Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Eggs (No Ham)

One of the Americauna started laying eggs!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our final answer is...

Light pine! We went with the lighter green color.

It has been fun (and only slightly dangerous) painting this last week. We're pretty much only painting the new siding right now. The old siding needs to be scraped first.

Since it has been so long since any substantial update, here is what we've been up to:

We got foam insulation put up in the ceiling of the upstairs. Jeremy has been planning the electrical up there (and for the rest of the house) since he had to get a few lights in before the insulation went in. We'll be putting in recycled denim insulation in the walls when the time comes for that. We've also been working out the new floor plan for upstairs and Jeremy started framing that recently.

The upstairs gets worked on during rain days. Anytime it's nice enough outside, Jeremy has been working on siding and trim.

Here is the beginning of the window trim on the dormer addition. You can also see the fascia has gone up, but not the soffits.

Here the window trim is done, the soffits are in, and some of the siding has been put up.

Along the face of the new dormer Jeremy added trim to all the windows and new siding (still in process in this photo).

On the front of the house Jeremy had to remove most of the siding (it was in bad shape) and he's been redoing a lot of the vertical trim. Someone replaced parts of it in the past, but only parts of each piece. So most of our vertical trim is in two or three pieces with big ugly blobs of sealant smeared on the seams. And the wood must not have been good to begin with because many of those boards got rotten.

Here's the front mostly redone (Jeremy is working on those last few bits of siding right now!).

While Jeremy is keeping busy with constructing, I've been applying wood filler, sanding, priming, painting, and so forth. And a bit of sewing and baking too!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday.

I went to Seattle over the weekend for the wedding of a good friend. It was great to be back in the Northwest - in Seattle! To ride the ferry, see my mountain, catch up with friends and family, and see how Seattle has grown since I left almost a year and a half ago.

My friend got married at this beautiful spot in Bremerton:

I got to visit with some friends of mine and discover a brand new ice cream shop in Seattle - where they have giant cones! (at least in the hands of a little girl.)

And of course I got to see my mountain. It was out (as they say in Seattle) much of the time I was visiting. It really is a spectacular sight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Decision time

Jeremy and I have been debating house color almost since we bought the house. For awhile we thought we'd do white, but then it became clear that a white house with our metal roof would just be too... white. So as we looked around at other houses we narrowed it down to two colors: yellow or green. I wanted green, Jeremy wanted yellow.

Jeremy found a yellow house he liked and got the paint name from the owners. We couldn't get anyone to answer the door at the green-colored house we liked. So Jeremy guessed. Our first try with some samples:

We looked at the colors close-up and far away and realized we did not like the yellow at all. It's just too lemony and bright for the house. We liked the green though, so I painted a patch at the front of the house to see how it looked from there.

But then it seemed like the green needed a bit more blue in it and a bit darker. So back to the paint store for more samples. On the way I saw a blue house I liked, so we thought we'd pick out a blue as well. Here are more samples:

The green at the bottom is actually the same as the green around the corner. So, we stood back from the street, and back in the yard, and made our decision. Any guesses as to which we picked? (Or which would you pick!?)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


House work was very slow this last week because we went on vacation! We packed our bags (and half the kitchen) and went up to Bayfield Wisconsin. Bayfield is a bit of a touristy spot, right on Lake Superior and is one of the only ways to get through to Madeline Island. A friend of ours has a boat there that we were able to stay on.

We did a little bit of research about Bayfield and Madeline Island - where to eat, farms, orchards, museums, places to go, etc, etc. And then we pretty much ignored all that and relaxed and did what we felt like.

Sunday and Monday we mostly hung out on the boat.

We made our meals in the tiny kitchen - and not stinting on our normal meals either. We made pizza with sauteed garlic tips, stir fry, beautiful salads, pancakes, omelettes, etc.

steamy tea and Jeremy making breakfast

We brought a stack of books with us and read for hours. We snuggled up in blankets on the deck and read aloud till it was too dark to see. Every night at about 8:00 a mother duck came paddling by, chaperoning 4 or 5 ducklings who swam up to each boat in turn and nibbled bits of algae. As the sun sank, bats came out swooping low over the water. One night I saw a hawk swoop down out of the sky and nearly catch a baby duck. But its mother was nearby and they both dove for safety just in time.

On Monday we managed to go out kayaking for awhile along the shore. We also spent some time walking around town, exploring an antique shop and a great used book store. We discovered the candy shop sold ice cream cones and we duly visited after every lunch and dinner for some excellent ice cream.

On Tuesday we caught the ferry over to Madeline Island.

The ferries are much smaller than the ones in Seattle - the biggest can only hold about 20 cars! We took our bikes over and once on the island biked the 7-mile road to the other side and the state park.

