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    Question mark cucumber Well, hello there!

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve updated my blog with a “regular”, non-giving-something-away, real honest to goodness words from my own mouth kind’a post. So here it is!

    This summer has flown right by. Once I put my garden in the ground, things picked up. I’ve signed back on with EWebscapes as a freelance designer so I’ve got a few projects going on there, a few on my own – and then toss in a weekly giveaway, children at home and bored, a husband who is on active duty with guys overseas, a complete gutting & revamping of my studio space, a couple of road trips, tons and tons of PICKLES, planting an insane amount of daylilies at our Church and OH YEAH, I can’t forget about Facebook!!

    And that about sums it up.

    You’d think that with all of this, I’d have lost a few pounds this summer right? Wrong. Add that to my pile of “things that frustrate me to no end.” I wait, for school to start – and I hope that things become “normal” again. What, pray tell, is normal to me?? Will I even recognize it? I wonder.

    Today, I decided to stop for a few minutes. To give you a glimmer of hope that some day, I will write again, I will write more often. As my time over the summer is so short, I am finding that the little space that Facebook provides for status updates is just enough to keep my creative spark alive, and it makes me anticipate the time I will be able to sit down and craft a fun and creative story to share.

    My weekly custom portrait giveaways are also giving me exactly what I need each week to stay creative as well. It is not a large investment of time, and I still feel very committed to it – 34 weeks in and I still enjoy it, giving that piece of time to someone each week is extremely fulfilling to me, and so I shall push on through the end of the year!

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support through the years and especially during “dry” spells, where stories are sparse and my weekly drawing is your only eye candy until the next week. I cherish your comments and e-mails and, well, thank you. So much. Because I know you’re busy too, and that you understand but don’t forget. I love you for that.

    On with the day now – and don’t forget, it IS Friday, and this week’s custom portrait giveaway will close at around 5pm tonight!

    p.s. Like my veggies? They are so sarcastic this year.

    Why My Hands Are Swollen


    landscaping project foundation flooding fix Leanne Wildermuth
    Here it is, folks – the reason I cannot make a fist … the reason I am taking 800mg of ibuprofen a few times a day, the reason I mouse with my hand on a gel-ice pak. Yes, indeedy – this might not look like much to the untrained eye, but to someone who has taken on a project like this at their own home – you know what I’m talking about!

    A week ago today, I had 2 cu. yards of topsoil delivered. The “before” photo above is what our foundation bed looked like that morning. The soil sat below the driveway by nearly 2 inches, which meant that every time it rained, 2 inches of water sat in that bed and drown my Roses, Azalea, Rhododendron, and Iris.

    With the amount of rain we’ve had so far this year – every one of my Roses was dying. Black spot had taken over the lower 4-5 inches of each of my plants. The leaves were yellowing. The Azalea didn’t even start greening up until 3 weeks after all the other Azalea’s in the neighborhood had finished blooming. The Iris only produced about 4 flowers of the whole bunch – the Rhodie had yellow leaves from the water and burned leaves from the sun. It was all very pitiful.

    Enter 2 cu. yards of topsoil.

    I pulled everything out of the bed, save the Honeysuckle and a 13+ year old Rose, that wasn’t about to budge. I did manage to work the soil around it up enough to raise it a couple of inches, and shoved soil beneath it to keep it from sinking back down.

    My driveway looked like a nursery! I had containers filled with plants lining my driveway. A mound of dirt, covered by a tarp. It was quite the project. The first day, after working the soil, filling it to level with the driveway and stomping it down, I realized that the cedar edging was not going to work. It would not hold the soil in, and I could not sink it below the surface successfully. So after 6-7 hours, I took my sweaty self down to Lowe’s and picked up some recycled composite edging that gave me 3-1/2 inches of height. It would have to do – because it was too late to turn back!

    And then, it rained. And flooded. And my dirt? Became mud. And the mud? Was quite heavy. And the sweat? It dripped from the tip of my nose like someone had a hose over my head.

