Friday, July 30, 2010

It takes a village....and craigslist

I have the best neighbors in the world.  You might think you do, but you don't, I do.  I also have the ugliest yard on the block, which might have something to do with all the help we have gottten this summer on our budget landscaping.

You might remember the tree that was the bane of my existence.  60 feet of black walnut that pooped on my yard and killed everything under it.  Budget tree guy from craigslist was $900 cheaper than other bids.  Mind you, hiring the cheapest guy on craigslist takes time and there are some drawbacks.  First you have to get them to call you back.  Then they postpone the estimate a couple of times.  They show up a few days late and look dirty and drunk.  They also knock on your neighbors door and ask for bandaids.

Here is where the neighbors started helping.  In addition to the first aid provided by Diane,  Mark with his chainsaw and Gordon with his brawn loaded up all the small logs and hauled them away as soon as the tree guys left.

We thought we would sell the big logs.  Then we thought we would make a floor out of them.  Also all researched on craigslist.  Many buyers were interested in the logs, but once they saw them, and how heavy they were, they disappeared.  Many mills were reasonable  and willing to make us a floor but transporting the logs was not reasonable and would have eaten up all the budget for the landscape.  Back to selling them.  Buyer from craigslist finally came and cranked them up by hand with a chain and a rachet.   It took 4 hours to load them.

Then the stump, another guy from craiglist and another visit from Mark and his chainsaw to get it out.  Mark's chainsaw turned out not to be big enough.   Enter Bob.  Another neighbor with a bigger chainsaw.

With the bobcat coming the next day, David and Karen, also neighbors, took pity on the mister and threw the wood from the  tree trunks into their truck and drove it away.  The mister had to roll the stump down the street, it was too heavy to load.  Mark will split it.  Did I mention David and Karen are in their 70's and threw the wood around like lumberjacks?  Three months later, the tree is gone.  And while I won't have a walnut floor I did save a couple pieces to make some of these.

The bobcat guy, again cheapest one on craigslist who would return a phone call, showed up ( 2 hours late) and ripped up the cracked and ugly concrete patio, and sort of graded the yard.  He also brought 3 pallets of sod and 10 tons of gravel for the paver patio base.
ugly concrete patio

I was imaging we then just roll out the sod, water, and voila!  Beautiful Lawn.  Ummm no.  There was much raking, tilling, shoveling, hauling, and swearing to be done first.    Enter more neighbors.  It started with Tina.  Just as I was about to murder the mister with a rake, the dog barking like a maniac, and the offspring fighting and crying; she came and made it instantly better with her sunny disposition.  She also put her 10 year old in charge of entertaining my kids and her dog in charge of entertaining my puppy.

how it looks this morning

A few minutes later, Gordon was raking, Tina was picking rock, Diane had all the kids (6)  and dogs (3) under control, and David came with a tiller and a big roller thingy that made the job go so much faster.  A few more  minutes later, Pierre was rolling sod, and  Noah and  Joseph were shoveling.  I was almost in tears with gratitude.  And by almost, I mean I was in tears.   I counted 10 different people who helped us in the last few weeks.  Best neighbors ever.  This weekend we have more sod to lay, gravel to spread, sand on top of that, and pavers to put down.  Later there are steps to build, a screen and a pergola to follow.  Plants and pavers for the walkways will wait til next spring, budget is tapped.  So is the keg.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hello Darkness My Old Friend II

Every once in awhile my obsession with black bedrooms comes back.
matha stewart

This might be a favorite with it's rough texture, except the pillows are too styled and matchy.
apatrment therapy

This headboard would make a lot of noise hitting the wall and probably scratch the paint

Still not over it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cafe Girl

Cafe GirlFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Cafe Girl by kmcreaj featuring Anthropologie

My original no kids plan today was bike ride, weed, lay by neighbors pool. But the overcastness makes me want to be her instead. Cafe Girl. Browse shops, buy a book, linger at a cafe and drink coffee, maybe wine, read my book. Feel relaxed and sophisticated, an alter ego to be sure.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things and Lakes and Real Estate: A Minnesota Weekend

Thing One and Thing Two are off to Grandma's for a few days!

He's feeling much better, thanks for your kind words.

Tonight I plan to take a walk with my bff around Lake of the Isles and have dinner at the park stand Tin Fish, where the only thing on the menu is fried fish.  This house is for sale on Lake of the Isles for 2.775 Million.

Tomorrow a date with the mister will include kayaking on Lake Minnetonka, where this house is for sale for 4.295 Million.

