Why, yes, I’ll have more rain, please

Cannot catch a break.  As much as we need the rain, and love the rain, I need to mow the yard.  The landscapers are six weeks behind on their projects and I can’t get a new yard put in until the end of May.  So, until then, mowing is becoming a challenge.  The pasture grasses absolutely grow a foot a day it seems.  And I can’t get out to mow until it dries out a bit between rain storms.  I did catch a couple of days of “dry” last week and got the front 2 acres mowed before more rain came through.  We have had more since then.  I spent half my time washing off the mower deck of the Husqvarna to unclog all the grass and mud stuck underneath so I could continue to mow.

In the meantime, I am trying to get some more projects started and finished around the house. Today, I went to Hobby Lobby and got a wall stencil to do a bit of accent on the powder room wall.  It needs something in there a bit dramatic, so I will take before and after photos.  I hope it turns out the way I envision it.

I am finishing up painting some tables so I can resell them.  I tried decoupaging one tabletop, but am not happy with how it turned out.  It wrinkled and was not an easy project and I am reading up on what caused that to happen.  I may have used too much Mod Podge.  I was also reading where some don’t like that product and recommended another brand.  I will give it another go.

I did install some Rev A Shelf drawers in the master bath buffet-turned-vanity.  It was an easy install and is definitely  better looking than the little plastic tubs I had used for storage. The RevAShelf brand is a little pricey, but the quality is definitely there, and the chrome looks so nice.

I’ve followed the blog-land’s One Room Challenge. It has a six-week deadline, and fun to see what everyone is up to in their makeovers.

It’s clouding up and looks like more rain is heading this way. No mowing for a few more days.

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So much rain

It’s been a very wet and soggy spring. That’s good; the pond is overflowing and I don’t have to water the new trees as often. But, the landscaper I hired to install a sprinkler system and new yard is six weeks behind, which means I won’t get my yard until late May. I was hoping to get a lush lawn sooner than that, but I can’t complain about getting rain. In July we will be wishing for it.

I am also getting bids on a bit of nicer fencing at the driveway entry, instead of the barbed wire and tee posts. I am considering a rustic 3 or 4 rail cedar fence, and a gate. The neighbor’s horses like to get out of their pasture and find their way down my driveway to our pasture. When I get new grass, I don’t want 4 inch deep hoof prints and my new grass nibbled down. It’s really the only reason I’m getting a gate because I really don’t want the bother or any maintenance it might need. If solar can do the job, then I will go for it.

A kind neighbor got my Husqvarna lawn tractor tire repaired, and replaced the blades. The yard looks so much better after mowing with new blades. We just had no opportunity in the last couple years with my husband sick.

When it’s not raining we have to take advantage of that and work on outside projects and chores that need doing. I trimmed along the fence line and sprayed it so I don’t have to trim along it the rest of the summer. I love my cordless Black and Decker trimmer. The battery only gives me an hour at high-speed, so I will buy an extra battery to have at the ready. I straightened up some crooked posts and trimmed back some barbed wire that the builder did not take care of when they installed the drive. The drive went right through the barbed wire fence line, so they just cut the wire and pulled it back, not bothering to make it look good, and with extra wire hanging out in the way of my mowing. Taken care of.

Flowers and bulbs are planted, and finished up just before the next big round of rains came through this past weekend.

My few vegetables are doing nicely with all the rain. Tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, and eggplant (never tried growing it before).

The new trees are leafing out enough now to cast some shade. The hummingbirds have arrived, along with the swallows and scissortail flycatchers. The scissortails nested in one of our new trees last year.

Hopefully, I won’t have to wait on getting my new fencing installed. I hope to make that decision in the next week and get it going soon after.

