July Project #1, All Done- No More Ugly Door

Bye-bye, ugly front door!

Door sanded, wood filler dried and sanded
Door sanded, wood filler dried and sanded

Going–

It was easier than I thought to paint with the door still on the hinges...
It was easier than I thought to paint with the door still on the hinges…

Going-

Ta da!! Nothing left but to let it dry and clean up!
Ta da!! Nothing left but to let it dry and clean up!

Gone!

Although I didn’t need to use the orbital sander (overkill) or take the door entirely down for easier painting, it still feels great to complete a project that I never tried before. I’m glad I made myself round up a bunch of new-to-me home improvement projects; we have let many little jobs like this slide for too long with our weekday long commutes and our weekend family activities. If I have enough time to watch two seasons of “Agents of Shield” and “Agent Carter,” season one, I have enough time to get some painting done around here… no more excuses. Wish me luck, I have two or three more painting jobs on my list.

I think the outside entryway looks lovely.

Abby likes it too-

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“Are you done yet? Take me for a walk, the cats are talking smack and I want to go check my pmail accounts.”

One last before and after for my records-IMG_7442

Go me!

Move over, Nike, I’m Going to Just Do It

What happens when you have little to no home improvement skills or experience, and you try to apply wood filler to parts of your front door?

What happens if you botch up the job?

Will you permanently ruin your lovely front door? Will the children have to hang their head in shame and say that they don’t really live here when friends come by? Will one hundred handymen pop out of the bushes, pointing their fingers at you and laughing? Will you glue the front door shut with the wood filler??

Nope.

Look at that beautiful job!
Look at that beautiful job!

Yeah, look at that fine job! I’ve sanded down all of the wood filler and hope to take the door off the hinges tomorrow and paint this bad boy a lovely dark green.

When this project is finished, I am going to very much enjoy telling the little voice in my head that always says how I can’t do anything that it is time to shut up once and for all. Nyah!

July Project of the Month- Interior DIY (or, “In Which I Visit Lowe’s/Home Depot 42 Times in One Month”)

I remember when we bought our first home almost twenty years ago, we learned really fast that you don’t start a repair project after 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon. N00bs like us tended to have to head back to the home improvement store at least five more times than the first three trips you originally planned on making. All the shops we needed closed at 6:00 on a Sunday evening back then, leaving us fat out of luck and stuck amidst unconnected parts and unfinished projects until the DIY store reopened.

Wish me luck- I am going to try to fix, repair, paint and/or decorate a bunch of stuff around here this month. Maybe I can learn how to operate a few power tools, yeah! The To Do list has gotten a little long and it is time to start hacking away at it.

But I won’t be starting anything after 2:00 on a Sunday. I’ve learned that lesson.

Is this a summer To Do list?  Or is this just wishful thinking?
Is this a summer To Do list? Or is this just wishful thinking?

May Project of the Month- Graduate Two Teens & Maintain My Sanity

Graduation-2015-PV252Two teens graduating, two freshmen next year, family coming over two weekends in a row for lots of people and lots of love overflowing. Graduate gifts to be purchased, traditional graduation projects for both schools to craft, reservations to make, photos still needing to be booked, housework to finish. Tears will be shed!

We will be making a big dent in that two cases of wine we won a couple of months ago…

The closest thing I think I want to do that resembles a Project of the Month is to pick several of the cookie recipes I have squirreled away on Pinterest and start baking. I bake and cook when I am stressed. It is the main hobby that I enjoy, and as a bonus- I can share the results with the friends and family that I have thoroughly annoyed along the way.

There’s a lot to choose from, just look at the number of ideas I have pinned here:

A few mini retreats to the kitchen are just the thing for me this month. I’ll also get to practice my food photography and promise to share the recipes- those that bomb and those we like!

APRIL Project Part Five- Sidewalk Prettifying and Yard Beautification… because the neighbors deserve it.

Almost finished… I’m just waiting for the Arctotis to be delivered from the nursery. Poop. I wanted this to be a finished project, but we will just have to use our imagination on this.

