Wednesday, January 30, 2013

$3 Faux Bois Shower Curtain Rod*

I just couldn't look at that shower door anymore, but removing it seemed counter productive and I had that sample shower curtain that inspired the whole redecoration of the upstairs bathroom so I needed to hang it.  Easier said than done.  The tension rod I had moved with us doesn't get short enough and locally I didn't find one that would.  One of the local Helpful Hardware Folks suggested a cafe curtain tension rod which I thought was ridiculous.

The whole point was aesthetic and this didn't work for me.

So, I went home and tried it.  It seemed strong enough, but I just couldn't handle the look.  So, I figured I could get a length of lightweight pipe, faux bois it up.  Like a boss.

Yup, that's a PVC pipe all right.

I went to Home ReSource (a similar thing to Portland's ReBuilding Center) with a shower curtain ring to make sure I got the right size.  I paid $1 for this length of 3/4" PVC and I paid the cutting fees ($2) to get a nice clean cut on either end since I no longer have any power saws.  I cleaned it well, sanded it lengthwise so any scratches would help simulate grain, then applied primer, again lengthwise so any ridges or grooves would work with the grain.

faux_bois faux_bois_how-to
That's the same cafe curtain tension rod, this time mounted at the top of the stairs (before Ramon came to live, well not live, with us).

I could work on one end then the other when priming and even when painting, but not when glazing, so I jury rigged this setup to use from this point on.  From there I painted two coats of Benjamin Moore's Chestertown Buff (HC-9) which I had on hand to sample for the living room (it didn't make the cut).

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There she is with 2 good coats of the base color.  Yup.

Next came a layer of burnt umber glaze using Proceed Full-bodied Glazing Texture, applied with a chip brush then and given a sort of striĆ© with another chip brush and left to dry completely.  Professional glazing media take much, much longer to dry than house paint and especially craft paint. With the temp and humidity in our house, I let this go about 16 hours.

faux_bois faux_bois_how-to
It looked plenty wood-y, but I wanted to tone down the stripes a bit.

After that, I just did a light all over glaze to make the striae a little more subtle.  I used a chip brush to apply a generous amount of glaze, then gently rubbed the length of pipe with a folded paper towel redistributing and removing some of the glaze.

faux_bois faux_bois_how-to
The first shot I took had the pipe parallel with the grain on the floor and you could hardly see the pipe.  Sweet!

The glaze leaves a shiny finish and I although the Pergo floor is shiny, the real wood wainscot is flat or matte.  I liked the idea of a duller finish better for a more rustic look and I wanted to protect the glazed surface from both moisture generated by the shower and from wear generated by the curtain rings.  I had some Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish Exterior and put about 4 coats of that on, drying completely between each coat and giving it a super light sanding with 320gr with each coat after the second.

faux_bois faux_bois_how-to
All installed and ready for action... the action of holding up a shower curtain.

One of the trickiest parts of making a convincing faux bois in this style (which isn't true faux bois, but more like faux faux bois) is choosing the base color.  I didn't have anything in my stock that was right for really matching the floor or the wainscot, but I did have something that would match this lighting chain I picked up to use for another project.

This is another Home ReSource find that I plan to use to refurbish the light fixture in the stair well using pretty much this same technique and the same materials.  In the meantime it was a great resource for finding a close-enough base color.

And how the rod looks when you're standing in the room; pretty much like wood.  YEY!  And whew!

faux_bois faux_bois_how-to

*One thing that comes from having been a decorative painter, DIYer, and crafty type for years is that I already have a bunch of materials and tools.  If that were not the case, this surely would not have been a $3 project.  But, I do believe that similar results could be achieved using less expensive materials, readily acquired at a craft store.

Monday, January 28, 2013

That 70s Bathroom: Phase 2

Just to refresh your memory, this is what we started with:

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom

And this post covers what I've done so far: That 70s Bathroom: Phase 1.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
Sadly, I lost most of the blue/green patina when I WD-40ed it to get the swivel action back.  Also, I need to touch up those screws; our local Ace didn't have brass screws both thin and long enough.  Shoot.

