the_plan: (Default)
2010-12-09 12:41 pm
Entry tags:

[sticky entry] Sticky: In the beginning...

My darling husband, James, and myself - well it all started in 2004 when we met online. We married in 2006, and moved to Newfoundland where we bought this house in 2008.

But all that is contained in my other journals. This journal details the our ongoing adventures in building our life together here in Newfoundland - literally. Our many adventures in real estate, renovations, building, renting, buying, selling, all towards a lofty goal.

We've always worked on a 5 year plan - "The Plan ®". "The Plan ®" has always been an ever evolving thing and it changes and grows and mutates, but it's always been a looking ahead to where we want to be 5 years from now. Of course where we get 5 years from now may be a very different place.

Mostly this is the story of a life in renovation.

However, PLEASE, this is in no way ever to be construed as professional advice. Many entries will be tagged "making the mistakes so you don't have to". We're just a couple of reasonably capable, reasonably intelligent, fairly dedicated 'Do-It-Yourself'ers. There are many jobs, many times, when we will be consulting with the professionals and I highly encourage you to as well. Still with a little common sense, and a good bit of planning there's a lot you can do for yourself.
the_plan: (Kitchen)
2011-07-09 10:15 am

What's on your pizza?

James and I have for the past couple years made a habit of Friday night 'Pizza and a Movie Night' - occasionally it gets moved about for something the kids have on, but as a family it's one of our favourite traditions.

For a while it was frozen pizzas, (yuck), then moved on to 'make your own' with pre-made crusts, not bad but it could get expensive with the crusts being $5 each and not the best pizza crust. Then Fleishmanns came out with a Pizza Yeast. It's an instant yeast - no wait for a rise knock down rise again routine. At the time I was still struggling with mastering yeast breads so the whole no wait thing was good. I found the product worked beautifully, with my stand mixer (goddess bless Kitchen Aid) kneading was no longer an issue. The whole weekly Pizza and a Movie night, now expanded into make your own pizza and a movie night. It became a family event - us and the kids (and the dogs - who yes do get their own pizza) gather in the kitchen and build and cook and talk together ... and then watch a good movie complete with theatre popcorn!

Since the beginning of the pizza building I've had a fairly standardized routine of what I put on pizza - a pretty standard pedestrian pepperoni, red onion, roasted red pepper, green olives (I can *never* get the jars of sliced kalmatas), and a mozzarella/edam mix of shredded cheese. However, life being what it is last week my Kitchen Aid died *sob*, she broke a gear and literally came grinding to a halt. Wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do for pizza this week. In the meantime there was a thread running on the Food Network Canada forums about "What's On Your Pizza?", and I started thinking about all the kinds of pizza sorta flavours I like. It threw me out of my comfortable rut (hey there is nothing WRONG with my standard pizza!) and got me thinking about doing something different (just to mix it up).

First the crust. I've had a lot more success with bread recipes of late. In fact I have a few that I'm becoming quite comfortable and even proud of. Some of those are 'no knead' breads. So with the mixer on the fritz and a bit of time on our hands I thought about using a focaccia dough. I'd had a lot of success with that one in the past. Ok well it wasn't a 'no knead' recipe, if I was gonna have to knead anyway why not use my standard pizza crust recipe? Well... I wanted to try something different, and if I can make my pizza crust work with standard yeast then I can forgo at least ONE bottle of yeast in the fridge (we currently have 4 - traditional, bread machine, quick rise, and pizza - I'm thinking I'm gonna drop the bread machine one pretty soon too).

So for the crust I pretty much just copied straight out of the recipe I snagged from Chef Michael Smith's Chef at Home:
2 cups bread flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp traditional yeast
1 generous cup water

olive oil
toppings of your choice

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (or mix by hand and knead) till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size. (approx 1 hr). Punch down the dough and then roll out on a well floured surface to approx 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer the flat bread to a baking sheet that's been generously sprinkled with corn meal (to prevent sticking.

Without the mixer it was a 10 minute knead on a floured board (it did pick up a fair bit more flour - it is a sticky dough). I only did a single rise, and then punched it down, cut the dough in half and rolled each half out to fit a 12" pizza pan. I found it a bit stickier and trickier to work with, and the recipe does make a fairly thin crust pizza, (the cornmeal is the shizzle!) there was some stretching and patting and repairage of holes... but all in all it was a very nice crust.

