Water Woes & So Much More

When nothing’s going on around here, I have an easy time figuring out what to write about. I pick something people might consider interesting and have the whole thing written in my head before I even start.

But when surprises pop up and things get a little crazy, I end up with a jumble of ideas running around in my head not knowing where to start or what to share. It’s been that kind of weekend.

Friday afternoon started out like pretty much any other Friday. Sweet Miss invited a bunch of buddies over for a girls’ night. A few extras–not a problem–they can be giggly and goosey in their wing till the wee hours. They were coming after work, so I wouldn’t even have to feed them, but I did offer to pick up snacks.

I had to get Baby Girl from a friend’s and stopped off at the grocery store on the way home. I  picked up food for dinner. So far so good. When I got home, I went back to making zucchini bread–I was out of oil which was another reason for stopping by the store.

I grated the zucchini and decided to wash the goop off my hands… No water… What? Something was very wrong.

We spent four days without water in early July. I know the signs to watch for, everything was fine before I went to the store. The water pressure hadn’t dropped, I’d heard the pump running when I was working out in the sewing room. Even when the pump broke and we’d been “out of water”, there was still a little trickle when I turned on the faucet… This was just strange.

Now, when things go bad, I usually call the Mr. But it was Friday night, I didn’t want him to be in a bad mood when he got home. Instead, I’d just ratchet up the stress as soon as he walked in the door.

Oh and did I mention, Baby Girl had also invited a few friends to spend the night. That means seven teenage girls and no water… I was starting to stress.

Well, my sweet, handsome man got home and I spilled the beans–no water. Let’s figure this out. The deck guy had washed off the lower deck, prepping it for its top coat. Which tap did he use? I don’t know. I think it’s creepy to sit and watch him all day long; I let him do his thing. Hmm, the outside tap that leaks horribly looked very wet. You mean, the guy emptied a 1,000-gallon tank washing the deck? That was our best guess.

Everything was going to be OK; we just had to wait a little while for the tank to fill. I’d just let the fellow know not to use that tap again.

The girls could come, we just had to try and conserve water until it got to a better level. Brushing my teeth that night, I was surprised to note there was still no water. This was taking a long time.

The next morning, something was seriously wrong–still no water. The Mr investigated a little more and found that the pipe to the outside tap had actually broken and water from the tank was just pouring out. I guess it’s a good thing our well doesn’t fill quickly and the tank room is down below the garage, so we didn’t have flooding.

Roto-Rooter came to the rescue. They sent a guy out and he fixed the pipe in less than an hour. It was totally exposed, just a little tricky to get to.

Of course, I did have a few cranky girls that morning. The garage door had been slamming all morning long, and they still didn’t have working toilets. As an added bonus, the guy from the security company was testing the alarms. They were really happy.

When they came down stairs to do a mass exodus to Starbucks, they found their cars blocked in by the workmen. All was forgiven when we made more coffee, and I made them doughnuts. The water was back on by the time they finished breakfast and life was good.

When we bought this place, I had this feeling of independence. We had our own well and didn’t have to pay water and sewer any more. We were living off the land; sticking it to the man. Sometimes I am so foolish.

Not only has the well cost us an arm and a leg, we’ve had the added bonus of learning to clean with hard water and those lovely spots it leaves behind.

One good thing about all this, our water tank filled overnight. Last time it took two whole days. Perhaps that pipe was cracked and was leaking before it broke.

Maybe later this week, I’ll share art, painting, heating, sewing and gardening projects that we took on lately. For now, I’m going to make some more zucchini bread; those silly girls ate it all.

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Miles & Miles of White

What do you see when you first look out the window? my mother-in-law asked.

I look at the river.

I look at the house across the valley.

I look at the farm and the bright red roofs.

While we’re all in the same room, we are all enjoying vastly different scenes. My mother-in-law is at the table watching the river; my father-in-law has taken a spot in the little chairs and sees the house across the way; and I’m snuggled up on the couch, enjoying my morning coffee and the view of Carnation farm. One of the amazing things about this big, white house is the panorama of mountains, river, forest and the ever changing sky.

