Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our Moat

Hey! Check out our new water feature!

This new moat should protect us against coyotes, crusaders, and the Wicked Witch of the West!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Whew! That was.... 'fun'

So my second class of grad school is finally completed. I have no idea how I did, but it's over and I get my life back for a whole week!

I've spent every free moment of the last couple weeks working on my final (don't you love it when those are 50% of your final grade?) and I finally turned it in at 11pm last night.

So now that I can, I'll be returning to our regular scheduled programming. I've got some fun projects to talk about, including the nightstands I mentioned eons ago!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Quest for BBQ Fun!

One of the reasons we've been so excited for summer to get here is that Brian and I are finally ready to get our first REAL grill!

Rest in peace tiny charcoal Weber...we know charcoal is the best, but your 2 hamburger maximum is just not cutting it. And frankly, I don't want to spend so much quality time with you waiting for the coals to be ready... I'm hungry now! Bon chance.

So after scouring home stores and the internet trying to decipher grill lingo, we selected this beauty by Kenmore from Sears (picture is also from
Originally $350, down to $279. It has over 100 good reviews, and was the size we wanted and everything. We waited for a while to buy it, had to put it in the purchase queue... well it's a good thing we did! It's apparently being discontinued for a newer model, and when we bought it, it was about to go on sale even farther, and they gave us the extra sale price even though it hadn't started yet! So for $250 dollars, we will be grilling fiends this summer! We also picked up a cover and a nice grill set with skewers, a cleaning brush, spatula, etc.

Brian and I both have grown up grilling often in the summer, and I can't wait to continue the eating outside goodness!

We ordered it for in-store pickup as to avoid the ridiculous shipping costs associated with mailing something so large. But of course, there is where we hit snag numero-uno. This grill is sold out at every store within 50 miles of us. So we decided to check the Sears by my parents house an hour away, they had them! In the event that we had trouble getting there, my parents could always snag it for us. So we placed the order.

Monday, we got very gung-ho about grilling and decided we didn't want to wait anymore, so after Brian got home from class we hopped in the car and drove up. After driving to multiple entrances at opposite sides of the store, and fighting with the order-pickup machine, we sat down to wait for our item. About 5 minutes later they wheeled out... a fully assembled grill. Crap.

Brian drives a 2004 Chevy Malibu, there is no way this was going to fit. Also we did not order it assembled. 30 minutes, 1 manager and multiple declarations of 'there are no more boxed ones' later, the jerkface guy went to check. Low and behold, they found one. Aaaaand it was even bigger than the fully assembled version (how is that possible???). After seeing if it would fit (not a chance) we got in the car to drive all the way back empty handed. I was pouting.

Then I said to Brian 'what if they just detached the actual grill part from the base? Then they'd fit'. He ran inside and came out with the only non-jerkface guy that was working in this Sears, and we had it loaded in seconds! We did have to go buy a bungee cord to hold the lid of the trunk closed though.

And so, the simple act of picking up a grill had turned into a massive quest which finally culminated in our successful acquisition of our new mostly-assembled toy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

DSIFQ Continues the Lanscaping Offensive

I'm hoping that last weekend's demolition will be the "Gettysburg" to the civil war between us and our backyard that helps turn the tide in our favor. Although, as I once heard a genteel Charlestonian woman say 'it should not be called the Civil War because there was nothing civil about it.' And our landscaping is anything but civil.

Saturday Brian's family came over to help us rip out trees and the old fence! It was really exciting actually, because I was sooooo ready for the overgrown trees that were RIGHT on the fence and house to be gone, and that fence was barely 'fencing' as it was. One section blew over in a storm last month!

Unfortunately, my 'before' pictures don't really show how craptacular it really was, I avoided seeing it close up as much as possible, and they were from last summer, and a sea of green always helps! See all the pine trees and shrubs on the fence line? They are RIGHT ON the fence line. Also, you can sort of see in the picture that the fence is sort of tacked together... It had boards and random pieces of wood all nailed together haphazardly, trying to keep this thing standing. Half the posts were rotted through, and there were short beams propping it up in some parts.

