November 28, 2011

Where does a platypus learn a word like 'hodgepodge' anyway?

Sorry the title of this post is so random (it's from an old commercial, I believe), but this post is going to be equally random. For example...

Here is the wreath that I made for my Mummy last week! It's very similar to mine, except it obviously has a different color scheme. And it's double-wrapped, since the main wreath body was green and one layer of white yarn resulted in some pretty nasty show-through. Just another fun project to share with you guys. Oh, and this...

A more complete photo of the fence, as promised...what, like last Monday? Kind of late, but better than never, I suppose! It was taken from the window of Denny's office, right over the roof-line of the garage. I got lazy and took it from inside since it was raining so hard that day. :)

AND, last but not least, a little poll for my small readership.

Online casinoWeb PollOnline Dating Sitescasinos onlineCASINO ONLINE

See, I want to move this blog over to WordPress, which has (in my opinion) a better format for blog-writing and inserting images. However, I don't want to move it if you all won't come along with honest. Answer the question. You won't hurt my feelings either way.

And that concludes the most random jumbly post I have ever written! Looking forward to hearing from you!

November 20, 2011

The Return of Privacy

So, as promised, here is the long-awaited update of our fence-rebuilding project! As of yesterday morning, this is what our fence (and our giant pile of dismantled-shed/fence/trash) looked like...

As you can see, we had three posts up and set in concrete, as well as four panels in place. Since we knew that we had a busy day ahead of us, we got up early and dove right into working to get the rest of those posts up. In no time at all, we had that fourth post set, but since we needed one more to finish our line, off to Home Depot we went-- where we accidentally bought a too-short post. Which we didn't find out until we put it up temporarily to measure the spacing and (in the words of Homer), "DOH!"

See? 10' post...10' post...8' post. Fail.

So back to the Depot we went to buy the right one. We exchanged the 8-footer, but were barely able to get it into the ground and concreted (is that a verb? oh, well-- it is now!) before we had to leave the house. Thus ended our fence-building for the day.

Today was another early morning, not to mention a freakin' cold one! Seriously, when we got up this morning to continue working on the fence, the ground was frozen solid, the panels were covered in tiny ice crystals, and my body instantly began arguing with my mind, telling me that this was just plain stupid and we should go back to bed immediately. Luckily, though, was able to ignore those words (of wisdom) and I dove right in to helping Denny, who'd already been up for a half hour and was busy loading up our borrowed trailer with shed and fence debris. 

After a couple of trips to the transfer station, our pile went from unwieldy and hideous to manageable and...well, still kind of hideous, but on a much smaller scale. :) In fact, it was so manageable that we were able to pop up another panel before I even had a chance to take an "after" picture of the mess. Aaah! To be rid of that garbage!

So our next step on this Odyssey-of-a-project was to finish that last little gap at the end. Now, this may seem like no big deal, but let me just say this: 1) the gap was an odd length (not an even 8 feet, but closer to 10 feet long), 2) we had no desire to shorten the line of fence (it would have put it at odd angles with the line of the house), and 3) they don't make 2 foot fence panels. All of this combined to make A Challenge To Overcome. Our solution (by which I mean, Denny's creative and utterly-genius solution) was to buy a small "gate" panel and to modify it to fit the gap between our last full-size panel and the final post. We elected not to put in another post between the full-size and the modified panel since they're super sturdy and were going to go on level ground, next to a large, solid end-post anyway.

First, Denny took some very precise measurements, and then to be safe, he measured again. And then one more time.

Next, he made some initial cuts at the structural points, then flipped it and repeated the cuts (since the circular saw wouldn't go all the way through the first time), then he finished the rest of the line and popped the gate panel into two pieces. In order to finish off the newly-cut side, we simply took a matching piece of red cedar 2"x4" and screwed it to the side, then cut the extra length off. Easy as pie.

After a few minor adjustments, we put up the full-size panel and then fit the modified one into place.

As you can see, the daylight was fading fast (thanks, stupid winter hours...) but we managed to get it in. Voila! The gap is gone. We officially have Privacy. 

