Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Voodoo I Never Knew I Could Use

** Not exactly a sponsored post, but it is all about some of my wares for sale although TOTALLY in the context of our new life in the mountains of Montana **

Years ago I made my first Varmint Voodoo "doll" for Eric for Christmas; he had The Squirrel Problem at the time.  He'd tried everything but a wrangler and voodoo.

squirrel voodoo
Of course we have squirrels here, but they are so much smaller and so many fewer and above all NOT living in or eating the house.

Then people started adding it to their Wist (like MySpace was to Facebook, Wist was to Pinterest) and I decided to open an etsy shop.  I started with some local-type varmints such as a raccoon for a friend with that problem.

raccoon voodoo

Then, I expanded to a few others and one of the first few I sold was shipped to Poland!  Then I got a request for some for a little gallery in Maine, including Varmint Voodoo: Bear Edition.  And now we and our neighbors could sometimes use the Bear Edition.  Which has got me to thinking on all the various Varmint Voodoo that could apply to me now, that I originally made for people who were elsewhere.

bear grizzly University_of_Montana voodoo
In the spirit of my Oregon Duck and OSU Beaver Editions, I've added University of Montana Grizzly to this listing and am working on making their cross-state rival, the Montana State Bobcat.

If you've been following along, you know we're working on The Mouse Problem now. After a week of no catches, I was about to put away the traps... and caught another, our third, in the mudroom.  BLECH.  Maybe I should raid Bubble Off Plumb's stock.

mouse rat voodoo
Varmint Voodoo: Mouse/Rat Edition.

Of course we had wasps/hornets in Portland, but not like we have them here.  We've bought the spray, but haven't yet gone after the 6-10 nests in various spots around the property.  They actually don't bug us that much (see what I did there?), but we should and want to get rid of them.  They have the whole forest to nest in.

wasp hornet voodoo
Varmint Voodoo: Wasp/Hornet Edition

Now deer really are something we deal with.  We didn't actively garden or even do much yard work this year, but the deer have and will graze our yard so we'll need to figure out some ways of discouraging them next year. Not to mention their cavalier attitude about looking both ways before crossing the street... and then not crossing if there are autos in the road or driveway.

deer voodoo deer_hits
We have both Mule and White-tail Deer around the property.
The night before I left to do some work in Portland, we were lying in bed and Eric asks, "Do you smell coffee?"  [sniff, sniff] "I smell burning..."  I stood up to make sure the portable air conditioner wasn't overheating and then realized it's not coffee and it's not burning, it's skunk and it's strong which means it's near.  We'd been told it was too dry up here for skunks, even though Eric saw one down at the bottom of the hill last autumn.  Eric & I thought we (and by "we" I mean "the Beastie Grrrlz") were safe from that stench.

skunk voodoo skunk_spray
Not at all like Pepe.

Speaking of the BGs, they were each due for some boosters shortly after we moved and we got to meet our (AWESOME) vets in town.  We asked if fleas were an issue here (they're not really) and about ticks (they can be).  The ticks are one thing I really dread having to deal with; I've never seen one in person, but I have seen photos and video.  So far, so good, though.

tick voodoo lyme_disease
I'd use this to protect the dogs and us; I've known a couple of people who've had Lyme Disease and I want no part of that.

I don't know if we'll have problems requiring extreme measures such as voodoo with the grasshoppers, but the crickets can be REALLY LOUD at night. At least once before going to bed, I've looked for the open door or window that was letting all the cricket racket in and there wasn't one.

grasshopper cricket locust voodoo
Also good for locust invasions.

Other critters that I don't think we'll have trouble with, but that we see frequently are ravens.  They are so big that we've mistaken their flying silhouette for some kind of raptor more than once.

crow raven voodoo nevermore
Helpful with crows, too.

Eventually, I added some "human varmints" to the collection, because let's face it we all have people in our lives at times who we must tolerate, but who we'd really rather jab with a pin.

people voodoo
Varmint Voodoo: Loud-mouth Jerk & Shrieking Harpy Editions; we all know at least one of each

And since Bubble Off Plumb has moved its production facility to Florence, Montana we've added a few new, not-necessarily-locally-useful editions:

aphid whitefly blackfly greenfly plant_lice voodoo
Varmint Voodoo: Aphid Edition (AKA Greenfly, Whitefly, Blackfly, or Plant Lice) for gardeners all over.

cicada voodoo
Varmint Voodoo: Cicada Edition for everyone who's been deafened by their song and waded thought their shells on the sidewalk.

coot voodoo
A custom order that's now in the collection; Varmint Voodoo: Coot Edition for golf course personnel and park departments maintaining water traps and features.

sharktopus voodoo
Another custom order that's now in the collection: Varmint Voodoo: Sharktopus Edition. This customer swears that since his friends have kept this on their boat there has been not one single Sharktopus attack!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Closet Case

I finally couldn't take it any longer.  We'd not truly unpacked our clothes well into June which made our pretty decently-sized master walk-in closet seem cramped and awkward.

