Thursday, April 17, 2014


I wonder if I'll stop getting carded now that my license photo is slightly less unflattering?

Since I finally got a haircut and can achieve a non-hobo look when desired, I finally went ahead and got my Montana State Driver License.  Well, I don't actually have the license proper, but I have a temporary, paper licence and holes punched into my Oregon license that spell out "VOID."

Yup, I'm an organ donor. I hope everyone considers being an organ donor, too, annnnnnd then does something to make it so.

What I really wanted to show everyone was these cool maps they have behind the counter at the Stevensville branch of the DMV.  The top one is labeled "Out of State Transfers from 3/23/2009 to 6/17/2013" and if FULL of pins, one from each person who has moved here and gotten there new license at the Stevensville office. There is supposed to be one for Eric in the heap of pins stuck into Portland.

The bottom maps is labeled "Out of State Transfers since 6/17/2013" and I got to watch a red pin go into Portland for me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whose Poop is This Anyway: Extra-special Easter Edition

Eric took Betty out for short post-dinner walkies in the forest about a week and half ago.  He said she had a *funny look on her face while walking back.  When they returned to the deck and he de-leashed her he heard a thud of something falling onto the deck.  This is when I heard, "Oh, Betty! You gross little dog!"  When I looked up, he motioned me out to the deck and I immediately saw the object of his bemused disgust: a big "compilation" deer turd. BLECH!  I think it might have been the same one I made her drop in the forest the day before.  Sigh.

When I had the bright idea to get a picture for **another edition of "Whose Poop..." he grabbed this ***plastic egg off our table for me to use to show scale.  Then he suggested, "the Easter Edition" and I knew we were on to something.

*Interpreted and anthropomorphized as "What? Nothing. I have nothing in my mouth. Nope. Not a thing. I don't know what you're talking about. Yup. Just a nice, innocent dog on a walk with her papa on a spring evening. That's me."
**You lucky, lucky bastards people!
***Pretty, purple, plastic egg courtesy of my friend, Fizzy Party, who sent us a sweet little Easter care package: purple nail polish for me and homemade sour cherry gummy candies for Eric.  Brock, brock, THANKS FIZZY PARTY!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

That 70s Bathroom: A Few More Details

It has been awhile since any kind of redecorating or remodeling has gone on around here and it is going to be a little while longer until anything of any real consequence goes on in the house.  That said a few fun, new things have been added to the upstairs hall bath in the last couple of weeks.

How we last left the foreign toothpaste collection.

First off, I filled the two remaining empty frames (above, lower left) with more of the foreign toothpaste collection plus one more frame.  Next time I'm in Portland, I'll need to pick up either 2 or 5 more of these Ikea shadow box frames, because there are more tubes to be framed and there will always be more foreign toothpaste.

Left frame: from left Gibraltar, Germany, South Africa. Right frame: from top Vietnam, Thailand, China, China.

I'd like to have 3 frames arranged vertically here like one column from the other arrangement.
From top: Russia, Spain, Kosovo.

The toilet in that bathroom doesn't flush, shall we say, thoroughly. I had a similar issue in my house on 80th Avenue and that was caused by the wrong hardware being installed in the tank by a previous owner.  I think this is the same issue, but I am neither ready to tackle it nor ready to pay a plumber to tackle it.  So, I thought a sign would help everyone who uses it leave the bowl as they found it. [wink] 

I wanted this to be both subtle AND obvious, so I thought hung over the wood paneling rather than the painted wall AND right by the toilet handle would achieve those goals. Time will tell.

I'm not a lady who usually likes to thumbtack or tape things up, so I mentally went through my stash of small frames AND remembered this little beauty that I picked up recently at a thrift store.  Not only does the profile mimic the *Ikea framed mirror on another wall in there, but the finish ties right in with the other antique brass finishes. Not to mention it has a certain 1970s home decor vibe reminiscent of Home Interiors, Inc. of which my grandmother was a leading sales person in her heyday AND loyal fan through all her days.  Practical, humorous, and nostalgic is a winning combo in my book... er, bathroom.

I was tempted to embroider it, but printing it meant it would be complete within minutes rather than possibly-never. I thought the semi-old western-y font seemed appropriate for our location as well as the vibe of the room.  There is no glass because the frame originally had a mirror in it, which lead to a whole other reason to giggle while deciding where to hang it.

