Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Master Bath part 1

This is an update on the last room in our new home that needs to be transformed from start to finish: the master bathroom. The walls are painted a soft grey-green. Here is the first row of floor tile.
With the floor tile lain, work begins on the shower.
First, a water-stop must be installed. Hubby drills holes into the concrete floor to secure the initial 2x4 to the floor with sunken bolts.
Once the bottom 2x4 is secured, then two more are stacked and nailed on top.
The difference between this photo and the very first one is that hubby has placed 2x4's in between the studs for in-shower wall shelves. If you do your own, then don't place your shelf boards until you know where your tile breaks will hit BECAUSE you will want your shelves to line up with the tile lines. Lesson that was learned here the HARD way.
The drain is installed and a layer of cement poured to level with the drain and slope the floor for drainage.

Tile-backer installed all around; but cutting it creates a lot of dust.
And THIS is my job! The joys of living in a construction zone.
All seams are filled with silicone and now it's ready to tile.
The tile is begun: first the floor, then the water-stop, then the walls are tiled in stages of about 3 rows at a time to allow the bottom ones to set before moving on up.
Detail of the tile. We are using a product from Lowe's named American Olean "Tugela Green" with matching accent tiles (not yet pictured). The accent tile in this photo is how we are getting the whole bath to "flow" by using the planned sink counter tiles as a shower accent. These accent tiles are...o-kay I don't have the name on them so it will have to wait until next update post. All I know is that they come in 12x12" sheets and look like small bricks that can be separated. A note on the main tile color: although it's name infers a green undertone, it can also appear to be blue, so it makes for a nice transition from our gray-blue bedroom to our gray-green bath.

Once the shower is tiled, then the bathroom cabinets will be installed. Then the floor tile can be finished and the grout be put in all the tile, both floor and shower. Then the tile and grout will be sealed. Next, the shower fixtures and the toilet can be installed. Then the countertops on the cabinets will be built and tiled and the basins and faucets installed. Then the baseboards and door trim will complete this room.

We can do that in three weeks time, right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

1st pottery class

Son has begun taking a pottery class in the big city. It takes us 1 hour, 45 minutes to get there. 2 hours in class. Then 2 hours home again - jiggity jig (b/c creativity makes one hungry ;0) I got about an inch crocheted onto a baby blanket I'm working on while I waited. He threw three different pieces.
50 pounds of clay, a new tool kit for the clay, unlimited glazes, use of a quality wheel and kiln, 12 hours of hands-on instruction, and 6 extra hours of studio time on one's own. $207.00 Getting the chance to form clay into whatever strikes his fancy...priceless.

Son is hoping to get into an in-state college that is well known for it's art program and major in art/ceramics. We hope that this will help give him an experience that he can build on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pottery for the bath

Tucked into a wooded valley in Berea, KY is a small workshop where clay is molded and turned into works of art. Clay bells, full table settings, candlesticks, and other niceties.
Homemade cookies are served on a pottery plate. Punch is brought to thirsty customers in hand-thrown cups.
Here is what we came for: two custom-order pottery basins for our bathroom. We had to set down our punch glasses to make a most important decision.
Which two out of three do we want??!! It's enough to make you want to build another bathroom! Would you believe that they cost less than one of those mass-produced basins from the big home-improvement store? Way less.
Hard at work, trimming a 12-piece place setting - Sarah Culbreth.
Creativity flowing in Jeff Enge, the creator of our beautiful sinks.
A cooling kiln, with it's precious cargo.
They have a wonderful internet shop so check them out for yourself!

Monday, February 18, 2008

2nd Art Class

Here is our progress at Art class. To see our first class, click here. Daughter's painting. She is using the bottom photo on the right as a model. She did the blending with minimal help. She makes me a proud mama!
My painting. I'm a bit dissatisfied. The upper bud should've been done at the same time as my focal point (the big iris) but I didn't for some reason. I'm hoping that when I put the green around the bud that the differences in color will not be as noticable! I played with colors and used blue, green, black, yellow and white to do everything for the day. I have a lot more to do! I plan to add the lighter leaves in this week. I can't wait!

We added a new friend to art class last week! Another homeschool family whom I adore is riding with us now. Their daughter picked a horse model to paint. I know she was disappointed that her painting seemed so simple by the end of class, but I know our teacher will be showing her techniques that will make a big difference during the coming weeks!

