Home Tour: My Backyard Garden

Welcome to my backyard garden.  I am excited to share the journey of building this backyard garden.  It is definitely still a work in progress.  But isn’t that the definition of a garden?

I adore mature landscaping.  With that in mind, my goal in the first year was to get the “infrastructure plants” in, so the garden could begin maturing.

August is near the end of our dry season in the west.  When the rain starts, so does the growing season, and I didn’t want to miss a day of that!

With that goal in mind, let’s have a look around, shall we?

Until last year when the home was built, this land was a cow pasture and literally millions of years of weeds grass.

And on this day 1-year ago, The Hubs and I got the keys to our new home.

SEVEN MONTHS of decisions, planning, waiting, watching…

and waiting…

and waiting…


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The Bombe Chest That Started A Blog

Most of my childhood I didn’t have a bedroom.  My bedroom was in the living room.

I had a “hideaway” bed that I pulled out every. single. night.

And folded up every. single. morning.

With FIVE brothers, I can assure you this was not an ideal situation.

When I “became a grown-up”, I was excited to just have a normal bed.  One that doesn’t fold.  One that doesn’t come with seat cushions.  One that doesn’t smell like boy farts.

You know.  Just a normal bed.

I loved having a normal bed.  It was as awesome as I imagined it to be.

But to this day, I wonder why I didn’t put my handy skills to work and make a headboard for my bed.  I guess I was too busy making fish tank stands to hold 175 pounds of salt water and ocean life.

About 8 years ago, The Hubs and I finally made an investment in a bed frame.  Best idea EVER!

Walking into our bedroom and seeing the bed made my heart sing.

What can I say.  I’m a simple girl with simple dreams.

I loved that bed frame to pieces, but when we moved to the new house, we decided to go up to a KING size.  And that style had been discontinued.  Yes.  I wanted to buy the same bed again in the larger size.  I guess that makes me a dork.

If the bed looks familiar, it’s because I put it in the Guest Suite in the new house.

For our new bedroom, I shopped high and low, and kept going back to this beauty:

via ethanallen.com

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A Ribbon Eel Cloud

Many moons ago, I had a reef tank.

Then I had TWO reef tanks.

Then I moved to a new place, and everything was dead the first morning at the new apartment.

Animals that I had kept for many years.

Many purple, blue, and yellow tangs, clowns, anemones, coral, shrimps, tons of snails,  200+ pounds of live rock, and ~100 pounds of live sand.  As well as other animals I have forgotten with the passage of time.

To see all these animals dead–and all at once, was devastating.

After a while I started up one tank again.  I came home one day to the beautiful (new) Blue Tang lying on the floor.  She had jumped out of the tank and died on the floor before I found her.

All the deaths were just too much for me.

I sold 2 100-gallon tanks, a bad ass skimmer, 2 metal halide lamps, and tons of customized plumbing (built by moi!), all to a guy from Tahoe with 10 kids.

When I saw this cloud, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Ribbon Eel.  I never kept a Ribbon Eel, but I could spot one in a line up with one eye closed.

A Ribbon Eel seems to always have her mouth wide open to the water’s surface.

Clouds that make familiar shapes make me happy.

Someday I will spot marching elephants.  Just like the ones I saw on Sesame Street.

I hope there will be a camera nearby.  Like the day a Ribbon Eel appeared from the clear blue sky.

A Ribbon Eel Cloud


ISO 400

Focal Length 40 mm

Aperture f/11

Shutter Speed 1/800

No Flash

The Cow And The Bird

I couldn’t resist sharing this series of shots I captured with a super duper zoom lens.

Now pay attention.

The birds around here wear camouflage.

Watch the head.

A Cow And A BirdComing in for a landing.

A Cow And A BirdChecking for fleas.

A Cow And A BirdGot one.

A Cow And A BirdNow it’s time to go.

A Cow And A BirdI hope the bird scratched the cow’s itch while she was up there.

The least one could do for this poor pregnant mother.


ISO 400

Focal Length 190mm

Aperture f/10

Shutter Speed 1/500

No Flash


How To Fold A Fitted Sheet

For years and years and years and years and…

I dreaded taking a fitted sheet off the clothesline or out of the dryer.

How To Fold A Fitted Sheet

How To Fold A Fitted Sheet

In the beginning it was the *only* fitted sheet, so it went back on the bed, but after many years, I scrounged up the money to buy a second sheet, and that’s when I began fretting over this fitted sheet business.

Many years later, I got good at making a weird ball of the fitted sheet, and having one “clean edge”, that faced out on the shelf.

But the sheet was always super wrinkly after, and what girl likes wrinkles!?

It would just have to do, cuz I had no idea how to make it better.

Then one day I was watching Martha Stewart.

This was before she went to jail.

I think.

And she had this random tip on how to fold a fitted sheet.

Since that day, my life in the linen closet has never been the same.

[Read more...]

Getting Started Sewing: How To Wind A Bobbin

When I bought my first sewing machine, everything about sewing was totally foreign to me.

I went through the manual step-by-step trying to figure out how to wind a bobbin.  After much frustration, I scoured the internet high and low looking for online tutorials for my machine, the Brother CS6000i.


I know there’s at least one person out there doing what I did…cuz you know…great minds do think alike.


Every machine is slightly different, so grab your manual and follow along.

Today I am going to share how to wind a bobbin on the Brother CS6000i Sewing Machine.

I don’t know how experienced seamstresses or tailors do it, but I am guessing that having a few threaded bobbins lying around ready-to-go keeps a project moving along.