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Sticker shock

So, I got more trees (five huge 30 gal. October Glory maples) in place a couple weeks ago. This will probably be enough around the house, I think. I don’t get more than I can handle at once, because they require a consistent watering schedule that the dealer, TreeLand, requires you follow under his 18 month guarantee. We installed plenty of faucets around the house, and I invested in hoses for each faucet. In Texas, I read that it’s a good idea to have a hose at every faucet anyway due to threats of grass fires. It’s a little unsettling to smell smoke and not know how close it is. At our other house, 300 acres burned just down the road from us, and a change in wind direction or intensity can mean it will just take off out of control. Last fall, we saw the red flames over the hill next to us as our neighbor’s hay stack burned and the volunteer firemen stayed out there all night to make sure it was out. I have hoses going out to each tree and I just turn the water on every few days for about 20 minutes according to the schedule.
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Next, my yard improvement plan (my list is long) included getting estimates for sodding just around the house, out the distance of a normal city yard, as a starting point. We built at the top of a hill in a 26 acre pasture, so pasture grasses come in and our neighbor cuts and bales the pasture for his livestock use, but around the house where they moved dirt it was all disturbed and now weeds are coming in instead. It’s not a pretty picture. We’ve never had a lawn installed; the houses we lived in already had good lawns, and the other house we built on three acres, we just kind of worked with what we had and I would overseed and fertilize around the house every year to keep improving it. It was never a pretty yard, but I did landscape up around the house myself and keeping it regularly mowed it looked fine.

The landscaper I called was recommended by our builder, and in checking around locally this landscaper has a bit of a monopoly. I went on Angie’s List to see who else is around, but my choices are….none. I do see this company is recommended and as long as I do my own homework on what I want, they should be able to meet my requirements.

It’s been so wet this winter and spring, we’ve had very little chance of the ground drying out between cloudbursts. The estimator came out on a day that it was just pouring and we stood on the porch as I outlined what I envisioned and we discussed what the yard probably needed. I emailed him our overall house layout and he took measurements from it to design the sprinkler and sod layout and work up an estimate for me.

I had no clue on how much square footage I was dealing with. The landscaper shows 22,000 sf. We talked over the plan for sod, which needs to include killing all the weeds first, hauling in some dirt for surface leveling, preparing the surface and then placing sod and fertilizing. It needs to have regular moisture to get started. I also am tired of hauling hoses, and this house is a nice house so I included an irrigation system in the estimate. Additionally, away from the sod edge towards the barbed wire fence line, all the soil was disturbed in building, and the weeds are taking over and I don’t see much pasture grass coming in for that area. It is the extended “front yard” and visible from the kitchen, dining and bedrooms. We are near the road so our whole house is visible and needs to look presentable. They estimated hydromulching that area with low growing native grass seeds to fill in and maintain the area. It would not require regular watering and fertilizing to establish, the mulching takes care of that.

I had three parts to my estimate, the sod and preparation, the irrigation system to reach all the sodded areas with drip irrigation in the flower beds, and the hydromulched area.

A week later I got my estimate. After reading the bottom line, I picked myself up off the floor, and I broke out the estimate into the three parts: sod, irrigation and hydromulch. Individually, it did not seem out of line, it’s just a lot of moola to shell out in one haul. Just under 18K for 22,000 sf., so 81 cents a square foot which is including all labor costs and taxes plus materials. I can’t really do any of it in phases, because one affects the other and they all need to be in place together. I could hydromulch that area later, but it just makes sense to do it all at once and be done.

I plan to call the guys and have someone come out to go over the estimate carefully to make sure everything is in it that I expect, and to also understand all the irrigation layout and maintenance schedule, and what additional costs are necessary down the road.

I have always envisioned a perfect lawn to enjoy here, and our grandson to play on. I will probably bite the bullet on this and say “go”. I am not very good with chunking money out like that, but overall, for my convenience, adding to the beauty of the house and also future resale value, it will be worth it.

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More trees

During one of the really nice warm February days, before all the nasty and cold, freezing weather hit us, I ventured over to our favorite tree farm over in Gunter, TX (Treeland) and picked out five October Glory maples to be installed near the house.  My husband and I went over last year about the same time when he was all through with his first treatments, and got some then for the new house.  We really liked how tall they were and the visual impact they gave to make the new house more grounded.

The installation of these five trees has been delayed twice because we have had such horrible weather.  And yesterday, it started raining early in the morning and there were puddles and mud pits all around the house by the time they arrived because the ground is so drenched from all the rain we have had the past couple weeks.   It was a great crew and installed them all in no time.  We have lots of trees away from the house, but having some close will cast some needed shade in the summer, and the birds have already started visiting them, maybe for spring nesting sites.

My next project is hiring a landscaper and getting sod installed around the house.  In the summer, the meadow and pasture grasses come in just fine to fill in, but the winter it’s just a mess, so sodding will give me much needed groundcover.

