Tuesday, April 29, 2014


So I'm inspired by all the tutorials that I see on Pinterest and have tried a few out.  From now on I think I might just document my own projects on the blog.  We're not using it for much else anyway.

Project 1  - Bird Feeder

I wanted a bird feeder for the yard but wasn't too thrilled with the ones at the store, they were either too expensive or not cute so I, of course, turned to Pinterest.  I found a few that were sold on Etsy but I'd rather make my own so I copied the general idea.

I went to the local farmer supply store and picked up a chicken feeder for about $3.  It's made to screw into a mason jar (which I just happened to have!) and sit on the ground.  In order to elevate it, I grabbed some hemp cord I had laying around and just started tying knots.  Here's what I ended up with:

I should really go back and clean up the ends but I was too excited to get it up so the birds could snack!

After about a week I started seeing all sorts of birds including this beautiful cardinal and his mate.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ice Storm

Last week I experienced my first ice storm.  (I don't even know if that's the right term.)   I'm starting to question if I really did move to the south.  There has just been too much frozen precipitation lately to be the south.

Wednesday morning I was reading in the living room listening to all the branches snap off the trees and fall.  I timed it at one point and at least one branch was falling every two minutes.  I was just sitting there waiting for one to fall on the house.  Thankfully we didn't have any damage to the house.

We did lose power for a little over 24 hours. When we did have power, we had friends over who didn't have power at their places.  The city didn't shut down quite as completely as the storm a couple weeks before even though I thought this storm was worse because of all the power outages.

We've had so many days off from school that for the month of March school will start 15 minutes early and get out 15 minutes late to make up the time.  It's better than losing spring break.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day!

You know you live in the south when half an inch of snow shuts down your city for 3 days! 

This was the view from our back door this morning after our huge winter storm. 

The view from the woods better shows that the snow wasn't even enough to cover the grass. Despite that, the hospital went into emergency lock-down.  It's really more of a lock-in.  Some people are chosen to work and a few sent home.  If you have to stay to work, you're stuck at the hospital until the lock-in is over, even during your off hours. Jules was locked-in during Hurricane Irene two years ago.  This time he go to come home because he works this weekend. 

We took advantage of his unexpected reprieve from work.  Jules came home around noon yesterday and we spent the afternoon watching TV and napping.  Today we stayed in bed until late and made a grand breakfast.  We also went for a walk in the woods behind the house. Tomorrow he goes back to work but not until 10 am!  I have another day off tomorrow as all schools are closed for day number 3.   

Denver had a blast.  As far as we know, this was is first taste of snow.  He ran around jumping and leaping about.  He loved it!

To be fair, the snow was more ice than snow.  We had a couple hours of frozen rain and sleet before the snow.  We went to some friend's for dinner last night in the middle of the "storm" and did just fine.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2013: A Year in Review

I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions, but I suppose that given the relative dormancy of this blog over the past year pledging to post more frequently the goings-on of the Maendel family might not be a terrible idea.  To that end, here's a small attempt to cover a few of the more exciting episodes from 2013.

Home Improvement:
Sometime in Spring I finished a slew of outdoor projects around the house, the largest of which were installation of a slate patio and a privacy fence complete with single as well as double gates.  Smaller efforts included wheelbarrow restoration, rain barrel installation, compost barrel manufacture, and garden construction (see Wife's last post for the latter).

Boundary Waters/"Paddlapalooza":
I've wanted to take a trip to the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota for a long time, and last May we finally made it up there along with my friend Sharon (Vida days), her husband Miguel, and their friend Andy.  Sharon and Miguel live in St Paul.  We flew into the Twin Cities and then proceeded to load Sharon's sister's canoe onto their tiny car like true Minnesotans and drive our happy little party three hours north to Duluth.  There, we picked up Andy with his truck, another canoe, and a kayak, and drove the additional three hours into THE BOONIES along a two lane road called the Gunflint Trail.  The Boundary Waters is one of the few remaining areas of true Wilderness left in the lower 48 States.  No one lives within the borders of this vast wilderness area, and approximately 70% of lakes its lakes are accessible by canoe/portage only.  One can literally go days without seeing another canoe party, and trips can range from one or two days to weeks depending on how much time/energy/stamina one has.  In any case, we chose to spend four days and three nights paddling around in this enchanted landscape (waterscape?).  The fishing was excellent - as one would expect in an area only accessible by canoe.  We spent the majority of our time camping on Ogishkemunchie Lake ("Ogish" to us Boundary Water vets), about four lakes and a full day's paddle/portage in from Seagull Lake where we put in.  We got caught in a deluge on the way back and had significant percentages of our canoes fill with water, but made it back safe and soggy.

Travel MN-style!

 The prerequisite trip to the Walmart rental center (a classic Vida tradition)

Whole areas around the first few lakes were burned in a 2004 fire
 By the time we got to our own private island, we had crossed the fire line

Yup, that's how we roll

We put in at the top right end of Seagull, main campsite is bottom left

On the way back we took a detour and instead of doing a poorly maintained portage, the Wife and I ran the rapids between lakes!



The rainy last day on the paddle back
Back soaked but safe!

Appalachian Trail:
Fast forward to Autumn, when I had a few days off in a row which we spent hiking a 30-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail near Asheville, NC.  We brought the dog and he promptly fell in love with the backpacking experience.  Blisters and IT-band issues notwithstanding, we had an awesome time hiking/camping for little more than the cost of gas/food.

On of the ubiquitous white trail markers along the AT
 A well-deserved rest for man and beast atop Bluff Mountain

No pain no gain

Arrival in Hot Springs, NC - the end of our three-day journey

Battleship Half-Marathon:
I started running with the dog this past year, and over the course of a few months worked my way up to half-marathon distance.  Three weeks before the Battleship Half Marathon - a yearly race here in Wilmington where you start and end at a WWII battleship/museum and run over three bridges along the route, I injured my left IT band hiking on the AT (see above).  Come race day it was still hurting but I applied some topical diclofenac, popped a few ibuprofen/tylenol, wrapped the knee, and hope for the best.  It hurt for the first few miles then settled down, and the remainder of the race went well (if rather slow - I only just got under my 2 hour goal).  My friend Rick did it with me - it was also his first Half, so we were both rather pleased that we even finished.  Good times, large medals!

That concludes the 2013 highlight reel.  Bring on 2014!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Cold November Day

So today is just another day, but today I remembered that we have a blog. So here's a update:

 The seedlings in the eggshells did very well. They shot up right away but they also ran out of room fast! I was a bit worried that the tender little seedlings wouldn't be able to break out of the eggshell when I transplanted them in the garden so I pre-broke many of the shells to give them a leg up. Turns out that many of them couldn't even get through the eggshell with that help. When I checked on them weeks later, I found that many of the roots just grew up over the shells and then down. I even tried it with other veggies but had the same result. I think I'm going to forgo the eggshells next year.

Here's a picture of the veggie garden just after we made it.  (And by we I mean Julian with minimal help from me)  And of course, there's Denver soaking up the sun. He kind of blends in!

 Our dog is adorable and we love him. He can do basic commands now and I'm teaching him to pick things up off the floor for me, he he. Occasionally, when he feels wronged or loses his chew toys under the couch he wrecks havoc! He also thinks that yarn is a dog toy. We've had to rewind several skeins.  The red tangle in the middle is actually one of his toys.  It used to be a lobster rope toy.

 But I'm painting a bad picture. He is usually very good. Everyone loves him and he loves everyone (except cats and squirrels). He will just hang out in the front yard with me if I'm gardening and he loves to go out and tramp about the woods behind our house.