Oil painting is hard to get used to if you have used other mediums before. It dries slowly so that you have to be careful about layering and adding new colors too soon. Otherwise everything wants to just blend together.

And it doesn't come out of clothes. I also learned this week that from now on, we need to hang our coats on the rack instead of the back of our chairs! Daughter's coat received a smudge of green on the right arm. Funny how she wasn't painting with green.... I WAS! Oppps!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DIY: Shaving Soap

Sometime ago, we switched from shaving cream/gel in a can to shaving soap. Part of the reason was frugality. Shaving soap lasts longer and costs less. Part of it was from environmental concerns. Every time I threw away an empty can of shaving cream, I cringed. First, I simply switched to the readily available shaving soap and lather brush from Wal-Mart. The family didn't mind. It was fun to use and initially we liked the results.

However, as the soap diminished, so did it's results. Soon, I was feeling dissatisfied with it and considering switching back. But my green-side just couldn't handle the guilt of that can of $2 gel compared to that cheap bar of soap in the small recyclable cardboard package.

Finally the lightbulb went off and I searched for a shaving soap recipe on the internet. After all, there are plenty of homemade soap recipes, so surely there were some for shaving soap. I was very pleased to find several. I started with this recipe from the internet:

Materials you will need:
Metal spoon
1-cup glass measuring cup
1/2 tablespoon witch hazel
3 Vitamin E capsules
1/2 tablespoon glycerin
2 standard round bar soap molds
Peppermint fragrance oil (10 drops)
Cinnamon fragrance oil (10 drops)
Orange coloring liquid (2-3 drops)
5 ounces coconut soap base

First slice the soap into small chunks or strips for fast melting. Then put the bits of soap into the measuring cup and place in microwave for about 45 seconds on high heat. Melting time will vary depending on the microwave you use and amount of soap. Remove and stir, then continue melting at 10-15 second intervals until completely melted. Cut the Vitamin E capsules open and squeeze out the liquid into a separate small bowl. While the soap is melting, mix the glycerin, witch hazel, fragrance oils, colorant and Vitamin E together. Mix very well until blended. Pour your soap into the round molds.

Let the soap cool and harden, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for a few minutes. This will help the soap come out of the molds easier.

I couldn't find just glycerin in the local stores and buying a whole bottle of vitamin E caplets were extravgant for me since I don't already take them, ssoooooo....

I found a small bottle of vitamin E skin oil at Wal-Mart. That seems to make sense for soap, right? Then I remembered that I had some soap-making supplies purchased from Michael's craft store years ago when I took a class from the local county extension agency. I decided to experiment a little. Ingredients I used: coconut oil soap block, glycerin soap, vitamin E oil, witch hazel (not shown), soap fragrance, and soap coloring.

So here is the patchwork recipe that I used to make my very first shaving soap:

A block of coconut oil soap about the size of a bar of Ivory bath soap
1-inch square of glycerin soap
1 tablespoon of vitamin E skin oil
1/2 tablespoon of witch hazel
3 drops of chosen soap fragrance (I wouldn't suggest pearberry in the future)
? drops of chosen soap coloring (I used about 5 drops of blue)
Metal spoon
Microwavable coffee mug

In clean coffee mug, place chopped coconut oil soap and glycerin soap. Microwave for about 30 seconds, stir, then microwave in 10 second intrevals until completely melted. Stir well.

Add witch hazel, vitamin E skin oil, fragrance, and coloring. Stir well.

Here are my results after having used it several times to ensure that it is a good product:
Hubby and daughter swear by it. I can tell a difference in the softness of Hubby's skin. I don't think it stays lathered up quite as long as the commercial soap but that's typical of homemade products. I simply lather up one section of my leg at a time.

Possible questions answered:

You can purchase a bottle of witch hazel at any drug store or store that has a beauty/drug department. I know Wal-Mart and Rite-Aid carries it. Look for it near first-aid as it is an antiseptic and often used as a skin toner too. It comes in a plastic bottle about like hydrogen peroxide but is clear like alcohol.

You don't have to add fragrances or coloring. I would imagine that sensitive skin would prefer not to have them anyway. I don't know why I picked "pearberry" at the time, but I wish I had picked something else. Remember to consider the preferences of your other family members if you share the shower!

