Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lots of Diggin' and A Compost Bin

The past week we spent the evenings digging till our backs broke and our arms would put Marge Simpson to shame.

Apparently, Marge was into body-building at some point (more specifically, during an episode called "Strong Arms of Ma").

This is not a WWI battlefield... it's our front yard, with the main water line exposed.

The reason we were digging so much is that our drain clogged. Since we'd have to bring a plumber to unclog it, we figured we might as well also prepare for the replacement of our old, rusty main water line.
We're having some trouble with the permit issuance for that, so we'll have to wait with this project a couple of days, but we did get our drain fixed. Lloyd came Thursday morning, in the pouring rain, and put his snakey machine through the hole in the drain, that we exposed the night before:

Unfortunately, the hole is right under our herb garden. Poor chives, they suffered the most, and they're still so young and tender, you can barely even see the ones that were spared. Yes, they're in between the parsley and cilantro (coriander).

And now for something completely different:

We started piling our kitchen and garden scraps back in December or late November. But the pile was getting so big, we had to do something to contain it. So we built this 3-faced compost bin out of wood and chicken wire. The extra green is from our mustard bed - it's been going wild, and so have the aphids, so thinning was unavoidable. Encouragingly enough, I did see a ladybug too, so there is at least some measure of biological control.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Plastering and Eating

Two weeks ago we started plastering the bricks on the closed window. Then we ran out of plaster. We had enough for 3 layers of plaster mixed with sand, but not enough for the last layer of pure plaster, for a smooth finish. So we finished that a week later. Now all we have to do is prime, paint, and put some shelves. We'll see how long that'll take...

The same day we finished the first few layers of plaster, Mark made this pizza:

He made this pizza many times before, and it's always delicious. But this time it was extra special, because he used spinach from our garden! And homemade yogurt! Yum!

And last week we had our first crop of snowpeas!

The yummy green pods went straight into our yakisoba! Yum!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Windows XP Removed

(XP stands for Extra-Professionally)

Our house didn't use to have a garage, but a carport. Sometime along the way the carport was converted to a garage, but the windows to the dining area and the bathroom remained. This is not up to code, according to our inspector, so we have to remove the windows and brick them up. We decided to do it now, because we are also getting new windows, and they will cost $450 less if we remove the old windows ourselves. The window that needs to be bricked, is therefore, the practice window -we can see how it goes, and decide whether we would like to pay someone else $450 for the pleasure or not. Turns out it's not so difficult! Sunday Mark removed the window in about 1 hour, and that included finding hidden nails, and dealing with the fact that the window didn't open all the way, because of the garage door tracks that run across it. Now that we know there are nails on both sides of the window, and as all other windows open all the way, it should take less time per window, we hope. The window person, who came to measure the windows, was very impressed!

Mark bangs on the sides of the window to loosen it up.

All the nails are out, and the window can finally be pulled out.

Next, we had to brick it up. But first we had to find bricks. We wanted to use burnt adobe bricks, to match the rest of the house. You'd think it would be easy to find in Tucson, but no. The new adobe bricks are made differently - they're more stable - and the one place that sells them, although they said they have bricks with a color that matches - was too busy to help us. We finally found a place that sells burnt adobe way out west - Walter's Wholesale Mesquite. They mostly sell firewood, but they also have adobe bricks of various sizes. We wanted 4" wide bricks, so that we can have a little niche for built-in shelves -- the house bricks are 8" wide. We got 50 of them and started laying them. Six hours later:

Mark reinforced the bricks with reinforcement bars drilled into the bordering walls. It was already 11 pm and we ran out of sand, so we had to close the rest of the window with some cardboard and continue the next day.

Monday, 8:30 pm, after acquiring more sand and cement, we started again. Five and half hours later (yes, it was 2 am when we were finally done!):

From the inside: the bricks will be painted, and shelves will be hung to show our smaller ceramic creations.

From the garage side: as you can see, the garage door tracks didn't make it any easier laying the bricks in the last couple of rows. Also, not that the new brick sizes are different - they are shorter both in length and height than the original bricks.

And on a different note: On Sunday our garden veggies turned 2 months old:

The snap peas are blooming!

Copious amounts of mustard, arugula and salad greens result in a lot of greenery ending up in our meals.