Monday, July 10, 2017

Shed Progress

The guys have made some progress on the coop/shed, but I've been too lazy to make it outside to take pictures. We are obviously on the take-all-summer building plan. Jeff and I need to go buy cedar bevel siding so they can do the next part.
Fortunately, the weather has cooled down. We continue to make slow progress on clearing out our basement.

Tomorrow, we are having a plumber out to install another spigot on the outside of the house. We're hoping it will make it more convenient to keep the backyard watered.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Roofing Installed

And they finally finished installing the shingles!
Some of the shingles appear tannish in color; that is because they have been sitting around unpackaged in our basement for around five years and they are dusty. They were leftover from our house reroofing. That discoloration will hopefully wash off in the next rain.

Our weather bounced up from the 60s to 70s last week to the 90s this week. Ugh. I had planned to have a garage sale this Saturday, but I cannot do it when it's that hot. I am barely functional when it gets over 85℉. You'll find me hiding out in the basement, hopefully sifting boxes for a later garage sale rather than playing Elder Scrolls.

Update: Here is where they stopped at the end of the day.
Allegedly, they are also planning to work on it tomorrow morning until it gets too hot.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Excavating the Basement

Ever since moving out of the storage back in 2014 our basement has been stuffed full and unusable.
Basement disaster we're trying to clean up
This is the mostly before photo
This summer we are finally trying to deal with the mess. Primarily, we need to sift boxes and get rid of stuff, but there is so much to deal with, it's quite overwhelming to even get started. The space in our front storage was used pretty inefficiently. We did some measuring and realized we could add several more racks so I ordered another five 4' racks.

We're still in the process of building shelves and shuffling boxes and tubs into the racks, but it's already getting better.
We are hoping to spend the summer shifting boxes into these shelves from other areas of the house and then start sifting them for what we need to get rid of. I'm hoping we have the energy to have a number of garage sales through the summer and then just donate what is left when it doesn't sell.

I'll share some more photos in a few days when we finally get the rest of the shelves built and get them filled up.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Not Much Progress

The last time Erik was out to work on our shed was Jun 2, but here it is Jun 18 and only half the roofing has been installed. In fairness, we had a bunch of rain last week and he, understandably, doesn't want to work on ladders when it's wet out. I assume he has some other more important job, but I'm not thrilled about having the tar paper getting rained on.
Aaron has been out a couple of times to help hang the plywood on the walls, but his bicycle business has gotten really busy this year so he hasn't been available much this spring.
On the bright side, with all this rain, our transplanted ferns are delighted.
And some of the new bleeding hearts from Breck's are looking like they'll make it. We probably won't see flowers until next year, but I'm glad they'll get established this year.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Resurrecting Cooking Blog

Jeff and I have been depressed about the world situation right now. Really depressed. He responded productively by getting extremely active with Indivisible Oregon. Sadly, I responded by diving back into my Elder Scrolls Online game, but this week I have finally decided I need to stop hiding out in the game.

Starting now, I am going to try to make some overdue positive changes in my life. First starters, I've decided to become a lot more proactive in our menu planning because over the last couple of years our eating has drifted back into a lot of store-bought prepared food, i.e. things like canned soup and less healthy foods. Jeff has tried to keep up our nutrition—he still makes a lot of salads—but sometimes he just doesn't feel like cooking. This has resulted in a much larger food budget. I'd like to work to reverse the trend and use more of my time helping out with the cooking tasks.

Last Thanksgiving, the Instant Pot was deeply discounted and since many of our friends had been raving about theirs for months on social media, we decided to give it a try. Jeff has gotten good use out of it, since he uses it most days for making oatmeal for breakfast, but I am going to try and add a lot more recipes to our arsenal. I'm hoping ultimately we will buy less canned foods, especially soups.

Anyway, for folks who are interested in our cooking exploits, we'll be resurrecting Jeff's mostly neglected food blog and resume posting about our successes and failures. I plan to do quite a lot of Instant Pot recipes and I'm hoping to try my hand at some crusty breads and filled pastas (not too much of these because of carbs).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Progress on Shed

Finally, another day of work happened. It got really hot, but at least it wasn't raining, for a nice change. Today they starting framing the door and windows and the roof.
Installing the brackets. I actually bought these on sale last fall from VanDyke's Restorers. They are called Restorers Rustic Merced Arts & Crafts Outlooker Bracket. They match our house pretty well, though I don't like the groove they cut into them (I didn't notice it in the picture at the website when I ordered them).
 Here's where they left off for the day.
We're hopeful the weather will hold and they'll get the roof on this week.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Breck's Order

We finally received the Breck's order from March. Even though it came about a month later than I had expected, the bareroot plants we received actually looked healthy and appeared to be viable. Jeff planted them yesterday and once they start growing I'll post photos. I only received the flowers; the bulbs will arrive in fall.

