Ashley Cook

Tag: outside (page 1 of 2)

The tree that lived!

I wanted to hold off on this one until I was sure that it was going to live. At this point we have green leaves. I repeat we have new green leaves!

Some backstory. I really like tree lined streets. I think they bring a life to our cement city blocks (something to decorate for the holidays), they help decrease the temperature (read: lower AC bill!), and are generally nice to look at. Long story short, I want a tree.

Trees make for great photos

Disclaimer: not my tree, but another random tree in the city

With the help of P we found that in the tree plan for our neighborhood the house was originally scheduled to have a tree pit outside our front door. Bingo. Off went an email into the ether asking the city to come dig our tree pit! We could have hired someone to dig the pit for us (or maybe done it ourselves? unclear from the city website), but I’m not in a hurry and winter was approaching. After some waiting and pinging the city to see what the deal was. Answer: there’s a waitlist for tree pits, you get added to the list and X number of tree pits get dug each year. Sit back and wait it out.

My new tree pit! Complete with the don’t trip in me cone.

To my great surprise, so much so I couldn’t be bothered to take a good picture, I came home to this December 5th. Not to waste, since we had a warmer December, a tree was delivered on the 14th. Now I assumed I would have to go get a tree to fill it in the spring. I never thought we should plant a tree in December.

The December tree

Actually the next photo in my phone is putting up Christmas decorations. It was late in the year for this tree to get planted. And to be fair it looked a lot like a big twig for the next few months as it weathered an icing later that week and some snow after the first of the year.

The tree that lived!

And I’m happy to announce my tree is alive, well, and growing! One win for using city services!

New floors (in one spot)!

I’ve finally laid some flooring, just not inside the house. I’ve been outside more to water my tomato plants. In doing so I have developed a deep dislike for the outdoor rug I had outside the back door. It was nice to not stand on the cement (especially when it was hot), but the rug was always wet (maybe it wasn’t an outdoor rug…) and slowly being bleached by the sun. It wasn’t pretty.

Insert a run to Ikea, where I found a easy option to spruce up the look of the back porch, and also felt good to stand on while watering the plants. I ended up choosing the Runnen floor decking (and they were on end of the summer sale!) in brown. I love this color and may end up using a similar on for my other backyard ideas in the future.


They look even better in person! These took me all of 10 minutes to lay and snap into place. And a large part of that 10 minutes was figuring out how to move the massive planter with my tomato plants.

The final product:


It was so easy to lay, I have to decide if I’ll be taking it up for winter. But that’s for another night. For now I’ll just enjoy my new wood flooring.

Fall Festive Door Hanger

I keep seeing cute pots and front doors on my runs around the neighborhood. While I like the idea of a wreath, I have yet to see any that I would like to have on my door. The other night while searching the world of Pinterest I ran across this cute sunflower door hanger that was once for sale on Etsy but now only another image on the internet.

This is a great opportunity to try my hand at doing something crafty for a change. My chance came with a sale at Michael’s which is convenently down the street. I took this photo as my inspiration and gathered the tools I thought I’d need.


I already had the large wire cutters in the basement (yes they’re overkill, but it’s what I had). I picked up fake sunflowers, small red flowers, the stems of fall colored beads, burlap ribbon, and the floral wire at Michael’s. It must have been my lucky day in the ribbon isle, as I was looking at various types of burlap ribbon I noticed this roll over in the clearance bin, meaning it only cost me $1.

All pieces in hand I set about constructing the door hanger. I would set the pieces as I thought looked good and then wrapped the parts with the floral wire to keep it in place. To keep the beads on the string in the correct locations I hot glued them to the back of the flowers. I also followed bow tutorial (with the help of the hot glue gun again) to make the bow.

Ta da!


All and all I’m pleased with the way this turned out. And while it was pretty simple, this one is going to stay on the door until we’re well into the fall, or at least until I get inspiration for another door decor item. Perhaps something like this come Halloween:

Green Thumb part 2

I finally feel safe writing this entry as it has been a month and a half and most of the plants from this attempt are still alive!

Part1: Plant clippings

Over the 4th of July, P and I went to visit my mom and on the way back her friend generously loaded me up with clippings from her beautiful yard. When we got back I tore the house up looking for a bag of soil I put away during the last house organization. Unable to find it and one midnight trip to Home Depot later, I was ready to plant.


With fresh soil and a few pots, I planted 5 of the clippings in 2 larger pots. In the 2 smaller pots went another 3 clippings (one of the clippings snapped in half! So there was now 2 clippings of the same plant). Being pessimistic about this attempt, more than one clipping went into each pot, in hopes that one per pot would survive!




While I like the way each of these look I have no idea what kind of plants they are. The ones in the blue pot have been prolific and make a ton of little plantlings that it has been dropping in its pot.

As of today 8/23/16 all of the clippings in the clay pot have not made it (perhaps due to our long heat waves this summer). While the rest are happily alive. I ended up moving the babies from the blue pot so they can grow a bit bigger before being transplanted to their own pot.


Part 2: Tomatoes

Why stop at just plant clippings? We’re giving a solid attempt at growing plants this summer. Earlier in the year I’d watched a friends cats for a week (and also his tomato seedlings).


Long story short there were a ton of tomato plants that survived so much so that I ended up with 5 of them. P found a nice planter at BJ’s perfect for these guys and they were planted shortly after my cuttings from Florida.

Just after planting

Just after planting

These guys grew quickly. At this point I have a ton of flowers, which made me nervous about the weight of the potential future tomatoes. Another trip to Home Depot meant these guys now have stakes to help carry the weight and Velcro ties holding them to the stakes. I was really intrigued by the Velcro ties since they can be re-used and easily moved (Which was important with how fast these guys grew!).

Some research online led me to prune the plants as they grew to remove excess branches (suckers) growing from the nodes of the main stem. We’ll see how this goes.

Post Staking

The plants after tethering them to the stakes

With the heat from the last week or so the tomatoes that I had growing have appeared to slow down. Fingers crossed this cold front that’s passing though will lower the temperature so they can continue to develop.

All the pictures here!

Snowzilla 2016

If you haven’t seen any of the news, record breaking snowfalls have hit Maryland. A nice summary of the weekend of snow would read: Hot Chocolate, naps,  discovering Lego Dimensions, small house things, watching the snow on tv, a bit of snow shoveling, and venturing out for brunch today. (You should consider reading the “official” Jonas twitter for a good laugh).

The house faired well for my first big snow as a home owner, much less maintenance required than I thought it would. My best measurement from the backyard puts the house around 28″ of snow. Which is quite a bit. I figured I’d share some photos from the neighborhood.


And of course the first thing I did when I went out was make a snow angel in thed alley.


The backyard is a fluffy pit of snow that is hiding my grill, trash can (under the table), and blocking use of my back door. These photos were taken before the last of the snow fell off the roof, there’s much more on the stairs now because of that.


And I must give a shout out to my snow shoveling hero. He was a huge help in allowing me to leave my car in the garage this weekend (no shoveling it out!) and helping to shovel the sidewalk!




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