Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Mentos

We'll post a nice Christmas entry tomorrow, complete with nice pictures and stuff. But for now we wanted to share our new Christmas tradition. The great thing about a new family is creating new traditions. We found one that Andy, Tad and I all agree is a total keeper. We will repeat this tradition every Christmas evening for years to come. Woot go us!


Love on!

video

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Turtles and thanks with a little bit of Xmas

We've been remiss in updating this blog. There is a myriad of excuses I could offer. It's been cold. We've been busy. Not much happening outside the house. Plain truth is we've just not gotten to it. I am getting to it now so hold on to your hats, this will be a rather rambling entry as I try to get it up to date with what we've been up to. Totally typical of me to ramble and be all over the map.

Thanksgiving was nice. My parents and Josh (younger brother) came over to eat with us. I can't believe we didn't take any pictures but we didn't take any pictures. It's really sort of a shame. Andy is a professional photographer and I love photography too. Between the two of us we have five cameras. And we didn't manage to shoot one picture of our first thanksgiving together. Oh well. It was a nice meal. Andy and Josh had steak because they don't care much for turkey. I didn't manage the timing right so the boys had their steaks about 30 minutes after we had our turkey. Andy doesn't care for thanksgiving as a holiday but I love it. I've always loved thanksgiving. More than the food it's the reminder that I have so very much to be thankful for; we all have so very much to be thankful for.

Case in point! I had purchased my turkey about a week before thanksgiving. Two days before thanksgiving I went to the grocery store to buy all the fixings to go with the turkey. I spent enough money that I qualified for a free turkey. "You get a free turkey because you've spent over $100. Do you want it?" "Uuuuuh sure." This because we are so conditioned to say "yes" to something free. (Remember - there is no such thing as a free puppy!) I am not even out of the grocery store before I am thinking to myself, "Shit. What am I going to do with two turkeys?" I called my mom. She isn't biting. As I am talking to her it occurs to me. I'll craigslist that bird! I figured there had to be someone who could use a free turkey.

I got home and immediately put it on craigslist. Free turkey for someone who needs it. It was a 12lb turkey. Sadly, as I knew would be the case, I was inundated with emails from people wanting the turkey within 30 minutes. The first email was from a single mom with four children (three teenagers). We agreed to give her the turkey and Andy spoke with her to make arrangements to meet. She told him she was struggling and how hard it was to feed that many kids. I have one teenager. She had three teenagers and one younger. Four kids. There have been times I have barely squeaked by as a single mom and then only because of the help of family and friends. It is beyond hard sometimes to just make it.

I started going through our cupboards and loading up grocery bags with stuff. Lots of stuff. I even through in some steaks in case any of her children didn't like turkey. I ended up sending five bags of groceries and a turkey with Andy. When he got back he said he had never seen a child more excited over food before. I wished I had sent more. I was humbled and grateful. That woman and her family made my thanksgiving. She reminded me how heroic people can be. She is out there doing everything she can to take care of her family. I feel thankful that I had a turkey and one to spare. I feel thankful that there are people like this unknown woman out there who give me something to aspire to.

Huh. That isn't much about our house, is it? But it's about our lives so it's okay. Plus it's our blog so I get to write what I want! So where was I?

Uhhhhm. The house. We've not done much to the house the last few weeks because it really has been cold. Not the right time to plant really. We've continued to clear out brush and weeds. The rest of the front beds got the mulch treatment. I trimmed back the big tree/bush/shrub on the front corner of the house. It looks much nicer now. The Christmas tree is up and has presents under it. We have just been busy living our moments.

It will have been a year this New Year's Eve since Andy first emailed me. It seems like yesterday and yet it's hard for me to imagine him not having always been a part of our family. It's just a given that of course Andy is part of my family. It's funny how that works.

