Archive for the 'Landscaping' Category

Of summer colds, artisan bread, doggie mischief, and scrap metal

Posted by Karen in Bruno, Food, Home Improvements, Landscaping, Projects.
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 at 7:15 pm

I woke up Friday morning feeling, as Juliana would put it, trundle-bundled.  I kept telling myself it was just allergies, but by the time I biked my sorry self in to work, I realized I was actually feeling pretty miserable.  So I grabbed my laptop and turned around and biked home.  And proceeded to rapidly deteriorate till Nate was left with a whining, sniffling, sneezing Jabba the Hutt-like blob on his hands.  He was a real champ, even bought me ice cream and cheezy poofs!  Aww. 

So my big plans to get everything in the world done on Friday didn’t happen, grr.  With all the weekend work events I have, my free weekends are like gold to me and I pack them full of yard and house projects, hiking, bike riding, and other ways of making the most out of being healthy and living in a kick-ass city.  A summer cold has no place in these plans.  Sigh.  At least I had the weekend off and didn’t have to be tromping around a prairie or something, but why does it seem like colds often wait for the weekend to rear their ugly head? 

20080622174055_brioche.jpgIn spite of feeling pretty crappy, today was a good day.  Wanna hear about it?  Ok.  Nate started us off right by making these crazy delicious fresh fruit brioche muffins

On a side note, we are watching C20080622172320_attack_dogs.jpgasey Jones the black lab this weekend.  Long-time readers may recall that the last time we watched him, the overall mood was something like this: 

Well, these boys are much older and wiser now… and lazi20080622173050_lazy_puppies.jpger!  I mean, they still have some of the rough and tumble in them, but last time there was no sleeping!  It was non-stop Wrestle-Mania!  It’s actually kind of nice.  We had hoped this would also mean that Casey had grown out of some of his naughtiness.  But the first night he ate the rest of the loaf of spinach parmesan bread Nate had made off the counter.  And last night he somehow opened the container of brioche dough Nate had just made and ate a big chunk of it!  You do not mess with a man and his brioche dough.  Seriously.  Luckily we caught him before he ate it all, or Nate might hav20080622165804_lunch.jpge taken inspiration from the movie we were watching, Sweeney Todd, and turned him into a meat pie! 

Ok, moving on.  For lunch I made us these delicious salads with spinach from our first CSA veggie delivery!  I also used chives, nasturtium flowers , and lime mint from our window box.  And we had cheese and crackers, with cheese Nate made from one of our batches of yogurt.  It’s been a good food day so far.

I did my best to not be a total slug and ended up getting quite a bit of yard and garden work done, but Nate worked20080622175203_no_more_shed.jpg his boo-tay off today and tore down our freaking shed!  Brother Dean recently gave us a sawzall, you know, because he had an extra one (?!?).  We had explored the idea of trying to give the thing away, but it was so old and all the bolts were so rusted that it wasn’t really take-apart-able.  In the20080622175340_shedless_possibilities.jpg end Nate decided there were enough people on Craigs List looking for scrap metal that he would just cut the thing apart, stick it in the alley, and post it.  And now behold, the shedless zone.  Oh, the possibilities…  It may not look like much right now, but just you wait! 

And one more thing – HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVE!

Spring stuff

Posted by Nate in Landscaping.
Sunday, May 20th, 2007 at 10:36 am

First of all, it went from 80+ degrees yesterday to a creepy 45 right now!  So…  it would have been smarter to be out working today instead of sweating yesterday, but ah well.  Our south-side bushes were totally overgrown and leggy, so I cut them waaay back and will let them recover as much as they can this year, but really next year they’ll be better.  They were borderline overgrown when we moved in and we never attacked them when they needed it…  Ah well.

hammock.jpgI finally found a joist in the ceiling and hung our awesome hammock chair in our under-used "foyer" area.  It’s now a nice place to sip a drink or read a book, it catches great light in the evening and can get a good breeze from all the windows.  I got a sweet sonic stud finder, but it really doesn’t work well on the ceiling, what with the rough texture and insulation — or something?  It works great on the walls, but it was quite a challenge to find a stud without drilling a million pilot holes…

rainbarrel.jpgThe city of Minneapolis gave a great deal on rain barrels to anyone who wanted one, so we of course jumped in on that.  Hooked up a sump-pump drain pipe for the overflow and cut off the gutter to the right height and we should be good to go!  No real rain yet to test it out, I need to see how the rain comes out before I secure the gutter over the barrel.  Now about half of our house runoff is either captured or helping the raingarden grow!

