Monday, August 8, 2011

Roof! Roof!

Our kitchen is starting to fall into place. Slowly we are getting the walls prettied up and getting the rest of the flooring into place. The flooring that we choose is Traffic Master - Alure Ultra. They are 48"x7.5" pieces of vinyl that snap together. Very durable and it looks like real wood! I just have to get up in the attic and move some electric moved around, finish wiring a light switch and a few boxes, get some drywall up and we're pretty much done. Eventually, probably more in the dead of winter, we will complete the floor so that it extends into the guest bedroom down the hall.

Did I mention that we have been replacing our roof? Our current shingled roof has been getting messed up in the recent wind storms and there are a couple of leaks in the lower roof over the band room. The roof is in desperate need of repair - I've been up there so many times to replace shingles and it was just getting worse. Shingles are being blown off .. leaks .. time to replace the roof.

We did some research and decided to go with a steel roof. After doing some shopping around to find companies who would come out and do the work and considering our budget, we decided to do it ourselves along with some hired help and bartering.
It took us a little time to get the hang of what needs to be done, but I feel that we are gaining momentum. Here are some shots of our "practice" roof. The hardest part seems to be the prep work that is required before you can lay boards and doing the valleys. The ridges are a little tricky, too. Pretty neet material to work with. It should all look pretty good when it's done - and I won't have to worry about it until forever.

One of the really nice things about this roofing system is that we don't have to a tear off of the existing shingles. The boards can be applied directly over the current roof. :)

So, with all of this house building going on, you can pretty much guess what is happening to our poor garden. I do plan on having a good guerrilla weeding session SOON!!

Our grapes are coming, though! Next year .. less house work stuff .. more grapes ..

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Devil's Kitchen

So, we thought we'd tear apart our kitchen and build a new one. My parents have new cabinets and said they'd kick their old ones down to us. We hated our old kitchen and decided to get a dumpster and kidnap someone to help us tear it all out!

Here is a panoramic shot of the kitchen with most everything ripped out. Where the light is was where a bathroom once was. It was one of those 3/4 units and it was just taking up space and it just ended up being a repository for things we couldn't find places for, which is usually a sign that you need to do some serious throwing of stuff away.

Say hello to my leetle friend!

Often in my house refurbishing projects I like to leave a message for future generations. Somewhere in the attic I have left cryptic messages about 2012. In our bedroom somewhere up in the attic I left some messages about a hidden treasure located somewhere on the premises. Here, I just want to save my own soul from being cursed by the next potential owners of this house that if perchance they thought our kitchen sucked and wanted to throw it into a dumpster, that should they discover the crude construction of some of it's walls that I personally would not be blamed for the foul order of things.

This is where old kitchen cabinets go.

This is where non-burnable kitchen refuse goes. This thing was filled to the hilt when it left our property.

Here is a panoramic shot of the kitchen in a much better state. We've built new walls, ran new electrical circuits and prepared the floor for finishing.

While the other house projects have grown and taken precedence, the other projects that I usually prefer to handle have been put on hold somewhat. Finishing the greenhouse most likely will not happen until mid-fall, when we hope to be able to get our cold weather crops in there along with some custom made cold frames.

On a whim I was tricked into starting to work on a new set of raised beds. I should have known that there was no way that we would have enough time to even think about a reasonable design, let alone actually doing the work of prepping and build the raised beds.

These new raised beds will be terraced and will contain bushes of some sort. We bought the bushes as well, but haven't been able to do anything with them. We'll probably just pot them for the season and replant them next year when we have time.

My hops is still going better then ever! We'll see if I have time this Fall to brew some yummy beer. :)

Various beans and peas and weeds.

Peppers and eggplants along the paths and beans on the right.

Mmm .. string beans ..

Pepper plant getting ready to go!

Currants! We have 4 currant bushes. Every year we are getting more and more currants. Eventually these guys get pretty big I am told, so that is what I am looking forward to.

Inside the greenhouse, we have two grapes vines that are kinda getting out of control. Next year or this fall we need to clip them back and maybe extend where they can grab onto. The grapes are numerous and are looking pretty good! I think next year I would like to try and put more grapes in right behind the dome.

It was the 4th of July and the kids wanted fireworks! And so did I. :)

Oh yeah - our kitty had kitties. We kinda let her have kitties as an educational thing for our kids. It was very educational in a veterinary medicine kind of way because our kids watched the entire process. My wife helped one of the kittens out by removing the sack that it was stuck in. Pretty real, gritty stuff!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rapture Food!

Waiting for the rapture can make a guy hungry! That is when I decided to cook up something that was hotter than hell and a little smokey, to get me prepared for those enternal flames!

I started with some Spanish Rice. About 3/4 cup of white basmati and 3/4 cup of brown rice, sauteed and lightly browned with 1/2 a medium red onion on a medium heat. Crush in 4 gloves of garlic after about 5 to 10 minutes. Later I'll add pureed jarred tomatoes, veggie boulian, paprika, cumin, black pepper and chipotle powder.

I backwards engineered a recipe that my friends Stef and Jimer turned me on to, which is a salsa/chutney made of carrots, red onion, ginger, lime, pineapple and habenero. I am going for more or less the same thing here, except I am using a bag of frozen yellow pear tomatoes from last years garden.

Put that whole mess into a blender ..

