09-28-15 Phase 3 of driveway “redo”

Here in this post we pick up on Phase 3 of my driveway “redo” project which is explained in the post about Phase 1 here and then you can check out what I got done just before this in Phase 2 here! I spent the majority of the day working on this project because I wasn’t able to start until mid-morning and by then it was already hotter than I had expected. We were blessed with a few mellow days with temps in the low 90s after the rain we had gotten and on THIS day it decided to get back up around 105-110. But I was at a point in the project that I was very eager to continue and pick up on, excited to be reaching a point where it looked near done, at least to the level of done I plan to get it to for now. So I would work and take breaks and then work some more, using up the better part of a day.


I decided to start with the new driveway part that branches off to the right from the main driveway and leads to that double gate to the future pasture. You can see from this picture that those rocks weren’t necessarily in a good place so they had to be moved again. But what you can’t see is just how many weeds there were up by the fence and to the left of it. I wanted to go ahead and get rid of all of those. 

I began by raking all the loose debris and small weeds from that burn pile over to the gate, raking them up towards the new line for the driveway to “clear the path” if you will.



This took awhile but I do actually enjoy work like this because I’m one of those people who enjoys raking, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc because it feels like happy work for an OCD person. =) And then the result was pleasing which was what appeared to be an “intentional” path big enough for 2 cars or a large truck or even tractor! Success!


Here is another view from the other side of the debris and junk ALMOST raked away…


Me, happy to be working outside but it was pretty hot!!!


I am a huge fan of before and after’s and even before and now’s because it is a visual reminder or gratification for me of the progress that has been made. It gives me that jolt of contentment that refuels me to push on.


Once I got the rocks placed where I wanted them to remain, I got all the weeds up to the left by the gate removed and the only thing up there now is that bamboo, which will eventually be removed as well. And then I got everything raked out of the way.


This made me happy and was about the most I plan to do with this area for awhile, other than removing the bamboo and adding gravel. We won’t have a need or use for that gate until next year some time so for now this is what I set out to accomplish and from now on I’ll just keep the road way clear of weeds until the gravel goes down.


Here is a good before and now! I say “In Progress” because obviously this area of the project is not finished but it won’t be awhile and that is alright by me! For now!



Once I got the gate area cleaned up on the far side of this photo I just had to do an In Progress photo of this area, too! But the top photo in the collage above is from the other day before I got all those weeds removed.


Here is a great before and now photo collage of the work done just in front of the house, where the driveway splits left and right and where there will soon be visitor parking room by a new front gate (after the bamboo is gone)! I love this photo collage!!!!!! <3


Then I moved over to the driveway. The other day I had gotten the rocks placed and some of the weeds on the left knocked down but not all of them. So after that side gate area was cleaned up I focused my energy on getting all the weeds off this left side so you can see both rows of rocks and it look like an intentional driveway.


Here I had gotten the weeds at the end of the driveway taken care of and just had a few smaller ones up at the front to tend to.


I got ALL the weeds out of the driveway! Except you may notice that small little bush RIGHT there. Haha! I must say, when I was chopping down weeds I saw this little weed/bush of wild flowers that were blooming  beautiful yellow and I just couldn’t! I thought “Maybe it won’t be too much in the way”. So I get all the other weeds down, I put UP my weed eater and TWO extension cords it takes to reach this side of the yard, haha, and then come back out and spend an hour RAKING the entire driveway end to end. I raked from the middle off to each side to clear any other debris, small weeds I had missed and level out the existing minuscule gravel. So then once all that was done I came and stood back here to take my “after” photo, Yay…only to find just how much that little bush really bothered me. Again…OCD much?!?! So…I had already put away all my tools to get rid of it with AND I was tired and hot and felt just annoyed with the idea of getting everything back out, throwing my cords around and all that fuss just to come remove that one plant. Talk about slapping yourself for wishing you had done something the first time around.


When my pants and boots are this dirty and covered in dust, I know I’m getting something done and working with my body and it makes me feel proud, happy, capable, able and content! <3 Who said a single Mom can’t setup a homestead mostly on her own? =)


View of the driveway “done” for now from the south. I still need to remove the debris from that burn pile and, of course, remove that little bush…and then I’ll feel like it’s truly done until I move onto the next phase in a couple of months. And that next phase is gravel, trees and water lines.


