DIY Brick Patio-the back breaking way

What started out as a new sectional outdoor sofa and tables bought for less than half price ($800 on sale for $300) ended up being a whole patio construction costing almost $5000. We have lived in our newly constructed home for 10 years with only grass in our small backyard. I bought the Nest by House and Home sectional outdoor sofa and table set but the legs kept sinking in the grass and they had to be moved to cut the grass. Since we have wanted a patio for some time now, and the quotes we got were double or triple the cost we projected to DIY, we went ahead and ordered the brick and supplies. We purchased Uniloc Brussels Block  for our 14' x 20' patio area. Under the technical direction and labour of my nephew-in-law, my husband and I, assisted by my power-house 16 year old nephew, our two boys (10 and 12) and my niece (11) worked for several long, hard days. We had to remove one and a half dumpsters of soil and grass. The boys worked endlessly. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.
Finally the 14' x 20' hole was deep enough for the fill required for our cold Canadian winters. We needed to add approximately 9" of gravel and sand. Wheelbarrow by wheelbarrowful. The chore seemed endless. Finally all the gravel and sand was in the backyard and my nephew-in-law had to level it all and pack it all down with a special machine. Then the brick arrived. With the help of a neighbour, we carried over 4 skids of different sized bricks, one or two at a time, to the backyard (the gate is too narrow to get a machine through.)
Finally the area was ready for bricks. My oldest sister helped my nephew-in-law (her SIL) with the difficult pattern. I was told by the Uniloc rep that this was an easy pattern that wasted few bricks. Wrong. The pattern was very challenging.
Oh, it's starting to look so good. Can I just leave it empty to admire, and just get rid of that new patio furniture? I could just sit and look at it all day.
Then came the challenging construction of the steps. Big enough to step safely on and roomy enough to sit on without taking up half the patio.
We picked up a nice gazebo to cover the sectional, on clearout for $125 at Home Depot.
Although Fall is now officially here, I have yet to add pillows and accessories. I'll probably save that for next spring. In less than a month it all has to go into storage for our cold and snowy Canadian winter.
I love sitting out here after work, about 3pm, and enjoying a tea or cold drink.
My niece and her husband came one day while we were at work to add the special sand that goes between the cracks and hardens. They worked all day, and with two little ones to care for too. They even took the gazebo and furniture and placed it on the patio so we would get the 'whole look' when we got home. We couldn't have done it without the love and sweat of our family. Now we just need to finish off the small gate area and have a get-together to celebrate. Then, in the spring we hope to do over our builder front walkway.
Thanks for stopping by our backyard!
I'm hoping to link up to Kim at Twice Remembered,  Kimba at A Soft Place to Land, and Susan's. Between Naps on the Porch. Have a wonderful week!

Thanks Funky Junk Donna, for the fabulous tutorials on how to add signatures to your posts, and for showing us how to add links to blogs, hidden ever so neatly behind those names above. Stop by Donna's blog for totally awesome DIY  decorating and great blog tips.


Feeling like Fall

It's starting to feel like Fall in our area. Beautiful sunny skies, but the morning temp was 9 Celsius (about 48 F). Our vehicle windows were heavy with frost dew. Should have brought a sweater along to work today. And maybe I should have chosen pants instead of capris and sandals. This afternoon it warmed up to a balmy 17C (68F). Not the warmth we have been used to these past few weeks, but sunny and nice. I've been blog hopping checking out some new and previous Fall decorating posts. Gettin' in the mood. I really need to get the boys to bring out the Rubbermaid 'Fall decorations' bin.
Country Living
I'm looking forward to pulling out some thicker blankets, so we can still keep the windows open on these cooler nights. And some great smelling candles too. Wishing you a wonderful almost fall day.


Remembering 9/11

I'm sure most of us remember exactly where we were that day. We remember who we were with, or more importantly, who we wished to be with as we heard the first horrible news or saw the live footage on t.v. We remember the feelings, of disbelief, numbness, grief, fear and anger.
I'm linking to Olive Rue's Remembering 9/11. You can find it at http://oliverue.blogspot.com/2009/09/remembering-911.html

I was at work that day, in our classroom with several other staff, and got a phone call from my husband. I wanted so badly to go home to my husband and kids but only had a 30 minute early morning break. I went to my car to phone my husband and decided to drive past my brother's home. My brother and his family lived behind our school. I knew they would be at work, his kids at school but my need to be with family was so strong. Surprisingly my brother's truck was in the driveway. He had dropped his kids off at school and had returned for tools when he heard the news. We stood in front of his t.v. watching the horrific news. The information we were seeing was so confusing. At first I did not understand when the second plane hit. I thought it was more tape of the first. But my brother knew. And he was exactly where I needed him to be at that moment.

The rest of the day and many days to follow were filled with following the horrific news, seeming to be glued to the t.v. whenever we could be, reassuring our children, praying... Remembering those who lost their lives and the loved ones they left behind. Remembering the bravery of those who rushed to help others, from the fire and rescue personnel, to the strangers helping strangers in the streets. Remembering the kind people helping others in cities and towns where planes were grounded. Remembering.


These are a few of my favourite things

I'm joining in and sharing a few of my favourite things (besides my family of course!) Lots of pics, but I hope you enjoy them.

Photo above: Sauble Beach, Ontario, Canada

Beaches and George Strait~~ The name of my blog was inspired partly by these two, Blue Clear Sky (on a beautiful beach and a hit song by George Strait.)Leather furniture
Photo above: I believe Pottery Barn or Ethan Allen???
Photo above: PotteryBarn

Photo above: Wrangler Home

Farmhouse tables and Windsor chairs

Photo above: Canadian Style at Home magazine

Two Photos above: New Country for Ethan Allen

White Slipcovers

Photo above: Pottery Barn

Quilts and quilting

Photo above: LLBean NorthHaven Collection
I've been having so much trouble loading pics in blogger lately. I wanted to share a few more, yes more, but I have to upload them in reverse order. I can only move pictures I have loaded up, not drag them further down in the post. Anyone have any tips? I used to be able to do it. (insert frustrated sigh here.)

Cowboy Boots

Photo above:1 Justin Apache boot, 2 unknown

Jeans and a crisp white blouse
Now, I certainly don't look like this in my jeans and crisp white blouse. But to me, this is my favourite look and favs to wear. And of course, crisp only lasts so long with my clumsy ways and my kids, but I'll take almost crisp and a snotty kiss from a kid any day.

Photos above: Wrangler Jeans

Photo above: Buffalo jeans and white blouse

Denim jackets

Timber Frame homes, especially lakeside
Photo above: HGTV Dream Home'08

Muskoka chairs, at home or at a lake

Canoes and canoeing

Rodeo, live and on t.v.
Photo above: Dodge Rodeo Tour, Orangeville ~we were there.

I was inspired to share a few of my favourite things by Annicole  at Our Suburban Cottage and I am linking to the party at Girly Stuff .
Edited to add: I'm joining in at 320 Sycamore's My Favourite Things Party