A Perfect Patio or Another Place to Enjoy a Fire, a Fire Pit

We own a 4wd vehicle that has, in our opinion, no need for a driveway (or garage for that matter, but that is another story). Taking this sentiment into consideration, we looked at the driveway possibilities and decided to relocate the concrete that would have been used for a longer driveway. By designing and staking out a large and much more useful patio area off of the screened in porch we were able to maximize our $$$ spent on concrete which is very expensive these days. We used wooden stakes and orange string to layout the general shape and size. After tripping over the string for about a month we decided that we should use some of the outdoor paint that is made for creating lines on the ground (mostly for sports, I think) and paint over the lines then remove the string and stakes. We added a special design element that facilitates one of our favorite things to do, a fire pit. Since we love to have camp fires, not only for warmth, but for beauty we decided that we would put one permanently in the patio. Prior to this time we had been using a steel washing machine tub for our “campfire” in the evenings, which is great for an occasional outdoor campfire by the way.

Patio Framing

Pouring the Concrete

What a mess!

Front “driveway”, sidewalk, and landing.

Our first fire in the new pit.


This says it all.

The mirrors for the bathrooms were put in within the last week or so and I just love the one in the master bath. It is above the entire bathtub and makes the bathroom seem so much bigger. Check it out.

Yes, that is me.

An inspector was at the house a couple of weeks ago and left a list of things that needed to be fixed or whatever according to the building code. One of the things he identified that needed to be done was a railing needed to be installed at the top of the landing. (Can you say duhhhhh?) Because of the way things work with the inspectors all of the things on the list had to be fixed prior to the electric power being turned on at (or even run to)the house. SOOOO, the banister railing was installed at the top landing. The guy installing the railing also did the stairs. No, we still have no power.

Upstairs railing, now OSHA compliant.

Finished stairs.

View of railing from top of stairs.

The wood floor has been installed upstairs and it looks great. The floor contractor was more than a little freaked out when he arrived to find that there were already cabinets installed. He also strongly discouraged us from putting wood flooring in the bathrooms where there were bath tubs or showers. In addition to all this, he said that he should have installed the floor months before so that the wood had time to acclimate to the temperatures in the house. So, we took all this new information and after mulling it over for about an hour we decided to go with tile in the two full bathrooms. This meant another trip to the tile store and more waiting while the tile was installed. Regardless, the floor upstairs has been installed and it looks great. There has been no sanding or poly coating as of yet and no downstairs flooring to date, but we are hopeful this will happen soon.

Oak stairs.

Both upstairs offices with wood flooring installed.

Scott’s office floor.

My office floor (this room gets great afternoon natural light.)

View of landing from offices.

A Cord of Wood for the Lopi Wood Burning Stove

Can you guess what this goes to?

October 6, 2006

YES!! The wood-burning stove has finally been installed.

Receiving Operating Instructions

It looks so good on our hearth and is ready to be used. We have already been busy gathering and splitting firewood. Conveniently, there is a mill nearby where log trucks haul their loads and for one reason or another they sometimes drop their loads on the side of the road near the entrance or even in the parking lot of a vacant gas station nearby. We have found this to be an unbelievable source of free fire wood for anyone who wants to haul it away.

FREE Firewood

In September, we purchased a log splitter on sale at Home Depot (apparently at about half price according to my parents) and got busy.

Log Splitter

Meager Beginnings (9-20-2006)

We have collected several trailer loads to date of both pine and mixed hardwood. My father in law is afraid, at this point, that we are going to go into the lumber business. HA HA

Wood Collection as of October 24, 2006

One thing we love to burn in our fire pit is cedar. We found a dead cedar on the back part of the property our house is on, hooked a chain to it and dragged it to the splitter with the community tractor. While cutting it apart with the chain saw the tree began humming. We didn’t consider this normal so we investigated further. The tree was (and had been for quite some time) the home to a huge number of carpenter bees. These bees are extremely large and don’t fly very fast either. However, they still look a little menacing. We left the cut apart pieces to rest for about a week thinking the bees would relocate. No such luck. So we claimed their home with our log splitter and a little delicate handling (and a little bee spray).

How bad do we want this log?

House Construction Can Make You Go Insane, Quickly

I’ve been accused of being a very patient person…….but, my patience is wearing pretty thin these days when it comes to house construction. So, pardon me while I rant a little. This will probably be the only time you hear me complain about the house construction, but I have to let it out or explode. So here goes.

We began building this house in January, 2006. It is now mid-October and we are still waiting for it’s completion. Apparently, if you build a house out in the country the contractors don’t like to come out to work. Go figure…. At the rate at which the house is being built we will be lucky to be moved in by Christmas 2007!!

Every day we make the 30 minute drive out to the house to check on progress and every day there is one more thing done. This would generally be considered to be a good thing, however, the one thing completed is usually a lightbulb being screwed in or a cabinet (singular) being installed. If you follow the dates of the photographs you will understand what I am talking about. The following photos reflect an entire month’s progress on this house and I am photographing every thing that is being done. This is why there have been no photo updates of the house lately. I now have enough photos collected of house progress to compile into a couple of entries. Here is the first entry (September’s work) of completed work, or partial completion as is more the case these days. These photos are ones I took up to September 27, 2006.

Paint on the Walls
The entire house is painted in Sherwin Williams “Kilm Beige”, with “Extra White” for all ceilings and master bath walls. Only the downstairs powder room and the upstairs bath have walls of a different color.

Paint on walls downstairs (9-5-2006)

Cutie pie!

Paint and trim on stairs.

