April 21, 2012

Rock Breakin'

You guys, I love Craigslist. Where else would you find a giant pile of the exact bricks we need for the back yard totally free and only fifteen minutes away? Awesome. The only catch was that they had been cemented into place and so had the cement still caked onto them. No problem, I thought - I've got a masonry chisel, so I should be all set, right? Well, yes, but definitely with some back pain for my troubles. My progress so far:



The area we want to fill in is basically that whole section with the hostas that are growing outside the demarcated flower bed (we're just going to dig them up and move them over a couple of feet). The ultimate hope is that by doing all of this we will make enough space to get an inflatable pool again this summer!

April 20, 2012

Front Door Greens

I now present to you the totally overhauled and re-greened front of our house! Ta-da:



The window boxes have been planted with alternating English Ivy and Creeping Jenny plants, which will hopefully do their vine thing and start to hang down over the box edges soon, and the bottom flower bed is where we moved that grassy plant from the back yard, which I have recently figured out is liriope. The low profile of each is totally intentional, since it blocks the least amount of light. Here is a closeup view for your better enjoyment:



Curious to know what it looked like before? Me too. I sort of don't remember, and of course I totally failed to take a picture... but here is what I've managed to cobble together from the shots the appraisers and the realtor took. Basically, half-dead bushes in the bottom bed, and prickly and overly tall arrangements in the boxes. Terrible choices all around, since they blocked light on the darker side of the house!



April 18, 2012

The Mystery is Revealed

Remember when I posted this mysterious clamp-ridden photo? Well, the clamps have come off and now it's time to reveal what it is I've made. Ta-da! A floor mirror for our bedroom, using one of the large unframed beveled mirrors that the previous owners left in the house:



It will serve to cover the wall that currently has a giant access panel cut-out as its main decorative element. This seems better.



I built the frame out of plywood and maple, with thin slivers of aluminum in the places where the maple beams connect for a little bling. It's rather heavy, but I would ideally like to hang it on the wall. I haven't yet checked whether any of the studs are suitably located. We'll see!


April 16, 2012

We've been working in the back yard

Well, maybe not all the live-long day, but certainly enough that I now realize exactly why serious gardeners have those knee cushions. The main section we've been dealing with is a huge row of... um... a long dark grass-like plant... that we transplanted to the small flower bed in the front of our house. It was always odd in the back yard, and now it's prettying up an area that used to house three dead bushes. Win-win. However, that meant that we needed to brick in the now empty spot where those grass things used to be, which was a half-fun half-backbreaking project. Fortunately I had a couple of dedicated helpers:



We also decided to add some ground cover to that spot, picking Irish Moss after an extensive research into which type of plant we would have to maintain the least. Here is how it looks now (pretty much all the bricks in this picture are new):



Meanwhile, on other other side of the garden, greater access to the sun has meant a riot of life. Watching all these things emerge from the ground in the last two weeks has been amazing. Well done, whoever created this flower bed!



Here are some flower closeups. Bonus points to anyone who can identify anything in these pictures. I only know the hostas.



April 15, 2012

Little Delectables



I was recently at somewhat of a loss about what to contribute to the snack offerings at book club, when a random thought led me to make these Romaine roll-ups. I highly recommend! Tear lettuce leaves into 4"-ish pieces, then add:

- a piece of cheese (I think a softer texture works better, but then again, that's just the kind of cheese I happen to like)
- marinated mushroom (I threw in the ones from Trader Joe's, but I'm sure homemade ones would even more scrumptious)
- sauteed tomatoes and onions from this recipe

Roll it all up and secure with a toothpick. Yum!

April 13, 2012

Whew! Back from Vacation!

Just overlooking Cliff House in San Francisco is Sutro Heights Park. It used to be a huge estate, but now the only structure that remains is a promontory which tempts all climbers with its stepped wall. Like most other travelers, we totally succumbed:



Then again, we tend to climb on anything that lets us. How cool are these tree stumps? I'm a little obsessed now with setting something like this up in our back yard... Not sure where to wrangle up a bunch of chopped up tree circles though.



I love how this picture looks like we're about to go into Red Riding Hood's forest or something. How ominous is that dark space under that giant tree?





And of course we stopped by Muir Woods to see how the redwoods were getting on. Still very tall, I'm happy to report.





The most amazing this in the woods this time? A giant, slowly crawling snail that was fascinating enough to stare at for maybe forty-five minutes. It was monstrous, bigger than a dollar coin. Among those who chose not to watch it grossly crawl around? That's right, yours truly isn't really a snail person.



We were in Napa and so got to really capitalize on the one brief window of sunshine by hanging out in the back of a really pretty Italianate olive-press-cum-vinyard... wish I could remember the name. It was really a perfect little half hour.