Sunday, August 21, 2016

Finishing the Pergola and Hanging the Drying Rack

Mum and Dad came up today and helped me finish up two of my ongoing projects... mounting the stringers on my pergola was the first part of our work.  I previously wrote about reclaiming the 2" x 6" beams from the ceiling renovation and subsequently staining an mounting them as posts (along with two ten foot cedar beams) and building the pergola frame. A few weeks ago I took the best of the left-over lengths of fir down to my Dad and he planed them, ripped them and then rounded the edges and angled the ends off to make me a whole bunch of stringers.

10 of the stringers

Last weekend we celebrated Dad's birthday and Dad brought me the finished stringers... This past week I picked out the nine best ones and stained them. Then, with the help of some calculations made by my Dad, I used one of my handy-dandy Lee Valley purchases (a marking tool) I marked off the ends to show where the overhangs would be.

Stained and ready for marking

All marked up and someplace to go!

When my parents got here this morning we had coffee and then got right to it!  We mounted the centre stringer and then using a couple of 12" pieces as spacers, we quickly laid out, drilled and screwed in the stringers - the finished product looks absolutely amazing, and with the left-over stringers I'm thinking I may mount some to the sides of the pergola to add additional privacy and support for the grapes.

How glorious is this??!!

Next project to be completed was hanging an overhead drying rack in my bathroom... My grandparents had one of these in their house and I thought it was just about the best thing ever - you could let it down in order to hang stuff over it and then haul it up out of the way while things dried... best way to dry dedicates in the winter, in my humble opinion.

Needless to say, I have wanted one for a very long time - I'd looked at various plans online, and while they have loads of prefabricated kinds that could be wall mounted, they just weren't what I really wanted.  My Dad came through and built one for me!

This project was a little while in the completion... once Dad finished building it, he and my brother consulted on the pulley system.  Dad went so far as to actually hook it all up in his workshop in order to ensure it worked, and then, pulleys, ropes and all, he transported it up here.

A couple of months ago I picked up some 1" x 4" oak planks.  Since our spring was so wet, I ended up setting up the saw horses in the house and staining them inside.

Getting ready...

Wow.  That brown is REALLY brown!

I have to admit, I was actually really nervous about staining the oak - it is such gorgeous wood and I didn't want to wreck it...

Thankfully it turned out gorgeously!

Not bad,..

Not bad at all!

Stain cured a little darker and
it is actually perfect for
the bathroom!

Once fully cured, I cut it into the lengths I needed and then I climbed up in my bathroom with my stud-finder and located the studs in the ceiling where the boards would be mounted.

I also bought double sided tape to hold the boards in place, but the tape was just not strong enough to do that job had I been trying to compete this on my own I would have run into some serious issues!

How glorious is this???

I am LOVING this drying rack!!

I'm now at the end of two major projects and once I finish my Financial Planning 2 exam, I'll start the next project... I'm just not certain exactly which one... the Murphy Door into the pantry, or the Murphy Bed/Desk...

With love across the waters...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Quiet Mornings

I was up at 6:30 this morning - to bake a birthday cake before the August heat kicks in for the day.  I laid out the ingredients last night so that I could get started right away in the cool of the early morning, and when I got up this morning I turned on the coffee and the oven and got myself started. 

I hope it turns out. I haven't actually made this recipe in years and I know I really liked it before, but the batter seemed really dry to me.  No milk in it, no water.  Very crumbly into the pan.  It looks good and smells even better now that it is out of the oven... I'll ice it later today with a light cream cheese icing and then pop it into the fridge to wait for tomorrow.

I hope it turned out!

I've also managed to get a load of laundry done and out onto the line and have another load in the washing machine... I feel like today has the earmarks of being productive, so I'm thinking out my list... I'd like to get into the front yard and clean up the flower beds a little - they are brutally overgrown and need to be cleaned up before the appraiser comes to look at the house. No, I'm not moving - just changing my mortgage to my new employer, and an appraisal needs to take place as part of the process.  

The front bed needs managing in any case, and I'm determined to get out there with pruning shears and the wheelbarrow... 

I think I mat need to make myself a list (you know how I love lists) of the things I think I may be able to accomplish today.  Tomorrow I'll be out of town for the day and so I'll do shopping and other bits on my way home.  

A list.

A list.

I love lists.

With love across the waters...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Pergola...

Is a fancy word for a grape arbour... and something I have wanted to build for a while - I just wasn't certain where, how, with what, and how big.

I have a whole mess of grapes growing on my back shed - the stump (which has been pruned back hard at least three times that I can tell) is roughly 7 inches across... and they are definitely well established.  When I bought my house I cut them back hard - as a matter of fact, I actually thought I had killed them. Nope.  The plant grew the first year... produced last year and is going to produce even more for me this year.  But it has taken over that area and I am going to have to replace the shed at some point (sooner rather than later) and it would have to come out.

A falling-down shed with a falling-down gutter
COVERED in grapes!

