Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Plant Check! (Alternative title: Spring Has Sprung...Hatchet Style)

You know how you felt, as a kid, when you grew your very first bean-in-a-cup? Or the first time you saw newborn kittens and/or puppies? That moment of squee married to fascination? I get that feeling every spring.

Every. Single. Spring.

This spring is extra special since it's the first one I haven't come out of winter all sad and grumpy. Instead I'm perky and raring to go.

This doesn't mean I've planted a single seed, though. I've been distracted by all of those other projects I'm still working on like finishing Caitlin's wall unit, baking bread and making yogurt and dabbling in making personal care products. (I made deodorant and it works like a charm! I'm steeping vanilla beans in jojoba oil and lavender in witch hazel! Lotion, moisturizer, toner and lip balm aren't far behind.)

So after I finished putting a few coats of lacquer on Caitlin's wall cubes, I went wandering around in the back yard. Eric thought I was crazy for hanging around in the blustery cold, peering at plants, but when I reminded him that I'm a druid at heart, he concurred and returned indoors. I kept poking about, checking for signs of new life and found them all over the place!

And nothing compares to the thrill of seeing plants I've ripped out of the ground and relocated putting out new growth.

"Yay! I haven't killed it!"

"Woo! You survived!"

"Well hello there, peonies!"

Yes. I talk to my plants. And cheer for them. And threaten to rip them out of the ground if they don't shape up.

I'm a benevolent dictator, for the most part.

From the looks of it, it should shape up to be a fabulous spring...if all of those newly relocated plants bloom this year, that is! Columbine are popping up all over (as are weeds, of course) along with a host of other plants. The lavenders I relocated are alive as are the peonies, catmint, smoke plants, sedum, autumn sage, agastache, prairie winecups, bleeding hearts, etc., etc., etc. I am pleased with all of the work I put in last fall and am looking forward to seeing the results of that work!

You know you're a real gardener when you can walk into almost any garden center, look at the thousands of plants on display and mentally tick off your list:

"Yup, killed that one. And that. And those. Oh! I remember that one! It was so pretty!"

The flip side is that you're always willing to try again. Maybe this time it will be happier over there?

As always, no matter how many I have, there's always room for one more. Or fifteen more.

Those bags of daylilies and dahlias begged to come home with me. Seriously.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Caitlin says...

Caitlin is upstairs in her room with her friend. They're having a 2 day sleepover and are having fun.

Eric [Downstairs in the kitchen]: Caitlin!
Caitlin: Yes?
Eric: Did you drink my soda that I had here in the fridge?
Caitlin: No.
Eric: Do you know where my soda is?
Caitlin: [Guilty silence]
Eric: Caiiiiit-lin?!
Caitlin: It's underneath my pillow because we couldn't open it and we thought we'd get yelled at.
Eric retrieves the soda and returns to me shaking his head.

Caitlin: Splitter of Hairs Extraordinaire.

We now will attempt to return to Woman with a Hatchet. Some assembly may be required.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Craftiness Continues! Now for fun with...DRAPES!

I blame my sister Cindy and Ana White for the crafting bug that has taken hold of me recently. If it weren't for Ana's web site and her cool plans for furniture, I never would have found Young House Love.

The problem with having found their site is that it immediately filled my brain with all sorts of cool ideas about how I could finish Caitlin's room. Finish as in decorate. I've been so busy working on my garden for all of these years that I never really think about the inside of the house a whole lot. Mostly because to me, mopping a floor that will be dirty again just as soon as a twin passes by is a lot more frustrating than pulling a weed that I know will come back. However, time between weed regrowth is usually a matter of weeks, while floor destruction is only a matter of moments.

That sense of satisfaction that you get from a job well done is far more fleeting inside the house than outside the house.

That being said, making furniture has been a heck of a lotta fun. At least for me. Now, after having spent hours scouring decorating blogs (There are some amazingly talented people out there! They have some fantastic taste! I am so totally stealing their ideas! Woo!) for cool ideas and easy/cheap ways of doing things, I learned about heat bond tape. It means no sewing.

No sewing.

At least for simple things like drapes, that's frickin' awesome! So I ran out and bought some and then pulled out some white fabric that has been laying around for a few years in my garage. What did I buy it for originally? I can't remember, but there was plenty of it to make Caitlin some very, very simple drapes.

Want to make some, too? First we'll need some supplies.

  1. The magical heat & bond tape that I grabbed from the local craft store. I bought a bag that had 4 rolls in it, since I didn't know how much I'd need or if I might get all crazy and make something else after I was done with this set of drapes. I had a coupon, so it the tape was 40% off. Nicely done, me!
  2. I snagged some cloth daisy pins for 50 cents each, also at the local craft store, since I didn't want the curtains to be just plain white.
  3. I pulled out my measuring tape, iron and ironing board.
  4. Don't forget the fabric you want to make into a curtain. I'd already cut it to the length I'd wanted, although since I'm notoriously crappy at math, I didn't quite cut it long enough, so it isn't fully floor length like I'd originally wanted it to be. Oh well! This is only my 2nd time making curtains, so I don't feel so bad!
  5. Finally, you need ring clips (unless you want to make cloth tabs) and a curtain rod.

Measure your hem and iron it down. Another blogger had mentioned that professionals make 4" hems and after checking the ones that I'd had made for me years ago, confirmed that to be the case. So, being a wannabe, I made my hems 4" wide on both the top and the bottom. I think this is where I made my length miscalculation. I ironed that sucker flat and rolled it over a second time and ironed that flat.

