Monday, April 18, 2011

16 Tons and Whaddya Get?!

...Another day older and deeper in debt?  Well maybe, but we sure are liking the results.  It is now time for the grand reveal!  We have been laboring the last three weekends on our backyard garden area, and have some great pictures of the process along the way.

Here is the before, even before we had the trees taken out:

We had three large fir trees taken down on our property at the beginning of March.  We processed probably about 4-5 cords out of it, and still most of the tree in the back yard was still in rounds.  The left over we just posted for free on Craigslist, and people came from everywhere to come and do the work to take it off of our hands.  It was insanity, we had close to 15 calls in 20 minutes of the posting.

Once the trees were out of the way, we got to work.  Materials have included 16 tons of boulders, 16 yards of dirt, 2 yards of sand, and 2 yards of 7/8 drain rock.

We leveled out the back area, moving dirt by shovel, and built a small retaining wall at the front.

Then we finally decided on a layout and measured out the beds and put down weed block.

Next step was to just bite the bullet and start hauling and setting rock.

Then came my battle wound... ouch :-(

 And there was more rock stacking...

And composter assembling...

And finally,  a layer of sand over the weed block, and a layer of 7/8 gravel...the finishing touches!!!  So here you go... a side by side of the before and after.

The last couple pieces will come along eventually, which will include a potting bench and small greenhouse against the back of the garage.

Hooray!  And one other project that I mentioned earlier also got finished.  The mantel!  I need to keep working with the decor on the mantel/bookshelves, but the construction itself turned out great, thanks to a very handy honey!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March - In like a lion out like a lamb?!?

We in the Gross household are already gearing up for spring.  After all, what else is there to do in the late weeks of winter with on again off again snow, cold, rain, and sun?  I've made my first attempt this year at starting my veggie plants from seed.  They sit in the window sill growing ever so slowly under my full sprectrum plant lights to help out with our obvious lack of the big yellow ball in the sky in these here parts.

But in order to be able to put these little guys in the ground we have a lot of work to do!  We even bought a truck off of Craigslist so that we wouldn't have to rely on (pay for) renting trucks or having things delivered (which means we are trying to sell my little Mazda3 *tear... but really there is no need for us to have three cars).  The first step in our grand plans is having some of our massive fir trees taken down.  This is going to happen tomorrow... ack!  I took some before pictures.... I'll post them after the trees are down and I have after pics.  Once this is done we can bring in dirt to re-do our front lawn, and to turn the area behind our garage into a gardening mecca (at least that's how I have it envisioned in my head :-)  Behind the garage, we are going to level it out, put in pea gravel for the areas around raised beds, build raised beds, put in a green house, a composter, a potting bench....ah the dreams go on and on!  And on top of that, Noah wants to put in an outside patio where our cherry tree is currently, complete with a brick oven and firepit!

Phew... we'll see how far we get.

Anyway, here's our new truck to help us in all these endeavors:

Ok, so back to reality, a little recap of the last month or so:

For Valentines Day we went to the Olympic Peninsula and did a little winery tour.  It's always gorgeous over there and we had a great time with our friends Kris and Angela:

Goofing off on the ferry ride over :-)

 Lake Crescent on the peninsula:

We've also finally started building the built in bookcases for around the fireplace... more to come on that as it develops...:

Noah hard at work... what a good hubby!  (And also using the awesome high density foam rollers we found... they're doing a great job of getting the paint smooth).  After the bookcases for the office, I think we are starting to get this down.  The biggest lesson we've learning I would say is about the "swipe".  When painting boards one side at a time, it is very important to swipe the dry side with a clean clith after you've painted one side... otherwise you are left with thick collections of paint on the other side that end up drying and are impossible to sand down nicely to make a flat painted side.

