Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sidewalk Success!

A big thanks to my parents this week - we wouldn't have been able to finish all the concrete work without them! 

We worked hard to finish up the concrete forms this week.  Then I hauled about two tons of gravel to line the bottom of each form.  Here's what we ended up with for the sidewalk/steps and the basement slab.

We poured the concrete on Friday morning and it went quite well. 


We decided on an exposed aggregate which adds some steps after the pour is complete.  We still have a couple spots to touch up on the steps but we should be able to complete that this week.  

 We think it is a vast improvement from what we have been using for the last two years! 

Samantha really seems to like the new sidewalk too (please ignore her clothing - she likes to put on socks that she finds around the house).

One other thing I did this week...after over 6 years of Chris whining, I finally baked him a blueberry pie (I just had to post this for proof at a later date!).

And I'll end with a picture of Samantha stopping to smell the flowers.  Have a great week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hot and Muddy

In terms of house work this week, we didn't finish much.  It has been insanely hot and humid - you walk outside and immediately start sweating.  When we were willing to brave the weather, we worked on finishing up the concrete forms.  We normally have to wait until Samantha is napping or is down for the night.  It doesn't give us much uninterrupted time to work.  We will definitely be ready when the concrete arrives on Friday morning!

Samantha had a great time supervising a couple events.  On Monday, the gravel was delivered and since she loves rocks, she was in little girl heaven!  Later in the week, there was a concrete pour across the street. 


They have been adding yellow textured pads at all the handicapped entrances on all the sidewalks around here.  In a day and a half they broke up the concrete (with a backhoe style jackhammer), removed the debris, made the forms, and poured the concrete.  Granted, they had 7 guys working on it with no interruptions but it still made me feel inadequate.  It has taken us a couple weeks to just get through the first three steps!   

My parents are coming down so that they can help with the pour (and babysitting) on Friday.  Hopefully we'll have beautiful sidewalk/step pictures to show next week!

On Saturday, I participated in a women's mud run with my mom's running group.  We had a large crew from all over Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania (only 3 moms from my chapter).  It was so much fun.  The course was only 3 miles long but there were 16 obstacles throughout.  They ranged from crawling through mud, climbing a 15 foot high cargo net, to scaling an 8 foot wall. 

Chris and Samantha came to watch and had a good time too.  I'm sure it was fun to see all the craziness!  I forgot my camera that day so I need to wait for other people to send the "muddy" pictures!

On the way home from the run, we decided to stop to pick blueberries.  Samantha was an expert picker but every berry she picked ended up in her stomach.  She probably ate about a pound and a half of berries while we were there - at least there are a lot of antioxidants! 

We ended up with a little over 10 pounds of blueberries so I made two batches of blueberry jam.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any more small canning jars left so I had to use a few large (quart size) ones.  We'll be eating jam for a long time around here!

The only other events during the week were the normal ones - library, story time at the mall, play time, etc. 

Now I would like to share some of Samantha's new looks - she (unfortunately) gets her fashion sense from me.

She really enjoys putting on random socks she finds around the house...

A little too young to be a babushka...

I think Chris needs to start putting away his clothes...

That's all for this week - hopefully the sidewalk pictures we'll blow you away next time (we'll at least be happy to have a way into the front of the house again!)

Monday, July 15, 2013


Chris had some fun with the jackhammer again this weekend.  And by fun I mean absolutely none at all.  It was really hot and humid so he was not happy. 

This is what the steps looked like before the demolition.  The placement of them has always been a little weird right up against the house. 

We are also replacing the concrete pad outside the basement door.  It has definitely seen better days.  It also is sloped toward the house and it wasn't level.

Samantha made a great supervisor while Chris was breaking up and moving the old concrete.

Because Samantha has been very bad with naps, we didn't get very much accomplished on the form building.  We finally got to work on it after she went to bed for the night - it was late, dark, and there were a lot of mosquitoes. 

We were planning on pouring the concrete on Friday but the weather this week is going to be close to 100.  So now we're planning for the following week which allows us to take our time on the remainder of the forms. 

Samantha is down to one nap a day and it's not going well - she's not sleeping enough and she's exhausted.  Plus she is getting her canine teeth coming in so she's pretty miserable. 

Of course she has been keeping busy.  She finally started playing with her Mega Blocks.  Is she a future architect?

An artist?

She got a nice hairstyle from Daddy during a bath.

Our county library system was named number one in the country.  They threw a big celebration - complete with popsicles!  

Since it was so hot over the weekend, we took Samantha to the local pool and mini water park.  Samantha had a great time running around.  I'm sure we'll be back often!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

So much was accomplished this weekend.  We are getting ready to (finally) put in our new sidewalk and steps from the driveway to the front porch.  We spent some time digging out the area and making it deep enough to lay gravel and put in the forms for the concrete.

One project that we started and finished in about an hour and a half was putting shelves into the den closet.  This was just used for storage but it wasn't used very efficiently.  Now I can put a lot of my small appliances here and I won't have to run downstairs for them anymore.