View of the driveway BASICALLY done from the north. (That damn bush!) Ahhhhhh! 


People often know me as Elizabeth, the Realtor, single mom, woman who loves her aviators and who has very long, thick curly, wild hair. And the majority of the time when I’m out and about being social or working they’ll see me with my hair down and I’m typically in a long summer dress and sandals. It is my go to outfit, my “make me feel pretty and girly” outfit. But what most people don’t usually see (only a handful have really) is me when I’m the happiest which is when I have no make-up at all on, hair up in a knot, jeans on, boots on, sweating my butt off, calluses on my hands, bottle of water in my back pocket, etc. Being raised in Arkansas you might think I grew up this way but I really didn’t. We lived in city limits the majority of my life until I moved in with my sister when I was 12. At that point we lived in the country. Prior to that I had summer’s with my Dad or his parents and those were the real boonies and times when I spent as much time outside as I could, being a lil country girl playing in the mud, climbing trees, riding four wheelers, hanging out with my boy cousins! But throughout life I have come to find I am happiest outside. Being raised in the Phoenix metro from the age of 15 to 21, some “city” rubbed off on me but when I started hiking the local mountains for exercise, I realized how much I loved it. That grew and fostered a love of the outdoors in Arizona, even though it is insanely hot. But hiking and running outdoors even in the summer, over the years, I came accustomed to the weather we have here. And so this all brings me now to where I am 30 and I’ve been itching the last few years to raise my son in the country so he may have a childhood covered in mud as I did part of mine. And I do think if I never had a reason to dress up ever again and spent every day on this property working on clearing land, growing a garden, tending to animals…I’d be just fine with that! <3 I have finally found what makes me the most happy in my life and that is being far away from other people, tending to everything myself and learning a lot along the way, teaching my son useful skills he needs to know for adult life!



For good measure, I can’t forget the progress photos of the driveway!


And of course, lastly, the final before and now photo of the driveway from the gate to the house! To some it may not look like a whole lot was done but this took me probably a good 20-25 hours total over the course of numerous days to get this work done being as I did 90% of it on my own. Riley helped with the fire and hauling around some rocks and firewood but for the most part I knew he didn’t need to be working outside in 110 degrees weather because he isn’t used to it like I am.

I am excited for the near future when I can share with you the next phase of this project. As of now, there isn’t a planned date for what we’ll do next but it will include; gravel, 6 new trees and running irrigation lines from the well to said new trees. Until then…

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-27-15 Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”

Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”, (you can find the info and photos of phase 1 here) picked up a few days after we had some rain that caused us to not be able to get anything done.


This is where we left off, after placing the rocks everywhere they needed to go to create the shape of the new driveway.


My main focus on that day was to clean up this “visitor parking area” which sits right in front of the house against that line of bamboo. The bamboo will eventually be removed to expose a chain link fence that lies inside all that mess. I will have to hire out help to remove the bamboo as I’ve done extensive research on it and it needs to be pulled out by the root which will require a tractor, at the very least. This bamboo was chopped down and burnt out about 18 mths ago and it returned like nothing ever happened. So once that is all gone and I get to repairing that fence I’m going to put a front gate there right in front of the front porch so that there is an obvious entrance for visitors which is THE reason I’m calling this area the “visitor’s parking area”! =) So it had all these wild little desert weeds everywhere and I still had that tree to contend with that I had cut down a good 2 months ago.


First, I knocked down all the weeds with the weed eater and then got to work on chopping up the tree for firewood, kindling and excess to burn and dispose of what was left.


After the firewood and kindly was hauled off to the shop for storage and the fire was going, I got to raking this area to remove all the loose weeds and just clean up the area.


Riley helped man the fire…his way (playing in the water hose, haha!) while I was working on another project so we could have a set of eyes on the fire.


Me happy and sweaty after a half days work on the driveway project again!

