Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pedaling around Oakland

We wrapped up our bay area trip with a stay in Oakland's Dimond District at the lovely, sunny place of our dear friends Jeremy and Gena. Isn't this back yard an enticing spot for a sunbath?

J and G have put a lot of time and effort into little details of their garden, including this sweet trellis decorated with chainrings:


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A day in San Francisco- Huckleberry Bikes, Cafe Mojo, urban growth and adaptive reuse

After our lovely time in Marin and Davis with friends and family, we made our way to SF.  One of our first stops was at Huckleberry Bicycles, a labor of creativity and love by our good friends Zack and Jonas. The shop has grown to a thriving business which is playing a big role in the revitalization of the Market Street corridor in SF's financial district.

Photo from the Huckleberry Bicycles website

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Santa Cruz beach time and Marin mountain biking

 We took a break from home remodeling and November Seattle weather to visit friends and family in the Bay Area.  We spent a lovely weekend in Santa Cruz for a wedding of a dear family friend, and enjoyed a quick dose of beach time.  

 Chad and I on the pier at Santa Cruz

Sea lions hunting

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Installing Doors and Windows

One of the more interesting discoveries inside our walls was this old door. Some prior owner no longer wanted a door to the back yard, so they sided and framed right over the door, as well as an old window next to the door. Although it was a cool find, it had to go.  The wood was rotting and the paint, almost surely lead-based, was bubbling and chipping off in a disturbing manner. I did take some time to salvage the cool hardware, however- an old door knob and a very cool latch that still works great.  We'll find another use for them soon, I'm sure. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chimney Demolition

With our foundation work nearly complete, it was time to move on to the chimney demoliton, one of the bigger tasks of the remodel. In the photo below, you can see how large the chimney base was (the structure on the left side of the photo). It was also smack dab in the middle of the new bedroom, so it had to come out.

We chose a dry day to pull down the exterior section of the chimney.  Chad borrowed a fall protection kit, strapped in, and got to work chipping the chimney apart, brick by brick. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Basement remodel- structural surprises in the north wall

With our new footings dug and our beams replaced/ reinforced/ strapped down on our home's south and west walls, It was time to open up the easier walls to the north and east (easier because they're the "daylight" sides of our daylight basement, and not holding up a ton of earth uphill).  Chad demolished the drywall and framing, which was 12" in from the exterior wall of the house, presumably to cover up the plumbing main.  Once the wall was gone, though, we quickly discovered that the plumbing was not the only thing hiding.  There was also a gigantic hole in the slab, underneath which was standing groundwater.  

In addition to the standing water, Chad noticed a half-inch gap between the edge of the slab floor in the basement, which meant that this groundwater issue had caused some erosion, making the wall of the house move away from the slab.  Yikes. This was not, in fact, going to be the easy wall.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Basement remodel- reinforcing the foundation on our south and west walls

Once we got all of our drywall demolished, we found some alarming conditions in our foundation.  In the crawl space behind the pony wall, on the uphill sides of the house (the south and west walls), we found a number of wooden posts with no footings holding up the rim of our house. 

You can see that the post in the photo on the left has partially collapsed, which was making our kitchen floor sag towards the edge of the house. The post in the right photo is at least straight, but it is holding up a joint in the exterior rim of the house (neither of these conditions are exactly ideal in the case of an earthquake... luckily there haven't been any of those since we've moved in!).

Friday, November 1, 2013

SCCA / Starbucks Cyclocross race

Last week, our team hosted our annual Starbucks Gran Prix Cyclocross race at Marymoor Park.  I haven't been racing this season because my thyroid has been misbehaving, which has made any kind of endurance activity difficult. I headed out to Marymoor to help out with race support, cheer for my teammates, and enjoy the debauchery as a spectator. Our team showed up in grand style, rocking an amazing assortment of costumes and collectively kicking ass. We had a gender bending French maid, and a sporty cowboy.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Basement demolition

Behold our very plain, very poorly finished basement.  A few months ago (well nearly a year ago, if I'm honest), we decided it was time to tear down the walls.  We were working through plans with the architect and our structural engineer, and we wanted to get a sense of foundation conditions, plus it was just time.  Chad struck the first blow, and just like that, we were in demolition mode. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lexi's recovery

My garden and mountain bike buddy has made a pretty incredible recovery.  After her five-day stay at the vet, she came home and turned a corner.  Her appetite came back and in about a week, she was back on the road to recovery. We're still not sure what the problem was- it may have been acute liver poisoning, or it may be a condition a bit more chronic in nature. We have her on these horribly smelling but highly effective liver supplement chews, and they definitely seem to be working because she's back to her normal, spunky self. 

Last weekend, we took a trip to the Methow to do a little mountain biking, hang out with friends, and enjoy a sunny Eastern Washington fall weekend.  I was especially aware of how grateful we are to have this dog (as well her dog brother Chase) in our lives.  Their goofy antics really enrich our lives. 

Lex and Chase keeping watch on the porch

Chase and Lex cuddling with Tye and Achilles

Friday, September 20, 2013

Get better, miss Lexi!

Miss Lexi Lou has been at the vet's since Monday with a bad case of vomiting.  We were initially thinking she might have eaten something that was blocking her intestines, but it turns out that the problem is with her liver.  For now she is stable, and might even get to come home today, but we're waiting to find out whether this is a short term problem that will resolve itself, or something more chronic.  We're crossing our fingers for short term/ easy resolution, and hoping and hoping she gets to come home for the weekend. 