    I protected the lowest piece of siding on the house with plastic edging. I set the composite edging against the driveway. I filled the bed. It is about 5 inches higher than it used to be, and 3 inches above ground level (the edging is countersunk against the driveway about 1/2″).

    I moved things based on what I’d learned over the last year of watching them drown and do poorly, and I gave them new homes.

    The Rhodie, now in part shade, should stop burning and thrive. The leaves are already deepening and it seems very happy. The Azalea, moved over by the northeast corner, gets sun most of the day and with the downspout being redirected off onto the driveway, will get better drainage. The Roses, they’re pitiful. They’re adjusting. I’m praying for their speedy recovery.

    I’ve added Coral Bells and English Ivy on two beautiful window-looking trellises to my north wall that is mostly shade. They are very happy, the Ivy is going a little nuts after just a couple of days.

    I’ve added Morning Glories on medium-sized heart trellises, because I need hearts in my garden – I am such a girl. They flank both sides of the Roses, on the East side of the house. I’ve also added a white Potentilla, because Lowe’s said it was dead – and how dare they?! Rude! It had plenty of life in it, so for $5, I get a gorgeous, delicate flowering shrub next year. Go me! I almost feel like I rescued a dog from being euthanized. Almost. I have a lot of plant love.

    The Iris, well, they’ve got a whole area all to themselves. My old fashioned Iris are in the back against the house, and my Batik (and white) Irises are in the front. They’ll get full sun and I’ll get Iris. Happy plant = happy gardener!

    I mulched, and added some garden gnomes (because I’ve come to realize that every garden needs some tacky crap) and some word stones (“Mom’s Garden” and “Believe”, because “Hope” has lost all meaning to me lately), so I am all set.

    I have already picked my first weed, so it’s official – I am obsessed with my new raised bed, and also, sporting a very, very wicked back tan.

    I might not be able to hold a pen, but dang, I look good!

    It All Started With a Hairy Melon Ball.


    baby musk melon ball leanne wildermuth vegetable garden

    The weekend started off with a wave of excitement as I discovered my first Musk Melon taking shape in my vegetable garden. I squealed like a girl, in proper first-time-vegetable-gardener form, and set to fetch my camera. There are hairy melon balls hanging ALL over the place, and I know that sounds so wrong but it feels so right. I want to go bless each of them with Holy Water, or something.

    And then, I gazed. Stargazer Lily Island has fully developed, and I want to pop a tent and live in the back corner of my yard. It’s a bit harder to isolate the lilies now that there are so many, but I am fully enjoying that there are so many. I will be moving them closer to the house. They are waaaay too far away from me. Must. Bring. Closer.

    Of course, I would not be me if my weekend didn’t set out to overachieve in some aspect in my life. This weekend I chose to build a custom vanity cabinet for my shoebox sized bathroom, “easy peasy” I said, as I packed my daughter, my big purse and myself into my car and headed to Lowe’s for all of the fixin’s. If you can’t find it pre-made, build it yourself, right? Right. So I have this under 24″ space to fit my sink in, and nothing in this bathroom has EVER worked (for long). I built it in my head, and then I built it in my garage. With Hubby and Catybug’s help, of course. It was a 6 hour project, an experience I’ll never forget, a Saturday I’ll never get back, and….

    custom 20 inch drop in sink cabinet leanne wildermuth
    A sink I’ll never use. Anyone need a 20w x 18d x 32h custom vanity cabinet with a drop in sink? Urgh – when you have a shoebox for a bathroom, the last thing you want is something so deep that it makes you feel like your peeing in a porta-john. Seriously, if I gain just 3-5 pounds, someone will have to pry me out from between the wall and the cabinet, and that would not be pretty.

    Well, then, on to the next project.

    Did I mention my garden is doing well? Four burpless cucumber plants have taken over half of my garden. I have more cukes than I can count on two hands, what’s a girl to do? Make bread & butter pickles, that’s what.

    bread and butter pickles cucumber garden leanne wildermuth

    If you like bread & butter pickles, then you’ll want to check back, because I’m going to have a little contest, and you could win a jar. Because I’m a Midwestern kindof gal, and it’s a Midwestern kindof contest.

