Monday, September 29, 2014

Painting Project Interrupted

My weekend project was to clean out the closet by the back door, paint it, and get it organized.

What do you think?  It's definitely a long over due project.
However, like normal, this project got interrupted by something more fun. In this case it was a bucket of rose hips I picked a few days earlier.  I'd been cleaning up the yard at my apartments which included cutting back the wild roses.  I try to cut them back and clean them up every few years.  I've never seen the rose hips this thick, or so ripe, so I couldn't resist picking them.
Bucket of  Rose Hips

Then I had to decide what to do with them.  Messing around on line, I found a recipe for Rose Hip Marmalade (Jam)  It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try.

These wild rose hips aren't very big, and I had a lot of them, so it took hours and hours and hours to get them all cleaned.  But boy were they pretty when I got them done.
Cleaned Rose Hips
Then I had to de-seed the 2 quarts of them to use in the marmalade.  And that took many more hours.  But finally I got them done, and cut up the other fruit, and got it all cooking. WOW, did it smell good.  The marmalade is a bit spicy tasting, and maybe a bit too sweet.  IF I make it again, I'll try cutting back the sugar a bit. But I'm happy with how it all turned out, though the whole process took me two days.

Marmalade Cooking
And then I had lots of rose hips left over, so I cooked them down and tried to make some jelly.  That went a bit faster since I didn't have to de-seed the rose hips first.  That rose hip juice is pretty tasty, and but the jelly came out as syrup.  I'm not sure why, but I like to make waffles, so now I have some rose hip syrup to serve with them.
Finished Products
But that still left me with my planned project undone.  So Sunday afternoon I took everything out of the closet and noticed the sheet rock had separated in the corner.  I'm blaming that on  So I got out my roll of sticky fiberglass stuff, and mud and fixed up the corner.
Wet Mud in corner

Then today when I got home, I got the closet painted, with minimal paint splattering.  
Clean painted closet
The paint dried pretty fast, so I put up the closet hanging thingies I bought at Home Depot last week. I got all of my yard tools and chainsaw hung up.  And there is still room for the folding ladder when I bring that inside.  I may eventually add a small shelf, but for now I'm happy that it's all cleaned up and organized.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

GreenGrid Modules on the roof!

Today we got the GreenGrid modules up on the roof.  YAY!!!

Thanks to Greg Collins it was a pretty quick endeavor.  Greg & Terry brought the skid steer up to my house.  We loaded the planted modules onto a pallet.  Greg then lifted them up to the level of the roof, and Terry pulled them off the pallet.  That part took about an hour.

Once the guys left, Valda held the ladder for me.  I went up on the roof, re-arranged the rubber pavers a bit.  Then I laid out more root barrier and put the modules in place.

There are 12 empty modules that need to be planted next spring, so there are some 'holes' in the layout.  I put a few of the pavers in those openings to hold the root barrier fabric in place over the winter.  And the walking path that divides the 2 sections needs to be added.  I hope to get those rubber pavers cut to size and put in place later this month.

And there are 4 unplanted modules on the roof.  Once it starts to freeze (which could be any day the way our weather has been this week), I'll sprinkle the sedum seeds I bought in them, and hope the come up and grow in the spring.  

And we even got a few hours of sunshine.  It was cloudy and cold this morning, the sun 'came out' about an hour before Greg & Terry showed up.  Now it's getting cloudy, should be raining by midnight.  I'm glad I didn't have to get up on the roof in the rain.

Mods onto the pallet

Lift the pallet to the roof

More mods to the pallet

Mods lined up by Terry

Root barrier down

Mods mostly in place.  Empty mods in lower
right corner, waiting for seeds.

Another pic of mods in place & extra pavers filling 'holes' until spring.

Walking path waiting for cut to size pavers

View from driveway - section 1 is 75% done.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sedum Update

Back in June I started planting my first set of GreenGrid modules with a variety of sedums.  They've grown pretty well, I'm happy with the way they are growing and spreading.  Hopefully they will continue to spread next summer and fill in the modules.

Here are a few fall pics, you can see how they've changed color as the temperatures have dropped.  And most of them have bloomed.  Some of the blooms are teeny tiny, but they're really pretty when you take the time to look.

This is one of the Hen and Chicks, looks just like it did when I planted it.

And this is one of the Hen and Chicks that now looks like an
Alien invader or body snatcher.

Pretty yellow flowers.

This one turned a great red, and has a bunch of pink flowers.

Yellow Flowers - and a little bit of thyme still blooming
in the lower right corner.

Fall colors and tiny white flowers.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Green Roof - 1 month updated

So far the my green roof project is going well.  A month after first planing, my plants are well rooted and starting to spread.  In particular the thyme with it's purple flowers are really spreading.  
The violas don't really belong in here with the sedums,
but I couldn't resist adding a few of them.

Purple flowering thyme.

This is only about 2/3 of the modules I should have gotten planted this spring, but it will have to do.  In August I'll get them situated on the roof, then check on them next spring.  Some may need to be replanted.  Once I figure out what survived the winter, I'll start working on the next set of modules.

With some luck, they'll really fill in over this summer and next, and eventually look something like these LiveRoof fully planted modules.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The pain of pavers...fixing a sunken paver walkway and steps.

A few years ago I had a rotten wooden sidewalk and steps torn out at my apartments, and replaced with interlocking pavers.  I though they'd last longer, and be a bit more flexible.  I didn't want to pour concrete because I was convinced it would crack & break up with all the freeze & thaw it would go through.

