Tuesday, July 29

spuds

I've been growing potatoes for a few years now, but this year was my best harvest yet. For starters, no critters found my potato patch. Secondly, I managed to not damage any potatoes in the harvest.

The sad thing is that it's almost August already. Between pulling my garlic the other week, harvesting the onions last week, and the potatoes today, my garden is definitely on its way out. On the plus side, I noticed that one of the tomatoes was starting to turn so that will be the start of tomato season.

garden pond: step 6 (completed)

Here's a pic of the completed pond. I finished laying the rock along the stream last night. The stream part turned out ok, but it wasn't exactly what I hoped for. I think the looks of it will improve quite a bit once the landscaping is done.

Up next: fish!

Sunday, July 27

pond update

We haven't made much progress with the pond lately, but that's about to change tomorrow. We ran out of fieldstone, so we were pretty much at a standstill. But, Brian went to his parent's today and got some more rocks for me (they are replacing a fieldstone path with pavers), so now I'm ready to go. Hopefully, I'll have time to finish the stream area tomorrow night.

We have done a few things here and there--I planted a couple of yucca plants over the weekend. We picked up some submersible lighting and installed that yesterday evening. Brian drained the pond the other night and cleaned it out...

I still need to grab a few hosta plants from the office (they're growing around the garage that we will be tearing down soon). I need to grab a few plants from the nursery as well. And I need for Brian to strategically place some rocks on the hillside. After the plants and rocks, I'll be able to mulch (this time, we'll be buying it by the truckload--I plan on mulching the entire side of the yard from the dog area to the property line in the back yard). Oh, and we need to get some fish, too, but I'm going to wait till the middle/end of the week since we just refilled the pond over the weekend. So, I guess there's still lots to do, but there is definitely a light at the end of this tunnel.

the office

I haven't had an office update in a while, so no better time than the present, eh? The office has been functional for quite a while. There are a few little things to tie up, but the two major items that remain are the bathroom and kitchen. We started on the bathroom last weekend. I was all set to remove the ugly tile from the walls only to find out it wasn't tile at all--it was plastic made to look like tile and was set in a thick layer of mastic. This proved all but impossible to get off the wall, so we're just going to glue some paneling over it and call it done. The only issue was the shower because the "tile" comes up higher in that area. So, Brian and Jake spent all of yesterday morning removing the tile from that area. While they were doing that, I painted the foyer.

I think the bathroom project is going to come together quickly (at least that's what I keep saying). We ran over there for a few minutes this evening so I could patch the shower area. This is going to take a few coats of joint compound for sure. At least it doesn't take long to do. I'm hoping to have the room ready by next weekend so we can paint the remaining walls and ceiling.

Friday, July 25

pickles

What do you do when you have too many cucumbers? You make pickles!

I tried this recipe last summer and really liked it, so I made it again today (only I tripled it this time). I used onions and peppers (hot wax, because that's what I had) from my garden, too. I just picked the onions yesterday. They were really nice this year--I must have gotten them in early enough.

I guess you could say that we have enough pickles for a while. I found that these keep well beyond the 6 weeks specified in the recipe, so I may end up making some more before the end of the summer.

garden pond: step 7

Drain the pond.

The dirt from all of the rocks proved to be too much for the pond. This step was not unexpected. So, Brian drained the pond this evening and then removed all of the muck with the shop vac. The pond has been refilled, so once the chlorine dissipates in a few days, I'll be able to get some fish for it! I just hope the chlorine doesn't kill the plants...

Monday, July 21

garden pond: step 6ish

I guess we should have taken multiple photos of this next step. It really didn't take that long to do, though. Over the weekend, Brian graded the dirt on the hill and then dug out a small stream. This evening, he dug out some shelves in it for the large stones, we lined the stream with sand and the pond liner, and then put the large stones and some smaller river stones on the liner.

The stream and waterfall are currently in working order. I still have to trim around the edges of the stream, but other than that, it's done.

