Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Round-Up

Can you believe it's September already? Honestly, I don't know what I love more, saying goodbye to summer or saying hello to fall. Even though the fall-like weather doesn't settle into Missouri for a few more weeks, the Minnesotan in me still considers September to be a fall month.

So, as I sit here, excitedly waiting for the temperatures to drop a bit, let's look back at the summer that was.

Summer Favorites

I started watching Holmes Inspection on Netflix this past spring and was instantly hooked. The wonderful thing about this show was that it was full of great information about houses. The premise is that people have bought houses and had inspections that missed major problems. The homeowners quickly find out that the house has these problems and they don't know what to do. Enter Mike Holmes, who goes through the house and does a proper inspection and then helps the homeowners to fix all the problems.

Soon after watching all the available episodes I discovered that Mike (I call him Mike now - as he is now my home advisor) had written several books about how houses work and renovating homes. I got this one - The Holmes Inspection - for myself and quickly devoured it. I learned so much about our house and how to make better choices moving forward. I only wish I had read this 2 summers ago when we were just starting to build our house. We would have done several things differently.

Summer Successes

Much like spring, this summer was all about the painting projects as we continued to work on painting the main living space. I chose a neutral color (beige) because I never, ever, ever want to paint this space again. I wanted the space to be warm and inviting but not have yellow undertones. Once we started painting it became obvious that the exact shade was very dynamic. It clearly has more red than yellow but, as the pictures show, the color looks very different depending on the light and the angle and the time of day it is being looked at. All these walls are the exact same color.

We were able to get one of our vaulted walls done before hubby started his summer class.

Not wanting to lose an entire 8 weeks while hubby learned all about statistics, I went ahead and tackled the wall of windows and the kitchen area. I figured I could handle this on my own since the wall height is only 9'.

The wall of windows didn't take long to paint as there is not actually much wall space between the windows, fireplace and sliding glass door. The real time and hassle was in the prep work - taking down all the drapes, blinds and hardware - taping around the fireplace and woodwork.

I sort of thought the kitchen would be the same way since there is also not a whole lot of wall space. WRONG - so very wrong. Between not being able to tape around the cabinetry and all the bending and climbing, this was by far the hardest painting project I've ever done. The 1st coat of paint actually took about 8 1/2 hours. I was in such bad shape after that, I actually took the next day off to rest before tackling the 2nd coat.

Immediately after hubby's class finished up we took advantage of the 3 day weekend to tackle the biggest wall in the house. This one stretches from the front door to the back door and vaults from 9' to 14' and back down to 9' again. By this time I had already painted on the ladder twice and was beginning to actually adjust. It helps that the task of painting along the ceiling line requires a tremendous amount of focus, but I still found myself sweating quite a bit, especially as I reached the apex.

Even on the step ladder, hubby looks far away from way up at the top.
I still need to put some pictures up to fill all that empty space.
Just this past weekend, we tackled 1 of the 2 remaining painting areas. With a new paint brush and growing confidence on the ladder, I was able to knock-out the edges pretty quickly. Then it was just a matter of rolling on the rest of the wall.

I also started recovering our dining room chairs. I wanted to jazz them up with some color and a fun pattern. Turned out pretty good.

The rosemary I planted outside did really well. I used fresh cuttings of it several times over the summer on some roasted potatoes and have harvested a whole bunch more for use this fall and winter. This was my first attempt at growing rosemary so I was pretty excited that it did as well as it did. It had been so long, I had forgotten how much richer the taste is when it's fresh.

The rose bushes and ornamental grass we planted in the spring are all doing well. I sort of left them alone for most of July and was shocked when I came around the corner and saw just how much they had grown. The instruction/information card they came with said they would grown to 18"-24", but as of today they are almost 36". Much taller than the spiral grass which really did only grow to the expected 18"-24".

They did however each grow differently. You can see
how the closest one only grew from the back of the bush.

Summer Failures

The snow peas were so good!!!
Remember how I was telling you about how well the rosemary I planted did. Well that was the only edible I planted that did well. I also planted strawberries, mint, basil and snow peas. The basil died within a week. I just can't seem to keep basil alive - I blame the insects.

For a few weeks everything else seemed to be doing well. I even got enough snow peas to make a stir fry with it. I had only ever had store bought snow peas before. Hubby and I were so blown away by the taste of the fresh ones that I don't know that I'll ever buy them in the store again. Shortly after, the deer got brave and started coming up to the patio to eat. It started with the strawberries and then the snow peas and then the mint.

I guess they don't like rosemary. Thankfully they also left the marigolds and lemon grass that I had planted for insect control.

Obviously, if I want to grow anything other than rosemary, next year I'll have to make a garden bed and put some kind of a cover on it to keep the animals out. I didn't want to do that but I'm pretty motivated to give the snow peas another go.

Summer Highlights

For me the biggest highlight of the summer was getting a sewing machine. I've wanted one for about 17 years now, I think the years of waiting has made it all the sweeter. Hubby has been offering to get me one for my birthday for a few years but I wanted to wait until we had settled into a house, had the space and I felt like I was going to have the time to start actually using it.

It has been more than a decade since I've actually sewn anything with a machine so I thought I would start with something simple just to get warmed up. I made this pillow cover.

It was a good warm up and now I'm ready to make a bunch more.
Weather-wise we have been very lucky this summer. We had a couple of cool spells in June along with a whole lot of rain, which means a whole lot of clouds. As someone who hates the intense heat and humidity of summer this was a real treat. We even had a nice break from the usual summer-like weather all last week.

Summer Lowlights

The lowlight was really the pain - the extra pain from the painting projects along with the additional abdominal pains that I've been having.

With that out of the way, Welcome Fall. Please, stay as long as you want.

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