Since we last met (in the bathroom), two things have been accomplished.  First, I installed an antique swiveling hook (above) I had in my stash next to the shower.  So often there isn't room near the shower for a full towel bar, so I always install a hook so I don't have to traipse across the floor dripping wet after a shower or drape my towel over the shower curtain rod or shower door.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom faux_bois
Basic PVC cut to fit over the cafe curtain tension rod and painted.  I'll make a how-to post on that, soon.

Second, I decided to try cutting a piece of PVC to fit and then painting it to look woo-like.  The way it turned out kind of thing tickles me, so I think I'll stick with it so long as it stays up.  While it meant more work, it also meant that I spent $1 on a PVC scrap from Home ReSource + $2 to have two, neat, straight cuts made instead of spending $8.99 - 19.99 + shipping to get a shower stall tension rod in a color I don't want. 

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
It looks way better than that silly old window curtain rod!

There are a couple things that didn't happen since we last met (in the bathroom), despite my adequate efforts.

Light Fixtures:  Again, since we plan to really remodel in a few years we didn't want to spend real money on good looking and/or nice fixtures that we may not reuse.  I was hoping I could find new (or vintage) glass shades that would make me feel better about them, but no luck so far.  We may just live with them until we remodel.

Toilet Paper Holder: I've heard some people prefer the free-standing model, but at least in our situation it means that it's either behind you or in the middle of the room or you have to move it into position every time you use it (and remember to move it back, just like the toilet seat).  Neither of us like the shiny brass for this situation and I don't feel like painting it.  I have searched ebay, etsy, online retailers specializing in antique and vintage house hardware, new pieces online. I wasn't super excited about anything that didn't cost way more than I thought a used TP holder should.  And I'm a gal who has dropped some dough on bath hardware as I'm kind of a geek about that stuff, but something that's been in a stranger's bathroom and is not retro chic, just retro... not gunna happen.  Unless I get desperate.  Example: a vintage antique-brass piece I found on ebay started at $22, but eventually sold for over $100! 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Slippery As S_ _t.

The weather warmed up a bit last week which was not wholly unpleasant, but the inevitable associated melting of snow was a bummer.  Not only do the yard and forest not look as pretty with patches of bare, winter ground, but it turns out melting snow is the best way to find out where one or more of the Beastie Grrrlz liked to do their poopin' before the snow started falling and staying in mid-December.

Gratuitous poop shot:  I'm sure I mistakenly highlighted a few sticks or pine cones, but I'm also sure I missed a few turds. Luckily, I think they're taking care of they're business off a bit now that they're comfortable in the knowledge that this place is home.

In other bummer news, the melting has turned the driveway into an Ice Luge of Treachery (TM).  Eric has navigated Bert (the truck) down the driveway by running one side of her (Bert is female) to the edge where it's still snow or dirt, but not ice.  I have not.

Looks a little like liquid water, but that's just a tiny, thin layer over the slick-as-snot ice.

Today I got right to the top of the slope and chickened out because I was sliding on the nearly flat ground and I was scared.  Upon exiting the vehicle I went right down on my left knee and left eyebrow.  My glasses are all out of whack, but my face and knee seem okay, maybe just a bit swollen.  My shoulders however feel like it's the 2nd day after a relatively high-speed car accident.  I guess getting out of the car and having an accident qualified as a car accident, right?

This is the right-hand curve at the top of the hill looking toward the road... it looks just like a frozen river without all the quaint notions of old time-y ice skating in long wool coats with fur mufflers.

The photos were taken yesterday; today it has been snowing off and on so it looks much better.  It's not, in fact it may be worse.  Silver lining: the dog poop is getting re-covered.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Suddenly Surrounded by Faux Taxidermy

Thanks to the gift-giving savvy of some special people* in my life, we're really starting to get our domestic surroundings in the swing of mountain life, our style.

