Thursday, May 31, 2012


Originally, I was sad to be spending so much money on another retaining wall when there are so many more exciting things we could be doing.

Now that it's done, I'm glad we did it.  It makes a big difference not having to look at all the weird little shed structures our back neighbors have built along the property line.

We'll be planting the avocado and the lime tree back here soon.
Can't wait to do the south side now and have the whole backyard enclosed.  That one should be a lot less expensive since no retaining wall is needed -- just  a fence.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The first summer squash are coming in.  Can't wait for the zucchini.  Yum!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Fence Continues

We are continuing the retaining wall from the north side of the yard to the east side.

This time, we are using steel posts, to help it stand up better to the winds than the north fence did.

Also, this time, the guys are prestaining the wood and then assembling it, instead of staining it after it's build.  We'll see if that makes a difference in its longevity...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Snail's Pace

We've got a snail living in our dwarf lime tree.

He's not eating any of the leaves, just hanging out.  Every day I find him in some new section.  He's about the size of a small lime, so sometimes I think we have fruit ready to be picked and them I'm slightly disappointed. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Color

This is one of the phoenix roses.  It has red blooms.

Below is a picture of the house when we looked at it, before the previous owner dug up all the roses.

Phoenix is to the left of the porch stairs.  Kind of hard to see, but it bloomed white back then.  All of the roses bloomed white or yellow or lavender back then.

BUT, after the owner dug them out and they grew back and we transplanted them in front of the fence, they all started blooming red.

I'm wondering if this is because the roses had been grafted and the root stock was for red roses.

Anyone more experienced than me have an answer?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Mysterious Bricks

The guys are working in the backyard and have excavated more mysterious bricks.

Seems to be the foundation of something.  Our contractor calls it the outdoor kitchen; I'm thinking outhouse.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So Close, I Can Almost Wash My Hands in It

This is the drain for the sink in the basement. 

I feel like buying a special bar of soap to celebrate.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Rob bought brass labels for our plants.  You use a ballpoint pen to "engrave" the name of the plant onto the plate and then stick it into the ground.

Rob won't let me write on them because my writing is so bad no one could read them.  I maintain that the quality of the engraving is so bad, my handwriting really couldn't make things much worse.

That says "margarita bop" by the way.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

And Our Contractor Said...

"Let their be light!"

He had an idea for a lighting experiment way more scientific than ours.

He hung a 4 inch can with a compact fluorescent bulb in our downstairs hallway (left) and a 6 inch can with our awesome LED bulb in Rob's studio (above Rob) and put a shower trim on them so we couldn't see the bulb.

You can tell by how blurry the photos are that the lighting isn't super bright, but it's the same quality as the $300 fixture we saw at Western lighting for, drumroll please, $27 plus tax and the bulb ($25 for the awesome LED and about $2 for the compact fluorescent.)

Hm.  Guess we can afford to light the basement after all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monkey Business

We planted two different kinds of Sticky Monkey Flower in our front yard.  One is a rusty brown and the other is a bit rosy.  We also planted Blue Witch and two different kinds of lilies.  All of them are supposed to be good under Engelmann's.  Boy is it a lot to learn.

We're hoping to have a woodland garden with a bit of a meadow.  Time will tell.  Right now it looks more like a dirt patch with a few green twigs stuck in it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weeds! And Not the Fun Kind!

We hired our neighbor to rip all the weeds out of the backyard.  He's a third of the way done and we're going to be filling the green bin for months.

We're hoping to plant our watermelon and pumpkin patch back here and, when Rob goes on hiatus in the fall, do some serious landscaping.  More on that later!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The devil is in the details.

The trim has been installed at the edge of the ceiling and the antique light we bought has been hung.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

So, nearly two years later Casa de Shithole is now more casa than shithole.  Hurray.

Got a short memory for what it used to look like?  Click here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Plumbing Progress

The pipes are in for the plumbing downstairs and the hot water heater vents have been run up through a wall in Rob's office.

Bit by bit, step by step, we are getting there.

I might have a bathroom and laundry room in my basement in the next month or two.  

Oops.  Did I say that out loud?  Because this time LAST year...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Very Unscientific Experiment

We're having sticker shock over the cost of the electrical for the basement.

First, the electrician's bid came in at almost TWICE what it cost to rewire the whole house and upgrade the panel two years ago.  That doesn't include fixtures.

Second, we want LED lights and the fixtures that give off the warm yellow light we like cost $300.  Our lighting plan calls for 25 of them.  Ouch!

Right now we are using a Philips EnduraLED bulb with a standard base.  It gives off the light we like and, at $25, the price is right.

To see if we liked the way it looked recessed, we took a six inch flower pot, covered it with aluminum foil to simulate the reflective surface of a recessed can and turned out all the lights in the living room.  It gave off a very nice light with a 6 foot radius where the light was strong enough to read by.

Now I just need to figure out some way to simulate a lens covering the bulb.  If we like how that looks, we've cut our fixture cost by over 80%!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Taking Shape

This is the laundry room.  The white tubes are for the radiant floor heat.
It's really fun to watch the walls get framed in.  It's starting to feel like we might actually get to live there.

Strangely enough, the space feels A LOT bigger now that it's divided up.
This will start out as our bedroom, but ultimately will be Rob's studio.