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Monday, July 24, 2017

How the cows convinced us to put up a fence

A few weeks ago, Brian came home and caught a cow red-hoofed (y'all. I actually laughed at that. Thank you for understanding) eating his grill cover. Just chewing that thing like it was meant for her.

Can we pause for a moment to recognize the irony of a cow chewing on a grill cover that probably tastes like what we've been grilling? Uh huh. Like hamburgers, and steaks. Watch yourself Bessie-you could be next.

Anyway, he "hey-ed!!" that heifer just so she could regurgitate it for him. Which was cute.

So besides the slobber, and stomach contents (*gag), it had a few holes.

That same week, a frisky little calf knocked a handmade pot off the front steps and broke it. The nerve.
(Dear Aunt Sara, need new pot. XO) As if that wasn't enough, it had a real live plant it it..... that I had kept ALIVE no less. Oh, now it's on.

When we first moved in, almost 6 months ago, putting up a fence was one of the top three things on our list. But, it kept getting bumped down the list for things that were more imminent, maybe easier…..and let’s just be honest here,  we had some apprehension about working with barb wire. BUT, now that we’ve got these cows acting like those two naughty Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, we needed to get serious. I have enough trouble keeping my plants alive (Ok, it was a succulent), thank you.

First, we drew out some ideas of how we wanted to enclose the yard. We decided that the “fence of our dreams" looks something like this.

Click picture for link :)

We have watched some videos and read some tutorials about how to make a fence like this. We are/want to be “do it yourself-ers” (read: gluttons for punishment) so all the plans we’ve made on the fence thus far are temporary. For now, they will keep the cows from trying to digest our property/kill themselves and buy us time to build our dream fence around the house weekend by weekend. Or maybe the kids and I can take a trip (ooooh. The beach maybe??) and  B can just tackle that fence while we’re gone (Like the deck). Just kidding. Unless you want to honey….
We technically have 10 acres, and we certainly didn’t want to fence out our whole section. So, we needed to decide what we considered our “yard”. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve referred to the cattle as our, “yard crew”.


They kept the grass short for us and we haven’t spent a minute mowing. We took that into consideration when choosing the size of yard to fence in. Whatever is in the fence will be our job to keep mowed. We also didn’t want to take more grass than we had to for the cows, even though they are naughty.
We already fenced in our garden beds, also as a temporary solution, to rabbits, cows and deer, so we used that existing fence line to fence in the yard.

Using a t-post driver, we drove in the t-posts to create the fence line we planned out. (Read about how we drove the t-posts in my “Adventures in Fencing” post)

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Here are the materials we collected for the fence:

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All the how-tos we read about putting up barb-wire fences stressed the importance of planting a post firmly with cement to secure the line and keep it taut and straight. Like good little diy-ers, we ignored that advice.
Being a temporary solution, we didn’t want to permanently put in posts. Since we didn’t have as sturdy a corner brace as we should have, we decided not to use the wire stretcher contraption, pictured above. It’s purpose is the pull the wire as taut as possible. Which is great, except we knew that pulling it as taut as possible would lean our insufficiently supported corner posts too much.

We used our ranch muscles to pull that barb wire and attach it to the t-posts with the clips.

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The red box is it's own project, which I'll share with you later.

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We pulled three strands all the way around.

See that big roll of wire? We would unroll it, VERY carefully. One of us would unroll while the other went along the line, yes, VERY carefully, pulling it tight and taut. We would then use a clip to attach it to the post.

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Could we just call my lack of photography skills endearing? Thank you. 
Oh, the clips. I struggled with those cotton pickin', dadgum @$#!&!!...I mean things. Brian would say, “let’s race!” igniting my competitive spirit. He would clip his strand and I would clip….but really just struggle to...Oh it was no competition, my friends. It was only frustrating….for me. B would ask, like a sweet husband, “want me to do it?” to which I would snap, “no. Go away!” I was sure THIS time I would clip that stupid, stupid thing on. Ugh.




