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A Haircut and Three Pallets of Flagstones Later

28 Sep

After leaving my beloved hairstylist in SD, and a torturous search for a new, qualified, stylist, I found one! She was conveniently located less than 10 minutes from home, (BONUS!!) then she moved ☹️ (points taken away,) so she’s now 20+ mins from home. On my last visit James drove me and figured he’d just make a trip over to Habitat For Humanity which is right around the corner to just peruse, because you never know, and to kill time. Well. In our quest for an outside oasis, we’d conjured up a concept of landscaping some pathways in the front and backyards, carved out with flagstones and accenting with mulch. Much preferred over a slab of concrete sidewalk. Future plans to grow grass in the surrounding areas, maybe a raised bed for veggies and a sparkle of ground coverings when fall brings the rain that summer did not.
Now. Lets backtrack to the day before my haircut. On this day I was in my PJ’s watching Ellen and was not in the “Let’s go to the Depot” mood, but James wanted to go price out some flagstones, knowing he’d be heading to H4H tomorrow while I’m getting my haircut, and again, you never know!! TaDa! H4H had just received a pallet of flagstones, littered with bits and pieces the Depot didn’t possess πŸ‘πŸ». So he took some pics for me to see if they were something I liked and my response was, “Babe, why didn’t you just buy them?” By now we are on our way to lunch, then home so he figures he’d just head over in the morning, hoping they’ll still be there and, YAY! BUT. Two more pallets had arrived that morning! That’s a double yay my friends. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» So he bought all three. I’d say it was about 2 tons worth of stone, you could say a plethora of stones, that we unloaded, super fun, and piled them in the side yard for our next project. IMG_3479Now it’s time to move these little, and big, shits throughout the front and backyard. This was the greatest jigsaw puzzle I’ve ever created, and the heaviest damn pieces for such a puzzle, I’ve ever had to move around.

James spent the next morning using the roto-tiller to clear the paths, ridding them of all the dried out grass, weeds and dust that had taken over this dry ass summer. Filled them in with sand and tamped it down, (tamping is some serious shit, I recommend it for all your upper body needs,) to level them out and in comes me.
IMG_3498Now, this is not a puzzle that the pieces are made to fit together, in anyway, they are just that, pieces. Lots. Of. Pieces. Different, very different sizes and colors, and they are beautiful! I Spent hours spreading them out, randomly putting them along the edges, then moving, then moving again, and yes, again. In my mind I didn’t want any two of the same “color” together, didn’t want any “sizes” next to each other making it look like an organized path. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy as I’d lay a row of stones, then walk up and down it to see how the flow felt under my feet. Then move or add as needed, and repeat. It was more fun than I thought it would be. It was a great creative and physical, (remember the 2 tons part,) project. Now that I’m finally pleased with the placement and ease of the paths, time to do it all over in the backyard.IMG_3517
Priority one was the fire pit, wanting to ensure we had enough flagstones. Hard to determine how far a pile of random size pieces can stretch with an organic concept. Starting with the inner circle I picked through the pile to find any that had the slightest resemblance of a curve, luckily I found enough to make it work. And continued outward. The size of our fire ring was satisfactory and we had, hopefully, enough left over to carve a pathway from the porch to the back gate. I took caution and spaced the pieces out farther with hopes to be able to fill more in as it came down to the wire, and we barely made it.
IMG_3574Our finishing touches was to mulch around the stones in the pathways and fill in the the stones with pebbles around the fire pit. Just needs a few chairs and a fire, which we for sure did right after we finished!IMG_3549-2
With such a great resource as H4H and never knowing what you might find, there might be a diamond in the rough that didn’t work for somebody else but may find a good home, seems this visit worked out for this home. From us pricing retail first, and there isn’t nearly the array of personalities and designs as an option, James figures we saved around $1,000. It pays to shop used first, reduces waste and saves money!

