Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday B!

Today is the husband's birthday.
I can't imagine my life without him. Happy birthday, wonderful man!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cabinet Face Lift

We have a china cabinet. It's not huge, but it has great lines, lovely curved glass, and is nice and simple.

But. The wood needed a facelift. The unit wasn't in GREAT condition wood-wise. Lots of stains and wood imperfections. The wood inside the unit (holding the glass in) will also eventually need replacing, and then there would be the issue of staining to match. And the unit has always been a little dark...

So, we did the unthinkable: we painted the cabinet. Yes, I realize there are probably many wood purists out there who are now screaming at their computer. But believe me: this was the best call for this particular unit. Better quality wood and better cuts and better craftsmanship? We would have done our all to preserve. Here? Paint was the best option. I am all for preservation, if the piece calls for it. This one did not.
And here we have the almost finished product! I say "almost" because I still want to paint the hardware a charcoal black color, non-glossy.
The paint we chose is an enamel paint. A PAIN IN THE BUTT (sticky, takes forever to dry, and is HARD to get off of things), but it has the benefits of being a good coater and harder to chip than latex.
Are there imperfections? Sure. I want to go over the inside walls (where you don't really see, but I'm a perfectionist) with latex white paint. I couldn't get too close to the glass on the inside because any paint on the glass had to be carefully chisled off (which takes a long time). Latex paint would be easier to remove should any get on the glass. Plus, since it's inside, no one will notice any inconsistencies with gloss factor or paint type.

We're really happy with the project. We also took the opportunity to clean out the cabinet to a certain extent. It had become the landing grounds for things that we "might" want to keep, so those "might" things had to be sifted through and analyzed if we wanted to keep them.

I also bumped a brandy snifter with my behind while painting. It broke. And B dropped a pretty curved pint glass this weekend too. So in our clumsiness alone, we gained more space in the cabinet. Sigh.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Curse and bless you, Anthony Bordain

We've been watching "Anthony Bordain, No Reservations," and heaven help us, we're in love.

The ideas! The recipes!

And, B's latest love? The porron decanter:

Yes, you literally pour it into your mouth and pass it on. The narrow mouth means a very small stream.

Bring on the food and the friends.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letting sleeping dogs lie

The sleep upside down on top the couch thing has become a regular occurrence. Mads used to never like to show her tummy much, but the onset of Bailey has changed her thoughts on tummy exposure. Now? She sleeps in all weird positions, often with her little paws dangling in all directions. With her fur so long and her paws so short, you can often only tell where her paws are based on the black pads of her feet.

I should also add that when she does fall asleep, sometimes she twitches in her sleep, causing her to roll off the back of the couch. Of course, she always greets this occurrence with a look of "don't worry, I so meant to do that."

She's also taught the Bailey how to do this too. Being that he's SIGNIFICANTLY less coordinated than the Mads, this is impressive.

The upside down position is not just for nighttime either. We do it in the day too. And the limp dog thing is also particularly amusing.

We also sleep in unison.

And we use pillows.

So suffice it to say, the dogs are the crackerjack comedians around her. Boy, we love them, but they are so often significantly loony.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I did a few guest posts over at Almost Never Clever, a blog of a friend of mine. I've known her since college, and I love that we're still so closely in touch. She's away on a spectacular vacation of magnificent proportions, so I did a few guest posts.

And may I just say: This gal knows how to vacation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Haircut!

Yes, I realize I generally write about more substantive things than looks. But too bad: today I'm just posting about my new haircut. It's been almost a week and I still love it, so I think this is worth a mention. And a holler. And a whoop.

Yup. It's about 4-6" shorter, depending upon where on my head you're measuring.
And the back? Layered and cute.
It has been totally fun. Will I grow it out again? Probably, but not because I don't like this cut (just because I'm too cheap to go to the hairdresser frequently).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gnome and toadstool facelifts

When my grandmother moved out of her house and into an assisted living facility, she asked that we take some things from her home. So, when B and I went down to see her last May, we picked up a few things, including her gnome and mushroom.

I remember thinking they were the bee's knees when I was little, and how much they made her little backyard patio into this magical lush place. She had them hidden under ferns and monstera leaves. I had books about gnomes. Some kids have fairies. I had gnomes.

So, here was Mr. Gnome. I suppose he needs a good German name, but right now that type of creativity escapes me. I decided to finally fix him up, almost a year later.

I decided to go with an all-white beard and a light blue overcoat. Yes, very traditional, although gnomes are known for wearing other colors. I thought the white beard looked cleaner than the gray, particularly since he's headed outside. I also brightened up his green little hill he's sitting on. I think he looks much happier.

Also in my grandmother's yard: her toadstool. I remember this in it's heyday: bright red with white spots. Also hidden in the ferns and the monstera leaves, it was often right behind where my grandfather would sit.
The stem of the toadstool also needed some love. It was faded and stained.

