Monday, August 29, 2016

Patio Progress

So funny story… I had this whole personal pep talk, soul searching, deep digging internal event... and decieded I was ready to actually use my real camera and give you real photos (not iphone photos) of things. So I got the camera out and took nice photos of the leather pillows I sewed for my living room. And then I went to upload them and discovered I have misplaced my camera’s battery charger…as the battery died.
Life, I tell ya.


Until I find that….

iPhone to the rescue.

Let me show you our patio progress! It’s turning out rather mind blowingly good.

I had an imaginary vision for it -- but I couldn’t see it. Now that it’s physically appearing before my eyes I’m shocked by it’s wow factor. Blake is doing amazing!!

So, two weeks ago we had our pavers delivered. We found them at Menards and got them all during a sale. Score.

Then my parents came to town to visit and my dad helped Blake lay the retaining wall for the suken part. 
I’m not in on the manual labor business, I’m the kid wrangler. So I can’t tell ya much about it. But they told me that part required the most precision work -- it kinda determined the precision of everything else. So they spent a lot of time making sure everything was level and square.
To the left there, you can see the sump pump bucket in that circle slot in the ground. That’s going to carry rain water away from our house to keep the family room dry.

Then another day Blake and a friend built up the half circle step/platform by the sunroom doors.

In this picture Blake is racing the rain, to get the sand covered by a tarp, just to make sure stuff doesn’t get washed away.
We seem to be getting a lot of rain while this project is underway. I can’t tell if it’s extra, or if that’s normal and that we are just really noticing that because of how it effects stuff. But either way, it’s rained often in the last two weeks.
So yeah here’s where I brag on Blake for a bit.
Let me tell you all the awesome things he’s been doing.

He moved 7.5 tons of road-pack gravel by hand, with a shovel and a wheel barrow -- from the driveway around the side of our house to the back yard.
7.5 tons by hand!
It’s not something I ever really stopped to consider before, but I just feel like saying a single human moved a literal ton of anything sounds amazing. And he moved seven and a half of them!
He debated renting a bobcat, but we’ve rented a few other things for this project and I think he was just dedicated to saving the money this time around.
That was a lot of labor, and he did it well.

After the gravel was in place he rented a tamper, and with a friend over to help, he went around and tamped it all down. I don’t think I got any pictures of that. But the tamper is kind of the shape of an oversized vacuum cleaner, only of course it’s not vacuuming -- it’s got a flat plate there that vibrates like crazy, pressing down the ground.
That tamping process makes the gravel turn into what feels more like cement when it’s all compacted down, and will make the ground more stable and less likely to shift in the seasonal changes.

Next he laid down landscaping fabric, to keep out weeds.
And then again he went to work with the shovel and wheel barrow and moved 5 tons of sand by hand!
He said the sand felt easy after gravel!
All I have to say is wow.

So random story time. 
There was a day at this stage where there was an BIG heavy rain, for like 15 minutes. The new sump pump is in, and had been working wonderfully. But this day it had been unplugged for something. (I didn’t know that and I kinda panicked for a minute thinking it was broken. Until Blake plugged it back in.) 
But the brilliance of this patio, is the fail safe aspect of the sunken part. If the pump doesn’t go on for some reason, the water has a place to go, that isn’t our family room!!
Another brag on Blake there -- he really thought this whole thing through!
That day’s rain was the kind that guaranteed would have soaked our family room before this project. But the family room was totally fine and dry -- even with the sump not plugged in. 
(After we plugged it in, it emptied in no time.)
And cute story time-- Jasmine is into having imaginary fairies and mermaids right now... so they swim in there, and play in the “fountain” the sump pump makes. I love it.

