Apparently we have a fig tree in our yard. It's pretty huge and when I went outside to check on the bees, I picked just a few of the ones I could reach.

1. I did not know figs were real. Honestly, I thought they were just an artificially made filling for disgusting cookies.

2. As it turns out, figs really kind of taste like an artificially made filling. They are kind of soft and squishy and bland.

3. I've never lived in a place where figs existed, which is probably why I thought they were fake.

4. We have a LOT of figs.

5. I have no idea what to do with them.


1. I mowed the lawn.
2. I did laundry and then hung it out to dry on the clothesline.
3. I got an electric shock trying to turn the light on in our bedroom since the switch plates have not yet been replaced.
4. I got very unhappy and am still unhappy. Plus, I still have no idea what to do with the figs.


Taking a Break

So I took a break from painting 3/4 of the rooms in the house. Now, I don't mean that I have been painting 75% of the rooms in the house. I mean that I have been painting the living room, dining room, bathroom, master bedroom and kitchen....but only to about 8' out of the 10'. Even with the ladders, I can only reach so far. So yes, I have been painting the bottom 3/4 of the walls. Some are painted a little higher up from when I stood on my tiptoes on a ladder or stood on the edge of the bathtub. Yes, we have a ladder. However, I refuse to go above the rung that says "DO NOT GO ABOVE THIS RUNG". Therefore, our walls are looking a little....unfinished. Somebody taller than me (ahem) will have to help me out.

Order of Rooms Shown in Pictures/Color They are Painted:

1) Living room - Pumpkin

2) Bathroom (Yes, that is a world map shower curtain) - Araucana Teal

3) Master bedroom - Dipped Chocolate

4) Dining Room/Craft Room/Office - Aracauna Teal

Anyway, I took a break from that to work on some of my own fun projects. Here are a few of my paintings that are in progress. I'm still not sure how I am going to finish it, but I want to do quite a few other anatomy themed pieces.

Another note on taking a break - Jane, who has made a guest appearance in the blog, texted me a few days ago and told me that she was coming to pick me up today at noon and that I should wear shorts or pants. While I have absolutely no idea what is in store, I'm getting another break from the house! Update you all on the fun later.


Currently Watching "The Hangover"


Bees Knees!

This is a short video of our bees taken from sometime later at night. Tom had just gotten his new yuppie iphone and needed to check out the video recording feature. Since his previous phone was the original iphone, we didn't have fun stuff like this to play with. Now we can include video features to our blog. Yay!

Anyway, the bees were ridiculously hot, which is why they are clumping around outside of the hive. Guess that is what happens when it's above 90 outside nearly every single day. Even at around 8-9pm, they are still on the outside of the hive, sometimes in layers 2-3 bees thick. Fun fact: if you don't provide water for bees to drink, they become ornery and are prone to swarm. Right now, the best we have is a bucket full of water in the yard with stones in it so the bees can actually have something to land on and not drown themselves.

Also, they are incredibly docile. As you may have noticed, we can get pretty darn close to them and not even worry about getting stung. We have even been opening the lid up off of the top layer, which is the feeder, and feeding them without gloves, hats or suits. Though they have been pretty mellow thus far, we have also managed to keep Optimus away from them....


Currently Listening To "Oh Baby It's a Wild World" by Cat Stevens


Sneak Peak.

This is not exactly how the dresser turns out, but here it is on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in our home. As we may have mentioned earlier, we are trying to keep a common color palette throughout the house, which is primarily water and earthy tones. Here are the original colors we chose to go with in the house.

Since then, we have ruled out gray and have added a golden yellow color. Mainly, our goal is to paint each room a different color, but to accent those rooms with pieces of furniture and art that complement them.

Colors I can remember at the moment:
- Behr's "Pumpkin" mixed at Rodda Paint in Portland which is a no-voc paint. Rodda did a color match since we had a coupon for there and we liked their no-voc paint. Keep in mind that some voc's are added when the color is mixed into the paint.
- Martha Stewart's "Aracauna Teal" from Home Depot, which is low-voc
- Martha Stewart's "Moss" from Home Depot, again, low-voc (Don't quote me on that one. I know it is Moss or Mossy Green...something along those lines)
- Dutch Boy's "Dipped Chocolate" - low-voc
- Olympic's "Mecca Gold", sold only at Lowe's and is also no-voc

Our first reveal of dresser colors....(keep in mind this is not finished being prepped OR containing the knobs yet).

After we did at least one solid coat of primer, though it ended up being two in many areas), we got one of the tiny rollers out to do the teal part of the dresser. We were already using that in the bathroom since the bathroom is the same color, so we just pulled it out of the fridge to use for this.

