Archive for the ‘The Yard’ Category

Tomato garden 2014

Like every year, we planted our 2014 tomato garden along the sunny side of the garage.  Unlike every other year, however, this year the first 6 tomato plants went into the ground Mothers Day weekend – at least 3 weeks earlier than usual.  For most of a month, they stayed protected in a mini-greenhouse tube made of plastic and wire semi-hoops.

The early planting and efforts to keep them warm in May were in response to last year’s tomato harvest, which didn’t start in earnest until September. With frosts coming in early October, the tomato plants were a lot of work all summer for not much yield.

Here they are this year on July 19:


Today is August 1 – and checking in on our plants, here’s what we find:


The left-most plant is finally taller than I am.


The 6 plants nearest the front of the house/the door are obviously the ones planted in May.  The other 5 were planted in June, per usual.  The difference in the size of the plants is obvious – and we picked our first 3 tomatoes today.  They are not ready to eat yet, but they are orange enough to continue ripening in the relative safety of the window.  Planting 3 weeks early seems to have moved the harvest up by at least that 3 week margin.



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The new welcome at Guin’s Yard

When last we discussed the front door, it was last October and we were deciding on a shade of purple for the front and side garage doors, and getting the new doors underway. We decided on a door color and hardware style, ordered, painted, and installed the side door, and after debating the relative merits of steel vs. fiberglass, and various styles, we also ordered the front door.

We expected the new front door to come in November, and we were hoping to paint and install it before the freezing winter months came.  I was hoping for that partly because it irritated me to see one purple door and one red door when I came home, and partly because the red front door was really pretty terrible, by which I mean thermally inefficient and also unsightly, what with its yellowed plastic window frame, etc.

Since it was something I was hoping to get done on some kind of schedule, you can guess how that actually went down.  Like a lead balloon.

The door we picked out was a Jeld-Wen steel six-light craftsman style door.  I like the craftsman style, and I thought this was about as far in that direction as we could get away with putting on our 1980s fauxlonial.  We ordered it from Curtis Lumber in Delmar, and at 8+ months out now, I don’t even remember the whole saga, just that it was awful.  First it was delayed, then when it came it was wrong, then the replacement was also delayed, then when it arrived it also wasn’t as-ordered.  You get my drift.  By that time it was late December, the door was a month+ late, it was still wrong, and even if we were inclined to install a new door that wasn’t what we ordered, temperatures had fallen to only sometimes being above 10*F.  We declined delivery and decided to shelve the whole project until spring.  Annoying.

In any event, spring eventually came, even though there were weeks when I thought it might not.  We ordered a new door, this time a fiberglass Therma Tru version of the same style:

from GNH Lumber in Greene County.  They were much more helpful, and as it turned out, they had us order a different size (depth) door frame than Curtis had.  (Now that the door is installed, I can confirm that GNH’s size was the correct one.)

The door spent a few weeks on saw horses in the living room being drilled and painted.


The door came pre-drilled for the door knob and deadbolt, but we needed to drill the third, 3/8″ hole for the bottom end of the handle set we picked out.  Not a big deal on a fiberglass door.  We chose Schlage handle sets and knobs in oil rubbed bronze for the entry doors, to match the exterior light fixtures.

We already knew we were going with SW Dewberry paint to match the side door, so that part was easy.  The painting itself took some time; primer then 3 coats per side, plus a week or so of drying time between sides before flipping it over.  Originally I had planned to paint the outside purple and the inside white like the current door.  But then I thought about how bland our entry space is, with all its neutrals, and how really bland it would be when we finally get rid of the green carpet on the stairs.  So we decided to go wild and paint both sides Dewberry.  I am eventually going to order a print (or a stretched canvas? or something?) for the foyer wall of this photo from our trip to Italy a few years ago:

to match the door.  But I digress.

So, finally!, the door was purple’d and ready to install.  We took the old door and frame out, no problem.

IMG_0772 IMG_0773

But when we went to install the new one, we discovered the hard way that although the measurements of the door frame was the same “size” as the old door frame, the frame was 1/4″ (or less) wider than the old door frame.  When installed, the brick facade on the house was squeezing the door frame so that, with great force, we could get the pre-hung door frame in place, but the door wouldn’t open and close once it was there.  Now what?

