Monday, April 27, 2015

Earthly Delights

Our first spring here we didn't even know that there was an asparagus patch in the garden until it was too late. Last year, our second, we didn't think to look at the asparagus patch until it was too late. This year, we've been checking in on it every few days for the last few weeks and as of a few days ago discovered we were in business!  It's a slow start, but has been picking up steadily already.

It's going to be the Spring of the Stinky Tinklin' around here.

It took 4 days to harvest these, but it was worth the wait. Eric grilled them with two kinds of squash for a delicious topping for couscous dish to go with some lamb on Saturday. I love weekends!

We had leftovers of everything but the veg.


Speaking of what's happening on the property, I just couldn't let these pink branches go without cutting a few to bring into the house. The downstairs bathroom is still in the worse-before-it-gets-better stage with half-finished and barely-started projects, but I went ahead and put them in there anyway.

Pardon the crappy lighting; the only window is north-facing and our fixture has halogen bulbs, so... this is just how it is at 8 a.m.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Let There Be Reading Light



Now that we have an electrical outlet on this wall, we can have a light by the comfy reading chair. WOO!  This is what FINALLY inspired me to re-purpose* an old wooden telescope tripod that I have had for at least 15 years and had intended to re-purpose this way for at least 12 year. If I have a photo of it before I started this project, it's buried in an old hard drive or possibly a paper photo album somewhere. D'oh!



I disassembled ithe legs the hardware that holds them at the top and masked over the other hardware.  Then I sanded and finished the wood with Stain & Seal in American Walnut, two coats, which I already had on hand.



Then I pre-drilled holes in the legs for screw eyes that I had spray painted black. These attach the black chain I purchased which keeps the legs from spreading further than a certain distance. This makes the whole thing more stable.



I tried to find a lamp kit at all the local hardware stores and home centers to no avail. They had them and they also had many component parts of the kit, but what they didn't have was a kit with an 8" harp (the kits all had 10") or non-kit 8" harps in either black or some silver-colored metal. Those are the colors of the existing hardware on the tripod and I thought it would look classier if I didn't add yet a third color.  Also, the lamp cords were either white or too short.  Plus buying the component parts would cost 3-4 times as much.  So, I searched online and found a site with A LOT of different lamp kits in many combinations of size and color. YES!  I did those above steps while I waited for the lamp kit to arrive.



Being a kit, the assembly went really quickly and easily; the only trick was figuring out how to get it all attached to the tripod.  I went down the hill to my local hardware store, found a black rubber stopper, drilled a hole in it, and used to to attach the lamp hardware to the tripod. POW.

Then all I had to do was install the shade that I had picked up on sale in February.



I am still on the lookout for a cool finial, but in the meantime the one that came with the lamp kit will work just fine and we can use the comfy chair for more than just sitting.

We both think that we need to rearrange the key pieces here a bit. Now is not the time to do so, though.



* RANT ALERT! Why "re-purpose" and not "recycle"  or "upcycle"? I'll tell you why: I think that "recycle" should be used for what you do instead of putting something in the landfill - when you turn over material to be broken down and remade into another item of the same or consisting at least partly of the same material. If you use an empty beer bottle as a vase, that's "re-purposing" and if you used it to bottle you're own home brew, that would be "reusing."

I think "upcycling" needs two components. First, the new use must be better than the original or current use, hence the "up." Second, the item must have been destined to be recycled or thrown away, hence the "cycle." This might include burying a used beer bottle upside down with the bottom exposed to make a garden path, but how is that any better of a purpose for a bottle than holding beer? There may not be a better purpose for a bottle than holding beer! It may not even be possible to "up cycle" a beer bottle. [mind blown]



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Greetings from the Easter Betty and Delia, too!

I found myself madly pinning amazing Easter (and Derby) hats on pinterest last week and then got the wise idea that Betty needed a fancy Easter "bonnet."  Three dollars and an hour or so of crafting later and ta-da!


As you can see, I couldn't stop at the fancy hat and had to make her a Peter Pan collar to match!  And then I couldn't stop with just Betty and had to make Delia a Peter Pan collar, too.  Delia is our tomboy and thinks fancy hats are dumb, so instead she just got a fancy bow on her collar.



Here are some better shots of the gear:



I had just enough of this material, which I could never find another use for, to make this. It's not really a print I find super appealing, but it's perfect with her hat.  The button came from the big button box.



Delia's collar is also made entirely from materials on-hand. WOO!



These are closer to what "real life" looks like.



This was taken about 1/10th of a second before Betty dashed off to chase a bird off of the deck.  And then about two minutes later she tried to get the hat off. If her attitude about her Halloween costume taught me anything, it was that she loves wearing outfits in front of friends or at Papa's office where people are cooing at her and fawning over her, but only tolerates them a little for her very own mama at home.



