Pergola Part I

As much as I love our house and our yard, one of the big issues we have, and never addressed, is that our patio is unusable much of the summer. The back of our house is bland and there is no cover. What there is, is direct sun all afternoon and evening. IT. IS. HOT!!!!! We’ve had a patio set with an umbrella for 20 years but even tilting the umbrella doesn’t help, it just throws the shade 5 feet away.

For a while, hubby was researching designs and lumber options and the plan was to create and build it on our own. Each year it didn’t get done and didn’t get done, and so on. In order to facilitate this actually happening, we did something unplanned and bought a pre-cut pergola that just needs to be put together.

Three very large boxes of pergola pieces have been in the garage for about 4 months now.

Hubby spent a good bit of time before building the new stecks (yes, that is the correct word), measuring to make certain they would allow room to enter/exit the pergola. If you look at the picture above, you will see there is a bench seat on one side and a high table across the other. We definitely wanted to be able to access the interior without having to go into the yard first.

Hubby had unloaded one of the boxes a few weeks ago, and now, I’ve finished unloading (and inventorying) the other two.

Now, let’s hope the putting it together (and the Pergola Part II post) happens soon!

Entering Summer ’17

As we transition from spring into summer, there are some new flowers and colors and growth to admire.

Just when we were breathing a sigh of relief that the strawberries and cherries were petering out, the black raspberries started to ripen.

Echinacea, pink and white, is adding to the perennial bed beauty.

The larkspur is creating a flower jungle. My plan is to try and keep on top of the seed pods as we definitely don’t need it spreading farther than it already has…we’ll see how that goes.

Fargo is helpful as always while we work outside. In this case, he thought my pile of branches needed a little unpiling.

The veggies are coming along. I dealt with some aphids on the tomatoes. Something is eating bean leaves, but the plants seem to be hanging on overall. Cucumber and squash plants are having trouble getting past germination. We’re not sure if it’s a seed fail or if something is eating them as soon as they pop.

A quick brag picture because hubby was really rockin the crusts towards the end of pie week. Woven lattice tops for the win!

Feel free to follow me on instagram. Some pictures are repeats in the blog, but not all.

Berry-Cherry-Palooza!!

This has been my life the past two weeks!

Resulting in 24 jars of

4 Quart bags of frozen strawberries and multiple

Hubby’s first go at homemade crust was a home run

Meanwhile, first big year for this guy

I spent many hours pitting (which is a pretty good excuse to watch Netflix/TV)

So we could have

Between strawberry and sour cherry, I think we ended up with 6 pies. I froze 4 cups of cherries, and there are more staring me in the face right now. Also…I noticed some black raspberries ripening…

Panzanella, Potatoes and (a) Porch Step

It was a busy week, but there is some fun stuff to share. We took the new grill on its maiden voyage, moving it from the garage to the patio and then testing it out.

In case anyone is wondering, far left is for searing, next is a gas grill, next is a charcoal grill, and last is a smoker. This is one large monster of a grill. Happy birthday/early Father’s Day to the hubster.

We used the grill to cook ingredients to try a Smitten Kitchen recipe, Grilled Pepper and Torn Mozzarella Panzanella. I mostly followed the recipe, though I used balsamic vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, I didn’t peel off the pepper skins, and I added a few kalamata olive pieces. We put our finished product on a bed of lettuce and let me tell you, it was so good that there were NO leftovers. A friend mentioned that she had never made panzanella (which beat me because I had never heard of it) because she thought the bread would be soggy. This bread was not at all soggy after being grilled. I predict this will be a summer staple.

As for potatoes, a quick check in on the sweet potato slips that, so far, look pretty good.

Other than replacing two tomato plants, we always keep a few extra til we’re sure, the rest of the garden seems to be hanging in as well.

The patio step project is on the list because both of the steps leading from the back of our house are rotting. Here is a picture of the right side step.

Here is the left side, pulled away from the house. Gross. We don’t even use that step and the wood is disintegrating at the meeting point.

So, hubby spent a good bit of time designing new steps, keeping in mind the pergola that is going up (SOON I HOPE!!!). The original design had two steps on each side, one step on the same level as the house. After building the bottom step, we are going to wait a while and see if we think we need two, as we like the way one looks. I do think, however, that we might have made it a board width smaller if we anticipated only doing a single step. It’s a large step.

Maybe we should call it a steck? It’s almost a combination of a step and a deck. Bottom line though, it’s a vast improvement over what was there and hubby did a pretty great job.

May (2017) Reflections

How is it the last day of May already? This month was a whirlwind, for sure. I feel grateful that we were able to travel to graduation and that the kiddos were able to spend a week with us here. I have truly marveled at the beauty of Spring every day (as well as at the number of grey days this month).

