November 19, 2012

Making the Manor a little less "Open Air"

On the porch side of the house is a historical period window, most likely original to the 1906 build. Although quaint and rustic, it's drafty as sh*t. I'm not in a hurry to replace it, because someday that whole wall and the windows on it are going to be deomolished during the Porch Extension project. We're at least a couple years out from that, though - and in the meantime, the window needs a little help.

A couple years ago we did the shrinkwrap interior plastic cover. The window's too big for that to really work, and within a couple weeks we had a busted plastic wrapper taped to the inside of the window (classy!).

So after looking around online and locally, we settled on a slightly more robust version of the shrinkwrap - a $60 "storm window" from Pierson's. It has a nice metal frame and fits perfectly.. but it's still basically thick plastic. We installed it and caulked it thoroughly.

We're having the first of many winter storms roll in tonight - we'll see how it does!

October 4, 2012

Bumper crop of berries

The blackberries did amazing this year - and are still producing! Technically they're not from the Manor, since the plants are on the neighbor's property. But quite a few of the good ones have encroached over onto my side of the fence, therefore are up for grabs! I made blackberry muffins a couple of times, almost enough to get sick of them! I'm going to have to get creative. Blackberry pie, maybe?

September 24, 2012


3 weeks ago it finally happened. Our tenuous peace with the nocturnal skunky inhabitant(s) of the backyard was broken. At about 11 pm on a Monday night, lil miss (the canine, not Mrs. Strubgrass) came in from her final yard patrol of the day spitting green foam and STINKING to high heaven.

We put her in the tub and washed her a few times, opened every window in the house, and tried to ignore the smell until we could go to Rite-Aid in the morning to get the baking soda/hydrogen peroxide/dish soap mix suggested by multiple internet sources. We were blessed(?) with a balmy, windless night, one in which the smell of skunk hung heavy about the Manor. (for about 3 weeks, as a matter of fact)

This looks like skunky's front door. We'll see how this goes when we begin the Shed to Home Office conversion next year.

July 20, 2012

Mid-summer Garden update: 2012

(Here's last year's - coincidently, almost on exactly the same date)

It's been a super wet year, meaning not much need to water! So things are going crazy in the raised beds. This year we planted zucchini, red and green butter lettuce, strawberries, leeks, shallots, carrots, favas, green peas, and various cauliflowers.

The purple cauliflower was a big success (only slightly pa-chomped by bugs):

And my favorite (easy to grow!) zucchini:

June 15, 2012

Driftwood Deerhead

This is the newest addition to the living room.. a driftwood deerhead. It's like a hipster version of a taxidermy deerhead, made out driftwood and tiny nails. And cuter.

We got it at Rarebird in Berkeley. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

May 2, 2012

Eerie Google pre-Strubgrass Streetview

I grabbed this photo from Google Maps Streetview when I heard that Google was back in town creepily snapping photographs of everyone's house. Which I think is really cool and I love using Google maps - but still, it's a little stalky.

Anyway, the above was taken right before we bought the house in 2007 (you can even see the For Sale sign! The house looks cute, if bare. It had just been painted (but they missed a few major spots you can't see in this photo!) Other than the Monster Rhodie and grass (which must have been spraypainted with green foodcoloring, because we never got it that green ever again!), it looks a little sparse and lonely. Little did this little house know that some D.I.N.K.y gays were about to get ahold of it.

Here's what it's looking like today - roughly 100 boxwood hedges later! Of course it helps the before and after contrast that the Google streetview photo is from a gray day with not -great color resolution.

March 27, 2012

New (partial) fence!

We fenced most of the property a few years ago, but there was an area we skipped because there was a nice greenwall/barrier there already. Alas, the years had worn away the fence that supported the greenwall and it started to get rickety. There was a gap in one corner where Mattie made a break for it one rainy night (not fun for her moms!). Plus, my neighbors would suffer second-hand smoke inhalation every time we BBQ'd.

So we decided to take out the old fence. Actually - my neighbors (including this world-famous blogger) removed the old fence and volunteer cherry trees growing along the border, and we had the new fence put in.

In this picture, you can see that the old fence/hedge yielded many a valuable treasure, including a luxurious pair of muddy longjohns!

The new fence still has that "too new" look about it, so we have our work cut out for us this spring planting some trellis and greening up the place (with anything other than ivy!). I've got cardboard piled on the ground to choke out the grass on the other end. I'm thinking raspberry trellis + some kind of groundcover?

January 16, 2012

Life is better with more chandeliers

We ordered this one from West Elm. The old hanging lamp was ugly - it was dark, old (but not in any sort of antique, artistic way), and it hummed a little when it was on.

But now, you can enjoy a grand entrance with our fancy-ass chandelier in the front hallway. Plus, we installed a dimmer for it. I'm a firm believer in dimmers. If given the opportunity, always, put in a dimmer! It's the only way to increase the fanciness of chandelier living (to see what I mean, watch the video).

Installation was interesting. We had some outside help, but none of us are electricians. Which should be fine with a standard installation. But the existing fixture had more than the usual number of connections: 2 grounding wires, 3 white, and 1 black. We sorted it out with a voltage tester, but it was a mind-melting challenge. So far, it's been worth it!

January 2, 2012

(Fine?) Art

In addition to working on Strubgrass Manor home renovation projects, I've been doing some painting. (This one made a convenient Christmas present for my mom!):

This is blog-worthy because the photo is of some flowers from our neighbors that I blogged about back in June: