Monday, November 24, 2014

Adventures In Puppysitting

It took a little while after my Katie passed away before I could feel comfortable being around dogs. At least to the point where it wouldn't make me sad and miss her. I will probably never have my own dog again, but I am considering short fosters in the future.

For now, I can enjoy playing with furry friends in the short term by puppysitting for friends. Earlier this month, I had Gus over for a week. He is a Chiweenie-terrier mix of some sort, but he basically looks like a short, white hot dog.

Gus is about 7 months old and belongs to my co-worker who was traveling for a month. Figuring that a month was too long, I "borrowed" him for a week.

He's still learning his basic commands and certainly doesn't like being told he can't do something. But besides the occasional defiant poop or pee in the house, or barking at the wind, he's very well-mannered. One of his cutest qualities is he loves to snuggle. He'll stand right up with his paws on your shoulder and nuzzle you till you give him kisses. How can you not love that?!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old Shelves Get A New Life

Technically speaking, this is the longest DIY project I've ever done! Thanks to my busy schedule and bad habits (procrastination), this furniture makeover extended over several months. But I'm happy to say I finally f***king finished it!

These tired, blue shelves were picked up by my mom at a garage sale. I'm pretty sure garage sale-ing, if that's a word, is her favorite hobby. But she definitely sees potential in things I would never give a second glance.

When she brought me these shelves, I felt I was going to do just as great of a DIY job as the last person had. They clearly made an attempt at it! They used primer over the original laminate, but probably too much. Then they spray painted layers upon layers and possibly didn't let things dry properly. See the white spots? They were everywhere. Maybe they only sprayed it from one angle. This shotty work made for a long process of undoing!

Luckily, my boyfriend is a contractor with a van full of handy tools! I borrowed everything I could:
  • heat gun
  • palm sander
  • sandpaper
  • latex paint
  • workbench/sawhorses
  • primer
  • drill
  • metal scraper tool
  • scrap lumber
  • spray paint (this is the only thing I had to purchase)
  • paint brushes

To get started, I set up two sawhorses and a sheet of plywood. There were several hours of standing, and doing this project hunched over on the ground would not be good for my back! After taking apart the shelves, I went about figuring out the best way to remove the paint. It was so thick, the paint thinner just wasn't cutting it. Sanding was also taking waaaaaay too long. So I went with the heat gun.

If you've never worked with a heat gun, be careful! These things are extremely hot. Be mindful of where you set it down while moving things around or giving your hands a rest. The heat coming off of it was a bit of torture when I was working on this during the summer and already sweating!

Once the heat gets going though, it really works quickly. It helps to loosen up the paint then you can use the scraper tool to scrape it off. Getting the base primer and whatever else was underneath was a bit tougher. So after getting the largest amount peeled away with the heat gun, I switched to the palm sander.

Working with sanders, you'll want to start at your heaviest grain and work down to a fine grain. That will allow the surface to become nice and smooth. I wasn't going for perfection in this project because I knew I was going to paint with a brush.

The toughest part of this project was trying to work on the spindles. With all of the details, it made it difficult to get into every nook and cranny. Sanding the curves and divots definitely took the longest. I had my boyfriend drill holes in some extra lumber while I screwed in each spindle (they had screws in them for putting the shelf together and I left them in). It was much easier to paint them this way.

Once I was happy with the removal of old paint, etc, I added my own primer. Then I used some latex house paint to paint everything white. Once dried, I sprayed the spindles with Rustoleum Painter's Touch Key Lime. (This stuff is awesome because it's a coat of primer + 2 coats of paint in each coat!)

Here's a tip: If you don't have a rubber band, use masking tape, folded and taped over the top of your paint can. It's helpful for scraping off excess paint and also gives you a place to rest your brush without making a big mess!

This is where the procrastination kicks in. Summer quickly went away while all of the pieces were drying in the greenhouse. And then the weather was rainy and nasty, I just left them in there. Soon our temps dropped down to the 30s and I thought, "there's no way I'm going to stand out there and paint!". So I moved the project into my craft room and finished painting the shelves.

I'm very happy with the final look of these shelves. They definitely look happier than the drab blue. And it goes well with my new craftroom makeover (which I will share in another post).

What do you think? Have you done any furniture rehab projects lately?

(I apologize for the poor pictures. My craft room light is horrible right now! It's one of many things I haven't gotten around to fixing.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Slowly Returning to the Blogging World

Well it's been a mighty long time since my last entry. I'm not sure if anyone still subscribes to my blog or will ever see this, but I felt it was time to try to come back and share some things.

It's bittersweet to see my last post, which was in April and featured a photo of my Katie pooch. She seemed to just be old and slow but with several years left in her. On June 1, she passed away suddenly and I was left in shock with a hole in my heart. She would have been 15 years old last month. And she was smiling, wagging and bounding about, up until her very last day.

She had been having some issues in the few weeks leading up to her last days, some strange bouts of lethargy and stiffness. I had originally thought it had to do with some new treats I fed her, so I cut those out of her diet. She would return to normal and then a few days later, show the same signs. After a week of worry, I took her to the vet and started some testing.

After some x-rays, they found a mass in her belly that was rather large. If it was cancer, they said she would be too old for the operation and I might have to let her go. I was worried but I tried to hope for the best. I scheduled the ultrasound for the following Monday, it was a Friday when I first got the results. The Sunday morning before her test, I went to wake her up and saw she hadn't moved all night, she was having a hard time breathing and couldn't focus. She was heavily stressed.

