Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flashback: How to move a 400-pound limestone rock

The landscaping around our house has been one of the largest ongoing projects for the past two years (considering when we moved in, there was no lawn to speak of -- only dirt and weeds). After installing our own sprinkler system and sod the first summer, we took a pretty long break from doing anything else. I needed awhile to erase the traumatic memories from my mind before I took on another lawn project.

Then last spring (2009), we finally made some more progress. We knew the general area that we wanted to lay out for a landscaping bed, but weren't sure what to use for the border. We checked out all the home improvement stores for pricing on edgers and retaining walls, but it would have cost a lot more than we wanted to spend. Around that time, Luke found out about an old limestone barn that had been torn down in his uncle's field. It was the perfect solution. And if you know us, you know we never turn down the opportunity to get something for free. Even if it means hours of back-breaking labor.

So we borrowed a big trailer and picked a weekend in February to drive a couple hours out to this field. It was cold and windy, but the weeds weren't overgrown like they would have been in the summer. The area where the barn had been could best be described as a limestone graveyard. There were literally hundreds of huge rocks and fence posts lining the ground. (Sorry, this was pre-blog, so I wasn't taking pictures of everything!)

Luke's brother-in-law helped us out by bringing along his "lawn tractor on steroids" to help load the rocks onto the trailer. Otherwise, I don't know how we would have managed to transport these massive 3- and 4-foot long stones.

Relatively speaking, it ended up going quite smoothly, and by the end of the day, we had about 130 linear feet of stone. It looked like this once we got back home and unloaded it all onto our driveway.

We could make our very own Stonehenge!

We also picked up some smaller rocks for "accents"...

Plus this ginormous, tetris-shaped piece that we still haven't found a place for. But Luke just had to have it.

Since the weather was still cold and we didn't quite have all the ground prepared where we wanted the limestone, it stayed right there on our driveway for a couple of months. When we were finally ready to move it, Luke decided to invest in a heavy-duty dolly from Home Depot. It claimed to have an 800-pound weight capacity, which we put to the test with several of the rocks. And let me tell you, this thing was a life-saver. The smartest $60 we've ever spent. That's not to say it didn't take any grunt work to lift the rocks up to get the dolly under them, and then roll them across the grass. But I don't even want to think about how we would have moved them otherwise.

Before just plopping them on the ground, we prepped the area by outlining each rock's position with a sharpshooter, rolling the rock out of the way, digging out a few inches of dirt, and then filling in the hole with pea gravel (to help prevent the limestone from sinking over time). Then we just rolled it into place. I'm probably making it sound easy, but those suckers were HEAVY and once they were in place, we didn't want to have to move them again.

Look at Luke, moving this big ol' limestone rock with ease!

Luke found the perfect L-shaped piece for the corner where our sidewalk and driveway meet.

It was almost like a puzzle trying to figure out which rocks to line up next to each other, and sometimes we'd have to try a few different ones to get a better fit, because we wanted them butted up next to each other nicely. But surprisingly, it all came together almost perfectly with the selection we had brought back. Once we got into a rhythm, it only took us a weekend to get the border finished for the north and east side of the house.

And the result?

A beefed up landscaping border that ain't goin' nowhere! We were really pleased with how it turned out, and we also got a lot of compliments from neighbors and people who were just driving by and had seen us working on it.

So even though it was a lot of hard work, this was one project that was definitely worth it. Luke did some research and found out that just ONE 5-foot limestone fence post can cost $100, so we saved ourselves potentially a couple thousand dollars.

We also put a limestone border on the west side of our house, but that didn't happen until just a couple of months ago. Luke had to make a return trip to the limestone graveyard in search of some straighter posts for that side. Why? Because we're currently laying a sidewalk there, so stay tuned for more on that soon!

Until next time, happy memorial weekend! We'll be visiting family for a couple of days, then hopefully finishing up a few projects around the house. How about you?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun at the Farmers Market

One of the perks of where we live is that our house is within walking distance to a local farmers' market, which is open every Saturday morning in the spring and summer. Unfortunately, Luke and I don't make it there as often as I'd like, but since I knew we didn't have any other commitments this morning (except housework), I've been looking forward to making a date of it ALL week! Is that sad?

