Saturday, August 31, 2013

Laying Sod

So we ordered sod and laid it out yesterday and today.

Please pray that we can keep it alive and that our water bill isn't too too high.

I put it all in my car and I was definitely low riding!  I'm really glad I had a tarp to minimize the dirt mess.  Any volunteers to vacuum out my car, because there is dirt everywhere?

I think it's going to look really nice once it fills in and greens up a bit.  We laid a bit of fescue along the house because it really does stay in the shade the whole time.  The rest of it is bermuda.

We laid bermuda all around the garden too and that looks really nice and clean compared to the washed away dirt and scraggly grass between the stones.

Also, it's finally blistering hot so I have some tomatoes growing!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

3 Great Ideas

With the good summer outdoor weather winding down here over the next few weeks, we very impromptly decided to take this past weekend and mostly finish the eye sore on one side of our house.  You may rememember, there used to be a shed here that was covered in vines and was completely falling apart.  Some time ago, we took it down, and jackhammmered the 5" thick slab it was on.  Some people suggested we keep the slab and just put a new shed on it.  Honestly, that would have been fantastic, but it was creating some serious blockage for water drainage and we always had huge puddles on both sides of the slab.

Okay so after we took away the majority of the big blocks of concrete, we were left with this.

Yes, that was last year before a bunch of grass grew into it on one side.  This was on the side of the house that we don't use, so natuarally we ignored this for a long time becuase we didn't want to deal with it.  All those rocks had to be sifted out of the dirt, it had to be leveled, etc. So before doing this project we remodeled our bathroom and started on the kitchen, got new furniture, went on vacation.  Basically anything to avoid doing this.  But like I said, the good weather is winding down so I thought " okay seriously this is the last outdoor project we have to tackle, and we have to do it now.  The kitchen can wait a bit longer becuase it's all inside and we can do that when it's 30 degrees out."

A few weeks ago, I started sifting the rocks by myself and got about half done.  It was HARD work.  Then we got a lot of rain and it's really really hard to sift rocks with even semi wet dirt so the project was put on hold.  Now the weatherman have predicted no rain for about 2 weeks.  AWESOME TIMING!!!!

Great idea #1 goes to Stephen for suggesting we put up the canopy while we work so we were always in the shade.

Once our trashcan was too heavy to put any more rocks and dirt into it, Good idea #2 I think goes to myself.  I don't have a picture of this, but we used our tarp to pile the rocks onto and then just dragged it to our back porch.  We will then put the rocks into the trashcan every week until they are gone.

We also had to take out the rest of the fence that you see there and another small post that you can't see. Stephen started digging and discovered the concrete was of massive size.

Great idea #3 goes to the long steel rod that helped to pry these out of the ground.  We will probably use it once more for the fence on the other side of the yard and then it will proably collect dust in the garage for a long time.  Still worth it though.
So after two full days of sifting rocks, moving dirt around and leveling the area we are left with this. Even with no grass it looks AWESOME!!!  I'm loving the openess of no fence, so putting one back in is not on the priority list.  We'll be buying sod this week and laying it this coming weekend.  Then watering the heck out of it so it will establish itself and hopefully NOT die over the winter because that would be a major buzz kill.

 Along with the above project, we also decided to take out the 12x12 concrete stones we had all around the garden as a walking path.  The original plan had been to put them in, then have ground cover planted and it would fill in around the path and it would just be lovely and pretty.  Well I tried twice to plant something and they just died.  Then over time, I gave up on weeding the grass out and just let it grown between the stones. Well on the side by the fence, nothing grew and so the dirt just kept washing away.

The first thought was to take out the stones, then put a decorative border around the garden and fill it in with pebble rocks.  I did the math and it was just going to be too expensive.  So then the next plan was to just take them out, put some sod down where needed and let the grass grow.  I promised Stephen that I would maintain it, edge it and it wouldn't get out of control.

Now I have 58 of these on my back porch.  I plan to list them on craigsist as free and put them on the driveway and pray they are all taken within a week.

Now we really do have a pile of debris to deal with on the back porch between the kitchen demo (drywall, wood), fencing, bricks, 2 huge pieces of concrete, and a pile of rocks and grass.  We had first thought we would get a Bagster.  It's a 3 cubic foot rectanglar bag that would can put all this stuff in and leave it on your driveway and Waste Management will come pick it up for you.  Easy peasy.  Well the bag alone costs $30 and then the pick up fee for our area is $115.  As nice as it would be have it all done and gone I just couldn't jusify paying $145 to throw away trash.  Option 2 is the get a trailer and take it to the dump, or just put this all in our trashcan little by little over the next couple of weeks.  Ugh.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Veggie Garden

Every year I have mild success with my garden.  It just depends on what I'm growing if it does well or not.   Last year I did tomatoes and I had so many that I was able to make salsa twice and canned 4 jars of homemade spaghetti sauce, had tomatores for dinner, on burgers and had to give a lot away to people all by mid July.

