Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Fun

We hope you all enjoyed a great Thanksgiving holiday! We spent this past weekend enjoying time with family and friends. Chatting and of course eating filled most of our's a picture of some of Steve's family:

Steve's sister and brother-in-law hosted the gathering so we ventured out into the COLD to check out their new garden space. Pretty cool. The sage is still hanging on!

Here's some of Jennifer's family (from this summer - we forgot to take any Thanksgiving Day photos, OOPS!) is a requirement at all family gatherings.

We also took a splendidly cold hike at Eagle Marsh with our hardiest of hardy nature friends.

Curry and chai tea warmed us up afterwards...

Upon returning home we put up our Christmas tree, which is enjoyed by all but most especially the kitty cats! Flora is on the left, Bounder is on the right.

If you look close in this photo on the left hand side, Bobcat is on the top of her cat tree while the other two are under the tree. Sweet girls!

Many thanks for continuing to read our tales! Blessings to you all. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hey, At Least the Floors Look Good!

One saying that has really saved me a lot of time is from my brother, Rich - it goes thus, "We ain't making watches!". In other words, some things require a lot of detail work (making watches) and some don't (90 % of the rest of the stuff we do).

Case-in-point: the floors at our new house. They are nice but they are not perfect (stains, cupping, etc.) so we decided to just do a quick coat of varnish.

Sure, you could pour your varnish into a paint tray and then dip your mop...or... you can skip that watch-making step and just dump it from the can directly onto the floor:

Then just mop it out evenly:

This took no more than 15 minutes:

Steve spent the weekend up at Milkweed Meadows (what we will call the place) and so had time to do misc. projects whilst waiting for varnish to dry.

He found some cans of good primer in the basement and so decided to go ahead and use those up in the bedroom:

Here's the closet, primed and ready to paint. Steve also used some latex caulk (also found in the basement) to fill-in the lightly cracked and chipped plaster. Caulk is a handy way to "cover up some ugly" pretty quickly.

All painted (with some "country white" that was found in the basement) and ready to go:

Floor of the closet stained and varnished (yeah, with stain and varnish found in the basement!). We'll add some quickie baseboard later.

That country white paint went on so nicely - why not paint the inside of the kitchen cabinets (that were pretty crummy):

This looks much nicer and took only about 1/2 hour:

The cabinets in this place were made in the 50's (judging by the hardware, etc.) and are therefore pretty good quality. They look pretty good once cleaned up:

Why not paint the kitchen floor? Here Steve uses some primer/sealer to cover up the original slat subfloor. The sealer also seals the grain (which is pretty coarse and precludes a stain/varnish finish).

Priming the kitchen floor took about 1/2 hour:

Now for the fun part; adding the color! We chose a nice red porch paint:

Lay it on thick (and buy good paint) and you can get it done in one coat! We've already purchased the wall paint and, let's just say, it'll go well with the sassy floor color.

The next day the floors that were varnished on the day prior looked pretty darn good:

With a few area rugs and our trash-to-treasure and family/friend heirlooms furniture, this place will be darn homey! Take-home lesson: we are, generally speaking, not making watches (which leaves more time for gardening or whatever else you like to do!).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rounding the bend on cleaning...

This past weekend we put a lot more elbow grease and muscle work into our house and finally see the light at the end of the cleaning tunnel... good news since we have to be out of our rental by December 31st!

The kitchen is scoured and ready for paint on the floors. We may paint the walls prior to moving in, but that depends on timing. (The upstairs still needs cleaned!)

A closer look at the wood can see the stains in the wood where the built in table used to be. Steve will make us new trim boards and cabinet end with salvaged wood from that table so it didn't go to waste!

A clean sink! It's the little things you know. :)

The prior owners removed the door between the kitchen and the stairwell to the basement, but thankfully they left it at the house with the hardware and boards for hanging! The door still sports its old cool latch as well as....

a GLASS towel bar! How cool is that?

Steve plans to seal our main level wood floors this weekend while Jennifer works so here he is doing a second scrubbing. Jennifer's mom and sister helped clean these once and they required another cleaning due to the filth. It's no fun doing work twice, but sometimes its necessary.

Finally ready for sealing....


Monday, November 15, 2010

A break from our regular programming...

Needing a break from cleaning at our new house, we decided to walk our property a bit to see what we could see.

First thing we saw was a wonderful little Gray Tree Frog hanging out in our yard. He's gonna love the new homeowners!

Next we checked out our humble little wooded area. Lots of white ash and some red-osier dogwood and a lot of potential (the birds were quite active in this humble little woods).

Jennifer took a bit of time to plant some lavender and.....

.... some peppermint. We plan to have an extensive herb garden near the house for quick access when we are cooking.

Next we decided to dig a hole. We already had a good idea about what to expect for soils since it's a pretty similar landscape to where we are from (but we had to verify). We checked an area at the base of a gentle slope because that is where topsoil tends to be the thickest and, sure enough, we discovered about 15 inches of topsoil! It's medium-textured (silt loam) and relatively high in organic matter. A pretty good start for what will become our huge garden.

It's common to believe that we must always bring-in "good" soil because we are told that we have "clay" here in many areas of the Midwestern till plain. While this is true in some cases, it's more often that a person has not put their garden in the right spot. A bit of investigation can make the difference between a garden that is established on an eroded site where heavy-textured subsoil layers are at the surface and one where medium-textured and fertile soil material has accumulated quite thickly. When in doubt, ask around, if you get answers from people who have not taken the time to dig a hole, keep asking....

Our soil has good structure (aggregation of sand, silt and clay particles into secondary units). Good structure often helps with drainage, allows better root penetration and is an indicator of a site that has not experienced recent heavy tillage/disturbance. All good things for our purposes!

We have a few nice white pines.

Jennifer getting a jump on the compost pile:

A crappy looking shed can sometimes mask something more..

In this case, someone decided that it was a good idea to tack some low-quality materials to a nicely built shed:

Here can be seen the original front and shake roof:

Here's the inside of the original shed. Lots of junk, of course, but a closer look reveals a nicely built structure... contrast to the crappy lean-to structure that someone tacked onto the front:

Soon Jennifer will be walking out of this shed into the sunlight rather than into this crappy lean-to. She will also be happy for having visited with the chickens that will be living in what will be a coop!

Our diversion from cleaning left us rejuvenated and excited about the food-growing possibilities!