Category Archives: Big Brown

Bee Saga

Hey guys! It’s officially spring, and almost summer, here in north Florida. The pear trees have bloomed, our grass is green again, baby ducks having taken over the lakes, and the bees are buzzing… albeit, less bees at Big Brown. 😉

A few months after Ray and I bought our house we noticed some bees flying around a column on the outside of our sunroom. Because we were planning on having our wedding reception in our backyard (PS- it was awesome), we had the yard sprayed for bugs (mainly mosquitos) and we also had pest control spray the bees. Listen, I know we shouldn’t kill the bees… but I also know you can’t have your grandparents or pastor or photographer or tiny babies being stung at your nuptials.

About a year or two later, the bees showed up again. I was pissed because I didn’t know anything about bee pheromones and I thought the pest service we used just did a terrible job when they originally sprayed. After some deciphering, we figured out that the hive was actually inside the concrete column underneath our house. Cool, right? I stressed about it for a while, but ultimately the bees were keeping to themselves and we didn’t have any money to fix the problem anyway.

The bee activity was at a minimum, until the hive split. Twice. At the time we literally had no idea what was going on. When a hive gets too large for the given space, the worker bees will start grooming a new queen. Once the new queen reaches maturity, she leaves and takes a portion of the hive with her, thus a split. The new hive will find a place to hang for a while and send a few bees out to scout a location for a permanent home. The first time this happened we had a bee tornado and it was truly terrifying. The second time we just saw a cluster of calm, docile bees on our palm tree. Still a little terrifying.

Since then we’ve had several people come out and look into our bee situation. One guy (an ex cop, mind you) who said he knew loads about bees, got scared and never came back. Another guy took 3 months to respond to emails. Another guy thought the job looked too hard. I don’t know if we were just having bad luck or weren’t asking the right people or what… but it wasn’t working.

A few weeks ago our good friend, Lacey, said she had a friend who could possibly help us. In comes Phillip. Phillip came out several times, thoroughly assessed the bee situation, examined the column which housed the hive, and ultimately relocated majority of our bees and properly sealed the column so they can’t return. He was awesome! 

While Phillip was awesome, Ray, Lacey, and myself were… well, kind of dumb. Between the three of us, we managed to get 5 bee stings because we couldn’t help but watch the bee removal process. My sting, which was in the middle of my forehead, happened 5 seconds after I walked outside. OF COURSE. My face was swollen for a few days, but thankfully I didn’t stop breathing or anything.

It’s honestly hard to believe that after 7 years of struggling, within a week of meeting Phillip, all our bees were gone! We’re so happy! If you’re local and have a bee situation, or see a hive clustered up like in some of my photos… I’ve got a great bee guy!

Ikea Faves 2018

I was in Ikea a few weeks ago with my friend, Kristi. She was looking to purchase a dresser which ended up being out of stock. We didn’t spend a ton of time in Ikea, but long enough for me to remember how diverse their products are. When I say “diverse”, I mean varying in style, price, and usefulness.
There are basically two opinions on Ikea. One being that it’s a great and inexpensive place to buy trendy furniture and home goods. The other being that Ikea has cheaply made, generic,  and poor quality products. My opinion falls somewhere in the middle. I LOVE going to Ikea and I’m very into the scandy design elements… However, I do think you need a good eye. Some products (mainly furniture) can come off a little college dorm-y. 

Below are some of my favorite products available at Ikea currently.

Dvala Pink Sheets – These are the perfect shade of millennial pink and I can’t wait to get them on my bed. They’re soft and inexpensive and exactly what I need.

Korken Glass Carafes – We own several of these. They’re perfect or mixing party drinks or just keeping water cold in the fridae.

Kallax – We currently own 2 2X4 kallax shelving units for our record collection. This shelving unit, along with its various accessories, provide a multitude of shelving solutions.

Svalnas Wall Mount System – The combination desk and storage system is both beautiful and functional. Perfect for a home office.

Sommar hanging planter – I love the white and pink combo and want to purchase several for our sunroom.

Snofsa Clock – This clock has a 60’s glam vibe and I love it.

What are you loving at Ikea these days?

