Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Night

So.... I decorated the yard for Halloween today. I leave the mums and non-carved pumpkins out on the porch through Thanksgiving, but the real jack-o-lanterns, plastic jack-o-lanterns, foam jack-o-lanterns, 6-foot inflatable jack-o-lantern, and scarecrows are one night only. After I finished this afternoon, my across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. Shriver, said it looked pretty, but later I saw she and her husband in their front yard shaking their heads as they gazed at my Halloween Spectacle.

The front door looks a little spooky with this foam jack-o-lantern peering out at trick-or-treaters. See the red door - that's a whole other post for some other time. So is the black lock set on the storm door.

And now, the centerpiece of my All Hallow's Eve Extravaganza
Attack of the Maniacal Jack-o-Lantern!
Previously well mannered, this Scary Soul is out of his gourd. He holds a hatchet in his right hand and the severed head of some unsuspecting jack in his left hand. This macabre fellow even wears the rotting head of one of his victims around his neck. The ground is littered with rind, seeds, and pumpkin guts everywhere, and two scared squashes scream into the night, the larger one narrowly missed complete anni-shell-ation but still sustained a huge gash to his head...

Isn't it totally awesome! I did get the ideas for this scene and the Hungry Jack pumpkin from a website called, but isn't imitation the highest form of flattery? So when I was talking to Mrs. Shriver from across the street about my yard, she said, "Oh, someone has already messed up one of your pumpkins." I replied, "no, it's supposed to be like that. See the big pumpkin has a hatchet and he's attacking all the little ones." "Oh, I see now, how nice...." I'm sure she called 911 after going back inside. Wait until she sees what I have planned for Thanksgiving - stuffing strewn all across my yard, a turkey with a machete drops from the oak tree....

Pumpkin Carvin'

So.... like I said we had a good ole fashioned pumpkin carvin' last night. This is what my pumpkin looks like in the daytime (see the previous post for its night time look).

We had Frito pie and chili dogs for supper, and to set the mood I put "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" in the DVD and we watched it in the lounge prior to the carving.

I prepared the dining room table by covering it with a plastic dropcloth. We had gloves to protect ourselves from any communicable disease which may be transmitted through pumpkin guts. I bought some little cheapy ice cream scoops, which are pretty good at scraping out the inside of a pumpkin.

Erin and Joshua start by cutting the tops of their Jack-o-Lanterns. Notice the garbage bag lined bucket in the middle of the table (for pumpkin guts).

Lori and Donnie had a difficult time deciding who was going to carve which pumpkin.

I am intently carving my pumpkin. They were laughing about me sticking out my tongue. I told them about how in residency some of the nursing staff in the NICU and ICN would laugh at me when I would place iv's in premie babies' umbilical cords because I would stick out my tongue (it helps with concentration).

Lori's "Apple" pumpkin.

Donnie, the artist/ art professor, wanted to make a political statement about Iran's nuclear attempts by referencing an iconic graphic design motif (ie. I "heart" NY).

Erin used a lemon zester to create her Spider and Web design.

Joshua wanted the "pumpkiness" to show through, so he outlined his pumpkin's grooves.

Travis liked Joshua's pumpkin the best. Later that night when Joshua set his pumpkin in the yard, Travis marked it as his own.

Happy Halloween!

So.... I had this super cool pumpkin carving party tonight (10/30/07) with some friends from my K-Group from church. I'd post more pics, but the internet is really slow right now, and it is really late. Here's a taste. This is the pumpkin I carved for my porch.

Little Jack is getting eaten by Big Hungry Jack.

I'll get some pics of the Halloween Yard Decorations up for you as soon as I can. Hope you get only treats, no tricks.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cord Cozy

So.... you've mounted your wicked awesome flat screen tv in your lounge, but, uggh, those cords hanging down are so unappealing, and you're currently dogmatically opposed to making more holes in the wall, through which to snake those cords. What's a house rehabber to do?

Make a Cord Cozy; er, I mean a Cord Cover (after all, I used power tools - it's not like I knitted something).