If you'd like a reminder of just how far this bathroom has come and all the excruciating details of the transformation from actual-80s to retro-70s decor check out these posts:

That 70s BathroomL Phase 3


Friday, April 4, 2014

Full Measures

Going back in the time machine before April Fool's Day finds our hero fishing the Missouri River with Osprey Expeditions guiding him to some big ol' rainbow trout!  I'm told that he caught this first one within 60-90 seconds of putting his fly in the water the very first time.  Bigger, wigglier fish followed but were not captured by the camera.  In fact, both Eric Fs (see caption) caught at least eight fish and all but a few were between 18-26" long!  That's his story and he's sticking to it.
The guide and owner of Osprey Expeditions, Gary Fritz, is the father of one of Eric's employees whose name is also Eric.  Yup, Eric Fischl and Eric Fritz; I guess that lead to some confusion on the river.  I'm told that it was pretty windy on the river which is why our Eric looks like he's smuggling his catch home in his coat.  This trip was purely catch-and-release.

Speaking of inches, I got about 14 of them (the equivalent of half to two-thirds of a Rainbow trout) cut off of my hair and have sent that off to Children With Hair Loss as a donation.  I had not intended to grow it out for that purpose again, but I just kept not getting it cut... for 34 months.  I LOVE having a reasonable amount of hair again and even tried a new color this time.  Still brown - what am I, crazy? - but I went from nutmeg to cinnamon.  So spicy!

I chose CWHL because they take color treated hair, but unlike the organization-we've-all-heard-of CHWL never charge the families of the children with "medically-related hair loss" for the wigs.   Of course, there is still a lot of expense in making these wigs, so even if you can't donate hair I hope you consider a monetary donation; every little bit adds up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Foolin' Around


Pretty much the only non-creepy clown around, Ms. Mavis.  Seriously, she's less creepy in person.

Once I spotted the red clown nose in the 50% off bin at Michael's, I knew Mavis had to have it.  What I couldn't believe was that between the two of us neither Eric or I had a rainbow clown wig!  That's not like us at all. Lucky for me, my friend, Denise, had part of one left over from a project and our mutual friend, Lisa, guilt-ed her into sending it to me!  YEY FRIENDS!  YEY GUILT!  The rest of her outfit was cobbled together with materials at hand, mostly scraps and remainders from other projects.

Something about this great, big , bushy beard makes Ramon look kind of cranky. That's how you know it's an April Fool's joke, because Ramon is the cheeriest guy there is.

We also didn't have a bushy, ginger beard for Ramon, if you can believe that.  I did have orange yarn in my stash, though. YEY STASH!  The hat was picked up from the Goodwill bins a few years ago & has been in the costume box waiting for the right occasion.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Wedge of Lime

When we had the house inspected as part of the sale transaction, we also had the well inspected and its water tested.  The report came back that our water was a little bit hard; we have some lime, but not very much and there was even a disconnected water softener under the house that we were told we could re-install if we wanted to.  We decided to give it a go without the water softener, partly because we'd heard that softened water feels weird and since the lime is not a health hazard why add stuff to what we drink and bathe in?  This does mean that we do our cleaning differently and that sometimes water shoots out of faucets at odd angles without warning.

We don't even use the sink sprayer all that often, at least I don't.  It completely clogged once without us realizing what had caused the malfunction. Luckily, I figured it out quickly and without calling a plumber.

About a month ago we finally got a steamer for the wood stove. The air can be quite dry here and this seems to help mitigate the side effects of that, such as dry eyes and sinuses.  This is what the inside looks like after about 6 refills of tap water.  It's kind of cool, like a kitchen sink science experiment.

It washes out very easily at least.  I wonder if it can be made into a Halloween prop.

We'll even find little bits of lime in a drinking glass if we let ice cubes melt in there!  Even though I didn't like doing it, this is why we decided to go back to store-bought dishwasher detergent and using the heated dry feature on the dishwasher.  All those years of hearing about water spots in commercials and now I know what that's all about!

I like vinegar just fine and at first the smell of cleaning with it just reminded me of dying Easter eggs as a kid.  It's less nostalgic now and the scent doesn't thrill me, but it's better than fake pine or whatever else most store-bought cleaners are supposed to smell like. I'm pretty sure no one involved with naming those scents has ever been to a mountain stream or a tropical beach.

