Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gardening and an amazing tip ;)

Playin’ in the dirt

Saturday was pretty productive, in a dirty hands, weed-ridding sort of way.  In between bouts with my naughty children, I weeded the “kids’ section” of the flower bed (where my girls always help select the annuals that will go there, and then help plant them),

thinned out a TON of shasta daisies, echinacea (coneflower), and monarda (bee balm) for giving away.  I also found a mound of chives right in the middle of the bed that will probably find its way to my mom’s house before a week is over.  I dug out several yukka plants that were invading the center of my space, and a whole lot of stinky catmint.  

The past owners actually planted that on purpose, and it spreads like wildfire.  I HATE it, mostly because the smell made me nauseous all through my last two pregnancies.
I got a good start on my two standing planters, 

but I’m still searching for a couple of specific accent plants that will tie them together and put in the “ooooh” factor.
Cuphea "Cha Cha"

Cuphea "Tango"

I have three hanging planters that I’d love to be working on, but the shade plants seem to have been delayed at all the nurseries locally.  I guess that’s a sign that I’m supposed to keep my focus on the sunny patches for now.
I put in more seed today, too.  I have the dismalist luck (oh, yeah, I just made a word up) when it comes to seed, but every year I try again.  This year, I have been encouraged by two types of seed already showing some life:
Oat Grass


If they’re gonna pop at all, the tomatoes should be sprouting any day now, too.  My family eats sooo many tomatoes and peppers

18 plants, if they all make it!

that it definitely makes sense to grow them ourselves, and if we can finally develop a seedling program that works, we’ll save the investment we make each year on the potted plants. 16 tomato plants and 8 pepper plants at $4 a pop ($96!), plus all the random veggies we can fit into our little spot, can add up really quickly.  I love the idea of spending $5 for the seeds and moving on from there!
If you are a gardener, I hope you wear gloves while you work.  I don’t, because I’m dumb.  Well, that and I really hate the way they feel.  I pay for that with exceedingly dry and old-looking hands, not to mention the “I’m to busy to bathe” look that dirt crusted fingernails and cuticles can give a girl.  Here, then, is my tip for all of you to take with you.
An Amazing Gardener’s Thrifty Tip

Um, that was sarcasm, people!

Use any hair conditioner you have around the house (I use whatever I’ve gotten tired of, or whose smell I didn’t like) and put it on a wet nail brush. 

Instead of washing hands with soap, scrub them with the conditioned brush, which will still get the dirt off, but will actually moisturize while doing so.  You can also use the conditioner directly on your hands after cleansing, to soften them.  It’s a great shaving cream, too.
Another great way to use up a product that might not impress you with its intended purpose...  eye creams that are ineffective or that you just don’t like for whatever reason are GREAT as a lip plumper and revitalizer.  Before bed, tap the eye cream onto clean lips, and keep applying until no more will absorb.  Since it’s not intended for lips, it probably won’t taste good, so add a topcoat of something waxy, like Chapstick. Eye creams are made to draw and hold moisture where they are applied, and a lot of them contain top end ingredients that can be really beneficial to your pucker. Products formulated for the eye area are stringently tested, and are safe for application anywhere on the face, although ingestion is a whole ‘nother story, so don’t lick your lips!  In the morning, all you’ll have to do is enjoy your rehydrated smile.  :)
All righty then!  A new week and month tomorrow - everyone be safe, and love to all...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Well, THAT was a long time comin'...

Order has returned!  Wait, order never even existed in the crazy house!  Still, the place has been much quieter, after the excitement of the in-laws’ visit, an amazing Easter egg hunt and party, 
Chaos reigns

Plus the 7 that we couldn't corral into the picture...
a really fun night out with friends, and a loooong four-day-weekend.  Very little got done in the way of crafting or creating, but there was a ton of cooking, cleaning and commiserating!  Also... have a peek at this!

Yes, that is the elusive and almost-given-up-on bathroom vanity topper.  All that whining and waiting - there it is!  And here's another shot, just because I finally have the danged thing!

Please pretend not to notice the unfinished back wall.  Please!
My contact at the company ended up kicking some butts and taking some names in order to get it for us, PLUS she delivered it to our home, went over installation with us, and (HOLY CATS, BATMAN!) refunded our money.  Yeah, you’re seeing that correctly.  It was such a comedy of errors over there that it was decided, by THEM, that no money should have ever changed hands.  I hate to say it, but maybe I should have tantrumed earlier.  This is not a course of action that I’d normally advocate, but having seen the results, maybe there is occasionally an appropriate time for one.  Just sayin’.  Now, if I could just convince D to get the medicine cabinet done...  another battle for another day, people!

Oh, and I have been eking out some progress here and there... this is the display I've coveted for years.  D isn't fond of pretty just for the sake of pretty, but I went ahead and did it, and he quite likes it.  So there!