.. and put it on the stove to simmer and render down a bit. Also present is an enchilada sauce I whipped up from jarred tomatoes from last years garden and the Spanish Rice. I cheated on the enchilada sauce and used one of those French's taco seasoning powder mixes with my one quart of jarred tomatoes. In my defense, I would like to say that I did customize the sauce by adding about 1/4 cup of diced red onion, basil, oregano and black pepper to dress it up a little. Another quart of jarred tomato, the spices and about 2 1/2 cups of veggie boulian went into the spanish rice, we're it simmered until the rice was done. I put in a little extra salt I think, too.

Most of the pots stayed on the stove all evening while we we're out weeding, being stirred every so often. Then, I threw together enchiladas that had chili and kidney beans, cheddar cheese, and a line of that enchilada sauce on them. The enchiladas we're then drowned in the rest of the enchilada sauce and covered with cheddar and set to bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, when the cheese begins to brown.

Serve the enchiladas (forgot to get a picture of that) along side the rice with a tablespoon of sour cream or plain yogurt with a laddle full of the pineapple/ginger/habenero/pear tomato salsa/chutney over the top of the enchiladas.

This may very well be the best cooked meal I've ever created.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No lack of work - continued dome coverage, the garden begin, adventures in forestry. And Halloween!

Mt. Horeb is a neet little town. It has all the charm of a nice touristy town with no lack of gift and antique shops. I imagine it is a little of what living in Sturgeon Bay must be like.

However, the entire area is pretty special to me. They say there are several Wickan organizations in and around the area. Our township is quite progressive and politically active, which I like. There is just a certain kind of vibe that I get and that feels good to me, it resonates with me.
They do up Halloween pretty good, too, which I attribute to that bit about the Wicken vibe that I alluded to.

I found these photos on my camera that I finally found. These we're meant to make it to the blog long ago, but it never happened. Now, at almost the complete opposite time of year, I thought it would make for a good contrast.

Cool, huh? I'll do a better job of getting more next time.

Back to our place. The kids got a new trampoline! It was for Aiden's birthday I think. Or Lillian's birthday.

Progress on the dome paneling is still progressing slowly but steadily. Recent I cut 20 more boards, which are almost mounted. Mounting the boards is usually easy to do with only the occasional need to cut a little extra off of one of the tips. It's a lot of up and down on the ladder.

My latest project is to clean up the forest. This means cutting up fallen trees, cutting down and cutting up dead tree and generally cleaning up the path. One of my intents is to open space for a forest garden, which would consist of raspberries and various flowers.

Thanks to my friend Patrick, I was able to get a good start and a good education in chainsaws, which I appreciate very much. Thanks, Patrick!

More cut trees ready for processing. Kinda makes me feel like GDubya .. cuttin' brush .. heh heh ..

Here is an area I have been clearing of brush and useless sumacs. There are some impressive wild raspberry canes back here that I am eager to have exposed. Ideally, this area will be great for raspberries when I'm through.

This year our rhubarb is really kicking ass. Last year is just kind piddled out and didn't produce much, but this year there is quite a bit. Since moving out here, I have acquired the taste of rhubarb. You know what would be good?? A rhubarb chutney! Or my friend, Dr. Dave, makes this ghost pepper strawberry jelly that is just out of this world! Rhubarb and habenero something or another .. now THAT would be good!

New rows of beans going in.

Here is my hops trellis. I am happy to report that this year the hops is really taking off.

Here is a close up of the hops. We need to weed around it, but you can see it's making it's way up the cable.

Inside the dome, our grapes are starting to flower. We we're bad parents and have not trained these grapes properly.

Apple blossoms.

Here, Jason has dug a trench, loaded it with compost and is putting the soil back over it. Then, we will be putting in more beans and peas, which should appreciate the compost beneath.

More of that trench.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Dome Action

Spring is finally here! And I hope that I can get enough time to get what I need to get done with the dome before Fall hits again! I swear, I've had this recurring dream where alluvasudden it's Autumn again and it dawns on me that we haven't gotten the greenhouse ready for cooler weather and we barely even planted for Summer!

So, the thought has been turning in my mind about how best to cover the dome. If I we're to build another dome, I will do it with 2x4 boards with maybe PVC connectors. This would have given me an easy surface to attach paneling to, but instead I built this dome out of electrical conduit .. pipe. How do you attach flat paneling to a round surface like conduit?

The answer is above. Or, one of the answers is above. Perhaps the wrong answer is above .. that is the wonder of science and of trial and error. I think it's going to work out, though.

Each conduit strut on the dome will have one of these mounted on it. The channel on the bottom is where the conduit will fit into. The other side provides a surface to mount the paneling on. Each end of one of these boards is cut with 36, 30, or 27 degree angles depending on which conduit strut it is covering. The top surface is planed along the center at 10 degrees. Additionally, each tips' angles are also cut with the table saw blade at 10 degrees.

Here, we can see the dome with a good number of these boards mounted.

A view of the mounted boards from inside.

Your's truly, setting up to cut a triangular panel to be attached to the top of the mounted boards.

Me again, up on the ladder fastening a panel to the mounted boards.

There is a little slop in this process. Like Dad is fond of saying, we're not building a clock. But, there is some precision that must be put in place to at least get a feel for what the general tolerance of the structure is.

To cut 15 of these boards it takes me a little over 4 hours. Probably another 4 to 8 hours to get them up there, paneled and sealed. At this rate .. I figure I should be done-done by mid Summer.

A friend of mine asked about the material that I am using to do the paneling. It is called Solexx and it is truly magical material! Here is one roll. The other is still sitting in the front of my house so as to keep the neighbors and passers-by continually confused and perplexed.

More to come ...