That was all we had time for that day as dark approached. I got a lot more done the very next day to wrap up that phase 3 of the project and now you can see that here!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-20-15 Phase 1 of our driveway “redo”

My last blog post Creating a new parking area we left off where I had just been given free river rock from a friend and I used those to create pathways and walk ways in the parking area of our driveway up by the house. This one picks up where I began the driveway process. Ever since I was a child I’ve had a thing for long, tree lined driveways…maybe it’s a southern thing, I’m not sure. But from the first time I came to this property I thought it was odd that the gate was almost centered on the front of the house yet the driveway curves to the left to the parking area. So since I had these river rock I knew I wanted to begin the very early stages of “moving” my driveway to where I wanted it. The end goal is to have a driveway that goes straight from the gate up to the house then you can go left to the shop and where I park or go right to go to the gate to the open field. And then on top of that visitors can pull straight up and have plenty of room to park right in the front, in front of the front porch. Makes sense, right? Ha! So in addition to that I want the driveway to eventually  have 2-3 trees on each side with flowers along the bottom and for the driveway itself to be graveled to cut down on all the dust around the property. So phase 1 of that huge project (that will likely take me a year) is to “move” the driveway to where I want it. So the goal for this smaller project is to use the river rock to create new lines, then eliminate all the weeds and bushes in the way of that, clean up the pathway and just begin using it. Next I will add gravel to the entire driveway. Later on down the road (maybe next Spring) I’ll put in the trees which will have to have irrigation lines ran to them as well as critter-proof “cages” around the trunk of the tree to prevent gophers from digging up the roots so that they can plant properly. After all that is successful I’ll add some flowers!

So on to phase one!!!



Here is a “before” picture of most of the driveway and the front of the house just a couple of weeks after we moved in. I can’t find a better picture taken back from the gate so you can see the whole thing but in this photo I’m standing about half way between the gate and the house and you can see the driveway (where there are no weeds) wandering off to the left and my car off in the distance on the left. In this photo there was still a dead tree just to the left of my flag, on THIS side of the fence line.



 I began by placing the rocks on each side of the driveway where I wanted it to go, straight south towards the house. The rocks on the left you can barely even see because they’re amidst weeds and wild flowers.



Here is a shot of where I’m using the rocks to CREATE a whole new road that goes to the right side of the house to that double gate, which opens up into our side field. This field is now 4 acres of natural desert nothingness and in the future the plan is for it to be cow and horse pasture! So it only makes sense to create a road TO the gate even though it won’t be used frequently for awhile. Planning ahead!!!


Here the rocks are on the left and this is where the driveway will go left and lead to our main parking area at the side of the house.



This is a final shot standing up by the fence line of bamboo by the house. You can see the remnants of that dead tree I cut down that still needs to be dealt with.

I got this done in a few hours in the afternoon by myself while Riley was at school. The following 3 days we had rain and I wasn’t able to work on it at all. But as soon as the rain cleared up I moved on the phase 2! Which you can now find here!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-19-15 Creating a new parking area

One day I met a woman via Facebook who has a property nearby that she said they might be interested in selling. After a few phone calls I setup a time to go meet her husband out at the property to evaluate it and let him know what I think the current market value of his property was. While there I noticed he had these beautiful river rocks (some white and sparkly) all over his property purposely placed along the driveway and around trees. I told him how beautiful I thought they were and we quickly found ourselves in a conversation about my little farm and my homestead dreams. This gentleman was older and said property he had inherited years ago as 5 vacant acres and throughout his young adult life and into married life and having children, he put a mobile home on the property, brought in utilities, planted trees, had a garden, raised a family, had horses, etc. Now that time in his life had passed and his children were grown and him and his wife had moved to a different smaller property nearby. One or two of his children had lived in the home as adults as needed on and off again and now the home sat empty and he was contemplating selling it. To be frank, my goal as a realtor is to get the listing to sell the property but in my heart of hearts if I myself had spent 30+ years starting and growing on a property like he had, I can’t imagine I’d ever want to part with it myself.

Our conversation about the river rock though lead him to tell me that there was river rock all around this area in ditches and dry creek beds that if I was ever out that way I should just stop and load up some and that people do that all the time. I made a mental note to do just that.

The next day he called me and asked me if I’d like a bunch of free river rock because at his work they were removing a ton and he was responsible for “getting rid of it” and so as long as I could meet him there THAT day then I could have however much I could take. I was super excited and free that day so I started getting ready. A friend was in the area checking out antique shops and had contacted me to see what I was up to that day. I told him about the rock and since he was in the area he offered to stop by and help me load it up. I threw on my boots, grabbed my gloves and out the door I went. Ten minutes later I was in an RV park and my friend was there waiting and we found the nice gentleman. They helped me load up my trunk and most of what was in that pile fit but there was a second pile that I just wasn’t going to have time to come back for today.

