Monday, November 2, 2009

Gardening Help

Last week, we had Art and Linda's Wildflower gang over to steward the beginnings of our gardens.

First, they raked and bagged all the leaves. Watching from the window, I had to admit I was glad we didn't have to do this... Although, we did have to do the parkway over the weekend. We did it the smart way, and mulched all the leaves with the lawnmower. The bag was changed over 30 times... and the tree's aren't even half way done with shedding their leaves.

Next, notice how we no longer have a mud pit. Yep, here's the bright shiny new mulch on display.

And, here, Michael, Art, and a helper prepare our new garden bed for the spring. Not sure you can see all the flags in the picture, but we will have a nice sweeping garden bed all around the yard.

The one thing that bugs us about the backyard, is we have a big telephone pole and attached to it is an alley light. The light shines into our bedroom window, but it's also a huge eye sore and kills the ambience when we're chilling in the backyard on any evening. Art told us a good idea is to plant a fast growing tree, which will block the light. We had a couple options of trees, we opted for the catalpa (hoping I won't be cursing the mess of the spring flowers and bean pods) but it's a really unique and pretty tree. It also grows about 4 feet per year. So the options, plant a tiny tree, a 4 foot tree or a 6 foot tree. We told Art we'd think about it, and let him know. He surprised us when he popped over on Saturday and gave us a little tree to plant for free.

Should be fun watching her grow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Third times a charm...

Yes, third times a charm, for giving up on the front lawn.

After tilling twice by a big heavy tiller, and once entirely by hand, and finally having a master gardener come and look at the lawn, it's been decided there is no way we can get anything to grow in front.

I started the search for a landscaper a few months ago on Angies List. The company I was interested also happened to be at the Bungalow Expo we attended a few weeks ago.

We talked to Art and Linda's Wildflowers extensively, and finally decided to have them come out to take a look. Art concluded that we have such intense shade by the Norway Maples that there is no way to get anything to grow. He gave us several suggestions.

Option 1. Contact the Alderman to get permission to cut down a major limb of one of the maples. This could easily cost us $1000 plus to get done. We hate option 1.

2. Try to work with what we have. This involves putting mulch on the yard (the only thing that will obviously survive) and attempt to plant ferns is select spots. He's not sure if the ferns will survive or not. He can also move our gutters to create a pretty rock/rain garden in front.

We are going to try option 2 and wait and see.

We also contracted them to do our backyard. We just don't have the time, knowledge or expertise to do it on our own, and his idea's were superb.

Art took us on a garden tour of several homes around us to get idea's, and his work is awesome.

So, there you have it. Hopefully by next summer, we can post some pretty pictures of the front and backyards of the Happier Bungalow.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The countdown begins

I've been sleeping on this sorry excuse of a bed for almost 3 months now, and the day has finally arrived... Just saw on the website that the other bed I want to try is going on sale on 10/15. I can't wait to get rid of this one! I'm looking forward to the day it gets carried out of the bungalow, never to return again.

Now, I'm really hoping the new one is better. If it's not, then I'll be really sad, and will probably go get one of those old spring mattresses.

We haven't had much going on lately. We did finally get the bungalow furnished (thanks to Beth's Miami house!) We may try to tackle cleaning out the basement, and moving the storage to the attic this weekend, which once again, won't be as easy as we thought. Since the attic stairs open over the basement stairs, we'll have to carry everything through the outside basement door, through the outside kitchen door, and finally up to the attic stairs. This will really be fun when it gets even colder. Good times.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Erica's no friend of mine

This is what Michael came home to last night. Ahh, the joys of the first week of school.

So, today I went to the Crafty Beaver to pick up something to get rid of stupid erica. Upon coming home, and pulling into the driveway, one of our neighbors came over to ask if I want to know what to use to get rid of the spray paint. Heck yea I do!

He said Gum out Carb cleaner works on silver spray paint. Who knew.

So now I gotta run to the auto parts store. Hoping I get to post a clean garage door in the near future.

On a pretty funny (and not so clean) note, I was telling my co-worker that we got tagged, and also the garage next to us got tagged with Bella. So, the guy googles Erica Bella. Who knew we had a celebrity in our midst...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The attic is DONE!

Wow. I can't believe we got this done in a month. We ROCK.

By Saturday we were completely finished hanging the beams, which left 2 things left, seal some bad flashing on the roof, and cleaning up the attic, which included bringing all the storage we currently had up there back to the basement.

As usual, I eventually used my trusty moving method, which is "I'm tired, and look out below, because boxes are now being kicked down the stairs". I used the same method when moving out of the condo. I must say, it works quite well, as long as those fragile boxes are carefully labeled.

Here's Mike fixing the flashing on the roof. It was a pretty terrifying experience, considering the roof was pitched way more than he thought it was.

After all the boxes were down, it was time to clean up all the sawdust from the sawing and drilling.

Keep in mind, this is a GIANT broom. Yea, that's a lot of sawdust...

Check out the roof! Yay us...

By Sunday afternoon, we were done, and waiting for Eco tec to come for the installation on Monday morning.