We are lucky enough to have a deck surrounding the main floor, so we can take advantage of that view from all angles, escaping the heat on some days and chasing the sun on others.

With a deck comes maintenance issues. On Monday, I talked about the lower deck redo; and as I type, Steve is dropping the hot tub back into position. Workers were here on Tuesday and Wednesday to put the first two layers of coating on the deck, and the finishing coat is scheduled for Monday.

Here’s layer one:

Wow that’s really white.

And layer two:

Look at that shine. At least the color is a good match.

While the upper deck didn’t have any structural issues, the handrails were looking a little sad. I did clean them up on a sunny day back in March, and the Mr went ahead and gave them a good power washing. Unfortunately, they had some chips and rust. Someone’s quick and dirty attempt to keep them looking nice with a coat of paint over the chips and loose paint had resulted in lumpy rails in need of some help. So the Mr and his dad got busy.

The Mr’s parents have been in town off and on since early June for Sweet Miss’ graduation. So Papa Larry needed a project. He decided to sand all of the handrails. He sanded, and sanded, and then sanded some more.

Then, my sweet, handsome man, taped and painted miles and miles of railings. Last weekend, we did a little happy dance when the Mr finished up and those long lines of white look GOOD.

Here they are in all their crisp, clean glory.

Bright and shiny by the Master Suite.

Looking good by the outdoor table flanking the living room.

Level one, level two and all those stairs look great.

I’m looking forward to all this deck work wrapping up. Maybe I’ll get a chance to try-out the hot tub and watch the stars. The Perseids meteor shower is on August 11.

While one job is closing, another one is just beginning. Work on the siding is scheduled to start in August. Last week, we had a fellow come and check the walls for moisture. Our siding may look horrible in some places, but at least it hasn’t gotten in the walls.

Any big jobs coming to a close at your house? Do you get that feeling of satisfaction/relief when you can mark one thing off the to-do list?

Deck Redo/Redoux

Sometimes things look good from afar. From the meadow, it’s a nice looking deck.

Everything looks fine from here.

Even much closer, it doesn’t look too shabby.

But I’ve shared with you before that the deck has some troubles. Standing water is never a good thing.

And remember this lovely view of the soffit?

I’m no expert, but even I know that’s trouble when large pieces of your house start falling off.

The Mr has done his share of remodeling. When we were first married, he got stuck at home during a snowstorm and turned a full wall into a pony wall, while I was at work. This deck  job was one he was willing to let someone else tackle.

So began the process of finding a company to do it. The first guy was a referral from the siding people who wouldn’t repair the siding until the deck was repaired. He came in at one price and then came back with a price significantly higher. Maybe the fellow was thinking there’d be trouble, or maybe he didn’t really want the job. The next guy thought it was a larger job than he could tackle. Finally, I was talking house woes with a lady at Bible study, and she said her husband’s company did jobs like that…they also do siding.

The next thing you know, Svein from CDK Construction was out here with his camera and tools measuring and checking and figuring out what needed to be done. Thankfully the water damage was limited to the lower deck. The upper deck appears to be in good shape and properly sloped so water drains away from the house–I’m thankful for small blessings. Then came the bid, the acceptance, and the waiting.

I know I’ve been whining about the wet weather this spring and early summer. Not only does the gloom keep me inside, but it can delay those outdoor jobs. Well, our new buddy Steve from CDK showed up on the 5th of July and has been working steadily through the hot, the cold, the wet, and the foggy. Let’s take a look at his work.

First he had to bump up and support the hot tub and then remove the deck coating to reveal the underlying wood. That discoloration isn’t a good sign. Then he had to remove the bad wood.

This totally freaks me out. Steve put a board up across the top of the stairs to keep the dog and other curious people out, but that hot tub is floating a long ways up. Here’s another view.

This is just not the way things are supposed to be.

And take a look next to the stairs–we’ve got trouble.

Apparently there was more damage in this area than expected. When Steve was pulling things apart, he found that the lower deck had been repaired at one time. Unfortunately, water had gotten in between the layers of decking and caused more problems.

