That’s where I’ve been all these weeks.

While it’s a cliché to talk about the weather, it matters here. We’ve had cool evenings with low humidity, and we know that there can only be a few seconds, last gasps if you will, of this Spring-like weather left before Summer rolls in. For the rest of the country, Summer IS outside time, but down here? Unless you’re in a pool or creek to cool off…notsomuch.

The sticky, humid, broiling, bug infested Summers of the South force everyone indoors, since sitting motionless in the shade, or after sundown may still cause profuse sweating. Ah, 95% humidity…I know you’re coming, and I’m not wasting time. Not. One. Single. Moment.

We installed some outdoor string lights, and it has made an enormous difference in our evenings.  We can see to eat without lighting 20 candles and I don’t have to wear a headlamp to take the dog to the bathroom.  It’s the little things….so here’s just a few snaps of where we’ve been spending all our free time.

Cool nights make for good treehouse sleeping……




I’d say we have eaten 70% of our meals outside this past month….and cooking them out there too.



Happy Summer!

To Do: Patio

Here’s what I think I want to do with the CC’s new cement mixer.  The area known in the past as the ugly poor man’s patio, will be an oasis of concrete circles, like Jenn Ski did here.

photos via Jenn Ski

Wexler House via Housepet via PSMod

Housepet’s patio, image by Housepet

I think a circular firepit should be worked into the plan as well, no?


What do we think Billy?



Will it Go Round in Circles?

All Decked Out

…and nowhere to go.

They built the back deck at the same time as the wood front steps, but I never showed you the back because I wanted to get it all stained and stylin’ for ya.  I honestly don’t know when that is going to happen…so…there.

It rains every weekend that I try to rent the pressure washer to clean the old sections of deck.  When it’s dry, the oak tassels keep falling into the stain…freaking annoying.  I managed to get those front steps stained by some miracle reprieve in nature…and they aren’t even finished…just good enough for a distance photo!

Here’s where we are….or were, and are, this week.

This was taken during inspection….that corner where the hose is?  My nemesis.  We’ve been grading that with mud etc.. to keep water from pooling there, despite the french drains.  Today’s downpour showed us we were FINALLY successful.  WAH freakin’ HOO!  I was hoping for Madonna-esque guns after all that digging…didn’t happen, so I’ll settle for draining water.

There was just a small deck outside the living room, with plenty of mud on either side of it.  Phil/lipa‘s lair was under this small deck.

And that was the other small deck off the kitchen….

We had to tear off the boards of the living room deck in order to get the new siding done, but we kept the structural supports attached to the foundation since we knew we’d re-build it eventually.

We designed the new retaining wall to act as the support for the new deck.  The joists run across to the wall and are supported underneath by the new cinder block rather than sinking tons of posts into the ground.

Now we have an L shaped deck that wraps the corner and connects the kitchen and the living room on the outside.  The dining room is in between with the big windows.

I took these the day they finished, and the snow came the next morning.

Here it is in all its unstained glory…one day, I’ll be able to get this knocked out.

You can see where the old deck ended and the new starts…I’ll pressure wash the old so I can stain it all at once.  We also hope to replace these railings with the hog panels like in the front,  but these were already there and in good condition, so, we kept them for the moment.

I took the pictures below last night so you could see the carpet of oak tassels that are falling on us daily.  It was a nice warm evening and with torrential rains moving in, we knew we’d be stuck inside the rest of the weekend.  No proper cushions yet…

*UPDATE:  Boy, was that rain thing an understatement…things are bats**t insane here

You guys were right – I don’t regret painting the chairs orange

BTW….That fugly lantern? Best commercial mosquito repellent ever.

We should have bought stock in OFF Power Pads when they first came out, because it’s the only thing that allows us to hang outdoors at night without spraying down.  They WORK people…and trust me…we’ve tried EVERYTHING.  I am not getting paid to wax poetic about these things……REALLY.

Getting Closer

The weather has been cooperating lately, so we’ve started filling the beds with dirt, staining the new front steps with the hog panels, and installing a bit of drama in the way of landscape lighting.  I told you we’ve been busy!

We plan to build a separate fenced (deer proof) vegetable/herb garden later on, but for this year, I’m using the new side beds for edibles.  I’m playin’ it fast and loose…livin’ on the edge…risking their very lives.  I HAD to…you see, I haven’t had a garden of any sort other than this for TWO YEARS.

You either get this affliction or you are baffled by it.  Digging in the dirt and growing stuff is something I pschycologically need.  Once you’re addicted, these little pots of methadone don’t cut it.  AT ALL.   My whole lettuce crop in this pot is wiped out by a single salad for 4.

I planted many basic herbs and scattered a few seeds to get things rolling…..IF they survive.  It’s been almost a week and the deer have not bothered them, YET.  I’m planning an elaborate redneck screening device involving bird netting and thick wire in case things go as the CC predicts.  Dill, cilantro and lettuces need the cool of early spring so I HAD to go ahead and plant..out in the open….dain-jah, DAIN-JAH!!

OK…I know I sound like a crazy person, but it is, what it is.  In addition to dangling my herbs out in plain view of the local fauna, I discovered a very welcome surprise in the yard.

Hiding in the scraggled, neglected vinca minor, dead leaves and bare clay…

Is this.  Hint…3 leaves and NOT poison ivy!

Prairie Trillium.  Wahooo!  How could I have missed this last year?!  It’s a pest to some…NOT HERE.  I won’t go on, except that finding something salvageable, let alone exquisite, in THIS yard has been a rarity.  Amongst the miles of poison ivy and dead trees, we have a few of these gems scattered in the forest.  THANK YOU plant fairies.

My horsetail has been ordered for the front bed and should arrive any day, but I was afraid the dogwood will have leafed out by then, and it needed a moment.  So, until a bigger tah-dah is available for the front, I give you a mini-tah-dah sneak peek on the lighting featuring said dogwood.  More to come, I promise.

The Color of Dirt

The first coat of stucco went on…and my heart sank.  It looked pinkish brown…way too much red pigment, so I talked to them about mixing in a bag of black for the second coat….MUCH better. My goal is to match the color of the soil as much as possible so that the wall recedes into the hillside.  When that first coat went on…all I could think about was how many hours I would have to spend staining it to tone down the color….very relieved I won’t have to do that now.

Santa Fe Red!

looking very Santa Fe scary to me here…..

WAY too red

First Coat Stucco

Then the second batch of mortar mix…..

second coat-new mix

new mix color

You can see the difference between the 2 colors below….

contrast 2 coats

When will it end?  Soon..we hope.  Weather has been cooperating so MAYBE by the beginning of next week we’ll be done with all this mess….6 weeks and counting….