Monday, August 1, 2016

How Does My Garden Grow? Quite Contrary!

This has been quite the summer!  We had this new deck and pergola
 added this spring and here is what it looks like with all the plants since the last post.

It's been lots of hard work between mulching, adding pea gravel and plantings.  Believe it or not, I still have 18 bags of mulch to put out.  It seems to be never ending, but I'm like Mary, Mary quite contrary....

It would be a lot more fun if the heat and humidity hadn't been so bad.  See Rick's new "Green Egg" grill in the distance?  He's so proud of that and has made some great meals out there!

At first we were afraid we had added too much pea gravel around the deck, but it's growing on me.  I can always add lots of potted plants to fill in.

We took out a lot of large yew bushes that were around the old gazebo and I'm not sorry to see them go because they were always needing to be trimmed.  We are looking for low maintenance plants at our age.

See those bags of mulch on the right?  Want to come help?

I still have my pale green adirandacks and they make a nice conversation area below the pergola.  

A nice and much needed rain arrived this morning and I got a break from watering the potted plants.   I've been working from my laptop at our new table and chairs early in the morning before the heat hits.

Each year I wonder how much longer I'll be able to take care of all these flower beds, but they do bring me so much joy to look out over while enjoying my morning coffee.

The blue hydrangeas were amazing!  They are my favorite.  

Rick added some sweet lights too!  It's so peaceful out here under is manmade stars.

The first person to tell me what that bag of water with a penny in it is for hanging from the light fixture by the door wins my "Chimney Smoke and Cheery Snow Folk" 300 piece puzzle.  I forgot to take it down for the pictures so I've decided to use it as a giveaway game.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Outdoor Living and Garden Renovation

Lot's of changes have been happening at our house.  In my previous post I was sharing my garden with you.  I was doing that so I could preserve my memories, because this is what my view was a few days after that.

Our beautiful old gazebo is now gone because it was falling apart. It had survived several years through three different families who loved it so much! We will miss it but have many photos to remind us. 

The next two days of progress on the new deck and it was fun to see it coming together.  We cut down the yew bushes and will be changing the landscaping later.

This is my view on the third day. Our poor dogs were in a little bit of shock because they couldn't figure out where the stairs went off the back of the deck.  

The following day it was really coming together.  Don't you just love the smell of fresh cut wood?

Our deck designer/carpenter Adam Park at AP Custom Works, LLC put up our pergola and started the railing. It's really coming together.  I can not express how much Rick and I love this!

That's my old climbing rose bush in that red bucket that was growing up the gazebo.  I need to figure out where it's new home is going too be in our yard.

This is my view before all the railing is up.

This is what it looks like now.  I love it!

I've got some new landscaping to do.

The dogs are still confused about the step situation even though there are stairs on all three sides of the pergola, they still go over to the stairs by the back door.  

My new view from the back door!  I can't wait to get my deck chairs up there.

Our view from our upper stairway landing. Now if the torrential rains will stop washing all our grass seed away, I'll be even more happy!

Thanks Adam for the beautiful new deck!  Rick and I love it and can't wait to share it with our family! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

An Evening With Susan Branch in KC

Do you ever have one of those days where you can't wipe the smile off your face?  Yesterday was one of those days.  My daughter, Amber, and I spent the day together shopping, having lunch on the Plaza in KC, and then we (drum roll please) went to hear Susan Branch talk about her new book, Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams.  I have been a huge Susan Branch fan for years!

I have so many of her books:  Sweets to the Sweet, Vineyard Seasons, Christmas Joy, The Summer Book, A Fine Romance, Fairy Tale Girl, Girlfriends Forever(I've given this one as gifts too), and now this new one!  I've been charmed by Susan's artwork from the first time I saw her illustrated recipes in a magazine (I can't remember if it was Country Living or Country Home).  I used to tear them out and save them.  Then I got hooked on her handwritten and illustrated books and calendars.  

The new one is very special because it's now autographed and because we got to meet Susan and her husband, Joe.  

Amber looks a little jealous that Susan is extending her hand to me.  Not sure what that look is all about, but we both thought it was funny, so I'm sharing it!

I hunted outside for their van before we entered the building and couldn't find it.  Joe was kind enough to tell us where it was parked so we could take pictures.  They are traveling the country on their book tour in this beauty!  I've seen it on Susan's blog which you should definitely read.  Also, go to her website and sign up for her newsletter Willard.    I adore the whistling birds on her website!  

Sorry about the pictures of the van, but I have a new cell phone and still learning to use that camera.   Such a fabulous day!  Thanks Amber!

Here's a few of my Susan Branch collection along with a few other favorites on my hutch.

There is so much going on at our home recently and I will share it all with you soon hopefully!  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spring Gardening

We've been having some pretty crazy thunder storms the last couple days, so I'm glad I was able to get some gardening in before it hit.  I was also able to get some photos of my backyard before the storm.  

The sad thing is that the gazebo has seen better days.  It looks great from this side, but to my neighbors behind us, it looks like it's about to fall over.  We are having a new deck put on soon minus the gazebo.  Hopefully I won't be sorry.

