Road Tripping!

As summer wound down, it was time for a little Family Vaca: A few days visiting Tony’s parents in South Dakota and a few days hiking in the Black Hills, a part of the country I’d never seen. Before we could load up the car, though, there was work to do. We were taking Tony’s parents our old bed so they could trade out their guest bed. Four year ago, Tony and his buddies moved this Queen sized mattress and box spring into the house and up the stairs. Tony and I couldn’t for the life of us figure out how! Thank goodness for new windows. We ended up popping the glass panels out and sliding the boxspring down the ladder to the truck bed. 

A random couple drove by and asked if we needed help. That’s how comical this was! 

And thus, we were off on our trip with bed, baby, and dog for the 500 mile journey. We left EO with the grandparents for a few days of playing while we took Charlie to “The Hills” and Spearfish Canyon. 

Despite record breaking heat, the hiking was fantastic. Day 1 was an easy 2 mile trek along the creek to Roughlock Falls.

For Day 2 we were able to start early and kick it up a notch. The first stop was Community Caves, a short but challenging climb, according to the guide book. The best part, though, was the directions to find the trail: “You will need to find a way across the creek. Once across, you will see a bunch of rocks and small stream. Follow this up to the caves.” So we crossed the creek and didn’t see any pile of rocks, but we did see what looked like a trail. Tony even noticed that a tree branch was broken, so clearly people had been here recently.


When we got to the 15 foot tall rock wall with only tree roots to use to make our way up, we decided this could not possibly be right, and that there was no way Charlie would make it up here. Retracing our steps, we crossed the creek and turned further down stream, only to find these two signs that we were now heading the right direction: a make-shift bridge and a pile of rocks. 

Apparently my vision of a neat little pile to mark the trail head was a bit off.
It was a fun trail that led to a cool old cave.

By this point temps were approaching 95, so we decided to forgo our plan to hike to the rim of the canyon, and instead we opted for an easy walking trail to a great waterfall – Spearfish Falls.

For lunch we stopped at the Canyon Picnic grounds. Each spot had a private parking spot, table, and a grill. It was right by the creek, and there was even a boardwalk to walk along the water after we ate.

That afternoon, since it was so hot, we decided to do the water hike to Devil’s bathtub. It was a gorgeous hike along, and often through, Squaw Creek to a pool of icy cold water and a natural water slide. 

It was the most crowded trail we hiked all week, but it was gorgeous!

That afternoon we treated ourselves to homemade ice cream in downtown Spearfish!

For our last day of hiking, we gave Charlie the morning off. The ’76 Trail was named in honor of the path walked by gold miners in 1876 and it ascends 1,000 feet in ¾ of a mile. At the top we were rewarded with a beautiful aerial view of the canyon.

Our final hike was to Eleventh Hour Gulch, and this is literally the trail head:

You’d never see it from the road if you weren’t looking really hard. Once we walked through the trees, this is what we saw:

We couldn’t help reminiscing about one of our favorite Tortola experiences – The Ghut Hike. Apparently a Gulch is a Ghut! This one was complete with some very rickety looking ladders up some of the steeper rocks.

At the top we had a great view of Spearfish Creek.

What a fun day!

We missed our little man, but we were glad we didn’t have to worry about him in the heat. It was great to get away for a few days!

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Patio Progress – It’s Done!

It’s done!

So it’s been done since the 4th of July, but I’m behind on my blogging! 

Remember, it all started in April when I casually mentioned to Tony that perhaps it was time to sell the bricks we’d been storing in the driveway for three years. He disagreed. He dug a hole.

Then it rained. And rained. Then it rained some more. The hole filled with water. Several times.

Then he filled the hole with gravel and sand, and used a big machine to pound it all down, and laid the bricks, and used the big machine again. The last step was to build the steps. 

I added some landscaping and connected the paths to the patio. Charlie seemed to think we did it all for him. 

Then we added the furniture! 

It’s going to be great to sit by the fire in the evenings this fall!

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Back Porch Fun – Water Table

Now that we have a nice back porch we’ve been spending quite a bit of time back there! We put up a swing for our little man, and I built him a little water table. I love the look of those rustic wooden ones, but I wanted to be able to put a lid on top and didn’t want to refinish it each season. So, this is the PVC water table I ended up with. 

EO loves it! He mostly splashes himself and dumps cups of water on his chest and the floor. Occasionally he’s tried drinking from the cups… But I love seeing that grin as he pours another cup of water down his chest! He’s even figured out how to take the lid off by himself. 

