All summer long I've been watching everyone's Instagram and Facebook posts as they have traveled the country, and some to other parts of the world, enjoying life. But for us, this was one of the dullest summers ever. Don't pity me though, as we made the choice not to travel this year because we had other goals we wanted to accomplish. But it was hard to watch you all have fun while we worked, worked, and worked. It seemed everyone was finally traveling again after being locked up for two years over fear of Covid. But that was never our story, for while the rest of the world was playing it safe at home, we were the ones galavanting all over the United States. You may disagree with me, but we never once altered our lifestyle over Covid. Life is meant to be lived, not to "stay home and be safe". After our state's initial three month lockdown, we never missed a single holiday, or a single vacation, and I don't have a single regret.
Now you're probably wondering what other goals we made that we decided not to travel. I can't share one of our choices due to security concerns, but I can share the main project: our new backyard patio and another screened porch.
Twelve years ago our daughter got married at our house. My husband made a backyard patio and completed it just days before the wedding. It was gorgeous. (See this post HERE
for wedding photos. There is only one photo of what the patio used to look like at the very end of the post.) But after years of neglect and some very naughty woodchucks and drainage issues, the patio went to ruin. It was quite the eyesore, and I began to worry that if we didn't fix it while we were still young enough to do the hard labor, it would really affect the resale value of the house. So, we gave up a big fall vacation, and our summer weekends to re-do the patio.
The first thing we had to do to fix the patio was get a fresh load of gravel to level the ground again. It had to be dumped in the front yard because there is no vehicle access to my back yard. Well the dump truck hit a tree branch when he unloaded the gravel, and the branch landed right in the power lines!
So I had to call the electric company to come out and shut off all the neighborhoods power and cut the branches down. They were very sweet about it.
Oh, and that gravel sat there in front of my house all summer long (even though it has gone down in size), in fact, it's still there! It ruined the curb appeal of my house, and made my annual flower bed an eyesore. Needless to say, I didn't have company over this summer and if you've been wondering why I didn't have many pictures of my annual flower bed in my flower garden posts, that's why: it's been blocked by a pile of gravel. URGH.
Here is the "Before" project of the back patio. It was no longer a place of beauty, but a place to store and chop firewood.
And this was the old back porch. It was definitely in need of new, fresh paint and a good clean up.
The first thing hubby did was pick up and stack all the old patio blocks and lay PVC drainage pipes to take care of the water drainage issues. He also took down the fence as it was falling apart with wood rot. Then he applied fresh gravel and laid chicken wire everywhere to prevent the woodchucks from digging underneath the pavers again. Then he built a fire pit.
He continued to work every single weekend, and still is.
My daughter and son-in-law and my grand babies came to visit us in June. I did a "Summer Staycation" post about that visit HERE
. We "christened" the new fire pit and screened-in porch for their visit, but we haven't used it since because as soon as they left, it became a construction zone again. I was so excited about my new screen porch and I envisioned a summer of outdoor meals, but hubby had the table covered with tools all summer long. I tell you, he annoyed me to death this summer, between the gravel pit out front, and the back picnic table and porch filled with bags of cement and tools, I was ready to scream. I kept telling myself, "It's just for this year. Next year everything will look beautiful again. Don't be mad at him. He's working so hard."
We did take a little time off from working here and there. Our son told us what a cute town Galesville was so we decided to pay it a visit after church one Sunday. And our son was right, it is a cute town! But everything in town is closed on Sundays so there was nothing to do but take a few photos and go home.
We did find this pretty waterfall in the back of the town. A man was fishing from the deck while we were there.
And on the other side of the river, was a really pretty trail. We inquired a local about it, and he said it was a very long trail for bicycles, so I don't know if we'll ever be able to go back and just walk it. I keep thinking about getting bikes, but it just seems like such a huge expense because then I'll have to get a bike rack for our car, locks, helmets, plus the cost of the bikes, so I can just never pull the plunge.
This was the first 4th of July in a long time when we didn't have the grand babies with us. They were just at our house in June, so they didn't come back for the 4th. However, we still had company as my son had a good friend from the Chicago area come and stay with us. He was the best house guest ever! David was so polite and kind. He was awestruck by our house and said he "does not get the chance to see homes like ours where he lives". He lives in a modern suburb where there aren't historic homes.