Of course, there's still a bit left to do. Those posts? Yeah, they're not always going to be that tall. And they still need "hats," as Denny calls them. We also still need to fill in the holes around the fence posts with dirt and tamp them. But at least until then, we won't have to look at the houses across the street the whole time and they won't have to look at our pile of whatever-else-we-decide-on-a-whim-to-demolish. Like I said, good fences = good neighbors.

PS: Yeah, I know there aren't any pictures of the full-length, semi-completed fence. What can I say? It got dark fast. So, the third (and hopefully final) installment of this story will just have to wait until I can get some daylight hours for picture-taking. Say...Wednesday? Alright, it's a date! See you then! -Ash

November 16, 2011

No Boundaries...Around Our House

Okay, so you know how we recently tore down the shed? And I didn't actually give you guys a photo of the end result? Did you notice that? Well, that's because immediately after tearing down the shed, we started on this little project...
Look at that leaning, wobbly, gonna-fall-down-at-any-second crap. Not pretty. So it should be no surprise that the instant we got a decent stretch of sunshine we --you guessed it-- demolished it.
We started out by prying out the worst of the panels. 
It began with one...
And quickly turned into three...
Then all of a sudden (it seemed), there was a huge gap in the fence and our backyard looked like this. Which just won't do. As you all probably all know, we're very much in the Northeastern opinion that "good fences make good neighbors" (oh, Robert Frost, you smart, smart man), so we did what any sane person would do: we immediately began rebuilding. In short, we rented a truck, bought $400 worth of panels, some posts, some hardware, a stud gun that could shoot nails into concrete...huh. Not that short. Nevermind. Moving on.
Yay! One panel up! But then...
Insert four-letter expletives here. Yeah. That's &%$@ing concrete. And despite our best attempts to mount post hardware into it (which usually works), all we succeeded in doing was chipping that...blasted concrete foundation to...heck. (See that amazing restraint?)
So what did we do? And what's that thing Denny is holding, you ask? That, my blogosphere friends, is a mini-jackhammer. Yeah. We keep one on hand for just such occasions (uh, not really; it was rented, just like our panel-hauling truck).
Denny decided that the best thing to do would be to simply blast away the concrete wall where we needed to put posts, then pour new concrete to secure them. Not only will the posts be guaranteed to not rust at the bottom (what happened to the last posts), but they'll also be sturdier. And if you're gonna build a fence, you might as well do it right the first time.

So that's what we did last weekend. A lot of demolishing the concrete wall at eight foot intervals, a lot of picking out the giant chunks, a lot of digging away smaller chunks...Basically Sunday was a bust (haha). The good news is that now that we have all that done with, we can move on to more exciting things, like rebuilding our lovely wall of privacy (which I will fully document and then put on the internet...just doesn't make much sense, when you think of it like that...huh...).

November 11, 2011

An Early-November Yarn

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think: "I'm going to make a wreath today!!!" (With multiple exclamation points, just like that?) Just me? Fine. Be that way. Regardless of whether that may or may not have been a weird thing to be thinking about first thing upon waking, it's what I thought and therefor, it's what I did today. I started out by raiding my yarn collection. Oh, yes. I have a yarn collection. Some might even call it a Yarn Collection, given its insane size and range. Wait, "why yarn" you ask? Well, if you've spent any time at all on Pinterest, the answer should be fairly obvious, and if you don't happen to be acquainted with Pinterest, you'll soon be acquainted with the Ashley-version of a yarn wreath. Hold tight and watch...

First, I made a trip to Joann's for a wreath form, some different colors of felt, and some millinery berries (which are actually more copper than brass, despite this picture). Once I got home, I got out my hot glue gun and began wrapping my yarn around my wreath form. Like so...

Turns out that multi-color yarn = stripes! No one (meaning Pinterest) told me about this phenomenon and so I'm telling YOU. So, listen: Multi-color yarn = STRIPES. In this case, camo-stripes (although my mummy may object to me labeling the color palette as such-- Sorry, Mom). Once I'd finished wrapping my wreath in yarn (gluing every couple of inches to keep it in place), I started thinking about decorations. I drew inspiration from the Etsy shop Itz Fitz! and made up some felt flowers ala Design Dump to add to my own handcrafted (aka cut from felt and snipped from a bunch) leaves and copper berries. Here's the in-progress shot...

Followed by a finished detail shot...