There are directions all over Pinterest for how to build this water table, and it was a very simple project – A couple poles of PVC, a bunch of connectors, and a saw to cut the pipes. 

Tony went out for the evening with his coworkers, so I put the baby to bed and gathered my materials. The paper pictured above has my cut list, but I think every single measurment was wrong! Luckily, I had plenty of pipe, and the measurements were all too long, so it was easy to cut them down. 

Then it was just a matter of putting all the pieces together!  

Once it was all put together I used a leftover can of dark gray to paint the table and a partially full can of yellow for the lid of the plastic container, and just finished painting as it was getting dark. My spray can was running on fumes as I used my phone flashlight to see if I got everything! The paint has held really well on the PVC, but it hasn’t faired so well on the lid… I don’t know why. Anyway, it serves its purpose – keeps the mozzies and dust out! 

Here’s to more summer fun!

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Patio Progress – Porch Painting 

Progress on the patio was impeded significantly by the rains of May. You may remember that it looked like this in my last Patio Progress update: 

But it’s nearly done now! Between rains Tony added some guttering to the back porch roof to help divert some of the water. 

He also put down 3.5 tons of gravel, so there is was a lot less space to flood! He installed little borders to help hold the bricks in place, but before he could load up sand and lay bricks, we had to paint the back porch. We were intending to spray the paint on the spindles and didn’t want any overspray to ruin the newly laid bricks. So, we spent a weekend painting. Tony power washed and scraped away the loose paint. 

Whew, that looked bad!

Then we put up the umbrella and loaded the kiddo into the Pack’n’Play while we primed and painted all the railings. 

We had just finished the first coat of paint on the floor as the rain moved back in. It washed all the paint away – major sad face! So, after EO went to bed on Monday and Tuesday nights we finished the floor. 

Tony also made some modifications to the railing and overall layout. In the picture above, you can see he cut out a chunk of railing to create an opening to the backyard that wasn’t there before. He also extended the railing it to meet the house on the driveway side (that’s where I’m taking the picture from) and added a gate.The wood, though, is treated, so we’ll be rocking the two-tone look for awhile as it dries out. Oh well!

Once the paint was finished, Tony added 1.5 tons of sand to the hole and began laying bricks. The actual brick laying went much faster than expected! In just two days he had laid about 900 bricks.

Once all the bricks were down, he rented this loud machine to tamp the bricks down. It really helped make them even.

Then we swept more sand into the crevices between the bricks. We’ll probably have to do that a few more times as well. 

Just a few things left to do before the final reveal – Tony’s working on the brick steps up to the back porch tomorrow, and he’ll use some pavers to connect the patio with the path from the front porch and out the back gate. So, more pictures to come soon! 

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Birthday Boy!

Today my sweet boy turns one! 

We had a little park party with his friends and family over the weekend. 

I did make a couple crafty things for the party – some photo holders, his little tshirt, and the bow tie napkins!

Happy birthday Little Love!

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First Mothers Day

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Just 356 days ago this amazing, active little boy made me a Mommy! What a tremendous gift. 

EO and I started the day with Mimzy at a 5k. Anyone else think that tshirt design was poorly thought out?

Then we came home to breakfast a la Tony and fresh-picked strawberries for the shortcake!

Now we’re picnicking in the park and taking our new SUP board out for its maiden voyage! 

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday, whether you’re celebrating your own mother, mothering a human child, or are a pet parent! For those who are missing their mommas today, you are in our prayers. 

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Patio Progress – A Swimming Pool

With the beautiful Spring weather we’ve had recently, Tony and I have spent a lot of time outside. A couple Saturdays ago was Mulch Day. Tony went to get a truckload of mulch while I got EO set up in the Pack’n’Play out front. 

After all the new plants were planted and the mulch was spread, I mentioned to Tony that it might be time to sell the bricks that have been sitting out back for the last few years.

Tony found these bricks on CraigList when someone was digging up their brick patio, but originally they paved a road in some small town nearby. He had this awesome vision of a brick patio off the back porch. Then he got busy with the bathrooms and the library and school and everything else, so they’ve been sitting there ever since. 

I swear there was no ulterior motive when I suggested it was time to get rid of the bricks, but next thing I knew, this was happening:

It took him a couple weekends to dig out the hole, but now he’s ready for the gravel! 

At least, he will be when this swimming pool dries up! I guess this weekend’s rain is a good thing- now Tony can focus his energy on finals while the hole dries out.

PS: If anyone needs fill dirt, we have a ton of it! Come over and take whatever you need!

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Now We’re Cooking With Gas!

Ok, to be fair, we’ve been cooking with gas for some time now. This old oven/stovetop came with the house when we bought it. 

