Cotoneaster

Pretty much the only thing I’m happy with in my yard is the hedge along the street. It’s a plant called Cotoneaster (Blankmispel in Norwegian), or more specifically Cotoneaster lucidus.

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You can just see the tiny pink flowerlets that are blooming right now. In the fall it turns spectacular colors, and it has a funky, spikey shape that I enjoy. It’s definitely staying.

There are one or two cotoneaster plants in the existing hedge that aren’t doing so well, so I’d like to replace them. I’d also like to wrap the hedge continuously around the corner so that it shields my yard more from the path up to the front door. You can see what that corner looks like currently in this photo, taken from my kitchen window on the second floor:

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The plant currently in the corner is some kind of very strange rose variety that has almost no blooms, blocks my neighbor’s view from her kitchen window, is extremely difficult to trim, and is basically invasive (it’s starting to expand into the cotoneaster hedge, and seems to be killing it off). It’s actually much larger than it looks in this picture — well over 2 meters tall. The idea would be to take out the rose and replant the corner with more cotoneaster plants all the way to the gravel walkway and then along the walk for a few meters, maybe up to where the small shrub is in the picture.

That small shrub is a jasmine, which I like, except that it’s awkwardly placed and basically in the way. I was thinking that if the cotoneaster hedge were to end there, then the jasmine could just stay where it is, kind of marking the “entrance” to my yard. Perhaps a small, low storage unit could be tucked into that corner? Something like this (from the Bike Shed Company):

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You can also just glimpse a stump (which would probably have to be removed) between the rose and the jasmine, as well as a round manhole cover. There have been major problems with the water line that runs parallel with the hedge through my entire yard. This actually poses a really big challenge for gardening, since I probably should keep that corridor of the yard totally free from plants and structures.

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Phase Two

My son and I are essentially completely settled into the apartment now, and it no longer feels new and strange; instead, it just feels like home (though we do still occasionally congratulate ourselves on living in such a nice apartment).

Things do feel a little bit empty, though, in the sense that I miss having such a huge and absorbing project to focus on. I felt like the renovation pushed my creative and aesthetic abilities quite a bit, and that was very satisfying. I spent the past weekend thinking about what to do next, and there are two obvious areas I could focus on. One is rebuilding and then kitting out my balcony, and the other is dealing with the small yard that comes with the apartment.

The balcony will have to wait, as that would be a major construction job and cost quite a bit. I’m just going to let it continue to rot until I can save up enough to do it properly. Neighbors across the street have plans to build a huge addition with big windows that face onto my balcony, and that may affect how I chose to reconfigure it. A balcony renovation will also entail a bunch of interaction with my, er, challenging downstairs neighbor (since I would need to get approval for any rebuild, and it would affect the patio area below significantly), which I’m just not up to facing yet, after all the strife from the renovation.

That leaves me with the yard, which I fully admit is a fiasco right now. It wraps around one corner of the fourplex I live in. It is thankfully almost entirely surrounded by hedges. This is especially useful right now since it is just a huge mess of waist-high weeds (I kid you not; see photographic evidence below!).

You can see most of the quadrant of the lot that I’m responsible for in the photo below; my yard includes the area up to the front door. The open window to the left is my neigbhor’s bedroom window, and the large window to the left of the front door is my neighbor’s kitchen window. See the weeds? I did weed whack most of them yesterday, and will be hiring someone to take care of the rest later this week, but still. They’re awful:

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I spend as little time as possible in the yard because it has no privacy whatsoever from my neighbor, since her windows command a panopticon-like view of the entire area. This is sad, because I grew up in a family of avid gardeners, and I have always wanted to reconnect with that.

This weekend I spent hours and hours perusing gardening websites and Pinterest boards, looking for inspiration for what I can do with my yard. I’m particularly interested in figuring out ways to use hardscaping and plants to create some privacy, so that there are areas in the yard I can putter in without feeling like my neighbor is watching my every move. It’s a pretty big challenge, given the layout of the yard and the position of the windows. I may need to consult with a garden planner or landscape architect in order to work out an optimal plan.

I’d really like it to be a “working” garden as well, with fruit trees and berry bushes and raised beds. I’d like secure storage for bikes and yard tools, and I’d like and outdoor eating and lounging space that is blocked from view. And of course I want to cut down on difficult maintenance issues and increase the aesthetic appeal of the space. Too much to ask? Stay tuned! I won’t be doing anything until next spring, but I think I’ll use this blog for planning throughout the year to come.

Here are some more shots. From here it can only get better, right?

