Honed vs. Polished granites

Before we built this house, we had never had granite and I never wanted it. I thought it was just ugly. I am not a lover of speckly, blotchy, in-your-face granites that I seemed to see everywhere. However, knowing we would be putting granite countertops in this house after all, and during my research on line, I found some very lovely, swirly and motion filled granites. The Juparana granites were very interesting with their colors and drama. The websites I liked to look at had photos of full size slabs of granites so you can see the variations. Our granite supplier had some of these. After much deliberation, we decided that, because the kitchen backsplash was more of the focal point, the countertops would be more neutral to blend in. However, the large kitchen island could be a more dramatic granite, but still needed to blend with the surrounding floor tiles and backsplash stone and honed Uba Tuba countertops.

After visiting the granite supplier several times to choose our various materials, we chose a neutral Uba Tuba and had it honed for the kitchen countertops to create a more organic surface that doesn’t reflect the light like a polished surface.

The granite guy had a most interesting granite slab right at the front door of his warehouse every time we walked in and we always commented on it. We needed to choose an interesting granite for the island on our last visit and see what was new or caught our eye. We finally stopped to investigate this interesting slab and he told us it was Verde (green) Marinace (mare-uh-notch-ee). There is also a black type and a gold (the color showing in the background of the pattern).

Verde Marinace is a collection of rocks and stones that are captured in the granite and when the granite is sliced into slabs, the rocks also get cut. What you see are the cross-sections of these age-old rocks. It is most fascinating once you realize what you are looking at. We chose this for our island, but instead of the shiny polished, we paid a bit extra to have it honed, to achieve a natural and organic look. We love our honed Verde Marinace granite island. It is a conversation piece, and fun to look at every day.


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Finished concrete floors and staining

I am not a floor expert, but we had considered doing stain finished concrete floors in the new house. I chose not to because I wanted to know exactly what I was getting. And you don’t really save much money, if any, over tiles or wood planks; it is labor intensive and you need someone who knows what they are doing, i.e, very experienced.

Doing my research beforehand, I was reading that no matter how nice and smooth and clean the concrete is that is to be finished, the concrete is not consistent in its makeup so stain will react differently in one area than another, hence the variations in colors and depths. A source mentioned it being a more “rustic” floor, and I think that would be a true comment.

From mvlconcrete.com:
“Will pet urine stain the concrete floors?

•Depending on what type of sealer is used on the floors. If urine is left to sit on water based sealers, the urine will tend to leave a dark spot. If urine is left to sit on solvent based sealers, there will be no dark spot left behind; although, the sealer will start to lose its shine. The shine can be brought to life by applying a floor wax. In using a polyurethane sealer, urine will have no effect on the sealer or the concrete floors.”

I read of someone who had old (probably 30 years) stained concrete floors that they needed to refinish. Their old dog had urinated in several areas, creating acid stains, and their floor mopping had also worn down the finish and color in those areas. I am guessing the products they used may have contributed. Refinishing was going to be expensive for them.

I just decided I could not bear the worry and potential expense in maintaining those floors; we have a dog who is getting older and I know there will be issues with her.

I do like the color and pattern our slate look tile gives us. Easy maintenance and no worries.

Entrance hall into living and kitchen/dining

Entrance hall into living and kitchen/dining

In the dining room

In the dining room

Linen look tile in the bathrooms

Linen look tile in the bathrooms

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Ancestry research is a good thing

This is off topic regarding the house, but I spend time each week working in the Find A Grave website. I have set up an account and can go in and link together relatives who may be separated from each other because they are in different cemeteries. I find it very interesting and I also help with corrections in name spellings vs. headstone spellings. Sometimes the old stones were carved incorrectly with names and/or dates, so a little research is required. I also find my own relatives and create a file for them.

I also did the Ancestry.com DNA “spit” test and found that my ancestry percentage is high in Great Britain and Ireland, which I thought it would be, since I do have an Irish maiden name, blue eyes and (strawberry)red hair and Irish surnames on both sides of my family tracing back to County Cork, as well as known relatives from England. The remaining trace DNA markers show ancestry from areas surrounding Great Britain. It’s very exciting to trace family back as far as you can go, and the technology and web information makes it so much easier to find those elusive relatives.

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Meadow Sweet Meadow

Our neighbor has cut and baled our 26 acres and will soon move the bales to his house on the next road over. Until we decide what to do with the acreage, he can cut it and bale it for his own use. Saves us the trouble. We have been lucky to get some significant rain this spring so the pond is very full and the fish are thriving. DSC_0007 - Copy

I have been lucky to get several items at half off at the nearby big box stores that keeps me in the dirt almost every day. It has been challenging to find plants that will fit under our windows when mature, will like the sun, shade, or semishade of their garden space, and will like the variable and ever changing weather of Texas in summer and winter. My ventures to the garden centers take so much time as I must read each and every plant description card to make sure they will work. It is most deceiving to see a plant labelled as a “dwarf something” and read that it gets 12 feet tall at maturity. I find that humorous. I found Orange Rocket barberry, daylilies, butterfly bush, purple coneflowers, Encore azaleas, Knock out roses, rosemary, salvias, Pistachio hydrangea, firecracker bush, begonias, impatiens and daisies. These will get me started; I will add to the spaces each year to fill in.

