Masons, Concrete and Roasted Veggies with Pesto!

The construction at Seven Oaks has progressed nicely this week. The last two days were a bit crowded here since we had the masons, (who are working on the finish work of the terrace steps, outdoor kitchen and sidewalks), the concrete guys (who are tearing out the old driveway and some of the old fencing, putting in the new underlayment and pouring the driveway cement), the fence/gate guys (who are placing their posts for future gate at the driveway and other fencing), the electricians (who had to place sleeves under the hardscape of the future sidewalk and into the raw foundation for the outdoor kitchen, the gate openers and the landscape lighting), and the plumber, Mule, (who is running the gas line from the house to the built-in grill). Oh, and of course there are a myriad of trucks of other shapes and sizes  dumping loads of rock, picking up loads of debris along with the concrete trucks which are delivering the goodies. At one point I counted 16 trucks or vehicles parked in the driveway.

It is a dance, to be sure, and I was running my day jobs last week plus trying to keep this all under control. Today it seemed as if there were just too many trades here demanding my attention, so I postponed my work meetings and worked from my home office so that I could be around to give direction when needed. One of the best things that happened this week was that the fence on the driveway turnaround was removed. It was an OMG moment for me since it means that when driving into the back of the property, the view is wide open and unobstructed! IMG_4375

The concrete guys and masons had a major push this week. The masons started off the week working on the steps and got as far as they could. We decided to add two more steps in order to make the elevation a bit more gentle. Those will be in addition to the ones you see here. IMG_4437

They then moved to the out door cooking area. They formed the walls with cinder block and used all of my instruction for the built in grills to make openings to fit their dimensions and needs.IMG_4367

Then they started cladding the block with the stone veneer that I had left over from the front portico. IMG_4373

They got as far as they could go before needing the floor to be poured on the interior area so they moved on to the sidewalk.IMG_4435

For the step treads and sidewalk, I am repurposing stone from another job site that I’ve had in my stone pile for more than a year. It feels good to get this put to good use and it worked well with the house. IMG_4436

Yesterday we had a break in the weather and today was lovely. For once, I was thinking, “it is okay if it doesn’t rain today” since I wanted to get all this work done! This break in weather was ideal for pouring exposed aggregate concrete which is quite a process.

First, you chose the color of stone that you wish have exposed on the surface of the finished material. We chose a stone combination called ‘Illinois Glacial’ which consists of a blue/grey/green stone mix of smooth pebbles. The stones look like this.IMG_4421

This mixture of stones is poured into the forms that the concrete crew have meticulously laid out. The truck comes to dump its load and it is all hands on deck. IMG_4395

The guys immediately go into action to spread and smooth the surface. IMG_4398

After it is all smooth,IMG_4419 they spray on a retardant to keep the very top from hardening.

Yes, it is pink!IMG_4420

After letting this sit up over their lunch hour, they came back and powerwashed the surface while broom-ing it off to expose the aggregate. This is why it is called exposed aggregate! IMG_4426

The crew will return tomorrow to pour the next segment of cement. After they expose each section, they will let it sit for about three days to let the lye in the concrete rise to the surface. They will then acid wash this lye away and then ultimately seal the whole. Dave and I watched with great interest as they toiled away today. The good weather made for wonderful working conditions.

The good weather has also benefited the fall planting that Dave continues to foster. The summer veggies are slowing down somewhat but he continues to harvest daily. The Farm Report from yesterday shows a tally of 1,327 pounds of produce! We are about at the end of the melon harvest but the tomatoes continue to give us fruits which is great since I am still eager to make lots of pasta sauce for the winter.

Last night I decided to use up some of the basil that I have in pots outside of the kitchen door. My plan was to roast some veggies and cook up some pasta to have a pesto/roasted veggie pasta dish. After getting my veggies (diced eggplant, pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes) into the oven to roast, I started on the pesto.

I used my brother’s pesto recipe since it is reliably tasty and the ingredients are always at hand. I used garlic, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, oil and water as the main ingredients. IMG_4384

Pop those into the Cuisinart in the right sequence and, viola, pesto! IMG_4385

Even tho we use very little of this recipe for our dinner for two, we love to have this mixture left over in the refrigerator for snacking. We spread it on sandwiches and we eat it with crackers.

I will reprise parts of last night’s dinner tonight as I am pulling eggplant patties from the freezer to add to the leftover roasted veggies for our simple dinner which I will serve after a tour of the job site. We are so pleased with the progress but chilled enough to need a sweater this evening!


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