Delia insists that this is how the pups are wearing them these days, but I think she's just letting the weight of the buckle on her regular collar turn her pretty outfit backwards.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Little Things: One Bear Bottle Opener

I gave Eric this guy for Christmas and finally installed him the third (3rd) week of March. He's mounted on the side of the kitchen cabinet that houses the refrigerator where he happily opens beer bottles.

I went to our small local hardware store looking for, but not expecting to find, brown wood screws. Well, what to you know? "Window screws" in four (4) or five (5) colors, including brown. POW!

I think he needs some kind of bottle cap catcher underneath, we'll see what we come up with. And when/if we come up with it.  And then install it.

Also, helll-llloooo April!



Yes, that indicated varying changes of rain/snow from Wednesday through Sunday of this week. Which reminds me of this.

Monday, March 30, 2015

One Step at a Time: The Bathroom Redo Edition. Volume 2

Nothing like opening the curtain all the way and taking a photo to really see what crummy shape the finish on your cabinets is in.

Tiny step-by-tiny step the main floor bathroom is on its way to seeming all new-ish!  After a thorough search of the local hardware stores, home centers, and used building materials suppliers, as well as a shout out to some local friends for resources, I purchased new cabinet pulls online. This time through Overstock.com.

The original pulls.  Soooo 1970s and to my eye, soooo suitable for some creepy Halloween prop!  That's right, I'm keepin' 'em.

While it's silly to install the new ones now when I will just have to remove them to refinish the cabinets, I did it anyway. I just love hardware and having this sit around in a cupboard just wouldn't do. One thing I am counting on is that a light sanding will remove most or all of the color difference from where the last pulls were. That's what happened upstairs with the same pulls and very similar cabinetry.  I'm just glad that whoever installed the originals didn't tighten the screws so much as to dent the wood... you see that a lot when you remove hardware.

Simple, but not plain... why so hard to find? These are even a brand carried at the big box home centers, Amerock.


I am still on the prowl for a pair of knobs for the floor-to-ceiling cabinet on the other side of the bathroom, by the door.  I have some ideas, but haven't committed to anything just yet.

Despite my lack of photography and GIMP skills, the wood on this floor-to-ceiling cabinet is pretty close to the same color as the vanity.

I am not yet sure how I am going to handle the hinges (see photo, top).  I have not found the right finish locally and buying them online means either paying a lot or buying in bulk such as I end up with several extras (I need 12).  I am considering painting them, but I fear the results will be unsatisfactory and I'll end up buying new ones anyway.  I also haven't totally decided how I am going to refinish all these cabinets, but I do know what I want to do. I just have to do a test on the back of one of those vanity doors to see if it will work.  Stay tuned...



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Local Fixture (II)

Why the "arty" framing? One of those cool Edison bulbs burnt out the first night we had this installed. Sigh.

We finally ditched* that horrifying-to-us ceiling fan over the dining table for our super cool-to-us new chandelier!  YES!  We are disproportionally excited about these changes, but feel no shame in our excitement. At least I am and don't.  Squeeeeeeeee!

Why the blurry photo? Nighttime and my camera held by my hands.  Meh.

I have been hesitant to consider fixtures exposed light bulbs, because it seems like the light could be harsh, but there's something about this fixture and the Edison bulbs that convinced me to go for it. And we knew we would install a dimmer switch when we installed a new fixture, so we can control the harshness to some degree. I can tell you for sure that I am looking forward to not having bug-catching glass globes!



I decided that I wanted a little more visual heft to the top so I bought a ceiling medallion and painted to blend with the new fixture. It's pretty dang close for working with what I had on hand.  Of course, the medallion isn't quite as big as the base of the fan we ditched (see above), so I need to get that bit of ceiling painted.  It's alllllways something.



But that's not all, people, that_is_not_all: Finally! An end to the alien umbilicus! OK, there's still the little one hiding the wires that connect the TV to the DVD and Roku, but still much better.

Of course, now we really need to address our collegiate-style stool-as-entertainment-center situation. Maybe even get the surround sound speakers, you know, surrounding. 

After two and a half years, we now have an outlet on this wall. POW!  Or maybe ZAP!  We chose a black one to be more subtle on the oxblood wall. Well, we chose a brown one, but they didn't have brown so black it is.  We still have a circuit breaker power strip, so it's not all pretty yet.  Now to more determinedly search for a more grown-up piece in which to store the rest of the AV equipment which should hopefully house the power strip, too.

Now I feel inclined to hunt down a black or brown surge protector power strip.  Sigh.


*I haven't decided if I should donate the fan to one of the local used building materials shops or if I should keep it to use in the shop when we get around to fixing that up to use for more than just storage and treadmill-ing.  I mean, it's still going to be a horrifying-to-me looking fixture, but a free ceiling fan is a free ceiling fan and maybe a coat of spray paint could save it. Maybe?




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Street Scene

You know that thing where you're walking to the neighbors' house to look in on their dogs while they're away for the day...



... and you find most of a skull there in the road?  Yeah, that.



See how I used their, they're, and there correctly in one sentence?  Nice.