Merry Christmas, everyone!

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