Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Mailbox

This was my mailbox.
I always forget to take photos at the very start of a project, 
so this photo was taken just after I removed the offensive object from my house.
The Day of the Dead duct tape really adds a little somethin-somethin.
The tape was actually placed there to keep the mail man from
putting the mail in an open area in the back that
wasn't large enough to fit your hand into.
I really hated this mailbox.
This is the new improved mailbox that I just picked up
and installed myself.
(please look past the road grime staining the siding,
it won't come off so we're painting the house house in the future)
It's definitely more aesthetically pleasing, and
it's close enough to turn of the century style mailboxes to appease me.
I found similar mailboxes online for about $50,
which was why I was still living with the ugly plastic monstrosity.
This piece I found by accident while checking out
a turn of the century pie safe on a site online.
The store is called James and Jess House of Goods in Waynesboro, PA.
I learned this mailbox was only $21.
So I planned a short hike on the Appalachian Trail with a stop in Waynesboro to check out the store.
The mailbox is great.  Not an antique,
but I like it and it works.
The store is fantastic.
Full of odds and ends, some antique some not,
but all very cool.
Not only did I grab the mailbox, but I grabbed a rooster hook for the kitchen
and a small antique lantern that I have in mind for a project.
And I'm still thinking of the pie safe
that I'd like to use in the new bathroom as a cabinet for towels and such.
(but really there still aren't complete walls or a toilet in the bathroom so I'm not really ready for a piece like that).
So if you're around the area, 
I recommend checking out the store.
Even my mom and sister left with stuff.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Turkey Lurkey

This is Fernando the Black Spanish turkey.
I wasn't sure if he was going to be a tom,
but there's no question.
He's not Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner
or dinner at all.
He just spends his days hanging with his duck friends.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Make Way for Monarchs

Last year I started working on making my gardens
a monarch waystation
(you can read about that here).
I was little discouraged because I didn't really see many monarchs.
Actually, I didn't see any.
But I did see some swallowtails, 
so it was worth the work.
This year was entirely different.
I discovered that I have monarch caterpillars all over my milkweed.
And I also see 5-10 monarchs in the yard at any given time.
Hoping to eventually see a monarch chrysalis or 10
on the milkweed soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bathroom Magic

In addition to being visited by the Bathroom Fairy, 
we've also been visited by his counterpart: The Plumbing Fairy.
Here you can see the shower basin in place with the Plumbing fairy
my husband Big E working on the shower faucet hardware.
There aren't many photos to show, 
but we have checked toilet placement,
and added plumbing lines for sink, shower and toilet.
I'm happy to report that there are no leaks
as I was instrumental in helping with checking the lines.
It is important to make sure when checking water lines that you have a bucket handy
just in case you can't tell if the faucet hardware is turned to the "on" position.
Also, remember to empty said bucket after it fills with water
from the turned on shower
so the Bathroom Fairy your Dad doesn't find his bucket full of water.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More Progress

After some setbacks in the bathroom,
we're once again back on track.
The shower basin we had ordered
turned out not to be what we needed.
So I went back to what I wanted originally- a 42"x42" square base,
and planned to move the toilet
(apparently you can't have your toilet and shower within a certain distance
which was causing design issues, but problem solved).
So the Bathroom Fairy showed up and built the partition wall for the shower stall.
The front (where the ladder is) will be a glass door,
and there will be glass on the top of the partition wall.
More has been done since these photos, 
and I will reveal that progress as I manage to catch up with posts.
Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Phyllis the Polish Crested

One of the new chickens is a Polish Crested.
She's basically crazy.
Because her feathers fall into her eyes, 
she can't see the best.
So if, say, you were crouched by the coop watching the chickens,
and this chicken came running over,
she'd suddenly freak out leaping and sqwaucking
because she didn't see you right away.
My mom named this particular chicken Phyllis Diller.
You might notice the resemblance. 
There's also the crazy factor.
Ms. Diller (the human) was known to be a little wacky.
I always loved Phyllis Diller, 
mostly because she was a guest on the greatest show that ever was:
The episode was titled: A Good Medium is Rare
and it's posted below if you'd like to watch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mulching: Before and After

 I've been waiting over a year to be able to
share before and after photos of the yard.
Finally, I have a mostly finished product!
This is the view from our back door looking down to the back of the property.
And this is the same view now.
 And another view closer to the garage.
 This is of course the view from the beck of the property
looking back towards the house.
 And the same view now.
 Close up of the old lilac bush that was outside the back door.
It was rotted and not in great shape.
And now it's gone.
The large area in the photo that doesn't have plants
is the future site of the water garden I plan to put in.
There will be a waterfall in the back right corner of the house.
I'm hoping to be able to do that late summer/early fall
if I'm lucky.
Another wider view of the area.
This is a shot of the side of the house
and the lovely yews.

