Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday

When we got home from our trip last Sunday, the yard and lawn was looking a little shaggy, but not too terrible. Our creek bed and banks had exploded in growth and was a couple feet high in places. 

We have been battling overgrowth in the creek since we lived here and this spring we decided to keep the banks around the creek where it is narrow mowed. When we got back from our trip, we were on the fence about letting it grow and try again next winter or attempt to reclaim our progress. Today we decided to try to take it back again.




We got a good foothold again. We have some more to do to get it back where it was earlier this summer, but that will be our project this week.


I have had a growing urge to do some painting again for some while, so today I actually broke out my watercolors and did 2 quick studies of lavender and black-eyed susans. Watercolor is a tricky medium and I have some practice to do, but I did enjoy myself. I need to let my artistic side out more. I haven't touched watercolors since college.



I am not too happy with the black-eyed susans, I think I rushed the color layering and didn't let it dry enough in between. I like the lavender blossoms though, the stems were more of an after thought.


Posted on the gallery wall of the fridge.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Head North

Late Sunday we got back from a whirlwind trip up north. While it was a mostly work trip for me in Wisconsin, we managed to squeeze in time seeing friends and family in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. We took off in the wee hours of July 2nd and headed for Holland, MI for a weekend with the Hilldores.

Prior to leaving, we made arrangements for the neighbor to look after our cats and the mail. We also set up a web cam to look in on the cats while we were away. We felt a little guilty leaving them for 18 days and felt slightly better we could see them lounging around the living room while we were away.

Laying on the guilt pretty thick
We had a wonderful time in Holland with Ben and Amanda and the kids. It was relaxing a holiday weekend filled with games, a picnic, catching up and playing the with kids. (thanks for putting up with us!) Zachary picked up a RC micro quad-copter at a hobby store to drive our cats crazy.

Neighborhood Picnic


Playing in the lake


After the weekend we headed to Wisconsin for me to start my office visit for work for almost 2 weeks. The upper midwest summer weather was a welcome treat compared to Florida summer weather. We got to wear pants and light zip ups at times! While I was in the office, Zachary kept busy helping my parents with random projects at the house and the farm. (thanks Mom and Dad for putting up with us also!)



The weekend gave us a chance to take in the Iola Car Show, to see show cars and eat deep fried cheese curds. Got to catch up with our friend Kate at the lake and grilled out and boated.


Show cars:



Piggies in motion at the farm

Still life with Cows

Parents' Farm Garden

My dad's project Model T that Z helped with

Daylily

Cloverleaf Lakes Boating

Speaking of foods, we also took advantage of being in proximity of Luigi's Pizza and Simon's Cheese and filled up on favorites. Yum...

Also got to see 2 of my brothers and their families and caught up on the goings on, and my Uncle Bob and Aunt Becky and cousin Kelsey too.  We didn't get to see everyone this visit, but hope to see them the next time we are in town. Summer is a busy time of year for everyone.

My niece Sydney showing us her show cattle for the upcoming county and state fairs
After finishing up work stuff we headed to Illinois to see Zachary's mom and Bob and the boys. It was fun to catch up and give the nephews some pointers in Minecraft.

On the way home we broke the drive into 2 days and stayed a night in southern Indiana. We both agree the states of Indiana and Alabama are way too long to drive through. It felt like we were in Indi-bama for most of the drive with a blink through Kentucky and Tennessee. Pulled into our driveway Sunday night, July 19, to 2 cats happy to see us. Its good to be in our own bed and not living out of a suitcase anymore. Long drives like these makes us really appreciate Rest Areas that are along the interstates. We stop at nearly everyone, to stretch out every 80 or so miles. They are generally clean and tidy, and gets us to switch driving more often. More pleasant than most gas stations and you can take your time and relax.

Tennessee Rest Area I believe


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Shell Island

In June we spent a day at St. Andrews State Park and Shell Island. St. Andrews is just on the east end of PCB and we still hadn't visited Shell Island since we moved here, so we hopped on a shuttle from the park. Shell Island is a undeveloped barrier island between St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a short 10 minute shuttle pontoon trip from the park. 