All our water fixtures are cleaned with vinegar or some kind of vinegar mix.  I'm going to try to use some of the old empty bottles of my next batch of homemade clothes soap.  At least we can still use that. Guess what we use in the fabric softener dispenser... that's right, vinegar!  It keeps the static down quite a bit (another issue with the dry air) and doesn't leave a coating of super-scented mystery chemicals on our clothes, towels, and blankets.  Nothing comes out of there smelling of vinegar, either.

One part Dawn original dish washing soap and one part hot vinegar in a spray bottle makes an excellent cleaner for the showers and sinks.  The vinegar gets the lime scale and the dish soap gets the oils and soap scum. It's viscous enough to cling to the vertical surfaces, too, so I let it sit on there for 30-45 minutes.

I'm not going to put pictures of toilets here, but for those we use one part baking soda and one part vinegar, let sit for 20-40 minutes.  In all cases, if the lime has managed to get thick, a cloth soaked in vinegar and set on the surface for a time will loosen that lime right up.  Dog water dishes get cleaned with straight vinegar, too.

I should mention that the slightly hard water isn't all that big of a deal.  It still feels new and strange to buy white vinegar by the gallon and remove the residue of what I think should be "only" water from our fixtures and belongings.  At least one guest commented on how the hard water made her hair more manageable, but I gave up managing my hair so haven't noticed.  I know there are plenty of lime-busting products on the market, but I like that we are putting fewer unknown chemicals into our septic and on our things.  I also like that we get just as much cleaning power for a fraction of the price; why wash money down the drain?  We haven't done any research, but I do wonder if there is a reasonably cost-effective method of filtering the lime out rather than adding something to the water.  Anyone know about that or have a good layperson's resource?

Here's what our new steamer looks like on the outside. So CUTE, that bear smilin' like a bear with a toasty warm rump!  These things can be quite expensive, especially if they're decorative at all. I had my eye on a different form, but when this one went on sale I struck.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Touch of the Blarney

May the sun always find you on a cloudy day,
and when you want to be home may you find the way.
May you always have the courage to take a chance,
and never find frogs in your underpants.

Our bonny Irish lass, Mavis, is dressed up in her adorable outfit from last year.  If you click that link and scroll down, you won't regret it for you shall see Betty in her leprechaun costume!

"Any excuse for a costume" is one of my life mottoes.  Ramon couldn't agree more.

I figured if any random group of office and warehouse workers would recognize an Irish Elk, it would be this random group, but just in case I made the banner sign riffing on, "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day" popularly found on t-shirts, buttons and signs at pubs & bars.

And an excuse for a special adult beverage ain't a bad thing either.  We have made a little tradition of having an Irish Car Bomb at home to celebrate St. Paddy's, because going out on St. Paddy's can be excruciating.  This might be especially the case in a college town.  Annnnywaaaaaaay, tonight we'll do the same, but I've added a twist to the tradition with Irish Car Bomb cupcakes!  I used this recipe with the Jameson ganache variation. I had planned on making these to send with Eric to work for his team, but then about a week before the holiday he got word that the Employee Crisis Assistance Program was holding another fundraiser bake sale that day.  Well, cupcakes for a good cause deserve extra decoration as far as I'm concerned which lead to a clip art search through my files, my bookshelf, and my internet.  A few downloads and some Photoshop time later and I had an Irish Elk (Megalocerus giganteus) wearing a leprechaun hat!

Original art by D Trudeau. whose work can be found here: 

A few more searches, downloads and minutes on Photoshop and I had a couple of labels; one for the flavor of cake and one tying Irish Elk into St. Paddy's Day.

Last time I contributed cupcakes (also elk-themed) to the bake sale, I didn't make a label. I thought maybe the organizer had labels and I didn't want to step on any toes.  I don't think they did and since this is boozy, I thought it a good idea to include one.

I sent Eric to work with a dozen, because that's what fits in the cupcake carrier when they have toppers and will take some to a few neighbors which will leave us with just enough to only slightly overdo it over the next few days as is only appropriate with both dessert and with St. Patrick's Day.

Here's a messy cutaway view of the Jameson Whisky ganache.  I figured that the whole Irish Elk thing was a bit much for the neighbors, so instead I added some green sugar on top for a bit of color.  I thought the Elk-y ones looked more elegant without the sprinkles.  Well, as elegant as a cupcake with an Irish Elk wearing a leprechaun hat on top of it can look.