Front Yard on a Hill

Playground Rock

playground rock Placing 008Pete discovered a playground rock, during rock wall adventures in the landscaping project. Sometimes run into a really large boulder that asks to be made into a piece of solid playground equipment. That is what happened this week. This giant had to be moved so we could cut a dead tree down which is where we are going to build a rock wall in front of our house. Etc Etc Etc.

rock Placing 011How many tires are actually on the ground as Pete moves it around with the Kubota? As we move this heavy rock, notice the squished front tires when the rock is being pushed. Do you think it just maybe a little beyond this piece of equipment’s capacity? Sure hope this little tractor is up to the test.

rock Placing 022 rock Placing 028 rock Placing 031Roll, roll, roll. Push, then tilt.

rock Placing 034This granite guy has a flat top just perfect for climbing on, and two stairs on one side with a single stair on the other, it’s perfect for the lawn area. It is truly a climbing piece of playground equipment. The grandkids have already tried all the surfaces out for us.

Rock Movers

rock Pile 02The rock movers union has a new member here at the Woelks in Elk. All it takes is to be an expert “operator” of equipment or be a rock mover by trade. Really, just ask Pete!  You too can become a member of the Rock mover’s union and learn how to make a Ph. D pile of rock just like this. Are you wondering what a Ph. D pile is? Here is a quote from Pete, “It is a stack of rock Piled Higher and Deeper!”

Kubota Repair 001BTW. Expert, as defined by my father, is a drip under extreme pressure.

Kubota Repair 002

Besides, if Peter breaks the tractor he knows how to order the parts and fix them himself. What is the problem?

It takes real talent to move rocks while using equipment that is lighter than the object that you are trying to pick up or move. Just last week Pete had to re-weld the shift lever twice for this poor little tractor. It broke while doing “the impossible”. I wonder what this Kubota tells all the other pieces of equipment in the yard… after the moon comes up each night. It would be interesting to put a baby monitor down there at night to see what the tractor tells the lawnmower, and rototiller when we are not there.

rock Moving 01Here is a pictorial sequence of hooking up to move a big rock with a tiny garden tractor and a chain. Simple, really! Sometimes you have to start with digging a little to be able to reach underneath and put the chain around it.

rock Moving 03Then you hook the chain to the bucket and start to back up real slow and pulllllllll.

rock Moving 07I can see this little orange Kubota sweating as it strains.

rock Moving 05Look at how interested Max is in seeing the rock move. Not even a little bit.

rock Moving 08When it reaches where it is going to rest, for now, placing a rock under one edge allows us to easily hook a chain around it next time without having to dig under it.

rock Moving 10Okay, now imagine doing that all day long. Fun!

Sycamore Tree

Sycamore Tree 02Beauty and the Beast

We decided to cut down a Sycamore tree that I planted 25 years ago after finishing the reno on the storage shed by the garden. The sycamore was one of those expensive landscape tree purchases costing a whopping $60 in 1995. Which is a lot, to a single mom’s budget. I really loved this shade tree cooling our mobile home over the years.

A Sycamore is actually a gorgeous large hardwood with lots of big green leaves and is perfect for shade in yards and parks. However, if you have even a slight allergy to its pollen it can make life quite miserable. It became a real chore to mow the lawn under it. You would start coughing as soon as you started mowing and then experience a sore throat with swollen eyes, and coughing for a couple of days after, even if you used a mask and eye coverings. Sycamore Tree 01We set up to sell art at a downtown garden show. The booth next to me had a professional tree trimmer in it. I happened to mention to him how irritating the mowing under our Sycamore had become, and the guy laughed. He said that whenever people wanted a Sycamore’s trimmed the price went up. His crew has to wear a full suit to prevent respiratory and skin irritations associated with them. That was shocking to find out but reassuring at the same time.

Finding that out 2 years ago has had me thinking that tree maybe wasn’t such a good idea. When I looked up at the buds on the tree limbs this spring I told Pete that I had enough of the allergy stuff. So, we decided to go ahead and take it down.

