Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lets see what the Stairs look like without carpet!

So, I figured that I should start another home improvement project. Hope doesn't like the carpet on the stairs so I figured I would see whats under it.
First off, here is what the stairs looked like with carpet on it.
Kind of lame, so lets see whats under it.Hmmm, not much better, whats under all those tack strips and foam.
Pure ugly, but at least there is some beat up hardwood to work with at the top.
Not very promising, but thanks to the "This Old House" website I found out how to refinish hardwood. So I am in the process of redoing the stair case. I have only done the top of the stairs until I get the approval of Hope tonight and then the sawdust will fly!
Oh here is what the top landing looks like after the first coat of poly and with some of the trim painted white. When I'm done all the trim in this room will be white..

On an odd note, I thought I heard the faint whimpers of a Jeep saying "when is it my turn?" while I was working on the stairs. Mmm, must have been the wind.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brian's 30th Birthday!

Yesterday (Friday) was Brian's 30th birthday! He worked the night before, so we had a quiet day at home once I got off work. Movies and pizza from Community Tap- the primo pizza place in Fort Dodge.

Today we took at trip north to Owatonna, MN to visit the nearest Cabela's Outfitting store. We hadn't taken a road trip for a while and decided it was time to get out of dodge and check out Minnesota.

So, we programed our Garmin Nuvi for Owatonna and headed north! On a side note, for those of you who haven't yet invested in a navigation system- they're fantastic! Our has saved us lots of hours driving around aimlessly.
Here is ouR 15 minutes stop at a gas station. It took a while from Brian to convince the attendant that the pump indeed was NOT working. He's way more patient than I would have been.
As it turns out, there's a Hope, MN. I thought it was worthy of a photo in our blog. We had a good time wandering around Cabela's...I found a cute new jacket and Brian pined over the boats and bought some ammunition that we needed. Cabela's has an amazing collection of taxidermy animals (not to mention being a sportman's paradise). My favorite was the musk oxen (of course)...they reminded us of Fairbanks and UAF's Large Animal Research Station (LARS).
There's also a very large statue in front of this (and all) Cabela's that was pretty amazing. Two elk fighting. Brian was kind enough to pose. On the way home we saw a beautiful sunset. If you look closely at this photo you can see a wind farm at ground level. They look small in the photo, but the windmills around here are around 400 feet high. They're HUGE!

A very happy birthday to Brian!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Garden...Step 1

Brian and I started our first garden project this weekend. Its still too cold start seedlings, but we were determined to find a way to start tomato, pepper, and cauliflower seeds without having to do it inside. Two indoor labs+lots of seedlings and dirt=disaster. Thankfully we're not the first couple in Iowa who want to start garden plants outside. The obvious solution would be to buy a little greenhouse and set it up in the yard. However, with the constant wind here on the prairie, that wasn't an option. A co-worker of mine, Debi (who lives just down the road), said that we should come out and see the seed-starter that her husband Dean designed and built. Once we saw what they use we decided that we needed one of our own.

Here are some photos of their (awesome) seed starter: As you can see, it works just like a greenhouse, but is shorter and more durable to handle the wind. The lid lifts up, so the seedlings can breath on hot days, but you can close it and keep everything warm during the cooler nights and evenings. Brilliant, isn't it?!

Oh yes, and here is a picture of their pup Ozzie. Ozzie is a 7-month old long-haired German Shepard. He's a big (and I stress big) ball of love and is deserving of having his photo in our blog!So, immediately after we took a trip to Menard's and bought all the supplies that we needed to construct our own box. We decided that we didn't need our seed box to be as big as Deb and Dean's (12 feet) because we won't be planting quite as many flowers and vegetables. Not wanting to bite off more than we can chew (*Brian's words*), we (*Brian*) constructed an eight foot box.

Here are some construction photos. As you can see, the dogs were being very helpful running around with a stick. They love hanging out outside with us- especially in the sunshine!
It is the ugly time of year in Iowa. The fields are bare and everything is brown, but some of the trees have buds, so we're hoping in the next few weeks things will start to turn green.I wanted to show the seed box in relation to our garden. In the photo below you can see Brian in the distance on the corner of our property. That's where the box will receive the most amount of sun. Behind him is the (very large) garden. On the left in the foreground is the composting area. More to the right is the asparagus patch and then our grapevine trellis. Here's the final product! It needs a bit more tweaking, but should work like a charm! April 1 is generally the day to start seeds around here (or so I'm told), so only a few more weeks! I can't wait!
Afterwards, while I was creating this post, Brian napped on the couch. He worked very hard and was deserving of a break. Thanks Brian!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A beautiful gift

Earlier this week I was very surprised to receive a beautiful quilt from my mother-in-law Patsy for my birthday. It is a wonderful gift! I think that I am going to display it in the guestroom so I can show it off when visitors come. I took these photos early this morning after Brian left for work (5:15am), so there wasn't any natural light. Thus, these shots don't do the colors justice- it is very vibrant and happy.
Thank you, Patsy!

Brian's Snow Machine Trip

It has been a quiet few weeks in the Bickmeier house here in Iowa. Namely because Brian has been gone. He packed his gear and headed back up to Alaska for the annual Tok (AK) to Dawson City (Canada) Snowmachine Run sponsored by the Alaska Trailblazers. He had a great time visiting with his parents and catching up with old friends. The snowmachine run is about 200 each way, with a rest stop in Chicken, Alaska. Dawson City has plenty of things to do and it is one of our favorite places on earth. Brian didn't take too many photos, but here on some of the guys getting ready to leave, and a shot of the gift shop in Chicken.