You can buy a shaving brush nearly anywhere that shaving products are sold.

If you try my recipe or experiment with your own version, leave me a comment about how it turned out. We only learn from our mistakes and successes if we share!

Let it snow! (and turn down the heat!)

First of all, an update on our storage/moving/getting-rid-of-stuff situation.
As you can see from the picture, we bought a storage building. After consideration and serious shopping around, we found a USED/REPOSSESED building for very close to the amount of the materials that it would've taken for us to build it! What a blessing and a weight off of us. God is good! Then, despite being told that it would be Monday before it would be delivered, we received it on Saturday morning...just when we needed it the most! God is merciful!

We spent all day on Saturday moving things like the very heavy wood heating stove and garage tools and the chest freezer and other heavy things. After two full loads with a truck and large flat-bed trailer, we were very glad to call it a good day. We laugh at the fact that we decided it best to put the freezer on the front porch in true redneck fashion. It's only temporay (probably JUST a couple of years) until we build a garage near the house. LOL!

We were planning to use the old house to have a huge indoor "yard sale" of the many, many things that we've decided to let go of as clutter. Then we got the electric bill for the old house. Just having left the heat on in the living room for one week while we sorted through our junk cost us almost $100! Hubby simply summed it up: It would cost us more in heat to have a sale than we would make while trying to get rid of all our unwanted things. So the decision has been made to donate everything to charity instead...and turn off the heat!

Related to that...we have also turned down our home thermostat by 3 degrees! Our bill was way out of our expected budget allotment this month, so we are burning more wood in the fireplace and wearing more clothes in the house! Wouldn't you know has iced and snowed for the last two days!
We woke up this morning to a scene that looks like the world has been frosted with pure white icing.
What a pretty irony in the snow-print left by my FLIP-FLOPS this morning. Delight in the simple and beautiful, everyday things!

Monday, February 11, 2008

1st Art Class

Daughter and I started an art class here last week. For $20 you get a canvas and the use of all their brushes and oil paints.

The first thing to do was to pick a subject to paint. We browsed through several artist's book and magazines. Daughter picked a harbor scene. I picked a purple iris. My grandmother loved irises and was a painter herself, so this attempt will be a type of rememberance of her.

Next, we went to the copier where one of the teachers would size your subject-picture to a canvas and make a copy. We had no idea why.

Then we went to a table to pick our canvas and some carbon paper. Ah-ha! Instead of a drawing lesson, we (and most everyone else) could "cheat" by tracing the copied picture onto the canvas with the carbon paper. I asked if it would be a big deal it I tried my picture free-hand. Not that I'm any good - just that I wasn't going to be picky about my painting looking exactly like the original! So I skipped the tracing and tried a little freehand scribbling.

Then another teacher helped us to pick our paint colors. Blue and white for daughter's sky. Blue, yellow, and white for my background.

Here is what we accomplished in just over 1 1/2 hours of that class: (try to click on the photos for enlargement.) Daughter's harbor scene: a house, lighthouse, fence, dingy, sky and water.
My attempt at an iris: the background is actually much darker than it shows in this photo. Where there is not blue, there is yellow. You can see the original picture above my canvas.

The teachers would walk by and give advice on blending and such. They are really very nice. The class was crowded! I bet that there were 6 ladies over 50, 6 my age group, and then 7 much younger than me.

There were two other homeschooling families there. And I hope that a friend of mine and her daughter can start riding with us too! It was disappointing to leave after two hours. I wanted to work some more!

I'll post our progress as it happens.

Friday, February 08, 2008

To Keep or Not To Keep


"Think, think, think."

I feel a bit like Pooh Bear today.

My dilemma isn't empty honey-pots. In fact, it can be likened to having TOO MUCH honey.

We still have many, many items at our previous house. Some of them are very useful, like the smooth-top range in good condition and lots of outgrown clothes that would easily sell in a yard sale (if it weren't still winter!) and tools that have no garage to go into yet. And all those canning jars. I feel a bit befuddled about the process.

