Category Archives: House and Garden

Getting Dirty

I’m not going to lie. Starting a date with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, moving on to a fancy dinner with wine and a decadent dessert, and ending the night with rose-petal strewn sheets is romantic as hell.

Other things rating highly on the romance scale? A significant other who throws in a load or three of laundry without being asked, or does the dishes if you cook, or thinks it’s sexy to get dirty–outside.

It’s spring, when a young man’s fancy gently turns to thoughts of love…of tomatoes and green beans. Technically we have another month to go before we plant, but the snow is gone so it’s time to prep the garden beds. I need to  pull the weeds that have sprung up since the spring melt, loosen the snow-packed dirt, and dig out all the little critters who made their winter burrows in my topsoil. Then I can get to the gardening portion of gardening.

Shovelling wheelbarrows of topsoil and weeding isn’t innately romantic, but spending time with the object of your affections is, no matter what you’re doing. Fortunately for me, we both enjoy gardening. (I almost said being outside, but that might lead to camping, and I’m too old for a no-electricity, no-running-water, mosquito-filled campsite.) A yard – even a small one – is a big job, and it’s much easier to keep it in line with two people. When it comes to gardens, one person can keep them running, but two is more efficient. Plus, puttering around in silence has its own charms.

Even better, puttering in a vegetable garden leads to vegetables in the second half of summer. Also romantic? Cuddling on the sofa planning out where to put a new garden and what to plant in it. Cooking said vegetables together is another great couples activity (unless your kitchen is the size of a postage stamp and you are constantly in each other’s way.)

I’m going to get lots of gardening in this summer. I’m redoing my front flower beds; the perennials currently there are out of control, so I’m pulling them all. I’m also putting in a new vegetable garden in the back yard. My list includes: tomatoes, raspberries, zucchini, carrots, green onions, green and yellow beans, and peas. And maybe something green and leafy.  Oh, yeah, my garden brings all the rabbits to the yard 🙂

So, gardening. All kinds of romantic. Sadly, it’s not a common setting for books. Ranchers, yes. Farmers, less so. I don’t write either. I do have a florist and a landscaper coming up (in separate books), but that’s as close as I’ve come in Romancelandia.  If you have any that you’d recommend, please let me know in the comments.

(This post originally appeared on the Romance Eh? Canadian Style blog. Over a dozen Canadian romance writers post about love and life every month, so feel free to check it out.)

Bring it on

 My timing is exceptional, if not last-minute. My house is completely winterized and just in time. The first snow-that-stuck arrived last week. The day before I did the last of my outdoor chores.

I hung the birdfeeders in places I could see from my windows because I like watching the variety of birds in my neighbourhood. (I even got different styles of feeders and seed so I could attract different types of birds.) I think next year I need to get another post so I can hang out outside my kitchen window too.

I also finally cleaned out my gutters. Unfortunately, some of the gunk was frozen to the bottom of the eavestroughs but I cleared out enough loose leaves so that the water can run when thaws again… in March. What a depressing thought.

My shovels are at the backdoor and have been used 4 times already. My gate is working so far – I really hope it doesn’t get frost heaved again this year so I have to leave it open all the time. My extension cord for my block heater is plugged in and is waiting for its first use of the season which, from the sounds of it, will be tonight.

The only thing I didn’t do this year was buy and put up new Christmas lights. I had to save something for next year.

Are you ready for winter? If not, get on it. It’s only going to get worse from here on out.

The Unpredictibility of Trees

Last week, while Winnipeg was experiencing a heat wave worthy of July, I grabbed my camera and wandered through residential areas for two hours, snapping pictures of all the gorgeous leaves and trees (and I can’t share them with you because I can’t find my cord.)

Here’s the thing.

My across-the-street neighbour has a tree which, I assumed, was exactly like every other tree on the street. Apparently not. Her tree dropped all of its leaves last week. It’s bare. She spent the weekend outside with a leaf blower and her front yard looks pristine and green.

My tree, however, still has a few green leaves yet among all the yellows, and they are all still attached. Unfortunately, I have leaves that have blown into my yard and are thick around the edges of the driveway and the street.

I don’t know whether to get out there and do a quick clean up, or be that person and save my energy until my own leaves fall. Until it drives me nuts to look out the window, I think I’ll leave them. I’m going to say they are a part of the autumn experience and should be enjoyed as long as possible.

PS – this wouldn’t be an issue if those darned trees got organized. Oaks and elms, unite!

Don’t call me Mike Holmes

Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor, maybe. He screwed things up, right?

So, I tried a home renovation project this week. Here’s a picture of my results:

I’m not a complete idiot. I know I’m a rookie at this type of thing. That’s why I’ve got two different handymen and a plumber on speed dial. But I was painting a shelf! How hard could it be?

Two years ago (yes, two, I was busy) I had a small bay window in my kitchen replaced and the bottom board which formed the “shelf” and the top piece that made the “ceiling” were both untreated plywood. I knew they had to be painted and I thought that white would look nice. Each area was about five square feet. I figured I could paint that myself. Since I intend to paint my bedroom later this fall, this would be good practice. Besides, it’s painting. How hard could it be?

I went out and bought a small tin of white trim paint for kitchens and bathrooms. Because, really, all the shelf and the ceiling are is trim. Then I got to work.

It didn’t work. In fact, the entire coat of paint was sucked into the plywood until nothing was left but a faint shine. Since I was pretty sure paint is supposed to go ON wood and not IN it, I picked up the paint can and read the instructions again. This time, I read the entire label, and found a line I missed.

“Apply to primer.”

Primer? Undercoat? Hmm. That sounds like it was an important step. Unfortunately, I’ve been told that I can’t simply apply another layer of paint to the wood. I have to sand off my first layer, put on a coat of primer, and then paint it again.

Tune in next week where I’ll learn how to sand!