What’s next

Now that things are winding down on the house, what am I going to do with all that free time? There are still things that need to be done at the other house but we are going to work mostly on the weekends finishing those projects. So that opens up a whole lot of time for me. I definitely need to paint some of the furniture I’ve stock-piled and pay some attention to my booth. It has been sadly neglected for way too long. There are also many, many unfinished projects in our house that need some love. I have gained a whole new level of confidence after all the work I’ve done at Elliott so I am more than ready to start gutting our bathroom and kitchen, two long over due projects that I have wanted done forever. I think Dan would say I need to wait until loads of money magically appear before those two projects can be started. But that’s OK I have several projects that are only 1/2 done that need to be finished first.

But our immediate, as in right this very moment, plan is for our first ever trip out of the state together without the kids. We have travelled LOTS with the kids and LOTS separately, but strangely never together without the kids. Dan had a continuing ed/ financial seminar that he could go to at the Opryland Resort so I decided to join him for a long weekend.

I was expecting a very lush, extravagant room after hearing stories of previous trips he went on without me. And the lobby/ atrium/ grounds did not disappoint but sadly when we got into our room it was just a typical boring room with no balcony overlooking all the lush gardens. I was so disappointed! When we walked over to the convention center to get Dan registered we struck up a conversation with another family that was here for the conference. They mentioned that they upgraded their room so the could get a balcony room. Duh! why didn’t we think of that? While Dan was at the opening talk I went back to the room called guest services and asked if I could get that upgrade, yes there was one balcony room left! So the bellhop came up to the room and helped me get all settled in our new room. And here is our new view from our balcony:



And these are just a few pictures from around the atrium, well one of the atriums. This place is massive! We walked for about an hour last night trying to decide where to eat dinner. Of course, we kept getting lost and that added to the walking. I think the wine I had just drank didn’t help with us getting lost so much either.


All the waterfalls are so loud it kinda sounds like our room when we stay at the ocean. This morning when the doors were opened I could sit in bed drinking my baileys and coffee and pretend that we were in Emerald Isle. Sadly this trip has no fishing for Dan.


And this is where I’m heading in about an hour, for my pedicure and facial. Yes, while Dan is sitting through several hours of financial talks I will be having a leisurely day at the spa! I’m really wondering why I didn’t join him for these conferences in the past?


I think I’m going to really enjoy being done with that full time job I had for the past 4 months!


We have a new family member, well actually we have about 10,000 new family members. (Hmm wonder if we can claim that on our taxes?) We now have a bee hive, right smack in the middle of our garden. Dan thought our past dismal tomato crops were due to lack of pollination so he decided to get a hive. Well I’m sure much more thought and preparation went into it but from what I saw we just all of a sudden got a hive.

Last week made the early morning trek over to Conrad Hive and Honey in Canal Winchester to pick up his 3 pounds of bees with queen. Our bees had just been driven in along with a truck full of bees from southern Georgia.

This is what 3 pounds of bees look likeIMG_3488

BJ is not too excited about the addition of bees to our yard. He keeps reminding me that he is allergic.


Here’s our friend Tim, who has a few of his own hives, helping us get the hive set up.Thomas is all geared up and ready to go.


This is what hive looks like, you just keep stacking these layers on top of each other as needed. We’ll be starting with just 2 levels but can add more as the bees fill it up.


The bees have been released. They’re slowly making there way into the hive. The queen is in her own little box and she has already been placed in the hive. The bees work to release the queen from her box by eating through a plug of sugar candy. If she is just released into their midst before they are used to her they will kill her and the hive will die.


About 4 days later Dan is opening up the hive to check on the queen and see if she has been released.


That’s the queens box that he is pulling out of the hive.


The queen is still in her box, since the bees had not released her yet, Dan will pull the plug out and put her box back in the hive so she can make her new home.


Once the queen and her box has been replaced Dan closes up the hive.


