Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chicken Hair

My new best friend.
The Big Clean Sweep of 2011 has morphed into The Big Move 2011, or Our Journey Back to The Promised Land.

I'm too tired to do more than post a few pictures. All I've done all day is sit on the couch and doodle in my sketchbook so I'm not exhausted from effort. But the moving guys were here promptly at 8 a.m. this morning and I didn't get to bed last night as early as I had planned.

Our friend and realtor, Jamie Knight, got the sign up on the house before Jayson went back to Houston last weekend but it won't officially be on the market for another day or two. That's okay. Jamie has plenty of time to get the house sold since the deadline we gave him isn't until June 1.

Our moving guys packed themselves silly all day long today and still have some things to finish up tomorrow. Then they'll load the truck and head for Houston. This is the second time we've had a moving company pack up our stuff for us and it has proven to be very entertaining both times. The guys we have this time are all very nice and friendly. And chatty. Which those of you who know me well know that chatty isn't my favorite thing. Unless I'm doing the chatting. Then it's perfectly fine.

The last time we had a moving company pack us, the best thing about it was the way they labeled some of the boxes. Taylor had some peacock feathers in her room that the movers carefully rolled in padded paper, taped within an inch of its life and labeled it "chicken hair". I held on to that wrapping for years cuz chicken hair just makes me laugh. So far I haven't run into any labels of that caliber but here are a few that are worth mentioning:
I don't know what a gulf ball is but apparently we have a glass case for it.
This is just a careless misspelling. It should be nicK nacks.
This is not really a misspelling, just an unusual way of writing. We all know what it says but it looks like pots/paws. And there's even another box of just paws.
This one is my favorite so far. Yes, we Greens have silver bowels.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Silk Tie Dyed Eggs

I colored my Easter eggs today and I love how they turned out so much that I thought I'd share the process. It's not my process, I ripped it off from Martha Stewart so you can visit her website for instructions too.

Here's what you need: 
  • raw eggs
  • vinegar
  • silk ties, boxers, pajamas, scarves or any other silk you're willing to mutilate
  • white or light colored scrap fabric such as a bed sheet or muslin
  • rubber bands or twist ties

I wanted to get as much silk from my ties as possible so I used a seam ripper to take them apart. If you don't care about wasting some of the silk, you could just whack off a section of the tie.

I used 6 different ties and even saved the little lining pieces from them too.

Cut a piece of silk large enough to wrap completely around the egg. One neck tie will do several eggs.

Place the egg on the right side of the silk, wrap tightly and secure with a rubber band or twist tie. After I secured the silk with a rubber band, I cut off the excess then used those scraps to make some patchwork eggs which ended up being my favorites.

The wrapping doesn't have to be perfect as long as all of the egg surface is covered. The next step will help with that too.

Now cut a piece of your white scrap fabric large enough to fit around your silk wrapped egg. Secure this with a rubber band or twist tie as well.

Place your eggs in a large pot and add enough water to completely cover them.

Add a splash of white vinegar to the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until they're done the way you like them.

Remove the eggs from the pot and let them cool

Unwrap the eggs and check out their funkiness! I read somewhere that you can reuse the silk but the results will be lighter. I wasn't interested in testing that theory so I chunked it. But I did save the little pieces of white scrap fabric so I can reuse them the next time I do this.

The eggs come out with a matte finish so if you want them to have a sheen you can rub them with a little vegetable oil. That's my fancy oil bottle that I got at the Dollar Tree.

Here are some close ups of a few of the eggs. The pattern on this one transferred really well. There was an eagle on the tie and you can still clearly see its wings.

This is one of the patchwork eggs I made using scraps from several different ties. I think next time I will do them all like this.

This purple egg was wrapped with a piece of solid black silk from the lining of one of the ties.

I love how the colors and patterns are randomly variegated.

I lined my basked with a vintage tea towel which made a perfect background for the eggs.

