Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sunspot Moments

The Sun Seeker

Freyja likes to follow the sunspot rotation schedule daily around the house. About 10:45 AM, there is a nice bright sunspot square on the couch.

Caught in a silly pose while grooming

Monday, September 1, 2014

Camp Helen Walk

We spent Labor Day morning at Camp Helen State Park. By the time we finished the nature trail and the walk to and from the beach, we were sweat drenched and parched. And I was worried about not getting much of a workout there, so we didn't bring any water with us. Psh, Dummy. Walking through sun-cooked loose sugar sand gets me every time. It was nice walk regardless. It is still very much summer in PCB.

Remnants of an old pier destroyed years ago by a hurricane

See the tiny white blooms on the long vines?

Deck Saga

We thought in the summers we would focus more on indoor projects and outdoor projects in the winter in Florida, but we have done mostly the opposite so far in 2014.

Lately we have been making nice progress on the deck outside, and when I started to make a post about it, I realized I haven't really mentioned it on the blog. The deck area has been one of those projects, like most of our projects around the house, goes in fits and starts. We get uninspired with one, we work on another for a while. Eventually they get done. Probably not the best way of doing things, but fits us. :-)

So I dug up a dump truck load of pictures to bring you all up to speed...

This was shortly before we closed on the house. The east wall of the house, facing the creek. Lots of brush and vines encroaching from the creek.

Overgrown shrubs on the east side of the, blocking half the deck walk way.

About a week after closing on the house, general bushwhacking begins around the east side and the backyard. May 2013.

The back deck isn't as warped and rickety as the walkway part, but it was built uneven and sagging between the joists.

Winter of 2014, with the help of my wintering parents, we clear out a ton of brush and vines from the creek and reclaim our lawn along the slope to the creek.

Clearing away some of the claustrophobia of brush around the house, our sad & dangerous deck needed some love.

Zachary started pulling up the deck around March. Realizing a lot of the wood was in fair condition, just weathered and poorly constructed, Zachary power washed the boards and set aside the good boards for reuse.

Changing the foot print of the original deck slightly, connecting it to the wall on the east, instead of a separate walkway and widening it. We also made the deck all one level inside of 3 levels like originally.

By May, we used up the good salvaged wood from the old deck.

Zachary met plenty of these digging around the old deck...

In August we started up the deck project again, with a load of new lumber to finish the floor on the east side.

(We will address that growing brick structure next to the deck in a future post) :-)

After finishing the floor, Zachary got the idea to build a side cabinet/workstation for the brick barbecue that is being built in the corner.

Using more reclaimed wood, including the cedar car siding that was in the living room originally, he turned it around for the exterior of the cabinet.

Only having to buy the 8 tiles for the counter top, we only spent $20 for this outdoor cabinet. We had the rest of the materials on hand from other projects.

Right now the tiles are drying on the thin-set mortar and will be ready to grout in a day or 2. Florida humidity slows down the drying times around here. Once the tiles are done, add edge trim to the counter, and the deck flooring and cabinet will be ready for deck stain. 

We are planning on building a railing along the east side of the deck, along with stairs at the end. We are also considering building some sort of arbor/pergola over the east side of the deck to tie both together, so once we get a design in mind for that, we will continue the deck project.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Little Projects

We have been busy with a few little projects around the yard and house lately. One is taking care of some annoying wiring. Zach pulled off sections of the exterior temporarily on the east and west wall of the house to add in outlets in the bedroom, run networking and HDMI cables. 

Another project is reclaiming our creek from overgrowth. We cleared a lot of brush from here this winter with help of my parents. This spring and summer the weeds came back full force. Right beyond the green clump ahead, the creek widens and gets deeper and the weeds disappear.

Clearing our side of the creek along the driveway revealed our sad looking retaining wall. We have some erosion problems in the front yard and sand likes to wash across the driveway. We figure on replacing this retaining wall this winter when it is much cooler. That will help hold the soil in place.

We also cleared the tall shrubs we had between the tall cypress and pine trees along the driveway. We would like to replant with some small shrubs and hostas, but that will happen after the new retaining wall is in place.

We have a large poplar tree in the backyard, just off our deck near the canal. Since it is on a slope the root system is quite unique. We had a small herd of potted plants sitting around the garage since we've moved in. Put both together, and we have a new home for bunch of potted plants. Making that area a small garden negates the tripping hazard. We might put some mulch around it yet.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Little One has a name now, Freyja.  Her middle name is Jo-Jo. :-) (thanks Isaac!)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Patio Set

We recently rehabbed 4 patio chairs and patio table for a patio set for our back deck. I did a bad job getting before and during pics, but you get the point. :-)

Our next door neighbor was cleaning out his garage and asked if we wanted a free patio table. Of course! It was rusty and faded mint green but no matter to us. We were on the lookout for one. Zachary took it apart and brushed off the rusty bits.

Over the winter, my parents found us a deal on 4 patio chairs at a rummage sale. They were in fairly good shape, just missing seats. So they have been sitting around our backyard waiting for a table. When the table was found, the project was on!

We headed to Jo-Anns to find seat cushions and fabric. We ended up with green canvas that was 50% off and cushion foam was 50% off too. It was our first time doing an upholstery project and it went together real easy. Although ours was simple, I look forward to trying it again with more complicated upholstery projects.

We used Rust-Oleum black hammered finish spray paint on the chairs and the table.

Project complete! I like how it turned out. I also love the fact we didn't spend an arm and a leg for a patio set. With the fabric, foam and paint, we spent about $80. I would like to find an umbrella for it eventually, in case we put it on the non-covered part of the deck.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Fourth on the Beach

We walked down to the beach on the 4th to take in the Fireworks display on the water. Luckily we live a few blocks from the beach, so we just walked down with our chairs and not have to worry about parking. The beach was crowded and groups of people along the beach were firing off their own fireworks, so the air was sulfurous. Nevertheless the actual fireworks show was excellent, PCB shot off fireworks off both of the large piers in town simultaneously.  It was our first year seeing them. One thing we noticed with the beach fireworks are quieter than other ones we have seen. The sounds just goes out over the water, not bouncing off the buildings as much.