Saturday, September 2, 2017

Raise the roof?

We need to start posting again... But here's pictures of our new roof and siding in the meantime!

(First image will change from before to after if you scroll over with your mouse/finger, the next pictures are full size normal pictures if you click on them)

We'll try to add more stuff we do (including the stuff we've already done but forgot to update here lol)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

That time everyone got married in one year

This year we were invited to 10 weddings, along with our recent puppy addition of Scout has somewhat throttled our house-progress over the past couple of months. Halley's mom, Jeanne, says that we're not allowed to make any more unmarried friends.  Somehow we found the time to sneak a few projects in, so we thought it was time to smush them all together into another blog update.

The adorable Q-tip tree
Last summer we spent a silly amount of time and effort cleaning our pool of pine needles dropped by the pine tree in the corner of our yard. We decided the tree must die. So Halley's dad, John, offered to take it down as a birthday present.  With the help of my dad, Jim, and friends Brian and Lina we got most of it taken care of.
Of course the tree's base is in the corner of the yard where falling limbs would hit the fence, pool pump or pool cover.  This required attaching a line to each cut branch and lowering it safely to the yard.  We were able to get about 75-80% of the limbs off - but finishing the job is going to be difficult.  There is no other trees to hang lumberjacks off of or to use to catch cut branches.  The operation is going to be tricky with a higher likelihood of someone getting hit with a falling limb, so we called it quits on the project - much to John's chagrin.  We'll likely get a tree company to manage the rest of the job and handle the dead/dying tree outside of the fence.  The significant pruning really did reduce the amount of debris in the pool over the summer.

Painting the foyer
We decided to paint the foyer and the upstairs hallway a dark grey because we have really a lot of colors going on and didn't want guests eyes to be assaulted upon entry.  The new color sharpens things up nicely.

View to kitchen before
View to kitchen after

View to foyer before
View to foyer after

Upstairs hallway before
Upstairs hallway after

Montage of yard work
There has been tons of pruning and shrub removal over our first two years in the house.  What we thought was a tiny amount of fenced yard, really increased once we got the foliage in order (although we'd still like to move the fence to include more of the property).

View away from Norman Drive before
View away from Norman Drive after

View across pool before
View across pool after

View to Norman Drive after
View to Norman Drive before

View to Tom's house before
View to Tom's house after

Gardening up a storm
We had a productive year in the garden with a harvest of 38.75 lbs of organic produce.  We enjoyed eating it and sharing with friends and family.
The scene: potatoes, corn and garden boxes...watered with captured grey water from the downspouts.  Not a drop of hose water was used on the garden.

Corn!  Not a huge success so we'll probably grow
 something else here next year.
The garden boxes

A modest ear of corn
Ripening Big Boy tomato - probably
used on a burger
A cucumber, nearly ready to pick

Thai hot peppers were planted in each box to keep deer and
rabbits from crunching on our veggies - and it worked!
Potatoes that I killed by trying
to trellis them: lesson learned

Cascade hops growing along the side
of the house.

Close up of the Cascade hops

Cantaloupe trellised on the fence.
The flowers and melons that managed
to grow on the outside of the fence
fed the deer nicely.
Compost pile with volunteer tomatoes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring has sprung

Mini Kitchen Remodel
In our Brady Bunch-chic kitchen resides one of the dumbest set of cupboards in existence.  When standing at the sink, one has to stoop to see people sitting at the kitchen table.  Not only are the cabinets too low, there appears to be an air-filled soffit above them.  In a few years we'll remodel the kitchen and take down the soffits, but until then I cannot handle the cabinets.  We won't lose any storage space when we rip the cabinets out because we converted the wall oven area to cupboard.

The cabinet was secured with just a few heavy duty bolts into some 2"x 4"s mounted to the ceiling.  The damage was repaired with some spackle and paint.  There is no way we would be able to match the paint color in the rest of the kitchen, so it will have to do for a while longer - but having the cabinets gone makes us so happy.
Everyone keeps chairs on their counters, correct?

Much more open and far better.  Immediately after the
completion of the project I applied a layer of debris to the
exposed counter top.

Our mailbox before was white, with numbers on only one side and a mildewey post.  We painted the box, stenciled some numbers on both sides (!) and painted the post.  An easy upgrade that looks much better.
Fire-engine red for the win
Grow all the things!
Our first summer in the house was spent getting trees and shrubs in order.  This summer we're working on a proper garden.  Next summer: chickens.  I want to do raised bed, square foot gardening.  We decided that our lawn is garbage anyway, so may as well ruin it by growing corn.  The minimum area required is 10' x 10'...and since we're rototilling, perhaps we should have some space to grow potatoes.  So the project spiraled into what I'm calling the Oyer Family CSA.

To build the raised beds I considered pressure treated lumber (not nuts about the idea of the chemicals in the growing soil) and recycled timber (Trex).  The cost of the Trex was so high we couldn't bring ourselves to load the 8' $20 lengths onto the cart.  The next best idea we came up with was using reclaimed lumber from pallets.  It's not pressure treated so it will eventually decay, but at the cost of free it's hard to argue.  We got some pallets delivered from the Princeton loading dock (thank you Dave!) and found that the Sear's by our house gave us cart blanche to take pallets whenever we want them.
Corner detail
Borrowing my Dad's rototiller turned the project from a multi-day affair into something we accomplished in a few hours.  We tilled the grass into the dirt to keep the organic matter in the soil, but mostly because we tried removing the sod and found it incredibly time consuming (read: we were lazy).  After the initial till at around 12" depth we spread manure over the area and tilled it again to a 16" depth.  I'm sure we'll have some grass and weed issues, but we'll deal with them as they show up.
The layout.  Some of the limbs on the trees to the left of the garden will get pruned so they don't smack us in the face while we mow and also to increase the amount of sun the garden gets.

Seedlings, getting started!
Our veggie roster:
  • Thai chili peppers
  • Sweet peppers (of five different colors!)
  • Big boy tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet corn
  • Pole beans
  • Potatoes (two varieties)

The flower list, mostly perennials unless otherwise noted:
  • Hollyhock
  • Chinese lantern
  • Foxglove
  • Johnny jump up
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Lupine - We had the book Miss Rumphius growing up and loved it, despite calling it The Lupine Lady which isn't even close to the real title
  • Marigold (annual)
  • Morning glory (annual)

Of course we chose some difficult specimens (hollyhock, foxglove and lupine) so it will make for an interesting challenge.  We'll try to do more frequent updates as the projects start to pick up again.