It's a veg-eh-tuh-ble.*

Soooo, gardening.  It's not a topic I would ever normally contemplate talking about, mostly because I kill EVERYTHING.  Seriously, the depths of my botanical ignorance know no bounds.  However, my dear husband (I need to figure out something to call him here.  Ooh, I know!  MARK.**  He shall henceforth be known as Mark!) has decided to embrace his inner farmer.  Project Grow Shit commenced last year, when I returned home from a weekend away (in March!  We live in northern VA!  It was still cold!) to find containers of dirt pods covering nearly every windowsill in our house.  That was about as awesome as it sounds, in case you were curious.  Anyway, he had decided to plant cherry tomatoes and basil seeds, and boy did he!  By the time planting weather rolled around, we had a boatload of plants, and despite my skepticism, he planted them all. 


Ahahahaha -- yeah, that worked out really well.  We had about 12 very tart little tomatoes all summer long, while the roots were busy choking each other to death.  I really wish that was the worst of the blunders, but alas, there was the day I came home to find that he had planted a bell pepper plant and a jalapeno pepper plant in the same container.  We harvested 2 miniature (and oddly bitter/spicy) green bell peppers from that pot.  My favorite was the day I came home to find a large, leafy plant hanging from the strawberry Topsy Turvy.  It was a ZUCCHINI.  He planted a zucchini, which grows to be ginormous and heavy, in a wee strawberry bag.  Not only did it not produce zucchini (imagine that!), it also managed to kill the strawberries.  He was so adorably enthusiastic though!

This year he (sort of) learned from his mistakes.  While he did begin the window plantings and outdoor transfers absurdly early again, the lesson about not overplanting really sank in.  The one about less being so much more?  Not so much.  We have a ton of what seem to be healthy and productive plants (in individual pots, hooray!), but they cover about 90% of our usable outdoor space:
Siiiigh.  What can I say?  Luckily, I love the snot out of the guy, otherwise I might have killed him by now.

All of this (i.e. the most boring entry ever) was all to get to the boxes of arugula in the middle of the table up there.  I was hanging out by myself this weekend, just puttering around while Mark was out of town, and decided it was high time to harvest some of that arugula for lunch.  I had gotten some fabulous heirloom cherry tomatoes at Trader Joe's, so I chopped them up and mixed them with some salt, pepper, basil, and olive oil.  I popped a mini baguette in the oven, and went out to snip some lettuce.  This was around the time that I realized that the arugula?  It is INFESTED with all of these wee red bugs, which Google is telling me are spider mites.  SO GROSS.  It took me over 10 minutes to wash the arugula, each little leaf, one by one, making this the most work intensive salad I think I have ever made.  Tasty, but what a pain in the ass:

In summary:  1.)  $3 for a bag of prewashed arugula is a freaking bargain, and 2.) hot damn, I need to come up with some better ideas of things to write about, because this here?  Is BORING.

*My Blue Heaven
**When Not-Mark and I first started dating, one of my best friends (and perhaps the only reader of this here blog) could not remember his name, like, EVER.  She would always refer to him as Mark, and I would be all, um, who now?  (Granted, she lives in another country and had not met him, and our general means of communication was a daily flurry of emails, so sure, confusing.  She's much better now that he's been around for a number of years and they've met several times and all.)

Dreams: Crushed. -- UPDATED!

Well, I suppose they weren't actually realistic dreams, but still.  I am saaaaad, you guys. There was this house....

Let me back up.  You see, one of my favorite time sucks is to house hunt on, looking for my "next" house.  The house we live in now, although my husband and I have completely overhauled it since moving in, doesn't really feel like it's "mine."  My husband bought it a few weeks before we met, and we have slowly ripped it apart and made it more ours, but would I have chosen this house myself?  Nope.  Not even close.  I love love love older houses with charming built ins and woodwork and character, and this house was built in the mid-90s.  It is one of many (MANY) northern VA brick townhouses, big on builder basics and short on charm.  We have done our best to make things better, but I still dream about when we'll be able to find a house that's really ours.  Hence, and I are likethis.

I've been focusing my stalking search on the western suburbs of Boston lately.  We were both born and raised in the Boston area, and it's in our (loose) 3 year plan to head back there.  There is a decent chance he would be working in the northwest suburbs, so I am limiting the towns to metrowest-ish suburbs, specifically those with really good school systems, since we're hoping that will be a concern by the time we move back.  (We're thinking now that we would rather pay a little more for the house/taxes than pay for private schools later on.  I may feel differently should I find myself residing in Stepford, but I suppose I'll jump off cross that charming, New England-y, covered bridge when I come to it.)

