Getting Back To The Basics

A place to show the changes in our yard, our garden, our home, and our life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Puppies

Christmas-y pics of the pups! I'd have more of family but Rob forgot to put the camera in the car.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yard Progress

So the landscapers are gone, the deck is done, and it's time to show off some progress.

The good: it looks great. The paver color choices are great and I'm excited to plant some creeping thyme into the paths between the pavers. Overall, pleased with the yard.

The bad: they went way over budget and it's not done. The overall cost was supposed to include all the labor, the hard scape, misc materials, a watering system, and the plants. They went quite a bit over budget. To rub a little salt in that wound, the plants weren't purchased and therefore nothing got planted, no watering system, and some more landscaping things need to be done, like pouring gravel around the raised beds. So those are all additional costs that I have to take care of on my own that doesn't even get included in the budget fiasco.

So while we recover financially from that money eating project, I've been going out every other week and buying some mulch, buying a plant or three, to do a little bit at a time. I may have to bring someone back in to deal with the espalier trees unless I can find some good info on how to set up the fence for fan style espalier trees. I know how to get the trees going, it's the fence and support system I worry about.

So I have the yard maybe 35% mulched and a few plants in the ground. Some were mine before the project that we implemented in the plans (like my japanese maples) and a few I've gone out and bought because I wanted a little green mixed in with the dreary brown.

This photo shows the overall patio where the deck used to be and the new back porch. You can see where I have mulched and where I still have to lay it. The garbage & recycling cans go under the porch and come spring we'll put up a lattice wall/door to enclose it.  The wooden stakes in the ground are where various plants need to go, per the plans.

This is the rain chain design hanging by the back porch.

There are a couple of tall wooden chairs that I have placed strategically around the yard. I set containers on them. I will probably grow some easily managed vines to grow up the chairs to give it a nice organic look.

The back of the yard showing the pergola. I might plant grapes to grow over it.
The flagstone looks washed out here, but since the pics we have gotten some rain which washed away the dust that was washing out the color. There is quite a pop of color hiding in there.

Night time view

Today Violet and I went to Swanson's Nursery and picked up a few plants to brighten up the brown. The ones I got are evergreen so it'll give us some interest till spring finally hits.

This is a neat little shrub called Sunshine Blue Blueberry. We bought two of them.

We also got two Thunderbird Huckleberry shrubs. They're pretty small right now.

I was supposed to have three huckleberries but I saw this and decided that I'd gladly trade one huckleberry for one Pink Lemonade Blueberry plant!

So that's the latest. I'll continue to post pics and updates as time goes on, maybe once a month. Next weekend I see more mulch and compost in my future. How exciting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bathroom Demo?

We came home today to find a little demo action done on the bathroom.

Notice what is amiss?

The damage

The mess - I think we'll throw those tooth brushes out.

So some work was being done on the exterior of the house, around the deck. Some wood was being removed and apparently that is when the bang job happened.

With every job done on the house, always expect it to take on a life of its own.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The grass (sod) has been laid. I'm a little worried about the timing. It was laid yesterday just a couple days before thanksgiving. I've heard mixed reviews on the success of such a move. Right now Seattle is suffering from record breaking rain fall so hopefully it doesn't drown.

We also had a wind storm that knocked down the remaining leaves from the neighbors huge tree. As soon as the rain stops (never?) it'll be time for raking.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage

I was pondering what I should make for dinner while I surfed facebook aimlessly. I came across a scary clown guy's post with a tasty sounding recipe. So here you have it.

The sage is fresh from my garden. How's that for fresh?
Being that I live in Seattle, the lemon is obviously not from my garden.

Bacon? Yes please. The sage smelled wonderful.
I love butternut squash. What I don't like? Peeling it. PITA. 
Simmering in sagey bacony goodess.

I didn't have scallions on hand but my organic delivery box came with green onions. I used those instead. Plus more sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, as per the directions.

Add the chicken broth...

Garnished with the almonds and a little more Parmesan. Because I like it.

Seriously tasty meal that happens to be vegetarian with the added salad. Assuming you ignore the bacon, of course.

Ingredients -
  • 4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 8 large fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced (see note)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound penne or other short, tubular pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Directions -
  1. Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add whole sage leaves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, reserving bacon fat and bacon-sage mixture separately.
  2. Return skillet to high heat, add 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat (adding olive oil if necessary) and heat until shimmering. Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, nutmeg, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and minced sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; continue to cook until squash is tender, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water, and transfer back to Dutch oven.
  4. Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and reserved bacon-sage mixture, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta liquid. Serve, passing almonds and Parmesan separately.
The above recipe can be found here - I cannot take credit for it, of course.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Back Yard Landscape Project Update

A lot has happened in the back yard - it is very very muddy and the girls get lots of baths.

Before - 2008 when we first moved in. Also known as the time before dogs.

Current photos of the back yard

We still have a long way to go but thankfully a good amount of progress is being made. The flagstone still needs to be set, sod laid, plants planted. The deck is about 90% done.

If you want to see the photos taken of the project as it has come along so far, pics are found here:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I want to die from embarrassment, but happy halloween, or whatever

arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr happy halloween! now go away

Pups on Noon Rd

Here's the follow up to the house visit up in Bellingham - the pups love romping around the acreage. One day girls, you'll have 5 acres of your own to terrorize on a daily basis.

Sadie is usually my crazy girl, but at this special place Violet comes alive. She explodes with energy and zooms all over the property. It is very nice to watch her run and play like a free spirit. No worries about other dogs, very few restrictions. Just freedom. 

Rolling in something yummy?

Taking a break to munch the grass

*tisk* look at those muddy paws

Update on Gramma's House

We drove up to Bellingham on Saturday to take a look at the house my dad is working on. A bit of progress has been made!

Here's the previous posts for comparison:
 (please note some of the pics and links in the above link don't work secondary to a glitch I haven't fixed yet)

I like the little patio they put in

Not sure what the area has been dug up for. Maybe a patio?

Inside looking towards the kitchen

Looking towards the front of the house

Looking towards the back of the house

Looking the living area towards where the washer/dryer used to be. Now it'll be an office (I think?) and a bathroom

The master bedroom upstairs. It's the southern end of the house with a bathroom and walk-in closet

Looking from the master bedroom towards the landing of the stairs.
Left to Right - laundry room, bathroom, 2nd bedroom