But the next day we were worried because there was no bee activity outside the hive so I did just a tiny peek into the hive to make sure all our bees hadn’t flown the coop. Dan publicly accused me on Facebook of single-handedly destroying the hive and scarring away the queen. But no worries he is just an alarmist and the hive is buzzing happily.

I wasn’t sure about having a hive right in the middle of our, not so big, garden but I really like having the bees back there and you hardly even notice them.

What’s Dan been up to

He’s been spending all his free time trying to get this renovation done. There is just not enough time in the weekend for him to finish the house, plant all the seeds for our garden and fish! Poor Dan all he ever does is work, work, work.

This weekend he got our new back door installed. I’m really excited about having the glass door in the back of the office. Once the back porch is cleaned off and not a staging area for all the construction stuff it will be really nice to look outside and see the back yard.


First he had to remove the existing window and raise the header.


Then he had to frame in the spot for  the new door. And Finally he had to build a new doorjamb and install both the jamb and the door. It’s way more work to install a door than one would think.


Boy the office is bright with that huge hole in the wall. Of course today was cold outside since there was a big hole in the wall all day.


That’s a very fancy lock system we have going across the door.


Watch your step!

Be very careful if you come to visit us in the near future and you probably don’t want to bring any small children. The floor is coming up and it makes for an unsteady walking experience.


Really if you were to walk in the front door you would end up in the basement.


And it’s very challenging to get in and out of my bedroom. The boys have no problems just walking on the joist’s but if I want to try and get across I just can’t. Even when the plywood is down I have to hold on the something because it feel like I might just fall through.


No worries though Dan didn’t leave everything in this complete state of destruction. He put down plywood and covered up enough of the holes that I can kinda walk around without worrying too much.

Making Owls

Our house has been over taken by OWLS! Some are pretty owls…


And some are kind of crazy owls… We joke that they are actually Honey Badgers. We are so immature, we just can’t quit watching this YouTube video of the Honey Badger.


The owls have been sent around the country as Xmas gifts, these 2 went to my niece and nephew in Seattle. Isabella requested one made by me with very specific colors, BJ just wanted Dan to make his.


and they’ve been added to a Xmas quilt… I made this quilt for my mom.


Thomas contributed this owl to his G-ma’s quilt


Hmm I wonder who made this “owl”


Even Daniel got into the fun of making owls. Actually a few people that came by our house in Dec. made an owl. My friend Michele, our neighbor Victoria and of course; Daniel, Thomas, Dan and me.



Daniel made his owl tall, skinny and goofy just like him. He also packed it with lots of rice so he could throw it at his girl-friend, watch out Megan!


Dan and I spent every evening for a few weeks working on owls. It was our stress de-compressor through the holidays. It also prevented us from getting anything done on the renovation!IMG_5267IMG_5269IMG_5273IMG_5288

This was my favorite owl, it lasted for 1 whole day before it was given by Beth as a last minute Xmas gift.


Replacing a header…

When you take down all the walls you get to see what lies underneath. Which means you get to see that the header that is holding up the 2nd story of your house is bowing slightly. The big question is do you take the time to replace it (Dan says YES!) or do you just cover it back up and not worry about it (Sheila says YES, but what do I know?) What I do know is that the idea of taking it down and the possibility of the house collapsing kind of scares me!

First things first, you need to start hammering in new supports several days ahead of time so over the course of a week you can slowly raise the cross beams just enough so you can remove the old header.


Then you set up some type of pulley system so you and your 14 year old son can drop a header that ways several hundred pounds. Finally you start removing the studs that are holding it up. You also instruct said 14yp on the proper way to hold the ropes of the pulley system. Do NOT wrap ropes around any part of your body.



While I am taking pictures the whole time this is going on I am like a mother hen predicting dooms day. I was not comfortable with this at all!


Change of plans, Dan will hold header while Thomas removes a stud, it could start to drop any time now.


The first side has been freed, we’re expecting big things to happen. Surely the header will start to fall, any second now…


Hmm there is nothing holding this up why is it not moving?


