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Plans for the Cabin

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This weekend The Social Planner ( TSP), her hubby Larry, Mr. Math, and I spent the better part of a day cleaning up and making plans for the cabin we are getting.

There were so many more happy surprises on the first “walk through” of this project after the tenants moved out than we did on our Huntsville rental property.   The electrical was done properly.  There is an ingenious system for water in the house even though there is no well or city water. The house is well insulated. The appliances work. They did a good job of moving out without destroying.  Winner, winner chicken dinner.

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(We have a lot of stuff to move along.)

The problems with the interior of the cabin are mainly unfinished projects or space planning issues.

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The kitchen cabinets are unfinished at the bottom.
I would like some that look like this:

Cabinets

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But I wan them washed in barn red.

The top cabinets are warped, laminate-over-particle board office cabinets.  I hate them, but for now we need to make them work.  I will keep an eagle eye out for someone who is getting rid of   real kitchen cabinets and will haunt the ReStore for upper cabinets that will work.  I can be patient.

The wood burning stove sticks out too far from the wall, the cement backer board behind the stove is unfinished, and the stove needs to be painted with high heat black paint.
The dudes are going to move the stove back about six inches and fix the stove-pipe.  We ( The Social Planner and me) are going to paint the stove and I am going to attempt to install plank tile that looks like whitewashed wood vertically over the backer board.  Mr. Math will be my backup in case of disaster.

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(The picture above is of the place with the tenants.  It is cleaned out now, but I did not get a picture that shows the space between the wall and the stove.

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The cabin is not too far from the Alabama Coushatta Reservation, and the area has a strong western cowboy history.  We are going to try our best to honor the area through our decor but with more of a deer camp feel.  We both have quite a bit of western stuff that will be coming in. Our bedding for the six beds will be a mix of plaids, solids, and even  couple of native inspired.  The inspiration from the cabin colors will come from these pictures.

I actually found some bedding really cheap on Amazon.

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A lot of what is going into the house is coming right out of my old lake house “bunk room” and The Social Planner’s stash.  These vintage canisters came from the stash.

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The flowered couch is getting a chocolate-colored slipcover that will make it work for us.  The bonus is that it is washable.  The love seat is going and a vintage vinyl western couch is coming in to join the brown couch. 

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I plan on doing a piece for the wall sort of like this one.

I found this letschipit.com color scheme based on a female cardinal.  It is exactly the colors I see us using.

It is going to be fun making this small space functional and FUN.

The journey continues,

Blessings,

Karen

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Selling a Home

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I am not an expert in a lot of areas.  Never ask me to knit, crochet, sew, or bake a soufflé.  I can’t grow anything that is is the least bit tricky (this month alone I have killed an orchid and it appears one of my succulents are dying), and car repair of any sort is not my thing.

What I have learned a little about in 34 years of marriage is how to sell a house.  As of now we have sold 4 homes, each one sold in less than a month, most in about a week.  House number 5 is currently under contract after being on the market for less than 5 days. You can see the home here.

I am pretty proud of our track record selling homes, but my guess is that my kids wished we did things a little differently when they were growing up.  My daughter commented once that we never finished any projects until we were putting the house on the market.  Guilty as charged.

Here is what we do, when we are selling a home:

