Category Archives: This New House

Nightstand Renovation

Back when he was in high school, my youngest brother, Paul, made me a beautiful nightstand. He followed that up with an amazing bookcase.

That was many years ago and they’ve held up very well. But my nightstand finish was starting to fade and crack. I wanted to freshen it up, but didn’t really have the time or energy to strip it and refinish it. Instead, I paint washed it with two paints – one, a deep brown, the other an espresso color.

The technique is very easy – clean, sand a bit, spread on paint and wipe off. Let dry and repeat with the darker color. Often the paint is thinned with water, but when I did that, I wasn’t getting the colors I wanted. I completed the project with a finishing oil.

I think it turned out nice.



Ducks? What Ducks?

Here is what I originally wrote about the rescue and forgot to cross-post here:

After a very long week away and an even longer 8 hour drive home, this happened. A neighbor spotted these two at the local playground (with pond) and they tried to follow him home. This was yesterday and he was worried. So, since my niece and I had been driving all day, we decided we could use a walk and went to see what we could see.

These two came right up to us. They were hungry, friendly and completely ill-equipped to survive on their own. I had brought cat food along (mine ate cat and dog food along with chicken feed for that well rounded diet, LOL – or just to annoy the four-footers in the family) and they took it right out of my hand.

The only thing I had to capture them with was a cooler a friend had lent me for the trip. Deciding I’d just buy her a new one, I corralled them (one in the grass, the other I had to snag from the water) and brought them home.

Their photo is now on the neighborhood lost and found website page and they are tucked away in the garage, with food, water, cilantro – a duck favorite. Bixby is beside himself with curiosity, but I don’t want to stress them, so he’s banned from the garage.

The good news, the excitement has tempered any disapproval from the dogs about my long absence. The bad news? I’m attached (I love ducks) but am in no position at the moment to add more critters to my menagerie. There may need to be an intervention.

The ducks are still here, we are evaluating the re-homing options – I want to watch them a bit longer to see if they’ll fare well in a farm setting or if they are tightly bonded to people. They were clearly someone’s pets before being dumped. They’ve held their own with the dogs and cats and enjoy human contact – at least mine, since I’m the one who feeds them and I’ve picked them up regularly.

Ducks are generally free-range. While chickens seem okay with a small penned area, ducks want the entire yard. They’re a bit messy, but good at keeping weeds and bugs under control. These two are still very underweight and spend a lot of time resting under the bushes in my yard. But they are eating and drinking well and enjoying the pool (much to Bixby’s dismay, as it’s HIS pool), so I think they’ll be okay.

I’ve closed off the garden area so they be there and safe when the dogs are outside. Bailey has shown little interest in them, but Bixby wants to play with them. He loves the geese at the lake and he’s always been respectful with them. With the ducks, he hangs back and watches….and watches…but when they suddenly start quacking, he races over to them. Doing my best to discourage that, but it will take some time…or not…he may not be a dog who can be around birds.  They on the other hand stand their ground, so that’s good to know.

I’ll get video of them in the pool and post soon. Trust me, it’ll make you smile.

Menus will be up tonight.



Happy Summer Solstice

Had the first fire in the fire pit tonight.

Happy first day of summer!


Mission Accomplished: Fire Pit Ready for Summer

The task:

  1. Take an awkward space between two stone paths and make it into something pretty. It had been an overgrown mish-mosh of plants growing onto the patio.
  2. Use all the edging brick I had taken up when I removed two of the flower beds in front.
  3. Try and use up some of the pea gravel that is destined to be removed this summer
  4. Use up as many of the landscaping rocks that litter my backyard as possible. And by litter, I mean they are EVERYWHERE. Cannot dig a hole or walk across the yard without running into one…or five.
  5. Create a pretty fire pit.

The Result:

I need a nap.

Fun With Spray Paint

I inherited the two large metal chairs with the house. When it came time to spruce everything up, I decided to go full mid-century and go with the ice cream palette. I think they turned out rather nice. Though the green one could have used a bit more sanding. Next year.


House and Garden Update

This little peony is stuck in a dark corner of the yard and I wasn’t sure I was going to save it (I inherited 12 or 13 already) until it opened. It’s too pretty to let go, so I’ll find a good home for it with some more light in the yard.

This week will be one year since my offer was accepted on the house. Since then I have not had a day off. Not only was I busy putting the house in order, but my business exploded and I struggled to keep up. I’ve now hired some awesome help to keep the work load manageable.  And with the help of friends and family, the house is also coming together.

