Tag Archives: House and Garden

What a Busy Weekend!

What a Busy Weekend!

Saturday we went to a party. The hostess had gone all out – rented inflatable amusements for the kids, hired a couple of bands, rented a raw bar and a bar for drinks, and hired people to take care of food and cleanup. Her husband now has two years to save up for a similar shindig for her next big birthday. Heh.

Sunday, some Freecyclers picked up our hot tub, and we spent the day pulling up bricks and digging out hot tub conduit, spreading and leveling sand (and buying it, which is a job in itself) and assembling a pool for the kids. And us, I think. It’s one of those ones that’s a liner supported by a metal frame, and we’d gotten it filled about two feet by the time we realized there was a tiny leak – at the bottom. *sigh* So we drained it overnight, I patched it this morning, and we have to wait until 7 tonight to try filling it again. I’m tired, tired, tired. At some point, though, I have to get some river rocks or something because the cats have decided that all that sand is for them. Yuck.

Now What???!?!?

Now What???!?!?

The house is done. It looks great. I’m kind of at loose ends, what with not expecting a bunch of guys to start sawing and hammering and stuff at 8AM. Worse still, it means I now must track down a reliable mason and a good flooring place, plus empty out the garage and figure out where to put things and insulate and drywall and spackle and paint and install shelving and lighting. . .my brain hurts!!!

I have a feeling Freecycle.org is going to get a lot of posts from me soon. I have about eight people interested in taking the hot tub off my hands (I called all the local pool and spa places – they’ll put ’em in, but you can’t get rid of an old one without buying a new one. The slimy bastiges!!) and someone who’ll take the hangers. Soon it’ll be a couple of storage cabinets, toys, tools. . .OMG, anything, as long as I don’t have to find a place to put it!!!

And, of course, I can go back and do work on the garden and lawn if I get bored with all that. Heh.

What I Want to Do vs. What I Have to Do.

What I Want to Do vs. What I Have to Do.

I’ve been up for only a little more than an hour, but my Adderall hasn’t kicked in, so my brain has been busybusybusy. I can’t really get started until I can separate out, mentally, which things have to get done, and which things would be exercises in futility. Heh. I must go grocery shopping and do laundry. I need to clean up my sewing table, get the clay stuff put away neatly so I can use it again (and transport it Sunday) and spread out my pattern pieces so I can tell my friend how many yards of fabric she needs to buy for me to make her a slipcover. I want to finish a couple of clay pieces so I have something to play with on Sunday, but I can do that Saturday.

OK, as I’m posting this, I can feel my thoughts calming down. The competition is narrowing, and I can concentrate on one or two things at a time. Amazing. The problem is that I borrowed a bunch of landscaping books from the library yesterday. We want to hire a landscape architect to draw up a plan for us. We can’t afford to do everything at once, but if we have a plan made up, we can figure out which steps we can afford from year to year. The idea was that we’d collect some pictures so we could point out elements we wanted incorporated into the plan, but the reality was that it filled me with all kinds of ideas of possibilities, and got the brain going on a million different potential projects. I had a lot of trouble staying asleep last night, and the moment I woke up I was thinking of things I could do. Yeah, in this heat, I’m going to pull up the slate patio, dig it out and lay sand, make a cinderblock border, fill it with level sand, stucco the outside of the blocks and re-set the slate, and then I’ll rake out the back corner and level that and set up the tent, and then I’ll make a raised cinderblock planter, stucco that and cut slate to make an edge, fill it with dirt, and plant bamboo, then dig in some posts around the patio, bolt in some crosspieces and plant wisteria, which will grow (miraculously) all across the supports, providing dappled shade. . .and I’ll still have time for grocery shopping, laundry, and sewing. Oh, my.

Heck, I haven’t even done the stuff I have planned to do for ages, or the stuff I bought supplies to do. . .whatever. We have no construction guys coming today, because even though our window arrived yesterday, one of the guys is off, and they need a full crew. Tomorrow morning, a woman is coming to take some fish off my hands, hubby’s going to a funeral far, far away, but other than that, nothing on the calendar. Sunday I’m claying with friends. I have enormous amounts of time on my hands, but when I’m not pharmaceutically enhanced, I can’t grasp that concept and run around in circles unable to do anything. (My therapist is trying to introduce me to the concept of “relaxing”, but I’m trying to get him to understand that for me, doing things IS relaxing. Heh. Here, Dr. P – have some beads!) Plus, you know, I’ve found that if I do outdoor stuff after dinner, I can get a lot accomplished with that extra few hours of light, and less heat.

