Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whose Poop is This Anyway?

You've all been so patient waiting for more pictures of Mystery Poop and I want to thank you for that.  And to show you how much I appreciate you, here are three (3) pictures of Mystery Poop!  You lucky dogs, you.

Taken (deposited?) in the lower pasture in late April.

Found in the front yard in early May.

Found in the front yard near the road, mid-late June.

We think they were dropped by bear.  Any one know better?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ramon Wants You! To Have A Happy Fourth of July Holiday.

I don't normally decorate much for holidays other than Halloween and Christmas/New Years, but this year I was inspired to do so for Independence Day.  Two things gave me the push; 1) we are having house guests and 2) Mavis was in need of a new look.

rocket_antlers faux_taxidermy
Luckily, I'd been saving paper towel tubes for when our wood stove fires need a little boost so I was able to put these together entirely with materials I had on hand.  WOO!

I got on a kick with the recycled tubes and purging my decorative paper stash and made a string of "firecrackers" out of toilet paper tubes for the front door.

It still needs something, but I'm not sure exactly what yet and want to get on with other projects.  Sometimes stepping away is what make me find the answer.

Ramon needed some summer gear after his wooly spring look, too.  His hat is made from the top part of an oatmeal-style tube-shaped box that originally had dishwasher detergent tabs in it, paper board, papier mache and paint from the Dollar Tree.  I had intended to make it, but didn't feel like I could get the look I wanted with the materials I had.  I was hoping the Dollar Tree would have some stars-n-stripes materials I could use, but they did not.

tyrannosaurus_rex t-rex uncle_sam
I like this beard so much that I'm already getting ideas for how to use it for other Ramon costumes.  The Dollar Tree hat I like less; I think I'll eventually make one I like better when I'm more in the mood.  I wish they'd had one the size of the leprechaun hats I got there for St. Patrick's Day.

Okay.  A third thing got me excited about making Independence Day decorations.  This hilarious fabric by the same company that makes all the other prints with which I create the pin-up "Hot Dishes!" potholders.  I got the last yard the Missoula JoAnn had and I was able to squeeze five sets of 2 out of it.  WOO!

Finally a Patriot who's handy in the kitchen!  For sale in my Olde Etsy Shoppe. Ahem.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Forest Floor Findings

Look what we saw while walking the BGs through the forest Thursday afternoon!  Little tiny strawberries.  I don't know the story of whether they belong here or how they got here, but there they are anyway.

The berries are about 3/8" - 1/2" at the biggest measurement.  Not quite ripe or we would have sampled.

Later on in the walk Delia took time out from sniffing to dig all around this rotting stump.  There must've been a small critter under there.

"What digging?  Why would you think I've been digging?" Delia Fields Fischl, 1.75 years.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Putting the E in "RecipE"

Tara here. Eric announced after a great dinner that maybe he would write up something for the blog.  So this is what dinner looked like by the time I knew I should have a photo of it.

For Father's Day Tata* and the girls got me the Cooks Illustrated Summer Grilling special magazine edition.  Last night I made the Grilled Thai-Style Chicken Breasts (pg 60), which was goddamn fantastic and will definitely be made again.  We had one giant chicken boob left over, along with a bit of the sauce and a bit of rice, which gave me the idea to make a Thai-ish chicken and rice dish (also using up some leftover broccoli and cauliflower).  It turned out to be really, really good so I figured I'd pass it along.  As is my usual M.O. with cooking, I didn't really measure stuff as I went, so adjust to taste as you see fit.

We had just enough left over to fake a photo. This one doesn't have the toasted coconut or the sauce on it, but you get the idea.

Leftover Grilled Chicken Thai-Style Rice
Serves 2 (big servings)

Main dish:
-Leftover grilled chicken (non-BBQ sauce style)
-Rice (preferably jasmine)
-Broccoli/Cauliflower florets
-Flaked coconut (sweetened)
-Coconut oil
-Red pepper flakes
-Salt & pepper

Sauce (from Cooks Illustrated Grilled Thai-Style Chicken Breasts):
-1/3 cup sugar
-1/4 cup lime juice
-1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-3 small garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp red pepper flakes

1.  Make about a cup of rice.  After cooking, set out uncovered for awhile to dry out a bit.
2.  While the rice is drying out, toast the coconut until brown in a large dry non-stick pan on medium-ish.  Maybe about 1/2 a cup?  Hell, I don't know.  After toasting, remove from pan and set aside.
3.  Steam broccoli and cauliflower (and any other veggies that might sound good) about 75% of the way.
4.  In your pan, add a couple few tablespoons of coconut oil.  Add your steamed veg and throw in the minced garlic (clove or two) and red pepper flakes (tsp or so, more if you want it spicy).  Stir and salt/pepper to taste.  Cook for a couple mins until veg has cooked the rest of the way and is fragrant, stirring occasionally.
5.  Add the rice.  Cook for a few (4-5ish) mins, stirring occasionally, until rice has absorbed the flavor.
6.  While rice is cooking, cut up the leftover chicken breast(s), including the crispy skin if there is any.  Add chicken to the rice, along with half the toasted coconut from earlier.  Stir & cook until chicken is warmed.
7.  Serve with the sauce from above spooned on, using the remaining toasted coconut as a crunchy garnish.  Goes well with beer, like most things.


