Thursday, April 29, 2010
Switching project gears, J finally got the wood floor refinished in the small hallway between the bedrooms and bathroom. It had carpet there. We decided when we recarpeted the front room that we would just finish the wood floor under the carpet. HAHAHAHAHA!!
You see J running the smallish sander to even out the existing wood floor. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us, there had been a door (or something) in that teeny tiny hallway at one time. They took it out and put new lumber to cover where the threshhold had been. There was also joint compound smushed in between boards and uneven spots. J sanded for about 20 minutes before deciding that it was ALL comin' out!
Look at the width of that subflooring--that's the whole reason that this house is 97 years old!! And it was hit by a tornado in the 30's!! They don't build 'em like they used to! (but isn't that the strangest little hallway you have ever seen?? I was looking out from Cami's room--and I can see 4 doorways in that tiny amount of space!)
J wants to put down hard wood flooring in the bathroom when we remodel it next fall (not sure why, but he does, so I didn't argue--so often he doesn't have an opinion, and this time he did, so we're going with it!!) So he shopped around online and found that Lumber Liquidators had the yellow pine that the rest of our hardwood floors were crafted out of. He ordered enough for the both the hallway and the bathroom. About a month ago, he got the floor laid down. The staining process took a couple weeks, because our supplier was out of supply! Then for some reason, we only had one wood threshhold thing (that holds the carpet down and makes a pretty transition). Then when we got the second one, we moved it from place to place in the house until he finally got it stained and put in place! He finished it completely this past week! YAY!!
I think it turned out great!! And will be nicer to clean puke off of than the carpet when someone doesn't quite make it to the bathroom! Mission accomplished!
Monday, April 26, 2010
There's the big man shoveling soil into a low spot.
We also felt like we should mortar the whole thing together. I was a little less than thrilled with how THAT turned out, but I lost--and I didn't want to keep putting them back together. I still think it looks whimsical. To the east we put our stone bench right up against the rock pavers. At the Wichita garden show a few years ago, I saw one similar and was priced for $400. So I keep reminding J about how much MONEY we saved by doing it ourself!! Blink, Blink--no comment. (You'd think he didn't enjoy this as much as I do!) Anyway, there was some blue fescue grass that was growing under the weeds in my raised bed (now harboring lovely herbal plants). So I dug it out, split the clumps up, and planted that perennial interest in my raised rock bed next to the fire pit. To the left of the picture is the monkey grass with the varigated free monkey grass interspersed. In addition, I also split up a clump of strawberry colored daylilies (that was also growing in my old-new herb garden. GENIUS!! The savings are seeming priceless!! It should fill in and look great!! Hoping also that it will keep the grass out of the pavers, and that we won't have mow right up to the rock.
Because the bed is potentially in partial shade (the pit is in between 2 nasty, ugly elm trees looking like they've been through chemo (we had them "trimmed" last summer--HA!) I chose to go with bright white flowers with a splash of pink. I put some white dianthus, hot pink dianthus, some little carnation-looking stuff (perennial) called thrift (never heard of it), some pink snapdragons and white petunias, edged in purple.
And there you have it!! The new fire pit. . just waiting for some marshmallows and a dutch oven cobbler cookin' over an open flame!! Come out and relax with us ANYTIME!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
We had an enjoyable, but short weekend with the extended family. The kids are growing, the baby is getting big, and another baby is on the way. Saturday morning was reserved for loading rocks. My dad had been brainstorming about where we should collect the rocks this trip. It continues to amaze me how just a few miles difference in location results in such different types of limestone. We drove to a couple places to see the rock, and collected from two places different from where we had gotten rock before. We started out in the pasture closest to home. I always love it when my dad is able to go with us, because he takes that 'ole John Deere tractor and loads some real prizes for me!! (AKA--gianormous rocks!!) In addition, J and I can walk around and throw (or hoist) rocks into his front end loader bucket and then he hauls them back to the trailer and dumps them out. That being said, I have had more rocks break when we do it this way, but it works out nonetheless. You can see above an example of the millions of rocks available to choose from!!
