Thursday, February 18, 2016

Backyard Chickens 101

Backyard Chicken Farming:  

Do you all know anyone who owns chickens?  Have they tried to get you interested in having a chicken or three of your own?   Did you know that backyard chickens are becoming a really popular pet/pass time/hobby?   

I am not going to lie, I love my chickens.  Not only that but I am not the only person I know with chickens.  In fact, in my small group of friends in the Dallas area, I know of at least 3 other people directly who raise chickens and a few other people who raise them through friends of friends.  That's a lot of chickens folks, and I am in a large suburban area.   


When you start raising chickens there are a few things you should understand.  I am going to list them in no particular order.   

By the way,  the photos in this blog are just a few of my chickens.   Aren't they cute?   The Silkie above is named Silkie, original huh?  The little White Americauna at the top of the Blog is named Laurel after my niece.   They all have names but with 30 chickens it is a test for me to remember them day to day.   The hen below is Pocahauntis, below that is either Winnie or Dottie but I can't tell the difference because they look alike followed by Rex, the Roo, El Chappo the little Roo, our only surviving white leg horn Trip, Charlie the Roo, Red,  and in the egg box is Cinnderella.  Woohoo!  I managed to get all those right!   It's actually harder than you imagine telling chickens apart! 

Okay, so all you need to know about chickens you learn from a blog?  Not even close!  I will give you a brief overview but trust me, I read about them all the time.  No, really.  
Winnie or Dottie I am not sure

First things first, before you buy chicks you have to have a place for them, water and food dispensers and a plan for when they are ready to go out into the world.  Are you going to free range or will you give them limited and protected space to range?   If it's the later you will have to build them some sort of enclosed space.  

Next, when you buy babies you have to raise them in a brooder with a heat lamp for about the first 6 weeks to forever or whenever they get fully feathered.   Now, if you are lucky enough to plan this chick raising for summer and you live somewhere where it is hot, like say, Texas,  you can actually raise the babies outside without the aid of a heat lamp because there is this thing called the sun.  However, make sure you have a really safe, predator free place to raise your chicks because all kinds of animals are going to see them as food from birds to dogs and cats to things that go bump in the night.   Know the difference between straight runs and pullets before you buy chickens or you may end up with roosters you don't want.   Most breeds are available in straight runs (where they sexed the hens) but certain breeds aren't ao you take your chances.  For the record, I love my roosters.   They are protective of my hens and they are fun.   If you live in an area where the noise is a problem however, you may have to adopt them out and that can be a problem.  Unfortunately,  they end up too often on someone's table.  (Rex doesn't approve.) 


Make sure to put your chicks on a medicated chick food.  They need it to prevent disease.  

El Chapo

Realize no matter what you do, you are going to lose some.  This little leghorn who is now named Trip was originally one of 3.  The other two we lost, one to a freak accident and one to a predator.   It's the hazard of letting them roam free range and be chickens.   She is still just a baby, by the way.   


Speaking of that,  know that you are going to be raising them for at least 6 months before you get eggs.   I would guess it goes without saying but you never know, roosters don't lay eggs.   Some of the smaller breeds like the Silkies may not lay for 12 months or more.   Some breeds lay better than others but no chicken lays every day.  The best layers average about 270 days a year.   Pretty much we are averaging 12 eggs a day with 30 chickens, 3 of which are roosters and probably 3 more of which are not yet laying.   


Watch your chickens.  Learn their personalities.   They have them.  Because we spent several days a week last summer watching our chickens after work, I became very familiar with my chickens personalities which has allowed me to key in when three of them were just not right.   That has caused me to isolate them early and prevent not only them from dying but also my flock from contracting Fowl Pox, a highly contagious disease.  I took steps to boost their immune system ASAP and they are all super healthy, thank heavens.  

Red (It might be Ruby)

Prepare your yard:
You are going to lose plants.  Some they will eat.  Some they will just perch in like the bush below which is a favorite.   Your garden may become their garden.   We had to put a barrier up around our tomato plants last summer.   My begonias were goners once the chickens found them.   There are flowers that are safe but you will have to research and test what works best in your area Even with chicken safe flowers, my flower beds look like little mini-bombs went off.  Chickens dust as a way to keep mites off and they burrow into the beds doing it.  It is just part of their charm. 

Keep in mind that after a while you are going to have hens sitting in egg boxes like ours. 


And a refrigerator full of these beauties:

About  2 1/2 days worth
There is a lot that goes in to raising chickens and I would highly suggest that before you commit you read some blogs, follow some pages on Facebook and, of course, feel free to ask me or anyone else who has chickens.  I was lucky, my husband has raised them for years.  That said, even he wasn't aware of some of the things we encountered, like Fowl Pox.  In fact, that was something a friend spotted from a picture I posted of my sick chicken on Facebook.  He had a good eye because even after I read up on the illness, I wasn't sure how he knew.  She had only one tiny black spot on her waddle.  Luckily, I was able to hand feed and water her and she is good as new and running around the back yard and laying eggs again like a champ.  The moral of the story, with chickens, you are always learning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

DIY: Antique Desk Makeover Part 1:Stripping

Original all the detail is hidden under layers of dirt and paint!
I don't usually do 2 part DIY blogs but this desk is a beast.  What I know about this piece is minimal as in my husband salvaged this from the trash heap somewhere he was working.  The owner gladly told him to take it off his hands and my husband, knowing me, gladly presented me with my free gift which my kid immediately claimed for her room, upon me agreeing to refinish it for her.   There went my profit but some things, money just can't buy, like a kid's smile. 

