Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If a picture says a thousand words...

Monday, May 30, 2011

It's been one week.

Tomorrow will mark one week of our house ownership. And guess what begins tomorrow?

Not that I'm excited or anything.

And in other news, the garden space is filling up quickly.

I've decided that the bulk of my garden space will be dedicated to beans and tomatoes. Beans are not my favorite but they're extremely versatile. Anything that I can can, freeze, or dry, and use in a chocolate cake (they make fantastic flourless chocolate cakes- seriously!) has my vote.

We have a renegade domestic rabbit running around our neighborhood. He was terrorizing our neighbor's beautiful rose beds today. We picked up a live animal trap, hopefully we can catch him before any of the raccoons, owls, or other natural predators do. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Ultimate DIY

My brother wins the prize for ultimate DIY project this weekend:

He built himself a foundry. For smelting aluminum. Why? Because he's going to use the aluminum to build himself a lathe.

And to think I was proud of assembling my cedar raised beds from a kit.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We have gardening substrate!

Day 5 of house ownership, and what beautiful weather to celebrate our new home in. We also had our first meal at Casa Crustante. No table? No chairs? No problem!

Mmm, bento!

We spent a good portion of our day filling up our garden beds. Check out this substrate. Isn't it rich and gorgeous??

I love the way it feels, it's such a great mix. We'll see how much the plants like it!

The not-so-great news is that our house has a prowler. I spent a good deal of time at the house yesterday, and as soon as I drove off (apparently seconds later...) someone pulled into our driveway and started snooping around the property... Which means they had been watching me and just waiting for me to leave. Our neighbor took down their info, and made sure nobody broke in. It does make me a bit nervous, though. At least we know about it now, and can be extra cautious during this renovation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Raised Beds & Mineral Oil

Today, in Casa Crustante Land it was a much needed lazy day.

I dismantled some of the boards to allow for a more streamlined 4'x16' bed. I also coated them with mineral oil. I absolutely love the look of mineral oil on cedar, and while I'm uncertain that it'll prolong the longevity of my boards, it is cheap enough and easy enough to give it a try.

Untreated board on top, mineral oil on bottom.

I'd like to get these up and filled by the end of the weekend. Fingers are crossed!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Universe.

This is a photograph of the entire visible universe from our planet.
37,440 exposures.
5,000 megapixels.

This photo was taken by Nick Risinger, a Seattle-area fellow.

Well done, sir. Well done.

Mazda2 Hauls Crap - Literally

I'm proud of my little Mazda2. Today it hauled 13 cubic feet of manure and compost, in one run. I think the blokes who loaded it for me were amused. "I haven't even seen one of these cars before! Are you sure you want to load it with this?" Yup!

And she did just fine! I brought home all sorts of goodies. 9 cubic feet of mixed compost (see below), 2 cubic feet of steer manure, and 2 cubic feet of chicken manure. I think my plants will appreciate the diversity!

You have to love something that contains bat guano! I'm going to have to remember that when I'm savoring my first tomatoes out of our garden. "Hmm, this is a fine, mortgage lifter tomato, with a hint of bat guano in the nose." Hah!

I also took some time to arrange my beds around the sun. I want maximum sun coverage for the limited space I have, and it doesn't chop up our front yard completely. And it's not completely an eyesore. I hope.

I pruned back our rhododendron, and spent some time pulling up the noxious english ivy that has, along with the blackberries, taken over 1/4 of the back yard. I love the look of ivy, but it's actually choking one of the trees, and since it is a non-indigenous intrusive plant, I'm going to do what I can to contain it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day II, House Ownership

Did we skip spring and summer? It's raining so hard it feels like September right now.

Plenty of work to be done all the same, like assembling my raised garden beds.

My heart broke that our battery operated screwdriver had a fit and died. Instead of making yet another trip today I simply nailed them, so we'll have to be extra careful when moving them around. They're pretty sturdy all the same, and they're now waiting patiently for me in our future kitchen and our living room.

I'm curious to know if they'll last for more than one season- they're made of cedar, but it feels more like balsa wood, it's so soft and spongy. At any rate, it was still a good deal, and rather perfect for us this year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Success!

