Monday, April 6, 2015

Spending Time Outdoors

When I was a child I lived outside. Okay, not really. We had a home. But almost every waking moment of my childhood was spent outside, playing in the wooded area behind our house, stomping in the creek, making mud pies, riding my bike... but once I hit late middle school those days of being outside all-the-livelong-day grew lesser and lesser. I pretty much went outside when I was forced to go outside for PE and I walked home from school but then spent most time inside, working on homework, watching TV, cleaning or cooking, listening to music, writing, talking on the phone. Ya know, typical pre-teen and teen stuff.

I miss those days of spending time outdoors. I have always loved it, even if I grew away from it for a period of time. Now that the kids are older I'm really trying to get out there with them as much as possible. We have been focused on the outdoor space and how to make it more functional for a family wanting to be in the sun and fresh air (well as fresh as it gets in an urban setting).

About two years ago Daniel bought the stuff to make our own clothesline. Guess who finally got a clotheline TWO years later?! That would be me. I kept insisting that I'd help him make it and we finally got serious about it. It helps me get outside, we are saving energy and hopefully that means a lower utility bill.

It was a process that took several days due to the weather. During one particularly freezing cold day we cut all the wood and dry-fitted it so it'd be ready-to-go when we were able to do the Kwik-Crete (fast drying concrete) as it requires no rain and no extreme cold temps in order to cure properly.

The hole digging has begun! We had to dig about two feet into the ground for each post. The kids all took turns jumping it. It was a much warmer day, great for pouring the concrete.

The posts were set. Put the post in the ground, add a little water, then add the dry concrete, add the rest of the water and use a long stick to kind of help work that water down into all the dry concrete. You can see the notch we had cut out at the top. The beam that would lay across it, forming the T-shape, also had a notch so they fit together and would be bolted together. We had to wait a few days for the concrete, and our schedules to meet up, before bolting those beams together and finishing up the clothesline.

Here's her first test run! We still needed to add the third line and the support beams to the post in the far back. And Daniel tightened the line on the far right already as it was loose (the center one is actually perfect). But you get the idea here. I may paint it. The wood is pretty rough after sitting outside for the past two years, ha ha. The overall look of our clothesline is actually really rough up-close but we made it ourselves and that's pretty darn cool. I'm proud of us! Ignore all that stuff in the far back; that is stuff from neighboring yards and I am hoping we may have enough to finish this side of the yard with privacy fencing (the other side of our yard was done with privacy fencing by previous owners, as shown in above pic, but the side shown below is just chainlink).

I may have Daniel add a fourth and fifth line as the beam is wide enough to accommodate them. This momma does a whole lotta laundry. All those clothes were only half of a load; I ran out of space and clothespins!


Our outdoor adventures don't end here. We've been fixing up the actual house's exterior too! We have a post Victorian house, built in 1909. We bought the house in 2006, almost 9 years ago. We haven't done anything to the house's exterior in that entire time. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see the house prettied up with fresh paint.

Here is a BEFORE. We have contractors working on replacing old, rotting wood at the moment. They're almost done. Then they'll replace any missing or loose shake shingles and they are giving us a quote for paint. The stone will be power-washed and left as-is (it's gray and washing will help clean it up). All the siding will be Sherwin William's "Cloudburst" (medium teal color) and all the brown trim and gutters will be Sherwin William's "Alabaster" (a white). We will also add shutters around the two windows on the second floor to help give it more curb appeal and charm.

I will also plant some low bushes on the left side of the porch where you see nothing planted (wanted to get work done before putting in new plants). So... I will hopefully be posting an AFTER not too long from now.

Other projects we are working on:
-Building a closet unit in the master.
-Painting and new light fixture in master.
-Building a recessed bookcase in the master.
-Painting ceilings in rooms that got leaks (from the exterior that is now fixed, woo hoo).
-Gutting and redoing entire kitchen.
-Replacing walls in den and possibly carpeting.
-Overhaul of second floor bathroom.

Next up will most likely be our second floor bathroom as we'd like to have it done before baby, in case I give birth upstairs, as I did with Silas. Our logic being that if we need to fill the birth tub up there we need to be able to also drain it up there and our toilet is shot to you-know-where (they drain the birth tub into the toilet with a hose). We don't want to replace the toilet now and then have to remove it when we lay down the new floor. We kind of just want to take everything out at once, finish painting, lay the floor, re-glaze the clawfoot tub and put in the new toilet. So this is like Renovation Realities people. Minus the TV crew ha! We are going to be doing this ourselves (and by "we" I mostly mean my husband). I do want to pay a professional to re-glaze the tub, though. That requires some heavy duty acids and chemicals that I don't want us messing with.

For our master bedroom, the room is dark. The light fixture is maybe from the 1940's but it's NOT attractive at all. Our room is so dark, one wall is cheap paneling (that I painted) and the plaster ceiling is starting to crack. We are eager to get the ceiling and the one paneled wall replaced, paint the entire room, put in a better light fixture, build a closet unit and turn the existing (and tiny) "closet" into a recessed bookcase. The existing closet is so so tiny it's useless as a closet and would make a better bookcase.

I will try to remember to take plenty of pictures to share the progress!

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