Friday, March 31, 2017

We might need to start building an Ark

At this time of year it is always better to have rain than snow but come on now, this is day three of rain.  I'm not talking about sprinkles or on/off rain but constant steady rain.  All the ACE fetilizer/weed killer has dissolved and the grass is already dark green which is good.

We have been busy with spring clean up.  There were two 12 inch in diameter, box elder trees that needed to be cut down.  A lot people do not like box elder trees but we don't mind them.  The reason we had to remove them was two fold.  First there was something going on with them and the top of each tree would die back and then regrow the next year.  Since we knew that they would not last we purchased sugar maples last fall when they were on sale and planted three of them along the drive way.

R and I cut down one tree last week and have already cut it up and burned the branches and cubed up the trunk for our wood pile.  Once the tree was cut down we noticed the beginning of rot in the very center of the trunk.  That actually made of feel better about cutting it down.

Yesterday R dropped the other tree when it was just sprinkling.  It is so much easier to deal with the tree remains when there are no leaves on the branches.  This tree also had some slight rot in the center of the trunk.

Later on in the spring or summer we will rent a stump grinder and deal with all of the stumps in the yard. It's not difficult just noisy and monotonous.  If you rent late Friday afternoon around 5pm you can get it all weekend if you return by 9am on Monday and they only charge you for one day.
We have been to two Flint Firebirds playoff games.  Exciting games but I will be surprised if they win on Friday night's away game. They are without their leading scorer and the team that they are playing is one of the best in the league.  But we are still very happy that in only their second year they were able to make it to the playoffs.
The SOO Greyhound's head coach (Sault Saint Marie....Sault is pronounced in Michigan it is just call The SOO) had on polka dotted socks.  Very snazzy.

I was at the local wild bird supply store this last week to buy Baltimore Oriole food.  I want to have it on hand so when they show up they can eat.  The lady at the store told me that based on their sightings, they should be here in two weeks.  Based on last year's bird count, they used two bottles of the grape jelly formulated just for birds and did not eat even one orange so I won't bother with that this year.  Also we tried our best to count and we think we had about 10 pairs which was double what we had the year before.

This year we are going to try to build up the blue bird population and try to lure in the crows/ravens.  I know it sound weird but we have quite the group of crows/ravens and I have read how smart they are and if you feed them they will leave behind gifts like stones or shiny bits.  I actually know someone who's grandmother had pet crows/ravens.  Several years ago I purchased a wood platform feeder with a mesh bottom so we need to set that up for them.  I know they love the small fruit that falls off of my fruit trees so I will probably feed them fruit at fruit and then go from there.
We brought out the new large black ceramic pot that I purchased at Ollie's Bargain Center a couple of weeks ago.  I purchased bunny rabbit pot feet off of eBay to keep the pot up off the porch.  Plus they are so dang cute I just couldn't resist.  Looks like I need to readjust the pot and the feet.

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Fertilizing, New Door Mats, New Hosta Bed Prep

Ahhhh.....spring.  We have had some very mild weather lately but unfortunately when the weather is mild it is also raining.  But not today.  It actually got to 72 degrees but by mid afternoon it was starting to cloud up and the temps started to drop with the rain starting later in the evening.  But first we were able to get a few things done.

While R used the broadcast spreader to put down a spring blend (30-0-4) fertilizer/weed killer from Ace I was busy elsewhere in the yard.  Ace is running a sale on their house brand fertilizer and we purchased the 15,000 sq ft bag for $43.99.  Since we have an Ace card we received an instant savings of $6.00 each off of two bags (limit of 2). We needed 5 bags.  We have used this brand for several years and have been very satisfied with it's performance.  In the fall, we use their fall blend and we don't fertilize anymore than those two times.

A decade ago, I had Tru Green fertilize my lawn 5 times a year.  It was needless and wasteful.  I like a nice, weed free, green lawn but I am more mindful of runoff now so as long as my lawn is mostly weed free and green, I am happy.

Last week my sister and I got together for some shopping at a discount store called Ollie's Bargain Outlet.  We were in search of outdoor pots.  My sister recently remodeled the exterior of their house and was in search of black pots similar to the ones I purchased last year at Ollie's.  I bought another huge black pot for the front porch and she purchased two tall slim black pots for each side of the exterior door of her attached kennel.  I need to go and take some photos of her house.  It is very clever how they attached the kennel to the garage side of the house.  It matches their house and can be used by a new owner as an office, hair salon, or even a man cave.

