Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Great Fig Tree

We have a monster fig tree.

It is prolific, in every sense. Near constant growth. New limbs, lots of leaves and huge crops of fruit:

Each summer, the bright green figs weigh down the limbs, causing them to reach down to the grass.

We don't know much about how to properly prune the tree. I've done some online research, but haven't tried too hard to do it "just right." Evidently, it doesn't really matter how we prune. I prune the tree three times a year, and it just keeps growing!

The snow in this picture helps show how thick the branches are, and how high I cut the branches back when I prune at the end of the summer:

See that big pile of branches? That is from one pruning. And look at the tree- you can't even tell it's been pruned!

The fig tree today, Saturday, April 30th, 2011:

I've lobbied hard to keep the fig tree. I've heard many times that fruit trees add value to a home. Like the rest of the yard, the tree is overdue for a clean-up. We'll cut down one of the three trucks, and give it a major pruning.

Do you have figs? Is it as out of control as ours? Because this tree is getting out of hand!

3 Years in the Backyard

This summer, we'll be working on the yard, so here is a bit about the backyard.

Spending sometime out there today, it was easy to daydream about how nice it will be when we get the yard cleaned up. Between the day we saw the house and the day we moved in (30 days apart), the yard was allowed to grow, unchecked, and was out of control:

Most of the plants went into compost, but others (like the irises, peonies, mint, onions, etc) were given to friends. I do miss the never ending supply of fresh flowers:

...and the rainbow of potatoes:

When we started digging around the yard, we found lots of weird stuff in the yard, like this barrel. Inside, there was a plastic trash can, filled with (you guessed it) trash. How did burying this barrel with trash make sense to anyone?

To make things manageable, I started tearing out plants. I liked the fresh flowers, but without any beds, or mulch, it was impossible to mow or remove the brambles without removing the flowers. Things have cleaned up quite a bit:

The blackberries haven't quite surrendered. They are making their last stand on this fence:

I'm keeping the lillies- these babies grow to about 7 feet tall. I don't have any good photos of them blooming, but they look good in every stage of growth:

There are a few more plants on the chopping block. Including diseased roses, lillies that don't bloom, a Japanese maple, a butterfly bush, the lilac (which I will sorely miss and may change my mind about) and the plum:

Soon we'll have a blank slate. Looks like we better start getting inspired! Do you have any thoughts about what works great in a yard? Any good lessons learned from your own projects? We'd love to hear about it!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Cleaning

You know the button on the turkey? The one that pops up with the turkey is done? That is what I think of when I see dandelions. You know it's spring when they start to pop up.

And you know what that means- spring cleaning. I've never really done this before, and since I've had the time, I really put myself to work with a new vigor and new level of committment to operation "Declutter."

I used some leftover particle board to get all the spices visible:

We went through 3 years worth of magazines and tore out the articles and pictures we wanted. We organized the clippings with page protector sleeves and binders, circling pictures or adding sticky notes to direct your attention. Now, we can find the articles we liked from these magazines, and it takes up almost no room.

We have a huge "donate" pile in the basement:

See anything you like in that pile? Let me know and it's yours!

The hall closet is organized:

... and we moved the bed to hunt down the region's largest dust bunny colony (definitely NOT pictured).

It feels great to make some progress eliminating clutter. It allows us to better enjoy this neat old house, and better visualize our next project!

Caulking Windows/How to Wash Silicon Caulk Out of Your Hair

First, yes, I still blog about the house. Between traveling to visit family and all the spring cleaning, there hasn't been much to post about, or much time to post. Mea culpa! I will try to back track, and catch up on the few little things we've been working on since completing the kitchen. Little things, like, the time I got caulk in my hair.

On the front of our house, we have a few large windows (over 90" across). One is original to the house- it looks great and is solid. The other two are newer, aluminum clad and fit loosely in place. When you touch them, the wobble. The rubber weather stripping is now dry-rotten, and is falling apart.

I decided I should finally caulk around the edges, to help limit the air flow moving through the gaps. I borrowed a caulk gun from my neighbor, and armed myself to do batter.

For the record, I think I'm pretty good at caulking. I once had a job assembling large aluminum frame windows for a high rise, and got lots of practice. I considered staying in IBEW and building a career as a journeyman-level caulker. Yes, people actually do have the specialty.

There I am, in the front yard, caulking away, when I realize something stinks. Not the caulk, something worse. Our dog never uses the front yard, because it is not fenced. But here I was, with dog feces on my shoe.

Oh look, it's on my pants, too. (groan) Wait- why does it feel like there's something on my cheek? (touch) Oh, great. Caulk is on my face. And my ponytail is now caulked to my face. Ever better.

I quickly put away my caulking supplies, left my shoes on the porch and went in to research removing caulk from your hair.

Basically, it's just like removing gum from your hair. You wipe out what you can, the rub mineral oil (I used baby oil) all over the area with caulk in it. Then, soak it in vinegar, and comb/wipe out what you can. Repeat this process as long as needed.

Luckily, it worked. I still haven't finished the caulking, though. I wish I had stopped to take a picture of the caulk in my hair, so I could post it. I'll try to remember a picture next time.

Have you done something similar? Did you feel as ridiculous as I did? I know someone out there has been there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sash Cordless

Finally confident spring has arrived in Portland, I took the plastic off the windows and let in some fresh air- it was great! When the house cooled down, I started closing windows, when: THUD.

Crap. A sash cord busted, and the weight is now sitting in there, not holding the window open.

The windows are due for restoration this year... but really? Dang.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Paint Colors for the TV/Guest Room

While technically a bedroom, we use the space for watching television and hanging out, as well as for overnight guests. Located in the front of the house, we expect that this was originally the master bedroom. It is wallpapered over a smooth finished plaster, and has its own entrance to the bathroom.

Similar to the dining room, we will:
-strip wallpaper and paint
-repair plaster

Also, we're also removing the entrance to the bathroom. The door limits the sense of privacy you have when someone is on the other side of that door, so we'll have to take it out (and reuse it when we finish the basement).

When we painted the dining room last year, we picked a great dark blue (I think it's great, anyway). At that time, we also picked out colors for the rest of the house. I've started to second guess the original palette. Instead of tans and grays, we are starting to look at green/gray colors. Have a look:


The new greens:

What do you think? Should we keep looking?