Monday, March 19, 2012

Memories of June Cleaver

The past few years I have spent more time in my makeshift kitchen than what I ever did back when I had a 'real' kitchen and kids at home.  I guess my priorities gradually shifted and the things I wanted then are not the things that I want now.

Periodically I have images of myself wearing a dress, a fancy apron and high heels while cheerfully canning up some tomatoes.  Oh, don't forget the pearl necklace.  That's June Cleaver from the old "Leave it to Beaver" tv series.


I was a kid when the series was running, but I remember being amazed that her dress and apron were spotless and she never was yelling at Beaver Cleaver or his brother, Wally, no matter what they did.  Huh.  My life was somewhat different.

Fast forward many years.  I was married with three kids of my own.  I don't think I even owned an apron, never wore a dress to make supper and for sure, I was yelling at my own kids.  Once, at a mom and pop restaurant, the owner was smiling at our youngest son, then about 6 or 7 yrs. old.  He finally came over to our table and said how much our son reminded him of Beaver Cleaver.  We just cracked up laughing.  He did kind of resemble the Beav!  We may have found it cute, but our son didn't.  He flat refused to eat there again.  Here's an image of the Beav (Beaver Cleaver):



My kids would divorce me if I ever put some potentially embarassing pictures of them on here, but trust me, our youngest did look a lot like the Beav.  But once again I was reminded of June.  This time I wondered who had dreamed up that perfect/impossible to be television mother.  Had to be some guy with mother issues.

Fast foward to the present.  For some reason, June comes to mind often.  She's working her butt off, yet always has a smile on her face and the wisdom that comes with ages.  Me?  I'm working in the kitchen, still no apron, spaghetti sauce splattered on the front of my t-shirt.  I picture June in her dress and pearls...with chicken pucky stuck to the bottom of her high heels.  It's an endearing image.

While looking at Google Images for the above pics, I found the following blog and had to laugh:

http://junecleavercookingclub.blogspot.com/search/label/Main%20Dish

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our first Ducklings

Check these little guys out - too cute!  They were having their first swimming lesson in the duckling wading pool AKA paint roller tray.




They were in an inch of warm water having a supervised swim.  I think Bill and I had more fun watching them than the ducks did.  After a bit of playing around in the water, I put them back on dry shavings under the 100 watt bulb that's serving as a heat source in their brooder box.

We have no idea what breed they are or whether they are male or female.  That's just how they came from the farm and ranch store, so it's anybody's guess at this point.

I spent some time looking at various chicken tractors, duck houses, etc.  I was searching for something suitable that would be fast and cheap to construct as it would be temporary housing.  I finally found a page (and closed it!!!) that had images of their straw bale chicken housing for 60 hens.  It was pretty basic and worked well for them.  When the bales started to break down, they were replaced with new bales.  The old ones were then torn apart and the hens finished ripping them to shreds, eating any seeds and doing their fertilizing thing (poop).  Later it was hauled off for compost.

So in a flash, I knew that was the thing to do here, too.  We have a totally enclosed run behind the coop that's rarely being used right now.  All I have to do is close the trap door from the coop, stack the bales, add a piece of scrap plywood for the roof, top it off with a couple cinder blocks and I'll have a bonafide redneck duck house.

Okay, there's a bit more to do, but you get the idea.  We have a leftover concrete form that would make a good base and raise the bales (and ducks) above grade in case of heavy rain.  I can tie the bales together, and probably figure out something to secure the plywood roof and the bales to the base.  A few pieces of PVC pipe scrap will create a ventilation gap at the top.  There's plenty of room for the little Rubbermaid stock tank that will be their 'pond' for the time being.  I can elevate it on blocks or a pallet, then run a piece of garden hose from the plug to outside of the run to drain and refill the little stock tank.  They can also get underneath the coop for more run around room. 

The best thing about this plan is that the young ducks will be able to get to know the other critters safely until they're big enough to free range with the hens.  I'll need to add some hardware cloth to the lower part of the enclosure so the cat paws can't reach in to snag a little duck, too.  But for now, they're house ducks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ceramic Tile to Carpet Tiles to Curtains

We are laying tile in front of the french doors upstairs this weekend.  I am supposed to be done with that by now, but you know how it goes.  Oh!  Before I forget again, if you're into laying your own ceramic tile, put a cup of white vinegar in a bucket of water when it's time to wipe the grout down.  It will clean that haze off in nothing flat instead of rinsing and wiping over and over.