Check out these fantastic magnets hand-crafted especially for yours truly by my deer friend (see what I did there?), Cinda.

faux_taxidermy craft_taxidermy
Plastic animals, heads separated from their bodies and be-glittered, on real wood plaques!  Currently mounted on our kitchen fridge (faux bois makeover here)

I've had a Lite Brite on my list for a few years and this year my Beastie Grrrlz came through!  Today's models are not what we think of when we say we want a Lite Brite, but the cube idea is growing on me.  Now I'm scouring ebay for more pegs.

faux_taxidermy craft_taxidermy
You can see why I need more pegs; this poor deer looks like it has mange.  E and I are debating painting the white and green plastic to class it up a bit, too.

But wait, there's more!  Look what the BGs got me for my birthday!  GAH!  Dinodermy!

faux_taxidermy craft_taxidermy t-rex Tyrannosaurus_rex
I'd like you all to meet Ramone.  He's mounted in our stairwell and I imagine will be sporting some natty duds now and again.  I think we'll attach him to a plaque to give him the taxidermic presence he deserves.

Look how Ramone's tongue brings out the pink in the wall color! [cringe]  All the more motivation to get that painted.

*I don't know about your dogs, but my dogs are people.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let's Get This Fire Started! -- UPDATE: Easier Storing Method

The main heat source for our house is a wood stove in the kitchen.  We have electric baseboard heaters to supplement, but we hardly use them.  I had seen a few different types of homemade fire starters on pinterest and decided to give making some a try to see if it would help facilitate that first-fire making in the mornings.  I decided on the paraffin-wax-in-paper-egg-crate style.  I can't take credit for the idea, but I did fine tune the measurements and methods myself over 2-3 making sessions.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
Those handy dandy fire starters burn bright and hot to get the kindling going.

These things work so much faster than news paper, take up less space and are cheaper since we don't get the paper (I don't know if they even deliver since no one else will come up the road after the snows start).  They also diminish the time and effort that goes into making the extra small kindling so we've decided that these are going to be our go-to method.  We don't eat enough eggs to provide our at-least-once-daily need, so I went online and ordered egg cartons from an egg carton manufacturer.  This one offered free (but not quick) shipping.  We had to get 125 cartons, but Eric really wants to get chickens in the spring, so we'll probably need cartons for that, too.

 homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters

Here's what you'll need:
Paper egg cartons (any size),
Paraffin wax (found in the canning section of the grocery or hardware store)
A thrift store pot you can use just for melting wax and the like (to use as a double boiler)
A thrift store spoon you can dedicate to waxy endeavers
Dryer lint

You'll also need a pot for the bottom part of the double boiler, wax paper, cookie sheets (optional), range.

CAUTION: Both paraffin wax and dryer lint are super flammable.  Never melt the wax directly over the heating element or leave it unattended while it's melting.  Dryer lint catching fire in dryers and ducts is a leading cause of house fires so keep it away from your hot stove and other sources of heat.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
In Missoula and up the Bitterroot there is a big spread in the price for a box of Gulf Wax brand paraffin.  I'm glad I shopped around, because it's about half the price at my local IGA as it was at the big Ace Hardware where we by the Beastie Grrrlz's food.

1.  Once you have collected your materials, set up your double-boiler and cut your paraffin into chunks that will fit well in your pot.  My pot is small, so I cut my brand of paraffin wax in half with a dough knife/scraper-thingy; 3 halves fit nicely.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
My jury-rigged double boiler will melt 3 halves in about 12 minutes once the water in the bottom half is boiling.  Hint: don't let your metal spoon sit in there while you're waiting: ouch, it gets hot!  (duh, Tara) 

2.  While you're waiting for your wax to melt, tear or cut the top and the tabs off of your egg cartons.  Then stuff about a cotton ball-sized bit of lint into each cell.  The lint is not as dense as a cotton ball, so just the physical size is enough.  Once the carton cells are filled compress the lint a little.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
What lint doesn't go to fire starters will be put out for nesting birds in the spring.  Luckily, the birds also like using dog hair in their nests, because our dryer lint has plenty of that.

3. Set your egg cartons on waxed paper or other protective layer, because some of the melted paraffin will leak through the carton paper.  I set mine on on cookie sheets, because our counter space next to the stove is limited and I like to make 4-6 dozen at a time. This allows me to stack them or move them out of the way for the next batches.