NOTE: If you are not finished with a painting project and don't want to continually rinse your brushes out, you can wrap them in a plastic bag and stick them in the refrigerator. This works for every kind of paint except for oil-based paint, as far as I know.

After rolling the teal over almost all of the dresser, we busted out the Mecca Gold to use for the top and inner drawers. Since I was not absolutely positive that color would match with the rest, I picked up one of those itty bitty paint samples from Lowe's to test out the color. If nothing else, I have some yellow paint to use on something later and I'm only out less than $3.

With the yellow paint, I wanted to conserve as much of the little container as possible, so I didn't pour it into a paint pan, but rather dipped an angled brush into the jar. This worked really well and there is still at least 1/3 of a container left. What is shocking about that is that is left after three coats of gold paint.

In the future, I would seriously contemplate putting another layer of oil-based primer on before the color because the primer gives the paint something to really stick to. Seriously, it is like glue. If you decide to do something like this on your own, just be aware that you will need more of the light color than you think because the white shows through still even after two coats.

....and our semi-finished product (I am so excited to explain the rest of the process AND to show you the knobs we picked for this!)


Currently Listening to "Better Man" by Pearl Jam (Acoustic Version)


to the prepping part...

First, I sanded the dresser with a great Rigid orbit sander with a sawdust bag attached to give it a little bit of grip. Originally, the intention was to sand down the ugly top layer to reveal a beautiful wood grain. So the plans changed pretty quickly.

To make it easier to work with, I took all the hardware off of the dresser. This meant unscrewing all of the knobs and fancy decor, but also pulling off the scroll work. As it turns out, that scroll work with the appearance of wood grain was actually just plastic with some brads nailing it into the drawers. I'm not sure what I am going to do with those pieces yet, but I don't think I want to reattach them to the dresser. Yep...definitely don't.

Also, you can see how I sanded the corners of the dresser.

Whenever you are working with a piece of furniture that has somewhat of a slick surface, doing a little bit of roughing up the surface is a good idea. However, the key is to put down an oil based primer before trying to paint with anything else. When we went to the first paint store, there were not options for low or No-VOC paint so we had to go with the smelly stuff filled with chemicals. In the meantime, when we go into the "big city", we'll keep an eye out for a better primer to use in the future.

Anyway, here are the in between stages of prepping a piece of furniture to get it ready for a makeover.

What do you think it's going to end up looking like??


Currently Listening to "Birds and the Bees" by Birds and the Bees

From Blah....

Got this dresser at a little place down the street in town. Finding cheap furniture around here is nearly impossible, so I shelled out the $30 for this rather large, UGLY dresser. While it was heavy, that was deceiving since the fronts of the drawers, sides and a few other places were just glorified particle board. That was depressing to discover once I turned on the sander, but I am figuring out a way to make it work. Here are all of the before pictures.

Beautiful, right?

Currently Listening to "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck


Screw It, I'm Building a Swing: Fence Stage Three

You know what they say, when you're building a fence and life gives you lemons, throw them at the cops and build a swing instead. They, in this sentence, are correct.

Guess we have to wait for a bit to finish building our Optimus playpen. It's been a rough day, I'm tired but I need to keep working on things, so naturally I decide I need to build a swing. 70 feet of 5/8" polypropylene braided rope and a left over decking board later, I'm ready. Pull out the extension ladder, extend it all the way out to it's 20' maximum, lean it safely up against the big branch I can actually reach with that ladder on the pecan tree, and scamper up.

Umm, so, this ladder is bouncing around and waving a lot under my 200+ lb frame. My engineering background says the 225 lb (with tools and gear) limit printed on the side of the ladder has a couple safety factors built in, but the aforementioned logic center of my brain is conspicuously absent now. Anyways, refocus, time to wrap the rope around and tie it off....then, disaster strikes.

I really do not know how to tie knots.

Seriously, stop laughing. Despite my mechanical disposition and proficiency with every tool on the planet, I never learned how to properly tie knots. I was the kid who was shown how, then would just make up my own special knot that was 10 times bigger and uglier and impossible to untie or use for anything. Fat lot of good that does now. Guess I get to go search the interweb for the proper way to tie a freaking knot. All I wanted to do was play on a swing today, come on.

Unfortunately, with the multitude of other projects going on in this house, as soon as I went inside I found three other things to work on. Instead of learning what every 8-yr-old cub scout already knows, I decided I need to finish slathering joint compound on the ceiling around the new junction boxes, installing another light fixture where there previously was no light, then finish wiring up a couple more fans. Plus, I was sick of getting hit in the face by that loose wire. And that tiny bird perching on it.