Up close and personal with the grape

Initially I thought I could sink a post, build an arbour for it in the back yard and still have it attached to the shed.  Since the shed has to be replaced, I decided that I can try to move it after harvest this year.

On to the plans for a pergola.  Last May Mum & Dad came up for a day and helped me build my wonderful deck.  It is completely free-standing so no permits were needed, and I was able to use some of the 2" x 6" lumber that was reclaimed from the house when the living room underwent its transformation (reduce, reuse, recycle, right?) as joists and frame material.  The decking is cedar.

A glorious deck!

I decided that a great use for the last eight of those 2" x 6" s would be to use them to make posts for a pergola.  this would require first cutting them to 8-foor lengthe and staining them.  So off I went...

Four of eight cut to eight foot lengths

The other four - first side stain coat

I wish I had taken pictures of the next stage!  Once I had them all stained and the stain had cured for a couple of days, i laminated them together.  This involved heavy duty adhesive and clamps.  They didn't have long to dry and cure in the glue stage because today my Mum & Dad came back up to help me and Dad and we mounted the posts into saddles, sank the saddle posts into holes that Dad drilled into the concrete pads (which we then also added more adhesive to) and then we cut and mounted the cedar cross pieces.

Saddle post & lag bolts - this puppy's not

Clamped for good measure while the glue dries

Lag screws holding the cedar cross-pieces in place

Look!  A Pergola Frame!

Side view of the Pergola Frame

The view from the fence in my back yard
It is officially too hot now to do anything further outside for today, but tomorrow I will go and buy caps for the post-tops to ensure that rain doesn't get into the post-tops... Once I have those installed, I will also need to stain the cedar.  The next stage will involve cutting the rest of the fir (there are 12 pieces left that measure anywhere between 5' 8" and 5'1" and I will cut them all to 5' exactly. 

The cross-pieces waiting for their turn

Once cut, they will all be stained and I will mount them on the top of the pergola using joist saddles.  They may not look terribly gorgeous with post saddles, but they will be secure and to be honest, once the grapes have grown up and around, the joist saddles will be hardly noticable!

So that was this weekend's major efforts.  I am now showered up, wearing the new maxi-dress my Mum made me and about to sit in my arm chair, put my feet up, have a cider and watch some Battlestar Galactica.

With love across the waters...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Erin Erin, trying to be an agrarian, how does your garden grow?

We have gone back to our NORMAL west coast weather this year (finally!) and as a result there has been more moisture falling from the skies, more lawn mowing and much lest forest fire scare out here on the island.  By this time  last year I was fearful for the forests around my home and praying for rain.  This year's off-again-on-again rainfall patterns have decidedly not been falling. in my favour, and as a result my outdoors projects are much slower to completion. Again, because I try to be a glass-half-full girl, I have had less watering to do and as a result of the optimal conditions, MOST of my garden has been growing REALLY well.  

As at my last post in May, I'd just planted my corn, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and beans. I'm having a slow grow with the bed that the onions, carrots and Health Kick tomatoes are in.  I have started feeding them all, but I think the soil that I have in that bed (which is ALL new potting soil) had very little in the way of nutrient in it and so that bed is still looking very much as it did in May. The rest of the plants, including the apple tree and grapes (which I pretty much ignore and they grow astonishingly well) and the Damson Plum tree (which has now made its official comeback - and HOW!) are HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

So, for the record, here is today's gratuitous garden gallery (like the alliteration there? tee hee)

Damson Plums - ripe and ready for the picking

Grapes will be giving a bumper crop soon too
and yes, I need to replace the shed!

Just a few of the grape bunches I will be working with

This is the bed that is not growing as I had hoped
This fall I will deep compost and plant a cover crop

Cherry tomato plants that are VERY happy

Corn - higher than the eye can see - and already
starting to show tassles!

A pretty green place!
With love across the waters...

A New Window, A Whole New Look!

The front bedroom has been a dark and dreary space as long as I've had the house.  One single window, up underneath the carport overhang, and no overhead lighting.  the overhead lighting will be fixed with a MAJOR renovation to the bedroom side of the house - but not for a very long time as I am not planning to have anything major done to the house now for a few more years... well, except for the lottery win.  When I win the lottery, all bets are off LOL.

In any case, like the kitchen, I thought the addition of another window might make a massive difference.  So I called my friends at Got Gutters and they came out and gave me a quote.  Done!

In May, when the weather cleared up for a while, they came out and installed the window - and thus transformed a room that was dark and dreary into a very bright space!  And since it is the larger of the two bedrooms, once I had the window in, I decided a coat of primer to get rid of the yellow, and a light creamy paint tone (this colour is called Pita Bread) would make all the difference in the world.

No longer a storage space come computer room, this is now my bedroom!

Here are some "before" shots - just so you can get a feel for the yellow...

Yup.  Dark and Yellow.

Notes to the contrator

The wall where the new window will go.
When I came home for lunch that day, this is where things were...

Already in!

Trim needed next
 And when I got home after work we have trim!

With trim... now to paint!
And that weekend I primer coated everything

Ready, Set,  Go!