Well, we hit a snag...

Eco tec came Monday morning around 8:30am. They set up the attic, taped up the windows and brought the hose into the attic. We waited, and waited... around 10am they told us they had to run to Crafty Beaver because the hose was broken, and they were going to try to fix it. By 11:30 they told us the bad news, they couldn't fix the hose, and would have to come back tomorrow.

Ok... now, Michael had to shuffle all his Tuesday meetings around so he could work from home again. He wanted to be here to make sure everything looked good.

Fast forward to Tuesday, they arrived at 11am, right when they said they would.

Here, they bring the hose from the truck, through the kitchen window, and straight up into the attic.

They were here for 4 hours. And this is what occurred:

Pretty cool huh? Already, we notice a huge temperature difference upstairs. Now, I'm hoping this weekend will have at least an 80 degree sunny day for the real test. Usually, 80 and sunny = over 100 degrees.

And lastly, Safety Inspector Sid, upset that he can't perform his duty upstairs...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Here's a post about Radley, the resident kitty from the Empty Bottle. Everyone should raise a bottle to this cute cat, who marked his last drum...

Speaking of cats... Safety Sid had an adventure last night. For some reason, the back gate was left open, and as I was doing some weeding, I turned around to look for him. He was not in the backyard. A scary 5 minutes later, we found him around the corner and in the neighbor's bushes. Grrr. Now inspector Sid will be going for a micro-chip appointment...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Longing for some longan

When we were in Kauai, we happened upon some wonderful fruit called longan. The best way to describe it is sort of a mix between a grape and a plum. It comes in bunches on a branch, and the fruit is wrapped in a tough outer skin. You have to break through the skin to get to the yumminess inside.

We would eat them all the time, and I've really missed them since we left. Anyways, yesterday while shopping at Mayfair market, we happened upon something that looked very similar, but it was called limoncillo quenepas. Thinking we struck gold, I bought a pretty big package, but for only $2.

I washed the outer skin, bit through, and was left with a funk in my mouth that really didn't go away for several minutes. It was pretty sour, and instead of a translucent looking fruit, it was kind of a peachy color. But, alas, not the hoped for longan.

So, now we're left with a huge bowlful of crappy fruit. Maybe the squirrels will eat them?

Oh, Mark and Tina, lucky lucky you, apparently, the longan grow mostly in China. You should see if you can find it, and thank us later.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Almost there...

This is been a crazy month, with almost all of our time dedicated to hanging the 2x4s in the attic. I'm so happy to report that we are almost done, I'm thinking Saturday is the day, which is a good thing since Eco tec comes to install the insulation on Monday!

The last thing we have to do is install the beams over the attic ladder, and this requires Michael to remove the pulley system for the ladder. This makes me very very nervous, but we've recently bought a 16 foot ladder, so if needed I can bring it to the window for him to climb down to safety if he gets stuck up there.

Luckily, we've had mostly nice weather for August, absolutely unheard of, so lucky we are.

Also, along with the insulation, we get a freebee rain barrel! Whoohoo! My lawn will be happy.

Speaking of which, our lawn is not happy. I'm about at my wits end with it, and a prairie garden is looking better and better instead of the grass. We've decided next Spring, before the leaves are on the trees, we'll seed again and hopefully the sun will get and keep it established. If that doesn't work, I'm done with it.

Now, onto the most exciting news... I got the Wii game Rockband. It's uber fun, and I've been enjoying working my drumming chops back up.

After I bought it, I came dancing into the kitchen to tell Michael about my new fun purchase, something we can enjoy after the evil attic is complete. His response? Honey, we have a basement FULL of REAL music equipment. Why don't we play those instead of the fake instruments. Hmmm, good point. But Rockband is fun, and Michael's getting into it. Last night, we downloaded 10 new songs and had a blast. Living in the limelight the universal dream.... (yea, we had to get some Rush...)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael's TV appearance

One of the bands Michael plays with, Reely Dan, had an appearance on the WGN morning TV show. Load in was set for 5:30AM, ouch, and luckily the studio was right down the street from us, as someone woke up at 4:51. Whoops.

So, here's the video: Reely Dan

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lolla 5 has ended

Lolla started rainy and chilly, and ended a hot sweaty mess. Jane's Addiction made it all worth it. Best set of the weekend by far. Now, let the recovery begin!

1. Intro to Up The Beach
2. Mountain Song
3. Ain't No Right
4. Three Days
5. Whores
6. Been Caught Stealing
7. Then She Did
8. Ocean-Sized
9. Ted Just Admit It
10. Summertime Rolls
11. Stop!

12. Jane Says

(M&T - Don't hurt us, we stayed for the whole Snoop set. It was just that good... but we did catch about 20 min of Lou Reed, since he ran over by 20 minutes...)

Friday, August 7, 2009

The injury list

I'm hoping I don't need to add to this in the future.

Anyone who knows us is aware that we always incur an injury whenever we travel. A sprained ankle, a broken shoulder, cracked rib, it always happens.