I should have taken a picture of the top which was stained with ring marks, scratches and just general abuse.   Additionally there were stickers and tape all over the piece.

Top sanded and Paint stripper applied

I don't usually use paint stripper but a few things occurred to me when we started sanding the top of this piece.   First, I don't know what type of paint they used on this puppy.  It is old, so it wasn't completely impossible that sanding it was causing me to breath in lead paint.  YUCK!   Next, it became clear this piece was painted and painted and painted.   When you are working on something old and you don't know exactly what kind of paint you are dealing with, it is probably better to be safe than sorry and use stripper to remove the majority of the finish first.  Breathing in lead paint is a no-no.  Not to mention we went through a belt sander pad and 2 orbital sander pads just on the top. To put that in perspective, I have sanded an entire dining table with one orbital sander pad and not even retired the thing after.  My belt sander has had one pad change since I bought it.  We put a brand new one on for this piece and my husband used it on part of the top and it shredded the sanding belt.  

This desk is just mean!  So mean, in fact, I started to worry about what I would find when I got through the top.  Was it wood or some 70's reproduction of an antique desk in laminate that I was wasting my time on?  Was it possessed?  Was this desk actually tossed out because it was evil?  When I put this in the kid's room, was blood going to start dripping from the ceiling and strange eyes stare back from the windows. Was she going to be encouraged by the desk to murder her father and myself in the middle of the night?   I may or may not have thought of these things as I worked on it.  I also may need to stop watching horror films and Forensic Files. (Shout out to Mili-Wife: if this happens, sell the story to Lifetime.  It will make the best darn movie they have made in a LONG time!) 

Citristrip and elbow grease 
As I began removing paint,  I could distinctly detect at least 4 layers of finish slapped one on top of the other on top of the other which were not only making paint removal miserable but hiding the detail on the piece. White, a yellowish white, black, and the original stain. That doesn't even include the spider eggs and all the dirt and grime and webs I removed with my hands because there is no pride and no fear in refinishing furniture people! The stripper has done a wonderful job of removing a vast majority of the paint and once it is off, the smooth finish sides and drawers are easy to sand down and ready for a new finish but the detail parts are taking a lot of time and love to clean out.  In fact, I worked on this for a couple hours last night after work and managed to get the drawers and detail on top of the desk all clean and pretty but the legs are still a work in progress and I am quickly realizing I need some new sand paper to finish them.   So, tonight there is a Walmart trip in the plans and some additional work to be done.  

A few things to know when you use paint stripper:

*It is incredibly messy-see all the paint chips on our garage carpet?  Yes, I should have put plastic down, silly me. 
*Use gloves:  I am terrible at this and always end up with stains and paint all over me but this stuff is toxic, I mean it removes paint for heaven;s sake, so use gloves unless you are just incredibly careful.
*Let it sit....and sit...and sit.   The longer, the better, up to 24 hours.   The longer you let it sit, the easier it peals off.  Even if you don't get it all removed and it dries, the stripper has cracked the paint and made it much easier to remove.  I used a putty knife and just peeled the stuff right off.  
*Don't give up.   Keep the big picture in mind.  When I get frustrated with this project, I remind myself of the vision I have for this piece and that, if not for the quick thinking of my husband, this charming old desk was headed for the landfill.   It is soon to grace my kids room and with the help of an old chair from my dinning room and some new fabric for the cushion, she is going to have a nice place to do her homework.   All this work will pay off.  Unless, of course, it is possessed, in which case, well this will just suck. 

Note: The last picture isn't what it looks like now, but you are going to have to wait until part 2 for the rest. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

2016: Secrets of Addiction and recovery or Learning to Live right

There wasn't a smile, trust me! 

Fitness and Food have always been a problem for me.    Somewhere back in time, I wrote a blog or two about my struggles.   Beats me where they are and looking back on some of the stuff in my blog makes me sad so let me give you the Cliff's Notes version:

*I have suffered from compulsive eating and bulimia since somewhere between birth and 16 years of age.   I don't really remember when it started, I just know it started.   I am 45 so let's just say I have struggled about 30 years of my life.  

*I don't know what a "Normal relationship with food" means.

*I tend to be just a little bit OCD when it comes to food and fitness.

*I go in funks that can last years.   I either am really on with my food and fitness or very, very off.  I have been off for about 3 years.   There are a ton of excuses for why I fell off the wagon 3 years ago: broken heart, work stress, life stress, friendship stress, but all they are is excuses.   For example, the broken heart part, well, since that broken heart 3 years ago I fell in love and got married.  You would think that would snap me out of it but no such luck.   

