May 28, 2014

Cleaning Up & Grilling Out

We mentioned being able to knock out a few projects around the house over the 3 day weekend that have been on the list for months — well a couple of those included finally cleaning up the garage and creating a dedicated area for the grill out back.

First up, the garage. We have a pretty amazing free-standing brick garage, which is a bonus in our city neighborhood where street parking can sometimes be tough to find. It's also a really nice storage space and does a great job of housing many of our ongoing project tools and supplies.

We'd gotten to a point of almost getting everything organized when I drove a truck full of furniture back from Mary's mom's farm last August. Unloading everything from that trip was a lot of fun, and also gave us an excuse to "slide" on the whole organization thing. Things began to pile up and instead of putting things back in their place, we'd just find a space for a drop and run. You could call it a mell of a hess:

So, in an effort to prove to ourselves that we're not hoarders, we finally tackled the clutter! All in all it really only took about 2 solid hours of work together to get the space in shape. We pulled all the large moveable pieces out so I could sweep the floor, then decided what items should come inside the house, stay in the garage, get trashed or get listed in the Vintage shop

It's funny the things you'll "rediscover" when sifting through clutter — like this entire box filled with pictures and nicknacks I used to keep on my office desk:

Here's where we ended up:

We now have dedicated areas for Mary's jewelry bench and supplies, a gardening hutch, space for power tools and paints, cleared work-surfaces for projects and even room to actually park the car! The blue plastic baby pool we originally got for Basil found a new home as well. Basil graciously gifted it to his 4 little cousins (our nieces and nephew) to play with and enjoy throughout the summer since he never quite took to enjoying it himself.

Next up, our new grilling station!

Many of you know I'm a huge fan of charcoal grilling. My trusty old Weber has taken us a long way and provided just the right heat for many a good meal. I've also picked up a smoker along the way, which has been a lot of fun getting the hang of for all sorts of smoked meats and vegetables. While both of these guys have done a great job, it was just time we go ahead and pull the trigger on a new gas grill (the 3-day sale weekend and Stephanie's upcoming party didn't hurt in making that decision). I love cooking on a gas grill, but when our old one finally died over 4 years ago, I thought I could get by without it for a while. Well, a while turned into over 4 years and I'm excited to say we're cooking with gas again!

One of the benefits to waiting this long before getting a new gas grill turned out to be planning a stationary space for it. Our back patio space is limiting, so we needed to get a little creative. One afternoon while cleaning up the leaves back there it struck us that the space in front of the garage just under the window (pictured below) could be the perfect spot:

After measuring the width and comparing it to the grill I'd been eyeing, it would be the perfect fit. There was a little dirt bed made here when we moved in, most likely for flowers or other landscaping, but it wasn't quite large enough to fit the full sized grill:

After testing a couple of the patio bricks, we realized we could easily lift out an entire row to create the needed space and decided filling the area with white rocks would help create a dedicated landing space for the grill. So, I slowly lifted out the row of bricks one by one under the close supervision of our project inspector:

This left us with a stack of extra bricks to hold onto for a future project:

I went ahead and shoveled/raked excess dirt to create an even and level surface:

Then I fitted the entire open dirt space with a fancy weed blocker (also known as a large garbage bag) to prevent pesky weeds from overtaking our new grilling station:

After hammering edging bricks around the perimeter of the new space, I spread a thin layer of small pebbles over the plastic barrier just to get an initial layer of weight down and give the larger white rocks a little something to grab onto:

Next up, 3 bags of white rocks. Big thanks goes out to Basil for keeping a close eye on these for us just in case something were to happen:

I built these white rocks up all around the perimeter of the barrier bricks since the grill bottom would cover the center:

I have to admit, even though it's certainly a humble space, we were feeling pretty proud of our little rock enclosure! All that was left to complete this project was bringing in the grill:

Everything fit exactly to measurement and I pinched myself a little at the thought of being able to grill with gas again. Since the grill will live permanently outside, we bought the matching weather resistant grill cover to keep on it for protection.

So far everything's been holding up great and we enjoyed barbecued chicken for dinner last night — the first meal to break in the new grill:

Whew! It's almost summer and little updates like these can sometimes make all the difference in feeling prepared. I can't tell you how great it feels to not only have our garage back to an organized space, but to be spending more time outdoors enjoying these areas.

We'd love to know — have you kicked off grilling season yet? What are your favorite summer recipes for the grill?

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