The Patio: Before & After

When we bought our little old house back in 2015, the backyard was not one of its main selling points. (You'll see what I mean at the end of this post.) It was overgrown with weeds and odd-shaped. In the northwest corner was a brownish-red brick paver patio that I solemnly vowed to eventually demo and replace with the likes of wood decking or limestone. Of course, that was before we renovated both bathrooms from the ground up, updated the kitchen, installed new HVAC, replaced the galvanized plumbing, refinished the hardwood flooring, painted the interior and exterminated the rats living in the attic. So needless to say, there was not much in the budget left over for the patio of my dreams. Six months down the line, we eventually saved up enough to redo the landscaping, created a garden space and bought new patio furniture. These simple updates went a long way in transforming the backyard and we finally weren't embarrassed to have friends over for barbecues.

Still, the patio remained in all its red, bricky glory. I considered adding an outdoor rug, power washing and overlaying some deck tiles like these from Ikea, but none of these felt like the right solution. Then one day, someone suggested lime washing and I figured it was worth a shot. So I drove to Home Depot and bought two quarts of lime wash and a cheap wooden brush for $75. For the next couple days, I painstakingly painted each brick by hand with a little 3" brush. Despite the inclement weather and phases of self doubt and painter's remorse, I couldn't be happier with the results. Most importantly, the three of us love spending time out here now more than ever, which was always the goal at the end of the day!

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The lime wash I used is Romabio in Bianco White. The label claims that the wash is reversible up to 5 days with a power washer, so that was reassuring enough. The whole process took a couple days because I kept stepping back to examine it from afar. If one area looked too flat and opaque, I'd spray it over with the hose and use an old bristle brush to scrub down certain bricks to achieve the effect of depth and texture. 

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For more progress shots & behind the scenes, check out my Instagram Story highlights!

Chairs: Article  //  Patterned Pouf: World Market  //  White Cushion: World Market  //  Green Cushion: Ikea  //  Green Side Table: Ikea  //  White Side Table/Propane Tank Cover: YLiving  //  Propane Fire Pit: Amazon  // Fire Pit Cover: Amazon  //  White Plant Stand: Amazon  //  Outdoor String Lights: Amazon

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If you're wondering what this space looked like before, feast your eyes on these gems I dug up from the archives of an old phone. Some photos are from the very first time our realtor took us to see this little fixer upper, right after she cheerily cautioned us to "keep an open mind." I don't know if it was the dog poop or the air conditioning unit propped up with a stick but somehow we saw all of this and thought, yep we want to live here

April + May in Review

How's it going? It's been quite an eventful past two months for us. Lots of changes - some good, some not so much. But such is life and we move forward. Around here, these Spring days have been filled with 2-hour long neighborhood strolls with Hoku looking for wildflowers and entire afternoons in the garden repotting plants, chasing lizards (all Hoku) and harvesting broccoli rabe, snow peas and strawberries. 

We've also been jet-setting quite a bit. Back in April, we spent a few days exploring Portland and visiting friends in Seattle. Then in early May, I took a solo trip to Hong Kong to work on some fun, new things for Fox & Bagel. A couple weeks later, we were off to New York City to celebrate my sister's graduation from grad school. (She's a Nurse Practitioner specializing in pediatrics so if you're reading this up in the SF Bay Area, hire her! She is awesome.) And from NYC, we set off to Montreal where we finally, finally got to try their namesake wood-fired bagels. And let me tell you, these bagels are as good as they say, maybe even better. 

But wait. There's more! The traveling continues next month with Japan and a return to Hong Kong! Are you exhausted yet just reading this? I am. I know this blog is focused primarily on the adorable, furry dude, but would you guys like to see more travel posts on here, even if Hoku couldn't come with? :)

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A little garden update! We have a garden bed with 3 types of carrots, 2 types of eggplant, chives, beets, purple cauliflower, edamame, basil and broccoli rabe. We have corn stalks that started off shorter than Hoku and are now taller than us humans. In our wooden barrels, we have snow peas, jalapeños, yellow bell peppers, strawberries and 6 types of tomatoes.

And we're attempting peanuts again! We tried growing peanuts last year and it was all going well until the plant suddenly withered away due to unexplained, natural causes. (Ok fine, it was me. I killed it.) It was a goner, leaving behind only shattered dreams of what could have been an excellent accompaniment to our Friday night libations. Or so we thought. Little did we know, our peanut plant had produced actual peanuts and these peanuts that had been sitting in this bucket of old soil, getting no consistent source of water or sunlight, had grown actual roots. We plucked them out, planted them in the garden bed and boom, hello new peanut plant!

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Hoku, of course, has been busy with his garden patrol duties. See how he stealthily blends into the plants, ready to pounce on a moment's notice at any sign of illegal critter activity. The corn stalks have eyes. Adorable, puppy eyes. 

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In other backyard news, I finally took the leap and lime-washed the crap out of red brick paver patio. It has been a source of much grief but replacing these pavers with something cool like limestone or weather-resistant redwood planks just wasn't in our landscaping budget when we overhauled the yard a couple years back. So I rolled up my sleeves, channeled my inner Chip and Joanna Gaines and bought some lime-wash along with a cheap paint brush at Home Depot. All for under $100. I call it the poor man's hardscaping and I couldn't be more thrilled with how it turned out. More on this and a full reveal on the blog later!

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Some other things that made me happy this month: this little plant propagation corner aka my mad plant scientist laboratory. And also, being reunited with Hoku after ten days in New York City and Montreal...and subsequently giving him a bath just to wrap him up in a towel and make him look like a jedi. 

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March In Review

March came and went, bringing rainy days, pup allergies, human allergies, Spring cleaning, Hokkaido milk bread, green tea lattes with cat faces, and a return to the garden. In case you missed it, we took a mini road trip through Arizona and Utah, all documented in a five part blog series here. (We also revamped our Travels page!) Without further ado, scenes from March with this fluffball around these parts.

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My office/studio has been in a constant state of flux since we moved in but I am determined to finally have a shelfie worth gramming this year. Maybe. In the meantime, here is the most orderly corner of my office that I share with my favorite co-working space buddy. And because I get a lot of questions about these hanging wires on Instagram, I've decided to share my super secret source (not really) here

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One of the best things about Spring is being able to spend a lot more time in the garden even though pollen is the dust the devil. I've had this Xerosicyos danguyi (silver dollar plant) cutting in an old medicine bottle (that I found on a beach in Brooklyn) for about half a year and even though I loved the way it looked in the glass, it was getting too root bound and needed to be transplanted. Giving plant friends new homes is my favorite therapy. 

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In the garden, the yu choy and baby bok choy seeds we planted back in January had turned into beautiful, healthy veggies and it was finally time to harvest and feast! Our broccoli, carrots and beets planted at the end of February had a bit of a rough start with all the rain but are finally coming up nicely. From the garden store, we brought home snow peas, tomatoes, broccoli rabe, purple cauliflower and corn. Very excited about this year's veggie line up.  

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