At this point we went on vacation for a week. Thank goodness I missed the part where Steve removed the wood around the bottom of the stairs to the hot tub. Stairs to empty space is the kind of thing that would give me nightmares. But we came home to progress–blessed progress.

Now that’s a good looking soffit, and none of it is on the ground.

And check out the view from the other side with some good looking corner action.

And now the stairs descend to solid wood.

And here we are today (or last night really).

I wished I’d taken a picture Thursday night when we got home, before the deck was all covered in protective sheeting to keep the moisture out. It looked really good with all that clean, solid wood.

Now we’re waiting on the deck coating. It was scheduled for Friday, but it rained; rescheduled for today, but it rained. Are you noticing a pattern? There’s 0% chance of rain Tuesday and Wednesday, so I may have updates soon.

The girls may even get to use the hot tub before the summer is over.

How’s your summer going? Any big renovation projects? Do stairs to nowhere give you bad dreams?

Inspiration Seattle Style

Sometimes you just have to live a little.

Me and the Mr were invited to a party a few weeks ago down on the waterfront, and we decided to splurge and book a night at The Edgewater.

Growing up in Seattle, the Edgewater has always been a place of legend. The Beatles fished from its balcony. It had to be the essence of cool.

When we checked into this landmark hotel, I was shocked. With a smile plastered on my face, I walked around in amazement.

Think Northwest lodge meets modern chic and explodes. I love how they’ve totally embraced an over-the-top, whimsical style and thought I’d share a little with you.

Check out the columns disguised as trees in the lobby. They even have segmented branches. It’s a little creepy, but so cool.

The welcome area is flanked by a huge fireplace and a fantastic view of the water.

Wouldn’t you like to cozy up here?

And you can’t help but laugh when you see these chairs.

I feel like we’re in the woods, not some fancy-schmanzy downtown hotel.

Our room was also a surprise. We had bears, lots and lots of bears.

Check out the footstool.

And a bear on our wooden bed.

They certainly weren’t afraid of their theme. I really like the texture of the birch wallpaper (above), and this stick-trimmed armoire is very fun. Make sure you notice the picture of the salmon-catching bear in the background.

While this is all a bit crazy, check out the view of the waterfront from our window.

What’s Seattle without its ferry boats?

It was a beautiful day, and we decided to head off to the party early. The elevators were a bit more in keeping with the chic uptown vibe. The back wall changed from undersea to panoramic views and the walls had these great LED branches.

The restaurant was next to the sculpture park, so we took time to walk through and enjoy the evening.

We saw lots of families out for a stroll or settling in for a picnic dinner. Next time the girls want to go the Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle, I may suggest a walk through the park beforehand.

We had a great time at the party with old friends and new; and the next morning, the Mr got up to check out the view to find this:

Our new neighbors

We still had a few hours to play hooky from real life, so we went out to breakfast at the restaurant downstairs. The Edgewater is built on a pier, so you feel like you’re right on the water–I guess because you are–and the view of the  Sound and the Olympics are amazing.

With all that woodsy, lodgy feel, I liked the mix of sleek, modern they threw in. At breakfast this really long, steel pendant light hung from the ceiling.

And puddled on the table, but did you notice the tree paneling behind me.

The hallways leading to the rooms were also a nice mix with gorgeous, contemporary black-and-white photos of mountains, lakes, forests, and flowers mounted against that rustic birch wallpaper. I loved this look.

The bathrooms are another example of a great way to use both rustic and sleek with stone on one side with a metal and black vanity on the other.

I can’t leave without showing you one last thing. How do you make a stump glitzy? Why cover it in gold, of course. It’s so goofy, I can’t help but laugh.

The Edgewater was a lovely place to visit, but it’s always nice to come home. Speaking of home, we’ve been in Eastern Washington at Lake Chelan for the week and just got home last night. It was fun to visit a warm, dry place, especially when I woke to thunder and a torrential downpour this morning. But we have lots of exciting stuff going on around here.