James stuck with his usual tomato sauce, pepperoni, red onion, roasted red peppers with mozzarella/edam shredded cheese. However, this was the point where I really wanted to play. I brushed the crust with a light drizzle of olive oil, rubbed some crushed garlic into it, a couple of tablespoons of hot salsa for a sauce, some chunks of fresh tomato, some hot spanish chorizo sausage sliced thin, a good handful of rough chopped cilantro, some red onion, a bit of roasted red peppers, and some whole pitted kalmata olives, sprinkled the whole thing with sea salt and finally I sliced some mini bocconcini cheese, and just a dusting of shredded asiago.

Bake at 425°F for 16 minutes... and the results were DELIGHTFUL
This was one of the nicest pizzas I've had in a long time. LOADS of flavours, all working well together; there was some heat, but not too much or over powering. It was 'just right'.

Honestly I still like a thick crust pizza, and I will inevitably try this again with more dough for the crust. I'd also like to do this with a pizza stone. Of course I also want eventually to build a big wood/charcoal brick BBQ with a built in bread/pizza oven, but I think the BBQ pizza will be for another day. I think though that my experimentation with pizza has only just begun.
the_plan: (Why Me?)
2011-07-07 05:49 pm

One of those days I wish I understood web coding....

And probably someday I'll learn something about it.... but the amount of effort required to learn the particular itty bitty bit of code I need ... is disproportionate to the effort it'll save by having it.

Spent all day buggering around with Canada Post's website trying to work out simple tables for shipping costs. Eventually we'll add a nice little shopping cart to the site - but right now that's a bit more trouble than it's worth. *sigh* So the plan was - now that we've worked out packaging and weights for the glassware for I'd do a nice simple chart for the website for shipping and handling costs. Surprisingly US was easier - there's only 51 states - and they all fit into one of 7 shipping regions. Working that out was fine. I got a nice chart - look up the state, see your shipping region code letter, go to the chart and see how much the glassware you want to order will cost to ship. Unfortunately Canada - while there are only 7 shipping region rate codes that apply they're based on postal code, not provinces. Makes sense, every province has remote regions that cost more to ship to. So having gone through it all, found the rate codes, found the pricing tables for those codes, worked out the fuel surcharges, and the applicable taxes.... there's just no way to nicely incorporate it into the website. Sure I can work out a nice table for the 7 shipping regions. But there's no nice way to look up what code applies to the customer's postal code. I have a lovely comma separated values list - and turning that into a widget where customer plugs in the first 3 digits of their postal code, and it then tells them you're in rate A or rate G which they could then just look at the chart.......

Yeah, it's a simple goofy widget of code. Piece of piss for a first year programming student. Which I'm not. Honestly you'd think Canada Post would already have this code written (and they do - you can look up any parcel rate for anywhere on THEIR web site (that's how I've been manually quoting). However, they don't seem to have any information on such a nifty little piece of code, or even a nice little widget button the small business owner could add to their website that would use their own code and website to give our consumers the information they require. Maybe if I call their 'Business Sales Rep' office they could point me in the direction of something simple to make our little lives a little easier and more expedient. You'd think they'd have it in the Small Business 'Online Business Centre', where all the other little helpful tools like printing out one's own shipping / stamp / postage - self shipping options and tools are.

For now I guess we can post the little US and International charts, but Canadian customers will have to email us for a shipping quote.... and THAT makes me feel stupid.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-07-04 12:51 pm

"Only mad dogs and englishmen go out in the noon day sun"

Didn't get nearly as much work done outside this weekend as I'd hoped - considering the weather was fine. Still we got 2 of the rugs pressure washed, and some trees trimmed. However, it did mean wanting to get an early start today before the sun got too hot. I know some of you Aussies are laughing at me calling 21°C "hot", but with the full sun beating down it's still plenty warm for yard work.

It did make for a beautiful morning in the garden though - hat, sunglasses, SPF 45, and bug spray and I actually got in a good 3 hours - which was the plan. Grant you, last night not really cooling off till after midnight, and we two being night owls by nature anyway, we didn't get to bed 'early' as planned. Still for us to be up, dressed, fed, and in the yard by 9am (an hour later than I'd originally planned), is really not all that bad. Work through the cool of the morning, lunch, and nap through the heat of the afternoon.