Saturday, it is 4 hours due North to join the kids at my parents on Leech Lake.  Where this house is for sale for 1.395 Million.  Buy it from my dad.  (He's the realtor, not the owner.) Hey Dad can I get a referral fee?  Just sayin...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School Supplies

I love school supplies. And while I am not in a hurry for summer to be over, it is never too early to stock up on supplies. Nevermind that I haven't been in school for (ahem) years. These are fun and from my fave local companies.

Monday, July 19, 2010

$700 kitchen reno

While the mister was unemployed he worked on many projects around the house.  Like this, this and this.  I have mentioned his propensity to take things to 90% completion and then move on to the next project, leaving a few details to be finished up later.  I don't get it, but I don't complain (yes, I do), free labor and he is pretty patient with my ever changing aesthetic and my endless list of projects for him.    He had this project done awhile ago, but didn't he grout the tile until this week.  These are the before pics.  Black laminate counters and a grubby and tiny stainless steel sink.

Above are the afters.  We choose butcher block counters from IKEA.  They were $120.  I have already stained it with a rusty vintage tray, then sanded and oiled the stain out.  No problem, looks great.  The sink and faucet are also from IKEA.  $250 and $250.  The sink is enormous.  Maybe too big for the scale of our kitchen but I don't care, I can fit all my pots and pans in there to soak, or give the dog a bath.  I could probably take a bath in it.  The tile is basic 2" x 4" subway tile from Lowes.  It was $17.  The grout color was called silver.  I would also like to replace the cabinet doors and hardware, but that is for another time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


sfgirl by bay posted these back in May, but I missed it.  I love this idea, she was inspired by that photo from Lonny.  You know the one, with all the pots with the perfect patina on the black table.  I'm not even linking it, you've seen it so many times.  I love how she re-interpreted it with the black walls and metal cart.  I want to do this in my entry way where currently my washer and dryer sit.  Yes, in entry to the side of my house, going into the kitchen.  Who thought that was a good idea?  But re-plumbing another room is out of the budget right now, so instead I will be jealous of her space.  Jealous is never a pretty emotion, but at least you can look at pretty pictures, while I wallow.  I am feeling low today as my kid goes on his 7th day of a stomach virus.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral II

Meet Ricki the mini labrador.  Or something.  He is part lab part, part terrier maybe?  We are not sure.  He came from a high kill shelter in Kentucky to a no-kill shelter in Minneapolis, to us.  The first 10 days we had him, he was the laziest dog ever.  He was on antibiotics for a cough.  He rode in the wagon.  Now that he is off the meds and healthy, he is a blur and doesn't slow down for a photo.  Except for the hours of 4am -7am where after his wee hours wee-wee he firmly entrenches himself between me and the mister, a little black wall.  

Vegetable: Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Corn Relish


Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for grates
  • 4 ears corn (husks and silks removed), or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 bunch scallions, half of bunch thinly sliced, other half cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 flour tortillas (10-inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 yellow squash, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 orange bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced


  1. Heat grill to low; lightly oil grates. Cut off tip of each cob. One at a time, stand each ear in a large wide bowl; with a sharp knife, carefully slice downward to release the kernels (you should have about 2 cups). Discard cobs.
  2. Add sliced scallions, lime juice, and oil to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Set corn relish aside.
  3. Place tortillas on a work surface. Dividing evenly, sprinkle half the cheese on bottom half of each tortilla. Top with squash, bell pepper, scallion pieces, and remaining cheese; season with salt and pepper. Fold top half of tortillas over filling to close.
  4. Grill quesadillas, turning once, until browned in spots and cheese has melted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve immediately with corn relish.



Today's mineral is Potassium.  Important to replace when you sweat.  It is Africa hot here.  I don't like bananas.  So I get my potassium from this:
Gatorade has calories.  Powerade Zero has artifcial sweetners.  Supplements are expensive, so if you have a long workout in the heat, a 1/2 tsp of this, in 4oz of water has 10x the potassium of gatorade.  Of course you will need to drink more than 4 oz of water.  Just do a shot of the salt water then drink the rest of your water plain.  Or sprinkle this on your oatmeal or whatever.  It is a little more bitter than table salt, from the potassium. Medical disclaimer: ask you doctor if you have blood pressure issues or other $hit wrong with you.  I'm not respsonsible for you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And the winner is...

True Random Number Generator  3Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Rachel!  Congrats!  Your gift card is on it's way.  Happy weekend.

Giveaway Ends Today!

Herman Miller ® Eames ® DSW - Molded Plastic Side Chair with Dowel-Leg Base - DSW
Enter here for $40 from CSN stores.  And buy this.  Time extended to 5pm Central.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel Bug

travel bugFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

travel bug by kmcreaj featuring J Crew

I want to go somewhere exotic. With someone fun. With some of this stuff. I think that watch may show up in every post I do. Also I must pack some comfy boy shorts where ever I go.