Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I just don't get it. You'd think kids would WANT to come out to the middle of nowhere to knock on the door of a spooky old house. But alas, not hide nor hair of a tricker treater to be found. The only thing knocking on our door are those dang orange beetles. I guess I'll have to eat all those Reese's myself.

Mwah, ha, ha, ha

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Stand Corrected

Okay, so he wasn't just out there shuffling things around. It was much more complicated than that. He completely reorganized the layout of the workshop. And he also started on the insulating. I didn't realize all that because I was busy cleaning, doing laundry and hanging curtains.

Aren't they purdy? I just love ball fringe curtains. Yes, I know they're not the latest fashion craze. My mom had them in her dining room when I was a wee little girl. I can remember them like it was yesterday. His mom had them too. They're uh, classic. And really, what's not to love? Frankly, the fringe amuses me. Their flickability is irresistible. And since it's my room, I'll put whatever I darn well please in there. I'll have you know both of the men in the family couldn't even resist reaching out and touching the soft, fuzzy trim when first seeing them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zip, Zilch, Nada

I have no home improvement projects to report. It's football season you know.

My husband did spend some time out in the garage shuffling things around again so I can't find anything. He claimed he needed to do it so he could park the car in there now that the frost is flying. But he does this at least every three months. The only explanation I've ever come up with is that he wants me to keep him around so I can ask him where stuff is. Or maybe he has OCD. Come to think of it, OCD would explain a few other things...

We have spent some time recharging our batteries though. Both figuratively and literally, the camera was due for a good charge. Friday I took off for part of the day, leaving M in charge of the homeschooling to attend a quilt show. I enjoyed myself and they built swords. A even learned the proper use of some power tools. Sunday resulted in more sword building. An improved design I suppose. I don't know, I had locked myself in my sewing room for the weekend and wasn't paying much attention.

Now our little mini vacation is over and I'm paying the price. My to do list for the week is ridiculous.

Update: I'm still not smoking, but I just ate an entire bag of Cheetos. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gawd, I Love It Here!

I have friends who live in the 'burbs that think we're insane for living all the way out here. But what they just don't get is that, in fact, we're truly blessed. Sure it takes a while to get to town but the drive to and from, especially this time of year, is drop dead gorgeous. So even on a dreary, overcast day like today when you're just out running errands you can't help but bask in Mother Nature's beauty.

So as soon as I got the groceries put away I couldn't resist a walk about the yard.

If you look closely at the above photo (you can click it to enlarge) you'll see the entrance to a small wandering path that follows the ravine around the back of our property. It's a little slice of heaven back there. If I could make this shot scratch-n-sniff I would. The sweet smell in the air here is intoxicating and you really need to experience it to appreciate it.

And even as I sit here at my desk typing this, I have 270 degree views like this...

yep, the drive is worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Building a Sewing Table - Part II

So once M finished building the drawers, we moved the pieces inside where I started the finishing process. I thought maybe I would do another milk paint technique, but after the first coat of stain, changed my mind and decided to try something new. I actually liked the mottled look and thought I could make it work to my advantage.

Overall the finishing steps are as follows:
1. One coat of stain, allowed to soak almost completely in before wiping. Allow to dry 24 hours.
2. Distress with a hammer those areas that would receive normal wear and tear.
3. One coat of Mocha latex glaze applied thinly with a brush, leaving extra in the grooves. Allow to dry at least 48 hours to a week.
4. Sand lightly with 180 or 220 grit sandpaper.
5. One coat of Amber Shellac.
6. Sand lightly again.
7. One coat of Asphalt antiquing gel applied with a damp cloth in a circular motion.
8. One more coat of Amber Shellac.

So I started finishing the drawers while he continued to build the top.

Then the next step was to put it all together. First, add the faux drawer in the center between the base cabinets. This will support the top and hide the machine. Another support piece is added to the back. Then the top is secured on with screws, which will allow the piece to come apart again if we ever need to move it out of the room. The table top is 32 x 60" with a drop leaf extension that is 18 x 60". It's big. And we have some pretty narrow doors in this old house.

