Monday, May 24, 2010

This weekend

Swinging single again this weekend due to back-to-back regattas, I picked up where I left off last weekend. I weeded the garden beds, picked up some new plants and got down and dirty in the garden. Unlike the other parts of the yard, I don't have a planting layout for the backyard. I figured I'd try playing it a little fast and loose...picking out whatever looked good at the nursery. I did get a little lost in the daylily section but for the most part, I think I did okay with my selections. I don't have enough plants to fill in the bare beds yet so photos of my landscape design are not yet available. But, I will say that I'm going with a "hot" color scheme. That means I'm ditching the pink and pastels and will be planting reds, yellows, oranges, lime greens and looking for interesting contrasts and textures.

Here I'm putting my best foot forward...ha ha...isn't this a FUN! planter?
Justin and I laid the rest of the walkway to the north side of our yard after work last week. All that remains with the stone work now is the walkway out to the alley.

Here, I've plugged the stones in place with a spot of moss. Someday, it'll take over and I'll just have a moss walkway.

Just for fun: Tink gets comfortable...because really, is there anything more to being a cat?

Last weekend

I've been busy. So busy. Blogging's taken a back seat over laboring so we'll be catching up with a review of past weekends. Two weekends ago, I was a paintin' and sewing fool. I primed and painted some handrail posts.

No handrails yet... or balusters but we're ready for them now.
I dusted off the sewing machine to make these blue cushions for the benches. They needed custom one was selling bench pads with the right dimensions. The pillows were picked up at Target for $13 each....couldn't make them that cheaply.

Meanwhile, during all this painting and sewing, Justin was off winning the National Offshore One-Design (NOOD) regatta as crew on J/24 Hot Pursuit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An update on the stairs

Well, the jury is in and we're getting another stair. We think it will be both safer and more attractive; a winning combo. Justin has a grand plan. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An important question

I'm not sure that this is creating the aesthetic that we were going for, but we now have an intermediate step between the patio and garage. Serves the purpose just fine but does it look right? There's something about our threshold jutting out from the foundation that just isn't sitting quite right with me. So, how do we fix this? Do we just paint the foundation the same color as the siding (eventually the siding will be yellow like the house) and hope that it blends in? Do we find some bluestone tiles that we can affix to the foundation to create the illusion of another step riser? Or do we back out our step and the last foot or so of patio (easier now than later) and create a second step to give our garage door a landing at the level of the threshold? Blog readers, what do you think?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We have had an interesting run with the latest project: stairs. I think you need to have a little more practice than we do to have the kind of success with stair building that Bob Vila has. In a 9 minutes video on TOH, Bob can build three stairs. It took us 16 hours to build six stairs so you can see how experience can pay off--that and good video editing.

It started on Thursday when Justin framed and poured a little concrete pad for the stairs framing to rest. We had all of the right tools to finish the concrete with nice edges and even etched our initials into the slab--even our cat Tink got into the action and walked across the fresh (wet) concrete. On Saturday, we went to the lumberyard to pick up 2x12s from which to cut our stair stringers. It was supposed to be an easy arithmetic problem: height of the staircase divided by number of stairs equals height of the stair risers. But somehow, we had the height of the staircase wrong. Justin had cut three of the five stringers before we figured this out. Bummer. That was a $60 mistake and enough frustration for the day. We closed up early and met some friends for a sunny afternoon party.

Sunday morning, Justin was up early to get the coals ready in the smoker for a beef brisket. Ready to try again with fresh lumber, he cut up the remaining stringers and started hanging them on the joists.

Did I mention that this weekend offered the sunniest of sunny days? Here's a shot of Justin lining things up before he realized that they didn't line up.

Things were cooking along splendidly until all five stringers were installed and something was off. For starters, the whole patio and new concrete pad were not square to the house so the stairs landed a little cockeyed (hopefully this will hardly be noticeable after we get everything trimmed out). Second, the five stringers somehow were not the same despite using one as a template for the other four. So, after several attempts to tighten up screw joints, we opted to try a little kludge that won't be noticeable after everything is finished. Whew! Around 2 PM, I took a walk to the store and when I returned, Justin had cut all of the decking and was halfway into installing it. Around 4 PM, we were cleaning up all of the tools and sawdust and smiling because it seemed like we had built a set of stairs that looked just like we had imagined. So, it only took the whole weekend but we are finally able to descend from our new deck to our new patio without a 4 foot leap!

The finished product! So pleased with the color match we accomplished between deck & patio.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The other half...

Hip Hip Hooray! Well, we're just about where we wanted to be at the end of this weekend. The stones that can be laid are laid. We still have the pathway to the alley to do but that requires some additional excavation before we can get going there. And, we have a little meandering pathway to the side yard to do but we'll need some more gravel to accomplish that. We hauled in about 5 wheelbarrow-loads of compost from our pile in the front yard to fill in between the new patio and the house...something more nutritious for the future plantings than the rocky, clay bedrock-like stuff we have left over from excavating.

Voila! One stone patio made to order.
Now we need to use the upcoming weekdays to recover our worn-out bodies. Too bad it is the start of bike-to-work week and I've signed up to pedal to Bellevue daily. No rest for the weary!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It's harder than it looks, laying a stone patio. The base layer is easy....just shovel the gravel where you need it to go and then drive a compactor around it until it looks solid. The hardest part about the base is lifting the compactor out of your truck when you get back from the rental yard. The sand layer is pretty easy too. Just put the sand where you want it and drag a 2x4 over it until it looks smooth. Yep, the hard part is lifting 2'x3' stones into place and then making them level with all the other giant stones you've laid. This is
the part where you wish you had bigger muscles (or any muscles for that matter). And if lifting 80-100 lbs of stone isn't difficult enough, try re-lifting it from a flat position to shove some extra sand under it when it doesn't match up in thickness to its neighbor.

Screedin' my life away...

So, we're about halfway on this project now. I had high hopes of laying all of the stone today but since the stone thickness varies from 1.5"-2", we've had the tedious job of leveling each piece.

Saturday's progress: