Projects & Thoughts from Louise's head & hands

June 29, 2021

Neighborhood Watch GCNW

Filed under: GCNW — Dave @ 2:39 pm

Gardena Circle Neighborhood

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March 22, 2012

Rebate Work Complete!

Filed under: Turf Removal Rebate — Louise @ 2:21 pm

Around Thanksgiving 2011 we received an opportunity in the mail to earn a rebate for every square foot of turf we remove from our yard and replace with water permeable hardscape, drought tolerant or low-water plants, and other changes to reduce the amount of water we use.  At that point I was on the verge of getting ready to remove the remaining turf in the front yard to finally put in plants.

This offer opened up consideration of a solution for the back yard, which I had been ignoring until I completed the front…both are BIG projects.

We decided to remove the maximum amount of turf from our yard that met the rebate requirements (up to 2,000 square feet) and fulfilled our needs for an improved yard.

To get the project started:

1.  Measure the areas of turf to be removed (we had just over 2,000 sq ft to remove).

2.  Submit an application with a description of what we planned to plant &/or change in our sprinklers and photos of the areas.

3.  Upon receipt of approval for the project we would have 120 days in which to complete the work to be eligible for the rebate.


Our deadline was April 20 and we had to get going.

Back Yard Project Overview:

1.  Clear trailers from area where project would take place (moved to under the orange trees).

2.  Mark areas where turf was to be removed.

3.  Identify & protect sprinkler heads.

4.  Identify areas for hardscape and plantings.  Research hardscape options.

5.  Cut and remove turf.

6.  Hire Mike Ragels and obtain hardscape materials.  Install hardscape.

7.  Move trailers back into place.

8.  Install ground cover.


Trailers were moved to under the orange trees.  I borrowed a neighbor’s lawnmower to cut the “grass” really short.  I used “Caution” tape to mark the perimeter of the yard to where we were going to remove sod.  Sprinkler heads were covered to identify and hopefully protect them with inverted cans spray painted bright yellow.







We rented a sod cutter from Home Depot for a day.  Neighbor Jake helped with transporting the sod cutter in his truck.  It took a lot of muscle to move this big piece of equipment around the yard, yet it was still far better than hand digging and removing the turf.  We cut all the turf (front and back yards) in one day and removed it as we needed to throughout the rest of the project.


















End of a long day still required washing the very dirty sod cutter before returning to Home Depot.











Concrete left over from the front yard project became the patio area outside the back cottage.









As we worked through various options for materials for the project it came as a huge surprise to us that natural stone is less expensive than man made stone, like concrete pavers.  I’m happier with natural materials anyway so the Arizona flagstone was less expensive and more attractive than all other options.  Load ‘n Go delivered four tons of flagstone.












Flagstone was everywhere awaiting installation.










When all the pieces were in place we had to get them dry enough to seal them.  We had a rainy spell and, because the days are short, this is the north side of the house and the shadows are long we were kind of challenged getting the stones to dry.  Here they are covered with tarps, but the stones could still pull moisture from the ground.










Eventually, we got them sealed.










Dave invented a new tool!  Dirt had to be packed around the sides of the stones to help them set in place.  It’s a long process and the automatic tool Dave created helped alot.










The teardrop trailers were moved back into place on the new flagstone patio and we planted Dymondia, a low drought tolerant ground cover.  Eventually this will grow between the stones, closing those gaps.










I’m happy with the back yard at this stage:  the blend of smaller pieces of stone (rose coloured concrete) defining the patio area in front of the cottage, the large Arizona flagstone (similar rose colour) defining the parking area, and the curved green space.  More work remains on other areas of the garden in the back yard, but the biggest piece of work is done…a month before our deadline!




















In the meantime all the work was being done in the back yard, the front yard continued to take shape.  After using the sod cutter but prior to the turf being dumped in our green waste containers, I shook out and sifted the turf to release whatever dirt they held.  I covered the naked earth with newspapers, watered them down to stay in place, then covered the newspapers with tarps.  This was to prevent anything from growing back before I could get to planting what I wanted.  To keep the tarps in place I piled on an assortment of logs, planks and stones.  The front yard looked absolutely terrible.  I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photo which is why you don’t see one here.

