Sunday, September 23, 2012

birthday presents



As I've mentioned before Dan and I were married on my birthday in July.  Early on he started the tradition where he "made" my birthday presents.  While thinking about writing about this year's present I realized I never showed you last year's...  

stones under the back porch!




The granite support pillars were already existing, but it was just open space between them.  When we purchased the house there were old huge Montauk daisies (3-feet tall by 4-feet wide huge!) in front of the porch which hid the open/ugly crawl space.  I transplanted the daisies to a garden along the front drive last year.   I felt the house needed the weight of stones under the two-story porch for scale, not to mention I thought it would be a beautiful addition and finishing detail to the house as a whole.  The original vision is to have grass up to the stones.  We have had to leave this area for last as it served as access for trucks to unload materials when we were renovating the barn.  This spring and summer other projects have taken priority and we are just now working to start to lay sod in this area (you'll see a tiny bit of some in the last photo).  This area is a very symbolic project for us as it means we are finishing up the house renovation and don't need the area for work trucks!
Isn't it beautiful?!  Dan did a wonderful job dry-stacking the stones (which are all from our property by the way.)




For the side of the porch we used pieces of antique hand-cut granite foundation that were removed from the barn during renovation.   These two pieces were originally one huge stone that had to be divided in two to make them maneuverable to work into the tight space.   It was an exciting day the day we realized that this last large piece of stone would just fit under this side of the porch.




















But...
before we can lay sod this year's birthday present needs to be completed. 
A small herb/vegetable garden!  
Granite edging will define the space as demo'd in this photo,  and will be slightly raised to keep the gravel that will surround the raised beds in and the perimeter grass out!  There will be a black picket fence to enclose the area that will sit on top of the granite edging.  The garden will be accessed through an antique iron gate - more on that in a moment.




This year's birthday present begins with the scraping/leveling of the area.




My wood director's chair;)




The gravel you see under the kitchen windows is a french drain that we had put in our first summer in the house.  I painted all the basement (cellar) windows gray to blend into their surrounding granite.  Painting them white, as is often done, would highlight them and draw your eye.  I wanted your eye to go to the house, not to the basement windows!




Thick weed blocker is a great base for the gravel.




Boards for the raised beds being measured out.




It's a small area, but (hopefully;) the perfect size for the two of us.  It is also easily accessed from the kitchen mud room which is the black door up the granite steps.








Here is where we are at today! 
The first load of gravel has been laid.  (Dan drove Big Blue to the quarry which about 20 minutes by tractor;) from the house!)  Old whiskey barrel rings hold down some weed block to keep the weeds from growing (I had a nice crop of them growing before I devised this method;)
Before Dan can build the picket fence I need to find my gate.  I want an antique iron gate.  I think the iron is a needed element with all the wood on the back of the house and it will give the little garden importance.  The problem is I can't find one!  I've been looking since last summer and haven't found "the one" yet.  So, if you live in New England or just beyond ( New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, eastern New York) would you do me a  big favor and if you happen to be out and about and see an antique iron garden gate will you send me a picture with info?!!!  We love a good road trip, so we'll drive for a gate!! 




The photo below shows an antique iron antique garden gate that I found that I think would be almost perfect- it is a little wide for the space (42-inches) and  is  $425.... not in my budget.  I don't want to spend more than $200.  I love the arch top to this gate... sigh. 
I'm looking for an antique iron gate that ideally measures between 36-38 inches width and 36-50ish inches height with a price tag max of $200!   So, if you can help a girl out I would really appreciate it! :)  xx



85 comments:

  1. Now this is a present from the heart and soul! It's going to be beautiful and you will love having a garden so close to your kitchen! I can't wait to see it when it's finished. Good luck with finding the right gate, it will be wonderful!

    XO,
    Jane

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  2. Fun. Love your raised bed gardens and what a perfect spot! Can't wait to see it all come together. Thanks for sharing, liz

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  3. I think the iron gate will be lovely. You are blessed.
    Lisa
    Leeshideaway.blogspot.com

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  4. You have hit the motherlode of birthday presents! It's just all charming!
    Nancy

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  5. what a wonderful present. love that dan! it's gonna be great. will keep my eyes peeled for a gate - even though I am kinda far away...donna

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  6. The stonework beneath the porch looks wonderful - the perfect finishing touch. Good luck on your quest for the perfect iron gate. I'll bet someone in your network will spot one for you.