Looks like I'm going to have a lot of cleanup after the wind and rain brought down all those messy dropping from the oak trees.  It almost looks like moss because there is so much of it.
When you enter through the back gate the aroma of lilac and dianthus is heavenly, or so I'm told.  I don't get to enjoy the wonderful scent due to allergies.  Anyone else have this problem?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Remodeling the Staircase

I just spent hours trying to figure out where my blog disappeared to.  I learned a big lesson from a major mistake on my part.  When I purchased my google domain name last year and dropped the "blogspot", I never thought any more about it until recently when I tryed to get on my blog and it was no longer there.  Finally I realized that I hadn't gotten my yearly renewal reminder for my domain name.  I checked my email again and several hours later remembered that I had to set up a gmail account when I registered my name. Having never used this email account for anything else, there the reminders were sitting in my gmail account waiting to be paid.  It was due the middle of March and after 30 days they dropped my blog from view.  Luckily I found out what was wrong before 60 days when it would have been deleted.  It only costs $12 to renew each year and I now had to pay $112 to restore my blog.  That was a whopping $100 mistake on my part.  Lesson learned!    

In case you were wondering, this is where we are at on the staircase remodel.  The stairs are all in, I filled all the nail holes, and sanded.  They are now ready to be stained and varnished.  I'm waiting for a string of nice weather for at least 3-4 days so I can open the windows for ventilation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Old Home Remodeling Continues

In a previous post I alluded to further remodeling that would be going on in our home soon.  This project actually started several years ago and we simply lived with it for a while.  Our stairs are the first thing you see when you enter the front door and the old berber carpet on the stairs had seen better days.  I have terrible allergies and getting the pet hair out of the carpet was driving me crazy.

One day, while Rick was out of town on business I decided to remove the carpet.  I do these things while he's away and I'm sure he's afraid each time he returns to see what I've done.  Needless to say I was very disappointed to see plywood on the landing and a staircase that was meant to be covered with carpet.  The two stairs at the top were the only two oak treads.

The wood wainscot didn't meet the stairs in severals places and there were lots of gaps.

I filled all the holes the stapes left in the stairs and cleaned these up the best I could and removed the paint spills that were all over them.  

After all this work, I was not going to recarpet these though.  I knew that someday we would get these replaced.  I have no idea what year this was done but we moved here in 2001 and I lived with the old carpet for 2 or three years.

Rick was more than a little shocked when he came home.  But, thank goodness he is good natured about my remodeling efforts.  

They were at least clean and easy to dust away the pet hair.  The lighting in the above picture is deceiving.  They did not look this good.

I generally avoided taking photographs of this area of our home.  I painted the risers white thinking they would look nicer.  Sorry about the Christmas picture it's the only time I took pictures of the railing.

Let's get up close and see how bad these really were.  Nice!

But, there is hope!  New stairs in progress as you can see here.

I was so excited to watch as each new tread was placed into position!  Our carpenter and friend, Patrick Grass did a beautiful job.

This is what it looked like by the end of the first day.  
The stairs are now completely in and I will be painting the risers white one again because I had them faced with wood that I could paint to save a little.  I've been sampling stains on some scrap wood and hope to start staining soon.  I will share more pictures of these as I go along and when they are finished.  My knees will be killing me by then I'm sure!

In the mean time we are still finishing up Rick's listening room on the third floor and my paint room once Rick gets the rest of his office moved upstairs.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Top of the Morning to You!

Happy St. Patrick's day!  
I learned this morning that the saying, "Top of the morning", is not an old saying from Ireland.  It orginated in America among the Irish living here and may have come from an old movie and some say a book.

The common response to this greeting would have been, "And the rest of the day to you."  
If you google it you will find differences of opinion on where it originates.  

"And the rest of the day to you my friends!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beginning of a New Autumn Folk Art Village Scene

My husband and I have been busy working on his office which will be on the third floor of our home.  It originally was an attic and the family we bought the house from turned it into a play room for their children.  Our son, Eric, used it as his bedroom through high school and college.  He now owns his own home so we took a while to decide what to do with this space.  It had become a junk room where we stored things instead of getting rid of them.

Rick has quite a collection of albums and will be turning it into his "listening room and office".  We are still busy working on "his room" so I haven't had much time for creativity, but I have managed to work a little on this new autumn painting.   I will be working on rearranging, painting, and decorating my room hopefully soon so that I can get back to painting every day.  I'm really missing it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Chalk Art and Chalkboard Markers

Recently I was contacted by the company Chalkola asking if I would be interested in trying their chalk markers and give them a review.  Just to let you know up front, Chalkola provided the markers but my opinions are my own.    Guess what?  I loved them!

The colors are bright, including some neon chalkboard markers and they are easy to clean off.  I used them on a surface that I painted with chalkboard paint and was concerned that they would be hard to remove.  I've had trouble with other brands cleaning off.  I tested them in a tiny area and washed it off the next day with a damp cloth.  I had a cheap chalkboard that I bought at the craft section of a local shop and didn't have as much luck with it.  They do tell you to test it first though.  

Chalkola provided me with two different size markers and a nice set of chalk labels.  I prefer the smaller size markers, but children will love the fat ones I'm sure.  Teachers and moms will love using these with their children for art projects.  

These labels were perfect for my glass jars, but I could also use the chalk pens right on the glass.  

What I love about these labels is that they peel right back off.  You can take them off when  you need to wash the jars.

My favorite is the dog bone label!

All the markers can be used on non porous surfaces, glass, whiteboards, mirrors, plastics, chalkboards, and ceramics according to the information on the box of chalk markers.  

My handwriting with the large markers on the mirror isn't the greatest but I think Rick will get the idea anyway!

Try these on your next DIY project.  All the chalkboard markers are available on Amazon and Chalkola is giving my readers a 20% discount.  Use the links and discount codes provided:

20% Off on Amazon - Use Code -> CHK20OFF

20% Off on Amazon - Use Code -> CHALK20A