Fork! βœ”οΈ

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Mini Me meets The Big House

6 Sep

Now that we’ve secured the grounds via newly built, (heavy πŸ˜” sigh,) painted, fence, we’ve got a shed to rebuild and, fuck, seriously!, paint. I shall dub her, Mini Me, and when we finish with her we paint the big house. Yes. I said paint. Again!A plus for us with the shed is that the concrete had already been laid and it came with a nice solid frame, it was just that every other part of it needed to be replaced. So we stripped that baby naked!Now it just needs four walls, a roof, trim, and paint. Lucky for us, that good friend I’ve mentioned before, knows all about that and, I mean, who doesn’t want to help cut and install siding, lay some black tar paper and drag a heavy ass, cumbersome pile of shingles up a ladder on a hot day? A great friend that’s who. 🍺🍺🌞

Bring out that piece of liquid gold/airless spray gun again my friends. Voila! And by “voila” I mean FORK! 

(For any new readers that means we stuck a fork in another project.) Now, it’s the big girls turn. And by big I mean, we need a MUCH bigger ladder. Day one was spent pressure washing the house, and that’s a fun tool to play with, so it wasn’t too painful!! πŸ˜‰

Then..

Ok. First, there’s a reason people pay someone else to do this shit, and I thank them for their talent. And I do mean talent. Oh and, for beginners painting a whole house, its like a 17 step, (or whatever horrific number you want to imagine,) process. So I’m just going to give a small picture tutorial with minimal captioning. You and I are both welcome for this shortcut.BeforeSanding the remnants of vines that grew up the house.Paint the under belly and eves our trim color.Cut in the edges a few inches by hand. Spray gun fun again!!Some minor trim work.And, Voila!! Except the garage door and front door, (I need a day off!) Then. FORK

Backyard Oasis Take One.Β 

13 Aug

Now that we’ve cleared out all the nonsense that existed in the back yard it’s time to start creating a beautifully landscaped oasis. We’ll start with some fruit trees, as they take a bit longer to produce. Went in with intent to buy 3-4 and decided for sure on an apple and pear. Now, there are so many damn varieties and we hoped we could find a Honeycrisp apple tree. Yumm! No dice. So we asked for a recommendation and the employees response was, “Dude! You gotta get the Arkansas Black Spur!” So of course with that response we had to. Then, they mention the pollination issue, something we’d never taken into account. They found us trees that were pollinating buddies and we ended up with 2 pear and 2 apple. Three of the four I’m not familiar with, but their confidence left me happy. We may have a handful of adolescent fruit next year, but I assure us all that when it becomes mature, we will not be shy of sharing. I see cobblers and pies and anything your heart desires!🍐🍎 Now, before we planted said trees we must confront our weed problem. If you recall in my last post, there was zero shit given to this property for X amount of time. First we must till and amend the soil. Then till again. Just when I think there are no more tools we could possibly need, I am sorely proven wrong! (My Dad assures me there is no such thing as enough, and thinking of my kitchen, I suppose he’s right, and James wasn’t too terribly bummed about buying a new toy!) And buy he did. I do however, recommend one if you plan any further endeavors of yard work. Rent vs Buy, worth every penny! This would’ve been painfully painful and, time consuming to do manually. ​

​We went a direction we’d learned on our SD home. Sheet Mulching. LOVED the concept. Using cardboard boxes, sans any tape or glossy labels, and luckily we had a shit ton from our move, (also smart on us we didn’t just throw them away,) any-who, it consists of covering the grounds with cardboard then adding a layer about 4-6 inches of a beautiful healthy mulch. This creates a heat that essentially stifles and burns the weeds, while also breaking down the cardboard to become part of your soil. Chemical free, self composting, weed killing beauty. A much better way to enjoy your home grown fruits and veggies.Β Now let’s add a little ground cover plants, and watch them all grow.Β Time to add some fun backyard additions.πŸ‘πŸ» Someday, when we have grass, I’m getting a fucking slip-n-slide! For now, fire pit. We’re talking the real-deal-bonfire-grill-steel-fire-ring! Nestled in a beautiful Pavestone surrounding, built by James. Β πŸ”₯When James went through that painful lopping, chopping, chainsaw-ing and stump grinding the damn yard, there was one tree that, as an afterthought, he decided he wanted it gone. However, revisiting that dreaded stump grinder again was, Out.Of.The.Question. So it simply became a large stump. Just need to sand the top to make it level, add a nice layer of lacquer and viola! It’ll be a proper captains chair to man the fire.Β Equipped with a swivel grill grate for your changing wants of a mesmerizing fire or some kick ass steaks and kabobs on the grillπŸ»βœ”οΈ

