Handicap Access For the Boonville Cottage

About our cottage…OK…So we’ve met with the county planners, Building Department and Health Department of Mendocino County.  I have to say, as county officials go, these guys are pretty nice to deal with.  They all have gone above and beyond their call of duty to help us with this project.  That being said, we are going to have to revise our project and probably call it something else besides a “B&B,” or “One bedroom residence,” to make it fly.

One of the biggest obstacles is making the place ADA friendly.  (That’s access for people with disabilities act for those of you who are wondering.)  On first thought, this seems like a big pain in the arse.  We are going to have to change our plans to make everything more wheelchair friendly, which costs more money and time…and of course, effort.

BUT, on second thought, I love the idea of creating a space that is not only ADA friendly but chic and stylish, as well.  Both, my husband’s mother and my own mother were in wheelchairs a good deal of their lives before they passed on.  I think about how my mom struggled to make dinner for herself in a regular kitchen.  She almost burned down her home on two occasions because she could not see what she was doing on the stove while cooking.  She could not cut vegetables and fruits on the normal height cutting board, she couldn’t reach her dishes, or glasses and even the microwave was out of reach for her.  She usually just gave up and resorted to eating pre-made junk food, rather than trying to make her own meal.

The irony is that we could have made those adjustments in the kitchen, bath and hallway easily when we were designing my mom’s new mobile home.   I have to admit, there was some pride involved on my mom’s part that blocked our way.  She would never have approved grab bars near the toilet, or lower kitchen counters that are more wheelchair friendly, but I still, could have overruled her.  After all, I’m the one who designed the building for her.  Sad to say, I failed her miserably.  I should have recognized her gradual decline in her physical abilities, but I didn’t.

So, I now look at this cottage as a challenge and perhaps retributions for my errors in the past.  Although my mother passed away several years ago, I’m hoping that I can make things right, by creating a cottage that is totally handicapped-friendly, easy to move around in and without any compromise to making the whole place look chic and stylish.  Hey…even  people with disabilities like a little glam.

So, I’m scouring Pinterest, as well as the rest of the internet for cool looking bathrooms that are ADA friendly, kitchens designed around wheelchairs and rose gardens that people on wheels can enjoy.  I’ll let you all know how I fare.  More to come soon…

 

~ C

Ordering Plants On The Internet – Some Tips

It’s that time of year…spring planting.  This year, I have 2 gardens to plant. ( Well, actually 3 if you count the veggie garden,)  The first is a flower garden at my home.  It was started about three years ago, in a crazy attempt to frantically get the yard in shape before my son’s wedding.  It was a beautiful success that first year, but unfortunately, a huge storm came in the night before the wedding and we had to move the whole shebang to an indoor location at the last minute.  Not a single guest saw my flowers…oh well.   Since then, I’ve made a lot of changes and more than a few errors in that garden.  The annuals are now slowly being replaced by perennials, those lovely bushes I planted the first year are now past their prime and annual seeds keep popping up in all of the wrong places.  So really, it’s like I’m starting all over this season.

Most of my plants for this garden are coming from just two places: Annie’s Annuals and Perennials and Breck’s.  In the past, I’ve also had good luck ordering from One Green World for our unusual berries that are now establishing themselves in the yard. I’ve ordered from all of these places many times with good results, so I know I can trust them.

The second garden is at our property in town.  It’s a brand, spanking new, rose garden, created only on paper, so far.  It will live next to a new cottage that we are planning to build there.  I’ve ordered the roses as well as a few hydrangeas for the back yard.  David Austin Roses is the ONLY place that I will ever order roses from again (see my previous post,) and the Hydrangeas were ordered from White Flower Farm, a new vendor for me…fingers crossed.

Buying plants from a brick and mortar plant nursery is always best, but the problem is, I don’t have many of those close by.  In fact, two of the three closest ones just recently closed their doors.  Too bad. The selection from the remaining nursery is very limited, so ordering from an online plant nursery is my only real option.  However, that can be hit, or miss.  There are places that I won’t mention that I would never order from again.  Plants from these places arrived weak and spindly, late, half dead, all dead, or not at all.  (One company actually sent my plants a whole year later than expected!)   When things arrive too late in the spring, then I have to pot them up, baby them through the hot summer, cross my fingers, pray an swish some sage smoke over them, then delay planting them in the ground until late fall.  What a waste of time and effort.  Finding nurseries that you can completely trust to do things right is so valuable.  Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Read the comments.  I realize that plants are perishable things and not everyone has that magical green thumb, so there are bound to be some negative comments.  That being said, if you see a LOT of negatives, back slowly away from the computer screen.  If you see a lot of positives, keep reading!