Followed by a brief interruption about how to hang said yarn wreath. You're familiar with these, right?

Command Strips basically hold the world together at this point, so it shouldn't be that big of a surprise that they also hold my wreath in place. In this case, though, they're given a solid 180 degree turn and, ta-DAH!, transformed from a Command hook to a...uh...upside-down Command hook. Ok. That was a little anti-climactic. Anyway. Moving on!

However, my hooks were a little long, so I was forced to call in reinforcements.

My reinforcements in this case were...Myself! And a chisel! And a hammer! And a utility knife! Did you hear me? I Did It Myself. I DIY-ed, for real. Using said tools, I chopped off the extra length and voila! A fitting upside-down Command hook I had, yes. (Excuse me while I channel Yoda...There is no try! Only do or do not!...ahem)

The result, when strung up on some sparkly sheer ribbon, is this. You like? I like. And, for a little perspective, here is the wide shot...

So that is what came of my (somewhat-)early-morning brainstorm. An elegant camo-meets-crafty-meets-festive wreath! Now, if only all my brainstorms ended so successfully...(I won't remind you of all the ones that didn' would be too embarrassing). Instead, let us dwell on my small and momentary success! Hurrah!

November 8, 2011

In Which We Demolish Even More Stuff

Seriously. I should consider renaming this whole blog just that. Or maybe that could be the new tag-line! "21 House: In Which We Demolish Stuff"! I kind of like it. It's so...true.

Anyhow, last weekend was an "at home" weekend (meaning we stayed put instead of hoofing it down to Oregon, as we have been known to do) and so, of course, it was a super productive one. What did we tear down now, you ask? Well, remember this guy:

Come to think of it, you might not really remember him all that well, since I do my best to not include him in many pictures. In fact, Denny and I have so far been repressing the fact that he exists at all. At least, until last weekend when I went outside and saw this...

It appears that all at once Denny got fed up with looking at the Ugly Shed and began to rip it apart. Literally. He'd already dismantled a couple of walls and was working on removing the roof when I came out, made him stop while I got my camera, and then graciously proceeded to let him continue his demolition.

It took him about thirty seconds to tear off that roof. It was like watching the Flash do construction. Er, de-construction, I mean. And, me? Well, I helped a little. While Denny was momentarily occupied with tearing down the remaining walls, I used this little guy and the drill to remove most of the bolts and nuts holding the roof together (confession time: using a power tool successfully made me feel like a total bad-ass -- there, I said it).

And what I couldn't reach or what was rusted-in got removed like this:

Obviously, I was not to be trusted with this step considering my ability to almost gut myself with a simple butter knife. This is no joke. I just found a cut on my arm, like thirty seconds ago. And I have been sitting in front of my laptop. For hours. So how did that happen, I ask you? Anyway...The next step in our dismantling process was to remove the old, rotted-away foundation. For reasons I will show you in a minute, I elected to...document this portion, instead of actively participating.

Icky, huh? And it gets worse. 'Cause it turns out that the spider colony in the garage was nothing to what was growing under the shed. And I do mean growing. These spiders were the size of small Jack Russel terriers! (Okay, that's somewhat of an exaggeration-- they were more like the size of largish guinea pigs. Seriously. Check it out.)

This was an actual conversation I overheard just before their Very Timely deaths. There may have been more that I missed, though, because Denny and I were squealing like little girls the whole time prior to the SMACK-smacksmacksmack-ing with the shovel. 

Sidenote: I believe "Sheila" and her friend were most likely offspring of the terrible Shelob, given their size.

Sidenote #2: I would like it noted that I am a (somewhat) little girl. Denny is...not. Just sayin'.

November 4, 2011

Halloween Recap

First of all, I know that this is terribly belated, so you needn’t tell me about it. I know that as far as seasons go, I should probably be focusing my DIY-ing efforts on Christmas things already. After all, there’re only 52 days left until Christmas (are you panicking yet, because I am). However, my Halloween got started a little late this year and therefor I am going to continue to celebrate it a little later than usual. In short, I want to wring all the Halloweeniness out of this time of year that I can. So I am going to do odd things, like tell you about our pumpkins this year even though it’s about a week too late, and I am going to keep my Nightmare Before Christmas decorations up (there’s that word again, dammit), and I am going to continue to munch Halloween candy until I just can’t stand it anymore. It’s the only way to keep myself from feeling ripped off.