4.  Once your paraffin is completely melted, spoon it into the cells of the be-linted egg cartons.  I find that 2 spoonfuls saturates the lint and soaks into the bottom of the cell and allows my 1.5 bars of paraffin to make about two dozen fire starters.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
I tried pouring, but my cheap thrift store pot doesn't pour neatly so couldn't control how much or where my paraffin poured/dribbled.  Even if I upgrade my double boiler set up, I think I'll still use the spoon just so I can maximize consistency.

5.  Let filled cartons cool and harden.  I do this in the mudroom which is quite a bit cooler than the rest of the house.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
They're not pretty, but if they were I may not want them sacrificed by fire to the mundane task of home heating.

6. Tear the cells apart and store them somewhere away from open flame, etc.  They're designed to catch fire, after all.

homemade_fire_starters DIY_fire_starters
They don't store especially compactly, so I also tear off the bigger "flags" left behind when separating the cells just so I can get them into a 1-gallon pail.

Recycling is not as easy or even as available here as it was in Portland and we don't have any friends here with chickens to save our cartons for, so it feels good to reuse them and "reduce" them.  It's also nice to turn the natural byproduct of the clothes dryer into something useful and keep it out of the landfill.  And in the long run, we probably save money, too:

Carton:    2.33 cents/starter.
Paraffin:    .07 cents/starter 
Total:      2.4 cents/starter

Obviously this doesn't include the cost of electricity to heat the stove burner and run the well pump to fill the bottom of the double-boiler, the cost of wax paper or the time.  I didn't really track the time, but once the materials were all procured, I bet it took me less than an hour to set up, make 6 dozen starters, and clean up.  Next time I'll probably make even more and it won't add much time.

NOTES ON MISERLINESS: Once hardened, I peel the spilled paraffin off the wax paper and drop it into my pot, I have a lot less of that since I narrowed my amount down to two spoonfuls/cell.  I have dedicated the pot and the spoon to this purpose, so I don't use my time or resources to clean the paraffin residue off of them.  It's not like it's going to rot, right?  I just keep them away from the other pots and spoons so they aren't mistaken for those used for food.  Also, I  roll up the wax paper and store it with the pot and spoon to use again next time.

Who knew you could use a skin flint to start fires?

UPDATE: Jan 2014 I made about ten dozen more of these to get us through the winter (I hope) and realized that if I left them in pairs (or threes with the 1.5 dozen crates) that they would stack neatly several deep.  In the bucket, they stack even higher and I got ALL of them in there.

This does mean that first thing in the morning whomever makes the fire will have to break one off some of the time, so we'll see how it goes.  My guess is the slight inconvenience of doing that is better than the inconvenience of the falling out of the bucket when it's over full.  Plus this means making them is that much faster!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wildlife Watch V!

I had gotten off my sick couch to take a few minutes to swap out the 2nd and 3rd bedroom closet door pulls for new ones and come back downstairs.  It's usually cold in those rooms if we don't leave the doors open (or turn on the baseboard heaters), but it seemed extra cold tonight and since it didn't get above 10 degrees on our thermometer today I went to the kitchen window to see if I could see the thermometer through the last bit of twilight.  I could not read it clearly and just as I turned away to grab a light, I saw movement out there.  It was a red fox trotting (heh) up the side and around the back of the house!

Vulpes vulpes (so nice they named 'em twice). It looked a lot like this only more trees in the background and nearly dark outside.

Eric was reading by the woodstove and after a second of speechlessness I started whisper-squealing, "There's a fox!  There's a fox!  There's a fox!"  He was able to catch sight of it, too, as we moved to the windows are the back of the house, but luckily the dogs did not and didn't seem to get too worked up over our excitement.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Odds & Ends

There are just a few interesting or fun things I wanted to share, most of which really aren't worthy of a whole blog post.  I'll deliver them in the order that they were discovered.

1) I was having a key made at Ace and while I waited I was looking at the end cap right between the key making machine and the cash register.  I realize this is a hunting tool, but I still think the merchandising/branding is strange.