Finally, MANY layers of red paint later, the toadstool has been returned to its glory. I sanded down the old paint too, so it's pretty smooth.

These both make me so happy. I'm glad they finally got some attention. Somewhere, my grandparents are smiling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Bout ready to blow a gasket.

Our home's doors don't close, and I'm about ready to lose my mind.

It's because they were installed funkily, which also explains why you can see the 1/4+ inch crack the un-plumb doors have which lets in a super-fun amount of cold air in the wintertime.

So you REALLY HAVE TO PULL THEM SHUT and/or lock them. Otherwise, they come open, whether by wind, or on their own, or by the aid of certain prying cat paws.

It's incredibly, incredibly annoying. And, in the case of this morning, panic-inducing.

I was in the other room, B had just left for work. When I came back in, the front door was open. "Oh crud, I thought, a cat got out." Yup. That was true.

But. Then. The house was too quiet. There was Maddie... OMG, WHERE'S BAILEY!? WHERE'S OUR 15-WEEK OLD, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY PUPPY!!???

Pure panic. Pure panic that drove yoga pants, stained-shirt, and fuzzy bathrobed me out into the front yard, screaming Bailey's name. I decided to quickly run inside, just to make sure the galloping goof of a dog wasn't sleeping quietly in the closet. And then I saw him. Sitting on the back deck's steps. Waiting for me.

That dog got hugged big time.

You'd think remembering to pull the doors tight would be easy, but it's an issue of difficult proportions because you don't know if you've closed them all the way. Usually, there's a click or something. Not these doors. If it were our home, we'd examine the locking mechanism, possibly change around where the door jam hits and where the handle mechanism hits. We'd probably install an auto-close bar too, making it a bit more difficult and probably too much pressure for the dingbat cats to open the doors.

But we rent. We're loathing this rental just a tad right now. The doors are just one of many things.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Severely Annoyed.

A friend of mine has this part-time job. She doesn't really need it, but it's a few extra bucks. She gets projects as they come.

She was told back in December that the place she works for would be transitioning to student help sometime in the new year. But, when the new year rolled around, the place had some health issues and retirements. She was told to keep accepting work, since they didn't want to deal with a new student right then. So, she kept on working. She wasn't going to hire her own replacement.

So, this morning, she emails the group to touch bases, and let them know she's available for work.

The response: We've hired someone that starts soon. There was more to the email than that, but you get the idea.

I think she has a right to be ticked off. She was fine with the student replacement, she doesn't need this job. But if she hadn't emailed the group, they would have just, what, let someone into her office with her things still there?

I think it's utterly and completely tacky. I hate how an employer's market often makes employers act with such disregard.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Definitely not a way to start the day.

We have horrible feral cats in our yard. Well, some of them may not be feral, they just might be the quasi-pets of our neighbors (I say "quasi" because I doubt these cats are fed or housed, just permitted to roam and poo in our yard).

Puppies like smelly things.

So, couple our pup with the small herds of wild cats (which relieve themselves in our yard), and you have the nasty situation of puppy eating nasty stuff (namely: cat poo).

So. Utterly. DISGUSTING.

We try to prevent it. We follow the pup around. But, the dog has a really good nose, so he often smells what we can't see. He is lunges to gobble faster than we can lunge and grab him.

Again: DISGUSTING. Not atypical for puppies, but still. And no amount of chastising and yelling "NO!!!" does the trick. The will is just too strong and the smell of fresh cat poo too delicious. GROSS.

But, it gets worse. Really.

What's worse is when you bring the aforementioned disgusting puppy inside, and 30 minutes later, the dog throws up partially digested cat poo. On the dog bed. A huge pile of it. Dinner-plate-sized pile. Of runny, smelly, utterly nastily disgusting cat poo. And you can't chastise the dog because obviously he feels sick to his stomach and really bad. And really, how do you explain to the dog that eating the cat poo causes the sick stomach? Golden retriever puppies are not pros on mastering deductive reasoning.

Definitely not a way to start the day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just when you thought the car issues were done...

At the supermarket today. Car dies. NO battery power.


Likely, I think the problem is the alternator, which means my car has been running on battery power the last few days.


There is the slight chance (although not very high, since my car does not have a significant computer system) that if I merely jump my car, the car will die on the road to the mechanic's because the battery will completely die (since it's not currently being charged by the car when the car is running).


I got a ride to B's car. B's car took me to my meeting. Then I ran home in B's car and grabbed my ratchet set. Then went back to my car, popped out the battery (I'm getting good at this), and took it to our mechanic's. There, it will charge overnight, and I'll pick it up tomorrow AM. The battery fully charged, I'll be able to drive the car all the way over to the mechanic's and leave it there to have it worked on.

Whew. Updates tomorrow.

