Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Cookout

Matt - The Grill Master!
This is actually only our second time to use our grill.

Yesterday we had Matt's family over for some grilling in the backyard in honor of Memorial Day. We pulled out the grill that we used once last summer (it is hard to grill when you live in an upstairs apartment and have to walk down to the sidewalk to do your grilling). We couldn't decide between hot dogs or hamburgers, so we did both! Not only could we not decide between the meats, we could not decide which kind of hot dogs we wanted: all beef, normal, or fat free - so we grilled all three. In addition to the delicious grilled main course, Ray Oberdick made some German potato salad. This was my first experience with this dish, and I must say it was wonderful!

Nephew Chase eating his enormous hamburger!

This was our first time hosting a large family group at hour new house. I think it went pretty well. We still do not have any back yard furniture so Matt borrowed a large table from the church and some chairs so that we could eat around a table. We do have 2 patio chairs, and 2 fold up (take to soccer games) chairs, and I borrowed 3 from my mom's house too. There was plenty of seating. I already new I loved our covered patio, but I LOVE it even more now. It really does create a lot of shade and coolness. One thing our house is not, is kid proof. This is something that we quickly figured out with little nephew and niece Ben and Emma, but the backyard is just right for kids! It is also just right for a pet...I am working on that one.

villages - jes

I spent the weekend in Kansas with my dad, helping my big brother Cody move out of his apartment so that he can hit the road. And by "hit the road" I mean take a twelve hour flight to Croatia where he's going to do research and live with his beautiful wife and charming baby. The point is, I got a lot out of hauling old desks, televisions, and rugs down three flights of stairs: the satisfaction that I was helping AND a bunch of other stuff that he was going to send to Goodwill. Though Marshall and I have plenty of stuff, there are so many basic things that we're lacking and it's a gift that so many have helped us out, even if it just means calling before they take a load to donate.

My good friends Ashley and Matthew are embarking on their own adventure, with Lawrence being their launch point as well, they gave us some amazing pieces including a solid wooden rocking chair and an intriguing little globe, modeled after one built in 1504. Like I said, not everything is necessary or practical (such as the set of silverware we got from Cody), but all of it is filling up our house the way we want it.

So many people have chipped in, it's incredible. The Crockers let us root through a bunch of stuff that their daughter decided she didn't want, my Oma is holding onto an end table and gave us a couple of lamps yesterday, and my Mom and Dad were gracious enough to store things in their basement for me during their own big move. It surprises me how much more like a home this house feels when we add something as simple as a chair or a bookshelf. Thanks to everyone who has helped.

Monday, May 30, 2011

table for three - jes

Last weekend some very exciting things happened. For starters our indentured servant Summer came to Tulsa with me to help us out and play some board games. Not only was she fantastic company, but she also cleaned out the freezer that I've been too much of a wuss to tackle myself. She's a saint. We spent the weekend tilling up the front garden, putting in new plants, cleaning out the kitchen, and drinking beer on the back porch. It was wonderful.

We also had our first meal. My mom, grandma, aunt, and a few other family friends (including Bre), have been helping me collect Frankoma pottery to stock our kitchen. It's wonderful. We've been calling the future study the "Frankoma Room" which makes us sound super fancy. The dishes are beautiful. Eclectic but still cohesive. Marshall and I both have always loved the Frankoma stuff, and now we have our own pieced together set of dishes. It definitely beats the random assortment of Goodwill and Walmart dishes we've been using up to this point.

After cleaning out the refrigerator we went grocery shopping and for the very first time had a meal at the house that wasn't delivered or eaten out of the container it came in. It was simple and didn't require "cooking" but it was delicious. It's hard to describe how exciting it was to eat off of real plates, around a table, and to have a place to store the leftovers without worrying about anything immediately growing on them. Even washing the dishes was exciting, having a place to let them dry, a place to put them that wasn't the floor of our study. I felt the same way the first time I got to take a bath over here. Like this place is really our home. A tasty salad, some delicious sandwiches and a couple of great friends over. It was amazing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

blueberries & mint - jes

We planted more this weekend. I know it takes years for people to establish their gardens, and I can't wait until every inch of our yard is covered with something tasty or that smells good. I bought a few books about gardening and herbs and have been pouring over every bit of them. Turns out there is a lot to learn about every plant, herb, flower.

Blueberries need sunny, well drained, acidic soil. So, we gave it to our new plants. We had some help from Summer who came down and worked with us for a few days. It was nice to have company at our new house. Making stuff at the shop always makes me feel like we've accomplished something amazing. BENDING metal! Pretty cool. Can't wait until the blueberries are so big we can stand on the porch and pick them.