2. Carefully read all plant descriptions and planting instructions.  You don’t want to buy something that only grows in zones 3-7, if you live in zone 9, or 10.  Nor, do you want a plant that eventually reaches 25 feet tall, when the description told you that it will only get about 8 feet tall.

If you want to get your new plant off to a good start, then definitely read the company’s planting instructions.  I would also suggest that you research the plant online and look for other companies’ instructions and growers’ comments too.

3. High price does not necessarily mean quality.  Just because their prices are up in the stratosphere, that doesn’t mean that they are selling you a “super plant.”  Same goes for bargain basement prices…those are usually left overs at the end of the season and not always in tip-top shape.  In other words, don’t go by price alone.

For example, David Austin Roses are only a dollar, or two more than a few of the other rose growers, but the quality and size are so much better.  I once ordered roses from one of those “other, online, rose nurseries.”  Their roses were more expensive than the DA roses, but the roses arrived weak, covered in black spot and three months late.  I planted them anyway, stripped them of all of their leaves to get rid of the black spot and hoped for the best, but they are still spindly and at least a year behind.  Actually, I think one of them has recently died.

4.  Check to see if the nursery has a promised a precise delivery date for your area.  Most will try to give you some idea, but the really good ones will tell you the delivery date within a week, or two AND they will stick to their promise.  David Austin Roses and Annie’s Annuals and Perennials are absolute experts at this.  I have never, once had a late shipment from them and they always ship at a practical time for my area.  One time Annie’s delivery person could not find my house, so they even called me several times to make sure that my address was correct and acted as a liasion between me and the delivery company.  The really wanted to make their delivery date and I appreciate that.

5.  Ask what soil medium your plants grow in at the nursery that you are buying from.  Boy…I’ve learned this one the hard way.  My virgin soil in my own garden was contaminated with horrible  Devil’s Grass from one of, “those other nurseries,” several years ago.  I’m still pulling the stuff out and probably will be for the rest of my life.  Give the nursery a call and just ask what medium they grow their plants in and if they have any safeguards, or guarantees against pests and weeds showing up with your plant purchase.

6. Make sure that your plant order is trackable.  You would think that this is a no brainer… but no…not all nurseries will track your shipments.  If there is a hang up on the delivery service’s part, at least you can call them with a tracking number and find out what’s up.

7. Ask how they pack your order.  You want to know how the plants will stay fresh and undamaged during shipping.  The great nurseries will take exceptional care in how they pack the plants, carefully making sure that nothing gets jostled about, adding moisture pellets and wrapping, if necessary, and possibly misting them before sealing up the box.

8.  Check their return policy.  It’s tragic when dead plants arrive on your doorstep.  I’ve tried to baby them along, because frankly, it was a hassle to send them back and try to get a refund.  The really good places just credit your account, no questions asked.

That’s about it.  Get out there, have fun!  Garden on!

~ C

 

Designing and Decorating the Boonville Cottage and Gardens

So…OK…we don’t even have our plans approved yet, but I’m already chomping at the bit and ready to sink my teeth into this new project.  After all, one can never start too early with creative endeavours… I’m so excited!

I’m really hoping that the entire, “Boonville Cottage,” project will reflect a sense of place and history.  Even though it is going to  be a new building, I want it to feel like it’s been there forever. It’s important that it has that, “Anderson Valley,” vibe, and not look like it came out of some showroom in NYC.  On top of everything else, it has to be welcoming.

I’ve decided to decorate the cottage in a similar way that my own home is done…simple, used, vintage items that have lots of soul and casual comfort.  Nothing too fancy, frivolous, nor overly trendy; just a, “feel-good,” kind of decorating.  I’ve been completely inspired by designer, Molly Hyde English’s style and her book, “Camps and Cottages.”  Her style is so similar to mine and I’ll love looking through her website and reading her newsletter for new ideas and products.

I already have several furniture pieces that I have in mind to use. They’ll all need refurbishing…that will keep me busy for awhile.  I’ll definitely be heading over to Miss Mustard Seed’s  for her wonderful milk paints and new ideas. I’d also really like to create my own fabrics for some of the upholstery projects.  Spoonflower is a fabulous resource for doing that. If I don’t have time for that, then it’s Brick House Fabrics for their amazing collection of traditional prints and yardage.

