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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quiet times..

Life has been quiet here as of late, we are waiting for the cooler fall weather to resume moving plants, or what’s left of them to their new protected home.  The deer have been relentless in eating the hosta even though they were sprayed.  It always surprises me, though at this point it shouldn’t, that they eat things that smell that bad and that are that close to the house.

Cooper continues to grow and he is a constant source of joy and entertainment.  We would love to get another Great Dane and we may do that, but we are both thinking the next one won’t be as smart or well behaved as Cooper is.

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The honey bees, well, the top bar hive is thriving  we had to make some adjustments and give them more space.  The picture below shows where the feeder was, but as you can see, they had somehow moved into that part.  Not a huge deal, but you don’t want them building comb in there with the feeder in place.

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So Randy made me a new system the piece you see below is a platform that has 4 sides to it so that when it’s in place the honey bees can only access the feeder through that hole.

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So in place this is what it looks like.  The bars are all below, he made a special bar with holes in it for the bees to pass up into the bottom of the feeder platform.  Hopefully when I go to switch the feeder out, this box will still be empty.

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I only have one Lang that is still alive.  We started seeing honey bees dead all over the deck and the last time that happened the hive died shortly after.  Sure enough, within a week there were no more honey bees in the hive.  I haven’t had the heart to go and dismantle it, that’s on the menu for this weekend.

We need to finish up the fire pit with some gravel and Randy is just about ready to start on the gates for the decorative part of the deer fence.  I’m ready for fall, I want to get back outside without being eaten by mosquitoes!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The first of many!

July is blessing us with some unbelievably beautiful weather!  This nice cool spell we are having meant that…

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We had our first official fire!  It was so nice sitting out there, listening to the crickets, katydids and the bull frogs.  Zoe and Cooper were both out with us, laying just behind the wall in the grass.  Quiet time is good time and quiet time by a warm crackling fire is great time!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Even Cooper is impressed!

DSC_0050 (That’s WOW in dog I’m pretty sure!)
When Randy sets his mind to something, it gets done.  Now getting it there can be a different story because our ‘visions’ don’t always mesh, that however is what you get when you cross a creative soul with an engineer. (That and a lot of wine being consumed after working all day together.) 
(Just kidding honey, I love you!)
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For someone that had no idea (or so he says) what he was doing, he sure did make something pretty awesome!  Stepped cap stones on the ends of the seating wall add a nice touch and he cut those things to size!
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I can honestly say that I helped with the polymeric sand part!  I helped pour it into all the joints and I helped brush it away from the sides and I helped scoop it up.  I also helped keep Cooper off.  I also had the job of watering, letting soak in and watering again! 
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There’s the completed fire circle (I don’t think ‘pit’ is the right word).  The bonus to all of this is that the weather is even cooperating and we may be out there on Tuesday night with our first fire.  I’m looking forward to it!  I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t put a real fire ring in there someday either….

Monday, July 14, 2014

It’s the pits…

So I’ve long wanted a fire feature in the yard.  While I don’t miss the mess of wood inside, I do miss the smell and visual of a warm crackling fire.  I also wouldn’t mind whipping up some s’mores (organic of course) on a chilly fall or early spring evening.  Back in the early spring I somehow stumbled upon a very clever retail version that I thought would suit my needs and be very, very, very, little work for use.  *Note that very, very, very, little work for use!*  So I purchased it.

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See very little work just sit the log base on the ground, grab some wood, some chairs and have fun!

It sat in the garage for a couple months till I finally hauled it out back.  I moved it around the yard till I found what I thought was a nice spot.  Randy didn’t like it and decided it should be somewhere else, but he didn’t move it.  Recently, some what out of the blue he asked how I felt about it going where the plum tree used to be.  He made it sound as if it would be a very easy thing just pull out the stump, reuse some pavers we have and we’d be set.  Well, okay.! (He also made a joke about it being half way between the house and where the pool would be which I bet he hopes I forget!)

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Last Sunday he spent a few hours working to get the plum tree out and the area cleaned up.  He cut a nice circle and I thought cool, get those pavers in place and this project would be done.

Not so fast Angie.  The words that I dread, the ones that I hate to hear coming from my darling engineers lips, I’ve been thinking..and level.. Uh-oh…

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So he starting digging and digging and digging some more.  Cooper even tried to help out!  He hit rocks and roots and still he dug on.  The simple plan became a grand scheme, now we were going to get new pavers and build a half wall to sit on and it was going to be level. (*Note that I hate the use of the word level when speaking about ANYTHING in my yard.  The entire yard slopes towards the woods and I’m not sure we have a level spot anywhere! Level to me is a fantasy.)

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This was how things were looking on Saturday.  Once the sun hits that spot of the yard, baking takes place, so work comes to a stop.  It’s full on direct sun..hmmm maybe THAT is where the pool should go…  We headed off to Lowes to look at blocks and sand and supplies and to see if we could figure out what we wanted to use.