Now we can add injuries incurred in the attic.

Me: Sprained wrist
Michael: Concussion.

Mike was hanging a piece of wood. He tightened the first screw, and, ala the Three Stooges, the board swung around really fast and nailed him in the head. He actually fell back, but then continued working.

Cut to the next day, and had he told me this right away, a trip to the hospital would have certainly happened. He was still feeling a bit out of it, but he said he began to feel better in the afternoon.

My mom threatened to drive to Chicago to drag him to the hospital if I didn't take him, but, after looking online at the symptoms, and making him talk and tell me stories to check for slurred speech and delay time, I was pretty convinced that he would be ok.

Last night, there was no work on the attic, as I prescribed rest and relaxation.

Today Lollapalooza starts. Forecast for the weekend? Thunderous downpours, and heat upwards of 98 degrees with a heat index at 107.

We're thinking of skipping most of the afternoon to try to let the afternoon rain and heat pass.
Today's band's to checkout:
STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9
Thievery Corporation
Andrew Bird
Depeche Mode

Although, I must say we're really looking forward to Sunday's lineup. Seems to be the best day.
Neko Case vs Vampire Weekend? May be a tossup, but will try to catch a bit of both.
Still struggling with Lou Reed vs Snoop Dog. I'm thinking Snoop Dog will win out, as he'll put on more of a crazy show.
The Killers vs Janes Addiction? Easy. JA wins. I've seen the Killers 3x.

Hopefully no injuries this weekend. 5 years running, no injuries at Lolla (KNOCK ON WOOD).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Attic 101

Here is what we've been up to lately on our pre-insulation installation:

Oh what fun it is doing construction in the attic in August. Why we didn't finish this in July when it was always 75 and below is a good question, guess we were too busy enjoying the weather with BBQs.

So, now that it's always 100 degrees and above upstairs, time to start the attic project!

Here is a very quick tour of what we are doing.

I'm now known as "the drill girl". It took me a while to figure out how to handle the drills, as I sprained my wrist during the first 5 minutes I started. After it healed, and we actually got the correct drill bits which didn't jerk my wrist around, we were all set.


Step 1: Purchase 150 2x4s.
(1 down, 149 more to go!)

Step 2: After getting up the funky ladder to the attic, make a saw horse. Measure and cut wood. Luckily, most of the pieces don't need to be cut, but for those that do...

Step 3: Let the drilling begin...
First, we need to drill a half inch pilot hole. Next, grab another drill, and drill the remainder of the way with a small hole. Lastly, grab yet another drill and screw in the 3 1/2 inch screw.

Step 4: Attaching the wood (the real fun, and also Michael's part)
Here's where it gets tricky. I have to make sure I've made all the screws even, as we have to press the 2x4 against the existing beam for Mike to make pilot holes. The existing wood up there is so hard (he's thinking walnut, but not sure), that without the pilot holes, the screws won't go in.
So, another drill to make the pilot holes, then change the bit to screw in the 2x4.

And.... repeat.

It's a hot, dirty, messy, exhausting job, but I'm happy to report we're almost half way done!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

And she's going back...

Last night, Michael decided to once again sleep on my side of the bed, aka the evil side. I told him the bed is broke, and I still wake up sore every day. I think he thought it was just me.

Well, this morning, he looked like crap, and once again was a tad on the grouchy side. I came back in the bedroom and he was sitting on HIS side of the bed.

Me: Are you ok? What's wrong?
Him: I feel like crap! I was up every hour.
Me: Yea, I know.
Him: I can't take it. I didn't sleep at all!
Me: Yea, I know.
Him: I need to try to sleep before I have a meeting in an hour.
Me: Yea, I know the feeling.

So, he wants to try to flip it over, I want to send it back. $20 bucks I win...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The fun continues...

We have been working very hard on the attic - and we'll post about it soon.

In the meantime, I'd thought I'd share what happened last night.

We took a break from the work around 7 for a BBQ. After said BBQ, we decided we were just too tired to continue, even though it was probably only 70 degrees in the attic due to the wonderful 60 degree day August 1st blessed us with.

So, Michael goes to close up the attic, (we have an insane pulley system we'll have to show you all later) and all of a sudden, the ladder (probably built sometime in the 40's) starts retreating up crooked. CRAP. There's a box blocking it's path to push it up, and now it's gone of the track. So, up Michael goes on the crooked ladder to investigate, with me wincing each step he makes.

He gets up there, and says, Ahh, I see the problem, and KABOOM - The ladder (which still attached) goes crashing off the stairs and into the wall, of course shattering the light hanging on the basement stairs.

So, there we stood, me on the main floor, Michael stuck 15 feet higher in the attic, and a slight panic starts, as we realize this could be very very bad.

Somehow, we get the ladder pulled back up, and realize both sides of the track are split. Double crap! He somehow gets it back on track, but this will be a priority to fix since we'll be using this oooold ladder a lot, since it's our only access to the furnace, er, I mean attic.

Yea, the camera is still in the attic, so I can't post any pictures of all this fun, but, stay tuned...