April 25, 2013

I wanted to post some pictures to show the growth of the backyard in the months since I planted everything. Everything is growing like crazy!


September 15, 2012

The last section of my Love Shack¬†Project make-over is the back patio!¬†¬†Like the¬†garden side, the patio is also long and narrow, but the patio side has a smooth cement floor and is about a foot wider ( 4′ x 20′).¬† That extra foot gives me enough room to actually have some tables and chairs out there!

My first task was to re-hang the large wooden door so that it opens out, instead of in;  thus freeing up that previously unusable space.  Next, I used the left over exterior paint to paint the unfinished section under the covered roof, the wooden door,  and the electrical housing.  Once that was finished, I put up a few hooks so I could neatly hang the ladder, tools, and hose.

To break up the length of the patio and add texture and intimacy, I decided to build an arbour!  This was very simple.  I  bought 5 ladder trellises from  Home Depot,  and placed 4 of them ( 2 on each side) against the walls of my patio alley.  Then I connected them across the top with few lengths of redwood.  Lastly, I took the remaining 5th trellis and laid it across the top, between them, as the roof.

Next, I added¬† 2 sets of tables and chairs, both of which I got free from¬†Craig’s List.¬† They were all mis-matched colors, so I simply¬†spray painted¬†everything white to¬†match.¬† I also spray painted my metal utility shelves, planter boxes and baskets; ¬†and just about anything else that was going to be on the patio!¬† Spray painting makes matching easy, however, its messy!¬† Make sure you have a large drop cloth, plastic gloves and booties on your feet! ( I spray painted my feet and ruined a pair of sandals¬†and¬†a pedicure the first time!)

Lastly, I added some plants and climbing vines to start climbing up the arbour;  and for the finishing touch,  wove white twinkle lights throughout all the trellises on both the patio side and the garden side.

The first time I turned on the lights was amazing!  I had created my own private, magical, oasis;  perfect for entertaining very small parties!  I am thrilled with the result!

Thank you!

Here are two before pix:

And this is my pretty patio now!

August 4, 2012

Here are some updated pictures, showing how well my alley garden is coming along!  It is flourishing, despite the ongoing assault from the public urinators and deficators!!  ( EEWWW!!!)

I am currently working on trying to finish the kitchen and patio side of the back yard!


July 22, 2012

For the past two weeks, I have been working on the back yard!¬†¬†¬† Trying to transform a¬†tiny¬† 3′ by 20′ strip of dirt into¬†an¬†oasis of peace and tranquility.¬† ¬†This¬†turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated!

The¬†¬†dirt I brought in when I first started these renovations¬†had a lot of clay in it,¬†and over the last couple months had hardened into one¬†solid rock!¬† This all had to be broken¬†up and mixed with¬†lots of organic materials!¬† Translation,¬† lots more manual labor and hauling manure!¬†¬† I ended up¬†doubling the depth of the dirt,¬† and as a result,¬† needed to add¬†¬†two more rows of¬† bricks to¬†separate the house walls from the dirt, which I got from Awesome Al’s construction site!¬† This time, Al was there with all of his sons, and they loaded¬†¬†the bricks¬†into my car for me!¬† What a nice family!

After I¬† got the bricks and¬†dirt taken care of, my next task was¬†to install a fence.¬† I wanted¬† more privacy, but didn’t¬†want to completely obliterate the sun by making a huge shadow;¬† so I decided to go with¬†couple rolls of reed fencing.¬† They are inexpensive and easy to install!

I didn’t¬†want to drill into the cinderblock wall to secure my fence, ¬†so I let the¬† helpful¬† folks at Home depot direct me to a concrete adhesive, which¬†I applied in small spots with¬†a caulking gun, all along the top and bottom of the wall.¬† Then I cut small ¬†lengths of rebar¬†wire and inserted then into the adhesive¬†so that when it dried,¬†I would have a whole bunch of tie wires to attach my fence to.¬† ( It was kinda like making cookies!)

It worked perfectly!   I was able to easily unroll the fence and secure it to the wall.  I then  also used the same  tie wires to secure trellises to the fence!   I put up 3 fan-shaped trellises and one large ladder  trellis right in front  of the  back door.  I shortened the ladder trellis and used the  cut pieces to extend the middle section.