Anyway, here Blake is laying the bricks in place for the ground.
Once again -- gold stars all around.
He told me from the get-go whatever lay out for the pavers I could come up with he would figure out how to do and make it work. And that he has! He’s rocking it out.
He’s even putting up with me coming outside after he’s laid some and being like “umm wait, we need to tweak the design.”
I’m trying not to do that much. But I’ve had to do it once in a rather annoying moment. And another time I caught it before any real work had been put into it.
I love him for letting me do that because it’s making all the difference in the world for how it’s going to look in the end. And I know it’s not fun, but he’s good to me. :)
So here’s the sunken part before the fitted corners. I was THRILLED to see this.
Entirely more fancy and amazing than I knew to expect.
After that he moved over the the raised step.

Jasmine has been over-the-moon with helping. She asks all the time when Blake’s at work when she can help next.
She’s helped shovel gravel and sand, and move bricks. And she’s a trooper, I’ll see her struggling with a large brick (and I have to reign in my mom-fear of her dropping it on her feet and let her be), but she doesn’t give up she just keeps at it until she gets it and moves it over to it’s place -- never complaining. Just plodding along. She is into it!

Here’s the step up, with the bricks that need to be trimmed down, just set in place.

A view from the sunroom’s perspective. Eventually all that sand with be pavers too.

Then this weekend, Blake’s friend brought over a special saw to cut the pavers to size.
And over the course of the afternoon they got all the sunken part fitted.

I mean...
….that is PRETTY!
 Let’s just look at it for a moment and savor it...

As far as the sump pump area is concerned we are thinking we’ll probably set a fire pit bowl over it to hide it away.

I’m currently really ruminating on how to use the sunken part.
You may remember me saying in the last part we’d do benches on the sides. But now I don’t think we will.
The depth of the sunken part turned out to be shallower than initially we’d imagined it. 
Us, not being professionals, we didn’t know about the road-pack before the guy came and dug out the area. So that raised it up some. Plus, just generally we didn’t have a super specific depth planned on, so this is the height we got. I don’t think it seems bench-y. 
I want to REALLY nail it when it comes the the furniture I put in there, because as a rule the idea of a random sunken part of your patio seems out of place. So people are going to wonder about it. But I figure if I can plan out just the right something, it won’t be so questionful, but it will look artful.
I also don’t want anything to feel like a trip and fall hazard. So I want the furniture to flow with that somehow.

So I’m thinking like crazy what it could be that we put there. It doesn’t have to be this year that it shows up. I just want to ruminate and find the right thing.

Anyway --

Time for a Family Room Window’s view flash back:

What I saw when we bought the house

What I saw for the past year.

What I see today.

That’s some good looking change right there!
It’s just gonna keep getting better too!
I’m kinda in shock -- in the best kind of way.

Blake, you are awesome!
I love you so much! (With or without a Patio, I love you so much!)


  1. It looks so nice! Depending upon how much y'all cook outside, you could make the fire pit over the sump look brick oveny, and do benches that hover just above the walls. It'd be cute for cook outs with a buffet table, too.

    1. Thank you!! I'm so excited about it!

      We do plan to build an outdoor grill area. That's been Blake's dream for years now...before we had this house. He's wanting a grill, smoker and maybe even a pizza oven.
      But for the sump area, we need the part that hides the sump to be easily moved because we'll need to remove the pump over the winter months. So it doesn't crack in the cold. We are looking at maybe welding a liftable bowl thing.
      The grilling area will probably go close to the fence. And I'm not sure when we will get to that.

  2. It looks so nice! Depending upon how much y'all cook outside, you could make the fire pit over the sump look brick oveny, and do benches that hover just above the walls. It'd be cute for cook outs with a buffet table, too.

  3. Wow, the brickwork is amazing! I think a fire pit would work great in that spot. I'm so interested to see how this whole project turns out! I'm sure you'll figure out something awesome to do with the sunken area :-)

    (Side note -- I had my baby and the whole process made me think of you. Ended up with more similarities to your first than I would have liked. I.e., ended up with a cesarean. When I get more of my brain back I suspect I'll be browsing through some of your archives. At least the baby is cute, right?)

  4. You might be eligible to get a Apple iPhone 7.


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