May 30, 2012

We Built A Patio

My husband and I took advantage of the long weekend and finally tackled a large project that we have been meaning to get to for a long time.  We FINALLY built the stone patio that we wanted.  Ta Dah!

Now for you to understand the full feeling of relief, I have to give you a little history.  The spot in which my husband and I are sitting use to be a fish pond.  Probably a magnificent one in it's hay day.  The only photo of the pond I could find was the one from when we bought the house.

Now, I have to say, this photo was taken probably long before the house was ever on the market.  When we moved in, the pond liner was ripped, so it would only fill half way (it was about 3 1/2 feet deep), the electricity to pump and filter was not functioning, so it was a giant mosquito trap that no matter how much mosquito killer stuff I put into it, it didn't matter.  So, since I had to regrade the flower beds in the front yard, I filled it in with dirt.

So this is pretty much what it looked like for the past few years.  We decided to take all the stone that was used for the fish pond and make it a patio.  What we didn't expect, HOW MUCH STONE WAS THERE!!!  In some spots, we dug up three layers of stone.  We have enough stone to do a full walkway from our covered patio near the back door out to the stone patio and then some.

We cleared the area, staked it out and invited over our friend Lex to help.  Meet the help!  Hubby and Lex.

Friday afternoon/night, Matt marked out in the lawn the shape of the patio so I could use my mad crazy awesome tetris skills to layout the stones, so we would have some idea of how to piece it all together when it came time.

I moved most of those stones by myself.  I can't believe I could lift half of those!

Saturday, Matt and I spent the morning running around and doing our typical weekend chores, like grocery shopping and picked up some last minute supplies.  Then in the afternoon, Lex showed up and we all started working.  Most of the work was done Sunday.

I labeled all the stones with chalk.  I numbered them and made orientation lines, so when moving the stones from our mock patio to the real patio, we would know how they went.  It worked fairly well.

While I did that, the boys leveled the patio area, rented a plate compactor to level out the soil.  Added decomposed granite and plate compacted it again.  Then it was my show.  We added our layer of sand and I played tetris with all our stones.  I had to make a few adjustments, but all in all, not bad!

By mid-morning on Monday, all the stones were set in sand.  We had accomplished all the hard tasks.  Now we just needed mix up a sand and soil mixture to sweep between the stones.

Normally you would just use sand, but we were planning on putting stepable herbs between some of the stones.  They need some nutrients.

For the stepables, we picked up lemon thyme, lavender thyme and corsican mint.  They all smell heavenly!  The added bonus, the mint is suppose to help repel mosquitoes! 

Before I planted the herbs, I swept my mixture into all the cracks between the stones and watered it in.  Then I planted the herbs, added more mixture to sweep in and watered it down again.

I planted the mint under where the firepit table and chairs would be because it is the lowest growing.  Both thymes were planted on the edge, because it can grow up to around 6-8 inches.  The guy from the garden center told me that if it got too high we could just mow it.  Awesome!

And now it was done!  We kicked back, enjoyed a beer and relaxed at a job well done, that was finally done!

We have some plans for a few more decorative touches around the new patio.  One of the first on the list, to fix that walkway and get it to match! 

(p.s. if you look at the fence in the last pic under the Texas flag, that is most of the stone we have left over, it's a lot!)

Sharing this over at:
One Project Closer - Before and After Series

May 29, 2012

Photo 366 #22

It feels like summer.  Lots of working outdoors this week, my summertime flowers are blooming and the kids are playing in the water.  Life is good.

May 22 - The boys actually let me take a few photos of them together!!!  They are getting so big.

May 23 - I almost forgot to take a photo.  So, I took a photo of the coils inside the burned out heating element from my dryer.  Then I went to bed.

May 24 - My first canna bloomed.  It's a vivid hot pinkish/orange with bright yellow spots near the center of the flower.  It's gorgeous, but so over saturated with color that it is difficult to photograph.  I converted it to a black and white.

May 25 - I revisited my canna.  I failed again at getting a good shot in color.  I will going to try and learn how to take a great photo of something over saturated in color.

