Duluth, North Shore of Lake Superior

Since I haven't finished a project I am working on, and can't even finish my laundry, I decided to take a vacation in my mind.  I went back to May when we took the two youngest on a four day trip to Duluth, and the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Shore as seen from Split Rock Lighthouse
First of all I have to say after many years of taking 6 kids on trips, it still feels a little out of the ordinary to travel with only two.  For this mom of many taking only two along, it's sort of.... well.... a piece of cake.

The Duluth weather in May can be unpredictable.  We were lucky, it was sweatshirt weather and sunny half the time, but as any history buff knows, Lake Superior can turn in the blink of an eye, often for the worst.

Killer Whale as Seen from Coldstone Creamery booth.
Sometimes the lake even tosses forth a killer whale to a Coldstone Creamery.  This was the first time my two sons and Brawn had been to Coldstone.  Not sure they will remember the ice cream, but the Orca maybe.

View of Split Rock Lighthouse
Most of our travels involve heading out of state to a beach or tropical destination when it's freezing here, so taking the scenic route in Minnesota was a lot of fun for us. 

We headed to Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls and stopped in at everything between Twin Harbors and Minneapolis that looked interesting.

A vivid memory of our last trip to Duluth was having our just about four year old throw a full blown temper tantrum in the train Depot because her siblings left on a second cable car ride and she didn't make it back aboard in time.

The Depot conductor came over to see if she lost a limb, then as politely as he could say it, told me to ask her to stop crying.

I asked.
She screamed louder.
He asked us to leave as her wails echoed through the whole place.
I took her to the restroom as folks stared.
I smiled pleasantly back at them.
If they only knew I was contemplating tying her to the train track with a gag in her mouth. 
Split Rock has a tour about life here in the days when the light house was in use.  I loved going back in time and seeing how they lived.

Gooseberry Falls had these trees along the shore with the roots exposed from the water eroding them.
They were really creepy looking to me, yet interesting.  I kept waiting for a troll to step out from behind one.

There is an upper and a lower falls.

And of course my family wanted to take the hike alllllllll the way around.
With miles of path, some gravel, some boardwalk.
And 10,000 stairs.
Thankfully I had on my most favorite shoes in the whole world.  They were a gift from #2 daughter......

 My all terrain Dansko's.

I'm no hydrologist, but I concluded that the yellow and rust color of the water was due to the fact we were on the Iron Range, and iron ore probably causes this.
I know this because if I leave iron in water, that's what happens.

I'm Einstein I tell 'ya.
At about this point in our walk, while I was enjoying the view, I determined I was approximately half way around, and worried I would starve or pass out from dehydration.
Dansko's don't fail me now.

But I stayed strong, I knew what was down the road......

And there's nothing like a looooonggg hike to work up an appetite and a hankering for pie.

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Vintage Car Patina

My family loves vintage cars.  Of course vintage cars to my boys seems a lot newer to me than what I think of as old cars.   Old cars to me.... are reeeeeallllllllly old cars to them.

Last summer I posted my ideas of how to decorate with the oldies but goodies;
Hot Cars in the Summertime.

This summers post is all about the patina.  How the weathered boys of summer really look.  The ones that have been around the block a time or two.... and it shows.

I savor everything about old cars.....
the chrome details,
the colored leather seats,
the buttons on the radios. 

I enjoy the way some of these vintage vehicles transport my mind to another time.

Like growing up in Southern California, which meant cruising Van Nuys Boulevard - the real-life American Graffiti.

And the patina.

This post is dedicated to the patina on these bad boys of days gone by, and embracing the rust and wear on a well loved body.   (Sort of like a handsome boy I know - circa 1955).

No photo-chop-ing, no photo special effects.

No reason to digitally alter any of these beauties, it's the age, the raw natural wear and tear on them, that makes them appealing. 

Tough old rusty guys

Patina that is classy and flawed

With worn areas that still shine.

Brawn has yet to put his woodworking skills to use on restoring a car.

But something tells me he'd like too.

The real bad boys of summer

The kind who put an antique trunk in the back of a Chevrolet pick up truck and throw down a few beers.... a few A&W Rootbeers.  In a frosty mug of course.

My kind of boys, my very own bad boys of summer.

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Stone-Look Concrete Walkway

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,
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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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). 

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

Stone Look Concrete 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.

Stone Look Concrete Walkway,

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.

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

Stone Walkway Featured at:

Made in a Day

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

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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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

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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