Sunday, July 14, 2013

Screen Door Fix-up

Here's our screen door that leads out to the back yard. Beautiful yes? Complete with mismatched wood trim, loose screening and chicken wire threatening to snag an unsuspecting hand at any moment. This Screen door definitely needed a fix-up.

I began by stripping the door. First removing the wood strips, then the chicken wire, and then the screen. Finally I scraped and sanded any flaking paint that was left along the frame.

I knew we still needed some form of chicken wire. We have cats in the neighborhood, and very occasionally I've seen raccoons. Also we have an excitable pit bull who likes to run circles around the backyard, charge up the back porch and then slam all of his body weight up against the back door when he wants back in. Not terribly cute but I have yet to figure out how to break him of this habit.

So, hexagonal chicken wire to the rescue! Super cute and functional! After adding the chicken wire I spray-painted both sides of the door white, including the wiring so you would be able to see it better against the screen. After letting it dry overnight, I stapled the screen in and then added the wood strips that would hold everything in place.

Tada! Its a pretty great look right? Peach with salmon trim and a white screen fitting? Just kidding. I'm hoping that we can save enough repaint the whole house next spring. Until then its unique right? And slightly better than before?

Any simple fixer-upper projects going on around your home?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Polka Dot Militia

I'm happy to report that our roses are really blooming in abundance this year. The last few years have been kind of ho-hum as we let our rose bushes go a little wild. I am not an expert of plants, so only as a last resort, I reluctantly hacked away in the fall and spring. Fortunately that did the trick. We have beautiful roses of burgundy, pink and peach that you can see all the way from down the street. I've also been staying on top of trimming any wild growth, and watering thanks to newly added drip hoses.

I put  the new hoses along our flower beds in late spring. I've never used them before, but I'm really liking it so far for ease of use and I don't worry as much about wasting water.

The downside to my roses this year is that aphids had arrived. Gross. Early in June I began to notice them munching away at our incoming rosebuds. I tried spraying them down with water... no luck, and I really wasn't wanting to use any harsh chemical sprays.

So....we called in the experts!

Brandon and I found these at Northwest Seed and Pet. I wish I had a better picture. So many Ladybugs! We kept them in the fridge until evening so that it would be cooler and they would be slower to fly away.

Here's some shots from the next morning.

The aphids aren't completely gone, but much more under control. Its been about a month since our lady bug experiment and I'd call it mostly a success, though eventually we may need to bring in some more of our polka dotted friends.

Anybody else out there using natural methods to get rid of weeds or pests in their garden this year?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Goodbye Green Carpet! (downstairs anyways)

Brandon and I finally got a move on and pulled the last bit of carpet from the downstairs of our house. At this point we've become a lot more efficient at pulling old nasty carpet. We cut the scraps into manageable sized strips and hauled them out to the truck Saturday night so that we'd have no excuse not to go to the dump Sunday morning. And we did. In the rain. Luckily it didn't start up until this morning so I had enough time to cover everything up with a tarp.

The best part is we finally got to roll out the new rug! As you can see sarge is already making himself at home. Don't mind the electronics on the couch. This photo is right after we moved the sectional back into place. I'm super excited to start painting so everything flows a little better, but Brandon says the walls are in too rough of shape and need to be replaced. It sounds like a huge project, but I'm hoping its do-able this summer. I'll take a better photo once I clean up and get everything better arranged.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flowers in Bloom

As many of you probably guessed, the raised garden beds are probably not going to happen this year. We've been putting the project off for months now because it was cold outside or we were working. Well, now the weather is beautiful and I'm really regretting it. I may still attempt a space for tomatoes and peppers if I'm feeling really ambitious. Spokane has been having a really unusual heatwave this last week with temperatures in the 80's. I'm so glad because spending a little time outside has really pulled me out of my not-wanting-to-do-anything-and-feeling-bummed-because-our-house-is-so-old-and-needs-so-much-work slump.

