The Brellis House


Category Archives: Outside


Thanks Irene

Posted on August 29th, 2011 by Dan

Last weekend was had a visit from the iniquitous Hurricane Irene. This was big news for many of us on the mid East Coast because we rarely have to worry about hurricanes making it past the Carolinas.

Everyone was, for lack of better words, freaking out. Susanna’s work had safety meetings where they recommended everyone to save up batteries, canned food, fill up water bottles and turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting (in anticipation for power loss).

The day of the storm it got dark early and was windy all day. We crammed all of our outdoor plants into our greenhouse, hoping it wouldn’t blow away.


It started lightly raining in the afternoon when we realized we wanted to clean out our gutters. So, as the rain and lightening picked up, I was cleaning our gutters in the encroaching hurricane.

Luckily, I made it back inside unscathed. And around 8:00, the heavy rains, thunder, lightening and winds really picked up. We were pretty scared. We have a lot of large, old trees in our backyard and our neighbors’ and we were really afraid they might fall… on our house.

However, no such misfortune. We lost power for a few minutes in the middle of the night. We definitely fared better than a lot of our friends who lost power for a straight week in the wake of the storm.

Here’s some photos of our ‘damage’ and our restoration.

Back deck after the hurricaneSwept back deck after the hurricane

Did you experience Irene? Hope you came out of it as lucky as wee did. Let us know.

Critter Friends

Posted on August 25th, 2011 by Susanna

We haven’t made much progress around the house lately so I’m just going to share a few photos from the past week. This poor butterfly was on our Joe-Pye weed, surprisingly he was flying perfectly. 🙂

Monarch on Joe-Pye Weed

We went on a short weekend trip with my parents to our cabin and these little guys were running around the cabin like they owned the place. They were SO cute, I tried to catch a few and put them outside and they just didn’t care at all. I think I probably could have held them in my hand if I wasn’t so scared of getting bit.PeromyscusAnd this little guy was found at a nearby park- probably the coolest caterpillar I’ve ever seen! A white marked tussock moth caterpillar. He was pretty intense. He didn’t like posing for my pictures though so its not the best shot.

white marked tussock moth caterpillarAnybody have any big plans with Irene this weekend? I hear she’s a riot.

Summer Grilling

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Dan

As a follow-up to the cliff hanger I left a few days ago, I have grilling stories to share. If you don’t know what I mean, we received our first ever grill last week and we’ve been antsy to use it.

Dan and Cosmo at the Grill


So, last Friday we fired it up. In preparation, I bought some local corn from the farmer’s market and we harvested a few tomatoes from our garden. I figured there was no better way to celebrate summer grilling than corn on the cob and burgers. Black bean burgers to be exact. I used the recipe from Chex Cayanne.

Southwestern Black Bean Burger

Southwestern Black Bean Burger (close up)

We mixed them together quickly and topped them with fresh tomatoes, guacamole and some red onions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to bake buns, but I’ll make sure to for next time. They were very tasty and held up perfectly on the grill.

Just have to love summer sometimes.


Vegetable Garden Update

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Dan

It is a beautiful day today, bright sun, cool breeze, and not too humid. It’s the perfect day to be outside or sit by an open window. And in fact, it’s very distracting as I try to write this post. Maybe even more distracting is the occasional need for me to carry Michi away from stalking birds.

The bright sun today made it especially nice for photography. First up, our Herb Pot, which always has something exciting going on in it. The catnip we planted in there at the beginning of the summer has practically quadrupled, taking over the whole pot. But we still have healthy parsley and bay leaf plants in there (I know it’s not much of an herb garden, but it came with a nice sign). Well, the parsley attracted a few friendly caterpillars. I am almost %100 these are Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars. We tested it by poking them and they shot up their defensive osmeterium (orange slingshot looking thing).

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar Osmeterium

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good pictures of the osmeterium because they shot it out so fast and it was scary.

So other than these awesome native caterpillars that we had in the Spring, we recently got some fun fungi along with our herbs.

Mushrooms popping up in the herb pot

I have no idea what kind of mushrooms these are, but they’re crazy cool looking. Bright yellow with little pimples all over them.

In another side of the yard (the front), we have our vegetable garden in full growth. This year we decided to implement a ‘Square Foot’ gardening method. This is where you divide the garden in square feet and allocate each square foot with a certain crop. For instance, you can plant one corn plant in a square foot or 4 lettuces or 16 beets. Here’s a photo from early spring when I first started planting. You can still see the dividers.

Vegetable Garden in Spring

It looks nice, right? Not sure how well it worked though. Everything grew very nicely, but I feel like the yields weren’t as good as when I wasn’t using a method. Below are a few shots from the garden, fast forwarding to today. Something that really caught us by surprise are these cucumbers. They transformed from blossom to fruit in about 3 days and they’re super long and beautiful. Each one is easily over 2 feet, and the plant is covered in flowers!



I’m also proud of the corn, cabbage and pumpkin vines!

Corn & Cabbage

Pumpkin flowers


Lastly, we’ll go over to the side of the house and take a look at the ‘Man Garden’, which is my own little special section of the flower garden world, well, mine and my fellow male cats :). For the past month or so, the black-eyed susan has been in full bloom.

Black-Eyed Susan

And, our newest addition, which happens to be right next to the Man Garden, coincidentally and appropriately, is the grill! Susanna’s mom dropped it off over the weekend (they had two?) and I couldn’t be more excited to use it. I’m thinking corn, pizza, bread, stuffed peppers, pretty much everything. Oh, pardon the cracked backdrop, it’s on the waiting list to be fixed replaced.

red grill

Michi in Fish Tank

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of Michi in the fish tank. We have plans to make a sweet terrarium with this, but that’s for another post. It seems like if she’s not in the sink, she’s in the tub or fish tank.

I hope your vegetable garden is doing excellent.  What are your favorite things to grill? Give me your best ideas in a comment below.