I'll leave with pictures of random stuff. Andy eating the mudpie I made him one day recently. I love making mudpies. It's too bad we tend to give that up as adults. You can see Andy's hesitation at first. He obviously got over that though as you see he ate the whole thing. (Yes, he actually took a bite of my mudpie - that's love) Stinky Cat hanging around doing what he does best. My NOEL figurines. These were my mother's originally. They are about a bazillion years old. They've been on my dresser at Christmas for over three decades now. They are pretty beat-up and ragged looking but I couldn't love them anymore. They are Christmas. I used to always have them spelling LEON when I was a younger girl. Some shots of the house. A seriously ugly puppy at the shelter. (I keep checking to see if they have our dog yet - the dog that says, "Oh hi! I was waiting for you to come bring me home) A clay turtle that I bought for a dollar at a local art school/studio. It was made by some young child and was sitting in this studio/gallery with all these beautiful sophisticated expensive pieces of pottery. He was just sitting there, so sad because he knew no one would ever want to take him home. He felt so different and ugly next to all the pieces that everyone ooohed and aaaahed over. I saw him immediately and said, "Hi! I knew you would be here waiting for me. It's time for you to come home." I bought him immediately. I would have bought the turtle table we saw at an auction. I told Andy I was going to buy it for five dollars. Because damn was it atrocious! I didn't buy it. Someone else bought it. For over $45. Unbelievable. It's okay though because now my little turtle is home where he belongs and living with George, the fabulous turtle that my friend Juli has let me borrow and hang on my wall for now. I love love love him. He wants to hug Andy's head with his mouth. Life is good here on Robin Road.

Merry Christmas!

Love on!













Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pond!



Some really cold weather moved through the area on my days off, but I bundled up and did a little work outside. I built part of the spillway, planted some lily of the valley around the rocks and spread a bag of mulch around the pond. After the plastic pond settles over the winter, I will need to level it and then we can get some fish!

I still need to finish spreading mulch and to run electricity to run the pump for the pond, but Dad's coming out in the spring. That sounds like a good project for the two of us.



After finally getting all of the unwanted plants out of the bed on the west side of the house, I added some topsoil and planted an Azalea to take the place of one that I transplanted and the others that have died. Now I need to get some mulch.


I moved the wood pile to a cool metal rack that Morgan's father gave to us, allowing me to clear out the rest of the English ivy that was growing up the fence and along the ground. The fence is badly rotted from the years of having the ivy on it, but it should be OK. And it looks so much better with all of the unwanted shrubs along here. You can see a Nandina that we planted on the left. Maybe more of those along here? Not really sure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Making progress



I finished (finally) spreading mulch around the big flower bed near the front door and planted some Ixiolirion pallasii bulbs near the back of the bed that I purchased from a school fundraiser. These are like day lilies only half the size or so and ice blue. Very pretty. They make me anxious for spring.



Morgan, Queen of Craigslist, found this cool garden pond and pump for $20. I put it in near the front door in a shady spot beneath the eaves of the house where plants will not be able to grow very well. Next, I'll build a spillway and place rocks along the edges of the pond. We still need to run electric to the outside of the house so we can power the pump for it since there are no exterior outlets, but already I like it being there. Maybe Dick or my father can help me scout this out and figure how to get electricity to the front of the house.

During my childhood, my father installed several fish ponds around the house where I grew up — his much bigger and more elaborate than this little pond — and I always liked sitting and watching the fish or, alternatively, annoying the fish while playing with my boats and Star Wars men in the water.



I finished the stone border that Morgan and Tad started and finished digging up all of the weeds and escaped Vinca. Morgan pruned the shrub at the corner of the house. The soil that I took from digging the garden pond, I spread around the neglected Azalea along the side of the house.

Next week, we'll get a bunch more mulch and spread it around.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

21 cubic feet


Apparently, a Miata can only carry 21 cubic feet of mulch at a time. This is as far as I could get after one trip to Lowe's.

I love my car, but having a pickup truck would be nice at times.



While at Lowe's, I picked up a few more shade plants for the side of the house after I noticed that they were on sale.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Punkin



Morgan and I went to a pumpkin lot at a local church to pick out a pumpkin and I carved a jack-o-lantern for Halloween. Isn't it cool?

Morgan says he's a cannibal and that reminds me of a joke.

A baby cannibal says to his mother, "Mom, I don't like the missionaries."

"Then just eat your vegetables," says his mother.



Morgan painted the first coat on the street number of the house a vibrant, neon reddish orange, which I think is fitting. We'll add flowers and stuff later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm still here

Hamburger Bun - he is quite bold and unapologetic about it. I heart him for that. He is also a little piggy and hugely curious all the time. He wouldn't get out of the way so I could take shots of the rest of the dudes.

Hamburger Bun - me scolding him to quit hogging the lime light.

Pork Chop - isn't she pretty? That's Hoho in the background. He is the runt of the tank.


Starvin' Marvin - he is a little grumpy now because he thinks this shot makes his butt look big and poor little Ho Ho, he just looks anemic.