Isn’t the discoloration at the bottom of the oven door a particularly nice feature? It’s burned on. 

As Tony and I have debated aspects of a potential kitchen remodel, one component we discussed was replacing our old gas range with an electric one. I grew up in a home with electric, so I felt most comfortable with it. Besides, I complained to my friend, Monica, “It’s impossible to cook anything on low! Our stove has two settings: high and super high!” 

Monica and her husband rave about cooking with gas, as do most of my friends who cook, come to think of it. So Monica was visiting a while ago and took a look at our range. “I see your problem,” she said. “All your burners are the same size. On most gas stoves you have a couple big burners and a couple smaller ones so it’s easier to simmer.” 

Mind. Blown. 

Anyway, we made do with our old, ugly, superheated oven for another year or so after Monica’s revelation, because it worked. And we’d learned how to compensate for the ridiculously high heat levels (manic dinner preparation). And new stoves are expensive.

Then Home Depot had a sale…

… And this Beauty found a new home! 

Next step is to box in that five inch wide space on the left. I wanted to do it when we put that little cabinet on the right in, but I was waiting to replace the stove first. You can’t see it in the photo, but our gas line comes up from the cellar in a spot that prohibits anything from going right up to that wall. Tony looked at moving it, but the floor joists line up in way that moving the line wasn’t really an option. It’s fine with me though – it will be nice to have a teeny bit of counter space on that side of the stove. 

Now it’s time to relearn how to cook all my favorite stovetop recipes!

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Replacing Glass Shelves 

Thank goodness for three day weekends! Last Monday was Presidents’ Day, and I honored the contributions of Presidents past by taking care of a little project that’s been on my to-do list for three years now. I’ve been meaning to replace these glass shelves with wooden ones since we moved in!

The reasons for replacing these shelves were two-fold: first, glass shelves seem a little dated. Second, and more importantly,  I was always eyeing them to see if the bowing in the middle had gotten worse. I was just waiting for the central support to pull out of the wall and the shelves to collapse in a heap of deadly glass shards! Luckily, that had not actually happened, and I wanted to avoid such a scenario.  

Sunday night was date night, so Little Man was at Mimzy’s. I took advantage of a baby-free morning to sand, paint, and stain the wood for the shelves. Notice, we don’t dress up for staining on the back porch! 

I was using an extremely simple design. The supports (made from 1×2 pine strips) were painted to match the existing opening and would hide the holes from the glass shelf supports. Tony helped me screw the supports into the wall, and I filled the holes with wood filler.  

Then the stained shelves (cut from 1×10 pine boards) could just sit on top of the supports. 

It’s all very stable – no more concerns of fallen shelf carnage. And I took the opportunity to rearrange a few other items with the knowledge that we’re going to have a little walker sooner than I care to think about! Now that Generations frame will be out of reach for a while… At least until he starts climbing! 

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Love is All You Need

Things are getting wild and crazy around here! There’s not been a lick of work done on the house, but there’s been a lot going on!

Little Man is legit crawling now, too. So you’ll excuse my absence, I hope, as I’ve been trying (and failing!) to clean all the things. There’s nothing like a baby dragging himself across your floors to draw attention to just how much dog hair is really down there!!

I have a couple Love themed projects to highlight though, in honor of V-Day coming up soon. This first one EO and I actually made for Christmas. 

The wood was all scrap from past projects, and it had been sanded smooth already, which was fantastic! I just brushed acrylic paint on EO’s foot (1 at a time) and pressed it onto the bare wood. The hands were harder, as he kept balling them into fists, so I let him fall asleep on the couch and carefully pressed his hand to the wood as he slept. I intended to design letters on my machine for the ‘l’ and ‘e,’ but eventually just decided to freehand it. EO watched from his box in the kitchen as I applied a coat of dark walnut stain to each sign out on the back porch. 

Two coats of polycrylic finished it off. EO and I made 5 of these, and the grandparents all loved them!

I’ve been eyeing the sign I made for myself and wanting to do something else with those precious little feet. I decided on a Valentine’s Day shirt – season of love and all! Amazon had baseball tees for a good price so I ordered one up and put cardboard between the front and back layers. I mixed regular acrylic paint 2:1 with a fabric medium (to thin it out so the paint will stretch a bit when the material does) and used a sponge to apply the paint mixture over the top of a vinyl stencil cut on my machine. It’s not perfect. EO scrunched the fabric between his little toes when I put the second foot down, but I’m excited to wear it for Valentine’s Day next week! 

Wishing lots of love to you all! 

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