Monday, June 29, 2009

Home grown goodness! My garden is doing well!

I have been growing all of my edibles in pots on the picnic table so Beanie can't pee on them and Pokey wont lay in them and so far so good!Beans proof garden

My cucumbers are insane. We ate one last night and they were great. I have never had an organic homegrown cucumber before and I have to say it was very flavorful and a little earthy. The first bite was a surprise, but the second was amazing. The skin was nice and thin, not all waxy and thick like store bought cucs. I am excited that we have about 20 more growing out there, and two almost ready to pick!Cucumber

Tomatoes... not doing so well :( Not a single baby tomato on the entire bush. Not sure what I did wrong, but :(Still no tomatoes

Jalapenos are doing well. Right now we have only 1 left of the 8 I planted (thank you squirrels) but its huge and has about 20 flowers on it. Hopefully all of those turn into jalapenos!Jalapeno

Basil, its insane. If Mark and I didnt eat so much basil I would be concerned, but this is like a goldmine of basil-y goodness!Basil

Sage, its beautiful, it smells great and it tastes even better. I need to look up some summery sage recipes. Otherwise, I am drying this stuff out for fall and winter! Sage

Another Southmoreland Tragedy!

Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
Mark and I were driving home from work on Friday when we saw a ton of fire engines and ambulances on Warwick (the street directly parallel to ours). We tried to get around them and found ourselves stuck. We were able to drive by on Walnut (parallel to Warwick) and saw one of the beautiful huge homes on the street on fire. We hope that nobody was hurt in the fire, as there were ambulances. This appears to be a house that is occupied by art students because the yard appears to be a parking lot.

Anyway, we drove past later and saw that this beautiful home had been partially destroyed by the fire. We are just hoping that they decide to fix rather than destroy...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Almost done!

Almost done!
Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
We got everything in, caulked, primed and ready... then we lost steam and went to see a movie. This thing will finalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly be done sometime this week. We still need to get a coat of glossy white paint on it, and put the trim boards on. It will be nice to get all of the construction materials out of the bedroom, as well as getting the hole out of our bedroom. We have lived with this gaping hole in the wall for almost 4 years now, and its FINALLY going away. This will be the first night that we sleep in a bedroom that is fully enclosed! I feel like we're moving up in the world.

Slappy telling an off-color joke!

Happy Slappy
Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
You should hear the jokes this dog tells... you can see from her expression its going to be a good one.

"If an elephant didn't have a trunk how would he smell?"

"Trunk or no trunk he would smell terrible"

Tough Life

Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
Here is a picture of Slappy relaxing after a really hard days work.

Best Old House Neighborhoods 2009: Editors' Picks

Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
We have some terrific news (this is Rachel btw), our neighborhood made it into This Old House's Best Old House Neighborhoods of 2009...

Fantastic! We're beyond excited that our neighborhood is finally being recognized for what it is: AMAZING!


The Southmoreland Neighborhood, Kansas City, Missouri

Located four miles south of downtown Kansas City, the vibe in Southmoreland ranges from family friendly to funky, depending on whom you ask. After all, this neighborhood is known for its eclectic nature, both in its architecture and its residents. Here, well-to-do families live in imposing Colonial Revival mansions side by side with young singles and couples, who flock here to spruce up the sturdy Arts & Crafts cottages. Southmoreland is also home to hundreds of students from the Kansas City Art Institute, who reside in beautiful post-war brick apartment buildings, thoughtfully appointed with multi-tiered porticos supported by classical columns. Established in the late 1800s by well-to-do businessmen looking to escape a chaotic downtown, the neighborhood soon attracted working-class families, who moved here after a streetcar line was established between Southmoreland and downtown. The neighborhood remained vital until World War II, when its larger homes were converted into apartments. These days, Southmoreland is seen as a diamond-in-the-rough opportunity for young professionals looking for a walkable neighborhood offering easy access to stores, schools, and museums.

The Houses
Grand Colonial-Revival mansions and Arts & Crafts cottages, built between the late 1800s and the early 1930s. The former can be had for around $350,000, while the latter start at a mere $120,000. Many homes have already been restored, but hundreds more are in dire need of TLC. All are just a short walk from Southmoreland Park, which features tennis courts, gardens, and an annual Shakespeare festival.

Why Buy Now?
A movement to restore Southmoreland's historic homes is underway thanks to the neighborhood's walkability, close proximity to downtown, and cultural institutions including the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Prices remain reasonable, especially when you consider the quality. Rates of home foreclosures and unemployment in Kansas City belie national trends.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stax, Sun, Graceland, BBQ and Elvis! Memphis, TN!!!

Well… we were so busy in Memphis that we didn’t have time to write the blog as a step by step blog like we usually do, but here goes!

