July 30, 2011

The Joke Is on Me

This spring I bought a stevia plant from one of those big box stores. I was rather excited to find it since I was trying to cut out all sugar. The leaves looked quite a bit like another plant in my garden, one that I would never taste the leaves but I wondered if they are in the same family. I planted it in a narrow bed beside my front sidewalk and it struggled at first.

I tasted some of the first leaves and they weren't sweet at all. After some research I found that they reach their maximum sweetness in the fall, and some say it is best to let them flower and reach their full height before harvesting seeds and leaves. So I watered it every other day, watched it grow, and then bloom.

And then, today, I noticed....

The reason it looked like that other plant in my garden is because it IS like that other plant in my garden. It's a jalapeno pepper plant!

With a stevia plant tag, of course.


July 27, 2011

Tropical Storm Don. What a Tease.

Or maybe it's the local meteorologist who is a tease. First he promised a chance of rain and cooler temperatures, and then he said the storm is going to track across Corpus Christi to the west, and we will be left high and dry.


A Small Chest Makeover

From the first time I saw this little chest, I knew it had potential. But first it had to do some time at college with Lil. When I got it back, I knew I wanted to turn it into my tool chest and put it in the garage until I could work on it. When I cleaned it out the other day, I found an old Bugs Bunny toy that the girls used to play with when they were little. I don't know what it was doing in the drawer, but I pulled the string and it still talks!

Before: (I forgot to take a Before photo until I had already primed two drawers)


I wanted these drawer pulls:
But at almost $20 each, I couldn't do that. So I bought a piece of 1x2 oak for $6 and made my own drawer pulls and handles. I cut the oak into 10x1x1 strips, painted them silver, and used aluminum spacers to hold them away from the drawer fronts.

I also had to build supports for the wheels as there was no base on the cabinet.

After the wheels were on, everything was painted, and pulls put on, the last thing I did was put in rubber drawer liners so the contents wouldn't slide to the back every time it was moved.
Painting it was the real challenge. I began painting the drawers outside, but the heat made the paint dry fog before it coated the surface and it looked terrible. So Hubby rigged a spray booth in the garage and I sanded and repainted everything. Note to anyone attempting to use a spray paint in a small, closed space: Don't forget to wear a respirator. Suffice to say, nose hairs are not the best paint filters.

Hubby thinks I have gone paint crazy, because I also painted some metal containers I had. I intended to use these in the laundry room, but that didn't work out. But I think they'll work just fine in the garage for all that stuff that won't fit in a drawer or pegboard.
Before: (and again I already had one painted before I thought of taking a Before photo)



July 26, 2011

A Decorative Topiary Would Be Wasted on The Cat

But a food dish... now, that's the ticket.

For some reason, the cat will not eat all the food in his bowl and then the ants find it and the remaining food has to be thrown out before the cat sticks his head in it again. The only thing that works is to put the cat food bowl inside a larger bowl of water, as long as the cat doesn't push it to the edge.

So to thwart the ants and keep the cat from eating ants, I wanted to permanently attach a bowl to the center of a pie pan, so I can fill the pie pan with water. The hardest part was finding a flat-bottomed glass bowl that the cat could get head into. I finally bought an ashtray at the dollar store. The cat doesn't care as long as it is filled several times a day.

Most glass topiaries are glued together with regular silicone adhesive, but that isn't food safe and it is possible the cat will drink the water out of the pie pan. So I bought aquarium adhesive from the pet store.

I wanted a picture of just the bowl with food and water, but the cat thinks he has to eat every time someone touches his bowl, so I couldn't get a photo without his big head in the middle of it.

The cat has also discovered the luxury of air conditioning. At first he wasn't sure he really liked it, but now if he is out and hears it on in the garage, he meows at the door until someone lets him in.


July 17, 2011

Mrs. Roomba Finally Has a Home

For a long time, I have been thinking of building a set of tables or ottomans to flank our dresser and hide the Roomba, and I finally got around to doing that. I need somewhere to put the bedspread and pillows at night and I wanted a skirt on it to cover the Roomba's lights at night.

I thought I could build it out of scraps, which would be a good thing since I also wanted to learn to do some things I've never done before and I would hate to buy material and then mess it up. And there were mess ups. The frame is anything but pretty, but who cares as long as it is sturdy and covered with fabric?