Also available in cow "flavor."

2) For those keeping score, I am getting almost adequately competent at pumping my own gas!

$2.96/gallon!  Well, closer to $2.97/gallon with that .9 cents, but still.

3) Information that makes this make sense: A) I don't walk around the hot tub in daylight very often. B) The snow had melted off the deck a few days before it started snowing again; yesterday morning we had a fresh 3/4" or so. C) Betty is one of those dogs who likes to greet us with something in her mouth (even if it's just to say good morning when each of us gets up).  Usually it's a toy or bone, but sometimes it's a small article of our clothing she's gotten out of the basket, a slipper, or shoe.

What is that?  Oh, frozen panties.  Of course.

4) The Alexanders left Christmas lights up around the living room window year round as a way to welcome each other home if one or the other arrived home late and they left them up for us.  E came home after dark yesterday so I had them on and while they don't put off much light they did enable us to see the Return of the Flying Squirrel! 

I used the "night vision" setting which is why it's all green and grainy.  That is not why there are dog nose smudges all the window.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

That 70s Bathroom: Phase 1

Here's what we're working with for the next few years until we do a true remodel of the upstairs hall bath:

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
We're stuck with most if it for now, but I'm doing what I can to bring it to the second decade of the 21st century.

I've removed a lot of wallpaper in my days as a decorative painter trying to make ends meet in a down economy, let me tell you.  I've tackled up to 3 layers over plaster (damaged and un-), single layers over orange peel-textured drywall, paper-paper and vinyl-paper and painted-over paper, high dollar and low-budget, full rooms, talllllll stairwells and just borders.  This was the worst, but not because it didn't come off easily and not because there were multiple layers, but because when they removed the 1976 wall paper to put up the 1989 wallpaper they didn't remove the adhesive, they just primed over it.  It worked great for their project and made mine kind of shitty*.  I beg all homeowners and contractors to think about what it will be like to undo something when they are doing something.  I'm lookin' at you with the caulk gun and the silicone and construction adhesive, mister or ms.** 

Phase 1: Deal with walls and ceiling, mirror-to-medicine cabinet, add shower curtain, and fix the upside-down light switch and outlet.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
The shower curtain that started it all.

It started when I found this sample shower curtain in my fabric stash.  It's only half as wide, because it's from Macy's or Bed, Bath & Beyond's display where they have all the shower curtains hung so you can see them.  This is a narrow shower stall, so it's perfectly sized AND it's a contemporary take on a 70s paisley so it ties in with the avocado colored shower and sink that we're stuck with.  I chose a couple of colors from it to sample for the paint and found one that worked pretty well: Pittsburgh Paint's Butterfly Bush***.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
The wall color is closer in real life to the part of the wall shown on the right side of the photo, at least on my monitor.  I was looking for something in a black frame for that empty wall and realized I had another Ikea piece: the UNG DRILL that I had a mirror cut for last year, but I see that you can get them with a mirror now.

Walls & Ceiling: I was all excited that there were smooth walls under the wallpaper, something decorative painters in the Pacific Northwest dream about, but rarely get to work on.  Alas, my hopes were dashed when I discovered the situation described above.  Sigh.  I gave up getting them smooth because I was tired of sanding and didn't want to skim coat them as that is a lot of work and I'm not so skilled at it that it wouldn't then require more sanding AND we want to do a real remodel of the one-and-a-half baths upstairs to make one super-functional and luxurious-to-us bath in 5 or so years. So, I got them smoother, but not quite smooth-ish, then primed and painted them and the ceiling.  As part of this I also removed the old and added new, clean caulk to the shower perimeter.  Before all that, I turned those electrical fixtures upside-right.  I noticed when the switch is upside down and the light is on, the switch says "NO" which should make it extra obvious that it's not right**.  Probably 85% or our outlets in this house are what we both consider upside down, you know with the ground hole on the top.  Why?  I'll tell you why, "It's the Bitterroot!"

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
Same ol' vanity, counter & light fixture, but with the new paint, medicine cabinet and part of the toothpaste collection.  Note the outlet is no longer upside down.