Retrieve your handy-dandy Dremel Tool (actually mine is a Craftsman Rotary Tool). If your laundry room doubles as your workshop/tool bench, make sure you test out all manner of paint on the walls. Oh, and be sure to wear eye protection - I'm sure I look a little funny, but probably not as funny as I would if I had a Craftsman Rotary Tool sticking out of my eye (which might have happened since I did scratch my chin once when I had it turned on).

Obtain a length of PVC Pipe which will reach from said wicked awesome flat screen tv to the floor. Choose an appropriate diameter of PVC - with my four cords (power, cable, S-video, and audio) I used a 1 inch PVC. Check one end while your assistant checks the other.

Use your Craftsman Rotary Tool to zip a channel out of the PVC pipe. It really didn't zip - it was more like slow, methodical repetitiveness which causes many of the cutting disks to break (be glad you're wearing the safety glasses - you really need them when the cutting disks shatter through the air). Be sure your assistant doesn't eat the scattered shards of rotary cuttings disks or PVC dust.

Then use your really cool cordless drill (see, if the tv was cordless I wouldn't have to make this cozy, uh, cover) and create a little channel into which a screw can slide.

Make sure the head of the screw won't slip through the little channel.

Paint the "channeled" PVC pipe the color of the wall in your lounge. I'm using Sherwin-Williams Great Green.

Affix screws to the wall, I used those anchors to provide more stability. (I'll paint them after getting the cover into place). Slip your cords into the big channel, and then line the screws up with the little channel, and...

Voila! Wicked Awesome Flat Screen TV with a Wicked Awesome Cord Cozy, uh, Cover.

I know - more teasing; I'll show you some pics of the completed kitchen soon. Oh, the next time I get out the oil based trim paint, I'll make a little stripe on the Cord Cover where it crosses the chair rail. If you're wondering why I channeled out that PVC pipe, the reason is: I channeled out that length of 1-inch PVC because to snake all the cords/plugs through an intact piece of PVC I would have needed 1-1/2 inch diameter PVC, which looked huge hanging off the wall. The smaller diameter cord cozy was more aesthetically pleasing.

Forcing Bulbs, Revisited

So.... you've already read it, but I made you this awesome post about forcing bulbs, and I mentioned that you should go ahead and start them now so that they will bloom for Christmas. Well, if you're cleaning out some stuff you just threw in your closet a couple of weeks ago, and you happen to notice that there are two more bulb kits that you forgot about, go ahead and wait to start them a week to 2 weeks after you start the first set, that way you'll have blooms throughout the New Year Holiday as well.

Also, I hosted my small group from church (called a K-Group) in my house tonight. We had three new couples that came tonight (that I had really never met). Anyway, a couple of the women were saying how much they like the kitchen and that it was such a change from how the former owner had it. It was just really creepy to know those people that I didn't know had been in my house before; I know it wasn't my house then (but it was still kind of creepy).

You want to see pics of the kitchen, don't you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Forcing Bulbs

So.... one of the things I did today was get some bulbs ready for the coming holiday season. I'll be forcing Amaryllis and Paperwhites; that is, I'll be "forcing" them to grow. If you've never forced bulbs before, it is very easy to do, but you need to get started this week, or your bulbs won't flower by Christmas. I use the kits that you can buy at Wal*Mart, Lowe's, or Home Depot - you could just buy the bulbs at a nursery or online and do it yourself.

I like the kits because they come with the coolest thing - a "coir disk." I think it's just dehydrated potting soil, but it's pretty awesome.

Place the disk of dirt in a bowl. Then add 4 cups of warm water. Look how cool that shot is; you see that extra little splatter of water falling - my new camera rocks. (Go ahead click the picture and it will enlarge)

See how much water it absorbs. It's kind of like those foam dinosaurs in a pill that you can put in the tub, except this dirt is way less disappointing. Didn't you always think those foam dinosaurs would grow like 20 feet and rip a hole in the bathroom ceiling, instead they grew like an inch and weren't very scary. Anyway, "coir disks" are way less disappointing. Then you just fill your potting vessels with the soil and let the nose (pointy end) of the amaryllis bulb just stick out.

