Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Visit from the Gaggle

Well I don't know if the neighbors took their dog and went out of town for the weekend or what, but these clowns have been struttin' around like they own the place. There's another pair that only has three goslings, but this particular pair is like goose Duggars. Stop pooping on my lawn, Goose Duggars. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sometimes the Roomba...

... gets trapped between the legs of the kitchen table and chairs. And then it awkwardly repositions itself about 50 times before it finds a narrow path out again. Or sometimes it just mounts one of those sloping legs on the kitchen table and can't back up again, so it says, "Error. Move Roomba to a new location," and then shuts down. I changed the language to Spanish for a while but Eric didn't think that was funny. Which is odd, because his Spanish is much better than mine. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bubble Hockey Miracle

Before we found this place, when we were just looking for a house--a house that would theoretically not need all of the mechanicals replaced within a year of moving in--Eric had a dream. Eric's dream was that when we got a house and had room for it, he would own the Super Chexx 1980 Miracle on Ice Bubble Hockey game. It was a nice dream, especially if you were Eric.

Yada yada yada, we found this place and any money that might have been semi-earmarked for bubble hockey was instead diverted to Really Exciting Purchases like a furnace and a water softener. We realized that there would never be a time in our lives when we would say, "Sure, it is totally acceptable to drop four figures on a bubble hockey game right now." Like, hahahahaha, what? No.

But I wanted Eric to know that the bubble hockey dream didn't have to die... we'd just have to inch toward it slowly. So for our anniversary I started the Bubble Hockey Fund, which was a glass canister with a sticker on the outside that had a bar graph to color in for every $100 increment up to the goal. (Tangent: I had a little speech prepared for giving this jar to Eric; I was going to make it really nice, like, "Honey, I haven't forgotten your dream and we're going to get there eventually." Then we went out to dinner on our anniversary and I enjoyed some delicious cocktails, which might have contributed to me dropping the jar and shattering it on the floor of the garage as soon as we got home that night, before I could even give the speech. So in the end "the speech" was more like me handing Eric a bag of broken glass with a $100 bill in it and slurring, "This is fer yer DREAM.")

Anyway... I got a new jar and that was the start of the fund. Both of our families contributed at Christmas, and Eric also cashed in some credit card rewards points he'd been letting build up. It was slow and steady, and with new contributions from me, my parents and Eric's mom for his birthday last week, the fund was up to about half the final goal. Not too shabby!

(The fact that this jar is empty may give away the rest of the story.)

This is when Eric got antsy and started browsing Craigslist, where he found two non-Miracle-edition Super Chexx games. And even though he had originally told me that he HAD to have the Miracle version--he would Accept No Substitutes--the prospect of having bubble hockey sooner rather than later became very tempting.

So that's how we found ourselves in Mound last weekend, where we purchased a secondhand bubble hockey game in pretty great condition. We even negotiated the price down $400 from what it was listed for, so in the end we paid just a hair more than what was in the official fund. AND, the lovely woman we bought it from then helped us drive it back to our place, refused to take any gas money for her trouble, and sincerely wished us a nice life.

Eric's life is certainly nicer now that he can check this off his list. Co-starring in this photo is his friend Wayne, who plays this game like the little plastic men are a natural extension of himself. It is astounding to watch.

The fund did its job so well that now we're thinking we should keep it going for another "There's never going to be a good time to spend that kind of money on a non-essential" thing. The front-runner: a rowing machine.

I don't know if you'd guess it, but this one wasn't Eric's idea.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Further Evidence That We Are Clueless

File this under "additional things we didn't know because we weren't around last spring": So, those three trees alongside the driveway, the ones that looked kinda sad and thirsty when we moved in, that we neglected all last summer and fall?

They are gorgeous flowering foxy babes right now. Here's where I really reveal how much I don't know: Umm, what is the name for this tree and how do I make it LIVE FOREVER?

Also, the lettuce has sprouted. As have the beans. My book says I have to thin these out now. But they're so wee and helpless! I hold their seedling lives in my hands. THE POWER. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Related Thing I Learned This Week

Did you know that you can pull dandelions out of your lawn for hours, literally hours, and then wake up the next morning and see like 15 g-d little yellow blooms in your yard, which totally were not there yesterday, meaning they literally grew like 300 percent overnight, like they're on plant 'roids or something? Did you know this could happen? And when your parents told you a month ago that you needed to apply herbicide RIGHT THEN, or you'd be sorry, and you were all, "Oh blah blah, runoff, water quality, I'm a hippie and I'm not going to do that, blah blah," your parents were actually 100 percent correct? And even still you could have applied corn gluten meal, which is totally eco friendly, but now you have missed the springtime window and you are doomed to pull dandelions all summer long. You are doomed and your lawn is doomed. "Your lawn." How did we get here, in life?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Springtime Outdoor Serious Business

When I first moved in with Eric a few years ago, I felt strangely and strongly compelled to tidy up the place, set up cleaning routines, and generally "make it nice." In my own place before that, I did the usual decorating and occasional cleaning, but what happened in my brain when I moved in with Eric was a completely different thing. "Aww, you're nesting!" my hairdresser said when I told her about it. I said that I thought nesting was just for pregnant women, and she said, "No, it just means you want to feel settled."