    While my cukes were cooling, I meandered around my garden again. As I do every day, I stopped to smell the roses.

    This rose bloom was just picture perfect. I was pretty angry when I went back to appreciate it again, as there was a Japanese Beetle munching a great big hole in the petals. I’m glad I captured its beauty while it lasted.

    lupine bud bloom macro leanne wildermuth

    I didn’t know what to expect from my Lupine this year (especially since it’s not a Lupine, it’s a Delphinium. Thanks, Taba.) – I planted the root last fall and it’s supposed to get really tall and be very hardy. It’s slowly making an appearance, and the blooms are so dainty I’m afraid I’ll hurt it if I get my nose too close.

    Enough with the wandering around the yard, there’s work to be done. Our honey-do list included installing the vanity that I didn’t want, but have to live with because the other one is too big. Got that? Okay. Well, on the honey-don’t list was “break the sink we have to live with.” We successfully took that off the “don’t” list and then quickly added to the “do” list “fix the support that busted in half when top heavy sink falls forward onto Hubby’s leg and shaves off top 3 layers of skin”. Check. First we repaired Hubby, then I repaired the sink.

    And also? I attempted to remove a nut that had rusted onto the waste line with a tool that was not a pipe wrench. The result?

    torn nailbed leanne wildermuth

    Tears. Lots of tears. And then, a(nother) trip to Lowe’s.

    I eventually got the nut off (using the proper tools, and some spray goo that loosens rust), because my bathroom hates us and I’m bound and determined to fight back and win. I figured if the plumbing doesn’t work this time, I’ll google how to build a bomb and blow the freakin’ bathroom to smithereens. That’ll show it who’s boss. Of course it would have to be a bomb that would only blow up the bathroom, and it would have to vaporize all remnants of the immediate area so there’s no clean up involved.

    Well at 6:58pm we realized that Lowe’s closes at 7pm so there was no more shopping on Sunday for us, and that meant no more plumbing, which also meant putting a big bowl under the bathroom sink so we could brush our teeth. Whatever, I’m used to brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink so just being in the bathroom was sweet victory to me.

    Monday morning. The Monday morning that no Quad City resident will ever forget. A storm blew through here like I’ve never seen, winds blew upwards of 100mph. Trees came down. Power went out. The Cities are dark, still, and I feel so fortunate to have power.

    The National Weather Service says the storm that hit the Quad Cities is called a “derecho“, a type of long lived and destructive wind storm.

    From our local news station this morning:

    Moline, QUAD CITIES — MidAmerican Energy says 72,000 Quad City residents and businesses are still without power as of early Tuesday morning.

    At 3 a.m., the largest concentrations of those without power were located in:

    * MOLINE – 33,000 are without power
    * ROCK ISLAND – 28,000 are without power
    * MERCER COUNTY – 6400 are without power
    * ROCK ISLAND COUNTY – 5100 are without power
    * COAL VALLEY – 4041 are without power
    * HENRY COUNTY – 2620 are without power

    Alliant Energy is reporting fewer scattered outages in southeastern Iowa. About 500 are without power north of the Quad Cities.

    The utilities report they have broght in extra crews to try to restore power to the region. At one point, more than 200,000 people were without power due to the strong storms.

    To say that trees came down is really an understatement. What really happened was that the entire landscape in the Quad Cities was changed by force over the course of one storm that lasted about one hour. City streets look like country roads – no stores are lit up, no street lights. People lining up to buy generators, McDonald’s, gasoline. Chainsaws are completely sold out.

