Monday, May 28, 2012

De-treeing the yard

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. I actually worked today, so mine was cut a little short, but don't feel too bad. I chose to work today so that I could use the holiday for another day this summer. We have a family wedding to go to, and I know I will be needing an extra day (since I wiped out all my vacation last week), so I opted to work today instead. It didn't really feel like a work day since almost no one was there, so it really wasn't so bad.

Anyway, in my last post, I didn't mention the atrocity of our front yard. Here's what went down: Next to our neighbor's house is this big tree that gets those helicopter seeds every spring. Well, conditions were just right such that the wind blew those suckers down and then it promptly rained for a few days, and we ended up with a forest in our front yard.

Yup... those aren't weeds. They are trees! Well, this was no good at all. We actually probably let them go too long, so that by the time we were home, it was out of control. So, over a few sessions, I worked on uprooting the trees. Weeding is one thing. De-treeing is much more tedious.

But, eventually our yard was looking a lot better. They still aren't 100% gone, but I can take care of the stragglers as I see them. Plus, it was really, really hot this weekend (What is up with that?). It also looks liked our lilies are about to bloom!

Speaking of blooming, check out the hydrangea! It has really gone crazy over the last few weeks! I might have to cut off some blooms for the house! And I have no idea how the colors turned out so well - some blue, some purple, some pink, but I love it! I hope this continues all summer.

In the same vein, our basil plant (not pictured) is doing really well. I actually planted a few of the leaves from a branch that was dying out and the leaves have rooted and are growing! That's all for now folks.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Muscle, Muscle Man

Hi all! I hope everyone is having a wonderful memorial day weekend. After just coming back from Idaho, we are taking it easy this weekend. I actually have spent most of the day being fairly lethargic, so this post is actually about a project that J worked on, which I supervised. The deal was that I would help him (aka tell him what to do) and he would let me blog about it.

The problem: J bought a pull up bar (see 2 pics down). The thing operates based on the structure of a 36" wide doorway & drywall. The bar that wraps around the frame is supposed to press on the drywall for support. First of all, I told J that the pull up bar needed to go down in the basement. I expect that I don't need to give much explanation as to why. :) This door (below) was the only door in the basement that J found appropriate. The problem is that the frame does not include drywall on the side that expects it for support. In practice, this means that the support bar bends when you try to use it. But... this problem is fixable.

We actually bought our materials for this project weeks ago & it has been hanging out in our basement.

The first step was to remove the existing trim. We tried for the entire top piece, but it was nailed & painted in fairly strongly, so J resorted to sawing off a piece of it.

He then screwed in the blocks of 2 x 4's into the door frame. He needed a double stack to take care of the height.

Once he has screwed the 2 x 4's down into the frame, he used some nails at diagonals to secure them to the studs.

He then nailed & screwed a 1 x 3 piece into the frame (wow, that sounded dirty) as the "trim" supporting piece.


This post makes it sound fairly straightforward, but there was some consternation during parts of the project. Mostly, the consternation involved hand screwing & stripped screws (good grief.. the innuendoes). But, he/we got it done in the end! (I really only offered advice and some cheerleading along the way).

I wanted this picture to be J using it, but he refused, so here I am... hanging. There is no way I can begin to do a pull-up. Nevertheless, the new support works very well and is way sturdier than the drywall/trim configuration that the pull-up bar is engineered for. Plus, all the extra pieces are on the unfinished side of the wall, so no real change to the way the basement looks overall.

Oh, and I totally forgot to mention this in my Idaho post, but we found a really cool rock while we were hiking. I have no idea how this happened (geologists, feel free to step in here), but a strip of quartz somehow got sandwiched between 2 other types of rock. Pretty cool, huh? (Actually, probably not pretty cool, it's pretty nerdy, whatever).

Have a great one!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Okay, I'm going to take a little break from the home improvement topic to talk about our vacation this past week/weekend to Idaho! We primarily went to have the chance to visit my grandparents and for J to finally meet them! They live in Boise, so we spent our first day with them. Then, we went up to one of my favorite places in the US -- Sun Valley, ID. Sun Valley is located east of Boise, pretty close to the center of Idaho, in the Sawtooth mountain range and national forest. It is a resort town -- a ski resort in the winter and a hiking/biking/tennis/golf/swimming/ice skating resort in the summer. Now, we were a bit off of the summer season. So, we didn't have to pay as much for a nice room in the lodge, but we also didn't get all the amenities of the resort -- many restaurants, shops, ice rink were all closed. And the normal summer activities - outdoor concerts, ice shows, etc. haven't started. But, we definitely made the best of it. We were really only there for 2 full days and 2 half days. Our first full day, we biked on one of the many trails in the area, which ended up in Ketchum, Sun Valley's neighboring town.

After we made it back, we had a nice relaxing dip at the pool (heated - temps ranged from 40-70 - apparently in the winter after skiing - it is amazing). We had dinner at a place in Ketchum that the lady at the information desk had recommended.

And chocolates on the pillow at night!

The next day, we went on a hike to Pioneer cabin. Pioneer cabin was built as a ski lodge, but never really used. Instead, it has become a pretty popular hiking destination. It is 3.5 miles to the top and 2400 ft of gain. This makes it steep! Very steep at parts. 

There were lots of switchbacks.

And rocks.

And we got up to the snow.

We actually were completely blocked from the cabin by the snow that made the trail impassible. So, we ended up having to stop within a half mile from the cabin. We were pretty disappointed, but it wasn't worth risking our lives. So, we hiked down a little and stopped for lunch by some rocks.

Even there, there was lots of snow.

It was a good hike, and we were pretty tired afterwards. Here was the view from our balcony (imagine the sand is an ice rink).

Our final day, we went on a small trail near the lodge and got a good view of the village and ski mountains. 

Unfortunately, there were quite a few clouds (it rained for like 10 minutes and was then sunny again). Then, it was time to say farewell to Sun Valley and we went back to Boise to spend the rest of the day with my grandparents. It has been 5 years since I had seen them, and we really had a nice visit!

And then we came back to the east coast... it is unbelievable how humid the DC area feels after being in the west. I think I was so relaxed I forgot about all the pushy people, traffic, and general overpopulation. I'm missing Idaho already!