MVP: Alyssum

My MVP for this year’s garden is 100% the Sweet Alyssum I sowed from last year’s dollar store clearance seeds.

Garage as viewed from upstairs #FireflyCottage #garden

As you can see, it’s filled in a large amount of space around the garage, keeping weeds out for the most part and looking lovely at the same time. And the area on the left, where there isn’t any Alyssum? That’s because I didn’t get that area cleared out until later and didn’t seed any there. And on the right side of the garage it SUPER filled in around the hostas.

Garage surrounding garden

It’s perfect and I really hope to either save some seeds or that it will self-sow and come back next year. I love that it required pretty much zero work from me – I just scattered seeds and then kept it watered, mostly, and it thrived! I’ve struck out so far with finding end of season seeds on clearance this year, but I’m still keeping my eye out. If you see any, let me know what store!



Things are going pretty well in the Firefly Cottage gardens overall. The flowers and ornamentals I sowed and planted are really doing quite well – I’m so happy that so many of the Dollar Store clearance bin seeds from last year germinated.

I haven’t grown Zinnias before and I love them! Pollinators seem to love them, too, and I’m hoping to be able to save seeds for next year.
Gardens at Firefly Cottage
So many of them remind me of ladies’ hats from yore.

The Cosmos have also been growing really exuberantly – some of these are almost as tall as I am!
Gardens at Firefly Cottage

This is Celosia, which I haven’t grown before:
Gardens at Firefly Cottage
I actually think I weeded some of this when it was young because it looked weedy and I couldn’t identify it! D’oh! At this stage, you can so tell it’s related to Amaranth, can’t you?

I also planted a bunch of seeds around the house and the Petunias have been really going to town:
Gardens at Firefly Cottage
I am usually not a huge fan of these annuals – I like perennials since they just keep on going and require so much less from me – BUT I am seeing so many pollinators that I think I may change my attitude.

In the raised bed, I have had a powdery mildew issue. I have been almost entirely ignoring this garden except to pick the occasional cucumber, though, so I guess I can’t complain.
Gardens at Firefly Cottage

I do have two sizeable pumpkins growing, though, so maybe the powdery mildew isn’t such a big deal?
Raised bed garden
I wonder if they’ll turn out okay!

I sowed marigold seeds all around the perimeter of this bed and some of them are huge!
Gardens at Firefly Cottage
This one is easily over four feet tall! Most of the rest are somewhere between one and two feet tall.

Lastly for now, I also threw down some dill seeds on the north side of the garage and there are a few sprouts:
I just love the smell of dill, don’t you?


cool, cool summer

It has been a super hot summer this year! We have been running the three room AC units we inherited with the house a lot more often than I’d like. However, now we don’t have to anymore!

furnace comparison

Woo! It’s a new furnace with central air! You can see the comparison here of old on the left, new on the right. It’s a much more dramatic change in person, but you can definitely see that the new unit extends less far out toward the right of these photos. It also has a much better air filter (designed for people with allergies like me) and a working humidifier. It’s also way quieter and of course loads more efficient. Hooray! This is our last huge house project for now and I’m so glad to have it done with. I would much rather work on smaller DIY projects ourselves (and not be paying huge amounts for these big ticket items).


water-related fix-ups at Firefly Cottage

We’re moving right along completing more projects!

Here’s where we started in the laundry room when we bought the house:
new house

This original concrete washtub was awesome! Except that it leaked and the washing machine drained into it so every time we did a load of laundry we had water on the floor. Also the metal legs were super rusty (thanks, constant water!) and looked like they could crumble at any time.

Basement project end of day one

When we had the basement waterproofed, they had to break up the sink to get it out of the house (I don’t even know how many hundreds of pounds it weighed). I was sad to let it go, but happy to think of not having water on the floor all the time.

So then we had a blank spot for ages:

Basement project - finished, or is it? Many things left incomplete

The washing machine was draining into a temporary pipe during this time (the one coming off to the left of the vertical PVC pipe – the washing machine hose was clamped on to the top of this pipe).

And now: TA-DA!

Washtub installed

It’s a brand new washtub! That doesn’t have a washing machine hose clamped to the side of it!

That hose now has it’s very own dedicated pipe that is secure and not temporary in nature:

Washtub installed

It might be ridiculous to be excited about this, but until you DON’T have a sink in the laundry room (or even on the same floor), you immediately realize how much you wish you had one.

Washtub installed

In other exciting basement-related, water-related news, we have a new water heater!

Water heater

It’s tankless, as you can see, and we are really geeked to have it. It is a huge amount more efficient than our previous tank style, and it takes up a lot less space. It also doesn’t have the janky vent going through the wall into the other room and out the fireplace chimney, which was a big concern for me. We’d like to finish that room eventually and having a big hot-to-the-touch vent is not a thing that should be in such a room (or anywhere, really). Next we’ll be having a new furnace installed with central air. I am super geeked for that! I think that will be our last mega huge project for now and I’m excited to be done with major things. Weekendy DIY projects are way more my speed.


it’s a chair!

I finally, FINALLY! found a chair to use at my sewing table in CraftyTown.