Still, the rope lays on the ground as a stark reminder to learn how to tie a knot, so that I can play on my swing. I'm awesome.


Currently listening to "Bad Company" by Five Finger Death Punch (my apologies to Jessie and to Bad Company)

A Post About Posts: Fence Stage Two

After a (two-)week-long hiatus from posting to catch up on sleep and life, here comes my triumphant return. Yay.

We're going back a couple weeks now to catch up. When I left off, I was having to go to work while Jessie, Roxi, and Steve stayed home...to work. By the time I got home, we had a bee hive, full of bees, half a staircase and a couple posts in the ground. We were ready to roll. I jumped in to help Steve set the posts and make sure they're level while we packed around them with a little Quikrete before covering the very top with dirt to conceal it.

Now seems as good a time as any to discuss some of the finer points of fence building. First, we had to have a line for the posts to follow (you'll probably have to click the picture to see it). The best way to do that and keep it straight, is to wrap string (or some of Jessie's craft yarn in this case, hehe) around a stake in the ground and run it to another one, then dig holes off that, every 8 feet for us because of the design we decided upon. That's what we did in the last post. Now we're setting the posts in the holes.

Steve and I managed to get all the posts set after I got home from work, as well as all the treads screwed onto the staircase stringers. The reason it even took as long as it did is because setting fence posts takes a while (duh). What I mean by that is, if we were just plopping them in the dirt the end result would be a jacked up fence, which is unacceptable. Each post has to be checked multiple times (as Jessie is doing below) to make sure it is vertically level on each side (i.e.- pointing exactly straight up). Each post also has to be sticking out of the ground to the same height so they're equally well supported and look right. Each post also has to have one face just resting against the yarn line we pulled earlier to ensure that it is straight along the length. Doing this with just two hands is not a great idea, so we combined efforts to do it right, which is why it takes a while.

After researching fence options, the cheapest pre-made fence panels we found were the standard picket panels at Home Depot at $24.97 per panel. This didn't include the 4x4 posts at each end, or hardware. Plus they're flimsy and ugly. That means it's a minimum cost of $3.50 per linear foot of fence. Well, we set out to cost-optimize our fence to get it to half that. From experience we know that Optimus has the hops of chubby third-grader without his inhaler, meaning a 30" tall fence is more than adequate. Plus, he's 75 lbs, so we know he can't squeeze anything but his head through a 6" opening. So instead of pickets, we figured running 4 2x4's between the posts with 6" gap in between them would give us the height and opening restriction required.

Then we had to make sure the 4x4 posts are set deep enough into the ground to not wobble loose when someone leans against it, or when Optimus barrels into it for no reason. There are two options for this particular fence: get long enough posts to bury them at least 2 feet into the Earth (also requiring deeper holes...ugh...) OR get a few bags of Quikrete and bury the posts 1 feet deep. Since the concrete hardens in a larger diameter blob around the post, it requires more force on the post to make the wider footprint move in the dirt, making it possible to set them shallower while retaining strength. For the 2 foot burial depth, 4x4x6's are needed, which are $6/ea. For the 1 foot depth we could cut a 4x4x8 in half and get two posts for $6 (they were on sale this month or something), plus the $1.78 per 40lb bag of Quikrete which covered about 1.5 posts....all in all we come up with a fence that costs roughly $1.81/ft, which as you all know is exactly half of $3.50/ft...

With Quikrete, you have the bag of powder and gravel that you usually mix with water for it set up and harden. Another option that works well with fence posts like this is to dry-pack it where you just fill the holes around the posts with the dry Quikrete and just let moisture seep in from the soil (or if you live where we are, you hope that it rains sometime in the next month). It really doesn't take much and the posts set themselves. Score.

Now we're rolling, ready to put up all the 2x4's and we've got a fence, right?!?

Fail. Apparently, the zoning board here is fairly observant and has sent the friendly neighborhood Sherriff over to drop off a Zoning Application to fill out. This means that since we are erecting a structure on our property we have to explain the intended use of the structure as well as provide scale engineering drawings for it to be approved, so that we can actually finish it. So now what?


Currently listening to "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That" by Robert Randolph & The Family Band


Yard Work!

We worked in the yard...a lot. Besides setting up our amazing beehive (I promise I will REALLY make a post about that soon. I'm playing catch up from 2 weeks ago). Now we have a garden and part of an orchard and rows of fruit plants and bushes. In addition to the existing crabapple tree and 3 walnut trees, we now have clementine, mandarin and nectarine trees planted. We decided to use the area we originally wanted the garden in for the fruit because it provides the most sun and we found a perfect little patch next to Optimus' future fence for a garden so I can work there while he plays in the yard.

