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Monday, July 29, 2013

Stone-Look Concrete Walkway

We have lived at our home for 20 years.  We built it ourselves and being young and agile at the time, we never thought much about maintenance down the road.

Stuff wears out.  Like our young agile bodies.  But the house still needs to be kept up.  As we update I'm going for maintenance free so I don't have to paint every other year as my body gets older and older and less agile.

The weather takes a toll on cedar decks and walkways and it was time to paint for a quick fix (like the year before that and the year before that) or rip the small walkway out and do better.

We ripped it out and did better.

Pretend you see a whole wood walkway still there.  Brawn is not on the same schedule as me and my camera, so when he wants to start on a project, he does.

If you have been reading Bliss Ranch for a while you know my least favorite thing to do is paint.  I don't like painting outdoors anymore than indoors.  But as you can see, the cedar color of the post on the left was in need, as was touch up on the spindles and white gate to the right.


They were especially going to need to be painted after Brawn finished the concrete walkway he was making to match the landscaping stones.  Who could have peeling paint next to something new and looking good?

No that is not my hairy leg.

Every bag of concrete is approximately one faux stones worth, and each bag is approximately $2.00 on sale.  We used quick set concrete.  No mold was used, just a man and his trowel to shape and form the way he wanted.

There is approximately $40.00 worth of walkway now in my yard.  Much cheaper than a poured walk.


This is his work station.

He used empty sheet rock buckets, a drill with a mixing attachment, the broom part was just laying there and so was a jug of something that likely was on it's way to the trash.


He mixed, poured, troweled, and cut in the edges to prevent the stones from cracking in the winter.  He had no rhyme to what he was doing, and said he was making it up as he went.


When he was done, clouds moved in to rain on his new concrete.  He covered it with some plastic which bunched up and stuck to the wet concrete.  But this was not an OH NO, it was an OH YES

The bunched up plastic gave the new concrete a textured look, like stone would have.


Brawn put rocks from the surrounding landscape on each faux stone and used concrete stain to color it and mimic those real rocks.  He has four colors of concrete stain.

If you look you can see the rocks on each stone - he did a pretty good job copying the colors - they are hard to see.


After the stain has dried, a wet look concrete lacquer goes on.

I will have more on the staining process in a future post with walkway #2.


The lacquer dries fast, and when it's dry you can start painting the posts and railing.  

Unless you are me, then you wait a week because you hate painting and then pick the hottest day you can to start.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway

You do the whole gate and then only do one part of the rail and spindles because you are going to melt painting them when it's 99* out.

Quick set concrete stones

You also debate on putting long shots of the walkway up because you don't want to show where you stopped painting the railing (and secretly think you may never come back to painting it). 

Quick Set Concrete Stones

Look at the nice freshly painted white post and spindles, next to those fine looking concrete stones.

No those are not my feet but they are not Brawns either, and those ones are not hairy.

Concrete Stone Walkway

I have repeatedly told Brawn how much I love how it turned out.  Bonus on the maintenance thing, the walkway will never have to be painted like the cedar did.

And if I am lucky I won't be the one to repaint the spindles and rail.

That is if I ever finish those in the first place.


Mo is on the left side sticking his doggy face in the picture because that spot is one of his favorite places to lay outside now - the concrete is shaded there and stays nice and cool.  Sure wish he knew how to paint and I'd lay in the shade and watch him, then that part of the rail above on the left would also be bright white.

Coming soon the playhouse/potting shed/Brawn's work supply shed/ gets a makeover with walkway #2.

Stone Walkway Featured at:
Photobucket




Made in a Day




Stepping on over to link up at:
Catch as Catch Can @MyRepurposedLife
Made You Look @MadeInADay
Freedom Fridays @MyTurnForUs

Tutorials, Tips & Tidbits @ StoneGable
Show Me Extraordinary @ 36thAvenue 
Share Your Cup Thursday with Mrs. Olson 
Transformation Thursday @TheShabbyCreekCottage
Thursdays Are Your Days @ 52Mantels
Hookin Up with HOH @ HouseOfHepworths
Treasure Hunt Thursday @ FromMyFrontPorchToYours
 Open House Party Thursday @NoMinimalistHere 
Homework Wednesday @TheEveryDayHome 
Wow Us Wednesday @SavvySouthernStyle 
Whats It Wednesday @IvyandElephants 
Time To Sparkle @TheGunnySack 
The Scoop @CedarHillRanch 
Project Inspired @CupcakesandCrinoline 
Show and Share @SouthernLovely 
Sizzle into Summer @DIYbyDesign 
Tuesdays Treasures @MyUncommonSliceofSuburbia

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Eley Rapid Reel Hose Reel

It was time.  After many years of marriage, several new homes, and a million plastic hose winding reels, I knew I had to find "the one".  The One hose reel that I wouldn't have to replace every couple years that could reel my hose in effortlessly. 