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Sunday finds it looking like this and uh-oh it appears that the drainage pipe is running through the circle.  I’m not sure how he’s going to fix that but I’m sure he will.  As you can see, he dug down pretty deep to get it level, the block wall/seating will go on that side, maybe most of the way around.  I’m not sure what he’s coming up with, I just know he is engineering something wonderful, he always does!

Stay tuned…

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pizza Perfection..

Big Green Egg style!
When we last left off I believe that food was being grilled on the Big Green Eggs for the first time!  We made pizza and salmon on a cedar plank last weekend and it was delish!  Randy ever the perfectionist had to have another go at the pizza this week and this time I got pictures!
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(I now have proof that he can cook and thus can no longer use the excuse that he doesn’t know what to fix!)
After tossing the dough about a bit he made a wonderful, well two actually,  Margherita Pizzas!
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Before the egg did it’s magic…
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Look at that yummy goodness!  The crust is cooked to perfection and is nice and crisp, the toppings don’t get over cooked and the cheese melts into delicious pools of heaven!  I told him I NEVER wanted another pizza cooked any other way!
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Now that’s what I call a good ending to a long week!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Birthday BGE’s Bees and plants..

On June 17th Cooper turned a year old!  We can’t believe he’s been here 10 months, it doesn’t seem like it at all!  For his birthday he got a steak and a pool!
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Almost… but not grilling yet..
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Randy worked most of the weekend on the BGE Island and it’s almost done.  He’s got to do a little caulking and assemble (reassemble) the eggs.  I’m hopeful for low and slow by this weeks end.  The slate in the nest box turned out really nice, but I’m still really glad it didn’t end up on the back splash!
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I spent a lot of time getting that parade of pots taken care of and all of the plants the neighbor gave me as well!  I’m happy with the layout and glad I didn’t wait to try and buy all the shrubs the plants landscape person suggested before I started planting and moving what I have.
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At the top of the water fall right behind the gazebo I started with a bleeding heart, hosta and a pulmonaria.  The huge rock at the end is a stepping stone that leads to the filter.  I’m going to put a path in to the left of this grouping so that we have easy access to it for maintenance.
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I took up that annoying rock mess and planted a host of hosta along the outside edge.  It’s still raised a little so water ‘shouldn’t’ be able to wash in.  I placed some of the smaller rocks along the backside of the little wall in case any water does get past and because they won’t wash like mulch.
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I planted things not only where I hope they will grow and thrive, but in attempts to make collections.  I need leaf mulch and patience by the truck load now.
On Sunday while Randy continued his quest for completion.  I tackled the bed below the deck.  I have a love of native plants so jewel weed and it’s pretty flowers that the hummingbirds love is welcome in my gardens.  The problem is if you give it an inch, it takes acres!
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So I went from that to this.
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Leaving a small patch of the jewel weed to the left there.  I transplanted a few more hosta out of the danger zone and moved some Autumn joy sedum into this bed as well.  We sat the Turks Cap lily pot in the bed in hopes that the seeds will fall and grow as digging is difficult at best in this spot. (The roots of the old maple tree are still there after oh 6 years or so!)  The rope laying in the grass is the potential new edge for the bed, but I’m still mulling that over.  I know the edge needs to be more mower friendly, but I don’t know if I want to make the bed bigger or smaller.  Decisions, decisions.
I didn’t open the Langs this weekend but the bees have been very active out in front.  I did peek into the top bar and wow are those girls going to town!  They’ve filled up just about all the bars I’ve given them, so that means adding more from the other side now.  Thing is I’m not sure Randy is ready for me to starting doing that.
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I am always happy to see other pollinators and seeing this one on the white milkweed was very happy indeed.
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Islands and inches..

The granite guys came last Friday (yes I’m delinquent in posting).  While Randy was at the US Open in Pinehurst.  To me the addition of the granite made the BGE island look so much bigger.
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Randy returned home at midnight, so on Sunday morning we went off to the tile shop to get the slate he had ordered for the area we are calling the ‘nest box’. 
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He’s hoping to get the island done and the eggs in this coming weekend.  How nice it will be to grill again!!!!
Over the time he was gone I worked on weeding the bed in the driveway, moving some plants around in there (and out of there) and moving the edge in to make the bed smaller.
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I decided that since the only violets the deer ever eat are the ones in my flower beds, I’m going to pull them out of the beds and maybe the deer won’t go into those beds.  As I move all the edibles out I’m hoping the deer find somewhere else to go.
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This is the plant holding area.  All the plants that either I’ve dug up or my Mom has given me are sitting here waiting to be planted.  They are easy to water and aren’t getting baked in the sun.  Plus it’s central enough that I can walk them around in the back deciding where I want them.
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Each time I get frustrated with how incredibly slow the make over and move are going something will remind me that it will happen.  I had glanced up at the wisteria growing on the gazebo, it’s filling out so nicely.  It had sent tendrils up that had wrapped around the wind chime.  So I went up to carefully unwind them.  While I was standing there, I looked down and this is what I saw.  it reminded me that while the progress maybe slow, the reward is well worth it.
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