So the brush from the tree trimming is cleared, the bushes round the edge of the forest have been beaten back, weeding is done, a few more plants in, the lawn mostly mowed, and the edges mostly weed whacked. The yard looks far less like the forest is taking it over now. We managed to lose the soap nozzle for the pressure washer - still looking for it in the grass, so the other two rugs, and the outdoor furniture cushions will have to wait. Still once the sun is round the other side we should be able to finish pressure washing the deck.

Cool drinks, bacon and cheese sammiches, and an afternoon nap are now in order.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
2011-06-29 05:20 pm

June Cooking Club Challenge

This one was inspired by's June Cooking Club Challenge, which was in turn inspired by an episode of Top Chef Canada. So with that in mind, and with a nod to Canada Day this week - I took a classic Greek breakfast pastry made with phyllo pastry and Canadianized it by glazing it with maple syrup (instead of the traditional powdered sugar).


2 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup semolina (farina)
1 cup butter, cut into bits
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 454 gr boxes phyllo pastry, thawed, covered with dampened towel
melted butter
maple syrup

Slice vanilla bean pod open and scape the seeds out, add seeds and pod to the milk. Heat milk in medium pot until hot but not boiling.

Beat eggs until frothy; beat in sugar until thick and foamy, about 4 minutes. Remove milk from the heat and whisk slowly into egg mixture.

Return the custard mixture back to pot and set on medium-low heat; cook, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in semolina slowly whisking the whole time.

Reduce heat to low, stir constantly, until custard is thick and smooth, about 5-6 minutes. Add the pieces cut up butter, continue to whisk until butter is fully melted and beat into the mixture. Add the zest of one lemon, and squeeze in the juice too. Whisk to combine

Cover custard surface with a piece of plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Unroll your package of phyllo, keep a damp kitchen towel handy to cover the waiting sheets while you build your pastry.

Place first sheet of phyllo on a work surface, with narrow end facing you. Brush lightly with melted butter. Lay a second sheet on top of the first. Brush again with melted butter. Continue until you have a layer of approximately 8-10 sheets of phyllo.

Place approximately 2/3 cup of custard into the centre of your prepared phyllo, spread out to approximately 1 1/2 inches from the long sides and 3 inches from the short sides (vaguely squarish).

Fold right and left sides (long sides) of phyllo from the edge of the custard towards centre. Fold the top and bottom (short sides) of the phyllo from the edge of the custard towards the centre - till they meet and slightly overlap.

Brush top with butter. Gently lift the pastry and turn and place folded side down on a buttered baking sheet. Brush the top with butter.

Continue to make phyllo and custard packets until you run out of pastry, or custard or both.

Bake until golden-brown, about 15-18 minutes.

Drizzle warm pastry with maple syrup and spread gently over the top with pastry brush

Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Cut into 9 or so equal squares using a pizza wheel or mezzaluna. Use a wide spatula to transfer the cut pieces to a plate. Serve warm.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
2011-06-23 06:36 pm

Port Wine and Roasted Red Pepper Braised Chicken

Last night's adventure in "WHAT DO WE HAVE IN THE FREEZER?"

Chicken thighs are pretty innocuous - you can do anything with them. Sometimes that kind of choice can actually stifle creativity - you can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices.

I think I ended up with with a bit of a 'Red' theme, peppers and the port wine comes in a lovely dark red labelled bottle. (Wolf Blass Reserve Tawny Port)

It's been so cool and damp this week I'd been craving something hearty and warm and ... stew like. So I started with chicken thighs, port wine seemed like a nice choice (hey it always is!) and went from there....

Port Wine and Roasted Red Pepper Braised Chicken

6-9 chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion - diced
2 carrots - diced
1 stalk celery - diced (I was out of celery and replaced this with 1 tsp celery seed - it worked but a stalk of celery would be better)
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
chili powder
2 roasted red peppers (brush peppers with canola oil and roast in a hot oven, or on a hot BBQ grill, cool, remove skins, and slice thinly)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup port wine

season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, basil and tarragon. Heat olive oil in a heavy (cast iron enamel works wonderfully) casserole or dutch oven. Brown chicken pieces in oil, then remove and set aside. Add onions carrots and celery to the pot and cook till onions are softened and translucent. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan, add garlic, bay leaves, roasted red peppers, and port wine. Sprinkle a light amount of chili powder on the chicken thighs and add them back into the pan. Roast in an 350°F oven for 1 hr.

