Archive | June, 2013

Greenhouse Project: A lesson in reuse, upcycling, and gardening in the northern zone

27 Jun

We mentioned a while back that we built a greenhouse this year.  We’ve had a blast this summer watching our hot-climate plants grow and flourish in the sun-filled, sweltering space beside our house, and we look forward to extending our growing season into the fall.  Here’s a little synopsis of how we built it and what we’ll be using it for.

DSCN1165-1We obtained the walls in the early spring (when the snow was still 2 feet deep) from our good friends who disassembled their screen porch as they prepared for an addition on their house.  We gladly took the walls and then waited impatiently for another month and a half before the snow finally disappeared from the land.  After that, it was pretty simple.  I formed a perimeter base from railroad ties and then set the walls onto the railroad ties.  We created a lean-to design by using the gable end of the former porch, split down the middle, so that each half of the gable wall could form the end-walls of the lean-to.  I secured the walls, nailed cross-braces, and built the roof rafters using lumber cut at another friend’s sawmill, deep in the woods along Pelican Lake.

DSCN1215I spent a little time researching options for greenhouse siding, weighing the benefits of plastic, corrugated plastic sheets, and glass.  I finally decided on high-quality greenhouse plastic ordered through Farm Tek Supply, and once it arrived I was able to attach it rather easily.  I won’t bore you with the details, but note that the front wall of plastic is fastened securely with construction staples, while the end walls are secured with removable clips so that I can roll up the plastic like drapes when I want breezes and fresh air to blow through the greenhouse.

DSCN1166-1The sign above the door is a beautiful cedar board cut by the sawmill, but its particular shape allowed the saw to leave a few natural edges and waves.  The painting is compliments of Grandma Barb working patiently alongside our two artistic girlies.  We love it!

DSCN1216The greenhouse sits on the south-facing wall of our garage, and its sun exposure is limited early in the day by that lovely oak tree perched beside it.  This is actually a benefit on hot days as the shade helps regulate the excessive heat, and in the fall, when the leaves fade, the greenhouse will be enjoying every drop of sun the day can give.  One of our aspirations for the greenhouse is that it extends our growing season into October.  Many of our plants will be in pots this summer with the hope that when the frost hits (and it hits quick here, usually early-mid September) we can pull the tomatoes and peppers into the greenhouse for a few more weeks of fresh produce.  We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.


22 Jun

Thanks everyone for hanging in there with me.  I knew that having another little human in or life would be demanding I just didn’t equate all the other craziness that summer brings with it as well.  Mostly all good things but still a very busy life with late nights and many curve balls.

Anyways just wanted to say thank you for sticking with us during this time of business and transition for our family.


We went to Pizza Luce during one of my prenatal visits and Jared and I ordered the Ruby Rae- here is their description:

“Ruby’s a saucy little number—a delicious upside down pizza pie with the red sauce on top! Spinach, bruschetta tomatoes, Italian sausage, and extra mozzarella cheese. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spicy crushed red pepper.”

We ate this pizza and were hooked.  We loved the spinach on the bottom and the sauce on top made it really different and delicious.  As well as loads of garlic.  Wow.

So of course a week later we were at home reminiscing about how much we loved the Ruby Rae pizza and wanted it again.  Since Duluth is an hour an a half away we had to think up a better solution than taking a three hour round trip drive for a pizza.  Solution: Make our own!

These are some pictures from before Hudson was born, a time when we had a bit more sanity.  Sanity?  Whats that =)

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Mission accomplished

Happy Father’s Day

16 Jun

Thank you Dad

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Thank you Jared

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Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there we are so lucky to have you!

Outdoor Shower

8 Jun

By Jared

We’ve written before about our rain barrels, and the satisfying experience of collecting water as it cascades from the sky, flows from our rooftoop, and splashes into our barrels that wait anxiously beneath the downspouts.  We made it through the entire drought-stricken summer last year without ever using the outdoor faucets to water our gardens or fill the backyard kiddie pool.  A short burst of rain, diverted from the rooftop, is all it takes to fill a 55-gallon barrel, and even our chunky 330-gallon tank only needs an hour or so of heavy rainfall before the water gurgles and gushes out the top.

DSCN1209But this post isn’t about rain barrels.  This post is about our latest experience with the joys of collecting rain water:  Our outdoor shower.  Anyone who has spent much time with me in the summer knows I far prefer a quick dip in the lake or a rinse in the river to clear the dirt and sweat, rather than spend any unnecessary time spinning circles in the bathroom.  And with so much success rain-barreling last summer, I thought I’d convert one of our barrels to an elevated outdoor shower.

The only labor-intensive part was putting together a stand for the barrel to sit on.  First I constructed a pedestal, similar to an old-fashioned water tower stand.  I used cedar posts for the legs and constructed a pallet platform from scrap wood and small cedar logs.  I mounted the pallet to the cedar posts at a height that would allow the barrel to sit directly beneath the gutter.  I ensured stability and balance by shimming and adjusting the ground on which the pedestal sits.  Lastly, I anchored the cedar posts by driving iron rebar into the ground alongside the posts and then chained the posts to the rebar.  Don’t want my shower falling and squishing me while I scrub.

The conversion of the rain barrel into a shower was quite simple.  I purchased an adapter at the hardware store that would allow a standard shower head to fit my faucet.  I re-claimed a shower head from an old cabin that was going to be torn down, and I painted my barrel dark brown in hopes of absorbing a little more heat (and giving the shower a more natural aesthetic.)

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As a final touch I graded a flat area beneath the shower and laid yard brick for the shower floor.  I had spent my first few showers sliding around on the wet, grassy slope, so the brick floor is a nifty addition.


We’ve had trouble even reaching 70-degrees this summer, so my showers have been quite cold thus far.  But I look forward to those hot July days, staggering over from the garden, reaching up and turning on my refreshing rain rinse.


6 Jun

We are doing our best to grow a successful garden amidst nights that can still dip down into freezing temperatures.

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Thankfully Jared built a green house this spring to keep our little seedlings safe and warm.  I will let him tell you more about the green house soon since he was the one who constructed it.  The girls keep reminding us that it is not actually a green house since it is NOT green in color.

Looking forward to the day when our plants can head outside and we can head outside without wearing coats!

thanks aunt lina!

2 Jun

When my little sister Caroline came to visit last week I definitely put her to work.  She made a fantastic picture for Hudson’s future room (I will show you later) and also she took some great pictures of the kids.  You wouldn’t believe how many pictures you have to take to get a few good ones.  Thank goodness for digital cameras, right?

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Thank you Auntie Lina, you are my hero.