Category Archives: Design

The Magic of Landscape Architecture

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The Magic of Landscape Architecture

When we moved into our home twenty-nine years ago, it was nicely landscaped, with a pine tree and a carob tree and two palm trees in the front yard, juniper bushes lining the driveway, shrubs with red-orange berries climbing between the front windows, and an ornamental plum and four cacti along the front walk. The backyard pool was circled with roses and junipers, and a ring of aloes grew among artfully arranged river rock. Three more palms completed our oasis.

As time passed, plants died, one after another. We tried to keep things growing, but raising our five children was our top priority, and frankly, we were cursed with black thumbs. One palm tree died, then the berry bushes and front yard junipers, then the carob tree. (I was actually happy about the carob, because it dropped these ugly, heavy seed pods that were a pain to clean up.) Two of the cactuses died, but the other two grew into monstrosities. I transplanted the aloes to the front yard, where they thrived and multiplied. I tried brightening up the yard with potted flowers, but the desert heat dried them up. An acacia tree sprang up unbidden, like a weed. I let it grow because, hey, it was green, and it didn’t seem to require any water. Then the pine tree died (also a relief, because it shed needles every time the wind blew). I felt as though our house looked like a blighted abandoned building.

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The roses in the back yard passed away early on, because I couldn’t keep up with the aphids. We tired of the junipers and cut them down. After about twenty-five years, my husband gave up dealing with the lawn, and it languished. Another acacia-type tree sprouted in the backyard and proceeded to drop lots of leaves and throw fuzzy green balls into the pool.

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The pool, which we had resurfaced in the 1990s, began to deteriorate, as did the cool deck surrounding it.

Years ago, my friend, Janet Waibel, whom I met in Bible study, mentioned she was a landscape architect. I told her someday I would hire her to redo our yard.

Someday came this summer.

The first phase of the work was getting rid of the plants we no longer wanted (as well as an old shed and some junk), replastering the pool, installing a new pool pump, and repairing the cracking pool deck. We also wanted to extend the pool deck, and resurface our covered patio floor to match. Due to delays caused by rains, for a few weeks our backyard looked like this:

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After the pool received its new tile and plaster, an irrigation system went in. And then, the magic day when the plants arrived!

If it had been up to me, I would have put in a couple of bushes and a marigold bed. But my landscape architect came up with a much lusher design. She chose plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance. It is so much more than I ever imagined it could be. img_0949.jpg

We have several of these blue bell plants in the front and back:

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We have three new trees in the front: an orange tree, and two of these Mexican bird of paradise:

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We also have tecoma “gold star” in the front and back yards:

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These before pictures show what our overgrown organ pipe and prickly pear cactuses used to look like:

The landscapers took a central portion of the organ pipe cactus and tranplanted it in the front yard:

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Transplanting the prickly pear didn’t go so well; they gave us a new baby one (it will grow and multiply):

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For twenty-nine years, and especially when the kids were young, I wanted a brick path on both sides of the driveway. Now that five muddy little pairs of feet climbing into the minivan are no longer an issue, I finally have my wish:

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On the other side of the driveway, along the wall separating our front yard from the entrance to the utility alley, we now have plants that will eventually form a nice screen.

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One day my friend, the landscape architect, was here during a downpour, and I showed her a problem we were having with run-off from the roof gutter over the entryway. See the downspout? That area along the left side of the picture would overflow, forming big muddy puddles on the front walk as the water sought lower ground. My friend designed a solution. The landscapers dug a tunnel under the sidewalk and filled it with coarse rock. Now the run-off will give the orange tree an extra-good soaking.

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We now have a small but lush grassy area in the backyard. (I am now in charge of mowing it.)

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We have several red Mexican bird of paradise plants in the backyard and the front.

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We have a new lemon tree and a grapefruit tree in the backyard. We will have lemons this December.

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We have two hibiscus plants in the backyard.

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We have several ruellia front and back.

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Our newly finished pool and deck look so pristine. Staked near the back wall of the yard are vines known as cat’s claw, which will eventually climb along the wall.

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We bought new cushions for our twenty-nine-year-old patio chairs. Don’t they look pretty? One late afternoon I took a dip in the pool and sat and read on the patio. I looked up and saw a hummingbird zipping from flower to flower. Life is good.

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We bought a new gazebo, which I’d just finished assembling before I snapped the picture; that’s why the ladder is still sitting under it. We had an older gazebo that didn’t really fit on the old pool deck. One corner sat on patio blocks. I’m so glad to have a proper surface now.

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The finishing touch is landscape lighting.

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The underwater pool light changes colors!

We feel so blessed. The yard has been transformed into a relaxing resort-like retreat. We could never have pulled this off ourselves. Landscape architects are like magicians. Maybe you’ll want to hire Waibel & Associates to design your landscaping.

 

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Creative Juice #59

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Creative Juice #59

Beautiful, unusual, entertaining, fun, and creative:

The Cat’s Meow

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The Cat’s Meow

We’re visiting Etsy today, that great online marketplace where you can find something for anyone, even the crazy cat lady in your life. Today’s focus is cat jewelry. I selected only items that I would be happy to wear. (By the way, feel free to buy me any or all.)

No feline-loving female should have to live without a cat necklace. (Click the description for more information. Click the images to see enlargements and captions.)

Stylized cat. Seated cat. Origami cat face.

Gold cat. Hanging-by-tail cat. Pick-a-stone cat.

Folded cat. Teeny cat. Art cat.

Stretching cat. Hanging-by-paws cat. Sleeping cat. 2D cat.

No self-respecting cat lady is happy unless her earlobes are decorated with cats.

Ceramic studs. Mismatched cats. Ceramic dangles.