It’s also time to get out my paints and create some wall art.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious painting.  My DIL is a very talented artist and I hope to get her involved in this project.  but, if her schedule doesn’t permit that, then I’ll have to wing it on my own.  The DH is willing to make me some custom, art frames out of old growth redwood and knotty madrone.  (He’s also willing to make a unique dining table for the cottage. Boy…am I’m a lucky girl!)

The gardens will be trickier.  It’s plants will need time to grow and mature, so the first year, or two, will look a little stark, I’m afraid.  I’m going to have to come up with some strategies for filling in the bare spots until the foundation plantings take over.  There’s nothing a few packets of flower seeds can’t solve.

Building a new garden can also be an expensive venture.  I’m hoping that I can clone as many hedge plants as possible over the next couple of months to save on plant costs. I’m always on the lookout for little snips and cuttings of plants as I walk my dog, “Lucy,” through town.  (I never take anything that is in their yard, only what is growing on the public parkway.)

I can also draw from my own collection of plants that have been lovingly passed down through the generations, such as a Clivia plant from my late mom’s house, giant callas from Gramma’s, scented geraniums from a friend’s yard and several plants that were gifts from my son and daughter.  All of these can be divided and multiplied to be used in the new place.  Spread, err…plant the love, I say.

As far as the roses go, I’m certainly not going to scrimp, or cut corners here.  They are the center pieces of the garden.  I will only order from a company that I trust to give me superior plants and that’s David Austin Roses. Over the years, I’ve tried several companies for ordering roses online for my own, personal residence I have to say, and David Austin is by far the best in their selection and quality of products and service.  Even today, as we approach the winter months, my David Austin roses are still lush, green and still blooming, while the other roses look tired, leafless and weak.  There’s just no comparison.

There will be other garden elements needed. I’ll be hunting for free compost, garden benches, birdbaths, etc.  You never know what we’ll find.  I’ll be making my own planters for the deck out of old, used redwood, downed logs, or possibly clay or cement.

All in all, I’ll have my hands full.  I love it all!  I just hope that my energy level can keep up with my imagination.  My fingers are crossed!

I’ve decided to add a new category in the index just for the Boonville cottage, which will be where I’ll be continuing the writings on this project, so please look for that when you revisit.

~ C

Finally…We’re Starting the Boonville Cottage and Garden

I know…it’s been months and months since my last posts.  We’ve been so busy.  That’s my only real excuse and I’m sticking to it. 

:::sigh::: 

I won’t go into all of the details, but I can say that it has been a busy year.  The great news is that at last, we are moving forward with our beautiful house and garden plan in Boonville!  We have had the property up for sale, but there were no takers, so we’ve decided to take it off the market and proceed with our original plan to build.  My “Old Woman’s Garden” will finally be happening!

It’s not really a, “house,” but a charming, 1-bedroom cottage that will be rented out to vacationers.  It’s going to be perfect for our guests visiting our beautiful area for wine tasting, cheese sampling, hiking, relaxing and taking in the annual music festivals.  Everything is within walking distance…wineries, brewery, restaurants and music.  The Mendocino coast is only a 30 minute drive away with plenty of vineyards to visit along the way. 

The cottage will be old-fashioned and traditional, clad in creamy, white siding and featuring a bright, red door.  There will be privacy and a beautiful, outdoor space, (I’m hoping for a screened, sleeping porch, budget permitting,) and of course, lots and lots of flowers. 

Boonville Cottage Floor Plan as it stands now.

The plans have been submitted to the county and we don’t foresee many problems with the building department.  The only thing is that they are extremely busy right now, due to the 2017 &2018 fire victims rebuilding.  We certainly don’t mind waiting in line for them to be taken care of first.  We expect to break ground in the spring and it shouldn’t take too long to build. The septic system is already in and we have a well for water and public utilities readily available. 

I’ve already started ordering the plants for the garden, which will probably take several years to take shape.  Various hydrangeas and roses will be the main foundation plants.  Hedges will provide privacy and there will be the proverbial, white picket fence and trellis. The 20, old, apple trees will remain on the property, as will the large shed that we recently painted a soft, barn red. 

Boonville Vacation Rental Garden Plan

The inside of the house will be very traditional with a playful nod to the past.  Of course, there has to be a perfect bed…big and lux…the kind that you never want to get out of.  I plan to make a couple of quilts for that.  I’ll also have lots of furniture redo projects, including some old chairs and a Victorian settee that will need repairs and reupholstering.  We’ll need some interesting artwork too.  Who knows what else I’ll find on Craig’s List and at the antiques fair between now and then.  I’ll keep you posted about those.    

