Fall is in the Air

I added another layer of blankets to my side of the bed. A headlamp is needed for flagging down the bus for the morning commute. Plus, our chickens are all in bed by 7…summer is quickly wrapping up.

Thank goodness the house painting is too. We are officially DONE with all the high up extension ladder parts (2 coats), and nearly done with a second coat on the rest as well. My back is thankful for that. Last weekend we went to the fair.

Matt picked up some odd jobs at the winery next door and we are making plans for what comes next, but right now, we feel ready for a break. A weekend surfing should be happening soon, then a weekend away to Port Townsend. We are ready for snuggling down for the fall.

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Summer Wrap Up: Labor Day

The air changed this week in Western WA. Rain returned (much much needed rain), the temperature dropped, and all of a sudden we are back in sweats in the evening. After months of dry and hot, this is a welcome relif. It was such a treat to stay indoors and cook and clean and just relax for snuggle down days listening to the rain.

Except for the fact that our house is not fully painted. Thank goodness for a dry Labor Day weekend! I swear, every year this extra day is nothing but labor on unfinsihed summer projects. The house has one coat on nearly everything, so this weekend was starting on the second coat. And let me tell you, the second coat goes WAY faster! Thank goodness!

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We did an emergency pre-rain harvest of  nearly 8 quarts of tomatoes. The Milanos this year did really well, and are now frozen in fresh sauce form for the winter. We have had a few excellent Old Germans as well. Next year we are planning to prioritize these two varieties in the garden.

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In other farm news, our little flock of hens has been shuffled a bit. Belle, our oldest hen, had stopped laying and she was adpoted into a 1 hen flock as a companion bird. We took the opportunity to add a young Black Marans to keep our lady count at eight. Olive is very sweet but is getting picked on. Hopefully things will calm down when she is a bit bigger. The young hens are laying finally and so production is way up, 25 eggs last week!

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With fall on the way we are in planning for the next round of projects and goals. This past weekend we played around with a new renovation idea for opening up our kitchen and think we arrived on the perfect solution! The goal is to get the large demo and repair done this winter, along with finishing out the basement bedroom, and slowly add in cabinets and tile and more expensive details later. Best part of the plan? No appliances or major utilities to move!

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With all this hard work we are due for some fun. Next weekend we are off to the fair, followed by a surf trip with the second coat of paint is done. In october we are going back to Port Townsend for a weekend getaway (where we were married) and finally Kauai in November! Finally found some decent airfare and booked tickets! We cannot wait for some beach time!

For now, it is back to work and home projects. A final push and our little house exterior will be totally made over!

August Already?!

Where is the summer going? On one hand we have had a lot of time at home. Our weekends have been less busy (no weddings this summer!) and we have enjoyed the slower pace of external commitments. On the other hand we have been SO busy with never ending house projects. Some updates:

House & Painting:

Oh how I want to be painting! We are so close. 90% of the scraping is done, so it is on to caulking, repairs and paint. We have been lucky (?) to have so much dry weather for this particular project but the hot temperatures have made progress really slow. We are making plans to reorganize rooms in our house. The dining room and office will swap, which means we are reassessing our furniture and on the lookout for a new, smaller, cuter office desk. We spotted one on craigslist but were too late to get it. Fingers crossed!

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Garden:

The hard work this spring is really paying off! We are hauling in greens and beans every day, and the tomatoes are ripening fast. The Spanish beans did so well this year. We are picking ½ lb every other day and eating our fill. I hope we can save some to freeze! Squash is slower than I anticipated. Perhaps we need to hand pollinate next year. Overall it was a great first year in the real garden. For the next growing season the focus is building up our soil. It is awful and will do so much better next year.

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Work:

Work is going well for me. I am enjoying projects and leading my team in Seattle. I manage to work from home about once a week and that is a nice balance. The commute into Seattle is wonderful on the new water taxi. The ferry terminal on Vashon is under construction for at least the next year and that makes driving off a bit more inconvenient. Earthquake upgrades are worth it though!

Food:

Our garden veggies are the star of our meals these days. Lots of chard or kale cooked with bacon or made into curry. Salmon on the grill, lots of beans. Caprese salad and eggs are staples too. I have been experimenting with homemade ice cream more and am always on the lookout for recipe inspiration for new flavors.

Cats are great. Rats in the attic are slowing getting picked off one by one with traps. Chickens are doing well too, though are now confined to a smaller run instead of free ranging the yard. We just got fed up with all our plants being ripped up and dirt strewn everywhere.

Travel:

Ah, summer getaways sounds so nice. Right now we are focusing on pausing for concerts in the park and quick trips to the lake to swim. We don’t have any plans but as soon as the house is painted we are taking off for a surf trip to the coast. Making plans for Kauai in November too…

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This past weekend we took a day to celebrate our anniversary in a special way in Vantage, WA. It was 107 degrees but we had a ball and lots of fun images to share. More details to come very soon!IMG_5960[1]

That is pretty much a wrap! We are slowly making friends on the island and that is really, really nice. Hard to believe we are approaching our 3rd wedding anniversary next week!