With Greg's help, I carried her to the car and rushed her to the ER. I told them "Do whatever you need to do to save her". But then her heart stopped, and a few minutes later the doctor said, even if they brought her back, he couldn't promise she would make it out. I knew she just wanted to let go.

They let me go into the surgery room and hold her and pet her as they took her off life support. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I lost my best friend and companion. My sweet girl that I'd had since she was just 9 weeks old. She was the best dog with her mild temper and her warm heart.

I'm sad we didn't get to try to fight the cancer that took her. And I'm sad she's not with me anymore. Her room, my craft room, is empty and lonely without her. But I know she had a good life and she was a very happy girl.

Had I known I wouldn't have much more time with her, she would have been enjoying steak and potato dinners every night. Followed up with her favorite desserts: red licorice, vanilla ice cream and marshmallows.

It's been very hard to move on and not be sad every time I think of her. I definitely became depressed and didn't want to do much of anything for a while. It took several months for me to stop remembering the last moments I saw her, and to think of her has a happy girl, not sick and dying. Luckily, my work life is stressful and demanding so it allows for me to not sit and dwell. I'm creating a space for her in our old room, a wall for her photos and small mementos. She will live forever in my heart.

Rest in peace, my Katie girl. Sweet nugget. Pumpkin head. xoxo

P.S. I am going to attempt to start blogging again. I have garden updates I want to share. And now that I've reorganized my craft room, I hope to have some new projects to share. I have had my Etsy shops offline since all of this happened and I'm hoping to start that back up again, too. I just needed some time to grieve. And now that I can be in this room without feeling overwhelmed by sadness, I think it's a good time to start. Thank you for reading :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sun Rays and Garden Delays

Spring is most definitely here in Seattle. We're back to sunny days with rain and a few rainbows.

Greg and I have been incredibly busy with work, we haven't had much time for gardening. With the nice weather coming back, we decided it was time to open up the irrigation pipes and finally plant some veggies. And with that came the discovery of the burst pipes and other leaks!

After some time, we were able to chase down all of the leaks and Greg fixed up the busted pipe under the driveway. But that delayed us even further.

We spent an entire weekend pulling weeds and mixing in fresh organic compost to the raised beds. I even found a carrot left behind from last summer's crop!

This past weekend I dug up the old sod from Katie's "poo area", and we pressure washed the crap out of the back "yard" (which is really just tile, concrete and brick). We also planted some flowers and some veggies. So we have finally planted something in the ground, only about a month later than planned! 

Next weekend, we will finally have a chance to relax and enjoy with no big chores left. We just have to water and wait for something to grow. Fingers crossed that the veggies grow at least half as well as they did last year!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Free Printable Embroidery Pattern

It's been a long week of working and taking classes for my volunteer position at the PAWS animal shelter. But I did take some time to make a quick pattern based off of a vintage illustration.

Click on the image and "save as" to keep your free copy. If you turn it into an embroidered piece, leave a link to your image in the comments below so I can see it! I can't wait to see what other people turn it into!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Garden Musings: Planting Potatoes

Last year when we prepped our garden beds, we found some small potato starts buried deep in the dirt. The beds had previously held tall floral plants that were added by our landlords. On one end of the largest bed, they had a few strawberry plants and some potatoes. We didn't see any signs of the veggies until we started digging down to reach the irrigation system.

The first part of the garden prep was to link the underground irrigation to above ground drip lines. That was a large project that turned more expensive than planned, as we found certain sections of pipe were broken or not properly routed. Luckily, Greg was able to figure it all out, so this year we can cut out the two weeks of time that sucked up trying to get it fixed!

When we discovered the potato plants, they were in the section where we had planned to plant our tomatoes. So we took the four small root sections and moved them to the opposite end of the bed. Because they had already been planted, we decided to leave them as-is and build up dirt mounds over the top.

After researching the best ways to grow potatoes, we decided we'd try planting our own in burlap sacks. This method was supposed to allow for easy dirt piling, since it is contained in a sack. It also allowed for easier watering, because you could water through the burlap. The downside being that the burlap material will break down and rot through the bottom, so be careful where you plant it! 

We planted different varieties of potatoes in 4 sacks grouped together. They grew very well, and as the leaves sprouted further upward, we unrolled the sack and added more soil/compost. Potatoes themselves are easy to plant. You just use some leftovers from your pantry, make sure it has a few "eyes", cut them in half and plant them with the "eyes" facing up.

By the end of the season, we had picked over 15 pounds of potatoes at different growth stages (baby reds were my favorite!). However, due to the amount of soil you have to use to keep filling these sacks, and the success of the pre-planted leftovers from the landlord, we've determined the in-ground mound planting is the better way to go. 

Greg still has plans to try the wood slat box version of a potato planter, but I think 4 rows of dirt mounds would give us plenty of french fries for the season!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Grumpy Cat DIY

I recently purchased my very first DIY Kidrobot vinyl toy. I bought the Trikky toy, which is a cat in a blank white slate. I made the mistake of using washable markers the first time I tried to decorate it. Luckily, they truly were washable and just came right off with water.

My second mistake was using Sharpie pen for his nose and mouth and then later deciding to make it bigger.

So I tried again with basic craft store acrylic paint and cheap brushes. I did several thin layers to build up the colors and finished it off with hard coat Mod Podge to seal it.

I think it turned out pretty great for my first try. Although, I'm not happy you can sorta see the Sharpie under some of the paint. But I've already bought my second Trikky to try another custom paint job!

Have you tried one of these DIY toys? They have them in smaller sizes for under $5 bucks if you want to practice a lot first ;)

P.s. I gave my Grumpy Cat toy to my friend/co-worker and she loves it!

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