Tuesday, September 24, 2013


 Because we seem to have Autumn with a vengeance ...cooler temps and a series of rain storms, the good news is that they've declared an end to fire season before October 1st. The bad news is that little Kathy has had to be head down and butt up (not a cute thing) cleaning out the greenhouse and finding room for her succulent addiction...err, I mean collection. That's the good and the bad of a very small greenhouse...you can only keep so much stuff.
One of my summer projects this year was finally growing a rosemary start into a "tree topiary." This isn't as hard as you might think, as long as you don't dwell on having to cut off most of the plant to encourage one branch to become the "trunk" of the tree. And then you have to have the fortitude to pinch off new growth to encourage it to get bushier. That's why I probably haven't had one all these years...that and the fact that I didn't want to fork over $35 for a "finished" one. It's that pinching back that gets to one but it seems to be working. I used a culinary rosemary, which just means it's the stoutest, bushiest and toughest of the rosemary family. Plus it is the most pungent. It will reside in the greenhouse this winter as rosemary can be sensitive to freezing temps, especially when it's in a pot. So, hopefully I'll have a cute, green ball with blue blossoms in the spring. Bon appetite! Did I mention that we've had lots of rosemary chicken this BBQ season?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


 Haven't you heard? Honda lawn ornaments are all the rage this year...!
 Yes, this is the entire front valence off our Honda CRZ which, according to Mr. A, came off surprisingly easily by popping off of a few "buttons." 
 Here is the reason for such a drastic action...installation of air horns.
I have been driving small cars (the Fiat 124, then the Miata) for many years and I'm convinced that the average SUV driver either doesn't see or doesn't want to acknowledge the presence of smaller cars on the road. Many a time I've cleared some SUV driver's sinuses with the jarring blare of my trusty red air horns, as a reminder that "I AM HERE, butthead"!
Now I don't always drive with my finger on the horn (except in parking lots) but nothing says "Hi there!" like the deafening sound of air horns! In my opinion, all small cars should have 'em! Just sayin'....
Gee, it's great to have a riding mechanic!


Since 2011 I've been cooking on a range that is what I call a POS (piece o' sh....) The lady that rehabbed our little rancher must have run out of funds and had to find the cheapest new stove she could buy from Home Depot or Lowe's. Maybe she spent $200 for it! It likes to turn off midway through cooking and the oven takes forever to heat up to temp and then cooks unevenly so you have to rotate the baking sheet to get even browning...
I had held out hope that one day I could have a nice gas range again but there is no venting above the stove area so the expense of having someone cut a hole in the roof and install a vent, run the gas pipe and tear out part of the wall to put in the necessary connections would be way over our budget at this point. So I've reconsidered by looking at new smooth top induction electric ranges.
Right now the big hot button in ranges is dual ovens, meaning a small oven over a larger one. When I really thought about it, I realized I didn't need 2 ovens at this point in my cooking career...not cooking for a thrashing crew these days! So I have opted for all the bells and whistles I can get in a single oven, smooth top model. That means a warming area on top of the cooking surface, a dual burner option so I can use a griddle, a speed heat burner and a convection oven that heats up in 6 minutes (instead of 15 to 20 with my present model) and a lower warming drawer.
The next step is what about reliability? For this I consulted the local appliance store that services what they sell. I asked, "Are there any stoves made in the good old USofA?" Turns out that there are some. They did tell me to stay away from off shore products like LG or Sanyo because they have a hard time getting parts. They also said that nowadays no appliance product is dead bogg reliable...they can all have issues. Most only have a 1 year warrenty! Nice!
So I am hoping to adopt a Fridgidaire "professional series" range to the tune of about $1100.
The cash for this purchase is coming from the sale of a rebuilt Saab Sonett transmission! So here's hoping someone out there will step up and help me out by needing a transmission for their little baby Saab.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