Mirror-to-Medicine Cabinet: It was a good quality mirror and I had assumed it was hung off-center in order to utilize studs for the mirror clips.  I was incorrect, they used anchors so why they hung it off-center is a mystery.  We brought the medicine cabinet with it's distressed black finish with us after Christmas in Portland and I was assuming I'd repaint it for this room, but since all our "art" in there is framed and matted in black it makes some sense as is.  We'll see how I feel after living with it, but for now it stays and I've done less work and spent less money.  I did replace the brushed nickel knob with an antique brass one which I'm digging with the black more than I thought I would.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom foreign_toothpaste
A portion of my foreign toothpaste collection with two newly rediscovered empty frames to fill with some of the rest of the collection (so far).  That's right, those are Ikea RIBBA frames.  It made all the difference in my ability to mount the collection when Ikea opened in Portland.

The "art" so far consists of the portion of my foreign toothpaste collection that I have mounted.  I did it in the style of an old-school natural history/science museum (anyone remember the rock room at the old OMSI up by the zoo and Forestry Center?) which I think fits in with my take on the 70s, at least.  I have LOTS more toothpaste to mount and two empty frames, so I'll hopefully get to that soon.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom foreign_toothpaste
We decided to put some of our wicker-y type stuff in here to go along with the woody 70s vibe, so I rejuvenated the wood on E's cabinet with Old English oil and plopped a trash can of mine in there (not pictured).

Shower Curtain: At first I was going to remove the shower door, fill the holes, put up a curtain and live with it that way.  Then I decided that the door helps with the functionality if we ever use that shower.  Eric has used it twice, I never have, but we'll definitely use it when I tackle the main floor bathroom where we shower now.  As long as it's hidden a bit with this goofy, cheery curtain I'm fine with it. I couldn't find a shower stall-sized tension rod at my local hardware store, so I decided to try a tension style curtain rod.  It works, but looks dumb so I have a new plan.  Stay tuned and wish me luck with that project!

Functional and free, but... .

Coming soon****; Phases 2 & 3 including some or all of the following: Light fixtures (maybe), shower curtain rod, TP holder, vanity cabinetry and hardware, possibly curtains and rod.

*I try not to cuss much here, but really it was shitty shit shitty.
** And yes, those are hate lasers shooting out of my eyes.
*** This is my second favorite paint-company-gets-it-wrong situations, because butterfly bush flowers are usually purple.  Unless there's another plant with the same name, of course.
**** I hope.

Wildlife Watch V

There we were last night, sitting in the living room each minding our own business when I looked up to see one of the bird feeders swinging wildly.  My first thought was, "Boy, it is windy out there."  Then as the bird feeder swung around to show the other side I saw what looked like a squirrel or chipmunk.  Its face seemed different and it was not the same color as the others we occasionally see around (and thankfully it's only occasionally as we still haven't gotten over our distaste of squirrels from living in squirrel-infested SE Portland where they were at times actively chewing on our house).

This is the comic book hero maneuver it used to escape into the night, narrowly avoiding Eric's villainous clutches.
[photo source:]

I notified Eric who turned to look, but by this time its face was hidden and by "hidden" I mean "buried in the birdseed."  Eventually the feeder swung around again so the invader was out of view, so Eric went out to try to get a better look.  He gingerly poked the feeder so it would swing around and we both got a fleeting look at the creature then it flew off the feeder and into the night. 

[image source:]

When Eric came back in, I said "I think it was a flying squirrel!"  Then, I looked it up on the state Field Guides site and sure enough, we live in their range and it looked like the photos I found.  We had no idea there were flying squirrels here!  Or that they were nocturnal bird feeder invaders.  Maybe we need to leave the porch lights on more often.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Going Postal

I've always liked the post office.  I like sending and receiving personal mail, I like all the little numbered PO boxes on the wall, I like looking at all the stamp designs and picking the one I want; no run-of-the-mill liberty bell from the grocery store for me, boy howdy.  Now I'm not saying that I haven't had some less than ideal customer service situations, but WAY fewer than at a grocery store, restaurant or gas station, that's for sure.  And I'm not saying I haven't waited in some maddeningly long lines, but I've paid WAY more to wait longer (in the heat) for a ride at a theme park or sitting in a line of cars just to get to or from work.   And if you've ever mailed something in a foreign country (within that same country) you know we have really good prices here, too.