Serve over fragrant rice like basmati or jasmine, or a broad egg noodle.

Asparagus - blanch in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or just until bright green. Plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the colour. To reheat heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in a saute pan over high heat, add asparagus and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Toss in the pan to heat through, add a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkle of course salt.

For dessert I wanted a bit of warm fragrant spice as well, and reworked a simple Chef Michael Smith fruit pudding.

Place 2 cups of frozen mixed berries in a 2 qt sauce pan, add 1 cup orange juice (or as suits - I had orange guava passionfruit.. *shrug*). Add 1 small dried chili, 1 3" piece of cinnamon stick broken into two, 1 tbsp lemon peel, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 3 cloves, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1 vanilla bean pod (open, scraped and cut into two pieces), and 2 tbsp port wine. Simmer over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes or until berries are soft and disintegrating.

Strain mixture through a fine sieve, reserving the juice, and working the pulp to save as much juice as possible. Set aside 2-3 tbsp of the juice, return the rest of the juice to the pot. Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch into the reserved juice - stir well. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the pot of juice. Simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and translucent. Remove from heat. Pour into 4 dessert bowls, and cool in fridge. Serve with a small dollop of whip cream, or a spoonful of vanilla ice cream
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-06-15 08:57 pm

Next up...

The family room...

Spent most of my prep time cleaning up the mess from other jobs. Sorting away tools and electrical bits, and the messes the cats had made of so many things. New cushions will be needed for the wicker furniture, and we lost the sofa bed completely .... I think once we move psycho kitty will have to become a barn cat. It's just too expensive.

We have managed to save the rug - the pressure washer is a GOD SEND! I'd have never gotten it clean with just the steam cleaner, but the pressure washer, with the steam cleaner to take out the water worked da bomb! So much so I used it again on the dogs' rug - which wasn't as bad, but was still fulla a ton of mud.

There really isn't too much to be done here. Paint out the windows and door frames to match the baseboards and casings, fix the couple small patches of wallpaper border where the cats have chewed at it, change over the switches and receptacles to the new ivory decor type, replace the patio doors with the new ones, paint the new patio doors, paint new interior door, replace interior door, and then replace the laminate flooring with the new bamboo. I may or may not paint out the cat condo. We've already replaced the little dome lighting with nice white lighted ceiling fans. At least all the heavy stuff is out, nothing I can't move/shuffle from one side of the room to the other in order to get the flooring done.

Part of the problem has been that this room has never been used much. Oh the kids used it at times for video games, and the cats lived there, but James and I really took to using it to store stuff. And with the gates up to keep the dogs out of the cats it was a bit of a pain to use it. I never really did figure out a better gating system and with all the windows and doors it was a bit of an awkward room to lay out. Then it got to be a great mess...

Once we're done in here though, I think I'll set it up as a craft room. Get my two big sewing tables set up in the TV corner, move the freezer to the garage, set up the seating and the TV down that end of the room, with my herb garden on the bakers' rack, and a small potting table for plants. This will give me a lot more reason to use the room daily, and keep a closer eye on what nonsense the cats are up to.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
2011-06-13 12:58 am

I love my hubby...

He knows me soooooooooooooooooooo well! He understands all my obssessive fetishish behavoirs and loves...

We went to Michael's today hunting for a bottle cutter (did not find), when he found on sale for 50% off the perfect birthday pressie for me! So I get my goodie a month early..

Tools! Baking! Decorating! Little bespoke organizational doors and drawers!

the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
2011-06-11 04:24 pm

The joy of springtime and a garden...

There's nothing quite as satisfying as food made from ingredients from your own garden...

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake:

3 cups cut rhubarb
16 oz strawberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter

In a saucepan combine the rhubarb and strawberries, cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Combine the sugar and corn starch; add to the fruit mixture. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes, or until thickened and bubbly and the sauce is slightly translucent. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor bowl combine the first measures of flour and sugar with the remaining dry ingredients cut in the butter and pulse till the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix together the milk eggs and vanilla and add all at once to the dry mixture. Stir together just until well moistened.

Spread half the batter in a greased 9x13x2 baking pan. Spread the cooled fruit mixture over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter in small mounds on top of the fruit filling.

