Category Archives: Outdoors

Operation: Deck Flowers

Thanks to everyone who offered advice on types of flowers that deer won’t eat! We’re likely going to go with a combination of marigolds, iris (Dave’s cousin is giving us a bunch from her house!), and peonies for the front of the house. I hadn’t really considered peonies until we were visiting Dave’s grandma last week and she had a bunch of them in full bloom. I asked about them, and she said they do really well in our climate and the deer don’t eat them. Plus, they’re pretty gorgeous:

Peony

Breaking blogger protocol by posting a picture of a peony that’s not sticking out of a $2,000 handbag.

On Saturday, we decided to go ahead and get some color on our deck since we don’t have much of a critter problem back there. I got a little too excited about all the pretty options at the store, and wound up spending close to $200 on flowers, planters, and soil. WHOOPS. It’s definitely looking better out there, though!

Deck

It took us two years to do this, so our dream deck should be ready just in time for us to retire.

Now I feel a little better about inviting people over to hang out back here, which we did on Friday night after the Rangers/Lightning game. We bought a few sourdough loaves, some delicious cheeses, and all of the wine, and had ourselves a little wine and grilled cheese party. This is pretty much how I want to spend my Friday nights for the rest of the summer.

Wine

We’ll have to invite everyone back over next weekend, since there’s no way they remember what the deck looked like after all that wine.

Up next is finding a couple of bigger plants to put in the corners of the deck (a potted lemon tree could be cool!) and figuring out some better lighting. This will probably consist of a combination of string lights (I like these, to string up the tree in the middle of our deck) and a better wall light than the one we’ve got now. I think a Lowe’s trip will have to happen next weekend.

And in case you’re thinking that that doesn’t look like $200 worth of flowers, you are correct: some of the plants we bought on Saturday went out front, but I’m going to wait to post photos until we’ve made some more progress out there. Step 1 is for Dave to spray spider poison under the lip on the siding of the house, since he has seen multiple black widows out there this spring and my hands will not go anywhere near the side of the house until it’s been thoroughly coated in lethal chemicals. And even then, I’ll be dressed like this:

kigvAnyway, that’s our progress so far. I leave tonight for a work trip, so we’ll see if they’re alive when I come back Tuesday night!

Fake Spring/Back Yard Plans

Every year in late March we get a week of gorgeous, warm, sunny weather. Everyone on the block pulls out their lawnmowers, we start prepping the garden beds, and I break out the fake tanning lotion because LO, WE HAVE SURVIVED ANOTHER WINTER. And then we’re hit with another week or two of rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. Seriously, this happens every year. And every year I’m out there with all the other idiots during fake spring, rejoicing in the streets and buying $50 worth of flowers to plant, only to have them die two days later.

sarah-silverman

This year I only spent $30 on a hanging flower basket, so I guess I’m making progress? It actually hasn’t died yet, which is kind of amazing since I keep thinking I should move it into the garage to protect it from frost, and then I keep not moving it because … well I don’t know why. I was going to blame it on forgetfulness, but I can’t use that excuse since I’m typing about it RIGHT NOW and I could have moved it twice in the amount of time it’s taken me to write this paragraph. So I guess we’ll call it laziness.

tumblr_li48nat0LH1qcrhd0o1_500

Speaking of laziness, let me tell you about my plan for our back yard this year, which Dave will carry out while I drink fruity cocktails. Just kidding. (OR AM I?) First, here’s what it looks like now. Before you judge, know that what you’re about to see was essentially a big pile of dirt when we moved in:

img_4580

Beaver dam or pile of firewood that still needs to be chopped? YOU DECIDE.

We’d like to plant some sunflowers in that raised area behind the giant stack o’wood, which will hopefully be gone in the very near future. Believe it or not, there’s a little cement pad with a fire pit on it hiding behind all that wood, and I’d like to put a few chairs in that area for easy s’more making once the warmer weather hits. Mostly because I need to utilize my lap in order to assemble the perfect s’more without dropping it. (In case you’re wondering, the perfect s’more = honey grahams, a Reese’s cup, and a ‘mallow that’s been burnt beyond recognition.) Someday I’d like to find a way to put solar panels back here – it gets a ton of sunlight. However, the area I’m most excited about is the deck:

10 Deck 1

Hopefully the site of many future barbecues.