After that, I  was able to finally start planting all the plants that had been patiently waiting to go in  the ground!    I also bought a few flowers and climbing vines  for my trellises.    I planted all the succulents that my wonderful friend Uzi had given me as a house-warming present.  ( they have grown a LOT over the past few months!)

Next,  I used  the remaining bricks to make a  walking path down the middle.  As a last touch, I repurposed a discarded wooden end table into a tiny bench by sawing it in half,  making a few alterations and painting it!

While it’s not¬†completely¬†finished yet,¬† it’s starting to look¬†really really ¬†cute!


May 7, 2012

I was reflecting on all the positive people I¬†¬†encountered this weekend; ¬†and¬†every day for that matter, and feeling¬†really lucky.¬† I’ve listened to many of the popular self-help guru’s out there, and¬† agree with them for the most part– but ever since I took action¬†and¬†moved,¬†¬†there’s been¬†a kind of¬†shift!¬†¬†¬† As if I’d turned¬†a corner, and suddenly everything went from grey to color!

Friday¬†I found a¬† small glass shop where they could cut replacements for the 2 slats of glass¬†I¬† broke moving in.¬† (¬†It’s not a party until something breaks, right? )¬† ¬† Tiny Yolanda,¬†cut my glass in all of 3 minutes for only 6$ each!!¬†¬†Who¬† knew¬†¬†glass was so easy to cut!

Then I met up with Martha, who had come to collect¬† my¬† “for free” listing on Craigslist ( you cant’s just take from the circle of life- you have to give as well!)¬†¬†It was a¬†box of beads, crafting supplies,¬†and intentions that never manifested.¬† Martha does craft project with her daughter, and was so happy¬†with my treasure trove of beads, she¬† gave me a big hug.¬†¬†¬† What a sweet lady!

Friday night I took a break, and went to see my beautiful and exquisitely¬†talented¬†friend Juliet in a play.¬†¬† This is the 3rd¬† play I’ve¬†seen her in, and each time¬†am so¬†impressed with her talent and versatility.¬† And not only is she a talented actress, ¬†but also ¬†an amazing soul, ¬†and¬† an army¬† onto herself of productivity and organization.¬†¬†¬† Every time I see her, I’m inspired on so many levels.

Saturday, Remarkable Rita, a friend for many years,  came over to see my place and  brought me a 4 beautiful rose trees, lavender, and geraniums!   WOW!  We had a really nice visit and she even bought me lunch! How cool is that,  plants and lunch!

Sunday I met up with Ames and his wife, Рa super  cute and positive couple with the best yard in Lareda Heights- and they gave me a huge papyrus tree, and beautiful pot and flower seeds!! WOW!

It was¬† a really¬† good week-end and¬†I have enough plants¬†to create a beautiful oasis!¬† ¬†Los Angeles is full of angels!¬† They’re everywhere!¬† You just have to¬† open your¬† eyes!

I feel  lucky!


Here are some pictures on the Rose trees and  Papyrus  tree!

May 4, 2012

Feeling somewhat recovered from¬†my¬†overexertion,¬† I was ready to get back to work on the back yard!¬†¬†¬†¬†First, I¬†finished laying the bricks at the¬†end, by the fence; ¬†and¬†in a weird little accidental miracle or perfect planning,¬† used every single brick!¬†¬† I¬†didn’t have any left over and didn’t need any!!¬† ¬†I have no idea how that worked out so perfectly!¬† ¬†¬† However, I did need more dirt!

So¬†it¬†was¬†back to Awesome Al’s construction¬†site for another ¬†load of dirt.¬†(Hopefully my¬†last– because ¬†I’m really, really ¬†tired of hauling dirt!!)¬† Proving that chivalry¬†is not dead,¬† Awesome Al shoveled and loaded¬†¬† 4¬† full wheel barrel’s of dirt into my truck;¬† all while wearing his dress shoes!¬†¬†¬† What a nice man!

I got back home and used some of the dirt to re-pot 2 of the plants from the weekend into bigger pots, ( they thanked me), and then emptied the rest into the backyard.¬†¬† And then, finally….. I planted something!!¬† I planted the Bougainvillea Bush from Marvelous Melissa at the end of the yard by the fence.¬† I think it will look pretty there when it grows in.¬†¬† YAY!¬†¬† Its starting to look really nice!