That's all there is to it! The only difficult part might be finding patterned silk that you can cut up but now we have a whole year to work on hoarding it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Does it hurt to be that stupid? Why, yes. Yes it does.

Me and poison ivy go back about 15 years. Since I'm not much of a nature girl I never experienced it as a child. It wasn't unil I had a house of my own with a yard to take care of that the two if us got acquainted.

It's not that I don't like nature, in fact I love it. I just prefer to experience it through the large window of a climate controlled and insect free room, that's all.

About 15 years ago I was helping my grandmother with some yard work at her house. She had a beautifully landscaped yard where everything grew so well that she often had to thin it out.

We were thinning ground cover and she told me I could take some home to plant in my yard if I wanted to. Well heck yeah I wanted to! It was pretty and it was free. So I dug up a variety of ground covers, took them home and planted them in my yard.

There were several different varieties and one of them she didn't have very much of so I only took a small section. Yep. I didn't realize it was poison ivy. I planted it in my yard on purpose, I watered it, fertilized it, and nurtured it into a healthy, robust vine. All while I was going to the doctor to try to determine what kind of mysterious rash I had that wouldn't go away. He kept telling me it looked like poison ivy but I kept arguing that it was impossible because I hadn't been anywher near the woods. Ever. I think it was Jayson who finally set me straight.

Since then me and poison ivy have hooked up several times but at least I did learn what it looks like enough to avoid it or anything that resembles it. I rarely come in direct contact with it, but instead I usually touch something that it has touched. That includes air.

That's what happened a few days ago while I was doing some major yard work. I saw the vine growing in a pile of dead branches that I had to move. I carefully cut the vine and discarded it. Problem solved. Except for this next part where I went stupid.

This big pile of dead branches needed to be moved from the side of the house to the curb. It would have taken me dozens of trips back & forth if I'd tried to carry them on my own and that didn't feel like the most efficient way to solve this problem. I thought it would be better if I could somehow drag the mass to the curb. That would mean fewer trips and less stress on the ol' bod since dragging is easier than lifting.

Impressed with my own brilliance I got an old moving blanket from the garage, laid it next to the branch pile and loaded it up with as many branches as I thought I could comfortably drag by pulling the end of the blanket. It worked like a charm and I had the branches cleared in 4 blanket loads.

I was so awed by my own ingenuity that I imagined my neighbors looking at me through the windows of their climate controlled and insect free homes, and saying to each other, "Wow, look how smart she is!" "I would never have thought to drag those branches on a blanket." "That's so amazing!" "She really saved herself a lot of work." "I wish I was a genius like she is."

It never once occurred to me that the little sprig of poison ivy I had carefully disposed of might be part of a larger vine. I never once thought that I might not be able to identify that vine if it had been hidden in the dark under those branches and therefore had no leaves. It didn't cross my mind to keep the blanket away from the area where that hidden, leafless vine was growing. Not once did I consider it a bad idea to gather the empty blanket up in my arms to carry it back to the pile after I had dumped it's load.

I was so impressed with my glorious problem solving skills that I never realized how incredibly stupid and careless I was being around a plant that I am highly sensitive to if not downright allergic. I'm pretty sure that blanket, along with my own ignorance, is the source of my current suffering.

There's a picture reel playing in my head of me rolling a branch loaded blanket on top of the branch pile at the curb then literally laying across the back of that blanket to squash the branches down a little before gathering it up in my arms to return for another load.

Aarrrrggghhh! This is one of those situations where I could really use a time machine. If I could just go back and not be a careless idiot I wouldn't be covered in seeping blisters that would make Job cringe.

