It’s Jou Life has moved // New site address: itsjoulife.com

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It’s Jou Life | a DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

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Friends of Ours.

Hello, and welcome to It’s Jou Life! We’re Wayne and Jennifer, a (relatively) newly wed couple who found love in the most unexpecting place. This is our DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

We started this blog because our family and friends always ask us how we grow our own organic vegetables, what is Wayne woodworking on now, to send over our miso black cod recipe, what snacks stock our pantry, a tutorial on that cute zippered pouch, tips for marathon running, where do we worship, what to bring for a camping trip, what’s Jennifer’s skincare regimen… you get the idea. This is our way to share life’s loves.

Wayne of all trades is an engineer by day and a woodworker/gardener/chef by night. Jennifer is an activist, artist, actress, and an alliterations addict. You would often find us dancing to our own beat, exploring the great outdoors, at home watching Netflix, and hand crafting everything we own. We find the beauty in our every day, with each other, and in the Lord our Savior.

We both live to create with purpose and hopes to inspire. Thank you for joining us as we try to do all things with love. Here is a glimpse into our quirky lives.

//

We’ve refreshed and re-launched our It’s Jou Life blog to streamline and create more content that is relevant in our lives.

It’s Jou Life has moved! New site address:

http://www.itsjoulife.com

{ diy } succulent wedding centerpiece

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHWhat do you get when you mix an urban gardener with an DIY-enthusiast? DIY succulent terrarium centerpieces! We spent an hour of our Sunday to create a few of these lovely centerpieces for our upcoming wedding. We’re still having our florist make some floral centerpieces, but felt creating these additional DIY centerpieces is a beautiful way to add a personal touch and share our love for succulents with our guests. (It’s also friendly to our wedding budget!) I’ve learned floral centerpieces can cost from $75-$200. Materials to create these DIY succulent centerpieces cost about $15-$20 each.

A succulent terrarium isn’t only for weddings, it can also add the finishing touch to a coffee table, low-maintenance greenery to a desk or even a unique housewarming gift!

The Usual Suspects:
– Glass container with wide opening
– Succulents, assorted
– Cactus & Succulent soil mix
– Horticultural charcoal (optional)
– Decorative pebbles or river rocks
– A spoon, or little shovel

1. Place a 1-inch layer of pebbles/river rocks on the bottom of container; this provides drainage so the plants won’t rot in standing water. We used a mixture of large-size and small-size river rocks. We bought our glass containers from Michael’s craft store and succulents from our local garden nursery.

2. (Optional) Add a 1/2-inch of horticultural charcoal. The charcoal will help keep the terrarium smelling fresh. Smooth out this layer too. We read it helps to rinse the charcoal before to prevent a layer of black dust from collecting on the inside of the vase.

3. Place a layer of cactus mix soil, a fast-draining soil that retains little moisture. Use your little shovel or hand to level the cactus mix soil in your glass container.

4. Remove plants from pots. If you have multiple succulents in one pot, gently break them apart and use them separately. Scoop a little hole in the soil and place roots in soil. Gently add more soil around the edges of the container and around the base of the plants and pat around the roots. Sometimes the lanky, tall succulents have a difficult time standing up and tend to topple over. Pack more soil around them and strategically place some large-size river rocks around the base to create some stability. We used around 3-5 succulents per centerpiece.

5. Finish the look by adding more river rocks on the top layer. Done!

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

Care Tips:
1. Give the terrarium direct sunlight every day for at least five or six hours.
2. Water the terrarium every two weeks. Water lightly–don’t over water.
3. The water should lightly drain to the bottom. After watering, there should not be more than an inch of water visible in the gravel at the bottom.
4. Use your finger to touch the soil and check if it’s dry before watering.

We still have to make more and look forward to shopping for more succulent varieties at our local nurseries!

