lawn in drought

This is not a prairie folks, this is a close up of my front lawn. Not only was it in the triple digits for several days last week, but we also haven’t had rain in 25 days. It’s getting crispy out there. Walking across my lawn sounds like walking on a gravel path…crunchy.

I’ve been trying my best to keep things watered…my gardens, not the lawn–I’ve let that go dormant in the hopes that we will get rain soon. The corner garden is fairing pretty well…

corner garden

My raised bed victory garden is a little worse for the wear…

Victory Garden

Sure, it looks fine from a distance, but upon closer inspection…

dying lettuce

All of my cool weather crops (lettuce, peas, green beans) didn’t have time to grow before they were blasted with heat…

crunchy green bean

I’ve been watering them every day, but apparently some plants just can’t take 100+ degree temps for a week…


Even the blueberry bushes are crisp…

There are some plants that are thriving however, the tomatoes are already producing! Last year I didn’t eat my first cherry tomato until late July!


I’ve already eaten 5!

garden side view

I’m hopeful that we’ll get some rain soon! It would really help the plants grow (since the hose doesn’t seem to quench their thirst quite like rain) and I’ve nearly forgotten what it looks like to have a green lawn…

Even Leo, the dog who dislikes all kinds of water (hose, bath, sprinklers, rain) agrees that it is a bit crunchy.

Can anyone send some rain our way? We’d really appreciate it!



I hope everyone had a great weekend! I got a ton of stuff done around the house, and still managed to relax a bit (believe it or not). The weather was great here, sunny and warm. I started the weekend out by making a trip to my local garden center to pick up some supplies for my raised bed victory garden. Luckily I didn’t need much this year, just a few plants, some seeds and a few bags of compost. I’ve been working on making my own compost, but sadly it wasn’t quite ready to put on the garden and I didn’t have enough anyway, so I bought a few bags from the store. I figure I can always add more compost to the garden as it is ready.

raised bed garden

It was so easy to put in the garden this year! (Last year was rough!) I pulled out the weeds (which came out very easily since the soil is loose) and then mixed in a little fresh compost. Then it was time to plant!

raised bed garden

Because I live in Wisconsin and our growing season is short, I buy tomato and pepper plants to plant in the garden.



This year I also got broccoli plants and eggplant plants to try. Everything else I plant from seed.

This year I will have:

Two kinds of cherry tomatoes
Two kinds of large tomatoes
Four kinds of peppers (two sweet, two hot)
Sugar Snap Peas
Green Beans
Two kinds of Lettuce
Blueberry bushes that are still maturing but have grown considerably since last year

Not that I want to rush summer along, but I can hardly wait to eat cherry tomatoes right off the plant!

Looks like I have some weeding to do around the garden…

Sorry Leo, it isn’t time to grill just yet…

Ahhh much better! Besides pulling weeds, I also put my new weed wacker together and used it all around the yard. It was fun!

My next project was to put the composite edging that I purchased last year around the corner garden, freshen up the mulch and plant a few annual flowers in the front…

corner garden with composite edging

The composite edging itself was not hard to install. The hardest part was digging the trench around the garden. Did I mention it was also in the upper 80s and humid?

composite edging instructions

According to the instructions, the composite edging I bought can just be pounded into the ground, but just to be sure my hard work stayed in place, I used some edging stakes as well…

garden with composite edging installed

Since they are the same color as the edging, they blend right in and they work great!

Corner garden with composite edging installed

Now the corner garden has a clearly defined shape. I hope the edging will also help hold the mulch in place.

lets grill now

Leo is clearly getting impatient!

I know what you guys are thinking…but what about painting the Tiki Lounge…Well I got that done too believe it or not! I was going to take some pictures to show everyone, but I decided to wait until the Tiki Lounge is completely set up (furniture arranged, tiki masks on the wall, lights up) before I reveal the transformation…so I have to wait for the paint to cure a bit and drag some stuff out of winter storage, but don’t fear, the Tiki Room reveal is almost here!

Now I’m off to apply aloe to my sunburn and bandage my blisters…oh yeah, and grill some chicken for one very impatient and over excited dog! Hope you all had a great weekend!

Stay tuned!


I’ve got a ton of projects planned for the upcoming long weekend (3 days off work!). I know I won’t be able to finish all of them, but I hope to get at least two of them completed (I really only have two days for projects at the ranch because my sister-in-law just bought her first place and she needs help painting, so my adorable husband Jim and I will be helping her out).

Here’s what’s on the dockett:

Of course I still need to put the edging on the corner garden…I just didn’t have the time to get that done last summer. Good news is, I bought a weed wacker last weekend so I can use that to trim around the garden now!

talking dog

Oh Leo, don’t worry. You won’t be anywhere near the weed wacker!

Then of course there is painting the Tiki Lounge…I really want to get this done over the long weekend, but it depends on how I feel after painting at my sister-in-law’s house…

paint and crescent edgers

I did buy the paint (30% off!) at Sherwin Williams!

And what might all those crescent edgers be for?

crescent edgers

I got those a few weeks ago (on sale of course!) so I could make my pole garden

…well the garden is already half there, but I want to make a nice circle around the pole with the crescent edgers and also fill it in with some flowers.

victory garden

Then there is planting the Victory Garden! I have much less weeding to do this year, and the garden is already built and filled, so a quick trip to the store for some plants and seeds, and I should be all set!

I think we can arrange that Leo…

So there you have it! My plans for the weekend.

Are any of you painting, gardening or installing edging this weekend? Or are you grilling out and relaxing? (If so, Leo would like to spend the weekend at your place)


Did you all have a good holiday? I know Leo did…

But enough of this Christmas stuff, let’s start looking to the New Year!

It’s that time of year again! Time to make my Retro Ranch Revamp Resolutions!

