Rock garden

Over the past week, we’ve putting putting part of our landscaping plan into action, beginning with the veggie garden out front. We are pretty sore and beat up after carrying a few tons of stone, mortar, gravel, and soil all over for a few days, but today we finished! The soil was delivered at 8:00 am and we finished and went for a much-needed swim at lunchtime. And then planted some seedlings that friends kindly gave us. Adding about 18″ of rock wall is a big job, and we’ve now got the sore arms and backs to prove it. Plus scrapes and bruises – so many scrapes and bruises! The garden was loosely based on a keyhole garden design, but larger and we skipped the composting part – which is really what makes it a keyhole – but there are too many foxes, groundhogs, etc. around to be composting in the front yard. However, it was great inspiration for the overall style.

I have a problem.

It is called, I cannot control myself at plant sales once the nice weather hits. I am supposed to be waiting to finish up the landscaping plan, but alas, who can resist the super-awesome master gardeners who sell things they dug from their yard for $1? Or the good local farm that sells plants to benefit community sustainability? Here are some of the manifestations of my problem so far:

In clearing an area for a secret special project (more soon), we also had some soil to get rid of, so I revamped another pocket garden in the back yard – off to get some herbs tomorrow to fill it out.

Greene and Greener

We not only finished up the railing–installing the bell we rescued from this cabin, sandblasted, and repainted–but also finished the side stairs off the porch today. We took a page from our last house, and riffed off a Greene and Greene style set of steps we loved in a bungalow book, and made using square risers at the old house. I cannot find a photo of the originals, but they are somewhere in Pasadena! The stairs are a perfectly simple design, no stringers, and you have to use beefy lumber. Here we used logs, but of course! Our stairs were absolutely free except for a few screws, since we used short log scraps and hemlock scraps from previous projects. We love a cost-effective, custom project! A lot of site work, gravel hauling, etc. has occurred prior to today, making this all possible. As a bonus, we originally planned and mocked up 3 steps but ultimately only needed 2, so the extra top step was fashioned into an awesome plant bench on the porch, housing my collection of mid-century pots.

Summer kickoff

Busy weekend! We are kicking off this summer with a lot of outdoor work, including finally installing that second railing:

And a whole lot of digging (KJ was a monster with the digging bar and pickax)! 

This is only the beginning of many ditches and excavations. We were stoked that the buried ‘treasure’ (aka garbage) is down to just an old penny and an allen wrench at this point. No more buried inflatable rafts or couches. 

The area above will soon host our new porch side stairs, already in progress:

We also snuck in some gardening and of course dog walking. And Bisbee inspected the garage roof from the nearby boulder:

More to come later this week after gravel is delivered.

Guess what? More log stuff

Log work seems never ending. Which is good, because it’s the most fun part of this house rebuild, in my opinion. Over the past week or so, I’ve peeled a pile of log slabs we bought for $10 (yes – $10 for a pickup full!) from a guy with a mill last fall. Since I was on crutches and they were very difficult to peel, they basically sat out all winter and waited, becoming far easier to peel after being subjected to snow, rain, freeze, thaw — all that good stuff a Maine winter throws at you. Blogged about these guys last time:

And log slabs at the ready for final garage trim next weekend.

Once peeled, it was a pretty quick job to clean them up, cut to length, and use them to first trim out the garage door (couple weeks ago – we did this with live-edge boards that came with the slab pile), then today, nail up the rounded log slabs to form the corner trim of the garage. A little trompe-l’oeil, it makes each corner appear to actually be a log. In each set, we were able to use a slab that had had a long rip cut on one edge, and a fully rounded slab, mated at the corner. We then planed or chiseled away any extra to round it over, put a line of log caulk down the seam, and voila! Ready for stain the next time we have a good long stretch of warm weather.

Finally, we went out to the muddy field again where the log guy has a big pile of cedar, and picked up the last long skinny log we’ve been waiting for, to finish up the second stair railing. Project for next week.