Of course with the nice weather I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do outside aesthetically. In the last week I cleared out the main flower bed of weeds and transplanted hyacinths that were scattered across the lawn to one of the side beds along the western edge of our property. Brandon and I got two 50ft lengths of soaker hose for the flower beds in the front yard and I'm thinking of adding one more to really saturate the larger bed.

Our bleeding heart that we planted last year is doing beautifully.

I picked up this small trellis from Fred Meyer the other day. Our clematis is already reaching up past the top, no blossoms yet though.

Brandon and I filled our two hanging baskets full of marigolds.

Some of the hyacinth and tulips that I transplanted.

View our back porch this morning. I forgot to mention that we had my cousin Chris come over earlier in the spring to prune our apple tree. If anyone knows what the bush is that has the little pink blossoms, please let me know.
Lastly, this has nothing to do with anything at all, but they are too cute not to share.

I'm not sure if the post office still has these (I've been hording them for a couple of months now) but aren't they awesome?

Also I've discovered drinking sun tea out of mason jars. Hipster? Maybe. To lazy to wash a glass to drink out of? Definitely.

Now for more playing in the yard. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mason Jar Salads - Reviewed

I've been seeing these mason jar salads all over the internet. At least once a week one shows up on my Pinterest feed. I like the idea. My husband and I really like salad. For the past two years our go-to dressing has been my  homemade blue cheese recipe, which I borrowed from Hill's Resort at Priest Lake, and tastes AMAZING. Literally, this dressing makes me want to eat salad like candy.

Healthy? Probably not. My Husband has been trying really hard lately to take care of himself, so I've been looking for healthier alternatives to our normal lifestyle.

I'm still on the look out for a homemade healthy dressing that we both LOVE, but this honey mustard vinaigrette is a good start.

So back to the mason jars...

A number of other reasons I wanted to try:

1. Bags of salad mix are hella expensive
2. Our 1980's fridge makes stored lettuce and veggies floppy
3. Pre-made salad = less work at dinner time
4. Poor life decisions for snacking after work

So I read up a little online, and ordered the supplies from Amazon. I have tons of mason jars already so all I needed was a jar sealer and a hand vacuum pump, which I think totaled less than $13.

So basically, you want to prepare your ingredients like you normally would. The lettuce should be spun enough times that it is dry as possible (moisture will make it wilt once the jar is sealed). The jar should be clean and dry too.

For filling the jar, I started with a layer of dressing. I didn't measure it out, but generously coated the bottom of the jar. Then I added cucumbers and tomatoes to marinate in the dressing. This layer of veggies creates a barrier between the lettuce and dressing and will help the lettuce stay crisp. Next, I filled to the top with lettuce and sealed.

I not going to lie. These jar sealers are a pain in the butt. The lid and sealer have to be place on just right. I'm not even sure what "just right" is. All I know is that sometimes it would seal on the first try and other times I would have to reposition the lid three or four times

Basically, you place the lid on the jar, then fit the sealer attachment on top of that. Hold the hand pump against the hole on top and start pumping. If you have a good connection you should feel some pressure as you pump, and after a few cycles you should hear the click which means the jar has sealed.

With a little luck, you should have a result something like this. I've been thinking about everything I can add for next time. Hard boiled eggs, bacon, sunflower seeds- I would be nervous to add croutons as they might not stay crunchy enough. I made a batch of sourdough croutons and stored them separately so they could be added later.

After four days of sitting in the fridge, I finally tried once of my creations. To serve, you just give the jar a couple of good shakes to distribute the dressing and then empty into a bowl. The veggies were still crisp and the cucumbers and tomatoes tasted really good after being marinated in the vinaigrette for a few days.

I will definitely be trying this again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Remove Old Paint from Hardware

 I think this is possibly my favorite household cheat that I have found on Pinterest so far. Its super easy, nontoxic and even relatively quick.

Most of the windows and doors in our home have been painted countless times and unfortunately from the looks of it, people who were doing said painting rarely took the time to remove any of the hardware before going at it. 