pict3252.JPGAlso emptied the compost into the garden and moved the bin out of the shady corner into its new home by the garden.  I’ve read the heat from the sun will rapidly accelerate the decomposition process, which should be good.  pict3251.JPGAnd another shot of the little plant zones on the South side of the lawn.  I do love me those ferns…

Finally a wonderful picture of Bruno and his mommy.  Aww…

Weekend of plenty

Posted by Nate in Friends, Landscaping.
Monday, May 14th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

… plenty of busy, that is!  Friday was actually pretty chill.  Karen and I had been detoxing last week and Friday was our first day off, so we went to Town Talk for a quick dinner – it ended up being more grease than our fragile and recently cleansed systems could handle and we both regretted the decision.  But hey, hard to resist going when you know you can get a seat at the bar with the coolest bartender in the area.  We crashed early that night because Karen had an event the next morning requiring her to get up at 5:15!!

Scotty Fun Day
Our good friend Scott is leaving in a few days for Colorado to take some sweet acting classes which will hopefully segue into a masters program next year.  Before his flight from the cities, Karen and he made an informal list of must-do activities to do locally.  Starting things off would be a river ride in a Padelford paddle boat, followed by Italian pig out at Cosetta’s in St. Paul…

paddleboat1.jpg… as it happened, Padelford doesn’t do public tours until June.  So we (plus Sierra) headed to Lake Calhoun and rented a sweet 4-person paddleboat and hit the chain of lakes!  Fun!  Only, instead of a nice relaxing saunter down the river in a powered boat, we quickly discovered that moving a paddleboat of this size took quite a bit of leg power.  paddleboat2.jpgIt was suspiciously like exercise.  Still, the weather was beautiful and the lakes were gorgeous, and despite a nearly calamitous rage blackout by yours truly about which direction we were drifting, the ride was quite enjoyable.

chino.jpgIt turned out we were more in the mood for drinks than Italian pig out after our ride, so we altered course to Chino Latino in Uptown and made short work of a few martinis and margaritas.  Karen and Sierra kept things moving with a big "bowl of drink" — I can’t remember what it was called, but that’s what it was.  Whoa.  A few shared dishes later and we were all moaning about being stuffed…

A short hour or two recoup at DuoTeam HQ and we were off again!  We had a quick drink at Nye’s, regaled by the sound of Ruth Adam’s polka band.  Quite the place, I can’t believe I’d never been.  Next to an art opening organized by one of Sierra’s roommates in a warehouse gallery in NorthEast.  Fun, but full of hipsters and artists — great as individuals, but a roomful of them together sort of seems to turn into a big out-hip contest.  Ah well.  Some of the pieces were pretty cool, especially one demonstrating sound waves moving through non-newtonian liquids.  To me that belongs more in a Maker Faire, but hey, it looked as much like art as some of the other pieces.  :)

Then one last drink at the Kitty Cat Klub by the U, and finally home to bed.  Whew.  Scotty can now leave the cities happy.

Sunday Plants
pict0008.JPGWhile walking Bruno, Karen had made friends with some neighbors with a bunch of native plants who subsequently offered to give some to us.  Today was the day, so after cleaning the house all morning we headed over to collect some plants – and by some, I mean "a ton".  The rest of the afternoon was spent adding to and creating little spaces on the periphery of the yard for the new plants.  pict0009.JPG We used logs from the tree we cut down last year to create visual dividers between the lawn and the new plants, I think it works pretty well – especially with the new mulch in the pic at right.  Ahh, something about a fern with dappled sunshine on it just makes me happy…  :)

pict0010.JPGWe somehow still had some energy so we invited Justin and Juliana and Scott and Cody over for an outdoor wok-on-the-grill stir fry!  I’d never done this before but I’m happy to report it went very well – the trick is to tie the wok base to the grill face to keep it from sliding.  For dessert I brought out a very special purchase – local organic ice cream made with Surly Furious!!  YUM.

What a weekend.  Good times, good times.  And tonight is opening night for the St. Paul Saints — Cody’s first official game as announcer!  I’ll be there cheering…

Fall Planting, Projects, and … Beer

Posted by Nate in Beer, Home Improvements, Landscaping.
Wednesday, November 8th, 2006 at 8:24 pm

Decided to ride my bike to work today out of respect for national "You Should Probably Start Some Rehab On That Knee" day.  (That and the fact it was almost 70 degrees (!!!) today.)  It went well, mostly, some tightness on the way in, pretty ok on the way home, and now it’s kinda sore – but I still think it’s the right thing to do.  Gotta strengthen up the surrounding muscles, especially considering I haven’t done anything more strenuous than walk the dog since the injury…