May 26 - A beautiful question mark butterfly.  The whole family was out at my favorite garden center, Enchanted Gardens and this beauty floated in and landed on one of the plant stands.  He let us get close enough that the kids and I could get a good look.  I was about 24 inches from him when I captured the photo.

May 27 - We bought a bag of lady bugs at the garden center to release in our yard.  Here is one inspecting my roses for anything to eat.

May 28 - The unofficial kick-off to summer.  My next door neighbor had her grandsons over and set up the slip and slide.  Here is Maben trying to get Colton to the end of it.  He wasn't exactly slipping or sliding here.  I cannot stop laughing at this photo!

May 28, 2012

A Day To Remember

I hope you are taking advantage of spending time with your loved ones this Memorial Day weekend and take the time to remember what today is for and are able to teach it to your children.

4th Infantry Division Memorial, Fort Hood

I will forever be grateful that my husband has served our country and come home to me safely.  I know there are many men and women that have given the ultimate sacrifice for love of this country and to them, I will always have a place in my heart. 

1st Cavalry Division Memorial, Fort Hood

So, please take the opportunity today to remember all those who have served our country. 

I want to say thank you to all the men and women who are currently serving and have served.  Thank you!  Without your sacrifices and the sacrifices of your family, we would not be the country we are today.

May 24, 2012

I Took On Mr. Roper

And I won!  Meet Mr. Roper.  He's my dryer.  He's old, but works hard...until he breaks.  So far, he is 9 years old and has had a belt replaced.  Mr. Roper decided to break down on me on my FIRST load of laundry after I had put off an extra week of not doing laundry.  Waiting for hubby to have time to fix it was NOT an option.  The kids would have worn dirty clothes the next day if I didn't get it fixed.

So, with my can do attitude, I pulled up Youtube and searched for a video on how to replace the heating element.  (I knew the heating element went out, because it was turning the load, but no heat was coming out).  And guess what?  I found one for the exact part number!

I spent less than 5 minutes watching this, then I was off to the Sears Parts store, picked up the new heating element for $66 and came home to tackle this on my own.

I unplugged the dryer, pulled it out and ewwww!  This is the back of my dryer.  I immediately vacuumed.  Then I detached the dryer vent.

Ahhh, much better.  I removed the black panel to get to the heating element.

Not much back there.  Not intimidated at all!  Especially because there are not that many wires.

I vacuumed the inside of the dryer, I swear I end up doing that every few years.  Anways, I located the heating element and detached the wires and removed it.

Yup, definitely the heating element.  That is one fried piece of equipment.  There shouldn't be any black, see.

Brand new heating element.  Nice and shiny!  Anyways, I installed it according to that awesome Youtube video and put everything back together and fixed the dryer vent.  It had a small hole in it near where it attached to the back of the dryer, so I shortened it by about 4 inches. 

All in all, totally worth it!  Start to finish, 45 minutes and $66.  It took so long partially because of a two year old attempting to help and needing to fix the vent.  I have a fully functioning dryer and had a mountain of clean, warm laundry to fold.  YAY! 

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional, just a girl with a can do attitude and refusal to pay someone to do something I can easily do myself.  If you are unsure of any type of home improvement, please consult a professional.  Repeat, I am not a professional!   

May 22, 2012

Photo 366 #21

Nature is definitely inspiring me these days.  I love watching the birds with the kids at the feeder in the backyard.  Summer has officially hit here in Texas, we have had a few days that have hit in the 90's.  Soon enough we will all turn into fish, because it is the only way to survive a Texas summer.  While it's still bearable, we are enjoying the sunshine and getting out often.

May 15 - While waiting for Maben to get out of school, I snapped this photo of this gorgeous flower in the butterfly garden.

May 16 - Testing out if I could take a decent photo through dirty glass with my telephoto lens.  Not bad, especially if you could see how badly I need to wash windows.

May 17 - Another parent pointed out a baby mockingbird in one of the trees at the school.  Maben was quite fascinated with it.  We even got to watch mama bird come with some bugs to feed it.

