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Stone Soup Garden

02 December 2010

Stone Soup Garden
contributed by Yarnnation

One of my best friends turned 30 this week.  She had decided to flee the country for this momentous birthday, depriving me of the opportunity to throw her a big party.  She only made one mistake.  She gave me the key to her house. . . (insert slightly evil giggle here.)

Sarah is one of the most giving and generous people I know.  She "is the gooey, sticky...stuff that holds" our group of friends together. (name that movie. . .) She often spends so much time doing things for other people that she is left with very little time  to do anything for herself.

When Sarah and her husband Jon bought their house a few years ago, along with a slew of things to fix on the inside of the house, they also inherited what Sarah has called the "Northwest Living Encyclopedia of Noxious Weeds."  Sarah has spent hours nursing the nearly dead rose garden in her front yard back to health.  Her huge back yard, however, sat relatively unchanged, a giant intimidating jungle.

Until we (Tabitha, Kristin, Kristen, Sonya, Denise, Amanda, Melanie, Rachel, Elle, Meghan, myself, and our 17 children, all under the age of 5)  showed up. . .

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Never underestimate what a group of women (and the occasional help from a husband) can do.

At the end of the day, Sarah's yard looked like this.

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For several months I had been compiling materials on Sarah's back lot (and lying through my teeth to her about what I was planning on doing with them - no, there are no Jews in my attic!) Nearly all of the materials were recycled and came off of craigslist.org, freecycle, one our our houses, or one of our neighbors' houses. 

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We did what ever it took to keep the kids out of trouble and out of the way.  Movies, water tables, snacks, and even getting them to help with the work were all strategies we employed.

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Never get in the way of a mama with a sawsall. . .
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or hedge trimmers. . . just some sound advise.  We may or may not be releasing pent up agitation that accumulates during the child rearing process!

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The end of day three.

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Yes, working with babies around may slow you down a little bit, but look what you get in return! Aren't they adorable? 

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And, when they are feeling up to it, the preschools were actually pretty helpful.

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The end of day four.

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By day five the yard was beginning to take shape.

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And some of the kids were starting to fall apart. 

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By the end of day six the patio is complete, the raised beds are installed, and the potting bench is in place (if not yet secure.)

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On day seven the lot of us earth loving North-westerners showed up with plants and more plants, all from our own well loved gardens. It amazed me that we easily filled up most of Sarah's garden.

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The end of day seven with just some clean up and a few finishing touches before Sarah returns the next day.

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Do you recognize the chairs? Yep, they were for Sarah all along!
The fire pit is some kind of old metal planter or bowl. I got them off of Craitslist and even the man who had them didn't know what they were for sure. I painted this one with a high heat epoxy paint to make it safe to build a fire in. The bricks are from my neighbor's chimney he recently tore down.  The little table was a roadside rescue by Kristin and I made the top out of left over materials.  

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The white panels are an old school garage door that one of Amanda's neighbors was getting rid of. This window was in the free section at the the ReStore. The wreath I found at Goodwill.  It was tightly bound and I released it from it's ties after painting it to get that look.

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The ladder came out of Sarah's basement. I made the shelves, which are easily removed and replaced so the ladder is still functional, from reclaimed wood that was s cedar fence in its previous life. The items on the shelf (which look better from a front angle, but were purposely left somewhat sparse so Sarah had room to add her own favorite things) all came out of our attics, basements, and gardening sheds.

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The super cool glass jugs also came out of Sarah's basement, a relic of her beer brewing days.  The pieces of metal that they are resting on are vintage gas stove burners from the ReStore, painted to match the color scheme. 

The table, the beautiful, beautiful table, was another roadside rescue of Kristin's (the woman is amazing, I tell ya.)  It was in sad shape, but the cedar had aged to the most beautiful color.  We tightened up the rusted old bolts as best we could (which was pretty good, if I say so myself) and then sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded the top.  I applied tung oil to the top after that to protect it and bring out it's color and detail.  The legs were painted to match the chairs and then distressed to match the age and style of the table.  The bench was given the same treatment.

Tabitha came up with the "Stone Soup Garden" and it just fit so perfectly.  We created this "birthday card" to hang in the garden, each of us signed the back of it.

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There are five raised beds.  They were made from the same reclaimed cedar fence.  The trellis is the frame to an old daybed that had lost its hardware long ago.  The photos in this picture are of each of our kids holding letters that together read "Happy Birthday Auntie Sarah."

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One of my favorite parts are the old painted storm pipes planted with succulents.

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These very cool wreaths were also discovered hiding in Sarah's basement.  The frames came from Kristin's house.  We spray painted them and they add just a perfect little pop of color to the wreaths.

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These windows were pulled out of a house in North Seattle that is currently under renovation.  I saw the post on craigslist about 9:00pm one night.  I knew where the house was because I had also picked up some broken concrete a few weeks earlier from the same house.  I knew they would be gone in the morning so I pulled myself off of my couch and drove over there right then to pick them up.  The bunches of herbs hanging from each window came from Meghan's yard.

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The patio was made using "urbanite" or broken up concrete.  We stained the concrete to give it more of a stone like look.  After filling in the spaces between with gravel and sand we put a layer of dirt on top of everything, and planted steppable ground covers.  As our lovely Seattle rain works its magic the pavers will emerge and the ground covers will fill in to create a beautiful natural looking patio.

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Yes, Sarah, your friends are crazy, but in a good way!  We love you to pieces.  Happy Birthday, dear friend.

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Liz December 2, 2010 at 5:13 PM  

This made me cry. What wonderful friends you are to her...as I'm sure she'd say of you.

How awesome!


Kim @ Second Time Furniture December 2, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

Unbelievable! What an amazing gift! I can't believe you girls did that with all the little ones running around! :)

Korrie@RedHenHome December 2, 2010 at 5:39 PM  

Oh, I want to be your friend too! What an amazing gift. Thanks for sharing it with us!

White Winged Dove~Stevie Nicks Tribute Band December 2, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

WOW this is a phenomenal thing you have done, I love it....Good Karma is flowing your way!
Happy Holidays!

Duchess December 2, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

Cassity, thank you so much for featuring Sarah's garden. It was such a special project and experience for us. It makes me so happy to have you share it with the world.

Reenie December 2, 2010 at 6:23 PM  

WOW!!! You gals worked your booties off!! It looks amazing...what great friends and a wonderful surprise. I hope y'all have many parties out there hanging by the fireplace and enjoying friends and family =)

Lisa December 2, 2010 at 8:46 PM  

What a great bunch of friends you are! I'm sure Sarah is thrilled and touched that you did this.

Anonymous,  December 2, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

Wow, you girls did a wonderful job! Looks fantastic! It was a touching post, I love it!

Sarah December 3, 2010 at 12:10 AM  

At the time I was honored, touched and flabbergasted. I am happy to report that 4 months later the garden is looking great (even after a snow!) and I still feel the same way. I am very appreciative, lucky and *blessed*.

Baye December 3, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

This is one lucky lady to have so many giving and caring friends. The looks on the kids' faces behind Sarah as she reads the hanging papers are priceless.

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