This must have been taken in the spring or autumn, but the sky is often just like this in December or January from what we can tell.  Photo from

Twice this week I've had nice, friendly chats at our local PO, where I have to go several times a week as that's how we get mail; a PO box.  First, was the lady behind me in line and the second was with our Postmaster who it turns out is also from Oregon!  She asked me how we were liking it here, just out of the blue.  I told her we liked it a lot, are getting used to the weather and dry air, and are enjoying the lack of traffic and how nice people were.  Then I added that I was hoping that I, too, could become nicer.  We'll see.

The pink (seen behind the note) is Betty's choice... she's at that age where it's all pink and princesses and who am I to force my tastes on her?

Of course, I was there today to (finally) mail off mine and the Beastie Grrrlz's thank you notes for Christmas gifts.  Even though the dogs are only 2.33 and 1.25 years old, they write thank you notes. It is never too early to teach your kids the most basic manners: saying please and thank you.

HEADS UP! The postal rates for First Class Mail go up on Sunday, January 27, 2013 so get in there and get your Forever Stamps (now available in LOTS of designs) soon! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nature Break!

I have been plugging away on the upstairs hall bathroom; of course, I always run into unexpected challenges and decide to do "one" more little thing, so... yeah.  I'm still at it, but so far it's all led to spending less money instead of more so at least there's that (and no dry rot).  In the meantime, Sweeney Creek is freezing over and looking all photogenic lately so I finally stopped to take a photo when coming back up the road today.

I'm hoping to get another shot where you can see the ice over the creek better, but this is a pretty good idea of what the drive home looks like lately. The image should get bigger if you click on it.

It's been cold at our place, usually topping out at 20 degrees according to the thermometer on the tree outside the kitchen window and not getting even that high a few days.  We've only had the sparsest sprinkling of snowfall since we've been back.  I don't think snow even falls that sparsely in Oregon, so it's hard to believe it's really falling at all even when I can see it.  Or can I?

P.S. We saw turkeys mating on our way down the road!  Or maybe they were fighting.  It's hard to tell and maybe they're pretty much the same thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

faux_taxidermy pearl_antlers deer_tiara
Mavis was pure class ringing in the new year.

We had a cozy, homey New Years Eve at home which is just what we wanted.  Eric read, I painted my toenails and got Mavis all dolled up for the holiday while the Beastie Grrrlz worked over the antlers that Santa brought them.  Then we drank bubbly in the hot tub and looked out over the valley.  I saw one exploding firework and we heard others.

View from New Years Morning 2013:  (clockwise from upper left) Blue sky, sun shining through forest, grapefruit mimosa, hot tub, freshly painted toenails.

We managed to stay up until midnight (Mountain Time) and were given a late Christmas gift from the dogs: sleeping in until 9:17a!  After coffee, Eric went back to his reading and I went back to the hot tub.  After that I went back to working on our redecorating of the upstairs hall bathroom which was significantly less holiday-esque.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
The 80s wallpaper is down and ready for the trash.  Most of it came off without the steamer, but that which was stuck on well was stuck on really well.

All the wallpaper is down.  I've started in on repairing the walls which included your basic hole-filling as well as, wall anchor hole-filling, caulking some inside corners, and figuring out how to deal with the texture left by the original 1976 wallpaper.  Blech.  If I can't get it sanded off relatively easily, I'll skim coat the walls.  Also, blech.  Why is my own project harder than my clients' projects were?

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
See that texture on the wall?  I think it's wallpaper glue from the original 1976 paper (a strip of which is shown here) that has been primed over to accept the 1980s wallpaper that I just removed.  Kudos to them for taking down the old before putting up the new; I just wish they'd taken the glue off, too.

The caulk is curing tonight, so I'll try sanding in the morning.  If it works, I may have that sucker primed and ready for paint by the end of the day.  WOO!