Friday, July 16, 2021

1 Project Complete! Family Visit


The kids' bathroom is complete!

This was by far the most frustrating project we have done to date.   Everything that could go wrong did.  The closest Lowes or Home Depot is 20 minutes away and in those final days before my brother and his family came,  I found myself driving to one of them at least once a day.

My dad installed the tub, added all of the wonderboard for us to tile on, fixed the electrical that was definitely not to code,

installed a vent fan because there wasn’t even a hole for one! (How can you have a bathroom without a vent fan?!  Our master bath doesn’t have one either!)  Hooked up the sink, etc.

My mom and I tiled the tub, repaired and painted the walls, installed the flooring, 

painted the existing vanity, installed the wainscoting, etc.   

It was a pain,  but we got it done!   I am so happy with how it turned out.  It is the one and only room in this house that feels clean and done.

Before: This picture makes it look pretty good - it is from the house listing. Watch my house tour to see how gross it was. 


My parents wanted to put up a pool before Steve and Michelle came.  Poppy spent many hours making sure it was level.


  The kids love it and they spend a lot of time in it on the 90 degree days.

 They also love jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler on to keep cool.


Steve and Michelle and the boys arrived after a loooong drive.  Jack was especially happy to see his guy cousins.   They slept in my parents trailer and my parents stayed in Paige and Jack's room.

The kids played, 


 we played chicken foot,

and took them to see the Hot Springs and feel the water (thrills galore).  

We got season passes to Magic Springs and with our tickets also got enough free passes to take S&M’s family and also enough to go with Bryan and Rachel next time they come.  What a fun place!  It’s a water park and amusement park in one.  The kids love it,  I love it.  We have gone 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  (There are some big rollercoasters - it is very similar to Knotts Berry Farm and Sunsplash)

Paige and Joy had been at church camp the week before they got here so we also celebrated Paigey’s 8th birthday while they were here.


On the 4th of July we went to a church member’s property and had an excellent view of fireworks.  Probably the best I’ve seen in many many years.   It was 75 degrees out as we waited for them to start.  I got chilly!  On the fourth of July!  I love it here.

Blackberry season is in full swing.

I have always had an overly romanticized idea of what picking blackberries would be like.  Don’t get me wrong,  I like to do it, not because it is enjoyable, (because it is not) but because I am in awe of how blessed we are that we have unlimited blackberries on our property and that all we have to do it go out and pick them. 


The kids do not like to pick blackberries so I give them each a measuring cup and tell them they have to fill it up twice before we can go back to the house.   

It’s an ordeal to get ready to go picking.  Long pants, snake boots, arm guard for the picking arm, gloves for the holding back branch hand, bug spray, tick repellent and duct tape around your waist to keep the bugs from getting in.  (I did not do this the first time and I kid you not, I had 32 bites below the waist. – yeah, still feeling the effects from that one)

I have canned 16, ½ pints of jam and it is delicious.  Especially in place of syrup on pancakes and French toast.

The garden continues to produce copious amounts of cucumbers.  

We have harvested 84 lbs of cucumbers and I have become somewhat comfortable with canning pickles and relish.   We did taste them now and they are SO good!  

I make sweet and spicy pickles – not dill.   My dad seems to especially like them. 

Beans are now maturing and need to be picked again and canned. 

I have not yet broken out the pressure canner.  That will be happening next week I imagine.  Nothing makes me feel as homesteady as canning.  I love it and am terrified of it at the same time.   I need more jars.

 This is a potato flower.  I had never seen one before.

The tomatoes are turning red and the zucchini, seems to be picking up speed now that I tied them up vertically.

The first cantaloupes are just about ready.

Watermelons are getting big.

Hornworms have been present but manageable.  I get a thrill from finding those jerks and feeding them to the chickens.

The garden is officially secure. 

 It is surrounded by 8ft deer fencing.

We have a friendly snake that we have spotted several times.  He likes to sun himself on a roll of wire fence.  He is frequently found there although the other day the kids and I came across him right in front of us in the pathway.

The projects continue to keep everyone busy.  The kitchen is currently under construction as my dad is painstakingly taking off the cement  counters and getting it ready to put on the new ones.  I can't wait!