Lake Retreat

Sunday was hot. We rode our bikes to the Vashon strawberry festival, watched a parade in the shade, then biked home to enjoy rootbeer floats in the back yard. Followed by a hike to the beach at the old gravel mine park. More hot and sunny but much needed not-working-on-the-house time.

Sunday was even hotter. Couch couch for breakfast but it was too hot even to drink coffee. I was watering the garden and we were brainstorming indoor projects when it hit me: we should go to the lake! Matt’s parent’s lake property is a 15 minute ferry ride + 15 mile drive west of us. The thought of cool water and shade and jumping off the diving board sounded so good we dropped everything in favor of fun.

I texted Rebecca and she showed up with her son, Eli. Snacks packed, sunscreen and towels in the car, and we were out the door and in line for the next ferry. (I somehow managed to also throw together a cooked ice cream base and get it chilling so we could have fresh ice cream post-swimming!)IMG_5558[1]

Across the water and through the Kitsap Peninsula and we were at Tiger Lake! An afternoon of swimming and sunning was just what we needed.

Homemade ice cream before bed was not too shabby either.

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8:37 PM, Wednesday, June 10

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I snapped this photo at 8:37 last evening. It is so light out still we can hardly believe it. The chickens can’t either…they don’t put themselves to bed until nearly nine o’clock these days! I love seeing them come out in the dusk light. During the day they take shelter along the edges of our property, foraging under bushes and trees out of the heat and sightline of predators. But, when the glorious time between full sun and sunset comes they wander the lawn; picking up spiders and worms and crane flies as they go. Nine fat, funny, colorful ground birds on patrol. I love this sight.

A Third Summer

This marks our third summer on the island. Our third planting season, our third garden, a third string of dinner and breakfasts outdoors in the yard.

It also means that we are more settled in, and making long term plans when we approach a project. The biggest change in our summer this year is the garden. We replaced the old 20×20 foot garden with a 65×45 foot massive sun filled one! Our summer now includes planning for and cultivating 3000 square feet of growing space! So far we have put in 12 blueberry bushes (5 varieties), 18 tomato starts, rhubarb and are waiting to transplant our strawberry patch. There are 4 fig trees waiting in pots, red currants and a huge pile of seeds just itching to go in. Right now we have two priorities: ripping up sod to make room  for planting and making the fence chicken/cat proof. We used remesh panels for the deer fence because we liked the look and cost, but little critters can still get under the bottom bar and through the 6 inch holes. The old fencing material from the previous garden is small mesh so we are re-purposing it for the lower 2 feet of the new garden and attaching it with tiny zip ties. Perfect!

There is another big project on the summer to-do list: prep and paint the house. I know we keep talking about this, and you are probably tired of hearing about without seeing progress…but it is a big job to tackle! We have scaffolding ready to go, a paint color preliminary picked (but have not settled on a brand yet)…we just need to get started. We finally decided on what paint prep tool we are going to invest in for removing the old paint, and just that decision alone was hours of research and conversation weighing pros and cons. What was the decision? The Speedheater. Factoring in time, safety (ie: lead), effectivness, cleanliness, etc. it won against the other options. So much to do in just 24 hours a day!

Ideally we will also take a few weekends to hike, go surf at the coast, maybe go camping? Hard to say at this point. What we can say: we are thrilled to have another summer in this house!

It Takes Two

As in two times as long to complete a project on a house. At least. I am happy to report that we have only a few hours of detail touch up work and our decks are DONE! Remember last year? Two optimistic islanders bought a cute little house that “barely needed any work”? Ha. We started repair on the rotting deck that summer (remember this Labor day post?) and I am not so pleased to report that we were still working on it on Labor Day 2014. However, it is ALMOST DONE!

Matt being at home has been a great help. Deck progress is being made, the kitchen is cleaner, and we have more time to think about more projects. I am getting overwhelmed with prioritization though. This past spring we tackled a large interior aesthetic project…drywall repair in our living room and basement. All was great until we were washing the deck this summer and realized that the leak that caused water damage (hence the repair work…) was still a leak. So now we need to replace the door to the deck. After three quote and lots of door pricing we have decided to go the economical DIY approach. Stay tuned for details and progress reports. Hopefully this one will be quicker than the deck.

More projects to think about: random little repairs, painting the hall and office, retaining wall in the garden, car port, chicken coop. Did I mention we feel like we have no time?

In the meantime we are figuring out balance in our new routine. Job searching has been frustrating for Matt, and my boss left at work so I am readjusting as well. We are budgeting more, balancing a lot of planned weekends, and feeling the exhaustion that comes at the end of a busy summer. It takes some extra patience, extra love and lots of communication to figure it all out.

Our garden was a great success. Tons of tomatoes, 3 eggplants still to pick, Spanish beans, purple jalapenos and lots of chard, broccoli greens (good braised) and hopefully some Brussels sprouts will start appearing.