Now I have to decide what to plant along the  brick wall?  Something tall and thin, for privacy.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the dirt pile in my truck and the end result!

May 1, 2012

My little cottage had been vacant for quite sometime before I moved in;¬† and apparently it’s porch had been a frequent pit-stop for transients and vagrants.¬†¬† My second night here, I surprised one gentleman in the middle of loosening¬† his pants with,¬† “Please don’t¬†pee on my porch”,¬† through the window!¬†¬† He left pretty quickly, and I¬†hoped that was the end of it, until¬† Sunday morning I woke up to find¬† trash and salsa all over my porch from someone’s feast… along with a trail of eager ants!

I was annoyed!¬†¬†¬† I wouldn’t¬†make a mess on someone else’s steps!¬† Don’t make mess on mine!¬†¬† After I cleaned it up,¬† I sat down with my morning coffee to check out the free section on Craig’s list,¬†and once again the universe spoke directly to me through Craig’s¬†list!!¬† ( Hey-¬†some people see Jesus¬†on a slice of toast!¬† So there’s nothing¬†wrong with¬†thinking the Universe is reaching out directly¬†to me through Craig’s list!)¬†¬† ” FREE PLANTS”, said the Universe!¬†¬†¬†¬†“Yes”,¬†I said, ”¬†¬†I’m claiming my territory, and that’s just ¬†what I need, lots of plants!”

I quickly raced out to meet Zeke at Avon truck rental- to unburden him from the assorted mass of neglected plants stranded in his parking lot!  Zeke has many sizes of plants,  as well as,  huge terra-cotta pots, palms, & plant stands!   Two of which were so large and heavy, we needed to use the fork lift to get them up into my car!   It was an entire SUV packed to the brim with plantsРand for the 2nd day in a row that week end, I was doing a slow-crawl across town,  with hazards on  and obstructed visibility!

I got home and unloaded all but the two large ones. ¬† I¬† needed some extra ¬†muscle from the very friendly Edwardo and Nixon, who work at the tile store next¬†door, to move those two!¬† And after much arranging and re-arranging–¬† my little¬† deserted porch is¬†¬†amazingly transformed into somebody’s home!

(I’m not done yet– but it’s a good start!)


Here’s the before and after pictures!

April 30, 2012

My tiny little cottage is severely¬†lacking in storage!¬† Just one tiny, long, narrow, useless closet!¬† Anyone who knows me,¬†¬†is familiar with my very¬†large shoe collection, as well as other clothes, ¬†and therefore¬† in¬† need of someplace to put everything!¬† So with the help of the wonderful free section from ,Craigslist¬†I’m off to meet up with Michael.¬† Michael is a¬† super wonderful, pieces¬†architect, moving to Palm Springs, and in need of someone¬†to take all his beautiful, matching, white shelves!!

Could this be a more perfect match??!!  The universe really does love me!Рor at least wants me to put away my clothes!

Michael lives all the way on top¬† of one of those¬† super, tiny, winding, canyon roads– and then down another VERY steep driveway!¬† It’s very¬†pretty– but I cannot even imagine how difficult it would¬†be to move, or build a home with that kind of limited access!– or even worse– how could a fire truck ever maneuver through all that!!

I pull up, and Michael is extremely impressed that I actually found it ( the road signs seem very contradictory at a few turns).  He is sitting in a garage full or about 15 beautiful matching tall white wall shelves with gorgous glass wear on them.  He seems very organised and with a great sense of design.  ( perfect for an architect!)

We proudly load up 4 full shelves into the back of my truck-¬†and¬† im¬†already ¬†on my¬†way¬† back for my 1st trip!¬†¬† YAY!¬† I start up¬†his very steep ¬†driveway,¬†¬†and¬†am about halfway up when I¬†hear a very¬† bad noise…. shelf-gone-wild-¬†sliding out the back , onto¬†the driveway,¬†and¬†towards Michael.¬† ¬†OPPS!¬†¬† Luckily¬†the shelf survives and¬† thankfully, avoids¬†impaling ¬†Michael!¬†¬† We¬† sheepishly, reload¬†the shelf, making¬†sure its more secure this time! —¬† I start off again, hazards on, ¬†driving extra slow- and fearing decapitation the entire time!¬† Luckily I make it back without accident, arrest, or injury!

