Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Farm Forensics

Things on the farm have been pretty quiet the last two weeks (relatively speaking...).  Andy is traveling for work and I am busy keeping up with two kids.  Regardless, though, chores still have to be done such as taking waste to the compost bins and turning the piles.  On one of my recent trips to the bins, I stumbled upon this:

A HUGE pile of poop.  Our past life of suburban living, we would come across the occasional "surprise" left by a  neighbor's dog but nothing of this caliber.  Upon further investigation of the area, I came across two more piles leading behind Andy's shop toward the barn.

As parents of a one and three-year-old, we are very comfortable talking about poop.  At least one conversation during the day revolves around poop- color, consistency, size, frequency.  A hazard of the job as a parent.  So, when Andy called us on FaceTime later that evening, I recounted my find, detailing the pile to determine what animal could have left it.  Size? Large.  Consistency?  Clumpy with hay bits.  Cow pie?  No.  More piled with several large clumps.  Color?  Almost black.  Yes, folks... Andy has been gone for a week and we discuss poop.  Very glamorous over here.  Anyway, we decide based on appearance and opportunity, the most likely source is a horse.  Our neighbor keeps three of his horses fenced in on our back two acres which helps with our yard maintenance. After a quick head count confirmed three horses still fenced in, I determined the culprit was not one of them.

So, it appears that our our horses have a midnight visitor.  Perhaps some Don Juan is roaming the neighborhood looking to chat up a filly or possibly a horse performed a prison break and stumbled upon some left-over food in the compost pile.  Regardless, now I have three piles of crap to scoop up in the yard. Thank you horse, thank you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Color Cravings

Andy and I LOVE food.  Back before everyone had cell phones with cameras and instant upload capabilities to Facebook, we were taking pictures of our meals.

We have been know to take entire vacations based on what we are craving.  Shrimp on bannock bread... San Francisco!  All you can eat mussels...Asheville!  Pastries and coffee at 3 pm... Vienna!  One of the best moments at a restaurant is that second your food is placed in front of you and you know, know you made a great choice.  Everyone tastes a bite off all the plates and you can crow that yours is the best.  Alternately, one of the worst moments at a restaurant is when your plate is set in front or you and you instantly know you chose wrong.  Maybe you realize you really wanted salty and not sweet (the hardest choice when out to brunch!), maybe you expected oven roasted chicken and you got chicken fingers, regardless, you know, without even tasting that you should have picked something else.  That is how I felt when I painted our bedroom last summer.

We we first moved into the house, every room was white or had paneling.
Bedroom Before
Though I have seen lots of houses that look great with white walls accented with colorful furniture, accessories and art, we prefer to have really colorful walls that somewhat become the art of the room.  I spent hours in Home Depot choosing color swatches for the five rooms I planned to paint the week between closing on the house and the movers coming with our belongings.  After a color mistake in our first house in DeKalb, I knew to have all my color swatches together so the rooms would flow well.  I choose two colors for our bedroom- Milestone by Behr for the accent color and Manhattan Mist by Behr for the three other walls.  On the color swatches, the two colors looked pretty grey but right when I started painting, I quickly realized they were much more purple.
Bedroom in summer 2012 after first round of paint
Milestone (the darker color) was actually really beautiful but not what I had envisioned for the bedroom.  Manhattan Mist was the worst offender, turning blue in some lights and a sickly lavender in others.  It would probably suit a not-girly girls room pretty well but as I was painting, I knew instantly it was not right.  Regardless, at 8 months pregnant, all I cared about was covering the paneling so onward we went!

A year later, we finally decided to replace the orange shag carpeting in the room with hardwood and I jumped at the opportunity to repaint the walls before Andy installed the new hardwood.  I also have been working on painting all the trim in the house white (a slow process) so I jumped into the bedroom to paint the trim while we had furniture moved and no worries about dripping on the floor.
Take that, nasty shag carpet!
I brought my home improvement binder to Home Depot one night to choose the new color.  My home improvement binder sounds really nerdy but it actually helps a lot.  I have all the paint chips from each room in the house as well as magazine clippings for things I want to do in the future.  Though I was under a time crunch (I arrived at 8:45 and the store closed at 9) and nervous about making another wrong choice, amazingly enough I found it.  THE color!  Not too blue, not too grey.  Dark enough to make the bedroom feel warm and enveloping but not cave like.  Blue-Grey Slate by Glidden (I had the store color match the paint in Behr).

It took me two coats of the paint/primer in one.

I cut in with a small handle, angle brush and then rollered the walls with a 3/4" nap roller.
Amazing painting clothes picking a movie on Netflix
Plus, I had some extra "help" (she painted a picture of herself on the wall)...

Result?  A cozy, inviting room just begging you to climb to get cozy under the covers.

Trim and doors all painted white too with new black door knobs
I'm also giving you a sneak peek of the finished hardwood floors and a bookcase Andy finished this weekend.  He is on assignment to work on these posts during his 13 hour flight to China!  Hopefully the in-flight meal he chooses turns out to be Blue-Grey Slate and not Manhattan Mist...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

See you later, alligator!