Sycamore Tree 03Check out the massive root system. Taking this tree down as a project had a comedy show of I N T E R E S T I N G events attached…. really. Honestly, I’d tell you about them but then I’d have to kill you. Internet BS is not allowed for this top-secret event, so, you’ll have to come to see in person to get the story on the rest of this adventure.

Here is a link to more information about Sycamore trees if you are interested. Pay attention to the problems paragraph a few paragraphs down.


Vintage Farm Storehouse

Storage Shed Reno 20Renovation Complete

The latest in fashionable, “Vintage Farm Storehouse” decor in Spokane county. To achieve this look you must save materials from other demolished structures over the years in the hopes of being able to re-use them again. In other words, you have to be a penny-pincher that saves everything. Easy enough. It also helps a lot if you are handy enough to be able to alter things whenever they don’t quite fit.

Storage Shed Reno 14Waterproofing

Most of the re-used metal was from two storage sheds we took down. Both from over that year of real heavy snow that caved in their roofs. The flashing that you see Pete installing is the final part of the waterproofing on the wall. Notice his version of the man-lift, in an orange Kubota tractor bucket. Handy-dandy.

Storage Shed Reno 21The T-1-11 already there was in good shape on the other three sides. We had to close in from grade to the bottom to finish the structure. It was surprising how fashionable it all looked when we noticed that the colors matched our scheme.

Storage Shed Reno 18

I had to re-set the fancy entryway with the old CMU blocks for the steps after we were done. It was tempting to go to town and purchase fancy flagstone for the entryway but it’s better to stay with vintage.

Storage Shed Reno 19You can see that this front entryway just shouts an authentic farmhouse greeting to you as you approach. It makes you feel right at home.

If you are in need of a professional country farmhouse designer for your project, be sure to contact Peter for advice. He could probably be convinced to show up and help you with perfecting your own design, with some foldey-green. At least you would be sure to be entertained with suggestions that may arise when you do.

Old Studio into Storage

Storage Shed Reno 01 Our to-do list calls for making the old studio into storage next. Because, in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, we might need more storage. What do you think? Anyhow, you can see the little white building located next to the garden directly down the hill from our house.

Storage Shed Reno 02

Just to make things more interesting, spring conditions are in full effect requiring the use of mud boots for walking outside. You can be walking along real normal and suddenly sink into clay up to your ankle. There is a real art to coaxing your boot back up out of the mud without losing your balance.

Storage Shed Reno 03

This structure was a 16′ x 8′ addition that sat against the old mobile home back door. When we moved into our new home and took the old mobile down, this structure was left missing a wall. As a temporary measure, we covered the stud frame with plastic to protect it from the weather. You know how temporary measures go, though, well that was half a decade ago. Poor thing. The first day was spent preparing it to move about 9 inches over to correctly allow for the electrical panel feed line. While doing this, we made sure it was level in its new location. It is amazing how much it had settled over the years.

Storage Shed Reno 06

Then we got busy removing loose boards at the eaves which revealed a host of varmints living in that space.

wasp & bird nestsCheck out how many wasp and bird nests!

Storage Shed Reno 05

We have leftover wood and a small window from construction that we used to close the wall. There was just enough wood to be able to close the eaves.

Storage Shed Reno 08

We plan on using metal for the final siding, from the storage sheds we took down a couple of years ago. At least, that is the plan. The truth comes out when you start sorting through the piles. Maybe we will even put a quick coat of paint on it afterward if we have the energy.


Pies By Pete

Peach & Cherry PieMen Bake Beautifully

Here are two pies by Pete sitting on the counter. Contrary to popular belief, men are some of the best bakers on the planet. It is kind of a family joke, as I carry in one of Pete’s pies to a party or gathering. I can’t tell you how many times someone assumes that I was the one who bakes any pies that we bring to a gathering. Nope, you couldn’t be more wrong, it is Pete who does the pie baking in our house.

