Friday, March 30, 2012

March Sewing/Crafting - A Springtime Dress for Kat

New springtime dress for Kat.

I thought last month that I would sew something (or two somethings ) for Kat, using patterns and fabric that I had already bought.  As it turned out, I did use a pattern that I'd already bought, but I bought the fabric a couple of weekends ago at the grand opening of our new Joann Fabric and Crafts store.  I also waited until the last minute and only had time to sew the one garment.

This simple dress is from the Simplicity Sew Simple line of patterns, No. 2020.  It's basically an A-line jumper with D-ring fasteners at the shoulders.  The fabric is cotton seersucker in pink and purple paisley.

I cut the pieces out on Wednesday, so all I had to do today was sew.  I took my time, with plenty of  short interruptions for snacks, drinks and email, and it still took less than 4 hours to put together.

Here are pics with more detail.  I will try to post a picture on Monday of Kat modeling it, along with a matching accessory that I think I can whip out over the weekend.

D-rings at shoulders.  I don't trust these to not slip,
so safety pins or Velcro may be in order.

Gathered detail at neckline.

Next up in April is an apron that I'm making so that I can participate in an apron/recipe/postcard exchange sponsored by the Down to Earth blog.  My swap partner is in Australia (Hi, Robyn!).  I can't wait to swap goodies with her.

Face the Music - Drive-By Truckers - My Sweet Annette

I have a niece who laughs at inappropriate times.  She honestly can't help it, but if a bookshelf were to fall and hit you in the head, she'd laugh. 
My own inappropriate sense of humor isn't quite as obvious, but I do find poor Annette's story just the tiniest bit amusing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Blog Award

Jill, at Blessings of a Stay at Home Mom, has bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you so much, Jill!

Normally, I have an aversion to blog awards, because 1) I never know who to pass them on to without slighting anyone else, and 2) my circle of blog friends is small, so by the time I get an award, most of my blogging buddies have already received it.  Makes it kind of difficult.  But since this is the first award I've received for this blog, I'll give it a try. 

I think 15 is an awful lot of people to tag, but I did manage to come up with 12.  If I tag you, and you've already received this one, or just don't feel like participating, I understand completely.  On the other hand, if I didn't tag you, but you'd like to play along, feel free to tag yourself!

Here are the rules for accepting the award:

1) Thank the person and link to their page
2) Select 15 bloggers who you follow regularly or have recently discovered & share the award
3) Share 7 things about yourself
4) In their posts of acceptance have them include this set of rules
5) Let each blogger know they have been nominated by leaving a comment on their blogs.

1) I was a math geek in high school and I probably still have the medals to prove it.

2) I will NOT...ever...under any circumstances...sing karaoke, but I will be the first to make a fool of myself on the dance floor.

3) My eldest sister named me.  (Not Annie, but my real-life name).  She found the name, suggested it to my parents, and they went for it.  BTW, I do not know even one other person who shares my real first name, although there seem to be a lot of women who do when I search it on FB.

4) In keeping with the name theme, my blog name Annie comes from my middle name Ann, which was also the middle name of both of my grandmas. Annie is the name I used to give to guys in the bar when I didn't want them to know my real name, and it's still the name I give when I order coffee at Starbuck's because it's so much easier than using my real name.

5) Although I don't/won't get into politics on my blog, I step down firmly on the liberal side of the fence.

6) I think I learned to cook via osmosis.  My mom never required me to help in the kitchen, yet when I set up my first household when I was 20, I knew how to cook almost everything she did.

7) I am not a strong swimmer by any means, but of my parents' six children, I'm the only one who learned to swim at all.

So there you have it.  I'm a geeky, liberal, cooking, swimming, dancing fool who lies about my name.  Yet a few of you still agree to be seen with me in public.  Imagine that...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quick Mid-Week Update

The call came around 8:00 last night for Shane to go back to work starting today.  I don't know how many of the jobs they've been waiting for have actually started up, but I do know how his boss operates.  He wouldn't have called Shane back to work for just a day or two.  So, we're going to assume for now that everything's back to normal, barring a day here and there that will be missed because of spring rains.

So, Shane's little vacation's over.  Who am I going to get to do all the heavy lifting around here now? 