Garden Plantings

We've been planting a little bit. Every spring, we get the urge to start putting things in the ground, and you have to be reminded that you need to plant things at the RIGHT TIME. If you don't, things will die.

In other words: it's required a great deal of education to determine when to plant what. It's also a bit calculating, since you have to sometimes determine when to start things indoors in order to go outside on time.


So this week, I'm starting my celery root inside. That's my fun project this year. The tomatoes will be started inside too in the next few weeks, that way they're seedlings to go outside in early May.

But, this week, we planted our rhubarb seedlings. We have two huge rhubarb plants, and I picked up 4 more cheapo ones last fall in a clearance sale (less than $1 each). And, when we moved our big rhubarb plants, a few roots were left behind (they have huge tuber roots), one of which sprouted. So, we now have two huge rhubarbs and five babies.

I love rhubarb because it's so beautiful all summer and in the winter, it dies 100% back. No ugly bare/dead-looking plant. Just disappears. It's one of the first things to pinken up in the spring too, and has these wonderful leaves that look like monstera leaves, all summer long. Oh, and you can eat it. :)

I put the babies in our small beds this year. I'll have to move them in the next year, but for now, this is a good spot. I'll have to research how rhubarbs do in pots, since having a yard spotted with our rhubarb could be really pretty in the summer (and maintenance-free in the winter).

I also planted my onions. I ordered our onions this year from The Onion Shed. I looked locally, but there was a ton of sweet and red onions. That's fine, but it's difficult to store those onion types. These are yellow onions, but ones we can store for a long time. Nice. Yes, I did plant them a LITTLE close together. There always is some die-off, and I also want to pick a few for green onions.

Right next door to the onions is the spinach-- no growth yet. But, that's pretty typical.
Last year, I saw great success in my onions when they were covered in plastic. So, I may very well cover both the spinach bed and onion bed for warmth to encourage growth. I HATE dealing with plastic, but it is nice. Still, with the amount of rain we get here (1/3 of an inch yesterday, with weird wind gusts up to 60 mph), it can be difficult to have plastic on plants. Any rainfall and the plastic could become dislodged and smash the seedlings underneath with heavy rain on plastic.

But, at least the raspberries are doing well! I'm going to be taking down the entire current trellis and replacing it with a very basic one-- four posts and wire to keep the vines contained. I'm considering leaving in the current wire you see in the photos and tying the vine stakes to it. Thoughts? That way, I'd have mostly vertical growth rather than crazy sideways stuff. Hmm. I see no reason why I couldn't, so long as I didn't tie it too tight.
If the raspberries look awfully short to you, it's because I trimmed them back. You don't have to trim them so far back every year. But, it's only year 2 of us having these canes, and I wanted to promote growth. By not having to bear two crops (one in early summer, one in late summer), the plants can put their energy into growing bigger. This should result in more berries in late summer and, particularly, more berries next year. I'm already seeing a huge growth in new seedlings and leaves, so perhaps this worked.

So, that's the news in the yard. We need to mulch around the beds. BADLY. We'll see if we're able to get to that sometime soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I've seen better days...

Oof. Yesterday.

The husband left his car in his work's parking lot overnight. Returned to work yesterday morning to find his car window punched out. They took a gym bag. Yes, a gym bag. Full of sweaty clothes. I'm not complaining. More damage could be done.
So, we juggled cars and dropped his car off at the glass repair folks. A decent estimate. We were happy. Car supposed to be fixed same-day.

But, the car, the ever-picky car, needed a special-order window, ordered from Ohio (strangely, my husband and the car's place of origin), pushing the pick-up to today (hopefully).

I say "hopefully" especially because I went to pick up B in my car, and my car's battery died.

We just replaced one of our bike's tires. We're hoping it holds. The other bike is at B's work... with a broken chain.

Luckily, there are city buses. Right now, I'm hoping the rain stops for a while so I can unbolt the battery from my car.

At least I get to work from home in my pajamas.

But really, I'm not upset. It all happened at convenient times and in the town we live. I didn't even get stuck at a grocery store needing a jump or something. Just about any other time would be inconvenient. So I can't complain.
Oof. Yesterday.

The husband left his car in his work's parking lot overnight. Returned to work yesterday morning to find his car window punched out

Monday, March 7, 2011

Third Round and Garden!

The lug of a puppy gets his third round of shots today. He's 14 weeks old. We'll see how much the sucker weighs. First round: 10.9 lbs. Second time: 18.9 lbs. Let's put it this way: the boy is solid. Not overweight, just built. We're happy he's getting his third round, since this means (once the shots have had a couple days to settle in) he'll be 100% vaccinated. Woo! We can all start going on walks.

