The days are getting longer and soon my toils will again live outside, but I did stay busy this winter. I came upon a small, grease-covered, table frame that had been outside, unused for five plus years. The previous owner allowed me to have it at no cost, so I decided to clean it up and make a side table out of it. I finally was able to get the grease off and then power sanded its surface to restore some of its raw metal shine but still leave the pitted texture. I then bought some insanely beautiful (expensive) rosewood for the top and with some specialty tools from my neighbor, was able to under-mount the two pieces. Finally, i applied two coats of polyurethane and this is how it turned out. Total cost - $67 (mostly the wood)
When we moved in, we were lucky to have the original carriage doors on the garage, we were unlucky that they were covered in three different shades of red. As a housewarming gift my dad gave me a heat gun to make the job easier. Be warned, stripping this much paint takes a lot of time and patience. Also, if its this old, assume that lead paint was used and wear a respirator. I used the heat gun to quickly warm the paint until you can easily scrape it off with a 5-in-1. Unfortunately you have to work on a small area at a time. Once I scrapped off most of the paint, I then used a chemical stripper to loosen up deeper paint. When you are happy with the paint removal, you will need to sand the entire surface to at least make the surface a bit more uniform. I could have probably sanded off every bit of paint and primer but I wanted to done with this project before my first born learns how to drive… through my newly finished garage doors. So, I installed the new piece of trim that covers the space in between each door, and stained them using a semi transparent deck stain by Cabot. I also applied a rustoleum product for the hinges.
The final product looks great. Once again, the original, old growth wood can be seen and our carriage doors have the character that we were hoping for.
Urban Gardening update: As most of you know, Claire and I really enjoy growing our own vegetables, so when we moved in we took over the sidewalk grass strip that luckily gets full sun nearly all day. Last year we built two 4’x8’ raised beds and had a pretty darn good year. This spring we decided to drop two more in, for a total of four raised beds and a tomato planter. This year I built a cloche for the two new beds to speed up my seeds and starts and it worked exceptionally well. We are way ahead from this time last year. Since the cloche worked so well, I am going to try and have one of the beds be a hot house (already hit 115 degrees) and grow veggies that normally need more heat to grow well, plants like peppers, eggplants, bush beans, and tomatoes. Since we have doubled the amount of planting space this year we are growing some new veggies to us. Currently growing: Snow peas, Pak Choi, Chard, assortment of lettuce, assort. of kale, brussel sprouts, beets, spinach, green onion, leeks, chinese cabbage, strawberries, kohlrabi, radish, parsnip, carrots, turnips, potatoes, fennel, tomatoes, banana peppers, sweet peppers, jalapeno, purple bush bean, yellow squash, zucchini, japanese cucumbers and eggplants.
All in all, the planters have been been a wonderful edition to overall feeling of home. We are utilizing a space that we would have never been able to use for ‘yard’ purposes and we are not filling up our yard with veggie gardens. During the spring, summer and fall we get a pretty substantial amount of food from them for just a little bit of work (initial set up is 70% of the work). But the unforeseen benefit of the planters has been their ability to connect us to our neighbors. Over half of all the people we have met in our neighborhood is due to the planters. People tell me that they alter their daily walk, bike ride, run, errands just to see how all the veggies are doing. I have had people knock on our door to ask questions about the various veggies and ask for tips and advice. So, if you have the space, and desire to grow some yummy veggies, I highly recommend it and let me know if you need any help. You do not need a green thumb, you will grow one.
Is anyone still out there? Been a while, huh? Anyways, we have done a ton of work in the yard(photo update shortly) and we are starting to think about a fence to help create a more intimate space in our garden. We still want light and air to pass through it so we do not feel as though we are in a box. The aesthetic of horizontal designs really work for what we want. I rode around the neighborhood this morning and found some prime examples of the result we are looking for.
It’s been a while since our last post. The house has been at a bit of a stand still as I continue my graphic design program and Ted begins his studies to become a firefighter. In the meantime, we have gotten engaged and adopted two kittens! Jackson and Pepper are 3 month old brother and sister. We took them out for their first snow experience today and they were surprisingly not traumatized by the experience. As you can see by the photos, I am officially a crazy cat lady.
Oooooh plants. This is the time of year if you need to buy a ton of plants. Most nursery’s are trying to get rid of all their inventory before winter really sets and this time of year is better for planting since are now getting consistent rainfall. We were able to get a ton small plants and shrubs and six trees. Now we just want these things to grow. They should look great as they fill in. The next step in the yard will probably be adding a patio area for our housemate side of the yard and adding large rocks to the landscape. Stay tuned, should have some cool projects this winter.
Gravel has been delivered and installed… long overdue. Preparation is a pain in the ass, but its well worth it. Your final product will work and look much better. Building a level structure around a patio area makes the gravel work faster and easier. I wont miss the questions from passersby, asking if I was building a stream down the yard.
Finally finished the driveway. We pulled up all the gravel and replaced half with sedums and the back half with 12” x 24” pavers. We were tired of tripping and chair legs suddenly dropping into chasms. We planted four different types of creeping thyme that will eventually fill all the gaps around the pavers. The reason behind planting four different types is to determine which type does the best in the conditions present. The great thing about creeping thyme is that it can handle heavy foot traffic, grows very densely and smells great when you walk on it. Cant wait until it totally fills in.
Finally built our patio table. Claire and I found an old door and knew it had to be our table. Its a very sturdy door faced with solid cedar. You can see the large hinge marks on the top face. I made the structure of the table out of rough-cut 2x4s. I made all the cuts with a japanese pull saw. It was surprisingly quick and simple construction and I am pretty happy with the outcome, especially since I had zero table-making experience. I sealed it with exterior wood oil since it will be outdoors year round. Cant wait to use it, watch out for splinters.
So, the first step was leveling a spot for a patio, had to do something with all the excavated soil, so I built a low wall out of cut up pieces of sidewalk. I had to rent a concrete saw with a diamond blade and it was still pretty slow going. But all said and done, this wall cost about $150 including the rental. Now I need to finish digging out the path so I can lay the french drain down the length of it.