Pork Chop - still unsure what this is all about but happy as a pig in a poke to be in a nice large tank and to have a family of her own now.



Twinky died about a week ago. Apparently Hostess products DO have a shelf life. We were a little sad at his demise but the newest addition to our family has helped fill the gaping hole Twinky left behind in our hearts. Please meet Pork Chop! Isn't she beautiful? It's really hard to get a good shot of goldfish for a hack photographer like me and I'm afraid I didn't capture her best side but still.....she is a beauty. I think Hamburger Bun (who is a major camera whore) has a crush on her. Starvin' Marvin is a little leery of her and Hoho is too little to think much one way or the other - he doesn't like girls yet.


Next up, I spent two days repainting this chest. It was green with gold hardware. I painted it to match this extremely cool table we got for Tad's bedroom. The table has a stainless steel top and black legs. Yes, another piece that weighs a blinking ton and that Andy had to repair some and then disassemble to get through the bedroom door. Don't tell him, but I do this on purpose. This chest has been in my family's home for well over 30 years. It's been resurrected in a rainbow of colors. It might not be worth a dime and look a little time-worn but you couldn't pay me to give it up. It's a piece of my home, my history. Now it's a piece of Tad's. That makes me smile in these days when it seems like there is precious little to smile about.





We had a visitor on the back deck last night. A giant disgusting possum. Lord how I hate those creatures. They are like rats on 'roids. Gross factor of a bazillion. So of course I had to snap a picture of it and then try to figure out how to kill it. Because it's disgusting. I decided, when it was off in the far corner of the deck that I would open the sliding glass door and get a better picture of it. I figured I would be about 12 or so feet from it and ready to slam the door shut should it attack as Andy kept telling me it surely would. I figured, hell...where is it going to go off in that corner? The stairs were on the opposite side of the deck. I opened the door, the ginormous bundle of disgusting grossness turned, saw me, and jumped off the deck! I quickly announced that I hope it died from the fall and slammed the door closed. I'm still plotting how to ensure its untimely death.

I have finally finished the bathroom in our bedroom. I stripped the wall paper. That was fun! Not! It had to go though. There were light houses for crying out loud. On my wall. Lighthouses on my bathroom walls. Next I painted the popcorn ceiling. Naked as proven by Andy's post and photo. I loathe painting popcorn ceilings. I've painted a ton of them in my time. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to just scrape the popcorn off but it didn't, at least not until it was too late. Then the fun part! Painting the walls in this very cool treatment that makes the walls look like they are covered in suede. I could use a little more practice but they turned out pretty nice. A drastic improvement over what was. We also picked out a new light fixture to replace the Hollywood glamour lights over the mirror. Andy installed that. All that is left is to con his father into making us a shelf for one wall and to pick out and install some towel bars.





I think that about covers it for now. Sorry my pictures aren't nearly as good as Andy's. I could blame it on my incredibly cheap camera equipment in comparison to his but I could shoot with his equipment and still not come close to getting the results that he does. We all have talents I suppose. Fortunate or otherwise, one of mine seems to be an ability to ramble. Enough of that.

Take gentle care, people that I love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The color of dirt



After spending my weekend digging in the dirt and pulling out so much English ivy, Maackii's and Japanese honeysuckle on the heels of weeks of rain, I am covered in mud. Yet, the side yard is looking very good.

I trimmed up the four Azalea under the bathroom window and removed all of the multiflora rose, Ailanthus and whatever else that had decided to grow in and amongst them.

Since I drive a Miata, (blush) Morgan is working out the details of having someone come haul the ever growing pile of limbs to the city's composting facility and bring back a load of compost for the flower beds.



The Hedera and Lonicera are nearly gone from the fence row just across the yard from the Azalea. I am beginning the process of moving Vinca from the places that it has escaped from the various beds around the house and planting it where all of the unwanted plants were.



Lastly, I planted the myriad bulbs that Morgan bought last month and cannot wait for her to see how good this bed in front of the house will look come spring. There are Crocus, Hyacinth and Narcissus to the right of the tree and Iris to the left.

Is it spring yet?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wet paint



Morgan has made some great strides in painting our bathroom. We picked up a really cool light fixture to hang over the vanity. After she removed all of the wallpaper, she is patching the Drywall and preparing to paint the walls a light, tobacco brown with a paint that finishes in a really cool suede texture. I helped with a little caulking around the shower and bathtub.