The heating guys arrived at 7:30 am, and the siding guys are busy measuring and testing for moisture. Our trusty deck guy was here to greet us when we arrived home. Just to give you a hint of what’s been going on, I’ll share this photo…

It’s what I like to call a UFH: Unidentified Flying Hot tub.

So what’s been going on at your house? Any repairs/renovations? Have you gone on vacation or stayed somewhere unusual?

Riotous Color

Summer has finally come to Washington. The berries are ripe, the farmers markets are flourishing, and the flowers are blooming with abandon.

I have been looking at these gorgeous hanging baskets with longing.
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And look at these lovelies.
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While I love the color and beauty a line of hanging baskets would lend to our deck, I have visions of a floral mace crashing through our windows. That is not a price I’m willing to pay.

At the FFA plant sale each year, the girls try to talk me into buying beautiful baskets. In the past it’s been the shady front porch and now it’s the wind holding me back.

Earlier this month, I was chasing tomato plants around the deck on a stormy day.
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Next year when we have a place cleared for the garden, perhaps I can add some color with hanging baskets set down low in concrete planters.

This is a look I could totally go for.

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The best part is these aren’t fancy flowers. These are just plain old-fashioned petunias breaking out in riotous color.

I think I’ll have to give them a try.

How are you adding color to your world? Do you like old-time flowers or trendy new blooms in the latest colors?

Ruby Delight

This is the first time in 21 years I haven’t had a plum tree to climb. I am missing my little orchard with its sweet-scented blossoms in spring and buckets of fruit in late summer.

While I had to say goodbye to my plums, apples, pear, nectarine, and kiwis, we did have a few berry bushes that the Mr transplanted for me. And this bit of sunshine.

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When my sweet, handsome man goes shopping with Baby Girl, you never know what they’ll come home with. At its worst it could be a three-foot wide skeleton ghost; at its best a crabapple tree and a currant bush. We left the tree, but the bush is certainly thriving.

Unfortunately, I’m not the only one to notice. The birds had been feasting by the time I got around to picking these little ruby gems.

Now comes the question: what do you do with currants? They’re really tiny, full of seeds, and not that tasty.

But I grew these silly things, and so by golly we’re going to eat them. The way my broccoli and tomato plants were rolling around the deck last week in the wind, this could be the sum total of my harvest.

So I went to my favorite online recipe source Tastespotting.com. I love how you can type in some obscure ingredient like lemon balm or purple potatoes and it’ll come back with dozens of pictures of foods each with their own story. Pictures, food, stories, how could I go wrong?

While they had some lovely treats, I decided I’d also give Pinterest a try, and there I hit the jackpot. Now I do a mean job in the kitchen, but I can’t stretch one cup of currants into five, so I had to limit my choice of recipes.

So I decided on tasty French Popsiclesand and an oh so fab Italian Dinner with just a sprinkling of currants in each.

I’ve made “healthy” Popsicles in the past that my kids have refused to eat–these in no way resembled them. And the chicken dinner was divine.

I’m still amazed at how I can swap recipes with people from around the world. Last year, I made beet pancakes from Russia ( much to my families chagrin) just because I really liked the crazy translation. The recipe says to serve these pancakes with lust (perhaps they meant passion?). With that recommendation, I had to try them.

Now that my cup of currants is gone, I can hope my blueberry crop survives the birds. Maybe some shiny streamers will scare them off.

Next month we will be enjoying mountains of wild blackberries. And I will dream of next year, and the little fruit trees we will plant.

What are you harvesting from you backyard these days? Have you ever eaten currants?

Country Road

Tall trees–leafy, green branches reaching for the sky–line the driveway to our home. It’s like we are entering a magical world of our own. I can’t help wondering what Anne Shirley would have named our road. Instead of her “white way of delight” maybe she would have called it “the green way of wonder”. My family would think I’m crazy if I started calling it that, but I love how the trees welcome me home. I’m not a big John Denver fan, but he captures how I feel when he sang “country road take me home to the place I belong….” Is there a special place you reach when you say I’m home?