Oh yeah, I bought some plants for the pond, too (last week). It seemed like a lot of plants when I was buying them, but once I put them in the pond, I realized that I only had about the 1/4 of the amount I needed. Seeing that summer is already half over, I'm not going to buy any more till next year--most of the ones I bought, you need to buy each year, anyway, so no sense in wasting any more money this year.

all grown up

We haven't had a Buster update in a while. He's not so little anymore (he's the one on the right--with the spiked collar). He has deservedly earned the nickname "Buster Maniac". While he has definitely settled down some since puppyhood, he is still a lot to deal with.

His main problem is barking--he suffers acutely from separation anxiety. We finally resorted to buying a bark collar a few weeks ago and the damned thing is not working anymore (I think he might have worn it out). He was doing pretty well with it, as we found out this evening. I've been putting the collar on him in the evenings and taking him outside while gardening or working on the pond. Tonight it was totally not working. It looked like it was working, but it wasn't doling out any corrections. I had to bring him in the house because he just would not stop barking.

On the plus side, he sleeps a lot more these days and doesn't have many accidents in the house (99% of them occur when we're not home and he is confined).

Friday, July 18

we're all in this together

This was a collection of stories from Stephen King's other son, Owen. Unlike Joe Hill's book, I did not enjoy this one. The summaries of the stories sounded promising enough, but in reality they seemed more like a college exercise (or maybe something you'd be forced to read in college). So, while I'm eagerly awaiting Joe Hill's next novel, I'm not planning on reading any more Owen King.

Thursday, July 17

step 5: done

Here's the picture I've been promising--the pond with a bunch of rocks around it. It took a little while to get to this point, but I'm still pleased with the progress I have been making.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but I got the plans for the pond from Popular Mechanics. I like to think I'm doing it my way. The plans were definitely a good guide, though.

I finished this phase this evening by putting a bunch of river rock in the crevices and around the edges. Here's the photo:

I like the looks of it. I put the landscape fabric down the other day. The pond will be surrounded by mulch eventually (once I get the hillside landscaped).

Up this weeked: the waterfall.

Wednesday, July 16

indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull

That's a mouthful. Brian thought it should have been called Indiana Jones: Frickin' Ridonkulous. There were a number of unbelievable things happening in the movie, but it didn't really take away from what it was supposed to be: entertainment. While nothing is ever as good as the original, this made for a good night of entertainment (and supper!) at the Westwood Plaza Theatre (I'm going to miss that place if/when they sell it). Nonstop action, just like you'd expect in an Indian Jones movie.

Jake enjoyed the movie and that was the point of the evening. We don't actually go to the movies very often, so tonight was a special treat for him.

Tuesday, July 15

steps 4 and 5

I guess this could have been just about any step in the process, but Brian and his dad installed my outside outlet tonight (for the pond pump). As a bonus, an extra outlet was installed, so that's cool. We didn't have any outlets in the back, so this is a good thing.

I worked on putting more rocks around the coping shelf of the pond. I'm pretty much done because I'm about out of rocks. Well, I'm about out of rocks that could be used for this particular phase. I have some nice, big rocks I'm going to put on the hillside and in a few other locations. I also have some large flat ones that I'm going to use for the stream (yes, I'm expanding the project already and installing a stream). I should have a picture soon--I still need to fill in the empty spaces with the river rock. I'd like to have that done before the weekend so that I can spend the weekend landscaping the hillside and designing the stream.

Sunday, July 13

first harvest

Yesterday for supper, we enjoyed some vegetables and dip. I picked scallions, a cucumber, broccoli, and sugar snap peas from the garden. This was my first harvest of the year. The cucumbers are looking good--there are quite a few of them that should be ready soon. I'll have more broccoli soon, too. I saw some small zucchini out there, so it's just a matter of time for them. And, I have a lot of small green tomatoes growing--I can't wait for the first ones of those!

step 3 con't

Here's the pond with some water in it (and with the liner trimmed somewhat). Brian took the photo yesterday before we started adding stones to the pond. We're basically putting stones around the top shelf and creating a waterfall at the upper end (the left in this particular picture). We did a good bit of that this weekend, but I won't be posting any photos until that phase is done.