After that, he crawled under and added some slide out things (the technical name eludes me) to support the drop leaf and the shelf to hold up the sewing machine. Then it was time to test everything out to make sure it all fit and functioned. We only needed one minor adjustment, not bad for a couple of amateurs.

So I spent this weekend putting the final coats of finish on it. And I'm thrilled with it. It seemed like the finishing process was going to take forever, but it was worth it. I like the fact that it blends in well with the antiques in the room.

And I love the drop leaf in the back as well as the breadboards. That will really come in handy when doing machine quilting. It's on wheels, so I can just roll it out from the wall to get access to the drop leaf.

Since taking this picture I've already filled up all the drawers. It will be nice to have all my notions so handy.

But what I love the most, is that it fits me! I tried using commercial tables and they were all way too tall. I'm short, only 5' 1", so having a sewing table just my size is awesome! I love it, even though everyone made fun of it and wanted to know if we were building a child's desk.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Busy Day

Today we relocated the three tables. Assembled the sewing table. Applied a coat of glaze to it. Baked a batch of Grandma's Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, a banana bread, 2 loaves of Italian bread and cooked a wonderful pasta dinner. Now I'm going to go work on a quilt.

Do I need to mention I'm still not smoking?

What's Your Thing?

That thing that you enjoy doing. That thing that once you are engrossed in it, time passes without you realizing it. That thing you'd rather be doing when you are at work.

Everyone has a thing, some just take a long time figuring out what their thing is. This summer, I think my son has finally discovered his thing.

This week we visited Billie Creek Village, a turn-of-the-century living museum. While I was most interested in the old fashioned quilt show, and M was interested in the tools and farmstead, A was entranced once again by the blacksmith. And in fact, has decided to become a blacksmith's apprentice. Each second Saturday of the month, we'll be making a trek to meet with the Indiana Blacksmiths Guild where the kind blacksmith at the village has agreed to teach A everything he needs to know.

We realized later, after our tour was over, that we're really, really close to being able to open our own living museum. In our family we already have a farmer, a potter, a woodworker, a quilter and now we'll have a blacksmith. We just need him to hook up with a girl who makes candles and we'll be good to go.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tidbits of Time

Little things. That's what it's all about some times. I've been filling my days lately with little things.

Saturday I started staining the sewing table with our secret stain recipe. Then finished basting a small quilt top.

Yesterday I baked brownies and a batch of cookies. Then I worked on some hand quilting.

Today I added a chocolate glaze to the sewing table. Figured it would work well with the caramel walls. I also put a coat of amber shellac on all the drawers.

I've since been searching the internet to find out if excess saliva is a side effect of Chantix. It's not. So I have no clue what my problem is other than I've been in a room painted caramel applying a chocolate glaze.

It's been 8 days since I quit smoking. I'm happy to report all family members are still alive and well. In fact, I've moved past the severe cravings to just occasional urges with nary a temper tantrum. I think I might actually pull this off.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Decisions and Confessions

Decisions have been made. Mistakes have been admitted. The wall stays but the ceiling paint has to go.

It's taken me over six months to finally admit my mistake. The color I chose for the kitchen ceiling is wrong. Really, really wrong. For some reason I thought an off white would be nice and not so glaring as white. And it probably would have been, but what I ended up with is definitely more beige than off white. And now that I've been admiring the new location of the fridge, I can't deny that white would look much, much better. Not to mention reflect more light. Normally a mistake like this wouldn't be a big deal. I'd just go buy the paint and fix it myself. Unfortunately, I can't reach the darn ceiling. You're thinking to yourself "Duh, girl, get a ladder." Well, I tried that. And no, I still can't reach it. I'm a dwarf okay, gimme a break. So I have no choice but to bat my eyes like a frog in a hail storm and beg my wonderful husband to do it for me. Again.

Also, while I was admiring the new fridge location and pondering the new upper cabinets, etc. it occurred to me that I could now have a bigger table in the room. And it just so happens I have such a table upstairs. But then that would leave me with no sewing room table. What to do? Shop Mom's basement! It just so happens she's been trying to pawn another table off on me for months. I could use it in my sewing room. (so I'll take the table Mom) I know he'll be more than thrilled to take the table apart, move it, and reassemble it AGAIN. He just loves to do that.

