Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Two steps back.

We're replacing the stairs in the front. The wood was beginning to rot on the sides of the steps, so we wanted to take 'em out before they caused more rot in other pieces of wood.

So, I huffed and puffed, and with my handy crowbar friend, I yoinked/pried/cursed/swore/hit and got all the stairs out, leaving behind a skeleton of a staircase for me to put new boards on.

And I was all excited. I'll buy boards, which I already priced out. Then I'll stain them and seal them and they'll look gorgeous.

And then I pried up the top stair and the lip.

So. The top of the stairs is a small landing pad. It's about 5.5'x5' wide. A little spot where the mail box is, where the door opens, etc. It has stone outdoor tile on it. There is plywood on the bottom, then about 1/2"-3/4" thick slab of cement, then the tile on top with grout.

The outermost 1" of plywood is NASTY. As in soggy with fungus underneath.

We're currently exploring options.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What we've been up to (lots of photos) !

We've had a bunch of projects going on. Since I'm so far behind in posts, I decided to just do one post with a lot of photos. Some of these projects aren't 100% done, so you might see them in another photo-- the "finished!" post.

Bedroom Project
First up: We rearranged our bedroom. Rotated the bed and redid the nightstands. Results? WE LOVE IT.

Nightstand Redux
The nightstands went from gray with slate to purple with wood. While the old nightstands looked ok, we just weren't jiving with them. I also spray-painted the knob on the stand and the stand of the lamp. Results? We love them. The drawers have mod podged green paper inside, which is a neat touch, but I'll save that for another post.

Butterfly Bush Hack Job
We're going to be redoing the front yard a tad over the next few years. The previous owners left a bunch of grape plants out there. That's all well and fine, but the grapes sprawl all over the place and it's just not a great usage of space. For now though, we cut back the butterfly bush. Don't worry, it will come back. These suckers are hardy. But, at least this way, we can control its growth a bit more. It's a bit drastic, but I think it will look better in the long run. Now it will be more of a bush and less of an overgrown explosion.

Stair Paint Job
I painted the stairs going upstairs, attempting to make them look nicer and have the walkway be a little more appealing. I decided to use a light green color available from the awesome, low-cost, recycled-paint place. We had been considering this green for our house. Result? FAIL!!! The green is far too lime-y. Dang it. So I painted one stair purple to see if we'd like that. Yes, possibly. More updates to come.

Candlestick Craft Job
$0.99 candlesticks from Goodwill that were a garish gold? Spraypainted blue! They can easily be spraypainted again. Such an easy craft project.

New Sideboard!
We got a new sideboard! Finally, my Grandmother's china has a home. Super traditional? No, but it works like a dream, even if Rumpole likes to lay on it. Sigh.

New Mirror
I took a cheap $2 Home Depot mirror and attached it to a leftover door I had. Then I taped it up and spray painted it. There are some additional bits of interest that are the same color that need to be attached. More on this later, but so far? The project has been great!

Hall Closet Redo
We're working on reorganizing the hall closet. Exciting, right? Hey, we need an organized space for all that toilet paper (hooray Costco).

Ampersand and Quote Graffiti Wall
We painted a large ampersand on the wall and then attached "MR" and "MRS" to the wall in wood letters. Since we've now moved the bed, we've decided to get paint pens and carefully start adding our favorite quotes to the wall. Exciting!

New, Festive Entryway

Large glazed pot at recycle store: $8. Tree at another store (that I got discounted because it had a small bad spot in the back): $7.50. Pumpkins: $2. Pipecleaners: $1. Googly Eyes: $1. Total: $19.50 for a festive entryway! And I will keep the tree there year-around but decorate it for the various times of year.

Naked Living Room Floors
We've decided to go rugless in the dining room and living room. Yes, it requires more regular cleaning, but it's 50x easier. More on that later on too.

Canning Projects
First round of applesauce has been finished! Also canned up: Three large jars of apple cider and a few jars of blackberry jam.

Lilac Hack Job
We hacked away at our lilac trees. I love these trees, but they're going to go as of next spring when we fix up our bottom tier in the back yard.