So, stalking.  I am definitely more of an arts & crafts kind of gal, but for some reason, perhaps too much perusing of the Young House Love archives, I saw this 50s rancher and was just blown away by the POTENTIAL.
Can't you just imagine it with some soft gray paint, crisp white trim, glossy black shutters, and a black front door?  I'm thinking something like this color scheme here:
(Photo from Things That Inspire)

The interior is even better.  Check out the view from inside the front door:
Those glossy hardwoods appear to be pristine.  I would LOVE to see them refinished to tone down that orangey tint.  A nice coffee color that shows the wood grain would look fantastic.  I would also slap some crisp white paint on anything standing still long enough -- the spindles in those railings, the baseboards, the window trim, the mantle over the fireplace -- all of it.  And speaking of the fireplace, let's take a closer look.
I'm thinking that with all of the crisp white trim, and a darker color on the floor, a nice warm neutral would be perfect for the walls (Sherwin Williams Basket Beige is a fav).  I think I would also carry the paint color on to the brick and the wood paneling above.  The brass screen would be tossed as well, in favor of a more classic looking spark guard.  I might even want to build some shelving on the left side of the fireplace, just to make centering artwork easier.

Next up is the HUGE kitchen:
Crazy enormous for a house this old, right?  I would totally take advantage of all of the space, and where it's a one story rancher, I would love to see how big a structural nightmare it would be to vault the ceiling a little, since I looove a high ceiling in a kitchen.  I would start with some recessed task lighting, which I know not everyone is a fan of.  However, I find it really functional for a kitchen, and it leaves the ceiling uncluttered, which would allow for a statement lighting fixture over the big center island I would love to see.  I'm thinking maybe a pair of these and one of these over the sink?  As for cabinets, they would be white, likely a simple shaker style, some glass front doors, a simple white subway tile backsplash.  How gorgeous is this?
(Photo from J.E.M. Woodworking & Cabinets)
I toy with the idea of a different color cabinet for the island, like a gray blue, but I'm probably too practical for that.  Eh.  I go back and forth on counters too.  I have a really busy granite right now, which is nice in that it never looks dirty, but the busy look limits the decorating options.  My style has become simpler, cleaner, so I think I would go with something more plain, like a honed black granite, or a mostly white granite.  (I love white and gray marble, but it is far too impractical for me.)  I really love slate too, but I would have to do some more research on durability and upkeep there as well.  Floors would likely be hardwoods, stained to match the rest of the house during the refinishing.

Open to the kitchen is the dining room, which features another fireplace (perhaps dual sided with the living room?).  However, the fireplace is covered in some seriously mid-century stonework:
It is ... not my thing.  I would get rid of the screen for sure, but this is probably one of those elements that it would take living with for a while in order to figure out the right approach.  Perhaps some paint?  I think the stone wall would look awesome with some open display shelves too.  That little three season room in the back would make a great sitting room with a few gallons of paint for the walls and floor too.

The bedrooms in the house (there are three) are all fairly similar, and they seem to be good sizes and have great light.  This is the master:
There is also a full basement, complete with garage, family room, and storage area, which I looong for, seeing as we have almost no storage in our current basement.

How great is that?  Some thick carpeting, a warmer paint color, some comfy couches, and this would be an awesome family room.  It even has a pass through for a future bar, which the husband loved.

In short, it wasn't the house I had always imagined, but it became a dream house when I imagined us making it our own.  We have done a lot of big home improvements together, and the great thing about this house was that the projects appeared to be mostly cosmetic, with the potential for BIG payoff.  Like, night and day, kind of payoff.  Plus, the house is on 1.73 wooded acres in a town with awesome schools, and it was listed for under $600k.  Whaaa?  It was almost ... realistic.  This is why my hopes and dreams were shattered when I pulled up Redfin (my fav stalking site, because it shows the property lines on a map of the neighborhood) and saw the big, fat UNDER CONTRACT next to "my" house.  Siiiigh.

Oh well -- on to the next house!

Update:  Evidently the contract fell through, because it's listed for sale again.  Hooray!  (Although I'm sorry for the homeowners, because clearly I'm in no position to buy it, so it would surely be nice for them if someone would.  Anyone?  Look how cute it could be!)