So began a tense week or two, since door issues meant we couldn’t readily lock and secure the house.  We got the door in place temporarily, locked it, and just used the garage until we could figure it out.  After some trial & error, we bought a grinder and a masonry blade to grind down the bricks along the sides of the doorway.  About 1/8″ to 1/4″ needed to come off each one on average, some more, some less.  There were several days of brick grinding and dust-generating.  It was awful.  We had red brick dust everywhere.  When we were done I washed walls, I vacuumed it up from the 2nd floor, I washed it from the living room couch slip cover, I brushed it off the dogs, the light fixtures, the bannisters, the dining room table… I mean it was everywhere.  In any event, we eventually got the bricks ground, the door in, and it kind of, sort of, worked.


The bricks were no longer the problem, but the upper vertical edge of the door was still rubbing and sticking badly.  You can see near the top where the purple paint was already being rubbed off (which hurt my heart, after all the weeks of careful painting!)  A level confirmed that the door and frame were perfectly square, and the door was rubbing in exactly the same place the old red door used to rub.  Go figure.

Since we were able to lock the door and secure the house, we gave up on making it work ourselves and called in the big guns.  My parents came to visit for the weekend, and the boys went to work.  I honestly don’t know what magic they worked on the wood framing of the wall, but my door opens and closes with ease now.  All I know is that it involved adjusting the wood framing, and it was done very precisely, just like everything else my dad does.  The same fix would’ve helped the old door, had we done it sooner.

So yay!  Now we have our purple front door, and it opens and closes smoothly.  It was actually finished in about April, but better late than never on the blog post.

The purple is tough to take a good picture of, under the porch roof.  This photo, from a bike-bath day, shows the color a little better in the sun:


I still need to paint the step below the door, probably purple (since white would show everything), but that’s the story on the front door!  It makes it really easy to give directions to our house – golden retriever on the mailbox and a purple door, you can’t miss it!  We also painted the interior trim white and re-affixed it, but we’ll get to the inside of the foyer soon (I promise!).

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Outdoor progress

The side garage door is purple.  We like it!

Final verdict: SW Dewberry

The onion globe light fixtures are installed:  we like them too, although they don’t look as different as we imagined they might.

We also installed a new closet door, which will be the first of many.  We still need to paint it.  If I have time later I’ll do a whole post on that project.  We are doing slab doors rather than pre-hung inside, so we’re going to get good with a router.


We will be replacing all 14 lauan interior doors (including closets) with solid pine 6-panel doors, and all the brass hardware with Schlage satin nickel knobs and hinges.  Now that the first one is up, it really shames the lauan doors!

Hopefully that will motivate me after the holidays to do the rest.  It will be a big project to hang and paint them all.  They will all be painted white, along with all the trim around the doors.  We stocked up on white semi-gloss at the Sherwin Williams 40% off sale this weekend!


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Outdoor lights

The exterior lights for the front porch and garage are ordered!  And at 10% off no less.

For the porch:

and for the garage (x3):


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One of this weekend’s projects was to pick the purple to use on our front door and garage side door.  We got samples of three to try:


Top: Dewberry SW6552
Lower left: Concord Grape SW6559
Lower right: Blackberry SW7577

Blackberry, the most burgundy, was eliminated right away.  The other two were much harder to decide between.



It was hard to tell them apart (Dewberry is on the top and Concord Grape on the bottom), and even harder to decide if this was really the right direction to go in.  The bright, warm red front door makes it so hard to independently assess other colors.  I even broke out the Sherwin Williams Paint Visualizer to see if it would help.  (I’m not sure it did.)

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 6.17.36 PM InScreen Shot 2013-10-20 at 6.18.03 PM

In any event, the consideration goes on.

DSC_0167The other, related question to ponder is whether to paint the red door or just replace it.  I unscrewed the ugly yellow plastic window frame just to see how it came apart (so I could paint it later), and was pretty appalled by what I found.  The screws going from inside to outside through the plastic are the only things holding the window pane into the door, and the plastic is cracked in multiple places.  Plus, there’s no insulation behind the plastic frame.  For about an inch around the edge of the glass, it’s just plastic frame between the warm indoors and the cold outdoors.  We could try blow-in insulation when we put it back together post-paint job if we want to stretch the door’s life a little longer, but I’m not really sure that’s the best road.  I’ve never liked the potential security issues associated with such a large window in the door, so close to the lock and knob, so this could push us over the edge.

There are three styles at Lowe’s that I like the look of:

Any comments on the purple debate or if you have a favorite door are welcome!


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Exterior doors, etc.

What started as a quick project to replace some rotting trim around our garage doors has gone the way of the usual DIY:  it has spiraled out of control.

First we replaced the trim around the main garage door.  We wanted to use PVC, so it would be low maintenance.  We needed 2x6s to replicate the old trim, though, and we couldn’t get those in PVC.  So we went with pressure treated lumber.