Since I was doing some painting in the kitchen, and would have to remove the hardware anyways, I thought I would give this a try. You can see that the locking mechanism and handle to our kitchen window were in rough shape.

Pretty nasty, huh?

Using my small snack sized crock-pot, I heated up enough water to submerge each of the parts. Once the water was good and hot, I threw in all of the pieces and let them soak for about a half an hour.

When I fished out each of the parts they looked about the same but when I went to rinse them off the old paint came away easily with just a little rubbing. I used a steel brush to get the stubborn bits out of any tight crevices...and tada!

They look almost new! I am so glad I found this as most of the hardware upstairs has the same problem. Here's the original link for the pin, or you could just follow me on Pinterest  :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

That Moment When You RealizeYou Painted the Window Shut

Ever have one of those Charlie Brown moments? The kind where you really put yourself out there, you try your best, and then at the last minute someone pulls the football out from under you? Yup. That's how I was feeling on Monday when I repainted the trim of our kitchen window. I'll save the one bright spot in this anecdote for later. For now, lets just concentrate on how I totally tried to F up our kitchen window.

Having successfully painted the kitchen ceiling in one day, I wanted to move onto the trim. I wasn't sure how far I could get in a day (I have a tendency to stretch a single paint job over several months) so I decided to start with the area that was most visible while using the kitchen.


I don't have a full shot of the window. But you probably get the idea. Peeling paint, discoloration, nail holes and chips.

Not to mention hardware that was carelessly painted over, one of my pet peeves.

I taped off the window and began painting with what was leftover of the ceiling paint (some of you may have spotted one of my mistakes already). As I painted I tried to move the window open and closed, letting it dry in the different positions before moving on. I ended with the window shut, then pulled off the blue painters tape and marveled at another job well done.


Beautiful, right? Look at how the white pops against the grey. Then, about fifteen minutes after finishing, I found out that using flat for a trim is a big No No. Whoops.....

It looks okay, but because flat paint is more porous than any of the glosses, it won't clean up very well and will probably end up showing dirt and scuff marks. It should work for now though. I figure that I can repaint it in the spring along with the rest of the trim and windows.

Now for the really good mistake.

My husband got home from work and I wanted to show him what a good job I had done. I went to display how the window looked open....and to my surprise it wouldn't budge. I climbed up onto the counter to get some leverage...still, not an inch. Insert obscenities of your choice here.

I spent the better part of an hour that night cutting along the seams with my box cutting knife and prying it open with a paint scraper. When I finally got it to open again, the new paint job was ruined. It now has cut marks, scrapes and chips along the edges. It still looks better than it did before, but lets just say its a good thing that it needs repainting in the spring. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Painted Ceiling

I know I've been talking about it for ages, but I finally went and painted the kitchen ceiling. It was a lot less difficult than I thought, and I'm hoping this little project will propel me out of my mid-winter rut.

Before pictures...

Note all of the water damage, greasy residue, and my personal favorite- about 13 putty filled holes I made when I was trying to figure out how to hang our three tiered basket.

I tried my hardest to take it nice and slow with the painters tape. Both the ceiling and walls are textured so I wanted to make sure that they adhered properly.

I shouldn't admit this, but I didn't use a drop cloth except for directly under the paint can and tray. I removed everything from the shelf above the pans and just tried to be as careful as possible. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.  :)

I finished after a good afternoon of painting with minimal dripping and just a few corrections. Taking my time with the painters tape really payed off.

After pictures!

So much better! The pictures don't really show much difference between the white and grey, but its there when you see it in person. This is definitely my proudest achievement with painters tape. Not only did it come off cleanly without very many touch-ups, but it also pulled away from the walls in two giants strips so I didn't have to scoot my ladder all along the whole perimeter of the kitchen.

I was going to tackle the trim today too, but that didn't quite work out. Grrrr. I have words about that I'll share later on this week.

All in all I'm so happy with how this turned out. I can officially say that I am not embarrassed of my kitchen anymore. Well, besides the state of our dishwasher (but that doesn't count). Now I just have to make the rest of the house look as nice....