So what does that say about me?  I am a freaking mess, I suppose.   In the 2 1/2 years my husband has known me, I have never been "In my zone".   See, I get in a fitness zone and when I am in it, I am a demon.  My doctor has never seen anyone lose weight faster than I do.  Well, I did.  I have no idea if my 45 year old self can do it but my 40 year old self was a master at it.   Don't let me kid you, that is part of the bulimia too.  I have been known to workout for 2 hours a day and eat 800 calories while doing it, to be thin.   I am not proud, mind you, just honest.

Anyway, I digress.   I have slowly started to work myself back into working out.  There is a magic thing that happens to me when I workout and it has nothing to do with losing weight, well, it does but as a side effect.   When I work out, I eat healthier.   I figured out a long time ago, if I am going to work my bottom off and still eat M&M's then I might as well just not workout.  

So at the beginning of the year I decided to make slow changes, because for me, diving in head first can send me on a roller coaster of bulimic tendencies and I now have a 12 year old girl in the house, who, as most 12 year old girls do, feels like crap about her appearance half the time.   She brushes it off and plays tough, but she doesn't fool me and my obligation is to set an example so, I have started to make a few changes.

First, I started by eliminating the high calorie, fun flavored creamer that I put in my coffee.   I switched to almond/coconut milk and while not anywhere near as flavorful, it gets the job done.  I also cut out all candy and sweets.   I bake nothing sugary and I keep next to nothing in the house to tempt me.  (Full Disclosure: Somewhere up on the top shelf in the baking section of my pantry are chocolate chips.  The good kind.  The chocolate crack kind.  At least, I think there are.   I haven't moved all the stuff in front of them to check.)

Next, I started to narrow down what is causing me to have serious stomach pain about every freaking day of my life, or 5 days a week, whichever is shorter.   I have pretty much concluded after not eating gluten for several days then eating gluten on the last two Sundays, that gluten and I do not get along. (My husband makes the best buttermilk fried chicken in the world.  It is amazing and dipped in flour.  I tried really hard to stay away from it this weekend but it called me and I answered it's dang siren call.   Trust me I am paying for it today.) 

So I have switched to protein filled green smoothies about once a day and healthier veggie and meat based foods.  Sometimes I have them twice a day, which I am going to explain below.  

Now, here is the worst part, I had a surgery two years ago which should have helped me lose weight but because I am a sugar addict, it helped me lose 60 pounds before I realized I could still eat sugar and gained 30 back.   In other words, I failed at the "easy way out" too.   Let me tell you one thing about any type of surgery, it is not the easy way out of anything.   A side effect of the surgery I had is that when I eat too much, to this day I vomit.   Unfortunately, most sugar and calorie filled stuff doesn't require you to eat a bunch before you blow your whole day.   A second and really annoying side effect is that raw veggies make me sick about 90% of the time.   This means for me, eating salad with a chicken breast is a crap shoot.  I may be able to stomach it one night and the next day, it makes me sick.   This sucks because I am just weird enough to like raw veggies.   As I said above, I have added green smoothies into my diet.  What I have figured out about that is that when I put spinach in the smoothie, it doesn't  give me the digestive challenges that eating a cup of spinach can.   So, I make a smoothie with spinach and a banana and protein powder because my goal after having surgery is to get between 60 grams and 90 grams of protein a day.   That's a lot.   

The one positive about the surgery, the one thing it forced me to stop doing, which I have never been able to stop previously, is purging.   Maybe it is because the surgery causes you to purge at times but mostly I believe it is because, once I went through with the surgery, I just couldn't do that to my body anymore.  Making myself sick when I am already struggling with constant stomach problems, is just not an answer for me anymore.  

Okay, so in the end, what I am telling you is that I am a 45 year old, overweight woman with at least 2 eating disorders, gluten intolerance, an addiction to cigarettes which will probably kill me and I made 2016 a year for baby step changes to get me back on track for good.   So yes, I am working out and behind that smiley face above you will see an exhausted old lady.   I am working on cutting the literal fat out of my diet and even replacing my cigarettes with something good for me.  (I haven't figured that one out yet because Ecigs are not good for me either.)

Here are my weight and fitness goals for this year:

Weight: Lose 50 pounds.   I have lost 6 so far this year so only 44 more to go!  
Workouts:  At least 3 times a week until I have a good base built up then 5 days a week.  With my ultimate goal to be back on my mountain bike by my 46 birthday.  That is in August if you are keeping track I have just under 6 months to get there. 
Quit smoking......TBD.

Food: I have started keeping track of my food (most days) on one of those on-line calorie tracker things.  I forget on the weekends mostly.
Fitness:  I am going to be working out at home.  I use to go to the gym right after work.  I use to also be single and not have anyone else at home to answer to.  Now, just to be able to tell my husband: I am working out now, when I get  home, sometimes takes effort.  The minute I walk in the door, a to-do list hits me in the face.   I am working on getting all three of us used to the idea that when I get home, I am changing cloths and working out.  