So, anyway, now I’m focusing even better, and I know I’m going to exercise, shower, put the thank-you notes in envelopes, make the menus and shopping list, do the shopping, and have plenty of time for laundry, sewing stuff, and then fit in some other things as well. It’s all good.

No Construction Today

No Construction Today

We’re waiting for a window to arrive, and once they have it, our contractors will finish the house. Then it’ll be our turn – drywall around the new doors and windows, paint, hang shelves, re-organize. . .it’s still going to be a while before we have our art studio. But we will have it.

So today is quiet, the weather is sunny and breezy, and I’m going to do laundry and hang it out on the line to dry. I love the smell of line dried fabric. Maybe we’ll hit the library after my doctor’s appointment, then I’ll throw together a quick dinner and take Audrey out to her first marching band practice.

Pond Activity

Pond Activity

So I’m doing the pond maintenance thing, backflushing and cleaning the filter media, and discovered our frog hiding in the bottom of the filter/spillway:
frog-in-hand.jpg
At first, when we found it, I was concerned that it would eat the fish. Not today, though, because I discovered more shubunkin fry in the pond. I have no idea how they got there – our two adult shubunkins are both male, and the rest are too small to breed. Or so I thought. Hubby suggests they might have come in as eggs on one of the new plants. *sigh* So we plopped the frog into the pond and hoped he was hungry. We also have many, many tiny snails, which is good news, because we thought we might have killed them all with the fish medicine, and they’re algae eaters.

Strangely enough, we were talking just today about how best to euthanize fish. The shubunkins that are indoors in the tank have eaten almost all of one of their siblings’ fins and tail. He/she is not a well fish, and it’s taking a long time to pass away. Days. It’s very sad to watch. So we have a sick fish in the tank, too many fish in the pond, and something humane has to be done about it. Fortunately, Doctors Foster and Smith sell a fish anesthesia (at a mighty fine profit, I might add) that will work as painless euthanasia at a higher dose. I read about a number of other methods, and believe me, I’d rather pay too much money and avoid the guilt of those. If only we could just train the blue heron to feed selectively. . .

Yesterday – Much Less Eventful.

Yesterday – Much Less Eventful.

Hubby was working from home, so I left him to supervise the contractor dudes (they don’t need it, but sometimes they ask questions before they do something. And you need to make sure there are cold beverages in the cooler for them. . .)

I had done a bunch of research on Ong’s Hat, thinking at first that it would be a really cool Weird NJ trip. As it turns out, there’s nothing there, unless you hike several miles through tick land, and even then not much. So instead we drove down Ong’s Hat road just to say we’d been. Afterwards, we did the tour of the old Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. It was small, but worth the admission, and it was interesting. We didn’t experience any supernatural activity, as I’d expected but as Audrey had hoped. (it made her feel creepy though, so that’s good for something.) Then off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, lunch at the restaurant above Han Ah Reum in Cherry Hill (very yummy! We’ll go back, for certain!) and pot and plant perusal at McNaughton’s Nursery. I sure wish I could keep a palm of any kind alive. They had a bunch of really interesting varieties, but I can’t see spending that much money on something I’ll kill in record time.

I’ve explored different routes between Audubon and Toms River on these trips. I found that Route 38 beats Route 70 hands down, but it doesn’t exist east of Route 206. At that point, it becomes 530, and since I know it later connects to 70 near Lakehurst, I thought I’d give it a try. Eh. Not so good an alternative. It takes you through “business district” Pemberton, which is depressingly ramshackle, and at several points where you’re on the straight part of a T instersection, you need to turn to stay on 530, rather than go straight – and you find this out after you went straight. I’d have to say it wasn’t much of a timesaver, and it wasn’t more scenic, either. But you never know if you don’t try.