But, we did it. It was two days of hard work, in the hot sun, but we can now say we put up our own barb wire fence. I don’t want to sound like I’m not proud, but it’s pretty obvious when you see it that we did it ourselves. But it does the job we need it to do, and it’s another skill experience we can add to our “Adventure Life Resume”.  Which isn’t a real thing, and pretty much just means this blog. :)

If you happened upon this post in hopes of finding a DIY how-to on how to string your own fence, I am SO happy you’re here. But friend, fellow fence builder, please google or pin another post. I am not trying to advise anyone on fencing...But come back soon okay?!

Thank you for reading!! I am working on a special birthday post for next week, so don’t miss it! Put your e-mail into the “Follow our Adventures by email” box so you never miss a post! You can consider it my birthday present. XO, Steph

Friday, July 21, 2017

Two Girls and a Gallery

Brian’s dad recently gave Carolynn a print of two kittens that always hung in his grandmother’s living room. She was over the stinkin’ moon. She hugged it, and exclaimed, “I love it! I’m going to put this in my gallery!”

Where could Carolynn, a 6 year old, have gotten the idea that she wanted a gallery you ask?

Maybe from our stairwell?

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Our hallway?

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The playroom?

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The “office” area?

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That’s not even all of them...When I started writing this, I counted SIX different areas in the house where we have hung pictures, signs, quotes, and treasures in the gallery style.

Too much? Meh. Oh well.

Here’s what we were working with in C’s room:


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There were a few character building (for both of us) discussions about listening to other’s ideas, and it’s ok to disagree with someone…..and not interrupting even if you think you don’t like the other person’s idea. Two first born children putting up a gallery wall here. The struggle.

She had a few things already hanging, so “we” (read above paragraph) decided to work on that wall to incorporate what was already on display.

There were those conversations, building our characters, but we also had a sweet time together making a plan and getting it all put up.

The way I figure out a gallery, is by first laying everything out on the floor. I move this here, that there until it looks right to me. I try to stick to groupings of odd numbers. I also like to balance out one big picture with two smaller ones under/above/next to. Or an item (a wreath, a sign etc) with something less dimensional, like a photo or sign.

Here's how C's gallery turned out:

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There's the kittens! C has done that needlepoint herself. She's almost finished. 


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It still needs some work, but as you can see, she’s pretty pleased with it and there's room to add on more treasures.

I better get to my "addicted to gallery wall" group meeting! Thanks for reading!!

XO,

Steph








Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A deck built from railroad ties and leftover wood!

Last week, the kids and I went on a two night trip to visit my grandparents. We love to stay with them and always have such a good time.

I have mentioned before, but Mr. Adventure Life and I both are blessed with really super families. Spending time with our families only reminds us to spend more time with them. We genuinely respect, love and like them.

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Landon with Papa, and one of his "famous" Mickey Mouse pancakes ❤

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Playing on the back porch

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At the Abilene Zoo, feeding the giraffes


These trips make some really special memories for my kids.  

So while the kids, mimi and I were playing cards and eating mema’s banana pudding, Brian was working hard at his job job and then coming home to work hard at the Yellow House. What a guy.

In an attempt to use some leftover railroad ties, Brian came up with a plan using the railroad ties, and some leftover boards and screws from our build (those guys really throw away a lot of usable material) to build a deck for his grill.

Before we get into it, I would like to mention that I tried to get him to write this post. He was, after all, the one that created, and built his deck…...but it’s me, Stephanie. I’ll do my best to describe the process, although I really just want to brag. :)

Using some Pinterest inspiration (Pinspiration, if you please), he came up with his plan to use what we had laying around to build it.

Here’s some of that Pinspiration for you:



Here’s the Yellow House version:

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Instead of using the concrete blocks like the above blogger suggested, Brian purchased 6 brackets for $1.50 (The TOTAL price of this deck!) which he attached to the ties and used to place the boards. He came up with that himself so that he could use the boards we had. Brains and beauty, people.  I am so impressed!

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I am so proud of this, and him. It was created by Brian, built in four hours (of hard work!), for a TOTAL of $1.50 (for those brackets). It is sturdy, and I think it looks so good. It’s rustic and suited to our house, but was also almost free. But, like many projects, it also provided another learning opportunity.

“Brian, have you ever built a deck?”