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(from the path leading to the front door, looking toward the  fourplex to the south)

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(from the front steps, showing the hedge separating the yard from the street and the adjacent garages)

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(from my south-facing living room window, looking down on the wild hedges that separate my yard from the neighbors to the south and from my downstairs neighbor’s yard to the west)

Wish me luck!

 

 

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Catching up

Eeep. I seem to have forgotten to blog recently. There haven’t been many changes, but I’ve added another piece of used furniture to help contain the junk that accrues. I wanted an old highboy of some kind, and as luck would have it, I found a nice used one listed for sale in a nearby neighborhood. My very kind ex helped me pick it up and carry it in:

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It’s from 1913, and it’s starting to grow on me. Here’s how it looks from another angle:

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Given that everything else is so geometric and square, I like having the contrast of the old, ornate wooden piece. The fact that the wood is a bit lighter than it often is on pieces like this helps integrate it a little with the rest of my furniture too.

I also forgot to post that I finally hemmed my bed curtains and hung up lights. It’s so girly, but I really like it. It’s so cosy to curl up in bed behind the curtains!

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I just wish I hadn’t ordered a blue bedskirt and headboard cover. At some point I’ll change them to something more neutral.

Other than that, I had a photograph framed and want to get some other artwork up on the walls. I’ll try to get that done over the weekend and post about it. Oh, and I should also post about my dinner party at some point…

Stash storage

Those who only know me through this blog may not be aware that I am a fairly obsessive knitter and crocheter. I have worked pretty hard to cull my stash of yarn, but it is still pretty big. In the past I have had various furniture to store it it, but none of those pieces made it with me through the moves and remodel. I went through two different phases of IKEA cabinets, both of which were too cheap looking to keep. Hence, I have been on the look out for something that might work for the past few months. This week I hit pay dirt!

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I found this metal faux industrial sideboard (?) for sale on finn.no, the Norwegian equivalent of Craig’s List in the US. It is available on this Danish website, but obviously I got it used for a lot less. I put it in my bedroom, and it just clears the window. It was super tight, but my full stash of yarn does actually fit; this really is everything, except for the works in progress that are in a basket next to the sofa.

The glass doors lift up and have a magnetic closure. Most of them stay up when you pull them up, though not all. It also came with wheels, but they were kind of wobbly, so the seller kindly took them off. I can always put them back on if I need to.

I think it looks fantastic and I love being able to actually see the yarn while at the same time containing it behind glass. I hope it inspires me to keep to my goals of crafting from stash and not accumulating too much yarn.

Mirror, illuminated

Today an electrician stopped by to install the lighted mirror in my bathroom. Here’s what it looks like without the light on:

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And here it is illuminated:

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Notice I now have plants! These are the first ones I can remember having since, I don’t know, maybe college? I’m not good with plants, but I can really see how they warm a place up visually, and want to become a Person Who Has Plants. I also splurged and got matching ceramic pots to cover the ugly plastic from the first photo.

This was essentially the last task for the whole renovation that requires someone external to come and do work, so it feels like an actual end point, even though there are many small things that I will be working on.

Minimalism? Hardly.

So I occasionally get accused of being a “minimalist” as if there’s something wrong about that. The ironic thing is, I’m really not that much of a minimalist. I mean, I do aspire to own only things I really need and love, but I’ve got plenty of stuff squirrelled away in my storage room, and my dining room table is currently covered with stuff waiting to be sorted.

Now that I’ve lived here for almost two months, the place is starting to look, well, lived in. I snapped a couple of shots of the living area just before bedtime, after a very lazy weekend on the sofa. Looking toward the sofa, clearly unstaged:

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And here’s looking in the other direction:

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Not exactly minimalist, eh? The stack of artwork will eventually get moved, but other than that, this is basically how it’s going to look, at least until I can afford to buy some nicer bookcases. The director’s chairs are the ones my parents bought when they got married in 1963. This is the first time I’ve ever had them out in my living space, and I’m starting to really dig them, even though they maybe don’t really fit in.

Bed curtains

I’m partway finished with the bed curtains. It was a bear to hang the curtain rod, and I apparently mis-measured the alcove opening by something like two centimeters when I ordered it. I had thought it would fit right into the opening, but instead I had to install it just outside. But it’s up now, and apparently holding. I’ve got two of what will eventually be four curtains up. I’ll have to wash the other two and then hem all four of them, but so far so good:

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I also need to find some of the little plastic brackets that are used for attaching wires to walls here in Norway so that I can hang my Christmas lights along the inside of the curtain rod. If I’m going for girlish, I need to go all the way!