Today’s dessert selection looks quite tempting, The hardest thing for me is to walk past them without touching them as they are cooling. I’d like to stick my finger in both of them to try, but I don’t think anyone would appreciate it. The one on the left is called fresh peach pie and it is a custard type filling with pieces of sliced peaches in it. The one on the right is a normal good old cherry pie. Yummm!

When I met Peter he invited me to his folk’s house for a Christmas gathering potluck. I had no idea that there were 9 children in the family with all their children. It was quite overwhelming to try and meet all of them and try to keep any of their names straight. I was a bundle of nerves till we all played cards and told jokes filling the whole house with laughter together. I sure miss those big family gatherings and playing 3-13 together.

Dorothy Woelk was the best pie baker in the Spring Valley Mennonite Church. Her pies had crust that simply melts in your mouth. Perfect every time and gone in a flash always. Her son learned how to do this magical feat from her. Thank you, Dorothy!

I’m so glad I married a pie baker!

Cooking TV Dinners

Lasagna & Enchiladas
Lasagna & Enchiladas

Here is cooking TV dinners in advance in the Woelk house. A couple of pans with lasagna and a couple of pans with enchilada. The next step is bagging and freezing and then we have quite a few dinners that can be heated up in the microwave.

I spent a large majority of my life working more than one job while raising two kids as a single parent. This taught me to do a lot of cooking on my day off so we could have meals real easily when we got home. I still do this when I can, even though it is only Pete and me now. I guess old habits die hard.

Cooking is something I enjoy a lot and good-tasting main courses are a must. If you are wondering where the recipe came from, it was taken off of a lasagna noodle box from the store. There is added garlic and more of the good cheeses, but it isn’t altered very much from that first recipe found on the box. So, if you keep your eyes open you can discover wonderful recipes all over that are tried and true to use in your own kitchen. The manufacturers of the ingredients have a lot of experience with what they make don’t you think? It is worth a try anyhow.

Now the enchiladas are a recipe that my mom made repeatedly. I loved them so I paid attention to how she did them. I have made them so many times now that I don’t even need to think to know what we need from the store. I almost can make them up while wearing a blindfold, but the mess would be atrocious. Anyhow, I hope you are able to get a few of these kinds of recipes under your belt so you can fill your home up with delicious smells too.



Aluminum Signs

aluminum signs
signs from

I got some cool aluminum signs for our place at: They cost less than I thought they would and they should last with our weather up here. What is neat is you can even custom order signs with what you want on them.

Just wanted to make sure that anyone planning to do destruction here has fair warning. LOL!

Woelk doggies

The dog almost looks like our love muscle Max if the head was just a little wider, doesn’t it?

Bread Baking Day

4 loaves of bread
4 loaves of bread

Today is bread baking day at the Woelks in Elk. Part of learning to live more simply for me is to cook almost all of our food ourselves. This includes basics like homemade bread. Just about every other week I make a batch of bread up.

After these loaves cool, I wrap them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and place them in the freezer. When we thaw out a loaf, I set it on the counter and make sure we eat it before the week is out

No Preservatives

There are some things that I did not know about fresh bread. Store-bought bread lasts 2 or more weeks sitting in its bag on the counter. But, there are no preservatives in homemade bread so it does not last even a whole week on the counter. When it decides to mold it is a really fast transformation. Really, quite amazing to see, like a science experiment in the kitchen.

You can not store freshly baked bread in a refrigerator unless you like bread that really resembles croutons. Hard as a rock. The fridge and fresh bread are not friends as far as I am concerned.

This favorite recipe is a 4 loaf mix that starts with 14 cups of flour. It is simple bread that I have never had anyone complain about. This same recipe can instead make either a large pan or two 9×12 cake pans of cinnamon rolls and 2 loaves of bread.

If we are wanting dinner rolls this recipe makes four 9×12 pans of dinner rolls that can be frozen too. Or, sometimes I just roll them into golfball size balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer till they are frozen. Then they are easy to bag and keep in the freezer. This is really handy because we can use as many as we feel like. Taken straight from the freezer, we let them thaw out and raise in a greased baking pan. Then bake in the oven right before dinner. People think you slaved all day over dinner.