In the past couple months I have managed to get a few things planted to make it seem like we are established and not just floating on the turf.  I am in no way done, although I always like to have my gardening finished up by July so I can stay out of the hot weather, except for the watering.  With our area  water restrictions, we keep watering to a minimum and drip hoses are the way to go.  I have them set up so they always stay in place and I can just attach to the faucet, turn them on, set my timer in the house and let them drip for 30 minutes or so.  It keeps my plants very happy. I have mulch and edging to put in place in several beds right now so they look a little forlorn. Mulch keeps the ground from drying out quickly in our very hot summers.

Front entry flower beds

Front entry flower beds

The hanging spider plant in the front flower bed is hanging from an iron hoop type frame that just pushes into the ground. We got it a couple years ago at our once a month Canton Trade Days in Canton, TX. A blacksmith from Nebraska comes down almost every month to sell his stuff. I really like the simplicity and versatility of it. I may move it sometime in the future and replace it with a birdbath, but for now my spider plant likes where it’s at and we can see it from inside through the dining room windows.

Spider plant

Spider plant

The entryway porch now has our big Texas sign on the wall, and it’s visible from inside the house through the window of the kitchen butler’s pantry workspace. It gives a little more depth through the window than looking at a blank wall. My little plant in the rusty cloche is temporary, but it likes its home. I plan to get an ivy growing that will twist and turn on the wires.



I am still working at weeding out a few stored boxes of items. I have been donating to a local women’s shelter at My Sister’s Closet in Greenville. They use the funds from sales to help women in need with housing, education and jobs.

After all the work is done for the day, rocking on the porch, listening to all the birds and wildlife, and watching the hummingbirds zip in for a sip, is very relaxing.

Summer on back porch

Summer on back porch

Posted in Building a new house, farming, House Building, House Exteriors, Landscaping for Texas, Landscaping Texas, Pond wildlife, Ponds and Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neighbors save historic Northwest Portland house


Through the efforts of many, this historic house was saved. Northwest Neighbors for Preservation also will hope to name the house to the National Register of Historic Places.

Originally posted on The Reclamation Administration:


Congratulations Northwest Neighbors for Preservation on a job well done.  North West Portland will continue to exemplify the history, culture, and beauty of our fair city.

The 112-year-old Goldsmith house on the corner of Northwest 24th Avenue and Quimby Street has been sold to a group of local residents to save it from the backhoe’s claw.

Last week, between 10 and 20 neighbors bought the lot on which the Victorian house stands. They also bought the lot to the north, upon which there is a 1920s cottage of little historical value. The group proposes to call itself Northwest Neighbors for Preservation.

Rick Michaelson says that some of the investors put in more money than others, but they all did it “for a little bit of interest and the joy of seeing the house saved.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - The Goldsmith house at 1507 N.W. 24th Ave. awaits its fate: deconstruction and replacement by townhouses or a last-minute reprieve from the wrecking ball.

Northwest Portland neighbors pooled their money to buy the Goldsmith house on Northwest…

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On Wisconsin: Wooden bullet helps researchers make affordable shelters : Wsj


Those of us in “tornado alley” appreciate any opportunities to have tornado safe shelters…

Originally posted on The Reclamation Administration:

Safe room testing

Bob Falk, a research engineer at Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, stands near an air cannon that fires 2-by-4s at 100 miles per hour into a wall designed for a tornado safe room. The walls of the room are made of interlocking pieces of lumber, making the rooms more affordable.

That’s why Falk and his team of engineers have been using an air cannon to fire, at 100 mph, 12-foot long, 15-pound southern pine 2-by-4s into specially designed walls made of some of the cheapest wood available.

The cannon mimics the forces of an F5 tornado with 250-mph winds. The lumber used to make the walls of the shelter is of such low quality, Falk had to specially order it because he couldn’t find it at area lumber yards or hardware stores.

“This is quite a resilient design,” Falk said after a test shot. “All we’re trying to do is…

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A Bald Eagle visit in Northeast Texas?

We had a Bald Eagle visit our very full, and fish-laden, pond yesterday and scoop up one of our huge catfish; it was so big it couldn’t fly and carry it. The eagle kept having to land and I guess eat it down to a size he could handle. Once finally in the air, a trio of hawks chased it, I imagine to see if he would drop it for a free lunch. I will be watching to see if he visits again. I have never seen a Bald Eagle in my life, so this was exciting to watch.

We did take some pictures, but the distance does not show the eagle very distinctly, although with binoculars we could see the distinct white head, huge beak, and the wing span when he took off was just amazing.  

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