In the food processor bowl combine the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 cup butter, pulse till the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs liberally over the top of the batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

(recipe from Better Homes and Gardens -All Time Favourite Bread Recipes)
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-06-10 04:04 pm

More fun in the garden...

Let's play another round of 'Let's Guess The Flower!"

In other green news - the wild rhubarb hiding behind the stables has taken off like a mad thing again!!

Darned good thing we love rhubarb - I got some strawberries on sale this week, so I suspect there's a strawberry rhubarb crumble coffee cake coming tonight :)

In honour of happy surprises in our little patch of forest

Wild Strawberries
By Shel Silverstein

Are Wild Strawberries really wild?
Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child?
Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam?
Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home?
Can they be trained to not growl at the guests?
Will a litterbox work or would they leave a mess?
Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows,
Or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows,
Or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse,
Or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house,
And though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly,
Can you ever feel that you trust them completely?
Or should we make a pet out of something less scary,
Like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry,
Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed
If your Wild Strawberry cannot be tamed.
the_plan: (Default)
2011-06-08 04:25 pm
Entry tags:


Be still my beating heart...
My Gravenstein Apple tree is blooming!

the peach trees... not so much, one tiny tiny bud... but at least they're growing, new twigs new leaves... they haven't given up on me.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
2011-06-07 03:46 pm

More fun in the kitchen...

Last week's focaccia bread:

Kinda got me slash dotted when the Food Network community admins posted the picture to their FaceBook account. Cool exposure... but I looked a git when the recipe wasn't there.

The recipe was snagged off Chef Michael Smith's show Chef At Home - so I figured the recipe was already on the website.

Anyway... I'm out of trouble now, and the bread is a real winner. Chef Smith did his with fresh basil, tomato and thinly sliced parmasan cheese. I did mine with fresh rosemary (it was what I had), tomato, olive and asiago cheese.

Took this from Chef At Home - the Birthday Lamb episode from Series 1.

2 cups bread flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp traditional yeast
1 generous cup water

olive oil
toppings of your choice

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (or mix by hand and knead) till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size. (approx 1 hr). Punch down the dough and then roll out on a well floured surface to approx 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer the flat bread to a baking sheet that's been generously sprinkled with corn meal (to prevent sticking. Dizzle and coat the top of the bread with a little olive oil, and add the toppings of your choice. Chef Michael Smith used fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, and thinly sliced parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I used fresh rosemary, sliced olives, tomatoes, sea salt and asiago cheese.... but you can play around with the toppings based on what you have on hand and what you like. Cover lightly with a clean tea towel and allow to rise again (approx 1 hr) till double in size or soft and puffy looking.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and well set.

I think tonight I'll try it with the basil to celebrate the arrival of a lovely new little basil plant from D*, mostly because the scent of fresh basil in the kitchen again is driving me batty!
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-06-05 04:32 pm


The septic contractors were good as their word and arrived bright and early yesterday (just as I was on my way out to 'Mom's Day Off').

James was very pleased with how they worked. Their attitude, care and professionalism was first rate! Despite having to wait on the pumping truck they got everything prepared and ready to roll, then got some lunch early while they were waiting. No time wasted. Unfortunately with the ceiling of the tank caved in they couldn't pump out the rocks that were in it. So the answer was to pump out the sewage, leave the rocks, dig a hole right beside the new one and rebury it, filling it in with rock and dirt (no more collapses!)

They had to move the pile of topsoil I had in the driveway for the flower beds, so they very kindly moved it all to the big empty hole at the back where the tree stumps came out (which was exactly where I wanted it). Couldn't talk em into digging the rest of the swamp drainage trench for us, but we're really gonna have to get the mini excavator again anyway to finish smoothing out the BIG hole, but all in all not bad.

They took GREAT care not to damage the flower bed out front, which was quite amazing, it was so close to the hole I figured it was a goner. Not a single flower disturbed! And despite all the digging they did a very neat job of cleaning up after themselves and smoothed the soil out very well. Yeah I've still gotta put a little topsoil down there to cover some rock, and seed it with grass seed... but it's actually quite neat, considering how much we'd had it torn up from the excavator last fall.

When I think about the disaster that the septic tank caving in was, I'm really very pleased and relieved at the eventual outcome.

