Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Work in Progress...Making an Eco-Friendly Backyard - Part 1

A few months back, Carlos and I decided that we wanted an eco-friendlier backyard. So the first thing we did was kill our grass lawn. It wasn't too hard a task since our grass was mostly dead due from not watering it as often as it needed. But to make sure it was 100% killed we covered it entirely with large sheets of black plastic. After a couple of months of being covered, we had our trusted gardener, Roberto, dig up all the dead grass and take it away. 

 A view into our backyard after Roberto finished hauling away the dead grass & excess dirt.

Another view of our backyard. On bottom right, Carlos has started placing weed fabric down.

As of today, more weed fabric over the dirt with my handy collection of beach stones to hold it down. We ran out of weed fabric and need to buy more. 

Eventually, we'd like to do the same thing to our small grassy front lawn. But that will be another project down the road. To give you an idea of what we aspire for our "greener" backyard, take a look below:

We plan to have stone/pebble gravel next to our flagstone patio to replace our grass lawn.  A gravel patio lets excess water flow to the ground beneath. In addition, we would love to add native plants along the edges next to the fence. City Farmers Nursery in San Diego provides an excellent selection of native plants. High on our list of natives include butterfly bushes and lemon balm which attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. Although I am enormously afraid of bees, I can't deny the extreme importance of these creatures.

A nice example of a flagstone/stone gravel backyard.

The type of stone we choose will either be Black Mexican Beach Pebbles (left) or a Mix Color of Beach Pebbles (right).

We also plan to add a couple of raised garden beds right near our fence. We are starting with two beds but will definitely add one or two more in the future. Looking forward to eating freshly grown tomatoes, squash, lettuce, bok choy, japanese eggplants, and a fine selection of herbs. In addition, I can't wait to buy a bunch of ladybugs to help with pest control. They are one of the few insects that I actually find cute and I know my boys will love to watch them.

A raised garden bed with PVC hoops. We purchased a couple of composite raised beds instead of wood ones from Home Depot. Not only are they made from recycled materials but hopefully they will last longer than wood ones. Also, we will install PVC hoops with chicken wire to help prevent uninvited guests.

Another way to help make our backyard more eco-friendly is harvest rainwater. I guess living in coastal desert Southern California, I should say try to harvest rainwater as much as possible. I was fortunate to purchase a pretty copper rain chain from Target that was on clearance and hope to hang it under the eaves of our house sometime soon.  And once the rain chain is hung, I'll need to buy a rain barrel to funnel the rainwater into. Not only is the water free, but it will come in handy to help water our future garden.

Example of a rain chain above a rain barrel.

A 50-gallon whiskey rain barrel with brass spigot from Home Depot. I am definitely interested in this particular rain barrel with a flat side to sit against a wall and a screen on top to keep out debris & insects.

Lastly, I'd love to add reused or repurposed furniture or garden finds when decorating our backyard. I am a firm believer that recycled items can become new treasures for the right person. 

 My backyard art piece that I'm currently working on. I found an old window screen with black frame and attached some of my favorite beach/nature finds with craft wire. I plan to hang it somewhere in our backyard.

I am very excited about the new changes that are to come for our outdoor living space. I know trying to live more environmentally friendly will not only be rewarding to me and Carlos, but especially for our boys, Paco and Tomás. I think it's so important to teach the younger generation about respecting nature and learning to live and work with it rather than tailoring it to fit only human needs. I will keep you abreast on this work in progress and hopefully by this Fall we will have our garden up and running! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Simply Sunsets

There's nothing quite like an ocean sunset. I'm lucky to live in an area where the ocean is just a few minutes drive from home and the chance to camp for a few days at the beach is not much further. For the past four summers as well as this summer, my family and I have had the wonderful opportunity to go beach camping at South Carlsbad State Beach. Not only do we get to dine and sleep right next to the ocean waves but we also get to witness some of the most beautiful sunsets. 

 August 5, 2009. Me at our campsite, #156 and sunset in background. Our second year beach camping.

August 25, 2010. Sunset from our campsite, #37. Just stunning.