How To Thread Bobbins - Brother CS6000i Sewing Machine

When you’re buying bobbins, keep in mind that sizes vary depending on the machine.

It was easy for me to find the size for my machine at the local fabric store, and now I have a pretty decent stash.

Tutorial: How To Wind A Bobbin

Step 1

Load thread on the spool pin.

Use the handy illustrations on the top of the machine to get the thread placement just right.

Winding A Bobbin - Brother CS6000i

Step 2

Wind the thread clockwise around the bobbin 4 or 5 times, then pass the end of the thread through the guide slit in the bobbin winder seat.

Cut the extra thread with the thread cutter.

Winding A Bobbin - Brother CS6000i

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My First Sewing Machine – Brother CS6000i

So my post, Miss MacGyver Teaches Me How To Sew has got you itching to learn how to sew.

This post is for you.

The Brother has been a great intro-plus machine for $151.99 (and free shipping!).

From Amazon’s website, features include:

  • Free-arm computerized sewing machine; with 60 stitch functions, 7 styles of 1-step buttonholes, and variety of snap-on presser feet
  • Computerized stitch selection on LCD screen; with auto threading, tension control dial, and auto-set drop-in bobbin
  • 110-volt machine operated with either foot pedal or 1-touch button for start, stop, and reverse stitching; dual LED light
  • Accessories include wide table accessory for quilting and more; hard cover case protects in storage

Click here to learn more about the Brother CS6000i Sewing Machine.

Sewing Machine - Brother CS6000i

And to read about why 658 people love this machine on Amazon reviews.

Stay tuned for my first tutorial on sewing.

Getting Started: How To Wind A Bobbin.

***Brother is not a sponsor.

Miss MacGyver Teaches Me How To Sew

When my Big Young’un was just a Baby Young’un, I was talking to my out-of-state cousin on the phone about Motherhood.  The whole Motherhood thing was new to me, and she had 3 under her belt (and they were all still little), so I knew she could relate.

There’s nothing like talking to another mom while she is still in it.

I’m convinced that as soon as our kids start getting bigger, we forget the timeline of baby development.  Perhaps I’ve heard too many stories of babies who could sing the ABC song at 12-months-old.  I’m pretty sure that didn’t really happen, but someone really told me that.

When my own 12-month-old couldn’t even point out an A, a B, or a C.

When Young’un #2 was born, there were a whole lot of times I said to myself, “geez, I forgot all about this part!”  And my girls are only 22 months apart!

S’ok that parents of adult children remember things differently, right?  I’m sure it’s mother nature’s way of ensuring a future generation.

My cousin made a recommendation that would turn out to be some of the best advise I’ve ever been given in my lifetime.  And I thank my lucky stars everyday that I made the effort to do as she suggested.

Her advise?  Sign up for a Gymboree class.

My cousin assured me that I would meet tons of other moms there, in the same boat.  If nothing else, it would be a way for Baby Young’un and me to get out of the house. [Read more...]

Motherhood: 5 Things I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago

My oldest young’un is gonna be 5-years-old soon (whoa!!!).

Denise Holding The Little Young'un

5 years ago this month (August) I officially left my career.

This time 5 years ago, I was executing a plan 6 months in the making to move a complete data center from one city to another for Nokia.  It was a large project in terms of “this isn’t something companies do every day”.  But a small project in terms of my previous experience and capabilities.

There were lots of suits pacin’ around, wringing their hands and looking for reassurance that there wasn’t a single hiccup (and there wasn’t).  I sat quietly as I always do in front of my Cisco gear typing away until the very last piece of iron was hummin’ and passin’ packets.

My 7-month baby bump barely noticeable.  The only butterflies in my stomach was her dancing to her own rhythm just as she does now.

Denise Pregnant With The Young'un

In a period of 6 hours we (me and a bunch of big muscle-y types) had moved about 15 racks packed with network gear, servers and patch panels from a data center in San Jose to a data center in Mountain View.  OK…the muscle-y guys did most of the heavy lifting while I gave the thumbs up on pulling plugs and moving copper.

via Google Images

I am proud to say it was a very well-orchestrated move and my users were offline for about the amount of time it took to physically drive the equipment from one facility to another.

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How To Grow A Surprise Vegetable Garden

Pay attention, this might get complicated.

Let’s start with some basics.

I care just a little bit about the environment (and animals).

After all…to know me is to understand why I am Vegan (most of the time).

I do what I can.  When I can.

I recycle.

I undercycle.

I upcycle.

I downcycle.

I overcycle.

I even stalk Freecycle.  Every morning.

To know me is to understand the triangle on packaging.  And perhaps more importantly, what it means when there is NO triangle on the packaging.

That being said.  I also *love* gardening.  I don’t think I need to use metaphors here.  If you keep reading my blog you’ll know how much I love gardening the way you know when you’ve gotta pee.  It’ll be that familiar.

I also avoid pesticides and fertilizers the way a Snowman avoids a hot summer day.

Given my (somewhat) Mother Earth style, and my urge to satisfy my inner kumbaya, I decided to start a compost.  That was years ago.  When I was finally ready to pull the trigger and buy a composter, we decided to move so my grand plan for gardener’s gold was put off another 2 years.

As soon as we got settled at the new place, I went out and got a composter.  The Earth Machine, to be exact.

A Surprise Vegetable Garden - Earth Machine

Things were going great.

I was satisfying my crunchy side.

Saving Mother Earth from exploding one bread crumb and compostable plate at a time.

***Side note:  I just have to say how proud I am of my family.  We had 40+ people over for dinner, and this was the entire amount of trash that went to the Landfill!

Signs For Food Waste, Recycle, And Landfill

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