In talking with my buddy I had told him how I was leaving there to go straight to Home Depot to buy a wheel barrel because there was no way I wanted to start working on any sort of project like this (the one brewing in my mind) without a wheel barrel. I didn’t want to be that “old school”. He told me he had a super old one at him that he uses maybe 2x a year and if I wanted it I could have it, I just needed to come get it. Score!!!! He warned me it was really old and not pretty and slightly rusted and my thoughts were “It’s free!!!” And…it will be a back saver on the farm. I’ve already found myself amidst numerous projects wishing I had a wheel barrel but hadn’t made it a property yet.




So after getting home with the river rock AND my new free wheel barrel, I was super excited! The journey of awesome, friendly locals took about 4 hours out of my day but so well worth it!


This is how much free river rock I was able to load! When I got home I thought it really didn’t look like a lot but hey, free is free and so I was eager to unload it and start placing them along the driveway!

MY IDEA!

My idea was to use these as a phase 1 border for my driveway and parking area so that eventually as I have the funds, supplies or time then I will add in some top soil, mulch, add a few ground cover plants and maybe some pretty bushes. And with my recent research into permaculture I just knew I could add a few berry bushes throughout this side area under the trees for color AND purpose!


A few days previous to this not knowing I was going to find myself with a heap of free river rock, Riley and I found this old railroad tie on the property and I thought it’d be a cute feature as a “parking curb” to add where I always park under the trees. So it took us a solid 10 mins to lug it from one place to the other and not sort of any complaining from my little “City boy in transition”, haha! So this photo shows where that railroad tie is and then where we laid the rocks in a half circle under the 2 mesquite trees. I think I’ll have to start calling these trees the “Married Mesquite Trees” because they are so lovely there together, complimenting one another yet growing in opposite directions to create this beautiful canopy shaded area! <3 


A quick before and after of the area from in the driveway.


A more close up before and after on the Married Mesquite Trees.

Then we ran them along the line of 4 trees that border the fence line from the driveway to the front yard. This is where I hope to have many beautiful flowers and bushes one day, welcoming me home each time I pull up!


 




A before and after of the entire parking area of the driveway after just adding the river rock. I love that it adds some structure or definition to the area that was otherwise just wide open dirt. I like structure.

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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06-16-15 Working on the backyard & inside!

Since the BACK yard (that is fenced in from the rest of the property) was such a low priority before we moved in and immediately after moving in, I didn’t do anything with it for a few weeks. So after we were settled into the house and the front grounds looked decent, I began itching to do something with the back. This is what it looked like.



There is this gap from the back of the house to a concrete slab partially covered by part of a pergola (most of it since removed) because there used to be a huge deck or sun room off the back of the house and it met up with that concrete slab. That part had to be torn out about 2 years ago due to extensive water damage. I hope to add a new deck in the future that spans across the entire back of the house and add french doors from the dining room out onto the deck. #futureplans



Just one of the few pillars left from the old pergola that somebody else (not us) tore down awhile ago.


Desert weeds galore! 



You can see in these shots patchy fence work. What it is is that a few years ago (maybe several) when the fence was originally built they put 2 feet worth of concrete blocks on the bottom and THEN built a wood fence inside or on top of that. So in total the backyard fence is about 7-8 feet tall. Which is nice for privacy but I’ve yet to figure out why they did it the way they did. Now last year a few of those panels fell down and so the unpainted portion is where they put up  new panels and none of it was ever painted. The old fencing is a light blue that was greatly aged by time, not intentionally. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with it yet, if I will paint it all 1 new color or if I’ll paint the new fencing to match the blue aged wood. I can’t decide if I like it or not.



Some before and after collages. Cleaned up the yard and put in some outdoor seating and stuff.





It is far from complete and just the beginning but I wanted to setup a little grill area and since I have personally NEVER grilled the only one I own is this tiny one we bought for a day we spent on the lake last summer. And that lattice you see there is the ONLY remaining lattice anywhere on the property, lol! 



 And here is why I love living in the country! A day with rain in the distance, near farmers with gorgeous rows of corn and this is the view I get when driving to town! This corn field is just about  a mile from my house and I pass it every time I go to town. I love it!