Details, details

It feels like ages since I updated this blog, probably because most everything is done. This week the painters finally finished painting the ceiling in the bathroom, so now literally the only thing left in there to do is the mirror over the sink. The full effect of the bathroom with the finished ceiling looks like this:

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I was actually able to both decide on and purchase a mirror yesterday after work. I got a 60x70cm mirror with LED back lighting at a store called Bauhaus (like a Home Depot, for those of you in the US). It looks like this (photo ganked from the link):

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I need to get an electrician to install it. I wish I had gotten my act together back when I actually had an electrician working here a couple of weeks ago. Now this will be super expensive to install, but that’s (literally) the price you pay for being disorganized. It will be centered over the sink:

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When I was at Bauhaus I noticed they had nice looking shower caddies that fit over the shower hardware. I’ve been thinking one of these would be nice to have, having seen them at one of the tile stores I went to months ago, so I decided to go for it:

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Cool shadows, no?

I also finally picked up a clothes rod and some brackets so that I can start hanging coats in my coat closet. I also had to buy a hacksaw, since none of the rods were the right length. It was much easier to saw through the rod than I was expecting. Here’s the rod in action:

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Yes, all those coats are mine. Norway has a tricky climate and a person needs a lot of coats for all kinds of conditions. I’m really happy with how this storage space turned out. I can get a lot in there, and it’s easy to keep organized. The rest of the hall storage looks like this now:

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It’s a tight little corner of the apartment, but it seems to work ok.

Shower

As I sit down to write this post, I am newly showered, and I am at home. Put two and two together and the astute reader will understand that as of this afternoon I have a fully functioning shower!

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Given that today is 12 April, and I moved back into the apartment on 4 February, I think it’s fair to say that this has been a very long time coming. It was amazing. The size of the stall works perfectly, the door is fabulous, the fan is both quiet and efficient, and I’m really pleased with all the fixtures.

Basically, my bathroom feels like a really nice, upscale hotel bathroom. The layout with everything in place works better than I dared to hope. It really seems like I’ve squeezed the maximum out of this tiny space:

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While it would be a stretch to say it feels spacious, it definitely isn’t cramped. I think having all the surfaces roughly the same neutral color contributes to it appearing more generous than it is. And I have to admit, the more I look at the tiles, the more I like them. I actually think I like them better than I would have liked Microcement, all things considered.

So, yeah. I think that was the best shower I ever took. I almost cried, I was so relieved!

Bathroom storage

Boy, this has been a long time coming; the bathroom cabinets are in!

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They were originally delivered in December, and they’ve been filling up space in my living room and bedroom ever since. Regardless of how I feel about them in the bathroom, it’s wonderful to free up the space elsewhere. I was so sick of looking at those big boxes!

I’m basically really happy with them. The only thing I’m not enthusiastic about is the placement of the knobs on the tall cabinet. If I had been here when the installer was doing this, I would have insisted on having them all the same (either centered or to the right). It will bug me for the duration, but not enough to do anything about it. The difference is because the lowest door hides a pull-out laundry basket that I’ll use for delicates. There’s lots of storage in the tall cabinet, obviously, but also in the two drawers under the sink:

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It will take me a while to figure out what goes where, but I’m positive there’s enough room for everything I use in the bathroom. Currently all my bathroom stuff is in one large drawer in my kitchen, so it will be a luxury to be able to spread it out and organize it better. The sink is of course itty-bitty, since the countertop is so shallow, but that’s fine. I can use the two huge basins in my kitchen sink for activities like hand washing knitted items.

The contractor tells me that the plumber may be able to come in on Monday and install the shower, sink faucet and washing machine. That would be fantastic. I’m very curious to see how well integrated the washing machine will be under the countertop:

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You can see part of the opening for the washing machine to the right in the picture above. It will stick out by a few centimeters, but hopefully won’t be too obtrusive. Also, note how the tall cabinet just barely squeezed in between the door trim and the wall. Phew, that was almost too close for comfort. The room really is tiny; you can sit on the toilet and open the cabinets right in front of you.

The plastic you see in the pictures is up because the painters are working on the ceiling. It’s got some kind of a base coat right now:

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I actually think this is a gorgeous gray-blue, and totally wouldn’t mind if that were the real color. I think the painter has already bough the paint for the final coat, though, so I’ll stick with the plan, which calls for plain white.

The only negative in all this, is that I discovered that the mirror I though I had ordered didn’t get delivered back in December. I’m not quite sure what to do about that, other than to follow up with HTH to see whether it got ordered, paid for and then misplaced, or if I didn’t actually order and pay for it.