This blog is not dead...

It's only been sleeping.  It's not like I didn't have anything to talk about, but I was sort of really tired of all I had to talk about.  You know?  But that's OK, it's time to wake up now.

We have been doing a major overhaul on our yard.  The problem with our yard is that our house is a hundred years old and the backyard has been ladscaped to death.  Literally.  There are spots where nothing would grow anymore.  I figured at some point treated wood had wreaked havoc with the soil.  And the last time previous owners had landscaped they had rendered everthing in shades of grey and brown and sort of woodland-like but reallly just kind of dead looking.  It was like a zombie forest back there, minus the moaning.  We also had either a ton of shade or the withering glare of too much sun.  So let me introduce you to our new artificial lawn!  (the crowd roars)

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I'm horrible about before and after pictures but I'm GREAT at right in the middle pictures!  This is our new wonderful lawn, and behind it is a patch of nothing-will-grow dirt, and our ugly cement pad.  Why am I so excited about plastic grass?  Because IT IS AWESOME!  So much nicer than the roll out hurt-your-butt-when-you-sat-on-it turf carpet that I remember fed-up grown ups used in the 80s.  And you know, this is California and we're in a drought again.  And ALSO, most importantly, this...

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That patch was previously covered with flagstone.  No child could lie there and play with Legos.  Seeing Chance on the lawn was worth the purchase right there!  We also had the cement pad stained and it looks a million times better.  To the point of, people keep asking us when we put in the concrete!  (Le sigh, it's been there. It was just blaaaaaand.)

See the offending flagstone, accesory to ants. My dad is happy to take that off my hands, btw.

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We've also been working on a million small projects while the garderners are transforming the space into a wonderland.  Keen wants an outdoor kitchen so he painted an old picnic table and added sheet metal on top to created a prep table. 

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I've been painting a metal table set and a bunch of other outdoor items.  And because it's me it's totally bright colored.

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We're not done with everything yet, but we're getting there.  To be continued!

            - the weirdgirl

It's for the earth

Here's a fun project for a summer's day... our household ended up with a lot of old crocs. See, Chance likes to wear more than one color at a time, like one red croc and one green croc, so we'll usually let him buy two pairs so he can mix and match. Then one year there was a sale or something so we bought three pairs.  AND then one of us, me or Keen, got confused and came home with another pair in the same size and color because it was also on sale and we couldn't remember what shoes our kid had. (Shut up. We are old.) Lucikly for us Chance has feet that are both on the small side and grow slowly so he's worn those crocs for a couple of years!  

Now I had four pairs of outgrown crocs to deal with and that's just way more than I felt comfortable tossing in the trash or recycle bin. So I decided to turn them into planters!

It was super simple: I packed a bit of dirt into the toe, making sure there weren't empty gaps, then planted the flowers. After I got the plant in I put them in a bucket of water to soak.  They already have their own drainage holes after all.

I decided to use mine as upright hanging planters so I wrapped wire around the heal band to hang them. Alternately, you can also wrap the wire around the plastic "buttons" that hold the band on if those are missing (like in the dark blue ones I bought from the thrift store).

Crocs as planter

I also hit the thrift store for a couple more funky colored items to work with and one more larger pair of crocs.


Here's how they look hanging on the fence.

Crocs as hanging planters

It was fun, looks cute, and won't fill up any landfills!  I bet you could also shove a small glass into a croc and use it as a vase or centerpiece.                      - wg

Instead of a little brother, how about a snail?

School's out for summer! (I keep singing that and Chance has no frame of reference. Guess I need to play more Alice Cooper.) Chance's last day was last Thursday and May was absolutely packed with school events, last minute field trips, and productions. I also helped the librarian with the school's textbook inventory (4500 books! yikes!) so that took another chunk of time.  And a LOT of walking.  I think I was more ready for summer vacation than he was.

Naw, that's a lie. He was TOTALLY ready for summer. Sleep in! Sleep in!

Anywho, he's been on another kick of asking for babies, pets, and betas.  His best friend got a beta fish so he's dying to have his own, never mind that he already has two goldfish and an algae eater that, oh yeah, he never takes care of.  So the only word in my vocabulary right now is "no". It's very caveman-like, what with the grunting and the growls. 

But he's also been into bug collecting.  Roly polies, ants, snails. I view that as science in action as long as they don't get loose in the house. I've been trying to work on self-sufficiency skills with Chance, such as, instead of asking mom a million questions about bugs that she doesn't know, utilizing his new reading and writing skills on the Internet to do research. 

So what came up was the question... can regular garden snails be kept as pets?  You know what, they can! And I'm totally cool with that as his new pet!  We did some research and built a terrarium.  

A seven dollar storage box from Target and a lot of drilled holes later.

Terrarium 017

Add dirt, and compost or moss for moisture retention.

Terrarium 017

Terrarium 017

We learned that snails are social so it's best to keep two of them and to always give them a place to hide if they feel like it, like in an overturned pot.

Terrarium 017

We found out what they ate and the best way to give them water.

Terrarium 017

Get this... garden snails can live up to 15 years!  I know!  Let's see if these ones last the summer.

Terrarium 017

Summer science project complete! The best thing about this pet is we can run out to the garden for a new one if they kick it.  What?                       