I needed the Eley Rapid Reel

The Mother of All Hose Reels


Requirements:  
It had to be sturdy, which means not move when I pull the hose out, or need to be held in place when I reeled it in.
Made to face the elements of Minnesota, where part of the year it's a God forsaken land of frozen tundra.
Tough as nails -  because I roll up hoses like a lumberjack lumbers wood.  (Ha!  Not really, but that sounds funny).  

Brawn installed our new Eley Rapid Reel with me taking photos of the process from the window in the comfort of the nice air conditioned house.  He never even knew I was there, all nice and sweat free.

We have four outdoor faucet areas, just about every year at least one cheap plastic hanger or winder would break and need to be replaced.  If I just would of invested in Rapid Reel years ago I would of been money ahead. 

 This is the next spot to get updated with a Rapid Reel 
and it will be installed at the right angle so I can actually reel it in.

We have spent more than our fair share on plastic hose boxes like this in our garage;

I wouldn't mind replacing this space hog with a rapid reel
Surely there was something better out there, so I took to the internet where I spent a good amount of time researching my options.  Eley has hose reels, carts, free standing ones, and accessories like hoses.  Wonder if they have a hose that really IS kink free?

I'll have to research that.

You would be surprised to learn how much time I spend researching the best products for my money.  I'm sort of obsessed and probably need a support group for this addiction.  Heaven forbid the refrigerator ever goes out, it would take me a month to read about every single fridge out there.

The front hose area that I am the boss of.
I quickly zeroed in on the Rapid Reel after reading all the excellent reviews it received.  

Recall we have ducks and chickens, and the thing with ducks is they like to be in water.  

Ducken Water Connection Area
*Caution-long sentence in your future:  So our front yard hose is forever pulled out across the yard and driveway to connect to another long hose that stretches out discretely hid along a fence, into the duck pen where my daughter fills a cast iron bathtub so Clyde, Clementine and Hazel can swim. 

Because they are worth it.  To her.


That's way too much hose pulling for me, that's why they are her ducks not mine.  But when I go out to water my flowers, I sort of go into a rage if I have to disconnect my hose from hers and pull it back up by the house.  (Ok, I don't *sort* of go into a rage, I do go into a rage and I start mumbling things to myself like "bless her little duck loving heart for not rolling up this hose").

And that all happens because no one ever wants to reel up the front yard hose to begin with.

Till now.


Rapid Reel installation was a snap, especially from my vantage point in the air conditioned house, and it reels a hose in with ease, 150 feet of it to be exact.  The reel is made of a tough aluminum alloy and can be mounted a variety of ways to fit your preference.  

Ours is model 1041 and I have yet to go out and find the hose not rolled up, no one whining "why do I have to do it" - this reel is some sort of a magical behavioral tool - Bonus!


Look at that solid, sturdy, contraption of circular motion.  
I could kiss it!  

The sidewalk and porch are slated for new cement, if you look at the top left of the photo above you can see a long crack in the concrete.  So for now the reel is solidly mounted right to the side of the porch where it made the most sense for ease of use.


And check out those stone pavers that yours truly laid down herself to protect my precious tender feet from the sharp rocks every time I had to turn on the faucet.  

I'm such a princess.  Not.  I did walk out in the 100 degree heat to snap that photo. 





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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Christmas in July Party Features



I've been late to a blog party a time or two.

I've even shown up to a party on the wrong day in real life. 
Yeah, that was reallllyyyy emmmbarrrrasssssingggg.......

And forgetting about features for the link party that I co-hosted with the wonderful Angie at Knick of Time and Betsy at My Salvaged Treasures, well ummm, yes I forgot that too.  Bad Bliss.

I will make myself wear the cone of shame.  Again.

Apparently I am a habitual-party-feature-forgetter because last time I co-hosted a holiday link party I forgot the feature part too!  What the heck Bliss? 

I'll just steal this photo from my own post from the last time it happened, and try to be good from now on. 



Thank you to everyone for linking up.  I've got three links to feature and they are all projects I can see myself making.  I have a love hate relationship with feature picking..... I love picking my fav's, and I hate that I can't pick fifty.

