Variety Pack and Updates! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

So yes indeedily-doo, it's another variety pack with the added bonus of updates!  All in one!  Who woulda thought?!


Before I get down to it, the final days, hours, and minutes are tick-tocking away on the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting window.  Please, please please please come vote for Flipping the Flip by September 9 at 5 pm GMT!  That'd be ridiculously awesome and I'll be eternally grateful.  And please share too (beg beg).  Sharing is caring!

The three day holiday weekend came and zip, went.  Sigh.  Seriously, the quickest route back to work is a three day weekend, amiright?

I did not get nearly as much stuff done as I had last year, oh ok, oh dear, two years ago oh my, oops, or ok last year.  But Mike and I did give Finn a bath then we three lazed on the deck under the awning allll afternoon into the early evening on Sunday.  That...that cannot be beat.

Neither could the moment when Mike proffered his assistance with the upcoming stair project.  With the cheap a** crappy carpet removal.  Staples!  And the new runner installation.  He said it.  Out loud.  And now it's in print.

sky sunset clouds
Super cool, a rainbow without rain that evening.  Had never seen that before!  Mike has, he said; he's cooler.
Mike did also assert no new countertop in the kitchen until I'm all done with Every Single Project.  I see what he did there.

So what did I do?  Not much.  Or I should say not much house related.  Or none actually.  Sad.  I suck.  Hey, I had life stuff to catch up on!  So here are some things I took care of prior to starting on The Exorcist.....:

Finally fixed the back annoying security door latching issue, and its deadbolt not locking issue.  How?  Rotary tool.*
deadbolt lipstick tip trick
Tried the lipstick trick.  Since I rarely wear it, something should.
Please, it's not like the situation is all glamorous and well-executed back there.  Nothing I do will make it worse so what's a little extra grinding?

deadbolt hole door frame metal
Lipstick only kinda worked.  But enough so.
If I had my choice, and the winning lottery ticket, I'd rip out both doors, all two pairs of entry doors actually, and find a way to widen/improve the back.  Yes, I'm waving my hands in circular motions, it's a cluster-ahem back there.  But.  I'm short the winning ticket.

A wee bit of grinding with the rotary tool and the door now catches and the deadbolt latches.  Yay.

storm door latch holes metal frame
Nice.  Soooooo attractive.  But hey, it works now.  Eyeroll.
While I was at it, I ground out more for the deadbolt on the back gate.  And caulked around the new lock.  Which felt silly -- spending like five bucks on a big ol' tube o' black caulk I'll not use on anything else except this small schmear.  Menards had no small squeeze tube.

gap deadbolt gate lock
Lock gap. Not water tight.
sealer caulk deadbolt gate fence lock
All sealed, no water seeping in.
I finally sprayed rubberized paint onto the dog slobber splash blocker and the water beads and beads and beads.  Tellin' ya, it's the little things that make me happy, heh.

dog slobber wall blocker rubber spray paint sealer
Found these cans of rubberized spray at the Chicago ReStore for a mere two bucks!
Oh, also finally sealed the blue backsplash grout.  Got me one a' those set ups with the brush on top, not sure why, I'm not a typical all-in-one-product purchaser like this.  Here's a big fyi tip:  do not peel the whole cover off the bottle after removing the cap, especially if you plan to use this on a floor.

grout sealer bottle brush
Turns out it's by the same people who made the concrete sealer I dislike immensely.  Hm.
The liquid comes streaming out with reckless abandon.  Streaming!  So, just poke a modest hole or two, reattach the brushy cap, good to go.

grout sealer mess backsplash
Spurt.  Spew everywhere.  Don't do as I did.
No "after" shot here for ya; it dried as if I had never even used it so there isn't a noticeable difference.  I'll do a second pass at some point.

Drywall is up, poorly, in the main floor bathroom.  Truly a work in progress, cough.  Sigh.

drywall hole repair replace bathroom sheet
Hey.  It's drywall.  Done poorly.  Yay.
I require this wallpaper,* even got Mike's Elusive Approval (!!!!!! jaw to floor, utter shock !!!!!!) for this room, but alas, it's too expensive.  Or wait, lemme double check....oh dear, it's tempting....Amara actually has a great wallpaper calculator by the way.

skull wallpaper sample exposed brick new drywall
Either way, I will find a room.  I'm thinking coat closet instead but Mike thinks that's silly.  Hey, coat closets need love too ya know.

