Sunday, November 28, 2010

Finished Basement!

We did not have the basement finished when we built the house for a couple of reasons.  One, cost.  Two, we weren't really sure how we wanted the rooms laid out, and after spending so much time on the upstairs plans, we were a little burned out on floor plans.  And three, Mark thought he would finish it himself, since he had finished the basement in his house in St. Louis.  After we got into the house, I think we got a little impatient and were ready to have everything in the house completed.  We spent some time thinking of how we wanted things laid out, which was complicated by the furnace being in the middle of the basement.  Mark wanted a home office so he can telecommute a day a week, and I wanted a work out room/activity type of room.  We also wanted to leave a good part of it unfinished for storage, laundry, all the utility stuff (water filtration, hot water heater, etc.).  Once we determined how best to lay it out, Mark decided he really wanted the builder to finish it off, so that it was done in a more reasonable time frame.  Since Mark qualified for the home buying tax credit, that money became the basement finishing fund.  We had the builder come over and give us an estimate, which we both felt was very reasonable, and we had him get started,  In less than three weeks we had a  completed basement area!  We still have to get the tile clean, seal the grout, and Mark is going to finish off the stairs with tongue and groove board.

 Here's the finished basement!  We will have plenty of room for everything we want to put down here, and Mark will have his "man cave" for work.  We are very happy with the finished product!  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stone Hill Winery

Gasconade county (where we live) is a very long, skinny county that runs through East Central Missouri.  We live at the very southern part of the county, and the northern edge of the county is the Missouri River.  The area near the river is very hilly, picturesque and settled many years ago by many immigrants from Germany.  They started many wineries in the area and some are still in existence.  Stone Hill Winery is one of the better known ones.  I had a day off of school, so Mark took the day off as well, and we headed towards the Stone Hill.  We toured the wine cellar, which was built in 1847.  They were once the second largest winery in the country, until Prohibition.  During Prohibition, they had to switch to raising mushrooms for profit, but were able to stay in business.  During the mid 1960s, the winery was renovated and began producing wine again.  We enjoyed our tour, and the tasting, and bought plenty of wine to bring back home.  Our friends, Mark Haskins and Becky Craik, have named their "country" home Stone Hill, so we had to buy wine and glasses to mail to them!

This is the view of the county seat of Hermann, Missouri, from the front of Stone Hill Winery.
These are some of the newer fermentation tanks in the cellar.  Check out the mold on the ceilings! 
 These are some of the oak casks that are used for aging some of the red wines.
After the wineries, we headed to a restaurant called The River's Edge.  We have been there before and they have great fish.  We weren't sure of directions, but were able to find our way to the end of the pavement, then further down the dirt road to the Gasconade River, where the restaurant was sitting on the opposite shore.  However, the ferry wasn't running that day, so we drove away hungry!

This is an historic farm house that was close to the Gasconade River.    
 Across the river was our destination, but with no ferry running, there was no way to get there.  We will have to try again another day.

Hodge Podge

I've been pretty remiss in posting lately. It seems that all I do is work these days, and never have I worked so hard for so little and had so many parents unhappy with me!  I am already counting the days until summer, which is not a good sign!  In the meantime, I have taken a few photos.  We have deer that show up at sunset, which is a difficult time to catch them with the camera.  This is probably the best deer picture I've taken lately.  We have a couple of bucks, as well as at least one doe with two fawns, who are almost as big as she is now.  They no longer have spots, but continue to hang around with her.  They are very skittish, and if they hear anything at the house they take off towards the woods.  I continue to keep trying to catch them though!
This is a picture of the fall colors from the porch.  Missouri just doesn't give the show that Georgia does, but we hope to plant some trees that provide more fall color.  It is still beautiful here!
This is Elmer, who I think I've posted about before.  Mark bought two tree faces years ago, and this one is close to the pond, not far from the house.  The other one he put on a tree somewhere, and we still haven't found it yet!  One day we will stumble across Elmer's long lost brother, but for now we continue our search.
And the sunsets.....I think this is my new addiction in life!   I really dreaded the change in time which means that I often get home after the sun has already given off her show.  If I am home, I keep one eye towards the horizon waiting for the perfect moment...and then shoot to my heart's content!

This photo followed an hour of standing outside in the cold waiting for the sun to set and the light to stop reflecting off the windows.  I never quite got it as dark as I would have liked, but it was interesting watching the change in lighting through the sunset, and watching the moon rise as well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas cards traditions

I’ve always loved Christmas cards, sending them out as well as receiving them has always been one of my favorites of the holiday season. Going through the cards and remembering the good times with friends and family has become a tradition for me.  I used to think that the photo cards were a little ostentatious, but as they’ve gotten more affordable and easier to do, I love giving and receiving them! This way you can watch the year by year changes of your friends that you might not get to see very often.  We have been using Shutterfly ( we intend to order our Christmas cards as soon as we can decide what pictures we want to include (this could take awhile!).  Sara has also made Emery calendars using this service ( and we love looking at Emery everyday!  There are other holiday cards from Shutterfly as well, located here (   Shutterfly has many great promotions for the holidays as well, and I will most likely be using them for several of the people on our gift list!