Anyway, it all looked good the first couple of summers, but then then pavers started to sink down into the dirt, and the steps became very concave.  I spent the last couple of summers trying to hire someone to fix the mess for me, but no luck.  

So I finally decided to work on it myself. I stopped at Home Depot in Kenai and picked up some professional grade landscape fabric and some bags of washed sand.  As it turned out, I didn't pick up enough sand, but I got the 2 worst steps redone, and it really wasn't that bad of a job.  I really hope that using the landscape fabric under the sand will stop it from washing away and/or sinking into the dirt it covers.

Step 1 - pry up the pavers.  Once I can get the first one out, the rest come out pretty easily.  This isn't a very good picture, but you can see that I have about half of the pavers out.  Lots of grass roots to pull out from between each one and clean them up a bit.
Step 2 - smooth out the existing dirt and sand and make a level surface.  Then put in a layer of landscape fabric, fill it with washed playground sand and level.
Step 3 - replace the pavers, in the same order they came out.  The original workmen cut some of the pavers to make them fit.  Since I don't have spares to play with, or a saw to cut new pieces, I needed to fit them back in.  It was much like doing a jigsaw puzzle, with the aid of a big rubber mallet.  

Step 4 - pour some of the sand on the step and brush it around so it fills in any of the cracks between the pavers.  This take a while, but should help keep the grass from growing back, at least for a couple of years.

Here is a picture of the final result.  As you can see the first 2 are looking ok.  They will settle in a bit more the next time it really rains.  The 3rd step currently in the worst shape.  But I'm out of sand so will need to pick up a couple more bags when I'm home next time, so I can finish up this project later this summer.
Here is a picture of the peonies.  Again its a bit over exposed, but I took it with my phone.  I really love this peony plant.  It seems to really like this spot.
And then later this evening when I finally got home, I put up the house numbers I ordered last fall.

Monday, July 07, 2014

New Wall Hanging

Last year when I was doing my Christmas shopping, I came across this site on Etsy.  (Side note:  I do like to shop some of the Etsy sites, you can find a lot of hand made 'stuff' and buy directly from the person who makes it.  There is a lot of junk out there too.)

I really liked all the bright colors, and the texture of the felt creations.  I didn't really need a fancy scarf, but after a few emails back & forth, Agnieszka agreed to make me a wall hanging using some of the colors I really liked.  We had a few issues getting it, for some reason the first time she mailed it to me, my local post office sent it back to Poland.  But I did get it the second time.

Then I needed figure out how to hang it up.  After some looking around I came across with simple quilt hanger.  I'm glad I ordered it, it's really easy to use.
And then I ordered some of the sleeve product.  Today I sewed the sleeve on the back of the hanging and got it up on the wall.

It was pretty easy to hang.  I really like how it looks on my living room wall.  Though I'm thinking I may need to move it up a bit higher on the wall.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Green Roof Beginning

I finally started on my Green Roof project.  It's going to take a few years to get it all done, but I'm doing it DIY.  I'd love to have the whole thing done at once, but I'm going to have to piece it together as my cash flow allows.

The flat part of my roof (over the kitchen & long hallway) has always been planned to be planted.  I found a dealer (Weston Solutions) in Anchorage for the GreenGrid modules who was willing to sell me the empty modules and rubber path pavers (thanks Kim!).  The first set arrived last month.
Pavers and empty modules unpacked.
Then I went to work on the growth medium (it's not really soil).  Unfortunately after several weeks of looking, I couldn't find a local greenhouse or nursery supplier who'd order expanded shale or pumice for me.  So I turned to the internet and found Speciality Soils in Covington WA.  They mixed me bags of 80% pumice and 20% coconut coir, and shipped it to me (thanks Carli!).  
Growth Medium with some top soil added

I need plants that are drought resistant and can grow in 'rocky' soil, and also spread.  So picked up a few at Home Depot, and some more at the Wagon Wheel.   I'm not 100% sure what they all are, but I'm hopeful most of them will thrive.

And I found some of the spunbound poly root barrier I needed on line.  That finally arrived on Tuesday.  I'm going to use 2 layers of root barrier, 1 square inside each of the modules, and then a layer on the roof, to set the modules on.  Roots growing through the modules can damage the roof membrane.
Empty Mod 2ft by 2ft by 4.5 inches

Root Barrier being added

So today Valda came up and helped me plant the first batch of modules.  Originally I thought we'd get 20 planted (The goal is 60 for this summer, but I may not make that one.)  However we spaced the plants out a bit, hoping they will grow and fill in the empty spots.  So we got 37 modules planted.
Planted Modules

Then Valda went and got some row cover she had in her shed and we covered them all.  Hopefully this will keep the moose and the cranes out of them while I'm off to work.

I'm planning to leave them in the driveway until sometime in August.  This will let me check their condition and see what is really growing, and what isn't, without having to get up on the roof a lot.  Then in Aug I'll lay down more root barrier, put the rubber pavers in place, and then install the modules.  We can put 4 modules on a pallet.  Greg says he has equipment that can lift the pallet up to the roof level and we can move them into place.

Much more to follow as this progresses.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May Trip

My nephew Matt got married on May 10th, so mom and I went back to the wedding.  We flew to STL, visited with Katie, met up with Shari and Mark and then drove to Kentucky.  While we were in STL we went to the Basilica and toured the mosaics.  Some were just beautiful.  It's nice to see them outside of Europe.

On the way we stopped at a couple of distilleries, here are some pics I took at Makers Mark.  Boy does it smell good in there, just like fresh bread dough.

And then of course, we went to the wedding.  It was very beautiful but my camera was NOT cooperating.  I only got a few pictures that turned out, and they weren't very good.