Seriously, a month is long time to be together every day when you aren't used to it.  Oh, we got along fine, but  I never felt up to speed with my housekeeping while he was here.  I think we did more talking than working.  That's a good thing, I know, but I think we appreciate each other more when we have a few hours apart each day.  Oh well, I guess it's all good practice for our retirement years.

I was hoping I could settle back into my quiet, solitary routines right away, but that won't happen this week.  Today I have errands to run, and very possibly, tomorrow, too.  Friday my daughter will be here all day to have another sewing lesson that I don't feel qualified to teach.  Maybe next week will be when I can finally find my new, old normal.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Garden Tuesday - A Peek At My Bloomers

We had around 3-1/2 inches of rain last week, spread over 4-5 days, with moderate temps in the 60s.  Then it was warm and sunny over the weekend, so now everything's really started to grow.  Shane (and some other folks on our street) has mowed twice already, and our veggie gardens are looking a little greener by the day.  Maybe next week I'll have some more edibles to show you, but for this week, here are some blooms-n-blossoms.

A young rhododendron.

Bee in the white bud tree.

Crab apple blossoms.

Tulip that Kat brought home from school one day.

Red bud blossoms that were just buds last week.

This post is being shared at Garden Tuesday with Sidewalk Shoes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beautiful Anniversary Weekend

What a beautiful weekend we had.  Mid 70s on Saturday and closer to 80° on Sunday, bright and sunny both days.

We were expecting a visit from my dad on Saturday afternoon, so Saturday morning I did some cooking and cleaning.  Since it was the first day without rain all week, Shane worked outside planting a few more things and tidying up around the yard.

My dad showed up around 4:00.  We visited for a while, threw some burgers on the grill for supper, played a rousing game of washers, visited some more, and hit the sack around 10:00.

Kat and her great-grandpa playing washers.

We played two games and both times Dad defeated us all quite handily.
Yesterday morning after a quick breakfast of bacon-and-tomato sandwiches and homemade granola muffins, we went to Nate's Swap Shop, an outdoor flea market at a now-defunct drive-in theater.  This swap meet is open on weekends throughout the spring, summer and fall -- and even in the winter if there happens to be an unexpected warm weekend. 

After the swap meet, we found a few rare Sunday garage sales.  Our best buy, I think, was a complete, like-new croquet set for just $4.  Kat was asking for one just a few days ago, so that was a great deal for us.

As soon as we got back home, my dad grabbed a couple more granola muffins and headed for his own home.  By then, it was around 3:00, so we decided to go out for a late lunch to celebrate our anniversary.  We chose Lorenzo's, an Italian place near our house.  Their food is good, and we each came home with leftovers, so I didn't have to cook supper, either. 

We spent the rest of the evening straightening up around the house, planning lunches and getting Kat's clothing ready for the school week ahead.  Shane still isn't back to work, but he's been told the call-back will probably come late next week.  That's alright; he isn't done with the honey-do list yet and can use a few more days at home.

That's the scoop on our weekend.  Tomorrow is Garden Tuesday, so stay tuned.  I want to show you my bloomers!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Face the Music - Tracy Byrd - Keeper of the Stars

I don't talk about music much on my blog, but I love it. I'm indifferent toward the television, but I'd have music playing in the house 24 hours a day if I could. I don't understand why Shane turns the stereo off in the van sometimes. Who wants to hear road noise?

I also think you can tell a lot about someone from the music they like, so I'm thinking of posting a music video now and then. By the time I'm done, you'll be able to tell some things about me, too. For starters, you'll clearly see that I'm an oddball. You probably already know that, though.

Tracy Byrd - Keeper of the Stars

This could easily be the most mainstream song I'll post here. I've chosen it, though, because it was our wedding song. I thought it an appropriate choice for this week since our 12th anniversary is this Sunday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Self-Control and the Struggle to Stay Productive

What's your Internet Achilles' heal?  For some it's Pinterest.  For others, it's on-line games.  For someone else, it might be eBay.

I don't have a problem clicking away from any of those, but I can't seem to stay away from Facebook.  It can suck the hours right out of my day.  I don't know why I have such a weakness for it.  While I do "get something out of it", especially on my Haphazard Homestead page, I don't think what I get out of it is commensurate with the time I can find myself putting into it.