  1. ” IZE “ your home.  You know what I am going to say here already:
    • Neutralize– Appeal to the masses.  Nothing that would be too taste specific.  Not the time for a purple wall or leopard print carpet.
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    • Depersonalize-You must detach from the home.  You are breaking up with this house anyway, so start moving on in your head.  Family photos, ribbons, medals, and shopping lists on the fridge must go.
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    • Minimize- Go ahead and get a start on moving out.  Have a garage sale, donate to Goodwill, and store anything that is not essential, in pristine condition, or that is too overpowering.  My green hutch and all of the milkglass got moved out.  This is not the best shot of my beloved hutch, but it was all I could find.  I will have an awesome picture of it when it moves in to my craft room.  Promise.
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    • Sanitize- I am not saying you are dirty people, really I am not.  What I am saying is it needs to be cleaner than the way we, at our house, live on a daily basis.  We washed the windows inside and out, had the carpet professionally cleaned, weeded the flower beds, and scrubbed the grout in the bathrooms, organized the linen closets, and power washed the sidewalk, porches, and driveway.  The bathroom counters got emptied and cleaned.  I am sad to say that a lot of that only happens when we have a house on the market.
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  2. Upgrade your home.  It takes money, and/or elbow grease to make money.  In our case a little of both.  Mostly on the back of Mr. Math.
    • Lighting– This is honestly one of the areas that I do not understand why more people don’t take care of before putting their house on the market.  If your house is more than 5 years old, or is a builder basic, you probably have at least one light fixture that needs updating.  If you shop around, you can find some great lights for not a lot of money.  Mr. Math replaced the very builder basic light on the front porch and in the entry way.  I stood on the ground and begged him not to die.  Not all lighting is this challenging to change out.
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    • Flooring– Go with what is selling in your area.  I checked out the two recent sales in our neighborhood.  See what they both had?
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      • Both had hardwood flooring in the family room.   We had carpet so we knew we were going to have to up our game.  We shopped for the best deal on neutral engineered hardwood flooring and had it installed. We spent some serious money on the flooring, but we knew that it would not get any traffic if we weren’t on par with the other homes on the market.  It is really nice, but I probably would have gone a lot more rustic if I was purchasing for me and not the masses.
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  3. Make your home memorable.  I know I said neutralize, so why would I also say to make it memorable?  What I mean is make your home stand out from the rest in the minds of buyers- in a good way.  Keep the walls neutral but try to have at least three rooms with something in them that will be remembered by the buyers.
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    • We added this barn door and buyers can see it as soon as they walk in.
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    • Our neighbor had this awesome turquoise buffet in the entry way.
    • I love my teal dresser that we use as an entertainment center.
    • Oh that bathroom.  I am going to miss that beauty.  The dresser, the antique vanity, the fence board shelving unit and the light are all neutral but very memorable.
    • The faux shiplap wall is getting a lot of traffic right now on Pinterest.  It is easy, and makes quite a statement.
  4. Hire the realtor in your area that is actually selling homes and then listen to the realtor.  The person who is selling homes quickly in your area probably has potential clients already lined up.  The realtor we used sold the home next door quickly and for above listing a month before ours went on the market.  She had a list of people who are currently looking to move into our neighborhood from her last sale.  She also set the price for the house which was higher than I thought we should go.  She was right.  If she had told us our house was not worth what we believed, we would have had an opportunity to fix the problems before moving on or not list, but I would never list higher than the realtor believes it will sell for.  I would either need a different realtor or realistic expectations.  Our realtor walked through the house prior to listing to make sure we had everything done that would help the house sell.  She was honest and helped us see things that we had not considered with furniture placement.

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It made me proud of our hard work that we had more than one family want the home, and that the new buyers wanted to buy some of the furnishings as well.

We love hearing from you.  Thank you for following along on our journey as we move into our forever home.

Blessings,

Karen

 

 

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

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Thursday night I had the opportunity to visit SJ River Ranch just outside Coldspring.  I will tell you all that when I say I am a weekend country girl, that is a stretch.  I am really a “weekend go to the country girl”.  We have a deer feeder so that I can see the deer come up early in the mornings when the beasts leave them alone.   I feed humming birds, finches and have a general bird feeder.  That is about the extent of my interaction with wildlife.

Mary and Bill are real live ranchers who have a beautiful ranch where they raise cattle.  Here is a link  to their website that includes beautiful pictures.  I love the fact that Mary is the ranch manager.  She is also an artist and they have lived all over the world.  The stories they tell about their adventures are book-worthy.

We arrived at their home just before sunset so some of the later pictures are grainy.  I had to really adjust the light.

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The ranch is over 300 acres and is a mix of pine trees and pastures.  It is beautiful.

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The Austin stone on the home is so pretty.  I love the back porch that runs the length of the home.  There are windows that line the porch wall so that you can see outside into the beautiful back yard from every room.

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This gazebo is amazing.  It is huge.  There is a fire pit in the center and an opening in the roof for the smoke to get out.  I think I would live in the gazebo if I could.

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Sunset views.

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Mary took us on a ride around the property.  The containers you see in the distance are her raised garden pots.  She also has a greenhouse.

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They have a guest house.  We didn’t get to check it out because there were guests.  One day I want to check out how it is organized.

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They have a workshop that we got to check out.  With awesome metal cabinets.

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They have a chicken coop.  Mary has eggs of all colors.  Do you see Henrietta the spotted chicken?  Bill also fixed it so that they can get the eggs out without going in the coop.  That green box on the outside has a lid that lifts up to get to the eggs.

 

 

 

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There are two ponds on the property.

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The ride out to see the cattle was beautiful.  The views are spectacular.  It is easy to forget you are just over an hour away from downtown Houston.

The true lack of my  country experienc came out when we met Shooter.  You know how on cartoons they show bulls flaring their nostrils, pawing the ground and charging at you?

