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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Garden Wall


Finally, the wall is actually nearing completion! I'm sure that most of you have no idea what I am talking about. You old-school blog followers may remember a certain wall that I was preparing to build that I wrote about May 30, 2008. No, there's no error here. I did say May of 2008! That day, I managed to remove the fence, gate, small trees, and roots that were in my way and set a concrete footing for my garden wall. It took all day, but I made it.

Not long after this, I did start my wall. I reused some cinder blocks that my work had removed from their building. For fancy-pants purposes I will call it 'reclaimed block.' Just trying to spice up the house listing a bit, you know? The problem was that I decided to stagger the blocks for structural strength. This means that I would either need some half blocks or I would need to use my handy-dandy masonry saw to cut some full-size blocks in half. Too bad I have no such saw. And, as it turns out half blocks are not that easy to come by any more. So, the wall got put off and put off and put off some more. I had laid about 25 blocks or so and got it as far as I could with the material I had at the time.

In light of getting our house ready to market, the back burner project was moved up to the forefront again. I found some half bricks at Glenstone Block and picked up all the rest of the needed supplies at Lowe's. All the bricks are now laid and I even got the door frame built and inserted. This can be seen in the photo. The next step is to concrete up the sides to give it a stucco look. Everything seen in the photo will be covered and then we'll paint it the desired color with masonry paint. Lastly, I'll install the heavy wooden door that isn't built yet. I just got the wood for it tonight thanks to my awesome father-in-law, Larry Bales. Thanks, Larry!

The concrete work will begin on Monday since that's the start of a 3-day stretch of good weather. I'll post pictures when it's completed.

Afternoon Adventures


Last Thursday, I dropped off Jacob's bike at his school in the morning when I dropped him off. By doing so, Jodi, Lyric, and I were able to ride our bikes when school let out and "pick him up." Of course, Lyric didn't ride his bike but instead caught a ride in the toddler seat on my bike. The trip was 3 1/2 miles one way which isn't too bad at all. The only downside is that we live on the opposite side of downtown from Jacob's school. So, it's no leisurely ride through the countryside. It's an urban landscape no matter which route we take.

The flip-side of that coin is that if we want to stop somewhere for fun we have a seemingly infinite amount of choices. We pass Park Central Library, several coffee shops, all the fun downtown restaurants, art galleries, two movie theaters, the history museum, the Family Y, the Discovery Center, etc. The list goes on and on. So the possibilities are endless.

For our first ride we stopped and ate an early dinner at possibly the smallest eat-in restaurant in Springfield, Chicago CheeseSteak Company. As always, click on the photos to make them larger, but don't expect this restaurant to get much bigger. It seats a total of four customers which works out since that's how many of us there are. From the photo you can tell that this restaurant isn't a building at all. The walls on both sides are simply the outside walls of the buildings next door. It was literally built into an alley about 7 feet wide. The food was delicious. The boys split an all-beef hot dog, Jodi tried the CheeseSteak, and I had a BBQ Beef sandwich. Everyone left satisfied.

I think that we'll try and make a thing of it and make the trip at least once a week and stop somewhere new every time.

P.S. Upon reviewing my posted blog, I just noticed that the address for the restaurant is 319 and 1/2. Funny.

Over the Hedge and Through the Woods

Jodi and I have decided to get our house ready for sale. We've been working for years now on the renovating and we've come a long way, however most of the work that we've put into the house is in the house as opposed to out. We've somewhat neglected the exterior while beautifying the interior. The result: a house that people judge from the outside and then marvel at the inside because they "had no idea" it was so nice. While we do enjoy the oohs and aahs from guests we receive after they tour the interior we can't help but notice the lack of these noises from people as they walk up or as they leave. We're afraid that when these guests aren't our friends but rather potential buyers that they may not even make it up to the front porch if we don't drastically alter the appearance of our front yard.

Our realtor gave us some good advice when she told us that we need to work on curb appeal. She said, "No offense, but you need to cut your shrubs." She was right. We had let our hedges grow to enormous heights on purpose. We enjoyed the privacy that they provided. We could be out in our yard and none of our neighbors could tell. Unfortunately, she pointed out that a lot of potential buyers won't even stop the car when pulling up to a yard like ours out of fear. She made mention how police will think that there are drugs being made or sold in properties that are hidden like ours, and often neighbors will think the same. I think our neighbors know better, but I don't doubt that others won't.

So, the hedge got a trim. It was a lot of work. It took me all day, but it was worth it. We really don't care for the fact that we feel like everyone is looking at us, but we'll get used to it. I feel like a bit of a recluse in saying that, and maybe I am a little bit. I don't know.