    Trees were just ripped in half by the winds. I saw a tree that had to be 6-8 feet in diameter lying on at least one car, maybe more. Many trees just completely uprooted and lying on their sides.

    quad cities derecho storm tree torn leanne wildermuth

    Our damage was minimal. We lost a couple of branches about this size:

    quad cities derecho storm tree torn leanne wildermuth

    And smaller pieces were scattered all over the yard. We are definitely one of the fortunate ones – and I’m so thankful that we had our tree thinned out last year.

    eerie clouds quad cities storm leanne wildermuth

    The clouds lastnight were eerie, but beautiful – as I hosted my girlfriend and her boys who are without power, it’s been an unusual 24 hours and we’re wondering how long before power is restored to our area. We’re also wondering what we would do if we had to live without it on a permanent basis. Life without power. What would that be like?

    An Electrifying Project


    We’ve lived in our home for nearly 12 years. When we bought the place, I was pregnant with Catybug and we had visions of grandeur, just like every young couple. Over time, parenthood and home improvement projects have worn us as they do every other hard working DIY’er couples.

    Keep reading »

    Filled to the Rim


    We made it through the weekend, although slightly damp and a little swollen – no worse for wear! We have the best looking trash in the neighborhood – topped with lovely plush carpet and padding, to boot!

    (By slightly damp I mean soaked to the bone, and by a little swollen I mean walking around like really old people in dire need of hip and back replacements. Sucks, getting old.)

    So here’s some of the havoc we wreaked, and we’re looking for a couple of contractors to finish what we started.

    Keep reading »

    Girlie Room


    Mark and I had a backbreaking weekend working in the girls room, but I think it was worth it!

    Here are the before shots – messy as they are, I had started emptying their room and then remembered to take the before shots. Woops!


    And here’s what we did:

    Keep reading »

    The ceiling didn’t fall on me!


    Good morning!  I have a few “progress photos” to share today.  I didn’t take pics of all of my band-aids, and I’ll just leave it at that.  ;)  This view above here is for all of you who have never visited the Mississippi River before, yep, it’s the Mighty Mississippi.  You know how folks say “it’s only a hop-skip & a jump away”?  Well the MM is literally just a hop from here!  Skipping and jumping is optional upon arrival.  They have a beautiful parkway (when it isn’t submerged) with a bike path, I took the girls down there this week when I had a bug fogger going off in the house.  (iew, bugs.  bitey bugs.)  It was a gorgeous day, obviously a few other folks were enjoying it as well.  :)

    I finished drywalling the family room, taped most of it, need to mud it and get the cabinets in there.  I also put a floor down in that space, and will cut the carpet back further for a few more tiles in a fun half-circle design.  Here are a few shots of what it looked like the other day…

    Drywall Completed

    this is what’s going on that wall…except for one piece I found space for after I drew this out!

    The Entertainment Wall

    The old living room carpet is gone, bye-bye old yicky carpet!  Guess what was underneath?!  Yes, tile, but really old tile, and the kind that needs to be treated before you go walking on it barefoot or anything.  So I treated that on Thursday night and yesterday morning.  Blechy fooey on uncovering more problems with every project!  Dagnabbit!!  (I can whine just a little bit can’t I?  I mean it’s just me doing all of this, and I’ve been really good about not cussing like a regular construction guy would

    Now I do need to get the baseboards painted in the living room but I HAVE to take a day (or two) off from this.  It is making my mind warp in ways that just plain hurt.  I took it easy yesterday, believe it or not, and only painted the part of the baseboard around the entry way so I could get the new floor down in that area, well then I thought heck, I may as well paint the door too, so I did that.  (Someone smack me!)  Here’s a teenie little preview of what I did yesterday and what it’s going to look like with the new carpet:

    I do believe I’ve caught you all up with the past few days at my house, sans the really pitiful me that sat and moped and got weepy over missing my hubby so much…not to do the work, but just for me to rest my head on after I finished.  He knows how much I dig these projects and what a tomboy kinda gal I am, the only thing I ever say “I can’t do that” about is getting up on a ladder – and now I’m doing that too.  I miss my man.  9 months to go.