For the local folks - if you've got an issue, I can't recommend Wade's Excavating and Septic Services in Flatrock highly enough. These guys were just great.

AND as a bonus, James managed to get the laser working again (we won't talk about how BIG a scare having THAT not work was! Fortunately it was a very short lived scare) and did them a sample glass. They then bought an order of 20 on the spot! Ya know we could really make a go of the whole laser, dye sublimation printing thing if either one of us had a clue about marketing or sales (but that's a whole other post ...)

More musings on gardening. Pretty much the majority of my landscaping budget had been spent and I wasn't really planning on doing a lot more to the gardens this year, but MUN Botanical Gardens were having their annual flower and cuttings sale. It was for a good cause and I hadn't seen the Botanical Gardens yet, I slipped a few dollars in my pocket and off I went. I probably spent another $50, and I still don't really have a lot of an idea what I'm doing. I've got a general overall idea what I want to accomplish; so I got some more ground cover plants; a couple kinds of phlox, needed some ferns for the great gaping hole by the forest, some other interesting bits and pieces. But the real value of the trip was the inspiration! They have some amazing shade gardens. The biggest pain for me has always been how much shade I have to deal with here, nothing is completely a 'sunny' spot, and I've always been kind of unimpressed with the plants recommended for shade gardens. What I discovered was "Wow a hosta I actually LIKE!" and that I can have bright colour in a shade garden. Lots to inspire me, but I was also rushing. I did get some lovely photos of the gardens before my camera batteries died. So I think another more paced trip is in order, especially as more of their summer stuff starts filling in, with full camera batteries and a notebook in hand.

where I get carried away with pretty pictures )
Now I think I'll go re-pot some tomatoes and herbs.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-06-03 12:40 pm

One more problem on it's way to being solved....

Waiting on the septic guys to show up.

These are the second crew we called, the first ones promised to come out and have a look that day, then the next day, then the end of the week.... we never heard back from them. They lost our business.

This second guy, promised to have someone out that day, or early the next morning, and lo he arrived bright and early yesterday am.

When the hole first appeared in the yard - well it didn't exactly appear - I was walking across the lawn working on the front garden bed and suddenly ended up up to my hip in the earth. James heard me shriek and came and helped me out of it. We were pretty sure we'd either busted a septic pipe or something .... lord knows it stunk like septic and it bubbled and gurgled with every flush. Buddy had a look at it and it seems that we lost the top of the tank, and yes the whole thing will need replacing.

Honestly the whole thing has been a bit scary and had us on pins and needles. I figured if we were up for a new septic tank it was gonna be a $10K job, James figured $7.5K, turns out he quoted us $2700 + tax. That means that even if Western Bay doesn't sell, we can probably afford to hang on here for another year. It'll be tight, but we could do it. (and as time goes on really a year is gonna end up being closer to 10 months I think). Ya know combined with the shock of the $30K fencing quote, it just goes to show that obviously James and I have NO idea what anything costs!

So yesterday he says if the weather is fine, they had another job they needed good weather to finish up and we probably wouldn't see them till later in the day to start the job, but if the weather was poor they'd have to put a hold on the other job anyway and would be out first thing. Well the weather is gorgeous, so not sure when they'll be here but at least it's getting dealt with and it does mean that the listing will include "brand new septic tank", and now at least we'll know where it IS. (The sellers not knowing where the septic system was located delayed our closing when we bought the place by two days). Guess there really is a silver lining to everything. I just hope they don't have to end up ripping up my garden bed.

Addendum: ... and they were decent enough to call at a reasonable hour to say they won't be able to make it today would first thing tomorrow be alright?
the_plan: (Default)
2011-06-01 08:26 pm

Lets play guess that flower....

So ..
A large number of wild bushes and shrubs grow here in our forest. These two are a couple of my favourites, but I have no idea what they are.

This is a 6-7ft tall bush with small white flowers

This is a smaller 3-4ft shrub/bush with small purple flowers (they're not all the way open yet)

Can you...

Guess That Flower?
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-05-31 07:28 pm

The books...