It’s still aging, unpainted, but we plan to prime it and paint it white later this fall.  The old trim was red, but we thought it looked kind of random like that, and called too much attention to how narrow it was.  The hope is that the white trim will just blend in.

Next up was the side garage door, which looked kind of a fright.

The red was faded from the sun and no longer matched (if it ever did?) the red of the front door.  Probably more relevant, in 5 years here, we’ve never succeeded in opening it.  We weren’t sure why it was stuck shut, but it was.  Plus, the door frame was rotting, which we initially sought to fix.

It turned out, though, that we couldn’t get the framing out without removing the door too (since it was stuck), and when we got the whole thing out, we discovered that the core of the door was rotting too:

At least it made the decision to replace with a new pre-hung door an easy one.

6-panel was an easy choice, and a step up from the old commercial-looking flat door.  But now we were faced with a whole slew of unexpected questions.  Door color?  Hardware color?  Type?  Since we could no longer lock and secure our garage, these questions had to be answered right away, and at Lowe’s.  No time for online ordering here.  (MY BIKE IS IN THE GARAGE, FOLKS.)

Our garage is now secure, with a new 6 panel exterior door, with an oil rubbed bronze Schlage deadbolt and knob set.  But the white is SO BORING.  Subdivision houses built in the 80’s and 90’s have a predisposition toward lacking character, and so often I think too much plain, functional white vinyl can add to that.  White vinyl trim and gutters make sense, white garage doors may too, but white doors just feel lazy!  No personality at all.

So now, for the first time in 5 years, we can reach out the door to throw trash out without walking outside.  It might be nice in the winter, if we ever remember we changed it!

Since our front door could also use a paint job (and eventually replacement, but let’s start with the gateway drug), we started talking paint colors.

We talked about red, black, white, blues, greens, teals, and so on.  Blue was largely out because our next door neighbors’ house has the same siding, same white vinyl trim, similar roof, and mid-blue trim.  I like red on the front door, but I didn’t like its randomness on the side door, nor did I like its inevitable clashing with our front yard flowers.  Green didn’t do much for us, and neither did black or white.  But purple?

I don’t know – maybe?!

(It has been driving me crazy ever since we took the storm door off, how the step doesn’t match the door.)

Of all the purples, the more eggplant hued colors seemed to look the best with the brick.  Our favorites so far are the darkest shades of each of the two vertical Sherwin Williams chips resting on the step:


Dewberry – SW 6552 (left)


Majestic Purple – SW 6545 (right)










I think I might like the relative warmth of Dewberry compared to Majestic Purple, but I could be swayed.  I’ve found a couple examples online of people who have tried each, and it isn’t really helping sway me.  Dewberry looks great here, but not as warm as I would have expected.  Majestic Purple looks great here too.  Incidentally, that siding color is very close to what I’m aiming for when we eventually do that.  We may need to do the sample thing to decide.

The third aspect of this project that has surfaced is really only tangentially related.  When you spend enough time staring at exterior doors and trim, you start to notice the light fixtures at each door.  Ours aren’t pretty.  I especially hate the flush mount fixture on the front porch.I picked these out as possibilities for the wall fixtures on the garage (2 front, 1 side):

but I’ve had some trouble finding shallow fixtures for the porch light that I like to coordinate with them.  I don’t think we have the vertical space for a pendant, and the flush- and semi-flush mount options are just so unappealing for the most part!The closest I’ve found for the porch is this:which is probably the best one I’ve seen yet, but I’m not 100% sold that it coordinates with the wall fixtures I liked.  There are wall fixtures that do coordinate,
but I’m not sure I like them quite as much as my original choice.  All of that probably means I need to keep looking, which is frustrating, but on the bright side is cheap thrills.
I guess we can chalk this up, though, to yet another expanding project.  Amazing how some rotted trim led to all this.  At a minimum, I’d really like to have the doors wrapped up this fall.

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Introducing Marcy

Guin’s Yard has undergone some expansion this holiday season, and we are pleased to welcome Miss Marcy home to Guin’s Yard!

Marcy joins big brother Guinness at the center of life in Guin’s Guin’s & Marcy’s Yard.  Our house has undergone a few temporary changes to accommodate her, including lots of baby gates, and her crate under the kitchen table, which will eventually move to the family room with Guinness’.

Guin and Marcy are well on their way to being best buddies, even now at 9 weeks for her and almost 6 years for him.  He has been very patient with her barking, noisily missing her littermates, and playing, sharp puppy teeth and all.

She was born November 2, 2012, and joined our family just in time for New Years 2013.  She is named for Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks.  Watch for the blog name to change, although the URL will remain the same.

Welcome to the Yard, little fur girl!

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