Friday, February 27, 2015

Gardening Thoughts and Onion Planting Time

February is almost over and amidst the bathroom renovations we are dreaming and planning our greatest growing season yet! All our seed orders arrived over this past month and that little table of potential is such a balm to our winter weary souls.

Check out these colorful heirloom flowers! They make my (Jennifer's) heart so happy! We love to make our vegetable garden beautiful by peppering flowers in any available space. The pollinators always appreciate the offerings too.

Part of the garden planning includes figuring out this years planting arrangement. We always rotate our vegetables and have the main vegetable garden quartered off so plants of the same family won't grow in the same soil for three to four years. We do this to help minimize pests and to allow the soil time to recuperate from heavy feeding crops. Our garden is 60' x 80' and can house a lot of plants, but we still grow densely to help control the weeds and to make the best use of our space. Last year we removed the winter squash from our garden (due to a desire for more) and underplanted the orchard with them plus more flowers and will probably cover crop it this year. By underplanting the young orchard we continue to whittle down our mowing and improve the tree growing zone by getting that water sucking sod out of there.

Our basement root cellar still houses 4 mesh bags and one large wooden crate of onions. We will easily make it through to onion season again without buying any. Woo hoo!

After listening to this podcast we decided to start our onion seeds a little differently this year. We are starting earlier and put five rows to a standard flat full of seeding starting mix. We sowed the onions thickly, but not too thickly. (About 8-10 seeds per inch.) They will grow in place until we put them in the ground in a couple of months.

We are utilizing our three-tiered grow lights again this year for seed growing, but realize it is quickly becoming undersized. We will make do this year and have a new setup for next year. (Note: I put plastic lids to control moisture on top of these flats until germination.) I have a timer set up to turn the lights on for 14 hours. There's a lot of discussion on the proper amount of time so I just chose something in the middle.

We are all feeling super excited about the return of longer days, increased sunshine and planting season! Bounder is showing off a happy, sun-patch yawn and we hope you are feeling the excitement of pending spring too...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bathroom Remodel: wiring finished, bit of structural engineering and a start on the drywall

Wiring is finished!:

GFCI recep. to 3 function switch to...

...bath fan with light, nightlight and vent fan:

Second GFCI recep. to switch to vanity light:

I noticed that this ceiling joist was becoming twisted and so, while I still had access to it (I am about to install ceiling drywall), I thought I'd do a bit of "structural engineering" by bolting it to the adjacent rafter section (left):

Step one: drill through both:

Run long bolt through both boards and install flat washer, lock washer and nut, tighten....slowly and carefully!:

Note that I did not pull them all the way together. I started hearing a bit of creaking and so stopped. The main goal hear was not to completely fix the warping, but to keep it from getting worse. I achieved that and also provided stability for the drywall that will soon be attached.

Speaking of drywall: here's the first couple of pieces (5/8 inch thick, water and mold resistant).!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Washington D.C.

A work trip for Steve took us toWashington D.C. this past week. Due to my newly-switched employment status (employed to self-employed) allowed me to tag along and enjoy the sights of our capitol. We enjoyed a few sites together before Steve attended his work retreat. Our Ohio winter-weary souls sought out some warmth and growing plants at the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory where we enjoyed the humidity of the tropics and the smells of the U.S. deserts.

Since we finally left the dumb phone world, we made use of our sassy smart phones to document each other in-situ. Do I sound like NPR?!;-)


Seriously though, note the National Museum of the American Indian behind me. We visited this museum for its fabulous Native foods cafe and huge collection of all things American Indian. It's an equally inspiring and heart-wrenching piece of history and present.

The White House is getting a makeover, but it's still always a cool place to see.

Steve spent two solid days here with some other inspiring, driven, conservation-minded individuals.

While he worked hard, I visited more museums including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art. Though I wasn't allowed to take any photos of the Monets, Van Goghs, Gauguins, Renoirs, etc. they were fabulous to see and to stand with my nose almost touching those famous pieces of art.  I did take a photo of this interesting formation in the Gems and Geology section of the Smithsonian.

Check out where it was collected and what it is! Cool!

This collection wowed me. We always talk of traveling to Bisbee, AZ and this entire section on Bisbee mining reminded us it's a great place to go in winter! 60s-70s and sun sounds pretty fabulous to us right now.

While walking through the Smithsonian gardens, I noticed this fantastic gate made out of natural materials, which very much seems like something we need to make!

The city wildlife made us laugh with their posturing and....

begging! While I enjoyed my lunch outside the Museum of Natural History in the brilliant sunshine, the local house sparrows and starlings found me and my sandwich quite intriguing. At one point I had at least 40-50 birds around me begging for food. Two starlings tried to snatch the sandwich out of my hands! Bold birds. The scene cracked me up and obviously others as I was approached twice to see if I would mind having my photograph taken.

The week rounded out with an incredible visit with an old friend of mine from college. (14 years went by before our most recent visit!) What a gift of time this next adventure Steve and I are embracing is offering us! We are on this path of time creation and will highlight our progress as we go.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Remodelings worst specter:The Full Bathroom

Remodelings worst specter: the full bathroom. You have sink, toilet, shower and related plumbing, bath fan and venting through the roof, wiring for bath fan, lights and GFCI receps. Not to mention drywall and, given the large proportion of seams and corners to flat spaces, LOTS of mud and sanding. Then there's caulk, priming, painting, floor issues, shelves and cabinets. Lets just say that I'm (Steve) glad I got a wide variety of delicious micro-brews for my birthday....that helps.

Our original plan was to try and salvage some things so we started to disassemble and investigate:

But, as with most such naive hopes, this one was dashed as we pulled up the toilet to reveal some yummy rot:

We also found various issues behind the walls and decided that removing the ceiling would allow us to insulate the attic space above that entire part of the house so gut-it we did:

Gutting a room often yields other possibilities such as the expansion of openings in a corner that will allow much more natural light to flood into this room. Why not shower and get Vitamin D simultaneously!?

Having removed eveything except the tub, we insulated the attic and then started doing the wiring. We will have two GFCI receps, a switch controlling a light above the sink and a switch controlling a vent/light/nighlight combo bath fan. 

Last of the old un-grounded wiring: some will remain entombed in the attic space.

Next: wiring and venting the bath fan. Gotto go up through the roof so this will have to wait for a clear and warmer day!