Then I pulled out my new magical crafting tool (I might like it almost as much as I like my sander!) and double checked the directions on the back of the package. I'm glad I did, because unlike Sherry's tape, mine didn't have any paper on it to peel off. If I'd put the hot iron on it...well. Let's just say I'd have suddenly started searching for How To Remove Glue from your Iron.

I plopped my 4" hem on top of the tape, ironed it down and repeated the process on each side of the panel. When I was done, it was a thing of beauty. I didn't have to curse out my sewing machine. I didn't have to pull out my hopelessly messed up stitches. Amazing!

That's it! I was done making a panel! All I needed to do then was do the same thing on the second panel and then go grab some ring clips. I had a curtain rod that I'd bought back when I made a curtain for the living room, but found out it was too long for the space. Since I figured that I'd eventually use it in my room, I just put it in the closet. Where's it's been for almost 5 years. Sigh.

My next step was to attach the ring clips to the panels and have Eric install the rod. Then, as the final touch, I pinned the cute flowers to the panels and called it Good Enough.

It's not perfect, but it's fun. If I run across more of those flowers, I'll be sure to snag them and add them to the 10 I found originally.

I think Caitlin will like it! What's more, what I've learned here will stand me in good stead when I start working on my room!

What do you think? Easy and cute! Easily changed, too, if Caitlin doesn't like it or wants something different or wants simple, white curtains.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

How to ...Make Your Own Magnetic Blackboard

That's right. Now I've caught the crafting bug and I've got to finish up the desk backing for Caitlin's room. My plan is to make a magnetized blackboard to fit that opening.

Hope you're having a great day!

Tutorial with photos!
  1. First, get yourself a thin piece of plywood, for sturdiness. Have it cut to the size you'd like. (Do you have an old frame that needs a new purpose? Wall space crying out for some magnets?)  I have two of them around 30" x 20", one is for Caitlin's desk and the other is going to be my menu board/shopping list board mounted in the kitchen. 
  2. Get a quart of magnetic primer. You don't want spray paint for this. From the reading I've done, it doesn't appear to work so well. Make sure to either have the store you buy it from use their agitator to shake it or expect to stir it up a lot when you get it home and while painting it on. You need to ensure the primer is well mixed for it to work properly.
  3. Use a very smooth roller or a foam brush. I went the foam brush route, since that's what I had on hand.
  4. Sand your plywood with a fine grit sandpaper, just to ensure it's nice and smooth. Wipe away the dust with a damp rag and allow to dry before priming.

The primer I picked up suggested a minimum of two thin coats, so I went for three and tested in between each coat with a small magnet for strength after allowing it to dry for 30 minutes each time. After 3 coats, it seemed to be strong enough for my needs.

By the way, this stuff is really whiffy, so you'll want to paint it outdoors or in an extremely well ventilated location. I was in the garage with the door open and I still chose to put on a mask to fend off the fumes. By the time I was done with the third coat, it was starting to get a little too chilly to move on to the next phase of the project: applying the chalkboard paint.

I will start on that tomorrow, assuming it's not too cold to paint!

 - - -

Of course I couldn't finish what I'd started. It dropped below freezing and has stayed there the last 2 days. So...instead I'll put this post on hold until the weather returns to the "spring" setting.

In the meantime, I'm working on an indoor project. More about that later.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Caitlin's New Desk: Hatchet and Husband Take on the DIY World!

Just under a week of hard work, swearing, sanding, painting, sawing, swearing, building and then last minute panic, ripping apart and refacing, it's done.

One third of the giant wall unit for Caitlin's bedroom is finished. Now she has a place to do her her room and away from the babies. No excuses.

Check it out!

One desk with hutch and drawer. It's not perfect at all, but talk about proud! Aaaaand a massive learning experience for Eric and I. I'll be making sure that he takes into account the measurement for any drawer slides before putting the drawer together in future!

The drawer interior. I totally stole the idea from Young House Love (Crafty devils!) because I thought it was a fabulous touch. Caitlin chose the wrapping paper and I got my first dose of decoupage. Be afraid!

The knob Caitlin chose after much back and forth with me. White knobs on a white drawer weren't going to work for me. This, on the other hand, is lovely! We have another pair of matching handles for the drawers on the base units. Base unit construction starts...tomorrow!

Caitlin's finished door with her colorful name and the desk we've been working on for a week! Caitlin even did homework on it this evening!

Whew! What a lot of work! I'm so glad it's done.

On to the next piece! Huzzah!

Whaddayah think?

Emma says...

After a quick bath this morning, Emma asked Eric if he liked her pretty hair.

"I love your pretty hair," Eric replied. "Do you like my pretty hair?" and gestured to his shiny shaved head.

Emma's eyes crinkled and her nose squinched up. My favorite laugh bounced around the kitchen and she said, "You don't have any hair, Daddy!" When he asked what she thought happened to Daddy's hair, Emma said, "You frew it away! It's in da garbage!"

Logan walked in with his bag of toys, bright yellow hard hat and Lightning McQueen snow boots and exclaimed, "Sniper took it!"

"We have to go find it, Yogan!" Emma squealed and jumped down from her chair. "Let's go get Swiper!" She grabbed Logan by the hand and together they ran into the living room.

Moments later we heard a pair of voices yelling, "Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping" from the living room. Emma came back to us and held her hands out, empty and sad. "It's all gone."

So much for getting Eric's hair back!
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