Pictures…I’ll be posting those soon.  (I know, I know, I KNOW!  I’m so bad at taking the pix in a timely manner…my apologies.)  I’ll get the “before” pix up ASAP and will bring you progress updates all along the way. 

Wish us luck!  Building can make, or break a marriage.  This will be our 4th house project and we are still going strong, so it must be a good thing.

~ C

Lizbby’s is Z Place to Go For Mexican Food in Boonville

Libby’s is now lizbby’s

For those of you who make regular treks to Philo, in hopes of eating those tasty enchiladas and chile rellenos at Libby’s, I have some sad news.  Libby and her gang recently hung up their aprons and closed the restaurant.  Good news is that they sold their place to a hard working family, who moved the establishment up the road to the old Boonville Saloon building and across from the Boonville post office.  They’ve changed the name slightly, to, “Lizbby’s,” but fear not, it is the very same menu and recipes as the old place.

As a rite of pilgrimage, our family dined at “Lizbby’s” the first night it opened and we have gone there several times since.  I can attest that the quality of the food is the just as good, if not better and the family members that run it are warm and welcoming.  The atmosphere, while different than the old, Philo place, is certainly friendly, homey and clean.  Their carnitas are still so tasty that they lure me out of my vegan habits and into that old omnivore world.

The Lizbby space is also bigger, with an attractive barroom…a cozy place to grab a cold, Negra Modelo.  It feels a little empty in the tavern area right now, but that’s only because the patrons have not yet discovered it.  It could make for a fabulous gathering spot for celebrations.

Take out is also available.  There have been a couple of times when I had been shopping and running errands in, “Big Town,” all day and was worn out.  So, instead of cooking dinner at home,  I stopped into Lizbby’s for some Burritos to go.  Quick, yummy, inexpensive and filling…the perfect ticket!

Stop by and grab a bite there.  They’re closed on Sundays, but open the rest of the week.

~ C

 

Mendo Pups are Getting Big! UPDATE

I just wanted to give you all a quick update on the Mendo Pups, who are now about 4 and a half months old.  The crew at Mendocino Shelter Pet Rescue have been so helpful and have already placed Aurora in her new home.  They could not have made a better choice for an adopter.  Aurora is doing great with Jackie.  Pup and “Mom” make the perfect team and they’ve already started her in puppy obedience classes.

Buster, the brutally handsome mendo pup

Buster, one of the Mendo Pups
Buster, you handsome devil, you!

Buster has been winning our hearts over and he may just have to stay and live with us.  :::sigh:::.  I’ll let him go, but only if we can find him an amazing home.  Until then, he’s living the life at the ranch.  He knows so many obedience commands now…”sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come.”  “Heel,” is not his favorite yet, nor is, “outside,” but he’s catching on quick.

Midge, the mendo pup that knows how to get the job done

Midge, working dog
Midge, looking like a true, working girl!

Midge has been the super shy pup of the group. We love her too, but we just can’t keep them all.  She really needs to find a forever home soon, so that she can adjust and get socialized with humans.  She’s very, very sweet with NO biting or aggression issues.  But, I think that someone may not have been so kind to her in the past, so she’s a little bit wary of strangers.  However, she’s coming out of her shell and is now starting to look like the serious, working dog that she is.  I know that we will find her just the right adopter that will appreciate her traits and give her the extra TLC that she needs.  Besides, who can say no to a face like that?

These pups are special…really special.  From the serendipitous arrival on my porch steps, to their incredible outlooks on both, humans and mother nature, they definitely deserve to find a unique home and humans that will both, care for them and understand where they are coming from.  These are not the kind of dogs that will be designated to someone’s small backyard, while the owners are at work all day.  They just wouldn’t make it in that environment.  They need lots and lots of outdoor space and one-on-one attention from a real, “dog person,” that will love and appreciate them.  If you know of someone who fits the bill, please contact me or the Mendocino Shelter Pets Rescue.

Thanks, (and the Mendo Pups thank you too.)

~ C

Demonstration Garden, Planning is in the Works

A Demonstration Garden For our Boonville Cottage

I’m planning the demonstration garden for the Boonville cottage as the rain comes pouring down.  I’m stuck inside once again, so why not do something constructive?  It’s been a long, wet winter this year, offering up very few days to get out there and work in the dirt…errr…I mean mud.  We are expecting a few days of sunshine, starting this weekend, so I’m getting prepared.  I’ve got the shovels sharpened and the rototiller primed and ready to go.  Now, I’m drawing up a garden plot, even though the actual cottage isn’t built yet.  No problem, I can work around that.  The time to start the garden is now.