Got home, and WHOA! we have lovely seamless gutters the exact same color of the trim, with the downspouts positioned along the vertical trim, so nicely done that I didn’t even notice they were there. Woohoo! It brought my attention to the weeds growing between the street and the curb. They looked yucky, the weather was cool, and it was still light out, so I used two of my least favorite power tools, the weed whacker and then the leaf blower, to clean it up. Much nicer. I’ll break out the Round-Up as new ones emerge. After the dumpster and all the construction stuff is gone, it’ll be time for a second dose of weed and feed on the lawn, compost distribution, and regular watering again. Then pictures of our fab new look.

Why No New Posts, Alison?

Why No New Posts, Alison?

Umm. . .umm. . .

I’ve been in a more receptive than productive mode, actually. I cruise around the web, see all kinds of things I would comment upon. . .if everyone else on earth hadn’t done it all ready. There’s not much point in simply adding another voice to the cacaphony, so I just leave brief comments and be done with it.

My internet time has been a bit more limited, too. The guys who are replacing our siding and fixing the soffits and installing the gutters and closing off the garage have been here every day, so I’ve been going out to chat, approve things, talk timelines, and all the stuff you do with contractors. Plus, I’ve been away from the garden so I don’t get in their way. Plus, they keep knocking the cable loose and I lose the internet. Heh. (This happens when the cable is loose on the ground waiting to be secured to the house, and right in the major traffic pattern between supplies and work. I’m not saying anything bad about these guys. They’re great.)

I’ve been playing around with clay, and have discovered that Fimo is way better for me than Sculpey. I’m still new at this, and don’t have enough precision to make consistent pieces, and the Sculpey becomes very soft and pliable, which makes it worse. The Fimo is stiffer, so my little adjustments don’t become big mushy things. I got some tools yesterday from Polymer Clay Express, only a couple of days after I placed the order, and they should help a lot with consistency. A couple of marking tools, forms for cabochons, bead rollers. . .In a few weeks, I’ll be able to put it all in an organized fashion in the new art studio and be able to sew again, too.

In between, I’ve been doing things around the house. Audrey now has a normal closet rod. She and Carolyn and I have all our clothes hanging from commercial hangers that are 14 inches wide instead of the normal 17 inches (10 inches for children’s hangers). No more little bumps at the tops of my sleeves. I also hung up a closet doubler rod (a rod suspended from two vertical rods that hook to the main one, so you have an upper and a lower rod) and went through my clothes, getting rid of stuff I don’t wear, stuff I don’t think I look good in, stuff I outgrew. . .more things will be on their way out when I have things to replace them with. You need to have pants, even if they make your butt look huge, because you can’t go out in underwear.

While the girls and I were out yesterday, we stopped in the Ocean Pet Center on Fischer Blvd., and met one of the volunteers for SAVE, which helps out the TR Animal Shelter because the town doesn’t support it well enough. I’m thinking of helping out – start small and see how I like it. They need people, and I love animals and like to do things that actually make a difference. We also checked out the Chinese restaurant in the same mall, Dynasty, and were pleasantly surprised. It’s a small place, only two tables, so it’s really a take-out more than anything, but it was really, really clean. That counts for a lot. The dumpling skins were a little thick, but they were homemade and tasty. We’ll just tell them next time to make things a wee bit more spicy.

We haven’t been to the beach yet. I’ve been letting the girls sleep in, we’ve had some afternoon things going on that would interrupt a trip. . .we’ll get out there soon, though. Friday we’re going to make a stop in Ong’s Hat on the way to Grandma’s house to see if it’s really weird. I hope we don’t get sucked into the vortex.

Stuff Going On

Stuff Going On

We’re starting to ease into summer bit by bit around here. Audrey has had her graduation, graduation dance, graduation party, graduation sleepover. . .so that’s done. We still have some construction happening. The garage is on its way to becoming an art studio, the new siding should be on the house by the end of the week, and a door and a window should be arriving soon. The second dumpster will be full very soon, meaning much crap will be emptied out of the house and yard. Woohoo! Speaking of emptied out. . .
pond-june-16-2007.jpg

Oh, wait. This photo doesn’t show it. Well, take my word for it, the pile o’wood in the back corner is gone. We’ll level it out and let the kids have a tent there for a while. Pond plants are proliferating. Gotta hit Lowe’s and finish up the cedar mulching and call a landscaper to discuss design and pricing. If nothing else, we NEED stairs going up from the sidewalk to the front door so we can stop worrying about someone getting killed slipping on the driveway.