“Yes, I have. Using discarded scraps and screws actually.”

Bam.

*Special shout out to Brian’s dad, too! He also has a paying job, and helped out after work. Hard work runs in the family, I guess. :)



Monday, July 3, 2017

The Smiths vs. The Cedars


Remember a while back I mentioned that we were clearing cedar trees around the house? Of course you do, my loyal readers. ;) In case that doesn’t ring a bell, let me refresh...Since we’ve moved in we have been pulling out and cutting down cedar trees that were clustered around our big, beautiful oak trees. Because of that clearing, we have been able to hang a swing, and make a play area for Miss C to have a tea party (Read about it here).

But, ever since we did all the clearing (cutting, dragging, piling) the trees have been in 9 huge piles around the house. Cute huh? To be honest, it actually didn’t bother me that much. We have had many visitors come stay, and surprisingly, I didn’t worry about having piles of downed trees around.

At my old house, I would have been stressing if I had people coming and there were piles of unraked leaves in the yard. But here, it’s life. If I decided not to have people out because I had unfinished or partially completed projects around, it would be YEARS. YEARS until we could share this place, our life, with our family and friends. So step over the downed trees, drive over the potholes, don’t step in that cow patty and get yerself over here, sweet guests!

Ok, back to the trees….B rented a shredder from a equipment rental company.


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The lesson we learned when we were pulling up and moving the trees is that you need to be completely covered. Long sleeves, pants, gloves. Brian even made himself a pair of wristbands from old socks. Those trees will slice you up. We added ear protection to this step because that sucker was LOUD.

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We would take a tree from the pile, put it in the shredder….oh. It doesn’t fit like that. Try this way. Ouch!  Look out for that giant spider….it was a nasty business, y’all. I received a mean right hook and an unexpected uppercut from some wily tree trunks spitting back out. We were toast. But, we took two days and tackled all 9 of our piles (above picture is of ONE pile) and also 2 piles from another spot on the ranch. We turned all those trees into 11 (surprisingly not that big) piles of mulch.



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While working those two days, the kids were such troopers. They played outside, they played inside, C even made lunch for the two of them.

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Painting on the porch 


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Camping out in the back of the van.


This was a challenging project, but another thing that we’ve learned to do here at the ranch. Now we can add, “getting our booties kicked shredding cedar trees” to our adventure life resume.

We are blessed beyond for these opportunities. It is overwhelming, gratifying, exhausting, eye-opening, challenging and exactly what we want to be doing. Well, except for getting my bell rung by tree trunks. Could have done without that.

As always, I appreciate everyone reading and following along with all our adventures.

Adventure Awaits,


Steph

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A "Summer So Far" Update and project list!

My friends, this has been such a super summer so far! Swimming, baking, pretending, lego-ing, movie watching, reading, late pajama-ing, a week at the lake…..but no blogging.

I don’t really feel bad about it, we have been living this summer just like I hoped we would. Instead of editing my photos, writing, editing my writing, I’m napping, or reading or playing (I have been doing a good job of playing!) , or ok, ok cleaning. Because I can’t be a complete heathen. Even for you, summer.

We just came home from an amazing, fun and family-filled trip to the lake. We ate too much, took a nap everyday, read entire books, kayaked, paddle boarded, had underwater handstand contests, flew kites, caught tiny fishies in nets, drank soda and ate candy and...there was wine. It was so much fun. Brian’s (large) family has been taking a trip to the lake every year from something like 60 years. Seriously! Isn’t that awesome!? Family is something to be cherished and treasured. We are blessed beyond that we both have great ones. Really, really great.

Now that we’re back from vacation, I got out my calendar and penciled in lots of projects, small trips, and experiences for the rest of summer.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’m hoping to work on in the next month:

  • A gallery wall in Carolynn’s room (per her request) -I will share this process on the blog. There will probably be tears. From my eyes.

  • Sewing panels for my living room-We are adding drapes in the living area. I have panels that need lengthening, so thanks to a friend of mine (who has excellent taste), I have a plan in place and will share more when I get this going.