* Not a typo, that's what he calls me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

That 70s Bathroom: Phase 3

I'd stopped looking for a toilet paper holder for this bathroom.  Not because I developed a fondness for the shiny, brass, free-standing model the house came with, but because I was busy with other things and needed a break.  Then, I found myself on Ebay looking for fabric and decided to look again.  POW!  A model that is just-right for the 70s decor* at a good price popped up on page two of my search results.

Seeing this makes me feel three things: 1) really good about all the progress towards making this house ours, 2) like I really want to get something on that wall over the toilet, and 3) that I the lack of window treatments is going to start bugging me.

It's a really boring toilet paper holder and it's a bit underwhelming that my hours of searching online and in stores and my many minutes of griping have yielded this particular piece of hardware which will result in mostly a lack of noticing the toilet paper holder in that bathroom.  Still, it feels good to have checked it off the list without compromising my thriftiness goals ($7 + $5.50 shipping).  And the shape and color is not unlike the towel bars, even though the texture is different.  I will probably keep the stand model for its heavily weighted base which could come in handy for a Halloween prop. It seems silly, but the room actually looks more spacious with out the old stand parked right in the middle of it.

This this is actually of pretty high quality!  Sure it's old and dated, but it's also solid cast brass.  Even the springy bit that you put the roll is real brass. Of course, I forgot to pick up brass screws when I was out and of course, I had some that worked just fine.  I'd have preferred them not to be Phillips-head for a more finished look, but I'm happy to use something I had laying around.

Another thing we haven't developed a fondness for is the vanity cabinet. The morning after I ordered the TP holder, I couldn't bear to stop there with the progress on this room, so I decided to refinish it.  Let me say that there's nothing good about this cabinet, aesthetically or functionally, other than it holds the sink (also not a winner) up and hides some of our stuff.  That top drawer there?  It's at our knees.  That's LOW.   This is not one of those good-bones-just-needs-updating-refinishing projects. But we're stuck with it for awhile, so I thought I'd at least make it look a little less worn or at least make it less eye-catching.

I am convinced that the bathroom cabinets, counters and sinks were meant for a manufactured home; a 1970s manufactured home when they didn't have regulations about quality and they were working really hard to make them as light weight as possible.

I have a few colors of an acrylic "stain" and sealer combo in my stash of decorative painting supplies (Stain & Seal by Faux Effects, if you're interested) and chose ebony to give it a quick n' clean make over.  Three coats, "hand-rubbed" and done.  While the hardware was off I gave it a good scrub and realized that it's no less ugly, but now I know crappy quality, too.  The hinges are keepers and I already had knobs for the drawers from a 10-pack I picked up, one of which I used on the medicine cabinet.  A few different stops at a few different hardware stores and home centers and POW, new pulls for the doors (2 @ $1.18 each).  Of course antique brass isn't prevalent at the home centers even though it's back in the design magazines, so my options were limited.  I'm not excited about them, but I'm pleased to have something that is not quite so gaudy as the originals and is the right finish.  Of course I'll keep the originals, again for Halloween purposes; they just shriek "Transylvania" to me.

cabinet_makeover vanity_makeover cabinet_refinish
Full-frontal vanity. My grandpa made the smiley face stool for me when I was just small.  I'd like to tighten up the joins (just nails and screws) and maybe repaint it. I kind of dig the orange and the wear on it, though.  The smile cut into the top makes it so it can't really be sat or stood on, even by little kids, so I might try to figure a way to make it functional, too.  Someday.

In this shot you can see how the new cabinet finish is slightly translucent with some of the wood tones showing through the "stain."  This ties in with the distressed finish on the black-painted medicine cabinet and makes the vanity less dark in general.

Finally, to replace the old drawer liners and stick with the use-what-we-moved-here-across-3-state-lines theme, I used some gold glitter vinyl from my fabric stash.  It is not only a hoot, but it matches the gold glitter in the counter top and sink.

Yes glitter vinyl, gold glitter vinyl.  This makes me smile and giggle when I open the drawers.  I also cut a piece for the under the sink.

