April 28, 2013

First Day of Yard Work

It's finally spring at the house, and even Leo's excited. We moved his cat tree back into the porch and there he spends most of his time, watching birds and squirrels, thinking about the meaning of life and how he might get more food. The nights are still a little too chilly for him though, so he usually stays out there until the early hours of the morning then comes into bed with us to warm up. 

Here are three photos of Leo enjoying the porch. One was taken at night with a thirty second exposure, during which he held ridiculously still (his lips were sticking out over the cat tree and they caught the light of the night light, if you're wondering why his lips are green).

(The creepy thing was it was too dark for me to see him, so it wasn't until I looked at the picture that I realized Leo was staring at me.)

(This one's a little blurry because Leo tried to punch me, and I had to jump back)

(I edited this one, if you're wondering why it's crisper)
Enough about Leo and back to the title of the blog post. It was the first day of yard work today (I don't count shoveling as yard work) and I worked on turning the garden into a plot of land capable of sustaining life. I put up a fence around most of it to keep squirrels and rabbits away, and will finish the back half once we take the giant pile of crap in this next picture to a rubbish site. 

(We're settlers!)
Of course, the moment I finished the fence, a robin landed in the middle of the garden just to piss me off. And so begins my war with nature. 

It was a really nice day today, and as time went on, it felt like more and more flowers were popping out of the earth. Here's a shot of the little purple flowers. 

(Don't know what these are called, but once the flowers go away we pluck them.)
The nicest thing about spring so far has been the reopening of our patio. Nicki came over and we celebrated the occasion with burgers on the grill along with grilled asparagus and grilled pineapple (that was first covered in brown sugar). Then I burned a bunch of crap. What a glorious day!

(Patio's open for business—just like Wisconsin.)
This post is getting kinda long, but I do want to add a photo of the hops. They've started doing their thang.

(Just twelve more feet to grow.)
That's all for now. Hopefully it doesn't snow now that I've put up a spring post. 


April 25, 2013

The End of Winter?

It's supposed to be in the 60's and 70's this weekend, and it's almost May, but I'm not going to jinx us all by saying we've seen the last of accumulating snowfall. I'm just going to throw up a few photos from the last couple weeks. 

Here are two from April 18th, after 8" of snow:
(Notice the roof-rake marks on the left side of the house. It was that bad.)

(The sun came out, and it was really bright. I sneezed—a lot.)

Here are two pics from April 22, after another 5-7":
(View out the porch door. Notice the snow.)

(April 22nd, while it's still snowing.)
In that last photo you might notice a sculpture I made. It was about five feet high. I danced around it at 2:30 in the morning singing Christmas carols and waving a shovel. I'm hoping that will appease the snow gods, and that they will move to other pastures until next fall. 

Here's a closer shot, if you want to take notes on the design:
(Snow sculpture title: Yeti's Lower-Left Canine) 
Finally, and completely unrelated to the snow, Annie and I made a midnight trip to Cub the other day in order to find a bag of the highly elusive new Lays potato chips, Chicken and Waffle. 
(Taking a sniff before diving in.)
They were maple-syrupy sweet with a savory finish. And there is a strange phenomenon, I discovered, when eating them; you need to eat more than a few to really get a good, round flavor of the chips—but if you eat more than that they start to get cloyingly disgusting. 

So keep that in mind. 


April 5, 2013

Mini Greenhouse Progress . . . Loaf of Bread . . . and Keyless Entry.

Hello World!

(The tall sprouts in back are Kohlrabi)

That's what these seeds are thinking. After only a few short days most of the seeds we planted burst forth from the miry earth to breath in the fresh air. The problem is, the Kohlrabi had to go and get all excited, and now they hit the top of the greenhouse whilst everyone else still needs the cover. I tried taking the Kohlrabi tray out, but they wilted pretty quickly, so I put them back inside. They aren't really a transplant plant, so this was more of an experiment. We'll probably sow some of these seeds the old fashioned way—as in straight into the ground. But the bell peppers, basil, chives, swiss chard and tomatoes seem to be doing well, and with the snow gone from the backyard, I'm sure they will transition to the garden with few problems. Still waiting on the jalapeƱos though . . .

Moving on, the other day Annie's friend came over and I made a loaf of bread. I got the recipe from Chef John, and have used it many times before. It's a beer based bread, and the flavor changes quite a bit with the different style of beer you use. This time I used a belgian strong ale—it turned out well. I've used an IPA and stout before and each tasted great. I wouldn't suggest a light beer though.

(Beer Bread)
This photo doesn't have much to do with the house per say, but I don't feel like starting a food blog, so there you have it. 

However, concerning the home, we added a keyless entry lock to the backdoor, which is uber convenient. Here's a pic.

(New lock on backdoor)

I'll admit this now, since the lock is changed, but our old lock was broken and there were several mornings where I'd leave to go to work and discover the door had been left unlocked all night. Now we just press that button on top and the door locks itself. Like I said, uber convenient. Plus, it illuminates, which is nice since it's hard to see at night. 

(Me installing the new lock. Multiple pitfalls led to a three hour procedure)
So the photo above is not my greatest picture, but it took me three hours to install the lock so don't expect a jolly smile. I'm not Santa.  The problem with the installation was the old lock was pretty basic, and whoever installed it only drilled holes for what they needed rather than drill holes like you normally would for installing a lock. And I don't have those tools, so I had to improvise with a jig saw, file, and spade bit. I'm actually quite surprised it worked, there was a while when I thought we were going to have no lock on the door, and then we'd have to resort to the honor system.

Finally, and unrelated to the title, I thought I'd throw in two pics I took while playing around with my camera. They aren't good or interesting pictures, but the method behind taking them is. Somewhat. I've been trying to use the Bulb function on the new camera (which means the shutter stays open as long as you hold the shutter down—great for nigh sky photos) but I don't have a camera remote. So I would have to stand there and try to hold the button without shaking the camera. And if you want those pictures of the stars swirling in the sky you have to hold the button for several hours. 

So I used a rubber band and a squished jelly bean to hold the button down. It was just an experiment, but here is a picture of our living room at night after a seven and a half minute exposure (with ISO 100).
(Like I said, not interesting)
The only light is from the streetlight a quarter of a block away and the brand name on the TV. Here's another one where I had the light on for just a second, then sat infront of the window for two minutes. 

( A little more interesting, but not by much)
Anywho, when it warms up more outside and I can travel aways away from the city, I plan on trying this technique on the sky to see if I can get some cool night sky pictures.