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What Happens When You Blow Soap Bubbles in Freezing Cold Weather

countrymeadowsdesigns:

This is quite amazing

Originally posted on TwistedSifter:

If you blow soap bubbles in freezing cold weather, amazing crystals of ice form on their surface (actually in the middle as the water is between two thin layers of soapy film); starting at the bottom and expanding upwards until the entire bubble is covered. Each bubble and pattern created is unique making for some terrific photo opportunities.

Artist and photographer Cheryl Johnson has been experimenting with different sized soap bubbles, getting beautiful close-ups of the crystallizing soap bubbles. Johnson has been sharing her updates on Facebook where you can find an entire album of the beautiful bubbles.

Johnson is also an accomplished, self-taught watercolor painter and you can see many of her paintings at cheryljohnsonart.com.

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Blowing Soap Bubbles in Cold Weather by cheryl johnson (4)

Photograph by CHERYL JOHNSON
Website | Facebook | Facebook page

2.

Blowing Soap Bubbles in Cold Weather by cheryl johnson (3)

Photograph by CHERYL JOHNSON
Website | Facebook | Facebook page

3.

Blowing Soap Bubbles in Cold Weather by cheryl johnson (5)

Photograph by CHERYL JOHNSON
Website | Facebook | Facebook page

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A change in dynamics

My husband put up a great battle, but the cancer overtook him quickly since July this year. The Esophageal cancer metastasized. He had been through surgeries, chemo and radiation July 2013 through March this year and was cancer free at that point in time. Then in June this year he started having back pains and it turned out a large inoperable tumor had already embedded in his spine near the spinal cord. Too delicate an area to operate near. Then a skull lesion, golf ball sized, with successful craniotomy surgery in August removing that diseased chunk and replacing with a titanium mesh panel. Then blood clots in a leg and lungs meant no chemo for almost a month while treating that life threatening situation.

The cancer was so aggressive, taking that time off for the blood clot situation, I think it just went rampant. Then the doc saw cancer activity in liver and lungs. His body could not take any more chemo and he was on hospice for just a week before he passed away Nov. 29.

He was a partner in the architectural firm he worked for and he was yearning to get back to work and do what he loved. This house is his legacy and was meant for our retirement years together that were going to start now, even though he wanted to keep working. He had only three cancer free months in this house, free of doctors and medicines. We only moved in November 2013. He had not even had a chance to get his office set up and the boxes unpacked, or his woodworking shop completed.

Sometimes I feel I can’t stay here, and sometimes I feel I can’t leave it because we put so much time, energy and effort into the design and build. I’ll not rush into any decisions, and the family’s visits here these next months, to visit, relax and fish in the stocked and overflowing pond, will help me decide what to do. We love nature and the outdoors, and we wanted this place to enjoy that feeling, being on 26 acres surrounded by farmland with cows and horses as our neighbors. Also seeing the deer walk to our pond in the mornings and seeing the great hawks soaring, hearing the coyotes a stones throw away, and the owls on top of our tall metal roof whoo-ing to each other. One day we saw a bald eagle catch a fish from our pond so large he couldn’t fly with it. There are great memories in the short twelve months we had here together, it is just that we had hoped for many more.

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Completed: projects

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I have had several things on my to-do list and now that the flurry of doctor visits are done, and my husband has started his regimen of chemo medications (pills) at home, I have some time to work on projects with some continuity of time and focus.

I have tried now to focus on the guest rooms and get them organized, decorated, furnished and finished.  This first bedroom is the one we use first for guests; it is very cozy and roomy without being too big.  We based this design on our previous home’s guest room layout, and just enlarged it a bit for more room.  Our three-year old grandson has a cot that we put up in here when he and our son and his wife are here to visit.  It works great.

Right next to this room is the other guest room which we furnished with a sleeper sofa.  That room is also my sewing room and I am working on getting the closet fitted with shelves to hold my sewing stuff.  We did this at our previous home and it worked great and held so much.  We don’t need it to hang anything in, except I did hang my extra fabric yardages on hangers in it and I store the scraps in my collection of picnic baskets.  So this room will get my attention next.

