The Brellis House


Category Archives: Outside

Happy 4th Anniversary To Us!

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by Susanna

The fourth anniversary materials are either flowers and/or fruit. We chose flowers.


Dan cut out a 4 from some cardboard, I gathered flowers from our yard and we attached them to the cardboard with hot glue. There was a moment when it was cheesy and very hippy-like, but I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out. There are black-eyed susans, white wood aster, goldenrod, rose hips, and purple coneflower, among others. #mostlynatives



If you can’t get enough of our silly cheesyness, check out our Year 1 and Year 2 and Year 3 photos!

Backyard Sugarin’

Posted on March 1st, 2014 by Susanna

We’re backyard sugarin’! After boiling sap from craigslist last year we wanted to tap our own trees so badly. Only, we knew we didn’t have any sugar maple trees in our yard. But after going to a maple syrup festival at a local park last weekend, we learned that you can tap all sorts of maple species. We brought home 2 spiles made from a sumac stem, which is apparently how the Native Americans would tap trees. I searched around in our yard, found a Norway maple, and immediately went to google. Not many people were talking about tapping Norway maples but it sounded like it might work.
sumac spile sumac spile

We didn’t want to invest in real spiles or collecting buckets just yet, so we improvised with an old maple syrup container (1 gallon)

maple sap collector

We drilled into the tree, about 3 feet from the ground, and about 2 inches deep, with a slight upward angle to help the sap flow down.

tapping tree

Then we gently tapped the wooden spile into the tree and placed the jug in a little notch we made on the spile.

tapping maple tree

Backyard Sugarin'

We’re excited but not really sure what to expect! Hopefully we’ll get some sap!

Staining a Deck in July

Posted on August 7th, 2013 by Susanna

Staining a deck in July was probably not the greatest idea we’ve had. Although the look of the weathered wood appealed to me, it was getting to be quite dangerous, after rain it would be so slick that you could easily break your neck walking on it, plus one of the boards was almost totally rotted through (and had some beautiful moss growing on it).  Here are some pictures of it before:

deck before

rotted mossy deck board

deck before

The power washing part wasn’t too bad on a hot day.

pressure washing deck

pressure washed deck

replacing deck board

pressure washed deck

But the drying part took weeks since we’ve been getting afternoon thunderstorms just about every day. Finally after 3 straight 100 degree days it dried out and we waited for the temperatures to get below 90 to stain. It took weeks to find days in between rain to finally get it all stained. We were staining with headlamps until 10PM one night. staining deckWe really should have waited for a less rainy, more predictable weathered month, but oh well here it is! We really had no idea that deck stain was more like paint than wood stain, so the gray is going to take some getting used to. If we were going to do it again we might go with a transparent weather-proofer rather than a colored stain.Here’s how it turned out, plus some photos we snapped after putting up some string lights and eating a delicious pizza dinner outside.

decknighttime deck pizza dinner

Next, we’ve got to clean and stain our new deck furniture.

Celebrating birthday with MULCH!

Posted on May 19th, 2013 by Susanna

Every year I get a load of mulch for my birthday- this year I got 4 cubic yards of mulched delivered. The morning it was delivered was like Christmas morning. I LOVE mulching. 4 cubic yards mulch

I really hadn’t prepped the beds enough so it took me a few days to get through the whole pile- but it was gone in less than a week! Didn’t even kill the grass under the pile!

Here’s some before and after pictures- mulch makes such a big difference!

front yard gardenbackyard weeds fern garden backyard weeds backyard garden man garden

mulch backyard front yard garden fern garden mulch backyard garden beds mulch backyard mulch garden beds

Still SO much to do- I’ve got room for more plants now, I want to get a delivery of wood chips for the path and sitting area.


Happy Second Anniversary to Us!

Posted on September 23rd, 2012 by Susanna

2nd anniversary2 pillow

Keeping with the tradition we started last year of making a number out of the traditional gift material and taking a photo with it, this year I made a pillow with a quilted two. I used fabrics from Dan’s old gingham and striped boxers and flannel pajamas. We had a bit of a flannel theme this year, which wasn’t totally planned.

I love spring!

Posted on May 6th, 2012 by Susanna

peonylily of the valleyroseoak gallCamassiapeony

Seeds and Weeds

Posted on March 25th, 2012 by Susanna

Spring Daffodils

Suess in pot Herbs

This past weekend we finally got around to tending to the garden. Last weekend I had started a bunch of seeds, ones we had from last year (and perhaps the year before, and also I had a little seed trade at work so I got some interesting things from a coworker).  It’s so warm it may as well be May so I figured we could start seeds outside in our greenhouse. We started lots of seeds from 2006 so I don’t know how successful they will be, but already in a week we’ve had spinach, beets, kale, okra,chard and lettuce babies pop up!

Starting Seeds

Spinach seedling



Stop the Pipeline!

Posted on November 12th, 2011 by Susanna

Last weekend we went to the Keystone Pipeline Protest in DC. It was a blast! We circled the white house with multiple rows of people and then marched all over the streets of DC.  And apparently we were heard- earlier this week Obama announced that the decision would be delayed until 2013 so they could look at environmental impacts.

Pipeline protest
Pipeline protest

Pipeline Protest

Dan got to hold the giant blowup pipeline for a while, which made him pretty  happy. And we saw these crazy hoolahoop girls, my gosh they were amazing.




While in DC we also got to make a quick trip to the National Arboretum, which was gorgeous in all it’s fall glory.

Mums at Arboretum

Climbing fig at ArboretumRosemary



Yes, I know I need to brush my hair. 🙂

Nature and Fall

Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Dan

Last weekend we decided that we had limited opportunities left to go outside and enjoy the last remnants of a Maryland fall before we were covered in snow. Baltimore  has lots of parks, but its best kept secret is Cylburn Arboretum. Not only are the main grounds of the arboretum beautiful, but the large majority of the 207 acre property is forested… right in the middle of Baltimore City!

We had fun with our camera, so here’s a few fun shots to share.

Shelf Mushrooms

Maple Leafs

Somewhere down a very large hill are the foundations of servant houses that belonged to the owners of the property back in the late 19th century. We found lots of cool mosses, especially this 3.5ft2 patch covering a stone wall.

Moss on wall

Another moss growing on a log with sporophytes.

Moss with sporophytes

Moss with sporophytes

It started off chilly, but warmed up as we hiked up and down hills, away from the buildings and grass paths. It was a fun day getting outside and being able to appreciate the beauty autumn has to offer. We hope you get a chance to spend a day outside before all the leaves are gone and it’s far too cold!

Happy Halloweenie!!

Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Susanna

Happy Halloween to everyone from The Brellis House. We’re not very festive with this holiday but we did get a couple pumpkins (for Dan to cook with). Halloween, pumpkin, cat


fall leaves in puddle

ducks, vineball, fall