Source

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I can now tell you that they do this in real life.  Shooter, a high dollar registered bull,  did not love us being near his girls.  My heart did race, the Social Planner and I may have squealed enough to scare Bill into riding out to see if we were okay.  The Social Planner and I thought for a minute we were in trouble.

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I did get brave enough to get some shots of Shooter but not brave enough to get any closer.  That wire was all that stood between me and sudden death.  Yep.  I am standing across the road from him thinking of an escape route if necessary.   I think that bull makes my bottom look big.   🙂

 

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See these bad babies?  They slipped under the fence and were in the hay barn when we drove up.  Look at how innocent they look… those little stinkers.

 

 

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These calves were out in the pasture.  All of the calves we saw were born in September or October.

 

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Lacey loves food.  She is on a diet so she now sneaking out to get the calf food.  Poor Lacey.

 

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This boy is head of ranch security and he is no joke.

 

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We had a lot of fun and love learning about the place we call home two days a week.   A big thank you to Bill and Mary for the wonderful gumbo, the tour of the ranch and letting us sit by your fire.  We loved it.

Here is a shot of The Social Planner and me on the back of the Kabota ready for our tour.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I love hearing from you.

 

Blessings,

 

Karen

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Our First Stay in a B & B

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Mr. Math loves me. He knew that with the start of school, our son and daughter in law going overseas for a year, and even the addition of our rowdy rescue dog, Lumi, I was exhausted and ready for a break. He surprised me with a trip to a Bed and Breakfast in Fredricksburg. Texas. We even took a day off work to extend the weekend which is something I almost never do during the school year.

Fredricksburg is a town with a strong German heritage in the Texas Hill Country about four hours from Houston. It is a picture postcard, small town that has worked hard to preserve historic buildings. (In Texas, historic means late 1800’s up to early 1900’s.)

Fredricksburg TX Downtown Fredricksburg

Link to the Fredricksburg website is HERE

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This was our first ever trip to a bed and breakfast after hearing about them for years from our buddy, The Social Planner. The room wasn’t cheap. It would have been comparable to the cost of a room in a downtown Doubletree in Austin, Dallas, or San Antonio during the fall.  Once Mr. Math let me know we were going, I got to pick the room.   We looked at room photos when choosing where we would stay. I was smitten with the room I chose.   It was a mix of vintage and eclectic furnishing.  Totally funky and bohemian.

We got our reservation through this site: HERE

Here is the 360 degree view of the room at theroadrunnerinn.com .  HERE The photos don’t lie.    It was a cool space and looked exactly like the photos. The inside was exactly the type space I would create for myself.

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We arrived just after 3:00 pm at Main Street Bed and Breakfast to get our room key. The young lady at registration handed us the key, a map to the location of our building, two $6.00  breakfast vouchers for a local restaurant and told us good luck finding parking because our room did not have parking and that there was no sign for the Roadrunner which was our room.  We found parking a block behind the location and walked up to the room.  Here is a photo of all the information we got from the young lady.

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I will be honest and say that this is not the B and B experience I thought we would have.    I guess this is tip number one if you are going to a B and B.  Ask about parking, ask about breakfast, ask if someone will be on site 24 hours.  (By the way, breakfast was really good but we had to pay the balance on our meal Saturday.  It cost over the amount of our vouchers. Sunday we each got a breakfast taco and coffee and it was within the allotted amount.)

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The Little Roadrunner on the glass up to our room was the only sign.  We walked by it twice.

 

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I really like the mix of modern with mid century chairs at the top of the stairs.

 

I feel a little like a whiner when I say this but here goes.  I had expectations that a Bed and Breakfast would be more intimate.  I thought we would have human contact while we were there at a more personal level than at a hotel.  Except for the young lady who gave us the key and paper we did not see another soul related to the B &B the time we stayed there except the shop owner in the shop below our room who helped us with the door when our hands were full and a man who told us to leave the key in the mailbox Sunday morning when the office wasn’t open. We were just another set of patrons at the restaurant and frankly we could have found a place to eat on our own had we stayed in a hotel.   There were no notes, suggestions, or “Where to find…” information provided except this large picture over the kitchen area.

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Coffee was provided in the room along with basic dishes, which was nice.

We have rented beach houses several times and this felt much more like a beach house rental than what I thought we would find at a B&B.

Tip number 2:  Ask more questions and check rating sites like Yelp. 