No use playing the "if only" game. What's done is done. The problem now is what to do with the Evil Blanket Of Doom and the trash cans I filled up with dead leaves when I raked after the branches were moved. Oh, and the rake itself. I wore gardening gloves the whole time but I did have sense enough to throw them away. I threw away my water bottle just today because I remembered holding it with my gloved hand. I've cleaned all the doorknobs but I can't remember exactly what I was wearing on the day I got it. I've washed all my clothes but those sill need to be washed with a degreaser to remove the poison. Oh, and my shoes! Or rather, Taylor's shoes. Dang, she's not gonna be happy about that. I wore her cute silver sequined flip flops because they have spongy soles that makes them really comfortable. And really porous. May they rest in peace.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Glamorous Surburan Housewife Pummels Neighbor With a Flat of Petunias

The yard work is done and I'm sure my neighbors are relieved to not have to deal with one more day of The Braless Wonder. Lest you might think that sounds sort of hot, let me assure you that it most definitely is not.

I began my 3-day adventure wearing a tank top with a built-in bra. You know, the ones that make it look like you've got a speed bump across your chest? By day 3, which was this morning, I was forced to abandon the tank tops since my back is sunburned so badly that we could use it as a hot plate if our electricity goes out. I chose a plain white t-shirt but was forced to forgo appropriate undergarments because of the burn. In fact, I would like to have forgone the t-shirt as well but even I know that would probably have been frowned upon.

So there I was, working like a dog as the sweat pooled at the waist band of my shorts as well as under my booblical area. Unfortunately, those two areas are in the exact same place which means I either had my shorts pulled up way too high or my breasticles were hanging way too low without their usual cast iron underwire.

Add to that my blinding white legs that are a roadmap of spider veins but now also include dozens of cuts, scrapes and puncture wounds as well as a lovely scattering of poison ivy blisters. Oh, and they're hairy as well because I can't shave over all the wounds.

Pretty, huh?

Since the poison ivy and the sunburn are battling to see who can make Shannon the most miserable, I fought back by doing an internet search for home remedies. I found that vinegar is effective on sunburns as well as poison ivy AND I already have vinegar on hand. Score! After my shower this afternoon I filled a spray bottle with vinegar and sprayed my affected areas, which is my whole body. The vinegar did indeed take the sting out of the sunburn but it transferred it to all the cuts and scrapes I've got. And it only lasted about 20 minutes but it was better than nothing. It didn't do anything for the poison ivy blisters so I used Ivarest on them. My medicine cabinet is cleaned out which means no expired products, if that tells you how often I get poison ivy. I think the stuff is a placebo anyway but again, it's better than nothing.

On a happier note, I'm getting a little better at controlling my leaf blower. I've been practicing so that my neighbor won't make me look so bad. Her name is Mrs. Hazel and she's 80 years old if she's a day. That woman wields her leaf blower like it was Excalibur. She intimidates me.

Most of my yard work was cleaning all the weeds and dead leaves out the flower beds. That's what's in all those black trash bags. That's also after I hired a lawn service to do that job for me. Yeah, I won't be doing that again. Then I trimmed all the shrubbery in the front and back yards. I actually sort of like doing that. With the exception of one big holly bush on the side of the house, most of our shrubs are camellias, azaleas and gardenias. I like my shrubs to look like giant bonsais. I don't like them square or round or even a thick free-form mess. I like them trimmed up from the bottom, away from the back, and thinned out in the middle. I think Edward Scissorhands would be proud.

Last spring Jayson trimmed the cypress tress and the Chinese elm trees that we have in the back yard. He took off some big branches and just tossed them over the fence to the front side yard that's sort of hidden. And there they sat. For a year. Then he moved to Houston, leaving me to deal with a huge pile of dead branches.

Oh. And just in case that wasn't bad enough...that's where the poison ivy was growing. I hauled that huge pile of branches to the curb, by myself, infecting myself with poison ivy in the process and dreaming up ways to get revenge on my darling husband. I texted him a picture of the pile he left and asked him to remind me to punch him in the face the next time I see him.