This evening, Andy and I decided to move the leftover hardwood boxes that we used in the den and master bedroom floors (post to come soon!) from the floor in the living room to the basement.  Andy assigned me the job of finding a place for the boxes in the basement and clearing the floor.  On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being finished basement; 1 being murder zone) our basement is a 0.
Creepy basement
It is dank, dark and small.  The full basement is only under the living room, bathroom and kitchen areas of the house and the ceilings are low enough for easy spider access into a passerby's hair.  The floor is concrete and the walls are cinder block.  The most Iowa part of our basement is the cellar door leading down to it which I refer to the "Twister" cellar door.
Cellar door for murderer and critter access
Said door needs replacing to properly seal up the basement.  In the past year, we have found the usual critters:  spiders, mice, insects as well as the more unusual critters: a bat and a toad.

Anyway, tonight I am tasked with moving various basement sundries to make room for the hardwood boxes.  I lifted up a cat carrier and was shocked to find a lizard-like creature under it.  Unsure if it was alive, I tentatively called up to Andy, "Andy.... there is an alligator in the basement...."  I froze in statue form to not alert it of my presence but prepared to jump cat-like on top of a box if it moved at all while I waited for Andy.  Finally, Andy creeps down the stairs in tennis shoes and boxers (he was in the middle of changing out of his work clothes).  "Cool! A lizard!  Let's keep him."  Typical boy response.  Since my savior was now there, I dashed away from the mini alligator's strike zone and ran to get a bucket and cardboard to capture it.  Andy was convinced it was going to bolt as soon as he got close (though I still wasn't even sure it was alive) so he crept slowly toward it and dropped the bucket on top.
Edited for the sake of your eyes
Sliding Esther's place mat under the bucket he captured the reptile and we took it outside.

More editing needed...
After barely escaping with our lives, we checked online and found out the lizard was a tiger salamander.

It was alive but moving very slowly.  Apparently, salamanders spend most there time underground in burrows and are very secretive so, though abundant, they are rare to see.  We can only imagine it got in the basement and found a warm, dark place under that cat carrier.
Cobwebby/cat-hairy from the basement
 Hopefully, he will find a new burrow before it gets too cold for him... or I will find that Andy has taken him to his shop and is keeping him as a pet in there.  Hopefully not....

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vain For Our Vanity

After a week or so of work and a few weeks of blogging about it, we are finally wrapping up our master bathroom vanity update.  Really, the bathroom happens to be off the master bedroom but it is the main bathroom for the whole house due to the circular floor plan so an update was much needed.  Just to refresh your memory, this is what the bathroom looked like when we first moved in a year ago:
We believe the bathroom was part of a 1970s addition on the back of the house, evident by the beige countertop, floors and outlet covers as well as gold and silver mixed accents.  Our first task was replacing the beige countertop with a "new" (thanks to a great Habitat ReStore find) white one as well as new two handle faucet.
Andy then added a frame around the existing mirror from salvaged barn wood.
Per one of our marriage deals, I come in next with paint.  I took off the doors and hardware and quickly primed the vanity cabinet.  I planned from the beginning of this remodel to use the same color paint I used to paint the built-in porch benches- a light grey.  I really liked how the benches turned out and thought it would be perfect in the bathroom. I only had a spit of paint leftover so I knew needed to get another quart but luckily, I had extra time to work due to an especially long nap time that I decided to put as much on as I could over the primer to get an idea of how it would look.
The picture is not a great representation, but the color didn't work at all.  It blended into the countertop and floors too much and didn't give any visual interest to the vanity.  Since the toilet faces the vanity and therefore, gets a lot of viewing time, I knew it wouldn't work.  Despondent, I grabbed my paint chips to try to find something that would work.  Brown, dark grey, purple.. I was all over the board.  I checked our leftover paint in the basement to see if there was anything that would work and found Puddle (see spotlight on the can and hear angels singing)... a Behr paint that we used for the playroom walls.  And, more angels singing... quarter of the can left.
Much better!  Oddly enough, the color looks more brown in the playroom and more grey in the bathroom but it works.  It is a great, rich color that makes the white countertop really standout.  To finish off the vanity, I purchased three new drawer pulls from Anthropologie.  Combined, they cost the same as the countertop but I think make the vanity more unique.
The final breakdown of cost for the project is as follows:

White Countertop from Habitat Restore: $25
Faucet from Habitat Restore: $15
Miscellaneous plumbing for faucet: $10
Wood frame around mirror: Free (reclaimed lumber from Andy's workshop tear-down)
Door knobs from Anthropologie:  $25
Paint for vanity: Free (extra from playroom)

Total:  $75

No need for magazines in the bathroom anymore- we can gaze lovingly at the "new" vanity for as long as our bathroom needs last.  Will we replace the light above the mirror?  On my next trip to the Lowes at Rochester.  Will we update the floor?  Probably down the line.  Will we paint the trim and closet doors white?  Definitely as soon as I work my way around to it.  But for now, we can appreciate one job done!  Time to bust out the champagne.