Big Brown Porch Inspiration

bb porch

hanging ferns. herb plant stand. folding chairs. porch light

Our porch is a hot mess, but we’re hoping to replace and repair it this spring or summer. I want lots of hanging ferns (maybe we’ll also add some to the balcony), wooden folding chairs, a place for our herbs to live, and updated lighting. I’m going for a very lazy-southern-lemonade-drinking porch.

Homeownership is a weird thing. I’ve been thinking a lot about style and decorating and some of the changes we want to make in and around our home. I’ve had the same (or very similar) taste and style my entire adult life, but I’ve been able to refine it over the last several years. It’s not like I’m super mature or anything now, and although I still love kitschy vintage stuff, I don’t want my home to feel like a time warp. I think this is a consequence of home ownership, not too many of us have all the cash-money to do everything up front, so you have to wait, and during the process of waiting you can really figure out what you like in your home. It seems only natural to evolve, and I like to see that process.

I’ll make sure to post the porch progress (+ anything else we do in the house) as it happens!


Bar Ideas

Friends! We here at Big Brown, aka just Ray and I, are on the hunt for a dry bar/bar cart situation. Actually, we’ve been on this hunt for a while. Currently our bar items live in our kitchen on our old table along with a juicer (also no permanent home) and old magnets. We need something better!
A few years ago while yard sale-ing, we found a rusty, grimy, cart that we took apart, sanded. painted, sealed, and put back together. It now sits in our dinning room and we use it as our coffee cart. It’s perfect in it’s size, simplicity, and function.
As much as I love our coffee cart,  I want to go with something different if we go with a cart-style for our bar. Maybe something with wood like this:1

Mid Century Bar Cart from West Elm
I love the mix of brass and wood and the clean simple lines.
I also love the idea of going with a consul or credenza and repurposing it into a bar:2
Modern Media Consul from West Elm. A Little price-y, but it has a beautiful design.
Similar to the Modern Media Consul, is this “Ikea Hack” bar cart DIY from Brittany Makes blog. It’s a similar style and I love the price point!
What’s your favorite of the one I posted? Have you seen any great bar situations around? Send them my way!

Lawn Woes

IMG_0591Guys, I just have to share/vent/rant/cry for a moment about lawn maintenance. Our lawn is a straight up meadow in the front. Our hedges are out of control. We have a jungle patch in our back yard. For some reason, it’s 100% impossible for us to find a dependable yard guy that isn’t going to charge us $150 to mow our grass and trim our hedges.
Whew, let’s start from the beginning. You may be asking “Why do you need a yard person, anyway?! Cut your own grass!” For the first year we owned Big Brown, Ray cut our grass. Unfortunately, our lawn mower broke, we paid to have it fixed, and then it broke again. We borrowed my dad’s lawn mower and it was stolen, along with our broken one, out of our shed the next day. We were really REALLY poor at the time and replacing my dad’s lawn mower was a stretch. We certainly couldn’t afford to replace ours that didn’t work anyway.
Last summer, after going through several lawn guys, we finally found someone who did a not-so-great job, but showed up regularly so we kept him. He quit yard work in the fall.
We knew we would have to hire someone again for this year, because after Ray’s surgeries and him being sick for so long it wasn’t the best idea for him to do yard work. This summer we’ve gone through a couple of people. One who we paid to mow our grass and trim the hedges and then he never trimmed the hedges. One who made promises to mow and then 32948203984 excuses not to. One who said he got stung by a bee, so he went home. One who quoted us $100 for the yard and then a week later quoted us $200. Hello? Our yard isn’t THAT big. We had another guy who mowed once, and now his mower has been broken for a month.IMG_0592 Why is it so difficult to find a reasonably priced lawn guy who is consistent and does a good job? Over the last few years, we’ve received several letters from the city telling us we have to cut our grass or we’ll be charged $200 a day. They claim our grass is in violation of a city ordinance… which, I mean, it probably is. Guys, I’m over it!! Can we just replace all our grass with rocks or mulch? 😉
If you’re local and have a great lawn guy please send him my way!

While I absolutely did not write this blog post to coax someone into mowing our grass for us, our good friend Jonny was taking care of our yard before we came home from work. How sweet is that? We really have some great friends. We also were given several names and numbers of reputable yard guys. Thanks, guys!