Anyway, that's most of the news for now.  Here's to hoping March lives up to it's catch phrase:  In like a lion, out like a lamb!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Reflections

I was standing in the kitchen tonight cooking dinner and just had one of those moments where I suddenly felt so thankful for the life that God has blessed me with (maybe it had something to do with "Love will Keep Us Alive" playing in the background:-)).  I have a wonderful husband and a great marriage, a close family, we both have steady jobs that provide us with more than enough, a home we own that is warm and cozy, a sweet adorable dog that has quickly become an integral part of our family, a church family that we have become plugged into and are able to give back to the community through, awesome neighbors we love to hang out with....

So out of all that, I finally felt the desire to get back on here and share some things that have been going on lately.  We had so much going on through December, I've needed the last few weeks to recover!  Then I caught a virus which turned into a sinus infection... phew.

To start, early in December for my birthday Noah took me out to all of the animal shelters in the area.  And after many hours of browsing and playing with dogs, we came across Lexis.  A little (or not quite so little) golden gal tucked away in a corner kennel at the Seattle Humane Society in Bellevue.  We had her taken out so we could meet her.  First thing she jumps up, gives me a hug (literally, she put her paws around my waist) and looks up at me with her big brown eyes... what could I do?!  It was sealed from there, but when we went back in the office we learned someone else had a hold on her until the end of the day.... ahhrgh!  To make a long story short, we were luckily there toward the end of the day.  When they looked into her paperwork some more, the people with the hold on her had taken the hold off, they just hadn't updated the paperwork right.  So, it was actually a blessing in disguise because that hold probably kept her from being adopted much earlier in the day!

So, she has quickly become a very loved part of our little family.  Sure, I've had to give up my untainted new floors, a clean, hairless house and clothes, and the ability to just leave things laying around the house.  But she sure makes up for it in love.  Here are a few pics:

Then, it was Christmas.  We had all of Noah's family here for the festivities.  It was so great to have everyone together, as hectic as it was :-).

We had Noah's grandparents:

His Mom and her boyfriend, Sean:


His Sister, Hannah and her boyfriend, Angus:

Hannah's three little boys, our nephews.



And Merrick:

Then Noah's brother Moses:

And last but not least his other brother, Abe:

It was certainly a full house, and here are a few pics of the shenanigans:

Noah had fun with the little boys; tickling them and telling them tall stories so that they were afraid of the Fremont troll.  We ate our way through Pike Place Market.  And of course spent a cozy Christmas morning opening presents and eating Grandma's homemade noodles with Christmas dinner.  There was a lot of 'hygge' in our house Christmas week, and I am forever thankful for the many memories we made. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Costumes and Parties

October was full of preparations and activities.  We went to the Columbia Tower Club for their Masquerade Ball with our friends Rory and Cameron.  It was loads of fun with lots of great food, magicians, acrobats, music, and dancing.  It was quite the extravaganza!

Although half of the fun, of course, was planning and putting together the costumes. :-)  The four of us went as characters from Alice in Wonderland (the 2010 version).  Cameron and Rory were the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen.  Noah and I were the White Rabbit and the White Queen.  We even made our own plaster masks.  At the ball we came in second in the costume contest, so we must not have done too bad! Thanks to the creative genius of our friend Cameron.  Here is a picture of me in the process while we were molding our faces:

It kind of hurt to peel the masks off, but afterward I had really soft skin... must have the same properties as those mud masques!

Here are a few pictures from the night with some new friends as well:

A close-up of me as a blonde and really pale skin... I don't want to tell you how much makeup I had to put on to get that pale!

Once that night was over, it was on to plan the next weekend, which was the actual weekend of halloween, and Noah's 30th birthday.  So, I threw him a big halloween birtheday party at the house to celebrate.  Unfortunately I don't have many great photos, but we had a ton of fun with friends and neighbors... and I kind of went a bit crazy with the decorations, but hey, I had fun transforming our home into a spooky haunted house.  I now have three tubs full of halloween decorations and baking instruments.  Guess I'll have to have a party every year now... oh well!  You are all invited ;-)

Here are a couple photos...