So… I was minding my own business the other day, when I saw the latest add for Joann’s fabric. Apparently the evil geniuses in their fabric development decided that the way to a quilter’s heart is with a sale on quilter’s cotton fabric prints. This isn’t anything new. They have sales all the time. But this time it got more personal. They had sea horse material right their in the flier that they mailed out. They sent nautical prints straight to my house!
I tried to resist, but… (okay really, I grabbed my purse and jumped in my car before the sales flier even hit the floor).
So now, even though I have other things to do- like grade papers that I don’t feel like grading- I am daydreaming about what patterns to use on the quilt that will be the first thing on my summer projects list.
Stay tuned for my actual hurricane season prepping activities.
Spring has definitely sprung around the townhouse. I have always been fascinated by the idea of urban homesteading. For those of you not familiar, basically it is where you grow a lot of what you need- basically like when people buy land in the middle of nowhere and live off of their land. The difference of course, is that in a townhouse, you don’t have acres and acres of land to grow crops. You can still grow some things, but you have to be creative about space. Ideally, I would love a vertical gardening system of some sort, but I’m not quite there yet.
Over the weekend, I built a planter box to go along the side of the yard that the puppies don’t use as a bathroom. With three dogs, I still need a certain amount of free space for them. I pick up the poop as soon as it appears, but if I filled up the entire yard with planter boxes or crops, it wouldn’t be fair to them.
I planted tomatoes, tomatillos and marigolds in the long box. Right next to it, and in several other pots, I planted hot peppers. In case you don’t recognize the pattern, those are the ingredients for salsa.
I have several cilantro plants that volunteer-planted themselves from last-year’s seeds.
I planted onions in the top level of the planter box I built last year. There are broccoli and chard plants growing on the bottom level. For good measure, I put basil in a terra cotta pot that wasn’t being used. In my humble opinion, you can’t have too much basil. I mean seriously… pesto, pasta.
It may not be a big yard, but there’s a lot going on, and I’m not finished yet! Stay tuned for more.
Happy Monday! While I was working on redoing the table for my sailboat, I discovered watercolor painting. I had never really been into painting before. I love paintings, but as far as actually painting goes… that was a different story. I tried painting a pirate ship with my mom’s oil paints when I was in high school. It was terrible, and I don’t mean terrible as in it was actually amazing, but I wasn’t happy with it as an artist. I mean it was actually terrible. A five year-old could have literally done a better job. So I gave up on painting for good. Until now.
Watercolors are completely different than oils. I love them! It started with seahorses, but it soon spread to jellyfish and coastal landscapes.
This past weekend, I was working on another project involving hand-dyed t-shirts, and it hit me. Iron on transfers! I took a picture of one of my paintings and then printed it onto a transfer, which I then ironed onto one of the t-shirts I had made.
I decided that these t-shirts are too cool not to share, so I posted this one on my Etsy shop. This is just the first. I have several other colors of shirts that I will be posting, and I plan on posting more of the watercolor paintings over the next few days. If you are interested, check out my Etsy site here. I think these would make wonderful gifts. Be one of the first people to buy something from my shop, and you will receive a special bonus item.
Also, as you may have guessed, the project that I have been working on involves t-shirts. I will be posting more on that over the next few days.
All kinds of things are happening around my townhouse!
Okay, I think my Pinterest project has been a little bit of a fail. It’s not that I haven’t been doing any projects. Quite the contrary. I’ve been doing lots of projects. They just didn’t all come from Pinterest.
One of the main projects that I have been working on (that I hinted at here), was the nautical chart that I was epoxying onto the top of the dinette table for my boat.
It turned out amazing!!! On a side note, possibly related, I’m addicted to epoxy now. I am practically itching to find something else that I can put epoxy on.