  • Making rod, and brackets to hang panels

  • Choosing and purchasing a shed

On a personal, not home related note, I have decided to start up a running program again that I’ve done at least 5 times before over the years. Like blogging, my strict exercise routine has gone down the slippery, summer slide.

The kids and I are still planning a trip to the movies, several trips to the children’s museum (they LOVE this one), a painting project (more on that later), a trip to San Antonio, a trip to my grandparents, rock climbing, lots more swimming, and more of the same lazy, but fun-filled summer days.

Stay tuned for some summer projects, and thanks for reading!! Happy summer-ing!





Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer, I love you

Today is the last Friday of the school year for us and I am really excited for summer! Summer has always been my favorite season. Yes, I know, it's hot. People always feel the need to tell me that.
"But it's so hot." Yes, it sure is. I'm a native Texan, this is my time. I love the heat, I love the pool, I love wearing flip flops, the lazy mornings, church camp, summer camp, fireflies, snow cones, running through the sprinkler, family vacations, grilling, keeping your pool pony tail for DAYS, reading tons of books, the beach, the lake....it's just the best. I've always loved it.

From my deep pit of teenage angst, I counted down the days until summer camp like a survivor on a desert island. Scratching a tally mark for each never ending day until I could finally be "rescued" and go back to where I "belonged" : Camp.  Mom, dad, sorry about being a dramatic and unreasonable teenager.

So, here are a few outdoor projects we've done just in time to be enjoyed this summer.

Bring on the Summer! 



This swing used to hang out by my grandad's pool. The tree we hung it from is a bit outside our dining room window and had a swing-worthy branch on it, for sure.

The swing is chippy, and a bit weathered but I liked the look so I gave it a sanding to smooth it out and sprayed it with water seal spray.


Brian did some research and found that the most humane way to hang something from a tree is actually by screwing your hooks into the branch. That way the tree can continue to grow around the screws. (Hanging chains over can dig into the branch) We screwed in the hooks, then used "s" hooks to hang our chain.



A "nature tea table where I can have a tea party with all my dolls" was requested by Ms. C. She and Brian drew up some plans, looked at some wood scraps and put this sweet little table and benches together in an afternoon. The benches are blocks of limestone, and the table is a stump with a board screwed into the top. C picked out a fabric scrap that we glued on and waterproofed. The animals and dolls have been talking about it ever since. It's the best outdoor tea party any of us had ever been to. 😉




Over at the Ranch house, we re-mulched the bed and planted a few new native plants, like Mexican sage and rosemary, but also portulaca and sweet potato vine. This little chair has been broken for years, but we have had it stored away. We just knew we could think of something to use it for. I pulled out some screws, shimmied that pot in there and again, I waterproofed.






This old crock was another old treasure we've had for a while.

I just love that old fence. We are slowly replacing the fence around the house, but this fence stays. Since it's elevated off the ground (it's built on a rock wall), we'll leave it for "looks" and sentimentality. There are pictures of us as kids, out by the pool and that fence is there. It looks much less "rustic", but I just love how authentic it is and to me, it epitomizes the ranch house. "I'm hanging in there. I still work-kind of. I was built by hand, and built well." Turns out even a well-built fence can't remain functional for 60 years.

Anyone else favor summer? Do you like to be busy? Just hang out?

Whatever you do-remember, it's hot. 😎


Thanks for reading!! -Steph

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I buy from Costco, and What's For Dinner


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No one at my house seems to know what day it is today. Brian and I thought it was Thursday, and Landon never knows what day it is. Carolynn of course, knew what day it was. Thankfully she enjoys correcting us, and got us all on track. 😜 It's Wednesday!

I made a trip to Costco this week, so I’m keeping it thrifty (more than usual) this week on the grocery store. I both dread, and look forward to Costco trips. It’s kind of fun to go through Costco, until you get to the check-out and it’s AT LEAST $200. If you even toss two extra things in your cart, you probably just added $30 to your bill. I try to stay all business in that place. Get what you need. Get out. But first get pizza, and a frozen yogurt from the cafe….because I’m only human.