 Years ago, I learned to take a 12 step approach to eating disorders and take it one day at a time.   Today I wanted pizza, gluten free pizza but pizza.  Instead I had a salad (and yes it gave me an upset tummy) and I feel like I did right.  I told myself, just for today, just for lunch, I will make the right decision.   This is what I am working on right now, telling myself, just for today I will eat right and workout.   If I take it as a daily challenge instead of getting fixated on the big picture, I am hoping to finally get into a life long habit.

Oh, happy Monday people!   Happy Presidents Day.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's Blog: The best part of marriage and a message to my single friends

He is such a grump when the camera comes out!
Valentine's Day is coming up fast and with it, the pressure to not be single, be romantic, and get the right gift.    Seriously, the stress involved is just silly.  Single people should celebrate being single.  There are benefits, even if it seems lonely at times.     Relationships, on the other hand,  can't be dictated by a day on the calendar and love isn't something you plan like a dinner menu.   Love really is more like pot luck.  You get what you bring to it and some bonus material that you may or may not have planned on.   When I was single, I had all these romantic ideas about what it must be like to be married on Valentine's Day.   I happened to marry the most romantically challenged man on the face of the earth.  Actually, that is not true, he just thinks differently.  I think flowers are a romantic gift and he thinks showing me blue bird's flying around is a gift.   Truth be told, I have learned to appreciate his little gestures of love even though he can't understand why I insist on buying him stuff.   I even tried to explain that gifts are my love language.   He is too level headed for that.  He isn't cheap, he just has a different idea about what matters.  

Sometimes I think we go into relationships with preconceived notions of what love and marriage mean.  The truth is, it means something different to different people.  For example, I get up and make breakfast for him and my step-daughter about once during the week, sometimes twice.  This morning when I did this, he asked me if I was making him a toast egg-sandwich.  I told him "No, that one is for Liv."  He looked at me and said simply "Thank you for being a good stepmom."  It hit me like a ton of bricks, if I had a child and he was the stepdad, the most important thing to me would be that he loved and took care of my child.  I was honestly touched.  Maybe I give him too much credit but I think it is likely, I don't give him enough.

So without further ado, here are my favorite things about (my) marriage:

*Someone to watch over me:
This is something that can be wonderful but it can also be irritating.   There are times when having my back is the greatest thing about my husband but there are times when he is watching over me and I don't want him looking.   Case in point: Diet Coke.   He is looking out for my best interest and I know it, when he nags me about drinking water and not Diet Coke but I like Diet Coke.   I mean, not as much as coffee but honestly, I feel like it is something I need in my life, even if it isn't good for me.  He nags.  I ignore him nagging.  That is pretty much where we are with Diet Coke.

*Someone to make me laugh:
When I am having a bad day, he tries to cheer me up.  He tells me stupid jokes that make me laugh.  He is the funniest person I know and that makes him wonderful, in my book.   Compatibility on sense of humor may be the biggest part of getting along in a marriage. 

*Someone to share the load with:
We each have our own, special gifts but when we are trying to get things done, and I ask him to help, he jumps right in.  Our only problem is when he needs help and forgets to ask.  

*Someone to play with:
It is like having your best friend living with you at all times.  We play like we are 10 years old.  I mean, actually play.  I can't remember the last time I played with anyone.   Playing keeps you young. Sometimes we are playing around and we actually have to tell the kid that we aren't fighting, we are playing because it looks like we are trying to kill each other. :) 

*Someone to support your crazy ideas:
Sometimes one of us comes up with a crazy idea and we support the goofy.   My ideas tend to run the "I am going to start refinishing furniture and see if I can sell it" crazy train and his tend to run the "Hey, let's bulldoze the backyard and rebuild it to work better for us" kind of crazy.   Either way, we are there bouncing ideas off one another and trying to find a way to make the other person's dream work.  

*Have hug, will travel:
I don't really know what all men are like, but mine doesn't take hints well.  I have learned in the year and a half we have been married and two and a half years we have been together, to just come out and tell him when I need a hug or a back rub or a shoulder to cry on.   See, he is a man and subtle hints don't seem to work well with him.   He is always there to prop me up when I need it and I appreciate that! 

*It's Okay:
We have both had a lot of challenges in the last year, most related to work and changes at our places of business.   When either one of us gets down, the other is there to listen, support, and just basically tell the other 'It's okay.  We will get through this somehow.'   That's actually nice, even when you don't want to hear it. 

*Bad Times:
Bad things happen to everyone.  There are a lot of things you can control but there are a lot of things you can't control.   Companies get sold, people get sick, people die.   When those bad times happen, it is nice to know you have someone there who will pick you up or remind you of what you still have instead of focusing on what you lost. 

