Sunday, July 24, 2011


Dear friends,

The remodeling of Two Sisters cottage continues. The days are flying past, and no end is in sight yet to the things that need to be done before we can actually move. This week, we're having the old gal leveled. The foundation is the pier-and-beam type, which means the house sits up on whatever the builder could find at the time--old stumps, telephone poles, rocks, etc. We weren't going to spring for this right away, but walking up and down the slanty floors has been making my legs ache, and we won't be able to put in any kind of hard flooring, such as tile, until it's level. Since the process is nice and slooow, I'm hoping that we won't get too many cracked walls or windows/doors that won't open (or close).

So, it's out with the old...
And in with the new:
I'm annoyed that the old stumps will have to be trashed. They still reek of creosote (a coal-tar/petroleum product used for treating wood) even after all these years. I seem to be very sensitive to it. No surprise there. That pile represents some huge old trees. Sigh. I don't like the idea of using something with so much embodied energy (like concrete blocks), but at least they're forever, and they don't smell. And they were probably made locally.

It's been hot here in Texas. Most of us have lost count, but in general we've had over 35 days of above 100-degree temps, with more predicted for this week. (Which prompted a thought...we didn't move to AZ because it's too hot there. Hmmmm.) Want proof? Here's some:

And that's in the shade, folks. Ay yi yi.

In spite of the heat, my little potted garden is doing well there and I'm harvesting red bell peppers for the first time, as well as baby eggplant for grilling. One of the many rosebushes has been outdoing itself. Here's an impromptu bouquet I cut the other day. No fancy vases here...LOL. BTW, all of these are on ONE stem. I'm still trying to identify this rose. Anybody know?

In spite of some surprises with the house (as in, balloon framing), I continue to be charmed. Here's how the two sisters communicated with each other. One hangs beside the back door and one hangs beside the cottage door.

They didn't need no steenkin' cell phones!

Every once in a while, I'll walk to the edge of the cottage and ponder my new yard ornament.

Yes, it's the original 1930 enamel over cast-iron bathtub. It took two very strong plumbers to get it out of the bathroom, down the steps, and out to the yard. They told me to make SURE I wanted it there, because it would never be moved. I have my own opinions about that (LOL), but for now, it stays put. I'm thinking pond, or planter?

In another part of the yard, another mystery has popped up.

This mess of rusted metal all of a sudden popped up in the yard. We tried to pull it up, thinking it was just some old trash, but nuthin doin'. Is it part of a former water well? Storm cellar door? Further investigation is needed. Meanwhile,
we have it covered so that nobody slices their toes open on it---like, well, me.

Thanks for reading!

Happy trails from h.o.t. Texas,

bobbi c.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Conquering Fears

I've always loved making things, designing things, and building things. Well, to a certain extent on the building things. I've had a hammer of my own since I was a wee tot, and a few handsaws, electric drill, small jigsaw, etc. but drew the line at using larger power tools. Last week I decided that it was time to learn how to use a larger saw since I was determined to finish a house project by myself--a built-in, custom spice/herb shelf inside our new pantry. Husband got out the DeWalt saber saw, showed me how to use it, and I quickly got the hang of it. I told myself it wasn't any more dangerous than a sewing machine, which I've been using since I was a young girl. That may not be accurate, but whatever--that thought got me past my fears. Within a short period of time, I was sawing away.

I wasn't satisfied with that, though. What you saw apart, must ultimately be nailed together. I've been having more issues with my wrists/hands (carpal tunnel from way back), so didn't relish the idea of building the entire shelf with a hammer and nails. Husband suggested I use the power nailer--which we've had for years, but somehow I missed this point. At any rate, after another short lesson, I was nailing away. I hate to say it, but I am in love. With this:

This little jewel will shoot brads 1.5" long and can be used to build almost anything small that I desire. The sky is the limit, I'm thinking...birdhouses, bookshelves, luxury cat beds. Now I'm thinking, new yard goose. The one the former owners left behind has seen better days. Or maybe I could make some more cut-out wooden cardinals, this time in 3-D! or not.

Oh yes, the results of all this fear conquering...a customized spice cupboard/niche that sits right inside my new kitchen pantry (indicated by blue lines--use your imagination).

The first photo shows the shelves in progress. The little level allowed me to line up the cleats evenly on either side.

I didn't buy any new wood for this. The cleats (parts that hold up the shelves on the sides) were plywood scraps Rudy threw away, the shelves themselves are the wooden headers that are used on the top of the old venetian blinds that were in the house when we bought it. Oh yes, I am a wood scrounger. The outside trim was leftover from the house we built 16+ years ago.

And this is the result. The shelves are primed for now, but will eventually match the baseboard trim.

Oh, and the shelves are adjustable. :-) I can't wait to load 'em up with my jars of dried herbs and spices, bottles of olive oil and vinegar.

And for those of you who have asked...YES! The AC is in and working fine. We have a few (ahem) holes to "button up" and insulate, but survived working for a few weeks without it. It ONLY got up to a balmy 94 inside. (One thing that helped a lot were two new solar attic fans that new friend, Renaissance-Man/Handy-Guy/Artist Tim Trembley installed on the roof for us.)

Happy trails from HOT Texas,

bobbi c.