Lex has been my number one garden buddy since the first day she came home with me on a "trial foster period." We were living in Ballard at the time, and I was just starting to get to know this little dog.  I was digging up some turf in the planting strip to make room for a vegetable bed.  Lexi watched me intently as I fought with a particularly stubborn clump of grass.  After a few minutes, she walked over to the clump of grass, grabbed it in her mouth, planted both feet, and pulled as hard as she could.  It popped out of the soil, and Lexi was so excited she shook it all over the place, dirt clods flying everywhere.  I laughed and laughed, and knew right then that the foster period was over, and that I had found myself a great garden helper. Indeed, she's been a constant garden companion to me ever since that day. She is always by my side, whether I'm planting, weeding, or harvesting (particularly when I'm picking, ahem, peas.)  Because she's on my mind today, I rounded up some of my favorite garden shots of her. Get better, Lexi-Lou, our dear bubeleh!  Chad and I are thinking of you today and sending you all of our healing, loving thoughts.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Digging in to our home remodel

After four plus years of living in our little house in Rainier Beach, we've finally dug in to our long-planned remodel.  Although there have been downsides to living in our fixer as-is, we've had plenty of time to figure out what we like about the place and what we'd like to change. 

Family portrait on our first day as home owners back in 2008

Friday, August 9, 2013

Oregano Buzz

The oregano is blooming. A tidier gardener might have been tempted to trim it back, but I'm not tidy, plus I'm fascinated by this herb's frequent visitors of late.

The oregano patch starts each morning quietly, in the shade. When the sun comes out, the entire patch lights up with buzzing.  Bumblebees can't resist this delicate white bloom. 

Honeybees are equally drawn to these frilly cups, and it's fascinating to watch them forage.

I'm hoping some of that oregano flavor makes its way into the honey this year. 

Happy Friday from Chase!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Garlic harvest

You may remember that I was really excited about purchasing garlic last fall and determined to actually have a respectable garlic yield.  Over the course of the last 8 months, I watched my garlic go from  tiny sprouts...

Garlic sprouts, early 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

4 legged Pea Eater

Our peas started out quite slowly this year, and for awhile it didn't look like they were going to do much.  In late April they finally started to climb the trellis, but looked quite skinny.  

The heat and moisture combo of June this year, though, really inspired them to grow, so by late June we were in full-on pea-harvest bliss.  

Sugar-snap peas are a cherished treat in our home- we love to make stir fries, risottos, or just eat them straight out of the garden.  My loyal garden buddy has picked up this habit too, it seems.  

For a little while I thought about busting her for this, but it completely charms me, maybe because she finds so much joy in eating them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

June Methow weekend - rattlesnakes and mountain bikes

The last weekend in June, we headed east on Highway 20 for a quick Methow getaway.  The objective of the weekend was to put the dogs through a rattlesnake aversion training class, so that they could learn to steer clear of rattlesnakes on our many Eastern Washington adventures.  

Though we had intended to do this training for quite some time, it was an encounter with this guy over Memorial Day weekend, on a hike in the Tieton River Valley, which solidifed our decision:   

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dogproofing the garden

Let me introduce you to two of my biggest garden nemeses:  Lexi and Chase.  

While I adore these monsters, they can be horribly destructive in the garden.  Here's some evidence: 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I wear while pedaling: Icebreaker merino wool

Over the years, I've collected quite a few Icebreaker pieces.  While not cheap, they are durable and really versatile, and always made of high quality merino wool. Merino wool, in my opinion, is the perfect fabric for cycling.  It is soft and comfortable (not itchy in the least!) it wicks moisture well, breathes well, and performs well when wet.  It doesn't get stinky the way synthetics do, so you can ride in it and then go straight to the office, bar, dinner party, grocery store, etc, without having to change out of your cycling gear. Simple!

While there are many companies making merino clothes, I value Icebreaker's strong environmental, manufacturing and animal welfare ethics. They have a very transparent supply chain - you can even trace your garment's "baacode" (ha ha!) back to the farm in New Zealand from which its wool originated.

This sheep looks like it has a pretty fantastic life, don't you think? 

Here are some of my favorite Icebreaker pieces:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sprouts and Seeds

I took advantage of a sun break between wind and rain squalls to spend some time in the garden today.  I seeded brassicas - cabbage, broccoli, kale, raddicchio and broccoli raab, and prepped another bed for carrots, turnips, spinach, lettuce and arugula, which I'll seed tomorrow morning.  

I did a little weeding along bed edges, but mostly just spent some time watching the garden wake from her winter nap. 

The red kale has overwintered nicely. Actually, it overwintered looking pretty wimpy, but just this week has burst out with large, tender, juicy leaves.  I'm always impressed by this plant's ability to thrive in our climate.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Three Sisters Beef Purchase

Last Saturday night I left the house around 10pm for a time-sensitive pick up  of two large, heavy boxes. What was inside?

Box of yum.


Delicious, beautiful swoon-worthy beef.  And so much of it!  To be more precise, about one eighth of a cow  from 3 Sisters Beef on Whidbey Island, our share of a whole-cow purchase organized by our friends Joe and Venessa. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bicycle baby track jacket

I've been off the bike for most of December and January.  It's been cold, I've been battling some respiratory crud, and I needed a little mental break from my typical bike commute.  I've been using my daily light rail ride to knit some fuzzy, warm wintertime gifts- cowls, hats, and fingerless gloves, all which would be great cycling accessories. However, the project I'm the most excited about, as of late, is a "welcome" gift for a very young cyclist-to-be. 

Little Atticus is about 3 months old, and his parents own and operate an amazing bike shop on San Francisco's heavily bicycled Market Street, Huckleberry Bikes. In addition to fitness/ performance cycling, Huckleberry Bikes has a special focus on bicycle commuting, and they stock a fierce assortment of ultra stylish cycling threads.

It's only fitting that Atticus should be outfitted in bikey threads as cool as those sold in mom and dad's shop.  With this in mind, I modified an easy top-down sweater pattern into a warm and toasty winter "track jacket."

The back (my favorite part!)