Friday- We left around 12:20 to drop Sassy off with a friend and get on the road to Memphis. We drove down the 71 highway towards Little Rock, Arkansas and it was a pretty dull drive. Once we got towards the MO/ARK border, we started seeing some real beauty. Arkansas was lovely, lots of green and trees. We drove past a ton of stuff we want to eventually check out and we’re looking forward to a camping trip down there. Totally worth the 4 hour drive. We arrived in Little Rock pretty late in the evening, but luckily it was still light enough out to see the beautiful city. We went straight down to the Clinton Park and Presidential Library and took a couple pics. We drove past the cool area on the water with all of the restaurants. We decided to eat at a little sandwich shop and get going.

We arrived in West Memphis around 9:00 PM. It was a total dump. The city itself was really poor, and it was a little sketchy. We had some trouble finding our hotel, and drove through some scary neighborhoods in which we saw a pretty obvious drug deal. Once we found the hotel, we cleaned up and headed to Beale Street.

Beale Street was INSANE! They close off the street and ID people who come in. It was like an urban spring break. Urban being that nobody was dressed for the beach, but it was party central. There were a of couples, people, bachelorettes, and musicians just wandering around. We walked up and down the street a few times, bought a beer, and watched a band. We were so tired that we just went back to our hotel and slept.
We woke up EARLY the next morning and headed to Graceland. We thought that if we got there early, we would be in and our faster… NOT THE CASE! We got there at 9 am, and our tour started around 10:40 am. It was okay though. Did I mention that Memphis is HOT! Not KC hot, but down south HOT! I have never been as hot in my life as I was that day at Graceland.

The tour was great, we saw his house, his plane, his cars, his clothes, his military uniforms. I feel like we got to know the King. I can’t really describe it, but I am truly glad I went. His tiki room, or Jungle Room was just crazy. I loved all the 70’s stuff. He had a really eclectic taste!

We then checked into our better hotel on Elvis Presley Blvd. It was cute and the pool was shaped like a guitar.

After Graceland, we headed on over to Mississippi to eat lunch at Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar Be Que. It was so good! I ordered turkey, Mark got the pork. I have to say this was the best Memphis BBQ we ate. The sauce was great and the meat was tender. Good fries too- Oh and slaw on the sandwiches is common there… who knew?

From there went to the Stax Soul Museum. I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing this place was. This was my place. Mark knows so much about all the Sun Studios and stuff like that, but the soul stuff was the stuff I grew up with, and it really resonated with me. We saw a great documentary on the music, then wandered through looking at all of the stuff. Shaft was playing in the background in almost every room, and Isaac Hayes pimped out caddy was there all restored and spinning in its superfly glory. We saw Otis Redding’s suede jacket, tons of records, and they had addresses listed for so many people’s houses near by. We did some drive bys- but the neighborhood had gone to hell and we didn’t want to find a stray dog, so we moved on. Anyway, this was a great museum, maybe the best music museum I have ever been to.

From there we went to Sun… This was Mark’s moment. You know the picture of the Million Dollar Quartet? Look closely in the background, you can see the weird texture on the walls… we were standing in those walls. Mark got excited. I liked it. Our tour guide was funny, and played good songs for us… I can’t believe the people who have been in that studio- Very worth the trip!

We went to a place called Central BBQ for dinner. Yes, BBQ twice in one day… it was good, not the best, but good. I got the half chicken, Mark got the pork. Great coleslaw. Mediocre sauce. Made me miss OK Joes!

We drove around checking out the city, we saw the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. We wanted to go to the museum but it was closing. It was surreal, and it felt dead. My stomach hurt looking at it because the image of him laying there and all the people pointing is just burned into my brain. I felt weird being there…

We went to a few record shops, and Walgreens so Mark could get a razor… he forgot his razor and I forgot shoes… terrible. I wore flip flops all weekend, which got a little old.

We got to the show around 10:15 p.m. The band was not starting until close to 11, so we got a beer and hung out. We ended up seeing Mark’s friend from his high school days Tom and his wife Katie at the club because they were moving home to Michigan. It was great hanging out with them. The bands rocked, the place was about 110 degrees inside and about 105 outside. I was so sweaty and gross, that I couldn’t help but have a blast. I ended up meeting like 10 people standing in lines, including an attorney from Oakland who practices in Martinez, a girl from St. Louis, Nashville, Austin, and other places. It was great. We had a lofty bar tab, but it was entirely worth it.

We got home after 2 a.m. after searching unsuccessfully for a place to get a waffle. We woke up around 9 and got breakfast at the hotel… they had waffles! We got on the road around 10 a.m. and headed home.

We stopped only twice on this trip home, once in Cape Girardeau, MO and it was great. We got to walk along the shore of the Mississippi River… which was neat. It moves FAST and we saw logs and other things just flying down it. We ate at a great little brewery overlooking the river, and stumbled into an antique store.
Mark ended up with $55 worth of records, including 4 Stax records and 1 Buddy Holly. He also found some other great stuff, but ill let him talk about that.

We hit Trader Joe's on our way home and then booked it home as fast as possible to see our beloved puppies! Ill add the pictures once we get them uploaded!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Now I am just out of control...

I loved my little drawings from before so I decided to show a before and after of the layout of upstairs!



This layout will put us in the warmest/coolest room in the house, also the quietest. It will give us access to the beautiful sun room which people tell us is the nicest room in the house, and once we install a door, we will have a private porch too! I like this idea!