The final ask more questions occurred Saturday night when we discovered that a band was playing in the beer garden next door after the posted hours for the Beer Garden and during the bar open hours. (It rained Friday night or we would have discovered this sooner.)   Nothing on the website mentioned that a beer garden was right outside our window or the physical address of the Roadrunner Inn.  If we were partying folk, this would have been great.  It would be a draw to know we could stay up until 2:00 am drinking then stagger back to the room once the music finished without having to drive anywhere.  We are not those folk.  After a day of shopping, exploring, and walking in cooler than expected and wet weather we were ready for bed about 11:00 pm.  By 12:30 am we were tired and frustrated.  By 12:35 there were words exchanged between Mr. Math and the manager of the Beer Garden.  It was a long night with little sleep after the words were exchanged.

Tip number 3:  Ask for the physical address of the B and B if it is not provided on the website, then go to Google Maps and Look at the Street View.  I think it would have saved us some of the aggravation Saturday night.

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FYI- This  nice looking pair playing music on the porch of said Beer Garden WAS NOT the band playing late at night and the seats were full at 12:30 am.

Will we go back to Fredricksburg?  Probably not.  We enjoyed our visit but the town was very crowded, the shopping was nice, but things were a little overpriced, and frankly our B and B experience tainted our enjoyment.  We ended up paying for a really nice weekend away and got the equivalent of Motel 6 experience in a really nice room (really it was less than Motel 6 in service- there is usually parking, 24 hour on site personnel, and ice at a Motel 6).   Will we try a Bed and Breakfast again?  I hope so.  I have already heard from two different folks about great B and B locations to try that offer what we were hoping to find.

Have you had a great B and B experience?  I would love to hear about it.  Have you been to Fredricksburg?  If so, what did we miss that would have made our trip more enjoyable?  I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and share in our mid-life adventures.

Blessings,

Karen

 

 

Back Yard Dreaming

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I am dreaming of getting our back yard spruced up.   I mean I go out there at least twice a day and stare at our yard just dreaming of how it will look.

One of the things I liked about our house in the burbs was our big back yard.  We live on a cul de sac so the biggest part of our lot is in the back

In the city house we moved from a year ago we had a teeny tiny back yard.  It was a major bone of contention between my husband and me.  I want flower beds, plants, and and shade trees, and privacy.  He liked our big front yard on a corner lot.  He did and still does, like grass.  I, on the other hand, like space in the back yard where I can be a hermit.  I crave a retreat.  A low maintenance retreat to be sure, but a retreat none the less.

Right now I call our back yard the pasture.  It is a vast expanse of grass.  Hubby even pulled up the Oleander  in the corner because it was in the way of the sprinkler head watering the grass.  No lie.  One of my five scrawny bushes in the backyard was in the way of a sprinkler head so it had to go.

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My goal for our first fall to work on the yard is simple.  I want trees.  I want ONE flower bed with native plants that are easy to keep alive, I want to amend the soil in our raised bed garden, and I want our fire pit set up.

What the almanac says about low maintenance gardening.

My grandmother was a big believer in the almanac and it says planting trees in the fall is the right time.

The following trees are in my plans:

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Crepe Myrtle.  They grow super fast, stay fairly vertical, and have pretty flowers.  They are HARDY here is south east Texas.

 

lime tree orange tree

Citrus trees

In our area and even further north there are varieties of orange, grapefruit and lime trees that are able to stand up to our winters.

The cool thing about citrus trees is that the fruit ripens in the fall and winter.

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Silver leaf Sage is about the toughest plant around.  It blooms after a rain with beautiful purple flowers.

 

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Lantana, day lilies, and Blue Daze are all plants that will grow even if I forget to water them,  which of course I will.

I also want to work on our raised bed garden this fall.

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Cilantro and dill will get planted for us to enjoy.

I am not setting my sights high this fall. I know we cannot do everything that needs to be done at once but I am excited to get started.

Making a Corn Hole Set

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One sweet memory I have from The Southern Belle and Big Cat’s wedding last summer was an outdoor family gathering where we got to meet the families. Big Cat set up his corn hole set to play. Lots of folks got in on the action, even my sweet mom, Me Mie. Ever since then I have wanted a set to use at our lake house, at school and for neighborhood parties in the burbs. Corn hole is a little like horse shoes except it is played on a slanting 2 foot wide, four foot long plywood surface. There is even a corn hole association! Because I am working crazy hours this summer, but I wanted the set ready for our 4th of July family reunion, I charged Hubby with researching the rules, board dimensions, and DIY instructions. He is a math teacher in real life so dimensions, diameters, and angles are right up his alley.

As the 4th of July approached, I started to gently remind nudge nag him to get on it. He bought the wood. Pre-cut 2 X 4 sheet of a/b sanded wood so it would be smooth and 2 2X4’s. It hung out in the back of his truck. The nagging increased. The weekend before the 4th- with company at the lake house- arrived. He promised he could have them built in 30 minutes. So the timer started! In reality it was closer to an hour but still assembly was quick. The hole is 6″ centered 9″ from top edge. The legs are cut to length so that the top edge is 12″ from the ground.  He attached the legs with a bolt so that it can be loosened and the legs stored under the board.