Another yew full frontal.
And here we are yew free.
This was a really big transformation.
We went from the yews to yew stumps 
to nasty grass and weeds 
to this.
A photo of the area on the side towards the back.
The room with all the windows is the laundry/mud room.
And here is the little garden now.
There was a garden there originally,
but it was full of weeds and mint.
Mint is the devil.
DO NOT plant mint directly into your garden!
Trust me.

Another view of the yews from the front of the house.
And the new view.
I'm thinking of planting a climbing vine on the rain spout.
A clematis would look good there,
and it would give the garden some height.
We don't have a front yard at all- the porch touches the sidewalk,
so I need to make sure the areas I have close by really pop.
Here we have some random shots of the new gardens.
We will eventually replace the old nasty wire fence
with a privacy fence.
The rest of the yard will be picket fencing.
I originally stuck my grandson's playhouse in the garden
to take up space.
I've decided to leave it there for now.
I had the idea to use containers 
and let him plant some annuals to have around his house.
The garden angel that was once my grandmother's.
Now that everything has been weeded and mulched, 
and all the plants have been planted,
it's time to make a list of what plants I'd like to add.
I have another hydrangea that was part of my wedding decor to transplant, 
and I'd like to get a lace cap hydrangea too.
Big E wants a rhododendron,
and I've saved room along the side of the house for that.
I need some more milkweed,
and I also want
rudbeckia (brown eyed Susan),  lavendar,
phlox, columbine, hollyhocks, and some coreopsis-
plus whatever else I happen across that I like. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mulching for Mother's Day

 So, I've been dying to get all the flower beds mulched
since last year.
Last year, we dug out a circle around the cherry tree and
gardens along the fence in the back yard.
We only managed to mulch the area around the tree last year.
This year, we dug out more garden area along the side of the house.
Since it was Mother's Day, 
I used it to my advantage and requested slave labor all day for mulching purposes.
 This was the first load of mulch.
We didn't just have mulching to do, 
that would have been easy.
We had to edge and pick up piles of weeds and grass
as we went.
We filled 10 large trash bags of yard waste when it was all said and done.
 In the end, it took 3 loads which equaled about 6-7 cubic yards of mulch.
Everything has been done except 
around the tree.
The transformation is amazing,
and I'll be blogging before and after photos soon.
I still have some areas to fill in with plants
(there's a list)
and hopefully later this summer or early fall
I'll be able to start on the water garden.
I guess now with all the weeding and mulching done,
I have to clean the house.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I Dig Perennials

A couple of weeks ago, my mom, Big E and I 
went to a family friend's house to snag some perennials.
Existing flower beds were going to be dug up
to make way for their awesome new barn.
And since I have tons of garden space to fill, 
I jumped at the chance to score free plants.
We might have gone a little overboard.
We had to stop because we ran out of room.
Granted, the photo shows plants for me and my mom, 
but the only room on the back seat is a small spot for my mom
on the passenger side.
I'm still planting stuff.
It's slow going when you need to weed before planting.
Hopefully I'll have some great photos of the garden beds once 
they're weeded and mulched!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Warning: Fowl Post

Spring has sprung,
and there's a whole bunch of new additions to the coop.
The fowl influx started on Easter with the purchase of 2 ducklings.
That's what happens when you have a grandkid.
On the right we have Scooby-Doo,
and on the left is Shaggy.
Shaggy was named something else by my son, 
but was renamed by the grandson.
This past Saturday I ventured out to the Poultry Swap
 to get some new pullets.
The grandson had some specific requests for new hens.
He wanted an orange chicken
and a green chicken.
He was happy to settle for one that laid green eggs 
after I explained there weren't any green chickens.
So I picked up a Buff Orpington that has been named Velma.
And I got an Easter Egger that has been named Fred
(I'm sure you can tell the grandson's current interest, 
though I'm a Scooby fan from way back).
Let's hope that Fred not only lays green eggs, 
but doesn't live up to the name and lays eggs period.
To finish my purchases, 
I picked up a pearl colored Cochin, a white crested black Polish
and 2 speckled sussex pullets.
a turkey.
This little guy is a Black Spanish heritage breed turkey.
It's one of the oldest turkey breeds and is in danger of disappearing.
So he will not be eaten.
Or she whatever it is.
Currently the turkey has no name,
but I'm sure I'll think of something eventually.
 So far, the lone hen I already had 
(named Donner because she's a cannibal)
is getting along with everyone.
There is some pecking going on,
but over all I think she's happy to have friends. 
Hopefully everyone will manage to got get eaten or pecked to death.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Rock Salad Garden