*Learning to spread your wings:
Here is the thing, there is no guarantee when you fall in love, you will love someone with your same hobbies. You love who you love, and no matter how much I laugh when I read a blog from a single person saying "10 things I must have from a man to get married"  that simply isn't reality.  You love someone for who they are not what they have.  So hubs and I have different ideas of "super fun"!  I love going to Texas Rangers games, writing, and painting pretty much anything, furniture, the walls, pictures, you name it, I have painted it.    My husband has never been more than a cursory fan of baseball, never reads my blog, and when I ask him about painting the walls, instead of giving me his color preference he says "Do we have any paint in the garage we don't have to actually buy?"   He, on the other hand, likes hunting and fishing, and running around on a 4 wheeler in the cold, wet, fall.  He Me?  I would rather have a heater, shower, indoor plumbing and no sand between my teeth.  I go with him as much as I can stand, can manage to get away from the house. When he comes to me excited about a new fishing thingy or a new hunting what-cha-call-it, I look like the deer in headlights.   We push each other outside of our comfort zones.   It is good to experience things you have never done and places you never knew existed.  

The biggest struggle of our first year of marriage and the biggest change in our second year of marriage has been compromise.  We have learned to give each other the things we want but not always when we ask the other.  My mixer is the perfect example.  I nagged, bugged, harassed, talked with him about my mixer for several months, weeks leading up to Christmas.   I dropped hints and basically begged him for it.  It was not the right time.  We had agreed we were going to take it easy this past Christmas and not go crazy.   So, I continued to mention it like every other day week after Christmas. Well, as it so happens, I may have put it on Facebook a time or two (dozen) as well.   My friends all knew and three of them were actually shopping when they saw them on sale and sent me different messages.   Turns out, one was marked down about $100 (even thought the price tag said it was marked down $200, I knew better) and when you added the gift cards I had gotten into the mix,  I managed to get the thing for like $40.  I presented the option to him and his response was somewhere between "Yes! Let's go do this! Finally a mixer!" and "Oh thank God you will finally shut up about that damn mixer!".   I don't remember exactly where it was in there because I was too excited.   

Being Single:

Somehow when I was single, I equated that to being broken.   It took me basically meeting my husband and getting married to realize that there was nothing wrong with me before I married him and being married doesn't mean I am better or more worthy.   See, the fact is that while I love and adore my husband, the reality is, had we met 20 years ago, there is a real possibility that he would have hated me, and although he is pretty funny, I might not have liked him.   Timing was important in our relationship.   God knew better!

So, I was never very nice to myself when I was single.  I always wanted to be the girl with the flowers and dinner dates on Valentine's Day.   Do you know what I would love now that I am married?  Time alone.   Seriously, an few hours or better yet, an entire day to myself when I wouldn't feel guilty about reading a book or going shopping and leaving my family to fend for themselves.  When I wouldn't think about grocery shopping or house cleaning.  Time to get my nails done and not remember that the money I spent on them would have been better spent on a new pair of jeans for the kid or repairing the husbands thing-a-ma-jig.   

I really missed my chance to celebrate being single, when I was, so what I wish for all my single friends out there is that they take some time on Feb. 14th to celebrate the person they should love most, themselves.   Be nice to yourself.  Buy your own darn flowers and one of those stupid heart shaped boxes of chocolate.   Sign up to take a class, maybe it is time for that cooking, fitness, painting  or scuba diving class that you have been dying to secretly try.   Soak in the tub with bubbles up to your eyebrows and a glass of wine next to you watching old comedies on Netflix.   Sleep in and enjoy it because honestly, when you get married, you may never sleep in again.   Be kind to yourself because if you don't love you, it is a lot harder for someone else to love you. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Loving old stuff

*Chest of drawers

There is a certain charm and quality that old things have that seem missing in modern incarnations.   I remember an episode of Little House on the Prairie where Charles Ingalls hand crafted a table (or something, forgive me, I haven't seen the show in like 25 years) and sold it for a little profit.  At one point his table was noticed by a mass producer and suddenly his simple style and hand crafted piece became a thing of mass production.  Naturally, the mass produced copies were not made with the same quality that Laura's pop put into the piece but cheap won over quality and character.   Skip ahead to a modern day auction where Charles' piece is still hanging around and still speaking to people.   The piece sold for a pretty penny at the auction and the winning bidders were thrilled with the piece even though it had suffered scratches and dings in the 100 years since it was originally crafted.  Those love marks made it look and feel as appreciated and special as it clearly was.   Of course, you know it is dad's piece by his marking on the bottom.   The point of the story was cheaper doesn't always mean better.   

I have refinished old beat up pieces that needs some work, the chest above for instance.   It has dove tail drawers, a quality stamp in the making when you buy an old piece of furniture that you look for before settling on something.  Modern furniture usually do drawers that are less complex and not quite as sturdy.  This piece however is old and when I worked on it, it took some loving care to get the joints secure and the drawers sliding right.   Nothing too complex but it took a great deal of my time and is one reason I don't really want to part with it.    One thing kept coming to my mind when I was working on it however, what was it in its time?

Now, obviously it is a chest of drawers but the piece itself has some features that are simply nice.  The top two drawers are smaller and there are compartments in them.   The drawers were obviously intended for ladies delicate items and the maker put in some quality touches that you don't see today.   The scroll work was what actually sold me on the piece.  (Note: I have changed the handles out on this piece since I refinished it but haven't staged it for a new picture in a while because the room it is used in is undergoing a retooling of its own.)    