So we woke up bright and early, pulled out some cash, and got there around 7, while the weather was still cool and before the crowd got too big. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, except a little windy. We strolled back and forth to all the tents a few times, scoping out the goods to find the best deals. Here are just a few of the wonderful sights:

So what did we come home with, you ask?

Head of lettuce - $2
Cinnamon roll for breakfast - $1.25
Bag of granola (yummy on yogurt) - $1.50
Ginormous English cucumber - $2
Slicing tomatoes - $1.50
Huge bundle of spinach - $1 (the deal of the day by far!)

Not bad for under $10! Plus, I feel good about doing our little part to support the local growers. I think we're going to make it a point to come back more regularly. Next time I'd like to get some flowers to add some color to our landscaping.

Is there a farmers market where you live? What are the goods you can't leave without?


CSN Stores Giveaway Winner!

I'm proud to announce the winner of my very first giveaway! According to (which is hard to argue with), the winner is... *drumroll*

 Comment #6!

Congratulations, Mrs. Chic from Chic Little House! I can't wait to see what you get with your $40 gift certificate to any CSN Store! Knowing you, it will be fabulous! And thanks to everyone else who entered my giveaway.

Luke and I have been busy around here the past few days with a couple of exciting projects (inside and outside the house), so check back soon for an update! We're also going to the farmers market this morning for the first time in a long time, and I'm pumped!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hey, Hey, Whaddaya Say...It's a Giveaway!

*** This contest is no longer accepting entries. ***

What's that, you say? You've never won anything before? First of all, I can totally relate. Second of all, this could be the day that changes! That's because CSN Stores has offered to do a giveaway just for Little House on the Corner readers!

So what is it you've been wanting lately? Do you have a lot of guests but not a lot of space? Then maybe you'd benefit from a comfy sleeper sofa. Or perhaps you've got an empty wall that's screaming for a fabulous piece of art. Whatever it is -- be it cookware, office supplies, baby products, or home decor -- you can find it at any one of the 200+ CSN Stores. And the winner of this particular giveaway will receive a one-time-use $40 gift certificate to any CSN Store!

Personally, here are a few of the things I'd love to have for myself. These are all from, one of my favorite CSN Stores.

These would be just the thing to brighten up our barren front porch!

I'd get a couple of these fun, fresh pillows to replace the red throw pillows on our couches!

This unique vase is a work of art in itself!

So here's the deal. In order to enter this giveaway, you need to do three simple things:
1) Leave a comment on this post and let me know which CSN Store you'd use your $40 gift certificate at. (One comment/entry per person, please!)
2) Include your e-mail address in your comment. (Unless you don't want us to have a way to contact you if you're the winner.)
3) Become a follower of my blog. (See all my lovely followers over there on the left? You know you want to be one of them!)

Doesn't get much easier than that, huh? I'm leaving the contest open until Friday, May 21, at noon CST. Check back on Saturday, May 22, to see who the lucky winner is... It just might be YOU!

Boring yet important fine print: Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada residents only. The winner will be chosen via Shipping charges may apply for certain products. Canadian residents may be responsible for paying international fees for certain products.

Good luck! And thanks to Jess at CSN Stores for sponsoring this awesome giveaway!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


After weeks of agonizing over a new color for the front door, I finally bit the bullet this past weekend and painted it. I had gotten samples of every color from Spring Cactus to Blue Coal to Heirloom Red to Antique Copper. I even considered Deepest Aqua, but couldn't quite commit to it. Plus, that was the one color that Luke seemed truly opposed to. (I know, I shouldn't pay attention to him so much :)

Let's take a look at the Before door. It was actually the same color as the siding and the garage door, and calling it a "color" is pretty generous.
(Now you know we're K-staters! Thanks to my handy hubby for painting the limestone rock. :)

As you can see, it was very beige and boring. So I wanted to give it a bit more personality. I finally settled on Valspar's Chocolate Raspberry. (I must have been hungry at the time...) I guess I'd describe it as kind of a smoky purplish-brownish. I thought it would have a nice contrast against the white trim and pull out some of the colors of the brick.