We decided to go with carpet tiles upstairs because of the herd of cats.  The tiles will be easy to yank up to clean well, and then put back on the floor.  We got ours at http://icarpettiles.com/ .  The prices were reasonable, shipping was horrendous, but we had the tiles in just a couple days.  I was surprised that it was still cheaper to order them and pay the freight charges than to order them from Lowes or wherever and have free shipping to the store.  Anyway, it took longer to lay them than what we expected but it was mainly because Bill was being a bit OCD about it.  Sure looks good, though!  We didn't put the carpet tiles in the area where the tile is going as I tend to be a bit messy.  Creative people are rarely tidy.

I have been thinking about window treatments for a long time.  I have always made my own curtains.  I never liked the quality of purchased curtains unless you got up to the really high dollar ones.  Being broke with three little kids always prompted me to be a DIYer.  There was a learning curve with making curtains, but I got it figured out.  I even made lined Roman Shades with scalloped valances that had candle wicking (!!) and panels w/ tie backs...for seven windows.  I must have been nuts.  It took me forever.

So, today I started looking for instructions for a specific type of valance so I don't have to think about it too much.  The first link I opened was http://craftstew.com/sewing/free-curtain-patterns .  Wow!  Tons of links!  One of them was to Mag Ruffman's blog.  I love this gal's style of writing, her humor and talk about some great tips.  Catch her blog about drapes at http://www.toolgirl.com/toolgirl/2005/04/planet_of_the_d.html .  Planet of the Drapes?  Cracks me up!

I am always surprised at how expensive curtain rods are.  In our last house, I used 1" PVC pipe for the rod (spray paint it if you don't want white) and the old glass door knobs on the ends.  I used a bit of hot glue to hold them in place after I put the valance or curtain on.  On one large set of windows, I found a fancy shower curtain rod was about 1/3 the price of a nice regular curtain rod.  The valance hid the ends well enough so I just used the rubber ends that came with it.   What was crazy was that I could get heavy cotton cutwork lace shower curtains for a LOT less than the same thing cut to standard window sizes.  No problem there, I can cut 'em down to save that much money.  We had a hard time finding hardware for that large of a 'rod', so we used some wood brackets.  I can't remember if Bill cut them out or if we bought them.

In our current bedroom, I bought pretty wicker-look Roman shades at Lowe's.  Our son had given me some gorgeous silk saris, l-o-n-g, with a lot of the knots still on the fabric.  Dark red and gold, the real deal from India.  Entirely too pretty to cut up into anything - but perfect for a window swag.  I used three plant hooks - two on the corners of the window trim, one in the center, but about 10" higher than the trim.  I put three black rings that have clips on the plant hooks.  I first folded the sari almost in half lengthwise. The sari has gold, basically finished edges and I wanted them to show. I then found the center point, clipped it on the higher, center ring, then draped it slightly to each of the side clips.  The rest just hung down and I trimmed the unfinished edges and left them.  Since I did a travel theme in that room, it worked out really well.

I still haven't decided on a plan for all the windows in the room we're currently working in - four windows and a set of french doors.  I do know that I won't be making scalloped valances with candle wicking, though.

Updated 3/19/2012:  We won't be buying carpet tiles again.  Our cats have totally destroyed one of them.  They have a couple scratching posts and things, but every day there is at least one spot that 'a' cat has pulled up the edge of a tile.  Bill's out in the shop now, making a different type of scratching post for the morons.  The catnip is starting to grow outside, so I'll get some leaves and rub 'em on the new carpeted post to see if that will help draw feline to that carpet instead.
Updated again 8/25:  The carpet tiles also outgassed baaaadly for weeks and it took forever for most of the smell to leave.  I should say that we got carpet tiles that had a foam backing and were supposed to look like regular carpet after they were installed.  Ha.  It does, right after you vacuum.  By the next day, you can tell that it's not regular carpet.  We also had trouble with a cat urinating (!!!!!!!!!) on select tiles.  Sigh.  Good thing we bought extra carpet tiles.  By the time it was over, we had put three coats of urethane on the subfloor (that didn't work as well as I thought it would), and three coats of exterior oil based primer/ sealer on the offending areas (that did work!)  The cats destroyed several tiles, probably 12.  They haven't been tearing them up lately, so maybe the worst is over.