Worse is that I can't seem to leave it alone on my own.  I'm not normally one who has trouble exercising willpower, but staying away from Facebook is harder for me than cutting back on sugar was last month, or giving up cigarettes cold turkey was ten years ago.  I did give FB up cold turkey a couple of years ago (really, that long ago?) and did fine, but I don't want to give it up entirely now; I think it's a usefully tool for bloggers.

What I have found that works for me is LeechBlock.  LeechBlock is a free Mozilla Add-On for those who use the Firefox browser.  I can choose what sites to block and either block them entirely, for specified periods of time each day, or specified amounts of time within a time period (for example, I can block a site for 45 minutes out of each hour), or I can set up one-time blocking as needed.  There are also tracking tools to show you what sites you spend the most time viewing and other nifty tools.

I've tried a few different scenarios.  Blocking Facebook from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was a little too stringent, but allowing myself 10 minutes each of those hours was still too lax.  I'm currently allowing myself a half-hour in the early morning, an hour at lunchtime and a half-hour in the afternoon, plus unlimited time in the late evening and on weekends.  That gives me several large blocks of time during the day to get other things done without the Facebook distraction.

I'm sure there are other similar tools on-line for folks who don't use Firefox.  I did a very quick search of "website blocker" and came up with a few.  LeechBlock is free, and others may be as well, but I have seen some that charge a fee for the service.

I think these tools work psychologically as much as they do practically.  In addition to my laptop, we have two other computers in the house that are not blocked.  I could easily hop onto one of them to see FB while mine blocks it, but I don't.   I could also get on Internet Explorer and access it that way, but I won't do that, either.  I guess I just need a small reminder to turn away and stay on-task with other things.

I don't block any other sites at this time, but if one becomes a time-suck for me, I will add it to my list.

What about you?  Do you have a lack of will-power when it comes to certain websites, or the internet in general?  What tools do you use to make your day more productive?

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  This is simply a tool that works for me and I thought I'd share it with my readers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Split-Decision Pasta Salad

When it comes to pasta salad, we all like it, but we have a hard time agreeing on whether we want a creamy macaroni salad or tangy vinegar-based mix.  I decided to solve that problem by making the same time.

This recipes makes a fairly large batch which served as side dishes for three different meals last week.  Feel free to cut the recipe in half.  Also feel free to omit or add additional vegetables as desired.

Split-Decision Pasta Salad

1 pound small pasta shapes, cooked according to package directions, rinsed and cooled
3 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion

Add shredded carrot, chopped bell pepper and chopped onion to cooked pasta and mix well.  Divide this mixture into two equal portions.

For creamy macaroni salad:
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Add cheddar cheese to one half of pasta.  Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, black pepper and salt; mix well. 

Pour dressing over pasta and stir well to combine.  Chill well before serving.

For tangy pasta salad:
1/4 cup chopped mixed olives (any kind of black or green olives)
1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Add olives, Parmesan cheese, and feta cheese to other half of pasta.  Toss to combine.

In small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, basil, oregano, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine; pour over pasta mixture and toss well to coat.  Chill well before serving.

This post is being shared at the Hearth and Soul Hop with Premeditated Leftovers and Delicious Dish Tuesday with Full Time Mama.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Garden Tuesday - First Day of Spring

Geometric strawberries.

We had very warm weather all last week with nothing but more nice weather in the extended forecast.  The calendar says spring is here, and I believe it.  Not saying that cooler weather couldn't return or a frost couldn't happen, but I'm just not feeling like it will.

We've been busy growing our garden area.  We started out a few years ago with three raised beds.  We've added at least one bed each year and started planting in-ground at our fence line.  This year we've added three plant pyramids, four boxed-in raised beds of various sizes, an "un-boxed" mounded raised bed , trenches for potatoes and a conventionally-tilled plot to try our hand at raising corn.  We've nearly doubled our garden space this year.

This time of year, new beauty can be seen daily, whether in the form of something we planted or in the form of plants and trees that were already here when we moved in six years ago.  Here are some photos of what was going on Sunday afternoon.  Hopefully it will be sunny the next time I take garden shots.

