Friday, July 18, 2014

July update

The wrap around deck has been started.  The girls are going to know an awful lot about construction by the time this is all over with! 


They really hustled to get some boards on the deck for the 4th of July.  They aren't nailed down, just set in place for now.


This next picture was taken as they're assembling some outdoor tables and chairs with less than a couple of hours before our company was due for the bbq and fireworks. 


Everyone was exhausted that evening but it didn't stop us from having a lot of fun.  We also celebrated Gracie's 13th birthday on the 4th and somehow she managed to squeeze in a few extra minutes to decorate her own cake.


We enjoyed a visit from our Italian daughter, Madi'soni.


We all enjoyed the fireworks display put on by Isaiah and Tanner and were thankful they didn't seem to mind entertaining a bunch of zombies.


Since then, Jeff and his good friend, JJ, have been working on the addition a couple of days a week.


They got two of the walls up last night which is so exciting.
The double windows will become the opening into the new part of the house.
I can't wait!






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

DIY Stucco Sprayer

Things are moving along slowly but surely around here with lots of interruptions.  For example, a while back we got tired of having chickens running loose all over the place pooping everywhere so we fenced them in. Then we decided we still wanted them "foraging" for some of their own food so Jeff took a break from the house to build a mobile chicken coop. We also wanted them in their new, easier to clean coop before bird mite season starts which was a battle we had to fight last summer.  Awful!


It took way longer than expected which you kind of expect, but still.


He even gave them a really cool watering system.


The chickens are now happily in their new mobile (pronounced with a long i) home and we're back to working on the house.


The foundation was a pretty big undertaking since the house was already built on piers.  Why the switch from piers to block foundation?  It gets pretty cold in Missouri in the winter.  The piers were originally a quick and cheap way to get the house done enough to live in but we're pretty excited to be on a regular foundation.


We had to dig out around the piers, pour a concrete footer, stack blocks on the footer, then raise the house a few inches on a bunch jacks to get the top layer in there.

We dry stacked the blocks and at this very minute Jeff and the girls are finishing coating them with some kind of stucco that's supposed to result in an overall stronger wall than blocks set with mortar.  To make the stuccoing go easier and quicker Jeff made a homemade stucco sprayer that works extremely well.  So well that he requested I write this post.  I think he should be writing this post because this kind of thing is not my area of expertise but he's a little busy right now so I guess I'll wing it.


He used a garden hose sprayer attached to an air compressor thingy on one end and the other end has some kinda plumbing pipe with a bend (elbow?) for ergonomics.  The pipe slides into the scoop made out of a piece of air conditioning duct with a handle made from an old broken shovel and it (the pipe) has a little bitty garden hose sprayer shoved into it.


The scoop has a hole in it for the stucco to spray out of (which he made smaller than pictured here (down to a 1/2")) and it sprays the perfect amount on the wall.


He scoops up the stucco mixture, squeezes the handle and it all spits out the hole in the scoop like so.


The girls follow up the spraying by smoothing it out with hand trowels while Evelyn inspects their work.  The whole process is surprisingly quick and smooth.


the end

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eggs. Glorious eggs...

Jeff has been steadily working to switch us out from a pier foundation to a normal concrete foundation.  It's been a tough and dirty job but we're getting close to having it done.


My parents come out to help too because what could possibly be more fun to do with your retirement than exhausting yourself helping your kids build a house for what feels like the umpteen millionth time.

Honestly they've put more sweat equity into my homes than I have and even this time around and lately I've been helping less and less because it turns out that someone still has to cook for all these people and do their mounds of dirty laundry.  When I ask the kids if they want to work on inside chores or work outside with their daddy they all always pick outside so I get stuck doing everyone's inside work which I honestly prefer anyway.


After they finished pouring the concrete footer they also poured a small pad for the stairs that will come off the deck that, Lord willing, we'll start once the foundation is finished.  We used concrete stamps to give it a stone texture.


Isaiah's demonstrating what he's been doing all day which is basically holding an impact gun over his head to take out hundreds of screws to remove sheets of wood under the house.  I know from when Jeff and I put that wood up a few years ago that the impact gun gets heavier and heavier as the day goes on but Isaiah kept up the pace from start to finish with no complaints and even had energy to spare when the day was done.

I could use some of that energy.


While Jeff and the kids we're working in the dirt under the house I washed about 20 dozen eggs.  We've recently fenced in our chickens so we're getting all the eggs they lay, whereas, when they were completely free range they'd often lay eggs outside the coop in places we couldn't find before the dogs would sniff them out for a snack.  It turns out that we probably have more chickens than we really need.


We more or less will be paying my parents for their help in eggs.  Who could pass up a deal like that, right?  Anyone else want to come work for eggs?


Our smallest and cutest ever egg.   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our low budget kitchen

I'm finally adding photos of our kitchen which we've been enjoying for several months now.  We'll do the trim, floors, and ceilings last so it will stay "almost done" for a while still.


We didn't change any of our appliances.  They're all still mismatched but working just fine so I can't bear to spend the money on that right now, if ever.


Jeff keeps asking me if I'm ready to get a new stove to the point that I'm starting to wonder if he doesn't like it as much as I do.  The burners don't have a truly medium heat setting and it bakes a bit unevenly but that's fine by me since I'm far from the best cook and when things don't turn out that great I can just blame it on the stove.


We bought our cabinets and  granite counters, which only come in six foot lengths, from a discount building supply store and it saved us a bundle.  Jeff also set every tile himself rather than buying the tiles in sheets.  It took a little longer but would have cost so much more otherwise.


Jeff experimented with the under-mount lighting using discs on the right side of the cabinets and went through a huge amount of trouble to hide the cords.  Then we decided to use a bar light under the open shelves and he's not happy with it so we just left the cord till we get around to switching it out to the disc style lights.  It's been so long since I've been able to see very well while working at the kitchen counters that I forgot just how nice it is to have good lighting, dangling cord and all.

So, we started with appliances which are all second hand (super-duper cheap or free) and then built the kitchen from the ground up for under $3,000.   Not as cheap as the kitchen set up we had before but I'm so thankful to have it!


And these flowers have nothing to do with our kitchen but I've recently discovered how much I love having living plants in the house even if I know they'll most likely be dead in a few months.  These cyclamen have such unique and colorful blossoms, only cost around $3.00 and they'll far outlast any fresh bouquet...although I still love fresh bouquets from time to time too.