June 28, 2013

Garden State

I just realized that I forgot to tell you all about my favorite place at the house these days... my garden.  You may remember that last year I busted my little preggo butt to make some raised cedar beds.

It was a lot of work, time and money, so I took the garden in stages, leaving this side of the space with a little to be desired.

The three smaller square boxes on this side worked well for squash and melons, but I discovered that I actually get some of my best sun over here, so I wasn't making the most of this space.

So when the snow FINALLY melted this year, I decided to take on the second half of this space.  Boden helped.

Babies in hats.  I die.

I started by taking apart the 2' x 2' boxes I made last year, and using those as the ends of 3 new boxes, these ones 2' x 8'.  I followed the same plans as last year, making two 2' x 8' boxes:

And then attaching them together with 18" cedar stakes:

I also had enough wood to make one 4' x 4' box, which I thought would work well for squash.  Once they were all built, I laid them out in the space to get the perfect configuration and spacing.

Once set in the location, I dug holes for my stakes, and made sure they were level.  By this point Bo was sleeping and it was Ryder's turn to help.  DIY is a family afair.

With four spanking new cedar boxes up in the space, I couldn't help but be bummed about how much my pretty cedar wood on last year's 3 boxes had faded and grayed over a season.  I know, I know, it's just a garden, and it shouldn't matter what these boxes look like, but I'm nothing if not obsessive compulsive.  In the end, I couldn't help myself, and I got out the power washer to clean them up.  I love me a good power washer.

The stakes I used last year were already stained a natural cedar color, but after a wash the rest of the wood looked great.

Then, putting way too much work into these guys, I pulled out a gallon of wood toned stain in natural, and brushed on 3 total coats.  On all 7 boxes.  My name is Erin and I'm a compulsive DIYer. 

On last season's boxes I tried to pull the dirt back from the edges a bit to stain the inside edges.

 One down, 6 to go.

Crazy.  But totally worth it.

On the forth day it was time for the hard work, hauling 64 bags of manure, top soil and mulch back from our driveway.  I'm not kidding, I took those bags on my back two at a time, and ran them up the hill, across the backyard and up the steps to the garden platform.  My neighbors think I'm insane. They're not wrong.  I just called it my daily crossfit workout.  But look how awesome it turned out.

 And that was about a month ago, you should see my magic little garden now.  But first, let me take you back, waaaay back, to where this little useless platform started.

And here it is today:

Back from the other side of this bare waste of space:

And today:

Not only does this space look pretty, but it tastes yummy too.  Or at least it will be, once the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, sugar snap peas, green beans, carrots, onions, sweet peas, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, raspberries, rhubarb, cucumbers, spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, basil, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint, lavender and chives are all ready to pick.  

Whew!  Overboard?   Maybe.  But we're going to be eating well this summer and fall.  And in the mean time I can walk up those steps to this sweet little platform, and I'm in my own little special place.  You can find me out there during nap time catching some rays and sipping on a Summer Shandy.  Heaven.

June 6, 2013

The Wet Bar Finale

My Mother (hi Mom!) kindly informed me this weekend that I'm really dragging out this Wet Bar thing.  She has a good point, so let's finish up this thing already- shall we?  If you remember we've turned this empty space:

To this:

And after a little plumbing and install, we have this:

Let's start with this beauty of a faucet.   We found it on Amazon with great reviews, and it had just what we were looking for; minimal profile, single handle and brushed nickle finish like the sink.  Bonus: the water flows out of it in this cool rectangular shape.

The process was pretty easy.  After three bathroom remodels doing it wrong, I finally learned my lesson this time around and installed the faucet before I installed the sink so that I had plenty of room to work underneath.  Once the faucet was in and secure, I dropped in the sink and attached it with the handy little clips that Ikea provides.  Then I just needed to install the drain and trap plumbing.


See that black line coming in on the right of the drain pipe?  That my friends is our handy little beer drain line, for this guy:

The tower for the tap line actually came with our keg fridge, so we just removed it and attached it to the counter top. For the drain we found this pretty guy on Amazon. 

In the past our keg fridge just had a plastic tray that sat on top to catch any spills, and unless you removed it & washed it each time it was used, it got pretty disgusting.  So springing for a version that could drain directly into the plumbing line (via a dishwasher pipe and hose) was totally worth it for me.   You can see below that the beverage cooler we purchased is just low enough to allow for this drain tube to connect under the counter and run into the adjacent cabinet.

 I plan to cut and paint a trim board to cover up this small gap above the fridge, but apparently I was already dragging this out, so I'll just have to show you that update later.  Added bonus of the beer tap drain: it doubles as a drying rack when not in use.

You may recall that we decided to store the actual keg fridge in the Cat Closet right next to the bar, since it was huge and had seen better days.  Forgive the mess of storage behind it, I promise that these items are placed at least a foot away from the fridge to give it adequate ventilation, it just looks like more of a cluster in this photo.

We insulated a longer line with plumbing insulation from Home Depot and ran it out of the hole in the top.  I know the top of the fridge is gross, sorry.  As I said, it's seen better days.

See how it runs across the bottom on the sink cabinet on the way to the tap?

Once everything was installed we added a few things to the cabinet to make the most of the space.  A bag for recycling and a trash can right down here keeps the mess to a minimum, and the organizer on the door holds a dishwashing wand and a bottle brush to clean wine glasses.

And that is (finally!) the story of how we took a blank and useless space and turned it into a 4'x4' square of function and style, not to mention yummy goodness. 

We've got a little decor and accessories work to do, not to mention the big Family Room reveal, but for now I'm just enjoying this fully functional space.  Anyone else adding function to a previously dead area of their home?  Doing a little minor plumbing work?  Classing things up with a keg in your basement?