Before we get to the list, I thought I would recap my 2011 Retro Ranch Revamp Resolutions.

Last year, I had seven resolutions on my list. Here’s how they turned out!

1. Get the Basketball hoop that came with the house out of the back yard. (Done! I sold it on Craigslist!)

2. Make a raised bed victory garden using the square foot gardening method. (Done! And let me tell you, the taste of victory was delicious!)

3. Fill the built in planter with something other than random junk. (Done! The plants are still looking great!)

4. Decide if I am going to paint my kitchen cabinets and if so, do it! (Partially done. I have decided to paint them, I have decided what color and I have the paint, now I just have to do it!)

5. Continue to beautify the front and back yard. (I’ve been working on the yard a lot this year! Between the corner garden, the victory garden, more shrubs, more flowers, more tree trimming and more lily removal, I would say I did a pretty good job of keeping the beautification going!)

6. Refinish the record cabinet for my adorable husband Jim’s video game storage. (Done! I love it! And so does Jim!)

7. Update the blog at least once a week for a whole year. (I’ve done it! Most weeks I posted twice-and a few weeks were even three times a week!)


Not bad…mostly accomplished! (minus painting the kitchen cabinets, but that’s next!)

What do I have in store for myself this year?

I decided that seven was a good number of Retro Ranch Revamp Resolutions to have, so here’s my 2012 list!

1. Paint the kitchen cabinets! Not much to explain here, the color is picked out, the paint is purchased, the work time line is set, once the ball drops, it’s go time!

2. Replace the remaining old windows in our house.This one is in the budget folks. If you remember our drafty bedroom/bathroom situation from last year, you should understand why we want to get this done sooner than later. Plus we locked in our quote until the end of 2012 and in order to get the great deal, we have to finish ordering them this year. We have 6 windows left. The plan is to do the three in the bedrooms first and then finish out the year by replacing the three kitchen windows.

3. Install the edging on the corner garden. I simply ran out of time before the ground froze this year!

4. Stock the shelves of my Etsy store! I managed to get the shop open just before Christmas, but with only two small ornaments on the shelves, it isn’t that exciting. I’m currently working on a product line that I will hopefully be able to get into the shop soon! (I got some very helpful Christmas presents – tools!)

5. Make a path from the patio to the victory garden and put in a rain barrel.
I carved out the place for the path by removing some over grown shrubs…but I haven’t finished it yet. (Sorry Leo.)

6. Come up with a design plan for the master bath remodel. I’m pretty sure I like the layout I came up with, but as far as what it looks like I have nothing set in stone. I think the biggest challenge will be finding a vanity.

7. Decorate the guest bedroom! This one will be fun. I have already refinished a Broyhill Brasilia headboard to use in the guest bedroom, once we get a new window in there it will be time to paint, put up window treatments, and arrange the furniture! (I don’t think I have shown you guys the space yet, but don’t worry, you will see it soon!)

So there you have it…the list of 2012 Retro Ranch Revamp Resolutions! Stay tuned folks…this is gonna be another busy year!


I don’t know about you guys, but here at the Retro Ranch there is always a project to be done. With Labor Day weekend coming up (three days off from work!) I think a project is in order. My only problem: which one?

That’s where you come in. Help me decide which project I should tackle over the three day weekend!

Here are the contenders:


PROJECT 1: Make a retro-inspired TV stand

I have never loved our TV stand. It is a bit too traditional for my mid century taste, plus it is not ideal for our space. I have also never made a piece of furniture myself, but do you think that is going to stop me from trying? Plus our local home improvement store is having a sale on wood that looks like it might work perfectly for what I have in mind…and what might I have in mind?  Something like this:

This is the Adams Media Console from West Elm. It retails for $349 (plus tax and shipping) and it is still not exactly what I have envisioned for our TV.

Let’s use the magic of PhotoShop to show you how I would build it:

This model is more my speed. Perhaps a little longer with three compartments, perhaps stained instead of painted (not sure about that yet) and no drawers.
(Remember I have never built furniture before so I doubt it would be a good idea to start with drawers!


PROJECT 2: Refinish the Broyhill Brasilia headboard I scored over a year ago!

If you think you might be seeing double, you’re right. I have two of these headboards. The above headboard was purchased for $10 about a year ago. It isn’t in the greatest shape. I bought sandpaper, stain, varnish, etc. to try to refinish it (for use in my guest bedroom) but I haven’t had the time to do it yet. The sooner I get the headboard ready for the guest bedroom, the sooner I can decorate it and share the process on this blog. I am also slightly terrified that I might mess this headboard up (which could also be why I haven’t done anything with it yet) but it is pretty messed up already so there isn’t much to loose.


PROJECT 3: Install the edging on the corner garden.

Remember this project?

Well it isn’t quite complete. I have all the composite edging in the garage just waiting to be installed. It could be a lifesaver come spring to have this project completed. The edging would help contain the mulch. I could also try to acquire some large rocks from my Uncle to place amongst the flowers.


PROJECT 4: Make some awesome shelves.

A couple of years ago, I became obsessed with these mini chairs. I had them on cube shelving on a small wall at my last house but I haven’t found the right way to display them on the giant walls here at the Retro Ranch.

About a month ago I unpacked them and put them up on the shelf in my office, but it is not a great way to display these awesome little chairs. Too much clutter!

I started brainstorming for a better way to house them and came up with these:

How cool would it be if I made the mini chairs some mini ranch house shelves for them to “live” in!

These are still in the rough planning stage, but if I got cracking on them, I could probably get at least one built this weekend, right?


So there you have it. Four projects of varying difficulty. I could possibly get at least one of them done this weekend (or close to done) if I could just decide which one to focus my energy on. What’s your project-tion?