Tuesday 27 August 2013

Driveway Mystery

Many people are anxious to leave their homes and go away on holidays for fear they will be robbed.  I've become more concerned that when coming home instead of finding things missing, I will find new stuff  that will have appeared out of thin air and arrived on my doorstep.  Now admittedly, a new shiny car or a large cheque would be OK but these are not the kind of items that materialise at my home when I go away for the weekend. 

THIS is the kind of thing that arrives when I am not home.

Yes, imagine my surprise to see this at the end of my driveway as we pull in.  At least I had seen it before and pieced together the puzzle.  My husband was thinking we needed to call the military to disarm it.  A few posts ago I mentioned I wanted an antique object to add whimsy to my garden - this was not what I was looking for, though it may be considered a family heirloom.  It is actually a cement mixer that my Dad has used for many years and recently resurrected for Shannon to complete the concrete foundation  for her new shed project.  Apparently once the concrete was poured the mixer needed to go somewhere so it was toed over to my driveway.  I think this may be payback for a trailer full of sand that I dumped at Shannon's place while they were away several weeks ago.  I am told the mixer is now 70 years old, though some of the parts it was frankenstiened from are even older.  The axle was from a model T-ford.

So now I guess the pressure is on to make the forms for the retaining wall under my deck.  Luckily Shannon off loaded a pile of extra navijack (a sand and gravel mixture used to make concrete) beside my house about a year ago so we might as well get mixing.  If only that would happen while we were away.


Monday 19 August 2013

diy modern playhouse

Our daughter turned 3 in the spring and we decided she needed her own playhouse.  I started out scouring craigslist looking for a used playhouse at a fair price but the cheap ones were gone before I got to them or people were asking way too much for a used playhouse.  We decided to build our own.  We thought it would be cheaper to build from scratch rather than buy a pre-fab kit, we were wrong.  The upside was I got to design it and our daughter ended up with unique playhouse just for her!  It is made out of cedar except for the four corner posts that are pressure treated. After adding the cedar shakes to the exterior we installed thin plywood to the interior walls to hide all the nails protruding through.  The roof is made out of corrugated metal.

Of course every playhouse should have its own mailbox.
View from the kitchen sink.
Sunshine curtain made out of outdoor fabric....hopefully it won't mold.
Curtain rod made out of plumbing materials.
A very full sandbox thanks to the extra sand Lauren dumped on my front yard when I wasn't home.
Munchkins playing in the sandbox.  I still need to make a sandbox cover to prevent neighbourhood cats from doing their business in the sandbox....so gross.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Garden Gate DIY project

Oh the lazy days of summer, time to relax, have a drink and read a book in the garden. After several minutes of this, it is time to put away the book, get out the table saw and start a new project.  My HH was determined to get this garden gate project off his/my list during his summer vacation.  We've managed without a side gate for many years but with our littlest one beginning to walk we thought it was time to make something to keep our explorer contained.  The parameters for the design of the gate included:
  • had to allow light to pass overtop and through from the West so as to not shade the back veggie garden
  • able to pop off and remove the gate to allow a vehicle or Boler Trailer enough space to pass through to the backyard, which also means needed to be fairly light weight
  • 2 sides opening from the middle to provide what I think makes a welcoming entrance to the back yard
  • made of cedar because it is the kind of wood available and commonly used here in the Pacific northwest

First Step:  HH is removing an old rotten fence post and replacing it with a new one set in concrete about two feet into the ground.  Replacing the old fence was NOT part of this project but we did end up replacing one other post at the same time to keep theold fence a little more vertical.


Below you can see the back side of the completed gate.  I think my HH is giving himself a pat on the back for a job well done.  You can see from this side that we screwed the 1"x 2"s with a gap of a half inch onto a frame made of 2"x2"s.  The metal corners also provide structure to the frame of the gate and were from a "gate kit" available at hardware stores.  The hinges are able to pop off and are attached to a post on the fence and a 2" x 4" with a backer inside the garage.  We hung the gates and held up a hose to create the swoop curve.  After marking  the curve we wanted, we took the gate down and cut the posts down using a jig saw.



Monday 12 August 2013

Garden Relic Score

I am not one for knick knacks and ornaments galore in my garden.  I prefer the most tacky element in my garden to be me, which might explain the rubber boots and shorts ensemble that has shocked passerbys.  However, I was recently inspired after touring my friends garden at http://edibleoasis.ca/ to bring an object with some kind of past life into the garden to add a little interest or whimsy.  Michael and Robbi have curated old objects of all kinds that have worked their way into niches throughout the garden on their urban yard turned plant nursery. 

Though sometimes I can be rather obsessive about my next plant or garden element (I'm currently harassing a local nursery to bring in orange exhinacea) I was rather zen about finding something rusty for the garden.  Indeed, the one and only garage sale I've been to this year hosted by my mother in law, brought me to a decrepit little ladder that was free.  You can see below I painted it with some blue paint which I watered down to allow the old ladder patina to show through.  I plunked it in my front side garden and draped the pumpkin vine through the ladder.  I hope to be able to post a fall photo with a nice fat pumpkin growing on top.

Thursday 8 August 2013

dead or alive?

So every year I have a few plant casualties.

This year a smoke bush (Continus coggygria) that I've tended since birth germination (it started from a seed of another smoke bush in my yard) has bit the dust.  This smoke bush was growing in the corner of my vegetable garden, providing a nice contrast to all the green, until my HH came along with a out of control gas weed eater and brutalized the trunk.  HH is not the best weed eater operator to begin with and when the device he was using had no idle option, he had to keep it revved and decided to go like a bat out of hell to get the job done with no concern for the plants that got in his way! Although I did not witness this crime, he sheepishly came up to me after and told me the bad news...This was the result:
I attempted to water it and talk nicely to it to no avail...but then on closer inspection new growth was sprouting from below the weed eating injuries, so maybe it will make a come back after all.

In late spring I had a yearning for a vine maple (Acer circinatum).  I decided I could find one in my parents forested back yard for free.  When I finally got around to going up to their place, the trees had already leafed out, but this didn`t stop me, we traipsed all around their backyard looking for just the right specimen, we finally found it and I started digging, then I broke a their shovel, still undeterred, I kept digging and pulling and finally got it out....but it didn`t have much root left for a 10 ft tall tree.  I planted it in a native garden next to my daughters playhouse and hoped for the best.  At first it seemed like it would survive but the unfiltered sunshine and heat that is was not use to in its old home beneath the forest company proved to be too much and the leaves turned brown.  Since I wasn't planning on replacing it with something until the fall, I left it in place. Lauren was trying to convince me that I should paint it a funky colour and call it art, which I was seriously considering, when I noticed a small little green leaf sprouting from the trunk...its alive, its alive!

Further up the tree, amongst the brown crinkly leaves, one of the branches is also sprouting new leaves.
I guess sometimes it pays to be slow at removing what you thought were dead plants!

Sunday 4 August 2013

the roots of dinner

After perusing the garden, I decided to make borscht for dinner. I harvested beets, carrots, kohlrabi, cherry tomatoes, onion and dill for the soup.
I've grown a beet blend from West Coast Seeds which included Chioggia, round Detroit Supreme, leafy Early Wonder Tall Top and cylindrical Rodina beets. The stripes of the one beet were really pronounced, too bad the stripes get lost in the soup.
I topped the borscht with sour cream and chives and called it "pink soup" which convinced a 3 year old that it was worth eating!