This next week we have VBS!  I am planning the snacks as usual and the registration numbers keep climbing! It will be hectic but I am looking forward to it.  


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Garden and Life Update

We’ve had a few packed weeks!

While Bryan was here, he convinced us that we have a great garden area to create a no-till garden like he did in Oklahoma.  He dug around and found that for whatever reason,  this half of the garden area has pretty good, non-rocky soil, unlike the half with the raised beds.  

Right after they left, we got serious about the future garden and got clear plastic to lay down on the area to solarize the weeds and grass that are there. 

I am relieved that this means I don’t have to build and fill so many raised beds.  I do want one more on the bed half of the garden.

I am also building pollinator gardens in various areas to encourage bees. (and to look petty) This is the first and smallest one.   Again, using rocks and materials we find on the land.


I absolutely LOVE the garden.

Things grow here! Quickly and easily!   So far we have harvested 18 of these guys! 

And there is no sign that they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

I made pickles for the first time in my life.   

I haven’t tasted them yet – you are supposed to wait at least two weeks.


Peas are finally starting to grow – they have been slow to start.




Jack’s Pumpkins!




Along with solarizing the garden, we had to make it bunny and deer proof.  We put chicken wire all along the perimeter. 

Currently, we are getting the deer fencing up.  Supposedly we need an 8ft fence to keep the deer out. We chose used netting which in it's former life was was a volleyball net to keep balls from going over into the neighbor’s yard.  Here it is has been a cat tap and deer deterrent. 

I like that you don’t really see it.


We have had a lot of baking over here.  Claire is the resident cake baker and she makes wonderful chocolate cakes (we don’t let her make any other kind – that would be a waste!) 

Josh and Claire went to camp last week so Joy was able to make one of her own without a big sister to critique her.   She got an air balloon cake pan from the library.   Her cake was delicious too!

Claire made a cake for Father’s day and reclaimed her cake baker position.  Poor Joy, demoted to cookie maker.  

Paige doesn’t bake but she does cook sometimes. 

  She also is the resident postmaster and keeps busy ALL day crafting cards and letters and delivering them.  She is quite the artist/crafter.

Right now, the main project is the kids’ bathroom.  

We demoed it all and not surprisingly, it was disgusting. This is what was under the tub.

  We couldn’t figure out why there were always so many flies in the bathroom,  Now we know they were coming up from under the house, into the walls, and out one of the many holes in the dry wall.   Apparently mice or rats were under and behind the tub too.  Who would put a tub on top of that can of varnish?  Oh, wait, I know who....

Water damage anyone?

My mom and I are tiling the bathtub surround.

   It is slow going – we kept getting interrupted by small people that want to eat lunch and dinner!   Yesterday we had a snake emergency and had to drop everything to see what kind it was. The 3 younger kids were walking in the freshly mowed pasture 

and nearly stepped on this guy.   

He is a king snake. 

But despite the slow progress, it is looking pretty darn good.  We will finish today or tomorrow. Then we have walls, and floors to get done.  The goal is for it to be completely done before my other brother, Steve and his family drive out in 2 weeks. I think we can do it.

My dad is moving their trailer to a different part of the yard that gets more shade.  Unfortunately that means running a new electric and water line to get to it.

 Jack helping tamp down the covered pipe. 


It has been in the mid 90’s but the humidity makes is feel a lot hotter.   The thing is though, once the sun starts to set the temperature actually drops!  Imagine that!  It’s only the afternoon that is too hot to be out.   We are having a nice little cold front move through right now.   It was 82 degrees yesterday and right now (morning) it is 52!   It’s the end of June!    Oh. It hasn’t rained for a whole 2 weeks so I had to water my garden.  (hose hooked up to the well) It’s nice that water is free.

Speaking of the well, I think we finally have that situation worked out.  My dad has spent many, many hours crouched in the well house installing a chlorinator and holding tank.  Now the water is getting chlorinated just enough to kill the coliform but not too much that it will ruin the septic tank.  It is so nice to have water come out of the faucet that doesn’t smell like sewer/wet dog!    I am still running water through the Berkey for drinking – now to get the chlorine out, but we are going to get an under sink purifier so that will come to an end soon.