Looking forward to some clear cool nights after this hot, dry summer.✨

Where the Willows Meet the Stump Grinder.Β 

3 Aug

Now that the inside of the house is pretty much squared away it’s time to turn our attention to the outside. I could spend time telling you how un-kept this property was before we purchased it, but you really need visual aids. I’ll first add that in these before and after pics, you’ll notice quite a difference in the ground color so keep in mind that the befores were taken in Dec/Jan and the afters are during one of the driest summers we’ve had in years. We’ll tackle that lawn issue sometime soon, but as you’ll see, the overgrowth of trees and left behind stumps HAS to come first! We took a few cuttings of the branches to our local nursery and their best guess at the species was a sort of Willow tree, or tree-ezz. They have a very invasive root system and they had been having a fucking party in the backyard when no one was paying attention! Our neighbor told us that the city had came in after it was foreclosed on and cut down a slew of trees, just close enough above ground that if you don’t look down while walking there is an inevitable occurrence of profanity from whatever injuries or pissed off toe that transpires.

For this fun-time removal project we started from top to bottom. Smaller pieces, quicker clean up and less chance for crazy shit to happen. James started with his telescoping loppers, then came the chainsaw, then the dreaded stump grinder. There was a good 30 stumps that needed grinding and that’s about 30 more than you’ll ever want to have to use that beast of a machine on. Here’s something you won’t hear James say, “That beat the shit out of me!”​There was an added small handful of stumps and about 3 trees/bushes in the front yard we took down too, but I think you’ve got the gist of what we’re dealing with. 🌲 (I don’t know why the video isn’t playing with sound, I’m not very tech-y, but imagine a very intimidating/scary movie/chainsaw sound)βš™οΈπŸ˜΅

​

​This happened for about 8 hours. 8 hours!! Followed by a couple truck loads to the dump of yard waste later, we can get on that landscaping!Remember kids, we’ll work on that dreaded brown ground later, but for now, the view of the clear blue sky just got better.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

21 Mar

I’m loving this move/home/life changing decision more everyday. House aside, this is a beautiful city and it has been confirmed that we did, in fact, make a great choice landing here. Moving somewhere with blindfolds on can be both scary and exciting. I made a similar, I guess virtually the same, venture in September ’05 when a good friend and I decided it was time to leave ‘The Island‘ and head, well, South. Our destination was wide open. After a few months, a handful of states, family and friend visits, we settled on San Diego. Neither of us had ever been there and knew nobody, so instead of dipping our toes in the water, we jumped! Because what the fuck else do you do when it’s time to be a grown up again? Get a job and pay bills!☹️ It was the best decision I’d ever made, up until that point. Fast forward to my current crazy adventure – except this time the husband and I did a bit more research – I had replaced that truck full of a few totes and suitcases with a family and life I had built over the last 11 years. Instead of the unknown destination just being “South,” (growing up in Alaska that means the lower 48) it was now “Northwest”. The farther north we went the air just got clearer and fresher. The water from the tap, colder and tastier. The blues, the whites, the greens, you’ll never guess! Sharper! With every mile we knew we were making the right decision.

Before leaving that POD behind with all of our belongings, awaiting our beckoning, we wanted an estimate of what it would cost to have it shipped and for that they needed a zip code. James just picked one that he figured would be a close or possibly central enough location and well, what’d ya know?! Turns out that’s our fucking zip code!! And not just ours as in Olympia, ours as in, out of over 12 zip codes in the city it was specifically ours!!! Now thats some cool ass shit.

We have yet to do much city and outskirts exploring, spending the bulk of our time within a maybe 5 mile radius of our home, consisting mostly of the grocery store, Home Depot and walking the neighborhood with the dogs, but it is beautiful. We have a gate in our backyard that accesses a little pathway connecting us with surrounding cul de sac communities, a 20 minute walk to a beautiful big park, the streets are quiet and I love it, as do our fur babies. Then the birds. There’s a window over our kitchen sink that looks out to the backyard, and there’s our sliding glass doors opening to the back deck allowing us all to have the opportunity to watch our outdoors do as it likes. The house next to us has a handful of established bird feeders which, fortunately for us, means there’s already word in the hood that there’s access to food around these parts. My mother-in-law sent us this amazing bird feeder, (she’s a bird fan πŸ‘πŸ») and we were quick to add to it and I can’t tell you how often minutes just get lost watching the action in our backyard, this is all day action my friends. Zen. Lily has found a new obsession, because her current and never ending one with the cats just isn’t enough. Are you familiar with the movie ‘UP’ ,those dogs and their distraction word “squirrel!” That sums up Lily perfectly. We have been mimicking that for years joking about her attention span and how quickly she’d come to attention with the mere mention of the cats or their names. Well, we can no longer utter the word, she now knows it actually means just that, sadly, we have a few little fuckers that come and steal the bird feed and flare up her neurosis.