It was just so much underutilized space. Not to mention it looked like squatters set it up.

When you walk into the master bedroom you can turn left to enter the bedroom proper or right to enter the closet/half bath-like set up.  There is no door on the closet and it is kind of spacious on one end, so it's kind of like a little dressing room.  At least that's the story I'm sticking with. We like the rustic, cottage-y rack that was up on the right-side wall, but it makes access to the shelves and that end of the double-rod set up difficult to see and get to.  Hopefully we'll reuse it somewhere later and hopefully we'll find something low-profile to hang our bathrobes on before bathrobe weather hits.

The former owners had a dresser in there in the same spot, in fact they or the original owner took out the shoe shelf on that wall seeming to accommodate one.  We liked that AND didn't really have room in the bedroom for both dressers.  Eric's is shorter so it went in the closet.  I raised the shelf and cut back the rod to make the area over the dresser less cramped and hopefully look less like it's just shoved in a closet.

The top shelves look pretty high and they are, but we're pretty tall and can reach the stuff with just a bit of stretching. I actually have a little step stool I built many years ago just for high closet shelves, but it's being used as an "entertainment center" for now. Most of the things up there are things we'd only rarely get at anyway.

Two rods are better than one in my book.  To accomplish this I raised the rod supports and shelf and bought an actual closet rod, where a handrail moulding had been.  Not all the hangers fit the handrail and none of them slid easily along it. In order to keep the top rod off the ceiling AND the bottom rod's contents from puddling on the shoes, I lowered the shoe rack and installed a second set of rod supports and a rod.  YES!

While painting, I had the epiphany that this antique clock of Eric's great-aunt would be perfect in the dressing room of our old-west whorehouse-style bedroom. I also replaced the dresser hardware with some I had in my stash, that I sanded and painted with Modern Masters' Brass to match the existing keyhole hardware.

Of course, while I had all our clothes on the guest bed and in boxes in the hallway and had the rods and shelves removed I painted over the shiny, peachy color with the same warm grey that is on the ceiling in the bedroom.  Most surfaces, including the shelves and shoe rack were painted.

As with quite a few things in this house, I think whoever built the shoe rack kind of winged it. It's tilted the opposite way and with the cleat for holding the heels on the opposite edge of what you'd expect.  However, it functions just great at its lower height, with plenty of room under it for more shoes.

That's not just the photo, the old fixture (left) was tilted for some reason; the ceiling may or may not be perfectly level, but it's not like that.

We don't have a real winner of a light fixture to replace the existing one, but the boob light we took out of the bedroom is better than this AND will give twice as much light.  I'll keep my eye out for something used that I can make cool with my magic paint skills.

For a couple of people who often look not completely unlike hobos, we sure seem to have a lot of clothes.

While I was organizing all our clothes, I went ahead and reorganized our dresser drawers.  I used that method you see all over pinterest where you do a sort of horizontal stack. So far it's really easy to maintain and makes it really easy to find everything in each drawer.  I also think I fit quite a bit more into the drawers this way.  YEY!

Next up: The strange half-bath.  Strange in that the neat vintage corner sink is essentially in the closet, but at least the toilet is in its own tiny water closet!  The sink's porcelain is shot and it takes a good while for hot water to reach that sink, so who knows how much more we'll use it even after this area is tidied up.  The W/C needs wallpaper stripped which is not a hot, summertime job, so that will wait until fall, at least.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Somebody Turned Three Years Old

August 20, 2013: Betty is THREE!  That's supposed to be a milestone for many types of dogs; a time when they mellow and mature and chill the heck out.  We'll see.  For now we're encouraging her to act like a polite young lady. Again, we'll see.

dog_cake dog_birthday_cake pupcakes
I used three (3) puppy-sized, bone-shaped biscuits for candles which she "blew out" one at a time. We cut the cake about 40-60 to share with her sister.

While we didn't throw a party or wear tutus, I did still make special birthday treats: PUPCAKES!  The recipe made two (2) dozen (12) mini cupcakes and once regular sized, which we presented her when we sang happy birthday.

We had fun plans to walk down to the creek for a wade where I imagined getting well-lit, adorable pictures of the birthday girl, but it was just way to smokey from the Lolo Fires* to spend much time at all outside.