There is still absolutely no signs of life in the dead plants we got from Wholesale Plant Nursery. It's time to dispute the charge.

Our rain has continued practically non-stop since we started the garden shed/chicken coop. We're hoping next week brings better weather and we can make more progress on the framing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vegetable Garden

Over the weekend Jeff went off to the Master Gardener's Incredible Edibles sale and bought a few plants. We're doing a much smaller garden this year because we tended to be pretty unreliable about caring for them in earlier years. The chard and kale will also survive over the winter.

Jeff got them in the ground, but he didn't redig the whole garden so there are still a few herbs leftover from earlier years. It's kind of hard to see the new plants.
As usual, I'm just going to cut and paste the list into the post so I have a record (for next year):
Rainbow Chard, Kale, Lettuce (Merlot and Red Sails), Slicing Tomatoes (Early Girl, Black Zebra, Indigo Rose and Purple Bumblebe) and Basil.

We also picked up a squash plant for the backyard to help shade the dirt to help prevent weeds.

I also ordered a number of seeds for the front planting strip. I learned from my earlier lessons not to buy plants, but I have not been totally cured of online shopping. But now I start with the lists of 30 good companies at Dave's Garden and only shop at those. At least seeds are much cheaper if it doesn't go well.

I'm not sure if I should post the list of seeds as I receive them, or as I plant them. :)

We'll probably do the major planting in fall when we receive all the bulbs. Jeff is considering double digging and amending the soil before we plant everything.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spring Plantings

We have had so much rain this year. We are definitely ready for some sunny days.  On the bright side, our ferns are ecstatic about the weather. We got a bunch of bareroot ferns from a friend last year and they're looking great.
Earlier this week we bought 20 bareroot ferns from Bosky Dell Natives and they are huge and beautiful, unlike the mostly dead ones we got a couple weeks ago. They filled up a large burlap bag. Jeff got them in the ground today but I haven't taken a picture yet.

Oh, and look who's awake!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shed Framing Started

I forgot to post this on Friday. More progress on the coop/shed.
We're hoping for nice weather next week so they can make more progress. They can't work on this when it's raining because ladders are slippery.

I think I just found a localish nursery, Bosky Dell Natives, that has some bareroot ferns and we're going to try and get some. I'll report back.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Finally, Shed Started

We had a beautiful sunny day last Thursday so Jeff, Eric and Aaron got started on our chicken coop/garden shed. They spent about half a day and got the base built. It has started raining again, so who knows when they'll get back to it. This is all pressure treated lumber so it should be fine exposed to the rain until we get more good weather.
After the busy day working out in the yard, Bailey found herself a nice spot to rest up.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do NOT order from Wholesale Nursery Co.

The plant order arrived today from Wholesale Nursery Co. and sadly, as predicted, we received a bunch of basically dead plants. I'm making a separate post so hopefully if other folks are bright enough to do a Google search before they order from this company they may pick up this post.
This is how they claim to package the plants before they ship them.
But this is actually what I received. A paper wrapping taped on, with holes punctured in it by the stems.
Frankly, I'm at a loss why they bother to ship dead plants. Do they think this is a good business practice?

The twigs look like they have some green, but they are dry, and break easily with practically dry roots. We have popped them in a pail of water, hoping we can tempt some of them back to life. I debated just taping the box back shut and returning it; I probably should have, but I refuse to eat the cost of shipping this back. I would have refused the delivery if I had the opportunity, but the delivery guy just left it on our front porch.

The 100 ferns and 100 bleeding heart were stuffed dry in gallon bags.
Again, we tossed them in a bowl of water to see if we can get any of them to live.

I plan to dispute this charge, which was actually posted under the name TN Nursery. This company is really unethical. It seems like they harvest these bareroot plants then leave them sitting around for weeks while they wait for orders. This is just sad.

It appears they also do business at the following websites:
Quick Growing Trees
Tennessee Wholesale Nursery
Garden Delights

There are even more names listed at the Better Business Bureau site. Why do they need so many websites? It looks like once they rack up enough bad reviews on one website, they just start a new one. Wholesale Nursery appears to be one of their newest ones because there are not negative reviews for it. Perhaps I can help with that.

There is an excellent series of reviews on this company at Dave's Garden. I wish I had seen it before I ordered. And there are another few reviews at Judy's Book, including one that lists several of their numerous websites they operate under.

Their Better Business Bureau rating is F (as in the worst rating they could get).

Honestly, I don't think I'll ever order from another online nursery in Tennesse because of the risk it is one of theirs. Though, perhaps, at some point they'll start fabricating a new location because they can no longer get away with their petty crime.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bulk Plant Order

UPDATE AFTER THE FACT: DO NOT ORDER FROM THESE PEOPLE. THEY SHIP DEAD PLANTS.