One long, skinny log!

Ready, set, spring!

It warmed up quickly – it was over 70 degrees today! We are turning our attention to finishing some last leftover winter jobs, and planning for summer. In addition to a nice short hike this weekend, we also checked out the lake, started cleaning up the yard, killed two mosquitoes already, picked out a few damaged trees for cutting in the coming weeks, and finished up trim around the interior rafter tie logs – a last area of the ceiling that had a really rough transition with the drywall. After looking at the ugly, jagged holes for a couple of years, I finally figured out how to cover them up: I made leather ‘boots’ custom fit to each one. Inexpensive, forgiving, and it turned out to be a quick job. Much quicker than trying to carve something out of wood or custom creating a metal strap. Finally, I got to strip bark off a bunch of log slabs we picked up last fall, that we’ll install on the garage corners to make it look more at home with the cabin. With any luck, we’ll install them next weekend. The goal is to finish up a number of jobs before I go on my summer schedule and have much more time to devote to the big jobs.

Live edge

Today we snagged a couple of hours to finish up the garage door. Forgot to get the weatherstripping on the first trip to the local lumberyard, but after two trips (first one to pick up three lovely rough sawn hemlock boards), we did it! We had some great live-edge slabs from a $10-per-load craigslist find last fall, and used them for the outer trim. We just need to hit it all with some stain once the weather is warm enough. Nice to cross this last bit of carpentry off the garage punch list.


Where did winter go?

We had a ton of snow! All at once, then it was gone the next week. This was a totally crazy winter – cold, warm, cold, warm. We’ve mostly been busy with lots of little projects, and then picked up a couple of side projects too. Here’s the update, for those who are keeping track.

  • Finished wiring the garage, and we have lights! We found excellent motion-sensor lights that can take an LED bulb, and K re-wired some lights for inside that he got for free from a friend. We added LED bulbs to these too. Photos next time…
  • Played in the snow, while it was here! Dogs loved it, and K got a new (old, 1982) snowmobile. The garage worked great as a workshop (duh) to get it in good running order. Sadly, snow disappeared as fast as it came, so no major rides yet (boo!)
  • Got a pinball machine. Project for summer – too cold to do dainty little wiring right now.
  • Worked on finishing up our huge punch list in the house. There aren’t pictures – it’s pretty boring stuff! A bit of missed caulk here, a paint touch-up there. But it’s good to get this stuff done before it warms up and we get going on summer projects.
  • Marched! In Augusta, Maine.
  • Got all our stuff out of storage. We gave ourselves a year to do this. Almost met the deadline – I think if I hadn’t been on crutches, we’d have made it. Done now – no more stuff in a wallet-depleting storage unit, thanks to just a bit of space in the loft and some in the garage. So many tools were hiding in that storage unit! Funny story, though – we arrived to get the very last piece of furniture out, and the storage facility had changed owners – they moved our furniture out and we arrived to find it empty! After a panicked phone call, we found our item, loaded it up, and off we went.
  • Finished the loft! Did we ever post after pictures? Will do that next time. It’s a snug little hideaway.


Off the rails

Busy week. I am back at work now, so we are an evenings-and-weekends type of operation for most projects now. But, we did manage to install the railing in the loft this weekend, and did some other detail work to nearly finish it up. The railing seamlessly integrates with the steel downrods we used to help support the large logs in the living room, and we think it looks pretty sharp. Kee Klamp is really the best place for railing fittings, in case you are ever looking!

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Zero car garage

So, we built a garage, but not to park our car in it. Rather, we needed a place to store a lot of tools and materials, since we have no storage in the house and no workshop space. We’ve been steadily going through all our tools and various other stuff to finally get the workshop in order, and finished up today! Our goal was to go through every single drill bit, chisel, saw blade, screw, and staple and only keep the best and brightest, organizing it in a way that would make Norm Abram proud. I think we did it! Here are the glamour shots, before we make a bunch of sawdusty-mess in there.