This trip was a little more fun, because we stopped in McPherson on the way and bought a different pickup for me to drive to work (it gets MUCH better gas mileage than the pickup that we just sold). So we got to load the backend of that pickup too!! We sent my dad home with a bucketful of rock to load into the other pickup. The second place we de-rocked, was a pile of OLD blackened, mossy rocks--the rock used to build the original house on the homestead. These old rock houses are very common around those parts--and are cool to see! Many of them were torn down and piled up and replaced with newer materials. This pile had some excellent specimens around 2 feet long and 8 inches thick or so. ABSOLUTELY, what I needed for the fire pit project! Backing up a bit, when we go, I usually have a project in mind and collect rocks accordingly. This time, I needed stacking rocks for a retaining wall and rock to make a firepit. Many of the pictures I have seen on the Internet were round pits, and I had already decided that a square-ish one was what I was after. So you can imagine my excitement to find these huge rectangular stones that would be perfect for the job!! In addition, at this pile, I also scouted a long (3 1/2 feet or so) flat rock--perfect for a stone bench (something else that has been in the back of my mind for years!) As we started picking out rock, I saw a second long flat rock and convinced my mom (who went out with us this time too) that we should take it home and make her a little bench too. Didn't take her long to agree. (I also think she was taking advantage of my dad's impressively "accommodating mood" that day!!)
This is what our trailer usually looks like after we get it all loaded up. Keep in mind the two huge, huge rocks we got this time are on the bottom. That's a lot of weight!!
Jeremy was totally into the fire pit idea. He has found that he likes to cook in a dutch oven, and began experimenting with some recipes last summer after cooking with our friend Lane at the lake. So it wasn't too hard to convince him that we NEEDED one of these little pits!! He was outside as soon as we got home to scope out the perfect place for it. I had in mind somewhere in our hardly seen back yard, that I could enjoy viewing from my kitchen window. (I also picked a place that doesn't seem to readily grow grass). Before church he was already doing some preliminary dirt work and leveling.
After church, when C was settled down for her nap, we went to work placing the rocks in formation and he and the boys mortared them together. Then we chose the flat rocks to put down around the pit. J also helped me unload the huge rocks into my retaining wall after he did some dirt work there--and I unloaded and placed the smaller ones. Finally, we took the kids up the road and shoveled some sand from the pit to wash in around the rock to keep them stable. Monday found me unloading the rest of the rock (I'm getting pretty handy with the Kuboda tractor) and finishing the flower bed borders.
God tells us to be thankful always and for all things, and this rock hunting excursion is not excluded! As I finished unloading rock yesterday, I was very thankful and blessed by the load we brought home. I find it fascinating to find that God looks out for me always, even in the craziness and seemingly insignificant task of finding THE perfect rocks for my projects. But He was definitely overseeing the choices we made and that blessed me tremendously!! It seems that I got the perfect rocks to . .
1.) Finish the retaining wall (even cooler looking than I had anticipated!!)
2.) Build a rectangular fire pit (approximately 4 1/2 feet by 2-3 feet)
3.) Put down a small rock "patio" area around the fire pit to stand or sit on
4.) Build a rock bench next to the fire pit
5.) Put a smallish raised bed planter around the firepit and bench for some extra interest
6.) Perfectly finish the rock border outlining the last flower bed on the north side of my house (the house perimeter flowerbeds on my north and east sides are already lined with a rock border)
7.) Improve the rock wall around my pitcher pump water feature (to make it a little more sturdy when kids insist on crawling on it) My goal when I went was rock for the retaining wall, the flower border, and at the last minute, flat rock for a patio floor. So you can see how exciting it was to end up with some "extra" fun projects.
My arms are feeling better today, I could actually squeeze toothpaste out of the tube this morning without wincing (seems that very few of my regular exercises actually tone those little muscles in my forearms), I could finally get my ring off last night over a swollen, bruised, and cut up knuckle (although I couldn't get it back on this morning), and my slightly sore back muscles are back to normal!! We have finishing touches to put on the projects (like some plants, washing the remaining sand off the patio stones, and some mulching) before I post the finished project pictures. Check back within the week for the finished projects! Enjoy the spring weather
Friday, April 16, 2010
9:05 a.m.--Dev (in an incredibly calm voice, talking to no one in particular) "HMMM, there's a rat in here." (continues to watch cartoons)
10 seconds later D says again "Yup, that's a rat alright."
Tristan confirms that there IS indeed a mouse loose in the living room.
Mom: "Get a bucket and a broom and see if you can scare it out and throw the bucket over it."
D: "There he goes back behind the TV."
enter Grant (who has just gotten out of bed): D and T explain what they are doing with buckets and brooms.