12 Deck 3

Note to self: power wash the house.

My parents moved to Hawaii last month, and they left behind their pretty patio furniture set for me to use. We’ve currently got an old table and some plastic chairs out there, which I’ve conveniently not included in the pictures, as the table is covered in six months’ worth of dirt and an old candle jar full of cigar butts. It’s very chic.

Anyway, once I pick up the new patio furniture, we’ll just need a few things to make the deck party ready. I’ve included my top picks in a graphic, mostly because Dave is watching hockey highlights and I needed a way to pass the time:

Deck essentials

Railing planters  |  Solar Twinkle Lights  |  Melamine Plates  |  Illume Citronella Candles  |  Beverage Tub  |  Outdoor Turtle Shell Speaker

For the record, when Dave saw that beverage tub, he rolled his eyes and was all, “we already have a cooler in the garage.” So that is how this project will go. Wish me luck.

House Progress

It’s been forever since I posted a house update. Actually, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged at all. It turns out, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to. (Actually there probably are; I just choose to devote too many of them to watching shows about serial killers on Netflix.) Anyway, since I have today off work, I decided to create a little house progress report. Dave and I agreed when we moved in that we should tackle the inside before attending to the outside. So far we’ve replaced all the flooring (and portions of the subflooring/drywall in the kitchen where the dishwasher had leaked), painted the walls, fixed several plumbing issues, and built a little indoor bar area. It looks a bit different in here these days: Before and After

Dining Area

Our last major project inside is the kitchen – we bought a really pretty glass mosaic tile backsplash to install, and we will also paint the cabinets white and replace the counters with something dark.

Backsplash

This tile is so pretty I just want to stand around taking derpface selfies with it all day long.

We originally planned to do the kitchen last fall, but then I got a new job and a new car and the holidays happened, so it got put on the back burner. But now the kitchen is officially back on the front burner, and we are also ready to begin adding some curb appeal. We hope that one day we can stop avoiding eye contact with our neighbors, who all seem to have meticulously-kept lawns. If you’ll recall, the front yard when we moved in was less than ideal:

1 Exterior

Worst yard on the block? Very yes. Worst yard in the world? Possibly.

That was in August of 2013. Here’s what it looks like now. It’s not spectacular, but I think we can agree that things are moving in a better, greener direction:

Spring 2015

If you drink two beers and squint, it almost looks great.

Our original plan was to lay sod in the front yard, but thanks to the drought California is experiencing and the subsequent water rationing imposed by our city, we are only allowed to water the lawn three days a week. Sod is clearly not going to happen, since you have to water it twice a day for the first few weeks after you put it in. Instead, we’ve just been sprinkling grass seed and hoping for the best. It may not be lush, but it’s better than the scorched, brown “before” shot.

You may have also noticed that we removed the dead rhododendrons along the front of the house. It only took a year and a half of walking by them every single day for us to take on that task. At this rate we’ll finish our landscaping in about 2060, so we’re trying to pick up the pace. Other curb appeal projects on the horizon include:

– Adding flower boxes under the front windows
– Edging the lawn with river rock
– Planting flowers along the front of the house
– Begging Dave’s grandpa to help us construct a front porch in that area to the left of the sidewalk leading up to the front door
– Applying stone veneer to the exposed foundation (like this)
– Getting a screen door that doesn’t look like it was ripped off a life-size gingerbread house

Eventually I’d love to paint the exterior a different color, but unless I receive a mysterious inheritance, that will be put off for a few years. We’ve also got some plans to make the backyard more barbecue-friendly for the summer, but that project deserves its own post. Hopefully it won’t take until my next work holiday to write it!

Bambi Got Lucky

So, I almost hit a deer yesterday morning on my way to work. FUN RURAL LIVING FACT: it’s usually better to hit the stupid deer than to swerve, so I closed my eyes (much smart! very safety!), braked as much as I could without locking up, and managed to stop mere inches from its derpy little deer face looking at me like, “What is even happening right now?”

It was not unlike this.

It was not unlike this.

As I careened toward the little guy, the only thought going through my head was, “NOOOO NOT MY PRETTY NEW CAR!” I’m sure there are a number of more appropriate thoughts I could have been having. Like maybe, “Please don’t let it come through the windshield and break my face,” or, “I really don’t want to kill a cute furry animal today.”