I wanted to turn my super ugly in an 80’s-threw-up-kind-of-way table and make it presentable and actually cute. My boat has issues. It was completely neglected for who knows how long. None of the systems worked when we bought it- okay really I traded a 1988 Toyota Celica for it, but that’s a completely different post. The cushions were so bad, I threw them out. I wasn’t convinced that I would ever be able to get the smells out. Plus, I didn’t even want to think about all of the sweat and other bodily fluids that had been oozing into the foam of the cushions that were on the boat, but I digress.
The project that is the topic of this post is the table. I had seen other blogs and Pinterest posts where people had put nautical charts on tables, and I was completely in love with the look. I decided that I wanted to try it. I picked out a chart of the upper Gulf Coast of Texas because that’s where I will be sailing the most to start with, and painted a watercolor sea horse to fill in some of the blank expanse of water. I had never painted before, but I found Maria Raczynska on YouTube and followed her tutorials. She is incredible!
We removed the old rubber tiles from the surface of the table and then sanded the wooden rim around it. We put a coat of varnish on the rim and made sure the Formica on the table top surface was clean and free of any debris. I cut the nautical chart to fit the table and then had it laminated. Apparently you need to laminate whatever you are putting in the epoxy because the epoxy will make the paper kind of translucent, and then the design won’t show up if it’s not laminated.
I took this picture with my phone, so the sea horse is kind of distorted
I laid the chart onto the table, to make sure it fit right before gluing it on. Then I used contact cement- the paint on kind not the spray kind. The way contact cement works is that you have to paint both of the surfaces that are going to be in contact. I painted it on the tabletop and on the back of the nautical chart, and then I let both of the pieces dry according to the directions on the can- I think it was 15 or 20 minutes.
Once they were somewhat dry, I carefully positioned the nautical chart on the table.
Then I let it dry for a couple of days. It actually dried longer than it needed to because it was rainy and too damp to work with the epoxy.
Once the weather decided to cooperate, I started the epoxy process. I used the “glaze” kit at Home Depot, which is really just two-part epoxy if you look at the smaller print on the front of the box. I thought I was saving money by getting the quart size, but I actually ended up needing three quarts of it and spent more than if I had just not been so cheap and bought the gallon kit on Amazon in the first place. Next time I’ll just buy the gallon and be done with it.
The epoxy actually has two parts. There’s the resin, and then there’s a hardener. To apply it, you first have to mix the two parts. I would have taken pictures, except that every time I remembered that I should be taking pictures, I was mixing the parts with gloves on. I need to be more organized with the picture and video taking when I am working on stuff!
Anyway, you mix the two parts according to the directions on the box. It ends up taking about 7 minutes. Then you ignore the directions for a moment. The directions say to spread the epoxy in thin layers, about the thickness of a penny, using a plastic spreader.
Don’t do it! The thin layer didn’t spread well, the plastic spreader made it worse, and I ended up with an uneven, gooped-up, streaky mess. I was convinced that all was ruined. I tried correcting it after the appropriate drying time with another thin layer. That only made things worse. Then I got smart and looked at an epoxy video on YouTube.
What worked better for me was just pouring a giant amount of epoxy mix, starting on one side of the table and then making my way across in sections. Then instead of using the stupid plastic spreader, I used the long edge of the wooden paint stirring stick that I had used to mix the epoxy. It worked so much better. I gently pushed the epoxy around, filling in the spaces toward the edges of the table and evening out the spaces between the sections that I had poured.
Once all of the epoxy is on, you need to go over it with a heat gun (or possibly a hairdryer?) to get all of the tiny little trapped air bubbles out. This is an important step because if little air bubbles stay in, they will leave tiny indentions on the surface when the epoxy is dry.
I think the hardest part is not touching it right away. You have to let it sit undisturbed for at least 72 hours, which is 3 days in case you didn’t feel like doing the math.
So the table sat on my closed in back porch for a very long time (4 days). I stared at it longingly through the door, but I didn’t dare actually open the door because I knew that my devil of a kitten wouldn’t be able to resist jumping on it.
