Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Remember last week when I posted about our brand-new fence?  Well hurricane Irene apparently didn't like it and decided to drop a tree on it.  It could have been much worse -- the damage isn't too bad, no trees fell on the house (my biggest worry after the first tree fell around 10pm) and we didn't lose power for an extended period of time.  The loss of power would have been the worst because our sump pump is still running this afternoon and while the hand pump we bought as a backup worked fine, Andy and I couldn't have kept up with pumping water by hand all night.  The tree that fell wasn't even on our property.  It came from the property surrounding the water tower behind us and took out the water company fence too.  We heard it fall last night but weren't able to see what really happened until this morning. 

 We had a hard time figuring out what really happened becuase it looks like a tree split in half between the 2 fences.  The tree in the center of the picture is actually half of the tree that sheared off and stuck in the ground vertically.  It's a huge piece -- probably 20-30 feet tall and standing straight in the air. It was swaying in the wind.

And all of this after we spent Thursday night and Friday trying to board up the house at the shore and moving as much furniture to the second floor as possible because they were calling for significant flooding.

 All boarded up.

 Helping the neighbor take one of the boats out of the water.  

 Once we started moving furniture Kodak decided this was serious stuff and he should save himself first by hiding in the bathtub.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blue Be-Gone

We got rid of the blue (almost)!  I still have to paint the bilco doors to the basement, but at least the shutters and mailbox are looking better.

Andy took down all of the shutters about a little over a week ago and I scrubbed them all down with the powerwasher.  While I waited for them to dry I got out all of the paint supplies and setup an area in the driveway to do the painting.  As soon as the first round was dry it started to rain.  We made a quick dash into the garage with everything, but it still got wet.  After some additional drying time I was able to get the first coat on.  I used a Wagner paint sprayer and it was fantastic.  Very few drips, much faster than a brush, and definitely a better look.  I'm a sucker for some good Before and After shots.


We got rid of the blue storm door too.  We will replace it eventually, but for now we are fine without a storm door.

 Painting setup in the garage.

Second coat just about dry.  Please don't look too hard around the garage -- it's mess complete with miter saw, yoga mat (in case painting gets too stressful) and a few future projects like some light fixtures that we need to hang, drywall for the bathroom ceiling, and a small table to be refinished. 

And we couldn't have all newly painted shutters with a blue mailbox.  The mailbox is old and not in the best condition, but we figure it has a little bit of life left while we finish some other projects and find a good replacement.  I've decided that mailbox shopping is extremely boring (unless of course you are into a duck shaped mailbox or other crazy designs -- we are into the more boring standard mailbox shape). The screws that attach the mailbox to the post are rusted in place this thing was going to get painted exactly where it is.  I'm not about all the mailbox needing to match the shutters, so we went with some Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.  It was an easy $7 upgrade.

 After I removed the flag, but before a good scrubbing.  FYI I grew up with a mail slot in the door (no mailbox).  It was always fun to see if the dog could startle the mailman when he delivered the mail through the slot, but this red flag concept was foreign to me.  I love the dirt outline of the flag -- I didn't even notice until I was looking through the pictures.

 After a good scrubbing and a light sanding it was just about ready for some paint.

 Our neighbors probably think we have some weird obsession with old newspapers.  We put them down in our flower beds and tape them around our mailbox.  This was the third time in the past two weeks that I had to wave to neighbors while sorting newspapers in my front yard.

 After the first coat.

 The finished product.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Fence Installed

On Thursday and Friday of last week the new fence was installed.  On Thursday they laid out the locations and installed all of the posts.  They hit a lot of rock but they used an auger attachment on their mini skid steer that worked well.  All of the posts are set in concrete so they let everything sit overnight and came back on Friday to finish the fence.

 New gate location beside the garage.

 Side property line.

On Friday they spent a full day measuring and hanging the rails, installing the gates, and attaching the wire mesh.

 Exploring the perimeter.

 We had one new gate installed along the back property line.

 And a double gate on the other side of the house so that we have vehicle access if we ever need it.

 Kodak thought the fence was great until he discovered its true purpose!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flower bed -- Phase 1

A blog debut -- for the flowerbed and my parents who helped, layout, plan, grow plants, and install (yeah, that's just about everything).

Remember when the flower bed out front used to look something like this (with the pine tree on the left).

Then we removed the tree HERE and worked on the new flower bed and now it looks like THIS!

This is just the start of a much larger flower bed (I'm guessing 1/3 of the front yard) that will significantly reduce my lawn mowing time.

First we had to make several trips to Lowe's to buy pine bark nuggets.  They are more eco-friendly than traditional mulch and we won't need to reapply every year.  Plus, they look great!

Rocks, rocks, and more rocks!  This monster took several hours of digging and waiting for Andy's muscle power to get home.  If you look at the finished picture you will see it sitting in the bed.  We took several wheelbarrow loads of rocks back to the woods, but this one was staying put.

Some iris that need replanted and a sad looking hosta that a deer ate for dinner.

Once my parents planted the plants we got to work on putting down a layer of newspaper 6 sheets thick.  It will kill the grass and help keep the weeds out.

Then you wet the newspaper...

And lay the mulch.

Place the rock and apply some of the smelliest deer repellent known to man.  No joke, this stuff smells like a combination of something dead and vomit.  Really, really disgusting.  But we'll try anything to keep the deer away while the plants are young.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don't have to create another post showing how the deer ate everything. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fence prep

Later this week we are having a fence installed around the backyard.  In preparation we had to finalize the layout and remove a bush.

Andy finally let me pull out a shrub using my car (yippee).  I grew up using 4-wheel drive vehicles as landscaping tools.  A little work on the roots, a good chain and someone willing to drive (me!) is all you need.  This one was an easy test.  We probably could have dug it out by hand but then we wouldn't have had any fun.
Tie rope around bush (we didn't have any chain), tie rope to car frame. 
 Pull car forward until bush pops out.  I'm sure this is not an approved use of the Pilot, but it didn't mind.

Perfect! Bye-bye prickly bush!

We also laid out the fence and gate locations with some marker paint.  Andy wanted to make sure there are no questions about what we want.
 On another outdoor note, the deer have been back -- frequently.  I saw this branch fall out of the tree Sunday evening completely full of leave.  This is what it looked like Monday evening.  They will really eat anything!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miscellaneous updates

We continue to work on the house (I promise) but we took a few weeks off to plan and begin some larger projects that are all still underway and also enter in a little home improvement contest.  We hope to complete painting and replacing the shutters this week so stay tuned for more updates.

We entered our kitchen into The Worst Kitchen in America contest by the DIY and Food Networks.  We created a video (including rap written by Andy) to enter into the contest.  Unfortunately, Andy and I can barely stand to watch it (pure embarrassment) and I just don't have the nerve to post it here.  If you really want to see it you can find it on the DIY Network website.

Andy was able to install the faucet and part of the shower.  It's crazy to see water running out of a faucet in an otherwise unfinished bathroom, but at least we have running water (and no leaks!).  He began working on the wiring this weekend and discovered that we really needed to add a new circuit and rewire the existing bathroom so he had to take down the entire ceiling and feed new wiring from the basement.  It was a productive weekend.  I'll post some pictures ASAP.

The garden is also doing great -- lots of tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and beans.

The tomatoes that are yellow on top of the heirloom variety called Mr. Stripey.  They are delicious!