I used this recipe that I found on via pinterest:

1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cooking oil (I substituted unsweetened apple sauce)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey (optional and I left it out)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350F (I did 325 since I was doing cupcakes instead of a cake). Grease 6-cup ring mold (or grease or put papers in your cupcake tin)

2. Combine egg, peanut butter, oil/apple sauce, vanilla, and honey (if using) in a large bowl, blend well.

3. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly.

4. In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking soda together then fold into the carrot mixture. (I did all of this in the KitchenAid mixer)

5. Spoon into cake mold or cupcake tins.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 40 mins (I did about 20 for the mini cupcakes and 25 for the regular-sized one).  The directions didn't suggest it, but I used the old toothpick test to see if they were done.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then move to rack until completely cool.

I read a few different dog cake frosting recipes online and then just made one up.  It's about a cup of low-fat cottage cheese and a somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter; I had some extra that I mixed into their meals for a few days.  First, I smashed the curds with a wooden spoon against the sides of a bowl, then I stirred in the peanut butter.  It worked pretty well in the pastry bag, but it wasn't as smooth as regular people cake frosting. I was pleased with how it held its shape.

Finally, I topped then with puppy-sized, bone-shaped dog treats from the store. Put them in an airtight storage container and then into the fridge.

NOTE: This is more like dough than batter and I wish I'd pressed it into the cupcake papers a bit to make it both more cupcake shaped and perhaps to get the papers to stick to it just a little. Most of them ended up sitting in the papers more like I'd added them afterwards.

dog_birthday dog_cake pupcakes
This is the plate I took to the neighbor dogs.  These are those on which papers were the tidiest. 

All the ingredients are human grade and maybe if I'd used the honey they'd have been passable human food, but I think the best way to describe the taste is "good for you."  By which I mean bland and with a slightly grainy texture.  The Beastie Grrrlz love them, though!  And I took some to one of our neighbors and her dogs seemed to love them, too.  In fact, their HUMONGOUS Great Dane/Mastiff/Scared-y Cat Mix got closer to me than ever before and even gave me a lick (well after I gave her a treat).

Now I have to figure out what to make for Delia's 2nd birthday in just a couple of weeks!

View from the front deck this mornng: no sky, no valley, slight smokey smell in the air. House is closed up with all of us in it to minimize the throat, lung, sinus and eye irritations.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bedroom Bits: The Stragglers III

I finally had an idea I felt was worth pursuing for repainting this mirror frame.  You remember it from the BIG bedroom redecoration post, right?  This photo will refresh your memory.

The mirror in the paint from a couple of bedrooms ago.

I just couldn't get excited about doing a copper finish.  Not because I don't love copper, but it just seemed like it would be so match-y as to be too unsophisticated, even for our old west whorehouse-style boudoir.


So I decided to try... wait for it... faux bois.  I went in accepting that I may not like it and may have to start all over, but I did like it.  I like how it ties in with the dresser's wood tones and stopped earlier in the process than I had originally planned.

A bit of detail.

I did two other mirror frames at the same time, each a little different, that you'll see later.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mouse Week!

Midway through Shark Week on Animal Planet (and Facebook), Mouse Week started here in Florence, Montana.

I may have to buy a Varmint Voodoo: Mouse Edition from my own Esty shop!

WEDNESDAY: I found mouse turds in the mudroom and in the laundry room so I set one trap in each room in the afternoon, hoping to catch some over night.  MOUSE-1; ERIC & TARA-0

THURSDAY: In the morning when I woke up enough to remember to check on the traps there were no mice.  Thursday afternoon when I looked more closely at the trap in the laundry room, I noticed that had been licked clean of its peanut butter, but had not sprung.  Then I shook my fist at the sky - well, the ceiling of the laundry room - and reset the trap, being extra smeary with the peanut butter and hoped that Thursday night would be the night.  MOUSE-2; ERIC & TARA-0

FRIDAY: I remembered much sooner to check on my traps on Friday morning. The mudroom trap was still pristine, but the laundry room trap was... gone.  Ugh.  Our laundry room is tiny and a bit cramped with our fantastic, but large, "new" washer and dryer, a cold-air drying rack, water heater, and clothes hamper all sharing the limited square footage, so I was not looking forward to pulling these things out and poking around in a tight space for a live, dead, or half-dead mouse stuck in a trap. Plus, I felt like a jerk that it didn't die instantly and may have suffered or still be suffering.  That it may have crawled off somewhere I couldn't reach to die and rot and stink was distressing me, too.

Luckily, I didn't have to look long or move anything awkward or heavy.  The trap, empty of its peanut butter and its mouse, was on the other side of the water heater, just a few feet away from where I'd placed it the night before. Reset or re-evaluate and try another method?