So after living with the new kitchen arrangement for a day, then testing entertaining in the dining room with M's sister and family, I've decided that the wall and the swinging door are going to stay. But I really think we need to add another window to the left of the other simply to add more light to the room. Since it's in the center of the house it's pretty dark, especially with the swinging door closed. Fortunately we have some extra trim laying around and so should be able to make it look like it's always been there. And wouldn't that drop leaf table in the kitchen look good under those windows with an extra dining chair on either side?

I may to have to put my eyelids on a workout routine to manage all this begging. And maybe bake another cake.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Operation Elephant Relocation

First thing, wait until the wife has finished cleaning and mopping the entire house, before undertaking the operation. You might safely distract her with her own furniture finishing project or something like that. Once you are satisfied she's safely out of screaming distance, start ripping a hole in the wall.

Don't worry about the mess, she'll be so happy to get the elephant out of the middle of the room, she won't care. But don't forget to lock the dogs outside so they won't go skipping through the house. That she might not be so happy about.

Then, reinstall the door you removed from the other wall. Once properly adjusted, it should be safe to let the poor dogs back in.

Next, crawl around in the spiderweb infested crawlspace and install the new water line for the ice maker. Then just slide the elephant in place. Hook up the water line and test it. Run back and forth to the crawlspace, where the shutoff valve is, at least 3 or 4 times during the process.

(And for all of you naysayers out there who stopped by and said there was no way the fridge was going to fit in that hole, please note all that daylight shining through the top. Room to spare even!)

Nice and flush with the cabinets too.

No more elephant sticking out in the middle of the room.

Good grief, look there, it's a path to the door!

Then smile sheepishly as she hands you the broom.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Indications of Autumn

It seems we are a truck stop on the south bound super highway. Every day for the past few weeks we've been invaded by thousands and thousands of birds. Very reminiscent of Hitchcock's movie. And I'll tell ya, they make quite a racket with all that "Are we there yet?", "Mom, he's touching me." and "Fred, don't you think you should stop and ask for directions?"

It appears Mother Nature has hit menopause and can't decide where she wants the thermostat set. Monday it was in the 90's, Wednesday in the 50's tonight it is said will reach the 30's. I resisted the temptation to turn on the heat until this morning. I couldn't take that awful sound anymore. The sound of my teeth chattering.

Keeping the windows closed on the back porch has reminded me why I was going to clean that room. It reeks. So yesterday, while A was summarizing Macbeth in his own words, I tackled scrubbing the furniture, windows, doors and trim out there. Still need to do the walls and floors. It's starting to smell a little better. I then proceeded to explain to Bandit, aka Mr. Mud, how females, particularly the human ones, prefer for the men in their lives to smell good and the way to smell good is to stay clean. Almost the exact conversation I've recently had with my teenage son. Neither of them seems to have yet fully grasped the concept.

The cold weather also reminded me of other things we need to accomplish around here. Like changing the furnace filter. The wonderful odor emitting from the duct work this morning when I first kicked the furnace on was lovely. I believe it was a mixture of burning dust, cobwebs and I'm hoping a few spiders. (I've been spotting some humongous suckers around here lately.)

It also means it's time to break down and spend some cash. We need to replace the shoe molding on at least the exterior walls to help with drafts. And as much as I don't care much for heavy curtains, I'm also not fond of freezing my fanny off. We don't need curtains for privacy, but we really do for warmth based on the fact that I couldn't put enough clothes on to stay warm last year. Sure, we've got the new double pane windows, but if you're sitting right next to them they're still cold. So it was time to finally sit down and decide what to order. Of course it's not just that easy. When you have tall ceilings you also have tall windows. This seriously limits your selection. Luckily, I found some thermal drapes I think I can live with from JCPenny and they were even on sale. I also splurged and ordered a braided rug for the front hall, hoping it will add some much needed draft busting qualities to that space. I wanted to order one for the family room, but of course it's not available in that size in our area. It's good to know that the economy is doing so well, that these companies feel like they can pick and choose which paying customer to sell to. It's also good to know that the CEOs making these wise decisions are earning the big bucks. Grrrr.

