Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making progress slowly but surely

So my time until my self-imposed end-of-the-month deadline to have the rental house back ready for viewings is fast approaching, and although we're crossing things off the list, our progress might not be as good as I might have liked. However, I have gotten an extraordinary amount of painting done in the last 5 days!

Let's see, I had already painted 2 walls in the kitchen, and now adding both spare bedrooms and the bathroom, plus every inch or trim in the house and every door in the house (and garage), that is a lot of painting! I do still have a second coat to do on several of the doors, since I ran out of paint (oops!) and will have to run across to Home Depot to get more of the low VOC stuff that we have been using. The local Ace Hardware doesn't carry any low VOC paints and I've never been that happy with their color matching abilities, so we don't bother go there for paint any more.

I also still have to paint the bathroom walls in color, to go over top of the kilz odor blocking primer I put down in there over the weekend. I'm not so sure about my color choice on that one, what do you think? I'm worried the color might be a bit dark. But it's hard to tell since we haven't gotten the light fixture completely installed yet, so we don't have very good lighting in there.

Oh, and here are the after pictures of the spare bedroom (light grey/purple) and office/spare bedroom (light grey/blue). I'm finding that photo's of the rooms make them read a lot more grey than they actually are in real life. In real life the purple room looks amazing. I think I might need to paint Little M's room in that color I love it so much! And the Blue room looks really great too. These new colors really bring the whole house together - they match nicely with the grey/green of the master bedroom and the tan of the main hallway and living room. Before the 2 spare rooms really didn't match well at all, and the colors weren't that great even on their own. I really hope these are some of the extra touches that help someone fall in love with the house and make them want to buy it! So here are a couple pictures of the new bedroom colors:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garden update - August 2011

I missed writing a post here earlier this week, but you'll be happy to know that I've painted lots of trim, fixed the garbage disposal (yay!), and decided that the wired doorbell wasn't going to be salvageable wired so today I'll be picking up a wireless one to install. All of this is at the rental house though, so what's been going on at home you ask? Well lots of garden time! My garden has been growing (weeds) like crazy, and the real plants are growing well too. Here is a selection of garden pictures from last week before I went crazy weeding, but I figured I would show you the ugly (weedy) pictures to keep things true :)
 The marigolds are doing quite well where I randomly placed them near the strawberries right before we left on vacation without anywhere else to plant them.

 The onions (Copra Onions mostly) aren't growing quite as big as I would have hoped. More water? Less Water? Some manure? I'm not sure what to fix, but something needs to change for next year's garden :)

The eating corn is growing tall, but just starting to flower. Hopefully we get ears before frost! Next year I may try a shorter season corn, or it may just be that same lack of fertilizer :) Good thing we have chickens now!
 The potatoes did great this year, although we'll see how many actual potatoes we got. We should dig them sometime in the next couple weeks and then I'll let you know how they did. We were happy to just have live plants considering the last 2 summers we've tried to grow them and managed to either drown them or smother them with dirt! The tomatoes in the background are doing alright too, although nothing is remotely red yet...

 Our peppers are doing really really well. This is the first summer we have had peppers produce, so we're pretty happy with the number we got! Especially since the first ones we planted this spring got hailed (almost) to death and I had to replant with my extra starts. Luckily I had plenty of extra's since I grew over twice as many as I wanted to plant. Next summer I'll plan on planting way more peppers, we can freeze extra's for use on our homemade pizzas among other things. In fact I think next summer I'll plan on more of most plants. That's only if I manage to expand the garden though! :)

 The green beans are doing fairly well, considering I almost lost them amongst the weeds! One day about a week and a half ago I realized that the 2 rows of beans between the 2 areas of peas were just hopping with grasshoppers, so I dove in and pulled lots of large weeds, and revealed a floppy double row of green beans complete with some beans all ready to be picked! Since then I've picked about 5 meals worth of beans that have been blanched and frozen for cooler day.