Finally, it was ready to take to the boat. I really love the way it turned out. I’ve had my share of Pinterest fails, but fortunately, this was not one of them!
Okay, that was my tutorial. I hope you enjoyed. Be sure and check out the Sea Bean Project blog for updates on other stuff that’s happening on the boat.
Don’t worry, I already have another project that I am working on. Stay tuned…
Okay, I’ve been a little slow on the Pinterest Challenge. I’ve been working on something, but I haven’t taken any pictures.
The Townhouse Cottage expanded a little shortly after Thanksgiving when I bought a beat up old sailboat. My dad and I have been fixing it up, but it is still a long way from being ready to actually take sailing. Two projects that I have been working on lately both involve the main living area of the cabin (called the saloon). There is a c-shaped booth style settee with a drop down table that converts into a bed. In theory it’s a really good idea- like an RV, but in actuality, it was completely unusable when we got the boat.
The previous owner was living on the boat with his girlfriend and three year old daughter, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would live on such a filthy boat. The whole cabin was greasy to the touch from years of cooking inside the boat and apparently never cleaning. The cushions were all so smelly that I just couldn’t…
I decided that it wasn’t worth trying to salvage the cushions because they were in such bad shape and smelled so terrible. So I have been making new cushions for the cabin. I started with the cushions for the c-shaped booth. I have all of the cushions for around the table; now I just have to make the cushion that fits over the table when it is lowered.
In addition to the cushions, I have been working on the table. One of the previous owners had covered the original Formica with super nasty rubber tiles to make it black and white. Needless to say, the worn out rubber tiles had to go. I saw a sailing blog post a few years ago where the couple had epoxied a nautical chart to the table, and I’ve been wanting to try that since then. I decided that a nautical chart would be perfect on my little boat. So I painted a watercolor sea horse on an old chart that I had and have been preparing it for the table.
That brings me to the Pinterest project. Here is what my table looked like:
This is the Pinterest post that I am following as my Pinterest challenge:
My chart looks different than this one because I needed the Texas Gulf Coast, but the idea is the same. We were able to remove the old tiles with a heat gun and then some super strong chemicals. The Formica underneath was not in very good condition. We re-varnished the wood trim. Then I painted on a nautical chart and had it laminated. The next step is to use contact cement to attach the chart to the table. The weather didn’t cooperate this past week, but it is supposed to be dry tomorrow, so the plan is to attach the chart tomorrow and then let it dry completely for a couple of days before applying the epoxy.
Okay, I got off to a slow start on the whole self-inflicted Pinterest challenge. It was a little overwhelming. There are so many things I would like to try on Pinterest, and so little time (money) to try them all. I went back and forth on what to try. I kind of wanted to do something that involved gardening, but the weather didn’t want to cooperate.
Finally, life intervened. I am running a crowdfunding campaign to fund the renovations on my old beat up sailboat, and one of the rewards is an autographed sea bean from the s/v Sea Bean. (Clever, eh?) I had been procrastinating on ordering the sea beans for that. I guess part of me didn’t really believe that anyone would want to pay to watch me fix up a boat. Probably if I looked like a Brazilian supermodel… but I digress. Anyway, I got my first contributor and went “Eeek! I have no sea beans!”
So I ordered some sea beans really quickly, but I needed something to put them in. Macramé instantly sprang to mind. So I decided to make that my Pinterest challenge.
It went great. (cough cough- that should have been read in a super sarcastic tone). If you kind of squint your eyes a little, it looks pretty good. Kind of . If I were a five year-old.
The main problem is that as soon as I pulled the container out, I couldn’t get it back in right again. I accidentally tied the pieces of yarn in the wrong order. Obviously that wasn’t going to work.
So I went back to Pinterest. After scrolling through, getting distracted by sailboat pictures and cute dogs and then focusing on the problem again, I found this post.
It’s a net bag, but it’s crocheted. I can do that! So this became my challenge. I was going to use some cotton yarn that I have left over from a previous project, but then I saw the cutest yarn at Michael’s. I was powerless to resist. I mean seriously. Check out those colors!
