Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Peach Siding?

On Friday, when K was building our new flower beds in the front of the house, we had to re-pin down the drain pipe in that corner of the house.  The bracket that holds it on has been broken since before we got the house.  So, right now the drain pipe is held in place with a couple of mini bungee cords--  K's secret weapon for everything.

While crouching at the corner of the house, helping K, I noticed this peach/beige-colored shadow from behind where the pipe used to be/should be attached:

I pointed this out to K (who was busy and distracted), and she's like, "I don't know, looks like that's the color the house used to be?"

And looking back on those MLS photos, I realize that in the 1997 photo the house looks like this peachy-beige color.  And in the 1999 photo the house is clearly yellow. 



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rushed Re-Grading & Flower Beds

The weather was just gorgeous on Friday, so when I got home from work I found K working in our yard. 

One front corner of our house is where that water leaking happened before we moved in.  The ground kind of dips at that corner, and K has been meaning to re-grade the yard there.  Now that we have all that freshly churned up soil from the excavator in the back yard and a little bit left that we dug up from the garden area, we had dirt that we could use for this.

Re-graded dirt, and poly about to go in.

Dirt over the landscape fabric

She piled up dirt to fill the dip and made sure it was piled higher against the house and sloped down to the yard.  She put thick poly over that layer, then another layer of dirt, then landscaping fabric and a last few inches of dirt.  I will still be able to put plants in there, by sticking them through the landscaping fabric, and that will help keep the weeds down.  She also put water-proof caulk in the crack between our concrete slab and the foundation on the side of the house.  The concrete is sloped properly, but water was likely seeping in through that crack to the area next to the foundation and basement below.

The area in the front of the house had been just areas of dirt and some grass with really nothing else growing there, and the egress window well in the middle.  I had put a potted hibiscus in front of the gas meter, for a while, to hide it.  And since we never got the window basket put up, we left it on the ground, instead.  Basically, the area wasn't doing much to improve our curb appeal. 

To border our new flower beds, K used some pavers from the giant pile of them we have in our back yard.  She got these free shortly after we got our house, from a work project where they had to take out the pavers to install a deck. 

K and her string-lines....  ;-)

One down, one to go.

I think the difference is noticeable.  The area looks like it's been taken care of.  It will look better once I get some flowers in there.  I'm hoping to add some flowering shrubs this week.  Right now, I'm thinking red rose shrubs, but we'll see.

Beds are level with our house, even though the yard slopes down.

The flower bed on the right will be next -- we'll make this match the left side.

K was rushing to get this "little" project done yet that evening, because her dad and step-mom were coming to stay with us the next day.  I know the feeling-- you just want to do anything you can to make the house look better than the last time they were here, so that it looks like we're making progress!

Last step was to get some grass seed onto the patches of bare dirt around the new flower bed, and hopefully get that grass to take hold and keep that newly sloped dirt from washing away.  We have some grass seed leftover from filling in the patches from the bushes in the front, the kind of seed that is mixed with recycled newspaper.  It works great, stays in place.  The grass is a different type than what is originally in the yard, slightly darker, so if you look close you can kind of tell where we patched the lawn, but I think it still looks great.

There's still time for grass seed to grow this year!

I'm really excited to get some flowers in here!! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Excavator Madness!

Yesterday afternoon, K sends me this text:

excavator, removing tree stump, tree stump
        " This happened today :) "

Yup, that is an excavator in our backyard, digging up the stump and roots left over from our tree removal.  I was beyond excited when I got that text!

There have been 2 things holding up any further progress on the garage--
#1:  Figuring out to do with that stump.
The tree stump absolutely had to be removed.  With the way the plans lay out in the back yard, the stump would lie half under the concrete slab of the garage, and half under the asphalt driveway, which will eventually lead to one or both of those surfaces cracking as the dead wood rots away.  It's possible to change the plans, sure, but neither of us wanted that, if we could get the stump out instead.
#2:  Getting the plans OK'ed by the city.  (I don't think she has brought the plans in, yet, so this still remains.)

K asked the excavating subcontractor that they use at her job if, since the job site they're working at is 5 miles from our house, he would come over and see if this was something he could do.  She said he was working on it for about an hour, but got the entire stump and most of the root system up and out of the ground, evened out all the dirt in the area, and then used his shovel to pack down the loosened dirt into the hole left by the stump.  Amazing!!

Here are some pictures and video of the process:

And the result:

Look at how tall these roots are!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hanging Bar For My "Closet"

K and I both have the smaller single door-sized closets in our bedroom, but we both keep the bulk of our clothes in our offices, and just keep the off-season or dress-up stuff in the bedroom.  My work clothes & everyday clothes are up in my office.  This is nice because we are sometimes getting ready for work at different times, so we don't have to wake the other up.  And our bedroom doesn't have a dresser in it!  It can be uncluttered by our clothing messes, and just contains our bed and two nightstands.