Hen Home
The chickens have a new home! It's not finished (and won't be so long as this rain continues), but you get the general idea! The left two feet are a shed, so it's a dual-purpose structure. The hens have a lot of space, but they are slow to adjust to confinement.
And the babies? They're getting bigger!!!
The hens are also using the new egg box well (hurray!).
Again though, they're slow to adjust to confinment....

New (to us) Lawn Chairs
Found great cedar lawn chairs at the recycle store for a steal. Fixed them up and painted them. Voila!

New Garden
We're in the middle of building garden beds for the top tier. 3-5 more garden boxes to go. We'll need to decide on final arrangement patterns, then paint them (yes, paint!!!), then fill them, then plant any overwintering items. We're also building a 3' or so high fence to keep dogs out and nicely define the garden space.

Meat Bird Home
The old chicken coop was moved to the other corner of the top tier (it gets more shade). It's covered partially with a tarp to help keep the occupants dry. The occupants? Our meat birds. We have 8 of them (long story involving a likely raccoon took 3 of them), and they're fat and happy. They'll be around for about another month.
Fat and happy.

We've begun to plan out trees, since we've decided to add two trees to our backyard. We may eventually add more, but we're starting with two. We've narrowed down the varieties and where to put them, but final decisions on types have not been made. We'll get them about a month, once fall has fully settled in. Since we're planting them on a slope, our main concern is making sure we create a situation where their roots will get a good soaking, since we'll need to really soak the roots for the first two years. We're debating arrangements.

Compost Bin
We bought a used (well, it wasn't used but it had been sitting in someone's yard) compost bin. Woo! Now we need to get a better compost bucket for in the kitchen.

Lots of Eggs
We need to use eggs more.

New Cleaning Method
This may seem weird, but we've been hunting for a way to somehow make our floor maintenance easier. We gave into fad and are trying swiffer (the old owners left behind the broom). So far? It's not as cheap as a broom, but it sure gets the dust. Then we also use OrangeGlo Daily Spray for our wood floors. Whew!

Too many tomatoes...
Sometime today, I have to finish processing the last 20 pounds of tomatoes we have. Lots of good sauce though!

House Paint
We're also debating what color to choose for our house. Metropaint is about 60% off of regular paint on cost, but their colors are limited. Hm. We'll paint in summer '12 or '13, but we'd like to make sure decisions we make now on other things are supported by our future home colors.

Old Window, New Dry Erase Board
We found this great old window. We're painting it up and then we'll use it as a 6-paneled dry-erase board for in the kitchen.

Beer Brewing
And finally, Bob made beer this weekend. I am not a beer-drinker, so I'll have to look to him and to third-parties to let me know how it turns out.

So there we go! We've been busy, and more updates will soon come!

Monday, September 26, 2011

He's special, that dog.

Someone is playing a game. It goes like this: Pick up the stuffed football. Drop the football. Stare at it while wagging tail. Pounce with the vigor of a bucking bronco. Repeat.

He has questionable taste.

Everything this dog does could be ended with the phrase "and it was great!!!"

I ate kibble... and it was great!!!
I woke up... and it was great!!!
My dogmom got mad at me... and it was great!!!

For serious. This is the dog that will whunka whunka his tail even when he knows you're mad at him.

Though, he does have a thing for picking up and dropping things. The outside version of football drop? Pick up the tennis ball. Walk over to pile of tree trimmings. Toss ball gleefully into pile. Ball falls inside, amongst branches. Dig at pile until find ball. Pounce on ball with same gusto as above. Repeat.

I swear we play with him.

However. This is also the dog that has managed to knock over (probably due to the gusto mentioned above) three cans of paint I had outdoors for the coop. And because I was stupid and didn't think the golden's tail would knock them over, I hadn't pounded the lids shut.

He's special, that dog.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

You awake yet?

Bailey is patiently waiting for Bob to wake up.
Kudos to Bob for being able to sleep through Golden Retriever breath coming at him from 3" away.

(and yes, those are Paddington ears just behind Bailey. That cat is totally standing his ground to keep his spot on the bed. Precious real estate.)

Speaking of cats, these two are also waiting for Bob to wake up. Or maybe they want/need food. Regardless, it's a powwow of impatient animals in the bedroom this morning.
In case you were wondering, that's three cats and one Golden Retriever on the bed or bed frame waiting for Bob to wake up. Wondering where Maddie is? She's on the floor, sprawled out. Short legs are not conducive to jumping up on the bed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The joy of rope.