Grant grabs a second entrapment container and joins them. Mouse runs from one side of the entertainment center, now sticking out into the middle of the room, to the other.
Mom: (standing on chair with coffee mug) "Mouse, mouse, mouse, MOOOOUUUUUSSSSE!!"
Mouse running past mom into the office.
Tristan: "Good Lord mother, it is JUST a little mouse."
Mouse hunters move from living room to new office furniture, where the coward is hiding now.
D: "I'm not helping anymore, it'll probably bite."
Mom: (still on chair with coffee) "Oh good grief, it won't bite you, he's way more scared of you than you are of him!!" (Really???) "Shut the door to the basement so he doesn't run there."
D: "Good idea, I'll shut all the doors so he can't get away."
Mouse runs from one corner of office furniture to the other, new file cabinet moves into the middle of the room.
Mom: (hand over mouth, biting thumb) calmly says "there he goes."
Mouse hunters move from the office to the kitchen.
Mom can no longer see, which is good news!
Refrigerator rolls into the middle of the room.
Mouse hunters "We got him!" Mouse hunters speaking very rapidly now, mom doesn't know who says what because she is SOOO proud that her children have caught a live mouse that she is already planning what to say to dad when she calls him in the shop to report. "OK we'll just lift up a little."
Mom: "Just slide him to the door and we'll scoot him out."
Mouse hunters. "Ok on the count of three. . ."
Mom: "NOOO, don't lift him up, just scoot him. . ."
Mouse hunters. "One. . ."
Mom: "NNNNNOOOOOO, don't lift the box."
Mouse hunters. "Two. . ."
D: "He just jumped out of the handle, there he goes!"
Mouse hunters: "MOOOOOOM--there's a space under your cabinets."
Mom argues uncontrollably that there couldn't POSSIBLY be a space under the cabinets for him to go--they are NEW!"
Mouse hunters: "Well, he's gone, come look for yourself."
Mom: "Absolutely not."
Mouse: (heavy breathing) "I think I just crapped on the floor!"
And that's how our day began!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Grant went with his 4-H photography group last year to a nearby garden center for some unique photo opportunities. The garden owner gave each one of the kids a strawberry plant to take home. It was a big, beautiful plant and I recall thinking, "Oh what a waste of good plants, it will just die here!" We had no place to put a strawberry plant, and everyone knows that only a few berries are put out by each plant. He was so thrilled about that plant. I found a pot for him and helped him to pot it. We set it on the front deck and I waited for it to meet its demise as soon as we forgot to water it. G was pretty intent on taking care of it though, and did well to water it. He actually harvested a few berries off of it, which were "the best strawberries he had ever eaten!" Since then, he has talked multiple times about planting a strawberry bed. A few weeks ago, we rummaged around the yard and found some OLD railroad ties and some leftover bricks. He and D put them together into a rectangular planting bed. J hauled them in some soil, and they carried buckets of compost to the top of it. According to the farmer's almanac (in which I am a FIRM believer when it comes to gardening), Sunday and Monday were THE days to set strawberry plants.
Sunday after nap time, we loaded up trowels and a box and headed for great-grandma's house. She is quite the gardener, and has a wonderful established strawberry bed, from which she graciously allowed us to steal plants. She showed Grant how to dig the berry plants out, and how to plant them back again. He dug most of the plants. When we had enough, we toured the rest of her garden and helped her remove a grape vine and some boysenberry bushes that had escaped from their places.
After a short visit, we drove back home to get them into the ground to minimize their stress. All of the boys helped to plant a few plants--Grant, of course stuck it out till the end, and Cami? She just walked around on the perimeter of the raised bed. She pulled up two freshly planted berries, and fell off the bed backwards once, but other than that, she was great help!
Grandma just has her plants in the garden, but we knew that ours wouldn't survive the kids or the weeds if they didn't have a specific place outlined as their own. The east garden fence seemed like the place to put them, I hope it works out ok there. I think this bed will be easier for us to keep mulched and weeded.
There's the finished product. Grandma thinks that they might produce some berries this summer too, so everyone was excited about that!
We also accumulated that grape vine and the 3 boysenberry bushes that we moved for her. Apparently boysenberries taste much like blackberries, which I don't care for when eating plain, but I like them in jam. So I think that I hope they live!