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  7. Happy Birthday to you!
    Glad to see that big blue and Dan are making all your birthday wishes come true.

    K

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  8. Looks great as do all your projects. You seem to be blessed with an inexhaustible supply of old granite, an inexhaustible supply of antiques and decorative elements (except for that gate!) and Dan with an inexhaustible fund of energy and strength. But your real secret is your and Dan's love for the house and desire to make it special by such attention to every detail.
    --Road to Parnassus

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  9. Looka great cant wait to see the finished product! Just love your projects. We have a cellar a storm cellar dont here many houses having cellars anymore. Have a great sunday evening.

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  10. Dan is getting better and better at dry stacking stones! Looks wonderful. Will you stone the foundation block or is that skimmed over with cement? Or is that all granite? Looking forward to the finished project. Always enjoy a new post from you. Sara

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    1. hi Sara, It's all granite! That entire run (approx. 11feet) was one single cut foundation stone, but in order to move it and place it it had to be cut in two.

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    2. Oh my! It boggles the mind to realize how many years your home will stand...it's so well made. Looking forward to the gate you choose. It's a cool, beautiful Sunday here in Ohio. Better get some yard work accomplished. Take care, Sara

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  11. i love the stacked stone!!! the garden is perfectly located, yes? and this tradition of yours is so awesome. makes me want to age (i may never type those words again!).

    smiles to you.

    michele

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  12. I was hoping you two would have another fieldstone skirt under the back porch! I loved the front so much and now I love how it looks from the back of the house! What great birthday presents! I'm sure even Ina would love your future herb garden!

    Hugs, Tim

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  13. ...it was so very very hard to read this slowly...and not skip ahead to the end...so happy all the stone came from your land (and barn)...the herb garden is going to be perfect...(i think the very best birthday present you ever received was dan...but then the very best wedding gift he ever received was you)...blessings laney

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  14. Wow, Dan is THE MAN! What an amazing birthday present -- you will enjoy for years to come. Good luck on the Gate Quest!
    Heidi :)

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  15. What a sweet birthday present! Cooking with your own herbs and vegetables is so amazing and I feel makes the food taste even better! Looks great! ~Lucy

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  16. Will let you know if I find one. I was just antiquing in Pennsylvania today. Years ago, I built a (low) dry stacked stone wall, and it was a lot of work. Dan did a beautiful job. I love all the stone walls throughout New England.
    xoxo,
    Loi

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  17. I'm officially jealous. Or maybe I should say envious. :) I adore adore adore stone, and yours is such a beautiful addition. Great vision. And an herb garden? True love. I had one in the past and loved it. In this house, I just use pots as I'm in the woods with a lot of shade. But I am constantly snipping. You will love it! I will keep my eyes open for a gate.

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  18. Dan did a beautiful job, as always! xoxoTrina

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  19. hi joan- love this years present so far and think last years treat is amazing as well! such a great tradition (and such a great hubs!)

    will await what is sure to be a fabulous story about how the perfect gate will come to be-

    hope you're all enjoying the fall!
    (and is is just me, or do the advertisements that show up when people comment always seem like they are reading your/my mind??? my september birchbox arrived yesterday- and the add was for birchbox!!!)

    hugs-
    carolyn

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    1. hi carolyn- actually the ads you see are different than the ads others see and yes, they are related to your recent searches or local in general from what I can tell!

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  20. I love this tradition and I truly think you have just the handiest husband around!

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  21. My what a great man he is lucky you! Those stones really makes me think of having a garden too. Got my eye on your next posts.

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  22. Can't think of a better gift....HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I think thats such a neat tradition and how fun to see this come to life!