 Our zucchini has been somewhat of a disappointment this year. last year at this time we were harvesting numerous monster zucchini, but this year we haven't even had one yet. There are a couple little teensy ones growing, but nothing worth picking yet.

 The cucumbers have also been a bit disappointing, but at least they are flowering... I really picked a poor spot for them, they are really hidden by the raspberries that just filled in this summer, so likely a different spot would have been better. Next year!

 The popping corn is growing, although perhaps not as quickly as I would have liked. (Can you tell it was really windy when I was taking pictures?!)

 My watermelon grew this year! Although likely the teensy little watermelons won't get big enough to harvest, it is at least heartening to see the little plant grow after last summers repeated failure.

 The pumpkins are doing really well, there are at least 4 pumpkins growing big & round for Little M to 'carve' with us this fall!

The hubbards are also growing well, and have several squash growing. The butternuts aren't doing quite as well, but they are slowly coming along.

Well, that's it for the garden update this month! How are your gardens growing?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A welcome garden visitor

To many people, seeing a snake in the garden would be cause for alarm. Screaming, running for the shovel, vacating the garden for days hoping it will leave and not come back, you name it. But for me, seeing a snake, especially a gophersnake (Great Basin gophersnake, Pituophis catenifer deserticola, or commonly called a Bullsnake around these parts) just makes me very happy.

After supper the night before last, Little M and I went down to the garden to eat some strawberries and maybe some beans & peas, and to check out all the plants and see how they were all growing. The first thing I noticed as I bent down to look for ripe strawberries in the strawberry patch was the distinctive blotching pattern of a gophersnake woven through the strawberry plants!

I looked a bit closer to make sure it was a gophersnake (not a rattlesnake which would have meant removing Little M and heading back down with my snake hook to relocate it a good distance away from the house (but still within it's home range). Luckily it was just a gophersnake, not a small one either, although not the biggest we have seen on the property, and definitely not the biggest one I have ever seen. That's because I moved out west to do a masters thesis on gophersnakes up in British Columbia's Okanogan Valley. Yup, that's right, I studied snakes! So I guess you could say I have a bit of a soft spot for them now, so snakes are welcome in my garden!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Closet organizing at Grammy's house

Last weekend, and the weekend 2 weeks before that, was spent at my mother-in-law's house outside of Spokane. She lives on a lake, so we had a lot of fun playing on the beach, walking the boardwalk along the lake, and playing in the water. Little M had fun with her Grammy, and I had fun organizing the closet in Grammy's spare room! It was basically a win-win-win-win situation. I knew Little M was being well taken care of & loved on (and spoiled!) by Grammy (and G-daddy as her husband likes to be called!), I got a good break from her while being able to do one of my favorite things - organize, and Grammy of course got quality time with her granddaughter!

So back to the closet. Grammy's house is a two level home with a two bedroom main floor with an open floor plan living space & kitchen, and a walkout basement that is rented out as an apartment right now, so her space is limited to the upstairs. When her husband retires (he still lives over on the west side in the home my husband grew up) and moves over to live there too, the renter will go and they will do some renovating to have full use of the downstairs as well. For now though, her space is a bit tight for all of the stuff she has.

You see, she buys things at yard sales or thrift stores for cheap, and then sells them on eBay. She does really well since she is great at spotting salable items! Last year she started buying Halloween costumes when she saw good quality ones for cheap throughout the year, and then she sold them online before Halloween. She quickly realized it was well worth buying them up and storing them. But that meant she had even more things to store around her house, and this year the bins of costumes were taking over!

So that is how I came to be organizing her closet. The spare bedroom has a nice sized closet, but it was full (literally) to the brim with quilting supplies in boxes and bins and bags. It was quite a mess, and as Grammy had just retired and is now hoping to do more quilting, we thought having the quilting fabrics more accessible and less of a mess would help her be better able to relax and quilt! So we decided that the quilting supplies would be moved out of the closet, likely to end up in a storage system like an Ikea Expedit bookshelf system, or something similar.