We also swiped some garlic plants from her to try as well. I found a small spot at the front of the garden that has been used for nothing since the herbs died out 12 years ago. It should be the ideal spot for them, out of the main garden area, but still right there to get water and harvested. I redid the herb garden a few years ago, and it is now right outside my back steps and has worked out great there.
It will soon be time to plant the rest of the garden. We are also planning that rock haulin' trip this coming weekend! So there will be gardening and landscaping project posts to come soon, and probably some pictures of those crazy kids--after all, that seems to be my life!
Don't forget your sunscreen this week!
Friday, April 9, 2010
It seems hard to believe that it is already well into April. The weather has been super windy here--so windy that I am not even enticed to go out for long. Many things are blooming around here. The redbud tree--after being here for 12 seasons, finally looks like a little tree. Looks as though the 3 crabapple trees are going to bloom (above picture of the buds)--we missed it last year due to the blizzard. The Barlett Pear tree, the peach tree, and the forsythia bush are also flowering. Cami has been a swinging fool this week, which has given me lots of opportunities to look across the landscape and decide which spots could use more spring color. I have a notion that I need a couple more of the beautiful yellow forsythia bushes. It also appears that the lilac bushes will be loaded with blossoms soon. Many tulips have and are continuing to bloom, as well as the purple masses of creeping phlox. I have been able to tally a lot of what has lived and what has died. Most of my Russian garden is coming up, and all of the little inferno strip garden I planted last fall has survived. The generic double peony mix that I planted a couple seasons ago are up and have buds growing. One of the rose bushes that I transplanted has died, and possibly a couple of grasses. The onions are faring well in the garden so far, and many of the beets and Swiss chard plants are up. The replanted tomato and pepper plants have also been successful this time. Today I repotted some tomato plants as well as some flower seeds that I started. I do brave the horrible wind each day to go on a walkabout through the yard to see what is coming out from its slumber. Spring amazes me with the many changes that occur on a daily basis!!
The boys have been battling the wind at track practice and meets. Tristan is working on the discus and high jump as well as some relays. Seems Grant may be a runner, and is determined that he will win the 400 meter run next week. I have yet to make it to a meet (In my defense, they have only had 2), but it won't be long before my schedule catches up with theirs.
J played hookie late this afternoon as he, Grant and Dev took off for the races. For those of you that don't know him, he has a '69 nova that he fixed up and turned into a race car--and LOVES taking it to various places around Kansas to race it. He came home with winner's money once, but the smile it brings to his face is usually all we see here! Anyway, they are gone for the night--testing and tuning the car, and then the big race is tomorrow. Tris is spending the night with a friend, so that just left me and Sister here. It is so quiet and peaceful (almost--if you can ignore the wind clanging something around outside)
Singin'. . .(everything she knew, and if she didn't know it, she made it up)
Swimmin'. . .
Scrubbin' (still singin' --scrub a dub dub, scrub a dub dub,
scrub a dub dub dub dub dub dub-song courtesy of some
Nick Jr. character)
And after we finish Sleeping, we are headed to do some
Shopping tomorrow with Granny in the city to buy
new Sandals, Swim Suits and Summer clothes.
Monday, April 5, 2010
I just couldn't resist! Aren't they CUTE!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Today found us tackling one of our favorite Easter traditions--the egg coloring!
Look at that concentration. Cami was a lot more into the eggs this year than last. Our coloring kit came with these cool little plastic collapsible cups to hold the colors. C would pick up her egg and drop it into the water, each time making a nice big splash before I could stop her. She oohed and aahed over the pretty colors!
I am just still amazed (and glad) that the big boys still want to decorate eggs. Of course, after the decorating, then comes the hiding!! We usually just hide them around in the house. Everyone takes their turn hiding and seeking them. C figured out that the shells come off, and squeezed several of them hard enough to squish them into pieces. . . which was ok with the boys, because they like eating hard boiled eggs! Next week I will share with you a recipe we like to make with our leftover eggs (if they have been refrigerated of course!)
Tomorrow we are all geared up to go to the annual Easter egg hunt in town. This will be my 14th year to attend (minus the one year we were in Topeka). The first 8 years we went I was helping to stuff eggs and set up the egg hunt as part of the sorority group that puts it on each year! Fun times. That is absolutely one event that you DON'T go late to. It starts at 10:00, and everyone is GONE by 10:15--literally!