The corgi picked out a new rope toy today at the store (yes, really). Note to self: hide the toy. It's complicated to check out with one hand while the other hand is holding onto a rope being tugged on happily by an overjoyed Maddie. Also not easy to drive when being nudged by Mads trying to get me to play with the new toy. And walk up the driveway dragging a tugging dog.
That's some tugging and head-shaking action going on there.

Right now though, she's konked out with her beloved rope next to her. Love defined.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jar of Chick.

I have 11 meat chicks in a cage in the garage. They are ALMOST ready to head outside. They are about 4-5 inches long and almost fully feathered. They were going to go outside last week, but then the weather turned and I decided to give them a few more days.

They have a feeder, an upside-down mason jar which feeds into a bottom feeder.

Today, I went downstairs to check on them.


I found that the hungry little devils had knocked over the mason jar and, somehow, disconnected it from the plastic feeder portion.


You've GOT to be kidding me.

The chick would slip on the lip and fall back into the jar. When I tried to reach in to pull the chick out, the chick would tense up, becoming too large to fit through the mouth.

I could not make this stuff up.

So, I took a piece of rope and made a loop. I wriggled it up and over the chick's back and it plopped securely down around the chick's behind. Then, I pulled on it gently, causing the chick to tense up on the back, not the front, and pop out of the jar!!!

The little chicklet was no worse off for wear. Me? I was way worse off for wear. Don't do this to me, chicks!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nail polish

I've never worn nail polish.

Ok, scratch that. I've tried to wear nail polish. A couple times a year for some event or another, I'd fix my nails up. Because usually would only (at most) have clear polish on, to put color on would take a while. And then the polish would go on. Usually the polish would go on poorly. Streaky or globby or just not covering right. It'd take a while for me to finally get it right.

And then, inevitably, I'd bump a finger or two, meaning I'd have to redo those fingers. And in redoing those fingers, usually a few more fingers would get bumped.

So, when all was finally finished, it was a process that had taken a while. So, to have the polish not look great (see the streaky/globby comments, above) and to have the polish only last a day before significant chipping, you can understand why I never wear colored nail polish.

This summer, in working on the coop and in working outside, my nails got a little stained under my fingers. So, my nails always looked dirty. One of my coworkers had given me a gar of this cool light gray Avon nail polish, so I figured what the heck. And, it went on well and STAYED ON for almost a week. Mind blown.

So, I decided I had to try dark gray. I'd been really wanted to for a while. I figured I'd likely have to jump for something pricey in the OPI line. On a whim though, I grabbed a bottle of Revlon Top Speed.
Clouds part, angels sing. Not only does it cover extremely well in one coat, it dries in 60 seconds. That means, in less than 10 minutes, I can put two coats of gray and one coat of clear on all my nails AND have them dry. I usually wait about five minutes before doing something so if I wack my nails it will be dry enough to not dent the polish.

The best part is: If it does eventually chip (usually a tiny one on day 2-3), it is so quickly fixable that I don't care.

I'm guessing by the length of this post you can see how excited I am. And at $4.50 a bottle, I have a right to be! I've gotten a lot of compliments.

I never thought I'd be the girl who is excited to try out new colors on her nails.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To paint or not to paint?

Here's our dining room table. As you can see, the room has a lot of light... but, it has a lot of dark furniture. The table and benches are painted this deep, deep stain (almost black), so there really isn't the stain versus paint debate going on. It's so lacquered up that it's essentially already painted.

So, then there's the wine rack, also dark. It was hurridly made (by yours truly), and the paint masks the bad molding job I did (truth) and also matches the rack. It's black.
And finally, though not as dark, there's the sideboard thingie we purchased recently for my grandmother's china (and other dining-type knickknacks). It's a light walnut color. Above it, on that wall, we're going to be putting a lot of framed photos.
So, the question becomes: Do we paint the dining room table a lighter and brighter color? It might amp up a darkish room that should be light. I'm not thinking anything too crazy.... I think. Just something to modernize the table a bit and give the room a pop. This wouldn't happen anytime in the next month or two, but perhaps this winter?


Monday, September 12, 2011

Blackberry disaster.