Memphis, TN

Sun Studio Holga
Originally uploaded by J.Ruth
We leave Friday afternoon....

So I have this crazy crazy idea...

And I am not entirely sure how to go about doing this, as it will be a huge project for us- but since we're staying in Missouri, it makes the most sense for us to turn our house into a home... and to do that, we need to fix the layout.

Our house has a certain flow issue about it. It doesn't make sense to me, and I can't put my finger on why. Walls were moved throughout its life that made it different. For example, our bedroom is huge because it used to be two little bedrooms.

Here is a simple layout from Mark's original walk through: Please note this room has been repainted a soft cream.

Not bad, but the room is HUGE! It also has this weird area behind the door that is completely wasted space, and an entire wall that just looks terrible. We don't have the money to invest in expensive large furniture (not that we would anyway) and we just wanted a cozy little bedroom that is a dog free zone (except Slappy).

SOOOOOOOOOO.................... this is where my idea gets a little crazy!

I woke up one morning thinking about my upstairs and how awkwardly laid out it is, and I thought to myself that we should really split our bedroom back into two small rooms. Mark thought it was blasphemy and said "I just can't picture it..."

Here is the current lay out of our room- sans any furniture-

Here it is with furniture:

Here is the new room layout:

And here it is with furniture:

We know its a lot of work, but we don't want to get this done for a while... its just in the ideas phase right now- let me know what you think!?

Oooh- Also, we would be moving our bedroom into the now office, and using the old guest room as our "sun room" with a doorway to the upstairs porch... it will be like a little master suite!

Home Grown FOOD! Yummy!

Our garden is blowing up... we have been enjoying the fresh grown basil for a week or so and our sage and jalapeno are getting big. Our bread machine has a "dough" function and we've been testing pizza dough recipes to find one that we really like.

The winner so far: Cheri's Favorite Pizza Dough:

Its good because it has semolina in it, which gives it that sandy texture on the bottom like at pizzarias and its also chewy and soft.

Our topsy turvy tomato keeps getting bigger, but alas, no tomatoes!
Tops turvey

Our cucumbers are the star of the show though... I counted 16 baby cucumbers yesterday on the large vines I grew from organic seeds!
Baby cucumber

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just for the sake of reminising!

Our bathroom was hideous... it looked like someones 1960's Maybelline Mascara nightmare!


I made sure to include a larger picture so you can see all of the little highlights in this lovely room. Please note the really bad white vinyl flooring that was so old and brittle the our dogs footprints became a permanent addition to these floors when we couldn't scrub the dirt out... You could literally see foot prints on the clean floor. Remember how people used to wax their floors? Me either, but apparently this is what you did to this old vinyl to keep it from getting so porous. Next, please note the different colors of tile... Pink, Burgundy and of course white... it goes great with the spearmint walls.


Note the awesome oak embellishments that match the beautiful brass hardware on the sink... I think someone found all of these things in a junk pile and installed them in our house!

The after... take white paint, a home depot sink, recycled tile from the restore, a new faucet and toilet and you have:


Holy hole in the wall Batman!

So, many of you don't remember our houses layout when we bought it. It was converted into two units, and the top unit was a 1 bedroom apartment. Our bedroom was the living/dining room, the office was the kitchen and the guest room was the 1 bedroom. I'm sure you all remember our huge renovation of the upstairs kitchen... we gutted the entire thing... So, the closet in the office used to be the walk way into the living room (now our bedroom) and we never closed it up. It had a door on it, but we took that off to install the closet door, and just left the huge gap in the wall. We have been living with this since around 2007 when we did the office reno.

Here is the "hallway" when Mark did our final walk through before we bought the place:

Not half bad you say? Well consider this... there is a refrigerator in the space that now has a computer!


I cant find any intermediate pictures, but here is what it looks like today. I would like to say we finished it but Mark scampered off to baseball, so I made him promise to help me get it at least a little more finished before bed.

Mark had to rip the metal parts that helped with the hideous arched doorways. We wanted everything in the house to be square, and thought the weird arched doorways didnt match or make any sense. So he had to pull all of that down. I helped by bashing away the plaster with my super strong arms.

Then we got it nice and clean: Bedroom

Then we started by installing the cabinet from Home Depot that we bought, and hopefully we will get finished later! Picture this painted white, with a book shelf above it!


I also primed the entire thing... so we will see how it works out!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Mark and I decided to buy bikes so that we can use our legs rather than our wallets to get around town. So far its been really fun, we have been riding around and getting ice cream at different places. I think this was a great idea. We will post pictures soon!

The National Archives is finally moved in!

New workplace.
Originally uploaded by Rachel and Mark H.
I am back to working at the National Archives, and it couldn't have come any sooner. I am sick of working at home and glad to be back in the daily grind. I have picked up a ton of hours at Rockhurst University as well, so I am keeping a pretty full schedule this summer.

Mark is back to playing baseball!

Mark's ankle is finally well enough to start playing with his team, ill post more pictures when I go to a game!