While waiting for the shuttle we wandered around the pier, which was busy with fishermen and sightseers.






The Shell Island beaches are a little more natural than the groomed ones in town, with more vegetation and random things washed ashore. It was quite windy that day as well, red flag day, so the surf was strong.




Found a washed up tree trunk that lead to interesting detail photos.




While there was a few more shells to be found here that the normal beaches, I think the pro beachcombers probably find the more fascinating shells early each morning. The sand is a little more coarse too.


The leeward side of the island was less windy and calmer waters, as is shallower and has cove made from a rocky jetty. It is quite popular with boaters and snorkelers






What is an little oasis without a pontoon selling ice cream and snacks? Of course we bought a Klondike bar.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Freyja's Green Friend



Hello again out there! I have some posts to catch up from June and July. I finally downloaded my photos from my camera the last 2 months and have plenty to share. I had some computer drama in May/June and we just got back from a nearly 3 week road trip from up north this month. Things are settling back down again in our little world in the steamy Florida humidity.

Here is a quick 2 photos from today. Freyja gets a lot of enjoyment of what visits our windows. The evenings are always a treat for her, as the living room lights attract the frogs, lizards and insects the window panes. This morning she had a daytime visitor, a green grasshopper on the patio door. When she gets a window buddy, she gets very vocal about it and jumps at them. Usually the window buddy is un-phased by her antics, which perplexes her.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Anniversary


It was our wedding anniversary this past weekend, 11 years already. Time has sped by and yet preparing for our wedding day seems like a lifetime ago. It has been 11 wonderful years together, and we look forward what adventures lay ahead.

We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, McGuire's in Destin and walked the beach. We vowed to walk the beach more in the future, we don't do it nearly enough.

Efficiency

Replacing our heating and cooling system in our house has been on the list since we bought the place just over 2 years ago. Old and inefficient, it gets quite costly to run in the summer and any cold snaps. We had gotten complacent with it, with the attitude. "well it is still running, let it be". Until last week when it was obvious the house temperature creeped up and the AC could not bring it down. Curse our complacency! We called a company to come out and give us a quote on a new system, as we were not interested in repairing. Parts of our system is 30 years old and the other parts are 20. At first we were interested in participating in our electric utility's rebate program on installing a new high-efficiency unit. When the service guys started doing the baseline test on our old system, it was failing to complete it without doing couple hundred dollars in repairs to get it functioning well enough in the baseline test for the rebate program. Which in the long run, the repair would wipe our any rebate savings we would have gotten with a new system.



We went with a 14 SEER rated unit. The service guy told us our old system probably operated at a 7, when it was in its prime. Even though it is a expensive purchase, it is well worth it for peace of mind and energy savings. It is also a lot quieter too. We probably should have done this sooner. I am actually looking forward to the energy bill when it comes again, to see what our average usage will be going forward. So far, by checking our energy consumption online by day since we replaced it, its dropped quite a bit, roughly 45%. I am glad it perished now, instead while we were out of town or July/August in the peak of the summer heat. We had a few sticky days around the house before we got our replacement, but it could have been a lot worse. Our cats even liked laying in the fan breeze while we were without AC.



It feels good to mark this big item off the master to-do list for the house. Although we had no DIY at all with it, it is a big milestone for getting the house complete.

That cinder block wall behind the tree is a project Zachary is in the middle of, a short wall and garden gate to the backyard, that spans the gap between our house and the neighbor's fence. More on that later.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mini-golfing


Zachary and I went mini-golfing at Hidden Lagoon in PCB on a recent steamy day. Summer weather is here now and its always be sweaty time till October. Thankfully the constant Gulf breeze keeps the air moving.



Surprisingly I had a early lead and maintained it over Zachary. But it vanished on the 18th hole, with my 7 strokes... Zachary nearly got the $50 prize for a hole in one on the 18th, but narrowly missed the cup. I think we'll be back again soon for a rematch, it was a nice course and they have 2 courses.