Friday, May 22, 2015

Make Due and Mend

We have a set of six patio chairs. They're not super special or anything, but they are decent looking, comfortable, and stack-able. The stack-ability is really important to me, because it means that they store out of the weather very easily and also store out-of-season in a minimal amount of space. It's also difficult to find sturdy, affordable patio chairs that stack unless you want molded resin chairs. Anyway, the summer before we moved four of the seats gave out and I tried to fix them with upholstery. That only lasted a few years. Then last winter, I found that I could buy new resin wicker (also called plastic wicker) online from Frank's Cane & Rush Supply! WOO!  And just in the nick of time, too, because the other two seats blew out.

After searching around their site, I decided on a style that was as wide and as thick as I could get in a color that would go well with the bronze color of the chairs and with the rounded profile. Wide so it would cover quickly, thick hoping it would last longer, and rounded for comfort.  They are sold in 1-pound rolls and my chairs took just over 1 pound per seat.

On five of the chairs, the tops of the backs have also failed. I think I will probably replace those with new resin wicker at some time in the future, but for now I decided to use the outdoor fabric I already had on hand to make simple slip covers.

I had enough uncut fabric to make 4 slipcovers. I have two pieces that were cut to make two more seats that I will make fronts with and I picked up at coordinating solid to do the backs. They just slide over and fasten with tabs and buttons on the back.

We have two rounds of guests coming at the end of May and beginning of June and will need three patio chairs per visit, so I have finished four and will work on  the other two after that fun is over.

Here they are in two stacks of two!

I realize that the slip covers "should" all have the same part of the fabric's pattern, but I wanted them to be random for the sake of informality and to enjoy the various parts of the pattern. Lucky for me, this also meant there was less waste, enabling  me to get four covers from the fabric I already had.

I think that replacing all six seats will end up costing about what one or one-and-a-quarter new chairs would cost.  So, in addition to keeping perfectly good chair frames out of the landfill and diminishing the waste and pollution associated with manufacture and shipping, we also saved some money.  Of course, that's with me working for free; it probably would have cost much more than the chairs are worth if I had to pay someone to weave them.

I have a couple other projects in mind for the deck and hope to get those done before June is done. Sadly, those projects don't include new decking or railing this year.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Springtime in The Mountains

We have what amounts to a lilac hedge on the north-ish side of the property, behind the house. It doesn't even come close to covering that whole property line, but it's quite a few lilacs nonetheless.

The lilacs are blooming up our way!  And I felt confident enough in the temperature to put a vase of them on the wood stove.

So quaint n' stuff.

Then this happened. I wasn't able to capture all the lightning, thunder, and just how dark it was, but you get the idea of how fast and hard it was raining and hailing for these parts:


The sun has been hiding since, so I ended up moving the vase to build a fire a few days later.  That's just how it goes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Whose Poop Is This, Anyway?

Scat Scout Eric found this astonishing sample while tromping around the woods with Betty last weekend.  Wowzers!

To illustrate just how impressive this pile was he took a shot* with his ear buds cord in it for scale.  Also his hand.

We figure it was left by either bear or Bigfoot.  One of the other.

* Teehee! I accidentally typed "shat" instead of "shot" at first.  Oopsie!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

DIY Blender Repair For Under $5

I love my KitchenAid blender; it has never let me down even now that we use it just about every morning to make bulletproof coffee*.  But back in February I noticed that the coupler/clutch was getting really chewed up. In fact, two of the "nubs" had worn completely off.  We were both hoping that it could be repaired, but I didn't even know if there was such a thing as small appliance repair shops any more.  When I went online to search, I found that it was a really easy DIY repair after watching a Youtube video.

Next I searched for the part and found several sources with prices as low as about $5.  I ended up buying a set of 2 couplers and a gasket for the jar/collar assembly for $12, with free shipping. WOO! They arrived a few days later and even came with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

First, use a large flat-head screwdriver to gently pry off the old coupler.  You do it a little at a time, spinning the coupler about a quarter turn each time.  It took me longer than it took the guy in the video and as described in the instructions and the old coupler came apart while I was doing it, but it was still quick and easy. I spent more time cleaning and blowing lint off of the blender base for the photos than I did replacing the coupler. Not that you can tell, because... lint's a jerk.

Then you remove any metal shaving from the area, paying special attention to the threads on the blender motor shaft.

I can only assume that the material that the threads on the coupler are made of is much softer than the material the motor shaft is made from which is why it is safe to pry it off rather than try to unscrew it - righty loose-y in this case.

Then you thread your new coupler on to the motor shaft counter-clockwise, hand tighten only. The action of the blender keeps the coupler tightened.

POW! We're back in the blending business!

You may wonder why this photo is taken outside and the others taken inside on the dining room table. That is because the rest of the blender was taken apart and in the dishwasher waiting for me to run it. It was not done until it was too dark to take the photo inside.

* Apparently there is some controversy over bulletproof coffee (also called butter coffee). I am not advocating for or against it; it's none of my business how or if you drink coffee. This post is about fixing your own blender like a boss.

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.