This pic shows about half of our raised beds and the three pyramids.

Closest to the camper are our three original beds and
one we added the second year of gardening.

The two background pyramids have strawberries in them.  If you look closely at the pyramid in the foreground, you can see seedlings just emerging.  This structure is planted with lettuces, radishes, carrots, beets and green onions.

These are made from a split tractor rim and have 1st-year asparagus
planted in them. The mounded bed behind will eventually
be planted in bush beans.

This square bed we added a couple of weeks ago has been planted with ground cherries.  Nothing is planted in the two new beds behind/beside it yet.

Our first small strawberry blossoms.

Marching March peas.

Container chives coming back for a third season.

Redbud buds not quite ready to open.

This post is being shared at Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pleasant Weekend and Our First "International Meal"

We had a very pleasant weekend and enjoyed the last couple of days of really nice weather.  Rain is in the forecast for most of this week, with daytime temps back into the 60s.  That's still very nice for this time of year in these parts, but after last week, it will seem a just a little on the cool side.

Saturday saw us dropping Kat off at her mom's house for the weekend, then heading to the City Market.  It's early in the year for many of the local farmers to be there, but we thought that we might find one or two of them set up with some bedding plants for sale.  That we did, along with a couple of vendors selling homemade breads and tropical plants, but we didn't find anything we wanted.  We also checked out the "permanent vendors", which are mostly produce importers and ethnic grocers.  Didn't find anything we wanted there, either. 

These pictures aren't from this weekend, but from all the way back in July of 2007.  The market looks about the same, but Kat looks very different.  She was just 4 years old here.

We did buy a couple of items at one of the Asian markets in the same general area, then we were off to take a look at all the weird stuff at Weird Stuff. Weird Stuff is a junk store/antique shop of sorts that specializes in the odd-ball and off the wall.  Saturday the proprietor was dressed in a clown suit and had his fur-covered Cadillac pulled up out front.  That's not always the case, so we felt we'd been treated.  Anyway, we were there to look at a guitar they'd listed on their website.  As it turned out, it wasn't what Shane thought it was, so he didn't buy it.  He needs another stringed instrument like he needs a hole in his head.

We stopped for lunch at a dive called LC's Barbecue.  It's near our sports stadiums and has been in business, like, forever...but I'd never tried it.  (There are so many barbecue joints in KC that it's probably impossible to try them all.)  In my opinion, it was just ok.  The meat was smoked well, but didn't have a lot flavor.  The portions were big, I'll say that for them.  But the place really is a dive.  They had a recent food inspection certificate on display, but I couldn't help but wonder how they earned it...LOL.  Lucky for them, that kind of thing doesn't bother us much and we stuffed ourselves silly on pig and french fries.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol pulled into LC's right behind us, but not because we did anything wrong.  The Troopers just wanted some sandwiches.  Hauling this around is hungry work, I guess.  They'd had the 1959 Dodge cruiser in town for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The rest of the day was less eventful for us.  No more Troopers, clowns or fur-covered cars to be seen, so we came home and had a very nice supper of grilled salmon, grilled asparagus and pasta salad.  Some of the asparagus actually came from our garden!

Yesterday was fairly calm.  Shane worked in the back yard, building more raised beds, moving more topsoil from the big pile out front, and generally doing whatever needed to be done before the rain moves in.  Here's a quick pic of what's going on outside.  I can't get it all in one shot, but I plan on posting more garden pictures later in the week.

While Shane gardened, I hung a couple loads of laundry and did some cooking.  As I mentioned in my last post, Kat suggested that we cook an international meal every now and then, choosing a different country's food each time.  Since she was gone on Saturday, we decided to have our Irish/St. Pat's meal yesterday.

I used my friend Alea's recipe for corned beef, potatoes and cabbage cooked in the pressure cooker.  It turned out great, and was an excellent reminder that I should use my pressure cooker more often.  You can find her recipe HERE.  Trust me, you'll want to bookmark it and try it next March.  Or maybe even this week, if your local store puts their excess corned beef on sale. 

When Kat got home, we enjoyed our meal and played a couple of games afterward.  I don't think she was very pleased about spring break being over, or that she had to go to bed on time so she could get up early for school today.