With Summer's help we also tackled one more flower bed in the front of the house. Not sure what we'll do with the rusty metal tubing we dug out of it, but we'll figure out something. First we had to kill all the poison ivy with some Round Up, wait for it to die, and pull up about fifteen years worth of weeds. The soil is rich and full of earth worms though.
I love planting stuff so much. I love my little trowel and getting my hands dirty with actual dirt. We put rosemary and oregano along the back and those little green flowers are going to be big purple flowers some day. It's so exciting to plant things that will (hopefully) be there for years to come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

painting - jes

There are still about four dozen walls that I need to finish painting, but getting at least some color on the walls has done wonders. I was able to get the living room painted in a really nice yellow-ish color by the time Marshall got home from work one day. Simply having a couple of rooms that aren't white makes me feel so much better. Dad helped me with the tools of the trade and I went to Anchor Paint for the rest (gotta support at least a little local). I'm really happy with how it turned out. It brings out our totally awesome fire place bricks and mantle.

For the study, we went with a nice calming robin's egg blue color. The room gets good light in the mornings and the color will be perfect for relaxing and writing another book, or just curling into a chair and reading. My current roommate Sarah has the perfect chairs for this room, unfortunately they are awesome and I can't see her parting with them. Once I'm in Tulsa more, I'll be hitting up garage sales and flea markets with Bre to see if we can't find some of the missing furniture pieces we both need.

For the guest room we decided we could have any color we darn well wanted. That's why it's bright green. Phillip calls it "fun green" and I feel that is a good description. Rocket of course has helped me every brush stroke of the way. Keeping guard, eating any bugs, and lounging in the sun like a true contractor. We're thinking Nascar themed bed sheets for this room? Maybe some bunk beds so we can cram more friends into it. We can do whatever we want! It's our house.

Back to the Beginning - bre

I know it has been a while since I have updated, so I have a lot to catch up on. I will first say that Matt and I made our first Mortgage payment this month! That was exciting. Matt and I ABSOLUTELY love living in our new home! Before I get carried away with the here and now, I should back track and talk about the things we had to do before we moved in.

When we bought the house we had/have popcorn ceilings throughout. The ceiling in the living room really need some cleaning. Instead of trying to paint the dirty ceilings, we decided to tackle the project of SCRAPING! It really was not that bad. Once you wet the popcorn the stuff just shucks right off. We had to scrape the living room, then the dining room and kitchen, which led to the laundry room, so that needed to be scraped. Then we scraped down the hall to the bedrooms and stopped there. We did not scrape in any of the bedrooms. The project was big enough without adding rooms. Also, the popcorn in the rooms was in really good shape as it was.

 Scraping popcorn took a good 10-12 man hours with Matt and his dad doing a lot of the work the next day, after Matt, our dads and I scraped for a good 5 hours the first night. We tackled the project the day after we signed the mortgage. We got started about 8 pm and scraped till nearly midnight.

After the scraping Justin Robinson, My sister in law's husband came over and mudded the entire ceiling! It looks BEAUTIFUL! Justin does this professionally and we were HUGELY blessed to have his talents available. 

I don't have a picture of the finished ceiling on hand, but you will be able to see it pictures of the living room later on. Keep and eye out!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Landscaping - bre

I love our current front yard landscaping. The people who lived here before us did an excellent job! Matt and his dad pulled out all the old mulch, laid down weed cloth and re-mulched. The tree, we call a Tulip Tree, because in the early spring before it gets leafy, it blooms beautiful tulip looking flowers! Yesterday a neighbor stopped by and asked if they could take a picture of it, because they want to plant something that looks like that!
These are all the garden plants I planted
I can't even believe how incredibly beautiful today was! I got up early this morning and met my mom for Garage/Estate Sale shopping. We hit the Woodmeadow Neighborhood Garage sale and found some neat Christmas decorations, including a "Seasons Greetings" front door mat for $0.25 and a Yankee Candle Christmas scent for $0.50; ya can't beat that!!! Next we hit an Estate sale where I found even MORE treasures. I got a fall and Christmas wreath, some flower pots, and the best of all for $10 I got a trinket box from a work bench in the garage, with TONS of screws and nuts and bolts and things. I probably don't know what half of the stuff does, but it I know Matt will figure it out. The other day when Matt was trying to "L" Bracket our headboard to the wall so it didn't wobble, we had to go to Lowes and buy some screws and anchors and things because those are not things we have accumulated yet. My dad has tons of that stuff in coffee cans and mason jars in his garage, but we have yet to grow a stock. This $10 box full is like having my grandpa's 20 years worth of accumulation of things. Score! 