Serendipity!

Serendipity!

So, we’ve been organizing, rearranging, culling out useless stuff bit by bit. Audrey got a loft bed, so we disassembled the old one and rearranged her room. We decided the IKEA Pax units weren’t working for fabric storage (or much of anything else) in the family room, so we reassembled my garment racks, and I got all my fabric hung up. I was trying to figure out where guest linens would go. We have no basement, the attic reaches extreme temperatures, so I don’t like to store a lot of things there, and our closets are maxed out. Suddenly, it occurred to me that our sofas in the family room were pretty much like open boxes, with the open end on the bottom, and I had all these baskets we’d taken out of Audrey’s room. . .voila! Not only do the linens and extra blankets fit into the baskets, which fit under the sofas, but even the massive queen aerobed fits under the sofas. Our guests sleep in the family room, now all the stuff we keep for guests to sleep on is in the family room! Woohoo!

Well, this was days ago, and I’m working my way around the house. I look at the kids’ closets, realize that we could fit some more shelving on top – and it just so happens that wood from the bed and/or Pax units could be used, and will work nicely because they’re laminated – easy to clean, and a surface that will make it easy to slide things in and out. I’d already thought of using some of it to put in hubby’s closet, which has a truly bizarre arrangement that makes a good three feet hidden and not terribly accessible. My thought for this was that we’d put in a shelf above the suitcases and use one of the metal baskets we’d had in the Pax so we could put less-needed stuff way in the back, and pull out the basket to get at them when we wanted. Bit by bit, less stuff is going into the dumpster.

Now I’m getting a bit convoluted. Fortunately, the Adderall is hitting me at this point, so I’m not getting all squirrelly and dashing about not knowing where to start. I know I want to make better use of the laundry room, which has not only the machines and a sorting/folding area, but also houses the spare fridge and freezer, extra cleaning supplies, cleaning tools, party ware, pet foods, treats, medicines, pond supplies, my computer and files and books and software, and all the paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, glue, string, stamps, envelopes and other stationery your heart could desire. So I pretty much can’t do much with the laundry except wash and dry it. No room. *sigh* Plus, all the ironing is in my sewing area – where the ironing board and iron are. Having ironing and mending sitting there and staring at me really puts a damper on my desire to sew – gotta do the work before the fun stuff, right? So I bought another ironing board I can hang on the wall in the laundry room, and I already had another iron. Now for a place to hang stuff. I had gone out to Linens N Things with my 20% entire purchase coupon (BTW, Linens N Things and Bed Bath and Beyond not only accept one anothers’ coupons, but they don’t really expire, even though they have expiration dates. Hang onto those things – don’t throw away one store’s because you have only the other nearby, and keep them until you use them!) but couldn’t find a wall mount for hanging up the stuff for ironing.

So. . .I hop onto amazon.com, and after ordering a rack I can use to hang clothes both for ironing and for drying smaller items, and remembering to get a couple of books, it occurs to me that maybe I should look for some other stuff. I finally find door-mount spice racks narrow enough for my kitchen cabinet doors. Cool. Ordered those. But I have to pay shipping, so I check the vendor for other stuff. Lo and behold, they have a closet expander – a rod that hangs from the regular rod so you have two levels. I had tried one before, but it hung so low that it was useless. There was plenty of room under the top rod, but not enough under the expander the actually hang stuff. This one adjusts. And while I’m at it, let’s see if they have rolling craft carts, and if the wheels are big enough to be useful. Woohoo! A collapsible one with 4 inch rubber wheels for less than half the price of an official “craft cart”. Hauling that polymer clay stuff has gotten pretty rough. I’m on a roll here, and see some inexpensive under bed boxes. This is difficult, because our bed has only about 5 inches of clearance from the floor. Bummer. These boxes are too tall. . .but it comes to me in a blinding flash of inspiration (ok, not really blinding. . .) that I have two more wire baskets from the Pax. Not only are they both low enough, but lengthwise, they fit side to side under the length of the bed. I can finally get the sheets and blankets out of my closet. . .more room for clothes!

Several good things have happened. I have gotten items I needed, and the cost of shipping does not exceed the cost of the items. I have repurposed more things, so there is less to throw away. I have found new places for things I have to keep, reducing the overall clutter. A fine way to start the day, indeed!