Tuesday, November 27, 2012

wandering and wondering

These past few weeks have been warm in South Carolina...freakishly warm, to me.  It didn't feel like fall when every day was sunny and 65.  It felt strange to wear a t-shirt in November.  My sweaters hung untouched in the closet.  I longed for cold, crisp Indiana weather.

But we went back to Indiana this weekend, and it was cold.  It hovered around freezing during the day, and we shivered into and out of cars as we visited friends and ran errands.  When we returned to South Carolina and another sunny, 65 degree day, it felt good.  Like springtime. 

I have to say that I'm appreciating other aspects of the warm weather besides the comfort factor.  Things live here - plants and animals - that would never survive a harsh Indiana winter.  Lizards, for instance.  I just can't get used to seeing them scurry around outside!

There's a whole new world of insect life that I haven't begun to explore.  For example, I'm used to grey pillbugs in Indiana.  But the pillbugs here - if that's what they are - are orange and black...so vibrant!

We have holly bushes!  Even though I see them everywhere, I'm still afraid to clip too many sprigs.  Maybe soon I'll feel comfortable enough to clip a whole garland.

Despite the fact that it's a few days away from December, there are still flowers blooming.  These look like camillias and remind me of peonies...so beautiful.

They're growing on a huge tree that's absolutely covered in buds - next year's bloom, looks like.  I can't imagine how lovely it will look, all budded out.

I see other shrubs with rose-like flowers on them. 

But what are they?  I have no idea.

They all look slightly different, but their leaves are all stiff and waxy.

I've seen several Mahonia bushes...I'd say we have close to 30.  I've discovered that they can become invasive and I wonder if the elderly people that owned the home before were unable to keep them from spreading.

To me, they look like spindly, messy weeds and have a strange, asparagus-like growth coming out of the circle of leaves at the top of the bush.

In the winter, these spikes bloom with yellow flowers and smell pleasant.  I'll evaluate them this winter, but I will probably end up cutting them down.  They can grow to be 12 feet tall and reseed readily.  Besides, they look awfully...tropical.  I'd rather choose a different type of shrub.  We've already got the tropical japonica on either side of the front door, with its large, shiny leaves...

...and strange, pale yellow 'puffs'.

Insects love them!

Then there's the wild vine covering the little arbor and side fences:

What is it?  Does it flower?  I found this little bud, which would seem to indicate some sort of flower:

I recognize the towering magnolia tree, even though I'm not sure what it looks like in bloom:

I recognize rosemary...

Japanese maple...

And this looks like parsley...

I wonder if this vine will flower?

And this stiff, leafless bush still has a plant tag attached.  Beautyberry.  Lots of possibilities in that name.

Are there bulbs here?

These are the dried-out remnants of a flowering bush.  What color was it?

Are these the tall, graceful alliums I love so much?

Will this groundcover flower?

There are lots of mysteries here, as I walk the perimeter of the property and wonder.  I'll have to wait until spring, though, to get some answers.  Meanwhile, I'll just...enjoy the weather.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

a couch in the house!

Things are moving along here, slowly.  In the dining room, the former occupants nailed trim to the wall to make a frame and inexplicably painted the frame's interior a deep watermelon pink, which clashed with the wheat-colored walls.

The frame was the first thing to go.

Next, Todd peeled off the mirror backsplash that ran the length of the new kitchen...revealing a pea soup-colored panel of Formica. We're going to put up cream-colored subway tiles sometime in the next 2 months.

That pink had to go, so the kitchen was repainted a soft yellow-cream color.  I think it suits the area much better, since it's such a sunny spot.

We managed to match the wheat-colored paint, and the dining room was repainted to cover the big pink splotch on the wall.

After the paint dried, I unpacked my German pottery.  Everything made it through just fine...

...with one casualty.

Everything was carefully placed into a wood hutch we found at IKEA several years ago.

The watch word here is SIMPLE.  I have been known to really load this thing up with clutter.  Not now.  I want everything to be simple here.

The big new is that we finally have couches!  A trip to IKEA this weekend netted us a regular couch, and my first sectional.

I have to say, I was skeptical at the store, but Todd was right.  We did need it.

We finally unpacked our books...

...leaving the main living room pretty empty.

Bosewichte loves this room, though, because the windows go all the way to the floor.  Perfect for a cat that likes to keep an eye on things.

Tabitha does the same thing, but from my craft room window.

She mainly sees deer.

The various trees, bushes, and shrubs around the house are a big of a mystery to me.  All I've been able to identify is a few holly-type bushes, which make for amazing bouquets.

But the former occupants delivered some paperwork to the house this week, which included several rolled-up landscaping plans.  They had landscaped in 2008 and saved the paperwork...thankfully.

Although I'm unfamiliar with the plants, the names are intriguing.  Fragrant Tea Olive.  Shi Shi Gashies Sasanqa.  Fatsia Japonica.  Convelsatia Piece Azalea.  And I saw one familiar name - helleborus, one of my favorite delicate spring flowers.  We've been told over and over again that springtime is the most beautiful time of the year in South Carolina, that flowers bloom everywhere and the weather is so mild.  We can't wait to see what the property does in the spring!

My only definite plan, so far, is to place a potted climbing rose plant at each side of the carport and train it to climb up along the deck.

I think we'll really enjoy it.

Sorry for the dark photos...I'm not taking my usual care in my hurry to document everything.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

one thing done.

It's still a hive of activity at the new house, and we're slowly starting to acquire furniture.  We didn't bring very much with us, and the house has felt empty and full of echoes.  But we're excited about the things we've found on Craigslist so far.  We'll buy some new furniture, but we like furniture that has a little bit of "character"!

Like this antique wooden armoire that we found for a steal on Craigslist.  This will go in the living room and hold our board games and puzzles.

And this gorgeous secretary tucked away in an elderly man's garage.  I used Murphy's Wood Oil Soap to clean some splotches of mold from the legs and it's as good as "new"!  

I thought about what to do with it.  Then I decided to put it in the front entryway and fill it with my white dishes, which I thought was a nice contrast.  I added a little dish for our keys and some festive greenery from a tree in our yard and - voila!

There!  That's one thing done.  I'm very pleased with it...and glad to at last have a place to drop our keys, too!

We've also purchased a few chairs that we'll slipcover until we get around to reupholstering.  This one is a great, sturdy little chair that we found for just $15!

Even though we're consumed with unpacking, measuring, painting, tile issues, furniture purchases and placement, etc., I can't help but notice the wildlife outside...even though I haven't gone looking for it yet.

I was delighted to learn that there are several types of lizards in South Carolina, one of the most common being the anole.

Having spotted one, we now see them almost daily.

They're so charming!

Another almost-daily visitor is a turkey...or two, to be exact.

We've seen a whole flock of them once or twice, but it's usually just this pair. 

I noticed this in the leaves while taking the dog for a quick walk the other day...a little leftover skin from a recently-molted snake.

Having grown up in the country, I don't have to be told that nearby water + fall + piles of logs + drifts of leaves + a warm day = snakes. 

We made sure to walk much more carefully after seeing this!

I didn't see this great blue heron the first week we were here, but now I see him every day.

I'm pretty sure I've heard his unearthly call at night, too:

I noticed a particularly bumpy log in the water this week.

Sunning turtles are notoriously skittish, and the crackling leaves would give me away if I tried to get closer.  But I was able to zoom in with Todd's camera to verify that they were indeed turtles.

With the woods all around us, I can't wait to see new wildlife...or at least have the time to go looking for it!

Have a great week!