I ended up accidentally making the bag a little too tall, so I tucked the handles through one of the loops so that the container of sea beans would hang down too low. So my net back looks a little like a milk bottle, but hey. At least it will keep the jar of sea beans contained even if the boat is moving.
Overall I feel like the Pinterest challenge was a success. There are a couple of things I would do differently next time I make a net bag, but I feel like I will be making more of these for the boat before too long, so I will definitely get the chance to improve my bag making technique.
For my next Pinterest challenge… I’m not sure yet. I’m still a little hung up on the idea of printing out the useful posts to make a survival binder. Even though that’s not technically a Pinterest project, it’s a project involving Pinterest posts. So I may do that. I haven’t decided. I’ll keep you posted.
Obligatory picture of me and one of my puppies on the boat.
Hi, there! I haven’t been very diligent in keeping this blog going. Sorry about that. I’ve decided to try something new here. I was looking at Pinterest today, and was amazed by all of the ideas, and then it hit me. I save all of these posts all of the time, and I hardly ever do anything with them. It dawned on me that I could actually keep up my blog and try Pinterest ideas at the same time.
So… I think every week I’m going to pick out something on Pinterest and try it out. Then I can blog about whether or not it worked and what I would do differently. I haven’t picked out the topic of the week yet, but I will pick one and then let you know how it goes.
One of my boards is survival stuff- you know, like useful stuff to know in case of a zombie apocalypse or a hurricane. There’s a ton of helpful stuff in there, but when I was looking through the posts, I realized that if the SHTF for real, I probably wouldn’t have electricity or internet access to pull up the ideas that I had saved. So one of my goals over the next few months- before the start of hurricane season- is to print out the really useful things and assemble a survival reference binder. I think I may make a survival reference binder to have on the Sea Bean as well.
Speaking of the Sea Bean, if you feel like being a part of the adventure, you can contribute to my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Any help at all is greatly appreciated.
Anyway, stay tuned for my Pinterest project of the week…
The school year is winding down, and the mood around the townhouse is definitely lighter. Summer brings endless possibilities for projects. I have been really slow in finishing painting the kitchen cabinets. I think I did something wrong with the first set of cabinets I painted because the paint isn’t drying as hard as I expected. I was under the impression that the paint would resist scratches, but the paint I put on so far scratches off if you bump it with your fingernails. I suspect that I should have primed it differently- either more sanding, or a different primer. So one of the first things on my to-do list is to straighten out the cabinets. Then I can go ahead and paint the rest of the kitchen. #diywoes
I have also been working on my second book. I published my first book on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I really enjoyed the process. The only issue I have had is that I don’t know anything about marketing and I don’t have a very big social media presence. So I need to spend a little bit of time this summer doing some research into marketing. #selfpublishingproblems #justwanttodrinkcoffeeandwrite
But for now… I have to get through finals. Time is just crawling by, but I take a little joy in the fact that I can now count the remaining school days on my fingers alone- no need to call in my Aggie calculator by using my toes. (shameless Texas A&M Aggie joke)
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of two legged kids and furry kids out there. Mother’s Day is always a little bittersweet for me. I come from a long line of great mothers. My mom is probably the greatest mom in the history of moms, though I try not to brag too much because I don’t want to make everybody else feel bad about their moms. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to test out my mothering abilities on human kids- I have furry children. It puts me in a little bit of a tight spot. People with furry children understand that we baby our animals and spend almost as much time caring for them as many people do with their real kids. When they were tiny, I got up every 2 or 3 hours to take them outside so that I wouldn’t wake up to a bathroom floor covered in poop. When they had any kind of illness or tummy issue, I would worry about it and take them to the vet. My dogs and cats all live inside. So I bathe the dogs regularly and trim their nails. In the winter, I put sweaters on them when we go outside (they have short hair and get cold easily). I’m constantly on the lookout for new toys that will hold their attention and let them have fun.