Demonstration Garden Will Educate

Grow Your Own Food

Demonstration garden
Demonstration garden will offer lots of fresh vegetables for our guests.

So, the big question is: What do I want my demonstration garden to demonstrate?  What are the messages that I want to get across?  Well, first off, I want my cottage guests to know that you can plant a garden to feed a family on a small, town-size lot.  We already have a row of twenty, old, apple trees along one fence line and a pear and walnut tree in the back of the property.  We could add a couple more fruit trees, such as a plum, or apricot.  As for other fruits, were planning a mini-vineyard in the front and I hope to put in some thornless blackberries and raspberries somewhere; perhaps along the fence with our neighbor, so that he can enjoy the berries too.  Of course, there will be large, permanent, veggie plots.

Edible Gardens Can Be Beautiful

I also want them to know that a self sufficient, food garden can be beautiful.  Along with flowers and climbing roses, edible landscaping is a must.  Honeyberries, strawberries and aronia berries should go around the house.

strawberries growing in the landscape
Strawberries – part of the edible landscape

Elderberries will work well for a tall, informal hedge that will block off the neighboring fairgrounds along the back line of the property.  Artichokes make nice landscape plants near the house.  I feel strongly that there should be a spattering of medicinal herbs around the lot, either as landscape, or in the veggie plots.

herbs in teh garden
Herbs, both culinary and medicinal, are a nice edition to the garden landscape

Demonstrate Gardening Techniques

Besides the plants themselves, I do want to demonstrate a few of the various gardening techniques.  Organic gardening is a must, but there could be much more than that.  Perhaps one plot could show off Veganic gardening.  Permaculture practices will definitely be part of the landscape.  We could also compare a no-till plot to a double digging plot, or new varieties of veggies compared to ancient ones.  There is a spot in the front of the shed that is always damp and shady, so that would be a good place to show off ferns and other acid-loving plants.

ferns in shade
Fill in the shady spot with ferns and other acid loving plants.

Creating the Garden Plot

So, how on earth are we going to fit demonstration garden in?  It’s not as complicated as you might think.  It’s amazing  how much food one can grow on a tiny, city lot.  (OK…so Boonville isn’t exactly a “city,” but you get my drift.)  Our guests need to enjoy the garden and be right there in the middle of it.  So, I’m thinking of designing it in a semi-circle of veggie plots, radiating out from the house and patio.  There will to be an open area for horseshoe pits and BBQ, and a hammock hidden amongst the plots.  We have to have a table and seating, so that our guests and can relax and enjoy it all.  There also needs to be a sense of privacy…a secret garden hidden from view, so hedges and fences must be considered.

As for the existing shed, it desperately needs a makeover and we’ve already started on that.  We’ve been priming the new exterior walls that will be going up on the backside of the building.  The old ones are just too rotten to try to paint over.  The final color of the shed will be a salmony, “barn red,” with cream trim.  The yellow, Lady Banks roses will climb up the sunnier sides of the building.  This building sits near the front of the property, so it will be a nice, welcoming feature as our guests drive in.

My biggest worry is how I’m going to actually DO all of this.  I’ll definitely need some help.  Volunteers would be wonderful, but I can’t really expect that, since this is a for-profit venture.  I’m sure there are some young people in town that would be willing to work with me on the weekends for pay.  My kids may pitch in once in awhile, but they have jobs and need some days off.  Of course, my hubby is always there to lend a hand…thanks, Hon.

Why a Demonstration Garden?

You’re probably asking WHY I’m doing this.  First, for educational purposes.  The people that I expect will be staying at our cottage will probably be from the city.  I hope that they come away from their stay with us with some courage to try building an edible garden on their own properties.  Therefore, I plan to offer lots of books to read while they are there, as well as a notebook explaining the details of our own garden.  Our guests will also have the joy of eating fresh, wholesome food that is grown right out the back door.

I also wish to produce enough excess produce in the demonstration garden for our neighborhood food bank.  It always surprises me how many people just don’t have enough to eat, even in our little community, where everything appears to be so bountiful.  I could go out and buy canned and prepared foods for donating, but those just don’t hold a candle, nutritionally, to fresh fruits and vegetables.

So, let it rain.  While the storm is howling outside, I’m warm and safe inside, with my plans and promises.  Ahh…armchair gardening is so much fun!  Now, I just hope that I can follow through, roll up my sleeves and do what I say.  Wish me luck.  (Pix are coming soon.)

Garden on!

~ C