So, tell was your weekend?  Did any of you celebrate St. Pat's Day in a big way, or did you keep it low-key like we did (I didn't even drink a beer this weekend).  And what's in store for your week ahead.  Me?  I'm off to pay some bills this morning, but beyond that, I have no clue!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Five

  • We'll be "celebrating" St. Patrick's Day on Sunday instead of Saturday.  Kat suggested earlier this week that we have an "international dinner" every night, choosing foods from a different country each time.  I think I've talked her down to just once or twice a month instead of every night.  Our first meal will be Irish, but Kat will be with her mom tomorrow, so we're shooting for Sunday.
  • Our spring garden is almost complete now.  Asparagus, rhubarb, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes were already in the ground.  To date this year, we've planted more strawberries, more asparagus, potatoes, shell peas, snow peas, three kinds of lettuce, radishes, carrots, green onions, and beets.  We still have Swiss chard, turnips and some brassicas (kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) to put in, probably today.  We've also planted ground cherries, which are completely new to us.  Has anyone else ever grown them?  Seems like I read about them on someone's blog last year (was that you, OBQ?)
  • We have tulips coming up out front, and we really had to rack our brains to remember how they got there.  Finally we decided we got them from a friend last summer, along with several other perennials and bulbs.  I guess we put them in the ground and promptly forgot them.  Oh well, it was a nice surprise.
  • I just spent a good twenty minutes researching whether it should be "rack our brains" or "wrack our brains" with no definitive results.  Some sites say one is correct, some say the other, and some say either is right.  From now on, I'll just say "we had to think really hard".
  • Kat and I got our hairs cut this week.  Mine was really more of a trim, or re-layering, if you will.  The stylist told me my hair is "really healthy".  I'm pleased with that, because for months,  I've used nothing but our homemade bar soap on my hair, with an occasional rinse of apple cider vinegar and an even more occasional olive oil treatment.  Then the stylist proceeded to use shampoo, conditioner and hairspray on my hair.  My hair felt so dry and looked very frizzy when I left the shop, and I'm soooo not used to all those smells.  I could hardly wait to get home and wash it all out.  LOL!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Clash of the Icons

Sometimes it just gets weird around here.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yesterday's News

Just a quickie post to show you what happened yesterday.

Our first spear of asparagus made an appearance.

Our first leaf of rhubarb broke through.

Our first daffodil bloomed, and by first, I mean first ever in this lawn.  The cluster was transplanted from our neighbor's yard three summers ago.

Our outside (feral) cat, Pinky, is becoming more and more trusting.  After more than two years, we can pet him if we stay in the house and reach through the door.  This week, though, we have been able to go outside -- both on the deck and in the yard -- without him running for cover.  Oh, he still runs, but he doesn't hide.

In these pics, I am halfway down the deck steps while he sits below the deck trying to figure out what I'll do next.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

I'm thinking about making these for breakfast this morning, so I decided to pull the recipe from my old blog and post it here for anyone who would like to try it.  And trust would like to try it.


Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

1 cup milk
3/4 cup wheat kernels (aka wheatberries)
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons honey or sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put milk and wheat berries in blender.  Blend on high for about 4 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and blend a few seconds until mixed. Batter will be thinner than most pancake batters.

Pour batter onto lightly oiled, hot griddle or skillet. Cook until bubbles form and begin to break, then flip and cook for about two minutes on other side.

Serve with butter and syrup or honey.

Makes approx. ten 5-inch pancakes.

Source: Pleasant Hill Grain Company

This post is being shared at Hearth and Soul Hop with Premeditated Leftovers and Delicious Dish Tuesday with Full Time Mama.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Break Kick-Off

Kat has spring break this week, and I mentioned last week that Shane is also off until some constructions job start up, so the whole gang will be home all this week.  We decided to "kick off the week off" by going to Springfield, Missouri, for the weekend.

We left early on Saturday, stopping at a discount grocery store and a small second-hand store in a town called Humansville on the way.  We are not preppers, but if any of you are, this particular discount grocery had lots of dehydrated foods in 5 gallon buckets and they seemed to be reasonably priced.  As for us, we only bought a couple of bags of pasta (fun shapes I don't normally find in the store) and a three pound bag of Sucanat.