You can see how much the front bed has filled in!

My Hobby Adventures this month have been limited to current pursuits (garden, baking, yard, Fargo The Terrible, blogging) vs trying new things, but that’s fine. The veggie garden is planted and mulched.

Planters and hanging baskets are done, with the flowers we picked out as a family. I am anxious to see how they all fill out over the summer months, assuming Fargo doesn’t pull off all of the flowers when I’m not looking.

Strawberries are ripening and, though it’s early yet, I’m hopeful we may have enough for some jam.

And there’s so much more. Upcoming will be a post about our step project, and hopefully one or two about the pergola project (hopefully, because I’m hoping we’ll get to it), and of course, more Fargo picture posts.

 

Fargo The Perennial

It’s quite amazing that every year I can still be in awe of the amount of weeds in our perennial beds, and how the grass encroaches so quickly. We work so very hard to grow our veggies, but the weeds don’t seem to need any help to flourish. This spring was no different than previous in terms of the hours and hours and hours we (mostly me) spent weeding and pulling grass.

Here is a picture from the day we really went to town (dogwood blossom photo bomb in the top left corner).

This pathway is a bugger to keep clear. It’s not just the weeds and grass, it’s also the bee balm and the black eyed susans, etc. that want to spread between the stones.

It started to feel like we were making some progress, though the opportunity to weed NEVER really ends. I’m not sure Fargo agreed with this assessment.

In one area, the grass was so prolific that we decided the better option would be to just dig it out and start over. I need to research a native perennial or two to add into the open spot, but in the meantime, Fargo The Perennial will keep it warm.

In the few weeks since I took these pictures, the perennials have exploded in growth. I’ll share a few recent pictures in the next post.

Saying Goodbye Still Stinks!

Had such a wonderful few weeks. As always, we loved having the kiddos home and the week went by WAY TOO FAST. They left yesterday. I gave myself the day to be sad and for my heart to hurt.

I looked back at a few pictures from the week. This one, while watching Moana together (which we loved), isn’t great quality, but it makes me smile.

I was productive through the tears yesterday. I did some cleaning and planted the cabbage and broccoli in the garden. I had some help over the weekend to get the tomatoes and peppers in. We usually wait until at least Memorial Day to plant, but the tomatoes were out of control tall and spindly. Hoping the forecast is right and there are no surprise frosts.

Hoping to get my brain, and my body, back in gear this week.

Very Scary Storm

It’s been another crazy week, which started out with a WHOPPER of a storm on Monday. I had been watching the radar and I knew we were under a Tornado Watch. I usually fill up pots with water (no power=no water), but I was too focused on watching the radar to think of it.

Fargo and I were in the house when it hit and we were both freaked out by the horizontal rain and unbelievable winds. The power went out almost immediately. Luckily there was enough daylight for me to quick grab the candles and matches. Just when I thought it was a situation where we needed to be in the basement, the wind started to slow down.

It was very loud between the wind and the rain/hail, so I apparently missed the fact that a tree came down across the street in front of the house. I found this out when a young woman showed up at my door because her car was trapped between the tree out front and another downed tree in front of our neighbors’ house. Fargo was quite happy to have a visitor, but my heart and adrenaline were on overdrive after the scare of the storm and a stranger at the door. She was very nice and pretty freaked out herself. I’m glad she thought to pull into the drive and knock.

We noticed the police down the road trying to get that tree moved, so the young lady decided to leave. She ended up helping some other people moving the tree in front of our house so they could get by.

If I look for the up side of this tree lying on the ground, I guess we have a better view into the field.

Turns out, there were many more trees down and many utility poles. There was a confirmed tornado just a few miles away and winds of 70 mph were recorded here. Our power was out for 24 hours, which luckily, was 24 hours less than originally predicted. There were quite a few of my friends who had 48+ hours without power.

If you stand at the end of our driveway and look left, you can see a big brown thing. That thing is a root ball from a massive, MASSIVE tree, that thankfully fell away from the road. Here is hubby standing next to it for size perspective.

Here it is from the side.

Another tree is hanging across the canopy and will likely come down at some point.

All in all, we are incredibly lucky that we had no damage to our property. I don’t need to see a storm like that again for a very long time, or better yet, ever. Thank you to the power company workers and first responders who were out trying to help and to get our power back on as quickly as possible.

Sweet Potato Starts

Back in October I wrote about our Sweet Potato Bonanza crop. We are hoping to have another one this Fall.

In the beginning of April, hubby set up the potatoes from last year’s crop to sprout starts. The jam jars are multi-purpose, as are the window sills in the eldest’s bedroom.

And a few weeks later, most of them are producing!

Fargo is super impressed with our mad sweet potato skills!