11-7-2006-8-38-23-am_0001.JPGThe plant nursery at Karen’s work ended up giving away all their remaining stock with the disclaimer that plugs planted in the fall have probably only a 70% chance of survival.  Of course she snapped up as many flats as she could and proceeded to shove them in the ground all over our yard!  At left is the new view of Duoteam HQ from the front.  My biggest concern with yards I see with native plants all over is that I think it really enhances credibility ("No, really, our yard isn’t overgrown, they’re native plants!") if there’s a clear demarcation and sense of "order" to it.  So I pulled a bunch of leftover concrete pavers (?) and made a border along the walk.  Needs some touchup in Spring, but pretty sweet.  10-30-2006-6-36-10-pm_0002.JPGThe next night Karen planted the rest in the back yard, and since it gets dark shortly after 5 now I rigged up some work lights for her.  She’s crazy – but it should look great next summer!

Inside the house I continue to put off the basement.  (This weekend, really.)  But in the meantime I knocked off a long-time item from my list: shelves in the office.  Floating shelves, no less.  I pretty much followed the outlines described here, and it was actually pretty easy once I got started.

11-5-2006-2-23-56-pm_0003.JPGBasically you slice and dice a hollow-core door, attach a cleat to the wall, and tie the door section to the cleat – voila, shelves!  Above you can see the door cut and the cardboard "honeycomb" being knocked out.  At right is the cleat on the wall.  I feel really good about the strength of those cleats – two11-7-2006-8-12-28-am_0008.JPG 1/4" toggle bolts with the toggle grabbing onto the wood lath behind about 1/2" or more of plaster, so I was able to crank them down pretty well.

Cutting the cleats was the hardest part.  I needed a board 1 1/8" thick to fit exactly inside the door, but had no easy way to cut one accurately.  I knew the frame on my circular saw cut 1 5/8" from the edge…  And I had some 1/2" MDF left over from the kitchen shelves…  So I screwed the MDF onto a 2×4 with another board attached for the fence and ta da!  1 5/8" – 1/2" = 1 1/8"!  11-7-2006-8-31-36-am_0012.JPGIt worked perfectly, and after a good dose of wood glue and some 1" brads, those shelves are as strong as possible.  Still can’t load them up with a full bookshelf or anything, but they should handle a lot.

11-5-2006-9-23-36-pm_0005.JPGFinally, I took Karen on a mystery date on Sunday, which ended up being a Belgian beer dinner at the Birchwood Cafe.  Five courses, five beers, an accordian player, and it was all organic / local food!  At the end there was a secret bonus beer and we got to pick out a glass to take home – Karen grabbed hers early and is flaunting it in the picture.  After all that work, it was great to just relax, eat, and drink!

The weekend

Posted by Nate in Beer, Friends, Landscaping.
Monday, October 9th, 2006 at 1:19 pm

pict0071.jpgCody had to hold the cellphone while Frances took a call.

pict0072.jpgKatie’s eye fell out and she ate it.

pict0074.jpgI raked a ton of leaves

pict0077.jpgpict2542.jpgKaren’s dad helped us cut down the overgrown tree/bush in our backyard.

pict0080.jpgpict0082.jpgWe drank a ton of beer.

Compost maintenance

Posted by Nate in Landscaping.
Sunday, September 24th, 2006 at 6:19 pm

It’s been a while… And we’ve been, of course, super busy. Today was the first sunny day all week and it was so nice I ditched the basement and hit some outdoor projects. Not really high on the list but something needing doing was dealing with the compost bin… It had been sort of full when we bought the house, but not really maintained at all, and there was some charcoal and various bits of non-compostible crap in it. Lacking the time last year we just started throwing scraps on top of what was there and turning it occasionally.

Finally it was almost 3/4 full and today I decided to get it cleaned up. I pulled a trash bin out of the garage and shovelled most of the yet-to-be-compost scraps into it. It was more than I planned on, nearly full… Then I grabbed some bits of lumber laying around and some 1/4 screen we had and built a makeshift sifting bin. It ended up being way more labor-intensive than I figured – I’d load up the bin and go shake it all around the lawn, then bring it back to another tub and work the remaining clumps by hand for a while, finally dumping the sticks and roots and debris that wouldn’t go through.

I ended up with two tubs pretty full of fantastic compost and nice small layer on most of the lawn. Sweet. Maybe a little fertilizer on there before winter and we should have a dog-proof lawn next spring… :) The rest of the compost will go on the garden and flower beds before winter, and the good news of the big push today is the compost bin is now reset back to our own scraps – everything we started with is out. Should be easier to keep the nearby plants from sending roots up into it…

Rain garden saves the day!