There is a lot more I have to blog about, about yesterday's beautiful Saturday (5/14/2011) but for some reason I am unable to upload pictures, and I don't want to bore you with my rambling without visual aids!
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

bells & whistles - jes

It feels so good to conquer long lists of little things. Sure, getting a washer and dryer (thanks so much to Bre, Matt and their friend's generosity) or getting the carpet shampooed feels great, but those are major things. Sometimes it's enough to just take care of the small stuff. The bells and whistles. Cleaning the hamburger helper off of the stove was incredibly gratifying. Cleaning out the refrigerator was scarier, but gratifying as well. I'm still putting off the freezer. "There's something alive down there" - Luke Skywalker ala trash compactor monster sums up my feelings about the freezer. Maybe amazing boyfriend Marshall feels like donning gloves and a mask and cloroxing the heck out of it?

I'm not sure if it's common practice to remove all vent covers when you vacate a rental property, but somewhere along the lines all of ours disappeared. I spent twenty minutes at Lowe's, trying to figure out which vent covers to buy. There are nickle plated, plastic, fake oak, real oak, stainless, and about a dozen other types and designs of vent covers. Who knew? They're not something I ever gave much thought to. It took some hammering to get the covers to fit, somewhere along the line the metal vents and the cement started to chip apart, making it a challenge to get them in there. But we did, and now I don't have to worry I'll break my ankle every time I walk near a window.


There was only one doorknob missing at the house and that has now been replaced as well. I had to install it twice because I messed up the first time (the long screws are to hold the two pieces together, not to hold the whole thing to the door). Fortunately I realized my mistake and was able to fix it. The door is to the pantry, which doesn't actually require a doorknob, but it makes the whole kitchen area look nicer. I'm glad we're finishing these small tasks that make the house look loved. The big things are important, but the little ones add up fast.

Monday, May 2, 2011

gardeners - jes

Using a left-over deck, a crowbar, a machine shop, and a truck, Marshall and I managed to make five raised bed gardens in two days. The previous renters had left this hideous deck that we have no use for whatsoever. It held a pool, which I found out from the backdoor neighbor's nine year old "was really fun, but they took it down before they left so it's okay you don't have one." Using my brute force (all of it) and Marshall's lead hammer wielding abilities, we broke apart most of the deck and salvaged most of the wood.

Then we went to the shop where he used a radiack (sp?) to slice off all the nails. I've learned that nails are horrible things, particularly three inch long nails. Screws are the way to go. When you use screws, you can take things apart with a drill. When you don't have screws you have to pound and chop and sweat to pry apart a few pieces of plank. Then we machined the brackets. I love using the machine I call the "chomper" (it's actual name is an iron worker) and together we cut the metal, punched the holes, and bent it to fit.

After that is was assembly time, which must have been some sort of record. We were hustling because I was meeting Bre at the house for the first time so she could see it, and there's no reception at the shop. But we got four of them together (the fifth had to be assembled on site because it wouldn't fit in the truck).

Sadly, she didn't get to see them, because we weren't able to borrow the truck right away, but the next day we got them hauled over. Rocket had been very good about staying in the backyard until we were loading the very last of them. Then he decided it was time to chase a cat all the way down the street, me running like a maniac after him. If Rocket dies of anything but old age, it will be car via cat.

Fortunately for our hard work, before we added dirt Marshall made the point that we better double check that the lawn mower fits between the garden beds. We got a lawn mower at an estate sale in Norman last weekend, so we had it stored in our shed.  Luckily he remembered, since both of us enjoy a well-mowed lawn. I myself refuse to mow, but he likes to so it evens out. 

The next day, it was dirt time. I'm not gonna lie, when the friendly man had his backhoe raised over Bob's truck and he started dumping hundreds of pounds of dirt into the bed, I had horrible flashes of it coming down on the bed and us having to pay to replace the purty little truck. Needless to say, that didn't happen.

It took two loads, but we got all five filled with dirt after lining them with a tarp to keep grass from growing. I must say, my Leatherman Tool has been invaluable. It cut through the tarp like it was melted butter. If you care about someone, or if you yourself are embarking on a project such as fixing up a house, buy them or yourself a Leatherman Tool. It's the best tool I have. (Thanks Santa).

We stood with pride once we got things planted. My mom gave us a pointer so we got all the plants from Urban Garden in Tulsa.  The plants come from Guthrie, which in itself is neat.  I can't wait to have veggies galore this summer and fall. We're going to learn how to can and pickle things.  Last Christmas we got the jelly thing down, so pickling is next. It feels so good to have gotten so much done in just two days.

I may miss some plants, but here's a list of the things we got planted:
bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, banana peppers, five kinds of tomatoes, basil (thanks Mom), spearmint, peppermint, chives, okra, cucumber, cantaloupe, yellow squash, zucchini, lemon balm, thyme, parsley, and watermelon.

Mom and Dad are talking about making themselves a raised bed like ours, which I feel is a very high form of praise. Anyone in Tulsa who wants to is free to come over with a pry bar and help themselves to a handful of deck bits and we can even whip out brackets for you.