Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The sunflowers are having problems! Like all of our other crops this year, they just had a hard time coming up. We don't have a very good stand. The problem this year was that just after Ted planted them, they got poured on. Then it immediately got really hot and dry and caked the ground over.

This should be a picture of green rows starting to fill out. Instead, it's just sad.

Here we have some that came up a bit better, but still not fantastic.

The ones that did come up vary in height. They are 4" tall on average.

To add insult to injury, the bugs seem to be quite hungry this year.

Ted has replanted quite a few acres. The lines you see in the soil will (hopefully) be new rows of sunflowers. They are patiently waiting for some rain.

A few are starting to pop up here and there. I hope more will soon follow.

These two seem to know that it's going to be a tough life, and have decided to stick together.
I'm guessing the first sunflowers will be blooming 1 month from now. (That's August 20th.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What to do with a free weekend?

Ted and I have been contemplating for some time about taking out one of our fireplaces. We actually had 3 of them and we really could only use one at a time. There wasn't enough air draw in the house to use more than one. Anyway, after much thought, we decided that the western most fireplace would go, and we would keep the one in the living room.

This is the living room fireplace. We took out the existing cover and planned to put a new, more efficient insert in this one.

This is the west fireplace that was slated for the chopping block. Ted removed the old insert... that's what's sitting in front of it.

Next step was to put up plastic to try and keep some of the dust from infiltrating the rest of the house (nice thought anyway).

We put plywood down on the floor to keep any accidental drops from marring the wood floor.

Bye bye fireplace! I have no room for you in my life anymore!

Initial destruction was quite interesting.

What the heck??? Was that seriously what was inside my chimney?
One thing that we learned was that the bricks were not simply a facade. They were actually lode bearing walls. Yikes! Time to shore things up...quick...
Another thing we learned was that the 3 flues that ran up inside the chimney were all leaning. There were also char marks from chimney fires over the years. Our construction guy said it was lucky that our house hadn't burned down. Upon recommendation from our two "structural experts," we decided to take down the entire structure. All 3 fireplaces!

Bye bye fireplaces!

Yes, that would be a hole in my roof!

This was one of the fireboxes. Just a bit scary, huh?

I'm really glad our homeowners insurance guy couldn't see this.


That pile of rubble is all that was left at the end of Saturday.

Sunday morning, we had this to deal with.

Just one flue going to the basement fireplace to plug.

My job was to chip mortar off of good bricks, and unload the skid steer every time the bucket got full. I would then dump it onto the truck behind.

This is our neighbor, Bryson. He's a pretty good goober...completely full of himself...but a good kid. I enjoy having him around. I need someone to make fun of, and I need his strong back!

We managed to salvage 7 pallets of usable brick.

Ted tidied up the roof, no doubt very glad to be on it rather than in it as he was all day.
Did I mention that we did this on two extremely hot days. The temps were in the 90's. The heat index was over 105. Due to dust and a very large hole in the roof, we had to turn the air conditioning off. Egads!
Ted and I both knocked off around 4:30 in the afternoon. (Both days we started between 6 and 7 to try and get a jump on the heat.) Ted is spending the evening catching up on some spraying that he needs to do, and I will be spending the rest of the evening cleaning. After Ted gets home tonight, he will run the wires for electrical boxes and a TV cable. While he's at it, he intends to run a 220 out to the garage since we've never had one out there.
Doesn't that sound like a great way to spend the weekend?
All in all, we accomplished a lot in two days.
A special thanks to Pete, CJ, our two hired high school boys, and our two girls who all put in a lot of effort and were a tremendous help. Thank you!
Post script: We have so many flies in our house that I'm paying the kids 20 cents a body! Callie is up to $5.40.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Made in America

I'll be honest with you. When I set out to do this whole "Made in America" thing this year, I really expected to have a lot of fun looking for (and buying) lots of stuff that is made in America. Sadly, what I found out, is that it was incredibly hard to find things that are made in America. But, I didn't get skunked. What I did learn is that when I do find stuff that's made right here in the good ol' US of A, it is top quality!
Case in point: my favorite mixing bowls!!!

These are Wisconsin Mixing Bowls. They are made by Ellinger's Agatized Wood Company out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (I just love to say "Sheboygan!")
Like the company's name suggests, these are a wood composite made of pine and melamine.
I've owned a set of these bowls for about 9 years. They are light-weight and durable. Quite simply, I love them! Unlike some customer reviews however, they are NOT unbreakable. It took me about 8 years, but I finally found that if you drop one from about 3 1/2 feet and it lands just right, it will indeed crack. I thought that I could live without that particular bowl, but after a few months, I broke down and bought another set. Also, in doing a bit of research for this blog, I found that if you go directly to the company's website, they sell them individually. (I wish I'd known that earlier!) Oh well, I love them so much that I really don't mind having a set of 7!
Here's their website: http://www.agatized.com/