I would show her painting the ceiling and around the skylight, but she tends to paint, um... naked so...



My job was to continue to remove all of the Hedera and Lonicera from along the fence and the northwest corner of the house. It was this thick everywhere after so many years of neglect.



The fence row looks good now. It's too shady for grass along the fence, but we need to plant something. Perhaps some lily of the valley and Nandina would be nice along here.



I made a big dent in removing the Hedera and weeds from around the house, but pooped out after filling five yard waste containers with the vines and weeds that I pulled up.



I finished planting the Hydrangea and the Hosta in the bed on the east side of the house and cut in a little more horse manure. The soil was rather barren before I started, so it could still use some more organic matter. We need to pick up some more compost and then mulch around the plants. I would love to add one of my favorite plants, Polygonatum, a dwarf crested iris or two, perhaps some more Hosta and a few cool ferns, but it already looks really good to me.

It makes me so happy to see this bed. I love shade-loving plants quite a bit. Every time I round the corner, I am reminded of the plants that Mom and Dad used to have around our house. That makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tale of two kitties



Sweat Socks, as I named our neighborhood cat, has been coming by lately for a free meal. I named him that because of his neat white feet.

Then Morgan started calling him Sweaty Kitty. And then just Sweaty. And now it's spiraled into Stinky, Sweaty Sweat Socks Kitty.

Poor Sweat Socks. He doesn't seem to mind, though. We can call him Brittany for all he cares, so long as we continue to feed him.



Sweat Socks was checking the progress I am making at removing the Lonicera and Hedera that are dominating the fence row on the western edge of the back yard.

Just that section from the tree to the start of the shrubs filled a yard waste can to overflowing, but it looks so much better.



Most of my efforts on my days off were spent fixing this Echo string trimmer that Morgan bought at auction a few weeks ago. She bought it cheaply because it was not running and the seller said it needed some carburetor work.

That was an understatement. But for $12.50, it's a bargain.

I received a carburetor kit and new fuel line in the mail last week and after a bit of tinkering, I think I have it running pretty well. It still tends to lean out if the throttle is opened quickly, but I'm going to continue to work on it. A new bilge and some more work to clean out the idle circuit jets should do the trick.



Lastly, I started planting some of the plants that Morgan bought and spread a little compost in there with them as well. We need quite a bit more compost.

Perhaps some more Hosta and Solomon's seal would be nice. I like very much what's happening along here, though.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Go fish!



Morgan, the queen of Craigslist, bought a 29-gallon aquarium and all of the periphery for $25. The tank gives a new home to her fish, Hamburger Bun and Starvin' Marvin, and also gave Morgan an excuse to go and buy two new fish, Twinkie and Ho-Ho.



Hamburger Bun really likes his new digs.



Starvin' Marvin, left, is not too sure about Twinkie, but I think they will all learn to get along in their new home.



We also visited a nursery east of Goshen where we found some Peony and planted them in the new heart-shaped flower bed that I made.

The snakes seem to have moved on, thankfully, but I did find two toads hanging out.


And then I worked on weeding the Vinca bed and cutting down the unwanted eastern red cedar and hackberry trees. We are thinking a dogwood or two would look good in this bed, in the center of the photo above.

It's starting to look good and with a little compost it should perk right up by spring.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

152 Going going GONE!


The ugliest thing I bought but it is orange!




Tad's antlers. Wait until we all hear the story of how he took down this big ol' mule deer. I can't wait!


My office - it's getting there. Little bit by little bit.



Not sure how I feel about these two yet but I think I like them. A lot.


One buck. That's all I paid for both of these pieces. They are a perfect match to the love seat thingy I have on the deck. I will just slap some paint on them, get some cushions and voila! I couldn't pass them up for one buck.



Andy's gas weed eater. $12.50. He will have fun with this.



I got this sweet little rolling cart AND a charcoal grill for....one buck! We left the grill because it was horrendous. Yes, there is even some junk we won't bring home. This little gem needs some new paint and then he will be home to plants or a serving tray or whatever. One buck!



Gold mining pan! I loved it. ALso a piece of petrified wood that is fabulous! I love this picture because in it is one of the bird houses that Andy's grandpa made (everyone says they were poorly made but I think they are all wonderful and I am certain he meant for the roofs to come off - air conditioning) and the little upholstery/cloth rooster that came from my childhood. This and another like it used to be Christmas ornaments on our Christmas trees all the years I was growing up. Before that they were frame and hung in my bedroom as a very young girl. It's so nice to have little pieces of our histories and families scattered around our home.