{ friday favorites } peonies, i’m jelly, beets & carrots

{ florals } The blooms of spring and summer reminds me of everything romantic. I just love the lusciousness of peonies, ranunculus, and whimsical arrangements.

ranunculus via it's jou life http://wp.me/p3cljj-aIwhimsical via it's jou life http://wp.me/p3cljj-aIteapot via it's jou life http://wp.me/p3cljj-aI

{ cute print } The creative geniuses of Wong Fu Productions designed this adorable “I’m Jelly” print. I first saw this print at my friend Sara & Jeff’s home in Virginia. I knew I had to order it for our new home. My lovely friend, Lucy, surprised me with this last week! She spoils me.

wong fu print "i'm jelly" via it's jou life http://wp.me/p3cljj-aI{ garden harvest } Over the weekend we harvested the last of the carrots and beets. The beets and carrots are so fresh and so delicious when eaten raw. We also boiled the beets (we recommend roasting, but were on a time crunch) for salad and put the carrots in a Japanese-style curry.

beets & carrots via it's jou life http://wp.me/p3cljj-aI

Summer Sprouts

We planted pole beans and cucumbers in the garden about 10 days ago and they recently sprouted!

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Pole beans planted around a wire cage and cucumbers planted under a trellis.

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Baby bean and cucumber sprouts.

The cucumber seeds were started under plastic bottles with the bottom removed to create a mini-greenhouse.  After the seeds had sprouted, we removed the bottles and replaced them with plastic rings cut from water bottles to keep the seedlings separated from the mulch.  This helps to keep the seedlings from staying too moist which can cause disease.

We have also been harvesting blueberries as they ripen.  Blueberries don’t ripen all at the same time so you should check every couple days and harvest the ripe ones.  It can be a little tricky to tell if blueberries are ripe, but look for berries that are completely blue/purple without any hint of green.  Blueberries can also be sweeter if left on the bush an extra day or two after they turn colors.  Just remember to pick them before the garden animals do.

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Blueberries.

Garden Update

The longer days and warmer weather are great for the garden.

The beets and carrots we planted a couple months ago are almost ready to harvest.

homegrown beets via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U homegrown carrot & beet greens via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U homegrown carrots via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U

Since beets grow partially out of the ground, you can easily tell when they are ready for harvest.  Beets can be picked small or large depending on personal preference.  Beet greens are also edible and are very nutritious as well.  To determine if carrots are ready for harvest, gently brush away the soil near the carrot top to check the carrot size.  Its always a surprise when pulling carrots because you never know whats hidden under the surface.

Our recently planted tomatoes are also growing strong and will hopefully provide us with plenty of tomatoes over the summer.

growing tomatoes via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U

Each tomato seedling is surrounded by a plastic ring made from recycled 1-gallon water bottles.  This is to keep mulch away from the base of the tomato plant to allow the stem to remain dry and helps to prevent disease.  When watering tomatoes, try to keep the leaves as dry as possible to help prevent blight.  Watering in the morning is also best so it give the leaves time to dry during the day.

Summer Seeds

Our summer seed order from Johnny’s Selected Seeds came in a few days ago!  Excited about all the different fruits and vegetables we have planned.  Click the links to read additional details.

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Seed packets from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Hybrid Diploid Watermelon – Little Baby Flower F1: Small 5.5 inch fruit with dark pink flesh that is sweet and crisp with high sugar content.

Hybrid Cantaloupe – Sarah’s Choice F1: Named “Most Flavorful” by Johnny’s.  Also has resistance to powdery mildew and fusarium wilt (races 0,1 and 2).

Hybrid Zucchini Squash – Dunja F1: Organic, early and powdery mildew resistant.  Yields dark green, straight zucchinis.  Also resistant to papaya ringspot virus, watermelon mosaic virus and zucchini mosaic virus.

Hybrid Winter Squash – JWS 6823 F1 PMR: Good tasting butternut with shorter vining and smaller fruits compared to Waltham Butternut.  Resistant to powdery mildew.

Slicing Cucumbers – Marketmore 76: Long, slender, dark green cucumbers.  Begins bearing late but picks for a relatively long time.  Resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew (specific races), powdery mildew and scab.

Specialty Cucumber – Diva: Persian cucumber that produces distinctly tender, crisp, sweet, bitter-free, and seedless cukes.  Resistant to cucumber vein yellowing virus, downy mildew (specific races), powdery mildew and scab.