I knew that I wanted raised garden beds, but I wasn't sure how I was going to get them. I'd build them myself, but my current selection of space and tools are lacking. I could build them in the condo, but transporting them to the house could be an issue. And the sawdust in a confined space is never fun.

So, I had resigned myself to finding some nearby (Craigslist has a decent assortment!), or building very basic ones this year and fancying them up next year.

After pulling up half a yard full of blackberries (90 gallons worth - seriously- land ownership is FUN, isn't it? My hands are shredded!) and calling up waste management, we found out that we needed large paper bags to toss out our yard waste. So we ran to Home Depot, picked up some bags, lustfully looked at BBQs, and discovered this in the process:
Simple, cute, relatively cheap. Greene's Cedar 4x4 Raised Bed: $34.97. Requires an electric drill and a screwdriver. I've already got one of those! Awesome!

So we chat with the clerk, tell him about how we just got the keys to our house today and we're looking forward to having a garden for the first time in ages. He picks up a notepad, jots down something quick and hands it to me. "Consider this a housewarming gift."


So we load up, pay for our loot (only spent $125 more than we anticipated... hah, whoops..), and proceed to head out. Forgetting in the process that we're driving Jinx, my teeny tiny Mazda2.

Turns out, that little car can fit more than we expected. We were able to fold the seats down and remove the trunk concealer. Plenty of room, even with the lawn gnome.

And thus, I can concern myself with more exciting things than the acquisition of my raised gardens.. like where on earth should I put my chicken coop?

We Own a House!

Our home funded today, and we are now officially owners of Casa Crustante. And as I promised my spouse, my first purchase was to be a gnome. So we jumped into our car and headed to Molbak's.
They must have the cutest gnome display ever. It's in a small half-shed, decorated sublimely, and it really adds to the joy of picking out such a purchase. And after much deliberation and struggling against my difficulty of committing to buying things (I faux-shop a LOT. If it's not directly essential, I am frustratingly indecisive on purchases), I picked out the one right smack in the middle of the display.

And now he's our official steward of the 1/5 of the acre that we shall call home.

I think his name shall be Gnorris. Chunk Gnorris.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feeling Fowl

Before we put in our offer, I scoured my new town's chicken policy. And yep, chickens (hens only!), are allowed. I had chickens and ducks growing up, so it's not a foreign concept to me. Nothing beats the early morning enthusiasm of chickens who are ready to be fed. They are such silly, joyful creatures. And to be honest, I wouldn't have considered that house had it been in an anti-chicken zone.

It certainly doesn't help that I've found a few of my new neighbors who are also chicken-friendly. I've been living vicariously through Sinfonian's blog, and I'm pretty much in love with his chicks.

And 30 minutes ago I discovered Pam at The Blue Between. Check out her coop below:

Photo from The Blue Between

This coop really seals the deal for me. I doubt I'll be able to get my ducks in a row for this year with the renovation and other projects going on.. but I can't help but daydream. Perhaps 2012 will be the Year of the Chicken for us!

Seattle Tilth is organizing a Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour on July 9th. I hate to say it, but I'm almost more excited about this event than I am for Maui.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hubs!

Husband is turning a whopping 26 years old today. We celebrated yesterday, and we celebrated like the world was going to end. And for my liver, the world nearly did.

Between the two of us, we have celebrated 13 birthdays. And I think this one might have been the most fun.

Happy birthday, Val!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Husband's Birthday Card

So. Yeah. I needed to make some form of invite for my husband's last minute decision to have a testosterone fueled get-together. Guns, cake, Jesus, and three majestic ghost wolves. Yup, I'm done here.

Hello, Future Garden.

It'll be four weeks tomorrow since I've planted seeds for our impending garden. Things are getting a little out of control. I've run out of room on our table in the dining area.

So far, everything has germinated with the exception of our round mauve eggplants from China.

So far, everyone looks pretty happy. I've had to be vigilant about watching for fungus, as weird pockets of it crop up every once in a while with the peat pots I'm using.

Once the roots bust out of the peat pots, I've peeled away the netting and placed them in a larger containers. So far, everyone seems pretty okay with that arrangement.

