Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring is Sprunging All Up In Here

We took a walk around the yard checking out the flower beds and the garden the other day.  It was GORGEOUS outside; about 57 in the sun, no wind, Beastie Grrrlz beside themselves with joy.

Wee crocus among the fallen pine needles in the flower bed that runs along the west side of the house.

What I hope/think are daffodils peaking though what's left of last week's snow in the flower bed on the east side of the house.

There are lots of little buttercups coming up in the forest, but these are just inside the fence in our garden area.

I found moss!  Our forest isn't nearly so mossy and verdant as western Oregon forest and I've come to miss moss.  Not moss on the deck, on the roof, on the sidewalk, on the mailbox, but moss on the trees and rocks.

We're looking forward to discovering what all is going to come up out of the ground in the flower beds and in the garden as we enter the growing season.  Eric has started planning what he'll grow in the garden, too!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Dread Pirate Ramon

A week or so ago Eric and I finally both got fired up at the same time to do some work organizing the shop (well one side of it).  We got together most of our cardboard moving boxes to recycle or otherwise donate, moved all the holiday decorations (and a dog crate) into the loft on the other side of the shop, organized our other recycling, assembled a couple of shelving units and got most of the remaining boxes stuck onto them.  This liberated the floor for painting the living and dining room curtain rods (post coming soon) and helped us have a better idea of where things in which boxes were located... including the boxes of wigs and costumes!

tyrannosaurus_rex t-rex pirate dinosaur_pirate
We can now refer to "going downstairs" as "walking the plank" if we want to and feel like it makes sense.  Total and utter sense.  Please note the eye patch on Ramon's right eye.

I have collected lots of this and that for unspecified costumes from the dollar store and the Goodwill bins over the years.  I've used many of these things, but not all of them.  Until now.  Mwahahahahaaaaa!

faux_taxidermy flapper_deer
Spring is in the air and Mavis is feeling a bit like a flapper with her bobbed hair and sparkly, feathered headband!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Or You Could Just Buy It

LizzyEU over on has sent me a link to a product that is essentially the same idea as my Contact Paper fridge redo!  It's only $84.95 +shipping, too! 

For your $85.00 you do get to select self-adhesive vinyl or magnetized vinyl!

Perhaps this one is better than my humble $4 DIY version, but it is not 21 times better.  [wink]

Any maker with much experience can tell you that handmade and less expensive is not infrequently BETTER than store-bought or mass-produced.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mysterious Man of the Woods

I don't understand what the trouble with finding Bigfoot is; I see that guy E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-ESeriously.

It does seem like a fun idea for a scavenger hunt.  Also, free dinner for designated drivers.  Keep it up Lawdog's Saloon!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Making It Ours II

Not surprisingly, making this house into our home is a series of projects.  That 70s Bathroom is right on the edge of done, but a few last touches elude us.  The right TP holder at the right price, for instance, and the right window treatments.  I just have to step away from that and let the right TP holder find me.  In the meantime, we're starting to tackle the dining and living rooms (essentially 2 ends to a big rectangle).

The panorama feature distorts the room, but you get the idea. 

What we don't like about it:
The walls and ceiling are semi-gloss paint.
The walls and ceiling are pink.
The walls and ceiling have an amateur and inconsistent texture (accentuated by the semi-gloss sheen).
The outlets are upside down and the holes cut for them in the drywall are too big.
The ceiling fan in the dining room is not our style and we'd rather have a chandelier over the table.
The curtains were a few inches shy of both the ceiling and the floor and not our style.
There was a builder's boob light in the living room that we took down the first week.
There was yards and yards of lace on a tension rod in the smaller dining room window.

Top: The brassy-colored curtain rod hung at an odd height, which I will repaint, probably an oil-rubbed bronze-ish color.
Bottom left: Three of 26 holes left when I removed drywall anchors. Bottom right: some of the most severe of the wall texture.

What we do like about it:
The rustic wood floors and mouldings
The wood beam
The big windows
The size is plenty adequate
The wood stove in the kitchen keeps it comfortably warm, so we don't need to use the electric baseboard heater.

Working with Oleal & Associates for interior design, I did the walls in this client's master bathroom in a weathered-looking plaster finish.  Later when I was there working on another project, I did a Ralph Lauren metallic on the ceiling and applied a silvery pearl glaze to the crown moulding. This is very close to what I'll do on our walls, hopefully this spring.

First: We found among my sample board a decorative plaster treatment that we both like and think will look really good with our various woods and with the rustic-ish style of the place and our things.  So, I'm starting by diminishing the texture of the walls and repainting the walls and ceiling with a light khaki color in an eggshell finish.  Upon finishing the dining room and stepping back, it was pretty underwhelming.  Khaki is a real yawner, but it's a good base coat for the future plaster and a good ceiling color.

I tackled the dining room end of the rectangle first.  Here's the border where the new texture and color (left) meet the old color and texture (right).  It's a little darker &greener on my monitor than in real life

Next I'll paint and rehang the curtain rods, this time closer to the ceiling.  I am planning on modifying some Ikea curtain panels we used when staging the house in Portland by lining them and adding a trim detail, probably on the leading edge and perhaps on the bottom or top.  They're grey and don't look great with the walls as they are, but I think they'll go nicely with the finished plaster.

Both Betty (above) and Delia like to peek from the stairs before coming all the way down to the living room.  I painted this partial wall an oxblood red pretty soon after moving in; it's a color from our rug and it helps diminish the big-shiny-black-rectangle-effect of the TV.  Eventually we'd like to build book and tchotchke shelves there around the TV to further disguise it. We'll also add power to that wall so we won't have to deal with the super classy orange extension cord.