Very soon it will also have a towel drying feature on it.  In the meantime, it's just purdy.  :)  That's also a new light fixture - my first attempt at even touching electrical. I'm alive and there was no fire, so I guess it went OK.  ;)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Monday was a beautiful day here - it got to the mid-60’s, and there was glorious sunshine  :)  The last couple, not so much, but we took advantage of that lovely day by visiting a couple of local garden centers who were in turn using the sunshine to get more of their stock outside.  I started on my usual collection of annual, perennials and other outdoor ornaments, and was able to successfully pretend that there would be no more winter!
I used to be a blue/white flower girl, then I went almost all pink, but for the past two years, I just can’t get bright enough!  I love, love, LOVE the loud citrus colors, and I try to add something different each year as well.  There’s no rhyme or reason to my flower “beds” and planters, so I just pack them full of color, texture and contrast, and hope for the best.  Pretty scientific, no?
These are some of my favorites.

Lantana camara

Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia)

Hyacinth Bean Vine


Martha Washington Geranium

Moss Roses (Portulaca)
I plan to be back atcha tomorrow with a couple of little goodies, but with my good friends' wedding so bright and early, 

Will and Kate

I can't make any promises.  As a matter of fact, I should be in bed already!  Love to all...


p.s.  It’s a done deal.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  The ceremony was lovely, it was totally tasteful, and it was sooo worth giving up some sleep.

With any luck, I’ll be able to capture a pic of the “balcony kiss”, and my experience will be complete, as theirs is just beginning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wicked weather and working it out

April 19th, 2011

It’s been another ridiculous day.  Only five days ‘til Easter, and there’s a winter weather advisory on for my area, AGAIN!  This was my house at 4:45... 

and this is at 6:45...  

And right now (8:05)...
Yes, it really is coming down like that.

I can’t stand it.  D is probably going to be stranded in Milwaukee, because he (optimistically) took off his snow tires during his last time home, and it’s terrifying to drive on his lightweight summer tires in this blizzard weather.  I’m actually praying he has the sense to stay there, as a delay in his arrival is sooo much better than him getting hurt trying to rush.
Look at this poor, forlorn daffodil.  

I had such high hopes for it, but that shot was taken in the fist "shoot", and now it’s completely buried.  Check THIS out, too - I had been outside only long enough to take the pictures.  
Nice focus, huh?  Self portraits are tricky in the snow!

That time I was smart enough to brush the snow off right away, but this time it melted right through my hair and down my neck.  Oooh, chilly!
The good part about bad weather is that I spent a lot of hours inside today, and I got some things done.  The grout is completed in the bathroom, and it looks so good (except for one crooked glass tile - I don’t know how I missed that when I was placing them!).  I spent about an hour clearing the “haze” today, and then polishing to a high gleam (((sigh))).  I do love what it does for the room - the light fixture in the shower area is just a cheap recessed thing, but now the light is amplified by its reflection, instead of absorbed into the nasty, ever-peeling paint.  Yay!
I also finally got my Good Friday plaque art whatever it is done.  It’s been sitting around in pieces for two weeks, but now it is just what I imagined.
I started with a frame I got for 45 cents from the Thrift (no pic, but imagine a cruddy looking 10x13 oak frame).  Then I picked up the best, most appropriate cross EVER, from the Hob Lob.  I found a great snippet of scripture and printed it onto a sheet of scrapbook paper with the image of sand on it, chose the perfect purple Lenten shawl (ribbon), and lucked into the absolutely ideal pre-cut mat (all HL).  Well, the mat might have been a bit large, ‘cause I forgot about 10x13 vs 11x14, but the hubby’s sharp knife took care of that :)  5 layers of Canvas White from Rustoleum on the frame later, and this is what I have...

I am so happy with the result.  I know I’ve harped before about bunnies and candy, etc, but THIS, this is what my Easter is about.   There is another inset for this frame once Easter morning arrives, so it will be a celebration piece, too.
I also went deep into denial about the snow coming down and worked on some centerpieces for the Egg Hunt on Saturday.  This is the first finished one, 
Ranunculus, stock, and polka dot plant

and I will admit without shame that I copied the idea from a local supermarket’s floral department.  I even told the designer that I was gonna, and she was just flattered that I liked it enough to do that.  The price tag on theirs was too much; I knew  could do it for less and here it is! Mine are significantly bigger, too.
Use your everyday wicker, or Easter colored ones, like I did for this sample.  I've been picking up a ton, so I'd have choices.
Half price, baby!

It doesn’t matter if they’re lined, because you’re gonna cram the plants in there in their original plastic store containers.  Three seems to be the magic number, but if you had a really large basket you could up that to five.  Always keep the number uneven, unless you have a distinct center plant - then space an uneven number around that focal point.  Now stuff a handful of sparkly Easter grass into the triangular gaps between the plastic planters, and add some wired goodies to the arrangement randomly.  I picked these up at GW, but you could really use anything that catches your eye.  

The original pieces I saw also had poofs of tulle on wire picks to fill out their arrangements, but I really had no room, so those got left out.  Oh, well, I have other uses for the tulle :) Just not today...

Well.  D called.  He's a bullhead and thinks he has to make it home, so I'll be signing off to worry and pray for him and the other drivers out there slogging through this mess.  If y'all are so inclined, any other prayers would be might appreciated!