I'm thinking about this again lately because now that it's spring, and our first spring in the house, that compulsive feeling is back, and I really think that it has more to do with biology than with my Type-A nature. There's also the fact that while there are hundreds of future projects around here that could be done at any time of year, there is a limited window of time for spring projects, and unfortunate consequences if you don't get them done. Your lawn will be overtaken by weeds. A tree limb will fall on your house. Your garden will be stunted. DIRE THINGS. Etc.

So I took the past week off of work to take care of spring business. This Sunday will be the one-year anniversary of the day when we first saw this house, but back then we weren't really attuned to the subtle spring stuff taking place outside; it was more like, "OMG NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE THIS HOUSE MAKE OFFER NOW NOW NOW." Then we didn't really see it up close again until we took possession in July.

So we missed the little things, like ferns and hostas coming out.

That fern/hosta planting bed is now sharing space with my new composter. The city was selling these at a discount, so I decided to try it out. It doesn't reek yet, so let's count that as a success. 

Also included in the spring cleanup: emptying all of the left-behind planters and reevaluating which ones should stay in use. For the massive planter on the deck, the "emptying" process involved laboriously rolling it over to the edge of the deck, then dumping out the potting soil onto a tarp spread on the ground below. This process probably looked highly questionable to the neighbors. 

After emptying out the dirt, I found the clever pot filler the previous owner had used for drainage. Okay then!

My parents gave Eric this birdbath at Christmas, partly because he didn't have that many things on his wishlist, and partly because they knew I would find it distasteful. Eric finally put it outside today. Let's just say I will not be that upset if it is broken by marauding raccoons. 

But I WILL be upset if raccoons trash my garden! This is actually what I've spent the most time on this week. It's a square foot garden, which basically means that I had to drive all over creation to find the correct type of compost, peat moss and vermiculite to fill it. But the book I read promised that I will be richly rewarded for my efforts. Rewarded with things like... Swiss chard! I am not really sure what that is, but I planted some!

Okay, little garden. You can do it. I took this whole week off for you, and I'm going to try to remember to give you water from here forward. Let's see how it goes. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Curtains! They actually happened!

 Bam. Curtains!

It actually happened. I was not lying to you last week, though last week's post did suggest that I would be the one making the curtains, and as it turned out it was really a joint project between my mom and me. Which is wonderful, because if it had been my project alone it would have never gotten done. 

I went to my parents' house last weekend and we made a day of it, basically. That time was on top of the previous weekend's time, when I spent approximately 8 hours ironing, cutting and pinning the panels on my own. So this project probably required 20-24 woman-hours in total. I am not kidding. It was totally masochistic. Of course it would have gone faster for someone who knew what they were doing, but I haven't done a fabric-y project since Home Ec in 7th grade. Thank bejeebus my mom was the one running the sewing machine.

At some point my dad asked me, "Why couldn't you just have bought pre-made curtains?" And I told him honestly that I found this fabric on Spoonflower while we were still planning the kitchen, fell in love with it, and planned to use it for the curtains before considering how much work that would actually be. 

But now they're DONE. We wanted cafe curtains for the dining area because these windows get the best light in the house (not evidenced on this cloudy day) but they are very open to the street. So these let us keep the light but add privacy for things like semi-clothed dashes to the laundry room. 

Ikea Deka
I was having a hard time finding affordable inside-mount cafe curtain rods, and then we found the Deka system from Ikea for $7 each. Score. However, let me put this on the internet for fellow Ikea Deka installers (everyone else can skip along because this will get boring):  I have long prided myself on my ability to decipher and follow Ikea instructions, but these ones had me cursing a blue streak before I found this. Scroll down for the comments. The secret is- on step five, don't tighten the left bracket all the way. Try about halfway. On step eight, it shows clipping the wire even with the end of the right bracket, but you can yourself give a little extra. Then on step 10, you'll be tightening the wire by turning both the left and right brackets. You can see in this photo that my wire was taut before the bracket was fully tightened. I decided I can live with that because it feels really secure but if I wanted to fix it I would just cut a slightly longer length of wire and try again. There you go. Happy installing.

And now some notes for any fellow curtain-making masochists out there: I made each panel the same width as the window and used these instructions for the double-fold hems: 1" on the top and sides, and 2" on the bottoms. These would have been half the work except I wanted to line them, and the best way my mom and I figured to do that was to make a separate panel from the white fabric in slightly smaller dimensions, then sew the two panels together with just one straight seam across the top. I folded back the white lining in this pic to show how it's not attached except at the top. Are there probably other, better approaches to this? Yes. Did we break nearly every needle in my mom's sewing machine and almost have to make a midnight run to the 24-hour Sioux Falls Walmart? Yes. So... take our method with a grain of salt.
Hey, remember when we moved in and the entire house smelled like cat pee and the kitchen looked like this?

We still want to do a backsplash and add more art, but this kitchen is by and large DONE. Dang, that is gratifying. I am a lucky gal and this whole endeavor has been swell. 

One more before shot of the bay window and our just-moved-in disarray. 

I want to eat lunch here every day.

Aaaand I finally found the gif I've been looking for. Happy spring, happy weekend, gang!