Sweet Peppers – Lunchbox Pepper Mix: Mix of yellow, orange and red snack peppers.  These mini-sized peppers are remarkably sweet and flavorful.

Soybean, Green – Butterbean: Sweet, buttery, and high yielding; Butterbeans are acclaimed as the finest in green vegetable soybeans.

We chose to grow a lot of hybrid varieties because there are a lot of gardens in close proximity in our community garden and diseases can spread quickly.  Also since we have limited space in our community garden, we chose hybrid varieties what were more compact.

DIY Redwood Planters

We’ve been on the lookout for some medium-large planters to house the new blueberry bushes we got, but its been difficult finding good ones at a reasonable price.  So we decided to build our own.  Total cost ended up being around $25-$30 for a 18inch cube shaped planter.  We could have used cheaper wood and reduced the price a bit, but we decided to use redwood for the weather and insect resistance.

Instead of using redwood planks, we used 5.5 inch redwood fence boards.  Fence boards are cheaper than redwood planks and they also have a more rustic, unfinished look.

Materials List:

Cut from 5.5 inch wide redwood fence boards:

  1. 12×7.25 inches – for the planter sides (A)
  2. 3×18 inches – for the planter bottom (B)

Cut from 5.5 inch wide redwood fence boards, but split length-wise so one piece is 3 1/8 inches and the other is 2 3/8 inches.

  1. 4×17.75 inches – for the planter edges (D: 3 1/8, E: 2 3/8)

Cut from 1 3/8 square redwood lumber

  1. 4×17 inches – for the corner posts (F)

We also used 16 2 1/2 inches exterior wood screws and 12 1 1/4 inch exterior wood screws leftover from a previous project.

Tools List:

  1. Saw (we used a hand saw, but a power mitre saw would be much easier)
  2. Power drill
  3. Carpenters square
  4. Tape measure or ruler
  5. Clamps (we didn’t have any but it would have made the project a lot easier)
  6. Pen

Construction:

After cutting all of the required pieces, check the cut edges to make sure they are smooth and remove any sharp splinters.

Then start by constructing the first corner, take two sides (A) and line them up with corner post (F).  All three pieces should sit on top of a base piece (B) and be flush with the edges.

Redwood Planters Step 1 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 1.

Then take the two edging pieces (D and E) and arrange them as shown below (an extra pair of hands might come in handy here).  You can also first screw in the sides to the corner posts, then attach the edging, but we were trying to save some screws.  Be sure to drill pilot holes before driving the screws to make sure the wood doesn’t split.  Pay close attention to how the seams overlap each other.  The seam between the two sides (A) is covered by the edging piece (D).  The side pieces (A) and corner post (F) should sit on top of a base piece (F).  The edge pieces (D and F) should sit on the ground.

Redwood Planters Step 2 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 2.

Next, either clamp the pieces of wood together or have a friend hold them while they are screwed together using 2 1/2 inch exterior wood screws.  Make sure you attach the screws in to the center of the corner posts for a solid connection.

boxE via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R DIY Redwood Planter. Step 3 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 3.

After the first corner is done, continue building the corners around the planter.

 DIY Redwood Planter - Step 4 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 4.

After all of the corners are completed, slide the remaining sides (A) down the grooves and screw in place.

boxH via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 5.

The final step is to attach the bottom boards (B).  Lay out the boards so there is around a 1/2 inch gap between the three boards for drainage.  Then screw in to place using a combination of the 1 1/4 inch screws along the edge and the 2 1/2 inch screws in to the corner posts (F).

DIY Redwood Planters - Step 6 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters  – Step 6.

Now you are ready to plant!  We planted blueberries so we could better control the soil since blueberries grow best in acid soil.

DIY Blueberry Planters via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters in the garden.

Weekend Gardening

Busy weekend in the garden! We bought and planted 5 varieties of tomatoes during our community garden’s annual heirloom tomato sale.  The seedlings were grown by Windrose Farms in Paso Robles.  Descriptions below are from their plant tags.