Meanwhile, Jodi painted the porch and it looks wonderful! When we bought the house the porch was rotting out at the ends of the boards right where the staircase met the porch. We knew that if we waited too long we were going to come home to find our mailman had fallen through to the ground below. We didn't want to dispose of any mailman bodies, so my friend Mike and I cut out the rotten boards back to the next floor joist and replaced them with boards my friend Jake gave me from a job he did. Thanks Mike! Thanks Jake! We also replaced the beam on that end with a really heavy rough-cut hickory beam that my father-in-law gave us. He spotted the rot when we first bought the place and anticipated that I would need it. Thanks, Larry!

Then, I tore out the rotten porch railing that looked inviting enough to sit on but was really a deadly trap set by previous owner's neglect. It came out really easy and I replaced it with my own custom designed porch railing built with all treated lumber. We still have to paint the new porch railing white, but it already looks a ton better than it did.

Our list of things to do to spruce up our home's exterior isn't terribly long, but it'll take a lot of work. I'll keep my blog posted with all the new high-impact projects we take on.

Poo Poo Paper


A few weeks ago, I ran across this product in a unique little shop downtown during Art Walk. I was intrigued with the product for obvious reasons. I was fascinated that someone decided to find something useful to do with elephant poop. I can't imagine having such a crappy job. It would stink to work in such conditions. Sorry, but I couldn't resist the puns.

I love that they have made a novelty out of it. Although, I can't imagine that they can compete financially with other paper products without the novelty working for them. And what great fun it is. The second photo is one I took with my cell phone from the back of one of the products. If you can't see it well on your monitor then, as with all the pictures I post, click on them to make them larger. The cute little pictures depicting, in simple terms, the process in which they go about making paper from elephant feces is a hoot. The thing that I can't get past is how to get poop sanitized. Poop is one of those things that just seems dirty through and through. I don't doubt they do sanitize the product, but I just can't imagine what was going through the person's head who came up with this process. Was paper products the intended goal of the person who first started messing with it or was it just the byproduct of some intended prank? Maybe we'll never know.

Presidential Address


Usually when the President of the United States makes a statement on live television, a vast majority of Americans want to stop what they are doing and listen. The sit down speeches usually come during prime-time and wind up popping up on virtually every local broadcast channel. People like me, who rarely watch broadcast television, have little trouble avoiding the monologues from the faces of those whom my grandchildren might spot on some new denomination of dollar if we haven't gone to a one-world currency by then. Albeit a rare occasion, I do sometimes catch the highlights on the evening news or an online news report. I like to keep up on what is going on in the political arena. However, I also attempt to avoid the massive amount of jargon that accompanies the few informational bits that I would like to hear. So, there is a balancing act going on with my attention span during such addresses to the nation.

I just got notice earlier today of a planned Presidential Address for next Tuesday. It will take place at noon, Eastern Standard Time, instead of during the evening when the majority of Americans will be watching. The reason for this is that he isn't addressing the majority of Americans. He's addressing students. Specifically, kindergarten students through twelfth grade. To my knowledge, and my quick search of the Internet, I don't think that a President has ever done such a thing. The Department of Education has urged schools across the nation to allow all students to watch the planned address. In addition to being urged to allow students to watch the 20 to 30-minute live video of Obama's speech, faculties are also being given lesson plans to accompany the video, lesson plans that were drawn up by the Obama administration.

Upon finding out that Jacob's school intends to show the video, Jodi and I decided to opt Jacob out. He will instead be elsewhere with all the other concerned parents' children doing a different prepared civics lesson.

All of this happened this afternoon and I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything about it. However, the news reports are coming out now. People all over are taking issue with the proposed address. The White House ensures everyone that the Obama's speech is simply to encourage students to stay in school and to set goals and so forth, but Conservatives nationwide are calling it what it really is: a usurping of power by the Executive Branch of our Federal Government. They are intentionally showing this speech during school hours to side-step parents' involvement and influence, bypassing parents' right and power to educate our own children on matters of politics, morality, and ethics. By creating lesson plans, they are undermining our state's power and authority to comprise their own educational systems. Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russel said, "As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education. It gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq." And I happen to agree with him.

In the last nine months, we've seen the federal government seize control over our banking system and the automotive industry while attempting to gain regulatory control over our nation's health care. We've seen the largest debt accumulated in a single Presidential administration. And now, President Obama thinks that he can just bypass me and get to my kids' minds? He thinks that he can go live when I'm elsewhere and spill his eloquent tongue all over the place to create a positive image of himself to all the children in America? I don't think so.

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