Plants in the front include Dymondia, Creeping Sage, Mexican Lobelia, Diosma, Euphorbias, Lion’s Tail, Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’, and a personal favourite Leucadendron ‘Jester’.  This plant I found while traveling in Big Sur with my friend Catherine.  She is both the inspiration and sponsor for this plant in our garden.

Here’s Leucadendron ‘Jester’ as I first saw it in Big Sur.  At the time I did not know the name (the cactus is not part of the plant).

Close up…the sunlight seems to emanate from the plant!

Jody’s generous gift towards our landscape made more plants possible.  Over time more plants will join what is already planted and I’ll put plants in pots closer to the house.  Everything will change too as these plants get larger and taller.  This will give the patio area more privacy from the street and sidewalk.  The dirt is covered with natural shredded wood.

‘Jester’ is in the lower left of this photo, just above the rock.

Arizona flagstone was added between the house and the patio to increase the size of the patio and cover an area that was dirt and possibly too easy for folks to trip on.

A toast to all our work being done!


February 18, 2012


Filed under: Front Yard Patio — Louise @ 1:45 pm

The first plant for the front yard has been purchased!  It is Leucadendron ‘Jester’.

I came across this plant just before Christmas when I was visiting a friend in Big Sur.  The morning was magical…bright, the air crisp and clear, and heavy dew drops sparkled everywhere.

Then I saw it.

This plant seemed to be the very Source of Light for this glorious morning.  I had my picture taken next to it so I could recall its size and shape because I did not know the name at the time and would research it.

Mine is a young, small but promising 5 gallon plant.  Where ever this plant is in a garden would be a position of prominence, because Jester makes it so.  I will plant this on the west side of the yard, nearer the sidewalk, between the patio and split rail fence.

But first I’m off to purchase more plants!  Photos to follow.


January 8, 2012

Making Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 11:04 am

I enjoy creating with paper.

I like the tactile sensation of working with different types of paper.  Each paper has a special characteristic that is interesting and fun to work with.

Some papers are shiny and transmit light.  Heavy coarse papers receive ink in a way that almost makes it appear as if the paper itself is oozing ink.  Thick papers help create depth and dimension.  Tissue paper is delicate and lends a see-through quality to a piece.

I mix materials on the cards I create…scraps of ribbon, fabric and old wrapping papers, paint, markers, glitter, or cut outs from cards received.  The more materials I think of, the more materials I have with which to create!

A handmade card is a gift in and of itself.  It’s a gift from me to the recipient, a card made especially for them.  It’s also a gift to myself.  Creating a handmade card takes time, so this is the gift of time I give myself and the opportunity to be creative and think about the person for whom I am making the card.

When I decide to make a card I don’t always have a complete design in mind.  I’m thinking more about the person or the occasion.  Depending on the materials I have on hand helps to inform the creative direction I take.



January 7, 2012

Mixed Media Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 10:53 pm

Using scraps of wrapping paper and ribbon, stickers and cards you create yourself or blank cards you already have, you can create unique handmade gift cards.

In this example I already had the commercially produced card with pansies.  I glued decorative paper to the front of a blank card, added a piece of orange ribbon horizontally, then glued the pansies card over the top.

To customize the card below, I used a commercially produced patterned note card, added the pale blue ribbon, and then the butterfly sticker.

Making the card with the a wire hearts wreath was fun!  This material is available from the 99 Cents Only store.  I covered the FRONT of a blank card with silver wrapping paper.  After twisting the wire hearts into two concentric heart shapes I secured the shape with picture wire at the bottom point of the heart and the center.  I punctured the front of the card, inserted the picture wire and splayed open the ends of the picture wire on the BACK of the front of the card.  Then I covered the surface with paper to hide the wire ends.


For the card with the butterfly I used a blank card as the foundation.  I glued a scrap of black and silver polka dotted wrapping paper to the surface of the card.  Then I glued a scrap of yellow and cream translucent ribbon diagonally across the card.  On top of the ribbon I applied a piece of green card I salvaged from another card.  The butterfly was cut from yet another card.  I used shiny gel pen to colour parts of the butterfly’s wings to make them shimmer and equal in beauty to other elements of the card.