Part of me wants to pack every bit of it into bins and store it "somewhere, anywhere" for later when someone may need an old radio cabinet case. We have a perfectly good woodstove that we want to keep, but how to move it and where to store it until we build a garage? But the decisions can't wait. Today is the last day that we have legal rights to the property. We are acting on the hope that the mortage company could care less during the weekend.

My options:

(1) Pack up everything and put it into storage in our little farm cabin or in the nooks and crannies of kind family members' storage spaces. (The costly option would be to rent a storage unit in town 20 miles away or to buy a storage building...very expensive.)

(2) Pack only those things that are necessary or well-valued. Separate the rest for either charity or the trash.

(3) Have a huge indoor sale this weekend and make a family event out of it. Maybe even "camp" at the old house. Give away what's left.

So here I am, on my thinking stump. Trying to fit it all into my very small bear brain.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Flooding in our county

Look closely at the picture below of our view. That's WATER gleaming in the bottom!
Hubby called me right after he left for work, to say that school was closed and he had to drive all the way to another town to avoid closed roads. By the time Daughter and I got out with the camera (for a mini-adventure) the water had already receded a good 4 feet. This is the river right before we entered town. Everything on this side of the tree line is normally a field.
The picture above and the one below is taken at the park. The river (Green River) runs very close to the park, but not this close normally!
You can see how fast the water was running even near the bank.
We looped around town then headed back towards home on the other side of the river from whence we came. Middleburg community was still flooded.This bovine was being herded to higher ground. We stopped to block her from going back to the flooded field she just came from. Her owner was then able to herd her to an upper field on the left side of the highway.
This is a road between Middleburg and Yosemite (for those that know the area.) We weren't going to cross it BUT a few moments later a couple of trucks came through it fine (and I was able to see that if we stayed in the right lane that we could easily make it.)
This is the community of Yosemite. When Hubby had to bypass it this morning, the water was flowing all the way up to the store on the far right past that road-department truck.

This is East Middleburg. No getting through there!
So we drove back towards home and then a little further to see if we could find the flooded place that we could see from our farm. This is Indian Creek. The water was running a little too fast here to want to attempt crossing in a van.
Look at the pretty designs that the river mud left on the road.
Daughter stepped into the mud as she got out of the van. It was a lot deeper than it looked. Good thing we put on our old shoes!
Hubby....DON'T LOOK at this next picture! During the storm last night I thought I heard the roof popping a bit and was worried about the metal roof. This was the only damage we have. But the good news is...I found the grill cover! Found it while I was checking the house for damage. It's in the ravine to the right of the house. Aren't we blessed?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I'm sorry but I had to tell this one on myself....

Have you ever watched a nature show or any show for that matter that had little monkeys on it? You know how they twist their heads this way and that in a fast manner, even upside down, as if they are trying to see things from every angle possible? Then, they sometimes chatter or screech right before they leap for something?

Well, I was putting polyurethane on some interior doors today and well...

I had to laugh when I realized that I must look like a monkey as I was trying to see the spots I missed or where I had a run to catch. Especially after smelling the poly all day! I caught myself actually turning my head nearly upside down to see a spot in glare of the lights after having tried seeing it from every other angle. Then, when I'd spot one, I'd say "aaawwww" as I leapt to attack it before it dried!

Actually, I probably looked more like a silverback on speed.

Nose to the grindstone

(fellow leveling the area that our deck will soon occupy)

I apologize for not posting this past week. Life and all. Son's college applications and financial aid application and taxes have been taking up my mental space.

Plus, I apologize in advance for posting erratically for February and March. You see, we have to have the house COMPLETED by April 1st. Although the only two major projects left are to build the deck and the master bathroom (cabinets, plumbing, pretty much all the major things) there are still many smaller yet necessary tasks to finish before one could call our house "done"! So, pray for us, that we will be able to finish the house by the deadline and that we will have good weather in which to finish the outside work.

Today, Hubby and I are working on a list of all the tasks to complete and splitting them up into a timeline. All housework and major meals are on a "needs-only" basis and we will be eating more take-out and ignoring the dust bunnies. Hubby pointed out to me that a bought meal every night would still cost less than having paid laborers to finish the house. Although we may still have to resort to that near the end, it is our hope to do as much of the labor as possible ourselves.

So, excuse the my absence and all the mud! I'll be lurking on my breaks and snapping photos to share as the construction comes to a close!
Blessings to you all!