These guys are the latest ones to emerge - Feher Ozon Paprika. I was a bit concerned I'd have issues sprouting them, as they typically require warmer soils to germinate. Thankfully, so far so good.
I'm a bit concerned regarding our one squash, though. The one plant that has germinated had its primary leaves stuck in the seed. The leaves looks a bit withered and pathetic, but hopefully they'll dry out and start the growing process.

I've been amazed and grateful for the high germination rates for these plants. Both the cucumber and the pumpkins have had a 100% germination rate. Granted, my sample size is too small (4 each) to really be accurate, but I'm impressed all the same.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In our yard..

In OUR yard, we have Quinalt strawberries blooming.

Yes... I said "our yard."

And forgive me for freaking out, because this is the first time I've used that phrase in our nearly 7 year long relationship. And I've been yardless for nearly 10 years.

Our. Yard.

We closed on our house today. Our down payment has been made. The ink on our loan documents is dry.

All that is left to do is wait. We should have our keys Tuesday.

And then we shall BBQ. In Our Yard.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Waiting to Exhale.

We're still in limbo.

Documents are in escrow, still. We had to file an extension, we blew way past our closing date due to the fun lead based paint issues. I'm not always in the loop on everything, and that's been really frustrating. Once we put together the Dream Team, everyone has been communicating so well with one another that they've been leaving us out of the conversation.

In the grand scheme of things, it could be much worse. I know these transactions are complicated and messy and there's a lot of things to consider for the lender. We've been lucky, honestly. But I can tell this is taking a toll on us, and the sooner it closes, the better. We're anxious to get to the really harrowing part- renovation.

Oh, did you hear that Saturday, May 21 at 5pm, is Judgement Day? The husband's birthday is on Sunday. I guess I'll bake him his cake early.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Roll a D6.

This totally makes me want to play D&D again.

Damn, I'm so totally not ready to be turning 30.

"Put your shields up!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I don't normally like to write about bodily functions, but I figured that this was spectacular enough to warrant its own post.

Someone took a crap at Casa Crustante, which is dead bolted and locked up. The toilet had a seal on it, they broke it and used it.

Nobody knows who did it.

What we DO know is that it was so epic that the appraiser was unable to determine whether or not we have functional plumbing.

And the proof is photo-documented in our appraisal.

...I'm not sure what else to say.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baby plants!

My seeds from seedsavers.org arrived on Friday, and they were tucked into soil by the end of the evening. While some of my peers were off partying the night away, we were hunkered around our dining room table sorting through the seeds.

By Sunday, we had little bumps of green pushing through the soil. I have never ever had anything grow so fast.. I pulled out my seed packets and read through them- the majority of the plants shouldn't have germinated for another week!

Behold, my baby Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage. It even has a fuzzy little hula skirt! Welcome to the world, little cabbage!

Looks like these little buggers are just as eager as I am to get started on this gardening adventure. So far, I have cabbage, pumpkins, cucumbers, dahlias, moss rose, paprika peppers, and broccoli sprouts, all eager to get their lives started.

This little guy will hopefully be a dahlia. My late Great Aunt Pearl kept dahlias- she grew up to 250 varieties at one time- and I thought having them in the garden would be an nice way to celebrate her memory. I'm especially excited to see this one grow.

Perhaps she'll lend me 1/10 of the green thumb she had in her day. Miss you, my dear Great Aunt Pearl!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden.

"I've never wished a man dead, but I've read some obituaries with great pleasure."
-Mark Twain

I hope the victims of 9/11 find some peace tonight.

And I hope that we always remember that intolerance causes conflict.
Conflict causes destruction.
Destruction causes pain.

While we celebrate the end of a life that caused the end of so many others, we need to remember that intolerance is what started this mess to begin with. Remember Osama Bin Laden- Remember him for being the type of person you strive to never become.

Brilliant Marketing

We don't usually buy soft drinks (exceptions are made for road trips on occasion) - why spend your carbs and your money on something that isn't good beer? And the sugar free stuff? Forget about it, I'll order my cancer from somewhere else, thankyouverymuch.

I'm not immune to marketing, however. And if I were inclined to impulse shop, this store would have probably won my dollar.