 

We’ve been downtown a handful of times. The capitol building overlooks a lake with a park and wrap around boardwalk. A weekly farmers market, cute ‘small business’ shops, restaurants and the like. I’m looking forward to springtime weather for the patios to open up and enjoy a brew with the four legged crew, we apparently moved here in the “off season.”

I’m well versed in the weather up here and I know that this kind of wet/rain is different. Those clouds, rain or not, are mostly just, there, and, as it did before it makes those blue sky days so amazingly majestic. I’ve missed having more than 1 type of weather 3/4 of the year -San Diego, 70 and sunny – is kinda it’s slogan. β˜€οΈ One of my favorite weather days thus far I woke up to a light snowfall, then it turned into blue skies. Which changed to sleet, followed by rain, blue skies again, then, BAM! Downfall of big balls of hail, which lasted about 1 minute and quickly petered off resulting in light rain. This was all in a span of about 6 hours. Ahh, I’ve missed those “every type of weather” days. I know my honeymoon won’t last forever and some days or weeks or months the rain and gray may just get old for me again, much like it did those 17 years I spent SE Alaska. But I also know that on the clear blue sky days I’ll forget about all that rain and take a deep clean breath in and smile at how amazingly beautiful this place I now call home is.

Update; while editing this the local news just stated, “this is the rainiest winter in over 2 decades.” Well ain’t that some shit 😊🌧

Break On Through…

10 Mar

When shopping for a new home there are many things to take into account, the 2 big ones, in order I believe. What’s Wrong? And. What can be improved? For us we were in agreement that, floors aside, our major project was to knock a wall down that serves no purpose whatsoever and open up the living room to the kitchen.  
The fact that it was not a load bearing wall was a huge bonus and now, after so many, many weeks, demo day has finally come. I can’t run from it any longer. Tearing down this structure, while it being the first thing we said we would do, still made me apprehensive. There’s electrical and cable in those walls somewhere. In my head I always psych myself out so I may have, maybe, drug my feet on this one. James tackles projects, like everything else, with confidence, something I do not possess, and after the first one or two times I push something back until “tomorrow” it’s no longer a question but more of a, “Ready because we’re doing this!” From him.
So we prep, cover furniture, lay some plastic and get out our tools. As with our past few demo ventures, James lets me take the first swings, and with the first many more flow freely, like a waterfall. I tread lightly to begin, knowing there’s hot wires in there, but once I find their freeway it’s an open road for me. Suddenly I’m in the demo zone. Another important tool to have at your disposal in these times, music. (Pandora Marilyn Manson is a great station, just saying.)

Lily was the first to show her curiosity. While I was on one side of the closet banging on the wall she was on the other side, trying to figure it out. In her defense, she’s always been pretty sure that everything has something to do with her, and must have the Lily stamp of approval.

Lily’s the most emotionally transparent of the family, and yes, we’re keeping her. We’ve broken through! Those little beady eyes are hers on the other side, still curious. Tear down that wall baby! It’s fun, and makes for easier cleanup when you can pull off nice big chunks of drywall instead of piles of crumbled bits. He pulled this baby off and hey, what’d ya know, we found a carbon footprint they left on this house. πŸ™‚ 

With little under my belt of the demo/construction/how to build shit circle of life, this, as far as framing goes, seems overkill and ridiculous. It’s a structure. Built for nothing more than to hold a few shelves. Below. It seems to be built strong enough to park a small car on top. I mean the best you could do with the space up there is maybe some faux plants. But then you’d have to climb up there every so often and at least dust them off. I’ve seen it up there. It is a dust collector, all alone, by itself, with no way for anything to ever visit. And dust is not that heavy. 
Our first house we bought we had a similar situation. Open up the walls between the kitchen and the living room. I sense a pattern of preference here, open spaces. 