But, I did get the main guest room pretty established and only a couple of projects are left to do. The room is painted in Sherwin Williams Jersey Cream and trimmed in S-W Dover White. The Boathouse picture and my little girl and boy sailor rabbits, on the dresser under the Boathouse, I made years ago in their blue and white sailor outfits and straw boat hats, and started the blue accent idea. Everything worked together nicely.

dresser is 60 years old

dresser is 60 years old

I repainted the dresser a nice Valspar navy color; it was my dresser before I was born (60 years old now), and has been lugged from house to house and repainted at least four times now.  This is the first time I have painted with a spray paint that did not give me the finish I had hoped for.  I struggled with this and am not entirely happy; however, this is the only brand of satin Navy I could find in spray so I will keep working on it.  I may end up painting by brush the same color and try for a  more uniform finish.  The brass pulls were added during one of its previous makeovers.

I also spray painted this little book shelf, between the windows, we made for our son before he was born in 1980.  This has also been repainted several times and lugged from house to house.  I used a navy Valspar gloss spray paint in the same color as the dresser.  The gloss covered better than the satin, although I did go ahead and spray it a Matte Black+Primer before I used the blue to deepen the color and it covered the surface better in fewer applications. It stores our grandson’s blankets and fold up cot.

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The window coverings are a sheer burnout leaf pattern, and we brought them from our previous house and I just hemmed them shorter and hung them by tension rods in front of the wood blinds.  I had just enough room for the rod.  I like the clean look of not having any rods above the window.

I spray painted Navy the ledge shelf above the dresser; we have several my husband made, in various lengths, and we have also used these in the previous house as picture ledges.  I like the added dimension it gives to a wall without too much intrusion into the room.  It is nice to change artwork and not worry about nail holes.  We have repainted and used these in several places in the new house.  The artwork is from an art gallery in my hometown Wichita, KS, that was going to toss it, and it is a vintage black and white photo of the old Riverside boathouse that is no longer there along the Arkansas river in Wichita, with people in boats and enjoying the water,  from 1928. I love the matting around it in a very art deco design in soft blues and greens and the weathered look frame is a wiped on gray over the wood. http://www.wichitaphotos.org/graphics/wschm_M1-2.3.4BoatHouse.jpg
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I created a gallery wall between the windows.  I had the picture by B. Cummings of quilts on a fenceline outside Gray’s Store, and plates (Carol Endres’ “Visitors” series), and plate racks;
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I recently purchased the French look wall clock from Decor Steals and had it in the laundry room, but prefer it in the guest room.
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The old iron bed I got years ago from neighbors in an old farmhouse who were selling some things; I got it for $100 and feel lucky I found it. I painted it in a navy enamel at that time and it’s stayed that way since.  I like the airiness of the frame and the true oldness of it.  The salvaged window above it has mirror squares attached into each square.  It is perfect to reflect light in the room and I found it in a consignment store at a good price: $25.
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This wall opposite the windows will soon be completed and roughly mirrors the opposite wall of two windows and center “art gallery”.  I have it measured into three “panels” of 24″Wx48″H.  This is the dimension of the salvaged ceiling tin tiles I have in the shop that need some attention before attaching to the wall.  They will flank the center picture gallery and I will frame those edges in with molding so the rough edges are concealed. 
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The sweet Sunbonnet baby is something I needlepointed years ago. I like her bright blue bonnet and surrounded by the colorful flowers.

Sunbonnet Baby

Sunbonnet Baby

The centered art was framed in dollar store frames I spray painted in first the gloss blue, and then a second coat sprayed in the satin blue.  I like the way they turned out.  The artwork came from three books I got on Amazon.com, by Jamin+Ashley Mills of thehandmadehome.net.  They each contain tear out ready to frame artwork for an 8×10 frame.  The artist and their artwork descriptions are in the back of each book.  I can easily change out art when they need a new look.
 
I am also working on getting the bed’s nightstands in place.  For the moment, I may use two filing cabinets taking up space in my sewing room, and either paint them the same S-W Jersey Cream color as the walls, or sew up some fabric covers  in either a yellow or blue to coordinate. Pinterest has some good ideas for covering filing cabinets.  They are a little deeper than I would prefer, but can work.

My other option I am considering is sawing in half a vintage table I was using, that can attach to the wall on each side of the bed and not be too deep, but hold a small lamp.  I won’t be moving this furniture around, so I don’t need it portable.

The postage stamp style quilt and shams I have on the bed is by Ralph Lauren that I scored on Ebay for a great price and in perfect condition.  It has the navy, light blue, white and yellow that are in the room, and the small pops of red are also found in some of the art on the walls.
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