Sunday, September 25, 2011

Garden Music

When we moved here I started dreaming about water gardens and the musical sound of water trickling. We live in a very rocky area which has its pros and cons. It’s nice having endless stones to landscape with but not so nice when it comes to planting trees or doing any digging. We are also blessed with natural springs in this area. Our water supply is all spring water. ( the best drinking water! ) The pond pictured below is the over flow of our cistern. It has created a habitat for numerous frogs, including a few pickerel frogs. ( cute, spotty little critters )

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The pond in the backyard I made a few years ago. It took a lot of digging, a little stonescaping, and is now home also to numerous frogs, a couple of gold fish, a water lily and some baby blue gill the boys brought up from the big pond. Starting out it looked like this:

before pond 1 

Not a good picture but this is where I wanted the pond to be.

before pond2


Now it’s dug out and the liner put in. The water that flows through this pond comes from a spring on up the hill in the woods. I had a hard time convincing Jon that this would work. I had remembered as a child that there was always a decent spring up there. In fact, we would drink from it all the time while playing in the woods as children. ( my sister and I ) Finally, a few years ago, I dug a trench where the spring came out of the ground and laid a pipe in it. Sure enough water collected and hubby was convinced! He helped me to haul gravel up to the ditch and the rest was pretty well up to me. I stuck some pipes together and guided them down the hill to an old steel pipe that I had sticking out of a pile of rocks. ( it’s supposed to look like it comes right there out of the ground )



You can’t tell very well in the photo but the water runs into a stone that we carved out and turned into a little basin of sorts. From there I dug a shallow ditch to get the pipe under the walking path and from there it flows off a rock into the pond – making that beautiful music that can be heard throughout our house… what a blessing!






The little red shed Jon made for the boys to use as a play house and after a year or so of getting no attention ( guess boys don’t play with little houses ) I decided to store my gardening pots and tools in. Don’t know how I ever did without!

John also made a green house shed for me a few years ago. I still haven’t gotten around to decorating it like I want to eventually but I’ve had great success in starting some of my annuals in it. It sure saves money when you can start your own plants.

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More blooms…









We found this little cutie hanging on the screen door one evening this summer. How beautiful all those little critters sound singing together in harmony!


How awesome is it that we can bring those sweet outdoor scents inside to enjoy!

I hope all you garden lovers enjoy the rest of our fall season as the leaves turn brilliant colors of orange, red and yellow, the fresh smell of autumn is in the air and jack frost paints our landscape with sparkles of white now and then…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Country Kitchen–chapter 2


Now for another country kitchen post… next we’ll stroll through some gardens so you won’t get tired of my indoors! The dining area is connected right to the kitchen. I couldn’t find any old grainy “before” pics so we’ll go right to the after…


The table that was turning orange I stripped using a furniture stripper. I painted the legs & skirting black and the top I stained with a dark walnut color. I gave everything a few coats of varnish. Oh, I should mention that I did only strip the top. ( using furniture stripper is not my favorite thing to do & don’t use it unless absolutely necessary ) I felt with a tabletop getting all that wear I wanted to take that route. The chairs we bought years ago at JC Penney. Those were black so that saved me some painting.


The little jelly cupboard I made using sections of an old cupboard we used to store fishing rods in when I was a kid. I covered it with an 1/8 inch beaded plywood. We store our cereal & snacks in it.

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The white vases are all spray painted old vases that I had in storage. Most of them were clear before I painted them. Jon made the bench for me. He’s made a number of them for others already and they’re very sturdy.


The wall paint color is called brick dust and I think it’s Sherwin Williams color sample. ( I always use Orme hardwares’ paint in Berlin – they’re reasonable priced, got good paint and great service! ) The wainscoating color is indian canoe – same as cabinets. I also mixed dark brown paint with conditioner to rub into the grooves. I still want to add curtains someday.


This area is where the pantry used to be. We took out the walls and added the old beams. It may sound simple but it wasn’t! I will never forget how Jon & I were working one night at one o’clock setting that top beam ( where the baskets are hanging from ) It was all I could do to get my end up on the post. ( I think I had to chant some motivating little line over & over ) Then when we had it there, we thought it didn’t look right turned that way so it was back down again… anyway I think it’s been worth it. We did move the fridge from where it used to be over in the dining area to the ex-pantry ( what we call it ) Of course we had to tear some cupboards out to fit it in. The cupboards in the ex-pantry I painted & crackled a couple of years ago already. I painted a door with chalk board paint to write on. The countertop is also painted black.

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Of course I had to do something with the section we tore out to fit the fridge in.


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My dream hutch for basically free!! Far from perfect of course but it works for me. As you look closely you can see the seam where I had to add wood to raise the top part. I got Jon to help me saw in the grooves with the rip table saw. ( so it looks beaded ) I added large wooden knobs to give it that old look.