I realized that I forgot to take a true before picture of all the quilting supplies in the closet, and of the bins and bins of costumes (bad blogger!). But here is the stack of quilting supplies after we took almost everything out of the closet (and when I remembered to take a photo), and below that is what was still in the closet when I remembered. That tower with drawers below was in the closet too. Yup, that closet was literally packed full!

That left the closet empty to fill with all those Halloween costumes! Although Grammy claims that she really doesn't need to easily see the stuff she sells online, since once she brings it home she takes a photo of it to list it with, and then until it sells she just needs it stored someplace, I thought that by having the costumes sorted she wouldn't have to dig through multiple bins to find the specific one she was looking to package up and mail out. So that led us to design a closet with multiple levels of rods for hanging costumes, along with some shelves for storing those miscellaneous costume accessories like wigs, witch hats, and crowns.

We ended up picking up a system at Home Depot that she can rearrange if in the future she stops selling Halloween costumes and decides she wants something else in that closet. It was fairly easy to install and now can be adjusted in minutes if she decides she wants a rod higher or lower, or wants to add a shelf. Here is the closet all empty and waiting to be filled with costumes!

And here it is again once we packed all those costumes in there! Great, right?! I think Grammy was pleased that we did all this organizing, and hopefully she lets me come back and visit again :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Laying chickens at 5 weeks

It has been almost 5 weeks since my laying chicks arrived, and they have changed quite a bit since those first balls of fluff. By far the friendliest is one of the Ancona's, and the shyest is one of the Americauna's. Here is how they look now:

The Ancona's are fairly different, one larger and more blotchy, one smaller with more defined light and dark regions.

I can't seem to get a good picture of the shyest Americauna, here is the other one. They are fairly similar in coloration and shading. Remember the chick with the really fluffy cheeks? This is her!

The Rhode Island Red's are pretty much alike. I love how their feathers are coming in with such a vibrant red color!

The Buff Orpington's are both light tan in color, I haven't been differentiating between the two.

The Silver Laced Wyandotte's are fairly reclusive, but very pretty! They both look alike to me.

One of the Barred Rock's is much friendlier than the other, in fact the friendly one is almost as friendly as the Ancona girl that follows me around. Otherwise I can't tell them apart.

I think the Black Australorp's aren't too pretty yet, they definitely look like gawky teenagers right now!

The two Speckled Sussex are easy to tell apart, one has a lot more white on it's front than the other. However apart from their looks, I haven't noticed any different personality between the two. They aren't really skittish, but they also aren't interested in coming right up to me either.

Well, there they are at 5 weeks! They look a lot different than this picture of them back when they arrived, don't they?!
I'll be joining up to the Homestead Barn Hop, so head on over and check out what everyone else has been up to!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rental update at 2 weeks

So it has been (almost) 2 weeks since we took possession back on our rental house, and while it isn't quite ready to be staged, it is coming along. Some parts (the main bathroom) are definitely worse than we thought, and definitely not at the stage I wanted them to be at, but other parts (the doorbell, back doors, front yard in-ground irrigation, and many more) are doing much better than I anticipated or could have dreamed 2 weeks ago. Last week I shared a bit of what we had been up to, but I thought this week, as we head into the weekend, I would share more details with you, in the form of some picture-interspersed lists. So then, here is the list breakdown, with things that we've done crossed off:

Master Bedroom
replace cable outlet
wipe baseboard, door & window trim
install new door & hardware
clean window glass
clean closet mirror door
scrub walls
scrub floor vent
dust/wipe off light fixture
paint baseboard, door, & window trim
touch up wall paint
paint closet (white/color?)