Stay warm and dry, everyone!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ranting and a rave

Well, hello!  I wish I had an excuse for not showing up for the past bunch of days, but it’d be pretty sketchy, so I won’t bother.  Mostly, I’ve been playing house with Honey whenever he’s home, and trying to put things in order.  
Sadly, there has been NO progress on the bathroom vanity, and I can now officially say that I am pi$$ed about their total lack of customer service skills.  No less than 6 times, the same woman has told me that she would just check on some details and call me right back.  She has NEVER called me back.  Not. once. 

If we weren’t in such a bind, having chosen colors, accessories, etc that would coordinate with the particular countertop that we selected, I would sound off on her and tell her where she could direct deposit the order. 

Where did YOU think I meant?   LOL!  link

As it stands, I feel completely trapped, which is my personal Achilles heel.  I DO NOT handle the feeling of helplessness well, and I truly don’t know where to go from here. I’ve tried talking to other employees, and asked about a supervisor or manager, but apparently it’s such a small company that she is all of the above.  
Here’s where I find the only humor in this situation...  when the vanity arrived, I told her that I write a small blog and asked permission to write about the company and our experience.  She said something to the effect that “any publicity is good publicity” and gave total permission.  Now, I’m not sure I have the cojones to put this all out there with her details, but I sure like knowing that I can if I decide to!  :)  I’m not sure I’m in agreement with her assessment of free publicity!
Hm hmmm...  RANT OVER!  Sorry ‘bout that - just so frustrated!
Now, raving on a happier note, we are hosting an Easter egg hunt on the Saturday of Easter weekend.  
I'm pretty sure I'm more excited than even the kids - If everyone on the list comes, we will have 20 kids running amok, searching for goodies in our yard!  I’m busy planning for the eggs and other treats for the kids, and I’m serving hot sticky buns
recipe link
and (maybe adult) beverages for their parents.  
Danish Mary with Celery Ice

Later that evening, most of the adults be going to one of our local comedy clubs to indulge in some stress-relieving laughter, as I “won” a bunch of tickets.  They do that to fill the empty seats, I’m sure.  :)
For the kiddies, I’m planning on a Bunny Hop sack race, a spoon egg relay, and an egg roll.  My biggest challenge has been figuring out prizes, because who knows the sex or age of the winners!  I’m trying to channel my inner psychic. :)
Yes, my inner psychic looks like a red-headed Kate Moss.  link
Now, tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and I haven’t gotten my Easter vignette put together yet!  I also have a Good Friday item that I will show you tomorrow, so it should be all about the pretty and no more of my ugliness expressed in rant form.
Here’s hoping that your weekend is wonderful and warm, especially as we are having yet more snow/sleet/freezing rain here.  Thank goodness for the forsythia I forced - it lets me imagine that there really might be a springtime!  I'll leave you with their beauty...


Wednesday, April 13, 2011



I'm jumping the gun, I know.  This video came my way via email from my mother-in-law (THANK YOU, MOM!!!), and I cannot hold onto it for another week and a half.  It should be out there!  Totally beautiful, and I cried all through it and am crying still.  This is a CD that I will purchase without a second though.

Enjoy - if this doesn’t get you into the Lenten/Easter spirit, nothing will!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where've I been?

Catching up, on everything

Four days since I posted...  so much and yet so little has gone on!  We had our first really nice weather

Beautiful blue skies and sunshine...

and our first really dramatic spring weather.

All were taken from our backyard in a space of 2-3 minutes.  It was a phenomenal lightshow!

I've finished the tile in the bathroom (YAY, me!)  I've badgered the company that messed up the vanity top into producing one (yay, again!), although there will be no sidesplashes in the foreseeable future.  They also may or may not come up with the toekick and side filler pieces that were ordered so long ago. Strange how my expectations keep lowering, and smaller and smaller accomplishments are making me happy!

Today we rented a Rug Doctor to clean up the carpet in the living room (the only carpeted room in the house), and I made a discovery.  There were several stubborn spots that have been around as long as we've had the house, and have never done more than slightly fade with cleaning.  SO, anyway, in desperation this afternoon, I sprayed my laundry go-to 
Shout Advanced Gel

on the wickedest spots, let it sit for just a couple of minutes, and went back over with the Doc, and VOILA!  Out they went, and I'm so happy!
Clean carpet, cute husband, crazy messed up room

Y'all know I thrift like crazy, and while I'm pretty choosy about clothes, I have found that with Shout, I can almost always (almost) get out small stains that may have been there for a long time, and have a totally mysterious origin.  This stuff is AWESOME!

We've also been working on a bunch of other items on the now ever-present choreboard.  

Anyone else notice that "Laundry" never gets moved from the top of the list?  Doesn't matter how much I get through, there is always a ton more :(

In the quiet moments (ha ha), I have been working on some pretties, and here are a few peeks into those.

Slowly but surely we are making progress, and I hope to have a more interesting and crafty post for you tomorrow.  Everyone have a Wonderful Wednesday!