  1. Japanese Black Trifele – Black Tomato, Indeterminate, 75-80 days.  Exceptional fruit with the shape & size of a pear with rich flavor.  Abundant producer of great purplish-black, smooth fruit.  A favorite! Good for coastal gardens.
  2. Cherokee Purple – Dark Purple Tomato, Indeterminate, 80 days.  A must-have in every garden.  Beautiful 12 oz dusky rose/purple heirloom beefsteak from Tennessee, with a sweet rich flavor.
  3. Isis Candy – Bi-Color Cherry, Indeterminate, 67 days.  Delightful medium sized yellow-gold cherry tomato with red marbling.  From just a blush of red to streaks , always a sweet delicious rich fruity taste.
  4. San Marzano – Roma Tomato, Indeterminate, 80 days.  Excellent for canning, paste, or puree.  Rectangular pear-shaped, 3-1/2 in. long bright red fruit with mild flavor & meaty texture.
  5. Cosmonaut Volkov – Indeterminate, 65 days.  This Russian heirloom, named form the Russian space explorer who fell through space is the quintessential eating tomato.  A juicy, sweet, rich full-bodied early slightly flattened 8-12 oz. tomato that will produce well in cold or coastal conditions.

We choose a good mix of colors, shapes and purposes to give us good variety all summer long.  Since we are growing our tomatoes on a trellis, we choose indeterminate tomatoes that will keep growing till they die.

We also built 2 trellises (72 inches tall by 96 inches long by 30 inches long) to support the tomatoes, cucumbers and butternut squash we have planned for the summer.

Garden Trellis via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W Garden Overview via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W
Trellises in the garden.

We also saw the first red strawberries from our strawberry tower!  Looking forward to many more.

Our First Strawberries via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W
First strawberries from the tower.

{ jou farms & eats } field of greens

Wayne planted baby greens a couple months ago and we finally harvested some yesterday–so lush and plentiful! Within a few hours we made Easter dinner: Roasted organic herb chicken, baby multi-colored potatoes and the freshest of fresh, home-grown baby greens salad. Can’t wait to finish building our trellis so we can grow tomatoes and other summer goodies!

fresh baby greens in gardengreens for dinner{ Photos: Jennifer’s iPhone }

Garden Happenings

An update of whats going on in the garden to mark the beginning of spring.

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Lavender, Feverfew and Daffodils.

We planted some flowers around the garden to help attract bees and other beneficial insects.  They also add color and pleasant scents to the garden.  The lavender is currently blooming while the feverfew and daffodils haven’t bloomed yet.

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Lettuce and Spinach.

We had a bunch of extra lettuce seeds, so we decided to try growing baby greens.  We randomly scattered a variety of lettuce seeds and are planning to pick most of them when they are still young.  We will probably leave a few to grow in to full-size lettuce plants for later.  We also have some larger lettuce that we started on the balcony and transplanted in to the garden.  One of our garden friends also gave us some spinach seedlings.  I’ve always thought that spinach didn’t transplant well because of the long tap root, but the spinach seedlings are doing great.

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Blueberry Bushes.

Our blueberry bushes are growing well with lots of berries.  We haven’t planted them in their more permanent planters yet (still under construction) but they seem to be doing great.  The blueberries are slowly ripening so we plan to cover them with bird netting soon to keep the birds for eating all of the fruit.  We have two varieties of blueberries, Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue, both of which have low-chill requirements since it doesn’t get that cold at the garden.  Blueberries also produce more fruit when two different varieties can cross-pollinate.

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Kale, Beets and Carrots.

The kale plants are ready for another harvest and the beets and carrots are growing nicely.  Remember to keep the carrots and beets evenly watered to produce the best roots.

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Strawberry Tower, Strawberry Flower and Baby Strawberry.

The strawberry plants are doing great in the strawberry tower.  There are lots of strawberry flowers and baby strawberries growing so we are eagerly awaiting our first strawberry harvest!

There are still a few garden tasks that need to be completed before we are ready for summer vegetable planting.  We need to finish construction of the redwood blueberry planters (details coming soon!) as well as construction of the tomato and cucumber trellises.  We also need to finalize our garden plan for the summer and figure out what sorts of vegetables we are going to be growing.