Garage sale chair

We found this at a garage sale near where we live. It’s a lovely style – those curves are gorgeous – and only needs a little work. The seat is actually fine, but I will recover it with something I like better (and is not stick-to-your-legs plastic). I will also clean it up with some wood soap, though it’s not really too bad. I’ve been using a folding chair for over a year, so I am really excited to have a real chair!

At the same sale, I also picked up this adorbs glasses-case/tiny clutch:
Garage sale clutch/glasses case

It’s in perfect condition!


monarch mania

I was so excited when I came home for lunch yesterday and saw a monarch butterfly zipping around the zinnias out front. This is the first monarch I’ve seen, despite our milkweed plants growing really nicely. I went over to check out the milkweeds to see if I saw any eggs and I think that I do!

Possible monarch egg

I’m not 100% sure that this is an egg, but it looks likely! I hope it is!


garage garden progress

This weekend we finally got a little bit of a break from the heat and humidity so I was able to get out and transplant some more clearance perennials and hand-me-downs from my folks.

Garage-surrounding garden

I started by clearing out the last section of this area next to the garage, which was full of crab grass and other weeds (speaking of, the Lamb’s Quarters has been ridiculous this year! It must love the heat). I yanked those out and put in some Coreopsis, Speedwell, Guara, Pachysandra, Lamium, and Vinca. I’m really just trying to get the area covered right now so that it will help keep weeds out. The gnats were THE WORST so I only stayed out as long as I needed to. There’s still some Wisteria popping up in this area but I didn’t take the time to do a good removal job – I just yanked what I could get. Maybe when it’s less horrible outside I can do a better job – I’m sure I will when, eventually, I am moving plants around.

The area this section continues into is looking pretty decent, actually:

Garage-surrounding garden

Aside from the big sprawl of crab grass I need to yank out of the Alyssum, this area is looking pretty okay:

Garage-surrounding garden

And the Alyssum and Hostas on the other side of the garage are looking pretty darn good considering I seeded and transplanted them all this season:

Garage-surrounding garden

Some Candytuft flowers are beginning to poke through the Alyssum in this area:

Dollar store Candytuft seeds coming through

And the Dill I seeded nearer the side of the garage is sprouting! Not sure I’ll get much usable this year, but next year hopefully it will come back:

Dill sprouting

Other areas of the yard are coming along, though due to heat and weeds things are definitely not looking as good as I wish they were. Please try to ignore the horrible crabgrass sprawling everywhere around everything!

The Moonflowers are starting to grow up my improvised triangular trellis:

Moonflower starting to climb

The Morning Glories and Zinnias around the birdbath are coming up:

Bird bath with morning glories and zinnias

I know that Morning Glories will want to be taller than this, but frankly I’m fine with just the foliage at this point.

The shrub rose out front has been reblooming again!

Shrub rose reblooming

I just love how unstoppable this thing is.

Despite being set upon by Japanese Beetles, the Zinnias along the front walkway are blooming pretty nicely!

Front walkway with zinnias and others

At least on the east side of the walkway. The west side must not have gotten as many seeds:

Front walkway with zinnias and others

I am so looking forward to cooler temperatures as we get into fall. I would love to spend a lot more time out in the garden than I’ve been able to – I just can’t take the heat! helped me a lot!


cellar stair

When we were working on the undernook project last weekend, we had to remove one slat of wood on the kitty-corner area to get the paneling off. That whole area is a future project, but for now we just removed the one slat we needed to. We found a treasure underneath!

Aladdin kit home cellar stair note

Our home, being a kit home, was built from pieces shipped to the homeowner via train, and you can see here that this piece was labeled #3794 Cellar Stair. How cool! I also love the flourish of this cursive writing. Such a neat little thing to find!


undernook update

Last weekend we tackled a project we’ve been talking about for ages. It didn’t take very long and it’s so nice to have it done with!

In the basement, adjacent to the laundry area, is the undernook – the little square-ish room underneath the kitchen nook. Someone had paneled this little area off and installed a door at some point in history, but we don’t really need it to be separate and would in fact prefer it to be open to the laundry area.

new house

The pallets on the floor of the laundry room went away ages ago, but we haven’t done much with the area otherwise. Until last weekend!


Ta-da! Now it’s all open and one source of allergens is gone (the wood was damaged at the floor level where it had flooded at some point – nothing like dry rot and other assorted molds/whathaveyou to make me feel gross). As you can see we also have an air system in here which is probably better in a more open area. We now need to clean the walls in here – I’d like to paint them so we have a clean, tidy surface before we put up shelving – as they are pretty gross. Some areas have efflorescence that has been there since before we bought the house, and other areas are water stained or dusty or grimy. Time to do some cleaning! If anyone has done this type of project before, all advice and opinions are welcome!


pod person

My milkweed plants are growing and sprouting pods!

Milkweed pods

Last year the plants didn’t get large enough to flower, but this year several of them are doing quite well!

Milkweed pods

I haven’t seen any butterflies around them, and the leaves are distinctly uneaten, so I am guessing that they didn’t attract any monarchs. There are several smaller plants that didn’t flower this year, so hopefully in future years I’ll have enough that butterflies are more likely to visit. These plants are also helping to fill in the bed on the side of the garage, so the more of them there are, the fewer weeds I have to pull!