Thursday, September 25th, 2008

more apples and other projects

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As you can see we were up to elbows in apples again. This time the task at hand was to make [crab]applesauce. We ventured to Williams-Sonoma to purchase a contraption to make this mission a bit easier, and we finally settled on a tomato press. I was a little skeptical that the process result in an edible product, but, to my surprise again, we got ourselves 10 quart-size jars of a crab-applesauce. At first I noticed a bitter aftertaste, but after consulting our applesauce expert, Kathy Olsen, she recommended adding a dash of vanilla. And, whattayaknow, it actually worked. The sauce is a little more tart than traditional applesauce, but everyone in the Hawley home enjoys and devours it (one jar is almost empty so far).

Here’s Annie working her muscles to crank out some mushy crabapples. Notice the blue bowl on the left–that’s where the undesirables get spit out. We didn’t realize this would happen until it was too late, and apple vomit ended up all over the counter and floor.

Mimi was pretty good at working the machine, too. Honestly, I can’t remember why she is just in her skivvies.

Last week we had the opportunity to finally get a chance to venture down to Chicago. My dad was in town for the night to deliver Josh’s, my brother, furniture which was in storage in Florida for a long time. The girls’ got their first ride in a taxi cab. I feel so bad because I totally spaced getting pictures of my dad, Josh, and his new wife, Erin. We did have a nice time though.

We interrupt this post for a brief bit of news. The dog has decided that the chair/couch in our den is her bed. I was noticing it getting dirty and hairy from her dogness, so we put some blankets on the piece of furniture to shield it. However, that pesky dog managed to wriggle her way under the blankets which completely defeats the purpose of the blankets in the first place. Tell me again how I ended up with this dog?!?

Now back to talking about projects. When we moved into this lovely home we were disturbed by the lack of any deck or patio and wondered how a family could live in this house for 14 years without ever being able to grill or eat outside. Maybe they did, but it would be a little inconvenient. So Mike and I decided we would do something to remedy this problem by adding on a patio to the back of the house. Of course, this project has taken on a life of its own and is not nearly as simple (or inexpensive) as we planned it to be. In spite of that, we are making progress.

Step 1: We had to dig out the area where the patio would be and to dig down about 7 or so inches. Fortunately, Mike had some men from church come over for a whole Saturday to help with this daunting task. Thankfully, I didn’t have to shovel one fleck of dirt from the ground:)

Step 2: Once the ground was completely dry (we had almost a full week of rain), we covered the ground with 3 mil plastic sheeting.

Step 3: This was the worst step ever; we covered the entire area with gravel. It took Mike and me all of Saturday and some of Monday to complete this step. Let me tell you, shoveling gravel is a very intense workout which causes much soreness the next day.

Step 4: The gravel needed to be compacted, and we rented this wonderful machine to do that job. I loved this part because the machine does most of the work, and the operator just needs to guide it. Mike and I took turns.

Step 5: We put about 1 inch of sand and had to level it with a 2x4x10 and level on top. Notice how much sand is in the truck bed? Picture gravel instead and multiply it by 7 loads = sore arms, back, butt, and even obliques.

Step 6: Hooray, the actual laying of stone has begun. And what better way to start than with our circle of life (that’s what I’m calling it anyway since I feel like I’ve practically sacrificed my own life in order to get to this point).

Step 7: We almost completed the floor of the patio, but a few delays kept us from completing finishing. The stone cutter cutting only an hour into its cutting, so Mike wasn’t able to finish cutting the pieces to fill in around the circle. The place where we purchased all this stuff also wasn’t able to deliver the wall of our patio because their forklift broke. So we are at a standstill until a week and a half from now. Why a week and a half, you say? Well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

Lucy was taunting us all day by running over the sand and even lying in it. She is just so naughty!

The reason we won’t be able to pick up where we left off with the patio for a few days is because Mike is leaving us to go hunting in SD with some buddies. He’s been working hard for us around here lately, so I think he deserves this trip. Plus, he hasn’t gotten this opportunity since before starting endo school. The girls and I will survive, I suppose. We’ll actually stay pretty busy with our usual daily routines.

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