Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our very own ending to Charlottes Web...but kind of creepy.

About 2 weeks ago we had a spate of perfect weather. Friday night we built up the first firepit of the season, bought some jumbo marshmallows and sat around, listening to the cicadas, roasting our treats and enjoying the perfect spring climate.

We were all sitting around in camping chairs, my youngest son in the chair that was next to our swing. My dad had come over to join us and was sitting on the swing.  A little before 8 he asked the boys if they wanted to walk him back to his car (He had parked about a mile away and walked over to get some exercise), and that he would maybe take them out for a treat and then bring them home. Of course they heard the word "treat" and immediately said yes.  after all, what 11 and 14 year old kids want to hang out with their parents? (especially parents who told them to quit throwing stuff into the fire. awwww, we're no fun!)

So hubby and I stayed outside, enjoying each others company, when all of the sudden I see Charles look over at the chair and swing and exclaim "!"

I looked over and what we saw was amazing. creepy, definitely, but amazing.

Within 10 minutes of my dad and kids leaving, an unknown spider sac had hatched and all these little spiderlings were making their way into the world.  The chair that my son had been sitting in was a chair we had left outside on the back porch, and when we opened it up and cleaned off the sitting area, we completely overlooked the back. Apparently, a spider had helped herself to the canvas surface and made a large sac for her babies.

The Spider sac. How we missed that is beyond me.
These spiders started creating webs to climb from the sac to the large swing, which was about 2 -3 feet away.
Then then headed up the chain to the top of the swing frame.
Can you imagine how my son and dad would have freaked out if those spiders had done that while they were still sitting in their seats?? I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

You can see all the silks they produced to start climbing up to the swing.

The spiders go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah!

I had hubby hold up a trash bag to see the spiders a little better. 

Making their way up the swing to the top

Again, you can kind of see the strings and where they are headed to

Headed up the chain

Headed to the top of the swing set to fly away

At the top of the swing set. It was like they all knew to head up to fly away.

It was really kind of amazing watching these new spiders immediately kick into instinct mode and head onward and upward..

Timeline: Within a few minutes of my kids leaving they started hatching, and about an hour later when my dad and kids had come back they were all climbing up the swing chain to the top, most of them were out of the sac, just the stragglers emerging.
 We had tons of them.

They sat atop our swing set and released themselves into the wind.  It was like the ending of Charlottes Web...(Thanks E.B. White.).

["Goodbye! Goodbye!!"
Wilbur was frantic, where are you going children?
..."we are leaving here on the warm updraft, this is our moment for setting forth... we are going out into the world to make webs for ourselves...
but where?
wherever the wind takes us. high. low. near. far. east. west. north. south. we take the breeze, we go as we please...
cries of Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye! came weakly to Wilburs ears...]

It was kind of amazing, yet a little gross at the same time.   Goodbye our little spiders.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Home remodel Project- Wood block prep area

So when our tower of terror came down, we ended up keeping the bottom half of that oven tower for the storage. Luckily the oven had a wood slab under it, so we could use that as a base for our project.
Cut out down to the slab above those drawers, so the wood slab was below our current countertops.
Endcap is holding the mixer and red basket.

Well I knew I wanted something on the end there. Originally I was thinking a huge butcher block prep area that we could use as a cutting board etc.  But in doing some research, we decided that was not the way we wanted to go.  We looked at the hardwood needed to cover that area and the amount of skill and time it would take to make something like that was beyond our limited capabilities.  So we decided to turn it into a wooden countertop type surface. To be used as a prep area, just not used as a direct cutting board surface.
Hubby found some hardwood maple plywood at Home Depot for 40$. It was a huge 4x8, THICK and heavy slab, waaaayyy bigger than what we actually needed, but realized quickly we could use the leftovers for other projects. 
So we had Home Depot do their "first two cuts free", into smaller, more manageable slabs that we could fit into the back of our Kia. (Yes, I go to Home Depot and buy ridiculously large items in a Kia).
After rifling through the entire pile of slabs to choose from, we came home with the prettiest patterned slab.(IMHO)
THE slab 

Cut down to the correct size.

Cut down to correct size.

So step one was complete. We ended up going back to Home Depot and Lowes and found some 2"  pine chair moulding to go around three of the outer edges and a thin piece of basic floor moulding to go on the counter side. The counter side we knew we wanted to cover a little bit of the actual countertop with some sort of lip or edging, because when we took the tower out and cut down, we realized the people who built this house had put in the countertops a little crooked and with gaps. So they used lots of basic moulding as decorative endging to get it to look even etc. There at one time had been a piece of backsplash on the tower to also camouflage these imperfections.  So we used this lip to cover the small crooked gap and now you would never know there was an issue.

Using a miter saw we cut those pieces to fit together. Using Tite Bond and a brad nailer, we put these edges on and clamped them while the adhesive dried. 
Once dried we used some wood putty to fill in any small corner gaps and the brad nail holes.  Did a light sand and used a wood stain to color. Following up with 4 coats of Poly coat and a 3 day waiting period, we were in business.
The great part is the chair railing hangs down just a little bit, so it fits snug and secure on the endcap and won't slide off. We reinforced it using sticky back velcro on the underside, so if we ever want to pull it up and redo, we can easily and don't have to mess with nails or glue or anything like that. This countertop is so secure, it is like we used Gorilla glue!

You can see the two types of moulding we used to create the edging.

You can see the funky grain in the edge moulding, gives it a cool zebra wood type look.

This color is exactly the color of my kitchen table, so it matched perfectly


How our next project...make a similar slab(with the leftovers) to cover the small cabinet next to the stove.
current cabinet top, we tried making from pine slabs, just to see how difficult it would be.  It was OK for an initial attempt, but now that we know what this plywood can do, we will be switching it out.

Prying off the old brick veneer backsplash
Changing out Hardware
New hanging light fixtures
new ceiling (ugh the dreaded popcorn needs to come down!)

I feel like I am getting somewhere, but at the same time i feel it will be forever until it is all done.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Random Post- a fire pit

The other night was one of those absolutely perfect evenings. Sitting outside around the fire pit, roasting marshmallows, enjoying the mild climate with the boys. I decided to grab my camera and mess around with some of the settings. You know, the ones I dont know anything about or how to use. Aperture, ISO, F-stop. All that good stuff.  I have the amazing camera and no idea how it works.  So I decided to sit back and play while gazing into the embers and flame. The first two photos here are on Automatic. I just let the camera do what it thought it should do.  Not too bad. but  i wanted to see what I could do with a manual adjustment, where I picked what aperture and what F I put it on and what ISO I chose.

Looks like a horse

another horse
As it got darker I had to start doing a trial and error type thing, to see what each one did.Some of these photos look pretty cool (in my opinion). I snapped a BUNCH, but only a few made the cut.

i THINK i've got it...boy george I think ive got it.  (Sort of. A little more practice)