What's left?  Window coverings (I have the hardware) and framing up more of the toothpaste collection.  Oh, yeah and probably some organizers for the cabinet to make it a little more useful.  I think I've given up on the light fixtures.

*If you missed the reason we decided to go retro 1970s-inspired with our decor, see this. And other tedious, yet fascinating details about this bathroom redecoration can be found here & here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wildlife Watch V!!

Thursday afternoon I was upstairs making these (Happy Flag Day!) and I heard Eric and the Beastie Grrrlz go out on the front deck.  Then I heard what sounded like lots of stomping and every sound dogs make including, but not limited to, barking, whining, woofing, hooting, and honking.  Then I heard more stomping, the door open, and Eric holler "TARA!"  "Is everything OK?"  "THERE'S A BEAR CUB!"  "Are the dogs in?"  "YES!"

Yup. "Ours" was very light colored like this one.

Of course we didn't get our own photo, but the little black bear buddy looked like a lot like this.  At least from what I saw of its fuzzy baby bear bottom and back running off into the forest.  What Eric and the BGs saw though, was the little fella just on the other side of our fence!  So, more caution when we go out the door even in the middle of the day and the BGs will be keeping their bear bells.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Our Old Friend Al

We've enjoyed a good week-long run of eating our dinners (and some lunches) with our good friend Al; Al Fresco. Maybe you know him?

Here in the Bitterroot our dinners with Al aren't accompanied by the sounds of lawn mowers, parents scolding children, poorly executed electric guitar solos, or even the occasional siren.  We just hear the songs of birds and the buzzing of the hummingbirds visiting the feeder.

Oh, and the Beastie Grrrlz' bear bells.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fight For My Right To Party Blog Guest Post

That's right!  I'm a guest blogger on the Fizzy Party blog!  I didn't actually have to fight for it, though.  You'll find lots of photos and lots of jabbering about all the party prep crafting details for those who are into that kind of thing.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Whose Poop Is This, Anyway?

Bear?  Really, really big fox?  A certain Mr. Foot?'

Came upon this months ago in the National Forest; it wasn't fresh

Seriously, any scat experts have a suggestion?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bedroom Bits: The Stragglers II

When the madness of May ended and I had caught my breath, I was able to finally put together some more of the smaller details of our bedroom redecoration project.

throw_pillows silhouette pet_silhouette
I picked up a new blanket for Betty in a great shade of purple at Ikea while we were on our super quick trip* to Portland in April!  At $4.99 I could not have made one this size for less.

 From a few sources I was able to gather some more Waverly prints in the same line as our duvet material at sale prices.  Woo!  I had tried to find those purple and grey colors in any other material and it was mostly fruitless, at least in prints.

I used photos of Delia (left) and Betty (right) to make patterns of their silhouettes. 
I was able to find these colors in woven cotton solids, also at a great discount!

Once I got the idea to do cameo-esque silhouettes of the Beastie Grrrlz I couldn't get it out of my head, so it was a matter of finding enough different fabrics that looked good together to me.  I loved the idea of a hint of trellis in the room, so that became the front/background.

I made a cord trim out of a chevron-y type print from the Waverly collection with the browns, grey, white, and purple from the duvet print to pipe the pillows' seams and used the solid purple to back them.

I was hoping to find a multicolored gimp braid that coordinated or something more dramatic than cream or grey, but had no luck in the time I was willing to dedicate to the hunt i.e one trip to one store.  To cover the seam in the gimp border, I used a covered button kit from my stash and the purple part of the trellis material.

Next up: Bottoms up!

Eric and I have discussed how we both feel more able and willing to be more playful and silly with the house decor here.  We think it's partly because this house isn't a particular style-with-a-capital-S from a particular era with any kind of pedigree and also maybe because we're somehow freed from the constraints of having a history in the area.  Anyway, so far that means resin dinosaur heads , faux bone collections, and buttocks pillows.

While I was at it, I remade this pillow that I was given by a dear friend  who got it from his aunt's place when she died many years ago.  I had removed the mustard colored backing fabric and reused the pillow form some time ago, so I was starting with just the front piece and just stuffed it with poly-fil.

I used the same handmade cording to pipe the seam and backed it with some velvet I had in my stash that just happened to be the right tones for the duvet and walls.  It took LOTS of pinning and re-pinning, but I got that velvet sewn on straight and square the first time.  YEY!

Special secret bonus shot:

Somehow dog bones and toys seem to end up accumulating in our bedroom; now we can tuck them behind these pillows if we want to before we eventually collect them all and bring them back downstairs.

 Coming soon(er or later): repaint the mirror over my chest of drawers, tackle the closet and funky half bath, and get art for the big blank walls.  Those last few might take awhile.

*We went for a couple of family birthdays, but I turned it into a F.A.R.T. (Fabric Acquisition Road Trip).