Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Evening Taylor-made for Old Friends

What a fun evening! Last night, Scott and I hosted dinner for a small group of old friends before heading to Council Bluffs for a concert by music icon, James Taylor. While it was great to see and hear an incredible legend, the real fun was spending a few hours with three of my college sorority sisters (and their husbands, too.) noTTafarm was the perfect venue for dinner with good friends before the show.
I dressed up the entry table with white roses and Andes mints - two things you would have seen at the Kappa Delta house back in the '80s.
Lynn visited from Beatrice, Karna traveled from Storm Lake, and Debbie came up from Lincoln. We hope they can visit again soon!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Dressing Up the Guest Rooms

When you're married to an architect in a house he designed, you must tread lightly when it comes to "decorating." The architecture should be the only art needed; you shouldn't have to add a bunch of fluff to make something beautiful. So you can imagine that, when I was inspired by my buddy Marie to add curtains to our guestrooms, it took some negotiating. I carefully, clearly stated my case with back-up from Pinterest images and, happily, Scott chose to trust me.
The recipe for elegant curtains is pretty simple:  canvas dropcloths from Home Depot, thread, and pretty trim. Because I wanted to hang the curtains high on the wall and have them touch the floor, the finished panels needed to be 90-inches long. These 6 ft. x 9 ft. dropcloths fit the bill and were only $10.98 each. I purchased one dropcloth for each of the six windows in the two rooms. (There was actual math involved...not my strongest subject but I triple checked everything.)
Having all of the leaves in the dining table was helpful. After running each dropcloth through the laundry (you wouldn't believe the lint they shed), all I had to do was cut each in half lengthwise.
You can imagine the amount of measuring, cutting, folding and ironing before it was finally time to sew hems on the raw edges.
You know you haven't used your sewing machine in a while when you have to take the Windex and a paper towel to it and wipe off all the grime. But once I got it threaded, it ran like a champ. It took me several hours Friday evening and a few hours Saturday morning to create all 12 panels.
The final step was to add the trim. I found this charcoal gray woven braid for only $1.11 per yard at Hobby Lobby. I placed it about 14-inches down from the top of the panel, and adhered it with a layer of iron-on Stitch Witchery.
When it was finally time to begin hanging the curtains in the big guestroom, it was an all-family event. Can you spot all three kitties in this photo? They were such good helpers (as you can imagine.)
Scott took charge of installing the rods. I selected simple, telescoping cafe rods from Target. We decided to place the outer edge of the rod 13 inches from the outside edge of the wood trim. The goal was to cover as little of the woodwork as possible while still allowing full coverage of the window, as needed.
The first window was a bit of a challenge but we got it figured out pretty quickly and the remaining windows were done in a snap (if snaps last four hours on a Saturday night, that is.)
Detail view of the fabric and trim textures. I really am impressed with the final appearance plus the weight of the canvas lets the curtains drape beautifully.
The clips are one of the best elements! I found them on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby for $2.50/12 marked down from $14.99. Quite a bargain - in fact, all 6 windows were covered for less than $200!
We're really happy with the final result! The windows look larger and the rooms are much more cozy. Can curtains in the master bedroom be next? One can dream...
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

NW Landscaping Begins with Free Bricks

When my co-worker Jake asked me if I wanted a stack of pavers he pulled out of his yard, I said, "heck yeah!" Who would turn down free pavers when you've got 10 acres of landscaping projects waiting for inspiration? A couple of weeks ago, we drove out to Millard and picked up about 120 concrete brick pavers. Thanks, Jake!

With all the trouble we've had near the northwest stoop, that area was the first to tackle. Saturday morning was sunny and cooler - but very humid. Still, Scott was ready to get another load of top soil on the "sunken" area (see post from last week) and tidy up the area with a nice brick border. 
The garden wagon makes a great Ranger trailer. It took two loads to move the bricks from the driveway to the backyard.
Before the fun landscaping could begin, Scott once again perforated the area then dumped another load of topsoil on top. Yes, I helped shovel again this week.
He sketched out the curve of the new brick border, then dug out a sloped trench to contain the pavers.
Poor Scotty - working so hard that sweat seeped out of his leather gloves. A little of this summer heat goes a long way!
Ta Da!
The first little portion of our northwest stoop-area landscaping project. This now-mulched area near the electrical service is a good spot to keep the garden hose and sprinkler collection. We have several pavers left over, a plan of attack, and a four-day weekend looming. You'll need to...
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Garden Update!

It's not really a miracle but I'm constantly surprised that this is actually working! Somehow I figured the garden would fail and we would have done all of this construction for naught. But, guess what - if you plant something in good soil with enough sunshine and water to make it happy, it will grow!
Dad Camp stopped by Saturday to check in on his beds, adding a little bug spray and a little fertilizer.
This is the bed Scott and I planted with seeds. The decorative gourds and green beans are coming along but the spinach is a bit of a bust. We may have planted it too late. My herbs, however, are ready to trim, dice and eat!

Side note:  see that bird bath base in the back corner? Scott uncovered it in the culvert ditch along the driveway and I decided we needed to haul it to the garden. It's now a cool piece of "found art."
Scott is quite pleased with his peppers. Four of the six plants now have little baby peppers set-on.
We can't wait to chomp these 'maters! I was worried that 15 plants might have been overkill but now I'm worried that we'll run out before I get sick of eating them. Mama Marita and I have been dreaming of caprese salad.

