Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Playing with Wood: Desk Number One

So...this desk is the ongoing project that might...possibly...hopefully be close to finished and ready to sell in the very near future. 

The backstory: My sweetie's office closed several years ago (a geologist's life is a series of changes) and we grabbed some of the furniture, including four desks. Yep, I said four desks. All of which have been occupying one-third of our three-car garage since.

Why would we do such a crazy thing, you ask? Well, we'd rescued a desk previously and our younger son transformed it from a clunky blackish-stained monstrosity to a gorgeous natural wood desk with sleek pulls that he's used as his computer desk since. So there were two more of these diamonds in the rough available, but somehow as we started stripping and sanding, we forgot how much time and effort was needed for metamorphosis.  So our garage has been home to one almost-completely-sanded and one unstarted oak office desk for eons.

Oddly enough, this is the one that we didn't begin on that's almost ready to sell.  I went two-tone which meant that I only had to sand the top--love the contrast between the rich wood and dark finish.  I kept the original drawer pulls but I spray painted them in brushed nickel. 

Now I "just" have to reassemble the innards so that locking mechanism works again. And then work on Desk Number Two.  Will it never end...sigh.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Playing with Wood: The Bath Tray

Summer, I love you, let me count the ways. I love your warm days and long sunshine-y hours and morning walks and fresh veggies and beautiful flowers and endless amounts of time in which I can do whatever I want without a school bell interrupting my life.

Sadly, our school district has a new "balanced" calendar which stole three! whole! weeks! from my summer.  So I'm making hay while the sun shines.  Yep, lemonade from lemons.  Looking for that oft-touted silver lining aka no procrastination with a deadline in the near future..

Who am I trying to fool?  It's not a's more like Godzilla looming menacingly over my summer.  I'm in full-out panic mode knowing that there are a hundred million projects and less time than usual.

I started the summer with three desks in various stages of incompleteness, one girl's vanity-to-be, a coffee tabletop to refinish, thoughts about trimming out a window or two, an ugly entrance to the chicken run, and miscellaneous Pinterest ideas to attack..

I'm almost done with two desks (hurray, hurray!) because I've decided that paint is faster than stripping wood.  I love the way my two-tone desks look.  And I'm really praying that someone on craigslist is willing to pay good money for these suckers because they're taking up some valuable real estate in our garage.  I just need to screw the pulls back on the reassemble the locking mechanism and they'll be ready to list.  Desks gone, cash in my pocket.

So naturally I decided to make myself a wooden tray for the bath instead.  Because, gee, it's been in the triple digits and I just can't wait to take a hot bath instead of a cooling shower!

Truth is...I have a new toy called a Kreg Jr. jig and like any kid I had to play with it NOW.

A pile of leftover oak flooring, some cherry trim that's been hanging around forevah and days too hot to spend in an house without air conditioning.  Add a cool dark garage, sandpaper and sander, plus my wonderful laser miter saw, some tung oil and mix well with my Kreg Jr.

The result:  totally and completely worth the time and effort.

 I love the contrast of the woods and know it'll be awesome for long soaks next winter.

It's not perfect but it's not bad for a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants design.

Next up:  addressing the ugliness of the chicken coop fence and gate.

Where I party: My Romantic Home (of course) and a certain French Country Cottage
plus Miss Mustard Seed

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Ruffians--When Cute Chicks Go Punk

My sweet little day-old peeps are growing up fast.   We went from fluffy oreos...

 to these scruffy rapidly-growing pullets in three short weeks.  Sigh. 

At three weeks old, they are half fluff, half feather--they've definitely got a punk vibe going. Happily, a sweet chorus of peeps still serenades us from their powder room homestead.

They're skittish babies one moment and fearless ruffians the next--as schizoid as spring weather.

Their chick brooder aka former rabbit cage seems to be rapidly shrinking in size so I'm looking forward to fully-feathered damsels that can graduate to outdoor living in another three to five weeks. It's time to plan what changes will be needed for this new flock

I need to lower the coop for easy access (for the pullets not for me!) and plan to update the run. I'm especially looking forward to constructing a cottage-style white picket fence and gate this time around. The current rickety structure was thrown together quickly before we went on a trip and isn't exactly something you'd Pin or see featured on Backyard Chickens.

I was thinking a spiffy white, but don't you love this blue gate that Manuela has in her garden? I could picture an aqua one--very tempting.

 Especially since it would nicely match the inside of the coop. 

And we all know girls appreciate those thoughtful decorating touches.  Happy chicks are my aim.  That...and fresh eggs in four months.

And since it's supposed to be eighty-seven degrees tomorrow, guess who's gonna get their first outing into the Great Outdoors?!  Photos to come...

Sharing at My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Friday, of course!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Le Potager in Mid-May

Our early spring has benefited the vegetable garden.  Le potager is almost a whole month ahead of where we usually are plantwise.

I planted our seed potatoes on St. Paddy's Day, a tradition that makes it easy to remember when I planted.  This year we'll be trying Cal White and Kennebec taters. I wanted to plant last year's winner--the Peter Wilcox--and although I couldn't find them as seed potatoes I had a few marble-sized Wilcoxians left from last year's harvest that I planted.