Denny and I did not get around to carving (or buying, for that matter) pumpkins until around 6pm on October 30th. This means that we had to cram all of our pumpkin carving merriment into a few hours, after having been stuck in a car all day (we’d just got back from Oregon) and with early mornings ahead of us (work and school, respectively). Despite that, we had an excellent time. I, especially, had been looking forward to having a real place to put pumpkins (apartments just aren’t good places for them) and expecting a visit from some real trick-or-treaters!

So after making a trip to Safeway and picking through the last dozen large pumpkins available, we (meaning, I) added some gourds and a mini-pumpkin to our collection and we proceeded to head home. Once there, we immediately set the mood for a party. This, of course, means pizza, beer, and covering the dining room table with cardboard and newspapers (what? Isn’t that how all good parties begin?). Well, regardless, it allowed me to snap this adorable pic, so I think it was a success.

Cute, huh? But I digress. Perhaps what you really want to see is our pumpkins before we carved them? Fine. I’ve got that, too.

Less cute, but still pertinent, I suppose. Alright, so we’re as far as pizza in the oven, pumpkins waiting to be carved, football in the background…where does that leave us? Oh, right! To gutting, of course. Well, it should be no surprise to anyone that Denny is the resident pumpkin gutter. First of all, he’s way faster than I am and secondly…well, this is kind of embarrassing, but pumpkin guts…I think I’m allergic to them. And that’s not just a way to get out of doing the dirty work, either! Seriously. My hands get red and itchy and swell up. Not pretty. Which is why my loving husband takes over and ends up doing this for about twenty minutes prior to any carving fun:
The next portion of the night, of course, included the aforementioned carving fun.

This Halloween, for some reason, seemed like a really good one as far as designs went (and I don’t just mean mine). My mom and baby brother, for example, did some incredible pumpkins this year. Very gory and a little nauseating, albeit, but still incredible. ;) Ours were a bit less complex than theirs, but they still turned out pretty good, I think. Oh! Speaking of which, the tools that I bought this year came with a little book of pre-made pumpkin designs and check it out…
Oh, yeah. That’s right. “Haunted Hizzle.” Forizzle. Yo. Uh…I think I’ve exhausted my Snoop Dog slang, so I’ll go back to plain ol’ Ashley English…
Ahem. So, by the end of the night, this is what we had on the pumpkin front…

As you can see by the obvious labels in creepy fonts, the one on the left is mine, the one in the middle is Denny’s, and the one on the right was a joint effort (it was also the crowd favorite, surprisingly). And what did you think of our Ghoulish Gourd Group? I got this idea (and the vampire teeth) from my Mommy (thanks, Mumsy!), but the idea to put them in weird little gourds was my idea—one that I might’ve reconsidered if I had known how tough gourds are to carve, by the way. Which is why these gourds are still full of guts and have only slits and divots for eyes (and even some Sharpie for the ghoul in the center).
However, I fixed their lack of inner-candle-ness by simply sitting a candle next to them on Halloween, which ended up being pretty cool actually.

They remind me of trying to scare each other with flashlight faces around the campfire…Sigh. Those were the good old days.
Oh, and for everyone who’s wondering why the heck my pumpkin looks so constipated in that first picture, well, let’s just say that I didn’t want to do the full effect on my dinner table. So the next night when I put him out, I lifted him up onto a paving stone, got out my saved baggie of guts…

And, VOILA! A very disgusting pukey pumpkin!

I even had a little coming out of his nose (which is the true measure of sickness, by the way—you haven’t been really sick until you’ve had it come out of your nose).  I think I got a few dirty looks from some of the parents, but I thought it was funny anyway. :)
So, there you have it: my lovely, rambling rendition of our first carving at the new house. It makes me wish that pumpkins were available all year round, because I could totally see myself doing this whole thing about once a month without tiring of it. Hmmm…maybe we could carve something else in the non-pumpkin months? Pineapples? Cantaloupes? ...Kiwis? Ok. Probably not kiwis.

PS: I'm having trouble with the Blogger program and so this post may look oddly formatted. I promise I'll figure out how to fix it ASAP! -A