Easter Egg Tree

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My, we’ve had some work done in here lately. The kids removed a few ice dams and had some insulation installed, which I desperately needed. The big guy has been changing out the insulation in my rim joists too. The place is a mess! The craft room was torn apart to let the insulation guys in and the basement was moved all around to get to the walls. Steph decided that instead of tackling putting things back together tonight she was going to put up an Easter Egg Tree out front! (Chad thinks it is a waste of time… especially when she shamed him into helping her!)

Here is from the street to the house (ignore the bare spot in the tree… it’s still bouncing back from all the winter snow):Image

Here is toward the street:

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When Steph was growing up, her neighbor put up an Easter Egg tree every year. He was one of her favorite people, and she remembers him fondly and misses him a lot. She’s always wanted to have her own Easter Egg tree, and this year she finally has it! I imagine it will end up being a lot like the Christmas tree and she won’t leave it alone–adding to it all the way up to Easter!

Happy Spring!

Bathroom Update

The roof wasn’t the only thing getting a minor makeover this winter. Steph has been working on a little update in the downstairs bathroom. It has been a long process, starting back in May! The kids used some of their wedding money to update the old fixtures. In case you forgot what they looked like, here is a little reminder:

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The kids got a new toilet paper holder, light fixture, towel ring, light switches, and robe hook.

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That was a breath of fresh air for Steph, but she still wasn’t loving it. That cabinet above the toilet was making her claustrophobic.  They also received some wine racks that she intended to put up as towel holders to add linen storage in the room, but first she had to get a replacement cabinet. Finally, months later, she used a Christmas gift card to do that… with this beauty!

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She got the hubby to help her hang it and take down the cabinet, then she got to work spot painting some damage. Once that was done, the wine racks were hung over the toilet with care.

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Steph was a happy camper now that linens were in the room, but she wasn’t quite done. She decided to stain the cabinet to get rid of one of the good old wood paneling. With a few coats of gel stain and new hardware, we went from this….

Downstairs bathroom vanity before  to this… DSC04466

 

Just a couple things left to do and this bathroom will be set for a few years…. Steph wants to paint the top of the counter and replace the faucet. Gross, right?

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All in all, we are both happy with the progress of the bathroom. One step at a time, right?

Downstairs bathroom before  DSC04505

 

 

Damn You, Ice Dams!

I’ve been hibernating. It’s true. Minnesota winters, especially this one, are perfect for hunkering down and ignoring everyone and everything. This winter has been one for the record books – more negative temperature days and record snowfall, which has led to hibernation … and disaster for me! I developed ice dams once again. See the ice build up?

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Yes, I’ve had them before. The kids saw them last year and threw up roof melt. They knew I needed an insulation upgrade and were planning to do that this summer, but the damn ice dams sped up the process when they started to cause damage. I leaked. It’s horrible, I know. I didn’t mean to do it. One day, the kids noticed these spots…

The front room:Image

The dining room: Image

The master bedroom: Image

The big guy climbed up in the attic to check out the damage and found the leak was in a spot that wouldn’t even allow for a bucket to catch the dripping. So, a few ice dam removal companies were called. None replied. Luckily, a referral given to Steph led them to MN Remodel Solutions. They came out within a day of calling and within a week, the ice dams were removed. 

First, shoveling started… Image

After 6.5 hours of steam, the ice was gone.

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Now, the kids need to keep it clean and clear of ice until the spring so attic work can commence and insulation can be inserted. I hope next year will be better!

An Overnight Guest

Happy Holidays to all! My halls have been decked for a month now. This year there were a few additions to the decorations, including wreaths in the windows. Steph found them at JoAnns, added some holly, and hung them with 3M hooks and ribbon she had in her stash. They look pretty good.

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We had an overnight guest that enjoyed the holiday cheer…

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Yes, the snowblower came in for the night! He was cold … frozen to be exact and wouldn’t do his job. So, after the neighbor guessed it was frozen and needed to warm up, the kids invited him inside for the night to thaw out. I overheard some great conversations between him and Mr. Fridge.

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The next day, he went back outside and did his job – throwing snow all around. Now Steph knows she needs to clean him out after snowblowing so he won’t freeze up again!

Christmas Craft

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I’ve been decorated for Christmas… and if feels so good! Steph put up her half tree, some garland on the railing, a nativity in the window, and lights outside. She dressed up the dining room table and nearly every inch of the main floor. I’m full of Christmas cheer! 

Steph has a Pinterest board full of Christmas decorations and ideas. She fell in love with this box:Image

The Web site included a tutorial on how to make the crate and all, but she didn’t need it. While shopping at a “junk” store she found this smaller box for the great price of $12.95:

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She knew it would be perfect for her North Pole Freight Co. look alike. So, she brought it home and after a little wait, it got its makeover. 

First, Steph used the Cricut Craft Room to plan the layout and combine cartridges for cutting out a stencil. She decided not to go with a compass, but with Santa’s sleigh and one of his reindeer. Then, she cut it out on vinyl. She kept the negative area for the stencil and applied it to the box.

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Next, she wanted to paint it black, so she used some leftover chalkboard paint and went to town.

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She carefully peeled off the stencil. The first picture is before she took out the small stencil pieces. She fixed any bleeding issues as she went.