So I have the requisite BEFORE picture:
And the AFTER picture:

And a few during pictures:
I used a biscuit joiner to put the legs and rails together. My supervisor liked to watch glue dry.

Final clamping. Or so I thought.

When I started nailing the plywood top onto the base, one of it's joint's broke open. I guess that's what I get for using a piece of plywood that was in the attic for twenty years. So I joined it back together and made an extra brace - just in case there is another place like that.

Last step before upholstering the top and adding the skirt was to make sure the Roomba could get out and back in again. Success!

I also had enough leftover fabric from the bedskirt to cover the ottoman, and I also had some foam rubber and batting so didn't have to buy a thing. It would look better covered with upholstery fabric, but since I was learning here, I didn't want to spend any money on it. It's a tad too long, but I just didn't feel like ripping out the hem and redoing it right now. I also didn't have any cording, so made do with some batting folded in half. I will definitely buy cording if I ever recover this.

Soooo, what's in your scrap pile?


July 16, 2011

Unrelenting Heat

I think the meteorologist on one of our local channels is enjoying the heat wave we are having. Every day he talks about how close we are to breaking a record for the number of days over 100 degrees in the season. We are under a heat advisory today and so far today I have heard the weather described as furnace, flame thrower, scorcher, extreme heat, and heat blast.

This morning in the garden I noticed the tips of my rubber gloves were getting longer and longer as they filled with sweat. I only wear the gloves to pick peas which the ants seem to love, but it looks like I am going to have to do that earlier in the morning.

Try to stay cool today my friends.


July 02, 2011

You Can Lead the Cat to a Carrier, But You Can't Make Him Get In

There are some things that just shouldn't be attempted by the non-professional, and taking a formerly feral cat to the vet is one of them.

But there is something wrong with the cat. He is losing weight and getting little bald patches on the back of his neck. The skin there is perfectly smooth and white, so I've ruled out fighting with another cat, ringworm, and eczema. Hubby is convinced it is fleas so I bought some over-the-counter flea medication and spent an hour chasing the cat around the garage to get that on the back of his neck. But the bald spots are spreading, the cat is scratching, and the only creatures it is bothering is us.

So I bought a cat carrier and hoped I could convince him to go in of his own free will. He was fine with the carrier when I pulled it out of the car and it looked like a tub, and he even rubbed against it. But when I put the two halves together, he recognized it as a cage and took off like a shot to hide under the pickup outside. Luckily, it was hot outside and I sweet talked him into coming into the shade of the garage. Then I picked him up and carried him over to the waiting cage, Flintstone style, so he couldn't claw me. I shut the garage doors so he couldn't escape again either.

Since he wouldn't go in the carrier on his own, I decided to prop the carrier up on end and just drop him into it. That is, until he sprouted four more legs which were pummeling me, the carrier, and anything within three feet of us. Finally, I managed to get his back legs into the carrier and started lowering his body into it. Then he reached out and grabbed an old bath towel with his front claws. I couldn't shake him loose from the towel so thought I'd just put it in the carrier with him. That's when he turned into supercat and climbed the towel to the top of the box it was on, with me hanging onto his middle section.

By then, he had knocked over the cat carrier, and I thought the easiest thing to do would be to just put him in a big plastic tote so he couldn't grab anything as I put him in. Since I had the cat gripped in both hands, I knocked over a tote with one foot, dumped out the contents, and set up back upright. Then I very gently (yes, really) placed the cat in the middle of the tote. He stood there looking at me wide-eyed but unmoving, until I took a hand off him to pick up the lid. When the lid started coming over his head, he launched out of the tub, over my head, and headed for the safety of the tiny opening under the tool bench.

By then, I was hot, mad, and didn't give a hoot whether the cat scratched himself silly and went completely bald. I may have yelled a thing or two about his lack of gratitude, then helped myself to an ice-cold fudgsicle and spent the afternoon in the air-conditioned coolness of the house. I didn't see him again for the rest of the day, and when he finally showed himself that evening, he followed me around meowing and acting contrite, but I didn't fall for it. I'm on to him now. He knew the vet wouldn't be back in town for another week.