Mossy Rock Wall

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If you have followed a number of the posts on this blog, you would find that we have been doing front yard ‘landscaping’.  We built a paver stone pad for our corn hole games… and then got completely carried away and built a pizza oven.  You can see the posts on that here (Part 1), here (Part 2) and here (Part 3).  If you take a look at these, make sure you click on the videos to see the videos – the best part 🙂

To complete this section of the yard we decided to build a little pony wall and ‘decorate’ it with solid rock face made from mossy rocks we would collect in the forest.  Little did we know when we took on this project how much work it would really be!

Once we dug and poured the footer, laid the block wall and filled it with concrete we were ready to begin the real work!

First we collected a number of trailers full of hand selected flat mossy rocks from the woods.

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Then we carefully put a large rock base layer along the bottom.

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We chiseled rocks that were too roundy or large, down to a more flat even size.

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And proceeded to build up the wall with stone.

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Because they were such large stones we used screws anchored in the wall to hold them in place, mortared the back side, and used large metal ‘sticks’ to clamp them in place while they dried.

We worked side to side every day, picking the perfect rock to fit into its given space, trying to maintain as small of grout lines as possible.

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When all the rocks were in place, we used die to color our grout and custom applied and finessed the grout between each rock.

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Finally we made a cardboard template for the rock top.  The rock top will be custom cut to our template from rock we pick from the rock quarry in Drake, AZ (about 3-4 hrs from our home).

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Whew!  A lot of hard work pays off with a beautiful detail wall.

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Let there be flowers

So if you’ve followed this blog you might have noticed that we take on some fairly oddball and eclectic projects.  It’s not because we lie awake at night and try to think of these ‘interesting’ projects.  We actually see a need… and just aren’t scared of the work or the ‘we’ve never done that before’ or ‘we don’t know how’, or ‘we don’t have the skillset’ (my personal favorite).  Those phrases we hear from other people, just aren’t in our vocabulary.  Many of our projects, believe it or not, come about because we come up with some good idea… but we can’t buy ‘it‘ or it is too expensive to buy.

Take our concrete table for instance.  Who builds their own concrete table?  We didn’t set out to build our own concrete table… but we were just too cheap to pay the 4 figures for a seemingly simple concrete table.  We asked instead… ‘how hard could it be’?  Well… we found out!

But I digress…  We are still working on the project that just keeps giving… our pizza oven. Somehow it’s hard to work outside when the ground is covered with ice and snow.  But we are determined to find an end to this project so that we can move on to something else.  So we put in the wiring and the lights.

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We put lights under the eaves of the pizza oven roof, aiming down at the granite counter top.  We also hung mood lights in the trees.  We draped them across the drive way, drawing the eye to the pizza oven itself.  To do so, we erected a tall 12′ post to swag the lights between.  We found the tall silver post, at least during the daylight, to be a bit of an eyesore.

At night, you can’t really see the post, and the lights look good.

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So we decided that the silver post needed something to distract from it.  Maybe it’s being in the middle of winter with snow all around, and more expected.  Maybe it’s our unconscious desire for the onslaught of Spring.   Wellll…..

When we were in New Mexico in November 2015 (just a couple months ago), we went to Ruidoso as recommended by our friend Gary. We purchased a ‘bushel’ of metal flowers and brought it home, not knowing exactly what to do with it.  It has sat in our basement ever since.  That is until we were looking for something to distract from that silver post.  So we cut the base off and the flowers apart and re-purposed them… trimming them and cutting them back, flattening their ends, and drilling holes in them.  We painted the post and mounted the flowers, carefully arranged, like a vertical flower arrangement.  Let there be color in the middle of our winter.  No more eye sore of a silver post… Let there be flowers.

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Much better!

And people ask us what we do in retirement.

Nutin’ .  Sit around and drink coffee all day. 🙂

 

 

 

Pizza Oven Final

Finally, you get to see the finale of the Pizza Oven.  It’s been a long hard 6 months of labor… and while it’s still not quite done, here is the final installment of our efforts.

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We still have yet to complete the lower ‘cabinet’ doors, hook up the gas jets, and complete the wiring, lights, etc.  But winter is here, and Christmas is coming… so it’s time to do something else that is more in keeping with the weather… like go cut down a Christmas tree.

This project has been larger than life… and exemplifies our mantra – go big or go home.  It has consumed our year with it’s many facets, but it’s final result is something we can step back from and be pleased with.  Now on to experimenting with it and perfecting great recipes in our new wood fired / gas outdoor oven.

 

Salt Cellars

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As we continue to finish up the pizza oven exterior (currently working on the pizza oven doors), we shift our attention to the ‘accompaniments’ to the pizza oven.  Not only will be have to develop custom drawers and ‘tool rack’, we’ll have to develop the tools themselves (pizza peel, brush, etc.) and a system to break them down for storage.  Alas, we are not quite there yet.

But we did find time to make salt cellars for the salt, crushed red pepper, and oregano condiments that will accompany the pizzas once they are finally coming out of the oven.

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We made several… out of red heart cedar… and spruce.  They’ll make great details for our custom pizza oven.  I’m ready to make pizza… too bad our pizza oven isn’t.

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Pizza Oven, Part Two: The Oven

If doing the prep wasn’t enough of a chore… building the actual oven, was a mathematical, mind bending, brick laying challenge.   But gratifying none the less.  The bigger the challenge, the larger the reward.  We worked hard, and yielded great results.

They have been making pizza ovens for centuries… so what makes it so hard?  As someone who saw what we were doing… “it isn’t a kit?” No.  How do you know where they go… each row is custom.. and each piece individual.  Not only is it not a kit.. we have no plans.  If we weren’t worried about doing a quality job, with good clean joints, and sharp lines… it would have been an easier task.  But we took our time to assure we could ‘productionize’ each step, making the joints as small as possible, and thermal dynamics (and heat transfer) as uniform and even as we could to make an efficient, sound, and beautiful oven.

Each day is an adventure… and with it’s own reward.

For those who have done it… welcome us to the club… it was a daunting challenge, one we feel proud and stronger for having achieved.  Wow.  What an endeavor!

Check it out….

Pizza Oven Video

Pizza Oven, Part One: The Prep

We normally do one big project each year.. along with quite a number of smaller projects.  We have moved outside for this year’s project and got a wild hair to do a pizza oven.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  We looked into buying one (which probably would have been a wise choice), but looked at the cost, particularly for a gas & wood fired oven.. and decided (like so many things we do) that we could do it ourselves.

So we embarked on this journey that continues … and continues.

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We identified where it would go and how we would go about it.  It should sit on a concrete block pad, which we would later wrap with stone and granite counter tops.  The oven itself would sit on top… and have a concrete pad lead in… and a flagstone area around it, where we would put the concrete table we made (remember that earlier post?).

Who knew how much work just doing the prep would be.  Suffice it to say it has been filled with long days and a lot of back breaking work… but it’s finally starting to look like something.  I gathered some photos and built this little video.  Wordpress does not allow me to upload directly, so I posted it on YouTube.

Check it out.  Next, we can now actually start the pizza oven itself.  Stay tuned…

Pizza Oven Prep