But more than just being appreciative of the original handy work of the piece, I can't help but thinking to myself as I redo something like this, what has this chest of drawers seen?    I have no idea exactly how old the piece is or what it looked like originally.   The piece was painted rather poorly when I picked it up and it had some wear and tear on the bottom that required restoration so there was no hope or insight into the original finish when I sanded it down to recreate the piece and I couldn't find a makers mark to save my life so I couldn't look it up. 

However, to me anyway, furniture and other old things sort of have a life of their own.   They have seen things in their history and been through things that one can only imagine.   I think to myself, maybe this piece started out with a nice couple who just got married.  Through the years, mom needed extra room for the kids so it became a chest in her daughter's room.  Did the chest of drawers listen to the radio late at night with the little girl or watch her read?  Did the chest of drawers watch as the family grew and moved out of the house?  Did the little girl take it with her when she got married and started a family of her own?   Was the piece discarded because someone didn't appreciate it for the history or thought it was too old fashioned when grandma passed?   Was the chest there watching history with the owner?   Did it have a view of an old tube TV where it saw the Korean war and Kennedy? Did it see the Beatles invade? Could it watch the moon landing as it happened?  Did it witness the 1970's fuel shortage and see Happy Days on TV?  Was there a place in the attic for it when Reagan took office or the space shuttle tragedies?   Did it get to see Friends come and go on NBC?   When did the family give up on it and why?

Now, don't get me wrong, I know that furniture doesn't have feelings, which is probably good considering the way some people fail to appreciate it.   I just can't help but think to myself, the appreciation for something old goes way further back then the long dressers everyone wants to redo for entertainment centers or mid-century modern pieces that are all the rage.  Pieces of furniture like the chest of drawers above have history and were at one time, loved additions to a home filled with love, hope, and dreams.   I like working on them and wondering what that home was like,who the people were, and what happened both to the furniture and the people who once loved something old.  

Maybe in this era of mass produced, box store furniture marts, I am just old fashioned and would rather work to restore and bring back to life old stuff.   I have worked on pieces that were mass produced and pieces that were not and I can make anything look good but, slapping lipstick on a pig doesn't change the quality of the animal.   Yes, I have some pieces of mass produced in my home and I certainly have given new life to old crap but that doesn't mean I don't know the difference.   Yes, I am a little old fashioned and maybe, just maybe that is okay.    I may make a mistake and buy a piece I like that nobody else wants because it isn't a trend but who cares?  Isn't the important thing that the piece speaks to me?

*Chest of drawers:
People confuse chest of drawers (chester drawers people make me crazy) with dressers because dressers are what everyone has gravitated to in the last 20 years.  My grandparents always had a chest of drawers in every bedroom even if they also had a dresser.   The above piece is clearly a chest of drawers.   No hutch or mirror was ever a part of the piece.   Dressers tend to be the longer pieces with mirrors attached that everyone loves today to redo for living room or dining room furniture.   I like both for different reasons.   I especially like when they have the lingerie drawers because to me, that says someone put thought into the design.    

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl Weekend: Photobomb

I was confident Peyton would silence the haters!
We decided to have a few friends over for a Super Bowl party Sunday which meant that I spent my weekend cooking, cleaning, and driving everyone crazy.    Finally though, the food was done, the house was scrubbed and the time was right to cheer on Peyton Manning, who is one of my two sports man-crushes.  (Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, is the other).
and so was Hubs!  He just can't make a normal face!
Super hubs grew up a Broncos fan and became a Cowboys fan a little later.  The Cowboys are his team but he has a decided soft spot for the Broncos.  I grew up a Cowboys fan and became an Indianapolis Colts fan in adulthood because they are sort of my team by default.  The Colts moved to Indy when I was a kid, after we had already moved to Dallas, but I always cheer Indy teams after Dallas teams.   It just seems right.  Anyway, that is when I fell in sports-love with Peyton Manning.

So hubs and I dressed in our finest Peyton is a Bronco shirts and I twisted his arm for selfies.  

And the kiddo dressed in her cutest football jersey because she didn't care who won but wanted to look good.

We had 2 TV's set up but somehow, everyone ended up huddled around the little one until we kicked them into the other room.   Monica, Julie, and Lynn are my Rangers girls from way back.  During the course of time we have inherited husbands along the way and so Jonathan and Mike were hanging out, and keeping it real.

Not pictured: I forgot to take photos when Jennifer, Scott, Sophie, and Sherry were around which was just dumb because Scott brought the cheesecake and you must keep the man with the cheesecake happy!

Sadie wanted in on the picture, or maybe she was just thinking hubs had a treat, who  knows?

Julie is actually the realtor who sold my old house and helped us buy the one we are in now.  It is the first time she has seen the house in a year and she got to see all the changes I made and we talked about things I still plan on doing.   Plus, everyone got a tour of my furniture, live and in person, so they could check out my passion, obsession.

The good news for the ladies is, well, it is baseball season officially in like now, but technically, 9 days when Pitchers and Catchers report.