From Costco, I buy:

  • Yogurt
    • Kirkland brand plain Greek Yogurt. We use this to eat (add honey, fruit, oats..) for breakfast and snacks, but also as a sub for sour cream in sauces.
  • Butter
  • Cheese
    • I almost never buy shredded cheese. I buy a whole block of Colby and shred it, or slice it as needed.
    • I will sometimes buy their mozzarella logs also if we’re planning a pizza night.
  • Tortilla Chips
    • We really don’t eat/buy chips except tortilla chips (see my love affair with salsa mentioned below). Tortilla chips and salsa is a winner with pretty much every one so it’s also a good thing to keep around in case guests pop in. It’s $3.54 for a giant bag of chips you think you could never eat all those chips! But we manage to crush that challenge every time.
  • Dried Fruit, Nuts
    • We switch between dried blueberries, and cherries. These also go on sale in the bulk section at Sprouts, which will end up a better deal. But we like to keep these around all the time, so I keep them stocked. We put these in yogurt, or mix them with nuts snacks.

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  • Laundry and Dishwasher soap
    • I’m not picky about it really. I usually use the Arm and Hammer detergent since it goes on sale frequently
  • Bread
    • A friend recommended Dave's Killer Bread to me recently and it's delicious. I keep it in the freezer to help it last.
 I’m actually planning on trying to make homemade sandwich bread today! I’ll take some pictures and share more on that next week!
  • Paper Products
    • Paper towels
    • Toilet paper
  • Trash Bags
  • MATEO’S SALSA
    • Have you had this? You will find yourself asking the question, “What can I eat salsa on? Can we eat salsa on this?” It’s the BEST salsa on Earth and every stinkin’ time I go, I buy 3 jars. So you go buy it too so they never stop selling it. GO!
  • Chicken Broth
    • I usually stock up on this more in the winter for soups.
  • Salt, Pepper and Garlic
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  • Toothpaste
  • Aspirin and allergy meds
  • Dog food
    • To be honest, I’m not in the know about dog food pricing. I just buy it at Costco because it’s a stupid big bag and I don’t have to buy it again for a long time.

Depending on need, and sale items, I occasionally will also buy eggs, coconut water, fish sticks (they have some really good ones!) veggies, La Croix or Ozarka sparkling water.

I do not purchase meat from Costco. I have not found it to be cheaper than Sprouts-where I’m getting chicken this week for $1.88/pound.

Ok! Here’s this week’s menu. We are planning to have dinner with friends one night, where I’m planning to bring some snacks and a dessert. Angel food cake is $1.99 this week, so I’ll take that and some fruit because YUM. It’s a winner every time.


Wednesday
Leftovers!
Thursday
Sesame Honey Chicken Wraps (I use butter lettuce leaves)
Rice, veggie
Friday
Homemade pizza -pepperoni, margherita
Salad with tomatoes, carrots (.98) and cucumbers (3/$1)
Saturday
Grilled Chicken ($1.88/lb)
Grilled Zucchini, grilled corn (6/$1!!)
Maybe some of my homemade bread?!
Sunday
Dinner with friends

Bringing salsa, chips, roasted corn and avocado salad (I’ll throw all the corn on the grill Saturday and use the extra for this. Add avocadoes, salt, chili powder, purple onion, tomatoes-eat with chips, or a fork.)
Monday
Spaghetti (pasta .98, sauce 2/$4)
I really like to make my own sauce, but will use a jar tonight. We will be coming home from visiting friends, so keeping it simple.
Tuesday
Veggie


I cannot believe this will be the last week of school! I am so excited for summer, but also kinda sad C will be in FIRST grade! All those well meaning people that say, “it goes by so fast. Enjoy every minute” were not lying. I feel like this year went by in a flash and I can just see my kid’s childhoods zooming by. OKAY nice old lady, I’m there. I believe you now, and time can just stand.still. But, since that’s not possible, I just really have to try to enjoy the moments and treasure their young-ness. I've never done that well. It’s impossible to treasure EVERY moment, but this summer my goal is to really just BE present with my kids. Hold me to that ok? Unless they ask me to play school. I don’t have to do that. They’re so bossy! :)

Happy cooking, and happy last week of school! Bring on the summer!