Cabinets Installed
In keeping with the spirit of a simple and clean style throughout the house the cabinets are all natural wood poly coated. We wanted the wood to show in the cabinets and floors so there is no stain involved in either process, just poly coating.

Kitchen Cabinets (9-7-2006)

Powder Room Cabinet (also paint color)

Master Bath Cabinet

Scott’s Built-in Bookcase

Upstairs Bath Cabinet (also paint color)

Deborah’s Built-in Bookcase

Lighting and Fans
The lighting and ceiling fans we had installed were as simplistic and unobtrusive (gaudy) as we could possibly find. The two areas in the house that we opted for some type of design was the lighting fixtures in the two full bathrooms and the ceiling fan in the great room. We both really liked this fan and thought it’s design went well with the natural theme of the house.

Great Room Ceiling Fan (isn’t it great?!)

Master Bath Laminate and Lighting (9-26-2006)

Wall Sconces on the Staircase

Fans on the Patio

What’s this? A septic system?
We arrived on 9-27-2006 to find a monster of a tractor behind the house. The septic system was being installed. Whoo-Hoo!! The septic contractor was super nice and couldn’t understand why he hadn’t been called much earlier to put in the system. Like most of the other sub-contractors we have talked to so far. Again, go figure…..


Cleared Area for Septic


There must have been some kind of lull in the sub-contractors world this week because the same day the septic was installed the tile guy came out and put in the kitchen countertop tile. While he was there he also laid the tile for the hearth that is actually a pad for the woodburning stove we are installing. We designed the hearth ourselves and drew it on the floor with a pencil for him to fill in. He did a great job!

Kitchen Tile (9-27-2006)

Kitchen Tile

Natural Light in Kitchen

Kitchen Bar Tile


Master Bath Tile

Upstairs Bath Tile

We stood at the front entry for a while after the electricians had been putting in lighting and studied the front entry lights. If you look closely, they are not level, not even close. You know how sometimes things get so frustrating that you just have to laugh or you are going to cry? Well that is how I felt when I saw those lights. We just both started shrugging our shoulders and laughing. What’s next???????

Auburn Tigers Football Season at a Glance // 2006

UPDATE February 17, 2011: See Poisoning of Toomer’s Live Oaks Article Here along with current photos of the work being done.

Football season is in full swing and living in Auburn has given us the opportunity to experience it this year like never before. We have been to several games already this year with a few more “big” games to go. Auburn’s only loss so far was this weekend to Arkansas and although the weather was perfect for a football game, high 70’s and sunny, the game was quite sad. Anyway, here are some photos of the season thus far and a little explanation of some of the traditions of Auburn University Football.

Parking for the football games is always an adventure here. Generally, you get as close as you can and then hike the 1/4 to 3/4 mile trek across campus to the stadium. The walk is not difficult and when the weather is pleasant the tailgating atmosphere closer to the stadium becomes more festive and anticipatory. Here are a few sites to see on the way to the stadium.

Samford Hall
Samford Hall

Toomer's Drug Store
Toomer’s Drug Store (more on this later)

Prior to entering the stadium the Auburn players walk through the fans down a long street that leads them directly into the tunnel. This tradition is called Tiger Walk and is attended by thousands of fans each game day who come to see the players (and coaches) and cheer them on.

Tiger Walk

Tiger Walk

This year Scott and I were treated to a tour of the field prior to one of the games. The field is crowned to allow for run off of water and you can really see this from ground level. Something else you can see from ground level is the actual size of the players. I knew they were big guys, but WOW!

Scott and Larry
Scott and Larry

Auburn Players
Auburn Players

Tight End, Tommy Trott
Tight End, Tommy Trott

The Defensive Line
The Defensive Line

The Quarterback, Brandon Cox
The Quarterback, Brandon Cox

Just prior to kick off the band comes out from the tunnel and marches around the outer ring of the field playing for the fans.



Our seats for the games this year have been near mid field, but way high in the upper deck. I really like these seats because you get a wonderful view of the entire field as well as the campus. One advantage we had by having these seats was the ability to see the eagle, Spirit, take off in flight to circle the stadium before landing mid field. The trainers released her from right behind where we were sitting and it was so cool to see (and almost touch) her as she took off.

Taking Off

Pre-game festivities continue with the band taking the field and spelling out various forms of Auburn, AU, etc. They eventually end up forming the shape of an eagle and when the National Anthem is sung the flag is outstretched in the center. Following this there is sometimes a fly over by some type of military plane or helicopter squadron.

Band in eagle formation

Fly Over

Post game festivities consist of making the trek back through campus to the previously chosen parking location for the day. If the outcome of the game was a win for Auburn then this trek is rerouted by way of Toomer’s Drug Store (see above). There is a long standing tradition in Auburn called Rolling Toomer’s Corner . This tradition calls for the trees located across the street, diagonally from the drug store to be rolled, yes, in toilet paper in the event of a win.

Fans on their way to Toomer’s Drug Store

Rolling Toomer’s Corner

Sailboat Trailer Restoration [After]

We had to finish the trailer restoration in time to pull the boat out of it’s slip by 11-30-06 when the slip rental expired. The remaining painting, winch installation, and tire replacement went pretty smoothly and this is what she looks like now. We are now back down at the marina where we will pull out the Catalina 22 we purchased for the first time. It will be interesting to see what the bottom looks like after 5 years on the water without anyone touching it at all, I expect, slimy.

To restore the trailer we used a Rust-o-leum burgundy color which looks nice but was not that easy to find. It took about 3-4 full coats to cover over the white but it should be good now for a few years. It took about a week to completed and cost about $300 in parts [new winch, paint, 2 new tires].