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  23. Of course all the stones were from your property -- they look perfectly at home in their new location and really make your already gorgeous porch more gorgeous and substantial! I am so surprised that the "house angels" have not provided your garden gate! Perhaps if you just look around the property some more? Anyway, good luck finding what you want -- I'm sure it will be just perfect because you choose everything with such care. I was going to say I love gifts that keep giving, and your garden will be that sort of gift. Then I saw the comment from Laney who said the best birthday present you ever received was Dan... and then thought my comment about gifts that keep giving fits all the more! Happy belated birthday, Joan!

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    1. hi Diane- we both got a big chuckle out of your comment to look around the property for the gate! Yes, definitely the gift that keeps on giving!!

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  24. It is these types of details that makes your home outstanding! That is my type of Birthday gift. My friends laugh because my hubby doesn't get me jewels or clothes, but usually something on the honey-do list is done, or last year he bought some vintage lovelies for our home. It was perfect!

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  25. I love the tradition and all the wonderful projects that come along with that tradition. Seems like a I saw an iron gate in Pound Ridge yesterday...I didn't even look at the price because I wasn't in need of an iron gate...but i remember thinking...I wish I needed a really cool gate. I'll let you know if i make it back up there in the next couple of days.
    xo
    annie

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  26. Your house gets more and more beautiful! I love it

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  27. Hi Joan,
    Your birthday garden is great! You should post on
    Craig's List, Wanted iron gate, attache a photo of
    the one you are searching for....
    Dee ( in Maine)

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  28. Hi Joan, what a wonderful post.
    Dan...is quite the craftsman/artist. Because there really is an artistry to drystacking those stones. And the finished product is beautiful. I cannot wait to see your little herb garden completed. But what fun in the HUNT for the perfect garden gate. I know it will find YOU eventually. I love visiting your house. Happy birthday.

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    1. hi Terri- you are so right, Dan "is" an artist, and working with stone is an art form. When we talk to stonemasons they will all tell you that the stones "speak" to you, and I think Dan would agree with that.

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  29. OMG! Dan is just amazing, and what the two of you accomplish is incredible. I can't wait to see some herbs growing in your raised beds. Good luck on your perfect gate quest!

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  30. Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary. As always, I know this space will be as beautiful as all the others. I'm anixous to see the pictures when finished and the amazing things you will do to make it unique. Your house and yard is a paradise. I hope you will also post your mud room. Best regards, Wenda, maggieandme52@yahoo.com

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  31. Does he have a brother? If not, can he be cloned?

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    1. great idea MrsB... just imagine all the projects I could get done with TWO Dan's!!! :)

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  32. I say let's give a huge shout out to all the awesome hubs out there....who make our dreams come true....."keepahs" (as we say in Vermont) they are and we love them.....love your journey

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  33. Dan did an amazing job dry-stacking those stones. Does he chisel any of them, or just work away until they all fit together? I'd love to hear more about his technique. Oh, and the herb garden looks nice too! :) What a great location just outside the kitchen door.

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    1. hi Julia- 99.9% of the time he doesn't chisel or manipulate the stones. His technique is to load stones in the scoop of Big Blue and take them to the job site (we are fortunate to have a "lot" of stones to work with) then he just works with them until he finds a good fit. Very rarely he will have to knock off a corner of a stone to make it fit.

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  34. OH, I can't wait to see the finished product! The house we are going to build has a small courtyard area off to the side of the front porch and will be in front of the kitchen windows and I wanted to do some raised beds for a kitchen garden, I am LOVING THIS!

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  35. Lovely birthday presents, I too have a wonderful talented husband who gives me gifts of love from his hands...we are very lucky girls! I hope you can find your gate soon!!! :) donna

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    1. hi Donna- love hearing about all the other talented husbands out there! Yes, we are indeed lucky;)

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  36. That is quite some birthday gift!

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  37. Impressive, as always!

    I just wonder -- does Dan have a wagon that hitches to the tractor? I can't imagine how he hauled enough gravel otherwise! My husband's vision keeps him from driving a regular car, but he does get around on his tractor. Now he's trying to figure out the closest quarry!

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    1. hi Catherine, Dan uses the scoop to pick up the gravel. He said it can hold about half of a cubic yard, so it's a pretty good amount.

