Don’t mistake silence for inaction… Luke’s taken to sharing our “front yard farm” journey on reddit. And since, we’ve been happily overwhelmed with responses. We’re tired of lawns, and it looks like we’re not alone.
Luke’s original photo journal begins here: Fuck the lawn.
The latest from our front yard farm:
A few more posts related to the yard found here:
It’s been a while and a work filled winter/spring. A lot has happened since we last checked-in, but I’m most excited to update yall on the front yard farm project (can you tell this is Luke yet?)
I’ve never been a big fan of lawns, especially the weedy excuse for a lawn that came with ourcasanova. Many of the houses on our street have overgrown weedy lawns and I decided I didn’t want to be the only one mowing. Instead, I’ve decided I’ll do a couple of years of farming on the sunny side of the house, kill that lawn, and simultaneously put the amendments in place for a future of landscaping in the clay soil that is so pervasive in the bay area. I started by building eight 6′x4′ raised beds out of 1″x10″x10′ boards. (they only cost $5 a piece)
I worked a while on the layout and bed sizes trying to makes the most out of the 24′x21′ front yard. Next came the soil. Luckily the city of Berkeley gives away the compost that they make from all the greenwaste that is collected each week. I was happy to have Clay’s truck and help as we moved four truck loads (almost 6 cubic yards) into the beds.
A fair bit of research went into this. After really looking into the subject, I determined it was best to leave the grass, and just pile the dirt on deep. I was concerned that the grass would make an impenetrable mat, or would grow through, but people say the grass will decompose and add to the topsoil. So far, only one kind of weed has poked through… hopefully I’ll get it under control. Judging by the size of the tomato plants, tap roots are definitely penetrating through the old lawn.
Next, since I wasn’t planning on mowing between the beds, I decided to sheet mulch the pathways. The city of El Cerrito gives away free wood chips, and I visited a few bike shops to get enough cardboard to lay over all the grass.The technique is simple but time consuming. Cut cardboard, lay it in place overlapping each piece, wet it, then put wood chips or mulch on top. three truck loads of wood chips later, and with some seeds already sprouting you see the progress.
I decided to put a plantable wall of cinder blocks at the front of the yard to keep the wood chips off the sidewalk.
Now all there is left to tell you about is the planting, and the harvest. So far, from seed, we’ve planted beans, romaine, arugula, snap peas, shelling peas, okra, several kinds of beets, onions, several kinds of carrots, several kinds of tomatoes, eggplants, fennel, zinnias, borage, several kinds of basil, several kinds of squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers. I also transplanted or bought starts of, celery, oregano, marjoram, parsley, thyme, lavender, and strawberries. now some photos of the progress.
P.S. I love Jessica. She is a brilliant editor.
After a few long and cozy months at ourcasanova, spring has just about sprung. Check back soon for the full details.
Our “front yard gone urban farm” project is in operation, the nook benches are near complete (now for cushions), and new dining chairs are in transport! More action coming soon.
It’s been several weeks now, and we’ve finally organized our pictures to post from our “behind the scenes” peak at Dining by Design, an AIDS benefit event featuring dining room vignettes by top designers. For a full look at the event mission and details, visit diffa.org.
Let’s be honest, I’m not at all biased, so the only table featured here will be that of my wildly talented sister. Since I’m keeping it professional, a little about Kate Hanzo (my sister) and Rebecca Brownlee McEfee (sister’s also very talented business partner):
“Studio Hatch was created under a simple principal; to craft residential, hospitality and workplace interiors that reflect our clients vision, lifestyle, budget and environmental concerns. We started our own firm after three years working together, because we know that the most creative designs emerge through a collaborative process and holistic approach. Passionate about design and committed to sustainability, we pull inspiration from the diverse Bay Area resources and strive to provide creative reuse solutions. Kate Hanzo and Rebecca Brownlee McEfee, we are hatch.” (wearehatch.com)
A little about their design concept for the event… I’m lifting this excerpt from their project description submitted for the event, which I assume is okay because I wrote it Hopefully it’s okay to say that. I figure they get credit for the awesome dining room they created. Luke get’s credit for the awesome pictures of the awesome dining room. So yeah, I’m basking in this spotlight too, a girl’s gotta take what she can get.
