Wood Delivered with Excitement!

The wood for the interior walls and framing were delivered. The events subsequent to the delivery sure brought back memories.

Home Depot gave us the best price so, it was a no brainer – we went purchased from them! Everything was delivered on a semi and unloaded without a problem. The children were so excited to be able to play on the stacks.They do not realize yet, how much work those stacks represent! I’m not gonna tell them either.

The truck turned around to leave and we were all waving. And, then, the unthinkable happened!

If you have not guessed what happened next, look where the front wheels are … doesn’t the dirt look soft? Well, it was!

When we lived in Alabama, we lived in sand. It was a given, that trucks delivering building materials were probably going to get stuck. But, we did not think there would be a problem here in west Texas! Memories, memories, memories!

John got to be very good at helping get trucks (and our 15 passenger van that I got stuck) unstuck. Here is his secret. He had the driver rock forward while he and others put boards as far under the wheels as possible. This trick works also with sheets of cardboard and rocks, You just have to give the tires something to grab on to.

I am thankful to be able to tell you that John’s trick worked even in west Texas.

Goodbye! And, thanks for such a good attitude!

Painted Concrete Floor

For the floor of the basement, we decided to seal and paint the concrete. Our house in Alabama had a clear seal on the basement floor which we liked and it held up well. We chose the same type to use here in west Texas. It is a 2 part epoxy coat which rather than being water based is amide based. This epoxy will stand up better to the wear and tear a large family gives a floor.

After sweeping, sweeping a second time and blowing with a shop vac, the floor was ready. To make it easier to see what had been painted and what was not, we chose not to tint the first coat. So, it went on white. Really bright white!

As with most things in our lives, it was a family affair to paint the floor. How many people does it take to do it? Well, for us it was: 3 to paint, 1 to move the bucket, 5 to watch/play/ provide general comic relief and 1 to photograph. It is a good thing we are a big family!

Now, I know how difficult a white floor is to keep clean and I am so glad we were not stopping here! After drying overnight, the second tinted coat was applied. The late afternoon sun casts shadows that really give the color varying shades. Although you can not tell from the picture, because of the shadows, the floor is all one shade!

While this type of finish can be expensive, it is very durable and practical. We were able to save quite a bit by doing it ourselves. Our supplies purchased included 2 part epoxy (which mixed yielded 2 gallons) to cover two coats on a 1500 sq ft slab, thinner, rollers and pole (we had an old broom handle to use for one) and cost approximately $440.

Oh So Sweet!

I may be biased, but aren’t those grapes beautiful? I wish you could just reach out and pick one, pop it in your mouth and taste the sweetness! There is nothing like tree (or in this case, vine) ripened produce! How about a close up?[Continue Reading]

Puppy Love

Puppy love – isn’t there a song about it?

For us, it is evident whenever our corgi, Sophie, has puppies. They are so cute and lovable! With the litter born Aug. 4th, there are 3 tricolored males and 1 red female. They are now 21 days old and I will be putting an ad in the paper in the next week or two. My ad will read:

Corgi pups, AKC – parents are family pets. Born 8/4. Well socialized. $350. Call…..

Did you notice the “Well socialized” part? That really is important in a puppy’s development. Ask any pet psychiatrist!

Growing up in a family with children brings out their personality and develops their patience. Basically, teaching them skills needed throughout their lives – stomper truck racing and police boat driving (that little girl looks especially suspicious).

Our puppies have many socialization periods throughout the day – supervised of course! The difficult part comes when it is time to say goodbye. But, can you imagine our house if we kept them all?

No puppies were harmed during this or any other socialization period.

Enchiladas, Vegetable & Chicken Variation

Vegetable Enchiladas are a treat meal for us. I am not sure why since they are not difficult to make – it is just one of those meals I do not make often!

But, when I do make vegetable enchiladas, they are made with zucchini and yellow squash from our garden. I bet this is why we don’t have them often – it has to be during the gardening season   ;)   I usually do a combination of the two squashes but either will work.

After having such amazing results with the GAPS diet, I can even put chicken in the vegetable enchilada recipe and eat them! You can either substitute chicken for the whole amount os squash or do a mixture – you can’t go wrong!

If you have been reading for awhile, you know that like having leftovers. The vegetable enchilada recipe is one of those recipes that works well for doubling or tripling but I usually quadruple the recipe – I really like having leftovers!

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What a Week!

As we start a new week, I can not help but look back over the past one. Actually, I am still tired from it and plan to recuperate this week!

August is a big month in our family with 4 birthdays (with 12 mths in the year, you would think things could be spaced a bit better) and our anniversary. To complete the festivities, our 22 yr. old son was visiting for the whole week to help us celebrate! Not all birthdays fell last week, but you sure would think they had with all the fun we had.