Whatever, I’m shallow.

I’m pretty lucky that I’ve lived in the country for seven years now and haven’t hit any large animals, although plenty of squirrels, birds, skunks, raccoons, and even a rogue hedgehog have all made the fatal mistake of running in front of my tires. One time, I was doing about 80 mph on the freeway when a bird hit my roof rack, ricocheted off at lightning speed, and cracked the windshield of the car behind me. Apparently I am a monster, because instead of feeling bad for the little dude I was like, “Hey! Real-life Angry Birds!”

In other news, I’ve managed to wrap all of my gifts except for one, which is slowly making its way over from Poland. If it doesn’t get here before the 24th as promised, I’m going to have to look up some nasty Polish words to leave on a certain Etsy shop’s comment section.

Also, if you receive a gift from me that looks like it was wrapped by Edward Scissorhands, this is why:

Are you done wrapping your gifts yet?

High Five for Friday

Greenhorn

1. Eating lunch outside during that glorious one-month period of the year where it’s in between “pleasantly warm” and “I can actually feel my eyeballs sweating.”

Fried in maple sausage grease. Because duh.

Fried in maple sausage grease. Because duh.

2. My friend is hooking me up with fresh eggs from her chickens and they are SO GOOD. We’d like to get some hens eventually (we can have up to five within city limits), but we need to figure out our backyard plans first.

Bread Pudding

3. This bread pudding from Porter’s. I had them package half of it up to take home with me, and then I ate it out of the box the second we got home. #suchrestraint #muchclass

Spaghetti squash

4.  I didn’t feel like making dinner one night, so I heated up some leftover spaghetti squash and topped it with avocado basil sauce. Just combine a large avocado with 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4-5 fresh basil leaves, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Via Instagram

Via Instagram

5. Dave and I went wine tasting in Southern Oregon with a group of acquaintances last weekend. A few thoughts: 1) Turns out, I really like Bordeaux-style wines. 2) Southern Oregon is so pretty, and we should all live there. 3) Pretentious people are really fun to watch, and I WILL mock you on my blog, should you decide to brag about your palate being able to discern what kind of soil the grapes were grown in.

What were your highs this week?

Hiking Black Butte

I know, I know, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged. But I’ve had some really important things going on in my life. Things like binge-watching Anne of Green Gables because I suddenly remembered I have it on DVD. It’s been kind of funny watching this as an adult – I used to identify most with Anne, on account of the red hair and propensity to say the worst possible thing in any given social situation. Now that I’m almost 30, it’s totally apparent that Marilla, HBIC and Giver of Epic Side Eye, is my true spirit animal.

Marilla Cuthbert

That fetching hat isn’t the only thing throwing some serious shade.

I also went on a hike this weekend, which is something I really need to do more often on account of LOOK AT WHERE I LIVE:

Hike 4

I did not hike this.

That’s Mt. Shasta up there, and what we hiked is called Black Butte – it’s basically a giant dome of lava that formed when Mt. Shasta erupted a long time ago. I try not to think too much about the fact that we live at the base of a big-ass volcano, since the bulk of my volcanic knowledge has been gleaned from Dante’s Peak and that did not end well for a lot of people.

lava-s-not-really-that-hot-photo-u1

Dante’s Peak Survival Tip: Lava is hot, but not too hot to drive your car over.

Anyway, the Black Butte hike is a little over 5 miles round trip, and even though it looks like it would be really steep, it isn’t super strenuous. There is a lot of rubble/loose rocks though, from when a lookout tower on top of the dome crumbled and caused a giant rock slide.

Hike 1

Rock slides: Something else I tried not to think about while we were hiking up a pile of loose rubble.

The elevation at the top is 6,334 feet, and the view is pretty incredible:

Hike 3Hike 2Hike 5On the way down I started thinking about how it might be kind of cool to try climbing Mt. Shasta this summer, but then I got home and watched a K2 documentary on Netflix where basically everyone died a horrible death and/or lost all their toes to frostbite and decided that maybe I will give it some more thought.

01_IMG_0918M-629x1024

Source    I wear at least this much gear to go to the grocery store in December.

Seriously, though: If you’re ever in Northern California, this hike is worth doing. Just make sure to wear sunscreen, as most of the trail is above the tree line. You can find more info here.