Mel from Mellywoods Mansion transformed a rubber rain boot into Santa's boot.  I love it - it's cute, simple enough I can do it, and there is no mistaking whose boot it is.



How about some sweater trees?  The possibilities are endless for these, but I like the simple sage green and the button details.

Tammy from One More Time Events can show you how to make trees from sweaters.  And that's the part I like the best; just like Santa's boot, I can make these.

A Minnesota sweetheart, Laurel from Chipping With Charm, made the best advent tree ever out of vintage baubles.  And she kept it in line with the reason for the season.


(This is an appropriate time to say in my very best Buddy the Elf voice - "I know her!".)  Yes it's true I have met Laurel, which means she might be able to pick me out of a lineup.

That's the three features, but now because I'm a rebel I have just oneeeeee moreeeee....

Fiona from Just Paint It White didn't want to let me down by not coming to the party, so not only did she create something I love, she basically dedicated her post to talking smack about me. 

Fiona and I go way back, back to my very first week of blogging.  You know when bloggers get huge and famous, well I always joke with them not to forget the little people.  It has nothing to do with blog size, but Fiona is my little people, I will never forget her.  Too bad I'm not huge and famous then millions would also flock to meet Fiona (sorry 'bout that Fio).

Fiona took apart a veggie crate and made this star with Merry Christmas in different languages.  Great reuse for a little crate, and I love that she used different languages.  Not too bad an entry from a lady talking smack about me!

I will be good.
I will be good.
I will be good.




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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bliss's Beat the Heat Whipped Cream Topping

Sometimes a Bliss experiment turns out right.

Like my Fruit in a Jar.
I usually make fruit pizza, so why not put it in jars right?
Everyone else does.

I bet you're thinking 'yeah so what Bliss, I've seen fruit in a jar a million times' and you're asking yourself what makes my fruit in a jar different than any body elses?
Heck if I know, I've never had theirs, so let me tell you how I make mine......

It's all in the cream.

The family looked at the jars and said "what's this?".  The tone they used made me think they didn't mean the food inside the jars,  I think it was more like "what's with the jars?" with an undertone from the males of "you crazy woman".

The crust.
I don't use a cookie crust like the original recipe calls for.  Too sweet and crumbly for my taste.  I use The Dough-boy croissants in a can. 2 tubes for 12 jars.  I lightly sprinkle it with powdered sugar before I bake it, not too much, just enough so it doesn't taste like bread.

Hand shape the croissants out flat in a pan, cookie sheet size is fine, oven time a bit less than what's on the tube, and watch them so they don't get over done.  Take them out when light golden brown, cover to keep moist and let them cool, then slice them up into crouton size - I used a pizza cutter.

Fruit.
Start with fresh fruit.  The kind of fruit doesn't matter, get what your family likes.


For these jars I used 7 fruits:
Mango, Kiwi, Nectarine, Banana, Apple, Strawberries, and Blackberries.  
I tossed the banana in fresh squeezed lime juice so they wouldn't get brown.

In the past I have also used oranges, pineapple, blueberries and grapes.  It's all good.

The Cream.
According to my husband the most important part is the whipped cream.  Outside in the heat, even sitting in ice, regular hand-whipped-honest-to-goodness-whipped-cream breaks down and soon you are left with fruit in thick sweet milk.

Make these ahead, and chill in the fridge first if you are taking them outside in the summer.  Outside I kept ours on ice for a couple hours before we dug in.

I had to come up with a cream recipe to please more than just myself.
Not too sweet, had to have the real whip cream flavor, couldn't break down under the weight of the fruit or the days heat, and had to taste good to the toughest whip cream critics at my house.






Bliss's Beat the Heat Whipped Cream topping:
1 container of cool whip
Real Whipping Cream that you have to get beaters out to make
1 Brick of Cream Cheese
Powder Sugar to taste and add as your are whipping
Mix the softened cream cheese and cool whip till smooth with a hand mixer.  Then start adding heavy whipping cream.  I'd say for the 12 jars I probably added 4 cups.  I didn't really measure, just stuck my finger in till it tasted like whipped cream and not cool whip.
Whip it till it's sturdy.

The cool whip and cream cheese give it a smooth but firm texture, and how much powdered sugar you use is a personal preference.  We like to taste the cream so I make mine just slightly sweet so it doesn't over power the sweetness of the fruit.

