Sunday, 14 July 2013

Things I Do On My Stay-cation...

Last year I spent a week digging a hole.  Seriously.
So here's the newest project that I worked on finished.

I spent my stay-cation laying stonework on the front walkway and finished that seating area that I started last summer when I moved the entire garden and dug a huge hole in my front yard...  which I had started and then just kinda left that way for a year.  Yea, that project.  Finished it.
Nothing cooler than chairs on bricks in a hole...

I know, I know--a big hole in my front yard. For. a. year.  I am SUCH a great neighbor to have in the suburbs with all the perfect Stratford Wives-esque yards.  But don't worry, we put the furniture up on bricks in the hole, so from the street, it looked right.  For. a. year.

Lol, I know what you're thinking.

So anyhow, this blog isn't really about food today--so my talk about food will be brief(ish).

It's summertime here, and even though we've had the most insanely wet and rainy summer ever known, I still want a lot of free time to be outside enjoying the short hot season we get around here.  I want to be in the garden, or in the pool, or hiking in the woods and not tied to my kitchen home-making mayonnaise and almond flour from scratch and two-bite raw paleo brownies (though I would enjoy eating one...)  So I've been cooking very simple lately.  There haven't been any exciting recipes to post.

It's no secret that I have been getting a vegetable CSA box delivered to my front door every week (thank you Zephyr Organics), which I am absolutely loving it.  Because they only give you what is in-season at that moment, so far my CSA box at first had a lot of tender greens, but now we're getting into the more robust greens (kale, chard, turnip and mustard greens).  I expect as the season goes on, those greens will slowly be replaced with the orange vegetable kingdom and all kinds of root vegetables.  Ever since the boxes started arriving, my meals have been entirely planned around using up those veggies before the next box arrives.  It has been a game of extreme veggie gluttony to get through it all, and I've been loving it (has all that excess eating caused me to gain weight?  Hell no.  Green veggies will never do that no matter how many you eat--take THAT, my keto-friends!!).

So right now my fridge is bursting with fennel, zucchini, cauliflower, turnip greens, 2 pks snow peas, garlic scapes, parsley, swiss chard, purple kale, spinach, romaine, a regular leaf lettuce, and a package of radishes.  I have been drinking a ridiculous amount of green smoothies lately to get through all those leafy things. Every recipe is geared to using up more of those leafy green veggies.  At some point in the next few days, this will end up on my family's plates so that I might see the back of my fridge for an hour or two before the next CSA box arrives.  Ah, the problems I have....
Before:  Rotting wood and sagging stairs

So onto today's topic:  The walkway.  What was wrong with the old walkway?  Well, for starters there was no where to sit out front under all of our shady trees.  But more importantly, whoever did the original walkway decided to use pressure-treated 4x4 wooden posts, bolted to the original concrete stoop, to hold the stairs up.  Not a great long-term solution.  Wood rots, and stairs sag and slope.  The walkway was narrow, the step was narrow, and the stoop was so small that you couldn't swing the screen door open while more than one person was standing on the stoop.

It's funny what you find when you rip something apart.  Although it looked like it had been done professionally enough, upon ripping it apart I found all kinds of scraps of not-pressure-treated 2x4's that they'd shoved into small spaces here, there, and everywhere, to full holes where they'd mis-cut the wood.  C'mon people, pressure treated wood is the cheapest stuff you can put outside--scraps of leftover garbage pieces of 2x4 are JUST NOT APPROPRIATE!  Anyhooo...

Before--with some wood scraps.  They were everywhere. 
Ever laid stonework?  Whew, THAT was an entire week of heavy lifting.  (WOD, thy name be reno project!)  It poured rain all week, and I worked through most of it (and it was hot and humid the whole time--hello crazy hair).  That meant that the ka-jillions of buckets I hauled from driveway to walkway--in 20L metal pails--were full of not just limestone chips, but WET limestone chips, and when I was done with those, then there were buckets of soaking wet sand.  Followed by a thousand trips up and down the driveway for the actual cobblestones; 2, 3, 4 at a time, until my hands refused to hold them in a grip anymore.  And then some more sand.  This was a project we thought would take us about 4 days, but it took us 9 days and I didn't get any downtime whatsoever on my holiday, and returned to work needing a holiday from my holiday.  But it does look rather fabulous now, right?

So, some notes about this project...  We replaced the pressure-treated 4x4 framing around the garden and framing the whole thing--but chose to go with wood again because of the  cost.  The stones cost us about $1300, and that was enough money already.  I didn't want to go over $4/sq ft.  I'd found ugly stones at the Home Depot, that I was prepared to settle on,  but a trip to the local landscape supplier for limestone  and sand turned up a hundred stone choices that were a hundred times better quality for the same price.  The cobbles cost us $4.13/sq ft.  So there, always check out the local landscape supplier first.

For the new stairs, I ended up picking very large stacking stones (designed for building a stone wall), and matching giant capstones.  We laid cobbles under the stone wall so we could glue the stones into place, and back-fill them limestone.  They would have been fine dry-stacked, but we didn't want any shifting.  Ever.  So it's all glued down around the steps.  The whole walkway was sloped away from the house, both for drainage and to meet the driveway smoothly.  The seating area is sloped too, but less so.

Maybe next year's stay-cation will involve finally building that walkway from my new patio to the side gate.  You know, that place on your property where the grass never, ever grows anyways.  And maybe I'll add some more gardens, because no on can ever have enough gardens.  You know, my ex-husband used to always say that it was like living in the Brazilian Rainforest (his words, not mine) where every year, so many square feet of lawn disappear.  I think that my current (and final for-keeps) husband might agree.  I hate grass.  I tolerate it only because I believe it is a necessary evil of living in the suburbs, and to completely get rid of it would make me THAT house on the block.  Lawn-less yards can either go really well or really bad.  I don't want to be THAT house that went really bad that people whisper about and despise.  There are certain RULES to living in the burbs....

The worst irony about the reno project was that we received too much limestone and sand, and so even after finishing hauling all of that stuff, I still have to haul more to be able to park in my driveway again.  I've been filling new rubbermaid garbage bins and placing them around the side of the house--well, ok, I placed the bins, then hauled stone and sand by bucket-loads to those bins--and only stopped because I ran out of bins and places to put those bins.  Another paycheque later, and some more bins, and off I go again.  Its beginning to feel like it isn't ever going to end, but it will, and then I'll have a few minutes to turn to my gardens where I can dig some things up and move things around and generally get dirty because that's what I do best, and maybe, just maybe, if I can still stand up and walk, I might waddle around back to the pool for some sun, some reading, and some general floating around in circles--and there might even be a can of beer in my hand.  Or Perry.  Whatever the beer fairy brings me.

So if you need me, I'll be outside.

Come for a swim.

See you there.

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