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  38. That Dan is one fine birthday present giver

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  39. Joan,
    Last year's birthday gift turned out beautifully. Wow, Dan is so talented. Your home looks great with last year's gift. This year's gift is going to be wonderful. I'm confident your readers will come through for you with the perfect iron gate. Can't wait to see it.
    Happy Birthday!
    Karen

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  40. Joan..wonderful as always! On someone's board on pinterest I saw a wonderful gate that they had made from a large antique iron wheel from an old piece of farm machinery..it was really nice, looked like they had someone weld supports across and down the sides [not attached to the wheel on the sides] and old iron gate drop hinges to that. Really nice.

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    1. Thanks Brenda, I'll look around and see if I can find it. We did see some interesting pieces today, one being a ring that had me thinking about making one.

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  41. Hi Joan and Dan,

    Remember how you felt when you would look through a magazine or read Bunny's book, "An Affair With A House", and be continually inspired? Well, that is the way I feel when I read your blog!

    Thank you for taking the time to keep us inspired and updated. Everything looks lovely!

    Margaret, Virginia

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  42. You 2 are AMAZING!!!!

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  43. I don't have an iron gate, but yesterday I picked up an awesome old picket fence from a friend that was throwing it out. Yours for the taking if you really want to come all the way to NY. You can see a picture of it on my instagram (I am follower of you) LPatFindingHome. My hubby grew up in NH, Charlestown to be exact (Putnam Farms if you are at familiar with the areas).

    So enjoy following the transitions of your home!

    Take care, Laura

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    1. Laura, That is so generous of you to offer, thank you. What will you do with it all?! I don't think we've been through Charlestown... we get close when going to Walpole or going to Vermont we will cross over at Bellows Falls, so don't get that far north. Will have to drive through next time!

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  44. First of all... Happy Birthday.
    Second of all... How amazing is your hubby? You make the best team! I know I've told you that before... but Wow!
    I wish I could help you with your gate search, but I look forward to seeing what you find.
    Thank you for another inspiring post.

    xo xo
    Brooke

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  45. I think every girl in blogland is wanting your birthday presents right about now! I may pass this post onto my husband. :) I love that you're being patient to find a gate for hte price you want to pay. As you well know, it will come...just the perfect thing at the perfect time! xoxo!

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  46. Joan,
    Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary! Your Dan is such a talented man....love the stone wall he created under the porch. Really amazing! I don't have a lead on a gate.....but I have no doubt that by now you've found one!

    xoxo Elizabeth

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  47. Wow what a Blessing to get such wonderful birthday presents!! I agree your husband is really talented. I know you will love your herb garden. My husband fixed me one this year and I use herbs out of it almost everyday.

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  48. Well, Happy Birthday dearling and Happy Anniversary !
    A garden is a wonderful gift. Just perfect :)

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  49. I love your home and this may seem an odd question. I am a Virgo which may explain it. Why didn't the vertical stone pieces line up with the porch columns?

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    1. hi Miss Virgo:)- I don't know for sure since as I mentioned the granite pilars were here when we bought the house, but I would assume that they were placed for structural support whereas the columns visual. Funny things is I really like them offset like that for some reason! Seems it would all be too perfect to have them line up, but that's just the Leo in me!

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  50. Thank you! Y'all are all very sweet, but my birthday/our anniversary was actually in July;) Sometimes it takes a while to get those birthday presents made, but whenever they appear I am very grateful!!

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  51. I SOOOOOOOOO love this idea of Dan MAKING yor gifts. I am gong t suggest this to joe::):) He is pretty handy too and with the new house I know many things that could be gifts:): I love the stones under the porch and the garden will be beautiful. It is s wonderful that you 2 have the same (beautiful) vision for your home and work so well together. I need a "directors chair" too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XO, Pinky

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  52. First time visiting and your blog and home is beautiful! I am your newest follower! From one sweetie to another~~~Roxie

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  53. Hi Joan,
    Dan did an awesome job & what a precious birthday gift you'll always appeciate!
    Thanks for sharing your idea to paint the basement windows to harmonize with the foundation. I just love it & am going to do it to our basement windows.
    Thanks for creating your beautiful blog. It's a favorite of mine.
    Best regards, Ruth