Vineyard work is, for all practical purposes, finished until harvest – YEAH! Spraying for leaf hoppers and discing the weeds in the circle were completed. Now, we will continue to check the brix (the sugar content is measured in brix) of the grapes and at the right time they will be harvested.  The desired bricks value is normally determined by the winery to whom the grapes are contracted with.

The wood for the framing of the house will be delivered on Wednesday and it will be exciting to get started on the walls! Once the first floor is completed, our plan is to stucco the entire exterior. Until then, we will paint the basement exterior to prevent any breakdown of the ICF walls. I will be buying the paint and hopefully start painting this week.

Maybe there will not be recuperation time after all. Well, adrenaline, excitement and coffee always get me through! Maybe I should put coffee first :)

ICF Walls Completed!

I am so thankful for coffee and this morning was certainly no exception. I always feel like a new woman after my first cup of the day! We worked until after dark last night and then came home to eat so we had a late night. But, today, the cement truck is coming at 1:00 pm and we have a lot to finish!

As you can see, we had just begun the sixth course of our ICF walls and this course involves a lot of cutting and fitting the forms around the windows and doors.

We are having 5 windows and 1 door but 3 of the windows will eventually be doors. So, we are framing them now and John will frame the bottoms of the doors to support the windows. Once the main floor is constructed, there will be rooms around the lower level for a wine cellar, cheese cave and root cellar. The windows will be removed and doors installed for access to these areas.

If you remember my analogy to legos, the ICF has the tabs that snap together and these must be cut off around the top course for an even wall. The walls looked much like a castle if you can imagine the tabs as crenelations. But, although I am still queen, my crenelations were cut off! The result, a nice level wall ready to pour.  You can see the wood bracing added to the door to support the weight of the concrete as well as, the wood brace over the door. This is to prevent a break out at the cut above the door.

For the pour, we had 3 cement trucks and a pumper truck. I had never seen a pumper truck in action and it was amazing. The cement truck poured concrete into a hopper at the back of the pumper truck. It was then pumped about 40 feet into the air through a hose.

Have you ever had a remote control car? Well, a man stood with what appeared to be a remote control car controller and controlled the hose. John guided the hose around the top of the ICF’s filling the walls with concrete. Three rounds were made to fill a third of the wall at a time.

We will be taking the bracing down Saturday, cleaning the slab and popping chalk lines for the interior walls.

ICF Progress Thurs 8/12

I have been giving step by step progress of our first floor house construction using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). I am truly amazed at how fast the wall go up.

As you can see at 10:00 am Thursday we have 2 courses done. With the concrete scheduled to be poured at 1:00 Friday, we still have a lot to do!

While some of the children continued to glue and snap together wall, others began to put the bracing together. From our 20 year old down to our 5 year old, everyone wanted to be involved. Even our 22 mth old walked around picking up screws and trash. (A large family certainly comes in handy!) I love the opportunity for them all to be involved and learn character and skills that they will use in their lives.

Back to our progress … The forms will hold the concrete but the bracing is used to insure straight walls. The brace parallel to the forms will be screwed into place before the concrete is poured.  The blue metal pole coming from the wall at a 45 degree angle will be screwed into a block of wood which will be glued to the slab.

So the morning continued snapping, gluing, putting up bracing complete with walk boards on top. Although we tend to grow them tall, once we reached the fifth course, the top could not be reached. The walk boards were used to finish the last course as well as pouring the concrete.

By Thursday evening we had finished the fifth course and begun the sixth.

As the sun set I noticed the view our our soon to be kitchen window:

We continued to work into the night. I moved the van so the headlights would shine upon our work area but ..  the mosquitoes! They were vicious man, woman and child eaters! So, at 9:40 pm we were pulling away for a much needed night’s sleep.

ICF First Course Done!

For those of you who are new, we have just begun the first floor (basement) of our new home which will overlook the vineyard. We are using the Rewards Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) and were able to finish the first course or layer yesterday evening. We chose the Rewards ICF not only for their insulation and strength characteristics but also their price.

It is amazing how easy the ICF is to snap together. They are really like legos! Inside are plastic dividers which give strength and we will place rebar before concrete is poured for added stength.

First came marking the slab as a guide. So, we popped the line.[Continue Reading]

ICF Construction Beginning!

We picked up the door and window frames to be used with the Rewards Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) today. John and the children began assembling them immediately. It is amazing how easily they are put together. The 16 foot pieces were cut to size and then screwed together with sheet-rock screws. Of course, there are always mechanical difficulties![Continue Reading]