Petrified wood. I love the idea of these pieces of petrified wood that have to be thousands of years old.


Four bucks for the decanter. It also came with these two old green glass cups/brandy snifters/somethings. They are currently in the dish washer so they didn't get their photo op.



Petrified wood. This is really a neat piece - much nicer that I photographed it.



Petrified wood. The colors on this one are just beautiful!




Same piece as above.



Probably my favorite piece of the petrified wood (i have lots now!) My toe snuck in the one shot but it gives some scale.


Geods! I bought several of these. Some of them are still uncut/unbroken. My plan is to mash a couple of them open with Tad to see what we find. I can't wait! I heart mashing things!



Tad's antlers.


Rocks. Lots of rocks. Agate, crystal, geods, petrified wood, quartz, and ummmm rocks.




Petrified wood. Another pretty one.



Yes, that's right. I went to another auction today. FUN! I called up my friend Alice, whom or who (just let it go, Grammar Nazis) I met at the last auction I attended, and conned her into coming along. I will note that she needed no conning at all. So off we went.....ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.......to the auction!

This was an estate sale of a nice gentleman who apparently ran a rock shop. Lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. Several tons of rocks, in fact. I know that Andy will be delighted to find I only brought home a few hundred pounds of rock! When I was having to schlep all of my rocks to my truck, that previous statement does not feel like an exaggeration but, fortunately for Andy, it is. I did buy a lot of rocks though! I also bought some other stuff. Alice bought lots of stuff too. I bought so much stuff some of it didn't fit into my truck and had to go home in Alice's van. It made me sad not to have my new found treasures here with me but she will bring them over tomorrow night when her and her family come over for dinner. Juli and Joe are joining us too.

The problem with that was we didn't have enough chairs for everyone to sit as there will be 8 of us. Notice I said "was". Not a problem anymore. I bought a fabulous chair for my desk - an old oak swivel rocky type chair that is almost exactly like the one my mother had all those years at her office desk. It pleases me to no end to have one just like her old chair. Same goes for the desk I bought. They are touchstones of sorts that I get to see and touch every day and they never fail to remind me of my her. Also in the seating department is the crappiest ugliest old wooden chair ever. It's in need of some gluing (Honey, I love you.) and probably a coat of paint wouldn't hurt it either. But! But but but but! I got it for ONE BUCK! So with two new chairs (new to us) we are up to six chairs! Then when I got home I remembered that we actually have one of the chairs from my dining set down in Maumelle and we have a couple of lab stools that I bought from the last auction out in the garage! Hells bells! We could have NINE people for dinner if we wanted to! Anyone want to come over tomorrow night for pizza?

We spent over five hours at the auction and it was great fun. It's always hysterical to see what people actually pay money for. It's also hysterical to see and hear Alice in action and see what she buys. She did get this extremely cool old type writer for a buck that I am jealous over. I bid on a 400lb (yes I said 400 pounds) Jade rock. I didn't figure there was a shot in hell I would get it, I didn't truly want it and would have had no idea what the heck to do with it, but I just thought it would be worth 20 or so dollars to be able to call up Andy and say, "Ummm Honey? I need to borrow Super Truck and you and three other dudes. Why? Well uuummmm uuuuuhhhhh I might have accidentally bought a 400 pound rock." Heh. It ended up selling for about 75 dollars if I recall correctly.

Oh! I wasn't the only one who got treasures! Andy got a gas weed eater for $12.50. It needs some carburetor work and I knew he would have a good time with that. My favorite buy was the 10 point mule deer antler rack that I bought for my son. I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to buy it for Tad because I knew he would be over the moon excited to have it and would hang it in his room, over his bed. I got home and called him about it. He is, as predicted, over the moon excited about it and plans to hang it over his bed. For now it is sitting on our mantle and I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I actually like it.

So yeah, we had a great time. I am afraid Andy is probably about to put me on Auction Probation. I am already on Plant Probation. It was worth it though. We had a grand time and Number 152 served us well. I may just frame that bid card. In case anyone is wondering, Andy didn't get to come because he is off shooting the Hog game. This worked well for me since it left me free to raise my hand and bid until things were....going gooiiiiiiiiiiinnnng GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!

Love on!