OK maybe if we cut some of those nails, things will start to move.


Or if we get a pry bar and start prying the thing apart


Well its moved a little bit but it’s certainly not dropping on its own, who knew?


Switching things up again, Dan will hold it while Thomas pries it apart.


There we go, now it’s starting to drop.


And down she goes, slowly, slowly. No big dramatic drops here. I guess that pulley system did really work.


Man Dan is holding the ropes and the beam all at the same time, maybe I should put the camera down and help.


It really doesn’t look that heavy from this picture (side note when it was finally lying down on the floor, I couldn’t even slide it over an inch.)


Old header down and the new one is going up. Hey who’s holding the ropes? I thought maybe I finally jumped in to help but if I’m holding the ropes how would I be taking the pictures? Hmm not sure, but I did actually help a bit with this part.


And since things never go as easily as they should… We couldn’t quite get that side to lift all the way up, it was getting caught up on a piece of wood.


This process took quite a lot of time and lots of pounding. Both Thomas and Dan used a sledge hammer to try and pound this into place. BTW it is not easy work to pound a sledge hammer; upwards, over your head, over and over again!


Hold it Thomas, don’t let it fall!


Hey, there I am! Back to pounding supports yet again, this time to try and raise the header so it’s level. (At this point Dan started worrying that he was doing some type of irreparable damage to the foundation of the house. When the one person that is confident that what we’re doing is safe and secure, starts to worry, its not a good thing!)


We finally got the header raised and level, then Dan placed several 2X4’s on each side to hold it up and screwed it into place. At which point it occurred to him that it looks crooked,  not perfectly centered. After a quick measuring it was off by 2 inches on one side, so he had to unscrew everything and hit it over a couple inches. This entire project took all day to finish!

But it is finally done, level, centered, and cleaned up with no damage to any other part of the house!

We could NOT have done all this without Thomas’ help! He has been such a huge part of this renovation. I hope he is learning all the skills he’ll need to take care of his own house when he grows up.


Next job, insulating!

a slow (but exciting) weekend

We didn’t get anything done on the renovation this weekend. Dan and Thomas spent Saturday at a kids hunting event, skeet shooting, bow and arrow shooting and finally pheasant hunting. Thomas fired 3 shots but did not kill any poor birds. On Friday, however, Dan went pheasant hunting with a friend and did kill 3 birds. He brought them home for him and Thomas to skin and clean in the back yard. I’m not so sure I like this new hobby of there’s.

Then on Sunday we needed to get the yard cleaned up for winter. All the pots that were still sitting around needed to be put away in the lean-to. And the pond needed to be drained and dismantled. In the midst of cleaning things up Dan decided to pull out all of his stored wood from underneath the shed to see what he could use during the renovation. He got about 1/2 of it pulled out when something alive dropped down on his head. Let me back up and explain that to get underneath the shed you have to shimmy on your belly, so there is not a quick or easy way to escape. While I did miss seeing Dan reverse shimmy in high speed. I did hear enough commotion that I had to go outside to see what was happening.

After Thomas helped brush off Dan and Dan finished cussing and jumping around, they got flash lights and headed back to the shed to see what it was that attacked Dan.

And here’s what they found…a helpless, scared and huge possum! Look at how cool the ear is.



Dan then attempted to prod it out…


but that didn’t work.


Then they had the brilliant idea to go get our neighbor, Matt, along with his new paintball gun. They figured if they shot the paintball near the possum it would scare it out. Maybe if the possum just saw how crazy Matt looked it would have ran in fear.


No one wanted to be too near the opening/exit to the shed when the possum came running out.


But the possum hid, and not surprisingly did not run out while being shot at.


Then Dan went into full commando mode, shooting indiscriminately underneath the shed. His own form of “shock and awe.” But the poor possum just kept safe in its bunker and did not give up it’s new winter home.


In the end Dan gave up and the possum won this battle. Dan could not pull the rest of the wood out from underneath the shed and had to leave the possum to his new home. I believe step 2 will entail setting a trap.