Once he finished I jumped on the painting. It had to be red, white and blue… because pretty much everything at our lake house is red, white, and blue. The creamy white is the paint we used for our rockers and swing. No clue what the color is, but the paint was hanging out in the Garagemahal. The blue is Behr Sailboat blue. It has been used on out coffee tablethe beverage station, and Sweet Amanda’s chair at our chair party. I had to buy the red. I am not going to tell you the color because I made a bad choice with the red. I hate Glidden paint. More on that later. Once it was all painted the creamy white and dried overnight, I taped off stripes. Mr. Math helped me figure out the width of the big stripe then after he left, I very unscientifically taped off a thinner stripe the width of the skinny tape. The trick to painting clean lines is fresh tape ( don’t try to use tape that has hung out in the garage a year getting all hot and cold) and paint the base coat color over the edges of the tape. The paint seals the edges and any that seeps under is the same as base so you can’t tell. The Glidden paint was so thin it still bled in two spots. Not. A. Fan.

blue corn hole set

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corn hole set up

red and blue corn hole set

corn hole legs

I stitched eight bags. Four blue and four red, six inches each and filled with corn. They will have to be upgraded to a tougher fabric, but they will work for now.

corn hole bags

We are still working on the mechanism to attach the two boards to store and carry.  The handles worked well, but the latches did not work.

using a latch

connected for travel

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The boards turned out well and they will be used at events for years to come.

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corn hole boards

We are not the only ones camping with a set. I thought I would share a few others who were camping near our family reunion:

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A UT set with football shaped corn bags.

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This is a really easy set to fold and the little guys loved it.

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You have to look carefully at this camp site to see them.  They are located on either side of the smoker.

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. Blessings, Karen

Cedar Windfall

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Guess what I got this weekend?  I got a load of gorgeous cedar lumber!  I am so excited about doing some projects.

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My dad had cedar trees on his timber property that a guy wanted to buy from him.  Dad went in halves with the guy.  That means that the guy did all the work on the cedar in exchange for half the wood.  My sweet dad had him cut some of the wood for me to use from a few of the trees and surprised me this weekend.  It is so pretty.  I hate that it is outside right now, but will soon be safe inside the Garagemahal.

Project # 1 is going to be a bench for my mom and dad’s covered porch at their property.  The top is going to be a 2″ thick slab with rustic legs that I am going to attempt to build all on my own.  I will have my hubby acting as tutor, but I really am wanting to do more actual construction on my own.  I am learning that I can do more than I think I can.  Here is the inspiration piece:


source: Follow Your Heart

You think I am up for it?  I sure hope so. If not, it will still make a great story for you guys to read.

Project #2 is beefing up our mantle in our suburban home.  The fireplace is beautiful but the mantle is so shallow that I cannot decorate up there and it it is way too fussy a fireplace for me.   I have to “line everything up in a row” if I am going to put anything on the mantel right now. I am going to add a wide cedar top board and frame out the fire-box with cedar something sort of  like what you see below.  I may add cedar to the hollowed out area too… not sure.  I am going to use the wormy cedar on the sides.  It looks so cool.

burb home fireplace

I want it to be reversible when we sell the house and I think that we should be able to remove this.

Cedar Mantel – Project of the Week | The Wood Whisperer
Source: The Wood Whisperer

cedar wormy close up

cedar wormy

Project # 3 is going to be my personal favorite.  I have a huge natural edge slab that is going to become a bench for our suburban home and a shelf for the lake house behind the wood burning stove once we get the rusted tin up.  Man I cannot wait until we get the fascia boards done and the porch painted so we can get started on the inside of the house!  I am so very ready but I know we have to do some outside maintenance work first.  Boo.

Live Edge Oak and Elm slab bench, table, TV stand Natural wood

Source: Art Fire

Live edge floating shelf

Source

cedar natural edge

Project #4 is going to be using the bark part of the tree (peeled) to make some shelves for our lake house master bedroom.  I want four or five of the thin shelves on the wall for my milk glass collection.  I think I can beat $72.00 for two of them.

Source: Etsy

cedar log ends

After that all bets are off but I will bet that a table will be made from the milled lumber for sure.  The wood I have at the house is just a sample of the wood coming my way.  woo hoo!

What would you do if you were given a load of beautiful cedar boards?  I am open to suggestions.

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