So I cooked a little and we ate a lot.....okay really we had stupid amounts of food.   There was pulled pork for sandwiches, grilled chicken, and smoked ribs.  We had potato and corn chips, pretzels, french onion dip, spinach artichoke dip, queso dip, buffalo chicken dip, salsa, guacamole, chex mix, cheese with regular and glutten free crackers, jalapeno poppers, sopapilla cheesecake,  brownies, cookies, potato salad which I kept forgetting about and 2 kinds of nuts.   Looking at this table makes me thinks I was all kind of nuts to cook so much darn food.   One thing you can now and always have been able to say is nobody ever leaves my house hungry, at least not from me trying to feed them.

But there was something that stole the whole party. 

My chickens were a huge hit.   They were not nearly as excited about being loved as everyone was at loving them, but they all survived.

And got babied.

And seriously, if you don't have a chicken butt shot, you are doing it wrong.

Congratulations to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.   Nobody does it better and nobody deserved it more!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Mom Shirt

Mom Me! 

Do moms have a shirt?   Apparently they do and this is it!   I took the kid shopping last weekend and found this top on sale for half off.   I loved the colors and since my husband has mentioned more than once that he is tired of me wearing the same things to work and the same tired 200 Texas Rangers t-shirts all the time, I figured why not?   

When I was checking out, the cashier at Khols said "this is a mom shirt"!  My immediate thought was, well that's kind of rude. I got the shirt because I liked the colors, knew they were good colors for me, and let's be honest, the shirt was 50% off.  I bargain hunt.   However, I was standing there with my 12 year old step daughter and a few thoughts hit me.   First, technically, I am a mom.   Second, at least she didn't say it was a "grandma shirt" because, had I popped at kid out at 20, I would probably be a grandma now.  Let's be honest, my grandmother was younger than I am now when I was born, the first of her 4 grandchildren.  I could be a grandmother, in reality.  I am old enough.   

So this got me to thinking, do moms have a uniform?   Remember 'Mom Jeans'?   They look like this:
While taking an afternoon stroll in London, Kendall Jenner breaks the rules — and almost breaks the Internet — by making mom jeans the coolest denim silhouette around. This is how you do it. #refinery29
Pinterest Source
Now why on earth Kendal Jenner is rocking them, is beyond me and pretty much I wish I looked half that good in my "mom jeans", seriously.   These jeans were cutting edge in like, 1992.  If you had these jeans and 'The Rachel' haircut you were most likely a smoking hot 20-something.   I didn't even know they were making a comeback.  Does this mean I can go through my closet and pull my acid washed denim out again?  Can I finally get 'The Rachel' haircut?  I missed that chance in my 20's because straightening my naturally curly hair was too much trouble back in the day.  Are the 90's coming back?

I WANT!! Slub Yoga Pant! These look so comfortable:
Pinterest Source

I just assumed that most moms now a days rock yoga pants, at least until their kids are in school, even when they shouldn't.  Let's be honest, I have no business in yoga pants with my big hips and middle but on the weekends, I have been know to wear them while grocery shopping,  cleaning the chicken coop, painting a buffet, table, chairs, cabinets, desk, bed, dresser, pictures, whatever I am painting at the moment, because really, they are cheap and who cares if I get paint on them?   Heck, I have even been known to wear yoga pants while I do yoga in my home.   Really!  My husband even bought me a pair.  They have camo details, naturally.  

So mom fashion, is it a bad thing?   Well, let's examine mothers.   They give us life.  They usually are the ones that cook meals for the family.  They probably do most of the grocery shopping, cloths shopping, house cleaning, and furniture painting.  Oh, that last part may be me.  They probably learned how to be a mom from their mother who is now, you guessed it, a grandmother.  Most of them probably do all the stuff above while working outside the home.   Have you ever known a mom to put herself in front of her kids?   Most moms usually don't.  Motherhood is the last, great martyrdom of our society.   They do crazy things like bake stuff for bake sales and run around to sporting events, school meetings, FFA functions (whoops that is probably mostly me too) playing shuttle bus driver.   They take care of kids, dad, dogs, chickens (me again) and whatever other animals head their way.   

Seriously, I haven't slept well since I married my husband and became a wicked stepmom. There is always something to do, somewhere to be, or something to worry about.  There is always some drama going on at school, home, or on the bus that causes you to scratch your head and think 'this isn't the way I remember childhood'.   An aside here, I do not envy kids today.  they are forced to deal with so much more than the kids of the 70's and 80's did and their peers are stinking mean.  Not only are they mean but they have smartphones and because the kids are mean and stupid, they do stupid things on smartphones.  I am pretty well set in my opinion that kids today deal with way too much, way too soon and it is just getting worse, but I digress.   

In looking at it realistically, mothers are sort of modern day superheros and what superhero doesn't have a uniform.   So, IF my shirt is a mom shirt, I am taking that as a compliment.   I always wanted to be a superhero.  

Do you have a mom uniform?    Are you a mom superhero?  

Monday, February 1, 2016

From beat to neat: Sofa Table makeover

Before and After 
I got this table last summer and it sat in my office for months and months because I didn't have room for it in the garage or time to refinish it.   I knew in principal what I was going to do with it and I knew that I wanted to use it for the TV.