On Saturday, I spent some quality time in the heat and humidity to seal the driveway.  Judging by the state of the driveway when we bought the house, we don't think it has ever been sealed.  It is a major improvement!

And one project that I started and failed to get very far was breaking up the concrete pad outside the basement door.  It is some tough stuff!  So instead, we're going to rent a jackhammer for a few hours and remove this and the front steps at the same time.  

I just want to share some fun Samantha photos from the week:

She had a great time playing in the "Patriotic Sensory Box" that we made with my mom's group this week.  She probably played with this for a couple hours throughout the day.

Someone is excited about fireworks!

She is starting to show more hoarding tendencies - this is just about everything from her play kitchen and some random toys (monkey, cow, tractor, etc.) all in her shopping cart.  

Looking stylish in her shades!

This girl loves her sweet corn on the cob!

 And one of her new favorite chores is watering the flowers.

Now back to the weekly grind...

Monday, July 1, 2013

DIY Play Kitchen

This is my first time posting a "How To" so bear with me!

I got a lot of comments on this play kitchen so I thought I would go into some of the detail that went into making it.  (Please excuse the picture quality - the lighting in the basement is not great for photos).

First off was selecting pieces of furniture that I could modify.  While I'm not opposed to starting from scratch, finding cast off furniture is a lot cheaper than buying all the materials new.

My parents had recently purchased a new refrigerator and it was taller than their old one.  The old "above the refrigerator" cabinet no longer fit and I asked if I could re-purpose it for the play kitchen.  Had I not been given this cabinet, I probably could have found one at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for pretty cheap.

I knew that I wanted to turn the cabinet into the sink and range.  I also knew that I wanted a refrigerator as part of the kitchen.  So I hit up craigslist to find an old TV stand.  It didn't take long to find the perfect one - and it was only $10!  So now I had my two major pieces to start with. 

The next step was to go shopping for some of the parts I would need to make it really look like a kitchen.  Besides the faucet (that my mom picked up for me at Construction Junction), I bought everything else on one shopping trip with Samantha.  I was impressed with my finds.

I started at the Goodwill store because I like finding good deals.  I bought the two baskets, "dish rack" and bowl for the sink there.  We also hit up Marshall's (dish towels), Michael's (burners (trophy plaques), oven knobs (wood discs), shelf material (thin plywood)), HomeGoods (oven rack), and Home Depot (handles, oven window (plexiglass), hooks, backsplash material (hardboard)).  Fortunately these are all in the same shopping center right in a row - I didn't even have to get back in the car between stores. 

Once I brought everything together, I laid it out to see how it was going to come together.  This really helped me to visualize how I was going to modify everything to make it work together. 

I was still missing some critical pieces (counter top, etc.) at this point but I knew it would come together in the end.  I disassembled everything and then started marking and cutting.  There was one night with a lot of sawdust while I cut apart the doors for the refrigerator, cut a hole for the oven window, cut out the top of the cabinet for the sink, cut shelf pieces, and cut pieces of square dowel to hold the shelves.

Most of the cutting was done with the miter saw (dowels), circular saw (doors, shelf material), and jigsaw (oven window, sink hole).  I'm just glad Chris watched Samantha while I was making all the noise and dust!

Once the dust settled (literally), I started to make measurements for the pieces I needed to attach.  The first challenge was how to divide the sink/range cabinet.  I used some square dowel attached to the front and back to hold a thin piece of plywood in place. I tried to take pictures of this but it's not easy to see - you'll just have to take my word!

The next step was installing multiple square dowel pieces to hold all the shelves in place.  I pre-drilled to avoid the dowels splitting and then used drywall screws to attach them.  I also used a small level to ensure that the shelves would be level when installed.

Once these first cuts were made and parts were installed, it was time to start painting.  I sanded everything well so that it would accept paint.  Then followed that with primer and paint.  Most of the paint I used was from the "Oops" paint section.  So I got two full gallons of paint for $12 (dark purple and white). 

Hardware was installed next - hinges, handles, etc.  I then made a "toe kick" out of some 2"x4" material.  This raised the whole kitchen off the floor enough to make it easier to use.

I was still without a counter top so I decided to use part of an old door we had lying around.  I made it large enough to add some "counter" space next to the stove.  I cut it to size and then cut out the holes for the sink and faucet.

It still needed a few finishing touches.  A piece of plexiglass was used in the oven door, the stove burners were attached, and the backsplash piece was attached.  The majority of the details were just painted or drawn on with the exception of the "window" which I drew in PowerPoint.   


I also wanted the knobs on the stove to turn so I used some round disks and some small pieces of dowel.  I used the Dremel to notch out an area on the dowel to go over the screw head and then just glued them onto the disks (after they were installed).

And what kitchen would be complete without a place to write down your store list.  I painted an area with chalkboard paint (and I will add a ledge for chalk when she gets old enough to be trusted with it!). 

The only thing left was to stock the kitchen with all the play food and equipment and let her play!

Samantha plays with this every day (for a long duration) so I consider this project a success!!