Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our Wooded Wonderland - Piece by Piece

This house has been our home for almost two years now. When we moved out here, Little Miss was just a happy secret between myself and Wynston. I knew this home would be the place where we expanded our family and brought home our first born. The previous owner took loving care of the house, but we needed to put some special touches of our own into it.

Now, here's my disclaimer, we are NOT big home project people. At our first house, we took on a little landscaping, pulled up carpet and laid down a wood laminate floor, and stained the tiny deck. This home needs (needed) some bigger changes. The living room was halfway painted when we moved in, and remains that way. The deck (twice the size of our first deck) needed stained. We'd love to change some of the wall colors. The yard is in SERIOUS need of some TLC...after all, just a few years ago, this place was a wooded lot...and bulldozed woodland does NOT easily transition into a lush grassy oasis. :)

Here's our list of small accomplishments at this home, year 1:
Moved in.
Decorated a cute little woodland nursery for Ava.
Wynston hung blinds in our garage (hello car privacy!), the nursery and the guest bedroom. 

Ya...that's about all we got done the first year and a half we lived here. :) Oh, there was some art work added here and there, but really nothing major. We were too busy, oh you know, raising an infant and learning how to be parents.

But recently, we've been a bit more ambitious. Nothing major, but still items marked off our list.

Cleaned and stained our deck. This time around, we took on a new approach. Instead of power-washing the deck, we used spray on, spray off deck wash. MUCH easier than power-washing, but probably not as effective. We also chose to purchase an electric sprayer and spray on the wash and stain, instead of rolling it on. I still hand stained some spindles and about 2-3 boards closest to our house. This went SO MUCH faster than rolling. Like, crazy fast. We were able to wash the deck in one evening after Ava went to bed (so like 8-9:30), then we stained it in just one other evening, while Ava was with family (5-8). We chose to stain the deck with a pretty dark semi-transparent stain. It's bold, for sure, and darker than we anticipated. But we like it so far. I hope it doesn't get scorching hot though. Guess I'll just have to find the right outdoor rug. :)

Wynston has been successfully burning stumps out of our yard. Again, just a few years ago, this place was a wooded lot. Not having those stumps will not only make the yard look nicer, but will make mowing easier for him.

Wynston has replaced both toilet seats in this house in the last few months. Let's just chalk that up to the builder using cheap ones originally, and both of them had hinges break. Boo. This fix was a lot easier than we anticipated, and using left over gift cards from our wedding (Yes, the wedding from 7 years ago!!), it was also a nice cheap project.

Wynston is methodically mowing and working on a more "natural" part of our yard...making our wild blackberry patch more accessible, and beginning to lay out an area for a food plot to feed all the lovely wild deer we have.

I added the MOST beautiful hammock to our yard. It was a birthday present from my parents, and it's a HIT. Right now we have it hung low enough that Ava can climb right in, when supervised. I also found out this past weekend that if I'm out there relaxing while Ava is napping that A) my monitor gets signal out there, yay! B) the neighbors French Bulldog can jump right into that hammock unannounced and kiss you all over your face. :) This sucker will hold 350 lbs, so it's plenty big for me, Wynston and Ava (and probably another person, lol). I'm looking forward to lazy swings in there all summer and fall.

Yesterday we brought in 30 tons of chat to add to our driveway. A good friend of ours recently purchased a dump truck, and we agreed to be his guinea pig on laying chat. He did an awesome job and our driveway looks great. I'm sure that Ava will see this as a personal challenge to put every single new piece of gravel into her mouth. Stinker.

What's left? A lot probably. But off the top of my head:

We'd like to paint this fall - including replacing all the outlet plates and switch covers the previous owner painted that are now chipping.
Some landscaping - I'm hoping this is a slow and steady project. We aren't the type to overhaul the yard in a summer. First step, hopefully to move the switch grass that is currently crowding the entrance to our deck.

See, those bushes are WAY too close. And we are in dire need of more grass and landscaping here.

And our lovely front porch needs some green prettiness...I'd love a nice row of hostas and hydrangeas out front, but it's west facing and I'm know they'd burn up. Any recommendations?
Add water softening magnets to our well pipes. Well water I love you, but I'm sooo over your hard water spots.
Cut down some dead trees in the yard. Some are probably products of the 2007 ice storm, some were probably damaged by bulldozers.
Redo our Man Room (3rd garage bay, sheet rocked into its own room) floor with that speckle paint stuff.
Put in a garden. I had one at the last house, and would like to get back into that.
Make our deck an outdoor living space. It gets great evening shade and is spacious. We've got a table and several chairs. I even have a really cute pedestal bird feeder, but the animals out here in the country like to knock it over. I'd like to add a nice outdoor rug, some pretty lights, some inviting plants.
I'd like to spruce up our firepit area. I'm pretty sure it was created using the rock blasted out for our house foundation. But we still love it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Salmon Cakes with Creamy Ginger-Sesame Sauce

I found this recipe SEVERAL years ago, and it stays in our regular rotation (which really isn't that regular). It never fails us, and offers a different take on your standard salmon patties. Its also a quick and easy option to throw together on a weeknight! Also, I'll confess that I didnt feel like making my own breadcrumbs last night so I used prepared breadcrumbs and I was also out of sesame oil. Still turned out good!


What is this? Where am I?

You'd think this chair was brand new the way Ava was checking it out the other morning. But she got this chair last summer. I guess having it in the yard (it'd been washed off the night before) brought back some of the intrigue for our Little Miss. I was cracking up.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Mommy and Me Day

Last Saturday, Wynston and some friends had a guys weekend. So Ava and I grabbed hold of that weekend day and squeezed a whole bunch of fun out of it. We started with a train table play date with my friend Ashley and her little Henry, where we shared muffins with our little ones and then made persistent attempts to keep them away from our coffees.

Wish I'd gotten a picture of cute Mr. Henry! Dang it.

Then we shopped for a baby present at Babies-R-Us, followed by Chickfila lunch at the park. At the park we saw lots of interesting things, like a lake full of ducks and geese, a man riding around the park with a bicycle, including a dog platform on the handle bars (dog perched lazily atop) and a bicycle bell, and lots and lots of other kids having fun.


We did some swinging, then headed off to Relics (a LARGE flea market) for some stroller relaxing and naptime (my go-to place if I need to be in town and Ava needs a nap). All this was topped off with a dinner at Red Lobster with Grandma Janie and Poppy, where Ava scarfed down some cheddar biscuits and showed off her new skills - the arts of master handholding cuteness and No, complete with head motions.

What a day! Ava crashed hard when we returned home and I got some much appreciated reading time in. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

1973 Must've Been A Romantic Year

A few weeks ago, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary! Pretty amazing right?! That's a long time. Not only did my parents celebrate this milestone this year, but so did Wynston's aunt and uncle. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, a party was thrown for Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mike. There was really good food (catered by another of Wynston's uncles), Grandma Jenny's butter mints, adorable kids running all over the place, fun pictures all over to look at, laughs and love filling the room. Ava even coincidentally wore red to this red themed party. :)

Ava and her cousin Maddux.

Ava with cousins Maddux and Gehrig. Aren't they sweet?


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Great Evader

Little Miss has caught on to my picture stalking. She is now a pro at not letting me get a straight shot of that cute little face. Case in point, a recent trip to a children's playarea:

This little cutie does an excellent photo bomb.

How cute is the back of this shirt?!

Gotcha, stinker!