I did not have another reason to go out on Friday, so I didn't get another method of trapping this mouse/these mice.  I reset the trap, I mean if something is not working, just keep doing it and eventually it will work, right?  MOUSE-3; ERIC & TARA-0

SATURDAY: No peanut butter and no trap to be found anywhere in the laundry room after a fairly thorough inspection. So I came out of the laundry room looking low and in corners and found a mouse!

It's situations such as these that it would be nice to have some mouser pets; mouser pets who would have taken care of this before we even noticed.  Sigh.

It was under the cabinets, wedged halfway into the tiny space between the toe kick and the dishwasher... alive!  Now a live mouse in my house in daylight is a totally different thing and a nighttime mystery mouse or a dead mouse.  This makes me want to jump on a chair and squeal like an old cartoon housewife.  So Eric tried to pry her out which only wedged her in further.  Sigh.  Did I mention this is all before coffee was consumed? Luckily the coffee had been made, so we settled down to drink it and left the back door open should she decide to make her escape.  Eventually (about halfway through coffee drinking), Eric went back to try again, wiggled the dishwasher and she slunk back in there all the way.  Here's hoping that was how she got in originally and she was just too fat from eating peanut butter to get back out easily until the dishwasher wiggled.

So either that mouse ran over there with the trap on it and managed to get the trap just right through that trap-sized crack, or there is an empty trap somewhere or, much worse, a full trap somewhere in the walls or under the house.  Sigh.  (Eric has since told me that he heard the creature scurry after it finally squeezed through the crack and it did not sound like it was attached to a sprung trap.)

I found this mouse trap on a shelf under the house, but it was not our brand and obviously it had been there awhile.

SUNDAY:  We took a night off from the mouse hunt simply because we didn't have another reason to drive down into town (even if town is only a few miles and several minutes away). Obviously we couldn't let this keep going, so I went to the local Ace around noon and bought some modern "touch-free" mousetraps that look like they'd be able to grab and hang on to a larger mouse as well as not fit under the appliances or through small holes around plumbing .

My hope with this style is that its larger "clamp" size will actually kill the mouse or mice and if not that at least prevent it from getting away or dragging the trap off somewhere.  I admit to being squeamish about live, wild mice, so couldn't quite bring myself to get live traps or the horrifying glue traps.

Here's why I wasn't considering live traps (until now): These mice have a 4.66 acre range.  Which means that I would a) have to drive a live mouse 4.66 acres from my house and in order to not be a jerk I'd have to b) drive that live mouse 4.66 from anyone else's house. AND if I'm having a heart and all that be sure that c) there is food and shelter for this live mouse. Not to be overly species-ist (but I'm about to be anyway), but that's a lot of effort and driving around with a live mouse to find a nice home for a thieving squatter that poops (and pees) who knows where all in my house. Four and two-thirds acres isn't that far, but driving to a place that is not near a home and would give it shelter would be a hassle.  Did I mention all that driving would be with a LIVE MOUSE in the car with me?

Here's why I am considering a live trap if these don't work: I don't want to maim the mice, because it's cruel and because having maimed mice somewhere in the walls of my house doesn't solve my problem, it only changes it.  I just want this over with.  Oh!  And Eric has volunteered to take the caught creatures to the creek which is easily 4.66 acres from any houses as well as full of food and shelter.  MOUSE-5 (or possibly 6); ERIC & TARA-0 (or possibly -2)

MONDAY: Before I even got out of bed in the morning I realized that I forgot to set a new trap in the laundry room Sunday night.  "Oh well, what's one more day," I thought.  So, I got Betty leashed up for morning walkies and as we head out the back door I saw that finally the trap in the mudroom had sprung and caught a mouse!  This one looked smaller than the one that got away through the crack between the cabinet toe kick and the dishwasher on Saturday, so there are definitely more traps to be set.  We're definitely postponing the live trap idea. MOUSE-5 (or possibly 6); ERIC & TARA-1 (or possibly -1)

TUESDAY: There were no tripped traps, but I couldn't tell if the peanut butter has been compromised. I reapplied the bait and reset the traps. Because I'm not sure if there are any mice left on the opposing time, I will say this for the score: NO CHANGE

WEDNESDAY: We caught another one!  This time it was in the laundry room.  I'm just going to keep setting traps until we go a week or so without a catch or trip.  MOUSE-5 (or possibly 6); ERIC & TARA-2 (or possibly 0)


Speaking of Shark Week, also available in the Bubble Off Plumb Productions Etsy shop is the Varmint Voodoo: Shark Edition. Ahem.