Anyway, I'll stop babbling and get to the pictures. This first batch is the fruit portion of the yard.

Blueberry bushes on sale for $9.97 from Home Depot - what an absolutely fabulous deal for bushes that are so big. They even have fruit on them already.

This is a row of raspberries my mom and Steve brought from their garden in Michigan. They were trimming back the big raspberry bush at our house there and brought some chutes here. We'll see if they take to the soil here. They also brought some rhubarb from our garden back home. To keep pests away from the raspberries, we planted bulbs of garlic in between each of the bushes. It doesn't look like much here, but they are actually starting to turn from pretty much dead to just a little bit dead.

Fruit trees! - Nectarine, mandarin and clementine. We also just got a peach tree for 50% off at Home Depot so we'll have to fit that in there somewhere (along with the grapes and blackberry bushes).

We have a mini, teeny, tiny, little baby orchard!


Currently Listening To "Guinnevere" by Crosby, Stills & Nash


It may seem like we left you all...for a LONG time. No, we didn't go on vacation. More like a stay-cation...or a stay-work. Ok, none of that makes sense, but that may be due to the ridiculous stuff we have done since the last post. In pictures, here are a few things that have happened that one of us will (hopefully) elaborate on later.

There was and is some demo work going on in the back bedroom that we want to turn into the master bathroom. We are exposing the old brick to make it look rustic/vintage/antique. This is just what I did. You can see little tiny bits of brick.

Then Zach and Lexi (my brother and sister) came down and worked on the room. Zach went to work on that room for about 7 hours with a hammer, fubar, chisel and a flathead screwdriver though I think he only really used the hammer. His results (besides hands FULL of blisters):

Here is the inside of the old closet we are removing to make a doorway into the master bedroom.

In an earlier post, I showed a picture of really old wallpaper. As it turns out, that wallpaper wasn't actually paper bags that were painted on but real, beautiful pink greatness. After we ripped down a piece of trim in the closet, we discovered this beauty:

View from the front:

And then looking back from the opposite corner of the room:

After that demo, we got a chance to take a trip to the county landfill. We couldn't figure out anything to do with old plaster and bits of broken construction materials, so we had to go to the landfill. It made my innards die a little. I never want to go back unless it is to claim stuff other people have thrown out. There were mountains of really nice pallets and so many other perfectly good, usable items. UGH. This time, we failed at the eco-friendly route because we had no idea how to do that.

Once I finish chipping concrete off the face of the chimney, more pictures will follow.


Currently Listening to "Just Watch the Fireworks" by Jimmy Eat World (apparently I am feeling nostalgic for freshman year of college)


Music to Clean House To

Here is my playlist for the middle of the day when only Optimus and I are home. It helps eliminate the quiet in the house and the sound of Optimus snoring on the couch. Mood music for cleaning as of this week inspired by obtaining about 200 new songs for my computer. Disclaimer: This looks nothing like Tom's list.

"Slippery People" Talking Heads
"Tell Her Tonight" Franz Ferdinand
"All Day and All of the Night" Kinks
"Cherry, Cherry" Neil Diamond
"Midnight Confessions" Grass Roots
"Heavy" Collective Soul
"Florida" Modest Mouse
"Apache" The Ventures
"Point of Know Return" Kansas
"Call Me" In This Moment (Blondie cover)
"French Navy" Camera Obscura
"This Tornado Loves You" Neko Case
"Paint's Peeling" Rilo Kiley
"Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" ZZ Top
"Gold Digger" Kanye West
"Sweet Jane" Cowboy Junkies
"Pretty Young Thing" MJ
"Don't Bring Me Down" ELO
"Burning Down the House" Talking Heads
"I Hate Myself for Loving You" Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
"Bad" MJ
"Into the Groove" Madonna
"Renegade" Styx
"BYOB" System of a Down
"Once in a Lifetime" Talking Heads
"Voices" Cheap Trick
"Take Your Mama Out" Scissor Sisters
"Number One" Ludacris
"Love Rollercoaster" Ohio Players
"Bad Romance" Lady Gaga
"Cult of Personality" Living Colour
"Shooting Star" Bad Company
"Cherry Bomb" Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

If you want to check any of these songs out, you can listen to 30 second clips on itunes or amazon...or you can get ahold of me to burn a copy for you.


Currently Listening to (at this very moment) "For Your Love" by The Yardbirds