With the fabulous weather we've been having, 
Big E and I have been spending spare time doing things in the yard.
The latest task we tackled was cleaning up 
a garden area on the side of the garage.
It's been neglected for a while now,
and I think it is a good spot for a new garden 
for lettuces and kale.
It'll save on the grocery bill for tortoise food.
Not only was it full of weeds and nasty Bermuda grass, 
it also had 5 invasive tree species growing in it.
Apparently, this used to be a rock garden.
Or cement garden.
This is one of 2 piles of cement block that was dug up
and hauled out of the garden.
Once section actually had large pieces of flagstone in it
and resembled a chicken.
Big E wouldn't let me keep it.
 In the end, we got it all dug out, 
and it looks great. 
Again, hard to imagine that there was so much cement
in such a small area.
Not sure if I'm going to make a raised bed, 
or just use it as is.
Either way, I'm glad the area looks better, 
and I'm anxious to get the salad growing
for me and the tortoise.
(Though now we have to clean up the piles of crap we took out of it)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Monster Forsythia

Busy as usual.
Wednesday evening Big E and I worked on 
removing the forsythia shrubs at the back of the yard.
Forsythia are very misleading.
Like icebergs.
They look manageable enough, 
but underneath is this massive root ball leviathan.
Big E was convinced the easiest thing to do was sell the house
and buy one without forsythia shrubs that need removal.
Big E had attempted to use his saws-all to cut through the roots, 
but the roots just wore the teeth off the blade.
I made the suggestion that we dig around the shrub
and use loppers to cut roots as we go.
He scoffed at this idea.
I suggested using the chain to pull them out, 
so off I went to get the chain from my dad.
On the way back, this was the text I received:

I wanted to make sure that everyone saw the actual proof
that I was right..... again.
Anyway, we hitched up the chain
and popped the first stump out.
The second was a little different.
It took several tried before the thing even budged, 
but it the end it popped out too.
We had to remove the dirt from the root ball,
and when I jumped in the hole it was up past my knees.
Huge job accomplished,
now we need to get to work on the veggie garden.

Monday, April 3, 2017


This weekend was busy,but it was productive.
Saturday I had a dog adoption event
to take my foster dog to.
He was adopted, so he makes the 3rd foster dog we've successfully found a home for.
Later that day, I managed to get a little deep cleaning done,
well, basically just deep cleaning the couch.
I also needed to degrease a vent hood for the kitchen.
Our hood no longer works, so every time we cook, the smoke detector goes off.
Big E replaced someone's hood at a job,
and brought the old one home
(there was nothing wrong with it other than it didn't match the people's new appliances)
With some cleaning and some appliance paint,
 we plan on replacing our broken hood with this one. 
Later that day, we headed out to REI to spend a lot of money 
get some new backpacking gear,
and hit one of my favorite Italian restaurants.
Sunday brought some warm temperatures and sunshine,
and that meant outside work.
I painted the vent hood.
No photos though, besides, who really wants to see a bunch of photos 
of a vent hood?
I managed to get a lot of the weed piles bagged up out of the garden,
so now I'm ready to get the flower beds tilled and mulched.
We also finally got around to measuring and marking stuff for the new fence.
You'll notice my stellar handwriting ability using spray paint.
Must be from my tagging days in Baltimore.
Okay, I never tagged anything and I lived in the 'Burbs.
Still, it's obvious I'd have mad tagging skills. 
Hopefully we'll be able to get our permit and get started on the fence.
It sure will be nice to let the dogs out and not have to walk them on the leash!
The day ended with a 3 mile hike and some shrimp creole at my mom's house.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Getting the Car in the Garage

As I think it is with most garages, 
mine was a mess and a car wouldn't fit in it.
Some of the items- like the windows and new toilet and sink-
are there until they can be put in their new homes.
Other stuff was just tossed in there
(mostly by me I admit)
because I didn't know where else to put them.
So because we were in for a big snow storm, 
Big E and I decided to tackle the mess.
We needed to get things moved and organized 
so my car could fit in the garage in the event
the snow emergency went into effect.
The stack of wood on the right in the photo below
needed to get moved to the loft storage area.
Some of the plywood we were saving for various future projects
(like chicken coop repair/expansion),
and some pieces were slated for the burn pile.
We also wanted to get the counter tops in place
for Big E's work space.
We salvaged the cabinets from the old upstairs kitchen,
and moved them into the garage.
They'll make nice storage for Big E's tools,
and a nice area for him to get working on the projects I have for him.
The cabinets were all hung already
with the help of our friendly neighborhood Eagle Scout.
We just needed to move all the floor cabinets into place
and attached the counter.
We also saved the old "kitchen table" from the downstairs kitchen.
It was just a cabinet with a counter top.
We decided to use this as a little potting table for me and my plants, 
and a place to store all my gardening stuff.
For now, we used cinder blocks to raise it high enough to use, 
but Big E will eventually build a platform so the counter tops will be level.
For now the plywood for the new bathroom subfloor
and the items needed for the new bathroom
need to be pushed to one side, so it looks more cluttered than it is.
The area for my car was cleared out, 
and just in time as it snowed about 15 inches 2 days later.

I'm looking forward to getting all the tools moved to the garage 
to free up some space in the attic.