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  54. Must be an exilharating feeling to be finally on the home-stretch of renovating your beautiful home. Regarding a source for an iron fence unfortunately I wish I could help however with the dimensions you give, (now I am reaching here and of course it would require Dan's now-how to customize it)but if you come up empty on your search, do you think that an old iron headboard for a twin size bed might work? Just a thought. -Brenda-

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    1. hi Brenda- You're very clever! I've been looking for an antique iron or brass twin headboard for months now to with this exact idea in mind. I haven't found one that I loved that was in the budget though. And, yes it is very exciting to be on the home-stretch!!

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    2. Thank you for the compliment Joan, but as said it was 'just a thought' which brings me to another option you might wish to consider. If you combined an antique (heating) floor gRate with an otherwise plain iron gate, it could be something well within your budget. -Brenda-
      P.S: Dan, be thankful you are not married to a Sagittarian with an INTJ Personality with so many ... thoughts. ºÜº

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  55. hello joan, dan and ella, what a beautiful dry stone wall. love love love love. we just had an italian artisan build us an iron gate, for our entry, to cover the back of the hot water tank on the fireplace, that feeds into our hot water storage for hot water, and floor heating. we had to have a custom piece, as the size is fixed. we love it and will send pictures, if you would like to see. hope you receive this comment. best, robin in umbria

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  56. Your project is wonderful. Well done!
    Sandra from Sunny South Africa

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  57. Your home is such an inspiration...inside and out. I love the way that you use "just enough." Love the class! :)

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  58. What a gift! Is there access to the space under the porch? Could be a root cellar! Though with my experience with stone walls and snakes, I'd have to have a light on in there!

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  59. Hi Joan!
    I haven't been by in a while! I love how the porch turned out and the new raised bed garden area! You are going to love it! I hope you find a garden gate1 I did see some neat gates on the web site for MacKenzie Childs but it's not an antique nor in that price range! I know you will find it in good time!
    We've been getting a lot of rainy days and the autumn colors came a bit early this year. It's beautiful to see as always- but today it feels like November! Hope you are enjoying your autumn in New Hampshire! Hugs from Michigan!

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  60. I love that dry stacked wall. Your husband is quite a craftsman. I can't wait to see the finished herb/kitchen garden. I am sure it will be absolute perfection!

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  61. Hi, Joan. I've already commented on this lovely post, and I'm now responding to your email regarding your suggestions for my search for bushel baskets since your email arrived with a no-response address. Thank you for the tips; I'm following up on them ASAP. Also, I'm your newest follower; I'm loving following the developments at your beautiful farm house. ~Zuni

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  62. Where can I pick me up some Dan? What a partner for life! Lucky girl If you'd like to loan him out up here in Canada, I have a beautiful guestroom for the two of you and I'm told I'm a fabulous cook!

    B

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  63. All those rocks remind me of the two rock gardens I had to have. They had to be big and flat, and free. So my husband mentioned this mountain pass he drove by where they were blasting away, so one weekend off we went. Well the best rocks were in this raveen, straight dowwwwwn - so all the climbing up and down with rocks, then the drive home with the huge pile in the back of the truck - not to mention the stupid photo radar ticket we got in the mail a couple weeks later. Unloading the pile at home. I spent a month carting the rocks around and stacking, taking apart, restacking, etc. I had muscles in my arms like you wouldn't believe and I was in such great shape that spring. And I slept like a baby every night. If anyone wants to loose weight, increase muscles and get into great shape...just build a couple rock walled gardens on a sloped piece of property.

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  64. Clone that man immediately mate - he is a Winner!! The only thing MOTH would create for my birthday would be a huge headache! Sorry I've haven't stopped by for a while, my life has turned into a joke now I've gone back to work full-time+++ Stop the world & all that. Love to you all.
    Millie xx

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  65. You are both lucky :) I do like your blogs and I think this house was really full of love :D. My pleasure to visit this. Thank you for sharing this with us. God bless.

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