Possibly this is Karma for killing those pretty pheasant on Friday.

The neighbor’s fir tree

You might remember me writing about the neighbors tree that broke in half during the wind storm. Well it is finally time for the remaining tree to be removed. Here’s is the tree removal company parked in front of our house. They were her for about 9 very noisy hours cutting and chipping.


Dan wanted me to ask the guys if they would bring over some of the logs for firewood. And also if they would give him a 6 foot length of the trunk that he could turn into a bench. They were nice enough to use a dolly to wheel over the very large pieces of wood. I did count the rings on the tree and it was 45 years old. To bad it was growing in such an inhospitable spot for such a big tree.IMG_3402

That 6 foot piece needed to be brought in by crane


and it had to go over the electric lines. IMG_3422

That was really high and kind of scary as it was swinging around.IMG_3423

Down it comes to join the rest of the logs in my front yard. One has to wonder if it took a crane to put it there how will it ever be moved?


The tree guys said they would give me their card so that in 6 months when those logs were still sitting in my yard I could call them to come haul them away. Hey, how do they know us?

The Yeti cooler

What is a Yeti cooler some of you may ask, just the KING of all coolers if you ask Dan. Of course, no one that was at our 4th of July party will be asking that question after seeing the signs that were placed on our non-Yeti coolers:

This cooler is not Grizzly proof. Studies have shown that items stored in this cooler are susceptible to attack by Grizzly Bears.

No fear the Yeti has arrived, holy cow that is a big box!


Dan is just beside himself with excitement. He’s jumping around the house and yelling like a kid on Christmas morning.


Oh thank goodness it is officially Certified Bear Resistant by the International Grizzly Bear Committee. Wait is that a real thing, the International Grizzly Bear Committee???

YETI® Tundra™ meets Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) standards for bear-resistant containers. They have been thoroughly tested in both controlled bear simulations and with wild grizzly bears. With locks in the integrated padlock ports, on two corners of a YETI®, grizzlies get nothing but frustrated.


Yes, it is actually big enough for Dan to fit in, sadly we can not close the lid so Grizzly’s could still get him.IMG_3371

Thomas on the other hand is almost safe from Grizzly attacks!


Happy Fathers Day and Happy Birthday and for that price Merry Christmas too!


You may be wondering where are all the pictures of the boys from our trip to Seattle? Well here they are out on G-pa Larry’s boat crabbing. Big Larry, Dan, BJ, Thomas and Daniel all went out to catch us a crab feast.

Here’s BJ putting the bait in the traps. They bait them then drop them all in the water. After eating lunch on the boat they go back around to see what they’ve caught.


This one looks pretty full. You have to use those red things to make sure the crabs are big enough. If not, back into the sound they go. Since there were 5 people on the boat they were allowed to keep 25 crabs.


I think its funny how Daniel is all bundled up in many layers of clothing plus the big heavy coat and then there’s BJ in just a flannel. The weather’s so different than just a few weeks ago deep sea fishing in North Carolina, there you have to worry about getting sunburnt and being too hot.


BJ is an old pro at this, Daniel on the other hand looks much more hesitant about holding the crabs (notice the tongs.)


Why does Dan always catch the smallest creatures?


Looks like the boys have gotten over their fear of the crabs for a photo.


Finally Dan with something a little bigger.


They caught their limit so a crab feast it will be!


Since Shauna’s husband Chef Larry is in Alaska cooking on a private yacht Dan had to take over the cooking. We’re on Judy and Larry’s deck which is set all up for just these type of feasts. It’s a regular thing for them to go crabbing.


Look at the table all nice and clean waiting for the feast.


And this is what it looks like after all the crabs have been cooked.


The view of Lake Washington from Judy and Larry’s deck. One of the reasons I miss living there.


We’re much cleaner eaters at the girls table, that’s mom, G-ma Judy and Shauna.


We missed Little Larry at our crab feast but it was still a wonderful time with family!