Once we made it to Springfield, we spent several hours in one of the many large flea markets there.  The only thing I found for myself was a 3-yard piece of fabric in a seed packet print that I'll use to make a couple of aprons.  Kat found several things, both practical and whimsical.  Shane found nails...LOL!

After the flea market we went to visit my sister and brother-in-law for a couple of hours and went out for a Chinese buffet dinner before we headed to our hotel room.

Some of you may know of the AmericInn chain of hotels, mostly in the northern states.  This weekend, we stayed in th only AmericInn in Missouri, but Shane stayed many, many days in one while working in Garden City, KS, much of last year and accumulated many, many points toward room discounts.  When we went to Colorado last summer we stayed in one of their hotels and had all kinds of problems, but the location we stayed at this weekend is the nicest of the the four we've visited, and with the discount it only cost us $30 for the night. 

Kat loves the pool, and swam both Saturday night and Sunday morning.

We had to check out by 11:00, but it might really have been 10:00.  Hard to tell with the time change.  On a whim, we decided to stop by the Bass Pro Outdoor World.  We have a couple of Bass Pro Shops here in Kansas City, but they aren't as impressive as the original in Springfield.  Kat doesn't remember going there as a toddler, so she was very taken with the animals, both live and taxidermic. 

Live 'gator.

Three live turtles and one cardboard turtle.

Mother and child.

Live alligator gar.

I was taken with the huge fireplace, the outdoor cooking gear and some hillbilly novelties. 

I want this in my house.  The doors on that thing are 5 or so feet tall.

Redneck champagne flutes.

Because I have an adolescent sense of humor.

Looking at all that venison on the hoof makes a person hungry, so we met up with my sis and BIL again for lunch at America's Incredible Pizza Company.  Think Chuck E. Cheese on steroids.  Pizza buffet and games galore. Rest assured that this would not have been my first choice in eating establishments, but the games made Kat happy and the buffet made BIL happy, so we were all happy.  Besides, it was raining, so there wasn't a lot we could do outside.

By then it was 2:00 or 3:00 -- again, I'm not sure which -- and time for us to head home.  It was a quick ride, considering I can't seem to stay awake in a car anymore.  I slept half the way, read the other half, and we were home before I knew it.

It was a good weekend, starting off what I hope will be a good week, but it's going to be a madhouse around here.  I don't promise to post every day, but I do promise to try.

And now, before I's a family portrait...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not-Quite-Done Door

Our new back door project is almost done.  Shane put the trim up today.  What remains to be done is staining the wood trim, touching up the wall paint where we took down the vertical blind, and deciding on window treatment. 

The plan is to buy and install the add-on mini-blinds that are encased in glass, that can be tilted or raised with the touch of a lever.  That will go on the center (main) door.  For the sidelights I'm considering lace panels stretched from top to bottom and cinched in the middle.  They'll let in light without affording much of a view into the house.

A related project will be replacing the kitchen floor that was damaged because of the old door leaking.  Shane's going to take a break before tackling that.

Anyway, since SonyaAnn and I love before and after pics, here they are.  Try not to get too disgusted with the old door photos.  I tried to keep up, but once I knew we were getting the new door, I gave up instead.

Daylight and cold air coming in around sliding door.

We used a board to wedge the door shut to stop some of the heat loss.

Nasty mildew on the stationary side of the sliding door.  Once I knew we were getting a new door I quit trying to keep up with cleaning this. 
Disgusting to look at and disgusting to deal with.

View of the old door from the back yard. 
A deck remodel is in the works, too, sometime.

Another view of the old door from the back steps.

The "crew" making adjustments after taking the old door out. 
The new door was about 6 inches wider than the opening.

Looks like the new door is going in, but no...

It was dark by the time they finally got it set and leveled.

Not the best time of day for a pic, but you get the idea.  Stain will be
a pecan color, similar to that hutch on the left. The sidelights are
screened and will open to let the breeze in.

New back door from back steps.

New door from back yard.  It would look sharp with a new deck (hint, hint).

Hey, we got a new light fixture, too!

So, there you have it.  It's done enough for now.  We're headed out of town for the weekend for a little fun.  Hope you have a good weekend; I'll be back on Monday.
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