People who don’t have pets, or who don’t care for them like kids, don’t really understand. Some of them get downright upset at the mention of “dog moms” or “fur babies.” Do we ‘dog parents’ understand that having a dog is not the same as having a kid? Of course. Does it make us care less about our animals? Not at all. Just because we have ‘fur babies’ doesn’t mean that we don’t want kids. It doesn’t mean that we chose to never have kids either.
The problem with having kids as I see it is that there is never a right time. When I was fresh out of high school and in college, I had a long-term boyfriend, but it never turned into a marriage. Even if it had, the idea of having kids was a little scary because I knew at that point that I couldn’t care for a child financially. It’s hard to give a kid everything they need to survive when you don’t have a steady job yet.
When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I didn’t think it was a good idea to have kids yet because I was going to grad school. Again, I didn’t have enough of an income to take care of children, and my boyfriend didn’t make enough money to support us alone much less us + a kid.
After I finished grad school and started working as an engineer, I had the money. What I didn’t have was time. I was working 9-10 hour days and spending about 3 hours each day in a car. I didn’t want to have a baby that I never got to see.
After a few years working as an engineer, I really wanted a baby. I was in a long-term relationship with someone who was trying to get me to marry him. The problem was that he was abusive. The only reason I stayed in the relationship for as long as I did was that I didn’t know how to get out of it without him killing me. I didn’t want to have kids with him because I didn’t want my son or daughter thinking it was okay for daddies to treat mommies the way he treated me.
Now here I am. I am technically still young enough to have kids- though not for much longer. I no longer work as an engineer. After the collapse of the oil and gas market I lost my job and became a high school teacher instead. I really like my job as a teacher and can’t see myself going back to the 9-5 corporate scene any time soon. I don’t make as much as I did as an engineer, but I have a lot more time. I think I would make a really good mother- it is in my blood, after all. At the moment though, I don’t want to be in a relationship- which makes it pretty hard to get pregnant the conventional way. I could adopt, but I am not convinced that any adoption agency would choose me over a two-parent household. From what I understand, the Texas legislature was talking about passing legislation making it harder for single people to adopt anyway.
I love my dogs like children because realistically, they may be the only children I ever have.
So today, on Mother’s Day, my fur-babies and I celebrated with my mother. I made her a quilt, because, well, hello. Quilts are awesome. As soon as she sat down on the couch to try it out, my puppies volunteered to help her test it.
I figure that if my puppies could pick out a Mother’s Day present for me, it would probably be a big giant puppy treat or a bone- that they would then eat. So I got myself flowers instead. I think maybe next Mother’s Day I should get myself a sailboat…
Hurricane Season is one of my favorite times of the year. There. I said it. I’m not even really ashamed of saying it. My townhouse isn’t close enough to the coast to be in an evacuation zone, but it is close enough to be impacted if a storm should make landfall. This time of year always makes me take a look at my own readiness to survive without power. There’s a primal satisfaction in being prepared to survive a disaster. In a world dominated by convenience, having to disconnect from all of the modern conveniences and live like people did in ages past is both humbling and edifying at the same time.
Last year, I made my Algebra 2 students do a hurricane project. I had them calculate how much food they would need for a family of four for a month without power. I even had them make small survival kits that would fit in an Altoid tin.
This year, we are at a different spot in the curriculum, and a full-blown hurricane project just didn’t fit into the calendar, but I am still thinking about it anyway.
As far as my own readiness is concerned, I’m a little better off this year than I was last in year in terms of emergency supplies. I have enough food for the puppies and kitties for several weeks. Hurricane Season officially starts in a month, so over the next few weeks, I need to re-evaluate what food supplies I have for myself. I also need to make sure I have emergency repair supplies for the townhouse- like tarps and a few pieces of lumber for make-shift repairs. It’s kind of exciting.
Wherever you are, I wish you a safe and well-prepared hurricane season this year.