Speaking of grrr... this not smoking thing is killin' me. The cravings the past two days have been nearly unbearable. I'm still plugging along though. Of course I say that as I'm cramming the last piece of cake down my throat straight out of the pan. Tonight, we diet!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just Call Me Susie

Susie Homemaker that is. Today I cleaned, laundered, shopped, baked, cooked and sewed. If this sort of behavior continues it'll ruin my reputation.

Why the flutter of domestic activity? Well... I wasn't going to mention this to the world since it's rather embarrassing, but I quit smoking.

Why is that embarrassing? Because it proves how much of an idiot I am. Anyone with half a brain surely never started or quit years ago. It's not that I didn't want to quit. In fact I tried many, many times. Nope, I was truly addicted. Am addicted. I'd pretty much kill for a cigarette as we speak.

I had tried many methods of quitting before. The patch, that nasty gum stuff, cold turkey. But I always had a problem with the physical cravings and withdrawal. The feeling that someone is trying to pull all your teeth out. That your head is going to explode and there are butterflies flying around in there. The feeling like you just had 12 cups of espresso.

This time I'm using the new Chantix drug. I'm on day 13 of the program. You basically go through the physical withdrawal before you even quit smoking. Last week I felt terrible, headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc. This week it's better. Now I just need to continue to change my habits, and ignore the cravings. This morning I tried to allow myself to fall off the wagon. I tried smoking a cigarette. The drug is working. It was so nasty, I can guarantee you that was my last one.

So in celebration, because you are supposed to reward yourself, tonight we eat cake!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Color Theory, the Best Method for Chosing Paint?

He asked: "What color are you going to paint the room?"

She responds: "I'm thinking a creamy beige."

He replies: "Oh, but I thought last time you painted a room beige you hated it? And didn't you say you didn't care what all those real estate shows say about neutral colors, it's your house and you're going to paint it whatever color you want?"

She says: "Yeah, but didn't like it because it was facing another room that had a light value and the two didn't play well together. So I repainted with a dark shade."

Him: (perplexed doesn't say a word)

She continues: "And since this is the sewing room it really needs to be a neutral tone. Otherwise it could cast a strange color onto the fabrics and make matching difficult."

He says: "But wouldn't it cast the same color on all the fabrics?"

She gives him that look and proceeds: "And it needs to be a light tint to keep the room bright. So I think beige would be the color."

The conversation continues around task vs ambient light and the possibility of a new light fixture when they pass the local Dairy Queen. There was a huge sign outside that read, "Closing Tomorrow for the Season." Both their eyes and ears perked up and agreed that they better stop there on the way home. There would be no more opportunity for ice cream until next spring! Never mind that there is another one a few miles up the road that stays open year round. It was a grand excuse to stop for ice cream.

As they stood before the gallery of paint chips, comparing one to the other like everyone does, He asks: "Why are you choosing chips from the Craftsman Bungalow collection? Why aren't you choosing the American Farmhouse one's?"

Without even turning her head from the chips she explains, "I like the Farmhouse colors, but because the Bungalow collection are warmer shades, their earthy color would harmonize better with the wood tones in our house. All the colors for the house are from this collection and so they'll all harmonize well with each other."

He says: "Okay. That's good, I like those colors better."

So after all that scientific thought and discussion we ended up unanimously agreeing on a color called caramel. (Gee, no subconscious decisions being made there.)

I like it, I think it really does help warm up the space. It looks good with the wood trim. And it's yummy.

It even coordinates well with the cat!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Psst...Come 'ere and I'll tell ya a secret...

I may be a conservative homeschool mom by day, but every other Friday night after delivering my son to his Dad, when I'm all alone in the car (the only time I'm ever alone in the car) I turn into... a car headbanger. It's true, I tune to the local classic rock station, crank the sound up and rock out singing badly at the top of my lungs. I can do a mean air guitar and a wicked drum solo.

Tonight's favorite, George Thorogood

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney put on top, and it's made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me child, tell me who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
It all started out back when I was a teen. My BFF, Karen and I would take off in true Thelma & Louise style (the early part of the movie, we never killed anybody) in my Dad's big old Oldsmobile. We used soda bottles, hairbrushes and whatever else we could find for microphones and guitars, with not a care in the world as to who saw us or what they thought of it.

