Monday 21 April 2014

diy retro concrete block pad

 So we built a bench (for another post) and then discovered we had no where appropriate to put it.  I thought we could place in front of the new shed, directly on the grass, but was informed my multiple people that the wood would wick up the moisture from the grass and rot in a hurry.  We needed some sort of pad. My husband thought we could use some left over bricks from another project but that seemed too boring and really not special enough for the awesome bench we are going to bestow upon it! I decided the solution was to find some used decorative concrete blocks that were common in the '70's  and fill the voids with pea gravel. I knew my only chance of keeping HH on board with this plan was to not spend too much so I needed to find the brick for free or really cheap.  I scoured craigslist for the concrete blocks but nothing was panning out until I happened to spot a pile of rubble next to the highway at an old motel.  I contacted the motel and they gave me the concrete blocks for free. Lauren had some left over pea gravel that she donated to the cause.

We dug out the sod and then put in a couple inches road mulch (gravel) as the base.

Next we placed the concrete blocks with a couple inch gap between them and filled the voids with pea gravel.
After some tinkering with getting things level the patio was complete!

Wednesday 16 April 2014

DIY Grass Couch

I have a grass couch in my backyard.  This is something I don't share with everyone except on the internet.  It all began in the fall when I had a lot of dirt and a husband away on a business trip.  In trying to dig out under our deck I had run out of places to off-load the extra dirt and thought I could be more creative than just piling it up in a corner.  After searching the usual websites I did come across some stock photos of grass couches - some looked rather less than organic, i.e. sod thrown over old couches.  These images looked great but I'm sure they were really only meant to last the day of the photo shoot.  Can you imagine an old couch in your backyard rotting beneath a layer of sod with springs and wood poking out?  I did find a public garden in the UK that used  bales of hay to make their grass couch base, this idea looked like it lasted for sometime, but I had soil, not hay to work with.  My idea then evolved, I picked up 20 cardboard boxes from the liquor store and filled and stacked them to make the couch structure.  I was pretty sure my husband would not be onboard with my engineering plan and I didn't feel like justifying my crazy idea so I had to work pretty hard to complete the project before HH arrived home.  You can see the soil filled and stacked liquor boxes below.

The image below shows the backside "support" for the couch backrest.

 I mudded (not sure if this is a real word) all surfaces with a dirt, water and grass seed mixture.  You can see below it had started to sprout before winter arrived.

 At the end of winter, to everyone's surprise the cardboard box and dirt structure had held together, grass was growing, even on the vertical surfaces but it was pretty patchy.  I ran out of patience and decided to speed up the process with a trip to my local turf farm (bet you wish you had a local turf farm too).

Pictured above is the final version of the couch draped with fresh sod.  The kids don't look particularly impressed in this photo.  Let's hope the grass couch holds together a little longer and that I can capture all the fun that a grass couch adds to ones life.

Thank you to my local liquor store for helping to make this project happen in more ways than one.

Monday 7 April 2014

rhubarb muffins

I have happy rhubarb.  It is already growing like gangbusters so I decided to make some rhubarb muffins.  I've been eating these rhubarb muffins since I was a kid, I'm not sure where the recipe originated.

Rhubarb Muffin Recipe:
1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 and 1/2 cups rhubarb
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Topping (optional)
1 Tb melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and milk
Stir in rhubarb and nuts
Add dry ingredients
Put in muffin tray and sprinkle with topping

Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes

Now off to eat a muffin with my coffee.  Do you have any favourite rhubarb recipes?

Tuesday 1 April 2014

DIY paving stones under the deck patio: part 2

This is the continuation of our project to create a patio under our sundeck. 

With the concrete retaining walls complete it was time to lay down the paving stones.  I wheel barrowed in 3/4 yard of road mulch (fancy gravel that compacts well) into the area.  On another snowy March Sunday we rented a plate tamper, the snow helped us slide the heavy machine down into the base.  After tamping down the road mulch I wheel borrowed about half a yard of sand and raked this out.  The next step involved a term I've recently learned called "screeding" which is a method of pulling a straight board over two one inch boards inset into the sand to create a track that aids in pulling the sand into a perfectly level surface. You can see the method pictured below.

Finally on another rainy Sunday we are able to lay the pavers, using Shannon, her HH and handy paver saw to lay them down.  Pictured below is the new yoga pose: downward facing level.

HHs' completed the paving stone patio by  sweeping, spraying and hand tamping in special sand to fill in the cracks and keep the pavers in place.  Below you can see the results of our labour.

Pictured above: I filled up my cortan steel steps 3/4 of the way with road mulch, tamped this down and then filled to the top with pea gravel.

Shannon just completed an order for some plants for landscaping and I have a few other pieces of furniture I'm looking for to complete the space.   If anyone spots a vintage bar cart suitable for the outdoors in their travels, please let me know.

Thank you to all our family members whose time, effort and skill made this project happen!

Some of you may recall this area was once dubbed the "pit of despair".  I think we need a new name for the pit, please comment with  your suggestions.