Pretty much all our veggies go in raised beds in our climate because of our year-round cold nights, but the potatoes go the raised route for ease of harvest.  I'm trying a straw mulch system this year...once the seed potatoes sprouted and reached the top of the bottom boards, I piled on compost and raised the bed with a second set of boards.  Within a week they were well above the six inch boards so I added yet another set of boards and more compost/cherry blossom drop/straw.  As you can see, they've flourished and I think I'll add one more layer and then leave them alone.  Theoretically we should be able to (easily) harvest a (bumper) crop of potatoes from the organic layers I added on top of the soil.  I wasn't diligent last year about adding layers but I did notice that I did get a decent crop from what I did layer and I didn't have to dig much to harvest them.

We usually have good luck with our Sugar Snap peas but this year they were dug up within a few days by the Golden Retriever who seems to enjoy digging more than I'd like. At least I could tell they were germinating. I just tucked them back in, watered them and crossed my fingers. Because I do love those pods in our salads well into summer! Most of them made it and I had enough extra seed to replant the little corner that didn't.  With three (completely accidental) planting dates, we'll have an extended season for peas this year.

It's not like the peas need the added protection from the row cover since they like our cool springtimes, but I had the time to sew a custom cover to fit the PVC frame so I did.  Protection from the marauding Golden was a bonus.

I wanted to get some sweet onions again since our crop last year was my most successful try at onions yet. I settled for Stuttgartner which sound delicious. At least they look happy in their new home. Although it looks a bit like a jail with the hardware cloth protecting it from chickens and Golden retrievers.

I planted a package of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce back in late March. It's not fancy, but I didn't get the germination from my Farmers Market blend that I wanted due to a dry winter, so I went with what I could easily get and knew would do well. Sometimes it's better to just go for the sure thing. However the fates seemed to be against any lettuce harvest since Miss Golden Retriever (who else) dug a very deep hole in the lettuce plot as well. Lettuce needs light to germinate and who know how many seeds were left anywhere near the surface. Watering and hoping didn't do any good.

As it turns out, the dog paws left just enough plants that we've actually already harvest three good salads with no end in sight.  There's nothing quite as tenderly delicious as home-grown lettuce!

Without a full bed of lettuce I had room for an experiment.  I'm gambling (I live in Nevada, after all) and planted a first crop of Blue Lake Bush beans in the blank spaces.  It's waaay too early but I have the row cover and if the weather stays as warm as it has, we'll be harvesting quicker than usual.  I'll be planting French filet green beans and some pole beans too as the season rolls along.

This year I wanted to grow Sunsugar or Sungold tomatoes, or Santas, all of which get good reviews for flavor.  But do you think I could find the seeds anywhere in this town? I'm not into mail order...but maybe next year. Anyway, the Romas (beloved of my son) are in as well as a giant Red Cherry tomato and we're seeing true leaves so they're ready to transplant.

I did find a packet of Black Cherry tomatoes (at the feed store--go figure) which are described as having intense flavor so I'm hoping they germinate as nicely and live up to their advance advertising!

I can hardly wait to start some zucchini and more beans. And see if the pumpkin seeds I saved from the minis last fall will germinate and give me a fall decorating bonus.

Tuesday Garden Party time!
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's Baby Chicks Day

You can have your Tiffany Blue boxes and the sparkling treasures within.

You can keep your scrumptious dinners with an excellent wine in a restaurant where someone else cooks and cleans up.

You can keep your tropical vacations to Hawaii when springtime is still way too cold at home.

I'd like all those things too.  But... these little peeps are what bring me real, true, deep-down happiness and joy. 

So here are the obligatory baby pictures from a doting chicken mama. (I currently have 430 chicken photos on my hard drive.  In my defense, that's only 33 photos per chick.  It could be worse.)


Seriously, what's cuter than a day-old peep running amock on your coffee table right before Easter?


Or an Oreo sandwich?  And check out that cute lil white chicken butt on the left.  So sweet!

I say do whatever brings you true happiness, no matter how crazy it might seem to anybody else. And if your dream also provides fresh eggs, consumes scrap veggies and provides excellent compost--all the better.

Where I Party On:

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I Got The Art Bug and Finally Started Painting

I'm very proud of myself. Apparently Spring Break is exactly what I needed to get enthused enough to finally grab a paint brush and begin those paintings that have been fermenting in my brain.

I had time and inspiration enough to paint a landscape on the weekend. Then the knowledge that there was no school bell ruling my life yesterday enabled me to work on these two small seascapes.

I bought an expensive frame for the larger canvas ages ago, hoping it would motivate me into turning a blank white into a lovely decorating piece.  Here's a peek at how it looks when I put it together.  Don't you just loooove it?!

Me neither!  April Fool's! 

I couldn't resist since I had the raw materials:  I found the frame and canvases in a "free" pile when a neighbor moved out two weeks ago.  I never turn my nose up at canvases no matter how bad they are.  Even if the "trees" are strokes of paint over a "leaf" background and the mountain is nearly invisible.  Or the seascapes completely ignore the rule of thirds.  Or the artist mistakenly thinks the Pacific is dark blue.  Because all I see is a free canvas!

I once picked up a completely black canvas and carried it home (it's pink homage of roses and rose quotes now). 

The frame is truly hideous.  The light wood is nice but the rough carved dark part is challenging my creative instincts.  Any suggestions?  Maybe a driftwood treatment and add a chalkboard?  Or a bright turquoise paint job for a modern fun look?  Or even a nice bonfire to warm my hands from my morning walk?

Now go forth and punk someone you love.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Guideposts - Week101

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.

 ~William Morris

Happiness is...spring break and a chance to combine spring cleaning, spring sewing and spring gardening!