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After that, she used some sandpaper to make it look a little faded, filled it with a red blanket, and ta-da!

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Cost: $12.95! Supplies:

*Crate ($12.95)
*Vinyl (already had)
* Paint (already had)
* Paint brush (already had)

Total time: About 2 hours

 

Maybe at Christmas there will be a couple presents from Saint Nick inside! Happy holidays from my house to yours!

 

Final Phase of Summer: Paver Patch

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Summer is officially gone and that means the summer yard projects are coming to a close. Phase 6 has been in the works nearly ALL summer! But they completed it … finally! We went from tiger lily bed to a fantastic home for the waste bins!

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It took them a while for good reason – it was a lot of work! First, they cleared out the tiger lilies.

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Then, they took out the frame and dug down the dirt so the entire bed was 6″ deep and moved the dirt to the raised garden. The top went pretty well, but then they ran into clay. Lots of sticky, clumpy clay. As they moved the clay, they sifted out rocks and added peat moss to make the garden soil a little better for the future plants. 

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Once it was dug out, it was tamped down and a crack in the cinder blocks was patched. Next, rocks were added. They pulled the rocks from the spot right in front of the bed and from under the bay window at the front of the house. They also pulled out the giant peony in the photo above (it was sad, but it wasn’t quite fitting their vision and it was in a tough sun spot and didn’t bloom as well as it should). They added mulch to the spot where they pulled the rocks.

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After there was a couple inches of rocks added to the side area, they put a layer of leveling sand.  They leveled it out and tamped it down again.

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They got pavers in sienna and autumn and made a basketweave pattern with them. 

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They also added an old pallet to block the view of the garbage cans from the road. Next spring, Steph plans to paint the pallet. 

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One last thing to do is fill in the gap with dirt and grass seed, bringing the grass up to the pavers. The kids bought rain barrels as well, so next spring will mean rerouting the downspout and adding some plants to the planting area on top. Even though it took all summer, things are coming together!Image

 

Here is what you see from the road!

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Phase 5: Prepping the Garden

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The yard phases are nearly complete for the year.  Drum roll for phase 5, please……. It’s a garden for the big guy!

After scoping out the best place for a garden, the kids finally agreed on a spot near the back tree line that gets the most sun throughout the day. See that bean-shaped patch? That was a flower bed the original owners had. The kids haven’t really kept it up the past two summers.

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Chad dug up the plants and took out the cement boarder.

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After measuring, he made a trip to Menards and got some cedar for a raised bed frame. He got 12′ x 6′ boards and constructed a frame.

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And it was carried back to its new home.

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Next, the sod was dug out and the posts were dug down. The kids attached weed blocking fabric to the sides of the frame so no dirt would fall through where the boards meet. And they started filling in dirt from phase 6 (more on that later).

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After tilling, filling, adding peat moss, and filling some more, the garden is prepped for winter and will wait for spring planting. It is dreaming of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs.

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Ready … Set … Stain!

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This fall has seen a lot of outside work, and I, for one, am relieved. The deck and gazebo were in great need of some attention. The kids have been at work prepping and staining, protecting two of the highlights of the yard. First, Steph took the time to sand down the old stain on the gazebo here. Then the kids took turns pressure washing the decking.

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There were a couple of days of rain and a few more days of drying, then Steph got to work. 

First, she tackled the gazebo with Cabot Pacific Redwood. She started on the four sides closest to the house, which took about two and a half hours. The next day, she worked on the four sides that get the most sun and weather. Those sides took an hour each. But, in my humble opinion, it was worth it! Look how that weathered wood absorbed that stain!

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The next day, she knocked out the decking with Cabot Natural. She got a single coat on in about five hours. It needs a second coat, but the MN weather has kicked in. Cabot says not to apply the stain if the temperatures will dip below 50 degrees within 48 hours of staining. Drying takes 24 to 48 hours and since the high the past five days has barely gotten above 50, she got it done just in time.

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She is fully planning on a second coat on the four weathered gazebo sides and the decking in the spring. For now, the newbies are both enjoying the knowledge that the wood is protected at least a bit for the winter weather.

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Staircase Gallery

There are more and more pictures on the walls. Steph worked on the staircase gallery for a few days. She put the photos in the frames and then cut paper to the size of the frames so she could rearrange … and rearrange … and rearrange until she liked it (or mostly liked it. I think she is still tempted to add/rearrange some more). Here is the final (for this week) arrangement…

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PS. I think the F will be getting painted black as well.

Ready… Set…

Prepping has begun on the gazebo and deck!  Soon, staining will begin. Steph spent a few hours sanding and sweeping the gazebo and deck railing. They look pretty good. In fact, I’m kind of liking the rustic barn look. Too bad the kids are bound and determined to preserve the thing so it doesn’t fall down like a rustic barn.

See how it was fading and patchy? The deck is totally free of stain.

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Now it is sanded and ready for new stain.

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Too bad these kids don’t have kids of their own to take pictures of in front of this perfect rustic backdrop before it is fixed up! Insert kid here…

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Ah well. Maybe next time it needs stain. In other news, we have a friend helping clean up some of the acorns falling off the oak out front.

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An albino squirrel! Here’s what we think of that:

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