So for the purpose of holding my clothes in my office, I purchased a rolling clothes-hanging thing from Target for 20 or 30 bucks.  Mostly plastic, and after a few months the thing developed a definite lean...  It occasionally falls over, basically.  We had to flip it around and lean it toward the corner of the room so it would lean into the wall, and not fall over when I wasn't even near it. 

Leaning line of clothes...

I've been asking K to put in a permanent hanging bar for me, ever since this thing started tipping over.  But it's tricky, because of the sloped walls in my office.  There isn't a normal bracket for putting up a closet rod that works on a sloped wall.  I did find something online for this purpose, but it was spendy.

While at the Depot yesterday, we grabbed the normal brackets and rod, and K figured she could put triangle-shaped blocks behind the brackets to put them in the right position.  But then something made her think of galvanized pipes!  So we went to that aisle and had fun figuring out how we could use a galvanized pipe and pipe fittings to make a hanging rod.

One 3/4"x 4-foot pipe + 2 flanges + 1 45-degree elbow = the perfect piece to attach to the sloped ceiling and the normal wall at the end of the room.

K attached the flanges to the studs and tested the bar by hanging on it a bit.  It stayed secure!  Should be able to hold lots of clothes.

So, this works great!  I have more room for hangers than I had before.  And the bar certainly isn't going anywhere.

Space on the left could be used for shoes!

It does stick out more into the room than my portable bar did, but we had to put the bar where the wall studs were, and not just wherever it looked good.  The space behind the clothes seemed like it would be wasted, at first, but I realized that I could set up some nice shoe racks back there.  Or maybe shoe cubbies, and then I could put hats and boxes of accessories on top of those. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Garden Plot - Day 1

Today we started one more thing on our To Do list...  Now that the tree is trimmed, there is a lot more sunlight in the yard.  And sunny space for my garden!  I know I'm getting a very late start on it, but that's how it goes.  Snow all through April, rain all through May, and lots of other things with higher priority through June.

We got a great start on our raised bed today.   It was very hot out, but we went to the Depot and got everything we needed, backed up the truck onto the lawn and heaved the supplies and all the bags of soil over the fence.  (Got covered in muck from wet compost/manure bags... Don't even want to know.)  We picked a spot that now gets great sunlight, and isn't too filled in with weeds yet.

 K planning our layout

Me, happily, sweatily upturning all the weeds in the square

We got pretty far today before we had plans for the evening.  K built the box, and got the stakes buried in the ground.  As with everything, we hit a couple small snags-- one being some really large rocks under the dirt, pretty much right where our stakes needed to go.  Had to shift the box over just a bit.  Annoying, but fixable.

The beginnings of the box

The box -- almost there!

The next steps are wire mesh to keep out underground critters, landscaping fabric to keep out the weeds, and then filling the box with all the top soil and compost that we bought.  And then get some plants in here!  I have a few seedlings that were doing great, and are now struggling in their tiny containers.  And a mint plant and a basil plant that I bought at Trader Joe's.  But other than that, I will probably be making a trip to a local nursery to get some plants that are where they should be by the 2nd week in July.  Excited!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pulling Numbers and Stringing Lines

Been a while since my last post, because we have been BUSY!  Lots going on these past couple weekends, including a wedding, and PRIDE in Minneapolis!  Busy, fun, tiring.  Lots of good people and good memories.  Since July 4th fell on a Thursday this year, we both took a long weekend and are hoping to get some things done around the house.

#1 is the garage.  The dang garage!  We need to get going on this!

Today, K and I "pulled numbers."  It was... an all-day process.  First, K needed to finish taking out the chain link fence that ran around where our big elm used to be.

The problem with this section of fence was all the bushes and little trees that had grown through the links throughout the years.
Check this one out!  --------->
Ouch, looks like that hurts!

So K had to clip the ends of a bunch of the links by hand-- links that were too buried in the ground or too entwined with branches.  Then she used her towline and her truck to pull the sections of links free.  Some of the fence will be reusable, but some parts are too bent or already damaged.  We plan to run another chain-link fence along the back property line, once the garage is built.

Since she had found the property markers and run string lines to connect them, a couple months ago, we just needed to set up the strings again to get started.

And then it got more complicated-- measuring angles and lengths and trying to get everything to match the plans K had drawn up on Google Sketch-Up.  But, she is good!  Just a couple adjustments to the plans and lots of measuring, and we had our garage drawn out in our yard in neon yellow string.

My job was to hold the ends of the measuring tapes, while K walked along the string and measured. 

My job had me standing at the corner of our lot quite a bit, which was nice.  Not often that I need to stand at the very end of our alley, ducking under trees.  But the view from there is our whole yard!  Pretty nice view, and it will be even better someday.


And here is our garage plan, in yellow string.  The string's really thin, so hopefully you can see it.  It's going to be a really nice-sized garage! 
It's at an angle that follows our property line, in the back, and that will allow K to pull her work trucks into the garage really easily from the alley.  No sharp turns.  And since it's off to the side and close to the alley, it means we get the whole rest of the yard to use for everything else.