Talk about a mail box redo. That little guy was so ugly and pitiful, much less you couldn’t even see the number. So I just got some black spray repaint, sprayed down the ENTIRE thing and put new numbers on it. I want to do a whole new one in the near future but for now at least it doesn’t look hideous AND it functions as the mail woman can now see the house numbers!


Another gorgeous Arizona sunset from my front yard! I couldn’t love it any more if I tried! =)


To the inside of the house!


Things a little more setup in the living room (although the chase on the sectional was later moved)


Getting the essentials put together in my room. Love my old metal headboard and foot board and this adorable antique nightstand I got off of Craigslist. I didn’t redo that one, someone else did, but they did aqua paint and applied a crackle finish on it after. I love it! 


Dining room progress!


Oops, almost forgot! A corner in my room where I have an antique chair, an old antique phone a friend gave me, an antique sewing box kit on the floor and my Ariat cowgirl boots! =)


The built in book shelf in the living room. I have many more books than that…


Dining room buffet all setup! =D

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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05-26-15 Final grounds clean up before move-in!

Picture time! The end of May we spent another day at the house to clean up the grounds around the shop and driveway so that that area would be “cleared” prior to us moving in. Here are some before and after photos of that!


Standing in the shop looking out before…


Same view, before…


After the driveway to the shop was cleaned up!








Standing in the shop looking out towards the well into the driveway area before with all those weeds!




After! All the weeds got pulled or raked up and into a pile to be burnt!



Much better driveway/parking area!



Then for fun I really wanted to mark these walk way and driveway areas because it always felt odd that it was all just wide open, no shape or definition to the area. I did this purely for fun and for me to see visually if what I had in my head (and on paper) would look right in person. So I used black spray paint to create these lines. The picture above are the two lines around 4 tall trees, 5 pomegranate trees and the entry gate to the front yard. In the future I hope to a permanent border, water lines ran from the well and flowers and bushes filling this area inside the trees!


This is a shot of the two mature mesquite trees framing the shop that I love so much! For the longest time I’ve been envisioning a hammock between those two trees as a wonderful reading spot! I wanted to keep the walk way to the shop and the backyard gate open (as you can see by the lines) but have this rounded outline that compliments the canopy of both trees. So when I do put in the permanent border it will be in this shape and inside it will probably be mulch or something soft, other than just dirt.



This is the well and pump that sits right in the middle of the yard. Where I’m from well pumps have adorable little pump houses! Although I’m sure their primary function is coverage and preventing weather and sun damage, I also just think they’re super adorable. So the goal here is to eventually have a Pump House that looks like a tiny 4×4 little shed with a door and window, maybe even shutters. Just something that covers this but looks cute. And the Pump House will have a few bushes around it. 



This is a view of when you pull up the driveway and you’re facing the house but you look to the right, there is a big gate over there that goes into the open field. The gate needs to be repaired but I imagine one day when I’m using that field for horses or cows that having a gate on this side will be beneficial so I want to make sure that when I redo the driveway there is a pre-planned option to GO that way, as well as to the left to go to the house and shop.

Next blog post is about moving day!! Yay!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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05-23-15 Deck lattice removal & yard clean up

I knew we had some things to clean up around the property before we moved in because it had been on the market for about 6 months and the last time I had been there to clean up the weeds had been about 2 months before. On the day we actually were to move in I wanted my only concern to be moving in and unpacking. So Riley and I spent some time at the property before moving day working on some things.


From the first day I set foot on this property a couple of  years ago I hated this lattice on the deck on the front of the house. If you want privacy then I guess it’s a good idea but I like looking out to the yard or the mountains and enjoying the view. So it had to come down! And Riley man is always up for demo work!






We brought our puppies out to the farm to see what they’d think about it. And on this first day that Riley and I spent about 4 hours there, our yellow lab Bella would not sit still. She ran her heart out around that whole property, all over the place and back and forth. Now Max, our pitbull mix, is much lazier! He would follow her and check things out but he’d end up on the porch with us before long.




The lattice is down! Yay!!!




A before and after of the same area! I can’t imagine why anybody would ever put that up.



Riley helping blow the huge tumbleweeds after I raked them up.



Working away!


Side yard clean up done!




Here is a nice before and after of the small yard side! It was BAD before!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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