What knowledge and inspiration I do have for the gardens, has come from these that I turn to for answers:

Canadian Gardening subscription (although it does tend to be a bit Ont/BC centric)
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials (a gift from my Mom when my ex and I bought our first house in 1986. A good reference)
Reader's Digest's an Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada - it's a handy reference for the stuff I can't identify
Freeman Patterson's The Garden (a photographer, and philosopher, and spiritualist who finds photographs, life, and god, in his garden - my deepest inspiration)
Kitchen Garden A-Z (a cheapie I grabbed off a remainder table, or at Homesense, it has been helpful for information on edibles)

I like the idea of growing edibles as and as part of an overall untamed ornamental garden, (there's a wonderful article on 'The Edible Garden' in May's issue of Canadian Gardening I'm hanging onto.

This one was one I was reading at my mother-in-law's house the last time we were in Australia.

Apparently they keep rereleasing it every few years (I don't know what year hers is). I can't afford a new 2010 copy at $75, and it seemed rude to hint she might want to gift it to me. So after some hunting around and some patience I did find a 1989 release for $2.94 + shipping. Amazon has a few other Christopher Brickell edited gardening books that look tempting, most of them are new, too expensive, not relevant and reworks of the book I bought, but I did buy a copy of The Gardener's Companion for $4.04+ shipping as well. Together with shipping, they cost me $20. I figure that's not gonna blow my budgets too badly.

And I'm gonna keep my eyes open for any of Peter J Scott's books. They were recommended by a friend experienced in gardening in Newfoundland and he's retired from MUN where he was a professor in the Biology Dept - Botany.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-05-31 06:58 pm

In less inspiring news...

I heard back from the contractors - even if Western Bay does sell, there's no way we could afford, or at least justify affording $30,000 to do the fences.

For that price we could buy a used Dingo with an auger which would be the right tool for the job (I'd hope). Of course it'd still take us far too much work, and far too long to do it. The dingo would be worth having..... might consider getting it and then just doing the horse yards with it. (Which in and of itself would cost $10K+ to get the contractors in for it)

I don't know... If we do stay another year, I'd really LIKE to have some better fencing; more accessible spaces for the dogs, but... the cost and the work is just so scary with all that ROCK.

I don't know if we have a Plan B this time.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-05-31 01:48 pm

Proceeding without a plan... in which I garden pt2

When we last left our intrepid heroes they had a bunch of big gaping holes no plan, less money, and few plants from around the place had been moved.

But not knowing what we're doing has never stopped us before... )

Yeah it's still a long list.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-05-30 05:44 pm

In which I garden....the whole long story

Many moons ago I started working on the gardens. Gardens are tricky, really to be done properly they are a looooooooooong effort - years. I know there's all these silly shows on TV... Desperate Landscapes, Yard Crashers, Yard Wars.... they all make it look like it can be done in 24 hours, and given an army of helpers and an almost unlimited budget, there's a LOT you can do in 24 hours, but you can't grow a plant in a weekend.

Oh sure, you CAN buy mature plants, if you have the source and the cash, and don't mind a lot of annuals that'll be gone next year and have to be replanted.

When we moved in here, I wasn't thrilled with what gardening had been done. The bushes in the front beds weren't attractive in my mind, some of the plantings were very nice, but didn't seem to make much sense; things just dropped down in a place with no rhyme or reason. However, it was fall when we moved in, I had NO clue what I was doing, and I wanted to have a plan before we started.

Never did find a plan really... )
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
2011-05-29 11:43 am

God love em'

Wonderful! Found a contractor who actually answers and quotes promptly.

Avalon Fencing, I emailed them on Friday, they called me 10am this morning, "we'll come by, have a look and start a quote for ya. Would the next 15 minutes be good for you?"

They came, they looked, I think the size of the job; 1500 ft give or take over hills and rocks and through the woods; might have intimidated them a little.

I don't think there is anyway we could afford to have them do the WHOLE job, but if they're willing to just set all the fence posts and let us do the wire and rails then it may be possible to get this done.

All we need now is the numbers back from them, and word on the property in Western Bay
the_plan: (Default)
2011-05-28 01:25 pm

Tweak the Geek

The geek in me finds this abandoned Teleglobe Satellite Sation very intriguing.

(lots more pictures and stories)

Heck 365 acres of beautiful Nova Scotia forest, $245,000 - it's a good deal
But what in the name of all that is good do you DO with it??

The geek in me loves this old abandoned relic of the cold war technology, loves the above ground tunnel, the astroturf tennis court, the ... *sigh* Honestly though, I can't think of a single thing you could do that wouldn't destroy the ambiance of it.

T'is a shame