Unfortunately, even though we rinsed the stones before adding them, it made the water pretty murky, so we'll need to drain the pond, clean it out, and fill it again before the final steps--adding plants and fish. I read that this was going to be the case, so I'm not surprised.

I plan to do more work on it this week, but I need Brian's help with the heavy stones so the next step might not be completed till next weekend.

Saturday, July 12

napa valley wine party

Brian's parents hosted a wine party last night. It was a fun event--I just love wine parties! We got to try a couple of whites, a couple of reds, and a Greek dessert wine (don't ask). And, we had a bunch of great food.

One thing I will say about Napa Valley wines--I think they're overpriced. However, one of my favorite wines from that region is Beringer Founder's Estate Merlot, so that's what we took to the party. Guess what wine was everyone's favorite? And, it only costs $12. How can you beat it?

It put me in the mood to host another wine party here, but that's going to have to wait until things settle down (that is, until the office remodeling project is completed and my garden pond is completely done).

Tuesday, July 8

pond

The "Great Garden Pond Project of 2008" is underway and chronicled on my garden blog.

garden pond: steps 2 & 3

Brian finished digging out the pond last night. It looks pretty cool already. I stopped at Westwood Garden Haven on my way home from work this afternoon and picked up pond supplies--namely a liner, pump, filter, and a couple of bags of river rock.

Before installing the liner, we had to put a layer of sand on all of the flat surfaces. Then, we covered all surfaces with some old carpeting (thanks to the office renovations, there's no shortage of that). Brian handled cutting the carpeting, so that went pretty quickly. I thought it was going to take a lot longer. The next step was to lay the liner in the pond and fill it up.

I couldn't be more happy with the progress we're making. The next step will be to work on the waterfall. I'll probably wait for the weekend for that. It will involve a lot of heavy lifting (rocks) and some engineering as well--I'm totally winging it. So, I want to wait and work on it when I actually have a few hours to spare.

Sunday, July 6

garden pond: step 1

On Friday, we stared the garden pond project. The first step was to lay out the perimeter. We went with a kidney shape and the pond is approximately 8x10. Originally we were thinking 6x8, but that proved to be too small.

Brian made a lot of progress digging the area out over the course of the weekend, but we found out today that the pond is not quite level, so he has some more work to do tomorrow. Unfortunately for him, his line level was at the office and we didn't get it until today, otherwise he'd be done digging by now. But, it really shouldn't take that long to finish the digging. I'm hoping to have this project wrapped up by the end of the month. We have enough other stuff going on so I don't want to drag it out forever. The landscaping on the hillside might take a little longer--I'm not quite sure if I'm going to do all of it this year or finish it up next year (I'm going to play that by ear), but I fully expect the pond to be stocked with fish and plants within the next few weeks.

Saturday, July 5

30 days of night

This movie was a real snoozer. The premise sounded promising enough--a group of vampires descends upon an Alaskan village that is just about to enter a period of 30 days without sunlight. You would think someone could make a good movie out of this. However, the characters in the film were unlikeable (well, not so much unlikeable, but you just don't get invested in them). And the vampires were about as boring as vampires can get--nothing but sucking blood. The movie wasn't all that suspenseful, either. And, it was too long.

The only high point was Ben Foster's character. I didn't really like him on Six Feet Under (his character was really annoying, but I guess he played it well). He was really creepy in this movie. I've seen him in a few other things recently and have come to the conclusion that the guy is a really good actor.

I'm going to have to start paying more attention to movie reviews so I don't get stuck watching more crap like this.

Thursday, July 3

more wine!

I made another batch of wine the other night. This time, it was Italian Brunello. I don't know what that is exactly, but I'm sure it will be good. And, I also ordered the Chocolate Raspberry Port kit that I mentioned previously. Whenever that one comes in, I'll make the other kit that I have and I'll be set. The wine racks are looking pretty bare at the moment.