Posted by Nate in Landscaping.
Monday, July 24th, 2006 at 6:12 pm

The rain garden proved its worth today… (to me, anyway — I think Karen’s requirements have been met already) We’re in the middle of a moderate / severe drought, and it’s been super hot with alternating levels of humidity. Apparently today the jetstream is moving somewhere and it’s causing some ridiculous storms, like the one we had this afternoon. The rain garden, at left, was literally full to the brim with water!! And it looks like we guessed just right with the area and depth because it wasn’t overflowing that I could see, and I really can’t imagine ever getting any more rain over such a short period of time. If it can handle that, it can handle anything.

Why does that make me so happy? Because a few short months ago that water would have been lapping at our foundation and starting to work its way into the basement. As you can see at left – taken at the same time as the above shot – it’s wet but not even halfway up the sidewalk!! I can’t even begin to tell you what a big deal this is.

See, Karen’s all about filtering the runoff and getting it back into the groundwater system cleanly, etc, etc, and I’m very much in support of that, too. But it’s such a cost / benefit winner when it also happens to save so much potential water damage to your house. Sweet.

Parents projects part 2 + Soccer

Posted by Nate in Family, Landscaping, Soccer.
Tuesday, May 9th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

 Today was a big day for everyone – more house projects for the parents, the season opener of soccer for DuoTeam, and a surprise for me!

First, the forecast: rain on and off the rest of the week. One of the projects on the wish list was resealing the deck, and it looked like it was today or never… Of course they went for it, that’s Rick with the sander at left. Oh, and look, Helpy’s doing his thing! Awesome!

Next they applied some compound that was supposed to open the pores of the wood up so it would accept the sealant better. This was then hosed off, allowed to dry, and the new sealant applied. I don’t have an actual "after" picture because sure enough as I pulled my bike through the back gate it started to rain and the wind kicked up and Karen and I had to run to cover the deck. But trust me it looks WAY better than it did!

That night Karen and I had our first soccer game of the season. We’re playing 6 on 6 co-rec, which means a smaller field and smaller goals and way more fun. Our team is actually pretty inexperienced, but we play well together (broomball) which makes an enormous difference. The bad guys snuck to an early 1-0 lead after we put poor Peter in goal (he hasn’t played soccer in forever), but then Scott (the ninja) jumped in goal and everything changed. That guy’s amazing – aggressively coming out to challenge their shooters, cutting down the angle, making smart plays, the whole works. And he has a hell of a foot! He’s able to launch his goal kicks the length of the field, which is awesome, but sometimes hard to get in their zone in time after coming to help defend. Whew. I know it’s a short field, but man… Lots of running!

We ended up winning (I scored twice and we shut them down after that first goal)!! It was a ton of fun – but even more fun was The Surprise: the Pinolera showed up! Apparently everyone knew but me, and I must say I was genuinely surprised! What fun! I couldn’t believe it when she strolled up to the soccer field!!

The day ended on a superb note, as we toasted our winning game at the Chatterbox. Sweet.

Parents projects part 1

Posted by Nate in Family, Landscaping.
Monday, May 8th, 2006 at 6:53 pm

Karen and I went to work as normal on Monday, leaving my parents home with a wish list of projects. (That sounds weird, but it was honestly their idea – and really, what else are they going to do all day? (ok, fine, other than relax, read, explore, have fun…))

Anyway, they jumped into it and tackled the back yard: we’ve been having some lawn issues (rhymes with "big dog"), massively exacerbated by the new rain garden work. What to do? Sod it up!

You can’t quite tell what a huge difference it makes since you don’t have a "before" picture, but it was essentially bare dirt in this area. Also, since this picture was taken the grass around the rain garden has taken off like a shot and the whole thing looks awesome. At right, Bruno does his part to hold the new sod in place. Way to go, Helpy!

More fun weekend photos (or, More fun with my new camera!)

Posted by Karen in Day to Day, Landscaping.
Monday, April 24th, 2006 at 11:10 am

Ooh, daffodils! We did that! Pretty soon it’s going to be all tulips – the first one looked like it might just open today!

Exoskeleton of a big ole bug. cooooool.

And this is a picture of the findings from our archaeological dig. When I was turning over the soil and mixing in compost in a corner of the garden I kept hitting really big, hard things. I started pulling random things out, but kept hitting more, so I kept trying to dig deeper. Finally I told Nate that I simply would not be able to move on if I didn’t know what was all down there, so he may as well come and help me. Which he did. It’s a really bad picture, but we mostly pulled out a bunch of huge rusty nails and wires, big pieces of painted glass, pieces of plates, some chunks of glass that looked as if they had been in a fire or struck by lightning or something, and a couple of what appear to be animal bones. Was it a pet cemetery? Probably not. Just someone’s garbage pit? Most likely. But perhaps they weren’t animal bones…

duhn duhn duhhnnn….