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Monday, September 12, 2016

Best 4 year old Party

If you love the outdoors, ranches, or horses, you will love this!

I am super behind on posting. While looking through my pictures, and my blog, I realized that I never posted about this party. It would be a HUGE shame not to share. So here I am, two years after the fact posting about it, but since the people who attended are still talking about it... here goes.
My daughter is nuts about horses. Still is. She loves going to the ranch and riding with me, AND wearing boots. The girl wears pink boots almost everyday. If fact I used her first toddler boots as center pieces, since they were so cute I hated to part with them.

I asked if I could have her birthday party at the ranch my mom's horses are at.  Given the go ahead we borrowed one of the ponies for horse rides, and my mom's draft horse, Duke, also got drafted for kiddy rides. Parents did sign wavers, and kids did wear helmets. I paid a couple of the teenage riders at the ranch for the help. They were awesome with the kids walking them around the arena.

All the kids got cowboy hats and bandanas.
The party was for brunch. So Bagels, fruit and eggs made a very simple food selection.

Horse Shoe Craft! Kids got Golden, or Silver, horse shoes to decorate to add their horse-ride picture to after the party.
I also had a table with a bunch of options for kids to make their own Trail Mix.
Duke is being good in the background.
No party is complete without CupCakes!

Table reimagined

I have a table, and it works. It just isn't as sturdy as I would like, especially with two kids and a husband who beats it up, hangs on it, puts all their weight on their elbows, etc. But with life going one, I just couldn't think of a valid argument in favor of purchasing another table.

Enter fate. My aunt recently took all her furniture out of storage. She wasn't interested in keeping the table because it didn't match her "new" kitchen and had a bunch of warped/damaged places on top. "You want it? Take it!" So another project was born.

What is funny is that I really had a HUGE list of projects already, but this item is too large to store in my husband's office so quickly made it to the top of my list. I got started much faster than I probably would have, but when the husband asked every day when (if) the table will ever get done, it is time to head over to Home Depot for the stain and some more sandpaper.
I chose a Black Cherry finish and used a gel stain so that it would be a faster process. I am very happy with the finished product! I just have to find a picture of my table!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"New" Patio

The before.
Dead tree and happy tree living in concrete wasteland.
 I have this nice large patio.
The only problems were:

  1. It was ugly.
  2. Its was concrete.
  3. It had cracks with termite eaten wood sticking out of them to trip over.
Termite eaten 2x4s 
These reasons made this space unusable as an entertainment space, a child play space or a garden.

We have lived here nearly eight years and I was done. It was time for it to go! 

A few factors pushed me to get this done all of the sudden: a neighbor who a bunch of wood ears that they never used offered it (YEA!) and we got a dog.

First step was to get rid of the concrete sea and the wood from the cracks. 

 At the back we decided to take out a large area of concrete to have a space for grass (the dog is happy!), a planter and a garden. I am so happy with the results of all this work.

The older pieces of wood were treated to strip and clean. This was a lot of work but very effective and inexpensive. I also cleaned the fencing separating us from our neighbor since he was not interested in replacing his fence. By cleaning and staining it, it matches the rest of our fencing and blends in.

At $2 a dog-eared wood piece, we saved about $200 by cleaning the old wood given to us. We still had to buy some new wood, but we reused as much as we were able to. There was one or two that were not able to be used.

Since my husband and brother were doing so well wielding the rented jack hammer, I also had them take out the concrete path that leads to the gate. While I just wanted concrete there anyway, the concrete puddled and was not set evenly to begin with. So I had to go look for pavers.

I was able to reuse the left over pavers from a project my mom did at her house. She had the front and back patio paved at her house and a bunch of leftovers! Some of the pavers were mismatched, but that is because she had many samples to look at and the salesmen never took their concrete away. Lucky me.

I did have to purchase a few pavers to finish the job, which made me very grateful for having the free pieces since the sticker price was a bit of a shock. The pavers were set down on top of the smoothed sand.

Lesson learned: even a few pavers are a pain in the butt, back, knees, etc. It is a serious job!
Half the fence is done!
Since I relied on the man-of-the-house to make the fence, I moved on to the patio once all the wood was stained ready and waiting to become fencing. I had decided to stain the concrete so it wouldn't be so Fugly.

First step was to power wash and scrub-clean the floor. Then I stained it was a mocha acid stain.
This process was surprisingly fast and easy! I decided to use a sponge and move it around by hand, rather than use a mop. The reason was, (1) the mop cost more than I was willing to spend, and (2) I thought I was more likely to get the look I was going for.

In the end, I could have kicked myself for not doing this sooner. It was SOOO easy and the results were amazing! When the fence came down resulting in no privacy, I was getting so many compliments from neighbors I had never met before. I was floored! Pun intended.

 I had brainstormed many different ways to fill the huge cracks between the concrete slabs. In the end, I decided on the simplest method. The pavers needed the polymeric sand to seal them as a walkway, so I used the same sand. 5 buckets later it looked fabulous!

Once the sand was in place and hardened, I went over the entire floor with a concrete sealer that I bought on Amazon (better reviews and price than Home Depot brand).
The last step was painting the pergola. I was advocating for white, but since I made all the design decisions in this project thus far, I let the husband choose the paint. He chose the chocolate brown and I have no complaints.
In the end, we bought some furniture and I love sitting out there in the morning with my coffee. So peaceful! My kids advocated for a bird feeder. The dog is very content to have his own space to chill when we are not home. I have my garden.

I now have an outdoor space that I can entertain in and isn't embarrassing! We are so happy with the results.