May 18 - Getting much better at taking photos through my dirty kitchen window.  I like this shot of the blue jay much more.

May 19 - The boys and I ventured up to ride the miniature trains and pick blueberries.  Here is Maben waiting very patiently for the trains while wearing his conductor hat.

May 20 - I was lucky enough to be in the path of the eclipse (unfortunately not the path that saw the ring of fire).  I took Maben out to the middle of nowhere so we could watch the eclipse set on the horizon.  Maben though it was, "cool."  This photo is me also trying my hand at an HDR (high dynamic range) photograph.  I love it!

May 21 - My first tomato!  A big thanks to my friend Laura for starting them from seed and giving me some.

May 21, 2012

My Little Graduate

Maben graduated from preschool last week.  Such a silly little milestone, but I can't believe I am going to have a Kindergartener in the fall!  Where did the time go?  I know every parent tells you that the time will go by faster than you ever realize, but you really cannot prepare yourself or fully understand that until it has come...and gone!

The morning started with the end of the year program where Maben did a wonderful job signing and dancing.  Following the program all the 4's classes dismissed to different areas for their own graduation.  We were in the main worship center which is SUPER dark and makes it SUPER difficult to take photos unless you have the spotlight on you.

My proud little graduate standing up on stage while his teacher said that Maben wants to be a Sheriff when he grows up and his favorite part about preschool is playing with toys.  He then posed for a photo with his teacher.

I took pics of Matt and the boys together.  Then took a self photo.  Matt tried taking some pics of Maben and I, but they didn't come out too well.  Like I was horrible!

After we did the end of the year party, we headed out to the lunch of Maben's choice, McDonald's.  Before we could leave, I took Maben's photo in front of the fountain.

Here's to Kindergarten next year.  I hope Maben comes to love it and that he knows at least one kid in his class on the first day of school. 

May 16, 2012

Photo 366 #20

Sorry this is getting up late.  I have been deprived of sleep from a kitten that was stuck up in a tree.  The kitten and my dogs kept me up most of Monday night.  Once I heard it about dusk on Tuesday I employed my husband to help me find it.  He did most of the work.  The kitten (completely feral) decided to jump out of the tree and found itself in another predicament at about 3 am.  I am hoping for more sleep and no dogs barking because they hear a kitten crying. 

Yesterday I also had to fix the dryer because the heating element went out.  More on that later this week.

May 8 - Since Maben has a summer birthday, he got to celebrate his birthday at school.  He was sung to on stage, got to bring in a treat.  He chose s'mores on a stick.  Here he is with his crown which he wore the entire morning at school.

May 9 - We were at our favorite duck feeding pond and this egret had come up with quite the ingenious hunting technique.  Wait for the bread to attract fish and then eat them.  Smart bird.  I've been trying to get close to one of these for a while, who knew all I needed was some stale bread?

May 10 - This day was water day at Maben's preschool.  Maben had a blast until a kid wiped shaving cream all over him (thankfully that was close to the end of water day).  Colton on the other hand was grumpy at the very beginning, up until the homemade car wash.  I think I might be investing in some PVC pipe this summer.

May 11 - We went out to dinner and while we were heading to the car, it started raining again.  It had been hot and humid most of the day, then while loading a kid into the car I got hit with a very cold wind, a couple pieces of hail and I thought to myself, "this is tornado weather."  Well, it really was, as we drove away from the restaurant, we were able to see a large wall cloud with rotation.  Thankfully no tornado touched down.  I did however take a panoramic photo of my street after the wall cloud had passed to the south of us.

May 12 - Matt bought the boys some rubber band airplanes.  Here is Maben attempting to get his to fly.  They were really fickle.  I need to find the foam ones that launch with a rubber band.

May 13 - You saw quite a few of my photos of the zoo already.  Here is another one.

May 14 - Tis the season of the bees.  I saw my first ground bee on Monday.  This is a type of solitary bee that nests in sandy soil.  Thankfully they are completely not aggressive, however we will be avoiding all playgrounds with sand for the next month.

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