Deck Staining!

Before and After! Boom!


Aside: Do not underestimate a staining event. This took the two of us 4.5hrs to complete. The spindles felt like a marathon.

Please note: Not only did we stain the deck, we spray painted our grass a gross yellow color. Awesome!

The Toddy Coffee

This weekend we cold brewed some Toddy Coffee.


The Toddy Coffee kit consisted of four parts: a large plastic steeping container, a glass carafe, filters and a plug. Per the instructions we started by placing the filter into the steeping container adding water and coarse coffee grinds.



It was a bit of a back-and-forth between the grinds and the water. Ultimately, the recipe called for 6 cups of water and 12 ounces of coffee.


Once everything was in: a 12 hours wait.

The following morning we placed the steeping container over the carafe, pulled the plug out of the bottom and watched the coffee drip through!



Once brewed, Jen and I prepared our blind taste test.

We ended up first pairing the toddy against a Keurig K-cup brewed directly over ice. We let the temperatures stabilize and put the beverages into unmarked glassware.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.53 PM

We did three tests:
1. black
2. with cream
3. with cream and sugar

The Toddy Coffee was WAAAY stronger than the Keurig. The internet was all about smoothness of Toddy compared to other brews, but the Keurig tasted so watered down smoothness never entered the picture. Black, with cream, or with cream and sugar the Toddy dominated on flavor.

We’re going to have to try brewing the same beans with traditional methods vs the Toddy.

Toddy Coffee

Adding to the week of Darcy, on Wednesday Jen and I received a very cool present from Darcy: A Toddy Coffee brewer and a complementary burr grinder.

You might be asking: “What in grinds name is Toddy Coffee?”

Here’s the deal with Toddy coffee: It’s a cold brew coffee that takes about 12-24hrs of steeping. You use a coarsely ground bean so that it doesn’t overpower the coffee and let it sit in cool water for the long haul. Then you filter it and voila! Toddy coffee! The pros say that the cold brew prevents acids from busting up the coffee with bitterness, the resulting beverage is said to be sweet, smooth and easy on the stomach.

Is this true? Or is this all coffee-snob hype?

This is what we’re going to do. I’m going to make a batch this weekend and we are going to do a blind taste test comparing the Toddy with chilled coffee that was brewed via traditional methods. There are other cold brew technologies out there like Japanese cold coffee which has the coffee brewed directly onto ice; and Toddy will be put to trial against these other methods as well. But our approach will be a one-on-one blind test showdown, Mortal Kombat style, with Toddy Coffee taking on each competitor one at a time.

Only the best will make it to the next round.

I will report the results.

A Tattoo

Darcy visited the new house last weekend and with her came her new Tattoo:


It is, of course, the silhouette of Missouri with a lovely water-color style Cardinal in the foreground.

Mike D: “Is the Cardinal the state bird of Missouri?”
Darcy: “Nope.”

Now, unofficially the Cardinal is kinda the city bird of Saint Louis, Darcy’s hometown. (Fun fact: Per this website the baseball team The Cardinals were named because the team wanted their team colors to be red and white).

And while her Tattoo has genuine personal meaning, I can’t help but LOVE the idea of slightly inaccurate tattoos.

Here are two I came up with:
Pennsylvania with a keyhole in it
A molecular diagram of chocolate labeled “Caffeine”

Lawn Care.

Wow, landscaping is annoying. Specifically: lawn care.

The HoR had a spectacular 0.14acres of land, of which approximately 50% was grass. This did not take much care. A quick mow every week or two and that was about good. Now that I have a real house with a real lawn I am interested in keeping it managed and lush.

There’s a really great This Old House page that goes into great detail on steps… but it feels pretty extreme. Rather extensive, expensive and certainly not a short term fix. While I’ll probably find myself doing the extreme when my cheap efforts fail, right now I’m going for cheap and easy.

This is what I found:

Seeding: Overseed. And rough up that dirt before you put the seed down.

Overseeding is easy. Roughing up dirt with a bow rake? Not that hard on good soil but on our rocky soil it’s a beast. I could buy more topsoil or get a roto-tiller, but that’s major lawn surgery and we’re back on the extreme scale.

Watering: Twice a day for new grass, 1″ of water each time.

1″ of water is a LOT of water. Websites all over the place suggested putting an empty tuna can on the lawn; you stop watering when the tuna can is full.

I tried this with a traditional impact sprinkler. After 15minutes of watering, the can didn’t even have a 1/4″ of water. I am still trying to figure out how many minutes are needed to get an inch. Right now I’d describe my watering efforts as moistening not watering. Unfortunately, our low yield well pump makes lawn watering for extended periods a little extra tricky.

The This Old House link up above conflicted with this advice instead saying 5-10minutes. I’ll trust Bob Vila on this one.

Mowing: Use sharp blades, cut one-third the length.

This one I can do.
Once I buy a mower.

Oriole Sighting!

This weekend Jen and I got a glimpse of two Baltimore Orioles in our backyard. What a treat! The bird is fairly rare in Connecticut and rather shy, so it was a bonus to have them hang around long enough for a photo.


Unfortunately, I don’t have a good zoom lens so the quality is low. Still, it’s a good start.