Master Bathroom
scrub walls
 scrub shower & tub
clean toilet in & out
clean mirror
clean counter & sink
wipe baseboard, door & window trim
clean window glass
dust/wipe light fixture
use soap on door
hammer nails in flush in door trim
paint door
paint baseboard, door, & window trim
touch up wall paint
paint ceiling white with ceiling paint
scrub floor vent
strip wax off floor with ammonia
rewax floor

Spare Bedroom
scrub walls
spackle walls
sand spackle
wipe baseboard, window & door trim
clean window glass
rehang curtain
replace door
paint door
paint baseboard, window & door trim
touch up wall paint (repaint?)
paint closet door (?)
paint in closet (?)
scrub floor vent cover

Office Bedroom
fix closet door
scrub walls
spackle walls
sand spackle
touch up wall paint (repaint?)
wipe baseboard, door & window trim
paint baseboard, door & window trim
clean window glass
scrub floor vent

Living Room/Hallway/Closet/Dining Area
remove trim
clean behind trim
level behind trim
scrub walls
cut trim
paint trim
install trim
caulk trim
touch up paint on trim
spackle walls
repaint hallway wall
touch up wall paint
clean ceiling spots
scrub down ceiling vent
scrub 3 floor vents
clean window & door trim
paint front door trim
replace back door
put trim back up on back door
paint back door & trim
replace front door knob
replace back door knob
wipe off dining room light fixture
replace fan in living room
wipe dining room floor down
ammonia floor
rewax floor
scrub door to garage
paint door to garage
clean window glass
fix doorbell
clean entryhall floor
hang curtains
trim curtain tassels flush

remove appliances & clean floor under them
scrub walls
spackle walls
paint tan on east & south walls
touch up paint
replace outlet covers
ammonia floor under appliances
rewax floor under appliances
scrub appliance sides
move appliances back in
replace stove fan filter
wipe out inside all cabinets
wipe down all cabinet & door faces
wipe down fridge
wipe down stove
clean kitchen counters thoroughly
clean sink
clean window glass
fix garbage disposal 
fix plumbing under sink
replace faucet
clean up behind sink
touch up paint behind sink
clean ceiling spots
replace light bulbs with the right bulbs

Main Bathroom
thoroughly clean under laundry & dryer 
trap mice out of dryer vent hose
fix dryer vent hose exit outside
move laundry & dryer out
clean laundry & dryer
move laundry & dryer back in
replace dryer cord
replace dryer vent hose
scrub walls
 remove trim

cut new trim
paint trim
put trim up
caulk trim holes
touch up trim paint
mud around tub
sand mud around tub
finish mud around tub
caulk around tub
spackle walls
sand wall spackle
paint kilz odorblock on lower walls
paint walls (color?)
replace vanity/doors
clean door trim
repaint door trim
clean door
repaint/replace door
scrub floor vent cover
thoroughly clean vent parts in subfloor
replace towel bar
replace toilet paper holder
wire in new light fixture
ammonia floor
rewax floor
hang curtain blocking hot water tank
clean counter & sink
clean tub

Front Yard
weed garden
finish weeding the teensy weeds in the garden
replace garden wood barricade
tidy up the garden space
weed the corner garden
trim lilac in corner
trim rose bush in front
remulch strip beside driveway
get rid of wasps nest above front walk
replace outdoor faucet
shim & screw in outdoor faucet trim
put in-ground sprinklers in
cover sprinklers & pipe up
clean up the yard from piping
set sprinkler coverage up
reseed disturbed areas
put timer on sprinklers
finish the start of the irrigation
replace wood beams
paint new beams green
sand sun down
paint sun green
reattach trellis to new beam
clean front door outside well
sand/scrape wood trim on front door
repaint front door & trim
touch up tan paint on spots beside door
sweep cement walkways
sweep cement driveway pad
clean 4 window/door glass
clean 4 window screens