Oh, I won some itty bitty string lights in the String Contest over on Instructables (thank you for voting!!  Gosh, I ask you to vote often, don't I?).  Since it gets dark on the deck, I decided to install them under the railings.

battery string fairy lights

The battery pack, as you can see, is quite large, and with three double A's in there, heavy.  As a temporary solution, one I ahem, have not returned to, I used bungie cords.  Heh.

attach fairy string light battery pack bungie cord

But then I pilot drilled tiny holes and added vinyl covered hooks* to hold the lights up.

screw in cup hook battery power string fairy light

At the very end, I twisted the wire around a last hook.  I'll have to get you an at-dusk or shortly after photo so you can see the pretty little LED twinkle lights all lit up.  It's cute.  We like 'em.  Smiles!

fairy string battery power light twist wire cup hook

How did I win in the String Contest?  With the puppy gate!  Which is working wonderfully, despite Finn occasionally putting one paw up on it when he's riled.  Mike kindly restrung it one day as the paracord stretched and drooped.  And the wood has warped a smidge so I'll rethink framing if there's a next time.

But it's great and it does the job and it looks cool while doing it.  Now we need a gangway gate.  Oy.

Oh so you're probably wondering where we put all the dirt from our yard excavations.  Right?  Right.  Some of it went under the deck actually but not too much otherwise we would have created new and different flooding issues.

The remainder went into the gangway between our garage and the neighbor to the east.  Yeah, maybe not hugely ideal since it's got a concrete walkway, albeit cracked, but we had nowhere else to go.

To block the dirt, or clay it was at this point, from eroding back into the yard, I built a thingie.  Ran over to Menards, snagged a pressure treated 2x then discovered that they'll cut stick lumber out in their wood yard.  Suh-weeet!  Free!  Suh-weeeter!  So the very nice guy cut to my requested dimensions.

pressure treated lumber dirt retaining wall

Got home, dug up some leftover deck screws,* found a star shaped bit that fits them, and made two L shapes.  Heh, yes, using the fancy folding garage workbench!  See?!

I also made some wood spikes as I wasn't in the mood to pay ten bucks for a large bundle I'll only use two of.

wood ground spike homemade diy

Soooo, plopped one L down and doh.  How did I mis-measure?!  Of course I mis-measured.  Heh.

wood measured incorrectly pressure treated dirt
Turned it on an angle and there was still a gap.  Eh, screw it, I said to myself, figure it out later.

Pounded in the spikes, or one and then split the other.

Nothin' dabs of Gorilla glue* can't fix.  Heh.  Zip tie clamp, moving on.  Stack the second L and screw the L's to the spikes.  Okey doke.

dirt pressure treated wood retaining wall diy spike ground
Done! -ish anyway.
Hey, this leftover bit of 2x might block up that....hey!  Awesome!

fill gap scrap pressure treated wood
Ah, creative reuse of leftovers.
We had some leftover landscape cloth* so I lined the inside then dumped pea gravel for easy water drainage, then covered with dirt,

pea gravel landscape cloth pressure treated lumber wood dirt support

...the inspector arrived, and it was done.

The dumb rain barrel has made an reemergence here, the hope being to put a gutter across the deck side of the garage and have the water dump into it.  Heh, I do have all the gutter parts.....

rain barrel pressure treated wood retaining wall
Dumb rain barrel.  Yet I still try with you.
How's the dry well, you ask?  Good.  In thinking, and watching subsequent rainfalls, we should have gone with clean gravel or pea gravel or river pebbles.  It works as is but our concerns are growing about the fine gravel dust.

It seems we don't get gentle all day soaker rains here in Chicago anymore; it's either deluge or sprinkles, deluge or sprinkles.  Yay global warming.

So after a recent deluge we were good.  The next day another deluge and water pooled on top.  Same exact event a week later.  It drains but slower than I anticipated.  But, I will say, the yard floods less deeply so that in itself, the whole goal of the project, makes it worthwhile.

The plants?  The hotly anticipated plants??  In early spring:

landscaping backyard plant spring growth new

Just the other day:

backyard landscaping plants growth new garden
He's a Mommy's Boy all right, heh, always always following me.
Holy cats and dogs, people!  I was not expecting such an exciting bounty, but wow.  The only thing that I know of for sure that did not come up were the tall grasses, not a single bunch.  My mom says wait another year, they may yet surprise, so stay tuned.

For the Variety Pack Recipe, hm....I'm on that slow cooker kick as, well, even though the food comes out pretty dull, it's heh still edible and the darn gizmo makes my life infinitely easier, especially when prepping the meals ahead of time.  So unlike me, but hey, do whatcha gotta do.

I have a few recipes on deck in the hopes that they'll be better than the vast majority of the ones we've tried, but here are a couple that Mike expressed positive sentiments about:  Slow Cooker Chicken Mole and Slow Cooker Creole Chicken and Sausage.  Probably because they still had flavor left in 'em after hours of cooking and got better the next day.

Been using Mike's thoroughly brilliant idea for the slow cooker:  a light timer.*  Brilliant!

And in case you are slow cooker-less or are slow cooker-don't care, gimme a baking recipe, try these cupcakes:  Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes.

All righty, hope to catch you soon!  And don't forget to come vote for Flipping the Flip!

Happy Birthday early to my mom!

*The rotary tool, grout sealer, wallpaper, vinyl coated screw in hooks, Gorilla glue, landscape cloth, deck screws, and light timer are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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