Well Brian's family came over with a wonderful chainsaw and other tools for the job and we started chopping. I don't have any 'in progress' shots because I was also helping (champion branch hauler at your service!) but the trees all came down quick.

While stomping around we realized again how bumpy and weird our yard is. We'd both love to have it completely graded and drained properly, but that's just not going to happen.

We also cut down a very large, very dead ash tree from the other side of the fence. It was leaning pretty far over into our yard, and it was libel to crack and fall soon. When it went down, it was so dry that it shattered! Almost into a big puff of dust and twig. I'm glad (and so is my mom) that it's taken care of, because it was apparently quite the danger! After the trees were chopped apart and piled accordingly I made lunch, then we ripped out the fence.

At the end of the day, the yard looked like this:

You can see the branch pile, and one of the trunk piles (there's another one over to the left, and stumps stacked on the patio area). There is also the fence pile over there too.

We have since moved everything around. Most of the branches have been taken by Brian's parents, and we moved the rest of them to the side yard off the grass. We also stacked the trunks/stumps firewood style next to the garage door for easy removal, and less grass death.

Another nugget of progress was calling Miss Dig. They have now come out and marked all our electrical, gas and water lines. I'll try to get a picture of that. So once we measure and order the new fence, we should be set to install the new bad-boy! I can only hope that we will continue our forward momentum, and have a backyard we can be proud of soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DSIFQ Declares a Yard War!

Well, as anyone who has been to our house will know, our house sits on a lovely little 1/4 acre backing up to natural space. I use the term 'lovely' very very loosely.

We don't think Frank ever did much yard work, our earth is like cement, and there were over a dozen overgrown trees right up against the house, and the existing crap fence. Also the garage is even in rough shape! Well last weekend we made the first attack on the outside. Right now it still appears to be reeling from our betrayal, so we will continue to strike while the iron is hot, and before the mess can rally.

The weekend was FULL of projects and progress, but I'll break the update into two posts for easy digestion (chew your food, people!). Friday when I got home I began my assault on our much-maligned garage. We were very lucky to get a two car garage in our price range, but it does need some serious help. In the long run I'd love to gut it and re-drywall, but small improvements can still make a huge difference.

At the back of the garage is a little step up where items can be stored, a "cabinet" of sorts and the door to the backyard. Initially, most of this step was taken up by a huge home made work bench. This thing was a death trap, with 2x4s sticking out, and it basically made it impossible to neatly keep anything on it. And since we moved in last year already in the middle of gardening season and had to get the hang of home ownership, this bench became a dumping ground.

I started by getting everything off the bench (and out from under it) and piling it according to purpose and future location. I also swept up all the grass seed that had somehow spilled everywhere...

Lovely isn't it?

I did not get a picture of the bench covered in stuff, but imagine everything on this plastic sheet is on that piece of crap surface:
All of those boxes are from wedding gifts, we've been slowly recycling them. But see all that mess? Our 2 car garage has been 1 car only :( With the bench we couldn't even get the garbage can up there! Talk about annoying climbing around a car just to take out the trash...

I then attacked the bench with a claw hammer. Now, I was home alone, and had never demo-ed anything in my whole life... not a combination I would recommend. But for this table, I had it apart in moments! There was not a single bolt in the whole thing, just a random assortment of nails and staples. If anyone had ever tried to sit on it they would have come straight down. I'm really glad it's gone.

After the bench was gone, I started organizing the garage for the very first time. We got a freestanding shelf unit, and some more hooks for the pegboard. After another morning of organizing, our garage (while far from done or 'nice') is much improved!

Once we get rid of the rest of those boxes and install the other garage door opener we'll be able to put 2 cars in here! Of course there is a mountain more to do, but now our garage is usable, and not a death trap!

And I usually consider that a plus.