Back Yard
caulk garage window
touch up green trim paint on garage window
touch up exterior tan paint
get rid of large wasps nest above back door
wire in replacement back porch lights
remove piles of old boards under deck from destroyed planter boxes
replace some boards in deck
clean deck off thoroughly
paint deck guard on deck
pick up dog poop
rake rocks out of yard
get rid of rock & grass piles in yard
clean dirt level in yard up
replace outdoor faucet
screw in outdoor faucet trim

put underground sprinklers in
set sprinkler coverage up
set sprinkler timer up
reseed grass
get rid of pee smell in backyard
hose/scrub off house siding
build new garden gate
hang garden gate
put fencing on garden gate
weed in garden
remove pile of compost & planter boards in garden
hack out all the hops vine coming over the back fence
trim the low branches of the apple tree out of the way
fix side gate latch & hinge

replace furnace air filter
spackle dog scratches on wall by back door
replace back door
install door knob
install dead bolt
replace trim around door
paint door & trim outside
paint door & trim inside
measure broken garage door spring
order garage door spring
install new garage door spring
wipe down door & trim to inside
repaint door & trim to inside
remove garbage compactor
remove all trash & tools
thoroughly sweep
get rid of cobwebs on ceiling & in corners

The list of what we still have to do is sometimes overwhelming me, perhaps especially since I at first wanted to have everything done and the house staged by today... At home I've recently started making my daily to-do lists only ten items long, and if there are more than ten items then I make a note of them at the bottom of my whiteboard. I got the idea from a book I've been reading - Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider (and if you haven't read Tsh's blog - Simple Mom, I would recommend a visit!). I've been really enjoying the book and all the great tips I've been getting from it, and this ten item to-do list is one of the ideas I've been using that has really been helping me feel like I'm on top of things and productive but not overwhelmed. So that's why this whole having a to-do list that is many tens of items long is getting to me!

I've been trying to pick cross 5 things off everytime I'm up there, but there are times when I put more than 5 new things on the list even while I'm crossing some off... It's hard being at the point of still not making noticeable forward momentum on my list! I guess that just means my list wasn't all that complete though! :(

Right before we took possession back we spent a weekend at my mother in law's place near Spokane. She is right on the lake, and so we spent the weekend playing in the water with the dogs, playing in the sand & grass with Little M, going out on the water in the boat or jet-ski's, and just generally enjoying a weekend off. It was a really great break, and we got some great pictures that I should have shared, but I haven't sorted through them yet since the rental house has been keeping me so busy. The good news is that Little M and I are going back this weekend!

I started a closet organizing project there 2 weekends ago but we ran out of time to finish, so I promised to come back, and since this weekend my husband is working 2 nighttime overtime shifts for another department and will be needing to sleep during the day, it worked out perfect to be away from the house for him to get that sleep in. I'll take one of the dogs with me, that way he only has to worry about the older 2 dogs who are pretty good about being let out only infrequently and at odd hours and my chickens, who he will be able to tend to when he gets home at around 7 in the morning before he heads to bed.

So I'll get a good break this weekend, and am really looking forward to organizing all of her quilt fabric and halloween costumes (she buys costumes at thrift stores during the year and then sells them before halloween on ebay and makes pretty good money doing it!). I'm not looking forward to the four hour drive there, or back, with just Little M and I, but she has done ok on that drive in the past. And hopefully she sleeps better than the other night, where she kept herself up until what must have been midnight or later... makes for one tired mama! Here's hoping I come back refreshed and relaxed and ready to dive back into the rental-fixing next week :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On being a cop's wife

I had another post planned, but last night after my husband was called back out, I started writing this post in my head, so I figured I might as well go ahead and write it here & share it with you. You may not know, but my husband is a cop. There, I said it. Now please, don't look at me with those eyes, I'm still the person you thought I was before you found out. And please don't be nice to me just in the hopes he will be then be more lenient towards you.

Luckily I haven't intimately faced those eyes, those nice people. But it happens. Even, and especially, here in our small valley. Here, where I should likely have titled this post 'on being THE cop's wife'. In a small valley where there are only a handful or so officers, and even fewer with wives, I find everyone knows who I am, even when I have no clue who they are.

But enough of that. I meant to write about him. My husband. My cop. Your cop. Because that's what he is. Yesterday he worked a ten hour day, came home almost an hour late, making it almost an eleven hour day, and then before he had been home an hour he was gone again, called back out. Gone before he had time to do much more than eat the dinner leftovers I had saved for him and put away the dishes from the dishwasher. Gone before he had time to take the compost & garbage out, or hang the diapers up to dry.