 This specimen is Sedum "burrito," similar to the original, old fashioned S. morganianum or "donkey's tail." Thus the name...a more compact version of the original! Cute, huh!
Turns out that collecting succulents is also about collecting all kinds of pots and containers to show them off to their best advantage.
Since the burrito will eventually trail down the sides of its container, I needed something vertical. I found this urn at TJMaxx. Since it doesn't have a drain hole, I filled it with packing peanuts and set the plant container on top of them. This way I can take the container out to water it, let it drain and then put it back in the urn. I used some sandpaper to rough up the paint and make the urn look weathered.
It's part of my growing succulent collection rotating between the marble topped side board in the dining room and the heated greenhouse for the winter months. It can spend the summer outside where it gets afternoon shade.
Succulents make great houseplants because they don't need a lot of attention. Perfect for me! A little water once a week and about 4 hours of moderate sunlight keep 'em going just fine. And you can buy them at supermarkets (Grocery Outlet had a nice collection in August as did Fred Meyer). Lowe's has lots of variety of them (where I got burrito), plus the garden centers have them. The only thing you have to remember is that many are not happy outside in the winter and will not survive frost. So check the plant tag or better yet, get a book about them. I love "Succulent Container Gardens" by Debra Lee Baldwin. ($29.95 at Barnes & Noble.) Great photos and so many ideas...ooooh, so many succulents, so little space!


 Felines are masters of finding special spots to hang out. Izzy, our carbon based black & white unit, likes this space in my former potting bench, now being used to hold patio stuff and the Weber tabletop BBQ on top.
"Miss Priss" has her choice of 3 benches to lounge on, but when it gets hot, she heads for this hidey hole which keeps her cool and in the shade. Note that I've added a nice soft towel. Wouldn't want our pussy to have to lay on a rough old cedar shelf!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


 Time to get out my trusty Viking sewing machine (circa 1963) and do some home upholstery sewing. My dad bought me this machine way back when "portables" meant that you could almost lift it...they were made of metal and NOT made in China! So 50 years later, it still does a great job (I did spent $75 last year to get it serviced).
 The project: Cover up the exposed, black baise fabric at the end of our sectional (we bought both ends but not the middle part because we didn't have room for it at our condo in Chico). We didn't realize that the ends wouldn't be upholstered. Luckily it came with 2 matching fabric throw pillows.
So 6 years later, I finally got around to sewing up the panels with the fabric cut from the former pillows. I mounted them to the sofas with $12 worth of sticky Velcro. No one will ever know but me (and you) that the loveseat-sized sofas didn't come this way. And it was easy.
It's nice when things turn out neat and great for the morale!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


 "The Mother Figure," my mom Esther, moved last month from her condo in Carlsbad to a retirement residence in Mtn. View. Looks like a nice place, no? Anyway, since I hadn't heard from her since I called her in early July, I rang her number and found out it had been changed to area code 650...the Bay Area! WHO KNEW?
Seems she's just been sooo busy she didn't have time to let me know that she moved. GOOD TIMES!  

Sunday, September 1, 2013


 This is our greatroom when it was staged for sale in 2011...days before we bought it. The wall color is somewhere between a peachy beige and calamine lotion! With the southwestern sun rays coming in the windows, it's TOO PINK FOR ME! But it took me 2 & 1/2 long years to "gut it up" and paint it. Wouldn't have been such a daunting task except that ALL THE ROOMS AND ALL THE CEILINGS WERE PAINTED THIS COLOR! Yikes!
So here is the "after"...a color called "Crème Brulee." No pink is sight. Throughout this 2 week painting ordeal, we managed to paint the hallway & closet, the master bedroom, closet and en suite bath,  the main bath & laundry area, the kitchen and the dining area. All with 2 gallons plus one quart of Miller Evolution paint!
Then being overcome by paint fumes, I guess (tho' this paint does very little off gassing), Mr. A got the great idea to paint a stipe on the ceiling to define the kitchen area and mimic a slightly dropped ceiling. In person it does work nicely. It fools your eyes. I guess that's why it's called "faux painting." So ignoring the guest bedroom and office bedroom, we have put away our paint rollers for awhile and are trying to "uncrick" our necks. Those ceilings are murder, not to mention marking and taping the double set of stripes!