Back to their dining concept: “INSPIRED by the rich history of AIDS in San Francisco, our design honors the early local actions and advocacy that brought public visibility to the disease. The “patchwork” quality of our custom dining table is symbolic of the AIDS quilt, conceived in 1985 by American AIDS and LGBT rights activist, Cleve Jones. During an annual candlelight march in remembrance of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, Jones asked fellow marchers to write down the names of loved ones who lost their lives to AIDS, then taped these names to the San Francisco Federal Building. Pieces of paper taped to a wall, common threads of a greater tapestry, became a vision for the AIDS quilt. The writing of names began as a social movement, honoring those lives that went uncelebrated or unrecognized due to the fear, stigma and misunderstandings that mark the history of AIDS in the U.S. We have integrated the spirit of this ritual and the Names Project in our hand painted mantel, while our handmade wings are a tribute to the courage of early AIDS activists. Through our translation of these events into a design concept, we celebrate a rich local history, and we celebrate the healing and unifying qualities of art. The AIDS quilt today remains the largest community art project in the world.”
I love this whole vignette. I love the moody hues and lighting- the bold green walls stand strong as the backdrop to a high contrast striped rug. Actually, it’s not a rug. It’s a canvas hand-painted by Kate and Rebecca, which is another thing I love about this concept, all the personal touches that make it original and accessible (also hatch studio originals as noted: feather wings, mantel, and one of a kind custom table.) Cheers to hatch studio, and my sister! - So very proud.
Before we go, a little Dining by Ourcasanova…
I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend as much as we did! In fact, we enjoyed it so much we’re off to Pt. Reyes this weekend for even more family time.
This halloween, I will be working, most likely from 10AM until 12AM. I take responsibility for saying “yes” when asked if I could pick up an extra shift at the restaurant “next Wednesday” after a full day of work at my internship, or maybe I should say, I take responsibility for being the only one that didn’t realize “next Wednesday” meant halloween. Careful, those restaurant managers are sneaky… Boo!
It’s not so much that I mind working halloween. After all, I don’t have any little ones to take trick-or-treating, and admittedly, I am 28 (don’t get me wrong, I am still totally down to rock out at a costume dance party if anyone knows of something fun going down in the east bay…) The real issue took longer to sink in.
Halloween just so happens to be our anniversary. And this year will be our 4 year anniversary. While neither Luke nor I are entirely sentimental when it comes to these things, there’s something about this year that feels different. First, we live together now, which has been the biggest thing to happen in our relationship yet. So it’s our first halloween in our new home together, and thus, also our first anniversary in our new home together.
As I began looking over photos from previous halloweens, I stumbled upon a picture of Luke from the halloween party that brought us together. And there he is….
Given that halloween is our anniversary, pumpkins, costumes, and candy can quite naturally bring up feelings of nostalgia. But nothing did it quite like this picture of Luke dressed up like Obama.
Four years ago Obama’s first presidential election was fast-approaching, and I was leaving VERY early the next morning to hit the campaign trail in West Virginia. Not to mention, I was dressed to impress as Ugly Betty. So naturally, our friendship grew into more. Really all it took was a a few of my awesome moves on the dance floor, minus the part when I slipped and my braces flew across the room. Nonetheless, four years later, with halloween here and another election fast on the way, I am struck by just how far we’ve come.
It’s going to be a busy day, one I’d without a doubt rather be celebrating with Luke. But with bubbling feelings of adoration and love, something tells me there’s always next year.
Happy anniversary Baby… FOUR MORE YEARS!
First, a little kitchen nook inspiration:
Here at ourcasanova, I have very exciting news to report- the nook is underway! Several things have made our “nook” design project complicated… First, the trash. I don’t want to spend too much time talking trash, but we all have trash, and we all need somewhere to put it. Preferably, somewhere out of sight. For the last six months the trash has been piled high in our soon-to-be nook corner. Our under sink space is cramped after installing the garbage disposal, so there was no obvious solution to our trash storage dilema, which is where the ever creative Luke comes in.