Brighter already

Holy cats - what a difference!

Even the door got a coat!
And finally the paint and moving my stuff into that room!

Such a different feeling space

Light and airy - and did you notice?
More closet space!

It really is a lot bigger than it felt!

I still have multiple indoors projects - never fear - but these ones are more related to space-intelligent design for a small house.  Planning and posts around those will follow soon, I promise.  For now, I leave you with much...

With love across the waters...

Get your mind into the Gutters

Ehehe.  It has been a long time since that came to mind as a title for this particular post.  

In March I had quotes to have a new window installed into the front bedroom and a second quote to have the the gutters replaced all around my house. Good home maintenance includes cleaning gutters - but if you are like me (and as I got older I became more concerned about the distances between me and the ground) the concept of climbing a rickety ladder to clean out gutters is an easy thing to think about but a difficult thing to actually DO...

In my efforts to ensure my house is maintained properly, I look for ways to make maintenance efforts light and impact heavy.  Clean-free gutters scores a HUGE gold star for this.  Essentially they are gutters with built in screening to make cleaning a thing of the past - yes, even out here on the green coast!

Old gutters pulled off - yuk - the crud that had built up in them was actually GROWING stuff!

Ugh - look at the crud in there!

Ugly old brown gutters!

New gutters installed - this was the super cool part - the truck has this machine in it that actually molds out the new gutter AND the built in screen all in one go!  The basically just walk it out as long as it needs to be - meaning that the gutters along the length of the house are all one continuous piece (think no seams and therefore no leaks!) and they cut in drain spouts where needed!

The new gutters are black (and look REALLY sharp) and have a low profile to the house - so they blend right in!

Excellent clean profile to the house... but I can see
I will next have to have all of the soffits replaced!

Clean line along the side of the house

Oh - and this one actually has a
cleaning trap in it!

With love across the waters...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Springtime Catch-up

Spring is here in full force - flowers are blooming, fruit and vegetables are growing, home renovations will be starting again...

With the start of spring, I also came across a new opportunity for work - and decided that it really was time for a change.  The change in employers (yes, I left my last employer after 25 years) has me working a whole 2 blocks from home.  I walk to work.  I walk home at lunch.  My total commute is about 3 minutes - and that is if I stop to smell the actual flowers on the way.  With this change I have regained 10 hours a week.  

10 hours!

The work week is two and a half hours shorter, but the biggest change is that I am not in my car for an hour and a half each day.  I get up a little later - yes - but I am still out walking my dog in the early morning hours. I feel more rested and less stressed.  There is the "stress" of learning - oh, and there is some stress in that, for the first time in 25 years I am actually on "probation" for three months and there is the risk that I don't make it through - but the feed-back thus far has been really positive.

Spring has hit in full force, though, and this weekend I finally got to the serious gardening that I needed to complete.  I dug out the other two vegetable beds (pernicious weed removal) and ground layered some heavy-duty landscape cloth.  It is woven cloth covered in plastic and I sure hope that it finally stops the nasty weed that I have been battling for the last few years!

Once dug out, weed-barriered, and then back filled with cleared soil and potting mix, in went the vegetables.  Last weekend I planted the Principe Borghese (cherry) tomatoes - four plants this year - into the same bed I had the two plants in last year.  I generally harvest and dehydrate these ones as they store brilliantly and a handful or two makes a wonderful addition to my soups, stews, rice dishes and so on.  Slightly reconstituted, they make wonderful pesto sauce.

I also potted some Genovese Basil - admittedly, it may be too early to have it out, but I also have some seed that I can start in the house and grow in my garden window in the kitchen.  

This weekend was the lion's share of planting efforts. Two kinds of lettuce.

Pole Beans:

Health Kick tomatoes, Red Onions and Purple Haze Carrots (This will be the colour-filled harvest bed)

And two kinds of corn:

I have also put up some pet-deterrent screening to ensure there is no jaunting through the beds (or digging in them) until everything is well established.

I also have two kinds of squashes planted in the little bed out front.

All in all, a very productive day.

Tomorrow will also need to be a productive day  I will need to get the car in for emergency brake repairs, call repair people about my vacuum (something has disconnected somewhere and while the hose has suction, the chassis does not,) call other repair people about my awning (the metal loop that the pole connects to and then turns to open and close the awning has broken off and I need to get that dealt with ASAP,) Do the requisite laundry and weekly cleaning, and also clean out the front bedroom in advance of the next stage of renovations - the new window.

Yes, more renovations are on my table for this summer - but nothing as big as last year's job!  Additional window installation into the front bedroom (for more natural light) and then a full painting refresh in here.

Other summer projects include finishing the pantry shelving and then tricking it all out (paint and flooring) and MAYBE building a Murphy bed with a floating desk for the front  bedroom. Or it may go into the bedroom I'm currently using and I may move myself into the front bedroom - something I will have to decide after the room has the new window and been painted.  It has more closet space, and I think it is also bigger. I'm still on the fence about that, though.

With love across the waters...