*** UPDATE: Bailey weighs 24.5 lbs. Hunk.

In other news: The garden is 100% planned out. We're doing a lot more potatoes this year. There are also some tomatoes, squash, beans, carrots and onions. We've been careful this year to make sure that a lot of the veggies we like are plentiful, but not overwhelming. The ability to store certain items well has played a key part in what we're selecting.
In addition to a lot of potatoes (because home grown potatoes are wonderful), we're trying two new root vegetables: Parsnip and celeriac (celery root). Both have great storage potential, and I really like celery root. On our onions (which we ordered as slips and should arrive any day now), we went with a yellow variety. Perhaps a bit boring, but we should have much greater luck in storing them than the varieties last year.

The celery root, lettuces, carrots, and peas need to be planted soon. I'll start the celery root indoors, and soon thereafter, also will start tomatoes. Certain plants have awfully long growing seasons (celery root is about 120 days), so in our long but cold-starting summer, one has to plan ahead.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Rare and Elusive Blue Retriever

It's a new dog breed.
Meet the rare and elusive Blue Retriever.
Evidently, we need to do a better job at keeping pens ON the table or in their jar and not rolling off of the table.

Pens are, apparently, really fun chew sticks. Especially the blue ones.

Dog has since been laundered and is back to normal.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bottom pillows and faceplants.

Bailey discovered the joys of a sister's bottom as a pillow.

He is getting huge. And handsome.

Maddie is a tad unimpressed. :)
Rain + mud + excited dog to get outside + stairs = faceplant. In the mud.

Just a typical day in our house.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What a hoot!

This finally arrived in the mail today.
Yes, I now own a vintage owl ring. LOVE IT.

Smiling Happy People

Ugh. Certain people need to be happier.

I realize that by writing this, I sound grumpy. Can one still request happiness from people and then complain when it's not received?

Regardless of that debate, I'm about up to *here* with our neighbor, and there is diddily squat I can do about it. Yesterday? The woman had the audacity to tell me she keeps stepping in our dog's crap.

Let me explain this: There is no way in hell she is stepping in our dog's crap.

First of all, she claims it's by her car. We NEVER GO NEAR HER CAR. Why? Because she's crazy. You don't go near crazy people's stuff.

Secondly? We never let our dogs out in the front yard without a leash, or (in Maddie's case, and rarely then) without us five feet away. And again, we're NOT NEAR HER CAR.

After this confrontation (which, may I add, occurred while I was trying to get my escaped cat out of her yard so he wouldn't poo in it. Instead of her saying "thank you for not having neighborhood pooing cats," she snidely says "well, I step in dog poo anyway." UGH!), I went inside, with said cat. I pondered for a bit, and then decided I needed to do something that was proactive, a neighborly gesture, and something I can tell the landlord I did if she ever wants to complain.

I went back over there, and said "You know, we keep a really close eye on our dogs. We've lived next to people who have not, and we don't want to be those people. If you ever see any droppings you think might be our dogs', please let us know and we'll pick it up. Given that we don't let our dogs out unattended, and we always have dropping bags on ourselves, I can nearly guarantee you that it's not us, but I don't want to get into that argument of 'it's not my dogs' poo.' I'd rather have a happy neighbor."

To that? She replies: "I can't go show you because usually, I find it by stepping in it."

The rest of the conversation is not worthy of repeating. She was just trying to be accusatory. I mean, geez, our dogs DON'T EVEN BARK.

Of course, this is also the woman who got mad at me for rolling my garbage can past her house in the late morning hours. Quietly. Apparently it will take bags of cotton wrapped around objects so I can carefully not disturb her. And no, I was not playing loud grunge music and singing while simultaneously clanging a pan and rolling the garbage bin. It was just ONE garbage bin.

Meanwhile, she gets in fistfights with her daughters in the rain and mud in the front driveway, screaming matches with people smashing patio tables with hoes, constantly blocks the driveway, and her daughter has a drum set. And, while we were talking, the daughter stomped up and slammed the door in our face. The mom tried to say "well, she was cold." I bit my tongue to keep from saying the things my mother would have done to me if I had slammed a door like that, and even moreso if it had been in people's faces.

I should also add that while fifty million stray cats walk through our yards, she insists that "the cats don't poo here." Right. I've found poo everywhere in my front yard from the cats, but of course, your area is the magical non-cat poo grounds. Please let me know what you're doing so I can start doing it, ok? Unless the cats stay away from overall bad vibes. I don't want to sacrifice my generally positive disposition. Moving on....

I think I stood my ground, but in a friendly, "look, I really don't want an argument. We're doing everything we can to keep our dogs from being a nuisance to you. Just know that" sort of way.

That said, I came to the following conclusion (one I generally have after interactions with the grumpy folk-type of people): Leave her ALONE.

I think this means keeping the escapee cat indoors at all costs. And avoid eye contact.

Some people are bound to be miserable, whether through external factors or through their OWN DOING.