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Plot #1 before
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Plot #1 after

We have two small spots in our yard that are difficult to keep nice. Here’s the before and after of my Sidewalk Beauty Pagent, Contestant #1:

And Contestant #2, mid weeding, old mulch raked off, waiting to be planted and remulched. Some nice, big rocks would look right at home there, too:

Plot #2
Plot #2 before
IMG_6424
Plot #2 after

Here is the same type of plant I ordered, a red arctotis. I’ve seen this plant at one house in our neighborhood for about two years now. Arctotis blooms year round with these big red flowers that look like gerbera daisies. Low water needs, long lasting color- I’ll take two, please! I snapped this second pic in Balboa Park showing the rocks that I want to place next to the arctotis plants… got to wait to place the rocks, also. Need my muscle riding shotgun, so the rocks will have to wait until the weekend when I can conscript The Husband!

Red Arctotis
Red Arctotis
Balboa Park
Balboa Park Gerberas

APRIL Yard Clean-Up Part Four: Orange Blossom Special… and Limes- think of the Gimlets!

Have you ever smelled a fresh orange? I mean really fresh- right off of the tree. It smells like California, the fresh outdoors, even the remnants of the orange blossom. If you want to taste something that comes close to how an orange blossom smells, find a jasmine tea (one of the green teas) and brew a cup. I had a small orange tree in a pot as a houseplant when I lived in Seattle. One whiff of that tree in bloom and in my mind I was back at my parents’ home, which was surrounded by citrus groves back in the day.

So pretty!
18 months ago. So pretty!
I should be stopped. Rally.
Today :o(

Now, with my struggling trees in my own yard, when the onshore breeze blows just right, I recognize not only my parents’ but grandparents’ home, too. For most of my youth they lived in either Ventura or Saticoy, California, with grove after grove of the most fragrant trees.

Voilà- future Gimlet
Voilà- future Gimlet
A few holes...
A few holes…
pot, soil, drill and tree- check
pot, soil, drill and tree- check

Today I planted a small lime tree- Costco is selling citrus trees and pots at great prices. After buying citrus/palm/cactus potting soil the grand total was under $45 and with a few holes in the pot, I had a new patio gem to join my potted Meyer Lemon… the only way I am keeping citrus alive, ugh. Usually, The Husband will do my potting and planting for me, especially if digging holes is involved, but I did all of this myself. Not a grand feat, except for lugging the 50b bag of citrus soil.

I’m about ready to rip out the last ornamental vegetation around my home and replant nothing but edibles- with citrus in pots, strictly. Maybe throw in some avocado and banana trees?

APRIL- Project of the Month, Yard Clean-Up Prickly Part 3

Today I planted  some starts for Prickly Pear Cactus. If you like any Mexican dishes made with Nopales, this is the cactus that it comes from. Oops… did you not know that you were eating cactus? Well, now you do.

I’ve always wanted to grow one of my own, and The Brother-In-Law had paddles falling off his big ol’ cactus in his back yard that were already starting to set down roots. The last time we came up to visit family he went out and shoved at least ten starts into a paper bag for me to tackle eventually… three weeks later I am finally setting them in the ground. I think I transplanted some of the ants from his back yard, too.

Side yard where the cactus will go...
Side yard where the cactus will go…
Bag o' Cactus Starts
Bag o’ Cactus Starts

All I did to prepare the ground was to dig out a few invasive ice plants and loosen the dirt where the paddles would sit. They break off the main plant, fall to the ground and take root all on their own, so this is a pretty easy project, really. My Fine Cactus Benefactor said to just keep the ground watered until they take root, and I will water them every few days for about a week.

Prickly Pear Starts
Prickly Pear Starts
...another patch of starts...
…another patch of starts…
...and the third patch of starts.
…and the third patch of starts.

Half an hour later I had three patches of cactus! I wonder how long it will take before I’m slicing off my own new paddles, cursing the spines I missed, and preparing my own Nopales Con Chile Colorado? Nopales, when simply cooked, taste like a mild green vegetable- I’ve always thought of it as a cross between asparagus and a green bean. They are quite mucilaginous, like okra, and I was taught to parboil them once or twice to get rid of this sliminess. Works like a charm. They can also be frozen after this parboiling. Remember the Mom-In-Law and her recipe for Enchiladas from an earlier post? Well, she also taught me how to make Nopales with Chile Colorado, and I’ll share that recipe… eventually. Maybe when I pick my own!