August 22, 2011. Carlos, me, and sunset at our campsite, #37 again. 

April 15, 2012. Spring beach camping at #37 and our evening view.

April 16, 2012. End of second day of Spring beach camping.

August 15, 2012. Gorgeous, golden sunset during our first evening of beach camping at site #37.

August 16, 2012. Purple hue sunset on our second evening. 

Of course, most of my days are spent at home and sunsets by the ocean are an occasional treat. However, I have found sunsets can be spectacular just about anywhere. Outside my door steps where I live atop a few mesas east of the ocean, the sunsets can be stunningly dramatic. 

September 2006. Sunsets of past years, view from my front yard.

 November 2006. Across my small street, my neighbors palm tree and beautiful purple, pink sunset.

I even have a picture of an October sunset from my parents house (my childhood home) in Spring Valley, CA. Spring Valley is further inland about 12 miles east from where I live today. As you can see, the sunset colored sky is still so simply beautiful.

October 2011. A view of sunset and moon from my parents front yard.

According to Oscar Wilde "sunsets are old-fashioned". But I think many of those who witness these stunning scenes of colored infused skies might disagree. What's old is new again and that is what every sunset is like to me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Latest Paper Dolls

It has been months since I last made new paper dolls. With my boys on summer vacation and Carlos busy training for his first triathlon, I haven't had much time to sit down and make my paper dolls. However, with a couple of late nights (Carlos and the boys asleep) I decided to take the opportunity to do the one craft I really love doing...make paper dolls! 

I thought it would be neat to not only show my latest dolls but to also talk about the inspiration in creating each doll. 

My Mermaid Paper Doll No. 65 "Sun-Bleached" was inspired by my favorite beach finds, white sun-bleached seashells and driftwood branches. I imagined this sun-bleached look is how a pretty mermaid bride would want her summer wedding dress to look like.

Part of my personal beach find collection.

Mermaid Paper Doll No. 65 "Sun-Bleached" from my Etsy Shop, Rock Paper Tekla.

The next paper doll is Mermaid Paper Doll No. 66 "Chinoiserie". Chinoiserie is a french term signifying a style in art reflecting Chinese qualities. In fashion, chinoiserie clothing tends to mix Eastern and Western stylistic elements in both decoration and shape. I wanted my "Chinoiserie" Doll to embody the structured silhouette of the Chinese dress, Cheongsam, and the look of chinoiserie embroidery.

Paul Poiret Coat, ca. 1919. Metropolitan Museum of Art "The cylindrical silhouette and standing collar suggest inspiration from Chinese or Near Eastern robes and coats".

Zac Posen Gown Posen's Fall Runway 2012 collection is Asian-inspired with gowns and dresses transformed with "origami folds, chinoiserie embroidery, and kimono-draping.

These next two paper dolls are part of my new collection called Menagerie Paper Dolls. They are my odds and ends assortment of craft + art paper dolls using mainly stamps made by Catherine Moore and Kimberly Crick. I absolutely love their stamps especially the detail made from each stamp. They are both Angel Companies which allow you to use their stamps to create your own art and sell them.

My first Menagerie doll is called "Watercolor Waves". I love Claude Monet's painting "Reflections of Clouds on Water Lily Pond" and I was reminded of it when I saw these gorgeous craft papers at a local paper shop. I knew I had to make a doll that captured the serene beauty of Monet's painting.

Claude Monet's Reflections of Clouds on Water Lily Pond at Museum of Modern Art, New York (Photo: Wikipedia)

The second paper doll from my Menagerie collection is "Birds, Buttons, and Bows". Inspired by antique French flea market finds, she is what I imagine I might stumble upon when shopping in a little village in the south of France. She is nothing short of charming!

Page from Sebastian Siraudeau's book Vintage French Interiors
The book is about finding antique flea market finds.

I am always amazed by how even the smallest inspiration or bit of passion for something can metamorphose into a whole other passion, which for me, are my paper dolls. I really hope this evolution of passions continues for as long as my mind can keep rethinking and recreating.  

Thanks for reading! Enjoy your day!