Beat UP!
As you can see, I got it home last week and the top needed some special attention.  I have never had a piece that was so beat up on the surface.  Because it was going next to the buffet I refinished last weekend, I decided to make them match.  Obviously these pieces are different but I wanted them to coordinate.

Top all Sanded.  Don't you love the 1970's flower detail on the drawers?  
So I sanded the top with the idea of staining it with General Finishes Java Gel which I had used on the top of the buffet.  As you can see above, it sanded beautifully but I wasn't aware of how dry the wood was.  If I had been, I probably would have oiled it first so the stain didn't dry out as fast as it ended up doing on me.  Next up I removed the knobs which got a little brown spray paint treatment and then a removal of paint to make them look antique gold.   Next the base was lightly sanded with some fine grit sand paper.

I hate painting spindles! 
Then I started painting the base.  I hate painting spindles and had to do this super carefully, making sure to catch any drips and fix them before they dried.    This is finished in the same General Finishes Milk Paint, Linen, that I did the base of the buffet in last weekend.   I love this color but what I discovered about it is that I am so pleased with the way it looks without antiquing that I decided early on that this piece would not be distressed.   That is a departure from my norm because I love the distressed look of pieces normally.  This piece has some natural distressing due to the age of the piece and I decided to work with that only.

Halfway HOME!
Once I got the base coated in three good coats of the Linen paint I sanded it slightly to remove any imperfections and added a final light coat of paint and let it completely dry. I was ready to move on to the top.   I have learned something about myself this weekend, I am incredibly picky about my finish on pieces.  I don't like to see any drips in my paint and I am a stickler for no brush marks.  I noticed this when I was looking at on line garage sales and examining the work of other painters.   I told my husband, it drives me crazy when someone spends so much energy repainting something and I can see in the photos the brush marks, splotches where paint is inconsistent, and places where the finish just doesn't look smooth.   I am picky.  I would end up redoing all the finished pieces I saw.   This is why I do my own work, more than any other reason.  I would rather customize my home and know the pieces will last.

Supervisors always looking on.
Meanwhile, one of my hens decided to come supervise my work.  First she checked out the sleigh bed I picked up this weekend.   This piece is going to eventually end up in our spare bedroom as our guest bed, once I refinish it.  It was a steal of a bargain of $0.00 because a friend called and said if I didn't come get it she was putting it in the trash.   Hold up, wait!  WHAT?   FREE is my price of preference.   The side rail needs a little work but nothing I can't fix with some L brackets.  I was all like 'sign me up for free'.   So I ran out to get this Saturday and put it in the garage.

Someone wants to ride
Henrietta above, decided she needed to get some bike riding in and jumped up on the bike to go for a ride.

Or read??
Once she got up there however, she noticed the books and decided a 70 degree Saturday was much more of a reading day.   I finally had to grab her and remove her to the backyard so I could get some work done without worrying about her getting into trouble.

Top soaked up the stain! 
Back to work I went staining the top.   I only put one coat of Java on the top and by the time I had gotten to the end of the line, I noticed the stain had soaked right in to the wood like water.  This is gel stain and it is not suppose to do that, see what I mean about the wood being dry.  I am sure now that it was because the top was so scratched that the wood had simply no conditioner left to prevent this from happening.  Then I debated with myself, what to do, leave it super dark or sand it down, condition it, and redo the entire top.

Read for the sealers
I decided to leave it super dark and proceeded sealing the top with several coats of General Finishes High Performance top coat.  Once I got a good protective layer or 10 on the top this baby and I coated the base with or two coats (I can't recall) of the same satin finish then  I moved the piece inside.

Wax and then done
It dried and dried and dried.   I like how it looks with the buffet.   I was pleased.

Finished for now
So this morning I woke up, waxed the entire piece with clear wax, buffed it out and moved the TV on top.   The piece is finished for now.  I am going to add a shelf to the bottom to hold all the components for the TV.   However, for now, because we aren't in the market for a larger TV yet, I left the old crappy stand behind it and just covered it up so it didn't look so stupid.

Here is my main problem with this room, the room is long, super duper long, actually.   I have a 48 inch TV and when you sit on the sofa, it looks like a 26 inch TV.  No joke!    So when we get around to buying a giant TV, we will be able to move the TV back against the wall.   Yes, I would love to put the TV on the wall but unfortunately, this is not going to happen.   See, in this room, the wall the TV is on happens to be the same wall there is an ugly breaker box.   Why they didn't remove the breaker box to the new garage when they converted the old garage is beyond my comprehension.   I am a slave to someone else's home improvement laziness here folk.   Maybe at some point we can move the box and I won't have this struggle.  Until that time, the struggle is real.  

So, what do you think?   Table and buffet look awesome together don't they?   Who would ever imagine these pieces started out so incredibly ugly?

Below are links for Amazon where you can find the paint I used on these pieces.  Amazon affiliate links don't cost you anything additional if you purchase from them.  FYI. 

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