    BTW, I haven’t updated my weight loss progress in a while.  I’ve lost 42 pounds now.  I have 21 pounds to go to meet my goal, and 9 months to do it.   Hm…that’s about 2.5 pounds a month, and I’ve been averaging 8.4.  Not too shabby, I’m actually quite pleased with myself since I’m down 3 sizes (6 if you count by 1’s, lol), fitting into things I haven’t worn since 1997-98.  Even found my favorite jeans, Levi Silver Tabs that I loved so much and have been looking for for years – in a bag of my “don’t fit into these anymore” clothes – pulled them out and they fit really nice, and they’re a Junior’s size!  I love it when that happens.

    Ok better get moving for the day.  I hope you all have a beautiful, calm, sunny weekend!!


    A surprise guest!! (updated 7:45 am)


    Grab your coffee, come outside with me I have to show you these!!

    Just your average day here, I was working away on clearing out the mess I made, getting ready to clean carpets when all of the sudden,
    someone stopped by! You can imagine my surprise, I mean it’s not often a celebrity like this just pops by and waits for you, you know? We were all so excited!! Squealing and being giddy, just your average girls here. ;)

    Yes that was our excitement for the day!

    Here’s a lovely I photographed yesterday morning after giving my babies a little misty drink. See my baby refreshed!

    **I’m adding these from my morning coffee break. Enjoy!!**
    Soaking up the morning sun :)
    More lily blooms
    Morning footsteps on my rooftops!

    Oh alright, enough with the break already. Get back to WORK WORK WORK! Yes, the insulation is ALL DONE. Old stuff out, new stuff in. Area is taped off/sealed, carpets are so clean I hate to replace them, and now all I need is someone to pick up 6 sheets of drywall for me. Ooh yea I was going to call Lowe’s and see if they deliver for free. Yep, then I can drywall, install cabinets, a little floor, and bing-bang-boom, we’re ready to go (rip the rest of the room apart!)..hehe!

    Ok have a great great Wednesday! I can actually kinda relax a little today before I move all of the furniture. Hip hip hooray! ;D

    Art & Construction.


    Most of my Print Auctions are ending today if you haven’t seen them yet. I added my Purple Tulip to my available prints, it looks lovely!! (I am partial to purple!)

    Mark has been asking me to make a stencil of Wile E. Coyote for the guys over there to use on a few things. That’s not the stencil of course, this is my test spray of it with hand embellishments that Mark can hang on his wall of photos. :D I sent it off yesterday, along with a few spare stencils they can trace onto something else. I know how guys are, they like to rip and tear stuff up if it doesn’t go how they want it to go! Goofy guys! Ok that’ll be $150 bucks guys, for chiropractic treatment on my hand and wrist from holding that daggone x-acto so tight & pressing through many layers of cardboard! (Just kidding! about the bill, not the

    Did I tell you my Stargazers outside of my front window are blooming? OOOOOH yes they are! Yummy!! (I smell more paintings of them coming!)

    What else…ooohhh yea…the room. Well I think I’m going to have to take a progress picture of the mess I made yesterday. oops. The ceiling, well ok the FIRST ceiling (yes there are two, just like the walls), appeared to have some water damage on top of damage I made removing the closets – on top of just being old and stinky. :P

    I ripped them out.

    Blown cotton insulation fell like rain – ok no more like a monsoon or something – all over everything. Last night’s trip to Lowe’s brought home a 12 gallon shop vac (everyone should have one of these, and they’re ON SALE!), 2 rolls of insulation to replace that other gook, and a FACE MASK. Good gravy! I couldn’t have had enough bandana’s on my head to prevent that stuff from getting up my nose. :P~

    Here’s the mess!

    Today I have to clean up my mess. Then I have to get all the wood I tore down out of the house!! There are a few pieces “in tact” from the closets – framing, thick pine paneling, etc. and I told Caitlin I would see what I could save to build them a mini-house in the backyard. Wouldn’t that be cool? They may be getting their own little pine cabin. Fun!! I always wanted one of those!

    Ok I’m procrastinating now… I’m going to go outside with my coffee and camera and do my morning wake-up and smell nature thing! :)

    Have a Happy Tuesday & thanks for stopping by!!

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