My other neighbor came out for a chat and we were talking about how much work I'd done and how Jayson needed a good punch in the face for leaving me extra work to do. She said, "Ooohhh, I know exactly what you mean. My husband just left for a job and we've got to get these petunias in the ground. I guess I'll just have to do it myself."

I looked down at her petunia plants, about a dozen of them, then over at the huge pile of branches on my curb. I decided that Jayson wasn't the only one who needed a good punch in the face.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The only bad thing about nature is that it's outside.

Take one Shannon, add a day of yard work, mix well, and here's what you get:

5 bags of lawn trash
1 sweat soaked set of clothing
Countless angry and now homeless lizards
3 and a half (yucky poo) juicy worms
2 snakes
1 flip flop full of sap
2 blisters
10 nails in desperate need of a manicure
1 headache
And dozens of fire ant bites because I stood on an ant bed and didn't bother to look down to investigate the stinging sensation on my lower extremities until they had worked their way up to my knees.

If my luck holds out maybe I'll wake up tomorrow with poison ivy.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Big Clean Sweep Finale

I'm done. My garage is clean. Or clean enough anyway. Instead of rambling about it I'll just let the pictures do the talking. There's a lot of them so they might take a while to load. For a refresher on how bad it was, you can refer to these pictures.
View to the left.
View to the right.
The back wall. That big cardboard box is full of packing peanuts that I need to use.
See that cabinet on the wall? See how that left door is right under the garage door? That's how I broke the garage door. It wasn't my fault. Whoever hung that cabinet is clearly to blame.
There were already some nails and hooks in the wall so I just used what was there.
We bought our house from the architect who designed and built it. He left behind this little cubby thing that was in a closet where he kept some of his designs. It weighs a ton and half so we moved it to the garage and use it as a tool holder.
More of those cheesy wire shelves that I love so much. They're perfect for corralling all the work boots that tend to get kicked off at the door.
This is the sporting goods closet.
That stuff in the corner isn't sporting goods but it fits there nicely.
The top shelf is paint that goes with the house.
Another unused peg board. We obviously have some kind of peg board issues.
Hunting and fishing gear.
The bottom 2 boxes are full of ammo.
I love shelves.
Everything has been sorted and neatly labeled.
I may need a bigger box for extension cords. It's already crammed full.
This corner used to be full of scrap wood.
This makes me happy.
I labeled the shelves so that when I'm unpacking after we move it will be easier to remember where everything goes.
I didn't buy any kind of containers or organizing supplies during this whole Clean Sweep. I just used what I had on hand so there are a lot of random, mismatched containers.
Yes, that's 2 shelves for bug killers: little bug killers and big bug killers. Big and little don't refer to the size of the bug but rather the amount of stress that particular bug causes me.

That's John. John Deere. He's not dead, he's just resting.
All the drawers in the work benches are labeled. There are empty tool boxes on the shelf below the drawers. I couldn't part with them because they're containers. You never know when you'll need to contain something.
Misc. Hand Tools means stuff I couldn't identify.
I did a lot of rearranging during this process but this works for now anyway.
I know. You wish I was your wife.
Yes, those are my own personal drill bits.
That cabinet behind the step ladders is a little slice of awesome but you'll have to wait till we move into the new house to see what that's all about.
I'm amazed at how perfectly everything fit just where I needed it.
This is the second work bench.
I left the pegboard almost empty so that Jayson would have something to do.
The drill is on the left, it's not in a box because it's something we use pretty regularly.
There's a very good reason that I used gold labels for the garage...
...the reason is because I ran out of white.
We need one of those organizer things with the tons of little drawers for all these screws and nails. Until then, this will have to do.
I'm not happy with these 2 drawers but it was the best I could do with what I had on hand.
More stuff hung from hooks that were already there.
These trunks have childhood memorabilia in them. Sorting through that stuff will be a project for after we move.

I ran out of big plastic bins and had to use cardboard boxes, which I hate.
Just to recap. Before.
And now I must nap.