      - the weirdgirl

Total vindication!  So I called up my mom to ask her a question about knitting that damn hat and guess what?! The PATTERN is wrong!  That's why it kept coming out weird; the number of stitches listed was completely wrong.  (Except for that time where I twisted it into mobius beanie. That was totally my bad.)  Whew!  I feel better.  Also? I realized that the yarn I was using was really difficult to work with; it kept snarling and catching and wouldn't hold the tension nicely and generally making everything worse. It was the cheap stuff I had bought to "practice with"... little did I know it would drive me insane. (I wish I hadn't bought three balls of it.)  So I ditched that yarn and decided to just try with the nice fancy yarn that I had meant to make into a hat anyway (you know, after I "practiced") with the adjusted pattern and voila!   

I am not hopeless.


So you know how I wanted to relearn how to knit?  I couldn't figure out why Keen was being so supportive of this new crafty time-suck I was picking up.  Not that he isn't supportive, but let's face it, I've had a lot of crafty time-sucks over the years and they all come with a lot of stuff.  And sure some of them are pretty useful, like jam (who doesn't like jam?), but I totally admit that I have a whole "craft" closet, besides all the stuff that's in my office. (You know, whenever you have enough shit to have its own closet, well, it's kind of a thing, you know what I'm saying?)  But he was kind of extra cheerful about the whole knitting thing and it turns out he really wanted me to make him some hats!  So after I got back the basics for knitting I decided to try this really easy pattern to make a beanie. 

Oh my god, am I fucking up this beanie!  I had to start over four times for dumb mistakes.  Which I suppose is better than making a whole wonky hat but still. By the fourth time I decided to adjust the pattern to something "easier" even though I really don't know what I'm doing. But I have learned a little something each time I jacked it up so I thought, "Well, even if it's not perfect this should get me in the right direction." And you know what?  That fourth time seemed like the charm! I thought it was really going along well, I increased stitches at the right place and everything, and my fingers might have been cramping a bit after all those attempts but I was starting to really fly along.

And then I really LOOKED at my beanie and realized... it's kind of... twisted around.  I think I'm making a mobius hat. Or a mobibeanie.

Fuck my fingers hurt.

Pointing and cackling

Every year I decide to do a bunch of Halloween activities. Actually, some of them I don't choose - there is always the school party and parade, and a yearly Trick or Treat function at my husband's office. But other activities I fully admit I get my own butt into.  Decorating the entire front of the house in whatever vintagey theme we've come up with, carving a gazillion pumpkins, offering to host trick or treaters, and this year we're having some of Chance's classmates over for a pre-Halloween party.  I jump into this season full of enthusiasm, with my eyes wide open.

Every year, apparently, as informed by my friends, at the end of it I say, "Next year I'm not having a party!"  Then my friends point and laugh. 

But I do remember why we do it. It's because of the kids and memories full of shrieks. (Of laughter, not terror. Geez, I'm not mean.  Just a little Halloween crazy.)

Best buddies. Both in law enforcement. Sort of.

Halloween 2011 004

Chance decided that since he was a cop he'd better direct traffic for the parade. And pick his underwear out of his butt. I'm not sure those kids are buying his authority.

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Our crazy decorated house and front window.
Halloween 2011 004

Halloween 2011 004

So check it out... Keen's dad brought us a box of caramel apples from the produce market.  Now we made homemade caramels apples this year and they taste about a million times better than these pre-packaged deals, so Keen decided he would just give away the packaged caramel apples to trick or treaters.  Remember when you were a kid and there were always the rumors about that one house* that gave away full sized candy bars?  You'd hike through hell and high water for that extra generous portion.  Well we're already known for the decorations, now we're going to become that house.

Oy, I think our candy bill just went up.          - wg

*Locally, that's what people said about MC Hammer's house. But as far as anyone could confirm he gave away fun size, just like everyone else.

Who says a good man is hard to find?

(I tried to post this yesterday from my phone. Total app fail!)

Me and the kiddo have been knocked down with colds this week so I am, of course, behind. *sigh* I really just should acknowledge that I am behind in LIFE.  (Isn't there a special prize for that?)

So you know how I decorate our sunroom for Halloween every year? Well, I'm documentating again.  First stage...

Need a man?  Shop Amazon!


He's very low maintenance.


And such a good listener!


He even likes all the same things I do. Here he is, watching Project Runway with me!


His wardrobe, however, is a work in progress.                             - wg

Lowe's Winner!

I know I should come up with a better post title than that but... oh deal with it. 

Thank you to everyone who left a comment about your DIY projects!  Or those who just want jam. And thank you for the nice comments of my video performance.  Stop, you're making me blush.  And you know you're already getting jam so really, stop.  But seriously, I'm inspired.  Now that the kid is back in school I'm trying to get to all the home improvement projects that were scheduled for this summer and that I never... got... to.  ahem

Anywho!  After careful scrunity, deliberation, and writing all your names on slips of paper, sticking them in a coffee mug, and swirling them around the winning entry is...


Congratulations!  I'll be emailing you shortly.  If in any event zMary is unable to fulfill her duties as DIY queen, a new slip will be drawn from the magical mug of fate.  It's good for hot chocolate, too.

Mmmm, magical fate chocolate.              - wg