Then I married and had kids and had to start acting like a responsible adult. I tried, but you know it's hard. So about the time my daughter was a preteen I occasionally would have these compulsions to crank the radio and do my best Angus Young impersonation. Particularly as we were driving through our small town where not only does everybody know your name, they know what you drive. Watching her hand cover her face and her body slink down into the seat as far as it would go without sliding out of the seatbelt was highly amusing. Now, when I do it to my son I just get a blank stare or rolling eyes that say "Is that really necessary?".

By and by my daughter got used to my little outbursts. In fact, there came a day when she threw in the towel and decided if she couldn't beat me, she'd join me. We'd make sure we really cranked it and rolled the windows down while we drove through town.

I've since lost touch with both of my car headbanging buddies. Miss those goofballs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Building a Sewing Table - Part I

You have to love a man who can turn a chicken scratched drawing of something into reality. I had found a picture of a sewing table in Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space that was close but not exactly what I was wanting for my sewing room. So between the photo and my chicken scratches M has been able to start piecing together a workable piece of furniture.

The first step was to build the cabinet frames. Working with the tongue and groove beadboard has proved to be a little tricky, it tends to want to warp. A more climate controlled building environment would help, but the dream workshop is, well, still a dream. And considering I'm planning to distress the heck out of this anyway, it really doesn't matter. It just adds to the character.

Left side base cabinet:
The next step was to add the casters, the breadboard style pull out shelves and build the drawers.

Right side base cabinet:
Once all the drawers are finished it will be time to sand and distress them. Then I can start the finishing process while he continues to work on the top. Since it's going to be so large we'll have to finish and assemble it in place. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to fit it up our narrow stairs. I'm sooo glad we thought of that at this point!

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Farm Girl Goes Wild

The narrow, leaf littered gravel road wound slowly through the woods, glints of sunlight filtering through the branches, the smell of autumn in the air. As we approached the gate, there was an ominous low, rumbling growl. Every hair on the back of my neck raised and had I had a tail I would have tucked it between my legs...

Our homeschool group visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center today. Now mind you, I was raised around animals. In fact, some might think the homestead resembled Noah's Ark. We had a horse, goats, pigs, turkeys, geese, ducks, exotic chickens, peacocks, a raccoon, a ferret, lots of cats and dogs, etc. But all of that ain't nothin' compared to what we saw today. The center has approximately 190 big cats from 9 different species set on 108 acres.

This is not even remotely like going to the zoo. This is the real deal. The staff asks you to stay at least 3 feet from the habitat fence, and you are more than happy to oblige once you get a look at one. If you've never been within three feet of a very hungry looking lion, you have no idea what I mean. At one point during the tour we entered an enclosed area and were soon surrounded by four huge habitats. I, being the geek that I am, instantly noted that there was only about four feet between them for us to stand. How on earth do we stay three feet from each cage? The math doesn't add up! So I did my best to pretend I was cool with it like everyone else and split the difference. Soon the cats settled down and I decided to brave my position and snap a few pictures. She seemed so nice and content...

Nice Kitty Before:
As I turned to take a few pics of her buddies, she leaped up, ran towards me and pounced on the side of the cage obviously in an effort to eat me, all in less than two seconds flat!

Not-so-nice Kitty After:
I know there was no way they were getting out of that cage, but just in case I decided from that point on I would remain in the center of our "herd". It's the stragglers and the young they go after. I've seen enough Wild Kingdom to know that! So after a while on our tour when I noticed a tiger literally stalking one of the young kids, I sacrificed myself and made him walk ahead of me. The staff explained how they feed the cats about 3000 lbs of meat each day. I figured the average kid weighed about 75 lbs. That's 40 kids. This one would just be an appetizer.

Not all of them were scary. In fact some of them were downright playful and cute. Like this guy. He's just a young teenager and you can see by his expression he really was just begging for someone to play with him. Unfortunately even playing with one of these cats can get you killed.

None the less, once the tour was over and we were back to the front entrance, I was more than delighted to see an animal a little more my speed.

But, I was afraid to even ask why part of it's ear was missing.