They don't allow bikes on the trails, so we locked ours up and took a hike. We brought a picnic lunch with us and stopped to eat that. It was a beautiful area and we even found some wild strawberries growing in the rocks.

We hiked back, got our bikes, and went back to the main town on Madeline Island. We found we didn't like it very much, so we took the ferry back to Bayfield and got some ice cream. =)

On Wednesday morning we packed up and took a scenice drive back to Duluth. Then, instead of heading back south, we went up north and stopped at Betty's Pies for a pasty and a piece of pie. Then we continued on to Gooseberry Falls and had a nice hike around the river and falls.

Now we're home and still trying to get back out of vacation mode. It was hard to do anything for the first day or two because we were both plagued by the constant sensation that the whole world was rocking - like we were still on the boat. But that seems to have passed and we're back on track, painting and putting up siding and trim.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Garbage Day

When we moved into our house we discovered there were two garbage bins, not one. Not sure where the second one came from. They're the standard, large size cans: 94 gallons. 94 gallons!

Every year, Americans throw away about 230 million tons of "trash." That's about 4.6 pounds per person per day. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills (according to this site).

There are a lot of different statistics (that don't all agree) about how much we throw away in comparison to other countries, how much of each kind of thing (styrofoam, diapers, paper, etc), and how long it takes things to biodegrade. They're ugly numbers. We really are a wasteful society, and more wasteful than we've ever been before.

It costs Minneapolites about $28 a month for garbage service, and you can knock $7 off that if you recycle. But $21 a month? That seems too cheap to support our addiction to waste. I kind of think it should cost more. It should hurt a little - because garbage hurts us and the environment.

But I know some people can barely afford that amount. We had garbage service cut off for a time when I was growing up. We just couldn't afford everything and garbage service had to go. We managed for some time, though I don't recall how now.

Perhaps it was from that experience, or somewhere else along the line, that I've been able to seriously reduce the amount of garbage I (now we) throw away. Perhaps it's because I don't often go shopping (for non-food items) because I hate spending money. (And many consumer goods come in a lot of packaging.) Perhaps it's because we buy in bulk and reuse a lot of things and recycle as much as we can. Or, it's just a combination of all of these! In any case, I realized we were only throwing away 2 bags of garbage a month! We definitely did not need the 94 gallon cart. So we switched to the smaller, 22 gallon cart.

It's tiny!

So, I offer up, for the blogosphere, ways that we reduce trash:
  • we use towels/washcloths/sponges instead of paper towels
  • we use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
  • we wash out and reuse plastic baggies and sheets of foil - until they can't be used anymore
  • we recycle as much as we can - we keep a pile of recylables in the bathroom as well, a place where it is easy to toss paper/cardboard into the trash
  • we have a compost bin (and chickens!) for food waste
  • we use cloth grocery bags everywhere: trips to the grocery, farmer's market, Target, clothing shopping, you name it
  • I've been using tall plastic containers (like what yogurt comes in) to make garden markers
  • we buy in bulk as much as we can, bringing in our own containers to refill olive oil, spices, laundry soap, shampoo, pasta, baking supplies, and so on!
  • We try to buy products that don't have a lot of packaging
  • When we want to purchase some new item, we look at craigslist or other resale places first (we're helping someone out, and the packaging is already gone!)
  • I'm thinking about using ice cream containers for growing seedlings in the spring
  • We cook a lot from scratch which means we don't have a lot of prepackaged food containers to toss out

That's a start. I'm sure I may think of more eventually. I think the biggest thing for us is to be really aware of a need versus a want and to think carefully about our purchases. The less things you buy, the less waste.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Special Delivery

Jeremy and I were eating lunch today and we started hearing a very funny noise. It almost sounded like a duck quacking. We munched thoughtfully on our bites of lunch, straining to hear this bizarre sound, looking at each other and arching our eyebrows. What IS that sound!?

Finally I lept up and went out to the chicken coop. It was the chickens. Two of them to be precise, Rhode Island Reds. Jeremy looked it up and it seemed like the sound they were making was the sound a chicken made while laying an egg!

They seemed unpleased with the nest boxes so I hurried to fill them up with more straw. They seemed to like that, but kept squawking and trading boxes and carrying on.

We kept waiting and waiting and waiting. The rest of the chickens stayed down in the run, very quiet. At one point they were all hunkered down - like we were all expectant parents waiting out in the hall while this tremendous racket of squawking was going on!

We wanted to go run some errands and this squawking and nestbox-hopping had been going on for an hour, so we decided we would leave. I looked in the hen house and saw the birds were mingling about more than before. So I decided to check on the nest boxes:

Our first egg!!