The walls in the stairwell (one of which is visible from the living room) will also be re-textured and repainted the same khaki for now.  That project is going to require some fancy ladder and plank work, so I think I'll wait a bit and do it when I'm ready to tackle some alterations to the light fixture at the same time.  One of my mottoes when I was painting for clients was "the fewer times you can move the ladder or scaffold, the better."

Ceilings and walls are de-pinked, de-shined and de-roughed. Curtain rods are down and their anchor holes patched.  Great (or was it Great-great) Grandma's mirror installed over the barrister's case cum bar, garden bench brought in (slowly dried in the mudroom) and set in under dining room window, silicone blood removed from windows.  Next up: finish and install curtains and rods, hang TV on oxblood red wall and hang more art.

And because the secret subtitle to Suddenly Surrounded by Taxidermy is "There's Probably Dog Hair In It" here's a shot of the Beastie Grrrlz helping.  You couldn't see, but I was indicating air quotes with my eyebrows while I typed "helping."

UPDATE (May 16, 2013): We're getting there, a step or two at a time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On St. Patrick's Day Every Dog is an Irish Wolfhound

All the critters and beasts in our house LOVE dressing up for holidays.

Mavis is a bonny Irish lass.

Watch out!  Ramon is ready to do some pinching.  Don't let the tiny little arms make you complacent, either.

O'Betty the leprchaun!

"Gold" buttons and brass buckles!  O'Betty is so good natured.

dog_costume dog_leprechaun
Delia is our tomboy and likes to keep the costumes low-key.


dog_costume dog_leprechaun dog_abe_lincoln

In a moment of Photoshop clarity, I discovered the only differences between a leprechaun and Abraham Lincoln are color and height.  I know, your mind is blown.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy as Pi


We celebrated by finally going to Glen's Cafe which is famous for their pie.  It says so right on the sign.

Apparently we weren't the only ones out for a piece of pie on Pi Day.  Everyone knows Bigfoot loves math.

I don't know if you felt the shift in the time space continuum when we were served our lunch beverages, but there definitely was a shift.

One thing we've noticed is that Pepsi seems more prevalent than Coke in the Bitterroot.  When we automatically ask for a Coke, we are often asked if Pepsi is ok.  Here we got our Coke, but with an ice-filled Pepsi cup.

Did anyone else celebrate?  If so, how?  If not, what is wrong with you?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Forward

I guess this is what March in the Bitterroot feels like.  The driveway is free of dangerous ice, the property is mostly bare ground and the sun is warm on us when we're out in it.

The thermometer didn't read high, but we were able to sit in the sunbeam on the upstairs balcony in basic cool-weather clothes without getting chilly.  This is what we saw when we looked up from our seat on the deck boards yesterday.

No wonder Delia will spend the whole day trying to wrangle the local squirrel population.

REMINDER: For those of you who do, don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Visitor From The Homeland

We had our first out of town visitor from Portland this weekend!  Tiffany (of Fizzy Party) drove out for a long weekend and in my frenzy to finish a few house projects, do a bit more unpacking and the usual pre-guest cleaning I forgot to figure out what the heck we were going to do for 2.5 days.  D'oh!

fizzy_party sweeney_creek
Tiny friends:Tiffany and I at the top of the "gorge" of the creek that runs behind our place.

We did some driving around, some window shopping, lots of dog appeasing, and plenty of chatting.  The "problem" with actually being there in the moment, is that sometimes photos don't get taken.  It's a trade off that is usually worth it.  BUT I can share some pics from our Saturday afternoon hike into the National Forest behind the house.  It's hard to go wrong with nature's majesty.

This was taking looking down to the creek from a spot near where we are standing in the first photo.

This is looking across to the other side of the creek. I LOVE icicles!

sweeney_creek bigfoot
Whoa!  Look who we ran into while hanging around the cliff?  Nice view up the creek of the Bitterroot Range.

iPhone panorama shot: Now another person from the Portland area can verify what I've been saying about "a dry cold"!  It was about 35-40 degrees and Tiffany (who's never warm enough in summer to wear shorts) had to take off her coat.  For reals, y'all.

All this is a 15 minute hike from our house!  GAH!  We are some lucky folks!  It's weird how it's only 15 minutes there, but something like an hour to get back and that we leave from the back of the property and come back to the front.  How does that work, Eric?

Has spring sprung already?  If we get snow, rain and sun all in one morning in a Bitterroot spring, than I guess so.

Nice to spot a bright bit of color!  Anyone know what this is?  I hope it's not one of the invasive non-native species we've seen in pamphlets from the Forest Service.

In other news: Tiffany spotted part of a spinal column (four vertebrae with 3 discs, quite large) that I snapped up for future crafting, the Beastie Grrrlz slept like furry rocks that night, and Tiffany made us a great Japanese dish of Okonomiyake for dinner!   We ate it on my grandmother's wedding china that she was nice enough to pick up at my mom's and bring with her (along with a Trader Joe's care package).  Yummers!

And then "disaster" struck.  Not 10 minutes and 2 miles from my house, she realized she was having car trouble.  She called me, I drove down, and the car eventually started acting normally, but she decided to have a mechanic in town have a look and it turned out that it was not really safe to hit the highway, mountain pass, Columbia gorge, etc. with this issue.  The shop was able to overnight her part from, get this, Portland and she was stuck here for another day and a half.  The humans are in agreement that Betty sabotaged Aunt Tiffany's car so we could have a visitor for a little while longer.

The magic of homemade fire starters.

 A true trooper, Tiffany took this setback in stride.  She ate leftovers, she tagged along on my errands, she explored the Stevensville Drug store and soda fountain (malteds anyone?) with me, and kept me company while I made 96 more fire starters to get us through wood stove season (I hope).