He was so sweet he even made us strawberry chocolate crepes for breakfast when he heard I loved crepes. I tell you, this was the first time a houseguest ever made me breakfast! It was nice to be spoiled.
The 4th of July landed on a Sunday this year, so we went to church in the morning and I wore this patriotic outfit. The blue tee has stars on it.
We didn't do anything on the 4th other than church in the morning and then fireworks at night. Our fireworks were held in our small town along this picturesque lake.
Our son Jordan had to work the next morning so he didn't come with us. It was just my hubby and I so we took a "selfie". I am the worst selfie taker in the world. I don't know how to take a good selfie to save my life. I always look so horrible, and I never think my selfies look anything like me. Anyone know the trick to taking a good selfie? The picture of David with my son, hubby, and I was a selfie that David took with his camera, and it looks great! But then I try it, and it looks like this. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
There was a Christian concert before the fireworks that my hubby and I really enjoyed. We chuckled though when a couple got up to dance during the concert like the singers were performing a romantic song. They were singing an old fashioned hymn! We wondered if the couple even knew it was a hymn.
Meanwhile, hubby kept working on the backyard patio. The posts for the new fence went up, and he laid special pavers to outline a basketball free-throw line.
We went blueberry picking for the second year in a row. We don't enjoy blueberry picking, but we find it very economical, so that's why we do it. We pick enough blueberries to last a full year.
Hubby showing off how strong he is holding to ice cream pails full of blueberries 😀.
We picked enough blueberries to fill four one gallon bags. I use the berries mostly in smoothies, but I also use them for baking too.
I found this Blueberry Cookie recipe in my Electric Cooperative monthly magazine. Oh my gosh, they were so good, and pretty healthy for a cookie too. I loved them so much I made a second batch for the grand babies. They gobbled them all up. I plan to do a post showing all the foods I made with my summer garden produce so I will share the cookie recipe then.
My oldest grand baby started her first day of Kindergarten 😢 She's growing up way too fast!
In August, we drove to Indiana to see our granddaughter perform in her first ballet and to celebrate our youngest grandson's birthday. We were only there two nights so we didn't do much else, but we did pop over to Coxhall Gardens for a little fun.( I did a major travel post on Coxhall gardens last year; click HERE
if you want to see more.)
They have a beautiful, fun, interactive children's garden in Coxhall Gardens.
The kids love all the statues of children that are the same size as them!
There are both cultivated flower gardens and a wildflower garden area where I found this hibiscus. I didn't even know Hibiscus grew in the wild in a colder state like Indiana.
The grandkids just adore spending time with their grandpa. While we were visiting, I was working in the kitchen while grandpa and Atticus were playing in another room within earshot. I heard Atticus say "Grandpa Todd, I'm so happy you're here!" and jumped into his lap. It got me all choked up!
I love this caterpillar! It's so simple, just painted rocks laid out to resemble a caterpillar. I think I could very easily do this in my own garden.
My favorite part of the Coxhall Children's Garden is this rainbow path. The kids love to run on it, and I just really like the way it looks, especially with all the pretty flowers.
Some beautiful thistle going to seed in the wildflower garden portion of the gardens.
In August we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. On the actual date I just made Ribeye Steaks on the grill. We had to celebrate our anniversary in September because we were in Indiana for Alethea's ballet the weekend before our anniversary and our actual anniversary was in the middle of the week. We did end up taking a little mini vacation after Labor Day to The North Shore to celebrate our anniversary. But since that was after summer, and I have so much to share, I decided to make that a new travel series starting next week.
So yea, that's it. That was our summer. Definitely not one of the more exciting ones like ya'll have had. But, sometimes you have to put on the brakes, and slow things down, to accomplish other goals...which we did. Hopefully next summer we will be the ones posting about all the fun we're having.
As for the patio, you will have to wait till next spring to see what it looks like. At this point, it's 95% completed. There's just a small portion of the fence and a garden area that needs to be fixed up. I don't want to do a "Big Reveal" post until it's 100% done and all fully decorated.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to our usual fall hiking adventures to see all the beautiful colors, and I'm also excited to drive back to Indiana in November for "Grandparents Day" at my daughter's school. That should be lots of fun.
So what about you? How was your summer? Was it filled with traveling and lots of adventures or were you mostly homebodies as we were? I'd love to hear from you!
Have a Great Day! Amy
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