Though Luke’s trash project proved a fairly simple task, it was the planning that required the most time and effort. After careful measuring (and shopping for the perfect size trash cans), Luke removed three drawers in the kitchen, leaving the bottom drawer and track in place to create a custom trash and recycling, storage drawer. Bless his heart.
The finished Product:
With the nook space officially freed up, we can now spend the next 6 months measuring for and designing the banquette seating… However, we did recently purchase our nook table. After giving up on my dream of finding a reasonably priced tulip table (the Ikea knockoff just wasn’t cuttin’ it), we found a discounted Crate and Barrel marble table that was just the right size.
Summer vacation is over… Luke is back to working full time at school, and I finally have some free time after completing my coursework and comprehensive exam for my Master’s program in Counseling Psychology. Things continue to evolve slowly around ourcasanova, but there have been a few fun updates.
What we still need in our living room is a new media stand, lamps, and to knock out the hideous granite fireplace (which coincidently is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door.) But, for now, with cold weather on the way we want to make sure we have a cozy place to cuddle up. Here’s where we stand (some of which you may be familiar with by now):
- Ikea Karlstad, corner sectional in Isunda grey (see below for information on switching the stock sofa legs for an updated look)
- Wood Tribal Coffee Table from Worldmarket
- Cube pouf from Gilt.com (sign up for your daily deals, we got this at a majorly discounted price)
- Kilim pillows, purchased from various etsy stores (see below for more info)
- West Elm Ikat Curtains
- West Elm Ombre Throw Blanket
- My favorite find- Artichoke Candle Holder from Anthropologie (purchased on sale for 9.99!)
- West Elm Sweater Rug, the best rug in the world. This rug is super comfy, a bright and warm color, that doesn’t show dirt.
The deal on our Sofa Legs:
We purchased our new sofa legs online from Ferrous Hardware, installing them ourselves at home. Sofa’s can be extrememely expensive, and though we like the look and feel of the Karlstad, these new legs gave our sofa a more modern, sleek look. We have the largest version of the Karlstad, and spent near 200.00 on the upgrade, still keeping the overall cost of the sofa low in comparison to other comprable sectionals.
Mix and Match Kilim Pillows:
Next: Let’s be real, the fireplace isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m practicing the art of distraction, instead focusing my energy on the CB2 media stand I want (wall mounted for an unobtrusive design that will suit our small space), and I’m currently on the prowl for the perfect chunky, knit blanket to add more softness and warmth to the room for the coming months.
Another quick trip up North to enjoy our beautiful California weather lead us to the home of an old friend. A seasoned professional photographer in Ukiah, Tom handpicked Luke during his senior year in high school for a photography apprenticeship. What began as a work and learning experience, evolved into a longterm friendship. It is always nice to see not just where Luke comes from, but to meet the people that have inspired him along the way. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Tom has one of the coolest houses and properties I’ve seen (not to mention he built it piece by piece himself).
Come along for the tour!
First, a quick stop to enjoy the Redwoods:
Now, off to Tom’s for dinner:
It’s been over two weeks now since we returned from Fiji, but we’re taking our sweet time easing back into the swing of things… If the goal of vacation was to totally relax, mission accomplished.
Keep in mind we were learning from the best. Fijian’s are experts at taking their time with things, so much so, they even have their own saying for it- “Fiji time” (and I’m not talking about the time difference). A morning chat on the way to work is more important than being punctual for a pending appointment, you can spend several hours waiting for and enjoying a meal any night of the week, honking horns is to say hello, and people will be wondering if you’re okay if you don’t take the time to say “BULA!” to those you cross on the street. This becomes more and more of a concept nowadays, as I’m “plugged-in” it seems everywhere I go, with emails/texts/facebook alerts, you name it. The total population in Fiji is roughly two times the size of Oakland, so I might never make it anywhere if I stopped to talk to every person on the street. But hey, during our two week stay in paradise, we not only welcomed this slowed down pace, we soaked up all we could. The city came whirling back at us full speed upon our return, so forgive us for our prolonged absence, we’re on Fiji time. In the meantime, while we’re getting back into an Oakland groove, check out some of our trip highlights below!
Thanks for looking! And a special thanks to Luke, it sure does help having a trained photographer around <3