Good job, Scotty & Dad!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Friday Surprise = Saturday Work (AGAIN!)

For the second consecutive Friday, we've come home from work to find a disaster in the yard. Last week, you may remember, we had to clear away a huge branch that fell on the driveway. This week, we got to deal with a sinkhole! 

That's right.  noTTafarm is sinking!

A patch about 6 ft. square adjacent to the northwest stoop just dropped about 8 inches. Apparently, when the dirt work was done following the construction of the new basement, some pockets of air were left behind. When the air pockets finally "burped", the surrounding dirt collapsed.
The back corner looked the worse. We had to clear away Scott's new pine mulch before we could start digging. Plus - of course - it was about a 150 degrees and 110% humidity when we started working on Saturday morning.
The most troublesome thing is these exposed wires. The shifting of the dirt caused the PVC enclosure protecting them to separate. We will need to have an electrician make this repair (Scott thinks these wires supply electricity to the barn.)
Before we moved two Ranger-loads of dirt from our seemingly-never-ending pile of topsoil, Scott perforated the area with the spade. The dirt was so spongy - it was like walking on a pan of brownies that weren't quite done in the middle (delicious maybe, but not award-winning.)
As mentioned, two Rangers-full of dirt were moved. After each load, Scott smoothed the area with a rake then we both hopped up and down on it to pack it down. We may have looked a bit ridiculous but at least we found something that I can help with:  using my weight to smoosh down dirt.
We're going to let this sit and dry out for a few days then see if it feels more solid. Fingers crossed that I don't have to shovel and hop again this week!

What tragedy will befall noTTafarm this Friday? 
There's only one way to find out . . . 
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Paint Provides Patio Pick-Me-Up

In an effort to step-up my outdoor entertaining game, I've been thinking of things to enhance the style of our south patio. The challenge begins with our two tables and a total of 10 chairs, purchased about six years apart. Since they're similar in style and color, I figured they would work well together - and they did for the first few years. But this spring, I came up with the great idea of spray painting all of the pieces so they would look more similar. Lucky for me, Scott agreed to help. Yay, Scotty! Even though today was another 98-degrees-and-humid kinda day, we got the majority of the project done. Check it out!
The first step was giving all of the pieces a good scrubbing with steel wool and soapy water. Bibbers braved the hot concrete to assist (as always.)
After bathtime, Scott took the pieces to the shady yard north of the house (where it was cooler and less windy.) He used a piece of rigid insulation as a flat painting platform.
The paint we chose is Rust-oleum High Performance Enamel in Dark Machine Grey. We started out with 5 cans but it was pretty obvious that Kristin would be driving back to Home Depot for 4 more cans later in the afternoon (and will need to pick up 3 more cans tomorrow.)
Look at that steely determination. He's a pro! 
Once the two tables were done, Scott began working on the chairs - still with a smile! I convinced him later in the afternoon to give my painting skills a try. I started out pretty strong but by the time it was done, it was pretty obvious why he preferred being the main painter. I did fulfill the role of Chief Cheerleader so at least I kept him company.
Here's a good comparison of old vs. new. We are really happy with the new color. I think its much more elegant and modern. I purchased new dark orange cushions that will really pop against the grey.
We still have two chairs left to paint and then will do any necessary touch-up. I'll post a photo when everything is in place. Overall, a successful project!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Friday Surprise = Saturday Work

Upon arriving home after work Friday (June 10) afternoon, I couldn't help but notice a GINORMOUS branch clogging the driveway. One of the Osage orange trees along the driveway chose Friday to drop one of its limbs. Since I had an evening out planned with Amy and Marie (XOBC), the cleanup had to wait until Saturday. Scott did take the Ranger out later Friday to pull the limb out of the driveway.
"Clean Up ~ Aisle One"
 A close-up view of the branch's former home.
It's worth noting (especially for you out-of-town readers) that Omaha is suffering from a pre-Summer heatwave. The high on Saturday was 98. We began working on limb clean-up around 10 and had it done by about 12:30. We took two trailer-loads of branches to the east burn pile and one trailer-load of firewood-sized chunks to the pile in the north yard. By the time we were done, we were exhausted (and terribly sweaty and just all around beat-up.) No wonder we both took hour-long naps after lunch!
The amount of rot inside the limb was pretty obvious. That whole group of trees is probably going to need to be taken down soon; there are quite a few similarly dangerous-looking branches still "up" but who knows for how long. Life at noTTafarm is FULL of danger!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Memorial Day Burnin'

Knowing that my dad and big brother would be in town for Clark's graduation was all the prompting Scott needed to procure a Burn Permit. It was time to eliminate the big ol' pile of cedars at the bottom of the west slope. Since I was busy going to church like a good kid Sunday morning, Dad took some photos for me.
All the cedar branches we trimmed off to make the garden fence posts went "poof" pretty quick with the help of a little lighter fluid.
Since the fire was already going, Scott couldn't resist finding some more stuff to toss in it. This dead tree had been laying here long enough for the little seedling trees to grow up around it. Scott trimmed a few away...
...then used the wench and the Ranger to pull it out and drag it to the burn pile.
Big brother, Mark, helped keep a watchful eye. 
By the end of the day, the large pile had been reduced to a small pile - and the fire had taken out a little green grass along the way. Another successful day of burning complete!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!