On Saturday, I went with friends out to our blackberry spot. Quite frankly, it was not easy picking. Either you had to clamor into the brambles in the shade, or they were easier to pick but in the blazing sun. But, after 3 hours (ish?) of picking, I had 32 cups of blackberries.

Yes, 32 cups. That's around 16 pounds. Really.

I was too tired to start working on jam Saturday night, so I decided to do it Sunday night. Waiting 24 hours is usually NO problem. Besides, I wanted to get the half-jam jars (the small small jars) so we could give lots away to coworkers and such for the holidays.

I drained the juice out of the bottom and plopped a god-awful amount of sugar on the juice to get it mixed up before cleaning the berries of weed seeds, berry leaves, etc.

Then I smelled it: fermenting.


I looked closer. The berries were not fermenting because of age. There were small worms. My guess? Fruit fly larvae. I think the warmth of the day, combined with the warmth of sitting for 24 hours and having a great food-rich environment, combined with likely having a berry or two with eggs resulted in this. I've been picking blackberries for almost 30 years and never had this happen.

I had brief ridiculous thoughts of picking them out, but no, that wasn't going to happen. And if I didn't wish to eat the jam, I sure as heck wasn't going to give it away.

So, almost 20 lbs of blackberries, wasted. Arms scratched up for nothing. Deep thorn in my knuckle (which hurt for the last two days) for naught.

What to do? Blackberries are the best crop for jams and whatnot... because they're free. I can make applesauce rather cheaply too, but those can't be in half-jam or jam jars because that's a ridiculous portion size for applesauce. So you have to make more applesauce to give it away to the same amount of people. Which, I don't mind doing, but. Plus, I had a lot of blackberry jam requests from people who don't make jam.

I think I'll just make 4-5 batches of jam, but in smaller quantities. At least, that's what I'm thinking right now when I'm not quite so dejected.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


If you're considering getting a double-coated dog, consider this:
The 30-lb corgi's pile of fur is the one on the right. And, be mindful that I do brush them often, so this is not a year's worth of fur.

As another note: I love my knock-off furminator. It gets out that sloughed-off undercoat like nobody's business.

We're pretty lucky in that both of our dogs LOVE to be brushed. I am not taking this fact for granted, even though it's a tad of a hassle when the golden boy loves it so much that he rolls over onto his back (therefore rolling onto where I need to brush the most). Oh, and when I'm sitting down and brushing him and he licks my foot. Ee! Mads is pretty low-key, though every five minutes or so, she feels the need to get up, hop onto my lap, and thunk her head against my chest and lick my chin.

Yes, they really love being brushed.

Both dogs also got all their nails trimmed tonight, so it was a full-on doggie spa night. Bailey got two biscuits for his nail-trimming heroism, a result which immediately made him forget all his anxiety and give me a paw again. Luckily, I forgot the dewclaws, so I trimmed both of them and gave him another biscuit. A dancing, happy, golden boy.

Both dogs are happy, and both dogs are shiny. A productive evening, and hopefully one that will give my broom a little bit of a break.

Mama Hen

Had to post this picture to show to the Ohio family folks. Mama hen has taken on two baby chicks. They look NOTHING like her, so thank goodness chickens don't understand genetics (or reproduction, for that matter, I say to the hen who sat for days on unfertilized eggs).
Fluffbottom is now the proud mama to two cuckoo maran chickies, who will eventually look like this.

At dusk on Saturday, I brought the box with chicks up to the coop and placed it nearby the hen. She would hear the chirping and think her eggs were about ready to hatch. An hour later (when it was dark), I took the two chicks out and stuck them under mama bird, who immediately fluffed up and gently covered them in feathers.

We're on day four now and Fluffbottom still has her two chicks.

She's up in the old coop right now though, so we'll see how things go when I try to transplant her in a few days to the new coop. I suspect this will have to be done at night also, probably with me wearing a headlamp. She's quite protective of her chicks, so it's a good thing chickens become rather dumb at night!

Car boy

We just got back from a long weekend of two mini-vacations. The dogs got to come with us on both trips. As you can see, golden boy has developed a new way of sleeping and also keeping himself occupied: Laying his head on the top of the backseat and either falling asleep or watching the road behind us.
This talented boy can do this from either side.

More photos to come.