With paperwhites, I prefer to force them in a vessel with rocks (no super cool "coir disk"). Use the rocks to form a base and then secure the bulbs with their noses pointing up (snooty little flowers) with smaller rocks on top. Add enough water to just touch the bottom of the bulb. (Travis prefers to watch me garden).

Keep your bulbs watered and in a warm room with plenty of indirect light and in about 6 to 8 weeks you should have some good looking plants.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Picture a New Fixture

So.... the dining room had an old chandelier for which I did not particularly care. The following is an abbreviated and probably not too helpful photo demonstration. Go to the breakerbox and throw the breaker to the fixture to be changed. If your breaker is labeled "dinning room" as was mine, feel free to update the spelling. Unscrew a bunch of stuff and pull down the old gold chandelier which has shades that the former owner painted to match the kitchen's blue wallpaper (which was removed ~6 months ago). This chandelier can be thrown onto a pile of trash in the sun room or taken to your nurse who wants to spray paint it and put it in her daughter's room.

Next, realize that the instructions that come with your new light fixture are somewhat inadequate. Also note that you may need a red pen to mark through the steps you have already completed.

Follow the instructions closely and you will have to do things which are physically impossible for one person (who is not a master electrician). The photo show wires hanging from the fixture. The instructions state to feed those wires through some tiny pipes and holes while it is hanging from the ceiling - this is very difficult to do. I took the fixture down and fed the wires through - which was easier, but I was afraid that I'd lose points for style. However, twice on HGTV have I seen them do the exact same thing since I changed this fixture (where they are spinning the whole chandelier around).

After getting everything connected, slide the frosted globes in place. Please note that changing chandeliers is much easier to do in rooms that are only half painted. Don't worry I wasn't planning on leaving that blue next to that green.

Screw in the bulbs, reset the breaker to the "dinning room," and flip the switch - 550 WATTS OF BRILLIANT BLINDING LIGHT. Enjoy what could be compared to the corona of the sun.

I really am going to have to change the bulbs. I was working at the dining room table a few days later, and I started to sweat before I realized the air conditioner was no match for my new chandelier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


So.... most of you know that my house is currently undergoing rehab. I'm essentially finished with the kitchen/lounge. The ceiling fan in "The Lounge," previously known as the breakfast nook, was possibly fifteen years old. It was dirty. It was yellowing. It wobbled. It had light sockets that didn't work. It had to be destroyed.

Destruction is simple. After turning off the breaker to "The Lounge," unscrew every possible screw. Then throw your old, dirty, yellowing, wobbling, un-luminescent ceiling fan on a pile of trash in the sun room.

Now install a beautiful, new fan, appropriate for the size of your room. The Lounge now has a 44 inch, brushed nickel 5 blade fan with 3 alabaster globes purchased on sale at Lowes (let's build something together). Then switch the breaker back on. Fan-tastic!

Also, be sure you purchase the right type of bulbs for your new fabulous fan the first time, or you will have to go to Wal-Mart again for the third time that day. You so totally want to see pictures of the completed kitchen, don't you?

Good to See You

So.... yes, it's been over a month since I've posted anything. Sorry. I'll blame this long lapse in blogging on finishing the rehab of the Kitchen/Lounge (I know you're totally wanting to see pics, aren't you)? Well, blogger's "all jacked up on Mountain Dew" (my new ring tone) and won't let me upload pictures right now. You'll have to wait just a little longer for some posts w/pics.

Please come back to read about: the new fan, the new chandelier, before and after pics of the all new, almost totally rehabbed Kitchen/Lounge, this weekend's trip to a destination wedding (in Wisconsin), and of course Halloween is coming up (maybe some costume pics of Me or Travis and perhaps some pumpkin carving photos).

Thanks for checking back on the blog; I'll have some bloggy goodness out to you soon (when I can upload pics again).