Lastly, the stairway that bothered me for so many years… The skirting & step fronts I had painted for a while already. Just this summer I got the nerve to paint the steps. I was always afraid the paint would come off with so much use. So far it’s held out nicely, I did give it a coat of varnish over the paint. ( I’m a believer in that ) One warning with black steps though is you see every dust particle!


The walls around the stairway area are a neutral, tannish color. I just mixed some leftover paint I had around here so I don’t have a name for it. I thought with a kitchen this size it would be nice to break up the red walls with a second color.

Hope you enjoyed the kitchen tour… see-ya!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My country kitchen – chapter 1


This summer I finally got my kitchen the way I always dreamed it would be… or pretty much. ( I always have something I still want to add or change it seems. )

From the beginning…

I found this grainy old picture of the kitchen from when I was probably still in school:

old kit. pic cropped

Typical shiny floor, glossy white walls & ceiling, oak cabinets, etc. of the 80s. I’m not saying this to run down my parents’ taste – they just used what people did back then.  After we moved in we installed floating floor and I painted the walls a country green called “old hiedelburg.” I can honestly say I never was too fond of the color but put up with it for five years.  I tried different stuff to make things go better with the green walls. I painted the oak trim ( which had turned orange ) a tan color. I got the wild idea to paint the blue/gray countertop black. It didn’t work out too bad, although I did have to touch up every now and then. I found this picture from a few years ago. It isn’t the sharpest picture since I had to scan it but you can kind of see how the black countertop looked.

black countrtop

Different things bothered me about the kitchen. I didn’t like where the fridge was and our kitchen table was turning orange. Also the stairway which is in the kitchen didn’t look right.Image (4)         green kit. pic

Most major of all was the oak cabinets just weren’t wearing out. ( I am not a fan of stained oak. ) We ended up tearing out the pantry wall and setting in a big wood beam & post from an old barn. I thought maybe that would take my eyes off the cupboards. ( didn’t work ) Around that time I did paint some of the green walls surrounding the cabinets a crème color which I thought looked better than that green. I also made an island out of some plywood we had laying around. It did look a little better overall but still not exactly how I wanted it to look. ( anyone feel pity for John? ) So finally I decided to break the news to my mom. I said, “Sit down and breathe deeply - I have something to tell you.” ( I’m kidding ) I did casually say that I think I’m going to paint the kitchen cabinets someday. ( I meant tomorrow) A lot of people think you only paint something when it’s actually necessary but I guess I’d prepped mom on thinking differently over the years with all my painting everything because she really didn’t say too much. ( she loves them now as well as I do ) Jon was indifferent too, thankfully. I went to a cabinet shop and got special oil-based paint for cabinets and used my sprayer, which operates on air to paint. Of course, I didn’t use the sprayer in the house to paint the cabinet frames so I had to brush that on. The doors & drawers I took outside on the driveway to spray. Our kitchen was a total mess for a few days until I was finally finished.

croppd kit. pic


Now… the after:




The cabinets I lightly sanded first, then sprayed a dark brown paint on them. Next came the tan which is called Indian canoe ( Behr’s color ). After that I distressed the wood. ( sanded edges and areas I thought would naturally get wear ) Last I sealed everything with a clear topcoat that I also sprayed on. I have been very pleased with the way it’s holding out. I can’t think of anywhere that the paint has come off. I would definitely advise anyone to paint cupboards if you don’t like the color – verses investing in new ones. I have since painted other peoples cabinets that I didn’t use the smelly, oil-based paint but sealed the water-based paint with a clear varnish and it works great.

IMG_2585  Removing a few cabinet doors I think can really add character.    



Close-up cabinet pictures:

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The beadboard behind counter I bought at a local lumber yard. It’s pine wood tongue &groove 3/8 inch thick. It’s easy to put in. I used liquid nails & small finishing nails to fasten and so far it’s held nicely.

The island:


Also made of that same beadboard that I love! Jon made the top for me. He glued together 2 by 6s and I painted it black using water-based paint and sealing it with a clear coat. The doors I used chicken wire to give it that old fashioned farmhouse look. The towel holder is made of pine wood & painted. I added a little hook for a hand towel and left an open space for a trash can. Sometimes I wonder how someone could work in the kitchen without an island! Definitely a great convenience.



Above the island hangs an old sawed off ladder that also comes in handy to hang pots & pans.

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The countertop on the main cabinets is wood. We ordered it at a local cabinet shop. I wanted to distress it with a hammer & chisel but Jon said no! I’m not too careful with it though so it will look older sooner.

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This post is getting to be too long so I’ll share the rest of my kitchen later…