I unloaded, and¬†head¬†back for round two to michael’s.¬†¬†¬† When I got back,¬†¬†we first take¬†¬†a huge load of items to donate to¬†the nearby Out of the Closet Store, ¬†and then load up my truck with round two!¬† ¬†I ended up making 3 full trips.¬† (12 shelves and a huge terracotta pot!¬†)¬†¬†Apologies to¬†¬†anyone stuck driving behind my slow crawl with hazards on across ¬†town!

THANK YOU MICHAEL!¬†¬†¬† I now have shelving!!¬† TONS of shelving!!¬† Now,¬†¬†how to arrange¬†it all!! ¬†¬†It’s a¬†huge mess- and every single part of my body hurts!


April 27, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot ¬†about fate and destiny and the universe¬†¬†lately.¬†¬†Wondering if¬†there’s really¬†some¬† kind of¬†plan for any of us-¬†or¬†¬† are we all just tripping over destiny?¬† Can you¬† really read the future in tea leaves?–¬† or is the tea-leaf reader just very good at interpreting what you need in your life into the shapes in the tea?¬† Does the universe really send you signs- or do you¬† just think you see a sign?¬†¬† Or maybe, destiny is just a matter of being open to possibilities and¬†the willingness to follow wherever they make you?

In my case, it was a broken down car that finally pushed me out of the rut I’d¬†been in;¬† forcing me to take action and step outside of my comfort zone.¬† ¬†As a result,¬† I found myself, ¬†late at night, in a random parking lot; and quite literally tripped¬† over destiny and looked up to see¬†a sign from the universe right in front of my face.¬†¬† The sign said, “For Rent”.

Since then, I have tried to continue following the signs-¬†and they¬† have led¬†me to so many interesting and fabulous people who I would¬† never have met otherwise.¬† Everyone of them has a story.¬† Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do?¬† Tell their stories, as they guide me along my¬† path?

I went back to Obi-Wan Melissa today,  & not only did I  get the last of  the dirt for the back yard, a beautiful Bougainvillea bush, & a stature for my garden,  but I also  met her very  besotted boy-friend!    What a great couple!

Do you believe in destiny??

Here’s a picture of my finished¬†dirt pile, Bougainvillea¬† bush, and statue!


April 25, 2012

My love ( yes-¬†there’s someone putting the love in the¬†shack… omg-¬†that sounds kinda¬†wrong)¬† suggested that I fill in the one side with dirt-¬†so that i¬†can¬† plant my garden and a treed privacy wall.¬† That sounded like a great idea-¬†and since its so small-¬†only¬† 3 feet¬†by 17 feet – sounded pretty easy.¬† So¬†I went on Craigslist, and¬† responded to a listing for ” free dirt” ¬†from a¬† nearby couple that lived nearby that had a pile of dirt left over from their own backyard excavation.¬† They were very nice-¬†and¬† to my good fortune-¬†even loaded the dirt for me into my¬† car.¬†¬†¬† They were happy to finally be getting rid of their massive dirt pile haunting their back yard-¬† and I suspect-¬†also took pity on my feeble attempt to load and maneuver¬†the wheel barrel!¬† – Or perhaps they were just¬† saving themselves from the inevitable pile of dirt landing upon their lawn when¬†I eventually lost control of¬† their very wobbly wheel barrel.¬†¬† So the husband very nicely loaded up the back of my¬†SUV¬†(¬†I¬†put a couple of old sheets down on the way-back) with 4 full wheel barrel loads twice on saturday¬†and once on sunday.¬†¬†3 carloads!! ¬† I then unloaded them from my truck to the backyard with a plastic waste basket from the bathroom.¬† Not very much – and slow going- but sadly, that’s all¬†I could carry.¬† ( I’m much weaker that I realized!)

So I spent a great part of the week-end trudging back and forth with my dirt-  and have only managed to fill about 2/3 of the space and every part of my  body hurts!   Hopefully the nice couple will still have some more dirt for me this week-end!

here’s what I have so far….

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