(I would like to apologize that you had to bare witness to my poor attempt at using a fancy app to trick out my pictures. I don’t know how you people do it.)

We busted out a good 4 hours of demo today. Everybody who knows, knows that you always have to add at least an hour on after you call it quits for clean up duty and to put away the tools in their rightful homes, which make it there about as often as shopping carts get to their homes in the parking lot.

Bring out the big tools baby, because tomorrow, it’s on! As for tonight, my little wrist is tired from the repetitive hammering. Must.Save.Strength to lift my glass of wine. 🍷

Settling In

7 Feb

We unloaded the trailer with the remainder of our belongings, all 4 fur babies included, on January 19 and this house, our new home, is slowly becoming just that. These first few weeks have been a fuckery of hurdles! We are still sleeping/living/eating/sitting, all cozy and together, in the living room, trying to keep the back two rooms as empty as possible for their complete makeovers. Here’s a before picture to prove their worthiness of of said makeover. 


All those delicious looking water stains, well, we assumed dogs lacking frequent trips outside to relieve themselves, and dogs were a good assumption as there were many remnants of tennis balls in the fenced in backyard, it just made sense. Luckily for us the previous tenants removed the assumably prestigious looking carpet and as this is a no carpet household they just saved us a step. During the inspection Mr. Inspector simply states, “Looks like this was used as a grow house,” with little to no shock or surprise. Turns out that the water stains were just that. Overwater much our little amateur friends? Getting the ball rolling is the hardest part, just ask any aspiring gym-goer in January. For me, right now, it’s paint. I want color. Color that flows and compliments throughout so I sit, and I stare at the walls for minutes on end trying to envision something, (with what seems like every possible paint swatch The Home Depot had at my disposal) anything to cover up this disgusting sea green blotched bleh and these beat down white walls. I’m finding it more difficult than our last house because here the walls transcend over and into the kitchen, two long walls spanning the length from front door to back. Ahhhh!!

So, I regroup and pick our new laminate flooring first, to compliment the kitchen tile that is already in place, and then proceed to find paint(s) to flow throughout the house. Let’s work from the bottom up so at least now I have a focal point. Find the flooring, find the paint. I finally settled on colors, plural! And by that I mean the lady in the paint department made a WOW comment to James when he gave her my list, and now, finally, we can get started on those back 2 rooms. A nice thing about these 2 rooms, with their wonderfully exposed floors, no stress about paint dripping or covering of furniture needed. Stay messy my friends. πŸ˜‰ Day 1, room number 1, (our bedroom of course) heads under way. After a bit of work I hear, “Have you seen Lily?” Well, guess who managed to find a loose board in the backyard? Yep, with her shepherd nose and curious mind she just walked on out. Luckily she was standing on the other side, (I speak Lily so I know what she thought was,) “Oh shit, I’m not supposed to be here! I’ll just wait.” It has now been decided that the fence will take precedence and steal James away from me starting tomorrow. Commence painting for today and all 4 walls, ceiling and closet get their first coat so we call it just before dinner. 

The next morning I get a call with some family matters and need to leave town for a few days and, well, James has a fence to mend/build so painting gets put on the back burner. Those 4 days I was gone James was building the fence. He planned on just rebuilding the sections that needed it but the weather was great and I was gone so he did a little more. And then when he thought he was done, a rotted post! Argh! Fuck it, just finish the damn fence, and damn it he did. This last week since he’s finished the fence have all been less than favorable outside weather so, I’ll say it, thank you Lily for showing us the faults in our borders at the right time. I may speak her language but she doesn’t speak mine so she’ll never know she did right by leaving the premises. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ• Paint on! Well, we did it! One room down, rest of the house to go! A complete remodel is chock full of tiny victories, innumerable amounts of high fives, setbacks and many, oh so many, trips to the (in our case) Home Depot. I’m pretty sure we will all be close friends by the end of this venture, or at least them and our dogs.

 Piece by piece. Box by box. Wall by wall. And when you look at the piece, open the box and see the wall. Fuck. More. Seems never ending. And that is something I’d like to keep up.
Tonight, we sleep in this bedroom, finally.