This year, it is mid august and I have had ONE big tomato out of the 6 tomato plants I planted.  The plants look very healthy, have plenty of leaves and flowers on them, but I'm not getting any fruit from them.

I savored the one tomato for all its glory.  I ate it as a caprese salad and Stephen had a few slices plain.  It was delicous.  I have no idea why the others are not making any tomatoes.  It could be that we've had an extremely rare mild and cool summer and maybe tomatoes grow best when it's blistering hot.  Maybe all the nutrients in the soil were depleted from last years crop.  But I added new soil and fertiziler this year?..?   Who knows, but it makes me sad.

I do have two cherry tomato plants that I doing okay, I think I have picked about 30 from those. I also have two roma plants that have six tomatoes that are just barely starting to ripen.

What has done extremely well this year though is my 2 cumcumber plants.  Holy cow you guys.  This is the current crop.

It is a really good thing that I like cucumbers and know other people that like them as well.  These taste great on their own, as a cucumber/tomato salad or you could also pickle them. I haven't learned how to pickle yet, but I probably should because there are a lot more baby cucumbers growing on the plant.  I've already had to give away about 10 cucumbers, I've eaten a few and I've made this salad twice.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Demo and Drywall

So, we've made some progress on our kitchen.  If you're on facebook, you might have seen some of these pictures.

It took us a few weeks to get to this point because life happened.  But anyway, here we are.  I know all you really care to see are the before and afters so we'll do those first.





Try to imagine it looking even more awesome if I had taken the time to clean off my counters before taking any of these pictures.

The space is so much brighter and so much more open and bigger now that the drop down and flourescent lights are long gone.  We donated the ballasts, covers and lights to our Habitat Restore so they could have a new home.  They probably just threw them away anyway becuase that stuff is really cheap to buy new...but at least we felt better about not throwing it away ourselves.

We still have the pile of studs on our back porch to deal with.  It came in handy for putting up the drywall when we needed it and I'm going to be using some of this to make a halloween decoration.  I'll just have to take out the upteen amount of nails in them.  We found one peice of 14" 2x4  that had 18 nails in it....I counted.  I bet they had the intern do it when the house was built.  Thanks guys...we really appreciated it.

Here are some photos of us doing all the demolition work back in June.

 Obviously it created a very big mess and alot of dust.  After all this is over, I'm going to need to hire some helping hands to dust my entire house. 

Most every wire hung below the ceiling rafters so we hired an electrician to move them all out of the way so we could drywall.  It was an all day job and they used 13 junction boxes.  We knew it was a job we couldn't do ourselves and that it would cost a lot, but it still sucked to write the check.

We had Stephen's Dad and Ana come down for a day and help us install all the recessed lights and undercabinet LED lighting.  We knew we could cut our expensives if all we had to do was pay them in food and love. Thank you so much!

Next on the list is to putty and smooth all the screw holes and tape and bed the joints to a smooth smooth finish.  This is going to take awhile as I also have to smooth out all our walls.

Then we will texture the ceiling and walls, then paint.  That will conclude Part I of the Kitchen Renovation project!!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Please don't judge me...

...but I watch The Bachelorette and The Bachelor shows.    I haven't watched every season so that should count for some credit.  But ever since I have started watching, I always get sucked in.  It's my Monday night "me time" and I just can't give it up now!

I've never been one to have viewing parties for things like this, but I was kinda inspired by them knowing some of them have been known to take bets on the guys that will get roses and make brackets for the guys so they know who was sent home when, etc.

Well I decided this season to make a tally mark for every time a common phrase on this show was mentioned in some form or another, when a man cried, and when I shed a tear.

Here are my unofficial results.

"For the right reason"
        ....22 times...some form of this phrase was uttered

       .....2 times....surprisingly this was NOT used that often this go around

"an instance where a man cried"
       .....17 occurances

"an instance where I shed a tear or two"
       ......3 times

And my top three picks from night ONE were Zak W, Brooks, and Chris.  Two out of three isn't bad!

Here's to hoping these two last, because I really do think they are super cute together!