Bracelets for cat lady wrists:

Basket cats. Denim cat.

And I don’t know why, but this one reminds me of the Deathly Hallows symbol:

And finally, a ring that can be made to your catty specifications:

As I said earlier, I like ALL of these pieces, but my very favorites are the origami cat face and the art cat necklaces.

What about you? Do you like cats, or live with some? (We currently have two, but have owned as many as four at one time. Five of our former kitties have passed on.) Does any of this jewelry particularly appeal to you? Share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #54

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Creative Juice #54

Twelve more sources of creative inspiration:

  1. The guitar in art.
  2. Beautiful modern quilts.
  3. Man’s best friend.
  4. The loveliest GIFs ever.
  5. I always love seeing Suhita Shirodkar’s sketches.
  6. When I was in high school in the late 1960s, I sometimes took the bus into New York City so I could wander through Central Park.
  7. Unique, affordable travel accommodations.
  8. Take a walk in the garden.
  9. Prize-winning travel photos from the National Geographic contest.
  10. A new application for the Five Second Rule.
  11. Pixilation enters the world of sculpture.
  12. Lessons learned at Uffizi Gallery.

Party Perfect

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Party Perfect

I love Etsy. If it weren’t for Etsy, I’d never know what products I can’t live without. Do you know they have a whole category for printable photo booth props?

Apparently, when people have parties, photos and selfies must be taken for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and social media I don’t even know about, and guests must have props.

So, Etsy provides props for every party. It comes in the form of an instantly downloaded PDF file, costing from $2.99 to $9.95 depending on the assortment. You use your own computer to print them out on card stock, cut them out, and attach a thin dowel. Then you’re ready to party. How creative!

Flamingo

Flamingo

The props can also be used as decoration or party favors. I can also see teachers having a lot of fun with their students using these.

I can’t believe how many different themes are available, and how many companies make them.

Here are a few. Click on the captions for purchasing information.

90th

Ninetieth Birthday

Sesame

Sesame Street

Patriotic

Patriotic

Shark

Shark

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Grins

Grins

Zoo

Zoo

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Gatsby

Gatsby

Mickey and friends

Mickey and friends

Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers

Cinco

Mexican

21st

Twenty-first Birthday

Hawaiian

Luau

Pirate

PirateOktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Circus

Circus

Sixties

Sixties

Beach

Beach

Halloween

Halloween

Lollipops

Lollipops

What do you think? Which are your favorites?

We live in Arizona, so I can see getting the Mexican set for Cinco de Mayo. I also love the Mad Hatter, the Pirate, and Oktoberfest.

Creative Juice #50

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Creative Juice #50

This week’s dozenly dose of creative articles:

  1. Personally, I love reading young adult novels. Here are this year’s best sellers.
  2. Breathtaking blue quilts.
  3. This looks like a great workspace setup.
  4. Photos of surreal beauty and long-past glory
  5. Did you know you can cultivate habits that make you smarter?
  6. These dishes give me the creeps, and yet I admire their artistry.
  7. Don’t fall into the comparison trap. Would you believe Henri Matisse felt he did not measure up to the other artists of his day?
  8. Kauai is on my bucket list, but one of my favorite artists is there now.
  9. The ultimate artist DIY—making your own paints.
  10. Inspiration for writers.
  11. Beautiful illustrations by Tina MacNaughton.
  12. Map of the world, redesigned to eliminate distortion.

Creative Juice #38

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Creative Juice #38

Nine articles, mostly art-related.

Guest Post: Super (Mechanical) Models

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Thanks to Donna from My OBT for this fabulous guest post.

My OBT

u 0 Ugears

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G is for Garbage: The Story of the Landfill Harmonic

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G is for Garbage: The Story of the Landfill Harmonic

You may have heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. This YouTube video, posted in 2012, has been viewed almost seven million times:

Cateura is the site of a huge garbage dump. The 2500 families who live there make a living by scavenging the dump for materials they can sell.

All of their need come from discards. Even their homes are built from garbage.

Favio Chavez, an environmental engineer employed by the dump, observed thousands of children who lived their lives surrounded by garbage. And drugs.

Wanting to provide a ray of hope, Chavez volunteered to teach kids to play musical instruments. He started with a number of donated instruments, which quickly ran out.

Chavez justly gets credit for his vision. He must be an accomplished musician, but I was unable to find any information about his background. For sure, he is an excellent and inspiring teacher, as evidenced by the accomplishments of his students.

And the children! Their dedication to practice shows in the way their performances shine.

A documentary about the orchestra, called Landfill Harmonic, came out in 2016:

In my opinion, the unrecognized angel of the orchestra is Nicola Gomez. A carpenter by trade, “Don Cola” Gomez is who Chavez turned to when he needed more instruments for his students. Could he fashion some violins from materials from the landfill?

Gomez had never seen or heard a violin before. But somehow, he made one out of baking sheets, pallet wood, a fork, and old wires. And then he made some more. Soon, he branched out to other kinds of instruments. Trumpets made from drainage pipes. Drums with x-ray film heads.

Amazingly, despite the humble materials he used to build the instruments, they sound remarkably good. It’s not easy to hand-make instruments that will play in tune with other instruments. Especially without specialized training. The man is an acoustical genius.

60 Minutes produced this segment about the Recycled Orchestra:

I recently visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and some of the Cateura instruments are on display there (click on the small pictures to enlarge and read captions):

Guest Post: Off the Wall

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Guest Post: Off the Wall

Thanks to Donna from MyOBT for this gorgeous guest post.
We’re planning a remodel. Do I dare try this?

My OBT

San Bartolo Medallion Stencil by RoyalDesignStencils San Bartolo Medallion Stencil by RoyalDesignStencils

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