And the verdict?
Ok, so it's not exactly earth-shattering.

It's definitely richer than the non-color that was there before, but it seems to be a little more on the purple side than what I was going for, at least from certain angles. (Although from the street, it's hard to tell what color it is at all.) The Chocolate Raspberry is growing on me, but I still don't know if I'm totally satisfied. While it does make all the white trim pop nicely, there's a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I should have done something more adventurous. I mean, it's just paint, right? Then I started thinking that a gloss black would look really sharp, but in that case we'd probably want to switch out the dark doorknob, lock, and hardware. I don't think I want to deal with that just yet.

Can you tell I'm still all over the map? I had no idea this would be such a tough decision! Give me your honest opinions about the new color! Is it an improvement? What would YOU have chosen? Should I have gone with a lighter, brighter color instead?

(And yes, I know I still need to make our vast front porch more homey... adding a couple planters and a chairs would make a big difference!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Bedroom Re-do: Part II

As I mentioned in my previous post, our guest room re-do was kick-started when we acquired a free bedroom set not long ago from our neighbors who were moving and didn't want to hassle with the furniture. It consisted of a long dresser with a mirror, two nightstands, and a headboard. When they first offered it to us, my initial instinct was Heck no! A) It was pretty fugly not exactly my style, and B) We didn't really NEED any more furniture as far as I was concerned.

But never the ones to turn down free stuff, we said we'd take it off their hands. I soon realized this was my golden opportunity to discover what potential it held. If it turned out well, we could use it in the guest room so we'd actually have a matching set of furniture in there. And if not, well, at least it was free and we hadn't lost much besides time.

The furniture is a laminate, so I really saw no other choice besides to paint it. I had never done anything like that before, so of course I thought it sounded pretty easy. (Naturally, I underestimated how long it would really take.) The first step was removing all the doors/drawers/hardware, which was a time-consuming process in itself.

I thought a spray paint would provide a smoother finish than using a brush, so I bought some Valspar primer and Satin White spray paint. After the first two coats of primer, I started getting impatient with the progress and switched to the actual white paint, which I thought would have better coverage than the primer. Wrong! After two more coats, I soon discovered it was going to take many, many coats and my trigger finger was already sore. I'm not sure if I'm just really bad at spray painting, or if this is normal.

I finally decided to just buy some Valspar Satin White latex enamel and paint it all with a brush. I saw better results this way--despite the brush strokes, which don't bother me too much. Still, it took three thin coats (maybe even four?) to cover the dark laminate sufficiently. Then, I still had to get a small brush to carefully paint in the crevices of all the carvings in the drawers, without getting it all gloppy . This part would have been somewhat fun, actually, except for the fact that I had already been hunched over several hours and this was about the fourth straight night I'd spent painting in the garage... plus a couple of early mornings. I just wanted to get it done.

The hardware on the furniture wasn't exactly my stye either - brassy, gaudy, and ornate. *shudder* But buying all new hardware would have defeated the purpose of keeping this a cheap project, so I decided to get some Valspar metallic silver spray paint instead and see if that would do the trick. And actually, I ended up liking the way it turned out! Plus, I was much more pleased with the way the metallic paint covered vs. the white spray paint.

Finally, I felt that the furniture should have more of a protective coating, so I got some Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Crystal Clear Gloss and brushed a couple of thin coats just on the tops of the dresser and nightstands.

And now, the obligatory sneak preview of the transformed furniture!

I know you can't wait to see the finished room! Don't worry, it will come soon enough.  I'm supposed to let the gloss dry for 48 hours before I can sit anything on it, so that means holding off a little longer on decorating. In the meantime, feel free to let me know if I did anything horribly wrong for my first furniture-painting project. I figure at least it's just for the guest room and it won't get used frequently, so it's okay if it's not perfect. But I'd be happy to take any pointers if there's a next time!


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