I also purchased two door mats made of rubber.  Oh my gosh, they were so heavy and very difficult to get into the cart.  They are on the large size but I purchased two in the hope that together they would work in front of the patio door.  Each mat measures 24X48 inches.  I was really flying by the seat of my pants because I didn't have any measurements of the step with me.  The mats were only $9.99 each and I knew I could use them elsewhere if they didn't work in front of the patio door.  The photo below shows one mat.
Here is what the two mats together look like in front of the patio door.  Perfect.  They will look better once that nasty door is removed and the vintage doors installed.  It's almost warm enough to rip it out without losing all the heat in the house.
 I have been very good about not buying anymore hostas. At last count I had over 200 varieties and multiples of most of them.  My beds were full and there wasn't any place for new ones except miniatures. I purchased several hostas last year and the year before but that was it.  So I am kind of giddy about the thought of more hosta buying for my new hosta bed in the side yard.
We have also started the dismantling of the swimming pool.  Currently we are removing the slate so we can use it when we repair the sidewalks.  Next we will remove the concrete coping around the edge and remove the two ladders.  The bottom was already jack hammered when we purchased the house.  This pool is old and very deep.  The walls are made of red brick with cement troweled onto the bricks.  It should crumble very easily once the apron around the edge is jack hammered.

You can see where we have been burning branches and twigs in the corner of the pool.   The deep pool protects the fire from the wind and allows us to burn on days where the breeze might make it a no go elsewhere.  

We have had a lot of very windy weather as of late.  I see tarps on a lot of people's roofs.  We were very pleased that the shallow roof over the kitchen, where we removed the rubber roof and installed asphalt shingles, held up perfectly.  We feel that adding the 4th nail and removing the cellophane strip, which allowed the shingles to stick to the shingle below it really helped, especially since the bottom edge of the shingles were exposed to oncoming winds of up to 65 mph.
 The last restoration window for the game room has arrived but they are going to wait to deliver it until we reframe the existing window opening to fit the new window.  I think once this rain pattern blows through, we will remove the window and reframe it.  I will be so happy to see that last rotted and inappropriate style window gone. 

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spring Clean Up but it's Winter

We have been experiencing unseasonably mild weather and decided to make the most of it before it snows, again.

I kept busy by raking out the flower beds and picking up twigs and broken branches that litter the lawn after any windy weather.  R then came along and picked up the piles of leaves and branches.  He has also been working on a big dead stump that is close to the back of the house.

This large tree was cut down right after we purchased the home.  because it had branches leaning on the power line and large dead branches over the house.  The tree was already half dead so the stump never resprouted and slowly started rotting away.  
Last year we hacked at it a couple of times and broke off large pieces.  This past weekend, R dug the dirt out from around the stump and then started using an axe to break it apart.  Then he started a fire with the broken off pieces and over the next two days we burned the stump down below ground level.

We also moved the two large planters with the Alberta spruces, from the back side of the deck to the large step we built last summer.  I need to give those shrubs some love this next summer because they have been neglected the last two years.  I originally purchased them for 2 bucks a piece and they were in 1/2 gallon containers. Oh my have they grown.
They have some bare spots and I think I will plant some petunias around the bottom of the spruces to fill in the area around the bottom.  The planters are from Mayne and can be bought at both Home Depot and Lowes.  We also have a Mayne mailbox post and love it, too.
This is one of the two doors that will replace that ugly slider.  Both doors have been stripped and sanded once.  I will sand once more before they are installed and painted.

I'm not sure yet what kind of door handles and lock sets that I will buy.  I know they will be black like all the vintage door handles on the rest of the doors.  We will make another two sets of faux hand hammered door straps like the ones we made for the garden  shed.
There has been very little snow this winter.  Go figure.  We purchased a newer truck and plow and as soon as we drove away the snow melted and the temps rose.....LOL  So the plow has set there, ready to plow.  

Notice the large tree behind the truck/plow.  It is starting to bud out.  That's not good because if we have a severe dip in temps the buds will be damaged.
It's that time of the year and I recently received my quarterly check from Ebates.  It was larger than usual because I did all my Christmas shopping online and used the Ebates option whenever possible.
My total rebate so far is over $630.00.  Not too bad for basically just going to Ebates and clicking on the store name and then buying as usual.

We are currently under a thunderstorm watch and there is a possibility of 2-5 inches of snow depending on if the warm front stays to the south.  R may get to use that plow after all.

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