To put the jars together:
I dropped in the crouton sized croissant crust pieces, fruit, cream, repeat, ending with cream topped with fruit and croissant pieces.  It was light, yummy, and importantly, it held up outside in the heat.

One son liked it so much he took an extra home with him.
The one in the blue ball jar.
I sent him a text letting him know I want to keep the blue jar so bring it back some time.

Think I'll ever see it again?

 Simple strawberry & blueberry trifle with blueberry pound cake
and Bliss's Beat the Heat Whip Cream
Keep cool and your whip cream too!





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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Christmas in July Link Party


Sleigh bells ring are 'ya link'n



There is no snow flakes at this Christmas in July party and I'm pretty happy about that!

Monday, July 15 - Saturday, July 20
Link up to 3 holiday ideas, whatever it might be
With me, BlissRanch, or Angie @KnickofTime, &  Betsy @MySalvagedTreasures

Hint - I only make my Christmas treats at Christmas, but I like to eat your treats all year long!  I will be paying particular attention to things I can make as gifts, edible or otherwise.  Crafts, junk turned to treasures, pieces of vintage Christmas, you name it.

It's fine with the party hostesses if you don't have something new to share, remind us of something you made in the past (caramels and fudge sound good right now).



If you missed my last post, here is my Christmas in July project......

Be a deer and read about these cute sleigh pullers {here}.

And Angie was running around with scissors - I'm telling her mother - but look at the cute book page garland she made....

Grab your scissors and stop over at Knick of Time.

Betsy had a paper project too.  And paper comes from trees and logs, so my deer could be made into Angie's or Betsy's project right?

Check out this vintage sheet music tree Betsy made.  
I will be making some as gifts, I love it!  
I should probably start now.

Betsy put the whole frame together too over at MySalvagedTreasures


So whatcha got?
  
Put on your winter parka, 
plop an ice block in front of the fan, 
and get your Christmas in July going!



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Friday, July 12, 2013

Log Reindeer...in July

Two months ago there was snow in my yard.  We had the winter that never wanted to end.  Then we had the monsoon season, or at least it seemed like it with days of rain.

Bliss-Ranch.com Log Reindeer

So now that summer and beautiful weather has arrived, lets have;  
because when it's hot outside 
having my yard turn into a giant sno-cone doesn't seem all that bad.

There is one project that I start for the holidays well before the snow flies.  Every year Brawn and I make log reindeer for family and friends.  Brawns Uncle Tony was the inspiration about 20 years ago.  He made fairly good size deer then strung lights on the antlers and one year he made some small ones for us to hang on the tree.

Uncle Tony's Mini Deer Ornament
That started my obsession with making them as gifts, plus we have plenty of the raw material laying around.

Future Reindeer
One Christmas Eve some "deer" friends of ours went to church and while they were gone we implemented operation "Not Tonight Deer".  The covert operation involved quietly placing "Oh Deer" and "Yes Deer" on their walk way to welcome them when they arrived home.  Brawn and I thought we were pretty darn funny.


Over the years we have made lots of Rudolphs, and every one looks different.  The newest ones were made for each of the Grand kids with their names.

No I do not have a grandson named Rudolph.

Log Reindeer

 Our original deer had big wiggly eyes, but those didn't hold up so well in winter, and neither did their faux white fur tails.  And more than a few red noses have smashed to the ground.

Log Reindeer

Now we make most of their body parts out of wood.
Brawns in charge of the main body, tails and ears, I do eyes, antlers, legs and finishing touches.

Log Reindeer

They get a coat of glitter so they sparkle in the snow and some get jute with bells, some get scarves.

Log Reindeer
 The scarf on this deer was an old knit hat with pom poms that I cut up.

Antlers are usually better looking, 
but there are mosquitoes out in antler making country right now.


Log Reindeer
These ones are out to pasture.  Winter is hard on deer.  The one on the left is bark-less - Brawn made it that way.  These will get all cleaned up with new noses and scarves, fresh antlers, missing legs replaced, and they will line our walkway in December.

Log Reindeer
 The deer Uncle Tony made had noses that would light up.
Ours do not.

The Christmas in July party starts on Monday the 15th, so I hope you'll stop back in and link up something festive with Angie, Betsy and I.   Till then, stop over and see what Angie at Knick Of Time and Betsy at My Salvaged Treasure have created.  I'll give you a hint.... I am pinning both and making both in December.

 As for my Christmas in July Reindeer, it will go live at our oldest son's home in December.

Log Reindeer Bliss-Ranch.com





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