See those 4×4 posts? They were here, cemented in – kind of covered with plants and vines. Once we uncovered them I knew it would be where the vegetable garden could be stationed. Bad Horse built the fence and next week I’m going to the salvage yard to look for a gate.

The backyard is really all that’s left to tune up. Then it will be more normal maintenance efforts – still nothing to be scoffed at – but I’ve been working to make things as low-maintenance as possible. Especially the garden beds.

I pulled out all the plants and the walkway in this corner, in order to add more grass for the dogs (and to ease up the backyard maintenance). Once it’s in, I’ll do the same with the bed to the left of it.

It has left little time for blogging, even though I’ve been cooking up a storm. I love my kitchen, but by the end of the day, I’m toast and there is nothing left so taking photos and blogging recipes has taken a backseat.

The beginnings of my garden. By the end of today, I’ll have the rest planted.

The person who lived here before loved Iris and I have an abundance and lots of different colors. Here are a few of the early blooms:

And poppies, lots of poppies. Still waiting for the red ones to open:

And my first strawberries. The bed is looking good – but in the fall I will move it behind the garden fence. Where it will be safe.

That’s if for today. I’ll keep you posted.

Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!

Bixby was annoying me with his barking the other morning…I buzzed his bark collar and still he barked (I rarely have to even use his collar – it’s pretty harmless, you get a bigger buzz when your table is ready at Chilis – but it’s effective). I was about to buzz him again when I looked out and realized he was looking up and barking.

The balloon was almost low enough to see the people in it! So I guess he was right to bark on, despite the my protestations.

My new house has come with many pleasant surprises – and being on the flight path for the local hot air balloons is one. We get several at a time a few times a week.

Rock on Bixby, rock on.


Merry Christmas To Me!

One of my clients always gives me a great gift every Christmas. Often it’s a much needed spa gift card. This year, though, since I’d moved into a new home, he very thoughtfully gave me a gift card to a high-end kitchen store. Last week I finally had time to shop.

I used it to add new cookware to my collection. If you’ve been following along, you know I love my cast iron skillets. The rest of my cookware was high priced, high end JUNK. Seriously, it was suppose to be life-time cookware, purchased at a high end kitchen store that did nothing but pit, chip and stain. I replaced it several times under warranty, but gave up because it was more trouble than it was worth. And I wasn’t sure the chipping wasn’t toxic.

So I chose a mid-priced cookware set this time, figuring it couldn’t be worse than what I had and I was still going to rely mostly on my cast iron. I laughed  when I read the care instructions. A bit fru-fru compared to my indestructible cast iron. But I really like it, it’s been a dream to clean and heats up quickly – which I’m still getting used to – and cooks evenly


Friday Moment of Zen

I was out doing a bit of gardening when Bad Horse pointed to the sky and said “oooo”. I concurred. I am still alive and well. Been terribly busy with work and gardening…and still a bit of house stuff. I don’t know if I already mentioned, but we decided the rooms need crown moulding. I’m now the proud owner of air compressor, nail gun and chop saw. Uh-huh. I’m much happier with garden tools and cookware.

The other big projects are changing out my office ceiling fan and putting in a solar tube in the kitchen. It is cave like over by the sink and needs some help.

Gardening is an ongoing project that may never end….but I’m okay with that. It’s suppose to rain/snow tomorrow so maybe that will give me time to update you on the progress to date.

I’m doing corned beef and cabbage this Sunday, so I’ll post those recipes and some updated photos, too.

P.s. photo has a copyright on it because they used it on the evening news…


Let The Spring Gardening Begin

I was lying in bed the other night and the full plan for the garden beds came to me. So the first nice day this week, I began to implement the vision.

Here is phase one of  the side garden:


This bed is home to two Aspen groupings that are struggling at this altitude. My first order of business is to turn this into a rock garden with ice plants, black-eyed Susans, ornamental grasses and some flax for good measure. Hoping by clearing out all the high water plants, it will take some of the stress away from the Aspens. I’ll probably contact an arborist for tips on getting them healthy again.


Turning the bed into a rock garden will be easy. It appears it was a rock garden in a previous incarnation, before soil and mulch covered the rocks and plants added. The former owner collected rocks and fossils, so the yard (and by yard, I mean every inch of the yard) is full of some beautiful and unusual specimens. This was from phase one. I more than doubled it during phase two today.


Phase two – before!


An hour later, rock, mulch and plant free.


Making good progress with just a couple hours of work. I think I’ll have it completely scraped by the end of the week. Then I can begin to add the rocks back. After that, I’ll start pulling some of the larger unique ones from the backyard and add them.