He is the reason why it is so good that I have a job with flexible hours. If I go in to work a bit later than normal today because I stayed up late doing his chores last night, and stayed home a little extra this morning to play with Little M while he sleeps in since he didn't get back home until hours later, no one will notice and they certainly won't care. His schedule is also the reason why Little M only has to go a couple days a week to daycare. There are definitely mixed blessings that come along with his job, and these few I mention aren't really even scratching the surface of the important stuff.

He went out last night, lights flashing down our little valley before he dipped down out of sight before making the turn to go up-valley and to his town, to respond to some stranger who needed a bit of extra help. I don't begrudge them this, this evening with him, what was supposed to be our relaxed evening in the midst of several weeks filled with dealing with the rental, because while I have never been threatened with serious violence, I can imagine what it would be like.

And knowing that he is going into harms way to help someone else who might not be able to defend themself makes me proud. He does this job without getting much in the way of thanks besides the obvious paycheck & health care benefits. And he certainly gets more than his fair share of complaints, attitude, dirty looks, and cold shoulders. But being a cop is all he has ever wanted to be. And even through the hard times, it is what he wants to keep doing.

I, and we, are fortunate that all I have ever known from him is the cops life. When we first met just over 3 years ago he had already been working here for several years. I can't imagine what it would be like to see someone transform from the person they were, into the person they become when they start dealing with the things these guys (and gals) deal with. Not that they become anything scary or bad, quite the opposite, and just different.

I'm sure it helps that I've never had a bad experience with police officers. I still have fond recollections of the constable who used to come teach school bus safety at the elementary school I went to when I was young. Maybe it's more of a Canadian thing too, to not have had the 'anti-police' thing drilled into me. Or maybe it's just because I was a good kid and never really toed the line. Either way, I'm glad, because it let me start dating him without prejudice getting in my way.

I'm glad that the bits of the job that come home with him, the always being aware of expired tabs when we are on road trips, the never sitting with his back to the entrance at a restaurant, are to me normal - all I've ever known from him. I think it makes day to day life that much more bearable and enjoyable. He is who he is now, and I choose to be proud of that. Proud to call him my husband. Proud to be a cop's wife.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Weeding & Cleaning

This week has been filled with a busy balance of work, mama & wife duties, and landlord duties. I'm finding it hard to multitask - I would rather just be able to concentrate on one thing all day! Then it would seem like I was making faster progress, even though I would likely get just as much done either way :)

This afternoon we will be making the drive across to the nearest Home Depot to get an assortment of things - 2 interior doors, many feet of baseboard trim boards, a couple of gallons of paint, a toilet seat, sprinklers & irrigation tubing, grass seed, deck guard, and maybe some new light fixtures. It will likely be an exhausting afternoon, but I do love browsing around in Home Depot so I'm sure I'll manage :)

I've been mostly splitting my time at the rental house between the worst area (main bathroom/laundry room), and the best area (master bathroom). On one hand I enjoy making the master bath look all pretty, and on the other hand it feels good to get really dirty bits in the main bathroom cleaned up. The professional carpet cleaners will be coming in about an hour, and then I will move on to touching up paint in the bedrooms & living space. I also spent a morning weeding and will spend some more time pruning & weeding this weekend. The front bed areas still look fairly messy, but they look loads better than the overgrown mat of weeds that was there when we got possession of the house back last weekend. The backyard still looks bone dry and in need of some serious attention, but once we get some supplies this afternoon that should start to turn around!

Here are a couple of progress shots:

Hopefully I will be at the point of sharing the true after shots next week, as I'm hoping to blitz through things and get it ready for staging next weekend... However my to do list gets longer every time I look around in there (for example, yesterday while cleaning under the dryer I realized that the dryer power cord had one prong sawed halfway through - talk about unsafe and bizarre!), but I am definitely getting a better handle on what needs to be done, and every time I go in there it seems more and more doable, which is really all I can ask for at this point!
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