January 5, 2012

Share the Love Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 10:26 pm

Remember when you were a kid and you would fold a piece of paper, cut it in a number of ways and make a snowflake?  Here’s a take on that idea for Valentine’s Day cards.

Using multiple colors of paper and layering them, you can get a variety of attractive, fun to make, personalized, share-the-love cards.  Every heart cut out becomes a heart you can glue in someplace else.




January 4, 2012

Layering Paper Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 11:30 pm

Construction paper, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper…whatever you have is ideal for making a card.  Here are some examples when I cut shapes of different papers and layered them to create a design.

On the occasion of a dear friend’s 99th birthday that falls on Halloween I handcrafted the following card.  You’ll recognize some of the scrapbook papers used in other cards.  The front of the card is a pumpkin.  This shape lends itself to a cupcake, revealed when the card is opened.  The candle is a piece of ribbon.  The candle’s flame is a combination of shiny golden papers cut from old Christmas cards.


Inspiration for a card design can come from anywhere!  I designed and installed a stone patio in our front yard.  When we received a gift towards this project I made a thank you card in an abstract likeness of the patio.  Here are a couple photos of the patio during installation:


In the card I created below it clearly is not the stone patio.  The image artistically represents it enough so that the recipient of the card knew exactly what the image was and our gratitude for her thoughtful and generous gift.  For this card I used a layered combination of scrapbook papers.  Miraculously I had this paper on hand!  The central paper of pink circles on brown evokes the rose coloured patio stone.  The green paper is like groundcover and the flowered paper represents the garden that will be installed.




Christmas Cards & Gift Tags

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 10:11 pm

With an abundance of Christmas cards received over the years, combined with the desire to be creative and not see these beautiful cards go to waste, we have a great opportunity to make those cherished cards new again and special to someone else.

Knowing which outer envelope to use ensures getting the sizing right before anything is cut.  You may have spare envelopes on hand; they are also available in packages from craft stores.

Separate the front from the back of the card.  If the card is particularly large or has a section worthy of being featured, cut out just that section.

Make a larger new back page in a complementary color of card stock.  While I do not have a photo of it, I use fancy scissors to cut a white sheet card stock and place between the front image and the new back page. I write my Christmas greeting on this paper.

Punch holes in the top and tie the pages together with ribbon or twine (I bet you have lots of scraps available for this small job!).  The next time I do this I might consider using fancy scissors to give an attractive edge to the new back page.

Here are some examples of new Christmas cards made from previously received cards:


Gift Tags

Also consider that sections of these Christmas cards make great gift tags.  Why buy packages of expensive one-use stick on tags every year when you have these fabulous cards from previous years?  Simply cut out a section of a card to write the name of the recipient.  Tape or tie it with the curly ribbon to the gift you are giving.

A card can go from this…

to this gift tag…

Decorating Packages

Consider gluing an entire card face to the outside of a plain brown paper bag to dress it up for gift giving…or on the outside of a wrapped package.  This is especially useful if you are mailing or packing wrapped packages in your luggage.


January 3, 2012

Paints, Markers, Glitter Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 10:58 am

Inexpensive and readily available markers, watercolor paints and glitter work well together.

In these examples the watercolor paint was used first to create the leaves, pine cones and needles.

Then image was strengthened with the use of markers.  The red berries, for example, have red marker applied around the interior perimeter; the middle of the berries where the color is softer is the original red water color.  Brown markers were used on the pine cones.

Finally I used a light application of spray glue and sprinkled glitter on the cards.  (When using spray glue it’s a good idea to have a prepared surface to protect it from over spray.)


Here’s a card I painted with water colours, enhanced with markers and glitter, gave it a new back and tied it with a gold cord:

Having fun creating with just markers:



January 2, 2012

Photo Cards

Filed under: Paper Projects — Louise @ 11:50 pm

Photos you’ve taken and incorporate into cards make them especially personal gifts.

Using photos for cards is also ideal if you are short on time or ideas of what to do or how to work with paper, ribbon and glue.  The lick and stick photo corners can be found at craft stores.

This card was created to honor the memory of a friend who had passed…


This is a birthday booklet card…




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