I did a possibly crazy thing. I ordered 225 plant starts from an online wholesale nursery.

I found Wholesale Nursery Co. online and they offered fern starts for 76¢ a piece. The main downside: the minimum order was 100! Now, we didn't actually need 100 fern starts, but I couldn't find bareroot ferns around here that were competitive. Most nurseries sell them in one-gallon pots and are five to ten times more expensive. Even if we give away half the ferns, we'll still be getting a good deal.

Because of their tolerance to full sun or shade exposure, I chose sword ferns. I would have liked to get some other varieties to mix it up, but with a minimum order of 100 for each variety, I couldn't justify buying that many ferns. (I tried to.) :)

I also found they carried bleeding heart. They were 78¢ a piece. Again, the minimum order was 100 plants, but is it possible to have too much bleeding heart in your yard? lol

One last plant I ordered was their Blueray Blueberry Bush. They were $1.40 each for 1'-2' twigs. The minimum order was 25. I doubt we'll plant all 25 in our yard, but we may plant the extras in pots and give them away to our friends.

The order is due next week, so we'll see how it goes. We're not real good at watering over the summer, but we can hope at least a decent portion of these plants will survive. We'll try and report back after we receive the order.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Beautiful Day

Our spring weather finally arrived, and the guys got the mulch spread out in the yard. Yeah!! We got our driveway back.
The front planting strip.
We're starting to have a little problem in the backyard with a new invasive, Lesser Celandine.
It's pretty but also, apparently, evil. It will take over the whole yard even worse than the mint we battled last year. So, today, the guys removed it the best they could and mulched over the area. We need to find a source for a TON of cheap ferns. They should keep the ground shaded in spring. Or, hopefully, the chickens will take care of it for us.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sunny Day

Jeff hasn't made much progress on the mulch.
Until today, it's rained most everyday and also last week Shasta got hurt. She hurt her back and started limping last week, and when Jeff took her to the vet, he was instructed to put her on bedrest for a week. Keeping a border collie on bedrest is not easy. They are working dogs...not couch potatoes. So Shasta and I spent the past week confined down in the basement in order to minimize the number of stairs she'd have to use.

Anyway, today she went back to the vet and is feeling better now. She gets to start exercising again.

We were treated to a nice sunny day today, so while Jeff was at the vet, Bailey and I went out and took pictures of our new flowers.
Bailey impatiently waiting for Daddy
If I had been thinking clearly, I would have gotten started sanding and staining the last wood we need to install in the master bathroom.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Free Tree Mulch

I'm impressed; we signed up with Chip Drop three days ago and we already have a delivery! It's possible we just got lucky, but I'm pleased we got a load so quickly. Of course, the rain is back and so it will sit in driveway until we get some clear patches of weather.
Much of this mulch will be laid down on the planting strip in order to kill the lawn and get it ready for flowers later this spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Red Dragon Update

Four years ago we planted an ornamental hazelnut tree, called Red Dragon (corylus avellana contorta) contorted filbert tree. At the time it was more of a twig, but here it is four years later.
The tree is pretty cool looking. I'll have to try to remember to gtake a picture after it leafs out.

The front yard still needs some cleanup, but it's been raining so much we haven't made it out yet. The soil is still quite saturated. There are still several ugly roses that Jeff plans to dig out and replace with something more attractive. (The roses are growing out from their root stock. The hybrids long since died.)

The wisteria has not woken up yet, but the bulbs are starting. I think the large shrub leafing out is an elderberry.
Last fall we also planted four cornus alba hessei shrubs in the front. They are just starting to look like they're getting buds. They were already dormant when we brought them home. We bought them because they turn purple in fall.

I think this year we'll put in a vegetable garden again. We're waiting on the Master Gardener's Incredible Edibles sale in May. In past years we always bought too many plants.  This year we'll try to pick up much fewer plants. We just don't have that much consistently sunny space in our yard.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring Planning

First off, most important, Happy Pi Day! Jeff is currently in the kitchen making some Pi Day creation, so if there's a picture later, I'll add it.

We found a website to sign up for free wood chips from tree removal companies, called Chip Drop. Last time we got free chips we called around to different companies, but this time we're going to try and see if this website works. I'm not sure how active this site is, but if it works we'll let you guys know. If we don't get anything in the next few weeks, I'll probably go back to calling around.

We especially want mulch to cover the front planting strip to kill the lawn in preparation for filling it with flowers.
The before photo of the planting strip
This year we've had record-breaking amounts of rain, so we still haven't been able to make headway on the chicken coop/garden shed project. We have most of the materials staged in our garage, but we'd like about a week of dry weather to put the structure up.
The shed/coop design we're planning to build (with different windows)
The crocus bulbs I planted last fall are starting to come up. I'm really looking forward to some sunny weather.